Normality!

As we officially start to leave lock-down, one question is now playing on my mind; what is normality?

After months of social distancing I feel like my idea of normality has changed and I may even prefer not going back to the way things were in some regards.

I know that we are having a second wave of COVID-19 cases in Victoria at the moments; but as I live in New South Wales I am in a state that is easing restrictions and I don’t really know how I feel about it.

We are back to having shortages and limited buying on some items at the supermarket because of what is going on in Victoria but other than that things are moving forward.

Since restrictions have started easing I have had my nails done and my hair done and both times I was the only client because of social distancing; and I really liked it. I liked that It was calm and quiet and that I didn’t feel rushed.

In fact I really love the social distancing rules in public places. No one is standing to close to me and breathing one me. Lines are orderly because everything is marked out on the floor; and people are now having to respect personal space; which I think is awesome.

I have always been someone who sanitised their hands out in public; Thanks Mum, so now I am loving seeing other people doing it too. And I loved that shops now have sanitiser everywhere so I no longer have to search my bag every time I touch a public surface.

I know a lot of things have changed due to COVID-19 and we need to start trying to get things running again and working on the future impacts of the pandemic; but I for one would love to see some of the cleanliness practices and the social distancing practices in public ares stay in place.

~>GEM<~

The Magic Misfits: The Minor Third by Neil Patrick Harris

‘Theo Stein-Meyer loves being part of the Magic Misfits. Armed with his trusty violin bow, he completes the team with his levitation skills, unflappable calm, and proper manners. But when a girl named Emily begins to spend time with the group, Theo is surprisingly drawn to her. She seems to understand the pull he feels between music and magic, between family and friends.

Then a famous ventriloquist arrives in town, and the Misfits are sure he (and his creepy dummy) are up to no good. With their mentor, Mr. Vernon, suddenly called away and tension simmering among the friends, can they come together to stop another member of the villainous Emerald Ring? It’s time for Theo to make a choice about where–and with whom–he belongs.’

This book was magical.

I really love this series so I was excited to get stuck into this book. Thankfully it not only lived up to my expectations; it well and truly surpassed them.

Getting to catch up with the Magic Misfits was like hanging out with old friends. Seeing them work together, do magic together and test the strength of their friendships made for a really wonderful reading experience.

As I had hoped, this book not only contained a fabulous story but it was filled with real life magic tutorials, wonderful illustrations, and more than a few puzzles for the reader to solve. This additions added another fantastic layer to this wonderful book.

Neil Patrick Harris has done a fantastic job with this book. The characters have grown, the story felt like the perfect continuation of it predecessor, and on top of that is was just a joy to read.

Given how much I enjoyed this book as an adult, I can only imagine the excitement this book and the series as a whole will bring to Middle Grade readers everywhere.

The Magic Misfits: The Minor Third by Neil Patrick Harris is the perfect addition to this wonderful series.

July TBR…

It’s that time again… TBR…

I have had a good reading month in June, reading 10 books (4 books from my TBR). I am hoping for another great month month in July, so I am aiming to read 7 or 8 books in July. I am also hoping to read at least 1 Shakespeare Play.

As usual this TBR is bound to change, so this is just what my TBR looks like at the moment.

So without further ado here is my July TBR:

Our Young Man by Edmund White

Season Of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Third Reich by Martyn Whittock

How To Write A Love Story by Katy Cannon

Impact by Matt Doeden

Parkland by Dave Cullen

The Paper & Hearts Society: Read With Pride by Lucy Powrie

Of Curses And Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Tippy And Jellybean by Sophie Cunningham and Anil Tortop

Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

I guess we will see how I did in my July Wrap up. I hope you all have a great reading month, As usual keep your eye out for reviews.

Until next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

June Wrap Up…

Welcome to my June Wrap Up. I have had a great reading month, finishing 10 books (4 books off my TBR). I also received 2 ARC’s this month, and I continued my new goal of reading 1 Shakespeare play. I also completed The Voyage Of The Beagle and The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin.

I have reviews up or coming up for these books so as usual this is just going to be a brief run down on each book I read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my June Wrap Up:

The Voyage Of The Beagle and The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin: This book was incredible. I will admit it was difficult to read so I only read a few chapters a month, but I am so glad that I read it. It was amazing seeing all the discoveries that Charles Darwin made and how he turned his findings into the theory of Evolution. This book is a must read for everyone.

All About Anne by The Anne Frank House: This book was wonderful. I didn’t expect to find so much new information in this book. The added half pages of answers to commonly asked question was an amazing asset to this book. This book is a must read book for everyone.

Come And Ride With Us! by Annie Kubler and Caroline Formby: This book was lovely. This book is one of a four book series and the second I have read. I loved the illustrations and I loved the books message. I can see this being a fast favourite for young readers and their families.

Total Devastation by Michael Burgan: This book was heartbreaking. Filled with individual accounts and photographs of Hurricane Katrina its aftermath. This book really shows the reader the human side and human experiences during Hurricane Katrina and not just the statistics. Well worth a read.

#NeverAgain by David and Lauren Hogg: This book was wonderful. As an Australian school shootings are not something I have ever experienced or contemplated happening, so getting to hear what survivors of a school shooting think and feel about what they went through was really touching to read about. A must read for everyone.

Deadliest Enemy by Michael Osterholm and Mark Olshaker: This book was terrifying. Following all of the different types of endemics and pandemics, and realising how woefully unprepared we are was truly horrific. Reading this book during a pandemic definitely heightened my reaction to this book. This is a must read for everyone.

Proud by Juno Dawson: This book was wonderful. I really enjoyed all of the stories in this collection and all of the wonderful illustrations. This book is a wonderful representation of LGBTQ+ stories created by LGBTQ+ artist. This book is both current and much needed. A must read book for everyone.

The Magic Misfits: The Minor Third by Neil Patrick Harris: I love this series. I was excited to dive into this book and thankfully it was a magical as I had hoped it would be. I love the characters, the story, the magic and the illustrations. I cant wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.

How Contagion Works by Paolo Giordano: This was an amazing little book. As it was an essay that has been published it was a very quick read. I was worried going into it that it may be written in the style of an Academic essay making it difficult to read. I am glad to say that it wasn’t, it was very easy to read. In fact; I think everyone should read it.

The Ratline by Philipe Sands: I really enjoyed this book. I love reading books from the World War Two era so this book was right up my alley. I was a little disappointed by the fact that we didn’t actually get to see a lot about the Ratline, but other than that this was a really solid read.

Shakespeare: I read 2 Shakespeare plays in June. I read the following Shakespeare Plays This Month:

Othello, The Moor Of Venice

King Lear

The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin. I completed reading The Voyage Of The Beagle and The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin This Month. I read the following chapters:

Chapter 14: Recapitulation And Conclusion

Glossary

That’s it for my June Wrap Up. I hope you all had a great reading month. Let me know what you guys read this month in the comments section.

Until my July Wrap Up…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

How Contagion Works by Paolo Giordano

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the most significant health emergency of our time.
Writing from Italy in lockdown, physicist and novelist Paolo Giordano explains how disease spreads in our interconnected world:

why it matters

how it impacts us

how we must react

By expanding his focus to include other forms of contagion – from the environmental crisis to fake news and xenophobia – Giordano shows us not just how we got here but also how we can work together to move forward.’

This was a quick read.

As this was an essay that has now been published, I was worried about having trouble reading it. I am happy to say that it is easy to understand and it isn’t weighed down with too many facts and data.

It was interesting reading this essay now and seeing how much has changed in the short time since it was written. As the numbers and events were taken from when this essay was written in early March at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic a lot of the numbers have increased by a lot.

This was a really quick read, I think it only took my about an hour to read it. I was worried going in this essay that I would feel overwhelmed after reading this essay but I actually felt quite hopeful. This surprised me, but I think it is because I was able to see that people have adapted and behaved well ever though the situation has gotten worse.

Paolo Giordano has done a fantastic job with this essay. It was easy to read and follow, compelling, and informative yet not overwhelming. I am glad that I read this essay and I think that everyone an take something out of it.

How Contagion Works by Paolo Giordano is a must read for everybody.

Uni Update 8!

It’s that time again. Uni Update!

A lot has happened since my last Uni Update. I got my results back for my final Assessment from last Trimester; I passed. This meant that I passed last Trimesters course; which I am very happy about.

I am now almost a month into this Trimesters course; Thinking Ethically. I have just submitted my second Assessment, having already passed my first. I have also stared working on my third Assessment.

I am really enjoying the course and the subject matter so far. I was a bit worried as it is a more advanced course but I have found the teacher is really great about explaining this and the other students are very active on the discussion board, so questions are answered if you don’t understand something.

I have also narrowed down my course for next Trimester to two options, so I guess we will see how I feel as we get closer to the enrolment date.

I am very happy with how this first month of Trimester 2 is playing out and I am hoping that this a sign that I am going to enjoy this course.

That’s it from me for now. I will catch up with you next month for another Uni Update.

~>GEM<~

Come And Play With Us! by Annie Kubler and Caroline Formby

‘The way people live is different in many parts of the world. This series of colourful flap books, created with and for OXFAM, depict everyday situations and help us to discover what makes us different and what binds us together. This book shows the different games people play.’

This book was wonderful.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I bought it on sale because it looked sweet and was by OXFAM. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this wonderful little book. I am now looking to buy the remaining books in this series.

This book will be the perfect edition to every young readers library. With each double-page featuring a new country to learn about. With interactive flaps, wonderful stories and beautiful illustrations, this book will be loved by young readers the world over.

I loved how this book played to it audience. It gave a taste of each country and didn’t over do it with the amount of information they provided. As it is a children’s book, less is always more.

The whole concept of this book is great. Teaching children about other places and cultures is something that I think can only be a benefit to children and this book is a great way to do that.

I really enjoyed getting to see how children play all around the world so I can only imagine how exciting it would be as a child to see and learn about other children and the world as a whole.

I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book. If you have a young reader in your life or you know someone who does, get them a copy of this book.

Come And Play With Us! by Annie Kubler and Caroline Formby is a must have for all young readers and their families.

90’S Movie Book Tag…

Welcome one and all to another Wacky Wednesday post. Today I am partaking in the 90’s Movie Book Tag. I hope you all enjoy this quick little tag.

So without further ado, lets jump straight in:

SHE’S ALL THAT

Name a book that is an odd pairing but they still fit perfectly

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell – Stalking Jack The Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU

A book/series that you have a love/hate relationship with

The Outsider by Stephen King

CLUELESS

A character that is totally clueless but you love them anyway

Ron Weasley – The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling.

TITANIC

Name a book that made you cry

A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks

AMERICAN PIE

A book that makes you laugh

The Quest Diaries of Max Crack by Jules Faber

CAN’T HARDLY WAIT

A book with a crazy party

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

CRUEL INTENTIONS

Name a character that you can never fully trust

Legend – Caraval series by Stephanie Garber

DRIVE ME CRAZY

Name your favorite “boy next door” or “girl next door”  couple

Juliet Ashton and Dawsey Adams – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and  Annie Barrows

SCREAM

A book with a memorable villain

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

THE CRAFT

Name a book with witches 

The Witches by Roald Dahl


Well that’s it for me. I hope you guys enjoyed this tag. As usual, hit me up with your answers in the comment section.

Until next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

The Voyage Of The Beagle and The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin

Easily the most influential book published in the nineteenth century, Darwin’s The Origin of Species is also that most unusual phenomenon, an altogether readable discussion of a scientific subject. On its appearance in 1859 it was immediately recognised by enthusiasts and detractors alike as a work of the greatest importance: its revolutionary theory of evolution by means of natural selection provoked a furious reaction that continues to this day.

The Origin of Species
 is here published together with Darwin’s earlier Voyage of the ‘Beagle.’ This 1839 account of the journeys to South America and the Pacific islands that first put Darwin on the track of his remarkable theories derives an added charm from his vivid description of his travels in exotic places and his eye for the piquant detail.

This book was incredible.

I will admit that this book wasn’t easy to read. I have been slowly making my way through it by reading a few chapters a month. I am glad I chose to do this as I stopped me from getting overwhelmed and giving up.

This is one of those books that I have wanted to read for a long time. I really enjoyed The Voyage Of The Beagle, and I didn’t find it that hard to read. I loved seeing all of the different places that Charles Darwin visited and how he viewed everything he was seeing.

While I found The Origin Of Species harder to read, I really loved seeing how Charles Darwin used what he saw and learned on his journey with the Beagle to come up with the theory of evolution.

I am glad that I finally read this book. It was definitely worth the extra effort.

The Voyage Of The Beagle and The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin are two books everyone should read at least once in their life.

FBI: Most Wanted Essay!

Today I am going to be sharing with you an essay I wrote about the new Crime Drama FBI: Most Wanted.


Over the course of this essay I will be analyzing episode two from the first season of FBI: Most Wanted titled “Defender” in regards to its genre; Crime Drama, and the way violence is used in this genre. Why are viewers, more likely to accept violence in a crime drama as appose to a soap opera or reality television program? The answer to this question lies in genre, and how we perceive a program based on the genre that it belongs to. We use genre as a way of classifying texts. Genre can be understood to be a group of texts that belong together due to their shared characteristics. The predictability within genre is what draws an audience in. Most audiences select the genre they desire to watch based on the fact that they understand what they are going to be getting when they watch a specific program due to its genre. When it comes to the genre of crime; viewers feel safe in their belief that by the end of an episode or movie, order will be restored; the crime will have be solved and ‘Good’ will have triumphed of ‘Evil’. The battle of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’, and the eventual success of ‘Good’, offers viewers an ideal of the world. A way that pleases an audience and gives hope that ‘Good’ will always win and that they world has a way of bringing order to the chaos.

FBI: Most Wanted follows not just the main protagonist LaCroix, but a team of protagonist made up of the Fugitive Task Force. Given the way that FBI: Most Wanted functions, it is able to take elements from various crime drama sub-categories into its narrative, such as Rogue Cop/Hard Boiled, Police Procedurals as well as Forensic. FBI: Most Wanted uses elements from the Forensic sun-category to help the team narrow down where a fugitive has been, it uses elements from the Police Procedurals sub-category to track down potential targets or collaborators of the fugitive in question, as well as some elements from the Rogue Cop/Hard Boiled sub-category in the way in which the various team members use instincts, personal experience and profiling in order to predict where a fugitive may go. Misrecognition is another element of Crime Drama that FBI: Most Wanted uses. In the case of FBI: Most Wanted, misrecognition usually comes into play when a fugitive is trying to throw our protagonists off his/her track as appose to the usually use of misrecognition; where an innocent person is wrongly made a suspect. When it comes to Crime Dramas, most are also Melodramas. Since each episode is based on a ‘Good’ verses ‘Evil’ situation which is eventually concluded with justice being delivered, there is an emphasis on violence. As a melodrama narrative requires an audience to feel and believe the drama that is unfolding they need to see the violence and injustice in order to experience the high at the end of the episode when justice is served.

While FBI: Most Wanted falls into the genre of Crime Drama, there are a few differences in the sequence of events and how the episode unfolds. In the standard Crime Drama format we usually see a crime being committed and then brought to the attention of the protagonists, where it is then investigated before a breakthrough happens that leads to the situation being resolved. This episode of FBI: Most Wanted; like most of its episodes, unfolds in a slightly different way. As this series follows the Fugitive Task force, the audience already knows who committed the crime as the investigation has already happened and the suspect is now on the run. Instead we see the task force investigate the fugitive in order to find a way to bring them in without anyone else getting hurt. In the episode we are looking at today we see a double shooting; resulting in one fatality, followed by a kidnapping, an assault, property damage, an smash and grab with property damage, an off screen attempted sexual assault, an off screen physical assault, and more property damage caused by gunshots. All of this violence occurs after the originally crime has already taken place; the armed robbery. Considering the episode runs for approximately 45 minutes; this is a lot of violence for a viewer to take in. Is this a sign that we are becoming desensitized to violence in the media?

There are a lot of studies that have been done and even more that are being done, that ask the question about whether violence in the media is bad for us. Are we desensitized, are we less sympathetic, less empathetic, is it making us more violent as a society? I found interesting results when I posed the questions around being less sympathetic and less empathetic whilst watching FBI: Most Wanted. From the start of the episode I felt large amounts of sympathy and empathy towards Ms Tyson; the antagonist, and her children. I was concerned about her getting hurt, and I wanted to help her children. I also felt a lot of sympathy and empathy toward LaCroix and the situation he is dealing with in regards to his daughter. My feeling of sympathy and empathy surprised me as Ms Tyson was the ‘Evil’ in the battle of ‘Good’ verses ‘Evil’. Yet as the episode unfolded it was plain to see that the task force members also found themselves feeling sympathy and empathy towards Ms Tyson and her situation. When posing the question of desensitization in regards to the FBI: Most Wanted episode ‘Defender’, I found that I was shocked and un-nerved by some of the violence but not all of it. I found myself uncomfortable in all the scenes that involved gun violence as well as the scene when Ms Tyson assaulted the hostage. In fact, the scene when Ms Tyson assaulted the hostage was the only scene where I was unable to feel sympathy and empathy towards Ms Tyson. Another interesting thing occurred during the scene when Ms Tyson attacked her would be rapist; I wanted her to attack him. I felt absolutely nothing when he was found injured later in the episode, I was glad she had gotten away from him by any means necessary.

If media violence is causing society to become desensitized, less sympathetic, less empathetic, and more violent as a society, why was I uncomfortable with some of the violence? Why was I able to sympathize and empathizes with Ms Tyson and Agent LaCroix? There is no denying that Crime Dramas contain a lot of violence. Yet I believe that this level of violence is necessary. We live in a violent world; we see violence in real world situations played out on the news, social media, the radio, and newspapers every day. I think we need Crime Dramas like FBI: Most Wanted to help us deal with what is happening in the world. I felt relief at the end of ‘Defender’. Relief that Ms Tyson had be captured without being harmed, relief that the children’s father was going to step up and help Kendall, relief that LaCroix was going to continue searching for Ms Tyson’s daughter, I was even relieved that Ms Tyson had stab the rapist and he was now off the streets. I can’t think of a real life situation where we would see this many agreeable solutions.

We accept violence in the genre of Crime Drama because we need to accept violence in Crime Dramas. As a society we are bombarded with violence 24/7; crime, wars, domestic violence makes up our daily news intake. As we are unable to see the battle of ‘Good’ verses ‘Evil’ resolve itself in most real life situations, we can see it play out in Crime Dramas. In FBI: Most Wanted we see ordinary people who work an extreme job on the fugitive task force, working to bring justice every episode. We see these characters dealing with normal life and family issues just like us, and then going to work and seeing extreme violence and catching bad guys all to keep us and our families safe. Audiences don’t watch Crime Dramas for the violence. They watch Crime Dramas to feel better about the world we live in. To feel safer knowing that there are people out there like Agent LaCroix and the fugitive task force whose job it is to make the world a safer place for everybody else. Crime Dramas need violence in order to function as a narrative and we need the genre of Crime Dramas waylay and alleviate our stress and anxieties whilst also entertaining us. These two purposes of Crime Drama as a genre are why we as an audience and as a society not only accept violence in Crime Dramas but expect it. Crime Drama fills a specific need in television audiences and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

~>GEM<~