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#Poetry Eva Bourke (Irish poet)


Finished: 25.06.2019
Genre: poetry (39 poems)
Rating: A+++



  1. Perfect 92 pages to enjoy during a heat wave
  2. …refreshing as a glass of summer lemonade with ice!

  1. Not every poem is a ‘home-run’ but all in all
  2. an excellent collection!
  3. Poems are like people.
  4. When you meet people you can like someone immediately
  5. …or don’t even like them at first. Then, gradually, as you get
  6. to know them you begin to apprecaite their qualities.
  7. So is it with poems:
  8. poem is immediately enjoyable
  9. reminds you of something you experienced
  10. “ How true, I felt exactly the same!”
  11. Some poems are  hard to understand at first.
  12. .and by the second reading you start
  13. to understand what the poet is really saying.
  14. My favorite poems were:
  15. Seeing Yellow – excellent (…hospital visit to the now late poet Pearse Hutchinson)
  16. Heimat – breathtaking
  17. Lament for the Birds (discover who Bourke is talking about …poem is a puzzle!)
  18. My brother writes to me – (…reality of chemotherapy and counting swallows)
  19. By the River – pastoral poem at its best!
  20. Plans – dedicated to her husband Ono …the love of her life (RIP 28.12.2017)


Strong point:

  1. Eva Bourke makes some
  2. …original and imaginative comparisons
  3. to convey shades of meaning in a few words.
  4. Example:
  5. Sunflowers:  ‘rough stalks like tourches’
  6. Sky:  ‘so smooth like a freshly ironed sheet’
  7. Birds: ‘…fell like stars from the sky into the river to catch their prey’
  8. Beetles: “…like miniature knights chiselled from jet
  9. …dispatched on impossible errands..”


Last thoughts:

  1. ….IMO
  2. 11 Excellent poems
  3. 8 very good poems
  4. 12 average…did not make emotional impression on me
  5. 8 .. not my kind of poems
  6. …experimental, fragmented
  7. …for poetry die hards!
  8. Book is available via Kindle
  9. …and perhaps in your library!
  10. #QuickRead
  11. .poetry  really does refresh the soul!


“Seeing Yellow” (title poem  about sunflowers is…..magical!)



#Non-fiction Pulitzer Prize for Biography 2019



  1. I agree with other readers
  2. ….this book is comprehensive and very detailed.
  3. It is important to realize that there
  4. …are different types of non-fiction:
  5. literary non-fiction vs commercial non-fiction:
  6. There’s a difference between the book as
  7. cultural work of art and the book as entertainment
  8. …in the same way that there’s a
  9. difference between a classical symphony and a musical.
  10. If you are looking for a high octane entertainment buzz…
  11. you may be disappointed…as I was.
  12. If you see this book as a glimpse into an area of progress
  13. in the Harlem Renaissance…and all that has come out of
  14. that will be delighted.
  15. It depends on what you are looking for.
  16. #DecideForYourself

Paris in July 2019

  • Oh, is it July already?
  • Let’s have a glass of wine and
  • think of some things to do for…


2018  POSTS:

  1. Paris in July Food Journal
  2. Crème du Citron
  3. French Wine
  4. Biscuits Breton
  5. Cocktail: Kir Royale
  6. Cocktail: Soixante-quinze ’75’
  7. Cocktail: What do I do with Campari, Marguerite Duras?
  8. Cocktail: Who Pays the Bartender?
  9. Madeleines
  10. Biography: Berthe Morisot
  11. Essays: Victor Hugo
  12. Quiche Lorraine
  13. List of French Books



Paris in July

  1. Paris in July is a French themed blogging
  2. …experience running from the 1st – 31st July this year.
  3. The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through
  4. actual visits, or through reading, watching, listening,
  5. observing, cooking and eating all things French!
  6. For more instructions how to share your posts go to Thyme for Tea.


  1. There will be no rules or targets …just blog about anything French
  2. …and you can join in! Some ideas might include;
  3. reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction,
  4. watching a French movie,
  5. listening to French music,
  6. cooking French food,
  7. experiencing French, art, architecture and travel.
  8. #ParisInJuly2019



#Play The Glass Menagerie

  • Title: The Glass Menagerie
  • Playwright: Tennessee Williams
  • Genre: memory play
  • Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Performance: Broadway debut  31 March 1945
  • Trivia: 1945 NY Drama Critics Circle Award  Best American Play
  • Wikipedia link:  The Glass Menagerie
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #20BooksOfSummer


  • Actresses:
  • Amanda Wingfield is one of the great
  • roles written for older women for the stage.
  • Many great actresses have played the part:
  • Laurette Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Joanne Woodward,
  • Maureen Stapleton Jessica Tandy, Julie Harris, and Jessica Lange.
  • The most recent was May 2017 with Sally Field:


  1. The Wingfield family is based on the plawrights family.
  2. Restless son Tom. (based on the playwright)
  3. Crippled sister Laura
  4. Manic mother Amanda.
  5. The entire play is Tom’s recollection
  6. …of his sister and mother
  7. as he has never been able to forget about them.


Dysfunctional family…falling apart

  1. Faded Southern belle (Amanda)
  2. having outlived the southern past.
  3. Amanda – Tom – Laura
  4. …characters tear each other apart.
  5. Setting:
  6. moved from the South to urban society
  7. searching for the American Dream



  1. Illusion vs truth 
  2. Parent (Amanda) not able to accept who her
  3. children (Tom, Laura)  are
  4. …and what they will not be


  1. Appearance vs reality
  2. Success  is dependent on appearance
  3. ….girls should be attractive to entertain gentlemen-callers


  1. Past vs present
  2. Fantasizing about the  past  – Amanda faded Southern belle)
  3. Running away from the past – Tom, aspiring poet, writer
  4. Unable to see past or future  – Laura, detached from reality
  5. …her unicorn doesn’t even represent a realistic animal!


Life lesson:

  1. One can try to escape the past and one’s ties to family
  2. …. but the bonds are too strong’
  3. Tom has managed to escape the family but
  4. they still have a psychological hold on him.
  5. At the end of the play Tom says:
  6. “Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me,
  7. but I am more faithful than I intended to be!”


  1. Note:
  2. The troubled life of Rose Williams
  3. …haunts the works of her brother Tennessee.
  4. Williams was devoted to Rose and cared for her until his death.
  5. Rose is the model for the withdrawn, disabled “Laura Wingfield”
  6. …who seeks refuge in her
  7. …collection of glass animals in The Glass Menagerie.



  1. Masterpiece!
  2. #MustRead

#NSW Premier’s Award Winner 2019 The Lebs

  • Author: Michael Mohammed Ahmad
  • Title: The Lebs
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Award WINNER Multicultural  Writing
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @HachetteAus


  1. M.M. Ahmad, second generation Arab-Australian Muslim
  2. whose family was illiterate.
  3. He has worked very hard to become a creative writer:
  4. four years completing an arts degree
  5. two years completing my honors degree
  6. another four years completing my PhD.
  7. M.M. Ahmad deserves 5 stars!
  8. Next generation of new Australian writers….



  1. Gritty, raw look at
  2. the world that M. M. Ahmad knows so well.
  3. His grandparents came to Australia from Lebanon in 1970
  4. …with no money and no education.
  5. Ahmad has worked hard to master creative writing
  6. …and his 2nd novel is the result.
  7. It is a compelling achievement.
  8. The language is filled with expletives
  9. …but I’ve learned to read around that aspect of the book!
  10. Main character is Bani…a teenager dealing with
  11. many of the usual issues teenage boys face —
  12. gender, sexuality, race, and class….
  13. whilst also trying to obtain an education.
  14. Bani is a Leb second generation Arab-Australian Muslim
  15. growing up in Western Sydney between the
  16. years 1998 and 2005
  17. …what he is describing feels like  a war zone!


Last thoughts:

  1. I saw M. M. Ahmad accept the NSW Lit Award 2019
  2. for Multicultural Writing via an internet link
  3. with the ceremonies on April 29th.
  4. I was not going to read this book but felt I should
  5. investigate another side of Australia  other than bush stories.
  6. M. M. Ahmad has impressed met with his novel.
  7. Gripping  look at  the Arab-Australian Muslim male identity.
  8. It is told from the perspective of Bani Adam
  9. a fictional version of the author.
  10. This book is buoyant, intelligent
  11. …and very satisfying as it
  12. …delivers a solid dose of uncomfortable truth.
  13. #MustRead

#NSW Premier’s Award shortlist Robert Lukins


Finished: 17.04.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: A+



  1. During the freezing English winter of 1962,
  2. seventeen-year-old Radford is sent to Goodwin Manor.
  3. It is a home for boys who have been ‘found by trouble’.
  4. Drawn immediately to the charismatic boy…West.
  5. …Radford soon discovers that each one of them
  6. …has something to hide.


Cover:  symbol =  great oak

  1. “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”
  2. Or as Chaucer wrote in 1374,
  3. “as an oak cometh of a litel spyr (sapling)”.



  1. Strong point: foreshadowing
  2. Lukins interjects the ‘thoughts’ of winter
  3. …that builds the tension.
  4. You know something dreadful is going to happen:
  5. …Winter drew air into its cheeks and readied its spears
  6. …perhaps a lesson could go untaught
  7. Winter’s hands could remain clean of blood.
  8. Strong point: foils  Teddy (rector)  vs  Dr. Cass
  9. Cass – remains sullen and soundless, without humor
  10. Cass – remnant of  past..pre-WWII  (spare the rod, spoil the child)
  11. Teddy – his eyes sparkled with clarity
  12. Teddy – sweet eccentricity, charming father figure for the boys
  13. Best Quote: Teddy
  14. “I will stoke you, because fire lies unnourished in all your centers.”
  15. Strong point: character Teddy …extraordinary, words of wisdom for the boys
  16. Teddy is accused of being weak, to soft on the boys by Dr. Cass
  17. Teddy wants the boys to feel like brothers not rivals: “you must help each other.”
  18. Lukins illustrates one of the wisest truths we all need to learn
  19. through the character of Teddy:
  20. Criticism (discipline) should be like a rain
  21. … gentle  enough to nourish growth
  22. …without destroying the roots.
  23. #GreatDebutNovel
  24. ...hope to read more by R. Lukins!


Last thoughts:

  1. This book surprised me as a debut novel
  2. That is why I gave it a 5 score instead of a solid 3.
  3. Usually the theory is write what you know.
  4. My first thought was how could a man in Australia
  5. …write about a correctional school in England for boys
  6. ..with the “wrong attitude”?
  7. Lukins placed more emphasis on character development
  8. instead of a sense of place.
  9. So it does not matter  where the struggles take place
  10. …as long as the reader discovers how the character(s) change.

#Ireland Sally Rooney


Wrap-up  #ReadingIrelandMonth19

  1. I have had a busy month reading Irish authors.
  2. There is so much talent on the Emerald Isle.
  3. I want to thank Cathy for hosting.
  4. I will be back next year!

Books read:    List #ReadingIrelandMonth2019


Shortlisted books Kerry Group Best Irish Novel of the Year:    read 4/5

  1. Timeline: 4 years
  2. Structure: no chapter titles to indicate what we can  expect
  3. Rooney uses a chronological timeline:
  4. Begin January 2011 – End February 2015
  5. Genre: romantic tragicomedy
  6. Setting: Carricklea, Ireland and Trinity College Dublin



  1. Sally Rooney draws on elements of the social world
  2. that she  inhabited growing up in Castlebar, Ireland
  3. …and then in college.
  4. She studied English at Trinity Dublin, and
  5. …the book is very much about her
  6. …observing that  social milieu.
  7. Two star-crossed lovers:  Connell and Marianne.
  8. “…like two little plants sharing the same plot of soil
  9. growing around one another, contorting to make room.”


  1. Connell: popular, quiet, studious, sport jock, good-looking,
  2. cared what people thought of him
  3. …considered quite a catch.
  4. Marianne: unpopular, feels lonely and unworthy,
  5. secretive, independent-minded – the ugliest girl in school
  6. Connell feels “…being alone with Marianne is like opening a door away from normal life…”
  7. Marianne feels “…he bought her goodness like a gift…”


  1. How does Connell change?
  2. March 2011:
  3. Connell pretends not to know Marianne in high-school.
  4. He wants to live in two worlds…good-looking, popular
  5. …but still dating the ugliest girl in school. No one must know.
  6. January 2015:
  7. Unlike him to behave  so openly in public
  8. by embracing Marianne and saying: ”I love you”
  9. …on New Year’s Eve.


  1. How does Marianne change?
  2. March 2011:
  3. Marianne feels like an observer…be it an awkward one.
  4. January 2015:
  5. Marianne feels dependent upon another human being
  6. …for the first time in her life.


Last thoughts:

  1. I have seen 1 star reviews….and 5 star reviews about this book.
  2. For a long time I pushed Normal People to the bottom of my TBR.
  3. The book has been nominated for many prizes and
  4. has been reviewed on blogs, magazines and in  the newspapers.
  5. When a book gets so much exposure….I recoil.
  6. Now I have to read it for Kerry Group Irish Novel shortlist.


  1. I read pages of teen-age sexual relationships, parties, boozing
  2. dysfunctional family including Denise… Marianne’s  mother
  3. …and a jealous and violent  brother Alan.
  4. One of the highlights in the narrative was a minor character
  5. who played a major role:  Lorraine, Connell’s mother.
  6. Life for a millennial is not easy
  7. ….and Sally Rooney has articulated the
  8. …stress and strains of growing up and falling in love.


  1. Was I impressed?  No.
  2. Lorraine is the only character that saved this book.
  3. The narrative has an emotional impact
  4. that resonates with many readers.
  5. It is a very easy read and lacks depth.
  6. By that I mean…symbolism, metaphor, images.
  7. This book may be interesting for other millennials
  8. …but I found the plot uninteresting
  9. …on/off romance between two college students.
  10. It was a very average book about
  11. #NormalPeople.


Feedback:  to Cathy

I’m so glad to here somebody felt as I did.
I thought I was the only one!
I’m reading The Hoarder today by Jess Kidd…and just after
3 chapters I’ve had MORE reading pleasure than Sally Rooney’s
entire book!
I’ve had a great time reading with you during #ReadingIrelandMonth19!
Thanks for all the effort you put into this challenge (reading suggestions, giveaways etc)
I’ll continue to read Irish authors…and am looking for a #hashtag to gather my Irish reviews..for the rest of the year…any suggestions?


#Ireland Abbie Spallen (playwright)



  1. In the political satire…Lally the Scut
  2. a mother struggles to save her little boy
  3. …after he falls into a bog hole.
  4. The play follows Lallys journey going to one towns-person
  5. …to the next trying to find anybody
  6. …who will help her in her crisis.
  7. This task proves difficult for many reasons.
  8. Her  neighbors’ fear that digging up the fields
  9. …will uncover secrets from the Troubles.

Cast: 9 male actors – 3 female actors

  1. Mother: Lally (mid 20s), 7 months pregnant
  2. Father:  Francis (…a bet, drink and a song…happy-go-lucky guy)
  3. Grandmothers: Rahab and Ellen
  4. Townsfolk, media persons, priest, politians
  5. Setting: outskirts of a Northern Irish border town
  6. Theme: conflict in Ireland  …is not over!
  7. The play’s recurrent image of the child lost down a hole
  8. is a allegory for  the island of Ireland’s uncertain future.



  1. The child’s down a hole.
  2. The town’s up in arms.
  3. I would not have understood the allegory
  4. …without having done some research.
  5. This play had so much potential.


  1. Act 1 was just a chaotic mess. 
  2. Narratives from several characters do not intertwine
  3. …but clash. This reader was exasperated.
  4. Also I felt NO real urgency to save the child
  5. …only nonsensical histrionics  by local baker, builder and
  6. …man with a golf club.
  7. To make matters worst Spallen insists on including
  8. expletive-laden narrative.
  9. I can understand this writing style  that is
  10. …dependant on the tone, genre and audience for the play.
  11. But…less is more.
  12. There must be another way to express rage.


  1. Act 2 did not improve.
  2. By the time we get to a mock-torture scene,
  3. shrugged off by a former terrorist
  4. …I had decided this is not for me.
  5. It is very political and somebody
  6. …more in tuned with the The Troubles
  7. the peace process in Northern Ireland
  8. may understand Abbie Spallen’s satire.
  9. I did not.
  10. I could not connect…and believe me I tried.
  11. I researched the play and playwright.
  12. My advice: read  the play and form your own opinion.
  13. #BraveDarkIrishPlay


#Short Story: 28 Tales by Edgar Allan Poe




  1. After a grueling fitness lesson  to increase my ‘mobility’
  2. that felt more like torture during the Inquisition
  3. I was very happy that I had audio book of  E.A. Poe’s tales.
  4. All I needed to do was lie down, relax and listen.
  5. I read 28 tales….and 1 poem.  I did not read all the letters!
  6. 50% of the 28 stories were good!



  1. I only read 28 stories
  2. …and still have 43 to read to
  3. finish the complete list of Poe’s tales.
  4. I have the highest admiration for Poe’s genius.
  5. With his words  the demon was visible,
  6. insanity palpable and  the reader
  7. …is mesmerized by Poe’s bizarre mind.
  8. Baudelaire  became obsessed with Poe and
  9. who was both is idol and as he saw it his
  10. …American double.
  11. I enjoyed reading/listening to the stories but
  12. feel that some are overrated.
  13. I’m sure Poe got paid ‘by the word’ because at times
  14. he uses 4 adjectives….where one could suffice!
  15. Pit and the Pendulum:
  16. “…with a steady movement, cautious, sidelong, shrinking and slow.”
  17. I read 1 paragraph  summary of ‘The Spectacles’ and the
  18. audio version lasted 1 hour and 13 min!
  19. So you can imagine how
  20. …Poe goes on…and on….and on.


Last thoughts:

  1. Edgar Allan Poe was an oddity.
  2. His life was odd, his literature is odd.
  3. He sent a man to the moon 30 years before Jules Verne.
  4. He created the modern detective story.
  5. He destroyed our planet with a comet.
  6. He sent shivers down my spine with the horror stories.
  7. Poe was plagued with many personal issues.
  8. “Poe purchased a couple of ounces of laudanum
  9. …to cure him of the fever called living.”  (Poe-Land, J. W. Ocker)
  10. #Classic


  • “The Angel of The Odd” – GOOD
  • “Berenice” – GOOD
  • “The Black Cat” – GOOD
  • “The Cask of Amontillado”
  • “The Maelstrom”
  • “Eleanora” – GOOD
  • “The Facts in the Case Of M. Valdemar”
  • “The House of Usher”
  • “Hop Frog”
  • “Imp of the Perverse” – GOOD
  • “Island of the Fay”
  • “Ligiea” – GOOD
  • “Man of the Crowd”– GOOD
  • “Message in a Bottle”
  • “The Masque of the Red Death”
  • “Mesmeric Revelation”
  • “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” – GOOD…but the ending…far-fetched!
  • “Never Be the Devil Your Head”
  • “The Oval Portrait”
  • “The Pit and the Pendulum” – GOOD
  • “The Premature Burial”
  • “The Purloined Letter”
  • “Silence – A Fable”
  • “Some Words with a Mummy”
  • The Spectacles” – GOOD
  • “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather” – GOOD
  • “The Tell Tale Heart” – GOOD
  • “William Wilson” – GOOD
  • “The Raven” – GOOD

#Short Story: James Tiptree jr. (SF)




  1. The Screwfly Solution (1977 )… the story’s tone was playful and threatening.
  2. POV: told alternately from the perspective of a devoted husband and wife.
  3. The ‘hook’ was the POV of Anne (the wife) in her letters
  4. bubbling with news and love….but later fear
  5. to Alan (husband) in Columbia doing scientific research.
  6. After reading Anne’s letter with the words:
  7. “The quietness is worse, though, it’s like
  8. …something terrible was going on just out of sight.”
  9. I could not put this short story down! 
  10. I even dreamed about it last night! 
  11. The Screwfly Solution is a quick read, and although
  12. …knowing the ending doesn’t remotely spoil it,
  13. …I’m hesitant to spell out too much.
  14. Here is the best description of aliens I’ve ever read:
  15. “…it was big and sparkly, like
  16. …a Christmas tree without the tree.”


Last thoughts:

  1. Truly, reading short stories is  most rewarding
  2. ….intense writing
  3. …and instant gratificaton  (reading time 30-45 min)
  4. I’ve included a  Wikipedia link about Alice Sheldon’s life
  5. It was unconventional….and ended in double suicide.
  6. #ReadShortStories