All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Mini Reviews {10} – What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Thought I’d do another round up of mini-reviews, books that I’ve read lately that haven’t really warranted a longer review or are similar or were read a while ago (and in some cases here, read before). So here are a few books I’ve read lately that I wanted to have some thoughts on.

Obernewtyn & The Farseekers (Chronicles of Obernewyn 1&2)
Isobelle Carmody (narrated by Isobelle Carmody)
Bolinda Audio
2016
Personal purchased copies via Audible

So recently I’ve discovered the success for audiobooks, in terms of me enjoying them and it’s listening to books I’ve already read. I really enjoyed the version of Pride & Prejudice that I read, narrated by Rosamund Pike and when I finished that, I went looking for something else to read and came across the Obernewtyn books.

I have loved this series for forever and also, the audiobooks are narrated by the author, so this is how she intended them to be read. I’ve discovered a bunch of things I’ve been pronouncing wrong in my head for 20+ years (starting with Innle!). I have listened to the first 2, which are relatively slim books – the first was just under 7 hours, the second was over 8. I’m also well into the third book, which is 14+ hours.

I have really enjoyed revisiting the series in a different way and just being able to determine tone and intent behind the words. Isobelle Carmody does have a great speaking voice and she lends a large variety of accents to the characters as well, which also helps connect those from similar areas, who speak in the same ways. The books after 3 are significantly larger and will take a long time to listen to, so I may take a break and listen to something else first, before going back to them. I’ve also only read the last book once so it’ll be an interesting experience to listen to that too. These first 3 books at least, I know inside out as I started reading them in 1996 and read them a lot. I’m sure a lot of info has left me over the years from the later books, which I am not as intimately familiar with.

These were both excellent!

9/10

Books #125 & #128 of 2020

488 Rules For Life 
Kitty Flanagan
Allen & Unwin
2019, 302p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

488 Rules for Life is Kitty Flanagan’s way of making the world a more pleasant place to live. Providing you with the antidote to every annoying little thing, these rules are not made to be broken.

488 Rules for Life is not a self-help book, because it’s not you who needs help, it’s other people. Whether they’re walking and texting, asphyxiating you on public transport with their noxious perfume cloud, or leaving one useless square of toilet paper on the roll, a lot of people just don’t know the rules.

But thanks to Kitty Flanagan’s comprehensive guide to modern behaviour, our world will soon be a much better place. A place where people don’t ruin the fruit salad by putting banana in it … where your co-workers respect your olfactory system and don’t reheat their fish curry in the office microwave … where middle aged men don’t have ponytails …

I love Kitty Flanagan, I think she’s hilarious. I first remember coming across her in Full Frontal, an Australian sketch comedy show that aired in the mid 1990s that I used to watch. She’s very funny, and is a regular on Have You Been Paying Attention which is a show my husband and I both watch together.

This is a funny clever book that is pretty much just as it says – her rules for life, starting with #1 which is if you don’t agree with the rule, forget about it and move on. There are plenty of rules here that you’ll find yourself nodding along to, and it’s broken down into fun sections. At the back there’s a section for you to add your own rules (mine was an electronic copy, so I couldn’t do this).

The sort of book easily read in snatches, perhaps on public transport (whilst people around you break all the rules maybe!)

6/10

Book #113 of 2020

488 Rules For Life was book #39 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020

Artistic License
Elle Pierson
Self-published
2014 (originally 2013), 178p
Personally purchased copy

Blurb {from Goodreads.com}:

When of the world’s prestigious art collections comes to the resort town of Queenstown, New Zealand, shy art student Sophy James is immediately drawn to the pieces on display – and to the massive, silent, sexy presence keeping watch over them. She’s completely fascinated and attracted by the striking planes and angles of his unusual face, and can’t resist sneaking out her pencil when he’s not looking.

Security consultant Mick Hollister is used to women looking at his ugly mug – but not with the genuine pleasure he sees in the face of the girl with the charcoal-smudged fingers and terrible skills at covert surveillance. A security breach brings the two into fast and furious collision, and an unlikely friendship begins to blossom. And an even more unlikely – and very reluctant – love.

Introvert Sophy is content with her independence and solitude. She’s never looked for a long-term relationship, and isn’t sure she wants one now. Mick, apparently born with a face that not even a mother could love, has given up all hope of having one.

They have nothing in common. They shouldn’t even like each other. And they can’t stay away from one another.

I saw this recommended on the romance reddit when someone wanted a recommendation where the people weren’t perfect looking. Apparently, Mick, the hero in this, is considered ugly by most but Sophy is an artist and she doesn’t perceive him that way. To her, his face is fascinating! She sketches him trying to be subtle at the museum where Mick works security (although Sophy is not exactly inconspicuous, so Mick does notice her).

I loved the setting in this – Queenstown in NZ is high on my visit list, in fact my husband and I had been considering NZ as a trip for my milestone birthday and it was the frontrunner….before all of this *gestures vaguely* So that was a big tick and I liked that Mick, although son of a wealthy family, had gone his own way and worked a job that isn’t often typical in romance books. There’s a bit more to it than just security guard, but it was something different. This was a perfectly fine romance, a bit different although there were a few things that I felt were just there to try and create conflict, like Sophy’s freaking out about being in a relationship meaning she’d lose her sense of self. It wasn’t very well explained.

6/10

Book #132 of 2020

Talking To My Country
Stan Grant
Harper Collins AUS
2017, 240p
Personal purchased copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

In July 2015, as the debate over Adam Goodes being booed at AFL games raged and got ever more heated and ugly, Stan Grant wrote a short but powerful piece for The Guardian that went viral, not only in Australia but right around the world, shared over 100,000 times on social media. His was a personal, passionate and powerful response to racism in Australia and the sorrow, shame, anger and hardship of being an indigenous man. ‘We are the detritus of the brutality of the Australian frontier’, he wrote, ‘We remained a reminder of what was lost, what was taken, what was destroyed to scaffold the building of this nation’s prosperity.’

Stan Grant was lucky enough to find an escape route, making his way through education to become one of our leading journalists. He also spent many years outside Australia, working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, a time that liberated him and gave him a unique perspective on Australia. This is his very personal meditation on what it means to be Australian, what it means to be indigenous, and what racism really means in this country.

Talking to My Country is that rare and special book that talks to every Australian about their country – what it is, and what it could be. It is not just about race, or about indigenous people but all of us, our shared identity. Direct, honest and forthright, Stan is talking to us all. He might not have all the answers but he wants us to keep on asking the question: how can we be better?

I bought this recently. Stan Grant is an Indigenous Australian journalist. He wrote and is featured in a doco/movie called The Australian Dream which is currently sitting on my satellite tv box until I’m in the mindset to watch it, along with The Final Quarter. Both revolve around the booing of Indigenous AFL footballer Adam Goodes (who is my favourite player of all time and played 17 seasons with my team, the Sydney Swans). This book also touches on that issue, towards the end.

But this book also details a lot of Grant’s life and that of his family, incidents over the years that have reflected the treatment of them as Indigenous people. Grant outlines times like when he was 15 or 16 – the government was paying his family for every term he stayed in school, in an attempt to keep kids of Indigenous heritage enrolled, getting educated. “Bridging the gap” in education between Indigenous kids and others has long been an issue. However, Grant says that the principal of his school pulled him and several other Indigenous kids into his office and basically told them they were done at school, it wasn’t for them obviously, it was time to go and get a job. Which was in direct contrast to the message the government was trying to send, of keeping children in school. And what must that have been like, for teenagers? To be told that. That you weren’t wanted, shouldn’t be there. You can pretty it up any way you like but Grant and others like him were specifically singled out for their heritage and told to leave.

There’s a lot about identity in this, what it was like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia. There’s a lot about family and history, interesting stories about some of Grant’s relatives, like a white grandmother who chose a life with an Indigenous man and was turned away from a hospital when time came to give birth to her child. It seems inconceivable that a place responsible for help and caregiving, would refuse entry to a woman because she carried a child that would be Aboriginal. But it happened. I mean, this is a country that basically stole an entire generation away to “better them” by placing them with white families so it shouldn’t really be that shocking but yet it still is, every time you read one of these stories and connect it to a real person who endured it.

Grant has an appealing way of writing, very conversational but also informative and this does a fantastic job highlighting a lot of the inequality and systemic racism faced by Aboriginal Australians. He talks of places stained with the blood of his ancestors and their fellow tribespeople, places where brutal massacres took place. He also takes his son to some of these places, to share stories and history so that it is not forgotten, that each member of his family is privy to the path that has led them to where they are. He is passionate and informative but also measured and thoughtful. He’s not afraid to lay himself bare either and talks extensively of his struggle with identity and also his depression, later in life.

I feel as though this is an important book, one all Australians should read. And that anything I really have to say on it is inadequate.

Book #131 of 2020

 

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The Farseekers – Isobelle Carmody

The Farseekers
Isobelle Carmody
Penguin AU
2010 (originally 1990), 312p
Re-read from my personal collection

Please note that this post will contain **SPOILERS** for the first book in this series, Obernewtyn

It’s been two years since Elspeth and Rushton successfully ousted Alexi and Madam Varga from Obernewtyn and Rushton took his rightful place as the Master. Since then it’s been a peaceful place to live, with the ‘Misfits’ embracing their differences, even establishing ‘guilds’ where they can join and better hone their particular talents. It has become a refuge for others just like them and due to their location they’ve been relatively unbothered by the Council. Elspeth uses her position as mistress of the Farseeker guild to propose a joint expedition with the Technoguild – the Technoguild has picked up on a powerful talent and the Technoguild believe they have discovered a location with Beforetime artifacts and possibly books they could learn from. The mission will be dangerous, as it means leaving the safety of Obernewtyn and Rushton is reluctant to let Elspeth go.

He is outvoted though and the expedition is approved and plans made and set in place. Rushton has his own mission, intending to use someone to infiltrate the Council and establish a base nearby so that they may gather their own intelligence which will come in handy if they are to protect themselves. The unlikely band of information gatherers set off but their expedition is derailed almost immediately. They hear of plans of the Council to visit Obernewtyn early and split up to send people back to Obernewtyn to warn Rushton while the rest continue on in a detoured fashion to find and rescue the powerful Talent and attempt to discover what they can about the Beforetime.

Elspeth has always wondered why animals often call her “Innle” or “the Seeker”, thinking it was some harmless nickname regarding a mythical creature. Alone and almost at the point of death after a firestorm, she will learn that the weaponmachines from the Beforetime have not been destroyed and it will be her role to find them and destroy them before her opposite can and use them in order to create something even more devastating than the Great White.

I have to apologise, because that might be the most inadequate summary of a book in history. In re-reading these books for Giraffe Days Obernewtyn Read-a-long, I am discovering so many new things about a series I’ve already been reading for fifteen plus years! However I’ve never read The Farseekers with the benefit of having read so many later books in the series before and I was immediately awed by just how many things are set in motion in this book that don’t come to fruition for several books. So much is happening here it’s almost impossible to talk about it all – and all of this is happening in a book that is just 312 pages!

In the beginning we learn that it’s been some time since the end of the previous novel and that things at Obernewtyn are now very different to how they were in the first novel. Rushton’s idea of a refuge for Misfits is coming to fruition and even though he’s staked his claim with the Council, they assume that after the spring thaw, people will make their way out to investigate what is going on and make sure nothing untoward is taking place. Elspeth is content for now, she’s Mistress of the farseeker guild (although really she could’ve led just about any of the guilds, given her broad range of talent) and when the Technoguild inform her that they’ve registered a powerful talent at the furthest range they can seek, she proposes a joint expedition to rescue this Talent and also to grant the Technoguild access to the beforetime relics they believe are in the same area. Rushton is reluctant, for reasons fairly obvious to the reader (even reading it first time around) but Elspeth is quite willfully ignorant, believing it’s because he doesn’t wish to lose a guild mistress and therefore upset the balance at Obernewtyn.

The very small seeds of a future relationship were sowed between them in Obernewtyn but the book ended without any development. Elspeth’s solitary lifestyle and also her increasing knowledge of her Quest and the role she must play makes her further reluctant to really establish too many ties with people – especially a romantic bonding. Isobelle Carmody has a rather awesome ability to create ways in which they exchange a couple of moments and then don’t see each other for at least half of the book. This is frustrating, but necessary to keeping both the story lines intact and also their relationship on the back burner. It is important but it is by far not the most important thing happening here – that is always the Quest and the various paths in which Elspeth must take in order to successfully undertake it.

Re-reading this I was just amazed at how many things made more sense from later books now that I’d refreshed my memory with this one. Although I’ve waited lengthy times for books to be released, I’ve never actually undertaken a total re-reading from start to finish which I probably should have done before The Stone Key (book 5) and probably also before The Sending (book 6). There is so much going on that it’s easy to forget who one person was that Elspeth met three books ago and what they said to her, but suddenly it crops up again. There are people introduced here that seem inconsequential, there are things that happen that seem relatively unimportant at a first read. But I’ve realised that they are so important, everything here is written with such care to detail. There is nothing superfluous in these books at all. I’m even more impressed now – this book was written over twenty years ago and little seeds laid here are now being fully realised, all this time later.

When I first read this, I’d have rated it an 8. But I’ve honestly had to change it to a 9 on this re-read simply because I had such an amazing experience re-immersing myself in it and realising just how much this book contains that is important in later books in regards to people, events and information.

9/10

Book #133 of 2012

Book #2 of the Obernewtyn Reading Marathon – July was the month to read the second novel, The Farseekers

The Farseekers is the 47th novel read and reviewed by an Australian woman writer for the challenge in 2012

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