Saturday 26 October 2019

Book Bingo - Round 22 #BookBingo

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 beloved classic"
and as we have had to do a few double up weeks to fit all the categories in I am also doing "A book written by an Australian woman more than 10 years ago".

A beloved classic:

For this category I have chosen 'Brer Rabbit Again by Enid Blyton'

I'm so glad I pulled this down from my shelves after many, many years. I remember as a child thinking how funny and tricky Brer Rabbit was. You would think a fox would be wily and cunning but Brer Rabbit outwits him every time and he can't quite figure out how.

"There is a trick somewhere!" thought Brer Wolf to himself.
"Brer Bear knew there was a trick somewhere. But what it was he could NOT think." 

The animals fight, steal and plot against each other and Brer Rabbit always comes out laughing in these wits against brawn tales.
Anthropomorphism has always been and will continue to be a part of children's literature. Using animals to act out real life situations can be less confrontational for children.

My much loved copy. At some stage the dust jacket has become torn so I have cut it out and sticky taped it to the cover. 😃

A book written by an Australian woman more than 10 years ago:

For this category I have chosen 'Odd One Out by Monica McInerney'
Published in 2006.

I would like to thank another bingo participant Jenny for this book idea. I wasn't sure what I would read for this category preferring to find books on my shelf rather than buy more. When I saw Jenny use this book I knew I had it on my shelf and it was the perfect choice.

Sylvie Devereaux comes from a Sydney based family of successful, artistic people. She was the dogsbody always running around doing jobs for her mother and two sisters. She organised their lives and she was good at it but they didn't appreciate her. Her older brother lived in Melbourne. She didn't see him often but he was always on her side. He encourages her to come to Melbourne for a holiday. Away from all the hectic organising Sylvie gets a chance to reevaluate her life.

I loved Sylvie immediately. She had a heart of gold and even though she was being manipulated by her family I don't think the family could see how they were treating her. She really needed to stand up for herself.
The story is full of natural banter and humour which makes for an easy and fun read. It's not all plain sailing for Sylvie as she has some highs and lows before she finally decides to do what she wants to do in life.
The character of Great Aunt Mill is wonderful. She is in her 70's. Her health is declining a bit and some of the family may think she is a bit loopy but she is always there for Sylvie with some sound advice and a few handy hints.


Friday 25 October 2019

Book Club Book Review: Akin by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue

A new novel from the “literary prowess” (Quill & Quire) of Emma Donoghue, the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of The Wonder and Room.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 29th September 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace

Noah is a retired New Yorker, who takes his 11-year-old great-nephew, Michael, on a trip to the stunning seaside and cosmopolitan city of Nice, France. The two have almost nothing in common, apart from Noah being widowed and Michael effectively an orphan. The clashes between old age and youth, antiquity and modernity are striking, even over what they do and what they eat. Michael speaks with the street-smart language of his age while Noah talks like a professor of chemistry, and they often can’t understand each other.

I really enjoyed this story of an inter-generational friendship, of sorts.

Retired Professor Noah Selvaggio’s wife passed away nine years ago. They had never had children preferring to dedicate themselves to their careers. He found himself now just going through the paces until it was his time. Noah decides to take a last trip, an eightieth birthday treat, back to his birthplace of Nice, France.

A call out of the blue lands him as temporary custodian of his great-nephew Michael. Left with no other choice Noah takes Michael on his trip. In his luggage he has an envelope of mysterious photographs Noah has found in his late mother’s belongings.

The story unfolds with 80 year old Noah trying to connect with 11 year old Michael who is in turn withdrawn and reticent, more interested in his online games than the site. Noah being a retired teacher used every opportunity to impart his vast knowledge of just about everything on to Michael. Some things were fascinating although sometimes I found myself, like Michael, just wanting him to stop talking. Michael was also able to teach Noah a thing or two about technology and searching for clues through the internet.  Solving the mystery of the photos helped to bring the two together for a common cause.

I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding Noah’s mother during WWII and how the clues slowly unfolded. I felt Noah and Michael’s interactions were well written and believable with both characters getting on my nerves at times.

Overall Akin is an endearing story of family with a compelling mystery as a side story.

This review is from the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
@beautyandlacemag #beautyandlacebookclub


  My rating   4/5

Photo: Biblio Images
Born in Dublin in 1969 and now living in Canada, Emma Donoghue is a writer of fiction, history, and drama for radio, stage and screen. She is best known for her international bestseller Room, shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes and winner of the Commonwealth (Canada/Caribbean), Rogers Writers' Trust and Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Awards. Her fiction ranges from contemporary (Stir-fry, Hood, Landing, Touchy Subjects) to historical (Slammerkin, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter, Astray) to fairy-tale (Kissing the Witch).


Saturday 19 October 2019

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes #BRPreview

The Giver of Stars
Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia 
Imprint: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 1st October 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 480
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading 

Inspired by a remarkable true story, the unforgettable journey of five extraordinary women living in extraordinary and perilous times.

Alice Wright has travelled halfway across the world to escape her stifling life in England. Handsome American businessman Bennett Van Cleve represents a fresh start. But she soon realises that swapping the twitching curtains of suburbia for newlywed life in the wild mountains of Kentucky isn't the answer to her prayers. But maybe meeting Margery O'Hara is. The heart and backbone of the small community of Salt Lick, a woman who isn't afraid of anything or anyone, Margery is on a mission.

Enlisting Alice, along with three other women, all from very different backgrounds, to join her, the band of unlikely sisters battle the elements and unforgiving terrain - as well as brave all manner of dangers and social disapproval - to ride hundreds of miles a week to deliver books to isolated families. Transforming the lives of so many is all the impetus they need to take such risks.

And for Alice, her new job and blossoming friendships become an unexpected lifeline, providing her with the courage she needs to make some tough decisions about her marriage. Then a body is found in the mountains, rocking the close-knit community and tearing the women apart as one of them becomes the prime suspect. Can they pull together to overcome their greatest challenge yet?

In a remote mountain town in Kentucky blood feuds are long held and money is power. Six women attempt to bring knowledge through books to the secluded mountain homes and thus the Baileyville Packhorse librarians are formed.

This unlikely group of women soon become firm friends supporting each other through hard times. But they soon realise a woman has to play by a man’s rules or be squashed.

This is my first JoJo Moyes book and I found the story a little slow at the start and it took a while to feel any connection with the characters.

I did enjoy this book; it just didn’t blow me away. It could have been a lot more immersive. It needed to have a lot more showing and less telling. I didn’t feel the mountains, the bitter cold or even the true remoteness of the setting.

Moyes has included themes of violence to women, lack of literacy skills in remote areas, the long and dangerous hours miners have to endure and how the powerful mine owners championed profit over safety.

I loved how the women supported each other and how the whole town, even though divided at times, banded together during the flood to help each other out.

Moyes has written a compelling tale of a town living under the burden of a money hungry employer and how a group of women were not scared to go against societal expectations to make the town a better place for everyone.


My rating  3.5/5

Photo credit: Goodreads

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes' novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.



Tuesday 15 October 2019

Blog Tour Book Review: Hug Everyone You Know by Antoinette Truglio Martin

Hug Everyone You Know
Antoinette Truglio Martin

Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 3rd October 2017
Genre: Memior
Pages: 325
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of Women on Writing blog tours


Antoinette Martin believed herself to be a healthy and sturdy woman—that is, until she received a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Cancer is scary enough for the brave, but for a wimp like Martin, it was downright terrifying. Martin had to swallow waves of nausea at the thought of her body being poisoned, and frequently fainted during blood draws and infusions. To add to her terror, cancer suddenly seemed to be all around her. In the months following her diagnosis, a colleague succumbed to cancer, and five of her friends were also diagnosed.

Though tempted, Martin knew she could not hide in bed for ten months. She had a devoted husband, daughters, and a tribe of friends and relations. Along with work responsibilities, there were graduations, anniversaries, and roller derby bouts to attend, not to mention a house to sell and a summer of beach-bumming to enjoy. In order to harness support without scaring herself or anyone else, she journaled her experiences and began to e-mail the people who loved her: the people she called My Everyone. She kept them informed and reminded all to 'hug everyone you know' at every opportunity. Reading the responses became her calming strategy. Ultimately, with the help of her community, Martin found the courage within herself to face cancer with perseverance and humor.

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way.

Antoinette Truglio Martin has written a heartfelt memoir of her journey through breast cancer treatment.
Right when life was at its busiest; the Martins were selling their home, their youngest was going off to college and Antoinette was contemplating changing jobs, she gets a call that her recent mammogram showed something suspicious and she needed to have it checked. And so starts Antoinette’s journey!

Antoinette decides to journal her treatment as a way of getting all her pent up feelings and emotions out. These journal entries along with emails to and from family and friends form part of this memoir.
Antoinette explains the different levels of cancer in an easy to understand language but it’s not all medical procedures and jargon. Antoinette lightens the book with family memories, weekends with friends and antics of her dog Petie.

Antoinette has some sound advice for others undergoing treatment; keeping your close group of friends to lean on if needed, sending updates by email so you are not continually explaining your treatment, don’t let the cancer define you, speak up if you are not happy with something.

It feels strange to say ‘I couldn’t put this book down’ for a memoir (they are not usually my preferred reading) but that is how I felt. I kept saying ‘I will just read for a bit longer.’ Antoinette’s voice is inviting and friendly. It’s as though she is there with you having a conversation.

Hug Everyone You Know is a story of friendship, hope and love. A story of survival and strength in the face of adversity.
If you know someone who is or has undergone cancer treatment I urge you to read Hug Everyone You Know.


My rating  4/5


Photo credit: Goodreads
Antoinette Truglio Martin is a life-long Long Islander, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer—a memoir chronicling her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir were published in Bridges, Visible Ink, and The Southampton Review. 
Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University in 2016. Antoinette had also written the children's picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup (Albert Whitman and Company), and was a regular columnist for local periodicals Parent Connections (In a Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming). 
Her blog, Stories Served Around The Table, tells family tales and life's musings. She lives in her hometown of Sayville, New York with her husband, Matt, and is never far from her “Everyone” and the beaches she loves. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2012, she strives to not let cancer dictate her life. 

Please stop by the other posts on the Hug Everyone You Know Blog Tour