Thursday, January 23

Bookfest Haul January 2014

I went to the Lifeline Bookfest this week and managed to constrain myself from buying the lot... like last time...

You may remember last time I went to the Bookfest I went madly out of control and bought way more than I planned to.  You can read all about that fiasco HERE.  

That's not to say that I don't love my purchases, but I simply can't afford the shelf-space!  So to avoid a similar situation this time round, I wrote myself a list of books I need for uni plus a couple I want for my collection.  

Great Expectations is one of my texts for an upcoming literature unit I will be studying.  Seven Little Australians and Northern Lights are texts for a Youth and Children's writing unit the following semester.  A Tangled Web is a beautiful, hardcover collector's edition L. M. Montgomery novel.  And you remember White Teeth?  I love this book and this copy is brand new!  

I may not have bought much but I am extremely pleased with what I found.  I call it a success.  

Tuesday, January 21

If on a winter's night a booklover...

A book for booklovers about books.  A story within a story within a story.  In which YOU the READER are the hero.  

I bought If on a winter's night a traveller by Italian writer, Italo Calvino, as a celebratory gift to myself after completing my first year of uni.  I didn't read it straight away.  It had an air of mystery that seemed too enchanted to disturb and such a modest cover that it was forgotten in favour of more exciting books.  

I picked it up today.  

If on a winter's night a traveller is written in the 2nd person.  This is not a familiar format for novels and it's rarely done justice because it's so fiddly and tricky to do.  If 1st person is 'I', 'we', 'our' and 3rd person is 'he', 'she', 'it', then 2nd person is 'you'.  'You' do this.  'You' do that.  The obvious advantage of 2nd person is it makes the reader the protagonist, implanting them in the plot.  

Here is the first paragraph for your enjoyment:
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.    Relax.  Concentrate.  Dispel every other thought.  Let the world around you fade.  Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room.  Tell the other's right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!"  Raise your boise - they won't hear you otherwise - "I'm reading!  I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!"  Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone.  
Italo Calvino.  1980.  If on a winter's night a traveller.  p 1.

What do you think?  I find it's like being whispered a secret - it's such a different sort of reader participation.  

I'm hoping this little taste will incite you to trap it and read along.  It's only a small book, very manageable and thrilling with novelty and intrigue from the first page.  I can hardly wait to see where it leads.  

Sunday, January 19

Allow me to introduce myself

So today's the big day!  You may have noticed there are plenty of changes to Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils, not the least of which is I'm finished with my old pseudonym "The Book Florist".  

In this post I will introduce myself properly and explain the new updates.  

My name is Paige Hadley.  This is what I look like ----->

I am an Australian creative writing student based in Brisbane.  My ultimate dream is to write adventure fantasy books for children, as these are the books that made the greatest impact on me.  In the meantime though, I’m currently working on getting short work published in online journals. 

I am a dog-owner, part-time video store worker, cosplayer, Hufflepuff, romantic, bibliophile (lover of books) and logophile (lover of words).  One of my hobbies is water-colour painting.  The background artwork was done by yours truly. 

When I started Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils I was still in highschool.  I decided to use a pseudonym after my parents warned me about good cyber-safety. 

However, now I’m an emerging writer attempting to get new work published.  Online presence is extremely important.  My blog and other social media accounts are a way that my future publishers and readers can contact or engage with me through a mutual love of books. 

This blog has allowed me to speak before I burst from too many emotions.  It has allowed me to feel like a part of the world – a world that loves the same words strung into the same sentences and new sentences being written all the time. 

Regardless of what my future holds, I will always keep Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils as my sacred safe place.  It will always be about sharing a love of reading and writing. 

So about these updates:

There is a brand new and improved About Me page.  Either follow the link to view or you will find the page up top. 

There is also a brand new Contact Me page.  There you will find my contact email and the links to all my social media accounts.  Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube and Blogher.  These links are also in the side bar for easy access. 

So now you know a little more about me, have a roam around and explore the new pages and links. 

I’m excited to get back into the full swing of blogging because - as always - I’ve got so much to say! 

Wednesday, January 1

What We Read: 2013

It has been a huge year for my reading-life.  I've branched out way more than ever and had a terrific time.  Here is my 2013 book list  plus the year's Highlights and Lowlights.  

What We Read 2013:
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  • The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  • Mr Penumbra's 24 Hr Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
  • Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
  • The Adventures of Tintin Volumes 1 - 7 by Hergé
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
  • The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
  • Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • Sin City: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller
  • The Adventures of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  • Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  • Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
  • Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  • Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
  • Tampa by Alissa Nutting


These are the books I didn't enjoy and would not read if I went back in time.  Forgive me if any of these are your favourites!  

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan is talked up a lot, especially as a past Booker prize-winner.  However I  guessed the plot twist almost as soon as the characters were introduced so it was a big anti-climax.  Ultimately it's no more than a hiccup in my longterm love affair with McEwan as a writer.  

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany was the 2013 winner of the Stella Prize for Australian women's fiction.  The tone and mood feel like an imitation of Tim Winton's work.  Besides being unsatisfying and offering no room for empathy with the characters, I felt it portrayed a poor ideal of what it means to be Australian.  


These are the books that made me think and feel, new favourites to revisit forever.  

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling is so different from her other work, but incredibly thought-provoking.  It is an edgy and often confronting read with a good pace driven by character and plot development.  Notions of privilege, justice and family are challenged by this depiction of truth.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky had a huge resurgence in 2013 due to the release of its film adaptation.  It's a young adult fiction that tackles some controversial and topical subjects, while at the same time reopening timeless ideas of love, family and identity in a way that guarantees its status as a contemporary classic.  It's emotionally engaging and memorable.  

Atonement by Ian McEwan is an epic masterpiece that redefined my standards for fiction.  It is sensationally well written.  Its tragically beautiful plot left me hopelessly moved. 

White Teeth by Zadie Smith is a brilliant début.  It is sassy and cunning, memorable for its wit and ingenious way of tying up threads.  It also boasts one of the most engaging openings to any novel I've read.  

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is grit and filth and so much fun.  Unique in every way, the genius of this confronting little book cannot be silenced.  The prose is addictive.

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton is an Australian classic that I feel pristinely defines what it means to be alive.  This book is written with love and pain, and the magic and earthiness of its prose will colour its reader's perception of life.  It is an experience and a supreme gift of literature.  

So thankyou for coming along on my reading adventures.  Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to recommend each other plenty of great new reads for 2014.