Bookish Friday, Non-Fiction

Favorite Nonfiction

As I’m currently listening to Kitchen Confidential and crying randomly about how the world is worse off without Anthony Bourdain’s storytelling, I’ve been thinking more and more about the nonfiction that has touched my heart just as much as works of fiction.

1. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

My first Bourdain. Like your first cocktail or boyfriend or first trip abroad or first food that you really, truly loved, you never forget your first Bourdain.

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2. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Need some inspiration? Decided it’s time to make a change in your life? Pick #Girlboss, Sophia does not disappoint.

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3. The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Thought you knew a lot about World War II? Think again. The stories these women share are absolutely incredible and many will shake you to the core.

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4. Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake was the book that first made me realize that I can read nonfiction and like it. He epitomizes the phrase “novelistic nonfiction.”

Dead Wake

5. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

One cannot call oneself a feminist without having read about the greatness that is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Notorious RBG

Bookish Friday

Favorite Books Set in the UK

It’s been a crazy week. I haven’t actually finished a book in over two weeks, and didn’t write my last two scheduled reviews… and I’m getting ready to leave for London on Tuesday to spend some quality time with my sister. Needless to say, my head is spinning a bit with everything that needs to be done both at work and at home before I go. But I just can’t stop thinking about how great it will be to actually take a trip in less than a week. So for that reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite UK based books. Some of my favorites (seven) are below, in no particular order, and all titles link to the review!

1. The Royal We by Heather Cox & Jessica Morgan

Basically, Will & Kate fanfiction, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Setting: Oxford & London

Royal We

2. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Could this list be complete without Harry Potter? No, I daresay, it could not.
Setting: Scotland, London, various countryside locations

Harry Potter (2)

3. The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper

While the first book in the series doesn’t take place in the UK, the entirety of the second and third books do so it is very worthy of inclusion on this list!
Setting: Primarily London, various countryside locations

Montmaray

4. All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Not only does the first book take place in Oxford in the present day, the second takes place in Elizabethan England!
Setting: Oxford, London, historical London, various countryside locations

Discovery of Witches

5. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Set in an idyllic Scottish town, The Bookshop on the Corner is one of my favorite books about books.
Setting: Rural Scotland

Bookshop on the Corner

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

I cannot wait to see this movie, will it please hurry up and come to the US already?
Setting: Guernsey, London

142-Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

7. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic features not just one London, but three! The original London is set during the reign of mad King George, known to us colonials as the king we fought against for independence, the other two are parallel magical Londons with a third waiting in the wings.
Setting: Historical & Alternate Universe Londons

Darker Shade of Magic

Bookish Friday

Meeting Authors, Round Two

In the last few months I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet some spectacular authors and I can happily report that they were all spectacularly down to earth human beings. Below is an ode to four amazing women.

Christina Lynch

Years ago, Ben, my husband, found a book at the indie bookstore I now work at called City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte, handed it to me and said he thought it’d be perfect for me.  I loved it – it’s one of my all-time favorite books (and probably one of the moments that confirmed that he totally “gets” me). Flash forward quite a few years to last week when I’m running an author event with Christina Lynch at the bookstore and low and behold, she mentions that she’s one of the two authors who wrote the book under the pen name Magnus Flyte. I proceeded to freak out, called Ben and he, in true spectacular husband form, found the books on the shelf (no small feat) and braved First Friday traffic in our town to bring them over to the store and make my reading life complete. Christina could not have been kinder and more gracious and thanked me for recommending her books (even if I didn’t realize it at the time!)

Christina Lynch

Deborah Harkness

One of my pen pals, Sophie, and I read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy when each book came out together. So when our event coordinator at the store told me that Deb was coming to the store, well, let’s just say I freaked out a bit. She’s an absolutely delightful human being and I can’t wait to run into her again in August when I run the All Souls Con 5K!

