Saturday, December 4, 2010
1. Do any of the characters in this book relate to people in history? What are the comparisons?
Let me preface this by saying with fantasy it can be difficult to follow characters, locations, and the what the world is like in general if you have not read the book but bear with me. Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov is the first in a trilogy of fantasy epics that follow master thief Shadow Harold in his journey to Hrad Spein, a centuries old tomb for humans, elves, dwarves, and ogres encased in a mountain that has been sealed for centuries, and all recent expeditions to it have not returned. Shadow Harold has made his living stealing valuable goods for other people for many years. The book begins with Shadow Harold taking a job from his friend, an owner of a bar for people outside the law, that seems easy enough. However, after Harold is captured by the city guard he realizes that the job was much more then it seemed. It turns out the the King set Harold up in order to recruit him to go to Hrad Spein to find an artifact that is the key to saving the kingdom from destruction by the hand of the book's villain, The Nameless One, who has begun stirring again in the northern wastes after centuries of inactivity. The rest of the book follows Harold as he prepares for his treacherous journey, and Harold realizing the gravity of the situation as assasains and members of a previously unknown cult are suddenly after his life. From the Forbidden Territory in the center of the capital city, an area desecrated by misuse of magic where the dead walk and spirits run free. To gaining the company of an Elfin princess and ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in the world, and of his traditional nemesis in the castle guard for his journey. Harold also faces a demon who will suck out his bone marrow if Harold does not get something for the demon. On his journey Harold battles with fatigue, exhaustion, unknown magic, horrible monsters, and his lingering mental reservations about the journey that he considers to be basically a suicide mission. Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov is everything you want from a fantasy epic, great characters, magic, a classic theme, monsters, and a teeming, vibrant world. If you are a fan of high fantasy I greatly recommend this book. This book is the only fantasy book that has held my attention as well as The Wheel of Time series, in my opinion the best fantasy series ever created (yes better than Lord of the Rings).
1) In the book the captain of the city guard is forced to work with Shadow Harold by the order of the king. The captain is apprehensive and has trouble trusting Harold as Harold is a known thief, lier, and killer. Do you think you could work effectively and fight alongside someone who you knew has committed several serious offenses, such as the ones described above? Why or why not?
2) Harold could have run away from the King and his request and lived a comfortable life in the country, but he didn’t even though he regards the quest as madness, and has never thought of himself as a hero. What makes people do things like this? A sense of duty? Money? Have you ever done something like this?
Friday, December 3, 2010
A Man Named Dave, by Dave Pelzer, is a conclusion to the novels A Child Called "It" and The Lost Boy. The novel starts off with a flashback to David's childhood. One of Dave's encounters with his mother is expressed by "a jolting thud strikes the side of my neck. My knees buckle as I turn inside the doorway..." (Pelzer 8). It reviews how he was beaten by his mother and how other children treated him. The novel then proceeds to talk about his life with his foster family. When he was in foster care, he worked because he knew he would need money later in his life. He was different than most kids who played on the playground and had friends. Then, David turns eighteen and wants to start his own life. He ends up quitting high school, but he obtains his GED by himself and enlisting into the Air Force. While in boot camp, David has many nightmares about his mothers abuse, which makes him stay up all night to prevent him from waking up in a screaming fit. His dream is to become a firefighter just like his father. "The only thing that mattered was Father's badge," states Dave (Pelzer 66). The main thing he cherished and looked up to his father for was him being a firefighter. David did not have the skills and education to become a firefighter; therefore, he went to college. Once college was completed for him, his papers became lost and he was not able to obtain his dream. Soon after, David finds out that his father has become ill with cancer and is going to pass away soon. He goes home to see his father before he passes. Dave's real mother acts like she is devastated by Dave's father's illness; however, she will not visit him. Since Dave's father is no longer alive, he does not have a reason to earn his money. He wanted to earn money, so he could buy his father a house since he was homeless. Finally, he feels like he has something to live for when he enters a team of cooks within the Air Force. When he returns to the Air Force, he meets a woman who becomes his wife. David ends up asking her to marry him once he finds out she is pregnant. No one really supports their marriage. Since David's job was very time consuming, he had little time to spend with his wife and children. This caused tension between them two and lead to their divorce. Both his wife and Dave found new people to live their lives with and Dave was able to still see his child at any free time he had. Dave always had a fear that he would turn into an abusive father, like his mother was and he did not like that thought. Throughout the novel, Dave goes back home many time to visit his abusive mother and his grandmother, which both give him an uneasy feeling. All of the actions that occurred in Dave's life added up and taught him to leave his past behind him and to trust and love others in the present. The novel teaches that forgiveness is key, because if people do not forgive, then their other relationships may be affected. David had a hard time forgiving his mother, which lead to distrust in his marriage which led to their divorce too.
1)David had a hard time moving on with his life, because he still had not forgave his mother. His distrust in his mother, led to him having distrust in others too. Until he forgave his mother, he had altered the way he treated his wife due to his emotions still rattled by his mothers actions. Do you think that peoples past affect their future greatly? Why is it hard for many people to let go of their past?
2)David’s father was a role model to him and when David saw his father struggling, he wanted to do everything to help him. Do you have someone in your life who you would give up anything for? If so, who and why?
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Suzy Favor-Hamilton is a female Olympic runner and motivational speaker; she is arguably the best middle-distance runner in the entire United States. However, one of her most defining moments as a person in my opinion occurred during one of her Olympic races. She was expected to win the race with little difficulty; but unfortunately, she dropped out with only a very short distance left to go. After she had finished, she attributed her inability to finish to the fact that she simply was not ready. However, she later confessed that the actual reason behind her collapsing and dropping out of the race was that as soon as she slipped from first place to second to third to not even medaling, she simply could not handle the defeat and the fact that she was expected to win and had failed to do so. She told people that the reason that possessed her to do such a thing was due to all of the stress that was building up in her personal life, and the expectation to win only added to that stress. I think this is truly remarkable for her to come clean like this; not many people would be willing to tell the truth in this situation, so it says a lot about her character. Her motive for writing this book was that she wanted to share training and nutrition secrets of her own that have allowed her to become so successful in her career in order to help young female runners improve in their own careers, regardless of their level or ability. This book is targeted to female runners, but I think it has many valuable lessons that can be applied to both men and woman in various sports. Suzy won eleven state titles in high school and was named one of the top 100 high school athletes of the century. Additionally, she became the most decorated female collegiate athlete at the University of Wisconsin which is where she attended college. Here she won nine NCAA championships and four Big Ten Athlete of the Year Awards which are now referred to as the Suzy Favor awards in her honor. Furthermore, she is a three-time Olympian and holds seven U.S. National Championships. She still runs today in Wisconsin where she lives with her family. She wrote this book as she was preparing herself for the 2004 Summer Olympics; she worked with a man named Jose Antonio, Ph.D., an exercise and sports nutrition scientist, who helped Suzy write this book. The book is divided into various sections, all of which target a specific aspect of the sport ranging from nutrition to advice for the actual race day. She talks about varying the severity of work outs and when it is important to rest so as to prevent overtraining which she accredits to being a common source of injuries. Suzy also talks about the positives of cross training which she is a firm believer in; cross training is training an athlete does that it is outside of the norm of their sport in order to target other muscles that are not used as frequently in his or her primary sport. For instance, two great examples of cross training for runners is swimming and bicycling; both relieve stress on the joints of a runner that are often overworked. Also, she talks about the positives and negatives in relation to strength training, stretching and various other non-running related exercises. She talks about her own life experiences both on and off the track in order to persuade young runners from making the same mistakes she made, mistakes that are typical of young runners. Suzy goes on to talk about the benefits of her specialized diet plan and the reasons why a good diet is so crucial for runners. Suzy’s experiences of competing at the highest, most prestigious level of sports in addition to Jose Antonio’s immense amount of knowledge regarding exercise and nutrition science allow for this book to truly reach out to both the highly competitive and leisurely runner while providing valuable lessons that can virtually be applied to any sport.
1) If you were in Suzy’s position during the Olympic race where she dropped out, what do you think you would have done? If virtually everyone in the world was expecting you to win, how would you have handled that pressure when you knew you were not going to win? Would you have confessed as she did?
2) Suzy is obviously a very successful runner, yet she is possibly one of the nicest, most down to earth people you will ever meet (I had the chance to meet with her). Why do you think this is? Most exceptionally successful athletes are often very cocky and full of themselves. Why is she so willing to share all of her secrets regarding nutrition and running?
3)Do you think this book would help you at all? Do you think it’s important that even for those who are not runners or not involved in sports to be familiar with this type of lifestyle and the hardships that come with being so passionate about something like a sport? Is there a universal message relating to work ethic, etc?
Monday, November 29, 2010
1. At the end of the novel, Clare realizes that not being present during the majority of the first few months of the twins’ life has had an impact on her children. The babies both recognize Jenna as their prime caretaker and develop a deep connection with the nanny over their mother. Clare, however, still feels completely obligated to continue her overbearing involvement in the business world. The choice between building relationships or following her passion becomes excruciatingly difficult. If you were forced to chose between what you are passionate about or the relationships in your life, what would you chose and why?
2. Although Jenna never gets emotionally involved with Clare’s husband, Clare continuously wonders if Jenna and Marc are hiding an affair as Marc becomes more and more distant. As Marc becomes secretive, Clare and Jenna also become closer. Clare sometimes wonders if Jenna’s supposed trustworthiness is an attempt to cover the truth. Would you ever allow someone, such as a nanny, to become so intimately involved in your family relationships? Would you be willing to trust that your spouse is remaining faithful despite the incessant temptation present in your household?
1. If, like Izzy, you had to go through something like this and lose a limb, how do you think you would you deal with it? Would you even be able to?
2. Sometimes people find friends in the most unusual places and those new friends aren't always the type of people they would normally want to be around. Have you ever become friends with someone who didn't really fit the description of someone you would normally be friends with? If not, would you ever consider befriending someone who seems "weird" to you?
While this is going on in the story, Bella tells Edward that she misses her best friend Jacob, the werewolf and she would like to see him. Even though Edward does not like the idea of Bella being around Jacob, he permits it. Jacob however kisses Bella and tells her that he loves her and wants her to leave Edward for him. Bella responds by punching Jacob in the face, and breaking her hand.
With the battle coming soon, the Cullens ask the werewolfs for help defending the girl both sides love, Bella. The two opposing sides join forces and go over battle tactics weeks before the war. The night before, Bella is taken up into the mountains with nboth Edward and Jacob. The two men are at opposing sides all night and even right before the battle. Jacob, the next morning threatens to join the battle and die if Bella does not kiss him willingly; while kissing him, Bella realizes she is in love with him as well. Victoria soon tracks Bella's scent in while the battle is raging and fights Edward to the death. Victoria ends up dead and the rest you will have to read the book to know.
Hint: There is a special surprise of an engagemnet between Bella and one of the boys she loves.
Questions: 1) Do you believe that it is possible to love two people at once?
2) Do you think it was fair for Bella to allow both clans/families risk
their lives for her?
3) Would you be willing to die for someone you thought you loved?
Sunday, November 28, 2010
1. How would you feel if you received a message from someone you cared about that you thought had passed away as Margot did to Alex?
2. Without giving away the ending, Alex discovers the secret of what had happened the night of his wife’s “murder.” The ending of the novel involves family secrets, how would you feel if a family member kept something hidden from you?
1. If you received something that was reasonably hard to open, would you go through all the hassle to open it, or would you forget about it and move on? explain your answer.
2. What do you consider to be the meaning of life?