Bookish Things

Nyxia – Reintgen

I recently read a book that made me realise just how much I appreciate a really good SciFi, and very real male protagonist: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen. A colleague who doesn’t usually read SciFi recommended this to me and it did not disappoint – so much so that I even went and bought my own copy.

Synopsis:

34946083Ten teenagers from low socio-economic backgrounds are offered a chance of a lifetime from global corporation, Babel; embark on a journey to a new planet called Eden, learn valuable skills along the way, earn more money than most of the richest on Earth… but only if they can beat the other recruits and secure themselves a spot in the top eight.

Emmett is one of those recruits, and he is determined to make it to Eden to save his mother from cancer. He is regularly forced to decide between what is right, and what is easy, often forgetting that a life without his humanity is not worth living no matter how wealthy it is. Emmett has no idea about the challenges he is going to face, but he knows that he is going to do everything he can to be in the top eight and land on Eden.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore this book for quite a few reasons. Firstly, Emmett is so very real. Its not often that I identify with an 18 year old male character, for obvious reasons, but the way that Emmett is written is very clever. You feel his pain, his need, and his drive. You understand what makes him tick and the motivation behind his choices. His ability to be acknowledge the darkness within him and yet fight to be the better man because that’s how his parents raised him, makes you appreciate the pressure that his is under and the manipulative nature of Babel. I just love Emmett.

Secondly, this is such a thrilling read. It was one of those can’t-possibly-put-down-until-finished, read-it-in-one-go reads. The twists, turns and shock values were great. I was worried for Emmett’s sanity, but at no point was I unsure of his fate (clever devices that teen readers wouldn’t normally recognise gave away certain clues for certain events, but I still enjoyed it). Just when you think all is finally well, Reintgen rips the rug out from underneath you with another twist and you can’t help hating Babel.

Lastly, I haven’t read a good SciFi thriller like this in ages. Yes, I love These Broken Stars by Kauffman and Spooner, and yes, I am very much looking forward to Obsidio by Kauffman and Kristoff, BUT, this is a different type of SciFi and it’s been a while. It’s made me realise just how much I love a good SciFi thriller, and how the genre seems to be making a come back with new authors, new ideas, and new stories to love.

Overall, I would recommend Nyxia to anyone from 13 years and up. Yeah, there are a couple of violent scenes but on the whole they are not the most violent I have come across, and they are written in a way that adds to the story rather than just being violence for violences sake (similar to the cleverness of the violence in Hunger Games). If you’re looking for your next great SciFi read, or are interested in trying the genre, I would highly recommend giving this one a go.

Bookish Things

Leigh Bardugo – Author Spotlight

Without even realising it, I have recently been on a bit of a Leigh Bardugo binge, so I thought I’d better blog about it!

Towards the end of least year I started reading her Grisha Trilogy: #1 Shadow and Bone, #2 Siege and Storm, #3 Ruin and Rising. I didn’t love these books, it took me over 6 months to read the series, but I did enjoy them. Her world building and complexity of story was expertly done, but in this series I sometimes felt that there was too much going on and I got a little lost or disinterested.

I was then told by a year 11 student that I “ABSOLUTELY HAD TO GET SIX OF CROWS AND CROOKED KINGDOM BECAUSE THEY ARE THE BEST BOOKS EVER!” (Yes, she really did yell enthusiastically at me; I love book worms.) It’s taken me a while to start this duology, but I am so glad I did. Six of Crows is the first and it tells the story of a band of young thieves pulling off the biggest heist of their careers. It helps to have read the Grisha Trilogy beforehand as there is a fair amount of name dropping and reference to the Civil War explained in those books, but it is not strictly necessary. The twists and turns, the character development, and the cleverness of their fearless leader make you want to keep turning the page. Once again, the complexity of the story, including flash backs, multiple points of view, and twists and turns that rival the best mysteries, are masterfully handled and not once did I get lost. Bardugo has done an excellent job balancing all these features while telling a fantastic story. I am really enjoying continuing the story of the young thieves in Crooked Kingdom, and hope that it lives up to its predecessor.

I realised that I had recently finished yet another of Bardugo’s books, Wonder Woman: Warbringer. I was so excited to get my hands on this one that I didn’t even pay attention to the author until I was half way through and thoroughly enjoying it. (I mean, it’s a Wonder Woman origin story in the form of a novel, how could I not be excited?!) The beautiful thing about the way that Bardugo has told Diana’s (Wonder Woman’s) story is that it is really refreshing. In this telling, Diana does not end up in the classic Wonder Woman outfit, and is not necessarily announced to the world, but is on a mission that isn’t sanctioned by her mother and Amazon sisters, and she must work in secret to right the wrong she has brought upon the island. I highly recommend this for fans of superheroes, and I’m super excited to see what Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker, Sarah J Maas’ Catwoman: Soulstealer, and Matt De La Pena’s Superman bring to the table in the DC Icon Series!

What I’ve realised about Bardugo’s writing over the past year is that, in my opinion, the more she writes, the better she gets, and the more I like it! I am looking forward to whatever’s next from Leigh Bardugo.

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Education

Geek-A-Thon Wrap-up!

Some Context:

I have wanted to do a sleep over in the iCentre since February 2016, and on the 8th of September this year I finally got to do it! I have been working on celebrating all things Geek with our students this year through the Geek Girl program, the goal being:

To encourage girls to embrace their talents and creativity in a safe environment, as well as exposing them to industry professionals, broadening their views on what they’re capable of, and assisting them to reach their full potential.

geek girl logo

It’s been a fantastic year so far with fashionistas, illustrators, and animators coming in to share their experiences, as well as the process they go through each time they create something new.

For those girls that regularly attending these Geek Girl sessions, we wanted to give them the opportunity to really “Geek Out” so I combined my dream of sleeping over in the iCentre with a 24 hour Geek Out event and Geek-A-Thon was born.

Rationale:

Geek-A-Thon will be the culminating event of the Geek Girls program run by Krystal Gagen, Linda Clark, and Emma Maya, and hosted by the iCentre. The event will be invitational and focus on celebrating the success and experiences of the students that have participated in Geek Girl events throughout the year. The event will be a 24 hour event that will include guest speakers, opportunities for girls to share their “geekiness,” and for them to learn new skills and expand their thinking.

Geek-A-Thon Program:

  • Introduction at 3:30pm Friday – explanation of rules and plan for the 24 hours
  • Geek Out!
    • Computer circuit boards used to create sounds/lights that can change using the buttons or shaking them depending on the programming
    • Piper Raspberry Pi Computer Kit computer built by students during lunch breaks following blue prints – once built, had to finish it off by playing the game and learning how to wire the remaining buttons
  • Escape Room Challenge – Rebel Revolt (ongoing throughout the 24 hours)
  • Drones
    • Played with motion sensor drones + remote controlled drones
    • Design your own drone challenge
  • Dinner and free dancing
  • Sharing of drone designs
  • Geek Out*!
    • Makeup tutorial
    • Drawing tutorial
    • Swing dance tutorial – learning the Shim Sham from Ms Maya
  • Sphero races
  • Movie and hot chocolates
  • Bed time by 2am!
  • Breakfast and free dancing
  • Geek Out!
    • Public speaking tutorial
    • Music showcase
      • Guitar sing-a-long
      • Cello recital
  • 3D Printing with Steph Piper of PIPER3DP
  • Lunch and movie
  • Pickup by 3:30pm Saturday!

*Geek Out sessions designed for students to share the geeky thing that they are particularly passionate about.

Thoughts:

This event was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was so nice to see students from different year levels working together to explore the possibilities of technology, have in depth discussions about the process of creating or using something new, and have lots of fun along the way. Every student that attended Geek-A-Thon walked away with new ideas, thoughts, and questions, and all said they had lots of fun and were begging to do it again next year. The most beautiful thing about the event, in my opinion, was watching the relationships between our Geek Girls grow stronger and the sense of community  that was established was really special.

A big thank you to my colleagues Linda Clark and Emma Maya for you support throughout Geek Girls, and to Helen Stower for enabling me to try these sorts of events.

Photo Gallery on iCentre Website