The Hawk's Eye

2020-21 Student Council

On May 6th, the student body met virtually to elect members to fill student council positions for the 2020-2021 school year. Although it was a tight race with all very promising candidates, the student body named Lisa Kopelnik ‘21 and Cole Wogan ‘21 as All-School Co-Presidents, Sophie Coutu ‘21 and Loucas Xenakis ‘21 as All-School Spirit Masters, Audrey Hardtke ‘22 as All-School Secretary, and Hayden Thompson ‘23 as All-School Treasurer. 

With the future for the school year being so uncertain, it is important that the School’s leadership has clear first steps for the time to come, whether that be in a distance-learning format or not. 

All-School Co-Presidents Kopelnik and Wogan are working to figure out ways to create change from home. Some of their immediate goals include creating adult-free forums over Google Meet for the student body to voice their opinions and ideas and sending Google Forms where students can vote on policy proposals. Some of their goals for the year include frequent meetings with the administration, “specifically the Board of Student Life, the Board of Finances and Financial Administration” (Kopelnik). They also want to work with Ms. Pak and Ms. Tucker and “make sure we’re updated on teacher training.” 

Despite our current distance-learning format, they don’t believe we need to halt all of the projects started this year, and there is still lots of work that can be accomplished from home and online. Some of their goals include implementing consistent consent training, creating clear policies surrounding the use of derogatory language, and combating the School’s issues with racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia. The newly-elected Co-Presidents are making it a point to prioritize policy creation and increased communication within the community and with the administration.  

By the end of their term, they want the School to be a less stressful place that cares about the emotional wellbeing of the students, prioritizes their needs, and is a safer place for marginalized communities. 

The All-School Spirit Masters Coutu and Xenakis are “prepared to go to any lengths they need to in order to make spirit inclusive, community-oriented, and fun for everyone” (Coutu). They are planning to close out the year on a high note and work with Interim Head of the Upper School Saya McKenna, administration, and student council to work through the current circumstances. Some of their ideas include a virtual lip-sync and other fun events and challenges that are online-accessible. They also want to reach out to the community for ideas and opinions and increase communication with the student body and administration. They’ve already taken the initiative to involve the students in their plans through a Google Form accessible via their Instagram (@chaboi_spirit_2020). 

Next year, they’re planning on rebooting spirit committee to reach out to different grades and keep everyone in the loop and bring back the fan-favorite game of Assassin (given that we’re back in school). They want to determine students’ favorite traditions in spirit and introduce new ones. They intend to implement more school-wide events like a field day and spaces where students can come together and take a break from the stressful school environment. Their main goals for the year are to increase transparency, encourage people to have fun, and foster community through participation in spirit days. 

All-School Secretary Hardtke wants to work on finishing the projects that were started this year, such as the Incident Feedback Form, and working with the administration to create harsher rules surrounding racial slurs. After finalizing those, she wants to start working on the goals mentioned in the leadership’s campaigns and make the student council more transparent. In order to accomplish this objective, she wants to utilize social media and make an Instagram account specifically for the student council to promote and increase communication. Ideas for said account include polls for quick feedback and weekly to bi-weekly posts to keep the student body informed. 

Finally, All-School Treasurer Thompson wants to do more fundraising (whether it be online or in-person) next year for both the student council and outside organizations. She admits that planning student events will be more difficult during a pandemic, but she is willing to work with the business office to make the proper adjustments. She also wants to fund more clubs, make it easier for them to reach out, plan more student events if possible, and encourage the student body to input ideas. She is ready to listen to her fellow student council members and allocate funds to whatever requires increased funding, ranging from spirit days to racial training and mental health days. Her main priority is improving student experience, and she wants to put funding towards activities and events that benefit the students the most.     

Overall, the leaders’ main goals are to create lasting and meaningful change, increase transparency, and make the school year great for everyone, whether online or in-person. Student council advisor Ms. McKenna is also hopeful for this upcoming school year, stating, “I was so pleased to see so many invested students put themselves forward as candidates for leadership. Their statements and platforms reflected very detailed and comprehensive goals for building and strengthening our community and delivering upon our mission—especially by continuing to elevate and address the issues raised by our community of color. This is important work at any time, but especially so in a period of distance and disruption. There is a lot of important and challenging work ahead of us as we return to campus in the 20-21 SY, and this team seems well-equipped and committed to delivering upon their goals of prioritizing the student experience.” 

COVID-19 and College Admissions

COVID-19 and College Admissions

Along with other uncertainties, the coronavirus pandemic has left prospective college students anxious about what the future of their education will look like. While current high school seniors are now faced with the possibility of transitioning to a full-time online college education, the members of the junior class are reviewing updated standardized testing policies, attending virtual campus tours and webinars, communicating with counselors online, and hoping for the best. 

Social distancing policies have certainly complicated the college admissions process. High schoolers must work to craft their resumes, brainstorm essay responses, and finalize their college lists without having access to campus tours, standardized testing, or extracurriculars. Because SAT and ACT dates have either been cancelled or postponed, many colleges, including the UC schools and the Cal State system, are shifting to test-optional policies.

In a webinar presented on May 6th, the School’s college counselling team informed juniors about how they are tackling the college application process in response to the coronavirus. One of the major adjustments involves shifting to “deconstructed” college blasts. Typically, the School’s college blasts are in-person sessions that take place over summer to assist rising juniors with resume drafting, interview preparation, and more. However, they are now shifting to fully online modules. College counselor Kora Shin clarified in the webinar, “The Google Classroom modules are meant to point students where they should be and where they will be at various points in the next few months. Remember, this is still individualized.” 

Though the class of 2021 may be entering unknown territory when it comes to the newly revised admissions process, colleges emphasize that they are completely understanding of the situation. Jeremiah Quinlan, Dean of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid at Yale University, assured students that “a community’s response to the outbreak—and a student’s personal circumstance associated with it—will not negatively affect a student’s chances of admission.” 

Holistic reviewing processes are taking on a whole new meaning this year. Students who have gone through (or are currently going through) the college admissions process have heard the term “holistic review” being thrown around constantly, but what does it actually look like? Holistic review refers to a selection process in which a broad range of factors are considered, including extracurriculars and personal attributes, not just academics. This year, personal essays and student transcripts will be the major focus of a candidate’s application, since standardized testing is either postponed or cancelled. Though some high schools have shifted to a pass/fail system, college admissions counselors will still be able to gauge a student’s academic progress throughout their first three years of high school. Some colleges even say that it is very likely that their supplements will include a question relating to how a student spent their time in quarantine and how the pandemic affected them.

Along with the change in reviewing applications, some colleges and universities are also altering the way they accept AP and IB credit. The College Board published a statement addressing student concerns regarding AP credit and testing: “We’re confident that the vast majority of Higher Ed institutions will award credit as they have in the past. We’ve spoken with hundreds of institutions across the country who support our solution for this year’s AP exams.” 

Over 100 schools have confirmed that they will accept AP and IB credits from this year’s exams. While the more selective universities state that they will be accepting scores of 4 and 5 on AP exams and scores of 6 or 7 on IB exams, others state that they will also be willing to even accept a 3 on an AP or a 5 on the IB. 

Due to social distancing policies, the majority of the country’s colleges and universities have cancelled on-campus interviews. This also means that international students will be negatively impacted because of travel restrictions. However, some schools will be offering sign-ups for Skype interviews with local alumni and admissions officers this fall. 

Colleges and universities still depend on the tuition of the students they admit, and while that may mean capping the amount of gap years or regulating financial assistance, they are still relying on student attendance to supply revenue. Some schools plan on continuing in-person classes while regulating the amount of students allowed? on campus. Others have considered having alternating sessions in which only a small portion of the student body is allowed on campus per day. 

For rising seniors applying for fall 2021 admission, there are a multitude of ways to stay engaged and informed on the college process. Attend virtual information sessions and tours, begin brainstorming possible essay responses, and get creative with extracurricular activities. Visit college websites, sign up for college mailing lists, research scholarship opportunities, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Everyone is navigating this process together.

Drama 2’s “A Quarantine Mystery” Episode 2

Drama 2’s “A Quarantine Mystery” Episode 1

What Professional Athletes Are Doing During Quarantine

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Wimbledon, the biggest tennis tournament in the world, was cancelled 30 days ago. The NBA, MLB, MLS, and NHL are all suspended for the time being and it doesn’t look like they are coming back anytime soon. So what are professional athletes, the stars of these leagues doing? Well, pretty much the same things we are doing: reading books, attempting to stay in shape through neighborhood walks and treadmill runs, playing with pets, and most popular of all, video games. Athletes are becoming very involved in esports: two examples include the “Call of Duty: Warzone” tournament hosted for NBA players by basketball magazine Slam, and the widely popular, MLB sponsored “MLB The Show” league, where one player from each professional baseball team mans their virtual squad and participates in a full season.

Professional sports players have also been increasingly active on social media, posting videos of themselves training, playing with their children, and facetiming teammates. Big name NFL players Saquan Barkley, George Kittle, and Jamal Adams have conducted live stream interviews over the NFL’s Instagram account. Many MLB All Stars including Mike Trout, Max Scherzer, Aaron Judge, and Blake Snell have also answered questions on the MLB Instagram. This trove of interviews has given us insight into the thoughts of athletes during these crazy disease ridden times.

While most athletes are focusing on bettering themselves physically and entertaining their fans on Instagram, Warriors point guard Steph Curry is focusing on helping out the larger community of Oakland. Steph and his wife Ayesha are helping send out over 300 thousand meals a week through their foundation “Eat. Learn. Play” (SF Chronicle).

Overall, this documentation of what professional athletes are doing currently helps to illustrate where our focus and attention goes to during times like these. Though some athletes are being proactive in helping their communities with the pandemic, a good majority of professional athletes are sticking to the route of video games and Instagram. This serves as a good lesson for all of us: while it is enjoyable to play video games and have a good time, it is much more critical and significant to focus on the people who are most in need currently. Hopefully you can find some joy in helping others.

Claudia’s Movie Recommendations

Claudia's Movie Recommendations

Movies have always been a source of emotional comfort for me. When I was really young, before I could even walk, my parents would sit me down between the two of them on our worn couch and turn on a movie every Friday night. Now, during these uncertain, anxiety-provoking, and unfamiliar times, I’ve once again turned to watching movies for comfort and distraction. This is a list of some of my all-time favorites, as well as ones I’ve recently watched that I think you should, too. 

 

(Disclaimer: I am in no way a seasoned movie critic, and I don’t really know any movie jargon or anything. These are just some movies I find really interesting/funny/lovely to watch!)

 

 

  • Midsommar (2019)

 

Basic Plot Summary: A couple travel to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled midsummer festival, but what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. (Courtesy of Wikipedia) 

 

Holy moly this movie was crazy. Personally, I had been avoiding it because I don’t do too well with really, really gory stuff, and from what I’d heard about Hereditary (Ari Aster’s other big movie), I didn’t think I could handle it. However, quarantine boredom combined with a burning curiosity led me to watch it one fateful night. It was crazy. The gore was intense at times, and there were certain scenes I watched from behind my fingers (like the cliff scene). However, the story was enthralling and disturbing all at once, and I could not tear my eyes away (except for the cliff scene- it escalated quite quickly). The cinematography is beautiful, and the bright colors and beautiful shots almost make you forget you’re watching a nightmare-fueled film. It almost makes me want to join a Swedish cult. If you like movies where you get a pit in your stomach from the first scene that doesn’t leave until the end, then you should definitely watch this one. Just do it. It’s worth it, in my opinion. Except for the cliff scene. That was tough.

Rate: 9.5/10 

Where you can find it: Kanopy, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video

 

 

  • Parasite (2019)

 

Basic Plot Summary: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

 

I watched this one a few weeks ago, and it literally has not left my mind since then. I know it’s gotten a lot of hype because of its award-show success, and let me tell you one thing: it deserves more. I went in blind, and came out at a loss for words. The story is eye-opening and makes a cut-throat commentary on classism and the struggle of the working class. It’s also a really interesting concept for a movie, and I thought Bong Joon-Ho did an incredible job at executing it. I definitely think watching this movie has made me much more open to watching foreign films (not that I was ever against it), and the subtitles don’t take away from the drama at all. I wish I could brainwash myself so that I forgot I watched it just to have the experience of watching it for the first time again. 

Rate: 10/10

Where you can find it: Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Youtube

 

 

  • Kill Bill, Volume 1 and 2 (2003 & 2004)

 

Basic Plot Summary: A former assassin, known simply as The Bride (Uma Thurman), wakes from a coma four years after her jealous ex-lover Bill (David Carradine) attempts to murder her on her wedding day. Fueled by an insatiable desire for revenge, she vows to get even with every person who contributed to the loss of her unborn child, her entire wedding party, and four years of her life. After devising a hit list, The Bride sets off on her quest, enduring unspeakable injury and unscrupulous enemies. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

 

Okay, so remember how I mentioned how I was bad with gore? This movie probably is the one I’m most surprised I actually made it through. My mom persuaded me to watch it, because a.) she thinks I’m a baby and b.) Quentin Tarantino is one of her favorite directors. I was definitely a little nervous going in, and I will admit that the violence was pretty…violent. However, I’m still happy I watched it. The drama, cinematography, soundtrack, badass female assassins, and satisfying story of revenge made it all 100% worth it. Uma Thurman is really cool, and good at killing people, and I found myself captivated by the story from the first (gun)shot. I would recommend this movie if you’re bored of the usual rom-com or jump-scare Netflix original, because it was really refreshing and, honestly, inspirational. Not the killing part so much, but the perseverance and versatility of the main heroine. Also, it’ll give you a slew of new ideas to murder someone, so there’s that!

Rate: 9/10

Where you can find it: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video

 

 

  • Juno (2007)

 

Basic Plot Summary: When precocious teen Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) becomes pregnant, she chooses a failed rock star and his wife (Jennifer Garner) to adopt her unborn child. Complications occur when Mark, the prospective father, begins viewing Juno as more than just the mother of his future child, putting both his marriage and the adoption in jeopardy. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

 

Doing a complete 180 from the previous movies, Juno is funny, quirky, and cute. I watched it a little while ago, so it’s not as fresh in my memory, but what I do remember is how much I loved it. You immediately fall in love with Juno and become sympathetic to her story, as well as most of the other characters. It’s slightly dramatic, too, as complications arise surrounding the relationships that are made, and jeopardized, over the course of the movie. I personally also really enjoyed the soundtrack and the dry humor of many of the characters. The movie shows an accurate portrayal of what it means to be on the cusp of adulthood and learning what it means to be an adult, because they’re not so perfect either. I’d recommend watching this movie with some friends (over Facetime!) and laughing at the awkward, heartwarming interactions of the characters (especially whenever Michael Cera’s in the scene). 

Rate: 8.5/10

Where you can find it: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube

 

 

  • 500 Days of Summer (2009)

 

Basic Plot Summary: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), greeting-card writer and hopeless romantic, is caught completely off-guard when his girlfriend, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), suddenly dumps him. He reflects on their 500 days together to try to figure out where their love affair went sour, and in doing so, Tom rediscovers his true passions in life. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

 

Okay, I’m not really a rom-com person (in case it hasn’t been apparent in this list), but this movie will always be an exception. I’m a sucker for people falling in love, and then falling out of love, because I think that’s one of the saddest and most inevitable parts of being in a relationship that isn’t quite perfect. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a wonderful job at portraying a star-struck romantic trying to love a girl, or maybe just the idea of her, who doesn’t really believe in love at all. The movie is very cute, very sad, but ultimately speaks to the naïvete of young love and how it often makes us blind to reality. Despite the heartache that comes from holding out hope that the two will end up together, despite knowing from the first couple minutes exactly how it ends, this movie is definitely one of my favorites and worth the watch. The soundtrack is also really, really, really good in my opinion. Watch with your friends if you’re looking for a good cry, or with your significant other if you’re looking for an awkward conversation afterwards about why you two might fall out of love. Enjoy, lovebirds!

Rate: 10/10

Where you can find it: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play

The Return of Yellow Peril?

The Return of Yellow Peril?

Growing cases of the coronavirus are fueling racist sentiment targeting Asians across the globe. Many are viewing the spread of the virus as an excuse to voice their xenophobic beliefs and falsely profile Asians. While some are turning to humor, others view this pandemic as an opportunity to safely express their blatantly offensive rhetoric.

The idea of a “Yellow Peril” originated in the late 19th century during the surge of Chinese immigration to the United States and referred to the irrational fear of East Asians as a source of danger. The term expressed a belief that Asians were somehow a threat to the Western World and embodies the work of anti-Asian stereotypes. That being said, are people’s responses to the coronavirus suggesting that we are reverting back to the base fear of foreigners? 

The public’s ignorance and misinformation about the novel coronavirus has led to racist and xenophobic attacks against anyone in the United States who appears to be East Asian. This racist sentiment has even manifested itself in the form of assault and verbal abuse. Asian Americans in Los Angeles and New York City have reported hearing numerous public transportation passengers claiming that all Chinese people are diseased and lack basic hygiene, singling out other Asian Americans who are not even Chinese. Perhaps the most widespread form of xenophobia manifests itself in fear mongering stereotypes about Asian food, one tweet stating: “Because of some fools in China who eat weird [foods] like bats, rats, and snakes, the entire world is about to suffer a plague.”

Many are using the global hashtag “#JeNeSuisPasUnVirus” (“I am not a virus”) and other social media platforms in an attempt to defend themselves over misguided fears. The false profiling of Asians in response to the spread of the virus has led to all Asians feeling threatened and ostracized, just because of their facial features.

Not only has the coronavirus sparked racism in the United States, but it has also brought intra-Asian oppression to light. Japanese citizens have called Chinese tourists “dirty bioterrorists,” and the hashtag “#ChineseDontComeToJapan” is currently trending on Twitter. In South Korea and Malaysia, millions of people have signed petitions asking that Chinese people be banned from entering their countries. A number of Vietnamese hotels and inns have hung signs on their doors saying that Chinese guests are unwelcome, many Vietnamese even going online to demand that the border crossings with China be closed. 

The response from China’s bordering countries shows that everyone, even fellow Asians, must take accountability. While it is one thing to feel nervous about the virus, it’s another thing to accuse an entire race and group xenophobia into the fear of catching a sickness. 

The Birds Are Chirping

The Birds Are Chirping

The environmental impact of Covid-19 may be the only benefit received from the deadly virus. The United States currently emits more than 5,800 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), representing 19 percent of all global CO2 emissions despite our nation only making up 5 percent of the world’s population. Of these high emissions, 23 percent is due to transportation – cars, trucks, and airplanes. However, with shelter-in-place orders across the nation along with business and transportation closures, nitrogen and carbon levels in the United States have dropped drastically. Pollution levels in the atmosphere are typically highest during rush hour times in the morning and evening, however traffic has subsided, and rush hour is non-existent. Without the typical highway congestion, the New York Times states that traffic in Los Angeles is moving 53 times faster now than before receiving shelter-in-place orders. The number of cars crossing the Bay Bridge every day has fallen by 40 percent. Similarly, the number of cars that go into downtown Seattle for work has also fallen by 40 percent. In New York, carbon monoxide levels compared to the same time last year have reduced by 50 percent.
According to BBC, coal use in China fell by 40 percent since the last quarter of 2019, nitrogen dioxide levels dropped by 35 percent (60 percent in some cities), and the amount of “good air quality days” has risen 11.4 percent compared to the same time last year. Nitrogen dioxide levels fell 40 percent in Milan, Italy. Nitrogen dioxide levels in Madrid and Barcelona are at historic lows, dropping by 75 and 45 percent respectively since before the Covid lockdown. The reduction in air pollution is directly linked to Madrid and Barcelona’s 60 percent reduction in transportation. 

As Covid-19 forces the economy towards a recession, overall greenhouse gas emissions might fall as well. In 2008, the economic crash led to a 1.3% overall decrease in emissions. Emissions, however, were higher than ever just two years later in 2010. It is unfortunate that it took a virus to lower pollution levels in the atmosphere, and it is important that we also recognize we cannot beat climate change with a virus. It will take more policy changes for these dips in emissions to have a lasting effect, but watching carbon and nitrogen levels drop is a step towards future possibilities combating climate change. 

The Economy, Post-Coronavirus

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As of late February, COVID-19 spread from China across the world, reaching many major European nations and the United States. Social distancing, the best-known approach to combat the spread of disease, was put into effect by the United States, as well as most European nations. The United States, Italy, and China missed the “early window,” the period in which social distancing would most effectively prevent major spread. Thus, social distancing is currently being extended into early May as the disease proliferates. 

In a nutshell, the stock market crash that started on February 20th resulted in liquidity shock and financial stress. It became increasingly difficult to trade liquid assets like stocks for cash, impeding all types of investments. Without investments, many companies face financial deficits resulting in problems amassing capital, the means of production, and pressure on central banks (Carlson Szlezak et al). Between financial deficits and capital problems, the market economy saw a decrease in supply, a drop in consumer confidence (and therefore, spending), and widespread layoffs. These problems, compounded by social distancing, grew tremendously. 

Social distancing by nature puts the world in a state of recession, suppressing economic growth and activity. The economy is currently “frozen” and many businesses can not profit or operate (Carlson Szlezak et al.). About 3.28 million people filed for unemployment this past month. Consumer spending makes up about 70% of the United States’ GDP, and with many people’s jobs at stake, there will be a significant decrease in consumerism; already early figures have noted a drop of at least 8%.

There are a few methods to combat the effects of this recession. On March 25, the Trump administration passed a bill to spend $2.2 trillion to stimulate the economy by giving loans to businesses and giving $1200 checks to citizens making $75000 per year or less. This package also increases unemployment insurance benefits. The stimulus bill is meant to cushion the blow for middle and lower-income citizens who were hit especially hard by the recession. Early signs from the stock market were positive, and subsequent Congressional actions have helped the market recover half of its substantial March losses.

Tests For The Rich, Not For The Rest: The Pandemic Highlights The Class Divide

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Who is safe from a pandemic? Throughout the plethora of information about COVID-19, it is known that the elderly and the immunocompromised are highly susceptible to the virus and at greatest risk of death. In the American healthcare system, an even greater number of people are at risk of contracting the illness, and not receiving testing, treatment, or protective equipment. It seems, however, that the wealthy, celebrities, politicians, professional athletes, and others with large amounts of money to their name, find access to these scare items with ease. Why is that? 

Despite the United States containing the largest amount of COVID-19 cases in the world, America lacks globally in testing per capita. As of now, the United States is not conducting enough tests to adequately separate and treat infected patients to prevent the spread of the virus. Oftentimes when individuals are concerned about their health or possible contraction of the virus, hundreds to thousands are turned away from testing centers, receive their results in an extended period of time (several days), don’t have the protective equipment to prevent further spread of the disease, or are unable to receive treatment.  

Despite the scarcity of testing kits, asymptomatic celebrities, politicians, professional athletes, and the extremely wealthy are having COVID-19 tests made easily accessible, and results quickly received within several hours. Even in a global pandemic, threatening hundreds of thousands of immunocompromised and highly susceptible individuals, money is buying over the need for adequate testing. 

Not only does the high accessibility of testing and treatment available to the wealthy expose the overall corruption of the American healthcare system, but it also poses a threat to national and even global safety. If symptomatic individuals are being turned away from testing centers or denied treatment due to scarcity, those same individuals could possibly spread the virus even further. 

This isn’t to say that if an individual is asymptomatic and concerned about their health, they shouldn’t be tested. However, this does show that in the United States, even in the midst of a pandemic, healthcare is a privilege available to only those who can afford it.

Athena’s Must-Read Books

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The Lies of Locke Lamora, written by Scott Lynch

 

The first book of the Gentlemen Bastard series is set in the city of Camorr, based on late medieval Venice. A gang of elite con artists are emerging as rulers of the criminal underworld, and at night, when the three moons of Camorr shine down on the city, they ruin the lives of the wealthy. The close-knit group of thieves, led by the cunning Locke Lamora, is somewhat of a family, and together they prepare elaborate schemes to steal elaborate sums of money. When new forces in the underworld threaten to overthrow their entire operation, the “Gentlemen Bastards” have to defeat the mobsters that want them dead. The Lies of Locke Lamora has insane world-building, including mythical creatures, magical objects, and intricate mysteries. Its characters are never safe from the secrets hidden within the deep, wretched history of Camorr. This first installment is a tale of love, friendship, courage, magic, hope, tragedy, and good-old mischief. If you love epic fantasy, or if you find yourself guessing the endings of books by the second chapter, read this. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a truly amazing book that holds a special place in my heart.

And the sequels are even better. 

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns, written by Khaled Hosseini. 

Set in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan, two women are confined in an abusive marriage to the same man. Over time, the spite and fear they harbored for one another turns into something resembling friendship. However, nothing was ever that simple. Their husband’s growing rage, past lovers, and a worsening war threaten to unhinge the world as they know it. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story of many things, but most of all, it is a story of true love, tragedy, and bravery. How far will we go to save those we love? What if it is too late? Forgive me for being dramatic, books like this make me believe in magic. 

 

The Young Elites, written by Marie Lu. 

The first of a trilogy, this book follows a young girl, Adelina Amouteru. Ten years after the blood fever killed almost half the kingdom, only a few survived. Those who did wish they didn’t. Survivors gained strange markings on their bodies and even stranger magical powers– and out of fear and disgust they were shunned by society. Their powers were limitless: the power of illusions, where one can make you feel like you’re being stabbed until you die of pain– even with no one touching you– or the power of fire, where someone can summon infernos to their very fingertips. Adelina is one of these survivors, and finds herself among The Young Elites, a group of powerful survivors. Once she joins them, Adelina has to determine where her allegiance lies, forge friendships and defeat enemies within the circle, and learn to control her dark powers before they consume her– all while the Inquisition Axis vows to destroy powerful survivors. The Young Elites is yet another story of forbidden love, vengeance, tragedy, and magic. In a fantastic beginning to a remarkable trilogy, darkness consumes the innocent and heroes turn into villains.  

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