Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Writers On Wednesday: Kellie Wallace Talks About Her Latest Historical Fiction Release

Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday post. This week, I am handing the baton over to Australian author Kellie Wallace who is going to tell us about her latest novel, Her Sweetest Downfall...

Kathryn has given me the opportunity to write a small post today so I'm going to give in to some harmless self promotion. My latest release, historical fiction novel Her Sweetest Downfall gave me another chance to explore my love for the 1940's. I've written two previous books, Darkness before Dawn and Skylark in the same era, and it's a time I just fell in love with. While its hard to visualise the clothes and the environment I know its vivid in my mind and hopefully, my reader's.

Her Sweetest Downfall can be described as a forbidden love story. At the height of the London Blitz, Viola Craft, a sexually repressed young woman is trapped in a loveless marriage to her God fearing husband Vernon. She spends her days working in her mother's dress shop while Vernon pulls the dead from the rubble with his rescue crew.

Their marriage is turbulent and Viola feels pressured to bear a child. After failed attempts, Vernon believes she's barren and alienates himself from their marriage. One night during an air raid, she meets alluring German born Kristoff Richter. They make an instant connection. He's young, good looking and emphatic. They embark on an illicit affair that leads to tragic consequences.

A few years ago, I could pump out three books in one year but I found the quality wasn't substantial – at least to me. When I wrote HSD, I was going through something which hindered my writing. It took almost twelve months to write. The first draft was finished in October 2014 and it was released April 2015. Quite a quick turnaround! I felt the novel represented my ability to get over my hurdles and succeed. I'm very proud of Her Sweetest Downfall and my characters. Any author will tell you they put a little bit of themselves into every character they create. They are our babies, our creations. As I wrote the novel, I felt for Viola and her unfortunate situation. While many will believe she's a weak woman, I wrote her as a voice for any woman out there. While she tries to achieve one thing – happiness – it seems every time she gets close it, someone or something takes it away.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: The Anti Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland

Sydney based blogger Rosie Waterland's autobiography is a mix of black comedy and a no-holes-barred account of a young woman who has survived some of the worst things that life has to offer--mentally ill parents, being sexually abused by her foster carer, being abandoned by her mother and then her uncle, school bullying, a stint in a mental hospital and her eventual battles with her weight. Or, as she writes, "I officially knew that my weight had gotten out of control when I realised that I could no longer wipe my own arse." And that's the authors writing style. The book is provocative, it's funny and the author does not take herself too seriously, even when she is writing about some of the worst events of her life. And there is hope there too--Waterland now has an enviable job writing for website Mamamia and she leaves readers with a resounding message about the importance of self-acceptance. As the title suggests, after years of trying to be cool, Waterland has found greater contentment in being an anti-cool girl. And you know what? I damn well love her tips for being the anti-cool girl. 

Highly recommended. In fact ... Throw out all of your copies of Cleo and Cosmo and read The Anti Cool Girl instead. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

This was part of an origami project that brightened up Rundle Mall last May. Members of the public were asked to contribute to this beautiful paper display and the result was showcased inside Rundle Mall.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Julia Venn has just one photograph of her beloved twin brother and a brand new identity as Lucy Black. She is only survivor of a horrific high school shooting where her twin brother shot her best friend, her boyfriend and many of their classmates, though she cannot remember anything about those twenty-two minutes. But things are not quite as they seem, and Julia may not be the honest and reliable teenager that she makes out to be. And when her brother's former psychiatrist comes searching for her, Julia knows that her secrets may just be about to come out ...

I felt that Damage Done was an exciting teen thriller with an unreliable (and thoroughly horrible,) narrator. Author Amanda Panich plays with her readers, drip feeding them information, before giving Julia's true nature away. Equally shocking is Julia's true relationship with her brother, though the author handles the controversial subject matter well. My only real complaint is that Julia's distant parents never quite seemed fully developed in their own right--the reasons for their neglect, and lack of understanding of their children, are never quite clear. (That fraternal twins were born hand in hand is a little of a surprise as well, but the story is set up so well, that I was easily able to suspend my disbelief.) All in all, Damage Done was an enjoyable teen thriller with an unlikely and delightfully unpleasant heroine.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Someone Thinks Vegemite is Racist. Well, So What?

An American woman thinks that Vegemite is racist. In a short YouTube video, and in a provocative blog post which has no sources to back up her claims, twenty year old Cassidy Boon berates Australian's for being racist and declares that Vegemite is racist against Indigenous Australians because the popular spread is black. In her blog, Ms Boon makes a number of claims about Australia, the underlying message being that she thinks that Australians, and their iconic spread, are fundamentally racist. 

Well, so what?

Since Cassidy Boon shared her video and blog, the whole thing has gone viral and hundreds of bored and patriotic Australians have become outraged by her claims. The big question is why anyone even cares about this. We live in an age where anyone can share an opinion about anything on the internet. There is nothing to stop someone writing a blog about racist potatoes, or the secret, subliminal slut shaming qualities of peanut paste. There is also plenty of scope for misrepresentation, and trolls.

And the latter is exactly what Cassidy Boon is.

A poor attempt at satire, Cassidy Boon, a troll who often posts sensational posts about a variety of topics--in fact Snopes recently published this regarding a post by Cassidy Boon where she was claiming to be suing the man who rescued her from drowning, and exposed her as a straw feminist. That's Nonsense has their own section devoted to Cassidy Boon.

Why do we even pay attention to this? Is it because Cassidy Boon plays on our fears, that of being unfairly accused of being racist? Australians seem to have an inherit fear of what the rest of the world thinks of us, to the point where one person on the internet can have us questioning an iconic spread. I don't know who is responsible for Cassidy Boon, but he or she must be pissing themselves laughing when they read some of the comments from patriotic Australians on the post.

Whether or not you believe Cassidy Boon is a real person, maybe its time more people asked themselves if everything they read on the internet is worth paying attention to. Just because someone posts an opinion online does not mean that that persons opinion is smart, important or even worth paying attention to. And most of the time, even when it is meant to be a joke, it just isn't funny. Let it go.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Friday Funnies: The Truth About Road Runner

Found this meme and it gave me a giggle. Hope you like it, sorry to all the folks out there who are offended by all the swearing!

PS Road Runner actually says "Meep, meep!" not "Beep, beep!"

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review: Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander

There is no doubt in my mind that Tom Houghton is a book that is going to touch the hearts of many, many readers. Told in duel narratives--one featuring forty year old Tom Houghton and another featuring Tom Houghton at age twelve--this is a novel about bullying and self acceptance. The young Tom is naive, book smart and often bullied. Life is tough living in the suburbs of Sydney, especially for kids who are a bit different. Tom finds solace in old Hollywood movies and a possible connection between himself and actress Katherine Hepburn, which, along with a little self-deception, he uses to create a new identity for himself. Meanwhile, the forty year old version of Tom Houghton, who has gone on to be an actor, is well, something of a bastard. He's the kind of guy who pushes away all the people who care about him--his lovers, his friends, his family and even his daughter. This book speaks very much of how we are shaped by the experiences that we have (or must endure,) when we are young and, particularly, how childhood bullying can have an impact on the victim even many, many years after it happened. 

This book has so many wonderful, positive selling points, that I am sorry to report that I did not enjoy reading it more--I think it is one that I may have to pick up and read again at some stage, as the book left me feeling quite emotional at various stages. I have to admit that I was satisfied by the ending, though, so author Todd Alexander is partially forgiven for leaving me an emotional wreck. (Damn you!) I am certain that there are many readers out there who will love this book, however, so I have no qualms about recommending it to others.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy.