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Showing posts from 2020

Review: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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There is a lot of charm in this beautifully illustrated fable about a Little Prince who travels through the galaxy in order to escape from a haughty flower who appeared on his tiny home planet. Our narrator is a stranded pilot who finds him in the dessert, and who listens to his story of how he had travelled across the galaxy to find a new home, but nowhere is quite right and everywhere, it seems has its own rules and agenda. The Little Prince is a short and entertaining read, the kind where what the reader gets out of it depends very much on what they put in, and by how much they are willing to trust the narrator with the story instead of guessing what will happen next. Questions of childhood, innocence and imagination and how they become lost in adulthood are abundant, and none is quite so clear as at the end--where an innocent, childlike reading would leave the reader believing in one outcome, while a cynical, adult reading would leave one contemplating quite the opposite. I enjoye

Review: Fangirl the Manga Adaption Volume 1 by Rainbow Rowell, Sam Maggs & Gabi Nam

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Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl gets the Manga treatment in this perfectly adapted and beautifully illustrated volume. The first in a series, this concentrates on the early part of the original--Cath's arrival at college, and her well, obsession with Simon Snow that has developed into a very successful fan fiction. Life at college is tough--first Cather is more or less abandoned by her livelier and more outgoing twin sister Wren, who seems determined to spend her time at college acting like a silly, self absorbed twit. Cath's roommate Reagan is a little bit older and just a little bit scary ... plus Cath is developing a crush on Reagan's friend Levi. And then she has her Dad to worry about--Arthur is bipolar. At least she can find solace in two things--an upper level writing class, and her Simon Snow fan fiction. However, when the two collide, the result isn't pleasant and Cath is left with some serious doubts ... This was surprisingly expensive for a manga published enti

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Did you know ... in Adelaide there’s a train line that goes straight through the middle of a golf course? The Grange line is a single track branch line that beers off the Outer Harbor line. About a kilometre of track goes through the middle of the Royal Adelaide Golf Club at Seaton. #adelaide #grangerailwayline #royaladelaidegolfclub #southaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Aug 30, 2020 at 11:20pm PDT

Linus' Christmas Speech

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  Merry Christmas.

Why Daria Spin-off Jodie Could Just be the TV Series We Need

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It was a while ago now that the news came through that much-loved MTV series Daria was going to get a spin-off more than fifteen years after the original series ended. The title, Daria and Jodie instantly had me wondering ... what on earth was this? A new Daria TV series, but with Jodie Landon as Daria's bestie and sidekick, instead of Jane Lane , the artist and outcast that we all love? Then, a few months ago, a new and arguably bigger announcement came through. This new series was going to be titled Jodie, with Jodie Landon front and centre. And, suddenly, it seemed that this series had a lot more potential. For those of you who don't remember much about the original series--Daria was a teenage outcast at Lawndale High. With Jane by her side, her goal was to get through high school with as little human contact as possible. Possessing a high degree of intelligence, what Daria lacked in charisma and popularity, she well and truly made up for it with sarcasm.  Jodie Landon was

Review: Honour and Other People's Children by Helen Garner

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Following on from the success of Helen Garner's novel  Monkey Grip was Honour and Other People's Children, two novellas published together in a single volume. Both stories talk about the breakdowns of significant relationships. In Honour, we meet Kathleen and Frank, who are married and love one another in a way, but have been happily separated for some years. Frank's new girlfriend Jenny is insisting that he get a divorce, but that is easier said than done, and all three adults find themselves having to negotiate their way around their changing relationships. In the middle of this is a child, Flo, who just wants everyone to get alone. In Other People's Children we meet Scotty and Ruth, two women who are part of a collective household, but whose differences are driving their friendship apart. Garner writes with empathy and insight into the lives of the characters, who are all experiencing changes--welcome and unwelcome--into their personal relationships. Both are set i

Review: Logan Likes Mary Anne by Gale Galligan & Ann M Martin (BSC Graphix 8)

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The eighth novel in the brilliant BSC Graphix series is bittersweet to say the least. On the one hand, we've got Mary Anne in the lead, we meet Logan Bruno for the first time, the girls start eighth grade and Jessi joins the BSC. On the other hand, this is Gale Galligan's last BSC Graphix novel, as she is moving on to other projects. Opening at the end of summer, we find Mary Anne preparing to return to school and feeling well, a little emotional, because her oldest and best friend Kristy has moved across town and this year, the two will not be able to walk to school together. She's also developed a crush on teen heart throb Cam Geary, and the other members of the BSC tease her about it, as girls that age tend to do to one another. Unfortunately, Mary Anne isn't the kind of kid who takes the teasing very well. And these feelings of a crush are confusing ... and they're set to become a whole lot more confusing when a new boy starts at school who looks just like Cam G

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Spotted on South Road #publicart #murals #adelaide #southaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Sep 1, 2020 at 10:09pm PDT

2021 Reading Challenges

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 I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year like no other, and many people will be glad to put it behind them. Reading wise, it was a strange year for me and I did not progress as well with some of the reading challenges that I signed up for as I would have liked. Even so, I have decided to sign up for two reading challenges in 2021, The Nonfiction Reader Challenge and one that I have been doing for so long that it feels like an old friend, The Aussie Author Reading Challenge. The Nonfiction Reader Challenge Hosted by Book'd Out the Nonfiction Reader Challenge is to encourage readers to make nonfiction a part of their reading experience. I have to admit, I don't read a lot of nonfiction. In fact, I can probably list all of the nonfiction books I have read in the past five years on both hands. Consequently, I am signing up in the Nonfiction Nipper category, which asks participants to read three nonfiction books from any of the twelve listed categories. I'll decide w

Happy Christmas (War is Over)

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  Still my favourite Christmas song ... and very relevant for 2020. 

Review: Loveless by Alice Oseman

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British author Alice Oseman's latest novel is a story of a young woman trying to find her identity in a world obsessed with sex and relationships. Georgia is eighteen years old. She has never been in love, and never kissed anyone. And when the opportunity for her first kiss comes along, she finds herself reacting in a totally unexpected way. Is there something wrong with her? When she moves away to start university with her two closest friends she starts questioning herself more and more. How come sex and relationships are so easy for other people, when it is so difficult for her? Loveless is a frank look at the life of a young woman who experiences neither sexual nor romantic attraction. Written by the author of the Heartstopper series of graphic novels, there are strong themes of self-acceptance and coming out when your sexuality is one that many have never heard of.  On the whole this was an entertaining read with some very humorous moments. My only real complaint is that with

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Note to self: never ever walk down this street holding an ice cream cone. Spotted in Woodcroft. #adelaide #funnystreetnames A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Sep 4, 2020 at 8:54am PDT

Silver Bells

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  I spotted this lovely clip on YouTube recently, featuring John Denver's version of Silver Bells.

Review: Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Saleem

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Told totally in verse and inspired by true events, Punching the Air is the story of a young man charged and convicted for a crime that he did not commit. Amal is a talented artist and a poet. He also had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with skin that is the wrong colour. Circumstantial evidence, a testimony from an uptight school teacher and a lawyer who does not work as hard as he should to ensure that Amal gets a fair trial leads to him being sent to a juvenile detention facility where the odds are stacked against him again and again. It's not easy to be an artist in prison, just as it is not easy to be an independent thinker. Most of the kids in juvie are nowhere near as smart as Amal and many are far more aggressive. Racism is rife, throughout the whole prison. The programmes are mostly aimed at crushing kids into submission, rather than focusing on rehabilitation. Only a few people at the prison care, and even then, things often end badly. This wa

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Adelaide Arcade, looking spectacular as always. #adelaidearcade #rundlemall #adelaide #artssouthaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Sep 6, 2020 at 5:55pm PDT

Curiosity Show: How Rare Are Hen's Teeth?

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  An interesting fact--I did not know this one! I did, however, correctly guess the perception puzzle at the end. Can you?

Review: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

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There are some books I read because they are sent to me. Other books are recommendations. Some books I find in bookshops. And then there are books like Kitchen . A few weeks ago, I started seeing this book everywhere. First I saw someone reading a copy while I was on the bus. Then I saw someone else reading it in Victoria Square. Then I saw a third person reading it in as many days (this time at a cafĂ©,) and my interest was and truly piqued.  Kitchen , it turns out, is a collection featuring two novellas with themes of grief and the healing power of food. The first and longer novella, titled Kitchen is about Mikage, a young college student, who, following on from the death of the grandmother who had raised her, is invited to stay with one of her classmates and his mother, an eccentric transgender woman who is intent on living her life to the fullest. Midway through the story, Eriko is murdered. Both Mikage and Yuichi must learn to live without her. Fortunately, Mikage has learned abou

Review: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

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Debut novelist Tracy Deonn takes on Arthurian legend and gives it a thoroughly contemporary twist in Legendborn . Bree Matthews is sixteen years old and has just qualified to take part in an early entry programme at college. The same day she learns this news, her mother passes away in a traffic accident ... or was it? As Bree moves through the stages of grief and starts at her new school, mysterious and magical things start to happen--both on or near campus, but more importantly, inside Bree. To get to the bottom of what is going on, she infiltrates a secret society, the Legendborn, who soon reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur's knights. And if that wasn't scary enough, it seems that Bree herself may be their biggest enemy ... For me, Legendborn was a novel that started out big, with a wonderful, emotional hook, a strong heroine and an interesting plot. Unfortunately, my interest began to waver after about a hundred pages in, and the novel felt overlong and pac

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Bright & colourful flowerpots at Glenelg. #publicart #glenelg #adelaide #southaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Sep 8, 2020 at 3:00am PDT

Curiosity Show: The Odd Symmetry of a Choice Tomato

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  Another great clip from the Curiosity Show. As well as being an excellent resource for children, there's a bit of a brain teaser in there for adults.

Review: How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones

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Stella has always known that she was adopted, and she's cool with that. What she's not cool with, however, is her Dad's gambling addiction, which has forced the family to move out of their home and into Fairyland, a dilapidated old caravan park. A few days before the move, she receives a letter from her birth mother and suddenly, she finds herself wanting to know more about her biological family ... How to Grow a Family Tree packs a huge range of topics and issues into its 327 pages. There's adoption, addiction, mental illness, rape, good old fashioned communication issues and, of course, one of Stella's oldest male friends is completely in love with her, only she can't see that. The difficulty with all of these story lines is that not one of them are fleshed out as much as they had the potential to be. I felt as though this one was trying so hard to tick all of the right boxes that it missed its potential. On the other hand, the book has some lovely themes abo

Review: Untwisted by Paul Jennings

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From the moment I learned that beloved Australian author Paul Jennings had released a memoir I was in two minds. On the one hand, this, this was the author who had created Round the Twist , one of the most memorable Australian Television series of all time--and it comes complete with one very catchy theme song. ( Discover the theme song here. ) On the other, I had two equally solid reasons to pass. The first was that much of the publicity focused on the fact that Jennings had abusive father, and those kinds of discussions--though important--can be very difficult for me to read about. The second was that my initial introduction to Paul Jennings' books wasn't that great. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jennings was best known for releasing volumes of short stories with titles like Unreal! -- books that belonged squarely in the domain of 'lets make reading cool for kids.' Which, you know, is fine except when I discovered Paul Jennings at age ten, I was already an avid r

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Beautiful vertical garden and mural at a cafe on The Parade, Norwood #verticalgarden #mural #publicart #theparade #norwood #adelaide #southaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Sep 13, 2020 at 5:45am PDT

