Showing posts from 2017

Weekend reads, or summer, summer, summer!

It's officially summer now, but Boston has been alternating between 80ish days and 40ish ones, so who knows. But I'm really looking forward to our summer plans: lots of day trips, some camping, catching up with friends, and lots of summer eats.

My weekend reads for this weekend is Christina Henry's Peter Pan retelling, Lost Boy. The cover is a leeeeeetle gory for my tastes, and I am using big stickies to keep Unabridged Toddler from seeing it, but otherwise, I'm very excited to dig in.

I've got a crazy book hangover from Kate Quinn's The Alice Network (review and giveaway next Mon!) so I'm glad I've got something else that should suck me in.

What are you reading this weekend?

Teaser Tuesday: The Alice Network

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Kate Quinn's marvelous The Alice Network. I'm only a fourth through but I am hardcore in love. There are a handful of badass women who dominate the book, and Quinn's trademark mix of rich detail and delightful one-liners. (Limiting myself to one teaser today was a challenge!)

This quote is from the start of the novel, when our World War I spy Eve gets her first job at a Lille-based restaurant..

Eve could see why the Germans came to dine here. It was a civilized place to relax after a long day of stamping on your conquered populace. (p103)

What are you reading right now? Any teasers to share?


A second whirlwind weekend, so my apologies for this late giveaway winner announcement!

The winner of my giveaway for Novel Destinations is ... Carrie of nomadreader!

Congrats, Carrie! I should have more giveaways coming up so don't despair -- be sure to keep reading!

Book Review: The Secret History of Jane Eyre by John Pfordresher

First line: We begin with a mystery.

I grabbed this book because of the cover (gorgeous) and the fact that I'm not a huge Jane Eyre fan and I kind of want to be. (I mean, it seems like a book I should be all over.) I love books about books, stories that dive into the nitty-gritty and ineffable magic of writing a novel. And I'm always up to learn more about books and how, possibly, to read them.

But this one really disappointed me.

Pfordresher's argument -- his 'secret history' -- is that Brontë mined her own life for Jane Eyre. (No duh.) But he pushes a literal person-for-person sort of equivalency that really disappointed me; while arguing for Brontë's creative genius, I couldn't help but feel like he was minimizing it in this manner.

There are also some intense leaps that just seemed a stretch to me. For example, Rochester's agonizing sexual frustration reflects "...a sexual energy Charlotte Brontë knew, daily, at Haworth," (p82), from the a…

Book Review: Swing Time by Zadie Smith

First line: It was the first day of my humiliation.

Unbelievably, this was my first Zadie Smith. How is that possible? I'm super embarrassed by this fact, but there it is.

The novel is narrated by a young biracial woman, recounting her childhood and early adulthood, and the things -- dance, music, education -- and people -- her mother, best friend, employer -- that shaped the direction of her life.

Passionate about dance, our narrator becomes friends with the only other biracial girl in her dance class, Tracey. Tracey is gifted at dance and her mother eagerly supports her while our narrator's mother is focused on educating herself and achieving personal happiness and success. Our narrator is shuttled to better schools and ends up becoming the assistant to a massive pop celebrity, an experience that changes her life in so many ways.

I liked this book, although I don't think its blurb does it justice -- I really expected a story about two friends -- the narrator and Tracey …

Book Review: Novel Destinations by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon

First line: "I felt as if I'd got into a novel while going about in the places I'd read so much of," Louisa May Alcott wrote in her journal after seeing the sights of Dickensian London in 1865., from the Introduction

Book-inspired travel is a favorite of mine and my wife's. On my first trip with my in-laws, they cheerfully indulged my literary nerdiness by diverting a family road trip so that I could search for poet and novelist H.D.'s grave in Bethlehem, PA. Through multiple biographies and Jackson's own writing, my wife and I pieced together a route through North Bennington, Vermont, to explore Shirley Jackson's world. And for my babymoon, my wife took me to Yaddo, famed writing center, so I could walk the grounds so many favorite authors had.

All this is to say: a book that basically does all the work and offers me many, many ways to visit my favorite literary sites is pretty much catnip for me.

In its second edition, Novel Destinations offers a va…

Wordless Wednesday, May 24

My Wordless Wednesday offering for today includes two of my current reads: Buffalo Soldier and The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece.

Have a Wordless Wednesday image to share? Link to it in the comments!

Book Review: How to Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick

First line: If you picked up this book, it's probably because you've had trouble narrowing down "what you want to be" to one thing.

I agreed to review this book purely on the title: I was unfamiliar with Wapnick and her TEDx talk on calling but have long struggled with what I "want to be when I grow up" (even now, in my mid-30s). While I love learning, I don't love it enough to want to attempt a Master's degree or expensive classes, and I've struggled with understanding if I'm happy or not in my vocation(s).

Still, I was apprehensive about this book when I started, fearing it'd be a long form essay on #YOLO (you only live once) or a passionate defense of the gig economy.

Instead, I found this a fascinating, empathetic, empowering read that acknowledges today's economic realities, the personal temperament of many people I know, and the ways current US culture is oriented toward a rigid, specialist-type career path (and how that need n…

Book Review: The White Road by Sarah Lotz

First line: I met the man who would save my life twice -- and ultimately destroy it -- on a potholed road in the arse-end of the Welsh countryside.

I grabbed this book off NetGalley because I like Mulholland Books offerings, even though adventure thrillers aren't normally my thing. But I'm glad I started this one, as it was a wonderfully diverting summer read, the kind of book that had me impatient for lunch and putting off dinner because I had to know how things would end.

Without (hopefully) giving away too much, the novel follows two mountain climbers, Simon and Juliet, who struggle with their demons as well as their aspirations. Juliet is a famed mountaineer hoping to establish herself with a historic climb, while Simon is employed by a shock journalism website that specializes in "dark" found footage.

Unsurprisingly, things unravel quickly for both Juliet and Simon, and I hung on every word. Lotz is new to me, but Stephen King is a fan of hers, among others, and…

Weekend reads and nor'easter-y Mama's Day!

This morning started chilly and drizzly but there's some sun peeking out, although it seems like it's going to be a cold, wet weekend.

My mother is flying in today for the weekend, which is a great treat, although our one big plan -- to attend Lilac Sunday -- has fallen through because, apparently, there's going to be a nor'easter on Sunday! I'll say right now I only like nor'easters if it comes with a snow day on Monday; otherwise, I've got no use for 'em!

As we're a two mama house, we'll be juggling giving each other Mama's Day time, so there will a little reading, lots of noshing, some sight seeing, and plenty of Unabridged Toddler time.

For those of you who are mamas, happy mother's day to you! And for those of you for whom this weekend is less fun because of problematic or missing mothers, you've got my love. I hope it isn't too painful.

My weekend read is Jenni L. Walsh's Becoming Bonnie, a historical novel about one h…

Book Review: Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams

First line: No one knew what to make of the new galley stoves when they arrived.

I first read this book in 2015 and adored it, and I was delighted when my book club selected it to read last month. Rereading it reminded me of what is so fabulous about this book, and I think it might be edging into one of my top ten all time favorite books. (!)

As with all the books I adore, I feel like I can't adequately explain why I loved it so and what about it was so compelling. In this case, it's everything -- the premise, the characters, the narrative style -- and this reread had me once again breathless in awe.

Williams recounts the late 18th century voyage of the Astrolabe and Boussole, two French frigates tasked with further global exploration, scientific inquiry, and cartographic correction. Each chapter follows a different crew member, and details the dramatic and tragic journey of the two ships.

I hesitate to say too much about what happened (don't google before reading) because…

Book Release Spotlight: Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh

Becoming Bonnie is another novel I've been salivating over, ever since I caught wind of it last year. It's finally out, and I'm starting it in a few days. Really excited to share the squee about this one -- and even more exciting -- the sequel, Being Bonnie, has just sold, so more Bonnie to come! The Becoming Bonnieweb page has pre-order links, an FAQ, and other fun extras (like which member of Bonnie & Clyde's gang are you?)!

Becoming Bonnie: A Novel Jenni L. Walsh Forge/Macmillan: May 9, 2017 Hardcover | 304 pages Fiction / Historical
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From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh comes the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo.

​The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family's poverty, provide for herself, and maybe so…

Book Review: The Big Adventures of Tiny House by Susan Bernardo

First line:Once there was a farmhouse in a field of hay, but as it lay sleeping, the acres gave way to a bustling city whose bright, shiny towers edged out the farmhouse, the fields and flowers.

I love the idea of tiny houses although I could never, never, never live in one. The farm where my wife works, and where Unabridged Toddler spends most of his time, has a tiny house, and so when this book was offered for review, there was no way I could pass it up.

Both my toddler and I were completely charmed by this sweet read and gorgeous illustrations. An old farmhouse is transformed into a tiny house, and he and his friend, Big Truck, travel the country and make friends. A snobbish mansion makes Tiny nervous that he's not a real home, but he quickly discovers he's home no matter what.

The text is rhyming, but not irritatingly so, and the illustrations are wonderfully bold and bright. As Tiny and his friends travel the United States, there are visible notes of multiculturalism that…

Book Review: The Fisherman's Bride by Catherine Magia

First line: You only know of me through the healing of my mother, a shadow of a woman blessed by the miracle in the Gospels of Luke, Mark, and Matthew.

This slender book explores the life of the Apostle Peter's unnamed wife, and I found it a compelling, complicated, and surprising read.

As the first line explains, the only reference to her comes from the gospels, when Jesus heals her mother; from this simple line, Magia imagines what life for this unknown woman must have been like.

I didn't know what to expect with this novel; I enjoy fiction inspired by the events and figures in the Bible, even though I'm not a fan of explicitly Christian fiction. To my great delight, Magia balances an evocative sense of place and era with a gentle reverence for Jesus as a spiritual leader.

The novel opens with our heroine facing an unwanted marriage to a much older man, but her father's apprentice Simon asks for her hand, which she accepts. But as with everything in her life, this ch…

Book Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

First line: Melissa made fun of me at school today.

I wasn't falling over myself in love with the first book in this trilogy, Sleeping Giants, but without anticipating an oh-my-god read with this one, I enjoyed it more than the first book.

The mysteries from the first book are explored in this one -- the meaning of the alien technology and the purpose for the abandoned machine now named Themis.

Whereas the first book felt more intimate, in a way, being focused on the four or five characters involved in researching this alien technology and what that research does to them, this book pulls back and starts looking at the global implications.

There are still four main characters we see things through, who give the story some heart, but much of the story is focused externally -- and with good reason. An alien robot lands in London at the start of the novel, similar to Themis but not the same, and our heroes have to scramble to figure out what the meaning of this visit is -- and if they…

Book Blast: Lilli de Jong

I think all of us passionate readers have a TBR in the thousands and we still can't help anticipating new releases. (My 2017 aspirational TBR has more books than I can read in a year, but does that stop me from adding more?! NOPE!)

I've been super curious about this historical novel, Lilli de Jong, since I caught sight of the cover and title earlier this year. Honestly, I wanted to read it based on just those two things but after reading the blurb, I'm pretty much guaranteed to pick this one up. (And, undoubtedly, do some ugly crying.)

It doesn't hurt that it's been blurbed by authors I love and admire, like Sarah McCoy, Valerie Martin, and Sandra Gulland.

You can read an excerpt at the author's website.

So, what do you think -- curious, too?

Lilli de Jong
by Janet Benton

Nan A. Talese, May 16, 2017 Hardcover & eBook; 352 Pages Genre: Fiction/Historical/Literary

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for …

Book Review: Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

First line: I was a love-struck newlywed when Hitler came to Austria.

I wanted so badly to love this book, from its stunning cover to its fabulous first line, but sadly, this one just fizzled out for me midway. It took me almost three months, to the day, to finish this book, because I spent two months ignoring it. However, I seem to be in the minority, so don't take my word for it!

The premise and characters are interesting enough, so I think this is really a case of it's-me-not-you with this book. The story alternates between Adele Bloch-Bauer, Austrian socialite and figure of many of Klimt's most famous paintings, and her niece, Maria Altmann. Both women live in fascinating times: Austria from the late 19th century through World War II, and both women live in a world of privilege and prejudice.

There's a variety of plot threads woven through the novel -- marital drama for both Adele and Maria, Adele's patronage of the arts and her passion for Klimt, Maria's s…


Did everyone have a good weekend? Mine was wicked busy but very fun, hence the very better-late-than-never! announcement for the winner of my most recent giveaway.

The winner of The Widow's House is ... Heather W.!

Congrats to the winner! Thanks to everyone who entered -- more giveaways coming up soon!

Book Review: Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King

First line: Marcus Gavius Apicius purchased me on a day hot enough to fry sausage on the market stones.

I read this 400+ page book in about 72 hours and I loved every page. It's old school fun: great characters, fabulous sense of place, evocative detail, drama in spades, and satisfying emotional peaks and dips.

The novel's narrator is Thrasius, a young slave gifted in cooking. He's purchased by Apicius, an immensely wealthy Roman determined to use his fortune, fabulous parties, and appreciation of exquisite cuisine to gain power with Caeser and his heirs.

Thankfully, Thrasius' reputation isn't exaggerated, and his skill and imagination in the kitchen -- combined with the rare, unusual, and expensive ingredients Apicius buys -- launches them both -- but also pulls them into a terrible rivalry that ends in unimaginable tragedy.

If you're not familiar with Apicius, don't wiki him; just enjoy King's revealing of his life. As I said on social media more than…

Teaser Tuesday, April 25

I am seriously obsessed with Crystal King's Feast of Sorrow, a marvelously fascinating historical novel set in ancient Rome, following the gifted slave chef Thrasius, and his ambitious epicure master, Apicius. (Today's its release, too!)

I'll be honest, I was skeptical how much sorrow or drama there could be in a book about a cook but I was so very wrong. (Give it to the Romans to drama up everything!) This book has me gripped, and I'm pretty sure I'll finish all 416 pages in less than 72 hours.

Here's my teaser from it:
I heard and felt the whoosh of wings near my head as a giant owl swooped by me and came to land on Mars's outstretched sword. (p233)What are you reading today? Any teasers to share?


Better late than never, right?!

The winner of The Illusionist's Apprentice is ... Beth C.!

Congrats to Beth!

Be sure to check out my current giveaways -- more coming!

Weekend reads and spring soon?

It's gray and rainy today, which I normally don't mind, but I'm also headache-y (allergies?) and super stressed about work, so everything is just annoying to me. (I'm pretty sure a gorgeous day would send me into a snit, so really, I'm not safe for human consumption.)

I'm chugging along merrily on my novel (my nine-month class wraps up in June!) and while I'm only just at Part 2, it feels like a better draft than I've ever had before. I feel like I've finally "gotten" how to do drafts without self editing so much, and it's such a relief. The story doesn't come easily, but at least I'm nitpicking at it less! 

My weekend read is Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King and it is faaaaaaaaahbulous. I'm really loving it, and I hope I get to log some serious reading time. (Dubious -- Unabridged Toddler got a new batch of library books and has been pleading for a day at the Children's Museum.)

What are you reading this weekend?

Release Spotlight: The Book of Air by Joe Treasure

As I mentioned in my Top Ten Tuesday post, I love books inspired by classic lit, and I'm really really excited for this new release, The Book of Air, which imagines a future in which society is governed by Jane Eyre (!!!). I'll be reviewing it in May.

The Book of Air
Clink Street Publishing (4/4/17)

Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.

Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must d…

Book Review: The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

First line: When I picture the house I see it in the late afternoon, the golden river light filling the windows and gilding the two-hundred-year-old brick.

I love ghost stories; I love haunted house stories. Add in the magical combo of "The Yellow Wallpaper" meets Rebecca, and I am sold.

Our heroine, Clare, is the devoted wife to Jess, a writer whose runaway debut landed him fame and some fortune, but now faces writer's block as he wrestles with his second book. They move to Clare's hometown in the Hudson Valley, an area dominated by apple farms. Most everything is out of their price range, but they find they can live rent free at the decrepit River House if they act as groundskeepers -- a house owned by their former literature professor, Alden Montague -- Monty.

The find is serendipitous: Jess and Monte get along swimmingly, and despite some weird moments -- ghostly figures and crying babies at 3am -- Clare finds satisfaction in cleaning up Monty's home and nurt…

Top Ten Tuesday, April 18

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The themes change, but it's always about the top ten for you!

This week's top ten Tuesday theme is: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book.

Let's see if I can limit myself to 10!

Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book:
Noir/Noirish/Noir-Inspired: I love me a good femme fatale, and a man who doesn't want to be a chump; I love double crosses and triple crosses, and anti-heroes and depressing one night stands. Anything reeking of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, or Hughes wins with me.
Archaeologists: Between Indiana Jones and the Vesper Holly books, adventurous archaeologists were imprinted on me as a kid and I'm just a sucker for archaeologists in fiction.
Sea Monsters: I'm completely and totally freaked by sea monsters (although I kind of like the ocean, I vastly prefer the clear Caribbean to the murky New England Atlantic, where obviously some…

Book Review: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

First line: I looked like a girl you’d expect to see on a city bus, reading some clothbound book from the library about plants or geography, perhaps wearing a net over my light brown hair.

I pretty much wanted to read this one the moment it came out; between the cover, the Boston setting, and the sense of noir-ish-ness I got from the plot, it seemed like a sure hit for me. I made it the January pick for my book club and ... I'm glad I read this book, but I'm really ambivalent about it. (Most of my book club hated it, although more than one person admired the raw narrative style.)

Set around Christmas in 1963, the novel is narrated by Eileen. A much older Eileen tells us this story, and she offers up her younger self on a platter, unvarnished and exposed.

Eileen works as a secretary in a boy's juvenile detention facility/prison. She lives with her father, an retired police office and alcoholic who is plagued by terrors (and perhaps mental illness). Eileen's life shuttle…

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, April 11

I'm doing First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea, in which you post the first paragraph of the first chapter of the book you're reading (or going to read).

My excerpt today is from Naomi J. Williams' stunning and fabulous Landfalls. This is a reread for me; I first read this when it came out in 2015 and uh-dored it, and to my great delight, my book club picked it for our read this month, thus giving me an excuse to dive back in.

No one knew what to make of the new galley stoves when they arrived. There were two -- one for each ship -- and they came by boat, first for the Boussole and then for the Astrolabe, disassembled into their cumbersome components and accompanied by a foul-mouthed shipyard locksmith charged with installing them.

What are you reading right now? Share your intro with me!

Book Review: 1,001 Ways to Slow Down by Barbara Ann Kipfer

This beautifully illustrated volume does just what the title promises, offering 1,001 ways to slow down.

In her introduction, Kipfer writes about "living at the speed that brings you the most joy and satisfaction", which resonated deeply with me. I'm not a slow person by nature, but I could use with more reminders to be attentive to the moment.

Designed to be cracked open when needed, rather than read through in a sitting, this book is like a zen friend who offers those reminders without judgment. The tips range from the easy -- Slow down and enjoy eating. -- to the more complicated -- Consider a move to a smaller house. -- so every suggestion may not be right for each reader. But even those that really weren't or won't be applicable to me -- Chop your own wood. -- still offered me a moment of pause -- and really, isn't that what it's about?

I found immediate use for this book from the day it arrived -- a random page offered the perfect centering sentim…

Teaser Tuesday, April 4

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme where readers share a teaser from their current read. It was started by MizB of Books and a Beat.

My teaser for today comes from the start of Carol Goodman's The Widow's House.

"It's the color of old money," Jess said, his voice full of longing. (p1)

I'm a sucker for openings like this.

What are you reading today? Any good teasers to share?

Book Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

First line: Agent Elliot Matthews stared down a firing squad.

Kristy Cambron is a new-to-me author, but from the reviews I've seen, she's got a devoted fan base. This wasn't a read for me, but I can appreciate why so many love her books.

Set in the high-flying 1920s in Boston, this novel follows illusionist Wren Lockhart (born Jennifer Charles). At the book's open, a spiritualist debunked by Harry Houdini seems to bring a man back from the dead -- who then promptly dies again -- and the FBI think it's murder.

As Houdini's former assistant, Wren comes to the attention of the two agents -- especially when a piece of paper with her real name is found on the dead man.

From there, the novel moves through multiple mysteries, like solving the murder, as well as Wren's mysterious background, including the sister she staunchly tries to protect.

Cambron does a great job evoking the details of the era, from Wren's distinctive style of dress (men's tuxedos) to …

Weekend reads and more snow?

It seems unlikely that March will go out like a lamb as we're facing some windy, wet days ahead of us!

I wish I'd be snuggled in for long stretches of reading, but the toddler has stopped napping (nooooooooooooooooooooo!) so I'll be playing (and undoubtedly reading!) with him.

Among my many reads at the moment (I'm doing the start-a-bunch-and-see-what-sticks browse/read thing right now) is Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys. It's inspired by/set in Lovecraft's world of watery sea gods and I'm deeply excited.

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Review: The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

First line: On a warm December day in 1884, the Temptation was leaving Hawaii, as well as the nineteenth century, and her destination was entirely in my hands.

I had been on pins and needles for this book after inhaling (and loving) the previous novel, The Girl From Everywhere (which also made my top ten of 2016). I'm really wrestling over whether this book was as good as the first one -- or better -- and it's given me a serious book hangover.

I'm not sure I can really recap the story without getting into the weeds, and I really don't want to give away anything crucial. Our heroine, Nix, and her father, Slate, have the ability to travel through time, and to any place, if given a map of said time/place. 

Picking up immediately where The Girl From Everywhere ended, this book dives into the now what? of the Nix's life and abilities. They've got a new crew member who has just learned about Nix and her father Slate and their incredible ability to sail through time;…

Weekend reads and, I don't know, shortbread?

I'm starting a bunch of books this weekend because why not?

Among them are Amberlough, a gay spy thriller that's allegedly "Le Carre meets Cabaret" (uhm, yum!); and two Lovecraftian-inspired novels, The Night Ocean, about a man obsessed with Lovecraft; and Winter Tide, a novel that takes place in the world of monsters Lovecraft imagined. I'm super excited about all three and have been for a while.

(I'm also showing off the utterly deeeevine raisin-and-carraway seed shortbread my wife made in honor of St. Patrick's Day.)

Otherwise, stuff has been happening, and also, not much. Current political climate sucks, and I'm divided over liking the snow storm(s) and kind of wanting spring here.

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Review: Bleaker House by Nell Stevens

First line: This is a landscape an art-therapy patient might paint to represent depression: grey sky and a sweep of featureless peat rising out of the sea.

Pretty much the moment I laid eyes on the cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. And then when I learned the premise -- a memoir of a novelist who spent three months on an isolated island in the Falklands wrestling with her novel -- I knew I seriously had to read it.

Upon finishing her MFA, Nell Stevens learns that there's funding to support her traveling anywhere in the world so she may work on her writing for three months. Craving time alone, Stevens settles on Bleaker Island, part of the Falklands. Her memoir shifts between her time on Bleaker, her time before Bleaker, snippets of her novel in progress as well as other fiction, and other ephemera (like her travel proposal, with snarky annotations).

Her narrative style is just lovely, quotable sentence after quotable sentence (you can read a long excerpt of the hila…