Tag: Australia

Jan 28

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Women's Studies 14

G’Day, Bookworms!

Man, do I ever love audio books. The last time I read a book by Liane Moriarty, I spent the first few chapters thinking the What Alice Forgot (review) was set in England only to be jarred when a mention of Sydney forced me to re-align my mental accent. I’m sure I would have remembered that Liane Moriarty is Australian and had that carry over into my reading of Big Little Lies, but if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have gotten to listen to a delicious Aussie accent for hours. That would have been tragic, I think. But, oh, this book!!!

biglittleliesBig Little Lies tracks the lives and scandals of the kindergarten class parents of Pirriwee Public, a beachfront Australian suburb. While a number of parents chime in, the story primarily follows three women. Madeline is a feisty 40 year old mother juggling a part time job, her three kids, and a complicated relationship with her ex husband (including his new yogi wife, and the teenage daughter they share.) Celeste is mother to a set of twin boys. She and her extremely wealthy husband cut an impressive figure at school functions, and appear near perfection… On the surface. Jane is a very young mother, new to the area. She does her best to fly under the radar with her son Ziggy, but circumstance renders that difficult.

Holy crap on a cracker, this book was amazing. I wouldn’t ordinarily go for a book so entrenched in the Mommy Wars and schoolyard scandal, but I could not get enough. Madeline, Celeste, and Jane contributed such compelling narratives to the story. It was fascinating and well crafted and deliciously deviant. A wicked sense of humor underscored some of the more traumatic story lines, making me laugh and gasp and sigh and scowl. This would make for brilliant book club fodder, my friends. Take note! (I’ve heard this is going to be made into a limited TV series for HBO. You can bet I’ll be watching!)

Talk to me Bookworms! Have any of you read this book? Those who have and are parents of school age kids, does the gossip mill portrayed in this book ring true to you?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jan 26

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Contemporary Fiction 23

G’Day Bookworms!

I was engaging in a little behind the scenes book chatter recently (it is every bit as glamorous as it sounds, I assure you) when some serious raving began over Brooke Davis’s debut novel Lost & Found. I am highly susceptible to peer pressure, so naturally, I clicked my way on over to NetGalley to see if I could snag myself a copy of this novel. Fortune smiled, and I was granted access to a complimentary copy of Lost & Found for review consideration. No worries, though, my review will still be honest. I’m a little like Agatha Pantha that way, but you’ll have to keep reading to get that reference…
9780525954682_medium_Lost_&_FoundMillie is a 7 year old girl living in Australia. After her father passes away, her mother slowly withdraws until one day she takes Millie to a department store and abandons her in the lingerie section. While hanging around said department store, Millie joins forces with an unlikely elderly ally, Karl the Touch Typist. He engages in air stenography and makes friends with mannequins. The odd little duo is soon joined by Agatha Pantha, an elderly widow and shut in. She has spent the years since her husband died shouting vitriolic honesty out her window and listening to TV static. Can you think of a better trio to go on a cross country quest to chase down Millie’s mother?

I really wanted to LOVE this book, but my feelings are rather conflicted. On the one hand, I loved the quirky characters. Precocious children and eccentric elderly folks are a pretty irresistible combination. That said, the subject matter was unbelievably heartbreaking. The book is well written, but seeing as it’s January and I’m in the midst of the winter blahs, I had hoped it would be a little more uplifting. When I finished it, I didn’t have a life affirming feeling, it was more of a vague foggy sadness. It makes me wonder if I’d feel differently had I read the book in the summer, seeing as I’m less of a moody basket case when the sun doesn’t set before I leave work. Even though this wasn’t a super fantastic 5 star read for me, I can see a lot of y’all loving it. Seriously, if you like oddball characters and laughter-through-tears Lost & Found might be a big winner for you.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Do you ever think that the timing of when you read a book affects your opinion of it?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’m going to put it toward a pair of red gum boots because Millie has killer fashion sense.*

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Jun 09

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Contemporary Fiction 24

G’Day Bookworms!

Have I ever told you how I spent my teen years obsessed with Australia? True story. I had not one, not two, but THREE famous Australian “boyfriends.” There was my Australian Rockstar Boyfriend (Daniel Johns, lead singer of Silverchair), my Australian Actor Boyfriend (Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace), my Australian Swimmer Boyfriend (Ian Thorpe, Olympic Gold Medalist. The Sydney Olympics happened at the start of my senior year, I typically don’t watch sports that don’t involve intentional back flips.) Why am I telling you this? My latest read encompassed two of my greatest loves, Australia and Jojo Moyes! When I saw that Jojo Moyes had a new title available on Netgalley, I simply HAD to have it. You’ll recall how much I loved Me Before You (review) and The Girl You Left Behind (review), so really, it was a match made in heaven Australia. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley. My good opinion cannot be bought with a book. It MIGHT be bought with a trip to Australia… Just saying.*

silverbaySilver Bay tells the story of the residents of a sleepy town in Australia, called (shocker) Silver Bay. 76 year old Kathleen runs a ramshackle hotel with her niece Liza and Liza’s daughter Hannah. Their major source of income is eco-tourism, as Silver Bay is famous for whale and dolphin watching expeditions. It’s not a glamorous existence, and everyone has their baggage, but mostly the residents of Silver Bay have been living there uninjured.

