Week in Review: July 18: Quarantine Week 18: Everything is Still on Fire

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Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

How My Week Went:

Everything is still a mess. The world is burning. And it feels like it’s going to be like that for a while now? I don’t know. I spent this week reorganizing my bookshelves and honestly it still feels like the most productive part of my week. I’m selling a bunch of them on ebay if you’re into that: https://www.ebay.com/sch/missdirect/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

The Lady Rogue: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Lady Rogue by Jenn BennettTheodora wants nothing more than to join her father on his hunts around the world for priceless relics. Unfortunately, her father still sees Theo as a little girl instead of the capable researcher she has become at seventeen years of age.

While Theo sits at their hotel doing crosswords to pass the time, her father is out gallivanting his nineteen-year-old protégé Huck Gallagher–the boy Theo once thought she might love.

After a painful parting and a long separation, no one is more surprised than Theo when Huck shows up in Turkey with nothing but her father’s travel journal and instructions to get Theo to safety.

Theo has other ideas and soon the unlikely duo is combing through the travel journal as Theo tries to follow her father’s trail on his hunt for the legendary and supposedly magical bone ring of Vlad the Impaler. They hope that finding the ring will also lead them to Theo’s missing father. But Theo and Huck aren’t the only ones hunting the ring and Theo’s father may not be the only one in danger in The Lady Rogue (2019) by Jenn Bennett.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Lady Rogue is a standalone historical adventure set in 1937. With high speed chases, fast-pacing, and even some magic this story is an enjoyable homage to all of the things that make action movies like The Mummy (starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz) great.

Theo and Huck are a reluctant team at the start of this story which inspires much banter as well as regrets on both sides as the pair tries to make their way back to each other. Ciphers, puzzles, and excerpts from Richard Fox’s travel journal add to the story as Theo tries to follow Richard’s trail to the bone ring.

The Lady Rogue is a whip-smart adventure with hints of romance and the supernatural. As the book’s dedication suggests, The Lady Rogue is an ideal choice for meddlesome girls and anyone who’s ever been unable to walk away from a good puzzle.

Possible Pairings: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell, Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel, The Mummy (1997)

Author Interview: Samantha Hastings on The Invention of Sophie Carter

Samantha Hastings author photoThe Invention of Sophie Carter is a delightful bit of historical fiction filled with humor, romance, and more than a few shenanigans as identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter spend one summer pretending to be “Sophie” together in order to stay at their aunt’s house for one season that is sure to change everything for both of them and the two young men whose hearts they capture. I’m so happy to have Samantha here today answering a few questions about her excellent sophomore novel.

Miss Print: Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Samantha Hastings: I grew up reading and watching Anne of Green Gables and Little Women and I knew that I wanted to be an author just like Anne or Jo. The path was a lot longer and harder than I anticipated. I gave up several times, but ultimately decided that if it was my dream, I had to keep going. Most published authors are aspiring authors who didn’t give up after multiple (sometimes hundreds of) rejections and kept writing and working on improving their craft.

Miss Print: What was the inspiration for The Invention of Sophie Carter?

Samantha Hastings: I was reading The Fire Wish by Amber Lough, a djinn fantasy book, and I absolutely fell in love with the structure of her book. It was told by two girls, alternating POVs, and had double the romance. The Invention of Sophie Carter doesn’t have any other similarities to that story (although, I highly recommend that you read it) except it also has double the romance and twin swap trouble.

The setting and historical details of my book are a love letter to my undergraduate History degree. At that time, I was obsessed with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Victorian literature. One of my senior level courses focused on John Ruskin (who makes a cameo in the book) and the history of the Victorian era. Including, the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Miss Print: This book is set in England in 1851 during the Great Exhibition. What research went into bringing this era and locale to life? Did you find out anything interesting while researching?

Samantha Hastings: I am lucky enough to live by a University and I was able to use their library to read several books about the Great Exhibition, including one with actual pictures from it! One of the most interesting things that I learned about the Exhibition was that it had the first public toilets. They cost one penny to use.

I was also fascinated by their public food concessions. The organizers didn’t trust the common man with alcohol, so they sold: 432 quarts of milk and 1,092,337 bottles of Schweppes soda water, lemonade, and ginger beer.

The largest diamond in the world was also on display, the Koh-i-noor diamond, but it hadn’t been cut well, so it didn’t sparkle and was a bit of a disappointment to most viewers.

Miss Print: This book focuses on identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter who are both quick to tell people that, although they look alike, they are not at all the same. Are you more like Sophie or Mariah? Was one sister harder or easier to write?

Samantha Hastings: When I was younger, I was more like Sophie. Brash, brave, and outspoken. Now that I’m approaching forty (#gasp), I find that I have more similarities with Mariah who is devoted to reading, music, and relationships.

Both sisters were easy to write because they were so different. Also, I have two sisters and therefore, plenty of sisterly experience.

Miss Print: Do you have a favorite scene or a scene you are excited for readers to discover?

Samantha Hastings: The one with the hiccups! That’s really all I can say, but you can’t miss it. I hope it makes you giggle.

[Miss Print: I loved this scene too!]

Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about your next project?

Samantha Hastings: Yes! A Royal Christmas Quandary will be available on October 6, 2020. It’s set at Windsor Castle in 1860. Drina must help her best friend, Princess Alice, pick the perfect prince to marry. The only snag? Her other best friend, Lord George Worthington, has lost one of the suitors. It’s lighthearted, full of holiday fun, and sweet romance.

Miss Print: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

Samantha Hastings: Read as much as you can in the genre you write in. Then you’ll know the market and have current books to compare your manuscript to when you query.

Thanks for the interview! Curtsy, Samantha.

Thanks again to Samantha for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can find out more about Samantha and her books on her website.

You can also read my review of The Invention of Sophie Carter here on the blog.

The Invention of Sophie Carter: A Review

“None of us are the same, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. Our comparisons are invariably false when we compare their strengths to our weaknesses.”

The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha HastingsEngland, 1851: Orphaned and grudgingly cared for by their reluctant guardian, identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter don’t think they need anyone else when they have each other.

What the sisters need, desperately, is a chance at lives filled with more than the drudgery they’ve known for the last ten years. Sophie dreams of using her clockmaking skills to become a renowned inventor while, with the right instruction, Mariah’s artistic talents could make her a leading painter.

Sophie’s plan to get them both to London for the summer to see the Queen’s Great Exhibition (for Sophie) and London’s finest art (for Mariah) almost works. The problem? Their aunt will only accommodate one sister. To avoid separation the girls travel to London together agreeing to take turns being “Sophie.”

At first, the plan is simple enough since no one can tell the twins apart. But as Sophie forges an unlikely friendship with businessman Ethan and Mariah warms to their aunt’s prickly ward Charles both girls will have to contend with their own feelings and ambitions as well as the two young men who each think they’re falling in love with the real Sophie in The Invention of Sophie Carter (2020) by Samantha Hastings.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Invention of Sophie Carter is Hastings’ second novel. Chapters alternate between close third person following each sister during their adventures around London and in their aunt’s house.

Breezy narration, a pitch perfect historical setting, and just the right amount of romance make this story a delight. Themes of sisterhood and individuality elevate this romance adding dimension to both sisters as their horizons expand with the opportunities they are able to seize in London. Ethan and Charles are also excellent foils to both sisters.

The Invention of Sophie Carter is a delightful read and just what I needed right now. Readers are sure to be as smitten with the Carter sisters as their suitors are by the end of this utterly charming novel. Highly recommended.

You can also check out my interview with Samantha about the book here on the blog!

Possible Pairings: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Antsey, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer, A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

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

Week in Review: July 11: Quarantine Week 17: In Which I Make Progress on my To Do List

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Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

How My Week Went:

I think I finally have what feels like “enough” masks and gloves. Which is good I guess. I am still working remotely and it’s still very one day at a time. I am restless, like everyone, but know staying home is still the best course of action. This week I got a lot done “at” work, did a lot of mending I’d been putting off, and I have made a significant dent in blog reviews. I even started scheduling interviews again!

The Voting Booth: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Voting Booth by Brandy ColbertMarva Sheridan has been preparing for this day for years. She has campaigned, phone banked, and helped register voters. Now she’s ready to vote in her first election because she knows it’s the best way to make a difference.

Duke Crenshaw is over the election even before he gets to his polling site. His family has always been politically minded thanks to his big brother, Julian. But it hasn’t been the same since Julian’s death. Now all Duke wants to do is get voting over with and focus on his band’s first ever paid gig that night.

Except when Duke gets to the polling place, he can’t vote.

Marva isn’t about to let anyone get turned away from the polling place–not even a stranger. So she volunteers to do everything she can to make sure Duke gets his vote in.

What starts as a mission to get one vote counted quickly turns into a whirlwind day filled with drives across the city, waiting in lines, hunting for one Instagram famous cat, grassroots organizing, and maybe even some romance in The Voting Booth (2020) by Brandy Colbert.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Voting Booth is Colbert’s best book yet and my personal favorite. Set over the course of one hectic election day, the novel follows Marva and Duke along with flashbacks expanding key details of their lives throughout the novel.

Colbert pulls no punches as her characters confront with voter suppression and racism. Both of them also try to deal with how best to “explain their Blackness” as Marva examines her relationship with her white boyfriend and Duke navigates being biracial while living with his white mother.

The story is tense and authentic but it’s also gentle and often extremely funny. Although Duke’s life especially has been touched by tragedy before the start of the novel, you know the characters are going to be okay. Marva and Duke carry the story but they have a lot of help from excellent secondary characters notably including Duke’s younger sister Ida and Marva’s parents.

The Voting Booth is a hopeful, zany, romantic comedy complete with an Internet famous cat but also an empowering story about politics and pushing back against injustice. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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

Magic for Liars: A Review

Magic For Liars by Sarah GaileyIvy has never been magic. She has gotten used to the bitter ordinariness–especially whenever she is compared to her identical twin sister Tabitha, a magic prodigy.

Ivy never wanted to be magic, really. But she still wonders if it wouldn’t have made some things easier. Tabitha is able to get rid or freckles that plague both of them, her eyes always sparkle a bit more, and everything seems to come much more easily for her. People never stick to Ivy and she wonders sometimes if she had been magic if that might have been different.

Ivy knows exactly who she is: the half-feral detective with the perpetual hangover, covered in ink and smudges, devoid of magic. She knows that isn’t an Ivy anyone would want.

When she is hired to investigate a grisly murder at the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages where Tabitha teaches Theoretical Magic, Ivy thinks it could be her chance to make good as an investigator. It might be her chance to be a different Ivy and, if she does things right, it could change everything.

But being around so much magic and so many what-ifs is intoxicating. As questions arise and the suspect list grows, Ivy will have to keep her head clear if she wants to get to the truth in Magic for Liars (2019) by Sarah Gailey.

Find it on Bookshop.

Magic for Liars is a standalone fantasy noir mashup complete with a flawed detective as the protagonist.

Ivy has spent most of her life lonely and starved for attention. Being in her head is hard, but it’s supposed to be as her inner turmoil plays out against the larger backdrop of the murder investigation.

Magic for Liars is a mystery wrapped around a sometimes painful examination of the stories we tell ourselves in an effort to make the world see us the way we wish it would. A tightly paced, largely flawless mystery that delivers on every front. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, Storm Front by Jim Butcher, The Secret Place by Tana French, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley,, Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Week in Review: July 4: Quarantine Week 16: In Which I Continue to Work Remotely

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Blog Posts of The Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Instagram Post of the Week:

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Did you ever want to run away to the circus? 🎪 I did not but I do love reading about circuses (but not carnivals or freak shows, get out of here with your Geek Love recommendations). 🎪 I’m doing a presentation on Instagram for work this afternoon so be sure to leave a like and a comment to help me look good! 🎪 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #lovereading #booklife #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #reading #bibliophile #instabook #bookworm #bookgram #reader #booktography #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #booksofinstagram #booklove #bookstagramit #bookish #librariansofinstagram #bookblog #allthebooks #bookphotography #unitedbookstagram #goodreads #erinmorgenstern #thenightcircus

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How My Week Went:

A lot of my work friends are back at work this week. My library is still a hard hat area so I continue to work from home. I am starting to feel quite burnt out but also guilty for being burnt out while working from home. My long suffering mother who has to sit in silence during all of my work meetings is having second-hand remote work burnout. But I did get to give a presentation at work about all things bookstagram and instagram stories which was actually a lot of fun.

How are you doing? Are you still at home? Are you back at work? Do you have enough masks?

Girl, Serpent, Thorn: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa BashardoustSoraya knows all about stories. She knows about princesses and monsters. Most of all, she knows which role she plays in her own story.

She is a princess, yes. But the princesses in stories don’t have to be hidden away as a secret. The princesses in stories are not cursed with a poisonous touch.

Soraya has always known she is dangerous both in truth because of the poison running in her veins but also as an idea. How can anyone trust her twin brother to rule as the shah of Atashar if they find out about Soraya and what she can do?

When her search for answers and a way to break the curse lead Soraya to a guard who claims he can see her for more than her poison and a prisoner in the dungeons who may have the answers Soraya needs, she will have to decide if she will be a princess or a monster in Girl, Serpent, Thorn (2020) by Melissa Bashardoust.

Find it on BookShop.

Bashardoust’s sophomore novel is steeped in Persian culture and folklore drawing inspiration from “The Shahnameh” as well as traditional European fairy tales and Zoroastrianism.

At the start of Girl, Serpent, Thorn Soraya’s world is claustrophobic. She has spent years in isolation and is starved for affection and human contact–things that she fears are impossible for her to ever receive because of her curse.

Soraya’s desperation to break her curse lead her to difficult choices that threaten both herself and her family’s legacy. Although these twists are heavily broadcast the emotional resonance is strong as Soraya deals with the consequences of her actions and strives to do better both for herself and those she cares about.

The book’s love triangle often feels suspect as all characters involved lie and manipulate to get what they want. This dynamic does little to diminish the chemistry between Soraya and Parvaneh and further underscores the hard won respect and trust that becomes a foundation of their relationship.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is an evocative, tantalizing tale. Recommended for anyone who has ever wondered what really separates a hero (or a princess) from a monster.

Possible Pairings: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski, The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

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

June 2020 Reading Tracker

Books I Read:

  1. This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand (kindle)
  2. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  3. Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
  4. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (re-read)
  5. Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillam Cottom (kindle)
  6. As You Like It by William Shakespeare (audio)
  7. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (kindle)
  8. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (reread)
  9. The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (kindle)
  10. The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings
  11. Bunbun and Bonbon by Jess Keating
  12. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (audio)
  13. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (audio) (reread)
  14. Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire (kindle)

Books I Had Planned to Read:

Books Bought:

  1. In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen
  2. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  3. No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett
  4. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

ARCs Received: 0!

You can also see what I read in May.