Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Well, what do you know? - A book review!

Some of you may recall that I received Specials by Scott Westerfeld for my birthday. Here's the pic to prove it:


Well, I've read it, and I'm sure that you're dying to know what I thought of it!

Firstly, you should know that Specials is the third book of a trilogy. The first is Uglies (you can read my thoughts here) and the second is Pretties (review here).

As Specials opens, we find out that Tally has been subjected to an operation without her consent to turn her into an agent of 'Special Circumstances', the military officers of her city. Gone is her pretty face and body, having been replaced with cruel, sharp features and weapon-like physiology.

Tally's mind has been tampered with too; her senses have been sharpened and she sees everything with absolute clarity. Now she realises that 'specials' like her are the only thing standing between her city and anarchy. The citizens need her and her fellow 'Cutters' to keep them safe, secure, and under control. In effect, Tally has become everything that she used to fight against.

I highly recommend this series to teens, both boys and girls, from ages 10 - 15, depending on maturity. Westerfeld has managed to address tricky themes while maintaining an authentic teenage viewpoint, telling the stories through Tally's 16-year-old eyes.

For me, I enjoyed the books, but liked the first one (Uglies) best, and each sequel a little bit less. I'm not sure that Westerfeld really had much more to say after Uglies, in terms of the issues that he was exploring. While the plot resolved nicely, I would have appreciated a deeper look at the issues of individuality, freedom of thought, and the balance of individual freedoms with the good of the whole that he introduced.

I think these books are a good conversation starter; a beginning point. I hope that my kids will read and enjoy them. I think that they could be used successfully in the classroom, and that they'd be an excellent addition to a school or class library.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Making life better

I love a bit of personal development, self-help, whatever-you-want-to-call-it. I'm always looking for ways to make my life more meaningful. Underneath my random exterior beats the heart of a deep thinker!

Sarah Wilson writes for one of the Sunday papers, and blogs too. The purpose of her column, and blog, is to document her journey to make life "better, sweeter, bigger, more meaningful, nicer, smarter, heartier". Sounds good to me.

I love this post, in which Sarah tries out the Pomodoro technique. Never heard of it? Well then, click on the link and find out what it is!

(Picture from Sarah's post on the Pomodoro technique.)

Sally McGraw's already pretty blog is awesome because Sally combines fabulous fashion with thought-provoking articles about body image, not to mention fantastic "how to" articles for those of us that love fashion in theory, but struggle with it in practice!

Check out this post, in which she challenges the idea that you can't dress a certain way because you have the wrong body shape, no money to shop for clothes, or are simply too scared to dress the way you really want to! Awesome!

And I love Sally's "daily outfit" pics. Here's one:


While we're on the subject, Julie Parker's blog Beautiful You is a wonderful source of inspiration for all things positive to do with self-esteem and body image.

In this post, Julie explains that she is giving up gossip as part of the inner mean girl cleanse!



At the moment, I'm reading a book called The Element, which is about finding that place where your passions and your abilities meet to create your optimal zone for purpose and enjoyment in life. I've been reading it in very small increments, due to amount of uni-related reading that I've been ploughing through, but I'll be sure to let you know what I've learnt from it when I've finished.

In the mean time, may you enjoy and appreciate all the great moments in your life. And me, mine.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feel Good Friday - The Shopping Edition

Yes folks, it's upon us again - Friday (hooray!).

This week it was my birthday, and my mum and dad were kind enough to give me a generous gift of some money to buy myself something nice.

I went shopping on Wednesday, and this is what I got:

One lovely new top for spring. The photo doesn't quite capture the colour, which is a vibrant fuchsia.

 One delightful new skirt for spring.


I was going to add a photo showing you how lovely the skirt and top look together, but Blogger is being a bit difficult about uploading photos, so you'll just have to imagine it :)

Now it's your turn.


1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.

2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to my blog if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)

3. Use the Linky below to link your post to mine so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.

4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today I Heart...Cute Crafts

In reality, I'm a thinker rather than a doer. And I'm more of a "big picture" girl than one who fusses over details. So I'm not really a natural for pretty, cute crafts. But I love them!

In my imagination, I can whip up the sweetest cupcakes and the cleverest crafts and really enjoy doing it. In reality, I hate doing fiddly things and would not last more than half an hour on a craft project at any one time.

So when I feel the crafty urge, I head on over to oh my! handmade goodness for a fix.

Check out this amazing rainbow birthday cake made for a Wizard of Oz birthday party:



Article here.

Or the gorgeous necklace (15) featured in this post of Mother's day gift ideas:


There are sometimes even giveaways to enter, like this one to win notecards with matching lined envelopes - to die for!



If I ever REALLY  had the urge to make something, I could follow this helpful tutorial...


for making the cutest personalised notepads:


So, isn't it wonderful that I can experience craftiness vicariously via oh my! handmade goodness? Yes it is.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's my birthday!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to me!

Is 39 too old to feel excited and happy on your birthday? Nah!

I have a beautiful new piece of jewellery...


Sorry, it's so hard to take a photo of your own ear!

I'm wearing a new top and a new scarf...

 

I have a new book to read...



And some more credit for iTunes...



So, life is good!

Hope you're having a great day too :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The unexpected benefits of studying

Over the past week I've been working feverishly on my latest uni assignment, writing a paper arguing the case for the inclusion of contemporary realistic fiction in school library collections.

An unexpected side benefit has been the fact that I have read four different children's/young adult novels to prepare my case.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham is a devastatingly beautiful book. I cried rivers of tears reading it.

Tessa is 16 years old and dying. Once she knows that she has no more treatment options, she writes a list of ten things that she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex.

I give this book ***** five stars. It's beautifully written, emotionally affecting, and provides the reader with lots of opportunities to reflect on life and death.

Recommended for older teens and adults.






Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught is the story of a fat girl whose boyfriend decides to have gastric bypass surgery in an effort to lose weight.

I give **** four stars to this story, told via Jamie's school newspaper column, of how a fat girl comes to terms with her place within a world where she is defined by her weight.

Recommended for teens.








I recommend Grace by Morris Gleitzman for pre-teens and younger teens.

**** four stars to this delightful read.

Grace and her family are happy members of a strict, fundamentalist Christian church, until her father is expelled for being too free-thinking.

A great novel for exploring ideas of faith, honesty and family.








Muffin top by Andrew Daddo is a wonderful book for children and pre-teens. **** four stars!

Ashton's mum writes for a newspaper, and has been given the opportunity to have a makeover and write a story about it. The problem for Ashton is, the whole family must get involved, having before and after photos taken at a professional photographer's studio, and spending a week at a health farm.

A great story for thinking about body image and family issues, and would make a great read-aloud.


So how's that for a silver lining? Alls well that ends well, and all that!

I hope you've been enjoying your reading too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Feel Good Friday - Spring Fling!


Spring is coming!

We're having typical August weather at my place - the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

Yesterday it got up to about 23 degrees (73.4F), and it's supposed to be 20 degrees (68F) tomorrow according to my iPhone :)

The smell of Wattle is the smell of early spring to me. The Wattle has been blooming for a while, but it's not until the August winds start blowing that you can smell it in the air.

Soon the Freesias will be blooming with their heady, sweet scent.


Then there will be Jasmine everywhere.


Finally, I'll know that Christmas is nearly here when I can smell Gardenias.


Now it's your turn.

1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.


2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to my blog if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)

3. Use the Linky below to link your post to mine so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.

4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just for the record...

Hahaha...

Remember the post about it nearly being my birthday? Well, my birthday is NEXT Monday! Thankyou so much Brandy and Shannon for the birthday wishes, I was forgetting that even though it was Tuesday by the time I posted, it was still Monday for you, so there was a bit of confusion!

You can all wish me a Happy Birthday again next week LOL

I was supposed to get myself an early birthday present today, but it didn't quite work out. I'll be getting it on Monday instead...something that I've been wanting for a while...what will it be?!? I'll post pictures!

Don't forget I'll be having Feel Good Friday again this week - it will be Thursday where you are Brandy and Shannon LOL 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's nearly my Birthday!

Just for your information...

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY ON MONDAY!!!

There will be no fancy birthday giveaways or such because I also have my next uni assignment due on Monday :(

I'm treating myself to an early birthday present tomorrow...something I've been wanting for a while...pictures tomorrow...wonder what it will be?!?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Feel Good Friday - A Confession and a Funny Picture

I've got a confession to make - I'm finding it hard to feel good this Friday.

I'm super busy with assignments for uni, and feeling stressed, and everything just feels too hard today.

In case you're feeling like me, here's a piece of artwork that had me in stitches.

OF COURSE THEY'RE SCISSORS!


So, now that you've had a laugh, why don't you join in the Feel Good Friday fun?

1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.


2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to my blog if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)

3. Use the Linky below to link your post to mine so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.

4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

There's a Party Going On...

Just a reminder everyone... Feel Good Friday will be back tomorrow!

What is it? Why, it's only the newest blog event in town!

How does it work? Here are the instructions:

1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.

2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to my blog if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)

3. Use the Linky on my Feel Good Friday post to link your post to mine so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.

4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!
 
Got that? So come back tomorrow (or when it's Friday at your place), and we'll get this party started!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why I must win a tote from my friend Brandy.

Guess what? My friend Brandy, over at You Don't Know, makes the most super-cute tote bags. Check these out - adorable huh?

{Image from here}

And do you know what's even better? You can win one! Just head here and leave Brandy a comment, and you might be the lucky winner. Or don't, because actually I want to be the winner!

Brandy says that she's going to post a tutorial on how to make them, so we can all do our own, but I don't want to have to make my own, I want her to do it for me!

So here's my plea...

Currently I use this very uninspiring, plain tote when I'm out and about. Right now, it's packed up with teaching materials for my maths lessons this afternoon.

Brandy could make me one with a cute teacher-ish theme...

But I also use it to carry my towel and goggles in when I go swimming at the local public pool, so maybe I need a cute bathing beauty theme... Or you know, I like flowers and stuff :)



"Your kids!" I hear you cry. "The tote is supposed to be for one of your kids!"

Well, yes, I guess Alana would like to upgrade from the Supre bag that she uses now. And Josh could use a bag other than the green bag from the supermarket.

Anyway, head on over and check out Brandy's totes. Enter to win one, or just tell her that you think I should win OK?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Blog Up and Running!

My new blog: A work in progress... dedicated to my professional development as a librarian, is up and running!

Please head over and check it out, even if librarianship isn't really your thing! I'd love it if you left me an encouraging comment, even if you never plan to visit the blog again :)

And if librarianship IS your thing, then - what are you waiting for? - head straight over and become a follower!

I'll still be posting regularly here at a reader's random ramblings..., so you don't need to worry about missing me :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feel Good Friday

To celebrate my decision to create a new blog for my professional development (see this post), I've decided to create my very own weekly blog event!

Yay! (Cue the fireworks!)



I'm calling it "Feel Good Friday", and I'm inviting everyone to join in.

The instructions are very simple:

1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.
2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to this post if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)
3. Use the Linky below to link your post to this one so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.
4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!

So here's my post:

Have you ever felt that the world is a harsh and unforgiving place? That life is hard, and you're not sure if the pain is worth it? (Stick with me guys, the Feel Good bit is coming right up!)

Then you need to find something that gives you hope.

Gives Me Hope http://twitter.com/GivesMeHope is "Chicken Soup for the Soul - Twitter style". Full of personal stories about what gives people hope, this initiative is uplifting in the extreme. The stories often start out sad, but they always include a ray of light - hope.

Gives Me Hope is the ultimate antidote to depression. Check out this story as an example:

"Today my school had a fire drill.


I was standing outside with one of the most popular football players, when a Down Syndrome girl came up to him and wanted to hold his hand b/c she was scared.


Happily, he held her hand in front of all his friends back to class.


His soft side in front of his boys GMH (Gives Me Hope)"


May 16, 2010 12:00 PM by Rachel, Griffith IN - Random acts of kindness

You can read more at http://www.givesmehope.com/

Now don't think that just because my post is kind of serious, that yours has to be too. Not at all. I accept all kinds of feel-good content - from a funny picture of your kid, to a link to something on YouTube that cracks you up, to a funny story you heard. Anything at all that makes you Feel Good!

Now get cracking on your post and come back and link up!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Embrace the Randomness!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...

Very observant followers may notice that a couple of things are missing from my sidebar.

Here's what's happening: I got sick of feeling torn about this blog; sick of feeling guilty posting pictures of my puppy and my kids and not posting enough "serious stuff" about librarianship. Sick of feeling guilty about boring my followers by posting too much "serious stuff" about librarianship. Aaaaargh!

I  have stumbled upon what I think is the perfect solution - have two blogs! (Of course!)

So followers of a reader's random ramblings... who like to see my puppy and my kids - rejoice! This blog will be my observations on life, posts about things and people that I love, and posts about the books that I'm reading. I'm going to embrace the randomness! I may even unleash more randomness! Yay!

And...drumroll please...my new blog A work in progress... is COMING SOON!!!

My new blog is where I will focus on my professional development as a librarian, so if that's your thing, stay tuned! When the first post is up I'll make sure that I let everyone know.

So what do you think? Are you up for a random ride? Or will you be jumping from the random train and boarding the bus to the library? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This morning started out grey and rainy, but when the sun came out I decided to pounce on the opportunity to take Lucy for a walk.


(It's really hard to walk a dog and take a cute photo of her at the same time!)

While I was out and about, I thought I'd try to get a nice photo of a wattle in bloom since I was waxing lyrical about wattles the other day.



Doesn't it look lovely and cheerful and spring-ish?

I'm really snowed under with work for uni at the moment and my recreational reading is being limited to snatched moments here and there. I'm working on The Element by Ken Robinson, the Sunday papers, and the ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) magazine inCite.

One of my subjects for uni is about Literature in Education, so if you know anything at all about recent childrens/young adult fiction and what value it has for students, be sure to drop me a line...

The other subject is Cataloguing, so again, if that's your area of expertise I'd love to know :) 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy Sunday

We're having glorious weather at my place today! The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the wind is blowing! Perfect. Now I know that the last bit about the wind might not seem perfect to you, but to me the combination of blue sky, sunshine and windy weather signals loud and clear that SPRING IS COMING! Our wattle tree has started to bloom, and I'm feeling that inner optimism that comes from a change of season.

Alana went to a birthday party last night that had an "Alice in Wonderland/movies that Tim Burton directed" theme.


Yep, I'm a pretty evil mother for posting a picture of her butt on my blog!

You can guess that she decided to go as the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The only problem was that we didn't have a lot of notice about the theme, and it took Alana a while to decide what costume she'd like. The upshot of this was that at 3pm (with the party to start at 6pm) my music students arrived for their lessons and I left Chris to deal with it. Luckily, Chris went into "superdad" mode!

 








Yes - you are not seeing things - Chris actually did a craftshop run and put together a pocket watch from precut mdf circles, gold paint; and he raided the Christmas decorations for a "chain"! Way to go Dad!


Oh yes, and he made the bunny ears from some cardboard and a white feather boa! And the tail.
I contributed by painting the nose and whiskers on Alana's face.

It was quite an adventurous night last night - apart from all the excitement getting the costume together, I decided to use my iPhone to get directions to pick Alana up from the party. Talk about navigation fail! My iPhone attempted to direct me down roads that had been closed and the wrong way down one way streets. There's nothing like driving in the dark peering at the screen of your phone trying to figure out how to get from the flashing blue "you are here" dot to where you actually want to be. Luckily I was driving through quiet residential streets and didn't pose too much of a danger to the public. On the way home I had to drop a friend of Alana's home, so I decided to give the iPhone another chance. I figured that it would be much easier when I had a navigator to read the directions to me, instead of trying to read them myself while driving. Maybe not...Here's my favourite exchange:

Alana: just keep going along this road
Me: I'm at the end of the road
Alana: Oh - you have to turn. It's either left or right, I'm not sure which.

Luckily Alana, her friend Chelsea, and I laughed rather than panicked, and we did eventually make it safely home!

Have a great day :)