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Librarian. Writer. Blogger at Miss Print since 2007. Reader. Feminist. SLJ reviewer. YALSA Hub Blogger. PPYA 2015/16. Amateur spy. Zen. 🦄

The Mirror King: A Review

*The Mirror King is the final book in a duology. This review has spoilers for the first book The Orphan Queen.*

cover art for The Mirror King by Jodi MeadowsEverything changed the moment she revealed herself as princess Wilhemina Korte and vowed to reclaim her kingdom of Aecor and the Vermillion Throne. Now Wil is torn between old allies and new friends as she struggles to become the leader her people deserve.

Wil’s closest ally Tobiah has been gravely wounded and struggles with his own reluctance to take his place on the Indigo Throne when he would much prefer to continue his vigilante work as Black Knife.

Both Wil and Tobiah will have to put aside their differences and their decisions as the Wraith continues to grow in power and come closer to their homes. Wil controlled the Wraith once with disastrous consequences. She isn’t sure she can trust herself, or her magic, to try again.

For the last ten years Wil has relied on her anonymity to keep her safe. Now, as alliances crumble and dangers loom she will have to learn to place her trust in others and step into the light if she wants to save her kingdom and everyone she cares about in The Mirror King (2015) by Jodi Meadows.

The Mirror King is the final book in a duology which began with The Orphan Queen. Meadows once again writes this story in Wil’s pragmatic first person narration.

This series–and particularly this book–highlights everything that can be done when a duology is handled well. The Mirror King continues to explore themes of identity and leadership in this novel while also expanding the world and the story as Wil and her friends race to stop the Wraith. Even the cover art nicely ties back to book one with clever design choices.

Wil’s external conflicts with the Wraith and to reclaim Aecor are juxtaposed against her reluctance to become a queen when she feels ill-prepared for the responsibilities or the costs. There are no easy choices for Wil or Tobiah and Wil’s development throughout the series illustrates that as she begins to understand and accept her obligations.

The Mirror King is an excellent conclusion to a fast-paced, truly engaging fantasy series. Highly recommended for fans of high fantasy novels filled with intrigue, adventure, and just a little romance.

Possible Pairings: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch, Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

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The Orphan Queen: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Ten years ago the Indigo Kingdom invaded Aecor, assassinated the king and queen, and claimed Aecor as its own territory during the One-Night War. Princess Wilhemina and the other orphaned noble children were taken to the capital city of Skyvale but managed to escape a life of captivity within the walls of an orphanage.

Now seventeen Wil and the other orphans, the Ospreys, are experts at stealth and theft after years of training and preparation. They are all ready to do everything they can to help Wil reclaim her throne. Even if it means Will has to assume the identity of a dead girl to infiltrate the palace.

That isn’t Wil’s only secret or her only obstacle. Magic has been outlawed for a century in a failing effort to push back the Wraith–a toxic by-product of magic that threatens to overtake the Indigo Kingdom sooner than anyone could have imagined. Wil’s own magic might be able to help her reclaim her throne and stop the Wraith. But only if she is able to keep her secrets–something that becomes increasingly unlikely when she attracts the attention of the notorious vigilante Black Knife. Nothing is as it seems in Skyvale and time is running out. Wil is poised to become a queen, but first she’ll have to prove she has what it takes to lead in The Orphan Queen (2015) by Jodi Meadows.

The Orphan Queen is the first book in a duology. Wil’s story concludes in The Mirror King.

The Orphan Queen is a plot-driven fantasy novel filled with action and intrigue. Narrated by Wil the novel follows her efforts to infiltrate the Indigo Kingdom and do whatever it takes to reclaim her throne. Slinking through the kingdom at night searching out materials for her forgery efforts Wil also has to avoid Black Knife–a vigilante known throughout the Indigo Kingdom for his work hunting down illegal magic users and arresting them for the crown.

These efforts play out against the larger backdrop of a world that is slowly be ravaged by Wraith–a substance that twists and ruins everything it touches as it gains strength from magic use. The more I read about the Wraith in The Orphan Queen the more it struck me as the perfect analogy for climate change and our current struggles with global warming.

While a lot of information about the Wraith is withheld from readers (we are, after all, limited to what Wil knows and she’s been in hiding since she was seven) this bit of world building felt ingenious and added a fair level of complexity to a world that otherwise might have been very black and white. The ethics surrounding magic use both as a kingdom and as an individual are things Wil struggles with throughout the novel as she contemplates her role in dealing with the Wraith should she manage to reclaim her throne.

My main issue with The Orphan Queen is that all of the characters are too young. This is something that happens a lot in young adult novels because there’s an idea that you can’t be a “young” adult without being an actual teen. Because of that the Ospreys are somehow trained, mentored, and led by Wil’s closest ally Patrick who takes on these responsibilities at the tender age of eleven. In addition to pushing willing suspension of disbelief to its limit, this also raises questions about how much Wil can actually remember of her childhood home or the One-Night War itself. Unfortunately, these questions remain not just unanswered but largely unasked in a moment of wasted potential for an otherwise strong novel.

Wil’s first person narration is engaging and entertaining as she moves seamlessly between identities as a princess, a rebel, a forger, and a fighter. Wil is calculating and clever but she is also compassionate and desperate to reclaim her kingdom and stop the Wraith with as little bloodshed as possible–something that becomes increasingly difficult as Wil’s various identities begin to overlap and she becomes torn between new alliances and old loyalties.

The Orphan Queen is a strong start to a fast-paced and delightfully exciting duology. Recommended for readers looking for a fantasy novel with high stakes action, intrigue, and just a touch of romance. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch, Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

Say You’ll Remember Me: A Review

cover art for Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarryDrix is finally out of juvenile detention after serving out a year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Now as part of his plea deal Drix is serving as the face of the governor’s new Second Chance Program meant to help delinquent teens get off the streets and break the school-to-prison pipeline once and for all. Drix hates being at the beck and call of the governor and his entire team but he also knows this is his last chance to get his life back on track–even if it means he might have to give up his beloved drums for fear of letting them lead him down the wrong path again.

Elle knows life as the governor’s daughter is filled with privilege. But she also knows that it’s filled with pressure to be perfect all the time and display a certain face to the public–even if it might not be the face that feels like it’s really her. All Elle really wants to do is pursue coding and win a prestigious internship–something her parents seem to think is impossible while Elle continues to help her father’s campaign.

Drix and Elle have nothing in common but their connection is immediate. Which makes it that much harder when Drix realizes that Elle is the last girl he should be thinking about, forget talking to. Together Drix and Elle might be able to find the truth behind Drix’s conviction and give Elle a chance to gain some independence but only if they’re willing to stick together in Say You’ll Remember Me (2017) by Katie McGarry.

McGarry’s latest is a fun standalone romance written in alternating first person chapters between Drix and Elle. McGarry’s writing is fast-paced and filled with snappy dialog, particularly between Drix and Elle whose chemistry is immediate both to themselves and to readers.

Although both characters are seventeen at the start of the novel they often start to sound like adults (particularly Drix as he delivers smooth remarks including the observation that Elle has lips that are “made for sin”) which sometimes makes the prose a bit clunky.

The problem of Drix and Elle’s extremely star-crossed relationship takes a backseat for much of the story to the more immediate issue of figuring out who committed the robbery for which Drix was arrested. Elle’s strained and often painful relationship with her parents also adds dimension to her character.

Say You’ll Remember Me is an exciting romance that explores teen incarceration, non-traditional families, and life in poverty with nuance and authenticity. Recommended for readers looking for a realistic bit of escapism guaranteed to end well (as all romances should and do).

 

Possible Pairings: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway, Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Dear Yvette by Ni-Ni Simone, The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

Week in Review: February 3 Regrouping and Reminders

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

First things first: You still have some time to head to Instagram to enter my giveaway for hitting 300 followers.

I’m feeling a lot more focused this week and just generally better. Last week was hard. I have to do a ton of laundry this weekend BUT I’m excited about that because it’s to wash new jeans that are super comfortable and include more styles than the skinny jeans I’d been wearing for two years or so previously.

This upcoming week has a lot of big work things and other stuff coming up but I’m just trying to do my usual one step at a time approach. How do you deal when you have a lot of stuff on your plate? What do you do if you start to feel behind?

I was having some reading battle fatigue so I decided to throw caution to the wind and pick up an ARC I had been really excited about. And omg! Not If I Save You First is so good. Everyone needs this Ally Carter book in their life.

I am back up to a backlog of 8 reviews to write. This is more than I would like but I’m hoping with commitment I can get it down again. Also I have some excited interviews lined up. Did you know I have more than eighty author interviews posted to this blog? If you’re ever looking for some old posts to read, start there.

One more reminder before I go: I have an Amazon Affiliate link. If you are ever so inclined feel free to follow my link (http://amzn.to/2uIW8bp) while shopping to give me a small commission on your purchases.

Here are two of my favorites from Instagram this week:

January has had a lot of ups and downs for me. Something I’ve been trying to take to heart in this new year is beginning as I mean to go on. In that respect I’m feeling ready for February and whatever is has to offer as I prepare some new planner pages (this one is a task tracker and I have another for books) and get ready for a new book. ▪️ I’m still in the nebulous miscellaneous category of my #konmari project. While working on that and other goals I’m trying to remember to give myself a break as I figure all of that and this whole 2018 thing out. And sometimes that means going ahead and reading the book you’ve been dying to pick up. ▪️ After six year living in an isolated cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with her Secret Service agent father, Maddie is used to being on her own. She has definitely given up on hearing from her former best friend Logan, the president’s son. ▪️ So when Logan does show up, Maddie is ready to kill him. But a mysterious assailant forces Maddie to put that plan on hold pushing her off a cliff and dragging Logan away. Now Maddie has to save Logan. But once she finishes that she’s definitely going to kill him. Watch for this one in your local bookstores and libraries this March! ▪️ What are some of our goals for the new year? How are you doing with them? What’s something you’re looking forward to in the new month? ▪️ #lofifilter #allycarter #notifisaveyoufirst #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #yalit #yabooks #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #ireadya #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookish

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If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my February reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

February 2018 Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in January.

Books Read:

  1. Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter
  2. As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
  3. Ink, Iron, & Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
  4. Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neil
  5. Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  6. Everless by Sara Holland
  7. Unearthed by Amie Kaufman

Books Bought: 0!

ARCs Received:

  1. Lights, Camera, Disaster by by Erin M. Dionne (not requested)
  2. By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell (requested)
  3. Unstoppable Moses by Tyler James Smith (surprise add-on to a request)
  4. Mirage by Somaiya Daud (surprise add-on to a request)
  5. Legendary by Stephanie Garber (requested!)
  6. Girl’s Can’t Hit by T. S. Easton (Fierce Reads book package–I might actually read this)
  7. The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde (Fierce Reads book package–I might actually read this)
  8. The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas (Fierce Reads book package–I might actually read this)
  9. The Boyfriend Bracket by Kate Evangelista (Fierce Reads book package–I might actually read this)
  10. Shadow State by Elyse Brayden (Fierce Reads book package–not directly requested)
  11. Run, Hide, Fight Back by April Henry (Fierce Reads book package–not directly requested)
  12. Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron (Fierce Reads book package–not directly requested)
  13. Supermoon by H. A. Swain (Fierce Reads book package–not directly requested)
  14. Screenshot by Donna Cooner (not requested)

Here’s my planned to read list:

New month, new to read stack! 📚 📚 📚 I’m going to stick with picking six target books to read in the month because it’s a manageable number and gives me room to read other stuff as I desire. 📚 I’m also going to include one adult title and one nonfiction book a month. (But I think I may stick to YA nonfiction moving forward because while I enjoyed Hit Makers it just took forever.) 📚 This month I’m focusing on some books that have been on my shelves for a while and review copies. Not shown: As You Wish which I didn’t get to in January and The Bone Witch which is high on my least of books to read ASAP. 📚 Have you read any of these? What should I pick up first? What are you hoping to read this month? 📚 📚 📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #booklove #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookstack #bookandfunko

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February 1: I didn’t read as much as I’d planned to last month because last month was a wash in all areas. Let’s see if I can turn that around this month!

Februrary 5: Underwhelmed by As You Wish. How many times do you let an author’s books leave you cold before you admit the author isn’t for you?

February 17: Legendary was excellent. I can’t wait to talk to more people about it! I’m feeling behind on my reading for the month (most of my planned to read list is still waiting to be read) because I had a lot of reading I had to do for a committee thing I can’t talk about yet. It was twelve fifty page excerpts which amounts to around 600 pages. Most of which I read over the last two weeks because the deadline snuck up on me. So maybe considering that I should give myself a break!

February 21: Ugh I have so many feelings about Everless. I am so behind on my planned reading for this month and my review writing in general. Ugh.

The Empress: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

*The Empress is the second book in Kincaid’s Diabolic trilogy. This review contains spoilers for book one. Start at the beginning with The Diabolic*

Previously seen as less than a person, Nemesis is now poised to become Tyrus’ wife and rule the Empire at his side. Together they hope to bring massive changes to the Empire by restoring the sciences, sharing information, and lessening the gap between the ruling Grandiloquy and their human Excess subjects.

But it turns out gaining power isn’t the same keeping it. Nemesis and Tyrus have to face outright challenges to Tyrus’ claim to the throne from the Gradiloquy and questions of whether a Diabolic–a creature that was never human–has any right to rule alongside the Emperor.

Nemesis’ old tricks are no longer enough to help or protect Tyrus. Nemesis has to use more than brute force and base cunning. She needs to be more than a Diabolic. Now, she’ll have to be an Empress and prove her humanity. But even Nemesis has to wonder how far she can go–how many terrible deeds she can condone–if she ever truly wants to embrace her humanity in The Empress (2017) by S. J. Kincaid.

The Empress is the second book in Kincaid’s Diabolic trilogy which began with The Diabolic. Originally, The Diabolic sold and was published as a standalone novel before its breakout success prompted the publisher to sign a deal for two more novels about Nemesis and her world.

Kincaid dramatically expands the world of the Empire in the novel as Nemesis and Tyrus move beyond the insular confines of the Chrysanthemum into the far reaches of the galaxy. Along the way readers learn more about the galaxy’s society and religious system. Although this novel remains in Nemesis’s clinical first person narration, the story is carefully blocked to offer a wider view sometimes with Nemesis literally eavesdropping when she isn’t involved in key conversations.

Throughout The Empress Nemesis struggles with her newfound humanity and accompanying conscience as she contemplates how far she is willing to go and how far she should go to protect Tyrus and herself. Nemesis and Tyrus continue to mirror each other but this time around the contrasts and changes are especially heartbreaking as both characters are pushed far beyond their breaking points.

The Empress spends a lot of time asking characters and readers how far they are willing to go to get what they want and, perhaps more tellingly, how far is too far. And what happens when even going too far isn’t enough to save yourself?

By the end of the novel, which of course I won’t spoil here, readers are also left to wonder what can possibly come next. Can there be such a thing as redemption for these characters who seem so determined to watch the world burn? Only time (and book three) will tell.

If The Diabolic was already at eleven, then this book turned the dial up to fifty. It is no exaggeration when I say that my jaw was on the floor for most of the time I was reading. I love this series and have to say that The Empress in particular is easily one of my favorite books that I read this year. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston, Proxy by Alex London, Legend by Marie Lu, The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, Birthmarked by Caragh M.O’Brien, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, And I Darken by Kiersten White

Reign the Earth: A Review

Shalia loves the desert and her place there with her family. But she also knows that her people are desperate for piece and it’s in her power to give them that. Shalia is willing to give up her freedom and leave the desert if it means her family will be safe.

Marrying a stranger and becoming Queen of the Bonelands is a terrifying prospect but no more so than watching more of her family die as the Bonelands try to track down the resistance movement that’s been plaguing them.

Shalia’s hopes of finding love in her arranged marriage are soon dashed when she realizes that her husband, Calix, cares more for power than he ever will for her. Calix is determined to destroy the few remaining Elementae–people who can control mysterious elemental magic–like Shalia’s best friend and, disturbingly, like Shalia herself. 

Struggling to hide her growing powers from Calix and make sense of the dangerous murmurs of rebellion Shalia will soon have to choose decide if she is willing to give up her own future in a bid for peace in Reign the Earth (2018) by A. C. Gaughen.

Reign the Earth is the first book in Gaughen’s Elementae series.

This fast-paced adventure is set in a world where magic has been forced into hiding and dangers lurk everywhere. While Shalia struggles to resign herself to the future she chose for herself she also longs for more as she begins to realize she can no longer live with only the well-being of her family in mind.

A dense beginning filled with clunky world building bog down the start to this otherwise sweeping story. While brown skinned Shalia is a daring and sympathetic heroine, her first person narration is often narrow in focus making the pacing slow and adding misplaced naivete to an otherwise often dark story of magic, abuse, resilience, and strength.

Recommended for fans of high fantasy, fierce heroines, and readers who enjoy novels with an evocative setting.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Roar by Cora Carmack, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano, A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, Furyborn by Claire Legrand, The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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