Deborah Harkness

L. E. DeLano

If you don’t already follow L. E. on WordPress, you should (her name is the link above). She is not only a wonderful YA author and the top selling debut author at the Towne Book Center, but an amazingly strong and inspiring woman. Every time she agrees to stop by the store and help me out with a project, plan her book launch party, or volunteer her time with our young writers, it makes my heart sing. Traveler was one of my favorite reads of 2017 and L. E.’s voice is a fresh addition to the YA fantasy realm.

L. E. & Devon

Laini Taylor

Continuing the theme of remarkably sweet and kind authors who are generous with their time, Laini Taylor! My coworker Jennifer and I have both read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and while we were wandering around BEA last week, we spotted her chilling in her publisher’s booth and, not wanting to take up too much of her time, but still wanting to say something, I simply thanked her for writing her books. She then proceeded to talk books with us for over 5 minutes (which in that setting is an eternity) and even agreed to a picture. An amazing lady she certainly is.

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Bookish Friday

Book Expo 2018

Every spring my boss sends the children’s buyer, Jennifer, and I on an adventure to New York City for Book Expo. Here are some highlights from the 2018 iteration!

Reasons for Attending Book Expo

The reasons for wanting to attend Book Expo are wide ranged and varied, for booksellers, like myself and the two colleagues who joined me, they are as follows:

  • Meet authors! This one is pretty much a given, for my fangirling over Leigh Bardugo last year, see my meeting authors post here.
  • Get exclusive ARCs/Galleys – this one is less important for booksellers and more of a highlight for librarians and bloggers who primarily attend BookCon held immediately after Book Expo. As booksellers, we just email our reps afterwards and ask them to send us the ones we saw/heard about at Book Expo.
  • Sidelines – while Book Expo isn’t nearly as big as the Gift Show, it does give us bookstore buyers some neat opportunities to look into different sideline items to bring into the store.
  • Meeting other booksellers – the ABA (American Booksellers Association) is a pretty tight group and most of us get to know each other within just a few years of entering the world of Indie Bookstores.

Highlights from This Year

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Within 10 minutes of walking into the Javits Center in NYC, we were standing in front of Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman trying not to completely freak out. Nick called my coworker Mary a Book Expo virgin when she mentioned it was her first time at Book Expo and then he exclaimed he was happy to take her Book Expo virginity – what a fun pair of authors! We thanked them for coming out to NYC to visit with us and he thanked us for selling his books and recommending them to readers!

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Bumping into Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy while she was chilling in the Hachette booth – she was spectacularly delightful and took time to talk with us about her books and bookseller life!

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The sheer scope and size of Book Expo was remarkable less overwhelming this year for what I perceived to be one very marked difference. The vast majority of attendees were educators and booksellers – not book bloggers and members of the general public (booksellers who are also bloggers, like me, fall into the first category for these purposes) – meaning tomorrow and Sunday will surely by crazy for BookCon. I attended BookCon only once, back in 2015, and I will never do so again. Book Expo, on the other hand, was far more organized and enjoyable this year than it was last year.

Bookish Friday

Places in Books I’d Love to Visit

One of the best parts about reading is losing yourself in the place and time of a book. Below are my & Laura’s top 5 places in books that we’d love to visit. Only one is a real place, but for another two, we had the chance to visit the film set!

1. Hogwarts (Harry Potter)

This should require little explanation – as a pair of now later 20-somethings, Harry Potter is a defining factor of our generation and we sat at home many days hoping an owl would show up with our acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Our 11th birthdays were hugely disappointing in that regard. Though our mom did take us to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when it first opened, so we’ve gotten about as close as we can to Hogwarts!

2. Neverland (Peter Pan)

I have, and always will, love Peter Pan. I’ve dreamed of Neverland for as long as I can remember, pretended to be Peter Pan, everything, the works. If anyone knows of a surefire was to find oneself some pixie dust, please do let me know!

3. Guernsey (Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society)

The obsession with Guernsey was Laura’s at first, and then when she found out I have a pen pal on the island, it intensified greatly. When the movie was announced and I decided to read the book, we both got very excited. And, as opposed to Neverland and Hogwarts, this one is actually real so we might eventually get there!

4. Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings The Hobbit)

So this one is a slight cheat because a, we haven’t actually read LotR or The Hobbit, and b, we’ve already been to the set of Hobbiton from the movies. But! It was 12 years ago and we want to c, read the books, and d, go back because the hobbit holes are more than just white washed plywood these days.

5. Velaris (A Court of Mist & Fury)

To anyone who has read Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series this one should be a big old “duh.” It is described in just normalcy and beauty and with a bright starry sky, who wouldn’t want to go there? Downside, it’s not a real place so this one will forever exist in my dreams.

Bookish Friday

Happy 1 Year Blogiversary!

TODAY is the ONE YEAR anniversary of this particular iteration of Celebration of Books on the Interwebs! Geez, what a mouthful! And what a wonderful year of books it has been!

A BIG GIGANTIC THANK YOU!

When I first started transitioning the old site onto WordPress, I didn’t really have any real expectations of what I wanted out of it. My sister and I had always thought of Celebration of Books as just that, our own celebration of the books we read and if other people happened to like reading the reviews, that was strictly a bonus. Well, boy did all of you lovely readers surprise us!

Blog Stats Since May 11, 2017…

Posts: 150+ • Followers: 100+ (Thank you all!) • Likes: 530+ • Visitors: 1,130+ • Views: 1,430+

Just, wow!

Book Stats Since May 11, 2017…

Laura & I have reviewed:

Fiction (97 books) vs. Nonfiction (50 books)

Fiction Subgenre: Fantasy (43 books) vs. Historical Fiction (26 books)

Nonfiction Subgenre: Sociology (12 books) vs. Memoirs & Biographies (28 books)

Thank you again for joining us on this adventure and we look forward to another fun year of reading!

Bookish Friday

Characters I Would Want as Friends

This week hasn’t been the greatest, but my super awesome friends have made it better. And while I wouldn’t trade a one of them, if I had to pick 5 characters to bring to be BFFs with, these lovelies would be the ones!

1. Emilia in Salt to the Sea

As a character who didn’t even speak the same language as most of the others, she still managed to be a fiercely loyal companion who would do anything for her newfound friends.

Salt to the Sea

2. Penelope in Royally Matched

It’s not often that a character in a new adult romance makes me think too deeply, but Penelope is the best sister that Sarah could have ever had. She made her step out of her comfort zone, but also stayed with her and defended her when needed. Truth be told, I’m probably more like Penelope and my sister is more like the protagonist, Sarah.

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3. Maddie in Code Name Verity & Rose Under Fire

Without spoiling too much, Maddie committed the ultimate act of friendship – it doesn’t get any better than Maddie and how fiercely she fought to get back to Verity.

Code Name Verity (2)

4. Hermione in Harry Potter

This one shouldn’t need a whole lot of explanation – how many times did she save Harry & Ron’s lives?

Harry Potter (3)

5. Mor, Cassian, Azriel, Lucien, etc. in A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy

A Court of Mist and Fury is so crazy friendship heavy it is absolutely amazing. Probably the closest resemblance to me and my friends that I’ve found thus far, and boy am I lucky to be able to say that!

ACOWAR (2)

Bookish Friday

The Wonderful World of Fandoms

Imagine you are a person who loves your favorite books with a fiery passion and want nothing more than to share that love with others. Then, you’re scrolling through the world of Bookstagram (#bookstagram) on Instagram and you stumble across this really cool collection of bookmarks and posters celebrating classic books advertised by this company called Nerdy Post, and they’ve featured, in particular, the great Pride and Prejudice. What do you do? Obviously, you subscribe immediately and then ask them if you can write a blog post about them!

Nerdy Post 1
Image via Nerdy Post Instagram @nerdy.post

Authorial Note: I am writing this post because I genuinely love and enjoy subscribing to Nerdy Post. I am not a rep, nor have I been paid to post about this company. I genuinely love them and what to share their awesomeness with fellow booklovers!

Welcome to the Fandoms

When I used to think of Fandoms, I thought of groups of people who shipped certain characters, spoke to each other in a language those outside the fandom couldn’t understand, and cosplayed at as many conventions as they could. This description is also an accurate description of my and my sister’s love of Harry Potter, our first foray into the fandom world.

Favorite Fandom #1: Harry Potter

 

I have a friend who holds a yearly Harry Potter weekend at her house – everyone is sorted, plays house trivia, Quidditch pong, eats from the HP cookbook, dresses in robes, etc. I thought we were slightly insane, but when, over the course of the last 2 years, Nerdy Post has done 4 different renditions of Harry Potter from the original books to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I realized we are far from alone! When it comes to fandoms, the HP one can be very divided, particularly along house lines, but in general, as HP is the book of my generation, most set aside any differences and embrace what J. K. Rowling did to bring the Wizarding World to millions of children around the world.

Favorite Fandom #2: Sarah J. Maas

 

When I first started reading Throne of Glass years ago, I wanted everyone I met to read it. I’ve waxed eloquent before about how amazing Sarah is and while I kind of wish I could have kept the fandom to myself for a bit longer, I’m glad this one has attracted many wonderful artists, like Alexis of Nerdy Post, because the fan art for her two series, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses is absolutely amazing! Now I just need some SJM Funko Pop figures and my life will be complete!

Favorite Fandom #3: Sherlock Holmes

 

But Sarah, you’ll say, you told us you didn’t like Sherlock Holmes back when you reviewed A Study in Scarlet. Ah, yes, this is true. However, I have loved just about every Sherlock Holmes adaptation I have found and read or seen, so I think I can count myself a member of the fandom. One of my favorite things about Nerdy Post is that if a book has been turned into a movie, both are included in the monthly box of that particular theme.

Favorite Fandom #4: Peter Pan

Peter Pan

I have loved Peter Pan for as long as I can remember. I’ve acted out scenes, forced my best friend as a kid (a dude) to play Wendy to my Peter Pan, obsessively watched Mary Martin perform on stage as Peter Pan, my obsession runs so deep, my husband bought me tickets to the Arden’s children’s theater production for Christmas. It was the two of us, and 100 families with small children. Needless to say, my love knows no bounds, even if Peter can be a bit of a twat. This is also my official pitch to Nerdy Post to do a Peter Pan themed box!

Favorite Fandom #5: Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings
Image via Nerdy Post Instagram @nerdy.post

As an avid Dungeons & Dragons player, I find it only fitting that I love the material from which the RPG draws a great deal of inspiration. I have tried many times to make my way through the books, but alas have yet to be successful in such endeavors. However, I have watched all the movies, repeatedly, and visited Hobbiton (aka Matamata, New Zealand) and I love what the other fans of Lord of the Rings have created. The Nerdy Post box dedicated to LotR was by far a favorite!

Other Past Nerdy Post Fandom Features

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Classics – Mostly Austen and the Brontes
  • Outlander
  • Game of Thrones
  • Pixar & Dreamworks
  • Marvel
  • Disney
  • Star Wars
  • Stephen King
Bookish Friday

Cozy Snowy Winter / Rainy Spring Reads

Apparently winter hasn’t had enough of the East Coast yet and we’re due to get another snowstorm tomorrow. In April. I’m sick of it. However, there are certain books that I will always revisit on a snowy day, because what is better on a snowy day than a large stack of books and tall mug of hot chocolate?

Traveler by L. E. DeLano

I love a fun traveling book when I am trapped inside and L. E. DeLano just happens to be one of my favorite local authors whose book launch for Traveler we happened to do in the middle of winter in the midst of a bit of snow flurries. Traveler is a great YA fantasy/science fiction hybrid that also includes characters with diverse abilities.

Traveler

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Literally set in the snowy wasteland of Siberia, Between Shades of Gray is a WWII story about what happened to the Baltic states during the war and their relationship with the Soviet Union. While Ruta is known better for her more recent book, Salt to the Sea, a companion to Between Shades of Gray, this one is my top pick for winter.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

A dark, rich, fantastic fantasy is perfect for a snow day and it doesn’t get much better than Uprooted. Naomi’s personification of the woods around her main characters adds an level of creepiness that makes Uprooted perfect for reading this time of year. Plus, Spinning Silver is coming out in July and it’s always good to reread a favorite from an author before their next book comes out!

Uprooted

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I love an Agatha Christie mystery when I don’t have anything else to occupy my mind. Either reading or listening, there’s a reason most mystery book tropes are based off of her stories!

And Then There Were None

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

A collection of short biographies about fascinating women throughout history, Rejected Princesses quickly became one of my all time favorite books. The sequel, Tough Mothers, just came out on Tuesday!

Rejected Princesses

What are you favorite cozy winter / rainy spring reads?

Bookish Friday

Meeting Authors

In my role as assistant manager at a local independent bookstore, I’ve been fortunate to meet some of my favorite authors, as well as be introduced to many new authors as well! Some have been lovely human beings, genuine and kind, wanting to truly get to know their fans. Others have been difficult and divas, obnoxious or rude. But whatever the case, having the chance to get to know those who have created some of my favorite stories has been a wonderful opportunity. Below are some of the highlights.

Sarah J Maas (2)⇐ Sarah J Maas

A.K.A. The Queen! I have been reading Sarah J. Maas’ books just about since Throne of Glass first came out. I’ve introduced countless friends and bookstore customers to her works and I’m very excited that I had the chance to meet her four times before her events truly ballooned into spectacles of lots of tween girls. She has always been absolutely delightful and insightful and I can’t wait to read everything she writes in the future! Additionally, I told my sister if she came out one weekend, she had to come with me to see Sarah and that she had to at least start reading Throne of Glass. She whined about not liking fantasy and was not excited. Needless to say, at this point she’s read all of her books!

ReviewsA Court of Thorns & Roses trilogyThrone of Glass series review to come this fall

Marie Lu ⇒Marie Lu (4)

Marie Lu is an amazing human being whom I was honored to have the chance to interview back in September. I asked her about diversity in the publishing world, as well as in her own writing and her thoughts on the gaming industry. She is a wonderful human being and I greatly enjoy reading other interviews she has done and I anxiously await the sequel to Warcross!

ReviewsWarcrossThe Young ElitesLegend

Ruta Sepetys⇐ Ruta Sepetys

Ruta is a spectacularly imaginative person. I’ve had the opportunity to meet her twice and the second time, I had the opportunity to tell her about how much Laura, my sister, loves her books and that she was upset she wasn’t with me when I got to meet her. Ruta suggested sending her a message, I started routing around for a notepad, and then she insisted on recording a video message to Laura! It made her day when I sent it to her!

ReviewsBetween Shades of GraySalt to the Sea

Leigh Bardugo ⇒Leigh Bardugo

My favorite story about meeting Leigh Bardugo – actually saying “Don’t freak out” out loud to her and not in my head. With long, wavy, silver hair and her ever present cane, Leigh looks like a modern day witch meets rock star and I mean that in the absolute best way. She has such a presence when she enters a room and her books are beloved by so many people, but she is still incredibly down to earth and even invited me to send her snippets from my own writing projects. I nearly fainted.

ReviewsSix of CrowsShadow & BoneWonder Woman: Warbringer

Sam Maggs⇐ Sam Maggs

When I first attended BookCon in 2015 with my friend Nina, we were just walking past a booth when we were asked if we wanted to meet an author. The two of us shrugged and answered affirmatively and then Nina proceeded to freak out a bit when she realized who the author was. A loyal Mary Sue follower, she knew exactly who Sam was. She excitedly filled me in and we had a great time talking all things geek with her. When Wonder Women arrived at the store, I immediately made it a staff pick and told anyone who would listen how awesome Sam is.

