Week in Review: March 31: In which I am maybe back to 80%

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

 

I’m late getting this up. I had a three day weekend for Easter and spent most of it quite tired. I’m still not feeling fully recovered from the flu. Maybe 80% but it’s really been a slog and this lingering cold weather is no help at all.

I started selling hardcover books I don’t want on ebay and have made a couple bucks. I’m not sure how I feel about Ko-Fi. I think if I’m going to be shilling I might just do it through the Paypal.Me I use for ARC adoption instead.

One good thing is that I am feeling back on track with instagram at least and I even have some photos queued up for the rest of this week.

I finished The Bone Witch and I am totally obsessed. I’m trying to knock out some lingering TBR books this month but also NEED to make time for The Heart Forger.

Here are two of my favorite posts I shared on Instagram this week:

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

How was your week? What are you reading?

Audrey’s Magic Nine: A Graphic Novel Review

cover art for Audrey's Magic Nine by Michelle Wright, illustrated by Courtney Huddleston and Tracy BaileyAfter ten long years in foster care and increasingly worse foster home situations, it finally looks like Audrey’s luck is turning when she is adopted. Her adoptive parents are a bit over-zealous with the extracurriculars and a bit too enthusiastic but Audrey has her own room and plenty of food which is more than she could say before. It could be worse.

Turns out it could be stranger too. Audrey doesn’t know much about her puppet Asa–just that she’s had him since she was a baby. When Asa starts talking, Audrey realizes she isn’t the only one with a mysterious past. Turns out Asa is part of a legendary council of magical creatures. The council of nine fought evil but during their last battle something went wrong and transported Asa and the others to Earth where they have been turned into puppets.

Once she sketches out a plan Audrey is ready to help but finding the puppets is only half the battle as she and Asa try to figure out how the portal sent the council to Earth and how to get them home in Audrey’s Magic Nine (2018) by Michelle Wright, illustrated by Courtney Huddleston and Tracy Bailey.

Audrey’s Magic Nine is a webcomic turned graphic novel. The first volume follows as she (spoiler) tracks down the first three puppets. Like a lot of comics, things end abruptly but the book includes four bonus comics to flesh out Audrey’s world.

The comic features full color illustrations along with Audrey’s own sketches of her life (and her plans to help Asa). The story blends humor and action as Audrey braves a startling puppet theater and a sentient slide in her quest for answers.

Audrey is a young black girl adopted by white parents. I didn’t love the way that the foster care and adoption situations were portrayed–one as painfully horrible and the other as comically simple–but it works well to get the story moving (and isn’t too different from anything we see in many middle grade novels). While Audrey’s parents initially adopt her as a prop to keep up with their popular neighbors they do begin to genuinely bond with Audrey. The story also gives Audrey plenty of space for Audrey and readers to see that her adoptive parents are absurd and misguided in many ways.

Audrey’s Magic Nine is a rollicking adventure filled with action, humor, and powerful friendships. Not to mention a healthy dose of magic. Recommended for graphic novel readers and fantasy readers alike.

Possible Pairings: Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke, All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson, The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner, Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

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

Midnight at the Electric: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“You become as strong as you have to be.”

cover art for Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn AndersonKansas, 2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars as a Colonist. With just weeks before her launch date, Adri is sent to acquaint herself with the only family she has left–an aging cousin named Lily that she’s never met before. While Adri trains for life on Mars and prepares to leave Earth behind forever she finds an old notebook about a different girl who lived in the house more than a hundred years ago. As she says her goodbyes to everything she’s ever known, can Adri find answers about the girl in the notebook and what happened to her with what little time she has left?

Oklahoma, 1934: Catherine dreams of a life away from the danger and severity of the Dust Bowl. She pines for her family’s farmhand, James, even as she knows must have eyes for someone else. Most of all she yearns for a way to help her younger sister before the dust finally kills her. A midnight exhibition at a strange traveling show called the Electric promises hopes and maybe a cure. When everything goes wrong will Catherine have the courage to leave everything she knows behind to save the person she loves most?

England, 1919: The Great War is over and things should be going back to normal. But Lenore isn’t sure what normal means when her brother died in battle. Desperate for a chance to start again, Lenore plans to sail to America and her childhood friend. In the days leading up to her departure Lenore keeps writing. As more days pass without a reply, Lenore wonders will the friend she remembers be the same one she meets? Will their reunion will be enough to help Lenore remember herself?

Three young women separated by miles and generations, three stories, one shocking moment of connection in Midnight at the Electric (2017) by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

Find it on Bookshop.

Anderson’s latest standalone novel blends romance, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction in three interconnected stories. Adri, Catherine, and Lenore’s stories unfold in alternating parts as their separate paths begin to connect and even intersect.

Adri’s story unfolds in close third person while Catherine story is presented through her diary and Lenore’s through letters she writes to her friend in America. These changing formats offer windows into each girl’s personality. Adri is clinical and detached while she prepares to become a Colonist. Catherine is more conversational and clings to optimism to try and make sense of her bleak possibilities in the Dust Bowl. Lenore is all bravado as she tries to chase away the shadows and grief left in the wake of WWI.

At its core this is a story about leaving. All three heroines are hoping for something more–an adventure, salvation, change–if only they can reach that next destination. But before they can pursue what comes next each girl, in their own way, has to make peace with what came before and let it go.

Midnight at the Electric is a brief book that packs a punch. This character driven story offers poignant vignettes about human connection, loneliness, and perseverance. This book just about broke my heart in half while I was reading it. But then it mended it too. If I had to rank the stories I would say my favorite–and the one at the core of the novel’s overarching plot–is Catherine’s, followed closely by Adri’s, then Lenore’s. While Catherine’s story was the most buoyant and hopeful, Adri’s story and her relationship with Lily just about wrecked me. I cried for the entire final part of the book and I doubt I’m the only one.

Anderson has outdone herself in this beautifully written novel with a clever premise that is truly high concept. Midnight at the Electric is a book about leaving and endings but also about origins and coming home—even if home isn’t the same place as where you started. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Possible Pairings: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, Malice by Pintip Dunn, Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis, Eventide by Sarah Goodman, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu, All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry, Where Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater, Selling Hope by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Nothing But Sky: A Review

Grace Lafferty began performing stunts as a wing walker with her uncle Warren and his barnstorming team, The Soaring Eagles, when she was thirteen years old. Her uncle didn’t know what to do with her after becoming her guardian when the rest of her family died an outbreak of Spanish Influenza. But even Uncle Warren knows better than to try and keep Grace out of the skies.

Five years later in 1922 Grace fears that the Soaring Eagles will soon be forced out of the sky by bigger teams or stricter air regulations. Determined to keep her chosen family together Grace will do whatever it takes to get to the World Aviation Expo where they can compete to win a lucrative contract with a Hollywood studio.

Throughout her preparations for the Expo Grace fights sabotage attempts from a rival barnstorming team and her growing attraction to new mechanic Henry. Haunted by nightmarish memories from the war and a limp from a battle injury Henry is stoic, professional, and infuriating to Grace who initially distrusts him. When a routine stunt goes wrong Grace wonders if she needs more than raw ambition to plan for her future in Nothing But Sky (2018) by Amy Trueblood.

Trueblood’s historical fiction debut looks at the years immediately following WWI when veterans returning home with flying experience and decommissioned fighter planes gave birth to barnstorming performances.

Grace is an ambitious narrator and daredevil with a singular focus–often to the detriment of the team she is supposedly desperate to keep intact. Henry’s struggle with shell shock makes him one of the most developed characters but it is handled poorly being used repeatedly as a reason for the team to distrust him. The sweetness of his fledgling romance with Grace is overshadowed by these constant doubts and a general lack of nuance in Grace’s worldview.

When Henry becomes the prime suspect for the team’s sabotage it is problematic as it builds to a predictable twist when it comes to the actual culprit. Breakneck stunts and romance lend Nothing Buy Sky high action while also detracting from the rich but often under-developed historical setting.

Possible Pairings: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel, Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

*A more condensed version of this review appeared as a review in the February 1, 2018 issue of School Library Journal*

Week in Review: March 24: What a Difference a Week Makes

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Yesterday I posted a big post highlighting everything I have to offer here on the blog in terms of posts and author interviews (and more!) along with links to all of my social media and indexed post pages.

I also wanted to say here that I made a ko-fi page for anyone who might want to support the blog in a monetary way. Obviously there is no obligation and I’d be just as happy with a comment or some social media follows BUT if you appreciate what you do and would like to show that by buying me a figurative coffee, you can now do that through a button on my blog sidebar and right here:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I feel so much better, guys! So happy to see the other side of that flu. It was hard getting back to work this week because any stamina I had for my commute/work was effectively gone. BUT we had a snow day on Wednesday which was a big help for me. Phew.

Here are two of my favorite posts I shared on Instagram this week:

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

How was your week? What are you reading?

Did You Know?: Blog Feature Rundown

Hey everyone! I wanted to do a quick roundup post with some of the things I do here on the blog. I also wanted to share an important update: I have changed my blog email. The new email can be found on my contact page and my arc adoption page. If you had previously saved my email address please update your address book.

