Life is a Bit of a Mish-Mash right now

coffee-shop-penguinWhen it rains it pours as the saying goes. We are leaving for Japan on 3rd of April for 2 1/2 weeks. I can’t wait to get on the plane and fly out of here. Life has been chaotic. Rule no. 1 in this household. If there is a three day holiday weekend or a trip coming up you can bet one of the pets will get sick. True to form we took our wheezing, lethargic 12 year old terrier Molly to the vet to find out her mitral valve in her heart is leaking. The beginning of heart failure.  Over several visits of x-rays and ultra-sounds it has been sorted out and medication prescribed. So far so good. Thank goodness for pet insurance.Snip20170324_7

One of our members in our senior’s club died suddenly due to complications of a long term illness and his funeral was yesterday.

Then the photo club I belong to opened their big exhibition down at the wharf last night and we all have two hour shifts to man the exhibit in upcoming hot weather in the glass building it is housed in.

At this stage I takeSnip20170324_4 a deck of cards and throw it in the air. Did I mention I slept on my hip wrong and am hobbling around the house with a pulled muscle? Okay, whinge over.

I just started Robin Dalton’s book Aunts Up the Cross an older Australian book published by Text Classics. It is most entertaining but more on that later. This will be a tick against Australian Women Writers challenge.

Our book club will be meeting next week to discuss Songs of a War Boy another Australian story of a child soldier in Sudan who eventually came to Australia, learned English, finished school and became a well known lawyer and a 2017 nominee for Australian of the Year.  An amazing tale.

I threw my hands up (I was out of cards) over the book The Underground Railroad by Col Whitehead. I know, everyone loves it but me. The story irritated me to no end and the violence was increasingly sickening and I thought a bit gratuitous at times. After reading War Boy then moving onto this was just too much. When I was younger I was fascinated about the horrors of slavery in the United States (in that I couldn’t believe how bad it had been) years ago and I read everything I could find about it and the Civil War. I just can’t read anymore about it now and the fictional train that actually goes underground but you can look up out of it and see buildings was the last straw. I know metaphors and symbolism but I am just over it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again but I am so sick of cruelty to everyone I just quit!

Disarm House, Kempton, Tasmania

I will scatter a few photos through here and suffice to say this blog may be erratic for the next month. I will post up some things of the trip after all the Penguin will be travelling and that is what this blog is about. Either traveling through countries or books.

I do have a lunch to attend today in a historic old town up the midlands of Tasmania today. Whisky tasting begins at 11:30 but I am not a whisky drinker and being on my motorbike it probably isn’t a good idea. Lunch should be nice

Our Play Reading class finishes Waiting for Godot this next Tuesday. I have enjoyed the reading of this play very much.

So enjoy the scattered photos, be kind to one another and I’ll be back before long.  I must run now, the dog just came out of the kitchen with kitty litter on his nose.

The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis

A French Translation

Snip20170314_1The Guardian says:

From his earliest childhood, Eddy exhibits all the classic symptoms of his stigmatised condition; his hands over-gesture, his voice is too high and he instinctively loathes the food, sexuality and clothes of his peers. In consequence, he is beaten, abused and terrorised. As a “faggot” or “homo” he is the lowest of the low; lower than women, lower than even an Arab, Jew or Algerian – everyone in the book, young Eddy included, is casually racist. Nothing equips him to protect himself from the shame and terror that are his constant companions, and – not surprisingly – he lives and breathes unqualified self-loathing. He makes repeated attempts to assume the proper masculine role that his culture requires of him, and every time he fails, he assumes the fault is entirely his.

The author is a 28 year old French man who has based this book on his own experiences. It is sometimes a difficult read because Eddy just puts up with so much.

I loved this book. I really loved it. I think it is the best book I have read this year. This boy has such a miserable family and school life and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it but survive. But Eddy does more than survive. He eventually escapes this life but his childhood makes one wonder what on earth is wrong with people. Why can’t they just open their eyes and their mind and quit being so damn ignorant all the time . This book will create rage in the reader. I think it should be required reading in every high school in the world.

The book is extremely well written. A point is never belaboured, the facts are simply told. It is interesting to see how he copes with everything. I don’t think I could watch a filmcoffee-shop-penguin of this book. The reader is always on the side of Eddy and we always want what is best for him. I am not going to say anything else about him.

If you want more information about this book before you read it you can read the
Guardian’s review of it here.   I think this is what literature is all about. Suspending ignorance in the name of love for the character. The real boy who exists behind the story and others like him.

