Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/31/18)

This is an interesting companion to the recent New Yorker piece on how classical sculpture wasn't actually white: Himmler's Antiquity

I'm impressed with how many of these I've read, given how easily scared I am: The 10 Scariest Books You Should Keep On Your Nightstand

Chris Brown, Johnny Depp, and the Politics of Ex Abuse

I'm mad at how true this is: The Simplest Way to Drastically Improve Your Life: More Sleep

Here’s Why a 50-Degree Day Feels Colder in Fall Than in Spring

Morning Coffee (10/31/18)

The latest (?) horror: President Wants to Use Executive Order to End Birthright Citizenship

And here's a really good, thorough piece from Dara Lind that is worth reading even if you think you know the basics: Birthright citizenship, explained

This is important and beautifully written: The Jews of Pittsburgh Bury Their Dead

‘I’m Dr. Cohen’: The powerful humanity of the Jewish hospital staff that treated Robert Bowers

Oh: Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department

They are SO BAD at this: Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him

Such is the level of news these days that this was barely a blip: Trump Persuaded Struggling People to Invest in Scams, Lawsuit Says

As if there wasn't enough going on yesterday: James 'Whitey' Bulger dead: Notorious Boston mob boss killed inside West Virginia prison

Earl E. Bakken, Pacemaker Inventor and Medtronic Founder, Dies at 94

Wait, How Many ‘Last Corgis’ Does the Queen Have?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/30/18)

This book is out today and I'm so excited!! The Puzzle, The Solution: Jasmine Guillory on writing “The Proposal”

Inside Colombia's Beloved Candy Factory

This headline really buries the lede and this story is wild: Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property?

This is so interesting: How Harry Potter translators made magic in every language

The 12 Best British Detective Shows To Watch This Halloween

Morning Coffee (10/30/18)

Take some time to read through this if you can: The lives lost in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

And: Trump’s Caravan Hysteria Led to This

Wow, look at Carter's letter to the Georgia secretary of state.

What Jair Bolsonaro’s Victory Could Mean for the Amazon, and the Planet (Spoiler: VERY BAD THINGS.)

Of course he did: Rep. King met with far-right Austrians on trip funded by Holocaust memorial group

Heh: Stoning Our Neighbors to Death Makes the Corn Grow High, and Elitist Liberals Should Stop Attacking This Traditional Value

This is great: The Sub-Gatsby Phantasmagoria of Anthony Scaramucci’s Book Party

Progress but still not, you know, GREAT: GLAAD's 'Where We Are on TV' report shows television telling more LGBTQ stories than ever

Older People Are Worse Than Young People at Telling Fact From Opinion

Well this is delightful: Hubble telescope fixed by 'jiggling it around'

Monday, October 29, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/29/18)

The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting

Amandla Stenberg And Angie Thomas On "The Hate U Give", Code-Switching, And Using Art As Activism

My White Adoptive Grandmother Used a Racial Slur. Here’s How We Moved Past It.

Tana French’s New Thriller Looks At What Happens When White Men Lose Their Privilege

Quite the trip down memory lane: 100 Websites That Shaped the Internet as We Know It

Morning Coffee (10/29/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

This is important and a great piece of writing: Dispatch from Squirrel Hill: Dread in a peaceful place

The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting comes amid a yearslong rise in anti-Semitism

Tree of Life Synagogue Victims Remembered as Guardians of Their Faith

Here's the verified GoFundMe to help the victims and community.

This isn't a surprise, but it's still terrible: Jair Bolsonaro, Far-Right Populist, Elected President of Brazil

Dara Lind is the person to read on this: The migrant caravan, explained

Khashoggi’s Murder Heralds a New Era of Impunity

This is full of horrifying details: The Health Department’s Christian Crusade

This is interesting research: People Are Changing Their Views On Race And Gender Issues To Match Their Party

You Thought Modern Life Was Bad. This Neanderthal Child Was Eaten By a Giant Bird

Friday, October 26, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/26/18)

This is such a great profile: Kathy Hourigan Is Knopf’s Secret Weapon

TRUE: It’s Astounding How Many Problems Can Be Solved Just by Waking Up Early

A fun way to waste some of Friday afternoon: Get Ready for Hats! It’s the Queen Maxima Style Retrospective

Authors Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff on The Enduring Appeal of The X-Files

Heh: 16 Carrot Recipes to Root for This Season

Weekly Rec: Sleep

Okay, this is partially a cop-out, but IT'S BEEN A TERRIBLE WEEK (in the world, I'm okay personally) and I feel like a lot of people could use someone telling them to take a break right now. So. Sleep! I've been making a real effort to go to sleep earlier and sleep better, and it turns out sleep is great! Who knew! The world is still terrible but I feel more equipped to deal with it. Put sleep on your to do list for this weekend! Maybe put some nice flannel sheets on your bed if you live somewhere chilly! ENJOY.

Morning Coffee (10/26/18)


‘Outlaw King’: David Mackenzie’s Improved, Recut ‘Braveheart’-Esque Drama Gets A New Trailer

Yaaay, SiriusXM holiday channel info is up!

This is perfect: Salem Saberhagen [the cat] walked the red carpet at ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ premiere

Important news: There's a Cheese Advent Calendar Coming to Target for $20

How to Find the Perfect Reading Chair

Craving Some Americana? The Saturday Evening Post Archive Is Online

Bookish Costume Inspiration for a Literary Halloween

23 Halloween Treats: Spooky, Scary, Savory, and Sweet

13 Cute Halloween Manicure Ideas, Because Not Everything Has To Be Scary

Cute: We Went Trick-or-Treating at the Houses of Literary Families—Here’s What We Scored

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/25/18)

This is horrifying: The Child-Abuse Contrarian

The Missing Images of Chinese Immigrants

Ooh: Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018: the winning images

I absolutely plan my life around never being in a dangerous outdoor situation, but this was still very interesting: How to Keep Your Cool, No Matter What

6 Super Queer Young Adult Books We’re Dying to Read (I have read two of these so far and they were great!)

Morning Coffee (10/25/18)

Everything's extra terrible today. I'm sorry. Happy links tomorrow!

This is terrifying: Pipe Bombs Sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN Offices

Obviously: Trump Allies Insist Bomb Threats Against Clinton, Obama, CNN Are ‘Pure BS,’ a ‘False Flag’ (But let's not call them threats! They were actual bombs. Actual assassination attempts.)

Alexander Soros: The Hate That Is Consuming Us

This story is FULL of unbelievable details - like, every other sentence, really, read it - but possibly the wildest is that the administration is not particularly worried about this because TRUMP NEVER READS ANYTHING SO HAS NO SECRETS TO SHARE: When Trump Phones Friends, the Chinese Listen and Learn

DOJ: Businesses Can Discriminate Against Transgender Workers (The Supreme Court has been asked to consider allowing discrimination on the basis of both gender identity and sexual orientation, just to be clear.)

Meanwhile: Man films himself burning LGBT children’s books from local library

I just . . . Trump now trying to pretend U.S. doesn’t ‘have tariffs anywhere’

Georgia NAACP files complaints alleging voting machines incorrectly registered votes (I actually do believe that in SOME cases this can be a genuine technical issue, but I also very much believe we need groups like the NAACP to make sure it gets fixed.)

What a surprise: White nationalist Richard Spencer accused of physically abusing wife throughout their marriage

OF COURSE: ‘I thought it was very nice’: VA official showcased portrait of KKK’s first grand wizard

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/24/18)

This is amazing: Budapest: 60 Years After The Uprising

Wow: Brainwashed, Enslaved, and Trafficked in Mountain View

How a self-taught pastry chef in Alabama became one of the best in the nation

Looking at Frames at the Louvre

Interesting: Author inspired by teenage years of Lucy Maud Montgomery for YA novel

Morning Coffee (10/24/18)

Stop saying anti-Semitism is no longer a thing! At George Soros’s Home, Pipe Bomb Was Likely Hand-Delivered, Officials Say

Of course! Border Patrol Union Endorses Extremist Video Featuring White Nationalists

Of course: Gillum targeted by new racist robocall in Florida governor race

OF COURSE: Trump administration falsely blames Obama administration for transgender erasure proposal

Man accused of groping woman on flight: Trump 'says it's OK to grab women by their private parts'

The hack gap: how and why conservative nonsense dominates American politics

Is the Supreme Court helping the GOP put yet another thumb on the political scale? Oh, probably!

Believe it or not this article has a pretty great kicker: Italy’s Populists Dig In After E.U. Rejects Their Budget as a Danger

Oh no: Sandra Day O'Connor Says She Has Dementia, Withdraws From Public Life

tbh if you paint an American WWII-era plane to look like a Nazi plane and fly it around you deserve your fiery crash.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/23/18)

This is fascinating: The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture

The inside story of judging the Man Booker prize 2018

Pixar's Coco, and Looking to Our Ancestors in Times of Struggle

The Velvet Revolution of Claude Debussy

The last Anglo-Saxon kings

Morning Coffee (10/23/18)

Let's start with some VERY GOOD AND IMPORTANT local news: Judge blocks SB 3 voting law, saying it imposes 'unreasonable, discriminatory' burdens

Erdogan Says Saudis Planned Khashoggi’s Killing, and Demands Answers

This isn't funny but the phrasing made me laugh: Gorbachev Calls Trump’s Nuclear Treaty Withdrawal ‘Not the Work of a Great Mind’

Trump runs with absurd right-wing media lie about terrorists infiltrating the migrant caravan

Wow: Nation's Only Independent Gov. Drops Re-Election Bid In Alaska And Backs Democrat

GO VOTE: Republicans outpacing Democrats in early voting in key states, NBC News finds

Meanwhile: Uruguay passes law granting rights to trans people

This story is amazing: Joachim Roenneberg, Who Sabotaged Nazis' Nuclear Hopes, Dies At 99

I didn't know much about this groundbreaking female writer in the genre, and now I definitely want to read her: Evelyn Anthony, Writer of Spy Thrillers, Dies at 92

Well, this is a relief: Apple fixes its new bagel emoji with cream cheese and a doughier consistency

Monday, October 22, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/22/18)

What a story: They were a gay, interracial couple in an age of relentless bigotry. The two Harolds didn’t flinch.

Isidore Zimmerman: The Man the System Couldn't Break

Can This Cast-Iron Skillet Be Saved?

10 YA Fantasy Books Inspired By Asian Mythology — And Written By Female Authors

Heh: The 13 Worst Boston Accents in the History of Crime Movies

Morning Coffee (10/22/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

This is an important report: Saudis’ Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider

Today in "if you're not scared, you're not paying attention": South Carolina Is Lobbying to Allow Discrimination Against Jewish Parents

Why Republicans Are Suppressing Black Votes

Of course: Trump Administration Moves to Finalize Rules Upending Birth Control Benefit

Why PEN America Is Suing Donald Trump

Trump, Warren, and America's Racial Essentialism

Sigh: Adelsons Add $25 Million to Their Midterm Campaign Spending

Wow: Penguin Random House Merges Two of its Successful Publishing Lines

I'm glad they're bringing back The Great American Baking Show with, obviously, a different judge.

Tom Bateman To Reprise Role In ‘Death on the Nile’ Adaptation At Fox; New Release Date Set

Friday, October 19, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/19/18)

How an Unlikely Family History Website Transformed Cold Case Investigations

This Candidate Wants You to Read About Love and Politics

Hidden No More: Remembering Raye Montague, A Pioneering U.S. Naval Engineer

Aww, nice interview: Manta & Johnson skating this season for themselves

Huh, I didn't know about this: Propaganda Portraits of Muslim Rulers during WW2

Weekly Rec: The Silver Unicorn Bookstore

Once in a while I recommend something that's really only useful to local-ish folks and today is one of those days, so you're welcome or I'm sorry, depending on where you live!

We don't have a ton of independent bookstores in my part of the world (though where does, really?), so I'm delighted have discovered The Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton. It's been there for about six months, and it's got a nice selection of books for all ages plus the kind of cool gifty items you'd expect from an indie. And even better, they're doing lots of events - I've gone to one middle grade and one young adult event so far. The owner and all the staff I've encountered have been great, and they have a membership program I'm probably going to end up joining. Go check it out, and keep an eye on their calendar!

Morning Coffee (10/19/18)


If you'd like to spend your morning gazing at pictures of Harry and Meghan's current royal tour, the Fug Girls have you covered.

Whoa: Astronomers find most massive structure in the early universe

Norton Signs Graphic Memoir by Olympic Protest Hero Tommie Smith

Oooh, potential Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret movie!

Look at the cover and excerpt from Sandhya Menon's new book!

Oh yay! V.E. Schwab's long out-of-print debut is getting a gorgeous new release

I was wondering about this: The Inside Poop On 'Spoopy'

Pretty excited about Netflix's Christmas movies, especially the Kat Graham one!

What Does Your Favorite Shakespeare Play Say About You? (Richard II, and yeah, it's right on.)

I want all of the Nutcracker nail polish.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/18/18)

This piece by my friend Katie is very interesting: How the 2016 Election Changed the Plot of my Book

Those Raised Fists Still Resonate, 50 Years Later

When Sears Was Everywhere: Espionage, Politics and Fine Art

Witness to the killing

Astrology Is Hard, Even if It’s Fake

Morning Coffee (10/18/18)

Chilling: "The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

THIS IS NOT GOOD: Ryan Zinke Has Fired the DOI Inspector General

If you're wondering what the deal is with the Proud Boys and Gavin McInnes, here's a good primer: Boys to Men

To Avoid Conflicts, Rick Scott Created a Trust Blind in Name Only

Ooh, this sounds interesting! Anna Burns Wins the Man Booker Prize for ‘Milkman’

Russian Orthodox church splits with Orthodoxy's leader in seismic rift over Ukraine

VERY SAD: Original Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, Leaves ‘Sesame Street’ After Nearly 50 Years

Good: Mary Bono, who had ties to a firm that helped protect Larry Nassar, is out as USA Gymnastics president

2018 is wild: Riverdale Actor Denies Conspiring With Courtney Love to Murder Frances Bean’s Ex-Husband

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/17/18)

Charlottesville’s Other Jim Crow Legacy: Separate and Unequal Education

What it’s like to fall 31 miles to Earth after your rocket fails

How Feminist Dystopian Fiction Is Channeling Women’s Anger and Anxiety

Sometimes You Just Have an Emotional Cold

A long-lived Spanish book and a short-lived English king

Morning Coffee (10/17/18)

Trump buys Saudi leader’s claim that he wasn’t involved in Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance

American Mercenaries Were Hired To Assassinate Politicians In The Middle East

Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets

Good: Time’s Up Co-Founder to Represent ‘Media Men’ List Creator

Progressives have nothing to learn from “nationalist” backlash politics

This is a really interesting piece about how political parties are perceived as gendered: Why Can’t Democrats Get Angry?

