Book Haul – 13 to 19 December 2020

Hey book nerds!

It probably looks like I’ve barely opened a book this week, having only finished a picture book and gift book. I’ve been slowly working my way through Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and it’s a serious commitment. Between the 700+ pages and the detailed descriptions of all things political, it’s taking me a very long time to get through it. Hopefully I’ll have it finished by Christmas, all going well.

I finally managed to see Vienna Teng perform in concert this week. It was my second online concert and it was magic! I thought I’d never have the opportunity to see her play live and although I missed the atmosphere of sitting in a room with hundreds of other fans, it was so much better than I’d dared to hope it would be.

I’ve been to some concerts where it’s obvious how much finessing has been done to a singer’s voice to make it sound like it does on their CD. This wasn’t the case with Vienna: the stunning voice you hear on the CD is just as beautiful in concert.

I may be the only person in the world that does this but when I’m really looking forward to a concert a really weird thing happens. I think it’s the music touching me in a similar way watching the ocean or seeing a baby animal for the first time does, but while I feel the emotion of all of them, music alone makes me cry.

I’m barely even aware I’m doing it because it’s not an ugly, sobbing cry; it’s more a growing awareness that I have tears streaming down my face. While I’m usually all cried out by the end of the third song in most concerts, I cried for the entire first half of this one, as well as the final three or four songs. Pretty much whenever she played a song that I desperately wanted to see her play live. Yes, I’m a weirdo. I admit it.

I may have been somewhat dehydrated by the end but I had the most marvellous time. While there’s no way all of my favourite Vienna songs could have made it into the lineup (there are simply too many), almost every song she played was one of my favourites.

Meredith Peruzzi, the ASL interpreter you can see in the bottom right corner of my screenshots, did a brilliant job. She also seemed to be having a great time, looking like she was grooving along to the music.

The standout for me was Vienna’s new song. I’ve been hankering for some new Vienna music for years and it was incredible. I can’t do it justice by trying to explain it but I’ll give it a go anyway: she sang a song in two parts then layered the two into a single song. So it was like hearing three versions of the same song and the two parts being sung at once (technology helped here) shouldn’t have worked but it did. I really hope that when her next CD is released it includes all three versions of this song. It’s called We’ve Got You.

Vienna also did a cover of MILCK’s Somebody’s Beloved, which was one of the many songs I cried through.

Song of the Week: Level Up by Vienna Teng. I’d been listening to this song a lot in the week before the concert.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet – or as safe – as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980’s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed – violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumours. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.


An evil force pulses deep within Malpas Abbey, overflowing with maniacal glee …

Overlooking a dark hill, the gloomy Malpas Abbey has been avoided by locals for centuries. Its infamous history is marred with blood and terror. Only the foolish would dare enter such a place, where devilish hauntings have left a string of dead bodies in its wake.

Just as the building is about to be permanently closed, things take an unexpected turn. An American television crew shows up, hoping to investigate the source of the structure’s paranormal activity. Led by producer Matt McKay and paranormal expert Ted Gould, the hapless bunch enter the confines of the hellish residence only to discover that they are in way over their heads.

As the group tries to make sense of the strange occurrences, they soon realise that the cellar might be the key to unlocking the mystery. Inside lies a stone altar that emanates with the evil strength of the Devil himself, feeding upon the crew members’ worst nightmares. 

With the ominous cloud hanging over them, they realise that there’s much more at stake than a disruption in filming. The only hope for survival rests on Ted, Matt and his crew’s ability to find their way out of the darkness, before the house devours them, capturing all the gory details on camera …


NetGalley

A speedy squirrel and a sleepy sloth try to get the job done in this funny, heartwarming tale of two lovable, but unlikely, friends.

Though Sloth and Squirrel are good friends, they have different ways of doing things – and different speeds of doing them. So, when Squirrel gets them jobs as pickle packers to earn money for a new bike, things don’t go according to plan. It seems that the contrasting skill sets of a fast-as-lightening squirrel and a slow-as-molasses sloth can make for a mess of an outcome, and before long, the friends are shown the pickle factory’s door, along with the 677 1/2 jars of pickles they packed incorrectly! Now the pair are bicycle-less, with only pickles to show for themselves. Or so they think – until the resourceful pair come up with an ingenious plan!

This delightful story from Cathy Ballou Mealey is a celebration of friendships of all kinds and a testament to ingenuity and hard work. Packed with funny details that aren’t in the text, Kelly Collier’s engaging illustrations are full of personality and silly, emotionally expressive humour. Together they create a hilarious picture book that’s perfect for a fun and lively read-aloud. At the same time, the positive themes in the book highlight a growth mindset and character education lessons on teamwork, perseverance and initiative.

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