An Fi50 Reminder and TBR Friday!



It’s that time of the month again – Fiction in 50 kicks off on Monday!  To participate, just create  a piece of fiction or poetry in fewer than 51 words and then add your link to the comments of my post on Monday.  For more information, just click on that snazzy typewriter at the top of this post.  Our prompt for this month is…

only certainty

See you there!

TBR Friday

And now it’s time for TBR Friday!  Today’s book is The Art of Purring by David Michie; the sequel to The Dalai Lama’s Cat which I reviewed on the blog a couple of years back.  I think I borrowed the first book from the library and enjoyed it so much that I immediately purchased both it and its sequel…and then, of course, left the second book languishing on my shelf until…well, now.  Let’s kick off with the blurb from Goodreads:

What makes you purr? Of all the questions in the world, this is the most important. It is also the great leveler. Because no matter whether you are a playful kitten or a sedentary senior, a scrawny alley Tom or a sleek-coated uptown girl, whatever your circumstances, you just want to be happy. Not the kind of happy that comes and goes like a can of flaked tuna but an enduring happiness. The deep-down happiness that makes you purr from the heart.     

Before leaving for a teaching tour to America, the Dalai Lama poses a challenge to his beloved feline, HHC (His Holiness’s Cat): to discover the true cause of happiness. Little does she know what adventures this task will bring!     A hair-raising chase through the streets of McLeod Ganj leads to an unexpected revelation about the perils of self-obsession. An encounter with the mystical Yogi Tarchen inspires a breakthrough discovery about her past—one with dramatic implications for us all. And overheard conversations between ivy-league psychologists, high-ranking lamas, and famous writers who congregate at the Himalaya Book Café help her explore the convergence between science and Buddhism on the vital subject of happiness.     Sparkling with wisdom, warmth, and a touch of mischief, The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purringis a charming reminder of why HHC is becoming one of the most-loved cats around the world.So what is the true cause of purring? The Dalai Lama whispers this secret on his return—only for the ears of HHC and those with whom she has a karmic connection . . . that, dear reader, means you!

the art of purring

Ten Second Synopsis:

The Dalai Lama is leaving on a world tour and Rinpoche is left to her own devices.  While gadding about with locals, she discovers nuggets of wisdom to pass on to the reader.

Time on the TBR Shelf:

Since November 4, 2013 – so nearly three years!


Purchased from the Book Depository

Reason I haven’t read it yet:

I knew it would be a gentle sort of a read and more of the same as appeared in the first book so just kept overlooking it in favour of more exciting fare.

Best Bits:

  • The writing is unhurried and episodic, which means it is absolutely perfect for when you want a book that you can dip into before bed, a chapter at a time.
  • Nothing really bad happens, so it isn’t going to give you indigestion or have you up all night worrying about it
  • It is a gentle sort of a book with no preachiness or guilt-inducing exhortations to make your life better.

Less Impressive Bits:

  • I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you haven’t first read The Dalai Lama’s Cat.  You could probably enjoy it without having first read the previous book, but the first book really does have a lot more charm and character than this one.  I feel like this one reads a bit like a refresher course in being the Dalai Lama’s cat.
  • The human characters in this one aren’t as characterful as in the first book – the individual learning curves not as steep and the outcomes not as drastically happiness-inducing

On reflection, was this worth buying?

To be honest I could probably have just borrowed this one from the library.  Annoyingly, in a state of ridiculous generosity, I gave away my copy of The Dalai Lama’s Cat, and now that I have the lesser of the two books with me I wish I hadn’t.  Ah, impermanence!

Where to now for this tome?

I will probably pass it on to someone who will enjoy it.

This is another chink off the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted by My Reader’s Block.

Mount TBR 2016

Until next time,


Utopirama!: The Wisdom of the Shire….


Evening all! It’s time once again for the soothing sounds of Utopirama, my semi-regular feature celebrating  contributions to literature that promote a vision of utopia in you, the reader.  This feature focuses on comfort reads – the kind of books with no nasty surprises, that you can confidently pick up when you’re feeling a bit dissatisfied with the state of the world, or have had your fill of zombification/totalitarianism/natural disaster etc etc…

Today’s offering, selected once again by the Marquis de Chuckleworthy (aka Larry), is The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life from an author by the simultaneously grandiose and hoi polloi-ish name of Noble Smith.  Here is a picture of Mad Martha, snapped very recently reading the aforementioned tome while relaxing in the utopian location of Rainbow Beach, Queensland.DSC_0553

Quick Overview:

For those quick of both eye and wit it will come as no surprise that this book proposes methods for attaining satisfaction from living based on the lifestyle and outlook of those hairy-footed gurus, the Hobbits (found, of course, in the work of J. R. R. Tolkien).  Smith suggests applying careful scrutiny to, and adopting aspects of Hobbity living, such as their enjoyment of good, healthy, homegrown food and alcohol, their penchant for bursting into song and their commitment to friends and countryfolk, as a means to create a peaceful slice of Hobbiton in one’s own hectic, Mordorish world.

Utopian Themes

Eating, Drinking and Being Merry (or Meriadoc, as the case may be)

Cosy Hobbit holes

Communing with nature

The ultimate triumph of good over evil

the wisdom of the shire

Protective Bubble-o-meter

protective bubbleprotective bubbleprotective bubbleprotective bubbleprotective bubble

5 out of 5 bubbles for the generic cosiness of Hobbit holes

This is a perfect pick-up, put-down, read-a-chapter-every-now-and-again-when-you-need-a-motivational-prod-towards-happiness utopian read.

Until next time,


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Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse….Read it if….


Afternoon friends and hangers-on! Today’s offering is a little bit different to my usual fare – a concise non-fiction book for the young adult crowd.  Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse by Jolene Stockman is a short motivational book dealing with those tricky issues of adolescence (and let’s face it, beyond), identity and personal power.  I was drawn in by another blogger tipping us off about copies for review, and was promptly and enthusiastically rewarded by Ms Stockman herself speedily supplying me with an e-copy.  And so, to my end of the bargain – an honest review!

Stockman is a clever little Kiwi cookie as evidenced by her bio:

bio1 Jolene is an award winning writer, speaker, and an expert for Girlfriend Magazine Australia. She is a Master of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and one of the youngest in the world to achieve the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. Jolene is the author of Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse, The Jelly Bean Crisis, and Total Blueprint for World Domination. She lives in New Zealand and is currently workingon two new books. Learn more at ”"

I must admit I was a little intimidated in launching into Jawbreaker, but I was happily reassured after the first page or two that I was in safe hands for my journey into the oft-tangled thicket of personal insight.  I was also afraid that the motivational speaker-ese language of the introductory chapter would continue throughout the book, triggering my jump onto the first step of an escalator spiralling downward toward my own personal hell.  But it didn’t! Huzzah! Instead, I was treated to a highly readable and actually motivating tome that provided food for thought and practical suggestions across a range of personal circumstances, as opposed  to the many faux-motivational tomes out there  that are thinly veiled attempts to make you purchase the author’s DVD collection, week-to-a-view illustrated diary, essential oils travel kit and line of motivational lingerie.

Essentially, the book hinges around the analogy of the Jawbreaker – the idea that we all have a unique, special centre that is the essence of who we are, and that around this centre, by chance, habit or design, we build layers that become our identity.


Read it if:

* you much prefer your many-layered, multi-faceted personality to be represented metaphorically as a tantalising, colourful, mouth-watering Jawbreaker, rather than a stinky, tear-duct burning, halitosis-inducing onion

*you are, or ever were, a young person who suspects that one’s position in the schoolyard social hierarchy will have little to no bearing on your life once you pass through the school gate for the final time

*you like your self-help to be palatable, easily digestible within one sitting and with a side order of sass

One of the great strengths of this book is the concise format – it really can be read in one sitting.  It is also divided into handy little chapters for those with short attention spans, or for those who are looking for an encouraging word in a particular area.  Another helpful thing about the book is the practical exercises that are offered with various topics – these are simple, quick activities that illustrate the points being made and allow the reader to apply the information as superficially or deeply as they wish.

For example, Stockman discusses “anchoring” positive emotions to particular objects, places, or smells as a means of easily recalling those emotions when you need a boost.  I found this a particularly helpful tip and immediately got down to some practice:

imageHere I am anchoring the feeling of comfort and calm to a beanie that Mad Martha kindly made for me. Now whenever I feel a bit out of sorts, I can don my beanie and immediately benefit from its association with positive feelings of peace.  Thanks, Ms Stockman!

Another concept discussed in the book is the idea of a personal Fuse, or the knowledge of a particular activity or pursuit that really speaks to your passions and connects you to that part of your identity that is most important and essential to who you are.  Again, the shelf denizens found this intriguing and began reflecting on the activities that light their own fuses….

mad martha crochet

Take Mad Martha for instance, who is particularly enamoured with the art of crochet.  Here she is making Christmas stockings for the mini-fleshlings in the dwelling.  See how she glows with happiness at the ability to express love and warm regard through the medium of yarn.  Clearly, this is her Fuse!

The whole book is chock-full of little snuggets of useful information, like those that got the shelf-denizens so worked up.  Really, this book would make a fantastic graduation present for older teens as they prepare to venture out into the world of “being a grown-up”.  Alternatively, I think there’s a lot here that would excite those in their early teens who have a certain level of personal insight and could benefit from a guiding hand in the form of some encouraging and challenging home truths.  And as evidenced by our enthusiastic participation, there’s also plenty in there for adults looking for a supportive nudge and someone to say, “Hey! You’re super!” (preferably in a Kiwi accent. I found it greatly enhanced the authenticity of the experience).

If I’ve whetted your appetite for personal development, you can purchase Jawbreaker, along with Jolene’s other books, here.

And may I casually point out, to those considering partaking of the Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge, 2014, that Jawbreaker: Unlock the (U)niverse, would make the perfect choice for category eight (a book with some form of wordplay in the title)?

Until next time,


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Bruce’s Lucky Dip: Dating for the Literary Minded…


Today’s selection in the lucky dip comes to you courtesy of the search term “dating”.  Yes, that most anticipated and awkward of human interactions has thrown up some unexpected, yet intriguing, titles for those interested in the world of courting and mate-selection. Set your peepers to stun as you peruse the following relationship reads:

For those looking for a magical, otherworldly dating experience:

wood nymph centaurFor the malodorous or otherwise unsavoury cassanova:


In case you can’t read it, the subtitle says “311 things guys do that guarantee they won’t be dating or having sex”.  One wonders why they stopped at 311….

For the slightly suspicious, or for those concerned about their intended’s fascination with taunting small animals:

dating a sociopath

For those looking for God’s gift to women. Literally.

dating jesus

For those hoping that love will blossom organically, without the need for pesticides or growth hormones:

meeting your half orange

As is often the case with the lucky dip, this is but a small selection of the exciting possibilities availalbe to the romantically-minded reader.  Feel free to add your own contributions for our appreciation!
Until next time,