Review: “The Girl from Everywhere” doesn’t keep expectations afloat



“The Girl from Everywhere” marks young author Heidi Heilig’s debut novel, a sprawling epic about a girl who time travels across history with her father and a ragtag group of sailors from across time on a pirate ship that ultimately falls short of its ambitious plot synopsis.

The plot follows a teenage girl named Nix, who is the daughter of a swashbuckling pirate, Captain Slate. The ship that Nix and her father sail on can travel anywhere in history, so long as they have a map of the area at that specific time, which has allowed them to collect a very diverse cast of characters from throughout history to ride with them.

While diversity is always appreciated in young adult novels, there is a fine line between a realistic group of characters and pushing an agenda to appeal to as many audiences as possible, and “The Girl from Everywhere” certainly crosses it. There are characters here who are merely labels of subcultures in society, as their unique traits that make them diverse, such as their sexuality, are never used in the actual plot; they are merely mentioned when the character is introduced and described. This lack of importance to the story makes it seem like the author is shoehorning in character traits just to appeal to a wider market, rather than embracing diversity and acceptance.

Another disappointment in the book is the author’s failure to take advantage of it’s above-average page count. The book bears 445 dense pages, and while length itself is never something to criticize a novel on, the book really drags in the middle. This slow-moving second act makes the book seem even longer than it is, as both the plot and character development alike completely lose steam following the strong introduction.

In addition to the forced diversity and underutilized length, another major gripe with the book is how absolutely cliché it is as a young adult novel. A plot as promising and large in scope as the one in “The Girl from Everywhere” does not deserve the typical tropes in fiction geared toward teens, such as the unnecessary love triangle, in which Nix has to choose between brains and looks. This “Gossip Girl”-level subplot destroys the excellent development each character involved has garnered leading up to this point in the book, as their interesting backstories and traits play no part in this section of the story. Instead, Nix’s two lovers are simplified to the outdated stereotypes of brains versus brawn, which also detracts from Nix’s sophistication as a female lead character herself.

All in all, “The Girl from Everywhere” truly bites off more than what it can chew, as an extremely interesting synopsis and idea cannot be saved by boring characters and predictable plot lines. Although it is the first entry in a duology, the sequel to this book would have to greatly redeem the sinking ship that is “The Girl from Everywhere” to stop it from hitting rock bottom.

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Review: New horror movie takes breath away



Starring Stephen Lang (The Blind Man), Jane Levy (Rocky), and Dylan Minnette (Alex), “Don’t Breathe” is an outstanding film catered toward all audiences interested in being genuinely terrified for a full hour and a half. The movie is extremely scary the entire duration and is a great innovation to modern horror films.

Released on Aug. 26, the movie tells the story of three lower-class teens who steal from upper-class homes in order to get by day-to-day. Alex’s father is a home security worker who has access to the keys to all in-county homes and they use this benefit to easily break into homes with no alarms. This small implementation into the life of Alex adds another perspective to the scope of the movie, with good transitions back and forth into the characters’ life.

The plot then transitions into the life of a retired blind veteran whose son was killed in a car accident. The blind man is the next heist target for the trio of thieves as his house contains upwards of $300,000.

The crew heads out late at night in hopes of making the steal easier than the previous thefts. Little did they know, the blind man has a few tricks up his sleeve and can fend for himself better than most people.

The film gives a great representation of life below the poverty line in scope of Rocky’s life. Only wanting to create a better life and opportunity for her younger sister, she hopes to make this heist the last. On the complete opposite side of things, Dylan lives a wealthy lifestyle, but still wants to get away from his family and run away with Rocky after constantly being neglected and looked down upon by his father.

The movie was directed by Federico Alvarez, who has had success in “Evil Dead” and “Panic Attack.” The film was suspected to gross around $10 million, but blew away reports with an opening weekend of $26.1 million. Sony Pictures stated that it is rare for a horror movie to resonate so well with critics, scoring an 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Don’t Breathe” is definitely a step in the right direction for the film industry in that it presented a new kind of horror to the audience while staying attentive to the plot the entire duration.

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Review: New app puts fruity twist on typical card game


A new puzzle app with an interesting name is becoming a hidden gem on the Apple app store. Based off of Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC), “Spicy Pineapple” is a new game for the iOS and Android platforms, recently updated on March 29.

In “Spicy Pineapple,” a player will play online against a maximum of four other players. The players have a blank board in front of them, consisting of a bottom and middle row of five empty spaces and a top row of three. Each player will get dealt the 13 same cards, in a sequence of five cards, then three sequences of three. Players then place 10 of the 13 cards into the spaces, and try to create a better board than their opponents.

The objective of the game is to put the best hand on the bottom, second best hand in the middle, and third best on the top. If hands are placed out of order, a foul and a point penalty will be given.

The game is extremely difficult to pick up at first, and requires a lot of strategy. However, the game becomes fun and addictive once players learn how to play and begin to rake in big wins.

Points are given out to players in the form of pineapples. A new user starts out automatically with 3,200 pineapples to play with. It is difficult, however, to create a decent pineapple count after starting out with such a small number.

IMG_0740In a match, a player risks 10 pineapples per each point earned or lost. For example, a player with a hand that gets 10 points will add 100 pineapples to their pineapple count. There are also 50 pineapple-per-point matches for more experienced players.

The actual gameplay is fun, but the app has a few kinks that need to be worked out. Many times the app tends to lag while in the middle of a hand, and will not allow the player to place the cards in the correct position.

Other than quick matches, players can participate in hourly tournaments that pay out pineapples to the top finishers. Each tournament has a guaranteed prize pool of 50,000 pineapples. The tournaments are the best feature on the app, as making a deep run or winning a tournament is a satisfactory experience.

At its core, “Spicy Pineapple” is an entertaining and strategic puzzle game that has the capability of becoming one of the most popular apps on the app store. However, minor bugs and lagging issues need to be fix in order for the app to further succeed.

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Review: El Agave Azul combines authentic mexican food with fair prices, large portions


At first glance, individuals might not give the restaurant El Agave Azul a chance, but that would be a mistake. Not only is the food delicious, but the prices are fair and the servings are large. Agave Azul, a Mexican restaurant, which is now open in new locations, is the perfect restaurant for anyone with the taste for authentic Mexican food.

El Agave Azul puts a new take on serving by allowing customers to create their own dishes. Much like the well-known restaurant, Chipotle, customers order at the counter and their food is prepared in front of them. This is great for those wanting to see what is going into their meal.

On the menu, they offer specials along with customer favorites; customers are allowed to add or take out ingredients to these orders. Offering mainly lunch and dinner food, which include the common tacos, nachos and burritos, El Agave Azul has the perfect food selections for any Mexican food lover. In addition to common Mexican food, they offer a traditional dish called “sopes,” which are handcrafted corn cakes with pork filling.

IMG_4911Along with the meal, customers are given the choice to order a side of guacamole, queso fundido, or pico de gallo. All of the side dishes are true to its Mexican roots and are impressive in taste. El Agave Azul offers the best authentic queso in South Florida, and their queso and chips are the perfect side dish to any order.

El Agave Azul provides a dining experience that is favorable and unique; the laid-back style of the restaurant allows customers to comfortably enjoy time with family or friends. The restaurant is also a quick and easy alternative to dining out alone. The staff is accommodating and helpful in ensuring an excellent experience dining at the restaurant, as they make serviceable suggestions when customers request.

For those in a rush, customers have the option to order in or take food to-go. In an attempt to bring more convenience, El Agave Azul allows customers to efficiently place orders over the phone and pick the food up when it’s ready.The convenience of the numerous locations makes it an easy place to stop for a quick quality meal.

Overall, El Agave Azul perfectly brought a traditional Mexican restaurant to South Florida in a cheap and delicious way. Although the atmosphere was subpar the great food and helpful employees overruled it. All of these factors created a pleasurable dining experience at El Agave Azul.

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Storify: Students rave about Ultra Music Festival on social media


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Music and Studying

Music has impact on studying techniques and academic performance


BY BROOKE MILLERMusic and Studying

Sophomore Ana Skidmore listens to music everyday when studying for tests and doing homework. She said she finds it therapeutic and it makes her more relaxed.

“Studying is already a very boring task, so by adding music, it helps makes the process a little better and it keeps me alert and entertained,” Skidmore said.

Skidmore said she listens to R&B music while studying because of its smooth, rhythmic style.

“I prefer listening to calm, relaxing music the best when studying because that way I can multitask,” she said.

Junior Kylie Jones said by listening to music while studying, she tends to get more involved with the music than her actual schoolwork.

“When I listen to music while studying, I feel like I end up doing worse on tests,” Jones said.

Jones said she sometimes gets so involved in a song that she will end up memorizing the song lyrics as opposed to her studies.

“I would rather listen to music all day rather than study all day, so when I listen to music while studying, I turn most of focus towards the music I am listening to,” Jones said.

AICE General Paper teacher Amy Lupu plays music for her students to listen to while they work.

“The decision to play music in class is not an easy choice because there is a generation gap I face,” Ms. Lupu said. “I find that people my age prefer absolute silence in order to focus, whereas, today’s young people seem to need the background noise that music provides.”

Ms. Lupu said music is all about a good balance of sound and rhythm and listening to music at the right volume.

“The type of music I play depends on what we are doing and my mood,” Ms. Lupu said. “If I need to get the energy level up, I play pop music. If they are taking a test, I play classical or an instrumental piece that is soothing, such as Nora Jones’s first album.”

Ms. Lupu said she tries to make a relaxed environment in the classroom with music.

“If there’s one student [that is bothered by music], I will usually let them use their own earphones,” she said. “Sometimes I play music to establish a mood or reinforce an idea in connection to what we are studying.”

Ms. Lupu said in every situation in the past where she has let students work while listening to music, it has been very beneficial.

“As far as influence on student learning, I have had tremendous success with music in the past. After all, ‘music calms the savage beast,’” Ms. Lupu said. “When working in special education at the high school level, I found that students with certain disabilities who had trouble staying on task were able to focus and complete work when they listened to music. I had one very competent 10th grader with ADHD who literally went from failing to achieving A’s when I got permission to allow him to use earbuds, since it was not allowed from the administration.”

Psychology teacher David Geller said music can have both positive and negative effects on studying.

“Music can motivate us as well as depress,” Mr. Geller said. “The fast pace and loudness of the music increases our adrenalin and when we get romantic or tranquil, music can bring us into that state.  It can also cause negative reactions such as anger and aggression.”

Mr. Geller said music triggers the mind to work a certain way.

“Our brain seems to pick up harmonies and if we study to a certain harmony we can mentally create an association,” Mr. Geller said. “Music can work like mnemonic devises and if you study along with the song in the same rhythm it can create the memory.”

Mr. Geller said the type of music that one chooses to listen to depends on the situation and preference.

“I enjoy listening to James Wurster during any time,” Mr. Geller said.

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Review: Bruce Springsteen concert attracts audience of all ages


IMG_2655Bruce Springsteen, also referred to as “The Boss,” performed an amazing concert with the E Street band at the BB&T center on Feb. 16, based off of the re-mastered version of his album ‘The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.”

At approximately 8 p.m., the band took the stage. But, in contrast to most performers, he left the house lights on for the first song so he could see the crowd, which was a really cool and unique idea because he has never had an opening act before until his performance in Sunrise.

The show opened with a newly released song, “Meet Me in the City.” It is a fast paced rocker written and recorded more than 35 years ago. Next, Springsteen played all of the originals from the released River collection. At that point, the show seemed to be dragging out, but not to Springsteen and overall it was entertaining. He went on to play another hour of classic hits such as “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” and “Brilliant Disguise.” The only era the concert seemed to ignore was the singer’s first two albums, which was not usual for the artist, but it was an enjoyable concert even without those albums.

The best part of the concert was when Springsteen helped someone propose to his girlfriend and she ended up saying yes. After that, he congratulated them and gave a speech about love before he began to sing ‘I Wanna Marry You.’

Aside from just singing, Springsteen took to the microphone to explain some of the things he was thinking and feeling while he wrote the album. This allowed the audience to connect with him even more and made the overall experience of the concert so much better. He said it was the first album where he actually started to understand what it was like to be an adult and the responsibility that goes along with it. While the music might be from a different era, the hopes, dreams and heartaches are themes that every generation can relate to.

Springsteen was successful in relating to all ages and bringing the audience together. Overall, the concert was amazing and Springsteen put on an incredible show.

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internet privacy

Dangers of Internet require new safety measures

BY SAMI HAYDUinternet privacy

Freshman Alexis Epstein believes that even though communicating and surfing online may be intended to be harmless and fun, there are many dangers that come along with the Internet that could impact a student’s future.

Like Epstein, some students feel there are different dangers to the internet.

“Staying private on the internet is important in everything people do these days,” Epstein said. “For high school students, it is especially important that we are extremely careful with what we put online. When we go to apply for colleges, everything we put online will follow us and [a college] can see [what we post]. If someone has a great resume but a bad Internet record, that could ruin their chances of being accepted.”

English teacher Jeanne LaTrell Kielbasa said her AICE General Paper class has talked about the importance of staying safe from potential predators while using the Internet.

“At the beginning of the year we wrote an essay about making friends online,” Mrs. Kielbasa said. “We discussed how profiles on the Internet can be misleading, and the dangers of accepting random friends on social media. It is so important that students know to be careful who they friend.”

Like Mrs. Kielbasa, junior Ana Ribeiro believes that cyber-bullying is a major issue that should be discussed in school. Although she thinks that technology is beneficial to education, she said that learning how to be careful on the Internet is essential.

“In school, we are taught the basics of being safe online and why we shouldn’t be cyber bullies but not much more than that,” Ribeiro said. “Schools need to do a better job of teaching us how important Internet privacy is because the Internet can be very dangerous.”

Freshman Josie Clancy said although it is important to learn about Internet privacy, there are some negatives to expanding the curriculum.

“I think it is very important that students are knowledgeable about the dangers of the Internet, but expanding the curriculum would be very time consuming,” Clancy said. “If we were taught more about Internet privacy, that would only cut into the time for teachers to prepare us for AICE and AP exams, EOCs, FSA tests and more.”

As time goes on, more things are becoming technology based and Epstein said this would bring more awareness to the issue of Internet privacy.

“As technology improves and the Internet gets bigger, the security will probably continue to get better,” Epstein said. “ Students are becoming more aware of the dangers and teachers and mentors are getting better at educating them.”

With the current generation being the first to grow up with the Internet, Mrs. Kielbasa said the prominence of the Internet is getting to student’s heads.

“I think students are exposed to issues and subjects that they are too young to try and understand,” Mrs. Kielbasa said. “There can be information overload which can lead to concepts that can be confusing for young people. The internet has also opened the door to cyber bullying which is so harmful to self esteem and can have harmful consequences to young people.”

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Social Media and College

Social media proves dangerous in college admission process


MULT. NEWS EDITORSocial Media and College

Growing up in an era where social media impacts the lives of young teenagers everywhere, many students neglect the fact that what they post online can have an impact on where they attend college and their future.

Technology is advancing, and social media has gradually become a big part of student’s lives. Accordingly, some teenagers post freely on their social media accounts without realizing the dangers and the repercussions of their actions.

SAT and ACT tutor Adam Moss believes that while not all college admissions officers are checking into a potential student’s social media profiles, some certainly are.

“Not all colleges will look into a social media profile, but pictures of drinking and partying are obviously problematic,” Moss said. “Colleges want students who will be ‘non-problematic’ members of their campus communities, and cyber-bullying, negative postings about school and teachers, and things like posting fight vides or not safe for work (NSFW) material are bad ideas.”

Moss believes that maintaining a positive image on social media is very important not only for students, but for those competing for jobs as well.

“Managing one’s image is, like it or not, a vital piece of succeeding in today’s competitive world,” Moss said. “Businesses and celebrities spend huge sums of money to manage their public personas, and in a way, students should be their own ‘image consultants.’ Many of the things that teenagers think are private and out-of-reach are shockingly easy for an expert to track down, and silly mistakes can leave permanent trails online.”

Junior Eli Nir doesn’t think posting on social media is worth it in today’s competitive society.

“I have my own social media accounts but I’ve never really been into posting and telling everyone what’s happening in my life,” Nir said. “It’s not a bad thing to be open about your life on social media, it really just depends on the type of person you are. As long as someone doesn’t post anything stupid, it shouldn’t matter in the long run.”

BRACE adviser Shari Bush believes that students shouldn’t be weary of what they post online solely for the reason of college applications, but they should really pay attention to the bigger picture, which is their future.

