Thursday, May 30, 2013

May Book Buys!

Man oh man! Have I been bad!  I've sinned... forgive me!  Now, last month, I only bought two books; and that was okay.  This month, I've fallen off the proverbial money/book-saving wagon worse than ever!  I bought books just because they were there!  Yeah, I did a Mount Everest on myself.  Well, except for one; I really wanted it because I actually wanted to own the copy for a long time - that particular copy - and I'm happy to say I went out to buy just that book.

Then my book-shopping just went off track in a big way!

Okay.  I'll start at the beginning - a good place to start, isn't it?  As you know, I'm house sitting.  But the place I'm sitting is 5 minutes walk from 2 shopping centres which have a variety of places where books are sold at great prices.  How could I resist but to look at them... just to enjoy the feel of them, the smell of a new book off a shelf at The Book Warehouse at Arndale.  I was only at Arndale to pick up some last minute stuff and do a bank transfer at Suncorp (I bought some stuff at a sale on a friend's Facebook sale).  Then, what did I do?  I walked right into this store and looked around and found myself staring at 'The Greatest Show on Earth' by Richard Dawkins and asking if it was last copy they had (as the cover wasn't in great condition) and the lady said yes.  So, I picked that up and looked around.  I found myself a copy of 'The Essential Jung' Selected by Anthony Storr and then found 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat' by Oliver Sacks.  Within an hour, spent around $30!  Damn!  What was I thinking?  I promised myself that I wouldn't do that again; that I had enough books back at home in my little townhouse to read.

Then, yesterday, I did it again.  I went out looking for something and found it at Target and then, I walked around to their book section - just to peruse and that was going to be all! I promised myself - but I ended up picking up 'The Honey Queen' by Cathy Kelly and '1 Base, 100 Pizzas' by Rachel Carter.  Then at the Centro Newsagents, I bought a fantastic copy of 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu (translated by J.Trapp).  

Not only did I have these real, traditional books in my hot little hands this month, but I also have a couple of downloads on my iPod.  One is free; and my own publication 'Graveyard Shift' from which I published in December 2011 - and it's still there if you'd like to have a read of it - and I thought to nab a copy of it.  Then, I scored myself a voucher from Paul D. Dail for his new book 'The Imaginings' on Smashwords; which I used here at my folks place - as I needed to be somewhere where there was wifi to be able to access it with my iPod.  
So, were you good this month?  Or did you lash out and buy up a bookstore - or break your budget like I did? - just because it was all there to be bought up?  Until my next post, happy reading.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

I have loved reading non-fiction books for some time, but none as great as 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu.  I was first loaned a copy of it by a friend of mine who lived in my unit complex when she found I had lost my compass in life.  At first, I didn't have a clue what the heck she meant... but you see, I was fighting a battle at the time with a neighbour's daughter who was trying to make me move out.
This daughter had played a series of tricks and so-not-funny jokes on me over a few months, and I was at the end of my tether.  So, when my friend gave me 'The Art of War' it wasn't just a book for me to read, it was a book on strategy.

As I began the book, I found the translation was brilliantly done.  The illustrations were beautiful, and what Sun Tzu had written down was absolutely true about how to treat his men, how to work with them, talk to them and how a war should be won one battle at a time - even the small battles were important.  And you know, I was able to put some of what the book taught me into action with the neighbour's daughter.  It taught me to be Zen and very calm about things, to wait for her to finish what she was doing and then say something to her.  I learned a lot about how to fight my war with this young lady (she was in her early 20's) one battle at a time.  And in the end, she finally screwed up by putting her own foot in her mouth about a few things I wasn't supposed to hear.  This book taught me a lot of things; and it also taught me that '... a good general feeds off his enemy...' and that is exactly what I did.

Today, I bought this very book to have it in my collection.  When I saw it three weeks ago at the Centro Newsagency, I hoped it would still be there for me to buy, and I was thankful that it was.  Yes, it was expensive, but it's worth it!  And I must say, it's well worth the read too.  I'm just happy I managed to get my hands on a lovely copy of it so I can keep it for years to come.  Until my next post, happy reading.

The Digital World

I have found that the digital world has begun to take over everything.  From digital television (where our old analogue signal was turned off completely here in Queensland yesterday morning at 9am to allow for the digital signal to take over completely) to e-books, e-publishing and on-the-go blogging with ipad and ipods, the digital world is absolutely here and now.  

As of this month, I've read around 4 e-books without really realising it.  And while I was away at Brighton house sitting my brother's house, I wrote a few blogs on my iPod - not that they worked out all that great on there because my browser had a big hissy fit over the device I was writing on - but it was incredible that I could do a blog post from the comfort of my cosy bed at 1am in the morning when I found I couldn't sleep.  Pretty cool, eh?

And this is coming from a sworn traditionalist who said not 6 months ago they'd never read too many e-books.  Well, okay, I'm changing my tune just a little.  But isn't life about that?  Change that is?  I never thought in a million years I'd be writing a book review blog for millions of people to be reading across the globe on a home computer by the time I was about to turn 40.  However, here I am doing just that!  But then, I also didn't think my book collection could also nudge the 1,000 number mark either (okay, it did late last year, then I gave some away, it went under that wonderfully magic number).  

Around this time last year, I went into the settings of this blog and made this thing adaptable to smart phones, iPads and iPods... pretty cool.  And I remember letting you all know about it too.  I do hope you all remembered I did it to make 'My Reading List' available to you wherever you went, no matter where you were traveling.  You could be on a train with wi-fi and you'd be able to read up on my latest review, interview or idea about books and authors on your iPad or iPhone or Samsung device... and this blog would still be all here for you to read on the way to work, college, university or... well, anywhere else you needed to go... like an old friend who accompanies you wherever you're going.

So, yes the digital world has caught up with me - well and truly - but I'm still buying books (as you can see in the sidebar, I bought 3 yesterday at The Book Warehouse).  So, how has the digital world caught up with you?  For me, I've been making a shopping list on the app ShopShop and have been using that for the last 8 months - boy has it saved me money on paper!  And my To-Do list is also on my iPod too, so is my television guide when I do house sitting... it's an app called Zeebox which shows me which movies, shows and other great things that are on tv here in Australia.  I can also download free books off iTunes on my iPod... and here I was saying that this thing was crap when really I just had to fiddle with it more.  Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

House Sitting Again

I'm house sitting - again!  Yep, it seems I haven't been permanently home at my townhouse for two months and I've been in and out of there like a blue-arsed fly lately.  Over the last fortnight, I've been coming to my parents' house to mind it for the first few days in the week, then taking off home to live at my house, then come back on the following Sunday... jeez, I'm really feeling burnt out; as you can well imagine.

However, this week, I've decided to stay here for the week and welcome my folks home from their holiday away.  So, I arrived here on Sunday and I'm not leaving until Friday.  This means I can kinda settle here and get used to feeding the wild birds from the back steps, watching the leaves fall from the Liquid Amber tree in the neighbour's yard, which blankets both our yards with beautiful, golden leaves all over our yards and enjoy the sun room that was built onto Mum and Dad's house a few years back in the morning. 
Yeah, seeing the days are cooler, there's nothing like sitting out the front there with a cup of tea or coffee just after breakfast and taking in a few rays while reading a book... very nice and warm, despite the traffic roaring past!

This week, it's been a little on the cooler side, though.  And seeing I'm not used to traffic driving past, I'm always up and down looking out the window at anyone who happens to coast past.  I guess I'm just being very aware and used to being in the relative safety of a unit/townhouse complex.  The one thing I have noticed with my folks' place is that they have one massive bookcase just inside the front door.  It's overflowing with reading material; and Mum's trying to find room for another bookcase around the place, but Dad's hoping she doesn't get another one soon.  Over the years, I've re-arranged this bookcase to have it in sections, and it's been good; then I've gone home knowing it's easy to navigate.  Then when I return, it's a mess time and again... I wonder how my Mum actually finds things in it, but now, I just let her rummage around in it and she does get in and finds books, but it takes time to get the one we're looking for.
For me, finding a book in my collection is easier.  If it's not in my Mt To-Be-Read, it's in my Mt Everest To-Be-Read... if not, I've put it away by section... and that's all too easy to find.  Just tell me what it's mainly about (horror, romance, childrens' book) and I can usually lay my hands on in a matter of seconds, or tell you where you can find it in the bookcases yourself.  In any case, when I'm house sitting at another house I always feel like I'm a little like a fish out of water without books around me, or my own collection in the same room with me.  Does that sound a little weird, or are there people like me out there who feel the same way when they spend time away from their collections?  Well, until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Winter Reads Time!

Winter is just around the corner here in Australia, and the cold has visited us in the South East Corner of Queensland to give us a taste of what it's going to be like when it really hits!  But in other parts of the world, you're welcoming the Summer days... the long, hazy, lazy days of summer where the afternoons stretch good'n'long and don't ever seem to end.  

So, my question for you - my followers from all over the globe - today is:  what are you planning to read through the middle of the year?  

Me? I have some great plans.  Some include my iPod; as I scored myself a gift voucher from Paul D. Dail (have you guys entered his competition below to score yourself a free copy of his new e-book 'The Imaginings' yet?  If not, do and do so, I've got a copy of it off Smashwords and am enjoying it totally!).  Then, I thought to get my nose into 'Dandelion Wine' by Ray Bradbury to remind me of warmer days long gone.  I have other books on my Mt TBR by the office door of the likes of 'I Am Leather-Man' by Ged Maybury & Anna Venczel and 'Touchstone' by Letitia Coyne; both books I do plan to read over Winter.  

So, there's my Winter Reading Pile all organised.  I haven't named many as I love to absorb my reads more than zoom through them.  Have you got any books you'd like to get through this Winter/Summer?  Of course you do... leave a comment and let us know of them and it might lead the rest of us to find more to read as the year goes on.  Until my next post, happy reading!  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Erotic and Romantic Fiction

Romance has come a long way since the days of Mills and Boone where women bought the reasonably-sized books and read them and they were written by a handful of women and some men.  They were light romances for the ordinary housewife who would get time to sit down and read just before bed or whenever they had time to read during their busy day.

However, times have changed a lot, and so has the way romance has been written.  It's hot, sexy and very descriptive... and yes, it's meant for not only the ladies but also the men too.  So, when 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was published, it caused plenty of waves in society of its content and why it was published.  But it also brought a lot of people who read erotica out of the woodwork.
But not all erotic writings are the same.  I've read 'Fanny Hill' which was written by a man for men in the late 1800's and it was a book which was banned for many years due to its content.  However, I was given my copy by my Grandmother who had bought it for her husband in 1984 for his birthday; and it was a reprint of the unabridged edition!  And what an amazing piece it was to read!  I never thought my Grandparents would read anything that kinky; but really they are just like anyone else, they were young once too.
But Grandma had a large collection of Mills & Boone books at her house and I was amazed at how many were well-thumbed and that she often re-read a few of them because they were just good, old-fashioned romance stories that were girl-meets-boy kind of thing.  It's probably why she loved 'The Sound of Music' so much, it went along the same lines of Mills & Boone novels.

However, the typical romance novel is now a lot more descriptive.  It highlights how each person is feeling, their every move, clothing removal and everything else in between.  There's a new section of romance called Erotica and it sits alongside the typical romance section in bookstores and is taking off through e-books sales.  It's not because we're all perverts, it's because we're all wired this way.  Romance and erotica has come out of the shadows of being sinful, and become something to be read because it's good for us in a way.  For some of us, we write it - but would never tell anyone because it's something to keep quiet - while it's a big seller

So, do you read romance or erotic books - or are you too shy to say?  Until my next post, happy reading.    

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Paul Dail Giveaway

Paul Dail is a great writer from Utah who I contacted to let know that I reviewed his flash fiction recently.  He was thrilled to know I had gone to the trouble of tracking him down and had a look at my blog post; and loved it!  He posted it onto his Facebook page and onto his own blog as well!  

Very cool!

But what's cooler still is that he is offering up a free copy of his new e-book 'The Imaginings' to the first three followers of my blog who'd like a copy.  All you need to do is contact him on his e-mail:

pdail73 at gmail dot com 

I wish you all luck in being the first three who score a copy of his e-book!  He'd love to also hear from you guys too on his blog Paul D. Dail - A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

I hope you guys enjoy the book!  Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Annual Book Count

Over the last few days, I've gotten in and counted up my book collection.  I've had over 1,000 books over Christmas, however, that number's dropped just a little to 991.  Even though it's not over that magic number I thought I had, it's still a lot of books to have in my office.
This doesn't include the books in my kitchen or my lounge room... just the ones in my office surrounding me.  I do wish I could do more to accommodate for more books as I do love to collect them and wish to keep them for future generations; especially the collectable ones.

So, how many books do you have in your collection currently?  Or don't you know and fear to count them all?  Or do you have an approximate number and hope you're close?  Until my next post, happy reading! 

Australia's Best Blogs Announced!

Last month, I posted up that I was taking part in Austarlia's Best Blog; and I hoped you all voted for me - and any other blogs you loved as well.  I just received the e-mail from Random House of the winner for 2013!

Instead of telling you all about this blog in detail, I thought it best to show you the link and you can view all the blogs that made it to the top in their own categories:

Australia's Best Blogs for 2013 

I enjoyed taking part; and I hope to take part again next year.  Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Racing Along!

Life is a race - sometimes.  But today, I've been invited to a writing race.  This is where I sit down for 3 hours in front of the computer and write as much as I can for that time.  Then, I report back to a Facebook events page and tell my friends (who have also taken part in this race) what I got done.  It sounds like a great way to get myself working on my books and to move my pages along.  I can't wait!

But!  (isn't there always one?)

The time I've gotta do this is during the time of 'Supernatural' being on television.  So, I'll be sitting down this afternoon and doing my 3 hour writing race.  It'll be something I can't wait to do; making my day completely full.

So, if you write, what do you do to keep yourself going?  How do you keep from your work going stale?  Do you take part in writing races or Poetry Slams online (I did that once on Facebook between 8pm and midnight and came out with the best work I've ever done; and ended up putting it into my poetry books).  Let us know - if you're a writer or a teacher of creative writing - how do you keep yourself or your students writing and creating? 
For me, this is one way.  However, I have books to help me and I just keep on plugging away at storylines.  I also have other hobbies which tap into other parts of my brain to help me tackle my writing from another angle, to help me slow down a little and make sure I don't see the forest for the trees instead of being too close to the work.  Well, until my next post, happy reading!   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hidden Genres

I've been very busy lately.  Busily reading and writing and busily cleaning my house up too.  I also did my annual book count - which came to 991 books here in my little office.  I did have over 1,000 books last year, but I do remember giving away some too, so it's brought the number down by a few.  

I am busy with a few things around the place while I'm reading, however I have mis-placed a few books in the house.  And while I have been tidying up, I've found them!  I found 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins hiding under a few things on my coffee table.  How long that's been there is only going to be a wild guess of mine. 
Then, by the door, I found 'Crossing Paths' by Debbie Robson, 'Kim' by Rudyard Kipling and then, I added to that a book Mum and I searched high and low for at her place'Dandelion Wine' by Ray Bradbury.  Mum had put it 'somewhere safe' which happened to be in their overstuffed bookcase by the front door.  

Well, it's been a couple of days and each time I've tidied up something, I've dug up a book or two, or a magazine I've been looking for.  And I've been searching for these thing for weeks... and they're showing up now!  Amazing what happens when you're organising yourself for something else to happen in your life.
And what is the something else that's going to happen for me?  I'm heading into hospital in mid-June for a minor operation, and Mum's going to be looking after me for the next week after I return home.  So, my place has to be in some kind of order to have her stay here with me.  Anyway, what books have you found around your place when you've cleaned up, you've sworn you've lost and yet they've been hiding from you all this time?  Until my next post, happy reading!   

Saturday, May 4, 2013

'Free 5 Flash Fiction' by Paul D. Dail

I've been reading some great work lately, and it's not been through my regular means... it's been through free e-books off iTunes, just to be different.  And I found one that totally up my alley which was short, short fiction:  flash fiction - horror fiction!  How very cool is that? 
'Free 5 Flash Fiction' is five short, short stories which are well-written which - by the end of each one will make you wonder exactly how the author came up with them, with such wonderful twists and turns which gives you a horrible shiver up your spine.  Most certainly well worth a read in my eyes. 
Now, normally, I get rid of a book once I've read it, but this time around, I've kept this one on my iPod because I think these stories have resonated with me in some way; and I like that about an author.  Each story has nothing to do with each other, and have totally different feels from each other; and yet the same author wrote them all.  I'd love to read longer pieces he's written - if he's written anything longer - and see if he's able to keep the same feel about his longer work as in his shorter works.  
Paul D. Dail has included a blog in the introduction of his e-book and I'll include it on the sidebar for all of you to have a look at in your own time.  I will be looking at what else there is to read of his works in the future to keep you guys updated with this authorI do hope to see more of his books soon.  Until my next post, happy reading!  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Book Buys!

First I must apologise for being a day late in this.  Yesterday, my heart was not in it because it was the anniversary of when I brought my dear little bird home from the pet store 8 years ago.  And I really didn't feel up to writing or doing anything upbeat.  So, please do forgive me (actually, all I did yesterday morning when the alarm when off was pull the covers over my head and wish the day went away... yeah, I really didn't want to be anywhere near humans let alone a computer). 

But today is different.  I don't know how, but it is.  I've been out for a walk and the sun and breeze has made me look at my world differently.  And besides, my neighbour's cat came and sat on my lap, snuggling up to me at the back door seats; as though he knew something was wrong.  How sweet is that?  yeah, I itched like nothing else later on, but how could I resist a snuggle from a dear little cat like that?

Well, onwards with my April Book Buys we go!  I was very good during the month.  Actually, I didn't go anywhere much until the last two weeks; when I had a fortnight of appointments pretty much everywhere you can imagine... except a bookstore!  So, I kept myself from buying anything right up until the Logan Arts Festival when I became a part of the attractions and helped launch Ged Maybury's new book 'Nosebleed'; and he turned his single book launch into a double book launch by relaunching 'I Am Leather-man'!  How cool is that? 
So, while at the Logan Arts Festival, not only did I get up and bumble my way through a speech that was perfect on paper, but horrible when I read it! I also bought a few books while there - all in one day!  I bought 'I Am Leather-man' - a book I've been meaning to purchase all these years, but haven't - and 'Touchstone' by Letitia Coyne (another Logan City writer who put excerpts of this book onto her website, but I wanted to read the whole thing, not excerpts... so had to wait for the book to come out).  Then, just this Monday gone, I was at my craft group when one of the ladies brought along a box of books.  In her collection, she had a copy of 'Jaws' by Peter Benchley.  What a find!  And the best thing is that it's a second edition!  Very cool!  So, what have you found in your ventures in the last month?  Do leave me a comment let us all know.  Until my next post, happy reading!