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.

jane harper.JPG

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.

janette oke.JPG

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!

mgtd.JPG

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 🙂

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 

Books

WWW Wednesday 6th September

Gosh it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these! (Almost 3 months)

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:

Tonight I read Say Please, Louise by Keith Harvey and illustrated by Lauren Beard. My daughter chose it from the library as Louise is her middle name. It was a nice book abut learning to use manners. Whilst enjoyable it was a bit simplistic so only 3/5 stars.

My son chose Hey Mum, I Love you by Corinne Fenton, a seriously sweet book using fairly iconic animal photos to illustrate a love letter to Mum. As a Mum I’m sure I’m slight;y biased 4/5 stars 🙂

Three other picture books I read recently which inspired me to rate them on Goodreads were:

Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read! By Mary Jo Amani – a great book set in Africa the wording got better towards the end.

Look, a Book! by Libby Gleeson – not many words in this but the illustrations show the true adventure a book can take you on.

Busting! by Aaron Blabey – this rhyming book was just so fun! I bought it to read to my son who continues to have frequent accidents, not sure it’ll help but I loved it!

What are you currently reading:

Still reading Silence by Shūsaku Endō, I just can’t get into it and I’m sure its keeping me from getting into any reading but I’m determined to eventually, one day finish it!

Also reading my textbook Emotion-Focsed Couples Therapy: The Dynamics of Emotion, Love and Power by Leslie Greenberg and Rhonda Goldman which given the current state of my marriage is either a healthy or unhealthy thing to do….

What do you think you’ll read next:

I’m pretty keen to get Matilda by Roald Dahl on audiobook to listen to with the kids in the car.

I’ll get Attachments by Rainbow Rowell for bookclub from a friend tomorrow so looking forward to that too.

Happy Reading All 🙂

Books · Uncategorized

When are you reading – The Pillars of the Earth

when-are-you-reading-2017-final

 

Ahhh summer holidays, while the kids may drive me crazy at least I can indulge in my books. My family (finally) had holidays this week including 3 nights away with some friends in a caravan park. As always my priority on holidays (other than ensuring my kids are having a fun time) is to read, read, read – my poor friends, hope they weren’t expecting me to socialise! Thus I managed this week to finish Ken Follett’s masterpiece The Pillars of the Earth and make progress with the When are you reading? challenge by Sam.

I’ve found it hard to rate this book because although I really liked the characters, their flaws, triumphs and adventures, overall I just didn’t love it. I did love getting an insight into English history particularly the roles of churches, earls, kings and the impact on peasants. I also really appreciated how Prior Phillips faith was portrayed. In fact there was nothing really I disliked about it but nonetheless my rating is only 3.5 out of 5. I devoured this authors Century trilogy a few years ago but think my craving for more of his writing is now satisfied….would still be interested in seeing the movie though!

Progress Tracker

Pre 1500 – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

1500-1599 

1600-1699 

1700-1799 –Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

1800-1899  

1900-1919

1920-1939 – The Small Woman by Alan Burgess

1940-1959

1960-1979 – In progress … Exposure

1980-1999 

2000-Present 

The Future 

Books · Uncategorized

Bookish mood swings – reviews of 2016

Since I finished up study for the year I have been reading like a crazy woman, kinda. I finished a book tonight that I felt was starting to put me in a funk, but fortunately I really liked the ending so I’m hopeful it’s a good vibe for tomorrow, a much needed home day.

The book was Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp. Although it had a rather predictable plot line around embryo adoption and abduction, I enjoyed the story for it’s characters and the endless relate able question of mothers – am I good enough? Although I fear it got me asking the question too much the last few days when I’ve been sore and tired and not up to scratch. After a bad work day today I felt very much on the verge of a slump and was a bit wary of continuing the book, especially as part of my negative thoughts are around all the work I’m not doing at home while reading…  but as already shared it had a positive ending so instead of going to bed too-tired to do anything else, I’ve found some energy to write a blog and connect, hooray! Do you find books get you into a mood? It’s all positive when it’s a feel good book but not so healthy on depressive topics.

Some other books I’ve read recently (i.e. last year or so :p)

I had to wait to finish the Divergent series by Veronica Roth but loved the third book Allegiant – particularly the epilogue and Fours chosen career path (really appreciate authors who write epilogiues!). Two quotes I also loved/appreciated

I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.” -> so very very true of marriage.

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself…But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, I found it both very interesting and very boring! I would find myself getting caught up in the story only to find myself lost again and utterly confused (particularly by character names). It was a bookclub read and most didn’t finish it, but one girl loved it, describing the writing style as beautiful.I would have liked to have made it to the end but it was not an easy book to come back to.

And you know you should be glad by Bob Greene. A lot of it I couldn’t relate to – personal anecdotes, perhaps from an older era and of male friendships. I loved it though as it celebrated the amazing gift of friendship and gave me a wonderful excuse to think about a dear friend.

It took me awhile to finish The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert but I think it was worth it. Set in Glasgow about a community deeply affected by the Troubles in Ireland it was interesting for it’s historical insights (although initially difficult to comprehend) and complex characters. In the end it was a story of family and hope which I enjoyed.

The Power of Bones by Keelen Mailman – a very honest story about a modern aboriginal woman and all she’s achieved despite adversity. An inspiring and sobering read.

We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – really enjoyed it by the end – her mother wanted her life to be extraordinary – but I think this is better -A Mediocre Life – http://www.alifeinprogress.ca/?p=1065

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert I wanted to like it but it just kept going and going!!

Two I couldn’t finish were The Dressmaker (Rosalie Ham) and The Heart Goes Last (Margaret Atwood).

Next I’ve been given a very thick Judy Nunn book….or perhaps it’s time to get to those guilt evoking jobs…

 

 

 

Books · Future · Uncategorized

Chapter One

‘You have the power to change stuff’ Daniel Flynn founder and managing director of Thankyou, previously Thankyou Water.

I am passionate about helping people and making a difference, I have a few ideas I’d like to look into further and maybe one day take somewhere. But that day is not here yet.

Daniel Flynn gives some great tips and shares many inspiring stories in this book and I feel a pressure to act now. But I’m already juggling a few plates at the moment – most importantly being a Mum, which leaves little energy for anything else.

Some people may be able to dream big and take action, devoting themselves heart and soul but I don’t think that’s me.

I will support you though, read your book, buy your products. My ideas may be sitting on the shelf for now but I will continue to dust them and stand firm in the knowledge that everything I do now will enrich me for when the time is right.

 

Books

Book review (comments really!) The Signature of All Things

I’m an avid book reader (another few letters to add to the list BR), and have a growing collections on Goodreads.com (I started on living social anyone else remember that one?) but I never write reviews because I could never write something as comprehensive to be considered a review I’d prefer to just write a few comments, which now I have my own Blog, I can!!

And so begins my first (hopefully of many) – Book Comment (please add your own)

I’ve just finished reading (12th Feb) The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (yes a ‘slight’ delay in publishing this post!)

I received this as a Christmas present in 2013 but reading the blurb didn’t really enthuse me (the topic botany in particular), so although I appreciated the thought of the gift from a special friend the book was very much near the bottom of to-read pile

Until I commented on a The Book Club facebook post about current reads…

(short interlude – I’ve had a lovely reading summer starting with Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants and also including the Hunger Games series & unfortunately my second Peter Carey book a bookclub requirement)

…I had finished my previous read and was awaiting my next inspiration and many commenters were writing highly of this book, so I picked it off the bedroom floor.

I still wasn’t expecting much though as I havn’t really heard the best reviews of Eat, Love, Pray (probably moreso the movie with one of my favourite actresses Julia Roberts, which I still have not seen) BUT I was pleasantly surprised.

And now I come to the crux of a book review and I’ve nothing more to add LOL. I really did enjoy the read and loved that the heroine for the greater majority of the book was an older woman, refreshing to read a book from the point of view of a spinster type character – she was rather marvelous. For any more details you will have to read the book yourself and then get back to me so we can discuss it some more!