Request for assistance!

I am still attempting to alter the design of Page Turners. I was hoping that people could please offer me some advice on the current layout? 

I have had to give up my header because it doesn't match my new background, which I love and want to keep. Unfortunately, I feel like the current header is really boring. I want something simple and classy but with some colour that maches my new background and colour scheme. Unfortunately I have no idea how I can go about this? Has anyone else been mucking around with the new blogger templates and know how to do this?

I also wondered if anyone had any tips about how to improve it. I know it's my blog, but I would still like to think that people enjoy looking at it themselves and so I would love your feedback given the difficulties that I am currently having.

Thank you!

Changes to blog design

As you may have noticed, there are currently some changes taking place on Page Turners. Please bare with me. I hope that they are not too distracting.

I am definitely not very good as this web design stuff. As you can see, the tabs under my header have all moved over the left, rather than being justified, and I am struggling to fix this (amoungst many other things).

Thanks for your patience.

How do you feel about memes?

There was a very interesting post I saw on Smitten With Books recently, entitled: How do you feel about memes?

It was a timely question because it was somthing that I have been thinking about lately. I recently cut out a lot of my special features, and have been thinking about narrowing it down a little burther by cutting out at least one the memes I currently participate in. Not because I dislike them, but because I am finding it very difficult with work at the moment to find the time to keep up with them all.

It's a good questions though - how many memes are too many memes.
If you are interested in this, I suggest that you read her post about it, and the comments that other people have left about the issue. It is interesting reading.


Book Beginnings on Friday



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.

Thank you to Rose City Reader for giving me the idea for this meme. On Rose City Reader you will find 'Opening Sentences of the Day' so please have a look at this wonderful blog for further opportunities to share opening sentences.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

"I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic , though most people find themselves to be hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations."

I am excited about reading this. It's an Australian author and I hear so many good things about it. That first line isn't the best that I have read, but it definitely gets me interested.

What about you? Post a link to your Book Beginnings on Friday in the Mr Linky below.

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 Babettes Book Blog. Its a wonderful blog with great reviews, and I hope you all enjoy learning more about the creator.

1. Tell us something about yourself.

My husband is a professional photographer, and so in addition to my real job in healthcare communications, I’m a wedding photographer.

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

As an elementary school kid, I loved the original Warner Box Car Children series. As I got a little older, I fell for Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series and the romance of prairie life. I read The Trouble with Thirteen and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret enough times to memorize them. I couldn’t wait to grow up and was fascinated with anything I thought would get me there faster.

3. Why do you love to read?

Escapism? Ha! Seriously, I love the written word. I also am incredibly interested in the human soul, its emotions and how we relate to each other. Good stories provide insight into these realms, and when an author combines this with the beauty of a uniquely turned phrase, I think they’ve created art.

4. How do you choose your books?

I rely on recommendations a lot – from friends who are avid readers and from other bloggers. But I also read about books as much as I can and so occasionally I’ll read a synopsis that strikes me as interesting. If an author I’ve read and liked has something new, I’ll typically pick that up as well.

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

This is so hard, but to do this I have to revert to classics: Shakespeare, Dickens and Poe are my favorites because they are masters of characters and story. The book question is nearly impossible, too. If I were stranded on an island and could only have three books to sustain me for the rest of my life, I would definitely choose the Bible, but then probably A Tale of Two Cities and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

6. When and why did you start your blog?

I started my blog in March 2009 as a way to track the books I read and my opinions about them as well as a way to force myself to start writing again. I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, and like many others, I dream of publishing a novel. I know that writing regularly is key, and so I wanted to have blog that help me in that habit.

7. What do you love about book blogging?

I love the interaction with others about books. There is nothing that I love more than a good book discussion, and so when that happens online, I get so excited. Through these discussions, I’ve “met” some really interesting people who, like me, love a great story. It is fun to compare notes with them.

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

My advice for new bloggers is to keep it real. Remember why you started blogging and let that be your motivation. Blogger burn-out has been a frequent topic lately. There is so much out there for us, and sometimes it is hard to not get sucked into a new fad or feature. I wonder how many of those suffering from burn-out are doing so because they’ve gotten away from why they started in the first place. I say, unless your blog is earning you a living, make it about you and what you want to share.

I think it's great your favourite is Possesion by AS Byatt because I hated it! Sounds crazy, but that's one of the wonderful things about books, it's the same book, but the reader's perspective makes it so different.
If you are interested in participating in Lights Camera Blog Action, just send me an email to pageturnersbooks@gmail.com and I will send you the questions

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett


Book Details

To be advised

Book Review

I was excited when I realised that I had purchased this book (I bought it as 1 of about 20 so I wasn't thinking much when I flung it into by shopping bag). I was excited for 2 reasons. Firstly, it has my name in the title (ie. it gives me delusions of grandeur) and secondly, because it was written by Ken Follett. I have heard many good things about The Pillars of the Earth so I thought what a good way to be introduced to his work.

It was a good book, albeit not really my thing. The book is described as espionage fiction, that is, the story is about a battle between 2 men in Egypt in WWII. One of the men, Alex Woolff, is a German assassin sent into Egypt to steal secrets, and the other, Vandam, is a member of the English army whose job it is to protect their secrets. Vandam gets closer and closer to catching Woolf as the book progresses and Woolff makes more and more errors. I won't spoil the ending, but don't expect any surprises.

The title may seem weird but it does make sense. Woolff uses the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to send coded messages to the Germans. Vandam is after the key that will decode the messages that he is sending.

It was a good book, there is no doubt about that. I think to be honest, these crime/thriller/war books just really aren't my thing. It is a book to read when you don't want to use much brain power if you think. Some of it was plausible and some was not. Woolff was able to disappear into Egyptian society because he grew up in Egypt, and knows a lot of the petty criminals in the city. The story wasn't so implausible that I couldn't read it, but it was a bit far fetched. As was the sexual activity he participated in with his 'girlfriend' of sorts.

Woolff was such an odd character. Sometimes he seemed almost normal, other times very sinister and towards the end very crazy. This inconsistency bothered me a bit. Vandam on the other hand was a very solid and 'English' character, and the love story that develops between him and courtesan Elene was strange but not entirely unbelievable.

One of the things that I found most interesting about this book, was that it explored different characters motivations for their involvements in the war. Woolff had German parentage and therefore wanted to assist the Germs remove the English from Egypt. Vandam was English. Others, however, had more complicated reasoning which I thought was really interesting. It also in a way took the piss out the English's occupation of Egypt. The Egyptians didn't like the English, and were celebrating when the Germans got close, thinking they were going to be liberated. It is these complicated cultural issues that were considered in the book that held the most interest for me.

Summary

What kind of read is this?
In some ways it is your usual thriller book, but it is different because I think the writing is better quality.

Do I recommend this book?
Yes, but for those times when you want a book that doesn't challenge you.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Definitely not. Just borrow it.


Star Rating

5 / 8

Good and worth reading if you have the opportunity, but I wouldn't prioritise it.


Really interesting articles about authors, books and writing


This blog post is essentially a link to various different articles that I feel other people might be interested in reading. They all come from the Sydney Morning Herald's book section and all are very interesting.

From blog to blah blah blah asks the question: will our addiction to the internet kill literature. I thought this was one particularly important for us bloggers.

Author investigated over rebel ties is about an author most have heard of, Arundhati Roy, who has been accused of having rebel ties and is being investigated accordingly. Very interesting.

Ink-Stinct: Writing a Book Worth Reading is an article about a book that discusses the 10 rules of writing. It gives a sample of a paragraph that has broken at least 9 of those rules and is very amusing.

Lost in Austen and Androids is an article about the literary mash of classics and new works. Those books that are Pride and Prejudice and Zombies etc. It contains the perspective of the authors of these works.

Scout's honour: To salute a literary masterpiece is an article celebrating the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Serial novellism no work of fiction discusses those authors that produce books over and over again as if they are on a production line.

The Spare Room by Helen Garner



I had wanted to read this book for a very very long time. A few months ago when I was waiting in an airport with my mother, I suggested that she purchase it. Then finally I was able to borrow it. I was not disappointed, this book was wonderful. 

It is an Australian novel, and I think accurately reflects life in suburban Melbourne. Having said that, it is not really about life in suburban Melbourne, it is a lot more specific than that. It is the story of Helen, a writer whose hippie friend from Sydney, Nicola, comes to stay with her for three weeks whilst she undergoes some alternative therapy to treat the terminal cancer she is suffering from. 

This book explored two main themes: the human reaction to the knowledge of impending death, and the reality of what it is to care for others in these times of need. It is how honestly it portrays these realities that makes this book so special. Nicola will not accept that she is marked for death. She is absolutely unwilling to accept it. Instead, she fights death tooth and nail through a series of alternative treatments that she is convinced will her cure her once and for all. It seems to the reader that what is driving her to fight so steadily is her sense of failure. She is not satisfied with her life, she does not have a family or a partner, and she does not want to lose her life feeling unsatisfied with it. The problem is, she is totally unable or unwilling to acknowledge the pressure that her attitude places on others. To use the old Australian phrase to describe her attitude, she thinks "she'll be right". 

This means that she doesn't understand that her illness effects those around her. She causes them worry because no one wants death to take Nicola by surprise, and it means that Nicola doesn't take anyone seriously when they try to discuss their concerns with her. 

Then we see what Helen goes through caring for Nicola. In fact, the book is written from Helen's point of view. The author doesn't shirk from showing just how hoard it is to care for someone like Nicola. Helen can't cope with it. She can't cope with the physical strain and staying up all night and then all day, the stress of having to limit her contact with her gran daughter and the emotional stress of dealing with a person who isn't dealing with their own problems. I love that at the end she point blank refuses to allow Nicola to stay with her any longer, and is willing to allow Nicola to do things the hard way because she herself can't cope anymore. This is honesty, and probably a very accurate reflection of the realities that people in these situations face. 

All in all, a beautiful exploration of the realities of human existence. 

Summary  

What kind of read is this? 
Very short and easy, but meaningful. 

Do I recommend this book? 
Absolutely, it's wonderful. It's real. It's heartfelt. It's heart wrenchingly honest. 

Do I recommend that you buy it? 
All in all, I think that it's probably not necessary unless you find it has specific meaning for you in your life. 

Star Rating 

6.5 / 8 

Brilliant, couldn't it put down.

Teaser Tuesday: Suracing by Margaret Atwood


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!


Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
"We're opposite the cliff, grey slab of rock straight as a monument, overhanging slightly, ledge like a step half way up, brown rock lichen growing in fissure. I put a lead sinker and a different spoon and a frsh worm on David's line and toss it over; the worm drops, pink, pink-brown, till it disappears in the shadow of the cliff."

I am really enjoying this book by my favourite author, even if it isn't one of my favourites her hers. What I love about it is that it seems so real, so much more real than many authors are capable of creating.

Its 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

Well, after reading through 7 or so hours of Dewey's Read-a-thon this weekend, I have a few that I have read recently.

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
I was excited to find that I owned another book with my name in the title, and I definitely enjoyed this book (even if I have learnt that espionage fiction isn't really my thing).

Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom
I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. In fact, I heard about it at the Sydney Writers Festival 2009, and we are now about to have the Sydney Writers Festival 2010. This is definitely the case of the too high expectations making the book not quite as good as you expect.

Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings
I bought this at the Sydney Book Fair last year and have finally read it, and I have to say, not very good.

Currently Reading

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
I love Margaret Atwood and this is one of her earliest works. I expect to finish it tomorrow or the day after. So far so good!

Up Next

The Book Thief by Markus Zusack. I have noticed that the Sydney Writers Festival is having a discussion session about the books of Roberto Bolano, a Chilean author I have always wanted to read. So, I think that I might also look into borrowing one of his books to read after I finished The Book Thief.

Now my challenge is going to be writing all these reviews. I am in back to back trials at the moment so I honestly don't know if I will get the chance to regularly participate in my favourite memes in the coming weeks, let alone write reviews, but I will do my best :-)

Sydney Writers Festival 2010


Well, it is almost time for the Sydney Writers Festival! I can't wait, I look forward to it every year. This year there are not quite as many talks that I am interested in attending as last year, but in some ways that makes it easier to choose. Now I have to look at my financial situation and determine how many ticketed events I can afford to attend.

Elizabeth Gilbert is going to be giving a talk about Forgiveness which I am looking forward too, and there are many sessions that focus on Australian history and Australian literature, so I will be looking forward to them.

Here is the link to my schedule if anyone wants to check out what I will be going to see.

I can't wait.

Read-a-thon Mini Update


Oh my goodness, how can people out there have been doing this for 19 hours straight? I have been going for about 6 or 7 and I am totally restless. It has taken me the last couple of hours to get a few chapters into a book, I can't maintain focus!! Hope everyone else is getting through what they wanted to - only 4 hours to go!

Hour 18 Update


Title of current read: Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

Title of book(s) read since last update: Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings


Number of books read since you started: 3

Running total of time spent reading since you started: 6 hours? I am losing track

Mini-challenges completed: Get the Heck out of Here Mini Challenge, Bookish Movies, Where in the World are You Reading, Romancing Your Friendship, Mid Event Challenge and Get Up and Move Challenge.

Other participants you’ve visited: Lots and lots.

Prize you’ve won: Nil :-(

Get the Heck Out of Here Mini Challenge

This challenge is hosted at The Literate Housewife Review!

These are the questions that she has asked us to answer:
  1. What steps did you take to ensure you’d be able to read as much as possible today?
I am at home alone. I don't think I could have done it if someone else had been here to distract me. I made sure that the books I decided to read were shortish books, and I have a pile next to my reading place ready to go. I have chosen the sunniest place in the house so that there is good light, and sun, which should should keep me going through the rest of the read-a-thon. I have made sure that I have had breaks when I needed, and I put time aside to stop reading for a lunch break, very important for mental and physical health. No television, just music in the background.
  1. Of those steps, which proved to be the most beneficial to your day?
Definitely having a good reading space. It is so bright and warm here (without being warm enough to send me to sleep) that I can keep reading and reading.
  1. Is there anything you might do differently next time?
Next time I will try and go the full 24 hours. I am a person that needs sleep, and I have a big criminal trial starting on Monday in which I am the instructing solicitor, so I knoew that this time around I couldn't afford to tire myself out right before work this week. Next time though, I think I will do all the same things, but try and aim for the full 24 hours. I know my hardest times will be throughout the night, so I think the plan will be that when I find myself slipping into sleep, I will get up and go for a walk to refresh myself.

Hour 16 Update




Title of current read: Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings. I have to admit that I am not enjoying this one at all.

Title of book(s) read since last update: Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom

Number of books read since you started: 2

Running total of time spent reading since you started: 5 hours 2 minutes

Mini-challenges completed: Bookish Movies, Where in the World are You Reading, Romancing Your Friendship, Mid Event Challenge and Get Up and Move Challenge.

Other participants you’ve visited: Too many to count, but I haven't been as good at commenting as I should be. Too focused on reading.

Prize you’ve won: Nil :-(

Bookish Movies Mini Challenge




Lydia at The Lost Entwife is hosting this one - what book would like you turned into a movie and who would play one of the main characters?

I am going to choose Father Frank by Paul Burke.

I reviewed it here in my meme A Blast from the Past.


I love this book because it a lighthearted exploration of important issues - religion, love, honesty and coming to know yourself. Briefly, it is the story of a Roman Catholic Priest who doesn't believe in God, but loves his job. It is not until he falls in love that he re-thinks his life path.


I think that I would have Ashley Judd playing the role of Sarah Marshall, the woman that makes Frank question his life choices.

Read-a-thon Mini Update


Now that it is getting closer to 11.00am I feeling the pressure to get through some more books. So, I have decided to shake things up:
  • I have had a second shower, washed and blow dried my hair and got changed;
  • I have put a big pot of coffee on the stove and it is currently brewing, tempting me with the delicious coffee smells;
  • I have put some crumpets on to toast for breakfast;
  • I have changed location - I am now all set up in the dining room which is the sunniest room in the house;
  • I have put some music on - MAX channel on foxtel, which I have playing through the stereo. They are currently playing the top 25 High School songs, followed by the Top 100 Albums of all time, so that should give me some variety throughout the day; and
  • I have chosen a lot of books (more than I will get through) and put them in a big pile just next to me.
The books in my challenge TBR pile are:
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving),
  • Moral Hazard (Kate Jennings),
  • Surfacing (Margaret Atwood),
  • Remembering Babylon (David Malouf)and
  • Selected Stories (Anton Chekov).
Anyone have any tips about which to tackle next?

Romancing Your Friendship Mini Challenge


Emma by Jane Austen

My choice for this mini-challenge (hosted at Star Shadow Creative Mishaps) is Emma and Mr Knightly.

Here is the back of the book:
First published in 1816, Jane Austen's EMMA is about an unconventional heroine--and one whom Austen thought no one but herself would like. Emma Woodhouse is bright, beautiful, and rich; she is also snobbish and judgmental, and she can be cruel, with a tendency to interfere in other people's lives. The novel chronicles Emma's attempts to make a match between a hapless vicar who is, in fact, enamored of Emma herself, and her friend Harriet, a poor and simple young woman in love with a farmer. Unlike many of Austen's heroines, Emma is possessed of very little good sense; her absurd machinations complicate the lives of everyone involved--and, needless to say, get nowhere. Emma, however, learns from her mistakes and gains some badly needed insight into herself as she discovers her feelings for the older, steady, aristocratic Mr. Knightley. The novel moves toward a not unexpected but perfectly satisfying conclusion, and in the process introduces Austen's usual cast of amusing, pretentious, hypocritical, and/or dim-witted characters, including the appalling, nouveau riche Mrs. Elton, and Emma's widowed father, one of the most insufferable (and delightful) neurotics in literature.

I first read this book when I was in High School and absolutely fell in love. I love Emma for all her weaknesses and good intentions. I love that her friendship with Mr Knightly was fun and light, and yet from it came such a strong and ardent love. I love that they each had faults and strengths that complimented each other so wonderfully. I love that it took them so long to realise their true feelings for each other - I think for a lot of people, it is time that makes such feelings clear and these two are an example of that. The more time you spend getting to know someone, the closer to them you feel and this is where their love comes from.

It is for these reasons that I think they should be the top friends to lovers couple.

Dewey's Read-a-thon 12 hours


Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom

2. How many books have you read so far? 2

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? That's really tricky, all of them!

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not really, but if my DP hadn't have happened to co-incidentally been at work I wouldn't have been able to do this.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? The only interruption was sleep. Now its morning, so no interruptions yet. I know that at 3.00pm my time a friend will be coming over to drop off a bike, so I am hoping that I can send them away pretty quickly without being to rude,

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How many people are participating!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Not at this stage, I will have to think about it.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Put my foot down and try and do the 24hours.

9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Not really, but if I think of any I will let everyone know!

Dewey's Read-a-thon Hour 11 (+mini challenge)


I am finally getting around to a new post about the read-a-thon. I wasn't able to stay awake so I had to have some sleep, but it is now 9.00am Sydney time and I am back to reading.

I have just started a book called Lost in Paradise by Cees Nooteboom. I first heard about this book almost a year ago at the Sydney Writers Festival, where I saw the author read from the book to a room of a few hundred people. He really fascinated me and the book sounded wonderful. I never got around to reading it, but when I went the library yesterday to look at books for the read-a-thon, I saw this sitting on the shelf. It hadn't even occurred to me to look for it. So I took this as a sign and borrowed it. I can't wait to get started!

I hope that everyone else is going strong, especially those that haven't caved in like me and had a nice refreshing snooze.

Get up and Move Challenge

As soon as I woke up I checked the Read-a-thon website and saw the Get Up and Move Challenge by Jehra. I figured this was a great way to wake up and get into it.

So I got out of bed, got straight into my walking gear and did a lap around the block. Perfect way to wake up. I had a quick shower, got back into my pyjamas, set my laptop up in the bedroom and now I am comfortably back in bed ready to read!

And that's my little update for now.

Go readers!