Week in Review: June 24

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

 

Uggggggghhhhhhh. My office had a massive leak earlier in the week from the ceiling. Everyone had to clear their desks and our office ceiling is still a disaster. It helped me evaluate some of the books I really “needed” and I got rid of a lot of stuff. I just have to tackle the knicknacks I keep on top of my desk but I’m waiting to do that after the office is more fixed and not waiting to be painted.

I also managed to acquire a fine assortment of injuries with a burn on my left hand, a cut on my finger, and a bruise on my leg from a drawer falling on it.

My mom and I have been moving a lot of furniture and generally cleaning out the apartment and it’s been very hot and tiring and I need a vacation.

I also got my first ever Uppercase Box this week and I love it and will be reviewing it soon!

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my June Reading Tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Gaming Unplugged: Board Games, Card Games, and Party Games to use in Teen Programs (This Month at TSU)

This month (or technically last month) at Teen Services Undergound I have a post up about Gaming Unplugged for teen programs. Basically I’m talking about a lot of my favorite board games and party games to play!

I included some favorite board games, cheap card games, and games that require no budget or materials.

You can head over to TSU to read the full post!

Author Interview: Tara Altebrando on The Possible

Tara Altebrando is the author of several young adult and middle grade books including thoughtful contemporaries like The Best Night Of Your (Pathetic) Life and gripping thrillers like The Leaving. Her latest novel, The Possible, explores the growing popularity of investigative podcasts and what may or may not be a case of genuine telekinesis. I’m happy to have Tara on the blog today for our interview.

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

Tara Altebrando (TA): I’ve been writing since I was young and actually started out writing for grown-ups. But about ten years ago YA exploded in new ways and I shifted to writing for teens and have never looked back. What’s fun about the books I’m writing now (The Leaving, The Possible…and two more to come) is that the YA psychological thriller zone is a new space for me. It feels like a mid-career rebirth.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Possible?

TA: I’ve always been fascinated with telekinesis and telekinesis stories. Matilda. Escape to Witch Mountain. Carrie. Even Bewitched! And when the podcast “Serial” started I became obsessed with it and thought it would be fun to write a YA novel that featured a podcast that everyone was listening to. Everything grew from there.

MP: The Possible podcast features heavily in this book and you include some scenes about production and even transcribed audio clips that Kaylee listens to during the novel. Are you a podcast fan yourself? Do you have any that you would recommend or any that you listened to while writing and researching The Possible?

TA: I am a fan of podcasts for sure, particularly ones with a true crime bent. I loved Serial and binge-listened to In the Dark and S-Town. I love My Favorite Murder in a big way. I also listened to a bunch of episodes of The Paranormal Podcast when writing The Possible. The interview with Uri Geller, who started the whole spoon bending party trend in the seventies, is especially fascinating.

MP: A lot of the tension of this story comes from Kaylee and the reader not being sure what’s true about Kaylee’s biological mother and what’s been fabricated. How did you work out the pacing of this story and decide when to reveal (or not reveal) key details to readers to maintain the tight narrative?

TA: There is a lot of trial and error with regard to reveals in drafts when writing these kinds of suspense stories. It’s a real hat trick to know how long you can withhold something from a reader or character before it strains believability or patience. I’m still learning.

MP: Kaylee has a lot of “what if” moments in this story as she considers whether or not she may have inherited Crystal’s telekinetic powers. Have you ever had similar “what if” moments? How did you decide which situations would be used to question Kaylee’s presence (or possible lack) of telekinetic powers?

TA: I haven’t had any moments in my life where I thought I had telekinetic powers, no. I think we all have moments where we think maybe we’re psychic, though. Like you think about someone for the first time in ages and they call you right then…that kind of thing. For Kaylee and the book I just wanted a handful of really creepy and ambiguous scenes that could really be interpreted two ways: either she clearly had a hand in what happened, or she didn’t. I like the idea of throwing it back on the reader, making them question what they believe.

MP: Given the choice, would you want telekinetic powers?

TA: I would! And I would be sure to use my powers for good and not evil. Like I’d put the laundry away with my mind and deliver healthy snacks to my children without having to lift a finger. In my fantasies, I see telekinetic me walking down the aisles of the grocery store, filling my cart with my mind; I see the vacuum running around the house while I’m taking a bath. I’m so glamorous, right?

