Book Blogger Hop

ABOUT THE HOP


The Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Crazy for Books.

In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all book bloggers and readers a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

ABOUT PAGE TURNERS

For those of you who haven't visited before, please feel free to check out the 'About Page Turners' page in the tool bar above. I have been blogging for some time now, and am really enjoying myself.

Today you will find posts on Page Turners called Lights Camera Blog Action (where i have interviewed Susi from The Book Affair) and Book Beginnings on Friday (where you can join in by sharing the opening line of your current read).

I reviewed Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings this week, and also discussed the controversy surrounding the Australian Miles Franklin Award. You will also find a post about my experiences at a local Book Fair I went to last weekend.

I hope you enjoy Page Turners.

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 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
 
Prologue:

            "It happened every year, was almost a ritual."

Chapter 1:
"The Trial was irretrievably over; everything that could be said had been said, but he never doubted that he would lose."
Both opening lines are short and too the point, but I can't say that they are the best I have ever read. They don't really reflect much about the book. I can say that I am enjoying this book a lot. It was slow to get started, but now that I am half way through I am finally so into it that I can't put it down!

Silk by Alessandro Baricco

When I wrote this post yesterday, and scheduled it for today, I thought that I would still be reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo today. As it turns out, I couldn't put it down and finished it off last night. So I am now currently reading Silk by Alessandro Baricco and thought I would share it's opening line as well.
"Although his father had pictured for him a brilliant future in the army, Herve Joncour had ended up earning his crust in an unusual career which, by a singular piece of irony, was not unconnected with a charming side that bestowed on it a vaguely feminine intonation".
Now that is more my kind of opening line. I love a love long first sentence, and the style in which is it written and what it says about the book from the beginning tells me that I will enjoy this one. And I am.

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

Lights, Camera, Blog Action!

Announcement: Next week, and for all weeks following, Lights Camera Blog Action will be posted on a Thursday, rather than a Friday. I have a wonderful blog lined up, so make sure you check in next Thursday.

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 Susi from The Book Affair. her blog is very new and so it would be wonderful if people could head over and give her some support.

1. Tell us something about yourself

My name is Susi and I'm a twenty-something University graduate from Germany. I've got degrees in English, American and French Studies (with emphasis on Literature) and I really hope to be working in publishing one day. I'm an avid reader and thanks to my studies, I was able to concentrate on my hobby full time.

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

I remember receiving Frances Hogson Burnett's 'The Secret Garden' when I was about 8 or 9. I read it so many times that I could recite whole passages. Then I did a class on Children's Literature last year and I had to read 'The Secret Garden' for it again and it brought back so many pleasant memories.

3. Why do you love to read?

For me, reading is a way to escape the world and to be a part of a different one. If I'm in serious need of cheering up, I just take some time for myself with my favourite books and I'm sure to be on top of the world again soon.

4. How do you choose your books?

Blogging and reading blogs has definitely influenced my reading habits - Mount TBR is as high as ever. I also love browsing through book shops and have a look at what is new and if I like the blurb, then I'll get it. Then, thanks to my studies, I had to read many authors which were new to me and are not among my favourites.

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

Wow, that's really difficult. My three favourite authors would probably be Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Sarah Waters. The first two are inspired by my studies, I've had to read so many classics and I only have fond memories of reading the first two. The last one, Waters, came to me by surprise, but her work inspired my MA thesis and I now count her among my favourites.

My three favourite books:

Helen Walsh - Once Upon a Time in England (you can find a review on my blog, read it for my thoughts) --> The book is just so full of raw emotions that my heart broke reading it. And when a book can move me that much, it must be amazing.

Jhumpa Lahiri - Interpreter of Maladies --> This is a collection of short stories, but Lahiri's language is so imaginative and her stories are so wonderful that I can't but re-read them again and again.

Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner --> I have to admit I only bought this book because it was on the bestselling lists. But I was so surprised by how great it was, I couldn't put it down.

6. When and why did you start your blog?

I only started my blog (The Book Affair) last week, so I really am an absolute newcomer. I've been lurking in the blogging community for so long now though that at some point I just decided that it was time to come out of the woodwork and take part actively. My blog is still really young and doesn't contain that many posts, so it's hardly representative of my reading habits, but if you'll give it a chance, we - my blog and I - will try to prove ourselves.

7. How did you decide upon the name of your blog?

It really wasn't easy to decide upon a name. I had a look at my books to see of one of them could inspire me and I my eyes rested on Jasper Fforde's 'The Eyre Affair'. I then thought 'The Book Affair' would be an appropriate title - the blog is about my love affair with books.

8. What do you love about book blogging?

I haven't been a blogger for that long, but I most definitely love the community. I've had such a warm welcome, I was completely overwhelmed by how nice everyone was. Then I love that I can discover so many new and great books that I have never heard of before. Just by lurking and reading posts I have found so many great authors and books that I would have never discovered without book blogs.

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

I really can't offer any tips, seeing as I'm so new. But I can repeat the most important advice I've gotten last week - have fun, never forget to have fun!

I loved The Secret Garden as a child as well. I always used to imagine that I had my own secret garden with a key. Thanks for participating!

If anyone else is interested in participating in Lights Camera Blog Action, please send me an email to pageturnersbooks@gmail.com and I will send you the questions.

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

I love all things Margaret Atwood and this wasn't an exception.

I purchased this last year at the Sydney Book Fair and it took me this long to get around to reading it. I finally read it as part of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. 

I really enjoyed it, just like I enjoy everything by Margaret Atwood. However, I have to admit, it was very different to what I am used to from Atwood. That might be accounted for the fact that it is her second novel and I am used to reading her more recent fiction and non-fiction.

The story is that of a woman (who's name is not revealed) who returns to her hometown in Canada with her boyfriend and another couple. She returns because her father has gone missing and she hopes to unravel some of the mystery surrounding some of the disappearance. 

Instead what happens is that slowly the relationships around her begin to unravel, and eventually she unravels as well.

I won't go into too much detail about how exactly she unravels. This is one of those books where it is a challenge to write a meaningful review without actually giving away the ending. Sometimes I think that it isn't possible to review a book properly without discussing the ending. However, I know people don't like the end being spoiled and so I won't. If, however, some of my discussion of the book doesn't make sense, that is why. 

I will say this, I was very confused by the ending. I didn't really see her personal crisis coming, and I didn't entirely understand it either. 

The main character was very confusing in many different ways. She seemed so aloof from life and from herself. She didn't seem to be able to process the world around her, and part of that seemed to be an inability to properly interact with others. It was like there was a barrier that prevented her from really accessing her feelings and thoughts, and a barrier that prevented her from accessing others around her. She is just so disengaged from herself and the world around her. Perhaps it is these barriers that account for the strange way in which she unravels at the end of the book? She reminded me a lot of the main character is Camus's The Outsider for anyone that has read that book. 

There were two other things that really struck me as I read the book. The first was the true beauty of the nature around the characters. The main characters family home is in the wilderness on an island in Quebec. There is an outdoor toilet and a wood stove. They fish and use vegetables from the vegetable garden as there is not a grocery store. No television or radio. The entertainment is self made. It reminded me that sometimes it;s nice to do something different and get back to nature. 

The second was just how strangely women were portrayed. I think that is accounted for by the change in time, but I was really struck me at time just how negative it was. I am not sure that I can even put my finger on what gave me this impression. It was the way in which the main character discussed her earlier marriage and particularly the way in which the married couple dealt with each other. 

Reading over this review you might think that I sound a bit confused. I am not confused, but this book is quite difficult to review. I account for this in the wonderful way in which is written. The prose as amazing, beautifully descriptive, and sets the scene with such clarity that you feel as if you are there watching the characters as the story unfolds. 


Summary


What kind of read is this?
It is a very short book, but don't be mislead. It is a challenging read, but challenging in a rewarding way. 


Do I recommend this book?
Yes, especially if you are an Atwood fan. 


Do I recommend that you buy this book?
I would recommend that you buy all Atwood books generally, but this is still not one of my favourites so I would say borrowing it from the library would be sufficient. 


Star Rating

6 / 8

Really enjoyable and well written. I would recommend it. 





Miles Franklin vs Prime Minister's Literary Awards


For those of you who are not from Australia or are not a big follower of literary awards, in Australia there are two main literary awards: The Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister's Literary Award.

The photo above is a photo of Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, the woman after whom the Miles Franklin Award is named. She is probably most famous for her novels My Brilliant Career and My Career Goes Bung. You can read my reviews of these books by clicking on their title.

The Miles Franklin Award was established in 1954, and is awarded to the best Australian novel of the year which is actually about Australian life.

On the other hand, there is the new Prime Minister's Literary Awards, which were established recently in 2008.

I always pay attention to The Miles Franklin Award each award and have also tried to see who is winning the Prime Minister's Literary Awards as well.

What I didn't realise was that there is some current discussion about the validity of the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, particularly in light of funding cuts to the more established Miles Franklin Awards. I found this discussion very interesting. An Australian author, Alex Miller, has been arguing that the Miles Franklin Award has slowly been losing its prestige over the years, with funding being reduced and authors taking the awards less and less seriously. He argues that more government funding should be spent on revitalising these awards, rather than establishing new awards all together.

I haven't really done enough research about the issue to hold a definite opinion I could back up in an argument, but from having read some newspaper articles about what Miller has to say, I can certainly see his point. If it is indeed that authors have stopped taking the Miles Franklin seriously, to the extent that they don't even attend to claim their prizes, that would be very sad and I would agree that more effort and maybe funding needs to be committed to this prize.

Here are the links the articles that I have referred to:
For those of you interested, here is the link to the Miles Franklin Award 2010 short list.

Teaser Tuesday: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

"The job of the financial journalist was to examine the sharks who created the interest crises and speculated away the savings of small investors, to scrutinise company boards with the same merciless zeal with which political reporters pursue the tiniest steps out of line of ministers and members of parliament. He could not the for the life of him understand why so many influential financial reporters treated mediocre financial whelps like rock stars."

This book was a little bit slow to get started, but I am starting to get into it now.

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 Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book was amazing and totally worth the money I spent buying I spent buying it brand new.

Gave Up On


I don't think that I ever included a section of my It's Monday post about books that I gave up, but this week I gave up on two books so I thought I should mention them.  

This Side of Paradise by F Scott Fitzgerald
I don't know what it was about this book, but it just didn't suck me in. It was too slow and boring, I just couldn't keep at it right now. It didn't help that I was reading it as an ebook, which means that there are often big gaps between me reading it.  

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami 
I had never read a book by Marakami before and I was excited to read one at last. At first, I thought it was going to be good, but as I went on it just got boring. I put it down in the end and hopefully will come back to it in the future. 


Current Read


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I just started this book this morning in place of Sputnik Sweetheart. So far so good, but I am worried that I have heard so many good things about it my expectations will be too high. It is also very big and will take me a long time to finish, so I might be a bit short on reviews around here. 

Up Next


It feels too far away to be choosing my next book, but it will be an Australian one. 

UNSW Book Fair


Yesterday I went to the University of New South Wales Book Fair. It was the last day of the Book Fair which meant that all the left over books were going cheap cheap cheap. They were selling the books by the box, that is, you paid either $10 or $5 for a box (depending on it's size) and you could fill it to the top! If you wanted to purchase additional books, but you didn't need a whole new box, all the books were half price.


As you can imagine I went a little bit crazy. Admittedly, the variety wasn't there on the last day, but there were still some gems. I purchased a $10 box and a $5 box. 

Then for my favourites. They also sold collectibles at the Book Fair. I purchased a 1928 edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's  An Island Voyage.  

And then my absolute favourite - a book from 1897 entitled Tips on Advocacy, written by a British QC (11th edition). I am a solicitor and so this was a particularly wonderful find for me. It is still in good condition considering it is around 113 years old (that could be wrong, my maths is terrible). I have a had a look through it, and it has tips on advocacy in jury trials, which is exactly the kind of work that I do. The tips are still relevant too. So Tips on Advocacy will be getting pride of place on the book shelf. 

I would love to know if anyone else has ever had a find like that a book sale? I don't mean something necessarily of financial value (I have no idea how much this book might be worth on resale) but something that is really special on a more personal level?