Thursday, 22 June 2017

Maisie Dobbs Saves the Day

So I figure the only thing to do to find my words again, is to simply start writing and see what happens!

During this most recent blue funk, when writing left me and reading seemed too hard, I pulled out my next Maisie Dobbs book. She has seen me through quite a few meh times already. And I had high hopes this time around.

Maisie did not fail me.
But a double dose was required.


Leaving Everything Most Loved is book #10 in Jacqueline Winspear's cosy crime series. It is now 1933 and Winspear deftly weaves a modern day issue into her historical fiction. Scotland Yard requires Maisie's help to solve the problem of two murdered Indian women. The impact of racism, colonialism and the class system (in both England and India) all come under scrutiny via Winspear's more familiar themes of belonging, self-reflection and the lingering after effects of trauma and prejudice.

Maisie spends a lot of time analysing her own thoughts and behaviours as well as employing this skill to help her solve each case. Up until the past couple of books, Maisie was making progress. Her use of psychology, intuition and meditation was interesting.

However, I do feel that Winspear has now got bogged down with the romance between Maisie and James Compton. We all want Maisie to be happy in love, but at the same time, getting married and settling down with a family wont work for future story lines. Curiously part of the success of these stories is Maisie's continuing misery. What will happen to the series if Maisie finally finds happiness?

How can Winspear solve this dilemma?
Will the solution be found in India?

I for one couldn't leave it there.
I had to know what happened to Maisie next.

Would she move to Canada and marry James? Would she still be solving crimes? In India? Canada? Or back in London?

I knew that #11 A Dangerous Place was going to seriously mix things up right from the start.
Suddenly it is 1937 and Maisie is in Gibraltar.

Four years have gone by and she is still being referred to as Miss Dobbs.

A quick flashback via some letters and newspaper articles fill us in on the continuing misery of Maisie. I confess I nearly cried.

Unlike many of Maisie's loyal followers, though, I wasn't disappointed by this great leap forward.

Winspear had to do something dramatic to change the direction of the series. Maisie had reached an emotional stalemate at the end of the previous book. Whatever came next had to propel the series onto a new level or wrap things up for good.

I never bought the whole James and Maisie romance - it felt too convenient. And I was still holding a torch for Detective Richard Statton who rode off into the sunset with his young son and the end of book 8.

Bringing us closer to WWII politicking and the double-dealing of spies, was a smart move by Winspear. It may have been a bit clunky in execution, but it's what the series needed.

A Dangerous Place refers to the Spanish Civil War and the fate of refugees. I like how Winspear is gently drawing a line between historical events and current world affairs.

Obviously a new war will give Maisie plenty of opportunity to reflect on and confront her experiences as a WWI nurse. However, her ongoing angst is getting a little tired (although more than understandable), so I do hope that Winspear allows Maisie some psychological and emotional peace soon.

One of the problems with books in a series, is the author's habit of recapping previous events in each new book. It bugs me no end. Unfortunately Winspear is prone to it too. If a little reminiscence popped up naturally in the dialogue or an obvious link connected two of the cases, then fine, but the rehash for the sake of the rehash is just plain annoying for regulars of the series.

The few times I have unwittingly picked up a book from the middle of a series, the not knowing why things are happening, was the impetus I needed to go back and start the series from the beginning.

The Maisie books are not without their flaws, but if I had had #12 on hand, I would have started reading it straight away. (I did read the extract from Journey to Munich that was included at the end. It revealed a small leap forward to early 1938 and a Richard Statton teaser!)

There is something dependable and reassuring about Maisie. She is the perfect choice for a blue funk, a rainy Sunday afternoon or to ease a stressed out day.

I'm not completely done with this particular blue funk, but it is abating thanks to Maisie.

I'm also a little in love with Andrew Davidson's iconic wood engraving covers.

Maisie Dobbs #1
Maisie Dobbs #2 Birds of a Feather
Maisie Dobbs #3 Pardonable Lies
Maisie Dobbs #4 Messenger of Truth
Maisie Dobbs #5 An Incomplete Revenge
Maisie Dobbs #6 Among the Mad
Maisie Dobbs #7 The Mapping of Love and Death
Maisie Dobbs #8 A Lesson in Secrets
Maisie Dobbs #9 Elegy for Eddie
Maisie Dobbs #10 Leaving Everything Most Loved
Maisie Dobbs #11 A Dangerous Place
Maisie Dobbs #12 Journey to Munich
Maisie Dobbs #13 In This Grave Hour

These 2 books are 1 & 2 for my #20booksofsummer (winter) challenge.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Winter Solstice

Today, 21st June 2017, is the June Solstice. 
In the Southern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year; in the Northern it is the longest (in terms of daylight hours).

In Sydney, the solstice officially happens at 2:24 pm.

At 2:24 EST the sun is at its zenith over the Tropic of Cancer.
For a brief period of time, the sun appears to stand still at its northernmost position.

It then reverses and begins its journey south to the Tropic of Capricorn and the December Solstice, once again.


Scientists and astronomers consider today to be the beginning of winter (or summer).
Because they use the solstices to mark the seasons, each year the length and time of the seasons can be a little different.

Meteorologists, however, use the beginning of the month to mark the season.
This makes for consistent and predictable periods of time that help them with weather forecasting.

The winter solstice doesn't also mean that we will experience the coldest day of the year.
The earth still contains some heat from our summer and autumn.
The coldest day of the year is still a month or so away.
*sigh*

Hope, 2015, Ian Friend Gallerysmith

The sun has come out in Sydney this morning...and that always helps...but it doesn't look like it will last for very long.


The Winter Solstice Book


You’ll age and weaken one day 

When you have a solitary walk in the garden, wearing the 

Dark-green coat.

Apart from it, there is no other green

You’ll take a rest, leaning against the gigantic tree, plunging into deep thoughts 

In its heavy shade 

As if seeking asylum

The freshest parts of the fruit, hanging on the branches, in our memory 

The beings on the petals, gone missing in the spring

Our fragrant hearts, once filled with honey

Are now scars and holes 

Like a wintry honeycomb, an abandoned building

My dear, that is a fact of life

Solitary, dark, but not as bad as despair 


Gao Pengcheng (translated by Ouyang Yu) 





Theosophie Alchemie Autore, 1687, Michael Maier


After a long blogging absence my good friend, The Girl Booker posted the post I needed to read last night.
Two years ago she read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic.
She finally posted her thoughts on it yesterday, fully aware of the irony in waiting two years to publish.

I really like the way she talks about creative living as being work. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is even boring, and only sometimes is it wondrously inspiring. But if it is something you feel compelled to do, and it makes you feel better at the end of each day, then it is important. She also affirms that it is important even if you are the only person to see the finished product. It's about the process for the creator, not about the intended or eventual audience.

Amen!

This morning I picked up an ARC teetering on the top of my pile.
It's title caught my eye -
Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded Life by Michael Harris.



First up, the cover matches the top I'm wearing today (it's always a bonus when you can colour coordinate your book with your outfit!)

Secondly, the book discusses the rhythms of life:

'there's a time for resting, a time for hunting, a time for courting, a time for hiding.'

In our modern society we have changed the rhythms of life so much that we have lost the experience of true solitude. We never find ourselves alone anymore - we're always on our phones; we're connected and busy.

This struck a chord with me.

I think my words have got lost in the busyness of modern life.
My motivation and my passion got attached to external constructs.
I need to, I WANT to, get back in touch with what's important to me.
I am compelled to write - I always return to words.
I just need some quiet time, some solitude, to rediscover my inspiration.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Words, Words, Words

Have you ever been lost for words?


I'm in the middle of (although hopefully coming to the end of) a blue funk with words.
I've got nothing to say.

But I have been reading.
And walking - a lot.


When the words do come back you can expect a flood of catch up posts!

For now, though, I'm still searching for my centre, my reason and my motivation.

This bleak, grey, dismal June is almost over.
The winter solstice is almost upon us.
 And slowly but surely the days will once again lengthen and the sun will come out.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Book Tag

There's a lovely Book Tag going around blogger land at the moment (see O @On Bookes and Jean @Howling Frog Books).


It's a rainy, grey winter's day in Sydney today. The family has just settled down to an afternoon of disaster movies and just between you and me, I'm in a bit of a mood!

Blame it on the dreary weather, June blues or hormones but everything looks a bit blah right now. Reading - blah; blogging - blah, blah; being motivated to do anything at all - blah, blah, blah!

I'm hoping a Book Tag will take my mind off the blah, however thanks to my mood I'm not going to do the whole 19 questions (why 19? What happened to an even 20?) that are on the current tag. Ten is all I've got in me right now.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

I still have my childhood Dr Seuss books - One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Ten Apples Up on Top
I taught myself to read with these books.


2. What is your current read, last read and the book you plan to read next?

I have several current reads - Beyond the Rock, The Two Towers, First Love just to name a few.



My last read (which I finished on Thursday) was Time Without Clocks by Joan Lindsay.
My next book will depend on my mood...the way I'm feeling now, it will probably be a comfort read.

3. What book do you tell yourself you'll read, but probably wont?

Ulysses by James Joyce.

4. What book are you saving for retirement?

Ulysses by James Joyce!

5. Which book character would you switch places with?

Right now, today, I wish I was Piglet strolling through the Hundred Acre Woods with my pal Pooh.


6. What book reminds you a specific place/time/person?

I have so many of these, so I will narrow it down to three.
Forever Amber will always remind me of my first time in the UK. 
I was nannying and travelling and I loved reading chunksters. 
Kathleen Winsor's Restoration pot-boiler was the perfect read as I wandered around the historic cobblestone streets of London.


Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie reminds me of Western Australia.
In 1999 I had a driving tour around the southwestern areas of the state.
Midnight's Children kept me company the whole way.


On my second trip to the UK, I picked up a second hand copy of Daphne Du Maurier's Mary Anne in a B&B.
It was my first Du Maurier (but not my last). 
It was a messy mix of fiction and biography, but it was also very, very English.


7. Which book has been with you most places?

Herodotus' The Histories has been with the most places by virtue of the fact that it was with me for my backpacking trip around Europe in 1991 - England, France, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.

8. What book outside your comfort zone did you end up loving?

Lord of the Rings and Stephen King's It.
Horror and fantasy were not my usual fare, until a young Mr Books convinced me to try both 30 years ago.

9. Which book have you reread the most?

That's easy - Pride and Prejudice - since 2012 though, I've only had one more reread.

10. Three bookish confessions?

I underline and highlight sections of my books.
I read several books at once.
I often choose (or not choose) books by their covers.

There you go - I feel better already.
I just needed to watch the end of the world whilst blogging!

If you'd like to join in, here are the questions for an easy copy & paste.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
2. What is your current read, last read and the book you plan to read next?
3. What book do you tell yourself you'll read, but probably wont?
4. What book are you saving for retirement?
5. Which book character would you switch places with?
6. What book reminds you a specific place/time/person?
7. Which book has been with you most places?
8. What book outside your comfort zone did you end up loving?
9. Which book have you reread the most?
10. Three bookish confessions?

Feel free to leave your book tag post in a hyperlink below by using the code <a href="URL">word</a>

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Last week Mr Books and I went to the movies for the first time this year!

I know! How did that happen? How can our life be so busy that we don't make time to go the movies anymore? Surely having adult children living at home means less work and running round? And more to time to ourselves?

We will have to find a way to get better at this sharing a house with other (young) adults stuff.
And, of course, I shouldn't complain. One day they will leave home; one day rents and house prices in Sydney will become reasonable and do-able for the average person again and on that day we will miss them terribly.

But for now, let me get back to being excited about the movie we saw last week.


Viceroy's House stars the wonderful Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten and Gillian Anderson doing an amazing version of Lady Mountbatten. The story follows their time in India in 1947 in the transition of British India to independence and the eventual Partition of India and Pakistan.

It was a very thought provoking and timely story about the catastrophic and on-going problems that occur when one country meddles in the internal politics of another. Self-interest, the divisive nature of religion, the British policy of divide and conquer and the need for secure oil reserves all played a part in the unravelling of Colonial India. Britain (and India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) are still dealing with the after effects of this time to this day.

Last month I received an advance copy of Arundhati Roy's latest novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It was 'highly confidential' and strictly embargoed. I resisted the urge to read it straight away, to avoid any temptation to tattle on social media!

After coming home from watching Viceroy's House seemed like the perfect time to begin. That would give me one week to read the book before the embargo lifted on Monday 29th May 9am (EST).


The first thing that struck me was the use of local lingo. I enjoy learning new words and phrases. Sometimes Roy gave us a context for these words and sometimes she didn't. For example:
'You mean I've made a khichdi of their story?' she asked.

I looked up khichdi to discover it is a rice and lentil dish common to South Asian countries. In India it is one of the first solid foods fed to babies.

'I'm a mehfil, I'm a gathering. Of everybody and nobody, of everything and nothing.'

Mehfil is a place where music and dance performances occur.

'Sach Khuda hai. Khuda hi Sach hai.' Truth is God. God is Truth.

After examining Aftab he said he was not, medically speaking , a Hijra - a female trapped in a male body - although for practical purposes that word could be used. 

There were also some lovely turns of phrase early on:

No matter how elaborate its charade, she recognised loneliness when she saw it....And she had learned from experience that Need was a warehouse that could accommodate a considerable amount of cruelty.

However, at page 29 I started to struggle. My initial enthusiasm waned. I began to feel manipulated, the situation felt contrived, then Salmon Rushdie's Midnight's Children jumped into my mind.

I loved and adored Midnight's Children with such intensity that any other simply pales in comparison.

So I put The Ministry of Utmost Happiness aside and quietly dubbed it instead #ministryofutmostdisappointment. The ABC TV Bookclub had announced they were reading it for their 6th of June show. I thought I would wait to see what they all had to say, before deciding to continue or not.

Most of them had something positive to say about the language, one of the characters and the structure, but when asked at the end, if they would recommend the book to anyone, most said not really. They enjoyed reading it, and were glad that they had read it, but found it uneven and as Marieke Hardy said 'I like other books better and I'd recommend them instead'.

To summarise - if you didn't like The God of Small Things then you may or may not like this book too. But if you loved The God of Small Things then you most likely will find this disappointing.

I for one have decided to abandon this book at pg 49.

I have too many other books I really want to read.

But I'm very keen to read your reviews.
Feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments below. You can hyperlink it by using the code <a href="URL">word</a>

Saturday, 3 June 2017

#6Degrees June 2017

#6degrees is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Oftentimes I haven't read the starting book for this meme, but I can assure you that I only play the next 6 books with ones I have actually read. 
If I've read the book during this blogging life, then I include my review link, otherwise, you just have to take my word for it!

This month the starting book is Steve Martin’s Shopgirl.
Are you game?

Old image alert - Kate @Books Are My Favourite & Best now hosts #6Degrees but this is a good refresh of the rules.

Shopgirl is a book unknown to me, but that has never stopped me from joining in #6degrees before!

Steve Martin is a comedian who unexpectedly turned to writing novels later in life - which seems like the best first link I can make - to another comedian turned author, Ben Elton.


I've only ever read one of his books, Past Mortem.
I remember nothing about it at all except that Elton used the School Friends Reunited website to (re)connect his main characters. Considering this is a crime thriller, you can safely assume that the reuniting part didn't end well for many of the characters!

The friendships in Past Mortem were fairly toxic and dysfunctional, so let's flip this, for link no. 2.

I'm currently reading the ultimate book about real and true friendship.
Friends that are loyal, steadfast and courageous.
These friends also just happen to be hobbits.


Samwise, Merry and Pippin's support of Frodo during his ordeal with the Ring is now legendary.

The Lord of the Rings isn't just a friendship tale though.
It's also a classic battle between good and evil forces.

And there's only one writer I know who completely revels in and thoroughly embraces the battle between good and evil. 


Stephen King's The Stand is the ultimate good versus evil story.
And he planned it that way -

For a long time—ten years, at least—I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting. I just couldn't figure out how to do it. Then . . . after my wife and kids and I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I saw a 60 Minutes segment on CBW (chemical-biological warfare). 
I never forgot the gruesome footage of the test mice shuddering, convulsing, and dying, all in twenty seconds or less. That got me remembering a chemical spill in Utah, that killed a bunch of sheep (these were canisters on their way to some burial ground; they fell off the truck and ruptured). 
I remembered a news reporter saying, 'If the winds had been blowing the other way, there was Salt Lake City.' 
This incident later served as the basis of a movie called Rage, starring George C. Scott, but before it was released, I was deep into The Stand, finally writing my American fantasy epic, set in a plague-decimated USA. 
Only instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg. The land of Mordor ('where the shadows lie,' according to Tolkien) was played by Las Vegas
(Stephen King - The Stand Complete and Uncut 2008)

This is also a road trip book - the journey is informed by the environment and the characters grow and develop thanks to their experiences along the way. Which brings me to one of my all time favourite road trip stories.

Or more accurately in this case - a river trip.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was my first full-on encounter with characters speaking in local vernacular. Some people struggle with this, but curiously I felt very comfortable with it.

Which helped me when I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston for the first time. I say the first time, because I adored this story so much that I know in the deepest part of my soul that this will be the first of many rereads.


Another first time read that has planted itself deep in my soul, waiting for its chance to be reread is Graham Swift's extraordinarily beautiful novella, Mothering Sunday


This is one of my few #6degrees posts that doesn't feature at least one Australian book.
Instead I went from an unknown, unread book, through some of the most popular books in modern history, to a much loved and hope to reread as many times as I possible personal favourite.

Where did you end up this month?

Friday, 2 June 2017

Sydney Writer's Festival - Part 3 and a Half

It's time to bring this baby home!

My final sessions and thoughts about this year's Sydney Writer's Festival.

Town Hall, Sydney - Vivid-style

On Friday evening, Mr Books and I went into Town Hall to hear George Saunders, Colson Whitehead, Mona Chalabi and Julia Turner discuss the topic American Carnage. The term references the point in Trump's inaugural speech when he said, 'the American carnage stops right here, right now.' The ideological divide and 'trusted' information sources being the central themes.

Sadly all four struggled to get their thoughts together and present a coherent, compelling discussion. Perhaps they were jetlagged or tired of talking about this subject or being seen as spokesmen for their entire country. But I wondered if the rather shambolic nature of this discussion also represented how muddled many Americans feel right now. Four months has not been long enough to get their heads around the new world order they are living under.

Saunders suggested the divide was like a castle. Some people imagine a castle and automatically bring to mind a Game of Thrones style castle; others see a Monty Python one.

Chalabi talked about the problems of predictive journalism and how quickly things become 'normalised'. Given they were talking at a SWF event, I would have liked more insight into how it was that Trump managed to be the one to tell the most compelling stories.

Are compelling stories simply those that tell the reader/listener what they want to hear? Or are they the stories that make the reader/listener stretch, grown and learn?

Mr Books and I shared a lively chat on the way home about the difference between Australian politics and American. It was very clear at the beginning of the talk that the Australian audience was very proud of our mandatory voting system which forces everyone to engage in the political process.

I wonder if the talk would have had more direction and structure if there had been a non-American on the panel?


Saturday morning was another glorious autumnal morning in Sydney. I only had one session booked for 3pm, but I went in a couple of hours early to soak up the atmosphere. I enjoyed a chat with a friend and a coffee in the sun before heading into one of the free events featuring Peter Polites author of Down the Hume.

Gay crime or queer noir is not my usual fare, but Polites gave me a lot of food for thought re our class system and political philosophy. He showed that rises in noir writing occurred during times of economic change. The problems of economic casualisation were explored, although he nearly lost me when he declared that 'if Henry James were alive today he would watch Real Housewives of Sydney.'

The session I was looking forward to the most was with Nadja Speigelman.

She didn't disappoint.

Speigelman is articulate, funny, generous, thoughtful, open, honest and gracious. Everything I loved about her memoir, I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This, was on display in person.

The talk was led by Abigail Ulman, who I had never come across before. However, she thoroughly impressed me with her ability to listen carefully and ask knowledgeable questions that guided the conversation naturally. She was granted a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University and won the 2016 SMH Best Young Novelist Award. I will now be on the lookout for her story collection, Hot Little Hands.


I woke up Sunday morning feeling rather exhausted, but I pushed through the pain barrier and headed out the door.

Yet another sunny day on the harbour; more autumnal book bliss; and another coffee break whilst soaking up the glorious sunshine.

It's a hard life, but someone has to do it!


I started the morning with a panel celebration of Melina Marchetta's YA classic, Looking For Alibrandi. Can you believe it's 25 years?

The discussion was modelled on the Have a Say Day section of the book where Josie and Jacob meet. Various authors and actors had their say with Alibrandi being the central idea on which to talk. Pia Miranda hosted the panel that included Melina herself, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Mark Di Stefano, Gen Fricker, Brodie Lancaster and Rajith Savanadasa.

Between them they covered the immigrant experience, feminism, cultural biases, guilty pleasures, embarrassment, love and the importance of seeing ourselves in stories.

My final session for the festival was one of the big ones. Lion: A Long Way Home featured Saroo and Sue Brierley talking about their experiences with adoption, being lost, then found and their journey into the book and movie world.

I have managed to avoid every single interview and review of this book and movie, yet I know all about it. I don't like feeling like my emotions are being manipulated towards a certain state. Every article or chat show seemed to have it's own angle or agenda, so I kept them all at bay.

Having the opportunity to see and hear Saroo and his adoptive mum, Sue, in person felt like the only authentic way to get their story. Naturally they have their own angles and agendas, but it's their story, and I could live with that.

Saroo honoured the three amazing women in his life. The woman he lost (& who waited for him to return one day), the woman who found him on the streets of Calcutta and helped and the woman who raised him to be the man he is today.

His journey is an incredible one and I now feel ready to watch the movie.


I have never spent so much time at one festival before.
It was exhausting, in an over-stimulated kind of way.

The rest of my experiences can be found below.

Part 3 - Public Transport Rant
Part 2 - Thursday
Part 1 - Opening Night Party

Overall, it felt like a mixed bag.
I didn't come away with a long list of new authors or new books to read like I have in previous years. But I didn't see many of the free talks this year...and that's where I have found the hidden gems in the past.

I enjoyed some of the talks - a lot.
But some left me underwhelmed.

When you can pay up to $35 for a ticket, you expect more for your buck. You expect little pearls of wisdom and surprising insights. You expect thoughtful questioning and attentive conversationalists.

I attend writer's festival to learn something new; not to be told the same stuff I already knew because I had read the book. An interviewer or moderators job is to bring out the best in their panel. This is a skill and not everyone displayed it this year.

Next festival I plan to see more of the free events to see if I can find the love again.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

20 Books of Winter

I've been avoiding a certain book for a week now.
Spotting 20 Books of Summer Winter over at Cathy's 746Books has been the perfect excuse to procrastinate some more.


I have joined in this meme for the past few years and I can proudly say that I have never finished all 20 books!
That's because the most pleasurable part of this meme is in the art of the compiling.

I love any excuse to browse through my TBR piles, wondering which books I might feel like reading over the cold winter months, figuring out which ones I have already committed to reading for readalongs, all the while knowing that I will be tempted by unknown new releases and spontaneous reading challenges.

At this point in time, I feel fairly safe in saying that one of the books that will not make my #20books list is the new Arundhati Roy which I have now renamed #ministryofutmostdisappointment.

I've also decided to feature as many slim volumes as possible on my #20books list.

Perhaps this will be the year I read all 20 books!

1.

The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien is the final book in my #HLOTRreadalong2017.
I'm halfway through The Two Towers and feel confident that I will make it all the way though the series.




2.

The Undercurrent by Paula Weston is a new release that has just found it's way onto my TBR pile.
It's a YA futuristic thriller from Text Publishing due to be published in August.




3. 

Polly and Buster by Sally Rippin is the beginning of a new junior fiction series by the much loved author of Billie B Brown.
It's a June new release for Hardie Grant Egmont about a 'friendship that makes your heart squeeze with happiness'.




4. 

The Best Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant has been on my TBR pile for too many years to count.
I can also use this book for Paris in July.




5.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout is the follow up to My Name is Lucy Barton.
I can't wait!




6.

I discovered Time Without Clocks by Joan Lindsay in a second hand bookshop last year.
When Roy's book proved so disappointing last week, I pulled this one out instead...and fell into it's comfy, warm and charming embrace with a huge sigh of relief.




7.

Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner (creator of Mad Men) is probably a scarier prospect than my usual fare. 
This November new release from Little Brown will no doubt be shared with Mr Books as he was a huge fan of the entire Mad Men series.




8.

Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter was recommended to me by one of my colleagues.
This winter could be it's chance!




9. 

The Plains by Gerard Murnane is a modern day Australian classic.
It's time I read it.




10.

Only in New York by Lily Brett ticks several boxes.
Short essays ✓ Lily Brett ✓ New York ✓ a book about walking ✓
I should have been all over this one ages ago!




11.

Beyond the Rock by Janelle McCulloch is the logical choice to read along with Lindsay's reminiscences above.
I may even be tempted to reread Picnic at Hanging Rock!




12.

First Love by Gwendoline Riley has been shortlisted for this year's Baileys Women's Prize.
I have one week to read this before the winner is announced!




13. 

Till Apples Grow on an Orange Tree by Cassandra Pybus was another recent secondhand bookshop find.
The cover tempted me with this Australian memoir, and I'm curious to see if it 'beguiles' me as much as Marion Halligan suggested on the back cover.




14.

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer is an award winning Dutch story for teens.
Kuijer won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2012 (see my ALMA page for more details).




15.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote is one of those classics that I can't believe that I haven't read yet.




16.

I've been keen to read another book by Willa Cather ever since I read and adored My Antonia.
A Lost Lady is the slimmest Cather on my TBR pile.




17.

My edition of The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford has a pretty cover.
Enough said!




18.

Rumour has it that Mantel is getting closer to releasing the third book in her Cromwell trilogy.
The Giant, O'Brien by Hilary Mantel will be my teaser.




19.

I'm planning on seeing the movie based on A Sense of an Ending soon.
Levels of Life by Julian Barnes is one of my unread Barnes' on my TBR pile.




20.

Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano is one of the books on my Nobel Prize challenge...and one of the slimmest options.




There you have it!
A lovely mix of short stories, children's books, essays, classics, shortlisted books and new releases.

I have two bonus books that I may switch in to the mix if the mood takes me:

1. Maisie Dobbs #10 Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
2. Maisie Dobbs #11 A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear


Have you read any of these or heard anything good (or bad) about them?

What about the Arundhati Roy?
Should I try again with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness?