Shootin’ the Breeze with Kay Honeyman

Food For Thought, Interviews, Random

I love historical fiction. But in order for me to love it, it has to be done right – full of writing that transports me back to the time period in which the book was set, characters that are a real and as flawed as me and you, and a book that is so smart, you actually learn a thing or two from it.

For me, Kay Honeyman’s debut, The Fire Horse Girl, is a historical fiction done right! I loved it(and you would know that if you read my review that posted yesterday).  So much so, that I had to reach out to Kay to see if she would be willing to answer some of my burning questions.

Luckily for me, she was willing! Below are all of Kay’s answers to all of my burning questions!

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your path as a writer:

Kay Honeyman (KH): I have loved books since the moment I found their stories tucked between the pages. I know writers who grew up with a pen in their hand and their own story in their head. I grew up with a book in my hand and hundreds of stories in my head. So I have always loved reading, but my love of writing came later, when I was teaching.

In my first years as a teacher, I would assign writing. My students would write and I would grade it. I looked down from my perch once all the i’s were dotted and the paper was filled with double spaced lines of words. I covered their papers with corrections and handed them back expecting light bulbs to go off around the classroom. My students looked at the grades then slide the paper in to their backpacks between a science test and a history worksheet. I realized that I needed to get in the trenches with them. I needed to dig in when the writing was messy and help them fix it.

Turns out, I love it in the trenches! I love peering over their shoulders at a sentence that just isn’t quite right and trying to fix it. I loved moving paragraphs, coming up with better words, brainstorming possibilities. Writing is hard. I spend more time cleaning up than creating, but that is okay because somewhere, buried in the mess are the bones of a story.

BB: What was the inspiration for your debut novel, The Fire Horse Girl?

KH: I started The Fire Horse Girl while my husband and I were waiting to adopt a child from China and this story stayed my constant companion through the process. I started it when we were in line, waiting for a match that turned out to be our son Jack, and I sent the last draft of the acknowledgments and end notes on the day that we were matched with our second child Lily.

While waiting for Jack I started to think about what coming to America would mean for this child. As everyone says, it is a wonderful opportunity, but it made me aware of the other side of immigration. Jack would leave everything he knew for the promise of a life and family with us. Promises can be complicated things. They get made and broken and made again before they are filled. They take faith, hope, and a deep love. So does adoption, and so does immigration. I wanted to tell that side of immigration stories – the price people pay to come to America.

BB: I read on your website that you, like your main character Jade Moon, like stories. What is your favorite Chinese or Chinese-inspired story/legend/folktale? Why?

KH: Of course, I love the Cowherd and Weaver Girl story, but my favorite in the book is probably the one about the woman who wove the cloth that turned into a beautiful Eden for her and her loyal son. It stays with me because her act of creation took faith and sacrifice. Writing a book is not that dramatic, but it feels that dramatic sometimes.

The story I love that is not in the book is called The Butterfly Lovers. It is kind-of Twelfth Night with a Romeo and Juliet ending. A girl disguises herself as a boy and attends school. She falls in love with her schoolmate. When she has to return and marry a wealthy man, she tries to tell her friend the truth, but he doesn’t learn about her love until it is too late and she is promised in marriage to another. The boy dies of depression. The girl visits his grave. She is struck by lightning (or the tomb opens and she jumps inside depending on the version). The lovers are turned into two beautiful butterflies and fly away together. Now, that is an ending!

BB: What kind of research did you do to create such a smart, powerful story?

KH: I did a lot of research. I read Chinese poetry to get a sense of the rhythms and structure of the language. I spent many hours on the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation website ( They have a wonderful collection of stories and interviews from immigrants past and present on their Immigration Voices page. I read everything I could by Judy Yung and Erika Lee. Both have written fabulous books discussing the Chinese immigration experience.

The research was important to me. I think the broad strokes of this story belong to everyone. I see kids in my school in my classroom struggling with their identity. Just like Jade Moon, they are living between the boundaries of labels that squeeze and pinch. But, the specifics of the story, about Angel Island and immigration are not mine, and I wanted to make sure that I got them right.

I did the kind of research that weaves through your life until everything you hear seems to relate to China and immigration. It is the kind of research that causes you to spout out interesting facts about San Francisco in 1923 to innocent bystanders in the checkout line at the bookstore. It is the kind of research you do when you are telling a story where the specifics are not yours, but you can feel for the people who went through this and you want your story to ring true for the families that have been through this and resonate with readers who haven’t.

BB: If you had to choose one character that you see yourself most in, who would that character be and why?

KH: It is hard to choose one. Some of my best traits are in Nushi and Mrs. Ying. Some of my worst are in Sterling Promise (although I’m not as clever or driven) and Harry. In middle school I was more like Spring Blossom, and I really hope I have a little of Neil in me for when I get in a tight spot.

But you said to pick one, so I think I am most like Jade Moon. I come from a family of Jade Moons. It is one of the first things that drew me to the Fire Horse sign. When I read the description of a Fire Horse girl – strong-willed, stubborn – it surprised me that this would be a curse. I like a little spirit in a girl. I’m with Neil, you can’t tell a fighter not to fight, but you can teach them how to pick their battles.

BB: What was the hardest part about writing The Fire Horse Girl? What was the easiest?

KH: I have a lot of trouble with good-bye scenes – like when Jade Moon is saying good-bye to Nushi. I think the first draft of that said something like – And I waved goodbye. I feel like I am leaving that place and that character. Little did I know I would be revisiting it in edit after edit.

It was hard to let go of some of the historical details sometimes. I think I am very lucky that my editor, Cheryl Klein had a good sense of the balance between showing the true world and burying the story in minutia. I wrote the first chapter with all of this fabulous research about Chinese New Year traditions. Thankfully, Cheryl cleaned that up for everyone.

BB: If you were to have written a poem that ended up on the walls of Angel Island, what would your poem say?

KH: I wrote a poem for Jade Moon. I can’t follow the exact structure of a tibishi poem because it would take a much deeper understanding of the Chinese language than I have. Written in the classical style they would have the same number of Chinese characters (seven or five) in each line. There are rules for the tones and rhymes in Chinese poetry. But if I were writing a tibishi poem for Angel Island, it might say something like this:

Waves crash against this rocky shore of broken promises.

As I strain to hear muffled voices from the past.

Words scratched in soft wood by hands wet with tears

Form lines that thread into the present.

BB: Jade Moon’s zodiac is a Fire Horse. Do you think one’s zodiac sign affects one’s personality? How does it affect Jade Moon’s personality and life?

KH: Zodiacs are fascinating. I think we can see in them whatever we want. My son and my mother are not related by blood, but they were born sixty years apart, so they are the same Chinese element and zodiac (fire boars/pigs). The two of them are astonishingly similar. On the other hand my husband and I have the same sign, but it manifests itself in very different ways.

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse partly because she is strong and stubborn. But I think in a way, the Fire Horse girl sign made her strength and stubbornness necessary. When I was writing, I didn’t worry about her sign as much as I thought about how people would treat her and how she would react to that treatment. I think Jade Moon uses her sign sometimes as a convenient explanation for what she does.

BB: What are some of your favorite YA reads?

KH: I read and admire so many YA authors.

The last book that I read is usually one of my current favorites because it is the world that I’m still dwelling in.

I just finished two great reads – Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. It is about a romance on a school trip to London and it would be a great read for fans of Stephanie Perkins’s books (which I am). I also just finished 52 Reasons to Hate my Father by Jessica Brody. I love her books and I am getting ready to read her new novel – Unremembered.

I love books like Okay for Now by Gary D Schmidt and Malcolm in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork because they offer original characters in unique but relatable situations.

If I want something raw and intense I grab a Paul Volponi book like Black and White or Riker’s High. If I want to relish how special everyday moments can be, I read Justina Chin’s North of Beautiful or Return to Me. When I want a character I know I can root for, I reach for an Elizabeth Eulberg story like Revenge of the Girl with a Great Personality.

 BB: What advice could you offer to aspiring writers?

KH: Read and enjoy stories. That would be my advice for anyone, but especially aspiring writers. Practice being open-minded and develop a sense of curiosity.

Reach out to YA authors. Go see them at bookstores and conferences. Writers are so accessible these days. I’m always inspired when I get to meet or hear an author speak.

Find a story you love and tell it. Don’t let doubt or ego get in the way.

Remember that writing is never all bad or perfect. It is somewhere in between and your job is to push it until it’s as good as you can get it.


For more information about author Kay Honeyman and her debut The Fire Horse Girl, check out her website here.

I just want to say THANK YOU! to Kay for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions, not only for me and this blog, but also for all of my readers! I hope everyone will run out and read The Fire Horse Girl, I promise you will not be disappointed!

The Fire Horse Girl


The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman (Received copy from publisher for review)


Jade Moon doesn’t fit in. She doesn’t fit in with her traditional family who only want to see her married off. She doesn’t fit in within the boundaries of the small village in which she lives. The same village that feel nothing but sorrow and pity for her family for bearing the burden of a fire horse girl.

A fire horse girl is more than just a burden. She’s a girl who is far too stubborn. She’s overly passionate. And beyond those qualities, She’s the owner of an overactive imagination. Jade Moon is a fire horse girl, one who dreams about desperately breaking free from the chains of tradition, and leaving a life of her own choosing.

Jade Moon has never seen a way out. That is, until a mysterious stranger named Sterling Promise appears on the step of her family’s home offering both Jade Moon and her old-fashioned father the chance to sail to America – the land in which Jade Moon knows all of her dreams can come true.

But when Jade Moon anchors down on Angel Island, the “Ellis Island of the West” she quickly learns that America is a place that, not only builds dreams, but also breaks them.

Without family and friends to help guide her through her new life, Jade Moon is forced into another life that isn’t of her own choosing. Will she survive? Or will America, the country she now calls home, get the best of her?

The Fire Horse Girl is author Kay Honeyman’s debut novel, and it’s one that will capture readers attention as well as their hearts.

Full of lyrical writing, the first thing that will stand out to readers is that author Honeyman, isn’t only a great writer, she’s a great storyteller. Jade Moon’s tale is more than a coming of age story, it’s more that a story about a girl who finds her way in a new, strange land. It’s a story of life, of love, and of survival. But beyond that, it’s a story about the power and perseverance of the human spirit.

Full of great stories, Honeyman has seamlessly weaved Chinese folktales into her own story. Never relying on another story to tell her own, these tales help readers understand time and place in the novel is set. But beyond that will help readers understand the kind of person, character that Jade Moon is.

Jade Moon is a fierce character, one that will stick with readers long after the book comes to a close. She loves as fiercely as she fights, and yes, she does fight both figuratively and literally speaking. She is a true heroine that readers, both male and female, will see a little bit of themselves hidden within a deep, thoughtful character.

The Fire Horse Girl is a story that is emotional, authentic, and unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It’s full of twists, turns, and surprises on every single page. Beyond that, it’s a story that will transport readers to a world both familiar and strange, a world that is as dangerous and is compliant. The Fire Horse Girl is a great book that readers will relate to, and will learn from.

Book of the Week: Betsy Red Hoodie

Book of the Week, Children's

Betsy Red Hoodie by Gail Carson Levine Illustrated by Scott Nash

Published: 2010 by HarperCollins

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

The (front) endpapers are HYSTERICAL. They portray the flock of sheep dressed in hats, sporting guitars, and chatting among one another. I particularly love the little one who announces that he wants to be a wolf one day.

The sheep are convinced that one of their shepherds is a wolf in disguise.

Betsy is so excited to be “old enough” to go to Grandma’s house all by herself. This is a life changing moment.

But she worries what will happen to the sheep? She is a shepherd and her flock needs tending.

Zimmo, another shepherd, who looks suspiciously like a wolf – that is if wolves dressed in striped yellow pants, with a grey vest, and a yellow scarf.

He explains that Grandmas don’t like wolves. Especially since one was eaten by a wolf.

But Zimmo wouldn’t do such things.

On the way to Grandma’s house, Betsy, the flock of sheep, and Zimmo sing a doo wop song that consists of: “Waa paa Wooo! Baaa! Maahaa has! Do woppa woo!” Catchy isn’t it?

“Cows say mood. Is he a cow?”

Betsy fully believes that Zimmo is a good wolf, one who’s never hurt a human or a sheep. But he is eyeing those cupcakes!

Betsy and the sheep like to pick flowers.

Before arriving at Grandma’s house, Betsy is stopped by a lady hunter who warns her of the dangers of hanging out with a wolf.

Everyone but Betsy believes that he wolf is going to eat everyone and everything. I really love how this fact alone portrays the hope that lives within children, and that should live within adults.

Even the sheep start to turn on Zimmo. Especially when they see him licking his chops. They urge him to eat grass instead.

These are some chatty sheep!

“What do grandmas look like? They have big eyes, the better to see you with. THey have long arms, the better to hung you with. They are long in the tooth, the better to chew with.”

“What do wolves look like? They have big eyes, the better to see you with. They have long arms, the better to hug you with. They have long teeth. They look a lot like grandmas!”

Zimmo runs ahead of Betsy and the sheep. Making even the reader suspicious of his motives.

Betsy is having a hard time gaining control over her flock. One is sitting up in a tree, tweeting, pretending to be a bird. They others won’t move due to rain pouring down on them.

When they finally …. finally reach Grandma’s house Betsy’s suspicions are confirmed – she sees Zimmo and another wolf sneaking around, lurking really, around the house, trying to find a way in.

Scared and determined, Betsy rushes down the hill, and into Grandma’s house only to find a party – for her – in full swing.

Oh, that other wolf? It was Zimmo’s grandma!

I love how this book was suspense filled.

And how even though it’s a retelling of a favorite story, it’s unique and full of new surprises.

Betsy’s birthday party is great! When blowing out the candles on her pink iced cake she wishes for more good days just like the one she just had. Though the sheep have several theories on what her birthday wish really is: more sheep? for her yummy looking pink cake to turn into green grass? To be a sheep one day?

There are many morals to this story: “wolves are good for grandmas. Some wolves are grandmas.  Some grandmas are sheep? And some books never end.”

But I believe the best moral of this story is: not to be so judgmental and to trust your instincts.

I loved Betsy as a character! She’s honest, brave, and wears a spunky red hoodie!

The writing is spectacular! It’s not only strong, it’s fun!

Young readers and old readers alike will really enjoy discovering a new twist on an old tale.

The illustrations are great! They’re vibrant and are the perfect compliment to the text.


My Beautiful Hippie


My Beautiful Hippie by Janet Nichols Lynch


Fifteen-year-old Joanne Donnelly is living on the edge of two very conflicting world. There’s the world in which she lives in full of middle class ideals and values.. There, Joanne strives to become a famous concert pianist.

But mere blocks away, there’s the world in which she longs to be a part of: The world of the counter-culture – the hippies – in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. There Joanne strives to find peace, love, and marijuana.

But what she finds is Martin, a beautiful hippie, that awakens emotions Joanne never knew existed within her. Head over heals, Joanne sets out to learn about and from Martine.

But Martin’s a long-haired hippy, who dreams of roaming the world instead of settling down to a life Joanne pictured for herself. In too deep, Joanne finds herself stuck in a world that she isn’t sure she wants to be a part of anymore.

My Beautiful Hippie written by author Janet Nichols Lynch is a coming of age story that never really comes of age.

Lynch’s writing is solid, providing a vivid backdrop and some rock solid facts. However, where My Beautiful Hippie excels at writing, it fails at pacing.

At only one hundred and ninety-two pages, My Beautiful Hippie is a book that should have flown by. But for me, I found it to be slow with no real end in sight.

As a reader, I could have dealt with the pacing, after all My Beautiful Hippie is not billed as an action-packed thriller. It’s a realistic read that relies too heavily on the realistic. It was like peering through a window into the lives of some terribly boring people.

My Beautiful Hippie’s main character Joanne is a character that I was rooting for up until the very end. She wants so desperately to break away from the ideals and morals she was raised with, to find her own life and freedoms within the world. But for every step she takes away from her parents ideals, she ends up taking two back.

For example, when Martin – the beautiful hippie and Joanne’s love interest – tells her of his plans to never settle down and roam the world – she asks why he doesn’t buy into the American dream (the house with the picket fence, two point five children, and a dog barking playfully in the yard) as if her parents way is the right way.

Even though Joanne fell short somewhere along the line for me, I will say this about her: she’s relatable. Like her reader’s will fully understand familial and societal pressures. Readers will fully understand wanting to step out of shadows of their parents and into their own light. And beyond that, readers will fully understand all the emotions that come with falling in love for the very first time.

What I did enjoy about Lynch’s My Beautiful Hippie was the portrayal of the Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco. The Hippie counter-culture and the time period in which they flourished has always fascinated me.

From My Beautiful Hippie I got a better understanding of the life in that area. I could picture the concert halls full up of marijuana smoke. I could picture the small coffee houses where people performed in the hopes of making a few buck. I could picture the park in which the hippies hung out around.

Even though I did like some aspects of this book, push come to shove, those likes didn’t outweigh the dislikes. My Beautiful Hippie wasn’t my kind of read. It fell short, and ultimately left me disappointed. Even though this book wasn’t the book for me, doesn’t mean it will not be the book for everyone. Check it out, read it for yourselves, and please feel free to discuss!

Book of the Week: The French Fry King

Book of the Week, Children's

The French Fry King by Roge

Published: 2012 by Tundra Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

The French Fry King himself is a dog. But not just any old dog, he happens to be a weenie dog!  Or as the book refers to him as: “a sausage dog”.

His name is Roger. I just love human names for pets.

Roger is a thinker.

He thinks about things like: “if I had a human girlfriend, would we hold hands or paws? If humans were dogs, would they build dog house skyscrapers?” I often wonder if dogs actually think this way.

All the people around Roger seem so rushed and busy, so much so that they barely notice him. On young boy is playing with a rubics cube. An older gentleman is listening to some music on his iPod. An old lady, with a bag full of groceries, is busy chatting on her cell phone.

I really love how all the humans are portrayed as doing really typical, really mundane activities.

Roger wasn’t like other dogs. He was an individual! Unlike other dogs, he doesn’t like chasing the mail men, he didn’t like barking at cars. Instead, he wishes he could be an astronaut.

I love how this book shows young readers to embrace themselves for who they are.

There’s a little boy, running through the street, dressed as Batman. I love it!

The attention to detail is impeccable. For example, author/illustrator portrays a random woman, a passerby, with a magazine tucked neatly under her arm. But it isn’t just any magazine, it’s Elle. And from the looks of her, it’s not surprising that she reads such a magazine.

I like that Roger is a very cultured and informed dog. He likes to read the newspaper.

It’s while he’s reading that he discovers his life’s calling: to become the French Fry King!

He lives in a little silver trailer, where he spends his night peeling potatoes in trying to make all his french fry dreams come true.

His silver trailer home doubles as a food stand.

Sure enough, his french fries are a hit! And why shouldn’t the be? It’s pretty impressive that a dog made them!

Soon the little sausage dog is, not only rich, but also famous!

He travels all over the world selling his fries.

I love how Roger has an adventurous spirit!

I also love how author/illustrator illustrates all the native people of all the countries Roger visits.

With that, how each native eats his/her fry dependent on where they live. For example, in Kenya, the people dipped their fries in chocolate. In Vietnam, they dipped them in soy sauce. In Cuba, they were dipped in spicy salsa. And India they were served in curry.

There are about one hundred ways to eat a french fry. Preferably, I like mine with ketchup!

Roger soon finds out, even though his rich, famous, and loved he still isn’t happy. He still feels as if something is missing from his life.

He abandons his strand and stumbles upon Charlotte the Corn Cob Queen.

It suddenly dawns on Roger what exactly is missing in his life: a friend, a love! Someone to who likes him for who he is, not the French fries he makes.

The two fall in love, and besides living happily ever after, they combine their efforts to create Roger and Charlotte’s Royal Shepherd’s Pie stand.

“Life is beautiful!”

I love how this book shows that no one can really predict the future, that sometimes we have to accept life as it comes.

Roge’s writing is strong. It’s smart, and doesn’t underestimate the books young readers.

The illustrations are simple, refined, and really drive the story forward.

This was a really fun book!

Young children, I think, will love this book. I think they will truly identify with Roger, and his dreams.


Shootin’ the Breeze with Stephanie Kate Strohm

Food For Thought, Interviews

A few weeks ago, on a rainy Friday I picked up a book. Going into the start of the book, I had a (very) brief moment of hesitation. Not because of the book itself, but because I wasn’t exactly sure it was going to be my kind of book. Within a few hours, I finished the book and was, well, surprised. It turned out this book was just the book I needed – it was smart, it was fun, and it was pink (one of my fave colors by the way.)

At this point, you’re wondering what book I’m referring to, right? If you read my latest review that you already know the answer – Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm. I don’t need to tell you, readers, just how much I enjoyed this book.

I enjoyed this book so much, I knew that I wanted to feature author Stephanie Kate Strohm on this blog alongside my review. I knew from the get go that she would be just as fun, energetic, and delightful as her debut novel.

Without further adieu ….

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell a little about yourself, and about your path as a writer?

Stephanie Kate Strohm (SKS):  I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer – I wanted to be an actress.  I was always a big reader, though, and I enjoyed writing in school.   After I graduated from college, I moved to New York to start auditioning, and ended up getting cast in a children’s theater tour.  While on the road, I started writing a blog to keep my friends back home informed about my adventures.  I found myself looking forward to writing the blog more and more, and decided to experiment with writing fiction – just for fun.  As I started working on my young adult story (Twilight was super hot at the time, so I had the YA genre on the brain), I completely fell in love with writing.  I found it was the thing I looked forward to the most every day.  I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel every night so I could write.  To my surprise, I completed a manuscript, and I decided to start sending it to agents.  I knew the chances of getting something published were very small, but I felt like I had nothing to lose.  After sending out lots of query letters, I found an agent who wanted to represent me, and she sold my manuscript to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!  I was very, very lucky.  I followed a nontraditional path to a writing career, and I feel so fortunate do be able to do something that I love so much.

BB:  What was the inspiration behind your debut novel Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink?

SKS:  One summer, I worked at a living history museum, just like Libby does in Pilgrims.   And believe it or not, there was a rumor that the museum was haunted – just like in Pilgrims!  I started to wonder what would happen if someone tried to get to the bottom of the ghost mystery, and that’s how I came up with the idea for Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink.  Most of my ideas come from something that really happened to me, then I start asking “What if…?” and the story develops from there.

BB: Libby is a history nerd, she openly admits and is proud of that (and why shouldn’t she be?!?) Would you consider yourself to be a history nerd yourself? If so, what is one history fact most people don’t know about, but you do?

SKS: Oh, I am absolutely a history nerd.  A giant one!  And I’ve been one my whole life.  As a kid I was much more likely to put on a bonnet and play Westward Expansion that I was to play princess dress-up.  Even now, out of school, I still love studying history, just for fun.  Now the one fact…hmm…I’ll share one of my favorites!  Mary, Queen of Scots, was the first woman reported to play golf!  She even got in trouble for golfing too soon after her husband’s murder!

BB:  At one point in Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, best friend Dev mentions Libby’s love of Radiohead. What songs would one be most likely to find on Libby’s iPod (that is, if she has one)?

SKS: Definitely lots of Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson.  Probably the Decemberists, because they sing about whalebone corsets.  And Radiohead for those introspective moments.

BB:  What is your favorite time period in history? Why?

SKS:  The Wild West – American in the 1880s/90s.  I think this fascination was born out of some Little House on the Prairie love, a healthy dose of Westerns, and a childhood obsession with sharpshooting phenom Annie Oakley.  Of course, I know it wasn’t all saloon girls dancing on top of bars with feathers in their hair – it was a pretty grisly time – but even the grisliness is interesting!

BB: What was the easiest part of writing Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink? The hardest?

SKS: The easiest part was writing the dialogue – I really like all my characters (even the not so nice ones), and I just love writing them all talking to each other!  The hardest part, for me, was dealing with the pacing of the plot.  I struggled a lot with unspooling the events at a good pace and making sure the timeline all made sense.  Luckily, I have a copyeditor who catches me on any timeline mistakes!

BB: What kind of research did you do for Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink?

SKS:  I’d already done most of my research by living it – that summer working at a living history museum proved invaluable!  Most of the additional research I did specifically for this book revolved around colonial wardrobes – many thanks to Colonial Williamsburg’s excellent fashion history website.

BB: If Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink were to be made into a movie, who would you want to see cast as Libby? Cam? Garrett? Ashling? Dev? And who would you want to create the wardrobe/costumes?

SKS:  Aimee Teegarden as Libby and Nicholas Braun as Garrett (they were in Disney’s Prom, a movie I not-so-secretly love), Zac Efron as Cam (although he’s getting close to aging out of the part), Troian Bellisario (Spencer on Pretty Little Liars) as Ashling, and maybe Dev Patel as Dev (I didn’t consciously name Dev after Dev Patel, I swear).  Milena Canonero would have to do the costumes – she did Marie Antoinette, and that movie has the best costumes of all time!

BB: Can You tell anything about any of your upcoming projects?

SKS:  I’m working on a third book in the Libby series, and a brand new YA series that features less history and more theater.  And of course, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture, the sequel to Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, comes out June 4th!  Heartache, haunting, and hoopskirts!

