Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Summer Reading Challenge

Okay, I took on the Spring Reading Challenge on Good Reads and only managed to knock over four books.  So, when I was invited to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, I was taken by surprise; and began to look at the books I wanted to read over the Christmas/NYE break - as well as the ones I wanted to read right through February.  
Seeing I'm sticking around Brisbane - and my home - I'm hoping to get in more reading time and so I'll have more of choice to read as I'll have my collection at my fingertips.  Right now, I've got my nose well in truly into '11-22-63' by Stephen King; which will take me into the Summer Reading Challenge.  I'm reading about 30 pages a day; some in the afternoon and some in the evening before I turn out the light at night.  I'm just over 200 pages into it and it's kicking along really well; I'm enjoying it completely.
So, what books are you hoping to read this Christmas/NYE?  And where are you going to be at this time of the year while you've got your nose in your favourite reads?  Have you themed your books for the Silly Season, or are you just reading anything you can grab off the shelf?  Well, until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Purchases

The next few days are going to be very lazy and very busy... in that very order.  So, I thought to jump in and get my few little purchases I have made over this month fitted into today before today got any hotter (as it has become very hot over the last month!)  
I purchased both my books on the same day.  How's that for efficient!  The first one was one I had to purchase because I was going to a baby shower for my cousin.  She's due next month and I thought a Baby Book would be just the thing to give her (and you know?  It was!  Nobody else bought her one).  This one is fun, beautiful and has recipes in it too; very much the baby book for either a boy or girl as the colours on the cover and inside the pages are yellow, green, pink and blue... very pretty and would suit either.  It even has an envelope for their first loch of hair; now that's something most baby books don't have.  I did see another one; however it was a memory box with a book inside it and it was horribly boring and bland.  So, I'm glad I purchased this one at Garden City (darn, I've forgotten the store!) for only $24.99.
My next book purchase was at QBD and I ordered it in.  I had heard that '11-22-63' by Stephen King was coming out on 8th, November on the news.  So, I called up the Garden City store and ordered my copy (hoping that this tome of a book - at 740 pages - would be more exciting than 'Under The Dome').  By pure chance, I hadn't used my QBD Book Voucher as yet; and so I took that with me.  And instead of paying $22.99, I paid only paid $14.99 thanks to that voucher!  I do love vouchers... they are fantastic.  I have been reading this book 30 - 40 pages at a time and finding it hard to close it as it's really a great story.  
So, what great books have you purchased - for your own pleasure or for presents? Did you happen to score them for a bargain or were they gifts from others?  Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Summer Fun

This Christmas I won't be going to the coast.  I'll be here in Brisbane for the whole of the Christmas and New Year's Eve Period to read, enjoy and relax as much as possible.  And while I'm here, I was thinking about what I'd be doing over this time with the blog.
I've taken on a Summer Reading Challenge on Good Reads.  So, this means I'll have a line-up of books I'll be reading over the next few months that I'll be reviewing as I finish them.  
There is an interview of an Australia Author I'd like to introduce to you all; and she's a wonderful friend of mine (actually, I've been meaning to interview her for a while, and thought this would be the best time).
And there's some book blogs I haven't mentioned on here that I'll install the links to for you all; as well as improve the events calendar for you all next year so it's easier to read.
So... there's the plans for this Summer.  I will be doing a little bit of traveling around Brisbane in search of the perfect bookstore for you to guys to come and look into, the best book-cafe to check and some of the rarest books I've found out there as well.  
All of this will be going on over Christmas, New Years Eve and throughout Summer (Winter for you guys in the Northern Hemisphere) to keep us all occupied.  All of this will begin at the end of next week; so until then, I hope you guys have a great weekend, and - of course - happy reading! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The World Loses Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey passed away this week in Ireland at home after suffering a stroke aged 85.  She was the daughter of a retired Army Colonel.  During WWII, Anne attended Stuart Hall, a girls' boarding school in Staunton, Virginia, while her father was in Europe. She graduated from Montclair High School and, in 1947, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College with a major in Slavonic Languages and Literature.   

Anne helped usher in a new era for women writers of science-fiction and fantasy by being the trailblazer into this mainly male arena.   
She was the first to be given a Hugo Award in 1968 and a Nebula Award one year later. She was also the first woman with a science fiction title on The New York Times Best Seller list in 1978, with "The White Dragon.".  Extremely prolific, she published nearly 100 books, mainly fiction, starting in 1967. She emigrated to Ireland (from America) in 1970. McCaffrey was also a large collaborator. Up until 1990, she co-authored more than 30 books -- 15 with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. She also co-wrote with Margaret Ball, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Jody Lynn Nye and S. M. Stirling.  The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted her June 17, 2006.

Anne will be greatly missed in the Sci-fi arena; however her work will live on for generations to come.  May she Rest In Peace.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The House on the Hill by Estelle Pinney

It's the 1920's in Far North Queensland and the three Dalton Sisters are boarding with Mrs Sanders in the house on the Hill.  There's Josie - the eldest of the three - who has big ambitions for herself and finds her life throwing her curve will test her in more ways than one.  Then, there's Molly who reigns in as the head cook at King's Hotel.  She can whip up any style of gown right down to the finest detail. However, her happiness with her sweetheart, Fred, has been threatened by something out of their control.  And the youngest of the three, Belle, is a talented singer and dancer who tours with a vaudeville troupe as they follow the rodeos and shows of western Queensland.  Belle is being romantically pursued by the hot and handsome Greek local Nicos Alexandros; the owner of the swankiest cafe around.  However, will she choose to settle down and leave her beloved troupe and marry Nicos?  

I loved reading this book after buying it from Estelle herself; then she signed it for me in 2005.  However, I'm sure I did a review of this book a few years ago here as I have a photograph of it on my files (and I would have used it on here for this particular purpose; oh well).  The one thing I do remember from this wonderfully-written book is the pineapple sandwiches that Estelle writes about.  She has told me about them; saying she ate them when she was young and traveling around; and that I really must try them out.  However, I don't like pineapple and can't see them in a sandwich; but that's just me.  Have a read about how they are served up are in this book; as they do sound delicious.

Estelle Pinney grew up and Cairns in the tobacco town of Mareeba, North Queensland. She left school at the age of thirteen to work as a colourist in her grandfather's photographic studio. Estelle's eventful adult life saw her working as an ambulance driver for the US army during World War II; as a beauty consultant; and as a registered deckhand on her husband's crayfishing boat in the Torres Strait. She is the author of Time Out for Living (1995) and A Net Full of Honey (1996), and co-author of Too Many Spears (1978) with late husband Peter Pinney.  Burnt Sunshine, was released by Penguin in 2008. Estelle currently lives in Brisbane.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stephen King's New Book Is A Must-Have!

Just in time for Christmas, Stephen King has published his new book '11-22-63'.  It's a story of Jake Epping, an English teacher of Lisbon High School who is handed the opportunity to step back into the 1950's... literally.  How he does this is through the pantry of his local burger joint owned by a friend of his who suddenly closes it down.  However, it's why his friend has offered Jake this unique opportunity; it's to see if he can save John F Kennedy's life.

I found out last Sunday this book was coming out on the market on 8th, November.  On that very day, I ordered it in through QBD.  Within two days, I received the phone call that my copy of SK's new book had arrived and was waiting for me.  By last Friday, it was in my hands and I had cracked it opened and began reading it before the sun went down; and I haven't stopped reading it since. 
Seeing how quickly I raced out and bought 'Under The Dome', I did find myself hesitating about ordering this one in.  However, once I read how many people loved it on Goodreads, I thought to try it out.  And if I don't like it?  Well, I could always give it to my Dad.  He did like 'The Da Vinci Code' when I didn't.  Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Another Win on Romance Bandits

I won another prize on this site (which I really need to put on this blog's side bar today for you all to have a look at).  It was about a month ago I won, and the prize arrived just today.  However, what I won I thought was the kindle of a book; and I e-mailed the author and had to let her know I didn't own a kindle.  
So, today in the mail, I received a surprised.  I thought I had won only one book; however as I opened the envelope, I found there were two book inside!  And both of them were signed with a two lovely bookmarks for them both!  How cool is that? 
It was 'The Accidental Couresan' I won; the other one was a surprise.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Finding Firsts

There's nothing like settling back in my lounge with a cup of tea or a glass of Root Beer and getting my nose into a good book.  What I really love to do is get into a first - or second - edition of a book; and I don't mean a brand new book, I mean the old ones, the ones that have been around the world a few times and made it into my hands - and my collection - in one piece.  This is something I love to possess.
Scattered around this small office, I have a good lot of First and Second Edition books.  There's  some I've read and some I haven't.  However, with these books, they aren't new ones, they are old books; books that I have spent many years tracking down, so I have no intention of letting them go.
However, my first time at finding a rare or first edition book was in a place and time of my life where I wasn't even thinking of beginning a collection of them.  I  was in the UK on a 7-week holiday with Trafalgar Tours and we were at a toilet stop in a small Welsh village; and I had 45 minutes to kill.  Of course I asked for a bookstore and was pointed in the direction of the only one in town.  I found this place was massive.  It not only had a cafe, but a basement room and a huge area out the back where there was isle upon isle of books.  I seriously needed to come back and look at this place (unfortunately, I didn't have time during that trip; but next time I will take the time to get out there for a few days).  Well, I found 'The Letters of JRR Tolkien' edited by Humphrey Carpenter in hard cover in a small attic room where the wiring was stuffed and I had to use a torch to look at the books.  It cost me twelve pounds and fifty pence; and I did offer more but the lady refused telling me that '... it's just a book!'.  Well, I took my book in its brown paper bag back to the bus and asked my co-ordinator about the book; and told him I had the feeling I've done something terrible.  He took one look at the book and ordered the driver to pull out my suitcase and put it in it until we reached our next hotel.  At the time, I didn't understand what the hell he was fussing about; not until I returned home to Australia and took it in to get it looked at in a reputed book evaluators in the city.  The old man tottered over to me as he pulled out the large black ledger and opened it, wrote down my name and gestured for me to show him the books I had for his perusal.  I had found a few books since I had returned home and wanted to get them all looked at in the one sitting; so waited about a year before I took them in.  He saw I had brought in 'The Stephen King Story' by George Beahm in hard cover and wrote it down.  Then, there was 'The Stephen King Companion' by the same author and gave me a quick quote on them both.  Then, I pulled out the JRR Tolkien book and he dropped his pen on the ledger as his Einstein eyebrows nearly popped off his forehead.  He gingerly handled this book, placing it on the counter and flipped through it, looking at the condition and smiling through his scruffy, gray mustache before asking me exactly where I had gotten it.  I produced the receipt of the bookstore I bought it from and he wrote down the name of the town (seeing I can only pronounce it and not spell it - too many double L's).  He handed the book back carefully and told me to care for it as though it was cash as it was the one of four copies in Australia!  My eyes nearly fell out of my head as my ears didn't believe what they were hearing!  I had to get him to repeat what he said - twice - and he had written the book down in the ledger; so it's now registered as a very rare book and its worth goes up every year I have it in the condition it's in.  
Since that find in 1997, I have been one of those people who will track down market stalls, old book stores, antiques shops and charity stores just to find a first edition.  There are bookstores I haunt when I go on holidays and bookstores I haunt when I go into the city just to look around.  And you know, each time I go on holidays, I always find something brilliant and interesting to bring home.
So far, I've found 'Mozart' by Alfred Einstein (yep, Albert Einstein's cousin!) a great man who looked into how musicians and their music made them the way they are!  It was published in 1946 and the copy I have is a first edition.  Brilliant, I tell ya!  Then, in the same store, I found as second edition of 'Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemmingway which has great illustrations by two artists because the publishers couldn't make up their minds about who they wanted and ended up hiring them both!  It's written in the notes in the front of the book.
I do enjoy finding these books by pure chance; and when I do, it's as though they have been waiting for me the whole time on that very bookshelf in that very store for me to show up and buy them.  It's as though it's fate... and I love it.  So, what books have you stumbled upon by pure chance and found out they were not only First Editions but rare as hens' teeth?  And which book set you off as a person who hunted down these types of books?  Or have you been like this the whole time?  For me, it's what the book looks like, as well as how it's been published, the style of the writing, illustrations and how it's bound that attracts me to first editions.  They are so much better than the new books around today.  Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Score!

Last weekend, I was invited at the last minute to attend my niece's school fete.  I turned it down as I had a lot to do here at home and needed to catch up on a fair few things around here before my very busy week started out.  This was something I regretted when my folks called back that afternoon asking me about books.  Mum had found a hall there chock full of near-new books for next to nothing.  The organisers were handing out boxes people could fill for $10!  What was I missing out on! An absolute bargain, that's what!  Well, that was my fault, nobody else's.  However, Mum bought me some great books I haven't read.
The first I do have (somewhere around here) but this one is a first edition; and I love digging up these things.  It's 'Misery' by Stephen King.  Finding a first edition of his isn't easy these days - especially his old works; but Mum found this one; and isn't it great!  She bought it for about $1.00 or so.  
Then, there was 'Dream Thief' by Stephen Lawhead.  Now, this author is famous for his sci-fi fantasy works of the King Arthur series; not science fiction. However, he has written this genre before and so Mum bought me this works; something I haven't read of his.  Brilliant!  This edition is the UK edition; what a find!
Then, Mum mentioned 'Under My Skin' by Doris Lessing.  Now, I have wanted to read something about this wonderful writer for a long time; and now I have the first volume of her autobiography!  What a wonderful book!  I can't wait to get in and read it next year (as I have so many now I really do need to get my nose into a few of them).  
And last - but not least - is 'The Wayward Bus' by John Steinbeck.  I haven't heard of this work by this author, but when Mum read the blurb on the back, it sounded very interesting and made me want to read it.  So, she bought it for me.  What a great selection of books!  I'd like to thank my Mum for tracking down these books - however few they are - for me as they really do look like great reads and fantastic classics in their own rights.  I can't wait to read them.  What books have you found at markets or fetes that you've bought for a steal and made you wonder what they were doing there in the first place?  Have you bought up big, or did you just pick out a select few like my Mum did for me on Sunday? Until my next post, happy reading!