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It's Kind of a Funny Story book review

       Nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it. The book I was reading for my Q1 English BM and find it really interesting is call “Its Kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini” It's also about teens. I loved this book. It is about teens and it discusses suicide, sex and more, but it is a great book with an important message. Sometimes you have to get all the way to the bottom of the barrel before you can get back to the top. When you read this book you can experience all the stragglers teens go through in their high school/college years. All the pressure that sometime they start to feel that suicide is the easy way out off all this.

          Its not always just study that pressure teen to suicide but most of the time is bullying that effect the most. In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the US and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide. Though too many adults still see bullying as "just part of being a kid," it is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide.

Many people may not realize that there is also bullying include in teens committing suicide. Teen suicide is a very real problem in the United States and all over the world. With many pressures and a variety emotional, social and family issues to confront, many teenagers find themselves having suicidal thoughts. Part of averting a teen suicide is being involved in your teen’s life and watching for teen suicide warning signs.


It is also important to note that many of the teen suicide warning signs are also indications of depression. And it is important that around this time of your life you need to be around the people who love and care about you, also enjoy every moment of your life because our life is too small to be depressed and do something stupid like suicide. Thats what this book is about when the main character in the book go to a hospital for his depression problem he meet a lot of new people and became their friends thats when he realize how fun and beautiful life is. Its not always full of stress and pain everything will be OK at the end but its not than its not the end

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The Things They Carried Book Review, Marlyn Mooney

The Things They Carried Book Review 

Whether you’d like to call it a novel or a collection of short stories, The Things They Carried, is a work of art. Tim O’Brien writes a powerful memoir that mediates on war, memory, imagination, and the power of storytelling. The Things They Carried was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. It is controlled and wild, deep and tough.

Tim O’Brien fought in the Vietnam war, and when he returned home he started graduate studies at Harvard. Eventually, he took an internship at the Washington Post, something he always wanted to do, and left Harvard Grad school to become a newspaper reporter. O'Brien's work as a reporter was the start to his fiction career. His most famous books are If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Send Me Home. Tim O’Brien won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was named best novel of the year by Time magazine for his book In the Lake of the Woods.

The Things They Carried, title of the first story, expresses emotion through tangible and intangible segments. The books shows the stories of Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O'Brien (the author) in  the war of Vietnam. Throughout the collection of short stories we see their relationships, their thoughts, we see their isolation and loneliness, we see their rage and fear. Some miss their families, their girlfriends; they miss the lives they left back home. Some never wanted to join in the war in the first place, and feel cowardly for not running away. Somehow, throughout this ordeal, they happen to find sympathy for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, since they are the only family they have. We hear these mens’ stories and with their dialogue create a vivid image of the war. This is the power of story telling, the power of imagination. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves.

O’Brien’s writing is captivating. Although the book is an easy read, it feels like you are reading something you would hear on the street, with all of the colloquial language. Then, you continue to read and see the power of a combination of epic, ensorcelling sentences and sentences that belong in a high school hallway. This story leaves the impression that O'Brien is in love with all types of languages and ardently uses whatever style to make his content ring true. The power of reading a beautifully written story stays with you forever. Just by imagining stories that never happened, and remembering some that did, O'Brien writes how he can bring it all back. If he wants, he can feel the terror and the sorrow and the jagged laughter. He can bring the dead back to life.

After reading the book, you may get the message that war is isolating not unifying. But, O’Brien once said this is not a book about war. The Things They Carried main message is the extreme power of storytelling. Stories can broaden imagination, they make memories, and replace thoughts. Stories continue when people don’t, and stories save lives. The last story explains why O’Brien wrote the book in the first place, how he used storytelling to get through losing someone he loved. Although not coming out directly saying it, you can infer that that method of storytelling still works, to save the war dead and to save himself.

The strange thing about the 246 pages of unrelated stories is that the stories eventually cohere. One of the most important things conveyed in this book is that it is impossible to generalize about war. Some messages that may be perceived are war is isolating, not unifying. War sucks, but it doesn't always suck. A true war story is never moral. War corrupts soldiers, but it also makes them feel totally alive. “You're never more alive than when you're almost dead.” (O’Brien, Pg 81)

"The search for the great American novel will never end, but it gets a step closer to realization with The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien." (Detroit Free Press). Eventually we learn that there was a certainty that the soldiers would never be at loss for things to carry.

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien, Houghton Mifflin / Seymour Lawerence, 1990, Number of pages, 246 pages, fiction.

Since the overall meaning of the Things They Carried is the power of storytelling, I decided to make my own story. I took the idea of a found poem and created a found story to show my perspective of the book. I used my favorite random lines from throughout the book that I made note of as I read and placed them into an order in which a new story was formed. Some of the lines go together, some don’t, but that’s the beauty of words and imagination. The eloquence of the lines, accompanied by photographs I took create a new tale that captures and conveys my emotions and the morals I received after reading this book. For, there is always a story within a story.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

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When looking for this book you will mostly find it in the fiction collections, Either you are at the library or the store. The book is a short novel that will inspire you in many ways. The first thing that might come to mind might be, why is there an upside down dog on the cover, The upside down dog happens to be the most popular cover for the book. The author has many different covers for the book. He has one with a garden fork going through a bloody dog. You might do what we all call “Judging a book by it’s cover”. That’s okay but this book is worth more than the cover. You will only understand the cover if you take out the time to read this book. If you love mystery novel, then you will love this book. Just because the book is called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time doesn’t mean that it is all about a dog, It’s more than just a book about a dog, This book teach you how “Acceptance of others helps one find self-acceptance as well, problems can be an opportunity to learn and grow, a person can turn a weakness into a strength” and this all depends on how you interpret the book, one might say that they get a different message, and that is totally fine. It’s all about how you can turn the story into your own life experiences.The book is for adults, But if you think that you can handle it then you are more than welcome to read it. I promise that it will be one of the best book you have ever read.

The author of this book is named Mark Haddon. Mark Haddon is 51 years old, and was born 26 September 1962 in Northampton England. He went to a school called Uppingham School and studied English. After college Mark Haddon was occupied with many different jobs. One  the jobs included working with disabled people, and creating illustrations and cartoon for magazine and Newspaper companies. Mark Haddon also worked with autistic individuals as a young man. After many years mark decided to write his first children's book, which was called Gilbert’s Gobstopper. After writing this book he also wrote a several other children's book. He also wrote some Screen plays for BBC television. In 2003 He won the “Whitbread Book of the Year Award” One of his best selling book called  “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” He won many awards after that as well. One of the things that made Mark such a sensational writer was because he wasn’t only a writer, He was an artist. So therefore his work was very catchy. He try to fit his own personal life, and personal experiences  into the stories that he wrote. You will definitely see that as you read his work.

Mark Haddon have a very unique style of writing. One example is while reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I notice that the book Christopher was writing is the book that we actually have in our hands. Well it will be in your’s if you decide to read this Amazing book. Since the novel that I read was the novel Christopher was writing, it made me feel closer to him. For same that reason, I felt like I was looking at the world from his perspective. The fact that we are  positioned in his shoes make it easy for the reader to understand the Novel.

I personally enjoyed reading this book because I believe that no matter what your conditions are you should still be treated “normal.” I mean is “normal” even normal, how do we know what’s normal and what’s not. Is there such thing called “Normal” This book got me thinking otherwise, Now I have a different perspective on how we look at people that have disabilities. I believe that no one can tell you what you are capable of. Christopher had autism so therefore he got treated differently. Christopher is someone you can look up to, because no matter what he didn’t let his obstacles get in the way of his success. I highly recommend this book. If you like  Daniel Isn't Talking, or  When I Was 5 I Killed Myself you will definitely enjoy this book, and even if you haven’t read the two book listed above you can still enjoy reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

These are some quotes that I really liked. My mind personally works like this sometimes.“But in life you have to take lots of decisions and if you don't take decisions you would never do anything because you would spend all your time choosing between things you could do. So it is good to have a reason why you hate some things and you like others.” My other favorite quote was “I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.” Read this book, and you will find many more amazing quotes like the one above. To finish up, I want to introduce you to a quote by one of my favorite writers, ― Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

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Christopher and His Kind

WGeary Christopher and His Kind Book Cover
I redesigned Christopher Isherwood's Christopher and His Kind book cover. I took the art deco book cover and the 2011 movie poster and mashed them up into an art deco style version of the movie poster.
Book Review:

Christopher Isherwood is known as a pioneer of gay literature. He wrote many fictional books based oh his life in Berlin’s gay community in the early to mid 1900s. Christopher and His Kind, is one of Isherwood’s few non-fictional books and is very much an autobiography. The book was written as a reflection on ten years of his life from 1929-1939. The book was published in early 1976 and gathers Isherwood’s, diary entries, letters between Isherwood and his close friends, excerpts from his books and personal memory into one intellectually gripping book.

Christopher and His Kind was in many ways Isherwood’s tell all book. He writes of his outlandish friends and what characters they inspired in his previous novels, We meet Gerald Hamilton, the main character from Mr. Norris Changes Trains. Gerald is an older gay man who is known throughout Europe as a slimy conman who Christopher (like many others) is drawn to. Isherwood also writes about the Dramatic Jean Ross, the Lead character in Sally Bowls, she is a loud and theatrical British woman to which Christopher has a sisterly connection to. 

We also get to meet Christopher’s Personal friends and Colleagues like Wystan Auden, a satyrical poet who invites Christopher to Berlin in the first place; E.M. Forester, Author of the widely successful A passage to India and Isherwood’s mentor; Stephen Spender known for his many books of poetry. Then there is of course, Heinz Neddermeyer, Christopher’s love interest for the majority of the book, who he explored Europe with in the mid 1930s.

The story begins as Christopher takes a short vacation to visit Wystan Auden in Berlin. Auden takes Christopher around berlin, showing him the underground bars where Berlin’s gay culture thrived. After this trip, Christopher falls in love with Berlin and shortly after, moves there permanently. Christopher Lived in Berlin, moving to new parts of the city and meeting new people and writing new books, until the Nazi takeover in 1933. Christopher spent much of his time after leaving Germany in England, writing screenplays and trying desperately to get Heinz out of Germany. Christopher begins to develop a hatred for the U.K. and struggles to get both he and Heinz to the United States.

Christopher and His Kind as a book in entirety, is incredibly interesting because of the way that it is narrated, Isherwood talks in both the first and third person at any said time, attempting to distinguish between his past self and his present self. This leads to a multi-layered story, with the almost novelesque writings of his experiences in the 20s and 30s, but with an overlying narration from Isherwood, where he looks back and explains why he did something or how he feels about a certain topic now that he is older. In this  overlying narration, he adds in interesting things for the reader like diary entries, letters and poems. This makes Christopher and His Kind a fascinating theory book to boot, Isherwood deals with homosexuality and human behavior and contemplates them in a way that one can only do many years after the fact.

BBC released a movie based on Christopher and His Kind in 2011. Needless to say, it is very different than the book, having Christopher and all of his friends live in the same apartment building together when in reality, they may never have met each other at all. BBC did a fantastic job casting the rolls for the movie and the actors look exactly how Isherwood describes them in the book. The visual of the characters from the the movie crossed with the depth of the characters from the book created a very 3D and real aspect to story.

The movie has a phenomenal cast, starring Matt Smith who gives a remarkable performance as Christopher. Smith captured many of Isherwood’s mannerisms and plays a remarkably believable gay man. Watching the movie, then reading the book can be very interesting in terms of contrast, Smith gives such a wonderful performance as Christopher that one can’t help but prefer to imagine him rather than Isherwood in the role. Although That’s not to discount Isherwood’s writing style. Isherwood is known as one of the most influential Gay writers of his time. If you’re a fan of gay and lesbian literature, read any of Isherwood’s books, and know that they are the first of their kind. 

Christopher and His Kind

Christopher Isherwood

Publisher: Mc-Graw Hill

Year Published: 1976

Pages: 339 

Gay, Drama, Romance, Autobiography 

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Book Review-Graceling

This is a book cover of Graceling that was redesigned. All the words besides the name of the author are written in ciphers. The code for this cipher is "Lady Killer" and the new alphabet is alined along the bottom of the cover. The cover has a map of the Seven Kingdoms with the major cities labeled.

Katsa, known as “The Lady Killer,” travels across the kingdoms, only to discover a truth that is so horrible and threatens her life. Graceling is set in a place where there are Seven Kingdoms and in these kingdoms, there are people who can be born with two different colored eyes, called Gracelings. Gracelings are graced with different skills, ranging from speed, mind-control and many more. Once their eyes settle into two different colors, they are immediate sent to the king of their kingdom to become his tools. Katsa, niece of King Randa of the Middluns is graced with killing and is used by him to torture his enemies. Katsa does not like that she has to torture people, therefore she created a secret council that goes around saving people in need, as a way to rebel secretly. While on a mission, she meets Prince Greening Grandemalion or “Po”, of Lienid who is supposedly graced with fighting. There has been news that Queen Ashen of Monsea, aunt of Prince Po has locked herself and her daughter, Princess Bitterblue in her rooms because of the kidnapping of her own father. Po feels that is very unlikely that Queen Ashen would lock herself and that there has to be a different reason for it. Together Katsa and Po traveled through the borders of the other kingdoms to reach Monsea, only to find the nasty truth and now having to save Princess Bitterblue.

The author of the novel, Kristin Cashore is an American fantasy author from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is a new author compared to others authors. Her debut book, Graceling, was published in October 2008 and the companion, Fire, was published one year later in October 2009. The third book, sequel of Graceling, Bitterblue, was released on May 1, 2012. These are the three books that was published from Kristin Cashore. She is currently working on more books.

Kristin Cashore’s writing style is very unique and descriptive. She has a certain way of conveying character’s emotion and feelings without saying it straightforwardly. The emotions that her characters have are relatable to readers due to the fact that she makes them seem very realistic. She paints images beautifully, that allows the readers to imagine this amazing world that she created.

Kristin Cashore explores a few themes throughout Graceling, that teenagers can connect with at this moment. One major theme in the book was that no one can define your identity but it must be discovered from within. Katsa has a killing grace which is feared by almost everyone who has heard of her and so they think of her like a monster. When others think of her as a monster, she accepts and believes that she is. Throughout the book, she discovers that she does not have to be what people assume her to be because that is not her true self. On page 137, she thought, “When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster?” At this part, she began to realize that she was killing people because she was told to by the king but this was not something that she wanted to do. From this moment on, she started to discover and show others that she is not a monster but something else entirely.

Another theme was that women can live comfortably without having men to protect or lead them. Kristin Cashore tends to depict strong, independent and confident girl characters in her books especially in Graceling. In Katsa’s mind, she thinks that marrying would mean that she would have no more freedom and that it would make her an object of a male and that is why she choose not to marry at all. Not only is she a woman who can survive and provide for herself, but she also wants other girls, especially the younger ones to do the same. She despises the fact that some girl do not even know how to protect themselves but have to rely on their male family members instead.

Graceling exceeded my expectations because it was really different and it was a page turner for me. I loved how she was able to create a world so unique and amazing that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know more about everything because it is the type of book that leaves me wondering. The storyline was interesting, the book was well written, the emotions were so realistic, the world was amazing. This is truly one of the best books I have ever read and I can not get enough of it. It exceeded my expectation to the point that I had to pick it back up and read it over again. Every time I read it, I get something new from it, yet at the same time it is like deja vu. My second time reading it felt like my first. I got excited, angry, happy, surprised all over again, like I did not know what was already going to happen. It is very hard to find a book that can have this effect on me therefore there was nothing that I did not like.

This book may not be the perfect type for some people but I recommend this book to people who are looking for something new and different because they may end up liking it. Also this book would be great for people who love fantasy and want to discover a whole new world that is both beautiful and horrible at the same time. This book is for people who love to read about women who are strong individuals. Even if this is a book that does not sound interesting, I suggest giving it a try because it is a book full of mysteries and secrets.

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore 
Publisher: Graphia, 
Publishing Date: 2008 
Pages: 471
Genre: Fantasy

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Q1 Benchmark- 1984 Book Review

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Alex Held

Earth Stream

1984 Book Review

Power. It gives a person the potential to rule or to govern with a guiding hand for the prosperity of a country and it’s people. But more often, it has the propensity to corrupt and eradicate equality. It alters speech and changes behavior. It impregnates the susceptible mind with deceit and reaps it of its morals.

George Orwell, the author of 1984, was an English novelist, whose works are often highlighted for his articulate prose, commitment to democratic socialism, and his awareness of social justice. All of these qualities in addition to his extraordinary knowledge of totalitarianism aided him in creating one of the most spectacular and eloquently written novels of all time; one that not only displayed how thoroughly he grasped one of the most austere conflicts of the 20th century and the possible repercussions of a German victory in the Second World War or Stalin’s second Great Purge that never was, but also allowed him to strikingly do so in such an unsettling and dismaying manner. A manner that can never be reproduced. 1984 was the final book produced by Orwell in the year before he passed away. Other notable works written by him are Animal Farm, and Homage to Catalonia.

George Orwell’s gripping novel written in 1949 throws the reader into Oceania. No, not the Southern Pacific islands and Australia, but a worn-torn, totalitarian “Superstate,” whose decrepit slums serve as the home to almost all of the its population. The few percent of the population of Oceania who are rarely ever seen, just whispered of by the “proles” who live in perpetual fear of these very people, go by the name of the Inner Party. The two other Superstates’ (Eastasia: Obliteration of the Self), (Eurasia: Neo-Bolshevism) inhabitants reside in anything but harmony, just like those of Oceania.

All three Superstates are at a incessant war and live under the yoke of their own versions of The Party and it’s privileged elite. The Party dictates society through the euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) political system. They, however, both fully devote their lives to Big Brother, an apocryphal, quasi-divine figure who is the at the utter Zenith of the hierarchy on earth where “WAR IS PEACE”  and government surveillance is ubiquitous in the form of mind control telescreens. Any manifestation of individualism or thinking that may be deemed independent is looked on as a “thoughtcrime.” Those who are even accused of committing thoughtcrime are sent to a torture and reformation facility ironically named the Ministry of Love.

Orwell involuntarily connected the “watchful eye” perspective in 1984 of Big Brother and The Party to many things 60 years in the future. The United States has duplicated the idea of telescreens in an tenor manner with the NSA (National Security Agency), despite the fact that they would like to admit to it. It is no secret that the NSA listens in on every phone call, tracks internet history, and maintains close surveillance on everyone living in the country and even more so those out of it, living in countries that the United States is affiliated with, as allies or opponents. It is becoming increasingly palpable that the Orwellian themes in 1984 are unavoidable.

The protagonist of the book is a man named Winston Smith. Winston lives in Oceania and is a member of the outer party. His profession is in historical revisionism, where he alters history in favor of The Party, which, again shows how they censor any and everything from the people. Winston is depicted throughout the book by Orwell as an intelligent man, but one whose oppressed and thus, his intelligence is vastly hindered by both fear of thoughtcrime and just deprivation of knowledge concealed by the Party. Although he serves The Party, Winston secretly hopes that Big Brother is subjugated by some rebellion. “If there is hope, it lies in the proles,” is something that Winston keeps ensconced in his mind.

As the book progresses Winston meets a girl named Julia. As Orwell describes her, Julia is  a young girl who also works in the same field as he does, historical revisionism. Orwell’s language in the book suggest that Winston not only had mixed feelings about Julia (one time suspecting she was a member of the Thought Police), but also that he desires to feel love once more and that he can achieve that with her. Not love in the way he did for his wife some time ago when he initially met her, but a kind of dispassionate connection he now has with her. He desires that with Julia. She is his new beginning and his revitalization, but their relationship is far more bound than it ever was with his wife.

Orwell not only affects Julia and Winston’s relationship with the aspect of neverending surveillance of every move they make and every word they utter, but with just the environment alone that they, and everyone else around them are forced to live in. 1984 will leave you wondering if Winston can perpetuate his visits with Julia, with each tryst becoming more jeopardous than the last. Orwell creates a bleak scenario for a love affair that makes one question if there is even any love left to give. He offers a book-long question of whether or not there there is any promise that remains on earth, or has hope become completely effete.

1984 is a book that will really test you optimistic types out there. Can The Party be overthrown or will they do what no other ruling system has done before: watch everyone, crush every rebellion, and stay in perpetual control. Can the keep strengthening their plutocracy, which gives them the only wealth they’ll ever need, power and fear? George Orwell baits you with hope, but is there any that remains?

Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

Publisher: Secker and Warburg

Date of Publication: 1949

Number of Pages: 328 Pages with afterword

Genre: Dystopian, Political Fiction, Social Science Fiction

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Collins, Bailey: Book Review Q1

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The Awkward Type

‘Eleanor and Park’ By Rainbow Rowell

When I first began reading the book Eleanor and Park, I expected it to be a story about love and music. I never expected the rest. I bought the book because my teacher rated it five stars. So it must be great. She was right. I am not one to read stories about teenage love. Most of my book choices are about people with psychological issues. Reading about teenage love always felt so cliché. Every little girl wants to fall in love and have a perfect life, but I never believed in love like this book made me believe. This book truly captured the imperfect side of love. Where it is unintentional, straining, and very awkward.

Eleanor and Park is a fictional novel written by Rainbow Rowell. This is Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults. It is a story with love, misfits, and great music references.

and the most incredible descriptions of how love truly is. The book is set in 1986, and spans from September and through the school year.

Eleanor is the main character. Eleanor has bright red hair. She is chubby and pasty white with freckles all over. She is also made fun of by the popular kids in school for her hair, being visibly poor, dressing like a boy, and because she is a bigger girl, but not fat, more curvy. Eleanor has three brothers and one sister. They are all younger than her. Her stepfather is Richie. This book begins when she is moving back to her mother’s house because her stepfather kicked her out a year before. This man is the antagonist. He is scary, but in a deadbeat, always drunk, cursing at small children for wetting the bed and screaming at his wife who is crying because she is just afraid, type of scary. None of them can get away though.

Park was a very innocent character. His examples of love were so powerful, unlike Eleanor’s examples. His mother is from Korea and his father was stationed in Korea after the Vietnam War. They fell in love and he brought her back to America. Park’s parents are still in love and they are just always happy with each other. Rainbow Rowell does an excellent way of showing all of the different “types” of love that can be. Park is the weird kid on the bus, who wears black clothes and listens to punk music. He isn’t made fun of for being different because he has lived in the neighborhood his whole life and in the 6th grade he dated the popular girl.

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus. She was lost and nobody wanted to sit next to the new girl that had fake pearls on and patched up jeans. Park just curses at her to sit down though. It takes months for them to have any type of conversation. They sit quietly and try so hard to not make eye contact. One day, Park realizes that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder. He starts bringing her other comics to read. He gives her stacks and she always brings them back smelling like a field of roses. On the day that Park forgets to grab the stack of comics for her is the first day they say anything to each other. They begin talking about music.

“You can be Han Solo," he said, kissing her throat. "And I'll be Boba Fett. I'll cross the sky for you.” This is a quote from the book. I want to explain my reaction to just this line. I read this quote before I got to where it was in the book because of a website called ‘Goodreads.’ I was reading a review and I knew that I needed to read this book because of this line. The way that Rowell writes this line made me so excited. The reference is from Star Wars. A few times during the book, Eleanor and Park talk about Star Wars, and how they’re love is like that. I knew that I needed to read this book because this “nerd love” is the best kind of relationship to me. I fell in love before I began reading. This book is stocked full of these very graphic descriptions. Most are about the love story and I swooned at every one. Rowell gave the same power in her descriptions of everything that you didn’t know could scare you or make you want to cry.

This book was just incredible to me. I felt everything that both characters were feeling. I cried when the book ended because all I wanted to do was read more and have their story live on forever. Everytime Park had to remind Eleanor how he felt about her, I fell in love and wished I could find this fictional character and have him love me. These two characters are very awkward. They aren’t outgoing and they try to stay invisible, or just be. When they meet, sit together, and finally speak, they are noticed by everyone. The hand-holding between Eleanor and Park is written so intense. Park says, “Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” Rainbow Rowell did an incredible job of writing about this type of love and the only part of the book that fell short was how it ends. I won’t give it away though. I just wanted the book to go on forever.

In the New York Times, John Greene wrote in his review, “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” I am young, and I don’t have a very good understanding of what love will be like when I find it, but I know exactly what it is like to fall in love with a book, and I can’t wait to reread this book and fall in love all over again. Mark Twain once said, “Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” This quote spoke true while I was reading Eleanor and Park. Rainbow Rowell creates an excellent picture that engages the reader so deeply that they forget about the real world and their life is in this novel.

The day after I finished reading Eleanor & Park, I immediately began reading her book ‘Attachments’. I am not very far into the book, I know that it is a struggle to get into this book because it isn’t much like Eleanor and Park besides also being a love story. Being a teenager, I find it so much easier to read about people my own age. It gives me a better connection so I can feel like I am in the book and this is my other life.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press.

Published: February 2013.

328 pages.

Work of fiction.
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Looking For Alaska


After constant bombardments of praise for John Green’s books, I’d decided to pick up Looking For Alaska after many recommendations and the shiny Pulitzer Prize stamp on the cover. Interested with the summary on Wikipedia, I raced to my nearest library and picked up the book. Within the first night of starting it, I could not put it down and I’ll be honest, it’s by far my favorite book written for young adults. Initially, this book is divided into two sections: Before and After. This introduces a suspension for the reader that makes you want to keep reading, in order to find out what happens “After”.

Miles “Pudge” Halter is a new student of Culver Creek Preparatory High School. His roommate Chip, or as he prefers to be called, “The Colonel” is just a normal kid who enjoys himself and everything else a teenager might. It isn’t until Pudge meets Colonel’s friend Alaska that he is instantly changed. Just like that, Miles falls in love with this mysterious girl who opens him to a new world. With a cast of quirky but muddled characters, John Green leads you through a harsh reality through the eyes of a mousy fifteen year old boy.

John Green is well known for his tear jerking novels, such as his latest The Fault In Our Stars. All of his books follow the main character, a teenager, and include romance. It is usually cheesy romance, but nonetheless not Twilight romance. John Green aims his books towards both boys and girls alike, so that everyone can read and enjoy his work. With this in mind, his very first books all have a male character as lead, until TFIOS. His style of writing varies between books but all of them are written with a feeling of sincerity and emotion that many young adult books lack. John Green has a strong respect for teenagers and with that he writes honestly from a teenager’s point of view. Having been a teenager, John Green knows exactly what we go through and can certainly relate. Looking For Alaska is an example of this.

The author also uses many themes and symbols to connect his characters and the reader and manage to create a relationship between them. In this book, John Green explores major themes such as teenage behavior (a humorous “sex” scene included), regret, depression and death. These are the themes that form a book filled with mixed feelings. I think John Green did a good job creating characters who dealt with their personal problems in different ways, but fell short making them come alive. Alaska was a girl who was very mysterious and as a reader, I never learned much about her. She was a bag of storms who could never make up her mind about how she felt and this bothered me in ways. I felt like she could have been stronger and could have caught my eye if John Green had made her reveal more about herself, instead of leaving us with this girl with no emotion. The way she dealt with her problems was a little distasteful and got boring for me. Every chapter, the characters are either drinking and smoking, or whining about themselves. This leads me to Pudge. Miles reminded me of Charlie from Perks Of Being A Wallflower. He is the new kid that falls into a group of rowdy kids and is changed for good because of the way they act and the girl in the group. Pudge was a character I wanted to like but I just couldn’t get my head around the way he acted. In the first couple chapters, he was ok and I could get along with him and his feelings, but as the book progressed, he went downhill. In the end, I wanted to stop the book a couple chapters early because of him. His friend The Colonel didn’t help much either. The remaining characters weren’t very present and didn’t add much to the plot.

Besides the character development failure, I felt like John Green made up for it with the setting and plot. I usually don’t like books that take place on a school setting but the author used the setting to his advantage and to keep the reader interested. The characters are pranksters and enjoy breaking the school rules, which provides humor to the book. I also enjoyed the lack of other students in the school so that you can really focus on the main characters and get to know them. Many school based young adult books introduce you to multiple groups of characters, when Looking For Alaska focuses on the small group of kids and really makes you feel like you are part of that group.

In the end, I finished the book with mixed feelings. Through the first read, I stopped and took a break because of the overwhelming feelings that came with it but I recovered a couple weeks later and finished. As the first book written by John Green and the first read myself, I definitely would recommend this book for anyone starting to read John Green for the first time. I followed this book with Paper Towns, also by John Green, and started a reading frenzy. I recommend taking your time reading through this book, which was hard for me because John Green absorbed me into his writing easily, but try to enjoy what is given to you. (¾ stars)

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 221
Genre: Young Adult
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Carrie By:Donesha Lee


By:Donesha Lee

Book Review

Goose bump chilling,spine crawling,and hair raising books have been produced by plenty of world-known authors.Stephen Edwin King, an American author of Portland, Maine is known for his wonderful additions to this writing community.As a young child “King” went through a traumatic experience of seeing his friend being struck by a train.King’s parents say he came home “speechless and seemingly in shock.”, but does not seem to have any recollection of it ever happening.His past experiences have influenced his dark productions such as finding a stack of “short stories, entitled The Lurker in the Shadows,”by H.P. Lovecraft, which all belonged to his father that left at a younger age.He went on to tell “Barnes & Noble Studios during a 2009 interview, "I knew that I'd found home when I read that book.” Stating that he knew he was supposed to write horror stories in his upcoming life.However, King’s first published novel “Carrie” was a book he didn’t believe would make it as big as it did.

“Carrie” is a great product of King’s imaginative horror,suspenseful, and science fiction works. The story is written in epistolary form, which is a bunch of newspaper clippings,articles from magazines, and letters from different characters thrown together to give off the telling of a story.Most of it circles around third point of view.It was released April 5,1979, which had an estimate of first print -run of 30,000 copies.King said that he found that the book was quite “raw”, but “had a surprising power to hurt and horrify”.His wife “Tabitha or Tabby” was actually the person who asked King to continue on his journey writing it.It actually went on to profit him $2,500 in advance, but was $400,000 in paperback rights later on.The book is a generally banned book in the United States School System.However, lucky our school.

King says the book was based on two girls he knew during high school growing up.It is advertised as a story of “how women find their own channels of power, and what men fear about women and women’s sexuality.”The story establishes the scenes of a young girl who day in and day out is bullied by her peers, has a highly religious mother,and finds she has telekinetic powers. Carrie is a soft-spoken child manipulated by everyone that she comes into contact with in life.She is a curious teenage girl who just wants to be accepted, but her mother will not let her have that, crushing her under the influence of praying and “God’s way” every minute she can get.

Reflecting back on this book, I can say it was good to get through it. The scenes were easy to read individually, but put together was hard to follow due to its form of writing. It would be like if I read some of it, sat it down, and came back to it;I would have to reread what I previously did. This book requires patience and time.Its 199 page size does not change the difference. In order to comprehend what is happening in the book a person must carefully follow which ever clipping they are reading at the time is describing or saying.

A word of advice about this book is if you don’t have the greatest memory, or patience to go back, and check what you previously read, THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU. You will probably consistently have to do that, but not everyone is the same, and may not have the same problems. However, if you are passionately dedicated to read this book before you attend the new remake film of it in theaters, or have heard so much about it, than be my guess. It is a intriguingly interesting, creepy,and is written an a almost mystery type of writing.If you find bullying a little to hard to read, then this may not be the best story to pick on the shelf.You constantly find yourself asking the question “Why are you not doing something?” You begin to lose “YOUR” mentality and morals. This book pulls you into a world of bullying that no one should ever have to go through. It enlightens a whole other side of King’s imaginative skills from his early ages.



Author:Stephen E. King


Date of publication:April 5,1974

Number of pages:199


"Welcome to" Welcome to N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

King, Stephen E. "Carrie (novel)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

"Stephen King." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

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An Abundance of Katherines


John Green published his first book, Looking For Alaska, all the way back in 2005. Since then the book has become an acclaimed young adult novel and has won awards like the Michael L. Print Award from the American Library Association. Since then Green has published 3 more novels including 2 collaboration novels. His own works have received positive acclaim by both adults and teenagers around the world. His works have spread far enough to have been published in more than a dozen different languages. Starting in 2007, John Green and his brother Hank Green began making youtube videos under the channel Vlogbrothers. Through youtube, John Green’s books were made known and he gained a number of followers. An Abundance of Katherines, Green’s second teen novel, follows a teenage boy on a journey dedicated to discovering a great math equation and the art of story-telling. 

Colin Singleton, child prodigy and aspiring genius, has just had his most recent break up with Katherine 19. Colin’s infamous dating career has resulted in him getting dumped and falling into a small depression, but this time is different. Colin’s depression leads to a road trip with his weight-heavy, Muslim best friend, Hassan. On the road Colin aims to finish his universal equation that would determine the fate of any romantic relationship ever. The duo’s adventure lands them in Gutshot, Tennessee, a town dependent on a tampon string factory. Here, Colin and Hassan land a job recording the town’s history by interviewing the inhabitants of Gutshot. It will take a few adventures in Gutshot and quite a bit of sappy moments for Collin to restore himself and come to life changing conclusions. 

John Green experimented writing in the third person point of view, while he wrote  An Abundance of Katherines. On his blog, Green explains that he didn’t think it would make sense for the book to be written in first person if the main protagonist lacked story-telling skills at the beginning in the book. The language style in An Abundance of Katherines mainly focuses on metaphors and foreign phrases, courtesy of Hassan. 

Finding one’s unique identity is one of the main themes in the novel. In the beginning Collin wants to become a genius more than anything else and it literally takes a book for him to discover who he really wants to be. Not only does Collin have a goal for who he wants to become, he has his own reasoning behind it. Collin wants to matter to the world. He is chasing after recognition so that he does not become sort of insignificant to the world. Personally, John Green had a great, constant writing style through out the book.

I had mixed feelings about An Abundance Of Katherines. The book met my expectations in the writing style section. John Green can make characters talk like real teenagers and he gives them common dilemmas that teenagers can relate to. I enjoyed the footnotes full of fun facts and explanations of the crazy math that Collin thinks of. To be brutally honest I was disappointed with this book with how the main protagonist carried himself. Collin was whiny and extremely geeky; although he tried really hard to cover up his awkwardness at times which kind of countered the whole theme of “discovering one’s self”. The plot of the book was sort of random, not in how it was structured but in the way that makes you think “Where did John Green get these ideas from?”. In short, the character development in the book and the strange plot did not appeal to me but I was satisfied by the writing style and overall messages. Unfortunately the book did not exceed any of my expectations. 

An Abundance of Katherines perfectly fits under the Beauty and the Geek category which is one that I don’t often read. The romance is really sappy and cheesy which might appeal to some people. Although the messages were good, the book is not worth reading if you are not into geeky teen romance or random math spasms. People who are suckers for smooth, cheesy pick up lines and teenagers having super deep conversation will definitely enjoy An Abundance of Katherines. I recommend this book to people who enjoy John Green’s other works because it does have a few comedic moments and has that teenage love story some people might relate to.Other than that you should only read it if you can put up with the amount of eye rolling you will be doing every time Collin mentions his love of Katherines. 

Title: An Abundance of Katherines

Author:John Green

Pub date: Sept 1, 2006

Page count: 256p

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult

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Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian Review By: Michael Nicolella

Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is about a Native American teenager named Arnold (nickname Junior) who lives on a reservation. He is considered the dorkiest kid in his reservation and he is constantly bullied. One day during school, he gets a geometry book that his mother used almost 30 years ago. At that moment, he realizes that he needs a better education and he gets so mad he throws the textbook and it hits his teacher.

He ends up getting suspended. He realizes during his suspension that he needs to leave the reservation or else he will end up like everyone else in his reservation, poor and drunk. Here is a little taste of one of his moments where he realizes he needs to leave:

“‘Who has the most hope?’ I asked.

Mom and Dad looked at each other. They studied each other. They studied each other’s eyes, you know, like they had antennas and were sending radios signals to each other. And they both looked back at me.

‘Come on,’ I said. ‘Who has the most hope?’

‘White people,’ My parents said at the same time....

‘I want to transfer schools,’ ...

‘I want to go to Rederan,’ I said.

Rederan is the rich, white farm town that sits in the wheat fields exactly twenty-two miles away from the rez.” (P.45)

The way the author writes is obviously in first person. I think that this is the best way to show the development of the character. You hear all of his thoughts and know what is going on within him. The way Sherman Alexie writes is hard to describe, but I would call it an informal way of writing. He writes in a simple way, like a kid would think or talk which makes it makes it much better when he is thinking or talking because nobody speaks perfect english and this adds a little more authenticity to the characters. Also, it’s easy to read and funny sometimes too.

Sherman Alexie is almost exactly like his character. He grew up on a Native American reservation and was born into a poor family (like most Native Americans). He was born with a condition where spinal fluid was in his skull and it made his head big. He  had surgery and the risk of his brain being damaged was very high but he turned out to be fine. He was also bullied as a kid because of the size of his head. Also just like in his book, he left his reservation school and went to Rederan high school to get a better quality of education.


One of the best things about this book is that I actually laughed from this book. I genuinely liked it. One cool thing that made the world actually real was the main character, Arnold who is actually Sherman. The book is about his early life and the struggles that he had to go through being born with a deformation that made his head huge. It really shows that people can achieve anything no matter what holds them back. Also the drawings usually add a bit of humor to the situations. They usually make fun of people and he also says that they are his escape from the hard things.


I wish I could say something bad about the book itself, but I really liked it. I can relate to and understand what happens to Junior and why he chooses what he does. Some people think that talking about sex and girls in a book is a bad thing (and it was actually banned in a few schools because of that) but that stuff is in everyones life if you like it or not. It’s something that cannot be ignored.

I would think that this book is for almost everyone as long as you can get past some of the sex and language in the book. I don’t find it that bad but it did get banned in a few places so it must be for some people. I think what makes it good for everyone is that everyone was once a teenager and had to deal with the pressures of going to high school for the first time.

Book Info:

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian

By: Sherman Alexie

Publisher: Brown and Company

Date of Publication: September 2007

Pages: 230

Genre: Fiction, Young adult literature, Children’s literature

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Spanish reflection #7

Chris Tran


Nexus 7, la mejor tableta Android:

Este artículo se trata de la tableta de Nexus 7. Gente dijeron esta la tableta de Nexus 7 es mejor que Ipad. Esta tableta es hecho por Google, un compañía mejor en Los Estados Unidos y el mundo. Por treinta dolares más su puede tener esta tableta. Esta tableta es más caro porque es un modelo nuevo. La pantalla de esta tableta es grande y tener bueno ángulos por un pantalla de cualquier tableta. Esta pantalla es bueno por juegue videojuegos en la tableta. La lista de Best in Tech tuve esta tableta como una tableta mejor. Yo pienso esta tableta es el mejor porque una tableta con una gráficas buena y es bueno por juegue videojuegos. También yo pienso esta tableta va a vender mucho tabletas y hago mucho dinero. En el futuro la tableta y tecnología en todo va a mucho mejor y hago tecnología mejor. El vocabulario que yo aprendí en el artículo es iteración. Iteración es un proceso de repetir un proceso. Yo encontrado la palabra en esta sentencia en el artículo. “La popular mini tableta, la cual fue lanzada el año pasado por Google, sólo ha mejorado con la llegada de la segunda iteración. (CNN)

Word count: 200

Work Cited:

"Nexus 7, La Mejor Tableta Android." CNN En Espaol Ultimas Noticias De Estados Unidos Latinoamrica Y El Mundo Opinin Y Videos RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <>.
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Prisoner of Trebekistan book review

The first time I read Bob Harris’ “Prisoner of Trebekistan”  I was 12 years old, and in a frenzy over jeopardy. 4 year, and countless books later, it is still the one i come back to time and time again, for its odd connections, and off humor. The book is one part autobiography, one part jeopardy study guide, and one part life advice, that combines in the strangest way possible to form an experience that is visceral, and exciting.

The book proper starts with a brief overview of the history of jeopardy, and how the creator, Merv Griffin came up with the idea. He then jumps into an anecdote of his experience taking the jeopardy test, and eventually succeeding to get on the show. After some humorous faltering he manages to win his first game. He is quickly consumed by his studies, so much so that he stops doing routine things like washing clothes and going outside. This world of learning where different themes and ideas converge to form an overarching narrative of the world at large, is known as Trebekistan.

The biggest draw of “Prisoner of Trebekistan”, is the author’s ability to convey his thoughts and emotions with such clarity that it impacts you on a deep level. The book is at its core, a tale of a small town boy who moves to hollywood, and gets an opportunity to take part in a game that he never imagined. When he wins, you feel every ounce of excitement that he feels. When he is sad you will be brought to the verge of tears. There is never a point in the story where you feel disconnected from him, because even though he is going through so many foreign experiences, he is a very relatable and down to earth “Character”. He makes readers root for him, and want to experience these things with him.

If you have an interest in Jeopardy, the this book was tailor made for you. The author gives insight into how a game of jeopardy works. The author does a good job of showing exactly how playing a game of Jeopardy affects your mind, as well as how your frame of mind affects your level of skill when playing. It shines light on what it takes to be a jeopardy champion, and gives information on why knowing the answers does not guarantee you a win. Most importantly it is packed full of information, that anyone who craves knowledge will embrace wholeheartedly. The things you will learn will span all subjects, and transcend time, ranging from fanciful humor, to serious medical conditions, and they are presented in the most humorous way possible.

And of course you cannot forget Harris’ self depreciating form of humor. After college he spent years as a stand up comedian, and it shows through in every joke, and wisecrack. Harris makes wild and humorous analogies to describe the functions of the human brain. Using humor, and crudeness to memorize important facts is just one of the many tips he gives to set readers on their way to becoming a Jeopardy champion.

None of this is to say that the book is without its flaws. Harris is prone to long tangents that have little to do with the topic at hand, and he has some really roundabout ways of making points. Some will argue that’s the point, making obscure connections in ways that no one would ever notice, but after a while, it begins to seem tangential. Despite being relatable, Bob can also be very unlikable. At sometimes it seems as though he is forcing his self depreciation for a joke, making the entire experience feel disingenuous. Beyond a certain point the satire can become dry, and insufferable.

The biggest weakness of the book is that it is excessively preachy. Almost from the beginning morals are shoved down your throat in a way that tries to be fun, but is ultimately hamfisted. He outlines steps to “Enlightened Jeopardy” which are for the most part very traditionally eastern beliefs, slightly modified to fit jeopardy. He claims that following the path as closely as possible will lead to happiness, yet their are times in the book where following the path his led him to his own disasters, undoing him, and his life at large.  The heavy handedness and irony of his steps make parts of the book almost unbearable.

In the end whether or not you will like Bob Harris’ “Prisoner of Trebekistan” comes down to complete personal preference. If you enjoy silly writing with airy characters, and learning a lot about how to learn a lot, along with lots of other things, the this is the book for you. On the other hand, if lofty morals, and overused satire are off putting, you may not want to pick this one up. You should give it a try, read some previews, and reviews, and check it out to see if it appeals to you.
prisoner of trebekistan remix think music
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English Q1 BM: Book Review for The Golden Compass

The author of this splendid book is Philip Pullman. He is an excellent author who won awards for his series trilogy of “His Dark Materials”. He was born in the town of Norwich, England in 1946. He taught english at Oxford Middle Schools for a while until he went on to teach at Westminster College. He tries to write stories that can grab readers attention, but most of his reader are pre-teen and teen. Philip Pullman also wrote other fantastic stories like book 2 and 3 of his trilogy of His Dark Material, Puss in Boots, The Broken Bridge, and The Butterfly Tattoo. The book that I’m doing this book review on is his first book from his award winning series. The Golden Compass is a book that takes you back to the era similar to the Victorian Era that occurred in England; an era where the church rules everything and there are scholars and students who attend Universities. Lyra, a young girl who lives in the university with her daemon, Pantalaimon, likes to lurk around the university and nearby towns. One day, her uncle, an important man, has came to the university to talk to the headmaster and other scholars about a discovery that he had uncovered in this journey in the great North. Then Lyra saved her uncle from being killed by an attempted assassination. Saving her uncle was just the beginning of the chains of many tortuous and dangerous events that Lyra will experience later in the book.  She went through many hardships during some events and also found herself in danger. Events like getting abducted by a lady that commits hideous acts, traveling to the great north with Egyptians to save children from being severed, or risking her life to save her friend’s life. During this grand journey, Lyra has found her talent and unique qualities, qualities that she would soon use to unlock key information that relates to the rescue of these children. Lyra, who is intelligent, brave, and adventurous, has gone through a journey that will change and influenced her life.  

The structure of this book is like any other book, the story has an uphill part which leads to the climax, and then the downhill. The Golden Compass did a great job of grabbing the readers attention on the very first page. Throughout the book, the author used lots of figurative language and adjectives that gives off lots of imagery, which grabs readers attention and makes books more interesting to read. The type of speech that he included in this book caught my attention as well. The speech matches the context of the story and its plot. Since this book has a setting similar to the Victorian Era, the author has carefully set this type of language back into the story to help the readers be aware of the time period that the setting is in. The idea that this book explored was the idea of mixing the Victorian Era and its complex language with a genre like science fiction. This kind of mixture for an idea of book is difficult. Something that happened in the past is really difficult to mix with the idea of futuristic and fantasy ideas (just thinking about it is impossible) but somehow this book had succeed on something that I  assumed to be impossible. This book includes description of the past, but adds futuristic things in its context. For example, a city in the aurora borealis is an example of science fiction that exist in this book. Philip Pullman did a fantastic job writing this book because he has fused two different kinds of genre into one book that’s enjoyable to pre-teens and teens.

The areas in the book where expectations were exceeded was how descriptive it is. While writing this book, the author did a stupendous job being descriptive with all of the action that is occurring in the book. One example was the in the beginning, when Lyra and Pantalaimon was sneaking around the Master’s meeting room. He gave us a very illustrative description that makes us have the feeling of actually being there with Lyra sneaking in the room with her. Other than being descriptive, the book exceeds my expectations by not making the introduction into the setting of the story long. In other books that I have read they took time describing the world that the story takes place. Meanwhile, this book provides us with little context of where the setting of the story is, and instead went straight into the rich details of the action that occurred in the book. The part in the book that fell short of my expectations is at the very end. At the end of the book they left us with a question that I felt remained unanswered. This question I think is not going to be answered until the second book. This question is about the relationship between Lord Asriel (Lyra’s “uncle”) and Miss Coulter (random woman).  The author made a mistake of not being descriptive enough when explaining about the relationship of Lord Asriel and Miss Coulter. There has to be something important about their relationship that Philip Pullman did not describe enough to let me understand why that would lead to the event in the story. The age groups that I think would love this book are kids ages 11-16 because kids at this age would like to read something that is fantasized into a world where there is danger because they love books that have danger, suspense and drama. The reason why older adults wouldn’t like this book is because this illustrates fantasized characters that exists in books for little kids. Characters like witches and talking animals are considered to be little kids favorite characters. But Philip Pullman does such a superb job in coordinating these fantasized characters into a book where it is enjoyed by pre-teen and teenage kids.

  • Book Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials: Book 1)

  • Author: Philip Pullman

  • Publisher: Yearling

  • Date of Publication: May 2001

  • Number of Pages: 399 pages

  • Genre: Science Fiction

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Why We Broke Up By Daniel Handler

My First Project
Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 2.08.53 AM
Why We Broke Up

by Daniel Handler 

Illustrator: Maira Kalman

 Why we broke up was written by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maria Kalman and Why we broke up is a fictional novel, i choose this book to review because it isn’t like other books i have read, its different because Daniel Handler actually capture the feeling of being in love, the feeling of letting go of the person you had a special feeling for. Having a significant other in your life for a long time and then breaking it off is hard, its hard to take emotionally but their is always a reason why it happens, sometimes your just no happy but because you break it off doesn’t mean it isn’t hard for you as well, it will be but it wont be as hard as it is to the other person. Having things that remind you of the other person may be hard to let go but while time goes by your start to realize its fine to let that person go, and the stuff that came with the other person, the memories that were left. Then you start to think of that person and the memories and how love can blind you, how love made you do things that you wouldn’t do if you weren’t in love. Daniel capture the look of the couples, what couples do, what happens when you do things. Maria and Daniel 

Daniel Handler wrote this book and Maria Kalman illustrated the book, how this book started was Maria wanted to paint objects and Daniel could just imagine a romance novel, but he had to capture the prospective of a teenager girl, Daniel would take public transportation every day and he would over her young people conversations about love and their emotions, and he would capture that in this novel. This novel is an amazing book for all ages but the author wrote it for teenagers because the characters were teenagers and they were going threw that high school love that everyone goes threw. Also Daniel Handler has a pen name, its Lemony Snicket. Daniel Handler has written 13 books, he has a different kind of writing, he is careful of how he writes. Daniel Handler has known the feeling of being in a break up because like everyone else Daniel Handler has also been in a heart broken situation, he has a least been dumped three times in his high school years. 

This book is a very good book, i would recommend this book to teenagers because the character in the book are teenagers and teenagers would actually relate to the break up of teens, as we would call it high school love but others would relate to this book as well. Reading this book while your in love and relating to their love it would actually make you smile while reading this book. Also Daniel has capture the feeling but also capture the image of love, how everyone does. This book is very interesting, very good to read. Different thing that have different memories, that have different reasons why they broke up. 

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English Q1 BM: JCruz Book review+ Creative Piece


The Knife of Never Letting Go 

“But a knife ain’t just a thing, is it? It’s a choice, it’s something you do. A knife say yes or no, cut or not, die or don’t. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again.” -Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

The story starts in a town named Prentisstown, though it isn’t like other towns. The settlers of New World were infected with the noise germ. Their world became full of noise. Overwhelming noise of thoughts. Todd, our antagonist and his dog Manchee, whose thoughts Todd can also hear. It is a month before Todd’s birthday when he finds out that the town is hiding something, a secret. Because of this awful secret Todd and Manchee must run but that is nearly impossible with everyones thoughts and secrets floating around in the noise. How could you escape your pursuers when they can hear your thoughts? With Todd’s pursuers not far behind he runs into silence-- a girl. A girl who is silent, where was the girl from and why wasn’t she killed off by the germ like all the other women in the town Todd didn’t know. Todd must then run from the men from his town and Mr. Prentiss the leader of the town. Accompanied by his dog and a oddly silent girl, Todd has to unlearn everything he was lead to believe in order to find out who he truly is.

The reason I enjoyed this book was because of Patrick Ness. The book is beautifully written.  The Knife of Never Letting Go started off as a gift from a friend. After reading the first book of the Chaos Walking trilogy I couldn’t wait to move on to the next and read other writing by Ness. The Knife of Never Letting go is creative and powerful. Though I would say the writing is a bit funny, the writing at first seems quite dragged out and rambly but once you get past a few chapters the storyline draws you in. The book is filled with grammatical errors, Patrick Ness uses these errors as a way to convey the story in the protagonists point of view. The writing style gives the read flare.This book is not for those who won’t give the book some time to rope you in. I suggest the reader invest a little time in it and Ness is sure to draw you in. He hits you right in the gut with those feelings. Ness’s world where our protagonist residences is unique and intriguing. The book contains strong characters that keep you engaged. They give the plot a life, providing flavor and diversity. There is continuous dramatic and emotional twists and turns. There is minor vulgar language and gory violence, the other all theme is a bit complex for younger readers as well. In order to enjoy the books and all it’s aspects I’d recommend the reader be a teen or older. Otherwise a great read. The ending will have you running to the door to buy the second book of the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Ask and the Answer.

And so Patrick Ness’s Knife of Never Letting go is only one of the first installments to Ness’s incredible series. It’s also won some awards like the Booktrust Teenage Prize, Guardian Award and James Tiptree Award. The book is for those looking for a dynamic protagonist and evil, sinister antagonists. I’d also recommend reading Ness’s novel, A Monster Calls, after reading the Chaos trilogy of course! I believe that Patrick Ness needs more attention from book companies so i’d highly recommend the book for those mature enough. There are always good books sitting on bookshelves that have yet to be discovered Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go is just that type of book. 

Book Info:

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Author: Patrick Ness

Publisher: Walker Books

Date of Publication: 5 May 2008

Number of Pages: 479

Genre: Teen, Fiction Novel

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Mystic river book review

Mystic River

Dennis Lehane

If you are someone who stays up past midnight reading very suspenseful mystery novels then this the book for YOU.
Mystic River is the name and brilliant writing is the game. Mystery is my favorite genre, if it’s yours as well then this is the book for you. This book is the average mystery book on steroids.

Mystic River book review

Mystic River is a suspenseful tale, that will have you addicted and wanting to read all of Dennis Lehane’s books.  Mystic River starts out with three boys (Jimmy, Dave, and Sean) growing up in a suburban town near Boston. It takes place in the year 1975 when the boys are only in 6th grade. These boys do as every boy does, by getting in some trouble. These three boys definitely know how to take the advantage of an afternoon in the summer. The boys not only get in trouble for small things, but also they get in trouble for relatively big things, such as stealing cars around their neighborhood and for fighting. The story starts with one of the boys getting abducted after a fight between the friends. The boy is also sexually abused by the abductors.

The novel then jumps to the year 2000, 25 years after the adduction. The same 3 boys are bring back together after separating. They are brought together because of the death of Jimmy’s daughter. Was it murder? Jimmy believes that his old friend Dave is the one who had murdered his daughter. Jimmy believes it is Dave because Dave hasn't been his old self since the kidnapping 25 years prior.  Jimmy is an ex-con who is getting his life together but, will he lose control after his daughter’s murder. Dave is thought of as “The boy who escaped the wolves”  and hadn't had a great childhood. As Dave grew older he became angrier and angrier, more paranoid and capable of things not usually thought about in the sane human mind.  Sean is tied into this as well, as the police detective assigned to the mystery. Of course Sean has problems of his own.  Not only did his wife abandon him, he believes that he's heard everything and life has nothing else to offer him.  He spends his days alone listening to old recordings that he may have not heard clearly the first time he listen to it.

Dennis lehane is the writer the author of the story mystic river. Dennis lehane was born August 4, 1965 in Dorchester  neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts.. Dennis still lives in the Boston. Dennis is the youngest of 5 children. Lehane graduated from Eckerd college where he found his love for writing. Lehane's first book "A drink before the war" won an award for the best P.I novel. The fourth book in the series was adapted to a film "Gone, baby, gone" in 2007. Lehane's book mystic river was also made into a film in 2003 by Clint Eastwood. Dennis Lehane has taught at serval different colleges about fiction story writing.

This novel was so good that it was made into a movie in 2003.  The movie was named after the book Mystic River and the movie won many awards. Lehane is thought of as one of the best fiction writers now.  One thing that boosted his popularity is President Bill Clinton naming him as his favorite author.

My thoughts of the story is that it is a very complex and interesting novel, with many dramatic turns and climactic changes that makes this a very good book.  I recommend it for people who love great writing and mystery stories. The movie is also great. I also recommend Dennis Lehane’s other books such as “Gone, Baby, Gone”, “Sacred” and “Prayers For Rain”.

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To Kill a Mockingbird Book Review

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Melanie Harrington Q1

Earth Stream

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Review

Harper Lee’s compelling classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, forever touches the hearts and minds of those who read it. Harper Lee created a thought provoking world that would not soon be forgotten. While the genre may be fiction, the book is anything but. It still remains today to be one of the best books ever written and over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide since its publishing date in July of 1960. Upon it’s release it generated a lot of controversy and uproars among its readers. A few aspects of the book are perceived to have come from Lee’s experiences and life in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. To Kill a Mockingbird is the only piece of writing she ever published.  It is amazing how someone’s first and only book turned into a worldwide best seller, won the Pulitzer Prize and several other awards and was adapted into an Oscar Award winning movie. To Kill a Mockingbird is still taught in classrooms across the nation today.

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. Lee developed an interest in writing and literature during her high school years. When she graduated in 1944 she attended the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Unlike many of the girls who attended, Lee focused less on fashion and boys and more on her studies and writing. It wasn’t until after she transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and enrolled in a law program that she took all of her focus away from writing, when she finally confessed to her family that it was her true calling. Soon after, at twenty-three years old, Lee dropped her law studies and moved to New York City to follow her dreams. With the help and financial support from new founded friends, Lee finished her manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird in 1959.

This mind blowing novel follows the life of a family living in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. The world may be changing but Maycomb is in no hurry. Racism and gossip are prevalent in this small town. An innocent black man is put on trial by the word of a white man and Atticus Finch, lawyer and single father of two kids, is put on the case. Atticus faces the scrutiny of the town and his family for openly defending a black man and the choices he makes when raising his children. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch takes us through her early years and the events that all add up to the trial, all the while opening our eyes to the many themes brought up in the book.

To Kill a Mockingbird is not based on any one topic in particular. Every event undergone by Scout and her brother, Jem, bring up a new theme for discussion. Childhood, parenthood, innocence, justice, social norms and racism are a few that recur throughout the novel.  Every theme is interconnected and the transitions are flawless.

Society is ever changing. All of the unspoken rules we abide by without question are created and upheld by society. Face forward in an elevator, not back, bring a gift to the host or hostess, don’t take your shoes off unless you’re at home, call before you show up, fill up the gas tank before you return a borrowed car. We follow these rules every day and don’t even realize it. It just comes naturally to us because it’s the way we were brought up. We watched others do these things and assumed we had to as well.

Society and it’s norms force us to do one of two things. The first is to conform into society’s ideal person. This means following all the rules, spoken and unspoken, following trends in style and technology, making sure that you meet every standard and resemble every other person around you, in every aspect, in order to fit in. The second thing society forces us to do is break away and rebel on our own. This means standing alone, being different, and not following the set rules and guidelines to life.

Throughout the book society has an impact on the way people present themselves. Atticus, the wise and very observant lawyer, sees the flaws in the way society is made up but can not speak up about it because it would be frowned upon greatly. The choices he makes when raising his kids are scrutinized by the entire town and speaking out would only cause more trouble. Scout is in a constant battle of fitting her aunt’s idea of a perfect lady. Even Boo Radley, the town shut in, battles with fitting in on a daily basis. On the other hand, the Ewells, the sleaziest white family in Maycomb, actively rebel against society. The children run wild, they don’t go to school, aren’t polite and collect free money like a shelf collecting dust. They refuse to be a part of the black and white sea that is society and instead prefer to make a sea all of their own.

To Kill a Mockingbird is recommended to anyone looking for a good historical fiction or drama book or someone who is interested in one of the topics listed above. Considering there is some mature content throughout the book it is not recommended that children who are not mature enough to handle it read it. Do not force yourself to read this book if you are uninterested. It will ruin your reading experience. Come back when you grow a little older and see how you like it. You won’t ever regret picking up this book if you do and the life lessons will stay with you forever.

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Publisher: J. B. Lippincott

Date of publication: 1960

Number of pages: 384

Genre: historical fiction, drama, suspense, legal

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English BM Q1: Audrey's Book Review

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​Audrey Pham
BM Q1 

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green 

This is charcoal artwork done by me. I sketched out a pair of lungs with cancer masses (those black balls on the left lungs) to represent Hazel's thyroid cancer. I wrote "Imperial Affliction" because that is the name of the book that pulled Hazel and Gus together. The amputee leg represents Gus' leg that was lost to osteosarcoma cancer. 


A 2006 award Printz winner, reached number one on New York Times Best Seller List for The Fault in Our Stars in January 2013, and made it into ALA’s Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults. He is John Green. John Green is a young adult fiction writer, a youtube vlogger and an educator. John Green was inspired to write this book because of a youtube vlogger name Esther Earl. She was sixteen years old and passed away from Thyroid cancer. Two years later, he dedicated this book to her. I heard about this book from numerous friends in school, on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, magazines, television, just everywhere. I refused to read this book for a long time because those I know who read it, said it was a very sad book about two people with cancer. Hearing that too many times, I had no interest in picking up the book because I’ve watched too many movies about characters with cancer. Book and movies are very similar to me, except reading a book, you are able to repeat certain words or phrases, maybe even lines that could make you think so deeply. And each time I did, it would break my heart because it’s just so upsetting. Finally, one day, I decided to pick up The Fault in Our Stars and read it out of curiosity.

The Fault in Our Stars isn’t your typical cancer genre book. It isn’t your stereotypical teenage love story. Hazel is 16 year old. She’s a quirky, smart, community college student. She is obsessed with her favorite book “The Imperial Affliction” and has a desire to meet the author, Peter Van Houten, one day. She’s suffers everyday from fluid filling up in her lungs by tumors. Gus is 17 years old, he’s a handsome, humorous, charming, brilliant amputee who enjoys most of his time playing video games, reading poetry or hanging out with his one eyed best friend, Isaac. Gus is in a remission of osteosarcoma. During a cancer support therapy group session, Hazel notices Gus staring at her, the two meet and casually become friends. Hazel talks about her favorite book to Gus and he decides to give it try. The two become instantly attached which results to a beautiful, twisted, unpredictable romance.

I didn’t know cancer books can be filled with such beautiful, happy, heart melting memories until I finished The Fault in Our Stars. It’s not filled with constant tragic that you would think. It’s pure mutual love between two people who have limited times and they can make the best out of it. There’s a very beautiful theme of this book which is...value your youth and cherish what you have left because this book does affirm that life is truly and unfortunately short. Of course, in the story, there is pain, struggle and terrible circumstances but it is well balanced out.

The way John Green writes is very powerful. He is able to suck you into the setting with very few characters in the plot. Hazel and Gus were the stars of this story and he can keep it interesting until you are done with the last page of the book. And that is my problem when I read. If I put a book down, it is most likely because it was boring and I got tired of hearing from the main characters. The second I picked up The Fault in Our Stars, I spent the next four hours of my day reading it non stop. Because the characters were so unique and I honestly felt like I was Hazel, myself falling in love with a hot amputee who is attracted to me.

So I’ve read dozens of pretty sad books and I’ve never cried once, until I came across The Fault in Our Stars. That is exactly the reason why I will never forget about this book. I shed my first tear for fictional characters in a book when I finished The Fault in Our Stars. The fact that I actually cried because of Hazel and Gus’ beautiful chemistry for each other, is a big deal to me. John Green was able to make me feel so overwhelmed over these characters on paper, it’s just crazy. After I finished crying, I immediately called my boyfriend of almost two years and told him that I love him and that I appreciate his existence. Sounds pretty sappy, but this book made me realize how I should really value my physically healthy relationship and my own well being.

My favorite quote from this book (not giving away a spoiler, I promise) was when Gus told Hazel “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” After I read this quote, I shouted “exactly!” outloud to myself. Why? Because that’s how I felt about this book. This book is so powerful in every way that I just felt like everyone needed to read it. Which is why I chose this book to write a book review on.

In no doubt, I promise you this is a book to remember once you give it a try. Remember to keep a box of tissues next to you while reading it. Don’t worry, these tears will be from enjoying the book, loving the characters, and overall, appreciating a beautiful, well written story by John Green.

Book Information:

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Publisher: Dutton Books

Date of Publication: January 10, 2012

Number of Pages: 313

Genre: Young adult novel

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English Q1: The Beautiful and Damned

William B. Amari

October 17, 2013

20th in the 21st: Literary Review 

The Beautiful And Damned By F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In 1920, before Fitzgerald was Fitzgerald, before the Great Gatsby, before Paris, before Hollywood, before most English literature lessons of today, Mr. Fitzgerald was a struggling alcoholic writer from Minnesota. He wrote a lot and partied a lot and wrote some more. Eventually Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald managed to write his first novel. Published in 1921, this novel, This Side of Paradise, granted him overnight fame and fortune. It became an instant best seller and along with his newfound fame, Fitzgerald won over the woman he loved— a southern belle named Zelda Sayre— soon to be known as Ms. Fitzgerald. 

Fitzgerald always had potential. He was young, talented and a romantic believer in the American Dream. He was always looking through the windows of the rich, perceiving them for what they are and for what they are not. All eyes were on him now; on the new celebrity couple as their fans waited for Fitzgerald to produce his next masterpiece. In 1922 Fitzgerald released his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned. 

The title, The Beautiful and Damned is a most fitting title for such a book. In it, Fitzgerald writes beautifully, commits to his modernistic style and doesn’t apologize for it. But the grace of his style cannot quite make up for such a tragic plot. Almost none of the main characters are likable or show any of sign of decent humanity. Instead they are spoiled, lazy, irresponsible, unfriendly and disloyal. Because of his wealthy background, the main character, Anthony Patch, lacks any sort of ambition. In fact, he is extravagant, snobby and infantile. 

His leading lady, Gloria Gilbert, modeled on Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda, is the heroine. She is the true siren, attractive to all men who pass her way. Her hobbies unfortunately, consist of drinking and self indulgence and her passion is celebrity. She is beautiful and naive, and as quoted in the book, “She was dazzling -- alight; it was agony to comprehend her beauty in a glance.” 

The novel takes off when Anthony marries Gloria Gilbert and their troubles start to come to light. Throughout the novel they have many arguments and quarrel constantly. It seems they are in love with the idea of each other, valuing this over actual love, ambition and health. Besides this, both of them drink alcoholic beverages constantly. A common theme found in modernist literature, is that the main characters drink to forget and escape issues that they have created due to their own faults and they are unable to acknowledge their own shortcomings. This is precisely what happens in The Beautiful and Damned. When Anthony and his friends say, “Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.” They mean that alcohol, for these characters, is life itself. In fact, Anthony drinks so much that he is unable to function without it. 

Essentially this novel is about beautiful people living ugly lives. What happens when an heir—born with immense wealth, who studies in Europe, then graduates from Harvard—has everything he needs to succeed and yet completely screws up? The result is Anthony Patch, the “D” in Damned. He, the main character, perpetually fails at everything he attempts. 

Fitzgerald's third person writing itself, is beautiful and damned. Parts of the novel reveal tiny bits of brilliance, truly showing why Fitzgerald is the Great American Author. His use of vocabulary in the book is beautiful and inspiring but perhaps too impressive for its own good. Fitzgerald writes densely, using many words, but there are times where it just gets a little too verbose. Contemporary readers could find this 20th century classic a little old fashioned, making it difficult for them to make connections. The long conversations between Anthony and his friends, Dick and Maury are humdrum and overblown— confusing and unnecessary to the plot. However, towards the final part of the book, when the setting transitions to times of “The Great War” and the book starts to pick up. You are instantly engaged in Anthony as he wanders through the southern countryside. This part of the book is a new experience for Anthony and the reader. 

Fitzgerald will always engage you into the world that he writes about and The Beautiful and Damed is no exception. When reading you will instantly feel welcomed even into Anthony’s world of futility. It will frustrate you to observe young Anthony's constant failures. The books general atmosphere is blankness yet you feel hopeful for Anthony and believe that he might eventually find success. Fitzgerald is cunning in his use of pseudo-realism, using his description of young marriage as a decoy. The Beautiful and Damned is more of an analysis of up-scale youth than an actual novel. Parties were numerous, people destroyed things and accidents happened. Aimless strolls through Manhattan, country drives and whiskey binges are some of the most common themes in this novel. 

This book may not surpass Fitzgerald's 1925 classic, The Great Gatsby, but it still belongs on the bookshelf of the truest of literary fanatics. The Beautiful and Damned deserves your patience. Its a heavy novel but a worthy challenge. Most people will get a lot out of this novel, especially those who are trying to enrich their knowledge of early 20th century literature. It also deserves a ton of street-cred from those on the intellectual road. Everyone will eventually read or already has read Gatsby, but how many people can say that they read this semi-masterpiece? The Beautiful and Damned is not for the casual reader— it belongs to the most devoted Fitzgerald fans and to those who truly admire his use of the English language.

Book Information: 

Title: The Beautiful and Damned

Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons

Date of Publishing: 1922

Pages: 422

Genre: Fiction 

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Descubren más de 400 Especies en el Amazonas

Quarter 1


Alejandro Marothy

Señorita Manuel

Descubren más de 400 Especies en el Amazonas

Recientemente, mucho nuevas especies fue descubrieron en el Amazonas. Muchos nuevos tipos de animales. ¡Es increíble! Al menos 441 plantes y animales encontraron. Animales como peces, anfibios, y reptiles. Muchos nuevo aves fue encontraron. Aves son hermosas pero estúpido. Una especie de lagarto fue descubrió que casi extinguido. Afortunadamente, los científicos encontraron unos huevos y salvó el lagarto.

Es muy importante que nosotros nos escargamos de la bosque tropical. Es importante porque hay muchas especies y no sabemos. Si, muchas especies se extinguen cada día, pero es bueno para proteger a los que no. 

Me encanta naturaleza y plantes y animales. Estoy triste cuando se van extinto. Un día espero poder visitar el bosque tropical y el Amazonas. ¿Si no hay animales, no plantes, especies, por qué ir? ¡No hay razón! Esto es por qué quiero proteger el bosque tropical y Amazonas. 

Aprendí mucho de este artículo. Por ejemplo yo aprendí sobre el Amazonas y muchas especies diferentes. Es muy emocionante cuando descubrimientos científicos suceden. Aprendí nuevo vocabulario como especies, extinguir, anfibios, naturaleza, bosque tropical, y muchos más. 

Me gusta este artículo porque fue agradable y alegre. Por lo general, yo leo artículos sobre de malvado y mal. Acontecimientos tristes y doloroso leer sobre. Esto era diferente pero agradable.

Número de palabras: 209

Trabajo Citado

EFE. "Latino News and Opinion." Descubren Más De 400 Especies En El Amazonas - . N.p., 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

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English Q1 Benchmark: "The Prince"

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Jasir Massey-Campbell


Due: 10/25/13

The Prince by Machiavelli

There are many people who crave power, diplomats, politicians, congressman, business owners and more importantly everyday people. The will to be in control is a trait popular among all life. The Prince is a guide to establish a sphere influence and properly maintain a successful government. The renowned author, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 -1527) born in Florence, Italy has gathered one of the most popular collections of chapters regarding the creation and conservation of a potent government. His assembly of strategic chapters allows a reader to immerse themselves in the mind of one of the most profound political analyst. Each page reveals the techniques and strategy of gaining and keeping political control. Machiavelli extensive research reveals his thoughts on conspiracies, merit, goodness, first impressions, flattery and fortune.The book originally drafted in 1513 in Latin was then republished a few years later in 1532 which is 5 years after Machiavelli’s death.

Machiavelli was an historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, and writer in Florence during the Renaissance. For many years Machiavelli was an official in the Florentine Republic. He had responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He is a founder of modern political science and also wrote comedies, songs, and poetry.He wrote The Prince, when the Medici had power and when he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.This 16th century writing style, and sophistication of the level of words he incorporates in his piece developed into a poetic language which may take some time to fully understand. There are less than 150 pages yet there are very few who’ve addressed this book as a quick and easy read. Still, well known Universities’ philosophy and political classes use this book because of its deep research. Its is amazing how Machiavelli was able to create a book and still have his knowledge preserved over hundreds of years. He starts his book strong and lays foundation for the tone of the book.

“All states and dominions which hold or have held sway over mankind are either republics or monarchies. Monarchies are either hereditary in which the rulers have been for many years of the same family, or else they are of recent foundation. The newly founded ones are either entirely new, as was the Milan to Francesco Sfroza or else they are, as it were, new members[...]”

A reason that his book is short is because he gets to the point. He supplies the reader with the message he wants to convey and very little of anything else. Machiavelli also chose not to worry about transition. Each chapter is him laying down one point after the other. Chapter after chapter. After chapter one where he talks about the various kinds of government and the way that they are established he dives into the next couple of chapters where he begins describing the subcategories of government.  

I had high expectations for this book and all expectations were met. Even reading this book twice, I am still looking forward in continuing my studies of this book as well as other popular books regarding government. What struck me was how powerful and true this book is. Many of these tactics in many areas of profession are still used today. This showed how precise his research had to have been. This is a reason why he is one of the most important people in the realm of political science. I would suggest to someone who is truly interested in the knowledge this book possesses, to really devote and invest their time on every sentence so that they may fully procure the information. Many who enjoy reading philosophy may also be interested in The 48 Laws or Power by Robert Greene which is a similar book in which it talks about how to build and maintain influence.  Philosophy is important because these skills are not just for people who want to gain economic power but can be used by anyone who seek to gain an advantage over an enemy. The Prince is a good read regardless of what genre is of preference. Even if one may not fully be able to understand all of the ideas, which many still do not, they will be able to find at minimal one thing that could potentially better themselves.

Title: The Priince

Author: Machiavelli

Publisher: Antonio Blado d'Asola.

Date of publication: 1532

Number of pages: 127

Genre: Philosophy

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English Q1 Benchmark

​For my creative aspect of this benchmark, I decided to redesign the cover of the book. I felt that the cover, while somewhat visually interesting, didn't exactly convey much about the book. I took this photo myself, and overlayed it on a map of India. The image on the locket is of Ganesh, the Hindu god of overcoming obstacles. I thought this fit extremely well with themes in the stories.

The struggle with short stories is the limited space and the need for enough information, enough plot, enough character development, to get the point across. Short stories are speed dating for those not quite willing to commit to a full length novel. Jhumpa Lahiri does not shy away from the daunting task of short stories and her product is nothing short of amazing. 

Jhumpa Lahiri is the daughter of Indian immigrants, born in London but spending the majority of her childhood in Long Island, New York. Lahiri often refers to herself as American, once saying “I wasn’t born here, but I might as well have been.” While The Interpreter of Maladies is Lahiri’s debut publication, it is anything but amateur. The book was even the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize Award, which reportedly came as “quite a shock” to Lahiri. After taking a look at the book, however, it is not a shock to readers. The book itself tells the stories of India natives either still residing in India, or immigrants to America. She wrote the book in 1999, drawing observations from her family, and immigrants she met while growing up. 

