Blog

honesty, school, teaching, writing

In Memoriam

A few weeks ago I learned that one of my high school English teachers had passed away at age 55. Initially I was shocked; classmates and I exchanged texts and Facebook messages, trying to make sense of this sudden, unexpected loss. Then, just as quickly, the world moved on. I kept meaning to write something… Continue reading In Memoriam

book talk, historical fiction

Book Talk: American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson Random House, February 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile… Continue reading Book Talk: American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

book talk, historical fantasy, historical fiction, mentor texts

Book Talk: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee Katherine Tegen Books, October 2018 Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll… Continue reading Book Talk: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

historical fiction, movies

BlacKkKlansman: This is Why Historical Fiction Matters

I don't get out to the movies much anymore, mostly due to a combination of parenting fatigue/childcare costs/fear that the movie won't be worth the effort. But when my cousin Dan Whitener announced that his original song "We Are Gonna Be Okay," co-written with his wife Eileen Kern, was featured in Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, I knew… Continue reading BlacKkKlansman: This is Why Historical Fiction Matters

books, historical fantasy, mentor texts

Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Invictus by Ryan Graudin Little, Brown, September 2017 Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy (Time Travel) Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in ancient Rome, Far's very existence defies the laws of nature. All he's ever wanted was to explore history… Continue reading Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

guest post, movies, mystery

Guest Post: Crooked House

I'm excited to share that I have another guest post up on the lovely period-drama website Willow and Thatch. "Movie vs. Book: Crooked House" is the first in an ongoing series exploring recent adaptations of Agatha Christie's novels. Crooked House, adapted in 2017, explores the dark family secrets unearthed when detective Charles Hayward begins investigating… Continue reading Guest Post: Crooked House

guest post, research, tv shows

Guest Post: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a History

I'm thrilled to share that I have a guest post up on the period-drama website Willow and Thatch. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: A History" looks at the early history of stand up comedy, right as it was shifting from one-liners to the first-person, observational humor we recognize today. You can check out my post here.… Continue reading Guest Post: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a History

books, historical fiction, scotland

Book Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein Disney-Hyperion, May 2017 Genre: YA Historical Before Verity . . . there was Julie. When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she'd imagined won't be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather's estate, a bit banged up… Continue reading Book Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

books, feminism, listening

A Podcast, You Say? Oh, Witch, Please!

After years of my sister telling me all about her favorite podcasts and me nodding and saying I'll listen to them but forgetting to look them up, I finally got into them. And by "them" I really mean one in particular: Witch, Please, a podcast about Harry Potter, radical feminism, and literary analysis. YES. Witch, Please… Continue reading A Podcast, You Say? Oh, Witch, Please!

books, canada

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Delacorte Press, May 2014 Genre: YA Contemporary, Suspense A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends--the Liars--whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is… Continue reading Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

books, mentor texts, worldbuilding, writing

Lessons in Fantasy World-Building: Creating the Magical World

In September I wrote about Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn book, The Final Empire, and what it taught me about introducing a complex magic system in fiction. Today I want to examine how Sanderson builds his fantasy world. When you're devising a fantasy world, you're filled with so many ideas that it's so tempting to throw in everything but… Continue reading Lessons in Fantasy World-Building: Creating the Magical World

rhode island, tv shows

Paper Coffee Cups and Seeing Yourself in Stories

Today I stood in line outside a coffee shop for an hour, wearing Blueberry in our Ergobaby carrier, bouncing back and forth to help her sleep. The payoff? A plain cup of coffee in a paper cup printed with a quotation from the upcoming Gilmore Girls miniseries, and a paper sleeve printed with the Luke's diner logo. Not… Continue reading Paper Coffee Cups and Seeing Yourself in Stories

books, mentor texts, worldbuilding, writing

Lessons in Fantasy World-Building: Introducing the Magic

Josh is a HUGE fantasy fan. As in, we call the books he reads "brick-a-books" (because they're all doorstoppers). As in, he's keeping a list of all the series he's in the middle of (because the writers take an understandably long time to finish the next installments of said brick-a-book series). So now that I'm working on… Continue reading Lessons in Fantasy World-Building: Introducing the Magic

books, historical fantasy, historical fiction

Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken Disney-Hyperion, January 2016 Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy (Time Travel) Passage, n. i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes. ii. A journey by water; a voyage. iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time. In one devastating night, violin… Continue reading Book Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken