Growing Up: The Best Feeling of All

Today’s novel had TBYL Reviewer Narelle, tripping down memory lane…


The Best Feeling of All by Jack Ellis (Arcadia) tells the story of two girls, best friends Mols and Jaz, growing up in present day Sydney’s Northern Beaches…

the best feeling of allLife doesn’t happen, you make it.

Mols and Jaz can’t wait for life to begin. In the meantime, they’ll make sure they get their share of excitement and fun. When they’re not seeking out the next ecstatic thrill, they’re making big plans for the future while exploring the sand dunes, headlands and storm drains of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. They happily race along the ridge between possibility and reality until they slam into the shocks, heartaches and impossible choices of adulthood.

Much like real life adolescence, the story meanders through the girls’ lives, loves and friendships from age fourteen to twenty six.

The sense of both feeling and finding independence and a frustrating lack of control that mark this part of life run true throughout  the story. Friends are pivotal in the girls lives as they move from teenage parties and hookups, clubbing and drinking to adult life with jobs, babies and all the challenges these things bring.

The girls rescue of an abandoned puppy early in the story bonds them and becomes an anchor for their relationship. They are there for each other as they are also both forced into decisions that shape their family makeup and to deal with changes they’d never expected.

I found Ellis at his best depicting the girls friendships and the rush of discovered mutual attraction. While my own adolescence might have been a while ago now, I could relate to the intensity of feeling and freedom portrayed.

“Now, sitting by herself in a scruffy park in the middle of a work day, drinking beer and eating battered fish, made her feel as if she had somehow just re boarded a psychic train that she had climbed off sometime back then. She felt again the powerful sense of possibility that had permeated every thought when she and Jaz were still dreaming of the clear air of adulthood.
Quit my job – tick. “
Jack Ellis’ novel really did capture the best, and worst of the feelings so many of us associate with growing up.


You can find out more about Jack’s novel The Best Feeling of All here…

Melbourne Writers Festival 2013

It’s almost that time of year when I kiss the kids goodbye and abscond for days, all in the name of writing.

That’s right, August brings with it the Melbourne Writers Festival, Enquire Within running from 22 August to the 1 September 2013.

The release of this year’s program last night has made my day today and as I’ve just finished booking my tickets, I thought you might like to know which sessions I’m getting along to.

Here goes…

peter singerI’m going to kick off my festival experience with some philosophy, hearing Peter Singer speak on ‘Effective Altruism’ as part of the Big Ideas series.

Effective altruism is an emerging movement of people who have  accepted that we ought to live more altruistically, and make our altruism as powerful as possible.  Philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer will discuss the ethical issues that effective altruism raises, and introduce this developing concept by presenting the effective altruists themselves: who they are, how they live, and why they have chosen to live that way. 

As controversial as he might be, Peter Singer was always a bit of super star around the philosophy department of Monash when I was at uni, and so I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts.

I’m back to Federation Square on Saturday, changing gears to something a little more light-hearted, although I’m sure it’ll be no less controversial with the likes of Sean Condon, Max Barry and Catherine Deveny chatting about comedy in writing for ‘Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard.’

Fittingly it’ll be starting to get dark when I attend my second session for the day ‘Tartan Noir’ in which Andrew Nette, Doug Johnstone and Liam McIlvanney talk about crime literature in Scotland and whether or not books in this genre accurately reflect modern life in Scotland.

No doubt spooked, I’ll head home after this session and rest up before a bit Sunday.

I’ve booked in for three great session on Sunday, first up being ‘No Safe Place’ featuring Morris Gleitzman and Deborah Ellis.  Both of these authors write powerful books about children in danger and in this session they’ll explore writing about war, their research, and where they draw the line in showing children what the world can be like. Incredibly relevant, as I struggle with questions regarding books that my 12 year old should and shouldn’t be reading.

michelleAfter that, it’s straight on to hear an in-conversation session with the talented Michelle de Kretser, winner of this year’s Miles Franklin Award. Looking forward to finding out a little bit more about her incredibly successful novel.

To finish off Sunday, I’ll be heading to ‘Destroying the Joint?’ …

More than 28,000 self-proclaimed Destroyers have ‘liked’ Destroy the Joint – a Facebook page that ‘shines a light on sexism and misogyny.’ While social media may provide a platform for participative activism, social commentator Jane Caro, comedian Stella Young, and activist Aidan Ricketts join Sushi Das from The Age to ponder the question: how many likes does it take to change the world?

