Female Author Spotlight Day 3

Shirley Jackson

‘I can’t help it when people are frightened,’ says Merricat. ‘I always want to frighten them more.’ “

Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Best Known for her work in the genres of horror and mystery, Shirley Jackson wrote six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories. Her best short story, most of you may know from your time in school, was “The Lottery.” The story is about a small town participating in the lottery every year. Only at the end does one find out what winning the lottery really means. Similar to yesterday’s highlighted female author, Madeleine L’Engle, I enjoy Shirley Jackson because of her quirky and different characters. I have read two of Jackson’s novels along with “The Lottery,” and I immensely enjoyed both of them. The characters she creates, and the way Jackson writes has such a unique word choice and pattern. I enjoy that many conversations characters have in the books appear to be fantastical, and often regarded by many of the more “normal” people as odd. I think it is absolute genius to have one of your characters be enamored with living on the moon with golden spoons. The storytelling often follows a similar pattern.

The Haunting of Hill House


I recently finished reading The Haunting of Hill House. As I am sure with many of you, my first dip into this story was the very successful Netflix television series. I loved the series, but let me tell you the book is quite different. Did that mean I disliked the book? Quite the contrary; I enjoyed it even more. Now, I had two stories about the infamous Hill House! It was also really interesting to see where Netflix got their ideas from while reading the original story. As long as you are not biased towards to TV show; I think you should really read The Haunting of Hill House. It lives up to its title of horror defining and best literary ghost story. The book has also inspired other movies and theatricals.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle

The other Jackson novel I have read is We Have Always Lived In The Castle. It is less of a horror and more of a thriller than The Haunting of Hill House. It definitely dives more into a psychological realm rather than a supernatural one. Plus, lots of family and small town drama. Who doesn’t want to read about that, right? Fantastic characters that really make you think placed in a very unusual, yet interesting setting. Also, adapted into a film with one of my favorite actors, Sebastian Stan.

Shirley Jackson has claimed her spot in the horror and mystery genre of literature. The Shirley Jackson Awards are now given in her honor to new authors and pieces of works in those areas. Many famous authors, such as Steven King and Neil Gaiman, cite her as an inspiration for their own work. However, the thing I love most about Shirley Jackson is the wit, life, and humor she would put into her books about death and horror. She named one her memoirs Living with Savages to discuss life with her children. Hilarious! Also, on my to be read list. I leave you now with a few quotes attributed to her before you run to the library and check out her books.

‘The persona that Jackson presented to the world was powerful, witty, even imposing,’ wrote Zoë Heller in the New Yorker.‘She could be sharp and aggressive with fey Bennington girls and salesclerks and people who interrupted her writing. Her letters are filled with tartly funny observations. Describing the bewildered response of New Yorker readers to ‘The Lottery,’ she notes, ‘The number of people who expected Mrs. Hutchinson to win a Bendix washing machine at the end would amaze you.’ “

Zoe Heller, New Yorker

‘She did work hard,’ her son Laurence said. ‘She was always writing, or thinking about writing, and she did all the shopping and cooking, too. The meals were always on time. But she also loved to laugh and tell jokes. She was very buoyant that way.’ “

Laurence Jackson

Madeleine L’Engle

Our next female author in this week’s showcase is Madeleine L’Engle. She is most well known for being the author of A Wrinkle In Time. I read A Wrinkle In Time when I was 11 years old, and it has been my favorite book since. When I was entering college I discovered A Wrinkle In Time was actually part of a series. One summer I read the entire set, and I personally think they are all phenomenal. The series continues following the Murry family from A Wrinkle In Time. The Time Quintet, as it is called, even has one book that is considered part of two L’Engle’s series, An Acceptable Time. The other series is centered on the O’Keefe family which is connected to A Wrinkle In Time. She focuses heavily on her christian faith mixed with her interest in science in her writings.

Why I love A Wrinkle In Time so much though is L’Engles ability to make such quirky, strong, and dynamic characters. I always love a character in a book that has such a quirky and cultured persona. I love that L’Engle highlights that with the entire Murry family from A Wrinkle In Time. To picture this family in their home drinking hot chocolate in the middle of the night discussing moving through time, old religion stories, or just what crazy invention one of them is making next is such an impactful image to me. I want that life. I feel I live that life. The unique stories of what people do with ones they care about just simply in their homes rather than for some big show are the best kind of stories to explore. That is why I love not only A Wrinkle In Time, but Madeleine L’Engle.

L’Engle is not only a novelist, but a poet and playwright, as well. I read a book of her poems including “Lines Scribbled on an Envelope.” She also dives into non-fiction writing. She has four movie adaptations of her books. I highly suggest looking into Madeleine L’Engle’s writings if you are interested in a very unique perspective with fascinating characters. If you are interested in learning more about the author herself check out her granddaughters’ biography, Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters. I know it is going on my reading list.

Female Authors

This week on the blog I want to highlight some of my favorite female authors. I will showcase some of my favorites that I have enjoyed for a great period of time, and some who are recent finds! I hope you enjoy learning, as well as supporting these great women by reading the blog this week and reading their books for yourself!

Now! Time to start us off…

Agatha Christie

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

-Agatha Christie

No female author list of mine would not include my queen, Agatha Christie. If asked who my favorite author is of all time… it is this woman. The queen of mystery is the best selling fiction novelist of all time according to the Guinness World Records. She not only is a novelist, but a playwright. Her play, The Mousetrap, is the longest running play in the world. She also has world renowned characters that are up there with Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, and Romeo and Juliet. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are her most well known.

Not only are her books intriguing, but her life, as well. After her divorce to her first husband she mysteriously disappeared. Her car was found alone, and no one knew where Miss Christie was. About ten days later she was found with apparently no memory of what happened. Her own autobiography does not even acknowledge the disappearance. She also served in hospital dispensaries in both World Wars. She went on archeological digs in the Middle East with her second husband. She became a Dame in 1971 for her contribution to literature.

And Then There Were None is the best selling mystery book in the world. It has been made into a play and TV series adaptation. The amount of her books that have been adapted into plays, movies, and TV series is immense. Her characters have also been adapted upon. Even she has become a character in film and television. I love the Doctor Who episode with Agatha Christie in it. Later this year a new version of Death on the Nile will hit theaters. Those who have Amazon Prime Video have many adaptation options including the three part Ordeal by Innocence. Though different from the book I still enjoyed it.

4:50 From Paddington


My personal favorite Agatha Christie book is a part of the Miss Marple Collection. This book is what got me interested in Agatha Christie. However, it was not the book itself, but a hidden object game that I played visiting my grandma one summer. It was the second Christie’ novel I read, and one I always recommend if you are interested in a less famous book of hers.

Other recommendations by Agatha Christie that I give to you are

  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Death on the Nile
  • Peril at End House
  • Dead Man’s Folly
  • Ordeal by Innocence
  • Sad Cypress

Check out more Agatha Christie books, plays, adaptations, and her autobiography. You will never be disappointed with the Queen of Mystery.

A Summer of Baseball Continues

In my head summer invokes many images; swimming, lemonade, fairs, and heat, but it always makes me think of baseball. I love going to baseball games. The atmosphere always makes me think of being a kid in a 1930s movie. A game gives you such great American baseball imagery: the organ music, hotdogs and peanuts, and of course the game itself. I love the love for your team that is just in the air at a baseball game.

I already spoke of going to the Hays’ Larks this year, but I also have been blessed to go see my favorite team this summer… the Kansas City Royals. Kauffman Stadium may be one of my favorite places on the planet. The K has many great features since its renovation in 2009. The most distinguished being the 84 feet wide and 105 feet tall scoreboard in the outfield. At the time it was the largest high definition LED display in the world. The stadium includes multiple food areas, sales, and kid’s games.

The best part of a Royal’s game, in my opinion, is if you go to one on a Friday night. Every Friday home game there is dollar hot dogs and fireworks. I love fireworks. I do not care how many times you see them in your life; there is something always magical about fireworks. Everyone looking up at the same spot in the sky completely entranced… I just love that high of a level of communal happiness.

Check out the Royals’ website for tickets, schedule, stats, roster, and merchandise. Finally, get yourself to a Royals game at Kauffman stadium on a Friday night! I promise you that is summer feeling you do not want to miss.

Remember #TogetherRoyal

Mildred’s

Need to stop for breakfast or lunch in downtown Kansas City? Head over to Mildred’s. There are two locations located in the crossroads art district and the historic 9th street district.

Established in Downtown Overland Park, Mildred’s has been a staple in the local cafe scene for over 25 years. What started in the mid 1990’s as a simple “Ma & Pa” has grown into one of the most popular breakfast and lunch establishments in the downtown area.With an abundant variety of scratch made baked goods, extensive specialty coffee and espresso bar, notably delicious sandwiches, salads and soups, Mildred’s has all your bases covered. The “Standard Breakfast Sandwich” is known to many as being the ultimate breakfast sandwich in the city.”

-Mildred’s website

I went with the breakfast hash, mimosa, and a chai latte to go. I am obsessed with chai tea lattes. The drink is a staple part of my diet. Anyone else out there who is a fan of chai; I suggest Mildred’s. The menus of both locations contain food and beverages that can be found online, so you can see what other items might interest you.

Finally, the building and decor of the restaurant was fantastic. I loved the aesthetic and colors. It definitely has a downtown restaurant vibe that could cater to a variety of customers. I went to the historic 9th street location, and appreciated the continuation of the art deco style seen throughout the district in the building, windows, and tiles. It also had a loft or warehouse ceiling that tends to be in downtown buildings.

Make sure you visit one of the Mildred’s locations for either a quick bite or a nice sit down breakfast or lunch in Kansas City!

Hotel Phillips

The Hotel Phillips by Hilton is a hotel that allows one to step back in time when visiting Kansas City, Missouri. I recently experienced this time traveling hotel myself. Located on 12th street the hotel was built in 1931. The hotel still has its Art Deco architecture style throughout the building with a more modern room setting. Hotel Phillips is even on the list of National Register of Historic Places. The lobby contains an eleven-foot sculpture of the Goddess of Dawn created in 1931. Before the Hotel Phillips was built another hotel was built on the spot, the Glennon Hotel. This hotel had a haberdashery shop opened by President Harry S. Truman. The Hotel Phillips is surrounded by theaters, restaurants, convention centers, and the Power and Light District.

My favorite part of The Hotel Phillips is that it homes a contemporary reincarnation of a 1930s speakeasy. The P.S. Speakeasy is only accessible by an unmarked door in an old mail room of the hotel. It serves its own handcrafted cocktails and an assortment of wine, bourbons, and whiskies. Remember though, this place is secret so shhhh 😉

Larks 75th Anniversary

I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to work with the Hays Larks Baseball Association as a research assistant during the beginning of the year in preparation for the 75th anniversary season. I really learned a lot about the team, players, and organization while going through old newspaper articles from the past 75 years. Microfilm at the Hays Public Library became my new best friend. I assisted with the project back in January through March. So, it is really exciting now to see the 75th anniversary weekend happening June 18th through June 20th. If you are in Hays, Kansas and want to see a baseball celebration… get to Larks Park! Friday June 18th is the big night. The Hays Larks’ facebook page states the plans for Friday night are

The Hays Larks will celebrate their 75th anniversary season at Friday night’s home game against the Denver Cougars. Game time has changed; it will be an hour earlier, with first pitch at 6 p.m. at Larks Park.More than 60 Larks Legends are expected to return to Hays this weekend. They will be introduced between innings at Friday’s game. After the game, there will be a free concert at the park, with the band Homebrew performing.Larks baseball cards are available for purchase starting Friday, at the Phaze 2 apparel store at the park. The store also will have available for purchase 75th anniversary caps, t-shirts and women’s tank tops.Also at Friday’s game, raffle tickets will go on sale for a Larks jersey signed by Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman. A total of 150 tickets costing $20 each will be sold, with the winner announced once all tickets have been purchased.Larks fans also can view signs on the back grandstand of former Larks who went on to have notable careers in the major leagues.”

-Hays Larks Association

Even if you cannot make it to the Larks’ 75th anniversary you should really take advantage of visiting the park during the rest of the summer. Admission is free, there is great seating, concessions, raffles, and merchandise for sale at the games every time the team plays. Plus, they are a pretty great team to watch. If you are in Hays, Kansas anytime this summer, but especially the weekend of June 18th-20th you need to hit Larks Park.

Lastly, if you find Larks History fascinating check out their facebook page. They constantly update it with “This Day In Larks’ History” posts. They are a great association you should look into whether you are a baseball fan or not.

Charleston Day Three

Middleton Place

Day three in Charleston began with us journeying to the plantation, the Middleton Place. Owned by the Middleton family throughout important moments of history, such as the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Arthur Middleton even signed the Declaration of Independence. One can visit the museum, gardens, stables, and Eliza’s home on the plantation. This location was my favorite adventure in Charleston. ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.

Once we got back into Charleston we yet again hit King Street. However, we stopped at the City Market first. The market is a collection of various booths of different vendors. You can purchase anything from hats to candy at the market. Other King Street shops that I stopped at that I particularly enjoyed was the Savannah Bee Company, Anthropologie, Earthbound, and Madewell.

Charleston Day Two

Day Two

On our second day in Charleston we visited the South Carolina Aquarium. We purchased the tickets as a combo package with our Harbor Tour we took later in the afternoon. The aquarium specializes in saving sick or injured sea turtles, and then rehabilitating them in effort to return the turtles back to the ocean. At the aquarium you can even see the turtles they are caring for at the moment.

Later in the afternoon we went on a harbor tour where you could see and learn about specific history and locations of Charleston around the harbor. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of dolphins.

Finally, we ended the day with some more shopping on King Street, dinner, and catching a musical at the 34 West Theatre Company. Let me tell you… this was one of the most amazing productions I have seen. The musical Stayin Alive is set in the 70s on a soap opera set with different characters played by three actors. Being a jukebox musical it utilized disco songs for its score. Placed not in an auditorium, but more a small jazz club setting with vintage drinks at the bar. I HIGHLY suggest visiting this if in Charleston. The show was hilarious.

Charlestown Day One

Recently I visited Charleston, South Carolina. If you need a relaxing time, but also want the opportunity to see historical sites, culture, entertainment, or have a shopping spree… this is the place to visit. I went on this trip with some friends, and our first day in Charlestown began with a walking tour in the downtown historic district. In my opinion a great place to start in a new city you are visiting is some type of overall tour. There are a variety of walking tours in Charlestown; we went on Lowcountry Walking Tours. The company has a variety of different walking tours in Charleston to choose from. I not only got to see most of the downtown historic district, but also learned the history surrounding the area, as well. If you are history nerd like me I highly suggest Charlestown to visit. It is one of the older cities in America such as Boston and New York. If you are interested in the history of the creation of America… add Charlestown to your list. I learned about where George Washington went and about people who signed the Declaration of Independence. History buffs, you can also learn a lot about the Civil War, Fort Sumter, a rice economy, pirates, slavery, and many of the rich and famous of Charleston’s past. Highlights from my walking tour included Rainbow Row, the Battery, St. Micheal’s Church, the four corners of law, and so many beautiful house.

After we finished our walking tour we had lunch at Toast. A restaurant which serves breakfast all day, so my kind of restaurant. Then we visited the Gibbes Museum of Art. I love art museums, and have visited some of the best in the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the National Gallery in London. I rather enjoyed the Gibbes Museum of Art which focused on Charlestown art.

Next we stopped at the Nathanial Russell Home. One of the historic homes you can tour in Charlestown. We ended the day with dinner and some shopping on King Street before heading back to the hotel pool. A few of our favorite finds from King Street were Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and Blue Bicycle Books. Jeni’s is an ice cream shop that has a variety of flavors and that you can buy by the scoop. They also have dairy free ice cream and deliver certain flavors by the pint nationwide. I have already had a delivery of Jeni’s come to my home since leaving Charlestown. Blue Bicycle Books was a personal favorite of mine. I picked up three books. They have a great selection of used, new, rare, and signed books.