Not that that’s out of the way, did you know that I offer:

  • ARC Adoption: If you are a US blogger I often put ARCs of recently published or soon-to-be published titles up for adoption to any blogger who can cover shipping and promises to write a review by my deadline. The program has a few loyal participants right now but if you’re a newer/smaller and want to start reading ARCs this is a great first step. I will check if you are a consistent blogger though so keep that in mind. Full details here: missprint.wordpress.com/adopt
  • ARC Tips: If you want to start requesting ARCs yourself I also have a page with all of my tips. Currently it has contact information too but I’m not sure all of it is up to date. You can find the page here: missprint.wordpress.com/tips

Post Features:

When I’m not blogging you can find me here:

If you ever want to know more about me and the blog I have a few pages to cover that as well:

Support:

If you’re in the position where you would like to and are able to show monetary support for this blog there are a couple of options:

  • Ko-fi: ko-fi.com/missprint (You can “buy me” a coffee)
  • Amazon Affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2uIW8bp; (When you shop through this amazon link I get a tiny commission on all sales. Alternately you can always buy a book I’m reviewing through the Amazon link in each of my reviews.)

The Price Guide to the Occult: A Review

“Any decent human being, witch or otherwise, has the capacity to do good in this world. It’s merely a case of whether one chooses to do so.”

cover art for The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye WaltonMore than a hundred years ago Rona Blackburn arrived on Anathema Island with little more than her dogs and her magic. She built a home for herself and made a place on the island but even then the original eight settlers viewed Rona with fear and, eventually, with enough hate to try and burn her out of her home.

Rona survived. Determined to see the original eight and their descendants suffer she bound herself and her line to the island. But in casting her curse Rona inextricably tied daughters down the Blackburn line not just to the island but to the original eight families as well.

In the present all Nor wants to do is keep her head down, her unexceptional powers under control, and her love life nonexistent and untethered to any of the original eight families.

But when a strange price guide to the occult appears at her part time job Nor knows that the time for hiding is almost over in The Price Guide to the Occult (2018) by Leslye Walton.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Price Guide to the Occult is Walton’s sophomore novel.

Written in close third person this novel, much like its heroine, keeps readers at a remove even as they are drawn deeper into the mysteries and intrigue that surround Anathema Island and its founding families. Each chapter is named for a spell and features an epigraphy from Rona Blackburn’s writings on witchcraft and magic.

Circuitous writing and lush descriptions bring Anathema Island and its magic to life especially as things begin to change when the Price Guide surfaces. Walton deftly builds a world where magic feels both plausible and inevitable with subtle twists on everyday moments that bring Nor’s world startling close to our own.

Nor is a cautious girl, if not by nature then through painfully learned lessons. Self-harm is a thread throughout The Price Guide to the Occult as Nor struggles with knowing that she can’t return to self-harm while wishing for a solution that could seem as simple as cutting herself once did.* She watches with growing horror as her home, the rest of the island, and beyond fall threat to dangerous magic being performed at a great cost.

This story is equal parts sexy and gritty as Nor experiences the elation of young love with an unlikely boy while searching for the source of the Price Guide and its magic that is slowly ruining the island and everything Nor loves. The novel, and the island itself, features a deliberately inclusive cast notably including Nor’s grandmother and her longterm partner Apothia Wu.

The Price Guide to the Occult is an unexpected and fascinating story that only begins to reveal the secrets surrounding Anathema Island and its founding families. Ideal for readers looking for a twisting fantasy whose memory will linger long after the book is closed. Recommended.

*Resources for readers who have struggled with self-harm themselves can be found in a note at the end of the novel.

Possible Pairings: The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw, Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell, Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper, Sender Unknown by Sallie Lowenstein, Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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

Be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Leslye about The Price Guide to the Occult too!

Author Interview: Leslye Walton on The Price Guide to the Occult

Leslye Walton author photoThe Price Guide to the Occult is a haunting story about a strange island, magic, and the ties that bind people together–sometimes whether they like it or not. This story follows Nor as she tries to make sense of her own strange inheritance as a Blackburn daughter and get to the bottom of a price guide whose offers of magic with seemingly no limit is taking the world by storm. Today Leslye Walton is here to answer some of my questions about her latest novel.

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

Leslye Walton (LW): My path was fairly traditional, but it was a long one. I wrote my first novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, while in grad school. I submitted my manuscript to a few agencies, but I didn’t sign with my agent until a year later. Another year passed before we found the right publisher. I got really lucky though; I have the best agent in the world and the people at Candlewick Press have been amazing to work with.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Price Guide to the Occult?

LW: When I was brainstorming my next project, I took a trip up to the San Juan Islands. My car broke down, and I was told that I needed to wait a couple of days until the island’s sole mechanic returned from the mainland. So, as I waited for the mechanic to return, I soaked up as much of island life as I could–I saw the shore lit with bioluminescence, and the bright colors of the Northern Lights fill the sky. By the time I left, I knew this quirky place was going to be the setting of my next book.

MP: In this novel all of the Blackburn daughters have an affinity for a specific kind of magic–something the Blackburn women refer to a burden–that can range from healing to something similar to mind control. Keeping in mind that most magic in this world requires a price in the form of a sacrifice, what magical burden would you willingly accept?

LW: This is a tricky question! I would hope that I would accept some magical burden that could help make the lives of others better or easier in some way. But the part of me that struggles with anxiety finds the thought of that very stressful—I would make the worst superhero.

MP: This novel takes place on Anathema Island located in the Pacific Northwest. While the story focuses on Nor, it’s fair to say that the island is often as much of a character in the novel as it is a setting. Which came first during your drafting: the setting or the story?

LW: The setting absolutely came first, but Rona Blackburn, the matriarch of the Blackburn family, came quickly after. Anathema Island and Rona are essentially the foundation of the story, so I knew I needed to have both fleshed out before I could figure out the actual plot.

MP: Working off the last question, were any of the locations you mention in The Price Guide to the Occult inspired by actual places?

LW: They were inspired by the idea of places rather than actual places themselves. The shops along Meandering Lane are a mixture of the quirky occult shops, bakeries, and art co-ops that you can find all over the San Juan Islands.

MP: The Price Guide to the Occult is very focused on characters. Did you have a favorite character to write in this novel? What about one you most resemble (or wish you did)? Anyone you’re especially excited for readers to meet?

LW: I hope that readers love Nor as much as I do. She’s incredibly strong, and a powerful witch, but she struggles with very real mental health issues that I think many young girls her age will relate to. I also really love Nor’s grandmother, Judd and her partner, Apothia. And I’m a big fan of Nor’s best friend, Savvy—and of course, Bijou, who was inspired by my own little ridiculous dog.

MP: Do you have a favorite scene or a scene you are excited for readers to discover?

LW: I really love the scenes between Nor and her love interest, Reed. I hope readers enjoy their somewhat awkward banter as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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

LW: Most of my next projects are just whispers right now, but there are several of them that I’m excited about. I can say that I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of Nor, Savvy and everyone else. I definitely think we’ll return to Anathema Island sometime soon.

[MP: This is very exciting news!]

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

LW: Try not to worry about the kind of book you think you’re supposed to write, and write the kind of book you want to write. You can’t write everyone’s experience—write the book you need, trust that your words will find their intended audience, and allow other writers to do the same.

Thanks again to Leslye for this fantastic interview.

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

You can also read my review of The Price Guide to the Occult here on the blog.

Week in Review: March 17: Emma vs. the No Good Very Bad Flu

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Keeping it short and sweet: I have had the flu since last Thursday and I’m still recovering. What a week.

Here are two of my favorite posts I shared on Instagram this week:

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

How was your week? What are you reading?

Everything I Learned From Reading YA Fantasy for One Month

Everything I learned from Reading YA Fantasy for One Month with a stack of booksHere, in no particular order, is everything I learned from reading YA fantasy novels for the better part of one month:

  1. Ten years ago something big happened. A life-changing event or a war. Ten years later after stewing on this and nothing else for a decade, it’s time to act.
  2. If a character is an orphan they are probably also a monarch in hiding/disguise or a lesser god. Possibly both.
  3. Do not get distracted by the luxuries found in the castle or manor house. Don’t do it.
  4. The heroine will probably be involved with brothers who are the love interest and the villain.
  5. The love interest and the villain might be the same person.
  6. Magic is never free.
  7. Favors are never free.
  8. In fact, nothing is ever free. Everything is really expensive in fantasy worlds and debts are dangerous. You have been warned.
  9. There may be dancing or at least a party where someone gets to wear a fancy gown.
  10. The main character will inherit something. It will not be what they expect.
  11. There will be a quirky animal sidekick or a plucky best friend. Not both.
  12. There will be pining.
  13. If anyone loses something of great sentimental value they are not getting it back. Unless it’s the key to unlocking their powers and/or their mysterious origins. Then they’re definitely getting it back.
  14. Two characters will kiss. That may or may not be a good thing.
  15. Even if it feels like the absolute worst thing has happened, at least 80% of the cast will be back for book two.