Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Friday Brown has been sitting on my to-read pile for a little while now--in fact, it was one of the book purchases that I made at Adelaide Writers' Week in early March--which is a bit silly of me, as it turned out to be a fantastic read. An Honour Book in the Children's Book Council of Australia 2013 books for Older Readers, Friday Brown tells the story of a young woman who is grieving for her mother and finds out what life is all about ... the hard way.

After the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Friday runs away from the rich grandfather that she barely knows and finds herself living in a squat with an eclectic bunch of kids, including Silence, a boy who does not talk but who regards her as a kind of kindred spirit. The kids live under the rule of Arden, a young woman who uses her approval and disapproval like currency, and who uses sex (or perhaps sexual attraction,) in a similar manner. Over time, Arden and the headstrong Friday begin to clash more and more. The author raises a lot of questions about free will, standing up for oneself and the ties that bind us to other people. And another thing ... once you've read the book, you'll discover just how frightening that picture on the front cover actually is ...

Recommended for lovers of Australian novels and YA fiction. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Writers on Wednesday: J.C. Phelps

Once again, it's time for Writers on Wednesday. This week, I'm chatting with the brilliant J.C. Phelps, author of the Alexis Stanton Chronicles ...

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a mother of three girls between the ages of fourteen and four.  My home life is very busy, but I have a wonderful husband who supports me in everything I do.  Ive been writing since I was very young but The Alexis Stanton Chronicles are the first books Ive published.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My most recently published book is Traces of Grey.  Its the fourth book in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles and was released in November of 2014.  Its a bit darker than the rest of the series because Ms. Grey is past her training and taking on more and more serious jobs.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

Ive written for newspapers and online sites, but nothing compared to holding my very first novel in my hands.  It was exciting and scary.  Im self published and actually did the entire job on my own.  I wrote the books, created the covers and back blurbs, and then I even printed and bound the books for a time. That is an even more satisfying feeling than just holding a book some other company printed up for me.  I actually created my books from beginning to end.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

My proudest achievement has to be my family bragging about their author sister, daughter, wife, or mother.  Having the family be proud of what I do is the best.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

Im currently working on #5 in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles as well as being contracted to write up a very interesting true story.  Depending on how the research pans out, the contracted book will be either a memoir or possibly true crime. 

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I dont have an actual preference as far as book format goes.  I love all books.  However, I havent picked up a paper book for quite a while.  I do tend to love reading on my eReaders (Kindle and iPad).  The eBooks are easier to carry around and I use the TTS (Text To Speech) feature a lot.  This allows me to read and do other things around the house.  I find I read a lot of audio books these days.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I chose the indie route.  It made more business sense to me as a new author.  Im not at all disappointed with my decision. 

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

I never liked required reading. I always preferred to pick my own books. I know there are plenty of books out there I should read, but havent yet.  But, if I could only recommend one book to my girls, Id pick The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.  The Hobbit has definite lines as far as right and wrong are concerned, yet the book still has plenty of room for their imaginations.

Finally is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

The one thing I can think of to say to all my readers, those in Adelaide as well as all the others is:  Thank you for giving my books a chance.  I sincerely hope you enjoyed the stories.


Barnes & Noble author page -

The first book in the series, Color Me Grey, is available for free at all outlets:


Twitter:  @jeaniep3

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Dancing on Knives by Kate Forsyth

There are times when, by some kind of quirk or twist of fate, exactly the right book can be delivered into my hands at exactly the right time. And that is what happened when, searching for another book entirely,* I stumbled upon a copy of Kate Forsyth's Dancing on Knives. Although I follow the author on facebook, I had no idea that she was releasing a new book and have been more familiar with her fantasy novels and books that go behind the scenes of various fairytales or that retell them such as The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens. Anyway, I happily snatched a copy of Dancing on Knives up and began reading it over lunch. And maybe it is just because I am writer who has been struggling a bit with her craft, but I found the note from the author at the front explaining the novel's long journey to publication (actually, republication, as the novel was previously published in 2003 under the author's maiden name and under the title of Full Fathom Five,) to be quite inspiring and offered me a much needed reminder about not giving up. 

Anyway, positive messages found in notes from the author aside, I found myself completely and utterly drawn in to the story of Sara, a young woman who has not left her family home for five years. The title comes from Sara's favourite fairy tale--The Little Mermaid--and describes how she feels about herself. Sara's family situation is quite difficult. Her mother died when she was still a child, and her father is an eccentric and ultimately selfish artist who married his mistress shortly after the death of his wife. It's pretty obvious that Augusto Sanchez is oblivious to the emotional needs of those around him. Rounding out the family is older brother Joe, slightly irresponsible twins Dominic and Dylan and naughty, mischief making half-sister Teresa. When Augusto is found hanging from the edge of a cliff, the question is soon raised in Sara's mind whether it was an accident or if he has met with foul play. Plenty of characters have reason to have killed him--particularly those from the family of Sara's mother and his own children.

The mystery of Augusto's killer aside, Dancing on Knives is also an absorbing coming-of-age tale. It is interesting to see how Sara copes with her self-imposed imprisonment (she suffers panic attacks whenever she leaves the house,) and how the events unfold, allowing her to gain an newfound maturity and strength. There is a bit of romance in the story, thanks to farmhand Matt, and I think that element will having strong appeal with young, female readers. Parts of the ending feel a little too optimistic, but the ending is a satisfying one, regardless. Highly recommended.   

*In an even stranger twist to my little story, that book I was searching for was Lost and Found by Brooke Davis. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

I snapped this one a couple of weeks ago, at the corner of King William and Hindley Streets. It is part of a project by artist Peter Drew, who recently visited a number of detention centres around Australia and spoke with asylum seekers about their experiences--this one depicts a happy childhood memory, though many other posters depict a far unhappier memories and experiences.  

Another aspect that makes these pictures so intriguing is that Drew placed them up without asking permission from the Adelaide City Council--they simply appeared in challenge and inspire. I'll be interested to see how long they remain. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Review: Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

Lost and Found is a sweet and surprising novel that revolves around love and loss, three unlikely characters and an unplanned road trip (of sorts). Millie Bird is seven years old and has been abandoned by her grieving mother at the local shopping centre. Karl the Touch Typist is an escapee from the local old folks home. Agatha Pantha is a widow who has not left her house in several years. Slowly, their lives intersect and the three work together to try and reunite Millie with her mother--creating a number of misunderstandings with the many people that they meet along the way. I loved the scenes set aboard the Indian Pacific. 

After reading so much hype about this novel, I was both curious and apprehensive to know what it was really like. Fortunately, I was not at all disappointed. Debut author Brooke Davis offers some remarkable insights in to the human condition and into love and loss. I found some of her decisions, such as the two elderly characters becoming sexually attracted to one another to be brave and added to a compelling narrative. I also loved the way she shaped her characters and their obsessions with particular things--Karl with typing, Millie with her book of dead things and Agatha with time and routine. It is wonderful to watch each of the characters help one another and for the unlikely friendships to develop. Recommended. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Slowpoke Rodriguez to Open Pizza Delivery Restaurant

HOLLYWOOD--Slowpoke Rodriguez, famous for playing the part of "the slowest mouse in all Mexico" in a number of Looney Tunes animated shorts, is set to own and operate a new pizza delivery restaurant. "It's an exciting new venture for me," he told one of our reporters after arriving three hours late for the scheduled interview. "Being a cartoon television star is, quite frankly, too exhausting for me, as is having to spend my days repeatedly being chased by Sylvester the Cat, while my cousin, Speedy Gonzales, attempts to use his superior speed to come to my rescue, only for it all to be revealed at the end that I own a gun and possess a superior intellect than your average animated cat. I'm tired of being on the receiving end of all these jokes about being lazy, so I've decided to try this new business venture. I'll be delivering the pizza's personally, which should be an exciting experience for all of my fans."

Slowpoke Pizza's come with a service guarantee of being delivered within the first thirty days after ordering or they are free. 

Friday, 25 July 2014