How to make a bookmark in 6 easy steps

I am a bookmark convert. 1 year ago, I barely used them, finding them annoying and easy to lose, though fun to make. I would just remember my page (or, more likely, flip through the book until I found my place). But I realised that this memorisation and flipping was adding unnecessary stress to my life and wasting time I could be spending reading. So I started using bookmarks, and I love to make them -it takes about ten minutes- and I collect them obsessively (this is because I have run out of people to give them to). The start of school last week gave me the perfect excuse to make a lovely new bookmark that I use in my assigment book/calendar thingy.

So, I’m going to teach all you unintiated newbies to bookmarks how to create glorious…pieces of paper… that you will cherish forever (or until you lose/tear/ eat them)

1. Collect your ingredients




-patterned paper

-(not pictured) decorating pens

2. Cut out the basic shape

The card I was using wasn’t very strong, so I folded it in half. Bookmarks need to fit in books (obviously) so don’t make them too wide or tall. Get a book for reference if necessary, and feel free to round the corners and play with the shape.

3. Select your nice patterned paper

I used two flower prints, and the colours clashed more than I thought that they would , but it still looked pretty nice.

step two
the pattered paper I used is in the background


4. Cut out and glue the patterned paper

Use the bookmark base as a width reference. Choose the shape and details that you want and cut carefully. I used two flower patterns.

5. Decorate with any and all pens at your disposal

Make it shimmer and shine and look interesting.DSC01998

6. You are mostly done!

Its admiring time, and time to put all the stuff away into its rightful place. Enjoy your bookmark, and have fun reading. Some extra ideas : cover the bookmark with wide sellotape so that it is more lasting, punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon, make it double sided… whatever you think will look good.

bookmark in its new home
bookmark in its new home
Warning: This process generates many paper crumbs
Warning: This process generates many paper crumbs (step three)

On Retellings ( A discussion)

I read a lot of retellings.

Case in point: In the last two weeks, I have read the books Cruel Beauty, Across a Star Swept Sea, and Sisters Red, and I am currently reading Splintered. (All of which seem excellent, by the way). All these books are retellings.

Retellings set stories in new places, and show you the characters in a different way. I am particularly partial to fairy-tale retellings (Cinder, Beauty and A Curse Dark as Gold are other examples of these) and retellings seem to be increasingly popular in YA. In this post I will talk about the value of originality, what I like about retellings, and generally fangirl (over amazing retellings, and, lets face it, their cover art which won me)

What is appealing about these retellings? Firstly, stories like classics and fairytales, no matter how wonderful they are, were told to and for a culture far different from ours. They adapt characters and places, so even if the setting (like New Pacifica) is totally different, a new understanding of the story is gained. Seeing the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a video retelling, made me understand how headstrong and courageous Lizzie was. Seeing Persis’s cunning and passion made the entire plot of the Scarlet Pimpernel relevant to me despite the stagnant language of the original (which I have not read). It also made me interested in the original works.

Secondly, the stories that are being retold are usually old. Stories that linger, whether it is Red Riding Hood or Persuasion usually have a powerful (and hopefully entertaining) message about humanity, which is why they are still there. Stories good enough to be retold are usually good stories, and the power of the message stays despite utterly different characters and settings. In Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Cinders struggle to be recognized as worthy despite being a cyborg is just as valuable as Cinderellas’ story of overcoming the prejudice of a first daughter. themes like prejudice and love and violence appear throughout literature.

The problem with retellings is originality. Is it your work if you use Lewis Carrols world? Is it your own story when someone else wrote its’ bones? In an effort to overcome this, I find that retellings are hugely original. A Curse Dark as Golds (By Elizabeth Bunce) setting in the Industrial Revolution as a woman works in a mill, For Darkness Shows the Stars (by Diana Peterfreund) tech-less dystopia, Scarlet’s (by Marissa Meyer) Fourth Era France, Ash (by Malinda Lo) and a dark fantasy world- each of these settings differs hugely from the original tale. Another example is Frank Beddors’ Looking Glass Wars, where Wonderland is fully fleshed out and card soldiers are central to the rebellion. Trying to be original means that thes works are really original and offer entire amazing perspectives on other places.

The covers of these books are TO DIE FOR.  Apart from all the amazing ideas expressed in the cover above, one of my favourite covers of all time is A Curse Dark as Gold.  The handwritten font shows that it is a fairytale, the gold is locked around her hands. and it. is. so. beautiful.  This cover, especially once you read the amazing book, just makes me happy. And all retelling covers manage to express the original story and something about the setting/characters of the book, which I love.

( I don't own any of thesecovers, btw, they belong to their respective publishers)
( I don’t own any of these covers, btw, they belong to their respective publishers)

I love retellings. I love seeing how Rosamund Hodge and Robin McKinley tell the same story differently. And I’m excited to see the difference between Alice in Wonderland, Splintered and The Looking Glass wars treat Wonderland. I like seeing how cover designers work with these ideas.  And I hope that these books continue to be written.


Mockingjay, Part One: A Conversation

Mockingjay Part One came out. Shar and I watched it. We’re going to tell you how we felt.

(picture from :url)

Shanti : First off, I am going to say that hearing Shar whimper “Finnick” for two hours was horrible. I had to remind her what happens to him. (SPOILER REDACTED)

Shar: Thanks. It’s been ages since I read it! Why would I remember the details? And he’s just so hot and nice!

Shanti : (I have a tendency to spoil people, and Shar gets the worst of it) Shar, you have to say that he’s pretty sad in this movie.However, when he was talking in the roses…MY HEART JUST DIED. The guy is a great actor and i was so happy when…something happened at the end of the movie.

Shar:vYeah that was so cute. I was happy for him. And JLaw did a really good job of being conflicted. The love triangle was even more love triangle-y than the books, if that possible. She showed it really well. And you spoil so much. Like today. Good thing I was only half listening but I’ll try not to think about it. Echoes of Us just won’t be the same for me anymore!

Shanti : You totally deserved it Should I hit you over the head with Dreams of Gods and Monsters (600 + pages)? Yeah, Katniss did a great job portraying someone who had been through so much. Even though she didn’t mean to become the Mockingjay, she is a profoundly real and in-the-moment character. It was pretty funny when she was struggling to act for propaganda. I loved the way that the propaganda videos worked within the context of the story. Sadly, they WERE the story. At least some good side characters made up for it. (Cressida’s hair…. I LOVE IT)

Shar: Yes, it was really a ‘two hour advertisement for the next movie’ and clearly just a ploy to make more money. Harry Potter, Twilight, Divergent (maybe), the Hobbit, all the franchises do it. I guess you just have to accept it but like you said before, there wasn’t much of a substantial plot to make two movies.

Shanti: Yeah, that was where this movie fell apart. It was mostly setting up scenes. There were some very moving scenes, and violence (why i need people to come with me to the movies: cuddles and telling me when to open my eyes). The violence was not sanitised in any way, nor really legitimised. But a clear us and them developed in this movie. They are bad, and its okay if  they die But the suits of the stormtroopers PeaceKeepers, removed them of their humanity along with their faces, and, while that is in the book, the role of violence is hugely against my beliefs. (Reasons 1-99 of why I love Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang. You should read it)

Shar: Shut up about it already! Yeah, I hated the violence too. But it wasn’t a complete us and them. Snow totally treats Katniss so nicely,like she’s his niece or granddaughter or something, even as he bombs the resistance or forces Peeta to give out propaganda. It’s like he can’t decide. And yes, they are exactly like stormtroopers. Just make them look different or call them that already!

Shanti: Snow  does really like Katniss. I think that its because she was the first one he couldn’t control, and he has no idea what she will do next. I said this already, but I love the side characters in this movie. Effie (it took me a few minutes to work out who she was) is hilarious. The actor who plays Coin totally understands where she is coming from, and is really amazing. Buttercup is perfectly grumpy. Cressida is awesome, like one would expect with that haircut. And all of the camera crew are brilliant. Also, Beetee is very epic. And Prim. She is much less innocent in this movie, but she takes responsibility and is compassionate and kind. I love that about Willow Shields. She is an excellent actor. I love the scenes that this movie sets up actually. the plot just didn’t quite hold together. However, all actors (at least those given names) do add quality to the film. It just needs quantity. Plot quantity.

Shar: Yes. It’s interesting how they did that. But it did give them time to establish a lot of things that they didn’t with the first movie- which was silly, if you ask me. There were some really cool shots of the District 13- which was really done well. The set was so good. And District 12- just some kind of dystopian landscape, ages, skeletons. It was really cool. But after a while the amazing set became like Tolkien’s descriptive passages- just over the top and boring. I found myself identifying all the film techniques from english class after a while- zoom in, fade, close up, dialogue, tracking shot, pan, diagetic sound, oh look, something’s happening. I guess the characters, set, and things were filling in for the lack of plot, which made it a mostly enjoyable 2-hour advertisement. They emphasised some events more that i don’t remember being important in the book, but that was a long time ago.

Shanti:  Now who’s paragraphs are long? My conclusion: the actors are amazing. The film is telling a heart breaking story and does it well. However, the breaking part of heart break means that this movie is overly long and mostly establishes the next movie. It does not stand on its’ own. It would be good if I could see both (movies) at once.

Shar:Anyway, I liked it, it was okay and all that stuff. I gasped a lot and I just can’t decide if I love Gale, Finnick or Peeta more. Afterward someone asked us if we heard the crying in the theatre, and we hadn’t but then wondered if that was us, even though we weren’t crying, because it was very exciting.I hated the violence. I would give it 3 1/2 stars.


Why I love contemporary fiction

By Shar

This is to add on to Shanti’s post last week. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary fiction. I guess I’ve become addicted to it more than other genres. When I was younger, I liked fantasy, magical books. Then came dystopian. And while I still love both these genres a lot, I think right now I mostly prefer contemporary.  in terms of YA genres my current rankings are:

1. Contemporary

2. Dystopian/ apoalypse

3. Sci-fi

4. fantasy

5. Classic? (it depends on the definition of a classic)

According to Google, contemporary is ‘living or occurring in the present’ .

Some contemporary novels I have read recently are : Zac and Mia (Aussie tfios), a little something different ( adoroable love story similar to fangirl), Love and other foreign words ( hard to describe but I think the main character’s a lot like me), the Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet (modern day Pride and Prejudice), Lola and the Boy next door (anna and the french kiss 2.0, the title is the main plot), the ZigZag effect and Falling into place (kind of like 13 reasons why, but very poignant)

Contemporary fiction is easy. The writer does not need to waste words creating new setting, new scenes, new technologies, or generally introducing foreign contexts. The setting feels familiar because we know it. It’s our own neighbourhood, our own time and place. But it doesn’t contain ordinary people. No, this is a world where things don’t just happen because of decisions. Each action fits into a higher purpose, aka the plot outline. everything fits into place. Contemporary fiction can remind us of the beauty and sweetness of real life, and that our own lives have their own plot as well. Each of our actions, and other people’s response to them, is a part of God’s purpose for us.

I like how contemporary can have characters that have limitations, mere mortals confined by boundaries that affect us too. Unlike fantastical or futuristic fiction, it is easier to empathise with characters. They are so close to our own hearts, yet achingly far away. They can inspire us to live our life differently or exactly these same. But contemporary characters can live in a completely different world. We can learn about people in hospital beds with cancer or magical european cities while lying on our couch.  So contemporary fiction can also teach us about our world, and it’s nuances. It can expose us to perspectives entirely different from our own, or expose incredible kindred spirits.

In conclusion, contemporary fiction is beautifully real, but still brings us to a different world with new characters and perspectives.