Your Monday: What you’re reading

One of the things that I love the most about TBYL is that I get to chat to lots of people about what they’re reading and whether they’re liking the book or not. It’s amazing how many people love to read, and to share their thoughts on novels.

As such, I thought I’d do something a little different this Monday and share some mini-reviews from readers. Thanks so much to Narelle, My Encore Store, Kathy and Gill for sharing…

Narelle read Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
I read Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and found it compelling. I really loved the Time Travellers Wife, but this was darker again. It is the story of American identical twins who inherit their British aunts house upon the condition they reside there for one year. The house adjoins Highgate cemetery which is a character in itself and lends an air of gloom. Before long, the ghostly presence of the aunt becomes stronger and sets in motion fascinating events. I found it utterly believable, in a most unusual way. VERY thought provoking.

My Encore Store read The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier 
I read The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier…we actually, I read it out loud to the kids (9 and 11) over the past couple of weeks. It is a book I enjoyed as a young teenager and I really wanted them to read it, but suspected they wouldn’t if left to their own devices. They loved it, as I did. It is a wonderful story about 4 kids walking through Europe during WWII, trying to get to Switzerland as they think their parents might be there. It is so far from what my kids’ experiences are, and so different to what they usually read. Given one set of their grandparent walked through Europe during WW2 and lived in refugee camps and woods as young children, and experienced hardship and death and horror, I hoped that it would give them some understanding of how life now is so different to what it was for their own family 70 years ago. It was well worth the read. We are now moving on to I am David which is another WW2 story that I read as a youngster, but this time from the perspective of a jewish boy escaping a concentration camp….

Kathy read The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
I’ve just finished ‘The Christmas Wedding’ by James Patterson. I’ve never read any of his other books, but this was drivel. Boring! But I had nothing else to read. I wasn’t quite at the point of taking cereal packets to bed, but I was close. I’m not quite myself if I don’t have a book on the go…..

I’ve also read ‘The Slap’. There were times I wanted to reach in and strangle characters for their selfishness. There were other times I wanted to hold my hand out to them. I’m not sure if the slap itself was appropriate, but that kid needed to be reigned in, and I found it horrifying that his mother couldn’t let it go. She didn’t see what she was losing nor could she see that this suffocation was effecting her sons reactions to the world around him…..

Gill read A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani 
I’m reading A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani. This is a travel biography of an Italian journalist who lives and travels throughout Asia. He takes us on his journey, where in the 1970s a fortune teller in Hong Kong told him that he must not travel by air in 1993 or he would be killed in a plane crash. Terzani choses to travel through south east asia in 93 not by air, but by land; seeking out respected fortune tellers, an exercise that is more about cultural wisdom than divination.

This book isn’t simply a jaunt through Asian countries selling the virtues of holiday destinations, Terzani shares his thoughts on historical and cultural developments and how the west and modernisation has impacted on traditional customs. This is an intriguing and fascinating read, especially as I grew up in Hong Kong. Although it is a travelogue it reads like a novel and for me personally struck a chord and reminded me why the bungee cord keeps pulling me back to Asia.


So many books, so little time…thanks again guys!

What are you reading at the moment? Please feel free to share!

Don’t forget that our February discussions kick off today at the TBYL Book Club. We’ll be discussing Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, with a new question being posted each day. Join the Club || Read the Review || Buy the Book

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

February give-away: Religion for Atheists

This morning I promised I’d be strict and leave off blogging until next week. I said I’d get on with my other work this afternoon, and leave the bookishness until Monday, when the February TBYL Book Club kicks off.

But that was before I went for a stroll to check the mail. On checking my mail box, much to my delightful I found a package from Penguin Books, and guess what? It’s not for me…it’s for on of you!

I’ve been going on all week, to just about anyone who’ll listen, about Alain de Botton and how I got to meet him last weekend. I was thrilled to have a copy of his new book Religion for Atheists signed (another title for my collection) and a happy-snap taken for the album.

And now, I’m so pleased to be able to give-away a signed copy of de Botton’s Religion for Atheists to one lucky reader.

To go into the running to win, all you have to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post, or

2. Visit That Book You Like‘s Facebook page

…and tell us why you’d like a copy of Religion for Atheists for your bookshelf.

The winner of this month’s competition (selected at random) will receive a signed copy of Religion for Atheists.

Entries close Friday, 2 March 2012. The winner will have four days to claim their prize, or a redraw will be held.

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

In grand style

A full house. It was clear as soon as I walked into the Melbourne Town Hall, that I was not alone in wanting to see in a new year of literary endeavours in grand style.

As I found my seat amongst at least two thousand fellow bibliophiles, I marvelled at just how many people had been so quick and keen to hear a little from the minds of eleven creative individuals.

Becoming something of a tradition, this year’s Wheeler Centre Gala came with a little twist in it tail. Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In gave a voice to eleven different stories of belief from an impressive literary ensemble.

I was thrilled that the evening began with the delightful Gillian Mears. She brought with her a calmness and a simplicity and began proceedings by sharing a little of her latest novel Foal’s Bread.

It seemed fitting that a little piece of what Gillian believed in had already been captured, recorded in her poetic novel. I’ll admit, I had goosebumps as she read her prologue, a little overwhelmed by Mears’ sentiment and delivery.

Next up was Bob Franklin, changing the tone. of course, if you thought he’d be predictable and deliver us humour (his usual fare), you’d be wrong. Instead, he shared a gothic tale of angelic romance, mysterious and etherial: “I won’t ever open my eyes again, if that’s what it takes.” This short love story was haunting and enchanting, with just the slightest hint of punchline.

Randa Abdet-Fattah was next on stage, and she came out swinging. Her beliefs were bold, a story of defiance, atrocity and conflict. Her recount was strong, frightening and violent as she told of the devastation of a terrorised but resolute woman in the streets of urban Egypt. Her honesty made many in the audience uneasy, and it become clear just what it was to share belief in it’s purest, often most harrowing, form.

Next came Alice Pung, whimsical, suburban and humourous. Alice’s stories of childhood, parenthood and Mars Bars brought us back to the Australian school yard – a lovely revisit.

Kaz Cooke was, for me, a highlight of the evening’s line-up. Irreverent yet insightful, Kaz always manages to be witty as well as thoughtful. Her story somehow managed to fuse religion, mythology and Captain Cook, old age, botox and scrotums, all into one neat little, tongue in cheek package.

The evening was moving along at a cracking pace, each story short and revealing.

Next up was Elliot Perlman, who picked up on a fairly common theme of the evening, that of race. Perlman used his skills as a proficient storyteller to highlight the everyday discrimination that lives, quite at home  in our suburban streets – a sad story, with a hopeful resolution, as new generations look at each other with less apprehension and more acceptance.

Carrie Tiffany‘s story was beautifully personal, her recollection of migration from England to Perth, of adjusting to living in houses ‘built on sand’ and sleeping through nights that didn’t cool down. As over time, everything that was once so new because commonplace, she developed a habit, a steadfast belief – in books. Her passion for reading, for stories and books was devine: “I don’t care what reading does for the mind, I just care that it softens the heart.” It’ll be no surprise, that this is a belief that I share whole-heartedly.

Now of course, not everything we believe in turns out to be solid, as Andy Griffiths reminded us with his Nine Dumb Things I Used to Believe: ‘LMNOP’ is not in fact a letter in its own right and toothpaste isn’t just a conspiracy invented by companies to sell more toothpaste. I’m sure that most of use were listing at least a couple of ‘dumb things’ of our own by the end of his list.

Lally Katz told a twisty writer’s tale of Cookie the Psychic and her uncanny ability to see, and remove personal curses. Cookie, brash and bold, with her New York brogue surprised us all by turning out to be rather quite shy when it came to crunch.

Although it could be said that all the Gala guests touched us emotionally, it was physical touch that was at the centre of Tony Birch’s premise. The importance of touch, between child and parent, friend and friend, man and woman – be it two feet touching, a friendly embrace or a single kiss, Tony’s message to the audience this evening was that it is physical touch that brings us peace and connection, in a way that nothing else can.

Finally, the night was drawn to a close, musically by Casey Bennetto. Expecting something profound, imagine my surprise when I was meet with more the larrikin than the lyrical. Casey kindly reminded us that for all our country’s beauty, and all our earnest endeavours – it’s the big things that speak loudest of all…he rounded up the evening on a delightfully humorous note.

And so, for another year, the Gala concluded and we all were left a little wiser, a little more reflective, and thoroughly entertained. I was rapt by the evening, by the venue and the guests. It bodes incredibly well for an amazing series of events from the Wheeler Centre this year…keep an eye on their program, I know I will.

Check out the stories for yourself, videos are now available at the Wheeler Centre’s website.


As an aside, don’t forget that our February discussions kick off next week at the TBYL Book Club. We’ll be discussing Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, with a new question being posted each day, starting on Monday, 27.2.12.

Join the Club || Read the Review || Buy the Book


Join us: Facebook and Twitter

Riddle me this…

Last night, I was extremely fortunate to have the chance to join a small group of people in an intimate setting, to hear a few choice words from the very clever (and apparently jet-lagged) Alain de Botton.

The event run by Penguin Books Australia, was the most incredible opportunity to meet and greet with the author, complimented nicely by lovely wine and great company.

It was an evening of some quite intriguing ideas.

To me, philosophy always seems a little like a riddle; riddling around the why, when and how of our complicated lives. Philosophers, in turn, seem to both pose the riddle, and help us to answer it.

Alain de Botton seems in his new book, Religion for Atheists to be placing firmly on the table, the giant riddle of meaning – our need for it – and the gaps it leaves if we don’t feel that we have an adequate sense of meaning in our lives. It is his premise that although our belief in religion has diminished, the drivers that led us to create the various religious infrastructures are still very present in society – our craving for community, the need for guidance as to how to live well, and our appreciation of the importance of beauty, art and education. These needs are not always, in a secular context, being met. Alain does not purport that religion has the answers to this, but rather than secular society might do well to borrow some elements from religions – some rehearsals, some structures, some aesthetics and traditions, so help us learn, understand and connect with the world and each other.

Alain kindly shared some of his thinking on the premise of this book, some of the key arguments and a little on the research that he had done in order to put this work together. As always, it was a delight to hear such well structured, well researched propositions – it is what takes this kind of discussion away from being simple opinion, and makes it so very useful.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t completely agree with de Botton’s position in regards to religion for atheists. I think there are very good reasons for why people have moved away from organised religion, that go beyond the simple changes in understanding of mythology and the supernatural. I think this is why, as Alain mentions, religiosity is unpopular with many people. For this reason, I don’t think it is always going to be practical or appropriate to re-approriate religious mechanisms to enhance secular life. But, I do see great value in his position regarding the importance of reminders to ourselves to stop, reflect and enjoy, traditionally a feature of religious calendars around the world. His points regarding the role of art, architecture and talented oration also help to lend weight to their importance in a society that has become very focused on the practical, the vocational, the immediate. As someone who has had to answer the question; “What will that degree/subject/hobby ever get you?” I appreciate all the advice that I can get on this front.

In short, it was an incredible evening and I’m very much looking forward to reading Religion for Atheists. Likewise, I’m looking forward to attending Alain de Botton’s presentation for the Wheeler Centre tomorrow evening. I’ll be all philosophy-ed out by the end of the week, but hopefully I’ll also be a little bit smarter.

Religion for Atheists will be added to the TBYL Bookshelf in the near future. If you’d like me to let you know when copies have arrived, please email and I’ll be in touch.

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Time flies…

It’s just occurred to me that it’s Friday…

Not only that, but on looking back on the week, I realise now that I’ve had no time to post. Oh dear. Gladly though, this has largely been because I’ve been very busy attending Galas, reading into the wee hours and meeting authors (and making plans to meet more). As a result of all of these activities, it’s my intention to bring you a whole stack of interesting articles over the next couple of weeks…

So you better clean your reading glasses, I’m comin’ your way!

In the meantime, I’m really excited to be able to announce the novel for March’s TBYL Book Club. It’s something a little lighter this month, and should be good for both laughs and discussions. It’s Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity:

It’s a brilliant story of one man’s journey of self-discovery. When Rob – a thirty-five-year old record shop owner and music obessive – is dumpted by Laura he indiulges in some casual sex, a little light stalking and some extreme soul-searching in the form of contacting every ex-girlfriend who ever broke his heart. An instant classic, High Fidelity is a hilarious exploration of love, life, music and the modern male.

Remember, it’s free to join the club, and if you’d like to buy a copy of the book, I’ve got them in The Store for just $9.95.

We’re gearing up for this month’s catch-up to discuss Emma Donoghue’s Room. Discussions kick off on the 27.2.12 and will run for the week – I hope you’ll join us. Read the review || Buy the Book

Finally, you might have noticed me carrying on our Facebook page this week about an amazing opportunity that has presented itself. I’m extremely excited at having been invited to meet-and-greet with Alain de Botton this weekend. This special event, arranged by Penguin Australia, will be an incredible chance to hear from the author of titles such as The Consolations of Philosophy and The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. I’ll be getting a copy of his new book Religion for Atheists this weekend, and I’ll be sure to review it post-haste.

Plenty of fun to be had in TBYL-world…I hope you’ll join in!

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

What do you believe in?

It’s not something you ask someone every day – “What do you believe in?” – but, when you think about it, it’d probably be one of the most interesting conversations you could have with a person.

A set of beliefs can be as individual as fingerprints, and often quite surprising. To be offered an insight into the beliefs of some of my favourite authors is a rare treat indeed.

That is why I’m so looking forward to my first literary event of 2012, the Wheeler Centre’s Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In.

Eleven authors have been asked to explore belief

…from whichever angle they choose – be it a polemic on their unshakeable commitment to our inalienable rights as humans, a personal account of being in the presence of God, or a tirade on the existence of hobbits.”

The range of guests is impressive; Alice Pung, Elliot Perlman, Bob Franklin… but personally, I’m most exciting about hearing from Kaz Cooke, Andy Griffiths, Carrie Tiffany and Gillian Mears. Gillian Mears of course is the author of Foal’s Bread, a book that I’ve been raving about since last year.
Carrie Tiffany

Carrie Tiffany is the very talented author of Everyman’s Rules to Scientific Living and more recently, Mateship with Birds. I had a chat with Carrie last week, and am looking forward to bringing you a review-interview in the very near future.

There is something very enticing about the possibility of getting inside the hearts and minds of these talented individuals, be it only for a few minutes.

Although the Gala is currently booked out, I have heard that there is a slight possibility of a few extra tickets becoming available tomorrow, so keep an eye on the Wheeler Centre’s website. While you’re there, why not have a browse through their calendar of events – it’s looking fantastic, including an amazing range of personalities, ideas and disciplines. It’s going to be a good year!

Are you going to the Gala? Any other literary outings planned?

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Defender of the Faith, go along for the ride

I’m pleased to report that this weekend I finally got hold of the ipad for long enough to finish reading Chris Allen’s Defender of the Faith. A Sunday well spent, I bunkered down in my reading chair and finished off this action-packed INTREPID adventure. After a day of reading, a flat ipad battery, and a wild literary ride on boat, and car and chopper…through Africa, London and the streets of Sydney, I was left gasping for breath and wanting more…

Defender of the Faith is the story of INTREPID agent, Alex Morgan as he works to unravel a web of corruption and greed. It’s his job to uncover those pulling the strings of a deadly coup in Malfajiri and to bring them to account. He does this with brawn and brains, and the promise of beer. Of course, whilst busy fighting rebel soldiers and repeatedly cheating death, Morgan still has time to attract the lovely Arena Hall. Their resulting affair creates solace for the couple, in a recuperative Spanish villa no less, but it also threatens to compromise Alex’s mission, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

The novel is wonderfully authentic, nicely paced, it contains plenty of detail and just the right ratio of plot-to-action. The character of Morgan is also quite interesting. At first he seems your standard-issue operative, one part renaissance man, one part action hero. There’s no doubt, there is that to him – he’s unbreakable, he’s clever, and he’s quite the lady’s man. But interestingly, he’s also a bit more than that. I was struck by the character’s morality, his sense of doing right and defending the innocent. This really makes Alex Morgan stand out, both against the crooked adversaries that he faces off with, but also when he’s compared to other ‘James Bond’ type characters – he’s a new breed of hero.

Now, I was really lucky to be able fire off five quick questions to the author of this exciting novel. In his own words, here’s what Chris Allen had to say about his debut novel:


As a new author, can you tell us how it is you came to write fiction? It’s quite a departure from your ‘day-job’ – why the shift?

I’ve always wanted to write, from the time I was a boy, but I was never one of those kids who was drawn to the theory of it. I just wanted to write – my way. Most importantly, I have always wanted to write action thrillers. I think I learned most of the craft from reading the works of my favourite writers: Ian Fleming, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alistair Maclean, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth and Clive Cussler. Of course, to be in their league I felt I needed to experience the things I wanted to write about first hand.  So, one thing led to another, and a career within the military, humanitarian aid and law enforcement environments beckoned.  While I watched with great interest (and envy) the successes of great contemporary Australian writers in the action/crime space, like Matthew Reilly, Tara Moss etc, in my case, I had to get to a point where I felt I was ready to put pen to paper and write the style of thriller I’d always hoped to. It took many years, but I’m finally there.

How did the character of Alex Morgan come about? He’s such an intriguing, down-to-earth yet exceptional operator…

Well, Alex Morgan is an interesting guy. He was originally to be styled around the fictional favourites of my childhood, like James Bond, Napoleon Solo (from ‘The Man from UNCLE’), Dirk Pitt, and Bodie (from ‘The Professionals’), and to an extent he still is.  But, with the benefit of real experience, Alex Morgan became much more.  As you see him now, Morgan is a hybrid of a select few, very  real people; friends and colleagues whom I have had the great privilege of knowing and serving with over many years.  While I have loosely used myself as his foundation, I have extracted various skills, experiences and character traits from three or four friends to really give him the gritty, down-to-earth realism that you find on the page.  People who do the kind of work that I’ve attributed to my INTREPID agents, can’t afford to be superficial, self obsessed loners. They have at their core a sense of service, loyalty and obligation that can only be built amongst comrades.

Clearly you know your stuff, evidenced by the amazing details included throughout this adventure…how much, if at all, did your military experience inform Defender of the Faith?

My time as an Army Officer definitely provided the basis for what I would eventually create within the characters and storyline for Defender.  I spent time on attachments to other armies and worked alongside soldiers from at least a dozen different countries.  I served in Europe, Africa, Central America and South East Asia.  But, my service hasn’t all been in the military. Mid-way through my time in the Army, I took a brief sabbatical to serve with the Australian Federal Police. Years later, when I eventually left the Army due to injury, I served with an international humanitarian aid agency in East Timor at the height of the intervention mission in late 1999. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, my career has been predominantly within the Government protective security arena. Fortunately, I also have an incredible group of very close friends, many of whom have made expert contributions to my work to ensure that I kept every detail as accurate as possible!

So, over almost thirty years, I’m accumulated a quite diverse range of skills and experiences, all of which led to the creation of INTREPID and, most importantly, Alex Morgan.

When you’ve got a minute or two to put your feet up and have a read, what do you pick-up off the bookshelf?

Honestly, when I want to completely escape and go back to something that is totally familiar and entertaining, I can’t go past the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories.  Otherwise, I try to read current authors, both established and emerging, mainly within the action/crime space and these days, I do most of my reading via my Kindle.  If I’m finding it too hard to get to a book, then I’ll have an audio book in the car.

What’s next? Will we see more of Morgan or something new?

I am absolutely committed to writing a series of Alex Morgan/INTREPID adventures.  I’m in the midst of writing Book 2 right now and I’m loving it, but there are times when I get really frustrated that my two-fingered typing is slowing me down while the ideas are trying to pour out of me, especially when I’m writing an action sequence! Meanwhile, there is serious interest and discussion at the moment from a number of people over the possibility of a Defender film. In my view, Alex Morgan & INTREPID presents an unprecedented opportunity to launch a uniquely Australian action hero into the contemporary international context.


I for one would pay good money to see that film, and equally, I’m eagerly awaiting the next INTREPID instalment. In the meantime, I’ll have to make do with an action-filled re-read of a few choice chapters:

“Morgan chanced a look back towards the rebels. They were everywhere, their rounds biting into the dirt at his feet. The distinctive crack of high-velocity ammunition pierced the air, inches from his face. Morgan expected that at any second he would feel the unmistakable thump and burn of the bullet that would find him. It was inevitable. A quick death was preferred, but unlikely, especially if he was still alive when the rebels reached him”

If you like a fast-paced, authentic read, you’ll love this book. If you’re still not convinced you can sample the first 12 chapters for free, available at the Defender of the Faith website. Also, you can pick up a copy of the book over on the website too, paper or ebook. Well worth a look.

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

My Monday: My favourite love-story

I’ve heard it said, that February is the month of romance.

Personally, I’ve always found that February is more the month of no more sleep-ins, a new school year starting, going back to work, and subsequently trying to catch-up after a month of down-time. Bah humbug.

But this year, I’m changing my tune. I’m going to get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day with a little light reading and a classic film.

And so, my first My Monday for 2012 is all about one of my favourite stories of all time – Truman Capote’s heartbreaker Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A tale that can make even me; ever practical, slightly cynical, a little too matter-of-fact, feel positively romantic.

I know it’s not the most original choice for this time of year, but for me, this story is the epitome of style, romance and that New York, New York feeling. Both the film and the novel in equal measure have an undeniable allure, a sweetness, a street-smartness and a delightful element of intrigue.

“Also, she had a cat and she played the guitar. On days when the sun was strong, she would wash her hair, and together with the cat, a red tiger-striped tom, sit out on the fire escape thumbing a guitar while her hair dried. Whenever I heard the music, I would go stand quietly by my window. She played very well, and sometimes sang too. Sang in the hoarse, breaking tones of a boy’s adolescent voice. She know all the show hits, Cole Porter and Kurt Weill; especially she liked the songs from Oklahoma! which were new that summer and everywhere. But there were moments when she played songs that made you wonder where she learned them, where indeed she came from. Harsh-tender wandering tunes with words that smacked of piney-woods or prairie.”

And of course, there’s this:

Each time I read this gorgeous novella I am perplexed by Holly…Is she an innocent? Is she a woman in charge of her own destiny? Or is she simply on a wild, wild ride through 1940s New York – peppered with gangsters, smitten neighbours and trips to the powder-room?

I’m going to read it again tonight, and I’ll try and work her out all over again.

And then of course there’s the film, and there’s Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn has become synonymous with Holly Golightly and her New York style, her sophistication has become iconic, the very measure of beauty.

