Three Things #5

Bookshelf for ABC Radio 04

One post with three acts READING LOOKING THINKING based on the format started by innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley of Book Jotter.  

Her invitation to participate offers a change from THINKING to DOING if that suits your purpose but my TBR is backing up and I need to list seven of the books I desperately WANT TO READ—which, er, goes over the Three Things limit.  I just want to blab about these great books 😃 GBW.


These two books are side-by-side because they involve food and drink.

Todd Alexander

has written a humorous memoir of his escape to the country.  I did hear him at an author talk but he didn’t divulge the full story.  ‘Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga’ is sometimes sad, sometimes gruesome but I’m hoping it’s an uplifting story of the joys of living on the land.
http://www.toddalexander.com.au/

Maria Donovan

set her novel ‘The Chicken Soup Murder’ against the backdrop of real events in 2012, a time in Michael’s life when everything is turned upside down.  Cricket, football and the seaside are woven through the story as he strives to make sense of the changes involving death, suspicious neighbours and a school bully.
https://mariadonovan.com/


This is a mixed bag of goodies sharing the same photographic background.

Sally Piper

has golden wattle on her bookcover (I’m allergic to pollen) but the inside of ‘The Geography of Friendship’ greatly appeals to me.  The blurb reads ‘We can’t ever go back, but some journeys require walking the same path again’.  I won this novel at UQP behind-the-scenes publishing event.
http://www.sallypiper.com/

David Malouf

is an Australian icon.  I couldn’t begin to details his many and varied works here but his poetry is brilliant.  The ‘An Open Book’ flyleaf reads ‘Malouf reminds us of the ways poetry, music and creativity enrich our lives . . . about the dynamics of what escapes and what remains’.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Malouf

Simon Cleary

lives in my city of Brisbane.  He has written two novels about war and its devastation.  ‘The War Artist’ . . . ‘tackles the legacy of the Afghanistan war and the crippling psychological damage of PTSD’ and follows the shattered life of Brigadier James Phelan when he returns to Australia.
http://www.simoncleary.com/

Katherine Battersby

writes the most adorable children’s picture books.  I have been a fan of Squish Rabbit since his first appearance and assisted Katherine at one of her library book launches.  Forty children were expected and 140 turned up!  ‘Squish Rabbit’s Pet’ is my favourite so far; profound and endearing.
https://katherinebattersby.com/


I love bold bookcovers which alone tell a tiny bit of the story.

Hank Green

was recommended to me by a librarian with hair dyed pink, orange and green.  A reader of quirky books like me (although my hairstyle is more conservative) she advised that this book is a bit different.  And, yes, he’s the brother of John.

I have to say I have no idea what is in store for me with ‘An Absolutely Remarkable Thing’ so I will just leave you with the quote ‘In Hank Green’s sweeping, cinematic debut novel, a young woman becomes an overnight celebrity when her YouTube video goes viral . . . but there’s something bigger and stranger going on’.
https://www.hankgreen.com/


printable-times-new-roman-alphabet-stencilRight, that’s it, the seven books I’m going to read—not counting those on my ereader—now comes the wait until I post my book reviews.
Ciao for now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Three Things #4

A snapshot of what’s happening in my reading world.  Three books!  Three genres!  Three reviews!  My theme was originally started by Book Jotter under the title ‘Reading Looking Thinking’ but I’m only doing the Reading part for this installment.

POTENT ROMANTIC COMEDY

OUR TINY, USELESS HEARTS novel by Toni Jordan
https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/our-tiny-useless-hearts

QuoteI couldn’t stop staring at babies and toddlers in the street: their impossibly tiny nails, pores around their noses, the way each hair on their head existed not as an individual but as part of a silken wave.” Janice, Page 125.

Toni Jordan’s new book ‘The Fragments’ has hit the shelves and in preparation I’ve just read her novel ‘Our Tiny, Useless Hearts’ which I think is a clever rom-com story.  Jordan has the knack of writing intelligent gems of heartfelt dialogue from the mouths of sincere characters then setting them in a ludicrous situation.  Well, Caroline’s house isn’t ludicrous, it’s more a trendy vehicle for British-style upstairs, downstairs naughtiness and relevant sex scenes.  The main players are two couples with shaky marriages (think clothes shredding) and the rest have grit in their relationships.  Protagonist Janice (with microbiologist syndrome) is meant to be the sensible one but she has just as many hang-ups as those around her.  Amid the embarrassing yet hilarious turmoil, Janice’s divorced husband Alec turns up.  The tension escalates even higher, a bad case of ‘Who is going to explode into a million pieces first?’.  I was entertained by this book of forthright and dysfunctional people who drew me into their lives.  GBW.
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MINUTIA OF VILLAGE LIFE

THE BOOKSHOP novel by Penelope Fitzgerald
https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007373833/the-bookshop/

Quote “Browsing is part of the tradition of a bookshop,” Florence told Christine. “You must let them stand and turn things over.” Florence, Chapter 5.

