#BookishBloggersUnite – Best Opening Lines

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This week for Bookish Bloggers Unite we’re talking about best opening lines. This week we’re being hosted by Tina over at TBR, etc so make sure to pay her a visit at her wonderful blog. Remember you can join the fun at any time, just pop your post link into the linky on Tina’s site.

I don’t necessarily pay a lot of attention to opening lines in particular – I’m generally pretty keen to get to what happens after that. An opening line does give you a particular way of approaching a book and can set the tone for the rest of the novel. I confess I had to go searching for opening lines to share with you – I only had one that I remembered, but it turns out that some books that I love do have great openings.

I do’t speak about him much on the blog (as he is a dead white guy) but I do have a deep and abiding love for Douglas Adams. My first opening line is from his Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, my favourite of his books. (The photo is of the copy I bought when I was in my last year of school, which means it’s nearly 30 years old.)

“It can hardly be a co-incidence that no language on Earth has produced the expression ‘as pretty as an airport’.”

I love Adams for his mix of humour and dark social commentary, both of which are abundant in this book.

Next up is Fools by Pat Cadigan, which is one of my all time favourite sci-fi novels. (The photo is my copy purchased in 1994.)

“Everywhere I looked in Davy Jones’ Locker, I saw me, or people who wanted to be me.”

It launches you into the book with the feeling of confusion and WTF-ness if you like, which lasts for the entire acid trip that this book is.

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has a simple opening line that sucks you in.

“The circus arrives without warning.”

I don’t know about you, but where I live when the circus comes to town it is heralded by some seriously disturbing large inflatable clowns, so a circus that arrives without warning seems intriguing and mysterious.

Last but not least, the opening to book one of the Illuminae Files sets up some high expectations of what’s to come.

“So here’s the file that almost killed me, Director.”

Consider me sucked in to the action! (I recently bought the hardcover version of his one, it is a thing of beauty.)

Do you have any favourite first lines? I’d love to hear them!

Cheers!

Aussies Rule Challenge Prompt 7 – Classic by an Aboriginal Author

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(Please note this post references Aboriginal people who are deceased.)

Hi folks!

This prompt was requested by Laura, and indeed I’ve been writing this one in my head over the last few weeks and feeling more and more uncomfortable about it.

You may recall that the Aussies Rule Challenge came together as the result of a brain explosion on my part because I wanted to be challenged to read more Aussie authors, and if no one else was going to do it I would. So I didn’t think much about a prompt around a classic by an Aboriginal author apart from the fact that if there are classics by non Aboriginal authors, there should also be classics by Aboriginal authors. But the more I think about it the less I think it is that straight forward.

Let’s start with the definition of a classic. A “classic” is generally defined as ‘a work of recognised and outstanding value’, or ‘something that is determined over a period of time to be of the highest quality’. The question is, who is doing the judging? I’m pretty sure that the 2% of the Aboriginal population hasn’t had any say on what we may refer to as a classic by an Aboriginal author. Google “classic by an Aboriginal author” and the first hit you will get is for a number of books published recently. The second will be to classics by a bunch of white Australians, with a paragraph about Aboriginal authors.

I read Dhuuluu-Yala by Anita Heiss earlier this year which discusses the difficult relationship between Aboriginal writers and the publishing industry. Published in 2003, this book is well worth a read if you are interested in this type of thing (even if you aren’t it’s good to be aware) and has helped me think more critically about this topic. I can only imagine it is also still relevant. In Dhuuluu-Yala, Heiss talked a little about why Sally Morgan’s My Place is so popular compared to other books by Aborginal authors from around the same time, and Heiss suggests that this is because My Place is not actually about living the Aboriginal experience, but more about discovering the Aboriginal identity.

So I think we need to be aware of the types of stories that white publishers, marketers and audiences have been willing to read and give “value” to over the last 200 years and be aware that these are not the stories the Aboriginal people people have wanted to tell, but more what they have been allowed to tell by the white publishing industry. The publishing industry and the marketers are not going to make a lot of money on stories that are angry and confronting to the non-Aboriginal audience that they are used to dealing with.

(Please note that I’m not saying that My Place isn’t worthy of being referred to as a classic or isn’t a tale worth telling. It’s a great book. Please also note that I’m not saying that the authors and works I will list are not worthy of being called ‘classics’, only that they have had to jump through a bunch of white hoops to get published in the first place.)

Heiss also talks about white editors changing the voice of Aboriginal writers to make the writing more acceptable for the largely white audience, damaging the authenticity of the voice that readers get to hear when they consume the finished product.

I believe that more value is placed on Aboriginal writers and voices now by the publishing industry than any other time since invasion, (let’s face it, it wouldn’t be hard to do better than previously, although don’t mistake this to be the same as nothing else needs fixing) and I suspect things that will be looked back on as “Classics by Aboriginal authors” are books being written now by wonderful authors like Kim Scott, Alexis Wright, Melissa Lucashenko, Larissa Behrendt and others.

That being said, here are some “classics” as far as I, a white person, am able to suggest them, that were first published prior to this century. This is based entirely upon my own limited reading. I would strongly recommend you check out Anita Heiss’s Black Book Challenge for more suggestions.

David Unaipon is on our $50 note is was the first person to write down Aboriginal stories for white consumption.

Oodgeroo – My People

Herb Wharton – Unbranded

Rita and Jackie Huggins – Auntie Rita

Ruby Langford Ginibi – Don’t Take Your Love to Town

Doris Pilkington – Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence

K.C. Laughton – Not Quite Men, No Longer Boys

Kevin Gilbert and Jack Davis should also be on this list, but I haven’t read enough of their work to pick out one title over another. Reading everything is probably a safe bet.

I really hope this post is a conversation starter. If you have different views, I would love to hear them. If you have other books or authors who you believe should be in this post, I would love to hear that too.

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite – 2018 First Quarter Check In

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Hi folks,

I’m back with another #BookishBloggersUnite post. This week we’re hosted by the lovely Laura over at her blog That Librarian Lady . Remember you an join in this weekly tag at any time – just pop over to Laura’s blog and pop your link in.

I think I’ve mentioned before that there is no method to my reading madness. I am 100% a mood reader and my reading is more directed by my library books’ due dates than anything else. Because I have some eye issues and a long commute, audiobook availability effects my reading as well. Joining a subscription service recently has given me a lot more audiobook options, which has been great.

My general goals are to read diversely – more authors of colour, more LGBTQ+ authors, more books in translation and more Aussie authors. And so I meander through my reading life. I’m a member of the Book Riot Insiders, and we have been challenging ourselves each month to read more diversely as well which is great. They are a great bunch of people and bring so many wonderful recommendations with them I think my TBR shall never run dry. So far we’ve had Black History Month (Feb) and women authors (March) and we have others planned for the rest of the year.

Other challenges I’m participating in are the Read Harder Challenge (Book Riot), the Reading Women Challenge, and my own Aussie’s Rule Challenge. Plus the annual Goodreads challenge of course.

Challenge progress:

So far this year I’ve read 67 books. I have 7 books to go to complete the Read Harder Challenge, and 9 books left for the Reading Women Challenge. I have about 15 books to go for the Aussies Rule Challenge – I’ve been reading multiple books for each prompt and I’m also trying to to use any one book for more than one prompt.

First Quarter Faves:

I’ve read so many really great books so far this year. Here’s a handy picture collage that has a few in it.

These are all amazing reads for completely different reasons. But don’t just take my word for it 🙂

How is your reading year going? Are your challenges progressing as you want them to? Do you plan your challenges out in advance or are you a seat of your pants reader? What are your favourite reads so far this year?

Cheers,

#BookishBloggersUnite – Books for Seniors by Women Authors

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Hey peeps,

This week’s #BookishBloggersUnite tag is about which books by female authors would you give to graduating students + the end of the school year is rapidly approaching in the US. This week’s tag is being hosted by Katy over at The Bookish Cronk. Make sure you check out her blog, and remember you can join us at any time – just pop your link in at Katy’s page.

Because I can never decide on one thing ever, here’s my list (which is aimed at Aussie students).

I would love for every Australian to read this book. The concept of Terra Nullius and the impact it had on the way Europeans came to this country and the way the Aboriginal people were treated is not adequately dealt with in schools. We should understand under what circumstances we are here.

In this series of essays Virginia Woolf argues that women need education, an income and privacy in order to be creative. Remember to maintain your independence, have your own space and your own money.

It’s okay to be any type of feminist you want, but never stop fighting. Both of these books talk about the fact that even though it is the 21st century, the idea that women are people is still a radical one, and that ‘women’ are not just white and determined by their birth gender.

Now go forth and be amazing.

Cheers,

Aussies Rule Challenge prompt 14 – Poetry

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Hi folks!

I’ve moved this topic up the chain due to a request from JennyM over on Litsy (I’m over there as @Sue as I’m very creative about handles). Feel free to hit me up if you have a specific prompt you would like me to talk about sooner rather than later.

If you’ve spent any time in this country at all you’ve probably been bludgeoned with the poetry of Patterson and Lawson. Poetry is still alive and well in Australia and being produced by a great variety of Australians who are not old white men.

I don’t read a whole lot of poetry, but here are three of my favourites who have produced books recently:

Ellen van Neerven

Van Neerven is a Yumgambeh woman who identifies as queer. She gained some press last year as she was attacked on social media by students after her poem Mango was used on the GCSE. (Who even does that?) One of my highlights of 2017 was accidentally ending up at one of her poetry readings, which included poems from Comfort Food and the new collection she is working on.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Beneba Clarke was shortlisted for the Stella Prize in 2017 for her remarkable memoir The Hate Race. Her poetry is beautiful and confronting and all the things you want from contemporary Aussie poetry. I follow her on twitter (@slamup) and she will often post poetry there, as well as general fabulousness.

Omar Sakr

Who needs more queer Arab Aussie poetry in their lives apart from me? I can’t remember how I came across Sakr originally, but I’m pretty sure it was due to the magic of twitter. This collection is wonderful.

Here are some other contemporary poets for you to check out:

  • Krissy Kneen
  • Judith Bishop
  • Shastra Deo
  • John Kinsella
  • Stuart Barnes
  • Jordie Albiston
  • Sarah Holland-Batt
  • David Brooks
  • Samuel Wagan Watson
  • M.T.C Cronin

All of these poets and a bunch of others have collections available through UQ Press.

Do you have a favourite contemporary Aussie poet who I haven’t mentioned? Let me know!

Enjoy!

#BookishBloggersUnite – Who Runs the World

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Hi folks, welcome to another #Bookishbloggersunite post. This tag came about as a group of bookish friends decided they wanted to blog about books together. This week is being hosted by the lovely Jade over at Bindrosbookshelf. You can participate at any time, so please pop your link in over at Jade’s blog.

Jade is mixing it up this week with her Who Runs the World Spotify list (you can find the link on her page) and some wonderfully inspired prompts. (I’ve only done about half of the prompts, because I’m a wuss.) Here we go!

Your persuasion can build a nation, endless power, our love we can devour, you’ll do anything for me.

BeyoncĂ©’s Run the World (Girls)

Favourite Queen/Ruler in a Novel.

I don’t read a lot of books with queens in it seems, but this one is pretty awesome. Maya seems to be cursed – her horoscope promises a marriage of death and destruction. She escapes an arranged marriage to become the Queen of Akaran and the wife of Amar and hijinks ensue. By hijinks, I mean a beautifully woven tale through mythological landscapes between life and death. This book is gorgeous and Maya is fabulous.

And it’s hard to dance with a Devil on your back so shake him off.

Florence + The Machine’s Shake it Off

Character battling with demons.

Grace and Ben are twins, Grace the younger by 19 minutes and feels that she is the moon to Ben’s sun. Ben is a rising surfing star in their small beachside town, popular at school, and Grace is happy to follow along in his shadow. A tragic accident turns Grace’s universe upside down and she has to come to terms with her life moving forward under very different circumstances.

This book has not had anywhere near the press it deserves. Lyrically written, it tells of Grace’s battle through grief and maps her disintegration and her slow pull back together. It is both beautiful and devastating. (This is a five alarm snot bomb, do not read in public, or you will probably end up snivelling on a train in peak hour the way I did.)

So no, I don’t want your number, no I don’t want to give you mine, and no I don’t want to meet you nowhere, and no I don’t want none of your time.

TLCs No Scrubs

Character who takes no “you know what” from anyone.

If you ever wanted a more murdery version of Jane Eyre, here it is. Jane takes no crap and also dishes out retribution. You go girl!

Oh, she’s got both feet on the ground and she’s burning it down.

Alicia Keyes Girl on Fire

Character on Fire

I’m pretty sure you know about this book (if you don’t, it’s time to get out from under your rock.). Starr’s journey in this book is heartbreaking and inspiring.

I’m spreading the love, there’s no need to fear, and I just feel so glad, Every time I hear I’m coming out I want the world to know.

Dianna Ross’s Coming Out.

Favourite Coming Out Novel

Dreadnought by April Daniels is probably not generally thought of as a coming out novel, but it’s definitely my favourite. Danny knows that he is actually a girl, but the only concession he allows is to buy a new nail polish to paint his toenails. He is doing this in an alley when a superhero fight explodes overhead and, fatally injured Dreadnought crashes to the ground beside Danny. Before he dies, Dreadnought passes on his powers to Danny, which has the unexpected side effect of blasting her into her ideal body. Danny is suddenly outed for the whole world to see. She has to deal with how this effects her at school and at home, AND deal with her new super powers.

Well my name’s not Alice but I know how she felt when her world started turning into something else.

Lisa Mitchell’s Sometimes I Feel Like Alice

Favourite fantasy book or character who gets thrown into one.

Jade mentioned The Night Circus for this prompt, which I just love. Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series leapt to my mind for this one, as it’s all about children who have gone through doors to other worlds, in the same way Alice fell down her rabbit hole. I love all three books, but I really enjoyed the story of Jack and Jill and how what happened through their door changed them into the people we meet in Every Heart a Doorway.

These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

Nancy Sinatra These Boots Were Made for Walking

Favourite Sassy Character or Best Revenge Plot

I’m going old school for this one, but one of my all time favourite sassy characters is Beatrice from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s one of my favourite Shakespearian comedies and the rebalance sparring between Beatrice and Benedick is wonderful.

I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

You tell him girl!

If I were a boy I think I could understand How it feels to love a girl, I swear I’d be a better man.

BeyoncĂ©’s If I Were a Boy.

Favourite “Girl Pretending to be a Boy” story.

I’m going old school for this one as well but staying in modern times. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett is a wonderful story of Polly, who masquerades as a boy so she can join the army to find her brother. Trying to hide who she really is is tough, until she realises she’s not as alone as she thought she was.

I’d love to see your take on these prompts (or some of the others Jade has provided). Feel free to join in!

Cheers,

PS. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written an Aussies Rule post, but there will be one coming your way very soon!

#BookishBloggersUnite – International Womens Day

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Hey folks!

This week our #BookishBloggersUnite post is in Celebration of International Women’s Day. #BookishBloggersUnite came about when a group of like minded writers decided they wanted to talk about books together. This week’s host is fellow Aussie, the lovely Bron, so make sure you visit her delightful blog. Remember anyone can play, so if you would like to join in, post your link in the linky on Bron’s page.

This week’s challenge is to talk about three women writers:

  • One who is a favourite, whose writing you love and love to recommend;
  • One whose work you have read some of and would like to read more; and
  • One whose work you haven’t read but totally want to.

I’m sure we all know how crap I am at picking favourites or just one of anything to know how this will go down. Gird your loins people!

A favourite whose writing you love and love to recommend

Dr Anita Heiss is a proud Wiradjuri woman who now lives in Brisbane. Her work ranges from memoir and poetry through to historical fiction and what she refers to as “choc-lit”. She is an auto-buy author for me and I always learn something from her books.

Special mentions to Hannah Kent, Emma Viskic and Becky Chambers.

Someone whose work you have read and would like to read more

N.K. Jemisin and Octavia Butler are both in this category for me. From Jemisin I’ve read the Broken Earth trilogy and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. From Butler I have read Dawn, Fledgling and Kindred. Their writing is both amazing and challenging in very different ways.

Someone whose work you haven’t read, but totally want to

I think this is best answered with a photo. And this isn’t even all of them.

I’m having on of those ‘why can’t all the books be in my brain right now’ moments. Do you get those? There are so many amazing women authors that I want to read!

What would your answers to these questions look like? What do you think of my selections?

Cheers!