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Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Book_Cover_-_Before_I_FallThey say ‘live every day as if it’s your last’—but you never actually think it’s going to be. At least I didn’t.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or—in my case—remember to say goodbye to them at all.
But what if, like me, you could live your last day over and over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have no regrets? Or are there some things you’d want to change…?

Before I Fall begins with the main character, Sam, telling the reader that she is dead. She then proceeds to narrate her final day of life, and the seemingly random events that culminated in her tragic death at the age of seventeen. However, the day that she dies is not Sam’s final day, as she is forced to relive the day over and over again, with no idea why or what is happening. But Lauren Oliver makes it clear that there is something Sam must do, something she must understand, before her endless last day will stop repeating.

Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.

Oliver’s novel is beautiful, poignant and utterly captivating. I picked it up for something to fill my day with and just about devoured it in one setting. Sam’s story is one that will stay with you, well beyond the final pages.

(MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!)

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Ranting, Reading, Uncategorized, YA Books

Book Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

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The U.S. cover

For it has been many years since she left the place where her hands were crippled by a fire – years in which she has nurtured her special talent with animals.

Sevenwaters is also much changed. It is now enslaved by the fey prince Mac Dara, a force of malignant magic who is responsible for a party of travellers disappearing. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and her brother Finbar are lured to the Otherworld on a journey that may save Sevenwaters… or lead to catastrophe.

If Maeve is ever to dream of a future, she must confront the darkness of her past.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that I don’t love the blurb… This is truly a fantastic novel, and I just don’t think that the blurb does it justice. Personally, if I was unsure of Juliet Marillier, if I didn’t already know that I have loved every single one of her books, I might not have picked this up. As it was, I pre-ordered the American edition, just because I couldn’t didn’t want to wait the extra month for the Australian edition. And I’m glad that I didn’t wait.

Flame of Sevenwaters was everything I expected, and so much more.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fantasy, Ranting, Reading, Uncategorized

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 21

Day 21: Favourite picture book from childhood

I’m certain that I had many a picture book to flick through as a child, but the one I remember the most clearly, the one I remember as mine and not my sister’s or ours was this:

Sounds my Feet Make – Arlene Blanchard & Vanessa Julian-Ottie

The premise of this book is simple enough. A young girl explores the world through the different sounds her feet make. The sound of her gumboots crunching through leaves or jumping into puddles. The sound of walking across metal grilles or wooden floors. This was a lovely book for a child, and it never failed to make me want to run around and see what noises I could get my feet to make. Somewhere over the last 23 years I lost it, and I do kinda wish I could find again, just to flick through it one more time, and reminisce.

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2 A.M.

It is nearly two o’clock in the morning here, and I am wide awake.

Ideally, I would rather be blissfully dreaming the night away, but clearly that just isn’t going to happen any time soon.

I have been spending the last week (or is it two? three, even?) being alternately absorbed by the book I’m reading (On the Edge by Richard and Mindy Hammond), the TV show I’m watching (Eurekabehind the times in the middle of season 3), and the many, many articles and books and forums I’ve been reading in preparation for my upcoming assignment.

My mind is awhirl with combinations of serious brain injuries, strange science experiments, styles of leadership, car crashes and professional development plans. Is it any wonder at all that I suddenly can’t sleep?

I’m actually quite amazed that I haven’t forgotten which way is up and which subject I’m meant to be focusing on at the moment. But then, there’s still time! Come Monday, it could be that my lecturer gets an assignment on the fascinating and addictive show that is Eureka, and a report on the effects of serious brain injuries. Or, if I can actually get to sleep sometime soon, mayhap they’ll get an essay on two of Goleman’s leadership styles and a report providing an overview of a professional development plan.

Maybe. We’ll just have to wait and see. And, hopefully, sleep.

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Facebook and Cyberbullying

I found this, quite ironically, whilst trawling facebook and I wanted to share it, but no way that I’m sharing it there… Such a poignant video, it made me want to do something, and yet, I’m not ready to leave facebook.

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Changes in Society…

Bad grades 1960 2010

Another image that I have found recently. Hilarious and yet horrifying.

This one, I feel, perfectly depicts recent changes in the parental approach to teachers and education. Several of my friends are currently teaching, and I’m always horrified to hear about the power that parents and students can have over teachers…

One of my friends recently told me about a teacher at her school who was in the position of year 8 level coordinator. This teacher was an amazing coordinator who made sure students experienced the repercussions of their actions. If students misbehaved in class, dressed inappropriately or didn’t apply themselves to their studies, they knew that they would be sent to talk to this teacher. He was an excellent disciplinarian who knew the best way to get the best out of his students.

Until one complained to their parents.
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Filed under Funny, Of concern, Social commentary, Teaching, Uncategorized

Concerning Wikipedia…

Wikipedia logo

Wikipedia. A word that can shivers of dread down any educator’s spine.

Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has experienced an almost viral spread that has seen it become the go-to source of information all around the world. The online encyclopaedia contains information on pretty much any topic that can, and has, been thought up: from the strange corners of science to largely unknown historical figures and influential inventors. Wikipedia is clearly a source of basic (and sometimes in-depth) knowledge on many a topic. And yet many educators refuse to acknowledge it as a useful resource.

During my previous university studies, I completed eighteen weeks of practical teaching placement in four different secondary schools. And at each of these schools I witnessed a teacher emphatically tell their students that on no account was Wikipedia to be used as a reference for school assignments. I myself have been guilty of flat-out refusing students the use of Wikipedia as a resource. But why is this?

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