Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

 The Perks of Being A Wallflower is an novel published in 1999 by Stephen Chbosky. It follows the story of shy, socially awkward, but very intelligent 15 year old Charlie.
Through letters to an unknown friend, Charlie talks about managing the death of his favorite Aunt, and his worries for starting high school. It soon becomes apparent that Charlie is a “wallflower”: someone who is shy and remains unnoticed.
He befriends senior students, Patrick and Sam, and learns about the world of sex, drugs, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
 Stephen Chbosky got into the soul of Charlie and really makes the reader feel like they can relate to him and his experiences. Chbosky really captures the incredibly frightening condition of having anxiety.
 I read this book in less than a week and really enjoyed it. It has become one of my new favorite books and the movie (written and directed by Stephen Chbosky) is on my list to see. It was a very unique and powerful book and I highly recommend reading it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

For Grandmamma

The hardest pain I’ve ever felt was when I was told that you had gone.
I felt a sense of loneliness and that I was all alone.
People who knew you often said how much we were alike.
But I’ll never be as kind as you, so caring and so nice.
I’ll always remember when we came to visit, that smile that spread across your face.
Your hugs, your kisses, your perfume, and that homely Sydney place.
You must have had some great adventures in your great and wonderful life.
Like America with mum and dad, or just being the painter’s wife.
I haven’t let go entirely yet, sometimes I still believe you’re here.
Still listening to that radio, still sitting in that chair.
Now you’re in a better place with those of whom you love.
But my selfish soul just wants you right back here on earth with us.
I’ll fight these tears and try to be strong because I know that is what you would want me to do.
But just so you know I’m the luckiest girl to have a grandmamma like you.

Bad Days Gone Good

I had to write a short story for English involving a homeless person, a forest, and moving schools. And this is what I came up with.

My name is Elaine Jones. I am 11 years old. I live with my mother in a tent in a forest just outside of the local town. People say we are ‘homeless,’ but this home is just as good as any other home, at least to us anyway.

We used to live in a proper house with a roof over our heads. We weren’t exactly wealthy back then anyway. And when mum and dad got divorced, things turned for the worse. Mum got fired from her job at the supermarket, I started to get bullied at school, and then some drunken idiot sets our front lawn on fire. We lost everything. The house, our photos, memories; everything was destroyed. Mum believes it was dad who lit the fire, just to get his revenge on mum. The government is no help. They won’t lend us any money to buy a new house because somehow they believe that we purposefully lit the fire. I’m not quite sure how all of that works, but now we are forced to live in this tent. Mum has tried getting a job, but so far she has had no luck.

Last week, mum and I made a trip into town so mum could go to an interview for yet another job that she probably wouldn’t get anyway. While I was waiting for her, I started singing. I sing when I’m bored, happy, sad, whenever really. There was this man there too. He was wearing a suit and looked very wealthy. I didn’t notice he was staring at me until I finished singing, and when I did, he started clapping. I thought it was really odd. He came and sat next to me and told me that he worked at a big school for people who are musically gifted. “If you wanted to come, and if it is okay with your parents, you would be very welcome there,” he said.
“But we don’t have any money,” I explained. “We can’t even afford to live in a house. We have to live in a tent.”
His smile dropped. He pulled out his phone and called someone who I presume worked at the school. He got out of his seat and walked outside to talk. He was there for a while too. He came back in just as mum came out with a disappointed face. She didn’t get the job. Yet again.
“Hello, Mrs…” he said while putting his hand out to her.
“Miss Jones,” she said while shaking his hand.
“My name is Harvey Crouch, ” he said, “and let me say, Miss Jones, I heard your daughter singing just before, and she has a gift. We would like to offer her a place at our school.”
“Sorry, we can’t afford it,” mum says.
“You don’t have to pay,” he continues, “I just got off the phone with the principal, and he has offered you a scholarship.”
Wow, a scholarship! Mum asks me to leave the room while they talk, so I go outside and watch a lady throw bread to the birds. After a while, mum comes out and explains to me that I will be able to go to school.

When the first day of school arrives, mum wakes me up really early. We pick out the best of my clothes, have something to eat and wait for Mr. Crouch to arrive in his car and take me to the school. I am so nervous. No one liked me at my old school. I had virtually no friends. And who’s to know if this will be the same?

When he eventually arrives, I say goodbye to mum and get in the car. The ride takes at least an hour. I sing for most of the time. I see a very big building in the distance. It looks really old and spooky. Is this the school? My question is answered as Mr. Crouch parks the car outside of it. There are actually lots of buildings, all looking just as old. I get out of the car and large groups of people walk out of the big building. I can see that inside it is some sort of hall. They point and laugh at me. That’s not a good sign. I start to walk the direction they do, but Mr. Crouch instructs me to one of the smaller buildings in the opposite direction.

First we go see the principal, a very old looking man. The whole time we were there, I could feel him watching me. I am asked to sing to him. I sing a song that mum used to sing to me when I was little. He looks just as amazed as Mr. Crouch looked, and welcomes me to his school.
I am then taken to yet another building. When I enter, everyone’s heads turn to stare at me as I sit down. Mr. Crouch introduces me before leaving. The class continues singing some old folk song that was actually really simple, and just after a few verses I have picked up and am singing like I’ve known it for years.

When the bell goes for break, a girl approaches me and introduces herself as Marsha. I spend the break with her. She seems very nice, and we have a lot in common. Her parents were divorced too; only she lives with her dad. And she likes to sing as well. We even share the same birthday! I get a rush of excitement at the thought that maybe I am finally making a friend.

When Mr. Crouch comes to pick me up after school, I tell him all about my day. When we arrive back home, mum runs to the car and embraces me in a hug. I tell her all about Marsha and what I did at school, and she tells me that she has something to tell me as well. We wave goodbye as Mr. Crouch drives off, before sitting down outside the tent.
“Elaine, I went to another job interview today,” she says, delight spreading across her face.
“Did you get it?” I say hopefully. She nods. Wow! Finally we will be able to have some money! And maybe eventually we will be able to pack this tent up for good and live in a proper house! Maybe things are beginning to look up for us two.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Hunger Games (by Suzanne Collins) Review:

The Hunger Games series has become very popular within the last year.

After ‘The Dark Days,’ the area of North America has been split into 13 districts and a Capitol, known as Panem. As a reminder of The Dark Days, the Capitol chooses a boy and a girl (ages 12 – 18) from each district to be thrown into an arena and compete to the death.

The three books (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) are written through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen, a troubled 16 year old girl from District 12 who gets thrown into the arena.

As she struggles to stay alive and get out of the arena alive, she is constantly reminded of her family, her home, and her best friend, Gale.

I was addicted to this series from the very first page and the story stayed with me for long after the last page of ‘Mockingjay.’

On March 22nd, ‘The Hunger Games’ movie will be released in cinemas (starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.)

This series has become far more popular than Twilight (Stephanie Myer) between girls, and is a close second to Harry Potter (JK Rowling).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Title: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Director: Steven Spielberg

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn was based on 'The Adventures of Tintin', a series of comic books created by Belgian artist HergĂ© (Georges Remi).
the film is based on three of the original comic books: 'The Crab with the Golden Claws' (1941), 'The Secret of the Unicorn' (1943), and 'Red Rackham's Treasure' (1944). It is the first animated film Spielberg has ever directed.

The movie starts off with Tintin and his dog Snowy browsing a European market. Tintin is having his portrait painted, and when the painting is revealed, it is the Tintin we are all used to seeing being held up by a digitally animated modern Tintin. I was pleasantly surprised by this reference.

Afterwards, they continue browsing the market when Tintin finds a model of a three-mastered sailing ship, known as 'The Unicorn'. Immediately Tintin is approached by two men who want to buy the model, but Tintin politely declines their offers. He takes it home, but it breaks during a fight between Snowy and the neighbours cat. A small piece of parchment falls out from inside the ship, but roles under the mantel-piece. 
When Tintin returns home from learning about 'The Unicorn', he finds his apartment has been trashed and his model ship has disappeared. But luckily Tintin finds the piece of rolled up parchment, and this is where his adventures really take off.

Tintin must help the last of the Haddock's figure out the mystery of 'The Unicorn' and find the treasure before the power-greedy Sakharine does. 

It is quite obvious what happens in the end, but there were moments when I was in doubt. When I thought that they wouldn't make it; that they were about to give up. And at one point, they almost do. 
But if this movie has taught me anything at all, it would be:

"When you see a wall, you break through it."

Rebecca's Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Haunted Love

This story is my entry to the YPRL Short Story Competition 2011. 
I live in a small town. Not too many people live here, because it is said that the old Montagu house that stands on the far side of town is haunted. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, but I don’t really believe in ghosts or spirits. I can see it from my bedroom window, and when I was little, I used to be afraid to fall asleep, because I felt like it was watching me.
Mum told me about the Montagu family. “Arthur and Esme Montagu were the kindest of folk, according to my mother,” she had said. “It was quite unfortunate, they had just bought a lovely new house, and they were especially impressed by the beautiful roses in the garden. Arthur worked as a horse-and-cart-driver. He was the equivalent of taxi driver now-days, but this was a long time ago. Anyway, one day, he was taking a mother and her son somewhere, and oh, that boy was a bit of a troublemaker. He was playing tricks on the horse, and the horse got very scared. It started running, and the cart somehow unlatched itself from the horse. Arthur fell to the ground, and well, the horse… trampled him.
“Esme was very upset over the death of her husband, and so she locked herself in the house. She had always been out in the garden, looking after her beautiful roses, but after that day, all the flowers withered, and no one saw Esme again. Some say she died in that house. Oh, the poor women…” Mum doesn’t believe that there is anything in that house.
The boys next door to me told me they were dared to stay the night there. They couldn’t stay an hour, because they were too scared. They said they heard an ear-piercing scream saying, “Get out! Get out! How dare you come into my house?” They’ve never even looked at the house since then; and they were the kind of people who boast about not being scared of anything at all.

“Justin! Eric!” I call out to the boys one morning, as I go outside to collect the newspaper. They were sitting out on the lawn; they seemed to be shaking with fear. I ran over to them. “Guys, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”
“We have,” they cried in unison. I didn’t know how to react to this. They had always been making up lies to get me scared about ghosts and demons.
“You’ve used that one before,” I say in a stern voice. “I’m not going to fall for your tricks again.”
“We’re being serious Laura,” Eric yells. “There was a ghost in our bedroom. It was the same one we saw at that creepy, haunted house!”
“Ghosts and spirits don’t exist!” I argue with them for the millionth time. “I’m not going to fall for your stupid lies anymore!”
“We’re not lying!” They shout at me. I can see tear stains on Justin’s cheeks, and his eyes are quite red.
“Okay, fine,” I say. “I’m not saying I believe you, but maybe, there was. What do we do about it?”
“Laura, stop it!” Justin cries. “Ghosts are real, I’ve seen them with my own eyes! If you don’t believe me then maybe you should stay a night at that creepy old house!”
“Maybe I will,” I scream, “and I’ll prove that ghosts aren’t real, but you two will have to come with me.”
“Why?” Eric yells. “Because you’re scared?”
“Of what?” I say. “I’ll need you with me so you don’t think I’m lying anymore when I say that there is no such thing as ghosts, or spirits, or whatever you want to call them!
“And if I can stay there an entire night – unlike you two did – then you two have to give up this supernatural nonsense for good!”
“Fine,” Eric yells. “But if you don’t, which you’re not, then you have to admit that there is such a thing as the supernatural, and there is a ghost living in that house!”
“You’re on,” I say, shaking hands with both of them. “We meet at the house tonight. If I don’t stay there the entire night, you win. If I do, then I win. Fair and square, right?”

I wander into the front garden that night and see the two boys already walking up to the house. They see me and stop for me to catch up to them. I fling my sleeping bag over my shoulder and we make our way to the Montagu house.

It’s scarier up close. The garden surrounding it – which sounds like it must have been magnificent in its day – was dead and black. Old tree branches were swaying in the wind, and the looked like skeleton fingers, just about to pick me up and through me away from this terrible place. I’ll admit, maybe I was a little bit scared. But I refused to admit that to Justin and Eric.                         
I raised my hand to open the door handle, but the door swung open by itself. “Uh, it was the wind,” I quickly say. Justin and Eric were already shaking. I stepped into the house, and Justin and Eric followed me very closely. We were barely in the house when the door slammed shut behind us. The house was very big and quite beautiful, but was full of dust and was not in a good state at all. There was a huge chandelier above us as we stepped into what must have been the living room area. We took a few minutes to look around before the room began to shake. It started off gently but got bigger by the second. The chandelier was shaking abruptly, and before we had time to think, it was falling. Thankfully the room was very tall and we had barely enough time to run out of the way of the chandelier before we heard it come crashing down. The whole house was still rapidly shaking, and everything was being flung everywhere.
When I first heard it, I thought it was one of the boys. But once I listened, I could hear the heartbreak in their voice. “Were you the ones who caused my husbands death?” Screamed the ear-piercing voice of Esme Montagu. The boy’s screams were so load that I lost my hearing for a few seconds. They fled out of the house, screaming louder than ever before.
“No! I didn’t do it! I swear I had nothing to do with your husbands death!” I yelled. I span around, trying to see anything at all that could have been the cause of the wicked, cold, heartbroken voice.
“You lie!” I shrieked again. The house shook more furiously, but all doors and windows seemed to have vanished. I was trapped.
“I’m innocent,” I cry. “Please, just let me go! I didn’t do anything!”
“Then why are you breaking into my home? You must pay for what you have done! You must be punished!”
“I didn’t do anything! Please! I’m just trying to prove something to my friends! But I am obviously wrong, so I will be leaving now…” I tried to find a door or something to exit this horrible place from, but I was blocked.  I began to cry. “Please, I don’t know what it is like to lose someone so close to you, but you have got to face the facts. He is gone, and so are you. You’re just a ghost who hasn’t yet entered their afterlife. The person responsible for your husband’s death is probably already long gone. You’ve got to let go of the past and go on into the future. Trust me, it’s what Arthur would’ve wanted.” The house stopped shaking; everything went quiet.
“Esme, please,” I whispered.
Before my very eyes, the house seemed to piece itself together. The broken chandelier rose into the air and resembled before right in front of me. All the broken plates and dusty books flew back to where they were originally. The house became brighter and happier, like it must have been back in its day. A figure appeared before me. A woman who looked like she must have been in her late 30’s was smiling at me. Esme Montagu was more beautiful than I imagined.
“Thank you,” she said. “I am sorry for all that I have done. You are right. Our time has passed, and I must let go and continue into the future.” A single rose appeared in the palm of her hand. She handed it to me. Another figure appeared next to Esme, and together, Arthur and Esme walked arm-in-arm into the light that lead them to their afterlife.
The house returned into its dull, old self, and everything was normal. I smelt the rose that the ghost of Emse Montagu had given me as walked into the cold night, preparing to admit that the supernatural is real, and that even after death, love lives on forever.