Well, this was predictable: Sex workers returned to SF streets after shut down

White Supremacists Still Have a Safe Space Online

Sommelier Cheating Scandal Leaves Bitter Taste In The Wine World

Aww: Two Women Left the Bachelor: Vietnam for Each Other and Are Now in a Relationship

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/16/18)

This was great and, as I said yesterday, I need to read more Val McDermid: Val McDermid on What It’s Like Judging the Man Booker Prize

Why Count All the Squirrels in Central Park? Why the Heck Not

Five Books About Girls Who Don’t Care If You Like Them Or Not

Becoming a Ballerina Kept Me From Coming Out as Queer

Revisiting the Prayer at Valley Forge

Morning Coffee (10/16/18)

Let's start with something encouraging: Protesters Throng Berlin In Massive Rally To Support 'Open And Free Society'

Of course: Trump taps Medicaid critic to run Medicaid

That's something: Exclusive: Facebook to ban misinformation on voting in upcoming U.S. elections

Oh: Government spends millions to guard Confederate cemeteries

Look, something happy! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting a baby

Paul Allen, Microsoft’s Co-Founder, Is Dead at 65

Oh thank goodness: Veronica Mars: Enrico Colantoni Officially on Board for Hulu Revival

Whoa, good for her: Chloe Kim lands trick never done in women’s halfpipe competition

If a Moon Has a Moon, Is Its Moon Called a Moonmoon?

Fifth-century child’s skeleton shows evidence of “vampire burial”

Monday, October 15, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/15/18)

When Asian Women Are Harassed for Marrying Non-Asian Men

This very much made me want to read more Josephine Tey, and also more Val McDermid.

Well, this is disappointing (but well-written): “First Man,” Reviewed: Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong Bio-Pic Is an Accidental Right-Wing Fetish Object

What does climate change really cost society? This lab is trying to find out

Holy Spirits: The Power and Legacy of America's Female Spiritualists

Morning Coffee (10/15/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights

Kushner Paid No Federal Income Tax for Years, Documents Suggest

Also: Khashoggi’s Disappearance Puts Kushner’s Bet on Saudi Crown Prince at Risk

New U.S. Weapons Systems Are a Hackers’ Bonanza, Investigators Find

My Private Oval Office Press Conference With Donald Trump, Mike Pence, John Kelly, and Mike Pompeo

Memo to the media: Stop spreading Trump’s fake news

Important! Yes, the Post Office Will Still Deliver Your Mail-In Ballot Without a Stamp

"For West, Trumpian masculinity—that which nakedly pursues power and evades all consequences in the process—is a kind of superpower."

THIS IS HORRIFYING: TNT Orders Live Medical Diagnosis Show

Ooh: Peter Ackroyd’s ‘The History of England’ Headed For The Screen After Pulse Films Options Historical Book Series

Friday, October 12, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/12/18)

PART TWO IS HERE: Queens of Infamy: The Reign of Catherine de’ Medici

Slate has a new Ask a Teacher advice column and it's as great as you'd expect.

The Women Sports Pioneers You Need to Know About

Why Renée Ahdieh is bringing vampires back to YA

Heh: Congratulations! You Did Five Minutes of Writing!

Weekly Rec: Matt Nathanson's Sings His Sad Heart

I've been trying to write this all week and running out of time so this will be short, but hey! Matt Nathanson has a new album out! It's good! I like it! My favorite songs are "Different Beds" and "Used to Be." Give it a try!

Morning Coffee (10/12/18)


Eeeeeee: ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ Trailer: Here’s Your First Look At What Could Be The Best TV Series Of The Year

!! Emma Roberts to Star in Netflix Ice Skating Drama 'Spinning Out'

Also !! All-Star ‘Greatest Showman’ Album Entices Pink, Panic!, Sara Bareilles and Others

Aww: "The couple met in 2012 while working on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Chicago, and began dating while working in Brooklyn on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in 2015."

Between the X-Files ones and now Doctor Who Barbie I... need to buy some Barbies?

Apple Cider Doughnuts Are the Truth

QUIZ: Which Literary Witch Are You?

To start your holiday shopping: nail polish gift sets.

And Nintendo cartridge soap??

And Grinch makeup!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/11/18)

Where in the World Is Denmark’s $2 Billion?

Texas Monthly crime coverage, great as always: The Cartel Next Door

La Mer makes a legendary $325 face cream. It’s now being sued for alleged false advertising.

Tour the British Countryside with These Mystery Series

13 YA Authors on How They Find (Forge, Carve Out, Sacrifice For) the Time to Write

Morning Coffee (10/11/18)

This is horrifying and evil: AP Investigation: Deported parents may lose kids to adoption

Also evil and racist: Supreme Court Ruling Suppresses Native American Votes Ahead of Crucial Midterm Election

UGH: Fact-checking President Trump’s USA Today op-ed on ‘Medicare-for-All’

Planned Parenthood Announces Multi-Million Dollar Plan to Protect and Expand Abortion Access In Face of Hostile Supreme Court

I'm tired: Michael Bloomberg is a Democrat again, fueling speculation about 2020 aspirations

National Book Foundation Announces Finalists for 69th Annual Award

Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women

WHAT!!! Real life Nashville nightmare: Man stabbed at haunted house in Madison

Genetics research 'biased towards studying white Europeans'

Ooh: Introducing the New Intelligencer

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/10/18)

Very excited for her new book, out yesterday: Tana French on The Witch Elm and why she loves writing mysteries

These are beautiful: SpaceX launches and lands Falcon 9 rocket on California coast – in pictures

50 Years Later, Troubles Still Cast ‘Huge Shadow’ Over Northern Ireland

Alone with Elizabeth Bishop

What Strategy Could Either Side Have Used to Win the War in 1776?

Morning Coffee (10/10/18)

Trust me, this is GREAT: Unions Call for Coffman's Resignation

This is just evil: Migrant Children in Search of Justice: A 2-Year-Old’s Day in Immigration Court

Nikki Haley to Resign as Trump’s Ambassador to the U.N.

Flyers At Three Universities Blame Jews For Kavanaugh Assault Allegations

EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler Engaged With Racist, Conspiratorial Posts On Social Media

Neo-Nazi who attacked Amtrak train revealed as Unite the Right participant

New poll finds a 30-point gender gap going into the midterms

Jamal Khashoggi Disappears, a Mystery Rattling the Middle East

This is quite the set of co-chairs: Met Costume Institute Embraces ‘Camp’ for 2019 Blockbuster Show

Ancient Maya: Astronomers, Farmers ... And Salt Entrepreneurs?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/9/18)

This is the most delightful thing I have ever read: Daniel Radcliffe and the Art of the Fact-Check

These Stories Are Ours, Too: Writing Black Characters into Fairy Tales

Kate Atkinson Loves a Good Secret (I highly recommend her new book.)

A Mysterious Fossil Points to the Origins of Lizards and Snakes

Here's some fun medieval manuscript history in honor of the new Doctor: A female doctor

Morning Coffee (10/9/18)

The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say

We women can be anything. But can we be angry?

Investigation at Yale Law School

Romania Conservatives Wanted Voters to Limit Definition of ‘Family.’ They Failed.

In Spain’s ‘Stolen-Babies’ Scandal, Doctor Escapes Punishment

Russia-Ukraine Tensions Set Up the Biggest Christian Schism Since 1054

Well this is delightful: ‘A betrayal beyond words’: The far right melts down over Taylor Swift’s endorsement of Democrats

The World Needs More Female Superheroes, BBC America Study Says

Deep in Human DNA, a Gift From the Neanderthals

Olivia De Havilland Takes ‘Feud’ Feud With FX & Ryan Murphy To Supreme Court

Monday, October 8, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/8/18)

There's some VERY interesting stuff in this interview: Catherine Hardwicke Broke Records With ‘Twilight.’ Then Hollywood Labeled Her ‘Difficult.’

#Girlboss notebooks and “Feminist AF” pencils: the case against “empowering” office supplies

The fantasy world of pre-wedding photos: inside China's billion-dollar industry

The Boy Romantic

Immigration Narratives in Crime Fiction

Morning Coffee (10/8/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Brazil Election Heads to Runoff as Far-Right Candidate Falls Just Short of Outright Win

Ugh I hate him: Grassley explains all-male, all-white Senate Republican judiciary panel: women don’t want to do the work

Bloomberg’s spy chip story reveals the murky world of national security reporting

From Orwell to ‘Little Mermaid,’ Kuwait Steps Up Book Banning

Research Study Concludes That Russian Bots And Trolls Helped Fuel ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Outrage

This author also works as a janitor. She just won a prestigious literary prize from the university she cleans.

Berlin recreates Nazi-baiting art exhibition from 1938

Role models tbh: Life With No Males? These Termites Show That It’s Possible

Imaging tool unravels secrets of child's sock from ancient Egypt

First Look: Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great in HBO, Sky Miniseries

Friday, October 5, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/4/18)

How Do You Take a Picture of a Black Hole? With a Telescope as Big as the Earth

This is fascinating and I can't wait to read her book: Nicole Chung on the Complexities, and Joys, of Transracial Adoption

Vladimir Nabokov's Other Favorite Crime

The new Discovering Music resource on the British Library site is really cool.

Wizards, Moomins and pirates: the magic and mystery of literary maps

Morning Coffee (10/5/18)

Whew, time for Friday happy links.

I accept our new queen: Eight-year-old Swedish-American girl pulls pre-Viking era sword from lake

!!! Canceled Too Soon, Sweet/Vicious Will Now Become the Perfect Comic Book for the Me Too Era

New emojis! Bagel! Cupcake! Yarn!

He is SUCH an Agatha Christie Guy, if you think about it: Armie Hammer To Set Sail In ‘Death On The Nile’ Movie

I have (falling apart) copies of all these books but I want this new Madeleine L'Engle boxed set anyway.

Very into the idea of a John Legend Christmas album.

Sometimes The Onion is perfect: Chris Pine Depressed By Realization He Could Probably Win Governorship Somewhere

I want all the plaid jackets.

Winter Is Coming — and It’s Bringing an Official 'Game of Thrones' Whisky With It

12 Bookish Sweaters to Keep You Cozy All Season Long

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/4/18)

The New Cold Front in Russia’s Information War

Ooh, I've never read him: Eric Ambler: A Crime Reader's Guide to the Classics

The rise of the wholesome internet meme

A Tingling Spine Every Time: Some of classical music’s most sublime moments

The Screenwriting Mystic Who Wanted to Be the American Führer

Morning Coffee (10/4/18)

A running list of everyone the FBI has interviewed in the Kavanaugh investigation so far (and, you know, HASN'T)

And a late related addition: The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh

Seriously, we need to see Donald Trump’s tax returns

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Trump administration working to weaken EPA radiation regulations

Shinzo Abe reshuffle leaves just one woman in Japanese cabinet

Beatles Engineer Geoff Emerick Has Died at 72

!! Dwarf planet 'The Goblin' discovery redefining solar system

Veteran CBS Producer Brad Kern Fired Amid Abuse Claims

Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 for US workers

Riddle of a Scandalous French Painting Is Solved, Researcher Says

Cardiff University's new X-ray method reveals ancient scroll

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/3/18)

The KGB Stalked A Snap-Happy French Tourist For Eight Years. But Was He A Spy?

Useful! The Baker's Pantry: All the Staples You Need to Make Amazing Desserts

The Murderous Playwrights of Elizabethan England

Would Baseball have Become America’s National Pastime Without Baseball Cards?

The Lonely Heath at Twilight

Morning Coffee (10/3/18)

Obviously the gist of this isn't surprising, but this investigation by the Times is great work: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father

And this report at the Post is so so good: American Girl: A Story of Immigration, Fear and Fortitude

Republicans don’t care if Kavanaugh is guilty because they don’t think what he did was wrong

Good for them: Harvard students file complaints to prevent Kavanaugh from teaching at law school

They're just evil for the fun of it: Trump administration begins denying visas to some same-sex partners of foreign diplomats: report

Election Rally Bombing in Afghanistan Heightens Security Fears

A Center-Right Party Decisively Wins Quebec Vote

Nobel Prize in Physics is shared by a woman, the first in 55 years 55 years!

I cried just reading this headline: Michelle Williams To Play Astronaut Christa McAuliffe In ‘The Challenger’ Movie

Aw, good for her: Karina Manta Keeps Ice Dance Queer

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Afternoon Tea (10/2/18)

Millennials can’t stop writing fanfiction about coffee shops

The rise, fall, and unlikely return of Murphy Brown, explained

Inside Barstool Sports’ Culture of Online Hate: ‘They Treat Sexual Harassment and Cyberbullying as a Game’

Here's the Medieval manuscripts blog's calendar page for the month.

Baby's First Mystery Fiction

Weekly Rec: The Spy with the Red Balloon + Q&A with Author Katherine Locke!

The Spy with the Red Balloon, one of my favorite books of the year, is out today! Siblings Ilse and Wolf Klein have a big secret: they can do magic. And then the government finds out and blackmails them into service, Ilse by helping with the atom bomb project and Wolf by going behind enemy lines to sabotage the German nuclear program. Soon they're both in danger, and have to figure out how to help each other (and fight Nazis) while remaining true to themselves and their beliefs. This book combines so many things I like - it's a World War II spy story, a smart girl story, a sibling story. There's lots of science AND magic, complicated interpersonal dynamics, and big philosophical questions playing themselves out in people's everyday lives. And it features a realistic cross-section of characters of different races and religions and sexualities who are too often left out of historical fiction.

