Archive for June, 2009

“The Count of Monte Cristo” Student Reviews 2009

The following reviews by COHS students are on “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexander Dumas.

Genre: Historical

Pages: 1312

Reviewer: Ron W.

The story begins when the main character Edmond Dantes and Fernand Mondego land on the island of Elba to get medical help for there captain. Dantes meets Napoleon Bonaparte and is given a letter which is to be given to a friend back at port, but the friend will find him to get the letter. Mondego who is jealous of Dantes and his fiancés Mercedes relationship turns him in to the police. After Dantes explains himself to the head prosecutor Gerard Villefort who decides to send Dantes the life imprisonment in the Château d’If. After befriending the priest the priest teaches Dantes to read and write. They start to dig a tunnel out of the prison but the priest is caught in a cave in and dies Dantes then escapes by pretending to be the priests dead body. After escaping he befriends a group of buccaneers and sails back the his home port. After he and another man by a boat they sail to Monte Cristo a small island and find the hidden treasure. When they return home Dantes starts calling himself the Count of Monte Cristo. While he is doing this he is slowly ruining all of the people who hurt hims lifes. Until all of them are in jail and Mondego is dead.

My opinion of the Count of Monte Cristo is that it was a very adventurous and suspenseful book. The storyline was odd but all together the long read was worth the effort. If I had to recommend a book it would be this one.

1. The author wrote this book I alive so that you can learn that you can’t trust all your friends even the close ones.

2. The theme is you can’t judge a book by its cover even if you have already read it.

3the author supports the thesis by using a lot of good quotes and a really suspenseful storyline.

4. The issue is Dantes going to jail for carrying a letter to a friend of napoleons and it is resolved when dantes pays every one back for their deeds.


Add comment June 3, 2009

“The Man in the Iron Mask” Student Reviews 2009

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 588 of the story, and 626 pages including explanatory notes.

Reviewer: Christian I.

The Man in the iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas is an excellent novel. It is about King Louis, and he is making France fall apart from his poor ruling as king. Three retired musketeers want to get rid of the king, after he put one of the musketeer’s sons on the front line of war. D’Artagnan, the musketeer captain, thinks otherwise, and is trying to defend the king. The other three find another heir to the throne, and that is the man in the iron mask. The man in the iron mask is King Louis’s twin brother, Phillipe. The musketeers then train Phillipe to fight, just in case if he needs to defend himself. King Louis then hosts a party, and the musketeers make the switch. Although, a loyal friend of the King breaks him out of jail, and  Louis resumes being king. Parthos and Arimas the escape to Belle-Isle, where the King sends an attack. D’Artagnan resigns from the military, and helps his friends. Parthos dies during the battle of Belle-Isle, and D’Artagnan died a few years later from a war with Holland. At the end, the only original musketeer alive is Aramis.

As I said in  the summary, I think The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas is excellent. It has an action filled story with a hint of mystery. This novel is considered a world classic, and is a French novel. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good book to read.

1. The author wrote The Man in the Iron Mask to show how two brothers can be different and what they will do for their country.

2. The theme of the book is right versus wrong. The king is a tyrant, and his twin brother (the man in the iron mask) knows what is right for France.

3. The author supports the thesis in many ways. In the book, three musketeers have to do a wrong action, to save France from the tyrant. They also did what was right by not killing the tyrant. D’Artagnan conflicts whether or not to help his friends or the king. The author uses many other examples to support this thesis.

4. The main issue is that the king, Louis, is a tyrant. Three of the original 4 musketeers had enough of the king’s tyranny. They discover that there is another heir to the throne, and they secretly switch the two, making France have a fair and kind king.

Add comment June 3, 2009

“Gulliver’s Travels” Student Reviews 2009

The following reviews by COHS students are on “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift.

Genre:  Wild frontiers and exotic lands/ European historical fiction

Pages: 271

Reviewer: Andrea Z.

In the novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, the reader is introduced to the main character named Lemuel Gulliver who goes on extraordinary adventures. The first location he goes to is the island of Lilliput. There he meets people that are about six inches tall. He learns their customs, and becomes friends with the king, but he eventually departs from this strange land. Once he returns home he again sets sail and becomes stranded on the land Brobdingnag. He soon discovers that this land is inhabited by giants. He becomes friends with a farmer and he starts making a profit out of Gulliver. He is soon sold to the queen and is taken care of by the farmer’s daughter. After about two years of living there an eagle captures him and drops him in the ocean where he is rescued by his own kind. One again he ventures off inot the world and goes to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan. Laputa is a flying island and the people there are devoted to music and mathematics. Then he basically goes to the other places just to  get back home which he eventually does. Despite his past mishaps he once again goes out to sea and lands on Houyhnhnms, a land where horses are the rulers. He eventually leaves this land  by force and once he arrives back home he is unable to live a normal life.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. The author uses a lot of detail in describing the places Gulliver went. I still wonder why Swift capitalizes random words but it was a great new experience for me. The adventures the main character  went on were very strange but life changing at the same time. What I learned from this novel is to accept people for who they are. I also learned that everyone is different. I highly recommend this book to others.

1.The author’s purpose in writing this book was to inform the readers on how different people are and how people in other lands have customs we are not used to.
2. The theme of this novel is the limits of human understanding and the thesis of the novel is understanding different customs.
3. The author supports the thesis by learning the ways of other people. “Learned men appointed to teach the author their language” (30)
4. The only issue in this book is trying to fit in and the author solves this by learning the inhabitants’ ways.

2 comments June 3, 2009

“Northanger Abbey” Student Reviews 2009

“Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen

Genre: Romance novel/ satire

Pages: 235

Reviewer: Hanni S.

Catherine Morland, a low classed frivolous minded girl, goes on a trip to Bath and becomes aware of the social gaps in life and is quite shocked when horrible tragedies become to her. She gains knowledge and character from her trip. She encounters infatuations, back-stabbing friends, true love, heart break, adventure, and friendship. Everything is thrown out of proportion until it is sorted out and becomes satisfactory.

My opinion of Northanger Abbey was that it was quite interesting and dramatically funny. It had a great twist to it. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about social clashes.

1. The author’s purpose of writing the novel was to show the different life styles and typical gender roles in that time period.

2. The theme was true love is hard to keep because of social status. The thesis was trying to overcome social issues and to just go with the heart and still keep a strong mental state of mind.

3.. Catherine Morland began a state of loving Henry Tilney, but was rudely kicked out of the Tilney estate because the father found out the true social status of her life. She was able to keep calm until she was out of site from the abbey. Yet still, Henry Tilney came back for her and they were engaged. It took a while for General Tilney to consent, but he eventually did.

4. The main issue it raises is that of social status and being in the circle or out of the circle or money in other words. Its stance is that of: it doesn’t matter too much about those material things. The solution was to either pester someone for consenting in giving them money through marriage or breaking the engagements by going after someone richer.

1 comment June 3, 2009

“Emma” Student Reviews 2009

The following COHS student reviews are on “Emma” by Jane Austen.

Genre: Novel/ romance

Pages: 370 (depending on edition)

Reviewer: Andria R.

Emma is an upper class lady that thinks of herself a great matchmaker to the people she knows. She sees nothing wrong in it.  Even though she is told it is wrong she still insists that she is being helpful.  Later on she learns that she was wrong and decides to stop.  In this book there are romances between the characters in which you never learn if there ever going to work out.  In the high upper society there are conflicts which Emma is always involved in.

In my opinion I really enjoyed reading Emma because it was different from the books I usually read.  It showed me a look at how they used to behave back then. The different conflicts that might of happened.

1.  Jane Austen’s purpose was to show the different romances in a high class society and how they can go wrong. It also showed many conflicts within that society.

2. The themes are marriage and social status. The thesis is the events that happen when marriage can be ruined when social status can come into the picture.

3.  Jane Austen makes the development of marriage when everything goes wrong within the upper class society.

4. What main issue does the book raise and what stance does it take in addressing and solving the issue?The main issue is when Emma keeps on trying to be matchmaker and keeps her friend from being with the one she has interest in.  In solving the issue Emma decides to stop being matchmaker.

Add comment June 3, 2009

“The Secret Garden” Student Reviews 2009

The following reviews by COHS students are on “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Genre: Children’s Novel

Pages: 234

Reviewer: Kevin A.

Mary Lennox had to move to her Uncle’s mansion after Cholera breaks out. After exploring the mansion she hears a strange noise coming from somewhere, before she investigates the maid interrupts her.  That night she hears that noise again this time it leads her to a very angry and sick looking boy. When the meet the soon become friends. Since Colin did not spend time with Mary because he was too frail. Mary found this secret garden with the help of her robin bird friend. She sprouts the idea that Colin might be sick because he is inside the mansion all the time. She thinks that if he is outside and sees the beautiful garden that he might not hate the world. Mary shows Colin the garden, they begin to tend to the garden and help Colin walk. Over time Colin and Mary make the garden more beautiful than before. Colin is finally enjoys life and can walk.

This novel I think is a good book for life lessons. I guess that is why it is a children’s novel. It was a good read and I adored the descriptions of the gardens, the mansion, and the country. I loved Colin’s character, he had the struggle that many people have when the feel like they don’t belong because of some imperfection.  With hope they felt better and made progress to better themselves.

1. State the author’s purpose in writing the book: To show that unlikely friendships can create hope and heal wounds of the heart and of the body.

2. State the theme and the thesis of the book. The theme is Life heals with the right nutrient like friendship.

3. Explain the method of development-the way the author supports the thesis. Illustrate your remarks with specific references and quotations. He shows this, when at the end Colin can walk and is healthier than before and his father is finally smiling.

4. What main issue does the book raise and what stance does it take in addressing and solving the issue?

The main issue is that a girl is practically alone in her Uncle’s mansion but finds a bitter and sick boy who hates life and everyone in it. Mary finds this secret garden with the help of her robin bird friend. She sprouts the idea that Colin might be sick because he is inside the mansion all the time. She thinks that if he is outside and sees the beautiful garden that he might not hate the world. Mary shows Colin the garden, they begin to tend to the garden and help Colin walk. Over time Colin and Mary make the garden more beautiful than before. Colin is finally enjoys life and can walk.

Add comment June 3, 2009

“A Golden Age” Student Review 2009

The following is a student review of “A Golden Age” by Tahmima Anam.

Genre: Bangladesh revolution

Pages: 288

Reviewer: Tasnuva H.
It starts off with a single mother who has a 17 year old daughter Maya, and a nineteen year old son Sohail. She visits her late husband’s grave and talks to him spiritually about her domestic everyday life. When her kids decide they want to be involved in the war in any way, it tears her apart on the inside. Her daughter Maya becomes involved in war protests and insists on being a strong representative of the rebellion. Her son Sohail becomes an undercover guerilla with his friends and leaves his mother alone. Just as Rehana was trying to move on from her husband, her son brings back an injured major whom Rehana feels attracted to. She cares for him and attends to his medical needs. Rehana decides to support her kids’ choices and becomes interested in aiding in any way. The Bangladeshi’s win the war and Rehana and her kids show great enthusiasm.
Personally I thought this book was captivating. It probably appeals to me more than the general audience because it is about the country I am from. My grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts tells me of their experiences when the war was going on. Of course they were very young so they do not remember much. This book was really interesting reading from a mother’s perspective. It shows the struggles and hardships of that time and how it affected citizens.

1. The author’s purpose of this novel is to show the hardships during the Bangladesh Independence War.

2. Tahmima depicts the struggles of a single mother with grown kids who decide to take part in the war.. The main character Rehana Haque is a mother who is torn between her children being involved in the war because they are all she has. Her kids feel it is their duty to serve their country.  This book portrays the struggles of a single mother and how much devotion and love she has towards her kids. Even though she feels strongly against her kids being part of the rebellion, she doesn’t let that show externally. She does at first but she gives up when her kids are insistent. She decides to show them support

3.  The author develops the thesis by starting off with how due to her poverty, Rehana loses her kids to her brother-in-law and his wife. When she is reunited with them, she promises herself and her late husband that she will do all she can to support them and never abandon them again. She throws a party for them every year since they all reunited.

4. This book is about a mother’s decision against her kids being allured into being involved in a war. Her dedication to her son’s ambitions is strongly visible throughout the novel. The overall conflict is the war itself. It was tearing their family apart in different ways. This novel shows how Rehana handles situations where she might have to be the bad guy. She tries to keep her kids from being hurt by being part of war riots and protests. It kills her inside when her son decides to be an undercover

Add comment June 3, 2009

“The Alchemist” Student Reviews 2009

The following review of “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho was written by COHS student Danielle L. (Ms. Waddle reviewed this book on an earlier post.)
Pages: 208

Santiago was a young boy who was following his dream. He had always wanted to travel so he became a shepherd. Santiago was constantly having a dream that he would find gold at the pyramids. One day He met an old man who turned out to be a king named the king of Salem in Tarifa; he tells him that he should go to the pyramids and gives him the location of the buried tresure. Santiago sells his sheep and goes to Africa to find the tresure, unfortunatly he gets all his gold stolen. He quickly finds a job with a cristal marchant so that he could return home and buy sheep. For a year he works with the merchant, and he makes a great amount of money.  At this point he has totally forgotten about the treasure, but when he recognizes the two rocks the old king had given him he goes back to looking for the treasure.

I really enjoyed the book. You would think that the theme is really cheesy, but the author develops it in a realistic manner that makes the story great! I really like the fact that he doesn’t sugar coat anything, but he doesn’t make it really depressing.

1. Follow your dreams but be careful and wise by doing so, it may take a while but in the end it will pay off.
2 Follow your dreams
3. The author creates many obstacles that the main character has to face to follow his dream. The main character (Santiago) is faced with good and bad “omens” which he is supposed to follow. He becomes discouraged at certain points but he kept going.
4. Sometimes people aren’t wise about they way they live there life. They do things just for money. The book shows that you should follow your dreams because “it is written”, but at the same time you should be wise about it and don’t forget about your surroundings.

1 comment June 2, 2009

“The Turn of the Screw” Student Reviews 2009

The following reviews by COHS students are on “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James.
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 94-219 (depending on edition)
Reviewer: Jessica F.

The Turn of the Screw is about a governess that believes that she is seeing ghosts. In the beginning of the story when she sees the ghost for a second time, she believes that it was after Miles. After this incident, the governess keeps a close eye on both kids that he has to watch over. The governess sees a second ghost, and believes it to be going after the second child that she is watching, Flora. When the governess is out with Flora, she again sees the second ghost. She asks Flora if she sees it, and Flora denies it. Flora then says that she hates the governess. The day after the incident, Flora is struck sick. She is taken to her uncle’s house, and the governess stays behind with Miles. Miles sees the first ghost and drops dead into the governess’s arms.

The Turn of the Screw was a very interesting book. In my opinion, the author wrote the book very well. He used very good imagery words to make me feel that I was actually there and witnessing the story. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a good ghost story.

1. The author’s purpose in writing this book is to inform the reader that corruption of child innocence is always going to be around.
2. The theme of this book is child corruption.
3. The author supports the thesis by writing that Miles can be bad if he wants to. James also writes that Miles was kicked out of school, for reasons that are unknown.
4. The main issue that this book raises is that innocent children are being unfairly corrupted. It takes a passive stance in addressing and solving the issue.

Reviewer:  Natalie J.

In The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, a woman goes to care for two children on the estate of Bly. Soon after she arrives all of her worries are erased by the fact that the children are beautiful and very pure. However, soon after she sees a man known as Peter Quint, appears to her even though she is dead. She confides this to Mrs. Grose, her new friend who expresses skepticism yet eventually identifies the man based on the governess’ description. Shortly afterwards the previous governess, Mrs. Jessel, appears to her, but she too is dead. After these events happen a few more times, she becomes convinced that Peter Quint and the previous governess are trying to take control over the children’s souls. The as the climax draws nearer, Mrs. Jessel appears again, but this time the current governess points her out to one of the children, Flora, and Mrs. Grose, yet they say they do not see her, which makes one question the governess’ sanity. Suddenly Flora falls ill and she and Mrs. Grose set out to see the girl’s uncle and ask for his help. The ones who remain are the governess and Flora’s brother Miles. Then as nighttime approaches she goes to Miles room and what she sees and the consequences following it are horrific to both her and  the boy.

In my opinion, Henry James did an excellent job in writing it, mostly because it can be interpreted in two ways: the governess is losing her insanity by seeing things that aren’t there or her theory is correct and the children know it yet don’t admit they are seeing their deceased friends. I believe the author does a great job in making us think twice, a principle we can use in everyday life.

1. Henry James purpose in writing this book is to entertain his audience with the governess’ conclusions and actions as a result of those conclusions
2. The theme of this book is don’t panic and don’t jump to conclusions because the consequences can be disastrous. Another possibility is that do not wait until the last minute to seek answers or help.
3. The theme of don’t wait until the last minute to seek answers is developed very slowly and becomes more evident towards the end of the novella. At the beginning, the governess refuses to tell her boss about the strange happenings at Bly, however at the end she is forced to when Flora, the little girl she is caring for, falls ill, and according to the governess the apparition of the previous governess brought this about.
4. Henry James makes the reader doubt whether or not the governess really sees the apparitions. He does this by having her see the apparitions and then when she informs Mrs. Grose, her new friend at the estate, she is skeptical. Also, when the governess points out one of the apparitions to Mrs. Rose and one of the children they say they do not see a thing. However the stance the author takes on these issues is unclear is there is evidence pointing to the fact the apparitions are real and to the fact the governess is slowly losing her insanity.

Add comment June 2, 2009

“Robinson Crusoe” Student Reviews 2009

The following reviews  by COHS students are on “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Pages: 320
Reviewer: Cristian B.

Robinson Crusoe is an Englishman from Europe. He is the third son in his family. His father warns him of the hardships that he will have to face if he ventures out into the world. Robinson wishes to go out to sea instead of staying home his whole life. He sets sail, but unfortunately, the second time the vessel is captures and he is kept captive. He escapes after being a servant for a few years and seeks another voyage. A violent storm hits and he alone is shipwrecked on a barren island. Over the course of a few days, he gathers supplies from the wrecked vessel just off shore.

Robinson Crusoe is one of my favorite books. I enjoy the adventure and excitement gained by reading about Robinson’s adventure. It inspires me; I want to go on a grand adventure one day. Nicely written but the original version has some writing that I do not understand completely. I plan on reading it again during the summer.

1. The author’s purpose towards writing the book was to tell a story of adventure and provide entertainment for the reader. The book has a hint of realism, and the way it was written makes it seem as if the author took part in these events.
2. Throughout the story, Robinson shows that perseverance and courage.
3. The author places Robinson Crusoe in situations in which perseverance and courage must aid him. This is a motif in the book. Robinson, time and time again, wishes during facing his hardships that he should have listened to his father and stayed home. Perseverance and determination place him back on his feet after every bump in the road.  While on his first voyage, during a great storm, Robinson ponders why he left home in the first place. After the storm subsides, though, he forgets his pleas to God and he is replenished with courage.
4. The main issue that Robinson Crusoe raises is how does one live by themselves for so long without going crazy. It could be compared to a modern person who surely would have died living by themselves for almost 30 years. With no internet, no cell phones, and worst of all no television, a modern person would not be able to bear the pain. Robinson, fortunately, is not plagued with these treasures and with perseverance and courage battles the evils of solitude and starvation.

Reviewer: Sebastian Waz

Crusoe is a native of the town of York and son of a merchant who believes Crusoe should lead a more modest life, despite his love for the sea. Disobeying his fathers wishes, Crusoe and sets off on a voyage towards South America. After a series of intricate and complicated events, a storm wrecks Crusoe’s ship on an island deserted of humanity. Crusoe soon finds that he is the lone survivor of the shipwreck and is left on the island to find sustenance. He manages to live on the island for an incredible amount of years before making the acquaintance of a cannibal he names Friday. One day, Friday catches sight of an English ship, which soon relieves him of his sentence on the island.

Robinson Crusoe is definitely an interesting story. Personally, I found the story to drag a bit after the most climactic events had already passed and at points, the author’s Old English can become difficult to decipher. For someone who has not read it, I would definitely recommend it since it is a classic novel.

1. The author’s main purpose in writing the book is for entertainment. The author writes the story as if it were a memoir and leaves distinct clues that hint to reality to give the reader an interesting glimpse into the adventure of Robinson Crusoe.
2. There are several themes evident in this novel, but one of the largest themes is perseverance in the face of a trying situation. Daniel Defoe supports this theme by showing Crusoe’s endurance and ability to survive all alone on the island for several years. Robinson scavenges the land for what he can utilize despite his apparent death sentence on the island, Robinson makes-do rather well without losing sanity.
3. The author develops and supports the thesis greatly throughout the novel, possibly, before Robinson has even shipwrecked. Robinson’s father constantly stresses the danger of adventuring too far, and when Robinson is the only survivor on the island, he soon realizes this. At first, he seems desperate and hopeless, but with the passage of time, Robinson soon becomes a master scavenger.
4. Having been written in the 1600’s, the tale of Robinson Crusoe does not address any modern issues that would still affect the present. Basically, Robinson Crusoe deals with a situation that would drive any average person to the edge. Crusoe’s willingness to survive shows how endurance can get you through even the most difficult challenges.

Add comment June 2, 2009


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