Sunday, July 10, 2016

Random Required Reading Post

Hello, fellow people of Earth. How have you guys been? Good? Good. Sorry we haven’t been posting (we know we say that every time, but we still really, really mean it); we’re lazy.
Sooo, being that it’s summer and that we therefore have summer reading books, we were thinking that we could do a post on required reading books in schools. Sooooo, first we’re going to have a quick discussion on required reading books in general, and then we’re going to list our favorites/least favorites.
Also, we have a guest! Yayyyy! Let’s put our hands together to welcome our friend Ney! Yayyyyyyyy!
(Oh, and btw, we’re honestly not claiming to be experts or anything on required reading; we’re not like some super experienced education official people--these are just our opinions. Okay that’s it.)

Do you think schools should have required reading?
Ney: Only if there’s SparkNotes.
JC: Haha, Schmoop is better. But anyway, I think that summer reading books can be good--it just depends on the book. The books that have good themes and actually relate to our lives are good, but with some of the books that I’ve read in school, I don’t really get why we had to read them in the first place.
Kalee: I believe that required reading is important. Without it, we would never be exposed to different styles of writing and dark, yet realistic themes. I feel like we can learn more about ourselves and feel like we can relate to someone.
Ney: I don’t mind having required reading because I don’t read the books anyway.
JC: You’re just perfect for this post, Ney! Lol . . . aaaanyway, I agree with you, Kalee, but I also think that some of the books that we have to read are a waste of time (no offense to those super famous authors and playwrights that I just insulted). I think that if the English teachers ask for feedback on the required reading at the end of the school year, they should actually listen to what we have to say and maybe change the books we have to read accordingly if there are enough opinions opposing it. Okay, that’s all I have to say.
Kalee: I feel like most kids end up hating Shakespeare because it’s required reading. Pressure from school and teachers makes it extremely difficult to enjoy books with hidden meanings, because we are too busy trying to find the hidden meaning that the teachers want us to see. And that's it.

Awesome List of Required Reading Books (in order of awesomeness)

  1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - Holden is a really relatable character for pretty much anyone who’s ever been scared of change or felt alone. The book is full of important themes that exist in real life (loss, loneliness, general teenage irritability, etc.)

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - First of all, Scout is a really adorable character. Second, this book brings to attention the consequences of making snap judgements of other people without any real evidence (and, of course, how horrible racism is, whether it be in the past or present). We grow up with Scout and Jem, and we learn right along with them.

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Huck doesn’t always make the right decisions, which only makes him a more relatable character. This is a book about friendship, religion, racism, and individualism, and it’s a great read.

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Although this book is a bit (read: a lot) wordy for my taste (this is JC by the way), it still has a fierce, relatable main character and a slew of hilarious and/or lovable side characters (and a few characters that you can’t help but despise). Some themes in this book are love, marriage, sisterhood, and feminism in a time where misogyny rules.

  1. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams - The characters in this play are well-defined, and you can feel Tennessee Williams’ own guilt over leaving his family resonate through Tom’s emotion-packed narrative. (P.S. JC didn’t like this play)

  1. Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury - This novel gives an insight into the plight of Japanese Americans in the tumultuous WWII-era America. The voice of the resilient, relatable main character Eddy Okubo only makes the harrowing story even more moving.

  1. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah - This story is both heartbreaking and uplifting, if that makes sense. Though the narrator (who just so happens to be the author) goes through some horrible experiences, her strength and resilience shines through. It’s a sad read, admittedly, but it’ll definitely be worth it.

Horrible List of  Required Reading (in order of horribleness)

  1. Butter by Erin Jade Lange - Horrible message, underdeveloped characters, disturbing plot, and a completely unrealistic ending. ‘Nough said.

  1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding - Okay, so a lot of people luuuuurve this book, but I just--omg, I couldn’t stand it. Seriously. A bunch of boys survive a plane crash onto a deserted island, only to have it all go to waste when they all start killing each other, basically. It was disturbing and horrible, and literally nothing good ever happens to the characters who actually deserve it.

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare - I know insulting the Bard is considered sacrilegious to a lot of people, but this play pretty much had no point. A bunch of hormone-loaded teenagers run into the forest, where a bunch of weird, pointless stuff happens. Then they all get happy and dance and get married. The end.

Okay, that’s it, folks! We hope you enjoyed this post (and Ney’s contributions to the conversation, lol) and that you’re all having a great summer vacation (for those of you in school)! Ta-ta for now :) <3

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee

Stevie, Max, and Sanger: keeping Austin weird.
Stevie Hart is homeschooled, but don’t hold that against her. Sure, she and her best (okay, only) friend, Sanger, will never be prom queens, but that’s just because the Central Austin Homeschool Cooperative doesn’t believe in proms. Or dancing. Still, Stevie and Sanger know how to create their own brand of fun.
Enter Max Garza, the new boy next door. After a near-fatal accident, Max is determined to defy mortality with a checklist: 23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying. Dead set on carrying out fabricated demises ranging from impalement to spontaneous combustion, Max charms Stevie and Sanger into helping him with this two-month macabre mission. But as Stevie finds herself falling for Max, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line between his make-believe deaths and her real life.

First of all, I wanted to say sorry because we haven’t posted anything since April. I don’t know about Kalee, but I really have no excuses for that except . . . I’m lazy? Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Sorry :)
Anyway, onto the review! This was kind of an insane book, which is partly why I picked it up at the bookstore. All the characters were super weird in their own endearing little ways, and the premise was . . . weird. In a good way. But still weird.
Let’s start with the main character, Stevie.
Oh, Stevie. Adorable, emotional, judgy little Stevie. Sometimes I wanted to rip out all of my hair and scream into your face, but most of the time I just thought maybe you needed a hug. These were a tough couple of months for you, huh?
No spoilers, but the stuff that happens in this book really puts Stevie through the wringer. She’s homeschooled, which, while not really the focus of the book, is an interesting premise that I haven’t really read too much about in the past. She’s also kind of an activist and kind of not. It’s complicated. What else? Let’s see . . . she likes putting people into boxes and firmly sticking little labels on them--”Blue Jean Jumper” and “Last-Chance Charlies,” among others, are her preferred labels for the different “types” of homeschooled kids. Throughout much of the book, she’s blissfully unaware of her judginess, which kind of drives me crazy. On the other hand, though, she’s cute and funny and fiercely loyal to those she loves--which brings me to our next topic: Sanger.
Sanger is Stevie’s best friend, and they’re basically in love with each other. Sanger would do anything for Stevie, and vice versa, almost to the point where they’re too dependent on each other. I loved it, though, and I seriously wish that Sanger existed in real life. She’s thoroughly entertaining, proud to a fault, and seems to be good at pretty much everything except expressing her feelings in a healthy, productive way. She also goes through quite a bit during the course of the book--I think she might show up more than the actual love interest, which is a nice change of pace--and she doesn’t always handle it well. Still, she’s a great friend and a really caring person underneath all of her bluster.
Max, aka Death List Boy, kind of caught me off guard. He’s weird and sort of morbid, but at the same time, he’s really sweet and funny and endearing when he wants to be.

“It’s such an insane story,” said Sanger. “Have you thought about writing a memoir?”
“Oh!” Max said, doing that thing where he spreads his arms wide, like a bird taking wing. “It is in the works. I’ve penned the first chapter already. It starts with a premonitory nightmare I had as a three-year-old.”
“I don’t even know if you’re joking, Max,” said Sanger, “and that is what I love about you.”

The whole death list thing is super weird, and he has his reasons, but it’s still weird. No question. Nevertheless, he and Stevie complement each other really well, even though they got off to a somewhat rocky start. I mean, he’s weird; she’s weird. He’s kind of messed up, and so is she. They’ve both had a fair amount of trauma in their lives, which gives them a bit of understanding of each other that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
In the end, despite the strange premise, I really liked this book--enough to reread it a few times, even. And, to give you a taste of the book’s awesomeness, I’ll leave you with another excerpt:

“All my other friends tell me you’re bad for me. I should listen.”
“I am your only friend.”
“See what you’re doing? Classic. You isolate me, like a wolf picking off the weakest baby seal, then taking it to a secluded spot and being all, ‘You don’t have any other friend like me, baby seal. Time to die.’”
“In what universe do wolves prey on seals?”
“You’re just fact-checking because you have no comeback to my most excellent analogy.”
“Your analogy sucks.”
“Speaking of which, I’ve got this great joke. Ready for it? Ahem. A seal walks into a club.”
“. . .”
“Get it? Get it?
“Not funny.”
Aaaand scene. *Cue the applause*
Wasn’t that great? It was great! . . . well, anyway, thanks for reading! You’re the best; mwah, mwah, ladidadida!
‘Til next time,
JC <3
P.S. I just wanted to add that Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up once again! It’ll be happening this July, and . . . yeah, I won’t force you to read another lengthy explanation of the whole thing. However, if you do want to read a lengthy, sort of confusing explanation of the whole thing, you can find it here. Okay, bye again! Thanks so much!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Rose Society by Marie Lu


  Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.

Synopsis and picture credit to

This book is so different from every young adult book I have ever read. The Rose Society is an extremely dark novel, told from the perspective of Adelina, who is basically a villain. If you like happy books with sweet romance, this book is definitely not for you. Your heart will slowly be breaking, but the alluring story will continue to draw you in, sadly leaving your heart broken by the time you finish this book.

I love Marie Lu's writing style, because it is easy to understand, yet she can easily wind a complex story. Lu's writing style is hypnotic. She combines short and long sentences nicely, giving the story almost a poetic feel. I love how she described emotions and the scenery in a very clear way, making it easier for the reader to become engulfed in the story.

Now, the characters. I feel there's very few likable characters. All the characters have their own hidden, mostly corrupt motives, making it hard to like any of the characters, who appear frequently through out the story. Maeve has good motives, but since the story is being told from Adelina's perspective, she is the enemy and we are supposed to be rooting against her. But the corrupt nature and conflicting interests of the characters make them feel more realistic and developed, seeing that no real person is completely good and sparkly. I have mixed feelings about Adelina as a main character.

Adelina's dark personality makes it difficult for the reader to root for her, because, well, she likes pain and killing people. Through out the novel, Adelina's hatred towards those betray her fester inside of her, turning the poor girl more evil. I often felt the need to slap some sense in to her and remind her that the killing of the people is kinda bad, no? She seemed more sadistic than in the last book, which is understandable.

There was some romance in this book, not a whole lot, but some. I don't want to say who love the love interest is, because it would spoil the book in more ways than one, but I will say that the romance, to me, seemed a little all of sudden and not 100% necessary.

  I recommend this book for people who are looking for something different to read. The Rose Society is the second book of the Young Elites and it contains the same dark themes found in the first book. In my opinion, I would find that this book would be more enjoyable if one re-read the first book as a refresher, before reading the second book. There are quite a few characters and it is hard to keep track of who exactly they are, without having read the first book recently. Something tells me that this book will not end happily, but I think the most satisfying ending to me would be if Adelina died at the hands of someone she wronged. (Just speculating) I think it would be a very fitting ending to a dark story and eventually the consequences of all of her evil actions needs to catch up with her.

Overall, I would give this book a 9 out of 10. Have a good day and I hope you enjoyed this review!

- Kalee