Monday, 31 August 2015
Saturday, 29 August 2015
How many readers and followers here are familiar with a site called Book Crossing? I had never heard of the site, until recently when, I arrived at my day job at the post office one Monday lunchtime and found a paperback sitting at my counter. Being a bit of a book person, I was keen to reunite the book with its owner and opened the front cover hoping that I might be able to find a name and a telephone number, or any other detail that would help me track down the owner. Instead, I found this:
|A travelling book. Cool!|
It turns out that Book Crossing is a massive site that promotes reading by asking its members to distribute books in unusual places. For people who find the books, the idea is to them read the book the book, log their journey at the site and share it along. This sounds like a lot of fun, and so after I've read this book (and reviewed it on here, of course,) I'll share it along ...
I was a little surprised to receive this quirky novel in the mail, one which seemed to be more middle grade than YA, but it proved to be a great deal of fun and I am glad that I read it, as it proved to be a an excellent and light hearted distraction while I recovered from a serious injury that I sustained earlier this year. The first in a series, The Potion Diaries is set in a world that is almost like ours, but with a few key differences, most notably that the world has been heavily reliant on potions and the art of potion making, though that is slowly dying out due to the manufacture of synthetic potions. The synthetic potions is something of a problem for our protagonist Samantha Kemi, who is an apprentice potion maker and set to take over the running of her small, family owned business one day. Then there is the smaller matter of her feelings for Zain, a young man who just also happens to be the son of the biggest synthetic potion maker in the kingdom. Anyway, things all come to a head when the princess swallows a love potion ... and falls for none other than her own reflection! The king calls on all the potion makers in the land to compete to find the antidote and Samantha soon finds herself on an unpredictable and exciting journey.
I loved this book for it's quirkiness and slightly ridiculous (but ultimately fun,) plot that should be a real winner with its intended audience and has enough their to keep YA and adult readers entertained as well.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy.
Friday, 28 August 2015
Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Welcome to another great edition of Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Eugenia Pantahos, author of the brilliant cultural cookbook Greek Life ...
Tell me a bit about yourself …
My name is Eugenia Pantahos, however friends call me Jeanie. Together with my husband George, we are proud parents to three amazing daughters, Anna, Mary and Helena. I am passionate about my family and home life, and dedicated to continued learning and personal excellence. Since 2003 I’ve been employed as Manager Finance & People for a consulting practice that is based in Melbourne that provides services nationally and internationally. I am a valued member of the executive team and I very much enjoy the contribution I make to the business. In 2014 I completed a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), and launched my self-published cultural cookbook titled Greek Life (family, culture, food).
Tell us about your most recently published book?
Greek Life is a cultural cookbook that truly celebrates the time-honoured Greek customs, culture and recipes. It is unique and inspiring and provides readers with a feast for the senses. Greek Life commences with the Story of Family, and continues with the traditions, celebrations and classic recipes that enliven each calendar year, January to December, as well as other life events. Each section is introduced with thought-provoking philosophy and the culture and traditions are supported by beautiful full-colour photography.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
Greek Life was released as an eBook in October 2014 and a hardback in March 2015. This is my first publication, and I have been thrilled with how Greek Life has been received by my readers both here in SA and nationally. More recently I have received orders from outside Australia, and that has been simply amazing.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
Having a vision for a high quality, timeless cookbook that celebrates Greek culture, and then to actually bring that book to fruition, as a self-published author has been an exciting journey. I have been moved by the messages received from my readers who have expressed quite profoundly what Greek Life means to them. I have been thanked with deep gratitude for bringing this book forth. I knew there was a market for my book, but I really did not expect the outpouring and sharing of love and support. I must say seeing and holding the first copy of Greek Life is a moment I will never forget. Walking into bookstores and seeing copies on the shelf facing out has been inspiring and unforgettable. The support I have received from my stockists has been wonderful, and I shall remain eternally grateful to them for embracing my book. Importantly, being able to share the launch of Greek Life with my family and friends and to be blessed by their love and support has been a truly humbling experience.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
Without giving too much away, I’m in the process of mind-mapping what my next book might look like.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
Most definitely paper books. I always have a book in my handbag, and although I love to keep my books in excellent condition, I am known to underline inspiring or meaningful sentences. I love spending time in bookshops and shop at my favourite bookstores in the cities that I visit, and more often than not I buy books at the airport when I have time for browsing!
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
Having self-published Greek Life I am now intimately aware of the Indie Publishing world, and would welcome the opportunity to explore the world of Traditional Publishing. I know there is a broader market for Greek Life, as I know people resonate with the story, the culture, the recipes, the philosophy, and photography.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
Okay..it’s the business side of me coming forth…but I would have to say The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
A huge T H A N K Y O U for the your love and support and for joining the celebration that is Greek Life!
For more information
http://greeklifestyle.com.au [order online, see stockists, read Press & Reviews]
To purchase eBook
http://www.booktopia.com.au/ebooks/greek-life-eugenia-pantahos (for iPad, PC, Mac, smartphone and tablets)
http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Greek_Life.html?id=vGTiBAAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y (for Google readers)
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Sleazy, totally unnecessary and oddly entertaining are the first words that come to mind when I think about Grey the new companion novel to Fifty Shades of Grey, which is basically the same story as Fifty Shades, but told from the perspective of Christian Grey, the young and emotionally damaged billionaire who has a penchant for sadism and a weakness for the impressionable and virginal university student, Ana Steele. There are a few flashes of insight into the character, though author E.L. James' writing remains as odd and trashy as ever. (I think I had lost count by the first half of the novel of how many times Christian had said "My cock hardens." And then there is the fact that his penis is treated like a separate entity capable of thought and hearing.) By this point, of course, readers know what they are going to get, and if they liked the first three novels, they will probably like this one, and if they hated the first three novels, well ... you get the idea.
Anyway, on a personal level, I did not enjoy this one. Not recommended.
Monday, 24 August 2015
Sunday, 23 August 2015
The publication of Go Set a Watchman was a surprise for a number of reasons, the biggest of which was that this novel by Harper Lee was actually the original manuscript for her classic and beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The second reason is, obviously, the decision for the book to be published at all, after so many years.
Go Set a Watchman is a book that in one sense needs to be viewed very much in its historical context--its not a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird and nor it is a prequel. What is it, is an earlier draft of the same novel, one that was not accepted for publication.
And that said, it is still a brilliant book. Go Set a Watchman is uncomfortable reading at times, but I strongly suspect that it was supposed to be. It opens with an adult version of Scout Finch, now better known as Jean Louise Finch, returning home to Maycomb from New York (where she has been working,) to visit her ailing father Atticus, her aunt and her sort-of beau, Henry. Through the combination of flashbacks and a present day narrative, we see that Jean Louise's visit home is becoming increasingly uncomfortable as she discovers some home truths about her father--a man whom she always, unquestioningly looked up to--and tries to reconcile with the fact that he is not the man that she believed him to be and that some of their core beliefs are different. Some reviewers have argued quite strongly that Atticus is a racist, I feel that there is sufficient evidence in the book to suggest that he is simply trying to coexist within his small town and living in a way that is neither politically correct nor easy for modern readers to understand--for example Atticus joins the KKK just so that he can find out who is in it, and does not silence others with their racists ramblings, though it is never suggested that he inherently agrees with everything that it is said. Or if you want to look a bit deeper at some clever foreshadowing, look at the flashback scene where Atticus allows the minister who is eating a meal with the family to lay a guilt trip on the children for playing a game in which they were baptising one another, and later hides away, and then privately laughs about the ministers stupidity later. That is the kind of man Atticus is. It is not, however, the kind of person that Jean Louise is, and much of the novel examines how Jean Louise reconciles with the fact that she is a different person to her father, and that she has her own beliefs based on her own experiences. She sets her own conscience, hence the title. At the heart of the book is the message that who we think our parents are when we are children, and who we discover them to be as adults can be quite different.
A little dry in places, and with a third person narrative that occasionally shows the protagonists confused thoughts, Go Set a Watchman is a book that requires a lot of careful thought, rather than knee jerk reactions. The author places a significant amount of trust in her readers to pick up various nuances and it also needs to be viewed in the context of when it was written, where it is set and the reasons that the author had for writing it.
Friday, 21 August 2015
Thursday, 20 August 2015
Under the Skin, Michel Faber's debut novel is a great many things. It's creepy, it's unnerving, it pulled me well out of my comfort zone and it offers surprising but credible arguments in favour of both veganism and the legalisation of marijuana, as well as there being some solid commentary on the way that women are often regarded as little more than sexual objects.
The novel opens with Isserley, a woman who spends most of her time driving through the Scottish Highlands searching for hitchhikers. The hitchhikers are collected, drugged and returned to her employers and left to a surprising fate. Over the course of the novel, the author cleverly drip feeds information, which left me guessing as to who and what Isserley was precisely. Her lot in life is a sad one, while her breast implants make a sad but relevant commentary about sexism. (I would go into details, but these are things best discovered as the individual reader turns the pages of the book for themselves.)
While I cannot say that this novel was comfortable reading, it was certainly intelligent and the kind of book that left me thinking well after I had put it down again.
Recommended, but proceed with an open mind and prepare to be challenged--for the better.
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
What kind of a woman would marry a man who has married five times previously and had two of those wives beheaded? One who does not have a choice and who thinks, perhaps, that she may just be the one woman who can survive him. That is the premise of British author Philippa Gregory's latest Tudor Court novel, which can be enjoyed either as part of the series, or as a stand-alone work. This time around, the author gives readers an in-depth glimpse at an often overlooked part of the history of the Tudors, the brief marriage of King Henry VII and his sixth--and final--wife, Kateryn Parr.
Although a little long and tiresome in places, Gregory offers a compelling portrayal of a young widow who puts aside her love of another man to marry an overbearing and eccentric monarch and during the course of her marriage educates not only herself but sees to the education of her stepchildren, and who actively participates in the reformation of the church, translating parts of the bible into English so that they could be read and enjoyed by all. Using a dash of artistic licence, Gregory speculates on Parr's relationship with religious reformer Anne Askew and, also, the author speculates on how King Henry VII may have treated his wife. (The title certainly earns itself.) The spelling of Parr's first name was a bit of a surprise at first and prompted me to do a bit of research--I was surprised to discover that a number of historians disagree on how her name was spelled.
I enjoyed reading this one, though it was a little slow in places and perhaps not quite as scandalous as some of Gregory's other novels (such as The Other Boleyn Girl). Recommended.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for providing me with a review copy.
Monday, 17 August 2015
Friday, 14 August 2015
Thursday, 13 August 2015
While many readers will already be aware of the great artist Camille Pissarro, known affectionately as "The Father of Impressionism," few will know of the beautiful story of the artist's mother, Rachel and of her defiant and passionate love affair with his father, Frederick. In The Marriage of Opposites accomplished American author Alice Hoffman (The Dovekeepers, The Museum of Extraordinary Things,) beautifully brings the story of Rachel to life, portraying her as a strong, capable and loving woman who triumphs time and time again over adversity and against the odds.
I loved reading this one from start to finish, reading the account of Rachel's childhood on the island of St Thomas, her arranged marriage to a much older widower and her eventual love affair with the young and quiet Frederick which sees her banished from the close-knit and incredibly fundamentalist Jewish community on the island, of which she had been a lifelong member. As little as known about her life, Hoffmann adds some fictional, but utterly compelling, details that fit in perfectly with the novel's narrative and setting.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy.
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--A would-be burglar sent his local bank a very strongly worded letter of complaint this week, after his attempts to break inside the bank were foiled by staff. At 4.31pm last Friday, Frederik Fredrikson attempted to force his way inside the Rich Bastard's Bank as staff were closing for the day. His attempts were soon foiled, however, when a savvy staff member noticed Fredrikson outside, clad in a motorcycle helmet and clutching a gun. The staff member then activated the banks security system. Police were immediately dispatched to the bank and Fredrikson was arrested.
"I felt the bank's customer service was appalling," Fredrikson told one of our reporters from his current residence, the Nowheresville Remand Centre. "I'd gone to the bank with the intention of sticking a gun in the face of someone who worked there and potentially causing them years of psychological harm, along with being allowed to take a considerable sum of cash that I did not earn, and that does not belong to me. As a bank robber, that is my right. I wrote the bank a very strongly worded letter, asking that the bank teller responsible be given a very stern talking to."
When our reporter questioned Fredrikson on whether he understood that robbing banks was against the law, she was offered a look of blank incomprehension, which was followed by a shout of, "You can't talk to me like that. Your public relations are appalling! I'm going to get you fired!"
Fredrikson was then removed to his cell by staff at the remand centre. Fredrikson is also considering writing a strongly worded letter to the police, condemning them for arresting him.
Monday, 10 August 2015
The following photographs are of the artwork that was commissioned for the 150th anniversary of South Australia. Sitting in the plaza just between Parliament House and the Festival Theatre (and to the side of Adelaide Railway Station,) these once proud works of art have fallen into a state of neglect and may or may not still be open to the public at the time this post is published. They are to make way for newer and brighter artworks.
Friday, 7 August 2015
Monday, 3 August 2015
This is one of many murals that sits on the upper level of Noarlunga Interchange. I like this one, as it reminds me of many the childhood trips to the city, usually taken during the holidays or on a day that my parents deemed special enough to allow me to skip during school--and usually on a rattly old Red Hen! Anything else, such as a Super Train (aka Jumbo,) or the shiny new 3000 class trains was rare on the Noarlunga Line until the mid-1990s!
If you look closely, in the window in the background, you can see another mural from the station.