"A Stolen Life" - Jaycee Dugard

  “For eighteen years I was a prisoner.” Jaycee Dugard unravels her real experience on pages as she spills the words of her traumatizing kidnapping. Today, Jaycee, 34, has published a book, done many interviews, and reiterates her description from the 18 years she has spent in a backyard as a slave. Her book, “A Stolen Life,” written by herself has hit the No. 1 bestseller spot on Amazon and sold 175,000 copies on the release date. 

  On June 10th, 1991, the unthinkable happened to Jaycee Lee Dugard. The eleven year old was walking to school before coming to the realization that a car had stopped right along side her on the road. Soon before she knew it, Jaycee has been abducted. Convicted sex-offender Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy snatched her on the side of the road and held her captive for 18 years of her life, stopping her from experiencing her preteens and adolescents years, stopping her from going to prom, and keeping her from her loved ones for years. 

Although this novel is graphic and detailed, it tells of a taboo incident that nobody would ever have dreamt of actually happening. In all honesty, it was hard for me to read at first because I was in shock that this event occurred. After a while, I chose to continue to read it because I was curious as to what happened and how she survived. Even though most of the book is repetitive, it was extremely well written. She was very straight forward with her points and feelings. She would not sugar coat anything. The sequence of the book was not in chronological order because she jumps from one part of the experience to another. In the beginning, she narrates about her first encounter with Phillip. Honestly, I wanted to stop and put down the book as fast as I read that a forty year old man kidnapped and sexually assaulted an eleven year old. It makes me feel violated, nervous, and cautious about my surroundings from now and so forth. Although this event wasn’t necessarily preventable, it made a huge impact on my life. I took away several different methods of life that I should always cherish and no longer take advantage of. While her basic human rights and freedom were striped right from under her, I am grateful for the life I have now. 

  The book is written and structured like a memoir. Jaycee is telling her story based on memories and old journals. At the end of each chapter, there’s always a reflection page summarizing and explaining her thoughts and feelings on what happened during an incident that she told in the previous chapter. I feel like the reflection page is really helpful because it helps me understand what she was trying to say, elaborate how she felt, her inner thoughts etcetera. 

  She decided to write the book because she didn’t want to “protect” her abuser anymore. She felt like she had preserved his identity enough throughout the years and writing the book publicizes the incidences that occurred while held captive. In her opinion, she felt like she could help others who are facing with difficult situations, showing them that it will be better. I also think that she wrote the book because throughout the 18 years she’s been imprisoned, she couldn’t really express her true feelings to anybody. Now, she finally has the chance to let thousands of people know what went on in the Garrido’s backyard. 

  I wouldn’t say there’s an obvious theme of the novel because it’s to every independent person’s opinion. But what I get from it, is that through any tragedy there will always be a brighter side. During her interview with Diane Sawyer, she mentions a lot about hope and how she nor her mother lost any hope during her disappearance. “There is life after something tragic” - Jaycee on Oprah. This is an amazing quote coming from someone who went through the toughest situation and still seems to put a smile on her face. Even though, her story’s immensely horrifying, Jaycee Lee Dugard is a survivor.

In my opinion, overall the book was interesting and eye catching. First page you read instantly grabs you in and makes you want to read more. But this was by far the hardest book I’ve ever had to read because of the subject of the matter.  I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in real life events. I wouldn’t highly recommend this book to a fellow high-school student because it’s such a mortifying and graphic story.  It just depends on the certain comfort level you have with sensitive topics. 

"a stolen life" by Jaycee Dugard 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Published: 2011 
Pages: 273 
Genre: Memoir 

Creative Project: 
This collage of what seems to be random things, symbolizes some of the many things that occurred in the time she was kidnapped.
Pine cones: In the book, she says that it was the last thing she had grasped onto before getting taken by the Garridos.
The two hands represent her two daughters.
Why her name is in big fonts is because during the entire 18 years, she was not allowed to say her name. Once she broke free, I interpreted it on the canvas like she's the main subject. Her name just had to be known and visible. 
The tv represents the little small television that Phillip gave her in the beginning of her kidnap where she only watched infomercials.
During her kidnap, Phillip gave her 3 kittens the ball of yarn and the cat on the side represents that.
The wawa symbol represents the fast food he fed her every single day.
The little butterfly charm on the side was the only thing she had left from her childhood. Before she got abducted, she was wearing a butterfly ring.   

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A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls Book Review



A monster calls a novel written by Patrick Ness,  a british american journalist who is best known for his young adult novels and was also inspired by the idea of Siobhan Dowd who was a British writer and activist, is a dark funny and very heartwarming story about a young british kid named Connor who is thirteen years old and lives with his very ill mother who is suffering from cancer over the time he’s meet by this yew tree monster and surprisingly he’s not scared when the story unfolds.


This amazing book is a horror and comedic story about a Kid named Connor who lives in Britain with his ill mother that is suffering from cancer, one day Connor wakes up at 12:07 a random night  and peeks out the window after realizing someone or something was calling his name several times, after looking out the window he knew a monster was calling his name but after seeing the monster face to face he was not scared in fact Connor was very disappointed, over time Connor keeps waking up every other night at 12:07 to the monster who has three stories to tell him and the last story needs to be told by Connor which needs to be the truth or the monster will eat him. over the time Connors mom keeps getting worse and worse and the monster tells each story until one day is Connor’s turn. The monster begins to pressure Connor to tell the truth about how he is scared of losing his mom and in the end Connor does so.


Certain things I enjoyed about this book was the language, because the characters had a very particular accent mainly because they were from britain but Patrick Ness showed us the difference between an American accent and a British accent  when Connor and his dad who is American were having a conversation. Some areas where the book exceeded expectations were the story structure because it was very linear and understandable which I really loved but in other parts during the story structure it falls short is at the very beginning when Connor meets the monster he randomly wakes up so it sometimes throws you of the course of the story making you think where the character is and what period of time is he. I loved how the book was well illustrated with the story to give it a better suspense effect by showing the reader what exactly is happening to the characters in the book, sort of a way that makes the reader feel what is happening to what each individual character is feeling during ceteain situations.One of my favorite part of the book was when the yew tree was telling the first story so the monster could teach Connor a life lesson. My least favorite part was when Connor at the beginning was eaten and the story lost a course for a few lines.


My favorite character to this very well structured book would be the pit monster or as we know it the yew tree, not because he’s very mysterious and terrifying besides the fact that he’s always waiting for connor outside his window but because he had some really important life lessons during the course of Connors moms death. “There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”  this quote was told by the yew tree and it was really interesting because if this quote is implemented in life it can speak the truth by this I mean that in real life some people are accused of  doing this that they didn’t do and they suffer from it so that’s why I chose the yew tree because he’s very philosophical and deep inside he’s not a “monster”. A character that I very much disliked was Lily Connor’s former best friend. The reason why I dislike her is because she told everyone at school that Connor’s mom had cancer and this was a very meaningful secret that Connor told Lilly and he did not want anyone to know, besides that Lilly quiet did not understand what Connor was going through and basically Lilly was acting as if everything was perfect while Connor was digging himself in a deeper hole of depression and loneliness.


If I could relate to one of the characters  it would need to be Connor because in the end

Connor is like all of us, strong mentally and emotionally whenever life throws a curveball at us.

And if I felt some of the things that Connor did feel was definitely depression and loneliness for other reasons but after a while as a person you need to realize that things get better when you accept the fact of the situations you happened to be put in.


In conclusion I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys horror and fiction

and someone who is okay and willing to have a laugh and a cry all at the same time while reading this book. And an specific type of person who would like to read this book would be anyone who loves horror in general.

A monster calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Illustration: Siobhan Dowd

published by Walker Books , May 5th 2011


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2014-11-04 22.03.21

The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings


Author of twenty books and recipient of the Bollingen Prize for Poetry (an award given biennially to one poet), Edward Estlin Cummings lives on through some of the best writing the world has ever seen. When Cummings died in 1962, the only poet more widely read in the United States was Robert Frost. However, today Cummings’ name does not instigate the reaction it deserves. He is only known for his unusual syntax in poetry- rarely do readers explore his expository writing.

E. E. Cummings was born in 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. By 1916, he had received his B.A. and M.A. from Harvard University. The following year, Cummings volunteered for the Ambulance Corps in France during World War I. His term was cut short when the French government suspected him of treason and imprisoned him in La Ferté-Macé, Orne, Normandy for several months.

In 1922, he published The Enormous Room - an autobiographical account of his short prison sentence. The book offers the reader an interesting glimpse into the mind and life of young Cummings. In the beginning, his accounts of life and people in the Ambulance Corps can simply be described as juvenilely cynical. He pokes fun at prejudiced guards and rude Frenchman by giving them nicknames and illustrating their comical appearances in mocking detail. Some may see this as witty and comical while other readers are left with unfulfilled expectations of more philosophical and melodramatic writing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               In the beginning, this style of writing is mildly disconcerting. However, as the story progresses, he establishes a unique rhythm to the book. The chapters are sorted by significant events, or, more commonly, by significant people. Cummings’ effort to encapsulate the nature of his fellow inmates creates an unparalleled feeling of familiarity with characters. For example, when he first arrives at the prison, he observes the effects of the call for dinner on the men:

The transformation produced by the planton’s shout was not merely amazing; it was uncanny, and not a little thrilling. These eyes bubbling with lust, obscene grins sprouting from contorted lips, bodies unclenching and clenching in unctuous gestures of complete savagery, convinced me by a certain insane beauty… I felt that the last vestige of individualism was about to utterly disappear, wholly abolished in a garnboling and wallowing throb.

Cummings’ pacific attitude towards his imprisonment is apparent throughout the whole book. Through heart-warming or pitiful accounts of his friends’ lives, he demonstrates both his and their value for optimism in spite of the adversity they face. His unmatched strength in delivering such a personal perspective is admirable. He does not care much for government and politics; his main concern is the people and places he sees. He writes, “O gouvernement Francais, I think it was not very clever of You to put this terrible doll in La Ferte; for when Governments are found dead there is always a little doll on top of them, pulling and tweaking with his little hands to get back at the microscopic knife which sticks firmly in the quiet meat of their hearts.” Yet he is both poetic and affirmative when he communicates these thoughts.

He by no means disregards the unjustness of his situation, (every now and then he makes snide observations about the politics of his situation) but through direct comments to his readers and notes to the friends he met in France the reader will immediately understand Cummings’ takeaway from his prison sentence. The Enormous Room delivers the message that even in a place of distress and misfortune, one can always find room for personal growth and meaningful friendships.

Numerous critical readers would suggest that many of his poems have unique perspective and depth that this memoir seriously lacks. This belief does not give Cummings the respect he deserves. Lost among his world famous poetry, this early work from Cummings is valuable for many reasons. It is important for readers to keep in mind that at age the age of 28 he is writing about an experience from when he was 22. His style of writing consistently features odd word usage and strange syntax. Such a prose gives the feeling that only Cummings will ever truly understand what he meant.

Readers seeking a true story with meaningful relationships between key characters will find The Enormous Room immensely satisfying. Furthermore, readers looking to diverge from the structure and prose of typical novels will love Cummings’ distinctive use of literary devices and creative ambition in this book. The Enormous Room teaches about people from all around the world with all kinds of economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds growing and developing despite horrendous living conditions.


The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings. Published by Dover Publications in 1922. 208 pages. Autobiographical.





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Q1 BM 4

This is a quote from The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings that offers a great glimpse into the literary beauty that is Cummings’ prose. The unique painting of E. E. Cummings as a young man was made by John Bedford. This piece as a whole is an artistic way to share the depth and intimate writing style found in The Enormous Room.


Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Book Review)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth is the third installation in the best selling series, Divergent. This science fiction trilogy, which is Roth’s debut series, takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, a world where the whole population is sorted into factions. These factions are determined by individual personality traits such as honesty, courage, intellect, tranquility, and selflessness. These factions control the lives of their members and determine their careers, their priorities, and even their futures. Even though the idea of being defined by a single trait may seem odd, it is surprisingly natural to the characters within this society - that is, all except for Tris Prior.  Beatrice Prior comes from the selfless sector of the city, which is called Abnegation. The Abnegation, because of their selfless nature, are given the role of political leaders. While the faction system has worked for generations, there is conflict bubbling to the surface, and this conflict is the focus of this third part of the trilogy.

In the first two books of the series the stage is set and the revolution begun. What could have sparked this revolution against Abnegation?  Could it have been a single incident or has it been brewing for ages? Just when the Abnegation are about to reveal something that has been kept hidden for generations, they are attacked. There is something that is important enough to risk hundreds of lives, something that the Erudite would go to great lengths to bury. There are many riots and revolts which make Tris risk her life over and over again. Their society moves from one tyrant to the next, and the bloodshed is enough to make Tris question whether things will ever get better and if there is a world beyond the fence. 

What this series does a great job of speaking to is the slow unveiling of the politics and struggle for power between the factions.  Sometimes it is a challenge for Tris and her cohorts to piece together the real state of affairs. There are some who seem content with the status quo and others who are decidedly not. There are some who directly rebel against the faction system and some who are overwhelmed with its absence. What Allegiant continues to build on is the idea of what measures a functioning society will go to in order to avoid tyranny. It shows how precarious such a system of government is, because one revolt can change every aspect of their society and send them spiraling into chaos. Of utmost importance is the question how involved should government be in the lives of its citizens. This series takes that question to the extreme. The government monitors citizens’ thoughts and brainwashes the society as a whole so that in times of war and violence they cannot think for themselves. Even if this was meant to benefit the society, this would be a travesty of justice because it is still manipulation. Which leaves Tris to conclude that the current government is based on flawed morality.


Allegiant raises questions that force Tris to discover her role in society. These questions, likewise, make the reader consider how they would respond to a similar situation.  Veronica Roth wrote the first of these books during her senior year of college at Northwestern University, which explains her attachment to the city of Chicago. The writing is engaging and transports the reader into the society she has created. If you were to be defined by a single characteristic, what would it be? The questions and complications that Tris faces in each book build new levels of complexity. You can see how she and all of the secondary characters slowly evolve over time. It makes the reader think about the world through a different lens and analyze their own being in a way that they didn’t before.  The writing style is simple and not overly descriptive or complex. Instead it is more focused on the plot that is fast-paced and packed with action. All three books of the series are written in the first person, but, unlike the first two, Allegiant alternates between the two main narrators. The plot is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. This makes the book an overall easy read.  It also makes the reader connect with the characters and feel motivated to continue to the next book.


I would recommend Allegiant and the Divergent trilogy as a whole to anyone who is willing to embrace becoming part of this chaotic world and follow the daring protagonist in her efforts to correct the injustices in her society and the outside world. These books will not suit everyone, however, because of some particularly tragic plot twists, but if you can stomach them, the experience will be highly rewarding. This series is the epitome of a dystopian novel. If you have read post-apocalyptic novels and enjoyed them, this series will reward you with hours of excitement.




Title: Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Date of Publication: 2013

Number of Pages: 526

Genre: Science Fiction



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Book Review: "The Beast Within"

Lauren Thomas

The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince Book Review

Once, when he was still - dare he think it! - human, he spent much of his time out of doors, stalking wild beasts in his forests for sport. But when he himself turned into something to be hunted, he shut himself away in the those first years, never leaving the West Wing, let alone the castle.

- The Beast Within, pg. 3


There are many fairy tales and many of them have been retold in one way or another. Some of the most prominent fairy tales are the ones that Disney creates, which, technically, are still based off other fairy tales and myths. In 2009 Serena Valentino wrote Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen. This is the first book of the soon-to-be three that focus on Disney fairy tales and the antagonist’s story; what happens before the protagonist steps in and the film takes place. Valentino’s most recent book is titled The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince. It was published in 2014. Valentino has also announced that she has finished writing her next Disney-themed novel which will revolve around Ursula.

The story of Beauty and the Beast is a well known one. Prince Adam, referred to as the Prince, is cursed and destined to be a hideous monster, a beast, for the rest of his unless he could be loved and love someone in return before his twenty-first birthday. The Prince was a greedy young man who only cared about his reflection and reputation. The Beast Within explores the overall idea of identity, what it means to be human and have what it means to have humanity. By definition, humanity is the fact or condition of being human. Beauty and the Beast is often referred to as having the major ideas and themes of love and the “not judging a book by its cover” metaphorical phrase. However, it dives deep into what it means to be human. The Prince is selfish, arrogant, and conceited, which are all lousy characteristics, to be honest. To be human you have to have certain traits or emotions. Emotions are what make us, without them, we’d be robots. The Beast Within tells you and lets you understand exactly why the Prince deserved his curse: he needed to find his humanity. It may be odd to think that you must become a beast to become human, but that’s what makes it most important and needed. If you put the most important thing, being human, at risk, then there’s a chance you will fight for your true self again.

The Beast Within is intended for ages ten to fourteen. I am above this age. When reading books age limits can be important; however, if the plot is intriguing then it shouldn’t matter if you’re reading a book intended for an eighth grader. In Valentino’s book the writing it simplistic and easy to read. The language she used is understandable, but the storytelling is unique and enthralling. The way Valentino keeps the original Beauty and the Beast Disney film tied in is perfect and carries the tempo and themes of the book well. The book opens with what we already know, that the Prince is a beast. The audience knows this and it’s an easy way to connect to the knowledge of the reader to the text on the page. The book then, from there, jumps to the beginning, leading up to the first passage that was read. This book doesn’t necessarily lift any hair-raising questions or provokes deep thoughts, but if you look hard enough perhaps you can find something. This book isn’t aimed towards educating or asking questions, it’s more geared towards storytelling and how important prequels could be. The Beast Within could be considered a small or tiny book, but it’s well worth it, especially if you’re a Disney fan. Valentino’s book did have some shortfalls, however. The book could be longer or go more in depth, but it is understandable as to why this could be difficult (you don’t want to mess with the fragile skeleton that was provided by the film).

This book was very enjoyable because I am a great Disney fan. I read Valentino’s Fairest of All, which was about the Evil Queen from Snow White, and loved it immensely. These types of books add to the experience the films offer. If you grew up watching Disney films such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and the Little Mermaid, then Valentino’s Disney books would be perfect for you. Even though the books are recommended for ages 10-14, any age could enjoy the storytelling being offered. Mothers and daughters could both read this book and neither be bored by the storytelling being used because both grew up with the beloved storytelling. The Beast Within may be any easy ready, yet it’s worth it.

The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince

Serena Valentino

Disney Press (July 22, 2014)

224 pages

Fantasy/Fairytale

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Jagged Alliance 2

Jagged Alliance 2 is a short book. It seems inconceivable that author Darius Kazemi would be able to fit a complete account of how a game was made in less than 150 pages, but he does this completely naturally. This book provides you with a complete picture of how a game is made, from the state of the industry at the time, to the cultural circumstances that affected the game, and even examines the game’s source code in detail.

Jagged Alliance 2 is a turn-based strategy game developed by Sir-Tech. In a turn-based strategy game, you control a set of units on a board, issue them commands during your turn, then wait while your opponent takes its turn. You most often play against the computer. In the introduction, Kazemi defines his goal for the book as a criticism that is as objective as possible, with no baseless interpretation of the game’s content or starry-eyed nostalgia. This is obviously an unattainable goal, a fact which the author immediately concedes after setting it. As the book uses interviews from people involved in Jagged Alliance 2’s development, their accounts will naturally conflict and some interpretation is necessary. However, whether analysing the artificial intelligence of Jagged Alliance 2 or examining how gun culture affected the development of the game, Kazemi uses quotes from interviews and excerpts from the game’s code to paint a unmistakable of Jagged Alliance 2 and the circumstances in which it was developed.

Jagged Alliance 2 presents the history of the game and Sir-Tech, the company that developed it, in a narrative format. However, it’s done with minimum input from the author, with the voices of Jagged Alliance 2’s developers taking the main focus. Ian Currie, the designer of Jagged Alliance and its sequel Jagged Alliance 2, is presented as the mastermind behind the game. The first chapter of the book tells the story of how Ian Currie developed the game Freakin’ Funky Fuzzballs during his free time while working on a railroad. This game was published by Sir-Tech, who eventually hired him. After shipping Freakin’ Funky Fuzzballs, Curie designed Jagged Alliance and its sequel, which the book mainly focuses on. The book avoids an easy pitfall by not making it seem like Curie was the only person responsible for Jagged Alliance 2’s creation - it puts just as much emphasis on the voices of the others who worked on the game, from the artists, the level designers, and even the managers of Sir-Tech.

Throughout the book, Kazemi shows the cultural and industry shifts that caused the success of Jagged Alliance 2 and why we don’t have games like it anymore. Sir-Tech was a Canadian company, and according to the author they strove to incorporate their country’s multiculturalistic values into the game, giving players a diverse cast to choose from. This is contrasted to gun culture in America - most of the first games fans were deeply entrenched in gun culture. Darius Kazemi shows how this affected the development of Jagged Alliance 2, as the developers felt pressured to include more guns in the game to appeal to their audience. Kazemi points out that one of the main differentiating features of Jagged Alliance when compared to XCOM, another turn-based strategy game that was released shortly before, is its diverse cast, but he neglects to mention how these same factors affected XCOM. Since XCOM was a sci-fi game, did it need to portray itself as a realistic simulation in order to win the support of its fans, or did it have an entirely different audience altogether? Was it possible that having a less diverse cast made it more appealing to its audience, as they could project their own attributes onto the characters? When trying to be objective, Kazemi simply presents facts and attempts to let them speak for themselves, with a minimal amount of analysis on his part.

One of the most interesting parts of Jagged Alliance 2 is when the author delves into the code of the game, giving a line-by-line rundown of how the game’s artificial intelligence works. Artificial intelligence can seem overwhelmingly complex when observed in action, and it’s tempting to think about it as a concept beyond mortal understanding, approachable only by savants. Darius Kazemi breaks Jagged Alliance 2’s AI down into what it is: a set of simple rules, working together in a system to create something that appears to be smart. This chapter also has one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen in a codebase. Jagged Alliance 2’s developers embedded an essay about game design, artificial intelligence, and how to combine them in a fun way in the source code of the game. In game development, you would expect to find this in the game design document for the game. Most source code only has comments when necessary, like “this function is broken.” Jagged Alliance 2 brings a side that you don’t see from a lot of videogame criticism - it not only talks about the technical aspect, but examines it in detail as something that was created by people who were making something they loved.

Jagged Alliance 2 presents in detail how a combination of circumstances combined in exactly the right way to create a game that could not have existed otherwise. While it has some shortcomings, it goes above and beyond what you would expect of games criticism, deconstructing the game down to its source code. If you are interested in game development, I would suggest you buy this book immediately, as it provides some amazing insights about game design, the game industry, and how they have evolved since Jagged Alliance 2 was released. I would even suggest reading this book if you have any remote interest in video games - it presents a fascinating story and shows a complete picture of how a video game is made, something that isn’t seen a lot. Rather than focus on just the cultural impact of Jagged Alliance 2, the code, or the game itself, Darius Kazemi chooses to focus on every single aspect that makes up the game. While this broad critique may miss things along the way, it provides a complete view of a video game and all the parts that make it up.


Title: Jagged Alliance 2

Author: Darius Kazemi

Published: August 25, 2014

Genre: Game History, Non-Fiction


Creative piece: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/39668136/budget/build.html
In Jagged Alliance 2, the author shows all of the different parts that go into making a game. I'm currently developing a video game with August and Josh, so I created a video game to show what our projected budget for publishing the video game is should we ever finish it. Art is by August Polite. You need to have Unity Web Player installed to play the game - it should prompt you, but if not, go to http://unity3d.com/webplayer.

The Stranger

Many of the great works of fiction sit at the intersection of philosophy and literature. They ask questions that need to be asked, about the nature of life and the human condition, and run through moral rehearsals to try and find answers. One of the these perfect storms of ideas is Albert Camus’ The Stranger. In only 123 pages, Camus whittles away any of the pablum and platitudes found in long-winded works, and is left with the most refined form of fiction. When reading The Stranger, one feels, that the author is in complete control, and that his message is perfectly communicated without any traces of didactic condescension.

The plot of the book is quite simple. The protagonist, Meursault, is wholly indifferent to the events of his daily life. This is exemplified with the famous first lines of the book, “Aujourd’hui, Maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.” This means, “Today mother died. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” As our hero copes with, or rather rationalizes, this loss, we learn more about his lifestyle and his character. He lives in French Algiers at some point in the 1940s, works as a clerk, spends a lot of time at the beach, and cares deeply about none of it. The only emotion we see him indulge is lust, masquerading as his girlfriend Marie. He lives entirely in the moment, and never seems to see much value in his life or any of its elements. One searingly hot afternoon, this detachment leads Meursault to make a decision that few individuals could make. His actions eventually force him into an environment where all he can do is reflect on his life, the people he is surrounded with, and his ultimate fate, the same one that  none of us can escape. 

Meursault is the purest form of apathy, and his perspective provides a truly objective lens with which to view the ideas that Camus wrestled with throughout his entire career. The primary concept explored in the book is the Absurd, Camus’ most enduring addition to the field of existentialist philosophy. In this context, the Absurd is the disconnect between the unrealistic expectations that man harbors for the universe, expectations of meaning and objective truth, and the “benign indifference of the universe.” In spite of Camus’ rejection of the label, the idea falls perfectly into place in the spectrum of philosophies churned out by the French philosophical community in the middle of the last century. 

Throughout his life, Camus kept such company as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Pascal Pia and Jean Grenier. Together, they honed the ideas of existentialism, originally put forth by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, into a body of work that revolutionized the way that man interacts with the universe. Their view was that any consideration of philosophy had to start with the consideration of man, and that all philosophy was subjective, as it must be created by man. Their focus on these ideas was likely a result of the horrors of the second World War, which sat heavily on so many minds at that time. After years of wanton global violence and chaos, the imperfection of mankind was unavoidable, and the ramifications of that idea are profoundly present in much of Camus’ work. 

Stylistically, the book adheres to the same minimalism Camus utilized when creating the plot. The sentences are of a nearly uniform length. The style is languid and unenthused for the majority of the book, mirroring Meursault’s utter apathy. Only when his emotions rise, at the climax of the book, does the style change to accommodate his mentality. While this simplicity can lull the reader into a sort of monotony, it is an intentional monotony. With this uniformity of style, Camus induces in the reader a much-diluted form of the same indifference that plagues his protagonist, so thoroughly that one accepts, even agrees with the distant, possibly sociopathic perspective espoused. 

The Stranger sits firmly outside most readers’ comfort zones, yet 70 years after its publication, the book continues to draw an appreciative audience. Why? Because in addition to answering several fundamental questions of existence, The Stranger is a great book. It is consistently engaging, as well as humorous and even poignant, in its own twisted way. It is enough of a philosophical revelation and easy enough to comprehend to have amateurs and academics reassessing their thoughts on life. It is entirely unique, unparalleled before and since its publication. Despite all its gloomy morbidity, it even ends on a sort of pervertedly optimistic note. For all these reasons, I would suggest The Stranger to anyone who has ever asked themselves why they are here. I would also suggest it to anyone who has not yet asked themselves that, because questioning the human condition is an integral part of the human existence. 


The Stranger

Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward

First published in 1942

123 pages

Philosophical Fiction


Creative Piece:

Book Review: Fight Club

Imagine having two personalities that stick with you, your entire life but you just never knew. Everyone lives in their own world but there are people around them. We all get confused about what’s going on in our lives or what is going to happen next. Fight club give us a story about Tyler Durden, a guy who spends his free time crashing support groups for the dying, a waiter and projectionist with plans to screw up the world.

Born February 21, 1962, Charles Michael Palahniuk spent his early childhood living out of a mobile home in Burbank, Washington. His parents, Carol and Fred Palahniuk, got divorced when he was fourteen, leaving Chuck and his siblings to spend much of their time on their grandparent’s cattle ranch. In 1980 he graduated from Columbia High School in Burbank, winning the award for “Most Wittiest” in the process. Some regard this award as the catalyst for his nascent interest in writing, but according to Chuck, that honor belongs to Mr. Olsen, his fifth grade teacher. Chuck attended the University of Oregon, graduating with a BA in journalism in 1986. He worked as a journalist for a local Portland newspaper, but soon grew tired of the job. He then became a diesel mechanic, spending his days repairing trucks and writing technical manuals. “It was during this time that Chuck experienced much of what would become fodder for his early work, including working as an escort for terminally ill hospice patients and becoming a member of the notorious Cacophony Society. Said to be the inspiration for Project Mayhem in Fight Club.” Chuck’s first attempt at a novel, If You Lived Here, You’d be Home Already was rejected across the board but parts were later recycled for use in Fight Club. There was a dark time in Chuck’s life for a while. Within months, Gerry Howard (the editor at WW Norton) convinced the higher-ups to take a chance on the writer, and Chuck soon had a book deal with a major publisher. He then went on to turn Fight Club into a movie. The film’s popularity made publishers reprint the novel over the next few years. Due to this success, he put out two novels in 1999, Survivor and Invisible Monsters. Choke, published in 2001, became Chuck’s first New York Times bestseller.

The book, Fight Club, starts out like almost any regular story. It is written in a first person view. The events in this book are written in chronological order but don’t let it fool you that it is just like any regular story about a person’s life. It is a bit confusing but thats only the beginning so do not give up. The events that take place in this book are really interesting and  when reading, you should pay close attention.

The language of the book, Fight Club is a bit modern and kind of old. The book is sharply written. Since it is written in the first person perspective, you get to feel the author and characters thought while reading. It feels like you are the main character in the book. While reading Fight Club, you would not think it would turn out the way your mind portrays it will. It doesn’t really follow the basic structure of regulars stories but Chuck Palahniuk does a amazing job with switching it around. We do not know the exact place of where Fight Club takes place but at first we know it is in a house, then in the city.

The book did not fall short of my expectations except when reading the title and looking at the book, but when I started reading Fight Club it beyond exceeded my expectations. The title of the book really has only a small part of the book. The whole story was just brilliant and exceeds where most novels do not. The characters are well developed. The two most important events were the fight club and project Mayhem and those events in the book were described in a way that is notable. The details of the events or things that happen in this book are very well written and kind of fucked up but is interesting. The events are interesting because in the book they are described a little at a time and you're left thinking and trying to put it all together in your head. I would strongly recommend it to people who enjoy action movies, stories about fighting, plot twist endings, and stories about leaders or one person will most likely enjoy the book Fight Club.
Fight Club was written by Chuck Palahniuk. The publisher of Fight Club is W.W. Norton & Company Inc. It was first published in 2005. In the entire book, there are 218 pages. The genre of the book Fight Club is fiction.

Book review: The Untelling

The Author Tayari Jones is an Atlanta native and  is an award winning author for her novel “Leaving Atlanta”. The author Tayari Jones was a Spelman College graduate, she has several degrees such as a Ph.D from the University of Iowa. She has received awards for her writings such as the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction in 2003 and the Lillian C. Smith award in 2006 .Tayari Jones creates books for the young African American reader like myself. Jones generally generates African American literature. Her writing is geared towards young women who have overcome personal struggles in lives.  She creates books to make you feel like achieving your goals is possible and can be easily obtainable.

In her novel “The Untelling” the lost of a family member is tragic, but losing a parent is even more devastating. Living as a young lady growing up without your a father, experiencing “teenage things” has taken Ariadne for a loop. The death of her father not only affects her, but also her now widowed mother and older sister Hermione. After the death of her father the two sisters relationship with their mother began to go down hill. The three women need to learn how to deal with their difficulties and continue to live their lives in the best way possible.  

Going to her mother’s alma mater, Spelman College, Aria receives a degree. Aria deals with the medical issues that will affect her future, and she debates telling her new fiancé Dwayne. The main character Ariadne (Aria) has been though a lot of bad life experiences and she is scared that could potentially cause more misfortune in her life. Aria in her mid twenties watches everyone progress in their lives and families and struggles with the outcome of her life.   

From start to finish the main character Aria Jackson has been authentic. She seemed so real and her story was very effective to me.  As I read I felt like I was Aria and I was dealing with her life. Aria seemed very credible , despite her dishonestly to her fiance.  I would strongly recommend anyone who is into realistic fiction and tragedies to read this book. Several times throughout this story I did shed a few tears. I genuinely felt like helping her with her issues ,knowing there was nothing I could do.  

I truly believe that this book can be relatable to all people. I have always wanted to go to a HBCU, like Spelman College, where several of the characters in the story attended ,and also where the author attended.  The author does a great job using realistic life circumstances. I felt like I was the main character, like I was her dealing with her tough life challenges. Tayari Jones does a great with her tone of writing. Throughout the story I felt anxious, wondering what was going to happen next and anticipating the next big challenge. The author revealed a lot of controversial medical issues, such as abortion. Knowing that that topic is well disputed ,and that I love to debate or discuss controversial topics , I felt like this book was a great match for me. The author also used a very informal writing style, her use of profanity and slang understanding considering I am teenager and am around that type of language all of the time.  

Towards the ending of the book I began to become disappointed. Throughout the whole plot I was anticipating a happy ending, however I was very disappointed after the story concluded. In some ways the story exceeded my expectations by having relatable situations and making me feel sympathetic towards the characters life circumstances. I really enjoy happy endings. In this case the book did not exceed my expectations. I would have preferred if the book had more of a predictable ending.   

While reading this story the question of “Is it okay to lie?” became very present. While reading I contemplated the idea if it really was okay to lie if you are trying not to hurt someone. I then realized that it not okay. It means more to people that you tell them the truth, rather than just lying at first, because that will make the situation more complicated.

This story was recommended to me by Ms. Rami, because of her knowing that I am into very realistic types of writings. I am very happy that she recommended this book to me and am very glad that I completed this book.


Title: The Untelling

Author: Tayari Jones

Publishing: Grand Central Publishing, 2006

Date of publication: 2005

Genre: Fiction



Creative:

Link to "The Untelling" Blog


Orson Scott Card's, "Ender's Game"

Committed is the word I would use to describe Orson Scott Card. He has been writing for so many years and never fails to please a crowd. He used this job to support his family, so he put all he had into producing something great. He started writing plays and musical comedies in the 1960s. Although those were good and many people enjoyed them, he is best known for his science fiction books, Ender’s Shadow and Ender’s Game. He includes all the components that a quality story should have. There is emotion, action and suspense. Just enough to keep readers engaged.

Orson Scott Card’s, Ender’s Game is a science fiction book where a crew of children is trained to fight against very intelligent space ants, also known as “buggers.” There is one child in particular, Ender, that shows great potential in being able to defeat the space ants. The instructors of the Battle School push Ender beyond his limit by changing the rules on him to see how he reacts to the changes. This is where the action is the most intense. Ender has to face the challenges to the best of his ability and continuously exceeds the school’s expectations.  Throughout the book you go on Ender’s emotional journey as he is put in difficult situations that he overcomes time and time again. Ender’s Game is an emotionally thrilling book. You get in touch with the character’s mindsets allowing you to develop “relationships” with them. The characters’ vulnerability allows you to understand why they react to things the way they do.

On top of the challenges, Ender has his emotional baggage that he brought with him from home. His brother would always threaten him. If it weren’t for his sister, Valentine, he doesn’t know where he would be. One of his biggest fears is becoming like this brother, Peter. As he is challenged with more and more tasks, he notices that he is slowly starting to react the same way his brother would. The thought sickens him, but he can’t help it.

Card does an excellent job allowing the reader to know his characters. However, if he had expanded on the action scenes, the book would have been more attention grabbing. During the scenes that he spent a substantial amount of time with description, the book was hard to put down. If he had stayed consistent with that, the book as a whole would have been even more enjoyable. Even so, he is able to play it off by including the reasoning. The book spends more time explaining why the characters do what they do, rather than expanding on the actual actions that occur.

Throughout the book you see the drastic change in Ender from the beginning of the story to the end. There is a big difference but you can still see the person Ender always was. It’s an interesting way of writing because you are able to see the character develop, but you also see how they always think back on their former selves. Through Ender’s challenges, his inner destroyer starts becoming revealed. Ender always had this darkness inside of him, but never let it show until he was put into danger. That danger helped reveal how much Ender really was like his brother, but by then it was too late. Everyone had high expectations for Ender and he couldn’t change his ways now, the world needed him.

Card throws multiple twists and turns at the readers in order to keep them engaged. As the book starts coming to an end, so many things are revealed that help the reader completely understand why events occurred the way they did.  The book allows people to compare Ender’s end relationship to each character to what they were like at the beginning, and to see how each one has changed for better and for worse. Some changed drastically and some didn’t have enough time to change, but developed quickly. Ender was able to discover who was really on his side and had been for the whole journey.

If you are into intense graphic descriptions that make you cringe in fear, this wouldn’t be the book I recommend for you. This deals more with the emotional change throughout the actions that the characters go through. You are aware of everything that Ender goes through and you go through it with him, but you don’t feel what he feels until he refers to it through thoughts later in the book. There are other books following the Ender’s Game, so there are ways to discover what happens after this book ends. If you enjoy emotional thrillers then Ender’s Game would be a great choice to pick up.


Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card

A Tom Doherty Associates Book

Copyright 1991

324 pages

Science Fiction


Creative piece:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trPvGKoFVBA

Artist's Statement


Throughout the book Ender becomes darker. He “discovered his inner destroyer.” The sun setting shows how Ender went from an innocent little boy, to someone who’s nasty thoughts took action. The rain in the background turns into a thunderstorm also to represent how his character let his self defense methods get the best of him.


The Lovely Review

The Lovely Bones write by Alice Sebold is a novel about many things, but at the core of it is life and death,  just like so many other experiences in this world. The book tells the story of a young girl who is raped and murdered, and what happens to her family in the aftermath of her death. This book tells a dark and sorrowful story, but there are moments of mystery, suspense, and even joy along the way. The Lovely Bones is fictional, but is one of the most honest, truthful, and beautiful books about a topic that is quite painful.

Alice Sebold has published three books, however The Lovely Bones is the only one that she has won any awards for. She has won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel in 2002 and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction in 2003. Alice Sebold is  now 51 and lives in Madison, WI.

This novel is narrated by Susie Salmon, the girl who gets murdered at the beginning of the book. Most unusually, she is narrating from heaven. In the book there is a description of Susie’s heaven and she refers to the fact that there are many others. How heaven works is never made clear in the book but the reader knows that Susie is somewhere where she can watch over loved ones that she had to leave behind.

Susie watches from above as her family mourns her loss and tries to discover what happened to her. She sees her parents become less and less connected to each other. Her younger siblings, Lindsey and Buckley, struggle because they feel like they reminds their parents of the daughter that they lost. Lindsay feels that she cannot be an individual and will always live in the shadow of her big sister, because when people look at her all they see is Susie.

The other main characters in the book are two kids Susie’s age who form an unlikely friendship through her death. The first person is Ray Singh; he and Susie were each other's middle school crushes. They shared their first kiss with one another. Because of this Ray is the first suspect for Susie's murder. However, the police soon discover that that theory is preposterous. Ray only ever feels love towards Susie. Ray becomes close friends with a girl in his grade named Ruth who believes she saw Susie’s ghost and becomes slightly obsessed with her death.

As the book progresses we watch along with Susie Salmon as all these characters, and a few others, develop and grow throughout the years. Watching from heaven, Susie realises that the thing she misses most is being alive. Part of the reason that Susie has such a strong passion for the life she once had is that it was taken from her so suddenly. She has a hard time accepting that she will never return to the life she had, or life at all.  At one point in the book she explains this by saying,  “Heaven is comfort, but it's still not living.” This book gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the simple or mundane moments in life, because the narrator misses these things, and shows their priceless value.

All readers should know that this book can be hard to read at times because Susie was raped, and in heaven is still struggling with that experience. Witnessing her going through his is very insightful to the reader. She is able to talk about rape and murder in a way that makes it easier to understand in some ways. For the reader, it takes topics that are not often talked about, and makes them more approachable but also emphasises the severity of the situation. One of the best passages in the book that portrays this reads, “Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them.” The author takes something so true and explains it in a way that stays with the reader.

The Lovely Bones is a work of art, it beautifully illustrates the pain of death and the joys in life. With her lively and realistic characters, Alice Sebold explores and demonstrates how the death of a loved one is an almost unimaginable sadness. But that people can life through the sorrow and continue on their path. She also explores life after death from a new point of view, and with the belief that anything is possible. Readers who are interested in reading about the afterlife, and the effect that death has not just on a group of people, but on a community, should read The Lovely Bones. They will find this book a page turner and a novel that stays with them long after they finish.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Published in 2002. This book is Literary Fiction and has 328 pages.
IMG_3122
IMG_3122
​This sculpture is a kind of memorial for for Susie Salmon. In the book, her body is never found, but her elbow is uncovered. It is also significant symbolism throughout the novel. I took one of my favorite quotes from the book and paired it with this symbol to create a sanctuary in honor of the book and main character.

Perfect Chemistry Book review

Author-Simone Elkeles

Series-Perfect Chemistry

Genre- Young Adult

Publisher-Walker Books for Young Readers

Publication date- 23 December,2008

Pages-368


Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of teen novels.  Her books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists, and added to the Illinois “Read for a Lifetime” Reading List. She also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for one of the books I have read,Perfect Chemistry.

As I said in the first paragraph, Simone Elkeles has a lot of book that are aimed for her teenage audience. For example, Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, Chain Reaction, Leaving Paradise, Return to Paradise, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, How to Ruin my Teenage Life, and How to Ruin Your Boyfriend’s Reputation. These books have all won her an award. Most of her books have a recurring theme of interracial interactions and relationships.

In the perfect Chemistry series, it focuses on a particular mexican family living in chicago. Each book focuses on one of the three brothers and their connection to a gang, the latino blood. Each book shows how each brother has to deal with the consequences of their brother’s mistakes while also having to deal with problems of their own. The book I read was the first book in the series Perfect Chemistry.

This book is about a school named Fairfield High where the north and south sides of Chicago really don’t mix in the school’s environment. Each side keeps to themselves and never wants to make the cross to the other side. The main characters of the story Brittany Ellis, a white uptown teenager, and Alejandro "Alex" Fuentes, a lower class Mexican teenager,must overcome Brittany's troubled home life and Alex's gang ties to have a their own happily ever after. Brittany Ellis is known throughout school as a perfect teenage girl who has worked to keep up appearances of her picture perfect image and Alex Fuentes's Spanish heritage and how his gang ties throughout the book cause his family chaos.

Each chapter of the book alternates from Brittany to Alex. Most times the chapters starts off by a reaction to what the last character said, then for the rest of the chapter, it focuses on the one character’s life.

This book touches base on interracial couples and the troubles some face day by day. Not being accepted, the whispers, and sometimes the shame of not dating someone of your skin tone. The way she ties that into the book with it’s modern day feel, makes you want to keep reading more and more page after page. If you like young romance and happy endings, then Perfect Chemistry is the book for you. It is a really good book and has some nice awards, and reviews that can agree.
Creative piece:
For my creative piece, I wanted to make a little poem about interracial couples and how they will still love each other no matter what society thinks about it.
​Love without the fear
Trust without the questioning 
Want without the restrictions
Accept without having to change
For what we have is too strong to lose. People may say what they want, but my love for you will never die for as long as I live.

Book Review : "The Bluest Eye"


Lets take a moment to absorb all the work the fabulous Toni Morrison has created. From “Song of Solomon” to “Sula”  to “Tar Baby.” All these are diverse novels, but  all seem to  connect in a common theme. Many of her stories are set in Ohio, hence her birthplace, and are iconic for their vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters. A lot of her books reflect on her early background growing up in an integrated neighborhood. After entering Howard University and receiving a B.A. in English in 1953, she earned a Master’s of Art degree in English from Cornell University. Now come along with me to delve into “The Bluest Eye.”

“The Bluest Eye” does not have a very “controlled” plot like Toni Morrison’s other pieces of work. Because Morrison brilliantly decided to have a child protagonist, she chose to portray the ill effects on children of incorporated racism. In the beginning of the book, the main focus was on ten-year old Pecola Breedlove. However, Morrison couldn’t maintain for her to be the focus throughout the entire novel. In the middle if the book, Morrison had to tie in her parents to support Pecola’s reasonings such as why she thought she was ugly and that if she had the blue eyes, she would become beautiful. As the story unfolds, it turns that Pecola’s birth parents have both lived through difficult lives. Her mother had suffered through isolation and believed that romantic love is reserved for the beautiful (white people). She channels her inner feelings by encouraging her husband’s violent behaviors, and escapes from everything by cleaning a white women’s home. On the other hand, Pecola’s father was abandoned at a very young age and mentally unstable. Later on in the book you find that Pecola has been impregnated by her father raping her.

For the most part, “The Bluest Eye” exceeded my expectations throughout the middle and end of the book. In the beginning, it was kind of tiresome because Toni Morrison is very descriptive and writes a lot, but there is a reason why she does that. She wants to make sure the reader has a clear picture painted in their head and alludes to many things that will occur later on in the story. Most of all her novels that I’ve read start off like this. I wanted to put the book down a couple of times because it wasn’t capturing my interest, but as I continued reading, I could not stop. It’s worth it to keep reading because it’s impressive how Morrison ties everything together in such a creative way.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how Morrison chose her narrators. The reason I say “narrators” is because although the only narrator was Claudia MacTeer, Morrison makes it so that she narrates in a combination of a child’s perspective, and when she gets older, an adult’s perspective. I also enjoyed the novel’s points of view. Claudia and Pecola’s view are more dominant throughout. However, Pecola’s parents come into play. The points of view are deliberately structured to give a sense of each character’s experiences, and help us put ourselves in their shoes. In my opinion, I feel that “The Bluest Eye” is really known for its themes. Given from its title, one theme is whiteness is the standard of beauty. Another is seeing versus actually being seen. The person who suffers most from white beauty standards is Pecola. She connects beauty with being loved and believes that if she possesses blue eyes, the cruelty in her life will be replaced by affection and respect. Pecola’s desire for blue eyes, while highly unrealistic, is based on one correct insight into her world: she believes that the cruelty she witnesses and experiences is connected to how she is seen. If she had beautiful blue eyes, Pecola imagines, people would not want to do ugly things in front of her or to her. She correlates this to when she was teases by boys and when Pecola and her family are mistreated in part because they happen to have black skin. By wishing for blue eyes rather than lighter skin, Pecola indicates that she wishes to see things differently as much as she wishes to be seen differently. She can only receive this wish, by blinding herself when looking in the mirror. Pecola is then able to see herself as beautiful, but only at the cost of her ability to see accurately both herself and the world around her. The connection between how one is seen and what one sees has a uniquely tragic outcome for her.

I would personally recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories that portray different themes, and don’t mind the story being told by more than one perspective. I also encourage people to read all of Toni Morrison’s work along with this one so that you can see the comparisons within all her other novels.


“The Bluest Eye”

Toni Morrison

Published in 1970

Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Realistic Fiction

224 pages





Mo' Meta Blue: The World According to Questlove

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson describes Mo’ Meta Blues as a memoir but that may lead you to believe that he writes about a more specific time period in his life than he does. In Mo’ Meta Blues, Questlove describes and discusses his entire life up until 2013, when the book was published. The book starts on Christmas Eve, 1973 and goes on from there. Mo’ Meta blues is not just a chronological account of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s life. It is the chronological account of a musician and music-lover’s life. Throughout the book, Questlove flips through his record collection. He describes the memories he associates with certain pieces of music and what those associations mean to him. Anyone who loves music will identify with this aspect of the book and anyone who loves hip-hop or, more specifically, The Roots, will be entertained by Questlove’s stories.  Richard Nichols, The Roots’ co manager has small written pieces throughout the book in the form of footnotes to set Questlove straight when his memory leads him astray. This book is not a piece on philosophy although sometimes it may seem as though it tries to be. Questlove touches on some philosophical ideas that he relates to his experiences but this is not what makes the book great. What makes the book great is the way Questlove describes his relationship with music and how that relationship changes over time. Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove is a fascinating book for anyone who loves music although the reader will find that Questlove’s occasional dive into the meaning of his experiences is a little slow.

As this book is chronological, the beginning of the book is mostly about Questlove’s relationship with music through records. He begins his relationship with music as a listener and appreciator rather than a major contributor, even though it is emphasized that he has been playing music for essentially his entire life. Questlove describes how he began playing the drums on Christmas Eve, 1973. This was clearly an important memory for him as the memory was one of his first and incredibly detailed. Ahmir specifically remembered the music that was playing in the background as he walked down stairs and saw the drum set sitting under the Christmas tree. He writes:

Donny Hathaway’s second album was playing in the background, the self-titled one with the covers of ‘A Song For You’ and ‘Magnificent Sanctuary Band’...I made my way over there. Of the four instruments, I gravitated toward the drums. (11)

Just a page later, Questlove describes an experience he has when he jumps out of the bathtub and runs straight into the radiator. Not only can he recall the song that was playing when he hit the radiator, he can recall the part of the song. Questlove describes Curtis Mayfield’s Freddie’s Dead this part as “ the modulated bridge where the horns come in” (12). For anybody who grew up with music, I think this type of memory is relatable. Specifically, being able to identify the music that was playing in the background (assuming music was playing) when something formative occurred. One may not be able to recall the music playing in the background as well as Ahmir Thompson can but music was always part of Ahmir Thompson’s experiences and for those who love music, it is descriptions like this in Mo’ Meta Blues that make the book so enjoyable.

While much of the Mo’ Meta Blues is spent describing Questlove’s experiences through music, some smaller parts of the book are spent on reflection. These opportunities taken for reflection seem squandered as they ask and attempt to answer questions one could write an entirely new book on, are rather vague, and are only loosely connected to the rest of the book. The added metaphors to these reflections do not clarify the point being made and even make it more confusing. This is particularly apparent towards the end of the book when Questlove attempts to reflect on his life so far (that is what the books about after all) using the shapes of the drums and drum sticks as inspiration.

Will the circle be unbroken? That’s not the only circle that’s a question. Every circle is. Lines are statements. Arrows are especially emphatic statements. They divide and they define. They count up and count down. Circles are more careful. They come around again. They overthink. (144)

This could have been a great addition if it connected with the rest of the book. It seems as though Questlove connected these thoughts to the book in his head and neglected to write that part down.

Mo’ Meta Blues is certainly worth the time. It tells the story of a man and his transition from appreciator and observer of music to active participant. He describes experiences and stories, not necessarily one-hundred percent factually but how he felt they occurred. This connects you to the experiences and to the author in a way which makes the book all the more enjoyable. While the reflection and contemplation of Questlove’s life so far may fall short, it does not tarnish the rest of the book. Anyone with a strong connection to and love for music should read this book.


Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman

Published June 18, 2013 by Grand Central Publishing Company

288 pages

Memoir




Creative piece can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/aaronsrecordcollection

The House Of The Scorpions Book Review

Shaion Denny


The House Of the Scorpions Book review


The relevant becomes flawless strokes of the mind unleashing the unknown from its cages. Nancy Farmer won multiple awards for her book “The House Of The Scorpions”. Nancy Farmer is highly known for her science fiction books. This book is one of her most know books across the country.She makes us as readers see characters for more than just how they help the story but how they compare to us. Characters roam like lost puppies in a dark room shivering motionless until the lights come on.

The House Of The Scorpions is an empowering piece of art. It crosses unforeseen boundaries in the world of fiction. As a first time reader it would appear that The House Of The Scorpions is a book about a clone wanting to be a real boy. But once you go through the book for a second or third time you start to get a different idea for meaning and message behind the book. As an experienced reader you are able to see the different themes presented within the book. These newly presented themes are things like poverty, loneliness, religion, and the hardest one to see is trust. Trust is the hardest theme to find in The House Of The Scorpions because of how often betrayal is used in the book. Trust and betrayal go hand and hand but in this book.

Matteo Alacrán, or Matt for short, was a boy trying to escape what could only be known to him as a perfect word. He was raised by a women named Celia for most of his life. Celia worked for a man name Él Patron who you can say is Matt’s father in a way. Él Patron is a big time drug dealer who uses clones , Matt being one of them, for body parts so he can essentially live forever. Matt is special to Él Patron because Matt is the smartest clone he has had in years so he kept him alive. Matt eventually move into the big house with Él Patron and his family so Matt could continue learning. Matt had become too smart for Él Patron and it made él Patron feel dumb so he made plans to execute Matt and harvest his organs. Matt being smart ran away before that could happen. Matt goes on a nice adventure in America before returning to find out Él Patron poisoned everyone who worked for him and his family so they could all die with him because he believed that when something died as your property they would always be your property even in heaven or hell.

The book isn’t setup like your normal story. The House Of the Scorpions is setup as intel to this child’s mind and everyday adventures. Matteo Alacrán to the reader isn’t just a clone boy want to be real, or even a boy trying to find his purpose in life. To the person holding the book ,flipping from page to page fighting to see what words will be on the next page, Matteo is a man who's fear brings more than just knowledge but experience. Throughout the book many ideas are put into the readers mind. Like what is the absence of light in a realm that seems to be always shinning. The author does her best to not only challenge us with these questions but help us understand the answers we might get for them. The absence of light in a place thats always shinning is a metaphor for how people compress their fear. Matteo’s only fear in the land of Opium is the absence of knowledge. 

The house of the Scorpions exceeds all of my expectations. When I was first asked to red this book I hated everything about it because to me all I saw was a big book full of words that determined my final grades. But when asked to read it a second time I saw it from a new angle because I was not forced to read it. I saw new ideas, questions, and meanings to this book. I expected that when I read it the second time for it to be like the first time. Full of confusing chapters that mean one thing. I thought the meaning of the book was to be careful who you trust. I’ am glad to say now that I was wrong. The meaning of this book is not be careful who you trust but to keep an open mind and never judge a book by its cover. I enjoyed this book because it was surprising how many mental challenges were in it. I think this book should be read by anyone who likes drama, action, science, futuristic, and mystery novels. The House Of The Scorpion is without a doubt on the list for books everyone must read before leaving for college.

Title: The House Of The Scorpion

Author: Nancy Farmer

Publisher: Atheneum Books

Date Publication: January 2002

Number of Pages: 380

Genre: Science Fiction

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

David Sedaris


Dress Your Family is a collection of autobiographical essays and short stories painting a picture of Sedaris’ childhood and documenting his later adventures living in Paris and finding a career with his recognizable wit.

Review:

Although I am relatively new to the work of David Sedaris I can say without a doubt that this particular collection resonated with me on a plethora of levels. Although I can’t yet look back on my own childhood and reflect on it as deeply as Sedaris can, I can relate to at least some part in all of his stories while still finding his signature humor present throughout.

The book opens with a grouping of stories that paint a picture of his childhood and his family dynamic, setting up the context for the rest of his hilarious antics years down the line.

We are introduced to his parents and given a taste of the hardships of life in the south. He delves into early issues with his homosexuality and the dilemmas he found himself in. The attitude towards homosexuality has become increasingly more positive since the years when our narrator was growing up. One of the first stories we hear is about an excruciatingly awkward sleepover Sedaris has with a neighborhood friend. He broaches the topic of his own bullying with such a comedic tone making you almost forget what the subject material is. Although it seems the focus of this particular story is make you laugh, there are layers to it that lay the groundwork for stories to come, driving home the emotional importance. In the sleepover story, titled “Full House”, Sedaris finds himself in the midst of a strip poker game with a group of boys who aren’t very fond of him. Though this may have been a trying experience for any child figuring out their sexuality it must have been crushing to be bullied by these boys as well. Lingering on the impacts left by this possibly traumatic experience is not what the story sets out to do though, soon we are hearing about how our protagonist actually excelled at the poker game and turning the tables in a hilarious resolution.

After the initial chapters he has fostered the beginnings of a relationship with the reader, letting you in on aspects of his life that seem so personal and genuine. He is almost telling the story to you specifically. This is where his writing style exceeds all prior expectations.

Many of his essays and stories are used on his own book tours, read aloud to a live audience. And after listening to a few of these recordings, you come to realize that he is reciting his stories specifically to you. Though his text is autobiographical it never once felt analytical, each story has its own arc and climax; they are crafted to be heard by people and incite laughter and joy. He doesn’t take the topic of autobiography as an exercise in documentation, but as a means to extract the most relatable and genuinely funny story and put it into the readers hands. His stories are lasting and resonant, and as I stated before, many of them go beneath the surface and touch some real emotional areas. He seems to tap into the stories heart as a tool for the comedy, giving each a more legitimate feel.

In his story “Chicken in the henhouse” he illustrates how the attitude towards homosexuality in certain parts of the United States has either changed drastically or is in drastic need of change. He finds himself in an awkward situation with a young boy in his hotel complex shortly after news stories about homosexual pedophillia had been plaguing every available television channel. He describes his feelings toward issues like this with so much personality and articulation that you can’t just ignore what he is saying and read for the jokes. The jokes all come from a place of truth, as every good joke should, and reflect on the bigotry and prejudice he felt in certain situations. The story with the young boy in the hotel is one of the most hilarious for a number of reasons, but it also manages to make itself the most relevant story, tying the undertones from the rest of the book together. He doesn’t do it with a big show, he doesn’t pretend to have some grand realization, he just connects the stories seamlessly and then continues on his way to making you laugh as hard as you possibly can.

Be it “Chicken in the henhouse” where he addresses some more heavy issues with a comedic tone, or “Six to eight black men” where he goes on a complete tangent and discusses Christmas traditions in the Netherlands in surprising amount of detail, each story in this compilation feels polished and perfected. No story felt out of place in any way or even fell flat. I honestly cannot try and poke holes in the logic or the storytelling because at the end of the day this is a book where you can laugh with the author; you can laugh at his mistakes right alongside him. It fulfills its purpose with ease and with flair and I was never once disappointed. I recomend Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim to anyone who wants to laugh.



Title: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Author: David Sedaris

Publisher: Little, Brown

Publication Date: June 1, 2004

Page count: 272p

Genre: Autobiographical, Anthology



Sedaris book covers

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Written in 1968, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has a clever plot and intense imagery that takes the reader on a journey through the future. Philip K. Dick writes in the futuristic tense, which in his case, is only 1992, however the story can still be applied to the future of the human race. This science fictional novel was written with great care, and although it is hard to understand what is going on during some points of the book, there is always a suspenseful plot twist and rich storyline to fill in the gaps.

Philip K. Dick is arguably the most influential writer of science fiction. He was born in Chicago in 1928. His interest in metaphysics and theology fueled his lifelong interest for writing, mainly science fiction. Philip K. Dick has published forty-four novels, and over a hundred short stories. His work is so influential, interesting, and popular, that some of his work has been made into films such as the famous, dystopian Blade Runner. Philip’s questioning ability of the world around him sparked his creativity and he was able to produce intuitive and analytical novels that seemed to capture the environment that surrounded him with a fictional twist. Although he was a drug user for a large portion of his life, his thinking capability is showed in his work, and his famous Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? makes the reader think philosophically.

This post-apocalyptic story is set in the year 1992 after World War Terminus, a nuclear war that nearly destroyed the Earth. Humans were ushered by the United Nations to flee the planet and travel to Mars with the promise of an android. Human genetics of the humans that did remain on the planet had been altered by the radioactivity. Those humans that decided to stay lived in broken-down or destroyed buildings and survived however they could manage.

The overall story follows the life of bounty hunter Rick Deckard, who is sent out to retire six escaped Nexus-6 android models. He is sent out to administer the Voigt-Kampff test to the android suspects, which tests the android’s empathy. Once the empathy test confirms the lack of empathy, Rick Deckard destroys the android.

The other half of the story also follows the life of John Isidore, who houses and helps the fugitive androids survive in the comfort of his own home in the ruins of his building. John Isidore genes have been affected by the radioactivity, so he is not the most intelligent person. He can not sense the danger of an android when it comes close to him, and instead befriends the very androids that Deckard is spending so much of his time searching for.

In this book, animals of all types have gone extinct and the ones that remain are instantly valuable. Because of these rare animals, so many people result to having an android animal to be higher on the social hierarchy. When a real animal is purchased, it is an extraordinary event, and the family that purchased it is congratulated. The benefit of a having an android is that it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between a faux and genuine animal. When surrounding units see that someone has acquired an animal, a greater level of respect is given to that person. This is a very important part of the book, although when the topic is initially introduced, it is both a bit confusing and a bit strange to the reader. It is a refreshing idea, however, and adds a lot of originality to the novel.

This book is enjoyable because the story switches between the two main characters and gives the reader the perspective of both polar opposite sides of the story. The characters are convincing and stick to their personalities throughout the book. It is easy to follow the mindset of both characters, which creates a better understanding of the relationship between the war, animals, and the characters.

This book is a unique science fiction novel, and anyone who enjoys reading this genre would most likely enjoy reading this book. It definitely involves the science part with colonization of other planets, robots, and delves into the difference between androids and humans. It helps the reader grasp the concept of how the future might be dominated by robotics and androids. I would say that this book should probably be tackled by young adults, because the vocabulary is rich and the storyline jumps around.

Because of Philip K. Dick’s unique writing style, his captivating ideas are harnessed through the use of futuristic concepts. This book is a challenge, but once the beginning is tackled, the book is an effortless read.


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Philip K. Dick

Doubleday

210 pages

Science Fiction



The background of my creative piece is the title of the book written in binary code over and over. There is a sheep because the main character, Rick Deckard, owns a sheep, and because of the title of the book.

Perfect: Pretty Little Liars

The book Perfect by Sara Shepard, is a New York Times bestseller that inspired a tv show in ABC family, called Pretty Little Liars. The series of Pretty Little Liars contains a total of 16 books. Each of them contain unique titles that amplify their plot. In other words, the cover page usually tends to give a hint of what the book might be about. Sara Shepard is an American author who currently lives in Philadelphia. Her Pretty Little Liars series was inspired by her upbringing in Philadelphia’s Main Line. Sara Shepard is well known author that is famous for writing entertaining yet simple novels. Pretty Little Liars is not the only novel series she’s written, she has also written “ The Lying Game”, “Heiresses” and many more. Shepard is an author that inspires herself from actual events. She’s got the habit of sub creating new novels from old ones, which create a never ending book series that leaves everyone wanting more every time.


Since Perfect is a book from the Pretty Little Liars series, I think it’s important that we establish what the series is about. Pretty Little Liars is a story about five teen girls, Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin, Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, and Alison DiLaurentis. These five “best friends” fall into a deep hole after their head leader, Alison goes missing. Years later, all four of them try to live with the absence of their so missing “friend”, while fighting the guiltiness that drowns deep inside them. After Ali goes missing, they start to receive text messages by an anonymous sender “A” that threatens to reveal their secrets out to the world. Throughout the series, the girls fight the mysterious identity of “A”.  


Perfect in particular includes a taste of Alison’s last days before she goes missing, after three years. The book tends to portray continuous flashbacks back and forth. In Perfect, all four ex best friends encounter disappointments, confusions, discoveries, accomplishments, and struggles after Ali’s disappearance. Old characters make presence inside the book, and all these characters are unconditionally attached to the main characters which make the book very intense. The organization of book is divided into 37 chapters. Each chapter changes point of view. For example, Spencer might tell the story on chapter three while Aria tells it on chapter five. The point of view is definitely something that changes very frequently inside Perfect. The thing with Perfect is that it’s not written in a very fancy or high quality writing. It’s written in a very simplistic way that produces high quality entertainment. This book is without a doubt a very suspenseful and dramatizing experience. Almost to point of where it becomes addicting yet 100% satisfying.


Overall, on a scale from 1-10 I would give this book a perfect 10. I started the book around the middle of September and finished it before September finished. I literally spent hours and hours reading the book. It almost gets in the way of doing your daily routine. Once you start the book you can never put it down, which is why I finished the book so early. I’ve never actually watched Pretty Little Liars, but I knew it was out there so that’s why I chose this book. Everytime I get a book into my hands I tend to put it back in like a week, with Perfect that wasn’t possible. It’s so addicting. Once I finished the book, Sara left me wanting more. That’s why I didn't hesitate on picking up the next book. I don’t think I could actually pick a part that I didn't like. Sara tends to very descriptive with her writing, which is why I enjoyed this book.

If you’re a reader that enjoys drama, romance, suspense, non fiction, mystery, and a  bit of comedy, than you’re going to love this book. Just by reading one book, I automatically knew that I wanted to read more. On most novels, authors tend to start in a particular part of the series of where the reader is clueless about the characters/plot because of the lack of background information in a every book. With this book, I picked up very quickly, which made it more engaging. I tend to pick up novels that deal with suspense and mystery. Some of the novels tend to be very slow pace. Pretty Little Liars in the other hand, continues throughout time very quickly. The text inside Perfect is very simple yet satisfying. Once you pick up the book, you’re not going to stop. I guarantee it.


Title: Perfect

Author: Sara Shepard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date Of Publication: August 21, 2007

Number of Pages : 320

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Mystery/Thriller


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​Creative Piece: 

Throughout the series, the main characters fight the mysterious identity of “A”. A is mysterious, honest, and evil. I used cool colors around the letter A and warm colors on the outside. The cool colors amplify the darkness, evilness, and mysteriousness that A possesses. When A isn't around the community everything is bright, colorful, and peaceful. Which is why the warm colors are in the outside.


Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

Some have hailed it as “an American classic,” others “an example of a perfect book.” No matter who you are, The Catcher in the Rye will take you by surprise as you follow recent expulsion victim Holden Caulfield as he travels around New York City with just his thoughts in hopes of finding excitement, happiness, and a reason to live his life.

A recent World War II vet and D-Day participant, author J.D. Salinger set his heart on writing short stories, which were published in magazines, namely The New Yorker and became wildly popular. Despite his success as a short story writer, Salinger his mostly remembered for his work on Catcher in the Rye, which he has said to have been “almost autobiographical.”  He was born in New York City, the setting in the story, in 1919 to a half-Jewish, half-Catholic family. He chose a setting that was familiar to him as a teenager. Also, Salinger was the captain of his fencing team much like Holden. After flunking out of a prestigious junior high school in Manhattan, Salinger’s parents sent him to Valley Forge Military Academy, which was later used as a model for Pencey Prep, the school Holden comes from. Salinger is first published in 1948 when The New Yorker published “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” He became an instant hit as a writer and produced many other short stories, but it isn’t until three years later that The Catcher in the Rye is published. After the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger began the process of becoming a recluse and generally not leaving the house or interacting with anyone outside of his immediate family.

The story begins when Holden Caulfield fails out of a prestigious prep school in upstate Pennsylvania. Rather than going home for the winter and telling his parents, Holden decides to take his belongings to New York City in hopes of finding inspiration and purpose. He spends most of his time exploring and observing the city and its people, criticizing and analyzing almost everything he sees. Holden is afraid of growing up, afraid of losing his innocence and making the transformation into adulthood, so he finds excuses to still act like a child. He’s a troublemaker, but Holden exploits these teenage delinquencies and goes on joy rides, finding thrills, and in the process, himself, in prostitutes, alcohol, and freedom.

If you’re an avid reader of romance, action, or any book with a climax, this book may be frustrating for you to read. Over the entire course of the book, nothing of pure significance happens. In fact, nothing of any significance at all happens, yet it entrances you and pulls you in and makes you want more, and to be completely honest, I can’t tell you why. But the fact that this book is being debated and talked about and is still read to this day can attest to my statement. For being a dropout and teenage delinquent, Holden explores adult ideas and exhibits more wisdom and intuition than most people his age or otherwise. After getting through the excessive use of adult language and hypocrisy, it is clear that Holden understands more about other people than they understand about themselves, and often uses the flaws he sees in other people as a tool to find things inside himself. The constant use of inappropriate language is to plant the idea in your head that sixteen year old Holden Caulfield is much more mature than the teenage delinquent he is played out to be. Just like the use of adult language throughout the story, the adult activities Holden takes part in are there to show that while you’re reading the narrative of a sixteen year-old wisecracking boy, you’re also reading the narrative of a mature, cynical man who has dealt with life and its obstacles, and has learned from them.  

Your entire time reading the book will be spent waiting for something extravagant and spectacular to happen, and it never does. The book ends, the lights fade, and without even knowing it you have enjoyed what is said to be one of the greatest books of the twentieth century. To enjoy and understand this book completely, you must read it more than once. You can’t expect too much of it, because at first you will be disappointed. Only later will you realize how much the book spoke to you. You have to be okay with nothing happening. No aliens, no zombies, no explosions or unbelievable love stories, just a boy in New York City trying to find himself through sex, alcohol, and freedom.


Title: The Catcher in the Rye

Author: J.D. Salinger

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Date of Publication: May 1991

Pages: 214

Genre: Realistic Fiction


The Knife of Never Letting Go Review

The first of three books in the Chaos Walking series “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness, shows us a world where thoughts are open for all to see. Due to a strange disease all of the women are dead while the men and animals have their thoughts open for everyone to see called Noise. This strange setting is where the book starts off before the main character Todd Hewitt and his dog Manchee live and where they find an area in town without Noise. From their secrets are slowly revealed and we begin to learn what is really going on and he is forced to leave to learn more about the outside world.

Patrick Ness is well known for his well planned suspense and clever humor. His other books such as “The Crane Wife” and “The Crash of Hennington” show that he excels in making interesting characters and clever narratives. Along with the Chaos Walking series he has also written two other young adult novels “A Monster Calls” and “More Than This” both containing several similarities to “The Knife of Never Letting Go” with their dark atmosphere and strange settings.

The Noise is an excellent idea and a world with it’s existence proves to be interesting and thought provoking. In the text it is typically shown as scratchy fonts occasionally intersecting with each other. At some point it feels rough and not completely used to the fullest but at other point it is used perfectly in describing the chaotic world in which the characters live in. The noise does a great job of not only showing the lack of privacy but also makes each escape more difficult when the men after you can hear your thoughts.

Another device used to great effect is the knife of the title which is typically used to show the fine line between survival and murder. Which fits in very well given that death is taken more seriously and more accurate here than most other young adult novels. Todd constantly struggles with whether or not he can kill someone which is used to great effect throughout the book to make Todd a very conflicted and sympathetic character.

The main character Todd is a well written character who is naive but sympathetic and whose many questions make him an excellent viewpoint for this chaotic world. His dog Manchee proves to be an interesting side character with his loyal, confused, and innocent behavior painting a true and sad picture of animals with voices. Another character who is difficult to describe without spoilers, helps bring a new viewpoint which questions much of the worlds ideals. While one of the main antagonists Aaron a deranged priest constantly works as a determined threat following the characters with a strange set of ideals. Several side characters such as the Mayor are shown to be cleverly written but lack adequate time to be interesting.

The book proves to be quite good but the beginning is slow and tedious. It’s understandable though that the introduction to the world might seem drawn out with the amount of information that is given and it does prove to be interesting at a few points. However the book's greatest strength is the amount of surprises the book manages to keep hidden. After 64 pages an important character is revealed and the story begins to get very good. The numerous plot twist throughout the story ensure that the story is kept interesting and clever right to the end where it ends with a satisfying cliffhanger.

This book is perfect for people who enjoy science-fiction and elaborate stories. The character’s are unique to most of the genre and the book explores ideas that are rarely seen in other sci-fi works. This gives a feeling of discovery as you read more, learning about this strange world that borrows several ideas from other sci-fi stories but constantly feels fresh throughout the series. The first book leads nicely into the next two and I would greatly recommend them both as they both function quite well on their own merits and never feel like more of the same sci-fiction stories.

The book is an excellent read that shows a well created setting along with cleverly written characters. The story is well written and was able to hold my attention despite a rough start. The numerous surprises and plot twists slowly tear down the original thoughts the reader has amassed about the world to show the unthinkable truth. The finale is spectacular and leads to a well planned climax and shocking ending that heightens the desire to pick up the sequel.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness, Candlewick Press, 2008, 479 pages, Science-fiction.

Looking for Alaska Book Review

Looking for Alaska is not the regular boy-meets-girl love story with all the smoking, drinking, sex and money. It wasn’t all about all those interesting things, it had common teenage drama, just more juicer. It made you think back on your own life and decisions. I’m a person that mostly read books that are urban. Non-urban books would have to be requested to me, so reading Looking for Alaska was a big, fantastic change. it helped understand the loss of an important person and learn how to accept others and their choices. The overall setting of the book is the characters attending a boarding school, that definitely divided the poor and rich, which they talk a lot about in the book. They call the rich kids the “Weekday Warriors”, because they go to school during the week, but then they go home to their nice houses every weekend. Mr.Green also introduce common teenage rituals like pranks, parties and crazyt bets.


John Green was born August 24, 1977 in Indianapolis. Three weeks after his birth his family moved to Michigan, Alabama then finally settled in Florida. He used his own personal adventures to put into Looking for Alaska. Green has spoken openly about being bullied and how it made his teenage life miserable. Want to know how he got the idea to write The Fault In Our Stars? John actually worked at hospital as a student chaplain while he was enrolled at University of Chicago Divinity School, although he never went because his experience of working with children with life-threatening illness inspired him to be an author and later on write The Fault In Our Stars.  He won multiple Awards for his books in his career. In 2007 Green and his brother, Hank, started video blogs to communicate on Youtube. Through his videos he caught the attention of a community called the nerdfighters, they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight poverty around the world. John and Hank continue to upload video twice a week on their youtube channel : vlogbrothers. Green has been a finalist twice in the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Last but not least Green’s books has been published in more than a dozen languages.


The main character, Miles “Pudge” Halter was not popular at all back in his hometown in Florida. His life become the complete opposite of what it use to be. He has friends now, and experience things he never thought he would come face to face to. The one person that gave pudge a reason to make Culver Creek, his boarding school, a great place was the emotionally confused, mysterious and beautiful Alaska Young. They grew an undefying attachment towards each other. Alaska was a closed person about her personal life, yet she was so outspoken and straight forward on her beliefs and what she thought. Pudge and his roommate, the Colonel, not his real name, become close as friends also. Colonel was the take charge friend and believed that he should be loyal to his friends and they should be loyal back no matter what. He didn’t have much back home, but his heart was bigger than anything and he loved his mother more than anything in the world. He is not as forgiving as Pudge, but he soon learn how to be.


The importance of reading a young adult book is the similarities you have with your own life. The author just gets what your going through and put your thoughts in ways you can’t express on your own. I think the reason I connected with this book is because it caught me at a questionable time in my life. I was having mixed feelings and didn’t know the direction I was heading. One question that is going to come up a lot in the book is how to escape a labyrinth you are out in, a labyrinth is like a maze. And I took and, and still do, that question with me through my everyday life. No matter if it was me and my mom arguing, stressed about school, whatever it was I found a way to face it and actually deal with it instead of running away from it then having to face it or deal with it again later. The confidence of the character and the strong will they have for their opinions made me stronger for mine.  

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Publisher : Dutton’s Children Book

March 2005

221

Young - Adult Fiction

Creative Piece:

In Looking for Alaska there was a divide between the rich in poor kids. It led me to think we are kids why are we worried about somebody else if we wasn’t in their shoes. People don’t enjoy their life anymore, they would rather sit around be mean to others and gossip. Why are we treating others with such disrespectful if we are all going to end up in one place? Six feet under.


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The Fault in Our Stars: Book Review

The Fault In Our Stars by

John Green

Book Review

Gabrielle Smullen


She has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, forcing her to live connected to an oxygen tank. He has osteosarcoma which forced him to lose his leg. They both know they have limited time but they live their lives through each in a way that gives you hope for the both of them.

Though Hazel would rather spend her time in her room re-reading An Imperial Affliction and watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model, her mom forces her to go to a support group with kids living with cancer that she feels may help her make friends and come out of her depression of having cancer. She then meets Augustus, good looking and immediately head over heels for Hazel. In their exchange of each other’s favorite books, they become attached at the hip. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten, Hazel’s favorite author, to their ridiculously romantic adventures that come after will have readers giddy after every page.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the author John Green is known for writing young adult fiction. He is an award winning best seller with other books such as Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson etc. Paper Towns is a very popular book about seniors that go on a road trip to explore themselves and their relationships. Some say that it is similar to his other book Looking for Alaska, which is about a man who leaves boarding school to go and find a dying poet named Francois Rabelais. John Green’s book favor adventures and all tend to have a specific meaning and destination throughout and in the end of the book. They tend to change your point on things, they make you think about the world in ways you wouldn’t think of at first thought. The characters represent real life situations and thoughts. They emphasize life and it’s mysterious ways and how people live through that. His books have won the Michael L. Printz award, Los Angeles Book Prize, Best Book for Young Adults, Teen’s Top Ten Award, Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and Borders Original Voices Selection.

The author describes each character specifically with unique dialog, by reading the book you can tell how each character talks and what they sound like. He structures the book as a devastating but powerful story with plot twists that will require tissues. Each character has their own style of language making them believable from the main characters to the parents. Everyone is uniquely significant and relevant in their own ways. The question John Green explores in this novel is: What do oblivion and living mean? The question is touched on a few times by Hazel and Augustus throughout the book as Augustus says I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.” and Hazel eventually follows by saying  “And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.

The Fault In Our Stars shows true love through two teenagers that accept their lives and each other. I recommend anyone to read this book, whether it’s your type of book or not I think anyone would enjoy it. This book shows that yes, life is short but it also explores how much you can do in such a little bit of time, especially with the person you love which makes it even better. It’s basically your average boy meets girl and they fall in love with a few twists, kind of book. They have extreme chemistry which is what makes it so sentimental and full of life. It’s a book that you immediately fall in love with and like Hazel, will want to read it a thousand times.


The Fault In Our Stars

John Green

2012

313 pages

Fiction

Diary of a wimpy kid

“Diary of a wimpy kid” is an illustrated novel By Jeff Kinney. When he was growing up, he didn’t want to write children’s book, his dream was to be a newspaper cartoon artist and publish his own comic strips independently. In 1998, Jeff Kinney came up with the idea of a book titled “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, a story about a middle school boy named Greg Heffley. Jeff had been working on his book for nearly eight years before publishing it. It was first advertised on a website called funbrain.com. Surprisingly, it had more than 80 million visits, and had around 70,000 kids reading the book. The book attracted many young audiences due to it's cartoonish illustrations. His first book was released on April 2007, and was the New York Times bestseller, it even said so on the bookcover itself! Also during this time, Jeff also created Poptropica.com, where he still continues to express new ideas everyday for the next children book, all of which is sequels of “Diary of a Wimpy kid”, because the fan base is huge and still supports it. Jeff loves his own idea of this book and wants to still make it accessible to many people.

The author connected his own childhood dreams into the book, and then compares it to his own autobiography about his earlier period of his life. Which also explains why there was a comic strip references in his book where Rowley, a character in the book wanted to do school comics, but was rejected by the protagonist saying his idea will be bad. Only later to disprove his assumptions by making him the most popular kid in school. “There was a pretty obvious drop in quality once Rowley started doing the writing. And believe it or not, Rowley’s drawing skills are worse than his writing skills. I told Rowley maybe we should come up with some new ideas, but he just wanted to keep writing “Zoo-Wee Mamas.” Then he packed up his comics and went home, which was fine by me. I don’t really want to be partnered up with a kid who doesn’t draw noses, anyway.” Pg. 170. Stories that reflect everyday reality of a school child pulls in the reader, while reminding him/her the jokes and tricks that are still relevant in his/her life which may have occurred before or after the making of this book.

“Diary of a wimpy kid” isn’t about the regular children’s story where with morals at every turn, it’s about childhood dreams and common mischief. Jeff Kinney and other people they will face ahead in life. Like when he wanted to do when he did grow up, but never could have, and he reference this in the book in a mature manner. He mentions a lot of these problems so purposely and well placed in the book, incidents like vandalism and terrorizing the neighborhood, hurting someone purposely in an accidental way, peer pressuring someone, and then being jealous of something they did you avoided them to accept. We will always be envy of someone or something because of their superior ways, common parts where he is referencing things in the book he may have or you might of experienced in life, then compares it in smaller part in pages, such as how small voices can be spread with ideal fiction about a molded cheese. By comparing the things we have nostalgia or scars,  about or learning how others deal with it makes the interests or curious readers wants to read more because of we don’t know how to understand or how to deal with the same situation Greg is facing. Even in Rowley’s perspective, we might not agree with our peers 100% of the times to make a good argument. Which may lead to frustration.

What really makes this book interesting is not that it refers readers these common things, but its how it turns phobias, peer pressure, and disrespect into something that isn’t necessarily true, into a self story he faced and fear and making it a cheap animated thrill he overlooked in. The book is about an average middle school boy named Greg Heffley, that tells his story in his Diary, where creativity comes to life by his own drawing, which he expresses in a very mannered detailed way, like how he told his mom he wanted a journal and not a diary. He spots out the main things he did or events that happened during his daily life, which typically occurs in common areas which readers will get used to reading from different perspectives. Some places including, school, houses, outside, and holidays. There are recurring character, along with the main protagonist Greg Heffley, and his best friend, Rowley Jefferson, incase you were still wondering about them earlier. There are other important characters besides the main protagonist. His family are what leads to tension, like his older brother, Rodrick Heffley who is a troublemaker. He’s a perfect example of how a immatured teenager who hangs out with his friends most of the time and picks on a younger brother, frankly being Greg and causes conflict. And there is Manny Heffley, the young delinquent who doesn’t know any better and often leads to mistakes to lead others to blame for.

The good and bad things that happens in life, in which is read of a narrative tone that is spoke mostly in a first person view, comic gimmicks to exemplify cheap appropriate stereotypes, like how kids can be creative, make fake rumors and be very immature with other superiors to highlight what problems people faced and how they tend to avoid danger. Most of which are reflections on what certain consequences are and the things you may face or decide that can lead to other shenanigans, (or you can be totally ignorant like me and not realize any of these). Like molded cheese and how you can get the cheese touch, this part of the book deals a lot of drama and causes excellent tension and ending climax on how stories are brought up with embarrassing faintly whispers of ghastly murmurs, which are commonly brought up. That kids don't play on the playground anymore (which they tend to avoid being mistaken for) a common misconception of a molded cheese lying on the school’s basketball court. The only context given to Greg is that if you touch it, you will get the cheese touch and people will start passing it to whoever touches them, which will make others avoid the victim until it passes on to another host, which will lead to others avoiding you for whatever they believe. This is an example of common stereotypes and other misconceptions, like if girls touch boys, they could have the cooties. The author implies in this part that it’s fun remembering the things we used to believe and make something that may have impacted us in our youth about some phobias we were too young to understand, into an inside joke to a world. The book was made to attract more of young readers due to it’s non complex cartoonish style of black and white novel with illustrations, but it’s not weighed down with deep metaphors and brings up things older audiences can appreciate.  I was 10 years old when I first read this book and still remember the whole thing because of it’s non-complexity and joy that was brought up. It’s a fun book to read because it has pictures.

Illustrated novel, Diary of a wimpy kid, by Jeff Kinney, 217 pages


Source(s):

  1. http://www.wimpykid.com/about-the-author/ (Kinney, Jeff. "About the Author | Wimpy Kid." Wimpy Kid. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.)

  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196141/fullcredits/ ("Full Cast & Crew." IMDb. IMDb.com. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.)


The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler’s Wife


The book The Time Traveler’s Wife is a young adult fiction novel by Audrey Niffenegger. This was the debut book by Niffenegger and was first published on January 1, 2003, but was also made into a movie in 2009. The movie received several awards, and the book received the Exclusive Books Boeke Prize. The author, Audrey Niffenegger, is currently writing a sequel to the Time Traveler’s Wife, and it will be published soon. Niffenegger was born on June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan. She is a writer, artist, and academic.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a romance and science fiction book for young adults. The two main characters, Henry and Clare, share an extraordinary love story that seem to be quite impossible. The story of these characters start when Henry, the mysterious librarian meets a smart, beautiful, and creative art student, Clare. The love story between these two seems impossible with many hardships and challenges that come along their way because Henry is a time traveler, but the bond of love keeps them strong. Henry’s disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, while Clare is patient and understanding. As they try to live a normal life like other couples, they are always threatened by a force that can not be controlled or stopped by human force or will.

The book takes on a different perspective than other books do in romance and science fiction. Yes, there are books that are science fiction and romance, but this book was written in the perspective of two people, Clare and Henry. Because of this structure, the readers are able to see the personalities and thoughts of the two main characters very easily. Additionally, each chapter is split by mostly a linear time period. Throughout a chapter, there would be different times to signal how much time has passed after the preceding event; this makes it easy to see the time that have passed and the important events that have passed before the next significant event.

Another observation to note is that sometimes, the characters would speak in French. This makes the book seem more realistic because it shows the characters’ interaction in a different language.

Lastly, there is a lot of foreshadowing in the book. This makes it more intense and engaging because it makes the reader want to read more and find out what happens later on. Honestly, the most beneficial approach to take while reading is keeping track of the foreshadows because these can be useful towards the end of the story.

Although The Time Traveler’s Wife is a very engaging, there were some times when the author could have done better. For example, sometimes there was not enough details about what was happening. The book was confusing at times as to why something was happening and why it was important because there wasn’t enough explanation for a course of action or an event. Another being the author sometimes including events that were not really necessary for the book’s plot itself. On the other hand, there were many elements of the book that absolutely exceeded expectations. The book had many foreshadowings, but not all of them were obvious, so she was able to surprise the readers towards the end of the story with something her audience did not expect. However, with the obvious foreshadowings, the author was able to keep the readers in engaged by making them want to know what happens later on in the plot. Finally, the mysteriousness of the book made everything very skittish. In a sense, this idea links to the foreshadowing - it makes the book more mysterious. Not only was the book mysterious, the main character was also very mystifying. Henry was very unpredictable. He is spontaneous and unpredictable, and his personality and his time traveling are what made the book very compelling. The book makes the readers constantly want to read more and know more about what happens in the end. This book did a very good job at keeping the reader’s attention the whole time.

This book is very outstanding because it had a combination of romance, science fiction, and a little bit of mystery. A amalgamation of these genres make The Time Traveler’s Wife the most extraordinary book. The book was engaging the whole time, so the reader would not have to worry about reading a boring book when he or she starts the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading romance or science-fiction books. However, I would not recommend it to anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable reading explicit books that have a lot of uncensored sex scenes. Since the book values the theme love, there are many sex scenes.

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Publisher: Zola Books

Date of Publication: January 1, 2003

Number of Pages: (Ebook, special edition) 518

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Fiction, Contemporary


For my creative piece, I made wings because I think it symbolized the book. After Henry's feet amputations, Clare made him wings. She didn't want him to be trapped again; she wanted Henry to be able to fly away and feel freedom.

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20141104_132709

Book Review: The Name of the Star

History does repeat itself; especially when it comes to mass murders in London. The Name of the Star is a part of the series “Shades of London”. Maureen Johnson visited London. That is where the idea of the series was born. While vacationing, she learned about Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper was an unidentified murderer in 1888 in London. The book is a mysterious novel about a girl named Rory who goes to London with her parents for a semester. While in London, Rory attends boarding school where she develops a strong bond with her roommate Jazza. But Rory arrived at just the right time, the time of the Ripper’s killing spree.

Jack the Ripper was a man who killed went on a killing spree in 1888. It is now 1988, and someone is mimicking the Ripper’s agenda. The police are scattered across the city but they have no suspects. There are no witnesses, except for Rory. Rory is the only person who has seen the Ripper.

The book explores different obstacles that Rory goes through regarding school, love, and finding herself, the normal teenage experiences.  One of the major themes in the book involves Rory trying to finding herself. She questions her abilities, thoughts, and actions. Rory is a teenager, and every teen goes through that phase. Johnson portrayed this phase in an interesting way because at the time Rory is trying to figure herself out, continuous murders are happening around her, she becomes a target for the Ripper, and she has friends and family who are worried about her.

Rory and all the other students are innocently in school while the murders are getting closer to campus. The police camp out in front of the school for days to make sure the students and staff are safe, and also because the most recent Ripper victim was murdered nearby. The police have no leads because no one has spotted the Ripper, not even the dozens of security cameras that surround the area. “The white tent was there all day Sunday. It glowed at dusk, when it was illuminated by dozens of high-powered work lights. The press was there too, hovering on the edges of campus, watching. The school sent around an e-mail saying how really, really safe it all was, even though there was a homicide investigation going on on the green at that very second, and several psychologists were being called in to talk to anyone who felt like they needed support.” The reason I picked this quote from the book is because of the content behind it. Without knowing what is going on in the book, you can have sympathy for the staff and students because the killing spree is happening right around them. A lot of the students were also very interested in what was happening. The students were having “ripper watch-parties” to hear about the latest update on the news, they were kids staring out the windows of their dorms, etc. As anyone of us would. The book is narrated by  Rory too, so everything that you learn about in the book is from the ins and outs of Wexford school.

I enjoyed this book. It was definitely a page turner! Johnson doesn’t reveal who the murderer is until very close to the end but it isn’t the very last thing you read so it does show you the aftermath of all that has happened. My favorite thing about it, is the fact that the Ripper targets Rory and goes after her. She saw him but didn’t rush to the police because she didn’t think seeing him was important to the investigation. It was a random guy, that doesn’t mean he’s the Ripper, right? So now it makes me wonder if she would have never reported to the police about the man she saw, how would that change the book. I think it’d also be interesting to hear the story from someone else’s point of view, like Jerome, her crush. Or Jazza, her roommate. Or, the Ripper himself. That’d be really good! This book makes me also want to read a few other Maureen Johnson books because I like the way she takes personal experiences and makes them so exciting and mysterious.

The Name of The Star was nominated for an Edgar Award. This book would be enjoyed by those who love a good mystery. It is different because of the fact that the narrator is a schoolgirl and how all of a sudden, she becomes a target of a serial killer. The book is set in the late 1980’s so the language is not hard to understand. The book would also be enjoyable to those who appreciate a good young adult book. You have the opportunity to connect to the different characters because the author gives background and talks about different obstacles they had to overcome.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Published by The Penguin Group on September 11, 2011. The novel consists of 372 pages plus acknowledgements. The book falls under multiple genres which are young adult, mysterious, and fiction.