Lahiri expertly navigates the world of short stories with an artful hand. The novel contains nine different stories, which delve into idea of marriage and the trials that accompany it.    For the most part, the stories are not about heartbreak. They are not about a climactical moment where everything falls apart, but about the characters. Her stories are not about the drama, not about how many twists she can place in one short story, but how the characters deal with their lives. The characters in these stories all deal with a certain amount of miscommunication. In any of the stories, there is evidence of one character not understand another, and that is what led to the majority of heartbreak.  The novel is about the opportunities that the characters have as they face the collapse of their idea of marriage is or should be. Opportunities to remake their lives, to revitalize the love in their relationships, or to move on. With each page, the sympathetic disappointment one feels is transformed into a thirst for the age old question; what comes next?

With nine different stories in one book, and each one dealing with the struggle of marriage, it would be easy for the anecdotes to become repetitive. Lahiri does not bend to that, however, crafting each character uniquely and constructing each situation exclusively. Her characters appeal to the hearts of readers, and the result is not disappointing. One cannot help but ache for the young couple trapped in the familiarity of their marriage, dealing with the heartbreak of their stillborn child silently and letting their marriage fall around them. One cannot help but hurt for Boori Ma, the old widow who spends her days sweeping the staircase of an apartment building, until the tenants are overcome with greed and chase her out. Each story is a look into our world. Lahiri studies society in a way unlike those before her. She examines cultural restraints, and notes how our affections simultaneously defy and preserve such constrictions. 

Jhumpa Lahiri uses such expressive language that it is impossible to read her work without feeling affected. Her words are used to build a world around the reader, and to invite them into the world she’s created. Her language is powerful, and leaves the reader with a choice. What is taken away from the stories is not printed, it is not handed to you. What is taken away from the book will be different for everyone. 

For me, the highlight of the book lies in the seventh story, This Blessed House. Sanjeev and Twinkle are newlyweds, exploring their new house in Hartford, Connecticut. Whilst looking around, they begin to unearth several garish Christian decorations. Twinkle is immediately drawn to them, laughing, and wanting to put them all over the house. Sanjeev, however, is more conscious of their Hinduism, and fears what his coworkers and neighbors will think if they saw the decorations. Sanjeev begins to regard Twinkle as an unknown; he doesn’t understand her spontaneity, and is uncomfortable with her rash decision making. When throwing a house warming party, his colleagues are immediately drawn to Twinkle’s enigmatic ways. Lahiri intricately designs Twinkle to be a character with impulsive tendencies that directly crash with Sanjeev’s deliberate lifestyle. Twinkle, in some ways, bears a likeness to the book in general. Once acquainted, you’re left with a simple “wow”. 

In many ways, one cannot ask for more if looking for a book of compelling short stories. Lahiri exceeds any and all expectations. While many people have never experienced some of the ideas in the stories, it is easy to look beyond the plot with Lahiri’s writings, and sense the overarching themes and insights that she is making. This makes the book relevant to a very diverse group of people. If you are just delving into the world of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies is an excellent place to start. 

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri, Published by Mariner Books in 1999, 198 pages, Fiction

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English Benchmark: "A Thousand Splendid Suns"

Artist note: Interview above is a fictional interview that I have created with one of the main characters of the book, Laila. This interview does contain spoilers so do not listen if you plan on reading the book!

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini is a beautifully crafted novel following the lives of two Afghan women through heartbreak, triumph and the challenges that they face within their culture. 

Hosseini is an award-winning author; this book in particular spent four weeks as the #1 book in the nation, as well as being #1 on almost every national bestseller list including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and many more. This book also appeared on multiple end of year best-of lists, including the #1 Worldwide Bestselling title in 2008, Time- Ten Best Books: Fiction, Washington Post- Best Books of 2007 and more. Between “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and Hosseini’s first bestseller, “The Kite Runner”, more than 38 million copies have been sold worldwide.

This story is set in Afghanistan and begins in the mid-1900s, where you introduced to a teenage girl named Mariam, who lives with her mother. Through a series of heartbreaking events, Mariam finds herself stranded in a seemingly unfixable family situation, where her father decides to solve the problem by marrying her off to a middle-aged man whom she has never met before. However, since arranged marriage is a social norm in Afghanistan and women are given no power, Mariam must accept this new situation, no matter how alone she feels.

In the second piece of this story, readers are introduced to another girl named Laila, who has a pleasant family life and lives down the street from Mariam and her husband, Rasheed. Similar to Mariam, Laila is tossed into a situation of utter helplessness and family turmoil. Since the streets are unsafe and plagued with war, and since Laila is a women and has no rights to move to a new place, she is brought into the household of Mariam and Rasheed, where Rasheed marries her as well.

From this point in time, readers begin to see the relationship between Mariam and Laila unfold as wives of the same man. While they have a rocky start, their friendship soon grows deeply and in ways only possible in their situations. This friendship withstands lost loves returning, pregnancies, an extremely abusive husband and in the final test of friendship, the ultimate act of protection.

Throughout this entire novel, Hosseini makes a few themes extremely clear. The first major motif is the Afghan culture, which is unique, fascinating and heartbreaking at times and experienced through characters in the book. As readers are taken through the lives of these women, Hosseini paints pictures of weddings, the food, the country of Afghanistan, but mostly about the values of the culture, specifically the inequality of genders. He shows each of these themes throughout the story in invigorating ways using the stories of Laila and Mariam. The other major message explored is that of the bonds of friendship and family. From chapter one, Hosseini captivates readers with questioning of the value of relationships between relatives, acquaintances, spouses and even strangers; how far is one willing to go to protect someone they love?

There are countless ways that this book exceeded my expectations as an avid reader. I’ve always disliked books with either too much dialogue or too much description, but “A Thousand Splendid Suns” had a wonderful balance of both. Hosseini is creative and crafty in the ways that he uses description to speak on behalf of the characters, such as body language or a glimpse into the inner thoughts of characters, but also uses dialogue when words would be most effective. Also, if there’s one thing that I despise, it’s when authors add random plot twists which make no sense and do not benefit the story in the end. What was amazing about this book, however, was that the plot was unpredictable, yet the story made sense in the end. 

There were no major things that I disliked about this book, but the ending did not particularly sit well with me. Throughout the entire novel, Hosseini does so well with letting the reader into the lives and relationships of all of the characters, and does so in a slow way so that you feel as though you have known them for a very very long time. However, at the end of the book, I feel as though it was rushed and the relationships were kept at a shallow level and did not display the depth that was shown previously in the book. While that may have been a literary choice by Hosseini, it was the one point that felt unsettling to me as a reader.

This can be a heavy book for some people due to the difficult topics and issues presented. Challenging situations presented include suicide, abortion and graphic scenes of domestic violence and brutality, which can only be handled with a certain level of maturity. Therefore, I do not suggest this book for younger readers, only those who feel like they are ready to read a novel that deal with these matters. 

However, this book needs to be read. It is important. The themes are ones that are intertwined into the lives of every human, no matter how much they might notice them. While it works on a deeper level, this is also an marvelous piece of fiction writing with a captivating and enrapturing story, one that will leave readers wanting more.

And if you are one of those readers who want more, Hosseini recently released a new book, “And the Mountains Echoed”, which is next on my “to-read” list. Check it out here.

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. Published by Riverhead Books on May 22, 2007. 384 pages. Fiction novel.
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Elixir Book Review and Ad

Jasmine Nieves                10/21/13

English 3

Elixir By: Hilary Duff

Elixir is a great book to read if you are really into mystery and love stories. The book itself, the language is very formal and very descriptive. Hilary Duff is one of the best actress’, singer and now a great entrepreneur. She was from a show on Disney Channel known as Lizzie McGuire. Lizzie McGuire was a show that would show girls and some boys how to act with parents, siblings, friends, school related situations in and out of school in the hallway or getting whatever they want from parents. She was always a nice character in the show and many people liked it. When I was little I always used to look up to Hilary Duff. She was both pretty and talented so from me watching her all the time, I liked her even more until the show was over. A few years after the show had ended, I saw the movie, “Beauty and the Briefcase” and I was surprised to see the way she changed. She kissed guys more, wore more short clothing and she even had a little bit of a difference in her look. What was also found out was that she got married to a hockey player and his name was Mike Comrie. Soon after she got married, she had a son and his name was Luca Cruz Comrie. 

The books she had just written soon after the birth of her son, it got me thinking that I should start reading it and I should start liking Hilary Duff again. I loved Disney Channel ever since I was younger and that had always stayed with me. On the on hand,  Elixir had this girl as the main character and her name was Clea Raymond. She was a photojournalist. She was famous because of her mom and her Dad. Her dad worked at some big business industry that Clea just had to help him out. Her mom on the other hand worked for the Senate. Clea had a boyfriend, a friend and other people along her path along the book. What Clea has done already in the book as a photojournalist is that she noticed that a guy kept following her since her trip to Paris at the beginning of the book. Since she found out that the person kept following her, she keeps having dreams about him. Then at some point in the middle of the book, while running, she twists her ankle and the guy from her dreams finally became a real person. Clea would also just go back and forth to see about the man. Her boyfriend, who was from Paris was trying to protect her and tell the guy to let go of thinking about her and then he realized that he shouldn’t have done that. To include more about Hilary Duff than what you know already is Elixer is part of its own book series. The other books which is part of the series is Devoted and True. Its a continuum of the story Elixir. They are other notable books she’s made with another another.This book exceeds my expectations because of the feeling the book has given to me while reading the story. Where the story falls short to my expectations that a man kept stalking this girl around and she became very suspicious about it. She is a hard worker like all of us because she trys a lot out on her own. That’s why she also became famous. That’s what all counts in life is if you just try. That’s all that matters. People who might enjoy this book are the people who are fans of Hilary Duff, like me.  

Clea Raymond is in this love triangle and is on a dangerous mission to find her father after his disappearing. Her being an author influenced Hilary Duff just being done singing and acting. So that means after she became a singer/ actress, her writing career had been taken place. What people may or may not know is that the book came out on October of 2010. What Hilary has said what got her writing books is she likes when the book just takes you away meaning she also likes when she sees the pictures of what she’s reading in her mind as she’s reading. She hoped and wanted to start her own book series and Elixir just had to the first book in the series. The book itself is a mystery but its also a paranormal and a romance. She has also been interested in paranormal stories. So if you like any of these types of genres of books, I recommend for you to get the book. She also likes the feel of how other authors just keep writing their books non stop. Her mother was a big support of hers when she started writing. What also inspired her to write is that ever since she was little, she’s been writing poems. For all you Hunger Game movie fans, she likes the book too. So if you like Hunger Games and like Hilary Duff, I also recommend you to read the book. This book is for young adults. One of the quotes she said was, “...finding yourself and breaking out of the mold that people put you in.” She took a challenge and started writing. Writing books could be challenging but not to her or any of the other actors. What's really interesting about her when she was writing her book was that she was planning her wedding.

Screenshot 2013-10-24 20.16.33
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