This Sweet Sickness- Patricia Highsmith

Snip20170314_2I really enjoyed this book. It was not really a thriller but the suspense kept me turning pages. David Kelsey is a scientist. He used to date Annabelle but he moved in order to get a higher paying job and she married someone else. But…David is obsessed with Annabelle. Although she is now married he completely ignores that tiny fact and behaves as if they are engaged.

I don’t want to say too much about this book because I don’t want to spoil it.  David keeps a house outside of the town he works in. He tells people at the boarding house he is visiting his mother in a nursing home each weekend but he is really going to the house he built for Annabelle. He takes on another name and lives as another who is married to Annabelle. His fantasies and conversations with her in his weekend house keep him going. It is beginning to tell she has little interest in him.

The entire story is how he becomes more and more obsessed with her, the conflicts with several people that arise from his obsession and how it is all resolved at the end.

He becomes sicker and sicker with this obsession. The suspenseful part of the book is how other people, namely his friends, Wes (who has a wife he can’t stand to be with) and Effie ()who is completely in love with David) interfere in his plans. Every time he plans something one of them seems to crop up.  David begins with his fantasy life with Annabelle and then a particular event happens. This changes the entire direction of the story and the continued interference of thSnip20170315_1ose around him cause the suspense. You are always wondering, ‘how in the world is this going to end?’.

I think Patricia Highsmith is a brilliant story teller and I have not yet come across another author who can weave a story into the knots that she does. Last year I saw the play The Talented Mr. Ripley but have not read the book. I also saw the film Carol but have not read the corresponding book Ms. Highsmith wrote. Mr. Penguin read Strangers on a Train and I have yet to read that but I do remember the Alfred Hitchcock film. I wish this was a movie because I would love to see how they do it.

I would love to know what others thing of this book. I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday Trivia and A Quick Review

coffee-shop-penguinThis week has been a lovely movie going and reading week with a bit of other stuff thrown in. I have seen two movies since I last wrote. Hidden Figures, the story of the three African-American mathematicians who worked at NASA at the time of Alan ShephSnip20170227_3erd’s first orbit around the earth.  I remember those days so well. They were exciting times and I enjoyed this movie very much. I thought it was well done and I loved the actors who played the main characters.Though Kevin Costner looked so old.

I went to hear Rosalie Martin, Tasmania’s Australian of the Year speak on International Women’s day about her voluntary project she has been doing at Risdon Prison teaching literacy skills. As a speech pathologist I have known Rosie for many years as a colleague and she spoke of ways to establish ‘kind communication’ when speaking to others or teaching her autism students and prisoners. Speech pathologists have a great deal of knowledge of phonological awareness and meta-linguistics related to literacy development. Many teachers have yet to realise this and I remember my own struggles with teachers over the years about their students who weren’t developing communication skills or literacy developments.  The speech was Snip20170314_3motivational and inspiring. Rosie has now completed a criminology degree and combines the two areas very successful. Most interesting.

Saturday I took myself to the State Cinema in North Hobart to see the film, David Stratton, A Cinematic Life. If you are an Australian you will most likely have followed film reviews by David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz  over the years on SBS Snip20170314_4and later ABC. David Stratton has viewed over 42, 800 plus movies since he was 12 years old and has card catalogue files and notebooks with reviews and comments about everyone. His personal archive in his home was stunning. I could have watched an entire film about that. If you are a follower of Australian film then run, don’t walk to see this film. I could easily sit through it again and the clips of so many Australian films were wonderful. I was also proud to know that Australia produced the first feature length film in the world in 1906. It was about the bushranger Ned Kelly.  Hollywood did not exist at the time and the clip was shown at the film. Just so interesting.

Snip20170314_1Books I am reading or have finished:

I finished the End of Eddy by Edouard Louis. It is a French translation of his growing up in poverty in France as a gay boy and having no idea what is actually happening and why he is the way he is. I will write separately about this book. I loved it very much and so far it is the best book I have read this year. It should be required reading in every high school in the world.

I finished Patricia Highsmith’s book This Sweet Sickness which I also loved. I will do a separate review on this book quite soon also. I  loved it. She writes very well of one man’s obsession with a woman he loves and how he descends into complete madnes. A very complex love story.

Snip20170314_2Today I am off in our 31 C degree heat to my play reading class where we continue to read Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. 

I am enjoying the story very much. One of my classmates taught at Sydney University and he is very experienced in literature and drama. He supplied us a wonderful introduction to this play. I hadn’t realised it was part of the plays of the absurd. It really is very funny. So many truths in it also told in a very circular fashion.

