B is for….. The April Challenge 2020

It’s a rainy day in Hobart and the news reported this morning that we should be prepared to be stopped by either the police or the defence forces if we venture out in our car. We will be asked where we are going and if it isn’t essential,  fines may be imposed or we might spend up to six months in jail.  I wonder where they will put everyone if everyone goes to jail.  Mr. Penguin and I are getting into a pretty steady routine. Books, garden work, Ollie exercise, animal care of two dogs and three indoor cats, writing, studying and a bit of Netflix. I had to take Ollie for a long walk yesterday because a 7 month Jack Russell goes ballistic without exercise.  Our local pub, the Cascade Pub is selling takeaway meals from Wednesday to Sunday and we took advantage of that last night, to have a break in routine and to support them. It is quite interesting how one can establish new routines if only they are open to change. I must say I am enjoying the amount of free time not having to run around and quiet interludes when I want to read. I hope everyone out there stays healthy and keeps an open mind about these things.

So onward and upward, keep calm and all that…..today we talk about B books.


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 1*  Barbed Wire  and Cherry Blossoms (2016) by Anita Heiss (b. 1968 Australian). I acquired this book only recently when a couple of Aussie book bloggers spoke highly of her work.

Dr Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a regular guest at Writers festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Aboriginal Literature. She is a lifetime ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a proud member of the Waradjuri Nation of Central New South Wales.  (information taken from her web page)

The blurb on the back describes it: “Over 1000 Japanese soldiers break out of the No. 12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra, New South Wales. In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat. But one soldier, Hiroshi, manages to escape. 

At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, banjo Williams, father of five and proud man of his community discovers Hiroshi distraught and on the run. Unlike most of the townsfolk who dislike and distrust the Japanese, the people of Erambie choose compassion and offer Hiroshi refuge. Mary, Banjo’s daughter, is intrigued by the softly spoken stranger, and charged with his care. “  This is their story.

Screenshot2** Between Mexico and Poland (2002) by Australian/American author Lily Brett.  I have written about her books in the past as she is one of my favourite authors. I especially enjoy her biographical tales of growing up in Melbourne with parents who survived Auschwitz. She is now a long time New Yorker residing in New York City.

This book refers to her time in Mexico and Poland. The blurb on the back states, ” In Mexico, she tries to write a novel, while the toilet explodes in the house, the gardener hoses her notes and the young maid questions her about plastic surgery. In Poland she retraces the steps of her much loved character from Too Many Men, Ruth Rothwx, and finds herself surprised to hear Ruth’s words coming out of her own mouth. In between she writes for the first time about the devastation of losing her New York home to fire and having to rebuild not only a life but a history. She also offers over insights into her adopted city New York, both before and after the tragic events of September 11. “

There is always quite a bit of humour and some cynicism in her books that I think make her an interesting woman.

coffee gets cold3*** Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (2019). Okay, I admit it freely. I bought this book because I loved the cover illustration. I loved the title and I loved that it is by a Japanese writer which always gives an interesting experience.  I really do like everything about the Japanese culture. In this book it states: “In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a cafe which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

We meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the cafe’s time travelling offer, in order to make use of the cafe’s time travelling offer, in order to confront the lover who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has begun to fade, see their sister one last time and meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the cafe, and finally they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold. 

The author explores the age old question of what would you change if you could travel back in time.

Well that is another day completed.  I might add before I get too far into this April project that I tend to buy books that I have a feeling for when I handle them. I know, I know. Sound a bit silly but I have never been one to follow the award winners, the popular, the books everyone is talking about.  I get burned out quickly from books that have too much hype around them, no matter how good they may be.  I like stories, authors, characters that go to fascinating countries, have remarkable experiences, have a different point of view to mine (unless they are right wing fundamentals which I won’t touch or I should say I’ll listen to them but only once and usually dismiss the craziness of most of them. Think American Republican Party or gun control lobbies. But I digress.)

I like to scrounge through the shelves of both new and second hand book stores and look for something maybe really old or very different or something I’ve never heard of. I’ve been known to go to the library, walk down a row of shelves with eyes closed and pull something off the shelf and not look at it until I get home.  I’m sure there are other bookish friends out there who know exactly what I’m talking about.  So until tomorrow.

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C — you  tomorrow.  Hahah – joke.


13 thoughts on “B is for….. The April Challenge 2020

  1. I agree with you. Hyped books do not always appeal to me. I like more the books who did not win the Man Booker Prize, than the books which won. At my local library, they have a shelf with new books. I often find interesting books there, although I never heard about neither the book nor the author. They often turn out to be very good.
    I read a lot now as well. I find though that I need easygoing books these days. I often read thrillers or historical fiction. Maybe one just needs to get away from daily life.


  2. I can’t recall where in the world this was but I read about somewhere that people had to show a receipt to prove they had been out shopping rather than doing any other non essential trip. There rather over zealous isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny, I was only thinking of that today. Guess if you walked to your friend’s place then it would be exercise. I have just learned motorbike riding is considered exercise and is ok. My neurologist tel,s me to keep riding as it’s good for my balance which makes me laugh.


  3. the Japanese one sounds very interesting… i confess to being a sucker for time travel books, tho… i probably am subconsciously rejecting the present day, haha… things are very quiet here with less than half the normal traffic load… cycling today i saw a flock of ducks; unusual for this area… other sitings recently make me think that with fewer people around, animals and birds are beginning to return somewhat… nice to see…


  4. The work other bloggers write highly of is not usually Heiss’s romantic fiction, not that I have tried one and I probably should.
    What is a B book I can think of on my 3,500 km distant shelves – how about Beyond the Chindwin, a memoir of a campaign in Burma during WWII, which shows that my boyhood memories are much fresher than my adult ones. Old age! But I have belatedly thought of the excellent Black Rock White City by AS Patric.


    1. Heiss writes across a range of genres: I’ve read her NF AM I Black Enough for You? and also her intro in the PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Writing, but I don’t get on with what she calls choc-lit: she writes what is basically chick-lit with central characters who are middle-class Aboriginal women to show that the stereotypes are just that. Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossom was a departure into historical fiction and it’s very good indeed. (I reviewed it on my blog and it was nominated for the MF I think).


    2. I have heard of AS Patric but not read him. Those tales arou d the war are always interesting as long as I don’t read about any animals like what happened to horses in WWI. I wimp out.


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