Thursday, August 28, 2014

What is happiness?

What is happiness? Who's the happiest man on earth? Can a car make you happy? Famous Kiwi psychologist, Nigel Latta, has the answers here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dystopian Trilogies

Have you noticed the trend in the modern dystopian trilogies? I'm talking about the likes of The Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, Delirium.

Book 1 is all about the world, the interesting setting, and how it's dusfunctional.
Book 2 sets up the rebellion, sometimes with the heroine reluctant to join.
Book 3 is the war.

I love reading about new ideas, so the first book in a dystopian series is always a delight. What follows is just a rehash of World War Two set in that imaginary world. You get sewers, home-made explosives, capture and torture. You get the civilians and children involved. You eventually claim the bitter-sweet victory.

I can't help wondering whether there is an improved formula somewhere.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Workshop at the 2014 RWNZ Casino Royale Conference

Making your Sentences Rock – Yvonne Walus: Create strong sentences. 

Warning: this is not a grammar class. The objective is to teach you many interesting ways of sentence construction. Avoid the boring “She went, she saw, she conquered”, avoid the treacherous “-ing” words (e.g., “Running down the stairs, she put down her slippers”), improve the pace and the style of your prose.

(In case you need more encoragement, have a look at this awesome Friday Workshop with one of the top writing coaches in the USA, JAMES SCOTT BELL, a bestselling and award winning suspense writer.)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Orange Is The New Black

From the people who brought us Weeds (The TV series) comes Orange Is The New Black, the "story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend."

Despite the many naked boobs displayed int he first episode, my husband says he prefers Prison Break because of its puzzle and thriller components. But Orange is growing on me. I like that it's women-centric. I like the back story of each inmate. I like that it makes me feel lucky to have my freedom, my family, my lifestyle. My teeny-weeny problems disappear when I watch it.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Out Of My Mind

Out Of My Mind, by Sharon Draper

I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions. Cathedral. Mayonnaise. Pomegranate.
Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus.
Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent.
Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry.
Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes - each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands. Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts. Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs.

From the time I was really little - maybe just a few months old - words were like sweet, liquid gifts, and I drank them like lemonade. I could almost taste them. They made my jumbled thoughts and feelings have substance.

My parents always blanketed me with conversation. They chattered and babbled. They verbalized and vocalized. My father sang to me. My mother whispered strength into my ear. Every word my parents spoke to me or about me I absorbed and kept and remembered. All of them.

I have no idea how I untangled the complicated process of words and thought, but it happened quickly and naturally. By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meaning.

But only in my head.

I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.

(Yvonne says: Perhaps not as uplifting as Wonder, but a worthy read nonetheless.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the second movie in the series, and I missed the first, so I can vouch for the fact that the sequel stands on its own.

It's a good movie. Not much you can do with a story that's been told before, but they manage to tell it in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. The visual effects are stunning, especially in 3D.

Go see it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. If that alone isn't enough to send you to the movies / dvd shop / netflics, read on.

Imagine Groundhog Day set in a futuristic world with a total military flavour (which I thought would kill the movie, but it worked). The movie's slogan: "Live. Die. Repeat" is very well chosen, but there's more to the story than action. The plot is smart, the acting superb, and the ending will make you think, and think some more, and repeat.

Don't be put off by the robot-like images on the posters. Just see the movie.