The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Cover of The Tell Tale Heart

“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe first published in 1843. It follows an unnamed narrator who insists on his sanity after murdering an old man with a “vulture eye”. The murder is carefully calculated, and the murderer hides the body by cutting it into pieces and hiding it under the floorboards. Ultimately the narrator’s guilt manifests itself in the hallucination that the man’s heart is still beating under the floorboards.

It is unclear what relationship, if any, the old man and his murderer share. It has been suggested that the old man is a father figure or, perhaps, that his vulture eye represents some sort of veiled secret. The ambiguity and lack of details about the two main characters stand in stark contrast to the specific plot details leading up to the murder.

The story overall displays the effects of guilt on a man and how it drove him into a mad man. This story is great if you are looking for a short interesting read on a short car ride.

Sunrise

Sun rising over grass with dew
Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

(This is four haikus in one poem.)

the wet sparkling dew

it is cold and clear and crisp

on the bright green grass

the sun starts to rise

up above the golden trees

a chilly breeze blows

the sky is silver

and mist floats above the ground

the world is so calm

so early in the morning

we venture into the woods

so early in the morning

The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke

Cover of The Thief Lord

From the books I have read that have been written by Cornelia Funke, The Thief Lord has set my standards of a good book pretty high. Since when could a merry-go-round change your age? Since when did an evil uncle and aunt make their nephews run away in the dead of night?

The book, which is based in the magical city of Venice, Italy, has its own secrets down every alley and up every staircase. Of course, any story is boring without any good characters and a plot so delightful, nobody would be able to put it down, so that is where Prosper and Boniface (Bo) come in with their gang including Hornet, Riccio, Scipio, also known as the Thief Lord, and Mosca. All are orphans, except Prosper and Bo. They are runaways from their evil Aunt Esther and Uncle Max Hartlieb.

Throughout their stay with the gang, they meet a detective who is hired to capture them who instead helps them, a secret that’s been kept from them for a long time, and recover a merry-go-round that turns time around. They have to keep friendship alive, trust one another, and face their fears all in one big adventure! Only then will they find a secret hidden within all the others.

Overall, this book was highly enjoyable. It was a great read, and I could not put down the book until the very last page. I don’t believe there was a part I did not like. Some parts of the book were sad and some were confusing. However, all the parts in the book were knitted well together which made for a terrific story in the magical world of Venice, Italy. I would definitely recommend it, especially for those who love reading about fantasy and magic. This was also about family and friendship all the way. Anyone who likes Harry Potter would find this enjoyable and Wings of Fire fans would like this book, too.

I rate this book a 9/10.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by AVI

Cover of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

With the words, “Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty”, Charlotte’s tale begins.  Charlotte swears to tell us the truth of her voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1832 in all its detail and, as a narrator, she does not disappoint.  Set in an age where propriety was the main concern, Charlotte is the lone female passenger on a ship bound for America.  To complicate matters further, the ship’s captain is losing his mind and his descent into madness is heightened in intensity by the plotting of his mutinous crew.

More than that, however, the story is about Charlotte herself.  She grows from the first pages of the book from a naive girl into a young woman who questions what she knows is not right.  There are few literary heroines today who demonstrate the same amount of self-awareness, candor, and moral compass that Charlotte does. She learns that, ultimately, your choices in life are what define you, not your circumstances.

This book is not so much made for teens as it is for younger kids like 5th or 6th grade. But the number of times I have read this book since 5th grade shows how it can attract any audience.

Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan

Cover of Wicked Saints novel

Wicked Saints, written by Emily A. Duncan, is an action-packed fantasy filled with love and betrayal. It follows our main character Nadya, a cleric from Kalyazin who can speak to the gods, while she works to save her people. She meets Malachiasz, a blood mage from the rival kingdom Tranavia, who she works with to end the war. The book also follows Serefin, the crown prince, who is just trying to figure things out with his kingdom while trying not to die by the hands of his father. I would highly recommend this book so beware of spoilers down below.

The magic system in this book is refreshingly unique. Nadya herself has powers gifted to her by the gods and she speaks with them to get her power. The mysteries of her magic are explored throughout the book and it’s very intriguing. The Tranavians use a power called blood magic, which Nadya continuously calls heresy. They must use their blood to activate spells they draw into their spell books.

The plot of the book was similar to other young adult fantasy books: save the kingdom and end a war. What differs is that there is a clash in religion. While Nadya and her people believe in the gods and are very religious, the Tranavians seem to be atheists. The battle between the two opposing belief systems becomes a real conflict that can be shown in today’s society to some extent. It also leaves the reader in a peculiar position of not knowing which side to be on and wondering who they should really be rooting for.

The romance was very well done and heartbreaking. The rivalry between the two’s beliefs create the “forbidden romance” and adds to the confusion Nadya feels as she navigates her journey. The character development was amazing. Each had their own personality that was distinguishable from the others, which you don’t always find in young adult books. They all have internal struggles that could be relatable to some people. Serefin is the most relatable character and his personality is unlike others I’ve seen, which is refreshing and makes him a lovable character. The development for Nadya was smooth and believable, although the romance did move quickly at the beginning, so it could have used some more pages and adventures to flesh it out. Malachiasz was a confusing character towards the end of the book. As a perpetual liar, it was hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn’t, which could have been the author’s choice, but it left me a little frustrated.

The two of the side characters felt a little underdeveloped and sort of didn’t need to be there, so hopefully, Duncan gives them a chance to shine in future books. There was plenty of diversity in the book that didn’t feel forced, which will make it easier for all readers to feel connected to the book in some way.

The book is very dark and the characters have some morally grey areas that they have to cross when dealing with religion, so I would recommend this book to older teenagers if those topics bother you.

I would rate Wicked Saints 9/10 dragons for its unique story and heartbreaking romance.

A Day to Never Forget

Flag flying on cloudy day

May 13, 1966.

A boy is born.

The boy quiet and kind,

But one not lost in the crowd.

A boy full of adventure.

A boy who loves his family,

And not afraid to show his sense of humor.

The downward slope with his skis became his passion.

The Colorado Mountains became his home.

The firehouse, family, and friends

Soon called the young boy back to New York.

Sports were taught, games were played, trips were taken.

The people of New York soon called to the young boy.

The boy, now a man full of courage.

A building full of danger.

The young man, however, was only able to return in the hearts of those who have lost.

George Cain

A godfather, an uncle, a brother, and a son.

A young boy, who lives in the hearts of those who will never forget.

On September 11, 2001 nineteen terrorists, part of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group, hijacked four airlines shortly after departing. Unfortunately, the hijackers were successful in flying the planes into the two World Trade Centers and one plane into the Pentagon. However, the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, fought back against the hijackers and were able to crash the plane near Shanksville, Pennsylvania in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in one single day and 343 firefighters, including George Cain, died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

On the morning of September 11th, the New York fire department company Engine 16, Ladder 7 rushed to the World Trade Centers at the call of the North Tower being hit. The men of Ladder 7 left their truck on West Street and were then directed to evacuate the Marriott hotel, which stood between the towers. The Marriott was a 25-story building and was cut in half by the South Tower collapsing. After the North Tower collapsed, the hotel was completely demolished. All Ladder 7 firefighters were killed in the collapse of the hotel. However, the men of Engine 16 were miraculously saved. The 343 firefighters that had laid down their lives for the people of New York City will never be forgotten. They will continue to live and thrive in the hearts of all the citizens and people who continue to remember and to teach others of 9/11. 

At 7:59 am, American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Logan International Airport with the intent of successfully leaving Boston and arriving in Los Angeles. There were 76 passengers, 11 crew members, and five hijackers on board.

At 8:14 am, United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Logan International Airport with the intent of successfully leaving Boston and arriving in Los Angeles. There were 51 passengers, nine crew members, and five hijackers on board.

At 8:20 am and 8:42 am, both American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93 take off from Washington Dulles International Airport and Newark International Airport. Flight 77 had 53 passengers, six crew members, and five hijackers on board and flight 93 had 33 passengers, seven crew members and four hijackers.

At 8:46 am, American Airlines Flight 77 is crashed into the North World Trade Center.

At 9:03 am, United Airlines flight 175 is crashed into the South World Trade Center.

At 9:37 am, American Airlines Flight 77 is crashed into the Pentagon, near Washington D.C.

At 9:59 am, the South World Trade Center collapses.

At 10:03 am, United Airlines Flight 93 crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania after the passengers hear about the attacks on the World Trade centers and the Pentagon.

At 10:28 am, the North World Trade Center collapses.

Those lost on September 11, 2001 live in our hearts, the hearts of those who will never forget what happened on the morning of September 11th.

The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron

Cover of The Lost Years of Merlin

Where in the darkness a castle doth spin,

Small will be large, ends will begin.

Only when giants make dance in the hall

Shall every barrier crumble and fall.

A young boy, washed up on the shores of a distant land, far from his native home Fincayra, has no memories. He has no home, no memory, nor a name. He then saves a young woman and himself from the clutches of a … boar? Yes, the young boy is put to the test in a few mere seconds. A few years later …

Branwen, the strong woman, is a healer and a teacher to Emrys, the young boy. However, in the village, they are scorned and laughed at because of their uniqueness. They are said to be demons, and one day, Emrys does something exceptional that causes his long journey. He has to leave. Branwen sends him off bitterly, warning him of the dangers of Fincayra and the enemy. But, alas, he leaves.

His journey will be troublesome. The sacrifices will be great. The bonds and friendships will be greater. His courage put to the test. And the enemy will be a long forgotten acquaintance. With his friends and a lot of help, perhaps Merlin will be able to find his past and maybe save Fincayra from the enemy. Just maybe.