Book Trailer Thursday (185)–Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Book Trailer Thursday

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley released yesterday, May 10th, and it has already received many positive reviews and quite a bit of buzz. I haven’t been able to read it yet, but there is an audiobook that I plan on listening to soon. Julia Whelan, who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators, is one of the narrators which is an automatic win. I’m looking forward to showing my students this trailer and buying a copy of the book so they can read it as well. If you’ve read Whaley’s latest release, I’d love to know what you think of it.

Highly Illogical BehaviorSummary (From Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

Waiting on Wednesday–When We Was Fierce by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

The book I’m spotlighting today not only has an attention-grabbing cover, it has an attention-grabbing title. I love the bold splash of red against the black and white. I also like that the title isn’t the standard; it reflects the characters and their voices. I’m also excited that this is a novel in verse! More of my friends should have this on their Goodreads TBR.

When We Was FierceTitle & Author: When We Was Fierce by e. E Charlton-Trujillo

Release Date: August 9th, 2016

Publisher: Candlewick

Summary (From Goodreads):

In an endless cycle of street violence and retribution, is there any escape? A powerful verse novel by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo.

We wasn’t up to nothin’
new really.
Me and Jimmy, Catch and Yo-Yo.
We just comin’ down the street keepin’ cool.
We was good at stayin’ low
Especially around the Wooden Spoon.
Guys hang around there, they got teeth on ’em
Sharper than broken glass.
Words that slit ya’from chin to belly. And that’s just their words.

Fifteen-year-old Theo isn’t looking for trouble, but when he and his friends witness a brutal attack on Ricky-Ricky, an innocent boy who doesn’t know better than to walk right up to the most vicious gang leader around, he’s in trouble for real. And in this neighborhood, everything is at stake. In a poignant, unflinching novel of survival told largely in street dialect, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo enters the lives of teenagers coming of age in the face of spiraling violence among gangs, by police, and at home.

Waiting on Wednesday–The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

Why am I so often drawn to books featuring grieving characters? I know I’m not purposely seeking them out, but I have read and loved so many! Regardless, The Square Root of Summer really grabbed my interest because there’s also a time travel element. And I’m extra excited because as I was looking for more audiobooks to listen to via Audible, I discovered that Roaring Brook Press had an audiobook made for Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s debut!

The Square Root of SummerTitle & Author: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

Trending Books

Jack’s playing and distracted at the moment, so I’m taking advantage of it to write a quick post. I’m trying my best to carve out more blogging and reading time at this point in my crazy school year.

Anyway, as always I’ve been working hard to draw my students’ attention to more books. I’ve been keeping up with my daily book talks, which has been a huge help in this process. Earlier in the school year I decided to use my display book case for student recommendations. I encouraged students to place a book they’ve enjoyed on the shelf along with a notecard with a brief recommendation. It didn’t go as well as I hoped. I mostly had to specifically ask students to place something there because for some reason they weren’t doing it on their own. I grew tired of seeing the shelf which quickly became wallpaper in my room, so I decided to change it a couple weeks ago.

My students often read the same books as friends pass one book to another. They also often ask me what other students are reading. So I decided to use my display shelf to feature “trending books” in my classroom. It’s already been much more successful than when it featured student recommendations; I’ve already switched out many of the books because they’re so often borrowed by students.

During state testing a couple weeks ago, our media specialist was in my classroom and saw my display. It made her think about an area in the library that is rarely, if ever, used. She talked to me about it and she’s going to make that space a trending books area as well. I’m excited to see how hers turns out!

How do you draw attention to books in your classroom? I’d love to see your pictures or hear about your spaces!

So far Everything, Everything, Things We Know By Heart, Perfect Chemistry, The Serpent King, Legend, and Ghosts of Heaven have continued to be popular choices. Which books have been trending in your classroom or library?


Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw Blog Tour + Character Playlist


Let me first and foremost start by apologizing for this post being a day late. I received my blog contents on Monday afternoon and woke up yesterday morning to create my post only to discover that my internet at home is down (and still is!) and to top it off our internet at school failed. Yesterday in general was a major fail of a day. Anyway, I’m super thankful the internet at school is working and that I have time this morning to compose this post because it’s a fun one!

I have for you today a playlist that Anna Breslaw created for this post with Scarlett Epstein in mind. She is such a fun character to read and this playlist suits her perfectly. At the end of the post I’m also including a few of my favorite funny lines from the book because there were multiple moments that either made me laugh out loud or snort. Gotta love that!



“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse
Scarlett’s mom blasts this in her bedroom when she gets ready for OK Cupid dates. (Scarlett can hear it through the wall.)

“Why Can’t I,” Liz Phair
And then blasts this in her bedroom when she comes home from a good OK Cupid date. (The walls are thin.)

“Hurt,” Johnny Cash
And then blasts this in her bedroom when he doesn’t text her again. (The walls are VERY thin.)

“Put Yourself First,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend OST
Scarlett’s getting into this show now that Lycanthrope College has been cancelled—and this song is the perfect mix of cuttingly feminist, funny, and catchy AF.

“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
She listens to this on the train back to New Jersey from visiting her dad in Brooklyn.

“Whole Wide World,” Wreckless Eric
Scarlett’s dad and her new stepmom (who is, by the way, far superior to her real mom) danced to this song at their wedding. She now thinks it’s the most romantic song ever.

“A Milli,” Lil Wayne
Scarlett does a stupid dance to this song to cheer up her friend Avery when she gets a B on a test.

“Royals,” Lorde
Singing-in-the-shower song.

“Circumambient,” Grimes
She listens to this when she’s writing.

“A Certain Romance,” Arctic Monkeys
The lead singer’s description of his town reminds Scarlett of her own.

“Hello,” Adele
When she’s sad about Gideon.

“Ghost,” Halsey
See above.

“Going Down For Real,” Flo Rida
I mean, it’s just impossible to avoid this song. This song is everywhere.

“Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
When she’s daydreaming about graduating and moving to New York to become a writer.

“Walk On The Wild Side,” Lou Reed
Her dad used to listen to this when she was little, and she puts it on when she misses him.

And here are some of my favorite lines:

“Ave is pretty, too, but she’s like a wilted version of Ashley with braces and slightly duller hair. If they had been fetal twins, Ashley definitely would’ve consumed Avery for nutrients, and all that’d be left of Ave would be a tumor with a few teeth in it.”

(Taken from a conversation between Scarlett and her elderly neighbor)
“What’s your teacher’s name?”
“Mr. Radford.”
“What’s he like?”
“Uh, young,” I thought. “Enthusiastic.”
“You should do him!” She said it with the same tone of wholesome encouragement you’d use to say You should do yoga! or You should visit Lake Placid!
“Don’t look at me like that. Every great writer has ‘turned the screw’ with a professor. Obviously it would be better if his balls hung a little lower, if he was older, more established, but. . .” She shrugged.

About the novel:
Title & Author: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
Release date: April 19th, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Scarlett Epstein Hates It  HereSummary (From Goodreads):

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

Waiting on Wednesday–Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

For the past few weeks I’ve been swamped with grading and planning as I try to recover from all of the snow days we had within a two week timespan, plus I’ve been focusing a lot on my nutrition and fitness via the 21 Day Fix. Consequently, I’m super behind on book reviews and have mostly been posting WoW posts, book trailers, and interviews. I promise to get caught up and let you know my thoughts on what I’ve been reading and listening to!

Anyway, I need to go back to challenging myself with genre binges because I’ve been sticking mostly to contemporary again (it’s my favorite!). If I had a copy of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake I would be reading it right now. Blake is a talented author and this sounds like a really edgy and engaging fantasy that my students and I would love. I’m certainly in no rush for next school year and skipping over summer, but I’m looking forward to this September release.

Three Dark CrownsTitle & Author: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Release Date: September 20th, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary (From Goodreads):

Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Bloodwill devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. 

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

Book Trailer Thursday (184)–Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children movie trailer

Book Trailer Thursday

I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs years ago, but honestly, it didn’t hold my attention like I wanted it to. The movie trailer, however, makes me think I’ll enjoy the movie more than I enjoyed the book. Despite my personal opinion of the book, my students love it. Those that haven’t read it yet want to now that I’ve shown them the movie trailer, and those that have already read the book have strong opinions about the trailer. It’s going to be fun once September 30th rolls around.

miss-peregrines-home-movie-poster1Summary (From Goodreads):

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Students Want to Know Jessica Love, author of In Real Life / Blog Tour + Giveaway

Students Want to Know

Jessica Love

Jessica Love is a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, California, where she met her husband and her two tiny dogs online. She is the co-writer of Push Girl with Chelsie Hill.

Author’s Website

When I was offered the opportunity to interview Jessica Love about her novel In Real Life, I jumped at the opportunity because I knew my students would love it. I decided to take it one step further and get them even more excited about her book by having them come up with the interview questions. They immediately asked me if I would be buying a copy for them to read; of course I will!

In Real LifeABOUT THE BOOK (Goodreads):

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, Skype all the time, regularly send each other presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem…Hannah and Nick have never actually met.  

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker at school, she decides to finally break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, with her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-a-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention to Hannah for the past three months.  And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about.  Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.


“A sweet, honest story that begins as so many of our relationships do: online.” —Emery Lord, author of Open Road Summer

“Love expertly creates a timely and entertaining story set on the glamorous Vegas strip, complete with rock and roll, gambling, love, and drama.  Readers will relate to the characters in this book and their effortless use of technology to support relationships.” —School Library Journal

“[A] sweet story ideal for contemporary teens whose lives play out in similar computer-and-text-message-related ways.” —Booklist

“The story manages to find its heart when it focuses on Hannah and Nick’s relationship. The warmth and intimacy of their friendship is convincing, and readers sighing over their long history will root for their relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“As Hannah and Nick work out the kinks of having to interact in person, they discover the advantages of taking things to the next level in this sweet, straightforward romance.” —Publishers Weekly
“A witty and entertaining story of friendship and secrets with a sparkly Vegas backdrop.  Jessica Love knows love!” —Kristin Rae, author of Wish You Were Italian


Here’s what my students wanted to know about Jessica Love and her book:

  1. Does Hannah consider the idea that Nick may be “catfishing” her?
    She doesn’t really, because she’s very trusting. They have known each other for so long and have really grown up together, so since they have shared so many things, this doesn’t really cross her mind. They have video chatted, so she knows he is the person from his pictures, and they met because their older siblings (who have met in person) introduced them online, so she feels pretty confident that he’s the real deal.
  1. Jessica, what’s your favorite roadtrip music?
    Cold War Kids. They have a bunch of albums and every single one of their songs is so fantastic. I can just put all their albums on shuffle and I’ll have fantastic driving music for hours and hours and hours.
  1. Do Hannah’s parents know about her relationship with Nick? Are they supportive of the relationship?
    They know she has an online friend she texts a lot, but she insists they’re just friends, so her parents don’t worry too much about it. They trust Hannah…it’s her older sister Grace they don’t trust.
  1. Now that we’re in the year 2016, do you think online relationships have become less taboo than in years past? Is that how you came up with the idea to writeIn Real Life?
    Oh yeah. I met my husband online in 1998, and it was super taboo back then. It was so weird that we actually made up a fake story about how we met because we didn’t want to admit the truth. Now it’s no big deal at all, and we finally let everyone know the truth.I decided to write this book in part because I have so many great friendships with people I’ve met online! I like to show people that real connections can happen with people you’ve never met in person.
  2.  Do you know anyone who has gone through a similar situation as Hannah or has it happened to you?
    No, this has definitely not happened to me. Not with a romance, anyway. I have traveled to meet people I only knew online, but they were just friends, and it was all very drama-free. I was inspired to write In Real Life by some people I saw on a reality show – they had been talking on the phone for five years and had never met in person. I loved that idea and I thought it would make a cool book.


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Waiting on Wednesday–Run by Kody Keplinger


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I’m so excited to read a new Kody Keplinger novel! My students and I love her books, so much so that a couple copies of her books have gone missing from my classroom library. Run sounds like it will be just as entertaining to read as the rest of her novels. And I really appreciate that the girls on the cover look more like high school students than most YA cover models.

RunTitle & Author: Run by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

I’m so happy to be part of this blog tour for a historical fiction, kickass book! A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls was edited by Jessica Spotswood and includes short stories from a variety of female YA authors. Three questions were asked of all contributing authors; today I’m featuring answers from Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein, and Jessica Spotswood.

