Booklist: Pride Month Reading (This Month at YALSA’s Hub)

This month at the Hub I had a booklist of titles you can read and share to celebrate Pride month.

You can head over to the Hub to read the full post and tell me if I missed any books you’d put on the list!

Uppercase June 2017 Box Review

After experimenting with Owlcrate for a few months last year, I decided to give Uppercase a shot this year when I wanted to check out a new bookish subscription box.

Uppercase is a monthly book subscription box.

You have two options when subscribing: You can purchase the Book Exclusive Plan for $17/month which includes a new hardcover YA novel (signed or with a bookplate), a reading experience content (this includes a bookmark with links to special content to check out while you read the book), and a handwritten note about the contents of the box. The Expert Plan is $23/month and includes all of the Book Exclusive items plus one or two bookish items which can be anything from notebooks to wearables. Both plans adds $6.50 for shipping.

What I really like about Uppercase is you have options for buying as well. You can subscribe monthly with the typical automatic renewals (and option to cancel) OR you can pre-pay for a certain amount of boxes from 1 to 12 months. I decided to pre-pay for three months and got my first package in June.

I already shared about the box on Instagram but I’m so excited about it I wanted to do a full review on here too.

Here’s what I found in my June 2017 Uppercase which comes in the signature Uppercase pouch (and is mailed in a Priority Mail padded envelope):

  • Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser: This release from Bloomsbury has been on my radar since one of my best friends Becky reviewed it for School Library Journal. I am ready for this fantasy novel with pirates and adventure and I am delighted to know that Becky’s review was quoted on the back cover of this book. The book was also signed by the author.
  • Map: Inside the book is a pull out printed map for Song of the Current on glossy paper. I like that it’s a larger size that what would have been included if the map was in the actual book.
  • Experience Bookmark: This is a special feature unique to Uppercase. The bookmark features page numbers and codes readers can enter online to unlock special content. I am super excited to see what kind of things will be revealed as I read!
  • Tote Bag: This box featured an exclusive tote bag designed by Allison Cole Illustrations. The tote says “Reading is the Ultimate Adventure” and features a hot air balloon with a cat riding inside reading a book, of course. The tote bag is a nice quality with printing that isn’t likely to wear off and sturdy construction. I do wish the straps were a bit longer but I think they’ll stretch and anticipate this bag getting a lot of use.
  • Enamel Pin: The last item in the box is another exclusive. The Book Nerd pin is from Jubly-Umph and features a book with a ribbon across it reading “Book Nerd” along with some decorative flowers. I love Jubly-Umph but because they’re an Australian company it’s sometimes hard to find their jewelry in the US. I have a couple of necklaces from them (and after looking at the site I want almost everything they sell) and am very excited to add this pin to my collection. It’s too cute to put away so I have it pinned to a board I fill with artwork and other ephemera near my desk.

All in all I’m very happy with my first Uppercase. I really appreciate the option to pre-pay and may even order more boxes in the future. I like that it includes some extras without being overwhelming and I think it’s great that the books are signed. This is definitely a subscription box to consider for yourself or your bookish friends.

Wildlife: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“The only person you should be is yourself. You can’t control perception. All you can control is how you treat someone else.”

Just before her term at her school’s outdoor education campus, Sibylla unexpectedly winds up on a billboard advertisement near her school. She also kisses the super popular and super cute longtime crush Ben Capaldi.

Lou is the unexpected new girl at school when the new term begins. She isn’t at the school to make friends or to fit in. Mostly she just wants to be left alone and get by without having to think about her old friends, her old school, or the fact that her boyfriend Fred is dead.

Sib thought going through a term of outdoor education at her school would be upheaval enough. But adding the billboard, the kiss, and her often rocky and now definitely changing relationship with her best friend Holly makes everything even more complicated. Lou thought a term in the wilderness would give her a chance to hide and grieve. Instead, she slowly finds herself drawn into the dramas of the girls around her like Sib and finds that she doesn’t want to stay quiet as she sees a betrayal unfolding in Wildlife (2014) by Fiona Wood.

Widlife is Wood’s second novel. It is a companion set in the same world as Six Impossible Things and Cloudwish although it does function as a standalone and can be read without knowledge of the other titles. (For the most impact I do recommend reading these in order though.)

Wildlife‘s narration alternates between Sib and Lou. Sib relates her story to readers in conversational prose while Lou’s story is written in journal form–a coping mechanism suggested by her therapist as she transitions to a new school and out of therapy.

While Sib spends a lot of the novel trying to make sense of her confusing relationship with Ben and Lou is mourning Fred, the crux of Wildlife is really the growing friendship between these two girls. Sib and Lou are unlikely friends and both are reluctant to take a chance on adding a new person to their lives. But in the wilderness where most of their coursework is about building strength and stepping outside of their comfort zones, both Sib and Lou realize it might be worth the risk to trust someone new.

Wildlife is a thoughtful story about friendship, first love, and all of the complicated moments in between. Recommended for readers of contemporary novels, fans of humorous narratives with a lot of heart, and anyone who loves the great outdoors.

Possible Pairings: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Nothing But the Truth (And a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen, Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung, Kissing in America by Margo Rabb, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Six Impossible Things: A Review

1. Kiss Estelle.
2. Get a job.
3. Cheer my mother up.
4. Try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Talk to my father when he calls.
6. Figure out how to be good.

Six Impossible Things by Fiona WoodFourteen-year-old Dan Cereill (pronounced “surreal”) is reeling from moving and changing schools when the family’s fortune, such as it was, is completely gone. On top of that Dan’s father has announced that he is gay leaving Dan to wonder if his father ever wanted to be a father.

Inheriting a house should be a godsend. And in some ways it is because Dan and his mother have nowhere else to go. But the house is old, drafty, and filled with strange museum-quality possessions that cannot be sold for some much-needed cash. His mother sets up a wedding cake business in the kitchen but that seems to repel more clients than it retains.

Dan has enough problems without an impossible crush on the girl next door. But he knows he’s a goner for Estelle from the moment he sees her–especially once he realizes how much they have in common (although he doesn’t want to talk about exactly how he knows that).

Dan narrows all of his problems to six impossible things–with a penchant for making lists and following through, Dan is optimistic about fixing at least some of them in Six Impossible Things (2015) by Fiona Wood.

Six Impossible Things is Wood’s first novel. It is a companion set in the same world as  Wildlife and Cloudwish although it does function as a standalone and can be read without knowledge of the other titles.

There is something very soothing about Fiona Wood’s writing. Her blend of humor and pathos as Dan struggles with the changes in his life make a winning combination. Dan’s narration is authentic and understandably sardonic as he adjusts and tries to make sense of his new home, new school, and new life.

Dan’s relationship with his mom is refreshingly two-sided as they both try to pull themselves together. Their challenges are realistic while also still feeling manageable in a narrative that is overwhelmingly hopeful.

Dan starts Six Impossible Things with no one. His support system is fractured and his everyday life is unrecognizable. Over the course of a rocky few months in a new house and a new school, readers watch Dan rebuild and regroup only to come out stronger than before. The slowly developing friendships with Estelle and other characters are wonderful additions to this charming story. No one captures whimsy and moments of everyday magic quite like Wood. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Boys Don’t Knit by T. S. Easton, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Kissing in America by Margo Rabb, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

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.