Saturday, 29 December 2012

AWW2012 Challenge Completed!

I did it! I completed my Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge by reading and reviewing six books since July this year.

I read two contemporary fiction, two historical fiction, and two YA novels. They were:

The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

My reviews can be read here.

I'm definitely signing up for the 2013 Challenge!! :-)

Book Review: The Secret River by Kate Grenville

'London, 1806 - William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. 

Life is tough but bearable until William makes a mistake, a bad mistake for which he and his family are made to pay dearly. 

His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. 

Soon Thornhill, a man no better or worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life . . . 

The Secret River is a universal and timeless story of love, identity and belonging.'

Historical novel The Secret River was the sixth book I read as part of the AWW2012 Challenge. This was the first time I read a book by Kate Grenville and I must say that while she writes very descriptive prose, I did find myself struggling to get used to her style of writing. At times the descriptions were a little too detailed and abstract for me, but eventually I came to like her use of words.

As I currently live in London and love history I was drawn to the beginning of the novel which told of William and Sal's life in late-eighteenth century London. I enjoyed imagining what the city would have looked like then and I think Grenville did a wonderful job in painting an accurate historical picture. I even learnt a thing or two about old London and the Thames!

Once William and Sal are sent to Sydney I felt the story started to drag a bit. While I am certainly interested in early colonial Australia, and having lived in Sydney I like picturing how the harbour and settlement looked at that time, I wasn't as captivated by William's story at this point. I suppose I was desperate for something to happen. Which it surely does as the story continues on.

Once William begins to interact with the Aboriginal people the story took a very dark turn. This novel does a great job at highlighting the awful treatment the Indigenous Australians received from the British settlers. In fact, Grenville is so thorough and descriptive that it is all a bit too much to take at times. Even though this is a fictional story it is based on fact and it is hard to be reminded of such a dark part of our history. Knowing the Indigenous Australians were subjected to terrible cruelty makes me very sad.

It is that reason alone that I can not say I loved this novel. While Kate Grenville is a very talented writer and the story is perfectly executed, the subject was hard to take. I will remember this novel for a long time - mainly because it shocked me. Which is probably just what Grenville was trying to achieve. She has definitely brought some evils of Australian history out into the light and created a very thought-provoking book. In that respect it's a success! 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

F is for Freedom

It's week six of Alphabe-Thursday!

F is for Freedom...

We all long for freedom and it's a desire that comes in many forms. Some seek freedom from responsibility, or freedom from injustice, freedom from financial hardship, or freedom from fear. But no matter which form we seek or however our individual journeys come about, one thing is shared by all of us - we're searching for freedom in the wrong place!

My own search for freedom led me to the writer's life, it sent me off to travel the world and, I admit, it has often made me shy away from responsibility. I've spent a lot of time and effort seeking a life that reflects the deep-seated sense of freedom I so wish for. And it's not to say I don't have freedom in my life - I most certainly do and it is something I am very grateful for. But what I've learnt along the way is that no external object, place or lifestyle can ever make us feel free. Because freedom comes from within.

The freedom we find in our external environment, the one we work so hard to cultivate and hold on to is a fleeting kind of freedom. It feels great for a while, but eventually the shine starts to fade and we discover that old longing resurfacing once more. We get restless. We begin to imagine a new circumstance that might grant us this elusive freedom. We set a neverending cycle in motion.

We seek to be free because our inner lives are in turmoil. When we're overcome by fear and tension, self-doubt and negativity, we long to free ourselves from the pain. But when we look for this freedom out in the world, rather than within, we are ignoring the real issues that bubble away inside us. And any act becomes futile.

Real, lasting, freedom is actually a state of mind. It is a choice we must make - to develop an inner peace that will forever accompany us through life, no matter what is thrown at us. In its truest sense being free is all about how we feel inside.

I've found that I am free when I look within for the answers, when I choose to not let outside restrictions define me. I am free when I allow myself to be happy, when I choose to let joy be the driving force in my life.

When we focus on cultivating our inner world, our outer lives reflects this. So choose to feel free and you'll never need to search for it again. Choose freedom and it will appear everywhere you look!

Friday, 21 December 2012


Welcome to a brand new world!

The Ancient Mayan gave today's date as the moment the world as we know it would change. A shift is occurring on the planet and within us all. We are in the midst of a rebirth.

We're witnessing a transformation of consciousness

This is all part of our spiritual evolution - humans are awakening to the presence of something more. We're becoming aware of the life energy that links us all together, that feeds our souls, that empowers our planet. We're slowly moving towards a more balanced existence - one that embraces both the physical, material world (the one we can see and touch) and the energetic, spiritual world (the one we feel and know in our hearts to be there).

We're connecting to the truth of who we really are - spiritual beings united in our common purpose to experience human life. We're letting go of separateness and fear to focus more on love and oneness. We're starting to act for the highest good of all.

I believe today is the beginning of this new phase of human evolution and I'm excited to see what the future holds. I wish for each and every one of us a life full of love and joy. May we all be healed of past hurts and move forward into a more peaceful co-existence.

Happy Rebirth Day!

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, serenely, divinely aware."
~ Henry Miller ~

Thursday, 20 December 2012

E is for Empowerment

It's week five of Alphabe-Thursday! :-)

E is for Empowerment...

To me empowerment is all about knowing your own strength. I think this is an important issue for many women in particular. Men are generally considered powerful and strong just because of their gender. Women may be less strong physically, but I know women have deep inner reserves of strength that have almost nothing to do with physical ability.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe women should have the same opportunities as men. I'm grateful for all the women who came before me, who stood up against injustice and fought for equality. I'm thankful that because of their bravery I now have a million choices in life. Choices that were once upon a time not even a possibility for a woman.

But what I'm not so much in favour of is the way feminism has encouraged women to forget their inner goddess. In our attempts to find an equal footing with men, I feel we sometimes try to be too much like a man. The sexes are different for a reason. Women are, in general, more nurturing and intuitive. I think these traits are gifts that women need to embrace. It doesn't mean we chain ourselves to the kitchen or that having babies and being wives is our only ambition in life. We've moved beyond that. We can choose that lifestyle if we so desire, but it does not define us. What I think should define women is our ability to empower. 

Men empower themselves through competition and achievement. Women do this too of course, but something that women do much better than men is to empower through love. That's where our nurturing instincts really come into play. Whether we're supporting loved ones through a difficult time, or raising children, or caring for our aging parents, or climbing the corporate ladder, we're doing it all from a place of innate gentleness and love. I'm not saying men can't be gentle or loving because they can and they are, but you know where they learnt those traits? From their mothers! :-)

I believe the power of women comes from our connection to our hearts. When we choose to empower ourselves as the loving, nurturing, intuitive, attentive, passionate, soul sisters that we are, we embrace the strength of the goddess within. And once we're conscious of just how amazing and wonderfully capable we are then we're in a much better position to create a life that fulfils us, that inspires others and that empowers every human being.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

D is for Dreams

It's week four of Alphabe-Thursday. :-)

D is for Dreams...

As in follow your dreams. We all have things we dream about doing, seeing, experiencing, achieving. It's one of the driving forces of human nature. Without goals and dreams to fulfil we would never have evolved from hunters and gatherers. It's our desire to accomplish that pushes us all forward in life.

The beauty of a dream is that we all have the power to create them. Whatever we can imagine, we can create. Sure we often encounter resistance while trying to fulfil a dream, but the secret to resistance is that it's there to show us what we really want. That which we fear the most is the one thing our heart truly desires. Obstacles and resistance are part of the creative process - when we're setting something in motion and trying to bring a dream into reality, resistance inevitably occurs. We can give in to resistance and let the obstacles hold us back, or we can choose to view resistance in a more positive light. We can choose to see the obstacle as a sign post directing us forward, proving we are on the correct path.

Dedication and perseverance are key to accomplishing our dreams. But the most valuable asset is a belief in yourself. Believe you are worthy of achieving your dreams. Go after them with all the courage you possess. Because when you live your dream it's a life full of joy.

Dreams really do come true. So dream big!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

C is for Compassion

It's week three of Alphabe-Thursday.

C is for Compassion...

There is no better act of kindness than trying to understand another person's pain, without judging, so you can help and support them through their suffering. It's a truly beautiful thing.

But sometimes we forget to offer that same level of compassion to ourselves.

I'm guilty of turning against myself during a difficult time. Of being harsh towards myself rather than comforting and caring for myself. I'm sure I'm not alone in this - I bet a lot of people end up berating themselves when things go wrong. Self-compassion is sometimes the last thing we think of. We spend so much time focussing on our faults that we miss an essential fact - no one is perfect.

Striving for perfection is a never-ending source of pain for most people. In our modern, success orientated world we can get so caught up in trying to achieve our goals and trying to stand out from the crowd that we put so much pressure on ourselves to 'get it right'. But making mistakes so we can learn and grow is part of being human. Without experiences (both 'good' and 'bad') to teach us about life we would never grow past babyhood. Mistakes are necessary. That's why we all make them. We weren't put here to be perfect. We're here to experience life, with all its ups and downs. 

That's why compassion towards others is so easy. If we let it be. We're all in the same boat - struggling to negotiate this thing called life - so we needn't be critical of others or of ourselves. No one has it all together, even if they appear that way. No one has reached the height of perfection because there is no such thing.

Remember - You are already enough. Just as you are. Warts and all.

That's the lesson in compassion that we need to bring to ourselves during tough times. No matter what is going on in our lives and no matter how hard things are, being kind to ourselves is the only way forward. So let self-compassion into your life.