Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A Wonderful Web Site I Found

There is so much on the web regarding all things literary and bookish that I found it is often overwhelming.

I have no idea where I found the following website but I thought I would post it up because I must say I think it is one of the better ones I have found.

The address is:  http://www.literarytraveler.com

An example of their articles. Even if you didn't book a tour
you can get a good idea these places exist and go on your own.

It is a website that combines travel around the world with various authors and the places where they either lived or wrote about.

For example the latest edition has a lovely article of a place to get the feel for The Great Gatsby on Long Island, New York.

There is another article about Cuba related to that country's literature and also articles about interesting people who were either authors or involved with them.

One can sign up for the newsletter at the site and so far I have only received a couple of newsletters so they aren't bombarding my email box as often happens.

I hope it is something you might enjoy as much as I do as I have often enjoyed the travels of book bloggers and their wonderful photos and you might just find some interesting places not far from where you live to visit that tie in with a favourite book.

For example I am visiting family in the United States in November and will spend about 10 days in the San Francisco area.  I am hoping to visit the Jack London National Park at Sonoma California and the John Steinbeck Centre near Monterey California.

No doubt I am going to get some new ideas from this newsletter.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bikes instead of Books today

Photo from their Facebook page.

Saturday was meant to have been rainy and blustery. A few of us had planned a camping weekend but it had to be cancelled. So Saturday morning dawned and the sun was shining. And there was little wind. Hmmm... a Bike Day.

A small group of us met for coffee about 10:30 am at Moto Vechio cafe on the Eastern Shore of Hobart. It is a relatively new cafe and the decor speaks to motorbike enthusiasts. Old restored and semi restored bikes are parked along the walls. The Ulysses Bike group members upon presentation of their card get a 15% discount on food and drink and the owners and staff always smile. Also as one member pointed out they don't charge an extra 50 cents for soy milk in our coffee. We all have our favourite benefits in life.

We finished the coffees and toast and the sun continued to shine. Off we went down to the wharf on the bikes where the Tall Ships are visiting.

Tall Ships Hobart, Tasmania (Photo from Hobart Mercury Newspaper)
However they were docked, no sails up and the crowds were crushing.  I will try to see them when they sail away up the river on Wednesday.

We escaped for country roads farther south and ended up at Grandvewe. Grandvewe is a dairy farm of sheep. They have a beautiful little cafe that looks out over Birches Bay to the south of Hobart. The ewes are lambing and the lambs of course are gorgeous.

The view over Birche's Bay south of Hobart. Beautiful farmland.
Photo by Terina

How cute is this little fella.  Photo by Terina
They have cheese tastings of their dairy cheese which is excellent, yesterday I tasted a fine blue cheese that was quite mild but lovely none the less.

Trav Penguin didn't get down there as he was home wrapped up in a Kindle finishing Kathy Reich's latest book , more on that later, from him.

We had more coffees and teas and some Panini bread with cheese and free range ham with chutney that melted in my hungry mouth.
Photo by Pam

We always love a group photo.  That is 'moi'  on the far left. Photo by Terina

Then back onto the bikes and back to Hobart.  It turned out to be a beautiful day with great friends and the most gorgeous country side in the world. (Or so we think anyway).  Tasmania truly is one of the world's best kept secrets. Enjoy the photos.

Our mate Terina has a camera on her bike.
This is our group heading back north to
Hobart (a trip of about 45 minutes)

Photo by Terina

Friday, 13 September 2013

You Can Now Say, " I Told You So". Go ahead, I can take it.

Balzac's Droll Stories from 1870's by Balzac
(Will have its own post one of these days.)
 For some unknown reason (one of those times when it seemed like a good idea at the time), I got up on my high horse and said I was not going to buy another book until the end of 2014. (here).

The weather was having a fake summer whilst still winter and I was in a very high mood and felt very strong.  Well the past week has been cold, I haven't left the house in a week and my mood was starting to fall fast. I moved from bed to couch to bed, food in hand, a stack of books beside me, cheap magazines and internet fully charged. I woke up this morning and thought, "Right - get up, get out."  I felt like I was in training for living in a nursing home.

Besides I kept thinking my old haunt, Imperial Books, which is a great second hand book shop in Hobart had changed its name to Spineless and Cracked.  I was curious to know if they had new owners. T. was going in to the gym today so I said I'd ride along with him and do some errands in town and I could check out the bookshop to see what the story is.

A lovely old Wodehouse Penguin No 995
first published that shop owner had set
aside for me.
I also had a monthly retirement check from the 14 years I worked in Florida to deposit. It arrives the first week of the month like clockwork. I have to go into town, stand in a line, speak to the bank "specialist" because a regular teller is not able to deposit it. Then I have to pay a $10.00 fee and have a 28 day hold put on it. It is a bloody nuisance but it does get me into town.
There is another bank I could take it too but they have a 35 day wait on it and the one I go to often forgets to log in the 28 day hold and I can access it immediately. Each month they ask me, "Why don't you have this directly deposited?"

I tell them that the Florida Retirement System is so archaic they don't have the facility to do so outside of the immediate 50 states of the USA.  The 'specialist' who has a desk to sit at instead of standing at a counter says, "Why not?"  My answer is the same, "Because the state of Florida is too busy monitoring the little car on Mars and wondering how many more people they can send to the moon."  Technology has not caught up with the Florida Retirement system and I must be the only person to ever have retired from the state of Florida who moved to another country.  We all laugh and my check is then deposited.

Photo doesn't do it justice. A teal colour 
Penguin Classic L 77 (first) 1958
So down the street I walk to the second hand book shop to find out the latest there. On my way I have to walk around a very young policeman who has just collared a girl who was part of a screaming gang of girls who ran out of a cheap cosmetics store, making no amount of noise.  She stood there arguing with him as he slapped the handcuffs on her. No doubt an active little shoplifting ring happening.
As for me, I had bigger fish to fry. I had to find out if the news from my favourite second hand bookshop was good or bad.

Turns out it was all good.  In respect to the man who ran the Imperial who died a year and a half ago they didn't want to immediately rename it. So they gave it a year and have now upgraded it and the name.  Of course now everything has been completely rearranged and the wall of Penguin books that was always in one are has disappeared.  The entire back section has been re-shelved with Classic books, anything before 1900 and all literature after that in the Literature section. The popular novels are in their own shelves called "Airport Fiction".  This includes the Robert Ludlums, Danielle Steels and Dan Browns, etc.

Vintage Penguin Classics (firsts)
L 117 and L 76
As for the Penguins? They are now literature and shelved alphabetically by author amongst all the other Lit books. Great.  But back to buying books?  I was so happy the shop only gets better and better and the display of books so excellent I started browsing the shelves looking JUST for Penguins.
However I found some wonderful non Penguins and I thought "Stuff It".  I can think of two bloggers I follow in particular who will make a joke if they read this so maybe this will be the post they don't see?? Is that right Elaine and Thomas??
So this is what I bought. And boy oh boy did it ever feel good. My mood meter went sky high and let's face it books are cheaper than drugs, right?
I can't go past a book that is 
actually about reading.
This looked great.  Originally
written 1920, this copy is a 1947
British Publishers Guild
Enjoy my find and if you are familiar with any of these titles or authors feel free to comment. Or also feel free to say "Ha ha ha" or " I told you that you couldn't do it."  You'd be right. I couldn't but I did go for almost a month.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

This week in Tasmania has been very cold. It does this every year. We get a week of 20 degree + temps at the end of winter (70's F) and everyone breaks out their summer clothes and then, Wham ! the winds come from the south (Antarctica) and we freeze.  I have not even left the house this week because I can't get warm.

So the Penguin and I were wondering what we could do. We looked at the bookshelves in the front room and decided to go to New York. After  all it is summer there now going into fall and we thought we could enjoy some interesting sights and weather. Mind you the Travellin Penguin doesn't mind the cold as much as I do but he does like getting into a book that takes place in New York.

The Bookstore is Deborah Meyler's first novel. It was enjoyable if a bit uneven in parts.  Esme is a young English woman who has received a scholarship to do her PhD in Art History at Columbia University. She lives in a small apartment in Manhattan and has fallen in love with a real New York blueblood man who has dashing good looks and pretty much sweeps her off her feet. His name is Mitchell van Leuven.  I won't tell you what kind of man Mitchell is but his character is drawn up very well and readers will definitely have opinions about how they feel about him.

Of course she is so swept away that she becomes pregnant which of course was not in her plans at all. When she then gets dumped she has a myriad of decisions to make. Will she keep the baby? Will she terminate it?  How will she earn money?  How she supports herself in Manhattan is part of what I found a bit uneven in this book.

She gets a job working at The Owl, a second hand bookshop near where she lives. The hours are flexible enough for her to continue attending her art classes, visit museums to study the paintings she loves and try to sort out her on again/off again love for Mitchell.

What I enjoyed the most about this book were the characters who worked in the bookstore. The author based them on people and experiences she had when she worked for 6 years in a New York bookstore.  I also loved the descriptions of New York, especially late at night when it was raining out and the shop workers sat around talking, playing music and enjoying one another's company.

Was the story predictable?  Not entirely but I thought it could be. I also liked the way Esme got on with her life, kept going to classes, studying art, working and continuing her friendships even when her life was falling apart. A lot of novels of this ilk are not quite like that.  No one was going to rock up on a white horse and save her, she was going to save herself although that was a bit of a rocky path.

I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it but on a cold day, Travellin Penguin and I enjoyed our warm tracky daks, wrapped up in a doona, with the blinds open, watching the birds and being in New York, sitting in Central Park in the sun, breathing the dust in The Owl and watching other people get on with their lives and watch what decisions they made.  I would be interested in knowing what others thought of this book as I don't know anyone here who has read it.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

An Art Book Replaces the Challenge

Grant Wood (1891-1942):
American Gothic - 1930
Okay, I have had enough of answering all the questions about the Book Blogging Information.  It served its purpose after answering the first 8 questions. I feel going on to finish all 15 would be flogging a dead tree.

It was a good exercise to get motivated to write a bit more and think about the whole blogging issue.  That has been accomplished. It was starting to get repetitive and if I get bored then it defeats the whole purpose.

I'd rather write about books than blogs.

From My Bookshelf is American Art. I came across this in a second hand book shop in Hobart.  I have always loved Grant Wood's American Gothic. It is at the Art Institute in Chicago according to this book and although I have never seen the original I grew up with it.  It used to pop up regularly in ads that I remember or as a bit of comedy as people have tinkered with it over the years.   It is quite iconic to the United States.

The English version was first published in 1972 by Octopus Book Lmtd. London and this copy was distributed in Australia by Angus and Robertson.  What I find interesting is the book was originally published in Italian by Fratelli Fabbri Editore in 1966 Milan.  This particular book doesn't seen to ever have visited North America.

It was the cover that attracted me to it and as it's in a great condition with dust jacket I thought it would be a lovely addition to my collection.

The 87 Colour Illustrations are well done and are very varied as you can see in the small sample below.
Jack Levine (born 1915) : Welcome Home !
1946 - New York - Brooklyn Museum
This book is part of a series that includes African Art, Classical Greece, Art Nouveau, Chinese Art, Christian ARt, Egyptian Art, Impressionism, Indian Art, Japanese Art, Pre-Columbian Art and Roman Art.

Stuart Davis (born 1894): The Paris bit. New York,
Whitney Museum of American Art
The book not only has examples of various American art work but has full colour photo plates of various  museums that the art is housed in as well as photos of the various homes some of the artists live in. Frank Lloyd Wright had an amazingly large home and no doubt it would be great to go through it.

So I hope people enjoy this short interlude away from more blog babbling and have a quick look at the photos presented from the book.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) : Portrait
of Mrs. X    18884 New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Book Information Challenge Item 8

Quick !  Write 15 Things That Appeal to You On Blogs

1.   I like blogs to be personable. I like to get to know the authors of the blogs on a more   

personal level. That way they become friends.

2.  Some book reviews seem sterile. They go on for ages in tiny print.  I'm not doing a 

university course, I just want to hear about the book you read. I also have very old eyes.

3. Humour-  Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself, the author or the book. Keep it light. There is 

    already too much serious stuff in the world. I read blogs for fun.

4.  Photos. Love, Love, Love photos

5.  Include other things on your blog besides just book reviews. Like travel photos, or photos 

of your town or pets. Or flowers in your back yard or a bug in a tree. I don't care, just love 
your photos. 

6.  Photos of book covers. Love photos of book covers.  I don't read blogs that are only text 

detailing a book. Book covers or illustrations within the book add so much more to your  

7.  Let me know how the book made you feel. Many people read to find an escape from their own lives. It's great if I know you laughed or cried your way through a book. I'll more than likely want to visit that place. 

8.  What other bookish things do you like to do? Share photos of books shops you visit, libraries, museums or tell me about a book festival you went to or about your book club.

9. I love to know about the area where you live. Talk about weather or things you've done. If you went to the park pop in a photo. I have learned so much about the world simply by enjoying postings of places other bloggers visit on a weekend. It is like a miniature holiday.

10.  I like to hear about any of your books. You might have something quirky from childhood. Post it up for fun.

11. Don't get too snobby. Denigrating what other bloggers do or read is not a nice look. Okay so you don't like the writing of Bryce Courtenay but millions did and he seemed a lovely man. Readers do not need be judgmental of what others read. Totally unnecessary. 

12.  I like to hear bloggers talk about books or experiences with books perhaps they had as a younger person/child. I have read some funny accounts of people dealing with book shop owners or others meeting up when they find they are both reading the same book in a park.

13. Book news in your community. Is an author coming to talk? Has something quirky happened at the local book shop? Did you attend a lecture or festival? Love to hear about it from your perspective.

14.  Reply to comments left.  Why should I comment on your blog if you don't ever respond? If you can't respond to comments once in awhile then please don't ask me to leave them. 

15.  Please do not post up book spoilers without a warning and a few blank lines before they begin. I have had more than one book ending spoiled by someone going straight into the ending.

There you have it. I'd love to know if others can add anything to this list.  Blogging is fun. Making friends with bloggers is fun. Hearing from other bloggers is fun. To me that is what it is all about.  Happy reading.  

Friday, 6 September 2013

Book Information Challenge 7- Quirks

Talk About Your Blogging Quirks - Day 7

Blogging quirks?  Me?  I guess my biggest quirk was that I review my books through my alter ego which is a black and white penguin who likes nothing better than to travel the world through books.  Although Trav (short for Travellin' --his parents came from Antarctica )  may be a character that I continually practise drawing and dressing to match his environment he is really quite strictly controlled through invisible marionette strings. So I like to tell myself.

He arrived one day in my front room when I decided I was going to begin thinking about collecting Penguin books (see my list here). I heard a little rustle one night in the front room. It was cold in there and quite dark and the dogs and I carefully tip toed in to see where the noise was coming from. Mice? Rats? oooooh yuk.   Sitting in a little orange chair with a little orange torch, legs crossed like an Indian as we used to say before it became politically incorrect, you know lotus position like, he was murmuring.  He had a funny little hat on, he always seems to wear funny little hats. Probably because they are easy to draw using a computer mouse.

He was talking about this family of Americans who were very poor and they were making their way west during the 1930's depression to California. I could see the word Steinbeck on the spine of his little book. 
background pic courtesy Vector free to use clipart

He looked up. Quietly at first then he broke into a grin. He told me I should start collecting these beautiful old battered orange Penguins. For one he had many friends in them. For another I could travel the world, learn a great deal of social history and have a good time telling the world about them. Well there are other bloggers who do that better than I do but there aren't other bloggers who love these old books more than I do. Equally maybe , but no, not more.

He looked around the room and saw a lot of other books that weren't published by Allen Lane.  He never knew there were other books published by people other than Allen Lane. I told him about some of them. He decided he wanted to step out of the Penguins a bit as he'd been living in them since 1935.  He said he felt a bit, well, um….dusty.
That seemed a long time to both of us.

We talked long into the night to decide how we might do that.  I told him I could gather the books, all the books and we could visit them together and we could write about them. You know, share our adventures with others. So that is what we started to do. We fumbled a lot. We waned a bit. We got excited, sometimes we got bored. We had to find our feet in the blogging world. There are many very good bloggers out there who write about a lot of very good things especially books.

We needed something a bit different.  I worried I'd never find anything that hadn't been done before. It was his idea actually to visit books. All books. But deep down we both wanted to keep his books alive too. We wanted to save them. Keep them out of the pulp machines and council landfill.  So that remains our number one priority. But he also wanted to visit children's books other than Puffins and he wanted some up to date non fiction besides Pelicans. He grew up on those. He knows them inside out.

So we decided to travel. Pack up a bag or a case or maybe some trunks. In case we go onboard a steamer ship.  We would dress for the occasion. Mind you when we headed to California during the depression with the Joad family we only had a few things from the old farmhouse.  That was a rough trip.

It was much more fun visiting Long Island Old Sport and riding in those beautiful cars and wearing glamorous clothes from the 1920's. The world is our oyster. We might eat oysters. We might grow oysters. We can do anything in the world because now we are accessing all the books available to us.  Yes he did tell me to start travelling through the ones I have already. So not buying books for awhile but that is only temporary.  He is better at it than I am.  I find myself begging people to give me gifts of books when a birthday comes around, though I don't want more birthdays. 

Also we will be travelling to America in November to see my family in Tennessee and California.  Of course Trav (as his friends call him) will tag along.  Will we have a moratorium on not buying books?  We are still discussing that. Trav says no more books in suitcases from overseas.  I say, "Well, we'll see about that."  We're still talking about it. We'll let you know.

Okay so back to the question.   Do I have any blogging quirks??  Hmm…. No , I don't think so.  

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Book Information Challenge Day 6

How Do I Buy Books?  Let Me Count The Ways

I buy books in fits and starts 
On impulse
After reading reviews
Watching book shows
Seeing what others read
In cafes
Or on busses
By the looks of their covers
Because others tell me what to read?
Sometimes I buy them more than once
If I'm not paying attention- hmm
Those that are translated
Others not
Many with pictures
Others are blank
In Summary
If it has two covers
And pages in the middle
If it smells like a book
If it cracks like a book
If it's in reach
Then out comes the purse
Into the bag and  home to the shelf. 
Am I addicted?
Well maybe
Just a little?
Okay,so I'm hopeless

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Travellin' Penguin goes to Cornwall...

The Penguin has been in Cornwall this week with Rosamunde Pilcher.  I have not read a Pilcher novel since probably the 1970's (?)  and I believe that was The  Shell Seekers which at the time I really loved.

No I did not buy this book but it was a pick from the charity table when I was at a meeting of the Dog's  Home.  The Dog's Home auxiliary is a meeting I go to once a month on a Monday afternoon and we raise money for the Dog's Home of Tasmania.  (Dogs are here) A very worthwhile pursuit considering my love of all animals and especially dogs.  We always give a dollar or two donation and are able to take home something from the little corner table. Might be a bag of tomatoes or a chocolate bar or a book.  I don't count a donation to the dog's home in return for a book that isn't supposed to be sold in the first place buying a book and going against my challenge. I know I am on very shaky ground here but the alternative was to not give the donation as the tomatoes and chocolates were quickly snapped up.  That's the story anyway and I am going to stick to it. After the meeting and foraging through the donation swap table of items supplied by all of our  members we then eat large pieces of cream cake and have lovely cups of tea. I am one of the younger members of the group and those ladies that are 20 years older than I am can sure bake. (By the way it is okay to look at the dogs because we have a zero euthanasia policy. No matter how much work it takes to make the dogs ready for adoption or how long they need to stay there that is what happens with the rare exception of a very sick or extremely aggressive dog). 

The book that came home with me is called The Carousel and I think it was one of those freebies that come attached to women's magazines as a complimentary gift to bolster sales.  It was also published in 1983 originally so counts towards my Century of Books challenge.

As Trav Penguin stepped off the train in Cornwall the first persons he encountered were Prue and Charlotte. Prue is a young woman who lives near London who was coming to stay with her aunt Phoebe who has broken her arm. Phoebe is a Bohemian type artist whose partner died some years before and everyone loves her. She wears flouncy colourful clothes.  Along with Prue is a young girl, about 8 years old who was also on the train. Charlotte was put on the train by her father who doesn't seem to care much about her and is being sent to stay with her grandmother in Cornwall, Mrs. Tolliver who really is much too aristocratic and old to care for this tyke. Charlotte's mother is swanning around Europe dallying with strange men. She can't possibly let this young girl interfere with her life either.  Besides Charlotte has an older brother who really is much more important because after all he is a boy.

Travellin' Penguin loves Cornwall and loves the underdogs such as this little girl he meets so he continues to follow their story.

Another character who enters unexpectedly but whom everyone seems to love is Daniel who is becoming famous for his art and has an exhibition coming up in London and he decides to pop in on his friends in Cornwall. He has not met Prue before but was a long time friend of Phoebe, also an artist who encouraged him his in success.  They are all proud of him. He is also good looking and Prue finds him much more attractive than the young man from Scotland who will be a boring old professional that her mother keeps pushing her on to.

Travellin Penguin has this story completely figured out especially when it turns out there are secrets in the village regarding Daniel and Mrs. Tolliver's families.  By the way Charlotte is also a very talented young artist and is drawn toward's Phoebe's household where she spends most of her time because she is so happy there with Daniel, Prue and Phoebe.

This book however predictable, was fluffy and very much a comfort read. The Penguin and I enjoyed it as we laid in bed early one morning walking through Cornwall, sitting at the seaside sketching seagulls in a light rain, that of course we barely noticed and once finished we continued with our day in Hobart with a light step and a smile on our face.  Lovely little book. You have to read the story to learn of the significance of the title, The Carousel.

This is a giveaway book.  If you would like me to send you this copy (anywhere in the world) then please leave a comment by Sunday 11 pm 8 Sep't. New York time and I will put your name into Random.org to see if it will visit you. Sorry guys but Trav Penguin stays here with me.