Blog 8th Birthday!

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

Eight years ago, I published my first blog post on Miss Print. I was 21 years old and it was the summer before my senior year in college. Although I didn’t know for sure then that I wanted to be a librarian (despite working in libraries since I was 16), I did suspect that graduate school would be in my future.

I had spent the months leading up to my blog launch posting reviews on MySpace before it occurred to me a blog might be a better forum for such things. My best friend in college is the one who suggested I used one of my MySpace display names (among Miss Direct and Miss Information) as the name of this blog. Two years later we would have a spectacular falling out and stop speaking. I still think about her sometimes but I also think we might be better people now that we aren’t friends and don’t speak or interact at all. I hope she’s well though and am incredibly grateful to her for helping me name this blog. Who would I be now if not Miss Print?

This year I was going to share eight things I’ve learned as a blogger but in trying to actually write the post, that seemed quite boring. So instead I’m sharing . . .

Eight Fun Things That Happened to Me Because of this Bog:

  1. A big part of my college life was writing for my university’s newspaper. (I had wanted to sign up for the literary magazine but that wound up not happening until my senior year.) After working my way up from a contributor to a Senior Staff Writer I found a niche for myself in Arts and Entertainment. After writing reviews regularly for a while (many of which are on this blog), I got the chance to do a bi-weekly review column. My first column was my review of The New Policeman with the headline “Miss Print Asks: Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” (Down the line this blog would also help get at least two jobs but Cecelia talks more eloquently about such things in this post on her blog.)
  2. I blurbed A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley: I reviewed this book on my blog and cross-posted it back when I used to blog at NYPL. The editor of the book saw my review and really liked it and asked that an excerpt be included in the paperback edition’s “praise for” page. So if you have a paperback, my name might be in it.
  3. When I was a part-timer at NYPL the library where I worked was starting a little thing called Teen Author Reading Nights and I often got to attend them. These events introduced me to a lot of my favorite authors including, most notably Scott Westerfeld. At one reading in 2007 (that’s right, my first year as a blogger) I also heard Carolyn MacCullough read from her haunting novel Drawing the Ocean. A couple of years later, when I had a chance to read Once a Witch as an ARC thanks to Amazon Vine, I of course jumped at the chance. Which brings us to 2010 when Carolyn was doing a signing at Books of Wonder and, of all the crazy things in the world, she recognized me. Later still, I would find out that part of my review for Once a Witch was used as a cover blurb for galleys of Always a Witch. Carolyn’s books got me through some really rough times (including convalescing after getting hit by that van in 2010–did I even blog about that?) and hold a very special place in my heart. Sadly, she hasn’t written anything recently and her online presence is gone. But wherever she is, I hope she’s well.
  4. Blogging also introduced me to the world of book signings. I didn’t own a lot of books before I started blogging and working retail. I didn’t even know what was out there! In 2009 I went to my first big YA signing–alone because I had yet to meet the friends who would share my love of YA. It was the first Mega Teen Author signing at Books of Wonder. I saw a lot of great authors but the one that has really stood out to me was Lisa Ann Sandell–since then I have found myself returning to her books often and it’s nice, somehow, to know she was there at almost the beginning.
  5. Since then, the author signing has become a yearly event that I attend with BFF Nicole (except for the year I had to work the signing but that was part of the Dark Time and I don’t talk about it). In 2011 I brought my post-it filled copy of After the Kiss for Terra McVoy to sign. Which led a little later to my very first author interview on the blog.
  6. That same year (2011) I had a chance to read an advance copy of one of my most anticipated books: All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin which starts her Birthright trilogy. I didn’t know it at the time, but this series would become a formative part of my mid-to-late-twenties as I followed the series as they were published, getting Because It Is My Blood at one of my earliest BEA trips and reading In the Age of Love and Chocolate shortly after it published.. Like Carolyn MacCullough’s books, this series just spoke to me and it was there for me during some incredibly rough times. It sounds cliche even to me but the final book in this series helped get me through the end of 2013. I would never want to be on a deserted island but if I had to be, I’d want this trilogy with me. I also interviewed Gabrielle about ever book in the series–all of which remain some of my favorite interviews I have ever posted to this site. I also had the very unique and amazing privilege of having my interview featured as bonus material in a paperback edition of All These Things I’ve Done and Because It Is My Blood.
  7. I’ve said before that I think Twitter is kind of magic. Thanks to Twitter and blogging and the wonders of social media, I get to say I’m friendly with a lot of authors and librarians. This all came full circle in 2014 when I went to dinner at the Plaza with one of the first librarians who ever mentored me, Karyn Silverman of Someday My Printz Will Come fame, and Rachel Hartman author of Seraphina and Shadow Scale. This is still one of the craziest and most amazing things that has ever happened to me.
  8. In April of 2015 I hosted my first series on this blog–a month of guest posts about poetry called Poetically Speaking. The series featured posts from authors, librarians and other bloggers. It’s also a really great example of the final amazing thing that has happened to be thanks to this blog: I have met so many wonderful people. I won’t meet all of them in real life any time soon–maybe never–but I am so lucky to have the people in my life that I have met through being a blogger and a reader (and a tweeter). Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this weird blogging journey and thank you especially to everyone who has stuck around and become a friend. I am so incredibly grateful.

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

Total Pages: 15

Total Posts: 1615 (+319)

Categories: 15

Total Comments: 2182 (+879)

Total views: 156,365 (roughly 26,071 views over the past year–a big jump from last year!)

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

Total Spam Comments: 54,798 (that’s 9,831 spam comments over the past year)

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

Even in Paradise: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“They were all royalty. They were all gods. They were all broken.”

Even in Paradise by Chelsey PhilpotCharlotte Ryder is pretty certain about the course of her life. She has her group of friends at St. Anne’s. She has her roommate at the boarding school. Charlotte has her memory box, her studio time, and her plans to become an artist.

Charlotte never expects that she will meet the infamous Julia Buchanan when she abruptly transfers to the school at the start of their junior year. Charlotte never expects that she will become Julia’s friend.

It’s hard to ignore Julia Buchanan’s pull. Charlotte is easily absorbed into Julia’s magical world of luxury and decadence; she even finds herself drawn into the great Buchanan family with all of their spectacle and charisma.

As she becomes closer to Julia and the rest of the Buchanans, Charlotte realizes that Julia’s effervescent personality and easy smiles are part of a facade. Julia’s life–like those of her family–has been shaped by a tragedy that still haunts her. In trying to uncover Julia’s secrets, Charlotte hopes to help her friend. Instead, the truth might tear them apart in Even in Paradise (2014) by Chelsey Philpot.

Even in Paradise is Philpot’s first novel. It is a loose retelling of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh with strong undertones reminiscent of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as well. Although Philpot credits both of these classics among her inspirations, Even in Paradise is also very much its own story.

Charlotte is a heroine who starts the novel on the periphery of her own life. So much of who Charlotte is, not to mention what she does, is defined by her friendship with Julia or who she is in Julia’s presence. It’s impossible to ignore the pull of Julia’s dizzying world. But it is only in gaining distance from that world that Charlotte really begins to come into her own with character development that is both fascinating and empowering.

Although this story has some adorably romantic moments (and even the hint at something more) Even in Paradise remains very firmly a story about friendship with a plot ranging from the initial moments that can tie people together right through to the moments with potential to tear them apart.

Despite any perceived pain or loss, Charlotte has no regrets when it comes to her friendship with Julia  and the other events during Even in Paradise. It’s refreshing, and even a bit shocking, to see that kind of conviction in a narrator. It is powerful to see Charlotte’s introspection and acknowledgement at the end of the novel of the many people and moments that have shaped her present self.

Even in Paradise is a subtle, contemplative novel about growing up and growing apart. A story about finding yourself in the midst of feeling lost. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Great by Sara Benincasa, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard, Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, Damaged by Amy Reed, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith, Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher at BEA 2014 for review consideration*

You can also check out my interview with Chelsey!