Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I was doing pretty well at NaBloPoMo...until last night that is! But I do have a relatively good reason for not having posted last night. I went to see the musical version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And the best thing was ....the ticket was free! One of the girls I work with won 20 tickets so there was a whole group of it. The show that night was full of ticket winners and there were a couple of cameos during the musical of stars from the radio station who were giving away the tickets!
The musical itself was pretty good...not the best I've ever seen but entertaining enough. The costumes were AMAZING! and the singing and music was great too! I was a little on edge because my boss's boss was sitting next to me, and she is a very polite and softly spoken lady who doesn't swear and lives a very clean life so every time the F bomb was dropped I flinched a little. She said today that she loved the costumes and songs, but felt it was a little too crude. She knew what the storyline was but even so it was a bit too over the top for her liking. I guess I was a little surprised that she was coming to see it in the first place but I guess it's hard to turn down a free ticket!
It ended up being quite a late night. I just missed the 11.05pm train, and so had to hang around on the platform for half an hour waiting for the next one. It was supposed to leave the city at 11.35pm and arrive at its destination (which is my station) at 12.25am. It left on time, but arrived 15 mins later than scheduled! And they can't even blame peak hour for being that late!! By the time I got home it was 12.45am, and given that I had to be up at 6am....no time for blogging!
In fact, I am thinking that it is very close to my bed time about now!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Don't forget about the Blog Tour that starts in a few days time. If you still want to participate then just leave a comment either on this post or on the Blog tour post.
I have been thinking about what I am going to post, but I am not 100% sure yet exactly what you will see as my contribution!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
First, I will start with how gracious Paullina was when we met her. This below is a picture of all the books that Paullina signed for me. Obviously they are not all mine, but I was getting books signed for people who live in a few different countries where her books are not quite so available!
On Friday I took a day off work to go and see Paullina. I've never ever been to a book signing before, so I wasn't really all that sure what to expect. She was signing in the city at 12.30pm, so I wandered into the city carrying a pile of books and got to the venue about 12.15. I got in queue, and was only about 10 people from the front, but then I figured that seeing as I wasn't in very much of a hurry that I would wait for some friends from the forum. There was much texting of "how far away are you" but eventually there were three of us there so we took our place in line and waited. It was lucky to have others there that you knew because that definitely made the wait feel shorter.
As the line moved more towards the front it was obvious that she was taking time to chat with everyone and not just sign and move on! Now, I am sure that I have mentioned that I mod on her forum, and so spend quite a lot of time there. Mary (I have changed the names to protect the innocent!) was before me, and as the assistant said to are you Mary...THE Mary who posts on the forum?". And then she looked at me and said "And are you Marg?" which really surprised me, but she must have seen photos of us from the get togethers we have had in the past. When she got to me I explained that only one of the books that I had today was for me, but all the others were from other people. When I mentioned who the books that she was signing were for she knew exactly who I meant, and when I gave The Summer Garden to her to sign for one girl, Paullina knew that TSG was her favourite without me saying anything! She was extremely gracious, and said to me that I must be very busy, because she knew that I posted both on the official forum, and at Voy, and also blogged! She was so warm and gracious, and made us feel as though she was as pleased to see us as we were to see her. Then Sue behind me stepped up and Paullina not only took the time to find out who the she was and chat to her, but also to talk to her four year old daughter who had been waiting in line too. After that we said that we were all going to the dinner on Saturday night and we would see her there, and that was it. In the mean time someone else from the forum had turned up, so we waited for her to get through the queue and then went off and had some lunch together.
Then on Saturday night, we all gathered again for a dinner. Paullina took the time to come to our table a couple of times, and as soon as she came to the table she knew exactly who she had met previuosly and who she had not, which is pretty amazing when you consider how many people she must have met during the six events she had in Melbourne alone. I sat next to the mother of one of the girls from the forum, and we swapped book recommendations and reading stories, and generally had a really lovely time! It was also really good to catch up again with people who have become friends through the time we have spent together online, and also at the various meet ups we have had over the last couple of years!
The previous day when I got home I had gone on the forum and posted something along the lines of it's obvious that Paullina lurks a bit because she knew so much about us, and so I was really quite surprised when at the dinner she said "Now Marg, there is no reason for you to worry about me lurking!" which was a little embarrassing, but in the end it's not that I am worried, it was more that I was so surprised and thrilled!
For dinner we had chicken breast stuffed with cheese and pine nuts and something else, on a bed of tomato sauce and served with roasted potatoes, beans, peas and salad, and then sticky date pudding and ice cream for dessert. After dinner, Paullina got up and gave a 30 -40 minute presentation which was very entertaining, and featured some pictures of the places that Paullina went to as she went when she went on a research road trip as part of the writing process for Road to Paradise. She was funny and warm, and had the crowd in the palm of her hands. She certainly made me want to reread RTP now that I had very clear pictures of the journey that she took. A few questions from the audience and then it was time for more book signing.
We waited until the very end so that we could have a little more time, take some individual and group photos and have a chat, and it was really lovely. There will be some photos eventually, but of course, my camera batteries died even though I had recharged them the day before and hadn't used my camera at all! Always the way! Not that anyone wants to see photos of me anyway. I most certainly don't!
All in all, the last couple of days have been really great. Now that she has moved onto the next section of her tour I hope that the other fans really get to enjoy meeting her as well.
Now, I just need to get all those books posted to their relevant homes! I guess I am going to be making friends with the man at the post office this week!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Kat has posted a list of some of the more interesting aspects of Australian elections. When I was living overseas the one that provoked the most interest was the fact that it is compulsory to vote in elections here. I guess that that is not strictly true. It is compulsory to get your name crossed off the electoral roll. In most people's case that means rocking up to your local polling station and getting your name crossed off. I guess though,if you are there, you might as well vote for real.
The worst thing I think about going to the polling station is having to run the gauntlet. There are people representing all the various parties and candidates there with their literature trying to get you to vote for their particular candidate. Talk about wasting paper!
Oh well....our civil duty is down for the next 3 to 4 years (for Federal elections anyway). Now let the broken promises begin!
Friday, November 23, 2007
The books this time are:
Company by Max Barry
A wonderful satire of corporate culture. If you like The Office this novel is for you.
Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds by Gregory Day
Passion for the Australian coastline and mixed blessings of development.
The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser
Mystery and romance moving between current-day Australia and mid-20th-century India.
Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher
The latest DI Challis Peninsula crime novel.
The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize by Peter Doherty
An inspiring account by Nobel prize winner Peter Doherty.
Broken by Ilsa Evans
Some things can never be fixed once they are broken.
Delinquent Angel by Diana Georgeff
Born secretly and adopted into a high-profile Victorian family.
Well Done, Those Men by Barry Heard
Experiences of life before, during and after the Vietnam War.
In My Skin by Kate Holden
Memoir of an educated, everyday girl arriving in the world of drugs and prostitution.
Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland
Humorous narrative juxtaposed against a murder mystery in Central Australia’s Indigenous communities.
Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy
A collection of award-winning short stories.
Spiral Road by Adib Khan
Secrets unfold during a visit to a dying father in Bangladesh.
The Unexpected Elements of Love by Kate Legge
A story about balancing career and multi-generational family life.
Cricket Kings by William McInnes
Set in the western suburbs, this story is about much more than cricket.
Landscape of Farewell by Alex Miller
Everything changes when a feisty young Australian Aboriginal academic attends a lecture in Germany.
Dodging the Bull by Paul Mitchell
Strongly written, socially aware short stories set in Australia and abroad.
Patriot Act by James Phelan
A must-read for fans of the political thriller.
El Dorado by Dorothy Porter
A unique verse novel telling the story of a serial child-killer stalking the streets of Melbourne.
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung
A warm family memoir of immigration and coming of age in multicultural Footscray.
Hoi Polloi by Craig Sherborne
A humorous autobiography about growing up in a New Zealand pub.
Of these books and authors, I have read a book by Garry Disher before, and have heard really good things about Unpolished Gem. This is a book that I will be reading in the next couple of weeks. Other than that I haven't really read any of them, or heard of some of them! I have to say The Lost Dog sounds great!
There is also a display on at the State Library which I might make an effort to go and see as well! Maybe!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Tonight I went out for dinner with friends, to a restaurant about 45 minutes away. The food was great, but man, the portion sizes were massive! They offered dessert and we were all saying "only if they come in a kids portion" which they don't!
I do have a bit of a rant though I suppose. I was driving home at 10pm at night, and got stuck in a traffic jam on the highway! How can that be? Well, it turns out that they are doing roadworks, and I understand that they need to do them some time because they can't do them during peak hour for obvious reasons, but why did they need to do them the one night in months that I will be driving down the road???
Tomorrow I have the day off of work, so I can sleep in a little, and then into the city for a book signing with Paullina Simons. Then it will be time to pick my son up again, and the noise will start all over again!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Lucy from Booksprice.com recently sent me an email telling me about her new website. This is what she had to say:
I've spent a little bit of time playing around on there tonight, and I am not so sure that it works for me, but for any of you US readers, it has definite possibilities! is a free service of finding the best price on books among the major online stores. Our real time engine can help you save as much as 80% from the retail price on new & used books, cds and dvds. We have introduce innovative features and tools like finding the best price of several books together, which might reduce the high shipping costs and save even more money. And now we are offering the new "RSS Price Watcher" that enables you to track the price of a specific book and with your own preferences (shipping, currency, condition, etc) using RSS feeds.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am letting you know that I am getting a copy of this year's Booker Prize winner, The Gathering by Anne Enright. Posting about the site wasn't a prerequisite to getting the book, but I'm sure it won't hurt!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
In the meantime, so that others can share my obsession, below is a link to an interview that Paullina did on our Today Show this morning talking about Road to Paradise! I knew what she looked like, but I think I imagined a different, more Russian, accent!
Monday, November 19, 2007
As it is so hot, my brain is a little bit fried so just a quick update on the Advent calendar.
Whilst it may look as though there are only three spaces left, don't despair! What could possibly be better than one advent calendar treat each day......why two (or perhaps even three) advent treats! If you are interested in participating, then please put your names down and say what date you would like (if you want a specific day) and we will add you to the list.
The more the merrier!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
There are still lots of spots of left, so don't forget to sign up here.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown? This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.
I first saw this book mentioned over at Blogging for a Good Book. I hadn't actually heard of Shaun Tan at all before, but I have to tell you that on the basis of this book alone, I am now a fan.
The book itself is beautifully presented , all in shades of black, white and sepia, and all of the drawings are pencil on paper, with some digital colouring. The detailed drawings are amazing and the story is full of imagination and very touching. The story line is relevant and timely here in Australia, and I am sure in lots of other places in the world, especially in light of some recent comments made by Australian politicians about particular groups of immigrants.
The story itself is of a man who is forced by circumstance to leave his troubled homeland, leaving behind his family, and travel to a strange new country where everything is different, and I do mean everything. The food, animals, culture and language are completely strange, and the man is somewhat lost until there is a friendly face who will help him understand where to go and what to do. Many of these helpful people are others who have undergone a similar process, having had to learn the basics of things like how to cook, and having had to work in low paid and manual jobs in order to just survive in this strange new land.
There are literally no words at all in this book, at least not words that we can recognise. Where there are words on buildings and things they are in a strange symbolic language. The images and the storyline represented are so strong that no words are necessary. The use of elements of fantasy to represent the threat in the old homeland and some of the things that are found in the strange new world are a very strong symbolic reminder to us that for many people who migrate to countries like Australia the things that they find here that are every day to us are sometimes completely foreign to the migrants.
For some example images and some very interesting comments by the author, click here and then select The Arrival.
This book is highly recommended. A very poignant and vivid story told in a beautiful way. I already have my next Shaun Tan book on request from the library.
Other blogger's thoughts:
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Today’s question comes from Conspiracy-Girl:
I’m still relatively new to this meme so I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, but I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?
Definitely, definitely a Preservationist! Maybe part of the reason is that I read so many library books, but I don't write in any books! At least not since I was in high school!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
She couldn't believe he'd be attracted to a body like hers...
Voluptuous and large, Caroline Torrington feels dowdy and unattractive beside the slim beauties of her day. Little does she know that Lord Lucas Foxhaven thinks her curves are breathtaking, and can barely keep his hands off her. But he won't allow himself to betray her trust in their marriage of convenience - and misunderstanding. Every time he pulls away, Caro thinks he's disgusted by her. But when Caro becomes involved in a scandal and is kidnapped, Lucas must come to her rescue, and they realize that their mutual attraction and lifelong love make theirs a true marriage of the heart.
I actually finished this book a couple of weeks ago, but I have been trying to compose my thoughts enough to write a review ever since. I am not sure that I am there yet, but we will give it ago.
The novel opens with a scene which I found really enjoyable - a grand gesture which would cause shock waves throughout society, but from such a promising start, it seemed as though the story either varied between pretty standard romance fare (liberal doses of a big misunderstanding with no communication between the two main characters) and then trying to fit so much into the storyline, with Caro running off to Paris, and a kidnapping amongst other things.
In terms of the characters, Lucas is once again a rake who is not necessarily a true rake - he has a big secret that he keeps from his wife. She assumes that he doesn't want her, and that he must therefore have a mistress. In reality, he, of course, has a heart of gold!
As for Caro, there are the odd comments throughout the story about how she had to use her glasses and how she wasn't slim, but to be honest I never got any picture that Caro was all that large. After all, Lucas didn't seem to have any trouble lifting her at various points in the story. This would have been a major point of difference! Maybe it's just that I want some hope that someone my size could actually meet someone!
Whilst it may appear that everything that I have written is somewhat disparaging towards the book, I would say that there is nothing truly terrible in the book. It is readable, and the characters are likable enough. Where other writers can take a story that we have read many times before and write it so well that we still love it, the author here has had a few interesting ideas but not quite been able to sustain the momentum throughout the book.
I will say that I did find the idea of the heroine travelling to Paris something that I have never read before, and quite an interesting twist.
In the end this was an average read. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sourcebooks for sending me a review copy of this book.
Monday, November 12, 2007
First things first...the winner of the Paullina Simons giveaway is.....
Congratulations Zeek! Email your address details to me (details on my profile!) and I will get the book on it's way to you! Thanks to everyone who entered my first ever giveaway!
Speaking of giveaways, Kelly from Loaded Questions is giving away an ARC of Lauren Willig's next book, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose over at her blog! Willig's Pink Carnation series is a really fun spy caper/historical romance. I have read all the previous books in the series, and really enjoyed them. If you haven't read any of Lauren's books, you can read my reviews of them by clicking here.
There are two ways to enter the giveaway. First, you can subscribe to Loaded Questions, or you can send Kelly an email. You can read all the details here!
Following on from the Remembrance Day post I had up here, I also posted a review of Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham over at Historical Tapestry. I meant to say something here but I forgot! Whoops!
My final bit of news today is that it is my 2nd anniversary of starting this blog! Who knew it would last this long!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I don't normally do a lot of posts about what I am reading now, I am more inclined to post once I have actually finished the book. I am, however, going to make an exception today and I promise there is a good reason for doing so!
Today, I started reading Paullina Simons' new book, which is called Road to Paradise! I am a total Paullina fan girl, having been introduced to her writing through the fabulous The Bronze Horseman, and then going on to read the other books in the trilogy, and then most of her other books. I do have two of her books still left to read that I will get to eventually. In fact, I am such a fan girl, I am going to not one but two events when Paullina tours Australia later in November.
As much as I love to spread the Paullina Simons love, there is a major problem. Her books are so darned hard to come by, particularly in the US. Whilst it appears as though Road to Paradise is being released in Canada next month, the release date is much later in the UK, and who knows when it will be released in the US. So, I have decided that I will do a little something to help rectify this and I am going to give away a copy of Road to Paradise! Who knows, I might even throw in a copy of Tatiana's Table (or one of her other books) as well, depending on postage costs.
All you need to do is leave a comment on this post before Sunday 11 November.
It's 1981 and Shelby Sloane gets a canary yellow Mustang convertible as a graduation present. She plans an odyssey to find her mother who left her many years earlier. When Shelby's former best friend Gina asks to come along, Shelby reluctantly agrees.
When they see a young woman hitchhiking on the side of a country road, they don't want to pick her up. They turn their gaze away. But days later, they find her again. Candy gets in. She needs to get to Paradise – that's Paradise, California. But she is beset by dangers on a scale beyond the wildest imaginings of Shelby and Gina. She sucks them into her treacherous world and her own frightful journey.
The ride that began with high spirits and good humour proceeds into the darkest backroads of America, when Shelby, Candy and Gina are forced to make real moral choices that have critical consequences for their future, and by their ordeals they take a very different journey.
In case you are interested you can read my review of The Summer Garden, the third book in the Bronze Horseman trilogy by clicking on the link.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less?
I would say that I definitely read more now than I did as a kid, and certainly more than I did 10 years. Part of the reason for that is that I have dedicated reading time during my commute each day.
10 years ago, I was in the middle of a stretch of about 5 or 6 years where I would have been lucky to read one or two books a year - hard to believe, but true! I am glad that that stretch is over!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I thought I had it all figured out. I have posts lined up for most days over the next week or so, but then tonight...no Booking Through Thursday post yet!
It's not that I don't have a gazillion posts in draft but more that I am too tired out to think of anything more interesting tonight! Maybe I will do better tomorrow!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Her idea of catering is always food, food and more food, and yesterday was no exception! For starters there was biscuits and dip (corn relish and cream cheese...yum!) and then there were six different types of nibblies (including but not limited to sausage rolls, party pies, chicken chips) followed by roast pork, scalloped potatoes, salad and bread, and then finishing with a choice of six different desserts, and then chocolates! Just nibblies.
Anyway, we ended up watching quite a few of the races, including the big one! We had a sweep for the Melbourne Cup - and I won! Only $14 but it's the principal. It's not every day that you can go somewhere and eat, and come home with more money than you started with!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
If I remember, I will either watch or listen to the race, although I completely missed it last year!
For many people, this is the one race of the year that they will have a bet on, but I don't think I will even be doing that this year.
What will I be doing instead? Hopefully relaxing. I have spent the last two days playing tour guide around Melbourne, and I need to recover now!
Monday, November 05, 2007
In honour of the release of her new book, Jennifer Estep is having a 12 Days of Bigtime contest - 12 days of prizes, which include Amazon gift vouchers, autographed books etc! You can find the details at Jennifer's blog.
She can melt steel – and men’s hearts …
By day, Fiona Fine is a successful couture designer, catering to the high society players of Bigtime, New York. By night, she’s Fiera, a superstrong superhero who can create and manipulate fire with her bare hands. Fiera, along with the other members of the heroic Fearless Five, make life miserable for the ubervillains who want to take over the city.
But Fiona’s personal life isn’t so fine. She still misses her fiancé, who was killed by ubervillains a year ago. But men admire Fiona’s smoking assets, and she decides to get back in the dating game – especially after she meets Johnny Bulluci. But this notorious playboy has plenty of secrets to go along with his sexy smile. And, with two new ubervillains in town who are intent on raising hell, Fiona’s love life might just crash and burn …
Hot Mama Details
n Release date: Nov. 6, 2007
n Pages: 356
n Price: $14
n Format: Trade paperback
n Publisher: Berkley Books
n ISBN-10: 0425217345
n ISBN-13: 978-0425217344
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Here is a missing piece of the remarkable posthumous legacy of Irene Nemirovsky, author of the internationally acclaimed Suite Francaise.Life in a small town has long been a favourite topic amongst novelists, and this is Irene Nemirovsky's take on the secrets within a small town in rural France, and within a family.
Written in 1941, the manuscript of Fire in the Blood was entrusted in pieces to family and a friend when the author was sent to her death at Auschwitz. The novel - only now assembled in its entirety - teems with the intertwined lives of an insular French village in the years before the war, when "peace" was less important as a political state than as a coveted personal condition: the untroubled pinnacle of happiness.
At the centre of the tale is Silvio: in his younger years he fled the boredom of the village and made a life of travel and adventure. Now he's returned, living in a farmer's hovel in the middle of the woods, and, much to his family's chagrin, perfectly content with his solitude.
But when he attends the wedding of his favourite young cousin - "she has the thing that, when I was young, I used to value most in women: she has fire" - Silvio begins to be drawn back into the complicated life of this small town. As his narration unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the loves and infidelities, the scandals, the youthful ardor and regrets of age that tie Silvio to the long-guarded secrets of the past.
Nemirovsky wrote with a crystalline understanding of the pretensions and protection of society, and of the varied workings of the human heart, in language as evocative of a vanished era as of the emotional and moral ambiguities in her characters' lives. All of which was evident in Suite Francaise - and abundantly evident again in this powerful, passionate novel.
The main narrator is Silvio. As a young man he had felt restricted by life in his small home town and had spent many years travelling. Now, he lives in a farmer's hovel outside town, and like his home he is pretty much an outsider, and he's happy like that!
After attending the wedding of his cousin's daughter, Silvio is gradually drawn back into the life of the town as secrets of infidelity, murder and deceit are slowly revealed through the narrative. Unfortunately, some of these secrets are Silvio's secrets as well, and it becomes apparent that not everyone in the book is who they have appeared to be through the years.
The characters in this book, although flawed, are much more likable than the main character in David Golder, which was her first book to be published, and the way that the secrets are unveiled was really clever.
The only thing that didn't work for me was the ending, because it really didn't feel like an ending. It seemed to me that the book needed maybe one more chapter, just to wrap things up, but that is a totally personal thing, so might not be a problem for other people who read this book. Maybe the book wasn't really finished when Nemirovsky died. The notes in the book tell us that part of this book was found in the suitcase that held Suite Francaise, and other parts of it were sent to friends. It was only recently that the two parts of the story were put together, and this book was born.
For a really short book (only 130 pages of story), the story was interesting and the book overall enjoyable, and easy to read in one sitting.
Other Blogger's Thoughts:
The Magic Lasso
Basically by joining up you are agreeing to try and post something every day for the month of November! I might give it a go! Only problem is that I have already missed November 2, although it is still that date in many parts of the world, so maybe I can just use this one. That does, however, mean that I will have to post again today. Hmmm...this may not be as easy as it sounds!
Click on the link for more information about NaBloPoMo.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
This week's Booking Through Thursday question:
What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?
I thought about asking you about whether you were participating in NaNoWriMo, but I asked that last year. Although . . . if you want to answer that one, too, please feel free to go ahead and do both, or either, your choice!
Horror is one of the few genres that I don't really read. Then again just over a year ago I didn't read vampires, werewolves or any other paranormal creatures, so never say never!
And as for NoNoWriMo....that's a definite No! from me!