Monday, December 31

2012 Year of Reading


While I didn't actively participate in the Year of Reading 2012 - I challenged myself to read at least one book a week this year.

My challenge was to choose a favourite type of genre which is usually chick lit by an English author and a book or a genre that I would not really choose myself. 

I usually buy about two or three books from St Vinnies at a time; 

I have also been extremely lucky to have a bookshop called Oscar and Friends in Double Bay. One of the managers recommends books for me to read -  and I am blessed to have such a warm relationship with the staff and management of Oscar and Friends - http://www.oscarandfriends.com.au/

The following books are the books I loved reading this year and they are the ones I reviewed on my Twitter - https://twitter.com/ebbye

The books below are the books which really impacted me this year.
I read about 30 or so more than the books I have listed. But these are the ones that stood out and I posted brief reviews on Twitter:

1. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - this was an absolutely beautiful book to read. After I read this; I discussed this book with my bookworm friend and we were both moved by the sheer compassion in this book. My friend told me that she was touched by this book, because it stirred so many memories in her. I found this book heartbreaking; because there is so much innocence in the characters. I highly recommended this - http://us.macmillan.com/memoirsofanimaginaryfriend/MatthewDicks 
 
2. Lawrence Anthony's book The Elephant Whisperer –  This was a sensational book to read. It gave me an insight into Lawrence Anthony's relationship with wild elephants and the work on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand. I learnt some sensational information about elephants and the bond that they formed with Lawrence and his wife. This book is a must read but be warned - it will make you cry! http://www.theelephantwhisperer.com/

3. Beautiful by Kate Piper - Katie's book is actually very difficult to read. without giving too much away; Katie has to face an immense struggle and this book is a very detailed account of her trauma and recovery. Throughout the book, you realise (well the reader) that Katie is incredibly strong and courageous. It is an immensely difficult story and an extremely graphic account of her experience but as you read this book - you end up liking Katie more and more. Katie has started a foundation for people suffering from Burns and Scars in the UK - read this book but be prepared to hold your hand over your mouth throughout.

4. Mindless Eating - this is fascinating. Did you know that there are food laboratories set up to test what, how and why we eat? Full of food facts and marketing information - this book will challenge your thoughts and beliefs about food and what makes us choose to eat. It also challenges the marketing behind food products and our food choices.

5. A Twitter Year  - 
 In 2011 - Kate Bussmann put together a review of top stories, events, news, facts and  Tweets. I loved this because I  love Twitter and found this is a great marketing book to decipher what was important to people on Twitter and why. Although it was written in 2011 - it's a fascinating book full of facts, tools, tips and things you probably don't know!

A friend of mine told me that they study John Barnes at uni because he is a sensational writer. After reading this book; I understand why. This book is short but his character descriptions are incredible. I have never got such an acute sense of character while reading and by the end of this I felt for Tony, for his sadness and for the path he chose for his life. I actually found this book incredibly sad and think I will read this again!

7. Hereafter – Tara Hudson – I took this book with me while travelling this year and I couldn't put this down. It's YA fiction about death (basically) and there is a lot of darkness in this book. Although it is a love story, I loved this book. It was chilling and intriguing and quite unusual. This book had some terrible reviews - but frankly I really liked it!

8. Annie Choi's book Happy Birthday or Whatever - Annie Choi is funny. I love her writing style and this book was a memoir about growing up with her Korean family while being exposed to a completely contrasting American culture. This book was charming. She writes with such wit and an accurate look into her culture and it was so wonderful to read a memoir that was laugh out loud funny (for a change!)

9. Dawn French's A Tiny Bit Marvellous - it may be because I absolutely love Dawn French so I found this book to be a lot like her; warm, funny and witty. Yet reading carefully about each character gave you an insight into their flaws and desires. It was a very light read, but her characters are spot on and her humour is perfect!
 
10. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama - I love books like this! Set in South India; this book is all about a bored middle-aged man who sets up a matchmaking business inside his home. It combines everything; different religions, the Indian culture, love, marriage and Mr Ali's insight into what makes people tick. This is Farahad Zama's first book and I cannot wait to see what he writes next - I dream of writing in this way - it seems to be light and fluffy but you are learning so much as you read!

11. Brixton Beach - This book delved into the history of Sri Lanka and Alice's journey to London. While Roma's novel is fiction she fled Sri Lanka at the age of ten, travelling to Britain where she has spent most of her life. This book is a fascinating look into her personal history as well as experiences of her former country.

12. Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia – I found this book, or rather book of true and unusual stories rather unusual. while this is not normally the type of book I tend to read; this book was quite funny and odd simultaneously.

13. Lunch In Paris - a love story with recipes - Elizabeth Bard - Complete with recipes and combining a love story - this book is for anyone who loves to cook and for anyone who is curious about Parisian culture.

14. Before The Storm by Diane Chamberlain  -  This book reminded me of Jodi Picoult's writing or We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It's about Andy a boy who has FAD, his relationship with his mother, and a night in a Church. It's a fascinating piece of fiction which tests the readers because we tend to make assumptions and this book was surprisingly well-written.

15. The Midwife's Confession - Diane Chamberlain. I loved this book. It's based on a character Noelle and is full of secrets and plot twists! I read this in one sitting. I think Diane is very good at writing characters and helping the reader realise the depth of a character.

16. 100 things - This was so fantastic I ended up emailing the author Sebastien Terry (who responded straight away!) and including myself as a helper on the website he set up - http://100things.com.au/
I liked Sebastien; he wrote with such honesty about his life and a struggle he had as well as why he wrote a list of things he wanted to do in the first place. I found him to be very approachable and likeable and I was inspired to write a little list myself!

17. Wonder-RJ Palacio  - Wonder was aimed at 9-11 year old facing the school system. They also face other issues such as popularity and bullying. While this book is aimed at really young kids; I found that this book covered a really simple premise - Choose Kindness.
This book blew me away - it focuses on such a simple thing; Who are you? And what kind of person are you? I absolutely loved Jack's character and his journey in this book (and I would love to write something this well!) This book inspired at anti-bullying campaign in schools - http://rjpalacio.com/ and I would suggest that everyone reads this book!


18. Band-Aid for a Broken Leg- Damien Brown - This was a fantastic book. Damien Brown wrote about his journey with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Africa. It gave me an insight into a world I have never seen myself and into people who struggle on a daily basis. This was Damien's first posting away from home and the reality was that it was very difficult. I wish I could have been there - it's full of stories about the people he met but it became a journey about the kind of person he was, a journey about all the assumptions he made along the way and the discovery of the person he wanted to become. Read this book, now!

19. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - As soon as I saw the bizarre images; I knew that I would love this fantasy novel. It's an utterly strange and compelling read. It was completely original, delved into fantasy and sci-fi and although it was written for young adults; I found that using quirky and highly improbable interlinking stories made this a must read on a very dark and rainy night! It will completely creep you out!

20. Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. An amazing look into the history of the museum, the story of Marie, & the French Revolution. there was so much about this period of history and about this woman I didn't know and this book was a highly enjoyable read.


21. The Lost Girls - 3 friends, four continents and their separate accounts of their trip around the world. Holly, Amanda, and Jen are very passionate about finding themselves and this travel memoir is really all about their journey. They seem like 3 very sweet, passionate, grab the world with both arms sort of girls and I loved their style and energy.

22. Saving Private Sarbi is about a cross lab/Newfoundland who got lost and found in Afghanistan. In Dogs We Trust is the unofficial motto in the Explosive Detection Dog Section If you love dogs - this is a fantastic book for you.

23. Jack The Ripper, was he really a woman? In this book John Morris analyses whether in fact Jack the Ripper was a woman and attempts to prove it via records, witness accounts etc. I was not sure what to believe but the evidence and analysis in the book was utterly compelling and quite convincing!

24. How To Make a Camel Smoothie - I absolutely adore pop science and pop maths books. This is a quirky collection of short, slightly weird mathematical facts, figures and calculations (review by an Amazon reviewer).

25. The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket - I actually felt very sorry for Barnaby Brocket because he was born into such an ordinary family. A younger person would read this book as a whimsical fantasy sort of book; but I as an adult read into it about being different, having to confirm and then deciding to just be yourself. It is very nicely written with fantastic illustrations by Oliver Jeffers.

26. Anna Fienberg's Escape - I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Fienberg this year and I liked her instantly. This is her first novel for adults and I felt that I really understood the characters in this book. It looks very deeply into two aspects, escape by using magic and the desire to escape from life. While I found this book extremely sad - I loved her writing.

27. Call The Midwife - a true story about a 22 year old midwife in the East end of London in the 1950's. It was fascinating to learn about 1950s London and the very intimate role a midwife played within family dynamics. what really struck me is how much times have changed. There were also references to the best children's hospital in the world - Great Ormond Street Hospital. If you're interested in the history of London and the roles woman played - this book is fantastic.

28. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - Would wow, just wow suffice as a review?
John Green said on Tumblr that he wanted the reader "to feel all of the things". I think this book made me think. I have never had cancer; I have no idea what it is to be a teenager and have cancer and have to fight through all the incessant so called having to be brave about having cancer. Hazel was wonderfully searingly honest and John green poses a lot of questions to readers about dying, living and looking at yourself!

I also updated my Shelfari and GoodReads  accounts and received some ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) from this incredible site - http://www.thereadingroom.com

What were your favourite books this year?

 I'd love to hear and I'd love any recommendations.

Contact me using the comment box below or via Twitter or ebbyeryan@gmail.com

Just one of my many piles of books

Thursday, November 8

November?!

I love Modern Family and Phil's book of his collected 'wisdom' is hysterical - it's his
hard bound collection of all the life lessons he's learned.

For more : http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/phil%27s-osophy
For the gallery - http://ten.com.au/tvshows/modernfamily-phils-osophy-gallery.htm


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* When life gives you lemons.make lemonade. Then life will be all like "What?!?!"

* You can tell a lot about a person from his biography.


* Success is 1% Inspiration, 98% Perspiration and 2% attention to detail.


* Marry someone who looks sexy while disappointed.
 
* Always look people in the eye, even if they're blind. Just say, "I'm looking you in the eye."

* If you love something set it free. Unless it's a tiger.

* If you get pulled over for speeding, tell the policeman your spouse has diarrhea.


* You only get one chance at a first impression. I suggest Julia Child because it’s easy to do.


* The most amazing things that can happen to a human being will happen to you if you just lower your expectations.


* Dance until your feet hurt. Sing until your lungs hurt. Act until you’re William Hurt.

* Take a lesson from parakeets: If you’re ever feeling lonely, eat in a front of a mirror.


* Never be afraid to reach for the stars because even if you fall, you’ll always be wearing a Parentchute™.

* Older black ladies make the best iced tea.


* Watch a sunrise at least once a day.


* If you’re ever in a jam, a crayon scrunched up under your nose makes a good pretend mustache.

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I've been busy of late, watching TV programmes, reading and studying - I'm studying a Certificate of Social Media and a Diploma of Social Media Marketing so I can train more clients and improve my skills.

My blogging has slowed down to a trickle, I'm too busy pinning pins on Pinterest, sending Tweets on Twitter, posting Facebook updates, finding content, creating content and preparing social media training for clients.

This episode was wonderful - it really cheered me up! I think I'll make up some collected 'wisdom' of my own.

Thursday, June 14

It's All Supernatural

Ok ... I haven't posted since February.

I've been too busy pinning on Pinterest, blogging monthly on my work blog, training away, coming up with tips, tools and resources and thinking about the Supernatural.

It's everywhere! Books, movies and TV programmes especially. I've been watching Grimm and been creeped out by fairytales which come to life in this rather easy viewing series. 

My fascination with the other worlds started with reading fairytales as a child and later learning that most of the fairytales were supposedly based on truth. During the times of the Grimm Brothers there was darkness, forests, woods, danger and people did not venture outdoors after dark.

The Grimm Brothers history is incredible, they travelled to villages to meet people to hear and record their stories.They were professors and scholars and worked to record the stories. And we are lucky that people like the Grimm Brothers had the foresight to listen and help us remember!

It has been said that some or most of the fairytales served as a warning, for girls to stay tucked inside and warm at home and even warnings about men or fathers to keep women safe. Perhaps just warnings about what could happen to you after dark and perhaps what you could encounter in the woods. It seems like everyone was surrounded by forests and trees in those days. I get creeped out just thinking about what it must have been like then.

There is a darker side to fairytales and there are thousands of books, movies, adverts, programmes and the like which bring this premise to life. I loved this book review by Ammy Belle and the comments in this article which explores the origins of fairytales.

Now with Once Upon A Time just out in Australian TV; it begs the premise - are fairytales real? Or are they incredibly powerful stories because they tap into our consciousness, heighten our imaginations and make us question the known vs the unknown? And what is the fascination with angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, fairies, fairytales, goblins ... and so on?

Are we letting our horrible imaginations roam freely? ("Where there is no imagination, there is no horror," wrote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Today there is a new universe in which our imaginations can roam: and it's horrible.)

Since I began to read; I have been surrounded by books about magic, werewolves and of course vampires. I have devoured books about good vs evil and I have been captivated by the idea of choosing and overcoming any battle along the way. These haven't all been fictitious books; I have read biographies and memoirs about people who had to battle very real demons and had to make very difficult choices. These memoirs have inspired me and taught me lessons I may have had no other way of learning.

In each fictitious book; it is incredible how much the main characters differ; some glow, some can freely walk around in the daytime, some are vegetarians!, some can change at will, some have no free will - what amazes me about stories is that they evolve and develop.
Here is a list of Supernatural books to read by goodreads.com - if you're curious about this genre.

I love reading and learning about the other world; the supernatural elements and books on fairytales. I don't believe in demons and I don't think that fairytales are in fact real but I do like to believe that there could be a once upon a time and a happy ever after because maybe, hopefully, in the end; good will defeat evil.

via http://colorfully.eu/some-day-you-will-be-old-enough-to-start-reading-fairy-tales-again/#!prettyPhoto-2447/0/

Friday, February 24

*Confession

I've become addicted to Pinterest.com - http://pinterest.com/ebbye/

I keep claiming that it's for work purposes, but I like the fact that I *don't have to check links and content when I just want to have a quick look at something - so I am loving how visual this site is and how it distracts me yet inspires me simultaneously.

*However if you are using Pinterest for business or even as an individual; you're clicking images to find original sources and just like on every other social media platform, you HAVE to check links and bios before using the images yourself. Certainly adjust/edit links which do not click to the original source AND try to use images that have cited the original sources rather than using images that just click to nowhere or anywhere else but. (Just a little tip :) )

It's nearly March and in the past year or so; I've barely blogged. In between trying to find clients and work contracts and trying to keep up with the amount of books i have on my to read list - every time I think of blogging I need to work or find content or read something/check something!

A few years ago; I was constantly searching for employment and had a lot of time to spend. I read a lot more books then I am reading now but funnily enough I am healthier and happier than I have been in a long time.

I love my work; while it can be challenging, it's invigorating and quite wonderful to have to connect, engage, join, share, write, answer and learn as a daily part of my work load.

I've become part of a book club and we're on our third book (More to come on that another time) and I am reading How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely and it's funny, witty, sharp and well you can read the review here: www.blackincbooks.com/books/how-i-became-famous-novelist

I'd love to blog more, I'd love to read more but I did get one wish; I have found a career that I love. I do have many many goals I would actually like to aim for this year; I have become hard working in one area and a procrastinator in others.

How do you balance it all?

*It's not really a confession!

Tuesday, January 31

Onwards ...

I've set up a few goals for this year so 2012 is going to be a year of new challenges for me.


They're little things, little steps, like improving my health, actually exercising this year, accepting myself, breaking some habits, finding new things to do and learn while focusing on all the things I love.


I'm training, teaching, researching and learning and working almost a full time week over the next month or so, so I am looking forward to what work brings this year.


I also am going to find something I would love to study and teach myself something new - like Spanish. or boxing or sailing or graphic design or nutrition something ...


This is going to be my goal this year! It's my lucky year - the Year of the Dragon so there are going to be some challenges and changes ahead!


Wednesday, December 21

The fastest year ever!

2011 has just whipped by!

I keep thinking that I should still be in February attending to my new year's resolutions which were to eat healthier and exercise more.

I have read hmmm lets' see over 250 books this year (mostly chick lit, memoirs and anything strange/interesting I find in St Vinnies) - my favourite businessy book of this year is  I'm Feeling Lucky The Confessions of Employee Number 59 which is a  funny, insightful and totally unexpected look into Google - it is the most incredible read. I am currently reading a Christmassy book and a love story about a bookshop owner - both semi-light reads. One of these days I will make a list of all the books I have read - it should be interesting looking back!

I have watched hundreds of B grade movies - mainly for entertainment value and because I take everything so literally it is so nice to switch off sometimes.

I adore and have enjoyed every episode of Modern Family , but have also loved True Blood, Dexter, Unforgettable, Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Mildred Pierce, Frozen Planet and Happy Endings - it's one of the joys of having Foxtel, recording and watching later.

My favourite movie this year was My Name Is Khan, if you have not seen this yet, it's amazing. I was blown away by the lead actor who has Asperger's Syndrome in the movie, it combines Muslims and Christianity, good vs evil, finding love and ultimately it's a tear jerker.

I have had the most incredible year business wise, training, gaining new clients - even building up fans and followers! I've taught people the how, what, when, where and why of social media and have learnt an incredible amount.

Apart from following the news, reading everything I could get my hands on, meeting people, talking too much, learning and training away - I have also trying to make my own small difference in the world. (I tried to focus on one random act of kindness a day and ended up learning a lot about people!)

I have goals and resolutions in place for 2012 (I'll keep the business ones but have to focus on actually keeping the personal ones too) and a plan to travel to somewhere I have always wanted to go to in 2013.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday and a happy new year!



Sunday, October 16

Dying for Food

Food is available to me. 

Readily. I can pick up the phone and order for delivery. I can access the Internet and order online. I can pop into one of the hundreds of convenience stores in my area alone and pick up snacks, like chocolate, biscuits and lollies.

I shop for groceries at least once a week. And I usually buy way too much. And as soon as something expires, I throw it away. I waste. I don't finish my meals at restaurants, they are far too big. I throw out anything I can't give to someone and I donate tins of food to the hungry. ( when I was younger, now I donate to the WFP and other funds helping Africa online)

I have no understanding of the words I'm starving. We (the lucky ones) use that term when were hungry. And I often look into the fridge and find nothing that I wish to eat at that moment.

When I was young and living in South Africa, I had hot and cold clean running water AND electricity AND a roof over my head AND access to medicine. I had plenty of food, my childhood memories are of favourite meals and treats.

I have never experienced a single day without a meal - unless it was my choice. I have never woken up hungry, never gone to sleep hungry and never walked (or crawled, or swam or endangered my life) for kilometres in search of food.

I have never sucked on a seed to try and satiate a starving child or gone without a spoonful of porridge or rice, so someone else can be less hungry, less malnourished, less likely to die within the next day or so.

The WFP is providing nuritional food products which don't always have to be mixed with water, because the access to clean water fit for drinking is limited in some parts of Africa and in other countries all over the world. There are millions of people in conflict, experiencing war, prevented by terrorists/war lords/ misgoverned governments or poverty - to have access to two things which are our basic rights, food and water.

The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal)  per person per day (FAO 2002, p.9).  The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.  

Africa is still paying a world debt. Often people who need the resources, who need to help their dying families, communities and cattle cannot access the food needed to keep them alive. Not satiated, just simply alive. I have read stories of people who walked for 25 days to get aid. I have seen pictures of children crawling, dying just to get help.

Today is World Food Day (16th October) The FAO (whose headquarters are in Rome) have a motto “fiat panis” (let there be bread. Today is Blog Action Day with the topic of food to raise awareness of our universal relationship with food. To those without, to those who struggle with food choices, to those who eat too much or too little.

This post is in honour of all those who are dying for food. While I, the lucky one, have an abundance of food choices and access to food 24/7. I know that there are millions of people who have never had a pizza delivered to their home. Or have not been able to afford a chocolate bar. And this is to those people who have never seen a supermarket, convenience store, farmers market and would probably be stunned by so much abundance and choice.

I can, will and do donate. I want my funds to help educate, provide water and food to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage a happy, healthy future for people who lose everything, risk everything on a constant basis while I am the lucky one.

This video was taken in 2008 of footage of starving and dying children in Africa. I hope that WFP and their nutritional products and our donations from afar will help children to live.