Books · Uncategorized

WWW Wednesday 6th May 2020

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I’ve had a long hiatus from this post but got inspired in my reading last week and am keen to share 🙂 Thank you to Sam from Taking on a World of Words  for hosting this fun and simple meme, with just three W questions to answer: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? You can also join by answering and linking your blog post back on Sam’s post here.  

What did you recently finish reading:

Last week I found myself reading The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power. Somehow I came across this on Libby (my library ereader app) and I loved it. I’ve been interested in learning more about the UN for awhile but hadn’t quite managed to open the ‘beginner’s guide’ I’d picked up. This memoir, however, about President Obama’s US Ambassador  to the UN had me eagerly checking wikipedia for more details about titles and descriptions of the UN. Samantha Power has also been a foreign journalist, author (Pulitzner award winner for a book about genocide), human rights advisor etc. etc and her memoir was a real eye opener.

What are you currently reading:

Somehow I’m managed to start and have 3 books currently on the go (not the usual for me). I was only a few pages into The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi ( – author and Luke Leafgren -translator) before my hold for Educated by Tara Westover became available and then I realised my loan for The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton was almost up. So we’ll see what the week brings in getting through any or all of these!

What do you think you’ll read next:

Inspired by how Samantha Power’s memoir got me thinking, I’d like to try my hand at an Australian politician, so my next goal is My Story by Julia Gillard. Will be interesting to see if I get into it or not. Maybe you’ve got a different politician/activist memoir to suggest? Have you heard of Samantha Power or read her memoir?

That’s all folks, happy reading!

 

Books

Happy New Year – WWW Wednesday, 1-January-2020

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Wow it’s been over  a year since my last WWW Wednesday with Sam from Taking on a World of Words,  although it’s been a regular part of my weekly blog reading. It is a fun and simple meme, the perfect way to start a new year. Just answer three W questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? You can also join by answering and linking your blog post back on Sam’s post here.  

Currently reading: The Philosophy Book – DK Big Ideas, Simply Explained and Friday with my Folks by Amal Awad from Goodreads

Amal Awad’s life changed when her father was diagnosed with kidney failure. Seeing the impact it has had on him, both physically and mentally, and the way the side effects trickle into those around him, Mentally, it had an impact as he was unable to recover from his fresh grief at not having the same freedom to move and live as he had known before. Work had made him feel whole and retirement was a challenge. When he became ill, he didn’t quite know what to do with himself. Amal eventually realised that life offered a new reality. Not always pleasant, but also not unique to her family…

At a time when ageism and health is high on the public’s radar, what we’re not always talking about is how to deal with the anxiety, depression and overall challenges that come with someone you love facing their mortality and a decline in health…

This book stems from a personal experiences, but it expands to a much wider, more universal discussion about life, suffering, coping and hope.

Recently finished: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang a bit steamier than I expected but definitely a good read. Sadly I won’t be finished Girl by Edna O’Brien about the Boko Haram girls, I feel it’s an important read I just couldn’t face it at this time.

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Reading next: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales a bookclub Christmas gift about resilience. I also have The Sociology Book and The Economics Book out from the library but doubt I’ll get to them before they’re due back. The one I’m mostly likely to read next though is The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, while you’re on a good thing 🙂

Wishing you all a year of wonderful reading

GJ

 

Books

Spot On Book Quotes

Some recent reads really hit the spot for me (oh how I love books) especially some of these quotes:

From ‘As Bright As Heaven’ by Susan Meissner

I no longer fear Death, though I know that I should. I’m strangely at peace with what I used to think of as my enemy. Living seems more the taskmaster of the two, doesn’t it? Life is wonderful and beautiful but oh, how hard it can be. Dying, by contrast, is easy and simple, almost gentle.

your mother’s heart is healing the best way it can…the heart always does what it needs to do.

This book was set in Philadelphia during World War 1 and the Spanish Flu epidemic. It was told by three daughters and their mother which amazingly well, covering themes of  Death (and undertaking), Family, and Hope. A great book with just a slightly disappointing ending.

From ‘Words in Deep Blue’ by Cath Crowley

No one has anything to get up for. Life’s pointless and everyone gets up anyway. That’s how the human race works….No one likes how the human race works.

The bookstore is a building, but it’s not only the building. It is the books inside. People are not only their bodies. And if there is no hope of saving the things we love in their original form, we must save them however we can.

Loved this book which included a bookshop setting. From goodreads:

This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

And finally I’ve just started ‘Fridays with my Folks’ by Amal Awad

Strangely the activity that helped me best decompress was doing puzzles…it’s the therapy of them…knowing that concentrated purpose and persistence pay off; that sliver of relief you feel each time you lock a piece in to place.20190609_140853.jpg

One of my puzzles from 2019

Books · life

Thankful for…

As is tradition (or so it sometimes feels) I’ll start my post my saying it’s been a rough couple of weeks with grief, depression, end of year busy-ness/slow-ness taking it’s toll. Each day ends with a significant sense of survival, I made it through another day. In between there have been small moments of wonder, joy, connection and….thankfulness

  • I’m thankful for good books

A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird – a powerful read, with a gum-boot wearing Granny, a daring big sister and a big dose of trauma.

The Calling Of Emily Evans by Janette Oke – a re-read as I think about division in my church around women pastors. Janette Oke has written many sweet christian-romances and they are great go to, easy books – this one looking at the role of a deaconess

Up Out of Egypt by Helen Marsh – one of those books that sit on your shelves for sometime before appearing again at just the right time, a very personal autobiography.

Streiker 1 & 2 by Robin Hardy – I’d love to do a more in-depth review of these books, an analogy of Christ and his church with many poignant metaphors.

And tonight a truly Australian read Taking Tom Murray Home by Tim Slee – another great story told from the perspective of a young boy with a timely rural message. (Plese check out https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/13822335/posts/12677 for a great review)

  • I’m thankful for good tv shows

A Million Little things and I started The Handmaid’s Tale Saturday and have already binged my way a fair way through.

Along with the last book above though I wonder about their messages and the take-home points…

  • my children and the deep  love that connects me to them
  • Christmas shopping with my husband
  • meaningful distractions
  • puzzles
  • no judgement from others just myself
  • limited pressures
  • being trusted to listen to others stories
  • health and security
  • God
Books

Six degrees of Separation – Wonder to Wicked

This wonderful meme is hosted by booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  alice-in-wonderland-4413732_960_720and asks you to take one title, and link through five other titles to see where you end up. Our starting point this month is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll a well-known classic, I wasn’t a fan of this story as a child growing up with the Disney movie, too scary and fantastical for me, but I did read the book for bookclub and learnt to like it a bit better.

 

My favourite Disney movie was Beauty and the Beast and I only had to go through three pages of versions to find my childhood book written by Jan Carr and illustrated by Katy Bratun, which still sits on the bookshelf at my parents house.

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One of the bloggers I follow has also written a version of this tale Beautiful by Fran Laniado. I havn’t read it yet but I sincerely hope to, especially after reading this goodreads review

[This] felt more like a tale than a novel, a tale where we are told what the characters feel and do the way the writer might in an old fashioned fairytale. The result is the reader turns the pages with great anticipation waiting for the storyteller to give us more and she does. No spoilers but there are beasts and there are beauties and it is the readers job to know the difference.

I find myself still reflecting on Alice and Disney and movies and confess I have been known to mistake an Alice costume for a Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum another classic this one probably more well known for its movie starring Judy Garland. d and a

(Image from an article about ‘Netflix scooping up this franchise potential!)

I just discovered from my reliable goodreads that there is a series of Oz books. While I havn’t read any of them I was inspired to read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1) by Gregory Maguire after seeing the theatrical production. I believe I may even have given the second in this four part series a go but am still none the wiser how such an amazing musical came from such a …..long book :p

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Sorry not sure to add a video to my post!

 

Loved this journey from Alice in Wonderland to the Wicked Witches from Oz.

Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

Books · faith · reviews

Six Degrees of Separation from Three Women to…Redeeming Love

Once again I’m going use this wonderful prompt the Six Degrees of Separation to share some of my recent, let’s call it holiday time, reads. This meme hosted by booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  gets you to take one title, and link through five other titles to see where you end up.

This month we are starting with Three Women by Lisa Taddeo a book i hadn’t heard about prior to the prompt. Goodreads starts with ‘Desire as we’ve never seen it before: a riveting true story about the sex lives of three real American women, based on nearly a decade of reporting.’ My first impression was that it sounded interesting, reviews left me a bit conflicted and I’ve yet to add to my TBR list. I do believe the world needs more frank and honest discussion about sex and this book could possibly be part of that discussion. My chain however takes the topic of sex to it’s evil sister rape in the form of…

Sadie by Courtney Summers. I can’t remember who but one of the bloggers I read has been raving about this book all year and it certainly lived up to its hype for me. From the blurb… “Alternating between Sadie’s unflinching voice as she hunts the [her sisters] killer and the podcast transcripts tracking the clues she’s left behind, Sadie is a breathless thriller.” The story covers Sadie and her sisters childhood in a remote town, with their drug-addicted mother and one (over?) caring neighbour….Sadie is a story about childhood trauma which has been a common theme in my recent reads…

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton also had the commonality of drugs with two boy lives swiftly changed when their step-fathers drug boss comes to visit. Again from goodreads

‘A novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane’s violent working class suburban fringe – A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer…A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships.’

The two books above also included mutism and stuttering, which along with childhood trauma link in with the title of my next chain The Words that Fly Between Us by Sarah Carroll. The blurb read, ” From the outside, it looks like Lucy has the perfect life. She has everything. Everything that money can buy. But money can’t buy Lucy the words she needs to stand up to her bully of a father, the words to escape her suffocating family life, the words to become the person she wants to be.” Again I really enjoyed this book  (perhaps a bit lighter than the two above) including it’s interspersing of texts and blogs.

The book I just finished also covered childhood trauma but unlike the three above written primarily from the perspective of the young adults, this book,  the latest release from my all-time favourite author, The Masterpiece by Francine Riverscovered the effects of trauma on the two main characters lives in adulthood. This ultimate romance, although predictable in it’s ending had so much depth in the journey, I was not disappointed. We are all God’s masterpieces and this book was full of christian grace and wisdom.

It seems fitting for me to end on another Francine Rivers book her classic, my favourite Redeeming Love which like the first book in this chain covers sex with a prostititute for the main character, along with sadly childhood trauma (all these books cover this real and ever present issue in our society well, but I confess it does seem somewhat wrong to follow this as a theme) and the all-important and powerful Redeeming Love of God.

Happy Reading All 🙂

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Books · reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: Freebie – from Zusak to Higgins

I’ve managed a bit of a reading spree in the last few weeks and in order to share my thoughts I’ve ingeniously decided to use the Six Degrees of Separation meme. This meme is hosted by booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  and gets you to take one title, and link through five other titles to see where you end up.

August’s starting point was a wild card – start with the book you ended with in July. It’s been six month since I last completed this meme, when I ended on For the Term of his Natural Life. The one before that was twelve months ago, The Light Between Oceans. Following some inner debate I’ve decided to start with my July’s bookclub read, Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak. This book started slowly and I was all set to appreciate it but not love it except Markus has a way with words, and characters. Although not completely satisfied with what was found at the end, the process of peeling away the layers of this book became truly mesmerising.

Markus seems to really like his young Australian male protagonists. Another Australian author I’ve loved recently is Jane Harper, with all three of her novels set in unique Australian environments. I really enjoy how her settings are so integral to the mysteries she writes. I hope there will be a novel soon following her latest The Lost Man.

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Harper’s book also touched on an issue so pertinent to Australia right now – that of domestic violence, which leads me to my next author Cathy Glass. Where Has Mummy Gone was the second of her books that I’ve read. Cathy Glass is the pseudonym for an UK foster carer who shares stories of children she has cared for and helpful information I believe about the world of fostering. However although I appreciate that she brings to light stories of childhood abuse and neglect, I can’t help wonder about the children she writes about, if they have given consent?

Needing a bit of a break from the hurt in this world I’m going to flip to the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke. These christian novels sometimes feel a bit simplistic, set in Canada in years gone by, but the overall message is timeless, with the last two (4 and 5 of 8) really hitting the spot nicely for me. The love of family and God is wonderful.

