Week in Review: April 30

Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

https://twitter.com/miss_print/status/1519426988397805570

How My Week Went:

I’ve had a lot of conversations this past week about how people are responding to Elon Musk buying Twitter. I’m not going anywhere and waiting to see what happens for now. But it’s funny because seeing this mass exodus from Twitter has really underscored how much I hate being on Instagram and now I’m wondering if I need to plan an exit strategy from there. Decisions, decisions.

Poetically Speaking: How to Triumph Like a Girl by Ada Limon

“How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón

I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like
that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to lift my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.

***

Ada Limón is a widely known poet whose work straddles the line between being known both in writerly circles (thanks to her numerous accolades and awards) and more broadly (thanks to social media).

You can find and buy her books on Bookshop.org

Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t featured anything by Ada Limón before now for Poetically Speaking. It feels like an egregious oversight considering how many of her poems cross my path via social media and just browsing for poems online (as one does). So as I was looking for poems to highlight this year during National Poetry Month, I knew I wanted to feature something by Limón. But which poem to choose? I hadn’t read “How to Triumph Like a Girl” before and when I first saw it online, I admit I wasn’t sure about it. But like all good poetry, this one got under my skin. I kept thinking about it. And that, I knew, was reason enough to share it.

I love the way a poem can build and the way that where a poem starts isn’t always the same as where it ends. What begins as broad observations narrows and sharpens by the end. What at first seems like an offhand conversation turns into something else as Limón ably shifts the narrative.

I’m always a sucker for a good last line and this poem is no exception. When writing booktalks for work one of my friends advises that the last line should echo–it should have resonance and stay with the listener. That’s what comes to mind for me when I read the final couplet here. I especially like the certainty and sense of inevitability as you read “it’s going to come in first” that makes it clear there was never any other outcome worth considering.

Check back every Friday in April for a new Poetically Speaking post. Until then, you can also browse older posts (and guest posts) for more poetry.

April 2022 Reading Recap

Miss Print's Reading Recap

Planned to Read:

  • We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
  • Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender
  • Seoulmates by Susan Lee
  • Drizzle, Dreams, and Other Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad
  • Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde
  • A Disaster in Three Acts by Kelsey Rodkey
  • The Charmed List by Julie Abe

Read:

  1. Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn
  2. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
  3. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
  4. The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
  5. Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara
  6. A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson
  7. Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
  8. My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen
  9. We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
  10. Seoulmates by Susan Lee
  11. Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender
  12. One True Loves by Elise Bryant
  13. Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane

You can also see what I read last month.

Book of Night: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“That’s what good con artists did. They didn’t need to convince you of anything, because you were too busy convincing yourself.”

Book of Night by Holly BlackCharlie Hall remembers the way things were before magic was real. Her life would have taken a different course without shadow magic and the underground market it created for stolen shadows, arcane spells, and–most importantly for Charlie–hidden knowledge. She might have become a different woman if she didn’t move so quickly from small cons to the much bigger cons of stealing long hidden, very dangerous spells.

But some bullets can’t be dodged. You have to take the hit.

Which is why Charlie is more determined than ever to start fresh. No cons. No heists. And definitely no magic. She can’t stop her younger sister Posey from searching online for traces of magic at all hours, can’t stop Posey from splitting her own tongue so she’ll be ready when her shadow wakes up. What Charlie can do is take a boring stable job tending bar, spend time with her boring stable boyfriend Vince, and make sure Posey’s tuition is paid on time. Simple.

Except you don’t get into the spell market without building a reputation, without meeting unsavory characters, without sometimes being the unsavory character. That makes it hard to start fresh.

When the worst parts of her past come back to haunt her, Charlie’s boring stable life is thrown into chaos. Delving deeper into the world she thought she’d left behind, Charlie quickly learns that danger doesn’t just lurk in the shadows–sometimes it’s the shadows themselves in Book of Night (2022) by Holly Black.

Find it on Bookshop.

Book of Night is Black’s adult market debut.

Charlie is a pragmatic main character, having survived her share of hard knocks and dealt a few herself along the way. Even in world with magic, Charlie is aware that to be normal means fitting into a very narrow box–one that’s hard to find when you’re poor and have a past like hers. While this tense narrative centers on a job Charlie can’t refuse, at its core Book of Night is a story about growing into yourself and learning to embrace every part of yourself–even the ones you’ve tried so hard to bury.

When magic can be bought and sold or stolen and hoarded, Charlie walks the shadow-thin line between going too far and not going far enough to protect everyone she loves. Book of Night delivers noir elements with world-weary heroine Charlie alongside the fantasy and wonder inherent to a world where magic is real but still new enough to not be fully understood. Book of Night is filled with satisfying twists and gasp-worthy reveals perfect for long-time Holly Black fans and new readers alike.

Possible Pairings: Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey, An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard, Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry, Gallant by V. E. Schwab

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

Bravely: A Review

Bravely by Maggie StiefvaterMerida of DunBroch is the kind of girl that magic seeks. While others try to understand magic’s arcane ways, Merida has known from a young age to be wary of it–especially after a curse almost turned her mother and her younger brothers into bears forever.

Now, Merida knows better than to chase magic. Instead she has traveled. She has explored. She has learned. But it still always feels like something is missing. Like she’s waiting for something to change.

Then she hears the knock on Christmas Eve. When goddesses and gods make themselves known to you, you listen whether you want to understand their magic or not.

When Feradach the god of ruin himself says he is going to bring catastrophic change to your home and your family, you try to stop him.

When that doesn’t work, you strike a bargain with help from the Cailleach, the most ancient of goddesses and one who might have a soft spot for Merida and her family.

Once the bargain is struck, Merida has a year to change all of the things that have grown stagnant in DunBroch and show Feradach how much they can change without his ruination.

One princess, two gods, three voyages, four seasons for Merida to save everything she holds dear in Bravely (2022) by Maggie Stiefvater.

Find it on Bookshop.

Bravely is an official continuation of Princess Merida’s story (as originally seen in the 2012 Disney film Brave) written by Stiefvater. Set a few years after the events of the film, Bravely references Merida’s past but functions on its own. All characters in this Scottish-set story are presumed white.

A close third person narrator and eerie opening lend Bravely a fairytale feel as the stage is set for Merida’s bargain with Feradach. Stiefvater populates Merida’s world with a combination of historical figures, familiar faces from the film, and gods and goddesses (some historically accurate, some imagined) alongside entirely new characters to create a large cast that takes some time to get to know and care about. Set over the course of the year, this story builds slowly before finding its footing in the second half as the plot shifts into new territory.

A slow start builds to a satisfying conclusion as Bravely blends new and old to create a story centered on themes of change and renewal. Bravely is an appropriately nuanced story perfect for Disney fans and readers of historical fantasy alike.

Possible Pairings: Ferryman by Claire McFall, Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Little Thieves by Margaret Owen, Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson, Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

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

Week in Review: April 23

Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

How My Week Went:

Guys. I am still so so tired.

Poetically Speaking: What I See When I Stare Long Enough into Nothing by Jeremy Michael Clark

“What I See When I Stare Long Enough into Nothing” by Jeremy Michael Clark
(With a line borrowed from Ada Limón)

A screen door easing shut:
the only way I can describe
this creaking in my knees.
It’s when I’m alone that this pain
is easy to hear. I haven’t been
a child in years yet here I go,
discussing the past again.
I’ve been told what happened to me
doesn’t define me, matters less
than the narrative I tell. At night
I rub coconut oil into my skin,
over the scar on my arm
in the shape of a garden
snake. I can tell it
disappoints you, how I can’t recall
its origin, but trust me, it doesn’t
matter now. Seeping through my fingers
the oil reminds me of rain,
how at first it gently settles
into soil. Unless there’s a storm,
at which point picture a child,
ignoring what they’ve been told,
who finds a way to ruin
their shoes. And picture a mother,
relieved when finally her child
returns. Even if he leaves
the door ajar. Even if he leaves
footprints on the floor.

***

I came across “What I See When I Stare Long Enough Into Nothing” while searching for poems to feature during National Poetry Month under a search for “Ada Limon.” What a happy accident for me.

Isn’t it strange how aging can sneak up on you? How the wear and tear accumulates on this body carrying you through the world? I have had what would be called “bad knees” for a while now. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it on the blog but my mom and I were hit by a van in 2013–it backed into us while we were waiting to hail a cab (in front of a hospital, because of course). I landed on my knees and while they don’t hurt every day anymore, they always know when it’s going to rain. It’s a weird experience. One that I think about more than I’d like to and more than I need to, but also one that in many ways is key to me being the person I am now. The idea that these things that happen shouldn’t define a person, that you should be able to choose the story you tell speaks to me and speaks the way you can parse the information you share about yourself; the way you can curate the way you share yourself with the world.

I love the subtlety of Clark’s lines here and the way the narrative shifts from creaking knees to a scar and the quiet question of whether he really can’t recall the origin of the scar or simply chooses not to. And then the narrative of the poem shifts again to a contemplation of memory and time.

I have always had a soft spot for poems that shine a light on nostalgia. I especially like this one for the way it explores the specific ache of a moment passing while you watch. You can feel the narrator’s wistful remembering in every word here and the way it’s emphasized with linguistic choices “Seeping through fingers” as time passes. But most of all here I love the imagery and the way that, by the end of the poem, you feel like you really can see those footprints on the floor.

Check back every Friday in April for a new Poetically Speaking post. Until then, you can also browse older posts (and guest posts) for more poetry.

The Last Legacy: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Last Legacy by Adrienne YoungThe Roths are well-known in Bastian as thieves and cheats. There are rumors they’ve done worse. But no one is stupid enough to say that to a Roth’s face.

Bryn knows her uncle Henrik has plans for her. She knows she has a place with the fiercely loyal family if she can only be ruthless enough to claim it.

But after years spent trying to cram herself into the narrow role the Roths have carved out for her, Bryn also knows that sometimes opportunity is just another word for a stacked deck and being accepted by her family will come with a steeper cost than Bryn ever imagined.

When business trumps everything, there’s always a bargain to be made but in a family where there are rules and consequences, making your own fate could be a costly mistake in The Last Legacy (2021) by Adrienne Young.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Last Legacy is set in the same world as Young’s Fable series. It is set after the events of Fable and Namesake and can be read on its own. Main characters are assumed white. The audiobook features an excellent narration by Suzy Jackson.

Bryn brings a singular focus to her narration as she struggles to understand the complex dynamics of the Roth family and her role among them. Bryn is well aware of her strengths and what she brings to the table as the Roths try to scrub their less-than-glowing reputation in Bastian and earn a coveted spot as merchants. It’s only as she learns more about the Roths–and the lengths Henrik is willing to take to secure lasting stability for them–that Bryn begins to understand her own naivete about her family and, more importantly, the cost of trying to forge her own path among them.

With schemes and violence at every turn, Bryn finds an unlikely ally in Ezra–the family’s prodigiously talented silversmith. Young does an excellent job building their fractious relationship from grudging respect into a slow burn romance that will have lasting consequences for the entire Roth family. As Bryn’s options for working with her family and within Bastian’s cutthroat guild system dwindle the narrative becomes claustrophobic, conveying Bryn’s desperation as the story escalates and builds to its dramatic finish.

While lacking the nautical flavor of the Fable books, this book is a satisfying expansion of that world. The Last Legacy is a complex, fast-paced adventure with a slow burn romance and a heroine charting her own course.

Possible Pairings: Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace, Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier, Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer, The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen, Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Gaming Unplugged: Board Games, Card Games, and Party Games to use in Teen Programs

Gaming Unplugged

I’ve talked before about ready-made craft programs on the blog in what I call Maker Kits–pre-bundled supplies for programs ideal to use for passive programming or (in pandemic life) to repurpose for grab and go programming.

Today I have some quick ideas for low-tech gaming (with minimal set up and generally quick game play) if you want to do an “unplugged” game program”

  • Card Games: It’s pretty old school but I like having some standard decks of playing cards on hand for game programs. You can also have a book of solitaire games (and shock everyone when you reveal that yes, we used to play with real cards!) and books with basic card games (there’s The Card Game Bible and Hoyle’s Modern Encyclopedia of Card Games if you’re looking for where to start). There are also novelty decks for specific games like Old Maid or Crazy Eights and more. You can also explain card counting with Black Jack. Then, of course, there’s the classic: Uno. If none of the games appeal, you can always have everyone try to build card houses.
  • 1,000 Blank White Cards: This game is about as low tech as it gets. All you need to start are some pens and note cards. Players make the deck as they go so teens can create cards in addition to some you made ahead of time (maybe with help from volunteers). The game can take any form depending on what cards are created. Most involve some kind of point value, an action, and an illustration. Want to know more before you get started? There’s a wiki for that.
  • Charades: I am on a crusade to make sure teens know how to play charades and let me tell you it’s been uphill at my library. Charades has players draw a word/phrase of some kind and pantomime the action or words within to get others to guess the answer. It can be played either individually or in teams. I suggest using a word generator or other strategy to create prompts ahead of time because when I had teens write them up it devolved into a lot of obscure video game characters. You may also have to explain the concept with some examples. I had prompts in one game for “Little Women” and “The Hunger Games” and teens tried to act out the entire story instead of just the title.
  • Codenames: This game has a couple of version. I’ve been using the Codenames Pictures version. The game can work with 2-8 players (or more in teams) so it’s great for larger groups as well. Codenames is a cross between “Guess Who?” and “Battleship” with Spymaster players who lay out the board and know the location of their own spies on the board. Spymasters then use clues based on picture tiles in the game to reveal those locations to the rest of their team (example: “1, game” would tell the other players to look for the one tile on the board that refers to a game, possibly a dice or a billiard ball) to uncover the spies. Whoever collects all of their spies off the board first wins.
  • Coup: Easily one of my favorite games, Coup is a bluffing game where players compete to wield the most influence and win the game. The game includes a deck of cards, coins, and some how-to/role cards and works with 2 to 6 players (or more if you do teams. I think of this game as extreme “Go Fish.” Every player starts with two hidden cards which can take on various roles. Players then have to take actions to draw currency and gather enough money to either assassinate the competition or unseat them in a coup (forcing them to reveal a card). Whoever ends the game with more influence (one or two cards still hidden) wins. I love it for programs because it can be as easy or as hard as teens want to make it.
  • Dominoes: Dominoes is about as basic as it gets for low-tech games. There are a variety of ways to play but essentially you are matching pips (dots) to remove them from your hand of dominoes. Winning can either be done by using all dominoes in your hand or by determining points at the end of the game depending on what works for your crowd. Dominoes come in a range of sets including Double 6 (the highest domino has 6 pips on each side) up to double 18. I would suggest going with at least a double 12 set if you are playing with teens to make the game more complex. Having a larger set also means there will also be more dominoes to play so it will work better for larger groups. There is also a variant called Squaremino if you’re into that.
  • Grifters: This game is a from the people behind Coup but a bit more complicated. In this deck building game, players are all in charge of a group of criminals with various skills in brain, speed, or brawn. Players build their deck of grifters to complete different jobs and earn coins. Whoever has earned the most after all jobs are completed wins. Grifters works for 2-4 players (or teams therein) and it’s a bit more complicated so play runs longer but if you have the time it’s a blast.
  • Jenga: Does this need any explanation? Probably not.
  • Mafia: I only heard about this game while searching for information to put in this post. It sounds a little complicated at first but I think with the right group of teens it could be a lot of fun. It seems like it could be a good ongoing game for a program with regular attendance like an advisory group or some kind of club.
  • Sushi Go: This pick and pass game works for 2 to 5 players and involves building various sets of sushi. Go Fish but with fish that you eat.
  • Who Wins?: You might have seen this book on YALSA’s 2017 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list. Who Wins? is an interactive book that pits various historical figures ranging from Nicola Tesla to Harriet Tubman in head-to-head competitions in everything from The Hunger Games to ping pong. If you act as moderator and raise questions about the various merits of each figure (“Would George Washington’s wealth–rated 10/10–be any help to catch Jack the Ripper?”) it can lead to some interesting discussions. Teens also had a great time setting up various competitions. I brought this along with several other games to a program but the book kept everyone occupied for the entire hour.
  • Yahtzee or Dice: Yahtzee is a counting game but instead of cards you’re working with dice to build various sequences. You can buy a kit or just get some dice and make your own scoring. You can also up the stakes with double dice.

A version of this post originally appeared on Teen Services Underground in 2017.

Week in Review: April 16

Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

How My Week Went:

I’m backdating this after remembering to post it a week later if that gives you any insight.