What a sombre little story this is.  I try not to read reviews or publicity first so I was quite impressed when I saw that English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald wrote ‘The Bookshop’ in 1978 when in her sixties.  That’s a lot of life experience, and later a Booker prize.  Fitzgerald had worked for the BBC, taught in schools and ran a bookshop.  I felt the struggles of Florence Green, fictional proprietor of the East Suffolk small town bookshop, were genuine.  Her droll experiences with young helper Christine Gipping appear to be first-hand.  In comparison, I found Mr Brundish, Milo North and the rapper (poltergeist) written along classical lines to add drama.  Village life is parochial and Florence battles with Mrs Gamart and her far-reaching resentment against resurrecting Old House as a bookshop.  Editor Hermione Lee says that Fitzgerald had a ‘tragic sense of life’ and I agree.  But her finesse with dialogue, letter-writing and the unspoken has launched countless tropes.  By all means prepare, this book has more thorns than roses.  GBW.
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INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVEL

THE CHRONICLES OF ST MARY’S series by Jodi Taylor
https://www.simonandschuster.ca/series/The-Chronicles-of-St-Marys

Quote “My speciality is Ancient Civilisations with a bit of medieval and Tudor stuff chucked in for luck.  As far as I was concerned, 1851 was practically yesterday.” Maxwell, Book 5.

The term preferred by Dr Bairstow, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at St Mary’s Priory, is ‘contemporary time’.  Jodi Taylor, author of ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ series, writes about a humorous herd of chaos-prone historians who investigate major historical events.  They are led by intrepid historian Madeleine Maxwell (aka Max) Chief Operations Officer.  After costume fittings, the historians travel in pods with armed guards to places like Ancient Egypt, Mount Vesuvius, Great Fire of London, etc, to observe and take notes while Time Police loom threateningly.  Best read in chronological order but Dramatis Thingummy explains characters and each gripping story unfolds, threefold sometimes, as another disaster hits the team.  Historians die; Dr Tim Peterson gets bubonic plague; at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Bard himself catches alight.  There are currently 22 books, in long and short format.  If, like me, you have ever daydreamed of visiting an historic moment in olden times, these books are for you.  GBW.
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Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Snoopy Woodstock Bookstack Cartoon

 

One post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING, an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.  Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from Thinking to Doing if that suits your purpose.  I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!  GBW.

Three Things #3


A snapshot of what’s happening in my world.
Reading…
Looking…
Thinking…

READING:  Two of my favourite genres tend to clash––crime and quirky.  Today’s quirky is “The Lucky Galah” by Tracy Sorensen.  Oh, and just maybe there’s a crime.

Reviews:  “Subtle, disarming and insightful” says author Rosalie Ham.
A fresh and surprising novel – thoroughly Australian, joyful and magnificently original” says novelist Charlotte Wood.
Blurb says “A magnificent novel about fate, Australia and what it means to be human…it just happens to be narrated by a galah called Lucky…this is one rare bird.

Title:  “The Lucky Galah” by Tracy Sorensen
Category:  Historical fiction / adult
Publication Date:  27-02-2018
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
Pages:  304
Author:  http://squawkingalah.com.au/

Background:  A galah is a small pink and grey Australian native cockatoo with quite a piercing squawk.  If an Australian says “you’re a galah” it generally means you are silly.  If “you’re a lucky galah” it means you’ve won something.  In this novel, Lucky is an astute galah who receives transmissions from a satellite dish in Port Badminton, a remote coastal town in Western Australia, which beams messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas.  Lucky also picks up revealing transference from radar technician Evan Johnson and his wife Linda, and domestic dissonance from the town’s anomalous inhabitants.

Evocatively set in 1969 prior to the moon landing and “one small step…” Lucky’s view of the human world and its minutiae makes absorbing reading.  I choked up, nodded wisely and laughed out loud throughout this book.  An original plot, cleverly conceived characters, tightly written, 5-Star rating from me.  GBW.


 

LOOKING:  “Curious Affection” Gallery Of Modern Art Exhibition by Patricia Piccinini from 24 March to 5 August 2018––Confronting work regarding genetic engineering, DNA modification and organ harvesting with ‘warm’ overtones.  Having read about this subject (and many will remember the real mouse which grew a human ear on its back) I was enticed into visiting GOMA on Brisbane’s South Bank on a fine winter’s day.

Sensory overload, yet not as creepy as I thought it would be, and like most art there is more to it than meets the eye.  Patricia Piccinini’s works are complex.  The guided tour, the perfect melding of lighting and sounds enhanced every display and took up a complete floor of the Gallery.

I can’t sufficiently convey the ambience nor startling ‘future’ creativity, but I’ve decided on a pictorial of my photographs in a future post.  Stay tuned!  GBW.


 

THINKING:

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VIEWS LIKES AND FALSEHOODS

Bloggers are so darn nice, offering advice and encouraging aspiring writers to do their best.

Here are my thoughts on the flip side of those Views and Likes.

When I hit Publish, my post is sent out into the world.

It appears at the top of the WordPress Reader until the northern hemisphere wakes up and starts typing.

I amuse myself by waiting to see who will Like my efforts without actually visiting my blog site.

First up, unless I've been Liked by the fastest human reader in the universe, I get a tiny square to say "..." likes my post.

As you may have experienced, it's a spammer.

If not, I give a sardonic laugh when someone clicks Like without viewing.

Sure, people do it - but do people know the stats reflect this deception?

What I don't understand is why a reader/blogger bothers when it breeds an equally dismissive response.

I know, twice I have returned the favour.

Forget about using the old "time poor" excuse, please.

Or harbour the misapprehension that my blogger sense of self needs constant validation.

Be firm, rise above that Like of self-promotion. 

My opinion is "Follow a blogger and genuinely read their posts".

Otherwise the Like gesture is hollow.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward


 

One post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.  Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from ‘Thinking’ to ‘Doing’ if that suits your purpose but I’m sticking with the first format.  I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!  GBW.

Postscript:  Every Saturday I change my Home page Photo Of The Week.

Three Things #2



READING:
  Saw the heading “The genre debate: Literary fiction” and I was hooked when Austen aficionado and author Elizabeth Edmondson said “literary fiction is just clever marketing”.
and continued…
In the third of The Guardian’s series on literary definitions “Jane Austen never for a moment imagined she was writing Literature.  Posterity decided that––not her, not John Murray, not even her contemporary readership.  She wrote fiction, to entertain and to make money.”
followed by…
“Genre fiction is a nasty phrase––when did genre turn into an adjective? But I object to the term for a different reason.  It’s weasel wording, in that it conflates lit fic with literature.  It was clever marketing by publishers to set certain contemporary fiction apart and declare it Literature––and therefore Important, Art and somehow better than other writing.”
with mandatory…
“Which brings me to the touchy subject of literary snobbery.  Perhaps I should call it LitSnob.  Lit fic: good.  Popular, commercial, trash and pulp fiction: bad.”
there’s more…

Worth reading even if it makes your blood boil––includes 110 comments!
Website https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/apr/21/literary-fiction-clever-marketing-genre-debate

The Guardian report is from her speech given at an Oxford Literary Festival debate and was first published Monday 21 April 2014.  Sadly Elizabeth Edmondson (Aston) passed away 11 January 2016.  GBW.



LOOKING:  Love reading the adult works of author Nick Earls and can brag that I had tenuous, almost ethereal, contact with the man at a book-related charity event.  Okay, he was in the same room and he did nod hello.  By some weird default in the booking system, I was seated at the head table with Mr Earls and treated like a VIP.  I kept getting covert glances from the other diners, socialites wondering who the heck I was.  I felt nervous but not intimidated.

Anyway, I have just enjoyed watching a short YouTube video of Nick Earls talking about his children’s book series “Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary” co-written with Terry Whidborne.  Also, author and blogger Kate Forsyth did a good book review.

Promo blurb reads Twins Lexi and Al Hunter stumble upon an old dictionary and the world as they know it changes. They are blasted into history to hunt down words that threaten to vanish from our past and our present.”   And use word nails – sorry, the video is no longer available but you can read the publishers PDF notes for teachers here.  GBW.



THINKING: 
(My apologies because part of this post was accidentally released earlier)  Reusing old books, repurposing their mellow covers and yellow pages into something other than pulp
––there are good illustrations on this subject but I was musing about reusing the forgotten cotton carry bags in our car boot.  Whatever we buy, potatoes, pistachios, mangoes or marshmallows, we will need to bring our own grocery bags to supermarkets in Queensland from 1st July 2018.  Plastic bags are banned.  The perfect opportunity to reuse single-use carry bags with huge logos on them, like the paper Folio Books bag in muted charcoal with strong handles which currently houses old draft manuscripts.

I’m sure my grandmother’s 1950s wicker shopping basket is in the garage somewhere.  It’s the original multiple-use item.  Imagine me with the arched handle hooked over my arm, resting in the crook of my elbow, as I peruse the iceberg lettuces for just the right one.  A chip off the old block?  That’s how my grandmother used to shop with nary a polyethylene-sealed item in sight.

Here’s to the olden days and onward to a cleaner, healthier environment!  GBW.

POSTSCRIPTEvery Saturday I change my Home page Photo Of The Week.


Remember, one post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.  Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from ‘Thinking’ to ‘Doing’ if that suits your purpose but I’m sticking with the first format.  I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Three Things #1

Paula Bardell-Hedley WP Book BloggerOne post with three headings READING, LOOKING, THINKING an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.  Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from ‘Thinking’ to ‘Doing’ if that suits your purpose but I’m sticking with the first format.  Also, I am restricting myself to around 200 wordcount per heading.  I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!

READING:  Let’s not pretend we always read high calibre books like Booker Prize winners and heady non-fiction tomes, most people like a bit of lowbrow stuff to pass the time without stretching the brain too much.

This is why I love reading ebooks on my iPad, so accessible via OverDrive, and so many back numbers that it’s easy to binge on a writer’s complete oeuvre.  At the moment my guilty pleasure, no, rephrase that, my escapism is prolific British author Simon Brett and his Fethering Mysteries series.  A cross between Agatha Raisin, Miss Marple and cosy crime books featuring ‘mature’ women, Brett has created retiree Carole Seddon and her neighbour Jude, a healer, who live in an English seaside village which thrives on gossip and, you guessed it, murder.  Amateur sleuths Carole and Jude manage to solve crimes without external help, e.g. police, by persistence and sheer nosiness.  Exploits often revolve around fragmented marital relationships.  The first book I read was “Bones Under The Beach Hut”, coincidentally while I was on a beach holiday, and have enjoyed the consistency of the characters ever since, although some plots are more gripping than others.  Apart from Fethering series, Simon Brett has also written the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, and Blotto & Twinks series of crime novels.  GBW.

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Simon Brett British Author 02



LOOKING:
  My movie review of the HBO television version of Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies” could be filled with vitriol but I’ll rein it in.

How did it go so wrong?  Why base the story on a best-selling book if you aren’t even going to try to recreate the ambience?  I was one of the first to read and review the novel “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty (before I became a blogger) and I knew it was a winner.  Modern, edgy, clever, the plot was enhanced by social media comments from witnesses, police, etc, which obviously didn’t translate to the screen.  In the turgid, overblown DVD 3-disc version, which thankfully I borrowed free from the library, the school-obsessed mothers were rich, pampered, spoilt like their children and their husbands were just as bad.  I could not relate, nor feel any sympathy for the movie characters although they were portrayed by big-name actors.  I can’t even begin to write about the weak build up and even weaker ending.  Moriarty’s name does not get credited on the DVD case and the words ‘based on’ is unreasonable.  In my view, the book is brilliant and regrettably I think anybody who has seen the HBO depiction will have a tainted view of the genuine meaning.  GBW.

Big Little Lies    IMG_20180613_221536



THINKING:
  Dog eats possum in suburban backyard.  No, not a newspaper headline, something which happened in my quiet, sober suburban street two days ago.

For a start, there are three dogs which is against Council bylaws and one of them has just birthed ‘accidental’ puppies.  They are territorial so they bark at anything that moves, people walking, kids on bikes, and possums.  Possums are a fact of life in my suburb, we have possum-proofed our house.  On a moonlit night they will pound across the roof, jumping from tree to tree, house to house in search of food.  I won’t go into the habits of possums, the main thought I can’t get out of my head is my neighbour calmly telling me the mother dog caught and ate a possum.  Horribly, I had heard the commotion, the desperate squealing, so my fears were confirmed.  The said neighbour let this happen because it was ‘good nourishment’ for the lactating dog.  Suburban possums are full of parasites, the least of which is worms.  That dog has now given those worms to her puppies.  I’m not squeamish, I understand how the animal world survives but that’s in the countryside, not a suburban block where owners need to conform and dogs need to be domesticated.  GBW.

Possums New Nature by Tim Low

 

Brushtail possum eating apple

 

 

 

POSTSCRIPT:  Every Saturday I change my Home page Photo Of The Week.
Join in with your Three Things
––for more information here’s the link:
https://bookjotter.com/category/three-things/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward