November 20th, 2010


60 and 61

I haven't been making too much progress on my reading, but hopefully I can finish more by the end of the year.
Book 60 was a rather dated book, a 1969 book entitled Discipline in the Secondary Classroom by Louis LeGrande. Despite being out of date, there were some good points about managing classrooms, and so it was useful to my teacher training.
Book 61 was Ben Goldacre's British book Bad Science which described the problems in media reporting of science, issues in nutrition and cosmetics and how ordinary people don't understand what science is. It made me reflect, as I washed my hair, why "de-ionised water" is supposed to be positive. Ben also explains the hysteria over MMR and advocates more thought when science is used to justify policy. I recommend the book, though the examples and discussion are rather British, and so North Americans may only be interested in some aspects.

Pages; 17,136.
gothic 02

Book 105-106: A Great and Terrible Beauty and The Hollow

Book 105: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Book 1, Gemma Doyle Trilogy).
Author: Libba Bray, 2003.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Fantasy. YA.
Other Details: Paperback. 403 pages.

After the death of her mother in India in the summer of1895, sixteen-year old Gemma Doyle is sent to England where she is enrolled at Spence Academy, a posh boarding school. She finds her reception there quite chilly. Aside from a group of Victorian 'mean girls' who make her life miserable, she finds that she is having visions of the future. She is soon drawn into exploring a magical realm in which lies her destiny and also great dangers.

I had been been looking forward to reading this for some time given its combination of Victorian Gothic with spiritualism, magic and the Otherworld (the Realms). It certainly didn't disappoint and its boarding school setting reminded me some of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' in terms of a sense of repressed sexuality and strange going-ons.

I loved Gemma as a main character and narrator though felt she deserved better friends! Still even flawed they remained quite interesting supporting characters. I found I responded strongly to their desire to rebel against the way in which their lives were being mapped out by their families and the values of society and how the powers they sought to develop were a way to further this sense of independence.

There were questions left unanswered but with this being the first of a trilogy I am remaining patient and have moved on to Book 2, Rebel Angels. It is quite obviously a young adult novel though I was able to enjoy it on its own terms.

Book 106: The Hollow (The Hollow 01).
Author: Jessica Verday, 2009.
Genre: Fantasy. YA
Other Details: Paperback. 513 pages.

When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge close to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone is quick to accept that Kristen is dead. Abbey refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Her sense of aloneness is acute as the two girls had been inseparable since childhood. She then meets Caspian, a gorgeous and mysterious boy who had shown up at Kristen's funeral. He keeps reappearing in Abbey's life and obviously has secrets of his own. When she discovers a secret that Kristen has kept from her, she begins to question their friendship.

I fell in love with this novel from the start in terms of its storyline, characters, setting and style. Jessica Verday skilfully weaves the Legend of Sleepy Hollow into a modern tale of loss and love. She takes her time introducing the book's supernatural elements, focusing instead upon Abbey's bereavement. I found this very compelling and moving. I also admired her handling of the Gothic elements, again not overloading the symbolism but allowing it to emerge naturally from the ambiance of her New England setting.

Books 31 - 39.

31. Marcus Aurelius - Meditations (English translation)
Some good stuff, some less so, but worth the read.

32. Astley (ed.) - Staying Alive: Real Poems For Unreal Times
Some really awesome stuff, and learned also about the forming of a poem from it too.

33. Martel - Life Of Pi
Very interesting, though the fact of Pi being a Unreliable Narrator and his attitude towards the end of the book towards the interviewers (plus the possible truths) made things off-putting. :P

34. Martin - My Life With The Saints
35. Martin - The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality For Real Life
Pretty good reads, both - can't really imagine other comments on them.

36. Joyce - Poems And Exiles
Good, though not as much fun as "Ulysses" (yes, I liked it).

37. Pernoud - Joan Of Arc, By Herself And Her Witnesses
Solid, reliable story, and inspiring.

38. Ihsen & Flynn - The Complete Idiot's Guide To Mindfulness
39. McClain & Adamson - The Complete Idiot's Guide To Zen Living
The first one is a bit of a 'Dreamworld People' thing, though they talk about being in the 'now'. The latter is more preferable (and it includes some of the points mentioned in the first).

(In case you wonder: I posted this so close after the last post because that post was ready only after reading the last book, while this one had been almost finished before that. Or something like that *lol*)
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