Welcome to the Slant, where you'll find reviews and original writings by the members of Martin Library's Teen Advisory Board.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review of Jason Reitmans' Juno By Jocelyn H.

After one time, Juno MacGuff becomes pregnant with the child of her best friend, Paulie Bleeker. However, Juno and Bleeker aren’t dating and they definitely don’t plan on raising a kid. So Juno decides to get an abortion without even telling her parents. Juno couldn’t go through with the abortion and told her parents and she decides to resort to adoption. The adoptive family is Vanessa and Mark Loring, but there then become issues with that too. And of course what happens to Paulie Bleeker and Juno’s friendship. Juno is an amazing movie! It really is, Juno (the character) is very unique and awesome and I think that’s why people took to her so quickly! It’s very unique and now the whole amazingness of the movie will probably be lost because more people will want to steal this idea! I give Juno 9.3 out of 10!!!!

Review of Jim Hensons' Labyrinth by Joselyn H.

Sarah is a fifteen year old still trying to live her live in a fairytale. She’s very misunderstood by her wicked stepmother and her father. It gets even worse she’s always stuck home babysitting her baby half brother Toby! Toby continuously cried and would not stop, driving Sarah insane! Sarah calls on the goblins, characters from her favorite book, to take Toby away…but it actually worked. When Sarah realizes what she’d done she meets with the Goblin King. The Goblin King took Toby to his Castle in The UnderGround. Sarah is more determined than The Goblin King would think to get her baby brother back. But she only has thirteen hours to try to find the castle and rescue her brother before he’s turned into a Goblin himself and the only way to get to the castle is by solving the labyrinth that surrounds it! Plus, there are many traps and enemies along the way!

I love this movie so much! It’s very long but it’s very worth it. Sarah’s a bit of a spoiled brat, but it’s ok! This is an amazing movie and its by Jim Henson! Some parts are very weird but that only adds to awesome! In conclusion, I wish the Goblins would come and take me away right now!!!!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sweeney Todd: A Review by Jocelyn H.

Benjamin Barker Returned to London as Sweeny Todd for one mane reason, to get revenge on Judge Turpin. Judge Turpin transported Barker for life and stole his wife.

Barker moves back to London as Todd into his apartment above Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop where she sells the worst pies in London due to her inability to pay for meat! After learning about his wife’s death Todd is more determined than ever to get revenge on the Judge.

After killing someone who recognized him as Benjamin Barker, Sweeny Todd and Mrs. Lovett contemplated what to do with the body. Then they came up with the brilliant idea that Todd will slit the throats of every man who comes for a shave and Mrs. Lovett will use the meat from the corpses for meat pies!

Sweeny Todd is a very strange & twisted movie. Tim Burton did wonders to that=2 0musical! Johnny Depp is a pretty good singer too! I admit, towards the end I was disappointed. But Tim Burton redeemed himself 30 seconds later! If you are touchy about the subject of cannibalism then this is not the movie for you. The gore and blood isn’t that bad but it is something to take note of! This movie was made for the sick and strange! I give it 8 out of 10.

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Sarah Dessen's "This Lullaby" Review by Alexis M.

Remy doesn’t believe in love, at all. Every relationship she has, she knows to end right after that initial romantic rush, before things get too serious. Plus, she has a very useful resource… her own mother. She’s been married 4 times and is in the process of wedding number five. However, when she meets Dexter, things change.

Suddenly Remy finds it hard to follow her own relationship rules. He’s everything she hates; messy, disorganized, impulsive, and worst of all, a musician like her father. Remy never knew her dad. The only connection they have is his one and only famous song, “This Lullaby”, that he wrote the day she was born. Dealing with her relationship with Dexter, she finally starts to realize what all those love songs are about.

“This Lullaby” was incredible. I totally loved it and didn’t want to stop reading. The connection between Remy and her friends alone is over powering. Let alone her and Dexter. Truth Squad was an interesting group as well. I definitely would like to see I sequel to see what happens after Remy goes to college and Dexter goes to pursue his music.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Penelope" Review by Jocelyn H.

Penelope (Christina Ricci) is cursed with the face of a pig!!!! Her family, The Wilherns, was a family of bluebloods. They were once used to attention from the press. They were ok with it until this attention was drawn to Penelope, Where her mother had to fake Penelope’s death to hide her! The only way she can break the curse is if one of her own kind can lover as she is… or so they think.

Determined to find someone for Penelope, her parents hire a matchmaker! They also offer an enormous dowry to any man who marries her. Unfortunately, every man who sees her face runs! One man, Edward ends up teaming up with Lemon, A newspaper photographer to get a picture of her. Where they Hire Max (James McAvoy) to get a picture of her. Max likes Penelope for who he is but he knows he can’t break the curse!
I loved Penelope! It was a very unique idea for a fairy tale and it was wonderfully done! Christina Ricci looked gorgeous even with a pig no se! 9.9 Out of 10!

If: A Poem by Anthony W.

If it snows,
can you see it?

If it rains,
can you feel it?

If leaves fall,
can you rake it?

If flowers bloom,
can you smell it?

If you never leave your house,
can you live with it?

Guitar Hero Tournament 2009 Pictures

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Final Destination 3" review by Jocelyn H.

A high school senior named Wendy goes to an amusement park with all of her friends one night. They’re about to get on a rollercoaster when Wendy has a vision of a terrible accident and They all ended up dead. So she begs them to let her off and they do. Several others follow her. However, Wendy’s boyfriend and the boy she was sitting with, Kevin, had a girlfriend remaining on the train and they did not survive. A few days after the accident, Wendy uploaded the pictures she took that night to her computer and finds clues to those who have di ed. What will happen to everyone who got off? They all are destined to die in the order they would’ve if they were on the rollercoaster. Wendy and Kevin use clues from the pictures to prevent this from happening.

I thought this movie was ok! I love roller coasters and no horror movie will ever contradict that. It ended very suddenly which made me sad. I’d give it a 5 out of 10. It was just ok. There was just something about it that made It seem very “b” rated to me. The filming quality and actors were good but something with the storyline just didn’t wow me.
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Marie Antoinette" Review by Jocelyn H.

The movie “Marie Antoinette” is modernized in a good way.It’s about the Queen of France. Marie marries Louis XVI when she’s fifteen. The king dies when she’s 19 and that’s when he and her husband come into power. Marie doesn’t hesitate to spend France’s budget on herself. Marie Antoinette spent all the money she could on clothes, shoes, trees for her garden, and most of all gambling. The movie didn’t really emphasize how much of this was really effecting France . The only time it really showed it was when there were riots outside Versailles. The movie seemed a bit slow in the begininning but as the time went on it got more and more interesting. The movie definitely emphasized the glamorous life Marie Antoinette had and I think it deserves a 8.9 out of 10 for the movie and a 10 out of 10 for the wardrobe!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Sisterhood Of the Traveling Pants 2" review by Jocelyn H.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2!

Directed by: Sanaa Hamri

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is so much easier to understand if you’ve read the books or seen the first movie. The movie has 4 main characters who each of us can relate to in some way.
First there’s Lena, the shy but beautiful artist who’s spending her summer at art school after her ex-boyfriend gets married. She ends up drawing a male model in the nude and falling in love with him!

Next, there’s Carmen, who ends up going to Yale, she’s a writer and she likes to work behind the scenes. She spends her summer attending a theater camp and ends up getting the lead role in the show!!!! On top of that she has a pregnant mom.
The 3rd girl of the foursome is Bridget, Bridget seemed sportier in the first movie but the second one shows a whole other side of her. Bridget starts her summer in Turkey on an Archeological dig. She ends up finding some old letters from her grandma and goes to visit her to find out about her past.

The last character is my favorite, Tibby! Tibby is a film student. She failed because she was supposed to write a romantic comedy and her two characters broke up. She’s miserable at her job working in a video store. Tibby’s main story in the movie is her relationship issues.

The main thing that keeps them all together over the summer is a pair of jeans. Which fit all four of them perfectly and then get stolen by Lena’s little sister. I thought the movie was ok! Some of it I thought was a bit unrealistic. Teenage girls don’t always act that way. The ending wasn’t too fabulous. Although, I wouldn’t regret watching it! The movie was probably a 7 out of 10!

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Absent Tonight: A Poem by Anthony W.

Absent Tonight – by Anthony w.

My mind is blank.
Empty as the halls
the desert,
the falls.
not a thought passes by
in a second
or on a dime.
It stays blank til the end of time

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tailed Fox vs snake by Darro C.

Coffee Corner by Darro C.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Poem: In the Belly of the Beast

by Becca L.

My breath comes only in gasps now.
“Someone help,” I whisper hopelessly, knowing that help will be long in coming.
My hands are useless, immobilized by Its deathlike grip.
I struggle, but that only seems to anger It, this dreadful embodiment of vanity and senselessness.

Someone calls my name.

“Where are you?” the voice says.
I am no longer able to answer.
With a burst of strength born of desperation, I lunge for the opening, emerging from the Beast with the sound of tearing behind me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Party 2008 Pictures

Donna Jo Napoli's The Smile Review by Alexis M.

Elisebetta is supposed to have a party for her thirteenth birthday to hopefully find a suitable husband. A few months before, the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici puts all plans on hold. Her mother decides a while later that people will be in a better mood and will be ready to celebrate. Shortly after though, a horse crash takes her mothers life. In 11 months her father remarries to Caterina, who thinks it is time Elisebetta gets her turn to shine. Through out these events, Elisebetta catches the eye of the great Leonardo Di Vinci. He introduces her to Giuliano de’ Medici who swears his love to her. However, things are changing in Florence and the relationship quickly is distressed.

I absolutely adored this book. To get a point of view of who might have been “Monna Lisa” was very interesting. I didn’t enjoy the end part with Giuliano but it proved her story wasn’t another fairy tale. I highly recommend The Smile and any other of Napoli’s novels.
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Bad Advice Column

Dear Bad Advice,

My boyfriend has a small flatulence problem. And by small, I mean approximately the size of many, many elephants. I have tried slipping Beano into his drinks, but he either decides he's not thirsty, or he sees the pills and thinks there's something wrong with his ice. He's not particularly bright, either. We're working with maybe one watt. Anyway, my question is, how do I stop his...little....flaw?

Sincerely, Sweetfart

Dear Sweetfart,

First of all, "Sweetfart?" Seriously? Dude, you seriously need some help in the witty pseudonym department. As for your boyfriend, might I suggest you try a little "aromatherapy"? Judging be his intelligence and, erm, affliction, he must be really, really cute, or really, really rich. He does not require consciousness to be either of those things. Just fill a bathtub with boiling water, add several boxes of chamomile tea, and wait for the sleepy-time fumes to waft up his presumably hairy nose. If that fails to put him out, make a mixtape filled with soothing lullabies. Lug both the tub and a stereo system with you everytime you go on a date. You won't have to deal with his IQ, or lack thereof. If he happens to be a sleep-flatulator, simply slip several adult diapers onto his unconscious form. No sound or scent will get through that insulation. I would suggest you bring an XXXL pair of pants to slip over said diapers. The only thing more embarrassing than a flatulent date is a diapered one.

Sincerely, Bad Advice

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Barry Lyga's "Hero Type" Review by Jose D.

When I first opened the book Hero Type, I knew what I was to expect. Teenagers, drama, and a good storyline and a lot of comedy and a juicy conflict and that my dear reader is what I got.
From chapter one the story was good.

In this amazing adventure, we take on the story of Kevin Ross, nicknamed Kross by his friends “The fools”. Kevin Ross was recently praised for the rescue of the daughter of important man. Leah Muldoon. Kevin is then treated like a god, a prince, a king. With money rewards, free food, News publicity, new car you’d think he’s had it made for a typical teenager. But it is not all as it seems for Kevin has dark secrets of his own.

I loved the story, from beginning to end. It was a great experience and a wonderful book. It shows the meaning of the American flag and its true colors. It shows the ignorance of people and exploits them, shining light upon the typical questions of the teen such as…

“Why do we have to pledge every day?”

“What does out flag mean?”

“What happens if we don’t pledge?”

Well in this story you can find this out in an exciting way.

That’s another reason why I loved the story so much, it really opened my eyes on the American flag, the significance that a bumper sticker can hold to a patriot and how a good hero can go “bad” by a simple mistake or a misunderstanding.

Simple things such as bumper stickers are important to some especially those in the Army Marine Corps and the Air Force. I have a friend named Bart, a married man with three very wonderful children who when he comes upon a vehicle with something as simple as a bumper sticker, something so little like that, he would approach or drive up next to them and salute because to him, it means something. American Pride.

To be American proud doesn’t mean you have to necessarily have bumper stickers to love your country but some, they feel proud and I am sure he isn’t the only one whom feels that way. I’m sure of it.

I could go on speaking forever about the topic but for now. I believe that is all I can say.

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Death to the Undead

by Becca L.

Bite me. Go ahead. Do it. I'm not afraid. After all, I love you. Here we have the plot of every vampire story written in recent years. Am I the only one who longs for an end?

Many teens are familiar with the website, Quizilla. They are also familiar with the mind boggling unoriginality that runs rampant on the site. 60% of the stories on quizilla are about vampires. Being kidnapped by them, betrothed to them, sold to them. Usually this would be the spot for an "etc, etc.", but that is the extent of the vampire plots. Just once I wish a vampire would be an evil, mindless parasite instead of a romantic stock character. Half the time vampires don't even suck blood. They were meant to frighten children away from the woods and to be the villains of fireside tales, not fodder for some teenage girl's fantasy.

I find the Twilight craze particularly annoying. When the book first came out I picked it up. I then put it right back down. A sappy teenage romance does not require a saga to complete it. Stephanie Meyers should have followed in the footsteps of Katie Maxmillian and let her silly little romance remain 200 page paperbacks. I have been forced to hear about Edward Cullen for the last two years. I am only going to say this once, so listen closely. HE'S NOT REAL. He will never be real. He is a fictional character.

If you want to meet a real vampire, ask your doctor. There is a real disease that can be treated by drinking blood. Now patients mostly take pills. Isn't that romantic?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Katie Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die Review by Alexis M.

Alexis is very antisocial, anti-cheerleader, and absolutely loves photography. Her parent’s marriage isn’t doing the best and her 13 year old sister, Kasey, has gone totally doll crazy. After a family argument, Kasey and Alexis have some one-on-one sisterly bonding. During this time, Alexis realizes that her life is going from dysfunctional to dangerous. Kasey is changing. Her normal green eyes are suddenly bright blue. Her vocabulary takes a weird twist when she begins using more old-fashioned words. And, she loses track of large periods of time, claiming to know nothing about the sudden change in behavior. Alexis’s house is changing too. Doors open and close by themselves, water boils on an unlit stove, and an unplugged air conditioner makes the house cold enough for the girls to see their own breath. Alexis wants to believe that all this is just her mind playing tricks on her but… when things begin to be life threatening to her, her family, and her new relationship with the vice president of her class… she realizes she’s the only person that can stop it.

I loved this book. It was pretty confusing from making you think one thing for so long and then suddenly changing everything you thought you knew. “Bad Girls Don’t Die” not only had a strong mystery/action theme but also a twist of comedy and romance. It was constantly thrilling and I highly recommend it.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Review: Generation Dead (Daniel Water)

by Becca L.

Let us take a look at the premise of Daniel Water’s first book, Generation Dead. American teenagers are refusing to stay dead. Let me finish. Zombies, or the differently biotic, roaches are the new minority group. They are attending public high schools and facing discrimination, as do all new people. But are they people? That is the question this book seeks to answer. I think. Never mind that it is completely irrelevant. This may be the biggest problem I have with this book. It focuses on social issues that will never, ever appear. The book takes itself way, way too seriously, especially when you consider the oh-so-cliché plot and characters. Our heroine, Phoebe, is a misunderstood goth girl with only two true friends. Margi, the barely described best friend, is more concerned with the status quo than her friend’s problems. Adam is the boy next door, star of the football team, and secretly in love with Phoebe.

I have just described nearly every teen book in print. Now let’s add a handful of dead kids. Phoebe will, of course, fall inexplicably in love with the most functional one, Tommy. Naturally, everyone at school hates him, targeting both of them for mockery and violence. I won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say Tommy’s “big revelation” will remind you of a Lifetime Movie. I will Daniel Waters credit for creating an almost plausible explanation for the zombies and a believable range of motion. Sadly, the most well-developed and believable characters are dead. I don’t mean to say this is a complete failure. Some parts are extremely entertaining, and though the story is predictable, it was still an enjoyable enough read. I think adequate would be the best word to describe this book. It wasn’t amazing, or even what I would call good, but it will do in a pinch. This would make a great book for SRC with 400 pages of teen fluff. An easy way to rack up minutes without having to think too hard.

Katie Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die Review by Alexis

Alexis is very antisocial, anti-cheerleader, and absolutely loves photography. Her parent’s marriage isn’t doing the best and her 13 year old sister, Kasey, has gone totally doll crazy. After a family argument, Kasey and Alexis have some one-on-one sisterly bonding. During this time, Alexis realizes that her life is going from dysfunctional to dangerous. Kasey is changing. Her normal green eyes are suddenly bright blue. Her vocabulary takes a weird twist when she begins using more old-fashioned words. And, she loses track of large periods of time, claiming to know nothing about the sudden change in behavior. Alexis’s house is changing too. Doors open and close by themselves, water boils on an unlit stove, and an unplugged air conditioner makes the house cold enough for the girls to see their own breath. Alexis wants to believe that all this is just her mind playing tricks on her but… when things begin to be life threatening to her, her family, and her new relationship with the vice president of her class… she realizes she’s the only person that can stop it.

I loved this book. It was pretty confusing from making you think one thing for so long and then suddenly changing everything you thought you knew. “Bad Girls Don’t Die” not only had a strong mystery/action theme but also a twist of comedy and romance. It was constantly thrilling and I highly recommend it.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chidori vs. Rasengan by Darro


Blossom Spectrum by Emily I.


Being Blonde by Alexis M.

Even though some blondes make stupid decisions and don’t behave appropriately, doesn’t mean everyone with blonde hair is a “dumb blonde”.

First of all, no one has a choice about what he or she looks like. It all depends on genetics. Not only from your parents but also from generations before them. There are many different theories on how hair color, eye color, and skin tone are determined, hair color being one of the most complicated. According to one popular theory, at least two gene pairs control human hair color. One gene, which is a brown/blonde pair, has a dominant brown allele and a recessive blonde allele. A person with a brown allele will have brown hair; a person with no brown alleles will be blonde. This also explains why two brown-haired parents can produce a blonde-haired child. The other gene pair is a not-red/red pair, where the not-red allele (which suppresses production of pheomelanin) is dominant and the allele for red hair is recessive. Since the two gene pairs both govern hair color, a person with two copies of the red-haired allele will have red hair, but it will be either auburn or bright reddish orange depending upon whether the first gene pair gives brown or blonde hair, respectively. About 2% of the world’s population has naturally blonde hair. To determine the shade of hair depends on Eumelanin and Phaeomelanin levels. Eumelanin is black and brown, while Phaeomelanin is red. A rare shade of blonde is strawberry blonde. It takes both the blonde gene and the red. The most rare though is platinum. You’d need extremely low levels in both Eumelanin and Phaeomelanin. Platinum also happens to be the blonde most associated with the “dumb blonde” label. So, if a blonde had high Eumelanin level to the point it looked light brown, why don’t they get picked on? They still are “blonde”, even though it might look darker, so what gets them out of being labeled “dumb”? This actually would prove the lack of knowledge in whoever was behind the “dumb blonde” saying because it proved that they didn’t know the facts about hair genetics.

Also, there are plenty of people with blonde hair who have achieved great things. JK Rowling for example, is the much loved author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. Her books have gotten worldwide attention, been translated into 65 different languages, and sold over 400 million copies. The Sunday Times Rich List, in 2007, estimated Ms. Rowling’s fortune to be about £545 million. Forbes, ranked her as the 48th most powerful celebrity of 2007 and Time Magazine named Rowling as runner up for their 2007 “Person of the Year” noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. Madonna, while it might not seem like it, is a very important and powerful blonde. She’s managed to keep her career going for about 26 years and sell more than 200 million copies worldwide. She has a record of 12 number one singles, 22 top ten singles and the most weeks at number one with a total of 74 weeks. Recently, on March 10th, 2008, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The American business magnate, author, editor, and homemaking advocate, Martha Stewart, also has blonde hair. Over the past 20 years, she has written several books, hundreds of articles on the domestic arts, been editor of a national home keeping magazine, and hosted two popular daytime television programs. In 2001, Martha was named 3rd most powerful woman in America by Ladies Home Journal. This summer Hillary Clinton had the opportunity to be the democratic representative in the 2008 election. I don’t necessarily think it would be good to have someone labeled “dumb” in office… and even though she didn’t “win”, I can definitely tell she’s intelligent. Clinton attended Wellesley College, and in 1969 received national attention when she delivered an address as the first student to speak at commencement exercises. She graduated from Yale Law School in 1973 and then in 1975, she married Bill Clinton. She played a role in advocating for the establishment of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act. Hillary was elected senator for New York State in 2000. Currently she is running for president, and has won the most primaries and delegates of any woman in U.S. history. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She served from 1981 to 2006. She also was the woman to fight for woman’s right to vote. In 2001, O’Connor was voted the 2nd most powerful woman in America by the Ladies Home Journal. One of my favorite actresses, Reese Witherspoon also is an intelligent, important blonde. The movie that really helped her career, Legally Blonde, completely proves blondes can do anything… and accomplish it in style. Reese owns a production company named ‘Type A Films’. She is involved in children’s and woman’s advocacy organizations. Witherspoon serves on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), and was named Global Ambassador of Avon Products in 2007, serving as honorary chairman of the charitable Avon Foundation. The blonde known as “The People’s Princess” was probably the most loved and she also probably made the most difference. Princess Diana supported many different charities. She was a supporter of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a campaign that went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1987, the Princess of Wales was one of the first high-profile celebrities to be photographed touching a person infected with HIV at the ‘chain of hope’ organization. Her contribution to changing the public pinion of AIDS sufferers was summarized in December 2001 by Bill Clinton at the ‘Diana, Princess of Whales Lecture on AIDS’. “In 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through casual contact, Princess Diana sat on the sickbed on a man with AIDS and held his hand. She showed the world that people with AIDS deserve no isolation, but compassion and kindness. It helped change world’s opinion, and gave hope to the people with AIDS.” –Bill Clinton. Diana also made unexpected visits to hospitals with specific instructions that the visit was to be concealed from the media. Her sudden death in 1997 from a car crash is currently the subject of inquest. Plus her sons, William (Blonde) and Harry (Strawberry Blonde) are second and third in line for the throne so that has to be worth something… Anyway, there are many successful blondes out there. And to call any of these people dumb would make no sense since they all have major accomplishments.

Yes, I will admit there are a lot of pretty stupid people out there that happen to be blonde. Britney Spears is definitely at the top of that list. There is no excuse for anyone whether blonde or brunette, male or female, famous or not… for some to have committed multiple crimes and not go to jail… well… not go to jail for more than a few hours. Anyone who is not a celebrity, wouldn’t be able to get away with it. With the paparazzi putting Britney and Paris in the news constantly, it’s easy to see where blondes get a bad name. But, Lindsay Lohan is not blonde… or she might be now but it’s not natural… and she is just as bad, if not worse. The same thing applies to Amy Winehouse. As much as I can see the people picturing blondes as these idiotic celebrities, there are still people who aren’t blonde who behave just as brainless.

Over all, blondes can be dumb, but so can everyone. As the wannabe blonde Hannah Montana would say, “Nobody’s Perfect”. No one’ s personality should be judged based on his or her hair color, skin color, age, height, religion, or anything but who they are as a person. For the intelligence thing, it‘s all about genetics. Blame your parents! “Dumb blonde” jokes hurt just as much as someone being racial or sexist. And… if blondes are so dumb, why do non-blondes pay to dye their hair?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Book Review: Next (Michael Chrichton)

by Jesse B.

In a world where cloning and gene splicing are common practices, the possible extension of such tasks into the human realm becomes an issue. This is not the world of tomorrow – it is the world of today. In Next, Michael Chrichton takes a detour from the realm of science fiction to the realm of science fact. While the stories that take place in his novel are extreme cases, they are still theoretically possible with today's technology.

The corruption of the business realm is extending more and more into the realm of science. Studies that would once have gone unquestioned are now traced in order to determine whether their results were manipulated by corporations. This corruption takes a darker tone when experimentation with gene therapy and hybridization become a distinct moneymaking opportunity. The questions of ethics and safety go largely unconsidered as companies secretly bypass FDA protocol.

A gene is synthesized which has the distinct capability to remove addictions to various substances. Nicotine, heroin and even the spending of money are possible for treatment. The market for such a gene is a rich one indeed. Besides, is it not one's duty to serve the good of the public with such a life-saving drug, even if it means bending government policy? Testing on animal subjects has seen amazing results; moving on to humans is only logical.

This is only one of many cases Chrichton analyzes in his novel. In another drift from his usual style, Next is told as a group of short stories with chapters from each one interspersed throughout. The startling conclusion brings all of these stories together. This is one psychological thriller not a soul should miss.

Poem: Silence of Souless

by Jesse

I'm tired of hanging around this place
'Cause all I get
For all my troubles
Is nothing but the same

I'm searching inside
For something more
How did this life leave me so poor?

I'm bleeding before you
I'm bleeding without you
I'm bleeding and I cannot understand
How you could forsake me
Walk off and take me
Far from this land

Without a soul I wander now
So destitute, so broken down

Maybe this life has left me broken
Only because I lacked
the strength to keep myself together

I'm bleeding before you
I'm bleeding without you
I'm bleeding and I cannot understand
How you could forsake me
Walk off and take me
Far from this land

My shell is trapped within this dungeon
This hell
None of my plans are going well

I try to break the chain of darkness
that's holding me back from the land of sunlight
And warmth

I'm bleeding before you
I'm bleeding without you
I'm bleeding and I cannot understand
How you could forsake me
Walk off and take me
Far from this land

There's no end to my suffering
I've fallen apart from the land of day
No mercy

I'm spiraling down into the ground
Beneath my feet
I've fallen so far I've begun to drown

And I'm drowning in pain

I'm bleeding before you
I'm bleeding without you
I'm bleeding and I cannot understand
How you could forsake me
Walk off and take me
Far from this land

And I'm drowning in pain

I'm bleeding before you
I'm bleeding without you
I'm bleeding and I cannot understand
How you could forsake me
Walk off and take me
Far from this land

Watch me as I drown
my hands still reaching towards the surface
All is lost
And nothing's gained
Nothing but the silence of the deep

Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Review: The Twelve Kingdoms - Sea of Shadow (Fuyumi Ono)

by Jesse B.

Yoko Nakajima struggles with her social life in high school. Born with abnormally red hair in a Japanese society where all hair is a shade of black, her peers and tutors believe that she has dyed her hair against school policy and is associating with people she shouldn't be. To Yoko's great surprise, a young man named Keiki walks into her school one day looking for her, telling her that she is his master and that she must come with him for her own safety. Soon Yoko finds herself swept into a fantastical parallel universe. So begins the novel Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono

Separated from Keiki, Yoko finds herself hunted by the government as one of the dreaded kaikyaku, beings from another world who are thought to bring bad luck. Hiding by day and traveling by night, Yoko is forced to fight her way through hordes of demons with only the sword given her by Keiki and a gem which possesses magical healing properties. Eventually though, Yoko's luck runs out and she is only saved from death by a half-beast in the form of a giant rat named Rakushun. Something of an outcast himself, Rakushun joins Yoko and the two set out for the Kingdom of En, where people such as themselves are accepted in society.

A fast-paced novel full of magic, swordplay and demons, Sea of Shadow is the soon-to-be released first volume in the seven volume cycle The Twelve Kingdoms. Originally published in Japan, this wildly popular fantasy series is being translated into English for the first time. Fuyumi Ono spins an enchanting tale that is difficult to put down once picked up. Any fantasy-lover would be truly missing out if he refused to read this book.

Amy Kathleen Ryan's Vibes: A Review by Alexis M.

Kristi is basically just an average sophomore… except for the fact that she can read minds. Dealing with this power results in her hearing everyone’s thoughts whether they’re positive or negative. Most aren’t exactly pleasant. Two years ago, her dad left and went to Africa to fight disease. Since then, Kristi and her mom have grown farther apart, her best friend Hildie has stopped talking to her, she’s hid a cat in her bedroom, and she’s gotten some very… unique… fashion tastes. When her dad decides to come back… maybe for good or just temporarily, she learns secrets that she had no clue about. It also doesn’t help that she’s been paired with Hildie’s gorgeous older brother (that she’s had a crush on for years) to do a character project, the new guy Mallory is constantly thinking romantic thoughts about her, and Jason… who’s been the closest thing to a friend since Mallory… is picturing her “ginormous gazungas” in ways that totally disturb her.

This book, while it had very cliché characters, was full of twists and turns in an extraordinary story line. If I were given a super power, I normally would have wanted to be psychic. After reading this though, I saw all the downfalls of this ability and would hate to have to deal with it. An extremely big part of this novel is, things aren’t always as they appear... or sound. There were some things that had terrible conclusions to it, but they were probably more realistic. Overall, Vibes was a pretty good read.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Antonia Michaelis's Tiger Moon a review by Liesl P.

The first thing that I have to say about this book is the fact that it draws you in and makes you feel like you are living in that time period. This is a story within a story. It can get confusing if you are not a type of reader who concentrates fully on the story.

This book is about a girl who is taken by an evil man to be his bride. While waiting for her wedding night she begins to spin a story about a man coming to rescue her. This book is filled with adventure, courage, and a little bit of romance. If you like other stories based in India, such as Shiva’s Fire, you will love the book. I know I did.

Stephenie Meyer's The Host a review by Emily I.

The Host starts with, in my opinion, a very confusing and surreal account of when the main character is being transmitted into her host. In the next few pages you start to get the gist of what is happening. The "parasite" named Wanderer is a soul that goes to various planets and by an incision is placed in different creatures. She is put into a human body, and something strange happens that is very uncommon. She can hear and see memories of her host, whose name she discovers is Melanie. Sometimes the Host can even control her actions and words. Most of the memories that Wanderer can see are the ones about Jared, Melanie's boyfriend whom she loved dearly, and Jaime, the Melanie's brother. As the story progresses Wanderer meets her Seeker who suggests that Wanderer goes to Melanie's homeland in the desert. Wanderer does and as she travels she sees more of Melanie's memories and frequently talks to Melanie. The Seeker is always behind them on their journey and Melanie convinces Wanderer to go another way to a place she knows. The two travel through the desert where they eventually loose consciousness and a human named Jeb finds them.

A group of humans live in the caves with him where they hide from the "aliens" that are the parasitic humans. In an odd twist of fate Jared and Jaime are living the the caves. Jared is the person appointed to make the decision of where they should kill Wanderer. Wanderer becomes very accustomed to living with the humans and they welcome her with time. Love also springs between Wanderer and Ian, even though Wanderer doesn't believe it. While living in the caves Wanderer teaches everyone about the 8 other planets she has lived on. She also is almost killed, learns how to cope when people close to you die, and love. I really enjoyed this book. It was different from other things that I have read before and was original. I was already a big fan of Meyer before this book from the popular series Twilight and this book showed me she can write other things, too. It was sometimes slow-paced but a very easy book to read. I got very involved with all of Wanderer's fears and her trials. By the end of the book I found myself on her side, and you have to read The Host to find out why.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Book Review: The Ruby Key (Holly Lisle)

I’ll admit, as soon as I saw that Holly Lisle’s The Ruby Key was recommended for ages 9-14, I wanted to put it right back. I anticipated some predictable variation on the secretly-magical-children-save-the-world plot. Anyone who has ever read a fantasy book should be very familiar with it. I did not anticipate this darkly delightful take on the faerie/human dynamic. The story twisted with every page, weaving a masterful tale that has left me begging for the next installment. I particularly like the use of the sun and the moon as symbols for humans and nightlings.

The idea that neither element is purely good or evil is not often used in children’s books. A truly stunning cast of characters raises a good read to perfection. A girl who would do anything to save her mother, a young boy literally followed by the ghost of his past, a faerie who is just as human as you and I, and another who is as far from us as is possible. All these characters have been used again and again, but Lisle breathes new life into their molds. I cannot remember the last time any book gripped me so tightly that I could barely pull myself free to sleep. I would urge any person of any age to purchase The Ruby Key posthaste. I say purchase because there is no doubt in my mind that you will read it again and again. Here is proof that a traditional faery tale is just as captivating as the modern ones.

Ann Dee Ellis's Everything is fine a Review by Alexis M.

Mazzy is stuck at home all summer taking care of her highly depressed mother. Her father, who works for ESPN, is off at a business trip that was only supposed to last about a week… as of now, he’s basically abandoned them. Mazzy has no one to turn to except her neighbors and her mother’s old art studio.

This book was really different. The way it’s written, made things jump around a lot and majority of it didn’t make sense. It wasn’t till the end of the book that everything started to click together and explain why things were the way they were. Everything Is Fine did have very serious topics like depression, diabetes, and death but it also put humor into Mazzy and the way she thought as she was going through this. The book overall was okay.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Julie Schumacher's Black Box: A Review by Alexis M.

Elena and Dora are sisters, best friends, and complete opposites. Dora is loud, fun, and unpredictable while Elena is more quiet and calm. After Dora is diagnosed with depression and has to stay in the hospital, Elena isn’t sure who her sister, or herself, is anymore. Elena doesn’t really have any friends since she went to a private school until high school so the only people that really acknowledge her are friends of Dora and Jimmy Zenk. Jimmy supposedly has failed at least one grade and wears black every single day. He has his own secrets and advice for Elena. Dora and Elena’s parents have started to fight in the kitchen every night after the think Elena is in bed. Once Dora is discharged, Elena has even more responsibility and has to figure out what secrets she needs to keep and which she needs to tell.

Black Box was addicting. It was full of surprises I wasn’t expecting and was impossible to put down. Not only did it deal with depression, but it also had a lot of moments about trust. How far should you keep secrets and that not everything is it seems. It also shows that sometimes knowing the truth is better but sometimes it’s worse. Elena’s thoughts about everything added humor and drama to the novel. Overall, it was an amazing book.

Book Review: Banewreaker (Jacqueline Carey)

by Jesse B.

In a world torn asunder by the very gods who shaped it, the line between good and evil is difficult to discern; such is the world, Urulat, in Jacqueline Carey's novel Banewreaker. Haomane, the first-born Shaper, has deceived the majority of the populous into believing that only one of Haomane's younger brothers, Satoris, is to blame for the Sundering. The truth of the matter is that Haomane is jealous of the gift Satoris possesses – desire.

In an attempt to obtain the gift of desire for his Children, the Ellylon, Haomane sparks a war among the Shapers' Children that spans millennia. The irony is that at the Ellylon's creation, Satoris offered his gift to Haomane's Children freely only to have it rejected by Haomane out of pride. Still it would be offered, had Haomane not in his wrath wounded Satoris in such a way that his gift could no longer be given.

Banewreaker, book one of two of The Sundering duology, chronicles a key portion of the war waged by the races of Urulat due to Haomane's deception. The key question asked by Carey in her novel is whether desire is as valuable as intelligence. A deeply philosophical text, Banewreaker forces the reader to reconsider what it means to be human.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Battle of the Bands 2008 Pictures

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bad Advice Column - By Allen

Dear Bad Advice,

Just yesterday, I was publicly humiliated, for a random man came up to me and began yelling incomprehensible words at me. After about 10 minutes of this nonsense, he had the nerve to pants me in public!!!! What do I do?!?!


Pants’d in public

Dear pants’d in public,

Well, well. You’ve got quite a problem, eh? I’ve just the solution! Simply staple your pants to your buttocks. It worked for me, and though you won’t be able to sit for a few years, anyone who attempts to pants you will severely fail. It’s a foolproof plan!


Bad Advice

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dan and the Bean Stock

by Calvin Miller

Once upon a time in a far away land called San Francisco, there lived a little boy called Dan. Dan was a multi billionaire, and he hated it. He had everything he ever wanted, except his parents. They were dead…to him…but actually they were hanging out with their broker friends down at the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange).

One day, Dan was shooting his paint-ball gun at passing cars when he decided he wanted to check the stock his parents gave him 2 years ago for his birthday. He had stock in SBUX, GE, LG, MCDS, COKE, PPSI, WMAR, BOEING, EGY, GEMS and even ASIA. As he continued to browse the immense index of his personal stock, he saw one he never heard of: BEAN. BEAN was up 572 points, which was amazing.

He did some research on BEAN and apparently, he could send away $20, and then receive an informative brochure that would answer all his questions. So he sent a crisp twenty-dollar-bill to this address:

Ikant B. Leave

Usent 20 bucks

2 New York City

10044, USA

So he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and he waited and then he got fed up of waiting. He sent the letter out 3 months ago! Well, then again, it does have to travel all the way across the USA.

He told his butler to prepare the leer jet and get ready to fly to New York. They arrived in New York after a quick (8 hour) flight. Dan booked a hotel, the Waldorff=Astoria. “Wow” said the butler, “The Waldorff=Astoria!” “Yep, I never heard of it” said Dan. So they got in their room, which by the way is freakishly large, and decided what to do. The butler fell asleep, and the stock market already closed. Dan, not knowing what to do, goes out of the room. Dan might be rich, but not all rich people are stupid. Dan was very tricky, he went over to the room across the hall, and he pulled out his magnetic key-card, and before he tried to break into the abandon room, he spied a video camera at the end of the hall, he knew it was a short circuit camera and could see the wires running into a room labeled “janitors closet”. Dan went up to the camera, and waved the key card’s magnetic strip in front of the camera’s lens causing the camera to short out. Now that the camera was taken care of, he went back to the room. He knew that one false move, would make him have to do it again. He carefully placed the magnetic key-card on the side of the handle and in one swift move, kicked the handle right off the door and shoved the card into the hole alongside the alarm sensor, stopping the alarm.

Now that he was in, he decided to hit the mini-bar. He opened it up and peered inside. All that was in there was beer, some wine and a shot of peppermint schnapps. “Awe man, all that’s in here is alcohol, where’s the milk?” he exclaimed in disappointment. He wanted to peruse. He peered out the window, and couldn’t even see the side walk because of the clouds. He went over the bed and saw a box of complimentary mints. Wait a minute, mints from hotels don’t come in boxes, they come in individual packages. He picked up the box, and read the package

Dontcha’ wish your bean stock was as up like me?

A free informative packet,

Complete with a pouch of magic* beans.

*Beans may or may not grow, or be magic. If they do grow, will be poisonous

He decided to keep the brochure…and the beans…and the box it came in. he heard footsteps a ways down the hall, he could tell they were running because of the sound the feet made on the hard-wood floors. Dan dashed into the bedroom, and dove under the bed. Only there was a problem, the bed was connected to the floor all the way around the bottom. Dan hit his head on the wood casing, and was left unconscious.

Dan woke up in a plane, a BAe 125 Hawker to be exact. Dan was cuffed to the plane’s armrest, although whoever put on the hand cuffs was either drunk or very, very stupid. Dan could slide the cuff off the armrest. Dan was still a little woozy, but he could still see. He peered across the aisle and saw a rather large “bodyguard” playing with a box of Lincoln Logs® and giggling profusely. Stupid, not drunk, well, yah never know these days. Dan called the bodyguard over, and the bodyguard took a step over Dan’s way. “What’s your name?” asked Dan “My name is jimmy and I like apples” “oh,” said Dan “what a coincidence, me too!” “Whats is coinc…coincetic…coinki-”

“-Coincidence?” said Dan.

“Yeah what you said” spouted jimmy

“How ‘bout we play with your Lincoln Logs®”


Jimmy stood up and grabbed the box of Lincoln Logs®. He came back with a huge tub of Lincoln Logs®. Dan knew what he was about to do was wrong, but he had to do it. He looked around and saw a parachute. That’s it! That’s my ticket out! Dan picked up a large log and was about to execute his move, just then jimmy said “do you want to help me build a house?” and Dan couldn’t hit jimmy with the log

“Umm, how about we play hide and go seek?”


“Ok, jimmy, you go count to 75”


“The bathroom, and lock the door, and don’t come out until you get to 75”


and off went jimmy to the bathroom, locked the door and started counting “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…” and Dan sprung out of his seat, ran over to the parachute, and kicked the red lever up. Dan put on his ‘chute, and made sure he had his bank book. Dan nervously peered out the open door that was sucking the air out of the cabin. He saw what looked like Lake Erie. Good, if I jump now, I could still make it back to New York! He jumped, and could feel the tingly-jingly in his stomach he waited several seconds too enjoy the feeling of falling, then he decided to wait until he got to 500ft. he flipped, and twisted, then the tingly-jingly in his stomach went away. Ok now’s the time and he pulled the rip cord.

Funny thing actually, why is it called a rip cord? It’s not supposed to rip is it? Well the rip cord broke off (or ripped rather) and the parachute didn’t deploy, he pulled the emergency cord, which also broke. Dan started to panic, he stuck his finger into the hole where the emergency cord came out of, and felt a metallic ring. He pulled and the chute deployed. Dan grabbed the handles and drifted. He arrived right behind a large tower and hopped out of his parachute harness. He hailed a cab and told the driver to take him to New York City. Dan decided to take a long rest. Once at the Waldorff=Astoria Dan hopped out of the cab. The driver told Dan the fare, $452.58!

Dan said “I’ll tell you what, you drive away without looking back, and I won’t have my mafia friends come and kick your a-butt”

“You know,” said the cab driver “its ok to bluff, but sometimes you have to have all the cards” and he pointed to a black van and a bunch of big me jumped out in suits.

“Ok…well…umm, here’s 500 bucks, BYE!” and he took off running. Dan arrived at the hotel just in time to see his butler exit the building.

Dan went over towards the butler and told him to get in the car.

“But why, you just lost a lot of money because that hotel stay was $1,000”

“There’s more where that came from, now drive to 385 W. 5th St.”

“Whatever” spouted the butler.

And off they went to the BEAN Corporation. A large skyscraper, well, actually the empire state building.

“The brochure says floor 1,078,235,472,105,783…sounds unlikely. Especially considering that the empire state building only has 102 floors.”

“Whatever” spouted the butler.

Dan gets out of the car and walks into the building. Gets in the elevator and looks for floor 1,078,235,472,105,783, which of course he doesn’t see. So he decides to screw around and hit the floors individual in the order of the “floor”. So Dan pressed floor 1, then G (for ground floor or 0), then 7, and 8, and 2, and so-on and so-forth. So he finally steps out on floor 3 and a big bluish purple circle is floating in the air. He examined the circle and decided to call it a portal. Dan took a flying leap into the portal and popped out walking on a cloud. A long path led to a mansion, and Dan took the long walk. 20 min. later Dan was at the door of the freakishly large house. Dan entered, and saw a receptionist at a desk.

“Excuse me. Umm, what is this place?”

“Well this is the house of amazing stocks in the sky”

“I must be dreaming”

“Nope” said the receptionist and slapped Dan across the face “did you feel that”

“Yep,” said Dan and reached over the desk and slapped the old receptionist “did you feel that?”

“Touché” replied the receptionist

“Now seriously,” said Dan “what is BEAN?”

“BEAN?” the receptionist gasped “well there is only one stock holder for BEAN, and whoever has it is the owner of the entire company. The BEAN Corporation has a net worth of $3trillion and is still rising. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I own the share, so I own the company, I guess. So… technically… you just slapped your boss!”

“You are the owner of BEAN? And you didn’t know about it? please follow me.” and the receptionist led Dan down an long corridor, he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and he walked, and the he got fed up of walking, so he decided to get a piggy-back ride by the receptionist. 3 hours of walking led them to the end of the hall, which was where a freakishly large door was.

Dan opened the door, to find Jimmy waiting on the desk with a gun in his hand.

“Why did you leave me on the plane locked in the bathroom counting to 75?”

“I think a better question would be ‘why are you pointing a gun at me, when I was hiding from you like the way the game is played’ or maybe even ‘what the heck are you doing in my office, pointing a gun at me?’”

“Hey don’t get snippy at me, just climb the dang staircase”

“Why so you can shoot me?”

“No, so they can shoot you.” and Jimmy snapped his fingers and a bunch of midgets on segway surrounded him with M16s.

“Why are there a bunch of midgets preparing to shoot me with M16s?”

“We prefer little people, numskull” shouted a ‘little person’

“Whatever, now I guess you want me to climb the staircase?”

“Yes,” shouted Jimmy “now get to stepping!”

Dan decided to climb the staircase. Up the staircase Dan went. The staircase was a long staircase, lost of twists an turns. Once Dan reached a curve where the heavily-armed-midgets couldn’t see him, Dan peered over the side, than dove straight down. Now if you think about it, what holds up the mansion, and the staircase? Something solid right? Dan didn’t consider this before he dove. As he plummeted downward, he realized he was probably going to hit that solid thing. And, he did, head first. But, Dan was so worried about being shot up by a bunch of tiny humans riding futuristic vehicles, wielding the most powerful civilian-obtainable gun in the history of mankind. So Dan shrugged off the side splitting headache (no, seriously his skull was split down the side) and ran as fast as he could towards the spiraling bluish-purple portal.

Dan reached the portal in what seamed like 30 seconds, but that was probably because the memory part of his brain was hanging out of his head. Dan took a running dive for the portal and popped out of level 3 of the empire state building. As soon as he emerged from the portal-still in mid dive, mind you- landed head first into an elderly lady, that strangely resembled the receptionist at the BEAN Company. Dan was immediately rushed to the hospital to have his skull pieced back together.

Dan now resides in the P. S. Y. Cotic Mental Institution For Major Head Injuries. Every day he wakes up and ponders his escape. I'm not crazy, he thinks, But i have to get out of here.




Friday, August 8, 2008

Youth Empowerment Summit 2008 Pictures

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beach Party 2008 Pictures

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sports! by Kara S.


Fish by Emily I.


Crown by Emily I.


Anime Girl by Allen

http://www.yorklibraries.org/Our_Libraries/Martin/Teens/Slant/images/pic by allen h.jpg

The Library Chronicles by Derrick

Note: The Library Chronicles is in manga format and should be read from right to left.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Meeting With Death

Issue 1

Issue 2

Issue 3

Issue 4

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Uneventful Adventures CK & Blue by Chris B.

Issue 4

Issue 5

Issue 6

Issue 7

Issue 8

Issue 9

Issue 10

Issue 11

Issue 12

Issue 13

Issue 14

Ben Folds and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Review by Mandi I.

by Mandi I.

Abby H. woke me up at 9:50 Wednesday morning. Slightly unhappy I asked her what she wanted. She had an extra ticket to Ben Folds with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I accepted with undying gratitude (to this day). We met at Boscov’s Parking lot and were on our way to Columbia, Maryland. After fighting traffic and arriving at Meriwether Post Pavilion we took our seats on the Lawn. Walking to get drinks we noticed everyone running to get seats. So we grabbed seats for the rest of our group. Then the concert started. It was amazing. The orchestra played Ben Folds songs along side him amazing piano talent.

So why haven’t you heard of this amazing man? He hasn’t exactly hit the Britney Spears type fame, and we don’t expect him too. He has tracks on the over the hedge sound track as well and his own CDs, and is working on an Orchestral CD much like what we saw.

Ben Folds mixes rock, acoustic, and jazz together to make a new and amazing sound. It’s unlike anything out there right now. He is most diffidently worth checking out. You can see him at www.myspace.com/benfolds, www.benfolds.com, or his bands website www.benfoldsfive.com, and www.myspace.com/benfoldsfive. And pick up the CD!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lois Duncan's Don't Look Behind You Review by Kelsie

April Corrigan is a seventeen year old girl who is very happy living the way she was. She was an excellent tennis player, had a steady boyfriend, and great friends. She was leading a wonderful life until she found out that her father was secretly working for the FBI.

While Mr. Corrigan was attending a trial, someone tried to kill him. That is when her perfect life rapidly fell on its face. She was forced not to play tennis and change her name and location and without letting anyone know who she was or where she was going (even Lorelei her mother’s mother) through the Federal Witness Security Program.

They successfully changed their location, but April lets something slip that totally gives away the family’s secret life. Once the person tracking them down finds out where they are staying, he starts to talk to some of the people who know the Corrigans/Webbers.

I think all of Lois Duncan’s mysteries are great. I also think this book would be loved by almost anyone who reads it.

Shanna Norris' Something to Blog About Review by Alexis

Libby Fawcett. Classic teenager. School, boys, and those mean popular girls that you wish would just go *POOF!*. Now here’s the dramatic twist… She set her hair on fire in front of the whole class, including her crush Seth Jacobs who she’s tutoring in chemistry, the subject she is also failing, and now she finds out her mom is dating the father of her archenemy, Angel Rodriguez. To vent her feelings and anger, Libby starts a secret blog. And let’s just say… it doesn’t stay a secret for long.

I seriously couldn’t put this book down. While things did get predictable at times, it was still very funny. Things kinda were resolved quicker and less complicated than they would have been in real life, making things seem a little too perfect. ‘Something to Blog About’ could have been longer and definitely should have a sequel. This would make a great beach book. Over all, it was fabulous and I can’t wait to see what Shana Norris writes next.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout's Girl V. Boy Review by Alexis

Luisa Perez isn’t really into school spirit. Actually, Luisa and her friends, Rachel and Izzy, take pride in avoiding activities that are labeled “extracurricular”. But, when her school is competing for an extra month of winter vacation and the boys of Dunfield, or as the students call it, ‘Dumpfield’, start competing against the girls, it turns the fundraiser into a ’battle of the sexes’ and Luisa and her friends start to change their minds. When asked to write an anonymous column for her school paper about the girls half, she just has to say yes. One week she’ll write and the next week’s the article will be written by an anonymous reporter for the boys. As time goes on, “Newshound” (Luisa) and “Scoop” (Mystery Man) begin to debate the actions of boys and girls as well as discuss the fundraiser. Who could this new enemy be? Luisa is determined to find out… and the results will shock her.

‘Girl V. Boy’ was an interesting novel. I can say, “Scoop” did start to get on my nerves, while “Newshound” was full of useful advice. I realize I like the girls point of view because well, I’m a girl and that’s sorta was what I was thinking but it was interesting to see a guys take on things. Umm… the only other advice I can give you about this book is don’t read the back because it totally reveals the surprise ending.

One Day With You by Jose

One Day With You

Will be the worst day of my life

and the happiest to remember

One Day With You

Will make all well

One Day with you

My wounds go well

One Day with you

my heart is full

One Day with you

My mind is sane

Once that day is over

It's back to pain

Where my wounds will swell

my heart will stop

my mind loses sanity

When the day is over

I'll await the next one

Untitled by Sebastian

The dinosaurs weren’t killed by a giant meteor, they contracted Anthrax spread by those walking fish things that are now reptiles. They had an underground lab where they found the cure for cancer and how to make gold. Actually, gold never existed before then. It was their creation. After they died, cavemen found the cure for cancer, but fed it to their dogs which made them really strong.

They wanted the world to look cool, so they used their dogs to make the pyramids, Stonehenge, Easter Island, and all those other world wonder things. However, secretly they put little explosive detonators around them all and George Bush knows about it. Actually, a lot of people probably know about it, but he’s the only on that matters because he accidentally set off one of the detonators at the Sphinx when he was looking for Osama bin Laden.

Bush tried to cover it up by getting Dick Cheney to shoot his ‘friend’ while quail hunting. While the people were concerned with that incident, the CIA went about reconstructing the Sphinx’s nose. That poor Pillsbury doughboy sacrificed his life, or had it taken, for Bush's sake. The CIA got Little Debbie and Sara Lee to make sweets with the remains of the doughboy to give the Egyptians who saw the ordeal to keep their mouths shut.

While under construction at the Sphinx, Loch Ness was reported to be drained leaving a large massive object at the far, far bottom. Another cover-up was needed to help Bush, so he bribed the British with hot tea and Grey Poupon to use their arguing skills against the sports teams of North America’s top leaders to think of something to catch American’s eyes. Because of this, Ben Rothlisberger got in the horrible motorcycle accident that we had recently been hearing about.

As the CIA inspected Loch Ness, the large object turned out to be a ton of Beat les albums that had been tossed into the lake. (They were bootlegs. The yellow submarine was purple.)

Paul McCartney somehow found out about the albums at the bottom of the lake and he cast a spell on the new music groups to make them sound awful. Now their horrible mockery of good music is polluting our minds and making us miserable.

And that is how the whole ended up how it is today.

Ruveneska, Chapter 10: Crucial Training by Darro

Shuren was awestruck. He stared blankly at the Zelze in front of him. “This is Zelzor’s Mountain?”

“We call it, Aela-Doria,” she answered.

Shuren searched his memory for past events. He remembered fighting the black coated men, and they were losing. Shuren was struck at the thought of his friends. “What of my friends?”

“They are fine, but first, you must see Zelzor after being properly healed,” she said.

“Couldn’t you do that in my sleep?”

“No, to use healing magic, the patient must be conscious, so it will not take more energy than necessary. Because you are awake, you are aware, and you can be more focused on being healed.”

“How does that help?” wondered Shuren.

“Anything can be done if you set your mind to it, that is how magic is used,” she said. “Now sit still and concentrate of being healed.”

Shuren nodded in agreement to her command. He focused all of his thoughts to feeling better. The nurse muttered a few words and a crossed her hands. A white orb of light emitted from her palms and she gently soothed Shuren’s wounds. He felt an occasional sting, but continued to focus and astonishingly, it was over within the minute. He jumped out of the comfortable mattress and onto the cold marble ground; he felt rejuvenated. It was clear that he was no longer injured.

“You recover fast Ruven. Get dressed properly,” she said pointing to a pile of lain out clothes, “it would be a disgrace to see Lord Zelzor dressed as you are.” She left the room as her white hair flowed behind her.

Shuren stripped himself and wore the new set of clothes he had been given. It was very light. The torso was larger than him, but smooth. Though it was very thin, it felt durable. His pants were very similar; thin and comfortable. Shuren walked to the edge of the room where the door was shut. Before leaving, he took one last glance around and wondered where his items were. He left, assuming the girl had them.

He opened the door, revealing a long refined hallway that branched into others. The entire place seemed to be made of marble. The ceiling was arched high above Shuren’s head. The walls were smooth. The path was spacious. At the end of the hallway opened into a huge room.

The Zelze approached him and gestured him to follow. They walked straight. “My name is Niance,” she said.

“Nice to meet you, and thank you for treating me,” Shuren said. She smiled in return.

They reached the end of the hallway that dispensed into a gigantic oval room. Shuren gasped. The ceiling above was stories high. The east side of the room was not concealed, but held up with giant pillars. Dragons flew in and out of the room between these pillars. The rest of the room webbed into other hallways. On the floor was an image of a dial.

Niance led Shuren north into a relatively big hallway; bigger than the others. The hallway was short as their walk was. They approached two steel open doors. Inside was another room, but it was smaller. It was plain, except a desk with a chair, a bed, open windows, and book cases.

On the chair was an elderly Zelze. He had long white silky hair and wrinkles of wisdom. He had piercing teal eyes. He looked up as Niance and Shuren walked in. Niance kneeled and signaled Shuren to do so also.

“Lord Zelzor, Ruven Shuren is here,” she said.

“Thank you Niance, you may leave,” he said nicely. Niance left and shut the doors. Zelzor turned and looked at Shuren. “Shuren, it is great to finally meet you.”

“You also,” Shuren said standing up. “Exactly what is going on?” Shuren asked.

Zelzor smiled again, as if he expected the question. “Tell me Shuren, what happened to you and your group upon coming here?”

Shuren explained what happened, mainly about the attack. It was a few minutes until he was finished.

“It appears they know that you are a threat. However, I sent Athar to help when we saw the dark clouds,” Zelzor said back.

“Who were those people that attacked us?” Shuren asked.

Zelzor sat up in his chair. “They are elite Ingle warriors. Their organization is called Mawbryn, created by Garland himself. They are extremely dangerous.”

“How many are there?” Shuren asked, recalling all the ones he had encountered.

“I do not know the exact number, but I reckon thirteen, as it is a popular number to Ingles.”

Shuren had a frustrated look on his face. After a few moments he said, “How powerful is Garland exactly?”

“That I do not know. Compared to a Mawbryn he is stronger than them tenfold.”

Shuren clenched his fist. Tenfold stronger! “I could not even defeat a Mawbryn, how am I supposed to defeat Garland?”

Zelzor smirked. “You have yet to use your Ruven power. With it you could defeat a Mawbryn with a single punch. But to achieve it, you must endure harsh training.”

Shuren stared for a moment. Zelzor was the only one who knew how much power Shuren had, and he was the only one who was able to help him harness it. “Will you help me please? I wish to be able to protect others. I wish to become a full Ruven.”

A bright smile appeared on Zelzor’s face. “Of course, you are the only one able to save us all.”

There was a long pause. Suddenly, Shuren said, “Can I see my friends?”

“Ah, I almost forgot,” he said snapping his fingers, “Catalina, please come in, I request a favor of you.”

A beautiful Gippy woman walked into the room. She had long silver hair that flowed behind her to reveal a gentle face. Her eyes were blue. She wore a white silk robe over her slender body. Shuren was shocked. He gaped at her. She was familiar to him somehow. Suddenly, it struck him: the dream! She had been the girl she was dreaming of in Hogony before he met Karoline. He had forgotten her when he met Karoline. He thought she was merely made up in his mind. All of his feelings for the girl returned him.

She walked up to Zelzor and kneeled. She asked, “What is it my Lord?”

“Please escort Shuren to his friends. Shuren, come back tomorrow to begin your training,” he said.

They nodded and then Catalina approached Shuren. Shuren timidly drew back a bit. She looked at him strangely and signaled for him to follow. “Follow me this way, Sir Ruven.”

Shuren hesitantly followed. He was led out of the room and back into the gigantic room. Shuren followed her into another long hallway. They were silent, until she stopped.

“What’s wrong?” Shuren asked.

She stepped closer to Shuren. “I never imagined you to be so handsome.” She said moving closer.

Shuren’s face began to feel hot. His heart pounded at his chest, about to burst through. “What do you mean?”

“I am thrilled to finally meet you,” she said, moving even closer. Her chest was now brushing against his. Her face was inches away from his. Her hand grabbed a hold of his.

Shuren did nothing to repel. He was paralyzed of shock. Suddenly, her head tilted towards him. Shuren found himself moving closer also. He felt her breathe blowing against his.

Suddenly, Catalina turned her head before their lips were able to meet. Shuren nearly stumbled over her. He turned around to see Karoline walking towards them. Shuren was shaken to her. He wondered if she saw them.

“Karoline, where is everyone?” Shuren asked trying to cover what had just happened.

Karoline had a bitter face. Her face suddenly changed when she said, “They are back at the room. I came to get you, but I see she reached you first.”

Shuren was shocked to hear Karoline speak with envy. He walked toward the room from which she came. He shook off his emotions. He passed Catalina and Karoline and continued forward. He left those two alone as he approached the door.

Inside he saw a fair sized room with a number of chairs. There was a long table filled with food and candles in the center. In the chairs that surrounded the table were Linkouz, Wresta, Strata, Zeal, Nina, Rollan, Ajek and Rojan. They were eating. On a wooden desk were Shuren’s items. The first to notice Shuren was Rojan.

“Sir Ruven!” he teased. “I see you’re awake.”

Shuren nodded. She said, “Are you guys alright?”

Linkouz turned to him and said, “Are we alright? You’re the one who passed out for two days!” He laughed before biting into his meat.

“Sit down Shuren, eat,” said Strata.

Shuren smiled and sat down. He grabbed a plate of food and feasted. The food was delicious and flavorful. He savored it as if it was Lloyd’s cooking. Shuren noticed that Lloyd was not present. He swallowed his food and asked, “Where is Lloyd at?”

Rollan said, “He is somewhere with Athar, the Zelze who saved us. It turns out that Athar is an archer.”

Shuren said, “Oh he is. Can someone show me where he is?” Shuren finished his plate of food quickly.

“I’ll take you,” Karoline said. Shuren had not even notice that she entered the room. He looked around, but found Catalina nowhere. Shuren was hesitant to follow Karoline. The thought of her seeing him and Catalina made him timid. “Had she seen us?” wondered Shuren.

Shuren followed her outside and back into the hallway. Before he was earshot, he heard Zeal call out, “Come back with Lloyd so we can discuss what to do!”

Shuren was now alone with Karoline. He still felt uneasy with her. There was an uncomfortable silence. Desperate to break it, Shuren asked, “Did you eat?”

“Yes, it was Lloyd who cooked it. That’s why it tasted so delicious.” Shuren nodded. Then suddenly, she asked, “How did her lips taste?”

Shuren was petrified that she asked. He searched his minds for an answer, but nothing left his mouth. He did nothing but look down.

Karoline had a smug glare on her face. Even with a negative face she was beautiful. She resumed walking forward as Shuren followed behind slowly; keeping distance from her.

She led Shuren into another hallway that came to a flight of stairs. They descended down the stairs for a few minutes until they came to another large marble room. They walked forward until they were outside of the mountain on a bridge that mounted alongside the mountain. Karoline walked on a bridge that went downward. They continued until they reached a flat ground on the side of the mountain. There were Zelzes that spared, Dragons that flew above, and Lloyd and Athar.

Shuren walked to them. Karoline turned and walked back. Shuren felt guilty of her leaving. Shuren walked up to Lloyd. “Hey Lloyd there you are.”

“Shuren, you’re awake!” exclaimed Lloyd. “This is Athar, the one who saved us,” Lloyd introduced.

Shuren greeted him and thanked him.

“Shuren, Athar is a great archer! He rides his Dragon and uses archery from the skies! Athar can please you show him?” Lloyd asked.

“Of course I will for Sir Ruven,” Athar said. Shuren learned to accept this name for everyone in Aela-Doria will call him it, and he was not going to argue with the entire mountain.

“Suxar, argeta mero!” Athar said.

Lloyd turned to Shuren and said, “Suxar is his Dragon, and argeta mero means ‘I Ride’.”

Suddenly, a beautiful sapphire colored Dragon swoop down and landed before them. It was big enough for three people to ride. It had spikes that ran down its long neck and ended at its back. On its back was a brown saddle with a strap that wrapped around its battle. The beginning of its tale is where spikes started again. Its wings were three times as long as its own height. Its arms dangled underneath the wings with giant claws on each of its five fingers. It roared in the air, and then blew smoke from its nostrils.

“It’s amazing!” Shuren exclaimed. He drew closer as Suxar let Shuren pet it. He felt its rough scales.

“Yes he is. I have been with him since he was a hatchling. Dragons are really smart, smarter than us actually,” Athar said.

“Can it talk?” Shuren asked, still petting him.

“No, but it can understand our words. I can communicate to it but I don’t understand how. I do not even have to say anything and he knows what I want. Same for me also it’s a very mysterious thing we have with our Dragons,” Athar said. Athar walked towards him, equipped with his bow and a quiver. He leapt onto Suxar and patted it on the head.

Suddenly, it darted off of the ground and shot into the air with immense speed. It circled in the air and did a loop. It turned around and swooped down. It stopped in mid air. Athar pulled out an arrow and stretched his bow string back. He shot the arrow and hit a target directly. Shuren was amazed. They flew with such harmony!

“Watch this Sir Ruven!” Athar called out. He pulled back another arrow. He shot it and at the same time, Suxar let out a ball of flame that lit the arrow. Through the air the arrow flew on fire. It soared and lit hit another target as it extinguished.

“That’s amazing!” Shuren said as Suxar flew down. Lloyd nodded.

“Thank you Sir Ruven,” Athar said.

Shuren then remembered he had to meet back with the group. “Lloyd, we must go meet up with the group. They said we need to discuss something.”

“Okay, we must go Master Athar,” Lloyd said.

They departed and walked back into the mountain. They continued the way Shuren had come from. Before long, they were back at the room where everyone was waiting. Shuren felt his stomach quiver as he saw Karoline.

“Now everyone is here, we will discuss what to do next,” Rollan said as they sat down.

“Shuren please tell us what you discussed with Lord Zelzor,” Nina insisted.

“Um . . . Okay,” Shuren began, “Well basically he is going to teach me how to harness my power to the fullest. He told me that those Ingles we fought were called the Mawbryn and that Garland is at least ten times stronger.” Shuren looked around expecting everyone to be shocked, but they were not. They seemed to expect it.

Lloyd stood up. He glanced at everyone and said, “I will be training under Master Athar.”

Shuren looked at the Grundells in the room and said, “Well if there really is going to be a war, we are going to need a lot more help.”

“Then we will gather more troops,” said Ajek looking at Rojan. “We can go back to the Rebellion and gather the rest of the Ingles here.” Rojan nodded.

Karoline stood up from the wall she was leaning on and said, “I will go with you.”

Shuren felt a sudden burst of sorrow. “That will take months!” Shuren looked at the Ingles’ minds as they were made up “Karoline, why do you have to go? Shouldn’t Ajek and Rojan be enough?” Shuren said without thinking.

Karoline shot a glare at him. She felt as if he didn’t have the right to talk to her. “I will help my people,” she said cruelly.

“Well we will gather the rest of the Grundells for war,” said Zeal, referring to the other Grundells.

Strata looked at Wresta who seemed to be puzzled. Then Wresta asked, “Rollan, what will you be doing?”

Rollan was quiet for a moment. He looked as the whole room turned their attention to him. “I have business of my own to take care of. So it is decided, we will all depart for a while to do what we must for the war.”

Everyone in the room, nodded, and Shuren reluctantly did also.

“When we will this happen?” asked Strata.

“As soon as possible,” Karoline said.

“In two days we will depart,” said Linkouz sourly.

“I will ask Lord Zelzor if any Zelzes can accompany us on our journey,” said Rojan, “it will make our long journey less.”

“So I guess that means only Lloyd and I are staying at the mountain . . .” Shuren said gloomily.

Everyone nodded. Zeal stood up and said, “I will not unpack a lot.” He laughed bitterly.

Soon, the meeting was over, and it was well past sunset. Everyone had their own room, including Shuren. Each one of them had their own assistant to show them their rooms; Shuren had Catalina.

Shuren’s room was near the top of the mountain. It took quite a hike to reach so high. They were alone, but said nothing to each other. The silence was awkward. Shuren soon reached his room.

Inside was a stylish bed made of cotton. It was the first time Shuren had ever lain in cotton, but it was comfortable. In the room, his items were already unpacked and stored in closets. His scimitar was hung on the wall. On the walls were bookcases filled with books. Shuren was delighted to see so many. There was only one giant window, big enough for a Dragon to stick its head through. Outside the window was a flat surface that acted as a balcony. In the center of his room was a pool of water for bathing. The water was always warm as if it were enchanted.

As soon as he reached his room he jumped onto his bed and lay down comfortably. The cotton was able to support his weight as he jumped down onto it. He was exhausted from hiking so high up the mountain. He was sweaty and tired. For a moment he was afraid that Catalina was going to approach him, but she did not. She said goodbye and left Shuren alone.

Shuren stripped himself and dipped his body into the warm pool of water. He relaxed for a while and then began to scrub himself. Once he was clean he dried himself and put on a new pair of clothes.

He grabbed a fresh book from the bookcase and began reading. After an hour of reading, there was a knock at his door. Shuren told the person to enter. It was a Zelze with a tray of food; dinner.

Shuren hadn’t realized how hungry he was. He thanked her gracefully and ate. Halfway through his meal was another knock, this time, it was Karoline. Shuren was shocked to see her at his room. He wiped his mouth with a rag and told her to sit down.

“Would you like dinner?” Shuren asked.

She shook her head. She said nothing as she walked around the room. “This is quite a fancy room.”

Shuren nodded as he finished his meal. He got up and walked out onto the balcony. “Come out here Karoline,” Shuren called. Moments later, she stepped out of the window and looked at the view before her.

They were miles high in the air. Mountains surrounded Aela-Doria and past that was the Esanci River. To their far right was a huge waterfall that fell into a lake. The air was fresh and the waterfall was a pleasant sound.

The stars seemed bigger than usual that night. They were so high up the view was magnificent. The half moon shone abnormally bright. Shuren and Karoline had a perfect view of Oryk.

“It’s beautiful . . .” Karoline gaped.

“Yeah,” Shuren said. He looked at her as the moon lit half of her face and the other concealed in shadows. He stared at her until she looked back. Shuren suddenly stopped breathing; they were locked in a gaze. His mind was confused. “Get closer!” one side of his mind raged. “No, don’t!” the other screamed. His body was acting on its own. He was leaning toward her.

Karoline inhaled deeply. Shuren was inches away from her. Before he got any closer, she stopped him. Her two fingers were placed on his lips, ceasing him to move any further. “Shuren, don’t. I can’t . . .” she sighed. She turned around as her hair whipped Shuren’s face. She walked out of the room without another word.

Shuren was left bewildered. “Stupid Shuren!” he screamed at himself. He cursed and kicked the marble wall. He walked back inside and threw himself the bed. Frustrated, he fell asleep scowling himself.

Shuren woke up the next day fully rested. He was glad to have slept on a comfortable surface for once. He immediately sunk his body into the pool that was still warm.

Soon after he was dressed, he found his way to Zelzor’s room with his scimitar. He lifted his hand to knock, but before he could it opened. Zelzor stood before him smiling.

“Master Zelzor, I am here. So when we do begin my training?” Shuren asked bowing.

“We begin now,” he said as he walked out of his room.

Shuren followed him as he was led out of the mountain. They walked a series of bridges until they reached a flat surface next to the waterfall. It was a pleasant place to relax.

Zelzor walked to Shuren and asked him, “I assume the Gippies did not teach you any magic, or did Rollan?”

Shuren tried to recall a time when Rollan taught Shuren magic, but he didn’t. “No, no one did . . . “

“Then we will start by teaching you magic,” Zelzor said as he picked up a stone. “Magic is simply using your own energy to complete tasks. Your energy is like an invisible force than you can control. They can seep through any part of your body.” Suddenly, the stone began to float in mid air. “You see I am using my energy to lift the rock.”

“That’s amazing. Is it as simple as it looks?” Shuren asked, picking up a random stone.

“Try for yourself. Gather your energy to the palm of your hand and release it under the rock,” instructed Zelzor.

Shuren focused his inner energy to the palm of his hand. He released it under the rock as it vibrated in mid air. “I did it!” Shuren exclaimed. It stayed in mid air for only a moment, and then it plumped back into Shuren’s palm. Shuren felt a sudden tiredness.

Zelzor dropped the rock. Shuren stared at Zelzor to see what he was going to do.

“I see you yet to have control of your energy,” Zelzor said. He turned to the huge waterfall before them. He pointed his finger at it and said, “Once you are in control, you will be able to do small things such as this.” Suddenly, the flow of water stopped. The waterfall was halted in mid air. As each second pasted by, more and more water gathered up but did not fall.

Shuren was lost of words. Zelzor flicked his finger and the water descended and made a giant splash in the lake. The waterfall then began to flow again.

“Master, I noticed that you didn’t say any words for that spell,” Shuren began.

“That, Shuren, was not a spell. It was magic, but not a spell. To cast a spell you must focus your energy in a certain way, and speak the words appropriate,” Zelzor said. He levitated the rock to his palm again and said, “For instance. If I gather the energy to my palm, and use it as heat, and then say Ferina.” The rock melted in his very hand and turned to molten rock.

“Wow, I want to learn that,” Shuren said.

Zelzor said nothing back. He gathered more energy and said, “Aniref.” The molten rock suddenly hardened as steam rose from it. It became a solid rock again.

“I have another question. What language were you speaking when you did that spell?” Shuren asked.

“This language was of the Gippies,” Zelzor said.

It seemed familiar to him, but he was not sure. Shuren asked, “To do those spells, I am going to have learn different languages aren’t I?”

Zelzor nodded. “Each race has a different spell system. The Gippies usually use elemental spells to accomplish feats like melting and freezing. The Grundells normally use spells to enhance physical strength. The Ingles use dark magic such as summoning Sleepwalkers. The Zelzes are opposite and use white magic.”

Shuren took in the lesson he had just learned. He would have to practice different languages in order to boost his magical ability. Suddenly, he asked, “Master, what language Is Ruveneska under?”

Zelzor seemed taken back by this question. He paused for a moment before saying, “The Holy Language. It is an ancient language that consists of the most powerful spells ever cast. We will not get into discussion about that. As of now, focus on converting your energy into different things.”

“That is the Gippy magic system right?” Shuren asked picking up another rock.

Zelzor nodded. Shuren muttered the words that Zelzor used to melt the rock but nothing happened. He had to focus more.

While Shuren was training, Zelzor said, “In your room, I placed books of each language. I want you to study each one of them. For now, work on the Gippy language and we will change from there.”

Shuren nodded as he tried to melt the rock. He gathered every particle of energy and forced it into the rock as hot as he could. There was a small sizzle as a speck of smoke rose from the rock and then it did nothing else. Shuren swore and tried again.

The rest of the day was spent on melting a rock, which seemed to be pretty foolish to him; but he did not complain. By the end of the day, Shuren’s hand was burned from heated energy. He was so exhausted from using his energy that a Shuren had to be taken to his room by a Dragon and a Zelze.

When Shuren entered his room, he noticed that the water in his pool was replaced with fresh new water. He bathed and ate the tray of food that was recently brought to him. When he was finished, he walked to his bed where he found a stack of books, each one was a translator. He moaned; for once he was not eager to read. Reluctantly, he opened the book for the Gippy language.

In the middle of studying, there was a knock at his door. He opened it to find Lloyd.

“Lloyd, come in,” Shuren invited. Lloyd came in and looked around his room. “Do you know anything about the Grundell language?” Shuren asked solemnly.

Lloyd blinked at Shuren for a moment and said, “Yes of course, why do you ask?”

Shuren answered, “Master is making me study four languages so I can learn magic.”

“Oh, I can help you on that,” he said back.

Gracefully, Shuren said, “Great, I’ll become a full Ruven yet.”

Lloyd laughed. “Shuren, we must go see everyone before they head off.”

“I thought they were leaving tomorrow,” Shuren said blankly.

“Tomorrow morning, unless you want to wake up at dawn,” he said.

Shuren was shocked. He hadn’t anyone from the group the entire day. It was spent of training. “Let’s go.”

Shuren and Lloyd reached the main room in the mountain where everyone was. They all greeted each other. Shuren saw Karoline who seemed to be avoiding him. Shuren walked up to her and said, “Karoline, I’m sorry for what I did.”

She looked at him as if she was clueless. “No grudges.”

Shuren was relieved that Karoline didn’t detest him. “So you’re leaving tomorrow at dawn.”

“Yes, but I will be back, and with great numbers,” she said smiling.

“Don’t forget to train, by the time you get back I’ll be a lot stronger,” Shuren teased.

She giggled, “Don’t worry; my absence won’t be that long.”

Shuren went to the rest and said their goodbyes. Nina and Zeal were nearly in tears. Linkouz and Wresta gave tight bare hugs and Strata just gave them a handshake. Shuren spotted Rollan staring off into the distance. He walked up to him and asked, “So where are you going Rollan?”

“There is something I must do far away,” Rollan said entering another glare into the distance.

“I would like to know,” Shuren said.

“As of now, it is better if it remains secret,” Rollan said smiling.

Shuren glanced around. Everyone was about to leave, but not forever. They will come back and with help. “It’s for the war,” he thought to himself.

It was nighttime. Shuren said his final goodbyes before they went back to their rooms. Shuren struggled to fight away tears, but they came. He walked back to his room half sobbing.

The next morning, Shuren woke up to the sun gleaming in his face. He nearly came began to cry when he remembered that he was only left with Lloyd.

There was a knock at the door. Shuren answered it; it was Catalina. Shuren was timid to face her.

“Lord Zelzor wishes to train the same spot today,” Shuren informed.

Shuren thanked her, and then asked, “Hey Catalina, are there any other Gippies in Aela-Doria?”

She shook her head.

Shuren stared at her. His feelings for her did not change. She was still the girl from his dreams. Before he did anything, the thought of Karoline struck him. She eyed him with a grin. Shuren was apprehensive of her. She drew closer to him. Shuren was frozen. His mind was screaming, “Run away!” but his feet were frozen.

“It must be hard, training under such a powerful being such as Lord Zelzor,” she said nearing him.

“Uh . . . Yea it is. It’s just I am unfamiliar with so many languages,” Shuren said hesitantly.

She looked at him weirdly. Then she said, “Well I can tutor you in the Gippy language.”

Shuren was staggered. He needed a tutor, but Catalina? He needed to learn from a person more than a book, but what was Catalina up to? Before he knew it he said, “Sure that would be great.”

She smiled charmingly. She lifted her hand and placed it against his cheek. She kissed her fingers and placed her fingers on his cheek before departing. Shuren was left standing at his door astounded.

* * *

Shuren focused more on controlling his energy more than converting it. He was able to levitate a rock for a minute now. He continued to train with Zelzor for most of the day. After, he would relax in his room and study, usually falling asleep in the book.

The lessons with Catalina weren’t as horrible as he had expected. He spent most of her time teaching than she did seducing. She did occasionally flirt with Shuren and he found it hard to get on task. The lessons usually lasted an hour. She was far more powerful than he anticipated. He was surprised that she was able to lift all of the water in his pool and place it all back with every drop. After she demonstrated that, she showed him that heating the water was the same as heating a rock.

After a week with Zelzor, Shuren was able to melt the rock and freeze it back. Shuren was able to freeze and boil water. While training under the element of wind, Shuren was struck with a question.

“Master, can you use magic to kill an animal? Not like casting Ferina but using a killing spell.”

“Ah, I was waiting for that question,” Zelzor began. “These spells are not under any classification. They are just simple spells. Each race has developed them; many different ones come from different races.”

“Oh, I understand,” Shuren said. He barley understood what he was doing when was blowing the trees that grew on the mountain.

Without another word, he gathered his energy and blew it out at a nearby tree. The branches lunged back and forth from the gust. He was not nearly as powerful as Zelzor, but Zelzor said otherwise.

Zelzor was able to blow a boulder off of the mountain and levitate it back without breaking a sweat. Levitating the boulder was more than enough to make him collapse.

“When you are using your energy, you are wasting it. When you blow out, you are blowing out more energy with little power. But when I do it, I use less energy but with more power,” Zelzor informed. “Focus more on power.”

“Okay master,” Shuren said back. He took a deep breath. Shuren concentrated on using his energy more effectively. He inhaled while gathering energy. He muttered, “Dinwoa,” and blew out at the boulder before him. It jolted off of the cliff and into a free fall.

Zelzor smiled. “Try to catch it now,” he said quickly.

Shuren summoned the remainder of his energy and threw it at the boulder. An invisible force halted the boulder from falling. With all of his strength, he pulled the rock upward with his invisible force. Gradually, it got higher until it plumped at the edge of the cliff. Shuren fell to the ground out of exhaustion.

“Excellent job Shuren,” Zelzor congratulated. “You can rest for the remainder of today.” Soon after, Shuren was flown back to his room by Suxar and Athar. He relaxed in his pool and then fell asleep reading the Grundell language book Zelzor assigned.

A month had passed since they arrive at the mountain. Shuren’s build was now more muscular. His energy capacity seemed to increase also. He was able to stop the waterfall by then. Every day he would train with Zelzor until he was dismissed. After that he went to his room to relax and study.

The routine did not change. Shuren had been in Aela-Doria for more than two months. After the Gippy magic training was over after the first month, Shuren began to train on Grundell magic at the sparring grounds where he first saw Athar and Suxar. There Shuren worked on both physical magic and swordsmanship. He often battled with Lloyd who gave him a few lessons on archery.

Shuren did not see much of Lloyd the entire month. Whenever Shuren had free time Lloyd was busy. He was sure it was not training because Athar was not with Lloyd. What was he doing? It bothered Shuren for some time. When he did have free time, he always seemed paranoid with something.

Shuren was just about to go see Zelzor before he was stopped by Niance.

“Shuren,” Niance began, “Lord Zelzor said that he cannot train with you today. He said that he was busy with some things.”

“That is strange,” Shuren said with a grin. He was sure that it would have been a good reason for canceling. “Okay, thank you Niance.”

She bowed and walked away.

Shuren walked down to Lloyd’s room. It was locked, meaning he was not present.

“He is with Lord Zelzor,” said Athar from behind.

Shuren turned around and saw Athar was armed. “Why are you not with Lloyd?”

“Today you are my student,” he said handing him a bow.

That day, Shuren trained with Athar from the skies. He was a far greater archer than Lorica. Shuren even learned spells to enhance the arrow. He was able to make the arrow invisible and shift directions without losing speed.

Riding on Suxar was remarkable. It was hard to hold onto him, but he soared through the air with ease. Shuren did more flying than he did training with Athar. After three months of training with Zelzor, flying on Suxar seemed to make up for all of the harsh training.

Shuren was training with Zelzor at the sparring grounds. It was deserted. The sounds of metal clashing were absent, making Shuren’s senses feel naked.

A thought suddenly struck Shuren. They had been training for three months and he has yet done any Ruven training. “Master, we have been training for a while now, but I haven’t done any Ruven training.”

Zelzor paused. As if he expected it, he said, “But you have Shuren.”

“I have?”

“Yes you have. This entire time I was training you in the art of magic. Your skills have dramatically sharpened since when you arrive here,” Zelzor explained.

Shuren knew he was correct. His skills had increased greatly, but it did not seem to reflect on being a Ruven. “But master, all you’ve done is made me a powerful wizard.”

“Ah, but a Ruven is a powerful wizard. The Ruven is the spell castor of Ruveneska. The Ruven is a spell castor, a wizard.”

“But what does that have to do with using Ruveneska?” Shuren asked irritated.

“To cast Ruveneska you must have total control of your energy, and you must have to be able to convert your energy perfectly. I cannot stress how important your skills have to be perfect. You must use the spell one hundred percent correctly. If you accidentally convert your energy wrong just by a grain, something disastrous will happen,” Zelzor explained seriously.

Shuren looked at Zelzor for a moment, “Is it really that difficult?”

“Yes it is. I was forced to use it correctly. I was put under crucial circumstances so I had to use it,” he said.

Shuren was wide eyed. Zelzor seemed dead serious about Ruveneska. It was far more than he anticipated.

Suddenly, there was a loud Dragon roar. Shuren and Zelzor looked up to see a Zelze flying on a fierce black Dragon toward them. The Zelze was named Blayger who rode the female Dragon, Naran. Blayger landed before them abruptly, he jolted towards them.

“What is it Blayger?” Zelzor asked worried.

“My Lord an army approaches!” he said,

Shuren felt a sudden hope that it was Karoline and the others. He hadn’t seen them in so long, he was hopeful of their return. “Who is it?”

“It is Garland!” Blayger shrieked.

Terror struck Shuren’s inners. He began to tremble. Fear was shown across Zelzor’s face. “Explain to me what you saw,” Zelzor said.

“I was scouting with Naran until she spotted a large group a people. We hide behind a mountain and since she has better vision, she saw an army. Ingles, Trolls, Sleepwalkers Oughalds,” -Oughalds were monstrous creatures, the same size of Trolls but three times as dangerous. They were very intelligent and were rare to find in large pacts - “a whole lot of them!”

“How far away are they?” Shuren asked still trembling.

“Naran thinks about a day’s march. They had already passed the Esanci River.”

“How did they find our location?” Shuren asked.

“When you were attacked by the Mawbryn, they clearly saw which direction Athar and Suxar flew from,” Zelzor evaluated.

Shuren was horrified. “An army was approaching! We must fight!” “We must fight them!”

“I was afraid this might happen,” Zelzor frowned. “Blayger, go announce this to everyone! We must gather up everyone and fight! Tell everyone to prepare to for battle!”

Blayger nodded and flew away on Naran. Zelzor turned to Shuren and said, “Shuren, I have trained you well. I expect you to battle amongst us.”

Shuren smiled with pride, “I would not have it any other way.”

“Go prepare yourself for battle, they are a day’s march away, that’s a day to prepare!” ordered Zelzor.

Shuren ran back to his room to treat himself. He enchanted the pool of water how Catalina instructed and dipped him in. He felt a sudden sense of rejuvenation. Any strain or pain he had before was now gone; he felt wonderful. He jumped out of the pool and put on his underclothing. On his wall he noticed a battle outfit on display for him. He put it on quickly. It was magnificent armor. The tunic was as light as his normal shirt, but withstood a stab from a sword. His leggings were the same.

Shuren grabbed his scimitar and other weapons and then ran to the center room where the Zelzes gathered. Aela-Doria seemed to be calm. Zelzes reported to their appropriate area of the mountain and marched down to the field. Others flew Dragons above and stayed airborne.

Shuren ran to Zelzor who was already equipped and ready to battle. He was outside flying on a blazing red Dragon. Shuren took another glance at it. He realized it was the same Dragon who attacked Shuren before he met Karoline! He did not mention this. “The Demon Dragon, only ride able by Lord Zelzor himself,” he thought. It seemed content as Zelzor rode it.

“Hey, look over here Shuren!” Shuren heard someone called out.

Shuren turned to see Lloyd ready for battle.

“Are you ready Shuren? This is where your training pays off.” Lloyd said staring down the mountain as the Zelzes flew to the ground.

Shuren looked down also. He sighed and comprehended what was about to happen. “Lloyd, this is it. We’ve been training for three and a half months for this moment; the war.”

“Shuren,” said Zelzor from his right.

“Yes master?” Shuren replied to Zelzor. Lloyd looked at him also.

“Lloyd, fly with Athar and help him lead his army. Attack from the skies,” Zelzor instructed. He turned to Shuren and said, “Shuren, find a Zelze and lead your army to battle.”

Shuren was dumbfounded. “My army . . .?” Shuren questioned.

Zelzor pointed across the field to a large number of Zelzes flying, awaiting his command. That was Shuren’s army.