Sunday Reading

New school tomorrow! Promises to be a super interesting experience; I am excite.

Finished Reading:

Re-reads both: Iorich and The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust. I have been a planning, assessing, academic bidding, first pass pages correcting ROBOT for the last week, and in those situations I go straight for something familiar and well-loved - i.e., something by Brust, Bujold, Mahy, or Pamela Dean's Tam Lin.

Currently Reading:

A History of the Wife, Marilyn Yalom. It's still really good I was just distracted.

Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein. I anticipate a big, spoilery review of this later, but at this stage I am past the halfway point and full of THEORIES. I would hate to spoil for anyone else, so instead I will just make this observation: Usually when reading an Elizabeth Wein novel I have to brace myself against the terrible things that are going to inevitably happen to characters I care about. In this novel the terrible things happen from the very first page! What a relief!

The Shadowed Sun, N. K. Jemisin. I was all, what? Who? What's happening? for about thirty pages. And then I looked it up and realised the book takes place ten years after The Killing Moon. Ohhhhhh. Okay!

The Single Witch's Survival Guide, Mindy Klasky. Deeeeeelightful! Especially love the fake Brit lady.


The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon. Acquired for me by lovely publicist Abba! She is curious to see what I think of it, and thus so am I.

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My mother is going to be astonished.

Internets, it turns out I really like teaching special ed.

Trust me, I'm more surprised than anyone. But it turns out being a fast-paced, enthusiastic teacher with high expectations, an ability to tactically ignore restless/distracting behaviour and - most importantly - an unshakably nerdy love for charts, graphs, and data collection works steadily in my favour.

Something to encourage me when I hit my next classroom placement!

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Sunday Reading


Nothing! Oh my paws and whiskers, can this be so?

It's academic bidding time in my teacher training cycle. We don't write essays - we make presentations, while tutors ask us sharp questions to expose gaps in our knowledge. It's a little like defending your thesis A LOT.

So far, I have done a presentation on NZ's National Education Goals and Guidelines and the National Administration Guidelines. Next, my various study partners and I have presentations on human development theory and practice, legal and ethical issues in teaching, and NCEA (the NZ qualifications system).

As you might imagine, this involves some reading! Some of it's dull, and some of it's incredibly fascinating, but none of it is what I consider leisure reading.

(We've also been preparing for our special education fieldwork. That starts this week, and Internets, as you can imagine I really don't want to stuff that up. Oh, and we've been working on Te Reo Māori. Thanks to Japanese, I can roll my Rs like anything! But also thanks to Japanese, I always mispronounce "au".)

ANYWAY, upshot is, nothing completed in my downtime. (ahahahaha "downtime").


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black. Oooooh, sibling stuff and media in action. I am a sucker.

Cold Steel, Kate Elliot. VAI WHAT ARE YOU DOING. STOP.

Also, I feel I should note that the copy-edit on this book is sublime.

A History of the Wife, Marilyn Yalom. Non-fiction, about just what it says. Euro-American focused, with a brief stopover in ancient Israel, but acknowledges this straight up. Awesomely feminist, intriguingly historical.


Supernaturally, Kiersten White. The continuing adventures of Evie! Can't wait. Although I have two weeks of academic bidding left, so I suspect I must.

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Sunday Reading

Back to teacher training tomorrow, after an excellent, relaxing, and productive break. With many books!


Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. OH MY GOD there was a freaking MORAL. Man, I'm so annoyed about that. Bella revealed herself to be GRATE and then you continue the charade? Not cool, John! Not cool, Boffins! But the good people ended happily and the wicked unhappily; that is what fiction means.

Also, I was reading an electronic copy, and then I spotted a beautifully bound and truly ENORMOUS paper version in a bookshop and was mightily impressed with myself.

Courtesans, Katie Hickman. Continued as delightfully to the end. Highly recommended if you want to know what English and French demimonde ladies were up to and the societal norms they exploited and flouted during the long 19th century. (ETA: Historical accuracy apparently not a high point, but entertaining nonetheless!)


The Coldest Girl in Cold-Town, Holly Black. Holly is SO good at writing girls who are angry and damaged and proud and dangerous. I can't wait to see where Tana's going.

Cold Steel, Kate Elliot. CAT! BEE! RORY! VAI! Also, politics, magic, revolution, gender, power, control, freedom, and sport. Which are awesome! But let's face it, I'm a character reader, and I love the hell out of those four. If any of them die, I'm going to sulk for days.


Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein. Y'all, don't tell me a THING.

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Sunday Reading That Is Actually On A Tuesday And Also I Skipped The Last... SEVEN Weeks? Oh, Self.

It's holidays! There was one week where I did a lot of sleeping and making pancakes for breakfast at 2pm and replaying Mass Effect 2 in order to seduce Thane this time (important). And cleaning my room. My lord, it is clean.

The other week, I am halfway through. I went home to Oamaru, where I have been fed and warmed. I have been writing, internets! Writing! I love it! Killing people with science!

Anyhow, a partial list of what I remember:


The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson.

Blew my freaking mind. Teenage artist June is trying to win a competition that is one of the few ways a young person like her can get recognition in her rigidly controlled futuristic Brazilian city. But her association with best friend Gil and the charismatic, brilliant, and doomed Summer King Enki might end up changing much more than her personal future. Art! Sex! Politics! Class! Privilege! Technology! Bitter and petty teenage emotions that are so damn real. Worldbuilding! SUMMER KINGS. You should go and read this right now, that's why I put it first. It's really, really good.

The Chaos, Nalo Hopkinson.

I LOVE talented heroines. Like June, who is a great artist, and Scotch, who is an excellent dancer. Anyway, Scotch's biggest concerns are some family drama about her brother going to jail and having to conceal her real clothing and sex choices from her parents, and also whether she might be going crazy. And these are big concerns! But then a volcano erupts in Toronto and everything goes super weird and now she has to worry about Baba Yaga and her chicken house and a big black tarry monster called Spot and her brother has disappeared ON TOP of the other stuff. Jeez. Awesome speculative YA.

Foreigner, CJ Cherryh.

LET US DISCUSS CULTURE SHOCK AND THE PERILS OF INTERSPECIES COMMUNICATION FOR 300 PAGES AND IT WILL ACTUALLY BE TOTALLY INTERESTING, HOW DOES SHE DO THAT? Although I really didn't like the sectional nature of the prologuey bit - I half thought the whole book was going to be these short vignettes, and was so relieved when it settled into the story.

Invader, CJ Cherryh.

I could get over the introspection real quick, but I love how, at the same time Cherryh makes me go, "AWWWW JAGO I LIKE JAGO" I am constantly reminded that Jago doesn't have a concept of "like" and my feels would confuse and irritate her.

P.S. Jago is my favourite, and then Isildi. Bren stop talking to yourself. I hear that later in the series there is an avedi-central PoV, that sounds interesting.

Orleans, Sherri L Smith.

Fen, one of the residents of a hurricane-torn and Delta Fever-struck Orleans that has been cut off from the USA for decades, had a good tribe and a good life. Until the blood hunters came, and she was stuck with a newborn who didn't yet have the Delta Fever in her blood and might be able to get over the Wall - WITH the help of naive Outer States scientist Daniel, who is such an idiot. INCREDIBLE worldbuilding. Not convinced I like the ending, though ask me again tomorrow.


Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. I didn't think I liked Dickens, but it turns out I like this just fine. I was eyerolling through the first part being all, "oh and at the end we'll learn the Secretary is actually the lost heir bleh bleh bleh" but then it was revealed! Nice plotting, Dickens! Also Lizzie and Bella should run away together y/y? Although I wouldn't want Eugene to be sad. I like Eugene, who is very much of the "... feelings? I has them?" mode.

Courtesans, Katie Hickman. (Non-fiction, not like me). Ladies of the 18th and 19th century, no better than they should be, but much better off than many. I love this entertaining and source-rich look at the lives, finances, and weirdly contradictory independence of women of the English and French demi-monde. Little bit of psychological reading of the "Surely she must have felt" mode, but most biographical detail relies on sources, not mind-reading.

Tam Lin, Pamela Dean. It's about that time again. Yaaaay, magical college hijinks! Yaaaaaay, joy of reading!

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(no subject)

Hello, Internets!

I of course must respect the privacy of my students, so I don't talk about them directly here, or much about what I do with them (and wouldn't even if I had the time!) but I think professional conduct allows me to say this:

Today we were doing a creative writing lesson on writing an action scene. I gave the students this for an example:

At the soft scrape of a bare foot on stone , Luisa whirled.

The Grey Man stood directly behind her, reaching for her throat. Luisa didn’t waste a second. She took one step forward, lifting her knee sharply. Her tensed foot snapped up. Too late! With the speed of a snake, the Grey Man caught her ankle and yanked.

Luisa went down hard, the gritty rock of the clifftop scraping her hands and knees raw. She tasted blood in her mouth and felt the sharp pain of a bitten tongue. With a monumental effort, she forced herself back to her feet. The Grey Man was waiting. Watching.

“Give me the stone,” he said, his voice soft and sibiliant. “The secret stone. Give it to me.”

Luisa risked a look over her shoulder. The ocean below was rough, the sharp rocks jagged teeth. And there were predators in the water.

But none of those were as dangerous as the creature that blocked her exit.

No safe way past him. The only way out was down.

With her heart pounding in her chest, thumping against the stone in her pocket, Luisa turned on her heel and fled. Towards the edge of the cliff.

She felt a tug at her hair, but she wrenched free and leapt. For a breathless moment, she felt suspended in air, flying past the startled gulls who screamed their displeasure.

Then, she fell.

"What happens next?" they wanted to know.

"You tell me!" I said merrily, and set them brainstorming, planning, and drafting.

I think Luisa dies in about half the stories. 14 year olds LOVE gore.

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Sunday Reading II

New school placement! Very exciting, very different. So many new names to learn!

Naturally, I have caught the latest round of plague. Apparently, new teachers (and teacher trainees) had better just resign themselves to regularly getting sick in the first couple years of practice. I have occupied the weekend in 1) writing mentorship first thing Saturday* 2) laundry and 3) sitting on the couch/in my bed, feeling extremely sorry for myself.

Never mind, self, reading over the past week!


The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne Valente. Deeeeelightful. I particularly like the differences between childish heartlessness and teenage raw hearts, and the ethical quandaries of selfhood and autonomy.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson. A re-read, as it happens, but this is the novel I am/will be teaching in two classes, much as I taught The Hunger Games in my last placement. I knew my writing would be useful to me as a teacher, but I wasn't quite expecting, "we're going to study future-set YA exploring the ethics of violence, power, humanity and medical advancement! Do you know anything about that, perchance?" It's nice to feel useful.

Dirty Little Secrets, C.J. Omololu. Child of hoarder has managed to conceal the circumstances in which she lives from almost everyone, but when you have a great bestie and a guy who seems to be interested, it's really hard to keep your dirty little secrets from coming to light. Stark and subtle in turns, with some lovely psychological reasoning.

Also, some really great cleaning descriptions for people into that kind of thing, which is definitely me. If you're the sort of person who likes to read UfYH because descriptions of people cleaning their places and restoring order are soothing, I would recommend this book. Or even if you're another sort of person. But if you DO like the cleaning stuff, definitely grab it.


Thud!, Terry Pratchett. Another re-read, in snatches on the bus to and from school. I like it very much.


Dirty Little Secrets, C.J. Omololu.

My TBR piles are disturbingly high, so I may have to institute a no buy rule until I've restored them to a reasonable height. Or at least a single pile.

* I don't think I've talked about that? I mentor a couple of adult writers who are doing some interesting YA work. It's fun.

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Sunday Reading I

Over the last week! I read some stuff! Lists.


Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead, Richard Kadrey. I picked up the first one of these at a friend's house and borrowed it because Holly Black had blurbed it. Then I bought the second ebook. Good choices, self! Fast-reading, tough-talking, no-time-for-emoting-I-gotta-kill-people-and-or-bodyguard-Lucifer-and-or-save-the-city stuff in a grimy, gaudy LA.

Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick, Courtney Sina Meredith. Holy shit. Incredible volume of poetry, I can't even, so many feels. Read it, preferably out loud.

A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar. Nnnngh, pretty words about words. I love books about the pleasure of reading, particularly ones that also have fascinating magic and spooky spirits and awesome mysticism and politics and omg it's also a travelogue? And a bibliography for works that don't exist? Anyway, recommended reading for people who love reading.


The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne Valente. September! I missed you! You're a delight! Valente's adult prose, while lush and gorgeous, is occasionally so ornate it throws me out of the story. This isn't a problem with her more accessible fables, which are incredibly charming.


Oh, Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival. Thanks for hosting me! Damn you for having so many books there. I managed to limit myself to three:

Ancestry, Albert Wendt. (I accidentally walked into the wrong green room and found myself face to face with a total legend. I made noises with my mouth! Some of them were sentences!)
When Water Burns, Lani Wendt Young.
Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick, Courtney Sina Meredith.

From Auckland bookstores:

Auto Da Fay, Fay Weldon's autobio.
Extra-curricular, a magazine thingy about creative types in New Zealand that I bought at random from a shop that was so cute I couldn't walk out without something. It's a sickness.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne Valente.

From Book Depository:

The Chaos, Nalo Hopkinson.

I start my next teaching placement tomorrow. I have determined that Sundays are going to be devoted to a) laundry b) reading all the things.

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How it goes.

What does my learning how to be a teacher entail? It looks like this:

Weeks 1-3: Center block!

Seminars (behaviour management, planning and assessment prep, collaborative learning workshops, etc etc - practical teacher knowledge)

Academic bids (we research in pairs or groups and then present our findings in order to demonstrate understanding - academic teacher knowledge we can put into practice)

Weeks 4-9: Teaching placement!

We're in a school, teaching. I was teaching a full class on my second day in my last school. It was awesome. And terrifying. But also awesome.

"Teaching" involves planning, assessment, resource preparation, involvement in school life, professional conduct and contributions with your senior colleagues, meeting attendance, club activities, and the part where you actually have a classroom with a bunch of students in it who need to learn something.

While teaching, we get observation, feedback and consultation.

Observation and feedback happen whether we want it or not - tutors come in and watch us work, note down the things we're doing great and the things we need to work on, and then tell us. It's up to us whether we listen. You can bet I listen.

Consultation is us actively seeking help or advice - "Homg what is a unit plan and how do I use pre-assessment to help create one?" "I need some literacy activities for my Year 9s; resource tips?" "How do I differentiate learning in a class where I have high achievers and kids with a lot of learning needs?" And so on. Different questions, depending on our classes and our experiences.

Week 10: Bidding week!

All that teaching we just did? We reflect on it. For pages and pages and pages, assessing whether we hit the criteria, what we'll need to do next time to get them, etc etc. Word count isn't actually important, but just to give you an indicator of the amount of labour involved: In the last bidding week I wrote ~14 000 words in five days. (Actually, I wrote 14k in four days and then my hands stopped working, thanks RSI). This was on the low side - some people did closer to 30k.

Week 11-12: SLEEP.

Or in my case, line edits. BUT ALSO LOTS OF SLEEP and also lots of pleasure reading and baking and Mass Effect. Shep/Garrus, all the way.

Right now we're in the center block, doing academic work. So when Roomie Matt comes home, it's usually to this:

Me: *slightly glazed* Matt! Do you want me to teach you about the social, educational and political development of Maori since 1840 in terms of the Treaty of Waitangi?

Matt: Not... right now.

Me: I MADE A TIMELINE. Also, if you would like to learn about how tikanga can be practiced in the classroom, I found some great resources!

Matt: Good for you!

Me: How about the rationale for including Classical Studies as a social science?

Matt: How about, instead of that, you take a nap?


It is an intense course. It is a great course. I am really happy I'm doing it, and I'm learning so much, all the time.

But that's why I'm not blogging much this year.

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Karen At Conversation In The Bookstore, Frequently With Herself.

"So many white dudes. I want the new Karen Lord, L, L, no. Um, I wonder if… no, this is sci-fi, where's YA. Sherri Smith, I think? Yeah, Flygirl, Smith. S, s, s, no! What do I have to do get Orleans? Or the new Seanan McGuire?*"

"Lili! Gotta read Lili. Oh, and the Steampunk anthology! Dylan's in that, he sent me his story, I haven't read it yet, I suck, what else is in it? Oh, this looks fun. Holly, and Libba, and ooh, comics! Look, Matt, look! Comics! Yeah, I'm getting this. Lili's Love-Shy, and Dylan's steampunk."

"Oh, Among Others! This book is about how reading makes life bearable even when it's not. It's about a girl who - her twin died, and she's in a boarding school and becoming a sexual being and she reads a lot of science fiction and fantasy I think it's the sixties? Also, fairies. Different fairies, it's good."

*stabs viciously at author's name on spine* "This guy… this guy, okay, no, I was at a thing with him once, no, no way, no."

"Hello! I would like to buy these books, and also I wrote this one, would it be all right with you if I signed it? Thank you! I like your nail polish."

*points to Villette* "Matt, this book is amazing. You read it, and at the end you're like, why is everything? That's my review. Don't read it, though."

* Turns out I had to hit up the Book Depository. I still love you, Book Depository.

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