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.

IncludED Initiative

By Anthony Davidson 

Volunteer State Community College has introduced a new system outline for students who are both buying school textbooks and paying tuition.

IncludEd is a collaborative effort between Faculty and the Campus Bookstore and is trying to include the cost of books into the cost of tuition. Dr. George Pimentel, vice president of academic affairs, said IncludEd would simplify the process.

“[Students] pay on average 450 to 550 dollars per semester. Renting books with IncludEd would be only 193 dollars per student, on average; that’s a 59 percent savings and you would have the books on day one. It’s an attempt at a win-win, rather than waiting for tuition or waiting for the next paycheck,” said Dr. Pimentel.

Currently, the IncludEd initiative is still only under consideration, as teachers still remain undecided and divided over whether or not they wish to implement it across the board.

“The way it is set up right now, individual instructors tell the Bookstore, ‘Hey I want to use IncludEd,’ and the bookstore sends me a list of professors for spending purposes. It is a convoluted thing right now, and it is really confusing for students the way things are right now,” said Dr. Pimentel.

Dr. Pimentel said he and collaborators currently project the program would institute the online version of the material at 67 dollars per course and the hard copy (renting) version would be 48 dollars per course.

Pimentel also said the hard copy (buyout) would be, theoretically, only 10 dollars more per course and would be a paper copy.

“It may not be the fancy version with covers and stuff, but it would be a portable version that could be placed in a binder. This caters to those who want to hold on to the actual book, rather than read it online. As a parent with mid 20’s children, I can say that my kids have not complained about online as opposed to hard copy,” said Dr. Pimentel.

Dr. Pimentel said he projects that universal professorial consensus would occur by spring 2015 and approval for IncludEd by Tennessee Board of Regions (TBR) would allow for implementation of the initiative in the autumnal semester of 2016.

On an impromptu survey of five students, four out of five students said that they would rather pay for books on the front end, rather than pay for their books out of pocket on the back end; in other words, these students would rather have their books sooner and not have to pay near as much on the back end, rather than pay on average a 450-550 dollars.

Dr. Pimentel said he plans on posting a survey in the near future to help get the students’ feedback and make the movement more on-track with everyone.

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.

The Humanities Building

Mallory Burysek


The Humanities Building was blue drafted fifteen years ago in 1999 by former Dean of Humanities, Dr. Mickey Hall. He created this building because thirty-four percent of classes each semester are Humanity related, making it the largest division on campus. The Tennessee Board of Regions placed the Humanities Building sixth for funding for ten years. Once Vol State received the funding they needed to begin, they jumped right into building the three-story building. Vol State received a lot of help from the community due to donations. Volunteer State Bank pledged $100,000, David and Diane Black pledged $1 million, and The Sumner Foundation pledged $300,000. “We want Vol State to be the cultural center of Sumner County,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State. “This building is another addition to that commitment.” Before they could start the full construction they had to make a few changes to the campus. Roads had to be rerouted, the cafeteria added a service elevator in order to receive their packaged food and drinks, and more parking lots had to be created. The goal for adding this building is to make Vol State more of a walking campus for students.

The Humanities Building is slightly larger than originally planned, but this will help Vol State’s overcrowding dilemma. This building will include English, Communications, Art, Music, Theater, Philosophy, and Foreign Language departments. It is uniquely connected to the Library and Campus Center. The first floor of the Humanities Building will include Music-related classrooms. The second floor will include Communications, English, and Art Studios.  The third floor will continue with English and then extend to Foreign Language, Philosophy, and Computer classes. “This is exciting because our students need more state-of-the-art facilities in order to be more marketable in the workforce,” said Humanities Dean, Alycia Ehlert. “We’ll have many special lab spaces and collaborative areas to allow for more group work.”  Some special features include a large patio on the backside of the building where events can be held, a tear-shaped amphitheater adjacent of the building, and a walking bridge connecting to the Woods building.  Glenda Godwin said, “The furniture will be bright and reflective like the creative talents that will be housed in that building.” Any students and faculty that attended the celebration this past Tuesday signed the last beam. The exterior of the building will most likely be finished before winter, making the interior the final project. The Humanities Building is right on schedule and should be ready by fall of 2016.

Pioneering the Parking Lots

By Kalynn Meeker

Fall semester of 2015 at Volunteer State Community College is full of changes. One is an expected 20% increase of students.  No matter if you are a student or a faculty member, freshmen or upperclassmen, traffic can be a challenge.  In an interview with Angela Lawson, the Assistant Chief of Police, these changes were cleared up.

To aid the increase of traffic, there is an increase of parking spaces. The H Lot, which is convenient for anyone entering from the Greenlea Boulevard, has been extended to approximately 200 spaces. Also added on to is the largest parking lot, the E lot, by approximately 50 spaces. For anyone coming through the main entrance, this lot is most accessible. A new, real four-way stop can be used to enter into the parking lot;  however, the spaces will fill up quickly for students and staff alike. Rebecca Flentge, a freshmen but not a newcomer to the Volstate campus, said, “I think that the new parking lot and the roads make it impossible to get anywhere and it makes getting to class a longer process.”

When asked how students and staff will know where they can park, Lawson explained that there would be signage placed in the spots where students can park and staff can park. Along with the signage there will be color indications: yellow lines are for students and white for general parking. Most general parking is located in front of the Thigpen Library.

“The mornings between 7:30 and 8:30 will be the busiest. Fridays will not be so bad,” Lawson said when asked about the peak traffic times. There will be a two or three-week grace period for all students and staff when it comes to parking in designated spots and decals. Additionally, for the first two weeks there will be heavy police presence to help those in need of guidance around campus, not to give citations.

In order to avoid getting a citation, decals will need to be on cars within two to three weeks after classes begin. To make the transition smoother into the new school year, Campus Connect is supplied all new freshmen with parking decals on August 22nd, during Welcome Day.