Catacomb Categories
The slight problems with the shopping cart are still continuing. In the meantime if you want any of the following types of part-work magazines please email me on and we'll complete the transaction offline: Cordon Bleu, Show Me How, Two Hundred Years, Warplane, Book of Life, Mind Alive, Golden Hands either Dressmaking or Crafts, or Robert Carrier.

Friday Photos

Stealing petrol is a crime and so should be typos on large places such as this. Can you spot the problem?

Stealing petrol is a crime and so should be typos on large places such as this. Can you spot the problem?

Knowing when to use the right spelling of 'your' or 'you're' can sometimes be a challenge but using both one after the other?

Knowing when to use the right spelling of ‘your’ or ‘you’re’ can sometimes be a challenge but using both one after the other?

Since we're concentrating on spelling at the moment I thought I'd put in a picture of a book about spelling.

Since we’re concentrating on spelling at the moment I thought I’d put in a picture of a book about spelling.



Letters from Burma – Aung San Suu Kyi

Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

This book is a series of letters Aung San Suu Kyi wrote from her home in Burma (now Myanmar) during 1996. It is both a beautiful and worrying read. The author has a lovely turn of phrase using words I’ve never used.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the Chairperson/General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) a political party formed in 1988 to contest the 1990 elections. It won hands down but the military junta disallowed the results and continued to rule the country keeping Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of the members of the NLD and their supporters in terror of their lives and security. We’ve seen what this is like from outside Letters from Burma shows us what it was like from the inside.

The author deliberately shows us the country and the people, telling us how lovely the people are and how much they deserve peace and a government which rules by the law rather than by terror. She shows us how she copes with being under house arrest and tells us that she is living a normal life although what is normal when you’re under house arrest, your power may go at any time and you’re constantly and consistently worried about all your family and friends as you don’t know when they’ll be arrested.

Prison life was dreadful and if you happened to become ill in prison you risked picking up some other disease as the medical people would only give you half the injection and then use it on someone else. Apparently HIV was one of those diseases that spread.

We do see some of the celebrations that were held, Thingyan is given to us as a present in much detail and sounds great fun. It is a water festival and the author talks us through how it is celebrated and how people become quite drenched while being incredibly cheerful about it. It’s something you really have to read.

The illustrations at the beginning of each letter are quite gorgeous. I think they’re either pencil or charcoal and they give some idea of the beauty of the people and a good idea of something from each letter. The one of the baby is quite sweet and you can see how the nappy is put on quite differently to the way we do it here in Australia.

Anyway, enough from me, go and buy the book; you won’t regret it.

Mondayitis – The Wolf

I found the three little pigs most unfriendly. I was so hungry and they wouldn’t let me into their houses.

They built lovely looking houses but I was just soooo hungry. The first little pig built a house of straw thinking that would keep me out but he was so wrong, I huffed and I puffed and that house blew down so quickly. The little pig ran off so quickly I couldn’t catch him, it didn’t help that I was rather puffed from huffing and puffing. He twinkled off on his little toes to the house made of sticks.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but they wouldn’t do anything for the hunger gnawing at my innards. I think I’ll just follow that little pig to the house made of sticks.

Little pig, little pig, let me come in. If you don’t let me come in and feed me I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!

What I’m not telling the little pigs is what I plan on eating when I’ve blown this little house of sticks down. They wouldn’t let me so I’m huffing and puffing some more.

I’m getting really huffed and puffed out with this little house. It seems to be ever so much more sturdy than the house made of straw. Just give me a hand here and give me a little more puff…thank you, that was ever so useful.

Why ever did they do that? Both little pigs ran so fast to the last little house made of bricks and I was so huffed out I just could not catch them.

Here I go again.

Little pig, little pig, let me come in. If you don’t let me come in and feed me I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!

So I’m calling again at this lovely little house. It’s looking much more sturdier than the house of straw and the house of sticks put together. You’ll need to give me some more huff and puff than before.

What!! You won’t help me this time!!! What sort of an audience are you??? I’ll just do it on my own, I coped fine with the house made of straw.

So I huffed, and I puffed and I huffed and puffed again but that house just wouldn’t come down. The three little pigs were secure inside the house. Aha! The chimney! I’ll just sashay over to that there chimney and climb down the inside.

Aaaoooooooooooooooooooo!!! I’m burned, why did they put a fire in the chimney??? Don’t they know chimneys are for going down and not for starting fires. I’m off to find some food somewhere else. Maybe that little girl is still taking trips through the forest to her Grandma.

News, or olds, from the web

Shakespeare is an interesting phenomena, played throughout the world in so many different languages, studied in so many different schools but do we ever get the real plays? Linguist David Crystal and his actor son, Ben, tell us we lose so much by hearing/reading Shakespearian plays in modern accents. Go here to watch how the words should be pronounced and therefore to find the plays on words we’ve missed. Don’t even ask me how Shakespeare can be translated.

I was saddened the other day to hear of the passing of the author of the Adrian Mole books. Sue Townsend was only 68 and at work on her tenth Adrian Mole book when she suffered a fatal stroke. I feel the cutting short of Adrian Mole’s life characterises both Mole’s life and also real life, we don’t necessarily finish everything we start and life finishes when it does…generally without notice. She was a wonderful author managing to convey Mole very nicely. She will be missed, vale.

J K Rowling is moving into a different phase of her career, she’s going to be a guest editor on the Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. She’s going to be the first guest editor for 60 years. I have this feeling she’s going to challenging people a little.

Talking about life changes, I found this article on a Mongolian girl who is challenging the status quo and hunting using golden eagles an occupation generally held by males. She looks so at home with the bird. Not only that but I love how they let the eagles go while they’re still able to procreate and have a normal life.

Slow Reading Movement

Just like the Slow Food Movement we’ve now got a Slow Reading Movement. Both ideas make a great deal of sense. Slow Food is all about going back to the way we used to cook with real ingredients and real cooking, none of these additives or microwaves. Slow Reading is about training your brain to be able to read a whole book.

Apparently with this internet age we tend to skip through lots of details looking for only those bits we need to read about immediately, a bit like Google with search engine optimisation we’re looking for keywords, this is exacerbated by social media such as Twitter, which can only take 140 characters, so we’re looking for short sentences which may or may not be constructed properly and the brain is being trained to deal with things in short bursts. I don’t know what this will mean in the future when everyone is only able to read in very short Twitter bursts but at the present it means some people are starting to have trouble reading a whole book.

Take Pip for example, she tells us in her blog that Books Are Not Made of Tabs and that she’s struggling to maintain the concentration needed for a whole book. She has several books on the go at one time and switches between them as the need takes her. Or even Claire who scans novels looking for keywords.

When I first started selling online we were told we only had a few seconds in which to get our buyer’s attention, I forget what it was but I think it was seven seconds and we had to ensure our photos were able to load very quickly, this was back in 2006 and I endeavoured to have my photos load in less than three seconds, things have changed somewhat as the internet is far more advanced and photos download much faster now but I know with my own browsing I’m out of that website in no time flat if there’s nothing of interest.

One thing I’ve noticed and have mentioned before is our novels are getting bigger. Go to the bookshop and have a look at old books and new books, you’ll find the one most recently published are that much thicker and it’s not the paper but the words, newly published books have far more words than before. I’m wondering how this works and if people really do have the attention span to cope with a whole large novel.

I’m sure I have plenty more to say but it’s Passover tonight and I’m only cooking for 11 so I’d better get out of here and into the kitchen. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Friday Photos

Jeffrey's Bookshop in Malvern Road, Malvern. I'd forgotten they were there and didn't have time to pop in to see what their specialty is...another time.

Jeffrey’s Bookshop in Malvern Road, Malvern. I’d forgotten they were there and didn’t have time to pop in to see what their specialty is…another time.

I love Syber's Bookshop. They have two, this is the one in Chapel Street, Windsor. Again, with no time to pop in and take photos of all their science fiction and fantasy.

I love Syber’s Bookshop. They have two, this is the one in Chapel Street, Windsor. Again, with no time to pop in and take photos of all their science fiction and fantasy.

These are the books on my desk today. Some are for sale while others need to go back on my shelf.

These are the books on my desk today. Some are for sale while others need to go back on my shelf.



Isaac Asimov

Mr Asimov, sir, I apologise for missing the anniversary of your death four days ago, I know, it is totally unforgivable and I should be whipped across the ears with some of your words but not too many as you wrote far too many of them.

I know more of your science fiction writing than any other but you are also famous for having written many non-fiction books on science and also some on the Bible. I just happen to have one on my desk and here it is:

Would You Believe? by Isaac Asimov

Would You Believe? by Isaac Asimov

You were prolific as a writer and sometimes put yourself into your own works and I have to admit to not liking that at all. I have many fond memories of snuggling down into a warm bed to read yet another of your books, the science generally went way above my head as that is not my forté but I enjoyed a rollicking good tale sometimes of adventure and derring do and other times of some other nature. One thing I particularly enjoyed which comes through in my writing is your science fiction predictions and gadgets, sometimes you’re been right and other times not quite so right but you were always entertaining and challenging my thoughts of the world around me.

While I have read many of your works I suspect it will be very much a challenge to read them all and still fit in all my other reading, you’ve been most prolific and I use that word many times with you. You’ve written or edited more than 500 books and about 90,000 letters, if I were able to read one of those books a week it would take me a year and a half to complete the task.

Mr Asimov, you’ve been such a big influence in both the science fiction writing world and the music world with Paul McCartney approaching you asking for assistance in writing a science fiction movie musical. You’ve also been accused of knowing everything, when Kurt Vonnegut asked how you felt about it you had the courtesy to reply ‘uneasy’ and for that bit of humility I thank you.

You led a decent life, writing and educmating many, many people. You were a good influence on so many science people and some of your predictions have come true. Accused of having been the first to use the word ‘robot’ your thoughts of robots are coming true and one day I hope to have one in my home who I may call Isaac.

Hot off the presses…

Well, no, not really as that’s not how I roll but it makes a great headline. I’ve just now signed up for My Independent Bookshop, it’s a lovely new invention currently in beta form and I’ll be able to showcase my favourite books as and when I choose. As it was launched in beta format two days ago and is in testing mode for the next month I promise I won’t hold my breath until I get my very own bookshop but I will keep you posted.

You can read the press release about it here. Supported by Terry Pratchett it’s going to be the window to a booksellers soul. In there we’ll be able to bare our innermost thoughts about our books (actually, I’m making some of this up but don’t let that worry you) and share them with everyone who cares and even those who don’t.

I have so many ideas for what sort of ‘window’ I’ll be able to display but I know I’ll forget them in a month’s time when they issue me with my details so I’m going to share some of my ideas here and now, I’ll come and update this list as I have more ideas.

My favourite authors, including:

Sir Terry Pratchett

Anne McCaffrey

Susan Cooper

Isaac Asimov

Tom Holt

Judy-Lynn del Rey

My favourite genres:


Science fiction


Book covers:

Pulp fiction


Del Rey



Mondayitis – Firestar

I knew I’d done something wrong. Wrong. When I found myself in the swamp. Swamp. Bootleby didn’t understand his Master Piece included killing me.

I’m tired, old and tired and I figured it was time for me to go but Beetleby missed that connection and sent me to the swamp instead. Mr Clickfinger is good, definitely better than me so I know I will leave my tower in good hands, or would have if he’d understood I was trying to kill him and he should fight fire with fire. Fire.

We can’t have too many wizards in the one area, it’s far to dangerous. Dangerous. It is time for me to go and for Bartleby Lightfinger (there, you see, I do know his name and can get it right when I choose) to take my tower but he always was obtuse. Obtuse.

There are events afoot in the kingdom of Trimador, events that need a young, first-class wizard, Bootleby should be that wizard. I can’t say much or it would spoil the book for you.

Dwarves in Space by Damian Perry

Dwarves in Space by Damian Perry

The Story Moves On

I’m happily reading one of my childhood favourites when I suddenly realise how nicely the author has moved the story onwards. I loved The Borrowers as a child, it has one of those magical qualities about it and when I found two sequels in an op shop recently I had to buy them, I used The Borrowers Afloat for Mondayitis recently and am currently reading The Borrowers Aloft.

The Borrowers Aloft by Mary Norton

The Borrowers Aloft by Mary Norton

This book follows on almost immediately from The Borrowers Afloat and they now reside in Little Fordham, a little railway town built in Mr Pott’s backyard. Mr Pott doesn’t care for making money but likes Little Fordham for its own sake while Mr and Mrs Platter have built their own model village to make money. When Mr and Mrs Platter find out The Borrowers have inhabited Little Fordham they devise a plan to kidnap the little people and install them in their own model village as a show piece.

Point 1

What Norton does is to tell us the kidnapping plan by having Mr and Mrs Platter talk it through with the chapter finishing with them going out to their little village to practice it.

Point 2

The next chapter shows Mr Pott and his friend, Miss Menzies, talking about the Clock family (The Borrowers’ name) and how they haven’t seen hide nor hair of them for three days. Mr Pott and Miss Menzies take the extreme step of opening up Vine Cottage to find it empty of people and in a slight disarray as if they’ve gone very quickly, they also realise how drab the cottage is and make plans for brightening it up and installing things useful to the Clocks.

Point 3

This is followed up by taking us into the loft of Mr and Mrs Pott and seeing the Clock family and how they’ve coped with being kidnapped and how they then get control over their own lives again.


Norton has cleverly moved the story on by putting these three points in order. They’re written down quite succinctly with few extraneous words and we understand quite nicely how things have happened without a rehash of the kidnapping from each different point of view. The author hasn’t detailed the kidnapping in multiple chapters as would have happened in other books but you still understand exactly the events and how they affect each person. One of the things I find challenging in today’s books is they’re all big and they have so much detail, I understand some people like and need big books but not everyone does and small books are easier for some readers to read. I could easily give any of The Borrowers books to a primary school child to read and most of them would have the skills but to give them Harry Potter would be quite daunting and those books need a higher level of reading skill as well as far greater stamina.

Newsletter Sign Up