Persephone Secret Santa revealed

Happy Persephone Secret Santa everyone! Today was finally the day that I got to open the parcel that has been sitting patiently on my desk.

Here it is, under flash in early morning light:

Wrapped so well! I love that only one piece of ribbon was used for the bow (I can’t do that, I’m terribly uncoordinated with gift wrapping). That print on the bookmark looks familiar…

Here is the lovely grey book inside – The Priory by Dorothy Whipple. It’s lovely and weighty, perfect for a holiday read. I haven’t read Dorothy Whipple before, but I’m looking forward to it. She is the author of several books in the Persephone series, including Greenbanks.

Finally, the card, which confirmed my suspicions about my Secret Santa (I hope that I’m correct):

I believe it to be Care of Care’s Online Book Club. (Your last clue with the cryptic letters in purple helped a lot). Thank you Care! You have made my first Persephone Secret Santa a really fun event (which got my entire office involved!). I loved the clues and the postcards – happy holidays and all the best!

What did your Persephone Secret Santa bring you? Merry Christmas all!

How Hard Can it Be? By Jeremy Clarkson

A quick rundown… The World According to Clarkson Volume 4 – full of grumpy, yet witty and strangely sensible observations.

Strengths: Very funny, and Clarkson knows how to take things to extremes.

Weaknesses: Readers of his newspaper columns may have already read these.

Why I read it: Have read the other three books and I love Top Gear.

Pages: 352 (ebook)

Published: 2010

Publisher: Penguin

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

If you liked this, try: The other World According to Clarkson books (such as For Crying Out Loud!)

Jeremy Clarkson is outspoken. We all know that, given recent comments that made worldwide media headlines. He’s also very funny, not only on the TV, but in print too. How Hard Can it Be?, which Top Gear fans will know as one of the show’s catch cries (along with ‘Loser!’ and ‘That’s not gone well, has it?’). This is not a book of Top Gear anecdotes (how good would that be?), but the fourth collection of his newspaper columns published in the UK. This may be a detractor for those readers in the UK, but not for those Down Under. (These are not motoring columns, although cars and other transport do feature occasionally, but articles on what is wrong with the world at large).

Clarkson’s columns are to put it simply, very funny. There is often logic and truth to what he’s saying is wrong with the world and how it should be fixed. He writes clearly, succinctly and with just enough information about Top Gear to keep the fans turning the pages and the non-fans (all three of them) entertained. His rants and raves can be applied to a larger audience – some of the articles you might get more out of if you’re from the UK (for example, local politicians), but there’s always Google if you’re interested.

Yes, it is grumpy and politically incorrect at times but that’s what makes it worth a guilty giggle or two. A great book to pick up and put down (e.g. on public transport) due to the length of the columns.

Top Gear Live Downunder – A Sneak Peek

Sorry for the lack of reviews recently – I have been reading but unfortunately lots of shifts lately have caused me to be behind in my reviews. I do have some interesting ones coming up this month though – Penny Vincenzi’s The Decision, Song of Achilles, [sic] (both from Bloomsbury) and some Richard Yates. In the meantime, I leave you with some pictures of where my money went last night – Top Gear Live, The Prototype Tour. It was fantastic! Cars, Clarkson, Captain Slow, Kenny and The Stig. Not to mention Lambos, Ferraris and 911s on fire – what more could anyone ask for?

(Please don’t copy these pics without my permission).

Warming up – this is the wedding where the boys acted as chauffeurs.

Clarkson and May arrive in spectacular fashion.

Jezza isn’t surprised to see James in a washing machine, although it looks like Shane Jacobson (Kenny or Top Gear Australia) is having a laugh…

Captain Slow and fast cars…

Yes, that’s car soccer! Australia won.

A great night, if you like Top Gear, this is worth seeing. Highly recommended! I would have gone again had I not been working!

If you have Foxtel, BBC Knowledge will be showing Top Gear ALL Boxing Day. I don’t, so I’m highly jealous. Maybe Father Christmas will bring me a DVD…

Melbourne Holiday

Yes, I went to Melbourne, Australia. I’d forgotten how easy domestic travel was in Australia – no passport and you can take your water bottle! As always, Melbourne’s weather was variable – from constant rain, to sunny spring weather to a day of 35 °C (although to this blogger, it didn’t feel much over 30!). I didn’t take a jacket and of course had to buy one. But that’s another thing Melbourne is famous for – shopping!

I stayed on Swanston Street, one of the main streets of the CBD. Here, my rain soaked window looks on to the back of Bourke Street Mall, where the major department stores (Myer and David Jones) are located.

Speaking of Myer, last year (or early this year?), they unveiled their new flagship store. Can’t say I’m a fan, but instead of buildings over three streets, there’s one. This is what is left of the Lonsdale St store. On my first trip to Melbourne, I could see into the men’s shoes storeroom (more interesting than it sounds).

The old book department (easily the best in any Myer store across Australia) was about Level 3 or 4 in the building on the left. Wonder what they’ll put there now?

Trams are also an integral part of Melbourne. The ‘ding ding’, hook turns and ease of getting places is part of the charm. And they’re half price on Sundays!

Flinders Street Station is where you can catch lots of trams from, or step inside and catch a train. (I only caught trams this time, get enough trains at home). Federation Square is on the very left.

There’s also a really cool cathedral opposite, makes me think of The Pillars of the Earth:

And of course, who could forget the beautiful blue Yarra River (cough cough):

This was at South Wharf, looking back towards Crown Casino and Melbourne Convention Centre.

This is from the other side, taken at the back of Federation Square.

The Town Hall is decked out for Christmas (note the tram and the rain):

And just to be fair, the sun really does shine in Melbourne sometimes! Goodbye Melbourne (from the bus on the way to the airport):

I’ll be posting some of my finds next week in Mailbox Monday.

Hope you enjoyed my pics!

Stop Press! Final Persephone Secret Santa Clue!

My colleagues have been eagerly anticipating clues from my Persephone Secret Santa. I was fairly sure that they had been reading the postcards (or at least noticing that I have mail) because I can hardly get in the door before someone mentions something! It’s all in good fun and today I was paged/bleeped to come and open today’s letter. Note the good choice of purple (PSS, you have made one workmate very happy with your colour choice).

(Apologies for the reflection. The light at night inside can be pretty bad. I really wanted to bring your attention to these cool stamps. Are they PSS’s own photos?)

The letter contains a review for the third Persephone publication of Dot Whited Out (J)’s new book. (Possibly a convent? A church? A cathedral?) I do like the references to Jane Austen, sounds like a book I’ll really enjoy.

All will be revealed on December 16th! Lucky it’s a work day and I’ll be up early – can’t wait!

More deliveries from my Persephone Secret Santa!

My Persephone Secret Santa is so active – I’ve received another two cards in the mail! As I was on holidays last week, I think my entire office read the latest postcard, which I think was alluding to the book in the parcel (no I haven’t peeked). Secret Santa, the office loved that you wrote in purple!

This was the latest card with a picture of the Lakeville Public Library:

Google tells me that the library might just be in Massachusetts. How cool that a library has its own postcards!

The other postcard also makes this Aussie think of Boston:

I wish I was there too – bet it wasn’t 37 °C there today! (That’s 98.6 °F).

Thank you Secret Santa!

(The car in the background is my father’s Model A Ford, circa 1930. Who knows, it may have been to Boston once!)

Mailbox Monday 5/12/11

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia of  A Girl and Her Books and is being hosted at Let Them Read Books in December (great blog title). I have unashamedly been buying books with a passion recently, as there’s sales left, right and centre. However, this mailbox is the product of a book voucher I got in return for some lecturing. I chose to spend it entirely on the Vintage 21 series, which makes for a beautiful rainbow as you can see. (For more information, check out this website for a list of titles).


Notice I didn’t get any pink ones? (Not yet anyway). I ran out of money on the voucher L (They are a nice $12.95 AU though). Next time!

And the best thing – check out the page edges:

So pretty!

How is your mailbox this week? Is it full?