#blogjune Blogging challenges Reading Review

30 must-read books – #4

#bj3And again, another collection. Yes, I’m a bit of a cheat, aren’t I? Sorry!!!

As a high school English teacher for more years than I dare count, I’ve studied and taught my fair share of these. My hands-down favourite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Who could resist the fun of Puck?! I grin, thinking about Shakespeare smiling while first drafting the ‘head of a donkey’ section. What went through his head, I wonder?

So, how many have you read? And which is your favourite, dear reader?

Have a great day!

— KRidwyn

#blogjune Blogging challenges Christianity Reading Review

30 must-read books – #3


IMG_1524And this is another one of those ‘compilation’ ones. There’s 66 books in this one though.

Like with yesterday’s gushing over Pride and Prejudice, there are sections in my Bible that I love so much, and have read so many times, that I could quote them verbatim. Admittedly, I don’t just read my Bible for the writing style – although there are sections in this, too, where the writing is exquisite.

But for me, I read this book for the ‘Life Application’ bit. The Bible pictured above is the one I bought for myself right at the end of 2015, when I planned to start reading January 1 and get through four chapters per day, so I’d have read it in its entirety by the end of the year. Now, I haven’t managed to read four chapters every single day, but I’m in Psalms at the moment, which is the 19th book. And before you say, ‘but that’s less than a third of the total number of books, and we’re almost halfway through the year’ – I should probably tell you that the books at the beginning of the Old Testament (at the beginning of the Bible) are far longer than those in the New Testament (at the end of the Bible). For example, the book of Exodus (OT) has 39 chapters, whereas 1st Corinthians (NT) has 16 chapters, and 1st Peter (also NT) has just 5.

So I *am* on track (I think!) to complete it by the end of the year. Which will be good, because it’s been far too long since I read it in its entirety.

And if you’re wondering which book is my favourite? I think it’s Jeremiah. But I’ll confirm that for you on December 31st 😀

Have a great day, dear reader!


PS. Yes, I probably should have listed this one as my #1 book – but there were issues with photos etc so it wasn’t ready in time. And then I thought, “So what?! I never said that the 30 were in any kind of order?!” 😛

PPS. Having said that though, there will be some kind of order, I’m thinking. These first few posts will be my favourite ‘literary works’, I suppose, followed by my YA titles, Christian, fantasy, etc as the mood takes me… I hope that’s okay with you 🙂

#blogjune Blogging challenges Reading Review

30 must-read books – #2


Yes, I know. I’m only on Day 2 of this #BlogJune thing and I’m already cheating on my ’30 books’ theme. Although technically, this *is* still ONE book… (Yeah, okay, it’s a compilation of seven. You got me.)

But there are two of Jane Austen’s works that I can’t choose between, for equally important but vastly different reasons. My two faves here are Pride and Prejudice and Lady Susan.

Lizzie Bennett revels in not conforming to society’s expectations, and the ‘stile’ in which her story is revealed is thoroughly exquisite. Thoroughly, incredibly, decadently, brilliant. Worthy of indulging to drowning point. I love love love this writing!

Lady Susan Vernon on the other hand, has far too much time on her hands, combined with beauty, wit, liberty – in the form of a recently deceased husband – and a tendency toward mischief. Her unscrupulous, manipulative nature reminds me of the resourceful Becky Sharp, from William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, however Austen’s novel is epistolary – written entirely as a series of letters between the characters. When I first read this novel, in my late teens. I was in awe. I think, perhaps, I still am.

Have you read either? Or both? What did you think of them?

#blogjune Blogging challenges More about me Reading Review

30 must-read books – #1



Sailor Edmond Dantes wants revenge. Wrongfully imprisoned on the day of his wedding, he has spent over 14 years in horrific conditions. Now, the death of his only friend gives him the opportunity for escape.

He carries with him his friend’s gift: knowledge of the location of an immense fortune, which Edmond plans to retrieve. The Count of Monte Cristo by French author Alexandre Dumas, published 1844, examines Dantes’ actions as he avenges himself on those who had conspired against him.

I first read this book in my early twenties, and fell utterly in love with it. Have you read it? Do you feel the same?

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

#AtoZchallenge Blogging challenges my novel-in-progress Random thoughts Reading Review Writing

And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Wow! What a month it’s been, huh?

FullSizeRenderTwenty-six posts, for the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Originally, I’d planned a 26-instalment story. But the draft version ended up far too violent to publish here, so at the last minute, I changed to ’26 metaphors for God’, inspired by a cross-stitch Mum made for me. Praise God for Mums, and for friends who make suggestions like “why don’t you use your Mum’s cross-stitch?”

But that being said, it was a huge month. And although I participated, I’m glad it’s over. It took a lot of time away from my ‘normal’ writing, so I’m quite a bit further behind than I wanted to be. And as for my Goodreads challenge, that’s looking like a TKO at this point. Because although I *have* been reading, it’s been on blogs, not books!

My favourite blogs this past month have been: (A fascinating story over the month of April) (26 stories, each 6 sentences long. Chilling stories.) (American history? READ THIS!) (100 word stories inspired by the songs of Paul McCartney. So clever!) (Military definitions from A to Z; enlightening to say the least) (stories, and beer. And dragons…) (clues in haiku for the word of the day) (New Zealand movies from A to Z with gorgeously written reviews)

and (on writing, and writer’s life)

I thoroughly recommend, if you have the time, drop by and have a read.

And for any A to Z challenge participants stopping by, THANK YOU for your encouragement and support, and YAY!!! We did it!!!

(Heading off for a well-earned nap now…)

#AtoZchallenge Blogging challenges Christianity family anecdotes More about me Reading Review

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #22


Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 6.49.19 amOne of my son’s favourite books is BASIL THE BRANCH from THE LOST SHEEP series – about a branch who wants to bear fruit.

No matter how hard he tries, he can’t.

It’s only when he gives up in despair that he hears the voice from over his shoulder. It’s the vine. And it’s smiling at him, telling him to relax.

You see, Basil is only a branch. It is *impossible* for him to grow grapes all by himself. That’s not his job.

His job is just to focus on the vine. And *then* the grapes will grow – because it’s the vine that does the work, not each little, individual branch.

So that’s what Basil does. And you know what? After he focuses on the vine – and *does* grow a beautiful big bunch of grapes!

One of God’s ‘metaphors’ is that of being the vine. The cross-stitch picture uses the words ‘the true vine’ (from John 15 verse 1) and shows a picture of a bunch of grapes, with leaves and tendrils. John 15:5 says,

V“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

I find that pretty challenging: I’m one of those people who’s pretty self-reliant with a lot of stuff. ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ kinda gets my hackles up – until I realise that I really *am* just a branch. And I need One who’s greater than me, to be able to achieve anything worthwhile.

So that’s my takeaway lesson fro today. Jesus is the vine: my job is to just focus on Him!

Have a great day, dear reader 🙂

— KRidwyn



#AtoZchallenge Blogging challenges Christianity Review

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #18

I rarely post video clips, but want to share this one with you.

And although I haven’t yet seen the movie, it’s one that’s at the top of my ‘must see’ list. And not just because I really like Joseph Fiennes’ acting…

The trailer text refers to ‘the biggest manhunt in history’ – and I think that’s a perfect way to describe it. How else would it have felt, for the people living in Jerusalem, in the year that Jesus was crucified, and rose again after death?

RLuke 24:6 –

“He is not here; he has risen!”

Unprecedented. Miraculous. And yet – true, factual, history.

That’s enough for me.

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn


Reading Review

Considering the “tent poles” in The Book Thief

One idea I gleaned from reading Chuck Wendig’s THE KICK-ASS WRITER recently was that of tent poles. As in, stories need them. Without them, the plot falls over, just like a large tent with no poles.

Immediately prior, I’d read Markus Zusak’s THE BOOK THIEF for the very first time. (Yes, yes. I know I’m probably the last person on the face of the Earth to do so. I’ve been busy, okay?)

And you know what? Looking back at THE BOOK THIEF, I could see what Wendig was getting at. I could see the tent poles! (Exclamation point needed because I was pretty excited; this had never happened to me before…) And I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. So they’re below. (Warning: long post ahead! Also, spoilers. Just in case anybody else on the face of this planet hasn’t yet read the book or seen the movie and manages to somehow find this post):

IMG_0504upLiesel. As readers, we are first introduced to her on a train. I don’t know about you, but my first thought about ‘trains in Nazi Germany’ is ‘Jews on their way to prison camps’, with all its associated misery and horror. This train journey is not one of those, but Liesel unwittingly watches her younger brother die, so the misery and horror are still there. Then her mother is forced to abandon her, which tugs at our heartstrings and immediately turns her into a sympathetic character, if she wasn’t already. Obviously, Zusak needed his protagonist to be German. But she needed a point of interest to keep her separate from the ‘oppressive’ Nazi rulers. So Zusak also made her the youngish daughter of Kommunists, the underdogs, and therefore making complete our view of her as someone to be pitied. Interestingly, Zusak gave his main character the same name as the eldest daughter in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. So I also had an instant association with “an innocent, in a coming-of-age” story. Liesel also needed to be illiterate at the beginning, to develop her love of books and likewise, her love for ‘Papa’, Hans Hubermann.

Death. The narrator. He didn’t introduce himself, so as readers we were forced to intuit this piece of information – and it’s always good (so says Chuck) to make the readers ‘do some heavy lifting’. And so we do. As an outside spectator, still very invested in the happening events, Death was extremely useful, as he provided a supposedly objective view of Liesel. His being an omniscient immortal helped too. It was ‘expected’, almost, that at times he would refer to later events, and this glimpse into the future – or past, when he related the events of the Great War as it pertained to the backstory of Hans, and his debt to Max – also assisted the structure of the novel somewhat, alleviating any sense of ‘drag’ by the predominantly lock-step, week-by-week telling of the story.

‘Papa’. Hans Huberman, Liesel’s step-father. He is the first to be kind to Liesel, drawing her from the car the first time we see him. His sacrifice of sleep each night, and his teaching Leisel to read, and especially when he rescues her from humiliation over her completely-understandable bed wetting incidents, ensures he is cast in heroic light.

Rudy. The ‘best friend’. Boy-next-door, the same age (and therefore same class at school) but opposite gender. This meant that Liesel had someone to offer her support, but also have friction with. His desire to have her kiss him, meant she was seen – by him, at least – in a desirable light: and the fact that the kiss was unrequited spoke not only to her integrity but also gave both characters pathos, knowing from very early on that he’d die without ever receiving his heart’s desire. Zusak needed Rudy’s father, Alex Steiner, to be absent at the climax, so therefore he was conscripted. We are given the impression that his conscription was punishment for Rudy’s NOT going to war, so Zusak needed Rudy to be desired by the Nazis. Hence his blond hair, blue eyes and running talents. But Rudy needed to be unpatriotic, therefore his idolisation of not only a ‘negro’ athlete, but a famous American one to boot.

Max. Liesel’s other ‘best friend’, needed to add the element of danger. Max was a Jew, who Papa hid in the basement. Zusak ratcheted the tension in this situation because Max could easily have been discovered by Papa or Mamma’s own son or daughter – and their son was a brainwashed deeply patriotic Nazi. And although Max was captured – it would not have been realistic if he were not – he also needed to survive, the symbol of hope (otherwise, the book may indeed have been realistic, but would have been too dark to be palatable, I think).

The community of Himmel street. Himmel = heaven / sky. Himmel street was not heavenly, by any stretch of the imagination. But the community – with the exception of Liesel and Alex Steiner, Rudy’s father – was taken to heaven by Death, after bombs from the sky obliterated their street, killing indiscriminately. Zusak needed all of them to die, again, to make a distinction between them and Liesel, as her survival of this tragedy shows her inner strength. This event also tugs on our heart-strings, as by the time it occurs, we readers have spent the majority of the novel building strong emotional connections with these characters.

Isla Hermann. The Mayor’s wife, first introduced as the shadowy figure who watched Liesel steal a book from the remains of a bonfire. Her character was needed, as the person to take care of Liesel after her community had been obliterated. Therefore, Mamma needed a job (washerwoman) which would introduce her into the Mayor’s circle. And Liesel having a love-hate relationship with Isla not only gave more depth to both characters but also gave Zusak the opportunity to introduce the iconic symbol – the blank journal Leisel wrote in, which eventually became the book that Death carried as a reminder of his “Book Thief”.

Alex Steiner, Rudy’s father. For Max to find Liesel after the war, some part of the Himmel street community needed to survive. Therefore, Rudy’s father needed to be away at the time of the bombing. His being a businessman also gave Liesel a job after the war, where she could be found. Alex Steiner’s survival of the war also drilled home the idea of senseless tragedy – that Mr Steiner, who was in the most danger at the front, should survive to employ Liesel, and yet his entire family, neighbours and friends, who lay sleeping at home in their beds, who should have been safe, were all killed. It would also seem that Alex – not the Mayor – becomes Liesel’s replacement father-figure after Hans’ death. The juxtapositioning of these two characters is even poignant, given that Death had related Hans’ story, of his evading Death (through chance) at the front not once but twice. Thus Hans’ death is all the more tragic, and the senselessness of war is reinforced.

Overall, I loved the writing; the description was without compare. One image that prompted me to sit back and say “wow” referred to the blinds over the windows as ‘confiscating the light’. Death’s descriptions of the colours threw me a little, but not excessively.

Most events were a surprise, but not out of left field. It’s only when you consider it in hindsight, that all events can be seen to be necessary. And that, I think, was the beauty of this writing for me. That Zusak was able to masterfully craft a story, and write it in such a way that this reader, on her first time through, was hooked by the first chapter and unable to step away until after the final sentence.

Well, congratulations on making it to the end of an excessively long blog post! And what did you think? Were there “tent poles” I missed?

Random thoughts Reading Review Technology


So I joined Goodreads yesterday. I’d heard about it quite a bit recently, but hadn’t had the chance to check it out until now. It’s not quite as user-friendly as I’d hoped, but maybe that’s because there’s s much functionality to it…?

Anyway, I guess I’ll figure it out more as time goes by 🙂

Have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

#blogjune Life Review

Over for another year..

Hello again, dear reader.

This marks the final post for my 2015 #blogjune journey. It’s been different to what I had expected. I had *hoped* that I’d be able to post every day. But, just as in the last five years, that never happened. I still managed 30 posts – but because several days had two or more posts in them. And this post marks the 112th post in the #blogjune category – and that sounds pretty impressive to me 🙂

So, to recap for 2015:

1. On the relationship between libraries, teaching and vocal nodules I lamented my not-going-to-Library-volunteering-due-to-laryngitis day

2. Keeping it at bay – the laryngitis, that is – related my happiness at getting so much editing done the day before, and also re-discovering the five (count them! 5!) folders of research that I’d done for a historical novel ten years ago, before Miss10 came along

3. Looking backwards, looking forwards referred to my experiences with #blogjune (cherubs traditionally picking up vomiting bugs during the first week of June) and my excitement about the #WritingRace I attend every Wednesday evening.

4. So I succumbed – Laryngitis got me, finally. It was the choir rehearsals that did it, I tell you!

5. Ask me why I’m happy – Hubby finished his CPA studies!

6. So it happened again – I was *so* hoping to get away with a vomit-free first week of #blogjune. But Miss7 changed that. Sigh.

7. Smiling – while sick : my 41st birthday!

8. Grateful was a post thanking my peeps for all the birthday love – and I finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing 🙂

9 – 14. The next few posts were a series on how I parent. I regularly get comments on the good behaviour of my kids, so I thought I’d blog about why. Things like Rewards First, Stuff Costs Money (understanding the value of things), Set Expectations, Consistency is Key, Make Milestones Memorable and finished it with a post on Mummy: my kids’ perspective

15. This Saturday looked ahead to the Krav Maga grading I was to sit that weekend

16. whoops – where I realised that I’d missed a day of blogging. My first for the month. So I’d made it through to day 15 before misisng a day! Happy with that 🙂

17. Predicting the game – the State of Origin rugby league match, that’s pretty big on the east coast of Australia during June. And I got it right 🙂

18. Training – Miss10 had been giving me back massages all week, possibly in response to the hard training I was doing preparing for my grading. Which was absolutely beautiful!

19. On dreams – I wonder what “being suffocated by render” means?

20. I passed!!! (Still shaking my head in disbelief, actually…)

21. Sabriel – my thoughts on the Garth Nix novel of the same name, which I’d read that afternoon. Being unable to do much else but lie prone, of course!

22. Conversations with my younger children – in which both Miss7 and Mr6 surprised me.

23. Hat-less: a selfie. These are rare. But I felt that my first day without-a-hat since shaving my head for #WorldsGreatestShave back in March was reason enough to grin and bear that rear-facing camera…

24. four days behind  because I was! And my reason why…

25. On socks and sewing – in which I recounted hopeful improvements in my ‘school socks’ system, and also my woeful sewing skills

26. sore – Some furniture was moved in preparation for the laying of tiles which had been delivered – which we had just discovered were the wrong tiles! (Am still seething over this one…)

27. Feedback from beta-readers – my take on the feedback I’ve received on my book to date

28. Tiles – part 2 : situation resolved (we can but hope) where the correct tiles will apparently be delivered next week…

29. Reading time – where I got to the bottom of why Mr6 refuses to read certain words

30. Over for another year – this one that’s you’re reading right now, the recap post where I’ve reminisced on the events of the past month.

Thanks for reading, and here’s wishing you a lovely day, as always!

— KRidwyn