Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong

In this non fictional autobiography by Lance Armstrong, Lance tells the story of his life, mainly focusing on his ordeal through cancer. Lance Armstrong is the current record holder for the most wins in the world's most prestigious bike race, the Tour de France. That is an amazing feat in itself, but it's even more amazing that Armstrong had a battle with highly aggressive testicular cancer in the middle of his career. The cancer spread quickly to his lungs, and then to his brain. Doctors were almost sure he would not make it. He was given a generous 2-3% chance of survival. Throughout the book, Armstrong tells how hard it was for him to deal with the cancer. People doubted him, said he would never race again. His contract with his sponsor was taken back by the sponsor, because they thought he would die. But he fought. He told doctors to give him the harshest chemicals they had to kill cancer. He went through many gruesome months of sickness; he couldn't sleep, he vomitted constantly, but he kept at it. All the while he kept a positive attitude. In his book he said how he treated the cancer like an opponent, and he would talk to the cancer and tell it that it would lose, and that it messed with the wrong guy. After many months, his condition turned around. He started to get better, and eventually, he was completely cured. He lost much weight because of the cancer and the chemical's toll on his body. Ironically, the new light weight body Armstrong had would help him win the Tour de France six more consecutive times, and make him the record holder for Tour de France wins.

1. Armstrong focuses a lot on telling the reader his positive mental attitude. Do you think any obstacle is able to be overcome with hard work and a positive attitude?

2. Cancer changed Armstrong's life. He became less arrogant, and focused more on people around him. He founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help cancer patients and their families cope with the disease. How would your life change if you had life-threatening cancer but then became completely cured of it?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shattering Glass. By: Gail Giles

Within the first paragraph of Gail Giles' novel Young Stewerd, who is narrating the story, explains that Simon Glass was hated by many people for different reasons. In the next sentence Young says he and his friends realized this only after they killed him. Young then tells the story of how he and his friends ended up befriending the outsider Simon, and as a simple nice gesture started to spiral out of control.
The idea of making Simon popular was Young's friend Rob's idea and Rob enlists Young, Bob, and Coop to help him with his mission. The only reason Rob wants to help Simon is for the sheer fact that he wants to know if it can be done. Each of the boys are responsible in helping Simon in different ways. As Young begins to spend more time with Simon he begins to dislike him more and more. He also sees how far Rob will go to help Simon out, even if it means hurting others along the way. And when Simon begins to go in a different direction of Rob's initial plan, everything does not go so smoothly. Unfortunately I can not say anything more about the story with out ruining it.

1) Simon Glass is a disliked loner at Young's high school, he is picked on and has no friends. Even in his situation, he does not accept Rob's gesture to make him popular at first. After Rob somewhat charms him into it, Simon decides to give it a shot. Rob then begins to instigate his plan of changing Simon completely to become popular. If you were in Simon's situation would you accept an invitation offered by one of the most liked people in the school to change who you are?

2) In the novel, Rob enlists Young, Bob, and Coop to help him with Simon's transformation. However Rob leaves out the part of his plan where he turns Lance into the new Simon. If one of your really good friends asked you to help them make somebody more popular at the stake of diminishing another person's social status, would you?

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Runaway Jury By: John Grisham

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham is about a tobacco trial in Mississippi. The victim in this trial has been dead for years and his widowed wife Celeste Woods files a lawsuit against the tobacco company Pynex. This book focuses on the jury and its members more than anything. The selection process is very intense and is scrutinized by both sides. Millions and millions of dollars are spent by each side to select the perfect jury. One juror is there only to get the verdict he thinks is right and is not who he appears to be. Nicholas Easter, which isn't his real name, has registered and gotten into many important jurys across the country and is intent on getting onto this one. In the end he is put on the jury and begins to execute his plan. He eliminates jurors he feels aren't helping the cause and gets in the alternates that he wants. He quickly becomes the leader and the voice of the jury and demands and recieves several things from the judge. He doesn't work alone though. He has a partner known only as Marlee who is there to make bribes for getting a jurors vote and make money off of the trial and she does this to great success. This is an important trial for both sides as the tobacco companies have never lost and this trial could shift the legal balance. Will this trial change the balance or will it remain the same with the tobacco companies winning again?

1. If you were on the jury would you vote for the tobacco company saying he knowing smoked cigarettes and deserves no compenstation or would you vote for Celeste Woods saying that the tobacco companies shouldn't put nicotine in or lower the amounts of nicotine in cigarettes?
2. If you were one of the lawyers and were aproached by Marlee with a bribe would you accept the bribe to get a jurors vote knowing that it is unethical?

The Runaway Jury By: John Grisham

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This book is the first of the Harry Potter series that would change the world. In this book a boy named Harry Potter is sent to live with his aunt and uncle after the death of his parents. His aunt and uncle did not want to have Harry live with them and they made that clearly understood. Harry lived under the wide shadow casted by his cousin, and he never got any attention at home. He got hand-me-down clothes, leftovers for every meal, and forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs. For ten years Harry felt like this would be his life forever, until one day a giant man named Hagrid came to him and told him a secret that would change his life forever. Harry found out that he was a wizard and that his parent were not killed in a car crash but murdered by a dark wizard named Lord Voldemort. This man had once tried to kill Harry too. Hagrid told Harry that he was invited to go to Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he would learn all about the Wizarding world and how to use magic. Once at the school Harry makes many new friends and learns many new things that he never could have imagined in his wildest dreams. One thing that fascinates him the most is a mirror, however when you look into it you do not see your reflection but you see your hearts deepest desire. When Harry looked into the mirror he saw his family. He had never had a real family, I mean he had, but never one who loved him. Harry became obsessed with going to the mirror, until one day Professor Dumbledore told him that men have wasted their lives in front of it, because they spent their whole lives trying to have what they wanted instead of trying to achieve it.

1. If you were Harry would you go with Hagrid to Hogwarts despite not knowing who he was, if he was crazy, or if where he was going could be worse, but just being optimistic about going to a new place? Or would you stay home even though what you have to live with everyday was horrible, but you knew what you had and there would be no surprises?

2. If you had the image of anything you wanted right in front of you would you spend as much time as you could there or would you try and go get it keeping in mind that people cannot be brought back from the dead, but maybe the memory of them could live on? Would spending time with the image of someone you loved be worth wasting the life you could have?