Monday, December 11, 2017

Collections I Read For Literature Classes

6285955I had to read stories from this collection for my literature class. These are the stories and my thoughts:

Collection #1 Will You Please Be Quiet, Pleas?
Fat- This was an interesting story. It has a lot of Carver's main themes. It's nice, but nothing remarkable. (2 stars)
Neighbors- I will never ask someone to watch my house while I'm away. This was too weird and because of that it was incredibly entertaining. (3 stars)
The Idea- I read this one yesterday to decide if I wanted to read any more stories this collection and it convinced me that I'm not interested. This story was pointless. (1 star)
They're Not Your Husband- What a pig. That guy was a huge jerk. (3 stars)
Are You a Doctor?- That was weird. I felt as confused as that man in the story. (1 star)
The Father- Super short and minimalist, but nothing special. However, I really liked it? (3.5 stars)
What's in Alaska?- I loved this story. I wrote about in my paper on Carver. It's just really entertaining. (4 stars)
What Is It?- It's depressing, but it also feels like something is missing. (Which there probably is because Carver's earlier stories were heavily cut and edited.) [3 stars]

Collection #3 What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Why Don't You Dance?- There was just something about this that I really liked. It's pretty short, but there's something about it. (3.75 stars)
Mr. Coffee and Mr. Fixit- This was confusing and just overall an underwhelming story. (1 star)
Gazebo- This was a strong story. It's probably one of his stronger ones. (4 stars)
I Could See the Smallest Things- Super short and just unnecessary. (2 stars)
The Bath- This one is depressing and bleak. (3.5 stars)
A Serious Talk- This one fits the holiday seasons and fits that one family member who purposely sets to ruin a holiday every year. (2 stars)
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love- This one is interesting and it kind of reminds of Plato's Symposium, but it's a much more minimalist and the philosophy isn't as broad. (3.25 stars)

Collection #5 Cathedral
A Small Good Thing- This was an original manuscript of The Bath and I prefer it much more. (4 stars)
Where I'm Calling From- Slightly depressing, but also kind of weird. (3 stars)
Cathedral- This story was really amazing. The ending was beautiful. (5 stars)

Overall Thoughts: I am not a huge fan of Carver. In fact, I remain to be unimpressed by him. He has a few good stories and one really great one, but to me he doesn't hold up. I don't know if I'll every finish reading this whole collection as of now, but maybe in the future, I'll want to revisit Carver.

Rating (as of 12/9/2017): 3 stars




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4.5 stars

The entirety of Of Poetry and Protest is gripping, moving, heartbreaking, and real. It's full of grit and truths that Americans sometimes look away from when it comes to the black community and this book expresses the plights of different sects within that community. It's an amazing collection and I tabbed so many poems. There were a handful of poems that I was personally not a fan (hence, why it is a 4.5 and not a 5-star rating), but there were so many wonderful poems that gripped me and moved me to my core. These are the type of poetry collections that should be gaining recognition, not stuff like milk and honey. This is the stuff that speaks for everyone and has truths that dig deep into the soul. I highly recommend checking Of Poetry and Protest out if you haven't because I promise you, it is an amazing experience.


I'm currently reading this book for my poetry class and this is just such a beautifully well-done novel. It's so wonderfully crafted and I'm so happy that I bought a copy instead of renting it. I'll be documenting the poems that I read in class.

Narrative: Ali, a poem in twelve rounds- Elizabeth Alexander
I absolutely adore the layout of this poem. It's genius and the poem itself is very different. It follows Muhammad Ali in twelve different sections. It has a lot of wonderful lines. I was really impressed with it.

Protest Poetry- Amiri Baraka
This is an essay on Baraka's stance on protest poetry and he has a very strong presence on the page. His spoken poems are even stronger. He was definitely an important cornerstone in the poetry movement. I'm glad I was introduced to him.

Fannie (of Fannie Lou Hamer)- Angela Jackson
I don't know. I wasn't a fan of this one. It didn't speak to me or move me. I just feel very indifferent towards it.

I Hear the Shuffle of the People's Feet- Sterling Plumpp
I really liked this piece. It's longer than a lot of the others in this collection, but it has a strong presence and touches on so many themes while painting this grand picture of the black struggle from a slave ship to Civil Rights. Really well done.

No Wound of Exit- Patricia Smith
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this poem. It made me cry. It hurt my heart and most of all I felt the picture that Smith was painting all the way down to the core of my soul. This is good poetry. I'm a fan of Smith for sure now.

Are you a fan of poetry or short stories? Who are your favorite poets / short story writers? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Angel Fever by L.A. Weatherly

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Angel Fever by L.A. Weatherly

Third book in the Angel Trilogy

2.25 stars

Angel Fever picks up right where Angel Fire leaves off and wraps up Willow, Alex, and Seb’s story with defeating the angels who have come and started to feed off humans parasitically. The problem with angels is that they leave the humans they feed off harmed and if they are fed off enough they will develop Angel Burn- when a human is mentally gone, but physically present. So, the premise of this trilogy is great. The first book was a solid 5 star-read and I still stand by that rating of the first novel. I absolutely adored the first novel. I loved the characters, the plot, the villain, and the romance. I was a huge fan of Angel Burn. However, the sequel Angel Fire was a big disappoint for me. I gave it 4 stars, but I don’t know if I would call it a 4 star-read. To me Angel Burn has held up in my head, but Angel Fire has decreased mainly because I remember the distaste I had while reading the novel and I was not a fan of the points the series chose take. I was particularly put off by the introduction of Sebastian (or Seb) another half-angel who serves no other purpose than to be the other point in a love triangle.


Now that we’ve discussed my wavering feelings to this trilogy, let’s talk about the final book, Angel Fever. I’m not a huge fan of it. In fact, I would compare this series decline to that of Divergent. A strong, first novel, a mediocre sequel, and a cringeworthy ending. This novel was cringeworthy. It made me uncomfortable. This is mainly due to the atrocious writing. It is not strong and I will give several examples as to issues I had with the writing. The main problem is the sentence structures that Weatherly chooses to use. They are absolutely cringey.
“The part of you that’s here is still twenty-one. I guess you always will be. But in the other world, you’re old enough to be Willow’s mother.” – Alex as he talks to Willow’s mother. Obviously, she’s old enough to be Willow’s mother because SHE IS!
The dialogue is stilted and doesn’t flow well. It doesn’t feel natural and it made me uncomfortable. Also, this book is predictable and I will tackle that in the character section, but I called literally every single event that happened in this novel. Not one thing was shocking or thrilling. There were no plot twists. It was a steady trek up the mountain from point A to B and that can sometimes benefit the story, but it was lackluster and boring.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.25

The main female character is Willow. Willow has become more of a horrible and selfish person as the series progresses. She is obsessed with thinking that the world revolves around her and then is offended when things revolve around her getting her head out of her ridiculous love triangle and actually having to do something. She also thinks that everything Seb does is because of her, but doesn’t want him to love her. She perpetuates his unhealthy obsession because she is offended when he is not obsessing over her. It’s ridiculous. There’s a quote that perfectly sums Willow’s outlook on life and how I feel about her, “You know, I’ve heard a saying here: You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Well, I’m making up a new saying: You can’t refuse cake and then get upset when someone else takes it.”
Willow is also indecisive and can’t not only make up her mind about which man she would prefer to shove her tongue into, but she also wants to pick fights with people at the most inconvenient times. The time to tell someone you were intimate with another man is not within days of angels attacking and possibly killing all of you. She’s an idiot.



Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 1

The main male characters are Alex and Seb. Okay, so I’m going to talk about spoilers that are major to this novel, so don’t click unless you have already read this novel or if you don’t care  Alex ends up entering the angel realm and leaving the human realm. This causes Willow to believe he is dead and I called that Alex wasn’t dead, but just another ploy for grief and for making this story longer than it needed to be. I wrote in my notes that he would be back by the 65% mark, I was wrong he was back the 60% mark. It was just distasteful and it was totally obvious that he wasn’t dead, but Willow has the IQ of a tadpole and I’ve never seen her use higher level thinking, so I’m sure that’s why she couldn’t put two and two together and wind up with four.  Alex also isn’t as swoony as he used to be. He is the best character of these three, but he was just a little too much. I don’t know. I just wasn’t feeling him. Don’t get me started on Seb, though. It must be a half-angel thing because he was as angsty as Willow. If he wasn’t whining about Willow not loving him then he was whining about having to break up Meghan even though he was in lover with her. UGH.

Also, I’ve never liked Seb and Willow together, so that scene where they are about to almost have sex is so gross and I would like to scrub it from my memory.


Swoon Worthy Scale: Alex- 3 Seb- 1.25

The Villain- Raziel is the one shining light in this series, but he isn’t even the best villain in literature. Still, he is a lot of fun to read about and his POVs were the best part of this novel.


Villain Scale: 3.75

There are a lot of characters introduced in this novel. Characters come back from book 1 and 2. It’s a lot. To be honest, I don’t care about a single one of them and they are all irrelevant to me. There wasn’t enough characterization on characters outside of Willow, Raziel, Alex, and Seb and that made it hard for me to connect with any of them.


Character Scale: 2

The only sad thing about this finale was that Willow’s angel will never be able to fly again and that she is forever trapped within Willow. That was sad,  but besides that nothing of consequence really happens and this series ends up on a cheesy and happy note. If you loved Angel Burn, if weary of recommending the rest of the series, because for the me it wasn’t worth it. However, I recommend trying the second book and using that to decide if you want to continue. If you don’t finish the sequel or don’t like, then don’t pick this one up.


Plotastic Scale: 2.25

Cover Thoughts: Is this a Pantene commercial? This is my least favorite cover in this trilogy, but I love the color palette.


Thank you, Netgalley and Candlewick, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Angel Burn and its sequels? What are some series that started off strong, but disappointed you? Let me know down below in the comments!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fall Semester Reading Wrap-Up

Hi, everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and that you have been reading a few good book recently! I have missed doing wrap-ups and just talking about the books I've read recently. However, I will no longer be doing monthly video wrap-ups because I much prefer reviewing books in separate videos on my channel. I will be sticking strictly to written wrap-ups (if I actually follow through for more than one month). I will not be wrapping-up just November in this post, but August-November, which is essentially my fall semester.

BOOKS READ IN AUGUST:
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Firestarter by Stephen King- 5 stars This in my opinion is one of King's better novels. The themes are evocative and the relationship between Charlie and her father are strong and heart-wrenching. Plus, this novel is exhilarating. The final "battle" scenes are one of the most intense and horrifying final showdowns I've come across in a novel. If you are a fan of Carrie, then you'll love this. It's like MK ULTRA brought to life through King.
 Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh- 4.75 stars This is a remarkably slow, but intense psychological novel about Eileen, who works at a juvenile prison. It is one of the best character studies I've read and I highly recommend it is you are interested in slow stories that build-up to a bang. Check out my review here.
The Whisperer in Darkness- H.P. Lovecraft 4 stars This is one of Lovecraft's better works and I'm almost done with the monstrous bind-up of 20 collected stories that I've been making way through for almost two years. Lovecraft is a hit or miss with me. This one is a hit, but it is also not a memorable one.
When I Am Through With You- Stephanie Kuehn 5 stars This is an intense psychological YA thriller that has been a hit or miss with Kuehn fans. I'm a new fan to Kuehn since reading The Smaller Evil and finding it brilliant. I was so excited for this one and it was leaps and bounds better than The Smaller Evil. It was intense, cruel, and shocking. More YA authors need to reach for this level in the YA thriller genre. Check out my review here.
The Beguiled- Thomas Cullinan 3.25 stars I was excited for this one because I've never read Civil War fiction before, but this was a bit of a bore. There were moments where I was totally engrossed and the drama was enrapturing, but a good bit of the time, I didn't feel like picking this one up and had to force myself to read a couple of pages. It took me far longer to read this book than I intended. Don't know if I would recommend it.
The Outsiders- S.E. Hinton 5 stars I've been meaning to read The Outsiders since I saw the movie a couple of years ago and I hadn't gotten around to it. I was planning to read it for BookTube-A-Thon, but since I didn't I decided to take it with me to college. The minute I finished The Beguiled I started The Outsiders and was instantly smitten. This is a beautiful story that tackles themes like social class, friendship, and youth dying. It was emotionally moving and I now know why everyone loves it so much.
Beasts Made of Night- Tochi Onyebuchi DNF 2 stars I wanted to love this one. It sounded like it would be wonderful and I thought I would love it. However, I struggled to get past page 50 and I knew I couldn't make it to page 100. I sadly had to DNF it. Check out my review here.

Thoughts on August: Overall, August was a successful reading month for me despite how busy I was with band camp, moving into my first apartment, and returning to university. I had four books that I would consider favorites of this year and have made it onto that shelf. I only DNFed one book, which while I'm sad about, I also am happy that I didn't force myself to finish it because time while you are in college is precious and I don't have time to waste on books I'm not enjoying. Completely five novels and short story is a pretty successful month of reading for me!


BOOKS READ IN SEPTEMBER:
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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God- Jonathan Edwards 1 star This is my second time reading this and I still abhor it with a passion. If this all the Christian literature that is tackled in schools, then it continues to perpetuate negative views toward Christians. Read my review here.
The Things They Carried- Tim O'Brien 4.5 stars Another reread for me, but this time I absolutely loved this novel. It totally blew me away and my professor taught this novel in a way that spoke to me. My high school teacher preferred us to tell her what it was about, but this is not the kind of the novel for that literary study. I loved it so much that I'm letting my dad read it. Check out my review here.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust- 5 stars I read an ARC of this on my phone and it was a wonderful Snow White retelling. I absolutely loved and adored this novel. It stole my heart and has themes that break the barriers of typical fantasy novels. Check out my review here.

Thoughts on September: My reading month wasn't nearly as productive as August, but that's because there were a lot of football games and a ton of essays to write. Even though my reading month wasn't great, I read two novels that made it to my favorite shelf. That to me is a huge accomplishment.

BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER:
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Young Goodman Brown- Nathaniel Hawthorne 4.25 stars I wasn't the biggest fan of The Scarlet Letter, but I really enjoyed Young Goodman Brown. I personally think that Hawthorne is a better short story writer than novelist. Check out my review here.
Interpreter of Maladies- Jhumpa Lahiri 4.25 stars I read this for my lit class and after reading The Things They Carried it paled a bit in comparison, but it was a lot of fun to read short stories from the Indian culture. It's a culture I'm not very familiar with, but I really enjoyed this and plan on checking out another Lahiri collection.
The Tell-Tale Heart- Edgar Allan Poe 4.75 stars This was my first time reading this story and I really enjoyed it, but the writing snagged a bit at certain parts. Check out my review here.
The Fall of the House of Usher- Edgar Allan Poe 4.5 stars This was a great story, but it is a little long and a couple of paragraphs could've been cut. Check out my review here.
The Cask of Amontillado- Edgar Allan Poe 5 stars I reread this and it was amazing. This is one of my favorite Poe stories as well as short stories. It's fantastic. Check out my review here.
The Raven- Edgar Allan Poe 5 stars This is like my umpteenth reread and it still holds up. There is a reason why this poem is so iconic and a major influence in literature. Check out my review here.
The Norton Anthology American Literature Beginnings to 1820- 2.75 stars (for the stories I read) I had to read this for my American Lit class and we covered a large portion of the stories in here. Check out my review here.
Lamb to the Slaughter- Roald Dahl 5 stars My best friend told me about the short story with the preface that if she were to kill someone this is how she would do it. I was instantly intrigued and this is my first time reading anything by Dahl and color me impressed. This is a quick story, but it packs a punch! Check out my review here.
The Haunter of the Dark- H.P. Lovecraft 4.25 stars Now this is Lovecraft done right. Some of his stories are a real drag and hard to get through (even the 20 page ones), but this one was intense, creepy, and a lot of fun.
Revolutionary Road- Richard Yates 5 STARS! This is a new all-time favorite for me. This novel was so emotionally gripping and cringey. I loved it to bits and pieces. I've recommended this to several people and I also adore the film. It's a masterpiece. If you love suburban living stories, tragedy, and classics, then this one is for you!
My Fair Princess- Vanessa Kelly DNF 2 stars I thought that I would enjoy this historical romance, but sadly this book lacked substance and it was not fun. This is the first HR I've ever DNFed and I don't regret it. Check out my review here.
Daughters Unto Devils- Amy Lukavics 4.25 stars This was the perfect horror read for Halloween. It was creepy and it had me slightly paranoid. It also featured pigs and I hate pigs (thanks, Spirited Away), so I was definitely spooked. Check out my review here.

Thoughts on October: October was an incredibly successful reading month. I felt so productive and I read one of my favorite books of the year for a class. All the books and short stories I read were pretty good and the only real dud was My Fair Princess.
BOOKS READ IN NOVEMBER: 
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Different Seasons- Stephen King 4.75 stars overall I started King's famous novella collection at the end of August and finished it November. There are some incredibly strong stories in this collection and the majority of them are inspirations for movies that are considered to be the greatest films of all time. I would rank them in this order:
Apt Pupil- 5 stars This follows a young boy who is obsessed with Jewish concentration camps and discovers that a former SS Nazis lives in his town. What unfolds is a disgusting and horrifying game of cat and mouse. This has one of the best endings I've ever read and it was one of King's most horrifying novels. It doesn't need werewolves, ghosts, or vampires because he looks at the true monsters- the ones that look just like us.
The Breathing Method- 4.75 stars This is the final story in the collection and it is very eerie. King sets the tone with a man narrating a story he was told in a club that he attends. I have so many theories on the club and its meaning to the story itself, but it took a horrifying turn.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption- 4.75 stars  I LOVE THIS MOVIE! The novella is great, too, but it is lacking a certain something. I think it has something to do with the characters that the movie chose to flesh out. I wanted more of those characters, but they aren't really present here. Still amazing though.
The Body- 4.25 stars This is the movie Stand By Me is based on and it's a classic. I really enjoyed it, but again, it was lacking something. The novella was also a little to long winded, but it's a very unique story and different from a lot of King's works.
Donners of the Dead- Karina Halle 4.5 stars Another horror novel! In the last recent months I've been a horror kick. This novel was a lot fun because 1) Donner party 2) zombies 3) it's a horror romance, which I'm pretty sure is a sub-genre Halle made up. Check out my review here.
The Crime Book- 2.25 stars (subject to change) I really thought I'd love this. I'm a huge true crime fan, but this was boring and tedious after a while. Plus they didn't cover some of the most famous in certain sections and I'm pretty sure my ARC copy was missing at least 75 pages. Hoping to write a review for this one soon.
Murder on the Orient Express- Agatha Christie 4 stars I finally read another Christie. This one is not nearly as good as And Then There Were None and I was planning to give it a 3-2.25 stars, but the reveal was so masterfully done and well-plotted. It made sense! All the signs were there and I hadn't guessed it at all.
The Screwtape Letters- C.S. Lewis 5 stars I've been reading this one for quite some time. It is not a novel that I can fly through in a day, even though it is very short. I absolutely loved the chapters and the Christian philosophy that Lewis broaches. Also the ending was beautiful and wonderful.
The Norton Anthology American Literature 1820-1865- 3.41 stars I was introduced to some amazing writers in this collection and I definitely plan on checking out their novels. Check out my review here.
The Easter Parade- Richard Yates 4.25 stars This is no Revolutionary Road and it's good, but it's not great. The ending is what really made me lower my rating from a 4.5 to 4.25, but I'm still glad that I read it.

Thoughts on November: November was a pretty successful reading month. Not as good as October, but still a good month overall. Two of the books made it onto my favorites shelf and I would highly recommend them.

Currently Reading/Hoping to Finish in December:
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Great Tales of Horror by H.P. Lovecraft I'm currently on the last story in this collection and I'm just ready to finally finish this mammoth collection that I've been reading for almost two years.
Angel Fever by L.A. Weatherly I started this on January 4th and I would like to finish this trilogy. This is the worst book in the trilogy by far and I'm not a fan of it, but I'm determined to finish what I've become invested in.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck This is my second time reading East of Eden and it's not as much of a priority to finish. My goal is to just get halfway through it, but if I finish it that would be great because I would like to reread a King novel next.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens This is my current audiobook and I have a pretty good feeling that I'll finish this one before the end of the year.
Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts I did not purchase this textbook for my Harry Potter & Philosophy class to only read six chapters. I will read all the other chapters because I can.
The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles Similarly to the aforementioned HP textbook for class.
Against Forgetting- Carolyn Forche Another textbook for class that I will be finishing. I'm about 1/5 of the way through these poems and I'm going to finish this collection.
Helter Skelter- Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry I started this before Manson died and before AHS: Cult incorporated him into Kai's psychological devolving. So far, it's very well-done and I really like the style. I'm hoping that this will be a true crime novel that I love and will recommend.
Of Poetry & Protest Another text for class that I plan on finishing. I'm actually over 50% of the way through it and I highly recommend this poetry collection. It's beautiful and well-done.
Branded by Keary Taylor I'm currently trying to clean out Kindle reads that I bought when I first acquired my Kindle and this is next on the list. I've started and so far, I may DNF it.
A Wilderness Station- Alice Munro I read a bunch of stories in this collection for class and I want to read the whole collection.
The Girl with All the Gifts- M.R. Carey I'm currently reading this on my iPhone and I'm really enjoying it. It's anywhere from a 3.5-4.25 star read at the moment, but I'm not at the 50% mark yet so there is a lot of room for my opinion to change.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik- I'm in the mood for fantasy and this is delivering so far. It feels like coming home. I'm adoring it.
Collected Cover by Raymond Carver I read a bunch of his stories for class, but I think I'm going to read a couple more and then decide if I want to finish the collection or not.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on these novels? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

