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Time To Plant!

If you are like me, and enjoy planting,  the first day of spring is an exciting time. The flowers are beginning to bloom, the trees are not simple sticks, and plants are ready to be potted! For those that are new to planting I have a few plants that are near impossible to kill.

  1. Succulents- First, these plants do not always do well within glass. Their roots need space to breath and for drainage. A common mistake for first time succulent owners is to over-water, under-water, or have an incorrect pot for the plant. All plants require special love, care, and knowledge to make sure they flourish. That said, here are two succulents that require less care than others.

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Aloe Vera-Requires low light, low water, and when the leaf is broken it can be used for sunburns. For potting, watering, and fertilizer instructions please visit: https://www.almanac.com/plant/aloe-vera

 

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Gollum- Does well in high humidity and high light areas. Requires very little care. For more detailed information please visit: https://www.succulentsandsunshine.com/types-of-succulents/crassula-ovata-gollum/

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2. Ivy- Common mistakes with ivy plants occur when watering. When watering PLEASE make sure that when the water drains from the bottom of the pot and onto the water  dish, MOVE THE PLANT INTO THE SINK AND LET WATER DRAIN. Ivy is notorious for drowning in excess water. Otherwise, this plant will survive any light or weather conditions. It’s a hardy plant.

Devil’s Ivy- Great for any light conditions but must allow excess water to drain out of the plant. These hate to sit in their extra water. If you are notorious about under-watering these plants can survive you! For more details please go to: https://makingmrsm.com/beginner-houseplants-devils-ivy/

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English Ivy- Note: this plant is toxic to dogs and cats. Featured in many design magazines English Ivy climbs quickly and requires little to no maintenance. Simply water once a week, fertilize once a month, and keep in bright light. For more details and potting instructions: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/lush-amp-lively-english-ivy-best-tips-for-growing-care-243241

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3. Closet Plants- Also known as office plants. These require little to no care except for watering. Make sure to have correct drainage pots for these plants and you are good to go!

Peace Lilies- Note: Peace Lilies can be grown in water. These plants require little water or care and little to no fertilizer. It will eventually need to be re-potted as it can grow quickly. So if the plant starts to sag after watering it may be time to re-pot. More information for this plant can be found here: https://www.almanac.com/plant/peace-lilies

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Cast Iron Plant- These plants require some watering but low light. If you are someone that under-waters a plant, this specimen can handle you! Over-watering… not so much, it can be susceptible to root rot.

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If even after reviewing all the information you feel unsure. Here are some final tips to make sure you know how to check if a plant has enough water.

How to check if you are watering your plant too much:

Soil feels and appears mud-like hours after watering.

Brown tips on the leaves.

Leaf fall.

Rotten odor.

How to check if you are not watering your plant enough:

Yellow leaves.

Dusty soil.

Leaning stem.

No one has a “black thumb” with research, love, and proper care anyone can have a healthy garden!

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Featured Writer: Patrick Dunn

Greetings!

My name is Patrick Dunn, and I’m an author that Dr. Weiner has brought on to write fantasy fiction blogs posts. I am currently a senior earning my Bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing from the online division of Southern New Hampshire University. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

For this first post, I wanted to talk a bit about myself and my path to becoming a reader and writer. In the future, I’d love to write about book suggestions and the different ways that I’ve seen fantasy authors build the worlds in their stories. I hope that you enjoy my posts!

I have so many memories from my childhood of poring over books. These experiences hold emotions that are so strong, they stand out like flashes of lightning. I remember experiences when a book was so fantastic, I couldn’t stop reading it, even though it was one o’clock in the morning, and I needed to head to school later that morning. I remember experiences of sitting with a cat by my feet, gripped by suspense—I turned the pages, losing my sense of time in enjoyment of the book. I can also recall times of shaking bouts of laughter as a character did or said something foolish or bizarre. Books continue to amaze me with how they can cause readers to act the same way that people can. Perhaps books are people made of paper.

When I was eight years-old, my second grade class was given a creative writing assignment—write an original short story. It was then that I discovered my passion for writing. Inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit, I wrote my first short tale about a talking rabbit who meets a dragon. The two set off on a most marvelous and weird journey, and, from what I remember, I wasn’t very happy with it. I thought that it was just “ok.” People read the story and encouraged me to keep writing. So, I did.

I fell into a habit that I wouldn’t recommend to even those that I dislike the most. First, I would write a short story. Then, I would read that story over. At that point, I would sometimes edit a few paragraphs here and there, but editing wasn’t important to me. Finally, I would become disappointed over how terrible I felt the story was, and throw the writing out or delete it from my computer. This lasted for two very long years, until I met the author Shawn Cormier.

A fantasy author best known for the book Nomadin, Shawn Cormier has been my mentor for several years now. We met when I was eleven years-old, during a writing event at a library. After talking with him and telling him how much I enjoyed writing, he encouraged me to email him my work. At the time, I had nothing to send anyone. I went home and started typing what came to my mind. Having no idea that I would actually finish the project, I began typing what would become my first novel, The Magus: Book One in the Magus Trilogy.

Over the course of about two years, I slowly wrote the book. Finding weekends and afternoons after school most convenient, I would write a chapter, and then email it to Shawn, who’d look it over and email back his comments and guidance. I absolutely loved this whole process, and I’ve grown as a writer more from Shawn’s influence than any other writer. Along the way, I took inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien, Margery Williams, and Christopher Paolini, who I consider masters of the art.

Once the book was completed, I knew that I needed a good editor. A very, very good editor is actually what I was seeking. I came across Dr. Weiner’s editing website and was nothing but impressed with her credentials and that of her staff. After a brief phone call with her, I knew that she was the person for the job. I’m happy to say that she is indeed a very, very good editor.

In August, 2013, I self-published The Magus through CreateSpace.com, which is owned by Amazon.com. I was very pleased that something that I’d worked on had actually been published.

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Soon after The Magus was published, my town newspaper actually interviewed me about my book and my inspirations.

Thank you very much for reading!

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5 Flash Fiction Pieces to Celebrate Women’s History Month

By Anne Jonas

In honor of Women’s History Month, I have chosen 5 flash fiction pieces written by, or about, women. These pieces take no more than 5 minutes to read, and are perfect for any spare moments you have throughout your day.

1. Break, by Rabih Alameddine

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Image Source: Chloe Scheffe, The New Yorker

This piece chronicles the relationship between a sister and a brother who correspond over the course of seven years with just photographs. What is the reason for such a peculiar form of communication, you may ask? The narrator is a trans-woman whose family disowned her upon her transitioning, and threatened her brother not to speak or write to her without consequences. This story is a haunting portrait of the breaking and reparation of family, love, and loneliness.

“He broke first. I received a four-by-six portrait of his son with a slightly bleeding nose, taken hastily, badly lit, likely by a bathroom bulb. On the ten-year-old face, a thread of blood trickled from nose to upper lip, curving an ogee around the corner of the mouth and down the chin. The boy was in no pain; he looked inquisitively at the camera, probably wondering why his father had had the urge to bring it out.

I held my breath for a beat or two or three when I saw the image. On the back of the photograph Mazen had written, ‘I keep seeing you.’”

2. Girl, by Jamaica Kincaid

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Image Source: Jefferson Wheeler

In this laundry list of dos and don’ts, demands, and warnings, Jamaica Kincaid exposes the unembellished realities of growing up as a girl in a patriarchal world. Written in 1978, in the height of the Second Wave feminist movement, Kincaid’s story feels just as personal as it does political. It is not flashy about its brilliance, and yet in its modesty it proves to be a nuanced masterpiece.

“this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know”

3. The Huntress, by Sofia Samatar

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Image Source: Del Samatar

In this sci-fi fast fiction piece, an impossibly large female monster called The Huntress terrorizes the inhabitants of a city below. The narrator is a foreigner to this place and is fatally unprepared for the wrath of The Huntress. This piece weaves together intense sensory imagery with disorienting ambiguity; we, as readers, feel just as on-edge as the narrator.

“The Huntress left dark patches wherever she passed. She left a streak. In the morning, the hotel staff would find me unconscious, gummed to the floor. The proprietor weeping, for nothing like this had ever happened in his establishment, nothing. Had I not read the instructions on the desk?”

4. Housewife, by Amy Hempel

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Image Source: VICE

In this one-sentence story, Amy Hempel humorously captures the pure delight of a cunning, two-timing housewife rejoicing in her latest affair. Hempel relays the sexual freedom and polyamorous nature of a modern-day woman who seeks her own pleasure first, and protocols second.

“She would always sleep with her husband and with another man in the course of the same day, and then the rest of the day, for whatever was left to her of that day, she would exploit by incanting, ‘French film, French film.’”

5.  John Redding Goes to Sea, by Zora Neale Hurston

 

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Image Source: Fotosearch / Getty Images

Zora Neale Hurston is one of my all-time favorite female novelists as well as an iconic figure in feminist history. Although she is primarily known and celebrated for her novels, her fast-fiction and short stories are equally deserving of praise. In this piece, Hurston masterfully uses dialect to illustrate the story of John Redding, a ten-year-old daydreamer who imagines his backyard stream is a great sea.

“The little brown boy loved to wander down to the water’s edge, and, casting in dry twigs, watch them sail away downstream to Jacksonville, the sea, the wide world and John Redding wanted to follow them.

Sometimes in his dreams he was a prince, riding away in a gorgeous carriage. Often he was a knight bestride a fiery charger prancing down the white shell road that led to distant lands. At other times he was a steamboat captain piloting his craft down the St. John River to where the sky seemed to touch the water. No matter what he dreamed or who he fancied himself to be, he always ended by riding away to the horizon; for in his childish ignorance he thought this to be farthest land.”

For those who feel like they don’t have the time to read a full-fledged novel, or who desire a fast-paced narrative, fast fiction is the way to go. However, do not assume that just because these pieces are short, they are any less than a novel or a lengthier piece. Fast fiction is an important subgenre of literature because it stretches the expectations of what we perceive fiction to be. It teaches us to be creative and really think about the words we are writing. Fast fiction is a lean and efficient form; nothing is arbitrary. It is important that we read works like these so that we, too, may become better readers and writers.

For more fast fiction pieces, check out:

https://flashfictionmagazine.com/

http://www.100wordstory.org/

http://thecollagist.com/

https://everydayfiction.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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Libertad

 

¡LIBERTAD!

¡LIBERTAD!

We chant together as we walk arm and arm in the streets. The sun shines against the brightly colored buildings– the glittering paints at odds with the hunger stricken faces. Thousands push against the PNB shields of the police and hundreds of the police push back against the crowd. Behind the police, smoke drifts between the city buildings. The aid for us—medicine, food, toiletries, all burning on Maduro’s order—all burning in front of us. The smell of food wafts over the crowd and our stomachs rumble—its been days since our last meal.

¡NO QUEREMOS MADURO!

¡NO QUEREMOS MADURO!

We chant again and again. The desperation for change apparent as we wave our embroidered star flags of blue, red, and yellow.

¡LIBERTAD POR VENEZUELA!

¡DESAYUNA!

¡DESAYUNA!

¡DESAYUNA!

You chant again and again pushing past others to reach the supplies. But to no avail. The orange flames lick the boxes, shrinking them down to ash within minutes. The demonstration of power now over, the police give up on simple shields and bean bag bullets. As one, they throw down their shields and switch to live ammunition and machetes. The officer in front of you swings his machete at a young couple. You turn away from their inevitable end– just as the first wave of screams erupt over the square as bullets find their marks. Engines rumble as armored trucks run over the protesters on the other side of the square. The person clinging to your arm on your left disappears under a tire, the person to your right falls from a bullet. Blood soaks your shoes–smoke and metal enters your nose. Yet still, you protest forward. Hands from others reach for you and together you push forward.

¡LIBERTAD!

¡LIBERTAD!

No news cameras are seen. No more aid is sent.

¿Quién más peleará?

 ¿Quién más pasará hambre?  

Photo credit to NBC

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5 Authors to Read Year Round

  1. AUDRE LORDE- One of the pillars of queer literature, Audre Lorde is famous for her many works in poetry, her invention of the biomythography, and her essays. A self-described, “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Lorde dedicated both her life and her talent to addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classicism, and homophobia. Each of her works remain relevant and tackle social issues that are still found today.

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“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde

2. JAMES BALDWIN-An American novelist, playwright, and activist. One of his novels If Beale Street Could Talk, recently won an Academy Award. His works delve into the effects of racism for both the oppressed and the oppressor. Unlike other authors, Baldwin’s slow approach to revealing racism is at first subtle, but as you travel deeper into both his essays and novels, you are transported into a realistic interpretation of racism–– that racism is not just a black or white area, but a complicated and messy grey web of multifaceted and harmful philosophies that need to be carefully analyzed to understand.

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“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin

3. ELIZABETH ACEVEDO-   Elizabeth Acevedo is an award-winning slam poet and bestseller of her novel The Poet X. The book has gone on to receive: the 2018 Boston GlobeHorn Book Award, the Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature, the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and the Michael L. Printz Award for 2019. It was also a finalist for the Kirkus Prize. Her works not only blur the lines between prose and language, but they also question today’s philosophy of racism, physical presence, sexuality, and religious faith.

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“Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?” – Elizabeth Acevedo

4. ALICE DUNBAR NELSON-Poet, essayist, diarist, and activist. Her works exploring racism were largely rejected by publishers during her lifetime. As a highly successful journalist, she fought against the male-dominated field and was often denied recognition or payment for her articles. Her first collection, “Violets and Other Tales” (published in 1895), is referred to as the first-ever short story collection ever published by an African-American woman. Best known for her prose, Alice Nelson is one of the few authors of her time to portray the complicated reality of African American women during the Harlem Renaissance. Her portrayal includes women as intellectuals, addressing topics such as racism, oppression, family, work, and sexuality.

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It is dark, like the passionate women of Egypt; placid, like their broad brows; deep, silent like their souls. Within its bosom are hidden romances and stories, such as were sung by minstrels of old. From the source to the mouth is not far distant, visibly speaking, but in the life of the bayou a hundred heart-miles could scarce measure it.

– Alice Dunbar Nelson

5. OCTAVIA E. BUTLER-

A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, she became in 1995 the first Science-Fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Her work changed the very grounds of Science Fiction. She shifted the idea of white male heroes saving other people’s, to allowing the reader to see people of different class, ethnicity, education, and gender and to contemplate them in new contexts. Her work often reflected contemporary issues, such as California Prop 187 which attempted to deny immigrants their rights before it was deemed unconstitutional.

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The thing about science fiction is that it’s totally wide open. But it’s wide open in a conditional way.” – Octavia E. Butler

Please comment and tell us your favorite authors below!

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5 Exercises to Escape Writer’s Block

Hey everyone! I’m Victoria Valley, one of the two new interns at Cambridge Editors, and a Graduate Student from Emerson College’s Editing and Publishing Program. If you are like me and enjoy both reading and writing, then you may have suffered from the dreaded affliction, Writer’s Block. If you have yet to experience it, allow me to explain: writer’s block is, the inability to write or to think of what to write. Also, some who glare at their manuscripts whilst sitting in the corner of their offices have been known to call it “Hitting the Wall” or “The Pit.” If this is true for you, here are five – yes five ­– ways to cure yourself of writer’s block.

  1. Walk

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Henry David Thoreau, is said to have walked up to four hours a day to help his writing. A leader in the Transcendental Movement, he created an essay known as “Walking” or “The Wild,” which proclaimed that modern people are too distracted by civilization and that allowing our natural side to the forefront of our minds would help create a much needed balance in our lives. So let those juices flow! Get up! Allow yourself to forget the paragraph you desperately need to write and enjoy nature. You don’t need to walk up to four hours a day! A simple 30 minutes might make all the difference. This exercise was a life saver for me as an undergraduate! I found it difficult to start my day and was also extremely shy. Forcing myself to walk outside for at least 30 minutes a day not only helped me with my writer’s block but also helped me to explore my neighborhood. By incorporating walking into your life you not only can escape writer’s block but you can also explore your neighborhood as well!

  1. Outline Your Ideas.

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Now let’s change the format. Instead of re-writing the same five sentences, draw a picture. Start by drawing a circle and writing your idea on the inside. Create five outer circles with arrows pointing to each of them. Now set a timer for one minute. In the span of one minute, write every random word that comes to mind in each of the outer circles. Repeat this process three more times. The first few bubbles tend to hold little meaning for me, but the more concepts you create, the easier it is to form new strings of ideas.

  1. Experience Art.

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Go out and find a local art gallery. As you walk around the exhibit, write down a few lines of your first impressions on each piece. If you are unable to walk through a gallery, find an art website and write down your first impressions. Writing will always inspire art and vice versa. By focusing on visual thoughts, your mind will hopefully explore new inspirations and ideas.

  1. Use Writing Prompts.

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Writing challenges can inspire new ideas and allow your brain to work outside the box. These challenges come in large variety and are available for every genre. Writing prompts are easy to find over the Internet and are generally free as well.

Here is one to get you started: Pretend you are the owner of a large company. You are forced to fire one of your top executives. For ten minutes, write in letter format why you are removing this person from your company.

  1. Play Story-Telling Card Games.

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If your Writer’s Block is contagious and your friends need inspiration as well, then I suggest story-telling card games. These games typically consist of a box of cards that have been illustrated with pictures or words. When laid out on a table, they allow for a narrative to be created. The person who produces the best narrative from the cards wins the game. Some story-telling card games are: The Hollow Woods, Once Upon a Time, Above and Below, and The Machine of Death. This last suggestion is my personal favorite way to shake writer’s block because you also get to relax with friends!

Writer’s block happens to all of us, and with some time and patience anyone can escape it. Hopefully, one of these options cures your Writer’s Block and you can continue your project. Is there a routine I have not mentioned? Please, comment below sharing what you do to escape writer’s block!

 

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5 Books to Keep You Company on Valentine’s Day

Hello Readers! My name is Anne Jonas and I am a new intern at CambridgeEditors. I am an English major at Boston University, with a double minor in French and Women’s Studies. When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy exploring Boston, smashing the patriarchy, and binge-watching French TV shows on Netflix.

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If you are a single lady like me, then you know that Valentine’s Day can make you feel a little isolated or left out. But I’ve got just the fix! I have chosen five books that transform romantic clichés into awe-inspiring narratives. These books are not your typical Nicholas Sparks heartthrobs or your Fifty Shades of Grey heart-racers. Rather, they are books that look at love through different and unconventional perspectives, which made me think about the genre of romance and why we read it in the first place. So, I challenge everyone out there to find company in a book today. Get into some comfy clothes, make yourself a big cup of tea, find a cozy nook, and grab one of the five books below!

  1. Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home

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Fun Home is a graphic memoir written and illustrated by Bechdel, following her relationship to her father from childhood to adulthood. Self-described as a “tragicomic,” the graphic novel addresses the innerworkings of a dysfunctional family with the witty humor of an angsty teenager. The book explores themes of father-daughter love, self-love, and first love. If you like visual aids while reading and a quirky, nuanced sense of humor, I would highly recommend this book.

  1. Ian McEwan’s Atonement

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Ian McEwan’s Atonement follows a tragic love story of mistaken identity in WWII-era England. The book centers around Briony, who, as a young teenager, falsely accuses her sisters love interest of rape, thereby separating the two for life. The novel explores themes of guilt and shame, as well as the “happily-(n)ever-after” trope of postwar fiction. The book has been adapted into a movie featuring Keira Knightly and James McAvoy (*swoon*). For those who love a moving, Titanic-esque tragic love story, this is the perfect book for you.

  1. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

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The Color Purple is an epistolary novel, containing letters exchanged between Celie, a rape survivor and social pariah, and God. This novel takes a soulful look into the struggles of navigating trauma as a queer woman of color in the early 20th century. It looks at love between female outcasts, and delves into themes of sisterhood, colorism, and feminism. This book is perfect for those looking for a spiritual, yet contemporary reflection on love, gender, and race.

  1. Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sethe’s love for her daughter, Beloved, is so great that she kills her in order to save her from the wrath of slavery. The novel follows the chaotic relationship between Sethe and Paul D, who are both haunted by the ghost of Beloved and then visited by her doppelgänger. For those who enjoy a good spook, I highly recommend this novel. This book has also been adapted into a film which features Oprah Winfrey as Sethe. Grab this book if you want a challenging, haunting read on the complexity of maternal love.

  1. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

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Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is a bildungsroman that follows Jane Eyre through her abusive childhood, her education at an all-girls orphanage, and her eventual position as governess to the mysterious Mr. Rochester. The novel explores the social taboo surrounding large age-gaps in relationships, mistresses, and what love is like with a physical disability. If you are a fan of period pieces, this book is a great way to escape into the elusive lives of the 19th century English elite.

If you are writing a novel of your own, or if you’d like to connect with our team of expert writers, check out the CambridgeEditors website. However you spend this holiday, enjoy the best wishes from the team over at CambridgeEditors!

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