Monday, March 30, 2015

Aussie Author Challenge - Book 3

Another participant of a book challenge I'm tackling described a different book saying: "...everything I look for in historical fiction: characters I like and admire, a storyline that holds my attention, and new details and facts about a time period I enjoying studying."

I stole that description because it worked so well for this book, All That I Am by Anna Funder.  Winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Award (an annual literary prize awarded to "a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases".), I had high expectations.

Primarily set in pre-WWII, this is a fictional account based on a lot of factual people and events centered around the lives of politically active refugees that are anti-Nazi.  Don't google while you read. There are that many real people and actual events involved (I learned the outcome of a main character; didn't google anymore until I was finished!). This book includes: Strong women, political activists, plots, murders, intimidation, conviction, betrayal, lovers, family, friends, colleagues, mental illness, personal sacrifice, and more. 

It is written from two different narrators' points of view, and the time frames bounce around quite a bit. It was confusing for a while ... I was starting to get really frustrated.  Somewhere the light turned on, and I just fell knee deep in the story. If you like historical fiction, I recommend.

I read this book as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2015:

Since moving to Australia, I've discovered bands and music that I love as well as books and authors that I knew nothing about before moving here.  Why not join a challenge that promotes those discoveries?  (Because I'm already in three other challenges, and I host one of them)  I can do it!
I'm diving in to this challenge with the hopes of reaching "Kangaroo" status.  I'm really liking my list, so I'm happy to find yet another the challenge.
– Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you;
– At least 6 fiction and at least 2 non-fiction, and at least 2 titles first published in 2014 or 2015.

Female authors:
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Frantic by Katherine Howell
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (published 2014)
Girl, Defective by Simonne Howell

Male authors:
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (published 2014)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley (non-fiction) - Completed 10 Feb 2015

Authors new to me:
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Strange Places by Will Elliott (non-fiction)
All That I Am by Anna Funder  - Completed 29 March 2015
Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher - Completed 11 March 2015
Do you like reading historical fiction??

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots #18

My 17 year old stepdaughter driving me home - she's a surprisingly attentive driver. 

Put my purse down, string caught on the zipper, hear a rip, and realize my armpit has a new breathing hole. Wonderful. 

Hot bath, candle, book, wine...all important contributions to my evenings. 

At the butcher, Liam was checking out some "BUTT". He thought this was pretty funny. 

It takes a kill a cockroach. 

Curried risotto. It may not look like much, but it's tasty. 

Brothers bonding

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Favorites Five vol. 6

Hello, Friday.  Nice to see you again.  Although, I work on Saturdays too.  But, I have Mondays off.  So, Saturday is really my Friday.  But, you don't really care about that...and that has nothing to do with this Friday Favorites Link-Up.

1.  Favorite punctuation post:

 2. Favorite wedding story of the week: Ed Sheeran surprises lucky couple by singing Thinking Out Loud at their wedding 

3.  Favorite funny:

4.  Favorite blog post about a fur baby Have You Met Our Cat Eddie?  It's a link-up hosted by food, booze, and baggage.  I just saw it yesterday, and I don't think I can organize myself enough to write posts about all five of my fur babies in time to participate.  But, that got me thinking...if I hosted a link-up called "Meet the Felines" and another called "Meet the Canines" would you participate?  I'd love to do it, and I'd love to meet your furry family members.  (I'd credit Mariah for the idea.)  Let me know, and I'll organize for it to happen in the next couple of weeks.  (Please, say YES!)
Oh, and if some of you have another family pet that isn't a canine or feline, but you'd like to participate, I can come up with another cute name too.

5.  And, in honor of The Breakfast Club turning 30 (gasp!), my favorite Breakfast Club character gifs

Want to see more Friday Favorites?  Check them out here:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Band Splits from an 80s + 90s Kid

Alright, folks.  Many reading this may know me personally, so you know my age.  Others may have read this blog long enough to know my age.  Newbies...well, you're going to figure it out soon enough (if you read this post). I was born in the 70s, grew up in the 80s, graduated high school and university in the 90s.  This post is from that fangirl's perspective.

Big news hit the airwaves today in the world of music fandom.  One of the members of the overwhelmingly popular and successful boyband One Direction is leaving the band to try to be a "normal" twenty-something.  It shocked some, it saddened others, but all One Direction mega fans are probably feeling something about this news.
It got me thinking about me as a musical fanatic.  Specifically, the bands that I loved most as a youngster (ok...admittedly, I still love the music from all the bands listed here).  My personal "Big 6" have experienced their own band splits.  These were the bands whose posters were hung on my walls (and door and ceiling), who filled my head and heart with anthems, that I've seen in many of tours (with a variety of line-ups), and still remain some of my go-to music.

It all started with KISS.  When I was 3 or 4 (yes, this young because I know it was when my aunt was a Senior in high school, I know the year my aunt graduated, so I can do the math), I was introduced and fascinated by KISS.  I remember the white 8-track tape going into my aunt's orange 8-track player.  It was KISS Destroyer.  I was drawn into the world of rock 'n' roll.  I asked for a Paul Stanley doll and got it.  KISS has very publicly experienced band splits, break-ups, reunions, non-reunions, and even a member's death (not an original member, but a beloved member).  There have been he said/he said stories, love shared and lost, feuds, and jumbles of stories that no one really knows the truth of it all.  The original duo of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are still there with current (longtime) members Tommy Thayer (in Ace Frehley's make-up) and Eric Singer (in Peter Criss' make-up).  I was thrilled to see the original four put differences aside and join each other for the induction into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame.

Judge me, if you wish.  I'm not ashamed.  My love for Bon Jovi is long-lasting and eternal.  In recent times, I have suffered some heartbreak because of it.  Originally, the one that most all remember, is a five piece band of Jersey boys.  In the mid 90s, the original bass player was excused of his duties.  I admit it.  This didn't hurt me so much, as Alec was my least favorite band member.  They hired another bass player to play on albums and tour, but he doesn't get to be in band photos.  So, four key members remained for another...oh...twenty-ish years.  Last year, during a world tour, original member, beloved to fans, seemingly right-hand man and song-writing partner to Jon, Richie Sambora stopped touring with Bon Jovi.  The tour carried on and completed with success.  In recent months, the official word came that Richie has left the band.  This hurt my heart.  This hurt many Jovi fans.  The band will never feel complete without Richie...but I will never stop loving this band with or without him.  Now, there are three still standing...

Motley Crue - it is no wonder with the debauchery experienced and egos that exist that this band as had a few disagreements.  These bad boys knew how to party, have known their fair share of ladies, know how to live the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and have known the band split cycle.  The original boys split with their fair-haired front man, Vince Neil.  They released an album and toured with replacement, John Corabi.  It was actually good stuff, but it wasn't Motley Crue.  Vince came back...more touring...another split.  This time drummer, Tommy Lee left.  They toured with a female drummer.  That didn't work at all.  The boys finally refocused, got back together, made some more music, and toured successfully.  Their farewell tour ends where it all began - in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve 2015.

The kings (or queens) of sleaze glam pretty boy rock - Poison - dabbled with a band member leaving.  One of the few band member splits where most agree what the problem was - Bret & C.C.'s egos weren't working well together, a fist fight happened, and guitarist, C.C. was out.  They recorded one album (some say the best Poison album) and toured.  The magic of the original four came back together when fans started showing up for re-united, re-juvenated hair band packaged tours in the early 2000s.  (I may have to got *one* or *two* of these.)  When Bret feels like touring and the others don't; OR when Bret feels like getting all the money and not sharing; OR when promoters don't want to pay for all of Poison but will pay for one member, then Bret Michaels tours solo. I respect the fact that he doesn't try to put himself out there as "Poison" when it's only him as a member (unlike *cough* Axl *cough*), although he plays a lot of Poison songs at those gigs.

Did someone mention Axl?  Oh, I did.  Absolutely, part of my Big 6 is/was Guns 'N' Roses.  Most rock fans and music critics agree that Appetite for Destruction is a gift from the rock gods.  Those songs personify the essence of the grit, grime, spit, sweat, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.  Too bad drugs, egos, more drugs, and I suspect some possible mental illness got in the way of this band continuing to make sweet music together.  Axl owns the rights of the name (to the unhappiness of other band members) and continues to tour as GNR.  I am not happy about this.  Tour as Axl Rose...your name is big enough to draw crowds.  Slash makes new music.  Slash tours as Slash.  Slash draws crowds.  Slash still plays GNR songs that he had a significant part in writing.  So, Axl, tour, make music, play GNR songs, but don't try to tell me that you are GNR.

Van Halen, oh Van Halen.  To me, Van Halen was, is, and will always be Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony. That being said Van Halen/Hagar was probably one of the most successful frontman replacement stories in the history of rock music.  Anyone remember the third lead singer attempt with Gary Cherone?  Yea, it was bad.  Now, when VH presents themselves as a band, they've cut Michael Anthony, brought back DLR, and inserted Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie's son).  He's a talented young man, but when I've seen (many) shows since they've reunited, I miss Mike. 

Of my Big 6 - three bands are in the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame - the duo of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora are in as songwriters - Motley Crue should be (yes, I'm biased) but don't expect to be - Poison shouldn't...but should not be disregarded.  I have many other band loves from this time that I could have talked about (ex: Aerosmith without Joe Perry), and I specifically did NOT include bands that experienced a death (Def Leppard losing Steve Clark).

For all massive music fans who have experienced a band split, a band break-up, or a loss of a member...I have felt your pain.  You can continue to change and evolve with your favorite bands (and band members that leave and involve themselves in other projects).  The magic may escape, or it may feel different, but there can be new magic found. 

P.S. Good luck Zayn

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Helpful Tips Before You Visit Your Local Jewellery Store or Watch Repair Shop

(Yes, I spelled that "Jewellery"; I bounce between American English and Australian English; judge me all you want.)
My guy made this - how good is he??
For the last five-ish years, I have been working at my guy's shop.  Quick rundown: My guy is a manufacturing jeweller and watchmaker; his dad is a watchmaker; they are business partners.  My guy primarily makes, repairs, restores, and redesigns jewellery.  His dad repairs and restores watches.  I pretty much do everything else.  We have one part-time employee.  We are a small family business.  We pride ourselves on that.  Between the three of us, we have over 75+ years in the jewellery trade and customer service industries.

Working in a retail shop, we get all kinds of customers walking through the doors from the sweetest and kindest to the rudest and dumbest...and everything in between.  Admittedly, there were some things that I was ignorant about or just hadn't been in the market myself to research or know about watches and jewellery.  So, I've listed some things that might help you be a more informed customer and get better service from your local jeweller and/or watchmaker.


  • When your watch battery dies, get it changed at a proper shop preferably with a tradesman on site.  Do not believe the marketing machine of branded watches that tell you that you must take it back to them; they only want more of your money and usually charge you more than a local shop does.  Also, if they have to send it off site for repair, usually you are charged more (due to courier and processing fees).  
  • When your watch battery dies, get it changed right away.  Some people leave their watches in a drawer or on a shelf for months before taking it in for a battery change.  (I used to do this myself.)  Old/dead batteries can leak and corrode if left too long in the watch.  
  • If your watch is 50m, 100m, 200m (5atm, 10atm, 20atm) water resistant, pay the small extra fee for a water resistance test.  (We charge $18 for a water resistance test; we've heard of businesses charging $60 for the test itself. My personal opinion, that is over-charging, but I'd rather pay for good service that is done correctly, than not have it done well.) If the test is performed, they should be responsible against any water entry for a set period of time.
  •  Most watch batteries last approximately two to two and a half years.  Yes, some are designed  to last longer, but if you are getting two and half years battery life, you're good.
  • Do not go into a small local store and spend a lot of time with the sales associate asking product knowledge questions and trying on a lot of watches if you intend to go straight to the internet to search for the watch at a cheaper price.  It's rude.
  • Many old watches that you may inherit have the possibility to be repaired or restored.  You may have to pay a little bit of extra money, but if it is a sentimental piece, it may be worth it (depending on the brand and/or movement or spare parts that are needed, a full service on an older/vintage watch may cost somewhere in the $120 - $750 range).


  •  If something is priced too good to be true, it probably is.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • Quality jewellery pieces and labor are going to cost money.  
  • When working within a budget, find a jeweller that you can talk to and trust.  They can and will give you options to achieve what you want at a sensible budget (based on what you want and can afford).  
  • Time and personal contact is valuable.  If you want personal time and personal attention to your jewellery item, be willing to know there is value in that. 
  • Do not go into a small local store and spend a lot of time with the sales associate asking product knowledge questions, trying on a lot of jewellery items, and taking pictures of items if you intend to go straight to the internet to search for that item at a cheaper price.  It's rude.  It IS a part of this business for people to look at different items, try on different styles, and consider their purchase.  But, don't be discourteous and use a person that is providing quality customer service, if your intention is to buy it from the cheapest online store.
  • Remember the six above rules for jewellery purchases, and you will be ahead of the game.
Jewellery is a little more difficult to write in just 5 or 6 bullet points, because there are a lot of variables to consider depending on why you need a jeweller.  I could list things to know if you're buying a diamond; things to consider if you're buying a gift for someone; things to prepare yourself for during a redesign or custom made piece, things to know when getting something repaired, the importance of sincerity, integrity, and communication between client and jeweller...and the list goes on.

All jewellery pieces in pictures were designed and created by POLA Jewellers.

If anyone in my blogosphere has any questions about this topic, don't hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ten Books from Childhood/Teen Years That I'd Re-Visit
Every Tuesday, bookworms unite at "The Broke and the Bookish" for a link-up of top ten book related items.  This week was "Ten Books from our Childhood/Teen Years that We'd Like to Re-Visit".  I'm writing this without much thought...just what comes to me right now, so let's see how this plays out...

1.  The Poky Little Puppy by - This is the book that I remember loving the most in early childhood.  I liked puppies.  I probably could relate to a poky little puppy that got distracted by all the things.  I remember reading it or it being read to me over and over again. I even had a 45 record that played on a record player that I could read along to. This was my most beloved book at the time. 

2. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls - The first book to make me sob.  The end.

3. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson -A beautiful friendship sprinkled with some creative imaginations and more tears.  This is one fine book.

4.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - A few months ago, I read this for a book challenge that wanted us to read something written before we were born.  I read it as a child, I read it in my early 20s for a Children's Lit course, and I read it again a few months ago.  It gets better each time I read it.

5.  The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - I remember reading this in high school and truly enjoying it (not feeling like I had to read it for school).  That being said I don't remember exactly why I liked it.  I can't tell you much of the story line; I can't tell you what I thought of the lead character.  So, this is one I will definitely re-visit.  

6.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding - This is one of those books that I cheated during school.  Well, I didn't cheat exactly.  I just read the Cliff's Notes and listened intently during class to get the gist of the story.  I think as an adult, I would appreciate the dynamics of the story so much more.  Another to definitely re-visit.

7. Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews - Still to this day, I enjoy reading somewhat emotionally distressing or disturbing books.  This one may have started that for me.  I'd like to re-visit and see if it is as messed up as I remember.

8.  Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry -  I went through a period of time in my teens when I read a lot of true crime.  Yes, my mother was worried about my fascination with serial killers.  But, I wasn't fascinated with only the killer.  I was/am fascinated with the crime, the investigation, the prosecution, the justice, and the mind behind the killer.  This one has all of that.

9.  Hammer of the Gods by Stephen Davis - To this day, I still read and enjoy a lot of rock biographies.  This one was my first.  I read it as a teenager, a somewhat naive teenager and definitely many of the stories were quite scandalous to read.  From the stories of groupies, debauchery, and Jimmy Page's interest in the occult, my eyes were opened a little wider to the excess of rock 'n' roll.  I need to read this again.

10.  Rules of Prey by John Sandford - I've read every piece of fiction that John Sandford has written, and it began with this my Senior year of high school.  A bad ass detective hunts a madman killer.  Most of his books follow the same premise, and I've read all 20-30 or more of them.  Probably should go back and visit this one to remember when I was first introduced to Lucas Davenport (aforementioned bad ass detective).

Would any of these be on your list?  What are some books from your childhood or teenage years that you'd like to re-visit?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Never Have I Ever...

I've seen this topic used for posts on other blogs.  I even saw a link-up using this theme a few months ago.  I keep meaning to join the fun.  I forget.  Or something else comes up.  Then, I saw this video and had such a giggle, I thought I'd add my list to the "Never Have I Ever" game.

Never Have I or seen any of the Harry Potter series.  
(Not interested.  Don't try to convince me.)

Never Have I Ever...been to New York City. 
(I love to travel, I want to go, I assumed I'd get there, but it just hasn't happened.)

Never Have I Ever...shot a gun.
(I'm from Texas.  Most would assume I'd shot a gun.  I haven't.)

Never Have I a full mile.
(I hate to run.  Psychologically, I can't do it.  I start to tell myself: "This is too hard", "I can't breathe", "I'm breathing really loudly", "I'm going to die"...things like that, and I just can't do it.)
Never Have I Ever...seen an episode of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Revenge, Scandal, Orange is the New Black, Gilmore Girls, House of Cards, or The Good Wife.
(All shows other bloggers talk about.  I'm so out of touch when it comes to TV viewing.)

Never Have I Ever...liked Ben Stiller in a movie.
(We all have that *one* actor or actress who gets on our nerves, right?  Ben Stiller is the one for me.)

Never Have I Ever...seen The Sound of Music.
(I know.  Weird.  I've seen My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Hello Dolly, The King and I, but never The Sound of Music.)

Never Have I Ever...been responsible for a child under 5 years old for a 24 hour period of time.
(I don't have children of my own.  I never babysat for any length of time.  I didn't keep my nieces or nephew over night until they were older.  I'm an inexperienced child carer.)

Never Have I Ever...eaten a Cadbury egg.
(I don't care for Cadbury chocolate.  I don't like eggs.  The gooey stuff in the middle that looks like eggs, I don't even know what that's supposed to taste like, but I don't understand the concept of egg yolk-looking goo in the middle of chocolate...but I'll eat the heck out of Reese's peanut butter eggs.)

Never Have I Ever...drank an entire cup of coffee.
(Blech!  I don't even like coffee-flavored ice cream.)

What have you never done?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots #17

Walking through the city, passing Hyde Park, and noticing how incredibly green the grass is. 

I stood staring at this display one day wondering if I could just have ice cream for dinner. I did not succumb to temptation, but it was tough. 

Another successful library visit

I drink this tea morning, afternoon, and night. I'm a rebel like that. 

Like a gargoyle on top of Notre Dame, Ivy guards the bookshelf. 

Yes, I have treats. Yes, I will give you some. 

Sunday morning sleep in