Friday, 15 December 2017

Les Misérables A French Language Primer

I'm rather excited about participating in the Les Miserables Chapter-a-Day Readathon next year. So much so that I might have had a little Les Mis splurge recently. The first of these books arrived today.  

I must have been in quite the frenzy because I didn't actually remember ordering this book. It appears I did though. And because I was still 10 books away from my Goodreads goal for the year I read it as soon as it arrived. Which admittedly was not all that hard really as it is a board book aimed at (bilingual) babies. And now I'm a mere 9 books away from my target! With 17 days to go. 

Les Misérables A French Language Primer is not a super condensed version of the story, but a kind of bilingual Les Mis themed first dictionary. It is a BabyLit board book. 

Each double page is a matching, inverted colour spread with a word in English and French and an accompanying short phrase.

Most of the pages are predictable- words that are thematic to the Lis Mis story:  L'Homme, Le Prêtre, La Fille. I was surprised by the inclusion of Le Rat though, and wonder if rats appear much more in the book than I am expecting. I suppose they will feature in the sewers when that part of the story happens. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for them in my reading next year. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

My Life in Books (2017 Edition)

Picture Source

I don't often do two posts on a day, but I saw this meme at Brona's Books this afternoon and I knew that I had to do this today too. It's a hot day, and I'm hiding out inside under the fan, perfect conditions for meme generation. 

Brona was inspired by Adam at Roof Beam Reader

The rules? Pretty simple: answer the questions with books you read this year!

In high school I was: Scrappy Little Nobody (Anna Kendrick)
People might be surprised (by): Good Me, Bad Me (Ali Land)

I will never beThe Worst Witch (Jill Murphy)

My fantasy job isMy (Part-Time) Paris Life (Lisa Anselmo)

At the end of a long day I needGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Elena Favili, Francesca Cavallo)

I hate it when: Five Give Up The Booze (Enid Blyton)

Wish I hadA Paris All Your Own (Eleanor Brown)

My family reunions areThe Case Against Fragrance (Kate Grenville)

At a party you’d find meWasted (Elspeth Muir)

I’ve never been toThe Beach at Night (Elena Ferrante)

A happy day includes
Millions (Frank Cottrell Boyce)

Motto I live byCan't We Talk About Something More 
Pleasant? (Roz Chast)

On my bucket list isA Paris Year (Janice MacLeod)

In my next life, I want to haveNew Life, No Instructions (Gail Caldwell)

Refugee Asylum Seeker Book List

I really enjoyed this list of stories for children about refugees and asylum seekers from Book Trust.

It's the humanitarian issue of our time really and I think deserves it's own list that can continue to be expanded as I've done with Brona's War Book List. I've added a few already, and will add more over time -as I remember them, and new books as they come up. 

A Dangerous Crossing - Jane Mitchell
A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park
Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord - Barroux, Sarah Ardizzone (translator)

A Story Like The Wind - Gill Lewis, Jo Weaver (illustrator)
Azzi in Between - Sarah Garland

Boy Overboard - Morris Gleitzman

Girl Underground - Morris Gleitzman
Give Me Shelter - Tony Bradman (editor)

Home and Away - John Marsden, Matt Ottley (illustrator)
Hope in a Ballet Shoe - Michaela & Elaine De Prince

Illegal - Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin
In The Sea There are Crocodiles - Fabio Geda, Howard Curtis (translator)
Inside Out & Back Again - Thanhha Lai (see my review)
Jackdaw Summer - David Almond

My Name is Not Refugee - Kate Milner
My Two Blankets - Irena Kobald, Freya Blackwood (illustrator) (see my review)

Now is the Time for Running - Michael Williams

Oranges in No Man's Land - Elizabeth Laird

Refuge - Anne Booth, Sam Usher (illustrator)
Refuge - Jackie French
Refugee - Alan Gratz
Refugee Boy - Benjamin Zephaniah
Refugees - David Miller

Shadow - Michael Morpurgo
Soraya The Story Teller - Rosanne Hawke
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey - Margaret Ruurs, Nizar Ali Badr (artist)
Suri's Wall - Lucy Estela, Matt Ottley (illustrator) 

The Arrival - Shaun Tan (see my review)
The Bone Sparrow - Zana Fraillon
The Island - Armin Greder
The Journey - Francesca Sanna
The Lines We Cross - Randa Abdel-Fattah
The Little Refugee - Anh Do, Suzanne Do, Bruce Whatley (illustrator) (see my review)
The Milk of Birds - Sylvia Whitman
The Other Side of Truth - Beverley Naidoo

The Red Pencil - Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Silence Seeker - Ben Morley, Carl Pearce (illustrator)
The Silver Sword - Ian Serraillier
The Treasure Box - Margaret Wild, Freya Blackwood (illustrator) (see my review)

Welcome to Nowhere - Elizabeth Laird
When Michael Met Mina - Randa Abdel-Fattah

Ziba Came on a Boat - Liz Lofthouse, Robert Ingpen (illustrator)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Goodreads 100 Books to Read Before You Die

A fabulous list from the Goodreads folks. I would actually like to read most of these books before I die. There are some serious admissions in my reading. Rather large holes that I will hope to fill some time. 

There's a few exceptions of course. I can't imagine that I'll ever try to read Ulysses in this lifetime. I might give an audio version a go at some stage, as I can listen to things that I'd never be able to read. I'm currently a third of the way through the Moby Dick Big Read which is way further than I thought I would ever manage to do. 

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

1984 - George Orwell

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Catch- 22 - Joseph Heller

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Lord of the Flies - William Golding (see my review)

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

Ulysses - James Joyce

100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Dracula - Bram Stoker

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (see my review)

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

On The Road - Jack Kerouac

Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (see my review)

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

Atonement - Ian McEwan

Middlemarch - George Eliot

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (see my review)

Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Moby Dick - Herman Melville (currently listening!)

Persuasion - Jane Austen

Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

The Secret History - Donna Tart

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I'm going to read Les Mis in 2018!

The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffeneger

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (see my review)

A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Emma - Jane Austen

Dune - Frank Herbert

Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone - J.K. Rowling

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

Watership Down - Richard Adams (see my review)

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (see my review)

Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

A Town Like Alice - Nevile Shute

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (see my review)

The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis (2.5/7)

A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis

His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome (see my review)

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

The Call of the Wild - Jack London (see my review)

Beloved - Toni Morrison

Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

Hamlet - William Shakespeare

Bleak House - Charles Dickens

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon

The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

Inferno - Dante

Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

I'm rather toying with the notion of this one,
a new annotated version

45/100 (I've included books that I gave a good crack, but may not have finished for whatever reason in pink)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Les Misérables Read Along 2018

I was so very excited to come across the Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-Along hosted by Nick at OneCatholicLife a few weeks ago

I had found Nick's Nonficiton November post pairing Les Misérables with The Novel of the Century (no prizes for guessing what Santa might bring me for Christmas), and Nick mentioned that he was thinking of hosting a 2018 read along of Les Mis. Cue excitement. 

I was astonished to realise that Les Mis has 365 chapters (this can't be a coincidence), making it absolutely perfect for a chapter a day year long read along- thank goodness 2018 is not a leap year! 

I have come relatively late to the Les Mis party. But I've fallen quite hard since I saw the musical movie version in 2012, which sadly I call the Russell Crow movie version. I saw it two or three times at the cinema. I've since seen the stage show four times in three cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane), including two consecutive nights in Melbourne. I've been to an amazing exhibition also in Melbourne in 2014, Les Misérables From Page to Stage that included Volume 1 of Victor Hugo's manuscript- which had flown to Australia on it's own business class seat. And I've listened to the incredible BBC Radio 4 Radio Play, but thought that would be my lasting taste of the book for quite some time.

It's not that I'm not prepared to read Les Mis, I have a copy of Les Mis in the house. I bought the beautiful cloth bound Penguin edition (the 1976 Denny translation) a few years ago , and figured that I would get to read it when I retire. But A Chapter A Day? Even I can do that. The chapters are often only a few pages long. 

But the big question is will reading it in English be enough for me, or will I be stupid enough to try to read it en français too? I think we all know the answer to that one. I've read the first line online, and that wasn't too horrendous... 

