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
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
This week over at Willow and Thatch, I'm reviewing the American Girl movies for anyone interested in family-friendly period films. You could say that the American Girl dolls and books were one of my first introductions to history when I was growing up, so this post holds a special place in my heart. You can… Continue reading Guest Post: American Girl Series
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
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
The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command… Continue reading The Land of the Free
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
Lately I've been nostalgic for books. It feels like forever and an age since I got to curl up on the couch and sink into a book, and so I've been pining for the days of new parenthood, when weirdly I read more consistently than I do now. Ah, for that twilight haze of chaos… Continue reading The Audio Files
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
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
A few nights ago, B finished dinner early, but she wasn't quite ready for bed. So we sat on the floor of our living room in front of the Christmas tree, classical radio playing softly in the background, and read through Peter Spier's Christmas!, one of my favorite childhood books. There are no words, only… Continue reading Slow Fall
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!
I always looked forward to the start of school with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. There was the joy of new pens and notebooks, the nerves of meeting new people, and the feeling of starting over, like I had a whole 9 months of chances to learn and work hard. The school year always… Continue reading No More Books and Studies
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
So....you may have noticed a few big changes around this site. My friend, fellow critique group member, and all-around awesome, brilliant person Gaia Cornwall designed a fresh look (just in time for spring) and made that glorious header collage on the home page. (Fun fact: Gaia used vintage images from the NYPL as well as elements from… Continue reading A Fresh Look for Spring!
On Wednesday, International Women's Day, my 6th grade history class watched Mulan to celebrate the end of our unit on ancient China. They made silly comments about the villain's appearance, laughed at Mushu, and danced along to "I'll Make a Man out of You" (which is now stuck in my head for the third day in a… Continue reading I’ll Make a Man out of You
Lately I've been indulging in an orgy of Sherlock. Not just the BBC show (although we recently finished the third episode of the latest season, and MAN was that dark), but books and radio dramas, too. Modern adaptations, stories that play the Game - I'm soaking it all up. Maybe it's due to the current political… Continue reading It’s Elementary
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
I had my very first author visit yesterday! The wonderful fourth grade at The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls, RI, hosted me to talk about how I write book reviews. They'd read my August review of Passenger in preparation to write their own reviews, and they asked fantastic questions about writing, reading, and inspiration. I shared...… Continue reading Author Visit!
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
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
In July I wrote about how I research for historical fiction projects, using my latest WIP, a historical fantasy, as an example. One of the biggest things on my mind is efficiency, especially with a new baby. I want my research to double as story planning so I can construct an outline for my book as… Continue reading How I Balance Planning and Research
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
We are still waiting on that baby over here. Meanwhile, I'm scrambling to fit in as much work on my new WIP as I can before she arrives (while taking breaks to catch up on the latest season of Sad Detectives, a.k.a. Endeavour). This project is a YA historical fantasy, which means I get to indulge… Continue reading How I Research