Monthly Archives: May 2012

Film Greats: Bette Davis

 Bette Davis, one of the finest actresses of the 20th century, was best known for her distinctive looks (especially those eyes) and her particular way of speaking. She was endlessly imitated but never replicated. Her career spanned many decades. She worked in bit parts from a very young age and was still working in films the day she died. Acting was her life, and many of her films bear watching.

Continue reading

Book Shorts: Crossed


Title:  Crossed

Author: Ally Condie

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassia sacrifices everything and heads to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky, where she is confronted with shocking revelations about Society and the promise of rebellion.

I started reading it because… I loved the first book of this trilogy.

I kept reading because… I couldn’t put it down – I’m a sucker for action, fantasy, romance and adventure. I stayed up til 2 a.m. just reading and reading.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To:  Hmm, she’s probably be considered the good girl/brainiac at first and then after the first book the rebel.

Six Word Recap:  Two teens in love reject the Society.

This book reminded me a little bit of Divergent but while the main character is stubborn and determined she does it in a quieter way. She’s not so much a fighter but a thinker who works around the system in her own way.

Websites of interest:  Allie Condie’s website

Funion: A Diet that Works

Mmm, hamburger--the perfect weight loss food

Mmm, hamburger--the perfect weight loss food

Other diets and pills aren’t working for you? Tired of doctor’s promises that never come true? Want to lose weight but don’t want to put down those chocolate bars? Continue reading

Book Shorts: Wither

 Title: Wither

 Author: Lauren DeStefano

Summary: After modern science turns every human into a genetic time bomb with men dying at age twenty-five and women dying at age twenty, girls are kidnapped and married off in order to repopulate the world.

I started reading it because… of the cover!–and the creepy premise of a future where girls die at 20 and boys at 25.

I kept reading because… the romance.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To: Rhine would be voted Most Likely To fall in love in a mansion/prison.

Six Word Recap: No girl escapes the Chemical Garden.

This book reminded me of how it is to have mixed felings–because Rhine is very conflicted about her situation.

Websites of interest:book trailer

The Delicate Art of Memoir

 I must confess that I have an undying love for fiction; indeed, some of my happiest memories are of rainy weekends spent inside with a novel and a cup of tea or cocoa. But whenever I sit down to write, what comes most naturally is personal reflection – try as I might, I cannot create another world. Perhaps it is this ease that explains my other literary love: memoir. There is nothing like reading about someone else’s personal journey to self-discovery; it is at once inspiring and rewarding. Some of the best memoirs, I find, are those written by people with no particular claim to fame, people just like you and me who happened to find the time and the desire to tell their stories. They seem somehow more realistic than the celebrities who deign to give us the everyday details of their lives. Continue reading

Book Shorts: Little Brother

 Title: Little Brother

Author: Cory Doctorow

Summary: After being interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security after a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, Marcus is released into what is now a police state and uses his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

I started reading it because… Cory Doctorow is so interesting on the blog Boing Boing, I wanted to see if he could write fiction as well.

I kept reading because… I liked the idea of ARG (Alternate Reality Gaming) and I had to find out what happened after the main character and his friends were picked up by Homeland Security.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To: break out of prison.

Six Word Recap: Misguided government bullies and loses face.

This book reminded me of 1984 because… there are thematic links, and for the really perceptive reader, some neat references to the original dystopian novel.

Websites of interest: Cory Doctorow’s spot at Boing Boing

Teen Review: The Adventure of the Red-Headed League

 The Adventure of the Red-Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The second short story in the anthology The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is mostly dialogue-driven. The Red-Headed League is another hilarious story revolving around the quick wit of Sherlock Holmes as described by his ever-loyal companion Dr. John Watson. This story is by far the most outrageous I’ve read in the series so far but it nonetheless excellently written. Continue reading

Test Season

Once again, we have reached that oh-so-special time of the year, of spring, and sun, and flowers, and not getting to enjoy any of it because we’re stuck inside studying for exams. AP, IB, SAT, ACT, SAT,  Subject tests . . .  all conspiring against us ever having any time to ourselves to enjoy the wonderfully dreary and wet springtime for which our city is famous. This is my set of suggestions for surving exam month. Continue reading

Book Shorts: Ship Breaker

 Title: Ship Breaker

 Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

 Summary: In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

I started reading it because… I love post-apocalyptic fiction.

I kept reading because… it is excellently written, has great world building and character development and a detailed (you get transported there) setting. But it is not only about the writing, it is also a nuanced, fast-paced adventure where basic survival is nearly impossible for most people. It is a bleak and very realistic multi-ethnic, 2 class, environmentally ruined, violent future North America society, and yet some hope and humanity remains.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To: still have humanity while starving

Six Word Recap: Murder shipwreck survivor to save myself?

This book reminded me of The Hunger Games, The Road, Life as We Knew It, Ashes Ashes, Rot and Ruin, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, etc.

Some more info: This book won The Printz Award, and The National Book Award. The sequel, The Drowned Cities is out now.

Homework Help: The Khan Academy

THE BEST outside-of-school learning source.

Having trouble with your math, or don’t get your chemistry homework?
With over 3000 videos on a virtual chalkboard, the only thing you need
to get an A+ in school is The Khan Academy. Ranging from simple
addition to physics or history, this is the way to do it.

Sal Khan started the Academy with one goal in mind,  “providing a high
quality education to anyone, anywhere.”  The Khan Academy lectures are free and always will be.  Salman Khan believes that he knows a better way of teaching.  Instead of the teacher giving a lecture in class and you doing homework at your homes, he thinks it should be switched.
Sal Khan thinks that at home you need to watch a lecture or video
about what you are doing the next day.  Then, in class you should
practice what you learned, and your teacher can help you with the

I first stumbled upon him when my math teacher showed us some of his
videos (she somehow found time in between flippycat videos, which are
very good also). We were learning how to multiply binomials (which I already knew how to do), but judging by the general consensus of the class, he can explain it better than my teacher.  He originally started by posting the videos on YouTube for his niece, but once Bill Gates’ children started using it, the Khan academy evolved into a huge non-profit company dedicated to learning.

With this, you will never go to school with a dumbfounded expression
on your face.  He will help you stay on top of all your work and help
you get the grade you want.

–Post by Brock, teen blogger, Northeast TAG