Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Mind your own business Kristy! by Ann Martin

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My guilty pleasure reads are reading The Babysitters’ Club by Ann Martin. There are hundreds of books in the series, I’m not sure how many exactly. It’s a teen series from the late 80s to early 2000s about a group of girls who babysit in their neighbourhood. I started reading them in my teenage years and I still collect them to this day.

In this book, Kristy decides to host a softball clinic for her softball team, Kristy’s Krushers during spring break. The team consists of some of her babysitting charges who are too young to be in Little League. Kristy’s brother Charlie volunteers to help her out.
Kristy becomes envious of Charlie because he’s able to coach the children better than her. Her relationship is further strained when Charlie gets into a relationship with a new girl named Angelica and begins to shirk his responsibilities with the clinic. Kristy feels that Angelica is wrong for her brother and does what she can to break them up.

I wanted the story to go in a different direction than it did. Kristy took an instant dislike to Angelica without getting to know her. In every book, there’s some lesson that the reader can take away. I thought it was going to be that you shouldn’t be quick to judge other people. I thought that Kristy would learn to let her brother go and accept that he’s going to get into relationships. Kristy has abandonment issues after her father walked out on the family. It is a topic that is broached in this book.

I could see that Angelica was going to be the villain because she’s seventeen and smokes. In a wholesome books series like The Babysitters’ Club it means you’re a bad kid. I don’t approve of young people smoking but I don’t think that smoking means you are bad person.

I thought this book was a little bit more negative than the other books in the series but it’s obvious from the title. I find most of The Babysitters’ Clubs books in thrift stores, but you can now buy them new as they have reprinted them again in bookstores.



Monday, 18 June 2018

Life Updates in June


Life
Last month, I started some reading and writing goals. It’s been going great even though I’ve had a few setbacks.  My reading goal is to read ten pages a day. It’s not a lot but I find it very easy to manage. I enjoy reading but I don’t do it as often as I like. I’m one of those people who read a bit and then not pick up the book for months. It takes me a long time to finish any book. So I try to read a little bit in the morning. I usually find that I end up reading more than prescribed.

Another goal of mine is to write 100 words a day for my novel. I’m participating in a 100 word for a 100 days challenge  http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2018/05/register-for-100-for-100-writing.html . It’s a challenge open to all ages. The challenge has been really good for me.  I am making good progress in my novel. I’m writing more than what I usually do. Prior to the challenge, I wrote sporadically whenever I had the time. Sometimes, I would hardly write anything even though I would spend a long time on the computer.

Reading
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I’m currently reading Mary Poppins by P.L Travers. I’ve had that book for four years, so I figured it was about time I read it.  I actually haven’t watched the movie either.
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I’m also reading The Host by Stephanie Myer. This book was gathering dust on my bookshelf for a long time too. I watched the movie adaption some years ago. I really enjoyed it. I think that if The Host had been Meyer had debut with this novel, people would have recognized her talent. The writing and the story is stronger than Twilight.

Watching
I’ve started watching the third season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  It’s a comedy series on Netflix about a woman who gets freed from an underground doomsday bunker. Kimmy tries to rebuild her life.



Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Please Write Back! : More Letters from Henry and Voula by Maureen Stewart


Please Write Back! More Letters from Henry and Voula by Maureen Stewart is the sequel to Henry and Voula. The story about two teenagers in the late 80s writing love notes to each other. I wrote a review of the first book here.

This book continues from where the first book left off. Henry and Voula are reunited after the school holidays and continue their romance. Voula is not allowed to date so they meet in secret in the library and computer room and pass notes to each other in class. The love affair is very innocent with a few kisses and handholding.

Voula is bolder in the story, initiating more in their relationship. She becomes resentful of her parents for forbidding her from socialising with boys. But she doesn’t openly rebel against them. Henry is still the lovesick fool who gets blotches whenever he’s apart from Voula. It’s interesting reading about a boy being that infatuated with a girl.

The first book and the sequel are quick reads and it seems like the author could have kept it all as one book. It was a cute story that makes me nostalgic for young love. It reminds me of high school about having crushes, getting your friends to play messenger and having fantasies about walking that person to class or going out with them. 

I just learnt that there is a third book too, Henry Goes Green. As these books are no longer in print, it'll be hard for me to find this one. 


Monday, 4 June 2018

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

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The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald is a fictionalised story of German philosopher Friedrich von Hardenberg (2 May 1772 – 25 March 1801) and his short-lived love affair with Sophie von Kuhn (1782–1797). The two met when Hardenberg visited her house to meet her father. Hardenberg was learning to be a salt mine manager when he met Sophie who was twelve years old at the time. She was an unusual choice for him considering how most thought she was average in looks, personality and intelligence. Hardenberg was also an aspiring poet and philosopher at the time, thought she had a special quality about her.

The pairing was considered unusual at the time but not wrong. He was twenty-two years old at the time, but his intentions were honourable. The pair got engaged when she was thirteen and they were to be married when she turned fifteen. I felt sorry for Sophie. In the book, she seemed very passive. I think as she grew older, she developed some affection for him but only because she grew up with him.

I think Hardenberg and Sophie would not have been happy together if they did get married. In the book, all he did was say romantic and philosophical things and Sophie never understood them. She was more interested in playing with her dogs, snow and playing with her siblings, typical interests for any child. I think she had a lot more growing up to do and didn’t comprehend the responsibilities that marriage would entail.

Besides the romance, the book also describes Hardenberg’s family and friends. I felt that all the characters were very fleshed out. I liked reading about Hardenberg’s family, particularly his siblings. I felt sorry to learn what happened to them in later life.

I thought Fitzgerald captured every day life in the 18th century authentically. I liked descriptions of the relationships between men and women.  There were times when I didn’t like the dialogue, I thought it was too philosophical and not what people would say.  
The Blue Flower is not something I would normally read. Jon Bear and I put it on our booklist when we first started the blog. We wanted to do a book challenge and read things we had never read before. I don’t know who picked this book. I think we chose eleven books each. I chose a selection of books off the bestseller lists and some from my own collection.

I enjoyed reading The Blue Flower. I like historical books. I thought Fitzgerald’s writing was so good that if I hadn’t known, I would have thought that the book was written in that time instead of being published in 1995.


Monday, 28 May 2018

Henry and Voula: An Offbeat Love Story by Maureen Stewart



Henry and Voula by Maureen Stewart is the story of two lovesick teenagers. Fourteen-year-old Henry has a huge crush on Greek girl Voula, so he sneaks a letter into her art portfolio asking for her help in a project about Greek culture. The two start a letter exchange which leads to love.

The two characters are adorable, and I believed in their love story. Henry is melodramatic, neurotic and deeply infatuated with Voula. He’s lovesick on her, getting hives every time at the slightest inkling of disapproval or set back from Voula. Voula is the most sensible of the pair. She’s delighted but cautious about the relationship. Her parents don’t want her to date and they wouldn’t approve of Henry because he’s not Greek.

I have a thing for YA books from the 80-90s and I bought this book from a Lifeline store for a dollar. There’s short message written at the front, it was a Christmas present for a girl named Barbara in 1993.   I thought this book was very cute and reminded me of high school. The love story is very innocent, puppy love stuff. They pass notes to each other and meet in the library. They don’t even kiss or hold hands.

I could relate to Voula and the gender inequality that she faced in the story. She is not allowed to date because she’s a girl. However, her brother is allowed to date because he’s boy. Voula is forbidden from socialising with boys and her family call to check where she is at all times. They are worried that if she socialises with boys, she’ll disgrace the family by getting pregnant or a bad reputation. My parents were also worried about me socialising with boys when I was growing up, but I wasn’t forbidden from dating anyone. I didn’t date anyone in high school, so it wasn’t an issue.

The book is rather short but there is a sequel which finishes the story off. One could finish the book in a few minutes.  I’ve read the sequel too. It seems like the story was just cut in half. The book is no longer in print but look for it online, in the library or in a thrift shop.


Monday, 21 May 2018

May Happenings (2018)



Life

This month, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. I have a terrible habit of procrastinating. I put off what I need to do, and I think I’m too busy to do the stuff that I would like to do. So, I decided to stop being lazy and have weekly goals. I mainly want to read more, exercise and get more things done.

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I’m always tired so being healthier will help me with the having energy to get things done. I’m going to bed earlier and trying to focus on sleeping instead of thinking about everything.

As for exercise, I’ve started walking for thirty minutes on a treadmill and doing squats and sit ups. I’m going to do Pilates and yoga too. It’s something I enjoyed doing years ago.

Watching

Search Party 



Search Party is a comedy mystery series about a bunch of millennials who try to find their missing friend Chantel. I am watching season two now. I would say the first season is more compelling than the current season. There were lots of twists and turns. What I find appealing about the show is that it is current with trends and events happening. All the characters are little ridiculous in their own way. The second season is more comedic. Australians can watch the show on sbsondemand.

Imposters

Imposters is a show about three people Ezra (Rob Heaps), Richie (Parker Young) and  Julia (Marianne Rendon)  who were scammed by Maddie (Inbar Lavi) . She married each of them and stole all their money. They manage to track her down to confront her and find out that she’s part of a bigger conspiracy. Meanwhile, they are all being tracked by the FBI and a mysterious doctor.  I’ve only watched three episodes of season 2 so far and I like what’s going on. They are in Mexico and it’s just gorgeous there.

Reading
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I’m still reading The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald which has been on my booklist for eight years. It’s a fictional biography of Friedrich von Hardenberg, a German philosopher who lived in the 17th century. It’s an interesting read. I find the character to be a bit silly, but he is young and a dreamer. The only thing I have contention with, is that he courted Sophie von Kuhn, twelve-year-old girl when he was twenty-two years old. It was something that he really did do. However, I understand that it was a different time.
The characters do find it peculiar that he would be so besotted with a twelve-year-old. They think she’s just a child but Hardenberg says there’s something special about her. He was an honourable man though. Hardenberg asked her father for permission to court her and she liked him. They got engaged when she was thirteen years old. *spoiler* They were to wed when she turned fifteen, but she sadly died of tuberculosis. *


Monday, 30 April 2018

UnIndian

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UnIndian is an Australian/Indian produced movie starring Brett Lee, a former Australian cricketer and Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee. Cricket is a popular sport in both countries so having Brett Lee as a lead was a draw card. I don’t watch cricket at all, but I was curious to see Brett Lee in a film. This film was a passion project for producer and writer Anupam Sharma who has been working in the film industry showcasing Indian cinema. Many patrons helped to produce this film and there is a lengthy amount of credits thanking organisations and individuals in the opening.

Meera (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a single mother to Smitha (Maya Sathiamoorthy) and working in Public Relations for Cochlear. She is pressured by her parents to marry again. Her parents are convinced that is the only way she’ll ever be happy.

 Will is an English teacher, who teaches Australian culture to international students. He meets Meera at a Holi festival and is instantly smitten. Will’s best friends Tinku “TK” ( Arka Das) and Mich (Adam Dunn) help him, telling him the differences in dating an Indian girl. Meera and Will have to fight for their relationship, against the wishes of her family and culture.

I thought the movie was okay. I didn’t find it funny, but I thought there were some cute moments. I could relate to trying to balance two cultures. The acting in the film was amateurish. I didn’t think there was much chemistry between the leads. The dialogue was a bit corny which may have attributed to some of the poor acting. Brett Lee tries his best, fully embracing his role. Maybe he’ll get better with practice.

The parts of the movie I did like were the dance numbers which is the norm in Bollywood movies. The dance scenes were so entertaining, over the top and frivolous which is exactly how it should be. I loved the ending credits where they had a dance scene with the production staff.
I would watch this film again despite its flaws. It’s an entertaining and feel good film. You can see the love and effort put in the film.




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