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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Younger 6x03 Recap: “The Unusual Suspect” (What Are You Keeping From Me?) [Guest Poster: Kay-B]

“The Unusual Suspect”
Original Airdate: June 26, 2019

As the time jumps in the season, we are jumping right into this week’s episode!

Josh and Clare are basically the perfect co-parents with their new baby girl and show signs of wanting to get back together. Should they be together? Haven’t they done this dance a million times before? Having a baby is a forever bond, but I am grateful after a night of spooning, they decide to get divorced and continue to be stellar co-parents. Hopefully this civil turn in their relationship lasts!

One thing that is not so rosy is Maggie’s inability to look at the female body the same since she had to quite literally catch Josh and Clare’s baby out of the birth canal. To help, Lauren takes Maggie to a support group full of men who are also having trouble with loving their women’s bodies again, post-birth. There, she meets Beth (Nicole Ari Parker) and quickly gets her groove back after group therapy and a one-on-one session. Typical Maggie!

Elsewhere, there is a new podcast called “Exonerated” that is a sexy crime thriller taking over everyone’s lives ⁠— especially Liza and Kelsey’s. Professionally, the pair have a meeting with alleged killer from the “Exonerated” podcast, Audrey Colbert (Willa Fitzgerald). Redmond accepts their verbal offer to help turn Audrey’s killer persona around by allowing her the opportunity to write her own story and control her narrative. While fans of the podcast are only interested in the sexy and murderous parts of her story, she wants an opportunity to clear her name and not be seen as a villain. Share what the podcast doesn’t. Personally, Liza is so intrigued with this podcast, that she and Charles begin to reenact the podcast in the place where it took place.

Zane and Kelsey are still doing their cat-and-mouse back and forth. Zane is still wildly secretive about what his new job is and Kelsey is celebrating getting the crime book of the century at least she things. Diana comes into work injured from her women’s group Pilates class and heard that Audrey Colbert is pitching half the major houses in town, this of course means that Liza and Kelsey have lost the bid!

Quinn is back in the office since her book, Claw, has been on the best seller list for three weeks straight. Generating a wild amount of buzz on Twitter, people become suspicious and notice that Chinese bots are responsible for the majority of the book’s buzz. When Kelsey confronts Quinn, she first denies any wrongdoing in the success of her book. Redman and Audrey pull out of their verbal agreement with Empirical as a result, and Quinn’s damage extends beyond Twitter. She finally confesses that she did what she had to do in order to create buzz before her Senate run.

Since Quinn is so concerned with having her bid announced, she blackmails Kelsey. Her book is generating a ton of money for the publishing house, so Kelsey agrees to moderate a Q&A with Quinn. But when an audience member asks specifically if the numbers are padded and the publishing house bought their own copies of Claw, Quinn throws Kelsey under the bus. In return, Kelsey announces Quinn’s run for Senate! Check and mate.

What were those papers that that Liza found on Charles’s desk? Why is he moving funds so mysteriously? I think it has something to do with Aubrey Colbert.  Tell me your thoughts! Will Liza come clean to Kelsey with what she knows? Guess we’ll find out next episode!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Younger 6x02 Recap: “Big Day” (Is the Fight Worth It?) [Guest Poster: Kay-B]

“Flush With Love”
Original Airdate: June 19, 2019

Focusing heavily on everyone’s relationship status plus professional compromises, this episode of Younger moves quickly, so let’s dive in!

Liza is trying to reinvent herself at work. She wants to be taken more seriously now that everyone in the company knows that she is the assistant who was having the affair with Charles. But Liza, Kelsey, and Diana have bigger fish to fry at the moment. Quinn’s book bombed the focus group and is too harsh toward women for readers. Kelsey naturally flips out, because this is to supposed to be her first big release as publisher. Kelsey and Liza decide to meet with Quinn to shelf the release until spring... but Quinn somehow walks out of lunch getting what she wanted. How does she do it? The art of persuasion ⁠— and holding all favors she’s done for them — over their heads, that’s how!

