Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review: F in Exams by Richard Benson

F in Exams: The Best Test Paper Blunders
by Richard Benson
127 pgs.


We've all been there. You've been studying hard, the day of the BIG test arrives, you turn over the paper, and 'what the *&%@ does that mean?!'

Not a clue.

This book is packed full of hilarious examples of the more creative ways that students have tackled those particularly awkward exam questions.


With only five days of high school left, and a spate of finals right around the corner, I needed to read something to help calm my nerves. As soon as I spotted F in Exams, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.

The book is a short collection including very real and very wrong (but laugh out loud hilarious) answers in a variety of subjects, including Chemistry, Biology, History, Math, English, and more. The student's answers will have you chuckling at their wittiness and cleverness that I would have marked as correct if I was their teacher. One of my favorite's was the following excerpt from the Psychology section:

Question: Describe what is meant by "forgetting."

Answer: I can't remember.

If you're looking for something quick, light, and hilarious to read, F in Exams is the perfect book to pick up. It is chalk full of witty answers that will have you laughing to yourself. Trust me, it's the perfect books for students, teachers, or anyone that could never find x in a math problem.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Favorite Classics

You know what really sucks? Senior year. AP classes, college apps, scholarships, FAFSA, regular classes, homweork, my school's Senior Project, sleep (if you're lucky), and spending time with friends (almost non-existent). As you can tell my blog has taken a back burner these last few months, simply because I haven't had the time to read any books. Scratch that, books that are not required to read.

However, I thought I'd talk about some of the books most of us are required to read in school.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Favorite Quote: "In two weeks it'll be the longest day in the year... Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it."

The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, and has come to be seen as a magnificnent representation of the Jazz Age. The novel relates the story of the life and lost love of Jay Gatsby--as told by Nick Carraway. It is far from my favorite classic, but I love the language of the novel. It isn't complex language, but it is beautiful. Fitzgerald had a way with stringing words together and creating emotion simply through his sentences. He was an a,azing writer and I think everyone should pick this novel up and read it at least once in their life.

Read it for: AP Language and Composition, Junior Year

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Favorite Quote: "It ain't that big. The whole United States ain't that big. It ain't that big. It ain't big enough. There ain't room enough for you an' me, for your kind an' my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For hunger and fat."

The Grapes of Wrath is a novel writen by John Steinbeck. Published in 1939, the novel centers around the Joads, a family of sharecroppers, who journey to California to find a new life during the Dust Bowl. While the novel is one of the longer books I have ever read, it is one of my all-time favorites. The novel worked so well because as a reader you could relate to the Joads and the terrible hardhsips they faced on their way to California. Every loss was a loss I felt with them. It is an emotionally draining novel, but any story that can make you experience such emotions is one everyone should read.

Read it for: AP Language and Composition, Junior Year

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Favorite Quote: "I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by and by into our lives."

One of Dicken's most widely read works, A Tale of Two Cities is a novel set in the backdrop of the French Revolution. I grew to love this one over time, but I also resented it in a way. I had to write 5 college-level essays analyzing the historical, biographical, gender, and close-reading influences on the novel. Once you disect a book to that degree, it loses its impact. This is one I wish I could have read on my own, and not as homework.

Read it for: AP Literature and Composition, Senior Year

What were some of your favorite required reading in high school or college? What about your least favorites?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Contest Craze - Top 5 of 2011

Princess Bookie--as most of you already know--is having a mini-challenge naming our top five wanted books of 2011. I was planning on doing a post like this anyways, so here it is! Also, you may notice a trend in these books. In that all of them are mostly dystopian/post-apocalyptic. I can't help what I like!

5. The Water Wars by Cameron Stratcher

Release Date: January 1st, 2010

Short Summary: In a future where water is more precious then oil or gold, a brother and sister must face water pirates, guards, and government to save their friend and save themselves.

Why I want it: The cover. The plot. Plus, what looks like a story with a great sister/brother relationship. I feel like YA doesn't have enough stong sibling relationships, at least not one's that take center stage.

4. Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

[Cover not available]

Release Date: 2010

Short Summary: In which a teenage girl struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic New York City.

Why I want it: The story is very vague as of now, but what I've heard of it, I love! Plus New York City is so crazy already, who knows what it would be like in a post-apocalyptic setting.

3. All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

[Cover not available]

Release Date: 2011

Short Summary: Set in a dystopian future where chocolate and caffeine are contraband, teenage cellphone use is illegal, and water and paper are carefully rationed, the series relates the ascension and ultimate downfall of 16-year old Anya Balanchine, the heir apparent to an important and dangerous New York City crime family.

Why I want it: I've read both of Gabrielle Zevin's other books, and while I liked them both, I think this would could easily become my favorite. If you haven't already noticed a trend, I'm all about the plot, and if it's dystopian, I can dig it.

2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

[Cover not available]

Release Date: [date not specified] 2011

Short Summary: A satire about a group of teen beauty queens whose plane crashes on a deserted island

Why I want it: Ok, confession time. I've never read anything by Libba Bray. I know, I know. She's apparently amazing, but none of her books have ever appealed to me. BUT THEN I found out about Beauty Queens, which the plot sounds unbelievably amazing. I love anything that has to do with deserted islands and surviving in a place out of one's element. Bring it on.

1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: February 1st, 2010

Short Summary: Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Why I want it: I LOVED LOVED LOVED Before I Fall. The writing was beautiful, and as soon as I put it down I could not wait for Laure Oliver's next book. I was ecstatic to find out about Delirium. The plot is fantastic and I need something to fill my dystopian addiction now that Mockingjay has come and gone. I envy everyone who has already gotten to read this.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Favorites (4)

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Summary of The Hunger Games (from Goodreads):

In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.

Where do I even begin to talk about this series? They're New York Time Bestseller's for a reason. I read the first one in two days, the second one in one day, and the third one in about 7 hours. The plot is intense and full of action. The characters are thought-provoking. The setting depressing and harsh. The prose is grim, and perfect for that reason. I loved Katniss. I loved Peeta. I came to care for characters I wouldn't have thought I'd like; like Haymitch and Finnick. And more than anything, I loved how happy I was to be in this world that Collins' created. I feel lucky just to have had the experience of reading these books. I recommend this series to basically to everyone who has yet to read it (do those people even exist?). This is one of my all-time favorite series. Actually, it is my all-time favorite series.
Also, I know there are a million reviews of Mockingjay floating around, so I think I'll hold off on writing a review for a while. Maybe I'll even wait until I re-read the series, just so I can truly sort out how I felt about the last book.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review: My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman

My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman
Published September 29th, 2009
Hardcover, 240 Pages

Book Description (from Goodreads)

With Roz and Eva everything becomes a contest—who can snag the best role in the school play, have the cutest boyfriend, pull off the craziest prank. Still, they’re as close as sisters can be. Until Eva deletes Roz from her life like so much junk e-mail for no reason that Roz understands. Now Eva hangs out with the annoyingly petite cheerleaders, and Roz fantasizes about slipping bovine growth hormone into their Gatorade.

Roz has a suspicion about Eva. In turn, Eva taunts Roz with a dare, which leads to an act of total insanity. Drama geeks clamor for attention, Shakespearean insults fly, and Roz steals the show in Lauren Bjorkman’s hilarious debut novel.

My thoughts:

My high school theater experience begins and ends at props crew for The Crucible during my sophomore year. However, I've been best friends with many of those in the drama circle for years. I know the inside jokes, the backstage shenanigans, and I know that everyone involved in the plays is like family to one another. It's the perfect backdrop for such a hilarious and touching story.

The main character, Roz, is a likable narrator from the start. Smart, sarcastic, and witty. And like many high school girls, she makes unwise choices and puts herself in complicated situations. She invents a new "life" both in a way to stretch her acting ability and to try and grow close to her sister, Eva. In the process, she befriends new boy Jonathan, and finds herself growing closer to fellow drama geeks Nico and Andie. Not to mention Eva's boyfriend, Bryan.

In a novel filled with twists and turns, witty language, and Shakespearian insults, how could you go wrong? As soon as I turned the last page, I wanted to read it once again. Lauren Bjorkman is an author to watch out for. She draws you in, and you will not want to let go.

5 Stars.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I love my city (a love post for Portland)

I live in Portland, Oregon.

To me, it is an amazing place to live, despite often being called the "most depressing city"--presumably because of the weather. I think a lot of people assume that it is always raining and cold in Portland, which would not be true. Today it was eighty degrees and clear. But, in all honesty, it does rain a lot. Portland has what many of my friends call "bipolar weather" where it is sprinkling at one moment, and sunny the next. I do not see Portland as depressing, but an exciting adventure.

Why do I love this city? Let me count the ways.

+ The most unique shops

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Portland is the hole-in-the-wall shop Voodoo Doughnuts. No, seriously, it is a hole in the wall. The location downtown is no larger than one's kitchen, and usually has a line of 30 people outside the building at any time. But, it's worth it. And there have been two new locations that have opened up that are far less crowded. The main attraction at this delicious store is the Bacon Maple Bar--a raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and a slice of bacon on top.

Don't judge it before you take a bite. It's delicious.

There is also a sweet place downtown called Sock Dreams. Let me make this clear, it is a store dedicated to SOCKS! What is better than that? Not to mention all the awesome Vintage and Used clothing stores such as Crossroads Trading Company, Avant Garden, Magpie, Little Evie's Five and Dime, and way too many more to list.

+ The scenery

Portland has been referred to as the most environmentally friendly city in the United States and the second most in the world. We measure how nice of a day it is by how well you can see Mt. Hood. The beach and the mountains are both located within hours of the city. Multnomah Falls is breathtaking, and the perfect tourist destination.

+ The Food.

I can't really talk about how amazing some of the restraunts are over here. Even the food at Saturday Market is delicious. By the way, if anyone reading this has never eaten an Elephant Ear (no, not an actual elephant ear), let me know, because that is a tragedy.

My favorite restraunt? Montage. Not even for the food, although there macaroni and cheese is remarkably good, but because they package the leftovers so beautifully.

I try my hardest to not eat my food when I go there. I still remember the adorable duck I got the first time I ate there.

+ Transportation

To go along with being the "greenest city" in America, there are several options on how to get to where you need to go in this city. First off, biking is not only convenient but a beloved hobby by many that live on Portland. I doubt you will see less than 50 different bikers after being downtown for less than an hour.

We even have a naked bike ride, but I'll let you look at those pictures on your own.

Also, I can't forget the MAX (short for Metropolitan Area Express) light rail system, which connects the city and suburbs.

+ The used bookstores

Oh, how lucky I am to be a book lover in one of the bookish cities in America.

Powell's Books is a beloved favorite by many Portlanders and tourists alike. It's the largest independent used bookstore in America, and occupies a full city block. It contains over 68,000 square feet (1.6) acres of retail floor space.

Everytime I go in, I fall back in love. However, there are other places I like to go while shopping for books, especially when I don't want to spend as much as I do at Powell's.

I enjoy Title Wive Used Books, and buy from them often. Basically, Tital Wave is where they sell the books that have been taken out of circulation from the Multnomah County Libraries. Hardbacks are usually two dollars and paperbacks are even less. It's like heaven, if heaven was a bookshop (which it is, in my mind).

Of course this is only scraping the barrel about what is great about Portland. Many would mention the rose gardens, OMSI, the popular brewery's, and the like. But as a 17 year old, none are large interests points. Even though the rose gardens are beautiful.

Thanks for your time. I hope you liked seeing a bit of my city.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Review: Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine by Dave Cullen
Published April 6th 2009
Hardcover, 417 pages

Description (Book Jacket)

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave "a lasting impression on the world." Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence-irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting "another Columbine."

When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window-the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the Columbine prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the first complete account of the Columbine High School massacre.

In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, Columbine is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers--an unforgettable cautionary tale for our time.

My thoughts:


Going into Columbine, I knew it wasn't going to be an easy read; And honestly, it wasn't. There were many times when I just needed to set the book down and take a breath. That's how I knew that this book was special, for it touched me in a way other books had not in a very long time.

The author, Dave Cullen, spent ten years covering Columbine, and he thoroughly knew his stuff, which made for a compelling read. The reaccounting of this massacre could have been disasterous if in another reporters or writers hand. I can picture a book filled with numerous pages berating the killers and their families for all the pain they caused. This is not that book. Instead, this book takes on a fresh perspective, one not riddled with judgement, but instead filled with analytical and comprehensive thoughts on the massacre, the killers, and the cover-up.

This isn't just the story of what happened at Columbine Hogh School on April 20, 1999. It delves in much deeper, focusing on what led to that fateful day, and the aftermath that millions witnessed firsthand. Whether you followed what happened at Columbine for years, or this is your first exploration into the massace, you will find what you are looking for in this exceptional book that will touch you in ways you can not imagine.

I can not reccomend this book highly enough.