Welcome to Friday Fiction #8
Books, books and more books!
Last time on Friday Fiction, I wrote about books and movies I’d been indulging in – it was cold and rainy back then but we’re now waking up with spring sunshine and warm temperatures, reminding us that summer isn’t far away.
Since our last book chat, I’ve completed a short course in Writing Children’s Picture Books. It was challenging in lots of ways but I’m proud of myself for pushing out of my comfort zone.
I mostly learnt that there’s a lot I don’t know!!
So what books have I enjoyed lately?
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
In 1901, the word ‘Bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the ‘Scriptorium’, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutters to the floor. Esme rescues the slip and stashes it in an old wooden case that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. While she dedicates her life to the Oxford English Dictionary, secretly, she begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape the world and our experience of it.
I gave this 5 stars as it really appealed to me. The setting, the storyline and the fact that most of it was based in truth gave it a special place in my reading list for 2020.
The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall
Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’.
But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.
Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead.
From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.
I rated this 4 stars as I really enjoyed the plot and the fact it was set sometime in the future. The characters were quite well drawn although the mother annoyed me a bit! Don’t let the title put you off – I know of more than none person who has hated the title but before they even knew what the book was about!
The All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton returns with All Our Shimmering Skies – a glorious novel destined to become another Australian classic. Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. Run, Molly, run, says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.
All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies; a buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder; and a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.
I absolutely loved it! No spoilers but I laughed, I cried, I worried and I just adored Molly. Thanks Trent Dalton for a book full of imagery, love and fabulous story telling. A huge 5 stars from me for this one!
Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde
From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a gripping and emotional novel about friendship, motherhood, and the journey toward finding a place to call home.
Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.
Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.
Out of one terrible moment, Brooke’s and Molly’s desperate paths converge and an unlikely friendship across generations and circumstances is formed. With it, Brooke and Molly will come to discover that what’s lost—and what’s found—can change in a heartbeat.
4 stars – this was an unexpected find and somehow, despite the grim setting, it got me intrigued.
Joanne Tracey’s books:
I love reading Jo’s books – they feel like old friends and Jo has a knack of transporting us into a different world. It’s pure escapism and fun to boot!
The blurb on Jo – you can read more on her author site here
Hi, I’m Joanne Tracey, and I write stories with happy endings. Is that a spoiler alert? Probably- but sometimes it’s best to know these things up front.
My books blend my love of travel, food, and new experiences, and are set in some of my favourite places: Melbourne, Bali, The Cotswolds, Queenstown. I write the stories that I like to read, so if you like your love stories spiced with a little travel, a little fun, a lot of friendship, the occasional daggy pop song, and some seriously sexy men…you’ve come to the right place.
When I’m not writing or working, I like to walk, cook, and plan my next trip and my next novel.
Big Girls Don’t Cry – Melbourne girls #2
Careful What You Wish for – Melbourne girls #4 – currently reading this one, it’s just been released!
You can read what Jo’s been reading in her latest post on her blog On my bookshelf- October
My rating system
1* = did not finish/terrible
2* = OK
3* = enjoyable
4* = really good
5* = excellent
My Reading Challenge for 2020
So far I’m up to 89 books for the year in my Goodreads challenge, where I set myself a loose target of 100 books for this year. I’m getting very close to that magic number. I think the pandemic has helped as there’s been less travelling and more time at home, especially during the winter months.
I started my Friday Fiction series a while ago, to share what I’ve been reading, what has taken my fancy or what I’d like to read.
This series was sparked by an item on my list – 12 things to do before turning 60 – which was to write more book reviews and share them on my blog. I’m down to less than 3 weeks to go until my birthday so the pressure is on. I have since done an update on my original post – An update on my list of 12 things to do before turning 60.
Over to you, so what are you currently reading or watching? Have you read any of these, and would you?
I access many of my books for free, via our regional library app. Sometimes I have to wait for them to be available but generally it works well. I also use Kindle Unlimited and buy titles to read on my Kindle from Amazon. I also buy real books too!
Some book fun – will you join me?
Thanks for joining me for Friday Fiction. I look forward to reading with you again soon.
Don’t forget to tell me what you’re reading at the moment!
Debbie is an award winning blogger and lives in the small town of Tumbarumba in NSW Australia. Married for 40 years, with three grown up daughters, Debbie and the Mathematician are avid travellers, cyclists and adventurers. Described by others as a ‘hummingbird on speed’ this active mother and grandmother has also received a bravery award from the Queen.
You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.