Tag Archives: #holiday

Top Books for Summer Reading

Summer Holidays is my favourite time of the year, because it is when I can truly relax, sit down and catch up on reading!  In Australia, we are always spoilt for choice with our summer reading, because it coincides with the end-of-year publishing bonanza – when many great titles are launched in time for the festive gifting season. Here are some holiday-reading goodies to look forward to:

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas follows writer and comedian Adam Kay through six festive seasons on hospital wards, during his time as a junior doctor in the NHS.  Adam’s brilliant storytelling highlights the humour and heartbreak in the human dramas that occur daily in a busy city hospital – and his background as a doctor gives a particularly insightful perspective.  And it being the silly season, readers will learn more than they’ll ever need to know about the inappropriate uses of various orifices…. Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a very impressive sequel to This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor,  which spent a whopping 52 weeks at No.1. 

Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso is the latest of David Sedaris’ distinctive diary-essays – his tenth collection.  Need I say more? This time, the action revolves around Sea Section, David and his husband’s cottage on the North Carolina coast, where the Sedaris clan gathers for Thanksgivings and summer vacations.  Here, enforced communal living plus idiosyncratic relatives equals anecdotes that become family lore; but this time, the weird and funny stories are darker and bleaker, as they explore middle-age, mortality, and grief.  David Sedaris always impresses with how skilfully he evolves a story from seemingly meaningless minutiae into deeply personal and moving reflections. Read Calypso before he arrives in Australia for his speaking tour in early 2020.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for the New Yorker, who honed her craft on the internet; she often writes about how the rise of the internet has influenced and induced our collective anxieties.  For many readers, she is The Guide to how to live and survive in this hyper-connected, technology-facilitated culture.  Trick Mirror is her debut collection of nine interlinked essays, on identity, feminism, politics and the internet. Drawing on wide-ranging topics including her own coming of age, celebrity culture and the wedding industry, and armed with beautiful crystalline language, Jia Tolentino works her way towards explaining what she thinks and how she feels about life, the world, and herself.

Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly

Tall Tales and Wee Stories is a collection of Billy Connolly’s best and most popular work, including stories, comedy routines (such as Jojoba Shampoo and Incontinence Pants), and drawings.  In over 50 years of performing, he never prepared scripts, preferring to craft his tales live in front of an audience; now that he has retired from live standup comedy, Billy Connolly has finally written his stories down.  Whether he’s riffing on the mundanities of life, or talking about the bigger issues of sex, politics or religion, Billy Connolly always brings an endearing sense of the absurd to the most outrageous or profane topics – and thus gets away with saying anything he damn well pleases.

Dead at First Sight by Peter James

“You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you” – photos of a handsome motivational speaker have been used to scam unsuspecting women across multiple online dating sites.  The woman who discovered this con then apparently committed suicide.  Meanwhile, two retirees came away from the airport disappointed, after their online girlfriends failed to arrive from overseas.  Both men have sent their girlfriends large sums of money prior to the trip; neither women arrived because they did not exist.  These people are all victims of a global dating scam, whose masterminds won’t hesitate to murder anyone trying to expose them.  The race is on for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace to catch the scammers and stop the killings.  Inspired by recent news headlines, Dead at First Sight is both a fast-paced thriller and a cautionary tale.

Me by Elton John

Hot on the heels of the movie Rocketman comes Elton John’s first autobiography – the real stories in his own words. Elton’s life may have followed the classic rockstar trajectory – unhappy childhood, successes and excesses, culminating in redemption and inner peace – but its telling has been elevated by Elton’s exuberant, candid voice.  He’s not afraid to laugh at himself, and has fun admitting to his own bad behaviour, “I’m perfectly aware how ridiculous my life is, and perfectly aware what an arsehole I look like when I lose my temper over nothing”.  That Elton is his own best storyteller is the delightful surprise of this book.  Full of salacious, hilarious stories and crammed with famous names, Me by Elton John is the perfect holiday read.

Spooky Reads for All Ages This Halloween

That time of year is upon us again…where we dress up ourselves and our homes with cobwebs and spiders, visit our neighbours in search of treats and scare ourselves silly with spooky movies and books. It’s a ridiculously fun night dedicated to mischief, frights, and, most of all, treats.

But if you don’t fancy joining in with the neighbourhood there are plenty of ways you can still get in the spirit of the holiday. You can curl up on the couch on a dark and windy night (actually here in Australia it’s warm and the sun is up for ages) and watch your favourite old horror movies, or you can see how quickly you can frighten yourself with the help of a terrifying book, because there is nothing that gets you in the Halloween mood better than a good scary story.

 

Here are a few of our favourites…

 

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place…

The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain?

Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously absorbing father/son collaboration between Stephen King and Owen King.

 

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple haunted by their newly purchased home. Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check is quick and seamless. Both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between lake and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms becomes unrecognisable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall contracting, expanding and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mould spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbours and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julie and James. Written in creepy, potent prose, The Grip of It is an enthralling, psychologically intense novel that deals in questions of home: how we make it and how it in turn makes us, inhabiting the bodies and the relationships we cherish.

 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

A paranoid single mother is forced to confront the unthinkable act she committed as a desperate teenager in this addictive thriller with a social media twist.

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989: When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016: Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria, or whoever’s pretending to be her, is known to all.

 

…and something for the little people in our lives…

 

Lady Bug Girl and the Dress Up Dilemma by Jacky Davis

Ladybug Girl gets dressed up for Halloween in the newest hardcover addition to the “New York Times” bestselling series. It is Halloween and Lulu must decide on a costume. Should she be Ladybug Girl or something new? She tries many different costumes, but nothing seems right. Maybe she’ll think of the perfect costume as she enjoys the autumn day with her family by pumpkin picking and going on a hayride. But it isn’t until Lulu and Bingo help a little girl who is lost that Lulu discovers who she was meant to be for Halloween Ladybug Girl, of course after all, she “is” Ladybug Girl and it is important to be true to yourself.

 

Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage

From a sneaky spider to a ghostly chef to a sly mummy and crafty witch, join your favourite spooky creatures as ten orange pumpkins disappear in a countdown to a Halloween surprise. Bright, bold, and fun, Ten Orange Pumpkins is a perfect read-aloud and is sure to capture the imagination of the littlest trick-or-treaters.

 

 

 

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo but mostly it spends its time in the basement. It doesn’t visit Laszlo in his room. Until one night it does.

This beauty of a book has wonderful illustration from the very talented Jon Klassen (illustrator of the hilarious Hat stories).

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!