Shuffle, Repeat: A Review

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen KleinJune knows with every fiber of her being that high school doesn’t matter. The friends she makes, the traditions, the classes–none of it matters in the long run. At the start of her senior year of high school, June already has her eye on starting college when her real life can begin.

Oliver loves high school. He revels in the rituals like prom and sports, the traditions like senior pranks. Oliver plans to make the most of his high school experience and be able to look back on every moment fondly when he gets older.

June and Oliver have known each other for years, an annoying side effect of their mothers being best friends. But they don’t get to know each other until the start of their senior year when their mothers arrange for Oliver to drive June to school. Every day.

Awkwardly quiet drives slowly begin to shift to heated debates about music, musings about life, and more. As they get to know each other, both June and Oliver will have to decide if young love has a place in a world where high school doesn’t much matter. Unless maybe it does . . . in Shuffle, Repeat (2016) by Jen Klein.

In this standalone contemporary, Klein throws together complete opposites and explores what might happen next. Despite much of this story taking place during car rides, Shuffle, Repeat has a strong sense of place with evocative descriptions of June and Oliver’s quaint town.

June and Oliver are both white but the book is filled with a varied cast of misfits among their unique groups of friends. June’s best friend–a gay boy with Indian family–gets an especially heartwarming side story throughout the novel.

Philosophical discussions about what matters in life contrast well with vocal discussions of music and classic high school moments (the book begins with June nervously making her way to prom and then backtracks to the start of the school year).

June is an often abrasive first-person narrator. She is not afraid to state her opinions and she is stubborn when those convictions are challenged. She jumps to conclusions and is, frankly, judgemental when it comes to her preconceived notions about Oliver.

But Shuffle, Repeat isn’t about June being right all the time. Instead, through her relationship with Oliver and generally moving through the school year, June begins to realize she might have been wrong about a lot of things.

Shuffle, Repeat is a smart story with a fun romance. Snappy dialogue, an honest-to-a-fault narrator, and plenty of senior year shenanigans make this a great summer read. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: Never, Always, Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, P. S. I Like You by Kasie West

Week in Review: July 10

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

This week in review is going up late because I spent the weekend moving heavy furniture and panel-ing at Blogbound. Safe to say that Blogbound was a big hit and I’m still super honored to have been a part of it.

Taking a break from art photos to say I'm ready for #blogboundcon. Who's with me?

A photo posted by Emma (@missprint_) on

This week I read The Kiss of Deception and The Sky is Everywhere. Neither was exactly what I read but I am excited to have read these two popular titles finally.

I also got super fancy gelato with Nicole this weekend:

And I’m sporadically sharing pictures from the Court and Cosmos exhibit at the Met Museum too:

I also have a few ARCs up for adoption if you’re into that.

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my July Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman #1): A Graphic Novel Review

Preludes & Nocturnes (Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III

Sandman 1: Preludes & NocturnesThe Sandman series doesn’t need much introduction at this point. Dream and his journey have become an iconic and canonical piece of comics history.

I came to this book after hearing about it from friends and having it recommended very by one of my favorite security officers at my place of employ. Preludes & Nocturnes is a bind up of the first eight issues of The Sandman. It’s also worth noting that it was published before Vertigo existed as an imprint and as a result things get a little weird.

Everyone I knew who had read Preludes & Nocturnes told me to be kind and give the series at least until the end of this volume. Truth be told, it’s a rough start to the series. Part of this is because the comic text is very small and the pages are very glossy. It’s also just a really strange story.

After being imprisoned for decades, Dream breaks out of his cell and goes on a quest to find his missing tools and reclaim his kingdom. This brings him to Hell where he negotiates with Lucifer Morningstar, to England where he works with John Constantine, and even to Gotham and the Justice League.

Preludes & Nocturnes makes a lot more sense after reading the author’s note from Gaiman at the end explaining his vision for each comic. It’s also clearer in the final volume when Dream and his sister, Death, spend some time together that there is a set direction for the rest of the series.

There’s no way around the fact that Preludes & Nocturnes is a rough start to the series. It’s strange and uneven and all over the place with tone and characters. But Dream is a fascinating character and the final story in this issue is enough to suggest that something really interesting is in store for dedicated readers. Comics readers and fantasy fans who have not read this series already should definitely check it out. (But I’ll give you the advice everyone gave me: Make sure you commit to at least the end of this book before you make any decisions about how much of the series you’ll be reading!)

Tell Me Three Things: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Over email and text, though, I am given those few additional beats I need to be the better, edited version of myself.”

Tell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumJessie doesn’t want to live in California. She doesn’t want a new stepmother when her mother’s death two years earlier is still painfully fresh. She can definitely do without her snobby new stepbrother. She hates leaving her best friend behind in Chicago and wishes her dad would try to understand why she’s so upset.

Her new super fancy prep school in Los Angeles is filled with pretentious students, confusion, and very few potential friends. When she receives an email from someone, Somebody/Nobody to be more specific, offering to help her make sense of her perplexing new life Jessie isn’t sure what to think. Is his offer a genuine chance to get some help? Could it be an elaborate prank?

The potential of a new friend and some much-needed information win out. The more Jessie and SN email and text, the more she wants to meet him in person. But as she gets closer to discovering SN’s identity, Jessie also wonders if some mysteries should remain unsolved in Tell Me Three Things (2016) by Julie Buxbaum.

Jessie feels like a stranger in a very strange land when she is thrust into a higher income bracket at her predominantly white private school. This relative privilege is addressed and handled well over the course of the novel while Jessie tries to reconcile her middle class sensibilities with the new luxuries she is starting to enjoy. Jessie’s online friendship with SN and her real life struggles to befriend her classmates serve as another contrast in this story where perception can change everything.

This novel also ruminates on the nature of grief and moving on as Jessie struggles to hold onto memories of her mother while watching her father start a shiny new life. The awkward and often frustrating dynamics of becoming a (reluctantly) blended family add depth to this already absorbing story.

Tell Me Three Things is filled with humor and wit as a sweet romance unfolds. Jessie’s narration features a singular voice with a unique perspective on her surroundings and her new classmates. She is self-aware enough to acknowledge her shortcomings in struggling to reconcile herself to her new step-family and home while also harboring a healthy dose of naiveté about other aspects of her life.

Buxbaum breathes new life into a familiar premise in Tell Me Three Things. Readers may be quicker to guess SN’s identity than Jessie but that journey, like the rest of Jessie’s story, is all the more satisfying for the serendipity and potential near-misses along the way. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre, The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, In Real Life by Jessica Love, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

This Savage Song: A Review

“Nobody gets to stay the same.”

This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabNo one knows what happened in Verity to make monsters appear in the wake of violent acts. The only certainty is that two factions struggle to maintain order in a city where safety has become an illusion.

The Corsai who prey in shadows, and the Malchai with their eerie red eyes and pale skin, listen to Harker and spare those who can afford to pay for his protection. Kate Harker wants to mold herself in her father’s image. After years of training herself to emulate her father and hide her weaknesses (like her deaf ear and the nightmares that sometimes still haunt her), Kate finally feels ready to meet her father on his own terms. She is prepared to be as ruthless as he is and prove that she can one day take on his mantle leading Verity’s monsters.

Flynn, meanwhile, tries to bring together those who can’t afford Harker’s brand of safety and believe that working with monsters can only end one way. Flynn’s secret weapons against Harker are Verity’s Sunai–rare and powerful monsters born from the most horrific acts of violence who feed on sinners to keep themselves alive. If it wasn’t for their coal black eyes, you’d almost think the Sunai are human.

August Flynn desperately wants to be human like his adopted parents, the Flynns. He dreams of being able to play his violin without fear, without feeding. He starves himself, trying to push himself past hunger and beyond his own monstrous Sunai tendencies. He hopes that by helping protect the innocent he can become more human than monster. August jumps at the chance to help his father’s cause by spying on Kate and figuring out what Harker is up to as the city’s uneasy truce threatens to break.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are on opposite sides in a city on the verge of war. When everything in Verity begins to go wrong, they are also the only ones who can keep each other alive in This Savage Song (2016) by Victoria Schwab.

This Savage Song is the first book in Schwab’s new YA series, Monsters of Verity. The book alternates third person close POV between Kate and August throughout.

Schwab presents a world that is eerily plausible in This Savage Song. Some aspects of this world are more developed than others but the key pieces to the story are completely realized. Being the first book in a new series also leaves room for further development in future installments.

Verity is one of several supercities across what was once the United States–a country that disbanded after unrest over the Vietnam War. The supercities were born in the wake of this upheaval and order was restored. Until a few years before the start of the novel when violent crimes began to leave echoes in the form of monsters. Six years ago Harker and Flynn called a truce but with promises broken and more monsters being born, the balance of power may be tipping as the novel starts.

Kate and August are opposites in every sense of the word (although both are described as fair and pale, respectively). Kate is cold and calculating. She struggles to suppress any traits that might be conceived as weaknesses by others–especially her father. August, meanwhile, is desperate to be warm and, well, human. Anything to prove he isn’t entirely a monster and still has some humanity left to save. Throughout the story Kate and August serve as counterpoints and foils for each other with each representing, in various ways, something the other can never hope to achieve.

This Savage Song is a fast-paced urban fantasy that still manages to deliver subtle character studies of monstrous humans and humane monsters. A larger conspiracy unfolding throughout the story adds a bit of mystery to an already taut plot and lays groundwork for events to come in later books.

This Savage Song is a thoughtful and nuanced story about light and dark, about resisting change and accepting it, as well as the fragile nature of what makes us human … or not. In a world filled with monsters, it turns out that there are no easy answers about right and wrong. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, Legend by Marie Lu, Fracture by Megan Miranda, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Vicious by V. E. Schwab, And I Darken by Kiersten White, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

*An advance copy of this title was acquired from the publisher at ALAMW 2016 (thanks to Nicole!)*

Owlcrate Review: June 2016 Royalty Box

After May’s Owlcrate was such a success, I decided to buy myself the June box (and may also be getting the July box before I cancel my subscription).

Since it was so much fun reviewing the May Steampunk box, I decided it would be fun to review the June box too.

Here are the contents of the box after I artfully staged everything:

juneowlcrateHere’s a rundown of what was in the box:

  • My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows: This book sounds ridiculously silly but also seems to be some fun alternate history. I haven’t read anything by these authors except for Unearthly by Cynthia Hand so I’m excited to try it. Along with the book there was a letter from the authors and a paper crown.
  • Lunar Chronicles Bracelet from Rich Love Shoppe: And here it is on Instagram as my most liked photo: This cuff bracelet reads “Even in the future the story begins with once upon a time” with some really lovely typography under a dome. I like the cuff style and the silver finish (and it doesn’t turn me green). Although I’m not a huge Lunar Chronicles fan, I do love fairy tales so this piece is still right up my alley. I’ve already worn it once and can see it becoming a regular piece in my rotation.
  • Red Queen print from Evie Bookish: The print reads “Words can lie. See beyond them.” Again, not a huge fan of Red Queen but I like the artwork and could see myself framing this to hang near my desk.
  • Royal bookmarks from CraftedVan: I previously bough a jumbo Boston Terrier bookmark from CraftedVan (because of course I did) so I knew what to expect from them. This set is exclusive to Owlcrate but they have a lot of other fun sets for sale online. I like the purple tinge to the king, queen and carriage bookmarks. I recently bought a set of Sailor Moon bookmarks from Happy Hello which are a bit more my speed but it’s always good to have more bookmarks to use and share.
  • Disney Princesses Mystery Minis Blind Box Figurine: I do not buy myself Funko figures or the like but I end up with a lot through gifts and things like this (and an ongoing exchange of mystery box toys with Nicole). I got Elsa from this box who was already gracing my desk at work so now I have a double to share with Nicole.

I think, for me, that this box was not the best value but I am really happy with the book and the cuff bracelet so I’m going to call it a win.

Here’s everything again on Instagram because this is currently my “most liked” photo.

Week in Review: July 3

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

This week went by rather slowly and felt rather long. Which maybe explains the high number of posts (it doesn’t really but whatever). Work is gearing up for summer. I’m planning for a big fall training. I tweaked my ankle and I’m trying with varying results to baby it.

And of course gearing up for Blogbound. Will I see you there?

This week I read And I Darken by Kiersten White which was absolutely bananas. Alternate history/sort of fantasy imagining Vlad the Impaler as . . . *drumroll* . . . a girl.

Next up is the first book everyone voted I should read in July: The Kiss of Deception.

I also have a few ARCs up for adoption if you’re into that.

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my July Reading Tracker.

How was your week?