A Tyranny of Petticoats

Also available as an e-book and in audio

Summary (From the publisher): Crisscross America, on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains, from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own courses. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own ways in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

Our authors are as diverse as their characters. To give readers a better sense of their diverse processes and experiences writing for this anthology, we asked three questions of each contributor:

  1. What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
  2. What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
  3. Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

Here are their answers:

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a historical­ fantasy trilogy, as well as the contemporary novel Wild Swans. She grew up near the Gettysburg battlefield but now lives in Washington, D.C., where she works for the D.C. Public Library system as a children’s library associate.
Twitter: @jessica_shea, Facebook, Instagram

Jessica_Spotswood credit C.Stanley Photography (1)

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I’ve been fascinated with New Orleans since my first visit when I was twelve. The city was French, then Spanish, then French again briefly, was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, seceded to join the Confederacy, then became part of the United States again. The architecture, food, and music all reflect this unique history as well as Creole, Cajun, and Haitian influences. By 1826, there was a large number (according to the census, perhaps as many as twelve thousand recorded in a city of forty-six thousand) of gens de couleur libre, or free people of color, which made New Orleans unique among antebellum Southern cities. Most free blacks were mixed-race; some were descended from slave mothers and white fathers, and others emigrated from Haiti after the revolution. They were educated property owners, a thriving middle class of businessmen, shop owners, and tradesmen who went to mass at Saint Louis Cathedral, attended the theater and the French opera, and sometimes had slaves of their own.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
In 1786 Governor Miró passed the tignon laws, which required women of African descent — slave or free — to cover their hair and refrain from excessive attention to their dress. In response, women of color began to wrap their hair in beautiful, colorful scarves called tignons and were still as beautiful and eye-catching as ever. The law was basically to preserve racial and class distinctions, because some free women of color were so light-skinned and richly dressed that they were mistaken for white.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
I’m fascinated by Nellie Bly, who was an intrepid lady reporter. She wrote about the problems of poor working girls and called for the reform of divorce laws. She was a foreign correspondent in Mexico, but the editor of her Pittsburgh paper kept assigning her stories for their women’s section about fashion and flower shows, so she resigned and moved to New York. Most famously, she feigned madness while working undercover to write a series on the abuse of institutionalized women at the asylum at Blackwell’s Island. In 1888, she also tried to recreate Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and filed dispatches to her paper via telegraph. She only took seventy-two days, like the boss she was.


Leslye Walton is the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which was a 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner, as well as a 2015 YALSA William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest but has recently been finding her dreams filled with vast desert skies and the gorgeous pink flowers of the prickly pear cactus. Her short story is the result of those dreams.
Twitter: @LeslyeWalton, Facebook


What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I was interested in exploring the juxtaposition of power and limitation, a blurred line that has defined the lives of women throughout history. I wondered what it might have been like to live as a young teenage girl during a time of upheaval and change in American history, while also capturing a time and place where cultural and national identities felt at odds. I suppose these thoughts wove themselves together, because suddenly I had Valeria, Rosa, and Maria Elena, three immortals sent down to live as Mexican-American sisters during the years after the Texas Annexation.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
I loved learning all the intricate details about the family ranchos of that time and the lush Rio Grande landscape of yucca plants, honey mesquite trees, and prickly pear cacti.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
Oh, this is an impossible question! There are so many admirable women in our world’s history, all with incredible and oft times terrible stories; it’s virtually impossible to pick a favorite. I suppose, though, if I had to choose one, I’d have to admit that I am currently infatuated with Petra Herrera, a revolutionary war hero who led over four hundred female soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, if only for the sole reason that she proved that women could be just as effective as men in the art of combat.


Elizabeth Wein is the New York Times best­selling author of Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, and, most recently, Black Dove, White Raven. All three feature women as pilots in the early twentieth century — such rare birds in their own right that a black woman among them is a veritable phoenix. “The Color of the Sky” is a closer look at one of the real pilots whose life inspired a character in Black Dove, White Raven.
Twitter @EWein2412

Elizabeth Wein_credit David Ho

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a licensed pilot, inspired me!

I earned a private pilot’s license late in 2003. That year also happened to be the one hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ historic first powered “heavier than air” flight. I took part in a worldwide celebratory fly-out on December 17, the exact anniversary. But I was also the only female student pilot on the airfield where I learned to fly, so I became interested in flight, the history of aviation, and women in aviation all at the same time.

Bessie Coleman is one of the most amazing early female aviators. She got her international pilot’s license in 1921, and she was not only the first black woman to do so, she was the first American to do so — male or female, black or white. No one — of any color — would teach her to fly in the United States, because she was black and/or because she was a woman; so she took some French classes, found some sponsorship, and went to France to learn to fly. I am in awe of her initiative, her positive outlook, and her determination.

Though she died young, and tragically, in a flying accident (which is what my story in A Tyranny of Petticoats is about), Coleman was committed to opening a flying school that would allow young people of all races and sexes to learn to fly. Until her early death she traveled around the United States giving lectures and film presentations in schools to encourage young people to learn more about aviation, as well as fund-raising for her flight school dream.

