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?