Temeraire by Naomi Novik (pt. 2 of 2)


Review by: Glory Skyfire

I freely admit that this series is definitely not for everyone. It’s written in Regency style, so if you weren’t able to understand Jane Austen’s prose, this may be a little difficult for you to enjoy. (However, Temeraire is much easier to read.) There are heaping helpings of tactics, warfare, politics, and Regency era high society sprinkled throughout these pages. There’s a bit of swearing, mostly when the situation is really getting bad, but it isn’t every other page (more like every six or seven chapters). It’s not a little kid’s book, and does drag at some points in the later books. But after the initial setup of the first book, which is interesting in and of itself, the pace never slows.

This series is also notable for tackling societal issues of the early nineteenth century. There are several female dragon captains, because Longwings, which are a very valuable acid-spitting breed, only bond with women. Women are given equal consideration and rank within the Royal Aerial Corps; it’s noted that one of Laurence’s runners, Emily Roland, will probably be captain of her mother’s dragon one day. But it’s also noted that women are frequently looked over for other leadership positions, and when Laurence’s friend Jane Roland (Emily’s mother) is promoted to Admiral of the Air (book 5), it’s over strong objections from the Army, Navy, and Parliament. Laurence and his former second lieutenant Riley nearly get into a fistfight over the “slavery question;” Riley is for slavery, Laurence strongly against it. They meet several freed people in book four, including a missionary who gets passage on their dragon transport to Africa, which gets Riley’s back up again (he’s the captain of the transport at that point).

The main societal struggle is actually not one we had to deal with in the real world: dragon rights. As dragons vary from “two-year-old kid” intelligence to “calculate artillery trajectories in your head” intelligence, voting rights, property rights, and more are up on the table. In Britain, dragons are the property of the Royal Aerial Corps, and cannot really choose what they want to do due to their fierce loyalty to their riders (who are all in the Aerial Corps). In China, dragons are treated exactly like humans, with schooling, trading, etc., and some have status around that of the emperor himself. When Temeraire visits China, he sees a lot to improve back in England, and getting dragons rights is a significant subplot which helps to inform Temeraire’s and Laurence’s character development.

Now, characters:

There’s Laurence, Temeraire, Riley, Granby, Choiseul, Iskierka, Tharkay, Maximus, Berkley, Lily, Harcourt, the Rolands, Volatilus, Sipho, Demane, Kulingile, Yongxing, Lien, Perscitia…

and there’s the characters borrowed from reality. Napoleon (obviously), the Duke of Wellington, Horatio Nelson, William Wilberforce, and William Bligh… and more.

I can’t describe how much I love this series. Characters? Well-developed and interesting. Plot? Incredibly original and immersive. Settings? Not the focus, but beautiful just the same. My favorite books of the series are books 1-3: His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, and Black Powder War. DISCLAIMER: I have not read books 6-9 and am not responsible for your loving them, liking them, or *shudder* not liking them.

This review is in no way complete because of Temeraire’s size and scope. I just don’t have the ability to detail everything I like about this series. I’ve hit 1000 words in total and climbing, and I haven’t told you everything.

Just give Temeraire a try – you won’t regret it… unless you can’t stop reading and don’t get any sleep for a week in a caffeine-fueled haze of dragons.


Building a Random World. Part 4: System. By Yasadu De Silva


Hello all,

As you know, the world I am creating is for a tabletop RPG (see Part 1 if you don’t know what a tabletop RPG is). Thus, I need to decide what tabletop RPG (or system) I’m going to use to play the world. The system is important because the character options and rules can dictate the setting. For example, the world’s most popular RPG, Dungeons and Dragons, is a RPG of high fantasy with flashy explosive spells. If I use D&D in my world with no modifications, my world will eventually become something closer to high fantasy, which is not what I want. So before I do anything else, I will decide my system. Below is a list of systems I considered, and their pros and cons.

Name Pros Cons
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying: 2nd Edition WFRP2 has a grim feel, which is good for low fantasy. In addition, it has many rules, including optional rules for armor layers and hit location (stab the torso or the right arm, etc.). It uses a d100, which I’m familiar with. WFRP2 assumes that you are using the Old World setting, which affects some of the rules (equipment, races, monsters, etc.)
Harnmaster  Harnmaster is a low fantasy RPG. It also has detailed rules for armor layers and hit locations, which are more detailed than WFRP2. It has low magic, being near-mundane. It uses a d100, which I’m familiar with. The complexity is mostly in character creation, but it might scare my friends away from playing. In addition, the only races are human, dwarf, and elf.
Runequest 6  It uses the same basic engine as another RPG, Call of Cthulhu, which is one of my favorites. One of my friends and his group is also familiar with CoC, so they might like RQ6. Has rules for health per hit location. Apparently, this book is poorly organized. For example, sprinting is mentioned on page 58, but finally elaborated upon on page 438.

After deliberating, I have chosen to use WFRP2.

Thank you,

Yasadu De Silva

Umberland( Book Review)


Review by: apiazza4

Umberland, the second book in the Everland series, by Wendy Spinale is a remade version of Alice in Wonderland. This series is about the deadly Horologia virus ripping through the world. The English were working on the virus in a lab but the Blooded Queen of Germany strategically bombed this lab so that the virus got released into the air. Everyone is falling ill and there is no end in sight.

In this book, Doc finds the Professor’s journal that includes a missing ingredient of the virus. This ingredient is a poisonous apple from a tree that supposedly no longer exists. With this new information, Doc realizes they aren’t sick at all – they are poisoned. He needs this apple to make an antidote. Countless people are depending on it and he must enlist the help of someone crazy to retrieve the apple. Since Doc needs to stay and care for the ill, Duchess Alyssa of England goes to the Maddox Hadder, who knows how to get the apple. The apple tree is in the middle of the Bloodred Queens labyrinth. This is already extremely dangerous, but with two of the Bloodred Queen’s men looking for the same thing, it is even more so. With the Duchess gone and the Queen too ill to rule, England goes into chaos.

I liked this book because it was a twist on regular fairy tales and it combined a lot of different fairy tales into one interesting story. I recommend this book because it is very interesting and you will not be able to put it down.

The Three Stooges Collection, Volume 1

three-stooges-largeReview by: coolkid73

During the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, there was a comedy trio known as The Three Stooges, which consisted of actors Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard . They made 190 short films, and in the late 90s their shorts were released in a DVD series known as The Three Stooges Collection, which had eight volumes. This review is only about the first one, which features their first 19 short films. These shorts have been remastered in high definition and high quality sound, but are still in black and white. Here are some of my favorite shorts on this DVD.

“Men In Black”- In this short, The Stooges are doctors who can’t do their jobs. The jokes in this short are hilarious. It can be kind of boring to watch, but if you can understand the jokes, it’s really funny.

“Pop Goes the Easel”- In this short, The Stooges steal brooms from a store and hide in an art school to escape the police. This short has some great jokes, but the most interesting part is the huge clay fight towards the end.

“False alarms”- In this short, The Stooges work at a fire station but mess up every task and steal the chief’s car. It is a little too long in my opinion, but it’s funny to see The Stooges mess up every task they’re given and wreck the chief’s car.

“Whoops I’m an Indian”- In this short the stooges hide out in Native American disguises but are in trouble when they meet a guy whose wife just ran off with Native Americans. The humor is at its best here.

Hope you have enjoyed this reveiw and be sure to buy this DVD for yourself, or check it out on YouTube. Thanks for reading.

A Little Life


” by Hanya Yanahigara is one of the greatest, most moving novels I have ever read. The book spans decades, following the lives of four college friends as they enter adulthood and struggle with life, love, work, and the past. At the beginning of the novel, all four young men are grappling with their jobs and financial problems. JB is a starving artist, Willem is an actor who waits tables, Malcolm is an aspiring architect who lives at home, and Jude – while a rising lawyer – is orphaned and poor. Each character has their own personal problems, but it becomes clear that Jude, who quickly rises to become the main character, has the darkest past and biggest problems. Due to a car accident that occurred when he was a teenager, Jude walks with a limp and has painful nerve damage in his spine. Unfortunately this accident is not as simple as it seems, as the reader finds out through increasingly emotional narratives. As Jude struggles to push through his chronic pain and hide his past from his friends, his health deteriorates physically with frequent leg infections and mentally with the memories of his horrific childhood and self-hate. While Jude is able to get help through his doctor, parents, and boyfriend, nothing ever remains stable and in the end, the reader is left feeling as sad for him as if he were their own friend.

This novel is an emotional rollercoaster, taking the reader through happy moments as well as terrifically heart-wrenching ones. JB finally gets a big break in the art world, only to develop a drug addiction. Jude finds happiness with his adoptive parents and starts dating Willem, but both relationships are tested when the extent of Jude’s self hatred is revealed. Malcolm gets married but their relationship has an abrupt end, with Willem at the wheel. This novel is fairly heavy, exploring topics such as death, abuse, and self-destruction, yet it is very poignant – there is no glorification or glamorization of some of the darkest aspects of life. Incredibly well-written and thought-provoking,”A Little Life” is a book that one could read over and over again- if only it wasn’t so tear-jerking.

Review: Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet

Hello! Today, I wanted to review an item that I use a lot for my artwork. This is a drawing tablet made by a company called Wacom. As many of you may know, a drawing tablet has a USB cord that can connect to a computer. The tablet acts as paper, and it comes with a stylus, that acts like a pencil. Using these, you can create a variety of artwork on your computer or laptop! This is especially useful if you don’t have a lot art supplies or if you’re drawing on the go. I bought a Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet Small at BestBuy for $89 about two years ago. The price depends on the size you get too, obviously the bigger, the more expensive. It may sound pricey, but using it replaces drawing paper, pencils, watercolors, and just any other art tool you could think of! A lot drawing programs are free, so once you get a tablet, you are essentially ready to go. Since tablet stylus acts just like a pen, paintbrush, or whatever you want it to be, the table itself senses pressure. This makes it so that when you press hard, the lines made are thicker and darker, just like in real life. You can easily draw and color like you would on regular paper, except with more tools that you couldn’t use in real life. Shrinking something if it’s too big, undoing your mistakes with the click of a button, and making more room if you run out of space are all possible with the Wacom Intuos Tablet. The product does have its downfalls, though. My tablet glitches sometimes. For example, the pen pressure turns off, or the reaction time is delayed. Also, at first it might be a little hard to get used to drawing on a screen when your hands are moving somewhere else. It is like the activeinspire slates the teachers use at school. When they make a movement on the slate, a movement is made on the screen. Though, with a lot of practice, you’ll probably get used to the feeling; like how I did. Now, to me, it feels as comfortable as it would with pencil and paper. The possibilities are endless with the Wacom intuos tablet or really any drawing tablet at all. Since you can save artwork digitally, you can make multiple copies of it, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the physical copy getting ruined. The digital aspect also makes it easier to share online, so you can get more positive feedback. Personally, the Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet made drawing even more fun and exciting for me, with lots of new tools and features to try out. If you’re an artist, or even an aspiring artist, I highly recommend this for you. I started out when I could pretty much only draw stick figures, but now, I can draw more detailed bodies! If you do choose to get one, my advice is, don’t give up. Getting used to not drawing hands-on was tough, but you will eventually get used to it. Thank you for reading my review! I hope that you love this product almost as much, or even more than I do.

Hannah, 9th grade


The Selection Series (first three books)


The first three books in the Selection series are about America Singer who was born a Five in the caste system. In the country of Illéa being a Five is not easy, money can be tight at times. In the caste system Ones are the highest, being the royal family, and Eights are the lowest, the homeless. America’s parents, like all of the other parents would think it would be great if she married someone in higher caste so that she could move up a caste, but America is in love with Aspen Leger, a Six.

At nights she sneaks away from her family to meet Aspen in a tree house, she loves all of the moments she has with him and cannot wait until they can start their future together. This is why she was uninterested when she heard that the prince was ready to start his Selection, bringing 35 girls to the palace so he could find a wife among one of them. Even though America has no interest in going, Aspen strongly encourages her to do it. America eventually agrees, for she seriously doubts she will be chosen.

To America’s surprise, and horror, she is chosen as one of the Selected girls. Although, America has no interest in trying to win prince Maxon’s heart, she goes to the palace and tries to stay anyway. She does this so that her parents can get the money that all of the Selection members receive. Of course she is upfront about this with Maxon, not wanting to lie to him. After America tells him this and that her heart is already taken, she offers to be a friend to him through out the Selection. Though as the Selection goes on it becomes hard for her to see him as just a friend.

America gains another reason to stay when Aspen is drafted and begins working as a guard at the palace. Once again America can see her life with Aspen, the life that she has wanted from the start, but maybe she wants that future with Maxon after all…


This story is so fascinating and captivating that I found it hard to put down. Kierra Cass creates characters that you will be angry with at times for the choices that they make, but in the end happily ever after is achievable, at least for most people…