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The Kite Runner

 The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini


“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” A gripping and enthralling book about betrayal and self-redemption, The Kite Runner had me hooked from the first page. Khaled Hosseini, the author, was born in 1965 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Kite Runner is the first book this author wrote, it was published in 2003. It also received many awards, one of them being the “Literature to Life Award.” In respect to the authors homeland, this is a novel about Afghanistan and the trials and tribulations a nation, and its people go through. The Kite Runner takes on a broad theme of life, love, humanity, courage, and brotherhood. It begins in early Afghanistan, around the 1970’s, before the Russian military invaded and the formation of the monarchy. The political development of Afghanistan is the backdrop of the story, however, culture and pre-war Afghanistan are one of the main focal points in the story. Against a long trail of national despair, Hosseini is able to compose a universal story of redemption and betrayal that far exceeds its setting.

As the novel begins, protagonist, Amir, the son of a wealthy merchant, is approaching manhood. His friend and servant, Hassan, is from the socially inferior group the Hazara tribe and Shi’a sect of Islam. This foreshadows the tension that will remain the center of the story. Amir and his father, are apart of the Pashtun tribe and Sunni branch of Islam. Amir, Hassan and both their fathers live together in the wealthy section of Kabul. The Hazaras act as servants to the Pashtuns, however, are treated like family which clashes with what’s socially accepted.

While Amir and Hassan played together and were friends, the difference in social ranking between them gave their relationship a wary tension. Amir’s father, also called “Baba”, treats Hassan like a second son. This causes awe and hate to spring up within Amir for his father. Similarly, Amir is secretly jealous  of Hassan’s courage and ability to hold Baba’s love. The author is able to capture this complicated family dynamic very vividly. On numerous occasions, Hassan defends Amir against bullies. One winter day in the mid 1970’s, Amir’s neighborhood had their annual kite tournament. Amir’s spinelessness reaches its highest point when he sees a group of bullies overwhelm Hassan and threaten to rape him. Instead of helping his friend in need, Amir runs away.

There are very few characters in fiction that are as revolting as Amir. Khaled Hosseini is able to take on hatred, envy, and rivalry so much that the reader will feel a lack of empathy towards Amir and his situation. As the Russian invasion begins, Amir and his father leave Afghanistan and settle in the United States. In their stay in the U.S. the roles become reversed. The once independent and prosperous Baba, can only find a measly job at a gas station while Amir easily blends in and becomes an English Major, which later turns to a successful writer. Although life seems to be going great for Amir, the betrayal still weighs heavily on him for the next 20 or so years.

Throughout the novel, there have been many moments when things went dark. When a call from an old friend is presented before us, the theme of redemption is revealed. Rahim Khan, an old family friend, called him from Pakistan telling him that “There is a way to be good again.” Amir takes this chance to go to back and make right all the wrongs he committed. During his return,  Amir is confronted with doing the honorable thing and saving Hassan’s orphaned child or returning home empty handed. After his decision to save Sohrab, the orphaned child, Amir encounters a former nemesis, who is now apart of the Taliban. The story takes on a dark path as Hosseini describes how Sohrab was being sexually harassed by a large group of men that belonged to the Taliban, among them is Amir’s nemesis. After a long and painful confrontation, Amir succeeds in liberating Sohrab and bringing him to America to live with him. While this may seem like a good thing, Sohrab yearns for his old life, which Amir is unable to provide.

As the book comes to an end, the reader will have a change of heart towards Amir. The cowardly and spineless demeanor he had changes to one of courage. Khaled Hosseini achieved a goal that many authors are unable to do, rehumanize the Middle East in a way that contradicts the Western view. Hosseini does an incredible job of describing Afghanistan in a warm and beautiful light, which is often ignored by people in the West. This novel is not written so the style of writing is to be the main focus, it’s the plot and character development that should draw the reader in. The simple language balances out the complex characters and settings, in The Kite Runner.

Title: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher: Riverhead Books 2003

Number of Pages: 400 pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical fiction



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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

part-time-indian-1

The Story of a Nomad…

The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part Time Indian is a story of a young “nomad” in a quest to find truth, strength, and to gain what he deserves. Written by Sherman Alexie , he has explored the tense struggle between the white and Indian worlds for 15 years. A New York Ties Best Seller, The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part Time Indian, is one of Sherman Alexie best books yet. This book puts readers in the shoes of the Native Americans, you get to know their struggles and how it has affected every aspect of their lives. 

Arnold Spirit (a.k.a Junior)  is a young Native American boy growing up on the Spokane Reservation. Junior was born with many medical problems and everyone picks on him for that. It seems that a person like him would be an outcast and no one would like him, but he has one best friend who will always be there for him, Rowdy. The only way Arnold can have a perfect life is through the cartoons he draws. However, life on the reservation is very difficult. Everyone single person is living in poverty, there’s so much death, hunger, addictions, and a great lack of education. 

One day in school, Junior beams his geometry book at the teacher and gets suspended from school. “My school and my tribe are so poor and sad that we have to study from the same dang books our parents studied from,” Arnold says. “That is absolutely the saddest thing in the world.” When the teacher (Mr. P) who was hit with the book, appears at Arnold's home, Arnold was absolutely afraid that his teacher would beat him up like other kids did. However, Mr. P came to give Arnold a piece of advice. He tells Arnold to leave the reservations because he has seen to many promising students - such as Arnold’s sister, Mary Runs Away - fade year by year, beaten down by poverty and hopelessness. “The only thing you kids are being taught is how to give up,” Mr. P. says. The is the beginning of Arnold’s journey to seek truth and strength. 

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” follows Arnold on his journey from leaving the reservation. He transfer to from Wellpit to Rearden High school, 22 miles away where a bunch of wealthy white kids attend.  He is the only Native American there and he fears that he will become a victim of the big bulky jocks. His “rez toughness” gained him some respect to even land him a spot on the varsity basketball team. 

But back at home, he can’t win back the loves of his neighbors. He is considered a traitor. Everyone believes that Arnold feels superior to the rest of the Indians now that he goes to a “white” school filled with computers and new text books. Arnold’s best friend even turns his back on him. When Reardan plays Wellpinit High in basketball, the Indians boo him the whole game, a race riot nearly breaks out. Triumph and grief come in equal measure. Arnold concludes that he’s smarter than most of the white kids, and wins the heart of a white girl named Penelope. Arnold also becomes friends with a kid named Gordy who is the school genius. Meanwhile on the reservation, his father’s best friend is shot and killed, and his sister dies in a trailer fire. Shuttling between Wellpinit and Reardan, Arnold begins feeling like a part-time Indian. He is Junior on the rez, where he is an outcast, and at school in Reardan he is Arnold.

The way the story is narrated, it feels as if the writer is engaging in a conversation with you. It’s genius because not only does the reading flows, but the narrative itself is apart of a story. Arnold narrating the story delivers one clear message that has brought him, his family, and his ancestors down. That Indians are good for nothing and they deserve what they have. Time and time again, Arnold will say something that shows how ingrained self-hatred is. This, as much as facing racial problems, poverty is perhaps Junior’s most important challenge. I get a sense of purpose in the storytelling.

You know you are reading an amazing book when it breaks you heart into a tiny million pieces. This book doesn’t really sugar code anything. You’re punched in the face with hard reality all throughout the book. It’s starts from the moment the father had to shoot their dog, Oscar, because they didn’t have the money to take him to the hospital, then to when the father would be gone all Christmas because he didn’t have money to buy the family presents. And finally how everyone kept dying of the same thing. Alcohol. But to lighten the mood a little, there are Arnold’s drawings inserted in the book that bring much needed humor. 

The most impressive thing about this book, is that all the horrible, tragic things that happens to Arnold, it doesn’t really shock him. The worst thing is that he accepts it as if it’s apart of his daily life. It’s just completely normal to him. 

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know about how racial issues can affect self identity. Also to anyone who just wants to know more about Native Americans on a personal level.  “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is a truly amazing book about overcoming boundaries which leads to finding a greater strength within. 


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexei, Little, Brown And Company, 2007, 230 pages, Race Relations Fiction, Diaries Fiction. 

My Creative Piece is a representation of how I intercepted the over all message of the book. I still felt like Arnold's dreams weren't fully fulfilled. So using the laser cutter at my job, I rastered an image of a dream catcher that with a phase "Dreams Almost Captured". 

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Carrie- Stephen King


This book made the great horror writer Stephen King what he is today. The book Carrie written by Stephen King tells the tortured tale of a social outcast named Carrie White who has the ability of telekinesis. Throughout the story she is pestered by schoolmates while being abused by her unstable Christian mother. You can see throughout this try that all of the characters have realistic motives for example a character disliking the the concept of sex because she was raped. In fact one of my favorite characters in the story was Carrie’s Mother, she has the most backstory and does the most provoking in the plot, as shown through her increasing violence towards Carrie.  As you go through the story you find the different troubling backstories, they turn characters who appears purely evil to people who are suffering themselves. The build up is also amazing, as you move through the story you may hear about a character trait that may not seem important, but they lead to extremely plot centered.

Though Stephen King is known by many to be an amazing writer this book had almost not happened. King originally wrote for Men’s Magazines and barely got by with his earnings, for his family and eventually he thought of making an actual novel. He took inspiration from people from his high school and began writing about a shy girl with telekinetic powers. After many rewrite he threw this story away convince that he could not write from the female perspective while being a man. Only through the persuasion of his wife did he actually attempt to finish it. He then attempted to publish his book about a girl with telekinetic powers and was rejected 30 times, until finally he was published by Doubleday. King from then would publish about 200 books of varying genres including contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.

The story itself is great, it tells a timeless tale that can still apply to things happening today. The story takes place in 1979, which is approximately five years after the date it was written. The story is told through notes, documents and even through the third person from the view of Carrie, which in King’s later books do not use with the exception of the third person view. The books varies in how scary yet intriguing it can be; you fear the character, but you want to know what happened to them to make them that way. The book’s main focus is on building character and not on gore not scare you. It does not make the horror monster into a villain, it more like a normal person is being pushed to do evil things. King also breaks the norm by keeping the book focused on what is happening and not what it looks like, but instead King kept it tame and clean and until the extreme ending. What is amazing though is that unlike many of King’s Novels Carrie got not just a theatrical release, but has had two remakes, a tv series, and even Broadway musical adaption.

Overall, this book is probably one of the most important in Stephen King’s Career, it has come so far and done so much. Carrie is a good book to introduce someone to horror and also a good start to the horror franchise. This book does not make the mistake of scaring you with surprising visual, but instead leading you in and making you feel uncomfortable as you move along. King’s works have helped him contribute to what horror is today, changing what the villain of the story can be. He has kept fans of his stories very happy, and even to this day he is still producing his books and changing genres.

Title: Carrie

Author: Stephen King

Published: April 5, 1957

Pages: 199 pages

Genre: Horror, Epistolary, and Tragedy

Carrie is cool
(Click On the Image and scroll down to see the comic) (13 pages)
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Impossible

Books about teen angst and paranormal situations never fail to be interesting and heart wrenching to the readers that endure their words. The reason for this? The characters, the set up, the unimaginable twists that the author puts into every situation to make the reader never want to even have the thought of parting with their book. The authors that express all the elements of a story that are needed to make the reader feel emotion towards the characters, to be connected to them in unthinkable ways, are astounding. Nancy Werlin is one of those authors. Werlin expresses all of those remarkable talents in Impossible, a book about a teenage girl named Lucy Scarborough, cursed to repeat the same fate as her mother and ancestors were faced with unless she breaks the curse by completing 3 impossible tasks before she gives birth to her child and loses her mind.

This book takes place in the modern day life of teenager Lucinda Scarborough, or Lucy for short. She struggles with everyday issues that can help relate to a lot teenagers giving it a automatic connection to the audience. She grows up well, but only because of the people who took her in as her mother sub came to the age old curse of the Scarborough girls. Lucy’s normal life is interrupted when tragedy strikes during her junior prom that causes her to become pregnant and the father of the child to die. This leaves Lucy distraught until she finds out about the curse put on her family then decides that she will be the one to break it and defeat the Elfin Knight. Lucy, is a very strong character and that is established within the first couple of chapters. She shows determination and stays true to her beliefs through the entire book and is a very likable character. She along with other main characters all have their sections but Nancy Werlin does this in way that the book is not chopped up. Since this book is written in third person there can be a focus on more of the emotions of the other characters in a certain instead of being just one giving the audience a different viewpoint to the situation at hand.

Starting off this book gets right to the point in dropping hints on what the main plot is, but does not thrust you into someones life and the climax. There is a steady build up that gives the reader a good sense of the characters. Every character is thought out to the full extent giving the idea that the reader knows them, giving them a connection to everyone in the book no matter how small their part may be in the very end. The character development is a key part of this book because without such well done characters this book would not have the pull that it does. Also the story is well executed without having parts seemingly forced on the reader.

Werlin did very well on this book considering it is a young adult novel. Most young adult novels have a pull but this one has a net that anchors you in until you can’t get away. Impossible is also a paranormal story that also seems like it could happen to anyone. There is nothing over the top about the paranormal aspects leaving it very subtle and pleasing. In most books, in this genre the center of the story is the love story of the main character. This book although does have a love interest, it does not center itself just around that. It centers around the problem at hand and all the people involved in it which is an unusual yet can be enjoyable to the reader.

Werlin uses all types of language and writing styles in this book, from basing the story on the ballad “Scarborough Fair” to using diary entries to help explain another character's point of view in the story. She uses these to help explain the story a lot more and it works. The ballad is a recurring theme in this book and is done so very well. The author of the book use the song as a guideline, making sure to pay attention to it. It does not pop up where it is not needed and when it does come up it is to give some insight into the next section on the book. In the beginning the song is placed before the prologue. There is a choice being give on whether or not the reader wants to read it or ignore it. The best option is to read it and keep going back to it as the story progresses. Werlin also uses diary entries in this book, to give the point of view of someone who otherwise would be no help at all in their current state. They help the story move along very well paced and there is even a chapter devoted to these pages which Werlin did a good job of executing.

Overall this book is amazingly written. It keeps the theme going and never strays from it’s main purpose and main storyline. Nancy Werlin out did herself and after reading this book it is advised to check out the prequel called Unthinkable, telling the story behind the curse. It is an unimaginable to think that this book ended so quickly but the ending was well justified and not unpleasing. It is recommend to young adults or anyone with a sense of adventure, love, humor, and is not afraid to fall in love with its characters.

“I’ve been trying and trying to tell you. Pay attention to the song. Now it’s your turn. You’ve been warned. I’m supposed to warn you. You’re allowed to try to escape. You have to try, in fact. None of us have ever managed it, though. Will you be any different?” - Miranda Scarborough

Impossible, Nancy Werlin, Dial Books, 2008, 376 p


IMG_1370

Explanation:

This depicts the main character Lucy, pregnant and holding a sword in determination to win against the Elfin Knight and to save her mother and set free all the women of her family that once were trapped by the curse. The boy is Zach Greenfield, the love interest who is shielding Lucy with his love for her and the is shown because he is looking down at her instead of at the evil being in front of him. At the very bottom you see that Lucy is standing on a book, her biological mother’s diary, which is being held up by two figures that represent her loving foster parents that will love and support her no matter what decision she makes. Her foster dad has the lyrics of of the Scarborough fair and he is singing the curse. This is because he is the one who first introduced the song to Lucy as a way to have a connection to her birth mother.


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Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

“Dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense. I dare you to stop reading.” Tahereh Mafi, composes her ideas into words that brings out emotions of different kinds. A power to shake up the world, a touch that freezes the body, a feel that conquers the heart, the sentences on each page has quality, depth, and interest, your fingers will flip those pages without a rest. The precise amount of details and Mafi’s use of figurative language truly captivates the reader’s attention. Her writing embodies the definition of creative writing.

Unravel Me is a book filled with amusing plots that explores different ideas of reality in a fictional story. It narrates a story of a girl with a romance tale, a girl who faces conflicts, and a girl with a very special gift. Her name is Juliette. She possess a power like no other at the tip of her fingers. In a split second, her clenched fist can create an abyss and send the world trembling. But all that is just another reason why she is closed up from everyone else. It is in her least interest to hurt anyone. It seems to her that this power just hunts her and that it’s just another mishap in her life. The only good it has done is Adam, the one that sends her heart beating a skip too fast. This lethal power brought the two together but coincidentally it has created a trap there too.

The mood of the book is moderately dark and dejected, and dystopia may not be the most favored genre for certain people but the experience of reading this book is everything except that. Mafi makes the readers wonder how she has the power to develop such passionate feelings for this fictional story. She leaves the readers in wonderment and one of the main ways that she does that is through her descriptive words. Mafi’s descriptions are not just describing, they are another way to engross the readers and illustrate the perfect picture. She uses metaphors, personifications, the five senses and more when she is describing.  

Throughout the book, Mafi presents unpredictable new situations but the storyline is solid and the composition is very unique. One of those unique qualities being striking through words in the book. Unravel Me is sort of like Juliette's diary, everything is stated but certain words or sentences are crossed out with a thin line. These strikes serve a purpose in showing the readers how Juliette feels but doesn’t want to mention or admit those crossed out words to herself. Mafi also separates the book into many small chapters to keep the readers going. She writes in first person point of view to share the thoughts going on in Juliette, the main character’s mind. She utilizes vivid sensory language to send chills down your spine and make you feel. The structure of this book is an integration of all these techniques.  

A major principle of this book lies in learning how to cope with obstacles. All throughout the book Juliette is facing some type of problem, either its the feeling of loneliness, the fear of hurting someone or loving someone. Each of these internal and external conflicts help her progress and learn about herself. She transforms from a shy, antisocial teenager to a brave, confident young lady. These points in transformation are points where she decides to try out something different. As the reader, these points are very clear because of the contrast between her action and her personality. Mafi does a great job emphasizing these parts as well.    

