Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last Day For the Summer Fun Event!

It's the last day of January and you all know what that means!  Today is the last day of the Summer Fun Event for 2012.  However, over the last week or so, here in Queensland, things have been less than fun; I'm sorry to say.  
As you've read in my previous posts, it's been very hot, very humid and very, very wet.  Along with this wet, we've had floods again.  Brisbane City has only just recovered from the 2011 floods and it happened again - but not as bad; and this time we were prepared for it.

But the event started out great!  I began writing about Graeme Base, who writes 'Animalia' where the books have illustrations of animals following the aphabet with adventures for children.  A brilliant author and artist.  Then, I chatted about Christmas Shopping, only the fewest of bookstore reviews, traditional books against the future of reading... and there were many other articles about books, learning to read and the love of books.  And then there were three great interviews from Karen Tyrell, Ged Maybury and Joanne Harris.  The last one had been used in fellow blogger's blog; but with her permission, and a mention of her blog, I reproduced it.  
Then, I went on a week's holiday.  You see, I had to get away from Brisbane for a reason.  My little bird died on 8th, December.  I didn't tell you all because I didn't want to ruin the enjoyment of the season.  She was such a lovely little thing and had lived a good long, happy life with me.  Little Miss Stevie was a Sky Blue Budgie who was 7 3/4 years old when she took a stroke on 1st December and survived it; then stayed with me another week before passing away from heart failure in my hands outside.  I will get another little bird again, but not for a while.  This is the reason why I went on holidays; otherwise I wasn't going to go anywhere and stay here.

This month, I arrived home on 2nd January, and got talking about free books off iTunes, musical stories like 'War of the Worlds' and 'Jesus Christ Super Star' and 'Phantom of the Opera'.  Then, I chatted about favourite poet, Betty's Reading Room in the Ireland where a cottage has been fixed up for anyone to settle in and read a book by a fire.  I then let you guys in on a report about the Booker Prize including banned authors this year.  Then, our weather took a turn for the worse and it hasn't really gotten better as it's still raining outside and it's still humid.

I hope you guys have found something over the last two months that you've enjoyed.  I know this year hasn't been as interesting as last year's Summer Fun Event, however there's always next year coming to look forward to.  So, until next year's Summer Fun Event, happy reading!     

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weather Extremes

Over the last week, here in Queensland, we have had some weather extremes.  From the extreme heat and dry, to Tropical Cyclone Oswald hitting Cooktown and then turning into a massive rain depression and cruising down the Queensland coastline. This depression has brought with it destructive winds with it.  However, when this kind of thing happens, many people lose a lot their property, power, water and other personal items.  I often wonder how many lose so much only to have to start over again.

I've been lucky in my life that I haven't really lost anything due to Mother Nature taking away anything from me.  However, I do fear her destruction. Last night, I read until around midnight and then found I didn't sleep very well.  So, what I've been feeling is very tired from these sets of storms.
Even though reading books and editing my own works does help to get my mind off the extremes of weather, I'm wondering what you do to keep your fear at bay when a massive storm hits.  Be it a snow storm or a typical summer thunderstorm, what do you get up to?  Until my next post, happy reading!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Banned Authors Make Booker's Short List

It's always great when something happens in the writing world; and what's better is when you read about authors whose books are banned make it to the short lists of a big international competition.  Today, I read about this on the net and am proud to put the link up here.

Booker Prize Short Lists Banned Writers 

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Favourite Poets

I enjoy poetry.  I enjoy writing it too. The best time to write it - I find - is late at night when I can't sleep.  But sometimes, even then, I can't get any words out.  It's then I begin to think about my favourite poets in the dark there while the rest of the unit complex is sleeping and the stars drift past overhead.
I have a small collection of poetry books.  Some of them I've written myself, while others are of poets who have made themselves famous; but they all vary in differing ways.  From Jim Morrison's two famous books, to Triple J's anthology 'Word Up', I have found that I have loved to collect various and different styles of poetry and verse.  And here's a few titles I have in my collection:

'Wilderness: Volume 1' by Jim Morrison
'The American Night: Volume 2' by Jim Morrison
'The Works' by Pam Ayres
'Some of Me Poetry' by Pam Ayres
'Some More of Me Poetry' by Pam Ayres
'Complete Poems of Edgar Alan Poe'
'Remix: Poems Ancient & Modern' by Ross Clark
'Heart Gifts' from Helen Steiner Rice - First Edition
'Moment to Moment' by Rod McKuen
'Fields of Wonder' by Rod McKuen
'Caught in Quiet' by Rod McKuen

There's some poetry here I've read - like the works of Jim Morrison, Poe and Pam Ayres - and then there's works I haven't - and I do wish to get around to those other books as they sound and look wonderful.  
So, which poetry books do you have in your collections?  And which have you read that aren't in your collections?  I'd love know who influences you in your day-to-day life and which ones are your favourites.  For me, it's got to be Edgar Allan Poe and Wordsworth... yes, the classics for me.  But then, I do love what Jim Morrison had to write; even though he may have destroyed a lot of his work before anyone got to see it.  Until my next post, happy reading.             

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No Book Alone

I've been a self-taught person for a good percentage of my life.  From learning to read to Yoga, I've learned almost everything I've wanted from books.  However, there are some things you just can't learn from books; some things you must learn from life experience.  Well, of course there isFor example, driving a car.  You can't learn everything about that from a book, you must know the road rules and how to work them out properly on a road with other drivers - as not every driver thinks the same way.
Gardening is another one.  Yes, it looks right in the gardening manuals and magazines; but it doesn't mean the same plants and gardens will work out the same way in your place; that an English cottage garden will work in Cairns with exactly the same plants.
Along with these two examples, I can think of a others, such a cooking, knitting, sports, writing, sewing, painting and many, many more things you must try out for yourself as well as reading about them.  However, have you read about something and then found you've been stumped?  It looks okay and right in the book, but when you try it out for yourself, nothing works at all?  I have.

I took up crocheting recently and found it was one of the hardest things around.  Not only have I tried taking it up at a late age, but it's something left-handed people aren't really suited to do.  Now, I can knit and sew; but crocheting is strictly a right-handed skill and there's not a single lefty crocheter I know around in my family.  Well, okay, Mum is, but she hasn't done it in years, so can't really show me.  And how did I come across trying out this skill?  My brother, Gabe, and his fiance, Kat, gave me a book on how to make Crobots for Christmas.  These are crocheted robots; cute tiny little things; skillfully made and lots of fun!  However, when I looked into it - and found the book taught you how to crochet - I found it was a right-handed skill.  I asked around and nobody could teach me; and so I Googled online to find a book to teach a lefty how to crochet... there was no such book around!  Bummer!  So, it looks like I'm heading out to a craft group where women - or men - of the older generation will have to teach me how to crochet.  This will take time.. and no book is available to teach me this skill.

So, have you found a skill where you've had to go into training or go to a college or university course to find the right types of skills to get where you need to be?  Have you found something you've wanted to do, but no book - or set of books - can teach you what you want?  Until my next post, happy reading!   

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 Reads!

Okay, it's the beginning of a new year - and we're a few weeks inSo, this has given us all a bit of time to get in and sort out what we're going to be reading for this year.  
Right now I'm plugging through a couple of books that I'm enjoying - and one of them has been turned into a movie.

'The Life of Pi' by Yann Martel 
'The Origin of Species' by Charles Darwin
'Parallel' by Claudia Lefeve
'Dream Psychology' by Sygmund Freud

Now, I began reading these books around the same time and now I'm reading them little by little, one by one whenever I feel like it.  I do love the first one and am obsessed by the third one.  But the second and fourth ones are brilliantly researched and written as well.
I do have a pile of books by the office door still there from last year that I have yet to sort through - to figure out which to read first - for this year.  So, what are you planning - hoping - to read this year?  A huge lot of books?  Or just grabbing what looks good on the shelf as you walk on by?  Until my next post, happy reading!      

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Betty's Reading Room

I just read on Bookcrossing about a little bothy which has been renovated in Orkney, Scotland in memory of a dear friend of a couple who passed away suddenly.  Betty's Reading Room is a little hideaway for the book-loving people of the world, which has cosy lounges, a warm fire and oil lamps hanging from the ceiling along with shelves and shelves of bookcases filled with books of all kinds.  These are for people to settle in and read, put back, take home, exchange or keep; but by all means, enjoy them as Betty would have too.  For the complete story, here's the report on it.

Betty's Reading Room 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Parallel by Claudia Lefeve

Etta Fleming is an orphan who has bounced from one foster home to the next all her life.  And each time she's finished at each family, she has been returned to Dominion Home for Girls.  This year, she was picked up after her most recent family turned out to be downright criminals; and the father died.  However, this year is different.  Etta is going to be eighteen soon; so she'll be out on her own after this.  Without any money and a family adopting her, she isn't sure what to do with herself.
This is until she meets Cooper Everett at the nearby coffee house; a hot-looking guy who buys her a cup of coffee while she's waiting around for her best friend, Jaime.  As they begin to talk, Jaime drags her back to Dominion Home and tells Etta that Cooper isn't the kinda guy she wants to be with.  Cooper had been asking around the place before she showed up - well before!
One afternoon, Etta goes back to the coffee house to get away from the home.  She hopes to be back before curfew - which is 8pm.  And as she sits down, she finds Cooper is making his way to her again.  He tries to talk to her again, but Jaime shows up again and tries to pull her away.  This time, he takes a chance; and so does Etta.  They drive away in his car and he tells her that she doesn't belong there; and she's badly needed back where she originally came from.  Where? In this reality.  However, will Etta believe him?  Will she go back with a man she hardly knows?  And if she does, will everything be the same as before?  If not, how much will have changed?

I stumbled upon this free book on iTunes and thought to have a read of it.  Being a person who doesn't normally read Young Adult, I had a quick skim of the first few chapters and soon found myself reading further along.  This book has pulled me in and I have enjoyed the time traveling part of it.  It's a lot of fun and has it's funny parts as you're pulled along in Etta's thoughts and feelings how she deals with being introduced to new things about herself she didn't know.

Claudia Lefeve was born and raised in the Gulf Coast border town of Brownsville, Texas; a curious place where folks see curanderas in lieu of shrinks, tortillas are served at every meal, and even gringos speak Spanish. PARALLEL, the first book in The Travelers series, is her debut YA speculative novel. She currently resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and one precocious pug.   

The Heat Is On!

Well, it's smack dab in the middle of Summer here in Australia and we're sweating it out horribly!  I'm sitting here in the only room in my townhouse which has an air-conditioner in it, reluctant to leave because the rest of the house is stinking hot.  And do you blame me?  This little room is also where my stock of books are; now if only I had an endless supply of food here I'd be set!  Only joking.

So, this really had got me thinking.  What do you read when the extremes hit your country?  If you've got a blizzard outside and there's no phone lines, internet and the television isn't working (no reception or cable) I'm wondering if you guys break out the board games, sit and talk to each other or do you all get in and do a big read-a-thon and see who reads the most in the amount of time it takes for the blizzard or bad weather to pass?

As for Australia?  When it gets hot, we stop moving.  Moving just takes up too much energy and we sweat too much when we move.  So watching television or reading or sleeping is a good thing to do.  I much prefer reading as it's something I enjoy.  However, when the heat reflects off the concrete and into my house and carport, there's really nowhere to go.  So, I close up the house as much as I can and drink loads of water and keep on reading until I snooze the afternoon away.  And the books I read?  Well, I try to read books that have a lot of snow, cold and skiing in them.  Or if I can't find those, I try to find ones where the characters are by the water and enjoy swimming and water activities.  Yep, my imagination gets a work out that way.  Until my next post, happy reading! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Musical Stories

I love music and I love stories; and I love it when I find a vinyl or cd where the both are mixed: musicals or soundtracks.  This is where Hollywood has really done it's homework.

But it didn't start there.

As some of you who follow my other blog - My Book-Crazy Life - you'll know I collect vinyls; and I have a very big collection of them.  They are known to take over the living room a little; but they have their place when I put them away.  And I love them.  I collect soundtracks to movies, television shows and comedy acts as well as poets and people who can make sound affects with their mouths (Wes Harrison is one who I laugh my head off as and am amazed at at the same time!  God rest him!).  However, the ones I'm talking about are the composers like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.  
I'm a big collector of Mozart and have found that his concertos tell a great story.  They go for around half an hour and come in four parts - sometimes three - and they are brilliant.  And set to a ballet or a play, they tell the story.
However, last week, I bought a 3-vinyl set where the whole concert was recorded - voices and all - on the vinyls and I could sit and listen to the whole thing.  It's an Opera Seria and once you've listened to one, it's like being there.  I loved it; and that was only the first album.  

Another set of albums that are like this is 'War of the Worlds'... which was a book first.  However, once it was turned into a stageplay and set to music, it really took you to Woking in the UK and told you the story.  My folks have the vinyls to this - and I refuse to listen to 'War of the Worlds' in any other way.  I just love it this way as it's been the only way I've listened to it for my whole life.

So, how many sets of music do you know of tell a story?  I've mentioned two or three here, but there has to be more.  Until my next post, happy reading!  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Free Books!

Yep, you read right!  But not from me.  I've been getting free books from iTunes for some time now and have thought it high time to spread the word about it.

Now, I know I have said that I don't like e-readers or anything to do with reading on a computer too much.  However, if the books you want to read is massively huge and you wish to take it somewhere with you, it makes sense to put the whole thing on your iPod, iPad or iPhone through the free books on iTunes.  I figured this out when I wanted to download something to read while I was on the bus back from Brunswick Heads; and wanted to read something good.  And instead of spending any money, I typed into the search box: free books.  Well, a ton of them popped up and I was searching through hundreds of books from all kinds of genres.  I was in literary heaven!  How cool is that?

I'm only downloading really big, thick books that I find are too big to carry in my bag onto my iPod.  And once I've finished them, I'll delete them from it to make room for another big thick book I want to download... not a bad plan, right?

And this got me thinking, which books have you all downloaded onto your e-readers or iPods/iPads to read lately - and over the holidays - which you have lovedWith Apple, your downloads are kept in a back-up library, so if you want them back you can re-download them again.  How do you keep your already read e-books?  Are they backed up on a computer?  Or do you delete them once they're finished?  Until my next post, happy reading!  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Interview With Joanne Harris

Over the last few weeks a lot has happened.  There's been posts about books, bookstores (well, only a couple) and other book-related things as well.  I've also promised you some interviews with some writers who I know as well.  This interview was done a few years back for a fellow blogger who I promised to do some interviews for at the time for her.  Well, I dug around in my vault of interviews and found one of Joanne Harris' I had sent along to her first; and wondered if it was okay to apply it to my own blog.  After a quick to and fro of e-mails, Abigail was happy to allow me to cross-post the interview this year for you all.  So, here it is.  The interview with Joanne Harris used in The Story Factory Reading Zone blog.

    Please introduce yourself to our readers

I’m a 47-year-old former teacher living in Yorkshire. I have an 18-year-old daughter and a husband I met via graffiti on a school desk when I was just 16. I ‘m addicted to Haribo, Diet Coke and musical theatre.
Oh, yes - and I write a bit.

    What book do you think you are most like?
Parts of me are in all my books and all my characters. I don’t think you can write a convincing fiction unless some of it is supported by experience and emotional investment.

    What sort of books do you write?
I don’t like categorizing what I write. My books are often very different from each other. Loosely speaking, I appear under general fiction, but I’ve written crime novels, fantasy, historical, cookbooks, short stories. Most of my books have an element of suspense, and many of them focus on the senses in some way – often those of scent and taste.

    Can you tell us a bit about your favourite character from your own writing.
It’s hard to choose a favourite character when there are so many to choose from. One of my readers’ favourites is Vianne Rocher, who has appeared in two of my books so far; a mother, a traveller, a reluctant witch and of course, a maker of chocolates. I’m writing another book about her now, because I sense that her journey isn’t done.

    What books/authors have influenced your writing the most?
Ray Bradbury; Jules Verne; Victor Hugo; P.G.Wodehouse; John Mortimer; Mervyn Peake; Vladimir Nabokov.

    Tell us about the place where you write.
I used to write at home, but now I have a shed in the garden. It’s made of stone and it’s quite spare inside, with just the basics; a chair, a desk; a kettle. I don’t like distractions when I’m working, so it’s good to have somewhere to go where I know I won’t be disturbed too often.

    Do you have any techniques that you use if you get writer's block
I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. The idea presupposes that a writer can always write whenever they feel like it. Some days I can write, others not. On the others I do something else.

    What are your top 5 tips for writing?
Read as much as you can, in as many different areas.
Pay attention to current events. Newspapers are full of ideas.
Talk to as many different kinds of people as you can. Everyone has a story.
Don’t try to copy trends. Be yourself, and be honest.
Enjoy what you do, and keep trying to improve. That in itself is already success.


If you'd like to know more about Joanne Harris, there's a link to her official website on the sidebar.  Until my next post, happy reading!