July 2022 Reading Recap

Miss Print's Reading Recap

Planned to Read:

  • The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill
  • Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win by Susan Azim Boyer
  • Three Kisses, One Midnight by Roshani Chokshi, Evelyn Skye and Sandhya Menon
  • This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg
  • Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
  • Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli
  • This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
  • The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao
  • Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin

Read:

  1. The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean
  2. This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg
  3. A Disaster in Three Acts by Kelsey Rodkey
  4. The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi
  5. Shine Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace
  6. Unlock Your Storybook Heart by Amanda Lovelace
  7. A Disaster in Three Acts by Kelsey Rodkey
  8. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
  9. Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong
  10. What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris
  11. Dream Annie Dream by Waka T. Brown
  12. Side Effects by Ted Anderson and Tara O’Connor
  13. Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
  14. Ready When You Are by Gary Lonesborough
  15. Remind Me to Hate You Later by Lizzy Mason
  16. We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride
  17. Until We Break by Matthew Dawkins
  18. This Place is Still Beautiful by XiXi Tian
  19. Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti
  20. The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones
  21. Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo
  22. Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
  23. PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together by Nathan Fairbairn, Michele Assarasakorn
  24. Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy
  25. Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear
  26. Pixels of You

You can also see what I read last month.

Week in Review: July 30

Blog Posts:

My Week:

Continuing to tweak things on here with blog design and functionality. I’m feeling good about where things are right now. Be sure to check out my panel announcement for details on where to find me at SLJTeen Live! next week.

Small Favors: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Small Favors by Erin A. CraigAmity Falls is isolated. Bordered on one side by the Blackspire Mountain range and dense forest on the other, visitors are rare but dangers from the encroaching forest are not. The earliest townsfolk fought to claim the land from literal monsters–the kind that are still, to this day, whispered about after dark. Everyone knows that safety comes from simple things like following the rules of the community and avoiding the forest except for annual supply runs.

Until the last supply run fails.

With no survivors and no provisions, everyone in Amity Falls is facing a long winter.

Even with this coming scarcity, Ellerie Downing’s life remains safe and predictable. Perhaps too predictable as she chafes under the restrictions placed on her as a girl while her feckless brother is expected to take on responsibilities he seems incapable of managing for both the family and the bees that are their livelihood.

As the seasons change, strange things come to the town. Animals born with horrific defects. Inexplicable occurrences in the fields. Visitors claiming to be trappers including a handsome stranger Ellerie can tell is keeping at least one secret.

When the winter proves harder than usual, monstrous creatures come out of the shadows offering to grant wishes–to provide help–so long as they receive small favors in return. The requests seem harmless at first. Until it becomes clear that denying them will have dire consequences in Small Favors (2021) by Erin A. Craig.

Find it on Bookshop.

Small Favors combines supernatural and horror elements in this page turner narrated by Ellerie. Most principle characters are assumed white. The growing tensions among the insulated community of Amity Falls contrast well with the bees kept by Ellerie’s family with beekeeping playing a major role in the story.

Within the confines of Amity Falls, Ellerie is frustrated by the expectations she faces as a young woman to be passive and docile while her twin brother is largely able to do as he likes–often with unfavorable results for Ellerie and the rest of her family and minimal repercussions for himself.  As the story progresses and Ellerie sees more and more cracks in the tenets of the community, she begins to push back against the strict confines of her role in Amity Falls while also discovering her own agency leading to a well-managed treatment of feminist themes and provocative commentary on the importance  to balance individual needs with the greater good.

Craig expertly builds suspense and a growing sense of urgency as Faustian bargains slowly erode everything Ellerie has taken for granted about her home and her family. Small Favors combines the eerie seclusion of The Village, the escalating ferocity of Needful Things, and a unique magic system to create a distinctly unsettling atmosphere where nothing is as it seems. Small Favors is a quiet blend of horror and fantasy sure to keep you up all night reading.

Possible Pairings: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart, Five Midnights by Ana Davila Cardinal, The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones, Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, Ferryman by Claire McFall, Red Wolf by Rachel Vincent, Needful Things, The Village

Panel Announcement: See Me (Virtually) at SLJTeen Live!

Big news: I’m moderating a panel at SLJTeen Live! on Thursday August 4.

SLJTeen Live! is a full day of free, virtual events showcasing forthcoming titles for teens and tweens with panels, keynotes, and more. The event is also entirely virtual and free to attend live the day of or after the fact via recordings in the virtual environment.

Mark your calendars for my panel “Let’s Talk About Mental Health” on Thursday August 4 at 10:05am EST.

I’ll be moderating the “Let’s Talk About Mental Health” panel featuring authors Ted Anderson, Matthew Dawkins, Lizzy Mason, and Amber McBride on Thursday May 4 at 10:05am EST.

SLJTeen Live! Let's Talk About Mental Health Panel Description

 

These books cover the topics relevant to so many teens (and adults!) today. Listen and learn about these teens and their stories on mental health.

Details including the full program schedule and how to register can be found on the SLJTeen Live! home page.

Here’s more about all of the authors:

Ted Anderson author bio Matthew Dawkins author bio Lizzy Mason, Amber McBride author bios

 

And my bio because why not?

Emma speaker bio SLJ DoD May 19

See you there!

 

The Book Eaters: A Review

“We can only live by the light we’re given. And some of us are given no light at all. What else can we do but learn to see in the dark?”

The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanDevon grows up surrounded living in a manor house on the Yorkshire Moors with her family; they are always focused on tradition, on appearances, on the Family above all.

Being part of her family comes with its own responsibilities. Boys will grow up to be patriarchs or leaders, they’ll train to become the Knights who carefully manage marriages between book eaters to prevent inbreeding. Girls are a rarer commodity among the book eaters, precious. With only six girls between the Families, every one is expected to do her duty producing two children from two different husbands to help propagate the species.

Raised as a princess, eating fairytales and cautionary tales like every female book eater, Devon knows her role from a young age as clearly as she knows she craves different stories to eat. It isn’t the life she wants but, for a book eater girl, it’s the only life there is.

Prepared to do her part until her childbearing years end with the early menopause endemic to their species, Devon plans to stay detached and bide her time until she’s free. But nothing goes according to plan once she holds her first child.

Book eaters have never been known for their creativity but when her son is born not as a book eater but as a much more dangerous–and much more expendable–mind eater, Devon is determined to do everything she can to imagine a new ending for both of them in The Book Eaters (2022) by Sunyi Dean.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Book Eaters is Dean’s debut novel. The audiobook, as narrated by Katie Erich, brings Devon’s Yorkshire tyke to life.

Devon’s Family is of Romanian descent, most characters are assumed white. Devon’s sexuality as a lesbian–and another character’s asexuality–becomes central to the plot as Devon questions her narrowly defined role within the constraints of book eater society.

With its focus on bodily autonomy and personal freedom, The Book Eaters is surprisingly prescient. Dean does not shy away from scenes of assault on the night of Devon’s first “wedding” nor from disconcerting depictions of what exactly happens when a mind eater feeds making for a timely but often unpleasant narrative.

In a society of creatures who are stronger and more dangerous than humans, Devon and other characters are forced into difficult choices for their survival. This focus leads to a fast paced story interspersed with ethical quandaries of who can qualify as a hero or a villain and, more relevantly, who is worth saving.

The Book Eaters is a grim adventure with abundantly original world building; a story about the lengths we’ll go to protect family–found and otherwise.

Possible Pairings: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, Half Bad by Sally Green, The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, Only a Monster by Vanessa Len, This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

*An advance copy of this title and an ALC of this title from Libro.fm was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Week in Review: July 23

Blog Posts:

My Week:

New York is currently in a heat wave and boy does it show. Stay cool, stay hydrated.

Event Recap: It’s in the Air Panel at SLJ Day of Dialog May 19

On May 19, 2022 I got to moderate a panel at School Library Journal’s latest Day of Dialog. (Read my intro post about the panel here: https://wp.me/p6kfM-avR)

SLJ DoD is a full day of author talks, panels, and more. And it’s free and virtual.

My panel was “It’s in the Air” featuring authors Kacen Callender, Jas Hammonds, Susan Lee, and Maya Prasad (Rhiannon Wilde was scheduled but unfortunately couldn’t make it) talking about their stories, romance and identity.

Here are some stills from the panel:

As you can imagine from the stills, it was a great time. Be sure to add all of these authors to your to read list and watch my blog for reviews of these amazing titles.

If your interested is piqued you can watch the panel online.

Sad you missed this panel and the other sessions? You can still register and watch the day’s events for another month.

Sherwood: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Who are you to say that being a lady, in itself, is not its own kind of war?”

Sherwood by Meagan SpoonerWhen Robin of Locksley dies fighting in the Crusades for his king, it leaves Marian’s entire future uncertain. For years, Marian knew she would marry Robin and stand beside him when he became Lord of Locksley. They would make a life together, the way they had always planned, and they would protect Locksley town and its residents from the Sheriff of Nottingham. Together.

Now Marian is painfully aware of her uncertain future. Guy of Gisborne serves as the sheriff’s right hand. He hopes to cement his place as a gentleman first by laying claim to Locksley land and then by claiming Marian herself.

With her options dwindling and time running short, Marian is driven to a desperate decision to don Robin’s green cloak and act as a protector when he no longer can. What began as one impulsive act quickly gains a life of its own as news of Robin’s return spreads and brings hope to people with in desperate need of it.

Marian never meant to hide behind a hood, she never meant to become Robin. With Guy getting closer to her secret, with the sheriff enraged, Marian knows she has to stop. But with so many people counting on her–on Robin Hood–she isn’t sure how she can in Sherwood (2019) by Meagan Spooner.

Find it on Bookshop.

Spooner continues her series of standalone retellings of classic tales with Sherwood. All characters are assumed white.

Sherwood reinterprets familiar source material with new twists and imbues the story with strong feminist themes. Marian has always been aware of her vulnerabilities and limitations as a woman in medieval society where the paths available to her include marriage or life in a convent and much in between. These restraints gain new urgency when Marian’s planned future is stripped away with Robin’s unexpected death–leaving her to grieve her lost future as much as her childhood best friend.

This impressive take on Robin Hood features familiar characters and plot points retold with clever changes that make Sherwood into something new. Marian’s precarious role as a noblewoman is portrayed well as societal pressures call for her to stop mourning Robin and choose a new suitor. At the same time, as she works with Sherwood’s most notable outlaws, Marian’s privilege is checked by her new (and sometimes reluctant) allies who keep her grounded in the realities of living in poverty or on the run from the law.

Without revealing too much about the plot, I will say Spooner’s treatment of Guy of Gisborne is one of my favorite character reinterpretations of all time. This story reimagines Guy as a more nuanced character than the usual dour enforcer and positions him to serve as a foil and counterpoint to Marian throughout.

Sherwood stays true to the source material and the spirit of the characters while also being entirely unique and adding new layers to a familiar tale. Sherwood is a richly layered and deeply feminist story filled with adventure and surprises; perfect for fans familiar with Robin Hood and new readers alike.

Possible Pairings: No Good Deed by Kara Connolly, The Forest Queen by Betsey Cornwell, Hood by Jenny Moke Elder, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley, Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson, Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater, The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder, The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

The Perfect Escape: A Review

The Perfect Escape by Leah KonenNew friends Sam, Margaret, and Diana bonded over their messy divorces–different trajectories that all ended in the same place. Now they’re all single, ready to move on, and maybe in Sam’s case still just a little bitter.

A road trip out of New York City is exactly what all three of them need.

Which makes it even more of a bummer when their car breaks down in the Catskills and puts the trip on hold while their car is being repaired. It’s the same place Sam’s ex–Harry–chose to move in with his other woman, the one he left Sam to go back to. But that doesn’t have to mean anything. They can still have fun at a bar. Unless maybe Sam can use the opportunity to get Harry back.

Margaret is nervous about the trip, the expenses, her ex-husband’s increasingly erratic behavior in the apartment they’re still sharing because neither can afford to move out. But she’s also ready for a break and a distraction. Which she finds when sparks start to fly with a younger man at the bar.

When a night promising fresh starts instead leads to bad decisions, both Sam and Margaret aren’t sure what their night out means for the rest of the trip–or their futures. Then they realize that Diana never made it back from the bar. Then things get worse.

It should have been the perfect trip. None of them expected it to include a body count in The Perfect Escape (2022) by Leah Konen.

Find it on Bookshop.

Konen’s latest thriller is a wild ride through secrets and lies set in upstate New York. All main characters are cued as white.

As the story alternates between first person narrations, it’s clear that all of the characters are keeping their secrets close. Konen slowly teases out Sam, Margaret, and Diana’s backstories as this pressure cooker of a story builds to a twist-filled conclusion and doubts begin to rise between the close-but-new friends.

The Perfect Escape is the kind of book that you’ll enjoy the most with no expectations and minimal information. Konen continues to hone her craft with this smart and suspenseful story where she strikes the perfect balance between dropping clues and foreshadowing future events while also leaving space for truly surprising reveals.

Descriptive prose and well-realized backstories for both Sam and Margaret add substance to this stylish thriller.

Possible Pairings: The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson, We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz, Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney, The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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

Week in Review: July 16

Blog Posts:

My Week:

My review posts to write queue is down to 33. Feeling good about that progress. This week has been … something. I’m happy to see the other side of it.