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Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

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It would be  easy to sum up Normal People in one word. Overhyped. After all, Normal People has been discussed endlessly in the media, on Goodreads, on social media sites such as Instagram (better known among its many devotees as bookstagram.) The book has already been made into a BBC Three/Hulu series with a second series forthcoming and is reached the saturation point where it's possible to find Normal People gifs and memes on twitter and facebook. If readers are well, a little sick of hearing about Normal People, then who could possibly blame them?  On the other hand, Normal People clocked up some fabulous achievements. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Women's Prize for fiction in 2018, and it won the Costa Book Award and Book of the Year for the British Book Awards. On the other side of the Atlantic, Kirkus gave the novel one of their coveted starred reviews. And did I mention that the author was in her mid-twenties at the time the book was published? I

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”  ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Review: Kristy and the Snobs by Chan Chau (BSC Graphix 10)

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The tenth BSC Graphix novel turns its attention to BSC President Kristy Thomas. This isn't much of a surprise, given that Kristy had one of the strongest plot lines of the early novels. A tomboy, well organised and occasionally a little too bossy, she's the perfect character to find herself in a rags to riches storyline. Her mother has now married millionaire Watson Brewer. Kristy has not been affected by her new lifestyle. She's still Kristy, she still wears the same clothes, she has the same friends and she still goes to the same school. It is just that Kristy is having problems with the kids in her new, wealthy neighbourhood.  The main instigator is Shannon, a girl the same age as Kristy, who makes fun of her clothes, the Baby-sitters Club and she even makes fun of Kristy's beloved collie Louie, who is old and sick with arthritis. But when Shannon starts playing mean pranks on Kristy while she's baby-sitting, and potentially puts the kids in danger, it's obvi

Aunt Cole's Believe it Or Get Bent

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  Actor Melissa George made her fortune in part by the invention of magnetic, removable hem clips. 

Review: To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

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The fifth Bridgerton novel turns its attention to Eloise, the fifth born Bridgerton and best friend (and now sister-in-law) of Penelope Fetherington. Eloise is twenty-eight years old, outspoken and a spinster by choice, having now turned down six proposals. She also enjoys writing letters and will find any excuse to write one. When she sends a short note of condolence to Sir Phillip Crane after his wife passes away, she does not intend for it to eventually lead to a proposal of marriage. Or that she would run away from the family home to meet him. Or that the pair would be complete opposites, and unable to get along. This was an entertaining, light romance about a pair of opposites who turn out to be the perfect match for one another. There are lots of laugh out loud Bridgeton moments (the shotgun wedding is a particular highlight,) in between a few raunchy scenes and a bit of romance. I enjoyed this one as just a bit of fun and I will probably read the next book in the series soon.  R

Review: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

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Published many years before Animal Farm (and, consequently 1984, ) Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London is a work of auto fiction, based on two stints the author spent in poverty. The first was a deliberate act, with Orwell posing as a tramp for two months in London. The second arose while living in Paris, Orwell was recovering from an injury when he was robbed. Down and Out in Paris and London takes these two experiences and changes a few of the details and some of the names around, presumably so that people wouldn't recognise themselves or suffer any embarrassment, so that he can expose a bigger issue--of what it really means to be living below the poverty line and how easily those who have nothing can be exploited. The novel opens in Paris (see, I told you some of the details had been changed,) with Orwell unemployed and living in a cheap hotel. An entire chapter is devoted to a vile man he meets there (basically, the man goes about in pubs bragging about how he had r

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”  ~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Greetings From the Unicorner: A Random Sweet Valley Post

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Sweet Valley High ... as a graphic novel? You bet. In 2019 the first (and to date only,) Sweet Valley High graphic novel was released. A fun but sincere attempt to revive the brand, this one was released by graphic novel powerhouse Dynamite Comics, was written by Katy Rex who previously worked for Dynamite on a series of Charmed graphic novels and illustrated by Devaki Neogi who in addition to her work illustrating graphic novels works in fashion design, which is entirely appropriate, given Jessica Wakefield's extreme interest in fashion. The single best element of this graphic novel lies in the fact that it's a reimagining of the original series, rather than a straight out. The stories is new, certain elements of the twins lives have be rearranged and the author and artist makes the most out of technology and social media--things that fit in perfectly with the lives of the Wakefield twins and their friends. I had more than a bit of a giggle when I discovered that Jessica's

Aunt Cole's Believe it Or Get Bent

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  There are two Looney Tunes shorts in which Sylvester J Pussycat is cast opposite Elmer Fudd, Back Alley Oproar and Kit For Cat. Both are directed by Friz Freeling. 

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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With a front cover and blurb that promises lots of fun and romantic misunderstandings, how could I possibly resist this romantic comedy from US based writing duo, Christina Lauren. Olive and Ethan aren't exactly what you might call friends. Enemies would be a better word. Which is kind of a problem, because Olive's identical twin sister Ami is just about to get hitched to Ethan's younger brother Dane. Things take a massive turn for the worse when, at the wedding reception, the entire bridal party and all of the guests--except for Olive and Ethan--find themselves struck down with food poisoning. Suddenly, Olive and Ethan find themselves being shuffled off together on the non-refundable but all-expenses-paid honeymoon. But can these sworn enemies possibly put their mutual hatred aside long enough to enjoy the trip of a lifetime?  On the whole, this was an entertaining romance that follows the standard enemies-to-lovers trope, offering a few laughs and misunderstandings along

Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “‘But man is not made for defeat,’ he said. ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’”  ~ Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Review: Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright

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Twins is such a cute little read. It's a graphic novel about sisters--identical twins--who are going through some changes. Maureen and Francine are about to start middle school. They've always dressed the same, and been in the same class, but now that they are starting sixth grade, things are different. For a start, the pair only have three classes together. And suddenly Francine is acting well, different. First of all, she seems pleased that she and Maureen have only three classes together. Second, she wants to dress and look different from her sister. Third, she wants to be known as Fran. Fourth, and finally, she's constantly busy and doesn't seem to have time for Maureen anymore, even though Maureen is struggling to find her feet at her new school. Then both sisters decide to run for class president for very different reasons, without telling the other what they plan to do. Suddenly its war. Can the sisters ever be friends again? I loved Shannon Wright's artwork

Aunt Cole's Believe it Or Get Bent

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  In the early years of the Garfield comic strip, Jon Arbuckle occasionally appeared smoking a pipe. 

Review: Romancing Mr Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

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And which is the Mr Bridgerton of this novel? Why Colin, of course. With his older brothers Anthony and Benedict having both made unlikely but successful matches, the author turns her attention to the next Bridgerton brother. Several years have passed since the events of An Offer From a Gentleman. Colin has spent much of that time travelling, and has absolutely no desire to settle down and find a wife--in spite of the fact that his mother is very keen to marry him off. Meanwhile, there is a young lady who he sees only as a friend who has been secretly in love with him for twelves years--and this lady is none other than shy, awkward wallflower, Penny Fetherington. Fans of Bridgerton will no doubt already been familiar with this character. Although she started off as a very minor part of the series, her character has, through each book become more and more important. She is portrayed as the nicest of the Fatherington family, and friendly with the Bridgertons, in particular Eloise. Viole

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

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Greetings From The Unicorner: A Random Sweet Valley Post

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  Sweet Valley University #6 The Love of Her Life Could that blonde be Elizabeth Wakefield? And, wait, who is that on the cover? Is that Todd Wilkins, her steady boyfriend throughout most of the Sweet Valley series? Wait a minute ... what's this on the blurb about some guy called Tom? And what's this about Jessica and her duty as a ... wife? By 1993, Sweet Valley High had been going for ten years. From the original series, two very successful spin-offs had emerged. First  Sweet Valley Twins , featuring Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield at age twelve, made its debut in July 1986. Then, in October 1989 Sweet Valley Kids came along, a series of illustrated junior novels that featured Elizabeth and Jessica at age seven. It was about at this point that Sweet Valley High was nearing it's 100th novel, which was celebrated with a seven-part storyline that I'll probably cover in more detail on here at some point, and some formatting changes. The books became longer, looked a litt

Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”   ~ Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

Aunt Cole's Believe it Or Get Bent

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  Gardening Australia debuted on the ABC in 1990.

Review: Bear by Marian Engel

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The mistake is all mine. I ordered this odd little book a few weeks ago, believing it to be satire. Because, surely, no one would write such a book and expect it to be taken complete seriously. Would they? Who knows? Bear is an odd read with a feminist bent about loneliness. It tells the story of Lou, a librarian at a history institute in Toronto. Her existence is a lonely one, working in a basement at a job that no one thanks her for until one day, she is picked to travel to the remote property that has been bequeathed to the Institute. And so, she packs her bags and travels to the remote island, where she is almost completely isolated. Her only companions are the man who runs the general store on the main land, and, well, a bear. The bear has been kept on the property as a pet and now its Lou's responsibility to care for it. As time goes on Lou's sense of loneliness becomes more and more apparent in the way she begins to interact with the bear.  I cannot say that I loved this

Review: Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon

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What a delight is Pictures of Lily. As the novel opens, Lily is sixteen years old and completely opposed to her mother's grand plan of moving to Australia so that they can live with her mother's new boyfriend, a man named Michael that she's met on the internet. Which is kind of a problem as right now, the pair are driving along the Princes Highway in the direction of Michael's home in the Adelaide Hills. Over the next few weeks and months, Lily has a number of life-altering adventures working at a local conservation park. She soon finds herself falling for Ben, a who works at the park. The only problem with this arrangement is that Ben is twelve years older than her. He's also engaged to another woman who lives in the UK. And although he finds himself falling for Lily, he knows that the situation is wrong. He leaves for the UK and he and Lily do not stay in touch. Ten years later they meet again in Sydney. Only this time around, Ben's divorced, and Lily is an a

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”   ~ Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

80s 90s Teen Book Series That You've Probably Forgotten

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The 1980s and 1990s were a golden age for cheap paperbacks, especially for ones that were aimed at teen or preteen girls. Ask anyone who grew up during that era and they're almost sure to be able to name a favourite, whether it be The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley, The Saddle Club or Sweet Dreams. That said, there were so many different books published in the era, varying in themes, quality and authors that it is near impossible to remember them all. In this post, I've decided to shine a spotlight on a few titles from the era that may have been forgotten. Bell Street School by Holly Tate The ultimate 90s book series you've probably never heard of features the adventures of four friends--Becky, Liz, Charlie and Jas--who attend a secondary school in the United Kingdom. It lasted four volumes.  Bondi Place/Bondi Parade by Jason Herbison After the success that TV scriptwriter Jason Herbison had co-authoring Living Famously with teen soap star Melissa Bell, he went on to

Aunt Cole's Believe it Or Get Bent

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  The first Lego mini figure was produced in 1978.

Review: Winter by Ali Smith

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A few years ago, I wrote quite a nonsensical review of Autumn, the first novel in Ali Smith's Seasons quartet in my attempt to sum up my feelings of the novel which were--and remain--quite mixed. And now, it seems, I'm a real glutton for punishment, because not only did I struggle through Winter, but I am attempting to review it. Much like its predecessor Winter is about the author's disdain for the political situation in the United Kingdom. Published in 2017, it already feels very dated which I feel can be attributed to the fact that four years ago, we had absolutely no idea that the world was just a couple of years away from the outbreak of a global pandemic, the havoc it would cause and the shift in priorities. Consequently, I found it very difficult to read this story--of four people who celebrate Christmas together in spite of the fact that they all dislike one another, and feel very marginalised and misunderstood. There are conflicting political views, and varying

Review: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

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Opposites attract ... but can a relationship between two complete opposites actually work? That's the premise of Love Your Life, Sophie Kinsella's twentieth full length novel. (Twenty-fifth, if you count her children's books and novellas, and thirty-second if you also count the novels she wrote in the 1990s under her legal name, Madeline Wickham. Which, obviously, means that she's written rather a lot of books.) Ava and Matt meet at a writing retreat, one where the budding authors are not allowed to reveal their names, or anything about their personal lives. Knowing one another only as Aria and Dutch, the pair enjoy their time and shared experiences and soon fall in love. But from the moment they arrive back in England, the stark differences between the pair begin to emerge. Ava is scatty, was orphaned as an adolescent and is very affectionate toward her friends and her dog, a loving but undisciplined beagle named Harold who basically has her wrapped around his little

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Greetings From the Unicorner: A Random Sweet Valley Post

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By January 1994 the Sweet Valley books were growing strong. What had started out as one series eleven years earlier--Sweet Valley High--had expanded to include three other series, each featuring twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield at various stages in their lives. Sweet Valley Twins had debuted in 1986 and featured the Wakefield Twins at age twelve. Sweet Valley Kids debuted in 1989 and in this series of short, illustrated junior novels, the Wakefield Twins were seven, celebrating their birthday in the first novel of the series. Sweet Valley University, featuring the Wakefield Twins at age eighteen and starting their college careers away from home was the most recent addition to the series and would become one of the most successful. Meanwhile, the original, flagship series Sweet Valley High, had just celebrated the release of its 100th novel with a mini-series and a cover redesign. And there was a Sweet Valley High television series in the works. Then came the most surprising Sweet