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Moving from the comfort of that series, I turn to a novel,  much more realistic and personal to me, The Mothers Group by Fiona Higgins. At times this book felt almost too real, so that although it was a fantastic read and true to life of a mother’s group, the reader knew we were heading to a defining moment and as a mother I didn’t want to know what it was. Out of the ashes [of the phoenix] comes the message that also got me through my early parenting days, ‘it takes a village’ and we mothers need to stick together and support each other.

I’m going to end on an anti-climax now with the other of Fiona Higgins books I’ve read, Love in the Age of Drought. This memoir was nice and an interesting perspective on a farming community from a city slicker but it didn’t ring true to my own experiences as a farmer’s wife. I’ve still added another of her books to my to-read-list, so it can’t have been too bad!

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And now please excuse me as I cheat and add one more link – I’ve just checked out my bookclub’s September read – Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, another Australian story, very popular by the looks as I’m over one hundredth on the hold wait-list, exciting!

Happy reading 🙂

Books · life · movies

Feelings about The Public and life

Things weren’t going right last Wednesday – just little things – like not getting my preferred parking spots on the main drag in my small country town. Cos you know it meant I had walk a few extra metres….

And then this week I was just tired (it has been rather cold). Monday started out good, I had a cancellation = time to get ahead which surely would mean a head-start for Tuesday. Maybe if I’d had some motivation…

I still got through things. It just feels like whenever I’m close to getting on top with potential to get to the extra things i.e. cleaning out the darned spare room, things fall apart.

In all this I have finished a book AND saw an awesome movie today. So of course I can’t really complain.

THE BOOK:

Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak

It was another big book which took awhile to suck me in. And if I’m being honest despite reading and enjoying all of Zusak’s books his writing style is not really for me. But his characters – oh how I love his characters. Five brothers…”their mother is dead, their father has fled” and a vast array of stories, including a peg.

THE MOVIE:

The Public

This movie had everything I love – books, libraries, humour, social action and love.

Starting with black and white footage of books and librarians and then opening into credits with song/rap lyrics ‘burn the books’ it had me right from word go (or perhaps from lights, camera, action)

The screening I saw was to raise funds for a local organisation that works with homeless, in this Homelessness Week. The movie itself was about an ‘occupation’ of a Cincinnati library due to freezing weather. It was poignant and meaningful. (Not to mention full of some well-known names)

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I’m beginning to learn to appreciate mindfulness and the above quote is helpful. Except….when it comes to things like homelessness….shouldn’t we do something with the feelings? Along with mindfulness I’m trying really hard to practice kindness to myself, I know telling myself off for not doing more won’t help, and after all my children are fed….

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So yes I definitely recommend The Public and Bridge of Clay is Markus Zusak special. I hope my energy lifts (more nutrition shakes?!) but if it doesn’t straight away I also know I will survive. Amongst it all there are moments of gratitude.

Wishing you all a blessed new week ahead

GJ

Books · life · reviews

Recent Reads and Rising Strong

I’ve started a bit of a Brene Brown reading marathon and plan to share a bit about it below but first I’d like to briefly share a few other recent reads.

It’s been hot hot hot this weekend so I’ve indulged in a novel (thanks Libby!) starting and finishing The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore from Goodreads:

Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison.

I found this a powerful description of the environment these boys both grew up in. Reflecting on reviews people were disappointed that they book was all about the ‘what’ rather than the ‘why’ but I think that could be part of the moral of the story – the why is up to the decisions we each make, the interpretations we make and yes environment hugely shapes that but our potential is always there.

Two other recent great reads were Say Hello by Carly Findlay a disability activist and The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot, a surprising and incredible piece of prose with a theme of grief and a unique Australian flavour. Get reading these two folks.

Last night I also caught a fantastic movie on SBS, The Dark Knight. Edited from Wikipedia:

Based on the real-life story of Genesis Potini, a brilliant New Zealand chess player who suffered from severe bipolar disorder. He is released from hospital into the care of his brother. Upon hearing about a chess club run by his old chess buddy, he asks to join with permission given on the proviso he promises to not “rock the boat.” Genesis lead sthe Eastern Knights Chess club  to the Junior National Championships in Auckland.  The movie also brings in Genesis’s nephew and his father’s gang.  The movie won many awards and I was suitably moved.

But back to Brene, who had been on my radar for awhile before I picked up one of her books from my local library at the end of last year. It took me a little while to get through it but already I’ve found myself referencing it in conversations with friends and clients. Unfortunately I got an email this week to say it was due back and I was unable to extend. Fortunately I AM determined to go through the notes I wrote as I read and I’m doing it RIGHT now!

This book was about vulnerability, shame, failing and a suggested mud map for ‘Rising Strong’.

Brene defines vulnerability as the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome, indeed perhaps with some expectation that you may stumble, fall and get your ass kicked (she doesn’t mince her words). She believes that such vulnerability is part of wholehearted living – waking up in the morning and thinking, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. I am worthy of love and belonging.

She describes that failing is painful. She describes that it fuels the should and wouldas which I feel I know so well. She describes how with these thoughts judgement and shame often lie in wait. It took me the whole book to really resonate with the idea of shame and I look forward to reading some of her earlier books to learn a bit more about this. I don’t think many people would easily identify their feelings as shame…although perhaps it’s just me. She also talked about how if we stop caring what people think we lose our ability to connect but even worse perhaps is when we are defined by what people think. Similarly she explains that comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity.

Brene’s path to rising strong was a lot to do with curiosity, particularly curiosity about our emotions and being brave enough to face discomfort straight on. So step 1 is recognising emotion and step 2 is getting curious about it and asking lots of questions, step 3 is pay atttention to it  and then keep practicing. She believes we are born vulnerable but in order to self protect we turn to certainty and false beliefs for example doing not feeling fixes problems. Often case we are taught that feelings arn’t worthy of our attention. Brene states that recognising and feeling our way through emotions is choosing freedom, with the alternative of avoidance taking over our lives.

There were many metaphors about our story – integrating our whole story and human beings being wired for stories. Rising strong is to defy how we choose to end our stories. In our lives we often make up our own stories – our own reasoning of why people are acting a certain way. It’s hard to be vulnerable and open up about these stories we tell ourselves with others.

Briefly:

  • She  spoke about expectations of others being resentments waiting to happen
  • ‘The middle is messy but it’s also where the magic happens’. When you are in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story, only confusion and darkness.
  • You can’t skip day 2
  • Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving we need to give and we need to need.
  • Perfectionism and shame. Shame derives power from being unspeakable, it loves perfectionists.
  • Failure feels like powerlessness, a lost oppurtunity leading to fear and desperation.
  • You can do everything right and still fail
  • Regret is a call to courage and a path toward wisdom
  • Brene believes hope is a cognitive process.

 

Wow – a job done, almost can’t believe it! Have you heard of Brene Brown? Do you enjoy reading non-fiction? What has been your favourite recent read/movie?

Praying we can all Rise Strong as we move into a new week and month.

Books

Six degrees of separation from the French man’s wife to the Australian convict

Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  and gets you to take one title, and link through five other titles to see where you end up.

January’s starting point is The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. I was randomly gifted this book at our annual bookclub Christmas bookswap however never finished it.

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Another older book I recieved at this annual event was Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert. It appears unread in my Goodreads account but I’m sure I finished this thanks to it also being a bookclub read. I seem to remember an interesting feminist discussion was had.

Madame Bovary’s title characters first name was Emma which takes me to another more classical book Emma by Jane Austen. I don’t believe I’ve read this book nor seen the complete movie however I do know I have watched the complete series of Pride And Prejudice along with reading the book which I seem to remember enjoying.

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Another classic I’m sure I’ve read and enjoyed was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte when I was a teenager living at home. It sounds like I need to re-read a few of these to refresh my memory. Another book I read from the shelves at home was For the Term of his Natural Life by Marcus Clarke which for a long time I’ve wanted to re-read to see if it still as good as I remember.

Well I didn’t mean to take a classical theme but there you have it.

Do you have any thoughts on these links/books? Happy Reading 🙂