August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I am really excited about my pick for this week. Seriously excited. It is almost fall, which means I spend a lot of time reading "witchy" tales. This one I cannot wait to get my hands on.

And look at that awesome cover!

Title: 'Conjured’
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 304
Release Date: 3 Sept. 2013

Summary (from Goodreads):

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

What are you waiting for this week?

Happy Reading!

     - The Hodgenator

August 26, 2013

Review: The Infinite Moment of Us

I cannot believe it has been over a month since I’ve blogged. I have been busy—teaching a workshop, prepping for students’ return, and surviving the first week of school for me, my son, and the hubs. It has been crazy. But in a good way.

Luckily, I am back! And I am excited to share my thoughts on Lauren Myracle’s (squee) newest novel, hitting shelves tomorrow.

This tale of love is so swoon-worthy. I cannot wait to share it with my students. I already know a few who will want to grab this novel and devour it as quickly as I did.

love this cover!
Title: ‘The Infinite Moment of Us’
Author: Lauren Myracle
Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Available: 27 Aug. 2013
Source: requested from Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

My Thoughts:

Myracle has done it again with this tale of first love. This is solid, honest storytelling of what it is like to find that first, all-consuming love and how it can change a person’s soul. Love that can shake a character to the core.

In this novel fresh high school graduates Wren and Charlie are the stars. They seemingly come from two different worlds, but do they really?

Wren’s world is full of doing what is right and Charlie’s world is constantly being turned upside down. But what happens when a single glance from across the way leads to love?

Myracle went with dual storytelling, and it works. A lot. We see the world from both Wren and Charlie, and what a difference it makes to the overall story. The novel would not be as strong if it was told solely from one character. Not even close.

When Wren is on the page in her own story, she is full of doubt and worried about disappointing her parents. After all, they have mapped out her whole life for her. But what she really wants is to make a difference in the world, but under her terms, not her parents. We see her build strength into telling her parents the truth—and we see the beginning of her transformation from a single glance at Charlie. She feels things she didn’t realize she could, or should. She is confident with him. She is herself, but what happens when she allows herself to doubt her feelings for Charlie. After all, this is only a summer romance, right? She is leaving to explore the world soon, and she can’t take Charlie with her. Can she?

Charlie on the page is a nice contrast to that of Wren. While Wren is full of doubt, Charlie is full of confidence. But in a different way. He isn’t confident in the typical “look at how awesome my confidence is” kind of way. He is more of a realist as to the person he is, and the person he expects to become. That is, until Wren enters his life. She turns his world upside down—in a positive way. She is his beacon of hope, if only he could see it. What he does see is a beautiful girl who has no business loving him because he isn’t worthy of her love. But he is. And he shows it. For him, this is not a summer romance but an all-consuming love that shakes him to his core. A love that shows him that he can do more in the world than he thinks he can. He can change it, with Wren by his side. But is this the choice he wants to make?

One reason I really enjoyed the dual points-of-view was the opportunity to explore each character in their truest form, but also exploring each character from the other’s point of view. It reminded me that people see us differently from how we see ourselves. Sometimes there is more to us than we think, and it takes another’s willingness of unconditional love to show us this.

In the case of Wren and Charlie, they brought out the best in each other. Most of the time. I mean, it can’t be a true love story without a spat here or there, but still. We experience Wren and Charlie at their best when they are on the page together. It is clear these two are soul mates. And not in the traditional, all-consuming way. They are soul mates in the idea that they are—and always will be—connected in a cosmic way that no one else can understand but them.

I felt this novel was more character-driven than story driven. It was the evolution of Wren and Charlie that kept me glued to the page, kept me turning the page, kept my Kindle in my hand until the end. It is these two that will sell this story to readers, especially teens, because more than anything, this novel shows that first love is powerful, first love matters, first love is more than just “first love.”

I can see teens connecting to Wren because they will understand the parental pressures of life and of college, especially those who are heading to the high school graduation stage themselves. They will sympathize with trying to please parents while also finding balance to make themselves happy as well. Doing what they want to do, not what their parents think they should. In this, Myracle breathes life into Wren that separates her from Charlie. Teens will connect with Charlie as well—especially those who feel lost, those who feel like they can’t seem to catch a break, those who feel as if options aren’t there for them. Even if they are.

But mostly, I think teens will connect with Wren and Charlie’s love story. A story that is true to how love develops, especially at this age. A love that can be everlasting, even if the couple no longer is together. I think many teens will crave a love like this, and some will look around and realize they already have it.

‘The Infinite Moment of Us’ is worth your time, and it is worth a space on your classroom library shelf.

What realistic fiction novel have you read lately that really struck a chord in your heart?

Comment below and let’s talk about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator