Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jennifer Jabaley's Lipstick Apology: A Review by Sisi P.

I liked the book, but it was a bit unrealistic.

Lipstick Apology is about a girl, Emily Carson, that finds out that her parents have died in the plane crash. But before they died, her mother leaves her a strange message on a plane tray. The message says EMILY PLEASE FORGIVE ME. It was written in her mother's lipstick. Emily doesn't know what it means and neither does anyone else, or do they?

So Emily moves in with her aunt in New York, goes to a new school, makes new popular friends, has the most popular boy and her lab partner chasing after her yet she doesn't feel right. The message her mother left her is bothering her and she has to uncover what it means, but does she really want to know?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Call of Duty: World at War Review By Austin C.

This game is a first-person shooter and deals a lot the Pacific and Europe. I think that the game is pretty good. I wish they would move forward instead of going back to WWII but overall it’s alright. They also have an online setup so players of their system can play with or against other living players. I have to say that the game is very short though.

After you beat the campaign they have an extra campaign called Nazi zombie mode, where you can play online and offline with players or by yourself. In this campaign you go through unless rounds of killing zombies and you can pick up special weapons and you have to repair windows as zombies will try to enter. You can also unlock more areas so you can have more room to defend yourself in.

I would recommend this game to anyone who loves shooter-up games, especially if it's first person. It’s a good game. It doesn’t top Call of Duty: Modern Warfare but it’s new and has a lot of unlockables and great online play.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Comparison of The Book Thief and All Quiet on the Western Front by Yatzi G.

Ok, so I decided on writing about two of my two favorite books. To start off, my favorite genre of books are war novels. They show you reality, and show you that you should appreciate what you have, which is a good life. The first book is called, The Book Thief By Markus Zusak, and the second book is called, All Quiet on the Western Front By Erich Maria Remarque. These two books have a lot in common and yet a lot in difference. For example, one writer is American while the other is by a German. This will show that we can all speak different languages, or have a different culture, but we all have feeling believe it or not.

The Book Thief vs. All Quiet on the Western Front

“One morning two butterflies play in front of our trench. They are brimstone-butterflies, with red spots on their yellow wings. What can they be looking for here? There is not a plant nor a flower for miles. They settle on the teeth of a skull. The birds too are just as carefree, they have long since accustomed themselves to the war” (Remarque 127).
This quotation from All Quiet on the Western Front reminds us that war has always been around, whether it was the Civil war, the Vietnam War, or in this case World War I and World War II.

In All Quiet on the Western Front a perspective coming from a young man of the age of nineteen is provided. He has volunteered to fight for his country, thinking war was going to be different, he finds out that war is a lie and meaningless. In The Book Thief a young girl from the age of nine through almost fourteen, named Liesel is forced to stay with some foster parents, because her sick mother can’t afford to keep her, and her little brother has died. During this time Hitler was in control of Germany. Liesel, thinking that she has enough agony in her life, learns that a Jew must be hidden in her house, and this was a big offense to German Nazi. In each of these books, they show that war has always two or more sides to the story. In this case the stories come from a young male adult in the war, and a common female child during war times. Comparing these books, shows that many people do not live to tell about their side and beliefs and truths about war; this is why there is still a lot to uncover. There are many different perspectives, such as in All Quiet on the Western Front, and Book Thief to look at war through. The ones that usually provide the best descriptions are those from the person themselves that were in the war, or through the eyes of an innocent young child who has not lived long enough to know all the evil of the world.

In All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul Baumer is a young man with a dream, a dream of becoming a hero. When his teacher Kantorek tricks his students into thinking that War is the perfect opportunity of becoming a hero they take it, proud, excited, and a bit frightened (but it doesn’t matter because their dream will come true), they go off and sign up. Finally in the War, there are nine friends, all nine of them are playing in the game of war, trying to be surviors, and regretting that they ever listened to Kantorek.
Most importantly the characters know how it feels to be alone and have nobody there.

Remarque says, "What has Kantorek written to you? muller asks him...
Iron Youth! Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk" (Remarque 18).

This quotation illustrates that the soldiers have just recieved letters from their relatives, friends, teachers, etc. When they get a letter from their teacher Kantorek, they just laugh, for they are not the Iron Youth! They may be young, but they have seen too much and their mentality is not the same. They think more wisely, they know how much life is worth, and they know there is a big chance that they will not be going home as heros.
Eventually, each friend dies one by one. One does become a deserter and the only one surviving is Paul, who eventually dies a couple months before the war is actually over.

As Remarque writes, "While they continue to write and talk, we saw the wounded and dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. But for all that we were no mutineers, and no deserters, no cowards..."(Remarque 13). In this passage Paul talks about how people talk and say, but have really no idea what it is like to see your own friend die in your arms, to know that you can not sleep as you wish with the fright that someone may kill you, or maybe the nightmares of the things back home that they miss, such as their families. To illustrate this Remarque shows the feelings of Paul, "They were very free with all these expressions. We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had sudenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing of their world left. We were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through" (Remarque 13).

This passage talks about how the soldiers including Paul Baummer show love to their country and want to help, but they also give to know that "why them?" Why do people talk and say how much they love their country and yet aren not out there in the war helping out. "He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come" (Remarque 296). This suffering shows that war is an experience, a difficult thing and that one cannot talk about, unless they themselves have experienced it. Paul Baummer lost many people, all of his friends, and his mother is sick with cancer and maybe dying soon. His life was good to begin with, but war destroyed it all. He may not be a real person, but we all know that this is the realism of war, and there is nothing we can do. We may think that this pain we speak of is a lot, but there is much more that has not been uncovered with the reason that it’s just too painful.

In The Book Thief, Liesel Meminger is young girl who loses her mother, her brother, and her self confidence. She soon finds out that the reason she never got to know her father is because he was a communist and nobody had heard from him ever since. Liesel, already in the begining of the book has had many tradgedies, and she is only nine. She is sent to a foster parents whose names are Hans Humbermann and Rosa Humbermann. Both of them loved her very much, and she loves them both very much also. Liesel sooner or later gives up on finding her mama, who apparently everyone had lost track of, but she never forgets her just as she will never forget her brother.

Soon, she becomes accustomed to her new home finds a new friend who’s name is Rudy Steiner, who with a little help from their friend Tommy Muller, they go on adventures stealing, and doing other mischievous things. In school she is not the best reader, but thanks to papa she learns and improves, and that’s how her love of books developed. Things were going well for Lisel; her mama and her tough love, but she knew that she loved her; her papa was the most amazing person in the world she had ever known; and her new friends were always loyal and there for her. But little did she know that more was awaiting her, and that her toubles were not over.

Soon the war beings, and it is World War II. Things are getting harder for people, her mama loses her clients (she worked ironing and washing people clothing), her papa (who to begin with didn’t have much of a job), soon loses his painting job. She soon knows that her friend Rudy Steiner has been invited to a school, where they prepare young German boys to be part of the military. Also, she finds out that there is a Jewish person to be hidden in her house whose name is Max and he too has gone through a lot of hard things just like she has in the past, and she know she must keep it a secret. But through all of this, Liesel finds comfort in reading books, and getting lost in the magical world of words.

Things get worse and worse, soon there are raids occuring in Molching (which is were Liesel home is), the Jewish man, Max, whom she had devolped a strong friendship with, leaves unexpectedly without an explaination. The only thing he had left was a note written that he appreciated their help, but did want to put the Humbermann family in more danger. "Jew parades", which is when Jewish people were taken out on walks in a nearby city, were occuring in Molching, and at this point it is hard for Liesel to watch, for she has made friendship with Max, and misses him a lot, so during this parade she looks and watches out to see if Max is in there. One side of her wants to see him, but there are only three possibilites that may happen. Max is free and is happy-- or Max has been captured and is suffering, or the third option that Liesel does not want to think about... death. It is also hard for Hans Humbermann to watch, for he feels guilty that Max has left his safe house, and is out in the cruel world of German Nazi where he is hated.

Zusak explains in detail how the Jew parades were hard for the Humbermann family. For Hans Humbermann does an amazing thing that not anyone would ever ever do, at least if you were a German. The tension and sadness of a Jewish person who is close to death is describe by Zusak . "The Jew stood before him, expecting another handful of derision, but he watched with everyone else as Hans Hubermann held his hand out and presented a piece of bread, like magic." (Zusak 304) In this scene Hans has helped out a Jew who was starving and had fallen on the ground, and the poor man has been calling out for someone to help him, but no one does, not even the rest of the Jews, they just stomp and trample over him. But then Hans could not handle or resist and goes out to help the Jew.

At this point Liesel is crying and then notices a soilder coming to the scene; now she feels Rudy holding her hand and giving a sympathy look. While Rudy is dong this Leisel is just waiting to see Hans suffer likes Zusak decribes. "The Jew was whipped six times. On his back, his head, and his legs. 'You filth! You swine!' Blood dripped now from his ear. Then it was Papa’s turn... The sound sickened her and she expected cracks to appear on her papa’s body. He was struck four times before he,too hit the ground." (Zusak 304) This scene shows that the Geman Nazi was serious about helping Jewish people, and it shows that none of it would be taken. That’s when Liesel, realized the dangerous it was for them in the past to keep Max.

Soon everything keeps falling down, her papa has been drafted to war, as well as Rudy’s father. She still hasn’t found Max, Rudy is not the same anymore, he dosen’t talk or smile much. Her mama is not he same tough loving mama, she’s quiet and every night grabs her husband’s accordian and cries. Everything is going awful and not according to the life plan Liesel intended to have in the begining.

Soon Rudy and Liesel start to hate the Fuhrer, which at this point is Hitler, and they turn and rebel against their German society:
"Where are you going?"
"Isn’t obvious?"
She stuggled to keep up. "Well, to tell you the truth -- not really."
"I’m going to find him."
"Your papa?"
"Yes." He thought about it. "Actually no. I think I’m going to find the Fuhrer instead."
Faster footsteps. "Why?"
Rudy stopped. "Because I want to kill him" (Zusak 425).

In this quotation, Rudy is upset because his father has been drafted and wants to kill the Fuhuer. He believes that it’s unfair that his father has to pay the price for not letting Rudy go to a school to be trained to be in the army. This shows the stong feeling a child has had in the war, and how they soon realized that life is not always just fun or rainbows.
Soon, Max is found, Liesel was watching a Jew parade, and as always she was looking for Max, in this scene Max and her break out in tears not knowing what to do, and Liesel does get punish the same way her father did and so does Max. And that is the last she saw of him for a long while.

Things apparently do get better for Liesel. Hans has broken his leg and is allowed to go back home. Rosa and Liesel are happy, but the Steiner family try as hard as they can, but they can’t help thinking why Hans, why not Alex (husband and father of the Steiner family). Soon, after all this happens, Liesel is upset about the whole Max incident and can not stand the guilt and suffering any longer, and decides to tell Rudy about it.

Soon, months have passed and things get from good to bad to worse, there are more raids occuring, and life is just sad. One good thing does happen, the mayor’s wife, one that Liesel considers a friend gives her a book, an empty one. She had told her that since Liesel had so much passion for reading, then maybe she should try writing herself. Liesel cherishes the book, and begins to write. She actually decides to write in the basement, where Max use to write himself. She was dedicated to it, and would sometimes fall asleep in the basement itself. Then, one day, it was late in the night, and Liesel decided to write. She was almost finished with the book, she called it the Book Thief, and she was extremely proud of herself. ``*Book Thief—last line* I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.’’ So, she difted off to sleep.

The sirens were loud, but it was too late by then, the raid had begun, bombs falling on Himmel street, people not screaming, because they were asleep. It was too late by then, carefully death picked them up and took them to another place, this inclueded the Steiner family, which was Rudy, also Tommy Muller, and sadly Rosa and Hans Hubermann. The only hope was Liesel, for when the bombs drop, she was in the basement writing, and had saved herself.

The men tried picking her up and taking her to saftey after they found her in the ruins of Himmel St. All of a sudden she stumbles and tries to get out of their arms, they let her go. She starts screaming and yelling for her papa, then she notices, a boy with hair the color of Lemons. She runs to him and realizes that it’s Rudy, her best friend, her crush she had for many years. He is dead, and she is distraught, she tries kissing him knowing that he is not feeling it. Next, she discovers the bodies of her Papa and Mama.

First she goes up to her Mama and holds her hand, ``Remember when I came here, Mama? I clung to the gate and cried. Do you remember what you said to everyone in the street that day?... Did you know I saw you with Papa’s accordian? She tighten her grip on the hardening hand. ``I came and watched and you were beautiful, you were so beautiful Mama.’’ Next her Papa, she would not, she just could not look at Papa, not at that moment.

Papa was everything to Liesel he was the one that sat in the washroom with her, the one who taught her how to roll a cigarette. He was the one who gave bread to that poor dying Jewish man. He was the one who encouraged Liesel to keep reading and to follow her dream, and to read in the bomb shelter. If it weren’t for him, she might not have not been writing in the basement, and would have died herself. Papa was the person who Liesel loved the most, he was her home. "that as she knelt next to Hans Hubermann, she watched him stand and play the accordion. He stood and strapped it on in the alps of broken houses and played the accordion with kindness silver eyes and even a cigarette slouched on his lips. He even made a mistake and laughed in lovely hindsight. The bellows breathed and the tall man played for Liesel Meminger one last time as the sky was slowly taken from the stove. Keep playing, Papa. Papa stopped. He dropped the accordion and his silver eyes continued to rust. There was only a body now, on the ground’’ (Zusak 538).

In this quote Zusak describes that Liesel is having flashbacks of the past. Flashbacks, that remind her of good times she had with her family. This is a sad moment, for she is imagining her Papa playing for her, and all of a sudden he stops, for he is dead.

War is a hard thing, and it is not a person’s choice to have it. The leaders of our world sometimes don’t think about others, such as the individual soldiers and individual families. For example, in this case the family of a small girl named Liesel who not only suffered her own problems, but others. Paul Baummer was just as brave as Liesel still both of them young people trying to survive the war.

Liesel was a girl whose self confidence was terrible, and later on it grew thanks to her amazing faster family and even though they had left her; she knew what they would have wanted her to do, and it was to keep going for her dreams and keep her self confidence. In the case of Paul Baummer, he was the opposite, his confidence was high, a little too high, and he trusted himself with many things, including the war. He had everything he could ever want, but he wanted more, he wanted to be famous and become a hero. And when this happens the war affects him. His confidence decreases until he can’t handle it any longer.

Another similarity is that Paul Baummer had everything he wanted; he went to school, had a great education, and had a family. And he longed for more and more. Liesel on the other hand, did not. She did not go to school and in fact she was an awful reader, her birth family had left her, and she longed for more, but she longed for love. That’s when Liesel starts to steal books and learns how to read. And above all of that her foster family is amazing. Liesel does become greedy. And wants more and more. Until, they both realize that they will both lose one of their most valuable possessions, their family.

Mentally, I think that Liesel and Paul were quite equal, they were not young, and physically they were. They both had seen someone die in front of them. They both knew what it felt like to lose more than just one beloved one. They knew what as reality and what was make believe. They cannot be tricked, not even by death. Sooner or later death does meet them, Paul dies in the war, while Liesel survives and dies of old age. Their souls were ready, and sitting up for death to come. And they both finally found relief and calmness.

Remarque, Erich Maria . All Quiet on the Western Front . Berlin: A. G. Ullstein in Germany; Little, Brown in the United States, 1928.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Halo Wars: A Review By Conan S.

Halo Wars is a real time strategy game (RTS) and a prequel to the bestselling Xbox 360 Trilogy, Halo. It takes place on Harvest, after the Covenant has recently taken control of the planet. You and your crew have arrived at Harvest on the Spirit of Fire with the intention of liberating the conquered planet.

When you start the game you are given control of Sergeant Forge, and must liberate a base to start your campaign. From there, you will need to create UNSC forces. There are many new military units, along with classic ones from the trilogy. There are many ways to play it. You can make a heavily armed army, with tanks and other heavy vehicles, but smaller; or you can produce a lighter armed army, with smaller units, but an extremely large and robust one. By the end of the game you could have hundreds of small units or 50 or so heavily armed tanks rolling across the plains of Harvest. You can also do a mixed army with several tanks and a hundred or so smaller units.

I personally do not like RTS’s that much. However, I thought this was an excellent game. The thing I dislike about the everyday RTS is the need to constantly find resources which takes up most of your play time. With Halo Wars, however, all you have to do is build a couple of supply pads on your base and you don’t have to worry. Halo Wars focuses mostly on the military strategy of the game and the action part, very little of your time will be spent trying to get supplies. Most of it will be spent constructing your army and moving them across the land to confront the enemy. I was also worried about the controls. The Xbox 360 controller does not give much room for RTS’s, but just like the old saying goes, a little goes a long way. They were able to make the controls very simple and efficient, but effective at the same time. There aren’t any tricky controls or complicated combinations you need; most of it is done through pressing a single button.

The Multiplayer is especially fun. If you have Xbox Live, you will spend hours trying to outwit your friends and conquer their bases. You can also do co-operative play with your friends. So you can challenge the Covenant together.

To conclude, this is a great game. No matter who you are you will love it, whether you like first person shooters or regular RTS’s. You should at least try it once. This game definitely lives up to its expectations and the greatness of the Halo Trilogy, along with giving you some background on the trilogy.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Microsoft's Left 4 Dead review by Jose D.

Left 4 Dead…

Where to begin?

Left 4 Dead is an action packed survival horror game created by ValveE designer Mike Booth co-designer of both the Counter Strike series for ValveE.

This game takes place in an zombie apocalyptic setting based around 4 different scenarios all created with their certain bonuses and perks; and while the source of the zombie outbreak is never revealed, the intro scene does state that it is “2 weeks” after the infection began.

You chose from one of the four survivors
Bill -A Vietnam War veteran
Zoey-A horror movie fanatic
Francis-Your typical hardcore biker
Louis-A computer salesman

And on team infected are
Hunter-Agile, quick dangerously vicious infected, these attack with a vicious pounce and slash secondary attack
Boomer-A morbid obese infected who can draw the horde on specific individuals via vomit…Yes vomit, secondary attack being that of a punch
Smoker-Tall, slim smog induced infected with the ability to pull survivors from a distance using his tongue (which is very long) either strangling them, or bringing them in for a beat down, secondary attack being slash
Tank- A large, very muscular infected resembling the incredible hulk, minus the green. This large monster has the ability to punch with the grace of a thousand rhino’s and the power to life chunks of concrete off the ground before…launching it at you

All of these characters are playable.
The Witch-This beautiful infected does absolutely nothing. She usually is found in random spots on her knees crying…yes crying. She is completely harmless unless you bother her. Things that bother her are loud sounds, gunshots, screams and the almighty flashlight. If you mess and annoy her, she WILL kill you. No doubt about it.

Now, you begin the game by first selecting one of the four scenario/campaigns. Where the main point of each is to make it from safe room A to safe room B and so forth, safety with as many survivors as possible, all leading to the final scenario where you must hold up a base and await for extraction.

These are the four scenarios currently available.

-No Mercy: An urban setting taken place in a city, subway, sewers and hospital.

-Blood Harvest: A country/farm like setting where you must make your way to extraction via Military Evacuation.

-Dead Air: A scenario taking place in an airport setting where you must navigate your way through a traverse airport whilst defending yourself against the zombie horde.

-Death Toll: The survivors are once again brought out of there big safe room and thrown into highways, forests and a small town where evacuation is that of boat extraction.

These are the current available scenario/campaigns available at launch, more scenarios and infected, perhaps even more survivors will be released with the expansion of DLC (Downloadable Content) being released whenever ValveE feels necessary. (Hopefully in the near future)

Overall this action packed game is well worth the $50 offering very high replay. You will be playing this game, over, and over again. I personally, cannot stop playing it. I highly recommend this game to any avid first person shooter, horror, survival zombie fanatic.


Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound Review by Becca L.

How dare she!?! She is supposed to be with Rosto! ROS. TO. Not this "Dale" person. I don't care if I'm giving things away, I am angry. Serves her right. Serves. Her. Right. What serves her right, you ask? Sorry, my judgement-clouding anger has abated. I will give no more away!

Beka is back, and and, to be horribly cliche, better than ever. Though she is taken from her dear Corus (and Rosto. ROSTO.), she continues to fight for truth, justice, and the Tortallan way. And now she has a doggie! As anybody who is anybody knows, Tamora Pierce was at our dear Martin Library this summer and read an excerpt from her latest book, Bloodhound. Beka is undercover chasing down colemongers with the help of Goodwin and a rather silly hound named Atchoo in Port Caynn. Cool people will recognize Port Caynn as being close to Pirate's Swoop, Allanna's home with Beka's decendent, George.

Everyone, and by everyone i really do mean everyone, must read this book. But wait, I hear you say. I thought you were angry. Thank you for paying attention, dear reader. Yes. I am angry. I am infuriated. I want Tamora Pierce to die, and then come immediately back to life because I love her and I'm sorry for saying such horrible things. It is my anger that should clue you in to the sheer awesome contained within this book. I want to slap Beka. She isn't real, but I still want to slap her. Only a truly amazing read causes such emotion toward a character and an author.

Run, do not walk, to your nearest time machine, go to April, buy this book, read it, shred it in fury, buy another one, shred it in despair, buy one more, and don't you dare hurt this one! Do you have any idea how many trees you people have killed? But you told me to, I hear that same observant voice say. I want to throttle a fictional character. I am clearly not to be trusted. Now shoo. You have some sad and lonely waiting to do until April.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Allan Moore's V for Vendetta review by Jesse B.

A young girl is pressed against a wall by a group of policemen who ready themselves for raping and subsequently murdering her. Suddenly, a cloaked figure wearing a smiling mask approaches, quoting Macbeth. The man releases a stream of tear gas and drops off a bomb as a souvenir. He grabs the girl and carries her to safety on the city rooftops. Together they watch as the Houses of Parliament are bombed to the ground. Fireworks follow.

So begins the stunning graphic novel V for Vendetta, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd. In a post-nuclear war England, a Neonazi group comes into power and establishes a totalitarian empire. All minority groups are sent to "relocation camps" and are systematically exterminated.

Enter "V", a revolutionary bearing a Guy Fawkes mask who devotes himself to the principles of anarchy and aims to destroy the current government and its institutions. V saves the life of Evey Hammond, a sixteen-year-old orphan, and shelters her in his "Shadow Gallery". He grants the girl access to all of the cultural knowledge forbidden by national law. Evey wonders at all of this, but most of all wonders at the mystery of the man behind the mask.

A brilliant analysis of modern society and a disheartening picture of a potential future, V for Vendetta is of a surety one of the greatest graphic novels one will ever read. But if the above material did not impress this upon the reader, let it now be made plain: This novel is not for the faint of heart. Murder, rape and genocide are but a sampling of the heavy topics touched upon by Lloyd and Moore. V for Vendetta is not your standard comic book fare, as the majority of the novel focuses on philosophy, sociology and politics. If one undertakes the reading of this novel, that person should be prepared to experience both disgust and elation. One must remember, "England prevails."

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