Stories & Shout Outs #48

Stories & Shout Outs Badge

My Month:

  • My writing hiatus is mostly a reviewing hiatus. The words to describe my reading journey have deserted me, for now.
  • Instead, I have been tidying up behind the scenes.
  • And catching up on my Classic Club duties.
  • In case you were wondering, it’s still raining!

What I’m Reading:

  • His Excellency Eugene Rougon | Emile Zola
  • The Tortoise and the Hare | Elizabeth Jenkins
  • H is for Hawk | Helen Macdonald
  • Burning Questions | Margaret Atwood
  • Essays Two | Lydia Davis
  • Collected Stories | Shirley Hazzard
  • Mauritius Command | Patrick O’Brian
  • To the Ends of the Earth | Susanna de Vries
  • Last Letter to a Reader | Gerald Murnane
  • Fishing For Lightning: The Spark of Poetry | Sarah Holland-Batt

Read But Not Reviewed:

  • French Braid | Anne Tyler
  • Digging For Richard IIII: How Archaeology Found the King | Mike Pitts
  • The Moving Finger | Mary Gaunt (short stories)
  • The Space Between the Stars | Indira Naidoo


  • Signs and Wonders | Delia Falconer
    • During lockdown last year, I joined an online talk between Delia Falconer and Sophie Cunningham hosted by Readings in Melbourne. At this point (4th October 2021) I hadn’t started reading Falconer’s book, but I was curious.
    • She talked about the fact that her book was a response to everything going on in the world in the past couple of years – fires, Covid, floods, politics – written in fragments to reflect the times, the busy nature of our lives, the rapidity of change, a snapshot.
    • What captured my imagination that night, was Falconer’s renewed interest in photography during her lockdown walks and the use of the old Hipstagram app. This talk inspired me to download the app again and play with it’s many filters and films during MY lockdown walks.
    • It now seems like this was the main thing for me to get out her book – to pay closer attention to my local environment – to capture the moment – to see and appreciate – to wonder. The rest I did not need.
    • “doing anything is a little bit hopeful” after all. And sometimes abandoning a book you’re not really getting into is that thing.

New to the Pile:

This Blogging Life:

  • So, tidying up behind the scenes – what does this mean? And what have I learnt/discovered so far?
    • Brona’s Books was originally designed to talk about children’s books with parents and teachers.
    • My methodical nature meant that ‘tidying up’ involved going back to the very beginning to these reviews about books for kids.
    • They were very basic. An image, a brief commentary and a blurb.
    • It was tempting to delete those old posts, but I refrained. They are part of my blogging journey.
    • At some point, I started adding author details or links to the author webpage.
    • I applied ‘clear formatting’ to each post and fixed any images that had gone missing.
    • I checked links to make sure they still went where they were meant to.
    • And I added/subtracted tags to be more consistent.
    • Around the two year mark, the occassional adult book response appeared.
    • During my third year, I started to join in various book and photography memes.
    • I was clearly becoming disaffected with children’s books.
    • My posts had moved from enthusaistic raves to grudging duty reads.
    • A few posts have been deleted along the way – photos of my TBR pile and the odd weird book tag or meme that went nowhere/achieved nothing. But everything has stayed. Warts and all!
    • Some themes or patterns were obvious though.
      • I preferred historical fiction, memoirs and dystopian fiction.
      • Character driven stories were more my style.
      • Mood had a big impact on what I read.
      • I felt strongly about reading and supporting Australian writers.
      • Classic books and authors were my fall back position.
  • At this point, I joined The Classics Club – August 2012.
  • The Edith Trilogy Readalong
    • Grand Days – June 2022
    • Dark Palace – July 2022
    • Cold Light – August 2022

Shout Outs:

  • The 1954 Club starts next week. Visit Simon and Kaggsy for more details, but it really is as simple as finding a book that was published in 1954 and read it.
  • I have a number of books about Russia, Putin and the Ukraine floating around my house. Would anyone else be interested in participating in or hosting/co-hosting a reading event to help us make sense of what is going on right now in that part of the world?

Until next time, stay safe, and happy reading!

This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

19 thoughts on “Stories & Shout Outs #48

  1. I have Grey Bees on my TBR which is set in Ukraine, also a Ken Follet which my mom recently read and told me to since it sheds light on the situation. Grey Bees is overdue in terms of irs review date so I’ll be trying to read that soon, but if you choose to have an even I can join in with the Follett


  2. That’s all so interesting, thank you for sharing about your tidying up I keep meaning to do something similar now that I’m 4 years in and also for saying that you’re finding it difficult to write reviews – it’s so encouraging to know that others have the same problems!


    1. It’s really weird not being able to write a review. As I’m reading I’m making my usual notes, but none of the ah-ha moments are popping into my head and when I sit down to write nothing comes out, or at best a small paragraph. I hope it rectifies itself soon!


  3. New to the pile: I find during the last 4 weeks (no duty reads, following the news)…I’ve bought so many new books! Bad for my credit card balance…good for my soul. I haven’t investigated all you new books…but will do later today.

    Blogging life: free from duty reads means I need to document my reading without books! I’ve started a journal and keep track of all that I read in newspapers/magazines in different languages (French and Dutch I can manage…but German is still a challenge) (news, politics, culture, travel, books) interesting authors I meet while doing this reading. I love the comment: when you limit your languages….you limit your world!

    Blog: Still very low motivation to blog…but I’m just giving myself some time to bounce back.

    Edith: I have all these books in my bookcase. I’ll start the first one and if it doesn’t “hook” me then show over!

    Classics? Perhaps I could start a Zola in French…Three Cities Trilogy. I’ve read Lourdes…and enjoyed it. Now time to read Rome or Paris.

    Historical fiction: exciting new award winning Polish author…1937 Warsaw…Hitler and fascism is rising “The King of Warsaw” (April 2020 by Szczepan Lech Twardoch) could be an interesting read! (Available on Kindle)

    Today: all eyes on Melbourne today and tomorrow….Formule 1 racing!! #GoMax. 🙂


    1. I was thinking of you when I saw the Formula One turn up on the news this week.Mr Books doesn’t mind a car race or too as well, so I suspect we may be watching some of it at some point today, or at least Mr Books will be watching it and it will be my background noise!!

      Curiously I’m still enjoying blogging, just not writing book responses, except some mini ones to keep a record of what I read. Maybe I will continue with mini reviews and save a bigger response for those I feel inspired to do something more with??
      I certainly feel better (virtuous :-D) for having tidied up the first three years of my blog (to date). The rest will be harder I think, as it is when I got really serious about blogging and I went through a phase of stylising each post, that is very annoying to look at now!! I forgot my rule of ‘keep it simple’!!

      Glad to hear you have so much good reading coming your way this month.


      1. Watching Formula 1 as we speak…Verstappen in second position….fingers crossed for a win but Ferrari Leclerc is very quick and in first place. Hope Mr. Books is enjoying the race with me! Mini reviews could be a good life line for me…I just need to get the news in Ukraine out of my head, but that is easier said than done!


        1. It’s distressing, isn’t it Nancy. Even all the way over here, it dominates our news cycle. It’s so frightening, one feels that Putin has been restrained and I wonder how long he can hold that line. I fear he is on the edge of going in much harder.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. The Hare and the Tortoise feels quite sad and desperate around the edges atm, curious to see where it goes (I’ve managed to avoid all spoilers so far, and know next to nothing about it other than it’s about a marriage breaking apart).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You really have been busy with your blog. Organising and cleaning are two very useful things. I have tried to clean up my office, my scarpbooking scraps, organise my notes etc. It feels very good afterwords. I still have a few things to take care of, but at least I have started. You still manage to read quite a few books and be very active with challenges. Enjoy.


    1. It would take a pretty big disaster to stop me reading!! But it is a relief to not be worried about reviews atm.
      I’ve tidied up the first 3 years of my blog, and now just need to fix the links for them on my A-Z lists. I suspect the rest of the blog will happen on a more needs based approach though. It’s too big a job to work my way through the entire thing.


  5. I hear you about writing and book reviews! Either I am not reading enough good books or it seems like I do not have the right words! I never knew that you had originally designed the blog to talk about Children’s Books; I had originally designed mine to capture everyday stuff and then it became all bookish. Great books in your list. Curious about Index!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I came here from Paula’s Winding up the Week post. I love the idea of making sense of the madness of Ukraine/Russia situation. I have just finished reading Konstantin Paustovsky’s Story of a Life – he was raised in Ukraine at the end of the 19th century but later served as a medical orderly in Russia and became a journalist and famed author. In 1917 he was sitting in Kiev with the city being destroyed around him and I thought why does nothing ever change? Maybe its time to try and find out. Happy to co-host or take part.


    1. Thank you for stopping by and sorry for the late reply. We have been enjoying a holiday away, so most of these posts were written a while ago and scheduled to appear as I was travelling. It has been harder than I thought it would be to stay on top of commenting!!

      At this point, I had thought of putting up a master post on the 1st of May and just letting it be a place for people to post reviews (historic or recent) to help us understand what is happening. I guess I’m more focused on trying to unpack the political nature of what is happening. What the various leaders hope to achieve? What does each side think about the other? What are the biases and prejudices and long-standing fueds that impact on what is happening now? What role does the media play in how they report these events? etc.

      Over the years I have read so many wonderful books written by Russian writers that reveal the human side, the everyday people side of history. Whether it’s Tolstoy and War & Peace or Pasternak and Doctor Zhivago or Dostoyevsky and his evocative short stories. We all know though that it is the everyday people, on both sides, who get sacrificed at the hands of their leaders when they decide to go to war. That’s the part that scares me.

      How does this end? And how many everyday people will have to die before it does.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for this and I hope you enjoyed your time away. I understand that it would be great to get to the bottom of what’s going on. So far I’m quite a long way off that but I’m reading a book called Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder which is terrifying, he is extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Will join you on 1st May. Nice to ‘meet’ you.


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