As a person I love surprises - to the point where if I get sent a birthday gift I don't take the outside packaging off in case they haven't wrapped it inside or I guess the gift from its shape. So when I am reading I kind of hate that I can't help guessing or feeling like I know where a story is going to go.
Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is sort of sad and hard right from the outset because it starts with Cooper's death and then it goes backwards and you start to love him and his friends and yet you know he's dead/going to die.
But it is clever and it is a bit of a thriller and I found myself thinking I knew where it was going and I was wrong, then I was right .. or so I thought and then I was way off track and all sorts of things in between. I was surprised in all the right ways of a well written book.
The story is told from 4 different characters only, each heading up short chapters throughout - sometimes in some kind of order, often not. Cooper, Libby, Sebastian and Claire - each with their perspective, each with a very different relationship with Cooper.
Did Cooper commit suicide? That is the official finding and only one person is asking questions. Is it desperate delusion or just clear thinking when everyone else is reeling in shock.
This book is aimed at a YA audience. It does have sex, drug taking and swearing in it but none at a level I found personally offensive. I guess on the whole those things felt contextual and part of the narrative rather than just thrown in to be 'cool with the kids.' I'm sure people will draw different conclusions about that.
This is a quick read I did it over a couple of days and I found myself wanting to read more and sort of dreading reading more as well as the narrative unfolded because it started with his death and you knew it wasn't going to be reversed - so even if all the questions were answered you still couldn't stop the death.
This longing for it not to happen speaks to the relate ability of the narrative.
A good read for getting lost in. A new author to me although she does have 2 other novels already on the market that have been very well received - her first selling in 52 different countries (that has to feel good as an author).
I found this book incredibly inspiring. Usually I find I have to read memoirs slowly and when I have time to focus carefully however I found this a much faster read, as far as memoirs go. I could easily pick this up and fit in a chapter here and there while waiting to collect the boys from school and such.
This book outlines the journey of Buddhi and Tanya and their children as they set out for Arnhem Land to deal with scabies. Supported by Sam Prince who is prepared to bankroll the mission to get rid of scabies and initially with the support of the Northern School of Medical Research they have good ideals but they have much to learn on the ground.
The further the project goes the more they realise the model they have is not going to work. This commitment to doing right by the people of Arnhem Land eventually leads to an incredibly positive outcome but it is not without fallout.
I think this book is a good one for any 'do-gooder' to read. Oftentimes I see a cause and feel stirred by it and want to donate/help out and none of that is bad but reading this has really challenged the notions and models of how that help is offered and made me engage more with what is achieved with good ideals and little understanding.
There are lots of turned corners in my copy of this book - pages that bring thoughtfulness and truth to what has essentially become an unquestioned model for 'helping' disadvantaged communities and indigenous people groups. Sadly the model has often been arrogance 'we have the answers, you can't do it yourself'.
Over the last couple of years in NZ I have been learning sign language and assisting with a small part of the sign language at our church. One of the things that the deaf team (as in the actual deaf leaders, rather than hearing helpers) was the value 'deaf can'. They reiterated to us that hearing people can actually disenfranchise deaf people by trying to do it all for them. Our eagerness to help can actually leave people without a voice and in the process lower their own self-confidence/esteem.
This book paints a similar story. It is about humanness, about true partnering, about appreciating the real skills that people have - even when they also have huge needs - and recognising that being a guinea pig for everyones 'projects of helpfulness' are not effective, sustainable or long term models.
I think this book has something for anyone who longs to be helpful, effective and human in the ways they seek to help others.
Before we go on it must be noted I am not on the sugar-free, paleo, carb free, nut free, dairy free, gluten free, add your own train/s. I also have no food allergies and I am partial to a peanut butter sandwich on cheap white bread. I like steak and after a year as a vegetarian my iron levels were fine but my B12s were so bad I had to go on a course of injections - now I just eat meat.
Okay now you know these things here I am with a book all about natural foods.
In fact this book ticks most of the trains I mentioned above. It is predominantly vegetarian, sugar free, vegan, GF and many other 'free's' and it is meatless. (But there are suggestions and variations which include meaty ideas). Janella argues (nicely) for a vegetarian life that is free of processed crap (she put it more nicely than that) but the book is still packed with lots of tasty recipes.
This week I have made:
The Bicher Muesli - I liked it. Flip had a go but decided it was not really his thing. Nice and simple soak overnight and then enjoy in the morning. As a non morning person I like this approach.
Broccoli and Mint pesto - simple and quick to make stirred through wheat pasta (shhh don't tell Janella about that it was supposed to be spelt pasta). We all loved this. Bounce said - Mama this smells yuck but it tastes good.
Bliss Balls - all the boys gave them a go. They all like them. I on the other hand keep going back to the fridge for seconds and thirds - I like them that much.
Also Vege Fritters - I think I over processed these a little so I needed to add more rice flour to firm them up and so they were more like a falafel texture than a fritter texture but they were very nice. Bounce said I like these mama but I think Dad will really like them. Flip didn't have them because he'd been sick so he didn't have tea. When The Atlas got home we had them in wraps with aioli and they were good - definitely one to do again.
and Kale Chips - these have real potential but I was a little (lot - oops) heavy handed with the salt. Also the Kale I bought was really past its best so I think that didn't help
I like that the recipes in this book are achievable. They aren't complicated to make although some of the ingredients are harder to source. But depending on how you shop already you may well have a lot of the staples already on your shelves. For starting out with these kind of recipes I recommend shopping in places that sell loosely/ in bulk rather than packets. This means you can buy just a little for a specific recipe rather than ending up with 500g of something you needed 2 tsps of and really have no idea how to use.
Will I make more things from this book? Yes I will. Probably not everything because I never make everything from a recipe book unless I have to, and it's my life so probably I don't have to, right?
Will I still make indulgent, 'wicked' recipes like double chocolate and raspberry brownies? Heck yes, I will. I am very lucky to have a family that doesn't have food issues and I love to bake and I believe in enjoying food and not feeling scared of or guilty about food .... but I do think there is more space in my repertoire for 'good' recipes.
I like the layout of the book but wish there were more photos of the recipes. It may be noted Janella and I could not share a wardrobe... but then who do you know who would share a wardrobe with me?
Things I have discovered making the recipes:
1. Hemp Seeds - which are used widely in the book are not allowed to be sold in SA
2. Goji Berries - 'super food' also known asLycium barbarumcosts $43 kg at the supermarket, $45 kg for organic ones at the health food store and $28 kg at the Asian food warehouse.
3. I'm not really a careful measurer - I already knew that but all the recipes turned out fine with my liberal approach so I am sure you will be fine making them.
If you'd like a copy of the book Allen and Unwin are prepared to send a copy to one lucky reader. You must have an Australian address or a lovely friend who will send it on I suppose (sorry non Aussie readers).
Leave a comment here and I'll do a draw on Friday or Saturday.
I always love the words 'Book Fair', 'Books Sale', 'Book Week'... are you sensing a theme?
So this week I am departing from my usual (huh, let's be honest my usual schedule has seriously fallen by the wayside of late!) to bring you a week of books I am reading. Reviews, recommendations and a giveaway.... that's how this week will look. I'll still post some other stuff too - but I'm going to review a book each day too.
First up the holiday family read How to Save the Universe in 10 Easy Steps by Allison Rushby.
If you like (or your kids like) a story with some fantasy elements and a universal disaster being imminent all while you discover you twin sister is actually an alien in disguise sent to protect you, because you are going to rescue the universe but no one quite knows how.... (okay take a breath here!) then this is the book for you.
I liked the writing style and my boys got the jokes. It's a crazy alien fantasy story but set in a totally ordinary setting and so it felt fun and exciting rather than weird.
Here are the boys verdicts:
Flip (8) - Three things I liked about this book are 1. When he gets attacked by slugs 2. When he finds out his dog can talk 3. When Cooper saves the universe This book would be good for children who are 4+ or to be read on your own 7+
Bounce (5) - I like it when Molly turns the room into a new room. This book would be good for 4 and older, because 3 and 2 might think it's a bit scary because there are aliens. Children would like this story because it's a space story and because the dog talks and I like that.
Read aloud to 7+ and manageable as an independent read from about 10 (depending on ability). Thanks A&U for this super fun holiday read. Could you please send me some lozenges for my tired I had to read for an hour solid throat - I'd appreciate that!
love you more than a lucky crack (read the book and find out!) xxx
Sometimes you need to stop and look at baby photos with your boys before school. Because you need to remind yourself that you will look back on this day with joy and nostalgia just like you look back to 'those days'.
Because you all need to marvel at how cute they are.
Because they are still gorgeous.
Because a shared 5 minutes in the morning is gold for how the day starts.