My Catchphrases

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Guest Review: Rent DVD

Actors: Taye Diggs, Jesse Martin, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Rapp

Directors: Chris Columbus

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

DVD Release Date: 14 Aug 2006

Run Time: 129 minutes

The film (based on the hit Broadway musical) has many themes including sexuality, drugs and money struggles with paying vast amounts of rent. However, the iconic topic to this film is the struggle of the community living under the shadow of AIDS and HIV. Several of the characters in the film are suffering with AIDS and HIV including;

Tom Collins (an anarchist philosophy professor),

Angel Dummott-Schunard (a gay drag queen street musician),

Roger Davis (an ex-heroin addict rock musician) and

Mimi Marquez (a heroin addict and nightclub dancer).

Although people may be turned off this film due to the subject matter, the musical numbers included in the film really explain the themes. Such musical numbers include;

“One Song Glory”- a song about writing one last song before dying of AIDS.

“Life Support”- defining the struggle of AIDS and the desire to live their last years to the fullest.

“Will I?”- questioning how their lives will continue now that they have AIDS.

All of these songs talk of the battle of living with AIDS and these songs truly touch the audience and give them a different view of people who live with the life-threatening disease that is AIDS. We eventually get to the harsh reality of this condition as one of the main characters who was suffering dies from the disease (I won’t tell you so not to ruin it ha ha!!!)

We see these characters over the course of a year and we see their struggles in their relationships, the hardship of living with AIDS and HIV and we see the battle of trying to pay vast amounts of money which they don’t have. Of course, just because of the main topic of AIDS, we shouldn’t forget the other characters featured in the film including;

Mark Cohen (A struggling Jewish filmmaker),

Maureen Johnson (a bisexual performance artist)

Joanne Jefferson (a lesbian Harvard-graduated lawyer)

Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III (an ex-roommate turned enemy)

If I was to rate this film, I would give it the best marks possible (not just because I’m a fanatic when it comes to musicals ha ha!!) due to the fact that it can change people’s opinions on a manner of the different themes given. This film is truly an iconic one and I hope that it will remain as a classic and it should never be forgotten.

I would like to thank Danni Year 12 for the wonderful review.

Trailer Tuesday: World Aids Day

Thanks to Caroline at Portrait of a Woman she has put together a list of YA books that deal with this sensitive, tough and harrowing subject.

HIV/AIDS in Young Adult Literature - A Bibliography
So in preparation of tomorrows review day for some of the titles mentioned in the bibliography I thought I would run some of the trailers.

Synopsis: From GoodReads - A girl's struggle amid the African AIDS pandemic.
"As soon as I get back from the shabeen, I go next door to see Mrs. Tafa. I have to ask to use her phone to let our relatives know about Sara. I'm nervous. Mrs. Tafa would like to run the world. Since she can't run the world she's decided to run our neighborhood."
So speaks sixteen-year-old Chanda, an astonishingly perceptive girl living in the small city of Bonang, a fictional city in Southern Africa.
While Mrs. Tafa's hijinks are often amusing, the fact is that Chanda's world is profoundly difficult. When her youngest sister dies, the first hint of HIV/AIDS emerges.
In this sensitive, swiftly-paced story readers will find echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird as Chanda must confront undercurrents of shame and stigma. Not afraid to explore the horrific realities of AIDS, Chanda's Secrets also captures the enduring strength of loyalty, friendship and family ties. Above all, it is a story about the corrosive nature of secrets and the healing power of truth.
Through the artful style of acclaimed author Stratton, the determination and resilience Chanda embodies will live on in readers' minds

 Synopsis: From GoodReads - Unforgettable novel about a girl struggling with HIV

Plus I just had to include these movie trailers:

Monday, 29 November 2010

MG Monday: Review: The Limit by Kristen Landon

Title: The Limit
Author: Kristen Landon
Publisher: Aladdin - Simon and Schuster (USA)
Publication Date: 7 Sep 2010

Source: Author/Publisher - Thanks  to Kristen for letting me stalk you for the book [ ; ) ]

Synopsis: From GoodReads
An eighth grade girl was taken today . . . With this first sentence, readers are immediately thrust into a fast-paced thriller that doesn't let up for a moment. In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceed the monthly debt limit imposed by the government. Thirteen-year-old Matt briefly wonders if he might be next, but quickly dismisses the thought. After all, his parents are financially responsible, unlike the parents of those other kids. As long as his parents remain within their limit, the government will be satisfied and leave them alone. But all it takes is one fatal visit to the store to push Matt’s family over their limit—and to change his reality forever.

Written in first person narrative from Matt's perspective. Just your average tween math genius forcibly taken from his family when they go over their government assigned credit limit.
The scenario of over-spending and excess consumerism is so frighteningly easy to picture with today's society. A global economic crisis yet spending is encouraged even if it means going into debt to maintaining an image that cannot be afforded. Showing the emphasis placed on material possessions by a shopping fuelled culture. Excessive consumerism is actively encouraged in order to keep families in debt and therefore, the children working.
The reader is given the impression of a 'big brother' society, with the possible manipulation of credit limits in order to take the children with the highest IQs for their own nefarious purpose. Those with lower IQs were used as guinea pigs to test a form of subliminal messaging. My love of conspiracy theories came to live with this story, imagining a Government conspiracy regarding credit taking advantage of the poor/old/gullible for their own gain: hmmm sounds familiar.....
Visually arresting with the use of bar codes at the edge of chapter headings. Cleverly giving hints and parallels to the plot. Reinforcement of key words builds the tension while reiterating the plot. The descriptive writing style enables the reader to fully appreciate how deceptive looks and first impressions can be.
Conclusion: A fascinating psychological thriller for the Middle Grade category with multi-age appeal.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

In My Mailbox #28

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting this meme.

From the Library

OK much squeeing was involved this week. My 10 year old is sending me to book addicts anon LOL

Off to comment on everyone else's IMM's

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Saturday Spotlight: Thanksgiving

I know we don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in this country - missing out on some really awesome food. When I first started blogging way back in January, lol, I noticed a meme about Thanksgiving just to as a chance to say the things we are grateful for. I loved the idea so much that I made a note to do it actually at Thanksgiving and here we are. Prepare for gushing [ ; ) ]

Let me start by giving some background about how difficult this year has been for my family. My husband has now been unemployed for nearly two years, money is very tight. My children have had to change schools not once but twice. Initially due to an absolutely horrid Cover Teacher that bullied my oldest daughter. It was only months later that we discovered the full extent of the bullying, my daughter is still petrified to see her even when we are out. The quick decision regarding the school we placed them in was based on reputation and choice of Secondary School, unfortunately they placed more emphasis on wealth and material possessions than actually teaching the children to be kind and considerate. So the first thing I am truly grateful for as well as having my girls is finding a nice school for them where they are nurtured and encouraged.

The next major difference this year for which I am extremely grateful is my blog. I do love it, am a little bit obsessed with it but it is my outlet through it I have made some awesome friends, who I will thank individually. Most of all I need to thank Clover from Fluttering Butterflies for becoming my book swapping buddy and encourage me to give blogging a try. Thank you so much you are truly awesome. She has also introduced me to Nerdfighters which gives me my favourite phrase DFTBA (Don't Forget To Be Awesome).
Thank you so much it has really changed my life [ : D ]

My wonderful blogger friends who talk to me on Twitter, make me feel better when I am having a bad day and share their books with me. You guys are awesome and I am very grateful to have you in my life.



Susan K Mann.

To Lynsey Newton for setting up UK Book Tours for being so absolutely lovely to me even when I have 5 tour books in my house. For not rushing me to read them and for being all round wonderful (I sign up for nearly everything, just so you know how much Lynsey has to put up with me) and for giving me the chance to read some of the most fantastic books. Plus she sent me great books for the library.

To Caroline at Portrait of a Woman - what can I say (preferably without blubbing) Your generosity has touched me; Caroline being able to attend some very fantastic book signings actually bought me books in order to get them signed for me. She is super supportive and sends me books for the library. You are one terrific person and don't you forget it.
Lauren from I was a Teenage Book Geek you are always been supportive, giving great advice and a wonderful font of knowledge you so kindly share.

Jenny from Wondrous Reads your blog is inspiring, you are a lovely person and amazing source of book, film, TV and music knowledge which you kindly share; not only have I discovered great books via your blog but some awesome music too. Not only that but Jenny has sent both me and the girlies some beautiful books and swag, we appreciate it.

Carla from The Crooked Shelf I totally love the way you express yourself; you cheer me up endlessly (even if you don't mean to) Thank you. Plus you now have me addicted to Augustana.

Dwayne from Girls Without a Bookshelf thank you for being one of my first followers and leaving me some truly beautiful comments.

Andrew from The Emancipation of Pewter Wolf your random chats and music recommendations brighten my day.

For all the other wonderful bloggers that I speak to regularly Tammy/Sarah/Jo/Naomi/Sarah (Green Bean)/Kristi/Sammee/Vicki this means you too, it would take an eternity to name you all individually but I am thankful we share the same passion for books and random chats. You guys totally rock. If I have forgotten anyone I apologise I don't mean to and chatting to you means a lot to me.
The authors that take the time to actually respond to the random tweets and reviews I put out. Thanks it means a lot. Special thanks to Keris Stainton, Luisa Plaja, Susie Day, Jennifer Laurens and Lacey Weatherford. Not only do you write awesome books you are totally awesome people. I am honoured to chat to you and share your books in the library [ : D ] I would never have imagined this time last year actually chatting to authors like 'normal' people.

Having this blog and finding such wonderful people has changed my life in a positive way. No I am not just saying it.


Friday, 26 November 2010

Review: Awakened by Ednah Walters

Title: Awakened
Series: The Guardian Legacy
Author: Ednah Walters
Publisher: Pill Hill Press
Publication Date: 22 Aug 2010

Source: UK Book Tours (the awesome Lynsey Newton strikes again)

Synopsis: From GoodReads
Most teens turn sixteen and get the license to drive, Lil Falcon gets the license to kill demons, but no one told her she is not supposed to fall in love with one.

Orphaned as a child and raised by an eccentric grandfather, Lil is concerned with surviving high school and is unaware she's a Guardian—a being with super powers charged with killing demons and protecting humanity. But when she meets Bran, a mysterious boy with amazing abilities, his psi energy unlocks her latent powers.
But Bran has a secret that can destroy their growing relationship. He's part demon. But in her heart, Lil knows Bran is not evil. So when her grandfather is kidnapped by a powerful nature-bender and Bran is the only one who knows where he's being kept, Lil convinces the other Guardians to trust him, not knowing her grandfather is just the bait. And the truth that she discovers in the demonic enclave may just destroy everything she believes in, unless she makes the right choice—love and sacrifice.

I have to say I am a bit torn with this one; I really enjoyed the fundamental storyline but found that the information at the given at the beginning of the book was overwhelming and did in fact put me off a bit.

Written in first person narrative from Lil's perspective. She completely embraces her gypsy heritage on her Grandmothers side even down to the way she dresses. Although we have plenty of action throughout there is very little in the way of character development. I did not feel as if I knew any of the characters very well, viewing the action but not entirely understanding their motivation/allegiances. I found Lil naive in parts which didn't really fit with my main view of her.

There are a so many threads to the story; mystery upon mystery surrounding Lil mixed in with Bran's tumultuous family history. There was a heck of a lot going on in this book making it sometimes difficult to keep up with the nuances of the plot. The slant on the fallen angel ideology was engaging.

On the whole I do think this is going to be a great series and am really interested to find out which direction the storyline is going to take. I am hoping for more insight into the characters and their relationships in the next book.

If you have reviewed this book as part of UK Book Tours please leave your link here:

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thursday Tunes: Book Theme Songs #5 Prophecy of Days

Synopsis: From GoodReads
PROPHECY OF DAYS, BOOK ONE: THE DAYKEEPER’S GRIMOIRE is the story of Caity Mac Fireland, a girl from San Francisco whose parents drag her to an isle off the coast of Scotland to manage some family property. Caity finds that a Mayan relic is concealed there, intentionally left centuries ago by Mayan Daykeepers in an attempt to keep their profound knowledge about the year 2012 alive into the current era.

As she delves into this world of secret knowledge, Caity is helped along by a visiting family friend and Feng Shui master, Uncle Li; a Mayan elder named Bolon; and Mr. Papers, her pet monkey that communicates through origami. A handsome Scottish lad gets pulled into the intrigue, as do several other people with questionable motives and loyalties. Caity must weave together a tapestry of information in order to make her radical discovery, a mystery protected by an elite coterie of power-brokers who influence world events. Caity’s twenty-first century mind is put to the test as she tries to uncover the answer to an ancient riddle while trying to outwit this powerful group that will stop at nothing to control the secret, and her.

Review here

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Title: Mercy
Series: Mercy
Author: Rebecca Lim
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Publication Date: 28 Oct 2010

Source: Bought

Mercy doesn't realise it yet, but as she journeys into the darkest places of the human soul, she discovers that she is one of the celestial host exiled with fallen angel, Lucifer. Now she must atone for taking his side. To find her own way back to heaven, Mercy must help a series of humans in crisis and keep the unwary from getting caught up in the games that angels play. Ultimately she must choose between her immortal companion, Lucifer, and a human boy who risks everything for her love.

OK I will admit to being totally seduced by the cover on this one, I didn't even read the synopsis before I started reading it, which might explain my confusion at the beginning of the book.

Written in first person narrative from Mercy's perspective occasionally addressing the reader directly as a form of making the reader part of the story. The story opens with the impression of Mercy having lost all her memories, of inhabiting different host bodies. I wondered if Mercy was a spirit or maybe had been reincarnated on numerous occasions. The action occurs in the present with no backstory to begin with. Parts of which I did find confusing, probably due to the fact that I did not read the synopsis. I did not fully understand how Mercy could know what she looks like if she shares other peoples bodies and has no memories of her own life.

The narrative combines two mysteries simultaneously - Who is Mercy? and Where is Lauren? A Gothic convention of nesting reinforced by some Gothic imagery and the repeated phrase of a 'familiar gnawing flesh' written in italic to draw the eye. I was wondering why this phrase was so important and if it was a pivotal part of the plot. The basic storyline was very captivating if a little hard to follow at times. It all really started to click together for me about a quarter of the way through the book.

The addition of Ryan added an extra effect on the plot and Mercy's characterisation, making her more real/rounded if you will. Ryan is an interesting character, his past character portrayed at odds with this present demeanour. The twin bond is touched upon within the narrative. The main impression I had of Ryan was that although he appeared tough on the outside, he was soft on the inside. Making me want to crack that hard external shell.

Lots of red herrings and misdirections are placed throughout. The allusion to the adage 'never judge a book by its cover' is powerfully intertwined within the plot. Beautiful things/people may hide an ugly/nasty/evil core. I have to say that I did guess the true 'villain' of this scenario.

The biblical references were interesting with a new slant on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Great Battle, adding richness to the narrative. The whole idea of Mercy being an Avenging Angel provided clarity to the plot. The parallels of having to do penance for past actions was combined with Mercy being moved from body to body. Only moving forward after she has rectified certain situations; saving that soul if you like. It reminded me of the TV show Quantum Leap (yes I know I am showing my age).

Overall I did enjoy the story when all the pieces finally fell into place. I am left with the impression that there is so much more to be revealed. Another addictive series in the making.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Trailer Tuesday: Angel Appreciation

Synopsis: From Amazon
Willow knows she s different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into peoples futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where she gets this power from... But Alex does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows Willows secret and is on a mission to stop her. The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous and irresistible. In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.

Review here

Synopsis: From Amazon
Riley Bloom died, aged twelve, in a car crash with her parents and her beloved dog Buttercup. Her sister Ever survived – but that’s another story. Riley must let go of Ever and all the things that tied her to life – and discover what she’s meant to be in the afterlife. Riley is a soul catcher. That means helping the unhappy lost souls who stick around in the human realm to move on – and find their own place, over the bridge, in the great hereafter. With her spirit guide, Bodhi, and Buttercup by her side, Riley embarks on an adventure that will take her around the world – sending ghosts back where they belong, until she can finally make it there herself.

Review here

Synopsis: From GoodReads
Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand-the mark of an angel.

But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel's malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows, and now, she is torn between one angel's sacrifice and another angel's vicious ambition.

Go on ask me how desperate I am to read this [ ; ) ]

Synopsis: From GoodReads
The first book in a dark, edgy new angel series about a girl who finds herself forced to choose sides in the battle between fallen angels, even if that means going against the boy she loves.

When Ellie Faneuil first sees Michael Chase she feels an instantaneous connection. But she does not realize how much they have in common, including the ability fly and to see what others are thinking - not to mention a taste for blood. Reveling in their new powers and their growing feelings for each other, Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way ... together.
But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict between fallen angels that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.

OK someone stop me. I NEED NEED NEED this book [ ; ) ]

Monday, 22 November 2010

MG Monday: Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel

Title: Radiance
Series: Riley Bloom
Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication Date: 4 Feb 2011

Source: UK Book Tours Thanks to Lynsey Newton for arranging these tours 
Synopsis: From Amazon
Riley Bloom died, aged twelve, in a car crash with her parents and her beloved dog Buttercup. Her sister Ever survived – but that’s another story. Riley must let go of Ever and all the things that tied her to life – and discover what she’s meant to be in the afterlife. Riley is a soul catcher. That means helping the unhappy lost souls who stick around in the human realm to move on – and find their own place, over the bridge, in the great hereafter. With her spirit guide, Bodhi, and Buttercup by her side, Riley embarks on an adventure that will take her around the world – sending ghosts back where they belong, until she can finally make it there herself.

I really like The Immortals series so was especially curious to see how the spin-off would work.

As you can probably guess it is written in first person narrative from Riley's perspective. We already know quite a bit about Riley's personality from The Immortals Series. However, her narrative voice is sometimes conflicting sounding far more grown-up than the twelve year old she is supposed to be. At times it was hard to reconcile the tone with the picture I had in my imagination.

Riley can be intensely annoying at times, the word brat definitely came to mind. Although Riley is very self-absorbed there is a sense of innocence and goodness about her despite her occasional 'bitchy' and judgemental attitude.

I really liked the storyline which was enthralling and intriguing. Absolutely suited to the Middle Grade category. The concepts were lovely to imagine; the afterlife, helping troubled souls cross over. In addition to the parallel presented with the place name and time (Here and Now) with the notion of living in the moment. The use of the name Bodhi and ensuing plot brought to mind images of Point Break and surfers.

On the whole, a quick and easy read with a nice storyline. I will certainly be reading the next book in the series.

If you have also taken part in the UK Book Tour for this book please link your review below : D

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In My Mailbox #27

Thank you to the wonderful Story Siren for hosting this weekly meme. It gives me a chance to thank everyone for sharing their books with me : D

Won from Samee at I Want to Read That

Donated to the library by the wonderful Lynsey Newton

For Review *happy dances* Publicatin date my birthday ;)

Gifted from the awesome Keris Stainton

From the library: how excited am I
Losing It Anthology by Keith Gray

Present to self for having a bad week - books make everything better

Bought for World Aids Day at Portrait of a Woman

For Review - big girl wants to do it but I need to give here review guidelines

An absolutely fantastic book week. Told you books make everything better.
What did you get??? *Scurries to look*

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Saturday Spotlight: Anti-Bullying Week Round-Up and THANKS

A huge thanks to everyone that supported Anti-Bullying Week.

If you missed any of the posts here is a recap:

Thank you also to Caroline for opening up within her post and sharing her experience with bullying
Review: My Name is Mina by David Almond

Susan K Mann
Follow Susan blog via email here
Review: The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory
Review: Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman

The Book Fairy's Haven
Bullying a Personal Perspective

The Overflowing Library
Bullying a Teachers Perspective

Plus the posts on this blog under the tag #ABW

I would also like to thank everyone that stopped by the blog this week and left such wonderful comments. THANK YOU

Thank you all for your support with Anti-Bullying Week - you guys are totally awesome. If you are not following their wonderful blogs you really need to do so NOW!!!!!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Review: When I was Joe by Keren David

Title: When I was Joe
Series: When I was Joe
Author: Keren David
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Publication Date: 7 Jan 2010

Source: Library

Synopsis: From Amazon
When Ty witnesses a stabbing, his own life is in danger from the criminals he’s named, and he and his mum have to go into police protection. Ty has a new name, a new look and a cool new image – life as Joe is good, especially when he gets talent spotted as a potential athletics star, special training from an attractive local celebrity and a lot of female attention. But his mum can’t cope with her new life, and the gangsters will stop at nothing to flush them from hiding. Joe’s cracking under extreme pressure, and then he meets a girl with dark secrets of her own. This wonderfully gripping and intelligent novel depicts Ty/Joe's confused sense of identity in a moving and funny story that teenage boys and girls will identify with - a remarkable debut from a great new writing talent.

Written in first person narrative from Ty/Joe's perspective. At fourteen, he has grown up in a low income, rough, multi-cultural part of London. The product of a teenage pregnancy with no contact from his father. He does have a terrific loving family especially in the form of his Grandmother and Aunts. He has a good relationship with his Mother although he has never tested the bonds before, they have always had to struggle for money. As a unit they have given him a firm moral conscience; making the main thread of the story even more astounding. I did find his mother rather immature/selfish having relied on other people to provide nurture for Ty, you can appreciate that she was just a child herself when she had him. He attends an alleged privileged all boys school where his background and lack of money make him a target for bullying.

The plot is unraveled in the form of recaps of the events leading up to the placement in witness protection. The depiction of Police treatment to witnesses was infuriating. You can understand to a certain degree how people who witness crimes do not speak out. As witnesses are treated as criminals themselves, it is easy to see why crimes go unreported/people look the other way all a reflection of today's society which really saddens me. The generally thinking that it was 'normal' to carry a knife was beyond belief.

Keren has a very compelling writing style, drawing the reader into the plot. It is very British in its references and language, vast cultural differences are depicted giving amazing insight into the difference a small distance can make to your surroundings and attitude. It confounds me that teenagers are drawn to using what is classified as 'gangsta' language in order to appear threatening, it does make me as a parent question the affect that television has on youths/society. The hysterical Simon Cowell reference lightens what could be an overwhelming dour mood.

The acerbic look at how conformity is encouraged and instilled via school uniform in Secondary schools, was so accurate it was scary. Working in a Secondary school I can completely picture the inner workings of peer pressure even down to the name calling. The first thing to be attacked is their sexuality, the term 'gay' is used to describe anything from sexuality to being geeky/dorky, it all comes under that one classification. Making it easy to understand Ty/Joe having his sexuality questioned by so-called friends. I couldn't really understand why Ty was friends with Arron other than for protection. Lots of reverse racism is interwoven into the narrative; in my opinion this is not taking seriously enough. In today's multi-cultural politically correct society remarks made to ethnic minorities are blown out of proportion but when the reverse occurs (ethnic minority to white British) nothing is done about it. This makes me want to stand on my soapbox and rant.

In the beginning Ty comes across as a bit of a 'sheep', he doesn't stand out, has only one 'friend' and stays out of the way. Peer pressure is a very powerful thing, wolves lead and sheep follow as a way to be popular. However, when he becomes Joe his whole persona alters, he is more outgoing and popular. Making me think that Ty/Joe thinks he can be a different person just because he has a different haircut and cool clothes.  Or whether a change of environment promotes a fresh start. Via the narrative you get the impression that Ty really likes being Joe. His talent for languages is under-appreciated by everyone. I almost felt as if Ty had a split personality. I completely adored the use of irony showing that Ty/Joe has to live a lie because he told the truth.

Although circumstances and peer pressure conspire against Joe. Escalating gang violence showing parallels of events with both Arron and Carl. Varying degrees of bullying/intimidation/conformity and social hierarchies are all shown in graphic detail. The ridiculous politically correct ways of dealing with bullying are depicted in all their absurdity. Without severe punishment for this kind of behaviour you can easily see how it escalates. Bullying is shown in many forms: social and economic standing/religion/sexuality/the type of clothes you wear/your parents not meeting conventional norms. It seems to me that if someone wants to bully another person they will find a way to do it no matter what it is over. Frighteningly it was shown how easily situations can be manipulated. You are left wondering if Ty/Joe/Jake is so mixed up as a product of his environment.

Some really tough subjects are examined within the narrative: self harm/suicide/gangs/drugs/sexuality/teen pregnancy. Also the stress that being bullied has on people.

A really powerful and compelling story. A quite brutal description of both sides of bullying and its consequences.

Guest Post: Bullying: A Teachers Perspective by Kirsty at The Overflowing Library

One of the things that can make or break a child's experience at school, whether they are successful and achieve within their potential, is if they feel safe happy and secure if their environment. Sadly bullying can be one of those things that mean a young adult feels threatened and insecure in their surroundings. Having worked in a variety of school I'm glad to say all of them recognise this is an area that needs addressing and I have seen a variety of ways it has been dealt with (some more successfully than others). In this post I am going to tell you how the school I currently work in deals with bullying with a notable level of success.
To start with I am lucky I work in a good school. Most of the kids want to be there and there aren't any major problems with behaviour or discipline (they aren't always angels either). Over the past few years we have gained a reputation for being a school that does not tolerate bullying and as a consequence we often gain quite a few children over the year who have struggled at other schools.
I think this is down to two reasons:

Firstly we had a lovely head teacher, whom as a younger man had experienced bullying, as a consequence had not time for it himself, even going to the point of never shouting at the kids himself. I think this set the tone of our school which had continued since he left a few years back.

Secondly the anti bullying policy that is in place works well. Obviously hard core cases are dealt with Heads of House and not tolerated in any way shape or form. These are few and far between and not the type of bullying problem most children encounter at some point in their life. For the day to day minor (but equally traumatic) problems a peer support system has been put in place in school called Friendly Faces. It has been in place for about 7 years now and is award winningly successful in keeping our school a bullying free environment.
Friendly faces is run by a group of Year 11 coordinators. Their job is to manage the day to day running of the scheme. To be a coordinator they have to have served as a Friendly Face for a year in Year 10 and apply and interview for the position. Under them there are around 40 Friendly Face pupils who are all Year 10. They man the Friendly Face base and are on duty once a fortnight at either break or lunch and are available for other pupils to drop in (or make appointments) to discuss problems including, but not limited to, bullying. If a problem is reported to them, they often get both parties together and try to resolve the issues that exist. Most of the time it works and the problem is dealt with. On occasions when it isn't they pass the problem on to a member of staff who will help out. To become a Friendly Face they have to apply, then go through a day of training run by the coordinators. If they impress the coordinators they are invited to be a Friendly Face. The positions are very sought after within the school with a variety of pupils applying (not just the geeky ones) and pupils can lose their positions if they abuse it. Friendly Faces keep records of all the problem they deal with and are expected to respect confidentiality of all those involved.

Another thing that Friendly Faces also do is they help with the transition of pupils from primary to secondary school. This can be a concern for pupils and parent's alike, especially as we have tiny feeder schools and the change can be unnerving. To help with this a Friendly Face Roadshow goes out to visit each of the primary schools in the June before they are due to arrive and they talk and play games with the year 6 pupils to help ease any worries they might have about the move to High School. They produce a pack of useful information to take away and are around on the following induction days when the year 6 pupils first come to high school.

All in all it is a system that I would high recommend. It works well and as I said earlier is award winning. For the past 5 years the Friendly Face team have won the Princess Diana Award, and 2 years ago they won the prestigious Philip Lawrence Award for their work. I think it is effective as it is primarily based on a peer support network and breeds a ethos of zero tolerance amongst the student body and have proved to be the main reason why pupils flock to our school and feel safe and secure in their environment.

Thank you for that insight into the Bullying Policy implemented at your school. It is lovely to see a school where the pupils take ownership of the anti-bullying policy so well. Awards are well deserved. Well Done.

Guest Post: Bullying a Personal Perspective by Tammy from A Book Fairys Haven

Voiceless and Silent
It's a hot, humid and uncomfortably sticky night here in Cape Town. Rather appropriate weather considering the subject I'm writing about is in essence a sticky and uncomfortable subject all on its own.

When I first heard that the lovely Emma from Asamum was going to be hosting the Anti-bullying week campaign on her blog, my first thought was that I needed to write a post.

I hesitated about doing a review because I realised that while I've read a few books which cast the stereotypical mean girl in good number of novels, I haven't actively read books that have specifically dealt with this rather painful topic.

When Emma made a suggestion about doing a post from a personal perspective, I was suddenly transported back to my middle grade years where I served as the resident magnet for bullies. I'm not quite sure what it was about me, but somehow, what was supposed to be wonderful years during my junior years, became years that, to this day, I simply prefer blocking out of my system.

I also realised that the reason I don't tackle too many books on this subject is because out of those books that I have read, every harsh word, every cruel sneer and every taunt I've had to endure, hits far too close to home for comfort. It's hard reading about the subject when the voices of the past still echo through one's very soul.

I see and experience it in the voices of these kids in each of the books that I have attempted to read in the past and have found myself drowning in those feelings of desperate helplessness all over again.

My story isn't a unique one and I'm pretty sure that there are many who have stories that are far worse than mine, but I thought I'd put my voice out there and tell everyone who has gone through this or is currently going through bullying in any form whatsoever, that you don't have to continue living in silence.

I'm also telling you this so that you don't make the same mistakes like I did when I decided it would be better to keep quiet and allow the voices of the bullies to snuff out whatever light I had within me.

When I was young, I was the fat, awkward kid who no one wanted to be friends with. Right from the start, I was constantly teased and tormented by others around me. I never knew what it was that I had done to make them choose me to be their target, but all I remember is how desperately I wanted them to like me and be my friend.

Naturally, because I was this young and didn't understand that a bully won't stop being a bully even if you're nice to them, I set out to do everything I could to get them to like me. Much to my shame, I only ended up compromising my integrity and throwing away my dignity in the process.

I started making up lies about fabulous things that I didn't own and made promises to those who bullied me just so that I could make them like me.

I gave away my lunch goodies and for the sake of fitting in, pretended to like everything that they did all because I so desperately wanted to make it stop and to make them become friends with me. I brought wonderful things from home and gave it to the bullies because all I wanted to fit in.

I was tired of being the awkward, ugly kid. I was even more tired of feeling even uglier than I already did when I was not being surrounded by them.

I know.

Pathetic right?

I suspect most victims of bullies try to get the bullies to like them in one form or another - we have this sense that we need their approval to exist in the world. In the process, we give away so much of ourselves that inadvertently, we don't just let them break us down, but we allow them to kill that inner light.

And essentially, that's what I did.

I let them snuff out my light without a thought.

What made things worse is that for a 11 year old kid, I had enormous breasts. I was an early developer - and of course, being already overweight, the kids around me didn't need a second invitation to add that to the list of their already mocking and jeering taunts.

I still cringe when I think about it.

Trust me when I say that no 11-year old girl wants to be labelled anything along the lines of watermelons and milk jugs.

Every. Single. Day.

And of course, being the bullies they were, once they latched onto the one thing I hated most about myself, they carried down that path and went on to find other things about me that they could torment me about.

My hair was pulled, I was called ugly, was pushed around at times and was relegated to being the person who people only went to because they wanted something.

Yet, I kept quiet about it. Which I can honestly tell you was the worst mistake I could have possibly made. At that point, I was so systematically torn down, that I believed that I deserved to be treated that way. My spirit was broken, and I couldn't do anything about it until I eventually escaped and moved onto high school.

I realised, when I gained more understanding, that by remaining voiceless, I let those bullies win. I may have learnt all this by hindsight, but you don't have to. If you're being bullied, it's time you opened your mouth to SPEAK LOUDLY.

Courage is having the ability to do something even in the midst of your fear - and by taking that one step and just talking, you've just taken your first step to winning that battle.

My experience with being bullied has taught me that it's not about what people do to you physically, but what they do to your spirit.

I had to endure years of systematic taunts that changed me for the worse. It took a good number of years, a breast reduction and a newly formed friendship with a friend who would only borrowed to me for a short time in order for me to grow into a new skin.

Don't let what I allowed to happen to me, to happen to you too. Speak up and speak loudly against it and if ever you see someone being bullied, don't just stand by and watch, help that person to find his/her voice again.

On a last note, I've decided that I'm going to tackle Some Girls Are. I've put off reading that one for a long time, but I think that it's time to overcome those voices of the past, don't you?

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Tammy for sharing something so personal with us. I am sure a lot of people will be able to relate to it.
I sincerely hope that this campaign will help combat the increasing levels of bullying.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Hodder Childrens Books
Publication Date: 20 Mar 2008

Source: Own

Synopsis: From Amazon
From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops - a major infraction in high-school society - so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can't get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either - there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won't go away...

Phew, this was a really hard read for me. So emotional on a multitude of levels, taking into account the subject matter I found this particular scenario totally scary as I have 3 daughters and the oldest is only a few years younger than Melinda in this book.

Written in first person narrative from Melinda's point of view. The reader is dropped into the middle of something but is not made aware of exactly what has happened until later in the story. From the beginning we establish that Melinda is isolated due to an event that has occurred within the last few months.

I have to say I did not find Melinda particularly like-able at the beginning, before the story unfolded, due to her complete lack of enthusiasm for anything, I found her hard to relate to, which I guess is part of the point. The events leading up to this point and her current emotional state are revealed slowly..

The omnipresent cliques are portrayed in unnerving accuracy. These stereotypes dominate events throughout life not just in school. We are shown through the narrative that people will always believe what they want to, not necessarily the truth. There are always two sides to a story although it is rarely acknowledged. People always side with the popular clique and don't bother asking questions that would upset the status quo.

Plot teasers are placed throughout the narrative making the reader imagine the worst case scenario. I found the reference to book banning totally ironic in light of recent events.

The imagery was very powerful making the tension palpable from between the lines. The narrative contained terrific use of metaphor to convey the isolation and desolation that Melinda felt.

I was left speechless at the relationship that Melinda had with her parents. I just could not relate to that at all. Leaving her to fend for herself most of the time, so caught up in their own lives/work to fully understand their own child. This part was very difficult for me and made me self-analyze my relationship with my children. I could not understand how they did not know something was the matter and deal with it. Especially when it came to the falling grades and lack of enthusiasm, I would like to think I would pick up that there was a deeper problem if it was one of my children. It made me feel as if they did not really care for her at all.

When Melinda eventually admits the true problem, she is shunned at first. Adding to her feeling of anguish. It is only following another frightening event that the truth is revealed; lifting the burden from Melinda. I would have liked to have seen how the truth was dealt with; the reactions of her family and friends etc.

The message behind this story is quite simple: SPEAK out. If nothing is ever said about being bullying and worse then how are we as a population supposed to stop it. You have to think, would you want other people to suffer the same as you have. SPEAK!!!!!!

Don't forget to check out Fluttering Butterflies giveaway to win a copy of Speak for yourself.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

USA - It Gets Better Project

If you have read and reviewed a LGBT book, please leave the link here:

Anti-Bullying Week Random Discussion/Rant

This is probably going to be a rather big rant but I wanted to get it off my chest, so to speak, as I can feel it eating away at me, making my blood boil.

For those that follow me on twitter, you will have seen me become quite incensed last Tuesday 9th November. Why was this you ask yourself. I shall get on my soapbox and tell you.

Some bright, obviously of superior intelligence, person decided that 9th November should be decreed as, wait for it, Slap a Ginger person day.

You may well gasp in shock.

One of my lovely Assistant Librarians has beautiful bright red hair. His day was spent being slapped by all and sundry. I even got asked by 2 people if they could slap him. My reaction: to have a complete meltdown, screaming about bullying and discrimination to people with different colour hair. While banning the offending 2 pupils from the library.

There are a number of famous people with 'ginger' hair. Would they have been slapped in the same way as these poor pupils were???

Thinking this would be the end to the idiocy. What do you think???

Upon arriving at the library Wednesday 10th November, I was informed that via Facebook and other social networking sites, the problem had increased.

10th - Beat Up a Blond Day
11th - Bash a Brunette Day
12th - Rough up a Red Head Day

This was immediately reported to the Head Teachers. But someone/anyone please please please tell me what the world is coming to that teens are encouraged to participate in these idiotic schemes.

Why hasn't facebook done anything to prevent this kind of thing from occurring??

Why is this considered acceptable behaviour??

Surely, it cannot just be due to my age that I question this type of mentality.

What do you think??

How can we work together to stop things like this happening in the future???
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs all images form the Very Own World kit by Irene Alexeeva