Library Loot

Last week I got to the library. I have had several books on a wait list and of course they all came in at once. This is what I snagged…..


I read a review of this book and as travel writing is one of my top favourite genres I thought I would have a closer look at it to see if I want to read it.

“The 1914 Giro d’Italia: The hardest bike race in history. Eighty-one riders started and only eight finished after enduring cataclysmic storms, roads strewn with nails, and even the loss of an eye by one competitor. And now Tim Moore is going to ride it. And he’s committed to total authenticity.” (Good Reads)

It is one of those tales where something momentous happened in the past and now a person decides to recreate the experience. It is supposed to be very funny.


This is the most well known book (and author) of the bunch. I have read it already and I must say it is one of the best books I have read in awhile. As James says from “James Reads Books” it is my new favourite book. George Orwell can write like few others and his description of the poverty of working in restaurants in Paris and living on the streets of London in the 1930’s is an incredible experience.  We don’t know how well off we are at times. I would consider reading this again. I loved the people in it and felt for them with all my heart.


I have had to wait months for this book so I will start it probably later today. It sounds like the title to a crime novel but it is not.

From Good Reads…”Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality–not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.”  

It appeals to me because I get tired of all the people around me and crave some quiet time in nature. But 27 years?  He left civilisation in the late 1980’s and didn’t speak to another person for almost 30 years. I have to see how he did that. Grocery shopping? Eating off the land? In Maine?  So many unanswered questions. It sounds fascinating.
Snip20171211_8I checked this unknown Indigenous story out of the library after seeing a post written by Whispering Gums about Mandala Press.  I went to the library web page and typed in the name of this publisher just to see what would come up. Most entries were children’s books but this looks as though it is for older readers.

“A young girl, Ngarta, fearing for her life when strangers approach, runs for her life. She supported herself by hunting and gathering, moving from waterhole to waterhole. It was in the 1960’s, when most Walmajarri people had left the desert and moved onto cattle stations. Ngarta’s sister, Jukuna, had already left with her husband. When the murderers caught up with Ngarta and wanted to kill her, she persuaded them to follow her instead.”  (The blurb on the back of the book.)


When I was in Sydney with my friend we were talking about cooking. I told her I recently purchased a pressure cooker. I still jump about three feet into the air when it releases steam at the end of a session. She mentioned to me this book that sounded quite funny.  The library. had it. I don’t know if I’ll have time to read it before it is due back but I will look through it. The blurb on the back states, “A baby + a toddler + a full-time job = total meltdown”.  You get the idea.

Has anyone out there read any of these?                                               Snip20160612_11

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

I just got this newsletter from an Arts site whose newsletters I subscribe to. I have not read any of the winners but have heard of the fiction winner, Their Brilliant Careers and also the Atomic Thunder, the Malalinga Story under Australian history. Atomic Thunder sounds the most interesting to me. I will look forward to hearing from other Aussie bloggers who follow the awards closer than I do.🤔🤔🤔

2017 PMLA winners announced!
The winners of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been announced by Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield at a ceremony this morning at Parliament House.
Winners across six categories were selected from a strong shortlist of 30 literary and historical works, representing a diverse mix of Australian authors and illustrators.
The winners are:
Their Brilliant Careers, Ryan O’Neill
Headwaters, Anthony Lawrence
Quicksilver, Nicolas Rothwell
Australian history
Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story, Elizabeth Tynan
Young adult
Words in Deep Blue, Cath Crowley
Children’s – joint winners
Dragonfly Song, Wendy Orr and Home in the Rain, Bob Graham
For a full list of winners, author biographies, book summaries, judges’ comments and posters of the 2017 shortlisted books visit the website.

Yesterday was tremendously hot for Hobart and we didn’t move much. 33 C temp (91.4 F ). As Tassie is missing part of its ozone layer we generally stay out of the sun. When the cats started to pant we put on the air conditioning. The temp broke during the night and it is much cooler with lots of rain forecast for the next three or four days. 😎😎😎

I spent this morning at the fitness centre where I spent time in the pool and then ten minutes in the spa. I have been so lethargic after my busy week in Sydney I have barely moved except to walk the dogs. My garmin watch tallied up close to 50 miles walked during the week in Sydney.

The good news is five books I have had on hold, some for a couple of months, came into the library. I have enough TBR books on my shelves but feel it is important to support local libraries. Why do they always all come in at once though🤗🤗🤗?

I might do a Library Loot post over the next couple of days. They look good. What have you been up to today?? (I stick to daily activities as it is easier for people to tell me about their day rather than the last week or month.)  The Penguin and I will be back soon.  I am thinking of drawing some new clothes for him soon. He needs a summer wardrobe.  bluejumper


Catch up with the Photos- Sydney

The internet in the hotel in Sydney was very dicey when it came to photos. They must not want people to use up data uploading them. So here are some photos from the week.

Beautiful Sydney Harbour in the evening
The Selfie scene from Muriel’s wedding was one of the funniest of the night. The play was an absolutely joy with great acting, costuming and I couldn’t stop watching the choreography. A wonderful night out.


This is a lovely second hand book shop in Glebe Point Road. It has a cafe as well and was well attended throughout. The wonderful indie shop Gleebooks is next door and the two shops compliment each other. Glee has new books downstairs and second hand books upstairs. We had a cold drink at Sappho as it was a very warm day.
Meredith is the owner of Sappho and she has a framed photo of information about her as well as a photo of her below.
A lovely photo of Meredith and she is a truly lovely host to her shop.
The selection of books in this shop is very good. Lots of authors I hardly ever see and lots of vintage Penguins too. Glad I am not collecting them anymore.
The Penguin was taken with a collection of Arthur Upfield, Ian Fleming and Agatha Christie in those wonderful pulp covers we enjoy so much.
Our table at the back of the shop. There was a fair bit going on back there and the drinks were lovely.

The next day we went to Bondi Beach on the bus. Bondi is a beautiful area and they have a lovely second hand book shop too. It is called Gertrude and Alice with a licensed cafe. I found an old book by Lily Brett I didn’t know about and snapped it up. I love her books.

photo: source unknown


One thing I have noticed is people with one cup of coffee, long gone, still sitting at the table scrolling through their phones. If this is you…and I’m sure it isn’t…. please remember these book shops stay open because the owners quite often sell coffee and food to supplement the business of keeping the shop open.  If you sit there all day looking at your phone, which is often the case, you are hurting the business of which you profess to love so much. Yes, look at the books and read stuff but be aware if there is a queue of others waiting to eat and drink, maybe you want to move along. Also if you’re alone, don’t sit at a table for four people. Common sense and courtesy goes a long ways to keeping these places open. I have noticed many book shops do not offer wi fi services. I can see why. The less considerate in our society would sit there all day. Ending my post with 2 cents of advice.
We went down to the corner for a drink as the book shop was very crowded. The beach is in the distance. 


Penguin-ing in a Couple of Sydney Bookshops

(Note:  I know photos aren’t loading. Problem with site. I will look at it when I get home.)


When my friend and I visit Sydney,  book shop visits are always on the agenda.  Theatre and book shops.  Monday night we saw the wonderfully brilliant play Muriel’s Wedding. The ticket price was worth the admission price just to see the costumes, stage set and choreography not to mention the story.

The next night saw us at the Belvoir Theatre in Surrey Hills at the play Atlantis. Atlantis is the journey through life of an American woman who needs to be loved and just can’t quite get it together. The play is surreal, funny, sad and very quirky. We enjoyed it.

Wednesday had us play free so we spent the day breakfasting at Darling Harbour, book shopping on Glebe Point Road home of Sapho second hand books and the wonderful indie bookshop of Glee.  We had brought the light rail from Darling Harbour to Glebe. Then onto Annandale by rail where my friend’s son’s family lives for a bit of afternoon tea and rest.

This morning dawned a bit later than usual. Walking around in Sydney’s heat (though Hobart is hotter this week) and up some steep Annandale hills had lights out last night to a couple of giggling by 9:00 pm. We just can’t do what we used to.

We went into the Queen Vic building this morning for breakfast then caught the bus to Bondi Beach. Bondi always has beautiful views of very rich homes and gorgeous blue water. I never tire of the view. Better still we found Gertrude and Alice’s bookshop and spent quite a bit of time there.

A bus ride back to the city for three hours of packing to go home this weekend and some air-conditioned relaxation after a big lunch.  We see the play Three Sister’s tonight at the Sydney Opera House by Chekhov. It begins at 8:00 pm and runs for three hours, including intermission so we need to rest up. I am looking forward to this Russian drama. We both have a good idea of the story and it should be interesting.  Just being in the Opera House on Sydney Harbour is enough for me. It is one of my favourite buildings in the world.

Tomorrow we head for our respective homes to collapse and rest up. Though my plane arrives in Hobart at 4:00 pm and I have to be at the Theatre Royal in Hobart by 8:00 pm to see Sleeping Booty, the pants send up of Tasmanian politicians and life in general.

A weekend collapse is then in the plan and lots of welcomes from over-worked Mr. Penguin and some very happy dogs.

Off to Sydney for a Week

The Penguin and I are going to hit the road, or better still air space, to get off this island for a week. A good friend and I have a tradition of a week in Sydney each year to give their theatre circuit a workout. We have three performances to attend. Not bad for a full five day visit.

I see the Spin Book has been selected by the Classics Club blog and it is number four which is:



I will pop my little Penguin classic into my bag and read it on the way up. More on that later. The book that has been picked is an essay from a writer I have no knowledge of so I will be doing a bit of research before doing the post once I read it and return home.

I might get some Sydney pics up for you as my camera is packed in my carry on and I will see what we dig up. We always visit bookshops, the beautiful fountain pen shop on the third floor of the Queen Vic building and want to explore the Tram Sheds area. Evidently home of the trams that were previously all over Sydney in the past, they are now shops and restaurants. As anything trendy, no doubt pricey but hopefully some of the history remains that might present some photo ops.

And of course there is always The Museum of Contempoary Art and roof top cafe overlooking the beautiful harbour.

So don’t go too far away as I’ll be back with more who knows what. Looking forward to it.


The Trauma Cleaner

Snip20171113_1Once again I find a book that is hyped up sensationally by a publisher in order to get sales only to find, in this case, it is much, much  more. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein is another example.

Peter is a young boy raised in a very poor, abusive family in Melbourne.  He was adopted and when other natural siblings came to the fore his life took a nosedive for the rest of his childhood. It wasn’t that good to begin with but the abuse he suffered from his parents, especially his alcoholic father was shocking.

As Peter grew older he really struggled with his gender identity. This young boy sought support from other family members, his school, his neighbours, and the nuns who lived nearby in a convent. None was forthcoming.

He eventually married Linda and had two sons. The story still has a very long way to go.

The book then discusses the ever growing feelings he struggled with as he eventually dealt with becoming a woman.  The story continues through the days related to his gender reassignment surgery, his downfall with drugs and alcohol. Society’s non acceptance of everything about him especially in 1960’s and 70’s Melbourne.

But Peter, now Sandra, is like a phoenix.  I think the revealing of how she came to overcome every situation thrown at her, and believe me it is not pretty, is very much a credit to this beautiful, compassionate person.

Sandra has a series of relationships and jobs and we delve into every one of them. Yes, the book does open when she is in the last half of her life and her job is as a trauma cleaner.  People who die, hoard, get murdered are all of her clients. This side of the book is also quite a psychological study of their  lives too.

The chapters swing back and forth from Peter’s life and then to Sandra’s life and as one life is told from now to then and the other comes up to meet it from childhood the reader really feels like they know this beautiful human.

The compassion Sandra has for the underdogs in her life is remarkable. Especially considering how terribly abused she was by every aspect of society.  I was amazed at the story of this one human being and how she kept getting up again and again and continually moved forward.

I didn’t think the story was at all sensational though her life probably would seem so to many readers. I also think many people could struggle with reading this book as it isn’t pretty. There is violence, filth, psychological disorder, rape- yes- everything that is ugly in the world. But there is more resilience, compassion, truth and honesty about Sandra and the life she endured.  The reader also becomes aware of the scars Sandra has and how she comes to terms with everything as she approaches an older age and continues to look for more comfort than what she has known.

The bureaucracy she dealt with over the years as a gay- transgender- married person, both as a man then as a woman highlights even more why all Australians need equal rights under the law no matter who they are.  As usual there is quite a lot of very inept bureaucracy in this country regarding the rights of children, marriage, lifestyle and relationships.

I would say to the Text Publishing company that I think you did a disservice to this author and Sandra in sensationalising the cover of this book. It is not about the gruesomeness of the  job she did. It is not about cleaning blood splattered walls of those who have met their end in violence.

It is much, much more.  Her story is so different to what we regularly read and struggle with in our own minds.  It teaches us to understand how a life such as this can not only survive, but succeed. Sandra not only contributes to society in such completeness but does so with a compassion many of us could only hope to achieve in our  own lifetimes.

I think it is an important book and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Peter and later on,  Sandra.

(The author spent three years working with Sandra and learning about various aspects of the law and stories related to transgender people in our society. There is a bibliography of resources at the end as well as acknowledgements of thanks)gardner


Classic Club Spin and Little Black Penguins

Snip20171110_1In 2015 Penguin Books published a series of 80 Little Black Classic Books to celebrate their 80th anniversary.  I bought the original set but see now more books have been added to the set. I believe they number 127 books. You can see the complete list here.

Of course I have looked through them but not read any of them.

This week the Classic Club 16th Spin has been announced and I thought I would use this set of books to get started reading them. I have picked the first 20 books of the series for the list. There are some I look forward to more than others but I will read the book chosen by the spin number and post a review of it, as required by the end of the year.

The list is as follows:

  1. Mrs. Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio
  2. As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  3. The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anon
  4. On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas DeQuincey
  5. Aphorisms on Love and Hate
  6. Traffic by John Ruskin
  7. Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling
  8. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
  9. Three Tang Dynasty Poets
  10. On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman
  11. A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees by Kentō
  12. How to Use Your Enemies by Baltasar Gracián
  13. The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats
  14. Woman Much Missed by Thomas Hardy
  15. Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant
  16. Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls by Marco Polo
  17. Galigual by Suetonius
  18. Jason and Medea by Apollonius
  19. Olalla by Robert Louis Stevenson
  20. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels

Snip20171110_1I don’t have firm favourites or ones I am dreading BUT …. if I had to choose I think my best pick might be no. 7 or 11 and the ones I might hesitate at would be no. 13 and 20. They sound a bit dry but hey! Who Knows!

The Spin will occur on Friday, November 17th.  Stay Tuned.Snip20171031_6