In the Hall With the Knife: A Review

In the Hall With the Knife by Diana PeterfreundBlackbrook Academy, an elite boarding school hidden away in the woods of Maine, is no stranger to dangerous storms. With the latest one coming just before break, most students manage to make it home well before the the storm sets in. Which is why, when the headmaster turns up dead in the conservatory of one of the dorms, suspicion quickly shifts to the small group left behind:

Beth “Peacock” Picach isn’t interested in anything at Blackbrook unless it’s about tennis. Which is why Peacock is incensed when Headmaster Boddy wants to discuss her standing on the Blackbrook team just before the storm hits.

Orchid McKee came to Blackbrook to hide. Until information from the headmaster suggests that a dangerous piece of Orchid’s past life might have followed her to Blackbrook after all.

Vaughn Green is a townie and a scholarship student at Blackbrook. Vaughn balances a nearly impossible courseload and his less-than-ideal home life with working part-time as a janitor at the school giving him a front seat to Blackbrook’s iniquities. And its secrets.

Sam “Mustard” Maestor thought starting at a new school would give him a clean slate. What he didn’t count on was how different Blackbrook would be from his former school, an austere military academy. Starting in the middle of a historically bad storm and a murder investigation also doesn’t help.

Phineas “Finn” Plum is sitting on something big. Life-changing big. But one draconian school policy doesn’t mean he’s about to share it with anyone–especially not the headmaster.

Scarlet Mistry is used to being on top of the school’s gossip and the top liberal arts student thanks to her platonic power couple alliance with Finn. But even with all of her tricks, Scarlet doesn’t know what to make of a murder happening under her nose. Or the fact that her best friend is keeping secrets.

With one murder, zero trust, and a million motives, anyone could be the culprit in In the Hall With the Knife (2019) by Diana Peterfreund.

Find it on Bookshop.

In the Hall With the Knife is the first book in Peterfreund’s trilogy based on the board game Clue (find it on Amazon). The novel is broken up into alternating chapters between the six students. Scarlet is Indian American, Mustard is Latinx.

In her author’s note, Peterfreund mentions her love for the board game and the now classic movie it inspired. (Read more about the history of the 1985 film in Adam B. Vary’s Buzzfeed Article “The Crazy Story Of How “Clue” Went From Forgotten Flop To Cult Triumph.”) Peterfreund’s love for her source material is clear in this fitting reinterpretation of the classic game from the intrigue-filled backstory to the punny character names including janitor Rusty Nayler.

While quick to get to the inciting incident (Boddy’s murder, of course), the narrative can feel unwieldy while getting to know all of the characters–even with Peacock’s workout journal entries being obvious standouts. With plentiful motives and even more secrets, solving Boddy’s murder is just one of many mysteries surrounding Blackbrook promising more suspense–and murder–to come from this trilogy.

Unreliable narrators, red herrings, and clever dialogue from a really fun core cast make In the Hall With the Knife a winning mystery whether you’re a fan of the genre or the board game that inspired it.

Possible Pairings: S.T.A.G.S. by M. A. Bennett, Heist Society by Ally Carter, I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick, They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson, Killing November by Adriana Mather, The Cousins by Karen M. McManus, The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons, How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

May 2021 Reading Recap

Miss Print's Reading Recap

Planned to Read:

  1. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
  2. Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
  3. Sherwood by Meagan Spooner
  4. A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
  5. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Read:

  1. Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman (audio)
  2. Coriolanus by William Shakespeare (audio)
  3. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
  4. By the Book by Amanda Sellet (audio)
  5. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
  6. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare (audio)
  7. Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
  8. Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (kindle)
  9. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen (audio)
  10. By Night Vol. 3 by John Allison
  11. Sherwood by Meagan Spooner
  12. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
  13. All Systems Red by Martha Wells (audio)
  14. The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
  15. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (audio)
  16. Stretch by Scott Sonenshein (reread)
  17. Cumcumber Quest 3: The Melody Kingdom by Gigi D. G.
  18. Cucumber Quest 4: The Flower Kingdom by Gigi D. G.
  19. Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare (audio)
  20. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (audio)

Received:

  1. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (preorder)
  2. The One We’re Meant to Find by Joan He (Owlcrate)

Recap Video:

You can also see what I read in April.

