Fangirl Synchronized Reading: Fangirl Post #2: Fanfiction and Fandoms

Synchronized Readings are a semi-regular feature The Book Bandit and I will be running together every few months.

Our first Synchronized Reading is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

In addition to our intro posts and (of course) our reviews of the book, we’ve also decided to do at least two posts talking about points of interest during the book. Since Fangirl isn’t officially out yet, we knew we had to avoid spoilers. Luckily, the topic for our second posts was a pretty obvious one: fanfiction and fandoms.

Before starting Fangril I didn’t think much about fanfiction or fandoms. There are times and places for both but it wasn’t a personal point of interest–I will never choose to write non-publishable works based on other characters when I can create my own world and characters. But I love that other people can and do.

Then I started thinking about things and realized while it isn’t “fanfiction” per se, some of my first writing projects probably loosely fit the fanfiction bill. The first was when I was 11 or 12 and I finished A Wizard of Earthsea. Right after I started my own book that, in retrospect, was a thinly veiled remix of A Wizard of Earthsea. Then, a couple of years later, Emily of New Moon rocked my world (more even than Anne of Green Gables) and I started another project–this time in my English class notebooks–that years later–I realized was again a remix of a familiar story.

I never finished either story. There wasn’t much point when the original books did everything I was doing in a more or less similar way. But they are what got me writing. They are, in some ways, why I am still writing. And that’s valuable.

Which brings us to fandoms.

Confession time: I’m not a big Harry Potter fan. I went to a midnight release for book seven but I didn’t want to believe about Dumbledore. Or Snape. And I shipped Harry and Hermione. And Luna and Neville. Needless to say, with those things in mind, book seven was a huge disappointment and–over the years–my nostalgia for the  series diminished. It’s another thing that I see value in but I just don’t personally love.

I didn’t think I was a part of any other fandoms either. I like a lot of things. I have strong opinions on a lot of things. (Do not even get me started on all of Smallville’sfailings.) But I didn’t think fandom was really my thing.

Then I remembered that time I crocheted a Woodland Elf Usuki.

Here’s the inspiration:


And here’s mine:


So basically I play Neopets. I have since I was fourteen and I still do now in my spare time. Neopets is a virtual pet site where you can play games, raise virtual pets and do other things like college message board avatars (I have 322 which is pretty awesome–just saying). And crochet creatures inspired by site items. I am partly in charge of a guild on Neopets. I have friends through the site that I have known and texted with for years. And it sounds crazy but it’s fun and it works for me.

And if that doesn’t count as a fandom, I don’t know what does.

One of my pets. Isn’t she adorable?

The funny thing is Neopets also has a “newspaper” where users can submit different articles. Either game guides or other things. And I have written a few articles. Now these are usually things I write about my own pets but in the strictest sense of the word–that’s fanfiction.

Imagine my surprise to realized I’d been a part of a fandom (with a fanfiction community!) for years and I never even realized it.

So now you know my secrets. What about you? Any fandoms you’re a part of?

The Beginning of Everything: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn SchneiderEzra Faulkner believes that everyone has a tragedy in their lives. That one formative moment that will forever define them in terms of the before and the after. For some people that tragedy involves a severed head. For others it can be as mundane as a broken heart.

For Ezra, it starts with a cheating girlfriend and ends with a shattered knee that destroys his athletic career and, along with it, everything Ezra has used to define himself for years. Suddenly, Ezra is no longer at the top of the high school social ladder. He isn’t a part of his circle of friends. He will never play Varsity tennis again.

Instead Ezra has to start over, complete with his super trendy annoying cane and wrist brace, to try and find a place for himself. Along the way he is adopted by the school misfits, joins the debate team, and falls hopelessly into the orbit of Cassidy Thorpe.

Effortlessly vivid and mysterious, Cassidy immediately fascinates Ezra the way she does everyone else. With her sharp wit and humor, it’s easy to fall for her, especially when she is always bringing Ezra on adventures. But, much like her appearance at Ezra’s school, nothing to do with Cassidy Thorpe is quite what Ezra expects.

During a year spent redefining himself in the wake of his own tragedy, Ezra has to decide what it means when some people can’t–or won’t–move past their personal tragedy in The Beginning of Everything (2013) by Robyn Schneider.

The Beginning of Everything is a clever, often quirky, coming-of-age story. Schneider ably captures Ezra’s voice in a narration that is surprisingly insightful while remaining sardonic and never, ever becoming pretentious. Set in California, Schneider brings a sprawling suburban town to life from the school’s food court and classes down to the high security of each gated community.

There are a lot of things to enjoy in The Beginning of Everything including Schneider’s nods to The Great Gatsby and the humor and optimism she maintains in what could have been a weighty, sad narrative. With so many strengths, it is the cast of characters that set The Beginning of Everything apart as Schneider skillfully creates an ensemble where even the most minor characters feel like they are just waiting to star in their own novel.

Schneider packs in an array of literary and pop culture references ranging from the Panopticon to Neopets to Banksy with a smattering of foreign vocabulary thrown in to taste. Ezra’s story is both familiar and original as Schneider brings a whole new dimension to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope and effectively turns the very idea of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl completely upside down. Equal parts breezy and smart, The Beginnign of Everything is a delight.

Possible Pairing: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen, Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark, Paper Towns by John Green, The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2013*

Author Interview: Elizabeth Wein on Code Name Verity

Elizabeth Wein author photoYou’ve probably already heard of Elizabeth Wein what with her novel Code Name Verity receiving a Printz Honor last year. Her novel is one of my favorite reads from 2012 and also one of the best odes to friendship (not to mention an excellent historical novel) I’ve ever read. I could go on and on about this book–especially because I almost didn’t pick it up. The real clincher was when I (briefly) saw Ms. Wein when she came to sign stock at the bookstore where I worked. It wasn’t a long encounter. And I hadn’t read the book yet. But I picked it up very soon after that. Suffice to say I was dazzled by the story and the characters but also by how everything came together the more I read. Since then I’ve had the chance to meet Elizabeth in real life at BEA (regular readers might remember it was a highlight of my recap!) and also to “talk” to her sometimes on Twitter (twitter is magic). Today I’m absolutely thrilled to have Elizabeth Wein here answering some questions about her novel.

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

Elizabeth Wein (EW): I’ve wanted to write children’s books (somehow they all morphed into YA) since I was seven and first started reading novels.  I wrote my first full length opus when I was eleven—it was about 25,000 words long!  It was a time-travel adventure in which a modern girl changes place with her great-great-grandmother for a summer.

I wrote another novel, which was utterly appallingly awful, when I was 15.  My best friend called it “the stupidest book she’d ever read.”  It was an epic fantasy and the denouement involved the heroine playing a flute with her nose.  I am not kidding.

About this time I was also a serious King Arthur fanatic and started inventing the epic journey which eventually became my first novel, The Winter Prince.

I wrote five “spin offs” to The Winter Prince—A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter, The Empty Kingdom and The Sword Dance (the first two have recently been reissued as e-books from Open Road Media, with the next three in the pipeline.  The Sword Dance isn’t yet published).  They were all originally published by Viking Children’s Books in the past ten years or so, but they weren’t getting very much notice, and my editor at the time suggested I write something a bit more mainstream.  Code Name Verity was the result.

MP: What was the inspiration for Code Name Verity?

EW: Actually, I devoured Holocaust and World War II literature when I was a kid, and when I was about twelve I made up (though never wrote down) a World War II epic which focussed on the fearful and dynamic relationship between a captured resistance teen and her Nazi interrogator.  I just needed the female pilot aspect to put the whole thing into motion over 30 years later!

MP: How did your own experiences as a pilot inform the story?

EW: Partly, the story exists because I got my pilot’s license in 2003 and wanted to learn more about the possibilities available to women pilots throughout history.   The ATA fascinated me.  I don’t think I’d have written this if I hadn’t learned to fly myself, but I should stress that my fictional pilots are much more accomplished than I am!

I think, if anything, it is being a woman in a mostly male-dominated arena that informs the story, and that is a piloting experience that hasn’t really changed much over the past century.  Women are still a minority in the air.

MP: Code Name Verity takes place during WWII and is filled with historical detail. What kind of research did it take to write about this time period? Did you learn anything that surprised you during your research?

EW: Well, I’d already done some of the research for a short story called “Something Worth Doing,” published in Firebirds Soaring (edited by Sharyn November).  It’s about a girl who disguises herself as her dead brother and becomes a Spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain in 1940—she actually turns up again in a cameo in Code Name Verity as Theo, the Air Transport Auxiliary pilot who first tells Maddie about Lysanders and the Moon Squadron!

I first found out about the ATA, and the SOE (Special Operations Executive), when I was doing the research for this story at the Imperial War Museum in London.  I do a lot of library research whenever I write a book, but one of the things that was fun about researching Code Name Verity was that there was so much hands-on stuff you could get at—museums, ruined fortifications, period clothes and leaflets and logbooks and recipes, and of course, living people who experienced some of these events.  I went to a seminar at the Royal Aeronautical Institute and got to meet four women who had been ATA pilots themselves!

I kind of want to say that everything I learned surprised me.  I hate to admit this, but until I wrote Code Name Verity I hadn’t really taken on board the difference between an occupied nation, and a nation at war.  Because there is a really big difference.

One thing that made a huge impression on me was the scale of it all.  It’s just amazing how global World War II was – much more so than World War I.  I tried to get some of that across in some of the things Maddie says after she’s lived for a few weeks in Nazi-occupied France.

MP: What draws you to the historical genre as a writer?

EW: Really, it’s just these amazing stories.  I’m not drawn to the genre—I’m drawn to the amazing things that people did, and their ingenuity and their bravery, and I want to tell people about it.  Remember I said my first books were all King Arthur spin offs?  That’s not because it was historical.  It’s because I was madly in love with Arthur.

MP: This is a story about war and flying and suspense, but it’s also very much a story about friends. Did you always plan to have a strong friendship at the center of this novel?

EW: No!  It was only when I got the idea for the huge plot twist and the structure of the novel—I started out to write it and realized that in order for the climax to be effective, these girls were going to have to be real best friends.  So I sat down to construct their friendship.  And once I got going, the whole thing just turned into a huge celebration of friendship for me.  I used real incidents and emotions from my own life, and thought of so many of my own friends while I was writing it.  It was a joy to write because I was so wrapped up in capturing the essence of what it’s like to have a best friend.

MP: Without getting into spoilers, the narrative voice throughout Code Name Verity is fascinating. How did you go about capturing the right “voice” for your characters?

EW: I can’t really take credit for capturing Verity’s voice—her narrative pretty much wrote itself.  I know that’s a cliché, but honestly, she was so easy to write.  Essentially she speaks in the voice of my own journals, so although she’s not like me, she talks a lot like me.

The other narrative was harder to capture because it’s not as literary.  I had to keep checking myself and forcing myself to write in plain English.  Whenever I wanted to wax lyrical I found that using a metaphor about flight or engines usually worked very well!

MP: One of the most impressive things about this novel is how intricately the plot comes together. There are a few big twists and throughout the story there are moments where everything readers thought they knew is thrown into question (or even proven completely wrong). As a writer how did you go about pacing this story? How did you keep track of details? How did you decide at what point to reveal key points to the reader?

EW: Keeping track of details was hard.  I didn’t want to use a diary format but in the end I had to date the entries simply because they were so hard to place in context otherwise.  Then when I got to part 2, which has events taking place simultaneously with part 1, I had to construct a time line.  When I finished the manuscript I ripped it completely apart, rearranged it all in chronological order and read it through that way to make sure all the events aligned properly.

I pretty much knew instinctively what I wanted to reveal and when, but it wasn’t till I got to part 2 and started knocking down all the ducks I’d lined up in part 1 that it really became clear the framework was actually going to work.

MP: A companion to Code Name Verity is coming out soon. What can readers expect in Rose Under Fire?

EW: We’ve got a new (and younger) heroine, Rose Justice, who’s an ATA pilot like Maddie.  The action takes place a little later in the war.  Rose gets lost during a routine ferry flight and ends up in Germany, where she’s taken prisoner and sent to the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

It’s harrowing but not twisty—a different kind of story from Code Name Verity, with a less brazen heroine.  Early readers are saying it makes you cry “a different kind of tears”!

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project?

EW: Well, it’s set in Ethiopia in 1935 during the Italian invasion, and there are planes in it.  Believe it or not, it’s more of a “family” story than anything else.  There are two teen protagonists, a boy and a girl.  I’m in the middle of writing it and don’t want to talk about it too much lest it change drastically before I finish!

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

EW: “Don’t get it right, get it written!” (—James Thurber.)

Seriously.  An outline helps if you’re struggling.  Write—get something done—get it accomplished.  Then start to polish.

Thanks again for the interview and the chance to wax lyrical about the making of Code Name Verity!

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

You can find more information about her books on her website.

If you want to read more about Code Name Verity check out my review! (And if you haven’t read it yet, seriously, go pick it up!)

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesdays img by Miss Print

Often, I read a book and wish it focused more on a secondary character. Keeping those instances in mind, it was pretty easy to come up with this list:

  1. Alice Cullen from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: I maintain that this book (never made it through the series) would have been at least 50% better if the story had been about Alice and Jasper instead of Bella and Edward.
  2. Jericho from The Diviners by Libba Bray: I’m not totally sure if he counts BUT this is such a sprawling book that there were a lot of characters who were not “primary” in terms of page time. That said, Jericho is easily my favorite guy from this book.
  3. Everyone from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Of course Puck and Sean were the main event here and I love them. But I also love every other single character that appeared. I’m not even going to name any because you really just have to read (or re-read) the book to meet them all.
  4. Wildcount Volger and Dr. Nora Darwin Barlow from Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld: Leviathan is easily my favorite steampunk trilogy and Alek and Dery are one of my favorite couples. I also loved reading about their calculating mentors (of sorts) Volger and Barlow. These two are easy to appreciate though. I mean one is a wildcount and the other has a Tasmanian Tiger as a pet–of course they’re memorable. Of course I love them. Of course I hope there is fanfiction somewhere about them.
  5. Daisy from The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen: Please Sarah Dessen, please please please write a book about Daisy and Morris doing stuff.
  6. Vider from The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton: This one isn’t entirely fair because I strongly suspect she will turn up later in the series as a more primary character but I find Vider fascinating.
  7. Kevin Kapoor from Magisterium by Jeff Hirsh: Possibly the best sidekick in the history of sci-fi/fantasy mashups.
  8. The Della Torre family in The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer: I still very much want this book to become the promised trilogy so I can read more about Mia and her family.
  9. Wesley Ayers from The Archived by Victoria Schwab: I can’t say much of anything because of spoilers but Wes is a really great foil to Mac throughout.
  10. Jamie from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: (And not just because I’m posting my interview with Elizabeth later today!) Obviously Verity and Maddie are the main event in this book and I love the story for that focus. That said Jamie was also a very fine character to have–even for the little bit of time he spent in the story.

While you’re here enter my blog birthday book giveaway!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

(Image made by me.)

The Ten Best and Worst Summer Vacations in YA Books

August is already coming to an end, but there’s still time to get in one last vacation trip or two. As any seasoned traveler can tell you, not all vacations are created equal. For the characters in the books below, summer vacations cover the entire spectrum from epic adventures with sizzling romances to disastrous trips and even terrifying summers filled with murder and mayhem.

Best Summer Vacations:

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara AltebrandoAll I Need by Susane ColasantiAn Abundance of Katherines cover13 Little Blue Envelopes coverUnbreak My Heart

  1. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando: After an entire life spent in second place, Mary Gilhooley hopes the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt will be her chance to finally come out on top. One all-day scavenger hunt, two lawn ornaments, three meltdowns, four relationship fails, and one incredibly daring stunt stand between Mary’s team and victory. Or utter failure.
  2. All I Need by Susane Colasanti: Every summer Skye jokes that this summer will be different; something exciting will finally happen. Usually that isn’t the case. Then Skye sees Seth at a party and she knows, at last, that something big is going to happen. After one magical night Skye and Seth know they’re meant to be. But before they get to a happy future they’ll have to deal with a present filled with missed connections, worried parents, and  troublesome friends.
  3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Colin Singleton excelled in school. He was special. Then he met a girl named Katherine and they started dating. Then she dumped him. Then eighteen more girls named Katherine dumped him. Suddenly, Colin is a teenager with no claim to fame except for his former status as a prodigy. No new ideas. No girl. No plans for the summer except wasting away in his room and moping. At least until his best friend Hassan drags Colin along for a cross-country road trip.
  4. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: The rules were straightforward, sent to Ginny Blackstone in the first of thirteen letters from her eccentric Aunt Peg. Ginny is used to her aunt’s whims and willing to play along because Aunt Peg is the only person in the world who can make Ginny seem interesting–even if it is just by association. The letters will take Ginny to England and across Europe on an adventure that includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Harrod’s, youth hostels of various ilks and karaoke. At the end of the summer, Ginny might discover she’s more interesting than she thought–all because of those thirteen envelopes.
  5. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker: Clementine made a big mistake her sophomore year when she broke one of the most important rules of friendship. Heartbroken and friendless, Clementine is about to embark on a three-month sailing trip with her parents and her little sister, Olive. Last year the trip sounded like a horrible, faraway idea. Now that it’s here, Clem is surprised to realize it might be exactly what she needs.

Worst Summer Vacations:

A Little Wanting Song coverReunited by Hilary Weisman GrahamClarity by Kim HarringtonWherever Nina Lies coverPaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

  1. A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley: Charlie Duskin lives and breathes music. At least, she does when she’s alone. Playing guitar or singing in front of anyone is impossible even though she is not entirely without talent. Charlie doesn’t mind so much because music can be enough most of the time–especially during a summer in the country surrounded by old ghosts and locals who want nothing to do with her.
  2. Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham: Alice, Summer and Tiernan were best friends and the self-proclaimed biggest fans of the band Level 3. That was before high school. Before Level 3 broke up. Before the girls’ friendship imploded. Now, one Volkswagen van, two-thousand miles and a whole lot of problems are the only things standing between these three ex-best friends and the reunion concert of a lifetime.
  3. Clarity by Kim Harrington: Clare is expecting a typical summer in the small town of Eastport hanging around the family house to help her mother with psychic readings during the busy tourist season. Things get a bit more complicated when a girl is found murdered at the local motel and her brother becomes the prime suspect.
  4. Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten: When Ellie finds a drawing that can only have been done by her sister, Ellie knows it’s a sign. If she can follow the clues surely she can find Nina wherever she is and bring her home. Ellie sets off on a road trip following Nina’s trail. Along the way Ellie will meet some unlikely misfits, face some harsh realities, and realize that she might be more like her sister than she thought.
  5. Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff: Hanna Wagner wants to keep pretending she is the shiny, happy girl she used to be. But all of that pretending to be normal becomes nearly impossible when a girl is found murdered and her best friend’s ghost insists that Hannah should find out more about the investigation. Drawn into complicated dealings with ghosts, killers, and the enigmatic Finny Boone, Hannah begins to understand that nothing about dying–or living–is as straightforward as she once thought.

How do your own vacations stack up in comparison?

Fangirl Synchronized Reading: Fangirl Post #1: College and Community

Synchronized Readings are a semi-regular feature The Book Bandit and I will be running together every few months.

Our first Synchronized Reading is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

In addition to our intro posts and (of course) our reviews of the book, we’ve also decided to do at least two posts talking about points of interest during the book. Since Fangirl isn’t officially out yet, we knew we had to avoid spoilers. So our first topic is a general one: the college experience.

(Check back next Friday for our posts on fanfiction in fandom. The week after that our reviews will post.)

Fangirl starts when Cath gets to college. It also starts when her twin sister announces that she wants a different roommate.

I didn’t dorm in college–I went to a college thirty minutes away in lower Manhattan and I commuted for all four years. I was also an English major (like Cath) in a school primarily known for its business programs. It was a great fit for me because it meant there was a smaller community and lots of face-time with teachers. It also meant there were never any huge lectures for classes (except my one science requirement) and teaching assistants were never very visible.

That’s all my roundabout way of saying a lot of Cath’s trials and triumphs were very foreign to me. (I have the same thing happen when I read books about enormous high schools.) One thing I did totally relate to was Cath’s efforts to find a community during that first year at college.

When I first got to Pace I desperately wanted to be a part of the literary magazine. That, however, didn’t happen until my senior year. But I knew I wanted to do something besides go to class so I signed up for the college newspaper. It was terrifying–even worse than being one of two freshman in a Seventeenth Century Lit class. Even worse than getting trapped between floors and in the wrong wing as I tried to make my way to my first class on my first day of college.

But I stuck with it. For a long time that meant showing up to meetings and not taking an assignment. But then, slowly, I took different articles. The editors got to know me and I started doing more. By senior year I even had a book review column. It was a great experience and one I am so glad I pursued even though it was far outside of my usual comfort zone.

It’s an interesting thing going to classes without really meaning to make friends. I don’t always connect with people. I’m prickly until I get to know a person and I am sometimes much better on paper/electronically than in real life. That said, it was always amazing to me how easy it was to talk to other English majors. College was the first time I was really around people who got it–the writing, the reading, the love of words. (It was also the first time I had friends who didn’t make me feel fat and gigantic compared to the short, waif-like friends I had in high school but that’s another story.) This feeling of connection only grew when I met people in grad school who felt that way not just about books but about youth books–wow!

The amount of nostalgia I had while reading Fangirl was staggering as I was reminded of my crazy thesis advisor, the friends I had on the paper and in classes, the drama of the English Department writing awards. I have strong (bad) feelings about Facebook but this book made me wonder if I should reconsider if, for nothing else, the chance to reconnect with some of those college friends I’ve lost touch with. But really the best thing about rehashing my own college experiences while reading this book was realizing that, while it didn’t always feel that way at the time, I wouldn’t go back and do anything differently.

The Infinite Moment of Us: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren MyracleIn the summer after high school, Wren Gray thinks she is finally ready to go after what she wants. Even if what she wants is the exact opposite of what she has been working towards for her entire life. Even if what she wants is the exact opposite of what her parents want for Wren.

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, wants exactly one thing and one thing only: Wren Gray. Unfortunately the odds of her noticing him, let alone being actually interested in him, are pretty low.

Then high school ends and somehow, some way, Wren and Charlie meet. And both of them are interested. Unfortunately, it takes more than mutual interest–or even love–to create a lasting relationship. As Wren and Charlie finally get to know each other, neither of them are sure what the future will hold for them in The Infinite Moment of Us (2013) by Lauren Myracle.

Lauren Myracle is a wildly popular author. Her books are daring and edgy and completely unflinching when it comes to some difficult topics. That is part of why Myracle is also a perennial favorite for book banners who challenge her books.

I haven’t read a lot of Myracle books but she is absolutely wonderful at all of her events and, really, I wanted to love this book because  I respect Myracle immensely for making hard choices and for never shying away from hard subjects in her books.  I was so excited going into it.
The Infinite Moment of Us is a charming, sexy story of first love and all of the challenges and thrills it entails. It’s a story about walking into the unknown that is life after high school. It’s a story about a boy with a troubled past and a girl with everything going for her.
Then everything falls apart.
Let me start by saying that The Infinite Moment of Us is an honest, thoughtful meditation on first love and growing up. All of  the pieces are handled well in Myracle’s skilled hands and the story has a lot of appeal. I am most certain that this book is going to rock a lot of worlds and many people are going to love it. Much as I wanted to be, I am not one of those people.
Wren is one of the most frustrating heroines I have recently encountered. She is proactive. She has agency. She knows what she wants. In theory she is everything you want in a heroine. Unfortunately in reality she is just irritating. Wren comes from a privileged family. She is making a daring, bold decision to defy her parents in order to do what she wants. While that is admirable and incredibly hard, with Wren it also came from such a place of privilege that it was impossible to ignore.

Myracle hints that Wren’s parents are suffocating but readers don’t see enough for it to really be convincing (this is a recurring problem because the novel is short–336 pages hardcover). Similarly, everything Wren does seems to be meant to suggest that she is strong and proactive and responsible. Unfortunately in most cases it instead comes across that Wren is a rich girl who wants the world to reshape itself to better suit her needs–particularly when it comes to her boyfriend Charlie.

I suppose it makes sense but a central conceit of The Infinite Moment of Us became the idea that one character had to give up something to be with the other. There was no middle ground. No compromise. It became a question of all or nothing. It was deeply troubling–maybe in part because Wren and Charlie are so relatively young–that there was this expectation of either of them having to give something up to be together.

Wren and Charlie together also alternated rather rapidly from being adorable together to being, well, strange. I still haven’t been able to pinpoint why but as the story progressed I became vaguely uncomfortable with almost everything Wren and Charlie said to each other from him calling her baby to their talking about feeling like a “man” and a “woman” because of being with the other. It all started to feel unsettling the more I read.

To add to an already significant assortment of issues, Myracle made some very strange choices with the book’s antagonist. I cannot say more because of spoilers but suffice it to say that the last eighth of the novel takes a very bizarre and completely unexpected turn.

I’ve heard this book described as a modern version of Forever. And it reminded me very much of some other novels I have read. Unfortunately The Infinite Moment Of Us was not quite as well done as those other novels. This book had all of the potential to be wonderful, and I’m sure with the right reader it will be. Sadly, I was left at the end with a sense that for me as a reader the entire story was largely pointless.

Possible Pairings: Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson, Forever by Judy Blume, Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin, When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, Just One Day by Gayle Forman; Anna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee, The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta, Some Things That Stay by Sarah Willis

*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2013*

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten things that make my blogging life easier

Top Ten Tuesdays img by Miss Print

Being a blogger takes a lot more than just reading books. So here are some things that make it a lot easier:

  1. Goodreads: This website changed my life. I love everything about it. I use it to track my readings and my mom’s. I would be lost without it. (Fun fact: I only found out about goodreads when a friend on my college newspaper’s staff sent out a blast email when he signed up and the site said he should invite people. I lost touch with the friend but kept the site. And now the friend is on twitter. Go figure!)
  2. Pinterest: I’ve discovered I’m visual when it comes to books. I don’t always remember an exact title or author when I’m trying to recall a book but I will remember a cover. It’s hard to keep it up to date sometimes but I really am enjoying using my Pinterest account to tabulate all of the books that I review.
  3. WordPress: I love my blogging platform! I also use their built-in reader which is great because I don’t need another account.
  4. Amazon: Say what you will about Amazon but I get a lot of the books I review from their Vine program and I really enjoy obsessively watching my reviewer rank change week to week.
  5. BooksFreeSwap: I obviously have a lot of books in my life. Too many really. So to try and stay in control of the book piles I periodically list books for swap on this site. It’s not the best user interface but I enjoy it as a way to pass books on to new readers (especially ARCs that are so much more complicated to donate/discard).
  6. BookCrossing: I haven’t really tried this yet but I like the idea of releasing books into the wild and having the option to track them. We’ll see how it goes! (I think my username on here is miss_print Let’s be friends!)
  7. Twitter: I LOVE Twitter. I’m not on facebook or Tumblr or Instagram because for me Twitter does all of that but better because it’s in one place. Plus, a lot of librarians and bloggers and booksellers feel the same way so I always have people on here to talk about books with.
  8. BEA: This isn’t really a thing and I’m not sure it makes anything easier given the prep involved BUT I love Book Expo America and I love planning for it and going to it with Nicole and I love the chances it gives me to get books I wouldn’t otherwise acquire and catch up with blogger friends I wouldn’t see otherwise.
  9. Libraries: How else am I supposed to get books I don’t already have on my shelves?
  10. Readers: I say this a lot but it really wouldn’t be worthwhile to be a blogger if I didn’t have people reading this stuff or know that my reviews were helping connect at least one person with a good book.
  11. Blogger Friends: I’m an idiot and didn’t think to add this sooner! Where would I be without my blogger friends like Nicole and Andi and Cecelia and Steph? It’s great to have readers, of course, but it’s also vital to have other bloggers around who understand why I do this and why I love it. Thanks guys!

While you’re here enter my blog birthday book giveaway!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

(Image made by me.)

Synchronized Reading: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Nicole, The Book Bandit, and I have decided to do a Synchronized Reading of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell starting this week. You can read Nicole’s explanation of things on her blog (and should since it has scientific proof–meaning she wrote down–that we are BFFs).

Nicole and I are both insanely excited about Fangirl so we waited a full hour (maybe two?) in line at BEA to see Rainbow (I harass Rainbow Rowell on twitter constantly so I’ve decided that means we are friends and I can call her by her first name–Nicole will back me on this logic) and get signed arcs of Fangirl.

I’ve been kind of overwhelmed by my to read pile I decided to pick out the next few books I would be reading and Fangirl was high on my radar. When Nicole said that she was reading Fangirl after she wrapped up a read-a-thon challenge, I decided to pick up Fangirl as well so that we could do a Synchronized Reading.

What is a Synchronized Reading, you ask? Nicole sums it up best:

“It’s kind of like synchronized swimming minus the water and swim suits … and the theatrics.”

Basically we’ll both be reading the same book at the same time (at our own paces) which surprisingly doesn’t happen very often despite the fact that we often read the same books. We will also be posting some special content on both of our blogs during the Synchronized Reading but we’re still working on the schedule for that.

Nicole is already getting ready with post its:


(I’m not allowed to use post-its or high lighters in books because I overuse both so I’m preparing with cryptic goodreads status updates instead.)

Then, because we take all endeavors seriously, Nicole and I also decided to do a couple of other things to prepare. In other words: We got themed manicures to match the cover of Fangirl. Since Fangirl only has a couple of colors on the cover, planning was pretty simple.

I was especially excited to see I had the colors I needed in my personal nail polish stash.


(That might be the only post-2000 photo in existence where my nails do not have nail polish on them.)

My mom doesn’t really understand the point of accent nails. But Nicole and I like them. So Nicole got a blue-green manicure with a red accent nail:


While I gave myself a red manicure with a blue-ish accent nail:


Then to take it to the next level I’m also using a handbag that kind of matches the cover (and I’m so good that I didn’t even have to plan that part! It just happened naturally!).


In summary: Nicole and I will be reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell together. We will be blogging about it. It will be awesome. You, too, can read Fangirl starting on September 10, 2013 when it officially releases.

Truth or Dare: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Truth or Dare by Jacqueline GreenWhen Tenley returns to Echo Bay after four years away, she is eager (maybe even a little desperate) to reclaim her place at the top of the social ladder. It’s time for her to reconnect with her best friend Caitlin and throw a legendary party to let everyone else in town that Tenley is back and she is still a perfect Ten.

Caitlin is excited to bring Tenley back into the fold of popular kids in Echo Bay. She also knows that Tenley’s party is the perfect way to relax and stop thinking about the tortured memories from her kidnapping years ago or worrying about how to uphold her reputation as an angel. With so much pressure, it’s only a matter of time before something has to give.

Sydney doesn’t have much use for Tenley or Caitlin. Sure, she remembers that the two of them were known for legendary games of Truth or Dare. Big deal. Sydney has enough going on with her summer job and her photography.

Tenley knows her party will be memorable when she starts a wild game of truth or dare. But what none of the girls realize is that they are about to be recruited for a game of Truth or Dare where the stakes are much, much higher and making the wrong choice could be lethal in Truth or Dare (2013) by Jacqueline Green.

Truth or Dare is a campy read that will appeal to fans of Pretty Little Liars (the television show or the series). Before reading this book it is worth mentioning that Truth or Dare is the first in the series and is as short on closure as you might expect.

Green shifts focus between the three girls Sydney, Caitlin and Tenley. All of the girls have the potential to be interesting heroines but all of them are also mired in deeply problematic storylines.*

With a lot of misdirects and decoys, Truth or Dare will definitely keep readers guessing as they try to piece together who is behind the escalating dares. A picturesque setting and a sprawling cast of characters add to the story’s atmosphere.

Truth or Dare is a great escapist read. If, however, you think too hard about any aspects of the plot the entire premise falls apart under the scrutiny.

*SLIGHT SPOILERS: I was really uncomfortable with Caitlin’s nickname being “angel.” Aside from being vaguely ludicrous I intensely disliked the idea that it made her untouchable and “pure”–the whole device left a bad taste in my mouth. Nicknames in general were strange. I don’t know if it’s just me but I never had a nickname as a teen and all of the ones in this book were ridiculous. (Perfect Ten? Angel? Blue? Guinness–because I refuse to believe someone actually named their only son GUINNESS.)

Speaking of Guinness: How old is he? I know this was an edgy book and the girls were older teens. But, really. Guinness is even called a grown man and he is chasing after not one but two teenaged girls. Forget a love triangle. That’s just gross.

Then of course we have Tenley and her cosmetic surgery. I disliked how unbalanced the whole issue was (I know it wasn’t the focus of the story but I would have appreciated a little more nuance) and also, given the fact that I doubt Tenley was 18 I’m not even sure that plot thread would have been possible in the real world.

Possible Pairings: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, Clarity by Kim Harrington, Swoon by Nina Malkin, Fury by Elizabeth Miles, This is W. A. R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker, Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard, Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Zeigesar

*This book was acquired for review from Paper Lantern Lit*