January 2020 Reading Tracker

Books I Read:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (reread)
  2. Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumaker
  3. Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
  4. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (audio)
  5. A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen
  6. Havenfall by Sara Holland
  7. The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
  8. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
  9. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
  10. Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
  11. The Night of Your Life by Lydia Sharp
  12. All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
  13. Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions by Andy Warner
  14. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
  15. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
  16. Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin
  17. Malice by Pintip Dunn

Books I Had Planned to Read:

Books Bought:

  1. The Night Country by Melissa Albert (signing)
  2. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  3. Romanov by Nadine Brandes
  4. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (signing)
  5. The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski (Fairyloot)
  6. The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski (Illumicrate)

ARCs Received:

  1. Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions by Andy Warner (not requested)
  2. Malice by Pintip Dunn (not requested)
  3. Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin (not requested)
  4. Light Changes Everything by Nancy E. Turner (requested)

You can also see what I read in December.

The Girl King: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Girl King by Mimi YuLu has always known she will become her father’s successor, the first female ruler in the Empire of the First Flame’s long history. She has trained for this role for her entire life. But just as she is poised to take her rightful place, her father names Set, a male cousin, as heir instead disgracing Lu and trapping her in a betrothal she never wanted.

Furious and determined to claim her rightful place as heir, Lu’s search for allies leads her to Nokhai–the only survivor of a clan of shapeshifters who may need Lu’s help to understand his shifter abilities.

Min is timid and quiet. She always thought she’d live a quiet life in her sister Lu’s shadow. But when Lu leaves to find allies for her cause, Min discovers a dangerous power of her own–one that could make Set the proper heir or give Min her own chance to claim the throne in The Girl King (2019) by Mimi Yu.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Girl King is Yu’s debut novel and the start of a series.

Yu creates a nuanced but dense world. Unfortunately the court intrigue and unique magic system only serve to highlight weak characterization for both Lu and Min who often come across as one note and unlikable despite their ambitions. Problematic racial dynamics within the world adds an uncomfortable layer to this story already populated by calculating and unexciting characters.

The Girl King is an interesting but not always ideally executed fantasy. Recommended for readers seeking a fantasy story with complex sister dynamics.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Descendant of the Crane by Joan He, Furyborn by Claire Legrand, Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows, Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

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

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations: A Nonfiction Review

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira JacobThe trouble starts when Z is six. He has a lot of questions about everything from who taught Michael Jackson to dance, if moonwalking has anything to do with how to actually walk on the moon, to if it’s bad to be brown.

Artist and author, Mira Jacob tries to answer all of his questions–but it isn’t always easy to explain to a half-Jewish, half-Indian boy that not everyone is going to understand him or want to make space for him.

Using Z’s questions as a spring board, this graphic novel memoir explores the tensions leading up to the 2016 US election, the author’s own history growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in small town American, and more to get at what we really talk about when we talk about race, sexuality, belonging, and love in Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations (2019) by Mira Jacob.

Good Talk was both heavier and lighter than I expected. Jacob combines photographic backgrounds with realistic black and white drawings of characters to create high contrasts pages. Although the pages are often static with speech bubbles doing most of the work to move the book along, the story remains dynamic and engrossing.

Good Talk is an excellent introduction to graphic novels for readers looking to try that format for the first time. Jacob’s frank exploration of identity and racism in her own life and in the larger context of the 2016 US election also makes Good Talk a great entry point for difficult conversations about race, politics, and what it means to be an ally.

In addition to providing a thoughtful window into a very painful moment in US politics and the hard conversations we all need to have in the wake of that moment, Good Talk is a laugh out loud funny memoir about growing up and speaking up. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib; The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish; How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones ; March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell; So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo; We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Week in Review: January 25–in which my vacation nears its conclusion

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Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

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Do you get books as gifts? 📚 I have some friends that I know will always gift books but for the most part I acquire my own. My latest purchase was this beautiful finished copy of Tweet Cute by Emma Lord at her launch party. 📚 I read this as an arc and it’s already solidly one of my favorite books of 2020–and not just because Emma Lord and I bonded over our shared name.l or because I’m making Monster Cake next month. 📚 #instabooks #strandbookstore #amreading #instareads #lovereading #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookstagramit #bookish #bookishfeature #bookblog #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #tweetcute #emmalord #bookstore

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How My Week Went:

I have been off this entire week for my vacation and it has been great. One of my goals this year has been to become less plan averse which means I have to actually follow through on plans when they are proposed. This has been a constant surprise to me. BUT I did a lot of fun things this week. I went to Emma Lord’s launch for Tweet Cute at the Strand with my friend Estelle (and we got dinner beforehand and finally exchanged xmas/bday gifts, yay!). I took myself to see Knives Out (more vomit and fewer sweaters than I expected but I liked it a lot–very fun) and went into Target for the first time ever to buy peacocks. As I write this I am getting ready for dinner plans. And have a writing group meeting and delayed birthday plans for next weekend too. What a time to be alive.

The Good Luck Girls: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole DavisEvery welcome house in Arketta has their own group of Good Luck Girls ready and waiting to make sure each and every brag has the best time.

The welcome houses are all different and so are the girls but the girls start the same: sold to  a welcome house as a child by parents desperate enough to imagine it’s a blessing. The girls are branded with markings that grow as they do, blooming into flowers when it’s time to move downstairs and become a Good Luck Girl. That’s when they’re trapped.

Aster knows the truth about being a good luck girl. She knows the despair and the horror and she knows it’s only a matter of time before the same thing happens to her little sister, Clementine.

Except on her first night downstairs Clementine accidentally kills a man setting herself, Aster, and three of the other girls on a path toward escape, justice, and maybe freedom in The Good Luck Girls (2019) by Charlotte Nicole Davis.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Good Luck Girls is Davis’ debut novel. The story blends elements of fantasy with a western inspired setting.

High action, a large cast, and dense world building slow down this otherwise fast-paced story. Aster, the driving force behind the girls’ escape, is the most developed character in the novel and goes a long way to make up for an otherwise one dimensional ensemble cast.

Hints of romance complement the girls’ search for agency and true friendship as they struggle to escape lives they never would have chosen for themselves. While Aster and the other girls reach the end of one journey, readers can look forward to more adventures in an upcoming sequel.

The Good Luck Girls is a fast-paced, plot driven story ideal for readers who enjoy books with boisterous casts, reluctant alliances, and girls on the run.

Possible Pairings: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart, We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett, Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist, Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon, Gunslinger Girl by Lindsay Ely, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BookExpo 2019*

Practically Ever After: A Review

Practically Ever After by Isabel BandeiraGrace Correa has always been the girl with a plan. She knows exactly what she’s going to study in college (at her first choice university, naturally), she picked the perfect extracurriculars to balance her love of dance and make her a more desirable applicant, she is popular and fashionable. Grace even has the perfect group of friends and the perfect girlfriend, Leia.

At the end of her senior year, Grace’s perfect life turns into a perfect mess. With responsibilities mounting, projects looming, and pressure on all sides she’s no longer sure how to balance everything while making it look effortless–or even if she’s balancing the right things.

When a fight with Leia goes too far it seems like breaking up is the obvious choice–especially since long distance college relationships never last. Except Grace is starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, life (and love) don’t always have to be perfectly planned in Practically Ever After (2019) by Isabel Bandeira.

Find it on Bookshop.

Practically Ever After is the final book in Bandeira’s contemporary Ever After trilogy which begins with Bookishly Ever After and Dramatically Ever After. Although the books are set sequentially each book follows a different character and all can be read as a standalone.

After playing a supporting role to both Phoebe and Em, Grace finally shares her story as she struggles to balance the perfect plan for her life with the person she thinks she wants to be in the future. As the title suggests, Grace is imminently practical with a no-nonsense outlook that forces her to think very hard about what pursuing her dreams can look like and the risks inherent to following her heart when a future with Leia (who is going to a different college) is uncertain.

Partially informed by the author’s own career path, Grace also tries to find a happy medium to balance her interest in dance and cheering with her professional aspiration to become an engineer as she maps out her college plans.

Grace and Leia are used to being a power couple among their friends and it’s an interesting contrast watching them try to figure out how to stay together instead of watching them get together over the course of the story.

Practically Ever After is a satisfying conclusion to a light, funny trilogy that celebrates friends, love, and big dreams in all of their forms. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre, Nothing by Annie Barrows, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Royals by Rachel Hawkins, Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks, Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan, Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roate, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Isabel too!

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

Week in Review: January 18

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Blog Posts of The Week:

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What are your favorite faerie fantasies? 📚 Obviously I’m a big fan of Holly Black’s Folk of the Air books. Now that this series is done I have to find my next faerie obsession so hit me up with suggestions in the comments. 📚 Shown here: my regular and BN special edition hardcovers with bookends from @illumicrate’s Cruel Prince special edition box designed by @noverantale. 📚 #instabooks #signedbooksundays #amreading #instareads #stacksaturday #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #thequeenofnothing #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #folkoftheair #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookstagramit #bookish #thewickedking #bookblog #thecruelprince #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #illumicrate #illumicratecruelprince #hollyblack

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How My Week Went:

This week has been so so hectic. I’m really excited for my vacation next week!

A Girl Like That: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

A Girl Like That by Tanaz BhatenaAt sixteen, Zarin Wadia’s reputation already precedes her. She is an orphan, the daughter of a gangster, the product of a scandalous marriage. She is a smoker, she is reckless, she has left a trail of boyfriends in her wake despite the constant need to dodge the Religious Police. She is the subject of endless rumors at her school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Everyone knows that no one would want to get involved with a girl like that.

Which is why it’s so shocking when Zarin dies in a car crash with eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia–her childhood friend and, by all counts, a boy with a good head on his shoulders.

Everyone thought they knew Zarin but as her story and the circumstances of the crash come together, it’s very clear that Zarin was always more than the rumors would have you believe in A Girl Like That (2018) by Tanaz Bhathena.

Find it on Bookshop.

A Girl Like That is Bhathena’s debut novel. The story unfolds from multiple viewpoints with Zarin and Porus observing the aftermath of the car crash and flashbacks from both Zarin and Porus as well as other characters in Zarin’s life. Through these multiple first person viewpoints the novel explores both the events leading up to the crash and its fallout.

Zarin is a strongly feminist heroine who pushes against the limits placed on her by both her family and her surroundings in the conservative city of Jeddah. Through Zarin and her classmate Mishal’s narratives, Bhathena expertly explores themes of feminism and agency as both girls find their worlds unfairly narrowed because of little more than their gender.

A Girl Like That is a poignant and bittersweet story and perception versus reality, rumors, and truth. A quiet meditation on all of the ways society as well as friends and family can fail young people trying to make their way through a world that is often far from gentle. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali, Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll, Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed, The List by Siobhan Vivian, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

One Dark Throne: A Review

One Dark Throne by Kendare BlakeTriplets Katherine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe are in the thick of their Ascension Year, the time when all three have to fight until only one is left alive to claim the title of queen and rule Fennbirn Island.

After the disastrous events of the Quickening, Katherine is stronger than ever–far from the sickly, weak Poisoner everyone expected at the start of the year. But what really happened on top of the Breccia Domain? And will it be enough to help her get both the crown and revenge?

Arsinoe never expected to survive the Ascension Year, not as a Naturalist with no powers to speak of and no familiar. That was before Arsinoe steeped herself in low magic and understood the secret of her true power. But will one secret be enough to change her fate?

Mirabella is arguably still the strongest sister. The temple supports her, her Elemental powers give her control over all elements. She could beat her sisters and claim the crown. But she’s no longer sure that is the future she wants.

Once again it all comes down to three sisters and, most importantly, one crown in One Dark Throne (2017) by Kendare Blake.

Find it on Bookshop.

One Dark Throne is the second book in Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series which begins with Three Dark Crowns. The book follows sisters Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe in close third person narration with additional chapters focusing on those closest to them.

Blake continues to expand the world of Fennbirn Island as the fight for the crown escalates. The expected in-fighting, betrayals, and suspense make One Dark Throne a page turner despite its length.

The fast pace is an interesting contrast to a closer focus on the sisters’ motivations as they all struggle to make it through the Ascension Year. While Arsinoe and Mirabella are drawn together, reluctant to fight their sisters, Katherine is set further apart after her return from the Breccia Domain. This incident also highlights the pointed difference between the triplets’ upbringing where Arsinoe and Mirabella had the advantage and support of actual friends and family growing up while Katharine had poison.

One Dark Throne is an intense, action-packed installment. Higher stakes, bigger consequences, and more twists make this book a must read for fans of the series.

Possible Pairings: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, Rule by Ellen Goodlett, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Week in Review: January 11

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Blog Posts of The Week:

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Does anyone else feel like this has been the weirdest week? 📚 So far today I’ve gone with my mom to her doctor’s appointment (all well), cooked breakfast, replaced our home router, and packed some stuff I sold on eBay. 📚 Next up: post office, bank, and pharmacy to pick up some of my mom’s prescriptions. 📚 I am currently between books and trying to figure out how to top my recent run of books that feel like they were 100% written for me including Serious Moonlight which follows amateur detective Birdie as she tries to make sense of a weird mystery at her first full time job and her even more mysterious coworker Daniel Aoki who might just capture her heart if she’s not careful. 📚 I loved everything about this book and totally identified with so much of Birdie’s story. A must read if you like contemporary romance as much as you like mysteries. 📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #lovereading #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #booklove #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookstagramit #bookish #bookishfeature #bookblog #bookstagramfeature #readersofinstagram #unitedbookstagram #seriousmoonlight #jennbennett #booksandnails

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How My Week Went:

This week kicked my butt. Lots of weird tech issues, my mom was sick, I had to stay home from work days before a big training I was moderating. While running a secondary instagram account where I was talking about my work life. It was a lot. But I made it. Which means I still win.