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Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  A group of porcupines is known as a prickle.

Review: On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn

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What a bittersweet experience it was to read the eighth and final book in the Bridgerton series. On the Way to the Wedding is Gregory's story, in which he falls for the charms of Hermione Watson. This would be fine, except for two things. First everyone is in love with Hermione. Second, Hermione's particularly irritating best friend Lucy is always hanging around. Then Hermione finds herself caught in a compromising situation with Lucy's brother which can only be fixed by marrying her, then Gregory realises that it is Lucy that he has been in love with the whole time and then he discovers that Lucy is betrothed to another and no one, especially not her scheming uncle and rotten soon-to-be father-in-law are going to let her back out of in a hurry. Can love, and the virtue of being a Bridgerton possibly conquer all this time? This was such a fun read with a number of surprising twists and turns that kept me eagerly reading well into the night. Quinn treats her characters well,

Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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I first encountered the Age of Innocence as a nineteen year old university student, when it was a set text for one of my English Lit classes. At the time, many of the nuances that appear in the novel passed me by and--until I reached the final chapters--it appeared to be the straightforward story of a pompous man who gets engaged to one woman, promptly falls in love with her cousin and marries the first one just so that he and both of the women in his life can suffer. It wasn't until I got to the end, and I saw that May was just as bad as her husband, that I realised what the book was about.  Archer Newland is a young man in a position of privilege in New York in 1870. He comes from old money, has a respectable job as a lawyer and has recently become engaged to May, a girl from the same social circles as his own. On the surface, it is a good match. They both come from similar wealthy families. While Newland has enjoyed the kind of bachelorhood offered to men in his position, where

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  Cookie Monster's real name is Sid.

Review: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

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What a lot of fun this light hearted romance about a group of macho male baseball players who have a book club turned out to be. Gavin Scott's life is in ruins. Sure, he might be a top baseball player, but what does that matter when his marriage is not only breaking down, but it turns out that his wife has been faking it in bed the whole time. Now he's been pushed out of the house and Thea's bratty sister is foiling every one of his genuine and heartfelt attempts at reconciliation. (Along with making it difficult for him to see his twin daughters.) Then and teammate introduces him to a book club for men--where they read romance novels and try to find very real and useful ways to help one another fix their relationship troubles. Can Gavin save his marriage? Or is it already gone? I loved the concept of this one. That said, I have to be totally honest and admit that I was very ready to give this book up after a couple of chapters. Although the situation is intended to be amus

Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

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It was Stephen Hawking who once said that quiet people have the loudest minds, and Nowegian Wood is a celebration of that fact. When Toru Watanabe hears his favourite Beatles song at the airport, he finds himself transported back to his university days. Living in an all-male dorm in Tokyo in the late 1960s, he is struggling to comprehend the suicide of his childhood best friend Kizuki, while he slowly and painfully falls in love with both Naoko, the quiet girlfriend of Kizuki, and Midori, a free spirited young woman. Along the way, he makes all kinds of unusual friendships and sees glimpses into people at their best, and at their worst. Norwegian Wood is a book that is equal parts sad and beautiful. I loved the glimpse into the depiction of university life that wasn't all about parties and social status, identity politics, or about trying to infiltrate various groups. Toru just happens to be studying, but his life goes well beyond what is happening on campus. His friendships are f

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  "Never look back unless you are planning to go that way." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Charlie Brown, Lucy Van Pelt and the Football

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One of the longest, and arguably, most infuriating, running gags in Charles Schulz's otherwise brilliant Peanuts comic strip, is where Lucy promises to hold a football for Charlie Brown and then pulls it away at the last minute, causing Charlie Brown to fall flat on his back. A typical strip looks like this: Source: Go Comics The gag is one of the darker themes in the strip. It works on the concept that every year, Lucy promises to hold a football for Charlie Brown. Every year, Charlie Brown is initially filled with doubt but is eventually pushed on by a kind of optimism that perhaps, this time, Lucy might just let him kick it after all. As a metaphor for life, it is pretty simple. It talks of the moments when we choose to put our trust in people who have let us down only to be taken by surprise when they let us down, again. Lucy is, arguably, one of the crueller characters in the comic. Described as crabby by the other characters, she is often selfish, takes delight in wilfully hu

Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  The average person blinks twenty times per minute.

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  "We rise by lifting others." ~ Robert Ingersoll

Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  Strawberries are not technically berries.

Review: Blubber by Judy Blume

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No writer has ever understood pre-adolescent politics quite like Judy Blume. Consequently her novels are always a pleasure to look back on, whether she is discussing the trials and tribulations of being an unpopular know-all in  Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, racism in Iggy's House  or religion in Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.  Blume's characters are imperfect, often relatable and always honest, which probably explains why her novels remain enduringly popular with their target audience as well as adults, some of them more than fifty years since they were first published. Blubber offers a truthful look at schoolyard bullying and classroom politics, and speaks honestly with its target audience. Jill lives in a small town. She has just started fifth grade, and for her and the other kids in town, it means starting at a new school in a larger town, which only accommodates grades five and six. At her new school, she has been placed in a different class from her best

Review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot

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Imagine this ... In a downstairs basement, that leads off a small alley in Tokyo is a cafe. An old fashioned style cafe that has been serving coffee for more than one hundred years. There also just happens to be one chair in the cafe which visitors can use to travel through time. The catch? Most of the time it is occupied by a ghost who'll curse anyone who asks them to move. And anyone lucky enough to get to the coveted seat will soon find that one, time travel is limited only to inside the cafe, it cannot be used to alter the past and travellers must return to the present before their cup of coffee gets cold. Because of these limitations, there aren't that many people eager to travel through time. But for four individuals, it might just change the course of their future. This was an enjoyable short read. Although I loved each of the time traveler's stories, I'd be lying if I said that the last one, Mother and Child didn't make me tear up. The reasons for each of t

Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  "Sooner or later even the fastest runners have to stand and fight." ~ Stephen King

Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  Lana Del Ray's legal name is Lizzie Grant.