Mike Dormer is a high powered real estate developer in London. His company is working on a luxury resort, and he’s sent on a scouting mission to Silver Bay. Mike’s development poses a serious threat to the Silver Bay’s under-the-radar status, to say nothing of its potential disruption of the whale and dolphin watching industry. Drama ensues!

One of my favorite things about Moyes’s writing is the way she draws her characters. She gives them so much depth. The major sympathetic characters are flawed, the less sympathetic characters have glimmers of humanity. I was drawn into Silver Bay and didn’t want to leave. You don’t have to love Australia to enjoy Silver Baybut I challenge you to read Silver Bay and not fall in love with Jojo Moyes.

Tell me, Bookworms. Do any of you have an obsession with an exotic (or not so exotic) locale? I can’t be alone in this, can I?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jun 05

The Untold by Courtney Collins

Contemporary Fiction 14

G’day Bookworms!

I just finished one of the most unique books I’ve read in a while. It’s set in Australia and narrated by a dead baby. And sometimes they eat kangaroos. Intrigued yet? I thought so. The Untold by Courtney Collins is truly something else. *I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through Netgalley.*

theuntoldJessie Hickman was a real woman who lived in Australia in the 1920s. Jessie’s life was one tragic adventure after another. By the age of 26, Jessie had lost her beloved father, run away from home, joined the circus, made a career stealing horses and cattle, and served a prison sentence for her wild ways. She was paroled into the arms of an abusive cattleman and dreamed of escape. Eventually, she escapes, but it’s not a straightforward disappear-into-the-night act. Once she’s on the run, Jessie is pursued by her lover… And the law.

I already mentioned that The Untold is told from the point of view of Jessie’s dead baby. I know that sounds really creepy, but it’s less bizarre than it sounds, I promise. After a traumatic premature birth, Jessie buries the baby in the Australian wilderness. The child then takes on the consciousness of the land… Because you don’t know that it couldn’t happen!

This  book was grittier than I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve read American Westerns a time or three, so the idea of horsemen on the run and living off the land isn’t foreign to me. What was a little stranger, I must admit, is the cuisine Jessie and her crew were rustling up in the bush. Sure, they had rabbits and the occasional snake, but also kangaroo and wallaby. I’m sure that endangered species weren’t yet a thing, and survival is important, but kangaroos and wallabies? Sigh. At least nobody ate a penguin.

So. Who would like this book? If you’ve ever read and enjoyed a Western, aren’t creeped out by people eating kangaroo, and/or dig The Decemberists tune “Leslie Anne Levine“, The Untold could be the book for you!

Alright, Bookworms. The Untold has one of the most unique narrators ever. What characters have been your favorite narrators?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 03

Finders Keepers? The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

Book Club, Family, Historical Fiction 36

G’day Bookworms!

Today we’re taking a trip to Australia. Actually, we’re taking a trip to an island outside of Australia that is completely uninhabited except for a lighthouse keeper… And any immediate family members he might acquire. That’s right. I finally read The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. (Thanks in no small part to BOTH of my real-life book clubs for choosing this as a summer read and to my Mother-in-Law for loaning me a copy… And to my Mother-in-Law’s friend who loaned the copy to my Mother-in-Law in the first place. Whew. That felt like an Oscar speech.)

THE-LIGHT-BETWEEN-OCEANS

Alright. So. It’s the 1920s. There’s this Australian dude named Tom Sherbourne. He fought in WWI and came back in one piece (at least physically.) He decided to work for the Australian lighthouse agency to make sure ships didn’t go crashing into things at night. It doesn’t hurt that he is still recovering from, you know, WAR, and he finds it beneficial for his psyche to be isolated. One day he meets Isabel while on shore leave. She lost both her brothers in the war and wants to get the heck out of her parents house and her small town… Plus she thinks Tom is cute. After a courtship that takes place mostly through letters (and even the letters are only delivered once every three months- this lighthouse island is way remote) the two get hitched and move out to their island. Where their only companions are each other. And some goats. Romantic, no?

Things are going along just peachy keen until Isabel starts having miscarriages. She is absolutely heartbroken that she’s been unable to carry a child to term. One night, a week or two after a third tragic loss, something strange happens. A boat washes up on the beach of Tom and Isabel’s island carrying a dead man… And a baby. Isabel sees it as a miracle and that God has delivered her a child. Tom wants to alert the authorities, but after watching his wife become immediately attached to the child, he caves. He’s been through psychological turmoil and he just can’t bear to see his wife suffer that way. They rationalize to themselves that the child’s mother likely drowned before the boat washed up and that they’re doing a good deed by keeping the baby… And passing it off as their own. Because, you know. That ALWAYS works out just fine. (Old Testament, anyone?)

I liked this book… But I did not LOVE this book. Unfortunately, it came to me at a time in my reading when I’d  just finished several INCREDIBLE books that knocked my doggone socks off. For me, it dulls in comparison to some of those titles (Me Before You, Tell The Wolves I’m Home) I also think I may have been at a disadvantage reading this because I don’t have kids. The whole maternal bond and the loss of children thing… I mean, I get it in theory, but I think it’s one of those things you can’t really FEEL until you know what it’s like to have a kid. The sort of insane lengths someone would go to in the depths of grief. The unbelievable pain of having your child vanish without a trace. I know this book has gobsmacked a lot of readers, and I don’t want to take anything away from it, because it’s very nicely done. It just didn’t sing to me the way some others have.

That said, this book got me to thinking of other titles with similar themes, what with the baby theft and family secrets and all. If haven’t read The Light Between Oceans but you loved The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (Australia, baby swapping, heartbreak), Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald (baby swapping and heartbreak in Canada- an all time fave of mine), or Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve (forced adoption and scandalous affairs at the turn of the 20th century), give it a shot. And of course, if you loved any of those titles and haven’t read The Light Between Oceans, it’s probably something you’d enjoy.

Soooo my Bookworms. I must know. Do you think you’d enjoy living on an isolated island like Tom and Isabel? Are you more of a social butterfly? Do you simply like the idea that you can escape your spouse if they happen to be driving you bananas one day? Isolated island living: paradise or claustrophobic? Tell me about it!

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Feb 25

Down The Rabbit Hole: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Blogging, Family, Psychological 27

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there, Bookworms!

Before I start talking books today, I want to tell y’all some pretty crazy news. Over the weekend I found out that I made it into the finals of the 2013 Bloggie Awards. I’m completely flabbergasted, because I am up for Best Written Weblog in a category with my super pal, Quirky Chrissy, The BLOGGESS (OMG), and The Pioneer Woman. Also in our category is a blog that I’ve not read before, but anything called Dogs on Drugs is probably amazing. So. Holy crap on a cracker! (I also would like to mention that Pocketful of Joules is nominated for Best Kept Secret Weblog and First Time Mom and Dad is nominated for Best New Weblog.) If you’re inclined to vote for such things, please do. Click HERE to submit your ballot. Alright. Shameless self promotion over. Now BOOKS!

This month’s selection for Wine and Whining Book Club was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Alice falls off her bike during a spin class (which should teach us all a very important lesson about not trying to win races on stationary bicycles.) Anyway. Alice hits her head and when she wakes up she’s lost 10 years of her memory.

What-Alice-Forgot

10 years. Wiped out. For Alice this means she’s forgotten her three children. She has no recollection of the demise of her marriage. She doesn’t know how she’s alienated her friends and family members. It’s a complete Alice in Wonderland sort of scenario (which leads me to believe that Moriarty didn’t choose her protagonist’s name by accident.)

I found this story very intriguing. How often do you wonder what you would say if your young self could see you now? My 19-nearly-20-year-old-self would probably be REALLY stoked to find out she married that cute lab monitor. Otherwise? I don’t know. My life is pretty sweet all things considered, so I’d probably just be annoyed that I couldn’t remember my wedding, and a little pissed off that I’d gotten chubby again. WHATEVER, young Katie. YOU HAVEN’T MET STEVE’S DONUTS YET!

The first of my three meetings with Alice. What can I say? I'm a fan!Ten years ago Katie would be pleased to know she goes back to Disney World as well…

I really liked this book. I must admit that toward the middle I was a little frustrated that Alice wasn’t retrieving memories and was still bungling around. It felt a bit like the whole fish-out-of-water sequence went on for longer than necessary. However, that’s a minor complaint. I loved that it was always scents that brought on her memories the fastest. It’s totally SCIENCE that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Also, I like reading about Australian people, because it allows me to imagine their awesome accents. (I’ve got to come clean though, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out if they were in England or Australia… It was clearly NOT North America, but Moriarty didn’t mention that we were in Sydney for a while… Partway through I had to switch my inner monologue’s accent and it was a little confusing.)

What do I mean by all this rambling? It’s a good book. If the premise sounds even a little interesting to you, give it a whirl. So. Bookworms. I’ve got to know. If you lost 10 years of your life, how discombobulated would you be? What major life events would you have missed?

P.S. Did you vote for me in the Bloggies? I think you should. XOXO.

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