Week in Review: May 29

missprintweekreview

Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

How My Week Went:

My instagram post of the week is actually from more than a week ago but whatever. ANYWAY this has been an interesting week.

As you might have guessed, my blog post with everything you need to know about donating books to libraries (and what to do with them instead) is now on its third (fourth? fifth?) life on social media as it finds new people on Twitter, Facebooks, and Reddit(!) among other places.

I saw my BFF Nicole for the first time in person since February 2020 and it was amazing. I miss all of my friends but this has literally been the longest I’ve gone without seeing Nicole since we met in grad school so it was really great to be reunited. Then I also had a birthday dinner with some other friends so my socializing went up roughly 300% this week.

When Have YOU Been #indeep?

This post originally appeared on Terra Elan McVoy’s blog in 2014 as part of a series of guest posts about people ending up in over their head to promote her book In Deep:

In November 2013 I felt like I was drowning.

Back in January I had said 2013 would be my year, but by November I was still underemployed and feeling the pressures that come with an unsuccessful job search and the responsibilities of being head of household. Then my aunt died and, like dominoes, the bad news started to pile up.

The non-cancerous brain tumor my mother’s doctors had all ignored was suddenly a very big problem pushing on her optic nerves, destroying her sense of smell and impacting her memory. Worse the tumor had been causing non-convulsive seizures of varying degrees for the past year. But it was only that fall, when we finally got my mom to a specialist, that anyone seemed to care about the seizures or even believe me when I explained what happened.

What was supposed to be a gradual thing we could slowly prepare for became a whirlwind. An appointment with a neurologist revealed the tumor had to come out and, in fact, should have come out years ago. A neurosurgeon confirmed that and offered a referral to a skull-base specialist. After a seizure in the office of the skull-base surgeon my mom was admitted to the hospital. I spent every appointment feeling like I was going to throw up.

Her tumor removal surgery lasted twelve hours. I spent most of that day in the hospital waiting area wondering who would come out to tell me if something went wrong. I anxiously watched every doctor passing through, certain they were going to tell me something horrible. It hurt to walk out of the hospital to get food. It was even worse sitting there, stagnant, waiting for some snippet of news.

I didn’t hear anything about how it went until 11pm that night. Just when I was wondering if the surgeon was going to tell me anything, I got the call. The surgery had gone well but my mom was being kept under sedation, in a medically induced coma, to avoid the risk of a stroke. (My aunt had died of a stroke months before.) I cried for twenty minutes after I hung up.

The next day when I could see my mom, she was still sedated with a breathing tube and a drainage tube in her head. I had to leave when I first saw her, fleeing to the Intensive Care Waiting Room. I burst into tears there surrounded by other people too wrapped up in their own unhappiness to take much notice of mine.

When my mom woke up she was agitated and just barely recognized me. She kept asking to go home which I knew was impossible for the moment. Even now I get a little upset and a little teary thinking about it. (My mom doesn’t remember any of this or the week leading to the surgery, something for which I am grateful as it was all a panic-fueled haze of misery.) It’s a horrible feeling seeing someone you love in such a vulnerable and painful position. Every day I am impressed with my mom and so incredibly humbled by everything she has survived and continues to endure. I am so glad she is okay.

But that November I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it through surgery much less how normal she would be after. My mom was convinced she was going to die and, for a little while, especially those twelve hours of the surgery, I thought maybe she was right. I never thought the tumor would kill her but so many other things can go wrong in surgery. You just never know.

I knew I would be physically okay. My mom had raised me well and I was smart; I would survive because that’s what she taught me to do. But that doesn’t make it an easier thing to contemplate a parent’s mortality. I’ve never lived with anyone but my mom and I often think of myself as part of a “we,” so it was very hard those weeks alone while she was in the hospital to admit that even if this surgery went perfectly, things would change eventually. It was so much more than I wanted to deal with. So much more than I could handle.

But sometimes, through your own choices or others’, that’s what happens. You do get in over your head. Things do start falling apart. It’s only recently–after the surgery going well, after I started a full-time job that I love, after I realized I didn’t have to scramble to afford groceries–that the drowning feeling passed. It’s only recently that I found myself realizing I’m happy and okay.

Here’s the thing about being in over your head: You can get through it. I learned that a support system can go far and there is no shame ever in admitting that you are scared or that you need help. I didn’t always see my friends and family, but I texted and talked on the phone constantly. I had friends sending positive vibes through twitter and blog comments. It didn’t make the panic and the fear go away because nothing could do that. But it made it bearable.

I also learned that even when you think it’s all too much, even when you think you can’t possibly handle everything that needs to be dealt with, you will. People are amazingly resilient and shockingly strong. I hope most people don’t have to get in deep before things start to go right but I have learned that, even when it feels like nothing will ever be okay, eventually things will improve.

Obviously 2013 was decidedly not my year. I won’t say I’m a better person because of everything that happened that year. But I know I am stronger. I’m older and wiser and I know now that I am tougher and more capable than I would have thought possible even a year earlier.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

by Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba JaigirdarHumaira “Hani” Khan is one of the most popular girls in school. She’s also genuinely nice, so it’s no wonder everyone loves her. Unfortunately, popularity–and friendship–only go so far as Hani learns when she tells her friends she is bisexual. Instead of supporting her, Hani’s friends wonder if Hani is sure or if she can even know when she’s only dated guys.

Tired of being set up, invalidated, and otherwise having her identity questioned, Hani does what seems like the logical thing: She tells her friends that she’s dating another girl at their school. A girl Hani’s friends all hate.

Ishita “Ishu” Dey is not popular. She isn’t even well-liked. And she definitely doesn’t care as long as she can keep bringing home good grades to impress her strict parents. After years of feeling second best compared to her older sister, Nik, Ishu might finally have a chance to prove she’s best. But first she has to become Head Girl at school.

Head Girl is a popularity contest that Ishu knows she’s likely to lose. It’s also why she needs Hani’s help enough to go along with her hare-brained fake dating plan.

What starts as a business transaction to secure Hani acceptance in exchange for the visibility Ishu needs to win Head Girl quickly becomes something more when the girls start to realize they might actually like each other. Turns out staging a relationship is a lot easier than trying to start a real one in Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating (2021) by Adiba Jaigirdar.

Find it on Bookshop.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating alternates chapters between Ishu and Hani’s first person narrations as they embark on their staged relationship and deal with other issues. These include Hani’s father’s political campaign as well as Ishu’s older sister announcing her plan to leave university to get married–a decision their parents refuse to support. A content warning at the beginning of the book details what readers should expect (and may want to avoid if triggering).

Despite the heavier topics, Jaigirdar’s latest novel is a breezy and sweet romance where opposites really do attract as easygoing Hani and abrasive Ishu grow closer. While Hani’s friends are infuriating, her home life is a lovely addition to this story with truly supportive parents. Hani is also navigating how she wants to observe (and express) her Muslim faith–something that comes up throughout the story with her father’s campaign and in the face of microaggressions from her white friends.

Ishu is a true acerbic wit. Her chapters are filled with biting humor and detached observations of the classmates who have never made space for her. While she lacks the same parental support as Hani, Ishu’s character arc is truly satisfying as her relationship with her older sister develops throughout the novel.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a funny, sparkling romantic comedy. Perfect for fans of stories with fake dating schemes, opposites attracting, and characters who thrive no matter what life throws at them.

Possible Pairings: The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhatena, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Charming As a Verb by Ben Philippe, Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi, The Black Kids by Kimberly Jenkins Reid

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

All the Broken People: A Review

Lucy King is ready to start over in Woodstock, New York. She has her dog, she has cash, she has her suitcase with her mother’s vintage silk scarf and her father’s hammer. She has plans for a quiet life where her past will never come back to haunt her.

All the Broken People by Leah KonenEnter Vera and John, Lucy’s painfully stylish neighbors who quickly take Lucy under their wing. After being isolated for so long Lucy craves their attention and friendship enough that she knows she’d do almost anything to keep it.

When the couple asks for Lucy’s help to get a fresh start of their own, Lucy knows she has to help. But what starts as a bit of fraud with minimal consequences and an accidental death becomes something else when someone turns up dead.

Receiving more attention than she wanted, Lucy finds herself at the center of the investigation not just as a witness but a likely suspect. After coming so far to start again, Lucy will have to figure out who she can trust–and who’s really to blame–if she wants to keep the new beginning she fought so hard to create in All the Broken People (2020) by Leah Konen.

Find it on Bookshop.

All the Broken People is Konen’s adult debut. You might recognize her name from her previous YA titles.

All the Broken People is an eerie story where every tension is amplified by Lucy’s isolated, first person narration. After escaping a relationship marked by gaslighting and abuse, Lucy no longer trusts anyone. Not even herself. As her carefully constructed life in Woodstock begins to collapse, she’s forced to confront the events that led her here and what she has to do to get out again.

All the Broken People is the kind of book where the less you know when you start, the better. Konen expertly demonstrates her range as an author with this thriller debut filled with menace and ground-pulled-out-from-under-you twists.

Possible Pairings: Only Truth by Julie Cameron, The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney, The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Week in Review: May 22

missprintweekreview

Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

How My Week Went:

This week has been terrible and I could really use a win somewhere. In other news my blog post with everything you need to know about donating books to libraries (and what to do with them instead) has gotten a second life on Twitter so now is a great time to read it if you haven’t yet.

Read-a-Likes for Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon’s debut novel Everything, Everything took the book world by storm when it was published in 2015 and won even more fans when the story came to life on the big screen with the film adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinsom. If you’re looking for more read-a-likes now that you’ve read the book and watched the movie, this booklist has everything, everything you might want to read next.

Click titles to read my reviews where applicable.

You can also shop this list on Bookshop.

collage art for Booklist: Read-a-Likes for Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonIf You Want a Book Where a Character is More Than Their Illness:

cover art for The Memory Book, Zac and Mia, Before I Die, Hold Me Like a Breath

 

  • The Memory Book by Lara Avery: Sammie doesn’t believe that one diagnosis can change her entire life. She starts writing down her memories big and small as her degenerative illness, Niemann-Pick Type C, begins to take its toll on her memories and her health.
  • Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts: Zac and Mia would never be friends friends in the real world. But different rules apply when you’re in a hospital.
  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham: Tessa knows she is dying. Instead of waiting to disappear without a trace, Tessa decides to complete her “before I die” list in the precious weeks she has left.
  • Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt: When disaster strikes, Penelope is thrust into a world of secrets and betrayals she is ill-equipped to understand. As she struggles to make sense of her shattered past and shape her own future she’ll also learn that life isn’t always a fairy tale. Sometimes you have to make your own happy ending.

If You Want a Book That Goes the Distance (Literally):

cover art for Let's Get Lost, So Much Closer, In Real Life, Anna and the French Kiss

  • Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid: When Leila arrives right when she’s needed most in her ridiculously red car she changes the lives of Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia forever. But it will take a 4,268 mile road trip for Leila to realize what she needs herself.
  • So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti: Brooke moved to New York City for Scott Abrams. Will she wind up staying for herself?
  • In Real Life by Jessica Love: Hannah thinks the Nick she’s known online can’t be that different from Nick in real life. But she only has one night in Vegas to figure that out and decide if she’s ready to risk her heart trying to make their friendship into something more.
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Anna and Etienne have a lot of near-misses and close calls that bring their friendship to the verge of being something more. Even while Etienne is very much still taken. But anything seems possible in the City of Lights. Maybe Anna and Etienne really are meant to be, maybe Anna will even learn some French.

If You Want a Book With a Sweet Romance:

cover art for The Great American Whatever, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, American Street

  • The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle: Quinn doesn’t know how to deal with his sister’s death but his best friend insists that it’s time for Quinn to rejoin the living. One haircut later Quinn meets a hot guy at his first college parts and starts to think the movie version of his life might have a happy ending after all.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: No one was ever supposed to see Lara Jean’s love letters except for Lara Jean. They were never meant for anyone else. With all of her feelings laid bare for these five boys, Lara Jean isn’t sure how to go back to the girl she used to be before the letters were delivered.
  • I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil: When Bea loses her boyfriend to quirky new girl Toile, she decides to use her mathematically proven Formula for social happiness in high school to reinvent herself as eccentric and adorable “Trixie”.
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi:Fabiola Toussaint and her mother arrive in the United States eager to join Fabiola’s aunt and cousins. But her mother is detained by ICE at a facility in New Jersey and Fabiola arrives alone. Fabiola finds new friends and first love, but she also learns that nothing in America is what she imagined back home in Haiti–not even her new home at the corner of American Street and Joy Road.

If You Want a Book That Has Some Unexpected Moments:

cover art for Something Real, The Boy in the Black Suit, My Kind of Crazy, Highly Illogical Behavior

  • Something Real by Heather Demetrios: When their family’s reality show is cancelled Bonnie™ Baker hopes that she and her twelve siblings can start living a normal life. Then her mother announces that Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air and Bonnie™ will have to take drastic measures if she wants to protect the normal life she’s started to treasure.
  • The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: What happens when a boy who works at a funeral home meets a girl who never cries?
  • My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul: When Hank’s promposal attempt ends with a fiery lawn, budding pyromaniac Peyton Breedlove blackmails him into friendship.
  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley: Solomon hasn’t left his house in three years. Lisa, with help from her boyfriend Clark, decides to fix Sol and his agoraphobia. And write a scholarship-winning essay about it. But it turns out psychology isn’t so straightforward when love and friendship come into the mix.

collage art for Booklist: Read-a-Likes for Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This piece originally appeared on YALSA’s Hub Blog in 2017.

10 Truths and a Dare: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley ElstonTruth: School has always been Olivia Perkins’ thing. It’s the reason she took so many AP classes that she had to squeeze in an off-campus gym class, the reason she knows exactly what she wants to major in next year at LSU, and the reason she will be salutatorian for her graduating class.

Truth: Olivia has been looking forward to Senior Party Week since she was a freshman. Every year graduating seniors host extravagant themed parties and they are not to be missed. With invites that include pajama parties, tea parties, a rodeo themed party, a scavenger hunt, and more, Olivia’s week is packed. Sure, her mother has a tracking app on Olivia’s phone while Olivia is home alone but she can handle that, right?

Truth: All of Olivia’s plans change when she finds out she might not graduate because she never completed the hours she needed to pass golf.

Truth: No one can find out about this mess and, with some help from her cousins and best friends, Olivia might be able to keep it under wraps. All she has to do is work at a golf tournament for four days while swapping phones with Charlie, Sophie, and Wes so that Olivia’s mom (and the rest of her enormous family) never finds out.

Truth: Senior Party Week is turning out to be nothing like Olivia expected with fewer parties, a lot more sunburn, and one cute golfer that even a planner like Olivia never could have prepared for in 10 Truths and a Dare (2021) by Ashley Elston.

Find it on Bookshop.

10 Truths and a Dare is a companion novel to Elston’s 10 Blind Dates which follows Sophie’s post-breakup shenanigans over winter break while she reconnects with her boisterous family–including cousins Olivia and Charlie and childhood friend Wes–and herself. This book is set the summer after Sophie’s adventures while Olivia works to make sure she graduates on time. Sections from Sophie, Charlie, and Wes’s point of view also show readers what’s happening while they are on phone duty pretending to be Olivia.

This story has a lot going on with parties, swapped phones, a very high-stakes golf tournament, and lots of secrets. Chapters start with a party invitation and a truth from Olivia, tying back to the book’s title and adding one more layer to an already packed story. For me, this felt like one element too many and working a bit too hard to fit Olivia’s story into a structure that made more sense for Sophie’s book.

That said, this is a still a really fun story filled with lots of great moments leading up to summer and graduation. Elston dedicates the book to the graduating classes who didn’t get these classic high school experiences because of the pandemic. My hope is that some of them can enjoy it vicariously with Olivia and her family.

10 Truths and a Dare is a fun, summery story filled with excitement for what’s next and nostalgia for what won’t come again. Recommended for readers looking for a summer romance where you’ll fall in love with the main character’s family right along with her love interest.

Possible Pairings: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway; 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz; I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo; Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks; Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno; Save the Date by Morgan Matson; Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins; Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud; My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma; Recommended For You by Laura Silverman; This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences

Long titles are the best titles so it was fun picking these books with titles that are complete sentence. Click the titles to read my reviews.

  1. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
  3. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  4. I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
  5. No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett
  6. Recommended For You by Laura Silverman
  7. Killing November by Adriana Mather
  8. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
  9. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  10. Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.