the outsiders read-along: chapter 9

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There is triumph and tragedy in this chapter.  No spoilers for those who are reading The Outsiders for the first time, but the ending of this chapter is an emotional kick in the stomach.  It was almost inevitable, but heart-wrenching nonetheless.

When Ponyboy and the others are preparing for the rumble with the Socs and Ponyboy keeps asking himself (and the others) why they’re fighting in the first place, I realized something.  I don’t think that, before Bob’s death, Ponyboy would have asked that (or at least been able to articulate his doubts so well).  But with Bob’s death he now knows that greaser versus Soc and the greaser lifestyle can get a person into serious trouble.  And he doesn’t want that so he’s questioning the logic of things that he’s always gone along with. (It’s also a sign of growing maturity.)

Though, if you’ll notice, he flip-flops between not wanting himself or any of the gang to participate in the rumble and “Oh no, I thought in mortal fear, I’ve got to be in it.  Right then the most important thing in my life was helping us whip the Socs.” (p. 134).  There’s some confusion there and that’s realistic as well.

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On the lighter side, the interactions between Ponyboy, Soda, and Darry are hilarious and legitimately how brothers behave.  And Two-Bit always makes me laugh with how he imitates The Typical Soc.

A few other things of note: it makes me happy how Ponyboy determines to go farther than most other guys in his neighbourhood and make something of himself. (According to S.E. Hinton, he went on to become an author.  But she also said that Soda died in Vietnam and Darry died of cancer so I’m not sure how accurate she is.)  It’s so cool how Dally shows up to the rumble and he and Ponyboy work together in the fight.  And the doctor in the hospital is awesome.  Just sayin’.

Quotes I like:

What kind of world is it where all I have to be proud of is a reputation for being a hood, and greasy hair?  I don’t want to be a hood, but even if I don’t steal things and mug people and get boozed up, I’m marked lousy.  Why should I be proud of it?  Why should I even pretend to be proud of it? (p. 132)

If everybody jumped in the Arkansas River, ol’ Two-Bit would be right on their heels. (p. 137)

If you want to see something funny, it’s a tough hood sticking out his tongue at his big brother. (p. 137)

I mean, you take a guy that calls a rumble “bop-action,” and you can tell he isn’t real educated. (p. 140) [The irony…]

“Stay gold, Ponyboy.  Stay gold . . .” (p. 148)

Discussion Questions!

-Ponyboy asks Darry, Soda, and Two-Bit why they like fighting (Steve volunteers his reason, unasked).  What answer do you think Dally would give?  Johnny?

-On page 141, Ponyboy says “…people don’t ever think to blame the Socs and are always read to jump on us.  We look hoody and they look decent.  It could be just the other way around – half the hoods I know are pretty decent guys underneath all that grease…but people usually go by looks.”  Have you ever judged someone by their appearance and then had to drastically revise that judgement later?



‘dancing & doughnuts’ virtual world tour: interview with Rachel Kovaciny!

40200640Today on the blog I’m honoured to interview Rachel Kovaciny.  She’s the author of the newly released novella, Dancing & Doughnuts, which is a Western retelling of the classic (but little known) fairy-tale ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’.  Rachel is a talented writer – read this interview to learn some cool things about her and her stories and then visit her website for more!

Hey, Rachel!  Welcome to the blog and thanks for agreeing to answer a few of my questions. 🙂  To start…is there one character in Dancing & Doughnuts that you like a teeny bit more than all the others?

I’ve actually got four favorites in this book, which is unusual for me. I generally have two favorites, but not this time! However, Jedediah Jones is the dearest to me. He’s my protagonist and the narrator, and he has been a delight to write.

And a delight to read!  I love getting things from Jedediah’s unique viewpoint, especially all those descriptions of doughnuts – they sound soooo good.  What’s your favorite kind of doughnut?

I love sour cream doughnuts! And these Dutch doughnuts called Crullers that are buttery and flaky.

I love both those kinds as well. (No wonder we’re friends. *grins*)  So, were there any stories (besides ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’, obviously) that helped inspire Dancing & Doughnuts?

I’ve definitely had Homer Price by Robert McCloskey on my mind for some of these scenes. That book has a wonderful sequence where they have to make hundreds of doughnuts, and I kept thinking about it while my own characters produced veritable mountains of doughnuts.

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Oh my word, that Homer Price story is one of my favorites.  So much nostalgia for me.  And speaking of the past…did you have to do a lot of research for Dancing & Doughnuts?

I did, actually. I spent a lot of time researching the history of doughnuts to be sure I knew what forms they took in the 1860s. It turns out they were a really popular treat for Civil War soldiers! I also did a lot of research into how long carbonated beverages have been around — people first started adding fruit juice to carbonated water in the 1600s! So fascinating. I also researched dances that were popular in that era, and what dancing shoes looked like. I also looked into when different Christian denominations started congregations in Kansas. And I think my favorite thing that I researched turned out to be the duties of sergeant majors in the Union Army — my protagonist rose to that rank during the war, and is justifiably proud of doing so.

That’s a lot of research! (But all completely necessary.)  To talk about the actual writing process, though, what time of day are you the most productive, writing-wise?

Mornings have long been my very best writing time because my brain is fresh. My mind isn’t cluttered up yet with all the things I need to get done, and I can concentrate better. But these days, I do most of my writing at night after my kids are in bed. Not my favorite time but I make it work.

I’ve been getting up earlier and writing and it’s pretty fun.  But I also enjoy writing in the evenings, afternoons – pretty much any time is good for me!  If you could put your writing aside for one day and spend it with one of the characters from Dancing & Doughnuts, who would it be and why?

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I’d love to spend a day listening to Jedediah Jones tell me all about his amazing experiences growing up on the frontier and then being in the Union Cavalry during the war. He’s been talking to me for a year now, as he narrates this story, and I can’t get enough of him!

However, if I had to pick one character to spend the rest of my life with, it would be this rather marvelous rancher named John Kittredge. I think we could get along quite comfortably for decades.

Jedediah and John are both excellent choices.  I’d probably choose the same (though I believe Clara would be fun, too).  Unfortunately, I can’t keep asking you questions for forever, so I’ll close out the interview with just one more: can you tell me and my blog followers what fairy-tale your next ‘Once Upon a Western’ novella will be based on?

I’m really hoping to do Snow White next — set in a wagon train filled with former slaves on their way to new lives out west! But I have a lot of research to do for that one, so I may end up putting it off and doing a different one next. That’s the one I’m hoping to tackle next, anyway!

Thanks so much for this fun interview, Eva!

Thank you, Rachel!  I had a lot of fun with this.


Don’t forget to add Dancing & Doughnuts to your Goodreads shelf and buy the Kindle or paperback edition on Amazon!  You can check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour here.  Rachel is also hosting a super awesome giveaway for the book tour that you can enter here!

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book review: dancing & doughnuts

Dancing and Doughnuts blog tour 2 (1)

Fifty dollars just for asking a few questions? Jedediah Jones figures it must be his lucky day. What dancing and doughnuts have to do with anything, he neither knows nor cares. He’s only interested in earning that money so he can finally eat something other than the apples he’s been living off for days. Once his stomach and his pockets are filled again, he plans to move on.

But answering the advertisement plunges him into a forest of painted trees, twelve pretty sisters, trouble, and more trouble. And, yes, doughnuts.

So many doughnuts.

Can Jedediah Jones solve the mystery and earn that fifty dollars when the whole town has failed? Or will the twelve sisters lose their family’s business no matter what he does?


I dislike mysteries, but Dancing & Doughnuts was the rare exception. The plot – complete with a multitude of suspects, red herrings, and other forms of misdirection – was so clever and interesting that I couldn’t help but be sucked in. There’s a charm about this story that has to be savoured (like Rachel’s previous book, Cloaked, but even better).

The descriptions are so evocative! I want to stuff my face with those delicious doughnuts – crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, filled with sweetness and spice and covered in sugar. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about them. Then there’s the apple cider and the lemon soda water…it all sounds so, so good.

Like Cloaked, Dancing & Doughnuts is chock-full of amazing, lovable characters. I know that the author loves reading books that include characters she’d like to be friends with and, as it turns out, she writes books like that too! It’s awesome. The main character/narrator, Jedediah Jones, has a fun way of looking at life, people, adverse situations, etc. but there’s also a depth to him that I like (he was a sergeant major during the Civil War and it’s affected him in more ways than one). All the Algonas are great. I especially like Alice, Clara, and Felicity. Alice is #goals and also #relatable, which is a great combination. Really, I like all the characters in this novella (with the possible exception of Mayor Gatz) – they’re all very real and and flawed, yet exceedingly pleasant and fun. ❤ I’d be more than happy to meet them in real life, if it were possible.

Dancing & Doughnuts is a retelling of the classic fairy-tale, ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’, and it was soooo cool to pick out the references and parallels to the original story (and I’m sure I didn’t catch them all). The painted forest sounds so beautiful! And actually having twelve ‘princesses’ instead of cutting the number down? A bit tricky, but the way Rachel did it was believable.

Highly recommended to fans of westerns, mysteries, fairytale retellings, or just a good story in general!


Don’t forget to add Dancing & Doughnuts to your Goodreads shelf and buy the Kindle or paperback edition on Amazon! You can check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour here. Rachel is also hosting a super awesome giveaway for the book tour that you can enter here!

Dancing and Doughnuts Giveaway Prizes


the outsiders read-along: chapter 8

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In this chapter, Two-Bit and Ponyboy go to visit Johnny and Dally in the hospital and then Ponyboy has a short conversation with Cherry afterwards.  So not a lot happens in terms of action, but it’s still a gripping chapter (especially if you’re as attached to these characters as I am).

When Johnny asks for a copy of Gone With the Wind, Two-Bit doesn’t skip a beat (even though it is kind of a weird book for a teenage boy to read).  Maybe he doesn’t even know what it is, not being any kind of a reader.

It’s heartbreaking, what Johnny says about being so young and not wanting to die.  It really is.  And then the thing with his mother and how awful she is and how he doesn’t want to see her, even though he’s always wanting his parents to notice him and care about him.  GAH.  He doesn’t deserve any of it.

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Deleted scene from the movie.  WHY WAS IT DELETED???

Then there’s what Two-Bit says to Ponyboy about Darry being stricter than Ponyboy’s parents.  I get that.  I’d say that I can be more strict with my little brothers than my mom is (and it’s not always a good thing).  And you know what Two-Bit says about Darry being a Soc if it weren’t for Ponyboy and Soda?  Well, it’s yet another indication that not all Socs are horrid.  We might begin the book hating the Socs (I mean, some of them attack Ponyboy within the first few pages) but as we get deeper into the story, we come to realize that the Socs aren’t villains.  They’re troubled, hurting teens, just like the greasers.

Quotes I like:

Johnny almost grinned as he nodded…and by the way his eyes were glowing, I figured Southern gentlemen had nothing on Johnny Cade. (p. 120)

Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot.  But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn.  Sixteen years on the streets and you see a lot.  But all the wrong sights, not the sights you want to see. (p. 122) [I don’t necessarily like this quote, but it’s suuuuch good writing I had to include it.]

I’d never liked Dally–but then, for the first time, I felt like he was my buddy.  And all because he was glad he hadn’t killed me. (p. 124)

“We gotta get even with the Socs.  For Johnny.” (p. 125)

Discussion Questions!

-What character do you relate to the most?

-Why do you think the gang couldn’t get along without Johnny?

-And why is Cherry so attracted to ‘bad boys’ (Bob, Dally)?


announcing the Reams of Rereads blog event – October 2018!

Guys, I have a problem.


I borrow bunches from the library, ‘buy’ Kindle freebies, sign up for ARCs and review copies…books have invaded my life in every way and I love it.  But all those shiny new books make me a little sad, too.  Because they mean that I don’t have much time to reread old favorites.

So I created…

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Here’s how it works!

-Make a list of all the awesome books you’ve wanted to reread for forever but kept putting off because of Lack of Reading Time.

-Post the list on your blog (or, if you don’t have a blog, in the comments below) and link back to this post (if you have a blog) to proclaim your participation in this blog event.  I’ll add you/your blog to the list below of all the participants.

-When October 2018 comes around, tackle that list!  Even if there are a dozen new, awesome releases at the library. (Okay, I’m not going to force anyone to ONLY read from their list in October because I couldn’t even if I wanted to.  I’m pretty much going to read exclusively from my list throughout October, but do whatever works for you!)

-Don’t feel like you have to read every book on your list.  I know I won’t possibly get to everything I’ve got written down.  But I’ll sure have fun trying.

-Feel free to blog about your progress (or comment on my own progress reports with your own updates if you don’t have a blog).  At the end of October I’ll assemble a master list of all your (and my) posts (at the start of the event, I’ll create a separate post where you can keep returning to share your blog post links).

-This will probably be an annual thing if enough people join/enjoy it.

Here’s a smaller version of the button that you can share on your blog’s sidebar or in a blog post (or you can snag the one above – again, whatever works for you).

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Annnnd here’s my own list of books I hope to reread during the challenge!

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (I’ve already read the previous two books this year)

Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin

To Tame A Land & Last Stand At Papago Wells by Louis L’Amour

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Emma by Jane Austen

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Reams of Rereads Participants

Hope to see you there!


the outsiders read-along: chapter 7

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S.E. Hinton could have almost split The Outsiders into two parts, because there’s a tangible change when Chapter 7 starts.  The unique world of the abandoned church and bologna sandwiches and Gone With the Wind has disappeared – Ponyboy is back in the real world, so to speak, and there are real consequences to his and Johnny’s actions. (Plus, he and Darry have reconciled which makes all the difference in their family dynamic.)

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I love Sodapop in this chapter.  The way he clowns around with the police and reporters (but is also serious when the situation warrants it).  How we find out that he eats eggs with grape jelly and chocolate cake AND chocolate milk for breakfast.  His grief about Sandy leaving.  Soda is such a great character (and Rob Lowe was absolutely perfect casting in every way).

Isn’t it sad that the gang is the only ‘family’ interested in finding out how Johnny and Dally are doing?

There’s a paragraph that really stuck out to me when I was reading this chapter…


Dally would be okay after two or three days in the hospital, [the doctor] said.  One arm was badly burned and would be scarred for the rest of his life, but he would have full use of it in a couple of weeks.  Dally’ll be okay, I thought.  Dallas is always okay.  He could take anything.  It was Johnny I was worried about. (p. 102)

I try to steer clear of spoilers for those who haven’t read all of The Outsiders yet, but… Hinton did such a good job of foreshadowing here and I never noticed it before.  I might mention this passage when I get into some of the later chapters; it’s excellent writing, all around.

Also, I’d like to comment on the fact that Darry (conscientious, responsible Darry) never locks the front door at night because he’d rather have the guys come sleep there than roam around and possibly get into trouble with the police.  

Two-Bit’s mother warned us about burglars, but Darry, flexing his muscles so that they bulged like oversized baseballs, drawled that he wasn’t afraid of any burglars, and that we didn’t really have anything worth taking.  (p. 105-106)

Gotta love Darry.

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So after Ponyboy gets home and Darry and Soda go off to work the following day, Pony and Two-Bit wander around town until its time to go see Johnny and Dally in the hospital.  They stop to buy some Cokes and, while at the store, a bunch of Socs pull up in that blue Mustang and one of them – Randy, Marcia’s boyfriend – says he wants to talk to Ponyboy.  I’ll let you read their conversation for yourself, but it’s really sad.  In the sorta-sequel to The Outsiders (That Was Then, This Is Now) you find out that Randy’s become a hippy.  I guess he didn’t want to deal with the pressure of being a Soc (and maybe he thought his new identity would galvanize his own parents into caring about what he did).

Quotes I like:

Soda can make anyone grin. (p. 101)

“Y’all were heroes from the beginning.  You just didn’t ‘turn’ all of a sudden.” (p. 107)

Things were rough all over, but it was better that way.  That way you could tell the other guy was human too. (p. 118)

Discussion Questions!

-Why is Darry so scared of Ponyboy’s dream?

-Based on what all Randy said to Ponyboy, what would you say is the Socs’ root problem?


would you rather: classic movie edition

This post is part of Cordy’s “Month of Classics” blog party.

~Would you rather dance with Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?~

Gene Kelly, hands down.  After all, he was my very first celebrity crush.

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~Would you rather star opposite Cary Grant or Gregory Peck?~

Is this even a question?  I mean, besides the fact that Gregory Peck is a million times more handsome than Cary Grant (IMO), I just like Gregory Peck better as an actor. (Wayyyy better.)

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~Would you rather be serenaded by Howard Keel or Bing Crosby?~

Neither, thank you.  But especially not Howard Keel.

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This character is a big part of why I don’t like Howard Keel.

~Would you rather share an airplane ride with Danny Kaye or Donald O’Connor?~

Donald O’Conner!  Danny Kaye gets on my nerves sometimes and from all I’ve read about Donald O’Conner he seems like a really great guy (not saying that Danny Kaye’s not, though).

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~What classic movie outfit would you steal?~ (No you cannot say all of them! ;))

Ann’s “wandering around Rome” ensemble. ❤

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Complete with gelato and flower.

~Would you rather be cast in a classic noir film or a classic western?~

CLASSIC WESTERN CLASSIC WESTERN CLASSIC WESTERN.  Noirs are okay and there are a few of them I love but they’re a little too much like mysteries for my taste.  Westerns on the other hand… #myhappyplace

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Guess how many followers I have right now? (!!!!!)

~Would you rather go on a shopping spree with Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly?~

I hate shopping for clothes, but I’d probably go with Audrey Hepburn.  Grace Kelly and her style seem almost…unattainable.

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~Would you rather solve a mystery with William Powell or Myrna Loy?~

Haven’t seen enough of either of them to say.

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~Would you rather imitate Jimmy Stewart’s voice in front of Jimmy Stewart, or imitate Maureen O’Hara’s “temper” in front of Maureen O’Hara?~

*moans*  Neither.  Neither is good.  I’m literally cringing right now just thinking of doing either (but especially imitating Jimmy Stewart).  I can’t choose.

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