Finished the Summer Reading Challenge on a strong note

20-books-of-summer-master-image

Today marks the end of the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. After a slow start, I romped it in with days to spare, although haven’t written detailed reviews of my final two books – Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller and Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith. It was a strong finish. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

lola and sizzles

1. Charlie and Lola have recently celebrated their 15th birthday. I mention this because the name of this blog is a little nod to Charlie and Lola. I love them to bits (especially when it comes to Sizzles). Continue reading

Sample Saturday – a missing teenager, a bad marriage, and New York by foot

sample-saturday-4

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

Why I have it: Because I heard it described as an ‘urban opera’. Continue reading

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

There are some books that are self-indulgent and boring – such as Eat, Pray, Love – and some that are self-indulgent and really interesting – such as The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.

The book is a collection of essays around the topic of empathy (how we feel and express it). It’s been marked as a ‘get out the violins’-privileged-well-educated-white-person moans about aspects of their life. And yes, the title essay, The Empathy Exams, could stray into that territory. But that’s not all there is to the book.

“Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see. Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges.” Continue reading

I’ll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde

Take two women – one wanting a baby and one a stay-at-home-mum – they’ve been best friends for more than twenty years. Introduce a third woman. The third woman has things the other two want. Or rather, there are reasons why the other two may hate her.

I know this is a standard trope for chick-lit but the plot of Samantha Wilde’s I’ll Take What She Has is predictable and, quite frankly, irritating. Plots need a villain but I get the impression that Wilde has an axe to grind* and she’s doing it through this story. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

gorman

1. Isn’t it fabulouso when friends think of you when they’re shopping? My ace friend Sam spotted these boots and texted me with “I’m seeing you in these boots. #sublime” I’m seeing me in those boots. Actually, scratch that. See me in those boots*.

2. The recommendation from the author of this article is “Don’t click on the Franzen think pieces.” Except that one, obvs. Continue reading

Let’s talk (a top ten)

Last week, Katie of Bookish Tendencies wrote a post about attending her first author talk (Lauren Fox talking about Days of Awe, so I’m jealous, obvs). Katie asked fellow bloggers for a few pointers on being “…not such an awkward dork…” at book signing time (her words, not mine). I don’t have any tips but her post did make me think about author talks I’ve been to. And it’s many. Because I’m a bit of an author-event tart (I’ll blame the fact that I have lots of opportunities through events such as the Melbourne Writers Festival and regular author appearances at my local book shop, Readings).

So purely for my own records, I’ve put together a top ten list – five of the best author talks I’ve been to – Continue reading

Disraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes

disraeli-avenue-caroline-smailes

I read 99 Reasons Why by Caroline Smailes over two years ago and the character of Kat still hurts my heart. After finishing that book I bought others by Smailes but just haven’t got to reading them all as yet – maybe because I was a little bruised after Kat’s story. Smailes spares no punches – her stories are gritty and real and you might need to look away.

Looking away… it’s why the concept for Smailes’s Disraeli Avenue is clever. It’s a collection of short stories – snippets, really – about what goes on behind the closed doors of each house on a single street, Disraeli Avenue. Like walking by an open window, you can’t help but glance in. What you see varies wildly – stories told through the eyes of a child, through number patterns, through piano practice notes, through memories. They’re told as gossip, as truth, as wishes, as speculation. The observant reader will appreciate the details that link each chapter, as sweet as a mother’s pride and as horrifying as the words in a suicide note. Continue reading