nonfiction

Bullying Under Attack, edited by John Meyer

Bullying Under Attack

edited by: john meyer

pages : [paperback] 264

summary :

WORDS ARE POWERFUL- they can inflict damage and they can heal. In this anthology of first-person accounts written by teenagers for both their peers and adults, words transform pain into hope and the possibility for change.
“Bullying” “Under Attack “is an eye-opening anthology of all three players in the bullying cycle. These conversational essays on life as the bullied, the bully, and the bystander provide insight and inspiration for change. Rather than offer a cumbersome psychological breakdown, this graceful and hard-hitting book places the reader firmly in the shoes of all involved.
The stories written by The Bullied explain the subtleties and agony of harassment, helping readers understand that there is more to unkind words and behavior than “just joking around.” Although many of these teens have suffered through harassment by their peers, their essays are both empowering and inspiring. By exploring the essays by The Bullies, readers will discover that the bullies are often times incorrectly labled as bad kids, but many are simply trying to fit in, despite their own insecurities and fears. While these bullies may still have their own seemingly insurmountable obstacles at home, they share their experiences and insights hoping to manage and reforming other bullies. The section voiced by The Bystander shares tales of those who have regrettably watched and those who have stepped up to help others. Here, readers will find the inspiration to speak out rather than just standing by while others are emotionally harmed.
Whether due to race, weight, or jealousy, there are a myriad of reasons “WHY.” Included in this startling compendium of personal stories that convey the complexity and nuances of what it means to be bullied, are stories of regret, promises, and encouragement that will help readers find solace during their teen years and show them how as adults their words and actions can provide strength and reassurance to others experiencing all aspects of bullying. Ultimately, they will learn to find their voices in order to break the cycle for good.

review :

Bullying is something I think everyone experiences in some form throughout their education and during life in general. Whether you’re a victim, bystander, or bully, you’re trapped in this system that needs to be rooted out of life. In Bullying Under Attack there are essays from all three sides of the situation. It’s devastating to hear what these victims went through and how they survived and were changed forever by their experiences. Hearing what bullies have to say about their past can be enlightening as well as troubling. And sometimes it seems like bystanders can really be the worst parts of the equation, never stepping up to give the victim the helping hand they need and deserve.

This collection really touched home and was important to me. I think anyone reading it can gain a better perspective of what it’s like to live through this. No matter which aspect of the collection you relate to, I hope that every reader comes out of this book with the conviction that something more needs to be done and bullying needs to be stopped, now.

I really liked how some of these essays addressed cyber bullying as well because I think that aspect of harassment has picked up so much lately and school rules as well as laws have not moved along fast enough to address this tool used by bullies to harm others nearly 24/7. The way that people bully is evolving and people need to evolve alongside it to stay one step ahead, help the kids who need it and encourage those who stand there and ignore what’s happening to speak up and make a difference.

I think that anyone can read this collection and gain something from it, whether you think you’ve never witnessed bullying or you’ve experienced it yourself. I know this is an important issue and I feel like it can never be addressed enough, not until there are no students afraid to go to school and no bullies looking for their next victim.

4/5 stars

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life posts

Reading for School

Reading? Not for fun? For school?!

Don’t worry. It’ll be okay . . . Probably.

As an English major I’m always trying to find a way to enjoy what I’m being forced to read. Just saying that makes it sound horrible. Forced reading. But, really, if I decide not to do it then I’ll probably fail some quiz, test, or essay, and where’ll that leave me? Well, not as an English major anymore.

Besides, if all of this stuff is supposed to be great, so good that it’s being read all across the world (or at least, presumably, to let me get a job in the future) I think that I should be able to enjoy some of it. What is it that makes this literature so different from what I choose to read on my free time?

For one, everything I decide to read myself is a lot easier to digest. More of the great literature of our generation won’t be read in classes until far into the future. Everything I’m reading now, from the Odyssey to Shakespeare to The Great Gatsby, is a little old. Sure, the Great Gatsby has nothing on the Odyssey, and all of these books have themes and ideas that we can still relate to in modern times. But the language they’re written under, what makes them so lasting and powerful, can be a lot to trudge through when you’re under a time constraint.

I think I’d be able to enjoy these a lot more if I got to pick them up on my own and discover them that way, with as many days or weeks or months as I needed to read and enjoy them. Maybe it’d take me a month to get through one of the classics and two days to get through a Percy Jackson book.

That said, I haven’t hated all of the books I’ve been forced to read. I’ve found a few I know I’ll love forever. Pride and Prejudice, which I never really expected to like, is now one of my top books. Which also goes to show that maybe required reading is good because it pushes you out of your comfort zo

ne as a reader and lets you discover new (well, old) things.

Uncategorized

How to Find Time to Read During the School Year

Hey guys! I don’t know about all of you but I started school a few weeks ago and I’ve only finished one book in that time. For me, that’s not saying a lot, so I’ve been trying to get creative in making sure that I’m taking the time to get my literary fix. I don’t want to take time and feel guilty, thinking I should be studying or socializing instead. I think that this is a problem with most people when school comes around again, especially if they’re in college or university. After a summer of having all the time in the world to read, I’ve come up with a few ideas of how to get yourself some extra reading time during the day.

1. Get to class early.
Alright, you might not want to or have the time but I like to get to my classes with time to spare so I won’t need to rush myself. Plus, that means I get to pick out the best seat in the classroom for myself and won’t need to worry about sitting right next to the professor. It’ll give you something great to think about if class begins while you’re at a good part. Sure, you’ll want to read more, but you can think about what happens next if your professor drones on about nothing important.

2. Go outside.

Fresh air, no internet. No distractions if you only bring that book with you. Maybe go out with a friend and have reading time together!

Yes, you probably should . . for a little while. You’ll appreciate it more when you get it back!

3. Right before you go to sleep.

Especially if you’ve been doing homework, watching TV, or using the computer. Honestly, it helps you go to sleep faster, even if you choose to read one chapter only or take ten minutes to get a few pages in. It’ll calm you down (usually-some fight scenes are intense!), give you something to ponder instead of exactly how many hours of sleep you’ll have if you go to bed right then,

4. In the morning before classes start.

This is also one that might make you wake up a little earlier but I think it works out well for me! I can read while I eat breakfast and have a few calm moments to myself before I start the day. No computer, homework finished, and a good book to read. And if you take all of this time to read, chances are you’ll get hooked and start finding excuses to read it all the time!

5. If you’re going to read during the school year, you have to be stubborn.

I think that’s about all of it, really. If you aren’t passionate about reading you won’t want to pick up a book for fun after reading textbooks, articles, and classic books for class. I’m an English major so, yes, I already spend most of my time reading and writing. But I still like to take my free time and make sure that I’m having fun with it. For me, that means books I’ve been looking forward to for ages!

Do you have other things you like to do during the year to get in the things you love doing? Tell me in the comments below!

5 stars · action · fiction · horror · series · young adult

Quarantine: The Saints by Lex Thomas

Quarantine: The Saints

Quarantine #2
Book 1: The Loners

author : lex thomas

pages : [hardcover] 400

favorite characters : will & violent

summary :

A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be.

Nothing was worse than being locked in—until they opened the door…
McKinley High has been a battle ground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.

As a new group of teens enters the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hookup and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soom after though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.
The Saints brings readers back to the dark and deadly halls of McKinley High and the QUARANTINE series.

review:

I read the first book in this series a little over  a year and a half ago. I remember sitting there after I finished it, devastated by how long I would need to wait to get my hands on the next book. Quarantine: The Saints has similarly ruined me. There isn’t even a set release date for book three yet! The way that this one ended, I really don’t know how I’m going to be able to stand the wait. I love this series so much!

First of all, the characters in this series aren’t always loveable but they’re well-written. I never really liked Lucy, especially because of how she led on both David and Will and always seemed to be spending time feeling sorry for herself. And then this book happened. I’m not going to spoil anything specific but she turns into a real badass that made me like her so much more. Although I hate how everyone in the school has turned savage because of being trapped in there with each other, I think she really did need to grow up a little and learn how to handle things on her own. She isn’t the weak link anymore and she knows it.

Will. I’ve always liked him, even when he was stupid, which does tend to happen a lot for him. It’s genuinely scary reading about the horrible things that are happening to the kids in this school, all because they’re tearing each other apart. If they all got along and calmed down and split up the drops evenly, things might have been better for all of them, yet right from the start nobody even considered that and it turned to absolute mayhem. This is even worse for Will because he’s epileptic and now doesn’t have the medication to stop his seizures. He’s trying hard to be strong and brave when his own body could betray him at any moment.

Now that there’s a group of new characters to contend with, I didn’t really know what to think of them for about the first half of the book, though something about it didn’t sit right with me. They all kept to themselves and formed their own gang but until the reader is given an insight into their lifestyle and what their leader is really like, they’re mysterious. And then it gets ugly, really fast. Because Sam, the main antagonist in book one and the guy who ruled the school, isn’t the only guy to watch out for now.

I loved, loved, loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want to! There are so many different elements to it and I can’t wait to see where it goes in book three because there are so many things that could happen!

5/5 stars

If you love this book, you might also like This is Not a Test or The Hunger Games

4 stars · classic · Fantasy · fiction

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Author:  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Pages: [hardcover] 150

memorable quote:
When I wake up,” he said, “remind me that I’m going to marry her.”

summary:

A mysterious and haunting tale of romance and murder, that begins with the marriage of a man and a woman in love. But when he inexplicably mistreats his beloved on the night of the wedding, he is in turn murdered by her brothers, and we are left with a strange sense of inevitability and passions gone terribly awry.

review:

I was reluctant to start this one-even if I was being forced to read it for an assignment-because, really, how much can you do with a tiny little story like this where you know before you begin that Santiago dies? Well, a lot, apparently, because I ended up devouring it in a few hours and loving it immensely. It’s written like a long newspaper article, with the narrator referring to investigations, personal witness accounts, his own experiences, and adding whatever details come his way. And the whole mystery of it is entirely captivating. Did he or didn’t he do it?

The setting and culture were greatly described both with the plot and with the characters. I loved that it was so different from how different things are here and now. In the story, women have less rights, men have different responsibilities, there are obligations of religion and honor. Of course I don’t agree with half of what went on and it annoyed me, as a person, but I was able to become fully immersed in the action and see things from their perspective.

I didn’t like how everything was so jumbled; it would have been nice to get the information in a more convenient order, chronological or by way of the person being questioned. While this method did add to the intrigue and really had me working to think it over, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I could spend less time pondering the intricacies of how it was made up.

I recommend this book for people who like puzzles, only have a short amount of time for reading or who like fast and short reads, or who enjoy elaborate settings and don’t need much action within the plot. I give Chronicle of a Death Foretold 4/5 stars. While some points of it frustrated me, I really enjoyed it overall, and will definitely come to read it again!

4 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

So Much Closer

Author: Susane Colasanti

Pages [paperback]: 241

memorable quote:
It’s unbelievable how you can affect someone else so deeply and never know.

favorite characters: jack & sadie

summary:

When Brooke’s crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner…

review:

Why, why why did it take me so long to start reading books by Susane Colasanti? I’ve had so many people recommend them to me, and just kept pushing it off. Now I regret that, because although I didn’t agree with some of the things the main character, Brooke, did, the writing style was absolutely captivating and pulled me right in.

The plot was simple, but frustrating. What sane person would move just to possibly be a little closer to a boy you say you love but who you’ve actually talked to twice? Uh, no one. I can understand gigantic life chances for someone closer, but . . . This. It was repaired, significantly, by Brooke’s insistence that she would have moved there anyway, because she’s always wanted to live in the city. This was just what pushed her over the edge. If there wasn’t that reassurance, I’m not sure if I would have gone through with this . . . Which would be really disappointing, because I enjoyed the book besides Brooke’s crooked sense of logic.

I flew through this book. It’s not too long, but that’s not the only reason why. As I said before, the writing style was really something I could get into. Not that I want to keep comparing Colasanti to Sarah Dessen-because I’ve heard so many people make that comparison before-but it’s true. They can both capture unique young adult voices that, thrown into what could potentially be bland plotting, still catch my attention and refuse to let go, even after the book is finished.

Because I usually read fantasy or other genres that aren’t sticking plainly to reality (because, really, I get enough of that already), it can take me a lot to like a book in this vein of writing. Which might not be fair to some great authors out there, but it really makes me stand behind the fantastic ones I come across. Susane Colasanti is one of those, and I can’t wait to pick up another of her books. (Hopefully with a better premise. Must read summary before buying.)

RADICALLY ROMANTIC. 4/5 stars

4 stars · Fantasy · fiction · history · romance · series · young adult

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray



A Great and Terrible Beauty

Author: Libba Bray

Pages [hardcover]: 403

Memorable Quote: “How can my ankles and arms be obscene?”

Favorite Characters: Pippa and her knight, Reginald

Summary:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

Review:

 I didn’t expect to like this book. It started very slow for me, with several attempts at starting it, setting it aside, and then starting over once again. Finally, I convinced myself to read it, and once I was about a third of the way through, I began to like it, though there were a few things that hindered my enjoyment.

Gemma wants to make friends. In that respect, she’s exactly like any other teen girl. But she complains about how Ann immediately abandons her whenever it looks like it will make her more popular. A few chapters later she’s willing to do anything to keep the friends she’s managed to make, despite not actually wanting to participate. She’s a hypocrite, but then again, many people are. This irked me, and made me dislike her, because combined with her selfish attitude, she seemed exactly like the people she did not like.

I did think the supporting characters were wonderfully defined, and raised the plot immensely. Kartik was delightfully mysterious, though sometimes it seemed forced, and Pippa was the group’s romantic, though air-headed member. Even the teachers, so often neglected in young adult novels, had personalities and lives of their own.

While it isn’t one of the best books I’ve read, the plot of A Great and Terrible Beauty was unique and gripping. I kept wanting to see what would happen next-if the danger level would rise-but perhaps the great event I’ve been looking forward to happening will occur in the next book. I’ll definitely have to get that, and read more of Gemma’s journey of discovering herself.

I give A Great and Terrible Beauty 4/5 stars. Recommended for those who like historical fiction with fantasy thrown in.