Review: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

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A short fable for older readers and adults, Jonathan Livingston Seagull tells the story of the titular character whose goal is to fly. To really fly, not just to do well, but to soar. The only problem is that the rest of his flock disagree. For them, flying is just a means to find food, and what Jonathan is considered strange and, eventually, suspicious. However, Jonathan believes that any seagull can do more than just fly, and even his expulsion from the flock does not deter his quest to soar. And once he has perfected that, all that is left is to teach those willing to learn, just how to soar ... This was a short, beautifully written fable about the importance of following your dreams, the need to be true to oneself and the personal satisfaction that can be gained from doing so, and to keep doing so, despite setbacks, despite the expectations of others and despite a lack of understanding from others. Many of the pages are beautifully illustrated with photographs of seagulls, many of

Friday Funnies: No Dogs Allowed

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  This week, I am sharing another classic Disney clip for Friday Funnies. In this one, Mickey Mouse tries to board a train, which has a no dog's rule. I guess they've never heard of assistance dogs, and the whole thing seems kind of strange given that Mickey is a mouse and the conductor is clearly a cat. (Then again, Mickey and the conductor are anthropomorphic, and Pluto is not. Still, I wonder how Goofy would get on ...) Anyway, Mickey participates in a bout of cruelty to animals by stuffing Pluto inside a suitcase and the conductor gets rather angry about it ...

Review: The Greatest Hit by Will Kostakis

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Forming part of the recent Australia Reads promotion, The Greatest Hit is a ripping little short story about a young, first year uni student who encounters her first love, the girl that she hurt back in high school. When Tessa was fourteen, she recorded a song on YouTube that went viral. Even now, four years later, she's still known as the girl from that video. Which would be fine except that one, it's completely embarrassing and two, what people don't know is that the song, I Love Him was originally I Love Her and was written for Charlie, a girl from her new school who she had slowly fallen in love with. Going back and forth between the past and the present, the reader experiences Tessa's heartbreak at seeing her first love again, and just how her age, and a lack of confidence led to her making a decision that broke Charlie's heart. But, maybe, now that she's older and wiser, she might just have the opportunity to make things right. This was an enjoyable read

Review: All This Time by Mikki Daughty and Rachael Lippincott

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Kyle and Kimberley are the perfect teenage couple. Or so it seems. Or, at least, that it what Kyle would like to think, but at the evening of their high school graduation things start to unravel. Upset, confused and just wanting to get away from everything, Kyle jumps into his car. Kyle loses control of the vehicle ... and eight weeks later, he wakes with a brain injury and the devastating news that Kimberley is dead. As he starts the long duel processes of grieving for Kimberley and his own recovery, Kyle meets Marley, a girl who knows exactly what Kyle is going through. But nothing is quite as it seems in this twisty story of love, loss and accepting the things that cannot be change ... This story starts off with one hell of an emotional ride. During the chapters that focus on Kyle's recovery, I felt a little confused--something about the pacing felt a little off, and so did a few other key details. However, these were soon explained by a twist halfway through the novel, that, w

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

  View this post on Instagram Today on my way home, I stopped to tie my laces and discovered these mushrooms growing in a crack between the pavement and the stairs that lead to the Supreme Court. #adelaide #kingwilliamstreet #southaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Sep 18, 2020 at 2:52am PDT

Curiosity Show: Word Puzzle

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  This week, another fun clip from the Curiosity Show. 

Review: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

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I have probably mentioned Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on this blog a time or two before, and if so, I would have relayed an anecdote from my high school years about a teacher who often had a copy of this book with him. (That said, however, memory is often unreliable. I may have only seen him once or twice with the book but it was enough to make an impression on me.) Anyway, the teacher's name was Mr Carlsson. He was a very well liked and well-respected teacher at our school, and on a more personal note, he helped me get my first article published when I was just seventeen years old and in my final year of high school. I was sad to hear that Mr Carlsson had passed away recently, and I found myself, once again, driven to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (I had first read this book in 2013, when I was going through a slightly belated quarter life crisis. By then, the book had taken on a strange, almost symbolic and deeply personal quality, a reminder that