Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Ruth Ozeki- A Tale for the Time Being

This is a really unusual and interesting book. I don't know whether I disliked it or liked it.  A diary and some letters have washed up on the western shores of Canada from Japan.

There are two stories as Oliver and Ruth in Canada find the articles and Nao who is a 17 year old student in Japan wrote it.

Chapters alternate between the lives of Nao and her family as well as Ruth and Oliver.

I must say I enjoyed the parts of the book that were about Nao. I really enjoyed her as a character because she was a complex girl dealing with many difficult issues in her life.  I felt like I was there with her as she tried to sort everything out.

She also had a 104 year old grandmother who was a Buddhist nun and the parts of the book that dealt with her and her relationship with Nao were interesting.

Nao's relationship to her father was a book in itself.

When it came to the Canadian side though I had less satisfaction. I felt the author was being a bit too clever for my liking and I found Ruth and Oliver frustrating especially in the beginning.  I did think they developed more as the story progressed.

I thought a lot could have been tightened up in the editing with the length being a problem. (422 pages). I also thought some information could have been cut with them as well as some information pumped up a little bit. When people describe a book as being "uneven" I can now understand what they mean.

I think this is a book that will divide people and I think many people will really get into it.  However I will certainly remember these characters and the geographic locales were described brilliantly. I did feel as though I was visiting both parts of Japan and western Canada and all the light and darkness they contained. I really enjoyed that.

I would definitely recommend this book but I am looking forward to our book club meeting the first week of March when we get a chance to discuss it.  There are many things to think about and my head is still trying to come to terms with everything in it.  There are many threads to this story and it will depend upon the reader whether they are wrapped up at the end or not.

I would love to know what other people who have read this book think about it.  I really had days I would read it and be kept in suspense and then something clever would be introduced and I'd want to throw it across the room but one thing was for sure......I could not put it away and HAD to finish it.

Let me know if you've read it.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Books, Theatre, Motorbikes and Beach

This has been what I would call a busy week. Busier than I'd like really but that's how it goes. I already mentioned Monday night we saw John Cleese at the Theatre Royal. Great Show.

Then on Wednesday we went to the Playhouse Theatre and sat through Blitz- A Sentimental Journey. It takes place during World War II in London. We were being bombed and listening to air raids while trying to watch the musical of 1940's songs. It was very entertaining with the lead female singer and her male piano player with a very simple 40s set and excellent voices.

Blitz- A Sentimental Journey
Thursday I went to a book launch at Fuller's Book Shop and swanned around with the locals. The book was an interesting local history relating to the Cascade Brewery, the Theatre Royal and Mt. Wellington. Very interesting talk about two men named de Graves and MacIntosh.  It seems MacIntosh did amazing things from his base in India, England and Tasmania but de Graves who was around at the same time and died 20 years later in the 1850's took all the credit. The author, doing research on something else discovered this misfortune to MacIntosh and changed his direction to write the book.  A really fascinating piece of local history.


Friday night we managed a night in where I worked on the book Tale Of A Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I'm to have it read for our March Book Club. I finally finished that today on Sunday and I plan on putting up the review in the next couple of days.

Saturday night saw us on our Twilight Motorbike ride for the week and after 100km circle of Hobart we all had something to eat at our favourite cafe in Sorell.

My bike is the red one, second from the front. Kept up with the big ones just fine.

A Sunday afternoon at the beach with the dogs because the weather was so brilliant and home again.

The dogs so love an afternoon with all the other dogs at the beach
Temps were 26 C  or 82 F

I plan on starting my Spin Club book this evening which is a vintage Penguin book, The Happy Return by C.S. Forester.

Tomorrow I return to the library the book Jar City, an Icelandic mystery. I don't think it is a bad book, I just wasn't in the mood for it.

Tomorrow I also pick up the ingredients for the Recipe of the Month on the calendar.  I'll keep that under wraps until the first of March when I post it.


But before I sign off here is the weekly Sunday - Animals with Books.
I hope you enjoy it.





I'm hoping next week is quieter because I'm really in a reading mood and there are a few things I'd like to get stuck into.

How did your week go? Any plans for this week?


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Yes to John Cleese and No to Henry Adams


Henry Adams won the Pulitzer Prize
posthumously for his auto-biography
The Education of Henry Adams in 1919.
Well the 15th of the month came and went. I generally write something about the quote of the day from Good Reads and turn it into Author of the Month.  However this month it was a quote from Henry Adams, 19th century historian and grandson and great grandson of the two USA presidents.

I tried to write about him but truthfully just got too bored to continue. Instead I thought I'd tell you about John Cleese at the Theatre Royal last night.  Mr. Cleese has been touring Australia of recent times and he scheduled one program for Hobart. It sold out so fast they were able to convince him to add two more shows that also sold out.

Last night T. and I went to it along with our friend P. and had great fun.  He talked of his childhood and the tales of his mother were quite funny. He actually compared her to Marty Feldman and had photos to match.  The audience roared with laughter as he went through the days of Monty Python, discussing the black humour that abounded within that series.

He also showed a couple of clips from A Fish Called Wanda and told how brave it was at the time that the black humour they employed was quite daring.  In particular he said the killing of the dogs and the eating of the fish.

He discussed how the sample audiences listed those the funniest bits of the movie and also listed them as the most reported complaints.

John Cleese is now 74 years old which is hard to believe. He told us the original name of his father was Cheese but he became so sick and tired of the jokes that went along with the name Cheese he changed the /h/ to /l/ when he signed up for the army in 1917 before World War I.  The name then became Cleese and he didn't need to battle with Cheese anymore.

We were very appreciative that John Cleese came all the way to Tasmania, his first visit here, and a great evening ensued.

It was really good to get out with a bunch of people and laugh our heads off to this very funny man.  We loved his stories, we loved his history and now speaking of history I'm glad I didn't report on Henry Adams, historian. Cleese was much more fun.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sunday Animals With Books

Imagine a world where butterflies and bees talked to beetles about what they read. Would it be travel? Would it be murder? There is a lot of murder in the insect world. Would it simply be something gentle where people loved spider and never swatted a mosquito.

What books would they read?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Week's Catch Up

Odie wants to know if this is safe. He's already worked out the claws. 
Well things are settling down a bit and life is getting back to normal.  Since we lost our cat Koko to snake bite we're finally starting to feel a bit better. Now I must say Cousin Eddie has helped a great deal with that.  Cousin Eddie is a 11 week old (I think he's younger) tabby cat from the RSPCA that came in with a bunch of tabby cats who needed a home. Though we weren't ready to replace Koko, being the realists we are Eddy needed a home and there were 12 or more others that also needed rehoming.


So home he came. He completely threw off the dog's life for a couple of days but now everyone has settled and we're enjoying his lively antics.

Death At Swaythling Court, Tour De Force, Trial & Error, Plunder of the Sun,
Christmas at Candleshoe, Miss Marple and the Thirteen Problems, Royal Bed
Bed for a Corpse, Death Under Sail, The Black Stage and Mystery in the Channel
On the book side of things I have had a windfall of Penguins.  Seems they are coming at me from every direction. Our local Cracked and Spineless second hand book store received two boxes of mainly green Penguins so I was lucky enough they put some aside for me. They are a quirky book store with an even quirkier Facebook page (here) if you're interested in having a look.  They really look out for me and gave me a good deal on these ten books. (Mind you I pay for their salaries I'm in there so much.

I have a good collection of these Penguin green crime books but I was able to find 10 I didn't have. All first published and I'm quite happy with that.

Penguin Poets: John Donne, Thomas Hardy
Robert Graves and the Penguin Book of Comic
and Curious Verse. Beautiful covers.
Then yesterday out of the blue the phone rang and a woman who works part time in a local Op shop was downsizing some of her book collection. She had seen my Travellin' Penguin card and called up to see if I was interested.

Twenty five books later I continue to add to the collection.  A couple I have already but several were as new because she bought them and always thought she'd read them but ran out of time.  She's older now and wants to move them on.  There were some from the main series, some Penguin Poets I coveted and some original Penguin Classics I didn't have. I left the vintage Pelicans behind because I have to draw the line somewhere. I was quite pleased with the lot for $1.00 per book.

What am I reading this week?  I am reading a wonderfully quirky book A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.  I will have more to say about that later. I am only 96 (out of 422 pages) into it but I'm trying to get it done before our book club talks about it the first week of March. I need to read 25 pages a day to get it done. So far I'm ahead of that.

I hope everyone else is having a decent week and if you know anything about any of these books or if you'd like to sign up to babysit Cousin Eddie when I'm trying to catalogue my books or work on my jigsaw puzzle of 1000 pieces I'd appreciate it.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday Animals With Books


The photo today is a great one. I just love it. I hope you enjoy it too. What a gorgeous big red Roo.


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Classic Spin

Now I'm not a member of The Classic Club but I am an observer. I do read a lot of the posts and enjoy what I follow. It was just too big of a job to do their challenge at this time.

However I do like the idea of The Classic Spin.  So instead of listing my classics, I visited Random.org and had a sequence of 20 random numbers listed. Then I went to The Library Thing and found the books that matched the 20 random numbers. There are some corkers out there.  Because a lot of my collection are my Vintage Penguin books which number 2000+ books and there are some complete unknowns on the list.

When you read this list you'll know what I mean. So without further adieu instead of The Classic Spin you are looking at the Random TBR Spin.


  1. True Story of Dick Wittington- Osbert Sitwell  (Vintage Penguin)
  2. Zoo in My Luggage- Gerald Durrall (Vintage Penguin)
  3. Bristle Face- Zachary Ball  (Old Dog Adventure Story) 
  4. Life & Wisdom of Gwen Frostic-Sheryl James (Story of Michigan poet)
  5. Murder Maestro Please- Delano Ames (Vintage Penguin)
  6. Dragons Are Extra- Lewis Hastings (Vintage Penguin)
  7. A Treasury of Literary Masterpieces; the novels, plays, poems and other works of the most celebrated and historic writers in All Lands and Times by Albert H. Morehead (vintage Peacock)
  8. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  9. October The First is Too Late by Fred Hoyle (Vintage Penguin)
  10. Liza of Lambeth by Somerset Maugham (Vintage Penguin)
  11. By Any Means:  The Brand New Adventure from Wicklow to Wollongong (Charley Boorman Travelling through Australia)
  12. Lanterns and Lances by James Thurber (Vintage Penguin)
  13. Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (Vintage Penguin)
  14. The Unvanquished by Wm Faulkner  (Vintage Penguin)
  15. Survive the Savage Sea by Dougal Robertson (Vintage Penguin)
  16. The Australian People 1788-1945 (Vintage Penguin - Pelican?)
  17. The Wine Is Poured by Beatrice Kean Seymour (Vintage Penguin)
  18. When I Am Playing With My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with Me? Montaigne and Being in Touch with Life by Saul Frampton (Philosophy)
  19. Cannery Row- John Steinbeck
  20. The Happy Return by C.S. Forester (Vintage Penguin)
I would most like to read the Charley Boorman, the philosophy using the cat which is no. 18 or the Steinbeck.  I would least like to read the long title of 7. and 16, The Australian People. We'll see what happens.  Either way it's good fun. I may just have to jump in, grit my teeth and read. 

(Travellin Penguin is currently on a camping trip. He'll be back next week)

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Meet the Mysterious Book Phantom

I have had a great idea. I have a very (stress very) large library.  I also come across excellent books for not much money all the time that I wondered what to do with. Usually in the Tip Shop on the way to Landfill.

Meet the Book Phantom.  The Book Phantom happens to ride a motorbike all of the time. Travellin' Penguin and I also ride to lots of Tasmanian country towns. Tasm
ania is the poorest state in Australia. We don't have the resources for lots of things and Literacy Programs are no different.  There are wonderful books in my library and there are wonderful children's books in the Tip and Op shops.

How could I combine these books with my motorbike riding? I already use it to search for my wonderful vintage Penguins.

My big scooter has a large storage space under the scooter. I thought I would pack it with one or two books at a time every time I go out on it for a ride. I am in small country towns all the time. Often it is only a cross road with a shop.

I made up a note to stick on the back inside cover of every book. It reads:

Congratulations- You have met the mysterious Book Phantom

This is a free book to keep, cherish and read. Please
accept this book in the spirit it was donated.

I have a large library and as I am in the second half 
of my life my library must go.

Read this book. Keep it if you love it or pass it on.

Find a quiet place and enjoy it. Turn off your phone.
Turn off your computer and the television.
Then the next time you go out
 take it with you and leave it in a public place.

I am leaving my books to the small towns of Tasmania.
Big cities have libraries. Small country towns do not.

Bus shelters, bakeries, public toilets- anywhere there are people.

If you wish to let me know you found it, if you enjoyed it,
your thoughts about it, anything at all you may write me at:

bookphantom@yahoo.com.au

and I promise I will write back.  

Isn't this fun?


This is the logo I will incorporate into the sticker. I plan to keep this project absolutely anonymous and I look forward to seeing if anyone writes me back.  There will be regular updates I will share. I hope people write to me. I'll let you know if they do.

 I am really excited about this project.  I will only distribute books that are in a good condition.   The program starts with my next motorbike ride. Too bad I couldn't borrow the cape and mask for awhile.  I must be discrete when leaving these books. It will be so much fun.

If you wish to copy my idea feel free. I am not precious about it. I want people of all ages to enjoy these books as much as I do. Hope you like the logo.

Who was that masked woman?


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

New Family Member

Life is short and the older you get the shorter it seems.  After our January horribilis, February is starting to look up.  We know Koko was a rescue cat and no doubt he would want another animal in need of a home to get one.

I drove out to the RSPCA today and there were about a dozen tabby cats up for adoption and one black one. They put a special price on the tabbys.  They so want them to get good homes.

So meet Wally. (We'll have to change his name because our dog is named Wally and one in the house is enough). We're open to names but I have a few in mind. We pick him up tomorrow only because I was on my motorbike today and he wasn't trained for that yet.

He is 8 weeks old , playful yet when you pick him up he cuddles into you and starts purring. We connected immediately. So now I have something else to write about. Though we'll never forget Koko we know he'd be pleased.

Stay tuned for tomorrow as I will be announcing a big new book project. So excited.

Monday, 3 February 2014

So happy it's February


January was a disappointing month for lots of reasons. I came into the new year full of clean slate thinking and then I had a stroke. That made me lose a lot of confidence. Then they told me it wasn't severe and that made me feel good but I kept writing, typing, using scissors to get the use of my right hand back.
I also didn't like the droop in my mouth. My speech was stuffed. Two weeks later it started reversing and now it's all good. Everything is about 95%. My speech gets tied up if I'm tired. My hand and mouth are normal again.

However when doing the MRI for the stroke to see if it was a stroke or my MS relapsing they found a growth in my nasal/pharyngeal area. A day of a general anaesthetic and surgery saw it removed and I waited a week for the biopsy results.  Thankfully it was clear and was not cancer. Big sigh of relief.

Koko in hospital

Then my cat got bitten by a poisonous whip snake on Austrailia Day holiday weekend. He is a housecat with an enclosure outdoors and the snake got into the enclosure. We have lived here 24 years and never seen a snake. It had to be in January.   I'm very close to consulting an astrologer and finding out what planets have gone retrograde in my chart. Only kidding.

Thinking the paralysis and neurological damage was from an injury and the vet being closed because of the holiday he slept on the couch comfortably all day and we took him in Tuesday morning. After almost getting back to normal he suddenly crashed. He got through that and then due to an underlying heart condition we didn't know about I'm sorry to report he passed away.

Beautifully photographed- more later.

