103 years ago Australian and New Zealand forces landed at Gallipoli. Their aim was to capture the capital of the Ottoman Empire, a staunch supporter of Germany, and to open up the Gallipoli Peninsula and thus the Black Sea to the Allied forces. Australian and New Zealand servicemen were dropped off at the wrong location and soon found themselves in a stalemate with no hope of progressing. After 8 months of futility and death the Anzac forces were evacuated. Over 11,000 Australian and New Zealanders died during these 8 months. Being countries with such low populations the effects were devastating.
It’s coming up to that time of year again, the highest book selling time of year, MOTHER’S DAY. Well, at least it is in my corner of the world. Everybody knows that the ladies love books so the lead up to Mother’s Day is often met with a mad dash to the bookshop, shrieking hysterically at the store clerk that you need that book that was blue and they recommended on that show about books. Unfortunately, there are a lot of blue books and that show has been cancelled. But never fear, I am here to bring you something even better than yelling at bookshop employees, I’m bringing you the perfect pairings for your mother, books and wine.
Let’s kick off this list with The Sisters’ Song by Louise Allan. This is a book about family, hardships, and learning to accept life whilst damning the man. It is set in 1920s Tasmania, Australia. It looks at the differences between siblings, the strengths and flaws of motherhood, and music. It has been praised by critics and readers alike. Given that this is a book proudly set in Tasmania I would recommend that you pair it with a Tasmanian wine. Try Devil’s Corner Pinot Grigio.
Find The Sisters’ Song here.
Find Devil’s Corner Pinot Grigio here.
A rapid change of pace to some non fiction. I think many mums will love The Women’s Brain Book. It’s full of information about women’s brains throughout childhood, puberty, pregnancy, motherhood, menopause and old-age. It is written by neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay who has dedicated her life to understanding the human brain. This is more of a book about biology and hormones rather than psychology and feelings, it really is a refreshing change of pace. Given that red wine is frequently touted as being good for your health, I’d recommend you pair this book with a red wine such as Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir.
Find The Women’s Brain Book here.
Fund Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir here.
Where’s the Romance, Robin? My mother wants to remember what it was like to be young, and sexy, and in love, and what it was like to sleep in! Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart is the perfect gift for the mother who loves love. It contrasts war torn Europe in 1917 with the battleground of the heart complete with a sexy Italian love interest. Given that this book is set in Italy and the gorgeous lemon on the cover I’m recommending a slightly stronger pairing, Villa Massa Limoncello.
Find A Letter From Italy here.
Find Villa Massa Limoncello here.
Another romantic foray is A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester. I recommend this one simple because it had me squealing at the end and screaming, ‘Oh my God, they’re totally gonna kiss!’ It follows a woman in Manhattan 1920s who wants to be a doctor. From the outset we can see what she’s up against with the suffocating expectations from society. Although this book has tragedy and struggles it also has joy and will put a smile on your mother’s face. Given that this book is set in the 1920s and infused with jazz, I recommend pairing it with Tanqueray London Dry Gin.
Find A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald here.
Find Tanqueray London Dry Gin here.
Bonus: A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald is in the Booktopia’s Mother’s Day Book Guide so if you order it through then before May 13th you’ll be in for a chance to win $1000 worth of books.
Let’s move away from romance and onto magic. Kate Forsyth The Wild Girl tells the story of Dortchen Wild. Dortchen Wild was the neighbour of the brothers Grimm, good friend of their younger sister, and in reality one of the major sources of the fairytales they are so famous for. This is a fictional retelling of Dortchen’s life, but the characters are based on real people and the integrity to original source material is incredible. For the mother that loves history and fairy tales. I would recommend pairing this magical book with aromatic Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvee.
Find The Wild Girl here.
Find Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvee here.
Have a mother that loves history but wants some grit? I’d recommend Half Wild by Pip Smith. This is another based on a true story novel but this time it is of Eugenia Falleni, a transgender man born in Italy in 1875, raised in New Zealand and spending their adulthood in Australia. Falleni did not cope with restrictions placed on them being assigned female at birth. They would often dress as a boy and try to undertake activities that were only designated for males. This was met with cruelty by Falleni’s parents. Falleni eventually fled family life and assumed life as Harry Crawford. Crawford rose to notoriety in 1917 when the burned body of his wife was found, later Crawford would be accused, reveal that they were born Eugenia Falleni and ask to be put in a women’s cell and tried as a woman. This novel looks at the lives of Eugenia Falleni both before and after the trial. The first 100 pages that cover Falleni’s childhood are particularly gripping. Pair Half Wild with Piave Grappa for an intense experience.
Find Half Wild here.
Find Piave Grappa here.
Is your mother a criminal mastermind? Then I’d recommend some Crime Fiction, especially Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic. This book is set in a rural town with a social outsider as the main character. Profoundly deaf Caleb Zelic has been picking up on people’s tell tale signs since childhood, when murder comes to his doorstep he needs to use all of his skills to prove his innocence. This book won a lot of Crime Fic awards and has a sequel so I highly recommend it for the mother who can’t stop at just one murder. Pair this book with Innocent Bystander Pinot Syrah.
Find Resurrection Bay here.
Find Innocent Bystander Syrah here.
Here’s a book for the mother who has lived through or is currently living through online dating, Out There by Kerri Sackville. It’s all about in being that magical place ‘out there.’ Or at least all your partnered up mates insist you put yourself out there if you’re single. This isn’t so much a book about how to get a man but how to enjoy online dating in midlife and keep your sense of humour and sanity. Think of it as a David Attenborough style guide to dating but funny. So very funny. I recommend pairing it with good old fashioned Passion Pop so that your mother can have a hilariously nostalgic drink to accompany her reading.
Find Out There here.
Find Passion Pop here.
Bonus: Out There: a Survival Guide for Dating in Midlife is also one of Booktopia’s Mother’s Day recommendations.
Know a mother who suffered the baby blues, postnatal depression (postpartum depression across the pond) or postnatal anxiety? Then I think they’d get a lot out of my book simply subtitled Postnatal Depression Sucks. Because it does, it really does. It is direct, real, written in conversation language, containing both insights and practical advice and is also filled with humour. Motherhood is great, but sometimes life is hard and being able to reflect on it and have the odd laugh is quite cathartic. I recommend pairing my book with some soothing tea from High Tea With Harriet such as Duches of Bedford. Indulgently relaxing, and trust me, mothers are worth it.
Find Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks here.
Find High Tea With Harriet Duchess of Bedford here.
Consider yourself now fully prepared to conquer Mother’s Day and take out the coveted Best Child status with these perfect pairings.
Find last year’s perfect pairings of books and pyjamas here.
Ryan O’Neill (that’s Dr Ryan O’Neill PhD to you!) was born in Glasgow, so was my mother, and moved around to various places before settling in Newcastle, Australia. SO DID MY MOTHER. His fiction has appeared in The Best Australian Stories, The Sleepers Almanac, Meanjin, New Australian Stories, Wet Ink, Etchings and Westerly. My mother’s fiction has appeared in her local church’s newsletter. I feel like they’re going to have soooooo much in common. Looks like we’re practically family so I guess I better do a shamelessly biased Robinpedia entry despite never having actually met Ryan O’Neill.
It was a crisp April in 2012 when Ryan O’Neill unleashed his spectacular debut, The Weight of a Human Heart, into the world. Ma’at waved her ostrich feather in appreciation and the critics clapped their hands. It was a collection of stories told in an eclectic manner. It was promptly shortlisted for a Queensland Literary Award, a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, AND a Scottish Mortgage Trust Award. Safe to say, his publisher, Black Inc. Books, was pretty happy with this.
And so it was in a chilly August in 2017 that Ryan and Black Inc. did present his follow up, Their Brilliant Careers. No, not My Brilliant Career, that’s very different and by the iconic Miles Franklin. This is a novel that uses the form of 16 humorous biographies about fictional Australian authors. It also did alright, I guess. Winner of a Prime Minister’s Literary Award as well as shortlisted for a Miles Franklin Award and New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award. Fine, it did great.
In, what will no doubt be a superlative, July of this year Ryan will be putting out his latest offering, The Drover’s Wives. Ryan takes Henry Lawson’s classic tale, The Drover’s Wife, shreds it, then puts it back together in a humorous reimagining several times over. 99 times to be precise. My teacher friends should be salivating over the release of this one. If I was still teaching I would definitely be using this, and that is despite the fact that I am a diehard Barbara Baynton fan and not totally down with Henry Lawson’s racist tirades. But that’s just me. Seriously, teachers, get more Barbara into your programming, I beg you, and get some Ryan into you as well. Anyhoo, The Drover’s Wives will no doubt be up for another bunch of awards, mark my words! Mark them!!! Have you got a pen or highlighter in your hand? You should.
Ryan O’Neill is also known as a mover and a shaker in the Australian literary scene. He is one of the founding members, and primary tweeter of, Kanganoulipo. Kanganoulipo is an experimental writing collective with members such as Robinpedia alumni Jane Rawson and Julie Koh. They’re bringing avant garde back.
When Dr Ryan O’Neill isn’t planning the revolution he lectures people. At my old uni to be specific. University of Newcastle. Small world!
Find Ryan O’Neill on twitter here.
Find Ryan O’Neill’s profile on Black Inc. Books here.
Find out more about Kanganoulipo here in this definitely factual account.
Find Ryan O’Neill’s books here or anywhere really.
Just quietly, fascination with the Lawson clan must run in our nonreal family because I’ve written a book that has Louisa Lawson in it. He’s reimagining Henry, I’m reimagining Louisa. Such a close knit notfamily.
New information just in, Ryan O’Neill also loves Barbara Baynton and in particular Squeaker’s Mate which is one of the most haunting pieces you will EVER read. Here’s a link of him discussing it.
Read more about Robinpediahere.
Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.
Read about my opinion on author branding here.
Buy my shit here.
Strap yourself in, people, your new favourite show has just arrived on YouTube. It’s called Word of Mouth TV and it is about books and food. Think The First Tuesday Book Club meets Kitchen Cabinet. I’m so excited because the hosts, Kate Forsyth and Sarah Mills, are both authors and both love books. I know I’m going to hear about the things they love and they’re not going to waste my time bogging me down with negativity. The only thing they’ll be roasting is food, not authors. But enough about my excitement levels, let’s get down to business. Claire Absolum is working all the magic behind the scenes so we can be assured that the visuals will be just as delicious as the food.
The episode starts with Kate and Sarah driving around beachy Sydney looking glamorous. There are hats and lipstick, this is the glamorous life I want for successful authors. Sarah is questioning and Kate is driving. Kate is a magnificent driver and she answers all the questions calmly. This is so different from my own car trips where I have three kids (6, 4 & 4) questioning me and I feel like crying because I just want to concentrate on driving. I want to be Kate. I want to be able to drive, answer questions AND look fab all at the same time.
Kate reveals that they’re having Anne Buist and Graeme Simsion over for dinner. Holy crap, they’ve gone big quick. First episode and they’ve already got Anne Buist, author of the Natalie King series, and Graeme Simsion who wrote that little known book The Rosie Project. Together, Anne and Graeme wrote Two Steps Forward which follows two characters, Zoe and Martin, whose paths cross on the Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James). Zoe is a vegan so I automatically wonder if this will be a vegan meal.
Sarah has not read the book so she sits down to read and Kate vaults out of the car and into the kitchen. She’s making chicken, people, chicken. A traditional French dish because the pilgrimage is between France and Spain. Kate goes through the ingredients, it looks delicious, you’ll have to watch to get the full details. Sarah is still reading so Kate starts talking dessert. She’s gone all out, she has gotten a recipe from Anne and Graeme’s daughter.
Kate realises that she’s doing all of the cooking so lures Sarah away from reading with some wine. Think getting a kitten out of a tree with cat food. It’s white and sparkling, and if I’m to be honest, it’s also luring me. I wonder if Claire is also tempted. So parched. It works on Sarah, she comes running. She even gets to lick the beater now that she’s helping cook. Yummy ingredients are being added such as berries and almonds. And the food is done.
Time for a brief shot of an incredibly cute hound and then the literary guests arrive. Anne is wearing the heck out of a red dress and Graeme is wearing a purple t-shirt. Kate shows here guests her water views, which are stunning, and I declare her Australia’s Nigella whilst the guests cheers. I’m excited for the guests but we do need to see more of that dog in the future. Own Insta account?
Graeme and Anne mention that they’re happy for the champagne, typical writers. Kate and Sarah are also happy with the champagne and not using the French setting of the novel as an excuse to drink it, again, typical writers.
Anne talks about how she walked the Camino de Santiago twice. So that’s like 4000km. She says the trick was to take it one day at a time and not crunch numbers. She also mentions that after the walk she was incredibly fit, her red dress agrees. Kate mentions that one day at a time and not crunching numbers is a great way to approach novels as well. ‘Today I’ll write a scene.’ ‘Today I’ll write a chapter.’ Graeme mentions that he was actually inspired to walk the Camino by another book and then walking it inspired him writing a book… and now I want to walk it. This is so meta and I am loving it. Graeme talks about how you often think that you can just toss everything aside and then go on a pilgrimage but in reality, as his characters and he found out, all that baggage sneaks along with you.
There are some close ups of dinner and they are bordering on erotic. At least, they are for me because I really like food. I could just watch this in slow-mo. So delicious.
After Anne and Graeme have a good meal in their bellies and are no doubt feeling content Sarah smashes out the hard question. How did your marriage cope with writing a novel together? Anne wrote Zoe and Graeme wrote Martin. Anne identified with Zoe’s grief and so found it easier to writer her. Graeme likes grumpy Englishmen and so he took Martin. Apparently they coped better cowriting a novel than I, a dyslexic, cope with having my husband proofread a cover letter. My blood pressure is up just thinking about it but they’re happy. #couplegoals They even talk about how they met. So definitely still in love.
What a great episode! Only ten minutes but crammed with info and food.
Watch the full episode here.
Learn more about Word of Mouth TV here.
Find Kate’s website here.
Find Sarah’s website here.
Find Claire’s website here.
Find Anne’s website here.
Find Graeme’s website here.
Buy Two Steps Forward here.
In an act of pure genius Kerri Sackville held her Sydney launch of Out There, hosted by Better Read Than Dead, in a bar. Leadbelly in Newtown to be precise. A book on dating in your 40s is obviously best accompanied by wine and plenty of it so this really was the perfect pairing. The place was packed. All seats gone, all tables gone and the bar crowded. I have never attended a book launch with so many people. We can safely say that Echo publishing was right to think that a survival guide to dating in midlife would be warmly received.
The effervescent Benjamin Law lead the conversation. He refers to Kerri as a war correspondent and anthropologist who delves deep into dating, throwing her body on the line to meticulously document the ins and outs of dating. Not all heroes wear capes.
After some deep probing from BLaw Kerri admits that feeling antsy is what lead her to dive into dating after divorce. She tried to join EHarmony but it asked her too many questions and she wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment to an ap … so she downloaded Tinder and was treated to a bunch of photos of men straddling motorcycles or sitting next to sleeping tigers. She swiped left a lot. But she eventually went on a date and Out There is the bounty from her swiping right.
My dear friend Sinead tells me that this is the best book ever and just so relatable. She is new to the dating world and said she laughed out loud and could see herself making the same mistakes. This is a book about negotiating online dating with your sanity and dignity whilst loving yourself. So, take my friend Sinead’s word for it and-
Grab it from host of this book launch, Better Read Than Dead, here.
Find it on Booktopia here.
Actually, find it pretty much ANYWHERE!
Prepare yourself, things are going to get weird. There is a lot going on in this show. Talking animals. An angry kid. Bunnies. So much. I’m excited and scared all at the same time.
This show starts out looking very much like a cartoon Power Rangers. Figures so heavily armoured that they look like brightly coloured cyborgs are performing fully sick fight moves. One yellow, one red, one blue, and one pink. The mandatory colours. Then there’s a book montage that you think will explain who these not Power Rangers are but it doesn’t. It just shows that these robot looking things have weapons. Which is cool and all but I need slightly more detail. You’d think it’d come later but it doesn’t. Fortunately my 4 year old twins need no details. Bright colours and fighting, they are in. Big time, in.
Next minute we see a villainous looking guy, he is wearing black and has a black eye mask on for just chilling in his castle. Because let’s face it, nothing more comfy for hanging round your home than vinyl. He looks like something from Ladybug and Cat Noir. I’m not picking up why he wants to do the bad things but again, this does not bother my 4 year old twins at all. They care not for such trivial things as motivation. He’s bad, he does bad things, he makes questionable fashion choices, they get it. They don’t need any more details. This is life. Life doesn’t make sense so why should this show?
And then we’re in a suburban house watching a little girl cook pancakes for cute little animal creatures sitting in miniature furniture on her own normal sized table. That seems nice, even if she is too young to be cooking all by herself. The animals are the same colour as the suits earlier so they’re clearly the hero cyborg type things. I’m down with that. I can accept that the world needs tiny animal warriors. Anyway the little girl wants the animals to wash their hands before they eat. They don’t want to. They’re like naughty kids but with adult voices and they’re heroes. The little girl is having none of it. She screams at them. I don’t mean a little bit, she goes full savage.
I get where she’s coming from and yet I feel like she may have gone a little too far. The creatures agree to wash their hands and quite frankly I would too but before they can they’re alerted to some sort of issue they need to fix. So they leap into some pokeballs, because of course we’re ripping off Pokemon now, and roll in to talk to some sort of metallic bunker where a hologram Captain Barnacles gives them orders. So much intertextuality that they should be studying this in high school English classes. Power Rangers, Pokemon Octonauts and Red Dwarf. It’s a lot of information to take in and yet not enough info all at the same time.
Anyway they have to go fight some stuff. Other little robot things. The robot things are holding some animals hostage for reasons I don’t understand. I get that they’re bad but why those animals and what do they hope to achieve? Are they developers? Twins yet again do not care for information. They are happy.
Anyway, Miniforce gives the bad guys a solid thrashing surprisingly quickly and the episode just abruptly ends with NO closure over the pancake issue. Do they get the pancakes? Are there special features with this information. I want them to have pancakes. I want to have pancakes. Anyway, I found this show confusing yet hilariously awesome at the same thing. I’m not sure if it’s the best thing ever or the worst but I’m inclined to go with best. Total best. Four year old twins give it four thumbs up. They’re trying to fight each other now in Miniforce fashion. Watch it, feel overwhelmed like me.
Captain, oh my Captain. How I wish thee were a minister and not a senator so that thee could become Prime Minister of Australia. Senator Wong is quite simply the best person in Australian politics. She can manage to give the vibe of an eye roll without being so petty as to resort to an eye roll. She is one of Australia’s most popular politicians and it’s because of two simple things, which should be common in politics but are unfortunately rare, she’s firm but also fair.
In 2016 Senator Brandis tried to language police Senator Wong, trying to shame her for using standard expressions instead of formal English at all time, she responded with this ripper, ‘Would you just like to be pompous for the whole day, or only this question?’ And I swear a bit of excited wee snuck out when I heard that. In 2018 when Michaelia Cash, our Minister for Women FFS, decided to randomly slur all the younger women in Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s office rather than answer a question posed to her. Senator Wong wasn’t even in the hearing, heard about the outrageous slurs against women being made be our Minister for Women, rocked up to the hearing, demanded an apology, refused to accept Michaelia Cash dodging the issue, and indeed got an apology. I know who our real Minister for Women is, Senator Bloody Wong. Furthermore, in 2011 when David Bushby meowed at her during Senate she gave him such an unimpressed look that I thought he might just whither and die. Later he claimed he wasn’t being a sexist fool, yeah right mate you meow at men all the time, but Senator Wong was having none of his shit. She responded, which was important for all women, because it is past time for us to ignore these constant, sexist microaggressions and time for them to stop. #timesup. Senator Wong said, “It is just extraordinary. The blokes are allowed to yell but if a woman stands her ground, you want to make that kind of comment. It’s not schoolyard politics, mate.”
When she first assumed office in 2002 Senator Wong was one of only a handful of women in higher political positions and certainly the only gay Asian female candidate. In fact she was the first Asian born member of an Australian cabinet, the second openly gay member and the first openly gay female member. Things have changed in terms of diversity thanks to Senator Wong’s impressive lead but we still have a long way to go. In 2013 Senator Wong was appointed as Leader of the Government in the Senate and was the first woman to hold that position. Late in the same year when Labor lost government she was appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, she is the first woman to hold this position also.
Senator Wong was appointed Minister for Climate Change in 2007. She made significant advances in funding renewable energy, in particular solar and wind power. She also helped to develope the government’s emissions trading scheme under the Rudd government which was to significantly reduce our greenhouse emissions. In 2010 she was appointed as the Finance Minister and helped develop Australia’s budgets during the Global Financial Crisis. Australia has been praised as standing relatively secure during this time. During this time Wong most notably implemented a policy to ensure women are considered for senior positions in both the government and corporations. She truly is our Minister for Women and I cannot think of a better politician to discuss on International Women’s Day. On top of this Wong was instrumental in changing Labor’s policy in regards to Same Sex Marriage. Labor had initially opposed SSM but through work by Penny Wong and other members of Labor the policy was changed and they began to actively campaign for a change in Australian marriage laws. From January 9th 2018 on SSM has been legalised in Australia.
In 1997 Pauline Hanson released Pauline Hanson: The Truth in which she claimed that by 2050 Australia would be run by an Asian, lesbian Cyborg… named Poona Li Hung. She actually named it! Let’s not unpack all of that right now because this is Senator Wong’s entry not Pauline Hanson’s. But Australia is more than happy to drop the cyborg bit and bring the date forward for Penny Wong. Please become our supreme ruler, we love you.
Senator Wong sitting in front of a grey background with her hands folded in front of her. Soft but cheeky smile. Wearing blue suit with purple and white vertical stripe top. Quote: You can choose not to be interested in politics, but you can’t choose to be unaffected by it.
Read my profiles of the Australian Book Industry here.