Q2 Benchmark: (Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff)

Isabella Blackwell

The Best Independent Reading Project Ever!!

Book Review of Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff 

What do you do when life gives you lemons? Make lemonade. Award Winning author, Virginia Euwer Wolff, makes this exact point in her intriguing novel “Make Lemonade”. This book is a must read for young girls (and boys) learning to make the right choices for a good life in the future. 

This empowering story was honored as “Top of the List” on Booklist.com. It was also named as a School Library Journal’s Best Book. In addition, the American Library Association tags it as “A best book for young adults.” and Publishers Weekly reviews the book as “Radiant with hope.” while Kirkus Reviews calls it “Powerfully moving.”

The novel explores the life of 14 year old LaVaughn. As a hardworking student, LaVaughn is excited about experiencing college life and anxious about how she is going to get there. Her mother tells her that her ticket to college is money, and that she needs to make it herself. She gets started right away, and takes a job as a babysitter for seventeen year-old Jolly. Not knowing what she was getting herself into, LaVaughn goes to see Jolly and her two kids Jeremy and Jilly. As soon as she walks into the house she is amazed and disgusted at the same time. Cockroaches, messy floors and tables, and kids with food all over themselves were only a few of the things she sees that are a complete opposite of the life she is used to.

As the story evolves, LaVaughn creates a very strong bond with the children and surprisingly develops a unique friendship with Jolly too. She learns that Jolly is even less stable than most seventeen year olds because of the route her life has taken. LaVaughn is shocked and truly affected by Jolly’s struggle to provide for her kids and herself. She struggles herself as the relationship she has formed with them begins to affect her personal and academic life. Does she stay and continue to help them or does cut ties in order to make herself and her studies her priorities?

LaVaughn is strong in character and is confident in the decisions she makes. She is the star in this journey and can inspire young people to be empathetic, caring, and smart decision makers. She is bright and smart enough to learn the lessons around her.

I relate to LaVaughn in that I have learned difficult life lessons by seeing the choices made by others around me. In my personal life, there is a person who has chosen to inflict pain and physical injury to themselves in order to deal with difficult situations or problems in their life. Unfortunately their choices continue to lead them to a future with few opportunities and unhappiness. LaVaughn reminds me to think independently and to use my experiences and the experiences of others to make positive life choices.

This book was a pleasure to read. It is for sure a new favorite and I found it enjoyable and hard to put down. The messages and life lessons that I came away with will be memorable to say the least. Young people will appreciate the flow of this book written in poetic form. It is relatable and inspiring. 

Before I Fall Q2 Benchmark Project

Before I Fall

By Lauren Oliver

Reviewed by Amelia Stuart

Before I Fall was Lauren Oliver’s first novel, she followed the book with Delirium the first book in a trilogy. The other books in the series include Pandemonium and soon to be published  Requiem. Before I Fall has been thought of as a movie for quite some time, and according to Lauren Oliver’s blog, the film finally has a director and will most likely be released in 2013 or 2014.

The book starts with Samantha Kingston waking up for school on February 12 better known as “Cupid Day” at her school where everyone sends their friends or boyfriend/girlfriend roses. Throughout her daily routine the reader is given snippets of her social life, like the fact that in just a few hours she will lose her virginity to her boyfriend Rob. Two new characters are introduced in the next couple of pages, one is Sam’s best friend Lindsay Edgecombe, the other is Sam’s friend Elody, her third friend Ally comes in later at school. The girls attend school and get their flowers, after school they learn that there is to be a party that night hosted by Kent, a not so popular boy who is in love with Sam. The girls get ready for the party and head over, Sam has the agreement with Rob that they will go to the party and stay for awhile before they leave. At the end of the night Rob becomes completely drunk and falls asleep on the couch, making Sam leave the party with her friends. The girls are driving down the road when it happens, a white flash comes in front of the car and Lindsay screams “shit”, “sight”, or “sit” Sam can’t tell. What she can remember is a horrible sound of metal on metal, the car folding in two. She wakes up the next day, confused to find that it’s February 12th again. This continues for seven days, each day Sam gets closer to finding out why her death happened, who was responsible, and she discovers the true value of everything she is in danger of losing. My favorite character is Izzy Kingston, Sam’s little sister. She is so unaware of social life and doesn’t care what people think of her, I like that, and I wonder why we shed that as we get older. I can’t relate to many of the characters in this story, I can kinda relate to Kent, I’ve sat around and watched people I care about become complete strangers. I’ve watched people I was friends with turn their personality around and become friends with the mean girl.

In my opinion I really liked this book, it was a little predictable but it kept me  going. I wanted to know what would happen to her and all the characters even though I already knew. It was a very unique way of writing a book. I appreciated Lauren Oliver’s view on teenagers and how realistic it was, it had drugs and cheating, but it also had love and friendship. The friendship was what really stood out to me, it showed what it really was, you and your fight sometimes you hate them, but when something happens you see that they care. If I could change one thing, I would change the romance between Sam and Kent, so that it didn’t exist. I think it was sweet but it was so predictable, and I think that they should have become friends not in love. I do recommend this book, it has a nice balance of literature but it can keep a teenager who hates reading involved in the book, and they might enjoy it, and they might not, but at least they will read it and have a good perspective on it.

Creative Portion

For my creative portion I decided to do an Album. I chose five songs that would be perfect for five certain scenes. I used the songs in my itunes account so its limited.

Bruno Mars- The Other Side: I thought this song would be good for a credits scene. The starting line is “Truth is I’m complicated, You’re as straight as they come” I thought this perfectly described Sam and Kent. It also has a good beat and if it was used in movies as a credit song and if I heard it, I would dance!

Cher Lloyd- Oath: I think this song is perfectly describing the friendship of Lindsay and Sam. It could be used in a scene where the girls are in a yogurt shop arguing then when they make up they get into a huge yogurt fight, throwing yogurt and just having the best time. The song also has a nice upbeat tempo but also has a sort of childish ring to it, which I think perfectly describes the scene.  

Coldplay- Fix You: I think this song is perfect for the scene where she has her dream for the last time and when she figures that she had her eyes closed and opens them and finds that she she has been flying the chorus will burst in and will mention guiding you home, igniting bones, and trying to “Fix You” Its a slow song so when that scene does come on it should be in slow motion, but continuing the song she begins flying around and the song is really perfect because it talks about high up above or down below.

Demi Lovato- Catch Me: I think this song is great for when she’s staying in his house and they're just staring at each other, because the song says don’t catch me for most of the song which represents Sam being unsure and how “my stomach screams whenever I look at you” Sam always talks about how nervous she gets around Kent. I think it perfectly fits their love story and what soundtrack doesn’t have a love song.

Bruno Mars- Just The Way You Are: This song is perfect for when she and Izzy are exploring Sam’s old hideout and they’re lying on the rock just watching the clouds and Sam is wondering what Izzy will grow up to be. This song is like Sam singing to Izzy almost telling her not to change and not to end up like her, the mean girl who everyone is afraid of. Basically telling to hang on to her youth because it will be gone in a flash.

Q2 Benchmark (Black City)

The book I’m currently reading is Black City by Elizabeth Richards. The book was just released recently. It hit the shelves on November 15, 2012. The paperback copy will be available sometime in 2013. The book has been rated a 3.78 (which can be rounded to 4) out of 5 on goodreads.com. The author, Elizabeth Richards, is an award winning journalist. She spent her early years reviewing video games. She’s been to many parts of the world and back. She even has her own website up for teenage girls. The book Black City is her first ever novel. She also has another installment for Black City called Phoenix, the release date of this installment is still unconfirmed. Elizabeth is currently residing at Buckinghamshire, England.  
The story, to me, is a mix between Twilight and The Hunger Games. My reason behind this is because the story involves “vampires” and fighting. There are two races in the book. You have the Darklings and the Humans. Darklings are basically human like beings who suck blood from humans for their survival, without the blood they’d die. The story is told in a way I haven’t heard of, till now of course. Instead of having your regular stories where, if it was first person, the story is only told from one person’s point of view.   In this book, each chapter is told through different people’s points of view. For example, one chapter may be told in Ash’s (who is one of the main characters)  point of view and in the next chapter it may be told in Natalie’s (also a main character) point of view.
The story is basically about a high schooler named Ash falling in love with a girl named Natalie. One of the problems with this is that Ash is a half-blood, which is a mix between Darklings and Humans. The other problem is Natalie’s mother is in the government that prosecutes anyone that has any ties with the Darklings or half-bloods. If you were a human and you had a relationship with a Darkling or half-blood, you and the person would most likely be publicly executed. The government says this is to protect the people (humans) from the Darklings because they are horrible creatures. The government has also put a huge wall to separate the two races. Ash is able to live in human society since he is a half-blood and not a full Darkling. There are many other conflicts that occur throughout the story that I do not want to spoil for the future readers. What I will tell you is that the conflicts in the book are three types. The types of conflicts in the book are person vs. person, person vs. society, and person vs. self.
My favorite character in the story would be Ash. My reason behind this is that Ash is one of those “bad guys”. He doesn’t care about whatever he’s doing whether it’s illegal or not, but he also has a strong sense of family. He takes the little friends and family he has and cherishes them. He is very protective of those he admires. Ash is like me in some ways. The things he does in certain situations is the same thing I would’ve probably done. The way Ash and I think are similar in many ways.
Something I think readers should take away from this book is don’t let anything interfere with your love. You shouldn’t let anyone tell you who to love. It’s your life and your decision, don’t let something as small as race, color, or even looks change your mind. You’ve got be like Ash and Natalie in the book. Ash didn’t care if he was a half-blood and Natalie was a human. He still loved her, regardless of the consequences he would have to face if he was caught.
I can’t really relate to the characters in the story because the story is very different compared to the lives we live today. This book is set in a future-like environment and there are vampire-like beings. I haven’t had anything that restricted me to love a certain person as of yet. My family is pretty open, so they would be fine with me going out with any race. It’s very different compared to Ash and Natalie’s situation, where they are separated by beings.
In my opinion, I think this book is great! I tremendously enjoyed the book. I’ve never read anything of it’s kind. It is certainly a unique book, from its formatting to the actual plot, everything was amazing! Some strengths of the book is its deep plot. After every chapter, I had to keep reading. The book had me wrapped up so much that at one point I started reading the book at 5:00pm and didn’t finish till 11:00pm. A weakness of the book is the author’s ability to explain. What I mean by this is in the beginning of the book, the author began talking about the setting/environment and how the city worked. I didn’t quite understand it until I reread the chapter a few times. It’s a unique plot so I suppose it may be a little confusing at first since I’ve never encountered a book like this before. Something that I would change, if I could, would be the ending. The reason I would change the ending is because the author left me with a huge cliffhanger. A cliffhanger is basically a scene or event at the end of a book or show that keeps you wanting to know more, so you’d want to see the next book or show.

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who has a sense of adventure and wants to read something like never before. This book is absolutely stunning! I’d give this book a 5/5. There’s no way I’m not getting the next installment! This book gives you a new way to look at life. You can relate to some of the characters in the book since it shows the good and the bad. The book is a lot like reality in some ways. It’s not all a happy tale about love. You have many complications throughout the book which keep the readers wanting for more. If you ever get a chance, pick this book up.  

Creative Component: Ash’s I.D. Bracelet

In Black City, anyone who’s a Darkling or Half-Blood is required, by law, to wear an I.D. bracelet. This bracelet contains the name of the person, an ID number, the person they belong to, and where he/she lives. If you didn’t wear this bracelet the punishment would be death. Ash didn’t like the idea of wearing this and showing that he’d go with the governments idea and be their property, but for the sake of not causing his father anymore trouble, he wore it.
Photo on 1-8-13 at 9.36 AM #2
Photo on 1-8-13 at 9.36 AM #2
Photo on 1-8-13 at 9.36 AM #3
Photo on 1-8-13 at 9.36 AM #3
Photo on 1-8-13 at 9.36 AM
Photo on 1-8-13 at 9.36 AM

Q2 Benchmark ( The Skin I'm In by : Sharon G. Flake )

Brittany Cooper 01/08/13

Over the past two months I was given an assignment to read a independent reading book. In the beginning of the process I was struggling to find a book. My English 1 teacher Mrs. Dunn suggested that I read a book called “The Skin I’m In“ by Sharon G. Flake. Considering I don’t like to read she said this would be a adjustment for me.

 This book is about a girl name Maleeka Madison III. She attends McClenton Middle School, she in the seventh grade. This girl is verbally being bullied. As a child going through the stage of puberty being so that she is thirteen and in middle school. Children tend to be more sensitive to what others have to say. This character in the book was captured. I think there could have been more detail about her childhood life.

 A weakness in this book would be that there are thirty-two chapters. The chapters are only six or seven pages to each chapter. This could be both an advantage and disadvantage. A advantage because the shortens some of the book considering it has thirty-two chapters. The disadvantage is that the less pages some people what say the book could possible lack bits and pieces of each chapter.

This book is to prove that you can be something. You work form the bottom and make your way up. In the fifth grade black girl was being bullied by a white girl.  The white girl did not like her simply because she was smart and the teacher favored her. Throughout the black girl’s fifth grade year this girl would be called names & even would get in trouble with the because she would try to stop the another girl from messing with her. It got to the point where there had to be a parent teacher principal conference with that girl and her mother. She was then removed from the school. The girl who was being bullied had no more worries. Being verbally abused or bullied is serious. Known from experience , you should think before you say.

Overall I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I say this considering I do not like to read this was adjustment to me because at first the number of chapters scared me. But then as I began to read the book I adjusted to the amount of pages. I would recommend that middle schoolers such as seventh and eighth graders to read this book. To better insure their knowledge about bullying.

Starter For Ten Editorial+Poster

Starter For Ten 

In the book “Starter for Ten”, by David Nicholls, you read about a student in  college that has still to find him self. The students name Brian Jackson. He grew up in a small town in England with his mother. On his day of departure you see how close she wanted to be to him and he being a typical teenager wanted nothing to do with her. You meet his three best friends. The different part about them and Brian is that, he is going to University and they are not. The town they grew up in is not very rich and not many go to college (or University, as they call it through out the book). 

Once he got to University he felt slightly out of place seeing as the rest of the students came from high end families with much more experience and he was the top of his class but with lower standards. His room mates were aggressive athletes, the opposite of Brian. He distanced himself from them. Which isn’t entirely his fault seeing as he is different the rest of them, considering his background. Not saying he shouldn’t or didn’t try, but that was to come later. 

When he did decided to walk around campus he ended up in the commons where he saw the flyer for University challenge. It was like it had his name written on it. He had been watching the show for years. He had gotten really good at answering the questions in a timely and correct fashion.  That’s where the story begins. 

University Challenge is a real show in England. It is exactly what it is in the book, a variation on decathlon team on national television. The show has University students answering questions about different subjects in their own categories. It is show on BBC. 

I think the story is a rather quick read. I wouldn’t call it a teen novel, but more of a realistic fiction about a young man trying to find himself in a world full of places to fill. Though it is not completely realistic sometimes that little bit of fantasy is what we need to make a book more relatable. When he thinks he found his place he doesn’t hesitate to fill the possession. He finds his place in University Challenge. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a easy but fun read. It has every component, it has romance, conflict, and drama. This book would get a 4 out of 5 star rating from me. It has some parts that could have been better written, but that is to be expected with any writing that isn’t world renown. 

Author David Nicholls, born 30th of November, 1996 in Eastleigh, Hampshire is also the author of the novels The Understudy (2005)  and One Day (2009). He is also a Screenwriter and Theater play writer.  His screen plays included a nomination for a British Academy Television Craft Award, in the category Best New Writer (Fiction). He was most well known in England. Where at least Starter for Ten takes place there. 

This is a great book by an amazing writer and I suggest to almost anyone and everyone read it. It is a quick, upbeat, funny book, with a good story that I think everyone could enjoy. 

Q2 Benchmark English pdf.

By The Time you Read This I'll Be Dead Book Review

Relationships and words all lead up to a decision Daelyn Rice wanted to make. The choice between life or death rest in her hands. At a very young age these two choices circled throughout her mind everyday. In the book By the Time you Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters, a difficult decision is being made by a young girl because of bullying. My name is Milahn Shurelds and chose this book to read for an independent reading project.This book has received a couple of awards : ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination in 2011, ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adults Readers 2011, ALA Popular Paperback for YA: Sticks and Stones category, and Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best List 2010. 

Ten... The number that started it all. Bullying... A main theme. Decision... Some had to be made. Death... A longing. Life... A choice. www.through-the-light.com...A website used to countdown to the date of determination. In Daelyn Rices’ daily life these were everyday words. At the age of ten Daelyn began her first attempt of death. The number one reason being bullying.  With many attempts of death Daelyn Rice is hoping to get it right this time. She visits a website, www.through-the-light.com. After setting up an account she now has twenty-three days left until her Date of Determination(DOD). Death seems to be the only option but there is one thing that may change her mind, a boy. Santana is her only hope to live. Daelyn feels as though it’s too late to start letting people into her life. By the Time you Read This I’ll Be Dead is a book about bullying. Pushing people to the edge could result in death. Bullying is not good and it needs to be stop. 

My favorite character is Daelyn. You may be wondering why a girl who believes death is the only option is my favorite. She is my favorite because she is strong. She went through many years of bullying even though throughout those years she attempted many trials of death. She hid bullying from her parents for a long time. Taking on a big emotional issue was really hard. After reading this book you should get a sense of what it is like to be bullied. Take a leap and walk in the shoes of Daelyn Rice. Begin to fully understand what bullying is. Also what some people go through if you haven’t already gone through it yourself. 

Relating to this story was very challenging. I couldn’t seem to relate. Death isn’t in my vocabulary. I know someday it will come but I enjoy life. Life is something I treasure. I see life as a gift. A gift given to me to live to the fullest. Life is too short for unnecessary drama. I want to do all that I can do. I have never been bullied. I’m not sure what excludes me from the type of people picked on.  I think bullying is a sign of jealousy. I agree that bullying isn’t right and it needs to be stopped.

As you may or may not know I am not a big fan of reading. I DON’T like it. Reading this book was a challenge but once I was done I felt as though I had accomplished something. When I finished the book I didn’t find reading so bad. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was well written and the plot was interesting. This book took me into a whole new world. Even though the book was fiction I learned a lot. If I could change anything about the book I would have a variety of people going through the same thing as Daelyn. Have the book be from different point of views and situations.There weren’t many weaknesses to this book. The major weakness would be the transitions. Sometimes the transitions between past and present were confusing. 

I would recommend this book to people because it shows awareness to a very huge issue in a numerous amount of lives of kids these days. Julie Anne Roberts takes you on a journey that is powerful and important. I don’t recommend this book to people who aren’t in Daelyns’ situation. I say this because some of the content isn’t good for people who are deciding between life and death. Ways of death are given in the story. This story wasn’t written for people to get ideas of death, it was written to let people know the results of bullying. Also why bullying isn’t right and why it needs to stop. 

"Born at Midnight" Book Review

Born at Midnight is a teenage fantasy series by C.C. Hunter. It is on the first page of Barnes and Nobles best selling teen fiction page. This book is not planned on being made into a movie although a lot of fans think it should. On IMDb there is even a should be cast for the Movie that is not being made. The series consists of 5 book now but a 6th is planned to come out April 30th, 2013.

This book was pretty good considering I continued to read the next two books so far and I plan on reading the rest of the series as well. I feel like I really connected with the main character Kylie Galen with the exception of speaking to ghosts or being supernatural. I feel this way because in the book, it describes that Kylie and her friend Sara never really fit in with a specific group of people. I usually do the same thing and ‘float’ between groups of people. We also both seem to get overwhelmed fairly easily and we are always trying to please and help other people which sometimes make us even more overwhelmed. Kylie has felt things in her life to be inconceivable and scary, as have I; for Kylie believing in supernatural beings and me believing that there are malicious people in the world that can and will hurt anyone or anything. Especially when my neighbors house was robbed. 

This book was good but it did have a flaw or two. Some strengths in this book are that it has good story quality and how it is fairly easy to depict the characters. Also, that the storyline has twists and turns when you need there to be so it rarely gets that boring and keeps you sucked in. A weakness this book has is that it is a little bit choppy so it shifts a little bit more often than I would have wanted it to. It also chops out some of the details that you would want to know more about but other than that. As a result of that, one thing I would do to change this book is put more detail in some sections and I think that would help people understand the book, characters and events even more which would make Born at Midnight even better.

In the end, I felt Born at Midnight was a really good book and has been a great series. I am also looking forward to reading the rest of the series and I do wish that it would come out as a movie. I hope you decide to read this book and like it as much as I did or even more.

Here is a shortened book review video to accompany my written book review.

The Mark of Athena book review

The Mark of Athena is the third installment in the Heroes of Olympus series written by Rick Riordan. The Heroes of a Olympus is a continuation of Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. It takes place about six months after the final Titan War in The Last Olympian, book five of Percy Jackson. Rick was an english teacher who started Percy as a bedtime story for his dyslexic child. Percy and all the demigods are dyslexic and have a form of ADHD, making the story some-what realistic and relatable - a fictional world to escape to. 

To understand the concepts of The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune and The Mark of Athena (the books in The Heroes of Olympus series) it is almost imperative to read the Percy Jackson books. The series is about children who are half mortal and half god: a demigod. Any god or goddess has the ability to create offspring with a human. The godly parent does contribute some traits that goes towards the child’s physical features; however, there is much more unseen, such as special talents and powers. Poseidon, the Greek god of the seas, is Percy’s father; therefore, Percy has black hair and blue eyes - traits he shares with his father. Percy also can breathe under water along with controlling it. Each child has specific abilities depending on their godly parent.

In The Mark of Athena, the seven children of the prophecy, both Greek and Roman, must unite to stop Gaea from not only destroying Olympus, but also the world. The demigods embark on a journey that starts in the western United States and ends in Rome. The purpose of going to Rome is to save the Athena Parthenos which will aid the seven in uniting the Roman and Greek gods and demigods. The four separate worlds must work together to save the world from Gaea destroying it. The only people who are allowed to find the Athena Parthenos are children of Athena. Athena chooses a few of her daughters or sons at a time to find the statue but they always went missing. 

The children of the prophecy are either Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter. Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon; Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena; Piper McLean, daughter of Aphrodite; and Leo Valdez, son of Hephaestus, are all from the Greek Camp Half-Blood. Jason Grace, son of Jupiter; Hazel Levesque, daughter of Pluto; and Frank Zhang, son of Mars, are from the Roman Camp Jupiter. My favorite character in the book is Percy. Percy can breathe underwater, but he has a fear of suffocation. This shows that no matter how strong you are, you have a weakness and Percy knows about his weakness and he accepts it. Percy’s fatal flaw is personal loyalty, which means he would sacrifice the world to save the people close to him. Percy Jackson is a character I can relate to, which is another realistic aspect of Riordan’s books. 

This is a great, well-written book and Riordan’s writing abilities have matured. I have read all the books Riordan has written and you can tell he has improved. The Mark of Athena has an interesting plot and sub-plots which keeps the book structured. I enjoy reading the book from different character’s points of view as well. Reading from the different view points allows you to look deeper into a character’s personality and you’re even able to view their weaknesses and what keeps them grounded. I felt there is some holes in the book when switching between the points of view, but they are subtle. If I had the ability, I don’t think I would change anything in this book. I love Rick Riordan’s book and I look forward to the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades. 

Ultimately, I would recommend this book to other people. I started reading Percy Jackson in fourth grade and I loved Greek Mythology, so this book was great for me. However, you don’t have to have a love of mythology to read these books. The Mark of Athena is adventurous, suspenseful, and humorous. The plot lines and character interactions are great and well established which makes this book a great read. You don’t need a knowledge of mythology to enjoy this book. You can even learn a lot of mythology from just these books! 


For the creative portion:

I decided to create a canvas painting on the seven children of the prophecy. Because the main reason of the Mark of Athena is to unite all four worlds - demigod, god, Roman and Greek - I decided to unite them in my painting. I painted each character and their parent in a person-shaped totem. Here is a description of each totem, left to right, and why it is symbolized that way:


The Greeks

  • Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, and her daughter Piper. Pink and a dove are some of the things associated with the goddess Aphrodite. 
  • Hephaestus, the god of metalworking, masonry and fire, and his son Leo. I used the hues of fire and a tool to depict the two.
  • Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle strategy, and her daughter Annabeth. I used the three items found on the Mark of Athena coin which is what Athena gave to Annabeth.
  • Poseidon, the god of the sea and earthquakes, and his son Percy. I used the hues of the ocean, waves and a triton, which are all things associated with Percy and Poseidon. 

The Romans

  • Jupiter, the of the sky and thunder, and his son Jason. I used thunderclouds and thunderbolts to symbolize them.
  • Pluto, the ruler of the underworld and god of precious metals and gems, and his daughter Hazel. Because Hazel has the talent to sense precious metals and summon them, I used them on their totem along with a skull to symbolize death.
  • Mars, the god of war, and his son Frank. I used weapons to symbolize the two, especially the bow and arrow because that is what Frank is trained to use. 

I painted the background as green and brown tones because they represent Gaea, their main foe. What I wrote on the canvas says “Greek & Roman, demigod & god... must unite.”

The Orchard by Theresa Weirs

Theresa Weir, the author of The Orchard, begins her novel with a local legend from her town, Illinois. This book was a 2011 Oprah Magazine Fall Pick, Number Two on the Indie Next list, a featured in a B+ review in Entertainment Weekly, and was presented Librarians’ Best Books of 2011. The novel follows the life of a woman named Theresa that lives with her uncle in a bar because her parents were out of her life early on. She works at the bar, and one day chances to meet a man named Adrian Curtis with a supposedly cursed farm. The two talk and eventually get married at the local courthouse, and begin a new life on the farm. No one except the couple agree with the marriage, which poses a problem along the course of the story.

I believe my favorite character would have to be Adrian Curtis, because he can be very unpredictable, and you can’t really understand what he’s thinking throughout the book. It gives the text a lot of suspense and makes the reader feel like somewhat of a sleuth. I think an important thing that you could take from the book would be that even if Theresa made a risky decision to marry someone she didn’t necessarily know, if you follow your heart, you’ll know the way. She made uncertain choices throughout her life, and it’s what crafted her lifestyle and who she is.

Relating to the characters is a fairly easy task. I believe that I am most like Theresa, because sometimes I don’t think very much about the things I decide to do. She didn’t really think about what it would mean to be married to someone she hardly knew that is bound to a farm for their entire life to carry the family tradition.

I definitely thouroughly enjoyed the book, and I think that it was great how every other chapter explained a memory she had from when she was little, and then somehow connected it to the next chapter of the present. I don’t think I would change anything, especially because the author has their own style of writing, and I wouldn’t want to damage the great balance it has.

I would recommend this book to a more mature audience, because there are some scenes that contain some parts that a younger audience wouldn’t understand, or wouldn’t be able to handle. 

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Lord Of The Flies Book Review and Movie Teaser

Serge Mass

The book “Lord Of The Flies” by William Golding is by far one of the best books I have read in a while. Its it in the top 100 books in the American Library Association’s top read books. William Golding is a Noble Prize winner which is an extraordinary thing. Lord Of The Flies is his first book, but rated by far the best by numerous sources. There was a movie made, but I have not watched it and I am hoping to over the next few days.

The story is mainly about a bunch of kids stranded on an island. Now you’re thinking right now, “hey it’s going to end up like every other story ”, but you are wrong. The main characters are Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Rodger, Sam, and Eric. The group gets divided early on into the story. Ralph and Piggy are on one side and the rest on the other. They become crazy about a conch shell. The conch was the only way to communicate throughout the island and being that; it was essential to have. Later into the story the shell gets destroyed. From there on the story opens out to a huge fiasco. Blood is in the water and tears are shed.......

This book has some great ideas and lessons to learn. The most important one is do not burn bridges. Burning bridges means when you have had enough, you snap and go off on someone and when you come back for something because you need help; they don’t help you. In the book, the same kind of thing happens. It a helpful lesson to use in life when changing jobs because everyone is connected and some how knows each other. 

I can in a way relate to the story, but my situation wasn’t as serious of course. When I was in 4th grade I went to an Ice Hockey and Ice Skating camp and we had an over-night lock-in. Which means we sleep in the Ice rink over night. It was a ton of fun and we played ultimate man hunt/capture the flag on and off ice. We were playing for who gets first dibs on the pizza. It was the best game I have ever played.

In my opinion I think this is the best book I have ever written. The way the author builds the suspense in the book is very creative. Through out the book, the author sprinkles in a little bit of action here and there. At the end of the book it is very thrilling and leaves you thinking what will happen next. Then is ends very abruptly. That is the only thing I don’t like. I think it should of finished with more of a defined ending.

I would recommend this book to anyone that like thrilling books. It has a great mix of action and adventure. It a great easy read and more of a teen/adult book. It has a great undefined genre so anyone could like it. I walked into the book thinking it would be bad, but it turned out to be the best book I have read. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a thriller of a book.


Book review on MAUS

MAUS by Art Spiegelman is a  interesting and a sad book about how a Jewish family
tried to survive the Holocaust from the beginning to the end. Its a true story, a graphic novel and
a winner of the Pulitzer  prize.MAUS its based on a true story of Vladek Spiegelman who is the father of Artie Spiegelman was being interviewed at his house or outside his living area, this story was acted in animals types for example the Jews were mice, the Natzis were cats and the
pigs were Christians or Catholics and dogs were Atheist or characters that weren’t important or that they only had a few comments to say. This story was told was told by Vladek Spiegelman through the eyes of mice.

MAUS is about a Vladek Spiegelman and he tells his live to his son Artie Spiegelman

which is trying to make a book about the holocaust, this book talks about how Vladek Spiegelman lives and how his life was before, during and after the holocaust, Vladek Spiegelman  life takes  place in poland were Vladek is married to Anja and together over the time they saw what the nazis were doing to poland day by day, their life and family was
being destroyed little by little every week, every week the nazis were taking over poland and killing more jewish people so that made them horrified so they had to move from where they actually lived to other houses and so on, their family also was  being broken apart because the nazis would shoot them if they tried to ran away or if they got caught selling something’s  that  they  weren’t allowed to like sugar or bread, and most of the times they would either be  send to the camps or they would get sent to the ovens, Vladek and his family were losing money and their house were the rest of the family was living in which it was about 10 to 13 people until vladek and Anja got capture by the Nazis and then sent to the camps but their families didn’t  make it alive because they died trying  to survive or they got sent straight to the gas chambers, Vladek and Anja after they got capture they were sent to different camps
but Vladek managed to talk to Anja by sending her letters trough a lady friends with Vladek and Anja, almost by the end of the year the americans fought the nazis allowing Vladek and Anja free to run off to the city, but Vladek went with the other jews that were in the camp then they went to
the ran into this farms were the americans were in and they helped Vladek and the others to get back home, then Vladek went to get Anja at their seconds dads house who died in the ovens , later on Anja  died because she wasn’t strong enough after the camps.
This book is not related to me at all because this situation where they are is not cant
really connect with me because they got captured by nazis but if i was them i would
choose the same things they did to survive because its basically a guide in how to
survive in a nazi attack.but if i was in this situation i would need to do what Vladek did in this situations, like knowing lots of people that you could trust paying off guards also knowing about how to fix shoes because Vladek need it to fix a guards shoes and when he did that he had a less chance of getting killed also knowing the surroundings of the cities. i think this book was really good on how they showed and tell
what was going on in their life’s and how they reacted to this problems and also the outcome
of this situation. I really liked this book because of the intensity of how the story was told and
what was going on, the only weakness of the it would to explain the types of characters like the
dogs and pigs and something that i would change would be the types of animals and what religion were they  

Book Article: 1984

When I first opened the time capsule that apparently was buried in ‘1948’ I thought, what this might be, I turned to this first page and was immediately intrigued.  I wondered, ‘What could this ‘George Orwell’ person be talking about, then I read the first chapter and instantly thought that this man’s prediction is more prevalent this day and age (Year 2048), rather than 100 years ago. It appears as if he was curious about the Soviet Union, and their society, since that were a dictatorship. The book took place in London of 1984, the character “Winston” worked for the government, he had terrible life that was controlled by ‘Big Brother’ he was not allowed to love anyone, have close friends, or even think. The government had a thought police that would come and make you work on a camp if you appeared to be becoming curious as to why the government wanted control over its citizens, and any other thoughts that the government would find as a threat. In the novel Winston meets a woman named Julia. She likes having sex and has had many affairs with men high in the government. One day Julia slips Winston a note that says “I Love You” on it. Since Winston has already been infatuated with her, this immediately blows him away! They then begin to have an affair in the wilderness so that the government will not catch them, because this would result in death. They soon then meet with another man that Winston was interested with, O’Brien, they meet and he convinces Winston to that he is a rebel just like him and Julia. He gives him a book that O’Brien says “All rebels should read”, he takes it and reads it. Since “Big Brother” is always watching they catch Winston and take him and Julia to be tortured, they get everything that they can out of Julia. In the last few moments of torture Winston encounters, they then make him endure his worst fear which is rats. The government’s torturers threaten that they will let the rats eat through his face. Winston then tells them to do it to Julia, the government, identifying this betrayal, then let’s them go, but, prior to doing so they O’Brien explained to Winston why the government is the way it is, and why rebels like Winston and Julia are a threat, a now terrified and brain-washed Winston now believes whatever the government tells him and when released him and Julia are separated, they see each other, but Julia goes the other way, and Winston just sits in a café watching government news and smiling. 

This novel is very prevalent today because it discusses other aspects of George Orwell’s prediction, it has discusses how they government destroyed all of the original documents and replaced them so that the citizens of London at that time would not know the truth. It also discusses how the movies will be filled with sex and not based off of classic literature, which is true due. Both of these points are true, I believe that our government has altered documents and made us believe that they are true, and it appears that every film that is nominated for an Academy Award has some type of sex scene, but to me, the most prevalent point made was discussed throughout the novel, and that is “Big Brother is always watching” , that is very prevalent today because now I believe that Big Brother has video cameras in our computers watching us as we type and look through our screens. Overall, I just pray that we don’t have a ‘Thought Police’ or forced into a Totalitarian Society as drastic as that the one described in the novel. 


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 the 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.


Tiarra Bell book review on The Unburied


   The Unburied 

  The Unburied is a stunning ordeal about mystery, a series of unfortunate events and a continuos string of twisted murders dating back form the mid 1600’s to now. The Unburied is a fictional book written by Charles Palliser in the 1990’s, the book truly brought to life a high level of the early 19th century society of literature. The book is not like any other english mystery book with dual and bland dialogue but it draws readers into it with its suspense and  it’s “Historical Murder Mystery of the Highest Order”.


Dr. Edward Courtine is a historian from Cambridge University, who reunites with his long lost friend from over 20 years, Austin Fickling who is a teacher at a school in the cathedral city of Thurchester. Dr, Courtine is invited to spend a week at Austin’s house in the cathedral city of Thurchester. While Courtine is in town he hopes to find an ancient manuscript that's most likely in the cathedral’s library the may help shine the light on King’s Alfred the Great’s reign that he has been studying. 

The night of Dr. Courtine’s arrival, Austin tells him a story of mystery murder that happen 200 years before. In this murder story a high ranking official of the cathedral named Willoughby Buruoyne who was crushed to death by a heavy marble slab. It was used to repair the spire in the tower in the cathedral on a dark and stormy night. It was conceived to be no accident because he treated to reveal a deep dark secret about the Mason of the cathedral. Also right after his death the Mason, Gambrill was never seen again. Dr. Courtine became so fluctuated  by the story that he begin to investigate that murder, but all while doing this he becomes involved with another murder in his own era and Austin’s true reasons for inviting him to Thurchester. 

My favorite character is Dr. Courtine because he is the one that shines the light on the deeply dysfunctional town. He is certainly not from or even lives in Thurchester but he surely know more about how the people operate then the people themselves. When readers read this book I want them to take and apply the moral lesson of the entire book that: there is more that meets the eye so seek and you will find. When Dr.Courtine was invited to reunited will his friend Austin, he just thought that it was going to be just two old friends catching up in life. However it was totally the opposite when Courtine figure out his devious plans for inviting him there in the first place. 

If I were to relate to any of the characters in the the story, it would most likely be Dr. Courtine because just like him nothing grabs my attention like a good murder mystery. Courtine has special traits about him that show what a true man he is. He is a man of determination, persists, and never failing man to achieve justice no matter who gets harmed. I believe i’m some sort of a image of him because we both have unwilling persists never to gave up even if all the walls are crashing down on us and when then whole world has turned against us. We continue to strive for what is right and equal for all even if the ones we love are the most dramatically affected because they have did have indulged in wrongfulness, not want to give it up but to continue to live a life of sin.

In my opinion, the Unburied was superb book fulfilling all my reading interest, nevertheless it still had some parts in it that baffled me. Half of the time when Dr.Courtine came up will a new idea or theory, he would tell me that he formed one but he wouldn’t tell me what exactly it was. Also he would miss the key parts of figuring out the murders by simply ignoring the basic things when they were truly the most crucial key elements. If I were to change this book in any way possible I would make Courtine play attention to the basic things like I just described.   

The Unburied was a great book, I truly recommend to all who love suspense, murder, and mystery. It makes you feel as if you were in the book yourself because it’s so engaging, having your attention 100% of the time. It’s a continuos cycle of never ending events having new shocking phenomenons appear out of the wood works. So one day if you want to step away from those tedious books that has one boring a occurrence and come read a real book that’s very atmospheric with an abundance of bone chilling elements, read The Unburied.

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

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.

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.

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.