Sunday, 31 August 2014

Five New Penguins and One Revisited

Today I went to the Red Cross book shop which has the best bargains in town. It is a wonderful book shop and many people use it.  It has great turnover and my South Hobart friend Brian has made it his mission to visit the shop twice a week looking for Penguins for me and Zane Grey books for him.

Penguin No. 2408 Lovely cover
When I went in to the shop today there was Brian sitting comfortably in a chair discussing books and movies with the elderly ladies that volunteer in the shop.

He is quite funny as I hear him say, " No she won't want that one, it has the ISBN on the spine. Just the ones with the numbers."  He makes me laugh as he is a real scrounger.

I am sure if he ever invited me into his home I'd find he's close to being a hoarder if he isn't already. He tends to visit our house once a week for a cup of coffee and a chat about his beloved 40's movies and western and war books.  He'll bring me a Penguin and say, "Do you have this one?"  I always tell him "No" and he says with a big grin on his face, "Well you do now.."

He has come up with heaps of Penguins, many of which I have. I put those into a box and when I get enough, take them to auction. With the money I get at auction I buy him Humphrey Bogart and Mickey Rooney movies and Zane Grey westerns.  It is really quite funny.

But now and again he comes up with the winners, the ones I don't have yet.
Both of us get enormous pleasure from the Penguin hunt.  He is getting very good now at finding the series Penguins published before 1970.  At first he was bringing me everything Penguin ever published.  I had to put a stop to that.

When I left the shop I was just getting my helmet on to get on my bike and Brian came running out of the shop. Now he is 78 and overweight so it was a sight.  He was waving a cerise Penguin in the air above his head. "Do you have this one?  We just found it."  I do have it but I said, "No a pink Penguin, a great find and gave him the two dollar coin to go back in and pay for it." "Well you do now" he said. Big smile on his face he took the 2 dollar coin back into the shop, a job well done.  It really is heartwarming, the things that give us joy.

 So here is the loot from today with Brian, the Red Cross lady and myself all searching out Penguins.

Cerise Penguin- I have it so will turn it into a Humphrey Bogard DVD for Brian

Penguin 2391 Not heard of this author. Love the cover.

Reading the back of this Penguin, No 2389 made me laugh. His books are always funny.

A Victorian novel written by an author I have not heard of either. No. 1569

This may have been Find of the Day. A Penguin Handbook No. PH 29- 1957

Friday, 29 August 2014

A Springtime Walk in Winter

This week has seen amazingly warm temperatures in Hobart. After some Penguin hunting in town (will share that bounty soon) I came home on the scooter and took two of my dogs for a walk.  Everything seems to have bloomed overnight so I headed out with the dogs and camera in search of colourful flowers. So here is that walk up my road for those of you who have not been on Strickland Avenue before.
The wattle trees are in bloom.

I leaned over to look at the tiny blue flowers and Odie and Molly decided they needed to look too.

Daffodils were everywhere.

Little blue flowers were coming out under this tree.

Even the honey bees were out. Nice to see them.

The colours of these bottlebrush are beautiful. The honey eating birds like these.

Australian plants are so interesting. I'd like one of these bushes.

Lots of these trees everywhere but the sun shining on it made it particularly gorgeous.

These little ponies are a new addition to the neighbourhood. I haven't seen them before. They were very interested in us.

I don't know the name of these but they sure are a lovely blue.

These are in our front yard. They mark where the ashes of our last generation of pets rest.

Our humble home. All our money goes into my book collection. Ha ha

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Four Out of Five from Library Loot Read Now

Three posts back I described going to the library and picking up five of the thinnest books I could find, checking them out and reading them in the three week allotted time period.  I wanted to break the reading slump I was in of reading part of a book then tossing it aside as I just could not get into it or lost interest.

Well I must say this trick worked.  I have now read four of the five books and so far pretty much enjoyed them.  Today I am going to talk about two of them.

The first is the Zadie Smith book The Embassy of Cambodia.  It is almost as short (69 pages) as a short story however it just doesn't fit that mould at all.

The Embassy of Cambodia is a short book of the haves and the have nots of English society.  Fatou is a domestic servant for the Derawel family in the town of Willesden.

Fatou sneaks out of the house everyday to go to the local swimming pool using the guest passes she finds in a drawer at the family's house. She walks past the Embassy of Cambodia in this residential neighbourhood and often wonders what goes on behind the tall walls. Often she knows there is a badminton game happening, other times she can only wonder.

Her main experience with life at this point in her life is the walk, the people she meets, the neighbourhood between the home she lives and works in and the swimming pool several blocks away.

The little book is about her simple, limited life and the futility of not being one of the wealthier people.  She is an integral part of the Derawel's family but you wouldn't know it to speak to them. She is truly under appreciated.
I truly felt for this girl and wanted much for her. By the ending which comes quite quickly she may be moving in an entirely different direction.  I didn't believe this was a strong story, I think it would have been better to have been turned into a proper novel because the character of Fatou had more dimensions to her than were fleshed out.

I would have liked to have known more of her past and of course her future. Seems it was just starting to take off when the ending came but I would still recommend reading this if you want something short and sweet to take up some time.

Except from The Embassy of Cambodia:
"When the Embassy of Cambodia first appeared in our midst, a few years ago, some of us said, "Well if we were poets perhaps we could have written some sort of an ode about this surprising appearance of the embassy.' (For embassies are usually to be found in the centre of the city. This was the first one we had seen in the suburbs.) But we are not really a poetic people. We are from Willesden. Our minds tend towards the prosaic. I doubt there is a man or woman among us, for example who - upon passing the Embassy of Cambodia for the first time- did not immediately think: 'genocide". 

The next book that I really enjoyed was the Quantum of Tweed by Conn Iggulden.  I really dislike the cover of this book and I don't feel it does the story any good at all.
Evidently Conn Iggulden is a successful author of historical fiction writing. He has done a series on Julius Caesar and on the Mongol  Khans of Central Asia. This is a completely different direction for him. Another short book at only 74 pages this book has by far been the best of the four I picked up.

It absolutely worked for me with a distinctive beginning, an interesting middle and an end that worked very well.

Albert Rossi is a tailor of a men's shop that has become quite boring to run. He is driving in the city one day when he accidentally hits a man in the street  who runs out in front of him.  As he gets out of his car and checks him someone comes up from behind and puts a gun to him. It turns out the man he hit was the target of a hired assassin and Albert in killing him with his car did the man a favour. The hired assassin tells him to get in his car and take off. However Albert is so nervous he doesn't back up the car to leave but instead hits the accelerator, hitting the second man and what he thinks, killing him. His mobile phone flies out of his hand. Albert jumps back out of the car, grabs the phone and his number plate to the car that has fallen off and takes off.

Later the mobile phone rings, Albert answers it and is told where to pick up "the rest of his money" now the targeted man has died.

Albert decides to take up the role as  he finds the excitement rather hard to ignore and when a call comes through telling him where the money has been left he picks it up.

He has a real experience when he not only succeeds at this job but then takes another one. Will he take another job as he finds out he is really quite good at this?  Will the policeman who spies him and has a " feeling" about him thwart his plans? This was a really quick read, I enjoyed it quite a bit and couldn't but help laughing at the predicament he gets himself in.  This is a great little self contained book in such a short style and it just seems to work. At least I thought so.  I enjoyed both of these books and am now looking forward to reading something with a bit more substance.

I have not yet read the fifth book yet and don't know if I will. I think four out of five is a good number and now I'd like to get stuck into some of my own books on the shelves so I can move them on.  I really do have far too many books but I love going into the front bedroom and gazing at the shelves and seeing them all there, mainly unread and knowing the adventures that are waiting there.

In the past two weeks I have experienced being a hired assassin, a domestic servant in England, locked up in a Thai prison and a woman who has lost her finances due her husband's unemployment with a rich friend coming to visit.

I think after all of that I need a good sit down and a cup of tea.  I wonder what experiences will come up in the next books I climb into.

What do you do when you get into a reading slump??

Excerpt from Quantum of Tweed:
This is the description just after he has hit the first man.

"In the stunned moment that followed, Albert swallowed nervously. With trembling hands, he turned off the radio-rather than have a Bonnie Tyler belt her way through a chorus that could only be slightly sinister in the circumstances. The silence was eerie. The sort of silence that is interrupted by a dead man sliding into view can never be the 'nuns in a reading room' kind. "Eerie" is very much it for the slight squeak of a size nine brogue on your windshield. It did not help that Albert recognised the brand of socks as one he had marked down to 40 percent of its full price."