Saturday, 31 May 2014

Moby Dick and Other Bits

I noticed in a couple of blog posts that a Moby Dick read along has been set up for 1 June to mid July. Somebody worked out that if you read 15 pages a day you'll get through it.  Having had the book setting on a shelf for number of years and having tried to read it without success I had another look at it.

The book itself is a beautiful book.  I bought an iPod the other week and I have been downloading music onto it and decided why not download a book.  Well there was Moby Dick and it didn't cost much so I decided to give it a try. Then I decided to listen to it while holding the book and following along. I wasn't sure I'd like that but I am really enjoying it. The thing I like most about it is the narrator reads faster than I do and I had to get used to following along at a bit faster rate but I have now settled quite nicely into it.  The chapters, of which there are 150+ are very short and I am enjoying doing a few chapters at a time.

Better than that though is I am really enjoying the story so far.  The characters of Ishmael and Queequeg  are the important characters at the moment. We are only up to Chapter 11 and so far they are on the northeast coast of America and whalers and fishermen are everywhere. He has entered into a pub and found there is no place to sleep so he had to share a bed with Queequeg, a large, cannibalistic whaler from the other side of the world.  However the friendship they establish is touching and the scenes are very funny.   I read that Herman Melville never found fame in his own lifetime and I always think that is such a shame. Imagine writing the books that he did never to get recognition and then dying only to become well known afterwards and never knowing it.

I'm still working on The Penguin History of the World and will continue to do so but at a slower pace during the next month.  As the books aren't anything alike they won't interfere with each other.

Come next week though our book group meets to discuss the Tales of AJ Fikry then we have to get stuck into Wilkie Collins Moonstone which will be another kettle of fish.  Don't know how I'll go in June because I keep looking at the Kindle Deal of the Day and see these pretty interesting looking books for .99 cents. I need to stop thinking I'll read these books in between the bigger ones. It's a lot of fun though and as we're well and truly into the shortest days of the  year with winter fast approaching, I find the evenings long and need to filling.

On the other hand I have signed up to go to the gym with my husband during the week.  I have been putting it off for a long time but with my health being what it is I had a cardiologist tell me to get on with it in so many words and start becoming aerobic.  I only use the treadmill and some of the arm machines but with 30 to 40 minutes on a treadmill I might try some audio books at the same time.  I wonder if Moby Dick with go along with a track program on a treadmill.  I'll give it a try and let you know if it works.  Maybe I can get so caught up in the story I'll forget where I am.  I'm also rather worried about the whaling aspect of this book but need to keep it separate from my political beliefs of whaling. I'll try to think of it as the great literature it is.

Well that's me for the moment.  Today is a shopping and afternoon tea day with a dear friend and her wonderful 15 year old daughter so the whaling will be put aside until this evening.  I hope everyone has a good weekend and be sure to tell me what you're up to this weekend.

Monday, 26 May 2014

A.J. Fikry and Other Things

Well, once again it is Monday. Where does the time go?  A few things book wise going on.  I finished the book Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Levin over the weekend.  I got to meet A.J. Fikry himself who owns a small bookshop off the coast of Maine on a little island.  He is quite grumpy at the beginning but that is because his beloved wife died in an accident earlier and he misses her. He has a bit of a problem with alcohol and one night in a stupor his valuable book, Tammerlane by Edgar Allan Poe is stolen. This was to have been his retirement fund.

But suddenly everything changes when Maya, a two year old girl is left behind on the book shop floor by her mother before she commits suicide. She wants the girl raised with books and to have a good life and she seems to think A.J. will do this.

I don't want to say too much about the story as I don't want to ruin it. However the characters are pretty quirky and good hearted. Amelia is the publication rep that comes around trying to sell books to A.J.  He also has to deal with his sister-in-law Ismay and brother-in-law Daniel.  They throw up a few twists in the book.  I especially liked the policeman that hangs around named Lambiase. He is a charming character.

Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. There were some uneven parts and I thought it went through the years a bit quickly. Maya is a teenager before we can blink and I think a bit of the story is lost by this but overall it is a most enjoyable read.   Our book club is going to discuss it in June and I'm looking forward to that.  One of the fun bits is at the beginning of each chapter where A.J. writes something related to an author or well known book on a single page.  It was fun looking forward to new chapters in order to read them. He compares much of his life to various characters within the book world.  If a person reads a lot they will get a lot of it for fun.  It was certainly a speedy read and light hearted enough to really enjoy with a few twists and turns that I didn't figure out until later.

I particularly enjoyed this passage from the policeman who has discovered reading.

Turns out I really like bookstores. You know, I meet a lot of people in my line of work. A lot of folks pass through Alice Island, especially in the summer. I've seen movie people on vacation and I've seen music people and news people, too. There ain't nobody in the world like book people. It's a business of gentlemen and gentlewomen.
'I would't go that far,' Ismay says.
'I don't know, Izzie. I'm telling you. Bookstores attract the right kind of folk. Good people like A.J. and Amelia. And I like talking about books with people who like talking about books. I like paper. I like how it feels, and I like the feel of a book in my back pocket. I like how a new book smells, too.'
Ismay kisses him. "You're the funniest sort of cop I ever met.' 

On to other things now. My Penguin History of the World is progressing pretty normally.  I am still reading a chapter or half a chapter (if it is long) each day when I don't get distracted by a new magazine or newspaper.  I have gone through ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and am now into the history of India which I knew nothing about.  I am finding the chapter on the beginnings of India quite interesting and I always enjoy anything about the Buddhist faith which got it's start in northern India before Christ was born.

I have also quickly read through another book I got on sale at Daily Deal of the Day with the Amazon Kindle.  It is called Dying to Know, Is There Life after Death by Josh Logan.  I stopped reading it about 2/3 of the way through. The story is non fiction of a young Australian man who spends three years going to funeral homes, crematoriums, seances, card readers, workshops to see if he can contact his dead aunt Clare.  It starts out as quite reasonable and the fact the man just wants a definitive answer is all right.  All of us would like verification of that knowledge.

But the more he experiments with out of body experiences, channeling the dead all becomes a bit of a mind game through his brain.  I am convinced what he thinks could be spirit contact is merely his brain and his unstable nature trying to put something where it isn't.  But that's just me. Other people may be convinced. I am too much of a skeptic to believe there are other lives after this one.   I don't know why it caught my attention. I think I was tired the other night and gave in to Amazon's advertising.  I thought it seemed like a good question at the time but grew bored with this book in no time although there are some very funny parts when he encounters what he believes are ghosts.   I'll stick to A.J. Fikry.    You never knew what he was going to do.

I have had no replies yet to my distribution by the book phantom of the 20 or so books I have distributed. I had hoped someone would write and say they found a book, were reading it and loved it.  Nothing yet but I'm still going to keep giving books away because I think it will be interesting when someone does finally reply.

This is Monday, as I've said before and the beginnings of a new week.  My book club read is done. My new agey life after death book has come to a halt and I'll probably start my Classics club spin book, The Letters of Rachel Henning this week.  I am feeling like something classic with a bit of substance.  It does not need to be posted until 7th July.

I'm doing a large book cull in my front room. I have decided to get all my duplicates, unreads, and books I know I won't read off to the auction once I finish the cull. I would like to get some order in that front room of a library.  Of course I'm keeping all of my vintage Penguins.  Hope everyone has a good week and there is a beautiful pot of tea or some good strong coffee in the future that is to become this week. What are you reading this week?

This book counts towards the Monopoly Challenge as the initials of the author at in the word St James for St James Place.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Suspect by Robert Crais

I have been reading Robert Crais's books since the first one came out. He writes a series about a Los Angeles detective called Elvis Cole and his sidekick Joe Pike.  Then he wrote a few books where Joe Pike was the featured protaganist.  They work as a team and Joe Pike is particularly fun to read. Joe is the kind of guy, big, brawny, doesn't say  much, keeps his sunglasses on and kicks butt so to speak.  If we all had Joe Pike in our life things would be rosy.

The things I like about the series of books is you get a real feel for Los Angeles area and the outer suburbs. Someone wrote once (I don't remember where I read it) that if you read crime books you get a great feel for the geography of the area.  This is certainly true with these books.

So when I picked up this book as a recently released Kindle and not badly priced I was disappointed to find out it wasn't a Joe Pike or Elvis Cole book.

This book is okay. Just okay, not good, not bad.  The story was so predictable I knew the whole thing and the end pretty soon. See if you can figure out the end without reading the book. Here goes:

American K-9 soldier in Afghanistan with his dog. Bomb blows up and snipers start to follow when they are ambushed. Soldier dies, dog wounded.

Flash forward to police detectives sitting in their parked cruiser. Policeman, police woman. Bad guys come careening around the corner to make a hit on another car near them. They fly into action, gunfire ensues and police woman is shot. As she is yelling at policeman to not leave her he goes for help and he gets shot too. She dies with the words, "Don't leave me."  in his ears.

Now flash forward and policeman is moved forward to the K-9 unit. Guess who the new dog is. Yup, the Afghanistan dog and now named Maggie.   She has PTSD and so does he.  They go forward working together and the case is about the men who shot and killed the policewoman.

They have a lot of problems related to the PTSD and they both have a few health problems after being shot.   I don't know why I didn't put this book down except I was very tired and felt like reading and it was the only thing I knew I could absorb. I kept on reading it thinking my predictions would fail.   More gunfights, more sneaking around the Los Angeles area, more beating up witnesses and a happy ending for both policeman and Maggie, as the dog is now called.  I did need to check that Maggie would be okay. I didn't care so much about the policeman.  The character of the dog was wonderful. She was everything you'd want a dog hero to be,  of course. Could read minds, be protective, gentle, funny. I did like the dog. Of course, I would.

This book is written quite well but it is the story that lets it down. The characters are well written too. It is the silly story of which I have not given away.  It is a book to read only on a plane trip or at the beach. Because you never really lose your place when you look at the sailboats out  on the water or stop to eat your meal on the plane.

It was good for an afternoon of lying in bed feeling worn out and not wanting to read any of the pile of books beside the bed that would require more thought. The happy ending was feel good. But you knew from the start it would have a happy ending and all the problems would be solved. Sometimes we just need a book with an ending like that. Time to move on now.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sweet Things for a Sunday

This past week had a few things happen that made me smile. 

 A couple of my good friends and I had our three monthly girl's night out. After a beautiful garlic pizza and chicken toscano we had this beautiful creme brulee' with pistachio ice cream.  It was by far the high moment of my week.

My beautiful cats Uncle Buck and Cousin Eddie  are starting to bond with each other and become good friends.  Uncle Buck has been with us 8 years and Eddie is only 6  months and just got his big kitty teeth.

Sure enough, there were baby ducks to watch out for in this area. I love this sign and am happy the community I was riding through takes care of its water fowl.

That's it. What nice things happened to you this week??

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Time Out From Books- Joined the Hobart Walking Club

The view across one of the several marinas in the area.

I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth and I would never leave it. I am a big follower of Miladysboudoir's blog (here) and I love the pictures she has posted up of walking in England where she lives and now Italy where she just visited.

She walks a lot. I have been loving the photos she puts up whether they are in sun or rain and she has really inspired me to get out and get to know the local area. I also dearly need the exercise.

There are still a lot of autumn colours on the trees. This old willow had beautiful little play areas under it to have tea parties and a hide out to read.

After hemming and hawing about it for ages I finally dove in and signed up as a provisional member of the Hobart Walking Club.  Today I did my first qualifying walk along the river Derwent foreshore. It was an easy, flat terrain walk and we got to look in people's back yards as we walked along the river.

I always love looking in people's back yards when on trains leaving cities and going through suburbs. You learn so much about a place by looking in back yards.   It was predicted to be 16 degrees C (52 F) and rain was 50%.  I woke up at 6 am and it was blowing a gale and raining. I thought, "Bugger- why did I have to commit to a walk today."   After letting my dogs out (the only reason I get up that early every day) they came in and we all went back to bed and set the alarm for 8:30.  I woke up and the sun was out and wind had died down.  It was a beautiful autumn day.

There seemed to be flowers everywhere.
So I'd like to share the photos of what is in the backyards of people living on the eastern shore of Hobart, Tasmania.  I live below the mountain on the western shore and I really enjoyed seeing my area of life from another perspective. This is a track I have never been on, didn't know it was there so it was exploring from a new level.  It was only a 3 km walk.

These birds are oyster catchers. I love their orange eyes and bills.  They accessorize so well when they go out.

The oystercatchers had cousins down the rocks a bit and they were a different variety.  Same orange eyes and beaks though.
More pretty flowers.
 We stopped at a person's residence along the way, had lunch and talked and I felt great because I was the youngest on the walk. Everyone was in their 70's, 80's & 90's.
Another back yard had a bit of kitsch around the bird bath.

The end of the trail looking towards the Tasman Bridge
They didn't think I would enjoy being with the slow turtles but I enjoyed them immensely and they had wonderful stories and adventures.  Great role models I think. I'll build up to the harder walks but I wanted to get a feel for it on this first day of something new.  Good fun.

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Book Phantom Strikes

Today was a beautiful autumm day (24 degrees C- 78 F).  I decided to load up 19 books and let the Book Phantom distribute them. As previous posts have indicated the Book Phantom rides around on Penguin Hunter II (my 350 cc Italian scooter) and delivers second hand books in various places.  I attach a note to the front cover saying finders of the books may contact me at BookPhantom (at)    I have only released 4 books previously but today I released 17 in quite a large area south of here.

I took pictures of the places where I left them and I'll be sure to post any responses I get to the email address. Someone is bound to write to me sooner or later.  Here are the release spots. Fingers crossed !
This is a spot that sells fresh grown tomatoes on the honour system for $2.00 a bag. I hope they don't think I left a book instead of payment as I did pay for the tomatoes.

 I left two books in a phone booth down the road from where I live.
 This bus station sits out in the bush up the road a bit.
 I left these books at Fern Tree at a bus stop near the start of the pinnacle road going up Mt. Wellington.  That's Penguin Hunter II in the foreground. Isn't he pretty?
There is a park about 10 km up the road and this little stone hut is there. Inside is a table next to a reading chair (no kidding) and there are two benches with foam covers on it. You could almost live here. I left a couple of books here.

This is a park in the little town of Margate, south of Hobart. There is a people park, children's play area and dog area that is fenced. There is also a kiosk.  These BBQ's were at the outer edge of the people area.
There were some other bus stops I stopped at but they're all green and looked like the ones above so I thought two were enough. You get the idea.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Classic Club Spin Results

Monday was the day the Classic Club spin spun out.  It is an exercise of picking a book from a list of 20 you want to read and matching the random number to one in the list.  The number randomly chosen was Number One and on my TBR list of 20 books randomly selected for the list that book turned out to be the Letters of Rachel Henning.  This is an old Australian classic and I come across it quite often in Op shops when I am looking for vintage Penguin books. 

The Penguin version
It is one of the Australian Penguin classics and I think it might turn out to be an interesting read.  The Spin books are to have their review posted up on 7 July so I do have time to get into it. Hopefully I will enjoy it.

Are you participating in the Spin?   If so what book was your Number One on the list.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Bit of a Catch Up

I thought I would catch people up and tie up some loose ends.  I haven't featured sweet things the past two weeks because it's been a bit crazy around here and quite frankly I haven't done anything that's sweet.  I'll have to remedy that the next week.

I have a stack of books I want to release into the wild with the Book Phantom.  I have released 5 books to date but no reply from the note tucked inside with the Book Phantom's email address. So I don't know what happened to them.  I'm hoping when I release the next batch (when the wind dies down a bit and I can get the scooter out again) I'll hear from someone. I'll let you know.

I hope you get coffee/tea in bed for Mother's Day
The Monopoly challenge is waiting in a queue.  I must read a book with an orange cover which is not a problem with so many Penguin books in the house. But I've been working on my Penguin History of the World and finished Lois on the Loose and the Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Need to finish up the book for June book club.  I also have a Spin book coming up on Monday so waiting to see what that choice is. It's all go with books right now.  Did I also say I am looking at a 1927 travel book too? It is a lovely book. It is on my spin list and it would be grey if that number came up. Fortunately I've got my reading streak back. Probably because the weather has been quite wintry though the sun shines.

Starting to act like winter around here.
All the animals are doing well. They are so cute. I took them (dogs) to the beach yesterday and it truly was a dog's day out. Mother's Day weekend had the shops full and the dog beach busy. They got to socialize with lots of different dogs and I think 5 years dropped off from my old dog Wally.  He was Mr. Social Butterfly.

The beach just wore me out. All those cute little dogs.

That is about all that is new around here today. Worked in the garden and did lots of pruning on Friday so now it's all about getting all that mess up off the ground and into the trash pak for the guy to pick up.

Last but not least, thank you Simon, of Savidge Reads (here) for featuring my bookshelves.  I have enjoyed it and hopefully more people will visit the Penguin here. 

Hope all of you have a happy Mother's day whether you're a mother or not.  A good day for family and to relax and enjoy all that is life.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Lois on the Loose -Thoughts on a Travel Book

I have really enjoyed this book. I read another of her books a couple of years back when she motorbikes through Africa on her own. Lois is a very brave young English woman with a travel itch that can't be stopped.

Even if you don't like motorbike travel books which I love because I am so jealous of them, a person can enjoy these books for the geographic location alone.  Lois is a lovely writer, funny and interesting.  In this book she begins her journey in Anchorage, Alaska and rides south on the Pacific American highway all the way to the tip of Chile in South America.

The amazing part of this particular story is she rides on a 250 Yamaha trail bike that doesn't go over 55 miles an hour. Her bike is constantly losing bits off from it, breaking down and just making her wonder if it will last.  She meets up with a couple of travelling companions along the way. One of her travelling companions is very compatible with her on the road and they have a great time. The other woman she travels with is a spoiled brat and only wants to really portray the image of sultry, sexy biker and has no patience. I don't know how she put up with her as long as she did.

As to the 'on the road' information her adventure in Alaska and Canada is quite funny wondering if a bear will eat her during the night. She doesn't mention too much about California but then it picks up again in Mexico and Central America where she struggles with border crossings.  Some of these are quite hairy.  Once she reaches Peru and Chili we breath a sigh of relief.

A couple of years ago I did a long ride on my 250 cc Scooter going onto the Australian mainland and riding from Hobart to Longreach in Qld and over to the east coast at Rockhampton and then south along the coast back to Hobart. It was a charity ride to raise money for prostate cancer research and we had a myriad of experiences. Ever since I did that ride (7300 km in 3 1/2 weeks) I have wanted to get back on the road again with my newer scooter, a 350 Italian touring bike. Maybe next year.

Motorbike travel books are a genre of their own. Everyone remembers Ewan and Charlie on their Long Ride around the world but they had an entire support crew that did a lot of things for them. They only had to ride and smile for the camera.  These other stories are individuals, that generally travel along and as a result they meet all manner of interesting people and have really amazing things happen to them.  You never know what will happen next when you are on the road on a motorbike. It is certainly an adventurous way to travel.  I have read quite a few motorbike travel stories and this is one of the better ones.  I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Classic Club Spin is Coming Up

I really enjoy the classic club spin that is online now.  The rules are simple. Pick and list 20 books from your classics list or whatever list you want to choose. The Classic Club will randomly pick a number 1-20 and post it up on Monday.  Then you match that number to your list and read and review that book by July.

As I am not reading assigned classic texts I am still focusing on my TBR pile which is absolutely enormous.  So I went into my front library, closed my eyes and picked 20 books at random from my TBR shelves.  What a fun way to create a stack of 20 TBR books. So this is my list.

1. Vintage Penguin The Letters of Rachel Henning.  These letters were written between 1853 and 1882.  They give a vivid and fascinating account of life in colonial Australia as seen through the eyes of a previously sheltered young Englishwoman.

2.  Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason. A man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat. There are no obvious clues apart from a cryptic note left on the body and a photograph of a young girl's grave. An Icelandic thriller/mystery.

3.  The World's Back Doors by Max Murray. This is the story of a trip round the world. It is not so much of places as of people. The trip was begun with about enough money to buy one meal and continued for 66,000 miles. This was first published in 1927 and looks fascinating.

4. ahahaha- I picked the Tao of Pooh. How much fun (and easy) would this one be?  I love Winnie the Pooh and have not visited this book in years. Can't believe I picked it at random off the shelf.

5.  Another Penguin book. A Zoo in my Luggage by Gerald Durrell. This was written in 1960. It is about the birth of a private zoo. Journeying to the Cameroons he and his wife, helped by the renowned Fon of Bafut, managed to collect "plenty beef". Their difficulties began when they found themselves back at home, with Cholmondeley the chimpanzee, Bug-eye the bush baby, and other founder members... and nowhere to put them.

6.  Blueback by Australian author Tim Winton. A fable for all ages. Abel Jackson was 10 years old and could never remember a time when he could not dive. His mother said he was a diver before he was born; he floated and swam in the warm ocean inside her for nine months so maybe it came naturally. He had lived by the sea at Longboat Bay his whole life.

7.  An Australian classic.  Storm Boy by Colin Thiele.  This will be a reread from ages ago. The illustrations are beautiful. Storm Boy and his father, Hide-away Tom, live alone. Their home is a humpy on the long finger of sandhills between the Southern Ocean and the Coorong- the lonely, narrow stretch of the South Australian coast. The story tells of the relationship between Mr. Percival the pelican and the boy.

8.  Leo Tolstoy: A Signature on a Portrait. Highlights of Tolstoy's Thoughts. (I found some pictures I had tucked into this book of my animals. How nice.)

9.  On The Road with Charles Kuralt.  Charles Kuralt hosted the morning show on Sunday Morning American tv for years. He always featured a different spot in America and gave information about it. He had a soothing voice and I used to love watching him.  This is his biography and some tales of being on the road. How interesting.  I hope I read this soon.

10.  No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I have been wanting to read something by this great author for years but am so intimidated by him.  I have the Cholera ?  book and his 100 Days of Solitude but know they can be tricky.  This is a great way to venture into the water so to speak.

11. Nevil Shute's Requiem for a Wren.  Despite hearing about Nevil Shute my whole life as an Aussie author that wrote the well known On the Beach I have never read anything by him. This was published in 1955.

12.  As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. No idea about this book, its author or where on earth I got it. It states on the back:  It was 1934. The young man walked to London from the security of the Cotswolds to make his fortune. He was to live by playing the violin and by a year's labouring on a London building site. Then knowing one Spanish phrase he decided to see Spain.  Sounds like fun. It was published in 1971.

13. Journeying East by variety of  authors. Conversations on Aging and Dying.  Spiritual teachers share their thoughts on ageing and the end of life process. Hmmm , heavy.

14. Lewis Percy by Anita Brookner. I have ever only read one of her books and that was Hotel duLac which I enjoyed. I know many people enjoy her books so this might be a good spin.

15. Oh my gosh, Another Anita Brookner book. A Private View. It says it is "beautiful book that one in impelled to read at one sitting".  We might have to see about that.

16.  The Beautiful Years by Henry Williamson. I am not familiar with this book but it has a beautiful cover. A tender evocation of West Country childhood in the golden years before the first World War.  An English read.

17.  Birds in Art compiled by Ferdie MacDonald.  This is a little hardcover, beautiful book with many illustrations and information about birds in art. There are also some poem written throughout. A happy little book.

18.  This next one is a real classic. Germinal by Emile Zola.  I know this is a heavy going classic about mining. I have read several reviews on it and it looks really good but it might be a bit hard going. Hope I can get it read in time if it is picked.

19.  The Greek Philosophers. This is written by Rex Warner and gives examples of their work. Philosophers include Plato, Lucretius, Epicurus, Plotinus, Marcus Aurelius, Aristotle and Epictetus.

20.  Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser. My friend loaned me this book so I will need to have a read of it soon. It looks like a bit of a chunkster but should be interesting. However she said she couldn't get into it and has passed it on to me. I haven't seen any other reviews of this book.

Well, that is my list of 20.  What a variety and all of them from my own shelves. So many people give me books and I pick them up from op shops then toss them onto the shelf.  I really should read all of them and then pass them on through the Book Phantom.  Maybe I'll have a giveaway or something. I do want to move all of them on.  Wish me luck.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Monopoly Challenge Contined...

I have finished the challenge of the Electric Company. That was to read a book with a cover that depicted a daytime scene on the cover. If you look at the cover of The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, the Penguin Modern classic of this book does that.

I have now gone to and rolled the di again. It came up on St. James Place and I am supposed to read a book that is the following:

ST. JAMES PLACE: Read a book with a mostly orange cover OR a book whose title starts with J or P OR a book set in Europe OR a book by an author whose first or last initial can be found in “STJAMES”.

As I collect vintage Penguin books this will be a walk in the park. So many Penguins with orange covers. I just need to go find one on the shelf, read it, review it and I'll be back with it.  I am enjoying this challenge. It is heaps of fun, gives a lot of choice and keeps me reading. Can't ask for anything more than that.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday Animals with Books -Library Posters

I found these posters online related to advertising in libraries.  If you were a child looking at these posters would you also want to read books?  Remembering my childhood days I used to love the thought of animals reading books. The cuter the animal the more I wanted to emulate it. How about you?

Friday, 2 May 2014

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Vintage Penguin No. 1566
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter explores the problems of isolation and communication . It is the story of four people who base their existence around the deaf-mute John Singer in the earlier 20th Century in the deep south.

Carson McCullers was born in a small Georgia town and it is this town that provides the setting for her writing.  The town in the book is never revealed and I believed it was Mississippi but could have been Georgia, Alabama or Louisiana. Carson McCullers was filled with angst and grief and led quite an amazing life herself. She hated violence, perversion, injustice and was herself filled with conflict and pain.

I have ordered her biography that I found on eBay because her life sounds so fascinating.

The main characters are John Singer, as I mentioned, a deaf-mute who lives in a boarding house in a small town.
The other main characters are Jake Blount a frustrated, alcoholic political activist and a bit of a roustabout. Doc Copeland is the black doctor in the town whose scholastic ability is so advanced and he struggles to come to terms with the superstitions and untruths of his own people and the town around him.  

Portia is his daughter who works in the household of the boarding house.  Mick is the teenage girl who belongs to the family of the people who own the boarding house. They are very poor and she struggles to come to terms with the fact she will not pursue her music that she so loves as she cares for her younger siblings and goes to school.  She is a wonderful character.

Biff is the owner of the cafe whose wife dies in the story and he is left behind to deal with his lot in life. All the characters congregate around the cafe or John Singers house. It is here friendships are made. Every week these four people visit John Singer in his boarding house blindly stating their own lives and problems to him. They never know how much he truly understands but he acts like a mentor to them, albeit silent.  It is the ending of this book that is so profound. I say no more.

From the Film 1968
I saw the film of this movie years ago, I believe in the 70's. Alan Arkin played the role of John Singer and Sondra Locke was Mick.  It never left my mind as I loved it so much. Both actors were nominated for Academy Awards in these roles.

Loneliness and poverty permeates this book and if you're on a downer I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you want to be surrounded by people worse off than yourself.  The years of the depression were so hard for people in America and it is never portrayed better than in the deep south of the U.S

I loved this story. I loved all the characters. I love that they thought deeply about the issues of their time. I loved that they tried so hard to connect to others and John Singer is such a wonderful man.

This book is very much in the vein of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird or John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.   

It is Southern Gothic at its best and I think everyone should read it at some time, (but that's just me.)  I was deeply moved by this book. I was always going to read it since seeing the movie but since our book group assigned it for the May book I embraced it completely.

Now I know one of my friends dislikes stories from the deep south though I've never had the conversation with him as to why (ahem....Thomas).  But no doubt he has read this ???

Carson McCullers- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was her
first novel.
I was surprised when I looked in some of my reference books, such as great American Women Writers and another book of American Literature.  Carson McCullers was not mentioned because I certainly would include her.  Not only was she a novelist but she also wrote short stories and plays. She was an important figure in American Literature though she had such a crazy lifestyle I wonder if this wasn't accepted for the time. She married her husband and had quite a volatile relationship only to divorce and remarry him several years later. She was reportedly bi-sexual and was quite promiscuous with both men and women. She worked in New York and Europe and seemed to fit in with that whole writer's group that went to Paris. Faulkner and Hemingway were her contemporaries. I am looking forward to the biography arriving as it was reviewed quite well even though it was written some time ago.

I loved this book and I would have to say it is the best book I have this  year by far.

(This book fits into my Century of Books Challenge for 1943.)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Gilgamesh and Pets

Just a Thursday catchup this week.  Busy with various things this week but did get to find the epic poem of Gilgamesh on line and read it.  Kind of depressing with his fear of death and spending so much time writing about it but interesting to read. Now having visited Mesopatamia we can move on to ancient Egypt in the Penguin History of the World.

I thought I would do something light and fluffy and share all my pets with you. Many book bloggers have cats and some of them also have dogs. So this is my family, not having children to brag about and we love them to pieces.

Here they are in order of pecking:

This is Wally, He is 13 years old and we bought him as an 8 week old. He was in a box of puppies from a used car dealer in a car lot.  There were 10 puppies in the box from two jack russell mothers. His father was a staffordshire terrier crossed with a dachshund.  Short legs, staffy body and jack russel head.  He is the strongest willed dog I have ever met and we have a battle of the wills daily but I always win.  Food is the only thing that matters to him.  

This is Molly-Monkey.  She is 9 years old and don't be fooled. She rules the roost amongst all her brothers.  We often get our hair done on the same day when we gave a girl's day out. She was "rescued" from a pet store when I saw her there one day while buying something for a client of mine when working at Disability Services. She was way too young to be away from her mother, she fit in my hand, was cold, no water on a cement floor. The guy swore she was a 100% jack russell but she turned into this silky type terrier. He wanted $200. for her and I said I'd give him $50 and not turn him into the RSPCA.  I bought her and turned him in anyway.  The pet shop was shut down.

This is Uncle Buck, 8 years old and named in memory of John Candy. We loved his movies. I was working as a vet nurse after retiring from my speech pathology career and a girl brought him into the surgery.  He was 3 weeks old and had his head stomped on in a domestic dispute at a local house.  His skull was fractured in 5 places and I was assigned to bring him home for the weekend and keep him comfortable. Because kittens survive amazing episodes of injury at times we gave it a go.  He not only survived, has a dodgy right eye, spun in circles the first couple of months and still does when excited, we adopted him. The girl didn't want to pay vet bills so I paid them and he lives with us.  His back legs don't work for climbing or jumping but he walks in a straight line after my rehab with him and can go outdoors because we have a big fenced yard and he can't climb out of it.  He can't change tasks easily, was hard to litter train but we got there and is very cuddly and we all love each other. He is a very happy cat even if he does forget to get in the litter once in awhile.

This is Odie, aged 3.  He came into the Dog's home with his brother and sister aged 4 weeks.  I fostered the litter in my home until they were old enough to adopt. They were traumatised from 4 weeks with the cretins who had them, anaemic from a flea infestation and the bottoms of their feet were burned from being in a box that was never cleaned and filled with urine.
We cleaned them up, got them treatment and now all of them went back to the home at age 8 weeks to be adopted. They all got homes. We kept Odie because he is just too funny and was the most frightened of the lot.  His mother was a jack russell and his father a beagle. He has a beautiful jack russell head but a beagle brain.  He loves everybody, wouldn't think to growl at anyone and is the most gentle soul you will ever meet. We love him to pieces.  He is a very funny guy and the frisbee is his big obsession in life.

This is the most recent addition to the family.  Cousin Eddie named after the character in the movie Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. My husband, brother and a friend know every line in that movie and it isn't Christmas unless you watch it every year.  Also we needed another cat in the house as a role model for Uncle Buck.  He was a rescue kitten from the RSPCA and is now 5 months old. He is well adjusted, smoochy and has a fascination for water going down drains and down the toilet. He often wonders where it goes.  He has a large "tree" in the living room he plays on (flat pack from ebay) and loves the dogs.  He has worked out you don't go near Wally or Molly at feeding time but you can crawl in Odie's dish while he eats and nothing happens to you.  

There you have it. Our family. Hope you enjoyed meeting them.