Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fight Club

Well, the first rule about fight club is, you don't talk about fight club.
This book written by Chuck Palahniuk is a book about a restless insomniac. The man attends a support group for men with cancer, as prescribed by his doctor so he could see what "real suffering" was. For some reason, listening to other's problems and doing some crying on his own, the narrator's insomnia ceases. While at these support groups, he meets a strange woman named Marla Singer. Marla calls him out for "faking", even though she is a woman at a support group for men with testicular cancer.

One day while at a bar, the narrator meets an intriguing man named Tyler Durden. They soon become friends, but not long after they meet, the narrator's apartment explodes. So the narrator asks to stay at Tyler's house, Tyler's only request was for the narrator to, "hit me in the face as hard as you can." This action spurs Fight Club, a "Club" that takes place in a bar basement, and anyone can join. The Club is basically a way for the men to get out their stress, and many men join. Without the narrator's consent, Tyler expands the Club in to an anarchy-crazed group of extremists that will go to great lengths to upset the establishment. With the Club completely out of control, the narrator is not left with many options.

1. Do you think it was hypocritical of Marla to call him a "faker"?

2. How or why do you think the narrator's apartment exploded?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon is a story told from the first person perspective of Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen year old boy with Asperger's, who currently lives in Swindon with his father. His disorder makes it very difficult for him to relate to and understand human emotions, although he is very good with animals. This also means he is very good at logical things such as maths and sciences. He also knows all of the countries in the world, and their capitols, as well as many prime numbers. Among his peculairities is his irrational fear of being touched. Routine, order, and predictability help him get through his day to day life as well as shelter him from the outside world, until one afternoon when he finds his neighbor's dog, Wellington, impaled by a garden fork. This discovery inspires him to be like Sherlock Holmes, his idol, and solve the mystery of Wellington's true murderer, and throughout his journey, his investigation leads him down many unexpected paths.

Discussion Questions:

1. Christopher's father confesses to killing Wellington in a moment of rage at Mrs. Shears and swears to Christopher that he will not lie to him ever again. Christopher thinks, "I have to get of this house. Father has murdered Wellington. That means he could murder me, because I cannot trust him, even though he said, 'Trust me,' because he told a lie about a big thing," (122). Why is Christopher's world shattered by this realization? Is it likely that he will ever learn to trust his father again?

2. In this novel, some scenes seem comical. Why are they funny? And, are these same situations also sad or frustrating?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Walk To Remember- Nicholas Sparks

"Love is like the wind, you can't see it but you can feel it."

What happens when the highschool stud falls for the crazy science girl? Stories like these never end well. When Landon Carter fell deeply in love with Jamie Sullivan their lives were changed forever. They grew up in the same schools. He was the rebellious boy, and she was the Jesus-freak of a girl. Her father was the church's reverand, she was the one always with her bible in her hands.

When Landon got into some trouble, he was told he had to participate in the school play. Which was ran by Jamie and her father. As he began spending more time with her, he began slowly falling in love. He was no longer embarassed of her nerdy outfits, or her bible. He learned more about her on a personal level. She was an amazing singer, really smart, an only child living with her dad, and loved each and every one of the stars. The more he learned the harder he fell for her.

Until one day, she found that she had lukemia a deadly form of cancer. She knew she had little time to live, but she did not tell Landon until she was visibly sick. She just wanted to spend all the rest of the time she had with her loving boyfriend and caring father. When Landon found how sick she really was, he was truly upset. He bought her a star and spent as much time with her as possible.

"Love is patient love is kind...."

1) What would you do if you had one day left on earth?

2) Do you think it's possible today, to fall for someone you thought you "knew" all of your life?

Monday, May 30, 2011

I am The Messenger

The protagonist in this novel is a nineteen year old cabdriver in a big city of Australia. His name is Ed Kennedy. Ed is what some may call, “your average Joe”, but he proves more than that in the story. Out of all of his siblings, Ed still lives in the town that he grew up in. Ed hasn’t quite opened his eyes to his future that he could potential have if he would just try. Ed lives a very simple life unlike his siblings who have high paying occupations. His family isn’t mentioned in great detail. His mother claims that Ed is a failure just like his dad who never accomplished anything in life, and died an alcoholic. “You’re just like him.” (Zusak, 39) is the response Ed’s mother gave him when Ed asked why she didn’t approve of him. Ed’s mother does love him, but does not love the fact that he is headed the same way in society as his father.

The beginning of the novel starts off with Ed and his friend Marv, going to the bank, but while they are at the bank a robbery is present. Ed is titled a hero in the newspaper the following day, because he stops the gunman in his tracks inadvertently when he decided to flee away. Ed is asked by the police to come to court to serve as a witness to the robbery. At the end of the trial, the gunman says this to Ed, “You’re a dead man” (Zusak, 39) Ed is quite frightened by this since the robber is only in jail for six months. Ed finally forgets about the saying until a few days later when he starts to receive playing cards in his mail. After Ed is crowned a local hero in the newspaper, his life starts to give him a range of feelings. He only receives the ace playing card in the four suites. Each card had a total of three titles, addresses or clues for Ed to help him find his recipients. He never learns who sends all the aces of each suit until the end, but each suit is symbolic to how Ed must help the people. For example, the people he met with the ace of diamonds symbolized the need to protect peole from physical or emotional harm. The order of the aces went diamonds, clubs, spades and then hearts. From the beginning to the end of the novel, Ed’s life is totally changed by the one day he thought he was just going to go to the bank.

Discussion Questions:

1.If you were chosen by a random person to deliver messages to such strangers would you be willing to do it like Ed? Why or Why not?

2.Who do you believe is sending Ed the secret messages and why?


Illusions is a tale of Donald Shimoda and Richard Bach. They meet on one day, both flying biplanes across the country, giving people rides for a living. But Donald is different; he’s a messiah. The thing is, he never wanted to be. So, possibly out of boredom, Donald starts teaching Richard how to be a messiah himself. They keep on flying from town to town, Donald teaching Richard more and more about himself, others, and the world they live in. In all honestly, the plot of this story is more of a way of organizing Richard’s ideas about philosophy so my efforts here are limited. But the lessons in this book are likely to stay with me for the rest of my life.

1) At times, Richard had trouble believing what Donald was doing and saying; at one point, Donald walks through a wall. If someone was doing things like this, do you think you would be able to believe it?

2) One of Donald’s lessons was that “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy.” Do you think this lesson is true?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells

Time. Everybody knows of it but how much do we know? Some say their are four dimensions; length, width, depth and time. If we can manipulate length, width and depth, then why not time? This first person story views the life of a journalist who is a witness to time travel. This character meets a man known a The Time Traveler. The Time Traveler tells the narrator of his breakthrough and of his occurrences in the future. To many, the future is not how we think it would be according to Wells. Many of the other people in the book do not believe the Traveler, but the narrator hears in his voice that he is not lying and eventually witnesses this. Wells is trying to show that there is no such thing as a utopia through this book, no matter how much we long for one.
1. If you could time travel where would it be to?
2. Do you think time travel is possible?

The Choice; Nicholas Sparks

The Choice begins with Travis Parker, a carefree single man, loving and living the life. He lives on the water in North Carolina. He hangs out with his buddies and is a veternarian. One day his dog and his neighbor's dog have a run in with eachother. His neighbor, Gabby Holland, yells at him for his dog in her yard because her dog is pregnant from his. Gabby is a physician's assistant and has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Kevin, for a long time. Gabby and Travis begin to get to know eachother and their chemistry is undeniable. Kevin isn't always around and this makes it harder for Gabby to decide what she wants. She ends up with Travis. They get married and everything is perfect. They have a child but ten years after they meet, there is a terrible accident. Travis and Gabby are driving and Travis gets into a car accident. He is fine but Gabby suffers and is in a coma. She is in the coma for months, and the doctors think she won't make it. The choice for Travis is to let his wife go or hold onto hope?

1. If you were Travis, would you keep your hope or let go?
2. How would you feel if you were responsible for causing somone else pain? Like how Travis feels guilty for getting in the car accident.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter was orphaned at a young age when both of his parents died in a tragic car accident. He was forced to live with his atrocious aunt and uncle, leading a miserable life, outshined by his cousin Dudley. One day after mysterious letters begin coming, a giant comes to tell Harry that he is a wizard, just like his parents. To begin his wizard education, Harry goes to a magical school called Hogwarts where he meets his two best friends. Harry soon learns that he is famous in the wizard world for his scar that was left after his parents sacrificed their lives for him. Harry soon has to stop evil at Hogwarts when he discovers a powerful artifact called the sorcerers stone is about to be stolen by the man who killed his parents, Lord Voldemort. In the end Harry defeats Voldemort thwarting his plans.....for now.
1.If you discovered that you had been lied to your entire life, how would you feel and what would you do?
2. If you found out that you could be a wizard, would you? Keep in mind you would have to leave the normal world behind.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dear John, Nicholas Sparks

Dear John is a love story by Nicholas Sparks. The main character is John Tyree, a twenty-three year old male, who is in the special forces. When John comes home to Wilmington, North Carolina he unexpectedly falls in love with a beautiful young lady named Savannah. Unfortunately, at the end of the two weeks they are forced to part and John needs to return to the service and it is time for Savannah to attend college. John's father helped her choose her field of study; she noticed that he suffers a mental disability and wanted to be able to help people like him. John and Savannah promised each other that they would write as often as they can and never stop. They stay together for John's entire term and Savannah is very excited for them to start their lives together. Little does she know that John has reenlisted due to the attack of September 11. Savannah sends John one final letter, this is one that he is not excited to receive. She tells him plainly that she has found another man and is engaged. She gives no reason or explanation to who the man may be. When John returns home for his fathers funeral he finds out who Savannah is married to and finally gets an explanation to why. The man is a shock for John; he is an older man named Tim. He has always seemed as more of an older brother to Savannah then a possible romance. When John meets with Savannah she informs him that Tim has cancer and he needed someone to raise his son. Savannah says how she never wanted to leave John and it was the hardest thing she has ever done. John and Savannah both end up living fulfilling lives but whether it is together or not you will have to read to find out.

1) If you were Savannah would you leave John to help Tim?
2) Would you wait for a loved one who is in the military knowing that you may never see them again or try to find a more stable relationship?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In this instillation of the Harry Potter series Harry finds him self back at his Aunt's home stuck with his Uncle's fat and rude sister. Harry leaves after causing her to inflate and takes a night bus to Diagon alley only after escaping a large black dog. At Hogwarts Harry learns that a notorious man named Sirius Black who turns out to be Harry's dad's friend. Black and Proffesor Lupin discover that Ron's pet rat is really Peter Pettigrew the man that killed Harry's Parents. After defeating Pettigrew Lupin sees the full moon and turns into a werewolf, and Black turns into a dog to defend Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. The book ends with Harry time traveling backwards to save himself and Black. On his way back to his Uncle's house for the summer he receives a letter from Black explaining that he gave Harry a quiditch broom and Ron's Owl.

Would you trust Black?

What do you think of Harry's parent's murderers living with them as a rat?

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

The Tillerman children; Dicey, James, Maybeth, Sammy, are forced on a trek to find there Great-aunt Cilla. The Tillerman's mother took the children on a car ride to visit their great-aunt but half way through the journey there mother put the oldest Dicey in charge while she went to go run an errand. The Tillermans mother never returned. Dicey takes charge and the next day she leads the other children to find there Great-aunt Cilla on foot. The children have to live on there own, finding the cheapiest food they could get, looking for money and empty houses or anywhere to sleep. After walking through a park, meeting a runaway couple, Sammy decides to steal money and food so they must run from cops now. The kids reach the Conneticut River but they continue to run out of money so dicey has to do odd jobs to earn enough money to feed them all. On there journey they befriend two college students Stewart and Windy. They spend the night with them and Stewart takes them to there Great-aunt's the next day. There Great-aunt Cilla they find is dead and there cousin Eunice takes them in. She takes care of them and sends them to a catholic school but the kids seem to be growing apart and when Sammy is believed to be mental retarded it is the last straw for Dicey and while Eunice is considering adaopting them but sending Sammy away they leave on the hunt for there Grandma Tillerman. All the while they find out there mpother was put in a mental hospital in Boston. The kids have many adventures finding there grandma. They take buses and boats, they befriend many new characters too who protect them and they stay with a circus. They meet a man names Will who looks over them and takes them to their grandmas but he leaves them there for Dicey says they must face it alone. They find there old, mean grandma in a run down farm with a boat in the barn and she refuses to let them stay for good just for the night.Later while grandma is writing a letter to Eurnice she explains to Dicey that she really does want to keep them but she has no money, she likes the freedom she has and she doesnt want to mess them up like the mistakes she made on her own kids that drove them to run away. THe nest couple days though their grandmother seems to have forgotten and takes thme in letting them stay.

1. If your mother left you alone with your three younger siblings in a car in the middle of no where, would you do what Dicey does, would you stay in the car or would you go looking for your mother?

2. If one of your siblings were going to be sent away for mental redardation, which you dont belive she has, owuld you let it happen and seperate your family or would you run away like Dicey?

Being by Kevin Brooks

"Being" by Kevin Brooks is a story about a young boy named Robert Smith. Robert does not know his birth parents, and has been jumping from foster home to foster home his whole life. However, when he goes to the doctor for a routine examination for a stomach ulcer, things get crazy. During the procedure, he wakes up from the anesthesia. He is unable to move or speak, but he can feel pain, see, and hear everything around him. There were numerous doctors in the room and large men with pistols. They were looking into Robert's stomach with disbelief. They talked about how they have never seen such a thing before, and wondered what he was.

Once Robert finally has control of his body, he freaks out. Unaware of what they saw or who they are, he takes a gun and flees. He is not sure what is wrong with him. Throughout the book, there are stolen cars, kidnaps, and even murders as Robert flees from doctors and members of a "secret society."

1. If you were in Robert's position, would you run away from the doctors, or would you trust them to figure out who and what you were?

2. Robert never had anyone in his life who really cared for him or listened to him. How would you cope with having no one?

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code begins with the death of the Louvre curator, murdered by a man in search of key to the location of the Holy Grail. When the curator's body is found in the pose of the Vitruvian Man, the police call for a professor named Robert Langdon. In describing Langdon, the narrator states, "As someone who had spent his life exploring the hidden interconnectivity of disparate emblems and ideologies, Langdon viewed the world as a web of profoundly intertwined histories and events" (15). However, Langdon is not present to analyze the codes, but because the curator wrote on the museum floor to "find Robert Langdon" in his dying moments.
Sophie Neveu, a cryptographer, appears at the murder scene as well, and she secretly tells Langdon that he is a suspect. She explains that she is the granddaughter of the curator, and she knows that her grandfather meant for Langdon to decipher the code, not that he was the murderer. The two escape the police with the discovery that the keystone is in a safety deposit box. There they find a hand-held vault, locked by a combination and equipped with a vial of vinegar which will dissolve the message if the container is forced open.
Langdon and Neveu visit Langdon's friend, Sir Leigh Teabing, an expert in the Holy Grail. Teabing tells them the legend of the Holy Grail, and his belief that it is the tomb of Jesus Christ's wife rather than a cup. The three of them flee the country in Teabing's plane, in which they discover the combination to open the vault. Inside is another, along with a riddle which leads the group to Westminster Abbey. There, the identity of the man for which the curator's murderer works, the Teacher, is revealed. At gunpoint, Langdon destroys the contents of the vault in front of the Teacher, after secretly removing the message. The police arrive and the Teacher is arrested, and Sophie and Langdon are free to follow the final clues to the guardians of the Holy Grail.

At his home, Teabing tells Sophie and Langdon what he believes the Holy Grail to be, a twist to the common belief. Teabing explains the possibility in saying, "History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books- books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe" (256).
Do you agree with this statement?
How does that change what we should believe?

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

Landon Carter is very popular at his school. He and some of his friends decide to pull a prank on a kid at school which puts the kid in the hospital and paralyzed him. He was punished by having to do community service and perform in the school play. He met Jamie Sullivan and asked her to help him with learning his lines for the play. They spent a lot of time together and eventually started to have feelings for each other. Jamie had a secret that she knew she had to tell Landon. She told him that she had cancer and the medicine didn't work anymore. Landon was crushed and didn't know what to do but he started spending all his time with Jamie. Eventually he asked her to marry him so they could spend the rest of their time together and that was what she really wanted. Later on she died and Landon went to medical school because Jamie wanted him to be successful in life. He still went to see Jamie's father to talk and stay in contact.

1. If you were in love and you knew the person you were in love with was dying, would you marry them even though you know they don't have much time left and know that's what they wanted?

