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Reviewing Peter Rabbit!

We just watched Peter Rabbit for my sister's birthday; what a fun movie! Check out my thoughts :)

Stanford-ASU dual meet: Travel Diaries

We just visited Stanford for the Satanford ASU dual meet. Got to watch some samazing swims, even saw Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel race! Check out some highlights of our trip!

Book Review: Hunting Prince Dracula

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

“Next stop, Bran Castle. And all the delightful miscreants who study there.” 

“We’re about to study there,” I reminded him. 

He sank into his blanket, doing a poor job at hiding his smile. “I know.”


Hunting Prince Dracula was such an amazing book. I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper so much; especially because of Thomas. 

Thomas is literally wonderful; don’t fight me on this, okay?  


Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.  But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again. 


Beyond Thomas, though, Audrey Rose has achieved her forensic dreams by studying at a Romanian forensics academy. However, she is still haunted by the Ripper case and is struggling to move forward in her forensic career. But when strange murders start popping up, she still can’t quell her curiosity. Doesn’t help that the forensics academy is housed in Dracula’s old castle in the middle of a reportedly haunted forest. To complicate things, her relationship with Thomas is becoming strained as well. 

Honestly, Audrey Rose has grown so much as a character; she changes so much through these two books. She doesn’t let the horrors of the Ripper case stop her; no matter how brutal it was on her. She doesn’t let the demons overcome her, but fights them as much as she can. She breaks sometimes, but she pushes on more than she lets up.  

The literal opposite is happening to Thomas. He starts off cold and clinical; but Audrey Rose twists him into an emotional mess, and he starts messing up the things he’s the best at.  

Both Audrey and Thomas are kind of in a mess, and things get even more messed up in Hunting Prince Dracula. But by the end of the book, they’ve still decided to focus on the bright side. God, they’re amazing.  

The plot itself is pretty interesting. The murders compel you to find the killer; you have to figure what on earth is going on. Audrey’s curiosity is contagious and you get swept up in the mystery. Maniscalco manages to keep the story from becoming too dark. She balances the brutal murders with banter between Audrey and Thomas, and lighter moments that Audrey shares with her friends.  

Speaking of friends, Audrey struggles to fit in at the academy, but embraces the few friends that she does make. Competition between the students is fierce, and the others look down on her already. The headmaster is awful to her, and her investigations keep getting her in trouble.  

There’s quite a few characters, but not enough to be confusing. Most of them are unimportant, but they add so much to the story. (Although I love Thomas, it’s nice to see Audrey interacting with other people as well.) 

All in all, Hunting Prince Dracula carries on the legacy of Stalking Jack the Ripper splendidly. There are so many Thomas moments that I used up all my sticky notes marking them. And the best is yet to come: check out the new excerpt from Escaping From Houdini, and the gorgeous cover!

Justice League Avengers Comparison

Checking out some similiraties between the Justice League and the Avengers!

Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America book review

Doctor Benjamin Franklin Franklin's Dream America by Damien Lincoln Ober

Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America caught my attention as soon as I heard of it.  

It is 1777, in a colonial America where the internet, social media, and ubiquitous electronic communications are fully woven into the fabric of society. Hours after a top-secret Congressional sub-committee uploads the Articles of Confederation, a mysterious internet plague breaks loose in the cloud, killing any user who accesses a networked device. Seven in ten Americans are dead, the internet is abandoned. Seizing the moment, the British take control of New York and Philadelphia, scattering what little remains of the rebellion. 

Honestly, history has never been one of my favorite subjects, so I’m always on the lookout for books that bring stories in history. Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America brings an interesting spin on the revolution, though, by imagining what it would have been like with the internet. The book tells the story of each of the signers of the Declaration of the Independence—or their deaths at least.  

This book made me look at America’s history in a different way, and in an engaging way! I love how the stories of each of the signers are woven together in a way that feels fluid, even as the story switched rapidly between all of them; there were 56 of them!  

Aside from history, there are also some intriguing points brought up about the internet. The plague that sweeps through the internet forces people to stay offline. And it literally starts tearing the country apart. Without the internet, the people have no idea where their leaders are, what the government is doing. All they see is death around them. It actually makes you question how things worked back then, makes it a little easier to understand how so many miscommunications occurred back then.  

On the other hand, it also shows the power of social media. Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America is the name of a new social media that popped up during the revolution. And it led to some major changes and upheaval, and eventually even became a contesting power to the government itself. A good lesson in the power of the people; every voice matters, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the internet.  

On the whole though, this was an absolutely delightful story to read, and it gave me such a different view of America’s history.  


Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

This rebooted film was just as hilarious and exciting as you would expect :) 

The Roanoke Girls Book Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls was … wow. Okay, so it’s been too long since I’ve read a thriller, and this was really satisfying. 

The Roanoke Girls follows Lane Roanoke. Lane’s mother died when she was fifteen, and she was sent to live her grandparents, who were already raising her cousin Allegra. Allegra explains their family’s tragic history, and how all ‘The Roanoke Girls’ either ran away or died. Lane is disturbed, but she feels at home for the first time with her grandfather and cousin. But when she finds out her family’s secret, she runs away to avoid the same fate as all the other Roanoke girls. Eleven years later, though, Allegra goes missing. Lane comes back to Kansas, determined to find out what happened to her. 

The Roanoke Girls turned out to have all the most important elements of a thriller. There were switching points of views, and time, to give only a fragmented picture to the reader. The suspicion swings from one theory to another, accusations fall on one character then another, and the final resolution is a complete surprise. And, there’s a creepy house.  

I like the fast pace of this story. I kept turning pages, and finished this book in one day. It doesn’t drag on, but it’s a perfect thriller. The psychology of the characters, and why they do the things that they do sticks with you long after you finish reading.  

The characters were fleshed out well, with distinct personalities. None of them were perfectly good or bad, but fell into the more realistic gray zone.  

Overall, The Roanoke Girls an engrossing read, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You won’t be able to put this book down until you finish!

 

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.   Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.   As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from BloggingForBooks.com

Florida Travel Diaries!

An overview of my adventures in Florida :)

Tiger Zinda Hai Movie Review

Just watched Tiger Zinda Hai ... turned out to be better than I was expecting! Check out why :)

Infinity War Trailer: Everything You Need to Know

Unless you live under a rock, or even if you do, you've probably heard of the Avengers: Infinity War Trailer. Here's everything you need to know, from new heroes to a plot overview.

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New York Street Style Review

New York Street Style: A coloring Book by Zoe de las Cases

Depending on how artsy you think of yourself, you may or may not have considered trying out the new coloring book trend. I know that I was very skeptical of the so-called “adult coloring books” because coloring is to practice hand-eye coordination, right? But when I saw this New York Street Style coloring book, I thought why not? And wow.  

Adult coloring gets a makeover with charming, fashion-forward illustrations from the city that never sleeps.  

Wherever you’re off to, take New York Street Style with you. Transport yourself to bustling New York, and give life to the city. Beautifully detailed outfits, accessories, and hairstyles complement iconic skylines and intricate street scenes. Embellish whimsical, full-page patterns with your own touch and window shop the elegant stores of New York while you make your way through an iconic city.  

This sleek, high-end package has an elastic closure and a satin ribbon marker so you can dip in and dip out of your own New York fashion week. With nothing more than some colored pencils, you’ll be on your way to a perfect New York day. 

First off, the pictures in this book are absolutely gorgeous. They are just simple line drawings, but they look amazing. I really like the different fashions shown in the book. It’s kinda hard to color them because they look so nice as is.  

Despite considering myself rather creative, it turns out that I’m not very good at coloring. Rather than creating art though, coloring is actually weirdly relaxing. It’s a super easy way to exercise my creativity for a few minutes every day, and it helps me focus better afterwards.  

Honestly though, this book is so beautiful. It feels very fancy, and I think that adds to overall tone of the book. The art and the style is very sophisticated, and it really felt like a different experience as compared to the coloring books that you probably remember from your childhood.


Disclaimer: I received this book for reviewing from BloggingForBooks.org.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Th1rteen R3asons Why I will be More Kind

1. I am thankful for you (yes, you!) 

2. If I admire you, and you feel unloved, I have an issue 

3. If I want to be your friend, and you feel lonely, I’m doing something wrong 

4. If you give up because you’re lonely, I will feel tremendously guilty 

5. So, I will make sure you know that I look up to you. 

6. And that means you have something that this world needs 

7. Whether you can see it or not 

8. Your world doesn’t revolve around me, 

9. and neither does mine around you,  but you need to know that I hold you in high regard. 

10. So if I say something strange, like “nice socks” 

11. Just know that 

12. What I meant to say was 

13. “I wish you would smile more”

🎁 Priyanka Chopra 🎂

Priyanka Ma’am,

When I first saw you on screen, I was three years old. I remember watching you on the big screen and promptly falling in love. You were absolutely stunning, and you became my favorite actress instantly. I loved watching you. For years, whenever everyone asked me who my favorite actress was, the answer was always Priyanka Chopra. If anyone dared ask why, the answer was always the same. You were beautiful. Stunning. My friends can testify. You became the beauty standard. “She’s not pretty. Priyanka Chopra is pretty.” And that was that. No one could argue.   

But now, twelve years later, as I watch you, I see something different. You are still the most stunning person I’ve ever seen. The difference, though, is that it doesn’t matter. People ask why I love Priyanka Chopra and your looks are the last thing that come to mind. The words that tumble out of my mouth are more like an undiscernible mess consisting of words like “dedicated” “hardworking “courageous”. Your hard work is inspiring, the way you carry yourself and talk to others is an example. Thank you, for teaching me that beauty is a good thing to have, but it’s only one thing. True inspiration comes from those who are strong at heart, willing to follow their dreams, and sensible under pressure. You embody these beliefs, and I am proud to call you my role model.

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

I'm a little biased, but it was MARVELous

Spiderman has always been my favorite superhero. The 2000 version was the very first superhero movie that I watched, and it really triggered my Marvel Mania big-time. Also, Spiderman is a high schooler, and he’s super relatable. His struggles are just so much more interesting than the other heroes. Instead of ‘Can I get over my huge ego and apologize before everyone gets killed?’ it’s more like ‘Can I break out of this warehouse in time for the pool party?’.  

Peter really struggles with keeping his dual identity to himself, especially when everyone at school turns into Spiderman’s cheerleaders, but he’s still virtually unknown. That’s where his best friend, Ned comes in. When Ned accidentally finds out Peter’s secret, he is always willing to help. Ned really keeps Peter from feeling too alone. However, Michelle (played by Zendaya) was a little disappointing. Since it was Zendaya, I thought that she would have a much bigger part, and was really expecting something fabulous. Her role was minimal in the trailers as well, so I thought that it was going to be a surprise, but her character did not turn out to be very important. She was not really a key component of the story in any way, but it was nice to see her around. I'm pretty confident that she’ll be back with a bigger role in the future, but it was a little underwhelming.  

Next to serious Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, quiet Scarlet Witch, robotic Vision, and businessman Iron Man, Spiderman shines because he’s so young, optimistic, enthusiastic, and intimidated. Very intimidated by Iron Man, and also very starstruck. 

Also, Iron Man. Woohoo my favorite superhero. His part was pretty perfect. I thought that he would be on screen more, but this movie was all about spidey. Of course, his struggles to impress Tony Stark are a big part of the story, but Tony Stark does not show up very much, which puts more focus on Spiderman, while still having some Iron Man. It’s great. 

Putting Spiderman next to Iron Man was a great idea because it really brings his inexperience into a harsher light. Peter struggles with everything, literally. Even when he manages to unlock new features on his suit, he can’t figure out how to use them. It also shows Iron Man in a different way, how he feels guilty about throwing Peter into the crossfire.  

The plot of the movie was pretty solid. It was understandable, but not boring. The plot twist at the end really threw me; I wasn’t expecting that, and it really tied the whole story together. The most important thing is that you can really understand where the villain is coming from. It’s not just some random guy killing people for the fun of it. The villain is just as important to any story as the hero, and the way that the Vulture is portrayed is very understandable.  

All of the cast was fantastic, especially Tom Holland as our extremely relatable and very entertaining Peter Parker. Jacob Batalon is excellent as Peter’s best friend Ned, and Laura Harrier, Zendaya, and Tony Revolori make wonderful classmates. Marisa Tomei is especially amazing as Aunt May, with her overprotective, but severely misguided attempts to help Peter. 


For the unacquainted, here’s Spiderman’s origin story, since that’s not part of the movie—Spiderman just shows up fully formed. 

After his parents were killed (sources vary exactly on how and why), Peter Parker was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. From an early age, it became clear that he was extremely gifted at science and math. During a high school field trip, he was bitten by a radioactive spider. The radiation and venom altered his DNA, granting him spider-like powers including superhuman strength and agility. Later on, he also designed his signature web slingers, which allow him to shoot spider webs from his wrists. He originally was not interested in fighting crime, and let a thief get away. However, that same man went on to kill Peter’s uncle Ben, causing Peter to take up life as vigilante crime-fighter. 


Final Thoughts: I knew that it would be great. No matter what, I was already so excited to see Spiderman on the screen, Marvel style, I gave this movie five stars before I even stepped foot into the theaters. Whoops. 

All said and done, I urge you to go check it out, because it was just as great as I was expecting :) 


-Medha Upadhyay

Teenage Monarchs

Kids Running Countries?

Hhmmmm…. So. It seems that I have developed a slight obsession with a fictional character.  

Yikes. Okay. Anyone that knows me can attest that is a vast understatement. In an effort to figure out exactly which characters retain my attention, I’ve started classifying them. One category is teenage monarchs. I definitely have an affinity towards young souls who are prematurely forced to carry the burden of entire civilizations on their backs.  

So, here are my top seven teenage monarchs.  

7. Maxon Schreave {The Selection by Kiera Cass} 

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. 

Okay, so Maxon’s actually pretty nice, and watching him make this super skewed and nearly-impossible decision made me like him (tbh, I liked him more than Aspen from the get-go :). The first time America meets Maxon, she’s having a panic attack. She breaks down and insults him, but he responds graciously and still tries to make friends with her.  Despite all his overwhelming responsibilities, he still makes time for the little things. If he wasn’t the crown Prince of Ilea, he’d like to be a photographer. When America mentions how she used to go to bed hungry before the Selection, he instates a massive program to feed the poor--nearly overnight.  

6. Maven Calore {The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard} 

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart. 

So Maven Calore is this mysterious Silver prince mentioned in this blurb. He’s pretty quiet and shy, and obedient. He’s constantly overshadowed by his older brother, crown prince Tiberias “Cal” Calore. This totally sold me. Cal comes off as a brag and a show-off, while Maven is underestimated and quietly kind. Despite being a prince, he’s surprisingly powerless. The way to he acts with authority and then sneaks around behind the scenes is great. Maven and Mare finally join forces, but … well. No spoilers today.  

5. Kaito {Cinder by Marissa Meyer} 

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on. Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived. But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for. 

Prince Kai comes all the way down to see Cinder, who is a lowly cyborg, for help. A prince asking for help from a commoner? Like him already. Throughout the story, he provides humor and care to Cinder, even though he has many, many issues to deal with as the crown prince of Eastern Commonwealth. Even though Cinder lies to him and misleads him, he still shows her sympathy and respect. 

 4. Eadlyn Schreave {The Heir By Kiera Cass} 

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, her mother entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible. But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests. Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought. Note: This is the fourth book in the Selection series, and it obviously contains spoilers as to whom Maxon picked. Read at your own risk. 

Eadlyn is actually a pretty annoying person. She is not loved as much as her father, Prince Maxon, and she is severely struggling to show Ilea that she will be a worthy ruler someday. However, her attitude towards life in general is very relatable. Her public façade around others makes her feel in control, but quickly pushes them away. This is a relatable character, as it is tough to find a balance. If someone is too open, they will have fun and be loved. But they risk being manipulated and hurt. If someone stays brisk and aloof, they will always be in control and on track. But then they risk being lonely, and never forming true connections. It’s a timeless conundrum. Throw in Eadlyn’s responsibilities to her country, and the hawk-eyed media, and you have a monarch to watch.  

3. Tyrus {The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid} 

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she's been told she doesn't have - humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire. 

This book is filled with so many plot twists. Like, I can’t even. Tyrus isn’t even briefly mentioned in the blurb. He starts off as the next in line to the throne. Some stuff is off about him, the reason to why he’s the successor is very strategic for the gain of some, and the protection of others. As the plot twists and twists, Tyrus does become increasingly important. Despite being the next in line to become Emperor, he gives Nemesis’ life equal value to his. He looks up to her and wants to learn from her. From a diabolic. The respect that Tyrus gives Nemesis helps her learn to respect herself, and his faith in her helps her believe in herself. Tyrus isn’t all fluff though. He’s more than willing to blow people up, stab people, poison people … well, you get the idea.  

2. Khalid Ibn al-Rashid {The Wrath and the Dawn By Renee Ahdieh} 

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all. Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets? 

Tormented heart? Sign me up! I went into this story expecting lots of action, but there really isn’t. What you see here is what you get. Aside from that, though, the way that Khalid is portrayed in this story is wonderful. At the beginning, it’s easy to see Shahrzad’s quest for revenge. You kind of want to see a sword go through Khalid. But very quickly, you start to see the inner turmoil and confusion. Khalid is doing his best to keep his kingdom together, even if it means sacrificing his own conscience.

  1. Rhiannon Ta’an {Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza}

 CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA'AN WANTS VENGEANCE. The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne - and her revenge. ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye. Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder. The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding - even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee's name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy. 

 Rhee is such a great character because she defies expectations left and right. Everyone thinks that she is docile and obedient, and she uses it to her advantage. She shows that underestimating your opponents is a costly mistake. She was helpless once, and she has made sure that it will never happen again. As her empire crumbles around her, she is forced into hiding to find out who is behind her—and why. Her need to avenge her family’s murder and lead her empire to peace are warring interests as Rhee struggles to win back all that she has lost.   

BONUS. Tony Stark {Iron Man Robert Downey Jr.} 

Okay, so Tony Stark is not a teenager. And he’s not really a monarch, more like a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, but c’mon. That’s basically a 21st century monarch. And he was definitely a teenager at some point.  

Tony is great because he is super sharp; literally a cacti. He can be rude and flippant, mean and sarcastic. He’s used to being left behind and fending for himself. He’s never found the benefits of teamwork, because he’s always, always, had to watch his back. No one has ever given him a hand just for the sake of helping. He’s learnt to distance himself. He’s not a bad person, but he is afraid of being hurt. Also, he’s a genius! Literally. 



We Need a Black Widow Movie

Marvel Studios, 

LLC 500 S. Buena Vista Street 

Burbank, CA 91521   

To whom it may concern:  

I am a huge fan of the Marvel characters and movies. I have fallen in love with the franchise ever since I watched The Avengers. Since then, I have been hard at work collecting merchandise and staying up-to-date on new releases. However, I have one complaint for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a female superhero fan, I have noticed a startling void of strong female leads in the Marvel movies. One of the most under played characters is Black Widow. Her character has such potential for a super hit Marvel movie. Not only is her past dark and mysterious, she’s also a quick thinker and a superb fighter.   

Of course, Black Widow has appeared in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. But rather than her character becoming more defined and relatable, she’s been pushed off to the side. We’re learning more about her male counterpart, Hawkeye, but her role has been deteriorating. Rather than focusing on her competence in the field, viewers are told to focus on her romance with Bruce Banner. Instead of her being portrayed as a strong asset to the team, she is captured and jailed by Ultron, only to be released by Bruce a few scenes later.  

In an era where nearly half of superhero fans are female, there is no reason to continuously portray Marvel women as love interests and damsels in distress. Black Widow, particularly, is not only a wonderful action hero, she is quite close to mortal. Some comic book storylines state that she is genetically enhanced, but most can come to a consensus that she has gained her skills through hard work and sheer dedication. She has faced great challenges, but made her way through. She would make a wonderful role model to children all over the world. Watching Natasha’s marvelous journey will surely inspire young girls and boys to become better, stronger, people.   

Moreover, parent company Disney seems to have embraced their female leads, delivering hits like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Zootopia. Seeing as Marvel’s popularity and sales skyrocketed after the Disney acquisition in 2009, one can only wait for the day when Marvel takes the hint as well.   

Marvel is not only a company; it’s a way of life. I just hope that this way of life can be more inclusive in the future.   

Sincerely,

Medha Upadhyay

For the Love of Books!

Books can change your life ...

Every time I talk to someone about my book, they always ask, “How did you start writing?” And the answer to that, always, is that I started reading. All the books that I read filled my head with imagination and wonder, morales and beliefs. When I sat down to write, I realized that I was just bursting with ideas, and a lot of that came from the stories that I read. Somehow, people today don’t seem to have time for books. They’re always busy, or telling themselves that they’re busy. They’ve always got something better to do. But I’m here to tell you that that is false. You are not too busy to read, and it is not something to be taken lightly. As Sean Covey, Author of Seven Habits for Highly Effective Teens has pointed out, some of the greatest minds in the world barely attended school. Abraham Lincoln spent less than twelve months in a formal school. Then how did he, and others like him, become so knowledgeable? Because they were constantly reading. They read every book they could get their hands on. Of course, we are all very lucky to go to such a wonderful school. But for those who had no choice, they turned to books. And it paid off. 

See, books teach us lessons. They appeal to our human nature and try to make us better people. By trying to understand these fictional characters, we are forced to look at the people around us, and then finally ourselves. Characters can serve as role models and show us what we should strive towards; or as bad examples, and what we should stay away from at all costs. 

Books push us to become the best version of ourselves, they challenge our beliefs, and show us new ways to solve old problems. Books force us to slow down and think. And it  is these thoughts that allow us to grasp the immensity of a story.  Books can force you to take a step away from ourself. To think about others; to notice and observe a little more. Books can show us the vastness of the universe, and our problems don’t look so very big after a good book.  By sifting through a story carefully, we can find the morals. With a little more practice, we can find the ways to apply these lessons to our lives. An author’s goal is to present a story that stays with the reader, because it made them a better person.

Women on 20's

Women on dollar bills?

Recently, there has been a big controversy in politics. Feminists across the nation have been heading a movement to put a woman on a dollar bill. However, there is more to the debate than you might realize, and there are several underlying issues that have come to the light as a result of this movement. 

Looking over all American dollar bills, it quickly becomes clear that there is not a single female face. From George Washington to Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin to Alexander Hamilton, all the figures immortalized on paper currency are men. 

And a spark was lit. The flames quickly grew, with feminists jumping to action. “Girls are just as important as boys!” one kindergartner protested. From young girls to grown women, many were outraged by this blatant show of sexism. 

One such change-maker wrote a letter to President Obama. Nine-year-old Sofia explains that there should be more women on American currency due to the important things that they have done. Another group of pioneers got together and created Women on 20’s.  

The group has been gaining popularity rapidly. The nonprofit organization hopes to convince president Obama to put a woman’s face on American paper currency. Pointing to examples from other countries, they state that “A woman’s place is on the money.” 

But Women on 20’s faced a tough decision. Which iconic founding father should be booted off his bill? They decided on Andrew Jackson. He was a slave owner and he passed the Indian Removal Act, which lead to the death of over 4,000 Native Americans.  

Another question was who to replace him with. Which woman deserved to be on the 20 dollar bill? Women on 20’s set up an online poll to answer this. Options included Sojourner Truth, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and many others. 

With one hundred eighteen thousand, three hundred and twenty eight votes, Harriet Tubman emerged as the top choice of America. Second runner up was Eleanor Roosevelt, seven thousand votes behind.  Harriet Tubman was an inspirational and courageous woman that risked her life to guide thousands of runaway slaves to freedom. The people she helped called her Moses, because she led her people out of slavery just as Moses did in the bible. She truly was god-gifted. 

Perhaps more influentially, the government is sending a message as well. If they put Tubman on the twenty dollar bill, they are saying, “America isn’t sexist. Look at this woman on the dollar bill! By the way, we aren’t racist either.” But if you dig down, you can see what this would really show about our country. So we have a woman on a dollar bill. Big whoop. The only reason she’s on there is because she’s a woman. 

When looking to get rid of the scandalous Jackson, only women were considered. What if there were other men that could have taken Jackson’s place? The fact of the matter is that Harriet Tubman is going to be on the twenty dollar bill because she is a woman. It’s only a move of pity. They thought that the only way a woman could be on the dollar bill was if only women were considered. Similarly, WHY do we have a best actress award? Why do we have to put women in a separate category for acting? Because that’s the only way they could win an Oscar? 

Taking a step back from these particular examples, I would like to clear up some misconceptions about feminism. Feminism is simply a belief in the equality of genders. It’s called feminism because it is focused towards raising the status of women to be on par with those of men. In today’s world, feminism has become an excuse for sexism. Women who look down on men are not feminists; they’re sexists. 

Feminists simply want women to have the same opportunities and rights as men. The goal is to level the playing the playing field, so that women can be successful alongside men. The idea is not to give women an unfair advantage. Feminists hope that women will not be discriminated against, treated differently, or underestimated just because of gender.  The bottom line is that women have goals and dreams, too. They are tired of being pushed around and demeaned, and denied what they want. They would like to be appreciated and treated fairly. They want the world to accept that a woman is capable of working hard and achieving great things.  

Really, the country should focus on bringing people together. I feel that putting a woman on the dollar bill is not doing that. By putting a WOMAN on the dollar bill, they’re dividing people. Rather than bringing everyone together, they’re clearly splitting men and women. At the end of the day, I look up to the courageous women that have worked so hard to make their dream a reality. But I feel that putting a woman on the dollar bill is simply going to drive our country apart. 

If people believe a woman should be on the dollar bill, that’s great! But she should be on there because she is a great person, not because she is great woman. Feminism is not a shortcut for women to get what they want. It’s a movement to give them the opportunities they need.  

Thank you,

Medha Upadhyay