Just quietly, this is a great bunch of books


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday focuses on books that have received fewer than 2000 ratings on Goodreads. Hmmm… Clearly I’m hanging out with the unpopular kids because LOTS of the books I’ve read in the last few years fit into this category. Here are some favourites – Continue reading

The best book soundtracks begin with ABBA


I have a very, very deep love for ABBA. I won’t try to explain it because if you’re not an ABBA fan, you’ll never understand (and why waste my time when I could be singing along to excellent tracks such as Bang a Boomerang?).

I’m not sure if I’m doing this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic right, but I figure if Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid can pose for a photo in tin foil, then anything goes. So, I’ve taken ten ABBA songs and matched them (very loosely) with ten books.

1. My Love, My LifeWilful Disregard by Lena Andersson Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from All the Birds, Singing to The Last Banquet


It’s time again for my favourite meme. Based on the concept of six degrees of separation, Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith have created #6DEGREES, where bloggers share links between books in six moves. Check out the rules if you want to play along.

We begin with Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing,  this year’s winner of Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin. I haven’t read it. Yet. I know, I always read the Miles Franklin winner… Anyway, it doesn’t stop me from participating and my first link is to Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany. Obviously there are birds in both titles, but both books are also Australian prize-winners (Tiffany won the inaugural Stella Prize for Mateship). Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from The Bell Jar to The Map that Changed the World


We begin with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Shamefully, it’s a book that I read (*ahem* skimmed) during high school and one that I haven’t revisited. I really should give it the attention it so obviously deserves. Continue reading

Top Ten Books for 2013

top ten books 2013

It’s that time of year (the last reading day of 2013) where I pick my favourite and bests. The first nine are in no particular order: Continue reading

Foodies Read Challenge – Wrap-up


Despite being focused on food, the Foodies Read Challenge provided quite a bit of diversity. I read books that included cannibalism, a book that was a thinly disguised memoir, and stories that hinged around death. Some of these books made me hungry. Others, not at all (pickled wolf’s heart anyone?). Continue reading

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

Last week, I described Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet as fluff dressed up in a pre-revolutionary French costume. That’s not to imply anything negative because this book is a pure delight – every page plump with historical detail, surprising plot twists and terrific writing to boot.

The story begins with a young boy, Jean-Marie d’Aumout, eating beetles by the side of the road. He’s a penniless orphan but by the grace of having a ‘d’ in his name is distinguished as nobility and sent to a military academy for schooling. From there unfolds a series of adventures and we see Jean-Marie as many things – soldier, diplomat, loyal friend, spy, lover, scientist and, above all, a chef. For it is Jean-Marie’s pursuit of culinary perfection and the need to taste everything that underpins every twist and turn in this gripping saga.

Some historical fiction can get bogged down in detail, the author trying to prove the thoroughness of their research. Not the case here. Grimwood’s prose is authentic but light – take the romp of  Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, the debauchery of Maurice Lever’s Sade: A Biography and the quirkiness of Michael Allin’s Zarafa, and you’ll get the gist of The Last Banquet. Descriptions of life in court (the Palace of Versailles) and the feeling of social unrest are woven throughout the text. Of the nobility, Jean-Marie says –

“We disgusted Europe with our degeneracy. We disgusted ourselves.”

and of Versailles –

“…I’m left in a room that stinks so fiercely from a nearby latrine that no amount of gilded cherubs or paintings of pink-nippled shepherdesses can make good the smell.” Continue reading

Well that’s pissed me off…


So I’m half-way through Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet. It’s fluff, dressed up in a pre-revolutionary French costume. I’m loving it.

And then I read a particular review (which I will not name*). The review is jam-packed with spoilers. In fact, the ‘review’ is essentially a retelling of the entire book with a few flimsy thoughts on style tacked on the end. It is a supremely lazy review and I’m cross with myself for having read it. But it did get me thinking – what do I want in a book review? Continue reading

They should make a movie of that…


First book, then movie. I miss lots of new-release movies because I haven’t read the book. In fact, my chief-movie-going-pal often gives me advance warning of movies she wants to see with a simple “Read the book now because the movie is out in a month.” I have lovely, considerate friends.

Even though the book is nearly always better than the movie (nearly), it doesn’t stop me imagining the movie version of books I’ve loved. Some books just scream ‘screenplay please’. This week’s Top Ten topic, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, is Books I Would Love To See As A Movie.

1. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – the first thing I thought when I finished this glorious book last week was – Film. Stat. Continue reading