Shatter Me and Unravel Me are the first two novels in a trilogy about Juliette. This series by Tahereh Mafi is a New York Times and a USA Today bestselling series. Mafi wrote in the back of her book, “when unable to find a book, she can be found reading candy wrappers, coupons, and old receipts.” That maybe a source or inspiration to her creative writing.    

Overall, the book is amazing. There are so many things that happened in the book you just have to read it and experience it. Discover love, hate, and power all in one and see Juliette’s journey throughout the book. Unravel Me is made up of seventy three chapters and each of those seventy three chapters serve a purpose in enhancing the storyline by giving the readers a better understanding of what’s going on. Anyone would enjoy it. But specifically people who enjoy romance stories and supernatural characters, so if you’re one of those people, go check it out!  


Title: Unravel Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Date of publication: 2/5/13

Number of pages: 461

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance


Creative Part:

  • The found poem, Juliette, touches the different points the author and the narrator presents in the book in a few simple phrases extracted from the book. Juliette outlines the book, it mentions the main character/ the narrator, Juliette’s supernatural power, her feelings throughout the book and her love story.   

Found Poem:

Juliette

My blood, a million degrees below zero

The earth fissures under my fingers

I have the power … to destroy everything.  

So, says society, I am a monster

I’m buried 50 feet underground

Everyday, I stare at these 4 walls

I'm never quite certain whether or not I'm actually alive.

My skin and bones craving warm affection.

“Juliette,” he says

he mouths the name,

barely speaking

he’s pouring molten lava into my limbs

Never knew I could melt straight to death.

2

4

6 seconds

The air is still.

My skin is scared.

“It’s never been a secret. I want you,” he whispers and letter by letter he presses the words into my skin.


Sources:

Unravel Me, Tahereh Mafi
Background music for creative piece from Lana Del Rey
https://docs.google.com/a/scienceleadership.org/file/d/0B0tTpyV_DnpvU1NiUllhM2k5NE0/edit
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Girl In Translation

Being foreign in a new big city, has its perks and challenges. In the book, Girl In Translation a novel written by Jean Kwok, shows how a girl named Kimberly Chang along with her mother emigrate to the Chinatown area of Brooklyn, New York. The main character Kimberly is stuck between a double life, by day she is a preppy school girl and at night she works illegally at a sweatshop, along with her mother. This book will thrive and inspire the reader. Kimberly Chang wants to grow up and live the American dream.

Kimberly is only eleven years old when she and her mother, Ma, arrive from Hong Kong in search of a better life. Since moving to Brooklyn, New York from Hong Kong, Kimberly ends up in a world where she doesn’t understand anything at all. Her mother and herself struggle to survive as they are starting a new life. Ma, works at a local sweatshop owned by her sister. Living a double life Kimberly attends a preppy school. At this preppy school she meets white rich kids, who she develops really close relationships with. Although she is careful that she keeps the boundary of their friendship at school. “Going to the factory after school would become something so automatic that sometimes, even when I needed to go someplace else years later, I would find myself on the trains to the factory by accident, as if that were the place to which all roads led.” Kimberly feels embarrassed that she has to work in a sweatshop after school, she doesn’t want her friends at her preppy school to know that she is in poverty. However, at the sweatshop she does meet a boy named Matt, who is around the same age as Kimberly. Throughout the story they develop an interesting relationship with its ups and downs.

Jean Kwok the author of this book, Girl In Translation is an amazing author. She writes books that have to do with her real life past experiences, but she incorporates them into fiction. The use of words and descriptive language, allows the reader to go into depth with what they are reading. It allows them to imagine certain scenes and chapters of the book as if you were watching a movie or there experiencing it. I feel like the language that she uses makes the book feel so much more realistic. Sometimes I forget that this book is a novel and that it is fiction, even though some things are aspired from Jean Kwok’s life, there are times when I feel like I am reading her diary. I really appreciate Jean Kwok as an author because she loves writing about her experience and culture. In a way I feel like I can relate to her and her experiences. I feel like anyone can read her books and take along the message that she is trying to bring through when she write these books. Jean Kwok’s writing leaves me to inhale a lot about what happened in the last chapter. There are times when you say to yourself  “I want to watch this as a movie.” Also, there aren’t many novels or cultural inspired books out there, so it would be good for more people to find and read books similar to “Girl In Translation.”

Jean Kwok has recently written a second book, similar to Girl In Transition, called “Mambo In Chinatown”. I haven’t read the book myself, but I have read excerpts from the book. This book is very similar to the “Girl In Translation” because the setting of both books take place in Chinatown of New York. Both books share stories about Chinese Americans and the themes behind both books is love. Jean Kwok wants her readers to really know about the Chinese American culture. She wants the readers to know how it’s not always easy being at the bottom, but slowly you will find your way up. Through these two books she shows how love outshines all hardships.

There are many themes that are discussed in this novel, however, I believe that the main theme is the struggle of surviving and love. We can see this theme everyday in our daily lives. You can see how Kimberly struggles with survival. She doesn’t live or work at the best conditions. But at the time and situation that she is in, all she can do is try to make the most of it. At school, she disguises who she is at her home situation because she is ashamed and embarrassed by the staggering truth of how impoverished she is, compared to the other kids at school. Love is the main struggle for Kimberly and throughout this book. She has many different relationships with different people in her life. Some are harder than others and some work out and others don’t. Kimberly has to deal with what she can have or can not have. She finds the true meaning of love with her mother and Matt. Jean Kwok doesn’t leave the ending without one of the biggest plot twist. You’ll just have to read to find out!

Title: Girl In Translation

Author: Jean Kwok

Publisher: Riverhead Trade (May 3, 2011)

Number of Pages: 320 pages

Genre: Fiction

Creative piece: For my creative piece I decided to draw different images and pictures that are important, and very concentrated in the book. I also wrote some important quotes that connected with the main themes in the book.  

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"The Sweet Dead Life" by Joy Prebel



When you hear don’t judge a book by it’s cover, sometimes you can sometimes you can’t. The title it can tell you what you’re going to read about, other times it’s an important hint that will help you solve the puzzle in the book, in this case this book doesn’t do neither. The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Prebel will have you questioning if you can trust anyone, even the people who sell you shoes. You read the journal entries of 14 year old Jenna Samuels whose life isn’t the best. Her mom spends all day in bed, her father is missing and her her older brother tries to keep the family together but he is too high to focus on anything. To add to all of Jenna’s stress she becomes sick, to a point where she collapses and her brother tries to rush her to the hospital but instead ends up crashing the car. Jenna wakes up to her brother who doesn’t have any scars and he’s glowing, almost a heavenly glow. Jenna comes to realize that her brother did not survive the accident and that she’s not sick but poised. The sent her brother back to help Jenna find the person who has it out for her.


The Sweet Dead Life is Prebel’s 4th book out of 6, the first three were part of the 3 book Anastasia series, and her newest one coming in 2015 Finding Paris. Prebel’s preference for writing is fantasy and mistery following stories of strong female characters. Mystery is her favorite genre because it’s fun to write but it brought life to her simple Texas life. Many of her favorite authors were mystery writters which encourage her to write her own stories. Her writing like most authors isn’t the ordinary stuff that talks about girl meets boy and falls in love or vampires, fairies and monsters, she tells stories using myths and legends that go back to the 1900’s. In this book Prebel talks about angles and normally angles are more a religious belief that when you die and you were forgiven for your sins you got to heaven. Some people believe in this others don’t and instead of Prebel trying to push that angels are real and we should believe in them she puts a fun twist on them that has you saying, “I would have never thought of that”


The first time I read this book the second one was not out yet, but it now out and I am looking forward to reading the second book. Like many mystery series if the writer doesn’t catch your attention you get bored and you want to skip to the end of the book. This book has it’s moments where you want to skip ahead but I advice not to do this beascue you will miss important parts that if you don’t know it you will be confused, and the ending will confuse you more, it’s one of those endings if you don’t know what happened you won’t understand it. Not like many books I have read in the past the ending of this book actually does the book justice. It answers all the questions brought up in the book about Jenna’s dad and where he has disappeared to, Jenna’s poising and why it happened to her and the truth behind the car accident. It’s like watching a crime show, the writer gives you clues to solve the crime you get to know the bad guys of the show and you guess who the killer was, but with this book there’s more than one culprit and you won’t know until you keep reading. The Book keeps you engaged and gets you thinking if the crime is a lot more complicated than your simple poisoning.


The Sweet Dead Life is a great book for people who aren’t afraid of trying something new. It talks about topics some people might not believe in and it does have few sexual references, and the plot line could be boring to people who aren’t willing to wait for the best parts.  so I recommend it for people 15 and older and maybe mature 14 year olds who will take this book seriously and who will take their time to read and take in the books details. The book cost me about $18 because it was the hardcover but it was worth it. And when you get to those parts it will leave you speechless, it was worth the wait. I wish they would make a movie about it because I would love to see the way they portray each character. The Sweet Dead Life will have you thinking maybe it wouldn’t be so bad becoming an A-Word.

The Sweet Dead Life

Author: Joy Prebel

Pages: 244

Published: May 14th 2013 by Soho Teen

Original Cover by: Joy Prebel

Creative:

For my creative I re-did the cover of the book. I felt like the original cover was a little dull for such a good book, and it just left the book looking like another boring book about death ans coming to life. Let's face it people do judge books by it's cover and if it doesn't grab the readers eye one way or another they'll look straight past it on the shelf. So with a little bit of help from photoshop, google images and the details from the book I’ve created a different cover that suits the book.

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Soy Mark Sanchez

Write an autobiographical post. You can write about yourself or assume the role of a famous person.

You must include:
  • a photo
  • an intro paragraph including name, age and origin
  • a paragraph about their physical characteristics and personality
  • a paragraph about their likes and dislikes
  • words from the "Más Palabras para Ti" page of your unit packet. BOLD THEM.
  • Close with a question. Your choice! You can ask the reader about their personality, about their likes/dislikes. You can ask if they like specific things (¿Te gusta...?). 
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Hola, me llamo Mark Sanchez. Tengo 27 años. Soy de California pero vivo en Filadelfia.

Soy alto, deportista y bastante famoso. Las chicas dicen que (say that) soy muy guapo. Es cierto.

Me gusta jugar fútbol americano. Soy muy talentoso. No me gusta nada ver la tele porque es aburrido. Prefiero correr y pasar tiempo con mi familia. Me encanta escuchar música. Me fascina Aldrey y Pit Bull sin embargo (however) no me gusta nada la música de Shakira.

¿Te gusta practicar deportes?
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Room

Have you ever felt trapped in a certain place that you can go in but never escape? Were you ever in love with a specific thing? For example, someone special, or maybe the inside of a shed. “Room” is a very interesting book because as a reader, you will be able to witness eclectic thoughts of what a mother and a son thinks about their world. “Room” comes from the point of view of a five-year-old child explaining about his world with bits and pieces of his mother’s as well. The mother and son are trapped in room, but what exactly is it? Room is just an 11-by-11 foot shed fabricated with wood and the insides filled with a tv, bed, fridge, table, etc. It’s basically a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom overflowing in a single room.

This is a non placid story. You don’t ever feel calm reading “room”. To me, I feel I’m reading the book in the actual room, and seeing the characters do their sudden movements. This is a unique book to read because it helps me and you as the reader, visualize living in that single space. Basically having that feeling reading or actually living inside a jail cell by yourself, or at least with one person. As a reader you definitely will have a chilly feeling go through your body giving you goosebumps. The book also helps give a first person point of view of the main character walking, running, or doing nothing around room. For example the character is sleeping, what does he feel? Is he sleeping on a bed, on the floor, or maybe on the wall? From the first person point view you might read inadequate grammar, but you can picture the character’s action, and maybe his emotions. If you can not pull out key words, then you will not be able to figure out the action or emotion. While I was reading “room” I was able to know, see, feel what the characters are doing. It will not be hard for you to figure it out as well.

