Authors We Love: S.E. Hinton

Ideally, in every form, artists try to mold creations from what they see in their everyday lives and the world they have inherited. S.E. Hinton, boldly nicknamed called “the voice of the youth,” has demonstrated this artistry in each piece she has written, displaying the realities and complexities presented throughout her life growing up in the race and class divided 60s and 70s.

Two of her most famous books, The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now, are written from the perspectives of young boys experiencing the ups and downs of adolescence alongside their close friends and siblings. Though written over 50 years ago, the themes presented in her novels still ring true to this day, to children, teenagers, and adults alike. The slang used in her novels reflect the time periods in which they take place, making for nostalgia and remembrance of decades past.

Hinton’s writing style is simple yet sincere and is relatable to the wide variety of people contained in her audience. Her ability to describe her personal experiences through different lenses ultimately allows her to assimilate herself with the audience, strengthening the relationship between the reader and the author, bringing us closer together.

The events depicted in Hinton’s novels are strikingly mundane when presented alone, but with the accompaniment of her likable and authentic characters, they hit close to home. The ever-present themes of loyalty and friendship are heartfelt, and only make the stories all the more pleasant to read.

In addition to her publications, multiple films have been made as counterparts to her novels, including The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. Similar to her writing, the films have an uncanny ability to universalize emotions and situations to strike the hearts and minds of the audiences.

Whether you are young or old, male or female — S.E. Hinton has something to offer. With her profound and humble stories, every aspect of the story comes full circle. Savvy?

—Keira D.

The works of S. E. Hinton are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: James Agee

Image result for james agee

Born on November 27th, 1909 and died on May 16, 1955 was this brilliant American poet, novelist, and writer for and about motion pictures. Written about in Encyclopedia Britannica, Agee grew up in Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountain area, went to Harvard University, and wrote for Fortune and Time after he graduated in 1932. Although his movie criticisms weren’t widely known, his humorous comments on movies still gained a lot of support from the audience instead of merely evaluating musicals and movies like an insider.

If you don’t know yet, his book A Death in the Family actually won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Now, I think this has a lot to do with his experience as a child, as this is an autobiographical novel. Not only the name “Rufus”, who was the main character in that particular novel but moreover it was James Agee’s middle name. His father, Hugh James Agee, like Jay Follet was killed in an auto accident when he was merely seven.

In addition, just when he was ten years old, his mother enrolled him in Saint Andrew’s boarding school. Remember something now? Yes, this is exactly the same setting as his other book The Morning Watch.

Although I haven’t read or watched all his other plays and featured stories, there is one thing I can tell: James Agee is a legendary author who utilizes his own family background and experience to produce outstanding stories and mold characters into the best shapes he can.

-Coreen C. 

The works of James Agee are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Authors We Love: H.P. Lovecraft

Although many people do not know Howard Philips Lovecraft, what many people do know is his works. His stories precede him and are a staple in pop culture.

Born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft was born the only child to Winfield Scott Lovecraft and Sarah Susie Philips Lovecraft. Throughout his childhood Lovecraft was shown to be remarkable and intelligent, being able to read and write at the age of 3.

Lovecraft did not begin to write actual stories until the early 1900s, with his first short story “The Alchemist” being published in 1916. Soon after, “The Tomb” and “Dagon” were published. “Dagon” is considered to be the first of Lovecraft’s works that would eventually be grouped in a collection called The Cthulhu Mythos, coined by a close friend, August Derleth.

This mythos, meant to encompass Lovecraft’s stories which focused on the terrifying unknown and the capricious nature of the universe, includes a pantheon of terrible god-like beings called The Great Old Ones. This is partially inspired by the Greek pantheon, albeit a twisted, nightmarish vision of gods that watch over the universe and earth.

Stories such as “The Call of Cthulhu”, “At The Mountains of Madness”, “The Dunwich Horror”, and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” are the most popular of Lovecraft’s. He is also considered the pioneer of cosmic horror, a subgenre which emphasizes the insignificance of human’s actions because in the grand scheme of the universe we are nothing but playthings to horrors that lurk just beyond our solar system.

Other items from Lovecraft’s stories, such as the fictional city of Arkham, the nefarious Necronomicon, and even the great Cthulhu himself have been referenced in pop culture despite many people not knowing the true origins from which these staples come from.

Lovecraft’s stories as a whole are extremely well written and do a good job of sucking the reader in and keeping hold of them until they finish the story. Although the dialogue occasionally comes off as somewhat stilted and unnatural they are nonetheless excellent, terrifying stories. They are unsettling and they leave the reader with a looming sense of dread unlike any other.

The idea of an uncaring universe, with beings that we cannot even begin to comprehend existing just outside of our peripheral vision, brings out that instinctual, deep fear of the unknown, and the fear of being all alone.

The works of H. P. Lovecraft are available at the Mission Viejo Library. 

The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

Image result for the wayward busThis book is another one by my favorite author John Steinbeck. It’s about a bus driver named Juan Chicoy who has a wife that he sometimes loves and sometimes pranks her. I must be feeling dreadfully lonely if I have such a profound and deep husband like him. His apprentice Pimples and his best comrade “Sweetheart” (the bus) are always with him just like shadows.

