Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We Will Not Be Silent: the White Rose student resistance movement that defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman

By Sierra Brock
We Will Not Be Silent: the White Rose student resistance movement that defied Adolf Hitler, by Russell Freedman is a nonfiction book that focuses on college students who formed a resistance group against Adolf Hitler. It starts out by following the life of one of the main characters, Hans Scholl. Hans starts out as a supporter of Hitler and his actions. He joins the Hitler Youth Group and becomes a leader of his own section. Hans eventually changes his opinion of Hitler when another leader forces him to get rid of anything that shows individuality from the rest of the Hitler Youth. Once his opinion changes, Hans further explores Hitler’s views and actions. The book follows Hans alone through his first year in college and then proceeds to include his friends as they form the White Rose (the Hitler resistance group). The students who started the group would create pamphlets to convince others that it was wrong to support Hitler. After the pamphlets were made, the group members would put them in mailboxes or mail them from far away cities to reduce suspicion. Eventually, the Gestapo locate the location of where the pamphlets originate. This makes it even more difficult for the White Rose members to keep from being caught.
During World War II, America assumed that the whole of Germany supported Hitler. As a result of this assumption, the US shut out any positive views of Germany and ignored the fact that there were people in Germany who were against Hitler. Unlike many movies and other works of literature that focus on World War II or Hitler’s reign of terror, this book showcases a revolt against Hitler that is commonly overlooked. In my opinion, this book is not only informative, but an interesting read as well. It is fairly relatable in the sense that, in a way, it reminds us that even though some heroic voices may be blocked out, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Even though this is a non-fiction book, I would recommend it not only to history enthusiasts, but to those who enjoy knowing that justice isn’t something that lies completely in fantasies.

Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales

Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales
This month, I read a book that completely blew my expectations out of the water. Since I’m an avid reader of romance novels, I thought that a classic, feel-good novel would be a great start to my book-reading journey. The cover immediately caught my eyes but the name interested me even more; Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales. Of course, I read the blurb and decided that this will be my book for August. Like any romance novel I read, I expected a simple, happy ending for all the characters. However, the ending left me emotionally torn but complete at the same time. I will explain my reactions and the summary of the book more in depth soon, but there is one thing that I would like to say about this book: it might seem terribly cliché at first, but trust me, there is wise advice that I think everyone should follow.
The novel takes place in an isolated town in Maryland and starts off with the story of Arden. I felt an emotional connection with her immediately, and although I never experienced any traumatic experiences similar to hers, I felt like I could sympathize with her completely. Her life seems perfect and stress-free compared to her best friend Lindsey, who has had family problems and issues with fitting in. They seemed like the perfect pair; a troublemaker with a guardian angel always on hand. Their friendship actually made me a little sad and envious as those kinds of bonds are hard to come by, and I’ve never really had that experience before. Arden’s life completely changed when her mother unexpectedly left her family. This was the first event in the story that altered the definition of a cheesy romance novel, and there are many more after this. Arden’s problem re-adjusting to these changes in her life was an important theme throughout this novel. She then discovered an online blog documented by a guy named Peter, in which his writing about his daily life completely mesmerized Arden. She then traveled to New York to find Peter and lived a night full of drama, heartbreak, and ultimately a new identity of herself.
I felt so connected to the characters and the plot of this story although none of the events were directly relatable. Seeing Arden making mistakes and falling in and out of love made me realize that I wasn’t the only one thinking about these things all the time. One of the most notable quotes in the book was “Why doesn’t anyone love me as much as I love them?” which really hit my core. Arden, who took care of everyone and loved everyone unconditionally did not get the same amount of love in return. This made me realize something about myself: losing yourself by loving someone else is not love. Arden didn’t realize this until the end of the story, and I don’t think I ever realized this before finishing the novel. She explains that people aren’t always permanent in your life, and sometimes, in order to be happy, you have to hurt people.

Because this book had such a great twist on the mundane romance novel, I have to give it a 4.5 out of 5. There was no true love between two people in the end, but there was a feeling of truly finding yourself and being happy with the way you are.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is feeling a little empty inside, whether that is because of another person or because of themselves. The meanings really hit hard on the heart, and the situations can be relatable for anyone.

By: Lavie Ngo

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum, is a mystery romance novel. The main character, Jessie, has just moved across the U.S.A., to join her stepmother and brother with her dad. Her mother's death is still a constant reminder in her head and plagues her throughout the move. When she arrives in LA, she finds the teenage atmosphere very different from back home. Along the way of navigating this high end prep school, she encounters the dreaded Queen of Wood Valley High School. Jessie, still ignorant to the rules of Wood Valley, becomes an automatic target to this girl. As Jessie comes home from the first day, already done, she receives an anonymous email from Somebody Nobody, her guide to Wood Valley High School.  He assures her he is for real, and not a hoax on the new girl. So Somebody Nobody teaches Jessie who to become friends with, whom to stay away from, and how to survive high school. He teaches her everything but not how to deal with her rising crush on Ethan, the boy who wears the same shirt to school every day, and never sleeps. To Jessie he is quiet and captivating without saying a word. Throughout the school year Jessie and Ethan are assigned to go over a piece of poetry in English. They become closer and Jessie starts realizing Ethan sounds like Somebody Nobody, but the mystery person also sounds like two other people. This novel travels through love triangles and mysteries that make your head spin. There is only one true Somebody Nobody, but is it who Jessie expects?
My favorite part of the book was definitely when Jessie and her step brother have an agreement upon an issue and he stands up for her. I just enjoy the fact that characters can turn around really quickly, especially when you don’t think they would.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes solving mysteries and romances. I do believe that people who have lost close loved ones would relate with the character, which some parts of the book became tear jerkers.

By; Jessica McManmon

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Maggie Wise

Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, is a coming of age story about a quirky high school freshman named Charlie. Charlie has an older sister who is a senior and an older brother who is a freshman football player at Penn State. Charlie is an old soul with a sophisticated mind, however he struggles to make friends. He decides to go to a football game one night, and there he meets Sam and Patrick, outgoing seniors, who take Charlie in as one of their own. The three become best friends. Charlie becomes infatuated with Sam, although she has a boyfriend. Patrick, on the other hand, is gay and has a secret relationship with the star quarterback, Brad. The story goes through their year in high school with parties, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, drugs, and different adventures where Charlie describes them as “being infinite”. Drama occurs for Charlie, Sam, and Patrick with each of their families and relationships with others, but eventually the drama works itself out in the end with surprises along the way, however I don’t want to spoil the book. Charlie also forms a bond with his English teacher, who lends him books to read and in turn Charlie has to write essays on them. Charlie’s aunt Helen is a constant reminder to Charlie to treat others well, as she was physically abused, but died from a car crash. The story has a lot of fun and interesting characters that readers will learn to love as Charlie did.
The book is realistic fiction and written as a series of letters by Charlie to a “friend.” My favorite part of the book was when Charlie’s friends had a Christmas party at Sam and Patrick’s house and each exchanged presents to their “secret Santa.” Charlie not only got gifts for his “secret Santa”, but he also purchases gifts for all of his friends. The scene described his friends of showing so much appreciation and recognition for Charlie. It was at this time that Charlie finally felt that he belonged. I would recommend the book to anyone because it is a must read for all types of people. It is also a quick read, due to its letter format.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Dragons Lost by Daniel Arenson

Dragons Lost
By Daniel Arenson

This book takes place in the semi magical land of The Commonwealth. This is a land where everyone is born with what is called “Dragon magic.” This magic allows people to transform into dragons while retaining their human thoughts and feelings. There is a problem though, this dragon magic is thought to defile the soul. This idea comes from the one true religion of the land, The Cured Temple. This temple, whenever a child reaches the age of six months, goes to that child and “purifies” them of their dragon magic. This violently rips their magic and ability to turn into a dragon away from them. On the turn side, there is a process that rips out the human side of the dragon and turns them into mindless beasts that work under the Cured Temple. These beasts are called firedrakes. People who escaped purification as babies are known as weredragons and are heavily persecuted their whole lives.
This book centers around a group of weredragons who are trying to spread the word of Requiem, what the land of Commonwealth was called before the Cured Temple invaded. This book starts with Cade, a baker’s child, witnessing the purification of his sister and trying to destroy the Cured Temple warriors who were hurting her.  While escaping from the warriors, he meets a weredragon who was under the disguise of a mindless firedrake. She tells him to go south and meet up with her sister. This meeting starts an epic quest to restore the land of Requiem and destroy the Cured Temple.
My favorite character in this book is Fidelity. She is a weredragon who pretends she is a faithful librarian spreading the world of the Cured Temple. In reality she is secretly gathering information and history about Requiem to one day restore the magical land. She is a strong motivated character who puts other’s needs before her own.
Even though this book has a interesting plot and characters, the delivering of these ideas is sub par and lacks the proper details that are needed in developing a story. This book is an average fantasy book that centers around dragons. I would recommend this book to anyone who is super enthusiastic about dragons or generic fantasy adventure books. This book is similar to the Eragon series due to the sudden decrease of the native dragon population and the changing of a land due to a tyrannical dictator.
The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth is about a Chinese man and his wife and the struggles they faced as a family. I did not like the book very much, because I found it repetitive. The family starts out as just Mr.Lung and his hard work in the fields, and suddenly it shifts to him having a wife and they move into a house together. Then they have a child on the way.The details of the pregnancy were completely skipped over, and somehow they ended up going straight to the actual birth of the child.The book inferred that the child's birth brought luck to the family. Suddenly they became rich, and they buy land from a rich family in the town. Throughout the book, when the family becomes poor they move, and each time they have a child, their luck changes for the better. At some point in the story, Mr. Lung feels that he needs another woman besides his wife, and so he acquires a mistress, or what he calls a concubine. He shows his blatant disregard towards the feelings of his wife and his disrespect for women. However, his actions seemed to be a common behavior for men in China. He was able to take a much larger step by moving his mistress into the house where he raises his children and lives with his wife. I didn’t like the book because it was only interesting at times,  and then it was boring to read. While reading, I kept wondering if something interesting was going to happen. I can say that it was both a good and a bad thing, because I wanted to stop reading the book when it got boring, but I kept reading because I didn’t want to miss the action when it happened. In all, I enjoyed the good parts of the story and the interesting insight it gave me as to how the Chinese culture worked at the time, but I don’t think this is a book I would reread. This book is more of a one time read. I do recommend reading the book because there were some interesting things in the book, and some very obvious differences between the world we’ve known and the world that most people in China probably still know.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep is a fiction New York Times Bestseller written by Curtis Sittenfeld. The main character is a girl named Lee Fiora from Indiana who attends the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. The story begin in Lee’s freshman year at Ault. Lee is a reserved but curious girl who doesn’t necessarily fit in with the crowd at Ault; she doesn’t have many friends, she doesn’t get along well with her roommates, and she often questions her place at Ault. It is clear that her home and old school in Indiana are both very different from the lifestyle at a highly esteemed prep school. Lee is on scholarship at Ault so she is exposed to the harsh realities of social class and moving up the ladder. I would consider Lee to be a quiet observer at the start of her time at Ault, but it is clear that she longs for more in her high school experience. In her freshman year, she is introduced to a smart and popular senior named Gates Medkowski. In my opinion, all of Lee’s choices then on were based off of the pure desire to be popular and make her mark on Ault such as Gates had done. Lee becomes infatuated with a boy her age named Cross Sugarman, who she later has a what I would call, unhealthy relationship with later in the story. In her four years at Ault Lee faces hardships that cause a dramatic change in her; these hardships involve honesty, parents, boys, friendships, roommates, sexuality, and Ault in general, however these are major plot points that I don’t want to spoil. Readers can observe the ways in which school can change a person for better or for worse.
Prep was a great book that I would recommend to anyone in high school who likes realistic fiction and like stories about the development of a person throughout their teenage years. Female readers will be able to relate to the book in many ways. I loved the book overall and have already recommended it to friends.