Sunday, March 27, 2016

Some Updates

Why, hello! It has been some time, hasn't it?

A lot has happened since I last wrote. Namely, I started a new job at Penguin Random House and moved to New York City. When I think about that -- when I see those words written on the screen -- I start to spaz. In a good way.

When I started this blog, I was a freshman at the College of William & Mary. I liked to write, but I thought I was going to be an archaeologist. I knew a lot about publishing thanks to my addiction to agent extraordinaire Janet Reid's blogs, but I hadn't considered it as a career path. Until, suddenly, I did.

I tried everything to make my way in publishing. I took a remote internship at a literary agency. I talked to industry professionals. I read, read, read. I went to the New York University Summer Publishing Institute. I took another internship. I applied to more jobs than I care to admit.

Then, it happened -- and here I am.

I still love to write, but I'm thrilled to join the industry. I'm eager for new adventures in publishing!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Best of 2015 - Characters

Now that the year is coming to a close, I've decided to do a series of posts highlighting the many wonderful books I've read this year. It's my own personal Best of 2015. While I've read many recent books, my list isn't based on books published in 2015, but books I've read in 2015.

A few days ago I did a Best Overall, but there are so many great things about so many different books that I've decided to get a little more specific. In a sense, I'm making Oscar-esque categories. Today, I'm highlighting characters.

Note:  I will occasionally highlight a series rather than a single book.

Best Female Protagonist

Yael, Revka, Aziza, and Shirah

Shirah, Aziza, and Yael from the BBC Miniseries.
Unfortunately, Revka was cut from it.
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

There is no single protagonist in The Dovekeepers (the runner-up for Best Overall - Adult); rather, the story follows four incredible women during the siege of Masada. There's Yael, an assassin's daughter, who has lived her life as an outcast; Revka, an elderly baker's wife who witnesses the brutal murder of her family; Aziza, a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the warriors fighting the Romans; and Shirah, a witch whose magic infiltrates everyone's lives. Unique and courageous, these women rely on their friendship with each other as they confront one of the darkest moments in Jewish history.

Best Male Protagonist

Kaz Brekker

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

One of the greatest things about Kaz is that he earns the reader's trust. Just as he proves himself to his Crows (who give Team Raven a run for their money as far as best group dynamic goes), he convinces the reader that he'll lead them safely through this story. He's brilliant, brutal, and easy to root for.

Best Supporting Male

Prince Nikolai
Did I mention that his ship(s) can fly?
Image from
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Nikolai is perfect, hence his nickname "Prince Perfect." When he isn't busy in his role as the dashing prince of Ravka, he's designing brilliant inventions or playing at being the Dread Pirate Roberts -- er, I mean, Captain Sturmhond. Sharp-tongued and witty, he knows how to make light of any situation.

Best Supporting Female


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Nina is my favorite of the Crows. She's fun, loyal, and she kicks ass. She is a great female character involved in a strong romantic relationship, but she isn't defined by it at all. With her willingness to crush hearts (literally) pair with her appreciation for nice clothes, she proves that girls can be strong without having to sacrifice their femininity.

Best Ensemble

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

I love huge casts of characters, which is one of the many reasons I'm drawn to Stiefvater's delightful series. The number of main characters alone is large -- Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah -- especially considering that four-fifths of them get their own PoV. Then there's everyone else, but in this case, everyone else is like frosting on a cupcake. The psychics, for instance, are a pure delight, especially when trying to outwit the Grey Man -- who, for the record, is my favorite character in the series. A badass hit man with a soft spot for medieval poetry? Yes, please. Then there's Joseph Kavinsky, Greenmantle and Piper, the Lynch brothers, and a whole host of others who bring the story to life.

Best Friend Group

Blue & the Raven Boys
Adam, Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Noah
Image from
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue meeting Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah is the best thing since Harry met Ron and Hermione. Seriously, they have a fantastic group dynamic -- one of the best I've seen in any book. They all have really strong personalities, but they balance each other out perfectly. In short, I want to hang out with them.

Best Villain

The Darkling

The quote at which point you realize that all hope is lost.
Image from
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Swoon. Seriously, the Darkling is all kinds of sexy, especially when you imagine him cutting a nice figure in his flowing black kaftan. But that's not why he's a great villain. The embodiment of darkness, he is cunning and ruthless, but he shows enough weaknesses -- for Alina, for his mother -- that he remains human. The fact that he doubles as a love interest makes him especially wonderful. Even though the Darkling and Alina spend most of the series plotting to kill each other, they tend to end up doubting that aim -- usually while making out.

Best Comic Relief

Noah Czerny

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Even though he's the least important, Noah is my favorite of the Raven Boys. He doesn't crack jokes, but his very presence amuses me. SPOILER ALERT. He's a ghost, and he is incredibly sensitive about being a ghost, especially when the other boys pick on him (i.e. when Ronan pushes him out a window just because he can). He also enjoys bad Irish music.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Best of 2015 - The Basics

Now that the year is coming to a close, I've decided to do a series of posts highlighting the many wonderful books I've read this year. It's my own personal Best of 2015. While I've read many recent books, my list isn't based on books published in 2015, but books I've read in 2015.

Note:  I will occasionally highlight a series rather than a single book.



I picked up this fantasy on a whim. I never expected to fall in love with it, but the lush prose, mystical setting, and delightful dialogue drew me in immediately. The complex characters leap off the page, inviting you into their dreams and heartaches as they face an enemy that is both unique and terrifying. In three words:  beautiful, dark, romantic.

Young Adult

I could not choose just one. The two series are so different, but they both took my breath away. With Bardugo, I was caught up in the romance of it all. Never before have I seen a protagonist fall in love with an antagonist who is really an antagonist. Not an anti-hero. Not a Beast-like figure who changes for the sake of Beauty. No, a real villain who's evil and stays evil. Gorgeous and heart-wrenching, the relationship between Alina and the Darkling will keep you guessing -- and rooting for them -- until the very end.

The Raven Cycle is just as delightful. The story of five friends who get tangled up in magic during their hunt for a long-dead Welsh king, it's exciting and touching -- and most of all, hilarious. While the very realistic characters offer plenty of touching moments, the series stands out for its ability to get a laugh. And it has everything:  psychics, street racing, hit men, teenage ghosts, forgotten kings, aerial yoga, enchanted forests, secret tunnels, and bees. Seriously, what more could you want?

Middle Grade

Set in Oaxaca, Mexico during the 1950s, this book explores the forbidden friendship between a poor Mexican boy, Teo, and a Roma girl, Esma. Their zest for life impacts everyone around them. The writing is beautiful; the story is moving. And Teo is never without his orphaned duck, blind goat, and three-legged skunk, which is tons of fun.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

History Time! Eastern State Penitentiary

Cellblock 7. (I think?)
I have been to Eastern State Penitentiary plenty of times. For years, I have made a point to do their Terror Behind The Walls haunted house every Halloween. If you haven't done it, you should. It's considered one of the best haunted houses in the country -- and the location makes it extra cool.

A few days ago, I visited Eastern State for the not-haunted tour. And it's awesome. As a big history nerd, I have seen plenty of old sites, but the penitentiary is one of the most interesting.

Construction began in 1822 and the first inmate arrived in 1829. Until it closed in 1970, it housed thousands of men and women, among them some of the nation's most notorious criminals, the most famous being Al Capone.

Despite being abandoned for twenty years, the penitentiary is relatively intact. A few places have been reconstructed (i.e., the synagogue, Al Capone's cell), but the majority of the site is considered a "stabilized ruin."

If you're in Philly, check it out!

The kitchens!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

This Week in Google Searches (8/8)

As usual, I was at a loss for what to write on my blog, so I decided to "write what's on my mind." The best way to sum up what's on my mind, I've realized, is by looking at my Google searches.

How do you address a sultan?

Your Majesty

No, I'm not going to meet any sultans anytime soon. However, if you know me, you know I'm fascinated with Turkey. I research the Ottoman Empire for funsies. And until this week, I didn't know how to address a sultan. Now I do. And so do you.

You're welcome.

How do you find your previous Google searches?

I realized that "Things I've Googled" might make for an interesting blog post. Unfortunately, I can't remember the things I've Googled, but it turns out, Google does! Just go to your Google History! If you don't know how to get to that, I suggest you Google it.

For Such a Time

I found out about this book through Elana Roth Parker, a literary agent who was discussing the problems with For Such a Time on Twitter. Turns out, For Such a Time by Kate Breslin is a romance novel about a death camp inmate and a Nazi -- and that's a big problem. Nazis are not romantic heroes. Genocide is not sexy. You can read more about the issues with this book here.

Hungarian Surnames

"Farkas" is Hungarian. And for writing purposes, I needed more Hungarian surnames.

Cherry Hill Public Library Summer Reading

AWW YEAH BRING ON THE READING CHALLENGE. Turns out, for every book I read, I can get a raffle ticket to win a Kindle! Considering I read like crazy, that's a lot of raffle tickets.

Of course, I had to enter the "adult" category. I hope I don't have to read "adult" books, considering the vast majority of books I read are MG and YA.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review - A PIRATE'S COMMAND by Meg Hennessy

The jacket copy:

His secrets could destroy her... 

New Orleans, 1817

Colette Kincaid once knew such love and delicious passion in the arms of her pirate husband, Donato de la Roche. Yet Colette could not continue to live as the wife of a pirate, when reunited with her family. So she fled, taking their son with her and reconciling herself to never seeing her husband again...

Until their son is taken.

Donato is convinced his wife is behind his son's disappearance-just as she is convinced he is the villain. Now they're unable to leave each other's side as they seek their child, forced to confront the desire that still smolders between them. But Donato knows that soon he must face the secret about Colette he's been hiding for so long. And it's a secret for which there is no forgiveness...

Thank you to Entangled and NetGalley for a free ARC.

Overall: 3/5 stars.

All right. Well, I picked this one up because of the Spanish pirate. Of course I'd want to read that. Good premise, but the plot moves along slowly. That's this book's biggest fault. It's SLOW. I wanted more tension. More mystery.

I did, however, enjoy the characters. Colette is a little bland, and Donato isn't as pirate-y as I would have liked, but the side characters are fascinating. I liked Colette's brothers, Jordan and Loul, and I would have liked to see more of them. And then Rayna. I'm guessing the author is going to write a third novel with Rayna as the star, and if that's the case, I might give it a shot. We don't see her all that much, but the few times we do, she's COOL. Smart. Dangerous. Ruthless. I liked her.

What else can I say? Good job with nautical terms. Not such a good job with the Spanish. I often found myself quoting Inigo Montoya: "I don't think that word means what you think it means…"

I appreciate the historical time period. Yay Peninsular Wars! However, I wanted more more MORE.

Not bad. I'm certainly interested in this book's predecessor, which tells Jordan's story, and if there is a Rayna tale on the way, I'll probably check it out. If you're interested, you can find A Pirate's Command on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Wow.  Just…wow.

This book left me breathless.  If you know me at all, then you know that I'm a huge middle grade fan. I read a lot of it. And The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau is one of the best. Someone give this book a Newbery.

Seriously. The Lightning Queen is a heartfelt story that will stick with you long after you read the last page. And it will make you cry. It's that good.

The book alternates between the 1950s and present day as Teo tells his grandson, Mateo, the story of his friendship with Esma, the Gypsy Queen of Lightning. Thus, the vast majority of the book takes place in 1950s Oaxaca.

Resau does a phenomenal job of bringing rural Mexico to life. As I read, I felt as though I were standing on the Hill of Dust, the close-knit village in which Teo lives. I smelled the animals. I heard the river. I tasted the atole.

When a caravan of Gypsies spends a few days on the Hill of Dust, Teo meets Esma, a spirited young girl left crippled by polio. Her grandmother, the Mistress of Destiny, makes a prediction that Teo and Esma will be friends for life -- despite the fact that Mixtecos and Rom don't mix. Teo and Esma set out to make their fortune come true, and in doing so, they change the lives of everyone around them.

This book is a lot of fun -- how can you not love Teo's animal companions? -- but it deals with a lot of heavy themes. Prejudice, of course, is the obvious one, but then there's death and grief and depression, all of which Resau handles beautifully. Not everyone gets a happy ending. And it works.

So pick up this book. Read it. Love it.

Now onto the "pairing," if you will. After reading this book, I was craving Mexican food like crazy, so I went to a restaurant called Oaxaca Taqueria in the Upper West Side. It's a total dive, but it's delicious -- and pretty cheap. Their papas y rajas enchiladas are on point.

I'm still hunting for atole. Any suggestions?