Todd Reads

This books blog is now located at ToddReads.com. This is a change I have been considering for a while for many different reasons: expanding my audience and access to visitors, cost, and more. Shadyside.blog will point here for one additional year, but please make sure to change your links!

My Goodreads has been cleaned up. I am going to make a vigilant effort to regularly use it. I will list, update my progress on, and rate books I read there, but all book reviews will be here. Feel free to follow me on Goodreads if you are not already.

I told you guys that I would update you when I got my non-book web content online, and I forgot to do that when I launched my other domain last July; whoops. My other websites can be found at The Farplane (at Farplane.org). The Farplane is mostly a collection of static tributes to various characters I love from video games. There is no limit to my nerdery.

Finally, not really an update to the blog, but an update nonetheless: I am finishing college this month! I will no longer be stretching myself between working full time and going to school full time, so I should have more time for hobbies like reading for fun and updating this blog, so you should see more updates. Theoretically.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Animorphs: The Stranger

Animorphs The StrangerSo, funny story with The Stranger: I read this seventh book of the Animorphs series in 2018 a day or so after reading The Capture. I got ridiculously busy with school shortly after, and I did not get to write my recap. I tried to write it when life slowed down again, but the details of the book were fuzzy to me, and I knew I’d have to reread it again to do the book justice. Now, coming back to the series in 2021, I decided to go back to book 7, recap it properly, and move forward from it. I had considered moving on and rereading and recapping book 8, but the lack of a post for 7 would trigger my OCD, so here we are.

I actually listened to the audiobook for this “read.” The school I teach at this year is nearly an hour from my house, so I was able to get through the book in about two days. I loved the audiobook. This “read” made me appreciate this book so much more than I did before. It was never a favorite of mine, but now I think it is a really solid entry in the series.

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Making Criminals (The Hate U Give)

The Hate U GiveSo, a little backstory before I dive into this entry: When I was growing up, I loved Drew Barrymore, and Ever After was one of my favorite films starring her. Drew Barrymore’s character, Danielle De Barbarac, loved books, and the last book her father gave her before he died was Utopia by Thomas More. She quotes Utopia in the movie and lives by More’s ideals. She uses the book as a defense against selling servants, quoting More: “For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?” The book was published in 1516, so it is old, to say the least. What I find interesting is the idea of an “appearance of justice” More wrote about back then is remarkably similar to the “justice” (or lack thereof) Starr sees in The Hate U Give. 

More’s quote is interestingly similar to Tupac’s verse quoted in The Hate U Give: “The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everybody” (page 17). Both Tupac and More mention infants. Tupac says, “The Hate U Give Little Infants…” More writes, “…and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy…” Both are basically saying neither group is given an opportunity to be more than they are because they are not supported. They are born into their stations and are stuck there.

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Harry Potter 1 & 2: Disconnected Thoughts

Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsSchool is finally out. Boy, have I missed reading what I want to read.

I recently restarted the Harry Potter series. I read books 1-3 in high school, but put down book 4 after a few chapters because it was quidditch-heavy, and I hated quidditch. Everyone and their mom seems to have read all seven books, however, including my middle schoolers who give me a hard time for having not finished, so I decided to amend my ways. I have, I guess, reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets so far. I am not going to review these books or summarize the plot for anyone because they are so commonly read, but I do want to share some of my thoughts on each. You probably won’t care about a spoiler warning for these old books, but here it is anyway: read with caution if you haven’t read the books yet.

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Life and Death in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

What up, nerds? I am taking a little break from recapping the book series I am covering from the 1990s and early 2000s and am bringing you Shadyside’s first feature. Exciting, right? Before I get into it, though, I want to explain what a Shadyside Feature is. Unlike my recaps (Check out any entry here on Goosebumps or Fear Street) in which I attempt to write about anything and everything I have to say about a book, and unlike a review in which I focus primarily on my opinions on a book and if I would or would not recommend that book to others, a feature covers an aspect of a book I want to look into deeper. I might write about a recurring theme, a character’s development, or why a book should or should not be challenged by schools. Also, unlike my recaps and reviews, you may see me post more than one feature about a book. With features, I either do not have the time or energy to cover everything I want to write about a book, or I have so much to say about one aspect of a book that it warrants its own entry. For this book, the case is very much the latter.

I mentioned I might write about why a book should or should not be challenged by schools, and that is a great segue into the novel I am writing about in this entry, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This book is heavily challenged in schools all across the United States for a multitude of reasons. No, I am not going to write about why this book should or should not be challenged (at least not in this entry). I want to focus on a plot device — a motif that I think helps push the novel ahead: death. Before I jump into that, however, I want to first, warn you that spoilers for this book are littered throughout the entry right after the plot summary, and second, give you that plot summary, an introduction to the book.

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