Liza and Charles learn a tough lesson: now that Charles is no longer in charge, it is best that they don’t mix business with pleasure and refrain from having detailed conversations about the business. With Kelsey under so much pressure, she doesn’t like still being under Charles’s thumb which is understandable. She has to set her own boundaries and make her own mark. So Kelsey decides to be firm with Quinn during a one-on-one and they come up with a resolution. If her book tanks, she will walk away. Quinn is pushing this book as a stepping stone to run for Senate, and is willing to agree to almost anything to get it done on her terms.

Meanwhile Josh and Clare are full steam ahead with the baby. Josh goes shopping with Liza to get her expert opinion on what to purchase, since the baby is due in two weeks. I am not sure if I am the only one that missed this, but Clare literally waited until the very last moment to tell Josh about this baby! No wonder Maggie is suspicious. At the gender reveal party, Liza fumbles the balloon surprise, but it doesn’t matter because Clare goes into labor. She gives birth to a healthy baby girl.

Elsewhere, Diana and Enzo hit a snag when he realizes that he will never live up to the ideal version of a man (ahem, Charles) that Diana wants. He breaks up with her, tired of playing these games. Diana decides to go to a magazine about running their love story, an idea Lauren came up with, even though Diana was initially opposed to the idea. However, when she sees how hurt Enzo is, she uses the article as an opportunity to write Enzo an apology and a love letter, and they pick up right where they left off!

We didn’t get much from Zane and Charles this week in terms of their business ventures. Something tells me next episode will feature that though. So what did you think about the episode? Now that Zane is employed and dating Kelsey, will their relationship last or suffer due to work rivalry? Are Liza and Josh completely done? Will Maggie have her own agency and storyline this season? Is Diana really committed to Empirical Press?

Guess we will find out next week on an all-new Younger!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Ask An Author: These Witches Don't Burn’s Isabel Sterling [Contributor: Megan Mann]

(Image credit: Penguin Teen)

In modern-day Salem, tourists come from around the country to learn the history of the witch trials and visit one of the many shops dedicated to the occult. One such shop, Fly By Night Cauldron, has a specialty though: Hannah, who is an Elemental Witch. No one knows that she's a witch since it's against coven rules to let the Regs — non-magic folk — know about their powers.

Hannah's recent breakup and the possibility of a new relationship are hard for her to focus on when things start to go sideways in Salem. First, Hannah thinks a Blood Witch has come to kill her, but the coven discovers a witch hunter is in town ready to take them out. How will Hannah figure out who it is? Is it Detective Archer or her arrogant classmate Nolan? What about her newest coworker Cal? Can she trust anyone anymore?

In Isabel Sterling's latest release, These Witches Don't Burn, romance, intrigue, action, and the occult weave together to form a fast-paced ride that will keep the pages turning until the very end.

Here's what Isabel had to say about her fantastic new book!

Congratulations on the release of These Witches Don’t Burn! How does it feel?

Thank you so much! It’s been such a wonderful experience so far. I love hearing from readers who connect with Hannah’s story (it’s honestly the best feeling), and it’s been really cool to hear about all the places TWDB is showing up around the world. Most recently, I heard from readers in Paris and Manila!

I absolutely love the idea of the witches still being in Salem. What was the catalyst for the modern-day Salem witch?

I’ve been fascinated with the Salem witch trials since I first learned about them in middle school. When Hannah’s character walked into my life, she was a “real” witch working at an occult shop and highly annoyed with the so-called wannabes who shopped there. I knew immediately it had to be set in Salem.

Right off the bat, you let the audience know that Hannah is a lesbian. I absolutely love that there’s no fanfare when she comes out to her parents. It was the same when Morgan explains telling her parents she was bi later on. In some cases, that’s how it goes. Did you want to make it super easy to let readers know that they don’t have to fear coming out to their families?

Coming out is such a complex, and ongoing, experience, and I’d never want to prescribe for someone whether it’s safe or easy for them to come out (sometimes it’s really not). Everyone should have the space and freedom to come out in their own time.

I open the book with Hannah’s nonchalant coming out to let readers know right away that this is a story where being part of the LGBTQ community is both accepted and celebrated. I wanted to signal right away that this wouldn’t be a book with queer pain. At the same time, I wanted to include some of the small realities of being openly queer. That’s why we see Gemma’s parents treating Hannah differently. That’s why we see Hannah decide whether to come out to her new co-worker, Cal. With each scene, I was actively trying to balance the challenges of being queer in our society while creating a fun story where LGBTQ characters can just be.

I loved the double mystery happening in the book. Hannah is chasing the mystery of what’s going on and readers are chasing the mystery of how everything happened in New York to make Hannah so edgy about the idea of a Blood Witch coming to Salem. How did that dual intrigue come about?

I’m so glad you enjoyed that! The entire NYC mystery didn’t come to me until after I’d signed my book deal, actually! I needed a more concrete reason for Hannah to be afraid of the Blood Witches, and I actually wrote myself a little prequel story about how Hannah and Veronica broke up. The entire NYC situation evolved from there.

Something that I really appreciated about the book was how seamless it was to go from mystery hunting to magic to romance and back around again. It’s one of the few times where I’ve read the mind of a teenager so realistically. Did you mean to show that teenagers can compartmentalize things differently in terms of attention and emotion?

Ooh, that’s an interesting question! I’m glad it resonated. People (including teens!) are really complex, and we often have to juggle so many competing priorities. I remember being a teen and being stressed about finals and band practice and a million other things, but there was always time to talk about crushes with my friends.

Instead of keeping it within the town, you added a collection of new people to Salem as everything started to go down. It made Hannah, Veronica, and the coven question first outside people before looking in. Was the addition of new people in town to make it harder to figure out the identity of the blood witch?

It was! Creating several viable suspects was an important part of crafting the mystery. I wanted readers to feel like no one was completely innocent until all the twists played out.

When you were writing These Witches Don’t Burn, did you plan out the surprises or were they surprises to you too?

The main villain was the same in every draft, though the reason for their villainy did deepen and evolve over time. A lot of the ways the villain goes after Hannah and her friends did change a lot through revisions with my editor though!

I recently asked author Camille Perri this question and I’d love to hear your opinion on it. It seems like LGBTQIA+ stories and authors are becoming more common on the shelves and bestseller lists. These Witches Don’t Burn has several different LGBTQ characters (including a lesbian, a bisexual girl, and a queer trans guy). Do you think we’re finally moving forward? When do you think stories like this will be less labeled and seen as regular stories?

While there’s been progress made over the last decade (and the last few years in particular), there’s still a long way to go, especially with trans characters and characters of color within the LGBTQ communities.

As far as book “labeling,” I actually think there’s a lot of value in being explicit about LGBTQ rep in books; I think it’s important for queer and trans readers to be able to easily find characters like themselves. Though it may not be done with this intent, when LGBTQ books are marketed with zero hint of their identities present, it can feel like the publisher was purposefully burying that information to “protect” sales. LGBTQ identities shouldn’t be a dirty secret that readers only discover after picking up the story or intense online research.

All that said, I do understand the need for “under cover” LGBTQ books for teens, especially since not everyone can safely bring openly queer content into their homes.

What was the researching aspect like for this one? It’s a fun book, but you have to get your facts straight.

Well, as Hannah would say, I don’t do anything “straight.” (Sorry, I had to!) The most fun aspect of research was visiting Salem with my wife! We went to Salem in between my first draft and my initial big revision, and walking the streets helped the feel of the town come alive for me.

What is it about magic that you think readers are perpetually drawn to?

I think there’s something undeniably fun about magic. Especially for those of us who might not have a lot of power in our own lives, the thought of having an inner power manifest in such a real and undeniable way is alluring for a lot of us.

The book was released just a few days shy of Pride Month. What are some of the best LGBTQIA+ books you recommend?

So many! Some of my recently released favorites include:

  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
  • We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
  • Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
  • Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Finally, and I feel as if this is the most important, what kind of witch would you be? Elemental, Caster, or Blood Witch? What would be the best part of having magic?

Hmm, if I could choose one for myself, I'd want to be an Elemental. Being able to control the elements would be so cool. But if I’m going based on my personality, I think I’d probably end up a Caster Witch. I’m definitely a nerd, and keeping a journal of potions would be very much my thing.

These Witches Don't Burn, as well as Hot Dog Girl and Her Royal Highness are available now from Penguin Teen! And follow Isabel on Twitter.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Younger 6x01 Recap: “Big Day” (Welcome Back, Kids) [Guest Poster: Kay-B]

“Big Day”
Original Airdate: June 12, 2019

We kick off season six of Younger a bit slower than usual, but let’s dive in!

We start year six of the series with Liza and Charles enjoying the benefits of being fully open and out with their relationship, at least where their closest friends are concerned. Charles is spending his newfound free time doting on Liza in every way imaginable. Liza, meanwhile, is finally allowing herself to be happy and accidentally lets those three magic words slip prematurely to Charles on her way to work. Instead of navigating the aftermath, she dashes away, leaving Charles to ponder that in her apartment. Charles then encounters Maggie, who basically gives him a warning not to ruin Liza’s life. 

Elsewhere, Kelsey is starting her groundbreaking first day as the youngest publisher in New York City. While nervous, scared, and thrilled to dive into this new role, she quickly finds out that her love of and keen eye for great published works won’t be enough to keep the business afloat. The business isn’t turning a profit, and Kelsey can’t help but feel overwhelmed. With some advice and encouragement from Liza and Lauren, she will soon find her footing. Can Kelsey maintain her strength and composure will stepping into the girl boss she was always destined to be?

Diana isn’t acclimating as well as one would hope to Kelsey’s new role. At first, she seems happy enough, but once a story leaks of Charles’s affair with an unnamed employee, Diana immediately assumes that Kelsey is that woman. You can’t be mad at Diana though since this is a logical assumption considering Kelsey did just get a lucrative promotion. With no apology in sight, Diana goes straight to Redmond to inform the publishing community that she is looking for a new role.

When Zane takes Kelsey out to tell her this nugget of information, she immediately goes into preservation mode and does anything, including singing karaoke at Diana’s favorite bar and offering a part of her salary, to make Diana stay. Is Diana going to last long term though? Only time will tell, but with the team back on board for now, Kelsey needs to focus her attention on cutting some staff to keep the business profitable. Question: Can she start with investor/author, Quinn? I definitely didn’t like the vibes she was giving off this episode.

Josh, if you recall, got the surprise of his life in the season five finale when his ex, Clare, showed up with a baby bump. When Josh finds out he is indeed the father, he immediately leans on Liza. The evolution of their relationship is so good, and when Liza finally released Josh so that he could have the family he’s always dreamt of, it happened. This is not how Josh envisioned it of course, but here we are. Something tells me that while Josh and Liza are in this great space as friends, it’s not really the end for them romantically — no matter how happy Liza is with Charles right now. Will Josh and Clare give it another chance for baby? And how long will that last?

Speaking of, what’s next for Charles professionally? After giving up everything for the woman he loves, will he eventually resent Liza? My guess is yes, especially if he doesn’t find something sooner rather than later. And will he feel like she owes him because of what he gave up for her? Regardless of what he says, my guess is also yes. Charles and Zane are both in a professional standstill and something tells me that they are about to join forces to build a rival company that will give Kelsey and Empirical Press a run for their money!

Tell me your thoughts: What did you think about the season six premiere? What are your predictions? I cannot wait to see how things shake out but, per usual, it seems like Liza will be in the center of whatever drama lies ahead. Instead of in love though, it looks like it’ll be at work. That is definitely a showdown for the ages!