The time and place of my story was dictated by the focus on Bessie Coleman — but to make it authentic, I ended up finding out quite a bit about Jacksonville, Florida, in the 1920s — its schools, churches, neighborhoods, and transportation systems!

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
It was undoubtedly the amazing real historical characters I discovered as I was peopling my fictional tale. I want to write stories — books, even! — about all of them.

Except for my main character Antonia and her family, most of the named characters in “The Color of the Sky” are based on real people. In addition to the obvious — Bessie Coleman herself — I also had to find out more about the lives of Myrtle and Henry Wade Vencill, Louis Manning, William Wills, Robert Abbott, and John Thomas Betsch. I desperately hope I’ve been respectful of their historical counterparts — especially Betsch, who is in jail when my story ends!

The week following Bessie Coleman’s death in April 1925 must have been a heartbreaking time in John Thomas Betsch’s young life. He was only twenty-one at the time. College-educated, Betsch was the publicity chairman of Jacksonville’s Negro Welfare League and an aviation enthusiast; he was also a strong advocate for racial and sexual equality in Florida and continued to be so throughout the first half of the twentieth century. His legacy is evident in the lives of his children: MaVynee Betsch, who graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in voice and piano in 1955, sang with the German State Opera, and then devoted her later life to conservation; Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who became the first female president of Spelman College, president of Bennett College for Women, and co-author of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities; and John Thomas Betsch, Jr., a jazz musician who has lived in Europe for the past thirty years. It makes me happy to know what a better world John Betsch helped to create for his own children and for generations to come. I’d never have known about these people if I hadn’t been digging for information about the circumstances surrounding Bessie Coleman’s fatal accident.

Another fascinating woman I learned more about while writing “The Color of the Sky” is Willa Brown. I’d known about her because she turned up in the research I did for my novel Black Dove, White Raven, and I like to think that the life of my original character Antonia will closely follow that of Willa Brown. Brown graduated from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927 and went on to help establish the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago. Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to earn a private pilot’s license (which had not been established when Bessie Coleman earned her international license). During World War II, in addition to training black pilots and flight instructors, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and became its first African-American officer. Throughout most of the twentieth century, Willa Brown was a tireless activist for racial and sexual equality, both on the ground and in the air.

I would love to go on — every single one of the characters who appear in “The Color of the Sky” has a fascinating history — but perhaps these brief portraits will inspire readers to do some digging for themselves!

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
This isn’t a question I’ve thought about before — I don’t have a tried and tested answer that I give. I have many favorites, for different reasons at different times in history and at different times in my own life. If you’d only asked me to name “my favorite woman of all time,” I’d have said my grandmother, Betty Flocken.

But I’m going to go with Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001), because her voice as a writer and a pilot sings to my soul. I knew and read her written work long before I became a pilot myself. Her inspirational Gift from the Sea, which has never been out of print since it was first published in 1955, has been my guide throughout my adult life — as it was to my grandmother fifty years ago. Indeed, it was my wonderful grandmother who introduced me to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s writing.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles A. Lindbergh, the early aviator who’s best known for his pioneering flight across the Atlantic in 1927. As a couple they skyrocketed into the media in 1932 when their infant son was kidnapped and murdered. Charles Lindbergh bordered on being a Nazi sympathizer in the years leading to World War II and, though he flew fifty combat missions in the Pacific for the United States and finished his life as an environmental activist in 1974, his image never entirely recovered in the public eye. Anne Morrow Lindbergh soared to fame on her own as a gifted diarist and travel writer, managing to transcend the brightness and shadow that her husband cast. Her clear-sighted and lyrical voice is one of the most prolific and honest of the twentieth century.

She was the first American woman to earn a glider pilot’s license and accompanied Lindbergh on early global exploration flights as his radio operator as they attempted to discover the best long-distance routes for future commercial airlines to places like South America and eastern Asia. She was a friend and deep admirer of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, another of my pilot-writer heroes (and author of The Little Prince). Despite the tragic loss of her first baby, she went on to raise five children, a free-thinking collection of writers and aviators in their own rights.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a quiet, private, shy, and privileged woman and didn’t have to do the kind of groundbreaking work that Bessie Coleman had to do. But her dedication to her craft, her prolific life’s work, and her ability to recover and forgive make me strive to be like her.

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Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the tour so you can learn more about each author!



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