Stay sexy, read about murder

“The half-life of murder is forever.”

y450-293I expected to love Tori Telfer’s Lady Killers. I was not disappointed.

Illustrated with Dame Darcy portraits of the murderesses portrayed in the fourteen stories Telfer tells, Lady Killers relates the tales of a select group of female serial killers from history, ranging from the rumored hundreds of murders carried out by Elizabeth Bathory in sixteenth century Hungary to the poisonings carried out by Nannie Doss in the 1950s. The vintage stories give readers some distance, and Telfer relates each tale with plenty of detail and just a bit of feminist editorializing. (I’m not complaining.) Continue reading Stay sexy, read about murder

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#CloakandDagger2017: QUEEN OF SPIES by Paddy Hayes

This is part of my 2017 reading challenge, Cloak and Dagger, for which I’ve pledged to read all the spy books I have stacked up in my room. Read along!

25705939I was incredibly excited to dive into Queen of Spies, because I really wanted to learn about Daphne Park. To be honest, I knew nothing about her heading into this book; I really just wanted to read a book about a woman who also just so happened to be a spy. But perhaps a year or so ago, I had a friend who worked at the company that would be publishing Paddy Hayes’s book on Park and I got her to sneak me a galley.

I only just now got around to reading it, and I’ll admit that this one was a bit of a let-down. This book is dense, and packed with details that will surely fascinate those who are already fairly familiar with SIS history (or British history, at least) and the ins and outs of international relations during the Cold War. The subtitle of Queen of Spies is “Daphne Park, Britain’s Cold War Spy Queen,” and though the book opens on an harrowing moment of Park in Moscow in the 50s and then dives into her childhood in Africa, Daphne Park is sometimes very difficult to find on the pages of a book supposedly about her.

Continue reading #CloakandDagger2017: QUEEN OF SPIES by Paddy Hayes

#CloakandDagger2017: ARGO by Antonio Mendez (and Matt Baglio)

This is part of my 2017 reading challenge, Cloak and Dagger, for which I’ve pledged to read all the spy books I have stacked up in my room. Read along!


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Argo fuck yourself

As I mentioned in my introductory post to this year’s reading challenge, my parents watched Argo before I did, and then insisted I would enjoy it, too, and should sit down to watch it. Being a moody twenty-something who was stuck at home post-college graduation, I was slow to take their advice. But once I watched the movie, I was in love–with the story, with spies, and, yeah, fine, okay, maybe a little bit with Ben Affleck. And then I bought Tony Mendez’s book on the mission over the Christmas holidays and read it in two days.

Continue reading #CloakandDagger2017: ARGO by Antonio Mendez (and Matt Baglio)

#CloakandDagger2017: AVENUE OF SPIES by Alex Kershaw

This is part of my 2017 reading challenge, Cloak and Dagger, for which I’ve pledged to read all the spy books I have stacked up in my room. Read along!


9780804140058A pull quote from the New York Post on the back cover of Avenue of Spies hails it as “a true story that reads like a thriller.” I don’t quite agree with that, but it’s certainly one hell of a story.

On Friday, June 14, 1940, the Nazis moved into and occupied Paris. It wasn’t long before the tricolor flag of their republic was quickly replaced with the red, white, and black swastika of the Third Reich, signaling five years of agony for those French citizens who refused to collaborate with their enemies.

But Avenue of Spies opens years earlier, when an American doctor named Sumner Jackson served in the bloody field hospitals of World War I. It was there that he met a young Swiss nurse, Toquette, who would become his wife and mother of their only son, Phillip. The trio lived in a swanky apartment on the Avenue Foch in Paris, arguably one of the most exclusive addresses in the city, if not the world, at that time.

Continue reading #CloakandDagger2017: AVENUE OF SPIES by Alex Kershaw

Announcing #CloakandDagger2017

Because last year’s reading challenge went so well.

2017-01-15-13-47-08In the last two years or so, I’ve become entirely obsessed with the world of espionage–the tools and tricks of the trade, the history of spies, pondering what kinds of stories have yet to be declassified and shared. The options are endless.

It all started when my parents told me that they had watched “that Ben Affleck movie” and found themselves truly intrigued by it. They had rented Argo from our local library and watched it one night while I was out. I distinctly remember my dad recounting the fact that they had children putting together the shredded photos of the diplomats and office workers in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, to find out if anyone was missing. Though I hadn’t had an interest in the movie before, we sat to watch it as a family. That was all it took.

Continue reading Announcing #CloakandDagger2017

How the sausage gets made; or, “Yeah, I still want to write”

Portrait of the Editorial Assistant
Portrait of the Editorial Assistant as a Young Woman

A full year into my Actual Adult Career in publishing (I’m not counting the three months I interned at the company I’ve called home since last June, because I wasn’t getting paid, and Actual Adults get paid), I’ve been asked a few times now if working in publishing has in any way killed my writing dreams. Sometimes, I misinterpret the question and say, “Nah, I’ve realized I can actually be super productive on the commute in and out of the city.” I’ve been reading on the train since I started doing the commute, but I only recently realized I also had a solid hour to get some writing done, and that’s been a game-changer. Even if I’m only listening to music and staring out the window, I’m usually plotting the next phase of a new project. Reading and editing and working all day makes me actually yearn for those train rides, the time when I can let my mind wander. At the end of the day, I want to go home and write something that isn’t a pitch letter or a tweet.

But when I’m pressed, I have to say that working with editors and authors and agents, and being surrounded by digital manuscripts and galleys and finished books all day, has actually been exhilarating. No, I’m not writing as much as I should be some weeks, and some nights I plan to write a magnum opus and I’m lucky if I work up the strength to work on a blog post. But there are also nights — and mornings and weekend afternoons — when I start writing and I don’t stop. And there are mornings I write all the way to work and sit by the East River and read, and I cherish those uber-productive days.

Somehow, someway, I know what’s in your book-sausages, and it’s only made me hungrier. Continue reading How the sausage gets made; or, “Yeah, I still want to write”