So excited, I’ve never been to a rare book auction. In fact, I have never been to an auction. It’s not something which cropped up in my everyday life and I must admit from what I’ve seen on television, it can get pretty fast and furious.
There’s always the horror of twitching an eyebrow and accidentally bidding for a hugely expensive volume of poetry, the only book of its kind in the world, which has to stay in a glass case. Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.
Last month, I attended a talk at University of Queensland’s Long Pocket Campus, home of the University of Queensland Press, or UQP as it is fondly known, the oldest independent publishing house in Australia with an illustrious stable of authors. I browsed some of the newly published books on offer, grabbed a coffee and sat with other attendees to absorb an informative talk from the Publishing Director, right down to choosing bookcovers.
We broke for a tasty lunch then listened to the ins-and-outs of publishing publicity, Selling The Brand. Another world really but invaluable knowledge for a writer. Our group participated in a Q&A quiz about books and authors. I threw up my hand and answered correctly, winning myself a new novel ‘The Geography of Friendship’ by Sally Piper which I will read and review.
DOWN A HILL AND UP A HILL . . .
Afterwards, we all trooped outside, down a hill and up a hill through the lush native gardens to where the Archives live. Amongst the thousands of new and used books donated every year, there are rare and valuable tomes, well-kept considering their age. On the shelving, behold every genre, every topic, every format imaginable. And nearly every item in the Junior Section held nostalgia for me. It is here I learned about the UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction 6pm on Friday 3 May 2019.
Photographed in the archives at University of Queensland, this magazine and many rare books will be auctioned in Fryer Library on Friday 3 May 2019 at 6pm.
BROWSE AND BUY – TAKE A TROLLEY – BOOK VOLUNTEERS WELCOME
I will have to leave you hanging, dear reader, because I will write Part Two when I’ve actually been to the Rare Book Auction in Fryer Library which itself is full of literary treasures. See you there?
Squish dreams of many things including having a pet.
Squish makes a long list—a puppy would be perfect.
Squish’s best friend Twitch helps him along the way.
Squish thinks important thoughts about friendship and his future pet.
Squish waits and waits to meet his new pet—who is more wonderful than he ever dreamed.
REVIEW: There is an art to creating good children’s books and with her clear illustrations and succinct text, Katherine Battersby has shaped a beautiful story. ‘Squish Rabbit’s Pet’ is a picture book which combines thoughtfulness, fun and friendship with an eggciting ending.
COMMENT: I saw this third Squish Rabbit book at a UQP publishing event prior to its release and had to buy it. I am familiar with Katherine Battersby’s work and have met her professionally when she journeyed from Canada to Queensland. Happy reading! 🐨 🍁
Her invitation to participate offers a change from THINKING to DOING if that suits your purpose but my TBR is backing up and I need to list seven of the books I desperately WANT TO READ—which, er, goes over the Three Things limit. I just want to blab about these great books 😃 GBW.
These two books are side-by-side because they involve food and drink.
has written a humorous memoir of his escape to the country. I did hear him at an author talk but he didn’t divulge the full story. ‘Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga’is sometimes sad, sometimes gruesome but I’m hoping it’s an uplifting story of the joys of living on the land. http://www.toddalexander.com.au/
set her novel ‘The Chicken Soup Murder’ against the backdrop of real events in 2012, a time in Michael’s life when everything is turned upside down. Cricket, football and the seaside are woven through the story as he strives to make sense of the changes involving death, suspicious neighbours and a school bully. https://mariadonovan.com/
This is a mixed bag of goodies sharing the same photographic background.
has golden wattle on her bookcover (I’m allergic to pollen) but the inside of ‘The Geography of Friendship’ greatly appeals to me. The blurb reads ‘We can’t ever go back, but some journeys require walking the same path again’. I won this novel at UQP behind-the-scenes publishing event. http://www.sallypiper.com/
is an Australian icon. I couldn’t begin to details his many and varied works here but his poetry is brilliant. The ‘An Open Book’ flyleaf reads ‘Malouf reminds us of the ways poetry, music and creativity enrich our lives . . . about the dynamics of what escapes and what remains’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Malouf
lives in my city of Brisbane. He has written two novels about war and its devastation. ‘The War Artist’ . . . ‘tackles the legacy of the Afghanistan war and the crippling psychological damage of PTSD’ and follows the shattered life of Brigadier James Phelan when he returns to Australia. http://www.simoncleary.com/
writes the most adorable children’s picture books. I have been a fan of Squish Rabbit since his first appearance and assisted Katherine at one of her library book launches. Forty children were expected and 140 turned up! ‘Squish Rabbit’s Pet’ is my favourite so far; profound and endearing. https://katherinebattersby.com/
I love bold bookcovers which alone tell a tiny bit of the story.
was recommended to me by a librarian with hair dyed pink, orange and green. A reader of quirky books like me (although my hairstyle is more conservative) she advised that this book is a bit different. And, yes, he’s the brother of John.
I have to say I have no idea what is in store for me with ‘An Absolutely Remarkable Thing’so I will just leave you with the quote ‘In Hank Green’s sweeping, cinematic debut novel, a young woman becomes an overnight celebrity when her YouTube video goes viral . . . but there’s something bigger and stranger going on’. https://www.hankgreen.com/
Right, that’s it, the seven books I’m going to read—not counting those on my ereader—now comes the wait until I post my book reviews. Ciao for now!
Do you ever throw a literary stink bomb into your book club meetings? Does a particular book annoy you into spewing a non-positive review?
My recent attendance at a book club gathering certainly raised eyebrows (I guess I’m not highbrow) when I panned Julian Barnes 2016 quasi-biography ‘The Noise of Time’ based on Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
I believe book clubs should read a wide variety of books and not just ‘literary stuff’. Out of 12 people, only two of us spoke up and voiced our critical opinions without fear or favour.
Read my review below and make of it what you will – this is not a discussion post but it is my opinion and I totally respect yours –
Book Review – ‘The Noise of Time’ by Julian Barnes
Author Julian Barnes fictionalised biography of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich begins in 1930s and is about the man himself, not necessarily about his music which is a disappointment.
Barnes wants to immerse us in the inner world of Shostakovich, therefore most of the story takes place within the previously uncharted waters of the composer’s own mind. The rest appears to be gleaned from conventional sources. There’s a lot of telling and not much showing.
First up, Shostakovich’s opera ‘Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk’ is denounced, and while there is tension and foreboding throughout the story, there’s no significantly dramatic scenes after this point. Shostakovich smokes heavily and is understandably nervous. He has the fear of Soviet Communism hanging over his head all the time (there’s a peculiar phone call from Stalin) and the dread which Shostakovich seems to pile upon himself. Like the bookcover illustration, he’s a man always looking over his shoulder but this doesn’t necessarily make edifying reading.
Politics aside, Shostakovich later wrote his Fifth and Eighth Symphonies yet Barnes glosses over a lot of this, using a series of vignettes without delving into that emotional side, so there’s minimal mention of his creative process or the effects of his wife’s death on his family.
The interior dialogue does not expose Shostakovich as an eccentric creative, nor do I think it makes him a likeable protagonist. Barnes portrays his inner world in an obsessive manner (think clocks, bad luck in a leap year, the elevator scene) and I think he comes across as a bullied child. One who needs encouragement yet gets slapped down at every turn.
My favourite paragraph is when Shostakovich is staying in New York and a woman working at the Soviet consulate jumps out of a window and seeks political asylum. So, every day a man parades up and down outside the Waldorf Astoria with a placard reading “Shostakovich Jump Thru The Window!” but according to Barnes and other writers this gave him great inward shame.
In strides man-about-town composer Nicolas Nabokov who kindles Shostakovich’s shame so that Shostakovich is trapped by his own timidity, unable or unwilling to stand up and be counted, preferring to talk through the medium of music which is later used to punish him.
For me, this partly true reimagining is not very engaging. I did learn a couple of new things but even allowing for Julian Barnes writing style, this book doesn’t add anything special to my reading list.
This year’s winners have been announced at an awards ceremony on 31 January 2019.
The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were inaugurated by the Victorian Government in 1985 to honour Australian writing. The awards are administered by the Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Premier of Victoria.
The Victorian Prize for Literature, and the Prize for Non-Fiction: No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (Picador Australia)
The Prize for Fiction: The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida (Faber & Faber)
The Prize for Drama: The Almighty Sometimes by Kendall Feaver (Currency Press, in association with Griffin Theatre Company)
The Prize for Poetry: Tilt by Kate Lilley (Vagabond Press)
The Prize for Writing for Young Adults: Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Allen & Unwin)
The Prize for Indigenous Writing: Taboo by Kim Scott (Picador Australia)
The Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript: Kokomo by Victoria Hannan
People’s Choice Award: Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee (Allen & Unwin)
The winners of the main suite of awards – fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, writing for young adults, and the biennial Prize for Indigenous Writing – each receive $25,000. The winner of the Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript receives $15,000.
The winners of the seven award categories go on to contest the overall Victorian Prize for Literature, worth an additional $100,000. This is the single most valuable literary award in the country.
A snapshot of what’s happening in my reading world. Three books! Three genres! Three reviews! My theme was originally started by Book Jotter under the title ‘Reading Looking Thinking’ but I’m only doing the Reading part for this installment.
Quote “I couldn’t stop staring at babies and toddlers in the street: their impossibly tiny nails, pores around their noses, the way each hair on their head existed not as an individual but as part of a silken wave.” Janice, Page 125.
Toni Jordan’s new book ‘The Fragments’ has hit the shelves and in preparation I’ve just read her novel ‘Our Tiny, Useless Hearts’ which I think is a clever rom-com story. Jordan has the knack of writing intelligent gems of heartfelt dialogue from the mouths of sincere characters then setting them in a ludicrous situation. Well, Caroline’s house isn’t ludicrous, it’s more a trendy vehicle for British-style upstairs, downstairs naughtiness and relevant sex scenes. The main players are two couples with shaky marriages (think clothes shredding) and the rest have grit in their relationships. Protagonist Janice (with microbiologist syndrome) is meant to be the sensible one but she has just as many hang-ups as those around her. Amid the embarrassing yet hilarious turmoil, Janice’s divorced husband Alec turns up. The tension escalates even higher, a bad case of ‘Who is going to explode into a million pieces first?’. I was entertained by this book of forthright and dysfunctional people who drew me into their lives. GBW.
Quote“Browsing is part of the tradition of a bookshop,” Florence told Christine. “You must let them stand and turn things over.” Florence, Chapter 5.
What a sombre little story this is. I try not to read reviews or publicity first so I was quite impressed when I saw that English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald wrote ‘The Bookshop’ in 1978 when in her sixties. That’s a lot of life experience, and later a Booker prize. Fitzgerald had worked for the BBC, taught in schools and ran a bookshop. I felt the struggles of Florence Green, fictional proprietor of the East Suffolk small town bookshop, were genuine. Her droll experiences with young helper Christine Gipping appear to be first-hand. In comparison, I found Mr Brundish, Milo North and the rapper (poltergeist) written along classical lines to add drama. Village life is parochial and Florence battles with Mrs Gamart and her far-reaching resentment against resurrecting Old House as a bookshop. Editor Hermione Lee says that Fitzgerald had a ‘tragic sense of life’ and I agree. But her finesse with dialogue, letter-writing and the unspoken has launched countless tropes. By all means prepare, this book has more thorns than roses. GBW.
Quote“My speciality is Ancient Civilisations with a bit of medieval and Tudor stuff chucked in for luck. As far as I was concerned, 1851 was practically yesterday.” Maxwell, Book 5.
The term preferred by Dr Bairstow, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at St Mary’s Priory, is ‘contemporary time’. Jodi Taylor, author of ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ series, writes about a humorous herd of chaos-prone historians who investigate major historical events. They are led by intrepid historian Madeleine Maxwell (aka Max) Chief Operations Officer. After costume fittings, the historians travel in pods with armed guards to places like Ancient Egypt, Mount Vesuvius, Great Fire of London, etc, to observe and take notes while Time Police loom threateningly. Best read in chronological order but Dramatis Thingummy explains characters and each gripping story unfolds, threefold sometimes, as another disaster hits the team. Historians die; Dr Tim Peterson gets bubonic plague; at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Bard himself catches alight. There are currently 22 books, in long and short format. If, like me, you have ever daydreamed of visiting an historic moment in olden times, these books are for you. GBW.
One post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING, an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley. Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from Thinking to Doing if that suits your purpose. I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts! GBW.
Who’d have thought it? Margaret Eleanor Atwood (1939- ) author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and more than forty other books of fiction, poetry, critical essays and a graphic novel has written children’s books.
Margaret Atwood also wears various hats, from activist through literary critic, inventor, environmentalist and award-winner with honours and degrees, yet for me this news was surprising. Not so surprising is the quirky nature of her children’s stories!
♦ With grateful thanks to online friend and blogger BookJotter Paula Bardell-Hedley for alerting me to these little gems within a comprehensive list of Margaret Atwood’s literary output—
Up in the Tree (1978) Anna’s Pet (with Joyce Barkhouse) (1980) For the Birds (1990) Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995) Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003) Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda (2004) Up in the Tree (facsimile reprint) (2006) Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery (2011) A Trio of Tolerable Tales (illustrator Dušan Petričić) (2017)
Being a kidlit fan, I immediately wanted to read several of those earlier Atwood books but found they (like this non-fiction For The Birds) were no longer in print, or libraries, but may be available through state archives or second-hand book merchants. I will track down her first children’s book Up in the Tree (with her own illustrations and hand-lettering, quite possibly written for her young daughter) because the story intrigues me.
Along the way, Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery was adapted into the children’s television series The Wide World of Wandering Wenda aimed at early readers with different adventures using words, sounds, and language.
Happily, in 2017, three of Atwood’s books were re-published, printed and bound in Canada into one compilation A Trio of Tolerable Tales. I was able to buy a new copy with Serbian Dušan Petričić gorgeous drawings. Atwood’s alliteration is absolutely awesome!
♦ Here are my reviews of these alliteration-filled, tongue-twisting tales…read on….
♦ Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes
The reader follows the adventures of Ramsay and Ralph the red-nosed rat as they traverse various repulsive obstacles to find a round, Roman-vaulted rat hole leading to food nirvana – round red radishes ready to be devoured. The radishes revolt and start to attack but thankfully owner Rillah comes on the scene. She forgives their trespass and shows them around her romantic rectory, rotunda, rococo artworks and rumpus room. There’s a bit of a ruckus with Rillah’s relatives Ron, Rollo and Ruby, so Ramsay & Co beat a hasty retreat back outside and romp rapturously under a radiant rainbow. There is a very clever twist regarding the radishes and how they repel intruders! A fun story which needs patience on the part of the reader, especially reading it out aloud for small children. Laughs are guaranteed and you will marvel at how many ‘R’ words exist in the English language. GBW.
♦ Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda
Bashful Bob was abandoned in a basket outside a beauty parlour and nobody claimed him. There is a neglected dog park across the street and the resident dogs are Bob’s best buddies. There is a beagle, a boxer and a borzoi who believe “We must be benevolent” and they look after young Bob. On the next block lives Doleful Dorinda. She’d been dumped with despicable relatives who say “Dorinda is a dope” and make her sleep beside biohazard material. Her food is awful and she is treated like a slave. Finally Doleful Dorinda runs away and meets Bashful Bob on the vacant block. You will have to read this story to find out how their names were turned into Brave Bob and Daring Dorinda but it makes a jolly rollicking tale especially if you like dogs! The plot and resolution are more conventional, even with the proliferation of ‘B’ words. A flowing, tangible fairytale and I found it easy to absorb. GBW.
♦ Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery
Wenda is a willowy child with wispy hair and wistful eyes. Her parents are whisked away by a weird whirlwind and thereafter Wenda wanders aimlessly. She makes friends with Wesley woodchuck and they share food scraps and wodges of wieners until one day they are kidnapped by Widow Wallop. She takes them to her Wunderground Washery to “wash whites whiter than white” every day. Between the drudgery, they feel sorry for Widow Wallop’s white Welsh ponies and three other waifs, Wilkinson, Wu and Wanapitai. Together they plot their daring escape, only to encounter wolves along the way. How will they evade Widow Wallop’s clutches now? There is an unexpected reveal at the end! I think some of the scenes may disturb younger children, particularly those with separation anxiety. Older readers will chortle at the profuse ‘W’ words and idiosyncratic wordplay. GBW.
QUOTATION: “Comfort with reading begins in childhood, when parents or other loving adults read to children. It creates a ‘safe’ place where — nevertheless — dangers can be explored (and, in children’s books, hopefully, overcome)…. I think my children’s books function as protected spaces for me. I look at darker things quite a lot, but the kind of children’s books I write are light, and have happy endings…. That’s a relief, when I can manage it.”
—Margaret Atwood, author.
♦ The interior of this book is printed on paper that contains 100% post-consumer recycled fibres, is acid-free and is processed chlorine-free so there’s nothing to worry about, Wenda.
“Stella Montgomery is in disgrace. The awful aunts, Aunt Condolence, Aunt Temperance and Aunt Deliverance,have sent her to Wakestone Hall, a grim boarding school where the disobedient are tamed and the wilful are made meek. But when a friend disappears, Stella is determined to find her – no matter what danger she encounters. Soon Stella is thrown headlong into the mysteries surrounding Wakestone Hall. Will Stella save her friend in time? And will she discover – at long last – where she truly belongs?”
Stella Montgomery and Wakestone Hall – the intrigue draws to an exciting close!
Wakestone Hall is Book 3 in the Stella Montgomery Intrigues and this series has captured my imagination. My inner child responded to the mysterious and creepy goings-on in the first two books, beautifully complemented by author Judith Rossell’s own illustrations of the Victorian era. The third book is out now with a book launch due in a couple of days. I can’t wait to read it! GBW.
Information: HarperCollins Publisher Published: 22 October 2018 ISBN: 9780733338205 Imprint: ABC Books – AU Number Of Pages: 280 For Ages: 8+ years old
Children’s, Teenage & educational / Fantasy & magical realism (Children’s – Teenage)
Just received a brand new copy of ‘Lethal White’ the fourth volume in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike detective series. We all know that J K Rowling actually writes it but what I didn’t know was that this hardback edition is large and heavy!
The cover has a nice grungy look and, no, I did not skid it across the tarmac.
It was difficult to photograph because the bronze lettering flared but I wanted to illustrate the interesting trend of books getting bigger again.
I can’t help wondering how it will compare to previous adventures. The book blurb reads “The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, ‘Lethal White’ is both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.”
I will post a review when I’ve ploughed my way through 647 pages.
When I discover an author with a quirky style, a neo-noir writing streak, I rejoice in their words. It’s a delight to get away from mundane formats, tired classics and generic phrases so overworked in today’s writing scene.
I can remember when ‘dust motes’ were all the rage, not mere dust, it had to be motes floating in the sunlight. Goodness knows why, padding perhaps. I think it’s beneficial for both writer and reader to veer off in another direction occasionally. Leave those tropes behind!
For bookish readers, I will list some of the absurdist fiction writers who have given me a literary lift and added a bit of sparkle to my jaded memory banks. These 10 books impressed me with their originality and unique take on adult life, some with remarkable page layouts.
Numbered but NOT rated in order of preference:
♥ 1 Get In Trouble by Kelly Link
Quote “Richly imagined, intellectually teasing: these are not so much small fictions as windows on to entire worlds. A brilliant, giddying read” said Sarah Waters and I definitely agree.
♥ 2 The Midnight Promise by Zane Lovitt
John Dorn is a private investigator solving human puzzles. Complex and beautifully observed characters lead John towards his moment of truth as he strives to keep his promise.
♥ 3 An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen
Speculative erotica showing the best and worst of human nature through Liv as she ages alongside high technology innovation. The transition to a state beyond age, to transcend the corporeal…
♥ 4 The Eyre Affair Series by Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next, a fearless woman who traverses a parallel universe inside books. Created with breathtaking ingenuity, her literary world is more believable than most peregrinations.
♥ 5 A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Self-destruction with music in the background. Intimate lives of several characters who reconnect again and again trying to escape the past, delay the future and defy their fate.
♥ 6 Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs…She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse by Paul Carter
Gritty, masculine and rather shocking true story of working on oil rigs in the ocean. Horrible, humorous happenings written down in easily digestible form so that you can’t stop reading.
♥ 7 Atomic City by Sally Breen
A stylised contemporary story set on the glittering Gold Coast, Queensland. Chameleon Jade gets a new identity and with her grifting partner she dares to swindle the Casino swindlers.
♥ 8 Les Norton Series by Robert G. Barrett
Les Norton, a red-headed country lad, works in the big city, fights men, wows women, loves the beach, is either an Aussie icon or a yobbo but each adventure guarantees a twist.
♥ 9 The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen
Lucky, a galah in a remote coastal town, receives transmissions from a satellite dish beaming messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas, which co-mingle with the community psyche.
♥ 10 Dead Writers in Rehab by Paul Bassett Davies
Foster James is supposedly in rehab but he’s probably dead. A dystopian must-read, loaded with satire, dark humour, sexual tension and famous writers like Coleridge and Hemingway.
I think my Top 10 list will suffice . . . oops, I just have to add ‘A Dirty Job’ by Christopher Moore and ‘Insomniac City: New York, Oliver Sachs and Me’ by Bill Hayes and ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders and ‘Human Croquet’ by Kate Atkinson and ‘Himself’ by Jess Kidd. I love any book by Terry Pratchett and DBC Pierre and there are further ingenious authors I could name (and so could you!) but I will stop here.
How pathetic! We have 24 glorious hours in a day and only one is chosen! And it’s not even held simultaneously around the country! Have you read your one hour today?
This year Australian Reading Hour falls on Thursday 20 September 2018 and the nominal time in the evening is 6pm to 7pm. But individual reading and group reads will be happening all day to avoid important sporting fixtures, special events and venue opening hours, and to accommodate the different time zones in Australia.
Fair enough, however, it’s still one lousy hour! What is the Australian Reading Hour committee thinking? There are 8760 hours in one year, so use some more of them.
If more hours aren’t forthcoming next year, why not (1) disrupt your sporting fixtures (2) put the special event on hold (3) pause during venue opening hours (4) delay that visit to the gym and (5) forget a few things to stop and READ for ONE lousy hour!
Meanwhile, find a really quiet, cosy place and settle down alone. Betcha read for longer than an hour!
Or gather a group together at school, work, bookshops like Avid Reader, the library, the park or get the family together in your own home and read, read, read for one lousy hour.
One hour isn’t going to kill you, the world won’t crumble around you – but you and the adults and children of Australia will visit another place through the pages of a book. For one lousy hour…
This post will bore anyone without children in their lives.
Dads Read recognises that fathers reading to their children strengthens literacy, models positive reading behaviour and builds children’s self-esteem around reading, especially for boys.
Dads Read is an early childhood literacy initiative, developed by State Library of Queensland in 2010 and launched statewide in 2012 as part of the National Year of Reading, to promote family literacy. The program continues to expand and is now being delivered throughout Queensland and South Australia and plans are underway in Tasmania.
You can host your own event with their resources. I’ve seen this program in action with a dedicated group. Children choose a book, a slice of pizza and sit with their fathers to read.
Discrimination doesn’t apply, the Dads Read message is based on the simple but true premise that reading 10 minutes a day to your children is not only quick but also essential.
Dads Read aims to:
Raise awareness of the important role fathers play in their children’s development.
Inform fathers of the importance and benefits of reading to children from their early years, even before they start school.
Promote reading as a family.
Encourage fathers to read to their children and promote the value of reading.
Provide fathers with the tools to give them the confidence to read with their children.
My father was my reading mentor, instilling interest in books, and Dads Read program follows research which highlights the importance of dads reading to their children during their early developmental years. As little as 10 minutes a day improves children’s literacy levels and stimulates creative and critical thinking.
‘Investment in early childhood is the most powerful investment a country can make’. World Health Organization, 2007.
The Dads Read program has helped:
Address a real and significant issue which is at the core of our wellbeing as individuals, families, employers and communities: the need to be literate.
Support literacy development and help to develop the skills of Australia’s future workforce by building everyday skills for sustainable communities.
Build literacy levels among our younger generation while promoting family literacy and boosting the ability of reading in adults.
Connect families and communities in a cost effective and invaluable way.
