August 16 2021

The Deception Engine – Part Two and Part Three, by J-L Heylen

book cover

The Deception Engine – Part Two and Part Three, by J-L Heylen

Title: The Deception Engine – Part Two and Three
Author: J-L Heylen
Genre/ issues: Steampunk. Queer fiction. 

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.

My e-reader experiment continues – I read part 2 of JL Heylen’s Deception Engine on my resuscitated kindle, and part 3 on my iPad. Sigh. I really need a new ereader. The important part of the process though? The books. I can’t say much without being too spoilery, as they very much rely on you having read part 1 first. I will say, though, I found these as thoroughly engaging as the first volume, with some fantastic character and relationship development throughout. Witty, quirky and a whole lot of fun.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 125-126/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 13 2021

The Deception Engine: Part One, by J. L. Heylen

 

book cover

The Deception Engine: Part One, by J. L. Heylen

Title: The Deception Engine: Part One
Author:
J. L. Heylen
Genre/ issues: 
Steampunk. 

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’ve been struggling with the decision about whether to buy a new e-reader or not. I used to have a kindle which I used a lot, but when it died I didn’t replace it, thinking I’d just use the apps on my iPad. Spoiler alert – I did not. I’ve tried it a few times, but the backlit screen and temptation to switch to other apps don’t work for me. I’ve been toying with a few options, and would prefer a non-Amazon product, but my mum gave me her old kindle yesterday so I’ve been testing it out. Whilst I don’t think it’s going to be a good long term solution (so far it can’t be unplugged for more than a few minutes!) I did find some ebooks I’d forgotten I’d purchased! So last night, I started the Deception Engine series by JL Heylen.
Why don’t I read more steampunk? I really love it, and this is the first steampunk book I’ve read set in familiar surroundings! Hilary Templestowe arrives in colonial Sydney after her husband’s death, looking for a new start and some adventure. She finds it, in the form of wo/man about town, Phyllida/ Mister Phil Thorn. A mystery unfolds. There’s some spice, as Phil and Hilary discover some delightful ways to repurpose a rising crop. And, most importantly, there’s a cracking narrative with some interesting and engaging characters. I particularly love the wry and sardonic humour that weaves its way through this book (most notably in the fab chapter titles!) and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into parts 2 and 3 of this book soon! CW: mentions of rape/ physical abuse (brief but very present). Mentions of homophobia/ family abandonment due to sex/gender issues. And, as one of my favourite chapter titles warns, best not to read this one to the kids.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 120/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 30 2021

The called us enemy, by George Takei

The called us enemy

The called us enemy, by George Takei

Title: The called us enemy
Author: George Takei
Genre/ issues: Memoir. History. Graphic Novel. Racism. WW2.

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 Called Us Enemy: expanded edition, by George Takei. A stunning memoir tracing Takei’s life and experiences as a Japanese American, interned with his family for the “crime” of having Japanese ancestry during World War 2. The deceptively simple black and white illustrations capture the historical trauma of this time, retold with the maturity of hindsight but still capturing the experience through the eyes of a child, excited by the train rides and the vacations and not fully understanding why everyone around him is so scared and upset. I’ve read a few different memoirs about this time, and I’m always struck by the complex emotions that they evoke. Wonder at the strength and tenacity that families showed to endure such treatment from a place they called home. Sadness that there was a need for such strength. Horror that people were treated this way – and moreso that they are still, as Takei points out as he parallels Trump’s orders around Muslim immigration at the beginning of his term in office.
Perhaps the key enduring message from this beautifully told piece of history is the importance and power of democracy. Of the impact of using your voice to speak out for what is right. Representation matters, in politics, in social justice movements, and in our media – which is something that Takei represents on a great many fronts. I’d highly recommend picking this gem up.

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#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 116/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 27 2021

Letter from Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Letter from Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr

Title: Letter from Birmingham Jail
Author: Martin Luther King, Jr
Genre/ issues: Non fiction. Civil rights.

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.

The Penguin Modern collection is a fantastic set of books from ground-breaking writers, presenting a distilled hit of their work, philosophies and ideas. I’m aiming to read one a night – most nights, anyway! I might as well come out of lockdown a little bit more enlightened and informed, right? The first book in the collection is Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which includes both the letter he wrote in the margins of a newspaper whilst in jail in 1963, and Three Dimensions of a Complete life, first delivered as a sermon in 1967.
What struck me as I read this was that I’d probably have considered myself familiar with King’s work and influence. I know the famous speeches. I’m aware of his impact and importance in the civil rights movement. But outside those sound bites, I’ve not actually read any of his other writings. And wow, can he write. There’s a power and poetry to his words. But what hit me the most about this was the tragedy of it. That almost 60 years later, what he’s arguing for and pleading for is still so desperately needed. His description of the immorality of the way Birmingham police treated people of colour in the midst of non-violent protest could so easily have been applied to scenes from a BLM march today. This reminded me that I have a part to play. We all do. A powerful little read. Next time you’re placing an online order for books, check this series out – at only $2.50 a book, they’re well worth it!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 115/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 24 2021

A meditation on mortality, by Elizabeth Zarb

Meditation on mortality

A meditation on mortality, by Elizabeth Zarb

Title: A meditation on mortality
Author: Elizabeth Zarb
Genre/ issues: Flash fiction. Mortality. 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.

I’ve been following @liz_zarb on TikTok for a while and have really enjoyed her content, so when she shared recently that her collection of flash fiction was now on sale, I tamped down my aversion to buying from Bezos and ordered it. What a wonderful read! A Meditation on Mortality is what you’d expect from the title, a collection of short pieces of writing about death and dying, exploring the multiplicity of emotions and moods that can surround this event that is truly the one thing that we all have in common.
Liz writes beautifully, and as well as enjoying this quick and powerful book as a reader, it had me reflecting deeply on myself and how I feel as a writer. I love to write. Most of what I write now is non-fiction – work proposals. Book reviews. Support articles. Stuff that I enjoy crafting for readability, but that doesn’t really hit the creative itch that lurks in my soul. I’ve got a novel bubbling away in the background, and I’ve been writing a bit more poetry recently, but flash fiction isn’t something I’d thought about before – and I don’t know why! So I think that’s going to be my August project. I’m leaving it until next month because I’m currently devoting far too much time to a secret squirrel writing task that I want to clear off my plate first, and if I start thinking about writing flash fiction now I’ll be procrastinating rather than finishing that!
Speaking of which – sigh. Off to keep working on it. Why is writing about yourself so hard? Thanks for this collection, Liz. A fab way to start my Saturday morning

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 109/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 2 2021

Lord and ladies, by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies

Lords and ladies, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Lords and Ladies
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Comedy. Discworld.

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.

Whilst a long distance relationship isn’t always easy, there are some things I love about what Jacob and I share through all of this. My favourite #longdistancedatenight is Jacob reading to me. We’ve enjoyed some wonderful books together, and the latest has been Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett. From the Witches collection of #Discworld, it revolves around wedding plans as King Verence prepares to make Magrat Garlick his wife. Magrat isn’t at all prepared for the responsibilities of being queen, however … and then there’s the issue of the crop circles, which Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax worry herald the arrival of “circle time”, a convergence of parallel universes which mean the Disc is susceptible for invasion by Elves from a parasite reality.
Like all Discworld books, this is incredibly funny, with some clever takes on tropes found in both contemporary society and fantasy worlds. I particularly loved Dwarfish lothario Casanunda, and Magrat’s desire to channel the “memory” of Queen Ynci and become a warrior queen to take on the enemy elves (blissfully unaware that Ynci is a fiction and the armour she dons was made of old cookware). More than that, though, I loved getting to share this story with my best friend, to curl up in bed and to enjoy his fantastic narration. There’s something incredibly special about hearing a story read aloud by someone with respect for the power of words, and #JacobReads beautifully. I’m very much looking forward to our next book, as we move onto Guards! Guards!, the first City Watch book.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 103/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 28 2021

Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett

Pyramids

Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Pyramids
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Comedy. Fantasy. Discworld.

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.

“The kingdom reassemble[d] itself, like a smashed mirror that is put together again and reflects the same old light in new and unexpected ways.”
Book 7 in the #Discworld series is a standalone, and we meet Teppic as he completes his training with the Assassin’s Guild in Ankh-Morpork. Destiny has other plans for him, though, and shortly after passing his brutal final exams he inherits the throne of his desert kingdom Djelibeybi earlier than expected. Playing with notions of mythology, traditional, inheritance and mathematics, it’s incredibly funny, and one of the first books in the series I remember reading back when I was an undergrad. It’s been a joy to revisit it!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 99/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

May 23 2021

Evelyn Evelyn, by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley

Evelyn Evelyn

Evelyn Evelyn, by Amanda Palmer

Title: Evelyn Evelyn
Author: Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Fantasy.

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.

“There are people who think that things that happen in fiction do not really happen. Those people are wrong.” @neilhimself
Evelyn Evelyn is the dark and disturbing story of conjoined twins, from their tragic birth during which both their parents and their doctor die, and through numerous dysfunctional “homes”, for want of a better word. The backstory of the musical act of Evelyn Evelyn, who bear a striking resemblance to @amandapalmer and Jason Webley, this graphic novel in 2 parts is illustrated in a beautifully dark gothic/ comic style by @cynthiavonbuhler, and is a compelling and beautiful read, if not an easy one. Trigger warnings: religious fanaticism, child pornography and trafficking, animal cruelty

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 64/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

May 11 2021

The She Book, by Tanya Markul

The She Book

The She Book, by Tanya Markul

Title: The She Book
Author: Tanya Markul
Genre/ issues: Poetry. Feminism.

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 The She Book by @tanyamarkul this afternoon whilst waiting to present at an online meeting (which I almost missed because technical difficulties of course kick in at the most inconvenient times!) I don’t quite remember how I came to get this – I know I added it to a recent online order because someone had recommended it somewhere. Maybe in my Feminist Bookclub group? I’m not sure. I’m also not sure that reading this in one sitting was the ideal way to consume it, because it feels like a “read a page at a time and ponder on what it means for your life” kind of book. Affirmations. Prayers. Reassurances that you’re broken, but your brokenness is completely ok. Some of them moved me deeply. Some of them didn’t hit home for Today Tamara, but I know that Past Tamara would have appreciated reading them, or Future Tamara may need to. Regardless, it felt like a lovely way to end a day where I read poetry by the wonderful @kirli.saunders and the inimitable Maya Angelou. Women, huh?

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 57/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

May 11 2021

And Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou

And Still I Rise

And Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou

Title: And Still I Rise
Author: Maya Angelou
Genre/ issues: Poetry. Race. Identity.

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’ve always loved Maya Angelou’s poetry, and I picked up this edition of And Still I Rise at @diabolikbooks the other day. This adorable little set-up under the stairs was the perfect place to sit and read it today. So much powerful poetry – some I was familiar with, but a surprising number I’d not read or heard before, which was a great surprise!
I love the spaces @curtinuniversity have designed for students to read, relax and study around campus. This is one of my favourites – especially when a handsome man pops in to take you to lunch after he’s finished teaching classes for the morning!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 56/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara