31 December, 2010

Ten Thousand Sorrows

This will be my final review for 2010! Wow. I've had a great year blogging about my reading and have enjoyed the chance to share my thoughts with others. Finding other book blogs has been an absolute revelation and has enhanced my choice of books so much. Thank you for visiting my blog in 2010. I'm looking at changing a few things in 2011 and hope you are willing to continue to ride along with me!

Ten Thousand Sorrows by Elizabeth Kim

I borrowed this from the library on a client recommendation. She said it would touch my heart and it did.

At a young age, Elizabeth hid in a basket and watched as her grandfather and uncle hung her Korean mother. Her crime?
Sleeping with an American soldier and having a mixed race baby. Considered worthless, she was abandoned at a Christian orphanage where the staff were told "she has no name,...I don't know her birth date or how old she is. She's nobody."
She was confined to a small cage like crib and given no comfort at all. Eventually she was adopted by an American couple who were evangelical Christians . On her second day in their house she woke from her nap and was violently ill on the sofa, vomiting worms all over the cushions. She was shouted at for it and called an animal. For years afterwards Elizabeth's mum would recount the event to anyone who would listen saying she couldn't understand why she chose the sofa to be ill on rather than going to the bathroom. She also stated when they first got Elizabeth she was "just like an animal." And this is the environment Elizabeth grew up in.

Ten Thousand Sorrows recounts Elizabeth's life. Her abusive marriage and her search for something to hold onto in this world. Constantly told she was ugly and worthless, she believed this to be true and could never understand how someone would think differently. Anyone who said she pretty and nice obviously was lying or had a hidden agenda. While the birth of her daughter gave her the impetus to leave the marriage and gave her a reason to live, it took a long time for her to come to a place where she liked herself and felt worthy of that love.

Ten Thousand Sorrows is powerful, but easy to read. Elizabeth Kim tells her story simply as a matter of fact. Her journey shows incredible courage and the power of forgiveness.

29 December, 2010

The Complete Peanuts: 1953 - 1954

The Complete Peanuts: 1953 - 1954 by Charles Schulz

I love Peanuts. I'm really enjoying watching how this evolved over the years. July 1954 saw the introduction of Pig-Pen and May saw the introduction of Linus' blanket.

I also thought there was only 3 books in this series because that was all I saw on the shelves at work. Silly me. A little extra research show there are 14!! Yay!!!

28 December, 2010

The Burning Bridge

The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

I love holidays! Lots and lots of reading!!

This is the second book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. I reviewed the first one, Ruins of Gorlan here.

My biggest disappointment with this book is that I didn't think to borrow number 3 before the library closed for the week between Christmas and new year!

Burning Bridge see's Will set off Gilan and Horace on a mission to Celtica. As Araluen prepares for war against Morgarath, they are tasked with seeking the support of King Swyddned of the Celts. However the villages in Celtica have been deserted and a meeting with a starving girl called Evanlyn lets them know that Morgarath have been enslaving the Celts. As the party discovers Morgarath's true plans, it may be up to them to turn the tide before it's too late.

Once again I was highly impressed with Flanagan's writing. Too often I find fantasy books aimed at young adults/ older children simplistic and disappointing. Flanagan manages to walk the fine line of not making it too complicated while not having the characters solve what appears to be difficult and dangerous problems with ease. Each book is finished, there is a resolution to the main problem in the book (in this case the impending invasion from Morgarath) but there is a clear path to the next book. I look forward to when my son is old enough to read this, I think he will really enjoy it. I would recommend it for a confident 10 year old reader, or a 12+.

26 December, 2010

Jessie Mei Mei

Jessie Mei Mei by Sharon Guest and Stuart Neal

Heart wrenching. It's the only words I can find to truly express this book.

Unable to conceive naturally, Sharon Guest and Stuart Neal chose overseas adoption. What they encountered was a system that seemed bent on convincing you it was a bad idea.

Adoption in Australia is controlled by the Department of Child Safety, better known as DoCS.  The process for being approved for overseas adoption consisted of 2 one day seminars where they told you everything that could go wrong and five interviews. 7 days of contact which took 2 years to do.

Finally Sharon and Stuart were successful and they were able to adopt Jia-Mei from China. They were ecstatic. From early on it was clear to Sharon there was something wrong with Jia-Mei, who eventually became known as Jessie Mei Mei. Stuart thought it was simply adoption trauma.

Eventually they were given a diagnosis of autism, but there was more to come.

As she got older, Jessie's behaviour became harder and harder to deal with. Sharon and Stuart were getting on average 2 - 3 hours sleep a night and Jessie was very challenging to care for. They looked for some respite services only to find none. Eventually they called on the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care for help only to be told there was nothing they could do except report them to DoCS. Once they were reported, DoCS would be able to access their support services for Jessie. So that's what happened. Two loving parents at their wits end had to be reported to child services in order to access help.

I'll stop there because to go further would be to tell the whole book. However I will say it was terrible and a sad indictment of how our system works.

I won't say I enjoyed reading Jessie Mei Mei. Books like this are rarely enjoyable, but it was a great read. I admire parents who can tell a story like this openly and honestly, admitting to what seems that ultimate shame when you are a parent - admitting you are not coping and need help.

25 December, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Day 12: My Book of 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I hope this Christmas morning finds you surrounded by loved ones and a pile of good books!! 

Today is the last day of my 12 Days of Christmas post. Once again, huge thanks go to Carly for not only coming up with the idea but allowing me to jump on her band wagon. I've had a great time.

So, drum roll please!!

My book of 2010 is

I'd love to give you some deep analysis of why I chose it, but all I can say is it felt right. For some reason this book had an impact on me and it will be one I measure all of Wally Lamb's stuff against.

24 December, 2010

Australian Picture Book Authors and Illustrators Review 2011

Australia has such a wealth of talent when it comes to children's picture book authors and illustrators. I plan to celebrate this in 2011 by concentrating on one author and/ or illustrator a month. I'll look at a all or a selection of their picture books and explore why myself and my kids love these books so much. Here are the authors and illustrators I plan to explore and the month I intend to concentrate on. 

January  - Graeme Base                                      July - Margaret Wild

February - Jeannie Baker                                    August - Bob Graham

March - Alison Lester                                         September - Julie Vivas

April - Mem Fox                                                  October - Pamela Allen

May - Jackie French                                            November - Patricia Mullins

June - Shaun Tan                                                 December - Bruce Whatley

Each month I will post a list of the books I plan to look at. I will then either review them one by one or over a few posts. Not sure yet! This list is also available as a separate page from my blog header that will be updated regularly as well.

12 Days of Christmas Day 11: 2 Best Book Group Books of 2010

I love my Book Group. It's a wonderful group of ladies who love to get together to discuss books and wider events. We have read so many wonderful books this year, but these are my two favourites.

 Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara

This was way back at the beginning of the year. It was our January book. It looks at an aboriginal mission in the 60's. Told with a lot of humour, it didn't fail to get across how horrifically some white Australians treated our indigenous population.
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

I've said a few times that this book is the best fantasy I have read in along time and I'm willing to say it again. If you have become disillusioned with fantasy fiction, give this a go, it may just change your mind.

Trouble All The Way

Trouble All the Way by Sonya Hartnett.

I can't show you the cover or provide a link to this book because there isn't one! I had trouble tracking down a copy at all and have the Interlibrary Loan system at work to thank for locating a copy for me. As I have mentioned before, Sonya Hartnett is a well known Australian YA author. She has also written some adult novels.

Trouble all the Way was published in 1984 when Hartnett was a mere 16 year old. The photo of her on the back of the jacket is her school photo!

Trouble all the Way is rough. It lacks polish and smoothness and if placed in front of you as a piece of writing you would most probably be able to pick it as the writing of a teen. But, the promise is there. The hint of Hartnett's true depths are visible and waiting to come out. Trouble all the Way while not brilliant, was worthy of publication and well and truly marked Hartnett as an author to watch.

At Home

 At Home by Bill Bryson

I stalled on this half way through, but managed to finish it in the end. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, it's just that I was on a deadline because it was a reduced loans period from the library (2 weeks instead of 4) and I needed to get it back before we closed from the Christmas break. I think if I'd had it for 4 weeks and hadn't felt so rushed it would have been better.

Touted as a history of the house and how each room came into being and how it has changed over history, At Home is a look at history from the rooms of your house. And at the beginning of each chapter, he does look at the room he is in, whether it be the lounge, the dining room, the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. But from each he branches out into wider ranging issues such as architecture, electricity, food preparation and disease.

In the end, I feel the book was worth the read. It was an interesting read and I enjoyed it, I just wish I hadn't been so rushed!

23 December, 2010

12 Days of Chistmas Day 10: 3 Challenges I plan to take part in 2011

Day 10!! OMG!!! 2 more sleeps until Christmas! Last night I wrapped all of the presents, husband will take the kids today and do the last of the shopping while I work and we will be set. I've never been this organised before.

This year I only took part in one challenge, which was the 100+ reading challenge over at Home Girl's. It was fun and an easy one to keep track of. This year I am spreading my wings a bit further!

Hosted by Bart over at Bart's Bookshelf this challenge gets you to read 1-2 books from 11 different categories. Looking forward to this forcing me to stretch my reading horizons!

Hosted by Becky who has a few blogs (see the side bar on the right on her A to Z Challenge Page), this challenge has three levels. Alphabetically by author - 26 books, alphabetically by title - 26 books or alphabetically by author and title - 52 books. I've taken the 52 challenge!

Hosted by Nic over at Irresistible Reads, this one is pure self indulgence for me. I love YA and I love Aussie YA authors! Must be the teacher librarian in me! I'm going for 12, but am sure I will go way beyond that. I plan to start my list with the Children's Book Council 2010 shortlist for Young Adults 2010 . When the 2011 short list is released I'll add those.

I'm also thinking of joining a library challenge, but don't want to sign up for too much. What challenges are you taking on in 2011?

Don't forget to check out Carly's 12 Days of Christmas at Writing From the Thumb  and Keris Stainton at Della Says: OMG!

22 December, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Day 9: 4 Books I Struggled With

Good morning! Do you like my new blog design and name? I named it, IT expert husband designed it. I looooooooooove my husband! :)
Anyways, day 9. There were a few books I struggled with this year for one reason or another. Most I put down, but these few I continued with and am glad I did.

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

I think I struggled with this because it wasn't about what I thought it was about. I thought it was about 9/11, but it was so much more! Once I got over that, I really started to enjoy it. I'm glad I did, because it lead to me reading She's Come Undone and add Wally Lamb to my list of authors to read more of.

The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This was read for book group and while I enjoyed it, I did struggle with it. I think the issue was it was the third Book Group book in a row that dealt with colonisation and the not so good parts. I'd like to read it again sometime.

 Push by Sapphire

The bad grammar and spelling (both absolutely necessary) in this book made it hard going to start with. The content, the horrible situation of Precious' life made it even more difficult. Well worth the effort though.

At Home by Bill Bryson

I still have about 30-40 pages of this to go which I will read tonight so I can return it tomorrow so the poor person next on the list has half a chance of getting it before the break! While quite interesting, I lost momentum half way through and had to take a break. I'm now powering towards the end!

Don't forget to check out Carly's 12 Days of Christmas at Writing From the Thumb  and Keris Stainton at Della Says: OMG!

21 December, 2010

Time for a change!

My wonderful, gorgeous, brilliant husband designed this new blog for me! Do you like it?? I love it!

The name comes from a quote by Ursula K Le Guin. It's something a bit different, not as boring as Kylie's Reads. I'll keep the url the same for the moment although it may change later! Yay!!

12 Days of Christmas Day 8: 5 Authors I want to read more of.

Today I'm going to look at 5 authors I would like to read more of. Apart from Phillipa Gregory, I read books by all these authors this year which has only whet my appetite for more!

Kazou Ishigaru

This year I read Never Let Me Go and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ishigaru's writing was gorgeous and the story he told absorbing. I'm looking at recommending one of his others for my book group.

Wally Lamb

This year I read The Hour I First Believed and She's Come Undone. I enjoyed both but found the first half to 3/4 of The Hour I First Believed hard going. She's Come Undone sung to me and is the reason I will read more of his stuff.

Tim Winton

Anyone who has read this blog will know that Tim Winton is a firm favourite of mine. His writing is so beautiful. I will often pick up one of his books and just read a paragraph or two. This year I read or listened to Shallows, Scission and Minimum of Two. I aim to read the rest in 2011.

Sonya Hartnett

Sonya Hartnett is best known as a young adult author although she has also written for adults. This year I read Sleeping Dogs and Of a Boy. Of a Boy is the first of her adult writing I have read. I didn't enjoy it as much as her YA stuff. Looking forward to exploring her work further.

Phillipa Gregory

This is the only author on my list that I haven't read any of in 2010. I have previously read The Other Boleyn Girl and enjoyed it.

So are there any authors you're going to check out in 2011? Let me know who, I may need to add them to my list!

Also don't forget to check out Carly's 12 Days of Christmas at Writing From the Thumb  and Keris Stainton at Della Says: OMG!

12 Days of Christmas Day 7: 6 Blogs I discovered in 2010

Hey day 7 before I missed a post! That's pretty good for me. Just means you get double to joy today.

Carly over at Writing From the Tub, did 6 new authors for her day 7. I decided to do 6 new blogs.

 Eating YA Books 

This blog is written by Jan and I credit it with reinvigorating my love of YA books. I love the reviews, competitions - everything!

Look at my Happy Rainbow

In a former life I was a teacher. In fact, I love teaching, but moving states as proved a harder transition in terms of my career than I thought it would be. Mr H over at Look at my Happy Rainbow is that rare creature - the male kindergarten teacher. And he is fantastic at it - evident if by nothing else than the amount of hugs he gets. I would move to America if I could guarantee my child would have Mr H as her teacher!


Heather Armstrong is hilarious. She writes about everything - husband, kids, dogs, family, friends. Nothing is sacred. Be prepared for poop, farts, vomit, cooking, renovations, child melt downs, adult melt downs, post natal depression, joys of parenthood - everything!

Bedtime is for Suckers

My introduction to this blog was this post - Why I Think all Mommy Blogs are Bullshit - that was it, I was hooked! I read a fair few mummy blogs and I love them. But this one, is fantastic. Well worth a read for a laugh and those moments you know you aren't the one in control in your house!


Another kindergarten teacher who writes about her kids. (just so you know, teachers do call your kids their kids as well for a year. The good ones love and care for them almost as much as you do and we invest a lot in them for that year!) She also writes about her own kids Sassy and Bitchy and a boy whose nickname I can't remember!


In November 2004 Frank Warren invited 3000 people to share a secret and post it to him. The original 3000 were on post cards printed by Warren. After a few weeks, he stopped distributing the cards, but the secrets kept coming. Now every Sunday, Frank posts a selection of secrets on PostSecret. He also gives talks and presentations around America where the audience is invited to share secrets if they wish. Sometimes this site makes me cry, sometimes it makes me laugh. It always makes me think

Don't forget to pop over to Writing From the Thumb to check out Carly's 12 Days of Christmas. Keris Stainton at Della Says: OMG! has a version too! Check them out!

20 December, 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!

Christmas is nearly here and as it gets closer my life gets crazier! Anyway this is the state of my reading at the moment.

What I finished since I last participated.

Minimum of Two - Tim Winton

Never Let Me Go -  Kazuo Ishiguro

What I am reading now?

I'm desperately trying to finish At Home by Bill Bryson. It was due back at the library on Friday and I had planned to get it finished over the weekend, but it didn't happen! Need to get it finished ASAP as I know there is someone waiting for it and I hate it when people keep items like that longer than they should!

What's next?

I'm stocking up for the break, although I feel the break will be nowhere long enough to read all that I have! 

So what are you reading?


19 December, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Day 6: 7 Series' I Read in 2010

So I'm being a bit liberal here and listing 7 series I read or read part of in 2010. I do plan to read the complete series with each of these, so I figure that counts, right?

 I read this whole series in 2010. Number 17 comes out next year - I can't wait!
I read the 2 most recent of these in 2010. I love this series. Mma Ramotswe is one of the world's great detective characters!

I read the first of these in 2010 and have started the second. One of the most original fantasy fictions I have read in a long time. Looking forward to finishing it in 2011.

I was a late comer to this series but once I got there I became a true convert. I've read all three this year and can see me doing so again next year! Better buy my own copies then!

Everyone loves Peanuts! I read the first of these this year and have the next two borrowed from the library for the holidays. This series has 14 volumes in total. 14 books of Peanuts - Good grief, Charlie Brown!

I've been aware of this series for awhile. I even bought the first few for the school library when I was a teacher librarian. I've read the first one of these and found it incredibly enjoyable. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series in 2011.

Another fantastic series I came to late in the year. I've read Shiver, am waiting for linger to come into the library. Forever will be released next year. I'm fairly sure I will end up buying this series as well.

Oh and please leave a comment. Those montages took me ages and I'd love to know someone else has seen them! Thanks. :)

Don't forget to pop over to Writing From the Thumb to check out Carly's 12 Days of Christmas. Keris Stainton at Della Says: OMG! has a version too! Check them out!

18 December, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Day 5: 8 Favourite covers

I've had a huge day with my 8 and 5 year old at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary so todays 12 Days of Christmas - 8 favourite covers is going to be done wordless weekend style. Pics, no comments. Click on the titles for a link to my reviews of each book.

 The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Make sure you check out Carly over at Writing From the Thumb and Keris at  Della Says: OMG! to see where they are at with their 12 days of Christmas.

17 December, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Day 4: 9 Books I missed in 2010

This one was easy! All I had to do was check my list of Books from Other Blogs list! So here is my picks from that list.

OK, so this one isn't on my list, but I did miss out on it! I came to the whole Maggie Stiefvater thing late in the year. I'm on the request list for this at the library, but I there are too many people in front of me to even contemplate getting it before new years.

I first saw this on Book Journey. The whole idea sounds intriguing to me. 

Life in the Thumb's six sentence review of this tore at my heart. I can only imagine the anguish that goes with a decision such as this. It's a must read for me in 2011.

I love elephants! This recommendation came from All Booked Up.

I loved The Time Traveler's Wife. This is one of the first books I put on my list. It's on my Kindle ready to go. Next year I promise!

A recommendation from the brains behind the twelve days of Christmas - Carly at Writing From the Thumb!

I know people who have hording tendancies - nothing this bad though. I do dread cleaning out my in laws house when the die. My mother in law hates throwing anything out! This came from So Many Books, So Little Time. (never a truer word typed I feel!)

I consider myself fortunate to never have been in a position where I thought things were so bad suicide was the way out. Unfortunately like most people, I have lost family and friends who did get to that point. I also get the feeling that this book deals with the whole issue of peer pressure and bullying in the electronic world - something my children will have to learn to deal with and so will I. This review came via Bippity Boppity Book.

I don't remember reading a review of this during the year, but I love Kathy Reichs. This is another on my Kindle ready to go!

Don't forget to pop over to Writing From the Thumb to check out Carly's 12 Days of Christmas. Keris Stainton at Della Says: OMG! has a version too! Check them out!

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Told by 31 year old Kathy as she comes to the end of her life as a carer, Never Let Me Go tells the stories of a special group of friends, bought into the world for a special purpose. From their days at Hailsham School, through to the fulfillment of their purpose, Never Let Me Go explores friendship and how a shared past can help shape the person you end up being.

I had read several reviews of Ishiguro's books and thought they sounded interesting. I picked this up off the shelves at work one day and borrowed it out. It sat on the shelf awhile before I picked it up again.

What I discovered was a beautifully written story. Kathy's voice was very natural to me. Her exploration of her upbringing and friendships were heartfelt and moving. The slow realisation of what their purpose was lead to the suspense of the novel and once it was revealed, I was both horrified and fascinated.

I will definitely be reading more of Ishiguro's work. In fact I plan to choose one of his books for my next book group selection.

Minimum of Two

Minimum of Two - Tim Winton

Love, love, love Tim Winton! I've always thought it would be great to hear a Tim Winton book read out loud so when I discovered the library had this on audio book, I had to get it.

And I was right. Winton's style of writing lends itself beautifully to being read out loud, although I wasn't thrilled with the voice of the narrator. At times he just seemed to get the tone wrong. However, Winton's stories over-rode that small annoyance.

Minimum of Two is a collection of short stories, although the majority of the surround the story of Jerra, Rachel and Sam. The last story in the book which was based around Sam's traumatic birth was incredibly powerful and moving.

My pick of the stories though is the one that lent it's name to the title of the book: Minimum of Two. This was the story of a husband trying to deal with the rape of his wife. As I listened, I realised how wrong the husband had got it. That the rape and how the release of the man convicted of it was not about him - the husband. He totally failed to see it was about his wife and while he had been affected by the event, it had not happened to him and what he did in order to "make it better" did in fact, make it a lot worse.

I have said before that Winton is my favourite author. The fact he is Australian is even better. I highly recommend his books to anyone, although if you a little wary of bizzare stories, go for one of his later books such as Breath or Dirt Music.

16 December, 2010

Miss Page-Turner's Book Giveaway!


Click here to pop over To Miss Page-Turner's City of Books to enter her fabulous INTERNATIONAL giveaway!!

On offer is one of these six books

My choice?? Hmmm, not sure, but either Delirium by Lauren Oliver or Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal.