Monday, 27 June 2016

Publishers---Stop Doing This False Advertising

I am going to have a bit of a rant here. The other night I was watching the ABC (Australian Broadcasting) Book Club show with Jennifer Byrne, Jason Steger and Marieke Hardy.  They reviewed an Australian crime story.  I forget the name of it but that doesn't matter. The thing is the publisher sold it as a psychological thriller about two sisters. One who was murdered and the other who was grieving beyond all belief. They all said that it is definitely not a psychological thriller. It was an in-depth story of the remaining sister's grief.

The point is if you go to the bookshop, pay your hard earned money because you want to buy a good psychological thriller, buy this particular book and read it you will be disappointed. 

I saw this book, Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand.

The Amazon kindle site (I was travelling) told me the book was as follows. 

"The bestselling French phenomenon now being made into a Hollywood movie.

Diane has a charmed life as a wife, a mother and the owner of a literary cafe in Paris called Happy People Read and Drink Coffee. But when Diane suddenly loses her beloved husband and daughter in a car accident her perfect world is shattered. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane withdraws from friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward.

One year on, Diane shocks her loved ones by leaving Paris to move to a small town on the Irish coast to rebuild her life alone. There she meets Edward, a brooding, handsome photographer who lives next door. Initially Edward resents Diane's intrusion into his solitary life, but before long they find themselves drawn to each other . . ."

The cover shows the main character holding a book in Paris and reading it.  I was so disappointed in this story I almost had Kindle take it back but figured it would be more trouble than it was worth. Yes the protagonist owns a book store in Paris. However she doesn't really go into it much. She also doesn't read.  Her husband and daughter die at the very beginning in Paris in a car accident. She is grieving very much. She spends a great amount of time carrying on to her gay guy friend who also works in this book store.  She lies around the house, doesn't do anything for about a year and then she does go to Ireland. The entire rest of the book takes place a small village in Ireland. It is a very formulaic book. 

She rents a little house, sits around doing nothing, makes a friend, meets the friend's crabby brother who is about her age. He is not in  a relationship. Still nothing about the Paris bookshop or reading.  She doesn't even drink much coffee, lots of alcohol though.  She and the friend's brother go back and forth, verbally sparring, spending time together.....yeah, you get the drift. Nobody is spending time with books though.

Finally during the second to last page she is back in Paris and lo and behold she is in her bookshop. She is holding a grand re-opening of sorts.  People are talking about coffee. They touch books. Next page continues with The End. 

The publisher completely misrepresented this book both on the blurb at the back of the book (I saw it in the bookshop in Hobart) and on the Amazon site.  Is this going to be the new trend in publishing? Will books be advertised to be about the topics all of us really love? Then when we get home in our PJ's, curl up on the couch with whatever pet sits with us, get our hot cocoa (It is winter here) and dive in we will find out the book is about something entirely different.  This book is pure hype. I might have enjoyed it if I wanted to read a romance/grief/fall in love book but I didn't. I am too old for that nonsense of youth. I read that years ago.  I wanted to read a book that takes place in a book shop where people meet, read, chat and drink coffee.  That's what I like now.

If this happens again I am really going to complain to the publisher.  I usually let three things happen before I hit the proverbial roof. So far I am on number 2.  Publishers.....please beware.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

New Penguins from Alice Springs

No. 2543- 1968
Who would have thought I would find vintage Penguin books from Alice Springs? I did not expect to find a book shop but lo and behold I not only found one but there were two.

One book shop at the far end of the Todd Mall had new books. I did not go into it as we walked past because the last thing I needed was a new book.

I did ask a shop clerk if there were any second hand bookshops in the city. "Yes," she replied. "Go to the other end of the street. Go past the KFC (of course there would be a KFC) and you will see it in the next block across the street."

Sure enough we found it without any difficulty.  The lady who was working in it said she had been there for 11 years but this was her last week. She had sold the shop and was moving back to Melbourne where her family lives.

No 2296- 1968
Most of the books were popular fiction that backpackers and airport travellers might look for. I call them "airport books". I did find one shelf of older classic books and there were a handful of vintage Penguins scattered amongst the shelves. Several I had already. The horrible Galsworthy covers were staring at me and fortunately I did not need them. I dislike these covers of their photographs of the tv series stars intensely. My very least Penguin books. But then I saw four books by Richard Gordon.  These are part of a series of "Doctor" books that appear to be quite humorous. I have a couple of them and I already owned one of the four there but I did not have the other three. They were all first published so I picked them up.  I must say, I am very happy with this find as I do not come across them much in Australia.

The next story is a bit more odd.

My sister and I had been in Cairns, Queensland, the week before. We took the sky rail up to Kurunda. Forty five minutes in a cable car high above the rainforest canopy below. Once I decided to not indulge my fear of heights it was very peaceful and beautiful. Also the giant blue koala Commonwealth games mascot and a cameraman were in the gondola behind us. A promotional for the games was being recorded. If you see an advertisement for the upcoming Commonwealth games in a gondola over a lot of trees know that we were in the next car.

No 2294- 1968
We walked around the town of Kurunda with all the touristy markets, cafes and Aboriginal paintings. At the very end I noticed a sign for a bookshop. It looked very second hand.  My sister waited outside while I went in. An older gentleman sat behind the counter and looked as though he had been there a very long time. It turned out the majority of his books were non-fiction. Though I did see a couple of boxes on the floor of fiction books.

The conversation went like this:

Me:  "Do you have any vintage Penguin books?"
Him: "What are they?"
Me: "Penguin published paperback books printed between 1935 and 1970."
Him: "Never heard of them."
At this point I had to hold onto a shelf because I was reeling a bit. Where had this man been the last 80 years?  Behind this counter I expect.

Me:  "They would most likely be small paperbacks, coloured orange......or maybe green.  Green is crime, Orange is fiction. " I decided not to mention blue, yellow, cerise or especially grey."

PK 48- 1965
Him: "Nope, don't have those."             Me:  "Okay, I thought I would check."
Him: Continues reading whatever he is reading behind the counter. I could hardly breathe for his enthusiasm.

On the way out of the open shop door I glanced down and saw an old Penguin Peacock book.  It seems I only come across these in the Hobart Tip recycling shop so I picked it up. I don't always buy them but I did love the cover on it. The title was vaguely familiar and it was a first published.

"C'mon little Peacock, let's get you out of this place. The old man might eat you for dinner or just as likely throw you in a bin." I am sure Kurunda does not have a mass market for a 1965 Chinese Peacock book."

I always feel as though I am releasing a bear from an Asian bile factory when I rescue an old Penguin book from a strange bookstore. There was no appreciation going on there.

So off I went with my dollar

purchase.   I must say I am very happy with my four new (old) Penguin books. I will soon catalogue and photograph them and onto the revered book shelf it will go.

If you have read any of these please let me know what you thought.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Hacker Stuff Up

The Penguin has had lots of fun this week.
I am still here but have had a lot of technology problems lately. We have had a wonderful trip so far in Cairns, Uluru and now Alice Springs. However suspicious activity was noted on one of my accounts that monitor this blog and Google shut it all down. They then attached it to a different email address that didn't seem to be able to be touched by apps on my tablet or phone. I am on my laptop today and was able to update things and hurrah, my blog is working again. Imagine how I felt when I was told it wasn't there.  But now, all is well.  I will have time after this weekend to load up delayed posts and some wonderful photos I took.

I found 3 Penguin books today in an Alice bookshop that I did not have. One Peacock that was from the Op shop here and three Penguins from the bookshop. All first Penguins.

In Queensland we did an Aboriginal day where we went onto the mudflats and speared crabs to be served to us later. Though I must confess I did find several little crabs but instead of spearing them I hid them from the others. I didn't need the food enough to take their lives. Others in the group were like savages and I just couldn't do it. However I enjoyed walking along the flats in almost knee deep sand and muck at times looking for them.  I saved a few periwinkles too. I was handed them by others and told to put them in the bucket. I "accidentally" dropped them.  Whoops.....

I just can't kill things. We did have enough later on for everyone to try.   It was an interesting day and we learned a lot about indigenous history in the northern Queensland area but walking about 5 km in mud was tiring. We loved it though.

We did other rainforest excursions and ate barimunda that was good and had a great week in the rain.  
The sun came out the day we flew out to Ayres Rock (Uluru).

A wonderful time there. We saw Ayres Rock and the Olgas. Uluru and Kata Jtuta I believe is how it is spelled but don't quote me. We photographed two sunsets on the rock that were beautiful and I will post up the photos of some things next week when I have more time.

We loved the Ayres Rock area and walked what seemed miles and miles. I know my Garmin tracker gave me a couple of badges when I synced it to see how far I had walked.  Weather was beautiful, not too hot or muggy and loved everything.

The night before we were to leave Qantas sent us texts tellings us our flight out of Ayres Rock to Alice Springs was cancelled. They only have one a day. As we only scheduled one full day in Alice we weren't willing to take the flight offered the next day so ended up on a tour bus from Ayres Rock to Alice springs the day we were scheduled to fly out. Almost 7 hours with three or so hours of commentary about the history of the area.  It was fun to listen to and often quite colourful. I do love the stories of the explorers, dreamtime and early history of Australia. So we enjoyed a peaceful day.

Today we did the big walkabout around Alice Springs that does not take longs. Sat in the mall with coffee and watched people. Heard a brilliant guitar playing blind busker and we gave him some cash. Lovely man.
Life is so hard for a lot of people around here and we feel for them.

Tomorrow I head back to Hobart and my sisters goes to visit friends in Perth.  She will be there for a couple of weeks and then she will back to Hobart where she will be with me a month while Mr. Penguin leaves the beginning of July for a month to Canada and US (Michigan) to visit family.

He has been holding the fort while I have been away and now it is my turn to take care of the little fellas that live with us.

Looking forward to a cold, relatively quiet month I hope and more time to write posts.

I leave you now to await further photos and a bit more commentary and maybe photos of my new (old) Penguin books.

All the best to all of you who read this mish-mash.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Weekend Wrap Up- Sunday Evening

We got snow this weekend on the mountain. It was a  chilly 9 degrees C (about 45 F).  But the sun was out most of the weekend and it was really gorgeous out there. Whenever it snows, many people drive up the mountain, pile snow onto their car, even build a snowman on the bonnet and then drive back down and through the city.  Each person seems to think they are the only one who does it and it cries, "Look at me, look at me!"  

I spent the first 20 years of my life in Michigan in the USA. I remember those days where the windchill was 60 degrees below zero F. I remember the blizzards when we couldn't open the front door to get out of the house due to high drifts. I remember the ice storms when the branches sparkled in the sun.  So it does make me laugh when we get half a centimetre of snow and everyone drives up the mountain to see it.   Human's really are funny. is a photo of it from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp).

So what did we do this weekend?  Well I picked up a couple of new books. Two new ones from Fuller's book store that looked interesting and two secondhand ones from Cracked and Spineless (Facebook page). 

This is what I picked up.  First I went to Fuller's as they have a cafĂ© and I was in need of a hot cappuccino (in a mug- I wanted it BIG) and also they have wonderful almond croissants with custard in them.  I have an interest right now in anything photographic so this little book caught  my eye.  The photos I like to take the most, besides birds and animals is urban photography. I love anything old in cities, people going about their daily life and little bits of nature I uncover here or there.  I think this book will have some good tips.

Then I saw this little gem. This is the story of a man in the UK who walks along the coast of Cornwall from Land's End along the northern shore of Cornwall.  As my friend and I are planning a trip to Cornwall this coming September I thought this would be interesting.  I love travel writing especially when people walk or bicycle and see everything up close. I love to hear about the people they meet and write about.  Travel writing really is my favourite read.


 Then, on to see Richard and Mike at Cracked and Spineless. They have an incredibly active Facebook page. When Richard gets in boxes of books he quickly photographs them and puts them onto Facebook pretty quick smart. He has a lot of followers and quite a young clientele online. People immediately snap up these books and it is sometimes very hard to get one unless you time it right.

This was one of the finds. Down to Earth-Australian Landscapes. A large coffee table book full of landscape photography of Australia.  Tim Winton, a well known Aussie author is one of the authors who helped put it together. He writes a lot about the landscape and nature of Australia. Especially Western Australia where he lives. As I just undertook a Landscape Photography workshop a couple of Sundays' ago I thought this would be good.

The other secondhand book I found was this Virago Modern Classic by Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career which I really loved. I have not heard of this book and it looked interesting. Also it has a beautiful cover.

An eclectic assortment really.   So what did we do today?  It was very cold this morning. Snow was still on the mountain so the dogs and I headed for the beach. Yes, we go to the beach all year round here.  It was sunny though chilly. We rugged up and off we went. Molly, Odie and I. Mr. Penguin was going to clean the house and wanted us gone.  I know, I am very fortunate. He is better in the house than I am. I like outside jobs, putting things together and taking care of bills. We have role reversal here.   Anyway....

I thought the dog beach would be empty but it was quite crowded. A small group of women were there with their greyhounds who were running around. They are so beautiful when they run. All of them have been rescued from the dog track. Don't get me started on the cruelty of dog racing.

As we walked along I noticed two dolphins swimming fairly close to shore. They went out a ways and headed south along the shore line. The sun shone on their backs and they were gorgeous. There seem to be quite a few dolphin and whale sightings around the state lately. On the move to warmer waters I guess.   A golden retriever also saw them and entertained us all by trying to swim out towards them before turning back, running along the foreshore and then diving back in the water again. He so wanted to meet them and his owner had his hands full getting him to settle down a bit.

Well the weekend is over now, tomorrow I pack my bags and head to Cairns (pronounced Cannes) on Tuesday in Queensland where I meet my sister who I have not seen in a couple of years. She will be here from California where she lives. I am really looking forward to it. The penguin is going with me so stay tuned to what we get up to. Should be fun.
Oh excuse me, did you say something??

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Good Morning Everyone....

Thursday 9 June, 2016

I quite like this letter type format. I miss old fashioned letters.  Yesterday was the day the Domain Writer Group met. There are about 7 of us that meet each Wednesday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm on Wednesday. We have a day off on the third Wednesday of the month. In the second half of my 60's I am the second youngest. Our oldest is 91. These are very active women and I love being around them. 

This is the fountain in the  middle of the square.
We meet at Salamanca. Salamanca is an old section of Hobart in the Battery Point area. I won't say much about it because Google can tell you more about it than I ever could. I consider Google a good friend.

It was a very sunny day. After all of the rain we have had, including the worst floods in the north of the state in more than a century, the sunshine seemed a welcome relief. The floods were terrible with three people being swept to their deaths as they went about their work or tried to rescue their livestock. 

I thought I would share the area with you that is behind Salamanca. It was developed into a square several years ago and there are two book shops in the area.  One is a new book shop of which I don't shop in. I have heard the woman who works there make fun of customers and what they read. I left when I saw the eye rolling and what she said and have not bought a book from them since. How dare she judge what people read. I hate that. I am happy they are reading. Sometimes people get a little bit too trendy for their own good and this is a very trendy shop. She even wears a very trendy geometrical hair style ( claws)   She needs to drop her boots as she has become too big for them.
Deja Vu book shop

Inside one of the market alcoves there is a wonderful secondhand bookshop that has been there for several years. It is called Deja Vu. (They don't use computers so you can't visit it online.)
There is a good selection of Penguins but the prices are generally more than I will pay for them. However they are in very good condition and are lovely. Once in awhile if I find a hard to get vintage Penguins I will get one. After all you can read these books, not just collect them.

Our writing sessions have grammar nazis in it. I learn so much about the grammar taught to these older women when they were in school in the 1930's and 40's. Wow, they knew their grammar.  They can spot a split infinitive a mile away but of course that isn't such a crime nowadays. 

Our group has a topic each week that is optional. One lady is writing her memoirs of growing up in Holland and teaching school. She regularly updates us with her latest piece. Another lady, her sister who had tragedy in her life only writes about pleasant things now. She does not want to visit the past.

Someone else is writing a mystery. She loves all things crime history, horror and dark events. The discussions often become quite philosophical. 
View of the square from the other end. Upstairs are ritzy apartments.
Downstairs are all of the coffee shops.  The sun is quite low in late
afternoon as it is winter here.

We recently wrote on the topic of children. Two of us are childless by choice. The others are not and dote on their grandchildren now. That was an interesting discussion.  One woman who has children wishes his life was cut short.  If she had known how depressed and unhappy he would have been she would not have had him.  Topics come out of left field much of the time. I love the perspectives of the older women. I love their integrity, kindness and devotion to whatever they are doing at the time. They are the best role models I have ever had in my life. 

Grizzy waiting for me to begin my new book last night.
He likes to watch me read.
After the group meets we adjourn to one of the coffee shops in the square to continue our discussions.  Then we are not focused too much on the form and content of the writing but the discussion of the philosophy behind it. When the sun is out we sit outdoors and enjoy watching people enjoy the central fountain.  When it is cold we go inside and ask the management to please turn down the music as many are hearing impaired and cannot hear the conversation when it is on. The owners do so happily. It is very beautiful in the square.  I always go home buoyed and look forward to getting back to my desk.  

As an older person myself I love the stimulation to my brain. I need all the help I can get on some days. I am sure some of you understand.  What do you do to stimulate your brains, besides reading of course. 

My next post will tell you about the book Grizzy and I began last night. We are really enjoying it.

The penguin has a night cap. I have a night cat.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Say Hello to the New Format Penguin

Good evening, (as Alfred Hitchcock used to say)

I am shaking off the old blog and beginning anew with something more up to date, fresher and a bit more motivating. I have been blogging here for several years now and as I enjoy it I needed to reassess as I felt I was getting stale.

Life changes over the years and once my beloved dog Wally passed on, I thought it was time for me to move on (not pass on just yet).

I will still collect and talk about my vintage Penguin books.  I will also bring this so called diary more into line with daily or weekly events.

I am spending a lot of time with photographic studies. I am learning the intricacies of my new Canon 5D Mark III, participating in the Hobart Photographic challenges each month and have spent several months learning Photoshop. My brain has been stretched further than ever since I retired and I do love it.

On Tuesday afternoons I enjoy the Play Reading Class at U3A (University of the Third Age). On Wednesday's I participate in the Hobart Domain Writer's Group. We are a small group of little old ladies really who enjoy each other's company and love critiquing each other's writing. Forget that some of us ride motorbikes or go out dancing.

One day a week is set aside for motorbike riding with the Ulysses club but that is a bit slow now as we are into winter. We have had a lot of rain, wind and penguin weather so some activities are on a bit of a hiatus.

Wildlife Rescuing for Bonorong Park still occurs and only the other day I stopped to check the pouch of a dead wallaby on the road but luckily it was empty. I was on my way to the book group.

I am in two book groups. One I attend religiously and the other I attend when I happen to read the book and feel the need to discuss it.

I still hunt and give talks to community groups about the history of Penguin books when asked but I am happy to say that has slowed down too with the coming of winter.

I am publicity officer for the Rosny Senior's group, a group of seniors who meet for a dinner meeting once a month and advocate for the rights of seniors to legislators, go to plays and socialise a bit.

Life is very full and Mr. Penguin and I enjoy life in our small home with our two dogs, Odie and Molly (nickname Monkey as she climbs all over us) and our three cats.. Uncle Buck our rescued brain damaged cat, Cousin Eddie our little bully and Grizzy the new kid on the block.

From now on this blog will have a focus on books and travel but travel may be as long as a trip overseas or a trip to the local market.

I am looking to capture the life of a bibliophile in the small state of Tasmania in the large country of Australia.

I will participate in its life more often as I write about our activities, laughs, reads and journeys. I hope you stay on for the ride.

All the best from the Penguin and me.