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Review of "Beyond Belief" by Josh Hamilton

Jamie Turner
12-20-12           Orange Stream
Beyond Belief Review
The book I read is “Beyond Belief” by Josh Hamilton. The story is an autobiography about the Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder named Josh Hamilton.  The story is about how much potential Josh had in high school and into the  M.L.B draft.  After struggling with injuries Josh had experimented with cocaine and alcohol.  This lead to an addiction that could have killed him.  He was told that he probably would never play baseball again.  He pulled through it and actually made it back to major league baseball.  I gets into more details about how he handled his recovery day by day.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book is the way things were told.  One moment you didn’t things would get any worse for Josh and the next moment you don’t think anything could stop him.  This also is a very inspirational story.  Reading this book actually warmed my heart when he talked about things like when he was baptised with his daughter or his first at bat in the major leagues.  I think Hamilton is very good at describing things and that actually makes you feel like you are there with him at certain parts of the book.  Those are some things I really liked about the book.
One thing I didn’t really like about the book was how things were managed.  Chapters ranged from one page to thirty pages.  I personally like when all of the chapters are around the same number of pages.  I also thought that there are certain parts that could have either been left out or josh could have described how those things affected his road to recovery or is baseball career, but that is only one or two parts.  There really wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about the material in general it is just the way things are organized.  That is what  I didn’t really like the book.
If someone asked me if they should read this book I would say absolutely.  It isn’t too long or too short.  You just have to go into the book knowing that it is based on facts but it still has a fictional feel to it.  I think I would recommend it mostly to a person who may be having addiction problems or knows someone close to them that has addiction problems.  It is a very inspirational book and it answers a lot of questions that are answered about addiction in “Beyond Belief”.  So if you are considering reading “Beyond Belief’ then I would say go for it.
  1. Overall I would say “Beyond belief was a good choice for my Independent Reading Project.  I am not much of a reader but I can say this book was not the type of book were you really don’t want to read it but you have to.  This is the type of book where once you start reading you can’t stop.  I would start reading at seven and not even realize I was reading for three hours straight.  So that is what I think of “Beyond Belief” by Josh Hamilton.
nd God will come close to you. - James 4:7
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Cole Hinton Book review on "The Graveyard Book"

Cole Hinton English Benchmark 1/5/12 The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book was given the John Newbery Medal in the year 2009. For 15 weeks, The Graveyard Book was put on the New York Times best-seller list for children’s chapter books. The Graveyard Book is about a young boy named Nobody Owens(Bod for short) who as a toddler, his family was murdered. While his family was being murdered, the toddler was curious and left his crib and left the house. He walked all the way up to a graveyard where ghosts noticed this toddler stumble in. Soon after many decisions made, Bod could stay at the graveyard. Years went by and Bod started learning his A,B,Cs by “the dead” in the graveyard. But one day, Bod stumbled across something very strange and was nothing like the rest of the graveyard hence where the adventure of Bod’s journey discovering and unmasking secrets found around every new corner. To me, Bod is the main character in this book because of his background story and his effect on the graveyard and the people there. But, there is more characters in this other than Bod. Silas, who is Bod’s caretaker, is a quiet person who you really don’t hear from in this book. Silas leaves Bod in the graveyard sometimes to go places but are not really told where. Scarlett Perkins is a little girl Bod’s age who Bod meets one day become playmates. Then there’s the ghouls and the things Bod is told to stay away from. The ghouls are a different kind of dead which Silas explains to Bod all the time.

I don’t really think there are very important conflicts in this book there are some that stand out. Most of the conflicts are caused by Bod and himself getting himself in trouble or him going afar to figure out something on his mind. But, Bod has had conflicts with ghouls many of times most resulting in injuries. I think I am somewhat related to Bod in some way. I like to figure things out if they are on my mind and don’t want to go away until it has been solved or has no more meaning to it. Bod seems to be a rule breaker by not listening to Silas and the people in the graveyard that care about him and defying them by associating with the bad people in the graveyard.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I feel like this book was both an action packed and thirst quenching for the most part and it always had you thinking of what happen next to this boy along his way in the graveyard. One strength in this book would be that it always gave you new information and it made you feel like you were being taught along side with Bod. Another strength would be that it refreshed your memory of past conflicts or dreams of Bod. One weakness that I think this book had was the pictures it left you in your mind. Some parts were too much for me to even imagine after awhile. I also think this book over exaggerated on some parts. To me I think that in a book is good but, it will also have the reader(maybe younger than 7th grade) think that some of the things talked about in the book are real.

I recommend this book to anyone but, mostly to people who like a hair raising story or something that will have you think ahead and might prove you wrong. I don’t really recommend this to a younger audience not because it’s a challenge but, as book that has a lot of not so real and scary parts that might not be suitable

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Book Review on Halo: The Fall of Reach

Independent Reading Book

David Leonard

The book I read was called Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric S. Nylund. This book based off of the award winning Xbox game Halo: Combat Evolved. The book was published in 2001. The book was not on the NYT bestsellers and is not a movie in the making.

The book is about a lady named Dr. Catherine Halsey who kidnaps 75 kids from human controlled planets (also called UNSC) and experiments on them to create an army of super soldiers to end a rebellion within the human colonies. Shortly after the human race goes to war against an alien race called the Covenant and the super soldiers (also called Spartans) are the only hope for Humanity’s survival. Within a decade Humanity lost most of the outer colonies. Then the Covenant starts to take the inner colonies and there most important before Earth is called the Planet Reach.

The main characters are Dr. Catherine Halsey, John- 117, and Capt. Jacob Keyes. Capt. Keyes is one of the UNSC’s best and commands a fleet to defend UNSC planets. John- 117 is the leader of the Spartans and one of the last surviving ones. Dr. Halsey is the UNSC’s best scientist and creator of the Spartans. My favorite character is John- 117 because he is in the video game as well.

I cannot relate to any of the characters. I never felt some of the same things that the characters felt. I could not relate to any of the characters because I never experienced anything like the characters. I also never been experimented on by people or anything like it.

I somewhat liked this book since it was based off one of my favorite video games. One of the strengths was the book gave the time and date of each chapter so the reader knows how much time has passed in the book. One of the weaknesses was the book didn’t explain much of the battles or some characters in the book. If I could change something in the book it would be for it to explain more of the battles and characters in the book.

I would recommend this book to other people because it is descriptive with the main points. The book also doesn’t get off topic with any of the main characters. It does describe most of the conflict. Finally, if you like the video game the book helps explain the history.
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Independent Reading Benchmark.

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Tar Baby:The Review

Have you ever been on a journey to find yourself? Have you ever been on a journey to find someone else? Have you ever realized that you knew who you were, but did not want to face the truth? If you said, “Yes” to all those answers, then you will want to read the book, “Tar Baby.” The book, “Tar Baby” is written by Toni Morrison during the 1980’s. Toni Morrison is a writer who is in touch with all her characters. She knows what she wants to do with them and what she wants to say. I did a little research, and she is an accomplished writer. In addition to that information, “Tar Baby” was a, “National Bestseller.” In her books, there is always a great story. The book, “Tar Baby”, is about a love affair between two African-American people who have not quite figured themselves out and come from two different worlds. While that is all happening, there are several other stories that are behind the surface. Read more below to see where this journey takes us.

The main characters include Jadine, Son, Valerian, Margaret, Ondine, and Sydney. In the novel, the character Jadine is a young African-American beautiful model. Jadine has come to L'Arbre de la Croix, Isle des Chavalliers to visit her Aunt and uncle(Ondine and Sydney) who works for a wealthy white man named Valerian. Jadine goes through a lot of things because she does not want to tell them that she wants to leave. This is because she is the only family they have and they consider her a daughter. She know that if she tells them they will disapprove, but she wants to follow her heart. While visiting, she notices what goes on between Valerian and his wife, Margaret. They bicker and argue a lot about their son Michael. No one can really understand why she is obsessed with him or so she thinks. You see, when Michael was a young boy, she abused him and he started to hide under the sink. Valerian couldn’t understand why until Ondine blurted this out at the dinner table. During this, Son, a fugitive in the Americas, is found in a closet by Margaret and Sydney, where he has been for several days. Once he is found, he is taken care of by the help. After seeing Jadine, he can not help, but to get involved with her. As Jadine gets to know Son, she finds herself beginning to fall in love with this criminal who her Aunt Ondine, and her uncle Sydney, despises.

Once they realize they are in love with each other, Jadine and Son go back to America to be with each other. While there, they share an intimate relationship and revisits Sons childhood hometown. After visiting there, they go back up to New York. While back in New York, Jadine endures an abusive relationship with Son. She questions him on his future and it gets all chaotic from there. The fact that Son is being stubborn about something so important makes Jadine very agitated. She can not understand why he wants to be that way. So, Jadine leaves after enduring the physical and verbal abuse and goes back to the island where Son follows her. But, she then returns to Paris, but Son stays o the island.

There are many conflicts in the story including  person vs. person, person vs. self, and person vs. nature. Jadine goes through person vs. person with Son throughout the entire novel. They have a physical and sexual relationship. Those relationships include violence and she struggles on how to perceive their relationship. This to me is a crazy relationship, but it has depth to it. Margaret goes through person vs. self. She battles with herself throughout the novel about her secret until it is exposed. She battles with the abuse she did to her son and it is a burden to her. She does not know really how to deal with her emotions so she has to constantly deal it and be obsessed. Additionally, Son goes through person vs. nature. He goes through that because he has to hide away in the hot closet for several days. Not only that, but when he first gets there he is in a tree watching her and that is when he realized that he wanted her. These are all examples in where conflict was displayed. Furthermore, I believe that Jadine was the best character. I say that because she knows what she wants. That being said, she also wants to please everyone around her. That makes me want to be like her because although she feels that way, she wants to follow her heart, too. She has a deep meaning behind her character.

I can not relate to any characters in the story. i could not relate to anyone in, “Tar Baby” becauseI have not had any of the experiences that the characters have had. For example, Son is an abuser who is on the run and is in love with a woman who does not want him. I am none of these and I have never been in love before. Most of his problems are self-inflicted. Not only that, but most of these characters are mean-spirited. They have coal in them and they all seem to have something they do not like about someone and can always point that out. I do not act like that in any way and I feel like I can not relate to them. My personal opinion on the book? Well, I believe that the book was terrible and I would not recommend this book to anyone. I say that because the book was altogether irrelvant and I did not understand why it was written. To add fuel to the fire, it was boring. There was no action whatsoever and the first few chapters of the book was meaningless.  If I had to give the book a rating out of 5 stars, I would literally give it a 1 star. I would give it that because at least she tried to write something. Other than that, the book itself was horrible. It was kind of difficult to read at first, but as I kept on, I began to understand the language based on the time period. If I could, I would change a lot about the book. I would make the book have more action and a deeper meaning. The book lacked a lot of things including a theme in my opinion. I did not understand the message that Toni Morrison was trying to convey to her readers. Overall, I did not enjoy this book. If I were you, I wouldn’t pick up this novel, but hey if you like reading boring books and need something to knock you out, here is your nyquil.
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Independent Reading: The Book Thief

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, was published in 2005 and has won many awards including: The 2006 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, The 2007 Book Sense Book of the year, was on the 2009 Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Master List and was a New York Times #1 best seller.

The book takes place in Germany in the 1930s-40s and is about a girl named Liesel Meminger, the book thief, and her extraordinary journey that starts when her brother dies on their way to a foster home.

There are many characters to love: Hans and Rosa Hubermann, Liesel’s foster parents; Rudy Steiner, Liesel’s best friend; Max Vandenburg, the Jew that hides in Liesels basement for a large portion of the book; but my favorite character by far has to be Death, the narrator.

In the beginning of the book it is a little bit weird seeing things from his perspective, how he talks of colors and carrying people souls, but as it moves along you get accustomed to the point of view and the writing style.

The way it written is different from any other book I have ever read. The paragraphs are usually short and there are “notes” throughout the book that usually describes things from a third person view. Because of this I found that it was very easy to dive into and stay focused on.

As you continue reading you almost start to forget that the story is narrated by Death, but he always finds away to remind you by talking about how hard his job is, or by talking about the difference in souls, or by giving away things that happen later in the story.

One thing that I continued to wonder about was what Death did with the souls after retrieving them. It was something that the book never mentioned, it only told how he would take them and carry them.

The story itself about this girl, Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is a long one with many different overlapping storylines. It is always fun to see how different peoples stories fit into the bigger picture.

This book is mainly about the life of people living in Nazi Germany and the struggles that one particular girl goes through. Aside from her brother dying and her mother leaving her at a foster home, she has to deal with learning how to read in the 5th grade, having nightmares every night about her brother, juggling her feelings about Rudy, and keeping quiet about Max, among other things.

You can only imagine how difficult it is for her to live like this and by the end of the book you have tremendous respect for her.

I really liked this book, it was highly recommended by my friends and it did not disappoint. There is supposedly going to be a movie that they started working on 2012. I am excited to see it, but am afraid that it might ruin the book by putting images into my head that are different from the ones I made myself. This book will amaze you in ways you didn't know were possible, it was fun and enjoyable to read, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

A scene from the beginning of the book when Liesel's brother dies. I drew this scene because it is a very important part of the story and it was one that I visualized well.
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The Catcher in the Rye Book Review

January 8, 2012

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Slinger

Book Review by Lindsey Jones

I'm sure everyone has walked into, or crossed one of these books before in their lifetime. Your not really sure what it was about, or you were just curious. Heck, books without a plot summary on the back certainly leave us either intrigued or lukewarm. Despite this book being meant for adults, this is the holy grail of literature for adolescence. The Catcher in the Rye really takes a step back and truly shows what it's like being a teenager desperate for acceptance and discovering who one's self is. On a majority, this book is considered one of the best English written novels of all time. The novel sells about 250,000 each year with sales of more than 65,000,000 books. But that is not what makes it a great book to read. What makes a novel the best of the best, is if you like it. And with this book in particular, you will either love it to death, or hate it's guts.

Holden Caulfield's adventure begins at Pencey Prep, an illustrious, gold-tinted private school located in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Christmas is just around the corner and all students are ready to see their families over the vacation. However, Holden's residency is only temporary. The boy had recently been expelled and given until after the break to pack up and skedaddle.

Before departing, Holden visits his old history teacher, Mr. Spencer. Not to kiss up to him or anything like that, but to tell him goodbye. Mr. Spencer is a wise-man, but also knows how to do his job. He gives Holden a good scolding about how poor his performance is academically. Holden, in sheer annoyance, reads him a note that he wrote him on the back of his history exam, telling him that it was not his professor's fault for failing him, but his own.

Holden returns to his dorm room. Quiet. Just like he prefers. The rest of the students are at the winter football game and aren't expected to be back for a while. Taking advantage of the wide amount of time he has, Holden starts a new book. Just when he first gets the “feel” of the book, the obnoxious neighbor, Ackley joins. Ackley's profile consists of a family of pimples across his face (of which he usually picks at) and constantly clipping his toenails, much to Holden's annoyance. Ackley barges into Holden's room, picks up things that don't belong to him, and puts them back in the completely wrong place. Ackley treats Holden as if he is in inferior to him because he is merely two years older. The wreck (Ackely) begins to talk about how if Stradlater was around, he'd leave promptly. Much to his demise , Stradlater returns and begs Holden to write his English paper for him. With vague instructions on the criteria for the paper, Holden writes about his brother's baseball mitt, his brother who's life ended early. Stradlater then returns, he is in disgust about the paper Holden had written . Holden is fed up. He doesn't like how ignorant and jughead-like Stradlater is. And what really got him angry is Stradlater not even being able to say his dates name right. Jean Gallagher. A long time friend of Holden's and someone who he is particularly fond of. The two duke it out, Stradlater getting the upper hand. Holden getting a bloody nose. This event officially helps Holden decide that he is done with Pencey and he escapes in the middle of the night and sets for a train to Manhattan three days shy of the winter break.

Holden meets the mother of one of the students at Pencey on the train. Holden knows the student in mind, another of which he dislikes. She's considered the type of mother that believes her children are complete saints. Holden coaxes her into her beliefs, inferring that her son is in fact the best of the best. He arrives at Penn Station and first thinks of a few people he could call, but he ends up not calling anyone. He signals a taxi cab and begins a conversation at random about where the animals at Central Park go in the winter when the water freezes. The driver says that the fish freeze with the water and the ducks go elsewhere, where it is warmer. The conversation carries on, Holden asking the question again and again, as if he is confused.

His ride ends at the Edmont Hotel. A place overran by perverts and drug dealers. After checking into his room, Holden heads for the bar in the hotel. Lying about his age serves him no good. The bartender refuses to give him alcohol despite his claims of being in his twenties. So Holden takes a coke and reverts his attention to the three ladies across the room, obvious tourists. He pays most of his attention to the blonde one, the most attractive. The other two females came up too short face wise. Holden is able to talk to them, but neither of them can hold a descent conversation. He invites the blonde to dance for a while, which works, but she still not paying attention. The night ends with Holden getting his feelings hurt and the only one with the check.

Holden becomes angry and embarrassed and is offered a prostitute. He accepts. He thinks that it'd be easier to hurry and lose his virginity, since he becomes pretty uncomfortable when a girl says “no”. He pays Maurice, the pimp, five dollars for the first hour. The prostitute later comes, and as soon she walks through the door, Holden realizes she is nothing but a kid. He sees her as his equal, and decides to just have a conversation. The girl is clearly uninterested and wants to hurry up and get the deed over with, but Holden asks what she does when she's not selling herself. She says she goes to the movies and just watches shows, which is incredibly boring to Holden. The time is up, and the girl wants her money. Holden is confused because he had just paid her pimp just before she came in. The girl leaves, and later returns with Maurice. Maurice roughens up Holden, and the girl takes the five dollars from his wallet. The terrible two then leave.

Holden walks up the next morning and telephones a girlfriend of his, Sally Hayes. Sally and Holden see a play together. It apparently is one those typical tragic love stories about a guy going to war and leaving his wife behind. He then later returns with no recollection of being married to this woman, and they go through all these trials and tribulations just to end up together in the end. Holden doesn't like the story of course, it was too predictable. They later go to a roller skating rink, in which Holden bombards Sally with the impulse for her to run away with him. Sally scolds him with how ridiculous he sounds, and the lack of money, and the fact that he has no plans or idea what it is like to just “runaway together”. The argument dies down, Holden calling her a “pain in the ass”, leaving Sally fuming. She leaves him, but Holden pleads out to her. He is still ignored. With nothing better else to do, Holden decides to pay his little sister Phoebe a visit.

Holden heads to a park, a specific that Phoebe usually roller skates at. He finds a young girl that looks as if she'd be one of his sisters friends. She tells him that Phoebe is probably at the Museum of Natural History. Holden goes but then realizes that the museum isn't open on Sundays. The boy then diverts a plan and is able to sneak into his parent's apartment, in order to see Phoebe, sound asleep. She wakes up and Holden tells her about a dream he has to be “the catcher in the rye”. A being whom he believes is to save children from straying from their innocence. The Caulfield's return home and Holden sneaks out of the window. He meets his old English teacher, Mr. Antolini. Antolini provides him with a piece of advice and some shelter for awhile. Antolini drowns Holden with information that makes him question what exactly “the catcher in the rye” is. He serves him alcohol, and they sleep. Holden wakes up to Antolini rubbing his head in a way that he describes “flitty” or in more modern terms, homosexual. He gets so uncomfortable that he leaves for the city.

Through all of his confusion, Holden decides to become a deaf mute in west. It's much easier than learning to understand others when they can't understand you. Before leaving, Holden takes his sister to the Central Park Zoo and watches her on the merry-go-round, at this moment, he felt generally happy. He leaves her theres. Holden doesn't exactly make it to his dream life of being a deaf mute in the west. He reduces himself to something much different. He “got sick” and doesn't feel comfortable telling of his current life at a mental hospital. But what does tell us is that he misses Stradlater and Ackely and ultimately regrets telling us about his life and experiences.

Holden spends the rest of his time in New York battling with isolation, drug use, and coming to the understanding of his sexuality. His avoidance of his family allows him to truly understand who he is exactly and be able to make his own decisions. Holden on an all time level, battles himself internally. The people he encounters just revolve around him. He wants acceptance and praise from others, and for others to like him. Which sounds pretty selfish, but doesn't everyone? It is similar to his relationship with his parents. They aren't very engaged or involved with Holden, and this neglect could possibly be a part of why he thinks this way exactly. Without this love and compassion from others, Holden's character doesn't grow throughout the story. Instead he comes to a conclusion and adapts to the situations he is in, in order to fit his liking.

In reading this book, I hope you as a reader can take away that nobody is perfect. And that maybe you could possibly see yourself in Holden Caulfield's shoes. His mind got the best of him, and he let his selfish priorities get in the way of “what could have been”, but that makes him no lesser than human. At one point in our lifetime, everyone has wanted to do something drastic, to get away from everything, to learn who you really are. Holden is just one of the few who actually pursued it.

As a teenager myself, relating to some of the characters is simple. Holden Caulfield possesses the traits of most teenagers and is easily similar to most. Holden suffers from the usual phase of rebellion. But is it just a “phase”? In most stories, the main character usually develops into a better person and grows along with the plot. Holden doesn't show much character growth at all. He's stubborn. What I like about him is that he sets his eyes on what he believes in and doesn't give them up for anyone or anything, even if his decisions might jeopardize him and others. Despite his screw ups and arrogant attitude, Holden is generally a nice person and seems to care about others. One of the things we have in common is setting our goals and letting nothing get in our way of reaching them. Even though his are a bit more drastic, he really speaks up for those who don't dare or take risks.

Overall, I generally do really like this book. Such books that expose youths for who really are, are usually terribly written are impossible to understand. As a reader, you will literally feel as though you are on this long journey with Holden, that only lasted a few days, you might even discover yourself with him. But I do have some small tweaks that I personally think would make the book more appealing for my tastes. One of the main weaknesses of this book is that at some parts, the book can be a bit “dry” and confusing. They're were very few moments like this though. Small incidents in which I had no idea what was going on, or how one situation connected to the next. But you've got to keep in mind that this book is being narrated by Caulfield himself. So I'd forgive the way in which he interprets things. One of the strengths of this book is the simpleness. The author was able to keep me as a reader engaged, without overrunning me with a ridiculous amount of detail or unnecessary information that didn't add to the plot at all. He used simple events, such as Holden in the cab asking about the animals freezing in the winter. I was ears-up to this question and eager to read the answer because it's something I've always wondered myself.

If I could possibly change one thing, it'd be minor. I think this book could have been better if there were a bit more of recurring characters. That I possibly think could have kept Holden's attention, or he made some type of internal bond with, besides Phoebe. But thats only one thing, besides that, this book doesn't really need to change at all!

I mostly recommend this book to adolescence and young adults, but it could possibly be a good read to those much older (the original text was made for adults). Those who want a book that is not hard on the eyes, or the mind. That depicts a main character who's flaws overflow the pages, and is far from cliché. This is not a story you'll read everyday.

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Book Review Amanda Thieu

The title of the book I am reading for my project is called “the full spectrum”, These stories expressed by real teens around my age who are experiencing their sexuality whether being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual, etc. The editor of this book is the famous David Levithan. This acclaimed author is known for his books about same sex relationships. He has received many prestigious awards for his written work. He was awarded the “Lambda Literary Award for Children's/Young Adult for his book Boy Meets Boy.

Since this book consists of many mini stories, I’m going to summarize a couple of them that stood out to me. L. Canale is in love with her best friend Carol. These two are inseparable. She’s in a situation regarding her conservative christan father; He does not approve of same sex relationships, yet it’s happening under the same roof. She feels unaceppted and different because her parents downgrades her sexuality. In the beginning of the story L. Canale was trying to keep it a secret but her father ess-dropped on a phone call between the lovers that discovered the hidden relationship. She despises him. All of her thoughts and feelings are written down in a diary form. Her emotions torwards them are horried and agressive. In her diary she uses an abundance amount of curse words and repeatly saying how they should accept her because she’s their daughter. The main conflict in this story is person vs. person because her parents are against her being gay and it creates many problems. The next story is written by a transgender who is now a male named Evin Hunter. When he was younger as a straight 10 year old girl in the 5th grade, he heard about a boy named Matthew Shepard who was murdered because he was gay. He was abducted and left to die in the cold night. This hasn’t struck the writer back then because she barely knew what the word “Gay” meant. Since he is now a different sex it has a much more impact on his life than it was in the 5th grade. He feels that it could happened to him at any moment. There were many “Gay Bashings” which means that they would punish the people who were openly gay. He describes how fear pushes people into sucidal thoughts and actions. The conflict in this story is person vs. society. Many groups around the country are anti gay, which puts gays in jepordy and harm.

For me, I’m straight but everybody has their gay moments. At a point I was bi-curious just to find out my sexuality. Since I cannot relate to being gay, I can relate to the feelings of being an outcast. People can make you feel important and apart of something good, or can tear you down with words and actions. I’ve been in their place. I’ve felt like I was alone and that everybody hated me but I just did not know why. Even though you’re different from most people does not make you a weird or wrong, it makes you an individual.

In my opinion, I was in love with the book. The strengths of the book was that it was in fact written by real teens with real emotions. I felt that there weren’t any weaknesses in the book. I think, that the book was very well written and explained very nicely. If I would have changed anything in the book, I would organize the topics better. For example, I’d put the sexualities in different parts. For instance, gays into one part, transgender in another and so forth. I would also put narratives into one place and poems into another just to make it easier to read.

I would recommend this book to people who like to read anything regarding teens and their lives or like stories about kids in highschool having trouble with their sexuality.  

Photo on 12-24-12 at 10.37 PM
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Book Review of Defiance - Zoe Schwingel-Sauer

Zoe Schwingel-Sauer

With all these numerous and various books in the world, it is hard to find one that you cannot put down and are fond of. Defiance by C. J. Redwine happens to be one of the few books that has those qualities. This book is fairly new and was published in 2012, so it does not have any awards, yet. Although the book does have countless fantastic reviews that come from highly praised writers and newspapers. The main characters Rachel the protagonist, Logan the love interest and companion, and The Commander the evil ruler are in for a long and wild ride. In the enclosed city Baalboden, a ruthless leader known as The Commander uses manipulation and violence to keep control. His best tracker, Jared, who has ventured passed the Wall into the Wasteland, has yet to return. He is proclaimed dead. Jared’s daughter, Rachel, is certain that he is still alive in the Wasteland. She plans to go seek him out and bring him back along with the companionship of Logan. Logan, the man she confessed her love for and got rejected. The Commander discovers her plan and forces her upon a quest to retrieve her father and the notorious package that every city is after. The story is all about the challenges Rachel and Logan overcome to find Jared, the package, and each other.

Over the entire span of Defiance there are various themes that people can take from the book. The main themes that I took from this book are love, revenge, and discovering the good versus evil in yourself. Obviously there is an ongoing romance that plays a huge role in all the decisions that many of the characters make. Also, Rachel’s love for her father, Jared, drives her to keep looking for him and the package. Her love for her father gives her the idea that revenge in the only way to commemorate his death. In Defiance, revenge is always a motive of the characters. Rachel wants to exact her vengeance on The Commander for hurting Logan and for the death of Jared, which she blames on him. The Commander beat Logan’s mother to death, and Logan has been after him ever since. There is a constant battle for Rachel of the being good and being what she thinks is evil. Since Rachel is the protagonist we’re made to assume that she is the “good guy.” However in the story she has some evils within that make her “goodness” debatable. I think she really struggles with good and evil and her deciding what she really thinks of herself.

All of the characters in Defiance are complex and have many layers to their personalities, but my favorite one would have to be  Logan. I enjoy Logan as a character the most, because he is what a lot of people aspire to be. He always puts others before him. Logan also is a very intelligent guy who can pretty much think his way out of everything. Throughout the entire story he never gives up. Even when Logan is trapped in a dungeon with broken ribs, bruises, and little food, he manages to escape to the Wasteland. I can relate to multiple characters in Defiance, but one character that really speaks to me is Logan. He tends to over think everything. His over thinking results in him creating the worst case scenarios. I tend to do the exact same thing. I definitely over think most situations and end up thinking the worst. I have felt and done some of the things that Logan has, too. When he was locked in the dungeon, he had this determination that he used to escape and refused to give up. And while I have never been trapped in a dungeon, I do know what it feels to be so determined that giving up isn’t even an option.

I find Defiance to be a well written book full of romance, drama, and adventure. I happen to appreciate these qualities in a story, so I enjoyed it very much. Both Rachel and Logan narrate the book which I really love. It gives you both of their perspectives and because they’re such different people, it really gives you a lot of insight. Also instead of just knowing what’s happening to one character the entire book, which can honestly get quite boring, you get to know what is happening to two different people. This enriches the book and gives it more depth. I feel that this book possesses an assortment of strengths and weaknesses. The strengths within the book are the narration, the characters, and the plot. The narration as I explained above is told from both Rachel and Logan’s point of view which gives a more detailed story overall. The characters are all very different people. They change throughout the book, and you see their development. You also really get to know them. C. J. Redwine gives the reader a ton of knowledge about the characters and shows the range of their emotions and actions. The plot is very strong. While it resembles quite a few other plots about romance and adventure, it is also unique, and gives you an interesting read. The biggest weakness in this book is that it is too long. I feel that the author strung out the first half of the book for way too long. The main action takes place after Rachel has escaped to the Wasteland, but that is in the second half of the book. Redwine makes the pre-escape too drawn-out. Overall a very strong book. If I had the opportunity of changing a part of the book, I would take out all the unnecessary chapters about the planning of Rachel and Logan’s escape. I would do this because Redwine goes on and on about the the planning of them disappearing, and it becomes kind of dull.

I would recommend this book to someone who enjoyed adventure coupled with a good love story. There is adventure in almost every single part of the book. The story is full of excitement and thrill, which makes it hard to put down once you’ve started it. The romance in Defiance goes through its ups and downs. The love story of Rachel and Logan started before the book, when Rachel was 15. She offered her heart to Logan and he rejected it. Ever since, she has avoided him. That is until Jared’s disappearance. Their love is ultimately the only thing that keeps them going on a daily basis, and you’ll find yourself rooting for them during the book.

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Book Review on Change of Heart

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult is a moving book that incorporates love and death, religion and murder and beliefs. This heart-moving book (no pun intended) made me question my values and made me think about if I was in their position. 

Shay Bourne is the first death row sentence in New Hampshire in 69 years. He committed double murder, a young girl and her step-father and now he wants to be redeemed. Enter June Nealon. She can’t lose her only connection to her husband by letting her daughter, Claire, die, but there are no hearts that are the right match for Claire. Except for Shay. Shay wants to help by giving Claire his heart after he is executed. This transaction shouldn’t be that hard. But it is because Shay is the murderer of June’s husband and daughter, Kurt and Elizabeth Nealon. June has to decide whether she wants to have the killer of Elizabeth help her other daughter live. She has to decide whether she wants to let her vengeance go and grant him his dying wish to help Claire. At the same time, in the prison where Shay is being held, he starts to do miracles that resemble the same miracles that Jesus had done. His cell mate is convinced that he is the Messiah but the others aren’t so sure. He claims that he is not religious at all and that he has never read the bible at all. So why would he be quoting out of the hidden gospels?

I can’t really relate to much in the book that is important because all of the actions are very extreme like killing two people and choosing life over death and doing miracles. I feel like the book made me think harder about religion and what some of my values are. I also thought about what I would do if I were June Nealon and if what she did was right or true. This is a very thought provoking book and very deep. I also liked this book because the ending didn’t leave you wanting to know more or wanting a sequel. This book made the ending clear and I find that the ending was the best part of the book. I think that it was perfect that there were no weaknesses at all. The strengths about the book was the way many points of view the story was told in and how the book made you think about religion and ethics. If there was something that I would change about the book, it would be to have some underlying plots including some of the minor characters. There are some already but I think that it would be interesting to find more. Also I like connections between characters that you find out about later on in the book. I would recommend this book to someone who likes big reads because this book is about 400 pages at least. It took me about 2 weeks to read it and once you get to the good parts it is very hard to put down. So if you are thinking about reading it, make sure you have a good chunk of time on your hands. 

Overall I think that this book can be a 5 star on my shelf because it hits a lot of points that you wouldn’t find connected otherwise. This book makes you think and lets you reconsider some ideas that are rarely brought up. It is a long book but in the end it is worth it. 

English Benchmark
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The Mark of Athena-Jesse Shuter

Jesse Shuter-The Mark of Athena

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan is part of a series called The Heroes of Olympus. This series is a continuation of the very popular Percy Jackson series. The first Percy Jackson book became so popular that it had turned into a movie, and the second Percy Jackson book is currently becoming a movie. The series is one of the most popular series in America. The book is so interesting because it is a fun and easy way to learn about Greek and Roman mythology and history.

The book is about the two sides of mythology coming together to unite and defeat the oppressing Giant army. After the last two books Percy the leader of the Greek camp and a son of the Greek god Poseidon has been placed in the Roman camp; and Jason the leader of the Roman camp and son of the Roman god Jupiter was placed in the Greek one. Both of their memories had been erased and they both needed to lead a new group of friends into battle. Now they remember everything, and they are about to reunite with their old friends. Annabeth is a daughter of Athena, and Percy’s girlfriend, she and her new friends Piper and Leo along with Jason are returning to meet with Percy and his new friends Hazel and Frank. They get there and everything is going well but then Leo uses their ship to attempt to blow up the Roman camp. The Romans are infuriated so they chase the seven friends away. Leo quickly becomes the underdog and the outsider from this point on, he is the only one of the seven friends that is not dating another friend, and he is the most clumsy and awkward of them all. This quickly makes him a favorite to become the hero. 

The friends go on an adventure all the way to Rome, the home of their history. They run into a lot of trouble on the way and when they get there they need to defeat the Giant brothers. Meanwhile Annabeth needs to save a priceless item that was stolen from her mother, she needs to get it back and defeat a secret and powerful enemy to restore her mother’s honor. She needs to do this mission alone and keep it a secret from her friends, but they quickly realize that something is up. One thing that is so enthralling about this book is that there are so many conflicts and plot points that you never no what is going to happen next. All of the friends experience person vs. person conflict; person vs. society conflict; and even person vs. self conflict. A theme that is so captivating in this book is that each chapter comes from a different character’s perspective. This way the reader always knows what is going on and gets to learn about each of the characters and how they look at the situations that are happening to them and their friends. This book helps readers to understand the powers of friendship, and also it helps them to learn about Greek and Roman mythology.

Since this book allows you to understand all of the characters and their personalities; it becomes easy to relate to the characters. Sometimes I feel like Leo, and I feel like an outsider, even in my own group of friends. Sometimes I feel like Annabeth, and I need to be brave or take on a large responsibility to benefit my friends. I can connect to each and every one of these characters, and that is why this book is so gripping and it is so enjoyable to read. I love this book, ever since I started reading the Percy Jackson series, I have become emotionally invested in the characters and I always want to know what happens to them. The way that Rick Riordan writes it is so easy for anyone to enjoy the books. I also enjoy how he writes so visually allowing the readers to actually imagine what they are reading. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a series that they are willing to get invested in. However I would start by reading the other books first.

This book is so engaging because it is so easy to identify with the characters and it is an enjoyable way to learn about the Greek and Roman mythology and history. The book is so full of cliffhangers and conflicts and plot points that it is worthwhile to read the book.

If you would like to see my movie trailer click here.

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Book Review On Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

Here's my song
The song starts off higher for his childhood and gets deeper as he makes more mistakes and grows older. 

For my independent reading project, I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. The book was published in Ireland in 1916. Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882 and his childhood experiences growing up in Ireland under a Catholic upbringing had largely influenced his books, especially Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Joyce relates to the main character Stephen quite well.

Stephen Dedalus is the main protagonist in this book. He is intelligent beyond his years and never fit in well amongst his peers. Dedalus is sensitive and things bother him more than they should sometimes. It is a controversial time to live in Ireland as a large political leader his father was in favor of had just died. However, his father’s opinion was not the popular one. As he realizes, they boys take after their fathers and Stephen becomes more of an outcast. Despite the fact that socially he didn’t fit in well, his father also was on the other side of the political argument. Stephen faced a difficult social situation at school, both with the children and the school staff. As Stephen grew older, things eventually got better. He experimented with some things socially that didn’t work well for him, but things do change.

I do relate to Stephen in some ways. I understand what it is like to be socially an out cast. When I was in middle school I didn’t fit in because I was more vocal with my intelligence. I wasn’t afraid to read books by authors such as Stephen Hawking and things like that. The other kids were more concerned about being “cool.” I think anyone who has been on the outside care relate to this book.
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Toby Hahn's Review on Pebble in the Sky

Pebble in the Sky Book Review

Pebble in the Sky was Isaac Asimov's first novel. It is part of the Empire series, which takes place in the Foundation universe. The Foundation series won a Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966. Pebble in the Sky was first written as a short story called “Grow Old Along with Me” and submitted to Startling Stories. It was rejected because the magazine's usual genre was adventure instead of science fiction. The story was then accepted by the Doubleday publishing company, as long as Asimov would expand it to 70,000 words and give the book a name that sounded more like a science fiction book. In 1951, a radio adaption, written by Ernest Kinoy, was aired on NBC. However, the radio adaption left most of the plot points out, including the entire concept of time travel.

In Pebble in the Sky, a man named Joseph Schwartz is inadvertently transported into the future because of an accident regarding a uranium sample at a nearby laboratory. He stumbles to the house of a couple who take him in nervously. They do this because the law is that anyone over sixty will be killed. They are hiding a relative who is over sixty, and they are worried Schwartz is a government agent. Earth is radioactive, and oppressed by the galactic empire who see earth's natives as a lesser race. Earth has attempted to rebel multiple times in the past. Schwartz is taken by the couple to a trial for a machine that is said to activate the synapses in the brain and make the subject smarter. Schwartz gains increased mental powers from the machine, allowing him to harm or even kill a person. Schwartz, the machine's inventor, his daughter, and an archeologist named Bel Avardan discover a plot by religious fanatics on earth to release a virus that would wipe out all the other planets. They are able to stop it, however, using Schwartz's mental powers. In the radio adaption, however, the rebels on Earth succeed in releasing the virus, making Earth the only planet left living in the galaxy, therefore the earth is a pebble in the sky.

There is a conflict in this book. The type of conflict is person versus society, because the conflict is Bel Avardan (who is from the Empire) trying to avoid the prejudices of the Empire when dealing with Earth. He has a very unpopular theory that Earth is the planet that humanity began on, which is proven in another Foundation universe novel, Foundation and Earth. The people of Earth are looked down upon by the Empire, and Avardan has to deal with this while trying to prove his theory.

My favorite character would have to be Joseph Schwartz, because of his unique mental abilities and predicament. Seeing him gradually become aware of his mental abilities and learning how to use them makes him a very interesting character. I think one of the ideas in this book is that keeping a group of people oppressed for a long time is a bad thing and can have dangerous results.

I cannot relate to this book because the characters and events in this book are so different than my life, because it is a science fiction book. What happens in this book is as far as we know impossible, so I can't relate to it. Although, I have trouble relating to books in general, even books that are not science fiction books. The fact that it is a science fiction book and the events within are impossible is just a reason that springs to mind. It may be the reason for this particular book, but since I have trouble relating to books other than science fiction books, there may be another reason.

However, I did enjoy this book. It is an exciting read that provides an interesting view of Asimov's Foundation universe. On the downside, the plot can be shallow, as much of it hinges on the coincidence of Schwartz being transported to the future and gaining mental powers that inevitably happen to save the galaxy. Pebble in the Sky lacks the deep and engaging plot of Asimov's Foundation series, but it is still an exciting and interesting book that is definitely worth your time.

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Review of Origin by Jessica Khoury

Origin by Jessica Khoury is a young adult book about a secret laboratory deep in the rainforest holding one girl who can never die. Jessica Khoury is 22 years old and this is her first book on the shelves. So far, Origin has been a great success.

Pia, the protagonist, is 17 years old - and she will never die. All she has ever known is Little Cambridge, a laboratory built to develop the Immortis serum deep in the Amazon rainforest. Pia’s skin cannot be broken, she is immune to every disease, and her reflexes are faster than any normal human’s. Her whole life she has been training to become part of the Immortis team to create another immortal human just like herself - her Mr. Perfect - to help start their master race. Her “aunts” and “uncles” in Little Cam teach her all there is to know of biology and chemistry, but she knows nothing of the outside world. Then, one day, Pia discovers the hole. Little Cambridge is guarded by tall electric fences, but one night, Pia see a break. Her curiosity overcomes her fear of breaking the rules, and she explores the jungle world outside Little Cam. Pia then meets Eio, a young handsome boy from a nearby Amazonian tribe. Together, they discover the horrible truths behind Little Cam and its scientists - uncovering Pia’s true origin - and changing her life forever.

In Origin, there is consistent tension among characters because of the fear of the lab being discovered or of ruining the experiment. When Pia escapes, she comes back longing for the forest and afraid of being discovered. Later when she meets Eio, there is conflict of love versus one’s job - commitment versus curiosity. Origin also addresses the negative connotations of power. What will you do with the power to be fearless? The power to live forever? What would you do to reach that goal? Origin gives a new-age twist on the “age old desire to live forever.”

Pia is an angst-filled teenaged girl. Although I found her naivety (hardly her fault) a little annoying, I felt I could connect with that nagging feeling of not quite having enough. Pia knew that the lab was built for her to fit in perfectly, but she cannot help but feel that she might be able to find her place somewhere else. By the end, I found myself begging Pia to make the right choices and rooting for her to survive. Khoury does a great job creating a character that is both annoying and worth rooting for - a delicate balance that is hard to achieve.

My favorite character in Origin was Eio’s younger foster sister Ami. Ami is a minor character, but the happiest character in the novel. She is care-free and full of the joy of life. Ami’s spirit reminds Pia of the happiness to be found in the moment. Ami’s appearance in the climax brings her beautiful childlike philosophies of life to a full meaning. I think Ami is a lustrous embodiment of Khoury’s moral.

Origin is a breathlessly paced story full of profound philosophy and nail-biting plot twists. However beautifully it was written though, I could not help but feel like the book lacked something. I liked it, but there was not an overwhelming “wow” factor. The characters could have had slightly more substance. Though Eio and Pia’s relationship is heartwarming - it comes across as a relationship built on lust and utter curiosity rather than real love and feeling. Pia also has never experienced real love or affection before, so it seems implausible that she would fall head over heels in only a few days.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good dystopian science fiction book with a spice of romance. Anyone 12 and up could enjoy this book, but I do not believe it’s a book most adults would find satisfying. This book was written for teenage readers, and is best consumed by that audience. 

​Do you want to start a master race? Here is a simple home-brewed recipe for some tasty Immortis Serum. Feed to 32 people and have them interbreed, and their offspring interbreed, and so on for 5 generations, and then you will have an immortal child!

For an authentic tropical taste, mix
4 ounces of pineapple juice
4 ounces of mango juice
1 ounces of orange juice
For a magical effect, add
2 tablespoons of something shimmery or sparkly
To ensure the eternal youth of your successors, add
2 tablespoons of *spoilers*

Preferably served in the cup of the elysia flower, but cups that look like flowers will do.
Do not inject into bloodstream. Does not guarantee immortality.
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Michelle Friedman's Review of Great Expectations

"Who is Charles Dickens?" Said no one ever.

Charles Dickens is one of the most known and highly regarded authors of the 19th century. If you haven't heard of "Great Expectations", you may have heard the titles: "A Tale of Two Cities", "Oliver Twist", "A Christmas Carol", and many more. “Great Expectations has been turned into several movies, but the most recent of all was in 2012. This story was popular when it was written and it quite popular today. It is considered to be one of America’s “timeless classics”.

The encounters and events are told from the point of view of Pip, a young boy. The readers follow Pip’s journey as he becomes a gentleman and learns the most important life lessons he will ever learn. We begin our journey with Pip when he is just a young boy, about six years old. As time goes by Pip dreams of a different life. He lives with his aunt and uncle-in-law. Then, through some unexpected turn of events, Pip moves away from his dingy, poor home and into the fancy neighborhoods of London. That is when Pip meets new, rich, and popular people. He learns about different individuals along with different sides of himself that he had never known before. Through these revelations and more, Pip falls in and out of love and hatred. He battles himself when he is faced with choices that might decide the fate of his fellows; and apart from that, Pip needs to work harder than ever to reenforce connection with Joe, his uncle-in-law because of his foolish behavior earlier.

I believe that the best character in this story is Estella Havisham. She has clearly been through so many emotional obstacles. Miss Havisham, her (somewhat) mother, had exploited her and molded Estella into a fierce and cold woman. Though Estella had seemed cruel for a very long time, she is the character that receives most, if not all, of my pity and compassion because she had to live a life of deception and bullying simply because of what Miss Havisham had endured as a young woman.

If you ask a random group of readers what they have taken away from any book and you will get a million different answers. For me, this book was about finding yourself, becoming the person you want to be, and understanding those closest to you just about as much as you possibly can. I think I speak for most readers of  “Great Expectations” when I say that this book contained so many controversial ideas and equally as many inspirational and life-like events. Overall this book is magnificently written and brilliantly articulated.

As a very young boy, Pip meets people who are smarter, have more money, nicer houses, better clothes, and better etiquette. These people happen to be the Havishams, and they are not very kind towards Pip. As a result of these meetings, Pip starts to feel ashamed of his family and lifestyle. He is ready to do just about anything to become smarter, nicer looking, and just like the higher-class people that he continues to meet. I used to attend a very small and private Jewish day school where nearly everybody lived in huge houses, had fancy cars, pretty clothes, and basically had many more items than I did. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who has ever felt jealous in their lives, but Pip and I were constantly around these people who led (seemingly) better lives than we did. Consequently, we wanted the same life. I know that if you, or anybody, were in the same situation you would experience some of the same feelings that we did too.

I would, without a doubt, recommend this book to just about anybody. It has a great plot with much suspense and foreshadow. Charles Dickens is not one of the best known authors for nothing. He has a knack for describing everything in such a way that you will visualize it instantaneously. The only set back when reading any novel by this magnificent man is that he uses slightly too many words for my liking. Nevertheless, this is a terrific classic that will take you on a journey through a young boys life.
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The Year of The Hangman Book Review

The Year of The Hangman by Gary Blackwood is an interesting book. It is a piece of alternate history fiction. This is when a book takes a historical event but gives it a different outcome than what actually happened. In this case, the alternate history is about the outcome of the Revolutionary War. While it is a well known fact that the colonists won the Revolutionary War, this book talks about what it would have been like if the Colonists had lost. This book was published in 2002 and won the School Library Journal Best Book Award in 2002.
The main character, Creighton Brown is a boy around the time of adolescents. His family is historically wealthy but lately, they have not had such great fortune. His father is no longer alive. Creighton was told he died in battle. Creighton is more or less oblivious to this fact. Creighton has been loyal to Britain all his life and truly hates the Colonists. However, due to bad behavior, Creighton’s mother sends him to the Colonies where his uncle lives. On his way to the Colonies, Creighton gets captured with his uncle, Gower, Lieutenant Governor of Florida, and a British Marine Officer whose name is Hale. Hale and Gower eventually escape while Creighton pretends to be an indentured servant and is set free. Creighton acts as a spy on the Colonists. He ends up giving himself up to Benjamin Franklin and works in his paper shop as an assistant. Creighton also finds out that his father is not actually dead. Gower just told his family that he was because he was giving away secrets to the Colonists. Creighton, with the help of Benedict Arnold and his friend Peter save Creighton’s father from the prison. When reading this book, I think it is important to try to appreciate what the author has done. He took something that actually happened and changed the outcome in a drastic way. He had to use his imagination while staying inside the outline of history. In other words, he changed history but made it realistic. This is something difficult to pull off and Gary Blackwood manages it gracefully.

One of the worse things about this book is relatability. When reading this book, I found it hard to relate almost any of the characters to myself. This made it harder to read. The one character who I thought was a little bit relatable was Peter, the clumsy giant. I found him relatable because I feel as though I am clumsy much like him. Peter was a good addition to the book for me. Peter’s feelings towards his clumsiness is something I can relate to even more. Peter and I feel the same in that we are always wondering if we are doing something clumsy. At least that is how I thought about Peter.

This book was fascinating. I think that it is definitely a good read. While it is a good book I have a few criticisms. First of all, some of the characters were hard to relate to making the book slightly less interesting. It took me a bit to get into the book. However, once I did, it was a page turner for me. In addition, the fact that it is alternate history was a little confusing to me at first. Gary Blackwood did not write in the book “Creighton said “This is a piece of alternate history which means that the author changed the outcome of something that happened in history.” Obviously that sounds very awkward and I cannot think of a single good place to put that sentence in the book. This is not such a big deal because eventually, one does catch on. It would have been helpful if I had known what kind of book it was beforehand. The weaknesses of the book are fairly minor and the major strength of the book is a big strength. I cannot imagine how careful Gary Blackwood could have been when writing this book. I find that the way he writes about what happened after a failed Revolutionary War is amazing. The author made sure to retain continuity throughout the book so that it truly seems that the Revolutionary War failed. Every detail is meticulously written so that it reflects the alternative outcome to the Revolutionary War.
I recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction. I think if you enjoyed Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson then you will also enjoy this book. They take place from around the same time period. I would also say that if you pickup this book and decide that you do not like it in the beginning, you should try to push through to the end. I promise it gets better the more you read.

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Life of Pi Review

Life of Pi is one of the greatest, most mind blowing books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was written by Yann Martel who lives in Montreal Canada and wrote this novel in 2001. On November 21, 2012, a movie of the book was made. The movie was directed by Ang Lee and received very good reviews. It is said to be a visually stunning film. I saw the movie and I have to agree. It is very well directed and exciting to watch, and the book is very well written and exciting to read.  

One of the things that I enjoyed about reading the book was that it is relatable to me. In the book, Pi lives at a zoo and is surrounded by animals. Animals, and animal behavior, are main factors in the story. These topics are constantly brought up when Pi has to deal with Richard Parker. Marine wildlife is also incorporated when Pi is in the Pacific Ocean. I am very fascinated with animals, so reading this book is interesting for me. The book demonstrates a few things about animal behavior, such as how they are territorial, and how they establish dominance. There is also a religious conflict in the first part of the book, during which Pi becomes a Christian, a Hindu, and a Muslim. I don’t really relate to this aspect of the story, but it is interesting to read and to think about. 

This book was arguably one of the best books that I have ever read. It is a gripping, page turning survival story that is difficult to put down. One of the books strengths is that it is a page-turner. The plot rarely gets boring. It is interesting to read about Pi’s challenge to survive at sea. He has to find food and fresh water, and establish dominance over Richard Parker in order to prevent him from attacking.It also really makes the reader think about life, religion, and the differences between humans and animals. One of the few things I did not like about it was that it started out a little bit slow and confusing. The beginning was basically trying to summarize Pi’s life. It discussed his life before and after the shipwreck, which got a little bit confusing at times. However the plot was just a bit difficult to follow. The book gets better as it progresses. If I could change one thing about this book it would be to make the beginning a little easier to understand. 

I would definitely recommend this book to others. Including kids, teens, and adults. It can be understood and enjoyed by almost all ages. I would recommend it to people who are interested in animals, like me, and to people who like books about shipwrecks, and people who like books about survival and adventure. In addition this book is great for people who like books that make them think. Even if someone does’t like these kind of books, reading Life of Pi might change that, because it is a book that might make a person start to enjoy reading. 

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Th1rteen R3asons Why, The Four1eenth Re4sons

So, if you are listening to this then you must have picked it up in the lost and found. When you are done I want you to pass this around the people on this list on this tape.

I think that sometimes people don’t understand the difference between life and death and why someone would want death over life. Well, I have expressed thirteen of the reasons for my suicide in other tapes that thirteen people knew about and as for you the person who is listening to this all you need to know is how to mail this to the next person.

Now down to why I made this tape, I originally thought, “Oh well the people on my list know what they did and now they know how it affected me in my emotional state.” Even so I thought that maybe through these tapes I could lead someone to go through something like what I went through because I don't think that I could wish that on anyone in this world. 

So here I go…

When I was done with the thirteen reasons and already packed and mailed them I thought to myself what about me, all those thoughts I had after those events and all those choices that I made affected the outcome for my decision. 

The first thing that I did concerning the first tape was when Justin spread the word that we did a bit more than kiss. He was wrong on his part, but maybe I had something to do with it because of my reaction. One rumor isn’t so bad and after all that I went through that was just a small part. Though it was the beginning of a chain of events.

Alex, you know what you did and it wasn’t just to me it was to all the girls on that list and because of that list you are on mine. I know I could have taken being on the good side of that list optimistically but it was what happened after that list that made me upset. When you put me on there I lost what I thought was a friend because of it and my reputation didn't get any better. In high school your reputation is all you have really, because you don't have any real world experiences that you can be proud of and help you move on. That rep gets you the nods in the hallways or the shunning in the lunch room. 

Jessica, I understand your point of view and I understand that you were mad with all these rumors, that you didn't know what to believe but I needed you to believe in me and I think that is what broke me down most. Losing your first friend in a new environment takes a toll on you and I think this was the downward spiral in a snowball effect.

Tyler, no one wants a stalker. That makes you feel weird and wonder why they would want to stalk you. Once you find out you wonder what they have already seen. I don't think there really is anything much left to say after stalker outside your bedroom with a camera.

Marcus, when you reinforced the rumors I thought, “Wow people really believe this crap.” I was shocked that someone could here something with no evidence and still believe it. 

Zach, I didn't know that what I did hurt you so bad, but in my time of need and the pleading look I gave you I thought you deserved it. Then you had to take the only  encouragement in my life. I guess what I'm trying to say is I was fishing for someone to say something nice to me in the sea of bad talk going around.

Clay, why didn't I get to know you better?

Justin, I don't know why you didn't stop Bryce, but I know I was too scared to and afterwards it made me feel horrible. I didn't want that burden on me because if you know you can prevent something bad and you don't, that is basically the same thing as going up to the person and giving them permission to do it.

Bryce, I don't know if you know I used you, but I did. By that time I made up my mind. With you I let myself fall deeper into this hole that was dug for me by others.

Mr Porter, you didn't stop me and I don't think I could have stopped me either especially at that point. I am sorry for putting you in such a difficult position in my decision.

One final goodbye to all of you.

For the audio click here

“Th1rteen R3asons Why” by Jay Asher tells the story of Hannah Baker a girl who killed herself. Clay Jensen is one of Hannah’s classmates and co-workers. He is on the audio tapes Hannah recorded and is listening to them throughout the book. I loved Jay asher portrayed Clay and his thoughts in the book when he was listening. Jay made some really great points about many suicide cases that I have heard about and he was so sincere through the whole book. You could tell Clay really cared for Hannah and wanted more of a relationship with her. You can tell clay is battling some conflict within himself and with Hannah. Hannah on the other hand was dealing with every type of conflict. She would have conflict with society that she would then reflect on inwardly. Additionally contrast was displayed when Hannah would face these situations. It was this vicious cycle that wore away at her emotions and I think the author did a good job of showing those emotions through the text.

Though the author was very good at conveying the emotions through the text, the format of the writing was hard to read. Going back and fourth from one person’s thoughts to another person’s thoughts was hard for my brain to differentiate. When I finished the novel I wanted a guide so I knew how to read the book. I wanted to get my mind ready to switch quickly from one persons’ train of thought, to the other’s, to the conversation one is having, to a conversation that the other had. Other than that the book was very well written and I cant wait to see if the movie that is rumored to happen will ruin the novel or hold ute to the characters jay has created.

The book hit me hard because I have struggled with some of the things that Hannah went through and I know others that have also. Hannah was the character that I could relate to, but Clay is the one that I understood the most. I could easily follow Clay’s train of thought and why he would ask the questions he did. When I first picked the novel up I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The book is very deep and it took me on an emotional roller coaster. The reader can take away that everything can effect any situation a person is going through.

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El mar de recuerdo.

Mar Adentro se trata de los últimos días de la vida de Ramón Sampedro. La película tuvo lugar en España. Ramón era pescador que vivía por todo el mundo, pero un día en el mar, el saltó de una roca al agua. Él no calculó que el agua se estaba bajando y cuando el salto se pego la cabeza con el piso del mar. Sufrió una lesión completa de la médula espinal que lo dejó tetrapléjico. Él tenía 25 años cuando el accidente pasó. Por 28 años la familia de Ramón lo cuidaban, pero en los 29 años Ramón estaba peleando el sistema. La razón por eso era porque Ramón se quería quitarse la vida pero Ramón era un tetrapléjico. Tonce el no lo podia hacerlo solo, él necesitaba que alguien lo hiciera, pero eso era ilegal y el sistema no lo iba a dejar que pase. Mientras el tiempo para ver si el gobierno lo deje quitarse la vida, Ramón escribió un libro. Cuando el libro fue publicada Ramón no espero y él se quitó la vida.

Mar adentro es controvertida porque presenta unas preguntas polémicas tale como, las temas de eutanasia, la muerte y crímenes, los deseos y la dignidad de una persona. Las preguntas que enseñan en la película es si el deseo de Ramón es digna, sí los seres queridos de Ramón le respetan el deseo de no vivir. Este tema es muy delicada y algo que no se puede cambiar. Había personas que juzgaba y no le respetar la decisión de Ramón. Eso lo hizo más difícil para Ramón, porque él tuvo un cura que estaba en contra de el deseo de él. El cura también era un tetrapléjico, pero el consiguió esperanza y no tenía una razón para vivir.

Mi posición en la idea de eutanasia es muy simple. Para mi la decisión de eutanasia depende solamente en la persona que le refiera. La vida de Ramón era digna, el solamente pensó que no habia ponto en vivir porque si él no podía caminar. Hay yo no estoy de acuerdo porque la vida es algo muy lindo no importa si no puedes mover el cuerpo. Ramón perdió toda la esperanza. Yo no estoy en contra de el deseo de Ramón pero tampoco lo apoyo.
Como lo veo yo Ramón no quiera vivir. La vida de el era muy difícil. No podemos decidir por nosotros mismos cuando no eres el único que se encuentra en la posición. Ramón tenía amor de su familia pero eso no era bastante para el. Entiendo que la vida no es fácil para los tetrapléjico pero eso no es una razón para quitarse la vida. Ayudando a alguien quitarse la vida asesinado. En mi opiñon

A mi me gusto mucho la película. Era muy conmovedor cuando rosa se quedó con Ramón hasta el fin. Además Ramón tuvo un último momento d'amore. La vida es muy delicada y la película lo enseña. La vida de Ramón de verda era muy deprimente. No la voy a ver de nuevo porque tambien no me entereso. Era de una person que no quiera vivir y a mi no me gusta mucho esas peliculas. Yo prefiero una película que termina con todos felices para siempre.
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Finally Free book review

Finally Free book review

The authors of the book Finally Free are Michael Vick, Brett Honeycutt and Stephen Copeland. I heard of this book from an post game interview I watched of Michael Vick. I also learned about the book when I searched on good reads for sports books. The book Finally free is an autobiography about Michael Vick.  The main character in the book Finally Free is Michael Vick. In the book Michael Vick talks about his life and his up rising and falls. There is a conflict in the book Finally free. The conflict is Michael Vick was dealing with something and no one knew about it and he would not tell anyone. Michael Vick hid the problem from so many important people in his life. This one problem affected Michael Vick’s entire life. My favorite character in the book Finally Free is Michael Vick. Michael Vick is my favorite character in the book because I love the way he has matured and grown up. Furthermore he has learned from his mistakes and now he is has gone around the country to talk youth about making good choices. I believe that readers should take away a few things from this book. One thing being to make good choices in life. The second thing being to be a family oriented person and to take care of your family first. The third thing being to do things right the first time. The fourth and last thing that people should take away from this book is to take advantage of second opportunities if you receive them and make the most of them. I could relate to one character in the book. That one character being Michael Vick. I believe that we have similarities. Michael Vick’s grandmother was an important person in his life and my grandmother is an important person in my life. Also we both like the game of football and sports. Furthermore we are both hard workers. We both work very hard in everything we do. I have done some of the things that Michael Vick has done such as play sports and volunteering at different places. I have felt some of the ways Michael Vick has felt such as when playing sports. When playing sports you want to win every game and with it when you lose you get really mad. Furthermore when you lose you want to find out what you did wrong and what you can do better to win the game the next time. Another thing that I have felt that Michael Vick has felt is with Michael Vick he went to the Boys and Girls club of America when was younger and I go to Boy Scouts so they are kind of similar because they both keep you doing things that are productive. They also teach life goals and the way to live a healthy life. I do like the book Finally Free. I believe that this book has many strengths. One being the message. That if you receive a second chance take full advantage of it. The second being the quality of the detail and the information of the book. The third and last being the change from the beginning of the book to the end and how Michael Vick matured through the years. Their are also some weaknesses in the book. One being that the book was not long enough.  The second being that their were not enough statements from other people in the book. The third and last thing is the book did have enough about Michael Vick’s childhood. In the book Finally Free one thing that I would change would be the length of the book. I would have made the book longer and I think that their was more information to talk about in the book. I would recommend this book to other people. I believe that this book is a good book and is very informative. I would not recommend this book to everyone. I believe that this book is for a certain type of person. I believe people who have very strong opinions against Michael Vick should not read this book. I think that this book is more to motivate people who have second chances and how they can take full advantage of them. Furthermore this book is for Michael Vick fans and people who support him and want to know more about him. Also what Michael Vick went through. Overall this is a good book and I recommend to others to read.                                       

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Book Review & Movie Trailer: Skate

Joseff Filamor

December 20, 2012

Skate Book Review

Skate by Michael Harmon, follows young skater Ian McDermott. While being a junior in highschool and juggling skateboarding with school work, Ian is also raising his younger brother, Sammy, while his Mom is out on her drinking binges. Sammy is also a very talented skateboarder, but at the same time has several problems keeping him from skating with his older brother. He attends Special Ed classes while also going to regular school, and has a hard time dealing with authority. Both Sammy and Ian are growing up without a father. At school, Ian is hated by the majority of his teachers. He ends up punching and knocking out his coach. The stress end up being too much for him, which leaves him with only one choice; leave with Sammy.
Being a skater myself, it is easy to relate to Skate. It’s a perfect example of what the average skateboarder has to deal with. Whether it’s having to deal with authority hassle us or anything related. Although, even if you are not a skater, Skate is still a relatable book. The book relates to skateboarders just as it does to non-skaters. It addresses the bond between brothers, redemption and teen rage. Skate is the perfect combination of situations which makes it relatable to any reader. The book talks about average everyday problems including bigger ones that even the reader wouldn’t be used to hearing, at least I have not.
Although, do not just real the book if you are interested in skating and nothing else. I wouldn't say Skate does not address the life of a skater, but it doesn't do the it justice.
In most cases, it does, but Skate doesn't talk about tricks, sponsorships, or filming of any kind. (Basic skateboarding side hobbies.)

Michael Harmon wanted to portray the life of a teenager with life problems, not a

skater. The book is based off of skateboarding but the skate references are not relevant to real
life skaters. When skateboarding comes up in the book, the only things Ian and Sammy say
are “Grind,” “Ollie” or “180.” Specific tricks rarely ever come up.
Don’t get me wrong, you will enjoy Skate even without true skate references. It is now probably my favorite book that I have ever read. Skate is relatable in so many different
aspects. I highly recommend Skate to anyone interested in adventure, drama or skateboarding.

My visual for this project in a trailer based off of the book. I use a song I believe is a perfect match for the book, clips from movies that are relatable to Skate, and a little creative editing. Enjoy! Video HERE

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Mar Adentro- La experiencía del humano, ¿Qué es?

La película Mar Adentro se trata de un tetrapléjico que se llama Ramón Sampedro. Él era de España y trabajaba como mecánico marinero. Viajaba mucho a lugares como París, Nueva York, China. Se parecía que él tenía una buena vida, pero, todos se terminaron. Un día, Ramón se saltó del borde del acantilado en el mar. Pero, el agua no fue ancho, y se rompió el cuello. Por eso, él no podía moverse por el resto de la vida. Después de 28 años, Ramón decidió a quitarse la vida. Su familia y el gobierno estaba en contra del deseo, pero él tenía otras personas que estaban listos a ayudar. En el final, él se quitó la vida.

morality1 La película es llena de temas controvertidos. Son los temas de los derechos de los humanos, la significa de la vida digna, la eutanasia- es un crimen o no- y la muerte. Una pregunta que la película se presenta es “¿Qué son los derechos de los humanos?” En la película, Ramón pensaba que el derecho a morir era suyo. También, se pensaba que morir era el derecho de todo. Aun así, su familia y el gobierno decían que no. Además, la película se traiga la idea de la dignidad de vivir. ¿Como nos definamos la dignidad? ¿Y exactamente que se da la dignidad a la vida? En la película, Ramón discutía que la vida de un tetrapléjico no era digna, pero otro puede discutir que no es necesariamente la verdad. En este caso, la respuesta es totalmente del individual. Finalmente, la película se pregunta si la eutanasia es crimen un crimen o no. La película se pregunta sobre la muerte- ¿es de nosotros? ¿Es el derecho de la muerte una cosa los humanos pueden usar? Los temas abren debates feroces para la sociedad porque la religión y libertad son cosas que están en contra de ellos mismos. También, el hecho que la población está divido; la mayoría de la población son a favor de la religión, así que, los temas que han presentado, están en contra de este parte de la población.

Primero, para mi, es dificil decir que son los derechos de los humanos. Es porque mi punto de vista, por lo general, no es evidente. Por un lado, creo que los humanos tienen los derechos de cualquier cosa. Tenemos los derechos a vivir como lo queremos; se incluye amor, trabajar, y más, que nos da felicidades. Pero, por otro lado, creencias de religión me da pensar en otra manera. Un parte de mí cree que algunos derechos no son nuestros. Igual que no tenemos a derecho a quitarse la vida de otro. Sin embargo, mi opinion del tema próximo es más evidente. Como lo veo yo, la vida digna es vivir. Es vivir con cualquier cosa- se incluye las condiciones igual a un tetrapléjico. Pero claro que los todos no estarían de acuerdo. Dignidad es una cosa que el significado cambia desde persona a persona. Aun así, este hecho ha sido probado ser polémico. Veo que los humanos frecuentemente intentar a imponer sus creencias sobre los otros. Y por eso, estamos más reluctante a respetar los deseos de otros. No obstante, este continuará. A pesar de eso, debemos vivir siempre- porque hay solamente una vida, y la vida vale a pena. Con este idea en mente, no estoy de acuerdo con el deseo de Ramón. Tercero, la eutanasia es un crimen según los leyes- no es legal a matar otra. Pero es diferente moralmente en este caso- porque Ramón lo quiere. Sin embargo, ¿es la eutanasia igual a dejar uno de los seres queridos- si esta en coma o alguno estatua como así- morir? En la sociedad, es acceptable. Sin embargo, es como la eutanasia un poco. Por eso, la sociedad tiene opiniones diferentes, pero a mi me parece que es un crimen y no. Y finalmente, la muerte. Para este, mi opinion es también de religión. Creo que uno no puede quitarse la vida- ya tenemos horas para morir. Desde mi punto de vista, a muerte es algo que nadie puede predecir o parar, pero podemos vivir completamente y verdaderamente hasta el final. La muerte no es para nosotros.

En total, disfrute viendo la película. Aunque, no es muy profundo para mi, la película es edificante, verdaderamente, y- un una manera- simple. Alejandro Amenábar se presenta la protagonista de alguna manera que le da una personalidad memorable- aun si a él, no te gusta. También, el reparto es relacionable. Amenábar le da la audiencia los dos lados del problema, no es parcial. A esto, me gusta. Pero me gusta que la película se pregunta el mundo, “¿Que tiene razón?”. En realidad, nadie lo sabe. Un lado dice algo, y el otro también, y el significado de tener razón es diferente. Por eso, la película enseña que es importante vivir o morir para la felicidades. También, la película se presenta el fuente a decidir sobre deseos en la vida. Este idea, es lo que tenemos que tomar y recordar mientras vivir.                                                     
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All The Things I've Done (Independent Reading)

Reasons for Song Choice:

(Daughters-John Mayer) Anya always relates everything back to her dad. He has had a big impact on her life. He impacted her so much it has came to the point of she can't go five seconds without thinking of one of his sayings or something that he used to do. She still follows the instructions he gave her before he died. I think this is a good song to represent this because its about the impact fathers have on their daughters.

(Both of us-B.o.B ft. Taylor Swift) Every thing seems to be against Anya. All she wants to do is take care of he brother and sister, but her mob connection keeps getting in the way of it. This song shows that no matter how manny times she is pushed down, she will trying to protect her brother and sister no matter the cost

(Stand up-Jessie J) I feel this song represents Anya's relationship with Win. How with him she just threw caution to the wind, and went with it. She is so used to controlling everything in her life, but Win took her by surprise. She couldn't control it so just decide to justlet it happen and see where things end up. It also shows how Anya did not allow her soundings effect her judgment. She did her best to not allow her family background to control her sister's, her brother's, or her life.

(Blow Me(One last Kiss)- P!nk) This is the song represents Anya and Win's break-up. In the end they both still loved each other, but their relationship got to much to handle. Win was always being put n danger because of who Anya was. And Anya was couldn't let her relationship with win take away from her responsibly to her brother and sister.

(Girl on Fire-Alicia keys ft. Nicki Minaj) The main character is a girl. She has all the weight of the world on her shoulders, and yet she still keeps going. This represents her strength and will to keep going, no matter what is throne at her. 

(Empire State of Mind-Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys) I felt that this song was important to add because the book was set in NewYork. Also because the song specks of over coming the things that put you down. Anya did just that, she tried to make the best of her situation. 

(If I Die Young-The Band Perry) I added this song to the playlist because it reprints all the deaths that have happened throughout the course of Anya's life.

(Runaway love- Ludacris ft. Mary J. Blige) (Show goes on-Lupe Fiasco)

 Represents how bad Anya world is, not just her world but the world Gabrielle Zevin created around Anya. Its filled with violence and corruption, and yet there are still themes few people who say good and stand up for those who can't do it for them selves. 

(Beautiful People-Cher llyod ft. Carolina Liar) This song represents the betrayal in the book. I thought it was important to add a song about betrayal because that is what the whole plot line revolves around, I mean how can you have a good mafia book with out a little betrayal?

(Changes-David Bowie) I added this song because I felt that this book also represented change . The change in Anya's life, change in the political world, just change in general no matter if it was for bad or good.

(Not like the movies- Katty Perry) I added this song because I felt that Anya and Win's relationship was something you only here about in movies and books so I thought it was important to point out that detail about the book.

(Chocolate-Snow Patrol) Because Anya family is the head of the U.S chocolate shipping and the book is centered around her family and it's business I felt it was important to add a chocolate song to my playlist

(Cleanin' out my closet-Eminem) I felt this song best represented the title of the of the book("All the Things I've Done), because it has to do with looking at your problems and dealing with them.

(Feel Again-One Republic) This song best represents how Win showed Anya that the world still had some good in it.

(Jesus Walks-Kanye West) This song represents Anya's religion. Even though she loose, she always finds her way back, even in some of the darkest times.

My Review of the book-

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading one of the best books I have had the liberty of reading. "All The Things I've Done" (book #1 of the birthright series) is an unique creation from the amazing mind of Gabrielle Zevin.
The year is 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal and the great city of New York is now poverty ridden. Since the death of her father, 16-year-old Anya Balaniche has been taking care of her bother and sister. It is Anya's job to make sure bother and sister are safe, happy, and above all stay out of the family's chocolate business, so they would be spared the same fate as their parents. But lately this task has proved to difficult thanks to some unwanted publicity focused on her attraction to win, the new Ass. DA's son. Thanks to a poisoned chocolate shipment Anya is thrusted into the world of organized crime and dirty politics, when she is wrongly accused of trying to kill her ex with the tainted candy. To clear her name she must uncover who is behind the tainted shipment, while trying to protect her family, keep Win alive, and maintain her grades.
I feel that the book was the perfect balance between action and romance. I loved every second of it. I was able to look at Anya's life and see aspects of my own. Like how I have to care for my family at a young age, even though my parent are alive and well. Many kids are given the responsibility of taking care of younger siblings so the parent can provide for the family, and some time it's nice to see that they are not alone. If I had to recommend it to anyone who likes dystopia, romance , or even a people who enjoy a good growing up story. All in all, I believe this is a good read and anyone would benefit from picking it up.

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