I’m Moving!

I am combining my two current blogs to make a bigger and better blog! It’s called Meralei, which is a Greek word that means to do something with soul – to put something of yourself into your work.

There will be a part of this blog dedicated to all things reading and books, while the majority stream of posts will be more general. Check it out at meralei.wordpress.com.au!

Thanks for all your support and I hope to see you over at my new address!

Love,

Zenia.

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40 Hour Famine 2014

Hello! Todays post isn’t reading related, but it is very important to me and I wanted to share this with you, as well as ask for your support.

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This weekend – from the 15th to the 17th of August – I will be participating in the 40 Hour Famine. This is a period of 40 hours where I, along with thousands of others across Australia (and the rest of the world), will be giving up something/s important to me.

I am giving up public transport*, technology and food.

*I take the train and tram to school every single day – but this Friday, after-school, instead of taking a 50 minute train ride home, I will be walking at least half way from school to my house. This is around 20 kilometres.**

This is run by World Vision who use the money raised from this fundraiser to help children and their families to rise above the poverty line, to gain education and to become well nourished and grow. This year, through 40 Hour Famine, World Vision is focusing on Rwanda. There are many shocking statistics (Hunger related diseases and malnourishment cause up to 60% of deaths in children under the age of 5 in Rwanda) that emphasise the poverty and malnourishment present in this African country, but it is important to remember the humans behind these numbers. I can show you so many photos of children in rags, ribs poking through their skin and a look of despair etched into their face. That is one aspect of the reality. But we have to remember that children have so much hope in them – for themselves and for others. We have to perpetuate that hope by reaching out and helping them grow to places that sadly, faith alone cannot take you. The 40 Hour Famine is one way of doing exactly this.40 hour famine time1

Did you know $40 can help feed a family of 6 for 1 month? Not only do World Vision provide people with food, but they give those in need tools – useful gifts that can help the people in Rwanda help themselves grow as a community and as humans in this ever-changing world. In the past they have given people farming tools, lessons in business and investment, animals, etc. 

I want to ask you to sponsor me as I take on the challenge of giving up three very dominant aspects of my life. Through donating to the 40 Hour Famine, you aren’t only giving money to provide meals for a month or so – you are investing in the future of those who never chose to go without food, or education, or money, but were born into these circumstances. 

**Here’s a link to the newspaper article about my school’s ‘brother-school’ doing the walk-a-thon. We are joining them, but the article seems ignorant to this fact. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/central/melbourne-high-students-take-a-long-walk-home-as-part-of-40-hour-famine/story-fngnvlpt-1227018058989

And here is my sponsorship page: https://40hf2014.everydayhero.com/au/zenia-v

World Vision makes it incredibly easy for you to go donate to my Famine! You can donate as much or as little as you’d like; each and every dollar counts!

If you have any questions about World Vision or the 40 Hour Famine or the situation in Rwanda, please feel free to contact me!

Love,

Zenia.

WWW Wednesday (catch up post!)

Wow it has been the longest time since my last post – and I am so, so sorry for disappearing! I want to dive straight back into blogging with a WWW!

What I’m currently reading:

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City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare

The last chapter of the Mortal Instruments Series! I am 100 pages in, and I love the fast paced nature of this book. There have already been new characters introduced, as well as lots of links to previous events and people. I am hooked onto the story, though some of Clare’s writing quirks kind of annoy me. I will write more on this in my spoiler-free review, after I finish the book!

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A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones, the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and the prequel to this book, was pretty amazing. It took me a very long time to read, as my interest faltered and spiked randomly, but the last 200-300 pages had me reading well into the night. I can see a similar thing happening with this book – I have been stuck on the first 50 pages for about a month now, even though I am very interested in the story. George R. R. Martin writes very well, but the slow paced nature isn’t working for me at the moment.

What I recently finished reading:

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Let It Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

Exactly what it looks like: a cutesy romantic teen novel! Three different cute stories written by three different authors – but they all intervene and seeing the end result of this is really, here it is again: cute! It’s a light, quick read – but nothing special, in my opinion. I do thank this book for gifting me with the knowledge of teacup pigs! 🙂

What I think I’ll read next:

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Life Without Limits, by Nick Vujicic

This book was given to me by a friend, and as I’ve heard of Nick Vujicic and his motivational work, I was quite excited to read his autobiography. I started it, and quickly realised this book is written with a heavy bias for the Christian religion and God. It gets quite overwhelming when nearly every single page mentions God, His plan and blessings. I will finish this novel, though, as I am truly fascinated with Vujicic’s optimism in life.

Again, sorry for the disappearance – hopefully I’ll be posting regularly now!

Happy reading,

Zee 🙂

Post 1. Welcome!

Hi guys! My sister, Sam, is currently in India with her friend, Savini. They are in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in the city of Kadapa, volunteering at a home for girls who have been victimised by gendercide. They recently started a blog to document their journey and to spread awareness of the gender discrimination issues in India and other countries.

I am inspired by what Sam and Savini are doing, and what they have to share, and I know that if you are willing to take the time to read their posts, you will be too.

Girls With Wings

Thank you for taking the time off to read this blog. Savini and I are currently in Kadapa, in a state called Andhra Pradesh, India, volunteering at a very special home.

India is a land housing over a billion people. It boasts rich traditions, cultures and history – one with hundreds of gods, many different languages and various religions. Despite its overwhelming growth in economics, business and real estate; its successful Bollywood industry and recent metropolisation, India has not yet completely done justice to the girl child.

Gendercide, gender discrimination, feticide, abortions, are only a few words, which have repeated themselves in numerous documentaries and articles on this global issue. It was a concept new to us back then, but now we understand how powerless a girl/woman’s existence can be. Gendercide, defined as “the systematic extermination of a particular gender,” has become widespread in India. With the use of…

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WWW Wednesday [27th November]

What I’m currently reading:

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Insurgent, by Veronica Roth 

Loved, loved, loved the first book in the series, Divergent, as you can tell in my review of it! I can tell this will be a good sequel; hopefully it doesn’t disappoint!

AND 

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The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James 

I am reading this for the next school year. I like reading my school novels a few times, so first I’ll read it for myself, then once or twice for school. Sounds like a good psychological thriller!

What I recently finished reading:

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Evan Burl and the Falling, by Justin Blaney

This book was alright. It had quite a few things that I didn’t like, but also a couple of aspects which I enjoyed. Look out for my review, which will be up soon!

What I think I’ll read next:

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Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

The last instalment in the Divergent trilogy! I’m sure once I finish Insurgent, I won’t be able to wait to start this one!

I’d love to know what you’re reading this fine spring/summer! Link your WWW Wednesday post in the comments section!

Happy reading,

Z.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

8306857Release date: April 25th 2011

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Number of pages: 487 (Hardcover edition)

Genre: Dystopian

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
MY REVIEW
I love dystopians, and this is one of the best of the kind that I have read! The book is  fast paced, has a unique world and strong characters. The story flows smoothly and the writing is captivating.
The protagonist and narrator, Tris, is strong-willed and it was quite an enjoyable experience learning about the Divergent world through her eyes. Her personality is realistic, which makes her relatable, even though the dystopian world she is in is quite different to our reality. I don’t want to give too much away about the other characters, but I tell you that some are fun, some are cunning, some are infuriating, and all of them are unique and relatable.
I am very fascinated with the way this dystopian world works. The people are segregated by what value they believe can rid the world of ‘evil’ and can bring peace for a perfect civilisation. It’s almost how we, in real life, are part of groups that support what we think is right in terms of religion, governing, etc.  It makes you think about which faction you would choose if you had to; would you leave you family to be with people who believe in the same values as you?
I am hoping that there is more history of this world explained in the sequels. I would love to learn about the beginnings of this society and the founders and initial thoughts and ideas. The society in Divergent seems so straight-forward and well thought out – like humans really could live in a perfect world. But, and I am paraphrasing Tris’s mother’s words when I say: humans always find ways to screw things up.
There are many themes in this book, including: courage, family, friends and love. All of this is weaved tactfully into the main storyline. The abundant amount of themes, alongside the action, drama and world-building, is what makes this book one that I could reread multiple times. Each time you come back, I imagine that you’d take more and more away. I’m trying to think of negatives, but that’s hard knowing that there are sequels that will probably make up for what’s missing in this novel; which is a lack of detail and information on how the society works and the history of it all.
If you are a fan of dystopia and haven’t already picked up this book, go do that now. It’s a must read for all young adult fiction readers! Even if you don’t like dystopian books, I urge to try this one out. It’s quite easy to read because of its fast pace and fascinating settings.

MY RATING

Characters: 2/2

Plot: 2/2

Writing style: 1/1

This book definitely deserves the extra 2 points! A very unique idea with strong aspects.

7/5
Happy reading,
Z.
(Sorry about no spaces between the paragraphs. Experiencing some difficulties with WordPress.)

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4671Release date: September 30th 2004 (first published 1925)

Publisher: Scribner

Number of pages: 180

Genre: Fiction/ Drama

Jay Gatsby is a self-made man famed for his decadent, champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island’s bright and beautiful, he longs only for Daisy Buchanan.

MY REVIEW

This is my favourite classic I have read so far. The Great Gatsby is thought-provoking, without being complex-  it has a simple narrative structure. This is a novel that doesn’t force symbols and metaphors and life messages onto you – you have to take up the responsibility as a reader to find out what the author has tried to impart in his words, and also what he hasn’t.

I liked how there were some characters that you really hated, and some that you liked and some that you loved – though I think there were less characters in this novel that I loved than the ones I just liked or hated. The narrator, Nick Carraway is quite neutral – making a good story teller. I really like Jay Gatsby, and his gift for hope.  Gatsby is admirable and annoyingly elusive at the same time. Tom Buchanan – don’t get me started on him. He is so hate-able, and I really did dislike his character. Not in the way that he was not well-written, but in the way that Fitzgerald made him to be the way he was for the purposes of the narrative. Daisy Buchanan – beautiful and quite wise. I, like many others, love what she says to Nick early on in the book: “That’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” All the characters in this book are either very real, or quite clearly exaggerated to symbolise something- for example, the consequences of being inherently rich.

The ending is completely unexpected – at least to me, it was. Like I said before, the plot is quite simple, yet still packed with revelations and events. I wasn’t bored with the plot or characters or inner monologue at any point- and I’m not even that much of a classic lover! There are some symbols that were quite evident, but I didn’t understand the meaning of. Like, what’s with the colour yellow? I still don’t understand that.

I would definitely recommend this book if you love/like classics, and even if you’re not a big fan, I urge you to try this one out. And after reading The Great Gatsby, have a look at some of John Green’s videos about the book on the Vlogbrothers channel or the Crash Course channel on YouTube. They really helped further my understanding of the novel.

MY RATING

Characters: 1.5/2

Plot: 2/2

Writing style: 1/1

I wouldn’t give this book any extra special points, even though I think it’s a pretty genius novel. (I’m harsh with my special points. (: )

4.5/5

Happy reading,

Z.