October 26 2020

Cassandra Speaks, by Elizabeth Lesser

Cassandra speaks

Cassandra speaks, by Elizabeth Lesser

Title: Cassandra speaks: When women are the storytellers, the human story changes
Author: Elizabeth Lesser
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Gender. Women’s role in storytelling and history.

I grabbed this audiobook after this book was announced as the first pick for book club running along with the Amanda Palmer podcast. Cassandra Speaks looks at the history of storytelling by and about women – the narratives that are shaped by history, and how they impact how women see themselves in their own and other people’s stories. I’ve been listening to it on and off over the past couple of weeks, and today’s final chapters dealt, appropriately, with imposter syndrome.
I enjoyed what I remember of this book, but I’m coming to realise that when I’m listening to non-fiction I tend to disconnect sometimes in ways that I don’t do when listening to fiction audiobooks. I don’t think my review of this book does it justice – if you’re interested in feminism, the role of women in shaping the narrative of history, and how women and re-evaluate and revalue their own position in the story of life, this might be a good read for you.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 74/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 17 2020

Diamonds by Armin Greder

Diamonds

Diamonds, by Armin Greder

Title: Diamonds
Author: Armin Greder
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Consumerism. Diamond trade. Inequality. Corruption.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia. or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I read 6 picture books last night, so be prepared to be bombarded with reviews. Diamonds by Armin Greder is as complex and thought-provoking as you’d expect a Greder book to be. A child asks their mother where her diamonds come from, and after a detailed explanation of the buying and gifting process, the mother eventually mentions that they’re mined in Africa. “Where Amina comes from”? the child questions – and what follows is a nightmarish depiction of the process of diamond consumption from the ground to the consumer, with the corruption and exploitation of the industry illustrated in signature Greder style.

The majority of the story is wordless – a few pages of text at the beginning and end provide a frame for this powerful parable of the deeper impacts of greed and consumption. It’s hard to describe this book as enjoyable, but it’s certainly powerful and important. Greder’s work is always one of the ones I mention when people say that picture books are for kids!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 66/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

September 28 2020

Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman

Anxious people

Anxious people by Fredrik Backman

Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre/ issues: Adult contemporary fiction. Mental health. Relationships. Family.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“It ‘s such an odd thing, how you can know someone so perfectly through what they read.”
I’ve learned that when people whose bookish opinions you respect from different facets of your life recommend the same book to you within hours of each other, you listen. And boy, am I glad I listened when both some from my real life and my TikTok circles reviewed this book and sung its praises. I’ve been listening to the audiobook over the past few days, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so -seen- by a book.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is beautifully sweet and sensitive comedy about a bank robbery that wasn’t, a hostage situation that isn’t, and a group of people who are brought together by life, death, and circumstances beyond their control.
This book is magnificent. It’s my first by Backman, and it won’t be my last. Powerful, affirming, and poetically passionate, which is no mean feat for a novel in translation.
“We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too. All of our tomorrows.” Beautiful, and what I needed to read right now.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 62/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 25 2020

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Fifth Season

The Fifth Season, by NK Jemisin

Title: The Fifth Season
Author: NK Jemisin
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Science fantasy. Dystopia.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

 

Well. This book has taken me 2 weeks to read – not because I’ve been a reading slump, or have found it lacking in engagement, but because it’s so deeply complex and intricate that to rush it felt like paying a disservice to the incredible word that NK Jemisin has created.

This book is unlike anything I’ve read. A science fantasy in a completely original style – no comparisons to Tolkien here, a stunning diversity of race but described in its own unique way with descriptions that take some time to get your head around because they don’t rely on comparisons to any racial features or characteristics that we’re used to. Diversity, too, in the depiction of sexual and emotional relationships. The world ends, and this book carries you through one such ending, as we are introduced to “roggas”, a derogatory term for erogenes, who have the genetic ability to literally control the earth, but are feared and often reviled for their difference even though their skill is essential in maintaining and protecting life and civilisations.

This is the first book in the Broken Earth series, and both book 1 and 2 won Hugo awards. I’m not surprised, quite frankly. Jacob had already read this, and I bought him the box set for his birthday, but then cheekily decided to read The Fifth Season before sending them to him. Thank you, Jacob, I’m really looking forward to us reading the rest of the series together. A truly stunning read. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 55/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 25 2020

Stamped from the beginning: the definitive history of racist ideas in America

Stamped from the beginning

Stamped from the beginning, by Ibram X Kendi

Title: Stamped from the beginning
Author: Ibram X Kendi
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Race. Racism. History.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

 

I started this book by Ibram X Kendi months ago – I had ordered the YA version but it’s still not arrived, and in the meantime I found the audiobook available for free on Spotify. I highly recommend it – a thoughtful and comprehensive examination of the history of racist ideas in America, and how and why anti-racist actions and sentiments often fail. It’s taken me a long time to get through it because I found it really thought-provoking, and oftentimes wanted to just let some ideas sit for a bit before I moved on.
Hot tip for listening to the Spotify audiobook version- pay attention to where you’re up to. If you don’t, and then go off and listen to something else, you won’t be able to find your place when you come back to it. Even bigger hot tip – do NOT accidentally bump the shuffle button. It makes things VERY hard to follow.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 54/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 7 2020

Snowpiercer, volumes 1 and 2

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer, vol 1 and 2

Title: Snowpiercer Volume 1: The Escape and Snowpiercer Volume 2: The Explorers
Author: Benjamin Legrand
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Climate destruction. Class. Graphic novel.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’ve been working backwards in my journey with Snowpiercer. I started with the TV series, watched the movie, and then tonight I read volume 1 and 2 of the source material, the graphic novel translated from the French. Black and white artwork helps to underscore the stark landscape and even more grim future that humanity survives in, on Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. If you’re into graphic novels and have enjoyed the series, this is a great read. I think the TV show is still my favourite out of all of the versions of this story so far, but I really enjoyed reading the origin in these two volumes, and am looking forward to the third one arriving soon. For my TL followers, this one probably isn’t a good YA read – it’s mature, adult and graphic in multiple senses of the word.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 50/52 and 51/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 16 2020

The house in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

Title: The house in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Acceptance. Chosen family.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

How many times can I post about “one of the best books I’ve read this year” before that phrase starts to lose all meaning? Well, The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’d venture to say it’ll work its magical way into a future “one of the best books I’ve ever read” list. It’s certainly one of the most whimsically lovely, and the one I’ve shed the most joyful tears over.

Donna Noble is my favourite Doctor Who companion, and one of my very favourite characters from the series, Doctor included. Stay with me here, I know it feels like a tangent. What I love about Donna is that she feels like she’s utterly ordinary and unremarkable, so unimportant that she can’t possibly be special, but she is in fact the whole universe. Linus Baker from The House in the Cerulean Sea reminds me very much of her, and in a book filled with characters of various and wondrous magical abilities, he is the most captivating of them all. Linus is a by-the-book caseworker for the Department in Charge if Magical Youth, and he feels largely invisible in his drab dreary world. A special assignment sees him investigating an orphanage that is home to a special bunch of magical youth, and their equally intriguing House Master. There are secrets to be discovered, but more importantly there are lessons to be learned on the power of the family we choose.

This book is a wonder, a joy, a captivating delight. I don’t know that I would ever have found it if not for some recommendations by a couple of TikTok friends, so I’m grateful to them both for mentioning this one. I’ll be doing the same to anyone who’ll listen – get this book. Read it. It’s powerful and beautiful and I need more people to have read it so I can talk about it with them!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 42/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 12 2020

Love is love: a comic book anthology

Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting

Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting

Title: Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting
Genre/ issues: Comics. Love. Queer fiction. Pulse nightclub shooting.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

Blurb: The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love.

It’s pride month. A year ago, my daughter and I were at Stonewall, the place where a black trans woman threw a brick, and a revolution was sparked. 4 years ago, the Pulse nightclub shooting happened. Today, we are surrounded by Black Lives Matter protests, as black and indigenous people continue to be more likely to suffer institutional and systemic racism, and queer people are more likely to be attacked or discriminated against. If all lives matter, can we as a society start acting like it please?
I read Love is Love today, a comic anthology by a tonne of artists which raised money for the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting. I am so done with racists and bigots, and I’m not the target for any of their hatred, as a fairly privileged white cis-het woman. I can only imagine how the queer community, and BIPOC, are feeling. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 33/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 12 2020

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: Living on Stolen Land
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Indigenous culture. Settler-colonialism. Race.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

I love Ambelin Kwaymullina’s work, and this little book is punching well above its weight. It’s 60 pages of prose about the stolen land we live on, the impact of settler colonialism on indigenous people, and the ways in which we as non-indigenous people interact with the traditional owners of this land. A timely and important book which examines what we need to do if we are serious about decolonising this country. Magabala Books publish some excellent indigenous work, so if you’re after something to read which provides a solid foundation on which to build your understanding of Indigenous culture, or want to read some fab fiction by Indigenous authors and illustrators, check them out.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 32/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

May 23 2020

Scratchman, by Tom Baker

Scratchman, by Tom Baker

Scratchman, by Tom Baker

Title: Scratchman
Author: Tom Baker
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Doctor Who. Audiobook.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

Who could resist a Doctor Who book written and read by their favourite Doctor? Not me! Scratchman was suitably creepy, and explores ideas about the nature of fear – how it manifests in different people, and what I means. Turns out, for me it means I shouldn’t listen to Doctor Who audiobooks late at night. I will say, I found the length of this challenging. I think it’s because I’m used to the length of a normal Doctor Who episode, and after a similar length of time in the audiobook I was starting to wait for it to wrap up. I then realised that I was less than 10% of the way through, and there was still soooo much more to go. That wasn’t a bad thing – it was just a bit of dramatic format shift dissonance for me. I wouldn’t say it was one of the best things I’ve read in ages, but it was a great whovian tale, and with Tom Baker narrating it was a great way to spend a couple of nights of organising and tidying around the house.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 29/52

Happy reading,

Tamara