This story was written by none other than Emma Donoghue. Emma is an irish-writer that actually lives in Canada.  She has published six books of fiction, two works of literary history, two anthologies, and two plays. I recently emailed Emma to get her thoughts about the book she wrote. I asked her “what inspired you to write in the point of view of a five year old child, and to write a bone chilling experience about two people living in the conditions of just one single room?” Unfortunately, Emma didn’t send a response back to me. In my opinion, I think what made Emma Donoghue write this, was to show us another way of a lifestyle, in a certain living condition. What I mean is that what does this person actually have to do with their life, and how will they live? Room is a great example because the mother and the son in the book have to deal with one single room every day.

The main character of this story tells us the whole story from his point of view. His name is Jack. Jack just turned five years old when the book started and is five throughout the whole book. He is just a normal little kid with a big opened mind, because he is always watching tv, coloring, hanging with his mother, but there is just one problem. He doesn’t know he is trapped in room. To Jack, room is his best friend, because that's his actual world. He is in love with room, which makes him not want to leave it. Well basically he can’t leave room because there is a passcode lock on the door. Jack likes everything he does in room, especially when he sleeps in the wardrobe. Jack sleeps in there to stay away from Old Nick, even though he wants to see what he looks like. Jack is always curious but his mother wouldn’t let him see Old Nick.

Jack’s mother has been trapped in room since she was 19 years old. Old Nick was the one who trapped mom in there. You will find out more details in the book, when you the reader actually read it. Jack’s mother has actually seen the world, before she was put in there. Basically Jack’s mother had a nice life until this situation happened. No one knows what happen to her. So his mother has been dying to go back out there into the world, instead of seeing 11-by-11 foot walls everyday for the rest of her life. The big issue was that Old Nick only knows the passcode to the door. Mother has tried so many times to escape, but she never won. Throughout the story she tries her best to persuade Jack that room isn’t his world, since Jack only truly knows about room. There is actually a world out there filled with more living things and nonliving things instead of what is seen inside a 11-by-11 foot shed. For example Jack knows what a tree is, but he never saw it in real life. He only sees it in the little television monitor in the room.

In conclusion room is a very interesting book to read because you see eclectic thoughts from the point of view of a five year child explaining it. All the thoughts are explained in bits of pieces, but they are easy to understand. To any reader who is interested in reading a bone chilling story like “room”, I recommend you to read this book. This was probably one of my favorite books to read.  
 
Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Published: September 13, 2010
Pages: 321
Genre: Novel
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Basically, my creative piece just gives you an ideas of what I think the cover of the book should look like, since most of the setting in that specific room.
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The Kite Runner


The author of the Kite Runner is named Khaled Hosseini. Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician. Khaled Hosseini wrote Kite Runner and had it published in 2003 . Some other books he has written are And the Mountains Echoed , and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Kite Runner was nominated for an Academy Award. Kite runner was made into a film , and put into theaters in 2007 . The film was also awarded the Satellite Award for Best Original Score. Along with the  award BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor.


Khaled Hosseini Worked as a doctor in California directly after college. Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. When Khaled was 11 his family and him moved to france. At age 15 Khaled moved to the United States with his family. Khaled Hosseini worked in medicine for ten years until the release of his novel Kite Runner. Khaled has been providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through his foundation. He is living in California with his wife Roya and his two children, daughter Farah , and son Haris.

The Kite Runner is a novel about a young Afghani boy named Amir. Amir betrays his close friend named Hassan, when he is only twelve years old. Throughout the book Amir deals with weight of the guilt left behind from betraying his close friend Hassan. Amir was born into a wealthy family living with servants, and his father Kabul. Hassan , and his father live with Amir , and Kabul. Although the families are very close , their difference are not unknown. These differences create problems, and barriers for the friends. The book takes place during the rule of Zahir Shah. Zahir Shah ruled from 1933 till 1973 when he was ousted. Zahir Shah became king at age 19 after his father Mohammed Nadir Shah was assassinated. Zahir Shah was the last king of Afghanistan.

In the midst of this book Khaled Hosseini finds a way to make such an intense plot beautiful. Amir’s life is filled with pain, regret , guilt, and uncertainty. The plot is so believable, it is almost disturbing to read for recreation in a way. During the intense scenes of the book Amir recalls memories of his childhood flying kites with his best friend Hassan. Some of the richest parts of the novel are when Amir talks about flying kites. Although the memory of flying kites is happy , it is very extreme.  Khaled Hosseini describes what Amir feels when he flies these kites , along with what they look like. The kites shimmer with glass on the string, this is to cut other kites strings. Khaled Hosseini describes the glass cutting into Amir’s skin. Amir continues to fly his kite has the shards of glass slit his hands , he grasps tighter . The memories about kites are not only stories in one whole story , but they are written as a lesson, describing the intense alluring art of kite flying.

My personal favorite part of this book is the fact that Khaled Hosseini can create such an intimate relationship with Amir and the reader. Amir pours out his anger, sadness, guilt , and betrayal, exposing his entire being  to the reader. Khaled makes us become a part of Amir’s life. The novel forces the consumer to think numerous times during the story.

The quote that stuck with me the most was “ It's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out .“ I cannot explain how powerful these two sentences are. I find the quote to be disturbingly true, and most real. Kite runner may have been an amazing book but I found it very hard for me to read. I found myself stopping to take time to really take in what I was reading . It is not a book for those who like to drift from reality when reading. For those reading this book I recommend reading it more than once to really understand every single detail of Khaled Hosseini’s words. I loved the Kite runner and intend to read it at least one more time. It is beautiful and thrilling story meant for engaged and thoughtful readers , not meant for faint hearted and carless.


Title: Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher:  Riverhead Books

Date of publication: 2003

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Historical fiction


CharlieB. "The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - Review." The Guardian. Children's Books, Wednesday July 2014. Web. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fchildrens-books-site%2F2014%2Fjul%2F30%2Freview-khaled-hosseini-the-kite-runner>.












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Bossypants

Bossypants, written by Tina Fey, is a comical masterpiece. It is a well written story filled with charming anecdotes of Tina’s personal and professional life. Through her success she portrays what it is like to be a woman working in a male dominated environment. She reminds her female readers of how, in those situations, people often turn it into a girl on girl competion. In response Tina says, “You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone.” Little nuggets of advice, like this quote, are sprinkled throughout the book. Between moments of pure laughter there are moments of wisdom that make this book so unique and enjoyable to read. Regardless of your age, Tina has advice that is relevant to your life. Women, men, teens, parents, everyone can take something away from her book.

Bossypants is not all life advice from Tina, she also discusses her personal life, and her constant struggle to find the balance between work, her social life, and her home life. She shares anecdotes of her childhood and her “just badass” dad, Don Fey, through her teenage years growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, working for a Christian theatre company. The stories are put together to form a timeline of Tina’s life. To add to the moments of nostalgia there are photographs of Tina, her family and friends, throughout the years. It creates an image of her life before fame. She had a normal, awkward, anything but glamorous life. And the pictures she adds in makes you feel like you know her on a more personal level. With the pictures throughout the book you also get a physical image seeing her develop into the person she is today. Continuing into young adulthood Tina discusses her luck with guys. At a point while discussing college relationships she reminds her readers, “When choosing sexual partners, remember: Talent is not sexually transmittable.”

From talk of childhood, Tina makes the transition into her career. And of course, what would her book be without discussing her time on Saturday Night Live and working on the set of 30 Rock with Alec Baldwin. Starting with a Second City, a comedy improv company in Chicago, she learned some of her most valuable lessons about comedy. From there she became a writer for Saturday Night Live where she met and worked with Lorne Michaels and developed somewhat of a mentor and mentee relationship. He is mentioned frequently in chapters about writing for SNL and late nights in the office, Tina also notes Lorne’s influences on her writing and all the useful show business advice he gave her through the years. The advice she got from him at SNL carried over to how she ran things at 30 Rock. She talks about script writing, the editing process, late nights in the studio and how stressful all of it really was is. She shows the work that goes into the script writing and how hard it is writing for comedy. At this point of the book she probably shares her most profound words of wisdom, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”  

The writing style of the book is comical. Tina has a unique way of conveying humor through sarcasm and satire in writing. No matter the subject of the chapter she finds a way to make you laugh. One chapter in particular, “Young Men’s Christian Association”, described her time working at her local YMCA. The job was far from exciting, yet between writing about the people she encountered or the work that was required, her complaints and rants made the book worth reading. “The people who worked upstairs in the offices...had it made. A guy in boxer shorts never screamed at them, that the residence lounge TV was broken.” The main idea to take away from all of these anecdotes and reflections is that everything will eventually be okay. If you mess up it’s not the end of the world. Countless times throughout the book Tina stresses that you should try to do everything that you can, but there will be a point where you just need to let it go. Which was something I did not expect when reading Bossypants. When I picked up the book I expected Tina Fey to write about how extravagant her life is and how grateful she is for all the opportunities she had been given, like a prolonged Oscar speech. But I was pleasantly proven wrong.


Bossypants was written by Tina Fey, published by Little Brown and Company, on April 5, 2011, 277 pages, autobiography.






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Justice: What's the Right Thing to DO?

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is a philosophical book written by Harvard professor Michael J. Sandel. This analytical book challenges every person in terms of their personal ideals of morals, justice, and freedom. It goes into depth about justice theories like utilitarianism vs libertarianism vs kantian. It gives cases involving affirmative action, birth contracts, and the free market. Sandel deciphers theories about justice and morals, while also challenging the thinking behind them. The author, Michael J. Sandel, is a professor at Harvard who teaches the courses “Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature,” “Ethics, Economics, and Law,” and “Globalization and Its Critics.” He has written many books that also delve into philosophy, morality, and politics. He was recognized as an excellent teacher by American Political Science Association. His most popular undergraduate class is Justice, which has enrolled over 15,000 students. He is known globally as an influential leader in morality and justice. The book Justice is partially based off his teachings, lectures, and students in his class.

The format of the book is quite unique. Sandel will explain a theory and mention the opposing theories. After explaining the theory and ideas behind it, he applies them to the real world using either hypothetical scenarios or past events. This novel does not have a concrete plot, however each theory builds upon previous theories and conceptions throughout the book. Sandel has a very formal style of writing. It’s not casual and the book demands your attention. This book is jam-packed with ideologies, and is very dense. Even though the book is dense, requires concentration, and an open mind, you can put down the book (although you won’t want to) and pick it up wherever you left off due to the excellence of Sandel’s explanations.

Sandel really shines when it comes to the relevance of this book. Throughout the book he constantly questions how every person acts with guidance from morality or lack of. This book is a great tool for creating quality citizens, who in turn, could create a quality society. The reappearing motif in this book is the question (as said in the title) “What is the right thing to do?” Sandel continuously clarifies, reviews, and applies many theories of what’s just and what’s morally right in his book. One of the reasons why this book is incredibly thought-provoking is that Sandel never tells you what the right thing is. He gives different sides of the stories and backs them up, with added input from philosophers, but never gives a definite answer. One example Sandel gives is of a “debate over surrogate motherhood.” This case involved a woman, in New Jersey, who was paid to carry a couple’s child. The baby’s father was the man in the couple. The surrogate mother agreed to give over the baby at birth without visitation rights. However, when the birth of the baby came, the surrogate mother could not part with the child and fled to Florida. She was later brought back to New Jersey. The couple took the surrogate mother to court, and the judge ruled that the baby was to be in full custody of the couple because of the surrogate mother’s consent and contract. However the course was then taken to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, and they again ruled that the baby belonged with the couple, but for different reasons. This court said that the reason custody belonged to the couple was because of what was best for the child. They also argued that the surrogate mother was not knowledgeable about how she would feel after the baby was born, therefore making the contract was not an “informed choice.” He then challenges the reader and asks who was right? This book really makes the reader question what they believe in and how they decide what is right.

