Nineteen Eighty-Four is the amazing story of a dystopian society that formed after a supposed Atomic bomb explosion sometime during the Second World WNineteen Eighty-Four is the amazing story of a dystopian society that formed after a supposed Atomic bomb explosion sometime during the Second World War. Orwell managed to create a world so controlled by the government, ruled by Big Brother, that anything is accepted by the public without hesitation. All activity (and thoughts!) are monitored and rebels not so quietly removed.
Orwell made his characters entirely believable and placed them in a setting so well described that it seemed that anything was possible, which was very useful when it seemed that anything could happen! I am impressed with his imagination, that he was able to create a world which contains many similar technological aspects to our’s now way back when in 1949. It seems like such a shame that he never really saw the appreciation this book got!
I particularly liked Orwell’s manipulation of the common (English) language and its transformation into newspeak. I thought this was amazingly well created and it really made the transition of society from Democratic/Capitalist to all encompassing, Totalitarian, governmental structure tangible. Of all the little details Orwell managed to incorporate into the book, this one earned a special mention. It was also a great (a well used tool) to connect the slow realization of Winston to the general society.
It is amazing to think that the people in the society had been so conditioned that Winston even had a job like that! He was essentially rewriting history and no one seemed to notice. It is really scary to think that this could have maybe been one of our presents/Orwell’s future. While it is certainly extreme, you can definitely see how certain elements could have actually happened quite easily, particularly from branching off at such a tumulus time (during the Second World War).
Wicked Lovely is one of the best faerie related books I’ve ever read. Marr masterfully combines elements of the classic faerie image, promiscious partWicked Lovely is one of the best faerie related books I’ve ever read. Marr masterfully combines elements of the classic faerie image, promiscious partiers who remain entirely classy, with modern funk, piercings, tattoos and relationships that the centuries old faeries can never truly understand. I like that we get presented with a cast of less than ordinary characters. I loved Aislinn, who was allowed to really come into her own. I appreciated the way that she never handed over control, no matter what.
I loved and hated Keenan in equal parts for most of the book. While you must lean towards dislike, because of his attitude towards everyone that is not him, I felt like Marr was able to give him a real personality behind his bad boy king persona. My absolute favorite character (and one I would like to be friends with!) though, was Seth. I would say that ‘he is everything you want in a …” but he can’t really be characterised as anything, he doesn’t fit any mould, hence the “…”. He is just Seth. Equal parts sweet and bad ass, Seth was what many boys in young adult fiction wish to be, an actual man! *gasp*
I can’t really say much about the plot without giving anything away, which is making this quite tricky! All I will say is that Marr has the skills necessary to pull off a story that, written any other way, could have easily gone horribly awry. Instead we end up with a fantastic plot that is both magically and entirely down to earth. There is enough humanity scattered through out the novel so that we are never allowed to get overly carried away into the faerie magic of the battle between the Winter Queen and Summer Queen and yet enough magic to take us out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary!
All in all an amazing read, one I would highly recommend to anyone the least bit interested in faerie folk lore and young adult books.
I’m not sure what I was expecting as I didn’t read the back before buying it (I liked the cover), but it definitely wasn’t what I got and that is notI’m not sure what I was expecting as I didn’t read the back before buying it (I liked the cover), but it definitely wasn’t what I got and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The Last Night is a well written tale of how a marriage changes over the years, how old passions and new can affect how a couple sees each other, and how in the end, most people stay with the comfort they have always known. I enjoyed the story overall, even if it was a bit more flamboyantly sexual than my usual reads. Montero uses boleros throughout the story to link characters and scenes, over time and across peoples interactions, even as the chapter titles, which I thought was a great idea, maintaining the Latin American vibe even though very little of the story takes place there. Overall, I did enjoy the book. It was short (115 pages) and interesting, with a quickly progressing story. I did think that the ending was a bit flat after the excitement of the affairs but it really was the only way for the story to end.
While I’m not sure if it’s everyone’s style I would recommend it to anyone interested in Latin American literature or if you are looking for something new to try, it is a good (if slightly odd) place to start.
There is something about context that my students seem to find trouble with. They get the basics: a person was born, they died, this is what they did,There is something about context that my students seem to find trouble with. They get the basics: a person was born, they died, this is what they did, and so on, but never really are able to grasp that an author from a long time ago, was once a person, with a life, with a history. They don’t have quiet so much difficulty with more recent authors, but Shakespeare was proving a rather large problem for them!
The internet, and the wonderful community of teachers and writers that share their ideas, provided me with several suggestions but I chose this middle grade novel. Shakespeare’s Secret stood out as a wonderfully casual, if somewhat sneaky, way to provide a bit of context to their series of short story plays.
While this novel does not specifically or directly talk about Shakespeare as a person instead of a writer, except for one fabulous bit discussing whether or not he stole Edward de Vere’s plays, it really engaged my students in a fun mystery about a middle school student named after a Shakespearian character (Hero from Much Ado About Nothing). Intertwined in the story are enough Shakespeare references to really make my students wonder about this Shakespeare guy and after reading this novel, they were able to do independent internet research and fill out their mental picture of the man behind the plays.
We were also able to use the detailed authors note written by Elise Broach to discuss the differences between fact and fiction, history and speculation. Students were able to build on this to choose one aspect of Shakespeare’s supposedly ‘factual’ life, and create a Shakespeare short story of their own, ticking every box of the well rounded context unit plan.
By the end of our Shakespeare unit several of my students were professing their love for the Bard, which I’ve never had happen before! I think starting off the unit with something unexpected really helped to capture the students imaginations. I highly recommend using this novel as a ‘hook’ to get students interested in reading Shakespeare as well as to encourage wide independent reading.