Saturday, 6 October 2018

October Update



Life
It’s been a long time since I blogged. In August I accepted a new job teaching in the Torres Strait. The Torres Strait is a series of islands located up north of Queensland. I live on a small island of 250 inhabitants and I teach primary school.  The island is very small and it only takes an hour to walk around the whole island. I’ve really enjoyed the experience. The people are very friendly and welcoming. It is a bit of an isolating experience in some ways. Mobile phone reception is limited to a few hotspots on the island and the internet is slow. This island is not open to the public as it is a part of the Indigenous Protection zone.

I’ve recently had a short vacation in Cairns. It was refreshing to be back in a city again. I went shopping and explored the sights. My brother came up from Brisbane to join me on vacation. I hadn’t seen him since I left.

I am looking forward to the end of the year. There’s going to be a lot of fun events happening. The school will have a Christmas Concert and the grade six students will have their graduation. When the students have finished all their assessments, we’ll play games, do arts and crafts and watch movies. The last week of school was always my favourite time of year when I was a kid.


Reading
I am still reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. I think it’s a very exciting book although some might see it as tame compared to the horror genre in modern times. I think the story is told in a very interesting way. I like how the story is told through different viewpoints by diary entry, newspaper clipping and telegrams.

Watching
I’ve recently started watching Doc Martin. It’s a British drama series about a cantankerous surgeon who moves to a sleepy coastal town after he develops an aversion to blood. The town inhabitants get on his nerves with their stupid questions and beliefs. He is a very serious and blunt person which is what adds to the entertainment.



Tuesday, 7 August 2018

We Bare Bears

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We Bare Bears is a cartoon series about three bears living in San Francisco. The oldest is Grizz who is a Grizzly bear, then there is Panda and Ice Bear who is a polar bear. Grizz is an extrovert, who loves action movies and video games. Panda wants to find a girlfriend and loves anime. Ice Bear loves to cook and is pretty handy with an axe.

The three bears try to integrate into human society having grown up alone and homeless. They make a few friends along the way but mostly stick to themselves. It’s a heartwarming cartoon that everyone can watch. The episodes are the brothers trying new restaurants, going to the movies, grocery store and then having something go wrong.

I think this show is so cute. I’ve watched three seasons so far. My favourite bear is Ice Bear. He’s the quietest out of the bears and talks in a monotone. Ice Bear says random one liners that I think are funny and endearing.

The episodes are about twelve minutes long so it’s good when you want to something short to pass the time. I like to watch it when I’m eating or taking a break.




Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

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The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is a story about a white cat named Nana and his life with his owner Satoru Miyawaki. The story is told from the cat’s point of view. Nana starts life as a stray but is befriended by Satoru. They live happily together until something happens to Satoru. He cannot look after the cat anymore and tries to find a new home for Nana. The pair go on a road trip to meet Satoru’s old friends who might be able to care for him.

I’m a cat lover and I have a cat. I was thrilled to learn about this book. I haven’t read many books where the main character is an animal. I thought that Arikawa did a great job in making a cat’s personality. Nana was aloof yet loving in his own way, which is what cats are like normally. I was also interested in the book from a writer’s perspective. I think that it would be difficult to write from an animal’s perspective. Animals don’t talk, and a lot has to be conveyed by internal thought and their movement.

The story is deceptively simple. The friends that Satoru visits reveal different parts of his life, from childhood, adolescence and adult life. The stories reveal Satoru’s kind and gentle nature and his love for his family, friends and cat.

I really enjoyed this book. I almost shed a tear at the end. The book has been made into a film! 



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.


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