Book review time

#blogjune has been spotty, but I have at least gotten some ideas that I want to write about. So, as long as I actually write them, it’s not been a waste.

I have tried to review every book that I’ve read this year, even if it’s only a line or two. Not that I’ve managed that, either.

Treachery at Lancaster Gate (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #31)Treachery at Lancaster Gate by Anne Perry

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An interesting story – five police officers are given a tip-off about a possible opium deal. Rushing to the house, a bomb explodes, killing two and grievously wounding the other three. The bomber seems to be an addict revenging himself on behalf of a friend he believed falsely accused and hanged for the shooting of a bystander in an arrest gone wrong.

A fundamentally interesting story about possible police corruption (with strong modern resonances) is marred by Pitt’s long internal monologues. The dialogue, replete with an excess of exclamation marks and a tendency for characters to have ‘exclaimed’ rather than rely on the old ‘he said/she said), tended to come across as a preachy tirade. Consequently, the story felt poorly paced.

This was especially evident at the denouement – which look place in the courtroom – at which point the story ended. There was no sense of how the characters might react to how the events unfolded, nothing to tie the story up.

Fans of the series may also be disappointed that some of the characters that were more central in previous stories are reduced to cameo performances. This is the bare bones of an interesting story that felt rushed to meet deadlines.

View all my reviews

Not peace, but not war #blogjune


Nothing significant today. So hwre are two of our cats. ‘ScuseMe (on the left) is a new member of the household. His owner  (across the road) has new housemates, who have children and dogs.

Purrkins is still having none of it. Meanwhile, Loki was sunning himself out the front.

Significant Ending #blogjune

This weekend has mostly been listening to the ABC Classic 100 and trying to get my final assignment done. I’ve been doing an Advanced Diploma in Professional Writing at TAFE (which is also my employer) since the beginning of 2011. It was four years part-time (I’ve taken a little longer because I’ve had a few semesters where I’ve only done one subject (and one in which I did three).

I say ‘was’ because the longer course is being taught out (but there are still short courses on offer). One of the good things about it has been the variety. I’ve written short stories, short film scripts, poems, short biographies.  I’ve met some excellent writers, like Bill Marsh, Jude Aquilina, and Ashley Mallet (who also happens to be Australia’s best off-spinner since WW2). I’ve edited a couple of biographies. As a result, I’m researching two historical novels set in the later Roman Empire and turning my short biography (about cricketer Jim Kelly) into a book.

It’s been a fantastic experience, full of highs, and it’s coincided with some terrible lows. But yesterday I handed in my last assignment for my last module. So, assuming I pass, it’s all over. It’s not as big a moment as finishing uni, but it feels significant to me.

Audio books and reading #blogjune

So, apart from semantics, is listening to an audiobook the same as reading? The question is only important to me because I set myself a Goodreads target each year, and some of those are audiobooks. Given that I do about 15-16 hours of commuting per week, at also means a lot less time to kick back and read with my eyes.

As you might expect reading with the eyes affects the brain slightly differently to reading with one’s ears. According to Eric Jaffe, we are more easily distracted when we listen. Indeed, it seems that if you’re eye-reading, you concentrate better when you read out aloud. I don’t especially like ear-reading while doing other things so that I don’t get distracted. This includes driving in traffic – I’d much rather listen to the radio.  Most of my driving is on country roads with little traffic, so really it’s a case of watching out for the odd kangaroo.

I had a cassette recorder as a kid and can remember borrowing things like Kipling’s Just So Stories, plugging in an ear jack, and listening away after it was time to turn out the lights. So I find something quite comforting in being read to. And, while eye-reading lets you imagine speech, intonation, and so on, a masterful reader can spice things up wonderfully.

And our stories once were told orally. These guys have a short podcast on what the differences between ear-reading and eye-reading, and why the former isn’t a short-cut.


Tonight I start first-time ear-reading of an old favourite.



Distributed Collections #blogjune

At the end of last year, the shelves at our campus were full, and we were getting more items for our Women’s Studies program transferred from another campus. We’d weeded the collection relatively recently, and so my bright idea (one of the few that I have) was to relocate most of the resources relevant to their study to another location – in this case, their classroom.

The cleverest part of the plan was that I was on Long Service Leave when the work had to be done, but still, someone has to come up with the ideas. Now that I’m back at work it seems to be working very well. The program uses a single classroom, which isn’t used by others, and they use a thin version of our LMS to book things out. We seem to be getting *more* of their students coming over to the library. I wonder whether it’s because it’s a relatively safe intorduction to using us? Most of them get tours and/or information literacy sessions at the beginning of the year, but from the student’s point of view it’s probably just part of the background noise of information that they have to process. And most of them are new to study, often many years after they finished school.

Students often return their items here, which we then have to take back to their classroom, but the little extra work (and exercise!) is worth it if it means that it makes access to our collection easier for our patrons. One thing that I would like do do is to convince the lecturers to let us arrange the stuff according to DDC. They have it arranged in ‘categories’ and, I suspect that the funny numbers on the spine are just made up.

I’ll be interested to see whether our end of year stats reflect increased use. I’m even thinking of trying with another program area. Academic libraries often have distributed collections – Law libraries, Medical, and so on. Anyone have positive (or negative) experiences of a distributed collection?



Cheese cake


My middle stepson got married today. I’m not often a fan of wedding cake, but the happy couple chose a cheese cake. Literally rounds of cheese, which means that this #blogjune is dueto wrap up so that I can tuck in!