After this session, I’ll have to wait until the end of the week for my next outing. On Friday, 30 August, I’ll sneak off after dropping the kids at school and get a little bit political.

I’m really looking forward to the first session ‘New News: The News About News’ as I’m often quiet perplexed, concerned even, about what’s happening with media and journalism…

Is journalism in rotten shape, or better than ever? Is information still reliable? Will big media continue to dominate, or will citizens and startups step up? Eric Beecher (Private Media), Katharine Viner (Guardian Australia), Mark Forbes (The Age) and Pamela Williams (Australian Financial Review) take the media’s temperature with Margaret Simons (Centre for Advancing Journalism).

politics of sexI’ll follow this up with a session featuring Anna Krien, Shereen El Feki and Sophie Cunningham ‘The Politics of Sex’ as they discuss how the politics of sex provides a literary lens from which to view society.

The second Saturday of the Festival is exciting because it has quite a few free sessions, which I’ll stay around for in the afternoon, after I’ve gone along to a professional development seminar ‘The Art of Literary Criticism’. I’ve not been to one of the seminar sessions before (they cost a little more than a regular session) but I’m really looking forward to this one, I think I’ll learn a lot…

The London Review of Books publishes the biggest names in contemporary literature, ideas, society, and the arts. Editor Mary-Kay Wilmers, publisher Nicholas Spice and contributors Jeremy Harding and Jacqueline Rose take us inside the LRB, Europe’s leading literary magazine. Chaired by Sally Heath.

I think it’s fair to say that by the end of Saturday my brain will be well and truly full, and I’ll be able to go home and fall in a happy heap.

The Melbourne Writers Festival program is out now, and you MUST take a look! If you’re going to be attending, please feel free to connect with TBYL… I’ll be on Facebook and Twitter the whole time and no doubt loitering around Fed Square on and off, I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s to the countdown to August 22nd!


The Unfinished Journals Of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier Read-A-Long – Discussion Part 2

Part 2 of the current read-a-long of ‘The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D’ It’s a fascinating book and a fantastic conversation. Take a look, but be warned – there’s spoilers!

My Hundred Lovers – Discussion Part 3 and Wrap-Up

The final instalment of the three part read-along of ‘My Hundred Lovers’ I’ll be posting my review of this book later in the week, but have a look over the comments from other bloggers, it’s really interesting.

My Hundred Lovers Read-a-long Discussion Part 2

My Hundred Lovers Read-a-long – Discussion Post #1

I’m participating in this read-along, and it’s great so far!

Introducing the TBYL Bookshelf

Please excuse the shameless self-promotion…it’s just that I’m proud as punch, and overly excited!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it hard to know what to choose when I’m browsing for a book to buy. There’s so much to choose from, and picking a winner can be a real challenge.

If you’re like me, I’m hoping that the TBYL Bookshelf will be a big help to you!

The TBYL Bookshelf  is a place to find a choice selection of books, most of which have been reviewed on the blog (so you can get an idea of which book will suit you best). Any books that haven’t been reviewed on the blog have been read and recommended by TBYL, so you can trust that they are an entertaining read.

The collection is hand-picked, and I trust each title will bring you great enjoyment.

You’ll also find, new in the TBYL Store, the Kids’ Book Box where you’ll be able to pick up some gorgeous kids books. The selection will change often, and at the moment it contains three of my absolute favourites: Eric Carle’s The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Honey and Johnson’s I’m Still Awake, Still! and just in time for the new school year, Lauren Child’s I am Too Absolutely Small for School.

Finally, available for a limited time is the Back to School gift collection…This gift collection is a very special way to help to settle your nervous newbies as they prepare to start a new school year. Super-cute, and busting at the seams with imagination, I am Too Absolutely Too Small for School is a wonderful way to answer some of those niggling starting-school questions, the retro exercise books are quirky and fun, and the giraffe is just the cutest way to rule your margins!

I hope you’ll pop by and say hi…I’m sure you’ll find something lovely, just for you in the TBYL Store.


Guess what? Tomorrow is my birthday!! Guess what else? I’m doing a birthday give-away! Stay tuned for details of our next bookish competition, tomorrow on the blog.

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