Shadyside is a book reviews blog. I kind of feel relieved saying that. My blog started sometime in 2015 at a different domain. I was blogging primarily personal entries about my life. I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a middle school teacher a couple years after that and decided that I wanted to limit how much of myself was online. I have never been a very private person, but I did not want my students to Google me and be all up in my relationships, my family business, my personal thoughts, and well, you get the idea. I decided to blog just about my fandoms, the things I am into. The trouble was, I’m into a lot. I was trying to make my blog too many things, and as such, it began to lack focus and organization, and it drove me nuts.
What I found I was doing the most, and what I thoroughly enjoyed doing was writing about books I read. More specifically, I decided to read some book series I read as a kid and analyze them as an adult: Animorphs by K. A. Applegate, and Goosebumps and Fear Street by R. L. Stine. I started reminiscing in entries and in some cases, making fun of the cheesiness of the books. What I found as I went along, however, is many of these books hold up really well today, and I think readers, and especially reluctant readers, would enjoy them today. I decided to start analyzing these books more seriously with the intent of showing off what these books have to offer. I am an English concentration in college, so I love literary analysis. I am excited by the prospect of analyzing the crap out of an Animorphs, Goosebumps, or Fear Street book. That’s what I do here. Well, it’s half of what I do here.
As fun as being nostalgic is, I read more than 90s adolescent fiction, and you will see entries about various other books I read pop up from time to time. My intent, however, is to stay consistent with my goal for this site: to analyze books I think adolescents will enjoy and to show off what they have to offer. I absolutely plan to continue writing about Animorphs, Goosebumps, and Fear Street, so hang around for that, but keep an eye out for posts about other books, too.
I do want to warn you that it took a little while for me to find my rhythm and figure out what I wanted to do with my entries, so some of my older entries are really bad. I will revisit some of those books in time.
To summarize, I’m going to
- be nostalgic as hell.
- recommend books for adolescents and analyze the crap out of them.
There are three types of posts you will see pop up here on Shadyside: features, reviews, and recaps.
Features are concentrated posts that cover an element of a book. I may talk about a book’s structure, a particular character, or a literary device. You may see more than one feature pop up for one book.
Reviews are extremely opinionated posts that discuss why I did or did not like a book. I haven’t written a review yet, but I know I will.
Recaps are posts that are bathed in nostalgia. They cover book series I read as a kid and want to re-experience as an adult. They analyze plots, talk about what I like and don’t like, and point out what readers can gain from reading the books today. I am currently recapping R. L. Stine’s Fear Street and Goosebumps series and K. A. Applegate’s Animorphs series.
Shadyside is the fictional city the Fear Street series takes place. I wanted a fun name, and I liked the look and sound of Shadyside. Shadyside.blog launched on June 9th, 2020, although I brought over entries from my last blog that date back to 2017, so this is hardly a new site. I consider it a relaunch: a refocus and a fresh start.
The header image in the layout was drawn for me by my friend Todd Larkey, an amazing artist and a fun dude.
The best way to contact me is to leave me a comment on any entry here (or even on this page). I get an e-mail notification when someone comments on my blog, and I respond to every comment. You may also feel free to shoot me an e-mail at whittaker.todd(at)gmail.com.
Here are some answers to questions I have been asked in the past:
- If you have a books blog or a site with similar content, I will exchange links with you. Just send me your URL.
- I review Goosebumps and Fear Street books mostly randomly. I try to read the Animorphs books in order.
- I do take Goosebumps and Fear Street review requests. If there is one you want to see me do next, let me know!