27 October, 2012


Just a reminder that from today until October 31, Hellfire and Damnation II is available FREE via Amazon for Kindle!

Get over there and grab it now - I dare you!


25 October, 2012

The Rise of the Fifth Estate

Title: The Rise of the Fifth Estate
Author: Greg Jericho
Genre: Non Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - Library

From Goodreads: The Rise of the Fifth Estate is the first book to examine the emergence of social media as a new force in the coverage of Australian politics.

Using original research, Greg Jericho reveals who makes up the Australian political blogosphere, and tackles head-on some of its key developments — the way that Australia's journalists and federal politicians use social media and digital news, the motivations of bloggers and tweeters, the treatment of female participants, and the eruption of Twitter wars.
The mainstream media's reaction to all this tends to be defensive and dismissive. As Jericho found to his own cost when he was outed by The Australian as the blogger Grog's Gamut, hell hath no fury like a criticised newspaper. And although journalists welcome Twitter as a work tool and platform, they have to deal with vitriolic online comments, and face competition from bloggers who are experts in their fields and who, for the most part, write for free.

What I thought: Yet another "heard it on the radio" book. Thank goodness for public libraries is all I can say!
So lets be unfront to start with - in terms of politics I am definitely left wing. In fact I think if I got much further left I would end up back where I started - I blame my mother and her strong socialist leanings.
I also have a fairly healthy interest in politics. My most common soap box topic at the moment is how it seems Australians don't actually seem to get how lucky they are to able to vote, to voice an opinion and to feel safe why they do so. The level of apathy about politics - about the system that affords us this life we seem to feel is our right - astounds me.
I was thrilled to find a book which could point me in the direction online of others who are interested in politics in this country. Not only interested but write about it, analysis it, discuss it, but not from the point of view of the mainsteam media (MSM). Jericho is not a journalist - doesn't say he is, in fact emphatically denies it, and he doesn't want to be. But he is intelligent and thoughtful and provides great insight into how blogging and social media is helping to shape the MSM, even though areas of it are fighting it all the way.
Gone are the days of journalists being the gate keeper of information and opinion. Today anyone can voice their thoughts and call governments to account for what they do. Twitter in particular is becoming an excellent way to break news and tap into dialogue about the days events.
Jericho admits there are issues around blogging and tweeting, but as he points out, they are here to stay no matter what your more traditional areas of the media wish.
Rise of the Fifth Estate was a bit dry in areas - I'm not a big fan of stats-  but Jericho's ability to relate personal experience in the social media world and his thoughtful analysis of how politicians and MSM are viewing and using social media gave me a great insight into what a valuable tool social media can be and reassured me I am not alone in wanting a wide variety of places to get my information from. Well worth the read for anyone who is looking for a way to access political coverage outside the MSM.

You can find Greg Jericho's blog, Grog's Gamut here.

Challenges: Australian authors

22 October, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What am I reading now.

The Rise of the Fifth Estate - Greg Jericho
Another one I heard about on the radio first, although I can't remember which program. A bit dry in bits, but on the whole very interesting, especially in the wake of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech last week which attacked the opposition leader for being a misogynist - an event which was covered widely online and not so much in the main stream media. 

What I've  Read In The Last Week.

Bit of a non fiction week this week!

Gone Viral - Frank Bowden

A Private Life - Michael Kirby

Get Well Soon - Kristy Chambers

What's next?

Hmmm, not sure, although I think it will be fiction! Most probably Various Positions
since it's due back at the library soon!

What are you reading this week? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

20 October, 2012

Get well soon

Title: Get Well Soon! My (un)Brilliant Career as a Nurse
Author: Kristy Chambers
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - Library

From Goodreads: Falling into the nursing profession, Kristy Chambers spent almost a decade working with a wide range of people, ranging from drug addicts to cancer patients. Dark, humorous, honest, and compassionate, this memoir illustrates the incredible work nurses do and the many challenges they face. A tribute to the wonderfully brave people Chambers met during her career, this book portrays both joyous and difficult experiences.

What I thought: Yet another book I discovered through Richard Fidler's excellent radio program called The Conversation Hour. You can access the audio of the interview here.
I know it's most probably completely politically incorrect to find a book about sick people funny, but this was! Kristy Chambers takes us through her pre graduate placements and her first ward placements, giving us a warts and all view of nursing. It was funny from the first, and very refreshing! Chambers had no great calling to nursing. In fact it came down to choosing between it and teaching and she decided 
 sick people trumped teenagers.
 If your looking for sympathetic, overly concerned politically correct stories about the sick and dying - wrong book!  Chambers is brutally honest about everything including hating some of her patients (the trick is to hide it) and finding body fluids stomach churning and not really her cup of tea. In fact, I can imagine some people being offended by the off hand way she talks about some diseases.

And even though though throwing up was definitely not my idea of a good time, the bulimic at least got to have a bit of fun first, eating everything before they did whatever ugly, cut-throat shit was necessary to get rid of it. I thought I would choose their tribe if pushed.  Chapter 1 Anorexiaville p.9

And then she shows you a side that made you realise she did care about her patients and sympathised with them.

So I had some of the same hang-ups, perhaps, but luckily, I fell far short of the extreme examples before me. It was not inevitable that I would have early onset osteoporosis, or be rendered infertile. ...I didn't have hard calluses on the back of my hands from shoving them down my throat 50 times a day, from throwing up water, and I didn't want to disappear. These girls were winning at losing, dying right in front of your eyes. Chapter 1 Anorexiaville p.12

In fact the tone of the book reminded me of the way as a teacher we would speak about kids in the staffroom on a Friday afternoon after a hard week. You'd say things you would never, ever say outside the staffroom, using words you would never, ever say normally (stupid, idiot, little shit) , but also needing to debrief. I would assume a lot of what Chambers says is the same that nursing stuff say all the time in the safety of a staffroom, knowing what's said in the staffroom, stays in the staffroom.
Chambers makes no apologies for her attitude, although she does make sure the reader knows that a lot of what she says in her head is never heard by the patient. What they see and hear is a professional nurse whose job is to care for them, clean them up and hold their hand - no matter how rude and terrible they are to her.

Get Well Soon is what I imagine nursing to be like - warts and all. I would suggest NOT eating while reading it, but would completely recommend it to anyone who wants to know what nursing is really like.

Challenges: Australian authors

19 October, 2012

A Private Life

Title: A Private Life: Fragments, Memories, Friends
Author: Michael Kirby
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle

From Goodreads: Michael Kirby is one of Australia's most admired public figures. At a time of spin and obfuscation, he speaks out passionately and straightforwardly on the issues that are important to him. Even those who disagree with him have been moved by the courage required of him to come out as a high-profile gay man, which at times has caused him to be subjected to the most outrageous assaults on his character.
This is a collection of reminiscences in which we can discover the private Michael Kirby. It allows the public figure speak in his own voice, without any intermediary. He opens up as never before about his early life, about being gay, about his forty-two year relationship with Johan van Vloten, about his religious beliefs and even about his youthful infatuation with James Dean, which sent him on a sentimental journey to Dean's home town in the year 2000, an adventure he here wryly recalls.
Beautifully written, reflective and generous, in that warm and gently self-deprecating voice that is so characteristic of him, this is a memoir that Michael Kirby's many admirers have been waiting for.


What I thought: This is our book group book for this month and I think we are on a winner! Justice Michael Kirby is a well known and respected name in Australia. As the blurb above says, he is renown for his plain speaking and passion. This memoir is not lineal, instead Kirby has written on things he is passionate and interested in - growing up homosexual in the '50's, AIDS, his beautiful relationship with his long term partner and James Dean! Kirby has this wonderful ability to take an issue and put in terms that make it so obvious the way things should be - he uncomplicates the complicated.

One can intellectully embrace an idea of celibacy as the path that society seemed irrationally to enforce on people like me. But in the midst of the loneliness, the nagging, demands of the body and mind, the heart would urge the spirit to look for what the law, religion and society forbade.

I referred to the archbishop's statement reported in the newspapers that day* and gave my own point of view. The boys looked and listened quietly. I told them to have nothing to do with hate speech -'poofter', 'faggot' - or with gay bashing, bullying and harassment. I suggested that a life of celibacy was not a pratical solution for homosexual people...But those who condem and demand silence in the years of youth must wear the moral burden of the family rejections, suicides and the despair that the world of shame and silence brings.

*The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney had released a statement  condemning the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras [he said] the Church 'teaches that homosexual practices are contrary to the moral law' so that homeosexual people 'are required to exercise self-discipline and avoid such conduct.' They are, he believed, called to a life without sex. The Anglican Archbishop was contacted for comment and endorsed the statement.

One of the things I admire most about Kirby is his unwillingness to compromise his principals. Asked by a Catholic boys school to give a talk on 'judical activism' he explained it was more of a topic for politicians and suggested the alternative of homophobia. The school came back with a suggestion of social justice which Kirby agreed to, making sure they understood he would use social justice as a context for homophobia. But while he was happy to talk on this point, he refused to ambush the school, providing a copy of his talk points to a master at the school so they would be fully aware of the direction he was taking. The talk was a resounding success, the boys asked pertinent and thoughtful questions. Kirby's answers were just as thoughtful and respectful. The majority of parents approved, with several writing letters to thank Kirby for his talk. A similar situation happened with a talk Kirby presented at a Salvation Army Conference.

This is an excellent book for book groups, it's bound to provoke lots of interesting discussion. I'm looking forward to our meeting this month!

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge,  EBook Challenge

18 October, 2012

Gone Viral

Title: Gone Viral 
Author: Frank Bowden
Genre: Non Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - Library

From Goodreads: Featuring 15 infectious diseases—eight bacteria, six viruses, and a parasite—and one friendly fungus, this book explores significant medical themes and highlights the effect micro-organisms have on modern life. Hilarious, informative, yet deeply moving, it discusses each disease while weaving true stories of patients and their families and the difficulties doctors face. Touching upon the swine flu, golden staph, SARS, hepatitis, and HIV, this account teaches crucial lessons about public health and the human experience of disease.

What I thought: Well the first thinkg I would say about this book is don't read it if you have a weak stomach! As an infectious diesease and sexual health specalist, some of Frank Bowden's descriptions are a little off putting to say the least!
I came to this book from a radio interview by Richard Fidler's excellent program called The Conversation Hour. (Australian's may know Fidler as 1/3 of the comedy trio Doug Anthony Allstars.) You can actually access the audio by clicking here.
I love when the way someone talks or is interviewed translates to their writing. Bowden was a very interesting speaker - giving a great mix of facts and anecdotes, with a humerous or thought provoking twist.
Most probably the scareiest thing I found about this book was the level of politicking that goes into getting funding for treatment programs. The eradication was made possible by governments agreeing to vacinate and treat in a wide spread program. There are so many diseases such as Chlamydia and Hepatitis C which are rife, especially in indigenous communities, that could be all but eradicated IF governments were willing to fund extensive comprehensive education, vaccination and treatment programs. While the cost of these programs is not insignificant, the long term savings from on going health care due to the original disease plus it's complications would be significant - to say nothing of the quality of life for many.
On the whole, Frank Bowden takes a subject that could be dry and boring and brings it to life. His balance of scientific information and real life examples gives the reader much to think about, laugh at and learn. Well worth tolerating a few stomach churning descriptions!

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

16 October, 2012

Hellfire and Damnation II - FOR FREE!

  To celebrate Halloween and the release of her book Hellfire and Damnation II, Connie Corcoran Wilson has made it free via Amazon Kindle from October 27 -31!
How cool is that!
And while your waiting for October 27 to grab your free copy, you can pop over to Rhodes Review and J.A.Beard's Unnecessary Musings, who both have stops on the tour today.

15 October, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What am I reading now.

Gone Viral: The germs that share our lives by Frank Bowden
I heard the author of this on a radio program called Conversations with Richard Fidler and immediately wanted to read it. (This happens a lot with this and other ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) programs - I think I need to stop listening!) Word of warning - not for those with weak stomaches! Some of the descriptions are very graphic!

What I've  Read In The Last Week.

Hellfire and Damnation II - Connie Concoran Wilson - actually I read this one awhile ago, but the review has just been posted as part of the book tour for it. You can still enter the competition to win a digital copy just by commenting here!

The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling

The House of Memories - Monica McInerney

What's next?

Still need to get to  A Private Life by Michael Kirby for this months book group. I also have a few library books that need to read and returned

So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

The House of Memories

Title: The House of Memories  
Author: Monica McInerney
Genre: Fiction
 Audience: Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: Sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are those that matter most.
Following a tragic accident, Ella O'Hanlon flees to the other side of the world in an attempt to escape her grief, leaving behind the two people she blames for her loss: Aidan, the love of her life, and Jess, her spoilt half-sister.
In London Ella is taken in by her beloved uncle Lucas, whose extraordinary house holds many wonderful memories for her. Along with other members of the very colourful Fox family, Lucas helps Ella to see that she is not the only one still hurting, and that forgiveness can be the greatest healer in a family and in a marriage.
For anyone who has ever loved and lost, this is an exquisitely moving and life-affirming novel by the internationally bestselling author of Lola's Secret

What I thought:  Monica McInerney is very hit and miss with me - I either love her books or can't get past the first 50 pages. I heard her on the radio this week and made a mental note to check out this one. The next time I walked into my local library, there it was, sitting on the Hot Reads shelf. Hot Reads at my library are books that can't be put on hold and are only a one week loan - see it, grab it, read it, return it!
This one really tugs at your heart strings. It deals with a scenario that is every parents worst nightmare- the loss of a child. I don't know how I would cope if anything happened to my gorgeous kids, but I would like to think I would draw family closer to me, not push them away. Ella pushes.
For me the book worked because it was all from Ella's point of view. Her grief is all consuming and you are immersed in it. You see things only as she sees them, giving you a skewed vision of events and others involved in it. This immersion allows the reader, like Ella, to slowly discover things are not completely as they seem, that the hurt in this situation is not hers alone, or hers to bear alone.
As with any "chick lit" style book, things all work out in the end - lets face it, it's one of the reasons we read books like this - a nice, tidy ending every now and then is good. So despite the emotional subject, it is still a light read. I enjoyed it.

14 October, 2012

Sunday Afternoon

This is how I plan to spend Sunday afternoon on my deck. Does it get any better?

13 October, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle

From Goodreads: When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

What I thought: I was thrilled to recieved my pre ordered copy of this book. I in no way expected it to be another Harry Potter, but one of the things I loved about the Potter books were that they were written by someone who could actually write! I am a big believer in the best idea in the hands of a bad writer will result in a bad book. Potter was not only a brilliant idea, Rowling knows her craft and hooks the reader not just with her ideas, but her ability to bring them to life on the page. And that's what I was looking for here - good writing. I'm a big fan of writers who step outside of what they are known for. Too often I find writers who write one genre get boring, repetative and give me a feeling of haven't-I-read-this-before? So I was excited to find out not only was Rowling stepping away from children's books, but also away from fantasy. I was also terrified! What if she didn't pull it off? What if she wasn't versitle enough to translate her skills? What if I hated it? What I am pleased to say is she did pull it off - and well! The book is no Harry Potter, but then again, for I think Potter may be a once in a life time thing. I don't think she will ever write something so engrossing again (although I will be more than happy to be proved wrong!). But The Casual Vacancy is good. The writing is tight and just as expressive as Potter. Once again her ability to breath life into characters is a real strength - in fact the true strength of this book is it's characters. The Casual Vacancy is a character driven book. The reactions and the emotions of the characters is what keeps you reading. It's real and gritty. The characters are not all likeable, they don't all fall neatly onto the side of good or evil. What they are is believable, flawed, struggling with their own demons and determined to live their lives they way they feel they have a right to. I've heard some people have had issues with the swearing and sex in the book, but I can't see what the fuss is about. It's no worse than you get in a lot of books and the reality is people swear and have sex. It's not out of place and it's not gratuitous, it just is. Having read The Casual Vacancy, I look forward to more adult fiction from Rowling. I believe she is a writer who is here to stay.

 Challenges: Ebook Challenge    


12 October, 2012

BOOK TOUR - Hellfire & Damnation II - AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Welcome back to the Hellfire & Damnation II Virtual Book Tour! Hosted  by 
 Don't forget to comment on this or any other post on my blog for a chance to win a digital copy of the book. Competition is open internationally and closes on the last day of the tour - October 31.
Click on the tour link on the right hand side to see the rest of the tour dates and places.

 Today I have the privilege of sharing an interview with the author of Hellfire & Damnation II - Connie Corcoran Wilson!

About the Author
Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (MS + 30) graduated from the University of Iowa and Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and seven blogs, including Associated Content (now owned by Yahoo) which named her its 2008 Content Producer of the Year . She is an active, voting member of HWA (Horror Writers Association).
Her stories and interviews with writers like David Morrell, Joe Hill, Kurt Vonnegut, Frederik Pohl and Anne Perry have appeared online and in numerous journals. Her work has won prizes from “Whim’s Place Flash Fiction,” “Writer’s Digest” (Screenplay) and she will have 12 books out by the end of the year. Connie reviewed film and books for the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) for 12 years and wrote humor columns and conducted interviews for the (Moline, Illinois) Daily Dispatch and now blogs for 7 blogs, including television reviews and political reporting for Yahoo.
Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and cat Lucy, and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their three-year-old twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, recently graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, as a Music Business graduate and is currently living and working in Australia.
So, grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee, or if you prefer, a glass of wine and welcome Connie Corcoran Wilson to Little Black Marks!

Kylie: In his introduction, Jason V Brock says when he first met you, you were "a bit of a blur: Fast-talking, fast moving, on the run." Is this an accurate description of you? If yes, do you struggle with sitting down to write?
Connie: I have a terrible time tearing myself away from all the fun distractions of life (movies, dinner out, etc.) with the husband (of 45 years), so I bought myself a Writer’s Lair in Chicago, which is quite near my son’s home there (with his wife and three-year-old twin daughters.) When I really need to get something done, I have to shut myself away and go there to write…I mean, if I have A LOT to get accomplished. I’m working on being able to write anywhere any time, but I can, right now, only do that when I write “short” (i.e. Yahoo pieces, blog pieces, etc.) I tend to multi-task and, even when watching television, I have my laptop on and am doing something or am playing ‘Hanging with Friends” on my cell phone. There are only so many hours in your life, and I don’t want to miss a thing (as the song goes.) Plus, I started writing fiction late (2003), although I’ve written for pay for 57 years, just not fiction.
K: Obviously you took inspiration from Dante's Inferno for Hellfire & Damnation II. I thought some of your writing was reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe (who I love). Was he an influence? What other influences do you have?

C: I LOVED Poe’s work, too, and visited his grave in Baltimore, because the franchise system I was a member of for close to 20 years (Sylvan Learning Systems) was headquartered there. I remember reading “The Collected Works” of Poe while sleeping on the floor of the lounge in Currier Hall on campus at the University of Iowa in 1960, where I was visiting my older sister. [She was supposed to get me a bed, but failed in her task, so I stayed up all night reading.] I also enjoy Stephen King and Philip K. Dick and William F. Nolan (a mentor, of sorts)---especially Bill’s short stories--- and Dean Koontz and Peter Straub---plus many others too numerous to mention. Two new names you should check out are Jason V Brock and Pete Giglio, both very good new writers.

K: My favourite stories in this collection were Limbo (First Circle) and Letters to LeClaire (Circle six). Do you have a favourite?

C: I have a wicked sense of humor (appropriate term, don’t you think?) so I like the semi-funny ones “M.R.M.” and “Room Service,” but I think one of the best, in terms of plot, is “The Bureau” and I also liked the non-stop dialogue of “Oxymorons.” But, then again, I like “The Champagne Chandelier,” which was the last one I wrote. I’m glad you like “Cold Corpse Carnival,” however, as my Norwegian Grandfather Monson inspired that one. And, as for “Letters to LeClaire,” that one was one of the most interesting to write, because of the research that went into it. In the paperback (which is slightly different in its illustrations) the publisher (John Teehan of The Merry Blacksmith) really did a masterful job of inserting certain REAL documents I had ferreted out. It also was written for a good cause, to benefit the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire (his hometown) and “M.R.M.” in “Slices of Flesh” anthology also was contributed for a good cause (literacy, my life’s work).

K: Having read Hellfire & Damnation II I have now downloaded Dante's Inferno. Do you hope to encourage people to read more of the classics? What else would you recommend for those who were interested in exploring this genre further?

C: I would recommend that they IMMEDIATELY order “The Color of Evil,” the first novel in my trilogy, which was released in January AND order the first “Hellfire & Damnation” book. (Interviewer's note: I have taken this advice and ordered both books!) There’s a website up now at www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com which will give you an idea what sort(s) of stories are contained in the first book. So, run, don’t walk, to that website and, while you’re at it, check out www.TheColorOfEvil.com. Let’s drive these puppies to the front page of Kindle! You can do it! Who’s with me? (Imagine John Belushi now leading people from the room, who do not follow, a la “Animal House”)

K: Many of the stories appeared first in other anthologies or as flash fiction. Did you review or rewrite and of them before publishing them in this collection?

C: Actually, not that many appeared anywhere else before this book. I think that, out of 11 stories, only “M.R.M.” and “Letters to LeClaire” and a version of the Resurrection Mary story that is totally different appeared elsewhere. I try to keep nearly all of the stories in the “H&D” series as new and never seen before, if possible. It is true that I submitted a couple to a local writing prompt contest, but those never saw the light of day so those don’t count. So, 3 out of 11 is, I think, the previously published number and 2 of those 3 are among the very shortest stories (“M.R.M.” and “Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Mary”) in terms of words. I rewrote “Tempus Fugit” about ten times; it kept getting (slightly) longer each time. And, as I mention in the “From the Author” portion, I rewrote “M.R.M.” to change the name of the protagonist and, also, to lengthen it. But, if you were to figure up the actual word count of the “already saw that” stories, I doubt if it would even be as high as 15% of the 53,000 words. (Of course, somebody mathematical will now do that and prove me wrong, but I do think that most of the stories are “new.”) I did post “The Bureau” on Kindle for 99 cents as a “teaser” and a publisher in Germany has contacted me about publishing it and/or the entire book, but I don’t know if that will happen. (Dr.Bodo Polzer, if you’re reading this: call me).

K: Can you describe your writing environment?

C: As I mentioned earlier, when I really need to “Bear down Chicago Bears,” I go to my Writer’s Lair in Chicago, which is located within a small brick building I refer to as “the baby building” at 1250 S. Indiana (Lakeside on the Park) because it is only 14 stories with 168 units, while the 5th tallest building in the city is across the street and to the left in the Central Station District. I used to have a totally unobstructed view of Lake Michigan from the side bedroom (my writer’s room) but then the Big Glass and Steel Buildings began to be built, so now I can (still) see a sliver of the Lake with sailboats, the fake dinosaur outside the Field Museum and, as a special treat, the blue top of the Shedd Aquarium, which is lit up at night. But I used to be able to sit in the living room and see the fireworks from Navy Pier and it is truly a treat to visit there, even if I am working. It is at the end of Grant Park, right across the street from where Obama accepted the nomination in 2008 (I “live blogged” all night from that location), on Indiana, one block off Michigan. I love it and that’s where most of my writing gets finished.
It’s either that or the basement of my home in the Illinois Quad Cities, which is crammed with books and drifted over with papers. Which would you prefer?

K: When you're not writing, what do you like to do?
C: My husband and I are leaving for Hawaii (August 30th) as I will be a presenter at the Hawaii Writers’ Conference now known as www.SpellbindersConference.com. I’m very excited, as Jane Smiley, John Travolta, Jacqueline Mitchard, Gary Marshall (of TV sit com fame), the gentleman who wrote “The Book of Eli” and a host of other famous names will be there. Then, I was planning on attending KillerCon in Las Vegas (Sept. 20-23), because the IHeartRadio show is going on down the street at the MGM Grand (Aerosmith and Bon Jovi on Saturday night). I went last year. We plan a cruise to New Zealand from Sydney for a month in January, as our daughter is there, living and working, and we will go to Cancun at Easter, as we have for 2 weeks every year for 18 years. (*Note story “The Shell”). We own time shares there and in Mazatlan. I like beaches and reading and movies and fine dining and politics as a spectator sport and was the Content Producer of the Year for Politics for a 400,000 member blog which was bought by Yahoo, so I now write for that 600000 member group. I will be covering the Chicago Film Festival for 2 weeks in October (as I have for at least 5 years) and I’ll be writing many of my adventures up on www.WeeklyWilson.com. We also drove all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier in 10 days back in 2008 and attended the Fort El Reno Ghost Tour to write 3 volumes of short stories about “Ghostly Tales of Route 66” for a small press in Iowa (very “G” rated). So, I like to travel, go to concerts and movies, write about them, socialize, follow presidential politics (Romney will be here at 12:30 tomorrow and Obama was here in Davenport, Iowa, last week) and I covered the NATO demonstrations in Chicago for Yahoo. I think I have something like 850 articles “up” on that blog. I also play 4 musical instruments and enjoy music, and the daughter is a Music Business graduate of Belmont in Nashville who worked for Taylor Swift (briefly). I am a person either in constant motion or in a deep coma. I also like to write at night and sleep late, so there are some conflicts that I need to work out, but, so far, it works for me.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Connie Corcoran Wilson for this interview - my very first.

 Bev over at The Wormhole, also has a stop on the tour today - go check it out!

Want to know what other stops are on the tour? Click on the Tour link on the right hand side of the page.


11 October, 2012

BOOK TOUR - Hellfire & Damnation II - BOOK REVIEW

Welcome to the first stop on the Hellfire & Damnation II Virtual Book Tour! Hosted  by 

 Today I kick off with a review of the book, but come back tomorrow for an author interview! Don't forget to comment on this or any other post on my blog for a chance to win a digital copy of the book. Competition is open internationally and closes on the last day of the tour - October 31.

Click on the tour link on the right hand side to see the rest of the tour dates and places.

Title: Hellfire & Damnation II 
 Author: Connie Corcoran Wilson
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle - kindly given to me by the author.

From Goodreads: Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie (Corcoran) Wilson is another tour of the 9 Circles of Hell described in Dante's Inferno. It picks up where the first collection of short stories left off, using the framing device of the sins punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante's "Inferno."
Winner of the (IWPA) Silver Feather award, sequel to the E-Lit Gold Medal award winner Hellfire & Damnation, Hellfire & Damnation II as a tour of Dante's Inferno doesn't require that you have read the first collection of short stories, which also illustrated the sins punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell. There are no recurring characters, but there are 11 short stories, accompanying illustrations and a "From the Author" section explaining the inspiration or each story.

If you enjoy scary short stories that will linger long after you've finished reading them, this is the book for you.

What I thought: I love scary books. Among the first adult books I ever read were Stephen King and Dean Koontz. However, these days I find it hard to find good scary books - ones that don't make me feel like I've read this before...and then I was asked to read Hellfire & Damnation II.
Corcoran takes us by the hand and leads us through the 9 Circles of Hell, whispering to us the tales of those we find there and the events that have lead them to this nightmarish place. From the first story set in Limbo Cold Corpse Carnival (giving me yet another reason to not wanting to be buried!), to the final circle of The Treacherous and The Bureau the reader will be checking behind doors, under the bed and sleeping with the light on!

Come back tomorrow to read my interview with the author of Hellfire & Damnation II - Connie Corcoran Wilson!


08 October, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What am I reading now.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling
I loved Harry Potter and was very eager to get my hands on this. I'm enjoying it - not quite as gripping as Harry, but then again, I do think that was a once in a life time thing!
What I've  Read In The Last Week.

 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson (this was actually on last weeks list, but there was no review)
Close Range: Wyoming Stories - Annie Proulx

What Else is Happening?

Well after a very long break, I've finally started blogging over on my sewing blog again! Feel free to head over there and check out what I've been sewing!

Also don't forget to comment on this (or any other post) to go in the draw for the chance to win a digital copy of Hellfire and Damnation II.

What's next?

Most probably A Private Life by Michael Kirby -it's our next book group read and I'm hosting so I really should read the book!

So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

06 October, 2012

My favourite place to read

  Sitting looking at this

Is my current favourite place to read. Luckily it's only a 5 minute walk from home. My kids have reached that wonderful age where I don't need to watch them all the time, just stick my head up every now and then and make sure I know where they are. They're happy to spend a few hours down the beach, swimming, kayaking, jumping off the jetty and playing with each other or their friends. I don't think it gets any better!

Where's your favourite place to read at the moment?


05 October, 2012

Kids and Reading

"It's easy to be blasé about reading and books – easy to take them for granted. Yet when I think about it, reading to me is the key to so much. The key to a wider reach of information, a path to learning, the joy of entertainment and the exciting of the imagination. It's just so much fun." - William McInnes, Australian actor and author and patron of the National Year of Reading.

My kids are readers. You have no idea how proud that makes me to say that. My kids love to read - with me, with my husband, with their grandparents, with their cousins, with random strangers, but, most importantly by themselves.

My daughter camping this year
My son, same camping ground, 18 months earlier

Now it would be fair to say that my kids have been showered with books from an early age. Both my husband and I are readers and as a teacher I knew the importance of reading. We read to our kids all the time and now they read to us. Both read above grade level, but what is most important to me is that they choose to spend a part of their day with their noses in a book!

10 year old boy book shelves
The Princess' book shelf

2012 is the National Year of Reading in Australia. It scares me that in a country as rich and prosperous as Australia in 2006,  almost 50% of adults "cannot confidently read newspapers, follow a recipe, make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle." - Source Australian Bureau of Statistics

That is a scary statistic. Almost 50%! How does that happen??

I'm a true believer that reading starts at home. It is so simple - a child who is read to, who sees their same sex parent reading is more likely to read themselves. 10 minutes a day, that's all it takes. 10 minutes of sitting with your child and sharing a book. One hour every week or two to take them to a library. These two simple things open the world to a child in extraordinary ways.

To finish, some of my favourite quotes about books and reading - a way to open many, many doors.

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
- Confucius

The connection between reading speed and comprehension; a film is made up of still images flashed in rapid succession to simulate movement. Slow down the film, and the movement and meaning slows and the film's impact is diminished. Viewers won't learn as much about the film as if it were shown at normal speed. With reading the same thing can happen. When a person reads word by word, like frame by frame, they are not reading on the level of ideas. You need to read on some level that's more conversational and allows things to coalesce into ideas themselves.
- Doug Evans, Institute of Reading Development

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.
- Edward P. Morgan

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
- Emilie Buchwald

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
- Frederick Douglass

(all quotes came from here)

Now, go read to your kids!

04 October, 2012

Close Range: Wyoming Stories

Title: Close Range: Wyoming Stories  
Author: Annie Proulx
Genre: Fiction - Short stories
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - lent by a friend

From Goodreads: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes comes one of the most celebrated short-story collections of our time.
Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in these breathtaking tales of loneliness, quick violence, and the wrong kinds of love. Each of the stunning portraits in Close Range reveals characters fiercely wrought with precision and grace.
These are stories of desperation and unlikely elation, set in a landscape both stark and magnificent -- by an author writing at the peak of her craft.

What I thought: OK so really? A book about Wyoming? Cowboys and such? Hmmm, ok, I'll give it a go. Oh my goodness, riveting! I have been in such a reading slump recently with so so books I'd forgotten how amazing a truly good book can be.
Annie Proulx writing is so polished it gleans, but it isn't pretentious. You don't feel like you are reading high literature by an author who is desperate to show you how vast her word bank is. It is effortless, provides crystal clear images of what the character is seeing and feeling at the time. So beautiful it flows and the only re-reading you have to do is because a passage is so perfectly written you have to experience it again.

He pressed his face into the fabric and breathed in slowly through his mouth and nose, hoping for the faintest smoke and mountain sage and salty sweet stink of Jack but there was no real scent, only the memory of it, the imagined power of Brokeback Mountain of which nothing was left but what he held in his hands. 
The collection does include Brokeback Mountain which of course was made into a movie and for me is the pick of the stories, although they are all able to hold their own. Annie Proulx is being added to my list of authors I want to read.
Today tell me an author you want to read all of.

02 October, 2012

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

Author: Stieg Larsson
Series: Millennium Trilogy - Book 2
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Kindle

From Goodreads: Lisbeth Salander—the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels—lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.
Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.

What I thought: So having sorted the whole Kindle issue, I dived into this as soon as I could. My honest opinion - I think Larsson just got better with each book. It was a bit hard keeping all the players straight, but repeated references to who they worked for (The Section, SIS, Sapo, Milton, Millennium) helped keep me on track. And as with any book translated from another language, the names took a bit of getting use to, especially when a couple of them were similar.
If I have any beef with these books it's the suspension of disbelief you need to employ if you have any knowledge of IT security. (and I do, it's a field my husband works in). I know Lisbeth Salander is suppose to be an absolute genius at this stuff, but the ease with which she gets in, navigates and never gets caught - kinda hard to swallow - and the sole reason I will not recommend these books to my husband - he'd drive me crazy explaining why she couldn't do what she does! Apart from that - great reads and I will be watching the movies!

Challenges: What's in A Name


Today tell me a series which gets better with each book.

01 October, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

Long, long time since I did a It's Monday! What are you Reading post. I lost my blogging mojo there for awhile, but am trying to get it back, especially as I am taking part in a book tour and giveaway soon - but more about that later!

What am I reading now.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
At least, I think this is what I am reading now. I finished a book this morning (refused to get out of bed until I did - I love holidays!) and this was recommended by a friend, so I think I will give it a go.

What I've  Read Since I Was Last Here!

Bit of a list!

The Complete Peanuts: 1967 - 1968 - Charles Schulz
Disrupting Grace - Kristen Richburg
Jitterbug Perfume - Tom Robbins
Precious and the Monkeys - Alexander McCall Smith
Alex and Me - Irene M Pepperberg
Eric - Terry Pratchett
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - Alexander McCall Smith
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
The House at Salvation Creek - Susan Duncan
Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett
The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson
The Night Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko
The Day Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson (review to come)

I've also read 

Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson

I'll be taking part in a book tour for it in October, with a review and an author interview. I've also been given a digital copy to give away! Head over to the "book tour" link to check out how to enter.

What's next?

Who knows! Our next book group book is A Private Life by Michael Kirby - I'm really looking forward to that. I also just bought The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling - interested to see what life after Potter is like. And of course, there is always more Pratchett!

So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

The Day Watch

Title: The Day Watch
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Series: The Night Watch Trilogy - Book 2
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Personal copy

From Goodreads: The second book in the internationally bestselling fantasy series, Day Watch begins where Night Watch left off, set in a modern-day Moscow where the 1,000-year-old treaty between Light and Dark maintains its uneasy balance through careful vigilance from the Others. The forces of darkness keep an eye during the day, the Day Watch, while the agents of Light monitor the nighttime. Very senior Others called the Inquisitors are the impartial judges insisting on the essential compact. When a very potent artifact is stolen from them, the consequences are dire and drastic for all sides. Day Watch introduces the perspective of the Dark Ones, as it is told in part by a young witch who bolsters her evil power by leeching fear from children's nightmares as a counselor at a girls' summer camp. When she falls in love with a handsome young Light One, the balance is threatened and a death must be avenged.
Day Watch is replete with the thrilling action and intricate plotting of the first tale, fuelled by cunning, cruelty, violence, and magic. It is a fast paced, darkly humorous, haunting world that will take root in the shadows of your mind and live there forever.

What I thought:  Just like it's predecessor, I think the Day Watch suffered in translation from the Russian to English. It just didn't flow for me, which is frustrating as I quite like the concept. I'm thinking I might have not struggled with it as much if I hadn't read it straight of the back of The Night Watch. I'm sure I will read the final book - The Twilight Watch - at some point, but not for awhile!


Today tell me about a series you haven't finished with yet.