March Wrap-up

03 march

Books read this month*:

Books started but not finished:

  • Sonata for Mirium – Linda Olsson (nearly done)
  • Change of Heart – Jodi Picoult

* Before I wrote this post I thought I hadn’t read anything at all this month, turns out that I read plenty but the fact that I kept falling asleep (due to my not feeling well, not because the books were boring) means that I didn’t actually do any reviewing. I’m on a week’s break from uni this week so I’ll get caught up.

Teaser Tuesdays

  • Teaser TuesdaysGrab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given : ) !
  • Please avoid spoilers!!!


Picoult - Change of HeartIn the space between yes and no, there’s a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it’s the legroom for the lies you’ll tell yourself in the future. (p. 24)

Changing the Heart – Jodi Picoult

Huge thanks … and a new project

I am so sorry that I haven’t posted about this sooner, but between not having internet longer than five minutes and having a ton of uni work this fortnight (two months left and counting!) I haven’t been able to give the time I’d like to my blog. It’s annoying, but something I’m trying to rectify.

Anyways, what I am trying to say thanks for is an award that has been passed on to me by The Book Resort.

090324 Splash AwardThe Splash Award 

The Rules:
1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom your received your Splash award.
6) Have F~U~N


I can’t thank her enough for thinking of me in her new-blog-award – but I’m sending all my thanks anyways!

I was lucky enough to receive another award last week, but due to the problems I mentioned above, I didn’t get a chance to pass it on. I’ve learnt, however, that I have a great difficulty passing it along because, though I am a loyal reader to several book blogs, the number isn’t large. This isn’t a slight to the many wonderful bloggers our there, especially not to the wonderful blogs who I visit every Monday through MM. I just jumped right into book blogging last year and got (happily) swept away before managing to build up a nice pile of favourites.

And so this leads me to my new project. I’d really love to read far more of the blogs I always intend to get to but forget. I was thinking that I’d like to visit 1-2 new blogs every week.

So! If you’d like a nice little write up here, and wouldn’t mind me traipsing through your cyber-lounge room, leave a comment here and I’ll add you to my Virtual Walking Tour!

Musing Mondays (March 30)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about recording your reading…

Do you keep track of what and/or how many books you read? How long have you been doing this? What's your favorite tracking method, and why?If you don't keep track, why not? (question courtesy of MizB)

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

Oh no.
See, I really wanted to ask this question some time ago but was too chicken; too afraid to let you all know JUST how crazy I really am (Wendy, I can hear you snickering from you, you just shush)... but then MizB went and offered up this question and now I just have to face the music.

I think I suffer from some weird kind of latent OCD so when you factor in my obsession with lists and record keeping with the thing I love even more than that - books - you get, despite my conscious efforts to limit myself, many avenue for recording my reading.

I have several files -including graphed monthly books/pages read - that live on my hard drive but also come with my on my phone and ipod, but my number one record file is my "Book List" excel sheet (... in as much as someone who doesn't *really* know how to use excel can do).

I file by author's surname, then title, but have in recent years added page number, year written, date read and isbn (a little patchy in places where I'm going back to add in info on books I read before I got more detailed). I've been keeping this solidly for three years now, but whenever I come across a book I've read in the past that I've forgotten about, I add it to the list. I also use this file for keeping my list of books I want to read from various reviews and if/where I can find them in various libraries. (note: If anyone has any suggestions for improving/refining this system, I welcome suggestions!)

As well as this I also keep a separate excel file for books in my actual collection, with sheets for various series I'm working on. Because I take this with me on my phone, it's excellent for when I go on unplanned second hand book store exploring.

Online, this blog aside (which is very handy for tracking what/when I read), I also have accounts at Shelfari and GoodReads (user rebeccavoy at both, if you want someone to chat too). Why both? Why not?! Okay, truth is, I started at Shelfari and absolutely fell in love with it. But then I discovered GoodReads and hey! Neverending trivia! But I couldn't leave Shelfari behind and because I couldn't decide which one I preferred, I maintain both...

So basically, for every book I read I update:
  • on my 2009 monthly file
  • on my book list excel file (both under 2009 and the main sheet)
  • tick the 'read' box on My Library excel sheet
  • update here on the 2009 reads post as well as post the review when I (finally) write it
  • add it to Shelfari
  • add it to GoodReads.

Crazy, yes? Oh well, I am so excited to hear about all your tracking systems.


Dear anyone book head reading this -

I caved and downloaded the new MSN. If you live in my house (or are unfortunate enough to know me well) you know how much of a huge thing this is for me. Part of me LOVES the excitement of a new format for anything – how is it different? Is it going to be better? What cool stuff can I do with it now?

… But there’s another part of me, usually a much bigger part, who groans when you get that ‘new download’ alert. What if it’s not as good? What if it’s ugly (I like things that look pretty)? What if it doesn’t do what I want it to do.

Yep. I don’t handle change well. It’s usually a good few weeks – long after everyone has already changed over to the new system – that I finally give in and download it. Then I whinge for a few weeks about the changes before I finally get over it, get attached, and freak out all over again when the new one comes out.

So why am I rambling on about this when I have a pile of books that I really should have reviewed already? Well, two reasons, one I’m still feeling too icky (did I mention I was under the weather? – no matter) to put any real thought into anything, and two, the new MSN comes with a blog writer-thingy (yes, that’s the technical term), and I wanted to see how it works.

So what do you think? Can you tell the difference if I post outside of Blogger?

Teaser Tuesday (March 24)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

I realise that lust stands high in the list of deadly sins. And yet lust - the tightening throat, the flushed cheecks, the raging appetite - is the only word accurate to describe the sensation I felt that morning, as the painted door closed and I was left with the liberty of all those books. (22)

March - Geraldine Brooks

Musing Mondays (March 23)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about bookstores…

How many bookstores do you frequent? Do you have a favourite? If so, which one and what makes it so?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

I have a couple bookstores that I go to in our local shopping complex - an Angus and Robertson and a Dymocks. I'll usually pop into whichever one I'm closest to while I'm out shopping (and sometimes I'll go to both) but I would have to say that I have a preference for Dymocks.
Dymocks has, in my opinion, a slightly bigger collection - owing, no doubt to the larger store. They also have a VIP member point system as well as layby options ... all of which are equally dangerous and exciting to an obsessive reader.
While Dymock is my favourite RL store, would have to be my number one stop when I'm looking for something. I'm a self-confessed internet junkie and the homebody in me loves internet shopping. When you combine that with books... well, as I mentioned, things like this can be dangerous.

I want to live before I die...

Before I DieJenny Downham
326 pages; published 2007

A thought stabs up, growing from my toes and ripping through me, until it stifles everything else and becomes the only thing I’m thinking. It fills me up, like a silent scream, I’ve been ill for so long, puffed up and sick, with patchy skin, flaky fingernails, disappearing hair and a feeling of nausea that permeates to my bones. It’s not fair. I don’t want to die like this, not before I’ve been lived properly. It seems so clear to me. I feel almost hopeful, which is mad. I want to live before I die. It’s the only thing that makes sense. (54)

Tessa has cancer. That scary c-word that equals hospitals, unwanted sympathy and the fear of death. And that’s exactly what’s in store for Tessa.

But Tess is only sixteen, and there are certain things she wants to experience before she dies. A list of the top ten is formed: Sex. Drugs. Driving a Car. Fame… Love. With her father so determined to find a cure for his undeniably terminally ill daughter, he is not prepared to help her meet her dying list. Best friend and wild child Zoey stands up, however, perfectly suited to the task ahead.

Tessa has comes to terms with her fate, as much as possible, but what she doesn’t expect is that the things one wants most in the world can shift right before your eyes, and that even if you get them, it may not be what you thought.

I’ll admit that the first few chapters of this book made me cringe. A young girl is dying and the first two things she wants are sex and drugs. And then her best friend arranges one night stands with perfect strangers, one of which spends a fair amount of time being referred to as “The Stoner Boy”. I almost closed the book and picked out a new one.

However I’m very glad that I didn’t. What I originally thought of as shallow, somewhat clichéd writing morphed, chapter by chapter, into a cleverly shaped maturation of the main character.

There were many things about this book that I simply loved: the utterly real portrayal of a father desperate to save his daughter, and struggling to do it all alone; the honest fear and curiosity of Cal, her younger brother…

Downham’s writing just got more and more touching as the book progressed, to the point where I was literally in tears. A surprisingly beautiful book. 4/5

Other Reviews

Teaser Tuesday (March 17)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

"You see, I have never had any connection with my past. Twice my life has started anew, irrevocably leaving the past behind..." (p. 36)

Sonata for Miriam - Linda Olsson

Musing Mondays (March 16)

EDIT: So apparently you can schedule posts all you want but if you don't put in the right time it's doesn't actually turn up. Sorry about the mess this week, guys, I think I'm going crazy. Happy Monday!

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about talking to strangers…

We were all warned as children to 'never talk to strangers', but how do you feel about book-talk with random people? When you see people reading, do you ask what it is? Do you talk to people in the book store or the library? Why or why not? What do you do if people talk to you? (question courtesy of Dena)

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

As someone who has never had very many book-y friends, I was always worried that I would ramble on too much about what I was reading. This never bothered me too much, but sooner or later my friends would get that glazed look in their eyes that indicated that they had stopped listening some time ago. Because of this, I find that I'm very cautious about talking to strangers about books, even if I see them reading.

If it's in a place where I truly don't know the person - the bus, the doctor's office, in shopping centre - I rarely just start talking to them. I do, however (and my sister will attest to this), try to crane my neck sneakily to figure out what the book is. If I get caught and the person smiles, realising what I'm doing, I figure I'm safe and sometimes talk to them then.

At uni I'll usually ask, but more often than not what someone's reading is for class and they've got all off ten minutes to try to finish the book and they're not really in the right frame of mind to chat.

The bookstore, however, is an entirely different story. I LOVE it when people talk to me in the bookstore and I have no qualms whatsoever about talking to them. I get so many book recommendations this way! And I love being able to answer questions about books or authors - I think I'm spending too much time hovering in the book shop.

So if you're out-and-about with a book and you see some strange person who looks like they have severe neck condition, it's probably just me trying to book-spy. Come on over and say hi, I promise I'm not as freaky as I look.

An Award!

I would like to thank Bookfan-Mary for giving me this award, while I would truly appreciate any award, to receive this was particularly exciting as it's premise - promoting general friendliness - is something I feel very strongly about:

"This blog invests and believes in the Proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award."

If it's okay with the rules of blogging-awards, I'm going to hold off until my net's working properly to pass it on.

Thanks again, Mary!

Just a quick note...

... to anyone who follows this blog regularly.

My posts may be few over the next fortnight or so, but I haven't disappeared. My internet has been spotty at best so I'm off to schedule a few posts while it's working. I'll be back when the net's fixed - which I really hope is soon.

Teaser Tuesday (March 10)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

"Hold on." He grabbed a pencil and scrawled excitedly at the paper as if he'd just made a mathematical breakthrough, and then looked back up at me. "I just did some calculations and I've been able to determine that you're full of shit."

Looking for Alaska - John Green

K1, p2 ... oops I dropped a stitch

The Friday Night Knitting Club
Kate Jacobs
424 pages; published 2007

Knit and Purl: These stitches are the fundamentals of knitting and are the basics of every garment. The knit stitch is a series of flat, vertical loops that produces a knitted fabric face and the purl stitch is its reverse. One side is smooth, the other bumpy. Knit is what you show the world; purl is the soft, nubbly underside you keep close to the skin. (177)

Walker and Daughter is a small knitting store in the heart of New York City; it stocks yarn, needles and friends.

When Georgia Walter found herself pregnant and alone, she (with the help of business-woman-come-fairy godmother Anita) turns her knitting hobby into a business, and then a way of life to support herself and her daughter Dakota.

A decade later, Georgia’s sense of control over her life starts to crumble as her daughter reaches her frustrated teens; a friend whose betrayal still sings lands back in her life; and James, her former lover suddenly reappears. None of this is what Georgia expected and she’s not quite sure how to handle it all.

But Georgia finds support and salvation in the most unexpected of places: a group of regulars who take it upon themselves to turn up in her store every week – the Friday Night Knitting Club.

Friday Night Knitting Club was our book club read for last month and it was met with mixed responses. For the most part, I enjoyed it. It was a light, quick novel and fairly predictable in places but I had anticipated that going in. Some of the characters I thought interesting – I liked Georgia, control-freak though she was – but others were underdeveloped, even superfluous to the story.

Basically, it’s not a book out to win any literary awards but if the plot interests you or you have a secret passion for knitting or cupcakes then I’d give it a go. Did I love it enough to want to own my own copy? Not really. Did I enjoy it enough to want to read the sequel? Sure did. 3.5/5

Other Reviews

Musing Monday (March 9)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about new authors…

What is your policy when it comes to new authors? Do you feel comfortable purchasing a book or do you prefer to borrow new authors from the library? How often do you 'try out' a new author?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

This question came out of my book shopping (okay, browsing, I didn't actually buy anything) with Wendy last week - so I suppose I should probably give her partial credit this week too. She was choosing over some books and ultimately went for the author she knew over the unknown one and it got me thinking about my own author reading.

Most of my books come in through the library anyway, so there's not that pressure to like a book I've paid good money for. When it comes to my book borrowing I'll pick out anything that sounds interesting, whether I know the author or not. So, while I do pick up a book if I recognise the name, I usually have two or three new authors each visit.

In the six months or so I've started to be careful in buying books as I simply don't have the space - I've yet to overcome my weakness for sales spindles and ops shops though! I'm far more inclined to buy books of authors that I am familiar with and already know I love, but if there's someone new that I've heard a good things of or a book that really catches my eye then I don't have a problem with the 'new author' status. I do like to buy someone new if I'm lucky enough to have a book voucher, because I figure it's book money I wouldn't usually have and so I have a little free range to experiment or buy something I wouldn't normally choose.

I want a fairy!

How to Ditch Your Fairy
Justine Larbelestier
298 pages; published 2008

Rochelle gets a clothes-shopping fairy and is always well attired; I get a parking fairy and always smell faintly of petrol. How fair is that? […] why couldn’t I have, I don’t know, a good-hair fairy? Or, not even that doos, a loose-change-finding fairy. Lots of people have that fairy. Rochelle’s dad, Sandra’s cousin, Mum’s best friend’s sister. I’ll wholly settle for a loose-change fairy. (14)

Okay, I’ll fess up, I’m not so much a sucker for book covers but for quirky titles. So when I saw this one reviewed on a blog a while ago it immediately caught my attention. And when it was offered up for review, I quickly put my name down.

Fourteen year old Charlie lives in New Avalon, the best place in the entire world (at least according to its inhabitants). New Avaloners are just more interesting that everyone else… mostly due to their possession of fairies.

There are fairies for every one and every thing. Charlie’s friend Rochelle has a ‘clothes-finding fairy’, star of the water-polo team Danders Anders has a ‘grip fairy’, and Fiorenze, the most hated girl in school (at least by the other girls) has a fairy which makes every boy her age fall in love with her.

And what kind of fairy does Charlie have? A parking fairy. How ‘undoos’ (uncool) is that? For Charlie, it’s the worst thing imaginable. She’s constantly being begged, borrowed, or outright kidnapped by so-called friends and family to find good parking spots. So Charlie decides to save her sanity, and in the process gain a better fairy, by boycotting all transport. Surely lack of use will bore her fairy into leaving. She soon starts to learn, however, that it isn’t quite as easy as all that.

I really liked the idea behind this book, with people’s inherent talents and fortunes – both good and bad – translated into fairies. However, I’ve got to say that I had some issues with the book. I feel it had the potential to go a lot further than it did. Author Justine Larbelestier started to touch on several themes only to leave them hanging or gloss them over.

What was written was reasonably well done – with one exception. Larbelestier seems to have gone to great lengths to incorporate the slang and phrases of her teenage characters but, rather than using current vernacular, has made up a language unique to New Avalon. While I can appreciate the attempt, I found it very jarring, and having to refer to the glossary simply to translate words for ‘cool’, ‘hideous’, and ‘beautiful’ was intrusive to the novel.

Overall, it was a nice light read, but not necessarily one I’d go out of my way to recommend. 3/5

Other Reviews
Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Angels and Visitations

Angels and Visitations: A Miscellany
Neil Gaiman
166 pages; published 1993

Memory is the great deceiver. Perhaps there are individuals whose memories act like tape recordings, daily records of their lives complete in every detail, but I am not one of them. My memory is a patchwork of occurrences, of discontinuous events roughly sewn together: the parts I remember, I remember precisely, whilst other sections seem to have vanished completely. (141)

I always enjoy Neil Gaiman’s writing, so I pretty much knew I would love this one too. His writing is just so clever, so rich, that you can’t help but want to read more.

Angels and Visitations, however, was a little different from the other novels and short stories of his that I’ve read. It is, as the title says, ‘a miscellany’, a collection of literary bits and pieces he has accumulated over the years: poetry, book reviews, stories written for this and that. As such, it was a bit of an odd collection, but still full of wonderful pieces that I’d recommend to any Neil Gaiman fan. 4.5

Other Reviews
Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Counting Pages

When he was answering his Musing Monday's question this week, D Dubs Reads asked a follow up question about page numbers:

For bloggers who place the page count within their review, have you given thought to what pages you are counting? How do you decide where the book starts or stops?

While I never have a set page number to read (ie. 'I have to read twenty pages today...' or 'if I read a chapter a day for a month...' etc) but I do always like to know how many pages a book has so I can guage where abouts I am. I think this grew out of my never having had a bookmark on hand (no longer a problem) and having to remember where I was up to.

When I include a page number on a book review I generally stop on the last page of the actual narrative, unless there is some critical appendices crucial to the story.

However, when I'm counting for my own 'how many pages read' count I count what I read. If the book has appendices etc and I actually read them then I count them, if I don't read them they don't get included. I usually don't add in acknowledgements or author's notes unless they're extraordarily extended ones (Piers Anthony's Incarnations series is the one coming to mind at present).

What about you? What do you count? Head over to D Dubs Reads and answer.

Sorry about the confusion

For those of you who didn't catch the edit to this week's Musing Mondays, the question was NOT supposed to be about boys and reading.

Let this be a lesson to you about copy/paste-ing. Don't do it unless you're smart enough to remember to change it. Apparently I'm not.

Musing Monday (March 1)

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about boys and reading…

When reading do you read every word? Do you ever skip chapters or skim over parts? (question curtesy of Wendy)

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

EDITED TO ADD: This question is clearly NOT about boys and reading... I'm copy/pasted and forgot to change it. Sorry about the confusion.

Interesting though this question is, I find it really hard to answer (thanks a lot, Wendy!). I guess I'd have to say that I don't consciously skim when I'm reading, but I suppose I would have to do my fair share of skimming here and there.

I have more of a tendency to get fixated on each word at times, reading and rereading sentences or passages over and over.

February Wrap-Up

As you may have noticed from my almost complete lack of reviews recently, February is not a good reading month for me. Between going back to uni and family birthdays (whom I make gifts for) I don't get the chance to read a whole lot, let alone review.
Oh well, here's to a better March.

Books Read

Books Started, Not Finished
  • The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers