Another one for the College mums!

I have had amazing feedback from College mums everywhere – the sidelines of the football field, New World Supermarket…as to how much they enjoy my blog. So here is my second one purely for the mothers of our darling boys. Now you just have to get said boys to make you a cuppa whilst you put your feet up in the school holidays and read.

I have been in temporary accommodation for the last eight weeks – feels like a lifetime of being stuck in a show box. The result is, I have read a lot.

I started by reading The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. The plot centres around a newly married couple  who live totallyScreen Shot 2014-06-24 at 9.59.39 AM isolated on Janus Rock – off the coast of Western Australia, half a day’s journey from the shore. The protagonist, Tom Sherbourne is lighthouse keeper. One April morning a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and an infant. They make the decision to keep the baby and therein lies the mystery. This is a moving story about love and longing for a child and about good people and what happens when they make a bad decision.


“Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel. Sometimes it just bites right through you. And sometimes, just when you think it’s done its worst, it comes back and takes another chunk.”

It is descriptive and gorgeously written in the way that only Aussies can – think Tim Winton.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.33.41 AMA teacher at school recommended The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. I could just say  – sigh – what a remarkable narrative. It is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate. I was delighted with Clara the clairvoyant and fell in love with the rebel boy Pedro. If you are a fan of Spanish writing and magical realism with a bit of quirkiness thrown in, then this is a must read. It is layered, it is complex, and beautiful. It is the story of three generations of strong women, in a world where women are not supposed to be strong.


I then moved swiftly onto Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is a much quicker read – in fact I read it in about Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.13.57 AMthree days. However, this is partly because after I had got used to the writer’s style, (it feels a bit YA at times), I simply had to get to the end and find out what had happened to the wife. Nick Dunne’s wife, Amy, disappears on their 5th wedding anniversary. Obviously, the police think the husband has something to do with it. But it is not as simple as that, for one thing there is no dead body. This book is fun – a mystery/crime with a few laughs. It is certainly not high literature but great for the beach and it takes you on some clever twists and turns along the way.


Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.31.54 PMAt the moment I am just coming to the end of The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield. It was first published in 1933 and is a based on the real life of a upper middle class lady who has literary aspirations.  I don’t normally like diary type books. But think of this as the original blogger.  The writing is delightful –  scattered, chatty, with often wry observations on her husband (perpetually hidden behind The Times), two children, nanny (“Mademoiselle”) and the line-up of village ladies that she is quite rude about. Her accounts of the daily doings, struggles with money and her perpetually sick children is the most humourous book that I have read in years. Delafield presents quite a dark take on British country life that makes me wish that I lived in Devon in the 1930’s.

Notice, and am gratified by, appearance of large clump of crocuses near the front gate. Should like to make charming and whimsical reference to these, and to fancy myself as ‘Elizabeth of the German Garden’, but am interrupted by Cook saying that the Fish is here, but he’s only brought cod and haddock, and the haddock doesn’t smell too fresh, so what about cod?”

It is a naturally satirical work that had me laughing out loud at the fate of the winter bulbs but saddened at her sorrow each time her son goes back to boarding school. (Who can resist owning a book with such a beautiful cover!)

My July reading list:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – written from a dogs perspective

Perfect and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry both by Rachel Joyce – because everyone has been reading them and I feel like I am missing out…

A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler – the story of the woman behind F.Scott Fitzgerald. (I am secretly hoping for lots of scandal.)

Lisa Trundley-Banks

Teacher Librarian







Two Apps to help you RESEARCH

The spotlight is still on research this term and it is great to see so many boys in the library looking for information. Research into any topic can be either a journey of discovery that keeps you fascinated as you learn more and more or it can be an overwhelming task where you sift through thousands of websites trying to find what you need. You then lose that one vital piece of data as you have so many tabs open!

So here are two tools to help you on your journey.

Carrot2 is an Open Source Search Results Clustering Engine. It can automatically organize (cluster) search results into thematic categories. This is particularly useful you are starting your search – whatever the subject or topic. They are presented with sub topics which can help you search more efficiently and effectively, it provides keywords for you to then go on and use for more refined searching. I love it because it provides less information in an organised way. This has got to be a good thing for boys!


Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 2.08.00 PM Here is an examples of how it ‘clusters’ into themes.  The ‘search’ is  John F Kennedy’s assassination.


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This is a visual representation of a how Carrot2 clusters information.

Excellent for visual learner!


The second tool is OneTab – an excellent little app Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 2.09.16 PMthat sits as an icon in the top right-hand corner of your browser.It quite simply saves all the tabs that you have open as a list, you can give the list a name and hey presto – your search is saved forever. I am so going to use this app the next time I book a holiday!

Lisa Trundley-Banks