Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twilight

Bella Swan moved to Forks, Washington to live with her father Charlie. Upon her arrival, Bella finds her welcome home gift, a big red truck. Bella attends Forks High school in the small cold and rainy town. At Forks High School, Bella meets new friends, which for her, was surprising. She has a quiet and shy personality and down in Pheonix, Arizona she had never accumulated a bunch of friends. Also at Forks High School, she meets Edward Cullen. At first Edward is cold towards Bella, but as time progresses he shows more of an interest in her and even saves her life for the first time from an SUV sliding out of control in the parking lot. He grabs her and smashes the car inward to prevent it from hitting the both of them. At this point, Bella begins to suspect that the boy she feels so fond of isn't exactly human. She begins to question him and is tipped off by her friend Jacob Black the the Cullen family is actually a clan of vampires. Unphased, Bella confronts Edward about this belief and he reveals his secret to her on the condition she must keep his secret. Edward and Bella fall deeply in love and are unable to be apart for long. However, underneath Edward's love for Bella lies a lust for her blood and he must resist this longing while he is near Bella. Although the Cullens are 'vegetarians', there are still vampires that still rely on human blood to satisfy their thirst and while playing baseball with Edward's family, Bella's scent is discovered by a tracker, James, who begins to hunt Bella for sport. The Cullens do everything in their power to keep Bella safe, but James loves his sport and is cunning. He tricks Bella into thinking he has her mother, Renee, by recording an old family movie with her mother's voice and Bella gives herself up to James in return for her mother's safety. James is about to deliver the fatal blow to Bella right as Edward arrives and kills James. Bella is nursed back to health by Carlisle, and continues her life with Edward in Forks, even attending school prom.

Edward has a special power and is able to hear people's thoughts, however, he is unable to hear Bella's. Why do you think he is unable to hear the thoughts of the one most important to him?

Edward was created by Carlisle 90 years ago when he was on the brink of death because of an illness plaguing where he lived. Edward's mother had pleaded, and was also dying, to Carlisle to do everything in his power to ensure that Edward lived. Carlisle, lonely and wanting companionship, changed Edward into a vampire thinking he would teach Edward his way of hunting animals instead of humans. Do you think Carlisle did the right thing in turning Edward into a vampire, or was it selfish?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Have a Little Faith

Have a Little Faith, a nonfiction story by Mitch Albom, starts with an eighty-two-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy. Feeling unworthy, he insists on understanding his rabbi better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, he starts the story of Henry, a poor black Christian kid growing up in Detroit. Mitch continually visits his rabbi, Albert Lewis (also known as "The Reb"), and starts to learn more about his as a man. Meanwhile he discusses Henry's life growing up, and him getting involved with drugs and organized crime. Mitch learns how the Reb accepts other people and religions for what they are. Henry goes to jail, gets married, and gets addicted to his own drug. Late one night, Henry barely avoids death. He starts worshipping God, and starts his own parish in a broken down church. He helps homeless and poor, just like himself. Now Mitch meets him for the first time. He is skeptical of him at first, but later helps them get food and heating. Mitch continues to visit the Reb, who dies. The story ends with Mitch's eulogy, and the message that faith can overcome great obstacles.
1.Have a Little Faith talks about many faiths coinciding. How can many faiths coexist? If different faiths have different beliefs, can they all be correct?
2.When Mitch asks this of the Reb, he explains that just as there are a variety of trees, multiple faiths all come from the same God (page 160). What do you think about the Reb’s explanation? Can dialogue and debate about different beliefs, as the Reb argues, really enrich one’s own faith?

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

At the beginning of the story, Denise, the main character, was driving along the highway on the way back from a doctor's appointment for Kyle, her son. There was a major storm just trailing behind them. It was like a race on the highway just trying to keep ahead of it. As it was raining, a deer came across the highway. Denise tried to stop but her car slid off the road. She knocked her head on the steering wheel and became unconscious. Her son aware that they were in trouble got out of the car and headed into the woods on the edge of the highway.
Taylor, a volunteer firefighter, saw the accident and was on the sight within minutes. After Denise woke up, he became aware that her son Kyle was missing. There was extra help within minutes. They immediately began looking in the woods because that was the only shelter nearby. Denise had warned them Kyle would not respond to anything they called because he had speaking disabilities which is why they were at the doctors earlier that day. She also said Kyle hated storms. It was completely dark in the woods and flashlight would only allow a person to see a few feet.
At the end of the search, it was Taylor that found Kyle because of his pure instinct and ability to think like a child that hated storms and wasn't afraid. Kyle was near a duck structure that would provide him shelter and a way to escape the wind. He was transported to the hospital with Taylor because that is where his mother was sent because of her injuries.
As the story progresses Taylor and Denise develop a relationship. Taylor's friends pray she will be the one and she won't end up like Taylor's past girlfriends. Taylor begins pushing Denise away. He tends to help women in need without realizing it and once his help his done he leaves. He does this because he lost his father to a fire when he was little boy and he blames himself. It takes his best friend's death for him to realize what he was doing and how much he really loves Denise.

1. Why do you think Taylor's father's death affected him so much that it affected his life in such a big way?

2. I mentioned Kyle had a learning disability, how do you think he was treated by other parents and kids in the story?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by: Eoin Colfer

Colfer begins the journey with Artemis Fowl and his family bodyguard Butler waiting in Barcelona, Spain for an expected encounter with a demon. Artemis Fowl is a highly intelligent teenager with extensive knowledge of the mythological world. Butler is rumored to be among the most dangerous men in the world and has gotten that way through hard work and perseverance. As Colfer says,"Butler did not get to be one of the most dangerous men in the world by chatting with anyone who happened to stroll past, unless the chat concerned exit routes and concealed weapons"(Colfer 1). His sole duty is to protect Artemis from harm and aid him on his missions to protect the mythological world. At Barcelona a demon arbitrarily appears and grabs Artemis and attempts to bring him to the demon world. But Butler with his arm on Artemis's shoulder pulls Artemis back to their dimension.

Here the story of Artemis pauses and the book goes on to tell about No1. He is an imp in the demon world, known as Hybras, who is being bullied by teachers and other students for not being "warped" into a strong and brute demon. Demon evolution shows that imps take one of two paths: one of the warped demon and one of the warlock. No1 is convinced he is a warlock although they have seemed to be extinct. He observes himself turning an object into stone displaying his raw warlock power. Abbot the demon leader gets angry and uses his mesmer, a hypnotic power capable by fairies and other fairy-like creatures, to convince No1 to travel to the human world through the volcano.

Back in Artemis's dimension he is waiting at another location of a predicted demon arrival. Here he sees a girl who he remembers seeing at Barcelona. Her name is Minerva and her family has has extensive knowledge of demons. She is seen with a henchman named Billy Kong. Minerva and her family want to capture demons and study their culture to learn more about them. They obtain No1 as he enters the human world. Billy Kong on the other hand wants to kill demons on the fact that they were responsible for his brother's death sometime ago. His sole purpose in the operation is to take over command from Minerva when a demon is captured and kill it. Once No1 is obtained by Minerva, Artemis devises a plan to steal it from her. Convinced that the demon dematerialized back to the demon world, Minerva says that no demon can be captured for another 17 months. Kong gets enraged and threatens Minerva's life among others. At that moment Artemis calls Kong and proposes he exchanges Minerva for No1. At first Artemis wants to choose the rendez-vous but Kong forces Artemis to let him choose. Here Artemis demonstrates his intellectual ability with the famed line in the book. He uses the art of suggestion to make Kong pick the meeting point Artemis had is mind. He says to Kong before a meeting point is set, "I will be wearing a burgundy tie. Pay attention to that" (Colfer 246). This statement causes Kong to choose Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world. Knowing Kong's background in Taiwan Artemis executed this suggestion brilliantly. But why does Artemis want to meet at Taipei and what will go on in the building? Will Artemis live?

1. Artemis is obviously intelligent but sometimes however he goes to far and acts in a snobbish way. However without using his intellect he can not lead missions successfully and get out of predicaments. What is your view on how people should demonstrate their intellect? Should they dumb themselves down for the sake of others?

2. Artemis and Minerva are people who lack athleticism but make up for it in intellect.
Would it be better to be
1. somewhat athletic and somewhat smart
2. Extremely athletic
3. Extremely smart
Why?
**Each choice has drawbacks and advantages

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Worldshaker by Richard Harland

The novel, Worldshaker, takes place in the year 1995, but the world it takes place in is different. In this world, instead of living on the land together, all of the major European powers created giant ships called juggernauts. Each ship is giant, housing a city's population of people. As in a city, each ship has different classes of people. There are the elite, who live on the Upper Decks, then the merchants, who live in the Lower Decks. The social status lowers with the height on the ship. Even more below the merchant class is the Bottom Decks. The people who live there are the Filthies. They are considered the lowest of the low and are only there to handle the ship's machinery. The people who live on the Upper Decks say, in reference to the Filthies, "We don't think about them" (Harland 12). The only use they feel for the Filthies is to turn them into Menials. The Filthies are somehow changed into worker bees for the Upper Decks people, unable to speak and only able to move with a restricted range of motion. The members of the Upper Decks, feel they are giving the Filthies a better life like this, but the Filthies are against this, not wanting to be turned into useless slaves.

Colbert is a member of a prominent Upper Decks family. He has been given life on a silver platter, protected from the harsher facts of life, and he is next in line to be the captain of the ship. He, like everyone else, does not think of the Filthies. One night, he wakes up to see a Filthy hiding from the ship's guards in his room. Colbert tries to get rid of the Filthy, but she begs for his help, saying she does not want to be changed into a Menial. He says, "You're lucky to have the chance to become a Menial" (Harland 5). The Filthy disagrees, claiming she is better off now than if she were to become a Menial. Col reluctantly agrees, only out of shock.

Later, Colbert finds the Filthy, Riff, is still returning. She is unable to get back Below, which she wants because she wants to get back to her friends there. Riff says she and the others are going to start a rebellion against the people of the Upper Decks. He helps Riff to get back Below. As Col learns more about the other people he considers family and friends and more about the Filthies, he wants to help the Filthy uprising. Colbert then realizes he can do more to help Riff. He sneaks away from a school field trip to send something down to Riff. Except there is a problem. When he goes to deliver it, he is not so sneaky and another boy pushes him down into the Below Decks. Colbert is met by an unfriendly greeting party of angry Filthies. Will he be able to get back home? Will he die?

Questions

1. Do you think Colbert, an Upper Decks person, will be able to survive in the much harsher and more demanding world of the Bottom Decks?

2. Do you think it is more important to follow everyone's expectations and follow the crowd or to follow your heart and do what you believe is right?

The Lucky One, Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks is an outstanding love story. It has several settings the first is in Iraq. When a soldier, Logan, finds a picture of a beautiful women while on his daily run. At first he thought nothing of the picture but he kept it just in case it belonged to someone. No one claimed it and for some unknown reason he decided to keep it. The picture gave him luck in almost all aspects of his life. He was always safe in combat won nightly poker games and did not lose any more of his friends in battle. When he was released from duty he decided he had to find this women. Logan walked all the way from Colorado to a small southern town where the women in the picture, Elizabeth, lived. Logan was too scared to tell her the real reason he came to this small southern town that barely makes the map. He took a job as a dog groomer for her family in order to get as close as he can to her. Eventually Logan and Elizabeth did fall in love it seemed like they were made for each other. Logan eventually told her the real reason he went all the way to Hampton from Colorado. She did not take this news lightly, she refused to even talk to him ending the relationship. The last few chapters reveal if Logan and Elizabeth will ever be able to make things work between them.
1. Do you think Elizabeth should forgive Logan.
2. Do you think they are an example of love at first sight?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

HarryPotter is a sixteen year old boy after six years atHogwarts. It is mid summer, and once he turns seventeen, the charm his mother cast to protect him will wear off once he is of age. The charm also protects his uncle's house, which is where he has stayed for the last 16 years, after his parents where murdered in Godric's Hollow. So the Order of the Phoenix decides to move him to a safer location, but during transport, Harry, the six other Harrys (who "became him" by using Polyjuice Potion), and their bodyguards were all attacked. Several made it to the safehouse unhurt, but 1 was injured and another was killed by the Death Eaters, Voldemort's "henchmen".
After staying at the Weasleys' house for a week, Harry, Ron, and Hermione leave to find Voldemorts' Horcruxes, which all contain part of his soul. Dumbledore left them with the mission to find and destroy them, leaving Voldemort vulnerable to death as mortal. During their search, they find the first Horcrux left by RAB, Sirius' brother. They have to find the Sword of Griffindor, which can destroy Horcruxes. Meanwhile, Ron left them because he felt betrayed. Harry is led by a doe to a frozen pond containing the Sword. When he submerges to grab the sword, the Locket containing the Horcrux prevents him from resurfacing. Only Ron saved Harry from the iced pond and the locket. Together, they destroy the locket even though it puts up a fight.
After leaving the forest with the Sword, they go to the Lovegood House, where Luna's father reveals to them the Deathly Hallows, the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. When they leave after a narrow escape from Death Eaters, they arrive at a forest where searchers are waiting. They are brought to the Malfoy House, but they escape with the help of the Malfoy's old house elf, Dobby. Although Dobby dies in the process, they successfully escape and find Ollivander, the wandmaker,who was tortured by Voldemort. He tells them that Voldemort seeks the Elder Wand, which he does at Dumbledore's grave.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The rest is after the movie ends....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry and his friends then go to Gringotts to find the Cup of Hufflepuff, which contains another of Voldemort's horcruxes. After penetrating the vaults using Polyjuice Potion, they find the cup, but after taking the cup, they are surrounded by the burning enchanted treasure and guards outside the door. They rush through the guards and escape on a freed dragon. After settling down in a clearing, Harry, unintentionally sees into Voldemort's mind about the rest of the Horcruxes. There they travel to Hogsmeade, where again they are nearly captured, but saved by Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth. There they go inside Hogwarts to find the lost diadem of Ravenclaw. Once inside they find the diadem in the Room of Requirement. Malfoy and his buddies try to stop them, but instead they use cursed fire putting them all in danger. The fire destroys the horcrux and they escape, but one of Malfoy's friends dies. During the battle, Harry goes to the Shrieking Shack and finds Snape and Voldemort talking. Voldemort believes he cannot use the Elder Wand because Snape is its master, so he kills Snape. Potter, meanwhile, has found the Resurrection Stone and his cloak of invisibility that was given to him is the Hallows' Cloak of Invisibility.
In 1 Hour, Potter must find and confront Voldemort or he will kill everyone inside Hogwarts.
This is where I will end so as to not spoil the ending.

