About the Reading Project

We started the Reading Project at the beginning of 2017. Bikerbuddy was interested to learn website design and has had a lifelong passion for books, so he encouraged it. We told friends we would be starting a website and invited anyone interested to contribute. Naturally, a stack of people opted in, knowing that none of us knew anything about websites, I suspect, and assuming that we would lose interest in a short time. When we didn't lose interest and started to get a few pages together, we found there was actually only three of us willing to review regularly.

We had read about reading challenges on social media that tried to encourage reading a wide variety of books in a year. We wanted this site to be more encouraging than competitive, so we called it a project, rather than a challenge. While most of our friends haven't written for the site, we still encourage them to look at it and engage in discussions about books, which was the site's original intention.

We all live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in a town called Springwood. The pictures scrolling below try to give a sense of where we live. We'll add some more as time goes on.

We will happily accept reviews from anyone interested enough to write one. For more information on how to submit reviews to us, click here.

The Turning Page Bookstore, Springwood

A Street Library, Springwood

Dr Baxter Gates, Springwood War Memorial

Springwood Presbyterian Church and main street of Springwood shops

Springwood Train Station

Braemar Gallery, home to Springwood art exhibitions and library, and The Hub, used for live entertainment

Main Reviewers

bikerbuddy

bikerbuddy

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

Toriaz

Toriaz

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

WaywardWoman

WaywardWoman

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 Reviewers

Hasty

Hasty

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 Hastiest Handiwork, another website hosted here on Neocities. It includes essays and opinions, podcasts and fiction.


REAL NAME: Mike

NickoHeap

NickoHeap

I'm 20 years old and 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.

REAL NAME: Layton

One-time Reviewers

Gigzymandias

Gigzymandias

I'm 22 years old with a degree in Graphic Arts. I spend most of my free time on the Net playing video games, mostly Rainbow 6 Siege.

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.

REAL NAME: Lachlan

Raven

Raven

I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and attend high school.

My passion is dancing. I have been attending a dance school since I was little, learning both contemporary and classical dance, including ballet. I have only recently gone en pointe.

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))

Seppy

Seppy

No one has seen the mysterious Seppy since he posted his one review and then went into hiding from the government.

REAL NAME: Seppy

Blog Contributions

6 April 2020

One positive about the coronavirus lockdowns around the world has been all the material posted online by various artists, to help everyone stay entertained and to feel connected. There have been impromptu concerts and dance offs, and musicians performing from their homes (such as Lin-Manuel Miranda performing songs from Hamilton), as well as many theatres and opera houses streaming recorded performances.

And books haven’t been left out. I've just enjoyed listening to Dolly Parton readingThe Little Engine That Could on her YouTube channel ‘Goodnight With Dolly. Dolly Parton started a charity called Imagination Library back in 1996 which supports literacy and has given over 130 million free books to children over the years. Also, Neil Gaiman has given LeVar Burton blanket permission to read any of his (Neil's) books out during this period. Click here for the first one, the short story ‘Chivalry’.

My favourite has been my daily dose of Patrick Stewart reading Shakespeare’s sonnets. Some of these are available on YouTube. Click here to see Sonnet 1. The full set can be found on either his twitter or Facebook accounts. Just search for him by name.

Of course, Patrick Stewart could probably read the back of a Cornflakes packet and make it sound interesting [ed. Did you just dis Shakespeare?] His voice as he reads the sonnets is soothing and a comfort in this unsettled time. I could listen to these all day.

-Toriaz

3 April 2020

International Booker Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the International Booker Prize has been announced, with just six books of the original 124 books making it. The list includes novels originally written in Spanish, German, Dutch, Farsi and Japanese. The winner of the International Booker Prize will be announced on 19 May. I haven’t read any of these books, so I have no predictions to make. However, as part of our ongoing Booker Project, I will try to review the winner as soon as I can.

  • The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Farsi – Iran), with an anonymous translator
  • The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Spanish – Argentina), translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh
  • Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (German – Germany), translated by Ross Benjamin
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Spanish – Mexico), translated by Sophie Hughes
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japanese – Japan), translated by Stephen Snyder
  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Dutch – Netherlands), translated by Michele Hutchison

-bikerbuddy

2 April 2020

I’ve recently bought a lot of books: more than I normally have been purchasing since we started the Reading Project and far more than I can keep up with. This led to the purchase of new book shelves, the putting together of bookshelves and a continual rearrangement of the books in said shelves. This hasn’t been helped by the Coronavirus, since my eldest daughter realised that one of the shelves was a good height for her to use as a bar to practise her ballet while her ballet school is closed. The books had to come out and be moved elsewhere.

With all this going on I decided to make a TO BE READ list of some of my books as a sign of my intentions. These are the books I hope to get around to reading in the next few months or years. There will probably be additions. 🙂

I asked bikerbuddy to redesign my Reviewer page to include my list. My revamped Reviewer page can be viewed here or through the menu at the top of pages in this website.

-Toriaz

1 April 2020

I had a query from Amy in Portland, Oregon, the other day about an old book I loved when I was a kid: The Black Hand Gang by H.J.Press. I read the book when I was in primary school. It was a favourite among all my friends. The Black Hand Gang are Frank, Angela, Ralph and Keith. They solve crimes. My copy combines four stories, The Mysterious House, The Treasure at Breezy Lake, The Smuggler’s Tunnel and A Theft at the Zoo. Each story is divided into about a dozen chapters, each a page long with a facing illustration. Each illustration is a detailed imagining of the world of The Black Hand Gang, with clues to solve the mystery, like this:

The first chapter of The Mysterious House

Apparently, the stories were also sold separately. Amy had found two of the stories, but she was looking for the final two for her son.

A few years ago, I realised I had somehow lost my copy of this much beloved book sometime over the decades, so I set about trying to find a copy. The book is out of print, but I did manage to secure a second-hand copy for a fairly hefty price. As a result of my search, I also found that a fan had preserved the book in the form of a game (you read the book and respond to the question). It’s listed as a Freeware. I’ve downloaded it myself and played the game without any issues. Those interested might want to give it a go!

The Black Hand Gang

Press the button to download the Black Hand Gang File:

Alternately, you can download the game from Adventure Game Studio.

-bikerbuddy

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