Archive for February, 2010

Women’s Weekly Wanted

Posted on 28 February 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , |

The Australian Women’s Weekly was first published in 1933 and is a wonderful snapshot of the life and times of women. Many interesting topics have been discussed over the years and many, many crosswords and recipes have been enjoyed. Some of them have been enjoyed so much the magazines have literally fallen to pieces. The National Library of Australia is digitising their collection but unfortunately are missing a number of issues due to disintegration. They are looking for individual magazines between the 1930s and 1982.

They’re asking people to check their collections and see if they have any in their cupboards so they can fill in the gaps. You can find more information, including where to send them, on their website. Before you send them off I suggest you check this website for their list of missing issues. The list changes frequently. I mentioned this to some friends and they sent some off immediately, one that had a missing poster was accepted.

Project manager Marian Hanley says “It mirrored what we did, how we lived our lives, our aspirations and how we spent our leisure time. It gives us a unique insight into our society but also from a female view,” she said.

“I think it’s so popular because it was a magazine written by Australians, for Australians and indeed about Australians.”

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Bookaholics Anonymous

Posted on 24 February 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , |

When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.
– Desiderius Erasmus

While that doesn’t describe me completely as I’m aware you need more than books to survive, it is pretty close. It’s a subject that’s been closely scrutinised by myself and some friends and we’ve considered starting a bookaholics anonymous. I thought very carefully about this for at least five seconds, then did some research and decided I’m a lost cause. I might still consider starting an organisation but couldn’t even contemplate actually trying not to read and not to buy books, it’s just too hard. One day I’ll have to stop selling books for a living and I can’t begin to picture how I would get rid of the remaining stock. I’ve got places to send it, there’s friends I could give them to, or op shops or other places or maybe I could put some through Book Crossing, but the mental picture is not there yet.

So, we were comparing books and the amount we have stored and I seem to have the least of them. Some people have one or more storage lockers and I’m guessing there’s probably 10,000 in each locker, I should ask them to estimate it and get back to you. I’ve only got about 3,000 and I’m trying to downsize by dropping various genres, I’ve decided I’ll only stock books I can read and possibly recommend so that puts out romance and chick lit and while I love children’s picture books I don’t have the skill necessary to recommend them properly. So, I have several boxes that are going to be put out at the next garage sale, if you’re wanting to get in early email or tweet me or even leave a message here and ask me about particular authors, I’ll look for you and we can start a dialogue. I do have a few boxes of absolutely gorgeous children’s books, some of them are in almost brand new condition and would make fabulous presents.

So, back to the Anonymous bit. If I were to create a group for Bookaholics, it would be to compare collections or stock and to commiserate on missing out on some fabulous books at the last book fair cos there was some greedy person hogging the table. It would be to swap books and also if we’d sold a book and couldn’t find it we would help out if we were able. I suspect it would have to be online as we’re such a diverse group.

And, anyway, is there such a thing as too many books for a Bookaholic? If it’s a fire hazard, then yes, otherwise…absolutely not.

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More random thoughts and some random websites

Posted on 23 February 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , |

I’m trying to read a book so I can review it, strange thought that, the book is Dracula by Bram Stoker. I will be finished it in a few days but while you’re waiting I have to give you something to ponder on and so here’s another in my random series of random thoughts. I’ll give you a few websites as well just because they’re fun.

This is The Millions and this particular post is “Long Live Fiction: A Guide to Fiction Online”. As you might possibly have guessed I really like fiction, non-fiction can be good too, but I really like the flights of imagination that you can get with fiction and the more I do the more I find that fiction can be anywhere. Some can be really short as I discussed here while others can be much longer. See the blog for links as it’s quite good.

I’m sure you all got quite bored reading the lists I’d found and checking out which books I’d read and which I hadn’t. Anyway, here’s another one except I’m not going to annotate it as some of those books go way back for me and while I know the name and author there’s no way I’m going to remember whether I’ve actually read them.

Neil Gaiman blames Michael Moorcock here. If you’re a writer, who got you started? Neil Gaiman blames credits Michael Moorcock with starting him off on the road to stardom authorship.

I’m working on some upgrades to the website. They’re in the middle of happening, by someone else, a lovely person with skills I don’t have, and I’ve had to stop listing books until it’s finished. Hopefully this should only take a couple more days as my Mum is coming to dinner on Friday and I’ll have to move everything out of the dining room. I was complaining about this to some friends the other day and they were telling me how lucky I was as they had to transform their offices into a dining room for every meal. I want to continue complaining as they only have to move sewing stuff and a sewing machine while I have boxes of books but I suspect it’s about equal for the actual moving, it’s just they have to do it a lot more often.

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Solar – Ian McEwan

Posted on 22 February 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , |

I received this book in the post a couple of weeks ago, it is an Advance Reading Copy and I figured Doubleday wanted me to read it and review it. Now, if someone’s sent me a book free-of-charge then of course I’m going to read and blog about it, unless it’s romance or chick lit in which case I’m going to pass it onto someone who likes those genres… I read almost anything else so I don’t mind having a go at it.

Anyway, this book appears to have a few strands running through it. First of all it’s about Michael Beard, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, then it’s about what can happen if you pinch someone else’s work and pass it off as your own and the third strand, my favourite, is about solar energy and how plentiful it is and how we should harness it and stop using fossil fuels.

Watching Michael Beard and his life is like watching a train wreck happening in slow motion. He is over-weight, self-indulgent, lazy and has a brilliant mind. He decided while still young he should never have children and surprisingly stayed with that decision for most of his life, with his decision being overridden by Melissa quite late in his life. I won’t reveal too much but he gets larger, more self-indulgent and even lazier, he ends up with several health problems related to all of this and refuses to do anything about them as it’s all too hard. He is a womanizer and can’t stay monogamous.

At one point his professional career is stagnant, trading entirely on his reputation. He gets hold of a folder of information which could revitalise his career and make him lots of money, he takes the opportunity fate gives him with both hands and runs with it. At the end he has an unpleasant discussion with a lawyer and watches his dreams disappearing.

The most interesting part of this book is the solar energy component. Michael Beard is interested in light and the folder given to him is full of ideas on how to harness that light for energy. I’m very interested in solar energy, I think it’s going to be a very important part of the energy component of society in the near future. The fossil fuels we’re currently using are going to run out at some point in time and I feel it’s very important to move to solar energy.

The ideas on the use of solar for powering the world was actually the saving grace of this book. I was not excited by the book, I plowed through by sheer will power as I felt it important I finish a book I’d been sent, if I’d picked it up at the op shop or the library I would not have bothered finishing it. I had no interest in the character, it was only in the last 25 – 50 pages I found any kind of interest in watching the end of the train wreck and finding out what happened to him, I had no emotional or intellectual attachment to him or his story at all. Parts, very small parts, of the writing shone out and it was interesting to see a concept from a Douglas Adams story used, not just once, but twice and then to see the explanation and have Adams credited within the book. The writing itself was not bad there was just no emotional attachment to anything except the solar.

This title will be in your bookshops next month, I’ve seen posters stating release date is the 18th March.

Warnings:

Sex scenes
Swearing

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Reading Personality

Posted on 20 February 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , |

I was happily browsing Twitter and someone directed me to a quiz to find out which Reading Personality I am. I was very sceptical but clicked on the link anyway and I remain rather sceptical. The questions are such that I just had to choose one option despite none of them being correct. Maybe it’s me and I’m just totally different to the person this quiz is aimed at or maybe it’s the quiz, I don’t know. I’m not going to give you the questions as that would mean you’d be prepared and it’s something you should just experience.

Apparently I fit into the All Rounder as I fit equally into all four reading personalities. That’s just fun and when I read the personalities and their descriptions I had to laugh as each one fits me at various times and I might change from day to day depending on what I’ve seen and read about and also depending on recommendations. So, here are the four personalities:

Involved Reader: You don’t just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase – discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.
Exacting Reader: You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you’d like – so you’re very particular about the books you choose.
Serial Reader: Once you discover a favorite writer you tend to stick with him/her through thick and thin.
Eclectic Reader: You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You’re open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.

Should you choose to do the quiz it would be interesting to see your result and to see how you view your result.

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12 Greatest SF writers alive

Posted on 18 February 2010. Filed under: Lists | Tags: , |

I must be tired as I put this into WordPress three hours ago with the intention of just saving the information so I could work on it later, it was going to be my blog for tonight, but I clicked on the wrong button and published it with only my notes. I’m going to do it now and hope for the best

It’s a great premise and one I found on Twitter this morning tweeted by bantamspectra, the idea of choosing the 12 greatest science fiction writers currently alive. So, here’s the blog and it makes interesting reading. bantamspectra asked about Anne McCaffrey and whether she should be on the list. I’m going to give my list of the 12 greatest science fiction writers and I’m just going to forget about whether they’re alive or not as my list is going to be biased in favour of the older writers, I haven’t read many new authors yet so it’s hard to include them or exclude them.

Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, how can you argue with either of those two, they are the fathers of science fiction.
Isaac Asimov is a definite, as is Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury is up there in the top people. After that they start getting a bit harder to define. I suspect I should be Robert Heinlein in there even though I don’t like his writing, he had some rather strange ideas on sex. E.E. (Doc) Smith and Ursula K LeGuin must be in there at some point and I’m going to throw Roger Zelazny in there as well. Susan Cooper is pretty good despite the fact that I don’t actually like her Ship Who Sang series. I’m putting in Neal Stephenson and Phillip K. Dick but I’m not quite convinced about those two. Maybe if I did something radical and gave myself time to think about the whole idea I might have a totally different list. I have noticed there are only two females in this list and that’s interesting, I haven’t included Anne McCaffrey as I feel her work is more fantasy than science fiction until I review her books in my mind and come to a different conclusion. I might have to read a few of her books outside the Pern books and write down my conclusions.

So, can you give me your lists? It’s always good to see what other people read and it’d be interesting to see how your lists compare with Visions of Paradise’s list and mine. You might read different authors and I’d have to read them to see if I agree with you. Oooohhh, reading new books, now that has to be good.

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Colin Thiele a South Australian Treasure

Posted on 17 February 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Colin Thiele, a name from my childhood. He was born in Eudunda in November 1920 to German parents. He only spoke German until he attended school at Julia and it was at school that his love of the written word started. He died at the age of 85 in September 2006, the same day of Steve Irwin’s death, so his passing was not marked in an appropriate way. There should have been much more happening but Irwin was a much more prominent man and so he overshadowed Thiele. He was a wonderful author and the books he wrote about the Coorong describe it as the beautiful place it is. If you read the books and then look at the pictures on this site you’ll see just how right he was.

His books are just pure poetry and I can lose myself in them at any time, I know they’re written for children but they’re just as enjoyable for adults. I reread both Storm Boy and Blue Fin recently both of which were made into movies with the same boy as the lead actor and I couldn’t believe how fitting they were for adult and child alike. I’ve just had a look at the cast of both movies on IMDB and they both had a sterling cast with David Gulpilil in Storm Boy, but he gets to be included in a different blog.

I’ve currently got Chadwick’s Chimney in front of me and I’m debating whether it is in good enough condition to sell or if it should just go back to the op shop. It’s a book I don’t recall reading but the synopsis shows the same excitement and adventure as his other books. Storm Boy is about a boy who is brought up on the beach of the Coorong and saves some pelican chicks. He looks after them, feeding them, caring for them and eventually teaching them to fly. They do fly away but one of them, Mr Percival, comes back from time to time. Blue Fin is about a boy on his first voyage and the trials and tribulations he goes through as he ends up the only conscious person on the boat during a storm.

I wish I could thank Colin Thiele for his writing as they were so good and gave me so much pleasure over the years. Reading can be an escape and his books certainly were that.

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Australian Writers

Posted on 16 February 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , |

I’m very passionate about writing…well, actually from my point of view it’s more about the reading than the writing but someone has to write so I can read it. I’m also very passionate about the Australian writing industry, if we don’t support them then they will go out of business and Australian authors will not be published as often, if at all and that’s not good. We have some very talented authors in Australia and I’m not going to name names here as that’s not what this post is all about.

We have some big problems with the Australian writing/publishing industry and some of those have been highlighted in the press in the past few months while some have not. The price of books in Australia is a big one, we are paying much more for a book than our counterparts in the US for example. Even if the book was written and published here we’re still paying much more for the same book. Another problem is our size, we’re just so small in comparison that we’re finding it hard to compete with the rest of the world, very few of our authors make it overseas.

I was given an idea a few months back and I’ve been working on it with the lady who gave it to me to try and bring it to fruition. So far, the idea is very small and I’d like to see it grow. Basically, it’s a forum for Australian authors to interact with the public. What we’re looking at is having a whole month devoted to each author, they get to choose the time and place of their postings as they can do it from home in the middle of the bath if they so choose, but we would expect them to check in and answer the questions for that month only. I would be trying very hard not to charge anyone for this as I consider it too important.

I have the forum and it has some people on it, I now need to take it to the next step and get more people and also some willing victim volunteer to take on the task of being the first authors to take on the public in this manner. I do have some ideas for who I could ask but have decided to open it up to volunteers. Here is the address of the forum if you want to check it and sign up now you can.

I’m hoping that by raising our homegrown authors profiles and making them more accessible to the general public then people will be more inclined to buy their books rather than imported ones.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Posted on 14 February 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , |

Why Buffy is good. I know I’m going to have a hard time convincing those people who aren’t hard core Buffy fans and I have some friends in that category, their teenage daugther is a Buffy fanatic and they’re trying to stop her watching. I really wish them luck.

Buffy fans are world wide. I am constantly surprised when I come across Buffy fans who are otherwise quite rational people. I came across this article on the web a while ago and bookmarked it specifically for this blog as it is just amazing. The interviewee is constanly trying to convert people to Buffy and some of her arguments are very convincing. Her husband says the guys on Buffy are great as they are just young guys and not villains, they just behave as young guys should at that age. The interviewee’s arguments are even more compelling. Gail Collins…let’s actually give her name…argues that Buffy doesn’t rely on a man and when that man turns out to be dangerous she doesn’t beat about the bush she actually deals with him. In that respect Buffy is a great role model for all those women who have been beaten by their partners as she just doesn’t put up with any nonsense.

My thoughts on Buffy are more to do with teaching teenagers how to deal with life. Buffy spends a great deal of time doing all the things that teenagers do, they hang around with friends, fall in love, fall out love, spend time trying to outwit the parents, they angst about relationships, they shop for clothes and then spend time trying to find the right outfit for that day (or date with their significant other) and sometimes even do their homework. Some of them also spend a lot of time figuring out their sexuality either trying to work it into their everyday lives or hiding it from everyone. Each episode deals with one or more of these issues and you get to see that Buffy is just a normal teenager with normal friends who are all trying to be normal. Yes, Buffy has a job that she can’t tell anyone about, but on the other hand so many teenagers have jobs after school and in that respect she’s no different. She’s trying to juggle a social life with a job with school, with teachers who are giving her a hard time, with parents who are really worried and trying to understand, with homework…and sometimes she drops the ball on something. Her friends are also really normal and are trying to be friends and help her with whatever they can, they also try to have a social life and keep up with homework, school, family etc.

Actually, the one thing that you never see on Buffy or any of her friends are pimples. You see them having bad hair days, bad clothes days (rarely) but I don’t recall a single pimple.

I was quite interested to find someone has written a book about Buffy and why she matters. It won the Bram Stoker Award a couple of years ago in the Nonfiction Horror category. Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Rhonda Wilcox. I should read it and see how it travels with my thoughts on Buffy.

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A couple of websites

Posted on 12 February 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , |

Just a little post today as it’s been a rather busy day and I’d like to get to bed soon. It’s almost 11pm so I think I’m justified.

Kelly is a friend I know from a forum on a popular online auction site. She has just started a new blog and one of her first posts is very interesting. She found a book at a book fair with an inscription inside and decided it was appropriate to return it to the family. She posted about it on the forum at the time she found it and only received encouragement to find and return the book. You can read her story here.

I only heard about Good Reads today and I’ve already joined up. It seems like a great way to find new books and connect with other readers. It was very interesting to read their lists of books and to tick which ones I’d read and which I wanted to read. I’d already read most of the science fiction list and only one of the chick lit. I’m sure it says everything about the types of books I read.

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