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 · 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 · reviews

WWW Wednesday 7th February 2018

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This is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s fun and simple, you just have to answer the three W’s: 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

I think this is my first for the year and I certainly wasn’t planning to write a blog today! After a busy start to the week (read tiring!) I’m now refreshed from watching an episode of a new tv favourite and happily sitting next to hubby while he’s taken over the tv for the cricket leaving me free to share –

What did you recently finish reading:

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, the second novel in The Giver quartet. I read the first in the series at the end of last year for my Future requirement in the When Are You Reading challenge and my interest was piqued. It was a short book which created another new dystopian world which ended with so much story left to tell. I’m so funny about YA dystopian books. I’m never a big fan but as soon as I see a movie or read a book and get just a bit of a taste I do want to find out as much as possible about the worlds the author creates. I was hoping to find out what happened next in Gathering Blue but instead was given a new world to discover. Sadly I wasn’t really taken with this book except for of course the ending which after a slow book again built pace and interest so yes I will read the third book, which from other reviews seems more well liked.

 

What are you currently reading:

For anyone who met me here last year I’m still reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, well it’s still sitting on my bed side table, not sure reading is an accurate description. I did read another chapter in the summer holidays but can’t imagine getting back to it again until perhaps the next summer holidays!

After Gathering Blue I thought I was going to get myself more thoroughly into My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. I am loving the writing style of this book and want to read more but at the same time it’s not a complete page turner, hence I was happy enough yesterday to also start Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom which is my choice for this months bookclub. I have already made notes of a few gems I want to remember. I’m confident in my decision as Albom is a reliably good read.

I also started an audiobook this week for my 6hr plus round study trip – Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly. I’m enjoying it but getting frustrated each time the author introduces a new character narrator!

What do you think you’ll read next:

If I get through my current books it’ll be a true achievement! Next bookclub is The Bells by Richard Harvell but I have until March. I also have Tell Me I’m Here by Anne Deveson out from the library which I really want to get to having read Resilience by the same author.

 

Challenge Progress Tracker

 

1940-1959 – Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez,

The Future – Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

 

Any bloggers out there that can help me with spacing in my blogs? Ie between paragraphs I just can’t figure it out!

blogging · Books · reviews

Holiday Reading

I was so excited about the interactions on my last post I forgot to get writing again…oops, and suddenly a fortnight has almost passed!

Truth is I’ve been busy spending time with the fam bam – we got back yesterday from a week interstate with friends. Lots of fun, laughs, tears and tantrums – don’t you just love holidaying with kids :p All in all however it was a great time away and we kept very busy, in fact I only finished my holiday book last night back at home! Indeed 20 days into January I have only finished 2 books (oh wait 3 – bcb*). I normally go into a reading frenzy during the summer holidays but this year I’ve been spreading my spare time between books, puzzles and tv. I’m finding lately after working on a computer, studying on a computer and catching up on so many awesome blogs my eyes have had enough reading. Anyone else have trouble balancing their reading choices?!

That said the two books I have finished are well worth sharing about:

Wish You Were Here by Sheridan Jobbins –

I loved that the author was Australian. I loved her honesty and reflections (even if at times they seemed to go round and around in circles), I enjoyed her adventures, I loved her car and the new man. In some ways a bit of a cliche post divorce memoir in others completely unique. I loved learning more about America and the life of this interesting woman.

The author herself described it as “basically a rom-com memoir” about how she met her husband. “After leaving my first marriage, I decided to buy a big red car and drive around America, I would spend six weeks driving one way, and six weeks driving back,” she said. “Halfway through I did a stopover in London to visit a friend whose husband had been sick. My friend was studying with this boy and we started to have a fling. It ended up in a bit of a misunderstanding, I thought I was saying ‘I like you’ and he thought I was saying ‘join the trip’. So our third date was four weeks in a Chevy Camaro and a tent arguing across America and that is the bulk of the story.”

Definitely a good holiday read.

Secondly, The End of the Road: Becoming a Mallee Wife by Deborah Hyde –

As a fellow farmer’s wife I really enjoyed relating to much of this memoir and recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about this way of life!

I’ve also watched Big Little Lies the HBO tv series which unfortunately was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t the bits cut or added, I think it worked quite well. I don’t even really care about the ending. It just all seemed so slow to me, a lot of angst and not much action. I think having read the book ruined the build up of tension for me. Good news is that hubby enjoyed it, yay for a accurate recommendation for him!

We have one more week until school goes back but with work, meetings and school book pick up it feels like things will be back into at least half swing. Fortunately I have book club this week reviewing Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a novella (*bcb).

Before I sign off I would like to say a  big special thanks to the FOUR beautiful bloggers who commented on my last post. Even without new content in the last 2 weeks I’ve been feeling super connected. My Spotlight Blogger for today is for “Bryce Warden” who was the first to comment last time. You can find her at  https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com – be ready to laugh out loud and experience some warm fuzzies too. She is a busy Mum of teens, business owner, hospice and charity volunteer. She likes mystery novels and lives in the USA experiencing the cold while I am once again sweltering in 40+ degree weather. She’s been a recent find for me but I am very much in love.

I’d love for Bryce (and YOU!) to share, if you wish, about your favourite things to do in your spare time?

Happy Reading!

Books · reviews

WWW Wednesday 20th Septemeber

Sooooo before I explain what this is all about about I just have to share….

I FINISHED Silence!!!!!!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s fun and simple, you just have to answer the three W’s: 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.

To participate, and to see how others responded, click here

What did you recently finish reading:

Silence by Shūsaku Endō, I started reading this back in May and am so excited to have finally finished. I chose it to meet a requirement in my When Are You Reading Challenge, based on a review in my church magazine of the Martin Scorsese movie adaption but I just never got into it. I never clicked with the narrator/main character and found it a struggle to get through. I wish I could go back and start it again at a time when I could finish it in just a few sittings as I think that could have made a difference but then again maybe not.

From Goodreads – It is 1640 and Father Sebastian Rodrigues, an idealistic Jesuit priest, sets sale for Japan determined to help the brutally oppressed Christians there. He is also desperate to discover the truth about his former mentor, rumoured to have renounced his faith under torture. Rodrigues cannot believe the stories about a man he so revered, but as his journey takes him deeper into Japan and then into the hands of those who would crush his faith, he finds himself forced to make an impossible choice: whether to abandon his flock or his God….As empathetic as it is powerful, it is an astonishing exploration of faith and suffering and an award-winning classic. 

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it! I was glad to read another reviewer found it started slow, for me by the time it got a bit more interesting I was already too far over it.

Another reason I struggled with this book was although a christian I’m not catholic and so concepts of confession and symbolism of images is not as important to me and somewhat rubbed the wrong way.

Most reviews however were highly positive and this page on quotes from the book is impressive.

 

Now I don’t actually have much more to say :p

 

The other adult book I finished recently was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell which I LOVED.

What are you currently reading:

Still reading text books and not much else!

What do you think you’ll read next:

I’ve got Truly, Madly, Deeply by Lianne Moriarty lying around for when I feel on top of my study. I’d also like to find a book from the 1500’s to keep on track with my challenge – any suggestions?

 

Challenge Progress Tracker

Pre 1500 – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

1500-1599 

1600-1699 – Silence by Shūsaku Endō

1700-1799 – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney

1800-1899  The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

1900-1919

1920-1939 – The Small Woman by Alan Burgess

1940-1959

1960-1979 – Exposure by Helen Dunmore

1980-1999 – Attachments by Rainbow Rowel

2000-Present – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The Future 

reviews · Uncategorized

Amazing Matilda

I returned from a morning smoko this week with hubby, utterly disappointed with my truly uninterested audience’s response to my review from having attended Matilda the Musical the night before! Fortunately I have a blog to express my views on too – so here is take 2 on my ravings, fingers crossed you are more appreciative 😛

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical as performed at the Adelaide Festival Theatre – *spoilers abound*

Walking into the theatre and seeing the set, was a bit like the Beast leading Belle into the castle’s library.

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Then came the first song, SO. MUCH. ENERGY. It was phenomenal, particularly the choreography.  The next highlight for me was the School Song, the lyrics to this (and again the dancing!) blew me away.

“So you think you’re a (A)ble
To survive this mess by be (B) ing a Prince or a Princess
You will soon see(C)
There’s no escaping tragedy (D)
And e (E) ven (E)
If you put in heaps of eff (F)ort
You’re just wasting energy(G)
‘Cause your life as you know it is an (H) cient  history

All the way through to … Just you wait for Phys-ed (Z)” (from Matilda London Cast – School Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

We soon meet Miss Trunchball – character perfection! First her (his) twirling baton in the first act but so much more spectacularly and hilariously in the song The Smell of Rebellion. The second act started with an almost comedic routine by Matilda’s Dad Mr. Wormwood. He started with the hallmarks of a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning, quite relevant for all the gymnastic moves we’d seen so far, but instead directed at reading. My niece was giving off death stares, how dare he speak against books and poor Nicole who put her hand up!

I can’t say enough how much the cast amazed me with their dancing. Favourites for me included Bruce, When I Grow Up (the swings!) and Revolting Children (particularly Bruce’s centre stage!)

All the characters were so well performed, Mrs Wormwood, Matilda’s brother Michael, Miss Honey, Miss Phelps and the Russian Boss with his pink lolly pop  – just to name a limited few. And to end it all off they came out for the finale riding colourful scooters.

It truly a masterpiece. Thank you to my family for taking me.

Within the program (which, yes I read cover to cover!) comments by the music and lyric and script writer’s (Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin) were written under the title Books vs Stories. Dennis Kelly suggested a very good research direction – ‘do chimps tell stories’ and do animals have imagination? For he proposed our imaginations are a ‘vibrant necessary part of being alive’ and ‘without stories we’re just eating machines with shoes’. I’ve just shared a video on FB in response to Pauline Hanson’s* hideous comments regarding (I believe) segregation of children on the autism disorder spectrum. Matilda the Musical demonstrates that there are two types of people – those who love stories and those who don’t. It is clear to me which group Ms Hanson is in – the mean, irritating and stupid. So unlike the Miss Honey’s of the world; kind generous, alive and loving. ‘Denying stories is denying the most human part of being a human.’ Much like Ms Hanson is deny the lived experience/story of all people with disabilities.

I also took away from this show not so much the message to be A Little Bit Naughty although Matilda taught it well but something I prefer to tell my children that

Just because you find that life’s not fair it
Doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it!
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
You might as well be saying
You think that it’s okay
And that’s not right!
And if its not right!
You have to put it right!

But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
nobody but me is gonna change my story

Tim Minchin wrote that ‘stories are best when… like a rollercoaster, with highs and lows, twists and turns, a good bit of fear and the significant risk that someone may vomit, ‘ which indeed Matilda had all, with music to accentuate all of these experiences.

After attending events like this I suddenly have a great desire to become a leading supporter of the Arts, unfortunately this like my dream job of being a philanthropist tends to go by the way side. But I do go a little bit crazy on Wikipedia and FB like-ing.  While as a christian I don’t think I can fully support Tim Minchin (renound atheist), his talent is undeniable and Matilda and Me his DVD is officially on my wishlist.

To finish off – interesting fact, Roald Dahl began writing Matilda when he was 70