Review: I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox

34396859I’m Australian! How about you? Many people from many places have come across the seas, to make Australia their home. How Australian is that?

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Scholastic Australia.

*  *  *  *  *

Mem Fox my dear, I didn’t think it was possible to love you anymore than I did after Possum Magic and Time for Bed, but now I do!

I was so excited when I saw this beautiful book by Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh. It celebrates Australia’s multiculturalism, promotes racial equality and shines a spotlight on refugees. All this is wrapped up as a fun and colourful sing-song story to be adored and absorbed by the minds of our young children. Mem Fox you are a wonderful, wonderful woman. I will be repeatedly reading this to my boys.

I’m writing this review after just reading I’m Australian Too for the first time with my 3.5-year-old son. He was fresh out of the bath and about to get into bed, perfect mummy and son book reading time.

This book is absolutely beautiful.  On our first read through when I got to the page that starts with “Sadly, I’m a refugee – I’m not Australian yet.” My spine tingled and a wicked smile crept on my face. I was thinking: You go Mem Fox! Stick it to the haters.

By the end of the second read through I had tears in my eyes and was getting choked up trying to finish the last page. My heart is humming and I need to tell the world about this book. READ IT TO YOUR KIDS. Refugees are mentioned. Aboriginals, Italians, Greeks, Somalians – the list goes on and on – are mentioned. It is truly beautiful.

The last page ends with the line “Together now, we live in peace, beneath the Southern Star.” Oh Mem, how I wish that was so and I hope for a tomorrow when it is!I’m Australian! How about you?

Recap: Family Road Trip

This way to adventure signMy husband Shane, our Son Riley and I traveled 9865 kilometers (6130 miles) in 38 days, living out of our Toyota Landcrusier 80 series 4WD, trekking to the tip of Australia. We did this trip back in July–August 2015 and I’m only now getting to sit down and go though the journal I wrote each day.

Travel Collage

We had planned this trip for three years and pored our hearts and wages into it. Before this trip the furthest Riley had traveled in a vehicle was to Narrabri once and with plenty of rest stops that was only a eight hour trip. Riley proved to be a really great traveler, bar kicking the passages seat regularly and a really great camper. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself and flourish in the new and constantly changing environments.

On the first day we had planned on leaving at 3am, but due to satellite phone collection issues we didn’t leave to 11am. This meant that we finished the days driving in the dark. It dawned on me as we were heading out of Lake Macquarie that I had only driven the cruiser four times; once when we first bought it, twice to work (it was practically stock standard back then) and once again when we moved house. It was at this point that I started to freak out about how many kilometers on this trip I would be driving. I had a panic attack later that night when a Road Train was up my ass thundering down the road on the way to Moree. I ended up having to pull off the road, let him pass and then try to calm down. There were many times on the trip where Road Trains caused me extreme stress. In the end Shane did most of the long haul driving.

By the end of day nine Shane had chucked a major tantrum and wanted to dump the roof top tent on the side of the road and buy a camper. Shane and my father are currently building a camper to use on our next trip. Shane ended up fed up with having to pack up camp every time we wanted to go for a drive, something I had pointed out might be problem when we were planning the trip, but he had been adamant that he didn’t want to tow on the tracks we were going to drive.

Earlier on in the trip I decided that kangaroos and cattle are two of the stupidest creatures alive. The roos stop, stare at you, then run right towards your vehicle and some of the cattle are not much better. They are both cute as buttons, but oh so stupid.

We spent more on food and accommodation than expected, but less on fuel, so it all sort of balanced out. All up we burnt through 1686.11 litres of diesel in 9865 kilometers. That’s, 17.09 litres per 100KM. She weighted around three tonne fully loaded so we couldn’t really expect any better than that. The Landcruiser did really well for a 23-year-old vehicle; other than the passenger side mirror falling off on the road to Lorella, the rear number plate falling off on the Development road and the alternator playing up towards the end, she was golden. Oh what a feeling, TOYOTA! I actually had an intense dislike for this vehicle before this road trip, but I fell in love with her for her strength and capabilities on the red dirt tracks of outback Australia.Crusier Collage

We made it through The Old Telegraph Track and The Frenchmens Track no worries. But The Creb Track (Cains regional electricity board track) beat us, as it was just too wet. The Creb also beat two other vehicles ahead of us on the track when they rolled over. We were having fun slipping and sliding around until the Nissan Patrol in front of us popped a Tyre off of its rim. As the boys were rectifying that problem, two dirt bike riders came through and warned us of the rolled vehicles up ahead blocking the track. We turned back. The Creb had only reopened the week before we attempted to do it and it was officially shut the day after we were there.

Riley the farm boyRiley enjoyed a road side tractor and farming equipment display in Ilfracombe more than anything else on the trip.

Shane and I enjoyed Longreach’s Qantas Museum and Stockmans Hall of Fame but wasn’t all that entertaining for then 2-year-old Riley.

Lorella Springs was stunning and our week there wasn’t enough. We hope to go back in 2018 for three weeks. Riley’s first time in a hot spring (luke warm) was at Lorella and he was fascinated by the fact that we were in the water and surrounded by bush. Previous to this he’d only been swimming in our local council pool or at a beach.

Riley went on his first ever boat ride when we went for a gorge cruise in Lawn Hill National Park. He then went for his 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th boat ride on the ferry’s to and from the mainland to Thursday Island and Horn Island. The tour we did of Thursday and Horn focused on the WW2 and was really quite fascinating. Considering we were in and out of a bus all day Riley behaved really well.

Whether it was little kids trying to copy him swinging from a handrail, grandparents missing their grandchildren wanting to talk kiddlet, or fellow passengers playing peek a boo over the seats on boats and buses Riley managed to make new friends young and old wherever we went.

We did the Tip of Australia walk and took “the photo”.The Tip Photo

We had three vehicles in our convoy on the Creb and picked up a fourth, two Belgians way out of their league. I was getting really anxious that we were going to be stuck out on the Creb. Darren had to practically tow the Belgians up every hill. it was a nightmare, I just wanted the hell out of there. I actually said at one stage “I want my mum!” because I really needed a hug, but I corrected It to “I want my Uncle and his damn lifted twin looked steroid enhanced Range Rover”. At one stage when were at a stand still Riley decided to belly flop off of the back tail gate into a massive mud wallow. i was in tears by the time we got into Cairns late that night.

For Riley the playground at Cairns Coconut Holiday Park was a close second to the display in Ilfracombe for enjoyment.Coconut Playground Collage

The Lava Tubes at Undara were beautiful and fascinating for an adult, but wasn’t all the entertaining for Riley.

Riley and I got crook on the boat ride out to the Great Barrier Reef. Shane went and did a snorkel tour while Riley and I recovered from the boat ride out. We then went and did a semi sub boat tour and Riley seemed to enjoy it. He was mesmerized watching all the bubbles rushing past the windows. Thankfully the ride back to Cairns on the big boat was smoother and we didn’t get sick.

There is a lot of day to day stuff I’ve left out of this post, but all in all it was a fantastic family bonding experience. Even still I was so happy to be back home in my own bed, with a flushing toilet, hot shower and electricity. Home never looked so damn good.

We are very lucky in Australia to have such a diverse and beautiful country, one in which I intent to explore more thoroughly with my family.

Fast and Loose by Nicholas J. Johnson

25374404Fast and Loose by Nicholas J. Johnson

Published: 1st July 2015

Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis mk3Joel Fitch used to be a con artist.

That is, until his scam paid off but his life went belly up. Now, two years later, at the ripe old age of 22, Joel has a mattress full of cash and no idea what comes next. The movies never tell you what to do after you’ve walked into the sunset.

Besides, Joel’s past is catching up with him. One of the victims from his con artist days has hunted him down. Far from exacting revenge, though, he wants Joel’s help. Danny Hemming is a TV journalist on television’s trashiest current-affairs program and he’s looking for someone to give him the inside scoop on the latest scams. And he’s not taking no for an answer.

Once again, Joel finds himself in over his head as he enters the murky world of tabloid television. Blackmailed into helping Hemming uncover and expose the country’s biggest swindlers, Joel is making more enemies than ever.

Goodreads-Button-with-Shadow My Thoughts mk3

I liked this book and the fact that I enjoyed it even though it wasn’t filled with forbidden or unrequited love, fantastical creatures or other worlds, like the books I normally read, for me shows how good a story teller Mr Johnson is.

The main characters; Joel Fitch a 22 year old millionaire ex-con-man and Danny Hemming TV “Journalist” with his eyes on the top producers’ job – Neither character is really all that like-able, but they don’t need to be. This book is fast paced, easy to read and flows well. It is set in Sydney, so it’s just down the road from me (kinda). I found it interesting taking a peek into a criminal world that goes on every day under all our noses. Now I’m not stupid, I know this stuff goes on, but obviously not everyone does as the Con-men out there are still thriving.

I mainly read stories that let me escape the world we live in – this story is the world we live in!! Even though I wasn’t glued to the pages, it was well worth the read and I’m looking forward to reading more from Mr Johnston.Three Stars

Author’s Links mk3

Nicholas J. Johnson knows scams.

After decades of rubbing shoulders with fraudsters and liars, he now works as a performer, writer and consultant, educating the public about the tricks of the con artist’s trade.

His live shows have featured at corporate events, schools and private events simultaneously entertaining and educating audiences about con artists and scams.

As an expert on fraud and deception he has appeared on A Current Affair, The Project, Sunrise, Kid’s WB, Today, Radio National, Triple J and more. He has consulted with everyone from magician David Blaine to Circus Oz.

A critically acclaimed comedian, Nicholas has performed at Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe and the Melbourne Comedy Festival where he was nominated for the Golden Gibbo award for best independent comedy.

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/NicholasJJohnson

Website – http://www.conman.com.au/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/countlustig

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/TrickyNick79

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/honestconman

Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing by Lisa Walker

24315533

 

Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing by Lisa Walker

Publication Date: February 2, 2015

Pages: 352

Thank you to Net Gallery, Random House Australia & Bantam Australia for allowing me to read and review this ARC.

Synopsis

A delightfully funny and inspiring novel about a very modern pilgrimage, and one woman’s chance to rediscover what she’s lost.

‘I watch the highway go by and ponder my situation. I am on the run from my husband’s divorce lawyer, my mojo is still missing in action and my demon ex-lover is lurking . . . But, all things considered, my pilgrimage is going well . . .’

Arkie used to be a trendspotter, running a successful business advising companies on ‘the next big thing’. Until she lost her marriage and her mojo along with it.

Her eccentric new friend Haruko suggests a pilgrimage in Japan. But funds are tight, so instead Arkie’s going on a very Australian trip, to all the ‘Big Things’.

With Haruko as her guide, magic is everywhere. A Buddha appears next to the Big Redback, the Big Macadamia rises from the jungle like a lost temple and inside the Big Shell she can hear a tinkling voice, reminding her of the child she never had.

As her improbable adventure unfolds, realisation dawns: could it be that, despite her celebrated foresight, Arkie’s been missing what was right before her eyes?

 

My Thoughts

 The book opens and we find 41 year old Arkie Douglas (female) about to attempt to commit suicide on the one year anniversary of her husband leaving her, which also happens to be New Year’s. She decides that it’s all too much to bear and is going to throw herself in front of a train.

Enter a hip 20 year old Japanese holiday maker by the name of Haruko (female). They spend New Year’s together waiting for a train that doesn’t come, they later discover it stopped running ten years prior.

Arkie offers Haruko a Job after only knowing her for 36 hours, hoping she’ll help her get back into the trend spotting game. Arkie was a big shot trend predictor before her marriage fell apart and she feel to pieces.

That may all sound a bit far-fetched, but a found those initial chapters quite entertaining.

We go on to find out that Arkie’s ex-husbands name is Adam and her ex-lover’s name is Ben. This is where the story started to lose me as I couldn’t feel sorry for Arkie anymore.

If you ignore the infidelity and just look at it as being destroyed by heartbreak and rebuilding ones self, then there are bits and pieces in the story most of us can relate to.

I quite enjoyed reading about the pilgrimage and the big bad lawyer being after Arkie. I didn’t mind reading about Arkie reminiscing about Adam, I liked Adam. The reminiscing about Ben annoyed me, probably because I thought Ben was an Oily Snake and he did prove he was just that when he went on and became a politician.

The water child weirded me out at first, mainly the name. I think if she’d been named Prue or Alison for example I probably wouldn’t have minded Arkie talking to the imaginary child she never got to have. The name “water child” makes me think of some demonic little girl trapped down a well in a Steven King novel. But once the deeper meaning of the Water Child was reviled, I felt guilty at finding her weird and ached at Arkie’s stupidity and loss.

The ending was a little anti-climactic. Yes she gets back with her husband, but I would have loved in the epilogue to see her with the child she so desired, be it as a foster mother or whatever.

If you enjoyed reading Eat Pray Love, then you’ll love this book (with added Aussie bonus). I give it 3.5 stars, it loses half a star as the ending didn’t satisfy me.

See lady’s we don’t need to go to Italy or an Ashram in India to find ourselves, after a mid-life crises we can get lost in ourselves and a simpler time enjoying Australia’s Big Things.

I’m going to go see the big Scotsman next time I’m in Adelaide, just to say I’ve been to the original.

Author’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lisawalkerhome

Author’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/lisawalkertweet

Author’s website – http://www.lisawalker.com.au/

Publisher’s Website – http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/lisa-walker/arkies-pilgrimage-to-the-next-big-thing-9780857984401.aspx

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop Winner!

To celebrate Australia Day this year I partook in the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop. The prize I offered was up to AU$20 worth of goodies from the Book Depository.

I’m happy to announce that the winner was a lucky lady by the name of Robin Dawson from NSW.

So congrats to Robin and to the rest of you that entered, thank you for taking part and better luck next year 😛 :-).

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.

2015-ausday

My Sanctuary

Finally we’ve done it, we’ve bought our own home.
 
image (1)
The first time a saw the for sale sign I got tears in my eyes, I really did and do feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders.

The last couple of weeks have been the most stressful of my life, most of you will know how stressful buying your first home can be. I was on my way to raid my Dads seaweed cracker box, when I Spotted a for sale sign out the front of a house just up from my Parents house. We hadn’t actually been planning to look at buying our own home until we came back from our outback 4wd adventure we have planned for next year, but when I spotted this house in the same street I grew up in, just up the street from my Parents place, my heart started doing all sorts of flips and I started dreaming about how wonderful it would be for my son to grow up in the same beautiful street where I did. I started having day dreams of Riley (a few years from now) walking down to Grandma and Grandad’s to raid the cookie jar (or seaweed crackers) and then returning home with Sassy in tow (Sassy is my parents dog).

Then the reality of buying a house set in and I started to freak. I was riddled with anxiety and was getting to the point of just saying no, lets forget about it, it’s too hard. Fear of the unknown has become a real problem with me since I became a mother, I don’t have the same to hell with the consequences, run flat out blindfolded attitude I used to.
 
But It’s going to be ours. I grew up at number 3 and will grow old at number 9. Since the loan was approved and the deposit was put down, all my unease and fear has gone away. After too many years of renting, living in no one’s home, I will have my own and I will be able to set my soul free. I will be able to fill this house with love for my son and make it my sanctuary.

Newcastle Poetry Prize

__449179I’ve just finished reading the 2013 Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology ”Now You Shall Know” to prepare myself to enter this years.

2013 was the 32nd consecutive year that the Newcastle Poetry Prize had run. In this Anthology is the 1st, 2nd & 3rd winners plus 24 other highly recommend other entries.

Obviously I preferred some poem suites over others, but it was an interesting and emotional collection by some of the best poets Australia has.

I’m definitely going to have to improve/ rethink/ try not to psych myself out before I enter this year.

>> to find out more on the Newcastle Poetry Prize >>

http://www.hunterwriterscentre.org/newcastle-poetry-prize.html

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21857902-now-you-shall-know

>> to buy a copy >>

http://www.hunterwriterscentre.org/shop.html

2013 The Year That Was

20132013 The Year You Were Born. 2013 on an early June morn, well before dawn.

I Wrote this as a time capsule, a snapshot of the year that my son was born, you never know it may be extremely interesting in 30-50 years.

2013 (MMXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2013th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 13th year of the 3rd millennium, the 13th year of the 21st century, and the 4th year of the 2010s decade.

Monarch was: Queen Elizabeth II

Prime Minister of Australia was: Julia Gillard (until 27 June), then Kevin Rudd (until 18 September), then Tony Abbott.

Price of Bread was: $1.50-ish (You could buy fancy stuff for upwards of five dollars, but good old plain Coles home brand bad arse white bread was only $1)

Price of a newspaper was: $1.20

Price of a movie tickets for an Adult was: $11.50

Music: One Direction’s Midnight Memories was the biggest selling artist album of the year.

Movies: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was the top grossing movie of the year.

January: On the 4th to 20th a heat wave in south-eastern Australia resulted in several bushfires in Tasmania, but in good old Australian style on the 23rd a monsoon trough passed over parts of Queensland and New South Wales, causing severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes. Ah beautiful unpredictable Aussie weather.

February: On the 17th Australia won the 2013 Women’s Cricket World Cup in India, although I doubt most of Australia realised this as they only seem to care about Male Cricket!

March: On the 21st Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a speech apologising on behalf of the federal government to families affected by forced adoption in Australia. On the 30th The Murrawarri Republic declares its independence from the Commonwealth of Australia.

April: On the 17th Australia’s greatest racing horse since Phar Lap and one of the greatest mares in world history, Black Caviar was retired on an unbeaten record of 25 wins. Which was Good! Because the old girl deserved to live the rest of her life happily.

May: On the 3rd Harrison (Harry) Miller was born giving Jaxson a little Brother and Carissa and Danny a second son.

June: On the 26th Kevin Rudd defeats Julia Gillard 57 to 45 in an Australian Labor Party leadership spill and takes over as Prime Minister. On the 27th Riley Paul Fairbairn was born at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia, 3.15am, 4.3 kilos.

July: On the 9th the Giant telescope Murchison Widefield Array telescope in Western Australia, goes online. On the 17th the Queensland Maroons win the 2013 State of Origin series, the team’s eighth consecutive win (Rugby league). Oh Well there’s always Next year for the New South Wales Blues! On the 22nd Prince George of Cambridge was born; Prince George of Cambridge is the son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and the only grandchild at the time of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales. He was born in St Mary’s Hospital, London in the United Kingdom. On the 23rd the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s AUD $630 million New Central Office is opened in Canberra.

August: On the 3rd Simon Kruger, a seven-year-old boy, goes missing in the bush after wandering away from a family picnic. He is found by searchers the next day, and claimed that a kangaroo had kept him warm as he slept under a tree. On the 12th the Euahlayi Nation declares its independence from the Commonwealth of Australia.

September: On the 7th The Liberal/National coalition led by Tony Abbott won the 2013 federal election. Bustard! Give me back the Ranga Gillard Thanks!! (but that’s just my opinion).

October: On the 6th the Sydney Roosters defeated the Manly Sea Eagles 26–18 in the 2013 NRL Grand Final. On the 13th the 2013 New South Wales bushfires begin. The fires were the worst New South Wales had seen since the 1960s. As of 19th, 248 houses and other structures were destroyed across the state. Two fatalities were attributed to the fires and it was estimated that claims would exceed $94 million. The 2013 New South Wales bushfires were a series of bushfires across the state of New South Wales starting or becoming notable on 13th; followed by the worst of the fires beginning in the Greater Blue Mountains Area on 16th and 17th. At the peak of the fires, on the morning of the 18th, over 100 fires were burning across the state. On the 22nd the Marriage Equality Act 2013 was passed in the Australian Capital Territory, making the ACT the first state or territory to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia. But the High Court chucked out ACT’s same-sex marriage laws. After being married for less than a week, same-sex couples who wed in the ACT will have their unions annulled after the High Court ruled against the laws. Very Sad! That the Australia government is so full of morons and small minded people. One day hopefully this will change.

November: On the 5th Fiorente, ridden by jockey Damien Oliver, won the 2013 Melbourne Cup. The first Melbourne Cup horse race was run in Melbourne cup 1861, so that’s 152 years so far!

December: On the 10th the analog television signal is switched off in Victoria, completing Australia’s digital television transition. On the 11th Aussie Car manufacturer Holden announces it will cease production of vehicles in Australia by 2017. Crushed, by this news I was. On the 17th Australia regains The Ashes for the first time in seven years, after winning the first three tests of the 2013–14 Ashes series (Male Cricket). On the 28th Wild Oats XI takes line honours in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the yacht’s seventh win. The First Sydney to Hobart was in 1945 and the fleet comprised 9 starters and of those 9 starters, 8 yachts completed the race. The inaugural race, like all those that followed, began on Sydney Harbour, at noon on Boxing Day (26th), before heading south for 630 nautical miles (1,170 km) through the Tasman Sea, past Bass Strait, into Storm Bay and up the Derwent River, to cross the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.

Seven Days

Seven Days: Post 63 of 365 post prompts 2014

Today’s post asks us the question; You wake up tomorrow morning to find all your plans have been cancelled for the next seven days and there is $10,000 on your dresser. Tell us about your week.

WOO HOO!!! YES PLEASE!!!

I’d nick off with my son and hubby camping at one of our fave spots. Just the three of us self-sufficient in our 4wd and roof top tent. Probably up to Lostock for a let’s say three days, then maybe even Coffs Harbour for two more. So we’d get some bush camping then some beach.

After that I’d come back home and go all out the opposite and stay at a real fancy hotel/holiday spa up the Hunter Valley. Just me and the hubby for a day/night with a gigantic spa bath, in room massages, mani and pedi treatments etc.

Aww my feet ache just thinking about it. What I wouldn’t give for a pedicure and a foot massage right now. But alas nappies and baby formula (well anything for my son) take top spot in the purchases budget over my own little luxuries these days (as with every mother).

We keep trying to get away camping but something always comes up. Life has a bad habit of getting in the way.

Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors – Post 55 of 365 writing post prompts 2014 (M29)

Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Today’s post asks us to write about a time when everything did go wrong (Fiction Encouraged).

Once upon a time

In a land not far away

I was supposed to get married

To a bloke named Murphy

Oh yay!

But on the day there was a massive storm

And by the time I made it to the chapel

The wind had blown the roof away

And turned the chapel to rubble

We made it to a replacement

A little country chapel on a hill

And as we were about to say the words

There came another wicked rumbling still

We were trampled by herds

The cows came charging in

And carried Murphy off

After all this I was rather cross

My beautiful white dress was soaked right through

And when I thought it couldn’t get worse

I tripped and fell in cow poo

I made my way home

And a few days later

A call came from Murphy

The cows had carried him half way round Australia

He said he wanted to try again

I told him there was no way the cows had killed all the men that were going to cater

No Yay!

I was sad and solemn as I hung up the phone

All I wanted was a man with which I could create a nice little home

So I went down the street

And who did I happen to meet

A man named bob

He was rather drunk on grog

And he agreed to marry me right there

We ran off and eloped

Bob was better than I had hopped

But every now and then I miss Murphy

Maybe I should have married that man

Oh well it’s too late now

I still cry every time I see a cow