“Bad” Romance: In Defense of Love Triangles and Insta-Love (ContempConvos)

wo incredibly common and much-maligned conceits in YA are love triangles and insta-love.

One of my favorite quotes about romance in YA comes from author Ally Carter:

“Being a teen isn’t about figuring out who you should be with. It’s about figuring out who you should BE.”

Love triangles and insta-love can both be big parts of that search for identity.

Teens have parents telling them where to go, teachers prescribing what they read or write in school, and demands coming from tons of other places as they get ready to face “real” life in college and beyond. It is very rare for a teen to be in a position where they can truly make a choice (much less one that involves saying “no”) entirely on their own. One way to show teens in that power position–taking ownership of their life in a very literal sense–is with a love triangle.

Teenagers are fickle creatures. They have years and years ahead of them to settle down. Why not have a book with multiple love interests? Why not let them explore their options with two or even more love interests?

As for insta-love, well, isn’t that just shorthand for love at first sight?

There are a lot of instances where both of these things can be handled badly. There is the potential for a forced relationship or one with insufficient stakes. Underdeveloped characters or thin plots can be especially disastrous for love triangles or insta-love as making either trope seem contrived or as if it came without the proper foundation.

But as with any literary device if a love triangle or insta-love is handled well it doesn’t detract from a story. Instead, it can complicate and depth to an already rich story or even a new facet to a character’s personality.

Now that I’ve told you why I’m all for love triangles and insta-love (done well) here are some recommended books (click the titles to read my reviews):

Love Triangles:

  1. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  2. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  3. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  4. The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
  5. Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Insta-Love:

  1. The Jewel by Amy Ewing
  2. Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
  3. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  4. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
  5. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

This post originally appeared at The Talking Bookworm in 2016 as part of Veronica’s Contemporary Conversations series. 

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.

ARC Adoption Program Updates

You may have noticed that my ARC Adoption page was quiet.

It’s back now and updated with streamline due dates, and open to anyone with a platform where they can share long form reviews.

Details, requirements, and available titles can be found here: https://missprint.wordpress.com/adopt/

Week in Review: March 6: In which

missprintweekreview

Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

https://twitter.com/miss_print/status/1367263365060587520

Instagram Post of the Week:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CL2BOWig68V/

How My Week Went:

Lots of errand-y things this week that were hard but it’s such a relief to have them done. Trying to be gentle with myself and not take on too much. You should too.

Chick Lit Wednesday Will Be Back Next Week

I’m still playing catch up after my week off so regularly scheduled reviews will resume next week!

We need to talk about J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter, and why it’s time to say goodbye to both

J. K. Rowling, best known as the author of the popular Harry Potter books, is a Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (abbreviated to TERF). This isn’t the first time she’s been problematic and likely won’t be the last, but it is the one that has seen her escalating the most.

You can read more about the TERF rise in Katelyn Burns’ article on Vox. In it she describes TERF groups thus: “They alternate among several theories that all claim that trans women are really men, who are the ultimate oppressors of women. […] Above all else, their ideology doesn’t allow for trans people to have self-definition or any autonomy over their gender expression.”

Rowling also writes adult mysteries under the pen name Robert Galbraith–a pen name that is coincidentally shared by the man who helped create conversion therapy in the 1950s. Transphobia has shown up in Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series before. It goes even further in the latest book where Rowling/Galbraith frames the entire case around a male killer who dresses as a woman to kill his victims. Rowling doubling down in this way has led to a lot of justified backlash on Twitter as fans continue to try to reconcile these hateful ideas coming from the author of a beloved series.

Before going further, we have to all be very clear on something: Trans women are women. Trans men are men. This is not negotiable. It is not a multi-sided issue. Arguing anything else is hurtful, harmful, and unacceptable.

At a certain point it is no longer possible to separate a creative work from its creator. When a creator actively uses their platform and reach to make the world a worse place, we have to say enough is enough. There has to be a line after which point we cut ties with both the creator and the creative work from which the creator is benefiting while hurting people.

Which is why it’s time to stop supporting J. K. Rowling. It’s time to stop supporting Robert Galbraith. It’s time to say goodbye to Harry Potter.

I know this is hard ask for people who consider Harry Potter a formative series, but it’s time to let it go. I’m coming from a place of privilege here as I have already moved past the series and never considered Hogwarts my home, but if you want to support trans people and trans rights, you cannot continue supporting an author who does not.

Here’s everything I’m doing as a reader, an influencer/content creator, and a librarian to do just that (including some steps you can take yourself):

As a Reader:

Few things are as intrinsically tied to pop culture and the zeitgeist now in the way Harry Potter is, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find alternatives and decide collectively to use them instead. No more asking about Hogwarts houses, no more guessing a person’s patronus.

  • I will no longer read or buy any book Rowling puts out under any pen name.
  • I will not watch anything Rowling has been involved with including adaptations of her books under any pen name.
  • I will not engage with any Harry Potter related media including licensed online sites, games, or stories.
  • I will not buy licensed merchandise. (Many independent sellers are reckoning with this themselves as they decide if they will fill the hole in the fandom by selling unlicensed merch that will not line Rowling’s pockets.)

As an Influencer/Content Creator:

Blogs and social media are interesting things because they are living documents. In the past I have, like so many others, read and recommended Harry Potter. I will not be doing that moving forward.

  • I will not include Harry Potter merchandise in my photo posts.
  • I will not cite any of Rowling’s books as read-a-likes.
  • While I support and respect the fandom trying to come to terms with this turn of events, I will no longer participate in it on any level.

As a Librarian:

It’s important to remember that librarians provide access to information, they do not gatekeep or restrict access to information. It would be unethical and against everything libraries stand for to restrict access to any of Rowling’s books. But that does not mean I have to give them extra space in my work as a librarian–something that Rowling has never needed given the meteoric popularity of her books and something she decidedly no longer deserves.

  • I will, like all librarians, keep Rowling’s books on shelves for patrons who need or want them. I will make sure copies are in good, readable condition.
  • I will not actively recommend any of her books to patrons who ask me for reading suggestions.
  • I will not include any of Rowling’s books in book displays or book lists I create.
  • I will not cite her books as read-a-likes for anything instead giving space to other titles.
  • I will not participate in any programming tied to or related to J. K. Rowling or Harry Potter.

The Book Blogosphere, Book Twitter, Bookstagram, and library communities are all filled with so many passionate, creative people. I urge all of you to channel that creativity elsewhere. It’s time to say goodbye to Hogwarts and let Harry celebrate his birthday alone while we, as a community, embrace other creators than J. K. Rowling. Ones who are so much more deserving of our love now and creators who continue to deserve our support and respect so much more.

Everything I Bought (and Changed) To Make Working From Home Work For Me

Like a lot of people, I started working from home in mid-March when shelter-in-place orders went into effect to try and curb the spread of the global pandemic. As of this writing, I am still working from home and, several months in, I finally have a set up that works for me.

Here’s everything I bought* and changed in my home set up to create a work from home space:

Desk Accessories:

  • Desk: You probably already have a desk or table that you use for work. I use a white melamine table my mom has had forever. It’s a little higher than a desk but I like having a big surface where I can do computer stuff or other things when I’m not working. If you have the space, I’d definitely try to set up a specific table space for work. It helps separate it from all the other time you spend at home and will often be more comfortable than trying to work with everything on your couch or bed.
  • Desk Chair: If you are working for any length of time on a computer, you need a desk chair. It should have a back that you can lean against for support, arms, adjustable height, and if it’s on wheels all the better for easy movement. There are a lot of options but back support is key.
  • Paperwork holder: I use a wooden one I appropriated from my mom but I like having a place to keep papers I need to act on like correspondence, book review letters from publishers, and the few bills I still get on paper. It’s a small thing but having one I like has been such an improvement.
  • Pens: I like having different colored pens that almost look like markers. I try to use a different color for each set of notes so it’s easy to flip through. Le Pen brand are my favorite because they are thin, capped (I am a pen clicker), and don’t bleed through most paper. If you are looking for a slightly cheaper option, my second favorite are Paper Mate InkJoy gel pens.
  • Notebooks: I’m not a big notebook user for work although I have a lot for my creative writing. When I realized I’d be working from home for a while, I decided to resurrect my traveler’s notebook to set it up with all the work info I needed at home so that whenever I go back to work it could travel easily to and from my office. If you want to know more about traveler’s notebooks, this post from Hannah at So Obsessed is still the best guide I’ve ever found. I like Webster’s brand because they are vegan and feed into my floral aesthetic. You can see more of my own planner essentials in this Amazon idea list.
  • Pencil holder: One of my hobbies is sending postcards to friends (and for Postcards to Voters) so I have more pens than I need. To make my desk feel morel like my space, I keep them in containers that make me happy like this owl pencil holder I built. (Model making and 3D puzzles are a new hobby I picked up in quarantine.)
  • Book boxes: My mom and I have a ton of these. They come in standard sizes and the medium one here is the perfect size to hold my external CD drive, hard drive, charging cables, and more so that I have easy access.

Laptop and Peripherals:

  •  Laptop: I have a 13″ MacBook Air and I love it. Mine is from early 2015 and thanks to OS updates, it’s still going strong and has been a lifesaver as I spend so much more time using my home computer now. I was very relieved to have a computer at home when this started that I knew I could rely along with home internet.
  • Floral laptop shell: Depending on your investment, your laptop is probably one of the most expensive things you own. Because of that I decided to get a shell case to protect mine. This one having a cute floral design is a bonus and makes a statement on my desk even when it’s closed.
  • Apple Magic Mouse: This is Mac specific but my Magic Mouse is one of my best investments. It is a lot easier than navigating a track pad, especially if I need to do light photo editing, it connects automatically to my computer, and the rechargeable batteries are easy to use.
  • Floral mouse pad: You don’t technically need a mouse pad but it makes mouse movements quieter and a little smoother. Plus, if you can buy a cute one in a design you like, why not? There are a lot of cheap options out there depending on your preferences.
  • Laptop stand: After a few days of working from home, my back and wrists were starting to feel it. I tried propping the computer on a book or a box and all sort of things but nothing felt right. So I started reading up on ergonomics and realized I probably needed a laptop stand to get my screen at a better angle. My friend Estelle recommended this one. I like that it has a few settings, folds up for storage, and has rubber grips to stay in place. It also lets me adjust my screen for optimal angles in video calls without needing anything else.
  • External keyboard: Like the laptop stand, this external keyboard helps me hit a better ergonomic position when I’m typing for longer periods. I got mine in aluminum silver with white keys. It was ready to go out of the box, and is holding up great. The keys are louder than I was used to from my laptop but not dramatically so. There’s a power indicator light which is very bright so I covered it with a sticker. Otherwise, no complaints and since I don’t travel with it, I like being able to plug it in to use–no charging needed.

Miscellaneous Extras:

  • Phone Tripod: I haven’t used this a lot but knew if I was going to be home more, that it would be good to have a tripod for filming myself with my phone. I like that this one has a big height range without a lot of frills I won’t use.
  • Wireless headphones: I already had wireless headphones for my phone but reconnecting them between my phone and laptop was a pain so I got a second pair to use solely with my laptop. It’s been a great investment. This set has some noise cancellation, a built in mic, and don’t hurt my ears.
  • Selfie ring: My friend got me one of these for Christmas–it’s been really helpful on days when I need better lighting during meetings. It also clips onto my laptop as easily as my phone.
  • Fitbit Inspire: I discovered pretty early on that I need a routine even in quarantine. I also need an alarm to wake up most days. My mom doesn’t need either of those things so I started researching devices with silent alarms and this Fitbit seemed like the best bet. It tracks my steps and exercise but I mostly just use it to have an alarm that won’t drive my mom nuts. In fact, I care so little about the other features that I wear it on my ankle with one of these bands.
  • Plants: I have a lot of house plants but I got myself an aloe plant in a pretty ceramic planter and some marimo moss balls from Oh My Planta on Etsy so I had some green stuff to look at on my desk which always improves my mood.
  • Pichu Funko: In my photo up top you can see my little Pichu figurine. This was a gift from my friend Nicole and has been making me very happy to see on my desk every day.

As you can see, this setup is great for video meetings. It’s also made daily work stuff easier and even improved my blog writing options since I can stay at my desk longer.

Now you know everything I did to make my work from home set up work for me. Have you made any changes to your own work from home set up?

*All links direct to Amazon. I’m an Amazon affiliate and will receive a small commission if you purchase through these links.

Here’s What Happened When I Reorganized My Bookshelves According to My Own Advice

How are you managing with quarantine and the pandemic? If you are able, I hope you’re still staying home and that you are staying safe. One thing I’ve noticed about being home so much more, is that I have more time for home improvement projects–including the subject of today’s post: reorganizing my books.

If you read Apartment Therapy, you may have seen a post on their website about book organization tips from a librarian. Surprise! I’m the librarian they talked to.

I’ve talked before (here) about my devotion to Marie Kondo and the KonMari method but, because of space constraints I do have to periodically re-tidy my books so I took advantage of quarantine to do a comprehensive sweep of my bookshelves. Here’s how that went.

First things first: I have a to small folding bookcase (similar to this one on Amazon) where I keep books to read. I unimaginatively call this my to read bookcase and it holds books I receive for review or as gifts, books I bought myself, and anything else I want to read.

After reading Joy at Work and thinking about what I needed in a work from home space (I’ll be talking more about this in another post) and realized I could consolidate the books into two shelves and use the top for desk accessories which has vastly improved my entire desk setup.

Here’s a picture with the books:

The right stack on the middle shelf is ARCs/titles for review and the left is more general books to read. The bottom shelf are books I’ve bought/grabbed from work giveaways/received as gifts. I have been making a lot of progress reading through these although you can’t necessarily tell from here. Please, also enjoy my assortment of owls.

Once this was under control. It was time to turn to my read bookshelves in my bedroom. These are a challenge in general because they’re awkward to get to and none of them are actual bookcases so the shelf heights and depths are a little weird.

Here’s what I was starting with:

As you can see these shelves were pretty packed. I’m a fan of vertical book storage but it was getting hard to keep my stacks together and I realized I wasn’t maximizing space. Plus, some of the shelves were too tight to properly take out books. Changes had to be made.

So I did what Marie Kondo advises and put all my books on the floor. Then I picked every book up and asked if it sparked joy. A couple hours later I had 30 some odd books to giveaway and the rest to return to my shelves.

I call my shelving strategy vibrational shelving. What that means is I group like with like (author, genre, etc.) but I don’t necessarily alphabetize or organize beyond that.

Here’s what my cleaned up shelves look like:

The big wins here were I eliminated an entire shelf on the skinny unit and have room to grow on these floating shelves. My brag items (special editions and multiple editions) have room to breathe and are showcased all together instead of piecemeal.

It’s still a work in progress because my work, my hobbies, and my personality mean that I am always acquiring more books but I feel good about having this as my framework for what to keep and what to pass on moving forward.

Now that you’ve seen how I organize my shelves, tell me about how you organize yours (or tell me what you think of my strategies) in the comments.

Blog 13th Birthday (and obligatory giveaways)

I started blogging at Miss Print thirteen years ago.

It’s really wild to think about everything that’s changed since then and how much of it relates to that one decision to become a book blogger. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities and people I’ve found through blogging.

To celebrate, I’m hosting two giveaways:

ARC Adoption is Back


You may have noticed that my ARC adoption was quiet for a few months. That was because of the global pandemic and the shelter in place orders that were in effect. I am cautiously bringing the program back while I see how mailing goes.

Titles will still have deadlines listed for posting reviews and I am still asking participating bloggers to cover shipping.

Details, requirements, and available titles can be found on the arc adoption page: https://missprint.wordpress.com/adopt/