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    Asia & Oceania Travel  --  Reading Wednesday

    Book Review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

    We listened to a couple of Audible book this past month while tooling about Australia in a Motorhome. If you haven’t been following that journey you might want to check it out here Caravan Travel Australia Part One and Part Two. Anyway, my friend Pam asked if I had read Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country. This book is old…published in 2000, one my husband read it when it came out. But I had not, and so it seemed like the perfect story for our long drive. Thanks Pam. Here is my book review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

    Bill Bryson

    First of all, if you have never read Bill Bryson you are missing out on one of America’s greatest gems. What a writer, humorist, humanitarian and witty observer of people he is. Bryson has numerous book, but I had never read his book about traveling around Australia. Nothing could have been more perfect for us to enjoy, agree with and guffaw at on our road trip.

    Discovering the Undiscovered Country

    Bryson spends weeks and weeks while researching this book, traversing this incredibly empty, huge and surprising continent/country of Australia. In his telling of the journey he meets Australia’s most amazing creatures, encounters the most unlikely characters, falls in love with the solitude, all while finding humor in each and every unexpected moment.

    In a Sunburned Country brings to life a place that many will never get the opportunity to discover. I am lucky to have been here twice. And much of Bryson’s prose echo my own feelings about this lethal place (“more things that can kill you in malicious ways than anywhere else in the world”) and yet it’s like you just can’t get enough – forget the danger!

    Book Review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

    In a Sunburned Country brings to life this usually forgotten country – with solid and cheerful people, low crime, safe cities, abundant sunshine, fascinating history and the craziest collection of animals. And yet, we hear so little about Australia in the media. Another reason you should visit. And whether you visit on your own, or via Bryson’s wonderful storytelling, you should get to know amazing Australia.

    Thanks for reading my book review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

    *****Five stars – I definitely recommend it to travelers or those who dream to travel.

    Read last week’s book review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    My current read The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

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    In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    How deep is the connection of family? Of sisters seperated at birth? How deep is love through the worst of life’s trials, terror and torment? In this novel we learn the deep connections through eight generations. Here is my book review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

    West Africa

    As the slave trade is gearing up and England has colonized, the native tribes turn against each other. It’s the eighteenth century in Ghana. Two half sisters are born, in different villages. Neither will ever know the other, but their connection is inscribed on their souls. Each always feeling a part of her is missing, despite the extreme different circumstances their lives will take. One will marry a British officer and lead a life of luxury, even though she is a black women, her status will be elevated for a lifetime. She will live out her life in a colonial castle. Her sister, captured and thrown into a holding cell in the same castle, will eventually make the horrific journey to the America’s and become a slave.

    Eight Generations

    Gyasi will develop the characters in this novel, following the two seperate but parrellel lives of the the descendants of these half sisters…one family in Ghana and not arriving in America until the 1970’s. The other family enduring slavery, civil war, and Harlem in the 1970’s. Gyasi looks deeply in this novel at the longlasting effects on a nation and a family that slavery and racism had…and still has…holding the memory of captivitiy in hearts forever.

    ****Four stars for Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

    Read last week’s Book Review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

    My current read The Armor of Light by Ken Follett

    Thank you for reading my book review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

    This is the third book I have read by Lisa See. Her works always focus on Asian women and I find her research into real historical figures, and her ability to create a fictional story around them, brilliant. Two other books I recommend by Lisa See are The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and The Island of Sea Women. Here is my book review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See.

    Period: Ming Dynasty

    Inspired by the true story of Tan Yunxian, See takes us to 15th century China. A time of concubines and foot binding where women were meant to be beautiful above all else. See brings to life in this fictional story Lady Tan, brilliant, beautiful and captivating. Tan’s destiny is mapped out for her during the period of the Ming Dynasty, but this young women will grow to be a force.

    Studying with her grandmother from a very young age, Lady Tan will become a brilliant doctor, and leave behind at her death meticulous notes about her care of primarily women throughout her life. Not only will she be a mother, wife and eventually the head of the wealthy family she married into, but she will be a healer, life saver, and a connector of women. Building throughout her life a strong bond with both those in her upper class life and the common people too.

    Lisa See, in this book like all the others, does extensive research and travels extensively to find her stories. This book re-imagines beautifully this remarkable women, her unconventional life, and the legacy she leaves behind.

    *****Five stars for Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See.

    See last week’s book review The Editor by Steven Rowley. Thank you for reading my book review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See.

    My current read is All The Broken Places by John Boyne.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Editor by Steven Rowley

    I loved this book by the author of The Guncle, which was one of my favs from last year. Rowley has a engaging an thoughtful writing style which is perfect for the topic of this book – Jackie Onassis. Here is my book review The Editor by Steven Rowley.

    This is a work of fiction, but is based on the very real Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Rowley introduces us to Mrs. Onassis during the period in her life where she served as an Editor at Doubleday Books in New York City.

    Just imagine if you are a young author and your very first novel has been tapped by Doubleday. You walk into your first meeting with your Editor, and OMG. It’s her. Jackie Kennedy.

    This is how the story begins when James Smale is dumbstruck in the offices of Doubleday. Why would Mrs. Onassis like his book?

    As the plot unfolds we learn that James has written a book, loosely (well not so loosely) about his own dysfunctional family. Growing up with a father who was angry and not engaged and a mother who was often mentally absent, James tells the truth, but changes the names to protect the…well who exactly?

    Mrs. Onassis finds a connection to this story, and over the next year she will skillfully guide James to write the real story and find the real ending…all while she is quietly suffering in her own private world.

    I really enjoy Rowley’s writing and in this novel he managed to bring me to tears, which rarely happens for me. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love this book. Thank you for reading my book review The Editor by Steven Rowley.

    *****Five stars for The Editor by Steven Rowley.

    See last week’s book review Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

    My current read is Sidhartha by Herman Hess

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Art Thief by Michael Finkel

    I learned about this book when my friend Wendy posted on social media that her friend Michael Finkel had a book on the New York Times best seller list. So I decided to check it out. What an amazing true-crime it was. I loved it and I think you will too. Here is my book review The Art Thief by Michael Finkel.


    This is the true story about Stephane Breitwieser, a young man in Europe who would become one of the most obsessed art thief’s in history. It boggles my mind how long he got away with it and how many relics and masterpieces he was able to just walk out of museums and cathedrals with. He stole more than three hundred objects over an 8-year period, with the help of us girlfriend who served as lookout and his mother who turned a blind eye.


    Finkel brings us into Breitwieser’s bizarre world, helping the reader feel at once part of each heist yet also astonished and breathless at the sheer audacity of this criminal. Breitwiser was never in it for the money, he just had an insatiable need to possess rare works of art. He hid all his works in a secret hiding place for years.

    The Crash

    He is of course eventually caught (thus this book), after he makes one major mistake. Breitwieser, his mother and his girlfriend will all suffer from this years long and senseless crime spree. In the end, many priceless works will be lost, burned or never found.

    Thanks for reading my book review The Art Thief by Michael Finkel. A remarkable story of true crime and brilliantly written and engaging.

    *****Five Stars for The Art Thief by Michael Finkel

    See last week’s book review Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton.

    My current read The Crook Manifesto.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

    Wow this book. I went into this without any knowledge of the plot or any previous reads of reviews. It is a mind-bender. My husband thought I would like it, and we both had enjoy The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton a couple months ago. So I started Birnam Wood and I was blown away. Here is my book review Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton.

    Like the Luminaries, Birnam Wood is set in New Zealand but this time in the modern times. Released in early 2023 Catton has developed a unique story for our time. We are introduced to Mira and the people behind the unregulated, philanthropic but sometimes criminal gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice, in an effort to grow food for the world. When a giant landslide (not unheard of in New Zealand) cuts off the town of Thorndike, Mira and Birnam Wood decide to take over a farm and hope they can go unnoticed.

    But also taking advantage of the currently abandoned property is American billionaire Robert Lemoine who tells Mira he is building his bunker for the end of the world. Is that the truth? Far from it as Lemoine has no intention of the world coming to an end…rather he is money grabbing, untrustworthy and ruthless tech wizard and no one is safe around him.

    This is a psychological thriller with a horrific plot that gets worse as the story unfolds. How many will die for the sake of their beliefs or for the insatiable need for money and power? Thank you for reading my book review Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton.

    *****Five stars for Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton.

    Read last weeks book review Dare to Travel by Katherine Leamy

    My current read Chenneville by Paulette Jiles

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Dare to Travel Solo by Katherine Leamy

    Over the years of my travel blogging life I have had the unique opportunity to get to know other travel bloggers, vloggers and authors. Katherine Leamy is one of those. Although we have never met (yet) we have a great deal in common. I was very excited to read her new book written to explain how she became “The 5 Kilo Traveler”. Here is my book review Dare to Travel Solo by Katherine Leamy.

    Just a Regular Mom

    Katherine is many things,but not always a solo traveler. She is a wife, a mom, a nurse, a friend. And yet something was nagging at her and she felt she needed to get out of the box and try something new and daring. No her marriage wasn’t falling apart, or her job driving her crazy. She just felt the need to embark on a solo adventure and see what she might find there.


    So, with the blessing of her family, she embarked on her first ever solo trip, with only a backpack, to Croatia. Dare to Travel Solo chronicles her day to day adventures, the people she met, the experiences she had, and how she conquered her fear. This trip set her on a course to be a solo traveler, and to encourage other travelers to travel light with a back pack only.

    A Following

    Along the way she discovered there are many people like her interested in making the leap to solo travel and lightweight travel. And so the book became a goal too – a guide to help others see their own possibilities. As I type this, I’m in the Philippines and my friend Kathrine is on her way to Japan to hike…carrying as little as possible for her next adventure.

    Like me, Katherine encourages others to find what works for them in travel, seize the moment without fear and get out there! Do it now, do it soon and don’t find yourself regretting never doing it.

    Dare to Travel Solo

    ****Four Stars for Dare to Travel Solo.

    Are you ready to travel solo? Thanks for reading my book review Dare to Travel Solo by Katherine Leamy. Have fun Katherine!!

    Read last week’s book review Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. We appreciate your comments and shares.