BB:  What piece of advice could you offer aspiring writers?

SKS: Finish.  Finish whatever it is that you’re working on.  Don’t let your piece languish in a file folder forever.  Finish it up, and let people see it!  It’s scary to share your work, but it’s so important to take a chance on your writing, and on yourself.  You never know what could happen!

Guys, isn’t she great! Stephanie Kate Strohm is definitely an author to be on the lookout for! For more information about her and her books, check out her blog here.

A big THANK YOU goes out to Stephanie Kate Strohm for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for the BookBandit Blog?




Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink


Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm


Libby Kelting isn’t just a pink-loving fashionista, she’s a not – so – secret history nerd. She’s proud of the fact that she can spout historical factoids at the drop of a hat, and why shouldn’t she be!?

It’s all those factoids that helped her land an internship at Camden Harbor, a living history museum located in the wilds of Maine. There, not only will she have the chance to dress in period appropriate costumes, but she also will be able to pass along her love of all things history to the next generation of history buffs.

Excited about the summer ahead of her, Libby isn’t letting anything or anyone stand in her way. That is, until she meets her roommate Ashling. Cat-loving Ashling seems hellbent on making Libby’s experience at Camden Harbor and summer miserable.

In a desperate need to get away from Ashling, Libby volunteers to move out of the intern house onto a supposedly haunted ship with a Star-Trek loving, fresh out of college journalist, Garrett.

But once aboard, Libby finds more than she bargains for.

Full of laugh out loud moments and a touch of sweet romance, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink is author Stephanie Kate Strohm’s debut novel.

Vividly descriptive, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink will keep readers entertained and engrossed. Strohm’s writing is simple, yet strong. Often letting the storyline drive the writing, readers get a real sense of what Camden Harbor represents as a living history museum, just how cramped her shared room aboard the historical ship is. But above all those things, from Strohm’s expressive writing, readers get a sense of who the real Libby is – a fashionista who, not only takes pride in the way she looks, but who she is on the inside.

Speaking of Libby — she’s a great character! Richly created, Libby is open and honest, emotionally driven, and real. Far from perfect, Libby has flaws. And it’s exactly those flaws that make her realistic and relateable. She’s a bit clumsy, what with falling head first into a barrel, flashing her Hello Kitty undies to the world. She’s emotionally driven, always following her heart while sometimes forgetting to follow her mind. She’s an unlikely hero, who, when push comes to shove, always does the right thing.

Readers, young and old alike, will find out that a little bit of Libby lives within them. We’ve all known humiliate in front of hot guys, we’ve all experienced overwhelming emotion. Libby is an unlikely hero who readers will root for. That’s what makes her such a great character.

But Libby isn’t the only great character to full the pages of Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink. Cam is the perfect bad boy that every girl will fall head over heels for. Libby’s best friend Dev is simply fabulous. He’s the embodiment of true friendship – always there for Libby through good hair days and bad! And than there’s Garrett, who may not compare to Cam in the hot bad boy department, but he holds his own in the boyishly good-looking one.

There is a whole lot to like about Strohm’s Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink.  What I enjoyed most about this debut was the fact that it was so surprising. Admittedly, judging a book by its cover, I wrongly assumed that this book would be a light, fluffy read – a good beach read. But what I found was the opposite. Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink is a book full of wit, smart writing, and charm – everything I look for in a good book.

At only two hundred and four pages, Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink will make readers crave more – more of Libby, more history-filled storylines, more fun. And lucky for us, Strohm has a new book out – Confederates Don’t Wear Couture – in June that is sure to please all fans.

If you’re looking for a great book, look no further than Strohm’s Pilgrim’s Don’t Wear Pink.

Book of the Week: The Dark

Book of the Week, Children's

The Dark by Lemony Snicket Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Published: 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Children

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

It’s a Lemony Snicket book — enough said.

I love how this book focuses on something that a lot of children are fearful of: the dark.

With that, I love how this book shows young readers that the dark isn’t anything to be afraid of.

The little boy (who readers later find out is named Laszlo), on the first page is shown with a flashlight, alone in the dark, and shining his light on the title page. Very clever!

I love how this book portrays the dark, not only a character, but an actual entity.

The dark lives with Laszlo.

They live in a house that is big. It’s roof often creaks. And there are many, many stairs to climb.

It takes the dark a while to reach Laszlo and his room late at night.

The dark is a bit of a trickster – sometimes it hides deep within the closet. Other times it shields itself behind the shower curtain. But mostly, the dark was in the basement.

As the story progresses, the dark creeps more and more onto the pages.

This book, without relying on time, shows the different between night and day. Day is often bright, while night is not.

The dark speaks. Reading this book I imagined that his tone of voice was deep and booming.

But in reality, the dark sounded as creaky as the old roof, as smooth and cool as the window, and even though the dark whispered in little Laszlo’s ear, it sounded far off.

Laszlo believes if he visits the dark in his room, maybe the dark wouldn’t visit him in his.

When the dark does visit Laszlo in his room he visits because he wants something. The dark wants to show Laszlo something.

I love how Laszlo sleeps with his flashlight instead of a teddy bear or some other stuffed animal.

Laszlo searches all over for the dark. But it’s not until he reaches the top of the basement stairs that he finds him.

I’ll admit: when reading this part – when the dark was loring Laszlo into the basement late at night – I was a bit scared.

Laszlo is brave. He shows readers that facing fears is a natural part of life and part of growing up.

In the basement, the dark asks Laszlo to step in, come closer. But to what?

To a small dresser situated in the middle of the dark room.

I love how this book offers an explanation of why people are afraid of the dark, and why the dark is the way it is. What are some explanations: “[…]The dark is always close by.” “Without a creaky roof the rain would fall on your bed, and without a smooth, cold window, you could never see outside.” But most of all, without the dark “you would never know if you needed a lightbulb.”

The dark asks Laszlo to open the bottom draw.

What’s in the bottom draw? It’s a mystery for all readers.

Inside the bottom drawer are lightbulbs. Lightbulbs fit for a nightlight.

Thanks to the dark Laszlo isn’t afraid anymore. In fact, the next day he visits the dark in the basement.

This is such a great book for everyone and anyone. Why? Because we all know what it’s like to be fearful of something.

Laszlo is a great character. He’s smart and easy for young readers to relate to.

The dark too is a great character. I love how he’s portrayed as being something foreboding. Even though, as it turns out the dark is a big ol’ softy!

This was a book that I was looking forward to for a while, has high expectations of. And it filled all those expectations!



Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality


Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg


From the outside looking in, one would assume that Lexi is the girl that has it all. She has great friends, smarts that come naturally to her, but above all things, she has a great personality.

But Lexi often doesn’t feel like the girl who has it all. Stuck in her seven-year old sister’s shadow, Lexi feels as if she just doesn’t compare to the pint-sized beauty queen. In comparison, Lexi often feels unattractive and unloved.

Sick of living in a shadow of an often bratty seven-year old, Lexi decides to step out of the shadows and into the limelight. But not willingly. In the hopes of helping her friend Benny overcome his fear of talking to guys, Lexi decides to overcome her fear of wearing a dress and makeup to school.

Suddenly transformed into the girl she’s always wanted to be, Lexi soon finds out the beauty and popularity aren’t all what they are cracked up to be. Sure the popular crowd has accepted her as one of their own, and the guy of her dreams finally takes notice, but what happens if Lexi herself, doesn’t fully accept these new changes?

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is author Elizabeth Eulberg’s four novel, and in all seriousness, has to be one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.

Eulberg’s writing is supreme. Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality isn’t only a fun read, it’s honest, packed with hard hitting issues like divorce, sibling rivalry, and even bullying. But most of all this book is full of relatable character, situations, and emotions.

Every girl, at one point or other has felt exactly what main character Lexi feels – as if they aren’t pretty or even good enough to land the guy of their dreams. Eulberg’s writing will strike a chord with all readers, and will show through Lexi, that sometimes reality is better than dreams.

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is full of memorable characters that will leave readers wishing Lexi and crew were real people, wishing they could be friends with all of them. Lexi, is a strong character. She’s determined, smart, and yes, dare I say it — has a great personality.

But just like you and I, Lexi has flaws too. She tends to not see herself as others do. Her self-worth and confidence wavers here and there. But all of those flaws make her more likable, in fact she’s downright lovable.

Besides Lexi, there are characters like Cam and Benny, who aren’t just great characters, they’re great friends. Both of them bring out the best of Lexi. Cam keeps her grounded, while Benny builds her confidence.

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is a five-star book. It’s the kind of book that will make readers laugh, cry, and experience every emotion in between.