Another repeating theme is the ongoing battle of group vs. individual rights. One way Sandel demonstrates this debate is through utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is based on the belief that people seek pleasure, and aim to avoid pain. The main principle is utility. Therefore when practicing utility, one must focus on maximizing the pleasure of the majority. Sandel explains that this method is used often in politics. As in ‘What will help the most people?’ Sandel explains that the biggest weakness of utilitarianism is that “it fails to respect individual rights.” He offers an example of the weakness through “Throwing Christians to Lions.” Sandel says how “In ancient Rome, they threw Christians to the lions in the Coliseum for the amusement of the crowd.” He then goes on to explain the utilitarian rationale, “Yes, the Christian suffers excruciating pain as the lion mails and devours him. But think of the collective ecstasy of the cheering spectators packing the Coliseum. If enough Romans derive enough pleasure from the violent spectacle, are there any grounds on which a utilitarian can condemn it? (Sandel also justified the utilitarian belief later on)”

In Justice, Sandel encourages the reader to learn about all ideas of justice to form their own idea of the ‘ideal’ justice, and to then practice and apply to one’s daily life. As a reader you’re under the impression that Sandel has given you an encyclopedia on morality and justice, and it’s your job to envision your own theory. Once you’ve found the right blend of principles, practice using this combination in your daily life. Everyday people are faced with ethical obstacles, and as virtuous people, it is our duty to navigate them as best as we can. After reading Justice you will not only feel well versed in various theories, but you will be able to determine yourself what the right thing to do is.


Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

Michael J. Sandel

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

2009

269 pages

Philosophy


Creative piece:

I based my creative piece off of John Rawls' theory of "The Veil of Ignorance." His theory is that people cannot choose just principles of society unless every person is equal. In order to make everyone equal people should imagine the hypothetical scenario of "The Veil of Ignorance." "The Veil of Ignorance" would be so that people would not know any information about their religion, health, social status, etc. Therefore no one would be picking principles of justice from a biased standpoint, in turn making society 'just.' This model demonstrates this idea by showing a person who is very biased and what they favor in society vs. a person behind "The Veil of Ignorance" and what they favor. In Rawls' theory, the people who 'look' from behind "The Veil of Ignorance" will pick the 'right' principles.

E11BM1
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The Strain


A settling peace envelops you with a body cradling, feel of refuge. It’s sensual and leaves your now prickled skin energized but content. It’s resounding with a need for sleep, it’s unknotting movement in your muscles. Most of all, it’s silence; empty, free of stress, silence. It’s the kind that invades your mind in the pause after not yet realizing you’ve completed something challenging, much like writing a book or finishing a marathon. This peace is followed with your regarding of black walls. Black walls that move till the end of time in every direction to horizons unknown. Then there’s the smell; awakening and entrancing to your senses.

Only, the smell is not one that is delightful. It’s the feverish smell of rotting corpse and stagnant fluids. The black walls are those of a 777 Boeing aircraft; huge, but not nearly till the end of time, huge. The invading silence in your mind is not of accomplishment but of rape. The resounding need for sleep and unknotting of your muscles is death quickly creeping up on you. Finally, the settling peace is not body cradling and it certainly isn’t a feel of refuge. It’s something darker than a long night’s unrest. What is before you is the scene of hundreds of undead passengers staring at you with full of life, lifeless eyes. They stand steadily, come hither, and fear sets in.

Luckily, you aren’t really here. You are somewhere genuinely safe reading here. What is here? Here is the riveting and nerve twanging novel created by the combined minds of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain. When an airport houses a flight of recently turned, contagious vampires and a zombie overlord with a mind to infect, the streets of Manhattan become a playground for chaos. A CDC agent, a computer hacker, an exterminator, and a Holocaust surviving, vampire slayer soon find themselves to be the last line of defense between the world and the end of the world. It is the only thing the reader can do but grip dearly to these characters’ lives as the pages go on to be evermore tumultuous to his or hers emotions. In short, it is absolutely terrifying and terrifyingly absolute with its purpose to make you turn the pages with eyes firmly shut.  

Don’t let this stop you though since The Strain holds more for the reader looking for thought stimulating ideals that will either shed light on or make you struggle with your own moral compass than those looking for a horror flick. Del Toro and Hogan create unmaneuverable circumstances where their characters and readers alike must share in hackneyed, but unspeakable, quarrels of euthanasia. The two authors make cliché the new black with themes incorporating wedges of intense darkness, tear jerking moments, and insomnious death.  You will question the dependability of your society, baffle with the idea of being dead, and learn more about the innards of yourself than imagined being one of a few novels that actually dig so deep into the sporadic and guarded human mind and heart.

What is truly fulfilling is a rare situation where the exterminator decides to spare those that are infected and search for a cure while the CDC agent loses hope on healing the human race and decides to rid the city of vampires. This change of identity becomes a rewarding read which has left me thinking about my own identity and how the world around me, when it changes, will affect myself. The novel continues to make the reader think this way where they will be forced to put down the book several times just to grapple with what their own interpretations and opinions are on the themes expressed.

Alternatively from writing, David Guillermo had conveyed his creativity in filmography before The Strain. Being the writer and director of several movies such as Pacific Rim, Hellboy, and Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro knew the risks and futility of converting what can easily be seen on screen in writing and projected into thousands of people’s minds. His style of writing successfully paints a vivid picture of his story in a way where a reader does not even notice they are reading. The second it takes for readers to switch written words into portraits is completely eliminated when words glide so easily into thoughts that reading a Guillermo Del Toro is like mindlessly watching television.

The Strain is the summoning of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Richard Matheson, and Bram Stoker together for one purpose; to write a novelty epic in which you will revisit the days of under the bed monsters and moving shadows in the dark. There is no where to be protected other than being utterly lost in the pages of this book. Buy it at your local bookstore and begin to read for the experience is not only doubtlessly satisfying but surely worthwhile. The moral roads traveled within the pages are precisely ones you have not met before. After reading The Strain, if you were not before, you will find yourself thirsty for more in your own vampiric way.


The Strain

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

William Morrow and Company

June 2, 2009

585 pages

Horror

To see my creative piece click here.
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"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


2014-11-04 22.03.21
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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.





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.


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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.
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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:

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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.
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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


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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.


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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.
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​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.
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