Reviews Published

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jetstar? No, thanks!

I'm getting everything ready for the GenreCon 2012 in Sydney this weekend...

... but ...

... what a disappointing experience with the Jetstar luggage upgrade! At the time of booking my tickets online, back in May, I didn't get the option of choosing how many bags to check in: it was either 1 bag per passenger, or none. Because I only wanted to check in 1 bag for 4 people, I thought I'd speak to Jetstar in person and arrange that. You know, being environmentally responsible for the number of kilograms we fly across the Tasman Pond, and all.
Well, with my flight only 3 days away, I finally did it. Downside? It's cost me more than 4 times what I would have paid at the time of booking. So I may as well have gone with the 1 bag per person option in the first place.

Guess who will not be using Jetstar _ever_ again? Yes, well done, Air New Zealand and Qantas, you have got yourselves 4 new customers... and you didn't have to do a thing!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keeping The House by Ellen Baker

KEEPING THE HOUSE came to me recommended by one of my very favourite authors, Joshilyn Jackson. It's a sprawling saga (elegantly sprawling, beautifully sprawling, sprawling with a purpose, you could say) of the family who lived in the beautiful big house on the hill in a little town. Legend has it there's a curse on the house and all who live in it, but even without that extra bait, it's an extraordinary novel.

Here are a few random things I love about the book:
  • The beautiful yet readable language.
  • The 1950s setting - oh, how I long to be a housewife with nothing better to do than record the yearly dinner menu (and read books, and write books, and mess around on Facebook, of course)!
  • The plot that twists and turns in a way I couldn't predict.
Interesting enough, it wasn't about the characters. Normally, characters make or break fiction for me. In KEEPING THE HOUSE, I didn't really have a favourite character, one I liked above all others, one whose fortune I'd be happy to put ahead of another. There wasn't a single character I found totally heroic, totally admirable, totally lovable. And yet, I wished them all good luck as I raced through he book, turning and turning those pages.

A must read.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When Cultures Collide

Having lived on three continents, I pride myself on knowing plenty about the clash of different cultures. Which is probably why the book "Almost French" has struck such a chord with me. It's a first-person true-life account of an Australian girl who moved to Paris to be with her boyfriend.

This is not a love story. Apart from an initial statement that there was a spark between them, you don't get a spectator's view into her heart or her bedroom. What you do get is an account of how painful, frustrating, and ultimately wonderful it is to assimilate into a new culture. You get to tut-tut with her over the crazy Parisienne folk, cry with her when she longs for the open spaces of the Southern Hemisphere, and almost taste the black truffle shavings in her salad.

Don't be misguided by the old-fashioned cover: this book is fresh and fun!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

History of the Housewife

I'm reading a fascinating book: INSIDE STORIES by Frances Walsh. It's a non-fiction account of the housewife's role in New Zealand from 1895 till 1975. (In 1975, it became fashionable not to be a housewife, or at least not to admit to being one.)

What struck me was how different women's magazines were back then: real articles about real issues (including World War 2), loads of advice from how to clean a water stain off a table to dating tips, and almost no celebrities! (When they did interview celebrities, they asked for household tips. Now that's putting Ms Jolie in her place!)

The book made me think about the lives our grandmothers led. The things they thought about before they closed their eyes at night. Their daily chores.

What modern invention reduced the workload of the housewife? I posed this question on my Facebook page, and the answers varied from plumbing to the pill.

For me personally, it's probably the supermarket. I struggle to find time to make bread at home - imagine having to kill and pluck your own chicken!