Books. Good ones.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

So I might have stepped on a few toes lately on Facebook with my perpetual links to snarky critiques of the horror that is 50 Shades Of Grey. To be clear, it's not horror genre, it's horror writing. It's a horrible, painful stringing together of words that frustrates me beyond belief. As someone who wants to write, who loves to write, who appreciates excellent writing - I found it frustrating. Maybe even angering. But I won't be dedicating a post to that pile of steaming excrement.

Instead, I am going to direct you to some stuff that is REALLY worth reading. This is the best way to fight back against shite writing - really good writing. Since I begged Allen & Unwin for an ARC (Advance Release Copy) of Susan Johnson's My Hundred Lovers, they hooked me up with a blog that does these reviews all the time. Bree's blog, All the Books I Can Read is a book review blog that I am so excited to have found. It's certainly enriched my life, as has Bree herself, providing me with recommendations via twitter, as well as reviews on her blog. Books! Wonderful books!!!

Before getting to Bree's stuff, and after enjoying My Hundred Lovers so much, I asked Allen & Unwin on twitter, what else they currently felt was a good read. They suggested two books that Blew. Me. Away. Firstly, I read The J.M. Barrie Ladies' Swimming Society by Barbara J. Zitwer. I loved this book, because the characters were so well drawn, they just engaged me and were different enough to the same old same old to fascinate. The story was well written too, and I enjoyed how easy it was to read. Bliss after the pain of 50 shades.

Next up was Nicole Trope's The Boy Under The Table. I don't know if I can find the words for this one. It was brilliant. The writing was brilliant. The characters were brilliant. The emotion was palpable, and I literally could not put it down, finishing it in a mere two sittings and reading into the wee hours. I haven't done that in a long while. I loved everything about it. If you're going to choose just one of these books to read, make it this one - you won't regret it.

(They also recommended The Taliban Cricket Club but I haven't got to it yet).

After these two I was a bit lost, wondering where to next after two good books... There is nothing worse than the feeling of finishing a good book, it is a loss, for real. This is where Bree has saved the day! Her first suggestion for me, was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Oh. My. God. This is up there with Trope's book. I sobbed when I finished it, and it's been a long time since a book reduced me to tears. This is such a beautiful book, it's masterful. I adored it.

Then I read her suggestions of Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number (awesome chick lit, readable, fun and a gorgeous protagonist as always in Sophie's books), and Trish Doller's Something Like Normal - quite a heartstring tugger about a young marine who comes home for leave from Afghanistan after seeing his best friend killed. It's a love story with a new angle, I really loved it. These were followed by two books from Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series - Obsidian and Shadows. I liked Obsidian for a few reasons, but the most impacting was reading of a young adult female protagonist that was not a simpering, blithering idiot turned to mush by a good looking guy. In fact she tells him to bugger off often for being a jerk, despite wanting to just crumble and be with him. Take THAT Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele. YES!

I have started Fiona Higgins The Mothers Group too, but being in such a non newborn or mumsy headspace at the moment (which sounds quite terrible for my kids but it's not really, I swear!) I haven't got into it properly yet, I will though.

Next up on my kindle waiting for me to dive in are these 2 -

Red Queen by Honey Brown. 

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris.

If all this looks familiar, it's because it basically follows all Bree's reviews on her blog, lol. Her reviews make me want to buy and read and read and buy... She's bad for my bank account but I love it!!!

Before I go, I need to mention again how desperate I am to read Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson. I've sent an email to her publicist, who has assured me of an ARC, so fingers crossed it arrives soon because the official release date is still a month off. Comeeeee Onnnnn!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I feel alive, I feel that familiar burning in my fingertips, it's an itch. It means WRITE, and don't stop!

It's been ages since I wrote anything that really motivated and inspired me like this. In fact, the first time I have ever felt it like this. I have this mental block about word counts, they scare me terribly. Is there a way to turn off my word doc at the bottom of my screen? So that I can only see it if I manually go Tools, Word Count... ?

Anyway, as I just said on twitter - of all my pieces of crap, this is now the longest. Longer than my masters thesis story, longer than anything else I have ever written and what is exciting is that I know it's not over yet, there is still so much to fill in, still so much to write. It's kind of exciting! Of course, this only makes up about 18% of what I need to get to. But. Still. :/

It's funny how that passion feels. Yes I am passionate about books, about animal rights and infertility and loyalty and friends and family... But the action of doing it, that is what makes life fun to live. I need to disappear into their world and tell their story. It's screaming at me to do so and it's a wonderful sound.

More about my mates!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friends are the one constant in my life the past few years. Ups and downs, lovers come and go, life is chaotic and stormy, but right there, right there are my friends always.

This week it was one of my best friends 30th birthdays. 30 is a big one, but I found it a fabulous one and I know she will too. It's just good to be in your thirties. Just is. Trust me! I was devastated to miss her celebration, I spent 2.5 days in bed this week unwell, this weird stomach of mine gives me some interesting trouble sometimes. But anyway, I wrote this for her:

For Fleur.

You make me smile, every time I see your beautiful face.
You inspire me to be a better person, inside and out.
You have the sweetest heart,
Yet the most devilish mind.
The perfect combination.

You are: wise, intelligent, and witty.
You make me feel I matter. To the world.
I know that almost always, 
Far more goes on under the surface,
Than you ever let show. 

But you cannot hide from me.
That's what makes you my best friend.
You know my heart, I know yours, too.
So much goodness is going to come your way,
So deserved, my darling heart. I love you.

I have another friend, you might know of her, she goes by the name Fat Mum Slim. Many of you would read Telle's blog, and many more again would join in her Photo A Day challenges that are taking quite literally - the world - by storm. I've seen celebrities joining in, writers, musicians, and so many of us that enjoy her prompts. It's very cool. I've known Telle a while now. I watched her start her blog, watched her cultivate it, watched her readership and support grow. And my heart blossomed for her. You see, Chantelle is a funny girl. She has this amazing quality that few people I have come across have, it's like an inner light, a self love and awareness that I strive for. She would likely shrug it off and tell me she's as insecure as the rest of us. Maybe. But she still has this amazing heart, and it shines from inside out. Telle's starting a new chapter in her life shortly, I cannot help knowing it will be a success. It's who she is. Who she will always be. She's authentic. That's why.

Then there's Jess that I mentioned the other week, who I talk to almost all day every day, who motivates me to write. Ez who is my cheerleader, Anna who would kick anyones arse if they hurt me, Nat my soul mate, Vik and Christie my vegan pioneers, and so many others... I am SO lucky. I really am. I am surrounded by so much inspiration and support. I need nothing else. All you need is love. And friendships are the best kind of love.

The Tea Party - Intimate gig

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I've mentioned The Tea Party a few times on this blog. They are the band that taught me what music can do. What it should do. Before them, I liked music and it was great, but hearing them showed me that music can actually move you. I'm sure you've heard people say that before but have you ever really felt it?  I don't mean "wow, good song, I can move to this" - I mean, my eyes are closed and I don't know where I am because this music consumes me, hits my soul, and literally transports me to another plane. That's what these guys do. THAT is what musicians can do, what true, raw talent can do.

On April 26th, I was lucky enough to score a guest list spot for an intimate, unadvertised promo gig at the Cherry Bar in Melbourne. Just a handful of contest winners, friends, and associated press and so on were in the bar for a fantastic performance of just a few songs to whet the appetite for the bands upcoming tour in July.

You must understand that this band broke up. I thought I would never see them again live and they move me like nothing else ever has so to be in amongst this group, hearing that music again absolutely melted my soul. I closed my eyes and I could not stop smiling. They're back. I almost wept with joy!

Below are links to two performances from that night. You can hear the talent, you can see the skill and you can envy we few who were lucky enough to be there! Next month, the band kick off their Reformation Tour in Melbourne and you can bet your arse I will be there. I only wish I were rich enough to fly around Australia for each and every gig to make the most of the opportunity!! Do yourself a favor, get yourself some tickets. They're also promoting a live double album that they will record whilst out there. You can score a download and some awesome extra items by pledging to help them make it (and to donate to the Steve Hoffman Fund for Cancer Research. Vinyl people! VINYL!

Now listen and be moved...

Food to make the heart sing!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vegan food makes me SO happy! I love creating, I love using new ingredients, I love using new cooking methods, I love new tastes, and i LOVE LOVE LOVE being anti violence, anti cruelty, and compassionate! It truly makes me so happy. Here are my latest successes in the kitchen!

This is a vegan caramel slice. The base is made with flour, nuttelex and sugar. The filling is nuttelex and soy condensed milk, and the top is sweet william chocolate. This was SO freaking good. drooool.

This is my vegie pie. Mushrooms, peas, carrots, in gravy and wrapped in vegan puff pastry.

Mock chicken nuggets (redwoods vegideli brand) with a greek salad and cheezly cheese.

Cashew and vegetable curry. Potato was an odd addition, loved fresh tomato in it.

Soy milk, banana, maple syrup and tahini shake. TO DIE FOR.

I love having vegan alternatives on hand to make awesome Mexican. Using cheezly and tofutti sour cream, these bean burritos were mad good.

Curry before...

And after! Kids loved this too. 

Making vegan biscuits. Oats, dried fruits, agave syrup, coconut, chia seeds, banana, apple puree, wholemeal flour... 

Mixed up.


Lunch! Cucumber and tomato slices with vegan mayo, garlic slices and dill weed on toasted soy and linseed helga thins... Yummeh!