Miles Franklin Shortlist, Our Picks!

Over the last month, myself and my colleague Sarah have been super busy reading!

What have we been reading? Well, as many books on the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist that we could manage! Not to mention our leisure reading and book club titles. Luckily we both love books and reading; although Sarah is by far the superior reader. I am constantly in awe of her seemingly endless list of books she has finished.

Now back to the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist. While we didn’t get through the whole longlist, we did manage to read six out of ten titles, which I think is not a bad effort.

We read:

The White Girl by Tony Birch, UQP, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – This made me cry! In a good way. I was totally invested in Odette and Sissy’s story. If I am honest I would have read another two hundred pages. Jody

Room For A Stranger by Melanie Cheng, Text Publishing, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Meg is an elderly lady living alone in her childhood home. After a break-in she finds a student to share her house. This is Andy, an international student from Hong Kong. Although they are from different backgrounds they develop a friendship as they do have some things in common. Sarah

Islands by Peggy Frew, Allend & Unwin, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – The many different layers/perspectives in this book did confuse me a times; enough so that I did find myself re-reading parts. However, overall I did enjoy the book and after finishing it, felt that on some level the way it was written perfectly matched the disjointed lives of the characters. Jody

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany, Text Publishing, 2020. eBook – This book had the power to mess with my head! The narrator of this book is a teenage girl living with her mother, brother and a dangerous man. She uses her mechanical skill to fight back. I found this book quite disturbing. Sarah

The Yield by Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Simply a perfect book! I enjoy reading books about Australian History, particularly Indigenous stories. ‘The Yield’ is complex and emotional book, with characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading their story. – Jody

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Four women in their 70s have been lifelong friends. After the death of one of the group the others spend a weekend at her beach house to clean it out. But there is conflict between the three ladies without the friend that held the group together. This novel looks at growing older and dealing with past regrets. – Sarah

We are crossing our fingers that our three favourite books, ‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch, ‘The Yield’ by Tara June Winch and ‘Room for a Stranger’ by Melanie Cheng make it onto the 2020 ‘Miles Franklin Shortlist’.

Do you have a favourite? What will be your pick for the 2020 Winner?

Jody

Book Reviews: The Nowhere Child & The Sunday Story Club

The Nowhere Child

Christian White

I think it is fair to say ‘The Nowhere Child’ was my favourite pick from May’s two titles. If that makes me biased, then so be it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so that I finished it in one sitting. Yep, that’s right. I sat down one Saturday morning and didn’t stop reading until I finished it that night. ‘The Nowhere Child’ not only had suspense,it also provided you with a back story, giving you an invested interest in the characters story and how it would turn out.

I am totally hooked on Christian White now, and have already finished ‘The Wife and the Widow‘ and enjoyed it even more I think. Maybe the setting had something to do with this, I could almost feel the cold while reading.

‘The Nowhere Child’ is a 4/5 stars for me!

The Sunday Story Club

Doris Brett and Kerry Cue

‘The Sunday Story Club’ is full of heartfelt, true stories from regular women who have experienced incredible events in their lifetimes. Doris Brett and Kerry Cue, somehow make you feel like you are actually inviting this group of people into your home becoming a member of their ‘Club’.

You will laugh, and you will cry as you share these women’s stories. A book you will enjoy and want to share with anyone who will listen!

4/5 stars!

Hope you enjoyed May’s picks as much as I did.

Look out for June’s Pick later this week!

Happy Reading!

Jody

Parra Pods Just for Laughs

In this episode of Parra Pods Katherine, Nisa & Sandra share some laughs, while discussing some of the entertaining reads they recently read.

The business of making people laugh dates back far into antiquity.

Kitty Flanagan excelled at it on The Project, David Mitchell does a fine job through his comic rants, Celeste Barber gives joy to many on Instagram and David Ayoade has kept it going through the IT Crowd and beyond. Join Katherine, Nisa and Sandra for an upbeat chat about books recently written by all four.

Books Discussed:

Dishonestly is the second best policy: and other rules to live by / David Mitchell. Guardian Faber Publishing, Nov 2019.

Ayoade on top / Richard Ayoade by Richard Ayoade. Faber & Faber, October 2019. 

Challenge accepted: 253 steps to becoming an anti-it girl by Celeste Barber. Harper Collins, September 2018.

Kitty Flanagan’s 488 rules for life: the thankless art of being correct by Kitty Flanagan. Allen & Unwin, October 2019.

Happy Listening!

Book Reviews Alice to Prague and The Mother-in-Law

Alice to Prague

Tanya Heaslip

A Parra Reads Book Club title for May 2020. ‘Alice to Prague’ was one of two titles picked for our newly established online book club and it was an enjoyable read!  

In it, Tanya shares her personal experiences as she leaves behind her life as a lawyer in Alice Springs to teach English in the Czech Republic. With no prior teaching experience or grasp of the language, Tanya certainly shows us she is a person of considerable determination with an unstoppable strength of spirit.

Alice to Prague is a well-rounded read with a good balance of ‘something for everyone’ through the story. History and travel, a life adventure and even love.

Well worth a read!

Keep an eye out for Tanya’s new book ‘An Alice Girl’

Jody

The Mother-in-Law

Sally Hepworth

Sally Hepworth’s ‘The Mother-in-Law’ is one of those reads that grabs you from the first page, and doesn’t let go. Told from two points of view, daughter-in-law Lucy, and mother-in-law Diana, and spanning alternate timelines, it is fast-paced and engaging.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is extremely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying her son Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for. Diana is picture perfect. The pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. And yet, while Lucy tries time and again to please her, Diana remains cold and distant.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

Creating a character that you both love and hate is never an easy feat, but Sally Hepworth manages to do just that. I found myself conflicted, changing my opinion of Diana constantly between chapters, which is refreshing. In fact, I liked the nuanced character of Diana more than I did Lucy. As Sally Hepworth peeled back the details of the experiences that shaped her personality I wanted more. She seemed very reflective of the time in which she was born, and recognisable.

While people expecting to read a thriller might find themselves disappointed, I found the book to be an ideal mix of thriller and domestic drama.

A must read!

Jody

Podcast Episode 34 – Wellbeing

Find ways to relax, to meditate, to pursue balance, to consider gratitude, to engage in kindness, to strive for positivity…. all of these are important considerations for those interested in creating a sense of wellbeing for themselves and those around them.

Join Nisa & Antonia as they talk about some books that explore this and more!

The books discussed in this episode of Parra Pods include:

In Search of Happiness: following mindful paths to fulfillment by Mike Annesley. Worth Press, October 2018.

Smart Girls Screw Up Too: the no-nonsense guide to creating the life you want by Bella Zanesco. John Wiley & Son, January 2018. 

Unwind Your Mind: the life changing power of ASMR by Emma WhispersRed. Ebury Publishing, September 2019.

Happy Listening!