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

TA: My next book is called The Opposite of Here. It’s a Hitchcock-inspired YA thriller set on a cruise ship. Basically, a girl on the cruise meets this amazing guy the first night and then he seems to disappear into thin air. Where could he have gone? 

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

TA: Just to read widely and write what excites you.

Thank you to Tara for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can find out more about Tara and her books at her website: www.taraaltebrando.com

You can also find my review of The Possible here on the blog.

The Possible: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“What if life was all about letting go?”

Kaylee doesn’t remember much from when she was really young. She knows her biological mother is in jail but the details of her arrest for killing Kaylee’s brother and the trial are memories from another life.

Kaylee is happy now with her adoptive parents and her perfectly normal life. She’s a rising star on the school softball team and she is working on a plan to attract the attentions of her longtime crush. Simple.

Until a woman shows up at Kaylee’s house wanting to interview her for a podcast investigating Crystal.The Possible podcast is going to spend a season looking into the telekinesis claims that made Crystal a media sensation as a teen, her trial after her son’s death, and what she’s like now in prison.

Kaylee is desperate to be special. To be noticed. Being involved in the podcast seems like the perfect chance to see if maybe, just maybe, she might have some of Crystal’s powers. As the podcast starts to air Kaylee gets exactly what she wants. But she does’t count on the bitter taste of notoriety or the secrets that begin to surface when she looks into her own past in The Possible (2017) by Tara Altebrando.

In her latest thriller Altebrando taps into the wide popularity of investigative podcasts as she and her characters ask a simple question: “What if?”

Kaylee is a totally reliable narrator but she’s also eager to be swept away and believe that some of the hype surrounding Crystal, and by extension herself, might be true. Kaylee is athletic, a little self-centered, and striving for that elusive better, more popular, and generally more appealing version of herself. In trying to embrace telekinetic powers and familial connections that may or may not exist Kaylee realizes that she has to let go of what she wants other people to see when they look at her and focus on being herself in whatever form that takes.

The Possible is a tense, fast-paced story focusing squarely on Kaylee and the podcast. Most of the novel is narrated by Kaylee with pieces of the story being told in newspaper articles, podcast excerpts, and interview transcripts. While Kaylee reaches some conclusions for herself by the end of the story, the narrative stops short of actual answers leaving readers to decide the truth for themselves in this gripping story. Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers, true crime, and anyone who’s ever asked themselves “what if . . . ” Recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller, Breaker by Kat Ellis, The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier,  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Soulprint by Megan Miranda, Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud, Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Be sure to check out my interview with Tara!

A Conjuring of Light: A Review

*A Conjuring of Light is the final book in Schwab’s Shades of Magic Series which begins with A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows. As such this review contains major spoilers for book one and two.*

“Life isn’t made of choices. It’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

“We don’t choose what we are, but we choose what we do.”

Once there were four Londons. Black London was consumed by magic a long time ago. White London will die without more magic. Grey London never had any magic. Then there’s Red London, the jewel of the Maresh Empire and a shining beacon of magic across its world. That magic is what makes Red London so beautiful; it’s what is threatening to destroy it as well.

An interloper from Black London is tearing its way through Red London leaving destruction and death in its wake. Kell is used to being alone and to thinking of himself as isolated thanks to his Antari blood but all of that changes when the only home he’s ever had and the only family that matters is threatened. But Kell can’t fight this battle alone. Not if he wants to win.

Lila has thrived in Red London leaving behind her life as a thief to pursue her dream of becoming a pirate. She made it through the magical competition of the Essen Tasch but not she has to learn to control her magic before it begins to control her.

Kell and Lila will have to use every spell and trick they know to face a new threat from Black London. Along the way they’ll rely on old friends like Kell’s brother Prince Rhy and uneasy allies like the mysterious Captain Alucard Emery. Even old enemies may become allies before the battle is over. To survive, to win, will take everything the Antari have to give and maybe even more in A Conjuring of Light (2017) by V. E. Schwab.

A Conjuring of Light is the final book in Schwab’s Shades of Magic Series which begins with A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows. As such this review contains major spoilers for book one and two.

A Conjuring of Light picks up shortly after book two. Everyone is in peril and trouble is brewing. The tension does not let up from there. At more than six hundred pages you would thing this book would feel bloated of slow. It doesn’t. Schwab’s story is perfectly paced to give this series the conclusion it deserves.

Written in third person this novel alternates perspective to follow all of the major characters that readers have come to know and love over the course of this series. Rhy is still struggling with what it means to be a prince without magic while also processing the way his life is now tied to Kell’s. Alucard is haunted by his past and not sure he can ever be free of it. Lila still has so much to learn about being an Antari and letting people love her instead of running away. Kell, similarly, is still struggling to define what family means for a man with no memory of his past. Does a past he can’t remember mean anything compared to the family he has known for most of his life?

Then, of course, there’s Holland. Before A Conjuring of Light it’s easy to say Holland is the villain of this story and stop there. Schwab’s deliberate and complex characterization, however, slowly reveals that there is much more to this oldest and most experienced Antari. This story is also peppered with flashbacks for all of the characters though most notably for Holland.

It’s a rare epic fantasy that can be grim and tense and also make you laugh out loud. Schwab makes it look effortless here. A Conjuring Light is a perfect conclusion to a truly original series filled with memorable characters, adventure, and one of the most stunning redemption ever.

A Conjuring of Light is a story of uneasy alliances, fierce bonds, and at its center three powerful magicians whose lives are inextricably linked–whether or not they want to be. This series is a must read for all fantasy enthusiasts. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Week in Review: June 17

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

I really thought I had this post scheduled for the weekend but I didn’t. The more you know.

Work didn’t have AC all last week and we are in the midst of dealing with a massive, nightmarish leak.

I spent most of the weekend moving furniture.

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my June Reading Tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Top Fives Simon & Schuster Fall 2017

On May 19 Simon and Schuster hosted their Fall 2017 Librarian and Educator preview to present upcoming titles from their imprints. You can find my Top Fives below and check out #SSKidsPreview and @SSEdLib on Twitter for even more.

Picture Books:

  1. The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan: An adventurous fox embarks on a seafaring adventure in this beautifully illustrated tale. Coming September 12, 2017.
  2. Bamboo for You, Bamboo for Me by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Purification Hernandez: Twin. Pandas. Rhyming. Text. Coming November 7, 2017
  3. Night Out with Mama by Quvenzhane Wallis, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: The Academy Award nominated actress turns her hand to picture books in this story about a little girl preparing for a night out with her mother. October 3, 2017.
  4. Pocket Full of Colors by Jacqueline Tourville and Amy Guglielmo, illustrated by Brigette Barrage: This picture book biography tells the story of Mary Blair during her time at Disney. Blair’s career from her work on animated films including Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella to her work designing Disney’s It’s a Small World ride is framed in terms of colors throughout the story. Coming August 29, 2017.
  5. How the Cookie Crumbled by Gilbert Ford: This non-fiction picture book features three versions of the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. You’ll have to read the entire book to decide which is true. Recipe included. October 24, 2017.

Middle Grade:

  1. The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie: In this mystery a girl has to piece together a centuries-old mystery when her family moves into a haunted house and her little brother’s doll begins crying actual tears. Coming October 10, 2017.
  2. Forest World by Margarita Engle: In her first contemporary verse novel Engle follows a Cuban-American boy during his first visit to his family’s village in Cuba where he meets a sister he never knew about and takes on poachers in the nearby forest. Coming August 29, 2017.
  3. The Player King by Avi: Truth is stranger than fiction in this rags to riches and back to rags story of the boy who was pulled from obscurity to dethrone the King of England. Coming October 29, 2017.
  4. Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood’s Revenge by Susan Vaught: Twelve-year-old Max will need more than her knack for electronics and her super-charged wheelchair to solve the mystery surrounding a haunted mansion. Coming August 29, 2017.
  5. Littler Women by Laura Schaefer: A modern retelling of Little Women that is meant to be timeless. This book focuses on the first half of Alcott’s original story. Coming September 5, 2017.

Young Adult:

  1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: This book takes place over the course of sixty seconds as a boy rides in the elevator preparing to kill the gang member who shot his brother. Coming October 17, 2017.
  2. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman: This debut strikes a balance between literary and commercial as Kiko struggles to figure what happens when she’s rejected from her dream art school. Coming September 26, 2017.
  3. The Victoria in my Head by Janelle Milanes: Victoria Cruz is a rule following scholarship student at her fancy Manhattan prep school. Then she joins a rock band. Coming September 19, 2017.
  4. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten: Sasha’s life gets out of hand when she tries to catfish her best friend’s horrible new girlfriend. Coming October 31, 2017.
  5. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: This powerful novel takes apart the virgin/whore dichotomy at the core of rape culture in this story when three outsiders band together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate. Coming October 10, 2017.