#BookishBloggersUnite – A Book for all Seasons

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#Bookishbloggersunite is a tag created by a bunch of bookish friends who wanted to talk and write about books together. This week’s post is hosted by the sensational Sarah over at Reviews and Readathons. Make sure you drop by to check out her blog. Also you can join up at any time – just share your link at the link up on the host’s page.

This week we’re talking about books for all seasons. Here in Brisbane it finally feels like winter might happen (I spotted someone on the street in a beanie and gloves last week, a sure indication that the morning’s temp had dropped below 17 degrees Celsius – Brisbanites are notorious wusses when it comes to the “cold”)

Here are some seasonal recommendations for you:

Summer:

The Waves by Virginia Woolf is my favourite beach read. Her lyrical prose magically captures the rhythm of the waves, and having them in the background while reading this made the experience of this book an incredible one.

Autumn:

We don’t really have an autumn here – the colours of the trees don’t change or anything. Autumn is more being aware that you can go back outside again without the sun melting you into a little puddle.

Although it’s set in the Canadian summer That Inexplicable Victorian Thing has more of a fun “it’s no longer summer and you can do fun things outside” feel to me.

Winter:

One of the great things about living in a sub tropical climate is that most of our winter days are very similar to summer days in places like the UK and Europe, so I don’t mind too much reading about people freezing their arses off and reminding myself about how good I have it. The terrible cold is like a character in Burial Rites, making itself known and felt, like a wolf at the door.

Spring:

Again, Spring isn’t really a thing that happens here. I’m always sad when my jasmine flowers in August as I know the heat isn’t far away, and by the time the jacarandas are flowing in November, the summer heat is already extending it’s tentacles.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a fun spring read – girls in stiff dresses climbing through the bush and disappearing? All the fun times!

Do you have any favourite seasonal reads?

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite: Authors I’d Like to Meet

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#Bookishbloggersunite is a regular tag created by a group of avid readers who wanted to write about books together. I’m playing catch up this week – this post is from last week’s round, which was hosted by the ever-delightful Bron. Make sure you check out her blog. Plus you can join in any time – just add your page link to the link up on the hosts’s page.

I’ve been pretty lucky to meet some amazing authors in recent time, but my wishlist of people who I would like to meet is ever growing. I’m a little sad that I haven’t been to an author event yet this year (most of the ones I would like to get to are happening during the week here in Brisbane, which just isn’t feasible given the hours I work.)

Anyhoo, here is a bunch of amazing authors I would love to listen to/fangirl at/ hear how their brains work.

Claire Coleman – author of Terra Nullius. As far as I’m aware, Coleman is the first Aboriginal author to produce sci-fi, which to me is incredibly exciting (and if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you will have seen me being generally excited about this book for a while). She’s recently received a deal for her second book. She’s been doing the rounds of the writing festivals in the southern states, so I’m hoping she’ll make it to the Brisbane festival in September.

Yoon Ha Lee – author of the Machineries of Empire trilogy. I’m waiting with bated breath for the third book in this amazing series (I’ve even pre-ordered it, which isn’t generally a thing I do). I love these books so much, there is so much in them. Raven Stratagem left a huge hole in my heart that I’m hoping book three will sort out. Lee works as a mathematician and is also a trans person (there is some seriously amazing gender bending going on in these books). This article by Lee about being trans and writing trans characters is well worth a read.

Kameron Hurley – author of The Stars are Legion plus a bunch of other stuff. The Stars are Legion is nothing like anything I’ve ever read – warring lesbians in space (there are no male characters) with some serious body horror going on. Her backlist (and anything else she ever writes) is on my TBR. Hurley works in marketing when she isn’t writing books, and I recently discovered that she has a delightfully sweary podcast called Back to Work Hurley.

N.K. Jemisin – author of the Broken Earth trilogy and others. Jemisin has won the Hugo two years running for the first two instalments in this trilogy and has been nominated for the third. Emotionally devastating is the only way I can summarise these books, but their exploration of slavery, diversity, betrayal and the human condition and determination to survive is totally worth it.

I could definitely add more to this list (and you’ll note this is my sci-fi list) – Becky Chambers, Rivers Solomon and Nnedi Okorafor for instance – but I will leave it here.

Which authors would you most like to meet?

Cheers,

Bout of Books Check In

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Bout of Books is nearly over.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

I Imogen and I were discussing the other day that Native Americans, their work and legacy is basically invisible to anyone outside the US. I learned a lot about the USA from this book. Please read it.

I love Scalzi. This book comes after Lock In and it was so good. I love Leslie Vann.

Borne was okay? There was a bunch of stuff revealed in the last 20 pages that I would have enjoyed more seeing actually played out on the page.

I’ve just started this one and I am hooked! Set in China in the near future, the one child policy and preference for boys has resulted in women being the ones with the marital and reproductive power, but homosexuality is a crime. Looking forward to seeing how the story plays out.

What have you been reading?

Bout of Books!

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Ok bit random, but one of my BRI mates has put me onto the Bout of Books.

Bout of Books is a week long readathon which is pretty chill (which is good as I don’t get a lot of reading done in the week).

I have no idea how much I will get through, but all my holds for the Arthur C Clarke awards came in from my local library, plus the new Scalzi, so here’s a photo of them!

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite – My Life in Books Tag

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#BookishBloggersUnite is a group of like-minded bloggers wanted to write about books together. This week I found this cool tag over at Talking Tales by the lovely Amy, who runs our local book store. Make sure you check out her blog! Remember you can join us at any time!

I’m hosting us this week, so feel free to pop in your link at the bottom of this post!

My Life in Books Tag

1. Find a book for each of your initials.

S –

A fictional retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders – this one is on my TBR.

J – Jinangga by Monty Walgar – Walgar’s memoir of his life of hard work and struggle with alcohol addiction from a member of the first generation of Aboriginal Australians who had access to alcohol.

D –

This is the second in the Wayward Children series, this is the second book and follows Jack and Jill on their initial journey through their door.

2. Count your age across your bookshelf.

Hmmm, which shelf? I picked the one that’s best arranged and came up with Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. This book is an amazing exploration of gender and consent, with additional social commentary about big pharma and bonus lady pirates.

3. Pick a book set in your city/country.

The Boundary by Nicole Watson really brings to life the feel of the Brisbane I grew up in. Set in the 80s it explores the tension between politicians at the time and the Aboriginal people.

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you want to travel to.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I’ve always been fascinated by Iceland and this book really brought the landscape to life. I’ll be happy to go in this century with modern heating conveniences though.

5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

All of the purple, thank you.

6. Which book do you have fondest memories of?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know my fondness for HHGTTG. I first read it when I was 15 (when all my friends were reading Flowers in the Attic) and it completely changed my thinking.

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Curse you, Joyce! Ulysses was an absolute slog, and I’m not even sure it was worth it.

8. Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest accomplishment when you read it?

Probably The Quiet Violence of Dreams. I picked it up last year but stalled. That sucker is big.

That’s it from me – again feel free to add your post in the link up if you’re playing along.

Cheers!

Aussies Rule Prompt 19 – An Aussie Debut

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Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I posted a pure Aussies Rule topic, so today I thought I would talk about some great Aussie debut novels from recent years. There’s a mix of genres so you should be able to find something that interests you!

The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley – a fictional retelling of the life of Elizabeth Gould, wife of John Gould, who illustrated John’s works about Australian birds. The hardback edition is gorgeous.

Black British by Hebe de Souza – based on the author’s childhood, a look at what happened to anglicised Indian families once British colonialism ended.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox – disgraced former cop teams up with a convicted murderer to investigate the disappearance of a local author.

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic – profoundly deaf investigator Caleb Zelic is determined to find the answer to his friend’s murder.

The Dry by Jane Harper – Aaron Faulk returns to his home town to investigate his friend’s murder.

Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks – set in the distant future Australia is now a desert wasteland roamed by nomadic traders and war machines, with helpings of big lizards and killer sandstorms.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – a fictional retelling of the last days of the life of Agnes, the last woman executed in Iceland.

Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman – Australia has been colonised and the Natives are running from the Colonists and trying to save their people and their culture.

The Strays by Emily Bitto – Lily meets Eva at school and is sucked into her family – her father is an avante-garde painter and her family is living very much outside the conservative 1930s world.

Down the Hume by Peter Polites – I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s been on my pile since it first came out; Goodreads describes it as a confronting and powerful story of addiction, secrets and misplaced love.

Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven – A book in three parts Van Neerven’s traditional story-telling incorporates myth and mysticism, the feeling of belonging and what it is to be human.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada – Gene hacking and a plague that makes people explode, what more could you want?

Deadly Kerfuffle by Tony Martin – Martin was a favourite of mine back in his radio, comedy and film days. I haven’t read this one yet but I’m sure it will be worth a look.

Wasted by Elspeth Muir – part memoir part journalism, Muir reflects on her brother’s suicide from the Story Bridge in Brisbane while completely drunk, and the drinking culture in Australia that helped him get there.

What other great Aussie debuts have you come across? What will you be reading for this part of the challenge?

Cheers!

A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work

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I’ve always considered myself a Helen Garner fan, even though I haven’t read much of her work.

I remember my introduction to Garner when I read Monkey Grip at university. It was both unashamedly Australian and of the female experience in a way I hadn’t encountered in literature up to that point. Not only did she talk unabashedly about periods but she also captured every day Australians in the way they spoke and lived, the city they lived in and the air they breathed. This may not seem like a big deal, but it certainly was in the early 90s when the cultural cringe was still a thing.

The next piece of Garner’s that I read was The First Stone which was a problematic examination of a sexual harassment case in a Melbourne University. I had some sympathy for where Garner was coming from at the time (there are some things that can be dealt with without getting barristers involved) but I think I would have a different view if I were to reread the book now. Again, this was the 90s and the landscape of what was ‘acceptable’ was rapidly changing. At school I had been told that girls couldn’t succeed in maths, had been reprimanded ‘in jest’ for being at the top of the computing class (the boys should be doing much better than you) and been warned by my father against selecting the title of “Ms” as this would flag me as being “trouble” and ruin my job prospects. I think the piece that Garner and I both missed at the time is that just because that was the way it was, didn’t mean that it was the right way for things to be or that it couldn’t change for the better.

This year I picked up House of Grief where Garner follows the epic legal story of a man who drove his three sons into a lake and was the only survivor. I remembered the case as I had been a newly single mother at the time, and to think that a father could do something like that to his children absolutely horrified me. Garner digs into the case, and interviews a some of the boys’ relatives as well as sitting through the trials, sentencing and following appeals. It is a powerful, heartbreaking story.

I was pretty keen to read Bernadette Brennan’s book about Garner and her work when I first saw it, and it’s nomination for the Stella’s certainly didn’t hurt. I really enjoyed Brennan’s examination of Garner, and I learned a number of things that I hadn’t previously realised and found surprising.

Garner wasn’t great at university and wasn’t familiar with feminist writings and works. Garner’s work is so inherently feminist that I find this astounding. Feminism is something that I have worked hard at over the years – reading everything from Wollstonecraft to Dworkin to Cixous and Irigaray. I had always thought of Garner as an academic and intellectual. It hadn’t occurred to me that you could be one without the other.

Brennan’s details of Garner’s process were also fascinating. She talks of Garner’s journals that she kept through each writing project, recording her thoughts and dreams. Garner has used Jungian analysis for many years to help her with her writing process, and examining her dreams has assisted with the direction and development of her writing.

If anything, Brennan shows that Garner is constantly working, and when she isn’t actively writing a new piece, she is journalling about the work she is doing, which assists her in working things out and shaping the final piece. I feel that I have learned a lot not just about Garner, but about the act and process of writing from Brennan’s book.

Brennan talks through all of Garner’s works, and how they ricocheted out of her life’s experiences. I’m particularly looking forward to reading The Spare Room, in which protagonist Helen welcomes a friend into her home as she tries a last ditch effort and alternative technique to beat cancer. As you can probably guess from Garner’s use of her own name, this story is a direct reflection on part of her life and is an exploration of her anger towards her real life friend who was completely in denial of her rapidly approaching demise.

Garner has been a part for Australia’s literary landscape for 40 years now and is showing no signs of slowing down. Brennan’s book is a timely celebration of the woman and her work, and is a must read for any Garner fan.

Cheers,