Book Beginnings on Friday

Sorry guys, still no Internet so no Book Beginnings this week. Tune back in next week though!!

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!

If anyone would like to participate email me at pageturnersbooks(at)

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Today I am featuring Amanda from Desert Book Chick. This is a relatively new blog but one that I have found has become essential reading. The reviews are well written and interesting and cover a variety a books. More importantly though, it is a blog that markets itself as a tool for bloggers. It has lots of resources for writing good reviews and building a following (which is particularly useful for new bloggers). She has recently started putting out a monthly newsletter which was a really good read. If you haven't had a look at Amanda's blog yet, make sure you check it out now.

This beautiful image is of Kings Canyon, and is taken from (would you believe it!) Amanda and her husband's front yard in their park house. Amanda's husband is the chief ranger of one of Australia's Northern Territory outback national parks.

1.                  Tell us something about yourself
I’m forty-three years old, and I live in outback Australia, in a famous town called Alice Springs. I have a PhD in Anthropology and work as the Manager of Anthropological Research at a small government agency which protects Aboriginal sacred sites.
I speak Indonesian (I spent a semester in Java at university) and Arrernte, a Central Australian Aboriginal language.
I have two children, Rhiannon (20) and Ben (13). My partner, Gary, is the chief ranger at King’s Canyon (Watarrka) national park. I also have two dogs (one Papillion and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), two cats, and seven chickens.
Besides reading, I love gym, running and yoga, and have worked casually as a fitness instructor for over 20 years. If you read my blog, you’ll know I go camping and hiking a lot, too. I hate grocery shopping, drama queens, and closed-mindedness.
I am also a published author and have won a number of short story competitions.

2.                  What was your favourite book as a child or young adult, and why?
As a child, Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby books were my favourites. This series captured the landscape of the Australian Alps –especially its flora and fauna- in near-poetic prose.
The Silver Brumby books inspired me to write. By the time I was 14, I’d written two Silver Brumby books of my own.
Patricia Wrightson’s books –The Ice is Coming, An Older Kind of Magic and The Nargun and the Stars- were also childhood favourites. If you’ve read Wrightson and experienced her affinity with Aboriginal culture, then I suspect you wouldn’t be surprised that such a reader of these books became an anthropologist.
As a young adult, I began to read fantasy. I read fantasy almost exclusively for 15 years. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks stands out as the book which started my love affair with the genre.

3.                  Why do you love to read?
Reading is like breathing. It fills me with life … with the creativity that is my life. Reading takes me away, relaxes me, inspires me. The day I stop reading is the day I die.

4.                  How do you choose your books?
I used to choose my books by browsing the local bookstores or going into the library and surfing the shelves. Now, I largely choose my books based on the recommendations of other bloggers. I still surf the library and browse the bookshelves, however.
I think publishers –especially Australian publishers- are still blind to the power of book bloggers on readers’ choices in book purchases. I have a number of subscribers to my RSS feed who don’t have blogs, but are keen readers. They tell me that they buy books based on the recommendations of on blogs like my own.

5.                  If you had to narrow it down  - who would be your 3 favourite authors and what would be your 3 favourite books?
That’s easy:
Kate Elliott - Jaran
Peter Mattieson - The Snow Leopard
Marcus Zusak – The Book Thief

6.                  When and why did you start your blog?
I started a book blog in January 2010, although I’ve been blogging and reviewing books on my various blogs since 2004. Desert Book Chick in its current incarnation was started in February 2010, but I didn’t settle on its theme (resources for book bloggers) until 20 April, 2010.
I was driving along in a Toyota landcruiser, on my way to Uluru, when the theme for the site hit me.

7.                  How did you choose your blog's name?
I wanted something that reflected where I lived and who I was. Also, since most book bloggers are female, I wanted a female-friendly name. Desert Book Chick was the title I selected. I think I was inspired by Book Chick City – which remains one of my favourite blogs.

8.                  What do you love about book blogging?
Three things stand out for me about book blogging:
Meeting new people all over the world. I’ve met so many wonderful people who’ve become friends. We are all linked by our love of books –even though we may not speak the same language, we have a language we can all share.
I’m going to the Book Blogger’s Convention in New York next year and I’m going to meet a few of the people I’ve become friends with when I get there.
Discovering new books. I’m constantly finding incredible new books to read. My reading horizons have expanded exponentially this year thanks to all the amazing blogs I’ve read.
Being in touch with my muse. For many years, I was unable to speak with my creative muse. For someone like me –who needs to create to feel alive- not being able to speak to my muse meant not being fully alive. Book blogging has awakened my muse and brought me back to life.

9.                  What tips do you have to offer to other book bloggers?
Shameless promotion here: visit my blog! Desert Book Chick specializes in resources for book bloggers.
Seriously, here’s my top 5 tips:
1.                  Focus on writing great content
2.                  Help other bloggers whenever you can
3.                  Don’t clog up your site with too much bling
4.                  Be yourself
5.                  Have fun

I have always thought that it sounds like you have such a unique an active lifestyle that it makes me sometimes long for something more than my sedentary city lifestyle. It was nice to see that one of your favourites is The Book Thief. I read it this year and fell in love. I hope to read more of his books as soon as I can. 

Thanks for participating Amanda, I hope that everyone heads on over to her blog now.

On hiatus due to lack of Internet :-(

Sadly, we came home today to find our Internet cable had blown up (foxtel too!). Fortunately my Thursday feature Lights, Camera, Blog Action has been pre-sceduled and I have a great blogger all lined up so make sure you check it out. Otherwise it is unlikely you'll see another post until the weekend I'm afraid because it's too difficult to do substantial posts from my phone. Sadly this means that unless I get some good luck Book Beginnings on Friday won't be up either :-( Thanks for sticking with me and I'll be back soon!

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday, what are you reading? is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. 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

I have got in heaps of reading recently being off work. As you can see I have a lot of reviews to get working on and I hope that I will have them ready as soon as I can.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton


This was a good fun read and I really enjoyed it, but it doesn't compare to the movie. It was very exciting and I hope that you have time to read my review of it. 

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

French Fried by Chris Dolley

Lovesong by Alex Miller

Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littin by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Currently Reading

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

 I am really enjoying this book, but it is rather dark in it's content and tone. 

Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (ebook)

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein (audiobook)

Up Next

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey - another new Australian novel

I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading at the moment!

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park is an exciting scientific thriller that is full of action but just isn't quite as good as the movie.

By now, I think that most of you know the story. Mr Hammond, a wealthy individual, uses his money and power to genetically re-create dinosaurs and open what he intends to be a theme park on an island off the coast of Costa Rica. He hopes that people from around the world will come to see Jurassic Park. His investors, however, are becoming nervous given the time it has taken to open the park, especially given a series of nasty deaths on the island. So Hammond, his investor's lawyer and some paleontologists travel to Jurassic Park together to witness it's splendour.

What is intended to be a fun tour of the park soon turns into a nightmare. The dinosaurs have been breeding and are loose in the park and everyone has to rely on their wits and instincts to survive.

I enjoyed the book for what it was; an exciting, action packed and suspenseful thriller. The story and the characters are solid, if a little one-dimensional and boring. It definitely isn't a literary masterpiece, the language is simple and to the point. The novel is very different to the movie. It's story is a lot more complex. There are more dinosaurs and more action.

I didn't enjoy the detailed technical explanations that Crichton provided about mathematics, biology and computer technology. The book is also littered with tables and diagrams and images of computer screens. I can't see that these would hold much meaning or interest for most readers (including myself) and only distracted from the story.

The clever thing about the book is that it uses real scientific facts and theories, business theories and human ambitions and applies them to an otherwise fanciful event (the creation of dinosaurs) in a way that lends the story authenticity.

If you were looking for some deeper meaning, you could argue that the book is an interesting discussion about the use to we put human technologies such as genetic engineering. It could be considered a warning against the irresponsible use of such technologies. At one stage one of the characters comments that the Jurassic Park scientists have been so caught up in whether or not they can create dinosaurs, they haven't stopped to ask themselves whether they should.

The fast pace of the story serves to emphasise the dangers of the misuse of these types of human knowledge. The characters are so concerned with how long long it is taking to get Jurassic Park ready for visitors, and how long it will take to breed more and how long it will take to make money. It is all about time for the business men. They think about how long it will take to achieve their dreams without thinking about the more practical consequences of what they are hoping to achieve. Then once the story gets started, it moves more and more quickly as the characters have less control over their surroundings. It all serves to show just how quickly we can lose control of our own knowledge and technologies if they are not used responsibly.

This was a thrilling read and I had dreams about dinosaurs for days after I finished it. Having said that, I am still a bigger fan of the movie than the book. The movie successfully brings the dinosaurs alive and gives the human characters and bit more depth and interest.


What kind of read is this?
A quick read of the trashy thriller variety.

Do I recommend this book?
I recommend it as something to read when you need a break from good fiction and need something non-taxing but exciting.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
I think that it could be a valuable addition to a personal library as a book that is on your shelf for when you need something to read that meets the above criteria. It is a book that will stand up well to re-reading.

Star Rating

5.5 / 8

Really enjoyable. I would recommend it.

I would love to know what you think of the book if you have read it. Do you think you can read or should a deeper meaning to a book like this or just enjoy it as an exciting thriller that inspired a great movie?