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Freelance your heart out – a review…

Freelance your heart out
Kris Emery
2012, self-published

Thinking of heading into a freelance career?

There is a lot going for it – freedom of your days, you keep the profits you work hard for, satisifaction and no office politics or commuting.

Yet, there is also a large price to pay for the lifestyle.

Kris Emery takes you through her freelance journey in her new eBook, showing some of the pitfalls and mistakes she made and shares the lessons learned.

She writes quite honestly and in a friendly style so it is easy to keep reading, even if you are not a big business book fan :)

Because it is honest, the eBook shows that freelancing requires effort and dedication – it is not an easy ride, and it doesn’t suit everyone.

Despite a few stumbling blocks, it is simple to read and has some good ideas. This eBook is a great read for anyone considering moving into freelance, or having recently started a freelance business.

It also has some ideas for more experienced freelancers, but is more of a light read for this group.

The 25 tips are useful for anyone in freelance, although you have to relate the examples to your own expertise as Kris specifically covers her fields of transcription and translation.

Book review: Does my head look big in this?

Does my head look big in this?
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2006Cover of does this make myhead look big?

I was looking forward to reading this book, based on the fact it was encouraging cross-cultural tolerance and my fourteen-year-old daughter loved it.

Abdel-Fattah introduces us to the world of teenage muslims girls in modern Australia through the eyes of 16-year-old Amal. Amal believes in Islam and lives a comfortable life with her intelligent and accepting parents.

The story revolves around Amal choosing to wear the hijab as a sign of her faith and the usual teenage issues of boys, clothes, parents and make-up.

It is clearly written for a teenage audience and has less appeal to those beyond school politics and blushes over first crushes. However, with the cultural undertone of a Muslim girl, the story has an innocence and freshness that is nice to read.

Showing understanding of Muslims and other religions, this book has the potential to help foster better relations throughout the community. It is a positive and broad view of Islam, and teenagers, without any overt religious message. Most of the key characters are understanding of all religions and cultures met in the story.

While clearly an Australian book (set in Melbourne), Abdel-Fattah has used many American references and terms which is disappointing – especially in a story about the meeting of cultures.

In summary, a positive story that teen girls are likely to enjoy while possibly broadening their views of Islam.

Book review: Outside permission

Outside permission
Eleanor Nilsson
Viking, Ringwood, 1996

This was an unusual book to say the least.

To be honest, I read 40 or so pages and left it alone for a few months before starting again and finishing the book. The second time was easier as I had a clue to what was happening.

Outside permission is about David, his sister and their mate, Simon. They live n Adelaide, but not exactly the Adelaide we know as some power has taken over. This unknown (well unknown for the readers, the characters seem to accept the situation) power maintains records of everyone’s live – including the date of death.

David and Simon often dare each other to do things, but lately Simon has been acting differently and sets a much harder dare with unseen consequences. The final consequences surprised David and me as a reader, although some of that was surprise on my part was disbelief in the method of the ending.

I found some of the inconsistencies to be distracting in an already complex story. For example, they boys went to school (not yet in the senior class), could drive and went to fancy restaurants without parents. It made it hard to decide how old they were – perhaps not a critical detail but distracting none-the-less.

certainly not a book for children or early teens – the language, violence and adult-scenes are not an issue, but understanding the issues (as they are implied not written) and implications requires a certain amount of sophistication.

I can see that some people would enjoy this book, and the suspense is interesting, but I doubt I’ll be bothering with it again.

Because Mommy loves you ~ review

Because Your Mommy Loves You

Andrew Clements
illustrated by R W Alley
Clarion Books 2012

 I grabbed this book from the library to read with my 2 and 3.5 year olds – and we all loved it! So much so I’ve now ordered Clements’ related book about Daddy!

A mum and her son prepare for and go on a camping trip together. Various things happen to the boy and Mum repeatedly gives him the opportunity to gain independence and skills – she doesn’t drop everything to do things for him.

As parenting educator Michael Grose says, ‘never do for children what they can do themselves’. The Mum in this book lives by that policy and it is so positive and encouraging to see that in a child’s book.

The boy gets satisfaction in doing things for himself, knowing Mum is there if needed – or for a cuddle afterwards. There is no doubt for him that Mum loves him but she is there to teach and guide rather than  moddycoddle him.

Okay, I love the sentiment and message of the story, but Clements carries it off with a nice story about interesting events. Add in the great illustrations which show the story and provide more things to discuss, and it is a lovely book for any home library.

It is obviously a picture book aimed at older toddlers and pre-schoolers into early primary. So it is easy to understand and is short enough to keep young children interested. The illustrations are drawings but accurate, detailed and colourful.

A book to enjoy reading together but also for children to look through by themselves. Thoroughly recommend this one!

Prime Minister Literary Awards for 2012

Yesterday, the Prime Minister and Arts Minister announced the winners of the 2012 Prime Minister Literary Wards. Such awards are always a good thing, but being the National Year of Reading seems to add some significance to the event.

I’d certainly feel ‘special’ if I’d written a winning book this year!

And given that they had a record number of entries this year, I’m assuming others feel the same way about winning (or being acknowledged) in 2012.

Prime Minister Literary Award 2012

You can look at the shortlisted books but this year’s winners are…

Fiction

Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears

Non-fiction

An eye for eternity: the life of Manning-Clark by Mark McKenna

Australian history

The biggest estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia by Bill Gammage

Children’s fiction

Goodnight, mice! by Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson

Young adult fiction

When we were two by Robert Newton

Poetry

Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies

Congratulations to all those writers! I look forward to reading at least some of them before the end of 2012.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Age appropriate books for kids’ gifts

Giving books to kids is a fantastic gift.

Why? It encourages reading which is such an important skill, it develops imagination (which helps problem and solving and creativity in life), it is a healthy pursuit, it is a change from computer games & TV (it takes more imagination, too) and broadens their horizons.

But buying gifts that suit the child isn’t always easy – knowing which book is for which age group can be tricky. I wish books had it written on their somewhere – I have seen it on a couple of books but it is not the norm.

And it isn’t just reading ability which is easier to judge by looking at the book – the content of the story is critical but impossible to fully comprehend without reading it.

I’ve found one online bookshop that puts books into 3 groups (babies & toddlers, 4 – 8 year olds and over 9s) which is a great start but it is actually the over 10s I find hardest to pick in a store.

Another one divides children and young adults’ books into some detailed categories, which is uncommon, but doesn’t help much with the age range unfortunately.

So if the bookstores & publishers aren’t making it easy, we’ll have to do it ourselves! Over coming days, I’ll add posts for each age range to share some recommendations and hope you all will share your knowledge, too.

Kit’s Law

Kit’s Law

by Donna Morrissey Viking
Penguin Book Canada Ltd

The bargain table out the front of a bookshop is impossible to resist, I just have to have a look for that special book to appear there. Recently, the book Kit’s Law, caught my eye from such a table and at $2.50 I thought it worth a read.

Kit is a young girl living on the outskirts of a remote fishing town in Canada. She is the illegitimate child of a mentally handicapped woman who is treated as an unpaid whore by many townsmen. Lizzie is Kit’s Grandmother and she cares for her daughter and granddaughter in her cliff top cottage. Lizzie is a determined, hard old woman without a lot of friends in the town, but she does her best to ensure Kit fits in as best she can.

Lizzie tries to let Kit see that she has nothing to be ashamed of and has the right to hold her head high. The morning after such a conversation, Kit finds her grandmother dead in her bed and feels her world fall down around her. Sprouting good intentions, a group of townspeople attempt to take Kit to an orphanage and away from her Mother. The town Doctor, however, steps in and enables Kit to remain in her precious gully home.

Some time later, the same group again try to separate the pair when both are ill. This results in the minister’s son being sent out to regularly cut wood for the women’s stove. The young man, Sid, quickly befriends the mother and tried getting to know Kit as well. Gradually, a relationship builds and they fall in love.

Tragedy strikes in the form of the local rapist attacking the gully cottage and Sid’s defence. Surprisingly, the young lovers are then separated for over a year before their spontaneous elopement. After the wedding, they visit Sid’s parents in time for a second tragedy to hit them. I must admit that I had guessed at this twist a little earlier, but it was hidden by other potential twists, so the story wasn’t too predictable. At this, Sid disappears and Kit again struggles to survive in a hostile township.

The ending is not exactly a happy one, but it does leave Kit reconciled with her life and loving her Mother. No further twists were introduced, and Morrissey openly discounted other predictable endings.

Eyes in the dark


EYES IN THE DARK

by Kim Dale
Published 2001 Thomas C Lothian Pty Ltd, South Melbourne

A beautiful picture book that uses poetry, images and questions to introduce children to the wonderful array of nocturnal animals found in Australia.

Most of the book is black with white text and detailed illustrations. Pictures are colourful, but only include minimal background details which adds to the overall charm and the representation of nighttime visions.

Each double page is dedicated to a particular animal or bird. On the left, three verses describe the animal and on the right is an illustration of the animal’s eye(s). The right hand page actually opens out to reveal a full image of the creature underneath, complete with its name.

Older children will enjoy guessing the creatures, whilst younger ones will purely enjoy listening to the poetry and watching the pictures unfold.

A double page at the end of the book provides more details about each of the sixteen animals featured in the book. A map of Australia illustrates where the creature is naturally found, and three paragraphs of facts include the scientific name, the animals’ diet, breeding facts and other information.

This fun and educational book was shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 2002 and was shortlisted by young readers for the Young Australian Readers’ Awards.

The Persimon Tree

The Persimmon Tree

by Bryce Courtney
Penguin Books, Australia, 2007

A very different book on World War II in the Pacific, The Persimmon Tree is interesting look at relationships and standards.

Seventeen year old Nick falls in love with Anna in a matter of days and then is separated from her by the war. Nick narrates the story for us, starting with his point of view then giving us Anna’s story (based on what she has told him) and finishing with his own point of view again.

There are a number of relationships developed through the book, beyond the love between Nick and Anna. Courtney shows that stereotypes may exist but within each group people are individuals. For instance Anna has very different relationships with the two Japanese commanders of her town, and with her father and father figure.

The book shows different standards between the japanese and western army comamnds, and between the genders. While Nick has a number of lovers while in Australia, Anna however risks her life to let Nick be her first. Although Anna sets herself this standard, and women around her suggest she gives in, there is an unstated agreement from Nick that she should act that way.

Nick is a likable young bloke, but he becomes a bit too good to be true – he can speak English and Japanese and Pidgin, he undertsands life in the west, Japan and the islands, he is a perfect shot and a top cadet, he’s a loner who gets long well with people, and so on. Courtney stop short of Nick being sickly perfect, but he was less enjoyable as his character developed – Anna became more endearing throughout her story under Japanese rule.

Overall, it is a light and enjoyable read (although not a small or light book!) that gives a number of perspectives on WWII and on Indonesia’s Dutch history. It is very  human and has moments of greatness and suspense, and forms a pleasant way to spend a few winter hours in front of a cracklin fire.