“We live in a culture right now where everything is blasted out there for everyone to see. I think that there should be some humility and sensitivity about the stuff that some students post about themselves,” Mrs. Bush said.

Mrs. Bush said that teens should be careful and really think about what they’re posting for everyone to see.

“Colleges are looking at the total student and not just at their grades and scores anymore,” she said. “They’re looking at their authenticity, integrity, and what they’re going to contribute to the community once they become a student there. Even if a college doesn’t necessarily look into a social media profile, students should use caution at all times because you can never be so sure.”

Sophomore Alexa Zuckerman thinks that what teens post on their profiles can really impact their futures, which is why she holds back from posting too much about her life.

“You can really tell a lot about a person by looking at their Instagram or Twitter,” Zuckerman said. “One bad decision you make can really impact whether or not a school will want to accept you, or a future company will want to hire you.”

Zuckerman feels that overall, it’s a personal decision on how a student wants their lives to turn out, but she feels that it is better for her to hold back when posting on her social media sites.

“It can be really dangerous to post anything on the Internet because once you press send it’s out there forever,” Zuckerman said. “I prefer to be more conservative with everything I post because I know what the consequences may be and I care too much about my future to let something as silly as a post on social media ruin that for me.”

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Radio listeners decrease as they resort to digital media


juliaSenior Santi Mosquera used to be a radio enthusiast until he got sick of the music selections played on the radio, disruptions and censorship. Now, he relies on digital media to listen to music.

Digital media is distributed by streaming or subscription sites like SoundCloud, Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music. Mosquera said these platforms allow him to make their own decisions on music instead of relying on a station to do it for them.

Mosquera said he no longer listens to the radio because quality is removed from a song when stations censor the music.

“Many artists tell their stories through their music,” Mosquera said. “When radio stations change the words, it completely takes away from the whole meaning of the song.”

Mosquera said he uses an aux cord to listen to his music in the car and one person gets to have the privilege to choose what is being played.

“There is a lot of pressure picking the best songs to play in the car,” Mosquera said. “If you don’t get the job done right, you lose the opportunity to play what you want to hear.”

During the decision-making of who gets the aux cord, Mosquera said there are rules that the passengers in the car must follow.

“You cannot repeat a song or shuffle one album when you have the cord. If someone complains about the music, you have one more chance to satisfy everyone until the aux cord is given to another passenger,” Mosquera said.

Senior Anthony Turi is frustrated with the radio due to the lack of variety in song and genre choices.

“Radio stations put in no effort to find unique or unknown music for their listeners which gets annoying because many stations play the same music,” Turi said.

Turi said radio stations only play mainstream music and play the same songs until it is no longer enjoyable.

“Music provided through the radio is mostly pop, sounds the same and has no substance,” Turi said, “I listen to EDM (electronic dance music) which is rarely played on local stations so I have to rely on other ways to listen to my music.”

Turi uses SoundCloud and Spotify to listen to music because there are no limits on what type of music he can listen to. These sites allow him to stream what he wants to hear instead of listening to music he does not care for.

“We no longer have to listen to a set line up on the radio or listen to advertisements to get what we want to hear,” he said.

English teacher Jeanne Kiebasa was a DJ and morning news anchor on a radio station before she became a teacher. She said the satellite radio is taking away from local radio stations.

“The local stations are no longer varied and becoming very syndicated due to the popularity in other ways to get music,” Ms. Kielbasa said.

Ms. Kielbasa said some listeners tune into the radio solely for music and hate disruptions; however, others find their entertainment with the radio through the discussions on air.

“If people actually paid attention to what the radio personalities say, they would most likely be interested and enjoy the conversations, just like I do,” Ms. Kielbasa said.

Junior Samantha Bornstein said her last resort when choosing music is the radio.

“I want to be able to hear more than just what is popular, I want to be able to listen to new music that I’ve never heard before,” Bornstein said.

Bornstein said she learned in her AICE Media Studies class that new technologies are slowly taking out the radio business because they are more convenient and allow individuals to express themselves more.

“The radio provides me with disruptions and a limited variety in songs,” Bornstein said. “This is why I never listen anymore and find my music from streaming sites off my phone.”

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