1. Why does Voldemort want to be the one to kill Harry?
2. Why did Potter not just hide from his fear?

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy is a memoir of a strange little girl as she grows up in the quaint town of Mooreland in Indiana. Zippy is a very free-spirited girl who gags at the thought of wearing a dress and going to church with her mother and loves having dozens of pets throughout her childhood. Zippy's father is a very particular gambling man who takes hours to double-check the supplies when heading out in the trailer to go camping. Zippy's mother is a very sedentary and very religious woman. Zippy has multiple adventures throughout the book which do not form any kind of single plot (this makes it a book that cannot be summarized); so, here is a summary of the last chapter: When Christmas time neared, Zippy found herself having a strong desire for a piano. When her parents heard this, they winced because money was in short supply in their family. Zippy could not think of anything else in the world she wanted more. She was about to become even more distraught. On the night of Christmas Eve, Zippy's good friend, Julie, was having a Christmas party as their family did every year. During the party, Julie told Zippy to come upstairs; she had something to show her. When they reached Julie's room, Zippy was horrified to see a beautiful keyboard piano that Julie received for Christmas. On her way home, Zippy was about on the verge of tears. But when she walked through her front door, she became ecstatic. It was a piano. It was a piano that was even bigger and better than Julie's. Her delight could not be put into words.

Questions
1. Zippy's family was not as well off as Julie's, but the idea of a piano seemed a lot more appreciated by Zippy than it was by Julie. So, based on these points, do you think it is better to have a bit of a challenging time making ends meet or is it better to be very well off. Explain.

2. Zippy is very much her own person throughout the book and can be described as a nonconformist. Is it better to be a conformist or a non-conformist? Why?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn




Wonder Blake is a fifteen-year-old year who believes her life is a living hell. She and her family have recently moved to a small Cape Cod town from the hustle and bustle of big New York after the unexpected death of ehr older sister Lucky, who wa son the track of super stardom. THis new town was suppose to be a new start for her family but just led for them all to grow more distant and for Wonders life to be come a living hell. She doesnt fit in at her high school and the only thing that she has to escape from is her dancing. One day while she was working at her part time job at Dairy Queen a record producer, Tig, hears her singing and affers to record her, knowing her as Luckys little sister. She unwillingly accepts and after a few months of slience she finally gets a call that changes her world upside down. She was plucked from her disorderly life and into the crazy world of music as she becomes an instant hit. She follows her mentor Kayla, her sisters childhood friend, around to get to know the business better. She reliexes that sex, drugs and underaged drinking comes with the package of being a teen idol and she seems not quite cut out for that, She chances her image and her morals for this job and she becomes somethign that isnt truly her. She is a naive girl in the music business following and having her "first time" with a jerk. She has to chose between the wrold of people who love her music and body but not her true self and cave in to the hardship of beign a teen idol or go back to her personal hell with a disorderly family who loves her and high school which she isnt quite cut out for.

1. If you were Wonder which life would you pick, a hard, pressured super star life or a disfunctional family life, both you dont quite are happy with?

2. If you deads sisters dream was to become a superstar and you were able to live this dream but not really wnting it, would you feel guilty?

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen


The Luxe by Anna Godbersen takes place in 1899 and follows the lives of the upperclass teenages in Manhattan. The story focuses on the main character, Elizabeth Holland. She is part of one of the famous families of Manhattan and is known as society's sweetheart. However, after her father dies, Elizabeth's family is secretly thrust into debt and her mother forces her to get engaged to Henry Schoonmaker. Henry is one of the richest bachelors in all of Manhattan and it also forced to engage Elizabeth in order to appease his father. This is a huge problem for Elizabeth because she is in love with one of her own familie's servants, William, who tries to convince her to run away to the west with him. One night, she returns from a ball and finds William gone and is devastated. In the mean time, Elizabeth's sister, Diana is falling in love with Henry. The two have been sneaking around and one night Diana sneaks out to see him and when she returns, she finds her family crying. Elizabeth's supposed best friend, Penelope, said that while they were out on a carriage ride Elizabeth was thrown into the river and disappeared. Diana is supsicious of Penelope because she knows that Penelope was jealous of Elizabeth and was trying to take her place as society's favorite.

1. What do you think happened to Elizabeth and why?

2. Was it right for Diana to steal Henry even though she knew he and Elizabeth were not in love?

White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway

White Ghost Girls is a novel about two American sisters, Frankie and Kate, growing up in Hong Kong during the late 1960s. During this time period, Hong Kong was not Communist, but neighboring China was, under the control of Mao Zedong. The war is raging in the nearby jungles of Vietnam, and in the book the girls’ father is an American photographer for Time Magazine. The two girls and their mother live in Hong Kong while their father is off photographing the war. The novel examines the relationship of sisterhood, the loss of innocence, the effects of war and of neglect, and the raging desire of a person to be loved. All people have this need for love, and some will do absolutely anything to get people to notice them, but this ultimately leads to their own suffering.

At the beginning of the book, Kate and Frankie’s father is away and they are out on a boat with their mother and some of the family’s Chinese servants. The girls are playing in the water when they see a dark mass floating up from the depths. They see it is a body, covered in seaweed with fish biting at its flesh, and later learn it is one of many bodies that are washing out to see after being killed by Communist demonstrations near the Pearl River. Though the girls’ mother tries to keep them away from the events of the war, Kate says that seeing the dead body that day “marks the end of our innocence, exposes the impossibility of her efforts to protect us” (Greenway 10). But the girls’ mother tries nonetheless. She hides newspapers talking about the war from them, takes then to church, makes them get dressed up every Sunday, and ultimately tries to form them into the proper and refined women she desperately wishes they would be. Frankie takes this to mean that her mother does not love her enough to let be herself, and vilifies her mother for it. She constantly resists all of what her mother wants her to do. She throws herself at every man she sees, wears provocative clothing and disobeys all the time.

When she and Kate accompany the family’s servant, Ah Bing, to the market one day, she again tries to be reckless and disobedient. When they get to the market there is a Communist demonstration, and chaos erupts when the police arrive. Frankie convinces Kate to slip away from Ah Bing and the girls go into an alley where two large men confront them. The men take Frankie into a butcher shop and give Kate a bag of what they tell her is fruit but is actually a bomb. They make her put it into the middle of the police line, and the bomb explodes, killing several people. While Kate is away, the men abuse Frankie, and after this, she becomes even more unstable. Here the sisters’ relationship with each other also declines. They begin keeping secrets from each other, and Kate is forever burdened with her secret of what she did in the market. She is also burdened by her sister’s constant need for attention, for an outward show of love. About herself, Kate says, “I’m just supposed to be Katenick, muimui, little sister, follower, sidekick” (Greenway 95 ). Kate is Frankie’s shoulder to lean on, her constant support throughout all their schemes. In Frankie’s pursuit of affection, she overshadows Kate, or just drags her along, and Kate can never be recognized as her own person.

Another turning point in the story is when the girls’ parents decide to send Frankie away to boarding school. Their mother says she cannot control her anymore, and wants to send her to a place that will change her into a young lady. At this Frankie becomes more desperate than ever to be noticed, to be shown love. She smokes more, disobeys more, and seduces a boy at a pool party the family attends. She also flirts openly with her father’s friends. All this time their father is oblivious to what she is doing and why. He thinks only of the war and is obsessed with the fighting and adventure he finds in Vietnam. The situation escalates higher and higher until the day before she is to leave for boarding school, Frankie makes one last desperate attempt for love. The result absolutely blows the family to pieces, and they must confront the story of Frankie and the part that they each played in the tragedy of her life.

1. Do you think that Frankie did the diobedient, reckless things she did to break out of her mothers expectations, to get people to notice her, or both?

2. In the book the girls' father is so drawn to the war that he thinks of nothing else and is blind to the problems in his own family. Why do you think war mesmerizes people like this?

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde, one of the most prominent members of the aesthetic movement. His novel relates to art, and its purpose. Wilde argues in the introduction to the novel that art’s purpose is to have no purpose- simply to exist, without having an overreaching moral lesson. He writes that “The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely” (8).
The protagonist, Dorian Gray, is a young man who is said to be very beautiful and innocent. An older artist, Basil Hallward, cultivates a friendship with him that leads to his meeting Lord Henry, a gifted and influential speaker. The Lord advocates a radical policy of hedonism, or the pursuit of pleasure above all else, which is quite controversial in the morally strict time period. He enjoys shaping Dorian’s beliefs, and says that “’Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed’” (23). This becomes true for the impressionable Dorian when he is told that his beauty has more value than anything else in his life. Basil has painted a portrait of him, and the young man despairs that he shall age while it shall not. In thinking this, Dorian trades his own aging for that of the portrait’s, though he does not discover this for some time, when he begins to commit many sins in trying to live Lord Henry’s philosophies more fully. Sin is said to make a person ugly, and ages the portrait just as time does. One of the first examples of his sins is spurning the young actress, Sibyl Vane, whom he claimed to be in love with until she performed badly at a play. His rejection caused her to commit suicide, and though it shook Dorian, it was not enough to change his course. His lifestyle grew increasingly careless, causing his portrait self to decay with every misdeed. Dorian does not escape karma, however, when his choices ultimately lead him to a final desperate and destructive act. The portrait Basil painted was given a purpose, in being used for Dorian Gray’s selfish life, and consequently caused the man’s destruction.

1) Do you think that Dorian is responsible for his actions throughout the novel, or is Lord Henry instead responsible for teaching a moral code that he himself did not understand the implications of?
2) Wilde’s view on the purposelessness of art was highly controversial in the time. Many still believe that art is created to influence, or display views. Which philosophy do you personally agree with?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by: Jeff Lindsay

At first glance, Dexter Morgan seems to be as average as anyone could possibly be. He has a job as a blood spatter pattern analyst for the Miami Police, a good relationship with his girlfriend and her two kids, and a wonderful bond with his sister, Deborah. Though Dexter appears to be a normal gentlemanly guy, he has a dark secret: he leads a double life as a serial killer.
The book begins with Dexter on one of his killing sprees, after the "Dark Passenger", which is what drives him to kill people, takes over his body and mind. However, Dexter is unlike most serial killers in the fact that he only kills people who have committed horrible crimes and not been caught or punished for them. For this reason, in the beginning of the novel, Dexter is killing Father Donovan, a priest who has murdered seven children. Once Dexter has killed someone, the Dark Passenger leaves his body and he returns to his normal life.
Dexter is completely aware of the monster that he is, and goes to great lengths to cover up his murders and be a seemingly normal guy. In the novel, Dexter talks about how he lacks normal human emotions and has covered up for any peculiarities towards him with acting through meetings with people by faking charm and feelings. Dexter's sister, who is not his real sister and is the closest person to him, has no idea of Dexter's other life either. The only person to ever learn of what Dexter was, was his adoptive father Harry. When Dexter was a kid, Harry found out about his murdering of animals, and knew that people would soon be next. Harry told Dexter that he can control the Dark Passenger, and could choose who he wanted to kill. Ever since, Dexter adopted Harry's philosophy and thus only kills those who deserve it.
The Miami Police start finding a bunch of women murdered throughout the following weeks, and they all point to one person committing this horrible crime, they just do not know who the killer is. Specifically, when the police finds a body, it is cut into pieces and no blood is found anywhere. For some reason, Dexter becomes intrigued by the killer's murdering style and goes to all the crime scenes even though he isn't permitted to be at crime scenes without blood. Dexter soon is wanting to find the serial killer himself, since the police has no leads and are taking all the wrong steps to get there. Dexter starts going out at night following the Dark Passenger and where it tells him to go. However, the killer is smarter than he seems and now he's dropping Dexter clues as to where he can find him. Dexter decides not to tell the police about the killer's clues and find him himself, but it isn't easy for Dexter to cover up his trail towards the killer when his fellow coworkers become suspicious of his behavior.

1.) In the novel, Dexter learns that there are many other people like him with Dark Passengers that drive them to kill. He even finds one in the form of a nurse, and suspects that his coworker may be one too. How would you feel if someone you thought was able to be trusted was committing murders due to a force inside them?

2.) The serial killer in this novel, leaves Dexter plenty of clues that tell on how to find him. Dexter decides to take matters into his own hands and go to the killer alone without informing the police. Do you think that Dexter should have dropped his interest in the serial killer and told the police? Or do you think he was not doing anything wrong since the killer was giving Dexter the clues and not the police?

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Siddhartha, a young man, lives with his father, friend (Govinda) and other Brahmin (scolars/priests) somewhere in ancient India. Though Siddhartha performs all the rituals and follows everything his religion says for attaining happiness and peace, he feels dissatisfied.
Not much later, a group of acetic monks called Samanas comes to town and Siddhartha feels that he would learn more from them than from the Brahmin. So he coaxes his father to let him and Govinda travel with the Samanas and his . The Samanas teach him that to achieve happiness he must reject physical desire and lose your “Self.” By fasting and meditating he no longer resembles the boy he used to be.
Siddhartha quickly realizes that all the fasting and meditation is only a temporary means to losing one’s self, so he and Govinda leave to find Gotama, the Illustrious One. Siddhartha speaks with Gotama and figures that there is no way to teach enlightenment; that it must be experienced, so he must find his own way to enlightenment and not follow a teacher.
Siddhartha finds a friendly ferryman, content with a simple life. The ferryman takes him across a river, and Siddhartha finds his way to a city where he is infatuated by a beautiful courtesan named Kamala. He convinces her to teach him the ways of love, but only if he proves that he can fit in with the material world, so she sets him up with a job with a merchant, Kamaswami. Years pass as Siddhartha leads a life of debauchery with gambling, sex and drinking.
When Siddhartha is around his mid-life, he realizes that the material life he is leading is slowly killing him, so he leaves Kamaswami, Kamala and his empty life without warning. Siddhartha wanders to a river and considers suicide, but instead falls asleep. Govinda passes by with his fellow Buddhist monks and does not realize the sleeping man is Siddhartha but still watches over him to protect him from snakes. Siddhartha wakes up and greets his old friend, but both of them must be on their way.
Siddhartha seeks out the ferryman that took him across the river earlier and finds him. His name is Vasuveda and he tells Siddhartha that he attained inner peace by studying the river. He allows Siddhartha to live and work beside him. Siddhartha studies the river and is able to contemplate the unity of the world and hears the river speak the word Om, a Brahmin word of peace.
Years later, Kamala and the son she had with Siddhartha are making a voyage to Gotama, who is now dying. Kamala gets bitten by a snake and although Vasuveda and Siddhartha tried to save her, she dies. At her deathbed she confesses that her son is Siddhartha’s.
Siddhartha tries to console his son, but the son is disrespectful and eventually runs away to the city. Siddhartha goes after him, but realizes that his son must do this to find his own enlightenment.
Siddhartha meditates by the river for many years and has a revelation on how everything is a cycle in life. Vasuveda realizes that he has nothing left to teach Siddhartha and retires to the forest, leaving Siddhartha to be the ferryman.
Many years pass, and Govinda finds Siddhartha’s river while in search of a wise man that someone had told him about. Govinda realizes that he is talking to Siddhartha and that Siddhartha has attained enlightenment. Govinda asks Siddhartha to tell him everything he knows, but Siddhartha explains how enlightenment cannot be explained verbally because words do not do enlightenment justice. Instead Siddhartha tells Govinda to kiss him on the forehead, and when Govinda does, Siddhartha’s wisdom and experience of unity is communicated to Govinda.

Discussion Questions:
1) Do you think Siddhartha's lived his life to the fullest (carpe diem, anyone)?

2) Do you think what happened between Siddhartha and his son was karma for what Siddhartha did to his father?

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner By Stephenie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a novella from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse by Stephenie Myer. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is about a newborn vampire girl that was recently bitten by Victoria. Victoria bit Bree because Victoria is creating an army of vampires to attack the Cullen family. Victoria has a vendetta against Edward Cullen, because he killed Victoria's mate. So Victoria creates an army to get revenge.

Bree has been a vampire for 3 months and she makes friends with Diego. They go hunting together and become friends. Diego is an older vampire. There are many vampires in Victoria's army. They all live in one house. But they keep moving so people don't find them and because the "gangs" in the house keep burning the houses down. Bree is not in these "gangs". She keeps to herself as much as possible, but does start to trust Diego. The vampires move to a log cabin which is different from their typical homes. It is futher away from the city. When the "gangs" are fighting, Bree sits by a man named Fred. He doesn't talk much. He has special skills. He can repulse everyone. That keeps them out of his way (and Bree's since she stays near him). When "gangs" begin to fight he repulses them and makes everyone leave so the fighting stops.

The story is mostly about what Bree is observing and experiencing. The only person she talks to is Diego and towards the end of the book Fred. When Bree and Diego go hunting they follow Riley, the leader of the army. Riley goes to Victoria's house. Diego and Bree overhear Riley and Victoria's conversation. They are talking about the fight that they are going to start with the Cullens. Then the Volturi come and tell Victoria if she doesn't start the fight soon they are going to kill her. When Riley leaves, Diego goes and talks to him and Bree goes back to the house. Riley comes back but Diego never does. Bree is very sad, but she thinks he is still out there. Riley begins to train the "troops". Riley leads the vampires to attack, but Riley and Victoria flee once at the battle grounds. Fred tells Bree to go a different way so she doesn't have to fight. She listens to Fred. Fred goes to Vancourver, he says she could come with him, but she wants to find Diego.

When Bree reaches the fighting grounds she sees wolves and the Cullens killing all of her "team". Bree hides in the forest. She is attacked by Carlisle, so she surrenders to the Cullens. Carlisle talks to Bree and then the Volturi come. The Volturi talk to Bree but she doesn't talk. They ask her questions about Victoria and Riley, but she doesn't say anything. The Volturi gets mad. " "Don't watch," the redheaded mindreader(Edward) whispered. I closed my eyes"(179).

1. Riley and Victoria lie to the "newborns" about many aspects of being a vampire (for example, they scare them into believing they will burn in daylight. In the book, we learn this is a myth.) They instill fear in them so that they can keep them and build an army to destroy the Cullens. Do you think fear or trust is the best way to rally people together for a cause?

2. Bree, Diego, and Fred were a few of the "smarter" newborns. They distrusted Riley at times. They began to question some of his teachings and think for themselves. Fred was able to escape. Diego and Bree were not as fortunate. Is it better to think and fight for yourself or to blindly follow "authority" and fight for what you are told?

The Street Lawyer




















The Street Lawyer by John Grisham tells the story of a big time lawyer turned defender of the homeless. Michael Brock is on the fast track in life and on his way to being a partner at one of the biggest firms in the country, Drake & Sweeney. On his way to the office one morning a homeless man gets the elevator with him and follows him to work. Soon after while Mike is in a conference with eight other lawyers the homeless man returns and takes them all hostage. The man identified only as Mister has a loaded gun and what appears to be dynamite around his waist. He keeps all of the men bound together by rope and against the wall for hours. Mike is his messanger and when he has Mike leave the room the police have a sniper outside the door ready to kill Mister. As Mike bends down to pick something up the sniper takes out Mister. While in the room before his death he asks all of the lawyers how much they make a year and how do they donated to the homeless directly. All reveal their earnings and say they donated hardly anything of they donated anything at all. This brings new thoughts into Mike's mind about helping the homeless. A few days after the shooting Mike finds the 14th Street Legal Clinic and goes in to find out what they do and looks for some advice. He meets with Mordecai Greens at this meeting and he tells him all that he wants to hear. A few days after this meeting Mordecai calls on Mike to come and help at homeless shelter. He accepts and meets a family that he will never forget. This family is a single mother with four children who Mike becomes attached to. He gives them food and plans to give them other things the next day but will not get the chance to because they die that night in their car from carbon monoxide while trying to stay warm. This is the tiping point for Mike and he decides to leave the firm and go work at the 14th Street Legal Clinic but not before he does something that could change his life. He takes a file from his old firm describing an illegal eviction at a warehouse bought by the TAG group that was being sold to the postal service. These evictions forced Mister, the family and 15 other people back onto the streets. Mordecai and Mike sue Drake & Sweeney for $10 million for the wrongful eviction and the deaths of the mother and four children. While they are doing this Mike's old firm and the D.C. police make numerous attempts to find the missing file. Because of the theft of this file two people have been fired and Mike's law license is at stake if he does not turn over the file. The debate about the file and what would happen to Mike go on for a long time and the file is a crucial part of reaching a settlement with Drake & Sweeney who are terrified of trail. Will Mike turn the file over to help preserve his reputation and save his career? Will Drake & Sweeney do what it takes to avoid an embarresing trail and save their reputation?
Questions
1. If you were in Mike's position would you turn over the file to preserve your career or would you hold onto it and help do what you think is right?
2. If you were in Mike's situation would you make a career change because of one freak incident?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second story in the Hunger Games series. It is about a girl named Katniss and takes place in North America some time in the future. Katniss has won the Hunger Games along with her on and off lover Peeta which angers the President of North America who sees this as a rebellion against his dictatorship. He gives Katniss an ultimatum she must convince him that her bold defiant move was really because they were in love and not just so they could survive and thus begins the story. Katniss must journey to North America's districts on the winners tour with Peeta to try and convince the President of their innocence. However, this plan fails and they are thrust back into the Hunger Games and must once again fight for there lives in the arena. Katniss and Peeta are able to survive long enough to put their rescue plan into effect and they are airlifted to District 13 which was thought to be destroyed but really was now a secret rebbelion center. The story ends here with Katniss about to be debriefed on how to overthrow the President's dictatorship and restore democracy to the world.

Do you think Katniss will succeed?

Will district 13 be able to overthrow the entire country?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

From the outside Kate Malone, or "Good Kate," as she refers to herself, is an honor roll student, science fair winner, and exceptional long-distance runner. Being the daughter of a widowed minister, Kate inherited the responsibilities of a mother at a young age, doing the laundry for the family, making the meals, making sure that her younger brother takes his medications, and keeping her father's calendar. While she does all these chores she simultaneously continues to maintain an above average scholarly record, good enough in fact to apply to MIT, her deceased mother's former school and Kate's dream school.
Appropriately titled CATALYST, Kate's story is about what happens when she chooses to apply to only one college. "Bad Kate" struggles with telling her father that she didn't choose any safety schools, her jealousies over her fellow students' early college acceptances, her insomnia and midnight runs, and her desire to be the absolute best at everything she does. She struggles to please everyone, at the risk of not pleasing herself. However, when her former enemy Teri Litch's house burns down, Kate's loses control. Teri and her little brother are forced to move into Kate's house and Kate must tend to their every will. While living with the Malones, Teri skips schools to rebuild her house with some volunteers in the community. One day, Kate decides to help out after school and when they are almost done, they decide to take a break and rest on the front porch. Teri then asks where Mikey is, her little brother, and they search through the house for him. Tragically, they find him dead on the ground. They immediately call the ambulance while Teri is screaming, "My son! My son!" Kate later finds out that Teri's father had raped her, therefore, that was the reason why he was in jail.
The rest of the book is about Teri trying to get over the tragedy while Kate is trying to help her and to become friends with her. It is also about how Kate learns how to stop making life so hard for herself and to relax and live in the moment, like finding a new college to go to because MIT did not accept her. In the end, Kate and Teri become friends and Kate begins to ask her father for help because she realizes she cannot take care of everyone on her own.


Question #1: Why do you think Kate only applied to one school?

Question #2: How do you think Teri's son, Mikey, died?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder- By: Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen runs a successful bakery, called The Cookie Jar, in the small town of Lake Eden. The town is the stereotypical small town where nothing exciting ever happens. In fact the only exciting thing in Hannah's life is avoiding talking to her mother, Delores, who fixes her up with every man in town. However, that will all change when she finds herself caught in a sticky situation.

When she is taking her garbage into the alley behind her store, she discovers her beloved milk man and friend, Ron LaSalle, dead in his truck and a bag of her chocolate chip crunches in his seat. Determined not to have her cookies get a bad reputation, she tries to track down the killer. Could it be the owner of the dairy, a local dentist, or the richest family in Lake Eden? Hannah needs to be careful with her undercover investigation or she might be next.

Questions

1. In the novel Hannah breaks into places to find out information. Do you think that it is right for her to break the law and risk her life to find the killer?

2. If someone close to you was murdered, what extremes would you go to to find the killer?



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keeping the Moon- Sarah Dessen

This is a book a bout a fifteen-year old girl named Collie who seemed to never fit in anywhere. First it was because both her and her mom were fat, however her mom became famous and inspired many people to lose weight after she lost 200 pounds all on her own. Then, it was because she got a reputation she did not deserve. Her mom goes on a European tour to promote her work out videos so Collie is sent to Colby, North Carolina to stay with her Aunt Mira. She doesn't expect much. After all why would someone bother with her in North Carolina when no one back home did? However Colby turns out to be great for her, and almost immediately she lands a job at the Last Chance Bar and Grill. There she meets two waitresses-Isabel and Morgan-two best friends who teach her what friendship is all about and help her appreciate herself for who she is.
Even though everything works out for the three friends in the end it wasn't always that way. Isabel is a very judgemental person and she doesn't originally like Collie because she has a lip ring and her hair is dyed jet black. She makes many comments to her about how she is different and she didn't even want her to work at the restaurant with them. If you were Collie, would you forgive Isabel right away, would you confront her on it, or would you just let everything go to not start drama? And why?
Collie always knew she never really fit in. She also knew that she was going to somewhere new for the whole summer. One of the lessons in this book is to be yourself and love yourself for who you are. If you were Collie, would you change who you were for one summer to see if you could possibly fit in somewhere? Why or why not?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Rafiq Oglesby)

The book I read was Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. She was an English novelist and poet who lived from 1818-1848 which is why the novel has an "old English" feel to it, but all in all it's a really good book with a great story. The novel begins by introducing a man named Mr. Lockwood who has rented Thrushcross Grange, a property in northern England. This is where he meets his landlord, Heathcliff, an intimidating, wealthy man who lives in the old manor of Wuthering Heights. While staying at Thrushcross Grange, Lockwood asks the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, to tell him the story of Heathcliff. She does and he writes down her words in his diary. She recalls of a time when she was a young girl and a servant at Wuthering Heights for a man named Mr. Earnshaw. A numerous amount of events happen between this point and through the end of the book as Nelly tells her story. One of the main events of the plot is the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Okay, so Mr. Earnshaw went to Liverpool, England and brought back Heathcliff, an orphan. When they first meet, Heathcliff is looked down upon by Catherine and her brother because he is a very messy, bitter, and dark person (so to speak), and because they are from an upper class society, while Heathcliff descends from peasants. Also Hindley, Catherine's older brother, feels as if Heathcliff has stolen his father's affection and resents him for it. Eventually Heathcliff and Catherine become friends, but as the years progress, she starts "hanging out" with a more suitable young man named Edgar Linton, and the two become close. Sometime later, Edgar proposes to her and she accepts but also confesses that her true love is Heathcliff, but that she can't marry him because it would "degrade" her and lower her position on the social ladder. She says "Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same....". Heathcliff is listening and only hears the part about her not being able to marry him and then he leaves Wuthering Heights and begins making his fortune.

1.) Would you resent someone who came from an impoverished life without parents or would you accept him/her into your family and show as much affection as possible?

2.) Do you think Heathcliff would have stayed in Wuthering Heights if he listened to ALL of what Catherine was saying?

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This is the story about how a pair of pants kept four best friends, Carmen, Briget, Lena, and Tibby, together while they were apart. They have been best friends all their lives. Their mothers met while they were pregnant with them at an aerobics class for pregnant ladies. The four mothers became very close while they were pregnant. The four girls were all born in the month of September so they have been best firends since birth. After the girls were born their mothers grew apart but the girls became closer.

Carmen bought a pair of jeans at a thrift store and the pants magically fit all four girl perfectly. The pair of pants brought out the best features in the four gilrs. No pair of pants have fit the girls like these did.

This summer was the first summer they would ever be apart and they had the idea of sharing the pants between the four of them. They all met eachother at Gilda's, the aerobics place where thier mothers met, to dicuss the rules and procedure for the pants. Each girl would have the pants for no more than a week and then pass on the pants and a letter talking about all their experiences in the pants to the next girl. They made ten rules the girls must follow while wearing the pants.

Lena was the first one to have the pants during the summer. Her and her sister Effie spent their summer in Greece visting their grandparents. Her friends call Lena "the beauty." Lena is not very into boys but her grandmother insisted on her meeting a boy named Kostos. She had no intention of meeting Kostos because she did not want to deal with any drama but when she finally ran into Kostos, her feelings changed. The pants gave Lena trust and she soon realized that the only person she could not trust was herself.

Tibby stayed home for the summer and believed she was living a depressing life. Tibby's freinds think of her as "the rebel." She had to stay home because she had a job at a place called Wallmans. While Tibby was home she was working on a documentary about the lameness of her hometown. One day at work she met a girl named Bailey. When Tibby first met her she thought of Bailey as one of those annoying girls who talked too much but she soon developed a close relationship with her. Bailey was very interseted in Tibby's life and helped her with the documentary she was making. One day Bailey's mother told Tibby that Bailey had a disease called leukemia. Tibby did not think anything of it at first but when Bailey suddenly stoped showing up at Tibby's house to work on the documentary, Tibby began to get scared. She soon found out that Bailey has been spending all her time at the hospital. When Tibby went to visit Bailey, she brought the pants hoping they would work their magic on Bailey. When Tibby first met Bailey she did not think anything of it but it turned out that Bailey taught Tibby many things about time and living your life.

Carmen's parents were divorced and she wanted to spend her summer with her dad. She did not know what her friends thought of her so she just thought of her self as "the Puerto Rican." When her dad picked her up at the airport she was expecting to go home to the apartment he used to live in but when he pulled into the driveway of this perfect house, she had so many questions. It turned out that her dad, Al, had a fiance he was soon going to marry named Lydia. Lydia had two kids, Krista and Paul. Carmen did not like her dads new family because she thought they did not like her. They were too proper and perfect for Carmen to handle. They were nothing like Carmen. She was tan and built and Krista, Paul, and Lydia were small and blonde. She became very upset because she thought her dad did not want Carmen in his life and forgot all about the life he used to have with Carmen's mother. She was so upset she did not want yo go to his wedding. The pants gave Carmen the courage she needed.

Bridget's mother died a few years before and she continued to live with her dad and brother, Perry. Her father was not very concerned with Bridget's life because she spent most of her time at her friend's houses. Bridget's friends thought of her as "the athlete." She spent her summer at a soccer camp in Baja California. She made many friends at camp and she had the biggest crush on one of the soccer coaches named Eric. She knew she could not have Eric but that only made her want him more. She tried so hard for him to notice her and did anything she could to get attention. She snuck out of her cabin every night hoping he would follow her.

At the end of the summer right before school started, they met again at Gilda's. They did not really talk about what they did during their summer but how the pants brought them together even though they were apart. The theme of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is that friendship is important and someone could rely on it in every aspect of their life.

1. Who do you think needed the pants the most and why?

2. Who do you think had the most memorable summer and why?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things is a book by Anna Godbersen set in the 1920’s about three girls whose lives connect in the illustrious city of New York. Two of the three girls Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur grew up in the small town of Union Ohio. Together they run away to New York City to escape the dull lives they lead. “They came to avoid kitchens and marriages, to a place where they could reasonably claim to be eighteen forever. Or for the foreseeable future, anyway, which seemed to us the same thing. They came mostly, for the fun – especially the young things, especially the girls.” Unfortunately, upon arrival they find that everything they dreamed about the city isn’t true. Astrid Donal, the third girl, is an extremely well off flapper living in New York at the time the other two arrive. After Letty and Cordelia part ways Astrid Donal befriends Cordelia and becomes her guide to the city, introducing her to a variety of things. As time goes on they become inseparable friends who help each other though the thick and thin.
On the other side of New York Letty gets to see a whole different aspect to the infamous city, she has to tough it out mostly alone. She gets a job in a club as a cigarette girl. As she struggles through a less privileged life then Cordelia she learns a lot about herself and how the world really is.
Throughout the story all three girls lose a bit of their innocence. They have to face things about themselves and about the world they previously thought they knew. Do you think it would have been better if the two girls stayed in Union Ohio and left their lives they way they were?

Which of the girls do you think learned more about themselves, Cordelia who was able to become part of the well off side of the city and meet the supportive Astrid or Letty who had to make her own way on the less privileged side of the city?

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The novel starts off with Anna Fitzgerald, a thirteen year old girl, selling some of her belongings in a pawn shop in order to hire a lawyer to sue her parents for the right to her own body. Her sixteen year old sister, Kate, needs a bone marrow transplant in order to survive, and her parents only had another child so that child can donate their organs and bone marrow to Kate. Knowing this is a very serious case, Campbell Alexander accepts to take on Anna's case. Throughout the novel, Anna starts to feel guilty about the decision that she has made, wanting the right to her own body. Anna has been through numerous surgeries, and her mother wants her to donate her kidney to Kate. To Sara, the mother of the three teenagers, Kate always came first, and although she favors her dying daughter, her love for Anna never faded. Before the end of the trial, the reader finds out that Kate was the one who told Anna to get a lawyer because she did not want her little sister to die for her. She knew she was going to die anyways. At the end of the trial, Anna wins her case and the right to her own body. Her family was not upset her actions with the trial. At the end of the novel, Campbell and Anna get in a terrible car accident, the lawyer was not hurt, but Anna was left brain dead. Her organs were then donated to her sister.

1. In some way, do you think Anna's mother, Sara, was relieved to find out that Kate would receive the organ she would need in order to survive?

2. If you were in Sara's shoes, would you do what she did and side with your favorite daughter? Why?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Romanticism Project

Sorry, Ms. Frank, this is not a book post and it isn't my week to post either. I want to see if anyone has Dan Owen's phone number, email address, or any other way of contacting him as he was not here on Monday or Tuesday when we worked on projects. My group needs his work so we can finalize our project for presentation on Monday. If anyone has his email or phone number, can you please leave it in the comments? And again, sorry Ms. Frank, but I have no other way to get his information.

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles is told in two separate points of view: Kiara and Carlos. Kiara, a senior at Flatiron High, has had a nervous stutter her entire life, and it is in her senior year she is determined to become less shy and overcome her stutter. Carlos, a transfer to Flatiron from Mexico, wants nothing less than to have to attend school. With gang affiliations in both Mexico and Flatiron, he just wants to carry on a family tradition that was broken by his older brother Alex, when Alex decided to leave the gang life behind and pursue his girlfriend and his dreams of going to college.

Carlos is perfectly fine finding his own way, and only finds his path impeded by his student aid, Kiara. She was asked to help him around his first week of school and in that first week, they form a friendship that is more than slightly dysfunctional. In trying to shake the attention of one of the most popular girls at school, who has friends who may be part of a gang rival to Carlos' he asks Kiara to become his fake girlfriend. After major internal battling, she agrees, only to find herself falling in love.

Carlos does not believe he can ever fall in love. Being stalked by, and then unwittingly jumped into, a new, more powerful gang, means dating Kiara would be putting her and her family, whom he had come to live with after being falsely accused of possessing drugs, in danger. But he did not want to stay away from her.

1.) Carlos and Kiara try to battle the odds by being a couple...her the quiet, unsocial introvert and him the gang-related bad boy. Realistically, would there relationship be able to survive? Explain.

2.) Kiara's best friend, Tuck, has never liked a boy she dated, until Carlos. Carlos is mean to Tuck, but by trying to protect Kiara, they form an unlikely friendship. Should Tuck have held a grudge against Carlos for all the times Carlos had been mean to both him and Kiara, or should he be as forgiving as Kiara, if for nothing else than for her? Explain.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to to fade away. Planet Earth has been invaded by an unseen enemy and humans have become hosts for these unseen creatures. These "souls" come from a distant place and inhabit the bodies of creatures of different planets; the hosts' mind is taken over, but their bodies are still intact and they continue to live their lives apparently unchanged. These "souls" live lives of peace; never fighting, never stealing, never lying. It is unnecessary to take protective measures on Earth while the "souls" inhabit it because of their way of peace. Most of the human race has been taken into this new life style. However there are still a few survivors who are in hiding that have refused to succumb to the "souls". One girl, named Melanie was one of the remaining humans not occupied by an invader. However, while on the run with her brother Jamie, and a man she fell in love with, Jared, to find the safe haven her uncle left behind for her, she is captured. The "soul' that now occupies her her body is called Wanderer. Wanderer is warned of the dangers of living in a human body; the strong emotions and vivid memories could be over whelming. The first few days of Wanderer's existence in Melanie's body goes by without trouble, but soon enough Melanie begins to fight back. Wanderer is at times herself, but at others, Melanie grabs hold of her own conscience and tries to order her body the way she used to. The event of a human being strong enough to fight back is very rare, but Wanderer refuses to give in to Melanie. She hears Melanie's thoughts and often talks to her. Because she is able to see how Melanie feels, she begins to break away from the peaceful life of the souls and tries to find the remaining humans. Also by listening to Melanie's thoughts, Wanderer begins to fall in love with Jared and develops a sisterly love towards Jamie. The two are forcibly allied and as one they make their way to the remaining humans. At first Wanderer is locked up and treated with great caution but eventually proves herself. Both Jared and Jamie had already found their way to this safe haven and at the sight of Melanie, pain is great in them. Jamie learns to trust Wanderer and makes a bond with her, and is able to feel Melanie sometimes, while Jared does not trust Wanderer but at times when Melanie is strongest he can feel her presence and learns to endure Wanderer. While at the safe haven Wanderer comes to make new friends. A man named Ian also begins to fall in love with Wanderer. It is hard for both Melanie who has to be with Ian because of Wanderer, and is hard for Jared because he sees Melanie's body with Ian. In due coarse however, Wanderer attains a body for her own and Melanie is given back her own body. Both Melanie and Wanderer are given a life to live where one is not at the mercy of another.

1. Melanie fights through Wanderer to sometimes gain conscience of her own body. She is strongest when she thinks of Jared and her brother Jamie. Do you think this is because of the strength of her love for these two men, her unwillingness to be taken, or both? Do you think that this shows love is one of the strongest emotions of a human being?

2. Throughout the novel, it is shown that souls lack the intensity of emotions that humans feel. It is also shown that they have a very peaceful way of life. Do you think this shows that human emotions contribute to many of the crimes that occur in the real world?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

This book, Prince Caspian, is the fourth book in The Chronicles of Narnia. In this book, Peter Edmund, Susan and Lucy all are on their way back to boarding school when they get transported to an unknown ruin. After exploring the ruin, the believe it to be a part of Narnia, a land in which they went to the year previously. They question whether it is actually Narnia because it has turned to a ruin, but they realize that time runs differently in this world. While sitting by a fire, they see two guards trying to drown a dwarf, and Susan uses he bow and saves the dwarf. The dwarf then joins their party. The dwarf then explains this is Narnia and they have been called upon by the horn. Peter and Edmund were kings and Susan and Lucy were queens of Narnia thousands of years ago and the horn was given to Susan in case she needed help. When the horn was blown they were transported here. The horn was blown because since their time, Telmarines took over Narnia and the true Narnians, also known as the "Talking Beasts" were fighting back. The leader of the Telmarines son, Caspian, disagreed with his fathers ideals and fled in order to escape his death. He later discovers the talking beasts and decides to befriend them. They consider Caspian their king and are in a war with the Telmarines. In dire conditions, the horn was blown and the kings and queens come. The dwarf tells them and they are here to help the cause. They get lost along the way and eventually reach their base. They are struggling but High King Peter challenges the Telmarine leader to a one-on-one match to end the fighting.

If your father and you did not see eye to eye and disagreed on beliefs, would you leave without knowing what is beyond the castle walls or would you stay in a place that you are familiar with and accept that you do not agree?

In the situation of the High King Peter, would you try to end the battle quickly like he tries even though he will lose his life if he loses or would you try to use strategy to overcome your opponent even though your chances are slim?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Black Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham


In the Black Dragon Codex you follow the adventure of the black dragon whelp, Septimus, and the thief Satia. Septimus is trying to start a hoard so he can be recognized as an adult dragon. He waits patiently in human form at an auction for a rare valuable magical artifact. When he loses the auction he becomes angry and ravages the town in his dragon form. Meanwhile Satia sneaks out of the mission home she is staying in and goes to check on her friends in the auction. However she is captured by the angry Septimus.

Septimus takes her to the cave, where he lives with his mother. However before they even land they are attacked by a wizard. Septimus's mother tries to fight him, but is captured by the wizard. Before he can capture her son however she forces him to change into human form and he fall from the air with Satia and escapes. The two are forced to work together, despite their distrust, if only to escape the wizard. Satia mainly working with Septimus to find his mother, because he threatened to kill her otherwise. Not the best working relationship, but good enough for them.

After a couple of tumble ins with the wizard they get captured by these slave owners. They are forced to mine with the goblins that are trapped there. Satia convinces Septimus that they can escape if they catch the hobgoblins by surprise. They smuggle explosives from the mining site and plant them around the camp of hobgoblins. Satia goes to help a stuck goblin in the blast zone, however she gets buried in dirt from the explosion."The last thing Satia saw was a dark flow of earth that bore her over the edge of the crevice." (Henham 84) She is later dug out by the goblins. Satia and Septimus later escape with the help of the prisoners.

They stage a rescue mission on the wizards castle with the help of a goblin from the camp called Gneech. They sneak through abandoned passage ways and eventually rescue Septimus's mother."Pausing he climbed over a fallen mass of rocks within a deep corridor." (129) I'll stop there so I don't spoil the ending.

1) Do you think Satia should go on working with Septimus even though he threatens her? Or should she try to escape and leave Septimus to fend for his own looking for his mother?

2) Even though Septimus wants to leave on his own, and be recognized as an adult he still feels the need to help his mother. He is still a little boy at heart. As young adults we are starting to look to try and make a life of our own. Is it important to rely on your parents even though you are trying to be a adult, or should you make your own way without any help?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri

The Inferno begins with Dante traveling through dark and dangerous woods. He has strayed off the righteous path and is heading closer to becoming a sinner. While he is traveling he comes upon a break in the forest and finds a giant mountain. Compelled, he tries to scale it, only to be stopped by three beasts. Discouraged, Dante goes back into the woods. It is there that heaven sent aid is given to Dante as Virgil's ghost. Virgil tells Dante that he can redeem himself and get back to the righteous path by going up the mountain and through hell. Virgil easily defeats the beasts and they make it to the mountain's top. There they find the gates of hell and descend into purgatory. Once they pass purgatory, Dante is lead by Virgil through the nine rings of hell, defeating various monsters and meeting various forsaken souls on the way. At first, Dante pities them and is affected by their torment so much that he faints. But as he descends into hell's lower levels, he begins to harden his heart and even helps torture some of the souls. He learns that they are damned souls and do not deserve his kindness. Once Dante gets to the center of hell, he must defeat the Devil, least he be denied redemption.

Questions

1)Do you think it was right of Dante to help torment the damned? If so, why?
2)Do you think Dante would not have succeeded if he had not changed his mindset and had continued to pity the tortured souls?