Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Decandido's "Leverage: The Zoo Job" Will Have These Thieves Stealing Your Attention

3rd Quarter Outside Reading Book Review

Leverage: The Zoo Job by Keith R. A. Decandido, Berkeley Publishing Group, 2013               Genre: Fiction

Leverage Inc. is a group of five thieves located in Boston who find average people who have been cheated and/or lied to by big corporations and the rich people who own them. Nate is the mastermind of the operation and uses his quick thinking to lead his team through operations time and time again. This time their mission objective is to recover some rhinos that seemingly disappeared on their way to the zoo and they must travel to Africa to get the information they need. Was this the fault of a corrupt governmental system or a man who would do anything to help the children he looks after?

I can’t provide a quote about the book from the book jacket because I read this book as an ebook and it doesn’t have those quotes, or a book jacket.

The writing style seemed similar to that of most crime drama novels because there was a problem that a team had to gather information on and then systematically follow leads. It also reminded me of crime drama novels in that he moves from period in time to period time very quickly and it doesn’t make sense until the end.

“Then Eliot threw Polonia to the ground, cried, “Go, go, go!” Sophie hit the accelerator, and only then did Eliot close the door” (Chapter 18(ebook)).

I like this book especially because I like the TV show it is based on and think it has a good message, that just because someone is rich, doesn’t mean they’re right.

4 paws= pounce on it, it is a great book, might not be good if you haven’t watched the show leverage.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Performance is Key

Author's notes: I would like the reader to read this and this about facing their fears and remember that just because something seems scary doesn't mean they can't do it. I think the characters were easy to write because I understand how people are and get inspiration for the characters from my friends. My story has it's problems too, I don't get stage-fright, at least not since since I was a little kid, so I couldn't speak from experience when I wrote it, and I had trouble writing the ending so I hope that didn't turn out dry. I would appreciate tips on how to make my ending better. Thank you.

”NO NO NO!” he shouted “NO NO NO NO NO!” I stormed out of the band room shouting with my flute still in my hand. Harry and Clev turned from their card game and looked questioningly at me.
Maybe I should explain a little bit. My name is Erbert or at least that's what everyone calls me, even my parents unless they’re angry, because most people pronounce herbs without the “h” so you should pronounce Herbert without the “h”. I play flute in the school concert band and my first high school performance is coming up, because I’m a freshman. I have been practicing non-stop for the past three weeks. In the school band my friends are all in the front row of the arc, which is the semicircle that we sit in when we perform. The two other flute players are Clev, his name is Justin Clevonich so we call him Clev, and Sha, short for Shaniqua. Clev tries to act cool a lot of the time, even though he isn’t. Sha is loud and larger than life, and always has her head in the clouds. Clev sits on my right, and Sha sits on my left. Next to Sha is Harry, who plays alto saxophone. Harry is sort of quiet but he’s friendly and most people like him. And next to Harry is Zod. Zod is a recent foreign exchange student from Africa, a fairly wealthy family. We try to make sure he fits in with us, and is comfortable in the United States. He can be strange at times but he’s really nice,and he’s more like an American than you expect someone from a different continent to be and we call him Zod because his real name is hard to pronounce. His instrument is the clarinet. All of them are my closest

Now I’ll tell you why I was yelling. You see, I have stage fright. I have performed in front of crowds before, but this is my first high school performance, and I want it to be as close to perfect as I can get it. I am very nervous because in one of the songs, I have a solo, where only I play, and if I mess up, everyone will know. I was just practicing in the band room after school when I messed up again and started shouting and stormed into the adjacent room, known as the middle room, where everyone in the performing arts department hangs out during their free time.
“Dude, what’s with the yelling?” Harry asked me.
“I can’t get it right”, I replied, “No matter how many times I try, it isn’t good enough.”
Clev put his hand on my shoulder. He did this whenever he was offering big words of encouragement, I guess he does it for emphasis when he’s trying to make his point.. “The more you practice, the better it gets, you of all people know that, more than anyone else, and you are an amazing flute player because of it. Just keep practicing and you’ll do fine dude, don’t worry.” This caused Harry to grin, and then they started loudly singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.
This reassured me a little but as the concert came closer I became more and more worried.
One week before the concert I was still practicing my routine of practicing in the band room for an hour or two after school and I was steadily making progress, but that didn’t make the uneasy feeling of the looming performance go away. My friends continued to offer words of encouragement but I knew that as much as they could try to help me through it, I would have to be the one to face my fear and go out there.
Before I knew it, it was the day of the band concert and was prepared from my practice but still nervous. I drifted through my classes trying to calm my jumpy nerves. In 6th period biology, my last class of the day, I sat next to Sha.
“Jesus Erbert, you look like a mess.” she pointed out, and I did look like a mess. My hair was screwed up and my clothes were rumpled, I was going to have to fix that before show time.
“Thanks for the words of wisdom, anything else?” I said sarcastically
“You’re playing a concert, not going to your death bed, calm down.”
I thought that that was a little harsh, but I knew she was right. “Well this is a new experience for me and I’m nervous.” I complained.
“No it isn’t, you’ve been doing these concerts since you were ten and the same are gonna show up that always show up, parents and a few friends. It isn’t any different than before, except the conductor is better.” she said. I laughed nervously. The last bell of the day rung.

The end of the school day had come faster than I expected and soon after that it was show time. I thought about what my friends had been saying for weeks and knew they were right. I was good a flute and wouldn’t mess up unless I keep letting it get to my head. And of course I was still nervous but at show time I knew. I knew I had to face my fear and play the concert no matter what. I sat down next to Clev and Sha, Harry gave me a thumbs up and Zod flashed a smile.I saw the crowd as the curtain went up and got ready. Sha was right, it was just the same people that were always there. The conductor looked around and made sure everyone was set. We started and I played my heart out. And I did well, but honestly, it doesn’t matter if I did well or not. What matters in the performing arts, what matters in everything, is that it comes from the heart. And on that day my music came from the heart.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Carl Hiaasen's Hoot is a Hoot

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. Random House, Inc., Copyright 2002  
Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Hoot is a book about a kid named Roy who notices a strange, running boy with bare feet. He soon hears about some suspicious activity at the site of the local pancake house which is about to be built. He soon finds out that the mysterious running boy, known as “mullet fingers” is behind the strange activity at the pancake house, but he isn’t just a vandal causing problems, he is trying to save burrowing owls that are nesting at the construction site. Now Roy has to decide what is right and what is wrong and whether to follow the law or fight for the owls.

“A tale torn from the pages of Hiaasen’s past and South Florida’s present, a rollicking, righteous story about two middle-school eco-warriors”
- The Miami Herald

Carl Hiaasen’s books are usually for a more adult audience, but in this book for young adults his writing style is appealing to a teen and has a powerful meaning at the same time. I haven’t read any of Carl Hiaasen’s other books, but his writing style is very similar to that of Jerry Spinelli in that it has a serious undertone while still seeming playful.

“They put alligators in your potties, sir. Real live alligators.”
“More than one?” (27).

I like the message of the story, because endangered species are very important and I think people should be more careful when dealing with endangered species. Big companies today sometimes don’t pay enough attention to the planet.

I give Hoot 3 paws - pursue it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Music I Make

The dictionary defines value as the worth or cost of something. However, what if the worth of something is infinite? How is value defined then? I think, like many others, that the value of something can become so great that it is priceless, that money no longer has any affect on the giving of something so valuable. But what has so much value that it could be considered priceless? I think the best way to find out would be to find something priceless, but we would have to find something priced.
Ever since I was in the 6th grade I have played the Tenor Saxophone as my main instrument, and I have always loved it. It is still a shiny golden color and I use it in the school’s concert band. It has a great sound and I like using it in jazz pieces and I love playing with the band, and playing it brightens up my day. I consider my tenor saxophone an item of worth, and very important to me. I (and by I, I mean my mother) recently bought it for around $900, and is by far my most expensive instrument. It is priced because it is replaceable, although for $900 I would rather not. I like it but there are things that are worth much more to me.
Finding something thats priceless is a little more difficult, but still doable, and priceless things vary much more from person to person. One of the things that I consider priceless is my music, actually sometimes the music I make with my saxophone. I always liked music, and getting to play and make music is one of the best experiences that I have, and I get to do it almost every day. I have always had an interest in the arts, and even though I like sports, I have always been much more interested in the arts. Acting and music are my favorite things to do. What I like about music is that it is so diverse and distinct and can have such feeling and emotion that it is never the same. Music has the power to make people feel emotions without talking, and the can be happy or sad, angry or calm. I like to play music because, first, I like to be with other musicians who like to play music like I do and who understand the impact music has in some peoples lives and how music is good for people. Second, I like to play for people to make them feel happy and sometimes sad, or at least make them feel something because that is the beauty of music, that it can make you feel. No amount of money is able to replace making music because making music with people who understand why music is so great is one of the best things to do and for those who have never gotten to make music, I would surely recommend it.
There are usually differences between items of different values, but there are usually similarities too, even between priced and priceless items or experiences. While one be touched and one cannot, and one is real and one isn’t, both my tenor saxophone and my music make me happy, they are things that make make me happy. I prefer to think that happiness is the true determination of worth.

So what if you don’t think making music is priceless? Or have never thought of an instrument of something of value? Well then first off I’m guessing you probably have never made music or played an instrument. If you have and still aren’t convinced then I suggest you do try and find something priceless if you haven’t already, because every time you find something priceless, money becomes less and less important and understanding that money is not the most critical piece of a good lifestyle is something a lot of people could use.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Speak Final Assessment

Speak Final Assessment

    1.One time, I was at lunch, about to go sit with my friends in some time around 4th Grade and I was pretty new to the idea of popularity. Some of the more popular kids wanted me to sit at their table, even though I was about to sit with my friends (the friends I had already). My inner voice told me to sit with my friends and ignore them because they were probably jerks anyway. I wanted to walk away, but I my outer voice couldn’t say no to them because I looked up to them, and I sat them. So I ended up sitting with the popular kids over my friends and they turned out to be really cool and nice. For some reason I thought my friends would be be super angry, I mean hey, I was young, I didn’t know how my friends would react to this. Obviously my friends didn’t mind and now some of the kids I actually sat with are now my friends too so while sometimes inner and outer voice conflicts go badly, I was lucky enough to have had everything work out.I made some new friends and with no harm to me or my old friends.

    2. I was playing baseball earlier this year, and I was playing against a fairly tough team and I was up to bat with men on second and first base. I got two strikes and ball and the man at first got picked off so that now there were two outs. I had to get a hit. I knew in my head that I had to swing or I would get out, he was going to throw a strike. So I got ready as he drew his arm back to throw. I could see it coming down the middle. I reared back, ready to hit it. I got my arms around and made contact for a long double into left field. The man that was on second scored and I was so fast I could have almost made it to third. I had done well because I had listened to my inner voice’s instincts. If I had let that ball go by, I would have let down the team and myself. The moral of this story is trust yourself and listen to the voice inside your head because it is the most important voice you hear and you have to be with it your entire life.

    3A. “ I just want to sleep. The whole point of not talking about it, of silencing the memory, is to make it go away. It won’t (81). This is inner and outer voice discord. Her outer voice says she doesn’t want to talk about what happened and hide away. She says that going to sleep will solve her problems. But her inner voice actually does want her to talk with somebody, that she needs to get her feelings off her chest. She doesn’t want to admit it, but she is emotionally damaged and needs to let it go by learning to speak.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NOT Left for Dead

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, Atria Paperback, 2011.   Genre: Science Fiction.

This book is about a zombie named R, who can’t really remember anything about his past life and feeds on the living, until he meets a human girl named Julie. The book is set in future San Francisco, after humanity has fallen and there are only tiny remnants of civilization remaining. R and the zombies live in an abandoned airport and Julie lives one of former San Francisco’s stadiums.When R meets Julie he feels remorse for what he has done and tries to be a little more human. However as Julie learns to care about R despite the fact that he is a zombie, the rest of the city, especially her father do not. Meanwhile bringing a live human into the airport unharmed causes great unrest. Now R and Julie are all alone with no help and they must survive.

“I never thought I could care so passionately for a zombie.” says Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, on the back of the book.

I have not read any other books by this author, as this was his debut novel, not self published. This book is not like any I am familiar with as Marion puts all of his idiosyncratic personality into it, making the book unique and fun to read. He has a great way of storytelling that can captivate an audience for hours.

“She is Living and I’m Dead, but I’d like to believe we’re both human. Call me an idealist (42).

I feel that the theme is that everyone, no matter how different looking, can be human, humanity comes from the heart not from the body. People who are considered ugly or different are human if they are kind and generous, but bullies, even if they look more human, are less human because they don’t have a kind heart.

The book starts off slow but has a great story and lots of action. I give Warm Bodies 5 paws- Devour it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Speak Reflective Reading Quiz

5 words that describe Melinda
  • Exasperated
  • Sarcastic
  • Scared
  • Alone
  • Closed

I said that Melinda is exasperated because everything in her life is a nuisance. She goes through life and nothing goes her way, she has to keep dealing with all these hardships.

I said that Melinda is sarcastic because she doesn’t care what is going on around her. She thinks that all her classmates are morons, and that most are much dumber than she is, and she expresses it through sarcasm.

I said Melinda is scared because of IT. When Andy Evans, who is believed to have raped Melinda, comes up to her she becomes afraid, and feels like vomiting.

I said Melinda is alone because she has no friends. Even the one person who would talk to her left her.

I also said Melinda is closed because she is shut out from the outside world. She wants to hide away from everything and everyone.

I think the best word to describe Melinda is alone. She has no friends or social group and her parents don’t care about her much. She thinks that instead of being with others it is smarter to be alone. Melinda says “ It is easier not to say anything. Shut your trap button your lip can it.”(Melinda, 9) She doesn’t share her feelings with other people.

Melinda doesn’t just try to shut out the world and be alone, she also tries to shut out the world. “ I just want to sleep.” (Melinda, 81) She thinks that avoiding her problems will make them go away, and that hiding it is the safest option.  She wants to ignore the world that has been so cruel to her, and she really just wants to be alone.