Book Review: Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen

girl missing
Girl Missing, written by Tess Gerritsen, is a fiction novel that revolves around protagonist Kat Novak. Boston medical examiner, Kat Novak goes to work one day to find an unidentified corpse laid out in her office. The cause of death is later discovered to be due to a drug overdose, an unidentified drug which hasn’t been released to the public yet. Furthermore, the only clue that the victim provides is a matchbook with a phone number in it. The number turns out to be Adam Quantrell’s, the rich CEO of a pharmaceutical company. She suspects him at first but turns out he’s just concerned that his runaway daughter Maeve is involved in drugs. With the death toll rising, Kat is convinced that the cause of death is not that simple. So along with Adam, they set out to figure out what was killing everyone.
Girl Missing, which was previously published as Peggy Sue Got Murdered is described by Tess Gerritsen as her bridge novel from romantic suspense to thriller. Rather than the usual boring plots that many books offer, the storyline of this book is original and fresh with many exciting and unpredictable situations which will keep you guessing. The story also offers a lot of action ranging from blackmailing, a fire and even a bomb that blew up almost the whole of Kat’s house! Romance between Kat Novak and Adam Quantrell also played a small but sufficient role in the story. Overall, I found the book really interesting and exciting and I really enjoyed reading it. The flow of the story was really smooth and it also kept me in suspense to the very end. The characters, mainly Kat Novak and Adam Quantrell also made the story nicer. I really like how the two met unpredictably and also how they got closer. Their relationship also progressed really well throughout the story. I also like Meave, Quantrell’s daughter. I feel that although she wasn’t one of the main characters, she really left a strong impact in the story. The way she changed from a rebellious child to a good daughter was also one of my favourite parts in the book.
Read an extract of the book here: http://rhwidget.randomhouse.co.uk/flash-widget/widget_lg.do?isbn=9780553824421&menu=0&mode=1&cf=336699&cb=FFFFFF

-Fiona Goh

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The National Library Board book controversy

The National Library Board’s (NLB) decision to remove three children’s titles that did not promote the traditional notions of family has sparked controversy. A #FreeMyLibrary social media campaign and at least two petitions have been launched in opposition to the move.
The books removed are “And Tango Makes Three”, “The White Swan Express: A Story about Adoption” and “Who is in my Family?” .
The move has generated quite a bit of buzz and the members of the public had mixed views about the decision. “I think that (the books) should be pulled out, because it’s not the kind of values which we want to impart to our future generation,” said one. Another felt that “if the books are needed somehow for education purposes, I think can put a caution there, something like PG16.”
Some others have decided to make their views known in other ways. Novelist and playwright Ovidia Yu announced her resignation from the Singapore Writers’ Festival Steering Committee, citing programme partner NLB as the reason. A group of writers have also decided to boycott a panel discussion they were supposed to have at the National Library.
Not only that, but three judges of this year’s Singapore Literature Prize have also resigned in protest over the NLB’s move. In a statement, Mr T Sasitharan, head of the Intercultural Theatre Institute, author Romen Bose and Yale-NUS professor Robin Hemley “condemned in the strongest terms” the decision to remove and destroy the books.
Some netizens have organised a reading event, where copies of “And Tango Makes Three” and “Who’s in My Family?” were made available for sharing.
Despite the protest, there was also an online letter supporting the NLB’s decision. It garnered more than 25,000 signatures, before the call for signatures ended at 12 midnight. The organisers, who are behind a Facebook group called Singaporeans United for Family, said it was sending the letter to ministers from the Ministry of Communications and Information, Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education.
The withdrawal of the three titles has been the subject of controversy in the past few weeks, drawing both protest and support from the public. A poll by REACH found that those who have been following the debate had divided opinions, with 45% supporting NLB’s move, 28% disagreeing, and 23% staying neutral. The poll also found out that 52% of Singaporeans agree that books promoting values that are not in line with traditional family values should not be made available in the children’s section of public libraries. Of the remainder, 21% disagreed and 23% were neutral.
Members of Parliament (MPs) have called on the NLB to put in place a more transparent and robust review process for its books.
“A more transparent review process would not only stand up better to scrutiny, but allow it to “defend (its) position”, said MP Baey Yam Keng, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information.
Mr Baey also suggested having a steering committee to advise the library on acquiring materials for its collection. This could be made up of people from a diverse section of society, such as experts from libraries in other countries, parents and book enthusiasts.
Nominated MP Janice Koh agreed that a broad panel of assessors should review requests to withdraw books and the decisions should be made transparent to the public. She said the NLB’s “hasty” decision-making was “perplexing” and added that she was “concerned that NLB has chosen to listen to complaints from a small group of people … while ignoring others, including many parents, who want the right to choose.”
The NLB has since announced that it will reinstate two of the withdrawn children’s titles in the adult’s section.
Sources:
1) http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/many-unaware-of-nlb-s/1270984.html
2) http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-literature/1266672.html
3) http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/other-titles-withdrawn/1266242.html

-Germaine Lee (1T)

Jokes to Brighten your Day!

Hey, we all know it has been a long and tiring day at school or work. But it’s normal! Life is such that there are exhaustion and obstacles sometimes, but with some laughs, we will definitely get through it! Here are some jokes to brighten your day, enjoy! 
Wife: “How would you describe me?”
Husband: “ABCDEFGHIJK.”
Wife: “What does that mean?”
Husband: “Adorable, beautiful, cute, delightful, elegant, fashionable, gorgeous, and hot.”
Wife: “Aw, thank you, but what about IJK?”
Husband: “I’m just kidding!”

A three-year old walks over to a pregnant lady while waiting with his mother in a doctor’s surgery.
“Why is your stomach so big?” – he asks.
“I´m having a baby.” – she replies.
“Is the baby in your stomach?” – he asks, with his big eyes.
“Yes, it is.” – she says.
“Is it a good baby?” – he asks, with a puzzled look.
“Oh, yes. A really good baby.” – the lady replies.
Shocked and surprised, he asks: “Then why did you eat him?”

A woman runs into a doctor’s office and says “DOCTOR! DOCTOR! You have to help me! Everywhere I touch on my body it hurts!”
The doctor replied, “Show me.”
So the woman poked her ankle and screamed of pain. Then she poked her knee and yelled OW. She poked her forehead and screamed again.
She was about to continue when the doctor said, “That’s enough, let me think this over.” He thought for about a minute and said “I think I know what your problem is. You broke your finger.”

Customer: Waiter, this soup tastes funny.
Waiter: Funny? But then why aren’t you laughing?

Lady: Is this my train?
Station Master: No, it belongs to the Railway Company.
Lady: Don’t try to be funny. I mean to ask if I can take this train to New Delhi.
Station Master: No Madam, I’m afraid it’s too heavy.

Teacher: What is the difference between lightning and electricity?
Alexander: I know – you do not have to pay for lightning.

Teacher: “Johnny, why are you late?”
Johnny: “Sir, because of a sign.”
Teacher: “What sign?”
Johnny: “A sign that said ‘Go Slowly, School Ahead’.”

I went out to buy camouflage trousers but I couldn’t find any!

Why is the sky so high? – So birds don’t bump their heads!!

Teacher: Suppose you have 10 chocolates. You give 3 to Tina, 2 to Mina and 3 to Sema. What do you have now?
Boy: I would have 3 girlfriends.

Master: “Why didn’t you water the plants yesterday?”
Servant: “It was raining.”
Master: “Don’t make excuses! You could have used an umbrella!!”
With reference to:
http://academictips.org/funny-jokes/really-funny-jokes/
http://www.laughfactory.com/jokes

-Daphne Yow(3T)

People: Edward Snowden

In a world consumed by technology and languages written in binary codes, where distrust is common and privacy isn’t really what it’s supposed to be, Edward Snowden sought to fix it. Some of you may find his name entirely foreign, but those who find it familiar may have heard of the great espionage of 2013.
Formerly a computer systems administrator in the CIA, he later worked for a private intelligence contractor inside the National Security Agency (an intelligence agency in the United States) outpost in Japan. His name came to light when he disclosed thousands of classified documents that he had acquired while working as a contractor for the NSA, making it one of the most significant leaks in U.S history. And for committing such treason, he had his passport cancelled by the United States and was granted a political asylum in Russia. However, before accusing him of his actions, it was best if people actually knew what kind of classified information he had decided to tell the world.
Edward Snowden’s leaks had led to the discovery of the existence of numerous global surveillance programs, many of them run by the NSA. But one of the most significant global surveillance programs conducted by the NSA that came to public attention was, in fact, domestic. The NSA had been collecting records of every phone call in the U.S. and also managed to infiltrate the data clouds of Google and Yahoo, from which the data of Americans could be collected (emails etc.). This was, of course, a violation of privacy. There was also information regarding the United States spying on several European countries, which could breach expected levels of cooperation.
The public’s response to the NSA leaks was an incredible mix of both positive and negative responses. Some regarded Edward Snowden as a traitor and a whistle-blower (a person who informs on a person or organization regarded as engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity); while others (including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange) regarded him as a hero and a patriot.
“All I can say right now is the U.S. Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”

– Edward Snowden, interview for The Guardian, June 2013

-Loo Yan Ling(3U)

People: Ellen DeGeneres

Many of us have watched the movie Finding Nemo and The Ellen Show. But do we know what they have in common?

When I was younger, I watched the movie Finding Nemo. My parents and I loved it. I was rather drawn to the character Dory, she was the funniest and cutest of all fish and she has the wackiest voice. When I grew older I got to know a comedian by the name of Ellen DeGeneres. She has the best talk show ever, her personality shines and she keeps me entertained without fail. I eventually found out that Ellen voiced Dory and thus, she made an impact on my little mind then. Ellen DeGeneres inspires many till this day, hence I decided to dedicate this blog post to talk about her.

Ellen Lee DeGeneres is an American comedienne, television host, actress, writer, and television producer. She was the star in the popular sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998, and has a well-known talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show since 2003. What Ellen achieves is no easy feat. She has authored three books and started her own record company, Eleveneleven. She has won 13 Emmys, 14 People’s Choice Awards and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts.

In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres made known to the public that she is lesbian. The frank disclosure of her sexual orientation sparked interest of American Tabloids The contentiousness of the media coverage stunted her professional career and left her “mired in depression”. However, she never let that get in the way of her career for long and on a May 2008 show she announced that she and her long-time girlfriend, Portia de Rossi, were engaged, they married on August 16, 2008.

Ellen Lee DeGeneres is a woman determined to create positive change in not only the LGBT community, in which she keeps dear to her heart, but also to every individual she could possibly reach out to. Hence, she is one of the celebrities best known for her charitable works. Ellen plays a major role in charities and campaigns such as the It Gets Better Project, Humane Society, Red Cross, Declare Yourself, and the ONE Campaign. She has donated a lot of time, money and effort into helping those in need and for that many are inspired to make a difference like her.

ellen

Sarah Lam (2P)

-OPTICAL ILLUSIONS-

OBAMA optical illusion

Hey you! Stare at the centre of the image above for 45 seconds and then look at something bright! See something? OH! There he is…
Ever thought of how exactly these optical illusions work? Well, these pictures simply play tricks with your eyes and brain to make them believe that the image is moving. Interesting, right?

-Rachel Pang(2H)

Food Review: Chocolate Banana Muffins

When I was younger, I used to eat from a kiddy-sized plate with paltry amounts of rice and greens. I rejected the spoonful of beans, compressed into unappetizing mounds, but was cajoled into submission when I was told that it was an airplane with nowhere to land. One decade later, I have outgrown my kiddy plates for larger ones. More importantly, the food on my plate now reflects my personal preferences and taste, instead of what is nutritious in my parents’ eyes.

chocobanana muffins 1

Source: http://gracessweetlife.com/

Just as the seasons change, people age and our taste buds mature along with us. What we crave for today may not necessarily be what we want next week. Chocolate banana muffins are now my faves. Chocolate banana muffins have a delightful texture and can be whipped up in no time. Made from bright yellow bananas almost the colour of cheese, its interior is soft and moist. It is no wonder that this icon of food innovation is a family favourite! This delightful treat is delightfully colourful on the outside and full of amazing flavours within. Every bite into its lovely golden brown crust releases divine bursts of sugar that will sweeten our day.

chocobanana muffins 2

Source: http://hongskitchen.blogspot.sg/

I personally like the fact that two originally incompatible ingredients are combined to bring us the double benefits of health and indulgence. Chocolate has always been the number one flavour of all time, and the addition of bananas lessens our guilt towards this sinful dessert. This baked bundle of joy is best eaten for breakfast just before a long day at school, so that its warm freshness can provide us with the energy every student needs.

-Trina Chong(2U)

Some jokes to brighten your day

1. What did one cannibal say to the other when they were eating a clown?
Does this taste funny to you?
2. What happened to the frog’s car when it broke down?
It got toad away.
3. What nails do carpenters hate to hit?
Fingernails.
4. What did the banana say to the doctor?
I’m not peeling well.
5. Why do you like potato jokes so much?
You could say they’re ‘apeeling’.
6. Did you hear about the guy who dreamt that he was eating a giant marshmallow?
When he woke up, his pillow was gone!
7. A woman and her son were back from the supermarket. The son immediately emptied a box of animal crackers on the dining table. When questioned by his mother, he replied “The box said ‘Do not eat if seal is broken’, so I’m looking for the seal!”
8. Who earns a living by driving customers away?
A taxi driver.
9. What did the lawyer name his daughter?
Sue
10. Teacher: why does a stone sink if you throw it in water?
Student: Because it can’t swim!

Sources:
http://www.laughfactory.com
jokes.cc.com

-Jocelyn(1T)

Violence in the Media

‘It is a bad outlook for the world if violence takes hold of the mass mind. Ultimately, it destroys the race’. ~Gandhi
In May 2010, 20-year-old gamer Julien Barreaux stabbed his rival player who had killed Barreaux’s character in the game Counter-Strike. The judge at his trial called him “a menace to society.”
It may seem unbelievable that a video game would have such an impact on people, but there are many more similarly disturbing and shocking situations which have occurred.
In today’s society, violence has become integrated into the media. Psychologist Craig A. Anderson’s research showed that playing violent video games can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviour both in laboratory settings and in daily life. To make matters worse, 97% of adolescents age 12-17 play video games — on a computer, on consoles such as the Wii, PlayStation and Xbox, or on portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. Thus, the violence that is incorporated in video games affects countless youths who play such games.
Violence is also evident in television shows and movies. The United States National Institute of Mental Health identified these major effects of seeing violence on television:
• Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
• Children may be more fearful of the world around them.
• Children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.
It is evident that being exposed to violence in media can have a detrimental effect, especially on children who are young and impressionable. Such violence not only encourages even more violence but also desensitizes youths to displays of violence in the real world. Therefore, I am very much against exposing youths to violence in the media.
But what can be done in response to the issue? Rating systems for video games and movies should be implemented in as many countries as possible. The United States and Canada currently have the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) system which has ratings such as M (Mature 17+) or AO (Adults Only 18+). This rating system assigns the age and content ratings for specific video games. In Singapore, there is also the BFC (Board of Film Censors) which have introduced classification ratings for films. The rating system includes ratings such as G (General) and PG (Parental Guidance). I feel that such rating systems should be implemented in more countries, so that youths can avoid being exposed to content that is not appropriate for their age group.
In conclusion, with increased violence in our society, youths, who are impressionable, may learn from the content that they are being exposed to. Therefore, I strongly support the suggestion of imposing stricter ratings on video games and films.

violence in media 1 violence in media 2
-Soh Wen Shuen(2W)

First Day of School

I’m doing something scary in 20 minutes. I don’t know if I’ll come back or not, but I definitely know that I left the fridge door open at home before I left. I also definitely know that I forgot to refill Blackie’s food bowl, and this means that when Grandma comes home and sees the dog make a mess on her S$500 antique rug she’s going to make meat pie out of Blackie. I think about the last thing that happened at home-Father and Mother bading me farewell at the doorstep. Father is putting a reassuring hand on my shoulder while talking about blabbity blab, and Mother is busy stockpiling bottles of Brand’s chicken essence and vitamin C candies in my pockets. All I remember afterwards is their gleaming faces and the flourish of flowery handkerchiefs as I sit back in the bus on the travel towards an inescapable fate. If you ask me, the only thing I regretted was not watching the latest episode of Sesame Street (I wanted to watch Big Bird ride the unicycle), because it was then that the letter had came and I wasn’t allowed to watch TV until the end of Time. “No, Johnny, you can’t. Now go back to your room and finish reading the nursery rhymes,’ Mother once said when I had demanded to watch Elmo’s World. On the TV had been a woman who had a lot of powder on her face and who was talking in a real boring voice (I can never understand why people just had to listen to those awful channels). Now that I’m on the bus on the travel towards an inescapable fate, I look around to look around at my fellow comrades. They are all clad in stiff, starched uniforms with water bottles strung around their necks and blue duck-caps fitted on their heads like mine-some are chatting with their friends, some are peeping into their lunchboxes and a surreptitious few are playing cards at the back of the bus. One of them looks at me with fire in his eyes, and I turn around and pretend to look out from the window at a cat moon-walking on the pavement outside. Grandma told me once about this kind of people-she told me that they were called ‘thugs’, and that if I were to ever meet them on the street I had to look away. As I watch the cat topple off the pavement and do a double flip-flop, I wonder if the thugs behind would smile if I gave them a Vitamin C candy each. Probably not, I guess.

It is then that the bus stops at an enormous building that is a hundred times bigger than my home. When we tottle down from the bus a smiling lady dressed in bright bright red who has a lot of red colour smudged on her mouth rushes towards us and smiles at us-her mouth thins and stretches wide to reveal a set of large and intimidating teeth. Behind me someone whimpers at the sight of that mouth. “Helllooooo children! Welcome to Sunshine Elementary School! Oh my, what wonderful and lovely children you are, my dears!” She screams while swooping down on us like an overgrown bat. “Today’s the first day of school for everyone of you, so I do so so so hope that you will come to love and enjoy every single day of your life here! Hee hee hee, oh… what wonderful children you are, my dears…” The lady smiles.

I stare at the intimidating building and the smiling lady in front of us. The thugs somewhere near are flexing their little arm muscles while looking at my pockets. Then something cracks inside of me. With a loud shout I surrender the packets of vitamin C candies in my pockets, and run straight for my life towards the entrance of the school.

Before me stands a formidable 30-metre tall metal gate with barbed wires aligned along the top of the gate. Behind me, the smiling lady says, “Welcome to Sunshine Elementary school, my dears! I am proud to say that this school offers the best boot-camp education in the whole nation…oh my, what wonderful children we have here…hehehe…”

-Calista Io(2U)