25 October, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

What are you reading Monday  is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. Head over and check out what others are reading!
What I finished this week (click the links for my reviews)

Only one finish this week

Breakout: How I Escaped from the Exclusive Brethren by David Tchappat

What I am reading now

She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb

From Goodreads:

"Mine is a story of craving; an unreliable account of lusts and troubles that began, somehow, in 1956 on the day our free television was delivered." So begins the story of Dolores Price, the unconventional heroine of Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone. Dolores is a class-A emotional basket case, and why shouldn't she be? She's suffered almost every abuse and familial travesty that exists: her father is a violent, philandering liar; her mother has the mental and emotional consistency of Jell-O; and the men in her life are among the most loathsome creatures ever to go by the name of man. But Dolores is no quitter; she battles her woes with a sense of self-indulgence and gluttony rivalled only by Henry VIII. Hers is a dysfunctional Wonder Years, where growing up in the golden era was anything but ideal. While most kids her age were dealing with the monumental importance of the latest Beatles single and how college turned an older sibling into a long-haired hippie, Dolores was grappling with such issues as divorce, rape and mental illness. Whether you're disgusted by her antics or moved by her pathetic ploys, you'll be drawn into Dolores's warped, hilarious, Mallomar-munching world.
I'm also listening to:

Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Oil Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whore House - Paul Carter

From Goodreads:

'Great two-fisted writing from the far side of hell.' - John Birmingham, bestselling author of He Died with a Felafel in his Hand
'A unique look at a gritty game. Relentlessly funny and obsessively readable.' - Phillip Noyce, director of The Quiet American and Clear and Present Danger
Paul Carter has been shot at, hijacked and held hostage.
He's almost died of dysentery in Asia and toothache in Russia, watched a Texan lose his mind in the jungles of Asia, lost a lot of money backing a mouse against a scorpion in a fight to the death, and been served cocktails by an orang-utan on an ocean freighter. And that's just his day job.
Taking postings in some of the world's wildest and most remote regions, not to mention some of the roughest oil rigs on the planet, Paul has worked, gotten into trouble and been given serious talkings to in locations as far-flung as the North Sea, Middle East, Borneo and Tunisia, as exotic as Sumatera, Vietnam and Thailand, and as flat out dangerous as Columbia, Nigeria and Russia, with some of the maddest, baddest and strangest people you could ever hope not to meet.
Strap yourself in for an exhilarating, crazed, sometimes terrifying, usually bloody funny ride through one man's adventures in the oil trade.
When not getting into trouble on the rigs Paul lives a quiet life in Sydney.

What's next?

 Still working my way through my library list! Getting there!!

So what are you reading? Leave me a link!

20 October, 2010


Breakout: How I Escaped from the Exclusive Brethren by David Tchappat

The Brethren are a religious group (some say sect, and I am inclined to agree) who have strict rules about their members having contact with the outside world. There is no socialising with what they call worldly people, no radio or television or pre recorded music.  They aren't allowed to eat with worldly people, no sporting activities.Their leader is called the Elect Vessel and makes all decisions regarding what is allowed and what is not. The Elect Vessel has final say on what job you do, who you marry and is also responsible for meting out punishments. It's hard to say exactly what the rules are as the Elect Vessel is able to change them whenever he wants.

Within in the Brethren, if you break the rules, you may find yourself in one of thre positions:

1. shut up - not allowed to attend church or socialise, visited by priests. If a child is shut up, the parents are shut up too to care for them. Any other children will be removed to live with other church members.

2. withdrawn - totally cut off from Brethren. If a child is withdrawn, parents are shut up to care for the child. Other children are removed from the home and cared for by other church members. Adults or children who are able to care for themselves are found alternative accommodation. If a married person is withdrawn their partner will be shut up and any children removed. A withdrawn person is not able to have sexual intercourse or eat with their partner while withdrawn.

3. Excommunicated - removed from the church completely. No longer allowed to attend church, enter Brethren houses, be employed by Brethren members. Basically are seen as having to hope.

David Tchappat grew up in an Exclusive Brethren household. At the age of 19, and having already attempted escape once, he left the Brethren and struck out on his own. He became a police officer (frowned on by the Brethren because it required him to carry a gun), changed career to become a firefighter and appeared on the Australian version of Big Brother. At all stages, David fought guilt and fear over what he had done. Several times he almost returned to the Brethren, believing that he couldn't make it on his own.

I found this book particularly compelling as I went to school and was friends with a girl who belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a less rigid arm of the church. They weren't allowed to eat with us, have TV's, radios, went to church 7 days a week, but I don't think their punishments were as brutal. At least I hope not. In year 9, K started to go out with a worldly boy. They would come to my house after school, listen to music, watch TV and kiss. (another Brethren no no unless you are married.) Unsurprisingly, K was finally sprung, I was labelled an agent of the devil and her parents cracked down. Having read this book, I hope her punishment was not as severe as someone from the Exclusive Brethren's would have been.

Although I found the book interesting and a fascinating insight into the religion, I did find that David still came across as immature. At the time of writing the book he was in his early 30's. He constantly referred to girls as "hot" or "ugly", talked frequently about "getting on the drink" and often came across as someone trying too hard to use a language he was not use to. I put it down to the fact that up until 19, he was totally shelter. Once he escaped, he went a bit crazy, drank too much, objectified women and really had no one to talk to him about these things. Any attempt to talk to his family resulted in being told that he was unable to cope in the bad, evil world and he better come home toot sweet before he ended up in hell. In short (and lets face it, this post is anything but!) he started his teenage years at 19! No wonder he has some catching up to do!

19 October, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading

This is how it works
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
  This weeks Teaser Tuesday comes from:

 Breakout by David Tchappat

Due to me being shut up from the Brethren, my job at the Kennard's factory became obsolete. No contact was allowed with the Brethren in any way. I was like some kind of leper. The priests informed Dad that he was to employ me from this point on.

This is taken from just after David attempted his first escape and was caught. Being shut up was being put in total isolation. No church, no socialising, not even eating with others and weekly visits and interrogations from church officers. His younger siblings were sent to live with other Brethren as his parents and one of his sisters were also shut up. His parents because of their obvious failure and his sister because she knew of the plan. It was close to 6 months before David and his parents were readmitted into the congregation.

I'd love to know what your teaser is this week. Leave me a link!

18 October, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

What are you reading Monday  is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. Head over and check out what others are reading!
What I finished this week (click the links for my reviews)

The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster

Salvation Creek - Susan Duncan

Love is the Higher Law - David Levithan

What I am reading now

Breakout. How I Escaped From the Exclusive Brethren - David Tchappat

From Boomerang Books:

Imagine a life without television, music or freedom; imagine every minute of your spare time being spent attending church; imagine growing up believing swimming pools, cinemas and dancing were evil. For members of the Exclusive Brethren, a strict religious sect, constraints such as these are normal. No member is allowed to eat in the same room as a 'worldly' person, they are forbidden from owning a pet and they are restricted from socialising with anyone outside of the Exclusive Brethren. Most members are so isolated within the sect that they can't even imagine a life on the outside. But not all members can live such a controlled existence. Once David Tchappat had a taste of the real world as a teenager, there was no going back despite the fact he knew he would be cruelly ostracised from his family, friends and the only life he had known
When I was in high school, I had a friend who was a member of the Exclusive Brethren. For various reasons, I became the devil incarnate to her family (and no, I'm not exaggerating, that was the term used.) Several events lead her to question whether she stayed or left. She decided to stay and slowly cut herself off from her group of worldly (non sect) friends. I still wonder what happened to her.

What's next?

I've made a pact with myself to work through the huge number of books I have out from the library. (30 at last count, although some are CD's, DVD's and magazines.) Basically I'm trying to go from the ones I can't renew again, to those whose due date as furthest away! In the meantime I'm going to try really hard to NOT bring home anything new this week at least! - Unless it's a book I've had on hold.

So what are you reading? Leave me a link!

17 October, 2010

Love is the Higher Law

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

I know I read a review of this somewhere, but I'm not sure where! So whoever it was, can I just say thank you!

Love is the Higher Law is set on the day of and the days just after September 11.  It focuses on 3 New York teens who are loosely connected and their reactions to the attacks. While none of them lose anyone in the attacks, they are still strongly affected.

It's not a long book , just over 160 pages and only took me 2-3 hours to read, but it packs a punch. I can remember waking up and watching the news in disbelief. I was just pregnant with my first child and I wondered what kind of world I was bring them into. At work, the normal classroom routine was blown out of the water as we tried the best we could to explain to the kids what had happened and why. A friend who is American by birth was trying to describe exactly how tall the twin towers were, again, something we struggled to comprehend. Even now, when someone says 9/11 you automatically think of that day. If it has had that kind of effect on me, I can't imagine what it would be like for someone who calls New York home.

The opening chapter of the book really got me thinking. Clare is at school and her brother at the elementary school across the road. She goes to his classroom and ends up staying and helping his teacher. Parents arrive to collect their children and eventually there is a handful of kids left. It occurred to me how difficult it would have been to be a teacher in one of the schools near Ground Zero. Where are these kids parents? Are they simply having trouble getting through or is it something much worse? As a teacher you would most probably have a general idea of what the parents did. Did they work in the Twin Towers, or near by? Suddenly you are in charge of a group of children and you don't know if their parents are coming for them or not. It would have been horrendous!

In all for me, this book gave me an insight into how 9/11 would have affected some people. How the whole of New York had to find a new way of being, a way of keeping going, of continuing to live in the face of so much death,.

I think about the posters, how they went in a matter of days from poster of the missing to posters of the missed. Eventually they were taken down. Gone is not forgotten, but our lives cannot be a memorial. This city  cannot be a memorial. This city has to be a city. Our lives have to be our lives.

16 October, 2010

Salvation Creek

Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan

At 44 Susan Duncan was doing well. She was a well known journalist now editing two top Australian magazines, a happy marriage and good health. But when tragedy struck, it struck hard. In the space of 3 days she lost not only her brother to cancer, but her husband to the same insidious disease. She tried to go on, go back to work, hold it all together, but found she couldn't. She quit her job and set out looking for a place in which she would find peace.

Her search led to many places, but none fit. And then she attended a friend's birthday in Pittwater, an area of Sydney largely accessible only by boat. Later she returned here and made it her home.

Duncan still struggled with what had happened. She attempted to return to work, but found she had to quit again when diagnosed with breast cancer. Salvation Creek is her story of struggle and acceptance, of surviving cancer and finding love again.

For me reading about the community around Pittwater was so familiar - it sounds exactly like the island where I live! Close to a city but accessible only by boat. That slight isolation makes for a strong community, freedom for kids and a friendliness I think is hard to find in today's society. I found myself nodding at several passages and thinking "Uh ha, that's it exactly! That is why we live here." A perfect example is a conversation she has with a mother of two kids who live at
Scotland Island.

"Ever get you down? Wear you out"
"Nah. Love it. Kids grow up fast here, but the right way. They learn about swimming, fishing, boats and exploring  before shopping malls and video games."
"Don't you ever long to be able to drive the shopping to your front door?"
"Well, if I could do that, I probably wouldn't have a beach at the bottom of the garden, where the kids can swim all summer. I wouldn't live on an island where they can run wild. I'd rather have the beach and the freedom."
For me, that perfectly sums up what island living is about.

There were times in the book where I thought she would just toughen up a bit. She is in a relationship she is not happy with, doesn't want, but won't break it off, but at the same time I admire the guts it took to quit her job (multiple times!) because it was what was best for her at the time.

On the whole, I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed reading about someone who got the whole island thing. Well worth the read!

14 October, 2010

The Book of Illusions

The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster

I read this for my October book group.

I've never read Paul Auster before, although now that I have read this, I see him every where!

In The Book of Illusions, David is trying to recover from the death of his wife and two sons in an accident six months ago. Not surprisingly, he is finding it tough going. One night he watches an old silent movie and finds himself laughing for the first time in a long time. He sets off to research the main actor in the movie, Hector Mann and ends up writing a book about him which sets off a chain of events destined to change him forever.

I always feel like a fraud reading books like this. I liked it, I enjoyed it, but I feel there is more to it that I just don't get. I'll go to book group with not a lot to say and sit and listen to the others come up with these wonderful deep insights and think "why did I not see that!" Having said that, I saw the ending coming and didn't want to finish.

Looking at the comments about this on good reads, I gather this is not Auster's best book. I must admit that has interested me in reading some of his other, earlier stuff.

11 October, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

What are you reading Monday  is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. Head over and check out what others are reading!
What I finished this week (click the links for my reviews)

PostSecret and The Secret Lives of Men and Women - Frank Warren

The Double Comfort Safari Club - Alexander McCall Smith

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

What I am reading now

The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster

From Goodreads:

Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in an airplane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then, watching television one night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost silent film by comedian Hector Mann. Zimmers interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure, who vanished from sight in 1929 and has been presumed dead for sixty years. When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmers mailbox bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico supposedly written by Hectors wife. Hector has read your book and would like to meet you. Are you interested in paying us a visit? Is the letter a hoax, or is Hector Mann still alive? Torn between doubt and belief, Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever.This stunning novel plunges the reader into a universe in which the comic and the tragic, the real and the imagined, the violent and the tender dissolve into one another. With The Book of Illusions, one of Americas most powerful and original writers has written his richest, most emotionally charged work yet.

What's next?
I'm working my way through my back log of library books. Book of Illusions needs to be read in time for book group, but I am finding I need to read a bit, then read something else.

So what are you reading? Leave me a link!

Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This is the second book in the Hunger Games series.

I've been looking forward to this since reading the Hunger Games, which I really enjoyed. Given how long it took me to get Hunger Games from the library, I was surprised at how quickly I got this!

I did enjoy Catching Fire. You kind of knew from the first one that it would have to focus on the beginning of a rebellion -  really it had no where else to go. However, I didn't find it as engaging as Hunger Games. The game itself wasn't as intense and there seemed to be a lot of sitting around. As I read I began to worry about the ending. I was running out of pages and I couldn't see how it would finish off in any satisfactory manner. I was right. I found the ending very abrupt and unsatisfying. It was like Collins had a page quota and had to finish in a hurry. I'm looking forward to Mockingjay though.

07 October, 2010

The Double Comfort Safari Club

The Double Comfort Safari Club - Alexander McCall Smith

As I mentioned before, I love this series. It's one series I have read that has gone on for this long (this is No 11) and not   jumped the shark. (I learnt that phrase the other day and love it!)

Double Comfort once again sees lots of lovely Botswana advice dispensed with the calm and sensitivity by Mma Ramotswe. A beneficiary needs to be found, whether or not a husband or wife is cheating needs to be established and a bossy, rude aunt needs to be dealt with.

What I do find interesting though, is my inability to read any other Alexander McCall Smith books. I've tried to read his other series' , and there are a few. For some reason, I feel disloyal to the No 1 Ladies Detectives when I read his other stuff. Maybe one day when the series is finished I will be able to give my full attention to the others. In the meantime, Mma Ramotswe, Mr J. L. B. Matakoni, Mma Makutsi, Phuti Radiphuti and those 2 lazy apprentices remain No 1 in my heart!

06 October, 2010

Post Secret and The Secret Lives of Men and Women

 PostSecret by Frank Warren

The Secret Lives of Men and Women by Frank Warren

In November 2004, Frank Warren printed 3000 self-addressed postcards with the following information on them


You are invited to anonymously contributer a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never share it with anyone before.

The postcards he got back he scanned and placed on a website - www.postsecret.com. After a few weeks, he stopped distributing postcards, but they kept coming. Now every Sunday, Frank posts a selection on the website.

I've followed the website for about two years now. I can't remember how I found out about it, but it is truly a highlight of my week. Over th years, several books of secrets have been published and this is two of them.

I don't think there is a secret in the books that didn't touch me somehow - whether it made me laugh, cry or squirm. Below are some of the secrets shared

I believe that one day I will like myself.

When I was 3 my dad liked me to brush his thick red hair. One dya he asked and I said I didn't want to. I never saw him again - he went away and then he died...I am 65 and some days I  still think it was my fault.

I thought you were a good lover. Now I know better...

I love to pee when I'm swimmng

Every year on June 4th I slow dance alone to the same song...while pretending to hold the baby I miscarried.

Every time I'm alone in an elevator I take the opportunity to pass gass, pick my nose and adjust my bra.

And my favourite

Dear Frank,
I have made six postcards all with secrets that I was afraid to tell the one person I tell everything to, my boyfriend. This morning I planned to mail them, but instead I left them on the pillow next to his head while he was sleeping. Ten minutes ago he arrived at my office and asked me to marry him. I said yes.  

04 October, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

What are you reading Monday  is hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. Head over and check out what others are reading!
What I finished this week (click the links for my reviews)

A Taste for It - Monica McInerney My first ever completed audio book! Unlikely to be my last!

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - I'd never read this before! So glad I have now, what a brilliant book!

The Aloha Quilt - Jennifer Chiaverini -  a request made at the library in July that finally came in!

What I am reading now

The Double Comfort Safari Lodge - Alexander McCall Smith.

From Goodreads:

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are called to a safari lodge in Botswana's Okavango Delta to carry out a delicate mission on behalf of a former guest.

The Okavango makes Precious appreciate once again the beauty of her homeland: it is a paradise of teeming wildlife, majestic grasslands and sparkling water.

However, it is also home to rival safari operators, fearsome crocodiles and disgruntled hippopotamuses. What's more, Mma Makutsi still does not have a date for her wedding to Phuti Radiphuti and is feeling rather tetchy herself.

But Precious knows that with a little patience, just as the wide river will gently make its way round any obstacle, so will everything work out for the best in the end . . .
I love this series! Reading about Precious Ramotswe is like sitting down to a cup of tea with an old friend!

What's next?
So many choices! I currently have 15 books out from the library that I need to get through, plus I need to start our next book group book, The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster.

So what are you reading? Leave me a link!

02 October, 2010

The Aloha Quilt

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

This is the 16th book in the Elm Creek Quilts series.

I reviewed the 15th book back in July! It's taken that long for the one copy my local library has to get to me!

The Aloha Quilt sees one of the Elm Creek Quilter's, Bonnie, travel to Hawaii to help her friend Clare set up a quilt camp there.

Poor old Bonnie has had a bit of a hard time of it really. Her fabric shop, Grandma's Attic, has had to close for several reasons, her marriage is over and she is really a bit of a doormat for everyone. To tell you the truth, she has never been one of my favourite characters. Judgmental of others, but unwilling or unable to see her own faults, I find her very insipid and weak. The Aloha Quilt allowed her to grow and become a little more fleshed out. She learns to stand up for herself and discovers things are not always as they seem. I was quite happy with the outcome actually!

As always, but taking the main action away from Elm Creek, Chiaverini has managed to keep the series from becoming boring and repetitive. With this she also managed to fit in a bit of Hawaiian history as well. A great read for fans of the series.

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

OK, dirty little secret time. I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird! (hides in shame) I think I tried to once a long, long time ago (say, about 14 -15) and didn't get far. Any way it is one of my friend's all time favourite books and so with all the stuff about banned book week around, I decided to do it.

Wow! How have I not read this before?? I will admit I'm not a big fan of classics - old or modern. I struggled through Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations and have an active dislike for Catcher in the Rye and have never managed to finish Lord of the Flies. But this? This was amazing! I totally get why this is considered such a classic. Lee's snapshot of a an American country town during the 1930's is so well crafted you can almost believe you are there, running past the Radley house, playing with Scout, Jem and Dill, holding your breath in the court room and fearing the outcome. To tell you the truth, it has opened my eyes to the possibility that not all "classics" are beyond my reach. So to anyone who has also read this (and if you haven't, you should! Really, go now and do it!!) what other classics would you recommend to me??

A Taste For It

A Taste For It by Monica McInerney

So I'm not a big fan of audio books. There is usually too much going on in my house to listen to them while I cook or clean and I can't just sit and listen - my mind wanders. Anyway, the audio book of this came through the returns chute at work (I'm telling you, working check in is dangerous!)and I thought I would have a go at listening to it in the car on the way to work after dropping the kids off and on the way back to pick them up.

I'm pleased to say I enjoyed it. I listened, wasn't distracted and often turned it off with disappointment when I got to the kids. My only problem is that instead of listening to the radio I was listening to this. I often listen to the ABC (public radio station in Australia) in the car and it's often my only source of news and current events. I did feel very out of touch while I listened to my book. I will get another one, but it will have to be something I'm willing to sacrifice my radio time for.

Now, onto the book review! McInerney writes chick lit. I don't mind chick lit. I quite often find it a light fluffy read without having to think. The thing I like about McInerney's books is that they are well written and I don't feel like I have read them all before. Yes, they are predictable - girl meets boy, girl and boy are attracted but something happens to stop them getting together, crisis happens, girl and boy end up together - but at times you need predictable! And she's Australian!