Infogenium is Sharing the Shallows

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

Who else could be my second guest than Infogenium, long-time friend, colleague, co-writer, romance reader and co-blogger who started Shallowreader with me back in 2010. I then became a megalomaniac and kicked her off the site and yet she still agreed to answer my questions. Ahhhh! Friendship!

Infogenium incognitoInfogenium/@infogenium

Information Manager incognito

Can you describe yourself:

I love reading, family, coffee, fresh bread, modern technology and learning things.

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

Books, twitter, blogs.

What or who is your joyful reading (guilty or otherwise) pleasure?

Mills & Boon “Kitchen Sink” stories. Ie, anything that is completely OTT, I am looking at you Lynne Graham BUT my guilty pleasure is books that are rated DNF in reviews or people have very strong reactions to and not in a positive way  – I willingly buy them to see why people loathed or were so bored by them that they couldn’t/didn’t/wouldn’t finish them.

Do you have a favourite storyline or plot? And do you have one you will not read?

Very liberal in my storylines – as long as they are well written I am happy to try them.

What I won’t read? Horror. It is way too predictable. And fanfiction.

Why do you/don’t you use a public library?

USE – Just love the environment and what the library represents to me,. Somewhere to escape and learn.

NOT USE – Not quick enough with titles.

Do you RUI*. If so, what?

If I do RUI, and I am not admitting to it, but it wouldn’t be actual reading but instead listening to audiobooks, as less strain on the senses and in that situation crime or mysteries.

Do you have a favourite reading spot?

The train or in bed.

Toilet reading: 
    a) Never do it 
    b) Only my own books/phone/tablet/ereader
    c) Anything goes – library books, friends books, cornflake packets.
    d) I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.
    e) Other _________

DON’T DO IT – HYGIENE OCD ISSUES

Romance fiction of the Happily Ever After (not the love tragedy) kind – are you a Lover or a Hater and why?

I like the HEA but don’t mind a well written bittersweet ending or one that suggests a HEA but isn’t a conclusion.

What would you give up reading for**?

Literally nothing unless a life of someone I love is at stake…maybe not even then…

Can a romance/crime/super/etc hero be the driver of a hatchback?
Sorry No. 😉

*Reading Under the Influence
**I like stranded prepositions

Dear Reading, It’s not you, it’s me – TBR Challenge 2017

I am in a fiction reading slump. It is the slumpiest that I can remember since the black hole years back when my sons were babies and the only thing I read were the clues in my Christine Lovatt’s Crossword books. This makes for a very lacklustre start to Wendy’s 2017 TBR challenge – January theme of We Love Short Shorts.

The last book I finished reading was on the 15th of December and I can directly attribute my lack of interest in reading anything at all to the death of my student, my husband being in hospital, my lovely cousins visiting from Switzerland and this hot horrid heat hell called Summer.  Last night was so awful that it did not drop below 30C/86F. In heat despair, I got into my car at 4am with the engine on just to cool down in air conditioning (the plus side to this is that I listened to another chapter of my everlasting audiobook – see my last post).

My last post of the year where I searched for the good things in the year was incredibly helpful as it dragged me out of some of my sadness. I have had several swims, my house is looking tidy and lovely and I have been writing some words towards the PhD. But the ludic reading has fallen by the wayside. I have started many books but I have not managed to proceed beyond Chapter 7 in any of them. This is definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.

I didn’t love my “short shorts”, and many of the books were quite long however my reading of them was definitely cut short (heh – see what I did there? There are many ways to link to Wendy’s theme of the month!). The books I partially read are:

Summer Skin Kirsty Eagar

Summer Skin

by Kirsty Eagar

Yeah. I know. Everyone loves this book. This book is now out of print. This book is due for US release in 2018. Fanfare is yes. *sigh* I’m up to Chapter 7 and I am already bored.

It’s not you, Summer Skin.

It’s me.

 

Under the boss's mistletoe by jessica hart

Under the Boss’s Mistletoe

by Jessica Hart.

I thought a sweet romance will do the trick. I’ve heard lots of praise for Ms Hart. But one chapter in was enough for me.

It’s not you, Under the Boss’s Mistletoe.

It’s me.

 

 

Cowboy's Christmas Miracle by Anne McAllister

The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle

by Anne McAllister

This was going to be a reread. What better way that to get out of a slump than by rereading a favourite book by a favourite author. But I couldn’t get past Chapter 2 of this book. It felt navel gazey.

It’s not you, The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle.

It’s me.

 

 

Fantastic Man by PhaidonFantastic Man: men of great style and substance

edited by Emily King

When a super groovy compilation of portraits, profiles and essays  from a magazine on stylish, gorgeous men, with few articles longer than 4 pages, you know you have some hardcore reading slump happening.

It’s not you, Fantastic Man.

It’s me.

 

Boyfriend by Christmas by Jenny StallardBoyfriend by Christmas

by Jenny Stallard

This was a bit of a 10 Ways to Lose a Guy (love this movie) rip off with the main (writer) character being told by her editor that she must get a boyfriend by Christmas and so start her adventures in drunken hookups and regretful relationships just to find the right guy was always there. I read the first 7 chapters and skimmed to the end.

Sadly, with this book, it was definitely Boyfriend by Christmas.

It was not me.

There are at least 15 books in my TBR that I couldn’t even get through the first page but I am not going to bother with listing those. I am stalling my break up with books for now. I think I will need to curate my next choice. I have Tessa Dare’s Do you want to start a Scandal waiting on my shelves and I am going to venture into the world of crime fiction (SHOCK! HORROR! The genre I am least likely to read!) by giving Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness a go purely on the strength of her being the 1980s teen romance author Janet Quin-Harkin who wrote my absolute favouritest Sweet Dreams EVAH! Ten Boy Summer.

And if that doesn’t work – I have Dog eat Dog – an AC/DC biography waiting to be read. In this heat, I might as well read about the men who rocked my 80s as I physically feel like I am on a Highway to Hell.

Burning sweltering man gif

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