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.

Authors We Love: Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan was definitely one of my favorite authors.  He is the writer of the Percy Jackson series, the Heroes of Olympus series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Magnus Chase series. Riordan’s books take ancient mythology and weave it into modern-day stories of adventures.

The Percy Jackson series, which was his first series, revolves around a boy named Percy Jackson who learns that he is a demigod — a son of Poseidon. You follow Percy and his friends, Annabeth and Grover, as well as others, in adventures while learning about Greek Mythology. Placed in a world where Greek Mythology is fact, Riordan does a fabulous job writing this series. When you start reading, you aren’t going to want to put the book down. I think that this is one of the best series of books he has written.

The Heroes Of Olympus series is, in a way, a continuation of the Percy Jackson series. However, it adds new characters and involves both Greek and Roman mythology. This series was just as great as the Percy Jackson series and had me intrigued till the end.

The Kane Chronicles revolves around Egyptian Mythology and a brother and sister, Carter and Sadie. Though, out of all the series’ Rick Riordan has written, this is my least favorite, but it is still good. To me, it was just not quite as captivating as some of his other pieces of writing. I would still recommend reading it, though, because it still a really good story.

The Magnus Chase series is about a boy named Magnus Chase and Norse Mythology. It is a really cool series, especially because you get to learn a little bit about Norse Mythology — something that you really won’t know much about other than the fact that Thor and Loki are Norse Gods.

All of Riordan’s writings are a great way to not only get lost in a book, but to learn about ancient mythology in a new and exciting way. All of his books are pretty easy to read, but they can entertain you for hours. Overall, he is just a fabulous writer and I would recommend any of his books.

-Ava G.

The Unfortunate Decline of Anna Seghers

annaseghersFame. Money. Glory.

For most prominent celebrities, authors, or personalities, the former nouns are essential to their ways of life. However, what happens after a renowned author loses all of their fame and glory?

Anna Seghers, one of the most important German woman writers of the 1900s, definitely knew the answer to that. Before her untimely death, Seghers wrote many outstanding novels during World War II. Her most popular novels included The Excursion of the Dead Girls, Transit, and The Seventh Cross.

Laden with beautifully-developed symbols and leitmotifs, each of her novels condemned Fascism, especially German Fascism under the influence of Adolf Hitler. Although Seghers herself lived in Fascist Germany for a while, she despised any form of Fascist totalitarianism. Her novels are a clear indicator of her anti-Nazi sentiment. Her novels were loved by many people all around the world. Citizens of Allied countries (during and after World War II) read her works fervently as they also fought against Fascism in Europe.

It was near the end of Seghers’ literary career that she started to lose both fame and glory. Although she fought against totalitarianism in Germany, she soon became a part of the Soviet Communist party while in exile. Simultaneously, Seghers condemned Nazism and preached the tenets of Communism.

After Hitler’s death and the end of the war, Seghers resided in the Soviet-controlled part of Germany. She tenaciously stuck to Communist beliefs, even after Stalin’s infamous show trials, where more people were killed than during the Holocaust. Almost immediately, all of her avid readers in the West were lost. Her American and liberal German readers lost interest in any of her other works. Anna Seghers went from a literary “hero” who fought against Fascism to a “traitor” who only carried on totalitarianism.

Seghers became a “spiritual” follower of Communism, taking part in Soviet politics and condoning the deaths of millions of people. Never again were her books ranked as national best-sellers. After her literary decline, Seghers only published two more novels; however, they did not receive any recognition at all. It was not a matter of how well her works were written; rather, it was a matter of what her novels stood for.

Anna Seghers was a phenomenal author; there was no doubt about that. However, it was what her novels preached that led to her gradual decline. Seghers’ unfortunate tale leads us to a very important conclusion: Individuals must always fight against tenets of evil and fight for tenets of good.

-Elaha N.