Monthly Archives: October 2012

Ok Harry Potter fans…

If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll know that the famous J. K Rowling has released her first non-wizard ‘grown up’ book – The Casual Vacancy.  Being the massive HP fan that I am, I jumped right on board and read it.  So, dear students, I thought I’d review it for you. But be warned, this is not a book for everyone.

The small English town of Pagford is rocked when local Parish Councillor Barry Fairweather dies quite suddenly of an aneurysm.  His place on the Parish Council is immediately up for grabs, and all of a sudden tensions develop and alliances are made when several members of the town decide to run in the election. However, like most small towns, there are a whole bunch of secrets, lies, affairs and tensions that are begging to be uncovered as families, friends and colleagues go to war with each other to get what they want.

In some respects, this book feels very much like a gentle BBC drama in terms of location and character. There are several players rather than one main character and while it initially feels like the book jumps around from person to person a lot, the connections between the characters soon become apparent and the story tightens as it goes. Even though the backdrop to the story is a lovely English village with cobbled streets and ancient ruins, the narrative itself is far from idyllic. The characters in this novel are not really likable at all; some the reader might grow to like, but I found myself caring about very few of them. They were a nasty neurotic bunch – I had heard that there were a few deaths in the novel and I found myself spending quite of lot of time deciding which characters I’d like Rowling to kill off at the end.

If you’ve read any of the reviews of The Casual Vacancy, you’ll know that it’s become rather famous (or infamous!) for its content – there’s lots of hardcore swearing, sex scenes, scenes of domestic violence and self-harm.  It almost feels that after seven books of characters that are good and triumphant and funny, Rowling has just decided to let it all out.  And let it out she does – this is not a happy book by any means. There are elements of black comedy to it, but for the most part, I just felt kind of sad at the end. I liked it, but it didn’t make me feel good.

So this book comes with a warning – it is recommended for more senior students. If you’d like to borrow it and have a read, you’re welcome, but you might want to have a chat to one of the librarians first before you borrow it out!!

Happy Reading! Ms White 🙂 

 

 

Inky Award Winners

On Wednesday, Mrs Shortal and I took some very enthusiastic Year 7 girls to Inky Fest, where the winners of the Inky Awards were announced. Drumroll please…

 

 

The general consensus was that both books very much deserved to win their respective categories; everyone was pretty happy with the result! To read a review of The Fault In Our Stars, click here. I’ll be reading Shift next and posting a review very soon!

If you’d like to look into being on the teen judging panel for 2013, or would just like to read more reviews and get involved in some book discussion, don’t forget to check out the Inside A Dog website.

Book Review: The Boy in the Olive Grove

I have to admit; when I picked up Fleur Beale’s ‘The Boy in the Olive Grove’ I was actually really turned off by the cover. Now, I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but I very nearly did! Fortunately, I turned it over and read the blurb and was intrigued enough to take it home with me over the holidays.

The story opens with Bess, who for all intents and purposes is a model student, voluntarily leaving her prestigious boarding school to complete her final year at the local high school in her home town.  We soon discover that Bess’ departure is a way of avoiding expulsion from school for an incident which has left her reeling. Bess has been suffering from horrific images of past lives, which seem to come upon her at the most inconvenient of times.

Back home, living a strained existence with her mother and forced to save her father’s furniture business, Bess spends her summer holiday trying to discover her place in the world and the identity of the mysterious boy in the olive grove of her visions.

I initially thought this book was a fantasy novel, but it doesn’t really feel like one. Yes, there are mysterious visions involved, but they are completely realistically handled. In fact, if you do some reading, the whole idea of past lives and soul connections is a concept that is very real to many people. I guess you could say that this novel has more of a magical realism feel to it.

I really enjoyed this book. I found Bess to be a feisty and interesting heroine, who is less than perfect.  The women in Bess’ life – her psychotic mother and her earth-mother step mother Iris – were an interesting contrast. Both women play a major part in her life, both are powerful women, and both have flaws of their own. I also really enjoyed the way Ms Beale managed to shift the dynamics of the family relationships, it was very true to life.

For students who prefer reading more realistic novels about human relationships, I highly recommend ‘The Boy in the Olive Grove’.  It is suitable for all Senior School students.

Exciting times ahead!

Well, I’m back from a very exciting (and wet) rafting camp with the Year Eight girls and I’m ready to face the final term of the year. Term Four is always crazy – VCE girls are heading into final exams which are always fun and games! This term, we’ve got a few changes happening in the Nicholas Library, so when you come back to school in 2013, things will look very different indeed!

In celebration of change and of Spring in general, I’ve revamped the colour scheme on our blog – hope you like it! I think it’s much fresher and cleaner than before! Stay tuned this term for more book and film reviews, as well as news about new releases!

We’re on the homeward stretch of 2012 girls – enjoy the term!