30 April, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What am I reading now.

Spartacus: The Gladiator - Ben Kane
This was sent to me by the publisher for review. I'm not far into it, but think it's going to be quite good!

Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It - Howard Jacobson

This was our book group read for April. Book group was on Sunday. I hadn't finished and I'm fairly sure I'm not going to.

What am I listening to.

Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
So I am driving again, but the other week I forgot to take my Kindle with me to listen to The Potato Factory so I borrowed this...and because it's a library audio I need to listen to it first so I can return it on time. Poor Bryce Courtenay, still waiting for me!
The Potato Factory - Bryce Courtenay
I will get back to it eventually, I promise!

Blog recommendation this week.

This weeks blog recommendation is Vodkamom. Vodkamom is an American kindergarten teacher who tells the funniest stories about her kids. In between she also blogs about her kids - teenage girls Bitchy and Sassy and her son Golden Boy. In the past couple of years her marriage has broken down so there is a bit of that there too.
To illustrate the funny things her kindergarteners say, I give you this:

We were working in our journals during Kid Writing today, and it was the girls' turn to sit at my table. They were working on their pictures, and I was helping with the words when SOMEHOW the girls got on the topic of pierced ears. (We had spent the last ten minutes searching for the tiny, clear BACK to one of Sasha's earrings, only to miraculously find it on the carpet. I'm surprised jack hadn't eaten it, but that's another story altogether.)

"When I get big, I'm gonna get my nose pierced AND maybe my LIP!" Lily said dramatically.
Sasha looked at me and raised her eyebrows. "Well," she said matter of-factly, sitting with her legs crossed as she colored, "I might get my nose pierced, but never my privacy. No girl, not my privacy."


(Omg. I don't know HOW I hold it together. I just don't know.)

Source: http://www.vodkamom.com/2012/04/honestly-some-days-im-convinced-im-just.html
And she does other cool things with them, like grass heads!

Love my Vodkamom!

What I Read In the Last Two Weeks
I missed out on Monday's post las week, so this week you get two weeks worth of finishes!

Ishamel and the Hoops of Steel - Michael Gerard Bauer

Don't Call Me Ishmael - Gerard Bauer

The Golden Day - Ursula Dubosarsky

The Dead I Know  - Scot Gardner

They are all younger readers and all from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list.  Except Don't Call Me Ishmael. If you are into YA fiction I strongly, strongly recommend The Dead I Know. I still have three other titles in the Short List to read, but they will have to be spectacular to beat The Dead.

What's next?
The rest of the CBCA Ollder Readers short list is a pretty high proprity at the moment - with the added bonus of being good reads!
So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

28 April, 2012

The Dead I Know

Title: The Dead I Know
Author: Scot Gardner
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From the Blurb:  You wake up in the middle of the night. Your arms and feet are pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says 'steady, we're here to help.' Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper's Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off, and you have absolutely no idea how you got there.
Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can't explain, and memories he can't recover. Death doesn't scare him - his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn't discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.

What I thought: This is the third book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list. 
Wow. If you read only one book from the short list - make it this one. I have another three to read after this, but they will have to be very impressive to out do this. You feel for Aaron. On top of the sleepwalking and recurring dreams, his Mam is not well and their neighbours at the caravan park they live at are not doing anything to make life easier. Gardner draws you into Aaron's mind, you feel his fear, his confusion, his desire for this to work, but the barriers he also struggles against. I think a quote by John Marsden on the back says it best - I have never read a book more gripping, nor a book more triumphantly alive. I love how it haunts me still. I swear, I will never forget The Dead I Know.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

27 April, 2012

The Golden Day

Title: The Golden Day
Author: Ursula Dubosarsky
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: There were only eleven of them, like eleven sisters all the same age in a large family. Because it was such a very small class, they had a very small classroom, perched at the very top of the school - up four flights of stairs, up in the high sky, like a colony of little birds nesting on a cliff.
'Today, girls,' said Miss Renshaw, 'we shall go out into the beautiful Gardens and think about death.'
In the Gardens they meet a poet. What follows is inexplicable, shocking, a scandal.
What really happened that day? And do the little girls know more than they are letting on?

What I thought: This is the second book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list. 
I'm a fan of Ursula Dubosarsky. I find her to be an original and thoughtful writer. The Golden Day is no exception. To tell you the truth, when I first finished it I was a bit nonplussed...but I kept coming back to it, thinking about the events and the outcome. Dubosarsky is a master of not saying things, letting the reader discover secrets and clues through the interactions of the characters and at a point where you just about despair of ever knowing the truth. And in the end, your still not 100% sure what happened, but you do know the events of that day will effect those girls for the rest of their lives.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

26 April, 2012

Don't Call Me Ishmael

Title: Don't Call Me Ishmael
Author: Michael Gerard Bauer
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: There's no easy way to put this, so I'll say it straight out. It's time I faced up to the truth. I'm fourteen years old and I have Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome. There is no cure. And there is no instant cure to not fitting in. But that won't stop Ishmael and his intrepid band of misfits from taking on bullies, bugs, babes, the Beatles, debating, and the great white whale in the toughest, the weirdest, the most embarrassingly awful...and the best year of their lives.
What I thought: I didn't intend to read this so quickly after reading Hoops of Steel, but as it happened I forgot to take my book to work and so I pulled this off the shelves to have something to read during lunch.
Don't call me Ishmael takes us back to year 9 at St Daniel's and the beginning of Ishamael's stunning career as a debator and admirer of Kelly Faulkner. What I am really enjoying about this series is it portrays teenage boys as something other than meat head sports players or geeky outsiders. I believe in Ishmael and his friends. They are a mixed bunch drawn together through debating, but they are what I imagine the vast majority of kids in high school are like. Bauer is easy to read, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.

25 April, 2012

Ishmael and The Hoops of Steel

Title: Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel
Author: Michael Gerard Bauer
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From the Blurb: Ishmael has made it to the Senior School and things are really looking up. His nemesis and chief tormentor Barry Bagsley has finally decided to leave him alone, while his dream girl and chief goddess Kelly Faulkner has finally decided not to. Has he broken free of Ishmael Leseur's Syndrome at last? Could his remaining two years at St Daniel's College actually be described as 'normal'? Absolutely not.

What I thought: This is the first book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list.  This is the third book in a series, however, despite the fact I haven't read the first two books, I was easily able to pick up the story. It most probably helps that the book begins at the start of the school year so it is like starting afresh.
Ishmael and his mates - Ignatius, Scobie, Bill and the Razzman - are set to make their final two years at St Daniel's ones to remember. But along the way, as always there are challenges and room for improvement.
I quite enjoyed this - enough to borrow the first two in the series. Bauer's characters are believable, but amusing. Their escapades could happen and their support of each other everything we hope for our boys. Knowing how Ishmael ends up, I look forward to going back and reading where he comes from.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

19 April, 2012

10 Years of Sharing Books

Ten years ago today, I produced this

How clever was I! Unfortunately, he chose to scare the hell out of us and less than 24 hours later, he was like this

Thanks to the brilliant staff at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Canberra Hospital, less than two weeks later I took home this

 Today, there is this

Last night he chose to scare the hell out of us again with severe abdominal pain. Bad enough that his dad took him to hospital. In the end it's turned out to be nothing. Today he is fine and totally he enjoyed his day off school.

The child was lucky enough to be born into a house where both parent read, so that's what we did. Here are a selection of favourites over the past 10 years.

Baby/Toddler Years

The first book he ever "read" to me. He still pulls it out now and then.

Don't ever attempt to read this after a few wines - very funny!

A favourite from Nanna and Pops house.

Anyone for a wild rumpus?

Chapter Books to Share

A great series we shared that he now reads independently

Is any childhood complete without this?

My husband and I raced each other to be the one who read each night during this.
Books that boys love.

Funny, funny books. The whole series is brilliant.

A wonderful Australian author - a great beginner fantasy series

Totally disgusting - perfect for boys. Other titles by this author include The Day My Bum went Psycho and Zombie Bums from Uranus.

 Following in his father's footsteps

And this is what he is reading now. It appears my son may be a fantasy buff, just like his dad.

Happy birthday baby boy, I am so proud to be your mum!

16 April, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

 What am I reading now.

The first of the CBCA Book of the Year Older Readers Short list books. I have five of the six and after spending several minutes trying to decide which one to read first, I decided to go alphabetically!

This is our book group book this month. It's ok, but I think I've picked another dud...

Surgeon tomorrow and I'm hoping he'll tell me I can drive so I'll be back to listening to this in the car.

Blog recommendation this week.

This weeks blog is Enjoying The Small Things. As anyone who has been reading this blog over the last couple of weeks will know, Kelle Hampton (who writes Enjoying the Small Things) blogs about her gorgeous family and their journey with Nella, their two year old who has Down Syndrome. For me it's the photos that make this blog.

The gorgeous Nella.   

Kelle found this book store decoration in NY!

I also love the up beat feel of this blog. Kelle and her family really do take time to Enjoy the small things!
What I Read This Week

Two finishes this week.

Pyramids - Terry Pratchett

Bloom - Kelle Hampton

What's next?

Hoping to push through the Children's Book Council of Australia Older Readers short list pretty quickly so that will likely be my focus for the next few weeks. I also start back at the library on Wednesday so lord knows what I will bring home from there!
So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

15 April, 2012


Title: Bloom: finding beauty in the unexpected
Author: Kelle Hampton
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - own

From Goodreads: Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.
That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story.

When photographer Kelle Hampton learned she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband, Brett, were ecstatic. Her pregnancy went smoothly and the ultrasounds showed a beautiful, healthy, high-kicking baby girl.
But when her new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her two-year-old sister Lainey had at birth. As she watched friends and family celebrate with champagne toasts and endless photographs, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome-a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle's fear and pain were vanquished by joy, as she embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift.
Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life-a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes. It is a story about embracing life and really living it, of being fearless and accepting difference, of going beyond constricting definitions of beauty, and of the awesome power of perspective. As Hampton writes, "There is us. Our Family. We will embrace this beauty and make something of it. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky."

What I thought: I am a devout reader of Kelle's blog Enjoying the Small Things. Like many others, the first post I ever read was Nella's birth story and it touched me - not just her words, but the photos that accompanied them. Please, go have a look, it is worth it. From that day I have looked forward to every new post of Enjoying the Small Things, the photos, the stories - everything. So when I heard that Kelle was releasing a book about Nella's first year, I knew I had to have it.
Bloom fills in the gaps that the blog leaves. It explores Kelle's deepest feelings about the birth of her daughter and the first year of being a family where one member has an extra chromosome. And it is beautifully written. The rawness of emotions put you right in the book. You feel the love and support in the room as friends gather to celebrate Nella's birth, the fierce protectiveness of Kelle as her daughter endures tests, the uncertainty of how the world outside the protective bubble of family and friends will react. And the photos...I love the photos which only add to the depth of the writing.
I admire Kelle's honesty. She talks about mourning the child she thought she would have - that she thought she should have. She talks about the fear Nella's Down syndrome would have on her other daughter Lainey and what it would mean for the "sister relationship" she promised Lainey. And she talks about her friends. Oh her friends. The support network Kelle Hampton has is the true magic in her life. At all points there was The Net to catch her, hold her, dry her tears and set her back on her feet. Really we should all have a net like Kelle's.
Bloom is a beautiful read - highly recommended.

The Raven Boys Preview

Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.
                      - First line of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I've followed Maggie Stiefvater's blog ever since I read Shiver. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, which set me on the path to reading the Books of Faerie and Scorpio Races when it came out.

 On her blog today she announced a sneak preview of her new book - The Raven Boys.

You can read the first two chapters over at EW's Shelf Life. If you've liked any of her other stuff, it's worth heading over. I'll definitely be buying it.

14 April, 2012

Reading in Bed

I saw this on some napkins that Shelia over at Book Journey posted a picture off. So I went looking for one I could use and found this one over at Readouts.

For me, this is so true. I love reading in bed. In fact this morning, because the hubby was away, the kids were amusing themselves, I had no where to be and simply because I could, I stayed in bed until I finished my book. If I wake in the middle of the night and I can't get back to sleep, I read. I have to read before I go to sleep or else I don't. In fact, bed may be one of my favourite places to read.

What about you, do you read in bed? What do you love or hate about it?

13 April, 2012


Title: Pyramids
Author: Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld
Genre: Fantasy/ Comedy Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle

From Goodreads: It's bad enough being new on the job, but Teppic hasn't a clue as to what a pharaoh is supposed to do. After all, he's been trained at Ankh-Morpork's famed assassins' school, across the sea from the Kingdom of the Sun. First, there's the monumental task of building a suitable resting place for Dad -- a pyramid to end all pyramids. Then there are the myriad administrative duties, such as dealing with mad priests, sacred crocodiles, and marching mummies. And to top it all off, the adolescent pharaoh discovers deceit, betrayal - not to mention a headstrong handmaiden - at the heart of his realm.

What I thought: Yep, another Pratchett! And to be honest, not one of my favourites. It took me a little while to get into this. Normally with Pratchett you can see where he is going, knowing he is not going to get there the way you think he will. In this, it seemed to take awhile to find the direction, but once he did, it picked up. Again, the every day is turned on it's head and given the Pratchett treatment of being ridiculed, twisted and generally laughed at. I'm also using this for my What's in a Name challenge for a type of house because the dead (undead??) pharaoh's lived (existed?) in them. Do you think I can get away with it??

Challenges: Ebook Challenge, What's in a Name Challenge

12 April, 2012

Giveaway over at Turning The Pages!

Turning the Pages has reached 500 followers!! How good is that?? I dream of 500 followers!

To celebrate she is having a give away. Pop over and enter for your chance to win a book or books to the value of $12 (Candian) from Book Depository.

10 April, 2012

Children's Book Counci of Australia - Short list 2012

The Children's Book Council of Australia has released it's short list for 2012. The Council awards a book of year award in five categories:

1. Older Readers
2. Younger Readers
3. Early Childhood
4. Picture Books
5. Eve Pownall award for non-fiction

Last year  I managed to read and review all the books in the first four categories. This year I'm hoping to do all 5 categories.

I've already put all of the older reader books on request at the library. I was thrilled to see they were all available so hopefully they will all come in this week. The 6 short listed older reader books are:

09 April, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

 What am I reading now.

Pratchett is my current fall back author when I'm not sure what I want to read next!

Hopefully when I go back to the surgeon next week he'll tell me I can drive again so I'll be back to listening to this in the car.

Blog recommendation this week.

This weeks blog is Moggit. Moggit is a design blog with a difference, it aims to find the absurd and ridiculous in the design world and bring it to you.

Moggit makes me laugh out loud at least once a week.
What I Read This Week

I better reading this week - not sure why - kids are on holidays, I'm still on the couch and somehow I found more time to read - go figure!

Lone Wolf - Jodi Piccoult - I enjoyed this. I followed it up the day after with a post about my issues with Piccoult's mother characters.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling - Finally got around to re-reading the last in the series. I miss Harry and the gang already!
The Universe Within - Adrian Ridgley - this is a book I proof read for one of my husband's friends who has gone on to self publish this in ebook format.

What's next?

Well the Children's Book Council of Australia has published it's short lists for this year (look out for a post about it tomorrow) and I was thrilled to see all of the books in the older reader categories were in at the library. They are now all on request and hopefully I will be able to pick them up next week. Other than that, I'm looking for ideas on what to read for my Dystopian challenge - do you have any ideas?? I have done a post here on some ideas I have and what I've already read. If you can help me out, it would be greatly appreciated!

So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

08 April, 2012

A Dystopian List

A signed up this year for a Dysptopian Challenge over at Book Journey. I love a good dystopian book, and am aiming for between 4 and 7 books. So far I've been disappointed that I have only read 2, one which was re-read and the other I didn't enjoy. Both were YA reads. So here is a list of others I am considering - maybe this will fire me up! I've chosen them from three sites.

Popular Dystopian Reads on Goodreads
Listverse's Top 12 Dystopian reads
Pop Crunch's The 16Best Dystopian Books of All Time

1. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
2. Wither - Lauren DeStefano
3. The Maze Runner - James Dashner
4. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
5. The Children of Men - P.D. James

That's all I picked out from those websites. I left out things that would be re-reads like

The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood
1984 - George Orwell
Neuromancer - William Gibson

That I may or may not end up reading.

So help me out here! What would you recommend? What, in your opinion is the dystopian novel I cannot miss? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

07 April, 2012

The Universe Within

Awhile ago now, one of my husband's online friends asked if anyone would be willing to proof read a book he'd written and was planning to self publish in ebook format. I happily said yes and was sent a copy. Now Adrian has taken the step of publishing the book and I'm thrilled to review it!

Title: The Universe Within
Author: Adrian Ridgley
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle - supplied by the author

From Amazon: Charles (Chaz) Perez Del Rio is a philosopher, a rockclimber and a geneticist, not necessarily in that order. During a climbing holiday at Mt Arapiles a notion germinates deep within him that he just can’t shake. There is something terribly wrong with the world and the humanity that continues to shape it. So starts a physical and mental journey that Chaz mistakenly believes is of his making. It leads to his discovery of the meaning of it all: all past, all present, all future - everything. He holds the key to mankind’s utopia, a utopia that the universe will share, the future that was always meant to be. But there is a catch - is mankind worthy of the knowing? The alternative is annihilation.
What I thought: First off, little bit of boasting here. My husband designed that cover! The photo is actually of the author, Adrian Ridgley on a climb called Kachoong, a climb that Rockclimbing.com claims is:
The route. The best, most famous, most dreamed about, and most fallen off route in all of Australia.
 The Universe Within starts in two parts. The first focuses on The Collective - a collection of entities whose rhythm is being disturbed, not for the first time. But this time, the ripples are noticeable and The Collective needs to work out what to do. The second part focuses on Ridgley's passion - rock climbing. As the novel progresses, these two worlds come together, presenting some really interesting ideas and thoughts.

The rock climbing parts of the book are awesome! Ridgley's love of the sport is clear. His descriptions of not only how the climb is done, but the thought processes involved are engrossing. I finished the book wanting to rock climb. He describes climbs that actually exist, that he has really done, but does warn at the end of the book that these descriptions are NOT to be taken as beta! (See, I picked up some rock climbing lingo...if you're a rock climber, you know what beta means, if not, read the book to find out!) His descriptions have you holding your breath as Chaz reaches for that next hold, or he finds the magical link between the rock and the climber. Fantastic stuff.

The Collective parts, like The Collective itself, are not as tight. I think part of this is the fact The Collective is an abstract idea to start with. It's role and purpose are hard to grasp, as Ridgley reveals bit by bit the link between them and Chaz. In the beginning of the book, I struggled with The Collective parts. However, I was proof reading it as well as trying to get my head around the concepts. Without the proof reading, I would have been able to focus more on the idea of The Collective. The further into the book, the more interesting and easier I found The Collective to read. As links were made I became intrigued by the idea Ridgley was drawing out.

The Universe Within is not perfect, but it is well worth the read. It shows an author with promise and will make you wonder about whether knowing the answers to all of the world's ills would be such a good thing after all.

The Universe Within can be purchased for Kindle from Amazon. At only $2.99, it's a bargain!

Challenges: ebook Challenge; Aussie Author Challenge

06 April, 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J.K Rowling
Series: Harry Potter
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Children/ Young Adult
Format: Book - Personal Collection

From Goodreads: Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him... 
What I thought: The book that ended it all - and did it so well! From the first death in this you knew it would be darker, more serious than the rest of the books put together. The task facing Harry, Ron and Hermoine looks insurmountable and I felt their frustration as they spent the first half of the book seeming to wander aimlessly around with no real plan. I agreed with Harry's anger at Dumbledore's passing and leaving Harry with little to go on.
And then the second half of the book takes off. Discoveries are made, advances made and old enemies faced. Once the battle at Hogwart's started there was no putting the book down until the end. And every single time I cry when Fred, Lupin and Tonks die. Every. Single. Time!
For me the Potter series managed something not may series of this length manages. Every book was good. Not only that, every book upped the anti just a little, until the last one which upped it a lot! The characters grew with the reader. K.J. Rowling created a world and people that I think will live forever. It will be a long time before the likes of the Harry Potter series is seen again.