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#AUSReadingMonth 2019 Wrap UP


#AUSReadingMonth 2019  kick-off  Q&A


  1. My heart broke when I heard that Louis
  2. …the koala who was saved
  3. by a very brave woman….had died.
  4. This #AUSReadingMonth 2019 will be overshadowed by
  5. some of the worst bushfires in Australian history.
  6. Help the climate…..#ShutDownAdani  coal mine!
  7. Many thanks to Brona for hosting…
  8. Link #AUSReadigMonth wrap-up @Bronasbooks
  9. I enjoyed all my books.
  10. Happy that I completed the BINGO CARD!



  1.  A Kindness CupThea Astley
  2. The River in the SkyClive James (epic poem) RIP 1939-2019
  3. The EndsisterPenni Russon
  4. Sea PeopleC. Thompson – NSW 2019 History Award
  5. Boys Will Be BoysClementine Ford
  6. Dr Space Junk vs Universe: Archaeology the FutureA. Gorman
  7. The Phoenix YearsMadeleine O’Dea
  8. An Unconventional Wife Mary Hoban
  9. Adani: Following Its Dirty FootstepsL. Simpson
  10. It’s Raining in MangoThea Astley
  11. Troll HuntingGinger Gorman
  12. The Thinking WomanJulienne van Loon
  13. Broken M. A. Butler Victorian Literary Award  2016 (drama and literature)
  14. TILT Kate Lilley  Victorian Literary Award Poetry 2019
  15. Tide of Stone K. Warren 2018 Aurealis Award  Best Horror Novel


  1. NT – Broken – Mary Anne Butler (play)
  2. TAS – The Endsister – Penni Russon
  3. SA – Boys Will Be Boys – Clementine Ford
  4. VIC – Tide of Stone – Kaaron Warren
  5. FREE – The River in the Sky – Clive James
  6. WA – The Thinking Woman – Julienne van Loon
  7. QLD – The Kindness Cup – Thea Astley
  8. NSW – The Phoenix Years – Madeleine O’ Dea
  9. ACT – Troll Hunting – Ginger Gorman






#AUSReadingMonth 2019 Clementine Ford



  1. I read Sue’s excellent post @ Whispering Gums
  2. about a disussion that took place during the
  3. Sydney Writers Festival 2019.
  4. Boys to Men: The masculinity crisis
  5. Panel: Clementine Ford, Adam Liaw, Janice Petersen (Convenor).
  6. I knew I had to read Ford’s book.
  7. Please take the time  to read Sue’s summation of the
  8. panel will enrich your reading of
  9. Boys Will Be Boys as only the author herself can do!


 Ms Ford highlights what is meant as…..

  1. Fog of  toxic masculinity
  2. ….no inside voice,
  3. preferring to roar wherever they go
  4. boisterous, barrelling through the world
  5. …with an admiral lack of restraint.
  6. They (men)  have each other’s back
  7. close ranks against anyone else who threatens them.
  8. Boys are currently conditioned to be
  9. entitled, domineering, sexist, privileged.



  1. Boys Will Be Boys
  2. Ms Ford uses this common sentiment that is bandied about
  3. without thought and expose just how damaging it is for everyone
  4. ….including boys.



  1. Gender INEQUALITY  is first learned at home
  2. Filtered down through pop culture
  3. A launching pad into even more damaging practices later.


Ch 1 – It’s a Boy –> gender stereotyping

  1. People frequently assign  sex based on
  2. arbitrary indicators (color of clothes (pink/blue),
  3. messages on t-shirts (“brave & strong” –“happy & peace”),
  4. toys (dolls vs active toys, trucks, cars etc).


Ch 2 – A Woman’s Place –> domestic dynamics

  1. Ponder this:
  2. “…women who choose to live romantically with men are acting against
  3. their own economic interest.”


  1. Ch 3 – Girls on Film –> female roles in films 
  2. Ch 4 – Not All Men –>   “..stop making me (men) feel bad.”
  3. Ch 5 – We Know What Boys Are Like –> teach men healthy intimacy
  4. Ch 6 – Mass Debate –>  Alt-right phenomenon Milos  Yiannopoulos
  5. Ch 7 – The Manosphere –> most bone-chilling chapter
  6. Ch 8 – Your Honor, I Object –> the heart of the MRA agenda (Men’s Rights Activists)
  7. Ch 9 – The King of the Hill –> power and privileged white men
  8. Ch 10 – It’s Just a Joke –> Why do comics make rape a side-splitting topic?
  9. Ch 11 – Asking For It –> Jane Doe vs players Ulster rugby team… but she consented!
  10. Ch 12 – Witch Hunt –>  #MeToo…list of shame!
  11. Epilogue –  ….a letter to her toddler son….it is a thing of beauty and love to read!



  1. This book  may seem like small comfort
  2. finally confronting the  problem of toxic masculinity
  3. that we see playing out in the
  4. workplace, home, schools, governments.
  5. But in a time like this, when it’s hard to understand how
  6. our culture became so “toxic”  with
  7. male dominance, power, privilege, misogyny
  8. reading is probably the best possible option to try to
  9. think about how society has gotten where we are now
  10. …and how we can and should change it.
  11. #EyeOpener
  12. #MustRead
  13. The book left me drained
  14. ….so much to process.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I’ve tried to read more poetry this year
  2. …and once in a  while a ‘flash’ of recognition
  3. goes off in my mind.
  4. NSW Literary Award 2019 for poetry was won by
  5. Kate Lilley, daughter of the famous poet, feminist Dorothy Hewett.
  6. Her book of poems TILT  (autobiographical and
  7. some confessional poems) will touch your heart.
  8. Unknown to me was Kate Lilley’s back round and her immersion
  9. in the Bohemian life of her parents in 1970s.
  10. She was abused by friends of parents
  11. ….male entitled predators.
  12. Lilley has suffered for years trying to put her life together
  13. after living with a mother whose motto was:
  14.  …guess what?
  15. Boys Will Be Boys”.

#Non-Fiction Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

  • Author:  Dr. Fiona Hill
  • Title: Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (2012)
  • Published: 2015 (expanded version, paperback edition)
  • Genre:  non-fiction
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #NonFicNov



  1. I am watching the Impeachment Hearings
  2. …on television this week. (21-25 November)
  3. The officials who testified were nearly all career diplomats and
  4. nonpartisan experts, professionals.
  5. They decided, at genuine risk, to fulfill  their
  6. legal and moral obligation” to appear before Congress.
  7. I was so impressed by Dr. Fiona Hill.
  8. …for her smarts, directness, and her steely self-confidence
  9. She said she felt a “duty” to testify.
  10. She is an example to many potential witnesses who
  11. …will not testify…to finally “woman-up”.
  12. Dr. Fiona Hill was NOT someone the Republicans wanted to hear from.
  13. I KNEW  after her testimony…I had to read her book!



Why is Putin the world’s new strong guy
…and why should you know more about him?

Read this impressive book for beginners
Putin 101.

Russia has an
— economy the size of Spain
— corruption on a par with Papua New Guinea
— life expectancy below Libya

But Putin is still the puppet master and is pulling the strings!

— well-armed, largely professional fighting force
— is politically more astute than the West
— sticks by his allies.
— plays to his strengths
— does not buckle under pressure…he adapts.
— does not create a vacuum that can be filled by a rival power




Studies the six identities of Putin
looking at the details,
their central elements, evolution
and  roots in Russian history and culture.
First three identities are goal oriented
Statist, History Man, Survivalist.



The last three identities are more personal:
Outsider, Free-Marketeer, Case Officer.
Putin used certain means to achieve his ends
his childhood, working class, KGB training
spycraft in East Germany and
…local government in St. Petersburg.


Book’s Objective:

Trace the evolution of Putin’s thinking
Russia vs outside world.
Show how Putin translated this thinking
into action as Operative Abroad.




#AUSReadingMonth 2019 The Thinking Woman




Julienne Van Loon engages with the work of
six leading contemporary thinkers and writers
Rosi Braidotti (ch 6, Friendship),
Nancy Holmstrom, Siri Hustvedt,
Laura Kipnis (ch 1, Love),
Julia Kristeva and Marina Warner.


Chapters 1 and 6 stand out for me…most captivating.
Other readers may find ch 3-5 also fascinating.


It is buoyant, intelligent and very satisfying book
as it delivers a solid dose of thought about
love, work, wonder, fear, friendship and play.


Ms Van Loon reveals we are in this together
…but we are not one in the same.


Rosi Braidotti’s inspiration was Spinoza.
I found this the most interesting part of the book.


Trust in our shared intimacy with and knowledge of
the world and our lived experience of it.


Ms Van loon does share her intimate experiences….


#AUSReadingMonth 2019 An Unconventional Wife


Hook: introduction 

  1. Ms Hoban explains what drew
  2. …her to write about Julia Sorell Arnold
  3. It was very personal  text that
  4. …made this reader eager to continue reading!
  5. I had to find out if Tom Arnold could
  6. …tame the high spirited Julia Sorell
  7. ..the the ruling belle of Hobart of Tasmania
  8. ..into the Victorian ideal of a wife?


Conflict:  Tom vs Julia …and religion

  1. In the world that Julia and Tom inhabited
  2. religion was never simply about belief.
  3. It was about position. economic stability and place in society.
  4. This was true for Tom and Julia…and their children.


Tom’s weak point:

  1. He had a tyrannical understanding of marriage.
  2. He turned the blowtorch onto Julia.
  3. He blamed her for all that had happened to them.


Julia’s  strong point:

  1. For a woman….marriage was a destiny,
  2. …nothing more, nothing less.
  3. But Julia would be…
  4. a revolutionary wife.
  5. not go where Tom took her
  6. not believe what he believed
  7. not do as he asked.



  1. This is a magnificent biography!
  2. Mary Hoban just swept me away to Tasmania and
  3. …then on to Brussels, England and Ireland.
  4. I was so engrossed in the story I had no time to take notes!
  5. Julia felt like a very modern woman…in a Victorian world:
  6. She was fiercely independent.
  7. Tom radiates toxic masculinity in every chapter.
  8. As in many marriages…partners hope to change each other’s behavior.
  9. We read in this book the collision course
  10. that Tom and Julia were destined to follow.
  11. Tom’s wife must in all things submit to him.
  12. Julia cannot give up her own soul.
  13. Their relationship becomes a battle to the death.
  14. Julia refused to adhere to the ideal of a Victorian woman.
  15. She refused to be silent.
  16. #Excellent biography!


Last Thoughts:  (feedback to @bronasbooks)

  1. I rarely get ‘swept’ away with a biography but
  2. my heart just went out to Julia Sorell Arnold!
  3. Mary Hoban writes with a flair that touches on a novel….
  4. it is a well-crafted, beautifully rendered meditation on
  5. abandonment (Julia – mother)
  6. marriage (opposites attract)
  7. religion (Catholic and Protestant….sharing the same bed!)
  8. grief, (loss beloved father; children [stillborn, sickness])
  9. the ‘can’t live with you…but can’t live without you’
  10. ….type relationship between Julia and Arnold.
  11. It seem distance does make the heart grow fonder
  12. …and not to mention 9 children!
  13. I could go on and on
  14. ….but I hope this book is on your TBR
  15. great read during Xmas holidays!




#AUSReadingMonth People’s Choice QLD 2019


Introduction:   Why is the Adani mine controversial?

  1. Highlights the political divide in Australia to mitigate climate change.
  2. Adani paid  500 million dollars for the Carmichael Coal tenement in 2010.
  3. It wants to export coal for electricity to Asia and home market India.
  4. The mine is not open yet!
  5. The project is an issue for an environmental movement
  6. ….trying to stop new thermal coal mines.


What does Ms Lindsy Simpson hope to prove with her book?

  1. Ms Simpson wants to cast further scrutiny on
  2. Australia ‘s environmental reputation on the world stage.


Ch 1 – The Courting of a Mining Magnate

  1. 2017 Turnbull government (2015-2018)  is well aware
  2. …of the catastrophic carbon footprint that Adani will create in Australia.
  3. With help of Murdoch Press a spin of doubt was created
  4. …to embolden the choir of people refusing to believe in the effects of climate change.


