Wednesday 31 July 2019

Book Club Book Review: A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird

A Lifetime of Impossible Days
Tabitha Bird

Publisher: Penguin Books
Imprint: Viking
Publication date: 4th June 2019
Pages: 395
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace book club

On one impossible day in 1965, eight-year-old Willa Waters receives a mysterious box containing a jar of water and the instruction: 'One ocean: plant in the backyard.' So she does - and somehow creates an extraordinary time-slip that allows her to visit her future selves.

On one impossible day in 1990, Willa is 33 and a mother-of-two when her childhood self magically appears in her backyard. But she's also a woman haunted by memories of her dark past - and is on the brink of a decision that will have tragic repercussions . . .

On one impossible day in 2050, Willa is a silver-haired, gumboot-loving 93-year-old whose memory is fading fast. Yet she knows there's something she has to remember, a warning she must give her past selves about a terrible event in 1990 . . . If only she could recall what it was.

Can the three Willas come together, to heal their past and save their future . . . before it's too late?

Willa age 8 is a gumboot wearing, storytelling ball of energy. She is also the protector of her little sister Lottie

Willa age 33 is broken, a mother of two small boys, she scrubs and cleans until her home is spotless but still she feels worthless, a failure.

Willa age 93 is a gumboot wearing old lady full of sass and cheek. She is in the throes of dementia and keeps a notebook listing all the important things she must remember; like staying out of the nursing home.

A Lifetime of Impossible Days is the most heart-wrenching emotional read I have read in a long time. If you loved The Lost Girls (Review here) by Jennifer Spence or Before I Let You Go (Review here) by Kelly Rimmer this book will resonate with you.

Super Gumboots Willa is a young girl who has spent her life feeling responsible for her sister and all her mistakes. Silver Willa is an old lady who is starting to lose her memory but she knows that there are things in her past that must be mended and only Middle Willa can do that.

This book is filled with heart-breaking moments and magical realism as the three Willas meet via a time shifting garden that is planted in their backyard. They come together to try desperately to heal the past and mend what is irreparably damaged.

Willa is 93 she needs to go back in time and stop herself from doing something that will change her life forever the only problem is she has dementia and she can’t remember what that thing is.

The story isn’t all heavy there are lots of laugh out loud moments with Willa’s dementia causing funny situations, she has quite some sass and is very cheeky.
Willa’s husband, Sam, and grandmother, Grammy, are the most wonderful supporting characters giving Willa unconditional love and support.

Allusions to child abuse, domestic violence and drug use.


My rating   5/5

This review first appeared on the Beauty & Lace book club.
and is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge.
and book #26 in the Australian Women Writers challenge.

Photo credit: Goodreads

In a bayside suburb of Queensland, Australia, Tabitha Bird grew up in a garden. It wasn’t much of a garden, but she told stories to ferns and weeds alike and gave herself something to hope in that was bigger than she was. 
Eventually, she had to leave the garden and do responsible things like grow up. When her own children came along she read stories with gumption and wild joy and got to thinking that perhaps she had some of her own to tell. 
The first whispering of story she heard was from a forgotten child that lived in that long-ago garden. Together with her family she moved to Boonah, Australia, where her novel is set. 
Her Chihuahua, husband and three sons are all the reason she needs to believe there is still magic in this world. A LIFETIME OF IMPOSSIBLE DAYS is her first novel.


Sunday 28 July 2019

Book Review: Making Trouble - Tongued with Fire by Sue Ingleton

Making Trouble - Tongued with Fire
Sue Ingleton

Publisher: Spinifex Press
Publication Date: 1st August 2019
Pages: 256
Format  read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

In the winter of 1875, two rebellious spirits travel from England to Australia. Harriet Rowell (age 22) and Alice Moon (age 18) were champion swimmers in a time when women didn’t go into the sea; and they were in love in a time when many women were in love with each other but held such love secretly. Harriet and Alice took on the world at a dangerous time for women’s freedom of expression, but their love ended when Alice moved to Sydney to become a writer.

Before Harriet can get over her grief from the breakup, tragedy strikes; Alice is found dead in her bed at thirty-seven. Suspicions rest upon the powerful, chauvinistic scientist, John McGarvie Smith, with whom Alice had been working in her newfound capacity as a journalist. This book seeks to uncover the truth of Alice’s death and seek justice.

Making Trouble – Tongued with Fire is the imagined history of Harriet Elphinstone Dick and Alice C Moon.

Sue Ingleton has undertaken extensive research to compile this story however there are many aspects of these women’s lives that must be assumed or created as there is very little written communication available. Ingleton uses travel records, newspaper clippings and death certificates to validate her story.

Harriet, born in England in 1852, is a woman ahead of her time. She believed that women weren’t weak and feeble minded, as men would have them believe, and given the chance could be just as athletic as men. She was to become a great swimmer often competing in races against men.

In 1876 Harriet migrates to Australia, the land of opportunity, with partner Alice Moon. Alice was quick-witted, outspoken and bold. She loved a challenge. Harriet was more level headed, discrete and diplomatic.
The two women opened women’s gymnasiums in Australia and took their exercise programs to girls’ schools. Their aim was to bring the health that came with rural activity to women in the city.

I was fascinated by this story of two little known women who made such great inroads into women’s health and fitness and also women’s rights in Australia.
The author narrates the story more like a fictional tale than a biography bringing the reader right into the home, and daily life, of these women.

The story moves from Melbourne to Sydney and the two women have quite a list of remarkable achievements with a shadow hanging over Alice Moon’s untimely death.

Recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about the women who pioneered our health and fitness regime and pushed for women’s rights.

On a side note, I don't think the cover or title give the book justice as this truly is an engaging read and extremely well written. I honestly think if I saw this on a shelf I would pass it up so I am immensely grateful for the publishers giving me the opportunity to read this amazing story.


 My rating   4/5 

photo credit: Spinifex Press

Sue Ingleton is a multi-award winning actor, director, writer and stand-up comedian. 
Sue is a recipient of the Sydney Myer Individual Performing Arts Award, the Gloria Dawn/Gloria Payten Award, a Perrier Award Nomination at Edinburgh Fringe, and has performed at Adelaide International Festival of Arts, Montreal Juste Pour Rire, Festival of Fools UK, many Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, and New York International Theatre Festival. 
She has written and produced eleven plays, written two books and is in three published short story anthologies. 

Sunday 21 July 2019

Spotlight: Three Ways to Disappear by Katy Yocom

Three Ways to Disappear
Katy Yocom


Publisher: Ashland Creek Press 
Publication date: 16th July 2019
Sub genre: EcoFiction 
Pages: 300
RRP: $18.95 USD

Leaving behind a nomadic and dangerous career as a journalist, Sarah DeVaughan returns to India, the country of her childhood and a place of unspeakable family tragedy, to help preserve the endangered Bengal tigers. Meanwhile, at home in Kentucky, her sister, Quinn--also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets--tries to support her sister, even as she fears that India will be Sarah's undoing.

As Sarah faces challenges in her new job--made complicated by complex local politics and a forbidden love--Quinn copes with their mother's refusal to talk about the past, her son's life-threatening illness, and her own increasingly troubled marriage. When Sarah asks Quinn to join her in India, Quinn realizes that the only way to overcome the past is to return to it, and it is in this place of stunning natural beauty and hidden danger that the sisters can finally understand the ways in which their family has disappeared--from their shared history, from one another--and recognize that they may need to risk everything to find themselves again.

With dramatic urgency, a powerful sense of place, and a beautifully rendered cast of characters revealing a deep understanding of human nature in all its flawed glory, Katy Yocom has created an unforgettable novel about saving all that is precious, from endangered species to the indelible bonds among family.

Praise for Three Ways to Disappear: 

“Sensual and sensory, lush with longing, Three Ways to Disappear is an assured and lovely debut novel.  You'll find yourself luxuriating in its language and carried away by its complex and endearing characters.  There isn't one wasted word, and I loved them all”  -- Silas House, author of Southernmost  

What is Ecofiction?

Ecofiction is fiction with a conscience.
Also known as eco-literature, these books range from mysteries to thrillers, yet they all share strong environmental themes.

As a child, I was fascinated with big cats of all types. I thought I outgrew that fascination, but when a tigress at the Louisville Zoo gave birth to a litter of cubs, I instantly fell in love, visited frequently, and watched them grow up,” Yocom says of her inspiration for the novel. “I knew that in the wild, tigers face long odds, and the complexity of the human-tiger relationship captured my imagination. I’ve always been drawn to stories confronting the big questions: life, death, how we carry on in the face of loss, what it means to be truly connected to someone, and what it takes to heal broken relationships.



Saturday 20 July 2019

Book Review & Book Bingo - Round 15: The Invention of Wings (Historical Fiction)

Book Bingo is a reading challenge hosted by Theresa Smith Writes , Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse. Every second Saturday, book bingo participants reveal which bingo category they have read and what book they chose. 

This week I have chosen the category 'A book written by an author over 65'.

Book written by an author over age 65.

The Invention of Wings 
by Sue Monk Kidd 
(born August 12th 1948)

Publisher: Tinder Press 
Publication date:7th January 2014
Pages: 373
Format read: paperback
Source: own read

Sarah Grimke is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls 'difficult' and her father calls 'remarkable'. On Sarah's eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimke is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift.

Sarah knows that what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept control over another human's life as a birthday gift. And so, indeed, the trouble begins ...

A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South of the early nineteenth century, THE INVENTION OF WINGS evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, and of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise. Above all, it celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.

The Invention of Wings is a fictionalised tale of Sarah & Angelina Gimke. Sue Monk Kidd drew inspiration from the sisters real-life exploits, grafting fiction into truth to tell their story.

These two women were the first female abolition agents. Sarah was the first woman in the United States to write a comprehensive feminist manifesto, and Angelina was the first woman to speak before a legislative body. They not only paved the way for the abolition of slavery but also made inroads into women’s rights.

There was quite a lot of hype when The Invention of Wings was published and I’d read a lot of glowing reviews with words like heart-breaking, powerful and disturbing so I was expecting an emotional read. However I was quite underwhelmed. The emotion was missing and the significant attention to the development of the main characters pulled away from the main topic of the story; the harsh treatment of slaves and their right to freedom. I felt a lot of the atrocities, the fear, hunger, diseases, cold, brutal treatment and rape, were dulled down.

The story is told from the point of view of Sarah Gimke and Handful, a young slave girl, given to Sarah for her 11th birthday.
I tried to put myself in Sarah’s shoes; a female from a white aristocratic family. What would I do?
I can never in anyway imagine myself in Handful’s shoes – being owned and having no rights what-so-ever.

The Invention of Wings was a solemn tale, a major part of American history. It is a story of standing up for what you believe and speaking out, but ultimately a story of hope.

 My rating   3/5