Sunday, 20 January 2019

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Review: Kristy's Big Day by Gale Galligan (BSC Graphix #6)

Who would have thought that back in 2006 when the first novel of the Baby-Sitters Club series was re-imagined as a graphic novel that it would prove so successful that BSC Graphix has become an entire series and the publisher is now up to book number six.

As devotees of the series know, this is the book where things started to change for the members of the club. With the original, it's probably the point where author Ann M Martin and her publisher, Scholastic, realised that they had a hit on their hands, and the potential to create a much longer series, with the stories alternating between the characters. And what better character to return to than Kristy, who had started the club, and unlike the others whose problems had largely been resolved, had a number of life changes ahead of her, with her mother about to remarry Watson Brewer, her millionaire boss. In the original series, it's a great turning point.

As far as the graphic novel goes, it works on one level, and not on another.

Like the original series, I doubt that the publishers dared consider that it would be so resoundingly successful. And while the duel story-lines of baby-sitting and Kristy's feelings about the wedding and the life changes ahead work well in the original, both feel a little rushed in the graphic novel. But then again, it's important to remember that these books are aimed at a pre-teen audience, rather than people like me who read them for nostalgic purposes. And as far as telling that story to a whole new audience, it's great.

(As for me, I'm pissed off that they've managed to write Mallory into the series, but Jessi hasn't also been included. Then again, I suppose that there is always potential for the writers to do that later, quite possibly with a two parter that somehow incorporates themes from Goodbye Stacey, Goodbye and Jessi's Secret Language.)

As was the case with Dawn and the Impossible Three, Gale Galligan does a wonderful job of bringing the beloved characters to life.

One to recommend to young BSC fans.

Postscript: In the days between writing this review and it's publication, a seventh novel for the BSC Graphix series was announced and will be published in September 2019--Boy Crazy Stacey. This leaves the potential for any of these titles to follow: Dawn and the Haunted House, Logan Likes Mary Anne, Claudia and the New Girl or Kristy and the Snobs. 

Friday, 18 January 2019

Friday Funnies


I think we can all relate to this on a Friday morning!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Willowdean Dickson is perfectly comfortable in her own skin, despite being of the slightly larger persuasion. That said, a few things have happened in her life recently that have shaken her self-confidence. First, her beloved aunt Lucy passed away. She and her best friend Ellen are slowly drifting apart. And there's a very attractive boy at her work who seems to like her, but doesn't want to actually be her boyfriend. Things need to change. And to kick off that change, Willowdean is going to enter the local beauty pageant. Soon she--and a group of very unlikely contenders--are on their way to prove that they are just as worthy of the crown as anyone.

This was an entertaining read, written by the author of the brilliant Ramona Blue. Willowdean is portrayed as a very normal teenager who has her own doubts, fears and misconceptions of others that often influence her behaviour and not always for the better. In other words, she's human and that made her very easy to identify. I found the Dolly Parton influence quite endearing as well. The various subplots, featuring Bo and Ellen were handled quite well. What was really pleasing though is that the book doesn't make fun of beauty pageants or pageant queens--instead the moral is that everyone has the right to enter them and to give it their best shot. 

Feel good YA lit at its best.

Recommended.

This book was read as part of the #Dymocks52 challenge

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Review: Find Your Creative Mojo by Josh Langley

Imagine just what you could create--and how much time you could spend creating--if you let go of your self doubt about your creative works. That's the core message of Find Your Creative Mojo, an entertaining yet no-nonsense guide to mastering the creative process. Using short chapters, bullet points and plenty of his famous The Frog and the Wall comics, author Josh Langley simplifies the creative process and encourages readers and potential creative people to stop worrying about being perfect and to start creating.

This was an enjoyable and useful guide, and one that is worthy of creative people at any stage of their career. 

Recommended.

Thank you to Josh Langley for my reading copy of Find Your Creative Mojo.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura is a little well ... odd. At school and university she had difficulty fitting in with her peers but eventually she found sanctuary in the most unlikely place, working at a convenience store. In this predictable, normalised environment, she feels safe

Eighteen years later, and she's still working there. Now aged thirty-six, she is single and has no interest in finding a husband or a better job. As far as her family and her friends (who all want to cure her,) are concerned, this just wont do. But when Keiko finally decides to take action, the results are darkly hilarious and reveal more than a few deeper truths about the place of women in contemporary Japanese society.

I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this one. Anyone who has worked in any retail environment, particular in areas with a high turnover of staff, will be able to easily identify with the training and procedures that Keiko embraces, while having a little chuckle along the way. Keiko isn't a character who is begging for sympathy, rather she is one who is asking the reader for acceptance. Some of her accounts of her childhood are darkly hilarious, while her sham relationship with Shiraha broke my heart just a little. 

Often when books are translated into English, they lose a little something. This is not so with Convenience Store Woman, owing in part, I expect, the similarities between convenience stores in Japan with those in Australia. The strong feminist themes come across well--why is it that those in Keiko's circles are willing to accept her supposed engagement to a thoroughly horrible suitor, but they cannot accept that she is happy working in a convenience store? And while it is never suggested in the book that Keiko has autism (she may do, she may not do,) it also discusses something that is a reality for many women who are on the spectrum--that they will often have to lie about themselves and their interests so that they may fit in and be accepted by others.

This one is short, easy to read and entertaining.

Highly recommended.

This book was read as part of the #dymocks52 challenge