My name is Why by Lemn Sissay

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

42123247

The above title is both the name of a book and the name of an event, featuring the author, that I attended a few days ago. Lemn Sissay’s story about his life as a foster child and in institutional care in England, is a dreadful story about the failures of the care system in the UK.

Lemn has devoted his life, since turning eighteen and leaving care, to finding out the truth about his life, and why he was placed into care. He has spent his life trying to right the wrongs of his life, by fighting to get his records, and fighting for acknowledgement of the many wrongs that were done to him.

My Name is Why is the record of those files, which show the truth about Lemn Sissay’s life, from birth to age 18. When he first read these files, he found out his real name. He also found out that while he had spent is life until age 12, in the care of uncaring foster parents, and after age 12 in institutions, his mother had been writng to the authorities and pleading for him to be returned to her. She had been doing this since shortly after his birth.

Lemn Sissay is one of England’s best loved poets. His presentation and performance on stage is very powerful and very moving. But at times he is also very very funny. His humour also comes through in his writing.

Here’s a quote that I love  from Lemn Sissay’s performance: Family is a collection of disputed memories between one group of people over a liftime.

Unsurprisingly My Name is Why hot number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Well deserved.

My Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The first video below shows Lemn Sissay talking to an audience about his life. The second video shows him performing his poem called Suitcases and Muddy Parks.. This poem almost reduced me to tears.

Huge thanks to the  Bendigo Writers Festival for bringing Lemn Sissay to our city, both for the event this week and for the Bendigo Writers Festival in 2018.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email address in the box on the sidebar. This will ensure you are notified of updates.

Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads

Cover image: Goodreads

The Way Home by Mark Boyle

The Way Home: Tales of a life without technology

Summary

It was 11pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be the last time.

No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.

In this book, Mark tells of his experience of living totally off the grid, and being fully self reliant in this modern world. We are with him as he builds his house with just his bare hands, collects water from the stream, as there is no running water in his house. He learns to make a fire, and forages and fishes for his food.

As Mark goes about living his very basic life, where everything revolves around the sun and the seasons, he experiences what it is like to be human. He is totally reliant on himself for all his needs. But this lifestyle does bring up seemingly unsurmountable problems. For example, how does he write this book and present it to his publisher without the internet?

My Thoughts

As someone who has made the lifestyle decision to live off the grid, I was very keen to read this book. The difference between the author and ourselves as that we haven’t completely given up on the reliance for modern technology. We have solar power and rain water tanks but we do also have all the latest mod cons. Or most of them. For me, giving up our modern lifestyle completely, would be a step too far, even though I do understand how rewarding that type of lifestyle would be.

Mark Boyle’s writing is very refreshing. I felt like I was living his day to day struggles. This book is very honest and a great insight to what it would be like to give up on modern technology for a long period. I do suspect that very few of us could live the lifestyle that Mark chose, giving up modern technology, family and relationships. Most of us have family commitments and then there are medical issues to consider.

Mark Boyle deserves huge congratulations for carrying out his plan to live off the grid and without technology. He also deserves congratulations for this book.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Mark Boyle is a business graduate who lived completely without money for three years. He is a director of Streetbank, a charity which enables people around the world to share skills and resources with neighbours. He lives on a small parcel of land in Ireland.

Published in April 2019 by Oneworld Publications. Softcover 260 pages

My Top 5 Favourite Classics

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House

The story of Bleak House follows the legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, where the Jarndyce inheritance is gradually eaten away by legal costs. And then there is Esther Summerson, and the mystery of where she came from. This is one of the first English novels to feature a detective. As usual for a Charles Dickens novel, there is a huge cast of characters representing both the rich and the poor of London at the time. Bleak House is extremely atmospheric with it’s descriptions of London being enveloped by fog. This murder story comes to a climax with a thrilling chase led by the detective.

First published in 1853

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Frankenstein

This is the story of how science can go dangerously wrong, when a science student assembles a human from stolen body parts. But when he brings it to life, he is horrified to see the creatures hideousness. That creature lives a tormented life, lonely and isolated, until it turns to evil in order to get revenge over his creator.

I was a bit hesitant when my bookclub chose to read this book, as it held no interest for me at all. That is until I read it and loved it. I’ve since read it again and enjoyed it even more on the second read. There is much more than a horror story in Frankenstein. There is romance, sorrow, sadness, pity. And there is beautiful writing. Such beautiful writing, that evokes many emotions and feeling towards the creature that was created.

First Published in 1818

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

 

This is an unforgettable novel about a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis that almost destroyed the town and it’s people. The story is told by six year old Jean Louise Finch and is based on an event that happened close to the author’s home town when she was 10 years old. The story of To Kill a Mockingbird is dreadful, shocking, extremely sad, but also deeply moving and compassionate. There has been much written about this book over the years so there is really not much to say. Except that the story covers racism, prejudice, rape and other base human behaviours. But there is also the story of a father’s love for his family which is very touching.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” – To Kill A Mockingbird

First Published July 1960

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

1885

When marriage was the only option for a female, it was often necessary for her to conform to what society expected of her. Elizabeth Bennett definitely does not conform. This is a 19th century romance, but it is much, more than that. After reading Pride and Prejudice you will understand more about love and family life in the 1800s, and also  about the societal expectations of the times.  The verbal sparring between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is legendary, but I never tire of reading the words thrown out by both. I would classify this book as the best romantic comedy that I have ever read. Nothing else comes close.

First published January 28 1813.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights

This is the only novel written by Emily Bronte, who died in the year after it was first published, at the age of 30. Set in Yorkshire Wuthering Heights is the story of a love that is stronger than death, written in a unique and mystical way. There are characters who are unlikeable, being self centred, irrational, mean, malicious and worse, which to me, makes the story all the more absorbing. Wuthering Heights has become a classic of English Literature and in my opinion well deservedly so.

I found it incredibly difficult to write a review on books that over the years have become classics. What more could I possibly add to what has been said already?   All I have tried to do here is give a sense of the book and one or two of my thoughts.  This post is not a book review post, but quite simply a list of my favourite books.

I found it so hard to limit this list to five, and they are not listed in any particular order. There are so many classics that I love and occasionally re-read. But at the moment, these five novels are my favourite classics of all time.

Do you have a favourite classic? I’d love you to leave a comment and tell me about it. I promise to answer all comments.

Butterfly On A Pin by Alannah Hill

Butterfly on a Pin

Summary

A memoir of love, despair and re-invention

Alannah Hill, one of Australia’s most successful fashion designers, created an international fashion brand that defied trends with ornamental, sophisticated elegance, beads, bows and vintage florals.  But growing up in a milk bar in Tasmania, Alannah’s childhood was one of hardship, fear and abuse.  At an early age, she ran away from home, with eight suitcases of costumes and a fierce determination to succeed, haunted by her mother’s refrain “You’ll never amount to anything, you can’t sew, nobody likes you, and you’re going to end up in a shallow grave, dear!” – from the dustjacket

This memoir follows her journey, from run away to success to breakdown, and her reinvention of herself, as she once again heads towards success in the fickle fashion industry.

My Thoughts

My main reason for reading this book is that I remember seeing Alannah Hill, many times,  in the street, in Melbourne in the early days of her career. At the time she was very popular and had a chain of Alannah Hill shops. She always stood out in a crowd as she dressed in vintage florals, lots of lace and bows at a time that fashion was quite plain and boring.

I expected the book to be lightweight, fluff about fashion, and I really didn’t expect her to be an accomplished writer. Much to my surprise, from the first page I could tell that Alannah Hill could write.And she had something to say. I experienced many emotions as I read this book. I laughed and cried and felt very angry at her mother, while at the same time, feeling sad for her mother.  I found the book to be very moving and poignant.

Butterfly On A Pin is a very honest, compelling memoir. Alannah does not mince words and though her story is very, very sad at times, she manages to put a humorous slant on her experiences. Her story could be very depressing, but definitely is not.  Due to her writing skill, Hill manages to draw the reader into her world, as she shines a light on the fashion industry and her experiences. I found myself feeling very much in awe of her talent and for her forgiving nature.

Unflinching, funny, shocking, inspiring, and tender.  This is a story like no other
These words were written on the dustjacket.  I can only agree whole heartedly

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Alannah Hill is a designer, author and stylist.  For seventeen years, she was the founder and creative director of the brand Alannah Hill, one of Australia’s most iconic fashion houses.  In 2013, Alannah left her extremely well known brand, and in 2015, launched her new fashion brand, Louise Love.  Alannah lives in Melbourne, with her teenage son, and her beagle Jack.

Published in 2018 by Hardie Grant Books. Softcover 325 pages

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads

 

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester

Summary

How much will a young seamstress from Paris sacrifice to succeed in the male dominated world of 1940s fashion in New York?

In 1940, Estella Bissette, a seamstress was forced to escape from France, as the German’s are approaching. She headed to New York with just her sewing machine, a few francs and just one suitcase. Other than that, all she had was her dream to be successful in the fashion world.

Jump forward to 2015, and we read of Fabienne Bissette’s visits to an exhibition of her grandmother’s work. Her grandmother was one of the world’s leading ready-to-wear designers. As Fabienne learns about her grandmother’s past, she discovers that her life was about more than just fashion and designing. Stories of tragedy, heartbreak, love, secrets and sacrifices are uncovered.

“This is the story of the special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, as they attempt to heal the heartache of the past”

My Thoughts

This story is based on fact: some of the characters existed, as do some of the buildings which are central to the story. My favourite genre to read is historical fiction based on fact, particularly focusing on war history.  This book definitely did not let me down in any way.  The Paris Seamstress  is an emotional roller coaster ride, and very heart breaking, but at the same time the story and the characters are extremely courageous.

The main character,Estella,  is very strong willed, but absolutely believable. I have no interest at all in fashion, so I was a bit wary of this book at first. However the story lines about fashion were mainly concerning conservation and finding cheaper alternatives during the war years. Unexpectedly I was swept up into these story lines, and found them to be believable for the times.

I loved this book and would definitely like to read it again. I read it while on holidays, so fortunately had time to read it quickly.  It’s my opinion that this book is #unputdownable. The artistry on the front cover is incredibly beautiful which was what drew me to The Paris Seamstress  in the bookstore.

My Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

Natasha Lester

 

Natasha Lester is a USA Today, internationally best-selling author. Prior to writing, she worked as a marketing executive for L’Oreal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing.

Her first historical novel, the bestselling A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, was published in 2016. This was followed by Her Mother’s Secret in 2017 and The Paris Seamstress in 2018. The French Photographer is her latest book (note: this will be published as The Paris Orphan in North America in September 2019).

Natasha’s books have been published in the US, the UK, Australia and throughout Europe. She lives in Perth, Western Australia with her 3 children and loves travelling, Paris, vintage fashion and, of course, books – Goodreads

 

Published in 2018 by Hatchette Australia. Paperback 448 pages.

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge V: Voyage to Australia – Private Journal of James Bell

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Private Journal of James Bell
Edited by Richard Walsh with an introduction and epilogue by Anthony Laube

This book is the personal diary of James Bell, who took the long voyage to Australia in 1838, leaving his family and friends, and not knowing what to expect of the new country, so far away.

The story of how this diary came to be published is incredible.  Firstly, it’s very survival  is worthy of mentioning.  The original diary turned up at a country bookstall in England, 150 years after it was written, and The State Library of South Australia managed to raise the necessary funds to buy the diary at auction.

James Bell , aged 21, set out in the sailing vessel, the Planter, from St. Katharine Docks in London to travel to Adelaide, Australia, an infant colony, half a world away and not yet two years old. He left behind family, good friends and the mysterious C.P, a young woman with whom he hoped one day to be reunited.

The voyage that James Bell undertook was meant to take about 130 days, but due to the incompetence of the Captain, and many misadventures along the way, it actually took six months to arrive in Australia. The many unforeseen events and dramas that occurred along the way, made the voyage extremely difficult. There was a mutiny, drunken fights, orgies and a storm resulting in the loss of the ship’s sails.

It is obvious in reading his words, that James Bell has a great sense of adventure. He also has a love of poetry, great religious faith, and is very nostalgic about his memories of those he left behind.

More than a century after the diaries were written, the reader can’t help but be reminded of the dangers of such an adventurous voyage. I am also reminded how lucky we are, that adventurous people like him, and like my ancestors, were brave enough to take the long voyage to a land that at the time was little known.

An excerpt from the preface written by James Bell:

“The following is not merely an account of the Ships course, and a mere mention of the places passed during my voyage to South Australia, but a noting down from day to day of the thoughts and ideas that occupied my mind at the moment – and my reason for this was that I might bring my observation of the events, as well as manners, to be more directly upon my own conduct, and in this way correct any thing that might be amiss, as well as tending to the strengthening of those principles, with which my mind has been imbued, as I am convinced that this is the best way of fixing occurrences upon the memory” – James Bell

 My Thoughts

The story of how the diary came to be published had me intrigued. I couldn’t wait to get into this book and when I did, I found it hard to put it down.

I really enjoyed James Bell’s descriptions of the other passengers and his very detailed account of their comings and goings. He doesn’t hold back at all, in expressing his opinion of most of them.

My interest and passion for genealogy and Australian history also contributed to my enjoyment of this book. I’m not really sure if readers without those interests, would rate this book as highly as I do. Perhaps I am slightly biased towards the subject matter.

For those who decide to read A Voyage to Australia, I hope you enjoy this beautifully presented book, as much as I did.

The Epilogue

The epilogue traces the lives of many of the passengers after they reached Australia, with information of how they coped with life in the new, unknown country. There is also a passenger list with names of all passengers and crew.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Published by Allen & Unwin in 2011.
Hardcover with dustjacket – 202 pages including bibliography

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.

Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads

img_7712-1

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

#AtoZChallenge S is for Stasiland by Anna Funder

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Stories from behind the Berlin Wall.

Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, East Germany ceased to exist, after the reunification of East and West Germany.  In Stasiland, Anna Funder tells the amazing tales of what life had been like in the former East Germany.

Anna Funder was working in Berlin, when she became interested in the fall of the Berlin Wall. She placed an advertisement in the newspapers, inviting people to be interviewed by her, about their experiences at the time. As a result, Funder met with both ordinary people, trying to survive, and members and ex members of the Stasi. The stories they told were truly intriguing and shocking.

“In this land
I have made myself sick with silence
In this land
I have wandered, lost
In this land
I hunkered down to see
What will become of me.
In this land
I held myself tight
So as not to scream.
-But I did scream, so loud
That this land howled back at me
As hideously
As it builds its houses.
In this land
I have been sown
Only my head sticks
Defiant, out of the earth
But one day it too will be mown
Making me, finally
Of this land.
-Charlie’s poem”
Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

 

‘’Peter Fechter, the eighteen-year- old shot trying to escape in 1962 and left to die on the death strip, because each side thought the other would retaliate if they went to help him. Someone has thrown him a roll of bandages, but he lies immobile and bleeding.’’ – Stasiland

My Thoughts

I am a fan of Anna Funder’s novels, but her writing and the subject matter of Stasiland, touched me to the core. The stories in Stasiland read more like fiction, but because they are true, the harrowing nature of the stories some had to tell, are both horrifying and unimaginable.  This is a book I will definitely read again, but it had such a huge affect on me that I need a little space between the first and second reading.

Stasiland is extremely powerful writing at it’s best. I found it was like a punch to the stomach to read about the suffering that should never have happened. Anna Funder does not mince words at all. She tells it as it was, as  she takes us to the falling of the wall, which is earth shattering and very real to the reader.  The consequences of the fall and subsequent stories we read about the people who were living behind the wall at the time, are unforgettable.

Even though the subject matter is very heavy and dark and extremely sad, there are also many funny and bizarre moments to balance out the darkness. and unhappiness.

Recommendation

‘Anna Funder explores, in the most humane and sensitive way, lives blighted by the East German Stasi. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and finds—to her dismay and ours—that they have learned nothing.’
— J. M. Coetzee, author

‘Stasiland is a brilliant account of the passionate search for a brutal history in the process of being lost, forgotten and destroyed. It is a masterpiece of investigative analysis, written almost like a novel, with a perfect mix of compassion and distance.’
– Elena Lappin, Sunday Times

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Anna Funder

 

Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer for the Australian Government, focusing on human rights and constitutional law. She grew up in Melbourne and Paris and now lives in Sydney with her family.

Published in 2004 by Granta Books.
Paperback, 288 pages


Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads
#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

Images: Goodreads

#AtoZChallenge R is for Ransacking Paris by Patti Miller

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter R

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Patti Miller was a mother of adult boys, when she arrived in Paris,  where she intended to write for a year. She felt as though all her dreams had come true. In her words: ‘As if the light that comes after the sun has gone down, has spilled gold on everything’.

Patti grew up on Wiradjuri land in rural Australia, where she had a happy childhood and where her heart and soul still belonged. But she asked herself what she thought she would find in Paris that she couldn’t find at home. How could she feel a sense of belonging in this city made up of centuries of other peoples stories?

To find out, Miller jumps between the reality of her world, and the fantasty of chatting with French writers of the past, Montaigne, Rousseau, de Beauvior, and other memoirists.  They travel with her through the streets of Paris, and have coffee with her, as she chats to them about their lives, discusses with them, the important things in life – family, love, suffering, desire, motherhood, truth telling, memory and how we discover who we are in the world, and our relationship to place and identity.

This is the story of Patti Miller’s year in Paris, in 2005, where she writes her memoir and discovers who she is in the world.

‘This great world of ours is the looking glass in which we must gaze to come to know ourselves from the right slant’ – Michel de Montaigne

My Thoughts

The format of Ransacking in Paris is a chapter for each month of the year that Patti Miller is in Paris, which to me really worked. I  loved the way she wove her memories sentimentally into her thoughts today and into her conversations about the lives of the famous authors from the past. 

“All those Mountain years, I wanted to live in Paris, it was my dream, but everyone has unfulfilled dreams. C’est la vie. I began to turn to memoir, more and more interested in exploring the self in writing, ‘the self’ as a physics and metaphysic as Montaigne put it. Why on earth couldn’t the self be a respectable subject for literature? It was a territory as complex, as vast, as any other, a moment-by-moment hallucination of sense impressions, emotions and thoughts, continuously creating the experience of a shady, chestnut tree, an itchy leg, a smiling face, a sense of belonging, of love, and grief and delight. isn’t an ungraspable sense of being, in fact, the only thing that connects each one of us” – Ransacking Paris, page 12

The paragraph above to me is beautiful descriptive writing and warms my heart. It makes me want to put everything aside and spend time writing my memoir.

This book is a very personal account of Patti Miller’s year in Paris, as she makes friends, and tries to live her life to way the locals do.  The book goes very deeply into her thoughts and feelings, about stepping out of her life in Australia, and away from her family for a full year. Ransacking Paris evokes a very strong sense of identity and place.

Recommendation

‘Miller produces compelling prose…beautifully rendered and perceptively evoked” – Australian Book Review

I’ve read this book twice now and would recommend it highly.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Patti Miller was raised on a farm in Central western NSW.  She has written many books and in 2012 won the NSW Premier’s History Award. She has taught writing for over twenty years, including at the innovative Faber Academy in Sydney. Miller regularly takes groups to Paris to write for extended periods.

Published in

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads
#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

#A-ZChallenge P: Places We Swim By Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

 From lap pools to ocean pools to hot springs. Places We Swim covers the breadth of Australia, bringing you the sixty best places to swim, dive, jump, paddle and float, around the country. You’ll discover just what makes each swimming spot unique, learn the best time to go, gain some useful local knowledge and find out the best things to see and do in the area.

With destinations ranging from the neighbourhood city pool to remote outback waterfalls , this book is a celebration of not just these magnificent swimming spots, but of the diverse landscapes and communities that make up Australia.

The chapters are divided by the States of Australia, with each state claiming very diverse types of swimming pools. The photographs invoke the typical ideas of summer in Australia.

The two page foreword is written by Benjamin Law. Here is just one paragraph:
“And every body of water in this country has a compelling story behind it. Australian swimming spots tell this country’s social and political history” – Benjamin Law, author, journalist, radio host and TV personality.

My Thoughts

This is an amazingly beautiful coffee table book. Before reading it, I couldn’t resist the temptation of flipping through the stunning photos. Immediately they  brought back memories of long, hot summers when I was a child. On the weekends my grandparents would take us to different neighbouring towns to swim at their local pool. I have very happy memories of all those pools we visited. Some were formal swimming pools and others were designated areas in rivers.  

I loved the Top Five lists that were included:
Beaches

Nudie Swims
Best for relaxing with a cold beer
Best Waterfalls

Places We Swim is a stunning photo book, including essays about the relationship between Australians and bodies of water. As I read Places We Swim, I found myself day dreaming of leaving my day job and wandering off to explore this beautiful country and it’s swimming pools.

My Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the authors

Caroline Clements is writer, editor and creative producer originally from Melbourne.
New Mexican by birth, Australian by choice, Dillon Seitchik-Reardon is a photographer, writer, and videographer.

      Published by Hardie Grant Travel in 2018.
Large, softcover book – 192 pages, including index

Have you read this book. If so I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

If you would like to keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram.and Goodreads
#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

Images: Goodreads

#AtoZChallenge M: MyHeart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

This book is a biography of Mary Queen of Scots, however it reads like a novel of intrigue and drama.  She had such a life! The way her life is assessed, depends of your point of view. Some would say she was a traitor, an adultress and a murderer. But then again, some would say that she was a courageous heroine, who stuck to what she believed. She could even be considered to be a martyr.

This is an extremely well researched book, using historical documents from the archives to build the story of the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The truth is told about the myths that have been created around her.The author says she is the most charismatic but also the most unlucky monarch in British history.

My Thoughts

I found this true story to be incredible and riveting.  As I was reading, I would find myself forgetting that the events outlined are actually true, and not the figment of an author’s imagination in a novel. Mary Stuart was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age and Queen of France at age 16 and on it goes. There are so many highlights and low lights to her life that make this book an absolute page turner. I couldn’t put it down.

Recommendation

“A triumph of biography, artistry, and a historical detective work. A masterpiece full of fire and tragedy. This book will be required reading for years to come” – Amanda Foreman

“Absorbing…..meticulously researched……scholarly and intriguing….the book will not disappoint” – Peter Ackroyd, The Times

My Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

John Guy

 

John Guy is the author of many English histories, including Tudor England which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. He is a fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, and also lectures in the Faculty of History. He became a Honorary Research Professor at the University of St. Andrews in 2003.

 

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads
Published in 2004 by Fourth Estate
Paperback 573 pages including imdex

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/