▼ Main Reviewers
I had the idea to start this website because I wanted to learn a bit about website design. I suggested reviews because I've been an avid reader all my life and I knew that reviewing would give us an endless source of new material to post.
I studied English literature and Communications many years ago, now. I worked as an English teacher for 25 years.
I prefer 'literature' rather than genre fiction, and I enjoy reading non-fiction, too. However, I try to read a variety of books. My reviews tend to be favourable since I choose which books I wish to read and review, unlike a professional reviewer.
My site tag is taken from my love of mountain biking. The Blue Mountains west of Sydney is a great place to do this. Unfortunately, as I get older, I've become unfit. I tend to work on this site and read books more these days.
I once received an email addressed to the "staff of the Reading Project". That amused me, since there is really only three of us and we make no money from this site. It's just a hobby.
REAL NAME: Mark
I enjoy reading and thought that reviewing for this website would encourage me to read more often. Bikerbuddy and I came up with the idea while we discussed reading challenges we were seeing on social media.
I studied physics and have taught physics at university. I have worked as a scientist, but in my later career I now work for the government.
I like a range of fiction and non-fiction books, and I think this shows in the books I have reviewed for this site so far.
However, my favourite genre is Crime Fiction. I have read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie novels. I prefer the cosy detective branch of Crime Fiction most.
My site tag is based upon my real name.
REAL NAME: Victoria
I am a retired teacher who taught Social Sciences in high school, with a focus on Geography and Asian Studies, initially, but Legal Studies and Business Studies later on. I still work a day a week in a Blue Mountains school.
Now, I like spending my time with family, friends and Lucy, our wonder dog, watching movies and TV series, traveling as much as possible and getting out geocaching (a worldwide treasure hunt using a GPS to find things).
When I get time (though I’m mostly retired, there often isn’t a lot of it) I like to read books that are funny, especially those aimed at women. I also like crime thrillers and more recently, biographies. I also keep my brain active with my daily dose of word games.
My site tag is abased on a joke name I was given years ago. It is based on my love of chocolate rather than anything nefarious.
REAL NAME: Jenny
▼ Occasional Reviewer
Bojan the Librarian is the creator of the Neocities site Bojan the Librarian, which hosts a number of pages devoted to a variety of topics, from books, gardening, horror films, and includes a personal blog.
▼ Former Reviewers
I have a degree in Graphic Arts and I spend most of my free time on the Net playing video games.
I've taken my reviewer name from the username I use on gaming sites.
‘Gigzymandias’ is a combination of computer terminology (eg ‘gigabytes’) and ‘Ozymandias’, the title of the poem by Percy Shelley, which was a large inspiration for my final year art major work in high school.
Gigzymandias reached world number 1 rank for Doom Eternal in November 2021. On 27 November 2021 he competed in Friday Night Fights: Battlemode which is available to see on YouTube. He is interviewed after his win. If you're interested to watch it, follow this link, then skip 8 minutes and 12 seconds from the beginning in, to get past the wait screen.
Gigzymandias also has his own YouTube channel.
REAL NAME: Lachlan
I am an entity who enjoys reading and writing words, occasionally pictures. I used to pay a big organization to read and write words for four years. Later, I was paid to write words by a smaller organization. Now I have a strictly sexual relationship with words and the writing of them, no organizations allowed.
I was originally born as a Ford 3910 Tractor but thanks to hard work, the socioeconomic status of my family, and the gift of a multi-directional energy stone from a mysterious stranger who simply addressed himself as "M. Jordan," I was able to transmogrify into a mostly human looking male, though my features are distinctly more abstract and "alarming" than the current pinnacle of human male desirability, one Mr. John Stamos.
I'm hoping that reviewing books for this webterzone will be my ticket to strike it rich. I've packed up all my belongings into my wagon and set my compass westward, with nothing else but the dream of gold in my eyes and a song in my heart. Surely a book review at no more than one per month is a fool-proof way to become rich and famous, right?
Hasty is the designer and author of No Happy Nonsense (formerly Hastiest Handiworks - also Shiitake Worsthand - also Strange Crust) another website hosted here on Neocities. It includes essays and opinions, podcasts and fiction. He also writes the weekly fictional newspaper, the Weirdy Word, occasionally publishes Ear Rat Magazine and has started his own book review website, Books in a Dumpster.
REAL NAME: Mike
I'm a former child from California living in Yokohama, Japan. I mainly read historical non-fiction and post-war Japanese novels. Sewing and taking photos on a film camera take up most of my free time. My username is from a sound clip of a friend saying "exceptional pain" later used as a ringtone.
incessantpain is the creator of the Neocities site incessantpain, chock full of personal writing and thoughts.
I like reading, although music and video games take up most of my free time.
I'm a student at the University of Sydney. I am studying speech therapy.
I plan to write more, but other interests usually take up my time.
My site tag is based upon a character in a book I liked when I was a kid.
NickoHeap is the designer and author of Latest Spin, a music review website, and has also begun a YouTube channel of the same name.
REAL NAME: Layton
I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
I have only written one short review for this website. I might write more sometime in the future.
REAL NAME: Niamh (pronounced
Neev (an Irish name))
No one has seen the mysterious Seppy since he posted his one review and then went into hiding from the government.
REAL NAME: Seppy
16 March 2023
Shared Reading at Penrith Library
I attended the Shared Reading session at Penrith Library yesterday afternoon. I wrote about this at the beginning of this month in this blog. The library holds a session each week between one to one and a half hours and the sessions are free. A story is read out and people are invited to discuss it.
I was the last to arrive a few minutes before the published starting time. I was greeted with the comment, “Our first man!” I looked about the room and acknowledged that indeed, I was. Of course, what was really meant was that men haven’t attended these sessions so far. Samantha the librarian (I think I have her name right – I’m terrible at quickly remembering names) explained that the sessions started late last year. Yesterday, there was only three of us, not including the librarian. Apparently there had been a large turnout last week – a fact that one of the ladies affirmed – when Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’ was read. Lawson is famous in Australia as one of our early colonial writers.
Yesterday, Samantha introduced us to a writer none of us had heard of: Adam Thompson, an Aboriginal writer from Launceston, Tasmania. The short story was ‘Honey’ which appears in Thompson’s book of collected short stories, Born into This, which largely deals with Aboriginal experience in the modern world, according to the blurb I found on the internet. ‘Honey’ details the relationship between Nathan, a man of Aboriginal lineage, and Sharkey, who has some beehives to transport in his ute, and who has some decidedly off-colour attitudes to Aboriginal heritage. Without going into detail, the story could be described as nature exacting a good dollop of karma on the predatory Sharkey.
We also read Margaret Atwood’s poem ‘Salt’, which I haven’t read before. It’s about enjoying the now as well as appreciating the life you have lived, to simplify it.
And I wasn’t limited to only listening to the reading. Samantha supplied us with photocopies of the story and the poem which we were able to keep. So I was able to read along, which is more natural for me.
The session lasted an hour yesterday. Samantha said the sessions tend to last the full hour and a half with larger groups, because they generate more discussion. And that’s fair, because I didn’t contribute much to the discussion yesterday. I must have looked like a dummy. But I didn't feel what I had to say fitted well with what was being discussed, and I didn't want to be the only bloke in the room dominating the conversation.
The early finish turned out well. My son had a day off and he’d caught a lift into Penrith with me. As we finished he sent me a text saying he was about to catch a train home. I told him I was available. I discovered him waiting for me with several purchases, the largest of which was LEGO’s Rivendell set with over 6000 pieces! I think the back of the car dropped when we put it in. But I reflected that that was better than thousands of angry bees!
15 March 2023
Booker International Longlist 2023 Announced
The International Booker Longlist was announced today. We have an ongoing Special Reading Project on this website to read and review all the Booker winners, including books we have read in the past. The details for that project can be found here.
Of course, each year sees two new titles added to that project as the International Booker and Booker Prizes are announced. I’m hoping to get a few more read from the list this year besides this year’s winners. My plan is that I will read them alphabetically by author. Which means Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger will be the next I read. After that I have Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and A.S. Byatt’s Possession, and then onwards. I’ve actually read these first three books before, but I can hardly review them based upon my memory of years ago. In fact, the two after that – Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang and Oscar and Lucinda – will also be rereads. Oscar and Lucinda is one of my favourite Booker winners.
You can find full details of the International Booker Prize here.
Here is this year’s Longlist:
- Ninth Building, Zou Jingzhi (trans. Jeremy Tang) [Chinese]
- A System So Magnificent it is Blinging, Amanda Svensson (trans. Nicholas Smalley) [Swedish]
- Stillborn, Gaudalupe Nettel (trans. Rosalind Harvey) [Mexican]
- Pyre, Perumal Murugan (trans. Aniruddhan Vasudevan) [Indian]
- While We Were Dreaming, Clemens Meyer (trans. Katy Derbyshire) [German]
- The Birthday Party, Laurent Mauvignier (trans. Daniel Levin Becker) [French]
- Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv, Andrey Kurkov (trans. Reuben Woolly) [Russian]
- Is Mother Dead, Vigdis Hjorth (trans. Charlotte Barslund) [Norwegian]
- Standing Heavy, GauZ’ (trans. Frank Wynne) [Ivorian]
- Time Shelter, Georgi Gospodinov (trans. Angela Rodel) [Bulgarian]
- The Gospel According to the New World, Maryse Condé (trans. Richard Philcox) [Guadeloupean]
- Whale, Cheon Myeong-kwan (trans. Ch-Young Kim) [South Korean]
- Boulder, Eva Baltasar (trans. Julia Sanches) [French]
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday, April 18. The winning title will be announced on May 23.
14 March 2023
My Morning Stroll
It’s cool here in the mountains this morning after a day of steady rain yesterday. Before that, summer seemed to have finally stirred during the first days of our autumn, giving us a few hot days and even a few warm nights. It’s supposed to begin to warm up again tomorrow, so I thought it would be a good morning to get out for a walk while the clouds are only threatening and the temperatures are low.
A typical morning walk for me takes me further up the road towards Faulconbridge before I turn into the backstreets to begin a loop that takes me back to the Springwood shops, where I turn (or I may go a little further as I did today to a place I call ‘The Amazon’: a vacant block overrun with trees and weeds) and then return home. The shorter route is approximately five thousand steps. It takes me past a house I refer to as the ‘back-to-front house’, as well as two street libraries. The back-to-front house is strange because its front isn’t visible from the street. It faces back into the property while the electricity box and hot water service face the street. It’s quite weird to look at.
(I have many other colourfully named landmarks on my walks. For instance, there is the ‘walls of Troy’ (a house with high garden walls constructed with rock) , the ‘crash test house’ (a car once ploughed into it at speed and it had to be rebuilt) as well as ‘the abomination’, a recently built house that poked its tongue out at the style police and settled on almost the entire area of its small block, as though architecture had been weaponised.)
The first street library is in the street at the back of our block. It currently features as one of the pictures that change on our About/Blog page. I don’t normally look at it because it’s so close to home. But I didn’t have Lucy, the Reading Project dog with me today, so I stopped to take a look and found two Brontë sister books, Jane Eyre and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’ve never read the second book, so I decided to take it, despite not being a fan of the first book or Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. I found myself in the same camp as Jasper Fforde’s characters in his Thursday Next series, who didn’t like the ending of Jane Eyre, and I just couldn’t stand the characters in Wuthering Heights, even though I know that shouldn’t be the measure of the novel. But I’ve had this idea that I might read a bit more 19th century fiction over the next few years, so I took Anne Brontë’s novel. It may take a few years to get to it, but I am nothing if not full of hopeful intentions.
12 March 2023
I wrote almost a week ago that Badgermein from a new Neocities website, Web Weekly, contacted me about doing an interview about the Reading Project. I appreciated the contact and thought it was great that we could contribute to this new website. I elected to write my answers to the interview questions, since I tend to ramble and follow irrelevant thoughts when I speak (some say I do that when I write!) I tried really really hard to keep my answers succinct, even though rambling is what I inevitably do. Anyway, I received an email from Badgermein this morning. The interview will be up today.
I understand that many will have learned as much about the Reading Project and the strange people who run it over the last few years as they want to know. But it would be nice to pop in and at least see what Badgermein is putting together, even if you just skim over my ramblings. This is a link to the interview, or you can go to Web Weekly’s main page by clicking here.
11 March 2023
Shared Reading Session
I wrote at the beginning of the month about Shared Reading sessions held each week at Penrith Library. I missed last week also, but I have finally got myself organised this morning and have booked myself in for this week’s session on the 15th. I’ll make a report in this blog once I’ve been.
9 March 2023
Women's Prize 2023 Longlist Announced
The longlist for the 28th Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced in time for International Women’s Day. This is awarded annually to a female author of any nationality for the best original full-length novel written in English and published in the UK in the preceding year.
Sixteen books are on this year’s longlist:
- Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris
- Children of Paradise by Camilla Grudova
- Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh
- Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
- Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
- Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
- Homesick by Jennifer Croft
- I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel
- Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
- Pod by Laline Paull
- Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes
- The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
- The Dog of the North by Elizabeth McKenzie
- The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
- Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
- Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin
The shortlist will be announced on 27 April and the winner announced on 14 June.
This year a sister prize, the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction has also been launched. This new award was announced in February 2023 and will first be awarded in 2024, for books published in 2023.
6 March 2023
Last week I was contacted by Badgermein from Web Weekly, asking to do an interview and profile on the Reading Project. Web Weekly is a new website on Neocities. Badgermein says the site’s intended purpose is, “to showcase other websites, as well as interview the webmaster(s) when possible.”
Reading Project will be the first website featured on Web Weekly. I just completed the interview this morning. I’m not sure when it will be posted to Badgermein’s site, but when it is I’ll provide a link to it in this blog. Meanwhile, if I haven’t provided enough links to Web Weekly already, here’s another!
1 March 2023
Back in 2015, about a year and a half before we started this website, I had an eye infection which stopped me reading. It was pretty aggressive and I ended up at the Sydney Eye Hospital a few times, trying to get it under control. It was during this period that I tried audio books. We had a few on disc from when our children were younger, but I also purchased a few more for myself. But it was no good trying to listen to them at the eye hospital where I had to listen for my name to be called, so waiting, sometimes for hours, was pretty boring when I couldn’t read. But when I could listen to them, I found I wasn’t very good at following audio books. Without the words in front of me I found my mind kept wandering or I would fall asleep, meaning I had difficulty following.
I was reminded of this experience the other day when I was at Westfield in Penrith. There is a community notice board near the toilets and I found a flyer advertising ‘Shared Reading’ at Penrith Library each Wednesday. Apart from being a reading strategy to help children to read, shared reading is a thing for adults, I discovered, in which you could attend a session in the library, have a story read to you, and then discuss it with others if you wanted. I had hoped I might attend a session today, but I forgot to book myself in. So that’s something I might do in the weeks ahead. It would be interesting to see how I handle listening to a story, when I have already found my mind wandering in the past. If I make it to a session, I’ll write about how I did in another blog post.
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