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A Time of Thanking and Praying
by iWrite Historian Eshaan Mani
That crisp aroma is back,
As the serene green foliage is turned to a warm amber,
And tart cranberry pies are set in the ovens,
So flavorful you can taste them.
A nippy breeze whooshes by as blackbirds swoop about
As wool sweaters are dug out from the far reaches of closets,
And the sun’s blazing glory is muted by autumn tinges.
During this time of penitent and grateful reflection
When hands are folded and ginghams are laid,
The whole family gathers to give thanks.
We give thanks for the storms that have touched and gone,
We give thanks for the great times we’ve had together,
We give thanks for the content lives we lead.
But we also pray.
We pray for those
whose Thanksgivings are stained red with blood,
We pray for those who’re subject to any and all evils of the world.
We pray for those whose homes were washed away,
For those who still tremble from the cold nights outside a fast food joint
Whose homes are a slab of pavement in a land of kings.
We pray that they be well on this day,
iWRITE Youth Club Member & Published Author
Who thought writing was a chore.
It was tiring, frustrating, hopeless,
And most of all, it was a bore.
He hated it with a passion,
He thought it was a waste of time.
Why think of really good poems,
When you struggle even to rhyme?
But one day, everything changed.
His parents had had enough.
They said, “Fool, silly, enter this thing!”
So Alex wrote down a poem with a huff.
Alex entered that contest,
And forgot about it for a while,
But then one day he got an email,
And what was inside made him smile.
It said, “We’d love to feature you,
Alex, your poem is great!
If you ever want to join us,
Send an email; don’t hesitate.”
Of course, that’s not what it said,
But he had won himself a name.
Alex joined this wonderful group,
And he was never again the same.
He actually liked writing now,
As he wrote and he wrote with delight.
And so, my gracious audience,
Ends the magical tale of iWrite.
By Alyssa Reid
Director: Roar Uthaug
With: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Nick Frost, Hannah John-Kamen, Antonio Aakeel, Alexandre Willaume, Tamer Burjaq, Adrian Collins, Kennan Arrison.
Release Date: Mar 16, 2018
This review contains spoilers.
It’s a rather enticing name, if I do say so myself—even if, by the time the credits roll, little has been stolen except a few lives. And, to be fair, that was stolen by the tomb itself.
And so begins the story of how Laura Croft ends up thrust into a world far more ancient than anything she believes exists and more mysterious than her father’s unfortunate disappearance.
Despite her dislike of the supernatural and, for her, unbelievable, her story slots in nicely with other hero-like tales. She was a nobody, thrust into a world far different than the one she once knew, and now, she has to fight to know what she never could have imagined.
iWRITE Youth Club Junior Officer & Published Author
“Can I do a stealth check?” Andrew Nanna asked. Mr. Center looked at him, confused. “On… What?” he replied. “I want to sneak to the back of the cave,” he explained impatiently. Mr. Center said, “Nanna, there’s nothing in the cave with you guys. You don’t have to sneak up on the wall. It hasn’t noticed you yet, so I don’t think it’s ever going to.” The room full of boys erupted in laughter. Well, not full of boys. There was a girl (me) who laughed along with them. Finally, someone said, “Can I do a perception check?” He rolled the die and got… Drum roll… a 3 out of 20. Mr. Center said, “To you, the cave looks big and dark.” The next kid goes and rolls a 1. “OK, that cave is looking big and dark.” I raise my hand, “Can I do a perception check?” I reach for the dice. “Thank goodness! Go ahead,” he says. I drop the die onto the table. “16, plus my intelligence score adds 2, so 18.” Mr. Center goes into storytelling mode.
“Jack starts to walk into the cave, but Annie throws out her arm and says, “Stop!” Everyone grumbles, but she lights a torch and waves it in front of the group. In the light of the torch, you see a thin, glimmering tripwire across the entrance to the cave. Jack backs away. You were all about to set off the trap. Alright, activity period is over. Time to go to class!”
At my school, we have activity periods where we get to choose what activity you want to do. I chose Dungeons and Dragons, and even though it had come out in 1974 (the year my parents were born) I knew nothing about it. And to make matters worse, I was the only girl in the group. Granted, I had told Mr. Center, the head of the activity, that I didn’t mind that (which I didn’t), but still. All of the D&D guides online used fancy words like, 1d20 Constitution saving throws or +2 charisma modifier. How was I supposed to know what all that meant? So I’ll be giving you the rundown in my D&D basic guide.
First and Foremost, how do you play? Well, you have your party, which is the people you’re playing with, and the Dungeon Master, or DM. Mr. Center is my DM. When you start a game, your DM might say,” all of you are in a tavern, minding your own business, when you overhear some dwarves talking about how they need someone to guard their wagon through the forest on a 3-day trip.” You can ask your DM, “can I walk up to the dwarves and say I’ll guard the wagon.” You walk up to the dwarves and your DM tells you what the dwarves say. The DM is the god of your D&D world. He tells you where you are, who’s with you, and what’s happening.
But you aren’t in this D&D world, are you? You aren’t in a tavern with dwarves. That’s where your character comes in. You have to design your character and their abilities to take your place in the game. First, you choose your character race. The races are Tiefling, Dragonborn, Half Orc, Elf, Half Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling, Human (at least, those are the basic races. Beginners should limit themselves to these). Next, you choose your class. I won’t list all of them, but some examples are sorcerer, warlock, ranger, barbarian, and rogue. Your class adds to your character’s abilities. If you are a sorcerer, you typically don’t have heavy melee weapons and instead rely on your spells. Barabarians are just the opposite. It helps to pick a class that works well with your race (i.e. barbarian half-orc, ranger elf), but it can also be fun to mess around with a contradictory character and write a more interesting story for them.
Once you choose your class and race, there are a lot of varied things you have to do, so check with your DM if you are a beginner on cantrips and proficinecies and things like that, but you really don’t have to know every single term to play for the first time. But something you definitely have to know is how to use the dice. Say you are being attacked by a cougar and want to use your “Acid Splash” spell. You ask the DM if you can do it. You have to roll the die to see if the spell works and if you miss.If you roll an 18 (and it isn’t a freaky magic cougar) that cougar will die. If you roll a 3, you miss and the panther gets back to trying to eat you. Pro tip: have someone else with you in combat. One bad roll and you’re dead without some backup. If you’re fighting something more challenging that takes a lot of hits to defeat and you’re swinging a sword at it, you also have to factor your strength score into the damage it makes. If you have a low strength score, it won’t damage the monster as much.
Finally, how do you determine that Strength Score? Well, you have 6 different statistics that describe your character’s strengths and abilities. These are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. If you are a sorcerer and casting a spell, you use Charisma. High charisma, stronger spell (same as in the strength example). You determine this charisma by rolling a die. Roll four 6-sided dice and add up the results. This number will be the points for one of your scores. Repeat this for each one, and voila! Just make sure to do this in front of the Dungeon Master so he knows you weren’t cheating.
So now you know the basics of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a really fun game, encouraging the use of imagination and creativity. Make whatever character you want, with whatever race/class combo you want. As I’ve said, this game has existed since 1974 and in currently in it’s fifth version (if you ever google something related to D&D, put 5e at the end). It’s still as fun as ever and it’s awesome when you’re first trying it out. So mess around a bit, write a cool backstory, and don’t get eaten by an Undead Wolf. I hope this helped.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is a beautifully woven story. The Indian-ness of its details, like the enchanted vahanas, the animal vehicles of the Gods, and the American sass and attitude of Aru’s commentary blend together to make a stunning story, a book that will never be forgotten! The biting sadness at the realization that Aru had a mother that never seemed to truly love her, her helplessness at being called a liar for her entire life, and the pure, innocent thoughts of Aru in the most perilous of times are just one figment of what makes this book fabulous.
Aru Shah is a girl who can stretch the truth a bit. One day, she finds out that she is a direct descendant of the Hindu mythical heroes, the Pandava brothers. Her soul-sister of sorts, Mini Kapoor, a Filipino-Indian-American girl also has this revelation and the two join hands in a quest to save the world from the Sleeper, a demon whose evil army is asleep (hence the name). He wants to take over the heavens so Boo (Subala the Wise, Aru and Mini’s companion, who ended up in pigeon form – don’t ask how) and the Heavenly Council need true heroes to defeat the menace. Read to find out if Aru will save the world, or if we are all fated to fall into eternal slumber.
This Riordan Reads book is my favorite book of all time! This story of a quest with two Pandava sisters from other misters as protagonists is a book you won’t forget and its carefully crafted characters with their complex personalities are individuals you will want to meet!
This is the best book ever! 10/10 and an amazing read for anyone!
iWRITE Youth Club Member
& Published Poet/Author
Despite covering a relatively “cookie cutter” plot design of adventure, the book executes it flawlessly, with some added twists to keep you guessing, making for a completely original storyline. It’s a great transition from more preteen reads to proper YA fiction. With the added promise of additions to series, I can’t wait for more works by Hamilton to continue the story and find out what happens to Amani and Jin next!
VP of the iWRITE Youth Club
6-time published short story author