Thursday, October 29, 2009

too many books!

so it is november new releases and work is fairly manic (exacerbated by me getting distracted and standing over a pile of unreceived, unpriced books and reading). but at home it is just as bad.

<-- this is the pile of books on top of my bookshelf, most of which are still to read. here's a selection: liar, by justine larbalestier. i've started it, it's fantastic, but i keep getting distracted.
the left hand of god, by paul hoffman. our penguin rep is on my back to finish this one. i'm prob just over halfway through it and it is solid adventure/fantasy/religious zealot tale. good.
ember fury, by cathy brett. we're doing this one for my teen bookclub and IT IS ACE. for young teens, with text and illustrations (sometimes together, really clever).
dreaming of amelia, jaclyn moriarty. i just started this yesterday and it's classic jaclyn - up there with finding cassie crazy and the spellbook of listen taylor.
wonderland, joanna nadin - great cover, great blurb. looks great - will report back.

and more and more. hopefully this pile won't topple over anytime soon. or if anyone knows a good place to buy a nice bookshelf? i'm heading down to geelong on monday, so i think it's time for a trip to the mill markets. i'm sure to find something awesome there...maybe a new bookshelf...

Friday, October 23, 2009

oscar wilde's tomb

i took these photos at the pere lachaise cemetery in paris, 2006. i went back and visited oscar again in 2008. (he hadn't changed)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

cemetery gates

"a dreaded sunny day
so let's go where we're happy
and i'll meet you at the cemetery gates
keats and yeats are on your side
while wilde is on mine" - the smiths ('cemetery gates' from the queen is dead)

i've just finished the picture of dorian gray, by the remarkable oscar wilde. it took me two weeks of dipping in and out of it, which is a very long time for me. it just felt like i couldn't read when i couldn't give the book my absolute full attention.

now that i'm thinking about it, i wonder if my two week dorian gray reading has something to do with the fact that i've barely listened to anything but the smiths? i'm sure morrissey is a wilde fan.

but back to dorian. narcissistic, vain, young and beautiful. basil, dorian's artist friend, is infatuated with the younger man, practically worships him for his innocent beauty. he paints a magnificent portrait of him, into which he instills all his love and admiration. the perfection of his painting frightens dorian - he wishes wildly that the painting would age rather than himself. basil's friend, the cad, lord harry, introduces dorian to the benefits of being young and beautiful; he lures dorian into an indulgent and hedonistic world. dorian's wish to remain young and beautiful causes his portrait to bear the brunt of dorian's wrong doing, his evil side.

but enough of the plot. it goes on, in its ugliness and terrifying twists and turns. there are many pages of reflection and monologues which explore the big questions of life and death and love. there's great social commentary and a dark and intriguing look at london's underbelly, circa 1890s. i loved it. and what an ending! it almost took my breath away and i spent a few minutes just looking at the book, sort of patting it with affection and appreciation.

i have always loved the idea of oscar wilde, have read an ideal husband and the importance of being earnest and thought that his personal story would make wonderful fiction - the scandal of his sexuality, his imprisonment, his years in paris and finally his death: "either that wallpaper goes, or i do."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the east brunswick project

i've been meaning to rave about this place for a while now, but could never remember what it is called. because i'm a bit of a cafe-hopper, it is really exciting that they are popping up all over the place near where i live. this one in particular serves what is probably the best coffee around.

the east brunswick project has a kind of minimalist, pared back feel. a gigantic coffee roaster and grinder sits in its own glassed-off room and looks beautiful. i think they must run coffee courses and you can buy all manner of machines, doo-dads and thingummybobs.

and it smells so beautiful. you can buy beans; a range of fancy fair trade ones. and the baristas are phenomenal. i know i am a melbourne wanker for saying that, but i love love love their coffees. we'll be walking down the street with our takeaway bonsoy lattes or cappuccinos and just say to each other, kind of breathlessly, "this is the best coffee..."

Friday, October 16, 2009


huzzah huzzah! i have just finished the delight that is the fourth luxe book, by anna godbersen.

the final installment; splendour, my crick-crack-rock-chick best friend and my funky future librarian coworker will be pleased to know, is just as fabulous as the first three, with gossip, gowns and scandal galore with some beautifully romantic storylines.

but hush! i won't say anymore until the book is released and more people have had a chance to read it.

coffee the italian way

i went to mario's on brunswick street not so long ago for an informal (tho i was so nervous!) meeting of sorts. it's a delightful place to go with fancy tablecloths and waiters dressed in black and white. i was disappointed that they didn't have either skinny or soy milk (my stomach doesn't love the heavy dairy you see) so i orderd a long black which came with a charming smile. it was like being back in europe (minus the smile). the coffee was bitter, but i could have been sitting at the counter in paris at la mascotte, so it was sweet too. but it made my head spin and my hands shake.
i can't decide if these are good things or bad things. i'll go back and try it again some time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

spotlight on my favourites: steven herrick

i have loved every book steven's written, and can't wait for another one. perhaps some time i'll review them all, but for now - my three favourites:

the simple gift (UQP)

told in steven's perfect, poignant free verse, this is the story of 16 year old billy who has escaped his father's house, jumped a train and ended up living in a disused railway carriage, a neighbour to old bill, an alcoholic hobo with a sad past. he spends his days at the public library getting a better education than he ever got at school and passes his nights eating people's leftovers at macdonalds. there he meets caitlin, who works there. caitlin, who is looking for something more than her safe, priviliged life. billy is a beautiful character in this spectacular book about what we need to make us happy, about the small things in life, about friendship and love. it is honestly one of the best books i have ever read.

love, ghosts and nose hair (UQP)

jack is also sixteen. he lives with his father and his sister, spending his time thinking about love (and sex and annabelle), ghosts (his mother, in a red dress) and nose hair (he's paranoid). this is a beautiful verse novel about family and loss, but it is also very funny and touching.

a place like this (UQP)

a companion novel, or sequel, to LGaNH - this is what happens when jack and annabelle finish school and decide to take off for a while. they find themselves working in an apple orchard for a bruised-but-not-broken family. without meaning to j and a become involved in the family's life - constantly cheery, chatty craig who wants to know what j and a do in their shed at night (!!), beck who vomited on the table the night before their mum left, fifteen year old emma, who got pregnant after a party at which she drank too much and passed out...and their dad who is just trying to keep them all going. beautiful.

oh. and i have to mention the hilarious do-wrong ron (allen &unwin)
it's about a boy and his pet guinea pig and friendship, a girl and her guinea pig. laugh out loud funny, with some really touching moments.
i don't know how steven does it, he truly has a magic touch. being able to say so much in so little space, his prose taut and precise, haunting and magic, simple and yet so sophisticated. i've tried to write free verse in the past, and it comes out sounding like i'm just trying to be steven. he's that good he owns the genre.
five stars. always.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

spotting aussie books abroad

i travelled a bit last year, just a short ten week trip around the world, you know, just for fun.

because i can't not go into a bookshop wherever i am, i kept my eyes peeled for any familar faces, as it were. i found lots! so here are the ones i photographed. not that it matters, but they are not in the order in which i saw them.

here's barry jonsberg's kiffo and the pitbull and it's not all about you calma...but with their american covers and titles. as they are known there: the crimes and punishments of miss payne and am i right or am i right? this was taken in new york at a big, messy, noisy bookstore on broadway (i think).

at the same bookstore i saw joanne horniman's fabulous mahalia, with a great cover (have to say i didn't love the jonsberg ones...).

at waterstones on high street, kensington in london i saw on the new releases table tim winton's breath and michelle de kretser's the lost dog.

in the children's section of the same waterstones i found my fave aussie teen series, tomorrow when the war began. (on a side note i am v excited about the upcoming movie, even though i have serious doubts about the casting).

this was my favourite! in a little bookstore in mitte, berlin, i found markus zusak's incredible, fabulous, wonderful the messenger...or der joker! unglaublich, fabelhaft, wunderbar!

while on my trip i read jeffrey eugenides middlesex, jane austen's persuasion (which i read probably four or five times after i stupidly went to morocco for two weeks with just this one book), spanking shakespeare by jake wizner, an abundance of katherines by john green...and surely more things as well. probably a murakami, i think i read hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world. i know i read my morocco travel guide and the one for central europe pretty much cover-to-cover on those nights stuck in the hotel in morocco (not so safe for a girl travelling alone at night there).

but there is something great about reading while travelling. you remember the books and the stories within them for strange and different reasons, sometimes. and persuasion was great because i had just been to dorset for my friend's wedding and we'd walked on the cob at lyme regis...i felt very austen there.

Friday, October 2, 2009

new releases - october

very exciting stuff! many new books! too much work to do!

but it's all good, and i'll have plenty to read and report back on. and for anyone (cough*jenny*cough) waiting for the knife of never letting go in paperback. it's here!