Honest Scrap Award

Elizabeth at Swords for Fighting has given me the Honest Scrap award, which is an award that I have never received before!

The rules are share 10 things about yourself and then share the award with 10 other bloggers.

So here goes:

1. I am a sagittarian and have a sagittarius tattoo on my lower back;
2. I did debating in high school and was either 2nd or 3rd speaker;
3. When I am in the back seat of a car, I always sit on the left hand side;
4. I hate chewing gum, hate it;
5. I am addicted to eating caramello koalas;
6. I grew up in North Ryde and North Epping;
7. I support Sydney FC in the A-League and very much hope that they win the grand-final tonight;
8. I used to work for Ticketek and at the Sydney Opera House and have seen many free concerts and shows as a result, so now whenever I go into a venue I can't help but assess the seating arrangements;
9. I have 2 cars, one called The Beast and the other called Arj,
10. My left ear is pierced twice

That's a little trivia about me, and this is who I am passing on the award to:

1. Another Cookie Crumbles
2. Rose City Reader
3. 2010: The Year in Books
4. The Twilight Saga - Chapter by Chapter, Book by Book (one of the funniest blogs on the internet)
5. A Stiped Armchair
6. Rundpinne
7. A Novel Source
8. The Blacksheep Dances
9. Mrs Q: Book Addict
10. Just One More Page

For links to these blogs, please see the blog roll on the right side of Page Turners.

Book Beginnings on Friday (aka Saturday)

APOLOGY - I know this is a day late everyone, but unfortunately my mother had an accident and I became a little distracted. Here it is now, albeit a day late.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Meme - Book Beginnings on Friday. This is a new meme that I have decided to start entitled Book Beginnings on Friday. I hope that you all join in.

At this stage I do not have a button for this meme, being someone that is very technologically challenged. If there is anyone out there that wants to participate in this meme and has the skills to make a button, I would really appreciate it :-)

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

"First, in my spare room, I swivelled the bed to a north-south axis."

This is an Australian novel that I have wanted to read for a very long time so I am very excited to finally be reading it.

Place a link to your Book Beginnings on Friday post in the Mr Linky below or alternatively leave a comment.

Lights, Camera, Blog Action!

This is a special feature dedicated to spreading the word about the other great blogs that are out there! I have found a lot of great blogs through such features and I want to be able to share some book blog joy too!

Today I am featuring Elisabeth from YS Princess's Ideas, Resources and Reviews.

1. Tell us something about yourself

I’ve backpacked the Grand Canyon rim to rim several times, and I can lick my elbow. I used to enjoy scrapbooking, until I spent every day for two weeks straight putting together an entire (and overstuffed at that) scrapbook for an anniversary present. I’m hoping by the time I have my own kids, I’m up for it again. My favorite place in the world is Walt Disney World (that I've been to so far), though I’d really like to go to Ireland. People at work call me Disney Princess, and it’s not just the parks – I have yet to meet someone who can beat me at Disney SceneIt. I’m also slightly obsessed with the TV show Supernatural.

2. What was your favourite book as a child or young adult, and why?

I hate to give such a cliche answer, but the only book I can recall reading more than once when I was a child was Harry Potter. The first three books I read 7-8 times each and the Goblet of Fire I read 4 times, so I'd have to say that grants them the award of favorite books. I was at the end of the generation NOT raised on computers, so the first thing I really did by myself online was make one of those online RP Hogwarts and I had SO much fun going through each of the books over and over to add to my site. (I was very sad when Geocities closed in October and I lost all my work.)

3. Why do you love to read?

When I was a child I used to love to read, then in High School and during my first two years of college I basically stopped reading anything but textbooks. So, I have come to the conclusion that I only like reading when I want and what I want, not when or what I'm told to. It's just so much more enjoyable that way and I wish schools/textbook publishers would realize that so they could find a way to make required reading more entertaining/enjoyable or not be quite as strict on their requirements.

4. How do you choose your books?

I am a cover/title junkie. If I notice a book's cover or title that sounds catchy, I'll try to read it. I also enjoy reading a book that has been made into a movie, if I liked the movie. And of course I read other book blogs and get recommendations from friends/family/co-workers.

5. If you had to narrow it down - who would be your 3 favourite authors and what would be your 3 favourite books?

My three favorite authors would be JK Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and Stephenie Meyer. My three favorite books would be The Shack by William P. Young and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Tied for third are The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom and A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks.

6. When and why did you start your blog?

I started my blog back in January of '09, two months after I started working at my current library when I found out that the previous summer all employees had been required to start a blog for experiment/training purposes. I didn't realize it could be so fun until last November when I started bothering to keep it updated regularly.

7. What do you love about book blogging?

I think it's a great way to share things I learn, to keep track of things I do for work for future reference, and a GREAT stress reliever. Plus, it never hurts to practice writing.

8. What tips do you have to offer to other book bloggers?

If you're thinking of starting a blog, just do it. You'll never know if you like it without trying it. The worst that can happen is you don't like it and can stop whenever you want. I would also suggest to make connections. If someone follows you and you like their stuff, follow back. Even people you only know online are more likely to help you when you need it if you actually talk to them. Find a blogger you can use as an inspiration, but give them credit if you use any of their ideas.Giveaways are a great way to increase traffic to your blog! :)

I'm glad there is someone else out there that likes Mitch Albom, I really enjoyed reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven, it was very thought provoking.
I hope everyone checks out Elisabeth's blog.

If anyone else is interested in being featured on Lights Camera Blog Action, please send an email to pageturnersbooks@gmail.com

Thoughtful Thursday: Unfinished series

Thoughtful Thursday is an opportunity to discuss things book and blog related. It might be an issue that has been mentioned in the media, or something about people's reading or blogging habits.

Unfinished series

As I was writing the most recent Great Authors post (on JK Rowling) I started thinking about the good things and the bad things about reading a series of books. The best thing about it for me is definitely the fact that the story is so more involved than a stand alone novel, in the sense that it goes on for a significantly longer period of time. You get to spend more time with the characters and often this means you fall in love with them that little bit more.

I was thinking about my favourite series; Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings... and then I thought about The Clan of the Cave Bear or Earth's Children series by Jean M Auel.

Has anyone else read this series?

It is an immense saga set in prehistoric times, as cro-magnum's are coming into their own and neanderthals are dyeing out. Ayla is a cro-magnum, or an Other, but is raised by the neanderthals, or The Clan, after she is found by them as a young girl. The series documents her life; her trials and tribulations.

There are 5 books in the series. The first was published in 1980 and the last in 2002. The final book of the series hasn't even been written yet!!! That is 22 years it has taken to not even complete a series.

Call me crazy, but this seems excessive. Here is my quandary. I looove this series. I think it is wonderful. I have to admit that each book is a little bit worse than the one that precedes it, until the fifth book The Shelters of Stone is bordering on just plain boring. But because I have fallen in love with Ayla, I need to finish the series - but am I going to have to wait another 8 years?

I find this extremely frustrating.

Is there anyone else out there that is a fan of the Clan of the Cave Bear series that is finding this as frustrating as I am? Are there any other series that you know of, or are a fan of that have not yet been completed?

The Reader's Bill of Rights

I came across this today and fell in love. I cannot take credit, it comes from Kittling: Books, a blog I highly recommend to everyone.

The Reader's Bill of Rights

All readers have:
  • the right not to read
  • the right to skip pages
  • the right not to finish
  • the right to reread
  • the right to read anything
  • the right to escapism
  • the right to read anywhere
  • the right to browse
  • the right to read out loud
  • the right not to defend their tastes

I think this is wonderful - a reader's bill of rights. My particular favourites are:

  • the right to skip pages - I can be a bit guilty of this, I am also guilty of skimming,
  • the right to read anywhere - that's why I love my iphone, I can have a book wherever I go and I will read wherever I am because of it, sometimes it gets me into trouble for reading at inappropriate times or places but I can't help myself, and
  • the right to read out loud - I love reading out loud and my boyfriend hates it, but every now and then he gives in lets me read to him, sometimes we compromise and I read the sports pages from the newspaper to him

This is going to be my new personal manifesto - it is going on the fridge where it belongs

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

I had long wanted to read a book by Kate Grenville. I had heard her speak at the Sydney Book Fair and also on various pod casts that I had downloaded and had always thought that she sounded so articulate and intelligent.

The book itself has won many awards and been shortlisted for others; Commonwealth Writers Prize 2006, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize and Community Relations Award, Fellowship of Australian Writers' Christina Stead Award, Literary Fiction Book of the Year and Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards 2006, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award 2006 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006.

My friends had also recommended her books to me so when I finally had the opportunity to purchase The Secret River, I jumped at the chance.

From the back cover: "William Thornhill is sentenced in 1806 to be transported to New South Wales, for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and children in tow, he arrives in a harsh land that feels, at first, like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a whisper, that freedom can be bought - an opportunity to start afresh." For William Thornhill, starting afresh means the purchasing of land along the Hawkesbury and fighting for it when the true owners of the land, the Aboriginals, assert their own ownership.

The feelings I had about this book encapsulate how I have been feeling about a few books recently. The story caught my attention and drew me into it to the point where I needed to keep reading, but somehow it still didn't quite meet up to my expectations. I have heard of The Secret River as becoming part of the Australian tradition of historical fiction; comparing it to books like The True History of the Kelly Gang and books by Thomas Keneally. With such high recommendations, great comparisons and so many awards, I was expecting something a little more dense, with a little more analysis of the social circumstances at the time of the 'colonisation' of Sydney, and in turn greater analysis of the colonisation as it affected the Aboriginal population. I know this is a novel, not a non-fiction book, but having heard Kate Grenville speak in such an intelligent and analytical way on so many interesting issues, I think I just expected something with greater depth.

The story had such potential to be an epic novel, but it fell just short of short of that. When I think about it, this book would have been better as even a short tighter story or else a longer more epic story (but then again, who am I to give advice!).

This all sounds very negative, but please don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book.

Aboriginals This book did tackle issues surrounding the 'colonisation' of Sydney from a different perspective from what I am used to. It explores the practical reality of the appropriation of Aboriginal land at the hands of the whites. This is really what the book is about, so I won't go into it too much because I don't want to spoil the story. I am glad that the book made me think about this from a more practical perspective than I have before, but I still think that it is in this aspect of the story that the book particularly fell down for me in some ways. It wasn't quite emotive or detailed enough to make me really feel what the characters would have been. I wanted to feel like I was there with them, but I couldn't.

Love and Family One of the things I did love was the relationship between William and Sal, and the growth of their family. It was so simple, not sappy like it could have been. They fell in love as children, married, were sent to Australia, raised a large and happy family and stayed true to each other through enormous hardship. Their love was real. Although the final events of the book had an impact upon their relationship it was done in such a realistic, true to life way I appreciated.

Sal and the longing for home I liked that no matter how hard their life had been, and no matter how difficult the challenges they faced making a life in Australia, Sal still pined for home, which was particularly palpable in the final scenes. Sal dealt with her circumstances with a determination and self possession that I only wish I had, and I think that her story is an important lesson in doing the best that you can with what you have.

William William is another issue altogether. I didn't feel for him in the way that I did for Sal, but I liked that despite everything he did, particularly in relation to the final events of the book, he was a good man trying to make the most of his situation for his family. His craving for land was undoubtedly selfish and some without regard for his wife's feelings, but I still believe that he thought he was doing the right thing for them. He reminded me of my legal clients in some ways. When forced into a situation from circumstances largely out of their control, people are often left with no choice but to turn to crime. It is an important message - good people can do bad things, but we all have to do the best we can and live with the consequences of our actions.


What kind of read is it?
It is an easy read, it's enjoyable and well written. Don't expect an epic tale though.

Do I recommend the book?
Despite some misgivings I still recommend reading it. It is by a wonderful Australian author and covers Aboriginal issues from a different perspective to what you would normally read.

Do I recommend that you buy it?
No. Borrow it from the library or a friend.

Star Rating

5 / 8
Good and worth reading if you have the opportunity, but there's no need to prioritise it.

Teaser Tuesday: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Tuesday Teaser is great meme hosted by Should Be Reading and is a great way to find out about new books.
Here are the guidelines: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

"The men in the trenches to the left and right of the hole fell back expecting an attack, but in a little while they realised that the Federals had rushed into the crater and then, amazed at what they had done, just huddled there, confused by that new landscape of pure force."

I think that this is an interesting way to describe the reality of war.

Sorry for the shameless advertising, but I also wanted to let people know about a new meme I am hosting called Book Beginnings on Friday, the aim of which is to share the first sentence of your current read with everyone. You can see Week 1's post here and Week 2's post here. Check it out this Friday.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is now hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books. It is a chance for us to share with other book bloggers what we have just finished reading, what we are currently reading and what we are reading next.

Just finished

The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter
Review is on the way!

Currently reading

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
I am really enjoying this one, it is very well written and I love the way it is made up of little stories in the one big one. I don't seem to be getting into it as much as some people seem to have, but maybe I need to get a bit further into it. I am about half way now.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I am nearly finished this ebook.

Up Next

The Double Crown by Marie Heese
I was sent this book by the author to review. The book is up for nomination for the Commonwealth Writers Prize in the African region so I am really looking forward to reading it.

Great Authors: JK Rowling

Great Authors is a fortnightly feature I have started to discuss my favourite authors.

*This is late, I know. In fact by my calculation it is a week late, but I figure, it's better late than never :-)

J K Rowling (aka Joanne Rowling)

Today I thought that I would dedicate Great Authors to JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard (which I have reviewed here), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Though the Ages.

I have to admit that I like the rest (most) of the world have been sucked into this series. I don't know what it is exactly but the story, the characters and the magical world in which they live are so beautifully crafted that this series completely carries me away into the world it creates like not many other books have done before. Other series that I can think have had the same effect on me are LOTR by JRR Tolkein and the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M Auel (although a little less with each book in this series).

What didn't become apparent until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was just how detailed the entire plot actually was; seemingly inconsequential things in earlier books turned out to have significant meaning, and I enjoyed seeing everything tied off so well. I have reviewed the final book of the series, in fact, it was my very first ever review (so excuse me if it is not very good). You can read the review here.

What the Harry Potter series has seen me do that the other series has not (although in all fairness this wasn't possible for LOTR), is to take a day off work each time the new book is released, queue outside the bookshop waiting to purchase the book, and then spend the day reading the book until it is finished. Yes, I know I am a super dag, but only Harry Potter would have me doing this.

I know that this isn't supposed to be a review of the series, it is supposed to be about JK Rowling. The reason I chose to discuss JK Rowling in 'Great Authors', however, is that she created this world for us. She has had an interesting life, which you can read about on the Internet. It includes achieving a classics degree and working as a researcher for Amnesty International, both of which I find rather impressive.

If anyone hasn't read this wonderful series, please try. I know that sometimes people have a tendency not to read something because of its popularity (I felt like that about Twilight for a long time), but I have never met anyone who has read Harry Potter and not enjoyed it. It is magical.

A Blast from the Past: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

A Blast From the Past is a meme for people to review a book that they read before they started blogging. It doesn't have to be a favourite, it might be that you didn't enjoy it. It is about sharing a book from your past with others.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My boyfriend's sister gave this to me for Christmas 2008. I had heard of the Shifting Fog by Kate Morton and always wanted to read it, so I was very excited to have one of her books to read. It was a very easy read, nothing challenging, but also one that kept you interested to the end.

It is the story that traces a mysterious family history spanning 3 different generations. Cassandra's grandmother Nell passes away, leaving her an old English cottage. She visits the cottage and in the process begins to unravel the family secret, learned by her grandmother on her 21st birthday and going back even further to the mysterious Eliza Makepeace.

It was intriguing watching this family history slowly unravel. The characters are very real and as I read I wanted desperately to see them all happy.

My only complaint is that it was a bit predictable. I use 'mystery' loosely. Before the end I had already figured it out. Morton tried to give it a twist, she tries to set it up so that you think one thing, but then the truth is revealed. The problem is, I saw the truth first.

Other than that, a very enjoyable book I very much recommend.

Please join in by leaving a comment or leaving a link to your own Blast from the Past in the Mr Linky below.