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Steph Ellis

Reader. Watcher. Learner.

Currently reading

Killing Geronimo: The Hunt for Osama bin Laden
Bluewater Productions, James Boulton
"It's a highly deceptive world, one that constantly asks you to comment but doesn't really care what you have to say. "

David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing

"People see stories everywhere...We take random events and we put them together in a pattern so we can comfort ourselves with a story, no matter how much it obviously isn't true...We have to lie to ourselves to live. Otherwise, we'd go crazy."

Patrick Ness, More Than This

"Why can't we learn to live with how we are? And whatever anybody chooses is okay by the rest of us?"

Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

"Cuz that's it -
That's the nasty, nasty secret if war -
When yer winning -
When yer winning, it's ruddy thrilling -"

Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

"What a sad thing men are. Can't do nothing good without being so weak we have to mess it up. Cant' build something up without tearing it down."

Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

"We all fall but that's not what matters. What matters is picking yourself up again."

Patrick Ness, The Ask and the Answer

Confessions of a Sociopath

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight - M. E. Thomas

I'll admit I struggled through this one.  And I possibly only persevered with it because a friend lent it to me so I felt I had to read it.  (How's that for an empath reason to read?!)


This book was informative about a little talked about subject, but there was just something about it that kept me at arm's length.  Is it because it was written by a sociopath so there was no connection between the author and reader?  Is it because there were few stories to illustrate points for fear of litigation?  Is it because it is hard to feel empathy for someone that displays no emotion?


Whatever it was, I finished this book feeling like I'd just been added to the list of people M E Thomas has manipulated.

The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child - Donalyn Miller

This book didn't have as much impact on me as "Reading in the Wild" did.  I wonder if that is because of the order I read them in?  I also didn't think there were as many practical tips for me to take out of this book.


However, if you are a teacher who does not enjoy reading yourself or a teacher who loves reading and doesn't share that with your students, you will get a lot out of this book.  I especially like how Miller discusses ways to get around school / national requirements but still make time for your own goals and priorities.


Recommended for teachers.


Dust: (Wool Trilogy 3) - Hugh Howey

And then there was hope.


Recommended for people who have read the other two books and have to know how the trilogy finishes.

I Am Pilgrim

I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes

This is an action-packed spy thriller.  Will keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night reading on to find out what happens.


Recommended for anyone with a pulse.


Requiem - Lauren Oliver

A satisfactory conclusion to the series.


Recommended for teenagers.

Reading in the Wild

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits - Donalyn Miller, Susan Kelley

"Reading changes your life.  Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time.  Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education.  Through characters - the saints and the sinners, real or imagined - reading shows you how to be a better human being."


I made so many notes reading this book I practically wrote my own!  There are so many practical ideas to take straight into classroom or library practice.  And then there's the ideas to think about and adapt to your own cultural and environmental settings.


Recommended for ALL teachers.  Not just primary.  And not just English.  ALL.

Life After Life

Life After Life - Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite writers.  She observes characters so well and her dialogue between them is pitch perfect.


While the premise of this story could have been made quite fantastical and schmaltzy,  Atkinson handled it deftly and without sentiment.  I was hooked to each of Ursula's lives, never quite sure how the present one would differ from the last.


This is a book I will revisit so that I can read it more slowly, savouring the experience...now that I know how it ends!

The Luminaries

The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton

"Never underestimate how extraordinarily difficult it is to understand a situation from another person's point of view."


I loved this book.  Yet despite the above quote, I can understand those who don't.


It is written in a Victorian style, so if you don't enjoy books like Dickens you probably won't like this.  It is a slow-burner with lots of different strands that come together, so if you like fast, action-packed reads you probably won't enjoy this.  It is lyrical and requires concentration, so if you are looking for an easy, beach-read this is probably not the book for you.


I loved it.  And as I sat reading it in the hot, Hawkes Bay sunshine it made me homesick for the wild and wet West Coast.

Grimm Tales for Young and Old

Grimm Tales: For Young and Old - Philip Pullman

"Swiftness is a great virtue in the fairy tale.

All we need is the word "Once..." and we're off."


Pullman has gone back to the origins of these well known stories.  They are back to the dark, morality tales they once were. 


I was surprised by how many of these tales are much more violent than nostalgia and sentiment had me remembering.  And also how originally it was the "evil mother" coming up with murderous plans against her own children, rather than the "wicked stepmother".


Recommended for young and old.

This Is Not a Drill - Beck McDowell

This book works on lots of different levels.  There's the broken relationship between Jake and Emery.  There's the health issues that people keep hidden.  There's the courage the teenagers find when they are forced to care for 18 small children.  And there's what happens to soldiers when they return home from war.

It's a difficult read at times, but one I'll be recommending.