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31 July 2011

Ashfield Library's World Café Readers’ Evening 2011

What a brilliant night I had on Thursday! Ashfield Library had a World Café Readers’ Evening, highlighting the various special interest areas of the library. I had two friends speaking, Vassiliki the tweeting librarian, who  spoke about the romance genre and Sofia the book girl from Galaxy Bookshop who spoke about speculative fiction. It was the first time I have been to the new Ashfield library as they have spent considerable time and design dollars moving to a level of the new council building (I also lost my library card – I avoid libraries when I can’t borrow books). I was really impressed with the new layout. They have gone for a more approachable bookshop style layout, rather than the Dewey Decimal System. They have split the genres like speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror), romance, crime from the fiction shelves and put them in little cosy alcoves. The library is very spacious, has a lot of conversational space, meeting rooms, arm chairs and the layout and furnishings are dynamic. I’ll be looking for my library card and visiting more often!

The event started with a wine and cheese meet and greet, with platters of delightful food being passed around. I say delightful because if I had less manners I would have fallen upon those platters with glee! There were tandoori chicken sticks, Vietnamese spring rolls and a variety of sushi. Delicious! The entertainment was provided by Terry Serio and the strains of guitar threaded its way throughout the evening.

The sections of the evening that really stood out for me were “Planet Earth” by Melissa Sellen, “Romance” by Vassiliki and “Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror” by Sofia. This, however, may be because I have an interest in each of these topics.

Melissa is in the environmental services and knew her topic inside and out. I was talking to her before the evening started and was impressed with both her passion and knowledge. As a self-avowed greenie, I found this admirable, especially as she spoke about educating the children about how valuable and intrinsic the environment is for human beings. She was greeted with humour and agreement when she recommended The Lorax by Dr Seuss as essential reading for children.

Vassiliki has gained a bit of a name for herself as the tweeting librarian in Sydney circles. She has a special interest in the romance genre and many of us in the Twitter community count her as a good source of recommendations in the genre. She filled her speech with anecdotes from her own life and of being a reader of romance. My favourite is still the one where her parents used to watch wedding processions drive past to their local church and referring to them as funeral processions heading off to watch a hanging. It is such a droll story and perfectly illuminates the fact that readers of romance are readers of fiction. We do not think life is about happily ever afters, but about living in the real world - we just want a bit of happily ever after to lubricate its ups and downs. One of the recommendations Vassiliki gave that I will be looking up is a romantic suspense author, Suzanne Brockmann.

Sofia works for Galaxy, a specialist store for science fiction, fantasy and horror and has such knowledge and animated passion for the genre. She is my go to girl for new authors, and as far as I am concerned, she never gets it wrong (I may be biased as she is my friend LOL). She had such a dynamic presentation that the night ended on a high. She bought her lightsaber to play with when she was talking about science fiction, her Hufflepuff cloak when she was talking about fantasy, and a torch and wore her hood up to add suspense when she was talking about horror. I cannot comment on her recommendations as I have only read Terry Pratchett (read him if you haven’t - he is brilliant), but she did mention a book Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips which she has recommended to me in the past. I sat down and read the first chapter while she was talking with some other attendees and I will be reading it. It is very entertaining! Like I said, she never gets it wrong!

Sofia and I stayed back until late (she was my ride home) talking with various people and had many interesting conversations. The two that stand out are probably Sarah Barry, a psychic who spoke about the Mind and Body section earlier and Vanessa who was resident photographer of the night - both these conversations involved antics with the lightsaber! Over all, the night was a great success, and I was very impressed with the new design of the Ashfield library. I was sad to see they no longer have any Charles de Lint on the shelves, and while I think this is a great misjustice, I understand they have limited space. I also have to mention that they have an alcove for graphic novels and comics, as I plan to spend some time here in the future. I will be searching for my library card in the near future, so I can max out my card on speculative fiction, romance and graphic novels a regular basis. If you are local to the Ashfield library, I recommend you visit and check out the new location and design! If you just like libraries, are in the library industry or interior design industry, I suggest you visit just to see what a different and dynamic direction they have taken!

25 July 2011

Why it is worth entering competitions....

The moral of the story is enter any and every competition you would like to win the books for, because you may just win them. I know, it is strange to put 'the moral of the story' at the beginning rather than the end, but I am sometimes unconventional. I had a streak a few years ago where I won a competition every day for two weeks. It wasn’t because I was entering competitions daily, but because competitions I had been entering on and off for months all happened to be drawn consecutively. I recently won 2 books in two days, and it has reminded me that I will have no income in two weeks and those books at the top of my auto buy list will have to be put on the back burner. I’ll be borrowing from the library more often, and obtaining review copies (that is right, I’ll be posting regular reviews on Book Bites!) but some times you luck out with competitions and win something you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself. The best example of this is the time I won an ARC of Peter V Brett’s The Painted Man. I was no longer actively perusing epic fantasy (I had just come off a ten year glut) and would have been unlikely to have bought the book for myself. I loved it! It was such a refreshing take on the genre, my favourite read of the year and the author became one of my favourites over night. That would never have happened if I hadn’t won a competition that I entered on a whim. So yes, the moral of the story is to enter every competition you feel a flicker of interest in. You may end up striking gold! And if you read the book and it doesn’t give you enjoyment, you can either make a gift of it to a friend, swap it on a site like book mooch, give it away as a prize on a blog (of course, stating that it has been read) or donate it to charity. I have to admit, I usually like the books and keep them ;-p

So enter competitions, and the best of luck to you!

I have to admit, I decided to write this because I won another two competitions last week, however, now would be the perfect time to plug a competition run here on Book Bites LOL So, go enter the Maria V Snyder giveaway! It is a YA dystopian series you may end up liking!

19 July 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

Standing at the entrance to Bethlehem Royal Hospital, commonly known as Bedlam, she found her feet unwilling to carry her any farther. Looking up, the ornate gate could have been mistaken for some grand country estate -- if you could ignore the writhing figures of madness above the ironwork.

Page 64 of Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Aus & NZ only, ends 31st July

11 July 2011

Maria V. Snyder book giveaway!

With the creation of the new Harlequin Teen Australia fanpage on Facebook and on the occasion of Maria V. Snyder touring Australia, Harlequin Teen Australia has kindly donated some prizes to Book Bites! One lucky reader will win two books from her new Insider series, and an autographed poster! All you have to do to be in the winning is to enter your details in the form below. This giveaway is open to Australians and New Zealanders and closes on the 31st of July.

The Prize:

The blurbs from Goodreads:

Inside Out
Keep Your Head Down.
Don't Get Noticed.
Or Else.

I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

Outside In
Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there's more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion - between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we're free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again - while still touching base with Riley, of course. He's the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there's outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In.

Terms and Conditions of the giveaway:

All prizes have been donated by Harlequin Teen Australia.
The winner wins two Maria V Snyder novels and a signed poster.
The competition closes on the 31st of July 2011 at 12pm, Australian Eastern Standard Time.
This giveaway is open to people residing in Australia and New Zealand only.
The winner will be chosen at random using
You do not need to be a facebook fan, a follower of Book Bites or my twitter to enter (although much love if you do).

This giveaway is now closed!

Good luck everyone!

If the winner would like to review the books for Book Bites, please let me know :-p

Review: Stranded With Her Ex by Jill Sorenson

Stranded With Her Ex by Jill Sorenson

Blurb from Goodreads:

An exotic wildlife preserve is a dream come true for conservation biologist Daniela Flores. Until she finds out her ex-husband is leading the research team. World-famous shark expert Sean Carmichael has only grown more ruggedly appealing in the time they were apart…the passion between them more intense than ever. But how could Daniela forgive Sean for betraying her when she needed him most?

Sean had come to the remote Farallon Islands to study killer sharks. Now a real killer is on the loose, threatening the woman he's never stopped loving. And this time, he knows he can't walk away. Marooned together during a deadly storm, Sean vows to go to hell and back to save Daniela…and for the chance to begin again.

The review:

I don't usually expect much from category romance apart from an entertaining story. Stranded With Her Ex bucked the trend! I hate that I must subconsciously believe the negative press that the romance genre receives, but somehow I still feel surprised when I come across a romance novel that rates high on all the levels of novel appreciation, especially if it is a category romance. I am not a literature snob, far from it, but I seem to have soaked up some of those assumptions.

From the second Daniela sets foot on the stark island, the suspense and drama sets in. The landscape is foreboding, but even the sharks are viewed with a sense of wonder. All the wildlife are viewed as wild and dangerous, even the birds, and the scientific merit of the project, environmental cause and scientific passion comes through loud and clear. The characters are well written and believable, and the tensions and relationships of the team are real and add to the high drama and suspense. Apart from the main protagonists, everyone has reason to be suspect to the reader. Those same main protagonists are dealing with real and serious issues like anxiety, emotional breakdowns and grief.

I enjoyed reading this novel immensely and recommend it to both romance and thriller readers. I'll be buying Jill Sorenson's novels again in the future, and if my second book is as near as good as this one, Sorenson will have made it onto my autobuy list of authors.

The only part of this book I disliked was the need for a Mills & Boon descriptive title, rather than a meaningful one. However, I understand their marketing strategy and this is not a complaint but an observation. I really loved this book! Five stars! I'm off to read it again...

08 July 2011

Harlequin Teen have a comp to win an iPad2 and meet Maria V Snyder

Hi guys,
Harlequin, the publishers of Mills & Boon now have a YA Fiction imprint called Harlequin Teen. They've published some books I really like, namely Rachel Caine's Soul Screamer series which just blew me away with their use of an original species for both YA and UF/PNR. I raved about the first one in the series when it came out and I have the rest on my TBR pile. You should read them!

I got distracted *bites lip* Anyway, the reason for my blog is that Harlequin Teen in Australia are running a competition to meet Maria V Snyder and an iPad2. You can find out more on their new facebook page:

Sony can't keep up the the demand for the Sony Reader 650 & accessories

So I wasn't able to buy the case I wanted. The Sony Centre in George Street had run out, and told me they had been discontinued. They are still listed on the website. I called Burwood's David Jones store and they only have the hideous red ones {pic1} {pic2}. I will only buy one of the red ones if I have to. I'd prefer my pretty red Sony Reader to be in a black case. I didn't buy one when I bought my ereader because I had limited funds at the time. I do now as well, but as I explained yesterday, a girl has to do what a girl has to do! Tomorrow I am getting Lillian to scout Myer's in Toowoomba, and I'll spend the day with the phone calling around stores in Sydney. I really don't want the red one. I am not an eBay user, but the search I did on eBay today turned up no sources. I am ready to scream or cry or something emotional. If the case was cheaper I would just get the red one, but I am NOT spending $60 on something I find unattractive unless I have no other options. The "red" binding is too brown for my liking, and although the red flap is a gorgeous red, the brown detracts from it. If in doubt, go black! Not that it is my favourite colour or anything! *snickers* (coincidently, nearly all my clothes are black LOL The only colours are for contrasting the black.) Anyway, I am in a quandary. What to do, what to do!?!

I've been talking to @fangbooks, @staticsan and @SonyNZ on twitter, and apparently there is a high demand for them and they are sold out and unlikely to get new stock soon. I don't know who to believe. A busy manager who could have been fobbing off a customer or a twitter account. I'll go with the twitter account's reasoning because the girl looked busy and annoyed. Also, I would hate to think this product has been discontinued. It would be such a loss!

I guess it doesn't really matter. I'll be leaving NSW for the sticks in QLD in just under a month, and I need a case with a light. Unless I can find the black one, I'll have to buy the red one. But it may sell out. In that case, I guess I'll have to get a normal book light and *cries* clip it to my pretty red ereader.

God, these are SUCH #firstworldproblems! But I don't have much money, and when I buy something, it needs to count. Also, a month with solar power. It is lovely on paper, and I am proud that we aren't using grid power and all it's nasty associations, but I grew up on solar power, and it is not fun when you are a book worm! You either drain the batteries and get yelled up (just remember, I have been dealing with this since I was 6. I am now 27. I moved out of home when I was 16, but I visit as much as I can. Every night I was yelled at to put down the book and turn off the light!), or huddle with a torch which constantly kills the batteries, or ring your bed with 20 candles to get light bright enough not to give you eye strain. The option of not reading in bed of a night is a no brainer. So, yes, I need a solution. I will be home for nearly a month. A month of not reading of a night? Have I mentioned I am an insomniac? And books are my cocaine? I have? Well, you can see why this is the most pressing issue about visiting my parents. And that it is a problem I'll have in the future. My ereader was partly bought for travelling. I can take hundreds of books with me and they won't take up any room. I tried to take 20 books with me on a flight home once - it cost me a fortune! So this case will be an investment! All those times I am trying to read in low light - either on holiday, camping, on trains or in blackouts - I can just use the light!

Wish me luck! I have 3 or 4 weeks to find a solution! Damn you Sony! You create such an amazing product and then can't keep up with the demand? You need better planning in place!! Serious book readers are addicts! We can't not read. It is a compulsion! And we share our love with those around us. Three people at my book club last night were interested in buying a Sony Reader after Maria and I waxed lyrical. Three people! I guess they luck out. And apparently @staticsan hasn't been able to buy one for months... And Rosie from @fangbooks lost hers when travelling and has been desperately trying to find a replacement. There is such a demand out there for the Sony Reader Touch 650, but it seems everyone is out of luck. So good luck to everyone else who is on the endless search for the ereader and accessories!

Edit: A quick update. Rosie from @fangbooks called around about the Sony Reader 650 and apparently there are none to be had in Australia! The new release is apparently in a few months.

Edit: My friend Zach just made a comment on the Book Bites facebook page about the availability in America: "The 650s are becoming rare here in America, too. There are very few left even on Amazon. The Daily and Pocket editions are a bit more available, but that's understandable, considering the Touch is more popular. All three are out of stock according to Sony's website. I've decided that I want a Reader over a Kindle or a Nook, so I'll patiently wait for the release."

07 July 2011

Travelling, so I'm off to buy a Sony Reader case with booklight...

As a change of plans, I am now going to be staying with my parents for a couple of weeks after I finish working. I am really looking forward to the peace and quiet (and puppy kisses) which I can find at the farm. I have two problems with going home to Queensland. One is I won't have internet access, and if anyone follows me on Twitter, you can see why that would be a problem! I've also recently become addicted to theforcebook, which is a social networking site for fans of Star Wars (join us!) which will be painful to abandon for any period longer than half a day. The second problem I have is our power at the farm is completely solar! I mean, yeay, us! But it also means that we have to conserve energy. All my life I have been yelled at to "turn off that bloody light and go to sleep!" ALL. MY. LIFE! And no, it wasn't so much because I was saying up until 2am reading (although I was), but that I was draining the batteries to do so. I tried everything. Torches, candles (I need 15-20 to avoid eyestrain), book lights and being sneaky. Nothing really works. But... I have an ereader! So, tonight, I am going to buy the Sony Reader case that comes with a built in book light! I don't want to clamp a generic book light onto my ereader, and although the official case is a bit expensive, I think this is the solution. I don't actually have a case for my ereader. I have a doll's rug from my childhood that I wrap it in, papoose-like, to guard it from scratches. So tonight, after work and before book club, I am going to the Sony Centre and buying this case!

And yeay, Queensland!!

I'll need to fill my ereader so freaking full of ebooks! There is NOTHING to do out at the farm except hours of reading and writing and playing with my puppy. Oh, and housework *sigh* I think I need to um.. write... *snickers* Somehow I don't think that excuse will work on my Mum.... I do plan on writing a lot though. And typing up my Nano manuscript on Mum's laptop for an hour each day. I'm getting excited!

06 July 2011

The Rogue Gadda giveaway winner is...

The winner of the Rogue Gadda giveaway was picked at random by author Nicole Murphy this morning. The winner is:

Sapphired Dragon

Nicole will be in contact with you shortly to organise postal details.

I wish everyone much luck pursuing their Plan A!

05 July 2011

The Rouge Gadda giveaway ends in 9 hours!

The giveaway for Rogue Gadda ends at midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time tonight! That is in about 9 hours. It is open internationally, and all you need to do is tell Nicole Murphy and myself what your "Plan A" or dream career is. You can enter {here}. Good luck!

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