2. Do you think it is possible for someone to change so quickly like Landon did? He went from being someone that didn't care what they did to other people to someone that loved one person and would do anything for them.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Ghosts of Ashbury High

Amelia and Riley are two new students attending Ashbury High School. They are seniors. Their fellow charcters and notoriously rich kids emily, lydia, toby and others are in their close circle of friends. Emily and Lydia are absolutely head over heals obsessed with the new couple attending their school. Riley and Amelia are super smart and super fast swimmers. Emily becomes very spooked by the Art Rooms(which used to be dorm rooms bakc when the school was a boarding school). She is absolutely certain a ghost is living there and it is picking on her. Signs of this include : orange peels left behind by the ghost, only emily getting goose bumps, etc.
1. Do you believe in ghosts?
2. What draws the line for you between ghosts and paranormal activity? whats the difference?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ender’s Game by Orsen Scott Card

Ender’s Game is, on the surface, the story of how one six year old boy named Ender came to win the greatest war ever fought by humankind. Ender is born into a world that is shaped by the First and Second Invasions, the times when an alien race (called “buggers” by the characters) attacked the Earth, with superior weapons and far greater numbers. Earth was only saved from destruction when a commander named Mazer Rackham used a brilliant strategy to kill a pivotal leader of theirs, and ended the war. Now humanity is preparing to end the threat posed by the buggers once and for all, by finding a commander capable of the kind of strategic thinking that allowed Rackham’s victory. They turn to the Wiggins family, where first Peter is born. Peter, they quickly learn, is mostly devoid of compassion and desires control more than anything else. Valentine, the second, is incredibly empathetic and seen as too soft. Then Ender, the third child is born. He combines the better traits of his siblings and goes to Battle School, where children are taught to fight in space and lead armies. Ender is isolated and treated differently from the first day, by the officers that purposefully make his peers dislike him. Whenever Ender finally becomes accustomed to his situations, they advance him in the army so that he must start again. Although he makes friends along the way, he is never able to depend upon the trust of others. Life in the Battle School is centered on the “games” played by the armies of children, when they face each other in mock combat. Ender, by far the youngest commander of an army, has the odds increasingly stacked against him by General Graff and Admiral Anderson, the leaders of the school. Although Ender is aware that they are purposefully pushing him to his limits, he perseveres and becomes the brilliant soldier that they were hoping for. He is then sent to Commander School, where he is worked day and night in running a “simulation game” where he controls an army of ships facing programmed buggers. His mind begins to break from the stress and work he is put through, but he still makes it through to what the adults around him call his Final Exam. He faces impossible odds- he is outnumbered a thousand to one in this simulation. Ender does manage to end the game though, by destroying the planet the enemy ships were protecting- he does this out of defiance for all of the “games” he has been forced to play in his life, as he believes that destroying a planet will not be an acceptable strategy, and he will finally fail, to be sent home. However, Graff reveals to him shortly afterwards that the “games” he has been playing through the simulation were all real- Ender himself led the Third Invasion, and obliterated the buggers and their home.

1) The novel deals heavily with the morality behind “the ends justify the means.” The leaders of the military push children to their breaking points in hopes of finding one capable of Rackham’s brilliance, and then manipulate him into killing an entire race, which rests heavily on his conscience. General Graff says, "Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me—to find out what you're good for. We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we were good tools” (131), as a way of justifying his actions. It was later shown that we were at war simply because humans and buggers could not communicate, and both thought the other was hostile. Do you think that the military had the right to use children as they did?
2) Ender, throughout the novel, commits some horrible crimes. While only six and still on Earth, he was confronted by a pack of bullies who wanted to hurt him for being smarter than them. He managed to break the leader’s nose, and saw that he could have walked away then as the others tended to his nose. However, he continued attacking the boy because he knew that unless he won decisively, his torment at their hands would never end. Much the same thing happened years later, except with much older children who intended to kill Ender. It is later revealed that although Ender did not know at the time, he killed the two boys. Ender says “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves” (204). Ender sees himself as a killer, and hates himself for it- he worries that he is like his sadistic older brother. Do you think that these actions make Ender a bad person, or do you see it as justified because he was defending himself?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Conrad's Fate ~Diana Wynne Jones

Conrad's Fate is about a young boy named Conrad, who is told by his miserly that he has bad karma. Conrad's Uncle Alfred tells him that someone at the nearby mansion, Stallery, is the reason for Conrad's bad karma. Uncle Alfred tells Conrad that he was supposed to kill this person in a previous life, so in order to have good karma again, Conrad must kill this person, thus reversing the karma. Therefore, Conrad leaves school, instead of going to upper school, to get a job at Stallery. He is told by the mayor, who has magical abilities, that once he is there, "The person he needs will say or do something...and he'll know" (38). Conrad and another boy his age, Christopher, are both given the job of Improvers. They are being trained to be butlers at Stallery, so for the time they are both staying at Stallery.
As time progresses, Conrad cannot seem to find the person he was sent to look for. Conrad confides in Christopher that he has bad karma, in hopes that Christopher will help him look for the person. Christopher dismisses Conrad's karma, saying that Conrad does not have any bad karma. He claims that he can sense no bad karma on Conrad. Although Christopher admits that there is something bad going on at Stallery, but he will not say what. Then Conrad notices Christopher sneaking out at night and catches him in the act. Conrad sneaks after Christopher to confront him, but when he catches up, something shakes the entire building. When the shaking stops, they are no longer in Stallery, they are on the roof of another decrepit building. Christopher and Conrad then devise that the shift was caused by the quaking from moments before and that the shaking was not natural. While they are trying to find their way back, Christopher explains that his friend Millie had gotten lost somewhere near Stallery and that the shift must be why he could not find her.
After the two get back, there are more shifts, but they do not get transported each time. They find that only one place in Stallery is where the shifts are the strongest, which was why they ended up somewhere else. After searching all of Stallery, they find the machine causing the shifts in the wine cellar. The shifts are being caused by Mr. Amos to shift the "probabilities" into more profitable chances.
The shifts are getting more frequent every day and Millie is nowhere to be found. At this point, Christopher is tired of waiting and wants to fake sick in order to get out of work, so he can look for Millie during the daytime. He tells Conrad, "Cover up for saying I'm ill. Pretend I'm up here covered in green and yellow spots" (227). This leaves Conrad with double the work and he often gets blamed for the results of the shifts, which often move chairs or change foods. After days, Christopher has not returned at all, which leaves Conrad to wonder if Christopher got stuck in one of the other probabilities. He has to decide if he should go off to bring Christopher back, or stay at Stallery and not get into trouble.

1. If you had a friend that was lost in another world, would you go after them, even if it was very risky to yourself? Or would you leave them to find their own way back?
2. If you had the ability to change the "probabilities" of the world to your favor, would you do it?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Small Steps

The novel "Small Steps" written by Louis Sachar is the sequel to his previous novel "Holes". It tells of the life that a camp member at Camp Green Lake detention center mentioned in "Holes" named Armpit or Theodore. He lives in Texas next door to a little girl named Ginny. She has cerebral palsy. Armpit is trying to make an honest living being a landscaper when X-Ray, his friend from Camp Green Lake, shows up with a money making idea: ticket scalping of a Kaira DeLeon concert. At first he is skeptical of taking part in illegal behavior after his visit at Camp Green Lake, but he is eventually persuaded by X-Ray. Before the day of selling the tickets, Armpit decides to take Ginny to the concert because she is a big fan of Kaira. X-Ray gives them two tickets, but it turns out that they were fake copies. Armpit is arrested at the concert but he is saved by the mayor whom he did landscaping for. Kaira DeLeon invites them for a backstage experience because of the incident. From the beginning there is an immediate spark between Armpit and Kaira. His opinion of her changes from being,"Kind of sassy and playful...," to respect for her daily concerns and difficulties (15). Between them they will go through their ups and downs and even a life threatening situation. Sachar takes us on an amazing journey with the two people from two different worlds and their love for each other.

1. Do you think that one should take some small steps to reach his or her goal and take big steps when they readily become available or always take small steps or always big steps? Why?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is the last bit of wisdom that the engineer Pausch wants to leave for the world to see. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and sometimes professors would give "last lectures" and talk about what kind of wisdom they would impart upon the world if it was their last day. When Randy, father of three and faithful husband, learned he had terminal cancer, he decided he would do a real last lecture. He actually knows that his days are numbered and it makes the Last Lecture all the more intruiging. He starts with talking about childhood dreams. As a kid he said he always had very specific things he wanted to accomplish before he died. He accomplished all of the things on his list and he wanted to tell the world that people should really try to achieve their childhood dreams, because they make life all the more wonderful. He then talks a little about his life, and how living as a staunch optimist really helped him through the years. A good piece of advice he gives is that obstacles are only put in our way so we can show how much we want it. the book goes into a section about how it is as important to help others achieve their childhood dreams as is it to achieve your own, and little will feel as good. He later discusses all these tactics for living your life to the fullest and getting what you want from it. At the end he reveals that the reason he gave this lecture and went so in detail about his life was to give his kids a decent understanding of him after he passes away.
1. If you knew you only had a few months to live, what would you do?
2.What do you feel is more important, achieve your own dreams or helping others do the same?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

John Tyree is a staff sergeant in the Army Special Forces. While he is on leave during spring break, he meets a girl at the beach named Savannah Lynn Curtis. He is walking along the beach when he sees that Savannah dropped her bag over the edge of the dock and John ran in the water to get it for her. They meet and over the two week period while he is home, they fall in love. Savannah takes John back to her house for a barbeque where he meets her family and friends. He meets Tim Wheddon and his son Alan, who has autism. Savannah meets John's father where she finds out that they do not have a close relationship because his father is only interested in his coin collection. Savannah mentions to John that Tim may have autism like Alan. John gets upset over her assumption and they get into a fight. In the process of their fight, John accidentally punches Tim. John feels bad and apologizes. Savannah and John make up. John's leave is up so he must go back to enlist in the army. They begin to have a long-disance relationship through letters. John was planning on leaving the army but when 9-11 occured, he re-enlisted. Over the next two years, they correspond through letters. One letter John recieves informed him that Savannah has been engaged to someone else. John is deeply depressed by her news. John soon after is informed that his father has had a stroke. He returns home and goes to the hospital where he found that his father has died. He goes to visit Savannah where he finds that Savannah has married Tim and that Tim has cancer. He is informed that Tim is confined in a hospital where he is in need of an experimental drug but they can not afford it. John goes to visit Tim in the hospital where Tim tells him that Savannah is still in love him John but Tim is happy that there is someone to take care of his son, Alan. John sells his father's coin collection and puts the money toward financing Tim's drug. The generous donati0n saved Tim. John and Savannah meet again when she goes out on her farm to look at the moon to remember all the moments she has spent with John.
1. Do you think two people could fall in love in two weeks?
2. If John would have been home, do you think he could have saved his father from dying?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir about a family who made life an adventure without any money. Jeannette's father was famous for checking out "Rex Wall's style" - not paying the bill. As a child, it seemed like Jeannete was grown up. She knew there was no Santa Claus-those other kids were dumb to be fooled by their parents. It did not faze her to wait unil a couple days after Christmas to use other people's wrapping paper to wrap their gifts or to use their thrown away Christmas tree. There were times when they slept on cardboard, played with rocks and fought over the only food in the house - a stick of butter. They travelled all over and lived off what they could - it seemed natural to her. Her father was always looking for the big deal so he could build the Glass Castle. What is interesting is that Jeannette gets the "glass castle" but it is not the greatest thing in her life. She has everything money can buy, but at a cost that she had not anticipated when fulfilling her dreams.

A. Would you rather be poor and happy or rich but unfulfilled?

B. How would you overcome not having any money, terrible living conditions and parents who were mentally unstable?

Melinda Doolittle

This autobiography is about of one the most unforgettable, selfless contestants to ever grace the stage of American Idol. Melinda Doolittle, from season 6 had an insprational journey to get herself where she is today. Although she only made it to top ten, she sang her songs with all her heart and touched many souls with her sweet sounds. Her life was not always easy, she was poor growing up, and says that God has gotten her through every obstical life brings. Praying is her answer to everything. When Melinda was a young teenager, she auditioned for the grammer-school chior. They let her in because of her charisma, but said she was not good enough to sing; they asked her to lip-synch so that her voice would not be heard. Melinda was not offended by this, she was just happy to be apart of the music. One day, when she was in a shoe store, Melinda heard Whitney Houston on the music system and she has been her inspiration ever since. Melinda wanted to sing in a talent show but no one believed in her except her mother. She prayed and prayed and when she got on stage a beatiful voice rang out shocking everyone in the audience. After that, she was asked by Roz Thompson to be a back-up singer. Her phone started ringing off the hook and she soon became a professional backgroud singer. Then, she tried out for American Idol season six, and made it into the top ten. "without God...I'm tone deaf," Melinda said.

1) Would you have been insulted to be asked to lip-synch in a chior? Would you quit the chior if they asked you to do that?

2)Would you have the nerve to sing alone in a talent show knowing you've been shut down many times before then?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green tells the story of Miles, a teenager who is unsatisfied with his daily life and his "school friends." Thus, he decides to leave his dull life and go to a boarding school, Culver Creek. Once there, he meets his roommate, Chip, better known by his nickname: "The Colonel." The Colonel takes Miles to Alaska's room to buy some cigarettes. Now Alaska is pretty darn sexy, and Miles develops strong feelings for her throughout the entire story even with her moodiness and impulsiveness. A faster pace of life is provided for Miles as he Alaska, the Colonel, Takumi (another student), and Lara (another other student) play pranks, drink, and smoke themselves into oblivion. This continues at least until one faithful night. The Colonel, Alaska, and Miles are hanging out in a barn drinking and Miles begins to find out that Alaska may have feelings for him as well when she dares him to hook up with her. Unfortunately, Miles' romantic encounter with Alaska is cut short when she becomes very distressed and runs out of the barn and drives away in her car, completely wasted. The next day, news breaks to the school that Alaska died that night when she hit a police car. Miles and his friends are absolutely distraught. They search for evidence as to whether the death of Alaska was suicide or was indeed accidental. Her death forces Miles and his friends to face issues about life and death that they had never thought much about before. The book ends with a prank by Miles and his friends that is thought up by and dedicated to Alaska when a male stripper performs at a school assembly.

1) Miles leaves a stale life in his hometown behind in search of the "Great Perhaps" or the search for a better life full of risks. Would you remain in the safety and boredom, or would you take the risks of a better life?

2) Should it really matter to Miles whether Alaska's death was suicide or not, or should he accept it as death and nothing more?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Ghost Writer By Robert Harris

The Ghostwriter by Robert Harris tracks the journey of an author in the writing of ex prime minister Adam Lang's memoirs. The author who goes unnamed and is the narrator is a ghostwriter for Lang and writes his book for him by taking his memories and experiences and making a book out of them. He gets no credit for writing the book and no one will know who he is. One day he his called up by his publisher to work on this book and accepts with out realizing what he is getting into. He is offered $250,000 to get the book rewritten in a month. He must rewrite it in a month because the original ghostwriter drowned but his cause of death is disputed throughout the book. The first few days of interviewing go well. Soon after he joins Lang reports come out that he authorized torture of four suspected terrorists. This sends him across the East Coast to defend himself while on a lecture tour in the U.S. While Lang is gone the author goes into researching Lang more deeply. This detracts from his ability to write his book and get it in on time. What he finds will change the lives of him and everyone associated with Lang. The end of the book is very suspenceful and I can not say anmore without revealing to much of the book

Discussion Questions

1. Would you accept a job just for money without knowing what the job entails?

2. If news came out that the person you were working had commited a serious crime what like what Lang supposedly did would you still work for that person?

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Palace of Mirrors" by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Cecilia is a 14 year-old girl living in a small village with Nanny Gratine. However, she has a secret: she is the real princess of Suala. She is in hiding because her parents were murdered the day she was born. Every since she could remember, her teacher, Sir Stephen (who is also a knight), has been teaching her about the rules and responsibilities of ruling the throne. Soon, when her parents' murderers are imprisoned and it is safe for her to take over, she will relieve the decoy, Princess Desmia, of her mission. Until then, however, Cecilia is stuck in this small village with her friend Harper, who does not know of the secret. One day, as she and Harper are walking down to the pond to go fishing, she senses that someone is following them. She thinks that these people are trying to kidnap her and that they know that she is the real princess. That night, she realizes that she needs to tell Harper the truth, just in case something does happen to her. When Harper finds out, he is outraged over the situation. He cannot believe that Cecilia could be so selfish as to put someone else's (Desmia's) life in danger just so that she can be safe. Cecilia feels guilty, so she and Harper decided to sneak out of the village and go to Suala. Harper takes his harp so that they have a reason to be going there in the first place. On their way out, they hear Nanny calling for Cecilia. They rush to her and see that the house is wrecked. Although Nanny is fine, she is nervous about Cecilia's safety in the village and tells her to go to Sir Stephen's house, not knowing that the teens were planning to go to Suala. The teens disobey and go to Suala instead. There, they enter a music competition to get inside the castle and meet Desmia, who is one of the judges. After their performance, Cecilia approaches Desmia and tells her that she is the real princess. Desmia nods in understanding and follows the teens out of the room. She leads them up a secret flight of stairs where the teens are blinded into entering a small trap. A couple of days later Desmia returns with Ella Brown, who is part of the delegation to create peace between the countries of Suala and Fridesia. These two countries are at war and Ella is on a mission with the delegation to end the war. However, Ella is also Desmia's friend and is trying to help her with this princess mystery because Desmia believes that she is the true princess. Upon hearing Cecilia's side of the story, the teens are released and are escorted down to a dungeon to find eleven others girls claiming that they are the true princesses. They tell the same story as Cecilia, except that they lived in different villages and had different teachers. Here, Cecilia begins questioning her identity, feeling betrayed by Sir Stephen. The group begins sneaking around the palace to try to find out some details. Cecilia gets lost and stumbles upon a secret dungeon where there are eleven men barred against the wall.Cecilia realizes that these men were the girls' teachers. Next to these men Cecilia finds a twelfth set of bars. They are empty. She realizes that they must be for Sir Stephen. Unfortunately, I do not want to give away the ending, so if you would like to know what happens next you will need to read the book to find out what happens. Questions:
1. The knights that Cecilia finds are in terrible condition. Cecilia says, " They are old men, shrunken down to bone and beards...They look like they've been crucified" (Haddix 207). If you were Cecilia, would you rather free them and risk being caught, or would you rather leave them there because you know you are the real princess and they are all imposters? If you free them, what would you do afterwards? If you don't free them, would you tell the rest of the group about them or would you keep it a secret? Why or why not? (Sorry this is long but they are yes or no questions so I had to expand a little.)
2. When Harper found out that Cecilia was a princess, he called her selfish for letting Desmia risk her life for her. Do you think Cecilia was being selfish? Explain.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte

Taking Woodstock is a nonfiction book that follows the life of Elliot Tiber, the man that took over Woodstock. Woodstock is a 3 day concert, full of music, peace, and love. In 1969, they needed a new place to put it. Elliot Tiber lived in Bethel by White Lake, New York with his parents. It was a run down town on the side of the highway that did not get very many visitors. Tiber's parents owned a run down hotel that rarely had any occupants. Elliot moved to New York to try to make money for his parents so they could keep living. When he heard that Woodstock needed a new home, he knew just the place. He was head of the town's board, so he had the ability to hold the music fest in Bethel. The town grew very upset with Elliot for causing all of the chaos that came with the festival. Millions of people flooded the tiny town to take part in the music festival. The book follows Elliot through the planning and problems of Woodstock. It also follows his life as he comes out and becomes who he truly is.
1. While saving up money to move away from Bethel, Elliot Tiber's parents almost had to declare bankruptcy. His sister told him to get as far away as he could. But Elliot gave all of his money to his crazy parents, and he was therefore stuck in Bethel. Would you give up all of your hard earned money to your parents knowing it is the only way you can get to a better life and that your parents were just going to lose it all again?
2. The people that lived in Bethel were outraged that Elliot let such a concert happen in their home, even though it brought them enough business to stay open forever. Elliot risked everything he had ever done when he agreed to have Woodstock in Bethel. Would you risk everything you had to try to make a better life?

For The Win by Cory Doctorow

For The Win is a confusing book to summarize. Basically it's a fictional book about web users from all around the world joining together to fight for workers rights. The way they fight is peaceful protesting, and fighting in virtual games on the computer. Actually, that's kind of what it's all about. Online games. There are people called gold farmers on the internet. They play games to get the virtual currency for the specific game and then sell it online for real money. However, those people usually work for other people, and they're scammed off a lot of money. Anyway, those people are fighting for their rights and hacking game companies and whatnot that try to shut them down (ironically shutting them down would actually be worse for the game's economy, which is what they're trying to fix in the first place). The book has a lot of economic theories and switches between characters every chapter. One chapter might be about "General Robotwalla" (an Indian girl that plays a game with giant robots fighting zombies/other robots for money) and the next about Lu (A member of a guild on some other game that eventually becomes a regular on an illegal underground talk show for workers rights). Eventually, the Webblies (nickname for the workers union) convinces a big game corporation to join their cause. The end.

1. Would you risk your life for a cause like workers rights? Most would probably say yes without even thinking about police brutality or the amount of people that really do die from this sort of thing, so really think about it before answering, and give your reason behind your answer.

2. On a scale of one to ten, how pathetic do you think gold farming is and why?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Right, so the book that I chose is part of a series called "Percy Jackson and the Olympians". This is the fifth and final enstallment! In case you have not read this series (you're missing out if you haven't), I'll provide you with some background information. First off, Percy Jackson is what is known as a half-blood or if you want to be technical, a demigod. He is half human and half, well...god. Percy has been trained, along with other demigods, at a special camp called Camp Half-Blood. I know, what a creative name! Anyway, Percy (son of Poseidon) has some very special friends, emphasis on special.There's Annabeth (daughter of Athena), Thalia (daughter of Zeus) ,and Grover (a satyr). In this particular book, the Titan Lord (Kronos, who is taking over the body of Luke, a good demigod gone bad who bathed in the River Styx and was made invulnerable, expect for one spot. Just like ACHILLES) is preparing to attack Mount Olympus (which is on the 500th floor of the Empire State Building), home of the Olympians, and it is up to Percy and his friends to stop him and to save the world. So, they start recruiting demigods and other mystical beings to help fight the war, BUT THEY DIDN'T GET ANY UNICORNS, which isn't relevant to this plot summary I just thought I should make it a little more interesting; my bad. So eventually Percy is face to face with Kronos and forced to make a decision. One, give up and surrender, causing the destruction of Mount Olympus and the discontinuation of life as we know it, or two, give Kronos/Luke the knife so that when Luke starts fighting Kronos' control over his body, he can stab his Achille's spot and spread Kronos' remains all over the world and into the pits of Tartarus! Can you guess which one he chose? C'mon, it's not too hard. You got it! He chose option number two! Woop Woop! Finally, Mount Olympus is safe from harm and life can go on. The End.

Just kidding. After the war, Percy is greeted by the Olympians and they offer to turn him into a god. (How legit!) BUT, Percy looks at Annabeth before making his decision (They have this sort of Kate and William thing going on) and turns DOWN their offer. Blah, blah, blah. They live happily ever after. The End.

1.) Remember that Kronos is controlling Luke's body, but Luke is fighting it, gaining a little control for short periods of time. Kronos/Luke is UNARMED and all you have is a knife. Would you have trusted Luke enough to give him the knife to stab his Achille's spot so Kronos would die?

2.) Why do you think Percy turned down the gods' offer to become a god?

P.S. Hey,don't forget to vote this coming Friday mods 7-13. I'm running for Junior Class VP! All you need is your school I.D. so be sure to vote!! (Don't be careless, this is it. Vote Rafiq, cause I'm legit) :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

The novel “Chinese Cinderella” by Adeline Yen Mah is an inspirational autobiography. The story takes place in China during the Civil War. Adeline lived through a very rough life. When she was born, her mother passed away. Her brothers and sisters thought that Adeline was an unlucky child because she was the reason their mother died. Adeline was a very unwanted child. Her father remarried to a woman named Niang. Even Niang treated Adeline with much disrespect and did not show her love. Even though Adeline lacked a loving and caring family, she did not let that get to her. She was a very strong and confident girl. She believed in herself because she knew that if she did not then no one else would. Adeline really connected with her grandfather in which she called Ye Ye. When he passed away Adeline was torn apart, he was the only one she could talk to, the only one who supported and cared for Adeline. However, she was very strong and moved on with her life. Later, Adeline was sent to a boarding school and became very educated. She proved to herself that she could be somebody and she knew exactly what she wanted. Adeline was a very smart girl. She became very successful in school and was able to go to college but her father forced her to study medicine. Later, Adeline changed her study to writing and became a very successful writer.

1. If you were in Adeline's shoes, how would you feel being an unwanted child? How would you handle the hatred from your own family?

2. Adeline was very strong and confident and had to obey what her father told her. If you were Adeline, would you go against your father's rules and change your college study to what you wanted? Or would you obey your father's wishes and commands?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon is the second book in the Twilight Saga. In this book Bella Swan goes through one of the most difficult times in her life. Her boyfriend and "soul mate" Edward Cullen, leaves for months. When this happens shes lost and does not know what to do with her life. She feels as if all is lost. While he is gone she has no friends except for a guy name Jacob Black. He was always there for her no matter when or what she needed him. He eventually fell for Bella, however she was still hung up on Edward. When he finally returns Bella goes back to Edward even though Jacob was always there for her like he promised, not like Edward who left without realizing how hard that would be for Bella.
1. Do you think Bella made the right choice going back to Edward because they're "soul mates" or do you think that Jacob would have been better for her. Why?
2. Do you think it was better that Edward left because he was trying to protect Bella or do you think what he did was wrong?

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse starts off with a series of killings in the city of Seattle. It turns out that these victims were being killed by newborns, which is a new vampire thirstier than ever for blood. These newborns were created for one purpose only, to kill Bella Swan. In the first book, Edward Cullen, Bella’s gorgeous vampire boyfriend, kills James, another vampire, because he was going after Bella. James’ girlfriend, Victoria, has been out to seek revenge for Edward’s mate ever since. This time Bella is in life threatening danger, so the Cullen family and her best friend’s, Jacob Black, wolf pack join together to form an army to kill these newborns. During the battle, Edward, Bella, and Jacob seek safety on the mountain top, away from danger. Here Jacob finds out that Edward has proposed to Bella and he becomes extremely jealous and threatens to put his life in danger by fighting the newborns. In the end, Edward kills Victoria and the newborns are all killed off. With an unexpected attack from a hidden newborn, Jacob is badly injured. Bella returned to Jacob’s house after everything had been settled only to find out about his extreme jealousy about her engagement. He then tells her that he will always be waiting for her. The book ends with Bella and Edward deciding to tell Charlie, her father, of the engagement plans.

1. If you were Jacob, how would you feel that the girl of your dreams is getting married to your enemy?

2. Do you think the feud between Edward and Jacob will ever stop?

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is the story of high school student Craig Gilner and how his ambition lead him to spiraling out of control, landing him in a mental hospital. Craig, who merely wanted to succeed at life, decides that going to the right high school will help him land a spot at a good college which will then get him a good job. He studies nonstop and is granted admission into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School. However, once there, Craig becomes overwhelmed with what's expected of him academically. The pressure of school causes Craig to stop eating, stop sleeping, and begin using drugs with so-called "friends." One night, he decides he has finally had enough and decides that he is going to kill himself. Just before he jumps off a bridge, Craig calls a suicide hot-line and is then admitted into a psychiatric hospital. He meets the other patients, who have problems of their own, and gets the support of his worried family. Craig finds that drawing helps him cope with his anxiety and soon recovers and leaves the hospital.

1.) Craig gets a phone call from his best friend, Aaron, during one of his first nights in the hospital. Aaron is with a bunch of Craig's other friends as he talks with Craig. Aaron doesn't quite understand why Craig is in the hospital and believes his problem is that he just needs to calm down more. If one of your friends went into a psychiatric hospital, how would you handle it?
2.) In the book, Craig meets a lot of the other patients, like a man who is scared of gravity and a girl who cut her face up with scissors, who are staying at the hospital. Though most are older than him, Craig is able to make friends with them. If you were in Craig's position would you try to make friends with the other patients who may not seem so normal?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan, is a book about the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. Ryan collected many veterans' stories who had taken place in the events leading up to, during, and after the battle that turned the tide of the war in Europe. The book begins with the planning of the invasion, with General Eisenhower planning Operation Overlord, the codename for D-Day. The middle of the book explains the disaster of the paratrooper landings the night before, and how nearly everything went wrong with where they landed and how their missions were conducted. The last part of the book explains the actual landings on the five beaches: Omaha, Gold, Juno, Utah, and Sword. This part shows the true sacrifices in war, and what many of these soldiers and their comrades went through to achieve victory for the Allies. Each of the soldiers' stories are honest and interesting, but many are sad as well. Many soldiers who were interviewed had been injured or had seen a friend get killed. In the end, the book showed the true experiences and horror of war and its soldiers.
1. Would you give your life, or be crippled with a life-long injury for your country?
2. Do you think D-Day was necessary, or was it a waste of human life? On a greater scale, is war necessary?

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are completely in love. They walk around Forks High School together everyday after Edward picks Bella up in his fancy Volvo, and they spend long nights together after Edward sneaks through her window when her father, Charlie, falls asleep.Everything seems perfect for the couple, they've never been happier. However, disaster strikes at Bella's party at the Cullen's. Edward's brother, Jasper, not quite accustomed to their vampire 'diet' of animal blood instead of human blood. He launches at Bella, almost killing her when she cuts her self unwrapping a birthday present. This scares Edward because he fears by being a vampire, he puts Bella's life at stake. From here, everything begins to go downhill. In a few weeks, Edward leaves and completely removes himself from Bella's life. She goes into a deep state of depression, moving through life like a zombie hardly talking or showing and life in her eyes. She lives this way for quite a long time until she meets up with an old friend, Jacob Black. Jacob acts almost as a light to Bella. He keeps her happy and safe and she quickly becomes dependent on him for happiness. Soon Jacob begins acting strangely and becomes vert sick. He drops communication with Bella and she goes crazy with worry because of the loss of her light. After a few weeks of this strange behavior, Bella discovers her best friends is a werewolf. This news does not bother Bella and she is eager to see Jacob again. She starts to get to know the others in the pack, that are part of a bigger tribe called the Quileuts. Bella continues to see Jacob but the longing for Edward is still inside her and she discovers something wonderful. Any irresponsible act such as riding motorcycles or jumping off cliffs triggers a very realistic hallucination of Edward. To see Edward, Bella decides to go cliff diving when Jacob is not around to protect her and she almost drowns. Edward's sister, Alice, sees this as a vision, but not the outcome of Bella's survival, and Edward eventually finds out. He is driven mad by the 'loss' of Bella and goes to the Volturi to request his death. They refuse so he creates a plan that gives them no choice to kill him: show himself in the sun. It is up to Bella to go and rescue him from this fate by showing Edward she is still alive. She reaches him in Italy just in time and the two are taken to the leaders of the Volturi. A deal is made because Bella knows their secret; she is to be made a vampire herself, and they are safely let home. Upon her return Jacob becomes furious that Bella accepted this deal because the vampires and the werewolves are enemies. Bella loses her best friend but Edward is given back to her.

1). Bella is in so much pain after losing Edward that when she finds Jacob, he is like a source of happiness and light. When she does not have Jacob she returns to the pain and becomes dependent on Jacob, always visiting him to relieve herself of it. However, she leads Jacob on but repeatedly rejects him when he says he loves her. Do you think that is selfish?
2). Do you see a good outcome in Edward's actions in leaving Bella had he stayed away?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain is one of the first biographies written about one of music's most legendary artists. Christopher Sanford, the biographer, details the life (including younger years, marriage to Courtney Love, and the birth of their daughter), contriversal career, and tragic end to Nirvana's frontman, Kurt Cobain; quoting those close to the late musician and providing factual information regarding Kurt's life. Throughout the 367-page novel, Sanford gives his opinion on the media portrayal of Kurt Cobain, in which he says is in part to the star's later suicide.

1.) How do you view the media? Are they too harsh and invasive towards celebrities or are they just doing their job?

2.) Kurt Cobain was a troubled soul and turned towards drugs, yet many teenagers "admire" the musician. Do you think this is a negative situation, that they view him as such an idol given his past?

Do Hard Things

The book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris is about young people starting a "rebelution" as they call it, and stepping out of their way to do amazing things for God's glory. This book is written by two teenage twins who feel they are called to challenge the young people of the nation. They challenge the teens of the nations to rise above the world's idea of a typical teenager and to make a difference for God and for the world. They feel that many people today think that every teenager is lazy and is not willing to do anything challenging that will put them out of their comfort zone. This book shares many stories about the experiences that Alex and Brett Harris have had and the big tasks that they have taken on. These big tasks, when they worked hard, they figured out were not impossible with the help of God. The authors also challenge the readers to take a stand for what's right and to live out their faith in everything that they do. These large tasks that many kids think are impossible, are not so hard when you join hands with others and work hard to accomplish great things for God.

1) Many teenagers read this book and think that there is nothing they can actually do. They think that Alex and Brett were some extraordinary teenagers. These boys were normal kids who decided to work hard to accomplish great things. Do you think it's possible for teenagers to make a big difference in this world?

2) What do you think it means for teenagers to rise above these expectations of laziness that our world has placed upon them?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Uglies By Scott Westerfeld

The Uglies is a novel that takes place in a supposed utopia. Everybody looks forward to their sixteenth birthday, not because it is when they are allowed to drive, but because it means the beginning of a whole different life style. A person's sixteenth birthday in this novel, brings a life changing surgery making them a "pretty". "Pretties" lead a perfect life, never doing any work, partying all the time, and most importantly being flawlessly beautiful. Until this day however, people in this world are considered ugly and have to live apart from the pretties. Tally Youngblood is the protagonist of this novel and like any other ugly, is looking forward to this life style. It is all she has ever dreamed of until she meets a new friend named Shay. Shay has a different attitude towards this surgery and possibly a little more insight into what it does to a person. On the eve of Shay's birthday, she runs away leaving officers suspicious of Tally. Tally is not allowed to get her surgery until she finds Shay and brings her back, and leads the officials (also known as specials) to a place called the smoke full of people who ran away from the life of a pretty and instead choose to live a life of honest work in uncivilized conditions. Tally learns many things from the people she meets in the smoke such as what it means to like people for more than their appearance or even despite their appearance. She also learns things about what becoming a pretty does to your brain. People who get the surgery no longer have the freedom to think for themselves and are programed to think a certain way and never question the way in which they think. After learning this, Tally is then faced with a decision. She could 1) Betray the people of the smoke and get the operation to turn her into a pretty, or 2) Stay with the people of the smoke and never become a pretty.

1) If you were Tally which choice would you make and why?
2) Why do you think the surgeons choose to do this to a persons brain when undergoing the pretty operation?
3) Could something as superficial as everyone being pretty really bring peace to the world? Why or why not?

Blind Man's Bluff

Blind man's bluff is a true story about U.S. Navy submarines that spied on the Soviet Union during the cold war. A team of investigators got together and interviewed real people and documented their true stories. The stories were compiled into this book. Much happens throughout the book, and many of the stories are very suspenseful. One story was of a U.S. nuclear submarine that had to stay submerged for an unprecedented amount of time to avoid Soviet ships on the surface in Soviet waters. Another story told of an attempt to salvage a sunken Soviet submarine. The sinking was witnessed, or rather "seen", on a radar screen on a U.S. sub that had been tailing the Soviet submarine. The U.S. offered to help to Soviet sub, but the Soviets refused. Many of the stories told were by people who almost didn't survive their ordeals, and they recounted their terrifying experiences. A lot of the book, too, tells about life on a submarine and how it is cramped and stuffy, with little clean air to breathe.

Interesting fact: My parents were in the Navy and they knew crew members that had personally been in Soviet waters during the Cold War.

1.) How would you deal with daily life on a submarine?
2.) How would you cope with the everyday anxiety of the potential to be found by Soviets? If you were found spying, it is very likely that tension between the two nations would increase to the breaking point.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Q & A Questions

  1. Throughout the book Ram does commit crimes such as stealing and even trying to kill someone, but they are all for a good cause (for example to save someone else) or for his own suvival. Do you think that his motives justify him? Should he be punished?

  2. Some people view the book as a sort of modern fairytale, while others see it as an accurate representation of Indian street life. From what you know about the book and how Ram is treated in it, what do you think?

Q & A By: Vikas Swarup

Q & A, also published as Slumdog Millionaire, by Vikas Swarup, is a novel about the journeys of an orphan Indian street urchin named Ram Mohammad Thomas. The book begins with Ram being beaten and interrogated by the police because he won a game show. Ram answered all of the questions on the game show Who Will Win A Billion? correctly to win the billion dollars. However, people believe that he must have cheated because he is a homeless street boy who could not know the answers to all the questions. For this reason, he is arrested in the middle of the night. He is beaten by the police and questioned by them without being given food or water for days. Just as he is about to give in a young lawyer comes to his rescue. She makes the police hand him over to her to take back to her home to prepare a defense for his trial. He does not know anything about who she is and she only tells him that her name is Smita Shah and that as soon as she heard of his arrest on TV she came to help him. Smita gives him food and lets him sleep at her home, and then begins to ask him how he was able to win the game show. Swarup writes that Ram tells Smita truthfully that he did not cheat, but he got lucky- every question that was asked he knew the answer to (17). Everything that had happened to him through his life up to that point provided him with the answers to the trivia questions. He tells Smita that there was no one reason why he was able to answer all of the questions, but he knew each answer because of a specific experience that he had had. He says, “Do you notice when you breathe? No. You simply know that you are breathing. I did not go to school. I did not read books. But I tell you, I knew those answers” (18). The rest of the book is divided into twelve chapters, a chapter for each question that Ram answered. With each chapter, Ram tells about the part of his life that allowed him to know the answer to that question, from living with a Catholic priest to being a tour guide at the Taj Mahal, to rescuing a young girl being abused by her father in the slums, and living with an Indian tragedy film star in her mansion. In the process he falls in love, and the reader finds out about his intentions of going on the game show in the first place. A twist at the end connects the whole book and the reader is left with a fulfilling end to a modern Cinderella story.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is a story about a girl named Alice and her adventure to Wonderland. Alice sits under a tree while listening to her sister read a book. Alice sees a little white rabbit in clothes talking to himself. Alice follows the rabbit and he goes in a rabbit hole. She follows the rabbit into the hole and this begins the journey to Wonderland. After falling a long time, Alice reaches a room with doors of all sizes. Alice finds a key to a very small door that goes to a garden. Alice eats a cake and drinks a potion that makes her grow and shrink to all different sizes. She cries and floods the room and floats away. She meets a Dodo and they have a Caucus race to get Alice dry. Alice doesn't like the race idea so she leaves and runs into the rabbit. He tells her to get the Duchess's gloves and fan. She goes to the house and eats a cake that makes her grow very large again. Throughout the book Alice grows and shrinks to various sizes. Alice meets many characters in Wonderland. After Alice gets out of the Duchess's house, she meets a caterpillar that helps her get back to her original height. Alice meets the Duchess, her cook, a baby that turns into a pig, and a Cheshire cat. The cat tells Alice to go to the tea party where she meets the Hatter, the March hare, and Dormouse. At the tea party, the hosts all ask Alice ridiculous riddles making her leave. As Alice is leaving she finds the garden she saw in the little door. The garden belongs to the Queen of Hearts. The Queen asks Alice to play croquet with her. They use flamingos and hedgehogs for equipment. The Queen gets mad and shouts, "Off with their heads!" many times. After the game of croquet there is a trial on who stole the Queen's tarts. The Queen believes it was the Knave of Hearts. Alice is called up as a witness. Alice grows again and the King and Queen order Alice to to leave, citing rule 42, all persons more than a mile high to leave the court. Alice doesn't leave, she calls them just a pack of cards. The Queen shouts, "Off with her head!" and the cards swarm around Alice. Alice wakes up by leaves falling on her. 1. Do you think Alice's journey to Wonderland was just a dream? 2. If it was a dream, do you think the journey was suppose to symbolize something in Alice's life?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise is told from the varying points of view of the two main characters, Caleb and Maggie. Both live in a town called Paradise and both have a shared past that keeps them a part but that is also what brings them close together. Caleb is returning to Paradise from prison where he went after being charged for being behind the wheel of the car that struck Maggie and damaged both her legs. The story starts with him finding out he is to be released. The closing line is, "Tomorow I'm going home" (Elkeles 8). Maggie used to be an athlete and the top of her school. She had one secret: that she was in love with her neighbor and best friend's brother, Caleb. After the accident she became an outcast. She could no longer play tennis because she had a horrible limp. She went to physical therapy but would never be able to move as she used to. When Caleb returns, he comes back to a dysfunctional family. His mother is a drug addict, his father is in denial and his sister now dresses completely in black and tries to avoid everyone. He goes back to school and is automatically accepted back into his old group. Appearance wise, everything seemed perfect, but Caleb did not want everything to go back to normal. It takes an old neighbor who receives help from both Maggie and Caleb, an entire school who cannot see either of them as who they truly are, and a life of secrets, for Maggie to finally get what she used to want. She thought she hated Caleb, but when she realized he was the only person as damaged as her, they began to secretly see each other. In the end, both are faced with major decisions. Caleb could no longer watch his family falling apart. The truth about the accident came to life. Also, they discovered that teenage love could not in fact conquer all. In the end they had to choose between each other and their families. One of them faces the prospect of running away. 1.) If you were injured in an accident like Maggie, would you ever be able to forgive the person who took away your ability to walk normally? 2.) Caleb's life is all about appearances. If you were in his situation, would you be able to handle all the pressure, or would you be tempted to rebel as he tries to do?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tuesdays with Morrie-By: Mitch Albom

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."-Henry Adams

When Mitch Albom graduated from Brandies University, he promised his favorite professor, Morrie Schwartz, that he would keep in touch. However, as the years progressed Mitch continued developing his career as a journalist and lost touch with Morrie.

One night when Mitch is watching television he sees Morrie giving a lecture and decides to try to get in touch. When he finally reaches Morrie he discovers that he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, or ALS, and does not have too much time to live. After that Tuesday, they decide to continue visiting together every Tuesday, so that Morrie can share his life lessons. They will call their meetings their last thesis, so that Mitch can write a book sharing the lessons on the meaning of life.

Despite Morrie's condition he remains content in his situation and with his entire life. He teaches Mitch the value of loving people fully, living in the moment, and not becoming caught up in the modern world, only to forget what is important. In addition, Morrie feels that learning to accept death, the inevitable, only helps to teach one how to live. He believes in creating this legacy not only to help Mitch, but also to help others learn to live with his philosophy of life.


1. If you knew that you only had a short time to live, would you live any differently, or regret anything that you have done?

2. What do you think are life's most important lessons?

3. Morrie believes in loving people wholeheartedly. Do you think it is wise to love so many people, or would that set you up for heartbreak?

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The novel My Sister's Keeper consists of flashbacks told in the point of view from several different characters depending on the chapter. The protagonist, Anna, is not the sick child of the family but because she has been hospitalized so many times herself she could be. From the minute Anna was born, she has undergone surgeries for her sister Kate who has Leukemia. Kate called herself a "designer baby" because she was specifically created to be a match for her sister.
She has not challenged her role in the family to help Kate until now. The novel begins with Anna gathering her money to go see a lawyer, Campbell Alexander. One of the top in the country. She wants to sue her parents for the rights to her own body. Her mother, Sara, used to be a lawyer before Kate got sick and was totally taken by surprise. She would do anything to keep Kate alive. The lawsuit created a wedge and tension between the family. It was enough that Anna went to stay with her father at the fire station for a time. In the novel, some different effects of Kate being sick are shown through their brother Jesse. He sometimes feels forgotten about and has turned to other means to release his emotions.
As the book progresses, the characters begin to develop and the reader sees their true selves through the struggle to maintain peace in the household. Kate becomes even more sick because her kidneys are failing. If she is to survive she will need a kidney transplant. Anna refuses to give hers up. She wants to be able to live her own life and play sports like hockey. She doesn't want to worry about being healthy for surgeries. As the lawsuit approaches the tension continues to climb. Until the true story is revealed there. I can not tell you anything more, so I do not ruin the ending for you.

1. If you were in Anna's position how would you feel?

2. At what point for you does everything just become too much for you to handle that you take drastic measures just like Anna did?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Book Of Dreams by O.R. Melling

The Book Of Dreams is mainly the story of Dana. She is part faerie and has recently moved to a new town from Ireland. She is depressed about the lack of magic there and whenever she can she goes to visits her mother in the Faerie lands that she can access through her mind.

She eventually meets Jean and the two become fast friends. She slowly starts to find out that there is some terrible force after her. It has severed the gateways to the Faerie World successfully blocking Dana out from her only refuge from earth.

She travels to her grandmothers house for a bit of a vacation. However she is kidnapped by the evil Crowley. He is trying to destroy the world. "While Dana's dream held her spellbound in Crowley's car, her real self was sleep walking through her grandmother's house." (Melling 79)Jean rescues her though and you learn that he can turn into a wolf at night.

The two go on a adventure through the book and they meet many of the creatures and people of Irish legend. Toward the end of the book Jean is cursed to stay a wolf forever after saving Dana. Dana blames herself for this and eventually joins him as a wolf later in the story. Before that however she confronts the deformed Crowley and all the bad entities that have joined him. During the battle she is almost over come by Crowley. "Weighed down by hopelessness, Dana searched in her heart for something bright to offset the dark." (Melling 637)However eventually she turns the tides and restores the portals between the Faeries and Earth.

1)Why do people often try to escape reality and go to ideal or fantasy world? Are they afraid to try new things? Or is it because they don't know anything other then their habits and ideals and have no wish to change?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan, is a detailed account of the invasion of Normandy during World War II. Ryan, a war correspondent who also flew bombing missions in the Air Force, recreates the hours that preceded the invasion as well as the invasion itself. Through interviews of thousands of D-Day survivors, both Allied and German, maps, diaries, reports, message pads, casualty reports, letters and photographs. Ryan retells the personal stories, battles and losses of these men fighting for their beliefs. Many different accounts have been published about D-Day, however, Ryan's version was heavily researched and documented to not only include the important accurate battle facts but also the personal stories of survival.

Many personal acts are believed to have a direct impact on the outcome of the battle of Normandy. While waiting to attack, soldiers did not want to tempt fate. Soldiers intentionally lost money at cards, they became religious and they talked of their families. Despite being told that probably eighty-four percent of the soldiers would become casualties, commanders walked miles on broken ankles, soldiers raised flags in the middle of battles, men continued to fight as their friends lay dying around them. One soldier killed his enemy and then rummaged through his pockets to find personal information on the soldier. It was ironic that when asked, this soldier was going to mail personal belongings to the dead soldier's family. These acts reinforce that this was was personal and difficult on both sides.

1. Why do you think it was important for Ryan to tell of the personal stories of these soldiers?

2. Would you be able to kill someone in battle and send their belongings to the dead man's family as the soldier did in the story?

Private by Kate Brian

Reed Brennan, from the small town of Croton, Pennsylvania, grew up with poor parents and a could never see getting out of this very small town. Until she got a scholarship to the elite boarding school Easton Academy. This opened many doors for her to ivy league schools. When she meets the Billings Girls, who get top recommendations and have gone onto to be very powerful women, she knows that she must get into the house to receive all of the opportunities that she wants. She goes through a series of extensive tests to get in, some of them including theft, and it seems that there is not anything she will not do. On the side, she is seeing one of the most sought after guys on campus, a senior named Thomas Pearson. At the end of the book he goes missing and that leads into the other books. I can not really say any more without giving away the rest of the books.

1) If you were Reed and new that being in Billings would open all of the opportunities you needed to succeed would you go so far as to steal the answers to a test to get in?
2) Would you try to get into Billings if you went to Easton even if you knew what went on?

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose

The book Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose follows Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne division of the US army from their brutal training to taking Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and the German town of Berchtesgaden, the SS’s last haven, during World War II. The book starts out in Camp Toccoa, Georgia, a training camp for the US military, in the summer of 1942. Here the members of Easy were trained by the dreaded Captain Sobel, Easy’s Commanding Officer. This conditioning, which included training as a parachutist, was considered the hardest a military group had ever been put through at the time. The men in Easy felt, if they were being sent to war, it would be better to be with the best of the best rather than doing the bare minimum. After months of training, Easy was sent to Uppottery, England where they prepared for D-Day. When the day came to invade Normandy, Easy jumped behind enemy lines, secured the area and fought their way back to their allies on the beaches. Almost immediately after D-Day, Easy was sent into Holland and then into Bastogne, entering a battle known as the Battle of the Bulge. During this battle, Easy was surrounded by German forces for days without sufficient food, ammo or clothing in the coldest part of a northern European winter. After being liberated, Easy fought its way into Germany and became one of the first companies to find a German concentration camp. Then they were tasked with taking Berchtsgaden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. The book ends with the men that are still alive in Easy slowly being shipped back to the States, ready to finally resume their lives and with thoughts of their lost brothers still floating in their minds.

1) The men in Easy chose harder training to be with the best of the best in the war, but had the hardest missions as a result. Would you rather have harder training and more dangerous missions, but have the peace of mind that knowing you're with the best of the best and that they have your back, or would you choose easier training and more safe missions but have to rely on allies that might not have your back?
2) How would you feel about being taken out of your normal life to fight in WWII? Would you see it as your duty as an American and serve without question, or would you feel that you were unjustly ripped out of your previous life to fight a meaningless war?

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, is a book based on the Wicked Witch of the West. This witch is commonly known from a story called The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz portrays the witch as evil and cruel, but is she? Maguire takes a new point of view on this witch and takes the reader through the life of Elphaba, also known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba was born an outsider. Different in the fact that her skin was green. She was not accepted by her peers and lived a hard childhood that pushed her over the edge and drove her to this evil state. She was a smart and misunderstood girl that was constantly picked on. This story shows how the good could be the bad and the bad could actually be good. The author is trying to show that everything is not how it appears and no one should judge a book by its cover. Elphaba tried to fit in but kept being pushed away. Eventually she could not take it anymore and sought out for revenge on everyone that judged her. Elphaba has been neglected as a child and has to take care of her disabled sister when they go off to school. Glinda, Elphaba's roommate, is popular beautiful and is considered a social butterfly. Quick to judge, Glinda does not want to be friends with Elphaba and makes fun of her constantly. At one point, they do become friends, but after a murder they witness, they go their separate ways. The nature of good and evil is tested in this book. Can you decide who is good and who is not?
1. If you were treated poorly, would you seek revenge on those who ridiculed you? Why?

2.Would you destroy someone else to become superior and well liked? Why?

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Dear John is about a guy named John who is in the army and he comes home to his father's house for 2 weeks from Germany. He meets a girl named Savannah after he gets her purse back when it is knocked off the pier. They start spending a lot of time together before they bpth have to leave and go back to college and the army. When John has to go back, they promise to write each other for the whole 12 months he is gone. Then he coes back home but tells her he has to go back because of 911. After a few years, Savannah writes him and tells him she got married and John is very upset. John comes back home after his father dies and meets with Savannah for dinner and he finds out that her husband is Tim who he met before and he has cancer and is dying. John sells his coin collection and gives the money to Savannah so they can buy a drug that will help Tim live a little while longer so he can say goodbye to everyone. Tim tells John to marry Savannah after he dies because he knows she still loves John. 1. Do you think John and Savannah's love story was believable since they "fell in love" in 2 weeks? 2.John goes back to Germany after his 2 week break and they promise each other they will get married when he comes back. Do you think it is possible to stay in love with someone you haven't seen in a few years?