From the Bookshelf of the Damned: A Haiku of Frustration…

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I’m in the middle of a good-book drought.

For those lucky individuals who have never experienced such a thing, a good-book drought consists of a reasonably prolonged period of time in which one is seemingly unable to produce warm, accepting and genuinely affectionate feelings towards any book one attempts to read. 

Whilst mired in a good-book drought one may engage in such anti-bookish behaviours as repeatedly abandoning books without finishing them, reacting with excessive nit-picking or criticism to writing styles, plot devices and dialogue sequences that previously caused only mild discomfort, and nervous hand-wringing brought on by a gradual diminishing of hope that one will ever again be blessed with a fantastic and instantly loved read.

I suspect that the good-book drought is a temporary form of mild karmic imbalance brought on by past book-related misdeeds, such as dog-earing library books, using paperbacks as coasters and allowing food crumbs to be smushed between pages while reading.  Whatever the cause, it is a spectacularly frustrating experience.

Rather than continue to spend my time half-heartedly thumbing through, and then discarding, any more potentially great but currently not-cutting-it books, I have decided to create a frustration-based haiku in the hope that my reading karma will take a more positive turn.

evil flatpack 

 

Bookish kara-te

Oh! To feel the sweet caress

of new-loved pages

 

So, fellow travellers in the blogosphere, I hope that your book-droughts grow ever shorter or are at least broken by regular monsoonal activity that produces refreshing reading.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

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Atlantis Re-imagined: What’s in a Name Challenge

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It’s okay people, you can stop the phone calls to the Missing Persons (Creatures?) Department – I’m back! My recent absence (that you all noticed and pined over) was due to some difficulties with our interwebs connection. The fleshfolk who dwell here have finally sorted it out and I’m ready for a posting frenzy, beginning with Obstacle Number … something or other … in the What’s In a Name Reading Challenge: Surface Tension by Meg McKinlay!

surface tension

Taken from the: Non-Christie Listie (as a last-minute ring in )

Category: One – A book with Up or Down or its equivalent in the title.

“But Bruce!” I hear you interject, “That title doesn’t bear any relation to up or down or its equivalent!”

Ah yes. On the surface (pun intended), it would appear that this book has no up or down connection….but delve a little deeper (pun intended) and you will note that this tome has been recently re-released under the title….BELOW! Take that, category one!

below

Surface Tension (or Below) follows the story of Cassie – a young lass who was born on the day her family’s town was drowned.  Since Lower Grange was flooded after the creation of a dam in the area, Cassie, her friend Liam, and all the other residents have resumed their lives in the higher and drier New Lower Grange.  During summer holidays, Cassie and Liam take to swimming in the not-commonly-frequented side of the lake above Lower Grange and stumble upon a secret hidden away with the fish and lake-weed in the old town.

This Book’s Point of Difference:

McKinlay has created a refreshing take on the sense of mystery and adventure evoked by the image of a city hidden beneath the water – it’s a great premise and a nice change from the usual middle grade/YA fare around at the moment.

Pros:

– It’s a reasonably quick read but there is enough for middle readers and younger teens to get their teeth into

– The secret discovered by the kids is kept nicely hidden through the use of a few well placed red-herrings. It was a surprise for me – which was great, because two-thirds of the way through I thought (rather disappointedly) I’d figured it out. I hadn’t.

– It’s got that classic summer holidays feeling.

Cons:

– I can’t really think of any. It was certainly the book I’ve most enjoyed out of the last ten or so I’ve picked up.

This is a really well constructed little read and delivers just what you’re looking for if you’re after something light but a little bit different from the standard fantasy or friendship fare.

Ahhhh. It’s good to be back. Stay tuned for more Reader’s Challenge fare shortly, as well as a frustration-related Haiku and dates and themes for subsequent Fiction in 50s.

Until next time,

Bruce

Monstrously Awesome: Goodies for those who type…

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Be you blogger, author or internet troll, have I got a find for you! Given that it’s winter round my neck of the shelf, I thought it was high time to consider the very real problem of typing-related hand-chilliness.  While pondering ways to overcome this issue, I came across two fantastically fashionable solutions…..

Looking for ways to brighten up the unending toil that is writing (or reading) an epic fantasy novel? Look no further than these stylish dragon or monster knitted fingerless gloves by HotScones, available at etsy.com:

And while these next ones aren’t fingerless – perhaps more suited to readers rather than typists – the little grizzly faces are just darling!
image

 

 

Next up from Scoper Monstar and also available at etsy.com are these absolute gems for the more flamboyant icy-fingered literacy fan.  This first offering is perfect for the out-there author of that ground-breaking book exposing bet-fixing scandals in miniature goat racing – fingerless hooves!

 

image

And for the fan of horror or the late-night reader of Where the Wild Things Are, who could go past these fantastic monster paws (available in a wide range of colours!)?:
image

Both of these provide snuggly warmth to your hands while allowing your fingers to get on with the business of doin’ stuff!

Click on the pictures above to be taken straight to the etsy shops of these fine craftspeople!

Until next time, may your every paw be cosy!

Bruce

 

 

 

Fiction in 50: Dystopia!

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Evening all – I am excited to be presenting you today with the very first instalment of my new (although not very original) feature: FICTION IN 50! Cue rousing orchestral music! I apologise for not having whipped up a cute little meme image to go with it, but rest assured this will eventuate…eventually.

Fiction in 50 will be a semi-regular feature requiring participants (comprising, at this stage, of just me) to create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less.  I think this is what people refer to as “flash fiction”.

For this inaugural fiction-flashing I have selected “Dystopia” as my theme.  This piece is set in a reasonably distant Australia, and features a main character who, after having been cryogenically frozen at some point in the past, has recently been cured, defrosted and released into the world at large.

***There are some specific cultural references included in the following story, so for those unfamiliar with the foodstuffs mentioned, I have included some contextual information sourced from Professor Wikipedia. Click on the images below for information***

879489-vegemiteProduct_Images_550x364_milotim tams

Without further ado, I give you….

Travels in Dystopi-Oz

Ravenous with thawing, seeking nostalgic snacks, I entered the supermarket.

“I’m after Vegemite?”

“Sorry – there’s been none since the company collapsed in 2032.”

“Oh.  Sorry.  I’m newly defrosted… Milo then.”

“Not since ’36.”

“Ah.  Tim Tams?”

“Um….”

Grief battled with confusion, as I emerged, snack-less, into some brave new world.

 

If anyone else wants to join in and pop out their own Dystopian themed Fiction in 50, you would be more than welcome – chuck it in the comments below or do your own post and link back here!  If enough people want to participate I’ll set a regular time and set up some form of linking device…otherwise it’ll just be little ol’ me….

Until next time – yours in new ventures!

Bruce

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Feature Travel

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toptentuesday

Today I’m indulging in one of my rare forays into communal blog posting, by participating in The Broke and the Bookish’s very popular (and discussion-inducing) TTT feature.  This week’s topic is…

my TOP TEN BOOKS THAT FEATURE TRAVEL IN SOME WAY!

I’ve divided my picks into categories for ease of perusal…

PICTURE BOOKS

possum magicThe quintessential travel guide to Australia for foodies and animal lovers alike!

are we there yet

Another award winning Australian picture book – this one features a family’s journey around the continent, with fantastic illustrations and great bite-size information about well-known (and not so well known!) Australian landmarks.

oh the places youll go

With brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose! Just watch your step so you don’t end up in a slump.

MIDDLE READERS/YOUNG ADULT FICTION

magician's nephew

Ah, the first (and my favourite) instalment in the Chronicles of Narnia, this tome has travel by magic ring, out-of-control-hansom-cab and flying horse…what more could one ask for?

attica

I came upon this book unexpectedly in the time before blogging and it has now become one of my absolute favourite books in the Narnian theme – that is, travel to another world through some sort of household orifice…in this case through the attic of a terraced house.  I’m not a die-hard fan of Garry Kilworth by any means, but this is a deeply engaging read that is perfect for independent readers in the pre-teen/early teen age bracket.

ultraviolet

Another unexpected favourite of mine – this one springs the travel theme on the reader about two thirds through the book.  I won’t say where or how the travel occurs because it was a great surprise to me when I first read it…but it’s unexpected, to say the least.  Incidentally the book deals with a teenage girl’s time in a psychiatric facility dealing with her suspected involvement in the disappearance of a classmate. Oh, and she’s also a sinaesthete.

sabriel

This modern fantasy tale sucked me back into reading many years ago after a reasonable period in which I had neither the energy nor the inclination to pick up a book.  Also the start of a great trilogy, it features cross country ski travel, enchanted paper plane travel, long-time-in-a-leaky-boat travel, wading-into-Death travel and the added accompaniment of quick-let’s-get-out-of-here, running-away-from-shuffling-hordes travel.

BOOKS FOR BIG PEOPLE

mrs queen

Imagine if you will, the Queen (yes, old ER herself!), wrapping up in a hoodie and taking off on the train.  Delightful, charming and oh-so-British.

call of the weird

I love Louis. And this book sees him travelling all around the US in search of those who practice…alternative lifestyles…of one sort or another.

andthentherewasnone

Ten people travel to an inaccessible island at the behest of a mysterious stranger. Nope, nothing could possibly go wrong.

Feel free to let me know what you think – and what I’ve missed!

Until next time,

Bruce