I had not intended to bore you all with Reactions to Reading’s behind the scenes carry-on but a couple of you have noticed the paucity of posts lately and have written to enquire about my health and wellbeing. Apart from making me feel all warm and fuzzy that complete strangers have noticed my absence let alone cared about it, their enquiries did make me realise how unsettling unexplained absences can be.
Rest assured I am hunky dory but have bought a new house and will be moving shortly (in fact 4 weeks today I will lay my weary head in my new abode for the first time). In between working full time and family commitments I’m doing all that stuff that goes along with moving…giving away things that won’t fit into the new place, packing, organising renovations at my new house, arranging all the services to be disconnected and, of course, wondering just how I managed to acquire quite so many books. At the moment there’s not much spare time for reading let alone blogging about reading. But I hope to be back to full-posting strength by mid-late June and in the interim do hope to post the occasional review or book-related thought.
Today I’ve got a link for the crime fiction fans amongst you. The First Tuesday Book Club is a monthly TV book club in Australia and each week the panel discusses a new book and a classic. This month they chose Thomas Harris’ SILENCE OF THE LAMBS as the ‘classic’ and the discussion is a really robust one. Aside from Shane Maloney (an Australian crime writer) the panel are not aficionados of the genre but all seemed to enjoy it. The discussion reminded me how good the book was and how utterly awful most of the thousands of copycat books that have come since really are.
*a line from the Rawhide TV Show theme song
I was chuffed when the lovely Kim from Reading Matters asked me to participate in her weekly Triple Choice Tuesday feature. I had to choose
- a favourite book
- a book that changed my world
- a book that deserves a wider audience
Which sounds a simple affair but narrowing down the field to just one choice in each category made for much list-making (with lots of crossing-out) and a couple of sleepless nights. My final selections (none of them crime fiction just for a change) are featured in this week’s Triple Choice Tuesday post at Reading Matters. Head over to see what they are (and stay to check out the rest of Kim’s excellent blog).
Actually I don’t really reveal any secrets (gotta retain that air of mystery right?) but I have been included on The Book on the Hill‘s Book Blogging Around the World feature this week. I answered Charlotte’s regular questions about my blog and what I love about Australia.
I’ve been following Charlotte’s blog since I learned she was a professional reader (I’m so jealous) and even though I don’t read a lot of YA (which is what Charlotte mostly reviews) I find it a great place to get recommendations for books to buy my nieces and I love Charlotte’s blog design and drawings. Do check out the interview and Charlotte’s blog.
Most of the people who read my posts do so from an RSS reader or an email so won’t care two hoots that I’ve given the blog a makeover during the past few weeks. But I’ve had loads of fun and the new look suits us both. If you’re not reading this on the blog I’ve listed the changes I’ve made to tempt you to stop by for a visit:
I re-categorised every post on the blog so that the right-hand side bar now has links to posts by author, feature of note (e.g. whether a book is translated, in audio format etc), genre, historical period, review rating and setting. Hopefully this makes it easier for you to find some great books to read.
I registered my own domain (for no reason at all other than it was dirt cheap). You won’t need to change anything if you’re subscribed though as WordPress will relay everything seamlessly.
Next I chose a new theme. It’s not perfect but it does have most of the features I was looking for including a more customisable sidebar, larger default font for posts (no nasty comments about my old age please) and, most importantly a customisable background and header.
Which is where the most noticeable change can be seen. My nifty header was designed by the delightful and creative Tara who blogs about books at 25 Hour Books (which is where I first came across her) and designs headers and badges at tSG Designs. I stumbled across Tara’s advertisement a little while ago and decided I’d treat my blog to a new outfit once I’d finished tidying up around the place.
I’m chuffed with the results of both my cleaning up and Tara’s creative efforts and hope you like them too. And perhaps you have some suggestions for what I can do with my button that I don’t really need but couldn’t help asking Tara to design to match the header.
A gremlin in technological form has prompted a change of theme for Reactions to Reading. This may be a brief stop on the road to the blog theme nirvana or I may rest here a while…one never knows with these things.
I do prefer the font of this theme, the text colours are easier to read and the pages work much more nicely but I miss the custom header of my old theme. However at the moment I cannot get that one to work so it’s not an option and I don’t have time to compare and contrast the features of all 85 wordpress themes.
…I do hate being told what to do (always have done, always will do, it gets me into more troublesome situations than you can imagine).
However I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I received an award over the past few days. The Award is the Prolific Blogger Award which is awarded to a blogger who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content. I’m sure you’ll agree it also comes with a most beautiful image (I love the colours and the symmetry and the dog under the table – it’s gorgeous and makes me wish I had creative talents in that direction).
It’s ironic that I was so honoured just as I’d spent a whole week without posting a single thing on my blog but every blogger knows that sometimes life gets in the way. And occasionally you’ve got nothing to say! Anyway, I was given the award by JoV over at Bibliojunkie. We started book blogging around the same time and although we read different kinds of books we enjoy each others’ blogs. JoV does great, in-depth reviews of all sorts of books and is re-igniting my interest in non-crime fiction. And just quietly I’m influencing JoV to read the odd crime novel too. JoV has joined the global challenge and I’m looking forward to hearing what she thinks about the Aussie books I recommended. Meanwhile I’m going to be reading Graham Greene’s The Quiet American in the next week or two which she recommended to me. And therein lies the circle of life in book blog land.
I then received the award a second time from Norman at Crime Scraps. As his blog name might suggest he blogs mostly about my favourite genre and does it beautifully. He writes wonderful, thoughtful reviews full of perfect quotations that really give you a sense of the book and whether or not it’s the kind of thing you would like. Norman also does great author interviews and runs a quiz that I just don’t even have the stamina to start. I am not worthy. Norman is particularly fond of historical crime fiction and he’s been getting me hooked too. My favourite read for the year so far was recommended by Norman (Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death which I still love even though some people at the 4MA discussion about the book have been quite derogatory about its historical accuracy) and there are several more of his recommendations sitting on my TBR shelves. I also enjoy Norman’s occasional references to his past life in the health sector (he is a retired dentist) as I work in that sector too (though thank heavens for all concerned I’m in administration rather than looking after people’s health) and can recongise many of his frustrations.
So I am happy to say a heartfelt thanks to both of these great blogs for the award and to acknowledge Advance Booking for starting the love but I’m not going to follow the other rule about passing the award on. Aside from my natural aversion to the words ‘must’ and ‘has to’, a quick look around the blogosphere tells me that a large proportion of the blogs I love have already received this award from people far less tardy than me.
I completely forgot about this give away during November so have an extra big bunch of pre-loved books authored by Aussies to give away this month (all books are in good condition, bought new and read once unless otherwise specified).
The books on offer for this month are:
I have read all these books and there isn’t a dud in the bunch so I look forward to sending them off to new homes.
Rules of entry
1. To be in the running leave a comment below containing:
- which book you’d like to win (it’s fine to say all of them)
- your email address
2. Everyone who manages to follow rule number one will have their name slotted onto spinning wheel of death which will be spun to select a random winner on the evening of 15 December 2009 (local time which is GMT +9.5). There will be separate draws for each book and your name will be entered for each draw that you register an interest in.
3. I will contact the winner(s) via email to ask for a snail mail address to which I can send the book(s). I will happily post the book(s) to whatever far away part of the globe you inhabit BUT I will only use surface mail for those outside Australia. This is slow (takes up to 12 weeks) but cheap. As am I.
This week I am the featured blogger for Cathy from Kittling Books‘ Scene of the Blog meme in which Cathy asks book bloggers from all over the blogosphere to reveal where they do their blogging. So if you want to see where Reactions to Reading is written head on over to Cathy’s website and take a look. Funnily enough I took the photos many months apart but both times my little town was experiencing extreme heat!
Cathy is even busier than normal this week because she works in retail in the US so I am surprised she can find time to breathe let alone blog. Although I live in Australia I have relatives in the US and I have experienced the chaos of Black Friday a couple of times (it’s similar to the post-Christmas sales we have here in Oz but with the madness ramped up another few notches). So I am particularly grateful to Cathy for all the work she does (and all the authors she’s introduced me to) and for adding me to the Scene of the Blog roll call. “Meeting” friendly and knowledgeable bloggers like Cathy has been an unexpected but wonderful side effect of starting my own blog.
So go have a look at where I blog and say Happy Thanksgiving to Cathy (who’ll probably be run off her poor feet before the week is over).
It’s time for me to give away some more crime fiction by Australian authors. This month I’m offering pre-loved (but fully functional) copies of
P D Martin’s Body Count. It’s the first in a series of 4 books featuring transplanted Aussie Sophie Anderson who works for the FBI as a profiler. Sophie is an interesting character, not least because she has some psychic abilities. I read the book before I started keeping review notes but I did rate it a 4.
Update 4 Oct: Thanks to the generous Ms Martin I have an extra copy of Body Count to give away (and a couple of her other books too which will feature in coming months).
Brian Kavanagh’s The Embroidered Corpse. It’s set in present day England but has a historical theme and is quite charming (click on the link for my review).
Rules of entry
1. To be in the running leave a comment below containing:
- your favourite thing to spread on toast/bread (we Aussies are known for our vegemite which is undergoing something of a revamp and marketing mess-up as I write)
- which book you’d like to win (it’s fine to say both)
- your email address (de-spam bot identifiable like this bsquaredinoz [at] gmail [dot] com is fine)
2. Everyone who manages to follow rule number one will have their name slotted onto spinning wheel of death which will be spun to select a random winner on the evening of 10 October 2009 (local time which is GMT +9.5) (you’ll know you’re too late to enter by the presence of a WINNERS ANNOUNCED comment below). There will be two separate draws in September and you may enter either or both. You may even win both.
3. The favourite spread thing has nothing to do with the outcome (I promise I’ll still include you in the draw even if you declare a life-long hatred of Vegemite).
4. I will contact the winner(s) via email to ask for a snail mail address to which I can send the book(s). I will happily post the book(s) to whatever far away part of the globe you inhabit BUT I will only use surface mail for those outside Australia. This is slow (takes up to 12 weeks) but cheap. As am I
***Please be careful typing your email address as one of last month’s winners doesn’t seem to be at their address so I’ve got a prize with no home***
Thanks to all those who entered my first give away. I’ll get to the winners in a moment but first I thought I’d share entrants’ answers to the question that had nothing to do with the outcome of the competition. I asked people to tell me the first word or phrase that came into their minds when they thought of Australia. The common themes from those outside the country are certainly exotic animals (a.k.a pests if you’re an Aussie farmer) and the outback (which very few of us live in but most of us have driven through)(in my case these are mostly known as road trips from hell).
The list in its entirety (with my thoughts in red)…
- Outback x 2
- The Ashes (one the world’s greatest sporting events for the uninitiated amongst you)
- Fosters (sorry Mack but I don’t know any true blue Aussie who drinks it, you should look for Coopers Pale Ale which is from my home state and is available in the US) (well in Trader Joe’s in California anyway)
- G’day Mate
- Oy (only we’d spell it Oi and sing it as part of a chant that goes Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi)
- very far away
- Koala (you people know they only sleep, eat and pee right?, they might be cute but they’re dull)
- down under (or on top if you use this map)
- Cape Tribulation
- “the shits” (can mean many things depending on your inflection or state of inebriation)
- Kangaroo x 2
- Duck-billed platypus
- Home x 3 (2 residents and an ex-pat)
- Shrimp on the barbie (clearly a better tourism slogan than the more recent one which was “Where the bloody hell are you” – I think it lost something in the translation)
- rugged, individual or rugged individual (we certainly like to see ourselves and our country this way)
Thanks for playing along everyone.
For the record the first thing that comes to mind whenever I think of Australia is “The Lucky Country”. It’s the title of a 1964 book by Donald Horne in which he argued that Australia was kind of lazy and lacking in motivation. He said that other countries were inventing things and innovating and all that neat stuff while Australia just took advantage of timing. But I say ‘nuts’ to Horne. We’ve invented things, we’ve had social innovations (my home state was the first in the world to grant women universal suffrage concurrently with the right to stand for election in 1894) (New Zealand only did the first half of that one year earlier). And if we haven’t been quite so motivated as some countries perhaps that’s what has spared us all out war on home soil. I’ve visited a good many parts of the world and loved every minute of it but I feel pretty lucky to be an Aussie and always enjoy coming home.
But enough of all that. What you really what to know is who the spinning wheel of death selected to win the books. So, the winners are:
- BJ (who won Garry Disher’s The Dragon Man)
- Dorte of D J’s Krimiblog (who won Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s The Consequences of Sin) and
- Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise (who also won Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s The Consequences of Sin)
There’s an extra copy of The Consequences of Sin thanks to the delightful Clare Langley-Hawthorne who signed and sent it to me before heading to the wilds of Oregon for a camping trip.
All of the winners have been notified by email and as soon as they send me their postal address I’ll put the books on a boat (or not, in the case of Kerrie who lives right here).
Congratulations to the winners, thanks to all the rest of you and there’ll be more great Aussie books to give away on 1 October so do come back then.