We Are the Goldens: A Review

We Are the Goldens Nell has always thought she and her sister Layla’s lives were intertwined. As a baby, Nell used to refer to herself as Nellayla, as if there was no possibility of one sister without the other.

But as Nell prepares to start her  freshman year of high school–the year that should ostensibly be the best year of her life–everything starts to change.

Layla is suddenly distant. She starts lying to their parents and keeping secrets. When Nell finds out Layla’s secret she tries to be an understanding sister. She tries to be what Layla wants her to be.

The problem is Layla’s secret isn’t one that can be kept without consequences. The problem is that if Nell does what she knows is right by telling the truth, Layla might not forgive her in We Are the Goldens (2014) by Dana Reinhardt.

We Are the Goldens is written in the second person as Nell talks to her sister Layla and recounts what is largely a disastrous freshman year for Nell. While Reinhardt offers a well-written and convincing portrait of a family (divorced parents who are still a united front) there is little else in this novel.

While the second person tense makes sense here and is a clever idea, it creates a lot of distance in the story. Readers never get much of a sense of who Nell is partly because her story is so intertwined with Layla’s and partly because she is often narrating a story that is not her own. Layla is similarly problematic as readers see her through Nell’s eyes but not fully as Layla withdraws early on into her own world as it were.

The writing is well-done with Nell often having some very smart, quotable insights. The debate around the central issue (Layla’s secret) is balanced although also often drawn out given the fact that what Layla is doing is so obviously wrong for her and by societal standards.

Nell is a sweet narrator and her friendship with Felix is both enjoyable and satisfying to read. Unfortunately the plot, such as it is, drags quite a bit given the brevity of the novel. The ending of the story also cuts off abruptly with little hint at what the aftermath of Nell’s decision will involve.

Taken more as a character study than anything else, We Are the Goldens is a fascinating book about sisters that will find its audience with readers looking for a quiet read.

Possible Pairings: The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan, Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker

Week in Review: August 17

 

missprintweekreview

This week on the blog you can check out:

You can also enter my epic blog birthday giveaway all month!

Happy to report that I am still not sick! I was a little bummed to be working two Saturdays in a row (last week and this week) but I’m feeling less mopey about it now. My mom is doing fine and we are hoping she won’t need to go to a doctor for a while which is good for her (she hates doctors) and me (I hate hospitals and doctor’s offices) and might also give me a chance to get to a dentist and eye doctor myself.

Last weekend my pre-ordered copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After came in so once I finished Bad Luck Girl (fantastic!) on SundayI was able to jump right into Isla’s story. I finished that on Thursday and also tried Salt & Storm while doing a very passive re-read of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. (I also got my Summer Box Swap which included a very much wanted paperback of The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti.) Unfortunately Salt & Storm did not live up to my unnaturally high expectations so I’m reading The Jewel now.

This weekend I started a new feature on the blog that is going to run on Saturdays called Miss Print’s Re-Prints. (Thank you again and again to Andi who helped me hash out a lot of the details including the feature name and frequency.) Miss Print turned seven(!) this week and I have a lot of reviews published on here. So if you want to see what I was reading and reviewing in 2007, you can follow these posts (I’ll move forward as the feature progresses of course).

Depending on frequency of posting in previous years there will be 1-4 posts every month (on Saturdays). It’s been nice re-visiting old reviews but it’s also been strange watching my younger self trying to hash out what I wanted this blog to be and also find my voice as a blogger. Looking back I’m still pretty happy with a lot of the decisions and changes I’ve made over the years. (If I had more time I would go back and review/update some of my post tags but it’s just too much work to do that.) At first I was going to “flash back” to all of my old posts but I found it made a lot more work and made me decidedly not want to do any re-prints because I’m not thrilled with who I was back then–I’m better now and prefer to focus on that better version of myself. So now that I’m only doing reviews I am feeling much better about it.

I’ve been posting a lot more and I’m feeling pretty good about the quality of content and the balance I have now between reviews and other stuff. I don’t always know how others feel (comments are like rare unicorns here) but my being happy is probably enough. I’m actually in a weird spot where I have soooooo many posts in the queue that I’m losing track of what’s posting when but it’s really not a bad problem to have.

If you feel like leaving a comment, check out my Box Swap gifts and tell me what to name my unicorn.

How was your week?

 

 

 

 

Summer Box Swap: Gift Reveal

Now that the Summer Box Swap is coming to a close, I wanted to do a quick write up to thank everyone for playing (and Nicole for co-hosting obviously).

My packaged arrived this week the day after my blog’s birthday from the lovely Andi at Andi’s ABCs. Andi and I know each other from Twitter and emails as well as meeting briefly at BEA this year so it was fun to receive a gift from an already-friend (that’s how matching goes sometimes!).

Here’s what Andi sent arranged as artfully as I could manage:

swap14The background is the really lovely and sparkly wrapping paper that everything was wrapped in!

Here’s a breakdown because I like bulleted lists:

  • Paperback of The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti (this is one of my favorite books and I had been sorely regretting not having a copy so this fills a book-shaped hole in my life)
  • Pink spiral notebook. The diamond pattern is made with sparkly silver parts.
  • Black and white striped nail decals (which I’m wearing right now)
  • Hello Kitty Keychain (can’t have enough keychains!)
  • Hello Kitty plush (in a kimono no less)
  • 80s Glam sharpies which I can’t wait to try
  • gold sparkly nail polish (not shown)
  • an anchor card with a note from Andi (of course because Andi loves anchors)
  • A plush unicorn!

I’m still trying to pick names for the unicorn. I think it’s a girl but I’m not sure. I was considering something French because she reminds me of my dragon Marcel but I don’t know. Any name suggestions welcome!

Thank you again for everything Andi!

 

The Glass Sentence: A Review

The Glass Sentence by S. E. GroveBoston, 1891: Nearly a century has passed since the Great Disruption remade the world and threw all of the continents into different Ages. While Boston and the rest of New Occident moves forward in the 1890s, other parts of the world reside in drastically different Ages including some from the near past, prehistory and others that are entirely unknown.

Thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims knows all about maps thanks to her uncle Shadrack Elli, one of the most renowned carologers in New Occident. With the borders closing any day and Sophia’s parents still missing after ten long years with no word, Shadrack and Sophia prepare to leave New Occident and mount a proper search expedition.

Unfortunately in midst of their preparations, Shadrack is kidnapped. With no idea how to find him beyond one small clue and a basic knowledge of what to expect in the Baldlands, Sophia sets off with an unlikely traveling companion and little else. As Sophia and Theo journey toward the Baldlands’ capital of Nochtland they will uncover shocking truths about the Great Disruption and find themselves at the center of a vast conspiracy that could change the entire world in The Glass Sentence (2014) by S. E. Grove.

The Glass Sentence is Grove’s first novel. It is also the start of the Mapmakers Trilogy.

Groves presents a rich fantasy with gorgeous world-building. Maps at the beginning of the novel introduce readers to Sophia’s world as well as the outlying regions. The story opens right in the middle of the action as New Occident’s borders are closed and never lets up.

The story expertly plays with readers’ ideas of history and causality imagining, among other paradoxes, a world where John Donne is known through his works before the Great Disruption as England has not yet reached (and may never reach) the time of his birth. These details lend a haunting quality to The Glass Sentence allowing readers with knowledge of the related world history to imagine what might have been.

However readers who lack the historical background (due to youth or lack of interest) will still find an engrossing fantasy here. Sophia and Theo travel across New Occident and into the wilds of the Baldlands where they encounter outlandish travel companions and chilling villains.

Chapter epigraphs from Shadrack’s published works as well as other sources further the world-building and explain key details of this alternate history to readers while a narrative structure reliant on clocks and time-keeping help keep readers grounded in the story.

With so many vivid and evocative details in the world-building and backstory, The Glass Sentence is decidedly lengthy at 493 pages. Although the arc of this novel is resolved in this story, the over-arching story of Sophia’s missing parents will likely span the rest of the trilogy. Readers who enjoy thick, intricate fantasies will undoubtedly find a new favorite in this promising start to a series with both middle grade and young adult appeal.

Possible Pairings: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer, Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Better Off Friends: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergMacallan and Levi are great as friends. In fact, they’re best friends. Family. Which is great for both of them.

Most of the time.

The problem is not everyone understands how a boy and a girl can be such good friends. It gets weird when Levi starts dating one of Macallan’s other friends but still keeps joking with her. It gets worse when Macallan gets a boyfriend.

Both Macallan and Levi are pretty sure they’re better as friends than anything else. Except they can’t help wondering if the complications that come with being more than friends might just be worth it in Better Off Friends (2014) by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Find it on Bookshop.

Better Off Friends is another cheerful confection from Eulberg complete with a beautifully designed book package. Written with chapters that alternate between Macallan and Levi’s narration, Eulberg’s story here spans years from the day our protagonists meet through the highs and lows of their friendship.

While Levi’s interest veers toward sports, Macallan discovers a fondness for culinary arts. United by a common love for a British comedy, Macallan and Levi are both approachable characters who are extremely easy to like.

Eulberg brings the Wisconsin setting to life with a brief, beautiful told jaunt to Ireland thrown in as well. Every word counts here and is used to good effect, from the first chapters to the dialogues Macallan and Levi share between chapters. Better Off Friends is an effervescent read that is sure to leave readers smiling.

Possible Pairings: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Take Me There by Susane Colasanti, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, To All the Boys I’ve Love Before by Jenny Han, The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, The Book of Love by Lynn Weingarten, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Blog 7th Birthday!

As of this posting, Miss Print is seven years old. I say this every year, but I still can’t believe it’s been so long. It should go without saying at this point, but I really wouldn’t be here without you, dear readers. So thank you again for making it so enjoyable to run this blog.

This year in particular I’ve made a lot of new blogger friends and feel like I’ve really found my place as a blogger and reviewer (including getting the blog on facebook) so thank you for reading and joining me on this journey.

Here’s to another great year!

I’ll leave you with some end of year statistics (cumulative):

Total Pages: 7 (with new and improved navigation for my review indices!)

Total Posts: 1294 (+234)

Categories: 16 (New: Week in Review and Miss Print’s Re-Prints and Let’s Talk the latter two of which are forthcoming)

Total Comments: 1304 (+267)

Total views: 130,294–110,089 (roughly 20,205 views over the past year. A little less than last year but still humbling and awesome.)

Busiest day: 308 (June 2, 2010–still. This will never be topped. Seriously.)

Total Spam Comments: 44,967–30,324 (that’s 14,643 spam comments over the past year–yikes!)

Don’t forget to enter my celebratory giveaway while you’re here

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesdays img by Miss Print

Top Ten Books I’m not sure I want to read (by which I mean these aren’t even really on my TBR list so you have to work really hard to convince me to change my mind):

(While you’re here, help me celebrate my blog birthday by reading my birthday post–after noon–and entering my birthday giveaway!)

  1.  A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin: I’ve heard they’re incredibly violent and incredibly not diverse. Add to that the series is really long in terms of books and pages and I can call it a pass.
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: This sounds great in theory but again I’m resistant on a fundamental level to enormous page counts and series that extend beyond 5 books.
  3. Maze Runner by James Dashner: Do I need this in my life?
  4. The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman: I love Robin Wasserman but I heard this was super scary so I am worried!
  5. Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid: I’ve heard mixed things! What are your thoughts?

That’s actually it because anything else I’ve elected to skip I feel pretty strongly about and anything else I have in the TBR pile I’m pretty committed to.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

(Image made by me.)

Death Cloud: A Review

Death Cloud by Andew LaneDeath Cloud by Andrew Lane (2010)

Summer 1868: After an interminable year away at boarding school, fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is eager to return to the family home where he can explore to his heart’s content and see his father and mother. Sherlock is crushed when his older brother Mycroft instead tells Sherlock he will be staying with distant relatives in Hampshire.

Dismayed at this horrible turn of events, Sherlock is prepared for a terrible summer. Then he meets a drifter about his own age named Matty Arnett as well as an unconventional tutor named Amyus Crowe. Together the trio are soon drawn into a mystery involving a dead body, noxious gasses and–strangest of all–a cloud that seems to move with purpose.

Death Cloud is the first book in Lane’s Young Sherlock Holmes series.

Mystery fans and fans of the worlds greatest detective will all find something to enjoy in this action-packed adventure. Lane gains momentum throughout the narrative seemingly becoming more comfortable with writing about this famous character as the story progresses. Much in the grand tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novels, Lane offers a madcap mystery with imaginative devices and a villain that will likely follow young Sherlock throughout the series.

Lane also offers nods to what seasoned readers know lies in store for Sherlock as well as new insights into how Crowe, Shelock’s tutor, helped shape his deductive reasoning. In fact, the biggest problem with Death Cloud is reconciling this young boy who is observant but often also less-than-learned with the brilliant detective that has become part of the public consciousness. While some teachable moments between Sherlock and Crowe feel forced (as Lane tries to use what Sherlock doesn’t know to anticipate that which younger readers may not know) the story and characters come together nicely here.

Death Cloud is an approachable, engaging mystery that will appeal to readers (and Sherlock fans) of all ages.

Possible Pairings:  Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, Jackaby by William Ritter, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Week in Review: August 10

missprintweekreview

This week on the blog you can check out:

You can also enter my epic blog birthday giveaway all month!

Guess what? I’m not sick! I know, I’m really excited too.

This week I did not buy any books but I did receive one that I won from Gail at Ticket to Anywhere. It is a beautiful paperback copy of The Night Circus by Ellen Morgenstern which I am super excited about.

I also am sorely tempted to buy this Pikachu plush who is becoming increasingly difficult to resist.

Summer Box Swap is also coming to a close with hopefully everyone’s packages either arrived or in the mail at this point.

I’m taking the month off from obligation reading and only picking up books I’m super excited about. I’m currently reading Bad Luck Girl which is the final book in one of my favorite trilogies ever. After that I think I’m picking up Salt & Storm. Maybe I’ll even re-read The With of Blackbird Pond.

I was stressing quite a bit on Friday but I feel infinitely better now. It’s amazing how much talking can help.

 

 

 

 

Now and Forever: A Review

Now and Forever by Susane ColasantiEven before he started to blow up, Sterling could not believe that Ethan picked her to ask out. Even before he hit a million followers, before his single started airing on the radio, before the concerts and the sold out tour destinations, Sterling knew she was so incredibly lucky to have Ethan Cross as her boyfriend.

Ethan and Sterling click in a way Sterling didn’t think possible. As much as she loves performing culinary experiments and correcting egregious grammatical errors in signs, Sterling loves spending time with Ethan more. As great as hanging out with her friends is, hanging out with Ethan is better.

Then Ethan’s music starts getting noticed and suddenly Ethan is a hot commodity thrown head-first in the world of fame and celebrity. Sterling, much to her initial dismay, is thrown in right beside him.

Ethan is getting compared to Michael Jackson and getting more famous by the second. Meanwhile Sterling finds herself appearing next to Ethan in countless tabloid photos, traveling around the country to catch his sold out shows, and even garnering a small following of her own.

Between her hot boyfriend, the sudden fame, and the free couture, Sterling should be living the dream. The only problem is Sterling is no longer sure whose dream it is in Now and Forever (2014) by Susane Colasanti.

Find it on Bookshop.

Now and Forever is a bit like an exclusive trip behind the velvet rope; a look at exactly what being famous might mean. Unfortunately, unlike other titles in a similar ilk, this book fails to offer a nuanced picture instead focusing on the glitz and glamor. While Ethan does change as he gains fame throughout the story, the implications of that change or what caused it (privilege, growing up, celebrity in general) are never discussed anymore than Sterling’s own relationship with her fame by association.

While this is a sweet romance, a lot of the story is spent on a bad relationship. Although this focus on the bad makes the second romance that much sweeter, it simultaneously raises questions about why the novel’s plot focuses where it does for so long.

Like all of Colasanti’s heroines, Sterling is adorably romantic. While her absorption in Ethan’s world and identity are troubling, it is an issue that’s addressed before the story ends.

Now and Forever is a must read for any readers who are super into the latest boy band or music in general. Bonus points for anyone who is a celebrity news junkie.

Possible Pairings: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry, Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy, Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle