Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

LET'S GO ON AN ADVENTURE!!! (I apologize in advance for the mini-rant)

I recently acquired small, awesome copy of the Hobbit. It is my pride and joy right now. Carrying around that book has led to a lot of conversation starters. 

Random person: "What's that book! It looks really cool!"
Me: "Oh, it's the Hobbit. It's really good. You should read it."
Random person: "I don't want to. I've heard it's hard. I've seen the movies, though."

Please stop avoiding books because they're "too hard" or "too big"! The same thing happens when I try to get someone to read Harry Potter. People will say, "Those books are just so big! I don't think I could do it." You are smarter than you think you are! You have the ability to read hard things! Also, STOP JUDGING BOOKS FROM THEIR MOVIES! Don't think that just because you've seen the movie, you know the story. I haven't actually seen the Hobbit movies yet. I've heard good things, but there is always stuff left out when turning books into movies. 

The Hobbit is an amazing book about Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit. One day, Gandalf comes and tries to convince him to go on an adventure. Bilbo refuses, wanting to stay in his cozy hobbit hole. This does not stop Gandalf. He sends dwarfs over to Bilbo's hobbit hole and tells them that Bilbo will be their burglar. Long story short, Bilbo sets out on an adventure with them.

You really need to read this book. If you are taking honors next year, I'm pretty sure you read it in Mr. Carter's class. That is something you should be looking forward to. The Hobbit was one of the best books I've read in a long time.

On to Lord of the Rings!

The Fault In Our Stars

This book is incredibly popular right now, and I think that may be one of the reasons it took me so long to actually decide to read it. I had heard so much about it, and figured I already knew the story. I was very, very wrong.

The Fault in Our Stars is about a girl named Hazel, who has cancer. She meets a boy named Augustus, who also had cancer. They become really close, and the book follows them and their story. Usually I don't really enjoy love stories. I feel like they all follow the same plot (Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. Girl and boy fight. Girl and boy make up and promise never to fight again. Girl and boy fight again). The Fault in Our Stars was a beautiful exception to what I'm going to call my realistic fiction stereotype.

Upon re-reading, I've decided that I like the way John Green writes. It's different and refreshing. I could relate to Hazel, even though I don't have cancer. It made me happy that this wasn't a book written to make people pity those who have cancer, but to show that they are people just like everyone else. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I would recommend it to everyone.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fifth one in the series, in case anyone wants to know) is actually one of my favorites in the series. My second-favorite, to be exact. (It got beat out by Deathly Hallows. Barely.) This book also happens to be the longest in the series. Please don't let this intimidate you. It really is a great one.

A lot of people don't like Order of the Phoenix because they say it's "too long," or "boring." I STRONGLY disagree. Two of my favorite characters in the series are Fred and George, and I feel like they are highly involved in this book. I also came to like Peeves in Order of the Phoenix, whereas I just kind of tolerated him before. (If you've only seen the movies, you have no idea who Peeves is. Read the books.) I HATE Umbridge. More than Voldemort. It's that bad. I hate her, but I think she's a great character. I've read books where there are characters I hate and feel like they should have not been included in the story at all, but Umbridge isn't one of them.

Sorry that took up a whole paragraph, but Umbridge is a MAJOR part of the book. The other characters are great. Harry shows awesome leadership skills, Hermione is coming up with great ideas, and Ron is… Ron. Dumbledore's army is great. 

The ending of the book was done really well. Of course I won't reveal anything, but it's good.

Would I recommend this book? OF COURSE! You will probably want to read the first, second, third, and fourth book before this one though. (I recommend reading them in that order.) Seriously, though, if you haven't read this series, you need to. You are depriving yourself of something magical and wonderful.


1984, George Orwell. Classic, 298 pages (plus an appendix and afterword, which don't need to be read, but give some great insight). Review by Samantha Nelson.

First off, I would just like to say I need to stop reading sad/depressing books. I just read Regine's Book, 1984, and now I'm reading Sarah's Key! If anyone has a happy poetry anthology (not Shel Silverstein, I've already read one by him) I would love to hear about it.

I should probably clarify on the whole depressing thing. Let's start off with a quote from the afterword (written by Eric Fromm).

"George Orwell's 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities… and will not even be aware of it."

Translation: This book is about a world where mankind loses the ability to love, to hate, to long for something. All feelings cease to exist. All feelings, that is, except for the love of Big Brother. Big Brother is the leader of the Party. Though the book never specifies whether or not Big Brother is a real person, you get the idea that he doesn't exist, at least not in the sense that he is an actual human being. Big Brother is the government, the whole inner party. And he is always watching.

This book focuses on Winston Smith, a man about forty years old whose job is to rewrite the past. Of course, that's not what his job was officially. Winston was supposed to "correct errors" in speeches, newspapers, etc. Whenever he got a new piece to edit, it was always said that someone had been misquoted or an error had occurred, never that the party had been wrong, or was lying. This was a concern for Winston. No accurate, true record of the past could be found anywhere. The government basically controlled the pass.

Winston decides he has had enough. He has started writing in a diary. He has to do so secretly, as he is always being watched. Writing in a diary can get you accused of thoughtcrime. If you are found guilty of thoughtcrime, you will be wiped out, obliterated. The Party will erase all evidence of you. You will never have existed. 

There is a rumor that there is a group of people rebelling against Big Brother called the brotherhood. Winston goes out in search of the brotherhood.

I could write twice as much about this book, but I don't dare say any more for fear I'll give away spoilers. That, and this review is getting way too long. Orwell's ideas about the limits of the human mind are astounding. I am wondering what he was thinking as he was writing this book. What kind of dark state of mind was he in?

As for recommending this book; It was fascinating in a kind of awful way. It made me consider things I wouldn't have otherwise. 

Sarah's Key

Historical Fiction. Sarah's Key, by Tatiana De Rosnay, 239 pages.

Sarah's Key switches back and forth between the years 1942 and 2002. In 1942, Sarah is a ten year old Jew living in Paris. The French police are coming around and arresting Jewish Families. When they come to Sarah's house she locks her younger brother in the cupboard, promising to come back for him.

In 2002 Julia Jarmond gets an assignment from her boss to write about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Quick History update: This is the event in which Sarah and her family get arrested. The French Police (NOT nazis) rounded up all the Jews in France and sending them to labor camps, jails, and eventually gas chambers. Julia comes to find that the French do not like discussing this event at all. Very few people are willing to talk about it. This troubles Julia, it is almost as if people have forgotten the thousands that died. 

While digging into the past, Julia finds a connection her family has to Sarah. While working on her article, Julia also comes across some problems in her personal life. I won't go in to detail; nobody likes spoilers. (Except maybe River Song. If you don't know who I'm talking about, go home and watch some british television.)

Sarah's Key was an amazing book! I would definitely recommend it to all of my friends. Warning, it does go over some topics that might be sensitive to some students. If you don't like reading about death or people suffering, this is not a book for you. It does talk about Sarah being sent to a refugee camp, and what happened to her while she was there.

I apologize that this review isn't as long or as detailed as previous ones. That's just what I get for procrastinating until the night before.

Shadow and bone

Alina is a solider in a mythical land called Ravka. She grew up in an orphanage with her best friend, Mal (FYI, Mal is a guy. It doesn't sound a lot like a boy name, but rest assured he is a male). The kingdom of Ravka is split into two parts by the Shadow Fold. The Shadow Fold is basically a giant mass of Darkness hovering over a lake in the middle of the kingdom. There are strange creatures in the Shadow Fold called the Volcra. One day Alina and Mal have to travel with the rest of their unit across the Shadow Fold to trade with the western side of the kingdom. During the journey, the Volcra attack. Alina and Mal are both wounded, Mal severely. Alina is then able to channel a power that will change her life forever.

Reading over that, I made the book sound incredibly corny. I promise the author does much better than I did while telling the story. I was surprised by how much I liked the book. When I was at the library and it caught my eye. I checked it out and took it home, thinking I would just read it in my spare time. As soon as I started I could not put the book down. It was amazing! I recommend it to everyone.