I loved The Spy with the Red Balloon so much that I got author Katherine Locke to come answer all my questions about it. (Disclaimer, I guess: Katherine and I are good friends but I wouldn't tell you I liked a book if I didn't!)

I love math and physics so my first thought is to ask about THE EQUATIONS, but I guess you did not ACTUALLY write magical equations. So instead: how did you decide on that form for your magic?

There was a point where I tried to teach myself math and physics so I could actually invent magical equations. About a month into that, I realized that this was a very bad idea and I needed to just write the book. I did teach myself a limited amount of physics and chemistry so that when Stella and Ilse were speaking, it sounded as legitimate as possible. (I manipulated the Student Handbook and school rules in high school to get out of physics, and trust me, I regret that now!)

I decided on it pretty early when I was writing The Girl with the Red Balloon after doing quite a bit of research on time travel and realizing that magic that moved people through space could, by that very same logic, move them through time. If such an equation could be developed.

I got into the weeds a few times with it when I was working on Girl but it wasn’t until Spy when I had to actually think about how they would have developed and understood this magic. There’s magic in Spy that is very very close to how Ellie gets to East Berlin in Girl, and sometimes I like to think about all of the research work, what was lost, what was found (and by whom), that happens between 1945 at the end of Spy and 1988 in Girl.

This book's companion, The Girl with the Red Balloon, was written/published first but set later. What were some of the challenges involved in fitting this story within the framework you set up in the previous book? Was there anything you established in Girl that turned out to be particularly troublesome when writing Spy?

Hahahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahaha. *catches breath* AHAHAHAHAHA.

Yes. I had to ret-con a lot of my own work. I did not intend to write another book in this world, so I had to go back and look through all the magic that is in normal use by 1988 in Girl and decide where they were in 1945. I’d established in Girl that the magic was pretty new in 1942, so I had a time constraint--if it was very new in 1942 in the war zone where they were using it, then it couldn’t be so well established, widely known and fully realized in 1943 in the US where I set half of Spy. Additionally, I’d pitched a Manhattan Project book to my editor (who is a history nerd in the best of ways, so she was excited about that). I needed to think about the evolution of magic, what would be desired by the US military for the Project, and what would be needed in reality in the ‘field’, so to speak.

Additionally, the magic system had a lot of constraints. So if random people’s blood was magical and caused them or whatever their blood touched to levitate, how did they go undetected? What happened to those who menstruated? How did they draw blood and write without their pens levitating, or the materials levitating as they did so? How did they stop blood from clotting? From going rancid? How long did an equation last?

It was a lot of work.

I often get frustrated with dual narratives because I end up much more interested in one half of the story than the other, but you did a great job here keeping both Ilse's and Wolf's stories interesting and giving them parallel pacing without it seeming contrived. What was your technique for planning that out? Did you make a big combined timeline?

This was also a lot of work! There were times that I felt Wolf’s timeline was naturally more compelling because he felt like he was in the most immediate danger, which tends to build immediate empathy and connection with readers. The book began as Ilse’s book, so I didn’t want to lose her and her voice. She was my entry into the story, and I truly love this character. I wanted to make sure she sang too.

I reverse outlined the book and put them on notecards, taking care to match up arcs. When Wolf gets into [REDACTED TROUBLE], a similar situation happens to Ilse, heightening their tensions and their storylines at the same time. Either they had to match completely, or they had to be the inverse and the reaction had to be devastating. So for example--this isn’t a spoiler because it’s in the cover copy--Ilse’s at a dance when her brother’s plane is shot down. The colonel sends someone to find her, and Ilse’s horrified that while she was having fun (or at least, thinking she could have fun), her brother went missing.

I worked that out physically with notecards first, and then rearranged my book (via Scrivener) to match that, before I exported to Word (my preferred medium to work).

There aren't many WWII novels with Jewish main characters that aren't centered on the Holocaust. Why was it important to you to do that here?

My grandfather was the son of Jewish immigrants (from what is now western Ukraine but was then Poland), and he fought in WWII. His unit helped liberate Dachau II, a sub-camp of Dachau. From what we’ve been able to track, some of our relatives died at Dachau. None of my relatives who stayed in Europe survived the Holocaust. Dozens of Jewish boys who escaped Germany before 1942 made it to the US, and enlisted to go home and fight the Nazis. Jewish-American soldiers fought in WWII, and they fought at even higher risk than Christian-American soldiers. If they were captured, they were often killed or sent to concentration camps like Berga.

I really wanted to explore that time period through a different lens, through the lens of American Jews who know what’s happening over there, are pacifists, struggle with the blindness of patriotism, and have a great deal to lose: they are Jewish, they are American, they are queer, and they do magic.

I also really really want to see more historical fantasy and historical novels where Jewish people are heroes without being victims in the same breath. The Klein siblings go through a lot in Spy, but they’re never victims.

This book is fantasy but obviously it's very grounded in real history. What was your research process like, and specifically what kinds of resources did you use to help you tell the stories of people who are so often overlooked in history and historical fiction, like people of color and queer characters?

I traveled to Oak Ridge, Tennessee and went on the tour of the nuclear facilities and town there, as well as visiting the museum. I read a lot of books and watched movies. I had a pretty good background on nuclear weapons as I worked in nuclear weapons abolition activism for a year after college, but I knew more about the work on the Gadget at Los Alamos than I did about Oak Ridge. I read a lot of books about spies during WWII, the Manhattan Project, the women on the Manhattan Project, the Nazi science programs, etc. I listed all the books I read, and included my author’s note and photos from my trip here on my website.

I also read Manhattan Project Voices, where there are interviews and oral histories with women who worked on the Project. I am immensely grateful for the historians who’ve taken the time to collect those stories.

On the whole, WWII must be one of the most well documented and well researched times in history, from every angle. I wanted to include Stella after reading about how Dr. J. Ernest Wilkins was excluded from the Manhattan Project in Tennessee because of Jim Crow laws. I knew both Klein siblings were queer (Ilse is bi, Wolf is demisexual/ace-spectrum), and I did research around that. (Contrary to what some may believe, queerness is not an invention of the last fifty years.) Queer people and Black people and disabled people and Jewish people and Christian people and depressed people and anxiety people and neurodiverse people and young people and old people all participated in the war effort. It is disingenuous to write books that do not reflect that.

Will you ever write a female character without an L in her name? Ilse, Polly, Stella, Lola, Lily. Ellie and Aly in previous books. Surely you're almost out of names. (Okay, I guess that's not a real question. Hahaha.)

It turns out, I am not out of L names.
(I am trying.)
(but not very hard.)

If you could pick any (real or magical) job/assignment to have had during World War II, what would it be? (I want to be a Bletchley codebreaker, personally.)

You would be a great codebreaker. I would be very bad at it.
I would like to be Lily (from Spy) though. I think I would have been good at keeping boys in line and punching Nazis.

You write across a lot of different genres/audiences - is it hard switching back and forth? Are there themes you find yourself returning to across different projects?

I definitely write a lot of Jewish characters! I also write a lot of Jewish characters/characters in general struggling with trying to do good in seemingly impossible situations. I love writing siblings, so I frequently come back to that. I am really interested in the ways that times of high conflict make someone realize that they’ve always had the tools to survive. They didn’t gain them through the struggle, they’ve always had them. If that makes sense. So conflict as a way of illuminating our resilience as people and individuals.

As for switching, I don’t find it difficult. I try not to write two YA books at the same time, but I can write a YA contemporary and a MG fantasy at the same time. They’re different books for me, and they keep me interested and thinking. I like the puzzle aspect of stories and I have a short attention span. Jumping around and trying to challenge myself with every new manuscript keeps me happy.

In addition to writing you have a full time dayjob and freelance. Any favorite tips for finding the time/energy for writing or other creative work while still paying the bills?

Set aside one day a week where you don’t do work (which...I admittedly did not do this week) because you need to refill that well. Daydreaming about stories, or going to plays or art museums or walking around a park or talking to friends is refilling the well and that is creative space, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Get up early before work, if you can, and write while your brain is the freshest. I edit at night because I can do that after work, but I can’t make new words after I work all day. So I do those in the morning. Figure out when and where you work best, and commit to it. I’m bad at writing for just 15 mins here and there, while I have friends who write whole novels that way. I need at least two hours straight through. And I work typically 20 minutes on, 5-10 minutes off, 20 minutes on again.

And sleep. Seriously. Your brain needs time to rest and repair.

Which of your cats would be the best spy?

Okay. I’ve been thinking about this the entire interview while I worked on the other questions. I think the important thing to remember here is that there are many types of spies and they all work in different ways. So I think all of my cats would be great spies, but for different things.

But the dream team would be Cora and Pilot. Cora is very loud and you would think she’d be a bad spy, but she’s really good at climbing on top of you and distracting you, while yelling at you, so you may not see Pilot going to work in the background. He’s very quiet, and very light and small, and very sneaky. They’re a good team.

[Note: If you'd like this question/answer to make more sense, go follow Katherine on Instagram. There's lots of good cat content.]

The Spy with the Red Balloon is out now! Go read it! And if you'd like to read its companion The Girl with the Red Balloon via your library, check out the Big Library Read.

More about the author:

Katherine Locke lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where they're ruled by their feline overlords and their addiction to chai lattes. Their debut YA The Girl with the Red Balloon was a 2018 Sydney Taylor Honor Book and a 2018 Carolyn W. Field Honor Book. They secretly believe most stories are fairytales in disguise. You can find them online at and @bibliogato on Instagram and Twitter.