14 May 2021

Celebrating 1.5M Page Views!

Today I'm celebrating my biggest Carpe Librum milestone yet! (Drum roll)

I've just reached 1.5 Million Page Views!

Starting in 2005, I've achieved some great milestones along the way, and the site has undergone many improvements over the years. It took me 12 years to reach 1M page views and just under another 3.5 years to reach 1.5 million. I have a current average of 15,000 views per month, I've published 1,223 blog posts and given away more than $2,000 in books and prizes here at Carpe Librum.

During that time, my passion for books and reading continues to grow regardless of the numbers but it's great to celebrate the milestones as they happen.
Carpe Librum celebrates 1.5 million page views

A massive shout out and thank you to those of you who have been sharing my love of books and reading since the early days and a hearty and bookish welcome to the newbies who have subscribed more recently. If you've enjoyed a book after reading one of my reviews, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section. Maybe you won one of my giveaways and the book is still on your shelf.

Share your favourite highlight of the last 16 years and your contribution towards the 1.5 million page views. 

Thanks for your support and happy reading.

Carpe Librum!

11 May 2021

Review: Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz book cover
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

This is the story of a person who discovers a female victim of crime. If you watch the news, listen to true crime podcasts, watch true crime documentaries or read any crime or true crime books (tick, tick, tick, tick and tick) then you'll be familiar with the fact that human remains are most often found by members of the public. People like you or me. Joggers, dog walkers, bushwalkers, beachcombers and those just enjoying the outdoors, can end up discovering a person by sheer accident. In this novel, Ruby is one such person. 

Author Jacqueline Bublitz takes a unique approach in this novel by focussing on what happens after a member of the public discovers a victim of crime. Presumably their lives are turned upside down, but how do they process the randomness of their discovery and deal with the aftermath? In Before You Knew My Name, Bublitz seeks to find out when Ruby finds the remains of a Jane Doe by the Hudson River in New York. The connection between Ruby and the unidentified murder victim known as Riverside Jane is strengthened and in a unique narrative style, we slowly learn more about Jane's life leading up to the point it was snatched away.

Violence against women and public safety is an important theme in this book, as is the public's obsession with female victims of crime. But don't worry, it doesn't suggest all men are evil and certainly doesn't pretend to have all the answers. This is a story about finding connections in a big city and the generosity of others and I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the online sleuths who attempt to solve cases like these; both in the book and in real life.
"These are the men and women who dedicate themselves to solving cold cases, who learn the names of the official investigators assigned to these cases, and don't hesitate to share their theories with both the police and each other. These self-taught criminologists share concerns about under-resourced police departments and clues potentially missed; they are a small army advancing through the nation of the dead. Points are scored if they can pair a recently discovered Jane or John with a known missing person." Page 195
Before You Knew My Name is not a whodunnit or a whydunnit and doesn't focus on the perpetrator at all. Instead, Jacqueline Bublitz offers a refreshingly unique premise that kept me engaged and is recommended for crime and thriller readers - both new and seasoned - looking for a new perspective.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

10 May 2021

Winner of The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman announced

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway last week to win a copy of The Hope Flower by Australian author Joy Dettman. Entrants correctly identified that Lori had eleven brothers and one sharp-eyed reader noticed the cheeky checkbox "I have eleven brothers, so I deserve to win this giveaway" and earned an additional entry.

The giveaway closed at midnight on Mother's Day, and the winner was drawn today. Congratulations to:


Congratulations Janelle! You've won a print copy of The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman valued at
The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman book cover
$34.99AUD thanks to Pan Macmillan. You'll receive an email from me shortly with the details of your win and your prize will be sent out to you by the publisher.

Enjoy and stay tuned for more giveaway opportunities coming soon. For more details, check out my giveaways page.

Carpe Librum

05 May 2021

Review: The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack

The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack book cover
The Pun Also Rises - How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More than Some Antics
by John Pollack kicks off with a bang! Recalling his attendance at the eighteenth annual world pun championships, the author had me chuckling early on and it continued throughout the book.

Pollack explains many different types and styles of puns, why they're clever, why we find them funny and naturally how they've been decried by some circles throughout history. In basic terms, a pun is a phrase or word that contains layers or multiple meanings. Sometimes it can be a word that has multiple meanings, such as: "An architect in prison complained that the walls were not built to scale." Other times it can be a play on words or the sound of words, such as: "The excitement at the circus is in tents."
"So what's the alchemy at work here? How do the best puns manage to layer so much meaning, humor, even irony into just a few words? And why in the world is punning so intrinsic to human expression that it sparks such mischievous delight?" Page xxiv
There are many different types of puns and early on in the book Pollack also takes pains to say:
"And while linguists have defined the pun's principal forms, its many variations actually defy easy categorization." Page xxiv
Pollack outlines the many ways we can manipulate language for our own amusement and the entertainment and enjoyment of others. The author explains that puns fall into two principal categories, homophonic puns and homographic puns. Homophonic puns are those using words that sound alike (such as 'in tents' and 'intense') and homographic puns involve a word that is spelled the same but contains more than one meaning. There are also paradigmatic puns requiring the listener to grasp a greater context in order to get the joke, and syntagmatic puns where a sequence of similar or identical words are used. A great example of a syntagmatic pun is provided:
"The wedding was beautiful. The bride was in tears, and the cake was in tiers, too." Page 12
It was fun to visit spoonerisms in the book, which is when a person speaking transposes letters or words in a sentence that still manages to makes sense, but in a new and funny way. A well known example from the Oxford don after which spoonerisms are named, occurred when he met Queen Victoria and thanks to a slip of the tongue, said "a half-warmed fish" instead of "a half-formed wish". Whoops!

Pollack gives the reader two definitions of puns from a 1719 essay by Thomas Sheridan the first of which was an absolute highlight of the book. Sheridan described the physical definition of punning as the:
"art of harmonious jingling upon words, which, passing in at the ears, and falling upon the diaphragma, excites a titillary motion in those parts; and this, being conveyed by the animal spirits into the muscles of the face, raises the cockles of the heart." Page 81
Brilliant! I just love this description!

As soon as I started reading this book, I began to notice puns everywhere. I've noticed copious puns showing up in news headlines and articles and they're definitely a firm favourite of the TV host of Lego Masters. 

John Pollack clearly loves puns and provides a detailed history in The Pun Also Rises. I'll admit much of the content was a little dry, however Pollack keeps whetting our appetite by weaving in clever little puns throughout the content. I chuckled at the 'harmonious jingling upon words' reading this, and finished the book with a newfound appreciation for this linguistic talent.

So, where do you sit when it comes to puns? Chuckleworthy or groan inducing?

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

03 May 2021

Review: Gory Details - Adventures from the Dark Side of Science by Erika Engelhaupt

Gory Details - Adventures from the Dark Side of Science by Erika Engelhaupt audiobook cover
Erika Engelhaupt is a science journalist and in Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science, she shines a light on the gross, the bizarre, the taboo and morbidly fascinating elements of science.

Engelhaupt divides her book into the following six parts, each containing multiple chapters:
  1. Morbid Curiosity
  2. That's Disgusting
  3. Breaking Taboos
  4. Creepy Crawlies
  5. Gross Anatomy
  6. Mysterious Minds

Writing the column Gory Details for National Geographic, Engelhaupt covers a broad range of subjects in the book, including a few of my favourite topics of interest:
  • Frances Glessner Lee's dollhouse crime scene dioramas (or nutshells) used to train detectives and forensic investigators
  • Super recognisers and their ability to fight crime
  • Floating feet in British Columbia
  • Fatbergs
  • The Mandela Effect

She also introduced me to fascinating new topics, like:
  • The smell of sickness
  • Necrophilia in the animal kingdom
  • Misophonia, a strong reaction to particular sounds and noises
  • Insects inside the body

Many of these topics had me heading to Google for more information, my interest having been well and truly piqued. I listened to the audiobook of Gory Details, and the short chapters made for excellent reading, often covering a topic in 10-15 mins.

Gory Details by Erika Engelhaupt is highly recommended for trivia buffs and if you enjoy the non fiction writing of Mary Roach or Caitlin Doughty, this is definitely for you. Also recommended for those with an interest in the world of science, biology, anatomy and nature. 

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating: