Review: Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

 

Title: Paris Letters

Author: Janice Macleod

Published: Pan Macmillan Au March 2014

Status: Read from March 20 to 21, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

With a single suitcase in hand, former Californian copywriter Janice Macleod abandons her stultifying career and heads off to Europe sharing her journey in this memoir, Paris Letters.

Thirty four and single Macleod realised that despite her successful career as middle management in an advertising agency affording her a (more than) comfortable lifestyle, she was dissatisfied with her life. In 2010 inspired by The Artist’s Way written by Julie Cameron and a comment from a colleague, Janice began making plans to reinvent her life. She began by journaling (and blogging) every day and devising ways to save $100 a day to fund a years travel. A year later she quit her job and took off to explore Europe.

il_570xN.576787539_nfzvParis Letters is a record of Janice Macleod’s journey which includes brief treks through Scotland and Italy before she decides to settle in France, having met a French-speaking Polish butcher on the streets of Paris and fallen in love. Having found happiness but needing a way to fund her prolonged stay in Paris, she takes inspiration from artist Percy Kelly and his illustrated letters to his penpal. Utilising an Etsy store front begins creating and selling letters adorned with her watercolour paintings of Paris scenery quickly amassing over 1,000 subscribers. By the end of 2012, Janice is engaged to Christophe, has a book deal and is living her dream.

In many ways this is an inspirational memoir of a woman who has changed her life for the better, in others I feel that Paris Letters is somewhat disingenuous. It could be that I’m jealous. Macleod manages to save in a year (nearly US$65,000), more than my husband earns to support our family of six, while still paying for rent, utilities, car payments, a housekeeper(!) and general living expenses, despite her pared down lifestyle. While I do admire Macleod’s commitment to her goal, which was achieved with some sacrifice and hard work, few would have the opportunity to emulate her success and the author fails to acknowledge her privileged position. It’s also clear that Macleod always intended to write a book about her experience (she has previously co-authored two books) but it would be mean spirited to begrudge the author her success, and happiness.

Paris Letters is a charming memoir, an inspiration for office drones everywhere and ideal for Francophiles who dream of escaping the daily grind to live in City of Light.

Skeletons is available to purchase from

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AmazonUS I BookDepository

 

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Review: The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC by Jesse Fink

Title: The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC

Author:  Jesse Fink

Published: Random House AU November 2013

Status: Read from November 26 to 28, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

From TNT to It’s a Long Way To The Top (if you want to rock-n-roll) to Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Highway To Hell, the music of AC/DC has spoken to generations of Australian ‘bogan’ youths wearing torn denim jeans, flannel shirts and ugh boots. This year, AC/DC celebrates 40 years since its formation in 1973 having spawned 26 albums, From High Voltage released in 1975 to Live at RiverPlate in 2012, and more than 200 million in album sales.

At the core of the Australian band’s international success are guitarists, and brothers, Malcolm and Angus Young. Emigrating from Scotland to Perth, Australia with their family in the early 1960′s, the boys were encouraged by the success of their older brother George in the industry, who earned fame as a songwriter/producer for bands such as The Seekers and The Easybeats.

The Youngs are notoriously insular, granting few access to their inner circle and zealously guarding the control of their music and its vast business interests, consistently refused to contribute to any biographical work, though there have been several published over the years. Similarly Fink was unable to gain the cooperation of the Youngs or those close to them, so the biographical details of this book have been pieced together from known facts and the recollections of ‘a whole host of forgotten and unheralded people’ who have been a part of AC/DC’s journey, though in the end, Fink discovered, “There was no truth, no definitive AC/DC story, there were many different versions.”

But that wasn’t really an issue for Fink as for him The Youngs is, ‘Less a biography, more a critical appreciation’, “ultimately, about the power of their music and how they built the colossus of AC/DC.” This is a band that has endured despite the replacement of their lead singer (Bon Scott with Brian Johnson), and still command sell out performances despite the fact the band members are now in their 60′s.

Exploring the reasons why AC/DC shot to fame, why their music remains popular what makes AC/DC unique is at the heart of this book. Seeking the opinions of industry experts and insiders, Fink reveals some of the behind the scenes secrets and little known facts about the band’s development and management, exposing the crises, the arguments, the betrayals and the controversies. Fink also spends some time tracing AC/DC’s relationship with Atlantic records and their entry into the US music scene.

The music of AccaDacca (as they are affectionately known) is part of the soundtrack of my own life, though regrettably I never saw them live in their prime, being just that bit too young at the time. An accessible read, offering plenty of well researched details, The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC is a book for ardent fans and music aficionados, and the head-banging ‘bogan’ that still lurks beneath the present day middle class veneer. The best way to read this is to drag out those old vinyl records or load up your playlist, turn it up loud and let AC/DC so what it does best…rock!

Available to Purchase From

Random House Au I Boomerang Books I Booktopia I Amazon AU

via Booko

AmazonUS I BookDepository

http://youtu.be/wxP9fOMLE_8

Stuff on Sundays: From the Eclectic Readers {Update #2}

2013EclecticReader

For the second year I am hosting the Eclectic Reader’s Challenge designed to encourage readers to move out of their comfort zones by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different genres. Over 100 readers have signed up and to date over 200 review links have been submitted.

There are 12 categories and  today I am sharing some more of the diverse titles chosen by participants to satisfy the challenge requirements. Click on the cover images to read their reviews.

  1. Translated fiction

2. Historical Mystery

3. Romantic suspense

4.  Made into a Movie

5. New Adult

6. Urban Fantasy

7. Dystopian

8. Memoir

9.  LGBT

10. Action Adventure

11. Humour

12. Published in 2013

Interested in joining the challenge? You can sign up to the  Eclectic Reader Challenge until November 30th 2013, for more details click HERE

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Today, March 8th,  marks International Women’s Day, a day designed to inspire women and celebrate their achievements around the world.

The UN has declared this year’s theme to be  “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”, an issue we can all wholeheartedly support.

In support, Penguin Australia is offering a free ebook by author Kaz Cooke,  Escaping Control & Abuse: How to get out of a bad relationship and recover from assault.

9781743480335

Download the free eBook from:

Support IWD

Join the conversation and follow @UN_Women and the hashtag #1woman on Twitter. You can also donate a tweet through Thunderclap, which will be released on 8 March.

Valentines Day at Destiny Romance!

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Have fun with this app at Destiny Romance, put yourself and/or your partner in the picture this Valentines’s day.

Me? I am enjoying the Ride of My Life!

Share-Your-Destiny

Happy New Year!

This is where I spent New Year’s Eve, Blackhead Beach with my husband, children and friends (don’t you just love the panorama feature on the iPhone?)

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Once it got dark we watched the fireworks display on the shore

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Today – I’m sleeping!

Happy New Year,

may it be all you dream of!

Merry Christmas to You!

To you and yours,

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From me and mine x

Virtual Christmas Advent Tour 2013

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Kailana from The Written World and Marg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader are very pleased to be hosting the Virtual Advent Tour for the 7th year, inviting book bloggers to participate by sharing a tradition or treat with their readers.  Last year I shared my favourite holiday event – attending the community Carols by Candelight celebrations. This year, I thought I would share with you something that crops up during the holidays, three seemingly innocuous words inscribed on every invitation – Bring a plate! It’s an Australian expression that is not asking you to donate your china, but to bring a plate filled with food to share among the guests.

With the children’s end of year parties for school and various groups, bring a plate often equates to providing ‘party’ food – individual serves of something sweet for up to 30 children. I’m not much of a cook, but with four children I have collected a range of quick, easy (and cheap) recipes I can whip up with a moment’s notice.

Mars Bar Slice

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  • 90g butter
  • 3 x 85g Mars Bars, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups Rice Bubbles
  • 250g milk chocolate block
  • red and green sprinkles or mini red and green M&M’s

Prepare a slice tin by lining with baking paper and set aside.
In a glass bowl, place butter and Mars Bars. Heat in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and remove to stir.
Pour Rice Bubbles into the butter/Mars Bar mixture one cup at a time mix. Mix until all combined.
Press into the slice tin with the back of a large metal spoon. Set aside.
Break the block of chocolate into small squares and microwave for 1 minute and stir for 30 seconds. Heat for 20 seconds more if it doesn’t become smooth and creamy.
Pour the melted chocolate over the Rice Bubbles mixture and spread evenly. Scatter chocolate with red and green sprinkles or mini M&M’s
Cool in fridge untill chocolate hardens. Lift slab out of tray with baking paper place on cutting board.
Once it is room temperature, cut into squares with a large sharp knife.

Nutella Fairy Bread

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  • fresh sliced white bread
  • 1 jar of Nutella (chocolate hazlenut spread)
  • 100′s and 1000′s (use a red, white and green mix for Christmas cheer)

Spread each slice of bread generously with Nutella.
Press slices face down into 100′s and 1000′s.
Slice into triangles or use cookie cutters to create shapes

Strawberry Santa’s

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  • 2 (or more) punnets of strawberries
  • 1 can of whipped cream
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • small white meringue nests
Slice the leafy end off each strawberry, then slice the tip off to make a little hat.
Place the base of the strawberry in a meringue nest. Using a spoon or a large icing tip, place a large dollop (about 1-2 tsp) of whipped cream on top of the strawberry base. Plop the little hat on top. Add another small dollop of whipped cream to the tip of the hat to make a mock pom-pom.
Place two chocolate sprinkles in the Santas “face” for the eyes. Place two very small splotches of whipped cream down the front of the strawberry for buttons.
Store them in the fridge to keep them cold and serve immediately. Santa doesn’t do well with heat.
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It’s not just kids parties at this time of year though, we also tend to have lots of get together’s with friends and family. Again, I have a handful of recipes I rely on to create something I can share. Nothing takes longer than 15 minutes to put together and they always impress.

Cabanossi Bites

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  • 4 sticks of cabanossi
  • 4 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 jar of pizza sauce (with garlic and herbs)
  • 2  eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk

Heat oven to hot 200C
Beat eggs and milk to create glaze
Brush edges of puff pastry sheet with glaze
Spread half the pastry with pizza sauce (not to thick or it will ooze out)
Roll a cabanossi stick in pastry sheet
Slice into inch long pieces
Arrange pieces if a tray lined with non stick baking paper and baste with glaze
Bake for 10 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Best served warm

Cheese and Bacon Cob Dip

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  • 1 cob life
  • 1 loaf unsliced fresh bread
  • 300 ml sour cream
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 500g diced bacon
  • 300g shallots
  • 1 small can creamed corn

Heat oven to moderate 180c
Fry bacon and shallots.
Slice top off of the cob loaf and pull out the bread in chunks (keep aside) leaving a solid crust. Place hollowed crust in a shallow oven proof dish
Mix cream, cream cheese, corn, fried bacon and shallots and pour into the bread case.
Bake for 10 -15 mins
Serve warm with torn bread from cob and unsliced loaf for dipping.

Lattice Vanilla Slice

VanillaSlice6

  • 2 x 200g pkt Arnott’s Lattice Biscuits
  • 2 x 100g pkts vanilla instant pudding
  • 600ml thickened cream
  • 300ml milk
  • icing sugar

Grease then line a slice tin with baking paper. Place a layer of lattice biscuits on the bottom of the tin to fit (glossy side down)
Use a mixer to whip the instant pudding, cream and milk until it has a smooth, creamy texture. Pour over the Lattice biscuits.
Lay more lattice biscuits over the top (glossy side up)
Refrigerate for 3 hours or until chilled. Cut into slices and serve sprinkled lightly with icing sugar.

* To convert metric cooking terms to imperial download this simple pdf conversion chart

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I hope you and yours are enjoying the festive season and you have enjoyed these quick and easy recipes!

CHR.lo.LetterpressMerryChristmas.main

Armchair BEA: Tips for Book Bloggers

 Armchair BEA is for those of us who can’t travel to the Book Expo America in New York City.

Today’s topic is Ask The Experts. In your post, ask the visitors to your blog for blogging advice. What did you always want to know about blogging but were afraid to ask? Now is the time! Alternatively, if you’ve been blogging for awhile, you’ve probably learned a thing or two. Whether you stumbled upon a something that makes blogging easier or made a mistake you’d never want anyone to repeat, share your experience and wisdom with others.

I’m not sure if I can offer any new advice to bloggers but here are my tops tips:

1.  Comment: If you want to make genuine connections with other bloggers- comment, if you read a post – comment, if you want to acknowledge a bloggers hard work  – comment, if someone comments on your blog visit them and leave a comment. Or even press that Like button so the blogger knows you stopped by.  Comment, comment, comment! And comment some more. {click here for some suggestions for commenting easier}

2.  Feed Reader: Whether its google or gator, a feed reader makes it much easier to keep up with other blogs – not sure how it works? Read my post HERE

3. Plan ahead: I know schedules don’t work for every one but I would be hopelessly lost without mine. Making note of galley and ARC deadlines means I can plan my reading so as to best meet my obligations to publishers.

4. Back up your blog: It’s easy with WordPress – just go to Tools>Export. I do this once a week.

5. Don’t feed the (drama) llama: just don’t.

I look forward to seeing what tips you offer.

Thanks for visiting Book’d Out during BEA 2012, I hope you visit again soon!

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog

Today is the launch of Armchair BEA for those of us who can’t travel to the Book Expo America in New York City.

Today’s topic is about moving beyond the blog in terms of freelancing, monetising etc. None of those apply to me exactly but what the blog has encouraged me to consider is going back to school to earn a diploma in library studies.

When I finished high school I wanted to study to become a librarian but the only place the course was available was out of state. Instead I chose to do a Bachelor of Teaching degree and taught young children for 8 years until (technically) becoming a stay at home mum when my third child was born. I have always worked part time though – I teach photography and photo-editing to adults in regular courses and I design and sell digital scrapbooking products online as well as doing freelance graphic design work sporadically.  When my youngest child started school last year I had to start thinking about going back to work full time sooner rather than later and to be honest, going back to teaching children is not something I want to do.

The blog has confirmed that my original career goal is what I want. I have had to adjust my dream slightly. I can’t afford to go back to university to do a second degree, and once again distance makes it impossible anyway but  TAFE (college) does offer a one year online course for a certificate in library studies. It’s expensive at $2200 which is an issue, and next year my oldest daughter is in her final HSC year at school which will require my support, so I am aiming to study in 2014. After I gain my certificate in library studies, I will then aim for the diploma (for which the certificate is a prerequisite), which is a two year course, hoping to work in my local library.

So that is me,  moving beyond the blog… but hopefully not leaving it behind.

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