In my perspective, it would be my pleasure to meet such an intelligent couple like Elliot Pritchard and his wife. I can’t imagine what to feel like as a man meeting their erudite but voluptuous daughter Mildred. Sometimes I really wish that I am as inventive and funny as Ernest Horton. Unlike Mr.Pritchard, Ernest Horton is not very complacent and lonely. He always has friends. He was my role model.

Every girl wants to be like Camille Oaks but also doesn’t want to be like her. She has an angelic face that every man would be willing to be a devil for her. But her jobs require using her beauty to earn money. Camille seems to be like an older sister to Norma, a counter girl at Alice Chicoy’s restaurant. I see my sister’s shadow when Camille comforts Norma.

-April L.

The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Harry Potter – Foreign Language Edition!

This summer, my family and I took a vacation to Italy. We had so much fun, but one of the key things I remember about the trip was the different language, and how hard it was to understand things. One day while we were walking through Rome, we came across a bookstore. It was so cool to see all of these books that I recognize, but in a whole new language.

Most importantly, was the Harry Potter series. These books had their own little section at the back of an enormous bookstore. It took me a while to find them because everything was in Italian. I began to read little excerpts from each book, and even though I couldn’t read the native language, I knew these books like the back of my hand. This made it easy for me to tell what is going on without reading and understanding word for word what the pages said. Instead, I would get the general idea from what I knew was going on in the book at the time. This was helpful to improve my ability to understand Italian a little better by translating my version of Harry Potter memorized in my brain against the Italian text. I was soon able to recognize words and their meanings in Italian just by remembering who said what, what was happening, and where they were in the books.

After all this time, Harry Potter is still helping me and teaching me so much.

-Kyle H.

Authors We Love: Meg Cabot

Monday, August 7, boys and girls of varying ages gathered at the Norman P. Murray Center to get the chance to listen to author, Meg Cabot. As a child, Cabot always had a special place in her heart for writing. Growing up, she admired princesses, particularly, Princess Leia from the movie franchise, Star Wars. This inspired her to write stories based off of princesses. It wasn’t until the age of seven when Cabot began creating her own short stories. She is most recognized for her series, Princess Diaries, which Disney later turned into a movie starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.

Cabot attended Indiana University where she hoped to pursue her writing dream. However, she decided to major in art, rather than writing, as she was told not to sign up for the course by a fellow student (who happened to be a creative writing major) at a college party. He warned her that the class would “suck the love of creative writing out of you.” Although she listened to her peer, Cabot attended multiple writing classes while studying at Indiana University until she graduated.

Cabot’s next chapter in life brought her to New York City where she worked as an illustrator. There, she was brought face to face (once again) with the man from the college party. When she asked him why he had convinced her to become an art major and not focus on writing, he answered, “because I was drunk!” In between her work, she still found time to create her own stories. Following the death of her father, Cabot attempted her first publication. His sudden passing brought her to realize that she wouldn’t get anywhere in her writing career if she kept putting opportunities off.

After many publication rejections, Cabot got her first book approved when she was thirty. In addition to the Princess Diaries, she has also written complete series including The Mediator, Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls, Avalon High, All American Girl, and much more. Combined, she has published over fifty books! Her new series, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, is a continuation of the Princess Diaries. It follows the life of Princess Olivia, the half sister of Princess Mia, (the main character from the Princess Diaries) as she discovers the ups and downs of being royalty.

It was such a great opportunity being able to listen to Meg Cabot talk about her past experiences and accomplishments. I am currently reading her young adult series, The Mediator, and am loving every page of the books! Her stories pull me in and all I want to do is finish it in a single sitting. I’ve also watched the Princess Diaries countless times and always find it as intriguing as the first time I saw it. I really enjoyed attending this event and can’t wait to see what Meg Cabot comes up with in the future!

-Skyler K.

Authors We Love: Natasha Preston

Natasha Preston, also known as the Wattpad sensation, natashapreston. Natasha Preston was born in England and has lived in small towns and villages out of the countryside ever since. At school, she received average grades and fell into administration and receptionist jobs, thinking that she couldn’t really do anything else.

In 2010, she stumbled into writing completely by accident.  She was searching the ‘app store’ when she came across Wattpad, an amateur writing site. For the first few months she just read, but then she decided to type some of the ideas whirling around her head. All of her books started as a story on Wattpad. She enjoys writing romance, thrillers, gritty YA, and the occasional serial killer.

Writing gave her an escape and Wattpad gave her the confidence she lacked.

Her #1 on New York Times young adult Ebook is, The Cellar, which was originally published in 2014. The Cellar‘s genres are thriller, fiction, and mystery. There is never a dull moment in this book. Natasha Preston always keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. The Cellar is about a 16 year old girl, Summer Robinson who gets disappears without a trace.  No family or police investigation can find her. Summer spends months in the cellar with her kidnapper and several other girls. Summer learns about Colin, (the kidnapper) and his abusive past and how he thinks of his victims being his family.