The Start of Me and You: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Start of Me and You by Emery LordFor the past two years Paige has been defined by the unexpected death or her first boyfriend. While Paige’s grief is real, she also often feels like an impostor being lumped together with others who knew her boyfriend so much better and miss him much more keenly.

When Paige decides she’s ready to make the most of her time left in high school, she knows she has to start dating again. Who better than her long-time crush Ryan Chase to help Paige convince everyone she is back to normal? They don’t have a lot in common but Paige is certain they could become friends. Especially when Ryan’s smart (nice, cute, totally nerdy) cousin convinces Paige to join the school’s Quiz Bowl team (number two: re-join an extracurricular activity).

With help from her friends Tessa, Kayleigh and Morgan–and even Ryan and Max–Paige is certain to have an unforgettable year filled with quiz competitions, nerdy discussions, TV shows and healing. As Paige and Max get to know each other, she has to decide if she needs to stick to her plan or take a leap to discover something completely unexpected in The Start of Me and You (2015) by Emery Lord.

The Start of Me and You is Lord’s sophomore novel, coming after her debut Open Road Summer made a splash in 2014.

While it’s easy to focus on the romantic aspects of this story since Max is adorable (as is Ryan to a lesser extent), it’s also not entirely accurate. Yes, there is a romance plot here. Yes, the cover and title make that overtly clear. At the time time, The Start of Me and You is a lot more than that.

Lord delivers a fully-realized world in this novel as readers are immediately drawn into Paige’s life in her small and sometimes stifling town. This novel also boasts a charming ensemble cast filled with characters who compliment Paige and add their own elements to the story. In addition to Paige moving through her grief, Lord also includes plot threads about dealing with divorce, dating someone who is maybe not right, the push and pull between close friends to name just a few.

At its core The Start of Me and You is a true slice-of-life novel as it follows Paige over the course of her junior year. At times it feels like Lord might have taken on too much but she brings everything together by the end in a way that is both authentic and satisfying.

Paige and Max are a great pair who work well together even as they challenge each other to be their best selves. It would be a spoiler to discuss how their relationship ends, but rest assured that not matter what follows it starts with a rock solid friendship.

Happily, friendship is a common theme throughout the novel as, even in the midst of romantic troubles, Paige returns to her friends Tessa, Kayleigh and Morgan. The girls are a great support system for each other and have unconditional love and trust between each other–something that is sadly not seen enough in YA novels. Paige’s family is also a great source of support though often in unconventional ways.

The Start of Me and You is a book that truly has it all including a smart heroine, an adorable male lead, a great story and even some allusions to Jane Austen thrown in. A delight. Highly recommended.

You can also check out my review with Emery about the book!

Possible Pairings:  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Sandell

*An advance copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher*

Author Interview: Emery Lord on The Start of Me and You

Emery Lord made a splash in 2014 with her debut novel Open Road Summer. She’s here today to talk about her second novel, The Start of Me and You. My review will be posting tomorrow, but let me tell you I loved The Start of Me and You even more than Open Road Summer and I am beyond thrilled to have Emery here to answer some questions about it!

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell us a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Emery Lord (EM): Sure! I majored in English Lit and started writing fiction more seriously after college. (I say “more seriously” but I just mean I was carving out time for it seriously. The actual writing was fun!) I signed with my agent 2 or 3 years into writing for real and sold Open Road Summer in 2012.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Start of Me and You?

EM: Man, this is self-centered, but…largely, my own teen years. I wanted to write about a suburb that is kind of generic but still yours & home, a group of friends that is kind of nebulous- people coming and going/groups overlapping, and I wanted to make the most realistic decisions possible in the story, even if they were cringe-worthy. I wanted to write about boys who aren’t suave or perfect…just human, with good qualities and flaws and a lot of kindness too. Beyond that, when I started writing, I was trying to come back to myself after a really intense grieving experience. It’s so strange- I think I talked myself through it via Paige. Like, I couldn’t figure out how to be okay in my own life, but I could somehow float outside of it and guide this fictional character.

MP: Readers learn early on that Paige is a big reader and TV watcher. Do you have any (current or past) favorite books and TV shows that you can share with us?

EM: Well, I’m obviously deeply entrenched in Arrow right now, haha. I never used to watch much TV at all, but I’ve grown to really love it post-college. I particularly love Friday Night Lights & Parenthood (surprise surprise, shows that are committed to realism). A few favorite books of all time that I get VERY nerdy about: Looking for Alibrandi, Fair & Tender Ladies, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Alice McKinley series. I’m also a huge fan of many short stories & their writers- Amy Hempel, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jennifer Egan, Lorrie Moore. Like, I will geek out if I find people who want to talk about these stories.

MP: To start her junior year off right, Paige make a plan which includes joining a new club. For Paige that ends up being Quiz Bowl. What clubs were you a part of in high school? If you could do it again, what clubs would you join?

EM: I was in marching band, jazz band, show choir and theater. As an adult, I actually hate doing anything performative, haha! So if I could do it again, I’d found a feminist/social justice club a la Morgan in The Start of Me and You.

MP: Do you have any specialized knowledge that would be useful in a quiz competition?

EM: I can hold my own with the literary canon, state capitals, art and music. I will always win Friends trivia and always lose sports trivia.

MP: Paige is a great narrator and one of my favorite characters. But she also has a great supporting cast in this novel. Is there any character you’re especially excited for readers to meet? Did you have a favorite (or hardest) character to write about?

EM: Thanks! I think the hardest wasn’t a specific character but writing a cast that big/trying to get their individuality and voices across. I really loved exploring Tessa and trying to figure out how to show this girl who is disillusioned and bored but still loving and engaged in other ways.

MP: One of my favorite things about The Start of Me and You is that it’s a really smart book. Paige and Max both have great vocabularies–which they use with each other. Was there any word that you were particularly eager to incorporate into their conversations?

EM: Thank you! I (embarrassingly) keep index cards when I run across a new word in an article or book to quiz myself on them. With Paige and Max, it was less about the specific words and more about the particular…comfort of finding someone who literally speaks your language.

MP: Without getting into spoiler territory, Max and Paige also talk a bit about Pride and Prejudice so I have to ask: Do you see yourself as a Jane or an Elizabeth? Thoughts on Bingley and Darcy?

EM: Ha, you know, I felt like P&P was everywhere when I started working on this book, and I kept wondering why everyone fixates on Elizabeth and Darcy, when Jane and Bingley have this really interesting pas de deux of miscommunication and undertone and longing. That being said, I don’t know which I am, actually! As much as I crush on brooders (Darcy), the truth is I go for the sweet-to-the-core ones.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

EM: It’s called When We Collided, and it’s a summer love story told in dual POV. I tried to tell a story of lives that look like mine and my friends: where there are sometimes mental health struggles and therapists and medication, but also- truly- so much happiness. It is my favorite thing I’ve ever written.

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

EM: This is going to sound like a cop-out, but I swear I mean it. My advice is: take all writing advice with a grain of salt. Some people may have 2k a day goals, get up early to write, do NaNoWriMo, purge manuscripts of all adverbs, plot extensively, don’t plot at all, repeat “show don’t tell” as if it’s gospel. You don’t have to do any of those things. You can try them; maybe they’ll work and that’s great! But you gotta find the way that works for YOU. Beyond that, to quote Conan: work hard, be kind.

Thanks again to Emery for a great interview.

You can see more about Emery and her books on her website.

You can also read my reviews of Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You here on the blog!

 

Book Giveaway (Redux): A Court of Thorns and Roses

I’m giving away an ARC of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasGiveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from now through March 18 at midnight. Winner will be notified March 19. If I don’t hear back from the winner by March 21 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.

ENTER HERE

I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above or clicking the photo!

All Fall Down: A Review

All Fall Down by Ally CarterIt has been three years since Grace has seen her ambassador grandfather or set foot in the country of Adria. Now, with nowhere else to go, Grace is once again home at the American Embassy in the city of Valancia.

Three years is a long time to be away, but distance has done nothing to dampen the painful memories of her mother’s death. In fact, returning to her mother’s childhood home only brings it all back in painful detail.

Returning to Valancia, Grace is more convinced than ever that her mother was murdered; even more convinced that she has to do everything she can to find the killer and make him pay.

Until then Grace has not one but two annoyingly present boys to deal with and a mess of secrets to untangle as she hunts for the truth.

Living on Embassy Row among the other international embassies is like living on a very thin ledge where one wrong move can push Grace over forever in All Fall Down (2014) by Ally Carter.

All Fall Down is the first book in Carter’s Embassy Row series.

It’s hard sometimes to reconcile immeasurably high hopes for a book with the reality of reading said book. Ally Carter has already received wide (and well-deserved) acclaim for her Gallagher Girls and Heist Society novels as well as legions of loyal fans.

All Fall Down marks a dramatically different direction for Carter’s writing. Grace is still a witty and sharp narrator but she is also abrasive. Grace is also rash to the point of being reckless, something that can rarely be said for Carter’s other heroines. The pain and grief of her mother’s death is fresh and palpable throughout the novel. The sense of loss and regret is often so palpable that it is hard to read through.

In many ways, All Fall Down feels like the natural progression for Carter’s writing career as she continues to push her prose and her protagonists in new directions. The writing remains excellent and evocative as Grace delves into her new surroundings as well as a not-so-new mystery.

While the plot sounds sleek and polished, All Fall Down is much grittier with as many raw edges as Grace herself. Unfortunately, this darker tone also lessens the charm and humor readers familiar with Carter’s previous YA novels might expect to find here.

Unfortunately, with such a radically new premise (not to mention a country entirely of Carter’s own invention) almost all of All Fall Down is setup. Some parts of the initial plot are resolved but many are left dangling to be pursued in later installments. Instead of a start to a new series, this book feels more like a supplementary prequel as readers are left waiting for the actual story to start.

All Fall Down does once again highlight what Carter does so very well as she moves in an entirely new direction. A promising start to a new series for fans of thrillers and twisty suspense novels.

Possible Pairings: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma, Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

Week in Review: March 1

missprintweekreview

This week on the blog you can check out:

I am no longer sick but my mom spent the entire week miserable. Also: I managed to dislocate my shoulder in my sleep on Tuesday night (I woke myself up when it popped back into place) which was about as much fun as it sounds.

I’ve been trying to take it really easy this week because I don’t think I can handle getting sick again so it’s been pretty quiet. I did have some pretty epic book mail though in the form of a signed copy of The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski.

Suffice to say that was a pretty big deal for my week.

I worked on Saturday which wasn’t too bad. I lead the week’s story and play program which had a ton of people and everyone seemed to enjoy the books I chose. My seventh grade humanities teacher also came into the library with her daughter and we recognized each other which was nice. A patron even wanted to tell a manager that I did a great job helping him.

I didn’t get a ton of reading done in February because of my Horrible Sickness of Death (which I am over finally but my mom now has!) but it wasn’t too bad a showing. You can see what I read in February in my February Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

March (2015) Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read and received in February.

Books On Deck:

  1. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
  2. Loop by Karen Akins
  3. The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
  4. The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
  5. Dove Arising by Karen Bao
  6. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
  7. The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  8. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
  9. The Weight of Stars by Tessa Gratton

Books Read:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Books Bought: 0

Arcs Received:

  1. Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten (from generous coworker)

March 1: Continuing to read ADSOM from last month. While I am back in fighting shape this month, I fear the reading plan in books on deck might be a bit lofty. I have been squirreling away books for two big signings in March as well as stacking up what I’m going to be reading (and what came in the mail) so my desk is frightful right now. I’m hoping to make a dent and read at least half of the titles listed–especially Loop or Snow Like Ashes as I promised Gail from Ticket to Anywhere that I’d read one or the other (or both) before March was out.

The NKOTB Book Tag

Last month Andi from Andi’s ABCs and Gail from Ticket to Anywhere unveiled their new joint endeavor: The New Kids on the Block book tag (as inspired by the Taylor Swift book tag).

When Gail tagged me in her post I was a little worried about participating since I (gasp) do not know any NKOTB songs. Luckily, the banners Andi and Gail put together (which I am borrowing here) had prompts.

So without further ado here are my responses:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinEven now I’m still blown away by some of this book’s twists and turns!

I swear I’m not just excited about this one because of the cover!

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura BuzoThere are lot of covers I like but this one appeals in its simplicity.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackHazel is a total badass!

In the Afterlight by Alexandra BrackenI am rarely shocked by books but this one really threw me for a loop.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen JohnsonThis is the only valid answer.

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus SedgwickIf you read it, you’ll understand.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerSo much love I haven’t even figured out how to write my review.

The Vanishing SeasonSo much love for this quiet little book.

Clariel by Garth NixI was very tired after staying up late to finish this one.

Compulsion by Martina BooneI’m reading this one as I write this post and it is feeling very cinematic.

The Winner's Crime by Marie RutkoskiLike there was any other answer to this one!

Seraphina coverShadow Scale by Rachel HartmanWhile I loved reading this duo I am sad there will be no more adventures for my favorite half-dragon musician.

  • Nicole from the Book Bandit’s Blog
  • Veronica from the Talking Blogging Bookworm
  • Andi from Just a Broke Bookworm
  • Kayla from The Thousand Lives