Monday reading: 16th of January

Monday is my one long commute day where I either drive or travel to work for over an hour each way. I have decided to share my Monday reading each week.

Photograph of the car radio textI’ve been listening to Connie Brockway’s Highlander Undone for over 2 months and I have only just hit the half way point. This is indicative of how little time I spend in the car on my own. I will only listen to a chapter if I know that I can hear a whole chapter in a drive.

I have the usual audiobook driver quirks: I make excuses to go for drives, I sit in the car for an extra ten minutes until a chapter ends, I drive around the suburb pretending to look for a parking spot even if there is a perfectly good one in front of my home. It is an illness. Audiobookitis.

Photo of the audiobook cover for Highlander Undone by Connie Brockway.As for Connie Brockway’s Highlander Undone, I’m really enjoying Napoleon Ryan’s narration of this story. This is my first Brockway and so far I am not disappointed by the story or by the storytelling.

By the half-way point in most audiobooks I am desperately looking for a print copy of a book to get away from other grating storyteller (yes – I am looking at you Michael Page) which disrupts my own internal voice that is trying to process the novel. I guess that I am of the St. Ambrose school-of-internalised-reading rather than St. Augustine’s text-needs-to-be-read-aloud approach.

Napolean Ryan’s narration is nuanced, smooth and enjoyable. I’m not especially enthused by the voices he puts on for his female characters but they are okay and not too annoying. He is not as good as Nicholas Boulton but that is an especially high bar. I will however seek out more of his performances once I finish this book.

As for the story, so far it is deeply engaging…but I think I will wait to finish listening to the book before I discuss it further. At this pace, I am sure there will be more Monday posts on this book.

This copy of Highlander Undone by Connie Brockway was borrowed from a NSW public library.

John Elliott is Sharing the Shallows

Every week this year, I will be asking avid reader friends, family and their acquaintances to share their thoughts about their reading.

My first guest is my fabulous husband, John Elliott. He of the bare feet, witty repartee and deeply loyal and loving heart.

Yes, dammit! He is THE John Elliott in our house.

John Elliott

University Marketing maestro

Can you describe yourself:

John is the sort of man men want to be and women want to be with. A lover, and a fighter, one of the last true gentlemen. He is a man of wit, humour, mystery and honour. He is officer material. He enjoy’s quiet nights in, raucous nights out, romantic walks along the beach. He also enjoys burning stuff, beer and that weird mouth squirt thing that sometimes happens when you yawn.

 

What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?

Online news. The first thing I do in the morning, the last thing I do at night. I start a lot of books. All up I would spend about 15 to 20 hours per week reading Continue reading

Finally – my fave 2016 titles

It is summer here in Australia and I absolutely adore spending time on the beach which, of course means hardly any motivation to blog. But I finally came up with a very short list of my 2016 favourite reads:

When a Scot Ties a Knot by Tessa DareFavourite Novel 2016

When a Scot ties a Knot by Tessa Dare – I love epistolary romance, I love kindness and vulnerability. This book had both. I have to say that Logan and Maddie were my absolute favourite hero/heroine of the year. A definite keeper and rereader.

 

Favourite Series

Chance Sisters series by Anne Gracie: In order of preference (though there is little room between them as I really enjoyed every single book):

The Winter Bride by Anne GracieThe Spring Bride by Anne GracieThe Winter Bride

The Summer Bride

The Spring Bride

The Autumn Bride

The Autumn Bride by Anne GracieThe Summer Bride by Anne GracieThese were such delightful stories despite the 4 sisters harrowing circumstance that brought them together and having them choose to present themselves as sisters. There is lots to be said about class, women’s lack of agency and worries for their future both within society as well as their interpersonal relationships. It also throws a strong light upon the bonds we make not only with our blood sisters but the women we befriend. My only complaint was the lack of continuity in Freddy’s story (Winter Bride) from the first book to his story.
That said, Freddy and Damaris’s story was my absolute favourite, starting out all sweet banter into a heartbreaking story.

Favourite Picture Book(s)

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito – A child seeks silence in the busyness of a loud city when he comes across a wise man that teaches him how to find it. As someone who has tinnitus and a frustration at libraries with a ra-ra-let’s-get-loud agenda, this book has stayed with my everyday actions where I am now seeking the silence in the gaps. Gorgeous!

Pirahnas don't eat bananas by Aaron BlabeyThelma the Unicorn by Aaron BlabeyPirahnas don’t eat Bananas and Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey – How can I go past a book that has a child belly laughing over and over and over again (thank you lovely nephew of mine). Nothing like the word “Bum” in a story. And also Thelma who is pink and sparkly and famous. Everyone should meet Thelma. I had to read this book to my niece four times back-to-back because that is what Thelma does to all of us. Pink Sparkle dust to all of us.

My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James FoleyMy Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen – Zombie pet rabbits terrorising a family all said in verse. I cannot describe how I felt on first reading this book. Kudos to the publisher for taking a risk on this book. It was just something else and I love it.

 

Favourite Non-Fiction

The good greek girl by Maria KatsonisThe Good Greek Girl by Maria Katsonis – I cried and cringed and related to so much and then didn’t relate but certainly empathised to all the rest. I try to avoid caught-between-two-cultures stories as this theme was constantly thrown at me when I was at school (ugghh! Teachers othering you and that awful patronising “let’s help you deal with the weirdness of your culture” Bull Shit) so I kinda take a big step backward from those stories. But this one grabbed me, was candid and I read it in 12 straight hours no sleep just crying. Exhausting and excellent.

Favourite Absurdist fiction

Lynne Graham's The Sicilian's Stolen SonThe Sicilian’s Stolen Son by Lynne Graham

Good/Evil Twin surrogate baby and stolen identity story that gave me my As-if-o-metre. Seriously soap opera-ish. Seriously crazy. Seriously good.

Lynne Graham’s 99th book was absolute excellence!

 

Favourite Game

ShallowreaderBingo! was just a whole lot of fun. I will be launching a different reading game (though rather similar) in a couple of weeks….keep watching for it!

 

If you would like to look at the whole 180 titles, here is my Goodreads link (unaffiliated) in order of star ranking. I am also not going to do a blurb for each book. They were all good for many different reasons.

My at-a-glance reading statistics for 2016 were:

180 books or 32, 174 pages

73 novels

4 audiobooks (3 of which I sought out the print copy to finish the book at my own pace)

56 picture books

40 non-fic books including 14 interior decorating books

4 Junior fiction

1 Young Adult

1 Graphic novel

I haven’t done a break down of female/male authors because the men lose out big time – at least with my novel reading – I read 1 by a male. Though there is a lot more balance in the female/male authored Picture Books. I also have only counted the DNFs that I progressed beyond Chapter 6.

To be honest, my aim for 2017 is to read fewer books. I found myself reading to escape rather than to enjoy. In the second half of the year, I found myself feeling flatter and flatter after every book I read through (including picture books). This does not make a happy reader. So for 2017 I have chosen to detach from needing to read all the things. I’m just going to let things languish on my TBR. Some books need to mature before being read. Here’s to fewer books for me! Happy 2017 reading. Meanwhile, here’s to happy swimming!

Fairlight Beach, Sydney.

Fairlight Beach, Sydney

End of ShallowreaderBingo for 2016….

The wonderful Willaful won December Shallowreaderbingo! Yayyyy! Woooo!

Fireworks

Thank you for all who have read and followed my bingo game in 2016. I initially started it as a talking point for my radio stint but then, after 2 years reviewing books and libraries for the wonderful Linda Mottram who moved on to bigger and better things, the new host took different directions and my the stint didn’t eventuate. Instead I had the pleasure of tracking my reading in a way that made me laugh and from what I can tell made the players laugh too. My 2016 wrap up will come later in the week. I’m with my cousins from Greece and Europe having fun and much too busy to list my reads 🙂

To those of you who are playing and following along – Shallowreaderbingo will be back in 2017! Watch this space!

Meanwhile, I wish you all a safe and wonderful New Year. May the there be lots of love and warmth and strength for all of us to take hold of our literacy baton and run with it!

 

Coogee Beach 9pm fireworks

Coogee Beach 9pm fireworks

My Christmas season – sadness and happiness

Christmas wishes to you all.

I have had a very quiet month online. This, of course means that my life has been overwhelmed by my work, my kids, my husband, my extended family and the world at large. So much so that my thesis has sat untouched for several weeks as has my blog. Amongst all the usual chaos of kids finishing school and Christmas shopping, my husband ended up ill in hospital for 4 days (he’s out now and slowing getting better) on the same day that I found out my favourite student was killed by a(n alleged) drunk driver. Nicole was sweet and gentle and so keen to be a librarian – I have no words other than to say that she should not have died in such a way.

Christmas TreeAll these events have drained me. This year was tinged with sadness to begin with as my favourite uncle died in July. There have been a number of other world and family events that have deeply impacted me and left me with a cumulative sadness that I would never had anticipated at the beginning of this year. I would not call my sadness depression – it is just downheartedness. I’m feeling the losses of this year.

Last night, at 8pm I realised that for the first time since my husband and I have been married, we still didn’t have our Christmas tree set up. So we brought it out of storage, my husband went to bed, my sons helped me decorate it, then they went to bed. I filled the stockings with small token presents (no big presents were bought this year due to spending the past week in hospital with John) and yes – there were socks! The tree sparkled with 20 years of Christmas decorations. Balls, lights, dolls, birds (doesn’t everyone have a faux feathered parrot perched beside their star?), tinsel, Santas, boxes, bells and so many more. This made me smile. Continue reading

ShallowreaderBingo! December

The end of the year is upon us! Hot hot hot summer is upon us! For some friends, cold cold cold winter is snowbounding you. How on earth is it the end of the year? And such a crappy year too. But let’s make December cracking!

For all who have played throughout the year – thank you so much for playing and continue to play on!

And for all that have meant to play – Join in!

Row 1: Light One Candle; Morpheus; December; And then came the rain; Hohoho. Row 2: Tycoon; Irony; Pet; Just the one you want; Luxurious. Row 3: Hot Summer Nights; Seeking Refuge; My Love; Moist; He sees you when you're sleeping. Row 4: 12; Driedel; Christmas joy to all; He sees you when you're sleeping; Self Care. Row 5: Comes but once a year; Emotional Rescue; Thank you for playing; At the end of the rainbow; Adieu.