January Wrap Up…

Welcome to my January Wrap Up. I had a good reading month, finishing 8 books (4 books off my TBR). I also received 4 ARC’s this month, and I continued my new goal of reading 1 Shakespeare play, as well as 10 Brother’s Grimm fairy-tales.

I have reviews up or coming up for these books so as usual this is just going to be a brief run down on each book I read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my January Wrap Up…

Harry Potter: Hogwarts A Movie Scrapbook by Jody Revenson: I loved this book. It was filled with awesome photographs and amazing behind the scenes information. Not to mention all of the removable treats that littered the pages of this book. This is a must have for all Harry Potter fans.

Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass: This book is a collection of novellas and bonus content that accompanies The Selection series. I really enjoyed this book. As with most collections some stories were better than others but overall I found myself really getting into these stories. I am thinking I may need to re read the entire Selection series now. If you love the Selection series this book is a must read.

The Book Of Daniel by Jeff Apter: This book was amazing. As a fan of Daniel Johns I knew I was going to love this book. I didn’t expect to be so moved by it. With amazing insights, interviews with Daniel and his friends and family, as well as great photographs, this book is a must have for all Daniel Johns fans and all music fans.

Saving You by Charlotte Nash: This book was absolutly beautiful. The story was compelling, the characters were real and flawed, and it had a genuine emotional kick. I didn’t want this story to end. I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this amazing book. If you are looking for a great Australian read, this is the book for you.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley: This book was absolutely heartbreaking. This amazing memoir takes the reader on an emotional journey through conversion therapy and how this practice affected so many people’s lives. It was hard to read at times and even harder to come to terms with the fact that it is still happening today. This book was a real eye opener.

The Librarian Of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe: Based on the true story of Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus. Translated by Litit Zekulin Thwaites. This book was absolutely mesmerising. It was heartbreaking and compelling. I didn’t want to put it down. It was an emotional journey reading this book but it was so worth it in the end. A must read for everybody.

The House Of Second Chances by Esther Campion: I absolutely adored this book. The writing was beautiful, the story was compelling and the characters were real, flawed and relatable. You don’t have to have read Leaving Ocean Road in order to love this book but if you have there are plenty of Easter eggs for you to enjoy. I am sad that I have finished this book. I want more.

Landscape With Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson: This was a strange book for me. It was a bit choppy in its flow and there were a lot of stop start moments yet I really enjoy it. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the writing is. The writing has a real lyrical feel and the descriptions, especially those of the art were absolutely breathtaking. I will definitely be reading this book again.

Shakespeare: I read 1 Shakespeare play in January. I read the following Shakespeare Play This Month:

The Two Gentlemen Of Verona

Brother’s Grimm: I am happy to say that I completed my goals of reading 10 Brother Grimm Fairy Tales in January. I read the following Tales this month:

The Tailor In Heaven

The Peasant In Heaven

The Moon

Eve’s Various Children

The Poor Boy In The Grave

Clever Grethel

Our Lady’s Child

Gambling Hansel

Hansel And Gretel

Master Pfriem

Iron John

That’s it for my January Wrap Up. I hope you all had a great reading month. Let me know what you guys read this month in the comments section.

Until my February Wrap Up…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

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LGBTQI Reads

Welcome to another Wacky Wednesday. Today’s topic is LGBTQI Reads. These are the books that I have read that deal with or have a LGBTQI character. With so many amazing books with LGBTQI character to choose from I had to be pretty selective in making this list. I want you to know before you go any further that some of these books are not suitable for young readers and can be quite confronting. Now im only going to be telling you my thoughts on each book, im not going to be explaining why it is on this list because that would take forever. With that in mind I hope you guys enjoy this list, and maybe find some recommendations from it.

So without further ado, lets jump on it:

Queens Of Geek by Jen Wilde: Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I kind of wish it was two individuals books. I didn’t like switching between narrators as I felt that both of these characters and their stories were strong enough on their own. I would love to see more stories on both Taylor and Charlie, even if they are only novellas. Great characters like these young women deserve to shine.

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer: After reading this book, something awakened inside of me. My desire for equality and my desire to try to be accepting and open-minded. This book broke my heart. Seeing the way these people were treated and knowing that this wasnt just an isolated situation got me fired up. I wish I could say that this are different now but that would be a lie. I just hope that one day we will see equality for all.

Never Tear Us Apart by Quinn Brockton: A Queer As Folk story. I really enjoyed this book. The characters were perfectly written, the story was fresh and interesting. A great book for any Queer As Folk fan, or anyone looking for a great read.

Simon vs The Homosapian Agenda by Becki Albertalli: I absolutly loved this book. Simon is an adorable, dorky and completely charming charter. He is a flawed character who is still trying to figure himself out and how he fits into the world. This book will steal your heart and leave you wanting more. I could not put this book down and I can’t think of a bad word to say about it.

The Upside Of Unrequited by Becki Albertalli:  I went into this book with high hopes and I wasnt disappointed. I loved this book. Becki Albertalli’s writing style really agrees with me. This book was full of amazing characters and awkward, funny, heartwarming moments. I really loved the fact that Simon made an appearance in this book. if you havent yet read this book do it now, The Upside Of Unrequited is not to be missed.

The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend: I have mixed felling about this book. It was about a group of teenagers who find each other and go searching for their sperm donor. There were aspects of this story that were really great, I loved the parents in this book, but I think there was a little too much teen angst for me. I think it was a great idea for a story and it has some genuinely moving moments and insights. I think a lot of people will really love this book. Whilst I liked this book, I just didn’t love it.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephenie Perkins: I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read anything like it in a long time, so I really got into it. It had great pacing, interesting characters and a pretty freaky plot. I didn’t guess who the killer was, I was surprised when it was revealed. I also loved that the story continued after the killer was revealed so we were able to learn more about the killer and the victims. If you are looking for a really engaging read, this is the book for you.

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley: The writing in this book is simple, this makes for an easy quick read. This important and heartfelt book about queer women is both hopeful, and romantic. While this book does touch on serious issues, is does so without becoming too heavy. This book is a must read.

Faggots by Larry Kramer: This book is not suitable for younger readers. This touching story of one man’s desperate search for love in the gay ghetto, set in New York before the AIDS epidemic. I loved this book. I will admit it was difficult to read at times, I was very raw and in your face, but given the subject matter and what was to come, this was completely justified. This a definitely a book that I think all adults should read.

Holding The Man by Timothy Conigrave: This is a book that really strengthened my desire for equality. Seeing these men and women and the struggles they went through for love just broke my heart. The world needs more Love and it shouldnt matter who you love. I was truly moved by this book and I hope im a better person for reading it. At least I try to be.

Well that’s it from me. Let me no if you have read any of these book or if there are any books with great LGBTIQ characters that you think I should take a look at.

Until next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

Saving You by Charlotte Nash

‘Three escaped pensioners. One single mother. A road trip to rescue her son.

In their tiny pale green cottage under the trees, Mallory Cook and her five-year-old son, Harry, are a little family unit who weather the storms of life together. Money is tight after Harry’s father, Duncan, abandoned them to expand his business in New York. So when Duncan fails to return Harry after a visit, Mallory boards a plane to bring her son home any way she can.

During the journey, a chance encounter with three retirees on the run from their care home leads Mallory on an unlikely group road trip across the United States. Zadie, Ernie and Jock each have their own reasons for making the journey and along the way the four of them will learn the lengths they will travel to save each other – and themselves.’

This book was absolutely beautiful.

I adored this book. This is the second book by Charlotte Nash that I have read, and she is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. Her ability to take the reader on a truly emotional journey makes for a wonderful reading experience.

I really loved the way this story was woven together. With one central goals but many different branches used to get to the end. It was equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking and that made for a truly compelling read.

The characters in this book really made the story. I loved seeing the multi generational characters come together and help each other and of course argue with each other. One of the best things about these characters was that they were real. The were flawed and had regrets, and were just trying to live life the best way they could.

I absolutly devoured this book. I didn’t want it to end and now that it has I can’t think of a bad word to say about it.

If you are looking for a wonderful, characters driven story with amazing cinematic writing then this is the book for you.

Saving You by Charlotte Nash will take you on an emotional roller coaster and leave you wanting more.

Annual Family Holidays!

I love my annual Family Holiday. I understand that many people no longer do this but I do.

My family has been going on the same holiday for 22 year. The same time, destination and people.

I will admit it has changed over the years; not everyone comes, some only come on weekends, others for a week here or there.

One of the greatest things about our family holiday is that it feels like coming home. We relax by the beach, catch up with our family, we see the same families and friends every year so we get to catch up and hang out with them.

The fact that we have been going to the same place for 22 years means we know the people who run it, we know the shop owners and we understand the way the town works.

Some of my greatest memories have come from these annual holidays. From fishing, discos, twilight movies and late nights laughing with my sisters.

I know that overseas holidays are the status quo these days but I honestly don’t think anything can replace an annual family holiday.

As I get older I know that these holidays aren’t going to last forever. Jobs, partners and life will get in the way. But for now I am going to enjoy every day with my friends and family and I hope that one day when I have my own family, I will continue the tradition of an annual family holiday.

~>GEM<~

Bat vs Poss by Alexa Moses

‘Meek the possum and her sisters three are happy living in the sprawling paperbark tree – until the day Squabbles the bat moves in. 

Meek lives with her three sisters, a gaggle of birds, lizards and other creatures next to a tumbledown terrace house. Everyone shares the space, and life is pretty sweet until the day a rude and messy fruit bat named Squabbles moves in – and demands everyone else move OUT. Will Meek be able to get rid of Squabbles, or is there a way for everyone to get along?’

This book was beautiful.

Alexa Moses has done an amazing job with this book. The story is sweet and warm, with lots of learning situations. Her amazing story has been perfectly complimented by Anil Tortop’s vibrant illustrations.

I love reading stories that are about Australian animals. Animals that young Aussies know and have even seen. Anil Tortop has brough these wonderful animals to life with her bright and colourful illustrations.

This book is going to be much-loved by young readers and their families. With the lyrical, rhyming writing, this book is perfect for read aloud story time. The fun and entertaining story, with the amazing, detailed illustrations will make this book one children will want to read over and over again.

It is books like these that make me wish I had children to share them with. Luckily I have many young readers in my life that will be getting a copy of this amazing book.

I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book. If you have a young reader in your life get them copy of this book. They will thank you for it later.

Bat vs Poss by Alexa Moses is a wonderful story about sharing and making friends that every young reader should have on their bookshelf.

The Book Of Daniel by Jeff Apter

‘The highs, lows and incredible life of the enigmatic Daniel Johns, from Silverchair to DREAMS

When Silverchair shuddered to a halt in 2011, there was no swan song, no farewell tour, just a brief statement and then they were gone – after more than fifteen years of brilliant music, five hit albums, legions of fans, millions of record sales, scores of awards and the odd controversy. Three teenagers from Newcastle had taken the world by storm within the time it typically takes most bands to record their first single. Over their stratospheric career, Daniel Johns developed into a performer and songwriter with few peers in modern music.

After the end of his marriage to Natalie Imbruglia and the break-up of his band, he became the focus of sordid headlines and whispers of wayward behaviour. People feared what might happen next.

But at the same time a new Daniel Johns emerged. His debut solo album, Talk, appeared to rapturous reviews in 2015 and raced to the top of the Australian charts, and then 2018 saw the advent of DREAMS, his long-awaited collaboration with Luke Steele,. This was a vastly different Daniel Johns to the grungy, guitar-blazing teen of the 1990s. His new sound and image were sophisticated, brilliant and sexy as hell. It was a remarkable creative makeover, perhaps the most ambitious ever undertaken by an Australian rockstar. Former rockstar.’

This book was amazing.

As a massive Daniel Johns fan, I was so excited to get my hands on this book and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. I loved getting an insight into Daniel life and career by Daniel and people who live these experiences with him. Reading this book was a roller coaster of emotions, yet I finished reading it feeling completely satisfied.

Jeff Apter has done a fantastic job with this book. Documenting Daniel Johns life, from his life-threatening anorexia, crippling reactive arthritis to the highs and lows of life in the public eye. Jeff Apter’s takes the reader behind the head lines of one of Australia’s biggest talents.

Adding an extra layer to this book is the collection of exclusive photographs of Daniel Johns taken by eminent rock photographer Tony Mott.

The Book Of Daniel by Jeff Apter is a must read for all Daniel Johns fans and anyone interested in the Australian Music Industry.

Australian Reads…

Welcome one and all to another Wacky Wednesday post. With Australia Day coming up on Saturday, I thought Today I would go through my Favourite Australian Reads. All of these book are by Australian Authors, even though some of them aren’t actually set in Australia.

So without further ado, lets jump into my Australian Reads:

Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry: This book took my breath away. A truly beautiful, tender story with an amazing plot. This book was warm and intimate, whilst still containing funny scenes and witty banter. This book is one of my favourite reads of the year. If you havent read it yet, do it now.

Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer: I loved this book. The story was amazing, the characters were relatable and well-defined and the writing was superb. This book is the perfect summer read. I honestly can’t stop raving about this book.

Nevermore by Jessica Townsend: If you’re looking for a wacky, magical story then this is the book for you. With amazing characters, and fantastic story and wonderful descriptions, Nevermore will take you on a journey that you wont want to end. Thankfully this is the first book in a new series, so there will be plenty more awesomeness to come.

Leaving Ocean Road by Esther Campion: This book was amazing. Esther Campion did a fantastic job with this book. I laughed and I cried and I laughed again. This book was so relatable and had such real characters, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this book.

The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon: This beautiful book is set in modern times, with current events being intertwined into a beautiful plot. With family the core of this book, I just fell in love. With amazing characters and cinematic writing I felt like I was apart of this story. I can’t think of another book like this one. In my opinion its one of a kind.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: This series blew my mind. I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into this book. The answer, expect the unexpected. This entire series is mind-blowing. I couldn’t get over how creative and artistic this book was. On top of its unique layout, the story is absolutely fantastic. A must read series.

The Turners series by Mick Elliott: I loved this series. This fantastic series follows Leo Lennox and Co. Leo is a newly discovered ‘turner’ who unintentionally finds himself caught up in a world-wide, murderous conspiracy. This series was action packed, fast paced and utterly brilliant. I can’t speak highly enough of this series.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I love this book. An all time favourite of mine that change the way I look at the world. I have read many books about war and conflict but I never stopped to think about these situations through the eyes of a child. This book really opened my eyes to the children affected by war. This is something that I still think about today when reading about or seeing something about conflict.

Love Your Sister by Connie and Sam Johnson: This beautiful book is an open and honest  account of a families journey with cancer. This book was so well written and had me crying from both tears of joy and tears of sadness. This amazing book will touch your heart and stay with you long after the final page.

The Heart Of The City series by C.J. Duggan: I absolutely love this series. All the books are stand alone they just have to same theme. And I have loved each and every one of them. I get a thrill every time a new book comes out. These amazing books have great characters, awesome stories and breathtaking locations. I am so glad I decided to read these books, they are just a joy to read.

Storm and Grace by Kathryn Heyman: I loved this book. An amazingly haunting story, by a fantastic author. I couldn’t put this book down, and I havent stopped talking about it since I finished it. This book is so relevent for the climate we live in, and I think everyone should read it.

A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart: I absolutely loved love this book. A fictional story based on Australia’s first female war correspondent. This book had great characters, a fantastic story and an intriguing setting. I couldn’t put this book down, and I can’t stop raving about it. A must read.

The Song Of Us by J.D. Barrett:  I absolutely adored this book. Zoe is a harpist who spends her days playing for the dying. After losing a client Zoe decides its time for her to start living. Filled with love, happiness and truly tender moments, This is definitely a book that I am going to read many times in the future. I don’t have a bad word to say about J.D. Barrett’s The Song Of Us. This book is a must read, I promise It will stay with you long after the final page.

The Secret Recipe For Second Chances by J.D. Barrett: Another awesome book by J.D. Barrett. This amazing book was funny yet completely heartwarming. Filled with mouth-watering recipes and witty dialog, this book was the perfect read. J.D. Barrett did an amazing job with this book and I for one would love to see it get more attention.

The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash:  I loved this book. The Paris Wedding transported me from an Australian Farm to the city of love and back. This book had it all. Amazing story, great characters and breathtaking descriptions. This book is not to be missed.

Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green: This book is a masterpiece. With so many interconnected stories and characters, this book just flowed. With truly heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, this book will stay with you long after the last page.

Well that’s it from me. I hope you all enjoyed this list. Let me no in the comments if you have read any of these book, or if you have a recommendation for me.

Untill next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

‘It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.’

This was a lovely book.

I can definitely see why this book is loved and why it has had the longevity that it has. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t love it. I liked it, but that’s about it.

The writing itself was absolutely beautiful. The way in which the writing was almost lyrical in quality and the craftsmanship of the sentences and chapters was truly amazing.

There was an element of this book that I did love. I loved the descriptions; especially during and after each ‘tesser’. These scenes one again really showcased the wonderful writing.

One of the problems I had with this story was the characters. I loved Calvin and I had a love hate relationship with Charles Wallace. I really liked Charles Wallace at the start of the book but that didn’t last. As for Meg, I wasnt able to warm to her at all. My inability to warm to Meg and the fact that I became annoyed with Charles Wallace as the story progressed made it difficult to really care about what happened to either of these characters.

I really wanted to love this book. I am planning on reading it again, I think I may watch the movie first and then try the book again and see if that makes a difference.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle will take the reading on a weird and wacky journey that you may just adore.

Summer In Australia!

I am an Aussie born and raised yet every Summer the heat knocks me for six.

Unless you have lived through a Summer in Australia you really can’t understand what it is like. The heat, the humidity, the flies and other bugs, and the extreme fire dangers and fires.

Most of these things people already know about Australian Summer. But there are so many other little things that you only know if you experience it, so that’s what I am going to talk about today.

Everyone knows about the heat and humidity in Summer in Australia but we also get some bad storms and strong wind. Sometimes the wind is a bonus if it is coming off the coast but if it isn’t it is just hell. The wind is also horrific for the fire dangers.

We also have really dramatic drops in the weather. You may have a week of 40 degree days followed directly by a few days of 20 degrees then back up again. The cooler days are great at the time but make the following hot day seem so much hotter.

The hotter the days the more things you have to remember. Sunscreen is a must everyday, as well as sunglasses and lots of fluids. Another thing that really helps in your car is a sunshade. If you don’t remember to put you sun shade up when yo get out of the car the seat will be so hot you wont want to sit in it, you wont be able to touch the steering wheel without getting burnt and the metal of your seatbelt will leave you branded and scalded.

Summer in Australia is a time when the ground gets so hot it can melt the soles of your shoes. The eat can make it hard to breath and no matter how good your air conditioner is you can never get cool.

The thing I hate most about Summer in Australia is the bugs. You have never seen flies like the size and amount you see in Summer in Australia. Cockroaches run wild, mosquitos are the enemy and you new best friends are named aerogaurd and bug spray. While all of these things are horrible the worst thing is the spiders.

For someone like me who has a fear of spiders, summer is not kind to me. Not only are there more spiders out and about due to the weather, the heat is so bad that they come out during the day and just hang around. I can walk out my back door in summer and see 10 or more spiders just sitting around on my back deck, and it is terrible.

Now this all sound yuck and at times it is, but Summer In Australia is also a time of trips to the beach, pools and water parks. Catch up picnics with friends and families on the weekend. Barbeques for dinner, and lots of salads.

A lot of areas in Australia have twilight markets and concerts, musical festivals and carnivals, and water parks set up for people to enjoy in Summer.

Summer In Australia is a one of a kind experience. Even for someone like me who was born and raised in Australia, every Summer is different.

I am hoping that this Summer is a mild one, maybe with some rain for the drought effected areas.

If you are spending Summer In Australia remember to play safe, be sun smart and have fun.

~>GEM<~

Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

‘Do you waste time overthinking things you can’t do anything about?
Do you freak out when things don’t go to plan?
Does anxiety get in the way of you living your best life?

When life hands you a big fat f**king lemon, CALM THE F**K DOWN gives you practical ways to manage the situation, not to mention your anxiety about the situation. One hundred per cent practical and zero percent Pollyanna-ish, this is a book that acknowledges all the bad shit that can and probably will happen to you – from break ups and breakdowns to floods, family feuds and France running out of butter – and shows you what you can realistically do about it so you can get on with your life, stop worrying and wallowing, and start bouncing back.’

This book was awesome.

I loved this book. As someone who suffers from anxiety this book really spoke to me. I loved the fact that it was honest and showed you practical ways to get things done rather than just saying ‘everything is going to be okay’. The steps and ideas in this book gives the readers the power and tools to deal with various situations, and that really appealed to me.

This is the first of Sarah Knight’s books I have read but given how much I took from it I am going to have to get myself her other books; The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Get Your Sh*t Together, and You Do You.

Sarah Knight did a fantastic job with this book. It was helpful, fun and the layout was wonderful. I genuinely believe that everyone should read this book. There is something for everyone to learn and put into practice in this book.

Calm The F**K Down by Sarah Knight is a magical book that will help you to Calm The F**k Down, in a fun and realistic way.