Monday, February 24, 2020

*Review* The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Published: 1967
Pages: 192

The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

This is a book that I'd been meaning to read for a while. I'd heard so many great things about it, and unfortunately, for me it just didn't live up to the hype. I know that one of the reasons so many people love the book is that they find it relatable, but I just didn't. 

I think a major part of the problem for me is that although I was a bit of an outcast in school, it wasn't anywhere near the level of Ponyboy and the greasers. In the whole scheme of things, my lifestyle was more in line with the Socs, even though I didn't fit in with the popular kids, but the book doesn't really show us things from the Soc perspective. But even if it did, I still don't think I'd have found the story all that relatable. 

I kept reading hoping that I'd hit a point where I'd start to relate to either the characters or at least the situations they found themselves in in some way, but I didn't. The complete disconnect for me is even making writing a review difficult. Ultimately, I just didn't get it, so for me, this book was a dud. 

I give it 2.47382 stars. - Katie 

Susan Eloise Hinton's career as an author began while she was still a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Disturbed by the divisions among her schoolmates into two groups--the Greasers and the Socs--Hinton wrote The Outsiders, an honest, sometimes shocking novel told from the point of view of an orphaned 14-year-old Greaser named Ponyboy Curtis. Since her narrator was male, it was decided that Hinton use only her first initials so as not to put off boys who would not normally read books written by women. The Outsiders was published during Hinton's freshman year at the University of Tulsa, and was an immediate sensation.Today, with more than eight million copies in print, the book is the best-selling young adult novel of all time, and one of the most hauntingly powerful views into the thoughts and feelings of teenagers. The book was also made into a film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and featuring such future stars as Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise.Once published, The Outsiders gave her a lot of publicity and fame, and also a lot of pressure. S.E. Hinton was becoming known as "The Voice of the Youth" among other titles. This kind of pressure and publicity resulted in a three year long writer's block.Her boyfriend (and now, her husband), who had gotten sick of her being depressed all the time, eventually broke this block. He made her write two pages a day if she wanted to go anywhere. This eventually led to That Was Then, This Is Now.In the years since, Ms. Hinton has married and now has a teenaged son, Nick. She continues to write, with such smash successes as That Was Then, This Is Now, Rumble Fish and Tex, almost as well known as The Outsiders. She still lives in Tulsa with her husband and son, where she enjoys writing, riding horses, and taking courses at the university.In a wonderful tribute to Hinton's distinguished 30-year writing career, the American Library Association and School Library Journal bestowed upon her their first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors authors whose "book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives."

Saturday, February 1, 2020

I'm Back! (Maybe)

At the beginning of the year last year, I made a post where I resolved to become more active in the book blogging community, basically trying to do a better job of seeking out and interacting with other book bloggers on their pages. It was a really thoughtful resolution. Then I basically disappeared, for pretty much the whole year. I have a handful of posts from last year, and most of them were drafted before the year actually started. A part of me knew that making a resolution about blogging was a bad idea (because who ever actually sticks to their resolutions, amiright?), but the optimist in me swore that it'd be fine because it was book related and I love books.

Now I really want to get back into my blogging, but I want to make some changes around here. While this blog will always have a primary book focus (again, I love books), I'm going to add some lifestyle posts so you can get to know the parts of me that aren't obsessed with books. We're going to act like I'm a well-rounded character and not a one-dimensional book nerd for a change. And that starts now.

Part of the reason I was radio silent in the last quarter of 2019 is I started a day job (and that is how I will always refer to it because I'm not giving my stalker any ammunition against me when she's already threatened retribution for imagined slights). It's in fast food, so nothing glamorous, but it allows me to contribute to the household finances more than I was working as just a proofreader (which I'm also still doing). After about two months on the job, I began training to become a manager, and not long after that, I was promoted to assistant manager. And I recently found out that where I'm going to go from here is a major topic of discussion between my GM and the owners (who own more than one store in the area), so it seems to me that I may be promoted to GM sooner rather than later, although potentially in a different store. It's all happened rather fast considering that I have no prior management experience and didn't work outside the home for eight years.

Another change that has happened because of the new job is that I've started wearing makeup again, not because I'm required to for work, but because I feel good about myself again and want to. In fact, I recently realized that the real reason I didn't wear makeup for years wasn't because I just didn't care what others think of me like I'd thought, but because I didn't really feel good about myself. I know this because I still don't really care what others think of me, but I want to wear makeup anyway, for me. I don't know what the "it" products are in this area though, so I'm currently subscribed to BoxyCharm and Ipsy so I can test out some new products and find things to use. I will be talking about some of those things around here too. One day I may even get up the nerve to go into Ulta and ask for some help and/or advice, but that day is not today.

A final change I intend to make around here is that I will no longer be reviewing the books that I proofread here. I will still spotlight them and give a star rating, but I won't be writing in depth reviews. It became quite clear last year that I don't always have the time to write those reviews right after finishing a book, and since most of my authors write series, I can't always keep exact events in specific books straight, so my reviews were becoming rather vague anyway to avoid any possible spoilers.

So that's where we're at. I'm hoping to be around here more regularly this year, and with a wider range of topics for discussion. I hope you'll stay with me for the ride. - Katie

Monday, June 17, 2019

*Review* Something I'm Good At by Caroline Andrus

Genre: YA Romance
Published: June 18, 2019
Pages: 240

Summer was the girl who had it all: good grades, a spot on the high school volleyball team, and a best friend since elementary school. Then she was diagnosed with lupus...and her best friend betrayed her. Now she’s cutting ties, because nobody should have to deal with someone as broken as her.

Kane is the guy who never gives up. When he puts his mind to something, he gets it done—no matter how many broken bones it takes. So when a chance encounter at the urgent care throws him in the path of Summer, the girl he’s secretly had a crush on for years, he’s determined to win her heart.

Despite her vow to keep people away, Summer finds herself falling for Kane’s charm. Will the boy who never gives up be able to win—and keep—the heart of the girl who is afraid to let people in?

Kane is charming. But I'm not a princess, and my disease isn't a dragon some prince can slay.

"I'm usually covered in blood and dirt. Do you really think I care about tears and snot?"

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This book had some serious A Walk to Remember (the movie) vibes for me. A girl who's basically swearing off love because of an illness, Summer's just isn't terminal. I honestly felt like Summer was being a bit dramatic, but in retrospect I think I was probably just a different type of teenage girl than Summer. Also, I'm not super-familiar with exactly how lupus affects someone's life, and I guess I can sort of understand how being diagnosed as a teenager could make it seem like your life is over. But I still ultimately couldn't really relate to her swearing off love because of it. That particular pair of Summer's shoes just didn't quite fit my feet. I had no problem wearing the rest of her shoes throughout the story though. 

My inability to relate to Summer's approach to love just made Kane's part of the story that much better for me though. I could not wait for them to hook up and for Summer to realize that her lupus diagnosis wasn't a spinsterhood sentence. I have slight mixed feelings about Kane's persistence (No means no, dude!), but overall I feel like his approach was acceptable. I definitely got the impression that in another story, he would have accepted only ever being friends if that's all Summer was down for. Like Summer mentioned, he was pretty much the only person she knew who would let things drop when it was obvious she didn't want to talk about them. 

Overall this was a light and sweet teenage romance. It's exactly the type of romance I'd want my daughter to read because Kane is the type of guy I'd want her to date. I'd definitely recommend this if you're looking for a lighthearted read this summer. 4.38976 stars. - Katie 

Caroline Andrus was born and raised in the St. Paul suburbs where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and Henry McCoy—her cat, who thinks he's a wild cougar.

When she's not working her two part time jobs and her full time publishing job, she divides her time between writing, Facebook, designing, and managing her household. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, rocking out to the radio, and tabletop board games.

She is passionate about both reading and writing teen fiction, and is pretty sure she will forever be eighteen at heart.

Twitter: @andruscaroline

Sunday, April 28, 2019

GoT: What I Want to See - Brienne

As I sit anxiously awaiting this week's episode of Game of Thrones (The Battle of Winterfell), I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to see happen, especially for Ser Brienne of Tarth. Since I'm pretty sure she's on the chopping block in this upcoming episode (did you see how happy she was when Ser Jaime knighted her?!), I need to get these hopes out to the world now before they are rendered completely irrelevant.

I've seen a lot of talk since last week's episode (S8:E2) where people talk about how they're pretty sure that Brienne is in love with Jaime, but I just don't see that. I think Brienne respects Jaime as a soldier, much like she had such great respect for Renley Baratheon because of how he treated her and what he did for her at her birthday party when she was younger. Remember, everyone thought she was so devoted to Renley because she was in love with him, but she told Jaime she knew he was gay. Instead, she was devoted because when all the other boys at her party made a joke out of treating her kindly, Renley was truly kind. And let's face it, when all is said and done, Jaime Lannister is every asshole that made a joke out of Brienne. But before he lost his hand defending her, he was a damn good knight, and that's something, along with his defense of her honor, that she can respect deeply.

But maybe I'm wrong and she really does love Jaime. I hope not though, because I'm pretty sure that relationship would turn toxic real quick. For one thing, now that Jaime has lost a hand, Brienne is easily the better knight, and while Jaime can be okay with that at the moment, do you really think he wouldn't start to resent Brienne in a romantic relationship? She's even the reason he lost his hand in the first place. And when he starts to resent her prowess, he'd just chime in, "You're only a knight because I knighted you and it's your fault I lost a hand." About the only thing Jaime would really bring to that table is the ability to make pretty babies. So for anyone currently shipping Jaime and Brienne, I hope you don't get your wish.

I know I'm not alone in shipping Brienne and Tormund, and I still desperately want Brienne to recognize what she could have in Tormund. Tormund is a man who has been enamored with her from the second he saw her for being exactly who she is. He loves her size, he loves her strength, and he's astounded that she wasn't already a knight. He was the first one to suggest that she should be and mean it. Brienne deserves a man who will love her for being who she is, and Tormund does that. I even imagine he'd brag about her being a better fighter than he is; it would be a source of pride for him.

But I understand why Brienne would be hesitant, and even why she would seem repelled by his actions. For one thing, as a wildling, his etiquette by nobility standards is sorely lacking. But more importantly, it's not a whole lot different from the assholes at her party. They made her believe they were truly interested in her just to make a joke out of her, and I'm willing to bet that's not the first or last time that happened. So Tormund acting interested in her would naturally be a turnoff at this point in her life. It's safer not to trust him and get her hopes up. I just want her to realize that he's being genuine, and that maybe, just maybe, she could be really happy with him.

So what do you think? Are you team Jaime or team Tormund? Or are you team "she's dying anyway so it doesn't matter anymore"? - Katie

Saturday, January 26, 2019

*Stacking the Shelves* 26 January 2019

(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too, which covers the books I receive through Netgalley. So my STS post will feature all the books I've been one-clicking on Amazon. 

I skipped the past two weeks of STS due to being overwhelmed with work and not feeling like I had the time to build the post, so this is three weeks worth of one-clicks. All Goodreads First Reads ebook wins unless otherwise specified.

Because I Said I Would by Alex Sheen
Little Hands Praying God's Wisdom for Myself by Hope McCardy, Lisa Bastian, and Brooke and Lee
Thanks Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years by David Litt - I had some Great on Kindle credit expiring so I used it to buy this book. 
The Five Horsemen by Shawn Raymond Poalillo
On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights by Andi Simon
Threshold by J.M. Kaukola
Lucy by Thea Ramsay
Journey to Territory M by L.J. Epps
Absolution by Ellen J. Green
Valentine's Days and Nights by various authors - I snagged this book as a freebie (maybe still free) after seeing it shared by I think Penny Reid either on her page or in her fan group. 
Fulfillment: A Journey Through a Spiritual Life by ICA ICA
The Long Hot Summer by Steven Wilkens
The Simple Soul of Susan by Noel Branham
Death by Dog Show by Arlene Kay
Love, Lucy by Lucille Ball - I snagged this audiobook for just $2.95 as an Audible Daily Deal because I'm a big fan of celebrity memoirs as audiobooks. 
War of the Wilted by Amber Mitchell - I grabbed this book on sale for just 99 cents. I'd been approved for it through Netgalley, but not gotten around to reading it yet, so when I saw it for so cheap, I just bought it. 
Code 47 to BREV Force: CRACKO by F Barish-Stern 
Sherlock Holmes and the 12 Days of Christmas by Roger Riccard
Outcast by Darren Greer
A Merciful Fate by Kendra Elliot
Alice Rackham: Obsession, Death and a British Film Star by F.R. Jameson
The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success by Teresa A. Taylor
The Horn Mansion by Brady Ridgway
I'm Here by Christy Chafe
Death Blooms by Yolanda Olson - I snagged this book as a freebie (no longer free) because I'm absolutely in love with the cover. 
Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner - I grabbed this book for free (no longer free) after seeing it shared on the author's Facebook page. 
The Voyages of Trueblood Cay by Suanne Laqueur - This is a preorder that went live on Thursday. Even though I'm so behind on reading Laqueur books, I know I'm going to want this one. 
A Thread of Darkness by B.E. Stefanko
Hearts Among Ourselves by A. Happy Umwagarwa
Get Back Up: From the Streets to Microsoft Suites by George A Santino
Speaking in Tungs by Karla M. Jay
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman - I snagged this book on sale for just $1.99 (no longer on sale). I occasionally enjoy reading non-fiction and medieval Europe appeals to me. 
Everything Trump Touches, Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever by Rick Wilson - I had Great on Kindle credits that were getting ready to expire, so I used them to splurge on this. 
Wildflower Heart by Grace Greene
Dancing in the Shadows of Love by Judy Croome
Broken Beauty: Piecing Together Lives Shattered by Early-Onset Alzheimer's by Sarah B. Smith
The Social Edge: The Power of Sympathy Groups for Our Health, Wealth and Sustainable Future by Anthony Costello
Feed by Mira Grant - I grabbed this book on sale for just $2.99 (no longer on sale) because it just looks really interesting. 
Silent Holy Knight by Todd Houchin
The Soul of a Team by Tony Dungy
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh - I snagged this book on sale for just $2.99 (no longer on sale). I've had my eye on this book for a while so I was excited to see it on sale. 
Hauntings by Various Authors - I snagged this anthology for just $1.99 (no longer on sale). It's been a while since I've read a horror, so hopefully I'll find some time for this soon. 
Ghostly Tales: Spine-Chilling Stories of the Victorian Age by Various Authors - I got this book for just $2.99 (still $2.99). Based on the reviews, the stories aren't particularly scary, but I enjoy historical fiction too so...
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby A.H. Wilkinson - I snagged this on sale for just $1.99 (no longer on sale). This could be a great resource for a research paper in the future, maybe. 
Happy Doomsday by David Sosnowski - I got this book on sale for just $1.99 (no longer on sale). I'm a big fan of dystopian novels, so this should be right up my alley. 

And that is all the new books I picked up over the past three weeks. Compared to some of my weekly hauls leading up to Christmas, this is kind of pathetic, but it's also good to see that I can slow down sometimes. 

What new books have you added to your shelves recently? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can stop by and see all your new pretties.*

Thursday, January 24, 2019

*Book Blogger Hop* 25 January 2019

We are on to a new week for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by the lovely folks over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This weeks questions is:
How many books did you read last year? Will your goal be to match that number or surpass it? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)
According to Goodreads, in 2018, I read 105 books, which is five fewer books than I read in 2017. This number is somewhat misleading however because I work as a freelance proofreader. Not all of the books that I proofread (especially towards the end of the year) are even listed on Goodreads yet, so I read more books than I was able to claim credit for. Not many, but at least a few.

While I would like to say that my goal this year would be to surpass the number, as I get busier with proofreading which takes more time than just reading, I don't see that as being possible. But beyond that, I look more toward the number of pages read than the number of books completed. I could go on a short story or children's book kick and read 100 books in just a few days without really adding many pages to my numbers at all. And while I would have read more books, in the end I would have read less overall (especially if I were reading children's books which have fewer words per page than the average novel). And while I'm on the topic of pages read...even though I read five fewer books last year than in 2017, I read 400 more pages (and that's just with the books I've been able to count).

So no, I'm not really worried about surpassing the number of books read, and will instead simply strive to read more pages if at all possible.

What about you? How many books did you read last year and are you going to try to read more this year? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can stop by and see your answer.*

Monday, January 21, 2019

*Top Ten Tuesday* Books I Meant to Read in 2018 (But Didn't)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This week’s theme is books I meant to read in 2018 but didn't get around to. Now I'm sure I'm really ready for this list, and if I included all the books that I didn't get around to reading in 2018 but wanted to it would be WAY longer than ten. I am a mood reader (when I'm not proofreading at least), so I will add books to my list to read on a whim, but by the time I have the time to sit down and read them, they're no longer drawing my immediate attention. And I do that a LOT. Add in books that I win from Goodreads and my TBR is literally never-ending.

So I'm going to try to focus this list on books I meant to read in 2018 that I'm going to really try to get around to in 2019. With that in mind, here we go.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

A False Report by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Trumpets of Jericho by J. Michael Dolan

As I already mentioned, this is just a fraction of the books that I'd intended to read at some point in 2018 but never found the time for, but these are near the top of my "I really need to read this soon" list for 2019. 

What are some books that you wanted to read in 2018 but never found the time for? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can stop by and see your list.*