It was blogging and reading books that kept me sane.  I'm working through the book about the two best friends who travel the world collecting rare old books from the 16th century.
Entitled Old Books and Rare Friends I am enjoying it very much. I'll write about it once finished.  I'm also dipping into now, 10 pages a night or so of The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen which is a giant almost coffee table sized hard cover travelogue of Vietnam and cookbook. Beautiful photos.

Really good fun.
I have read 6 other books already listed on the blog page so I won't repeat again. I still have to review one of them.  I'm also looking through a new book entitled How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare.  It is a new book I saw the other day and couldn't go past it. He explains so much about Shakespeare and it is for people who are older children or those who have come late to Shakespeare. I've had a bit of Shakespeare but it's been during school or my Play Reading course and I have seen films of some of the plays but this is an all rounder excellent reference. I'll be writing about it more before long.

Everyday of January I made myself read something, write something, sit still and think of other things. It was such a difficult month but all of the above really helped deal with everything quietly and seamlessly. You just keep going on.

Now it's Feb. I am doing better. I haven't had another more serious stroke, I don't have cancer and my darling cat-boy is going to live.  We have decided to not go by the calendar year and start the new year fresh again with the Chinese Calendar Year.  Welcome to the Year of the Horse. May it only get better.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Sunday- Animals With Books

I found this on what looks to be an abandoned Pin Interest board. No ID on it but if the owner complains I'll deal with it then. It was too lovely to not pass on.

Today's Animals with Books picture is interactive between the elephant and the boy. Beautiful.


Saturday, 1 February 2014

The World In Your Kitchen 2014

In the quest for blog diversity I am adding a monthly food item to the blog.  I hadn't thought of it before but this year's calendar has a recipe a month. We always choose our yearly calendar carefully because after all you have to look at it for a year.

This year is The World In Your Kitchen and features 12 Vegetarian recipes from African, Asia and Latin America.

Each month has a recipe to try from these countries.

We tested the January recipe and as it turned out to be very good I decided to incorporate this calendar into a monthly posting.

It will feature on the first week of the month. This month (Feb) will feature January's task and it gave me a month to get around to it.

I hope people enjoy it.  Since I'm doing this at the beginning of the month I have moved the Good Reads Author of the Month to the 15th of the month.  We shouldn't do everything at the beginning of months. It becomes a bit too anal.

I hope you enjoy this feature and I can tell you the Travellin' Penguin thought January's recipe was a good change from fish. I'm trying to get him to expand his eating routines a little. He's a little fixated on fish.

 The recipe for January is Pad Thai.
What I did with it was to prepare all the ingredients in the morning. I got many small bowls I keep in the cupboard out and went through the list one at a time.  It looked daunting but it really didn't take me more than half an hour.  I left the bean sprouts out because I couldn't find any and I don't like them much anyway. Too stringy.

I used electronic (cheap ones) scales that have setting for both metric and imperial weights.  I find them really easy when I get into my American cookbooks.

Now I can read this okay but if you have a problem email me and I'll be happy to send you a better version of it.

Once assembled I put all the bowls of ingredients next to the stove except the egg and tofu which I would keep in the fridge. In future I don't think I would crack the egg until evening when I needed it b/c it settled a bit.

Once we decided to eat, later that day I oiled up a big pan and followed the directions.  It took 20 to thirty minutes to cook it up and add a small salad.  As there were only 2 of us the portions were more than enough and we had plenty for another meal.  I must say though it wasn't as good the next day like chile or pasta is.  So would be good if you had people over or a family of four with a big green salad.

At the time I made this I hadn't come across the idea to share it with readers so I'm sorry I didn't photograph the final picture.  Next time I will do so. It turned out quite nice but would be great to put a bit of tabasco across the top if you want it spicier. We have volcanic tongues in this household.

Well bon app├ętit and we'll be back with the books soon. I have an exciting project coming up soon and I will be finalising that soon. I can't wait to start implementing it and you'll be the first to know about it very soon.  Stay tuned in the next week for the Book Phantom.