The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript by Elizabeth K. Kracht



As an aspiring author, I am well aware that there are plenty of guidebooks available on the writing process, not to mention articles and websites devoted to this subject matter. What I appreciate about this book is that it has condensed this information into a series of convenient chunks.

I should point out that this book has slightly more guidance for fiction manuscripts, but there is useful information for nonfiction authors as well. The material is organized alphabetically and covers everything from “dreams” to “punctuation” to “query letter” and even dealing with “rejection”

Each entry is relatively short; Kracht summarizes the point quickly, uses concrete examples, and then concludes with a checklist for authors to use when evaluating whether their manuscript is ready for the next step.

The two appendices at the end contain examples of query letters for fiction and nonfiction and a synopsis for a fiction book.

I would recommend The Author’s Checklist. This is a very useful guide. I enjoyed reading it and I know that as I get a little further in the process of preparing my manuscript for querying, I will go through the book to make sure everything is in order. I received a digital copy of this book, and perhaps a paper copy would have been easier to thumb through, but I do want to point out that I can use the “Go To” feature on my Kindle to access each of the different entries without having to flip through the alphabetical list.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Guts & Glory: The American Revolution by Ben Thompson



Guts & Glory: The American Revolution was written by Ben Thompson. I picked up the Audible edition of this book (as well as the others in the series) during a sale, and my girls and I listened to it while we were driving around during all of our after-school activities.

This book is a wonderful introduction to the foundations of American history. Thompson uses a jocular storytelling format to convey information, and I found myself enjoying listening to this book as much as the kids. Much of the story is slightly irreverent, which naturally appeals to children. He uses modern pop culture examples to draw comparisons with events from the Revolution, like comparing Bunker Hill to an epic battle from Lord of the Rings or saying that he has to pay tax “every time he buy[s] a new Xbox game or a Big Mac”. Understanding history is so important, and I have a great deal of appreciation for Thompson’s ability to make learning about history appealing. Read more

Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry


Moab Is My Washpot is actor Stephen Fry’s memoir/autobiography. The title of this book is derived from a quote in a P.G Wodehouse book, which in turn is derived from a Biblical reference. I was already familiar with the fictionalized version of his turbulent adolescence in his novel The Liar, but I only discovered this memoir in the last couple of weeks.

Stephen Fry has made an illustrious career for himself, one that spans nearly four decades. This memoir, however, is limited to his first 18 years. Stephen spent most of his childhood at boarding school, where he experienced all sorts of Dickensian horrors. When things go awry at school, Stephen revolts at the plan to keep his life on track, and embarks on a crime spree. Despite his attempts to sabotage himself, Stephen manages to find a place at Cambridge. This memoir does not cover those years, but of course, fans will know that this is where Fry will fall in with lifelong friends like Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson. Read more

Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird


I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have always enjoyed learning about 19th century England and reading books set in that era. It was a time of discovery, innovation, and empire building, and it centered around the monarch whose name became synonymous with (most of) the century: Victoria.

Julia Baird’s biography Victoria: The Queen is a masterpiece. Baird does a wonderful job of setting up the events that led to Victoria’s placement as heir to the throne; one can picture those dissolute younger sons of George III abandoning their mistresses and scrambling to find royal brides. Baird vividly portrays Victoria’s life, from her lonely childhood to her dynamic with the scheming Conroy, and her abject sorrow following Prince Albert’s untimely death. Read more

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

51qebdodpflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoy reading about Victorian history, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale. This is my first experience with her, and I will definitely look for her other Victorian books in the future!

During the summer of 1895, a pair of brothers named Robert and Nattie Coombes told their neighbors and relatives that their mother had gone away for awhile. They invited a family friend to stay with them for company; instead of staying in the upstairs bedrooms, they camped out downstairs. They took trips to Lord’s to see a cricket match, and they sent their family friend to pawn some household items. Eventually, relatives began to doubt the veracity of the boys’ tale and entered the locked bedroom. Mrs. Coombes was found dead, and the boys were arrested for murder. Read more

My Mad Fat Diary: A Memoir by Rae Earl

51g4kphei4lI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love books set in England, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read My Mad Fat Diary by Rae Earl. I usually prefer material set in the 19th century, and I am choosing to ignore the fact that a book set in 1989 is almost thirty years in the past, and might be conceivably classified as “historical”.

This book was originally published a few years ago in England, and Rae has kindly included a glossary at the beginning for the American publication. The original English slang remains unchanged, so a glossary is very handy for readers who might not be as familiar with the slang words from England. Read more

The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey

512bmmzuv5elI found The Secret Rooms on Amazon when I was looking up books about the late Victorian/Edwardian era. From there, I looked it up on the library network. I was pleased to discover that there was a copy at my town library; I didn’t even have to make a request and wait for it to be sent!

The Secret Rooms was written by Catherine Bailey, and is subtitled “A True Story Of A Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, & A Family Secret”. Belvoir Castle is the centerpiece of what was once one of the largest estates in England. Catherine Bailey finds herself visiting Belvoir as part of her research for a book about the Great War. While combing through the correspondence, she finds that there are three gaps. The 9th Duke had devoted his life to meticulous record keeping. In fact, the 9th Duke passed away in one of the rooms designated as the archives, and after his death, the rooms were closed for almost seventy years. The only conclusion is that the gaps are intentional, but what could the 9th Duke have been trying to hide? Read more

Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon

71qgt050qzlI found Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon at my town library. I was looking for some British history books, and this book was in the same section. I love books/movies about the Royal Family, so I was pleased to have discovered it.

Buckingham Babylon is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor”, and it was published in 1993. There are some major Royal Family life events that have happened since the early 1990s, so in some respects, this book is woefully out of date. Read more

Thinner in 30 by Jenna Wolfe


I received a copy of Thinner in 30 from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received my book on November 25th, and have spent the last month reading it and implementing the steps.

I have seen Jenna Wolfe on The Today Show, and I love her enthusiasm, and her sense of humor.   This book arrived at the perfect time; with three children and a busy schedule, it isn’t always easy to find time for exercising. I used to push the stroller around the neighborhood with my oldest daughter, but when my twins arrived two years later, pushing a double stroller with two babies and a toddler seemed too daunting. Well, the “babies” are now in first grade, the big girl is in third grade, and I no longer have any excuses. This book was just what I needed.   Read more

Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger’s (ASD) by Cornelia Pelzer Elwood & D. Scott MacLeod


I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I have three daughters, and two of them are on the autism spectrum. They are high functioning, and sometimes, people in our community are unaware of the diagnosis because the girls often “present” as neurotypical. This is, perhaps, not the blessing that it might appear to be, because meltdowns and other displays of frustration can be jarring to people who are not close enough with us to know about their diagnoses.

We are grateful to live in a town with a wonderful school system. The teachers we have worked with have extensive knowledge and experience with children on the autism spectrum. On my oldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten, she got up from the table to speak to a friend at the next table. She was not aware of the rule about staying in her seat. The next day, her BLA (behavior learning assistant) provided her with a laminated paper with the cafeteria rules.

This is exactly the sort of thing that authors Cornelia Pelzer Elwood and D. Scott McLeod are hoping to foster with their new book Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger’s (ASD). By the end of the book, you should be able to create a personalized roadmap/guide tailored to your child’s unique situation. Read more