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Note: I wrote this review in September, but I somehow forgot to post it on here because I have a horrible memory when it comes to blogging.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

4.5 stars

I feel like I should preface this review by saying, I’m a shitty reviewer. I read this book as a junior in high school for my AP English class and I’m only reviewing it now because I reread it as a sophomore in college for Introduction to Literary Studies class. However, I’m glad I didn’t write a review a couple years ago because in all honesty the teacher I had didn’t teach us about this book and I missed out so much because of that. This book is amazing and I feel like the biggest lesson I took away from rereading this novel as a future educator is that it matters how you present and teach a novel to students. This is not a novel that students should use scaffolding and Socratic seminars for. This is a novel that is meant to be lectured about because it will go over a young person’s head otherwise. I originally gave this novel 3.5 stars and that doesn’t hold up. This novel deserves much more than that. This novel is a cinematic masterpiece (is that a slight pun based off of the last stories?) and focuses heavily on the concept of storytelling. O’Brien is a wonderful writer and I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to reread this novel and experience it as an adult with more experience.


I still have my notes in my notebook from my first reading of this book. I’ll list them quickly and say whether this observation still holds up before I get to my full review which will be a breakdown of each story.
Original Thoughts:
• Shockingly entertaining. Now: Probably not the best descriptor for a war novel, but this novel is both shocking and entertaining. This was the first war novel I read and I think that I wasn’t expecting to like this or be entertained as much as I was. I have read a few war novels since and I actually love war novels. They are important facets in understanding humanity and the world we live in.
• Great depiction of war. Now: 100% agree. I think I’m even more aware of just how true this statement is as an adult.
• Loved the question of what’s real or fiction, but after a while it became annoying. Now: This refers to the Side B of the book and spoiler, but not really because it says it on the title page, all this is made up. It’s just that stories. There’s some truth in it because it’s a story and all stories are based on some level of truth. It is not annoying to me now, but that’s because I already knew what to expect with the majority of the stories and was aware of O’Brien’s level of pettiness. I think he’s a masterful storyteller and I’m surprised he’s not more acclaimed because he outshines a majority of writers by far.
• A lot of great scenes. Now: I didn’t not realize that these “scenes” were short stories. Didn’t get the memo. LOL
• Whether it is all real or metaphors this book was still impactful. Now: Still a true statement.
• O’Brien knows how to write. Now: At least I was aware of great writing back then and knew what it looked like.


Most of my thoughts still hold up, but I want to tackle each story and my thoughts on each story because I feel like that better convey how well-done this novel is and how if you haven’t picked this novel up then you should. However, there will be spoilers, so tread with caution if you don’t want to know who dies. SPOILER: It’s a war story.


Side A- My professor described this book as a vinyl record with a Side A and a Side B. Side A focuses more on the stories of the soldiers in O’Brien’s platoon. When you look at it in that way it makes the stories easier to see as just that stories that may have a little bit of truth sprinkled in them.

“The Things They Carried”
This story follows Lieutenant Jimmy Cross and his guilt over Ted Lavender’s death. It focuses on the burdens the soldiers carry- physical and mental. It’s a little slow in certain parts, but it’s a strong opener and it’s one of the best stories in this novel.
Favorite Quote: “They carried all the weight they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.”

“Love”
This is a story from the character Tim O’Brien’s PoV about Jimmy Cross’ love for Martha, the girl he carried a picture of in the previous story. It’s short and quick, but this is what I consider to be the first hinting that this is a story and not a true story.

“Spin”
This a metafiction piece that focuses on the spin that a story can take.
Favorite Quote: “Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are fore joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got form where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story."

“On the Rainy River”
This follows O’Brien and a story he has never told before. The story of when he almost went to Canada to escape the draft. It’s a very powerful piece and it’s one of the longer stories in this novel, but I think it’s long because it’s so personal and it’s one of the truer pieces. Plus, it has a wise old man to guide him to make the right decision. I still don’t know if that man was real or not, but he fits into the message that all great journeys have wise old men (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.) to help the young hero.
Favorite Quote: “I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.”

“Enemies”
This is a three-page look into the paranoia that sets in when two members of a platoon are at war with each other while being at war.
Favorite Quote: “Like fighting two different wars, he said. No safe ground: enemies everywhere. No front or rear.”

“Friends”
A quick look at the turn-around between Strunk and Jensen from the previous story and their friendship.

“How to Tell a True War Story”
This is one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. It tells the story of Curt Lemon’s death five times in true war story fashion. It’s brilliant and beautiful. A little sick when it comes to the lemon tree thing, but it shows how genius this book and each individual story is.
Favorite Quote: Pretty much the whole story. I have 20 sections highlighted and five of them are starred. I can’t decide which quotes are my favorite because they are brilliant quotes and to take them out of context destroys the context of a true war story.

“Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”
This is my favorite story in the collection. It is told by O’Brien who is telling the story through Rat Kiley about Mary Anne and how she was brought to Vietnam by her boyfriend. Mary Anne is the most important thing about this book because she shows how people can be hardened physically and mentally as she becomes a part of the land until she is nothing left but a story.
Favorite Quote: “You just don’t know,” she said. “You hide in this little fortress, behind wire and sandbags, and you don’t know… Sometimes I just want to eat this place. The whole country—the dirt, the death— I just want to swallow it and have it there inside me. That’s how I feel. It’s like this appetite. I get scared sometimes— lots of times—but it’s not that bad. You know? I feel close to myself. When I’m out there at night, I feel close to my own body, I can feel my blood moving, my skin and my fingernails, everything, it’s like I’m full of electricity and I’m glowing in the dark—I’m on fire almost—I’m burning away into nothing—but it doesn’t matter because I know exactly who I am. You can’t feel like that anywhere else.”

“Stockings”
The magic of Dobbins’ girlfriend’s stockings. Nothing special, but it’s funny.

“Church”
Kiowa and Dobbins talk about being a minister after the monks in a pagoda take a liking to Dobbins.
Favorite Quote: I do like churches. The way it feels inside. It feels good when you just sit there, like you’re in a forest and everything’s really quiet, except there’s still sound you can’t hear.”

Side B- This section focuses more on Tim O’Brien and O’Brien’s personal stories during the war, before the war, and after the war.

“The Man I Killed”
This story follows the man O’Brien killed and his projection of himself and his past onto the story of the man.
Favorite Quote: “His life was now a constellation of possibilities.”

“Ambush”
This story follows how O’Brien killed the man he killed during an ambush after his daughter ambushes him with whether or not he killed someone during the war.
Favorite Quote: “For me, it was not a matter of live or die. I was in no real peril. Almost certainly the young man would have passed me by. And it will always be that way."

“Speaking of Courage”
This is the saddest story in the book for me. I cried so hard because it is about Norman Bowker after the war circling around the lake in his hometown and his desire to tell the story of Kiowa’s death and how he can’t. I cried because Bowker’s sadness and inability to express himself is something I’ve seen reflected in my grandfather when he was alive and it pains me how common this is for veterans.
Favorite Quote: “Still, there was so much to say.
How the rain never stopped. How the cold worked into your bones. Sometimes the bravest thing on earth was to sit through the night and feel the cold in your bones. Courage was not always a matter of yes or no Sometimes it came in degrees, like the cold; sometimes you were very brave up to a point and then beyond that point you were not so brave. In certain situations you could do incredible things, you could advance toward enemy fire, but in other situations, which were not nearly so bad, you had trouble keeping your eyes open. Sometimes, like that night in the shit field, the difference between courage and cowardice was something small and stupid.
The way the earth bubbled. And the smell.”


“Notes”
This is where we learn that Bowker committed suicide and how it made O’Brien revisit and rewrite this story several times to convey what Bowker asked him to truly write about.
Favorite Quotes: “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.”

“In the Field”
This is a retelling Kiowa’s death in third person where we see Jimmy Cross and unnamed soldier (O’Brien) and the guilt they are facing. This is a really brilliant story predominately because of how O’Brien chooses to tell it and how he retells Kiowa death.
Favorite Quote: “In the field, though, the causes were immediate. A moment of carelessness or bad judgment or plain stupidity carried consequences that lasted forever.”

“Good Form”
Everything is a lie. LMAO I remember how pissed I was when I read this.
Favorite Quote: “I’m left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief.”

“Field Trip”
O’Brien takes his daughter, Kathleen, on a field trip to Vietnam and the shit field where Kiowa drowned. Still pissed that there is not Kathleen. I’ve been emotionally manipulated well.
Favorite Quote: “For twenty years this field had embodied all the waste that was Vietnam, all the vulgarity and horror.”

“The Ghost Soldiers”
This follows the story of O’Brien getting shot and no longer being in the field. It takes a toll on him and he also has an enemy to take revenge on. This is one of my least favorite stories and I don’t know what it is about it, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Favorite Quote: “I was the beast on their lips—I was Nam—the horror, the war.”

“Night Life”
This story focuses on why Rat Kiley isn’t medic anymore and it just so happens that first story foreshadowed what would happen. Coincidence? Definitely not.
Favorite Quote: “Like the nights had its own voice— that hum in your ears—and in the hours after midnight you’d swear you were walking through some kind of soft black protoplasm, Vietnam, the blood and the flesh.”

“The Lives of the Dead”
This story follows the story of Linda, O’Brien’s first love and his first encounter with death. It’s a beautiful story and really cements the overall theme and importance of storytelling. It’s harrowing.
Favorite Quote: “The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”

Overall, this is a marvelous collection of short stories as a whole that wonderfully come together to show the importance of telling stories and keeping alive and how essentially by writing this novel, O’Brien will live on forever when someone opens up this book.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Character Scale: 4

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I really like the cover. It’s not a favorite, but it’s a Vietnam photo and it fits.


Have you read The Things They Carried? What are some of your favorite war fiction novels? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Book Outlet Black Friday Unboxing

 

 

 
Hi, everyone! Finals week starts Monday and I was surprised with a giant package from Book Outlet today. It definitely put me in a great mood and uplifted my spirits. I placed this order during Book Outlet's Black Friday sale and I was super excited about all the books (gifts) that I bought.

Did you purchase any books for Black Friday? Have you read any of these books? Let me know down below in the comments!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Mish-Mash Book Haul + A Discussion

 
Hi, everyone! Today I'm posting my last book haul from the summer. In this book haul, I show an array of different books and I have a small discussion about the importance of young readers being exposed to darker, more adult themes in children's literature. I'd love to know your thoughts on the discussion!

THE BOOKS:
155213 1118668 34006942
31184891 23513349 18051056
828084 
Seven books isn't too bad! But, let's be honest this was a huge series of book hauls and I had a lot of books. Probably too many...as if there could be too many books! I've read 3/7 and none of the ones I read were historical fiction. I read The Tommyknockers and it is my favorite one out of this bunch. I gave it 4.5 stars and it has its fair share of problems, but I enjoyed it a lot. I also read milk and honey and it is an interesting collection...Initially I gave it 4 stars, but in all honesty I'm not sure about. I need to write my review and get my feelings out before I 100% say it's a four story poetry collection. I also read Pictures of Hollis Woods during BookTube-A-Thon in August, so I knocked that one out pretty quickly. I also have a review for it and I'll link it down below.

Review(s) of the Books:
Short Rundown: This is a quick read that is perfect for younger readers. It tackles themes like Alzheimer's, what makes a real family, and how we let people define us, but how we don't define ourselves.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on children reading books that may be considered too inappropriate for their age? Let me know down below in the comments!