Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Quicksand had me hooked. Completely and utterly. It's a book that ticked many of the right boxes for me. An interesting premise, check. Well written, check. An impossible situation, check. An unreliable narrator, check. And a blurb that promises what it delivers? Check, check, check.

Maja Norberg has been in jail for the past nine months, awaiting trial for a shooting at her school in Sweden. Her best friend Amanda, and her boyfriend Sebastian are among the dead. So are many of her classmates. But from the outset, as Maja begins to describe the moments following the shooting, I got the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Was she guilty of what she had been accused of, innocent, or have the lines of right and wrong blurred so much that she is something in between? Is she a spoiled rich girl, a victim of an abusive boyfriend, or a bystander too weak, or perhaps complacent, to speak up when she should--not matter what the cost. 

And, come to think of it, what on earth would I have done if I had been in Maja's shoes?

As Maja drip feeds the reader information, I found my theories about what happened that day either confirmed or blown out of the water. That said, this is more than a straight out did she or didn't she situation. There is also a huge level of social commentary throughout the story. Do we treat people better or worse based upon the amount of money that they have? Are they treated better or worse because of where they live? Do we expect certain things from others based upon their education, religion, race and economic situation? Sebastian is the living example of the poor rich kid, the one who has everything and can get away with everything, yet lacks a loving family, proper supervision and respect for others. Maja is equally complex--she is sharp, has an excellent insight into human nature, and yet seems to be a product of both her environment, and her own poor choices. Then again, did she ever really have any choices? She certainly lacks support from the people that she needs most. 

Unputdownable, intelligent and full of surprises. Highly recommended. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me an ARC of Quicksand.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This memorial in North Terrace pays respect to the brave Australians who served in the 8th Division during World War Two--such as my grandfather, Jack White.

These soldiers were involved in the fall of Singapore, found themselves in Changi and some worked on the Burmese Railway. Many died, along the way, but a few made it back to Australia. Although my grandfather was lucky enough to make it back to Australia, where he became engaged twice, married once and fathered five sons, he was plagued with health problems and died when he was still relatively young. He never met his youngest son, my uncle, or any of his grandchildren. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: The Golden Helmet by Carl Barks

Well, this was certainly a surprise ... I am a fan of Donald Duck comics (particularly the ones by comic genius Carl Barks,) and I had no idea until I walked inside Dymocks recently that US based publisher fantagraphics has been republishing some of the classic Donald Duck comics in a beautiful, keepsake edition. This particular volume reprinted The Golden Helmet, a Donald Duck adventure penned by Barks where Donald, accompanied by his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, travels by boat to Norway to find the Golden Helmet, thus preventing it from falling into criminal hands. This one is all good fun, with plenty of adventure, along with a bit of wordplay and comic humour (look close at some of the museum exhibits in the background.)

This one was quite pricey (possibly because it was an import,) but I enjoyed it and also the shorter comics that filled the final third of the book. (And damn I hate that Gladstone Gander!)

Highly recommended.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Literary Quotes



"Exactly. She does not shine as a wife even in her own account of what occurred. I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you are aware, Watson, but my experience of life has taught me that there are few wives having any regard for their husbands who would let any man's spoken word stand between them and that husband's dead body. Should I ever marry, Watson, I should hope to inspire my wife with some feeling which would prevent her from being walked off by a housekeeper when my corpse was lying within a few yards of her."

Friday, 21 April 2017

Friday Funnies


It is Ron ... right?

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Review: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

I purchased Maus a long time ago, back when I had grand plans to do a series of reviews on Pulitzer Prize winning novels that, sadly, never really got off the ground. It seemed like an important inclusion--after all, it is the only graphic novel to have ever won the prestigious and coveted award. Anyway, I re-read Maus recently and decided that it is certainly worth talking about.

In the 1980s Art Spiegelman, an American comic book artist, came up with the idea of interviewing his father about his experiences of the Holocaust. What transpired was a deeply personal story about a Jewish man living in Poland who suffered persecution at every turn, the loss of friends and immediate family members (including his oldest son,) and who managed to survive both by intelligence and a lot of luck. The story was then made into a graphic novel, Maus, featuring Jews as Mice, Nazis as Cats, Poles as Pigs and Americans as Dogs. This novel was eventually followed by a sequel Maus Volume II. 

The brilliance of Maus is that it tells the story of the Holocaust in a very personal way. This is one man's story. One ordinary man, who found himself in the most horrific of circumstances. Despite the odds, he managed to survive. The novel also highlights the after-effects of living through such an ordeal.

This is one of many books that I have read in the past year that I really do think should be required reading for high school students. Maus is an upfront, honest and personal account of one of the most horrific events of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Aussie Author Challenge 2017: Update



Well, it's only April and this year has probably been one of my best yet for the Aussie Author Challenge. I am two thirds of the way there, toward my goal, which is:

To read twelve titles by Australian authors, fiction or non-fiction.
At least four of these titles must be by authors who are new to me.
At least four of these authors must be female. 
At least four of these authors must be male.
There must be at least three genres.

So lets see how I'm doing so far ...

I have read nine titles:

Hot or What by Margaret Clarke (Fiction, YA.)


An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire (Literary Fiction, Author is new to me.)


Magpie by Peter Goldsworthy and Brian Matthews (Literary Fiction.)


In Two Minds by Gordon Parker (Literary Fiction, Author is new to me.)



Lochie Leonard: Human Torpedo by Tim Winton (Fiction, YA.)


Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher (Fiction, children's.)

Paris Lights by CJ Duggan (Fiction, New Adult Romance.)

The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster (Fiction, Psyhological Thriller.)

The Case Against Fragrance by Kate Grenville (Non-Fiction.)


Eight titles are fiction. The genres represented include Literary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Children's and New Adult Romance. 

One title is non-fiction.

So far, only two authors are new to me, Emily Maguire and Gordon Parker. Technically, Brian Matthews is a new author as well, but, alas I've read titles by his co-author Peter Goldsworthy. 

Six titles have been written by women; three titles have been written by men.

This means that out of the next three titles I read for the challenge, at least two must be by authors who are new to me and at least one of these titles must be written by a male author. It's probable that I'll read other titles by Australian authors that do not fit these requirements in the meantime, but for fun, I'm hoping to link those reviews back to the challenge as well. After all, the whole reason I am doing this challenge is to share my love of Australian books and authors with the world.