Friday, September 30, 2011

September Book Buys!

As a lot of you know, I have a large collection of books - over 1,000 actually.  I'm also trying not to add to that collection until I read some of the books I've already accumulated.  So, this month, I've made myself proud and not bought a single book!  Yes, I've walked into a bookstore and perused the shelves, thinking of purchasing a book to read; however, I haven't pulled out the cash to do so.  Isn't that great?
I have been reading up a storm with The Spring Challenge on Good Reads that I've taken part in; and I've read four books during that time.  The first two I had already begun; and I finished them within the first fortnight of September.  And then, I meandered between a couple of other books and tried to read 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley for a third time - which I do believe will be my last attempt - and then I opened up 'The Book of Tomorrow' by Cecelia Ahern and dove in.  I've been reading that one and 'Metamorphosis: Stages in a Life' by David Suzuki over the last fortnight with great success.
So, instead of buying books this month, I've been reading a fair bit; and this is good.  I'm enjoying the lovely warm - and sometimes not so warm - Spring weather Brisbane has been getting lately and look forward to the next few weeks of it as Spring brings with it another four weeks of blooms and pollen and warmer weather.  Until next month, happy reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Passing of Sara Douglass

There is sad news in the world of literature today as I have heard of the passing away of the great Australian sci-fi Fantasy author Sara Douglass.  She died this morning at 5am from Ovarian Cancer aged 54, after being diagnosed with in 2008.
Born Sara Warneke she and her family lived in Penola, South Australia with her parents raising sheep on a farm.  She hated leaving the farm to go to school; and eventually to Adelaide.  They moved to a decaying old Bluestone Victorian house in Malvern - a southern suburb - until she was packed off to Methodist Ladies College; which was a gentle, caring place, totally oblivious to the revolutions of the 'sixties.
She took up the family tradition of being a nurse for many years; and loathed it.  After 17 years of being a registered nurse, she traveled to Europe and loved it!  Then, returned to Australia and went to study a BA at the University of Adelaide.  This BA changed her life completely.  After she finished this, she did a PhD in early moderns (16th Century) English History and completed it in 1991.  In 1992, she gave up nursing completely and took up a position as lecturer in medieval history in La Trobe University, Bendigo, which is in central Victoria, Australia. This job was the most stressful she have ever held.
So in an effort to find a way out of that job Sara began writing again, seriously (very seriously, this was the only thing she could think of to save her), wrote several really awful novels, a couple of not bad ones, and then one day, sat down to begin BattleAxe.
Since then, as of early 2005, Sara have written 15 novels. Sara moved from Bendigo in Victoria to the house of Nonsuch in Cornelian Bay in Tasmania. She discovered a passion or gardening and cats.

The Impossible Reads

Over the years, I've read some fantastic books; and I've read some horrible ones too.  However, there have been books that have really been unreadable.  I have wondered how these authors actually get themselves published - and keep on making enough money to be published again and again.  Now, I don't put down a book all that often, but when I do, it's for a really good reason.
This year, I have put down two books.  Out of eighteen books that's pretty good.  And now, I'm about to put down my third book; and it's a big one.  It's 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  Now, I've had this book on my shelves for a very long time - years actually - and I've made three attempts at reading it; and failed each time before reaching chapter twelve.  So, is it me?  Is it my attention span shortening?  Have I found better things to read other than sci-fi fantasy?  No.  It's just this book is huge and it's one of the most vague and difficult to get into - and I read over twenty pages on the weekend and when I put the bookmark back in, it didn't even look like I read any thing!
There's been another post on The New Dork Review of Books
and he has written down the most ban-able books according to him.  I think 'The Mists of Avalon' should be included; along with 'Baudolino' by Umberto Eco and 'Tipping the Velvet' by Sara Waters.  Now the last one has had rave reviews; it may have been me having problems focusing.  However, I found that once the story moved to London, it slowed right down.  I have also found 'Enchanting April' a dreadful read too; as that also slowed down to a very pensive speed just when I thought it was going to get interesting.
So what's done it for you?  What made you put down a book?  Was it how slow it was?  Focusing problems (as it can strike even the most avid reader from time to time) or was that book just bloody horrible?  Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Currently Reading

I know I have what I'm currently on the side bar; however sometimes my interests wonder off in different directions; causing me to chop and change which books I'm reading over time and then come back the others I've written down previously.  The books I've been reading lately are:

'Star-Begotten' by H.G Wells.  This is a the first UK Publication of this book; with the stamp inside from a flea market to prove it; and it's a second edition.  I have been trying to keep my interest in this book; however it's waning as I go along as it's turned from interestingly charming to a dull narrative about a man and his life.  I'm up to page 36 and am very tempted to put it down;  and I may yet do so soon if it doesn't pick up soon.
'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley is one very thick book I've been attempting to read for a third time now; and with the other two bookmarks still in it, it's a little wonder I haven't just tossed this one on the the Available pile for Bookcrossing and thought: 'why bother?'.  Well, for one thing, it's an Arthurian Legend book; and it's about the women who influenced King Arthur, and not really the other things that people have written about him.  So, that's why I keep going back to this book.  I'm up to page 55; and intend to keep going.  I want to know why people say it's one of the best books they've read.

'The Book of Tomorrow' by Cecilia Ahern is a book I don't know anything about.  It was bought as an impulse buy a few months back at The Book Warehouse at Springwood for around $7.00 and it's written from a teenager's point of view.  It's a light, chick-lit book; and ideal for me to read just before bed.  So, I'm hoping to pick at it over time and finish it.  I'm up to page 27.
The David Suzuki book is still up to the same page as I was before; being a non-fiction book, I always find it hard to read them.  And so, his book will take time to finish.  this is why I've picked up other fictional novels to read as I'm reading 'Metamorphosis: Stages in a Life'.  I'm almost halfway through it; which is good going for me.

So, which books are you reading; and where are you up to in them?  Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book Bloggers vs Newspaper Critics

I don't know if it's just me, but I've been looking around the blogs lately and reading more and more on books and authors here on the net than I would in newspapers.  However, I do collect a monthly magazine - 'Good Reading' Magazine - which is invaluable and chock full of information on authors and books as well as competitions and events.  This magazine is also online for those who don't wish to purchase the RL magazine.  However, I'd rather hunt down my copy each month so I can sit anywhere and read it at my leisure and enjoy it.
I have found that my blog roll on this book blog has begun to become longer recently; as I have gotten rid of those blogs that have become inactive, or have shut down for one reason or another.  However, finding those new blogs hasn't been all that hard.  In fact, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.  There are so many book review blogs out there talking about this very subject, it's just a matter of making sure I pick the right one to suit my audience - and me as well - and to let the managers of that blog know I've added them on, because it's really free advertising for them; and that's very cool.
But allow me to get back to the subject I'm hoping to talk about, and that's the difference between a blog review and a newspaper book critic.  Now, I do glance at the newspaper critic - and I have a certain respect for them as they get paid for their opinion in what's great to read and what's not.  However, I find that for a completely honest, no holds barred opinion - and yes, nobody being paid to hype up the book you're reading - a blog is always the way to go.  Even if you're a newspaper critic and you don't like the book, there are times you must see both sides of the equation to make it sell.  But with blogging, if you don't like the book you've read - or tried to read - you just plainly say you don't like it and explain why.  
So, now you know which one I read the most - and value the opinion of, no matter if you are paid or not - which type of review do you go for first?  Is it the newspaper review (whether that's online or not, it doesn't matter) or the bloggers who review books for nothing and the sheer joy of it?  Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Stephen King

Today, it's the King of Horror's birthday.  Yes, this man has been scaring the crap out of all of us faithful followers for a good part of our lives for a long time now; and I don't think he intends to stop.  
I've been a big fan of his - as you all know - for a long time.  And last year's post on his birthday, you'll see how much I do enjoy his work ( and I did find a great photo for that post too!).  Even though I have only read 'Blockade Billy' recently, I'm looking forward to reading more of his work soon.
So, Happy Birthday, Mr King.  I hope you have a great day and keep us entertained - in one way or another - for years to come!

SK's Birthday Post from 2010

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oooh! Old Sci-Fi to Read!

I love receiving books - any books - from relatives and today I received a phone call from Mum who bought some books at a club she attends last night for next to nothing.  I'm thrilled to find she picked up books that I've been looking at to read lately; and wanting to read as well.
The Pilgrimage' by Paulo Coelho was one book I've wanted to read for a while; and now I own it, I can delve into its pages like I did 'The Alchemist' and enjoy his poetic writings.  Then, there's 'Star-Begotten' by H.G. Wells.  This is one book I haven't heard much about, however, I have read 'War of the Worlds' and loved it; and did wish to read more of his works.  I do look forward to reading this one as well.
There are titles and authors I haven't heard of, however, such as 'The Martian Inca' by Ian Watson, 'The Exile Waiting' by Vonda N. McIntyre, 'The Pastel City' by M. John Harrison and 'Shockwave Rider' by John Brunner.  And even though these authors are unfamiliar, I will read them to see how they write; and find out if they have any other works out there I can read and review for you all.  
There is another sci-fi book in the pile I received.  It's a very modern 'X-Files' book and I do look forward to looking into it.  A lot of these books are normally taken from the shows or they're stories about how the shows were written; so it should be a good book to have a look at.  Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Blow for the Small Bookstores

It's just dreadful when a small bookstore - somebody's life dream - is closed down due to the owners unable to keep up with everything coming onto the market.  This is what happened to the owner of 'The Book Nook' in Cambridge, UK, whose dreams of owning her bookstore were shattered recently when she had to throw out all the books she couldn't give away.  Read the article below feel the pain.

The Book Nook in Cambridge Closes Down 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


During my life, I have had books that have come and gone as I've moved; and believe me, I haven't moved all that often.  My brother - Gabe - has moved more than I have and he has really streamlined his book collection to the books that he absolutely needs.  
However, with each move I've made, there have been books that have been a constant in my collection; ones I just can't toss out or live without.  And here's the list of them in no particular order:
'LOTR' by JRR Tolkien 
'The Stand' by Stephen King
'The Dead Zone' by Stephen King
'Christen' by Stephen King
'The Five People You Meet In Heaven' by Mitch Albom
'House on the Hill' by Estelle Pinney
'Magician' by Raymond E Fiest
'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Trilogy in Four Parts' by Douglas Adams
'The Human Animal' by Desmond Morris
I know my list isn't very long, however, some of these have been in my collection for a very long time.  I've had the LOTR (this one is one volume from 1978 which I found at The Book Barn in Mullumbimby, NSW years ago) for about seventeen years now.  I've loved 'The Stand', 'Christine' and 'The Dead Zone' since high school and 'The Human Animal' has been in my collection since I was around twenty years old (it was a Christmas gift from Mum and Dad).  
Some of my children's books are still in my collection today; as Mum kept them for me in storage.  Some of those titles are:
'The BFG' by Roald Dahl
'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' by Roald Dahl
'More About Amelia Jane' by Enid Blyton
'Blinky Billy' by Dorothy Wall
'The Secret Garden'
'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' by C.S. Lewis
'Brer Rabbit Again' by Enid Blyton
'The Mystery of the Tolling Bell' by Carolyn Keene
So, how many of your favourites have stayed in your collection - either from your childhood or your recent past? - or have you renewed all of your books in your collection completely so you have new books to read all the time; year after year?  I do enjoy having my older books around, but I do enjoy reading new ones as well.  Until my next post, happy reading.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mt To Be Read? Or Mt Everest?

When I began this blog, I was only interested letting you into what I enjoyed reading from my past, what I wanted to read in the next year and what I was hoping to read in the next decade or so.  However, it turned into something else.  This little blog turned into a world wide venture of books, authors websites, events and finding out about people I never dreamed I'd read; well not in my lifetime anyway.
This also made me build a very extensive library of books in my home office - as you know - and I enjoy picking and choosing from those books each year what I read.  The best thing is that I don't read the same book twice in a year; and so each year when you all peruse this list, it's never the same.  
However, I've noticed that my reading pile has become somewhat large and has turned into a mountain; well more than that.  It's looking more like a mountain range from India; one of them is.  Yes, I had two Mt To Be Read's.  There's the customary one by the door of the office where I slot in the books I hope to read from year to year.  Then, there's the massive Mt Everest of books I have piled up on top of the sad-looking bookcase next to the wardrobe.
The Mt Everest of books have had to be remodeled a few times to lay down on their sides - double-parked and up against the wall - so they don't fall down.  It does cause me a little worry about the book case itself as it's not the most stable one I own; however, it's now the heaviest one with so many books I've lost count of how many are actually on there.  But I do know that the books on the far left side at the front are the ones I have read in the last year and half; whereas the rest of them are the ones I have ready for me to read. 
It's amazing how fast these two Mount To Be Read's have accumulated over such a short amount of time.  And yet, I don't think I noticed them until now; well, okay, not until one of my friends walked in and announced how tall and solid it looked since the last time he was here to look for something to read (as he's one of my regular borrowers of my library).  It was then I really looked at the piles and realised they had grown over the last year and I had Mt Everest and not a Mt To Be Read in my office.
So, when did you notice your little reading pile had turned into a mountain?  Or has it always been a mountain and it's just become a mountain range; taking over a room(s) and parts of the house?  Did you notice it by yourself, or did it take somebody pointing it out - like it was for me? Until my next post, happy reading.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres

Going by the name Red Dog, this lovely Kelpi captured the hearts of anyone he met in the late 1970's while he lived in Dampier, Mt Tom Price and around Western Australia.  The stories which were gathered about this famous dog are true, brilliantly told and hilariously funny; and yet will touch your heart as you are taken along the life of Red Dog.  Even though he never says a single word during this book - and his human friends do all his talking for him - this account of this wonderful dog's life also gives you glimpse of the true Australian outback; its glaring heat, the desert and how truly hot and dreadful it can be.

Being an Australian, I can really connect with the characters of this book; especially seeing I've owned a dog as well.  However, my family never owned a dog quite like Red Dog.  This dog was most certainly a one of a kind.  Now, I think all us dog-owners can relate to the fart-in-the-car experience from our dogs, or the looks they give us when they're trying to tell us they didn't do anything wrong (when the exact opposite is the truth).  However, Red Dog was truly a friend to all in the vastness that is Western Australia; nobody truly owned him, he owned the land and its people.  He enjoyed life completely and - like they say - Red Dog enjoyed a dog's life.

Louis de Bernieres was born in London in 1954. After graduating in Philosophy from the Victoria University of Manchester, he took a postgraduate certificate in Education at Leicester Polytechnic and passed his MA, with distinction, at the University of London.
De Bernières’ first novel, The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts, was published in 1990 and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best First Book Eurasia Region in 1991.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway

Santiago is going out fishing.  He does this every day; however for the last eighty or so days, he hasn't caught anything.  This has labeled him as unlucky; and the boy he usually takes with him isn't allowed to go out onto the sea anymore.  Today, he lets the boy help him with the gaff, sail, ropes and bait before he watches him go with another fisherman.  Santiago wishes he had the help as he's an old man and wants to catch a good fish to show he's not unlucky and it's not time to retire.  So, today, he goes out further than the other boats - out where the water turns a darker hue and the land can barely be seen - before he casts his lines and waits.  
Before long, one of his lines goes and a fight begins for Santiago; this is between him and a fish - a Marlin, the biggest he's ever seen - to see who will survive.  But being such an old man, will he die before the Marlin tires out and he can take it into shore?

Hemmingway has written a brilliant book in fantastic detail about fishing for that one big fish - that whale so to say - which can make or break you.  Santiago's struggle with his catch is ongoing; and you struggled along with him as you read this simply written book.  The description in it is just gorgeous and I loved how the smallest thing was placed in just right and taken out just as delicately; as though it was a passing wind.
I own a second edition of this book; and so it has the most beautiful illustrations every three pages by two different artists.  In the front it stated that the publishers couldn't decide whose art was the best to put in, so they used both as the artwork depicted the storyline the best.  I loved how beautifully etched the drawings were and found that they really did pull the story along well.

Ernest Hemingway was born on 21st July 1899 in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He was one of six children. His father, Dr Clarence Edmonds Hemingway was a fervent member of the First Congregational church, his mother, Grace Hall, sang in the church choir. At the age of 17 Hemingway published his first literary work. 
He died aged 61, of self inflicted gun shot wounds. He was the greatest of writers.  There is a lot more to know of Hemmingway on his official site; this little bit was just the summary from the site.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spring Readathon

I've decided to take part in a challenge this month.  Seeing it's Spring here in Australia - and a bit of a damp one at that - I was invited on Good Reads Spring Reading Challenge.  We have to get in and read as many books as we can this month; and seeing I began reading some great books in the last week, and I'm halfway through them, I'm hoping to read more than my usual quota of books in a month than I usually do.
So far, I'm halfway through two books.  The first being 'Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemmingway.  It's a second edition and I bought it at The Book Barn in Mullumbimby in New South Wales a couple of years ago for $14; and only just picked it up this year.  The story is fantastic, and I think everyone should read this story of a man, the ocean and endurance.
My next read is something I'm getting a good giggle out of; it's 'Red Dog' by Louis de Bernieres.  And it's a great story of a dog - of course - which has been recently made into a brilliant film.  I saw the film first and it differs greatly from the book; but is full of just as many laughs; if not more!
I'm still reading 'Owls Do Cry' by Janet Frame.  However, I'm finding it difficult to get my head into it for long periods of time; as it deals with part of her real life and people with Epilepsy in it (something that touches close to home with me).  So, I still have that one by my bed to read when I can push myself.
Once I finish the first two books for the Spring Reading Challenge, I'll do their reviews.  I've been going well with my reading this year; seeing I've had other projects on my plate that I'm working on just as much.  Until my next post, happy reading!