I love binge-reading! When I discover a good author like Elly Griffiths who has ten books in her crime oeuvre, I am ready, willing and able to read all. The archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway mystery series fits the bill nicely. To quote the Independent ‘The perfect ratio of anticipation, shock and surprise’.
Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa; she has written other novels under her real name. I like the historical and archaeological authenticity of this series which could be due to the fact that she’s married to Andrew Maxted, curator of archaeology at Brighton Museum.
I enjoyed the earlier books and then the later ones shown above. I loved ‘The Ghost Fields’ WWII story and found award-winning ‘The Chalk Pit’ quite fascinating. I struggled with ‘The Outcast Dead’ subject matter although it is fitting. I must mention the clever yet sneaky outcome of ‘The Dying Fall’ which has a touch of Hollywood about it.
The stories mainly revolve around Norfolk UK, tidal marshlands, excavations (with an occasional nod to ‘Time Team’) coastal regions and fictional University of North Norfolk where Ruth Galloway works. She is also a police adviser. The relationships of the key players are intriguingly tricky because of love triangles, children, 21st century parenting, murder and mystical goings-on.
Rather than a book review, I thought I’d do a quick character overview:
Dr Ruth Galloway lives on the Saltmarsh, lectures in forensic archeology, makes ground-breaking discoveries, and likes old bones and her cat Flint.
Fast-driving policeman DCI Harry Nelson moved with his family from Blackpool to Norfolk and doesn’t really like the place but he’s a born copper.
Two glamorous women, Michelle Nelson is wife of DCI Nelson, and Shona MacLean is Ruth’s bestie.
Michael Malone (aka Cathbad) brings enjoyable highlights to each plot with his spiritual insights, Druid instincts and flowing cloak.
Part of Nelson’s team are police officers DS David Clough ‘old school’ and DS Judy Johnson ‘graduate’ who don’t always share the same views.
Phil Trent, professor of archaeology at UNN, worries about funding but loves TV cameras, publicity and himself.
As I dug and sifted through the series, I noticed less archeology and gradual changes to the main characters but that’s the grit which makes these books human and relatable. There’s drama in their lives; a rocky layer or two over a conspiracy waiting to be uncovered.
Elly Griffiths has a nice knack of getting you up-to-speed with each book while revealing a ‘fresh’ crime involving the living and the desiccated. At one stage I quibbled over her use of Anglo male names like Max, Dan, Tim, Tom, Ted, Bob, well, you get my drift…but this has improved and the VIP reviews keep on coming:
"I refuse to apologise for being in love with Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, one of my favourite current crime series . . . a pleasure from start to finish"
"I adore the Elly Griffiths series and have eagerly read each book. I love seeing how the recurring characters are living and working out their relationships"
Joyce of joycesmysteryandfictionbookreviews
I’m waiting for book 11 ‘The Stone Circle’ but don’t you hang around, start reading!
You have the month of September to sign up to the new Indigenous Literacy Day fundraising campaign and fill your virtual shelf with books for children in remote communities. Participate in the launch on Wednesday 5 September and discover how to fill a bookshelf for children in the remote Australian outback.
It’s something new, something a little different, something the Indigenous Literacy Foundation believes you’ll enjoy sharing with your friends and family, and something that gives you the opportunity of ensuring kids in remote communities have access to quality, new books.
Commencing on Indigenous Literacy Day (5 September 2018) the new ‘Fill a Bookshelf’ fundraising campaign aims to raise $300,000 to help ILF gift 30,000 new books to schools and service organisations in remote communities where books are scarce.
How does it work? The idea is simple…
Sign up online to create a fundraising page and receive an empty virtual bookshelf.
Ask family, friends, colleagues to donate a virtual book to your page (in the form of a donation)
Fill your virtual bookshelf!
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This fun tag was brought to my attention by productive book blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley of BookJotter fame. Originally created by Beth of Bibliobeth the idea is to share a picture (aka ‘shelfie’) of your favourite bookshelf and then answer ten questions related to the titles displayed.
Visit Beth’sblog to see more info, the logo and tag and view posts by participating bloggers. Then launch your own unique Q&A Shelfie by Shelfie.
I think many readers will find these titles unfamiliar…
1. Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?
Short answer is ‘subliminally shelved’. Long answer is there are many bookshelves in our home and until I decided to participate in Shelfie by Shelfie I didn’t realise that most of my books are grouped. Either when they arrived or over a period of time, I’m not sure. There are clumps like non-fiction, poetry, humour, crime, fantasy and (not all shown) Australian content.
2. Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you, i.e. how you got it / a memory associated with it, etc.
Hard to pick just one. I know some of the authors (or received uncorrected bound proofs to review prior to publication) but my all-time special one would have to be ‘My Beachcombing Days: Ninety Sea Sonnets’ by Brisbane poet John Blight. His daughter, a family friend, gave it to me as a birthday gift in the same year as disastrous flooding hit the city. The flood waters also coincided with me securing a glam job in a travel agency which had 12 inches of river mud throughout the ground floor office.
3. Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?
No contest! It would be Tom Keneally’s ‘Shame and the Captives’ a semi-factual diatribe about World War II prisoners-of-war from Italy and Japan who are held in a compound in Gawell, New South Wales, but allowed to work on a local farm. It does have its altruistic moments but there’s bloodshed aplenty and the ‘uncertainty and chaos’ never worked for me.
4. Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?
‘Withering-by-Sea’ written by children’s author and illustrator Judith Rossell. Young heroine Stella Montgomery is the epitome of someone I would have loved to have known when I was a child. I did read a lot of British kids books! Set in Victorian England, the story is both adventurous and creepy. Apart from dressing up as a mature-age Stella Montgomery for library Book Week, two years ago I had my copy of the book signed by Judith Rossell when I attended her writers workshop in historic Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne.
5. Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?
Hmm, that would be a toss-up between Nobel Prize for Literature winner Patrick White ‘The Cockatoos’ and Miles Franklin ‘My Brilliant Career’ both yellowing reprints dated 1974 and 1979 respectively. I guess Mr White wins.
6. Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?
Another toss of the coin. ‘Truly Tan Hoodwinked!’ (Book 5) kids chapter book written by Jen Storer, and ‘Care of Australian Wildlife: For Gardeners, Landholders and Wildlife Carers’ by Erna Walraven, a 2004 revised edition but in mint condition and recently purchased in a second-hand bookshop. The most adorable teeny tiny Koala baby is on the front cover. The Koala wins by a nose.
7. Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)
I have a ‘thing’ for DBC Pierre, expat Aussie writer, and admire his off-kilter books. I own two of his novels (the rest were loans) and love ‘Breakfast with the Borgias’ which I willingly re-read; and I’m usually not a re-reader. Perhaps the fact that one of the characters is named Gretchen has something to do with it.
8. If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.
There is a small cardboard cut-out figure of Lisa Simpson from TV series The Simpsons which probably came with a McDonalds meal deal. Lisa is holding an armload of books and in the show she is the lone advocate of literacy and learning. I always like to think she influenced a generation of TV viewers to read. And that she’s happy on this shelf.
9. What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?
It doesn’t tell you that I borrow hugely from my local library; or that I read too many e-books; nor that my current audio book is, ironically, ‘The Book Case’ by Dave Shelton narrated by Colleen Prendergast. It does shout that I’m an Australian reader.
I read most genres and most writers regardless of nationality (translated helps!) but I keep coming back to Australian authors. In an online book forum, I recall an American reader saying he only read American books because he understood them. He didn’t mean the language, he meant emotional ties, recognition, connection. That’s what I get from Australian books, nevertheless, I do think we have to step outside our comfort zone.
10. Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.
A free question I can make up sounds good. NOTE I do not activate Comments, you will have to answer it in your own Shelfie by Shelfie blog post.
BONUS QUESTION: Do you discuss the books you read in a face-to-face situation, online book reviews, or clutch your latest read to your chest saying ‘my precious, my precious’?
Happy reading, blog stars!
For modern Australian book reviews I can recommend blogger and bookseller Simon McDonald https://writtenbysime.com/ while this list contains notably mature Australian authors: Thea Astley
Janette Turner Hospital
Jill Ker Conway
Leonie Judith Kramer
John Dunmore Lang
James Phillip McAuley
Bernard Patrick O’Dowd
Katherine Susannah Prichard
Henry Handel Richardson
Alfred George Stephens
Arthur William Upfield