Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tolog Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
reviewed by Maya Mercade

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a novel about literally what the title states, the life of Piscine Molitar Patel, also known as Pi. Pi grew up with his family in India’s Pondicherry district where they owned a zoo. He was born and raised a Hindu, but later on in his teenage years he decided to become a follower of Christianity and Islam. After facing issues with the Indian government, Pi’s family was forced to sell their zoo. His father brought Pi’s family and some of the animals along with them on a cargo ship going to Canada.
While aboard the ship, a few days into their journey to Canada, they experienced rough waters and storms in the middle of the ocean. The ship sank and Pi, a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger were the only survivors that luckily had a lifeboat to keep them on. Now Pi ventured on a new journey with these animals, but things as expected the animals got hungry and the hyena ate the zebra and the orangutan and the tiger ate the hyena. The tigers name was Richard Parker and since Pi had experience with animals having grown up in a zoo, he was able to gradually train Richard Parker not to eat him.
Pi was now stuck with nothing else in his life but a Bengal tiger because all his family was gone and he was stranded in the middle of the ocean. While continuing Pi’s journey with Richard Parker they came across another man who happened to be a castaway too. The castaway that they came across tried to eat Pi but Richard Parker ate the man before he was able to reach him. Time had gone by and they had finally swept up in Mexico. Because Pi was suffering from dehydration and starvation, he began hallucinating and basically went mad. Richard Parker took off into a nearby jungle leaving behind Pi without any goodbye.
Pi was taken to a hospital in Mexico and was being treated. While still in the hospital, Pi was interviewed by two men. He told the men his whole story about his family’s zoo, the ship sinking, being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger, and washing up to shore in Mexico. He also explains to them the same story but without any of the animals. The investigators preferred the one with the animals. So the book ended off with you having to think which story was true, but Pi said that you have to “believe in the better story”.
I thought this was an interesting book, going through Pi’s journey with him and seeing everything that he endeavored. The end threw me for a loop and it left me with a lot of questions after. I liked how it ended though because it gave me chance to think of my own personal view on the rest of the story. I recommend this book for anyone interested in reading about an adventure.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tolog Review: King Dork

King Dork
by Frank Portman
reviewed by Claire Villegas

Tom Henderson, a quirky, brainy, oddball narrates King Dork and tells a story like no other. At the beginning of the book, Tom is just your average, dorky high schooler trying to make his way through his sophomore year with his only friend, Sam Hellerman by his side. The two friends live for their imaginary band and plethora of names they have come up with.

When Tom comes along a box of old books from his dead father, including his copy of The Catcher in the Rye, an abundant amount of mysteries are introduced. Tom’s father’s books are just the beginning. Whether it be a secret code in the books, meeting new girls, dealing with his hippie step father, being forced to go to therapy, or discussing theories with his only friend, Tom seems to find himself in the middle of interlocking mysteries, which he hopes can lead him to find the answer to his father’s death.

I really enjoyed King Dork for its witty characters, satire humor, and unpredictable plot line. Frank Portman really kept you awake with the amount of twists and turns this book contains. All of the mysteries made the story even more exciting, and it was hard to put the book down. I would have to say one of my favorite parts about this book were the characters. I absolutely loved the way Tom and Sam were so intelligent and analyzed every little situation and event in their lives so deeply. Furthermore, their humor, dependent on sarcasm and clever remarks, made the book absolutely hilarious and kept me laughing. Overall, I loved this book and everything about it, from the plot twists to the dorky characters. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tolog Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
reviewed by Claire Grimes

“Speak” is the type of book that makes you want to keep reading. “Speak” is about this girl named Melinda, who is a teenager going into high school feeling excluded from her old friends from middle school. Something happened over the summer before high school that now all of her friends are ignoring her and giving her mean looks. You will have to read the book to find out what actually happened that summer. The reason why Melinda does not have a voice of her own is because theirs something she is trying to hold back and move on from. The title of this book relates to Melinda by not having a voice. It demonstrates the struggles throughout high school through friends, family, and teachers and the environment around her school. For example, at home there is this isolation between her parents and her because her parents are so busy with their work life and their lives that they do not even seem to notice the depression of their own daughter. The Horn Book starred review stated that this books is “an uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last.” For example, in the beginning of the book, it lists ten lies that teacher tell you in high school. One of the lies is that the football team will win the championship this year, which the school can not guarantee, which is funny to me. The book “Speak” informs parents and students what it could be like in high school if you are alone or as Laurie Anderson, the author, described Melinda as “an outcast.” The title of this book also reminds us that we all need to use our voice in order to speak up, or to express our feelings towards one thing or another that is important to that one person. But you will have to see how Melinda becomes someone who uses her voice by reading the book. I hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tolog Book Review: The Host

The Host
by Stephenie Meyer
reviewed by Courtney Rasic

Stephenie Meyer’s The Host is a dramatic, love-capturing novel, which will keep you longing for more and more of the eye-opening events that are embellished through the great writing of the author. This book is exceedingly recommended in my terms of opinion, contribution to the unbelievable turn of events, the unexpected encounters, and the unruly, passionate desire for love. The intriguing storyline of this novel, will introduce you to Melanie Stryder and Wanderer who are both occupants of the same, one body, Melanie is “the host” and Wanderer the “soul”. In the story the Host, Meyer digs deep inside to expressively reveal the true inner workings, feelings, and longings of the human race. “What was it that made this human love so much more desirable to me than the love of my own kind? Was it because it was exclusive and capricious? The souls offered love and acceptance to all. Did I crave a greater challenge?...Or was it simply better somehow? Because these humans hate with so much fury, was the other end of the spectrum that they could love with more heart and zeal and fire?” 

In a world where humans are to be extinct and have been taken over by an enemy species who use the human body to store their “souls” inside the human body, “the host.” Meyer expresses the indecisiveness very passionately and extensively between the “soul”, Wanderer and the “host”, Melanie Stryder. In my own opinion, Meyer is portraying to her readers the difficulty of listening to your heart, but still using your mind, in times of life difficulties or struggles, our minds tell us differently than our hearts. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a mature human: the overwhelming emotions and too vivid memories. The struggles depicted through every thought written, and expressed on every single page gets you more intrigued into the strangeness and curiosity. 

Meyer writes in a specific way that will get you anxious for every moment to happen, yet never see coming. The author wants you to read and hear the two sides between Melanie and Wanderer from what they think, desire, and what they disagree on altogether. What I loved the most was how the plot was strange and curious, never predictable to the point that the readers will be bored by a predictable conclusion of the story, it kept me on the edge of my seat, and unaware of what I was going to read next. This fictional novel is infused with riveting romance and is overwhelmingly emotional. The intensity of every word page to page, will refuse you to put the book down because the strength of how the author expresses the narrator’s thoughts and deep feelings lead you on to desperately know what will happen on forth throughout the novel. The extremity is addicting more than ever, to the extent that you can’t get enough.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tolog Book Review: Speak

by Laurie Halse Anderson
reviewed by Jacqueline Gevorgian

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson demonstrates the struggles of high school featuring Melinda Sordino as the main character who is a freshman, outcast, loser and complete social reject. This book completely captures the essence of the average public high school that includes the nerds, jocks, outcasts, and cliques. Melinda bears a huge secret and is in deep depression, and with her parents constantly arguing she faces challenges everyday by herself. She says, “I am alone, no one even asked me what happened,” this quote describes exactly how she is facing the world, alone and quiet with no one to rely on. As she goes through high school she learns that she does have a voice and begins to speak up and learns she is important and worthy. 

This book is about a young individual who starts out as a normal happy girl and later becomes terribly depressed, ostracized by her friends and ultimately hopeless. As the book goes on you see this transformation of her becoming less and less depressed as she fights through her problems and begins to speak out about her assault instead of staying quiet.

Laurie Halse Anderson does an excellent job portraying the struggles that many people face. This book has many morals, not only that everything can always get better but also that you should never judge a person based on who you think they are. 

Melinda was just seen as “that girl who called the cops and ruined the party.”` No one actually knew why she busted the party but they assumed that she did it to ruin their fun, and they judged her for that. After ruining the party she begins to withdraw herself from her friends because they began to ridicule her. She was judged for all the wrong reasons. 

Anderson’s moral in the book is to never judge a person based on their actions. This book is extremely inspiring. It doesn’t only educate but it teaches readers to understand other individuals and what their circumstances are.  Speak can have you laughing or ready to get yourself a tissue box, but it is definitely a must-read. Since being published in 1999 Speak has won over 10 national awards and has been translated into sixteen different languages.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tolog Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
reviewed by Ashley Bouchakian

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a profound piece of literature that has been appreciated for fifty-four years. To Kill A Mockingbird is an enduring tale of a child’s point of view of a very trying time. The story dates back to The Great Depression in Alabama in a small fictional town known as Maycomb County. The setting of this novel, which took place in the south, is fitting and appropriate for the story that is told because of the racial injustices and inequality that occur in this book. The story starts off with a six-year-old girl named Scout who is outspoken, superiorly intelligent for her age, and acts with the best intentions. Scout lives with her father, Atticus, and her older brother, Jem. Her brother, Jem is a ten-year-old boy who is rather brave and intelligent. Atticus Finch is the father of both Jem and Scout who sees everything logically, is well-spoken, and in general is a good and moral person.

Her father raises them to view everyone as equals, including African-Americans. Scout and Jem befriend a boy named Dill who is younger than Scout. Dill, Scout’s friend, is a creative story-teller throughout the novel and is very ingenious when it comes to lying. 

Meanwhile, Atticus takes the trial of Tom Robinson. Tom, a kind-hearted, illiterate African American, is falsely accused of raping a young woman named Mayella Ewell. This was a rather scandalous and dangerous trial as a white man defended a black man.

This book is essential to the time period as it shows how racial injustice was present at the time of The Great Depression. Also, it shows how relevant equality is to our society. Throughout the book, readers experience a sense of shock, happiness, sadness, and in general appreciate the book as a whole and as it is well-written. In the beginning of the story, the tone at times is humorous and childlike. As the story develops, it becomes more serious, somber, and dark. Throughout the book, symbolism is expressed from the characters to the title of the book. The book displays prejudiced scenarios and the various forms it can take. This is a classic novel that transcends generations and time. Everyone should experience this heart throbbing novel, as it shows the struggles that racial inequality causes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tolog Book Review: Feed by MT Anderson

by MT Anderson
reviewed by Lauren Risha

Today, the Internet is the pinnacle of almost everything around us. We use it in all aspects of life; from education and learning to social networking and self-expression. I personally had always viewed the Internet as something we have complete control over; until I read the novel Feed by M.T. Anderson. Anderson creates a world where the Internet is not just around us, but also inside us—literally. His concept of “feeds”, or the personalized software inside his character’s heads, shapes his novel into a unique and thought provoking read that is able to change the reader’s perspective about the industrialization of technology around us. 

Anderson’s story follows Titus, a teenage boy who, after having his feed hacked, begins to see the reality of life on his deceivingly utopian Earth. He is exposed to the light of this truth when he meets Violet—an exceptional, revolutionary girl who experiences the hacking with him. Together the two not only try to navigate through a high-tech adolescence, but begin to face bigger problems when Violet’s feed starts to malfunction. Their journey of survival, acceptance and romance brings together Anderson’s intricate themes in one eye-opening book.
The world the writer creates is one that I thought was extremely interesting. He takes stereotypical ideas of the future—such as flying cars and vacations on the moon—to the next level. His concept of a family unit deconstructs what some families are becoming today to the point where I was able to see every flaw of the modern household. 

Anderson demonstrates the power large corporations have, and what happens when those businesses begin to overpower the industry. The mind-to-door commerce he writes about really got me thinking about the fast pace of his society, and how ours is catching up pretty quickly. As Violet’s feed begins to cause her medical problems, I found myself asking; to what extent will we as a society go to ensure our companies make money? When will the automation of the world be enough to us? Are we really willing to destroy the nature around us in order to have more control over our own lives?

After finishing this book, I was certainly enlightened with new ideas of what is to come ahead. The author does a fantastic job of relating his world to our modern world, which I, as a teenage reader, really appreciated. I thought this was an extraordinary book that is filled with unusual themes and concepts, but still has the classic components that base a story. You will surely enjoy this novel if you are looking for a refreshing perspective on life and its many technical flaws. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

JRP/SRP: Video Contest

Are any of you juniors or seniors working on J/SRPs on immigration, human rights, or the environment?  If you are, you might want to think about entering the contest detailed below.  The Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center is inviting high school juniors and seniors to enter 3-5 minute videos on these topics.  Take a look!

Who wants to create a Maker Community with me?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

NEW in the FSHA Library

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.
Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.
shelved in General Fiction
synopsis from

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NEW in the FSHA Library

Faking Faith by Josie Bloss

Dylan Mahoney is living one big unholy lie.

Thanks to a humiliating and painfully public sexting incident, Dylan has become the social pariah at her suburban Chicago high school. She's ignored by everyone--when she's not being taunted--and estranged from her two best friends. So when Dylan discovers the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls, she's immediately drawn into their fascinating world of hope chests, chaperoned courtships, and wifely submission.

Blogging as Faith, her devout and wholesome alter ego, Dylan befriends Abigail, the online group's queen bee. After staying with Abigail and her family for a few days, Dylan begins to grow closer to Abigail (and her intriguingly complicated older brother). Soon, Dylan is forced to choose: keep living a lie . . . or come clean and face the consequences.

shelved in General Fiction
synopsis from