Teeming with Puerile Detail: Mateship with Birds

Mateship with BirdsMateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany

I adored Tiffany’s first novel Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living and have been curious about the mixed and unusual reviews Mateship with Birds has received so I decided it would bee a good novel to kick off my Aus Reading Month. If the unusual reviews are accurate then at least it is relatively short…

Harry is a farmer on the outskirts of an Australian country town in the 1950s. When he is not watching the family of Kookaburras on his property he is helping his neighbour Betty, a single mother. Can love blossom between these two outcasts?

First Impressions: From the first page this really felt like an ‘Australian novel’. Landscape, tick. Flora and Fauna, tick, tick. Country life, tick. Downtrodden and friendless characters. tick.

Highlights: I was really drawn to the glimpses of Betty’s earlier life and would have loved to read more about this character’s backstory. The novel obviously has a wealth of literary merit but unfortunately I just didn’t feel compelled to draw comparisons between Harry’s kookaburra diary and his relationship with Betty’s family.
(Can you get more Australian that that last sentence?)

If I was an editor: Dear me! Is all the detail about genitals necessary? It is the sort of detail a hormonal teenage boy would obsess over but it comes from Harry! He includes it in letters to Betty’s son Michael as a means of giving him advice (and advising himself, aha!) but I think this detail coming from a father figure is rather creepy and would certainly gross Michael out (to use some Aussie slang). Also, don’t get me started on Farmer Mues’ final storyline. Really? I understand that the setting is a sexually repressed rural town in the 1950s but I now wonder if I have missed something and it is actually a satire that has missed the mark.

Overall: Not the most enjoyable start to my Aus Reading Month but I did enjoy writing this review.

Mateship with Birds: 3 stars


So Much Yearning: Lovesong

LovesongLovesong by Alex Miller

Ken, a curmudgeonly writer becomes intrigued by the family who run the new local bakery. John Patterner met his wife Sabhiha while on a sabbatical in Europe. Together they ran in Chez Dom, a run down Tunisian café in the back streets of Paris, well off the tourist path. They are contented in their marriage but are destined to always be strangers to each other, both from different cultures and living in a third, communicating in French rather than their native languages. Sabiha yearns for a child.  John feels himself being pulled back to Australia. Is there a remedy to strengthen their relationship?

First Impressions: I was instantly drawn into Alex Miller’s writing, more specifically Ken’s voice. Interestingly, I did not find Ken an engaging character at this point.

Highlights: There is much to love about this novel. The narrative frame is interesting as Sabiha’s story is told by her husband to Ken who then relates it to us. I did wonder if Ken’s inclusion was necessary as he was a rather innocuous character. However, much to my surprise, towards the end of the novel Ken’s true character emerges and I found him highly entertaining. MIller really made Vaugiraud in Paris come alive. I could just imagine walking the back streets and I had a strong sense of what Chez Dom would have been like. As an expat I could also relate to John Patterner’s moments of yearning for Australia  that were not necessarily based on logical reasoning, and the small details he remembers from his childhood.

If I was an editor: It is just nitpicking but Sabiha’s longing for a baby perhaps did go on for a bit too long. I would have also liked more of the narrator’s story – I really liked Ken by the end!

Overall: So glad I read this. Such a lovely story.

Lovesong: 5 stars



Six Degrees of Separation #8


Six Degrees of Separation #8: Saturday 1st November 2014

Unfortunately, I found Karen Joy Fowler’s We are all Completely Beside Ourselves difficult to enjoy.
(Read my review here)

Another novel that disappointed me this year was The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I have loved her other novel and short story collections but this just didn’t do it for me.
(Read my review here)

To flip things around, one novel I was unsure about but ended up loving was The Undertaking by Audrey Magee. This novel ends with a glimmer of hope that is still a little depressing…
(Read my review here)

Which is similar to The Red Queen by Honey Brown. What a fantastic dystopian novel for adults!
(Read my review here)

Lexicon by Max Barry sounds like it could be another adult dystopian novel and is on my TBR pile. It is about language, a missing word…

Eunoia by Christian Bok is a crazy sounding book in which each chapter only contains one vowel!

If we are focusing on language, I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed Rosco’s section in Annabel Smith’s The Ark – teen slang meets twitter to the power of the year 2041. Wow!
(Read my review here)

(Interestingly I have ended strongly with language and communication – clearly there’s a circular link to Fowler this month!)



Find out more about the Six Degrees of Separation meme here.

#6Degrees Rules


An Attractive Man Monday: Felix Moore in Peter Carey’s Amnesia

Monday 10th November 2014

Felix Moore in Peter Carey’s Amnesia, loc. 145


I spent the day at Martin Place, at the post office, searching the Sydney phone books and getting change at the counter.

‘Do I know, you? You were on TV last night?’

‘That’s me, mate.’

The clerk was a pale red-headed fellow with no bum and his sleeves rolled up to show his biceps. He slowly counted out my phone money.

‘Felix,’ he said.

‘Yes, mate.’

‘You’re a wanker, mate’.


Apologies for the belated post this week!


An Attractive Man Monday: Peter Leigh in Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things

Monday 3 November 2014

Peter Leigh in Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things loc. 514

The Book of Strange New Things

‘So where’s the dividing line for you?’ the woman rejoined. ‘Dogs? Horses? What if the restaurant was frying live kittens?’

‘Let me ask you a question,’ he said. Are you sending me to a place where people are doing terrible, cruel things to other creatures?’

‘Of course not.’

‘Then why ask me these sorts of questions?’


WIN copies of The Ark by Annabel Smith and Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor



This competition is closed. Thank you for entering.

This is the first time I have participated in this Blog Hop and I am excited to be giving away two prizes.

theark-annabelsmith 9781444762761

The first prize is a digital copy of The Ark by Annabel Smith.
(Suitable for Ipad, Ipad Mini, Kobo, Kindle)
The year is 2041 and a group of scientists and their families retreat into a bunker inside Mt Kosciusko to escape the chaos of environmental meltdown. They look after billions of plant seeds that hold the future to life on earth. Their story is told through a record of their digital documents. (Read my review here).

The second prize is a paperback copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.
A sonic boom hits Lagos and three of its residents are engulfed by a tidal wave. They must work together with a visitor from beyond the stars to save the city, the country and the world from environmental destruction and the worst of human nature.
(Read my review here).

Both competitions are open worldwide and if you enter you will automatically be put into the draw for both prizes.
If you only want to be in the draw for one of the prizes, please let me know in your entry comment.

To enter you will need to leave a comment below stating your favourite tree, plant, shrub or flower. (C’mon, both novels have an environmental theme and one is even set in a seed bank!)
If you are entering both competitions you only need to leave one comment.

Both competitions close 11.59pm GMT on Wednesday 5th November.

Winners will be selected randomly. If you are a winner I will contact you within 24 hours of the competitions closing. If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours I will draw the prize again.

Why not visit some of the other blogs participating in the Blog Hop giveaway:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)