25 January, 2010

What are you reading Monday?

Today I am reading The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.

Rosamunde Pilcher was one of the people featured in Wisdom. I enjoyed reading her thoughts and put The Shell Seekers on reserve at the library.

From Goodreads:

The Shell Seekers is a novel of connection: of one family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The Shell Seekers is filled with real people mothers and daughters, husband and lovers  inspired with real values. The Shell Seekers centers on Penelope Keeling  a woman you'll always remember in world you'll never forget. The Shell Seekers is a magical novel, the kind of reading experience that comes along only one in a long while.

I love a good family saga and I am really enjoying this!

I'm also dipping my toes in The Greatest Lies In History. I bought this for my best friend for Christmas and now that she has read it, I've stolen it back!

Have a great reading week!

20 January, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

After reading this I want to go to Guernsey. And join a literary society. And write letters.

Set in post world war 2, TGLAPPPS is the story of a group of friends in Guernsey and how they survived the German Occupation with good books and good friends. It all starts when one of the society write to Juliet Ashton, a writer in London who throughout the war wrote a column under a pseudonym about the war, often painting events in a humourous light. When Dawsey Adams discovers her address in an old book of hers, he writes to her asking for the name and address of a bookshop in London where he may get more of Charles Lambs works. Thus begins the friendship between Juliet and the Society as more of them write to her and she eventually visits them to write their story.

The whole book is written in letters - something I thought I would find difficult to follow but actually found it incredibly easy. It's amazing how easy it was to follow each characters story and identify their different "voices." It truly made me mourn the lost art of letter writing! The other great thing about this book is because of the letter format, it was easy to read one or two letters when you had a free ten minutes, rather than having to get through a whole chapter or stop half way through one. Since I spent much of my reading time on a ferry travelling back and forth, this format never left me feeling rushed or unfinished.

There was one particular quote I wanted to include and of course, I can't find it! It went something along the lines of "That's the problem with good books, they spoil you for all the bad ones you use to read." I promise when I find it I'll source it properly!

Started: 18/1                       Finished: 20/1

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett

As I mentioned in my previous post, this was a re-read of one of Australia's excellent YA authors. I am pleased to say, it lived up to my memories - so many re-reads don't.

Hartnett's writing is subtle. The children in the Willow family - Edward, Michelle, Jordan, Oliver and Speck have a secret. It must be kept a secret from their father who is prone to fits of violent anger, especially against Jordan. Mum barely moves from her chair and the children are left to fend for themselves. Hartnett never openly states the secret, but you know - and it's not pleasant. The whole setting for the family is not pleasant and you want something to be done about it. But Bow, the outsider who discovers the secret is not who you want to discover it. He's not nice, not helpful and above all, arrogant and way to sure of himself and his superiority. The ending is shocking. It resolves one issue but leaves so much more unsaid.

Hartnett and other Australian YA authors such as John Marsden have been criticised for their books that leave issues unresolved or are unhappy. Personally, I think it's a good thing. Kids are not stupid. They know things don't always work out perfectly or work out at all.

I enjoyed re-reading Sleeping Dogs. Glad I can still see why it was controversial and while it's inclusion on any school reading list can cause issues. I'm looking forward to re-reading the rest of her stuff.

Started: 16/1                            Finished 18/1

18 January, 2010

What are you reading Monday

Today I am reading Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett

Sonya Hartnett would have to be one of the best Australian Authors for young adults. Her books are confronting, well written and thought provoking. I read Sleeping Dogs years ago, but have recently decided to embark on a retrospective of Hartnett's work, so expect to see a bit of her.

Sleeping Dogs is the story of the Willow family. A strange and dysfunctional family  who run a caravan park on their farm. They are secretive and close knit. Along comes Bow, an artist who stays at the caravan park and discovers the secret the family is hiding.

13 January, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I know nothing about this book except several people have told me it's great and I should read it.

Started: 12/1
Finished: 16/1

I found this unputdownable! Every time people saw me over the four days I was trying to get back to the book. 
I was a tad concerned when I started reading it that it would be full of religious angst - I can't remember why, but there was sentence at the beginning that had me worried. And while it is a story of one persons search for spirituality, it's not heavy on the religous stuff.
Elizabeth Gilbert spend a year living abroad, searching for balance and control in her life, She spent 4 months in Italy (eat), 4 months at an Ashram in India (pray) and 4 months in Bali (love). It was interesting to watch her change, reach her goals and change her life. It's not sugar coated, there were set backs and challenges. She is very frank about how these affected her and how she dealt with them, without denigrating others around her. 
I'd like to read this again when I'm not feeling so driven to get to the end. Slow down and savour it more. I have a feeling it's going to become one of those books I pick up, open to a page and just read a bit. I'm also going to get her next one called Committed. 

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Started: 11/1
Finished 12/1

Review: I first read this book a few years ago and actually threw it across the room when I got to the end. I almost did it again, but I was on the ferry and so resisted the urge.
Bruno's father is a very important man. He's not sure what his father does, but after the Fury came to dinner and everyone started calling his father Commandant, they had to move away from their house in Berlin and go to Out-With. Here, Bruno walks along the fence one day until he finds Shmuel, a little boy the same age as Bruno who lives on the other side of the fence. Thus begins a friendship with far reaching consequences.
The Boy in Striped Pyjamas would be a great way to open up discussion with children - especially those around the 10-12 age group about the holocaust and the events surrounding it. The ending is not pretty - in fact it is pretty confronting. Bruno is incredibly innocent and at times comes across as extremely naive, even for a 9 year old. He has absolutely no idea what goes on behind the fence, or why he and Shmuel can't play together like normal kids. It's a book I'd love to do with a class - although it would have to be a year 6 or 7 group, towards the end of the year and with parental involvement.  It has been made into a movie, which I would like to see, just to see how closely they stick to the story.

11 January, 2010

What are you reading Monday

Joined up with this one too! :) Another J Kaye's event. So, what am I reading today?

I'm still on Wisdom and have just finished A Month of Sundays while sitting on the beach this morning. Am contemplating what to read next. Choices are:

Friendly Fire - Wil Anderson
The Summer Garden - Paullina Simons
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
What The Mother Knew - Edmund Tadros
One Door Too Many - Ron Stephenson
The Boy it Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne

I'll post again when I know what I choose.

09 January, 2010

A Month of Sundays

A Month of Sundays by James O"Loghlin.

James O'Loghlin is a Australian comedian who currently works for ABC radio and television. I've always enjoyed listening and watching him and so when I saw this at the library I just had to grab it. James and his partner Lucy, wake one morning to the sound of the house next door being demolished. They know it will be followed by the noise of rebuilding. They have a month before they can shift camp to Lucy's parents while they go away. James works evenings, meaning they are all at home during the hours when building is most likely to happen. Instead of hanging around the house with one year old Bibi and getting headaches and annoyed, they decide to explore the city where they live. Every morning the pack up and head off for a different place to explore. Not just the tourist places like Darling Harbour, the Aquarium and the zoo, but suburbs they have driven past but never stopped to look at.
I'm finding this very easy to read and the idea enthralling. It makes you realise how much you don't know about where you live and how much there is to discover.

Follow up comments: A very enjoyable read. I now have this desire to get out and see more of what is around me. O'Loghlin was very honest about his reactions to certain places such as Auburn and Lakemba which have high Muslim populations. As they passed the mosque, there was a crowd gathering and O'Loghin says "I had sense of intruding, perving, of being somewhere I didn't belong, looking at things that were none of my business. Yet I can't say where I got it from. No one looked at us at all. It was more an indication of my own uneasiness at being there than of anything else. Perhaps in the past year I'd read too many stories about gangs of 'men of Middle Eastern appearance.' I think I half expected them to be prowling around. But this wasn't a gang, it was a group coming together to worship." 
O'Loghin also examined his own anxiety issues and how he feels this experience helped him deal with it. How it helped him to just enjoy the moment and take things at face value. His final comment, I feel, has great value.
"...what you might want to do is have a think about whether, within an hour's drive of where you live, there is somewhere you've never been before and you might enjoy a few hours looking around. I bet there is. And if you decide...to go and have a look, I'll make another bet with you: I bet that when you get home you won't think it was a day wasted.

Started: 8/1               Finished 11/1

08 January, 2010


My mother actually bought this for me last Christmas and apart from the occasional dip, I haven't really read it.
Andrew Zuckerman recorded the  thought and ideas of 50 prominent writers, artists, designers, actors, politicians, musicians, religious leaders and business leaders. All of them are over 65 .
It's likely to sit on my coffee table and be read slowly so there will be another, more portable read as well. Just don't know what yet!

Started: 7/1
Finished: 18/1

What an interesting read. To read the thoughts of 50 people who have lived interesting and challenging lives is incredibly inspiring. I've taken to posting a quote each day from the book on my Facebook page! Some people have full on essays. A whole page of their thoughts on wisdom, their lives, how they got to where they are and where they want to go now. Others provided a line or two. For me, the best way to express this book is with a series of quotes from it.

Nobody can teach me who I am. - Chinua Achebe

Watership Down was never intended to be a parable or an allegory. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a tale about rabbits. - Richard Adams

You have to be taught to hate . - Dave Brubeck

If you put very few things on a page, you leave lots of room for the imagination. - Dick Bruna

Generosity overpowers greed. - Bryce Courtenay

Children can change the world. - Jane Goodall

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. - Nelson Mandela

I learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. - Nelson Mandela

Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right. - Nelson Mandela

Nowadays being famous is almost a lifestyle, it's almost a career. Kids grow up thinking "I'll be a celebrity." That kind of empty celebrity and the fame that might follow is dangerous. It's celebrity without substance. - Michael Parkinson

You're travelling on a liner and you're travelling cheap, and you look down on the first-class people all having a marvellous time, having drinks and the rest of it, and you think, "Gosh,here I am stuck on this horrible little deck." But if you fall overboard, that deck would look like heaven, wouldn't it? It's entirely point of view. Perspective. - Rosamunde Pilcher

Each one of us can be an oasis of peace. - Desmond Tutu

Finished in 2010

109. Ten Thousand Sorrows - Elizabeth Kim (228p)
108. The Complete Peanuts: 1953-1954 - Charles Schulz (320p)
107. The Burning Bridge - John Flanagan (293p)
106. Jessie Mei Mei - Sharon Guest & Stuart Neal (234p)
105. Trouble All The Way - Sonya Hartnett (104p) (30770p)
104. At Home - Bill Bryson (512p)
103. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro (288p)
102. Mimimum of Two - Tim Winton (144p)
101. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (453p)
100. Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater (390p) (29269p)
99. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes (324p)
98. This is not a Drill, Just Another Glorious Day in the Oilfield - Paul Carter (224p)
97. The Sculptress - Minette Walters (464p)
96. The Ruins of Gorlan - John Flanagan (280p)
95. Gregor the Overlander - Suzanne Collins (308p)  (27587p)
94. Left Shoe and the Foundling - Annie O'Dowd (77p)
93. The Complete Peanuts: 1950 - 1952 - Charles Schulz (337p)
92. Mr Rosenblum's List - Natasha Solomons (311p)
91. Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse - Paul Carter (204p)
90. She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb (465p)  (26350p)
89. Breakout: How I Escaped from the Exclusive Brethren - David Tchappat (238p)
88. Love is the Higher Law - David Levithan (167p)
87. Salvation Creek - Susan Duncan (402p)
86. The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster (336p)
85. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (472p) (24742p)
84. The Double Comfort Safari Club - Alexander McCall Smith (256p)
83. Postsecret: extraordinary confessions from ordinary lives - Frank Warren (276p)
82. The Secret Lives of Men and Women - Frank Warren (144p)
81. The Aloha Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini (321p)
80. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee (309p) (23273p)
79. A Taste for It - Monica McInerney (437p)
78. House Rules - Jodi Picoult (532p)
77. Of A Boy - Sonya Hartnett (188p)
76. My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares (324p)
75. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built - Alexander McCall Smith (256p) (21483)
74. Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (454p)
73. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares (326p)
72. The Tincture of Salt - Alicia Bennett (98p)
71. 206 Bones - Kathy Reichs (320p)
70. We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver (500p) (20029p)
69. Celebrity Detox - Rosie O'Donnell (224p)
68. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett (150p)
67. What's Happening to our Boys - Maggie Hamilton (320p)
66. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer (178p)
65. Mistborn Book One: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson (643p) (18657p)
64. The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway (227p)
63. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo (270p)
62. The Hour I First Believed - Wally Lamb (640p)
61. What's Happening To Our Girls - Maggie Hamilton (256p)
60. Culloden Tales: Stories From Scotland's most Famous Battleground - Hugh G Allison (224p) (16621p)
59. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood (324p)
58. A Quilter's Holiday - Jennifer Chiaverini (278p)
57. Odd One Out - Monica McInerney (150p)
56. Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Killer - Stephen Singular (304p)
55. The Lost Quilter - Jennifer Chiaverini (227p)
54. What the Mother Knew- Edmund Tadros (160p)
53. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert (285p)
52. Tracks - Robyn Davidson (250p)
51. The Quilter's Kitchen - Jennifer Chiaverini (75p)
50. A Lucky Child - Thomas Burgenthal (228p) (14344p)
49. Columbine - Dave Cullen (388p)
48. Scission - Tim Winton (158p)
47. The Ice House - Minette Walters (430p)
46. Teachers Who Change Lives - Andrew Metcalfe & Ann Game (163p)
45. The Winding Ways Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini (310p)
44. The New Year's Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini (223p)
43. Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies - Michael Adams (332p)
42. Perfect Skin - Nick Earls (354p)
41. Well Done, Those Men - Barry Heard (304p)
40. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - Kate DiCamillo (200p) (11454p)
39. The Quilter's Homecoming - Jennifer Chiaverini (336p)
38. Circle of Quilters - Jennifer Chiaverini (309p)
37. The Pact - Jodi Picoult (480p)
36. Jane Austen Ruined my Life - Beth Pattillo (270p)
35. Push - Sapphire (176p)
34. Shallows - Tim Winton (260p)
33. The Forgotten Children - David Hill (314p)
32. The Christmas Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini (240p)
31. On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan (166p)
30. Headgames - Nick Earls (290p)   (8703p)
29. Three Letter Plague - Jonny Steinberg (240p)
28. The Sugar Camp Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini (336p)
27. The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton - Catherine Allicott (520p)
26. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (546p)
25. A Tale of Two Families - Jenny Pausacker (154p)
24. The Dog Who Loved a Queen - Jackie Frency (207p)
23. The Master Quilter - Jennifer Chiaverini (266p)
22. The Quilter's Legacy - Jennifer Chiaverini (246p)
21. The Runaway Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini (247p)
20. The Cross Country Quilters - Jennifer Chiaverini (368p) (5651p)
19. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (478p)
18. Round Robin - Jennifer Chiaverini (304p)
17. Bachelor Kisses - Nick Earls (393p)
16, The Quilters Apprentice - Jennifer Chiaverini (271p)
15. Mr Pip - Lloyd Jones (256p)
14. After January - Nick Earls (195p)
13. Friendly Fire - Wil Anderson (245p)
12. The Host - Stephenie Meyer (217p)
11. Zigzag Street - Nick Earls (274p)
10. The Shell Seekers - Rosamunde Pilcher (797p) (2650p)
9. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows (265p)
8. Sleeping Dogs - Sonya Hartnett (130p)
7. Wisdom - Andrew Zuckerman (211p)
6. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert (248p)
5. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne (216p)
4. A Month of Sundays - Jame O'Loghlin (216p)
3. Every Secret Thing - Maire Munkara (192p)
2. The True Story of Butterfish - Nick Earls (280p)
1. All You Need is Love. Fifteen Journeys into Motherhood - Suzy Zail (95p)

Stats on 31 December, 2010.

Adult reads: 90
Fiction: 77
Non Fiction: 31
Poetry: 1
Australian: 35
Pages: 31845

March 4 - 20 books read (20%) Average of just over 2 books a week. Projected target 104 books.

May 27 - 40 books read (40%) Average of just under 2 books a week. Projected target 99 books.

May 6 - Over 10000 pages read.

June 21 - 50 books read (50%) Average of  just over 2 books a week. Projected target 108 books.

July 20 - 60 books read (60%) Average of just over 2 books a week.  Projected target of 111 books.

September 25 - 77 books read (77%) Average of  just over 2 books a week. Projected target of 105 books.
                       - over 21000 pages read.

November 2 - 92 books read (92%)  Average of just over 2 books a week. Projected target of 108 books
                     - over 25000 pages read.

December 4 - 100 books read!!!! (100%) Average just over 2 books a week.
Projected number of 108 books by the end of December.
Almost 30 000 pages!

From January 7

I'm reading this for book club. Only pages in and it has already made me laugh out loud several times (can be embarrassing on the ferry!) A friend who has read it already told me I will cry as well. This is the story of a catholic mission in the Northern Territory and their often vain attempts to convert the local bush mob. My favourite part so far is when a child asks the bishop this question about the serpent in the garden of Eden.

"But why did Eve eat the apple? Wouldn't the snake have tasted better?" queried Jeremiah
"And why aren't there any black angels? Why are they always white?" asked another.
"And if God made the world, then who made God?"
"And why is his name dog backwards?"
His Most Anxious, head spinning from this onslaught, looked to Sister for assistance. But Sister, harbouring a long-held contempt for his Most Sleazy and having borne the brunt of similar questioning herself, continued to clean up her desk and ignored him.
"Er, well, the snake might have been poisonous, " he proffered.
"Poison snakes don't clomb trees!" Ruth flung back amid murmers of assent from the rest of the class.
"Well how do you know that it lived in a tree?"
"Look here," said Cecilia, showing him their text with a beautifully illustrated depiction of Adam and Eve being shamefully ousted from the Garden of Eden while the snake leered at their retreating backs from a nearby bush. 

I must warn you (and it's most probably fairly obvious from the above passage) the book is not exactly complimentary to the Catholic chuch.

I have also managed to squeeze in another book.

I first came across Nick Earls in my role as a teacher librarian and his young adult books. Very rarely have I found a young adult author whose adult books are just as good. I'm fairly sure it was a passage from Bachelor Kisses that had me laughing so hard I could hardly breath. Butterfish is the story of one half of once highly successful band and his return to Brisbane and a "normal" existence. It was hard not to draw parallels between Butterfish (the name of the band) and Savage Garden. One band member very out there and appearing to love the hype, the other more reserved and wanting to stay in the background. Two hugely successful albums, followed by a band break up. Earls himself acknowledges the similarities, but assures us that's where it ends. Hmm, think I may have to add Nick Earls to my list of authors to read all of!

From January 1

All You Need is Love. Fifteen Journeys into Motherhood - Suzy Zail

I picked this up while doing the Christmas shopping. It's the exact right thing to start the new year with. Fifteen different women tell their story about motherhood. Same sex parenting, single parenting, donor egg, grandmothers raising grandchildren. The common theme - love.


So I have decided to join the 100+ Books challenge for 2010 and I thought it would be easier to track it on a completely different blog rather than on my craft blog. It may take a few days for me to get this all set up, so bear with me. I will start by reposting the posts I have already done over at my other blog, which you can check out here if you are really interested!