Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bendigo Writers Festival - events to attend

Okay, first of all, I need to say, this program looks amazing! There are so many events I want to attend, not least of all the opening session with Malcolm Fraser and the session with Denise Scott, hosted by Michael Williams from the Wheeler Centre.

There are two sessions running first thing on Saturday (at 9:30am) that I want to attend. Argh! I hate when that happens! How to Make Believe is a fantasy panel session and What Children Want, What Children Need is about quality in children's literature. I love fantasy and I love children's literature - which session to go to?! Oh well, I suppose it will depend on which session is closest to the cafe - I'll need a hot chocolate, that early on a wintry Bendigo morning!

I have always admired societies who venerated intellectuals, and listened to smart men and women. I think that this session, When Australians Think Out Loud, Does Anybody Listen? looks pretty interesting. It's on Saturday at 11:15am.

What Matters More, the Speech Writing or the Delivery? is a session running on Saturday at 12:30pm. I love hearing people talk with passion, and will listen to pretty much anyone talk about pretty much anything if they can capture my attention! For me, it's a combination of the speech itself, and the delivery, but I'm certainly interested to see this session and hear what others think.

In another potential double-booking, at the same time as the session above, there is a session on the future library, called Not Just Books. The Head of the State Library of Victoria, Sue Roberts, is on this panel, and I'm excited to hear what she has to say. Oh, if only I could get my hands on a TARDIS!

Writing can be very personal, but where do you draw the line in writing about family members? See what the experts have to say in Family Matters, on Saturday at 3:45pm.

I am of the opinion that education is the best way to solve some of the biggest problems in our society, and I wonder about how the Internet could help better with that. At the moment, it seems like it simply gives some people a place to share their nastiness, so I am very interested in a panel called Has Our Cultural Golden Age Ended? This panel is on first thing Sunday morning at 9:30am.

One of the big reasons I went to the Bendigo Writers Festival last year was to see the magnificent Megan Burke. I had been reading her blog, Literary Life, for years, and she and I actually became friends in real life, which is so wonderful! Megan's passion for books is so admirable, and although she is taking a break from her blog for now, it still contains so many wonderful posts and is definitely worth taking a visit. It looks like Megan is doing another session this year, appropriately called New Ways To Be Outrageous, about social media. This is a must see for me, both on a personal level, as I love Megan, and because I have my own blog now! It's on Sunday at 1:15pm, I'll definitely be at this session!

Right after that session is another one I'd like to see, Unbecoming. I, like a lot of others, have been watching over the past few months as women in the public eye seem to take far more than their share of abuse, which often rises to a horrifically vitriolic level, and becomes intensely personal (such as threats to rape and kill the woman herself, and her family members). I just can't understand this kind of behaviour - it's just not in me to behave that way to a perfect stranger. I'm so glad lots of other people feel the same way I do! The session description says "In the wake of powerful debates about sexism and equal rights, Dennis Altman, Andrea Goldsmith and Monica Dux talk with Shannon Kerrigan about what's changed for men and women and why."

Poetry Slam is on Sunday 5:00pm, and as I said in my first post, one of my aims this year is to read more poetry. Well, going to a Poetry Slam counts! This looks like lots of fun, and it's on late on Sunday, so I can justify staying Sunday night and coming home on Monday! Yay!

I will say that I found the program quite tricky to read online. The daily version just lists the events by title, and you have to click each title and open it to see when it runs and where it is being held. Aha, I've just found an easy to read PDF version here. When I went to the Festival last year, they had paper copies of the program that were easy to pick up pretty much anywhere in town. I really am a fan of a paper version for a program like this - I love to circle the events I want to attend and plan out breaks to visit the bookshop, the coffee shop and the toilets! All the essentials, in other words.

I'd also like to see more information about each speaker listed. Most authors have simple biographies they could post on the page, so that you are sure exactly who the author is. It would have been good to have them included.

Alrighty, I am off to check out the official Bendigo Tourism website, and the unofficial guide to Bendigo, sweetly called I heart Bendigo. I hope to see you at the Bendigo Writers Festival!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bendigo Writers Festival

This is just a quick post to say that the program for the Bendigo Writers Festival has been released and is online here.

I will be putting up a proper post about the program later this weekend, but I went to the very first Bendigo Writers Festival last year, and had the most amazing time. Bendigo is such a fantastic town (city?), and I promised myself that if possible, I would be back this year and would give myself more time in Bendigo.

Off to put in my leave request!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I'm Reading: Lirael, by Garth Nix

I have been waiting and waiting to start this blog, and partly it was because I wanted to have a really great book to review first off. Of course, there is no perfect book that will suit everyone! So I decided to just go with a great book I really am reading.

Lirael is the second book in The Old Kingdom series, which begins with Sabriel and ends with Abhorsen, and includes the book of short stories, Across the Wall. The books are written by Garth Nix, a brilliant Australian writer - he has written two of my favourite series, this one and the Keys to the Kingdom series. They are both fantasy series, but The Old Kingdom is Young Adult, while the Keys to the Kingdom is more for younger readers, although you could make a case for YA.

Lirael is part of a bigger story where the Old Kingdom is under threat from a Necromancer who is ensnaring other Necromancers, creating Dead things, and even trying to capture the Prince of the realm, Sameth. Lirael herself is a daughter of the Clayr, a community of women (sister and cousins and aunts) who all have the Sight and can See into the future - except Lirael. She feels increasingly isolated, and ends up becoming a librarian, which gives her something to throw herself into and become passionate about. However, it eventually becomes clear that Lirael's future lies outside the library, and away from the Clayr altogether.

There are magical animals of unknown origin, Dead things, assassination plots, and cool librarians with swords. What's not to love?! Lirael herself is a strong female character, who works through her feelings of despair and worthlessness. She pushes through her natural shyness and reserve to be courageous and even display a sense of humour. Garth Nix's writing is really incredible. He can absolutely create a whole world that feels as real as the one you live in everyday, and characters you feel like you know as well as your own friends.

Lirael is one of my favourite books, and especially since I got my copy signed by the author!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome to the blog!

Hello and welcome! It's lovely to have you here with me.

I am Jessica, and this is my space to talk about books. Books that I'm reading and that I loved, and books that I don't think did their job well, and books I think everyone should read and books I wish I had read.

I'm also going to talk about book-ish things - libraries, authors, book launchs, exhibitions, other blogs. I have signed up for newsletters about books from all over the world, so I'll share any interesting tidbits I get from those, too.

I love to read all sorts of books, both fiction and non-fiction. My favourite genre is Young Adult, especially YA Fantasy. I also love stories of survival, like after a shipwreck, or a plane crash. Bonus points if cannibalism is mentioned! I really love reading about World War II, I find it a fascinating period of time, with amazing examples of self-sacrifice and heroism and utter nastiness and horror. It just feels like a really specific time period that encapsulates absolutely the best and the worst of humanity.

Following on from my fascination with WWII, I want to read more poetry. Some really wonderful poetry was written by men in the mud and blood and the nightmare of the trenches, poetry that can fill your spirit and carry you away on a dream. I want to read the poetry from the trenches. And I want to read Australian poetry too. I have always admired people who are able to recite poetry and I want to be able to do that.

I have not been spending a lot of time in real-life bookstores lately, which is another thing I want to change. I have been getting a lot of books from the library and re-reading some of my old favourites, but I also know there's so many amazing books coming out all the time and it's important to keep up with those. My favourite bookstore is Reader's Feast, which I loved when they were in a slightly tricky-to-find spot on Bourke street, and which I completely adore now that they are in the gorgeous former George's building on Collins street. There are lots of others I love too, Dymocks on Collins street, Hill of Content, Readings in Hawthorn and Readings at the State Library of Victoria.

I'll try to keep things mostly book related, but I'll probably stray occasionally. For instance, I love Melbourne. I mean, really, I love Melbourne a lot. And there are so many book-ish things to do in Melbourne! So I'll definitely be talking about my own beautiful city, Melbourne.

This is your space to talk about books too - if you have thoughts on a post of mine, please do share! When I worked in a bookstore, my favourite thing to do was talk to people and find the perfect book to recommend to them. If you need a book to read, let me know what you've read lately and loved, or what area you want to get into, and I'll see what I can do. I luckily have some very talented friends who will probably jump in with suggestions too.

This is really just an introductory post, but I'll be back soon with a review or two to share.