Thursday, 2 July 2015

Review: Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan

The brutal history of European settlement in Tasmania (or Van Diemen's Land,) and the surprising true story of an artist and convict who just could not keep himself out of trouble are the subject of this modern classic by one of Australia's most beloved authors. William Buelow Gould is best remembered in Australian history for his watercolour paintings of fish. He was also a man who could not keep out of trouble, even when he was trying to better himself and it is this side of the man that Flanagan brings to life. Flanagan's Gould is a larrikin and an unreliable narrator who tells us a great yarn, while also examining some brutal truths about history, the treatment of the traditional owners of the land and, surprisingly, love.

The novel is told in twelve chapters, or twelve fish, as each one is devoted to one fish or one watercolour painting. (And yes, that really is one of Gould's paintings on the front cover.)

I cannot say that I loved the story as much as I did enjoy the cleverness of it and trying to put it all together, trying to understand what it all meant, and occasionally coming up with nothing and sometimes coming up with every theory imaginable. Actually, at times, it near drove me insane. 

Recommended to readers who want something a bit deeper.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Kathryn Gabrielle

Welcome to another fantastic edition of Writers on Wednesday. This week, I am chatting with my friend Kathryn Gabrielle, who I know from the brilliant Attic Secrets group on facebook. Welcome Kathryn ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

My name is Kathryn Gabrielle and I live in Allentown, PA. I am married for 33 years this coming August! I have a wonderful husband Louis and three children Louis Jr., Christine and Daniel. I am from Maine originally and graduated from Rivier College, Nashua, New Hampshire with a degree in Office Administration.  I have always loved to write. Even when I was a kid, I would send little stories about my dolls to my sister at college. I even made up a song in fourth grade about my dog and sang it to the class (I hope they were amused).  My very first story I wrote was "Crystal Dove". I wrote it in 1986 after my father died. It is very close to my heart. I work at a public library and I usually take home alot of books! I love to read too.  I am a very optimistic person and sensitive but strong inside. That is how I like to portray my characters as well.

Tell us about the first time you were published?  

The very first time I was published was in a poetry book that I had to pay for myself. I sent a copy to my mother. She was crying!. The name of my poem is "Memories of Maine".  She bought a copy. Bless you Mom!

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

As a writer, my proudest achievement is just being able to share my words with people. It is an intangible thing but truly that is all I really wanted. I have these stories inside my heart and I just want to share them. 

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

I just finished a book called "The Quest for Orion and other Stories" on Amazon.  It is about a "would be" knight that must pass a series of tests to find the Key of Faith. He has a fear of snakes and a lack of courage but with the help of a young woman who believes in him he becomes an honorable knight.

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

I prefer paper books because I like the feeling of having the touch of the pages and the smell of the book. That's why I work in a library. There is nothing like real books. It makes my soul sing!

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing? 

I like the new publishing online, even though I am all thumbs with computers! Traditional publishing can be discouraging because you need an agent and they want a certain genre. I have had trouble getting into magazines. I read the magazines over and over, trying to get the groove of what they want. 

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

The one book that I feel everybody should read has to be: The Thornbirds by Colleen McCollough. I was mesmerized by that book and my mother was as well!

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

I would like to say I am very happy to know you and welcome to my imagination! Smiles...


My page on facebook is called "Kathy's Fabulous Books".  Here is the link to that page:

I also sell my books on, and is a print on demand book site. author spotlight page:

Fabulously Funny Fables by Kathryn Gabrielle

Rose Cottage by Kathryn Gabrielle

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Review: The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

The northernmost part of Alaska in late November is the setting for The Quality of Silence a surprising new novel by British author Rosamund Lupton. Yasmin has just arrived in Alaska on the twenty-fourth of November, in time to see the sun set, knowing that it will not rise again for another fifty-four days. With her is Ruby, her ten year old daughter who is deaf. Yasmin's husband is not there to greet her at the airport, instead she is met with some terrible news. Unwilling to believe that her husband is dead, Yasmin soon finds herself on a dangerous journey, where she and Ruby battle the harsh climate and a deadly enemy of a different kind ...

The Quality of Silence has two great selling points, the unusual and quietly menacing setting, and the author's brilliant and sympathetic portrayal of Ruby, an innovative child who is wise beyond her years. The sense of place feels very real. The is a real sense of wonder about the natural environment and how it is both fragile and vulnerable against human greed. There are some very credible arguements against fracking.

Although easily a page turner, the story itself stretches the bounds of credibility on multiple occasions and I found the ending to be quite frustrating, though I suppose in many ways it also serves as an interesting metaphor--just as the lives of certain key characters are left in the balance, and they are relying on others to believe them and act quickly, what will to the environment if we don't believe those who speak out against things which destroy out planet like fracking and act quickly?  

An interesting enough read, but a few too many unrealistic plot twists leave it a few steps away from greatness. 

Big shout out and thank you to Hachette and The Reading Room for my ARC. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

On Hindley Street, just beside the entrance to Station Arcade is a plain white wall, which has been decorated with this beautiful artwork and story about a family and their life before they came to Australia as refugees. It is part of a daring artwork project, where the works are placed on construction sites around the city, and are real stories, told by refugees in detention to the artist. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Review: Dragon's Lair by Chantal Fernando

Bad boys, outlaw motorcycle gangs, bad-ass romances, melodrama and sizzling, sexy situations come together in Australian author Chantal Fernando's best selling erotic romance novel Dragon's Lair. Fitting perfectly into the so-trashy-it's-good genre is this tale of Faye, a good girl and high ranking university student who has been dating the boy next door for years. That all changes one day when Faye catches her boyfriend Eric with one of her so-called friends and she storms off and ends up having a very hot one-night stand with Eric's motorcycle outlaw bad-boy half brother Dex, which ultimately results in a pregnancy and Faye being kicked out of home by her somewhat cold and uptight parents. As soon as Dex discovers that Faye and his unborn child are homeless, he provides them shelter ... at club headquarters. Can a nice girl like Faye survive in such a dangerous place? And more to the point, what is her relationship with Dex?

I am not going to pretend that this book is well written because, quite frankly it isn't. The prose is functional at best, characters remain underdeveloped and the whole situation is completely and utterly ludicrous. But, as an escapist piece of trash, it has a certain charm to it and I found myself continuing to turn pages and wanting to know what would happen next. This one is what it is, and the author already appears to have a large following, most of whom will no doubt be looking forward to the next book in the series, Arrow's Hell, which puts a spotlight on a different bad boy from the Wind Dragon's Motorcycle Club.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Friday Funnies: Advice from Morticia Addams

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Review: The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine by Krissy Kneen

The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine is a hilarious and scorching hot read about a young woman who is discovering her sexuality set against a sci-fi backdrop. In some parts the plot is absolutely ridiculous but the whole thing is done so well and comes together so nicely in the end that most of the oddities are quite endearing. Holly White is a nice girl from Brisbane who does not believe in premarital sex and who wears who pledge ring with pride. She has a clique of girlfriends who have similar morals. She's clearly a bit too good for her boyfriend, Jack, who is not the honest guy he passes himself off to be, but Holly cannot see that and has her own reasons for wanting to keep her virginity, which comes in the form of well ... something neon blue. (I'll let you discover that one for yourselves. But it's great. Really.) Anyway, one day one of Holly's classmates from uni invites her to a secret book club and Holly is surprised to discover that this club is devoted to discussing erotic classics. And with a little help from the books--and from some other unexpected places--Holly soon finds herself on a journey of sexual discovery, and along the way, a discovery of herself.

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this quirky novel. Kneen's writing is fresh, funny, sexy and utterly addictive. Some of the situations may be depraved--Holly losing her virginity to a stranger in a phone booth in Paris for example--but the writing and storytelling are not. Each chapter is given the title of an erotic classic and that chapter relates to the named classic in some way. The ending is a bit strange (though I love what happens to Jack--what a way to rid the world of a lousy ex,) and it took me a second reading to catch on to just how fitting that ending was for the book. 

Highly recommended, but not for the prudish, or easily offended.