Thursday, August 10, 2017

BOOK REVIEW : Shatter Me By Tahereh Mafi BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : Shatter Me
By Tahereh Mafi
       BY SULPHIA IQBAL



MY THOUGHTS
I did not know I could hate a book this much, but apparently I can. Shatter Me, unlike the praise it’s received, was in my opinion a disappointment to YA fantasy. I was astonished to see this was the same Shatter Me that got so much praise in the last six years.

The novel is told from the perspective a girl named Juliette (AKA WORST YA CHARACTER EVER) whose touch can inflict pain on her victims (HMMM sounds familiar ) . She’s locked up in this asylum with other delinquents, closed off from the rest of the world. Conveniently, this is a good thing because the rest of the world is pretty much more hellish than her cell. There’s a shortage of food, a necessity to kill off people who aren’t worthy enough , and writing is banned ( so basically like many of those dystopia out there ).

Anywho, my biggest problem with this book like was the prose. When reading a book, I usually don’t pay attention to the writing style, but that was only because it’s never been a problem. As Emily May put it, ¨This is not a dystopia, it is a romance. This is not a novel, it is a collection of similes and metaphors, most of which do not make sense,”. For example:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.

In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

And that’s nice and all until you get to things like:

“I'm oxygen and he's dying to breathe.”   (GAG)

The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I'm so delirious I actually dare to believe it.”  ( do you really, though ? )

“His eyes are two buckets of rainwater: deep, fresh, clear. Hurt.”

“My body is a carnivorous flower, a poisonous houseplant, a loaded gun with a million triggers and he's more than ready to fire.” ( ??????????)
"Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into semblance of something too passive to punch." ( This actually makes no sense )

“Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never, ever sleeps.”

AND THERE’S MORE. I’m not exaggerating when I say there is more of this than there is plot. If I ever meet this author, I’d like to remind her that she is writing a YA fantasy novel, not some try-hard poetry book.

Another problem I had were the characters and the storyline. The story starts out with an imprisoned Juliette describing her time at the asylum until this new guy Adam moves in. Soon after, Juliette is bailed out and it turns out Adam has been working with the “bad guys” this whole time. Except he, “unlike” the rest of the “bad guys” * COUGH COUGH WALTER*, doesn’t hate her at all. Despite barely knowing each other ( other than being in the same class in the fifth grade or whatever excuse Mafi used ), they are under the belief that they  are“completely in love” and run off together from the “bad guys”.

Little did they know.

And remember how I said her touch is fatal? Conveniently, the only two people that rule doesn't apply to are the love interests, and there are no explanations as to why. Then again I didn’t finish the book so maybe it was in there...Honestly, it was just another really stupid excuse by Mafi to include the romance and the love triangle.

Walter, a “big baddie” ( these quotations are very deliberate by the way )  who tries to make Juliette’s life a “living hell” by forcing her to use her powers on him, plays one of the love interests. As a character in novel, he’s rather empty. Like, in other books, the girl gets to know the guy yada yada yada and the relationship is deliberate. Here, it’s like Mafi added in this guy last minute and was like “ hey just be the bad boy Juliette falls in love with and the fans will be all over you,”. And Walter isn’t even like those bad boy YA characters that you kinda just fall in love with in other YA; no - Walter is a psychotic stupid excuse of a villain-turned-lover. You know something is wrong when you’re kinda rooting for the bad guys side in a book.

Last but not least, what is this author’s deal with crossing things out????? I’m guessing she thought it made her book look more poetic but for me, it was a nuisance.

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I'm more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back”

“His lips soften into a smile that cracks apart my spine. He repeats my name like the word amuses him. Entertains him. Delights him.

In seventeen years no one has said my name like that”

I guarantee this book will actually make you go crazy, for better or worse ( though I cannot possibly see the former being true .) I checked out all three books in the series from the library with genuine expectations for this book.  I heard the making a tv show out of it *HELP US GOD*. I’m hoping it will be better to watch than to read, though I highly doubt it.

Check it out at the library ( I recommend one book at a time ) and goodreads :


RATINGS: ⅖ and DNF

BOOK REVIEW : To Catch A Killer By Sheryl Scarborough BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : To Catch A Killer
By Sheryl Scarborough
      BY SULPHIA IQBAL


MY THOUGHTS
It’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a contemporary mystery after the Mara Dyer Trilogy and A Study In Charlotte, which kinda set the bar high, but To Catch A Killer wasn't half bad.

When Erin Blake was a toddler, her mother was murdered right before eyes and she, oblivious as to what actually happened, managed to survive three days alongside the corpse. As her “Aunt” becomes more and more determined not to talk about her mother, Erin becomes more and more obsessed with finding her mother’s murder and who her father was ( who she suspects might be the same person ).

Erin’s bio teacher decides to help Erin in finding out the identity of her father by doing a DNA test. When Erin goes to her teacher’s house late at night, she is shocked to find her dead in a pool of blood. She’s also shocked to see one of her classmates running away from the scene when she sees him. Naturally, her first suspect is him and naturally, against the wishes of the police and her “Aunt” , she is determined to find out who her teacher's murder was, especially after realizing it was the same person who killed her mother.

A lot of things in the novel were oddly convenient. Like, conveniently  a string from the same shirt her mother wore when she had died had accidently dropped in Journey’s, the classmate, van, allowing Erin to realize the connection between the two cases. Conveniently, Erin’s aunt’s best friend and boyfriend are police officers, her uncle an FBI agent, and her best friend’s dad a lawyer. Conveniently, Erin had access to the special computers in the Police Department because her aunt worked there. HMMMM…not done on purpose at all.

Erin repeatedly defies letting the professionals such as police officers, detectives, and FBI agents handle the investigating. That’s not really very accurate ( or safe mind you ), but I mean come on it’s a book for young adults, so I let it slide.

ALSO, I secretly enjoy tough cases where I’m not able figure out who the culprit is because that tells me it’s a good mystery ( except in Sherlock Holmes because if I CAN, I’ve accomplished the impossible ). In this case ( no pun intended ), I was able to figure who the big baddie was like, 30 % into the book and that was kinda disappointing.

I’ve loved mystery and forensics since God knows when. Reading about Erin solving tiny mysteries like whether a guy a cheated on other girl with lipstick chromatography and hair analysis with home-based materials made me no joke research for a straight hour forensic labs activities I could do at home : ) Hopefully it’ll make you want to do the same.

A contemporary mystery that I recommend more for the middle grade, younger young adults, and anyone loves a good quick mystery.
Check it out at the library and goodreads :


RATINGS: 4/5

BOOK REVIEW : The Jewel By Amy Ewing BY SULPHIA IQBAL

BOOK REVIEW : The Jewel
By Amy Ewing
      BY SULPHIA IQBAL



MY THOUGHTS
To me, The Jewel was as good as Shatter Me. That is, not very good at all. Maybe even worse. Is it just me or are dystopias becoming less and less dystopia and more and more cheesy barf-worthy romance??? I come to read a dystopia and what do I get ? * sigh *

Reading The Jewel  felt like reading something that wanted so hard to be like the Hunger Games and the Selection, except with a society where nobles can’t have normal pregnancies, no world-building ( The places are named THE FARM, THE MARSH, and etc for heaven's sake ) , instalove (blech), and characters named afters colors ( because that’s soooo meaningful ).

Violet ( and that’s ok name until you get to characters like Ash, Ochre, Hazel, Sable, Violet, Raven, Cobalt, Crow, Ginger ) is raised to become surrogate to one of the nobles due to the fact the latter are unable to give birth to children. Each of the surrogates ( there are 200 ) are prepared to be sold at a surrogate auction and are ranked in order of most prized, talented, and beautiful, and our beloved MC Violet is of course ranked high up there - #197 - because she’s completely perfect in every way. She’s soon bought by the Duchess of the Lake, one of richest and most popular of the nobles, who basically  treats her like she's trash, which sums up how all the nobles treat their surrogates. This takes up more than half the book.

The nobels in this book are seriously crae-crae. You see, surrogates are deliberately chosen to produce an offspring who would prove to beneficial to the families in sealing alliances through betrothals. Therefore, the nobles are very specific as to what gender the child is to become so they can grow up and marry the match made between families at birth. In order to match their child and only their child with another baby boy or girl, these nobels are willing to poison and kill each other’s surrogates in order to eliminate any potential competition.

Unfortunately, the characters are flat-out boring and empty. Violet, heck none of the characters actually go through character development. Violet is not really a relatable character because she’s constantly portrayed as this perfect person who’s beautiful, a great cello player, and crazy good at changing colors with her touch ( yeah that’s a thing in this book ) .

And what made me ultimately quit on this book? ASH. When she first meets him she’s like

"’I've never met anyone like you before,’ I say.”

And then a few hours later she’s like

‘I stare at my reflection - pink cheeks, tiny smile, bright eyes... the girl in the mirror looks truly happy, for the first time.

I've never thought much about kissing, but the idea of Ash's….I giggle”

THAT’S IT, RIGHT? IT CAN’T GET WORSE. Except it can because by the third encounter they’re professing their love.

Please tell me this is not what I’m going to get in my next dystopia

; (


Check it out ( if you want to see this for yourself ) at the library and goodreads :


RATINGS: 1/5

All About Iphone 8 by Raj Joshi

All About Iphone 8 by Raj Joshi

2017 will be the 10th anniversary of the debut of the iPhone! It is device that most teens use and care very much about. For this special occasion, Apple has something major planned. Though we have about a month to go until the launch of the iPhone 8, there have been a plethora of rumours flying around about the impressive features coming in the new iPhone.

  • New Design- Apple is aiming to radically redesign the new iPhone. One of the biggest feature is the edge-to-edge display that takes out the top and bottom bezels where the Touch ID and the front-facing camera were housed on previous models. Instead, rumors say that Touch ID will either be built into the display or eliminated entirely in favor of facial recognition technology. Whether it keeps Tough ID or not, there will be no physical Home button on the iPhone 8. There will probably be a small bezel for the front-facing camera.

  • New Display- The display itself is said to be made from a flexible plastic called OLED, ditching the former LCD screens allowing the iPhone to be thinner, consume less power, and have richer colors.

  • New Body- The body of the iPhone is getting a major upgrade- Apple is moving away from aluminum used in previous models and moving towards a glass body, similar to iPhone 4. The glass will be built around a sturdy stainless steel frame or aluminum frame depending on model.

  • New Chip- The iPhone 8 is expected to have a new chip- 10-nanometer A11 chip. This chip will be faster and efficient and keep the phone cooler. The chip would also possibly open  a window to introduce features such as induction-based wireless charging and well as other biometrics functions.


Though this is just a compilation of rumours of the new iPhone, it will be interesting to see how Apple actually designs the new iPhone. Regardless of how much of these rumours are true, the new iPhone will be a game changer in the smartphone industry. 

Book Review of White Fang by Jack London Written by Tanay Somisetty

Book Review of White Fang by Jack London
Written by Tanay Somisetty


            White Fang by Jack London is an extraordinary novel. London’s simple yet effective prose takes you to a place where the wild is the law and all living things are compelled by the fear of the unknown. White Fang is a book about how a young wolf-dog (also named White Fang) survives and grows in the wild and in captivity during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. White Fang is shaped and molded by the circumstances he finds himself in. He struggles to determine whether to follow the law of the wild or the law of his masters and this takes him on a remarkable journey of finding out where he truly belongs. White Fang may be a classic but Jack London writes in a way that allows the reader to understand White Fang’s story with ease. I strongly recommend this book to everyone.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

iOS 11 by Karthik Sankar

iOS 11
by Karthik Sankar

Almost every teen these days has a smart phone and the majority of them use a iPhone. It’s a tool that we use almost every day so it’s important to know what changes will be coming this September. Unless you are an Apple Developer, you’re likely on iOS 10. Developers can access an early beta of the new OS. The final version will be available when the iPhone 8 launches (with the public beta releasing at sometime between now and then). So here is everything you can expect to change with the new update:

