30 November 2012

Book Beginnings: Girls in Pants - Ann Brashares

'If you are reading this, you may know about us. Or at least about our pants anyway. If you do, you can skip ahead a few pages. If you don't, hang here with me for a minute. I'll try to make it painless.'

This time around the prologue is coming from Tibby's POV. It is once again filled with her character, dripping with cynicism. 

There's one pretty obvious difference this time though, and I think it stems from the fact that this is the third book coming at a time when the series had achieved some form of success. That difference being that the assumption, or rather presumption, is made that the reader has heard of the travelling pants. 

I think this beginning gives less of a feeling for the contents of the book. On the other hand the prologue is coming from Tibby, and I felt that her storyline this time around was the more major of the four. 

Anyway, I'm linking up toBook Beginnings @ Rose City Reader.

What're you reading this week?


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29 November 2012

The Second Summer - Ann Brashares

I was less keen on the second summer than I was on the first book in this series. It was frankly rather sad, although Bridget got some closure and moved out of the depressive state she ended the last book in none of the girls really had a happy story this time around.

Tibby and Bridget perhaps got the closest to it as Bridget put her demons to rest and Tibby began to maybe see Brian in a new light. I liked what was blossoming there. 

I think it's a shame that Carmen likes to cling to the past so much. In the first book I thought we'd seen her get past her parent's happiness issues but in this book she just repeats the same mistakes she made the first time around on the other parent. It's all the more bitter because up until now she's had an amazingly close and happy relationship with her mum.

Lena's story however is the most heartwrending. At the end of the first book she entered into a relationship with a guy who is basically her ideal. After seven months or so apart she decides she can no longer cope with the long distance aspect of her relationship and so calls it off. In the summer however Kostos comes to visit unexpectedly. She pushes him away because she's not sure she can take the pain but eventually lets him in. At this point, after mere days together, Kostos returns to Greece suddenly and this time he calls it off. Lena's heartbroken. She goes to Greece at the very end of the book and runs into Kostos, at the funeral of her Bapi no less, with his brand new wife! You feel every nuance of her betrayal and the hurt she is going through.

When I say I didn't like this book as much as the first it is simply because of the sadness. I still enjoyed reading it very much.


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24 November 2012

Book Beginnings: The Second Summer - Ann Brashares

'Once there were four girls who shared a pair of pants. The girls were all different sizes and shapes, and yet the pants fit each of them.'

The beginning of the second summer is not dissimilar than the beginning of the sisterhood of the travelling pants, it contains the same basic elements because it has the same point it's trying to get across. 

However this beginning is told by Lena rather than by Carmen and I think that her voice really comes through to distinguish it. It becomes more dreamy and less wordy. It seems less like a diary entry and more like the start of a fairytale, and I think at this point it in some ways doesn't fit the book. 

The book does have fairytale magic but there's also a lot of sadness in it. 

I'm linking up with Book Beginnings @ Rose City Reader


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21 November 2012

Those kinda lectures...

Going to University to become a full time student involves a workload which is pretty unlike any other experience. There's a good chance you'll only have 10-12 hours of contact a week, but then you're expected to put in a minimum of another 30 or so hours a week by yourself. Studying in this way really does become a full time job, not to mention that a number of students have actual jobs on the sidelines as well. Anyway for those hours when you're making contact you'll be expected to sit and listen to someone talk for a large majority of the time. 

This is what my workload looked like in Sixth Form, it doesn't look much different except it's bigger with less chocolate!

I agree that this could be considered a good approach to learning if you're studying a subject along the lines of English or History where the general idea of the course is for you to gain a huge basis of knowledge on some pretty specific subjects, and where most opinions towards the topics could be considered correct. Your main aim for lectures in these subjects is to come away from the lectures armed with a brief overview of a topic and an arsenal of places to go look into it in further detail. You're expected to do a lot of reading in your own time, and from friends who do study these subjects I'd say that it works pretty well. 

But I also think that it's perhaps hands down the worst way to learn a subject like the one that I'm studying. If you don't know that's maths, and actually I didn't do all too badly last year based on this kind of teaching, but I think that has a lot more to do with the effort and time I put in by myself than anything that my lecturers gave me, with one exception. My lecturers last year, with the aforementioned exception were deadly dull. We would come in, sit down and listen for two hours with a 10 minute break in the middle. The lecturer would very quickly go through a whole host of rather complicated computations and often each would build upon the last, there would be no pause to check that the concept was understood and no chance for you yourself to check that you actually did get it. 

It probably does work for some people, but I'm inclined to say that they're in the minority. For most people I think that subjects require a more active approach with slightly more guidance. I think on the whole we'd learn better if we were given more opportunities to practice questions during the course of lectures, so we could notice our problems immediately and ask if we could be shown a different approach.  

Too often you find yourself lost after just a little while and the problem only builds on itself. You then find yourself spending a week trying to wade through a huge list of problems you had before you can get through your work and reach a neutral position for the start of the next. I'm not saying that all the work should be done for you because that will get you nowhere and teach you nothing. I'm just saying that you'd probably get a lot further if they made it a little easier for you.

It is their job to teach after all.

What d'you think?


15 November 2012

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants - Ann Brashares

My friend tried to persuade me to read this book at the beginning of my teenage years and at the time I have to admit I was sceptical. I was still sceptical this summer when I bought the film from work because it was ridiculously cheap and seemed like it would be an ok flick. I put off watching it for a while. I watched it and then needed to know what happened next cue buying all five books and the second film from Amazon. 

I still haven't watched the second film or read the final book, but I have to say that this book didn't disappoint. It went into more depth than the film and although I felt some things were a little skimmed over it had plenty of depth for it's intended audience I felt.

Bridget's was my favourite of the four storylines, closely followed by Lena's. They were both the kind of Romantics that I love to dig my teeth into. Tibby's felt a little lack-lustre to me, pretty much right up until the point that Bailey dies, then Tibby became more like a real person to me. Carmen was tricky, I could kind of see where she was coming from, but to me she seemed a little shallow and as far as I could tell was mostly taking things out on the blameless. 

I'm way behind the general populace in reading these books so I was wondering if anyone else had anything to share about the storyline?

I'm linking up with Speed Date Night @ The Book Swarm.


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13 November 2012

Count the little things

So today I was sitting in a pretty dull lecture. I had a headache and generally wasn't that interested. A greenfly flew in front of my friend and I prompting her to say 'ooh a greenfly'.

This made me smile.

Which leads to the point. Count all the little things which make you smile and smile at them. After all lots of little smiles leads to a happier person.

Have a fantastic day.


Oh and the pictures of a Cactus that lived in my room for several years; I could never get it to flower but it moved to my nan's conservatory when I went to uni last year. She got it to flower this spring which made me smile. Turns out my north-facing room was just a tad too cold for it.

12 November 2012

Psalm 46:6

'Nations tremble and Kingdoms shake.
God Shouts and the earth crumbles.'

I spent my Saturday in London, with the intention of seeing the Mayor of London Parade fireworks, but they weren't on this year due to the Olympics and Jubilee celebrations. Instead I spent a brilliant day with my boyfriend. We went to Oxford street. We went to the National Gallery to see John Constables paintings of our native Suffolk. We had Ice Cream at Harrods. 

Then on Sunday it was Remembrance Day which involved Church Parade, this year we had a respectable turn out from the Scout Group, which was good. It also meant I saw a friend from High School who's running things with the Army Cadets these days, but who I never bump into except for on Remembrance Day. 

It always chills me a little during the silence, when you stop and think about the sacrifice oru servicemen and women make for us as a general populace.

What did you do for Remembrance?


9 November 2012

Book Beginnings: The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants - Ann Brashares

'Once upon a time there was a pair of pants. They were an essential kind of pants - jeans, naturally, blue but not that stiff, new blue that you see so often on the first day of school. They were a soft changeable blue with a little extra fading at the knees and the seat and white wavelets at the cuffs.'

This first beginning is given by Carmen. It's a little longer than I'd usually put a beginning, but that's because I've already read all four books and wanted to compare/contrast them a little. Not so much in this post however.

What I do think of this beginning is that it gives a concise summation of the feeling of the whole book, and the bond that the four girls share.

I'm linking up with Book Beginnings @ Rose City Reader.

Have you read this book? What did you think?


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