Review: This Winter by Alice Oseman

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Charlie Spring is a character that author Alice Oseman seems to come back to time and time again. Initially Charlie was introduced to readers via Oseman's first novel, Solitare, as the brother of protagonist Tori Spring. From there, Charlie has starred in This Winter, a prequel to Solitare, Heartstopper a successful webcomic which later turned into a four volume series of graphic novels, an upcoming Netflix series ( see more here ) and a novella, Nick and Charlie .  And okay, Charlie has a fairly compelling story arc, with his struggles with his sexuality, his romance with Nick, and anorexia. That's a heck of a lot of material for one teenage boy. So why then, when Oseman writes about Charlie Spring does it feel as though the author is writing fan fiction of her own work? This Winter is set after the events of the Heartstopper  and prior to those of Solitare and Nick and Charlie. It is Christmas. Charlie is home from hospital and recovering, Tori is trying to work out how to

Review: Send Nudes by Saba Sams

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Saba Sams' short story collection with the very provocative title is a rollercoaster ride through the experiences of adolescence, early adulthood and finding a way to feel at ease with ones body. The protagonists in these stories are often in situations that are not of their choosing, some, but not all, find themselves exploited sexually, and others are suffering through the complexities of friendships and family life. In Snakebite Meg finds herself taken advantage of by Lara, her excitement craving friend and occasional lover, who she forgives over and over again. In The Mother and the Girls, two best friends who belong to a travelling circus with their mothers are inseparable until a boy becomes between them ... or does he? In Tinderloin and Here Alone, the female protagonists are exploited by predatory men. And then there is the titular story Send Nudes where the insecure, obese protagonist who seems ripe for exploitation makes a decision that empowers herself, horny men be

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.” ~ Brad Meltzer

Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  Dolphins sleep with one eye open.

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  "Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose." ~ C.S. Lewis

Aunt Cole's Believe It or Not

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  Blushing can be caused by a rush of adrenaline.

Review: Lovesick by Jean Flynn

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Sometimes, I'm just in the mood for something light, and fortunately, Lovesick fit the bill nicely. An Australian contemporary romance, it tells the story of Melbourne based Beth, a twenty-something medical receptionist who finds herself caught between two men--Brendan, a caddish but cute doctor from her work, and Shane, a down to earth tradie who seems to be genuinely interested. The answer to which one is the right man for Beth should be easy, until Shane suddenly cuts off all contact. This was an interesting romance that remains fun and lightweight, despite exploring some dark themes. One of the central characters is suffering a serious mental health issue, while Beth ends up caught in a spiral of medical examinations and heavy going tests, because she cannot properly describe her anxiety symptoms to her GP, something that many readers may be able to relate to. Another central character has well, a type of addiction that causes them to behave badly, and recklessly. However, the

Review: Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

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I had no idea what Ice Planet Barbarians was, exactly, when I found a copy in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of my local bookshop. Was this science fiction? A romance? A blend of the two? Or was it something that was better described as, so bad its good. It turns out that Ice Planet Barbarians is a little of all three. It tells the story of Georgie, a young woman who is abducted by aliens, who are a part of a bizarre intergalactic trafficking scheme, that involves human women aged in their twenties. Along the way, the ship crashes into an ice planet, known (of all the tricky, deceptive things,) as Not-Hoth. Struggling to find help on Not-Hoth, George encounters Vektal, a large, blue alien, who immediately falls in love with her and claims her as her mate. And that's fine, because in another bizarre twist, it turns out that the pair are a perfect sexual match, and that's where the novel gets quite steamy, well, so long as the reader is okay with reading about alien--h

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Uncle Chip's Literary Quotes

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  “I've had the sort of day that would make St. Francis of Assisi kick babies.” ~ Douglas Adams

Review: Karen's School Picture by Ann M Martin and Katy Farina

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The Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novel adaptions are still going strong. Graphix/Scholastic are up to the fifth book in the series now, and there is absolutely no hint that this is going to be the last one. And it's no wonder. They've managed to update Karen's School Picture--quite possibly the most outdated book in the series--and turn it into something special. As the title suggests, school picture day is coming up at Stoneybrook Academy. That's a pretty big deal when you're six years old, and Karen reacts accordingly. She's keen to pick an outfit and she and her best friend at the little house Nancy Dawes are preparing their winning, movie star smiles. The only trouble is, Karen has been getting a lot of headaches lately, and she's having trouble with her vision. And then it turns out ... (dramatic pause ...) Karen is having a stroke. No, not really. (The symptoms are somewhat dramatic though, as often tends to be the case in Ann M Martin's wo

Review: You're Doing it Wrong by Kaz Cooke

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Every heading in this book is a lie ... begins You're Doing It Wrong, a hilarious history of all of the terrible advice that women have been told for centuries. Cooke examines advice about health, sex, marriage, housework, work, motherhood, beauty, so-called ideal body shapes and clothing and gives it, well the answer it deserves, and the no-nonsense advice that everyone needed all along. There is also a lot of acknowledgement to have Indigenous Australian women have been treated since 1788--if white women were the victims of ridiculous advice, there was a whole other race whose lives were made a lot tougher based on truly ridiculous medial, patriarchal and truly racist ideas. Each section begins with a heading that is, as the opening line tells us, a lie. And some of those headings are truly hilarious. (Fantasise about men who order you around, for example. I truly love Cookes examination of modern erotic novels. She nails it.) This was an excellent read that had me laughing out

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