  • New dock. Apple has been pushing the iPad Pro as a computer replacement extremely hard recently. Now you can swipe up, similar to the way you access control center, and get access to a mac-like dock. This dock will also let you create new floating multitasking windows. Obviously you can also launch apps using it.

  • File Browser. No one thought this day would come. Android as allowed users access to its file system since the very beginning and now Apple is starting realise they should too. In fairness, I lied. The day didn’t come. Apple’s file browser isn’t REALLY a file browser. Instead it lets you access documents from certain apps and access cloud storage (things like Google Drive, Onedrive and Dropbox). At least it’s a step in the right direction.

  • AirPlay 2. This will let you tell your iPhone which room you are in and use the appropriate speakers.

  • Revamped Control Center. Remember the good old days? Back in ios 9 when we had a one page control center? Everything was way simpler back then. Well, iOS 11 is bringing that back! Control center is now one page, and now has 3D touch (simple to force touch) integration for newer devices. (iPhone 6s and above) As if taking cues from the iPhone users who jailbreak, Apple is now letting you customize the buttons on the control center. Once again, a step in the right direction.

  • QR codes. Someone of us love them and the rest have never used them. Now the native iOS camera can read QR codes! This means you can delete that annoying third party app and now can scan QR codes directly from your phone. This is a feature that should have been introduced years back but, as seems to be the theme of the new OS, at least it's a step in the right direction.




I Am Not Just A Label Yoshiyuki Mitsukuni

I Am Not Just A Label
Yoshiyuki Mitsukuni

*All names in the story have been changed except mine(and quotes).




Have you ever wondered why everyone sticks with their own “kind?” Peer labeling is happening all over the world. Not just your peers, but everyone around you “labels” you on how you look and act. That’s not really fair, is it? If you don’t do something about it, it might raffect others as well.
            Looking back, I realize how many times that happened to me and I didn’t do anything about it. Back in third grade, I was considered a “nerd” because I usually got everything right.  But,that’s not true! Normally, during recess I would stay inside reading or helping the teacher out in class. But, I had to give someone else a turn. So, I went outside much to my dislike. I decided to go play on the playground. As I walked up the stairs to get on the slide, a kid known in the school as “The Chewer”* pushed me off and said, “What’ya doin’ here nerd? Go’an play chess with them other losers!”(I personally love chess, I would never call someone who plays chess a loser.) Not knowing what to do or say that’s what I did. I remember going home in tears that day. This had been one to many times that this has happened. That’s  when I realized that was the last time I was ever going to take something like that. EVER.
            The problem is that labeling happens so often, that people don’t recognize that they are hurting somebody.
But, Jason P. Stadtlander from the Huffington Post says,  “No, I am not a sum of my labels. I am someone  unique, with my own views, perspectives and opinions. But to say that I am a word or that a word really describes me wouldn’t be accurate.” This shows that he will not become what those labels say he is.He will be his own person.  Unjudged.
            Even after my promise not to take those labels, I have gotten labeled countless times. But this one time it happened to my friend Anjali*. She had missed maybe six months of school because she went to India with her parents to take care of her sick grandparents. Seeing as she missed more than half of the entire school year, she had to redo fourth grade. The kids in her class called her “dumb”, “an insult to all Indians around the world” , “idiot”. She gave up her social life, risked being ridiculed by her classmates, and went to take care of her grandparents.
One way, that we could stop or at least lower the amount of times that this happens, is by educating kids, and adults about the dangers of peer labeling .Educating adults will show them what’s happening to their children, and the fact that this is happening in the adult world as well.
            According to Carol N. Trueman, author of “The Labeling Theory,”    “Labeling can also mold the way someone behaves in their lives especially if they cannot shake off that label.” This means that people will behave the way that they are labeled, if they cannot get rid of their label. For example, if one kid gets called a nerd and he can’t shake it off, he will become a nerd just to fit with that label.   Adam Alter, author of “The Dangers of Peer  Labeling”,  says, “But it's important to recognize that the people we label as "Stupid," "slow," "rich," poor," smart," and "simple," seem stupider, slower, richer, poorer, smarter, and simpler merely because we've labeled them so.” This means that even though we label people to be a certain way it does not make them how we think they should be.  Many people have had this problem, but some bullies take it way too far. The victims take actions that would be regrettable.                                      
Many students notice the labeling, but are afraid of what is called “Social Death.” Telling the teacher, principal,   paraprofessional, etc, would cause all of the other students to laugh, call them a crybaby, snitch, or altogether stop talking to them, you know, “shunning.”
            Another way this can be stopped is by making an anonymous “tip” box, so that students can report what they see is happening from their point of view anonymously. So that they can feel good about reporting something bad that happened, but will not get teased by their friends. But even so, everything we try to stop peer labeling, it will not stop.
Research by Kate Dailey of Newsweek shows this, “Kids are the ones who are most damaged by Middle-school labeling. Those kids are also at a disadvantage because the label that sticks the most isn’t one given by peers, but by the Middle-school system itself, and one that disproportionately affects kids. Tracking—the process of putting kids in remedial, gifted, or average-level classes—has a lasting impact well beyond graduation. “They get messages all along the way about how good and bad they are. The kids who are on the low tracks know that they are. They know what their status is,” she says, and the label of “smart” or “dumb” carries long beyond “band geek” or “nerd.” This means that people aren't labeling each other, the school system itself is labeling them. By putting kids in certain classes the school system itself is the one starting all of this bullying and such.
            One other  way to stop peer labeling is not to make students feel bad about class that they are in.  Putting kids in remedial, gifted, or average-level classes, is not right, and they should be treated the same. Just because a kid is in a remedial class, it doesn’t make them stupider than everyone else. If a kid is in a gifted class it doesn’t make them smarter than everyone else. Everyone is equal.  
            Thinking about the future, I realize  that if we don’t take action on something like this then, we will be in a horrific shape!!! It reminds me of my favorite book, Divergent. The main character had to “Stick with her own clan” and not make friends outside of it. We will soon become like that if we don’t take action about this issue.
            Has my question from the beginning been answered? Peer labeling is happening all over the world, and we have to do something about it.  There are many different ways to  solve this worldwide problem. With these solutions I hope, that many people will take action and stop this problem from expanding.

Citations
Alter, Adam. “Why It's Dangerous to Label People.” Psychology Today, Sessex Publishers, 17 May 2010, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/alternative-truths/201005/why-its-dangerous-label-people. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.



Trueman, Carol N. “The Labelling Theory.” History Learning Site, History Learning Site, 16 Aug. 2016, www.historylearningsite.co.uk/sociology/crime-and-deviance/the-labelling-theory/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Kulhanek, Sadie. “Middle School - Labels & Stereotypes.” Prezi.com, 18 Oct. 2016, prezi.com/yad_wdriiunj/middle-school-labels-stereotypes/?webgl=0. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Stadtlander, Jason P. “Casting Off Stereotypes: I Am More Than a Label.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 June 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-p-stadtlander/right-and-wrong-good-and-_b_5504133.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

"Indiana University Bloomington." IIDC - The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.


Dailey, Kate. "Can You Ever Escape Those High-School Labels?" Newsweek. N.p., 16 Dec. 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.