Hark to the Bells

bellsThe first half of the music workshop is behind us, so far the participants had fun, and I’m hoping that they will practice a bit in this week.  The second half is coming up on Saturday.

There was a birthday too, “all I want for Christmas is for someone to remember my December birthday”.  The whole family was there, I mean the whole extended family, all 15 of us, the only ones missing were the people overseas.

And then there is The Feast itself.  I’m very fearful of it this year as it’s my turn again to host it (I wouldn’t yield my turn to someone else, but still…).  Currently the house is full of streamers, balloons and birthday bits, and we have an agreement with our kids that birthdays are birth weeks, because otherwise it’s so short anyway.  But that leaves me a whopping 3 days to decorate for Christmas.  :-P

P’kaboo is closed – except for orders, I have a few deliveries to make, and we’re open for that throughout (you might wait a little bit, but what hey).  The whole machinery restarts in the first week of January.  Unlike the Studio which restarts in the second week but has not closed yet.

Anyway here are some bells for you to hark to:

Reviewed: Raider! (Solar Wind 4)

Thank you for a lovely Christmas present, Nikki Mason:  A sweet, sweet review for “Raider”.

The Solar Wind IV: Raider! – Lyz Russo

Solar Wind IVWhat they say:
Alien Touchdown! If the crew of the Solar Wind thought the Unicate and the Rebellion were tough cookies, they haven’t yet met the Danaan – from Planet New Dome. Coming to take over Earth – or destroy the planet. Or alternatively, for a mango daiquiri in the subtropical paradise of Southern Free. And then destroy the planet.
And why is Captain Lascek acting so strangely?
Raider is the fourth in the series of Solar Wind novels.
What we say – review by Nikki Mason:
Things are getting even darker aboard the Solar Wind in this fourth novel in the series.
When the beautiful but psychopathic alien, Dana, arrives for a visit, all hell breaks loose. Captain and the stunning, ass-kicking Perdita break up as Captain is once more captivated by his previous flame – Rushka’s mother, horrific mutants are threatening the crew and, indeed, the world and it looks as though the ship is going to have to be taken into space to escape. Everyone has their secrets, and it is only by pulling together and trusting each other that the whole crew can survive. At least Paean and Federi are back together…surely nothing more can touch them, right?
Russo once again surprises and delights with her depth of imagination and conviction for this surreal, piratical world. The characters continue on exceedingly realistic journeys as they blunder through very choppy waters indeed. As ever, it is the excruciatingly complex relationship between the ever developing Paean and her near schizophrenic soul mate Federi that had me hooked. And, whereas sometimes small plot details evaded my understanding from time to time, the adventure and the fascinating characters guaranteed a scintillating addition to the series.
What more can this crew of beautiful pirates cope with? I can’t wait to find out.

… and of course you can

Click here to buy this book from P’kaboo or pre-order your P’kaboo paperback.

More Books!

I have no photos, alas; but yesterday we were at the Glenstantia Library selling books.  It sounds funny, selling books right at a place where people can borrow them for free, but we still made sales, even though there were very few people coming in.  The point is, it’s near Christmas and it’s different to buy a book for your child or grandchild than to borrow one.

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From the Launch December 2012: Glenstantia Library

Our display at the previous promo, at the Fairy Folk Market

Our display at the previous promo, at the Fairy Folk Market

 

It was, as I mentioned, amazingly quiet.  The roads in Pretoria were blocked with traffic; I could have sworn all of the country had arrived to hold weekend here in Pretoria, it was peak hour all the time.  This was already the case on Friday;  I haven’t yet had the courage to venture onto the roads today and am hoping not to.  I don’t know why this is.  It can’t only be the load shedding, I can’t see how that would induce everyone to get into their cars and drive (instead of lighting candles and having a restful braai).  But of all those driving, only about 20 or so frequented the sale at the Library between 9h and 12h (I understand there had been people at 7h, but not for books, more for the second-hand clothes and knick-knacks that were sold out of car boots).

We were positioned next to the pancakes, which helped (us, and them too).  I also had time to touch sides with the librarian, and plan some things for next year.  It will be an awesome year!

Glenstantia Library will probably start carrying our ebooks (for lending, yes!).  This is a trend I want to encourage.  Also, Leslie Noble’s “Immy” series got special attention.  Consider this:

The insert is a pixie book (and kids love pixie books – I was one of those who learnt to read out of them).

The DVD is a presentation, NOT a movie but a slide show, so that children can look at the slide and follow the words.

The DVD is also an audio book, so the author reads the story to the children.  I don’t know about yours, but my children love being read to, and audio books help them learn to read.

Then, there is even music to the stories:  Each character has a theme song (similar to Peter and the Wolf).  The theme songs move with the story, in truly symphonic style they mingle and overlay, they get “angry” and “happy”, bringing music closer to children.

So children sit with the pixie book in their hands, touching the book and checking the pages as they look from booklet to screen, following the story as it is read to them.  Even when there is nobody to put the DVD into the player for them, they pull out the pixie book and re-read it by themselves, replaying the music in their heads…

Does it sound archaic to you?  These are actually, from a learning point of view, the very latest insights in how to make reading easy and enjoyable for preschoolers, how to introduce them to music, and to the feel of books.

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Tomorrow night, due to music commitments, I may be late for the P’kaboo Book Club. But please, there are enough authors and readers, please do start without me, it is your group too!  I’ll be joining you later.

 

Enjoy!

Crime pays

It took only a few seconds yesterday for the two professional thieves that hound Brooklyn, to break into my friend’s car and steal her laptop.  One could not even see the laptop from outside, but they knew it was there:  They had been observing her bring her child to violin lessons many a Thursday afternoon, and were waiting for the moment she’d be too tired to take her laptop into the class with her.

No, you never leave a laptop (or anything of value) in your vehicle.  True.  But surely it’s still illegal to steal it?  They were lying in wait for her.  I suspect if they hadn’t been interrupted by passersby (yet they got away), they would have taken the car.

The police are despondent.  They are not even allowed to speak up, or the media would flow over with their messages…  they get fired if they do.

I have revised my own opinion of feeling sorry for the crawlers that broke into our home.  I understand that professional thieves are millionaires.  Crime really pays.  A hijacker was followed by a policeman.  The hijacker was in possession of unlicensed firearms (it would not surprise me if we’re talking an assault rifle), and the policeman shot him while he was getting away – shot him in the foot.  The criminal was caught and convicted; got out on bail; a year later, the criminal opens an “attempted murder” case against the police officer and wins!  The police officer was fired.  For doing his job.

The police have already arrested the thieves of my friend’s laptop three times; had them in court three times; and the buggers get out on bail for a ridiculously low bribe.

I vote the following:

Bail should always be a minimum of R1000 for first-time offenders.  (Regardless the crime, because it’s nothing to do with the severity of the crime – everyone is always offered bail in this country – it’s to do with the wealth of the offender.  How is it possible that thieves are offered 50c bail if they have millions in their bank accounts?)

The second time, bail should be R 1 million.

At the third and any further arrest, bail should be no less than R10 million, multiplying by 10 with every offence.

If someone actually comes up with R1 million for bail, the source of the money (the benefactor or whoever) ought to be investigated closely for corruption and other offences.  All this ought to be done very publicly, newspaper coverage and all.  What top gangster bosses fear more than anything else is publicity.

Prison sentences ought to match the crime.  Someone caught speeding should for instance not be punished the same as someone who murdered a family.

Oh, wait, let me clarify this for this STUPID legal system in this country:  Someone who murders ought to be punished more severely than someone who speeds.  Because usually the prison sentences are different – the murderers tend to get off lightly.

Understand that with family murder, it’s not a first-time offence.  The first person you kill is your first offence, the second is your second and the third is your third, i.e. you’re going to pay minimum R1 million bail – which might be enough to prevent suicidal idiots from going through with something like that.  And in the case of farm murders, it will peel open who finances them… by the system of investigating the bribes “benefactor”.

And most importantly:  Judges should be audited.  The law ought to overrule the judge.  Heavy criminals should not be acquitted on technicalities (speak, more bribes).

Hey, and while I’m dreaming, I’d like a pony…