First Birthday! Danielisreading turns one!

No post on Sundays! Well, not my normal post anyway, this post marks the first big milestone of this blog…

Well today is the day this blog becomes a year old! And what a journey it has been, and it feels like such a long time since I began! I started with Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, and loved it, it was very different and quite unusual (I will eventually get around to the TV miniseries, that is on my to-do list). Before I moved on, I covered the ‘top 10’ short stories, which is an idea I will repeat at sometime, as short stories (are short so easy to cover in one post) are an important aspect of storytelling, and are just as important in the literary scene as novels. Then I moved onto The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which I had read before, but rereading it was amazing, as it is such a beautiful book, and he is a fantastic author. After reading more about Nazi Germany, I was influenced by The Book Thief to try to read Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler himself, but that was such a dry read, I gave up. I may read the entire book eventually and comment in one post, but that is not high on my list of things to do. I grant that it was immensely interesting, it just wasn’t enjoyable, and wasn’t something I wanted to cover on here extensively. Now I have been working my way through The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody. I started with Obernewtyn, then The Farseekers, then Ashling and now The Keeping Place. I love them, and cannot wait for the next two novels, The Stone Key and The Sending. Of course once the final book, The Red Queen, arrives, I will cover it, but the release date is not known (note that The Red Queen is actually the title for the second half of The Sending in the US, because that book has been cut in two, very confusing, and Isobelle Carmody is working on trying to fix that major issue) but it is tentatively set as sometime in 2013. But I do warn you to take that with some reservation, as The Sending‘s release date was pushed back many months, and with Isobelle Carmody, she takes her time, which I hate but love. Because she makes sure she gets it the way SHE wants, not what the editors want, not what the publishers want, and she is pretty ‘flexible’ with her timeline of publication. And recently I have been posting about The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling, her first ‘adult’ novel, and let me tell you, it is most certainly and ADULT novel! Currently the posts are alternating between The Casual Vacancy and The Keeping Place, and that will continue until I finish The Casual Vacancy.

I have no plans to continue alternating, I would rather focus on a single book/series and work my way through that. And it can get slightly confusing when you are reading two books for the blog, and then another one or two for ‘personal’ reading. It can get hard to keep track, but since I don’t have the time to post two posts in one day everyday of the week, I’m happy to alternate, especially considering my The Casual Vacancy posts aren’t like my other ones, instead being one giant list.

What’s next? Well as I said just above, I will continue with The Obernewtyn Chronicles, and since there are still two long books (both are around 1000 pages!) and possible The Red Queen to go, it won’t be for a few months that the Chronicles have been completed. I mentioned previously that I did have plans for what I would do next. One other series I would really like to do is Gone by Michael Grant, and all I really know about it is (rot13.com to decypher, just incase you don’t know about this series, and don’t want to know, the main essence of the book, and I think it would be reveal really early on, but I just want to maintain a spoiler free zone) “Nyy gur nqhygf qvfnccrne, naq gur xvqf ner yrsg gb sraq sbe gurzfryirf.” There are a number of books in that series, so that will take quite some time as well. But another thing I really want to explore, are the Classics. I own quite a few ‘Classics’ because they are usually quite cheap, and who doesn’t love cheap books? So eventually I would like to cover some of ‘the classics’ of the world, and I’m ‘lucky’ because I haven’t read too many of them, so I don’t really know what will happen in them, but I do know of them, so it will be fantastic to see what it is all about! Hope you can join me, when the time comes!

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As is customary with anniversary posts I will give the blog’s stats for the year. This blog had small beginnings, in fact, for the 2011 calendar year (after it was launched) it had a grand total of 78 views! Slowly it grew, and in Janurary 2012, for the month, the blog had 101 views! It was making progress, in that one month, it had views that were more than the previous 2.5 months. I never really expected many views, especially not to begin with, so I wasn’t perturbed. The blog continued to grow until it reached a peak of 340 views in April (finally breaking the average of 10 views per day on average) helped by a tweet by Isobelle Carmody herself, about my announcement that I would be reading The Obernewtyn Chronicles, which I was both grateful and extremely shocked for occurring, I basically hyperventilated when I saw it. There was a slight decrease in May and June, possibly because I started The Obernewtyn Chronicles and there is not such a big fanbase around (though there is an awesome one at obernet) or maybe because I had a bit of a gap in April, readers didn’t find my site as much, who knows. But after June, things steadily began to increase once again.

During September the blog had over 550 views, which blew my mind! That was nearly 20 views per day on average, which was amazing! And I largely attribute that, and this month’s stats to The Casual Vacancy, as people go online to find out more about JK Rowling’s new book, and I am delighted that people have come to my site, and that people have commented and liked and subscribed, that is what makes blogging worth it.And now in October, the blog has had had two days where over 100 views have occurred, which is outstanding. In the first week of October, the blog had 473 views! That was more than any month before September! In one week! Now this month, we have had over 945 views! Nearly a THOUSAND views in less than half a month! I am amazed! The average views for October are 76 per day! That is nearly more than the first two and a half months! In fact, over this year we have had over 3711 views. So a quarter of them have been in the last two weeks!

The location of my readers was only recorded since February 25th, when WordPress started tallying this data for us to see. My most popular country is the USA with 1733 views (so nearly half, so thanks all of you over in America!). Next comes Australia with 575 and then the UK with 190. Though I’ve had views from around 163 countries! Which is incredible!

I don’t know if this sort of view statistics will continue as The Casual Vacancy becomes ‘old news’ but I do hope that this is where a community starts, that sounds corny and I don’t know if that will happen. But I hope that people like coming to my blog, and reading my thoughts and opinions on the books I am reading, and maybe get some enjoyment and happiness out of them. And I’d love if you’d comment and give my your thoughts, they don’t have to agree with mine, I’d like to hear what you have to say about things, and what you’ve picked up. I don’t care if it is about Cloudstreet or Mein Kampf or The Obernewtyn Chronicles or one of the short stories I’ve covered, or one of the books I’ve briefly mentioned that I have read (another one of those will be coming shortly). If you don’t want to comment, or what to tell me something privately or whatever, I have created an email account for you to contact:

danielisreading@gmail.com

If you want to send me suggestions (with little to no spoilers please) feel free to do so, I may not be able to get around to doing them on the blog, but I’ll be sure to check them out eventually. If you want to know if I have read something before plus ratings and some reviews of other books or if you want to know what I’m currently reading and where I am up to, you can check out my goodreads profile, which you can find here (not a link):

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6943202-daniel

Feel free to follow my profile (which will require you to have a goodreads account, which is really handy to keep track of all the books you have read over the years, and what you thought of them). And I have a twitter account, where I tweet when new posts are up, and other random book related stuff too:

https://twitter.com/danielisreading

So thankyou, to everyone who has come and read posts, and commented, and liked, and followed! I really appreciate it, and I hope you can join me as I continue my way through many more books in the future!

Just to finish with two interesting stats tables:

These are the top ten search terms that have landed views on the blog:

Search Views
the devil and daniel webster short story 39
book thief cover 18
the knife never lies 18
saumensch translation 16
the book thief cover 12
“papa sat with me tonight. he brought the accordion down and sat close to where max used to sit. i often look at his fingers and face when he plays. the accordion breathes. there are lines on his cheeks. they look drawn on, and for some reason, when i see them, i want to cry. it is not for any sadness or pride. i just like the way they move and change. sometimes i think my papa is an accordion. when he looks at me and smiles and breathes, i hear the notes.” That is a long one! 11
cloudstreet ending 10
samantha mollison casual vacancy 9
krystal weedon 9
yarvil 8

Here is the 10 most viewed pages:

Home page / Archives 813
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 109
Short Story #4 -The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet 99
Short Story #1 – Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy 79
The Book Thief – Part Ten – The Ribcage Planes 77
Short Story #2 – The Lady Or The Tiger? By Frank Stockton 67
The End of Cloudstreet – The final words, and my thoughts 61
The Book Thief – Prologue – A Mountain Range Of Rubble – Death And Chocolate 59
The Book Thief – Part Four – The Swapping of Nightmares (cont.) 54
The Casual Vacancy – #3 51

Green Monkey Dreams – Isobelle Carmody

Green Monkey Dreams by Isobelle Carmody

EDIT: Though you may not be able to find the book in stores anymore, you can find the book on Allen & Unwin’s website: here Currently it costs $19.99 Australia Dollars, and there is free shipping to Australia and New Zealand. For international shipping, it will cost you $10 for the first book, and $5 for every additional book thereafter (with faster shipping costing $25 for the first book and $10 thereafter). You may find it elsewhere, so check around!

https://danielisreading.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/isobellecarmody-greenmonkeydreams.jpg?w=195
This is the 1996 original cover

Now this book was first published back in 1996, and is actually a collection of 14 short stories, and I guarantee you that these are definitely some of the best, if not the best, short stories you will ever read (if I am wrong, I really want to know which short stories top them!)! It was republished this year, and I have been informed that it is now out of print, so if you are going to snap up a copy, you need to do so quickly. I am lucky enough to have just received a signed copy of the book from Isobelle Carmody herself for my contributions to the ‘Great E-Book debate‘ as part of her relaunch of another of her books ‘Greylands’ which is now available as an ebook and will be available later this year as a paperback (that site is now ‘closed’, as it was only up for just over a month but the site still exists). Some stores would have already run out of the print of ‘Green Monkey Dreams’ so you may have to do some hunting around to find a copy, but it is well worth the effort. (It is not available/no copies left on Amazon or the Book Depository at the moment, but is available at ‘Dymocks‘ in Australia). Or of course, a friend might have a copy or a local library (if you are lucky enough to have access to one with a copy)!

I am going to start spoiling a bit, so if you intend to read the book/buy your own copy, and don’t want to be spoiled at all (I won’t be doing too much though), stop reading now!!!, otherwise I’ll start by describing the book.

The 14 short stories would be amazing on their own (and in fact some of them were published in various places) but together they are fantastic. They aren’t majorly connected to one another, but there is recurring themes and little things (you’ll see if you read it) that appear over a couple of the stories. Now they are all fantasy, some are more out there than others, whereas some are definitely more real life but have a fantastical element to them. I won’t go into too much detail because I really don’t want to ruin anyone’s experience for them, because it is really a book you need to experience yourself. But I will say that some of the stories are haunting and sometimes shocking. They are all food for thought, and really do leave you thinking and wondering.

The ebook cover on the left, and the Ford Street paperback cover on the right
The ebook cover on the left, and the Ford Street paperback cover on the right

One thing I cannot stress enough is that Isobelle Carmody is an amazing, fantastic, awesome, inspirational fantasy writer. She creates such detailed worlds (14 of them in this book, that is an achievement in itself) over and over again, and they are all different. I cannot even imagine how she came up with these ideas and how she was able to put them together so well. Now I have to warn you that you may need an open mind to read this book, the first short story is quite out there (maybe a more real world one could have been put, but I don’t think that would have worked, because those were saved for some really powerful moments) and it may force some readers to walk away from the test, which would be really sad. Don’t get me wrong, it is a brilliant short story, but for those not familiar with Isobelle Carmody, and not really enjoying ‘full on’ fantasy, it might be confronting to have such an new and unfamiliar world thrust upon you (and there is only limited time to introduce a world, as these are short stories, with a combined page total just over 300). You may be slightly confused at first, but for me I was able to get into the worlds quickly and enjoy them. There are many surprises along the way (which I will not spoil) which blew me away, and I had not expected them to happen. It is not a kid’s book, I’m calling that now, and it deals with some mature themes (though there is no real swearing or sexual content or graphic scenes, some things a child or even young teen might be too confronted by to read) and I think it highlights that fantasy is not just for children, and Isobelle Carmody is the prime example of that.

I also think that it is a book that you should not be rushing through, you need to take your time, and split up the short stories, so you can have some time to ponder and digest each one. I think it is also of great benefit to re-read the stories, because there are surely going to be things you have missed. I have to say that this is my favourite collection of short stories, and I am so glad to have been able to read it, and I urge you to find a copy and enjoy.

There is another collection of short stories by Isobelle Carmody called ‘Metro Winds’ and this is much more easy to get a copy of as this year was the first publication. I have not read it yet, but if it is anything like Green Monkey Dreams, it will be amazing, I have a copy, and will report back once I have got a chance to read it all. In other literary news, I am currently reading ‘Without Warning’ by John Birmingham (another Australian author, I swear I don’t just read Australian books!) which is part of a trilogy of books, it is swet back in 2002-3 just before the start of the Iraq war/invasion and something big happens (if you want an idea, find the book/google it and read the blurb, or even just find out what the second book is called) and that event causes huge shock-waves around the world. It is a dense, detailed novel, but well worth a read!

“The Keeping Place’ starts tomorrow!!!