Guess who came to dinner: James Patterson in Australia

Rafe's Aussie AdventureThere is a media and reader buzz about James Patterson, the world’s biggest selling author, who is in Australia at the moment.

It was announced on Tuesday that Patterson is giving grants of $500 to $5000 to independent bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, to a total of $100,000. This is an extremely generous gift from this philanthropic author and is part of Patterson’s mission to stimulate children’s reading. The bookshops that receive the grants must have a designated children’s section. There is a simple application form to complete by 5pm Tuesday, 30th June at .

Patterson said, ‘Bookshops guard against a future in which far too many children are illiterate. So many bookstores are already making a difference in their communities and I’m looking to help bookstores who want to do more… This initiative shines a light on literacy. It prompts us to ask: what do we want our future to be and how do we get there?’

Indie bookshops in the US and UK who have received grants  have created a Hogwart’s Hut, a scary children’s book club, a story-telling tent and have carpeted the children’s section of a store in a different colour. Patterson is keen to get the word out about his Australian and NZ grants. He genuinely wants to make a difference to children and teens’ reading.

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I was very fortunate to have lunch with James Patterson in Melbourne yesterday. On my way there I passed bookshops overflowing with his titles. James is on a mission to get and keep kids reading. He believes that reading is the key to literacy and that kids who get to secondary school with low literacy will have trouble surviving. James was also at a cocktail party in Sydney on Tuesday night and the stunning harbour views from the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House were straight out of his just released children’s book Middle School: Rafe’s Aussie Adventure, co-authored by Martin Chatterton.

This Middle School series is packed full of fast paced adventure, humour and illustrations. Each story also has an element of depth through characterisation and issues such as bullying.

Maximum RideMy favourite of his series is Maximum Ride, which begins with The Angel Experiment. The young characters have wings and are advocates of good over evil. When I asked James if he wanted to fly when he was a boy and if he had tried it, his eyes glinted and he told me the story of trying to fly off the second-storey of his barn. He was obviously unsuccessful because he doesn’t remember anything about what happened so it seems he may have had a rather hard landing (or was just too young to remember). His mother had to tell him about it later.

Some of his other series are Middle School: Treasure HuntersI Funny and House of Robots.

James Patterson will be speaking tomorrow night, Friday 8th May, at 8pm as part of the SWF at Sydney Town Hall Swf.org.au/jamespatterson.

Sincere thanks to Random House Australia for giving me the opportunity to meet James. It was a lunch I will always remember.

House of Robots

 

Books with the word ‘Girl’ in the title

In the last two months, I’ve read three books with the word girl in the title. In December I read Gone Girl, in January I read The Girl on the Train and I just finished reading The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan. I started to wonder if this was a recent trend in book titles, but when looking back over books I’ve read in previous years, I discovered plenty of books with the word girl in the title.

Just for fun, I’ve decided to list them here in the order they were read:

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
A young girl is lost in the woods after stepping off the nature trail while walking with her family. She listens to her walkman for comfort and her favourite baseball player, Tom Gordon.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larssonmillennium trilogy Stieg Larsson book covers
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo burst onto the book scene several years ago, and readers couldn’t get enough of the Millennium Trilogy. Lisbeth Salander – genius hacker with a photographic memory, extremely poor social skills and a mysterious past – is an unforgettable character. Together with Blomkvist, they investigate a disappearance.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
This time Blomkvist helps Lisbeth Salander who finds herself in trouble. Knowing the author has passed away in 2004, certainly increased interest in the series.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg LarssonWild Girl Kate Forsyth
The final in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is about ‘the trial’ and I found it the least enjoyable of an otherwise exciting and gripping trilogy.

The Wild Girl
by Kate Forsyth
This is the story of Dortchen Wild, a young girl growing up in the medieval town of Hessen-Cassel in Germany. Dortchen lives next door to the Grimm family; the brothers being famous for their collections of fairytales. It is a little known historical fact that Dortchen told the brothers almost 25% of their stories, this is her story told by Australian author Kate Forsyth.

Cemetery Girl
by David J. Bell
Caitlin is found dirty and dishevelled 4 years after she goes missing and her parents struggle to find out where she’s been all that time.

just_a_girl by Kirsten Krauth
just_a_girl is about fourteen year-old Layla, provocative, daring, reckless and a tease. Set in the Blue Mountains, this is a book for mature readers (in my opinion).Girl on the Train Hawkins

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Blockbuster novel that needs no introduction, also now a major motion picture starring Ben Affleck.

The Girl on the Train
 by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is gaining popularity and is a cracking read with flawed characters. Rachel catches the same train to London each day and enjoys looking at the houses and sometimes imagining the lives of those who live there. One day she sees something that will change her life forever (and it’s not a murder).

The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan
I finished this recently and adored it. If you like the writing style of Australian author Kate Morton then you’ll love The Girl in the Photograph. An historical fiction novel told in the the past and present, this is a haunting and atmospheric mystery.The Girl in the Photograph Kate Riordan cover

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White is on my TBR pile, and almost qualifies, while I’ve given an honourable mention to Kiss the Girls by James Patterson.

So, how many of the titles above have you read? Do you have any books to add to the list? What have I missed?

Christmas haul containing 4 classic novels

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe book cover clothboundAs I pack away my Christmas tree for another year, I took stock today of my Christmas haul of books. I’m planning on reading more classics in 2015 and was fortunate enough to receive a few beautiful clothbound editions for Christmas. I hope you too were lucky enough to receive a book or two at Christmas time, here’s what I received (in alphabetical order by author surname):

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Somehow I didn’t read Robinson Crusoe as a young adult, and it’s one of those books that is always referred to in passing. As I approach my 40s, I thought it was time to pick up Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and this clothbound classic edition will make a wonderful addition to my bookshelf.

Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyFrankenstein Mary Shelley clothbound classic cover
I’ve read a few horror novels in my time as well as many science fiction books, but I’ve never read the classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I love the story behind the book, in that Shelley wrote Frankenstein almost 100 years ago in 1817 at just 19 years of age. I’m really looking forward to reading this clothbound edition of Frankenstein this year (love the hearts on the cover) and discovering for myself the gothic and romantic elements within.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck was an American author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, and is known for writing Grapes of Wrath (awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1940), Of Mice And Men, and East of Eden, and I haven’t read any of them.Pearl John Steinbeck book cover

For some reason I find this author intimidating so I’ve decided to read The Pearl (a novella of less than 100 pages) as a gentle introduction to his writing. Have you read any Steinbeck? What do you recommend?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The plot in Oscar Wilde’s classic The Picture of Dorian Gray is known by many and I especially loved the portrayal in the recent TV Show Penny Dreadful. Just being aware of the premise of the book is no longer enough and I thought it was about time I read this classic for myself. It’ll be my first time reading any material by Oscar Wilde (I’m sure quotes don’t count) and I’m hoping The Picture of Dorian Gray lives up to the hype.Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde book cover

Have you read any of the classics above? Did you receive or give any books during the festive period? I gave a family member a copy of The Menzies Era by John Howard and another family member a handful of books by James Patterson.

Happy Reading in 2015.