Archive for June, 2009

Borders Top 100 Books

Posted on 30 June 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I wouldn’t normally blog about a bookshop as big as Borders except they’re doing one of their 100 Top Favourite Books of all Time. I reckon we should do our best to get one of our favourite books on the list. I recommend Grug just to be awkward. You don’t have to take my suggestion you can vote for your own book, but it could be fun to try and stack the odds. Anyway, here’s the link so you can see which books are currently on the list.

Edit 26th July 2009: Just checked the link to find out progress and it’s not there any more. The voting must have finished and I’ll have to do some more research to find out the results. Will get back to you with this info.

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Posted on 28 June 2009. Filed under: Competitions | Tags: , , , , , , |

I announced a new competition in my eNewsletter. Only a minor problem, I messed up the dates. I thought I’d typed 26th July and had actually typed 26th June. Anyway, here’s the competition with the correct date.

Closing on the 26th July you can win a pack of Super Food Ideas and a selection of cooking implements for teflon cookware. Just write a comment on my blog to be in the running for this cooking pack.

I do a random draw of every person’s comment I see on the 27th July. Multiple entries don’t count but I do welcome them anyway. If I’m feeling extra generous I might put in the Chocolate Surprise, the chocolate bar that masquerades as a book.

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Winning Bulk Auctions – Good Idea or Not??

Posted on 25 June 2009. Filed under: Buying Time | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Another in the list of bulk buys. I still have my doubts about this one, but it paid off in the end.

I won an auction on eBay. I was very careful to do my calculations before I put in a bid. The listing was for 2,000+ books. I thought about it and decided to do my calculations based on 2,500 books. I worked out how many per box, how many boxes and roughly how much space they would take up based on how many boxes high I would be able to stack them. I figured I would have enough room with maybe three or four boxes left over. No problems. Really happy. I put in a bid, dithered a bit over it as I really wasn’t convinced I wanted them, so I lowered the amount I was prepared to spend…twice. I won at a really low price.

Talked my nephew into helping me pick them up as I’d done some damage to my neck and didn’t want to have to face the wrath of my physio when I made it worse. The books were in the back of a shop located fairly close by which was good as I estimated we’d have to make two trips. I collected some boxes being fairly confident it would be enough. We drove down there, found the back of the shop as instructed. The seller opened the door and said those fateful words…”You realise you have to take everything”…I looked and laughed as there was nothing else I could do. There were far more than 2,000, my estimate of what the + might be was totally lacking. My final estimate was about 4,500 books. It took us three trips in my wide bodied Camry to get them back to my place and because of that it took much longer than expected so we had to leave them sitting on the floor of the garage until I could find time to put them in a better place. I had already put lots of plastic on the floor to protect them as I expected to just stack them there until they were all transported here.

With the second trip I figured it didn’t matter if I lost a few boxes of books due to being squashed so what with not having enough boxes we just put enough boxes in to give the whole thing formation and began throwing books in. We stuffed them behind the boxes and stacked them around the boxes. We put a couple of boxes on the back seat and then piled books around the boxes and stacked them on the floor of the car. It was chaotic, but it worked. So, here we are driving down Warrigal Road and I had to brake for some red lights. The books cascaded in a stream onto my nephew’s lap. He picked them up and sorted them into books he wanted (onto the floor with his feet) and books he didn’t want (thrown dismissively over the shoulder into the backseat) while drinking water from a clear bottle. The look on the guy’s face in the next car was a picture. It looked as if my nephew was drinking vodka as we were both very cheerful. When we got back home with that load we had another book-a-lanche when we opened the back door. They all just cascaded onto the ground. I wish I’d taken a video of it, it was very funny.

I had to get very creative when packing the books as there were just so many I had not accounted for in my calculations and I hadn’t collected enough empty boxes. I had kept the box from our new washing machine as I was going to cut it up and use it for packing books. I brought that out and put it in a corner of the house, we then carefully packed books in it. It was a big box and it must have taken several hundred books. It never moved again until I sold all the books to someone else and I had to unpack it into other, smaller boxes.

For those who are worried about the treatment we meted out to these poor books please be reminded they were secondhand. I expected some attrition from this treatment, but it was only about half a box full and most of them were in terrible condition before hand, none of them were very collectable as they were cheap books and I had other copies of them. I just want people to be warned to ask questions and to try to look at the auctions of these things beforehand so you have more information about them than I did…actually, I lie I really just want to entertain people with my story.

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Terry Pratchett – Explained

Posted on 22 June 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I made a cryptic comment in my last post Who Writes Like. I guaranteed I chose the first author that came to mind and that there were reasons it was Terry Pratchett. I’ll do my best to explain why that happened. No, I’m not explaining about Terry Pratchett, I’m only explaining why his name was the first that came to mind. Should he choose to read this blog he can explain himself or not as he chooses, he’s certainly capable.

Terry Pratchett is the author of a series of books about a place called Discworld. He has also written other novels including my favourite, The Bromeliad Series. I came to read Terry quite by accident. My kids were little and we used to watch the ABC together. They were screening a wonderful little series about Nomes called Truckers. The series was delightful with a fabulous storyline, great characters and some wonderful ideas. I loved it so much that when a book of the same name sprang out at me from the bookshelf of my favourite bookshop I bought the whole series. I was delighted with the books. They all had the same things I liked about the series except for the visuals, I had to imagine the visuals. I was so taken with these books that I bought another book by the same author on the very next time I was in the bookshop. That book was Sourcery and I must confess I wasn’t quite so enamoured of it. I’ve re-read it and I’m still not that excited by it. That put Terry off my reading list for several years.

I’ve always been very involved with my kids and their reading. I’ve always tried to read everything they read before they read it. At least until they got to about 15 or 16, now I read more for me than for them, but in those days I read for them. They have always been very good readers and my youngest reads twice as fast as I do so I was struggling to find the time to read enough to keep ahead of her. I visited the library, found audio books and started listening to them in the car. I found Hogfather. I listened to Hogfather and subsequently forgot to turn it off when the kids got into the car. They stopped talking to listen and started laughing. I figured this was a good thing as the series was very well written with no swear words and with concepts I was happy letting them read. Fabulous, another series they could read!!

Fast forward a couple of years to when I was bored. Browsing the web and newsgroups to find something to do and I came across a reference to a Discworld Convention in Melbourne. I whizzed across to the website and had a good look around. They seemed like nice people and I thought “I can do this, I can help on this committee”…famous last words. After a few emails I finally got to a committee meeting. Truly, I did help and I had a wonderful time and made some fantastic friends. That convention was such fun I ended up as the Vice President of the committee for the Second Australian Discworld Convention and am now retiring from convention committees in order to focus on family and business.

So, there you have it in a rather large nutshell. That’s why the first author that came to mind was Terry Pratchett.

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Who Writes Like – Eastern Regional Libraries

Posted on 16 June 2009. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I found this fabulous website a while ago. It’s a part of the Eastern Regional Libraries website and can help you find new authors. Some lovely person has gone to the trouble of writing lists of who writes like who and has presented it here.

Here’s an example.

Authors like Terry Pratchett

Piers Anthony (Fantasy)
Alice Borchardt
Terry Brooks
Jim Butcher
Trudi Canavan
Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Charles De Lint
Stephen Donaldson (Fantasy)
Sara Douglass
Dave Duncan
David Eddings
Kate Elliott
Raymond E Feist
Jude Fisher
Maggie Furey
David Gemmell
Terry Goodkind
Robin Hobb
Ian Irvine
J V Jones
Robert Jordan
Guy Gavriel Kay
Patricia Kennealy-Morrison
Katharine Kerr
Mercedes Lackey
Tanith Lee
Juliet Marillier
George R R Martin
Julian May
Anne McCaffrey
L E Modesitt
Michael Moorcock
Caiseal Mor
Robert Rankin
Melanie Rawn
J R R Tolkien
Margaret Weis
Janny Wurts

I guarantee I chose the first author that came to mind, there are reasons it was Terry Pratchett which I’ll tell you about another time. I don’t necessarily agree with their choices, some of them are rather interesting and they don’t include a number of my other favourite authors but this is a big project so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and hoping they’ll catch up at some later stage.

Reading this list is interesting, though. My nephew raves about Mercedes Lackey and I’ve heard so much about Janny Wurts, Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan that they’ve just moved up my to-read list. What I’m also finding interesting is that I’ve actually met two of them as well as Terry Pratchett.

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People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks

Posted on 12 June 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

This is one of the most talked about books this year. I heard so much about it from so many sources I just had to read it.

This is a really fabulous book. It details the journey of the Sarajevo Haggadah as seen through the eyes of a book conservator. I don’t know how much is correct, but the forensic ideas are just fabulous. To take such a small sample and be able to state where and when this book was looked at is just amazing. I truly admire the author for taking the facts and weaving this fantastic story around them.

Not only that, but I felt I was there. In each section of the book I felt I was really there watching and following the story.

One small segment of the book I felt wasn’t needed. How much of that was due to me wanting my 16 year old to read it and how much of it was because I felt it was out of place is a question I can’t answer. Until this point I was thinking it would be a fantastic book for her to read as it would give her a possible career to aim for. She is interested in so many elements of the work that goes into book conservation and I felt it would be good, but then came the sex scene. The first one was okay, it was glossed over, but the second one was not okay. She won’t be able to read this book for another couple of years.

sex scenes

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Fan fiction

Posted on 9 June 2009. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , |

Edit: Not certain how that happened. I must have clicked on publish instead of save draft. I was only saving the link as it seemed like a good link to show people but I had no thoughts in mind as to what I wanted to say about it. I might have to make something up pretty quickly.

This is a great website for those who want to write or read fan fiction. You can also find a beta reader, someone who will act like an editor and read your fan fiction with the idea of publishing in mind. I think the idea of being a beta reader is pretty cool.

Some of the fans are pretty good at getting the right writing style.

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Snailmail No More – Paula Danzier & Ann M. Martin

Posted on 8 June 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Snailmail No More by Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin is about two teenage girls and their friendship. Tara has moved states while Elizabeth has moved houses due to her alcholic father. They start off by writing letters and when they both get computers they take the conversation to email. It’s a lovely book, easy to read and a little compulsive. I had trouble putting it down.

Tara and Elizabeth go through the highs and lows of being teenagers. They discuss boys, changes in their bodies and making new friends. They discuss Tara becoming a big sister and Elizabeth’s father.

Alcoholics and Alcoholism, and how it affects the family
Making new friends and incorporating them into your existing friendship group
Being different and still being friends
New baby in the family
Being grounded

You can find a copy of this book for sale here.

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MythAdventures by Robert Asprin

Posted on 6 June 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

When I’m stressed I turn to the genre I’m most comfortable with, fantasy. The particular area of fantasy depends on so many factors I’m not going to discuss here, but this time I turned to Robert Asprin and have been re-reading the M.Y.T.H Inc stories.

It’s a fabulous series of books and this excerpt from Wikipedia explains it much better than I can. “MythAdventures is the collective name for a series of humorous fantasy novels written by Robert Lynn Asprin that are popular for their whimsical nature, myriad characters, and liberal use of puns. Each novel’s title makes a pun on the similarity between the word “myth” and either the prefix “mis-” or the word “miss”, with the exception of the first, which puns on the phrase “Another fine mess” (which was, incidentally, almost the novel’s title due to a misunderstanding with book’s publisher).”

What Wikipedia doesn’t say is how I feel about them. I just love them. They are wonderful, they have very cute characters and I just wish I had some of their gadgets. I would absolutely love to be able to rent out a bit of extra-dimensional space, it’d be fabulous to have more room for my books.

I sometimes get a bit confused with all the action, but I suspect it would be the same with any action movie. Keeping track of the characters and what magical disguise they are currently wearing is a little hard.

This series seems to have engendered a similar following to the Discworld series written by Sir Terry Pratchett. A quick google of ‘m.y.t.h. inc robert asprin’ will bring up a number of fan pages including a reference to the newsgroup.

In my eagerness to buy all the books in the series I have managed to buy doubles of some of these books and when I’ve finished checking them all out I’ll be listing the doubles on Suz’s Space.

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Reflections on Grug

Posted on 3 June 2009. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Reflections on Grug

When I was a child, my family were missionaries in Nepal. Every so often we would receive a “blue barrel” from Australia. This would contain all sorts of goodies, including presents for myself and my 3 siblings.

One barrel contained a gift for my brother – the first book of the Grug series. This book was a favourite with all of us and was read over and over. We all committed it to memory, simply because we read it so often. Even now, after 20 or so years, I still remember “Once the top of a burrawong tree fell to the ground, and the grassy top began to change. It became… Grug! And off Grug went to search for a place to live.”

Over the years, we collected most of the Grug books for my brother. When he grew up and moved out of home, the books were left with my parents, including the much loved first book, which now is a little worse for wear.

The advantage of the books being with my parents is my children have had the opportunity to read and love the Grug books too. My 7 year old learned to read with them and we are about to start reading them with my 5 year old.

The news that Grug is being reprinted has caused a lot of excitement – we are planning to buy a copy for my brother and keep it safe for when he has children, so he can share the joy of Grug with them.

Melissa Khalinsky is the mother of 2 boys and the oldest of 4 children. She runs the Business Mums Network and often has various kids story books on her desk and in her handbag!

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