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Showing posts from July, 2020

Curiosity Show Reunite on Channel 10

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Review: There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

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Twin sisters Eva and Mana live surprisingly similar lives, in spite of the fact that they live on opposite sides of the world in very different countries. In Prague, Eva lives on a flat on the third floor with her grandson Ludek. In Melbourne, Mana lives on a flat on the third floor with her husband, Bill, and her granddaughter, Mala.  Both houses are filled with much warmth and love, though both Mana and Ludek are growing up in the shadow of events that occurred many years before they were born, events that shaped and determined the lives of both sisters--the one who stayed in Prague after 1938 and the one who escaped to England with the help of their father, and the one who stayed behind and saw their home change through a war it's aftermath and then the events of 1968. Set in 1980 the stories of the two families are mostly told through the eyes of Mala and Ludek and are told in a way that is sparse but beautiful. No words are wasted as the author describes the freedom of childho

Review: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

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What do you get if you combine a world that's shaped like a disc and carried on the back of a giant turtle, a spectacularly incompetent wizard, Death, the world's first tourist and a piece of luggage that is made entirely out of wood and carries itself with its multiple pairs of legs? Why, Terry Pratchett's first Discworld novel of course! A spectacular work of humour and imagination, this one tells the story of Twoflower, Discworld's very first tourist and Rincewind, a wizard who did not pass his exams and who is now tasked with guiding Twoflower through a number of magical and very dangerous lands. There is plenty of laughs and surprising twists and turns to be had in this one as the pair try very hard to outwit Death (think, the grim reaper,) as he tries so very hard to claim Rincewind. Divided into four seconds that are roughly eighty pages long, the pair navigate various lands, meeting a number of strange people along the way, until they very nearly fall off the ed

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

View this post on Instagram Christie Creek Trail #fleurieupeninsula #adelaide #southaustralia A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Jun 28, 2020 at 5:50pm PDT

The Baby-Sitters Club Netflix Series is Here! And it's Brilliant!

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One of the biggest surprises to come out of 2020 (well, you know, apart from a global pandemic,) is that iconic children's book series, The Baby-Sitters Club has been reinvented as a Netflix original series. From the moment that I discovered the series was going to be a thing, I was worried. How could they possibly make certain iconic parts of the series relevant for the target audience in 2020? I mean, come on. No one uses landlines anymore. And some books, such as Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls are pretty dated.  Then I started hearing bits and pieces about the show that started to make me think that maybe, just maybe the people behind it really knew what they were doing. From the moment that it was announced that Alicia Silverstone was cast in the role of Elizabeth Thomas (aka Kristy's mum,) and Mark Feuerstein as Watson Brewer, it was clear that the producers might just be finding a way to create a series that was relevant to contemporary viewers. And then the casting

Review: Coraline The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman and P Craig Russell

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Coraline gets a spooky retelling in this beautifully (yet fittingly eerie,) graphic novel. For those who came in late, Coraline is the story of a girl who moves to a once grand mansion that has been divided into flats with her parents. It's the summer holidays, and bored, Coraline takes to exploring the flat. But nothing and no one is terribly exciting, especially not her old and eccentric neighbours. But then Coraline finds a mysterious door. On the other side is a woman who looks just like her mother, except that she has buttons for eyes. And she goes to some pretty nasty lengths to try and claim Coraline for her own. I was truly amazed by just how well Neil Gaiman's gothic novel Coraline translates as a graphic novel. There's something eerie, and so, so fitting about P Craig Russell's illustrations. Everything, from the Other Mother to Coraline's initial boredom inside her new flat is perfectly told and illustrated. In fact, I'm going to come out and say it.

Friday Funnies: Vyvyan Loses His Head

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Just sharing this classic moment from The Young Ones . 

Review: Her Perilous Mansion by Sean Williams

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The latest middle grade novel from Australian author Sean Williams is full of spooky fun. Almanac and Etta are two kids who haven't had the best of luck. Almanac is an orphan and Etta is the youngest of twelve daughters. Neither have terribly great prospects in life, but when both are invited to work at a fabulous mansion, it seems that their luck is about to change. Then they arrive at the mansion and find that the estate and all of those within it are more than a little unusual. Could it be that the mansion has a curse on it? And if so, will Almanac and Etta be the ones to break it? This was a lot of fun and a real ripper of a read. Although pitched at younger readers, this one is an ideal all-ages read. The character/world building is quite good--both the mansion and the curse were crafted in such a way that they felt very much like characters in their own right. The humour works very well, and I felt that there was a bit of a Terry Pratchett influence in there.  Lots of fun. Hi

Review: Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy

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Carefully and painstakingly researched, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy is an account of the terrible nuclear disaster that occurred  on April 25 1986. Author Serhii Pliokhy gives readers a minute by minute account of the disaster, which occurred during safety tests, along with an understanding of the dangerous political climate at the time, the fallout afterward, and of course, the tragic outcomes for so many innocent people.  If you ever want to truly understand what happened, this is probably the most comprehensive book you will ever find on the topic. The author truly 'gets' his subject and explains it carefully to the reader, so that it can be understood and appreciated by those of us who don't have a degree in nuclear physics (i.e. most people.) Accounts of what happened to various people on the frontline of the tragedy are told in a dramatic style.  There's no doubt that what unfolded was a tragedy (as the title suggests,) and human side of things was very hard

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses has certainly gained a lot of attention since it was published in 2015 and it is not difficult to see why. There are certainly some dark--and sexy--themes in this supposedly YA level fantasy novel.  Feyre is the youngest of three daughters and somewhat neglected by her father and sisters. Despite their indifferences, she fine turns her skills as a hunter so that she may keep her poor and starving family fed. On a hunt one day, she kills a massive wolf. Soon after a creature appears at her door, declaring her a murderer. And to pay for the life that she has taken, she must follow him into the neighbouring lands, where she will be his prisoner. Only being a prisoner amongst some beautiful, magical and cursed fae doesn't quite involve what Feyre expects because ... yes, you guessed it, this is a retelling of beauty and the beast. This one is a light, guilty pleasure read that gives the reader everything that is promised on the cover. Feyre makes for an int

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

View this post on Instagram Spotted on Beach Road Christies Beach near Rotary Park #publicart #streetart #beachroad #christiesbeach #fleurieupeninsula #adelaide #southaustralia #motivation A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Jun 29, 2020 at 2:09am PDT

Happy Dance | Peanuts

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Short, sweet and very cute. Go Snoopy!

Review: The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris

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Cate Morris is reluctantly starting anew. Following on from her husband's suicide, and being made redundant at her job four years later, she and her son, Leo find themselves moving to her husband's family estate--a place that he hated and never visited, and where they find themselves less than welcome by the caretaker, a cantankerous old woman named Aramantha. However, the estate also happens to be home to Hatters Museum, a once grand Victorian era museum filled with surprising taxidermic exhibits. Over time Cate finds herself charmed by the museum, but not before a series of events and revelations forces her to confront her own role in Richard's suicide. For me, this novel was a tear jerker in some places, and utterly infuriating in others. I didn't care for the author's style of withholding certain details; I found Leo to be wonderful and well thought out character in his own right without the deception. Nor was I a fan of Cate's romance with Patch, which I fe

Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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Anyone who picks up a copy of Good Omens for the first time is in for a treat. This novel is simply delicious as it pokes gentle fun at humankind ... or to be more specific, humankind, angels, demons and a few other things in the eleven days leading up to the apocalypse. Aziraphale is an angel, sent to look over the earth and do good works and well, ensure that his side wins the all out war scheduled to occur between good and evil. Crawley is a serpent, who is sent by the other side to do evil and to ensure that his side wins the war. The only trouble is that the pair have found that they both have far more in common with each other, they're both rather sick of their jobs and neither of them are particularly interested in being a part of a war. Meanwhile, various characters who have their part to play in the apocalypse go about playing their part, often with comic results. And then there is eleven year old Adam Young, the rather spirited eleven year old boy and leader of a gang in

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

View this post on Instagram Ps Guess which iconic piece of public art in Rundle Mall celebrated its 21st birthday today. #rundlemall #adelaide #publicart A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Jul 3, 2020 at 6:44am PDT

Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Coraline is a novel that is as delightful as it is scary. Featuring a young protagonist, but with a plot more suitable for readers over the age of twelve, it tells the story of Coraline, an only child who has recently moved to a new flat with her parents. Both of her parents are busy and the other residents are as old as they are odd, so Coraline finds herself feeling quite lonely. She takes it upon herself to explore the building--a former grand old manor that has been converted into flats. And on the other side of a door she finds two people with big, scary black buttons for eyes who claim to be her "other parents." The other mother wants her to stay there forever, and begins a deadly game where traps are set, and Coraline knows that she must go back ... This was a twist, scary gothic novel with a big heart and a hell of a lot of imagination. I enjoyed the sense of not knowing what would happen next, while I wished Coraline all the best as she went about trying to fix the m

Review: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M Martin (BSC 2)

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After having such a great time reading and reviewing Kristy's Great Idea, I just couldn't resist picking up the second book in the Baby-Sitters Club series, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls. Then, just as I found myself opening the book, I hesitated. Was this really such a good idea? Was it even really a good idea of Scholastic to reprint and reissue the book? After all, there is a good reason the title was skipped when the series was reimagined as graphic novels. The concept is awfully dated. In this volume, there is a burglar targeting houses in neighbouring towns, who the police have dubbed The Phantom. (I wonder if Lee Falk considered suing over this?) The Phantom's MO is simple, they phone the house they plan to burgle. If someone answers the phone, The Phantom knows that they are home. If no one answers the phone, The Phantom knows that they can break inside the home without being caught. It's a crude technique, but it was one that was indeed quite effective in

Curiosity Show: What is the origin of OK?

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Review: A Particular Woman by Ashley Dawson-Damer

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Ashley Dawson-Damer has experienced quite an eventful life, as a philanthropist, the trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a model, the wife of a British aristocrat who tragically died in a car race and a jet setter during the 1960s. In her memoir, A Particular Woman , she gives a loving account to a life lived to the fullest, whilst sharing how she juggled a career with her role as a wife and mother.  Reading this one felt much like reading one of those in-depth accounts that I occasionally see in the Australian Women's Weekly, of local woman who've made it, who've managed to live a wholesome and successful life and perhaps even paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps. What I particularly enjoyed about this one is that the author gives equal footing to describing her domestic life, her beautiful home in the country and her love for, and time spent with, her husband and their two children. Of course, there were sad times too, a pregnancy that ended s

Review: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

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There is an eerie sense of claustrophobia almost from page one in The Other Passenger , the latest twisty thriller from British author Louise Candlish. It is the day after the Christmas break and Jamie has just boarded the river bus, the boat that takes him on his daily commute to work. Middle aged Jamie is keen to see Kit, his cool, charismatic and younger travel companion, but today, Jamie is nowhere to be seen on the boat. His other travel companion refuses to talk to him. Then two police officers board the boat. Kit has been reported missing. The last person to see him was Jamie. And another passenger has claimed to have seen the two men arguing. But Jamie didn't harm Kit ... did he? The novel zigzags between the past year and the present, telling the story of the friendship between Jamie and Kit, and their partners Claire and Melia. There are plenty of deceptions, undercurrents and quiet frankly, none of are terribly nice people. However, the biggest divide between them all is

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

View this post on Instagram Mockingbird Lounge, Glenelg #bookshop #cafe #glenelg #adelaide #southaustralia #bookstagram #aussiereaders #australiaisreading #bibliophile A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathryns_inbox) on Feb 1, 2020 at 6:59pm PST

Review: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M Martin

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With the new Baby-Sitters Club TV series making its debut on Netflix this week and with the first six Baby-Sitters Club books being released with some fun and pretty new covers, I just couldn't resist re-reading this one and adding a review on here. Kristy's Great Idea is, obviously the book that kicked off the series. Originally intended as a four book miniseries, it tells the story of how Kristy Thomas comes up with the idea of setting up a baby-sitting business after her mother struggles to find a baby-sitter for her younger brother, David Michael. She rounds up three very different girls, cool and creative Claudia Kishi, who lives across the street and provides not only the venue, but the phone line for the club, Claudia's new friend, cool girl Stacey McGill, who has recently moved to the small town of Stoneybrook from New York and shy and quiet Mary Anne, who lives alone with her strict father in the house next door to Kristy. From there, the reader is treated to a nu

Review: Peta Lyre's Rating Normal by Anna Whateley

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Peta Lyre is a teenage living in a world that just isn't designed for the way her mind works. She's on the autism spectrum, has ADHD and SPD. She's academically gifted, but she doesn't always do well at school. And she's also the main character of this very awesome book about first loves and self-acceptance. Peta is aware that she's not the same as a "typical" teenager, but she follows the advice of her therapist that will help her fit in. And since she moved in with her aunt, and away from her fighting parents and her mother who does not--and will not try--to understand her, life has been getting better. At her new school, she can be with her best friend Jeb, a savvy streetwise kid whose home life is far from ideal. And she's found a friend in the new girl--Sam. Their friendship blossoms in a surprising, but wonderful way, on a school skiing trip. Then things start to fall apart and Peta needs to decide whether the rules that she has been living b

Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding

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The Swap is a wicked, scandalous page-turner about one night, a very nasty woman playing a dangerous game and a lonely teenager intent on revenge. Low Morrison is a lonely kid in her final year of high school. Life on an isolated island with her hippy, polygamist parents has left her bereft of the usual teenage experiences and consequently, she is struggling to find not only her place in the world, but an ability to form meaningful relationships with others. That all begins to change when she encounters the glamorous and worldly Freya, a former small time actress who is married to a former hockey player. The lives of Freya and Maxime have more or less been ruined by a massive scandal that has played out openly in the media. but to Low, Freya is nothing but wonderful and exciting. Then along comes Jamie, a woman who has moved to the island with her husband, an English teacher turned author. The adults all have a lot more in common and Low is soon ditched. And that is where the story sh