Iron Cast: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Iron Cast by Destiny SoriaIn 1919 Boston Prohibition is on the verge of making alcohol illegal and hemopathy shows are officially against the law. Thanks to a blood condition hemopaths can perform a variety of illusions through poetry, painting, or music. While it is not illegal to be a hemopath, it is deemed dangerous to regular society and highly restricted.

Best friends Corinne Wells and Ada Navarra have called Johnny Dervish’s club, the Cast Iron, home for years blending their respective talents as a wordsmith and a songsmith both on stage and in cons meant to rustle up enough money to keep the club open.

After a routine job goes awry, Ada is imprisoned in Haversham Asylum, a hemopath prison with dark secrets and dangerous implications for its hemopath inmates. Ada’s escape from Haversham sets off a series of events leaving two Cast Iron workers dead and Dervish in the wind.

With only each other and their talents as hemopaths and con-women to rely on, Ada and Corinne will have to confront uncomfortable truths about Johnny, the Cast Iron, and themselves if they want to keep their freedom in Iron Cast (2016) by Destiny Soria.

Iron Cast is Soria’s debut novel.

The narration alternates close third person between Corinne and Ada’s perspectives which highlights and contrasts the girls’ vastly different upbringings. (Corinne comes from a high society family, while Ada’s parents are working class immigrants–her mother is from Mozambique and her father is Portuguese.) Ada and Corinne’s differing perspectives on their work with Johnny Dervish and the use of their hemopath talents add nuance to the story.

An atmospheric combination of alternate history and fantasy complete with vivid descriptions of everything from historic Boston locations to complex hemopath illusions make this fast-paced novel incredibly evocative. A diverse cast of flawed and complex characters striving to do better complement the solid female friendship at the core of this story.

Iron Cast is a simultaneously whimsical and chilling blend of mystery and fantasy. Numerous twists, sweet romance, humor, and strong pathos make Iron Cast even more appealing. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Game of Love and Death by Martha A. Brockenbrouch, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Sorcery and Cecelia by Caroline Stevemer and Patricia C. Wrede, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

You can also read my interview with Destiny Soria!

Author Interview: Destiny Soria on Iron Cast

When I heard about Pique Week I knew I wanted to be involved. Amulet has a great season including some of most-anticipated Fall 2016 releases. Iron Cast is a historical fantasy set in 1919 Boston where certain people have a blood condition–known has hemopathy–where they can create illusions with art. This fast-paced mystery is a completely evocative and thrilling read and one of my favorite reads this month. I’m thrilled to have Destiny answering some of my questions for Pique Week!

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

Destiny Soria (DS): I’ve been writing ever since I was seven or eight years old. In middle school and high school, I started writing Ella Enchanted fan fiction. Gradually, I worked up the courage to write original stories. I finished a few novels over the years (all of them terrible), but finally the year after I graduated college, I finished a draft of a novel that I was truly proud of. I queried the old fashioned way and after a few months signed with my lovely agent, Taylor. That first manuscript was on submission for a long time, and finally I had to reconcile myself with the fact that it probably wasn’t going to sell. While trying to distract myself from that disappointment, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and hit the 50k goal. That was the first draft of Iron Cast.

MP: What was the inspiration for Iron Cast?

DS: My inspiration came from a variety of different sources. I loved the idea of a magic system based in creativity, and I was obsessed with vintage mugshots of grifters and mobsters from the 1920s. And more than anything, I wanted to write a book about two best friends who meant everything to each other.

MP: In Iron Cast Ada can use her violin (or her voice) as songsmith to make people feel whatever emotions she projects and Corinne can create wordsmith illusions by reciting from poetry or other texts. They are just two types of hemopaths. If you lived in the world of Iron Cast would you want to be a hemopath? If so, what kind?

DS: They have their share of troubles, but who could say no to the mystery and glamor of being a hemopath? I already have an overabundance of poems rattling around in my brain, so I think I’d make a pretty good wordsmith. I’d probably just use my talent to convince people I had a pet dinosaur or something though.

MP: Were any locations in Iron Cast inspired by actual places? What kind of research went into bringing your version of 1919 Boston to life in your novel?

DS: Actually, yes! The Mythic Theatre plays a semi-important role in the novel, and it’s based on an old theatre in my hometown of Birmingham, AL called the Lyric. The theatre was sitting vacant for a long time, and I was always strangely enchanted by its derelict presence. They actually just refurbished and reopened it, which is amazing. As for other research, to be honest, I spent a lot of time just stalking through google maps, trying to make sure I had the location of big landmarks right (I had never been to Boston when I wrote it). I also found a detailed map of Boston from 1917 that was invaluable to me.

MP: Can you tell me anything about your next project? (Any chance of a full Mirror House novel down the line?)

DS: I’m working on a YA fantasy right now. I can’t offer any details at the moment, but hopefully soon!

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

DS: Trust your critique partners implicitly. But trust yourself more.

Thanks again to Nicole Brinkley at Pique Beyond for setting this up and thanks to Destiny Soria for answering my questions.

You can see more about Destiny and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of Iron Cast.

Abrams Books’ launched a new YA website called Pique Beyond! Pique is all about going beyond the book. Not only do they highlight exclusive excerpts and quotes from new and upcoming books, but they peel back the cover and show us the behind-the-scenes stuff: how books are made, what the authors were thinking, and how it all comes together. This week, they’re highlighting all of their newest titles, and let me tell you, they look amazing. Visit the site today at or follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @piquebeyond!

Week in Review: October 16

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

This week was busy with meetings at work and my first ever librarian preview at Harper Collins (more on that later). Unfortunately it was such a busy week that I was completely sapped and spent most of the weekend recovering. So it goes!

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

How was your week?

Book Display: The Talking Dead

I don’t do a lot of seasonal/holiday displays in the library, but October sort of demands it. I have used The Talking Dead a lot as a booklist name and in previous displays so I was excited to turn to that idea again this month with some new graphics (made with PicMonkey like always) and featuring some new titles.

As you may have noticed from my other posts, my library’s teen area doesn’t have a lot of display space. I tried to spread out the display this time around with plastic sign holders and books on the YA information desk and on top of some of our shorter display shelves to accompany my larger poster board display.

Here’s the main display:

talkingdead1As you can see I pulled books including ghosts, zombies, vampires, and other sundry undead creatures to stock the display.

I added stock images of pumpkins and a creepy fence to fill out my poster:

talkingdead2I kept things simply by the reference desk and shelves with just a Talking Dead sign and some books.

talkingdead4Have you read any of the titles I’m featuring? What are some of your favorite spooky reads? What displays would you make for Halloween? Let me know in the comments!

Girl Against the Universe: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Girl Against the Universe by Paula StokesMaguire is cursed.

It all started when her brother and father died in a car crash that left Maguire without a scratch. Then there was the time a roller coaster jumped its tracks. And Maguire was fine. Everyone at a sleepover was hit with food poisoning. Except Maguire. Before their latest move, the house next door caught fire. Because Maguire had left a candle burning on her windowsill.

Maguire tries to mitigate her bad luck with dozens of good luck charms and rituals. She also checks her surroundings for accident potential and tries to stay away from other people to limit the damage. She won’t drive anywhere with her stepfather or stepsister because she’s terrified of hurting them. Even driving with her mother is a cause for slight panic.

Talking through her curse in therapy, and hoping to get past her fears so that she can visit family in Ireland, Maguire tries to make some plans to change her luck. Jordy, a lucky (cute) tennis star, is sure that he can help even as Maguire worries that her bad luck will rub off on him.

Maguire is used to keeping to herself and trying to survive alone. But as she gets to know Jordy and makes other friends, Maguire starts to realize that there’s more to life than just surviving in Girl Against the Universe (2016) by Paula Stokes.

Stokes balances Maguire’s genuine grief with bright moments of humor. Although Maguire is understandably frustrated by the limitations on her life because of her bad luck, she is still shown as a capable and strong heroine throughout. She reads a lot. She is well-versed in survival practices (forewarned, is forearmed). She’s athletic with a love of rock climbing and, as she discovers during the novel, has potential as a promising tennis player. Maguire’s own belief in the curse is never ridiculed. Her family and friends all try to convince her that she is suffering from survivor’s guilt (not a curse) but they also respect Maguire’s concerns.

Both Maguire and Jordy see a therapist in Girl Against the Universe and these scenes are informative and thoughtfully portrayed as Maguire works with her doctor to figure out how she might conquer some of her bad-luck-related fears with small, practical steps building toward her dream of flying to Ireland.

Maguire’s growth as a character is highlighted throughout the novel with her therapy, her growing support system as she gets to know Jordy and other new friends, her changing dynamic with her family, and her time playing tennis as part of her school’s team.

Girl Against the Universe is an unexpected and delightful contemporary novel. A funny, heartfelt, and ultimately optimistic read. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Tumbling by Caela Carter, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

P. S. I Like You: A Review

P. S. I Like You by Kasie WestLily and chemistry do not mix. So much so that her chemistry teacher limits Lily to one sheet of paper for notes during class. No notebook to write down song lyrics or create sketches. But chemistry is still chemistry (boring) so Lily soon begins writing some of her favorite song lyrics on her desk to pass the time.

When Lily gets to class the next day, someone has continued the lyrics. Soon Lily and her new pen pal are sharing favorite bands, secrets, and their innermost thoughts. The only problem is that Lily has no idea who is writing her letters.

As she tries to balance school, friends, and her responsibilities at home (not to mention her song writing ambitions and her crippling stage fright), Lily feels like she and her pen pal are getting closer. But it turns out pen pals (and, okay, crushes) can sometimes be hiding in plain sight in P. S. I Like You (2016) by Kasie West.

West delivers realistic dialogue and dynamic characters in her latest contemporary novel. While Lily often reads young (complete with snap judgements and impulsive decisions) she remains authentic for most of the story. Lily’s hectic home life and her musical aspirations make her a particularly sympathetic and interesting narrator.

Attentive readers will figure out the identity of Lily’s pen pal early in the story leading to some fun moments of confusion and mistaken identity as Lily makers her way toward the same conclusion. P. S. I Like You is a short and sweet romance sure to appeal to readers who enjoy characters with obvious chemistry (pun intended) and partly epistolary tales.

Possible Pairings: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein, The Romantics by Leah Konen, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Week in Review: October 9

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

This week I had a four day weekend and it was fantastic.

I got a lot of cooking and winterizing done at home.

I got some glass pumpkins at Pier 1 and they are glorious.

On Sunday I went to Books of Wonder to see an author panel including Garth Nix.

It was delightful hearing Garth Nix talking about his inspiration for the Old Kingdom series He wanted good necromancers who used a unique form of magic. After dismissing candles as impractical and not dramatic, he decided to go with bells. While reading a Dorothy Sayers mystery, the idea of bells with names and characteristics stuck and thus the Abhorsen’s bells were born. Nix also unearthed a photo of an English wall while cleaning out a photo archive in Harper’s Australian office–where he worked–and in the photo one side of the wall was green grass and full summer while the other side was winter. That is where the idea of having the Old Kingdom abut Ancellstierre started.

The panel also included Lauren Oliver, Victoria Aveyard, and Kendare Blake. Blake explained that her inspiration for Three Dark Crowns started with the fact that queen bees lay eggs before leaving their hives and then the newly hatched queens have to fight it out.

Anyway, the panel was a lot of fun despite the dreary weather and Garth Nix is one of the most personable authors I’ve ever met (twice now!) and I’m thrilled to be reading Goldenhand right now.

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

How was your week?