En 1815, M. Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel était évêque de Digne. C'était un vieillard d'environ soixante-quinze ans; il occupait le siège de Digne depuis 1806.
Surely the next 1200ish pages can't be all that bad? 

Although given I struggle with 21st century French I have no idea how I'd go with 19th century French. Well, actually, I do have some idea of how I'd go with 19th century French, and it isn't pretty. But I'm going to give it a crack. I'll read it in English first and then pair the English and French text. I'll understand some of it, and I'm sure it'll be fascinating, and I'll practice my French and undoubtedly learn some things along the way. And if I progress beyond chapter 1 that'll be fantastic. 


Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog  

Friday, 1 December 2017


I do love a verse novel. Strange to say. But I've really, really come to enjoy them over the past few years. They are so quick to read, they're like a literary palate cleanser. 

I've read a few Sarah Crossan books before, One (see my review), which I enjoyed but not as much as everyone else it seemed, and The Weight of Water, which I thought was ok, but in my slackness I didn't get around to blogging. 

So, I was very intrigued by Moonrise when I discovered the main character, Joe, has a brother on death row. I'm always astonished at the subjects that are contained within literature aimed at a younger audience. 

Joe Moon lives in Arlington, New York. I'd never heard of this Arlington, and always kept thinking of Arlington, Virginia. I wondered if this was on purpose because of Arlington National Cemetery, a place to honour America's military dead. Joe's brother Ed has been in jail in Texas for the past ten years, since Joe was seven. Joe doesn't know the man his brother has become, and only has memories of the young boy he was. 

Joe's is smart and athletic and doing well in school. But his family are poor, and chaotic. His Mum has left, his father is dead, and Aunt Karen has stepped in to fill the void.

Everything turned to shit
when Ed got put away;
nothing worked any more. 

But now Ed has been given an execution date and Joe travels to Texas on his own to visit his brother on death row in the weeks leading up to the scheduled date. The story alternates between current day Texas and Joe and Ed's childhood in New York. It is masterfully done. 

See, we aren't the people anyone pities.

Issues of justice, guilt, innocence, inequality, the social costs of drugs, alcohol and poverty are all dealt with, as well as the more personal stories of Joe, Ed, their family and friends. 

Cos it all depends on
who you kill
where you kill them

Sarah Crossan's views are fairly easy to see, she wears her heart on her sleeve- she tells us it costs $4 million dollars to go through with an execution, eight time more than the cost of imprisoning someone for life. Yet she suffuses her words with humour too, it's not all overly earnest. 

In the Author's Note at the back of the book Sarah Crossan tells how she first came to be interested in the issues about the death penalty when she was required to watch a documentary, Fourteen Days in May, as a fifteen year old schoolgirl. I'll be watching it soon. 

You can watch Sarah Crossan recommending some of the books she used in her research for Moonrise. 

We live in such strange times. You can also watch someone (TheBookishManicurist) make nail art for nails to match the cover of Moonrise. She actually does an amazing job of it. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017


I am SO terrible at TBRs - no sooner had I completed by Nonficition November 2017 TBR than I was in my local bookshop in a bit of a buying frenzy. I plucked this book off the shelves because it was so, so pretty, and very soon had it read. 

It's an unusual little book. A small palm sized book, priced for the impulse buy ($19.99, yes that is cheap in Australia). There is no author credited, just "with Bird Life Australia". It's an art book. It's a lesson about cockatoos.

There's lots of cool cockatoo facts. 
Most cockatoos are left footed.
I'm so going to have to watch out for that. 
Only female Black Cockatoos incubate eggs. The smaller cockies and corellas tend to share egg-sitting duties.
And some sad ones. 
Five of Australia's 14 cockatoo species have populations that are on the national threatened species list. 
I must say that I find this description from the Hardie Grant Gift website rather odious and unappealing. I do realise that it's a description for booksellers, but it makes it sound awful.
A contemporary design-conscious souvenir for international and local tourists. Featuring international and local illustrators. 
Cockatoo is a companion book to Koala (published last year) a book that I completely missed, but now of course would like to read. I am now firmly convinced that every book I read only serves to make my TBR grow ever bigger.