ReviewsWonder Women

Laurie Halse Anderson ⇒Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie is my feminist hero. Fiercely outspoken and unapologetic, I wish I was as brave as she is when it comes to speaking one’s mind on important topics from education to sociological issues facing our country today. She is one of the few white authors who has written about slavery and received, at least to my knowledge, little to no criticism in the “own voices” era. While I haven’t reviewed any of her books on here yet, I certainly look forward to doing so in the near future!

BooksSpeakFever 1793Voices of America trilogy (Chains, Forge, Ashes)

Marion Lazan⇐ Marion Lazan

Marion’s story about her experiences during World War II in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen is tear-jerking to say the least. As her mother lived to 104, I truly hope that Marion lives well into her second century as well so that she can share her story with as many people as possible. She reminds me in equal parts of both of my grandmothers, she has the energy of one and the German accent and temperament of the other. If only it were possible to adopt a grandmother…

ReviewsFour Perfect Pebbles

Jerry Spinelli ⇒Jerry Spinelli

Last year I had the incredible privilege of interviewing Jerry Spinelli, author of one of my favorite childhood books, Stargirl, at the bookstore. After a few fangirl moments, during which he told me very sweetly to calm down because he’s not that big a deal (he won the NEWBERY!), I sat down to ask him some questions about his life as a writer and his most recently book, another Newbery contender, The Warden’s Daughter.

BooksStargirlManiac MageeThe Warden’s Daughter

Patti Niemi⇐ Patti Niemi

A truly inspiring feminist who encouraged us all to take the great leap of personal determination to break into a male-dominated profession. As a professional musician, especially one who is a percussionist, she knows a thing or two about what it’s like to face sexism in the workplace. I just wish I had a picture of her looking up! A review of her debut book, a memoir about her experiences, will be coming soon.

BookSticking It Out

Robert Sabuda ⇒ Robert Sabuda

Meeting Robert Sabuda was the highlight of my coworker (and work mom’s) time at the bookstore. She’d been hoping he would come to the store and in 2016, shortly before Christmas, he came to visit to celebrate his Christmas book, Christmas Story. The process of making pop-ups is absolutely fascinating! If you have a chance, watch some YouTube videos or something, it’s so cool!

BooksPeter PanBeauty and the BeastAmerica the BeautifulA Christmas Story

William Daniels⇐ William Daniels

a.k.a Mr. Feeny, hero to all teachers and aspiring teachers. While I would have loved to have met him back in the late ’90s, early aughts when I was obsessed with Boy Meets World and thought it was actually filmed in Philly and therefore I could go visit the school and meet Mr. Feeny (I totally thought he was a real teacher). But I’m eternally grateful to have had the chance to meet him at his wonderful age of 89.

BookThere I Go Again

Other Authors I’ve Enjoyed Meeting

  • Erik Larson, author of Dead WakeIn the Garden of Beasts, incredibly knowledgeable history author
  • Anthony Horowitz, author of Moriarty, very lively British mystery author and screen writer
  • L. E. DeLano, author of Traveler, my favorite, local YA author who is always quick to jump in and help me with our young adult writing group at the store
  • Marieke Nijkamp, author of This Is Where It Ends, inspiring author writing in her second language
  • Mo O’Hara, author of the My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series, actress and author, full of funny stories
  • Adam Lehrhaupt, author of multiple picture books, lively and exciting kid’s author
  • Amy Cuddy, author of Presence, TED Talk alum and inspiring personality
  • Kwame Alexander, author of Crossover, who reminded me to call my dad more often
  • Elin Hilderbrand, author of Blue Bistro and women’s fiction, reminded me that you can only be a writer if you actually sit down and write
  • Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella, authors of comedy essay collections, tell the funniest mother-daughter stories that I can certainly relate to
  • D. J. MacHale, author of Sylo series, with whom I had very enjoyable political discussions
  • Richard Peck, hero to elementary school me, author of the Grandma Dowdel books, Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder among others