Saturday, December 31, 2011

Online Reads: December 31, 2011

So obviously, we all love books here at Happy Kat Reads. And by we, I mean me. And you, and all the other readers in the readosphere! (I'm hoping there's some additional readers in this readosphere... otherwise, I'd feel silly writing this. But if no one's reading this, then there's no one to be embarrassed in front of - right? It's one of those "tree falls in a forest but no one is there" kinds of things. I think.) But there's also a ton of great reads available on the Internet: articles, stories, blog posts, etc. I tweet a lot of my favorite reads @onehappykat, but I also say it's worth writing about here! So here's some of the great online reads I've found this week:

Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls Excerpt
Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series is one of my favorites. You've got some awesome teen ladies at SPY SCHOOL! I mean, come on, how awesome is that? (I want to be a spy. Too bad my inability to learn other languages will forever keep me from doing so.) Her 5th book in the series, Out of Sight, Out of Time is due to be published March 13th, 2012, which means you have three months to read the first four books (if you haven't already). This darling little excerpt should tide you over in the meantime.

Portion Control Cheat Sheet
This little PDF file from is perfect for hanging off the refrigerator. It gives you handy visual hints to help you watch your portion sizes.

Forget Time Management, Energy Management is What Matters
A lovely little article about managing your energy in a hectic workplace. I'm a big advocate of strategic, scheduled breaks, so this article speaks to me. I love her stuff - she's got a great website at Cordelia Calls It Quits. I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance - or if you need a little break of your own! She blogs about, and this is a direct quote from her About page, "To living on autopilot. To structuring my world around other people’s schedules and other people’s expectations. To resigning myself to a 9-5, bottom-line, lather/rinse/repeat life. And especially to the notion that that’s “just the way things are.”

10 Signs You're On the Right Track
It's another Cordelia Calls It Quits post, but this post is so good. It's just a checklist of things that show if you're on the right track. It really resonates with me because I'm an actor. If you've ever gone into the "business," everyone else tells you "don't go into it unless you really love it and can't imagine doing anything else and have a deep burning NEED to do it." Which sounds a bit too melodramatic for my occasionally-logical brain. But when it comes to this list, I answer every single thing on it with an affirmative. Maybe I am doing and thing right! So good, I even printed it out and put it on my whiteboard.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

ten reasons i loved ten things we did (and probably shouldn't have)

ten things we did (and probably shouldn't have), by Sarah Mlynowski

Five Sentence Summary:
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have. April's living parent-free with her friend - no, housemate (sounds classier that way) Vi. Of course, such opportunity isn't without consequences: secrets, boy drama, and buying a hot tub (!). But don't let the drama bring you down: April's adventures will keep you laughing all the way home. Sarah Mlynowski's coming-of-age story of a young girl living on her own for the first time is full of hilarity and heart.

Post originally written in October 2011
Style of post is written to emulate the formatting and style of the original book.


ten reasons i loved ten things we did (and probably shouldn’t have)

reason one:
the anticipation of a great contemporary novel

It’s been a while since I last read a great contemporary YA novel. The last five books I read were paranormal (not my favorite genre), educational memoirs, and novels-written-like-memoirs (technically speaking not a genre, but I say pooh on technicalities). So when I picked up ten things we did, I was looking forward to a fun, light-hearted adventure. Enough dystopian! Enough facts! Time for relaxation, escapism, and hopefully some laughter.

reason two:
a smart main character, thankyouverymuch

April, is bright enough to know when something funky’s going on, but also clueless in the way that teenagers naturally are. So she makes discoveries in real-time, and you just sit there and applaud her for actually figuring something out, unlike so many characters in other fiction books (I’d insert a *coughTWILIGHTcough* but I actually haven’t read Twilight (nor do I have any desire to do so), so that would just be making assumptions, which I don’t care to do right yet). I don’t want to wring her neck for her cluelessness. She also happens to be funny and have a conscience. There’s one scene of absolutely delightful drunken babble, which is hilarious and made me giggle out loud. Not quite LOL—GOL? Maybe. Something like that.

reason three:
the girls

So April’s got two best friends: Vi, the uber chic housemate (not roommate, she’s too cool for that) and Marissa, the classic best friend. Vi’s totally the older sister you want to have: she’s whip-smart, fashionable, loves to have fun but also has a heart of gold. Yes, I’m aware that this description makes her sound like a stripper from Sweet Charity, but the difference is that Vi’s in high school with aspirations to do great things. She’s not perfect, but her flaws are endearing. As for Marissa… I’ll admit, I don’t think she gets enough screen time. April mentions about how much she loves Marissa and wants more of her, and I concur! I’m not sure why April and Marissa are best friends – we’re definitely told they’re besties more than we see them be besties – but she’s still a sweet, endearing character with a dramatic moment (or two) to provide.

reason four:
the boys

So we’ve got Noah (the boyfriend), and Hudson (the… other boy). They’re both swoony, plenty charming, and are excellent candidates for the necessary love triangle. I can imagine them pretty clearly: Hudson’s got that too cool for school vibe, and Noah just reminds me of my high school boyfriend – in a good way.

reason five:
it’s funny. but not in a dumb way.

I laughed a lot. But not in a way that made me wince. I hate schadenfreude stories, and there wasn’t any schadenfreude. Just funny characters dealing with their crazy lives. No wincing on my end required.

reason six:
a great style of writing

My hat’s off to Sarah Mlynowski (even if I can’t spell it without looking it up). She’s written a character in a way that’s smart and sassy, without being ridiculous or over-the-top. It’s also just plain fun to read. She includes a lot of emails and text messages, which I adore. (I love me a good epistolary (sheesh, I couldn’t spell that one either!) novel – apparently, I just like things I can’t spell.) They keep the book moving at a fast pace and add some background context that we wouldn’t get from a first-person perspective.

reason seven:
flashbacks done right

Technically speaking, the whole story is a flashback. It’s written following a method perfected by some of the greatest television shows in the universe (Alias/JJ Abrams, I’m talkin’ to you). It starts off mid-action, then goes back in time to show you how we got to the present, then continues on with the future. Ineffective flashbacks can distracting, but in ten things we did they’re timed perfectly to give you the information you need at the moment you need it. It’s perfectly clear when it’s a flashback versus when it’s present time. They’re brief, but they give you just what you need to keep reading. It help keeps the pace up.

reason eight:
no bad guy

I feel like everything I read these days has a “big bad.” But not ten things we did. Even the “bad guys” had good intentions, even if they didn’t always follow through as I’d want them to. I kept expecting people to end up evil and do things out of pure maliciousness. But nope. Just good characters that sometimes did bad things. 

reason nine:
a surprisingly self-aware main character

Reason two and reason nine are kind of the same thing, but it’s important. So there. Anyway, you know how they say there are only seven plots in the world? Boy meets girl, war and peace, and five other stories. (Or, if you’re my college Shakespeare teacher, there’s only two stories: love stories, and baseball stories.) Well, in contemporary young adult stories, you see a lot of the same plots recycled over and over again. And it’s beyond frustrating to see characters doing the same things over and over again, without even realizing it. But see here, April’s not just another dumb blonde. (Actually, I don’t remember if she’s blonde or not. For some reason I’m imagining a brunette bob.) Just when things get ridiculous and you want to scream PAY ATTENTION FOR GOODNESS SAKE, she does just that. And she acknowledges the circumstances. But not in a preachy way, because April don’t fly like dat.

reason ten:
i couldn’t put it down

Maybe this reason’s a copout, but it’s the plain factual truth. I finished this book in two days, when I should have been getting work done for my various part-time jobs. Was it worth it? Maybe yes, maybe no. Because if I hadn’t finished it so fast, then I could still be reading it! (Alas, the perils of a fast reader.) But I gotta say, this book’s got a winning combination of comedy and good heart. If you’re a fan of contemporary YA, then ten reasons we did is definitely worth a read.

Was it a success?
Definitely! These were definitely some interesting characters (they seemed pretty multidimensional for contemporary YA fiction), and the things they did were certainly interesting! And I think it was done in an interesting way. I think that some might find the style of the writing and voice of the character less than intelligent, but I think it has some good smarts to it, so YES: done in an interesting way.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Welcome to Happy Kat Reads!

Once upon a time, there was a young maiden, short in stature but large in energy. She lived in California, where it wasn't always always sunny but it almost never snowed. She was a joyful young girl, full of heart and laughter and puns. She almost always used, too many, commas. One day, she was skipping through a meadow when she slipped on a slimy frog. It croaked at her loudly: "you have hurt me, dear maiden!"

"I am so sorry, dearest frog," she said with a soft but earnest tone. She gingerly picked up the frog, wanting to cringe as it slipped through her fingers but holding back her wince for fear of offending the creature more. "Whatever can I do to make it up to you?"

Being a well-read young maiden, she expected him to answer something reasonable. Kiss me, she thought, and I shall turn into a prince. Or maybe something a little more adventurous. Go through the woods and up the beanstalk, and pick out a golden egg from the giant. Or even something a little more comical. Bring me a shrubbery. Something reasonable.

But what he did say, she never expected to hear from his (green, shiny, froggy) lips: "Start a book blog."


Well hello there, and welcome to Happy Kat Reads, the newest frog-sanctioned book blog on the internet! If you find my story ridiculous, well, my apologies. I promise, the frog stays here. If you find my story delightful, well, you're officially cool in my book! 

I'm Kat, the author of this here book blog, and I'm looking forward to talking books with you! I'm an avid reader: in the last two days, I started and completed two separate books. It's a feat I'm quite proud of, but it probably won't happen again anytime soon. I love Young Adult fiction, and deem it the genre my genre of choice these days. I love me a good dystopian, but I also love contemporary novels, even some paranormal every now and then. But I also enjoy memoirs, narrative non-fiction (I'm just breaking into the genre, but I like what I've read so far), some sci-fi, some classics, some standard contemporary fiction... I'm not super-picky about genre. I'm also not super-fanatical about beautiful writing. I can appreciate a well-written sentence, but I prefer stories with well-written narrators.

My recipe for book-success? Interesting characters, doing interesting things, told in an intelligent way.

When I'm not reading, I'm also an actor/musician/theater teacher in Northern California. I just graduated from the University of Southern California, with a BA in Theatre, in May of this year. If you're interested in my foibles in other mediums, I've got a couple of other sites you can check out:

Acting/Post-Collegiate Life Blog:

And of course, I'm on Twitter and Goodreads! Come say hi!

Pretty soon I'll be updating the blog with reviews, In My Mailboxes, maybe some interviews or giveaways??, who knows! But it should be a good time. In the meantime, enjoy Happy Kat Reads!

Currently Reading: December 26, 2011

I know a lot of other book bloggers do weekly In My Mailbox memes, where they show off all the fancy new books they got that week, in the mail or otherwise. I, being a brand-new book blogger, don't get fancy books in the mail. I get them from the library! Or on my Kindle. Or occasionally in the mail, I guess - I'm pretty sure I won a snazzy new book from a book giveaway which is coming soon! So I'll blog that when I get it.

But for now, let's take a look at my CR List (aka Currently Reading, for those who aren't as acronym-savvy as I pretend to be - and if you didn't know that "aka" means "Also Known As," then go BRB and read an internet dictionary, mmk? JK. LOL.) (I'm done being acronym-savvy/obnoxious. Promise.) (For now.) I'm almost always in the middle of at least five books - it's a little disgusting, but that's just how I roll! So here's an update of what I'm actively reading, and what I'm thinking about what I'm reading.

On My Kindle:

Destined, by Jessie Harrell
Currently reading this for the Goodreads book club I'm in, YA Today Book Club. I'm 65% of the way through it, and I can't decide whether I like it or not. It has good patches, then rough patches, then good patches again. But at least I don't feel like I got ripped off - it was only $0.99 on the Kindle store. I'm willing to spend a buck on a book!

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir, by Dick Van Dyke
How can you not love Dick Van Dyke? This memoir is a slow-moving one, and it's not what I'd call juicy gossip, but it's full of charm and good show-business stories. It makes me want to go back and watch the Dick Van Dyke show! Almost done: 85% complete.

From the Library:

Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, by Ori Brafman and Ron Brafman
Every once in a while, I love an interesting psychology-for-everybody books. Especially since there have been people in my life that I've just clicked with. Just started it last night as a bit of variety from the gigantic pile of YA novels that I've been reading lately.