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Join us for #nightread this month #rwpchat

August 1, 2017
Barn owl

Barn owl by oldbilluk (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This month the theme is #nightread.  Will you be looking at the night sky to see the stars?  The Sky at Night by Patrick Moore will help you identify them.  Skies in remote dark places are the best viewing spots.  A blanket of stars surrounds you and reaches almost to the ground, a truly magical experience.  Perhaps you use a telescope to enable you to see the stars in more detail.  How about looking at: The universe through the eyes of Hubble by Oli Usher and Lars Lindberg Christensen – photographs taken by The Hubble Space Telescope.

Maybe you prefer to read fiction for your #nightread staying up all night to read more of an amazing novel that you are engrossed in: The Trap by Melanie Raabe.  Just one more page or just to the end of this chapter then you will turn out the light and go to sleep. Before you know it’s the early hours of the morning and you have to be up for work soon.

Do you play music while reading your #nightread choice? Maybe some Nightwish, Welcome to my Nightmare by Alice Cooper or Night Prowler by AC/DC

Perhaps you read a bedtime story to your children before you tuck them up in bed.  Are they afraid of the dark like Plop in The owl who was afraid of the dark by Jill Tomlinson or are they scared of the monster that lurks under the bed.  Read Things That Go Bump in the Night: How to Help Children Resolve Their Natural Fears by Paul Warren for advice and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Do you like to watch a scary film at night, something that’s going to make you check you locked the front door and closed all the windows.

Nocturnal creatures come out to play and hunt at night.  Foxes scavenge in dustbins for leftovers and vampire bats come out of their caves to drink the blood of their unsuspecting victims. Owls silently swoop on their prey while the mice try to scurry out of harm’s way.  Read Creatures of the night by Camilla de la Bédoyère. In your garden hedgehogs snuffle along the ground for food and badgers hide in their labyrinthine underground setts.  Badgerlands : the twilight world of Britain’s most enigmatic animal by Patrick Barkham will tell you more about them.  In your home hamsters run in their wheels in the middle of the night and wake you up and the cat flap rattles as your cat goes out on its nightly prowl.

Then there are other creatures of the night that might appear during the witching hour: demons, and ghosts and witches.  A discovery of witches by Deborah Harkness is an atmospheric #nightread

What will be your favourite #nightread this month?  While you are reading, watching or playing your #nightread, you might like to tweet about it using the tags #nightread and #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you.

There will be a Twitter discussion on Tuesday 29 August starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

in the #humouread discussion today for #rwpchat

July 25, 2017

#humourread

A Reader, a Watcher and a Player walk into a bar. . .

There will be a twitter discussion today, 25 July starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #humourread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #humourread, so others can join in the conversation too

July is all about humour. Interestingly, for all the vigorous debate around what is and what is not “classic” reading; what is and what is not funny can generate even more disagreement. A sense of humour can be shared but what makes us laugh is also deeply personal.

Humour comes in many different styles from the understated to the slapstick, from playful to satire, from black humour to celebratory humour. Reading, watching and playing humorous material can make us feel uncomfortable, make us smile or laugh out loud, or even make us forget about the world around us (for a little while at least).

Laughing

Laughing by Chi Wai Un

What will make you laugh in July?

There are joke books and riddle books. There are lots of cartoon books such as Footrot Flats and Garfield.

There are lots of books that can make us laugh including works by Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and PG Wodehouse. There are also works that offer more serious humour including Stella Gibbons and Evelyn Waugh. At the other end of the humour scale there are books about bottoms from authors Terry Denton, Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings and Jenny Mawter.

There is a vast array of material to watch in July ranging from Grumpy Cats to over a million memes as well as timeless British film and television with Monty Python, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and To the Manor Born being a very small sample of the titles available.

There are also funny people we can watch: Wil Anderson, Tiny Fey, Amy Poehler (and we can read some of their auto-biographies and biographies too). There are also funny things that happen to us: embarrassing incidents, travel tales and the occasional workplace disaster. We can, too, play at being humorous with games like charades and Pictionary in addition to the odd practical joke.

So, this July, crack a smile or crack up. Laugh (or see if you can make someone else laugh). Share a joke and share your #humourread, watch or play.

There will be a twitter discussion on 25 July starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #humourread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #humourread, so others can join in the conversation too

Jane Austen, the Regency era and me – a guest post by @AnneGracie #rwpchat

July 18, 2017

The Regency era (1811—1820) is one of the most popular time periods in which to set historical romances. It is also the historical period most associated with romantic comedy. Why is it so? Here’s my theory.

It all started with Jane Austen. She, of course, wasn’t writing “historicals” — she wrote novels of her own time. But her dry, ironic, sometimes acerbic observations, her deft characterization and her witty dialogue left a strong impression on those who came after her.

Enter Georgette Heyer in the 20th century, noted for her romantic comedies. Strongly influenced by Austen, she set books in a variety of historical settings, but was most successful with her regency-era romances. With witty dialogue, vivid characters and lively plots, she became a huge bestseller and is credited with establishing the Regency Romance sub-genre.

What followed was an explosion of writers setting their books in the Regency era. Then came the various Jane Austen film and television adaptations, which brought Austen to the world. And after them came an explosion of Austen rip-offs — Pride and Prejudice and  Zombies, for instance, and a raft of new novels starring Jane or her various characters.

How ironic that Jane Austen herself made but a modest income from her writing.

I myself came to the Regency era young. I was eleven when I read my first Heyer novel, and not much older when I read Price and Prejudice, and I studied Austen at University, so it’s no surprise that when I started writing historical romance, I set my stories during the Regency. In a way, I feel I grew up in that world. As well, there is so much fodder for a novelist in that time period — the Napoleonic Wars, poverty and great wealth, scientific and technological developments, the growth of the British Empire and much more.

In my book, The Autumn Bride, the dowager Lady Beatrice establishes a literary society mainly so her wards can be introduced to society. The society is not for “clever-clogs show-offery discussion” but simply to enjoy listening to books read aloud—perfect for those with fading eyesight. So which books do they read?  Jane Austen’s of course, though at that time she was simply known as “a lady.” But Austen fans will recognize the snippets read aloud.

Not all of my characters appreciate Austen’s novels, however. In the second book of that series, my hero’s best friend asks him to keep an eye on Lady Beatrice and her nieces while he’s away on his honeymoon.

Freddy sipped his claret thoughtfully, trying to work out a way to wriggle out of what, on the surface, seemed quite a reasonable request.

Max, misunderstanding his silence, added, “Look, it won’t be hard. Just drop around to Berkeley Square every few days, make sure they’re all right, see to anything if there’s a problem, protect the girls from unwanted attentions, take them for the occasional drive in the park, pop in to their literary society—”

“Not the literary society. The horror stories those girls read are enough to make a fellow’s hair stand on end.”

Max frowned. “Horror stories? They don’t read horror stories, only entertaining tales of the kind ladies seem to enjoy, about girls and gossip and families—”

“Horror stories, every last one of them,” Freddy said firmly. “You asked me to sit in on their literary society last month, when you went up to Manchester, remember? The story they were reading then . . .” He gave an eloquent shudder. “Horror from the very first line: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Must he, indeed? What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”

Max chuckled.

“You can laugh, bound as you are for parson’s noose in the morning,” Freddy said bitterly, “but every single man in that story ended up married by the end of the book! Every last one.” He numbered them off on his fingers. “The main fellow, his best friend, the parson, even the soldier fellow ended up married to the silly light-skirt sister—not one single man in that story escaped unwed.” He shuddered again. “Enough to give a man nightmares. So no literary society for me, thank you.”

 

I sometimes wonder about Jane Austen, and what she would think about her huge popularity, 200 years later, and how she has influenced so many. Would she be thrilled, or horrified? What do you think?

Anne Gracie

Jane Austen 200 for #rwpchat #janeausten200

July 18, 2017

Jane Austen died on 18 July 1817. People are still reading her novels, and there are still films and television programs being made of them… but they could be even more impressive

Earlier this year @brandonlgtaylor offered some wonderful ideas for casting for Persuasion – go over to twitter and look at the whole thread

It is a reminder of Bride and prejudice which was a lovely exploration of Austen meets India.

Go and explore Jane Austen in what ever way you want.

join the #humourread discussion this month for #rwpchat

July 1, 2017

#humourread

A Reader, a Watcher and a Player walk into a bar. . .

July is all about humour. Interestingly, for all the vigorous debate around what is and what is not “classic” reading; what is and what is not funny can generate even more disagreement. A sense of humour can be shared but what makes us laugh is also deeply personal.

Humour comes in many different styles from the understated to the slapstick, from playful to satire, from black humour to celebratory humour. Reading, watching and playing humorous material can make us feel uncomfortable, make us smile or laugh out loud, or even make us forget about the world around us (for a little while at least).

Laughing

Laughing by Chi Wai Un

What will make you laugh in July?

There are joke books and riddle books. There are lots of cartoon books such as Footrot Flats and Garfield.

There are lots of books that can make us laugh including works by Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and PG Wodehouse. There are also works that offer more serious humour including Stella Gibbons and Evelyn Waugh. At the other end of the humour scale there are books about bottoms from authors Terry Denton, Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings and Jenny Mawter.

There is a vast array of material to watch in July ranging from Grumpy Cats to over a million memes as well as timeless British film and television with Monty Python, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and To the Manor Born being a very small sample of the titles available.

There are also funny people we can watch: Wil Anderson, Tiny Fey, Amy Poehler (and we can read some of their auto-biographies and biographies too). There are also funny things that happen to us: embarrassing incidents, travel tales and the occasional workplace disaster. We can, too, play at being humorous with games like charades and Pictionary in addition to the odd practical joke.

So, this July, crack a smile or crack up. Laugh (or see if you can make someone else laugh). Share a joke and share your #humourread, watch or play.

There will be a twitter discussion on 25 July starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #humourread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #humourread, so others can join in the conversation too

join the #epicread discussion today #rwpchat

June 27, 2017

#epicread

faith-no-more-epic-shaped-picture-disc-vinyl-001-800x780

Can feel it? See it? Hear it today?

Of course you can because this month’s Read Watch Play theme is #epicread!!!

There will be a twitter discussion today, 27 June starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #epicread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #epicread, so others can join in the conversation too!

For people who like the challenge of a gargantuan tome the likes of Gregory David Roberts’ “Shantaram” or Leo Tolstoy’s “War & Peace”, a lengthy series like Stephen King’s Gunslinger/Dark Tower or Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time”, sonic pilgrimages like Kamasi Washington’s 3 hour Jazz opus called “The Epic” or knocking off ten years worth of TV episodes you always meant to watch (I recommend “The Sopranos”, “The Wire” & “Oz”), this month is all about the epic!!!

Epic films from the classic era, including “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Ben Hur”, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” & “Spartacus”, as well as more modern works, including “Dances With Wolves” & “Apocalypse Now” entertain with their scope and cinematography, as well as their running times.

Fantasy & Science Fiction (Speculative fiction?…) are the genres that make up the heavy weight class in terms of epic stories. Sometimes only short stories with the density of a neutron star, think Robert Heinlein & Arthur C. Clarke, or ongoing series to seriously bog you down or let you immerse yourself in alternative worlds, think J.R.R. Tolkien & George R.R. Martin, Alastair Reynolds & Isaac Asimov.

Round the world trips (Pole to Pole by Michael Palin), trekking the Camino (Walking the Camino by Tony Kevin), up the slopes of Everest (Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright), riding the rails in the Russia (Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux), or cycling around France (French Revolutions by Tim Moore), books about epic travel may instil the bug in the reader or just allow people to tread a path they would not take themselves. Also, especially for Australians, there are plenty of big things on the roadside to explore (banana, pineapple, mosquito etc.) as well as the real epic adventures like the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, Angkor Wat & the Maya & Inca Ruins of South America.

The exploration of the world & space, in various fields of endeavour, has yielded many stories of epic courage, striving and endurance. David Attenborough’s documentation of flora & fauna, polar exploration (Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard), scientific exploration and explanation of geology (The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester), physics (Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking) & anthropology (Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond) are great examples of #epicread.

For gamers there are the aptly titled MMO’s (Massively Multiplayer Online) like World of Warcraft & Elder Scrolls, online interactive first person shooters, app games and a plethora of console and PC based options for Epic gaming!!!

 

Harry Potter, 20th Anniversary!

June 15, 2017

*Sonorus!*

Rejoice! Muggles & Wizard folk, Giants & House Elves, Werewolves & Goblins alike, as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the epic series Harry Potter!!! The owleries will be empty as scops & screech, snowy & great greys wing their way alike, silently to deliver the news at devastating volume as howlers explode across the land in proclamation!!!

Raise your glasses of butter beer or pumpkin juice in salute to a character and series of stories which has had a massive impact on children, parents and adults who grew up in the time of original release, as well as through the release of cinematic productions and the excellent audio readings by Stephen Fry and Jim Dale.

Harry along with his friends Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley took readers on an epic adventure through schooling at Hogwarts School of Magic where children faced many unusual challenges in gaining the skills required to become successful witches and wizards. The competition inspired by the allocation of school houses is familiar to many from the Muggle schooling world. The houses of Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Ravenclaw & Gryffindor were a little different to your run of the mill school houses with children being allocated by the magical sorting hat to a house most suitable to their personality and attributes.

The thump of the bludgers! The scream of the quaffle! The speed & broom skills of the chase for the Golden Snitch!!! Forget traditional ball games. The explosion of Quidditch onto the muggle world had non-magical children pining for a chance to saddle up on a Nimbus 2000 or a Firebolt Supreme broomstick and take to the air in the wizarding world’s greatest entertainment.

Concepts like magic flue powder, which allows wizards to travel through fire places; Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, a confectionary which lives up to its name as you are as likely to get a vomit flavoured bean as a strawberry & Platform Nine & Three-Quarters, a magical platform at King’s Cross train station from which the Hogwart’s Express departs, are all examples that fire the imagination and make the Harry Potter stories such an inventive and entertaining world to become immersed in.

The hulking presence of Hagrid, Hogwart’s game keeper and devotee of a menagerie of fantastical, mysterious & frankly downright dangerous magical fauna was a steady source of entertainment, as well as providing Hogwart’s school nurse, Madam Pomfrey, with a stream of hospital cases.

Many will be happy to revisit the world of Harry Potter and for those yet to experience it I can assure you that even the Dementors of Azkaban won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face!

There will be a twitter discussion on 27 June  starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags  #epicread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of  #epicread, so others can join in the conversation too!