Last week was most comforting with books and films. I always get a great deal of satisfaction from these two areas of my life. I didn’t follow the world news anymore than to listen to the headlines each morning on the ABC radio just to see if our seven continents continue to exist. They do, so I continue to distract myself with more pleasant things.

I’ll be back soon with another Tuesday trivia and the book reviews of the previously mentioned books.

What do you do for comfort in these politically turbulent times?



Classics Club Spin No. 15

The Classics Club has announced it is time for the 15th Spin (here). I did one early last year but have not done one since. Each blogger lists 20 books and numbers them accordingly. The book must then be read and reviewed on your blog by 1 May, 2017.

However I am going to change one little thing this time. I am only going to list 10 books. They are ten books I have had on my shelf for quite awhile. They are also quite short books. I want to get all ten of them read quite soon so I can either pass them on or sell them. They are TBR books I want to exit the house. I am trying to get the number of books off my shelves.  I know it is an impossible task as I then buy ones to replace it but believe it or not I am slowing down. I am going to concentrate on these 10 over the next few months.

I will be travelling in April and as they are short I can read them and leave them behind with the Book Phantom note in it with its email address. I think that would be fun too in order to see where they end up.

So here are the books:


1. and 11.     Fly Away Peter by David Malouf:   For three very different people brought together by their love for birds, life on the Queensland coast in 1914 is the timeless and idyllic world of sandpipers, ibises and kingfishers. But the WWI is beginning. Two of the young men are drawn to the war. It is a story of the continuities of nature vrs. the obscenities of war. I have not read this before and it does sound interesting.

2.and 12.     The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers:  An American gothic tale of love and betrayal in the deep south of the USA. The story of Miss Amelia, a very unconventional woman. 6 feet, 2 inches, strong and self reliant, married to Marvin Macy, the meanest and most handsome man in town and then she threw him out after ten days. Her tale running a store alone when a strutting, hunchbacked dwarf, comes to town, steals her heart and transforms the store into a buzzing cafe. When her rejected husband returns a bizarre love triangle ensues and the battle of the sexes begins.  Need I say more? I hope to read this soon. Sounds like fun.


3. and 13. Mozart’s Journey to Prague by Eduard Mörikes  Mozart is on his way to Prague for the opening of Don Giovanni. He steals an orange from a Bohemian family’s garden on the way and gets caught by a furious gardener. When the gardener’s family discovers who he is he is forgiven and welcomed by the family who have adored his music. Sounds like fun.

4. and 14. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn


5. and 15.  On Listening by Martin Flanagan:  Part of the Curiosity Lecture Series, Penguin Special, non – fiction. A poetic and eloquent edition on the power of listening.

6. and 16. The Village By The Sea by Anita Desai:  A small fishing village near Bombay is still ruled by age old seasonal rhythms. Hari and Lila have lived in Thul all their lives, but their family is now desperately down on their luck. Their father drinks; their mother is seriously ill and there is no money to keep them fed and clothed. This is their tale. A tale from India.


7. and 17.   The Guilty Party and Other Stories by O. Henry:  I have always loved O. Henry so looking forward to this. A book of 11 short stories.

8. and 18.  The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin:  I have been reading a great deal in the media lately that 1984 by Orwell and this book by Baldwin are more relevant than ever regarding the political climate in the world. The blurb on the back states, “Reviewing this short but powerful study of the Negro problem in America.”  A good book to revisit.


9. and 19.   How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel:  This is one of the Central European Classics published by Penguin in a set. Written in 1974, it is Ota Pavel’s magical memoir of his childhood in Czechoslovakia. Fishing with his father and his Uncle Prosek- the two finest fishermen in the world- he takes a peaceful pleasure from the rivers and ponds of his country…until the Nazi’s invade.

10. and 20. The Railway Station Man by Jennifer Johnston:  Published 1984, The railway station had been abandoned and decaying since the line was closed. But when the strange Englishman arrived, the war hero with a ruined body and scarred mind, he and young Damian Sweeney began to restore the old station with meticulous care, believing it could live again. Helen Cuffe, widowed, desultory and detached from his disapproving son, looks on…. hmmm.

Well you have the list. After writing out those descriptions I want to read all of them right away. So different from one another. I like the idea of the various countries these stories represent over a considerable span of time.

Stay tuned for Monday is the day that the Spin Number is announced.  I, for one, am looking forward to it. snip20170126_5



If you are young and love horses….

(A review for Storey Publications.)

I requested a few books from Net Galley for young people and a couple for adults. It is quite fun to see what the publishers are offering.


I was accepted to review the book Wild for Horses compiled by Storey Publishers. When I was young I was one of those girls who was horse mad. We all know of them. I adored them and had pictures of horses all over my bedroom wall. My parents finally bought me a horse when I was about 12 or 13 because they wanted to keep me away from boys.

Little did they know when I reached 9th grade I met my future husband in a saddle club. We still love horses but don’t own any.

I would have loved this book.


Storey publishers has this blurb about the book.

This one-of-a-kind book of horse posters and flash cards is packed with stunning images and essential information. Two dozen posters of all-time favorite breeds like Arabian, Shetland Pony, and Lipizzan show off the beauty of these majestic creatures, and kids can show them off, too: these pull-out pages are ready to hang on a bedroom wall, with two additional 12 x 30 posters that capture horses’ grandeur. Finally, each of the 24 punch-out flash cards include a pocketsize photo and fun facts. With both magnificent, ready-to-hang images and portable breed profiles, this unique package offers total immersion for horse-loving kids.  (Children’s non-fiction)


I think young horse lovers, from maybe age 8 or 9 to about 12 or 13 will love these posters and pages. The photography is beautiful featuring various breeds of horses. The horses also feature in various jobs that they perform.

At my age I still enjoyed the photos as they are beautiful. Horses are stunning animals.


The information pages are short blurbs of facts scattered within geometric covered pages of bright colours. I think in this age of short text messages and attention spans the kids are probably more likely to read these snippets than a long narrative on the various breeds  of horses and their uses. (Which of course is sad but hey knowledge is good in all its forms.)


If you have a horse mad child in your family I think this book might be an addition to the collection of books and magazines about horses I know they already own.


o be published 3 March, 2017 Price around 12.98 US.

“Love my horses.”

Tuesday Trivia and a Quick Review

snip20170227_2This year seems to be sailing by. I had hoped it would be slower than 2016 but it doesn’t seem that way.

Last night I finished this book. I read it quickly because I could not put it down. This man can write. This man can think and his education through literature, science and medicine was astounding.  Paul Kalanithi trained for 10 years to become a neurosurgeon. Just as his career is to take off he dies of lung cancer at age 37. The pages of the book cover his journey to the point of diagnosis (Part I) and then the journey of the illness (Part II). His wife writes the final chapter.

He studied literature and talks about the relation between literature, death and science and how he applies it to his own life. I reread several passages. He gets married to another doctor and they have a daughter. His life ends eight months after hers begins.

The book I am referring to is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I sat in my chair a few moments after I closed the last page and just could not move. A lot has been written about this book so I won’t add much to what others have written. Suffice to say I loved it.  Whoever coined the phrase, “Only the good die young” knew what they were talking about. This man did so much with the 37 years given to him.

After all of the education, training and work he did for the good of human kind why on earth did this have to happen to him?  He said himself the chance of a 37 year old man getting lung cancer is less than .001 percent. Why him? The injustice of the situation just does not make sense at all. I watch the news in the evening and see the people who murder, maim and make life a misery and they seem to live forever. Again I ask why him?

The cover states when one finishes this book the reader will be left thinking about it for a long time. It is almost traumatising. I loved this book.

It seems this week will be busy. Tuesday I am celebrating the birthday at the cafe at the Tasmanian Museum cafe. A nice quiet cafe we will sit on the deck surrounding the courtyard.

snip20170227_3Wednesday night we are joining friends at the State Cinema to see the film Hidden Figures about the three African American women mathematicians that worked for NASA in its early days.

I will not watch the Academy Awards. It is all politics and I find it most exasperating. In my humble opinion it isn’t based on the stories told but the people who are known. I prefer the independent films to the Hollywood blockbusters most days.

The weather is looking good for the week. The mid to high 20’s C for the entire week (70’s to 80’s F). Hopefully the Penguin will join up with a motorbike ride going on.

Saturday night we are riding in a leukaemia fundraiser beginning at 6 pm and ending at a pub arousnip20170223_2nd midnight. (Don’t worry, I never drink alcohol when I know I’ll be on my bike). The bikes will be decorated with lights and ridden through town. I think there will be a lot of bikes. Stay tuned for that. It’s part of the Light Up the Night Leukemia Fundraiser.
So again I think this week is going to sail by before I have even adjusted to Monday. Hope all of you have a great week. Let me know what you are reading this week and what are your week’s plan?

Oops, I pushed a wrong button so guess this is a Monday Trivia review instead of a Tuesday one (before any of you wise crackers jump in ).