Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review: Night of the Kraken by Jonathon Green

Night of the Kraken is the first instalment of a brand new Doctor Who YA series, Choose the Future. Basically, it works just like a choose your own adventure book, where the reader gets to choose what they think the Doctor should do. In this adventure, The Twelfth Doctor finds himself in late eighteenth century Cornwall battling the Kraa'Kn, (think: big scary creatures from the deep,) who have just invaded the area. On hand to help is the mysterious Ravenwood (who may not be all that nice,) and the lovely Bess who is a local barmaid. 

While there is nothing new about this kind of interactive storytelling, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked within the Doctor Who universe. The sections of story are done quite well and some sections may easily be used in one adventure and then within a totally different context in another. Although there were a few different endings, I seemed to find myself back at the same one nearly every time, despite taking radically different steps to get there. 

A bit of fun for a rainy afternoon, for young and old fans of the Doctor. 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Activist Told That His Speeding Fine is "Not a Human Rights Issue"

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--Kim Kong, a self-proclaimed gender neutral, homosexual and trans-racial human rights activist suffered a blow this week when the Nowheresville Masgistrates Court ordered that a speeding fine issued to Kong was not a human rights issue. "Anyone who knowingly breaks the law will not be exempt from punishment, just because they feel offended by the speed limit,' Magistrate Bob Allsop told Kong. "You are also reminded that you have been charged with driving while under the influence of a prohibited substance."

Kong's lawyer had previously told the court that the speeding fine discriminated against Kong, as his client was capable of determining at what speed a vehicle could be driven, without having to have limitations imposed on him by the government, and it should not matter what he chose to smoke before getting behind the wheel of his car. "What is the government going to do next?" Kong asked reporters outside court. "Impose rules to make us register our vehicles with them, and make us pay a fee just for the privilege of driving them?"

Kong, who is due to appear in court again next week to answer related charges of driving an unregistered vehicle, listened in stoic silence as Magistrate Bob Allsop read out the verdict. When Magistrate Allsop left the court, Kong became visibly upset and called the chair that belongs to Magistrate Allsop a Nazi. Kong also left negative reviews of the Nowheresville Magistrate Court on Facebook and Yelp, in which the judicial system was labelled "archaic" and "staffed by fascists." 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Friday Funnies

A meme that all book lovers can relate to ...

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Review: Cambodia Noir by Nick Seeley

Cambodia Noir is an action filled ride through a time and place where poverty, corruption and hard living are rife. The year is 2003 and Will Keller is a photographer living in Phnom Penh who is happily spiralling toward self-destruction. His life takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious woman contacts him and asks for his help finding her sister. But no one, and nothing in this book are quite what they seem, Will's search for June Saito comes with many strange and surprising twists.

This tale of corruption and hard living grabbed hold of me, pulled me in and refused to let me go. Neither Will nor June are particularly likeable characters though the mystery, action and a very real sense of place keep the story rolling. The story is also dark, full of gore and utterly depressing, which is far from my usual cup of tea, but I appreciated it within the context of the novel. June is a mystery within a mystery and to tell you that she is anything other than missing would do future readers a massive disservice. 

Not for the easily offended, faint of heart or anyone looking for a cosy read.


Shout out to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Review: My Life With Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

Every now and again, a book comes along and captures my imagination--and my heart--and refuses to let it go. My Life With Charlie Brown is one of those books. The concept is simple enough, it's a short book that consists of a number of autobiographical essays written by Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the infamous Peanuts comic, and a selection of Peanuts comics, all of which are entirely suited to the topics at hand. However, the writing style--intelligent and straightforward--and the authors explanation of the creative process are what makes this book a real winner.

Anyone who reads this blog should already be well versed in the Peanuts universe, so I doubt that there is a great need to describe it here. However, I was amazed at the variety of facts about the comics--and their creator--that I learned from reading this book. In particular, Schulz hated the name Peanuts! (Initially, the comic strip was to be called Lil' Folks, but this was too similar to another comic of its day. Peanuts was the idea of someone who worked for the company who distributed the comic.) Schulz was a man who never settled for second best when it came to his art, and he offers common sense advice for artists who wish to follow his example--and just a little bit of disdain for those who don't. In any case, it's a great book to put in the hands of anyone who wants to succeed in the arts.

Short, brilliant and completely practical. Highly recommended.

PS: Note that on the cover of this book, Charlie Brown's shirt is red, instead of the usual trademark yellow that we associate with the Peanuts comic strip. Apparently Schulz always intended for Charlie Brown's shirt to be red, but an early printing error lead to Charlie Brown wearing yellow instead. Good grief!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

In Bank Street, they take street art very seriously ... and literally, painting parts of the road. This small colourful section is often full of foot traffic, particularly office workers and students, during peak hour and revellers on Friday and Saturday nights. After midnight at weekends, it would be near impossible to drive a car along here ...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Apple Paperback Review: Adopt-A-Pet (Animal Inn #5) by Virginia Vail

On select Sundays I will be reviewing some of the old Apple Paperback titles from my childhood. These titles were published, or republished by Scholastic during the 1980s & 1990s and were written and set in the United States. In Australia, these books were typically only available from libraries or could be ordered through catalogues that were distributed through primary schools. Most of these titles are now long out of print or have been updated and republished for later generations ...

Animal Inn differed from a number of the series aimed at girls that was released by Scholastic during the 1980s & 1990s as the main focus of the stories was on animal care, rather than school or friendships. The series was about Valentine "Val" Taylor who lived in a rural town somewhere in either the United States or Canada (it's not clear to me which, though some of the place names, such as Essex, hint that the books were indeed set in Canada,) and who, after school, works at the Veterinary Clinic that is owned and run by her widowed father, Doc Taylor (known as Doc to readers).

In this book, the local animal shelter has just burned down. Not only do Val and Doc (and the rest of the gang,) find themselves providing much needed care to these injured animals, but the animals will all need homes as well--and the local humane society needs funds to build a local shelter. Val and the others organise for a country fair to be held to raise money for the shelter and to raise awareness of pet adoption. Meanwhile, a local farmer has been abusing a donkey in his care and it is up to Val, Doc and Miss Maggie, the man's eccentric neighbour to put a stop to it.

This one is an enjoyable read, and one that would probably easily stand the test of time and be enjoyed by contemporary readers. The focus is on animals, rather than the pop culture or fashions of the day. Very small children might be upset by the scene were Pedro is mistreated on the farm, however, the depictions are find for those in the target audience.


About the Author: Virginia Vail is the author of two book series for children, Animal Inn and Horse Crazy (published by troll,) and the stand-alone novel If Wishes Were Horses. No other biographical detail about the author is available.