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Showing posts from January, 2018

Review: That Eye, the Sky by Tim Winton

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Tim Winton is, without a doubt, one of Australia's best-loved authors. With this in mind, it is surprising just how difficult it is to find copies of his early novels--or, more to the point, anything that was published prior to Cloudstreet.  Over the years, I've managed to acquire all of his early novels from various secondhand bookshops and even from the odd visit to the Salvos or Vinnies (I even have a first edition of An Open Swimmer , which is close to falling apart,) and I got a bit excited when In the Winter Dark was finally published as a pocket Penguin but one book remained consistently evasive. That Eye, The Sky was originally published by McPhee (a now defunct Australian publisher,) in 1986 and about ten years ago was republished by Penguin. And a few weeks ago, I managed to get a hold of the Penguin edition. (Fair enough, I probably could have bought the eBook. But eBooks by Australian authors are always horribly expensive. And I wanted a paperback to keep on th

Review: Kirsty and the Great Campaign (BSC TV Series Episode 4)

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Kristy may have been the President of the BSC and the member of the club who narrated the first book, but when it came to the TV series, she had to wait until episode four to get to the title role. This one is a cute enough story about Kristy helping Courtney, a shy baby-sitting charge to run for student council against a particularly arrogant and annoying kid (who just happens to have an equally arrogant and annoying brother who is the same age as Kristy,) anyway, both Courtney and Kristy learn some valuable lessons about responsibility and listening to others along the way. The only thing I could remember at all about this one was the catchphrase Count on Court and I have a sneaking suspicion that I only saw it once. Or maybe it just wasn't that memorable.

Review: Mummy Fairy and Me by Sophie Kinsella

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Mummy Fairy and Me is British author Sophie Kinsella's first foray into writing for children. One might ask what prompted the shift, but keep in mind that although Kinsella is most famous for the Shopaholic series, she's also written a number of best sellers using her legal name, Madeleine Wickham, and it was only a couple of years ago that she released Finding Audrey , a YA novel about one young woman's journey through social anxiety. Anyway, Mummy Fairy and Me is an entertaining collection of stories that reminded me just a little of The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch by Nicki Greenburg, and also of Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher. (I guess the era of funny junior novels is well and truly upon us.) Ella Brook is a fairy in waiting. Her mummy is a fairy. Or, well, her mummy is a rather, dare I say, frazzled fairy who has trouble operating her wand, which has some remarkable similarities to a smart phone. (No doubt any kid who has watched their parent struggle

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathrynsinbox) on Jan 1, 2018 at 11:02pm PST I spotted an entire fluff of Furbies recently when I walked through the Central Market. Positioned in and around the existing mural, they gave the area a fun and cheeky look that I loved.

Friday Funnies: Sit

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Lol!

Review: Akarnae by Lynette Noni

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A little bit Harry Potter, a little bit Narnia, Akarnae is an intriguing YA fantasy debut from Australian author Lynette Noni. Alex is dreading her first day at a dreary boarding school full of mean girls, but life takes a very unexpected, and perhaps welcome, twist, when she opens a door and finds herself within another realm. Medora is a world that is just like earth, but also completely different. Here, people have different skills and some have special gifts. And Alex, it seems is one of the gifted. Fortunately, Akarnae Academy, a school for the gifted is willing to take her on full scholarship. And the adventures--new friendships, and a very scary enemy are just the beginning. I picked this one up for one reason--I'd never heard of it or it's author. The fact that it was published by a smaller publisher was also another plus. I like giving review space on my blog to up and coming authors, particularly up and coming Australian authors. Anyway, a short search on goo

Review: The Dangers of Truffle Hunting by Sunni Overend

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Easily the best debut I've read in a long time by an Australian author, The Dangers of Truffle Hunting celebrates what it truly means for a woman to be true to herself.  Kit Gossard is a photographer with an eye for the fun and messy parts of life. Employed as a food photographer for an upmarket magazine, she finds herself wanting to take pictures of food that is well, being enjoyed, rather than the staid and highly stylised photographs that we so often see in magazines and cookbooks. This finds her at odds with the staff at the magazine, and also with her fiancĂ©, metrosexual Scott who is making a name for himself designing furniture. Scott is, quite frankly, a bit of an arse, but Kit cannot see that. Life starts to get a bit more messy and interesting, however, when Kit meets Raph, an attractive foreigner who shares her approach to life. But there may be more than one thing that is keeping this pair of star crossed lovers apart ... This book was a real treat for the s

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathrynsinbox) on Jan 1, 2018 at 11:02pm PST I spotted this gorgeous little pooch down at Glenelg recently, on a fence not so far away from the Haighs shop. I think he looks great, don't you?

Friday Funnies: Peppermint Patty

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Lol!

Review: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

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Prince Caspian opens a year after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ended. Or, at least, it opens one earth year after Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund all found themselves transported back to earth via the wardrobe. In Narnia, much time has passed. Lucy and her siblings have been reduced to the stuff of legends and an impostor sits on the throne of a different--and much more miserable--Narnia, while the rightful heir, Prince Caspian has only just discovered who he truly is. When he finds Queen Susan's horn and blows it, the four Pensive children find themselves transported back to Narnia--which is quite a pleasant surprise, really, considering that they were all at the railway station on their way to boarding school. Lucy and the others must all work together to ensure that the rightful King of Narnia finds his way to the throne ... I enjoyed reading this one, and perhaps more so because I skipped The Horse and His Boy and was able to be reacquainted with the Lucy (my fa

Review: Stacey's Big Break (BSC TV Series Episode 3)

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Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it. How come Stacey's diabetes was never mentioned in the scene where the Baby-sitters all go out for pizza? This was a massive plot point in the books--two books depicted the implications of Stacey's illness, and it was usually mentioned at any time when the sitters had a party that they brought in special food to accommodate Stacey's dietary requirements. I'm almost having a much trouble understanding that as I am understanding why Stacey would give up an entire modelling career in order to attend a play that is being put on by the Baby-sitters club that no one else, apart from a handful of neighbourhood kids showed up to? And why were they pushing Charlotte so hard to participate, when she clearly wasn't interested. Anyway ...  In the third instalment of the Baby-sitters Club TV series, Stacey gets "discovered" and starts working as a model. First posing for catalogues, and then by winning a fres

Review: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

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Being in desperate need of some cheering up, I purchased this graphic novel the other week and I found myself completely drawn in by this autobiographical account of Telgemier's years in Middle School, and her first year of high school. This happened, despite the fact that after I read and reviewed Drama (another Telgemeier graphic novel,) I decided that these books really were just for kids and I should bloody well read something a bit more age appropriate. Anyway, I bought a copy of Smile just at the right time and it turned out to be the right book to turn my shitty day around. Smile tells the story of an accident that led to the loss of the author's two front teeth when she was in sixth grade. What follows is years of painful dental visits, braces and, at one point she has to wear a retainer with two false teeth attached. While all of this is going on, she has to navigate her first crush, the discovery of her real love (drawing) and some pretty awful bullying from

Friday Funnies: Still a Dog

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Review: This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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Set across fifty-four minutes This is Where it Ends tells the story of a school shooting, and it's impact on four students, all of whom are connected in some way with the lone gunman. Clare, Thomas, Sylvia and Autumn all have a reason to fear Tyson. Clare is his ex-girlfriend, Thomas wants to protect his twin sister Sylv from Tyson (there is a history of sexual assault,) and Autumn is the girlfriend of Sylv and the younger sister of Tyson. And today, Tyson has walked inside Opportunity High with a gun. He wants to punish the kids who ostracised him, and he wants to punish our four main characters by forcing them to watch. This story is made all the more horrific by the reality of just how common school shootings have become. It gives a very human side to the story--different to the headlines that we might see or hear about. The most tragic part of the story of all is that Tyson does it because he wants notoriety. He wants those who were close to him to suffer, and he w

Review: The Wanted by Robert Crais

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When a single mother finds a very expensive Rolex amongst her awkward and nerdy seventeen year old son's belongings, she has cause for concern. Tyson certainly has been behaving oddly recently. Desperate to get to the bottom of it all, she calls Private Investigator Elvis Cole. Cole soon finds evidence linking Tyson and his friends to a string of high profile burglaries ... but that is only the tip of the ice burg. Tyson may be in trouble with more people than just the law. It seems as though he may have burgled the wrong house and people ... This was a fast paced crime novel set in Los Angeles. The author wastes no time, or words with his short prose, which made for a quick read. Cole is an interesting protagonist--he certainly gets involved in his cases. That said, this one didn't have a great impact on me--as a reviewer, I can find little to complain about, or, conversely, to compliment. If you want an escapist but still gritty crime novel set in one of the glitziest

Review: Dawn and the Haunted House (BSC TV Series Episode 2)

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The second episode of the BSC TV series may have Dawn's name in the title, but it focuses almost as much on Claudia. As the episode opens, a few members of the BSC are out and about on their bicycles, putting up flyers to advertise their business. After one flyer is nailed to a post, Dawn points out Mrs Slade's house to the others. Dawn believes that she is a witch, but the other girls aren't convinced ... or are they. Later they return to BSC headquarters where they meet up with Claudia, whose behaviour is a little well, odd. What the other girls don't know (or what Claudia won't tell them,) is that she's having trouble with her schoolwork and her parents are going to make her quit the BSC unless her grades pick up. Meanwhile, the BSC gains some new clients who, as it turns out just happen to live next door to Mrs Slade. The new sitting charges are quick to tell Dawn and Stacey some scary stories about Mrs Slade. That, and a strange encounter at a hardw

Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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This is the edition I had when I was a kid. I still own it, along with a commemorative edition I don't think that anyone ever really forgets their first visit to Narnia ... for me, my first visit came about when I was playing at a friend's house and, suddenly, she turned the TV on and said that there was a really good show about to start on Channel 2. (Back the late 80s, that's what we all used to call the ABC.) The show was the first instalment of the animated series of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe . I was utterly intrigued and ended up watching the next three episodes at home as they were broadcast.* A few years later, when I became interested in books (I never took much interest in books until I was eight, nearly nine,) this was one of the first children's classics that I took interest in reading. Lucky for me, The Afternoon Show the BBC live action version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I found an absolutely beautiful TV tie-in edition at

The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist (HQ)

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Just wanted to share this one as it is one of my all time favourite video clips--it's madness at it absolute, perfectly timed best. PS My favourite part is the ghosts swaying in the background.

Review: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

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Well before Fifty Shades of Grey , and even the novels of Jackie Collins, was this steamy, controversial and ultimately, trashy, novel that topped the bestseller lists back in the 1960s. Written by an entertainment industry insider, this page turner tells the story of three very different women and their rise and fall, just as the American entertainment industry is experiencing is greatest change, the advent of television. Anne is the nice girl next door, a moderately wealthy young woman from Boston who aspires to be something better than a wife and mother, the role that everyone assumes will be hers from the time she is born. She shocks everyone by leaving for New York and working first as a secretary and then as a model. She experiences a string of high profile relationships, however, her ultimate downfall is her infatuation with the charismatic and caddish Lyon. Neely is an impulsive young woman with nerves of steel (at least some of the time,) who is determined to do whatev

Review: Mary Anne and the Brunettes (BSC TV Series Episode 1)

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Here's a confession. I always felt that on the front covers of the Baby-sitters Club books, they never really got Mary-Anne right. Initially, she looked like a clean cut version of Wednesday Adams, later she looked well, what teenager in the 1980s or early 1990s wore their hair in two ponytails? (Especially after they'd just spent years resenting the fact that their father made them wear their hair in braids?) And then came the haircut that made her look like she was about thirty. Fortunately, when they cast the BSC TV series, they got it right. Meghan Lahey who plays Mary Anne looks like an ordinary teenager. An ordinary teenager with medium length hair (that she wears down,) and who comes across as a bit shy, but perhaps a little bit more mature than some of the other girls in the club.  Anyway, because in some senses Mary Anne is a bit more mature than the others, it seems fitting that the first episode of the TV series (and the only one to have Mary Anne take centre