Friday, October 28, 2016

TY Book Recommendations

Today we head off on half-term. No better time to grab books and catch up on reading. And here are two recommendations by Transition Year pupils who have been reading for their Extended Essays (to be written after the break).

Toby Green on Q & A by Vikas Swarup (the basis of the film Slumdog Millionaire)
"This book is about a boy who wins a quiz show in India. He is then sued by the corrupt company for 'cheating'. He explains to his lawyer about he knew the answer to each question by recounting a part of his life story. This is a good book to use because he meets many people and has many different types of relationships with them. You can also dip into the life of a poor orphan boy in India and the horrors people can do to each other. I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it."

Anna Bofferding on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:
"I would recommend it, because the author has a very intimate style of writing, which makes it very gripping and interesting. To understand the story fully you have to imagine yourself inside the main charcters Nick and Amy and try to understand why they did what they did.

The storyline is also very gripping, because it completely changes once you get to a certain point and this makes you want to read it on. I have experienced with many other novels that I got bored of them after a while, but because of this transformation of the plot, it keeps you up all night reading.
It is set in our time, which makes it easy to understand the background. Amy is a seemingly lovely woman, who marries Nick and they move to his hometown together. On their fifth anniversary she suddenly disappears and the police and bystanders start thinking he murdered her.  You find out bit by bit that she had planned it all and disappeared herself. The opinions of the readers start changing at this point, going from pity to hate. The disappearance and revenge on her husband doesn't go as planned, so she goes to an old friend, fakes a rape and murders him, coming home as a hero, who saved herself from a monster.

When you find out, that Nick is cheating on his wife, the opinion of him changes negatively, too, but after all he is the real victim of the story."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

TY recommendation: 'Around the World in Eighty Days'

Santi Puelles Hernando has been reading a classic, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, and recommends it:

"This interesting book tells us about an English gentleman, Phileas Fogg, who attempts to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a 2 million wager, set by his friends at the Reform Club. For that reason, Phileas Fogg travels through various countries such as India, Japan, USA…

However, a Scotland Yard detective follows him all around the world thinking he is a bank robber, so he tries to arrest him in various occasions, but he will never achieve his purpose. At the end, Phileas Fogg wins the wager.

 This amusing, exciting, interesting and, why not - funny - plot, as well as the incredible way in which Jules Verne describes the story, make this book one of the most interesting and best ones I have ever read.  All that happens in the story is described with much detail and precision: you could even think that Phileas Fogg is the writer of the book. For all of this reasons I thoroughly recommend you to read this book at least once in your life. I assure you that you will not get bored while reading probably one of the best books ever written in the whole History of Literature."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

TY recommendation: 'The Beautiful and Damned'

Claire Schuijt is reading Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned for her TY Extended Essay, and writes:
"This book is set in the beginning of the twentieth century in New-York. It is about a man called  Anthony Patch who is the grandson of a wealthy business man. Anthony embraces the city as well as he can by having many dates with women until he meets Gloria, his future wife. There he falls madly in love with her, and Gloria with Anthony. They’re leading the perfect life.

I am enjoying this book because it is very carefully written and it gives some depth about how New York was at the beginning of the twentieth century. The book is a classy love story about a man who thought who could never love, to be proven wrong. I do recommend this book not just because of the story line but also because of the depiction of New York; it pulls you back in time as if you were experiencing this yourself.

I am glad that I chose this book since it is not something I usually read but it is a style of writing that I will gladly read again. Fitzgerald is a talented author. I chose this book since I had read another one of his books and I really enjoyed that one. The book has amazing description which brings out your vivid imagination. I would strongly recommend The Beautiful And Damned."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TY Extended Essay recommendations 1

It's at this time of the year that we post short recommendations by TY pupils of books they are reading for their Extended Essays, and this is the first such post this autumn:

Caspar Schuelenberg recommends All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque:

"I cannot 'recommend' this book, because it is not a mere book. It is a Portrait. A Portrait of the most terryfing and most complex War ever fought.  It is neither a genuinely nice portrait, nor is it very artistic. It is just painfully true. The everyday life of German soldiers in the trenches, where the constant present of death and anxiety turns them into dull and forlorn entities, is authentically and downright mercilessly depicted by Remarque, who transformed his gruesome memories and experiences of the war into written words, in this haunting and highly recommendable Portrayal.

Ross Magill recommends a very different book, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins:
"I'd recommend this novel simply because it is a good mystery/thriller. The author's style of writing and sense of pace are good. The characters are well written and some are relatable.  The location is familiar (to me at least); it's set in a town north of London where the main character takes a train to London each day.  In terms of story the book is good. It leaves you wanting to read more and to know what happens next. It has a surprising twist which is always good in a mystery novel."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Transition Year House Speeches 2016

Pol Casas Abella from Fourth Form reviews the annual TY House Speech competition:

On Sunday 2nd October, all the college had the privilege of hearing 10 magnificent speeches from the Transition Year  forth formers. The judges were Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Watts, and Henry Carroll, who was awarded third place in last year's event. Above all, I want to say that (before commenting on their respective performances) every single participant deserves respect. We all know that what they did was not an easy task. However, this pressure didnt seem to the participants; almost every one of them had great enunciation, adopted an effective variety of tone of voice and looked very confident on stage.

Caspar Schulenberg opened up the night's entertainment with his speech based on satire. He gave his opinion on what he enjoyed about this topic, highlighted some examples to make us understand what he said, and emphasised the things that he would change to make satire even better. I thought that the speech was worthy of being placed  as one of the top three, due to both the confidence that he showed and the content that he offered. A lot of people would like to have his public speaking gifts.

Then it was Isabelle Townshend's moment to shine. Her speech was very interesting due to the fact that 9/11 is a subject that Im passionate about. Moreover, she talked about it in a singular manner, defending a conspiracy theory that most people are sceptical about. I think that she was very bold in choosing to speak about her controversial topic, but at the same time she had a lot of facts supporting it.

After Isabelle came Ross Magill. I must mention the great tone of voice that Ross had. He looked very confident and comfortable while speaking. At the same time, he managed to be very funny (if not hilarious) and made the audience have a great time. I absolutely agreed with the second place that was awarded to this performance.

Catherine Butt was next. This student is in my English set and therefore I already knew my thoughts on her speech before she started talking. Anyway, I loved the way that she described and referred to her mother. It was the perfect mixture between tenderness and realism.

When Catherine finished, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu started speaking. From my point of view, he was the highlight of the night. Why? Because his speech had all the requirements needed for winning success: passion, well-memorised, an engaging subject and even acting while delivering the speech. This performance definitely had all these points. Honestly, I was surprised when I found out that he hadnt won. (This is of course without taking merit from the actual winner).

Joel Taylor kept all the audience involved in the event thanks to his polemical speech based on anti-feminism. As he said, its better to defend what we think and the truth, rather than being politically correct. That is why I admired his performance, although he shouldnt have used any notes, and nor did he need them.

Now its time to talk about the winner: Anna Laurenceau. Some people, like me or even herself, were surprised at the choice. However, later on I had the chance to think about it and I could understand it. Talking about soccer with the passion that she did being a female, is an unusual occurrence. Even though she forgot some tiny parts of what she had to say during the performance, she was able to recover from these mistakes and this culminated in a great speech.

Ted Johnson decided to pick Space and the human achievements made thereas his topic. I know (almost for sure) that if he had memorised his speech properly, now we would be talking about one of the most remarkable speeches of the event. Unluckily, this was not the case and, although  significant and interesting research had been done his problems on stage delivering it from memory faltered too often and this made the speech sound less prepared worse than it actually was.

Then the next participant started his speech off with one word. Cancer. This is how Greg Kryukov kicked off his performance, and how he got all our attention; by saying the name of what he was going to talk about. It sounded simple, but I thought that it was a really smart move from him. In addition, he talked about all the must-mention facts surrounding the disease.

To finish off the event, Josephine Krieger spoke about the other side of JoelTaylors topic. Feminism. She defended her reasons very well, and made us all understand some of the wider issues of sexism nowadays.

In conclusion Iona won the overall prize. Anna Laurenceau won as an individual with Ross Magill and Harry Oke-Osanyintolu in joint second place. I and everyone agreed that all the speakers made an incredible effort that resulted in, as Mr. McCarthy said, one of the best House Speeches in a long time.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Patrick Kavanagh Award

Yesterday Tania Stokes from Third Form was presented with her third prize in the Junior section of the annual national Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. Her poem, Metaphorest, is below. Pictured, Tania and the other winners with the poet and adjudicator Noel Monaghan.

Many congratulations!

'Metaphorest' by Tania Stokes

The springtime garden was in bloom,
Pansies and cosmos, tulips and roses,
Ivy clambering up the trellis.
Purples, pinks and whites and yellows
Surrounded me, as I sat on the deck.
The sunlight filtered through the eucalyptus
And I used to go to far-off places;
I could sometimes hear the sea.

One day, you floated here on the breeze,
Planting yourself into my life.
The garden was never quite the same
Once you began to spread,
Your brambles tangling, choking the competition.
Shadows fell over the house,
As you rose up to dominate it all,
Holding me in your thorny grasp.

You had taken over completely.

The wind changed, come Autumn
When you blossomed into something richer.
You finally brought forth your sweetness,
As ripe blackberries sprung up everywhere.
Each one was a memory full of flavour,
And as we shared them, I knew
That you had taken root in my heart.

'Irish Times' article

Greetings to visitors who have arrived here prompted by Peter McGuire's Irish Times guide on online study aids. As the article says, for ten years this site has gathered resources for studying English at different levels, including our own revision podcasts, video analyses, pupil essays, book recommendations and more, such as articles of interest. We've also published our own books.

TY House Speeches 2016

Last night the annual TY House Speeches took place in the BSR. We'll have a pupil report here in the coming days.

Congratulations to the winner, Anna Laurenceau, who spoke about corruption in football, followed by (equal second) contrasting speeches by Ross Magill (his travels in Japan) and Harry Oke-Osanyintolu (depression).

Pictured, the speakers after the event.