Blake’s Books

By Blake Bouza

Welcome back to The Settler’s book review. I am here to sift what you could be reading from what you should be reading, because I care.

If Ocean’s Eleven and Lord of the Rings had a baby, it would be Mistborn: The Final Empire.

A lot of people have read this one over the years, but with the first book in the sequel trilogy coming out in a couple of weeks, I thought it would be nice to revisit the first book of the Mistborn trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson has a wonderful talent to move the story along at a nice clip without making you seem lost in the world he has created for us. He drops info about the world and the intricate magic system as we go, keeping us on a need-to-know basis without being infuriating. It does not overwhelm the reader while managing to keep an air of mystery about the story, but without nagging enough to overpower the other story elements.

These are – overthrowing the god-emperor of the Final Empire, the Lord Ruler—a self-professed Sliver of Infinity. He is kind of a jerk.

He is suppressed every other religion that does not celebrate him and he keeps a firm hand on the slaves of his society, the skaa. He is immortal, having lived for over a thousand years since the time he was named the Hero of Ages, and instead of saving the world – he misshaped it and made it his own.

The story picks up from the point of view of a street-urchin girl named Vin, who is rescued by a man named Kelsier. Kelsier is gathering a thieving crew and proposing the ultimate heist: overthrowing the Lord Ruler and stealing his stash of precious metals.

The thing that gives Kelsier the confidence that they can do this? This is where the magic system comes into play.

That’s all I’m going to say of the plot for fear of giving anything away, but let me tell you – it is a wild ride. Sanderson does a few things at once here. He puts a spin on classic fantasy storytelling elements (for example, the hero becoming the dark lord), and weaves in themes about hope, religion, and revolution flawlessly into the fabric of the story. You will find yourself caring about every character as we follow Vin as she gets to know everyone on the thieving crew.

From the outset, Sanderson set a fun tone for the story and he rolls with it. The turns and twists are unforeseen. When I thought I knew where the story was heading, it thumbed its nose at me and dove right into the next twist.

You will have to re-read sentences to be sure you read them right, and there will be a lot of OH MY GOD DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?

And you know, I honestly cannot say enough good things about this novel, so just do yourself a favor and read it – and the rest of the trilogy.

A well-deserved 5/5 Stars


Editorial on Staying Grounded in Situations

By Sara Keen//Editer-in-Chief

Society today seems to focus more on the bad in the world than the good.  It has become increasingly difficult to turn on the news without hearing of tragedy, war, violence, or crime.

Even social media is covered with upsetting news stories.  So often do you see posts of people “giving up on humanity” or not wanting “to live on this planet anymore.”

So how is it possible to stay vibrant or optimistic when it seems like everything is gloomy?

One has to remember that the world is complicated.  There is no split difference between good and bad.  The good often has some bad in it just as the bad often has some good.

Tragedies are capable of bringing people together, as well as making individuals stronger.  For example, following Hurricane Katrina, the devastation and destruction brought people together to rebuild the effected areas.

On a smaller scale, families can be brought closer by death or illness.  Individuals can even become stronger mentally, and grow as a person.

There is also bad found in what we conceive as good stories.  For example, society always thinks about how glamorous and great it would be to become famous.  In reality, a lot of people were not able to handle their newfound fame.  Some would succumb to drug abuse; others would unintentionally break away from their families.  

Even outside of the “limelight,” things we often wish would happen, like winning the lottery, have had very negative results on people.  Lottery winners have been known to be murdered for their money while everyone else dreams to be them.

Too much of a good thing can be bad, and some things that seem good actually aren’t that great.  

When an individual is faced with both good or bad news, the best thing to do initially is to stay calm, if at all possible.  This can help the individual to think over and take in what has happened, or even allow the capability of rational thinking.

Sometimes it could help to turn to a friend.  A good friend will welcome anything you have to share, and may help in any way they are capable.  Some individuals require this in order to remain rational.

Overall, do what you must to cope with, understand, or enjoy the news you have received.  Once you have overcome the initial news, it’s best to focus on how this impacts you.

If the news is devastating, it could have a “bright side,” that is not initially seen.  There could be something good that could come from it, so it is best not to focus entirely on the negative aspect of an event.

Good news can have a dark side to it.  Perhaps one’s high hopes are let down shortly after receiving the news, or what seemed like excellent news did not turn out as well as anyone had hoped.

It is perfectly okay to enjoy and celebrate when you hear good news.  It is simply helpful to remember that not all good things end as well as they started.

Everyone should remember to keep their heads on their shoulders, feet on the ground, and hopes held high.  It is not helpful to focus entirely on the bad or the good, but to understand that they intermingle, and exist together in the world.

Letter on creating a cleaner campus

By Beth Cooksey// Vice President of Business and Finance

I would like to officially welcome all of our returning and new students to the fall semester at Volunteer State Community College.  I have had the privilege of serving as the Vice President for Business and Finance for over eleven years now.  Volunteer State is a great place and I am very proud of it.

As a new or returning student, I hope you are also proud of this College and the Gallatin campus.  In the time I have been here, I have seen plenty of changes to the physical campus.  We have had two major construction efforts, the completed Allied Health South construction and the Humanities Building that is currently underway.  We also had a significant construction project back in 2006 when a tornado did over $9 million in damages to our campus.  Following the tornado, we all pulled together and sacrificed some creature comforts while the campus was rebuilt.  For a while, it just wasn’t too pretty around Vol State, but eventually, the campus started to look nice again.

There are a lot of us on this campus who take a great deal of pride in how this campus looks and how it is evolving.  My point in writing this article is to ask for your help.  Please help us keep our campus beautiful.  When I see little things like gum on a campus sidewalk, I am distressed.  I am distressed because I personally know the hard working custodial team at Vol State will have to clean up something  that just shouldn’t have happened.  Our entire Plant Operations team is dedicated to creating a culture and atmosphere that are conducive to learning.  We want you to be comfortable in your classrooms and in the recreational space.  We want a clean and inviting campus.  Please help us keep Vol State beautiful.  

Thank you in advance for doing your part.  Together we can all have a great fall semester!

Blake’s Books

Blake’s Books


By Blake Bouza// Contributing Writer


Welcome back to the Settler’s book review. My name is Blake and I will be sifting through the myriad of books that are released to bring you the best of what you could be reading.


Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labor, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.



I am so impressed with this work of fiction. Pierce Brown never tells us more than we need to know – giving us a lean, sinewy, sledgehammer-to-the-face kind of novel that manages to both be brutal and poetic, as illustrated by the novel’s own integration of both futuristic technology that is actually plausible with barbaric living and fighting.

By cutting away the fat, so to speak, Brown immerses us in three separate yet cohesive casts of society. The low Reds underground, the hoity-toity upscale lifestyle of the Golds in their Emerald City, and the brutal landscape of the Institute where the Houses compete to be on top.

I understand the comparisons that have likened this book to a cross between The Hunger Games and A Game of Thrones. Honestly, it is what got me to pick up the book.

Red Rising does have elements of those two books, yes, but it is so uniquely its own work that the similarities are shallow at best. Here we have an epic that stands alongside with The Odyssey and The Iliad. Only this time the gods are Proctors of the Institute and the fool humans doing their bidding are the students trying to keep the reputation of their House. The book takes a number of sharp turns as we follow Darrow twist the system against the Institute.

Definitely a trilogy you should begin. The second book, Golden Son, came out earlier this year and is even better than the first in my opinion. The third book, Morning Star (religious symbolism anyone?), comes out this January. Now is the perfect time to pick this one up.

5/5 Stars

Upcoming Book Adaptations to Check Out

By Blake Bouza// Contributing Writer 


This year (and the last five) has seemed completely saturated with book-to-screen adaptations. They’ve either fallen short of the original source material (HELLO ENDER’S GAME) or fully taken on a life of their own. (The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones stand out – maybe the secret is having the word “game” in the title).

So to save yourself further disappointment, let’s start with some upcoming adaptations that’ll totally be worth your time both on the page and in the broken theater chair. You can trust me on this because, well, this is in the paper. (And I read all these.)


#1: The Martian by Andy Weir

If you’re a two semester remedial math student like me, you may be put off by the amount of math in the first chapter. Don’t let that stop you. This book is tremendous in its scope and its pacing, dealing with an astronaut stranded on Mars and Earth’s efforts to rescue him. The entire time reading I felt like I was sitting at home glued to my TV, waiting to see if Mark Watney could be brought back alive. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about this one flopping. With a cast consisting of Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain and the picture being directed/produced by Ridley Scott, we have a lot to look forward to on October 2nd.


#2: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Blake, you say, how ridiculous. Why ever would you put a Hunger Games book on this list? Who hasn’t read these books or seen these movies? Well, you’re out there. The good thing about the Hunger Games movie franchise is that they adapt the books shockingly well – no need to pick up the first two books if you’ve seen the movies. If you can’t wait until November to find out what happens with Katniss and Peeta – you’ll blow through this in a day.


#3 In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

So this book is based on the true story that inspired Moby Dick. You never knew you could be so interested in whaling, but this book invests you in the hole craft of hunting whales. This is nonfiction that reads like a fast-paced novel, and that’s just how I like it. Trigger warning: CANNIBALISM. It’s a graphic book, both emotionally and physically, but amazing in its telling the story of these men and their battle for survival. Absolutely remarkable. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth and comes out December 11th!

So there you go – give these ones a try, and if you like them, maybe we’ll talk more books sometime soon.

Homcoming Themes

By Barbara Harmon

Volunteer State Community College has started the process of planning homecoming week, which will take place during the week of November 16 – 21.

Chastity Crabtree, president of the Association of Campus Events (ACE), said she did her research and narrowed the theme choices down to decades, nautical, or superheroes.

Students can put their vote in the box located in the front of “The Settler” newsroom, beside the cafeteria.

“The idea behind all three of these, is they all seem to be very broad, so with any one of these three options, there is a lot to choose from,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities.

Crabtree said she has plans for the homecoming game and that she is contemplating having a free throw challenge, photo booth, and other theme centered activities.

Crabtree also said a great deal of thought and energy is being put into this year’s events and encourages students to get involved.

“The student leader’s have made their voices known, so now is your chance, as the student body, to vote on your choice for homecoming,” said Crabtree.

Sherrell said the division held their voting at the retreats this summer and have already gathered thirty-eight votes. They would like the students to be involved and also cast their votes.

The winning theme will then become the inspiration for decorations of the doors, for the different divisions. Sherrell said there will also be a contest for the best decorated door, during homecoming week.

“The hope behind this is that we can get people to rally behind homecoming, and maybe they will actually want to dress up, or they will want to participate in the contest, and most importantly–that they will want to come to the game. That’s the goal,” said Sherrell.

Kat Lambert, a Vol State student, said she is already thinking about which theme she will vote for. Lambert said she missed the homecoming festivities last year because she never saw any advertisements for them.

“I’m hoping to participate more this year since I will know, ahead of time, what is going on,” Lambert said.

Lambert said she is planning to attend the homecoming game to participate in the activities there and thinks voting for themes, in advance, will stimulate interest.

“Participation will be good, and it should excite the freshmen,” said Lambert.

An Editorial on Self-Acceptance

By Sara Keen// Editor-in-Chief

Self-acceptance has become a hot topic across social media in the past year. Men and women alike post photos that make them feel confident, or reveal their insecurities to the world.

If one cannot understand who he or she is, it can be like a sickness. It lingers, incurable when no one understands it. It can affect your health, mentally and physically.

Some may find themselves unable to function at times without reason, or they may not like the actions that once made them happy. Sometimes it can lead to a depression in the individual.

Even further, it can halt one’s ability to succeed. Focus may divert from work or school because one cannot understand what is wrong with him or her, even when nothing is technically wrong. One could begin to slack in class or at work simply because it just doesn’t seem as important as it once was.

It can cause one to focus on negative character or physical traits, rather than realizing the positive. Some may focus more on an “annoying” laugh than their impeccable sense of humor. Others may focus more on a physical “defect” rather than realizing their great personalities as well as physical beauty.

Self-acceptance leads to confidence. It allows people to embrace themselves and ultimately experience a better quality of life, no matter the situation.

Every person struggles to discover and understand who he or she is. Everyone is battling a different situation with a different background. Some may wonder how they could possibly worry about their own self-acceptance when so much is in the way, distracting them.

Accepting one’s self doesn’t require constant attention or work. It’s the little things that can help in the path of self-acceptance. For example, perhaps a person notices they have a great ability in art, or that they enjoy reading a good book when they’ve had a long day.

It’s the little things that lead to self-discovery. Some may find that they have a tendency to feel their best when they’re alone, in the silence. This not only helps that person understand their habits but they can also learn what to love about themselves.

In a different aspect, character traits also play a huge role in self-acceptance. Whether one is caring, honest, straightforward, or even funny, traits can be embraced. People often love a caring person. Honest and straightforward people are often needed in life, as they can warn or help you when there is a problem. Even the funniest of people are often welcomed with their ability to make light of most situations.

Character traits are something everyone loves to notice in books, movies, and television shows. In that case, take a moment to realize those traits one loves so well in oneself. Perhaps some are brave, like Hercules, or a little different, like Lilo or Stitch.

Once someone notices how alike he or she is with a character, or relate to that character, it allows a person to understand his or herself. It is always a good habit to notice the traits shared with one’s favorite characters in order to accept, and eventually love, one’s self.

The most common issue with self-acceptance is physical appearance. In this society, it seems dire that every person has a particular body composition. In reality, what should matter is how the person views their body. Some may say they are “concerned about health,” which may be true, but the individual knows his or her own health.

Women often find themselves competing with more ”prettier” girls. The truth is, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I am sure a great majority of the students at Volunteer State Community College watched Shrek as a child. One of the greatest lessons to take from Fiona is that everyone is beautiful to someone else.

On the other hand, men often struggle with feeling “manly.” Men have the same struggles as women do, it simply isn’t as vocalized. Going back to the previous reference, the same can be said for Shrek. He was not the most “handsome” or polite man in the kingdom, but Fiona still loved him.

All in all, once one can understand his or her flaws, it can open a new world for that person. Confidence can get an individual through most situations. In understanding who one is, that person can realize who he or she can become.

America: The Greatest Nation on Earth

Dustin W. Hodges// Contributing Writer

Recently in America, many have begun to demonize this great nation with outlandish and false claims about its history. Many seeking to hide the truth and often their own agenda have used the policy of rewriting history.

America was founded upon an unalienable right to freedom, the ability to choose your own destiny. This freedom also gives Americans something most humans around the globe do not have, the ability to change their government and laws.

Ending slavery in America is the best example of this freedom. America did not create slavery; it had existed for thousands of years and still does in many regions of the globe. Another great example of this freedom is America giving women the right to vote, something that is still a dream in many places.

Not content on creating equality as far as the law was concerned, the American experiment, and economic giant that comes with it, caused the greatest increase in quality of life for human beings in the history of the planet.

In creating equality, the American economic machine invented something most take for granted: the middle class. Before, America was either wealthy or poor; there was no in-between.

Many claim America has strengthened the wealthy classes, and this is true, as our free market has strengthened all classes of society. America has elevated the quality of life, for its poor, to a level higher than anytime or anywhere in history.

Creating a better life for its own citizens is not the only thing that makes America great, we are also the first nation on earth to return conquered lands after wars. Before America, nations would keep lands, resources, and tax or kill its people. America did not keep Iraq, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Italy, etc.

As a conquering power, not only did we return these lands, but we funded the reconstruction, which is a large part of our current national debt.

America is a great nation, always has been and has the ability to stay that way, however many in this country are trying to tear it down from within. We need patriotic Americans to fight to make this country great for the future. If anyone tells you America is not the greatest nation on earth, ask them where they want to live and I will start a fundraiser to buy them a one way ticket.

Advising and Academic Success

By Sara Keen// Editor-in-Chief


Volunteer State Community College students are assigned to a personal advisor as well as receive access to the Advising Center in the Ramer Building. These are put in place to help students receive counseling, advice and ensure that they can graduate on time.

First and foremost, advisors are able to help students decide what they want to major in through tests, such as the Myers Briggs test.  They can also help students in signing up for classes, as well as help them with time management during the school year.

Along with academic needs, advisors are able to help students who are facing personal crisis or whose academic ability is being affected by an outside event.  They can give immediate help and refer students to receive more help if necessary, as well as help them get back on track if they can.  

Terry Bubb, Director of Advising and Testing, said it is urged that students see their advisors at least once a semester and students who do not see their advisors tend to take unnecessary classes and spend more time getting their degrees.  They are also more likely to drop out if they do not seek the help they need.  

“We really want everyone to be successful; we want students to be successful and achieve their dreams, and reach their degree program,” said Bubb.

In a poll conducted by “The Settler” staff, many Vol States students who go to the advising center or make an appointment with their advisors are satisfied with the outcomes.

Courtney Southern, a Vol State student, said she felt that her advisors were extremely beneficial to her success at Vol State.  

“It is a huge benefit for people, and especially if you aren’t sure of what you want to do or where you want to go after this, the people in the Advising Center can help you figure that out,” said Southern.

Bubb said he urges all students to seek help from their advisors and they are here specifically to aid students’ academics in any way they can.  Whether a student needs help signing up for classes, or wants a little advice, it can be found in the Advising Center or through their personal advisor.

The Importance of College Friends

By Sara Keen// Editer-in-Chief

The new school year at Volunteer State Community College marks a time of change and beginnings for many. This fall is the beginning of Tennessee Promise, which has brought a flood of new students ready to tackle the challenges to come. Many of these students will also be experiencing new people they’ve never seen before with different backgrounds and opinions, some of whom will become great friends throughout the year. These friends are far more important than many would believe, as often freshman befriend upperclassman. Their experiences will be passed down to help their inexperienced counterparts. They will find themselves in need of guidance, joining a new realm of clubs, and inevitably having a better experience as a result of the friendships they will develop this year.

Often, new students will befriend Vol State veterans.They will be shown the “tricks of the trade” and shown around buildings. For veterans, this is an excellent opportunity to leave your mark on someone’s college experience in a positive way. For new students, take the opportunity to learn as much as possible about campus life and gain advice regarding classes. One may find that the knowledge gained from others may be helpful in many situations. For example, veterans can help new students learn who to go to for certain types of help, such as where the Writing Center is.

Involvement in campus clubs and organizations can also be helpful for new students. These will introduce students to others with similar interests. A student interested in politics may join the Student Government Association, for example. Students involved in organizations will be able to socialize and succeed more across their academics, both inside and outside of class.

The friendships created in college can help you academically. A student may receive help from others in the form of study groups or general guidance. These friendships may be carried throughout the rest of one’s life. Some people are able to use their friendships in future networking for certain careers. The friends you made here can hold a great impact over one’s life and overall will help succeed in college.

It is a great thing to make new friends, get involved, and succeed both academically and personally.