November 4 2020

More bedtime stories for cynics

Bedtime stories for cynics

More bedtime stories for cynics

Title: More bedtime stories for cynics
Narrator: Nick Offerman
Genre/ issues: Short stories. Fairytales for adults.

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 got this anthology of quirky bedtime stories on audible a while ago, and had been listening to them before lockdown but then got sidetracked with pandemic stuff. Today, I had to do a bit of driving, so I finally finished the last few stories. The highlight of this for me were the hilarious sardonic introductions to each story by Nick Offerman, but the stories themselves were also entertaining, and read by some great celebrity narrators. This would be a great collection to have cued up if you need something to listen to on a commute but don’t want to start a full length novel.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 77/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 31 2020

The left-handed booksellers of London, by Garth Nix

Left-handed booksellers

The left-handed booksellers of London, by Garth Nix

Title: The left-handed booksellers of London
Author: Garth Nix
Genre/ issues: Urban fantasy. Magic. Mythology.

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.

“Books help us anchor our souls.”
There are a few things that will make me insta-buy or read a book. Neil Gaiman’s name on the cover, for one. Alternate histories, for another. Books that deal with book stores, and/or libraries? Sign me up.
On paper (pun intended) this should have been my book. I loved the premise, and the characters were just wonderful. Merlin and his confidence in expressing his gender fluidity is a delight. Sally, not quite knowing who she is and where she fits as she searches for her father, felt particularly real to me. I loved the value that books played in this almost urban fantasy set in an almost 1983 London, and squealed with joy over the Penguin room and the book pyramid (no spoilers!) I loved that, in difficult times, Merlin hunted for a book to read to help centre and calm him. I loved the historical references to books and TV shows that I recognised – I won’t mention them all here, but there were a few in particular that made me happy in my heart.
QuoteBut – yes there’s a but. It felt like this was a book I’d have really loved if I’d read it at another time, but today it was just a book I pretty much enjoyed. I think that’s on me rather than the intricately detailed world that Garth Nix has created. If fantasy in mostly recognisable worlds is your thing, and you love a good book which values books and bookstores as part of its narrative, I’d recommend giving The Left-Handed Booksellers of London a go. I’d like to think I could be a left handed bookseller, but I’m pretty sure I’d be more likely to be a right handed one. And that’s ok too.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 76/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 30 2020

They both die at the end, by Adam Silvera

The both die at the end

They both die at the end, by Adam Silvera

Title: They both die at the end
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre/ issues: YA. Queer fiction. Friendship. Death.

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.

They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera. Sigh. They really did, huh? I mean, it’s right there on the cover. I’ve seen countless reviews where people talked about hoping against hope that they’d get to the end and discover that Rufus and Mateo made it past the end alive and intact. I guess, once I met them, I was just holding out hope that this had all been some elaborate ruse that everyone was in on, and I’d finish the book to discover they made it ok too. Sigh.
So, the premise is fairly simple. Roughly current day, but there’s a corporation that has the ability to know who is going to die, so from midnight people who are scheduled to die at some point in the next 24 hours get the call. They know it’s their last day, and they get to decide how to live it, and who to live it with. Rufus and Mateo live very different lives, but have their own reasons for seeking out a stranger, a fellow Decker, to share their last day with. What follows is an epic 24 hours – well, slightly less than 24 I guess – in which these two amazing souls criss-cross New York and get to know each other, and themselves, much better. I love the interplay of other characters’ lives, some weaving in very briefly with our main characters, others recurring, but all impacting in some way on the course of this heartbreaking and beautiful final day. How would you spend tomorrow if you knew it was your last? Would you be happy with how you spent today? I’m leaving this book reflecting on what’s important to me, and what’s really not in the grand scheme of things. It’s a beautiful read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 75/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

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 25 2020

Somebody give this heart a pen, by Sophia Thakur

Give this heart a pen

Somebody give this heart a pen, by Sophia Thakur

Title: Somebody give this heart a pen
Author: Sophia Thakur
Genre/ issues: Poetry. Identity. Listening to your inner voice.

I read most of this book last night. I finished it this morning, and then reread a decent chuck of it again. When I was halfway through it last night, I commented to Jacob that it was ok but I felt like it was suffering from being on the page rather than delivered orally, and I don’t deny that this would be exceptionally powerful delivered as a spoke word performance by Sophia Thakur, who is an expert in this art form. But I think, reflecting on it this morning, that I was just struggling to engage with some of the messages because they are deeply relevant to me, and sometimes that’s hard to hear.
This collection of poems charts the journey through love, loss, pain and self-discovery. Poems which deal with embracing your pain, giving yourself permission to speak, listening to your inner voice … they hit hard this weekend, particularly as I’m struggling with the looming sense of imposter syndrome as I face my first NaNoWriMo. I’ve always wanted to write, but there has always been a part of me that has shouted that desire down. I’ve largely listened to that voice, and now, as I give voice to that part of my heart that wants to write, my inner imposter syndrome is flexing its muscles. He’s had more practice at this than I have in listening to my heart, so he’s better at these arguments. But I’m going to write anyway.
So, Someone Give This Heart a Pen. It’s a great collection of poetry by a thoughtful and insightful poet. Sunday morning Tamara highly recommends it, even if Saturday evening Tamara struggled. You really do need to read things at the right time, huh? Check out this short clip of Sophia performing one of the poems from this collection. Beautiful stuff.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 73/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 22 2020

Future girl, by Asphyxia

Future girl front cover

Future girl, by Asphyxia

Title: Future Girl
Author: Asphyxia
Genre/ issues: Illustrated novel. Near future dystopia. Food insecurity. Deaf community and sign language. Censorship.

I finished this wonder of a novel today, and I’m feeling all the feelings. Visually stunning is a given – check out these interior shots, or head over to Asphyxia’s website for more of their stunning artwork!! The narrative voice of Future Girl is so powerful and compelling.
This is Piper’s art journal, and I love how the colour and intensity of the art and collage in the pages reflects her journey as she negotiates complex relationships with her mother, her friend and her new maybe boyfriend, as well as her relationship with food in a near-future Melbourne dealing with a food crisis.
We also gain deep insight into her experience of life as a d/Deaf person in a hearing world, and how powerful and important it is to be able to communicate on your own terms. Piper’s struggle to communicate as a Deaf person is effectively paralleled with the growing concerns over increasing censorship in a world where communication is all filtered through a monolithic IT corporation. Asphyxia plays beautifully with the idea of voice – spoken, written, signed, painted or texted, our voices matter, and EVERYONE should have the right to use theirs.
I’ve always been interested in learning to sign, but I have to confess to previously not having fully understood the depth, complexity and beauty of signing as its own distinct and unique language. This book was eye-opening to me about some of the issues around accessible communication for the deaf community. I know that I’ll always be a hearing person who can sign a little, and that my relationship with this language will always be as an outsider, but it’s something that I’m committed to starting to learn now, rather than just always thinking about it. This book is a wonder, and it’s high on the list of best books I’ve read this year, and ones I’ll be recommending for a long time to come.
Future girl interior page

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 72/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 20 2020

How to make a bird, by Meg McInlay

How to make a bird

How to make a bird, by Meg McInlay and Matt Ottley

Title: How to make a bird
Author: Meg McInlay
Illustrator: Matt Ottley
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Creativity.

Happy book birthday to this gorgeous thing! How To Make a Bird is a stunning story by @megmckinlay which explores the process of creativity and bringing to life your vision. I’m endlessly in awe of picture book authors who convey such insightful messages with such a brevity of words. Combined with this is the magic of @mattottleyart’s illustration, which is utterly breathtaking, and captures the joy and hope of McKinlay’s story so beautifully. This is a gorgeous picture book and I’m glad I read it when I did – it reminded me of the power of the hope that lies within me. Highly recommended for all ages.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 71/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 18 2020

Picture book weddings

Julian

Julian at the wedding, by Jessica Love

Title: Julian at the wedding
Author: Jessica Love
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Love. Personal expression. Queer representation.

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.

Julian is a Mermaid was one of my favourite picture books last year, and Julian is back, this time for a wedding! Julian wears a gorgeous purple suit, and when he and his friend Marisol go playing in the gardens, her dress gets dirty, so Julian comes to the rescue. Featuring two stunning brides, an adorable dog, and a cacophony of colours, this book is an utter joy. “A wedding is a party for love”, this book tells us, and I love everything about it. I particularly love that the default background colour is kraft brown rather than white – it feels significant and appropriate in a book that celebrates the joy of a wedding party filled with people of colour. If you’ve not read Julian is a Mermaid, pick that up when you get this. Both delightful reads, and I hope we get to see more of Julian from Jessica Love.

Aunty's wedding

Aunty’s Wedding, by Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Tyler

Title: Aunty’s Wedding
Author: Miranda Tabsell, Joshua Tyler and Samantha Fry (ill)
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Love. Personal expression. Queer representation.

Another wedding book! Vibrant colours and a simple and accessible storyline feature in this lovely story about a family preparing for Aunty’s Wedding. It celebrates the cultural traditions of a Tiwi wedding, and includes a Tiwi language glossary at the end. Sweet and engaging- well worth adding this lovely book to your collection!

 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 69/100 and 70/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 17 2020

Migrants by Issa Watanabe

Migrants

Migrants, by Issa Watanabe

Title: Migrants
Author: Issa Watanabe
Genre/ issues: Wordless picture book. Migrant/ refugee experiences.

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.

Migrants by Issa Watanabe is a stunning wordless picture book. Brightly coloured animals stand upright in human dress, and are forced to leave the forest. They share a tough journey as they cross borders and seas to find a new home.

This is a visually stunning and compelling picture book, that effectively portrays both the diversity and commonality of the migrant experience. Whilst there is some strong and potentially challenging imagery (the character who tells the animals to leave has a skull head, for example) there’s nothing too confronting about this book that would make it inappropriate for very young readers. Similarly, whilst the reading path is simple with a linear picture progression and no text, it provides an emotionally impactful story that could be enjoyed by older readers. Truly one of those books that’s accessible and meaningful for all ages of reader.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 68/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 17 2020

Dog, by Shaun Tan

Dog

Dog by Shaun Tan

Title: Dog
Author: Shaun Tan
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Animal friendship.

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 love Shaun Tan’s work, and one of the sheer thrills of my job is that I had the privilege of interviewing him a couple of years ago at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. His art is detailed and gorgeous, and the stories he tells are thoughtful and compelling.

Dog was originally part of Tan’s Tales from the Inner City, and has been reimagined in this stand-alone book, which represents the enduring relationships between human and canine across time and stages of life. It’s as stunning as you would expect from such an incredible artist, and I keep going back to examine each page, stroking it with my fingers to try and absorb the depth and texture he manages to bring to something that is so fundamentally 2 dimensional. If you have a picture book lover, and art lover or a dog lover in your life, this would make a perfect gift.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 67/100

Happy reading,

Tamara