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The one, the original Book Expo Australia! Just for your delictation there will be a book expo focussing on so many bookish type things. 30th - 31st August 2014 at the Sydney Showgrounds. Go to their website for more details Book Expo Australia
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Friday Photos

Book shelf

Loved this book shelf so much but we don’t have room for it.

Museli

Slight problem with spelling here, see if you can spot it.

Walnut Halves

Can someone tell me what 50% whole halves could mean? I do have some ideas but I’d like confirmation.

Diversity. Headlines. Gah!

This article caught my eye and as I’m reading through it I was thinking a lot of gah! which is an untranslatable non-specific sound. So many issues in it and I’ll only skim the surface.

Diversity

Diversity is having lots of different types. You can have diversity in food, people or colours.

There are problems doing this in print as we only have some words and our imaginations. Unless the author specifies the colour of the skin or the colour of the hair or even the gender of the character then our imaginations are allowed to go wild. My imagination almost always thinks the character is white, male and upper-class English, I’m white, female and Australian so that stuffs up someone’s stereotypes in that we put ourselves into the book. I am often brought up short when the colour of a character’s skin or gender is mentioned unless I know from the start what they are and have been able to keep that in mind; problematic when I’m caught up in the story.

It’s a lot easier to do diversity in on screen as you can actually see the people, you can see the colour of their skin or their hair and if they have any physical disability. You are slightly limited by the writing and the actor’s ability to convince you of the nuances.

Headlines

Headlines can tell the story or detract from the story. The original headline in the article mentioned was Children’s Books ‘Have Too Many White Faces’ and after some complaints it was changed to “Call For More Ethnic Diversity In Kids’ Books”. The first is very blunt, bold and can be misinterpreted while the second is gentler and has less leeway for misinterpretation.

Gah!

The gah is because I had a fair idea of what I was going to write with this article but I was distracted and coming back an hour or so later I’ve lost the important bits. To help me out my aging memory I’m going to ask for your thoughts about diversity. How do you view a character when you’re reading?

Tumble Turns – Shane Gould

Tumble Turns by Shane Gould

Tumble Turns by Shane Gould

Shane Gould blazed her way into sporting history, breaking eleven world swimming records and winning five Olympic medals in Munich in 1972, yet her career lasted just three years. At 13, she became a household name; at 16, she retired and almost disappeared.

From her beginnings as a swimming prodigy up to the present, Tumble Turns is the moving and courageous story of Shane’s attempt to forge a normal life for herself and her family, far away from the trapping and temptations of sporting superstardom. It is the story of her tumble turns, her twists and changes of direction – from her swimming triumphs and the struggles of raising her children in the Western Australian bush, to marriage breakdown and her recent return to the media spotlight.

It has take Shane nearly 30 years to understand what her remarkable achievements have given her in personal terms, as well as the enormous cost to her and those close to her. Tumble Turns tells the story of those years and how her extraordinary experiences have contributed both to her acceptance of that young swimming phenomenon called Shane Gould, and of the woman she has become.

What can one say about Shane Gould that hasn’t already been said? And that’s exactly why I’m not going to say too much. This book stands on its own two feet (or flippers) and doesn’t need me to give you too many details.

Gould details her life from her early swimming days right until the ‘present’ in other words 2000. She holds no punches, telling us why she swims and why she’s good, why she married and why the marriage dissolved. This book should be read by every person intending to get into sport or business. I know, I’ve set the sights really high and things have changed dramatically since Gould got into swimming, partly thanks to her hard work, but there are so many pitfalls and she helps us understand them.

This book is nicely written, as I said before it holds no punches and details lots of places where people went wrong with the Olympic personnel. It helps me understand why I don’t like organised sport above school level. Gould shows us that everything is about winning and nothing about participating, that once you’ve got a gold medal you’re the star until the next person comes along and gets a gold. This is what I object to with professional sport be it The Olympics, Football, Soccer, Tennis or anything else where winning is the be-all-and-end-all. This book helped clarify my thoughts so now I have words to use when people tell me I have to love football.

Mondayitis – Blue VW

Okay, I admit it. Life is never dull when transporting a wizard on his crusade against the Nevernever. It isn’t exactly a Sunday picnic either. What with all the vampires and a mysterious man brandishing a sacred sword, it is a wonder my upholstery hasn’t been shredded more often. Honestly, I am getting too old for this.

Then there is Harry. Sometimes I think he is more dangerous. I never know when another part of me will fizzle out – or explode! It is not my fault my clock no longer works. Wizards have a way of playing havoc with my electrics. That is what Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is – a wizard; the only one in the yellow pages.  Unofficial Police paranormal consultant, he is under-worked and underpaid; always off somewhere, chasing the darker forces.

When I finally get to have some real fun kicking up some real speed – not bad for a girl in her fifties – Harry abandons me. I get nabbed by the cops and left to languish in the impound yard.

Harry’s lady cop friend, Murphy, came to the rescue. At least she has some respect for me. She paid to have me repaired.  I may be easy to fix but, hey, a new coat of blue paint would not go astray. My patchwork paintjob doesn’t exactly exude a professional appearance.

Now Harry is off chasing Nightmare ghosts. If it wasn’t for me, he would be left stranded and probably end up a ghost himself.

***

Karen J Carlisle is a writer of speculative fiction – mostly steampunk and fantasy. You can follow her blog at Purple Files or connect with her on twitter.

The Dresden Files: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

 

The Appearance of Truth – Rosemary J. Kind

The Appearance of Truth by Rosemary J Kind

The Appearance of Truth charts one woman’s search for identity. Following the death of both her parents, Lisa Forster has little idea of her family history, but it is only at the age of thirty, when she begins to research her family tree as part of a bet with her friend Pete Laundon, that she discovers that her birth certificate is really that of a baby who died at the age of four months old. She is faced with the questions of: Who is she? Why was she never told? And who was the baby?

As she begins to search for information with Pete’s help, Lisa faces one dead end after another. Do her answers lie in finding Uncle Laurence, the uncle that was never mentioned by her father? Or is the truth contained in the hunch of Matt Kirby, photographer with the Southingham Express?

Lisa’s story is intertwined with the moving tale of her parents and the baby whose birth certificate she has.

I accepted this book from Alfie Dog Fiction because the premise looked so intriguing. How could you not be who you think you are? How could this happen legally? Anyway, I can’t give you too much or it’ll be spoilers!

Basically, Lisa is all alone in the world, no parents, no other family and it’s the first anniversary of her mother’s death. She meets Pete, their friendship blossoms and they talk about their non-existent family, next thing they’re having a bet about who can find the most family. An interesting thing to bet on but I’ve seen sillier things; such as toad racing on Magnetic Island…I didn’t bet as the winner had to kiss the toad, tell me why I didn’t want to win?

Back to the book. It was nicely done. It was certainly an interesting journey and I enjoyed the ride, except for the romance but my friends know I’m not excited by romance. It took me three days to get through it sitting on the edge of my seat, I didn’t figure out the why or how until Kind showed us. I struggled to put it down.

Knowing a little about genealogy and how the search works I kept on wanting to email and tell them what to do but you can’t do that with books, for some strange reason. There was some basic stuff that didn’t happen but Lisa did find some family in Australia and that was exciting both for Lisa and me, the reader. I stress ‘reader’ and not ‘participant’ as there were too many occasions I wanted to step in.

One thing I enjoyed was Lisa’s displays of feminism and independence. Pete helps her with her search, he’s there almost the entire time so it feels natural for him to drive the car but should it be natural? Should the man drive the car and make the decisions as to the hotel or whose car to take? Lisa thinks not and that made me sit up a little more, it hadn’t occurred to me this could be a point of contention. It was good to see this kind of small point brought out into the open, feminism hinges on women being individuals and it not being taken for granted that the man does these things. Good stuff.

I look forward to another book by Kind.

Friday Photos

Today’s photos are brought to you from the kind people at Dymocks in Glen Waverley who somehow didn’t notice me wandering around taking photos until I walked up to the staff and admitted to being embarrassed.

Book rest

I love this Book Seat. I keep wondering how I can use one in bed, challenging as I take my glasses off to read in bed and I’m so short sighted I need the book no more than a few centimetres from my eyes but I’ll keep dreaming.

Everything I Need To Know

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. I love the title but I didn’t want to look inside in case it doesn’t match up the promise of the title.

Minecraft

Aaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!! Minecraft books!!!

Around the interwebs

Just a few of the articles I’ve been reading recently.

This one is about cover art and gives more detail and is better all round than my article which you can re-read, or not, as you choose. They’ve used the latest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as an example.  Their thinking is a little strange as the book is aimed at children and the cover art is aimed at adults but their logic isn’t too bad, sometimes you need to shock and I am certainly shocked. I don’t approve of dressing children as adults and you can see from the photo the child is very heavily dressed.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, a much loved book.

I’ve spoken about crowdfunding before and how much I love it. I’ve backed a few more things since then and have a lovely tea cup for Chinese tea and a mug for keeping my hot drink hot as well as music and ebooks. It’s always an exciting time receiving my reward as it generally happens some weeks or months after I put in my pledge and I’ve often forgotten. Julian Gough decided to look at crowdfunding to help fund his trip to Las Vegas for more research so he could finalise his book. It went beyond his thoughts (authors dream big) and instead of hoping for $1,500 he got $8,676. In return he needs to approach his doctor about removing some blood from his veins so he can write a postcard using this precious fluid, thank goodness he only had one backer for this but at $450 I’m not sure how many people would have the money. If Gough becomes famous then this written-in-blood postcard could potentially be worth a mint as there’s only one! He also has a large number of postcards he needs to put a bullet through and he intends to do each individually…that’s a lot of bullets.

I’ve put this next page in the Scriveners page as it’s really important. One day I’ll find the time to re-order and check the links on that page. Some of my thinking has changed dramatically since I wrote stuff and it needs to be fixed. Anyway, here’s what I wrote there:

Getting sales is sometimes a challenge and as you need to start marketing your book a couple of months before the release date having a pre-order function is an awesome idea. Kindle pre-order.

Sales are the life blood of every author, if you don’t get sales you don’t make money and you don’t feel good and therefore are less likely to write another book. If you can get sales happening before the book is even published then your marketing job is half done, once the book is sent to those keen readers, they’ll read it and hopefully recommend it. Lots of woot!

Murder in Mississippi – John Safran

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran

When filming his TV series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi’s most notorious white supremacisst. A year later, he heard that the man had been murdered – and what was more, the killer was black.

At first the murder seemd a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime? Seizing his Truman Capote moment, he jumped on a plane to cover the trial.

Over six months, Safran got deeper and deeper into the South, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder – white separatists, black campaigners, lawyers, investigators, neighbours, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime, and the world, seemed.

I thank Random House for putting this in my loot at the National Book Bloggers Forum, you can breathe easily now as it’s the last one I’ll review.

John Safran is well known for being brash, out there and doing things to get attention, he first came to everyone’s attention (apart from his family and friends) by appearing on Race Around the World running through the streets of Jerusalem wearing only a beanie and scarf from his favourite football team, St Kilda. Since then he’s made quite a reputation for himself for doing other strange stunts like this.

I was quite happy to read this book to see what his skills are really like, I finished it quite bemused and sometimes even amused. Safran is persistent, he knocks on doors, makes lots of phone calls and must have spent a mint on the murderer without ever actually speaking to him face-to-face. I suppose you’d have to be persistent to be a journalist, not that he is qualified as one but he mentions being a journalist several times.

What really troubles me about this book is that we learn much more about Safran than we do about the murderer, crime and deceased. Bear in mind we learn more about all three of those than we would from newspapers but not from internet sources, if you search Wikipedia for the deceased (Richard Barrett) you find a link at the bottom to his FBI files which could make fascinating reading. Safran refers to these FBI files on a few occasions. It’s meant to be a true crime book but there’s so much of Safran in it, we find out what he likes to eat, that he’s a dreadful housekeeper and he seems to be quite proud of these things, displaying them to us as he would display his fine china.

This is my first true crime book, I did expect to see far less of Safran and his investigations and more information about the crime, the murderer and the deceased. There is a lot of background in here, we get background to both the deceased and the murderer as well as learning quite a lot about the Deep South which is a white supremacist area.

 

Mondayitis – Towel

I don’t know why I always end up with Queenie. There are other towels. She always leaves me on top of the locker. This makes it hard for the manager. This year the manager is Sister Bear. She was not happy being manager. Sister Bear worked hard all year. She handed out drinks. She handed out towels. She collected balls. Sister Bear even handed out uniforms and collected them after the showers.
It was hard work. Getting me down from on top of the locker was hard too. sister Bear found the teasing so hard.
One day she got mad. She kicked everything in the showers before going outside and kicking the bucket. She kicked it all the way to the coach. Coach Brown was so impressed with her kicking she put her on the team! Sister Bear was so good at kicking, she kicked lots of goals.
Too Small For The Team

The Berenstain Bears: Too Small For The Team by The Berenstains

How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Daisy is sent to England from New York to live with her cousins for a perfect summer. There are four of them: Osbert, Isaac, Edmond and Piper. Three boys and a girl. And two dogs and a goat.

Daisy has never met anyone like them before. Especially Edmond.

This summer will change her life. It will change the world too.

I’m having so much trouble with this book, let me ramble for a while and you’ll see why.

Daisy is a troubled teen living in New York and not getting on with her father and step-mother, she’s attending lots of therapy and not eating much…read anorexia here. She’s sent to England to give her parents a break and, hopefully, give her some perspective in life. She’s met at the airport by her younger cousin who drove in without a licence. He drives her back, she’s introduced to her aunt who gives her some small amounts of information about her mother who died giving birth to her and then runs overseas for a conference about the possibly impending war. Daisy is left with her four cousins who are so different to what she could possibly imagine.

She falls in love with one cousin who seems to know what people are thinking and just when she’s feeling safe and happy for the first time in a long time the war starts. So, here is she is falling in love and having sex with her first cousin, they’re both under sixteen and I’m starting to have second thoughts about picking up this book.

The cousins are separated by gender and sent to different places. They survive, somehow, and make it back to the family farm but at different times. Daisy’s father brings her back to New York just before Edmond returns to the family farm. Anything more than that will be spoilers.

There is some awesome writing here about the surviving during war time, rationing, queuing for food, growing one’s own food and cooking with few ingredients. From that point of view it’s a great educational book as it helps to give perspective of what England must have been like during World War I and II.

England was occupied so we get some more information about occupation and how that would have affected the general populace and what happens when someone says the wrong thing with the occupying army around, Rosoff shows the potential consequences both to that person and to others connected to them.

We get some understanding of why teenagers might stop eating, either completely or just reduce to a minimal amount, and what they’re thinking during the process.

Then there’s the whole survival process. It’s not like The Hunger Games where it’s kill or be killed but more hiding out and trying to find enough food, food that won’t cause them problems, sleeping rough, planning ahead and so much walking. I can’t help thinking it’s good this was England, if a New Yorker was caught in the same situation in Australia they’d be as good as dead, we have too many opportunities for walking into a desert and too many things that can kill.

There’s a lot of awesome things in this book but romance always undoes me and the underage sex is certainly problematic. It takes me back to His Dark Materials where the two protagonists have to fall in love, have underage sex before separating for the good of their two lands. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. I understand it happens but I don’t have to approve. Just for the moment I’ll forget these two are first cousins so there’s the thought of incest added into the mix.

If you can look past those few things, or even look at them in context, then this is an awesome book. Hard to believe it’s Rosoff’s first book.

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