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Looking back

This is a time when many bloggers write about their year to summarise  how they’ve gone and the only one I can find quickly is Deb who’s done her favourite novels of 2014. I would have liked to have found a couple of lifestyle blogs and more book blogs but this is it for today. Funnily enough I don’t have much time. I don’t get what it is about this time of year but things get incredibly busy even for people who don’t actually celebrate Christmas…very strange. I currently have two days to get a million and one things done and that includes writing eight or nine articles, these may or may not get done so articles may become a bit sparse until the new year. We do have a treat to look forward to on the 30th December as Karen has been kind enough to write a Mondayitis for me.

Looking back to the past year.

I was given a ticket to a book conference in Sydney by Penguin Random House.

Had an awesome time at said book conference, pity it was only one day.

The follow up to that book conference was the beginning of an organisation called Book Bloggers Australia, we have a directory and a forum.

Lots of book reviews and as I don’t notate them in an easily countable place I’m not going to figure out how many.

Lots of fabulous books. This includes reviewing for publishers whereby they send me ebooks and I write what I think about them. I recently received a print copy of Angels of Death by Emily Webb which I’ll take on holidays with me.

Lots of proofreading for friends. I wonder at what point I should start pretending to be professional and start charging for it.

Lots of lovely new friends.

Corrupting people’s taste buds with Ginger Ale. I’ve had some horrible markets I shouldn’t have bothered getting out of bed for and others I wish I’d taken more stock.

Working hard on my SendOutCards business. I’ve been doing business expos and doing a lot of talking. Finding out about other people’s businesses is exciting work.

Then add in keeping up with family and friends, I’ve had a busy year. I don’t put much about my family here but they’re all getting older…challenging as I’m still 18.


Please have a safe time these holidays. I’ve seen some absolutely stupid driving on the roads already, I keep wondering why we’ve had so few accidents but I know that will change. Do your best to have defensive driving and watch out for idiots who only drive a few times a year, or people who don’t know their road rules, or others who forget they’re not the only one in a hurry.

If you see someone texting and driving I suggest you toot them loudly to bring their eyes back on the road.

Friday Photos

I was in the library the other day, strange place to find books but there you are. Borrowed some junior fiction for Mondayitis and was offered every possible brochure for young children they had. The librarian was a bit non-plussed when I said I don’t have kids (I meant young kids but it worked) and relaxed when I mentioned my blog. I probably shouldn’t have explained and just left her in the dark. Anyway…the next two photos are of their display cabinet.

Braille typewriter

A braille typewriter. I presume they mix and match the keys to get the raised dots. As there are only two columns and three rows of dots they may not need too many keys.

Learning to read

This shows how they do illustrations in braille books/magazines. The top left is a 3D image of the bicycle which they put underneath the paper and then move something over the top to push the paper up. I like the octopus at the bottom.

A little more about braille as it’s so fascinating. In Prahran there is a Braille Library which is heritage listed. One day I’ll be driving past and actually have time to stop and take a photo, if they’re open I may even pop in and see what’s inside.

Like any language other than English there are books written in and about braille. I’m linking to a couple on Booktopia, I was hoping to give you both children’s and adult books but it seems they mostly have books about Louis Braille and teaching/learning Braille. This first is a children’s book about Louis Braille the man who invented the language, it’s a lovely book and includes the letters on the back cover so children can get some idea of how it works, not one I’ve reviewed but I have read it. This one is about teaching Braille and I show it to you for information only not because I expect you to buy it and give me lots of commission.

Dont Panic

Loved this sign on a truck. As you’re aware if you are too close to a truck and can’t see their mirrors then they can’t see you to avoid you if they need to reverse. This sign made it clear they could see you as they have a camera, don’t ask me where it is, I spent a couple of minutes behind it at a red light and couldn’t spot it.

G is for Hugo Gernsback

In today’s issue of Authors by Alphabet I’m taking a brief look at Hugo Gernsback.

Gernsback was an amazing man. He started the pulp fiction title of Amazing Stories thereby bringing science fiction to life. Gernsback is the person responsible for the phrase ‘science fiction’ and used it despite preferring the word ‘scientifiction’. If it wasn’t for him so many science fiction writers and readers wouldn’t be doing what they do now. Unfortunately, he wasn’t always a nice person and didn’t necessarily pay his writers.

One of the many awards you’ll hear of is the Hugo Awards. They started life as the Annual Science Fiction Achievement Award and were presented at WorldCon in 1953, again in 1955 and every year thereafter. Their nickname was the ‘Hugo Awards’ until 1992 when it was accepted as the official name. Yes, named after Hugo Gernsback. He was that influential they felt it important to have awards named after him.

Looking on my bookshelf I found this book by Isaac Asimov. Containing three years worth of Hugo Award winners with brilliant authors:

Anne McCaffrey
Philip Jose Farmer
Fritz Leiber
Harlan Ellison
Robert Silverberg
Poul Anderson
Samuel R. Delany

When these were announced I wonder if people knew they’d become household names?

The Hugo Winners 1968-1970 edited by Isaac Asimov

The Hugo Winners 1968-1970 edited by Isaac Asimov

Not really known for his writing, I did find several copies of his book Ralph 124c 41+ for sale on Booktopia and chose the cheapest for you. Here is a small selection of some of his publications:

Air Wonder Stories
Amazing Stories
Everyday Science and Mechanics
Facts of Life
Know Yourself
Modern Electrics
Radio and Television
Radio Review
Science and Invention
Science Fiction Plus
Science Wonder Quarterly
Television News
Your Body

A fairly eclectic selection of publications. I can’t tell you if these cover his interests or if he just had ideas of what would grab the public eye and mind.

Aren’t you finished, yet?

Found an article which totally captivated me so you get a few words on it. The fact that when I came to write I lost most of what I wanted to say is totally irrelevant.

Ebooks can tell which novels you didn’t finish

It’s not just the article which talks about the software transmitting data back to the publishers telling them what books you’ve downloaded and how far you’ve made it through the book but also the comments. There are some of the usual conspiracy theories but also so much more.

Let’s look at little at the article.

It turns out that the most read book isn’t even recommended by people ‘in the know’. Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch which was given away on ebook for £1 was only completed by 44.4% of Kobo’s British readers. Yes, this won a Pullitzer but that doesn’t mean people will read it as evidenced by this data.

I’m going to interrupt myself to point out this article is published in The Guardian and therefore British based so all stats are skewed towards them rather than Australian or even worldwide. It would be interesting to see what the worldwide stats are. And I’d love to know about the Australian statistics to find out what Australian readers are doing with Australian books.

“Rotten to The Core by Casey Kelleher was the most completed book in the UK, with 83% of people reading it cover to cover,”

Looking at this quote we find that self-published authors have just as much chance of becoming best sellers and possibly even most finished than authors published by traditional publishers.

Now if you read the comments you can find the usual numbers of people suggesting you should rip the DRM (Digital Rights Management, or what makes it possible for epublishers to stop the books from being shared between people) and reading the ebook on whatever device you choose. You’ll find mention on the point of privacy and discussion on how the data is sent back to the epublisher. Nothing too in-depth but I found the whole lot quite interesting.

Just to finish off I’m providing a link to a “Reader’s Bill of Rights“. It seems a little strange that we have to have this stuff written down and I really prefer the last one

The right to not defend your tastes

which I’ve put in quotes here as I feel it’s most important. One should not have to defend what one reads. When I pick up junior fiction from the library I’m offered information for my ‘kids’ and when I tell them it’s for my blog they back off and look impressed but why should I have to mention it in the first place?

Mondayitis – The Walnut Tree

From little things big things grow. I was but a walnut when Lizzie brought me from the country to plant me in London. It will be some time before I do more than sprout a shoot above the ground but when I have grown I will be a force to be reckoned with. Lizzie knows I will be beautiful and useful, I will produce walnut meat for eating.

Lizzie spoke to me of her problems and fears. She must be very brave to leave her Mama in the country to live with her cousins in London. The house is so much bigger than she is used to, there are many more people living here.

Lizzie spoke to me of being scared of Uncle William. It came as quite a surprise when he promptly leapt to her side and took her on a visit to the country to see her Mama. Her Mama’s letters had stopped completely worrying Lizzie greatly, when she finally spoke to her cousins about it they took her to their parents who counselled patience and a letter. Uncle William could see Lizzie was greatly distressed and took her back to the country the very next morning.

On their return they brought Lizzie’s Mama back with them. Lizzie was scared and nervous of Uncle William prior to that but they spoke on the journey and Lizzie began to understand. He had been nursed by the celebrated Florence Nightingale herself during his convalescence in the Crimean War.

From a small discussion about Lizzie’s Mama not writing letters to the upheaval of the household when little Johnny was born followed by Clara nursing him through his fever, Clara may in time enrol in Florence Nightingale’s nursing school. From little things big things grow.

Lizzie's Wish by Adele Geras

Lizzie’s Wish by Adele Geras


Ed: Booktopia have this book at a reasonable price. It’s a good way of learning about some of the aftermath of the Crimean War and a little about Florence Nightingale, it prompted me to google her and her methods.

Loyal Creatures – Morris Gleitzman

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

For me this book is one of those love/hate ones. I loved the writing style, the people within its pages but I hated them going to war and I hated their treatment of the horses afterwards.

Let me go back to the beginning and tell you what the book is about.

It’s set in Australia and Egypt in 1914. Frank is too young to volunteer for the war effort but he really wants to go, his father has promised Frank’s mother neither of them will go to war until Frank is 18 but when he receives a white feather things change. They volunteer for the Light Horse and take their horses with them, not knowing the horses never come back.

A beautifully written book, very nicely put together. In this book Gleitzman subscribes to the show don’t tell theory and does it very nicely. We only find out our protagonist’s name when people talk to him. I got it from the Junior Fiction section of the library and Booktopia have it referenced under children and young adult. Seeing as we’re now 100 years from the time this book is set and working on a lot of commemorative events for World War I this book is very timely. I suggest parents read it with children to help them cope with the tears and emotions when the horses are put down at the end (sorry for the spoilers).

That’s the love, now to the hate.

I hate the white feather. I am disgusted at the way society shamed men into going to war by sending white feathers. War is bad enough but to make people go by telling them they’re cowards is just horrible. I believe war should be outlawed but that’s just me.

I hated the way men took their horses with them, their best friends, and only found out at the end these loyal creatures who really didn’t understand what was going on were going to be sold or shot and not brought back home. The horses were incredibly brave, putting up with travelling by boat to a different hemisphere, putting up with different weather, sand storms and the like, and then being shot at or bayoneted in battles. Their payment was not to travel home and be quarantined for six months before going home with their men but to either be sold into even more horrible situations or shot.

Going back to the love.

I loved the way Gleitzman handled each of my hates. It wasn’t the book or the writing I object to but the situations behind each one, the situations that led Gleitzman to write this book. He’s handled each one fairly openly and in a straightforward manner. I love the way he brings Frank and his fellow soldiers around to the idea that their horses won’t be repatriated, he does it with feeling and in such a way that you understand how each soldier feels…I can see children in tears at this but it just gives you an opportunity to address these issues.

Friday Photos

Pratchett at Elwood

Why do you think I’m obsessed with Terry Pratchett? I don’t understand that thought you’re having…

Setting up

The book guy at Elwood Primary School Market was thrilled to the back teeth when I took photos of his stock while he was setting up. He happily told the next person who came to talk to him he’d be on the internet. He’s got a good selection of books and is quite approachable. As he’s in the hall you’ll find him there every market. Elwood Primary runs their market the first Saturday morning of the month during term time.

Title Book shop

I was doing a demo in Brunswick this week, walking to get ice I found this book shop. Called Title you can find them in Fitzroy, Brunswick, two locations in Sydney and also one in Brisbane. They always have a lovely display.

F is for Philip Jose Farmer

Philip Jose Farmer didn’t write easy material, his Riverworld series illustrates that to me. Based on a world fairly similar to our Earth but with an incredibly long river, everyone who has ever lived wakes up at the same time. We have historic figures, nameless people and everyone in between. The series has lots of adult themes with battles and rapes galore. One idea which really captivated my mind was that no-one can die, or rather you can, but you then wake up the next morning. Each person wakes up with a grail next to them which contains food, towels and other things, this is put on a grailstone which fills them up at certain times every day.

Some Riverworld titles from my shelf.

Some Riverworld titles from my shelf.

Many of his other works contain similarly challenging ideas. He was commissioned to write pornographic novels at one point and produced three of them. Some have sex with aliens or females with heightened libidos.

All-in-all, I strongly suggest Farmer was ahead of his time with his ideas. His writing is quite strong and I’ve always found his characters reasonably believable. In his Riverworld books you can find Richard Francis Burton, a real life adventurer who also wrote about his adventures. Thanks to Riverworld I’ve downloaded one of Burton’s books which I shall continue to attempt to read in due course, it’s written in 19th Century English, a language I shall struggle with for some time.

I’ve focussed more on Riverworld as I couldn’t get involved with the World of Tiers series, I did try but it didn’t capture me as Riverworld did.

Just some miscellaneous books, either Philip Jose Farmer or introduced by him.

Just some miscellaneous books, either Philip Jose Farmer or introduced by him.

Strangely enough, Farmer died only two months before I started writing this blog. The Dungeon shown in this photo was actually written by Bruce Coville who I know from My Teacher is an Alien series of books. The series is introduced by Farmer and the books are written by several different authors using the psyche, the themes and the philosphy of Farmers works rather than imitating his writing style or using one of his worlds.

Booktopia has a number of his books for sale. This omnibus has the first of the World of Tiers book, the first Riverworld book and a stand alone space opera. Strange Relations is one of his more controversial books.

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What do you see?

Damian shared this jpg this week and it got me thinking.

Thank you to Patricia McLinn for the image

Then I read this article on Amazon and their delivery drones and this article on the future of used ebooks. It got me thinking more, much more.

If you believe the jpg then someone with a writer brain is someone who constantly thinks plot lines or situations found in books in every situation and that’s something I’ve done all my life without even trying. I remember the one time I tried sunbathing on a beach with friends, I was bored, the company was good but they were all reading magazines and I couldn’t concentrate on my book. There was a man sitting on a beach chair facing our general direction with headphones on (this was a long time ago and the headphones included a built-in radio). Suddenly I looked out to sea expecting to see a submarine surfacing, my spy brain was racing and I entertained all these theories as to who the guy was contacting on his headphones and where the microphone was…I shared some of this with my friends and they actually laughed.

The article about the drones had me thinking about a future whereby all small articles are delivered by drone with renegade youths shooting them out of the sky (I was chuffed to find this idea in the comments as well), this is actually a post-apocalyptic scenario in my mind. It would mean there would have to be lots of small warehouses holding this stock as the drones currently only have a 1km radius. But it would be great for delivering drugs and information, imagine if the programme Weeds had a delivery method of drones, that would really change the dynamics.

Or a future with used ebooks. I was picturing shops with no physical or actual stock but pictures and descriptions of the books and then ebooks with doggears and marks where people have marked passages they want to come back to. This would only be a scene in a book as even I can’t manufacture this into a whole book. Or…contraband ebooks! Or…used ebooks delivering drugs…

Somehow I suspect I should put my imagination away for the moment as it’s getting rather too silly for words.

So, what do you see when you read something like this?

Mondayitis – Bertie

Lewie is so good and I was so bad. I just couldn’t stay still on the bottom of the pyramid until…

Those men were bad news, Lewie knew it right from the start. Stopping them wasn’t going to happen it was how Lewie coped that was the issue.

Us lambs followed the titbits and ate, they were so nice but we didn’t know we were being taken into somewhere dark. Lewie woke up, followed the trail and found us. He got knocked out being thrown into the dark so all us lambs snuggled up to him to keep him warm. It was a big comfort to us being so close to him.

When he woke up we couldn’t get out. Suddenly Liberty and Ginger spoke from outside. Liberty is a wonderful escape artist but couldn’t reach to get us out, she talked us into trying a pyramid but I was so worried I couldn’t stay still. Lewie bent down and whispered into my ear,

You’re the best, Berties, my one and only anchor-lamb – and we need you. We’re a team, remember? In it to win it! I believe in you, Bertie.

That did it, we were able to make the pyramid and get ourselves out of the dark. We got back to our mothers and slept well. The next day we competed, did such a brilliant job we got more points than is possible! How could that be? We won, that’s all that matters. Couldn’t have done it without Lewie and his unshakable faith in me and my abilities. We were in it and we won it!

Llama Drama: In it to win it! by Rose Impey

Llama Drama: In it to win it! by Rose Impey

Ed: Loved this book. It’s all about being a team and having faith in one’s abilities. Booktopia have it for sale.

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