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
**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?


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.

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?