When I was New York I almost missed out on seeing Central Park and I blame this entirely on the film. I lost myself for hours, deep inside Tiffany’s – hypnotised by sparkle and mental images of Audrey Hepburn, sipping coffee, strolling slowly on a New York morning. Before I knew it, I’d cut my day in half and had time only enough for a quick wander through Central Park. Never mind, next time.

I’d love to be planning another trip to the Big Apple, but a date night to the Astor Theatre will have to suffice – they’re showing Breakfast at Tiffany’s next weekend.

And with that, that’s my February set, and Matt be warned, I’ll expect diamonds this Valentines Day.

Buy your own copy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the TBYL Store!

Join us: Facebook and Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Big week coming!

I’m having a reading day today, or trying to the best the kids will let me. Although they keep following me around the house, I’ve got my ipad (for reading) and my ipod (for noise cancelling) and I’m attempting to sink into the action of a good novel.

I’ve got lots of interesting posts lined up for this week coming. I’m going to start with a My Monday, and I’ve got my first review-meets-interview pegged for Tuesday. Later in the week I’ll let you know what I thought of the heartbreaker, We Need to Talk About Kevin and take a gander at the line-up for next weekend’s Wheeler Centre Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In.

I wanted to put up a quick post today, to let you know that I’ve been tinkering online, and I’ve set up February’s Eager Readers group over at the TBYL Book Club. It’s a group set up specifically for those eager readers who’ve powered through this month’s book – Room, by Emma Donoghue, and would like to start talking about it (without giving away the ending to those who are still reading). It’s a private group, so you’ll need to ask to join – once you’ve joined, you can chat away to your hearts content.

You’ll find the group here…

From the sounds of it, lots of people enjoyed last month’s book club, and many of you are now enjoying the February group. Put it in your diary, we’ll start the chat about this month’s book on Monday, 27.2.12.

Room is a pretty quick read, it’s very gripping, so if you’d like to get a copy of the book, you can buy one here…

I hope you’ll join in the conversation.

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Just what I needed: Only Sparrows

I’m not sure I can be trusted to write this review in sound mind. You see, Josh Pyke’s music makes me awfully gushy, and I’m listening to his new album as I write about it.

It could get messy…

I’ll try not to get too carried away, but you’ve been warned, I’m a big fan.

I finally got my hands on a copy of Josh Pyke’s new album Only Sparrows (thanks Karen xx) and listened to it for the first time yesterday. It’s been on repeat ever since, and I’ve been prone to wistfulness.

Only Sparrows as an album not too dissimilar from Pyke’s Memories and Dust (2007) and Chimney’s Afire (2008). In saying that, there’s no sense of repetition, the album stand apart. It’s twelve new, delightful tracks, twelve stories, twelve little pieces of poetry.

Track number one, Clovis’ Sons slayed me. The hairs stood up straight on the back of my neck, and I had to stop what I was doing and just listen. It made me breath more slowly, more deeply. Goodness.

No One Wants a Lover, the first single from the album, brought me back to earth a little…a cheerful number, feet-tapping, head-nodding, hand-clapping. It made me thing of pubs and beer and sticky carpets.

Diet of Worms broke my heart, and Punch in the Heart fixed it again. Punch… is especially fetching as it features Katy Steele. Her unique vocals adds a little extra whimsy to an already stunning song.


If I had to pick, I’d say that my favourite track on Only Sparrows would have to be Factory Fires, a colonial tune rich with story and desperation. It’s industrial and romantic, somber and beautiful all at once.

Lastly, to wrap up the album, Love Lies is a love-song lullaby, featuring gentle guitar, and an uniquely Australian tone. A song for summer.

This is quite a special album, and the stories it contains move me. They’re just what I need right now, and I’m fairly sure it’s got lots of listens ahead of it.

What are you listening to this summer?

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter
Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 113 other followers

%d bloggers like this: