Monday, June 29, 2009

Why we love Sookie...and other matters.

I have finished reading Dead Until Dawn by Charlaine Harris, the first in the "Southern Vampires" series. They are the books on which the HBO series True Blood was based, and I'm reading them as part of the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge, hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. Check out the details of the challenge here.

I loved it! I have already recommended it to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and had a fabulous chat about it with my hairdresser while she was colouring and cutting my hair today. She watched the first series of True Blood on TV. (I missed it because it was on quite late at night here in Australia and I need my sleep. I know, I could have recorded it to watch later, but I've given that up because the unwatched shows were piling up and I never got around to watching them.) We compared notes between the first book and the first series, found some differences, but essentially decided that they seemed to cover similar ground. She was very excited to hear that there are 8 more books in the series. "Ooooh, so there's still a lot more to it!" she crowed with glee.

My American friends will have to let me know if the second series follows the second book, and so on...

Today I'm going to write about why I think we all love Sookie so much.

1. She's special.

Stories in which the main character has a special gift or destiny always do well. I think we all like to imagine that underneath our ordinary exterior there lies unique magic that destines us to greatness! Think Harry Potter, Bella Swan...

2. She's been through hardship.

This makes her tougher in some ways. She's had to be tough to get through life. But it also makes her compassionate, and vulnerable.

3. She's good, but not perfect.

Sookie is a good person. She's helpful, honest, loyal and hardworking. But she's human, not perfect.

I'm looking forward to the official start of the challenge, so I can begin to read what others are writing about Sookie. Reading a good book can only be made better by talking about with others who have shared the experience!

In other news, I noticed today that the uni website has details of readings and assignments for second semester up already. So if I wanted to, I could get started on the work...oh goody...not.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

While the boys are at footy, Alana and I are indulging in a bit of a Saturday morning Twilight -fest! While Alana has been focussing on pictures of Edward and Bella, I managed to snag this nice one of Jacob!

Alana did find this lifesize Edward cutout standing 6'1". Imagine how many of her friends would want to have their photos taken with him!
She has also been reading Midnight Sun, and I must admit I have been looking over her shoulder and getting another fix!

Enjoy these pics everyone :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Challenges, challenges.

I can't help it! I can't resist! I'm signing up for another blog related challenge!
This one is the "Everything Austen" challenge, hosted by Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word. If you'd like to enter, find out the rules, or just check it out, then click here.
The idea is to experience 6 Austen-related books, movies etc and blog about what you have read/watched. Too tempting for me to resist! I love Austen's books so I would really enjoy re-reading any or all of them. But since this is a challenge, I'd like to branch out a bit!
Stephanie has a helpful list of possible choices, and from them I think I'd like to experience:
Pride, Prejudice and Zombies by Sean Grahame-Smith
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laura Viera Rigler
and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laura Viera Rigler.
I'm not sure yet what my other 3 choices will be.
In other challenge related news, I'm about halfway through Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, my first Sookie Stackhouse book in the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge.
I don't want to say too much here but...I'm loving it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I'm Reading

Currently reading: Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield
I picked this up at the library on the strength of this blurb:
"...Detective Ronald Brook, speaking softly and deliberately, tells Sarah that her husband has vanished...A noted sculptor, Todd Larkin went swimming at midnight off the coast of Florida and hasn't returned. He was staying with a woman. He was drinking. He left behind his keys, wallet, cell phone, and his return airline ticket...there is no trace of him or his body...Has Todd run off to start a new life or is he dead? Could it have been an accident, suicide, or homicide?..."

I am nearly finished this and it is disappointing me. I'm just not into it! The character isn't real to me and the world created (inside the editorial department of a glossy women's mag) is too cliche for me. Not sure if I'll write a review.

On the "To Be Read" pile: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
This is the first in the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge and I'm really looking forward to it!
You can join me in the challenge, just click here.

On reserve at my local library: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
You guessed it - the second book in the series!
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
I wasn't sure about this one, but a couple of reviews have convinced me to give it a go.
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
This is another book that a blog review has convinced me to try.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is a library?

This semester I studied ETL401 Teacher Librarianship and ETL503 Collection Management towards my MEd(TL). The main thrust of 401 was the question "What is the role of a Teacher Librarian?" and 503 considered "How can we best manage library collections in the future given the rise of the internet and the use of online resources rather than physical resources?".
I think both of these questions lead to an even more basic one: "What is a library?"
In my mind, the defining characteristic of a library is the fact that it is a communal resource, where members of the group that the library belongs to can go to use the resources and accompanying services provided, and can choose items to borrow and take home for a given time.
This covers all sorts of scenarios: using the library as a space to quietly read, study, or surf the internet; borrowing CD's and DVD's to take home so that you can experience some new music, practice meditation or keep the kids occupied; researching a school project using books and internet; catching up on some magazine issues that you missed, or couldn't afford; composing and printing out an assignment using softward such as Word or Excel. I'm sure you can think of many other examples!
So what does the library then need?
  • A great collection that meets the needs of the group it belongs to - a continually changing collection of resources in many different mediums.
  • A wonderful selection of user-friendly ways of using the library resources - comfy chairs for reading, desks for working at, computers with Internet access and equipped with a range of useful software, equipment (including headphones!) for listening to and watching CD's and DVD's, rooms that suit group discussions.
  • Marvellous staff that know their collection and services and are willing and able to help library users to get the most out of their library experience.

The library also needs to be an attractive and dynamic space that is welcoming and pleasant. Library users need to enjoy it! I found this post at Skerricks an inspiring set of ideas that translate corporate marketing to the school library.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meeting Sookie

Welcome to my first post in the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge!

I have joined a challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads which requires me to read all the books in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampires series within the next year. Piece of cake!

The books are:
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

The titles make me chuckle :) I wonder if Charlaine is having trouble coming up with phrases containing the word dead?

A little trip to Borders has netted me a copy of Dead Until Dark at 30% off (they are so cunning emailing me discount vouchers every week!). I did see the box set of the first 7 books, but at $120 it was out of my price range! I really like the cover art on the box set, it is whimsical and quirky; instead I have what I assume is an image from the HBO series True Blood.
I have been very restrained, and haven't started reading yet because I'm still part way through another book which I want to finish first. How's that for self-control!
I did have a little peek at the first page, just to get a feel for it (!), and I could tell right away that I am going to love Sookie! She has a hint of sarcasm in her voice, and does a little dance step of joy when she realises that her very own vampire has just walked into the bar! She has me intrigued!
If you'd like to join the challenge click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Today I am pleased to host an interview with my daughter Alana! We are going to talk about the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer.
So Alana, I've noticed that this seems to be the first book series that you have become seriously obsessed with! Why???
Well...I needed to know what was going to happen next. The story is unpredictable, and I like the characters.
Your friends at school are all into it too. What do you like talking about with your friends the most?
My friends all started reading the books after me, so I like asking them where they're up to and reliving the story with them.
Who are your favourite characters, and why?
Alice - because she has a very friendly, nice and bubbly personalilty.
Bella - because the story is written from her point of view, I can relate to her.
Edward - he's so protective with Bella, I think he's nice.
Emmett - he's a good, playful big brother.
Seth - he's awesome, he's my favourite werewolf. He's like a kid, a puppy, enthusiastic.
Did you find anything about the books difficult to read? Were there any bits that you didn't really understand, or you felt were a bit old for you?
Not really, just sometimes I needed to ask because I didn't quite grasp what was meant.
Do you like it that I've read, and loved, the books too? Do you like being able to talk to me about them?
Yes, especially since noone else in the house lets me.
What age group do you think these books are suitable for? Girls or boys?
Definitely girls, I think boys would find them too romantic and not interesting. I think any mature readers of my age (11) will enjoy them, right up to adults. So you should try them!
What aspect of the style of books do you like best? The romance? The supernatural stuff? The fact that the main character is a teenage girl?...
All of the above. All of these put together make them perfect.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I enjoyed reading these bits best:
In Twilight, the blood typing class in Biology.
In New Moon, when she thinks she's dreaming because Edward is there with her after their confrontation with the Volturi.
In Eclipse, when she punches Jacob after he kisses her and calls Edward to come and get her.
In Breaking Dawn, when she becomes a vampire and I really like Renesmee!
Thanks for talking to me Alana!
No problem!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Getting it Together

I began this blog as required work for a uni course that I'm doing. I'm studying a Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship, and with the rise of Web 2.0, my lecturer wants to make sure that we are all conversant in using different Web 2.0 tools that could be useful in school libraries.

I immediately decided that, although my blog was intended to allow me to explore ideas about the role of teacher librarians, information literacy, and other scholarly subjects, I wanted to make it personal, and include anecdotes from my personal life. And so I have blundered along, posting here and there, visiting other blogs, and getting ideas.

I have now got to the stage where I realise that what drew me to librarianship in the first place, is love of reading and love of learning. That love of interacting with the written word is my driving force. So I really want this blog to reflect that. I think I'm finally getting it together!

If you check out the right hand side of my blog's home page, you will see that there is a link to my guestbook. The guestbook is where I am posting book reviews at the moment. I'm not very experienced in writing book reviews and am learning as I go along. My most recent review, written today, is for If Wishes Were Horses by Merry Whiteford. Please check out my guestbook anytime, and feel free to leave a review, a comment, or a book recommendation.

Underneath the guestbook, you'll see my book lists. This is where I will list books that I have read reviews of and would like to read. I will always include a link to the review, so you can see if you want to read it too! I intend to work on three lists, one for me, one for my daughter Alana, and one for my son Joshua. When I read something from the list, I'll post a review in my guestbook and the book will disappear from the "Must Read" list. I hope to get my kids reviewing for me too!

A lot of the ideas I get come from the blogs that I follow. They are listed under my book lists. I try to visit each new post and encourage you to use the links to visit too!

I have not yet had any luck picking up a copy of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. It's the first in the Southern Vampires series that I am challenging myself to read courtesy of Beth Fish Reads. For some strange reason, my local library has lots of Sookie but not the first book of the series, and I can't bear to read it out of order. Looks like I might have to buy it...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sookie who???

Just found this interesting challenge on a blog that I follow. OK, I'll admit it, I have never heard of Sookie Stackhouse before, but I'm willing to meet her! I'm going to enter this challenge because it intrigues me, and will be a great way to make some bloggy friends. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Guilty Pleasure

I have just finished reading Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer, a partial draft of a novel which is Twilight from Edward's point of view. Stephenie explains on her website how the draft was leaked by a trusted friend, which upset her so much she couldn't continue writing. But after some thought, she decided to make the draft available to her fans, and hopes to go back to it some time in the future. The draft is in pdf form, but can only be read on the screen, as it can't be printed. So I put in some serious screen reading time to get through the 264 pages!
I LOVE IT! I love it even more than Twilight because now I finally see what all the fuss is about Edward! Unlike many others who immediately fall in love with Edward (and even dream of him!!!), I never really got it. (I rather fancied Jacob, who at least is warm and has a heartbeat!) But reading from Edward's viewpoint, and getting inside his head, makes me like him a lot more. Unfortunately the draft only makes it as far as just before Edward takes Bella to the meadow to show her his skin in the sunlight, so I'm feeling unsatisfied. I really hope Stephenie finishes and publishes it.
I talked to my lecturer, and I'm definitely going to pass the subject that I failed the assignment for, so that's a relief! Now I'm just waiting to get the last assignment (for the other subject) back. I'm really hoping for a great result, but after my rather embarrassing predictions for the last one, I'm not going to commit to my hoped for marks in print!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Cellar Restaurant

OK, so I promised that today I would tell you about some of the other things that Fiona and I did on our weekend away.
On Saturday night, we ate at The Cellar Restaurant at Hunter Valley Gardens. We used a shuttle bus services called Vinyard Shuttle Service that took us from Cypress Lakes to the restaurant, then picked us up and took us back to our villa door when we had finished. It cost us $15 a head, but I'd highly recommend the service as the perfect way to enjoy a dinner away from your hotel without worrying about the drive home. The driver gave us a little card with a mobile number on it, and when we asked for the bill we rang the mobile number to let our driver know we were ready to be picked up. By the time we'd settled our account and put our coats on, the shuttle was outside waiting for us. Perfect!
We absolutely loved our experience at The Cellar. After looking over the menu, we decided to go for the Chef's Tasting Menu, which allowed us to choose 3 entrees, each served with a (generous) glass of matched wine. It also included coffee and petit fours to finish.
I chose the Goat's Cheese Souffle, which was served with Pinot Grigio, the Prawns with Chardonnay, and the Duck and Fois Gras Terrine with Pinot Noir. All excellent!
Fiona had Scallops with Champagne, the Souffle, and Quail with Shiraz (? sorry can't remember!).
We both thoroughly enjoyed the varied flavours and textures that came with each dish, and felt that the wines chosen were well matched and enjoyable.
And the restaurant had an open fire, so we were warm enough!
A lovely time was had by all...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cypress Lakes

OK, I feel ready to tell you a bit about my weekend away now. My friend (also called Fiona) and I stayed in a beautiful two-bedroom villa at Cypress Lakes Resort in the Hunter Valley ( wine growing region in NSW with over 100 cellar doors to visit - very popular for weekend getaways!).
Click here to visit Cypress Lakes' website and get a feel for the place!
Our villa was set amongst the tree-tops, with a view of part of the golf course from our balcony. We were totally spoiled - each of our bedrooms had a king-size bed, TV, air conditioner and bathroom! We also had a large lounge area with (another!) TV, a full kitchen and dining area. In a cupboard was a clothes dryer and ironing board/iron. Needless to say, our kitchen and laundry facilities did not get used (!), apart from making ourselves a cup of tea now and then!
On Friday night we had dinner in Cypress Lakes' "signature restaurant" Pipette. We started with some semi-dried tomato and cheese focaccia, then had pork and fennel sausages on soft polenta with cannelini beans and shared the strawberry shortcake. We tried our best to get through a bottle of Briar Ridge Shiraz, but didn't quite make it! Thank goodness the resort supplies a shuttle service to transport guests from villa to restaurant and back again!
We really enjoyed the food, but the restaurant was so cold we didn't take off our coats during the meal!!! (Even after drinking all that Shiraz!)
On Saturday morning we enjoyed a full buffet breakfast - juice, fruit, bircher muesli, bacon, scrambled eggs and cooked mushrooms for me (!). Then we hopped on a shuttle bus to the Golden Door Spa. We both enjoyed a Swedish massage followed by a Facial A-La-Carte. Pure bliss!
Tomorrow I'll blog about some of the other things we did outside the resort!

I get knocked down, but I get up again

The upstairs villa is the one that my friend and I stayed in this weekend for our luxury girls' getaway. We had a wonderful time, everything was fantastic, but I don't feel up to going into details right now because my mind and emotions are in turmoil. Just before leaving on Friday, I opened my mail to find out that I had failed one of my uni assignments. I put it out of my mind so that I could enjoy myself over the weekend, but now that I'm back and have read the comments all over again, I'm quite upset.
I'm going to follow up a few queries I have with the lecturer, but I don't imagine it will get me any more marks! I'll just feel better to have voiced my concerns.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Assignment return freak out!

Even though I have finished all this semester's work, I've been keeping in touch with what's going on at uni via the forums. Today I noticed a post by the lecturer stating that some assignments were already on their way back. Sure enough, when I checked further, I found out that my assignment was posted back to me today!
AAAARGH! I should have it tomorrow or Thursday and will know for sure whether or not I have passed ETL503. Which will be great if I have a good result, but a real bummer if I don't. It's even possible (I don't think very likely, but who knows?) that I have performed so badly that I have failed the course. Then I will have a supplementary assignment to worry about - YUCK!
What is my goal? Ideally I'd like to get 46+ out of 60 (!!!) which should give me a distinction for the subject. Honestly, I'd like to get at least 36 out of 60 which should give me a credit. (Remembering that I got 29 out of 40 for the first assignment.) 503 was definitely the more practical of the two subjects I studied this semester, and I really think I do better with the theory. We'll see...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Here we all are on our long weekend at Foster. I'm the one wearing sunglasses, my husband is beside me in a black polo shirt. Our son is in front of me and our daughter in front of hubby.
We had glorious weather, so the kids were able to swim in the holiday village's pool both Saturday and Sunday, even though it is winter and the pool was not heated!!! Other activities included putt putt golf, riding scooters, fish and chips in the park, ten pin bowling and canoeing and aquabiking.
Our kids absolutely loved being away with other families and always having friends nearby. The highlight for them was Saturday night (my favourite too). We put all the kids into our cabin and armed them with nintendo ds's and dvd's. All the adults then headed two doors up to the Stuart's cabin to play Cranium and cards. We pulled the plug at 10.30pm when we decided we wanted to evict all the children (except our own) from our cabin and go to bed, but a fabulous time was had by all. Something we'll definitely do again.
Beat the worst of the traffic home, and have already put two loads of washing through! Just doing an easy pasta dish for dinner.
Finished What was she thinking? while I was away, so will try to write a review tomorrow.
Wonder how the markers are doing with my assignments???

Friday, June 5, 2009

I sent off a job application yesterday. It's for a part time Branch Officer in a Public Library. Go me!
I'm also trying to pack for our weekend away. I HATE getting ready to go away. I make lists, but always feel like I've forgotten something, and always seem to have to be the one in the family that thinks of everything. (I know, I'm the Mum, that's my job.) But I really hate having to tell everyone else what they need to pack - Have you got a hat? Enough socks? Your hairbrush? - as well as organising all the "family stuff" like the first aid kit (with my family we always need it), folding chairs, sunscreen, towels etc. What bliss it will be next weekend when I only have to pack for myself and go!
I have almost finished What was she thinking? (Notes on a Scandal) by Zoe Heller. It is fantastic! Not fantastic in the sense of swooning over handsome vampires (!!!) but fantastically well written with great insight into human relationships and wonderfully real characters. I will review it when I'm finished.
Alana is now onto Breaking Dawn, the last of the Twilight saga. It's nice being able to talk about the books with her.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hooray, hooray!

My last assignment for the semester has been submitted! You can't believe the feeling of relief that it inspires. I didn't really know how much it was affecting me until I clicked on "submit" and felt the weight rise off my shoulders.

I have finished reading Life Expectancy and will post a short review on my guestbook. I have never really written a book review before, guess I should have thought of that before I got this crazy idea that I'd like my blog to feature book reviews! (I think I was hoping that I'd provide a forum to host other people's reviews.)
I have been back to the local library and borrowed a couple more books: The Surrogate by Judith Henry Wall and What was she Thinking? (Notes on a Scandal) by Zoe Heller. I find it difficult to choose when all the books are spine-out in bookcases. I like it better when some are displayed face-out so I can use the cover to help me decide if I want to pick up the book and inspect it more closely! I think I'll work on a "Plan To Read" list so that I never have to wander aimlessly around the library again.
My daughter is moving quickly through the Twilight saga, she is now on to the third book Eclipse. They did grab her after all. This morning they showed a trailer for New Moon on the Today show, I caught a glimpse of it and cried out, "Quick Alana, they're showing a New Moon trailer!" and she came running. When it is released it will make a nice mother/daughter outing!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Community of Bloggers

Why don't you visit one of the blogs that I follow? Just click on the links in My Blog List on the right hand side of the page. Most of them are book review blogs that I have discovered by following links on other blogs that I follow. There's a real community of bloggers out there, and once you find one blog that you like, it's not hard to find many more.
Speaking of blogs I like, check out this post by Ruth over at Skerricks! Go on, have a giggle!
On a more serious note, this article in the Sun Herald yesterday. What a shame Roy didn't manage to work in a comment about the amazing batch of budding teacher librarians he's got this year!!!