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Health

Having good health is something I’m not enjoying at present. We’ve all come down with a virus and finding the energy to stay upright for long enough to write I’ve decided to take a break for this week. I’ll see you all here again on Monday.

Friday Photos

Today’s photos have a story behind them.

Beatrix Potter

I weighed in on a conversation about the price of a pile of little Beatrix Potter books. As often happens on Facebook people shared their stories, Jodie happened to mention she had a little Peter Rabbit Book Shelf with most of the books, naturally I asked for a photo and if I could put it here for Friday Photos.

little books

A few moments later I came across this little gem of a photo by Tania. I’ve left her hand here for scale so you get some idea of how small and gorgeous these three books are.

Peter Rabbit and How I Grow

Just to complete the trio I took a photo of these two little books. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was given to me by my best friend, it would be lovely to make connection again. How I Grow by Chisachi Suehiro has a publishing date of 1968 and is so well read it’s falling apart but I have no memory of when I received it.

Book Bloggers – a home!

It’s been a momentous few days. 10 days ago we opened for business and already have 23 members! What rubbish could I possibly be spouting now? For a change, it’s not rubbish but useful stuff. I floated an idea with the book bloggers on our Facebook group a couple of months ago and we’ve ended up with Book Bloggers Australia. Basically, it’s a home for Australian book bloggers, a place you can call your own and connect with other like-minded bloggers.

I have nothing against other blogging organisations such as Digital Parents but everyone there seems to have a different focus to book bloggers. I’ve tried getting more readers doing some of the things they suggest and they don’t work for me. I’ve tried joining discussions on their forum and find the topics don’t fit my blog. Sharing these experiences with other book bloggers and I found like-minded people who also had issues with Digital Parents and ProBlogger. The focus with so many of their topics is to increase readers and money out of their blogs. This is so much harder with book blogging and needs to be looked at rather differently. This is why we needed our own organisation.

I’ve been inviting publishers and authors to join us too as they might be struggling to find the right blogger to review their book. I mean, there’s no point sending me a romance book as I’ll not bother doing more than reading the back cover and they’re not going to get any writing out of me.

We have a logo!

We have a logo!

The website is made up of two things: a Directory and a Forum. Marg was kind enough to let us have the information from her previous Australian Book Bloggers Directory so we’ve started off with a really good base of blogs.

If you’re a reader and haven’t had enough of book blogs try our Directory. Book Bloggers, authors and publishers should also go to the forum and sign up. Discussions are happening and I’m trying to add a different topic for thought every couple of days.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox – Mary E Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

Jenna Fox wakes from a coma following a devastating accident, her memory a blank. One day she can’t walk; the next she can. One day her right eyelid droops; the next it doesn’t. Her parents call her recovery a miracle – but at what cost has it come? What are they hiding from her? And why does her grandmother, Lily, hate her so?Who is Jenna Fox?

I picked this book up at random noting only that it looked interesting and that I hoped I’d be able to get a Mondayitis from it. I was blown away, totally. What a book this is! Set in the future when we have a product that can be used to make appendages look completely real and work almost perfectly, not just limbs but also organs such as livers and kidneys. But how do we know when this is to be used and when not? How do we know when a person has lost too much? As it turns out there’s a points system.

‘Well, one way is point values,’ she says. ‘Everyone gets a lifetime maximum of one hundred points. My limbs, for instance. The implanted digital technology to work with the prosthetics is very low point value. Sixteen points for all of them. But a heart – that’s worth thirty-five alone. Throw in lungs and kidneys and you’re at ninety-five points.’ Says Allys.

Jenna’s accident was very severe and she was left with 10% of her, she was expected to die as she had too many points to use this product, Bio Gel. But, her father is the inventor of Bio Gel and managed to pull enough strings to get her revived. It’s not what you know but who, in this case.

There are some extremely big ethical questions in this book. Should Jenna have been revived? If we have the technology should we use it? What is the cut off point of humanity?

There are so many ethical questions in this book, all raised in such a way that they’re mostly easy to understand. It’s an excellent jumping off point for teens or young adults, easy to read but packing a huge punch.

Mondayitis – Jeff

They were plucky, I have to say that for them. They walked miles and miles with just the track to guide them. If the rains had come a day earlier the track would have been washed out and they’d be lost. Plucky.

They turned up one day looking rather bedraggled, Sylvie looked far younger than I but Mum soon took her in hand making her a dress and helping with her hair. She scrubbed up well. I certainly enjoyed having her around after they’d been to the police station. I like my brothers but seeing a friendly girl around was nice.

Reg was a little different. He had a feel for the animals, never having worked with sheep before he watched me carefully and got them out of the mud well. Wasn’t happy when he lied about his age so he could shoot but at least his aim was straight. Despite all of that none of us were happy when he was sent to reformatory school, there was good in him especially with animals.

The Min-Min by Mavis Thorpe Clark

The Min-Min by Mavis Thorpe Clark

Double Take – Annette Siketa

I have been sitting on this book for a few days, not literally but metaphorically. I was caught by the extra commas in the first few paragraphs and that held me back, much concentration was required in order to get past them and into the book. Even then I struggled. I think the author shows promise, by the time I was through the book I had rethought whether I could actually write anything about it several times, the plot wasn’t entirely clear which I thought good but there were no loose ends everything was tidied up completely and thoroughly.

Anyway, here’s the synopsis.

Who is killing little old ladies at a quaint seaside hotel – and why?  Enigmatic grandma Mrs Ada Harris investigates, but watch out nana, not everyone is who they claim to be.

***

Mrs Ada Harris and Mrs Florence Brown have been friends for over 65 years.  For the majority of that time, Ada has been keeping a secret that only the ‘Clean 4U Agency’ – which somewhat curiously, is not listed in any phone book, knows about. Ada is advised to take a holiday.  She arrives at The Sea Bridge Hotel only to find that the recent deaths of solicitor Alistair Walsh and spinster Mirabelle Davenport, remain unsolved. Using well-practised techniques and a few ‘tricks’ of her own, Ada questions the main players, but can she get to the truth?

I’m not quite sure whether Ada Harris is a secret spy or a secret detective. With the information in the synopsis she should be a spy but in this book she does things a spy doesn’t do and then why does she need to be so secretive? It’s a combination of a spy book and a detective book and I’m not sure it works for me.

Siketa does have some writing skills, I’d suggest she take more lessons in how to get the information across to the reader without huge dumps of information. In the first half of the book she had Ada Harris thinking a lot and we got the benefit of her thoughts but it felt like too much at once. At least I was able to finish this book, it reminded me of another book I couldn’t finish partly due to the large amounts of descriptive text, Double Take was better in that respect, more sophisticated.

I could have stopped at any time and chosen not to review it but there was something there keeping me going. Did she really die of knitting needles to the heart? And if not, how? I’ve actually forgotten the answer to that so I’m not going to reveal any spoilers. Who was really who and why…? The one thing I should have asked myself is why the odd behaviour? I’m kicking myself about that one but at least I was right about the pranks.

I’ve been told her other books are better so it’d be interesting to see if they were right. It’s possible this isn’t the genre for her and that other genres suit her better.

You can buy this book here, ebooks can be shipped anywhere in the world (funnily enough) but paperbacks onto to the UK. Yes, they gave me a copy to read and review.

Friday Photos

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I thought this bumper sticker was cute. I didn’t want to try it out though.

I went into an op shop yesterday. They expanded their bookshelves some months ago so it’s an exciting place to walk into. I didn’t take photos but they have lots of science fiction and fantasy including a goodly number of Anne McCaffrey which I didn’t buy.

 

2014-07-17 14.25.08

This looked fascinating. I should have looked closer and taken a better photo than through the window.

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I did look closer at this and even bought it so you’ll hear more about it at some later stage.

Cookbook Collector

Just a random photo with an interesting selection of books. Not sure why the word interesting comes up so much when I’m looking at books.

Home

Around about the time I went to Sydney for the National Book Bloggers Forum at Penguin Random House I was thinking we really needed a group for book bloggers. If they could get 50 people there in the space of a few weeks then how many book bloggers are there in Australia? I don’t know the answer to that one but the figures I’m looking at are 300 and growing, at present I have 287.

How can you be so precise?

Yes, I can hear you. I’ve ended up as part of the administration of a new website in Australia. It consists of a directory of book bloggers and a forum with whatever resources we consider useful, one of those is a calendar of bookish events and I’ll be uploading some of the data I collected when I first got into blogging five years ago.

We haven’t reinvented the wheel when it comes to the directory. My friend, Marg, very kindly handed me over the keys to her Australian Book Bloggers Directory website and I imported 288 records from that, one person emailed me in return to say he wasn’t doing that blog any more so I deleted it and there are 51 which didn’t import as they were missing data in key fields. There’s still a lot of work to do with the directory, checking and importing those 51 blogs, emailing everyone to ask them to update their details and put in a photo and going through the gmail email to deal with any emails that have accumulated over the years.

As for the forum?

That needs more Australian book bloggers to register and join the conversations. We have more admin discussions at present and plenty of scope for other threads. There’s so much to talk about: social media; finding the time to write; finding inspiration and; the ever present…much more!

Who else can join?

I have thoughts but I need to run them past the rest of the team. I’d like to have authors and publishers as well so we can match up authors and reviewers. Publishers should be able to post about any events they’re holding so the right bloggers get a chance to attend.

Links

What a strange thought, that I should give you links so you can go check it out. If you’re addicted to books I suggest you check out the directory as that’s a fabulous starting point for you. If you’re a book blogger try the forum here.

Anyway, enough about this for the moment. I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about this in the future.

Libraries, awesome!

Libraries are awesome, they’ve changed dramatically over the years and this is going to be a few random words thrown together about libraries.

Last month I was at Limmud Oz, a weekend of Jewish learning and found myself paying attention to a panel about growing up in Carlton prior to World War II. It was a fascinating panel with all sorts of details I would never have thought to ask about. One of the panellists was June Factor (author of Unreal Banana Peel!) and she spoke a little about libraries. Apparently there was no lending library in Carlton, there were little shops which provided books for lending but none of those were in Carlton. The State Library of Victoria was available having opened in 1856 but you could only read there and not borrow to take home. Factor mentioned Myer Emporium had a lending library so she used to go in there to borrow her books which never lasted as she was a voracious reader. She also mentioned Alan Marshall (I Can Jump Puddles) was commissioned to write a history of the Myer Emporium and this includes some information about the library. Published in 1962 with the rather interesting title of The Gay Provider, I plan on telling you more about this when I can get hold of a copy.

The words she actually used led me to understand there were no public lending libraries anywhere in Melbourne except in little shops or in Myer and that made me stop and think. Back in 1978 I did my best work at school, a project about the city of Hawthorn, and I turned to that but couldn’t find anything about the age of the library in Hawthorn. Hello google and let my fingers do the walking. Melbourne as a whole was first settled in 1835 with Carlton being settled in the 1850s and Hawthorn much earlier in 1838. I find it interesting that around 80 years after settlement Carlton still didn’t have a library, however a public lending library was built post October 1953. Hawthorn had a public lending library as far back as 1861 and you can check the Trove data base for proof.

I don’t know the policies of public lending libraries at that time, but you probably couldn’t borrow if you lived or worked outside the area making it challenging for children such as Factor who lived in Carlton. I’m also wondering how much people knew about the facilities available in areas outside their suburb and whether they would have known about libraries in different suburbs. The one in Myer Emporium would have been different as that was in the CBD and Myer’s was one of those shops where you went for so many things. I believe my grandmother worked there for some years, possibly prior to her getting married.

To do this topic real justice I should have looked at lending libraries throughout Melbourne but with over 800 words just on Carlton and Hawthorn alone I suspect this topic is too big for one article. Sound much more like a book! I wonder who’s going to write that.

This article from The Guardian tells us that School Libraries must be fit for the purpose they are created. That purpose has changed an incredible amount. When I was young libraries were quiet, they were only for quiet reading and studying, getting any child to do anything that might possibly be noisy was anathema. If you visit a public library during school holidays you might find a different experience, I was at the Bentleigh Library a couple of weeks ago, the tots reading programme had finished as that’s in the morning but instead they had a school holiday programme with young attendees making things out of Loom Bands, it was buzzing. I should have actually taken my iPad there and done some writing, I tend to do my best writing when there’s lots of noise around.

I found so much more while googling and I’ll finish up with a few more words about Trove. It’s the website of the National Library of Australia and such a wonderful resource. The staff have spent a lot of time and angst scanning in many magazines and newspapers from across the country. If you’re doing historical research this is a fantastic place to be. I spent a bit of time there looking up many things about Carlton and Hawthorn finding many useful and/or interesting articles in now defunct newspapers such as The Argus. I happen to have an account and every time I’m there I spend a few minutes correcting some of the errors that creep in when you scan with OCR. To make it easy they have the original PDF on the right and the text from OCR on the left. While you don’t have to have an account it helps if you want to keep track of the number of lines you’ve fixed. I’m only up to about 100 while others have fixed thousands of lines.

Mondayitis – Sebastien

I listen to the radio today, the news is very hard to hear. What I hear about about Palestine and Israel, Syria and Iraq takes me back to my war, my work with La Résistance française in my home in Normandy.

We started early in the war, Patrice organised us but Sophie was considered too young. I knew she had the sense to join La Résistance française and insisted she join, after all, it was she who made me realise how hard it must have been for our father when his brothers didn’t return from the first world war. Sophie made me proud. She took messages to our contact in Veules les Roses and when the war really came to our area while she was there she watched as much as she could from Aunty Régine’s house and reported back to us.

It was Sophie who insisted we hide Angus, the Scottish soldier. I could not look at his wounds while she bathed them. Sophie is much stronger than I, it was good for the movement that I made sure she joined, she would have been a good soldier.

I look at the news today with a different eye to most people as I’ve lived through war. We helped refugees, made certain they had food and a place to rest before they moved on to find some other place. Again, it was Sophie who pushed our village into helping these people. Grandma made the biggest pot of soup for them. Someone should help the current refugees, I am too old to do more than write these few words. I am much older than Grandma was when she made that soup for our refugees.

Sophie's Secret War by Jill Atkins

Sophie’s Secret War by Jill Atkins

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