Friday, 24 April 2020

Mary Poppin by P.L Travers review by Carlyn

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers, Mary Shepard (9780544439566) - PaperBack - Children's Fiction Classics

I have a terrible habit of starting books and not finishing them. I decided that since I had a lot more time due to the Corona Virus, that I would finish Mary Poppins by P.L Travers. It is a book that I started reading in 2018. I found it in an old box when I was doing some cleaning.

Mary Poppins by P.L Travers is a book about a magical and mysterious nanny named Mary Poppins. She is looks after Michael, Jane, John and Barbara Banks who live on 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London. Mary Poppins takes the children on adventures like going on a trip around the world using a magical compass, having tea parties on the ceiling and meeting talking animals. All the adventures are episodic and leaves you wanting more. My favourite chapters were the one about a cow who couldn’t stop dancing and John and Barbara who are babies talking to a crow.

I think one of the intriguing things about Mary Poppins is her mysterious character. She never explains the weird stuff that happens and even denies that it happened at all. The children are left not knowing what to think.

I also watched the movie for the first time and I thought it was magical. I can see why it’s a family favourite for many people. There are many more Mary Poppins books but I’m not going to go out of my way to read them. If I find one at a secondhand bookshop, I’ll give it a go.  I think this book is great for children, it would be easy for children to read by themselves or have an adult read to them.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Pride and Prejudice: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith- Review by Carlyn

Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith
Pride and Prejudice: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith is the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. The book is a parody of Pride and Prejudice with zombies added for fun.

The sequel picks up where the last novel ended. Elizabeth and Darcy are newly married and adjusting to living with each other. Elizabeth is discontent with being a gentleman’s wife and discarding her warrior duties for the sake of decorum. When Elizabeth and Darcy go on a leisurely stroll to discuss matters, Darcy is bitten by a zombie. Elizabeth turns to an unlikely source to help her find a cure for Darcy. She must set aside her morals to help the man she loves.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s a lot of fun. You have to embrace the ridiculous premise to enjoy it. What makes the novel entertaining is the humor. I don’t think there’s any laugh out loud moments but there’s plenty of ridiculous characters and situations that make the story entertaining. There’s always a surprise zombie attack that makes all the villagers run for their lives and the Bennet girls spring into action.

I liked how all the Bennet girls are skilled warriors. It was kinda like they were superheroes because they had to hide their fighting prowess as it would be considered unladylike for that time. While the villagers run off screaming from a zombie horde, the Bennet sisters race into action. There’s also ninjas in the story which add to the fun.

I thought the side plots with Mary and Kitty were more interesting than the main story that featured Elizabeth. It was interesting for them to go on their own adventures and love stories. I would love to read more stories where they are the main characters.

There’s a never a dull moment in this book. The blood and gore isn’t too graphic. I don’t enjoy horror unless it’s horror comedy so I found this book just right. There is a prequel to this book called Pride and Prejudice: Dawn of the Dreadful by Steve Hockensmith which will probably be more action packed as it will show the beginning of the undead plague.  

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Life Update 2020

I’m a schoolteacher living in the Torres Strait which is a cluster of islands near Far North Queensland and Papua New Guinea. I have been teaching in the Torres Strait for one and a half years. Teaching in the Straits is a challenging and rewarding experience. The Torres Strait is made up of 274 islands and fourteen of these islands are inhabited. All the islands are unique. There are different languages and dialects spoken on each of the islands and the environments differ according to whether it is a central or outer island.
The new school year is about to begin so I’ve got to set up my classroom. I’m teaching a new grade this year so it will be a learning journey for me.

credit: goodreads

I’m currently reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my favourite books. I was entrigued by the idea of zombies entering England in the Regency period. This book is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith and Jane Austen. You can read my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith and Jane Austen here

 This book has been on my bookshelf, gathering dust and unread for many years. So I finally decided to read it. I thought it would be a good distraction for me while I was flying to the island that I am currently living on now. I had to board a small plane to get to my island. The plane could carry around ten people. There is no inflight entertainment or air hostess. I felt a bit scared at times from the turbulence and the view of the vast ocean.


I am watching The People vs. OJ Simpson. It’s a miniseries depicting the trial of O.J Simpson as he was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. I remember watching the car chase and seeing the trial on the news when I was a kid.  

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Life Update

pictures from the island

It’s been a while since I last updated the blog. I’m still teaching in the Torres Strait which is a group of islands near North Queensland. I have the same class from last year which is good because I know how to run the class and I know all the children. Four new students enrolled last week and I’m eager to see how they will add to the class dynamic. It’s common for families to move from island to island. I’m not sure how long the new students will stay.

I moved into a new apartment and now I have a roommate. I was apprehensive about moving at first and having a roommate. There isn’t many options available when it comes to accommodation here. All the teacher accommodation is managed by the government. I had to move out of my old place because it was only meant to be temporary accommodation.

My new roommate is a fellow teacher. We get along great. I feel very comfortable living with her. It’s been wonderful having someone to talk to and understand what I’m going through. She’s like the sister I never had. We’re both alone in the Torres Strait so it’s good we have each other.
 One thing I want to do differently this term is make more time for my hobbies. It’s very easy to work all the time because there’s isn’t much to do on this island and the workload for having a multi grade class is huge. However, I try to be mindful not to burn out. I am more aware of when I’m starting to exhaust myself. I remind myself that not everything has to be perfect and things can be done later. I try not to make school my entire life.

Besides teaching, I have re-enrolled into university to continue with my Bachelor of Arts degree. I dropped out of it midway last year. I regretted dropping out as I really missed my courses. I didn’t think that I could study and work full time. I just squeeze in my study with my life.
Jon has decided to stop blogging until the mood hits him. We still keep in regular contact on Facebook. He’s posting a lot more on that now.

I measure my time by terms which are every three months. We’re at the start of Term 2, I’ll update again when the term finishes. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Amish Cooking Class: The Seekers by Wanda E. Brunstetter

After reading a few sad and grim books, I decided to change pace and read something wholesome. What could be more wholesome than a novel about an Amish cooking? I’ve always had a fascination with Amish people, so I was looking forward to this book. Wanda E. Brunstetter has written numerous novels about Amish people and has some Amish heritage.

 Heidi Troyer starts a beginners cooking class to share her love of cooking. She has five students who each have a different motivation for joining her class. The chapters alternate between the characters. The characters are Charlene, a young woman who wants to impress her future mother in law, Loretta, a widow who wants to cook wholesome meals for her children, Ron, a Vietnam veteran who has a hidden agenda and Eli, an Amish man wants to learn to cook after his wife died and Kendra, a pregnant young woman needing to fill in time.

I really enjoyed the chapters when the cooking class was taking place. The recipes sounded delicious and I was thrilled that the recipes were included in the back of the book. I can’t wait to try them. I didn’t have a favourite character in this book. They all had some good points. I felt really sorry for some of the characters and there was one where I wanted a different ending.

One thing that I found jarring with this book was the dialogue. I thought the characters sounded similar and a little too formal at times. I didn’t think the dialogue sounded natural. I was later surprised to learn that the book was written in 2017. I thought the book was from the 90s from the old-fashioned dialogue.

I still enjoyed the book overall despite the dialogue. It’s the first book in series so I do want to read the next books to learn what happens next to some characters.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Beloved by Toni Morrison


Beloved is a story about an African American former slave named Sethe who is haunted the ghost of her infant daughter Beloved. While escaping from her master, Sethe murdered her daughter Beloved so that she wouldn’t have to live the life as a slave. Sethe is shunned by her community and lives her other daughter Denver. The two live an isolated existence with the poltergeist until an old acquaintance called Paul D. arrives.

The book was inspired by a former slave named Margaret Garner who killed her daughter, so she wouldn’t endure a life of slavery. It is an interesting and sad case as it was debated whether she would be trialed as a person or property.

I thought it was interesting how the characters embraced Beloved and the different relationships that they had with her. Denver has a confidant and doesn’t feel so lonely anymore and Sethe feels like she can make up for what she did to Beloved. Paul D. doesn’t trust her at all.

I sympathized with Sethe. What she did to Beloved was terrible, but I understand that she was in an awful situation and wanted to protect her children in her own way. Maybe I would feel differently if she were a real person. The true tragedy of the book was slavery and the trauma that survivors felt and having to adjust to the world. It was hard reading the cruelty that happened to the characters in the book and the racism of that time period.

This book is not something I would normally read. I had to read it for a college course that I was taking in Gothic Literature. I found this book a little hard to read at first because of the way it is written. I didn’t understand some of the metaphors and the dialogue at times. Overall, I enjoyed reading the book.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

December 2018

I’m back home for the holidays and intend to blog more. I got a new job in August which has kept me pretty busy. I’m a teacher and I went to teach in a remote location. It was a very rewarding experience, I have lots of good memories about the people and the place. I’m going back next year once the school year starts. I hope to make a lot of improvements for next year.

One thing that I want to improve on is giving priority to my personal goals. Before I got my job, I had started on an Arts degree majoring in creative writing. It was something that I had always wanted to do.  I dropped out of college when I got my job because I felt that I would be too busy to do it.
I missed writing and having that creative outlet, so I’ve enrolled back into uni. I’m still working full time, but I’ll make the time for my studies.
I have a few weeks of summer vacation which I intend to catch up with friends, go out and watch lots of movies. What I like the most about being back in city is the availability of everything and catching up with people.  I do enjoy living in a remote place, but a change of scenery is good.


I am currently reading The First Days of School: How to be an effective teacher by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong to get some tips on teaching. I’ve been a substitute teacher for most of my career but now I have my own class. Subbing is different from being a classroom teacher. A substitute fills in for a classroom teacher who is away. Now I have to do some planning. I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the students throughout the school year, which was something I wasn’t a part of as a sub.  


I am also reading the bible to better understand the community that I work in. Most of the community are Christians and the school is sensitive to the culture of the community despite being a public school. We have a prayer at every staff meeting and school function. I’m a Buddhist but I don’t have any problem with learning another religion.

In contrast, I’m also reading The Davinci Code by Dan Brown. Jon Bear and I are reading the book together and I’ll post a review about it later.


I started watching The Alienist on Netflix. It’s set in 18th century New York and follows a psychologist, a newspaper illustrator and police secretary who are investigating serial murders. I’ve only watched one episode and I’m hooked.

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