Ch 2 – The Dirty Truth

  1. 83% of mines in Australia is foreign owned
  2. …so claiming that the mining industry is of national interest is a myth.
  3. Core message of this book create new headlines to
  4. awaken the public to the environmental catastrophes
  5. It must show the public that the culprits of these disasters
  6. ….can just walk away unpunished!


Ch 3 – The Custodians of the Great Barrier Reef

  1. Describes author’s strong personal connection to
  2. Great Barrie Reef and the  main threats for this World Heritage Site:
  3. 3 LNG  (liquid natural gas) plants on Curtis Island,
  4. leakage of dredge spoil from Port of Gladstone,
  5. expansion Abbot Point coal terminal and
  6. increased shipping into the reef: estimate 2032 10.000 ships per year.


Ch 4 – The Midas Touch – At What Cost? – info relationship Adani and PM India Modi

Ch 5 – Confronting the God Adani – trip to India to confront Adani with petition

Ch 6 – The Coal King of the World

  1. Backround info about Adani Group
  2. Note: Autthor asks how can Australian politicians
  3. be so gulible to actively court this environmental polluter?


Ch 7 – Digging up the Dirt on Adani – threats to Australian groundwater  (Adani)

Ch 8 – The Swirling Dervish – author’s experience in cyclone Debbie

Ch 9 – The Ping Pong Politics of Climate Change – visit to Federal Parliament  March 2016

Ch 10 – An About Face

  1. Ms A. Palaszczuk an Australian politician and 39th Premier of Queensland
  2. …and passionate defender of the Adani coal mine
  3. …suddenly veto’s 1 billion Adani loan
  4. …so Adani receives NO tax-payers’ funds to build railway.
  5. What happened?


Ch 11 – The Carbon Bomb is Ticking – (longest chapter)

  1. Adani continued to  employ tactics of divide and conquer
  2. ,,,,indigenous Wangan and Jagalingou people.
  3. As of September 2019  the Queensland Government has
  4. …wiped clean the Native Title on W&J country
  5. …for the controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine.
  6. The QLD Government and Adani had worked
  7. hand in hand and sealed the deal in secret.



  1. This is an eye-opener for me as I have NEVER
  2. heard of the controversy about the Adani Coal Mine in QLD, Australia.
  3. Lindsay Simpson reveals the workings of the Adani group
  4. who work (together with PM Modi of India) in
  5. an apparently innocuous way guaranteeing jobs (mining)
  6. and cheap energies from imported coal for Asia.
  7. But their operations have nevertheless deadly effects
  8. on climate change.
  9. Why we are still using a 19th century fuel in the 21st century?
  10. #MustRead  



#AusReadingMonth 2019 Madeleine O’ Dea


Madeleine O’Dea:

  1. Madeleine O’Dea is a journalist and foreign correspondent.
  2. She has been an eyewitness for over 30 years to the rise of China.
  3. She has witnessed the explosion of China’s  contemporary art.



  1. Madeleine O’Dea tell us the personal stories
  2. of nine contemporary Chinese artists.
  3. The Phoenix Years shows how China’s rise unleashed creativity
  4. and sparked tensions between the individual and the state.
  5. The book reveals…
  6. the difficult compromises artists and others
  7. have to make …to be citizens in modern China.



  1. The artists in this book were reared in the post-Mao Zedong era.
  2. They are known to avoid  the overly political themes of previous generations.
  3. They concentrate  on merging classical Eastern modes of art-making
  4. …with contemporary issues.


What makes this book so unique?

  1. Ms. O’Dea explores how the
  2. past weighed down on China
  3. …and what is happening now
  4. …in modern China (muscular government).
  5. But she does this while investigating the question:
  6. “Where were the artists in all this?


Strong point:   I was introduced to many contemporary Chinese artists:


Huang Rui  (1952) (plays a prominent role in this book)

  1. Huang experienced firsthand the Cultural Revolution (1966–76).
  2. As a teenager,  he was sent from Beijing to Inner Mongolia
  3. to work on a farm under Mao Zedong’s reeducation campaign.
  4. Upon Mao’s death in 1976, which led to the end of the revolution,
  5. the political climate loosened and a wave of cultural ferment swept the nation.
  6. He experimented with Impressionist, Cubist and Fauvist styles.
  7. Stars (group of artists)  disbanded in 1984, with several of its
  8. practitioners moving overseas.
  9. Huang, who married a Japanese woman the same year,
  10. then entered the first of two periods of self-exile in Japan.
  11. He didn’t return to Beijing to settle down permanently until 2002.


Cao Fei  (1978)

  1. She Cao taps into popular culture and draws from
  2. classic arcade games to show how the notion of escapism.
  3. She was born in 1978 in Guangzhou  on the
  4. Pearl River and the manufacturing center of China.
  5. She grew up absorbing the various influences
  6. that flooded her hometown and focused on
  7. creating art that examined China’s economic boom.


Guo Jian (1961)

  1. He migrated to Australia in 1992 working as a house painter, brickie.
  2. Today the  National Gallery of Australis, GOMA and White Rabbit are among
  3. the Australian institutions that have collected his work.
  4. Guo Jian has been creating photographs he took in China on the piles of
  5. rubbish that are obliterating the landscape of his youth. (Rubbish Culture)


Zhang Xiaogang (1958)

  1. He is a Chinese symbolist and surrealist painter.
  2. He is famous with his Bloodline series, where mostly monochromatic,
  3. stylized portraits of Chinese people are presented as
  4. part of the artist’s exploration of the ‘family’ concept.
  5. He reconciles China’s choppy recent history in art
  6. …and is one of the most important painters working in China today.
  7. Here is a great link “Zhang Xiaogang explained in 5 paintings


  1. Ms O’ Dea’s book combines information about
  2. Chinese economic transformation
  3. and what was happening in private lives.
  4. Core message: how closely intertwined process of artistic
  5. …and economic awakening were for China.
  6. I had difficulty following all the names
  7. mentioned until I discovered that at the
  8. end of the book is glossary of all artists.
  9. Look at their photographs b/c it is
  10. easier to follow if you can connect a name to a face.
  11. The book pivots in chapter 6!
  12. The narrative is more personal and
  13. we follow Ms O’Dea back to China in 1993.
  14. She shares what she feared she would find.


Last thoughts:

  1. This book was amazing.
  2. Once I discovered the structure of the narrative
  3. it was all smooth reading.
  4. Ms O’Dea introduces the artists in chapters 1-5
  5. and we meet them again 20 years
  6. later at the end of the book.
  7. Buckle up for a wonderful ride
  8. …through modern China that you don’t find on Wikipedia!
  9. #Bravo

#AUSReadingMonth Dr. Space Junk vs The Universe



  1. The 52-year-old space archaeologist at
  2. …Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia,
  3. is living her childhood dream.
  4. She is weighing up spacecraft,
  5. landing sites and debris flying around Earth and
  6. deciding if a relic should be preserved or
  7. …simply remain  junk based on its cultural and heritage value.


Core message:

  1. Ms Gorman wants to take a physical journey through the solar system and
  2. ….a conceptual journey into human interactions with space.



  1. This is not a book to read in bed
  2. …the first 2 chapters…I kept falling asleep.
  3. Not the most interesting subjects…


  1. Project Moonwatch…citizens watching for  satellites with binoculars/telescopes
  2. Ham radio amateurs ….citizens listening to space-age sounds in  sheds and backyards
  3. Attempted space probes by Soviet Union (1961-1984) to reach Venus…Venera landers
  4. Musk’s red sports car jettisoned into space…..not interested
  5. Food to commemorate space ….the intangible heritage of the Space Age? …not interested
  6. Culinary legacy of the Cold War: Sputnik cocktail,
  7. …olive with toothpicks = Sputnik…not interested.
  8. TV and space: My Favorite Martian, I Dream of Jeannie...not interested
  9. Companies who will launch you ashes inside a spacecraft into low orbit....not interested
  10. and the book goes on, and on, and on like this ad nauseam



  1. Book was like a dog’s breakfast….a failed culinary effort.
  2. It felt confused, slapdash, unfocused, rambling and prolific repetition.
  3. I started the book with high hopes
  4. …but with each chapter I struggled to
  5. get through the next few pages.
  6. All that was left was to skim and look away.
  7. Dr Space Junk vs The Universe?
  8. It was a junk heap of words.
  9. #Bah
  10. …….a dull book which even drink can’t enliven much.





#AUSReadingMonth 2019 Sea People

Bora Bora



  1. Christina Thompson and her family (Maori husband and three sons)
  2. spent 8 weeks traveling across the Pacific, with stops in
  3. Tahiti, Ra’iatea, the Marquesas, the Tuamotu Archipelago, T
  4. onga, Hawai’i, New Zealand, and Vanuatu.
  5. They visited:
  • two points of the Polynesian triangle (Hawai’i and New Zealand);
  • a center of ancient Polynesian culture (Tahiti, Ra’iatea);
  • one of the earliest Polynesian settlements (Tonga);
  • and the most famous Lapita cemetery in the Western Pacific (Vanuatu).

Polynesian Triangle ( 10.000.000 square miles!)


What is the  CORE MESSAGE ?

  1. Problems of Polynesian origins – a great geographical mystery
  2. How did the Sea People spread themselves over the vast ocean (P.Triangle)
  3. The problem is that the events are pre-history, no written records
  4. .…open to interpretation.
  5. Christina Thompson does NOT just follow
  6. ….  James Cook’s three expeditions.
  7. She approaches the origin of the Polynesian ‘Sea People’  from a fresh angle:
  8. NOT what happened…
  9. ….but HOW WE KNOW what happened in the Pacific.
  10. In 20th C science delivers up whole new bodies of information.
  11. In 1970s an experimental voyaging movement emerged.
  12. Scientists used computer simulation the chance of
  13. settling Polynesia by drift voyagages alone was very small.
  14. There had to be some human decision making taken into account.
  15. This  was to show that the ancient Polynesians
  16. …could have purposefully settled the Polynesian Triangle
  17. in double-hulled, voyaging canoes.


What did the Polynesians use to navigate?

  1. Without the aid of sextants or compasses
  2. …the ancient Polynesians navigated their canoes by the
  3. stars and other signs that came from the ocean and sky
  4. for example clouds, swells.


When did the Polynesians explore?

  1. 1200 BC – Polynesians reached Samoa and Tonga 
  2. 300 AD they fanned out to the Marquesas
  3. 400-600 AD heading north to the Hawaiian Islands


Where did the Polynesians come from?

  1. One of the most famous people to investigate
  2. and write about  this was Abraham Fornander (1812 – 1887)
  3. He was a Swedish-born emigrant
  4. …who became an important Hawaiian journalist.
  5. He was committed to the Aryan thesis:
  6. ancestors of Polynesians were a chip of the same block
  7. from which the Hindu, Iranian and Indo-European family
  8. were fashioned.


Strong point:

  1. I knew NOTHING about James Cook’s expeditions
  2. …and this was a great overview of his three journeys.


Strong point:

  1. Thompson makes the book so interesting by discussing
  2. unexpected and closely related topics
  3. to explain the Polynesian Triangle
  4. …Part III, ch 1 “Drowned Continents”
  5. The Belgian voyager, scientist
  6. Jacques-Antoine Moerenhout (1796-1879)
  7. dedicated many years searching for
  8. the origin of the Polynesians and their culture.


Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands


Strong point:  structure

  1. This book was easy to follow…even if you need to
  2. take a break and read something else.
  3. Thompson has divided the book in 6 parts
  4. The Eyewitness (1521-1722)
  5. Connecting the Dots (1764-1778)  James Cook voyages
  6. Why Not Just Ask (1778-1920)
  7. The Rise of Science (1920-1959)
  8. Setting Sail (1947-1980)
  9. What We Know Now (1990-2018) DNA and Dates


Weak point:  (Part II, chapter 4)

  1. Discussions about the Indo-European language family
  2. that is related to the languages used in Polynesia were
  3. took some determination to get through…but i did it.
  4. But this is important to know to discover the origin of
  5. the ‘sea people’ in Polynesia…by means of linguistics.



  1. This book is not ONLY about the Polynesian mariners
  2. but also about the people who over the years have
  3. puzzled over their history
  4. …sailors, linguists, biologists, voyagers, geographers etc.
  5. I did not know Robert Lewis Stevenson visited the
  6. Marquesas Islands!
  7. This was a very interesting book…with some parts that
  8. were amazing
  9. …voyages and methods of
  10. …navigating without compass or sextant,
  11. …other parts a bit soporific (linguistics).
  12. This book is well worth your reading time!
  13. #NonFictionLovers


Last Thoughts:

  1. I recommend the audio book (11 hrs 40 min)
  2. A narrating voice brings life into this very
  3. interesting book.
  4. If you first want get into the Polynesian mood
  5. before you start this book
  6. …sit down (…with the kids) and watch
  7. Disney’s 2016 film Moana!






#AUSReadingMonth 2019 The Endsister



  1. The Outhwaite family inherits an old mansion
  2. …on the other side of the world.
  3. Supernatural forces, events and ghosts soon appear!
  4. Parents:
  5. Olly – Mother (teacher)
  6. Dave – father (lawyer who left the law to work with hands, build fences)
  7. Outhwaite children:
  8. Teenage Else, the violinist who abandons her violin
  9. Nature-loving Clancy.
  10. Twins, Oscar-and-Finn, Finn-and-Oscar
  11. Baby of the family, Sibbi
  12. Ghosts:
  13. Almost Annie (AA)
  14. Hardly Alice  (HA)


Parallels: ghosts vs sisters

  1. Penni Russon has carefully thought out her characters:
  2. AA and Sibbi are both sensitive and the younger ghost, younger (end) sister
  3. HA and Else are both detached and the elder ghost and elder sister


Contrasts:  Sibbi – Else:  chapter 42

  1. Sibbie  claims to see the ghosts
  2. Else describes herself “I am a ghost”.
  3. Else:” I wander the house as silent as a ghosts that Sibbi keeps claiming to see
  4. I am a ghost, watching from a great distance, never answering.”


Contrasts:  Mother (Olly) vs  Father (Dave)

  1. She is not a ‘hands-on’ mother.
  2. I felt her priorties were unbalanced after the
  3. move to London. The children are dealing with a
  4. massive shift in environment
  5. (no friends, lost pets, comfort of a familiar home)
  6. Olly is  more concerned with finishing her thesis.
  7. The father, Dave, in contrast, has given up his job a a  lawyer and
  8. turned to working with his hands
  9. being closer to home
  10. (carpentry, building fences, working the land).
  11. In London Dave  takes the children on school tours
  12. ….while Olly is writing at home.
  13. The most beneficial thing for teenagers and younger children
  14. is good relationships with their parents.
  15. Will Olly change…?
  16. …and learn to spend more loving, quality time with her children.


Symbol: violin

  1. Penni Rousson has taken a simple violin to propel the plot.
  2. Young readers perhaps can connect with Else who wants
  3. to abandon music lessons (…I did too when I learned to play  the piano!)
  4. But the violin conveys deeper levels of meaning about Else.
  5. Violin music means that you are full of 
  6. interior grace and a kind of beauty.
  7. This interior and can never be taken away at any time in your life,
  8. Else.…has an interior she has not yet discovered.
  9. Many people  assure her she has musical talent
  10. ….but she must find that out for herself.
  11. Abandon violin lessons….?
  12. …or persevere and find the best in yourself. (achieve goals)
  13. Encouraging a child to partake in music, sports or academics helps
  14. a child’s brain to be hardwired for  the future.


Points of tension:

  1. Keeping reader turning the pages:
  2. Attic room that no one must ever enter, why?
  3. What will family do once Aunt Dorthy’s estate is settled?
  4. In attic smth is waking….cold damp shadow drifts into Sibbi’s heart. (omen)
  5. She take scissors from desk in the study.
  6. She hides them in her bedroom…why?
  7. Sibbi: “I know what an endsister is.”
  8. (…reader does not yet know!) (ch 50)
  9. Does Outhwiate House need  a ghostbuster?


Strong  point: 

  1. Ghosts are speaking in only 11 chapter of 85!
  2. That is only 12%.
  3. In the moments their voice is heard
  4. ….they are just chatting
  5. not sending  shivers down my spine!
  6. But Penni Russon does not disappoint
  7. after she raised the feeling of spooky dread
  8. …in the second half of the book.
  9. The children have voice in chapters
  10. 32 chapters Else (16 yr…teen trying to fit in, make friends) 38%
  11. 21 chapters Sibbi (4yr….many tantrums, haunted by ghosts) 24%
  12. 19 chapters Clancy (14 yr…nature/animal lover, misses his dog and possum) 22%
  13. The twins speak in chapters….but not noted
  14. separately in titled sections.


Strong point:

  1. A child wants to feel safe and protected in his/her own home
  2. That is why Penni Russon spends 23 % of the book emphasizing how
  3. difficult it is for the children to leave  their home Australia
  4. board a plane and live in an
  5. old mansion in England with no friends around them.
  6. Example: ch 13
  7. Sibbi: The last time doing…. many things,
  8. Can you really get sick of home? (Sibbi)
  9. Oh, it’s not a real sickness, Sibbi. More like sadness (Mother)
  10. Russon  also includes situations kids can relate to:
  11. moving house, quitting music lessons, losing pets
  12. …Spider the dog and Hester the possum.


Weak point:  pace

  1. First 23% book….dragged on and on,
  2. family dynamics, at the airport, in the plane
  3. …..when will the ghost story start?
  4. I expected a spooky story and a house haunted by ghosts
  5. from the beginning of the book.
  6. Penni Russon has decided that family dynamics
  7. is an important part of the book.
  8. I agree family is important…but moving from Australia to London
  9. could have been written in a few chapters instead of 20 chapters!


Weak point

  1. Those who love action and tension should look for another book.
  2. 50% of the book  is about moving house, flying to England,
  3. choosing bedrooms in old mansion and taking school tours.
  4. When and what will trigger a building the sense of dread?
  5. .keep reading…in chapter 60….then it starts!


Strong point:    Else vs. Olly (Mother)

  1. Penni Russon cleverly uses role reversal literary device.
  2. Else (16 yr) is forced to exchange the duties and
  3. …responsibilities with her mother.
  4. Each is now doing what the other used to do.
  5. Instead of being a helper (Olly),
  6. the Mother needs help.
  7. Else is the adult-like character in chapter 64!
  8. This chapter is filled with Else’s reflections.….
  9. Excellent example how a teenager grows and changes!
  10. #EpiphanyMoment
  11. “This is the tight little life I have made for myself….”


Weak point:

  1. Russon describes  in chapter 1 something unknown
  2. in the attic room that on must ever enter
  3. ...cobwebbed, shadows shrinking from approaching light.”
  4. This hook would hold any reader’s interest.
  5. Unfortunately we hear no more references to it.
  6. After reading 34% of the book…. (ch 30)
  7. “the murmuring of its shadow-self up in the attic…”
  8. is mentioned.
  9. I feel between 1%-34% there
  10. should be more indications that
  11. …spookiness is coming.
  12. Use the hook more often!


Strong point:      characterization

  1. Penni Russon subtly reveals through
  2. the  Else’s many reflections…
  3.   — the teenage brain —
  4. Else’s inexplicable behavior
  5. Mood Swings
  6. “You just don’t understand”
  7. Trapped in a cage



  1. It is difficult for me to review children’s literature.
  2. I have to look at the book from the child’s POV! 
  3. The narrative at first glance can be read in  a few hours.
  4. But I decided to read slowly, deeper and try to
  5. discover WHY this book was awarded
  6. Aurealis Award  Best children’s fiction 2018.
  7. There were weak points…and strong points
  8. because we all read a book in our own personal way.
  9. This  simple children’s book…was a challenge in
  10. more ways than one.
  11. I had  to reminded myself that it is NOT written to
  12. please an adult reader (me)…but for children.
  13. I had to go back many years and place myself in
  14. a childhood bubble!
  15. #WorthYourReadingTIme


Last Thoughts:

  1. This book surprised me!
  2. Well-constructed,
  3. characters with clear foil to highlight differences, e
  4. motion controlled…
  5. spookiness suggested.
  6. Great reading for young children and adults!