Monday, 31 December 2012

Think Out Loud

This week I am participating in Think Out Loud, a weekly meme hosted by Thinks Books. With this meme, book bloggers can say or post about any topic they like. So I am going to use this as an opportunity to discuss a topic that I think should have been addressed a long time ago:

That's right. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, I have a big problem with you. See, the thing is, I live in Adelaide. And not only do I live in Adelaide, but I (gasp, shock, horror,) actually dare to enjoy living in Adelaide. I also enjoy Adelaide cuisine and eating out at many of our fine restaurants such as La Trattoria and Good Life. 

Apparently, this is wrong of me. I should not be enjoying fine cuisine at all. Instead, I should be making a big deal about some semi-global chain that makes doughnuts and crying myself to sleep every single night because the closest Krispy Kreme franchise is located somewhere in Melbourne. And if I should travel to Melbourne, the point of my visit shouldn't be to absorb the local culture but to run inside one of these stores, salivate mercilessly and then purchase the entire content of the store and stuff it in my suitcase, because Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are just like, so good. In fact, I've heard that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts may even be able to establish world peace and discover a cure for cancer. 

Honestly, it's a just a doughnut. I get sick of people making a big deal out of a particular brand or product simply because it isn't available in Adelaide. Nothing screams low-self esteem like endlessly bagging your home city just because you can't find a particular brand or product. Or traveling to a whole other city to buy a bakery product that you could get practically anywhere, albeit with a different brand name on the paper bag or serviette.

Peanuts February 19, 1953

Just had to share one of my all-time favourite Peanuts Strips. This one hails from 1953 when the strip was still in its (relative) infancy. For the first time, we see a glimpse of the psychoanalyst that Lucy Van Pelt will become in later strips. (Though we're still a few years off her offering psychiatric help for the sum of five cents from a small, stand in the Van Pelt's front yard.) 

In many ways the resident bitch of the Peanuts gang (or crabby as she was known in the strips,) Lucy had the uncanny ability to accurately and bluntly point out everyone else's problems and failings, while remaining oblivious to her own--of which there were many. Lucy could never resist pulling the football away from Charlie Brown for no other reason than pure malevolence, could be cruel to her younger brothers Linus and Rerun simply because they existed and remained insensitive to the fact that Schroeder, the unlikely object of her affections, was simply not interested. Lucy probably had a higher level of self-esteem than the rest of the gang, thanks in part to her level of insensitivity. It was, quite simply, impossible to insult her.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

1990s Nostalgia: Seduced by Fame & Bewitched by Isla Fisher


Here is a confession. Back in the mid-1990s, when I was in my early teens and spending my weekends buying Dolly magazines, reading Sweet Valley High novels, staring longingly at the clothes in Miss Shop and hanging out at the local skating rink with my best friend Hayley, I was also hiding a dark and sinister secret that I didn't dare reveal to anyone. A secret so dark that it stayed firmly in my closet until one day ...

I was old enough to laugh about it.

My secret was this. I was a closet fan of Isla Fisher, the red haired star of Australian soap opera Home and Away. And when it was revealed in TV Week that nineteen year old actress was also an author, I just had to read her book. Eagerly, I devoured the sample chapters that appeared in Dolly the following month and begged my mother to buy me a copy for Christmas. (Mum obliged and also bought me a copy of Isla's second novel, Bewitched.)

Eagerly, I read Seduced by Fame from cover to cover. This was the story of a young woman who, like Isla, was plucked from obscurity to appear on her favourite soap opera. Wow, I thought. It must have been so realistic, because Isla was an actress, and Jade Silver, the heroine is an actress too. And she must be pretty damn smart, to be able to work on a television show and write books.

Afterward, I eagerly opened the cover on Bewitched. And pretty soon, I realised something.

I had been tricked. Two people were credited as authors on the inside cover and on the copyright page. Confused, I turned back to my copy of Seduced by Fame. Sure enough two people were credited on the copyright page as well. Isla had not written either book all by herself at all, despite her name and her photograph being on the covers. In fact, the writing style of Bewitched was slightly different. (Suggesting that the young actress had more help with her second novel than her first.) But this was explained in a letter from Isla at the back. Apparently, she was so busy with Home and Away that she had to get her mum to research Bewitched and then to help her write it. And they were working on another book together, titled Ebony and Amber which was to be able identical twins who are separated at birth but meet each other when they grow up and swap places. 

Isla Fisher wasn't the first celebrity and she wouldn't be the last to co-author a book and get a larger share of the credit. (And the whole thing was still a damn sight more honest than hiring a ghostwriter, which is still how the majority of celebrity autobiographies find themselves published.) For me, it was an awakening, a realisation that sometimes the people that marketed products could leave out important details that might make their products less interesting to the lucrative teen girl market. The books must have sold reasonably well in their day though, neither of my copies (which I still own, and are now highly collectable,) are first editions. (At least the numbering system at the front would suggest they are not true first editions.) 

And what of Ebony and Amber? A comprehensive search on the internet has failed to produce any evidence of the book ever making it to print, though an amazon search proves that it did have an ISBN and was meant to have been released in June 1996. It also appears that an ISBN was registered for a fourth book titled Too Beautiful though, obviously, that never came to be. (Read more here and here.) Isla's mother, Elspeth Reid went on to write another children's book with a different Australian publisher, titled The Secret Pony and according to wikipedia now lives in Greece. Isla Fisher is now, of course, a reasonably well established Hollywood actress who has appeared in comic roles in films such as Wedding Crashers and Confessions of a Shopaholic (as well as a few smaller and serious roles in films such as The Lookout,) and will be appearing as Myrtle Wilson in an upcoming version of The Great Gatsby.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

Woot! It's Friday and we all know what that means ... I'm planning to knock back a cup of Haighs Hot Chocolate, bust out the DVDs of Doctor Who and Daria, stuff some popcorn up my nose and ... Just kidding. It's Friday and that means it's time for Feature and Follow Friday, an awesome weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. This weeks all-important question is:

Q: What book do you think everyone should read? If you could gift the entire population with one book?

Just one? I can think of a few ...

E.M. Forsters A Room With a View is one of the most beautiful stories that I have ever read. I'd love to gift the entire world that one, just so that everyone could share in and enjoy the sheer beauty of the story.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel offers an interesting and thought provoking concept. 

Finally, I would choose To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. 

Which books would you choose? 

PS As always, leave me a link. I love seeing what you've been up to.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Review: Gordon by Edith Templeton

In the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey, it's unsurprising to see a flood of classic erotic titles finding their way back into print and placed on romance shelves inside bookstores. One such novel to enjoy a reprint is Edith Templeton's classic novel, Gordon. Once upon a time, this novel of a headstrong young woman who enters a horrific relationship with a brute was published under a pseudonym and eventually banned in England under the Obscene Publications Act. (Read more here.)  It's certainly not reading for children, or for the lighthearted. In 2003 the novel was rereleased, with the author named for the first time. This time around, Gordon has enjoyed a much quieter reprint and will most likely be ignored by the scores of women who all so obsessively devoured Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels. 

Far from light reading and with sex scenes that are as brief as they are disturbing, Gordon offers an interesting and believable psychological study into the main characters and their relationship. Dr Richard Gordon is a psychologist and all round brute. He uses his knowledge of psychology to seek out and trap Louisa, a young divorcee living in post-war London. Within an hour, Gordon has conquered Louisa on a stone bench and spends the rest of their relationship trying to break her psychologically and forcing her to become totally dependent on him. There is no warmth or intimacy in their relationship, their unions are about sex (or sex as Gordon desires it,) and control. In fact, Louisa cannot even bring herself to think of Gordon by his first name.

Gordon charms and sometimes forces the young woman to admit her weaknesses as a means of taking control. Lousia is also forced to tell the stories of her past relationships, while Gordon analyses her behaviour and actions. Of particular interest to me was the story of her crush on Derek O'Teague, a weak and pathetic man who managed to fool Louisa into believing that he was someone important--it was only when the crush faded that Louisa realised how stupid and unimportant the man was. (To this, I can relate.) I also found myself fascinated with the hold that Gordon had on Louisa and how he sought to keep it, followed by the revelation that to many women, the brutal Gordon was a weak man who was unable to perform sexually. In Louisa, he has found the perfect woman to bully and someone who considers him to be sexually powerful. In Gordon, Louisa has found a man who she can hide behind. She no longer has to think for herself or take responsibility for her sexuality. Of course, the relationship eventually self-destructs, but the real shock lies within what the future holds for both sides.

Gordon is an uncomfortable, unsettling and sometimes unputdownable exploration of human sexuality. As upsetting as it is fascinating and without a happily-ever-after ending, this is a book for anyone who wants to learn more about sexual politics. 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry

We all have that book. You know, the one that sits on the to-read pile practically forever, often cast aside in favour of bigger and brighter books. Then, the day comes when the pile is getting smaller, I idly pick it up and ... It turns out to be an absolutely brilliant novel.

That is exactly what happened to me with Girl, Stolen. I bought it from Dymocks a few months ago along with several other books (thanks for that gift voucher you got me for my birthday, Carolyn,) and somehow got stuck on the to-read pile. I picked it up on the weekend, having just finished and reviewed Daughter of Light and ... unputdownable. 

Completely and utterly unputdownable.

The novel tells the story of sixteen year old Cheyenne. Suffering from pneumonia and sleeping in the back seat of the family car while her stepmother collects Cheyenne's prescription from the pharmacy, she finds herself as an accidental victim of a kidnapping when the car is stolen. But that isn't the only problem. Cheyenne also happens to be blind. Meanwhile, her abductor, Griffin, didn't mean to take her, but he doesn't know what to do. When Griffin's dad, Roy, finds out what has happened and that Cheyenne comes from a wealthy family, he makes some big plans.

Rather than being a tragic heroine Cheyenne is a tenacious and very, very clever young woman. Her attempts at freeing herself from the situation are as bold as they are believable and I think this is what appealed to me the most about the book. Griffin, meanwhile, is basically a good kid from a bad family who has found himself in a terrible situation. I like that the author made me feel sorry for him, while still cheering Cheyenne on. A wonderfully crafted, well written book. Highly recommended. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Newsflash: V.C. Andrews Bittersweet Dreams

While on the official V.C. Andrews facebook page today, I asked V.C. Andrews ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman (who moderates the page) if he had ever considered writing a novel about bullying. His reply both pleased and surprised me: 

Maybe not a whole novel, but certainly it could be part of a others treat our lead girl...this happens in a novel upcoming entitled Bittersweet Dreams...

So it looks like we will be seeing a V.C. Andrews novel titled Bittersweet Dreams sometime in the near future. The next V.C. Andrews titles to be released (in the United States at least, often Australia is behind,) are Forbidden Sister (February 2013) and Roxy's Story (September 2013).

Friday, 21 December 2012

Review: Daughter of Light by Virginia Andrews

From the moment I finished Daughter of Light, I knew one simple truth. Reviewing this novel was going to be hell. 

As a reader, I'm pretty black and white. I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I know what constitutes as good writing and what doesn't. As a reviewer, I like to add my emotional reaction into the mix to create what I hope is not only an honest, but a unique book review. Consequently, reviewing a novel that contained a mix of good and bad writing, as many convincing plot twists as there were plot holes and that fantastic lead up to a disappointing climax, was always going to be difficult. And then there was the fact that ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman inserted a couple of "No worries" into Lorelei's dialogue. 

How can I possibly hate or give a damning review to an American novel that uses "No worries" in its proper context?

On the other hand, how can I possibly love a book that has the name of a much-loved and long-dead author on the front, whose work has now been reduced to a franchise and the latest releases bare nothing of her unique vision?

So maybe I'll just be honest in my review, and let you decide whether or not it is a good book.

Daughter of Light is the second novel in the Kindred series and vastly superior to its prequel, Daughter of Darkness. To recap Daughter of Darkness is a pretty sick and twisted novel about a young woman who discovers that she and her sisters have been bred for the specific purpose of luring bait (think virile young men,) to their bad, vampire Daddy, Sergio Patio. Once his daughters grow too old for the task, old Sergio marries his own daughters and expects them to produce more live bait, I mean daughters who'll trap some food for him and then marry him when they get too old and produce more babies and ugh ... I'm sure you get the idea. When the heroine of the novel, young Lorelei Patio discovers her fathers plans for her, she is disgusted and runs away.

Daughter of Light tells the story of Lorelei's attempts to make it on her own. Ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman has made some attempts to address the many problems with the first novel, and explain some of the plot holes, such as why Lorelei would simply ditch her boyfriend at the end of Daughter of Darkness. (She feared that he knew too much and that his association with her would make him a target for her father.) Annoying younger sister Marla is pleasingly removed from the plot, and bossy older sister Ava remains a minor character. Instead, this novel focuses on Lorelei trying to make a life for herself away from her vampire family. Naturally, this life means falling in love with a wealthy and now-reformed womanizer named Liam, from who she hides her history. Liam wants to marry her, Lorelei fears that her father and Ava are watching her, a young male resident from the town goes missing, Lorelei's fears grow and ...

Well, I was looking forward to a shocking, action packed and possibly even violent ending, anyway. I was half expecting that perhaps, one, we would find out what did happen to Buddy when Sergio did catch up with him, and two, what would happen when Liam discovered that his fiancee is the daughter of a vampire? Perhaps Sergio and Ava would even abduct Liam as a way of luring Lorelei back to the family home? Perhaps Lorelei would even plot and find a way to put an end to Sergio's evil once and for all. Stake in the heart, anyone?


In an ending that is just as disappointing as that of Breaking Dawn where the characters talk their problems out, Lorelei simply strikes a deal with Sergio that will grant her freedom. She can marry Liam and become human, on the condition that if her firstborn is a girl, she will be handed over to Sergio to raise, use as bait and then procreate with. Surprisingly, Lorelei (who I considered up until then to be fairly intelligent,) agrees to this. But then, fortunately, her firstborn is a boy, Sergio buggers off to Europe and Liam never discovers that his wife was once a vampire. And they all live happily ever after, but for a woman in Norfolk Virginia who continued to spin in her grave ...

Feature and Follow Friday

Time once again for Feature and Follow Friday an awesome weekly meme hosted by the equally awesome Alison Can Read and Parajunkee, who will no doubt be helping us all to survive the apocalypse in the coming hours. (It's okay guys, I'm just kidding.). On a more serious note, this week's question is:

Q: What have you learned from book blogging that you didn't know before about the publishing industry?

That sometimes if you can prove that you know your stuff, have a genuine interest in the book or subject and if you ask nicely they will send you a review copy of new or upcoming releases, which is just awesome. 

So, what have you learned? As always, feel free to share your links. I click on them all. Except for that spammer who keeps sending links to porn sites. That person (or robot) can kindly bugger off.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

1990s Nostalgia: The California Diaries #1 Dawn

The California Diaries was one of the final spin-off series from the Babysitters Club and the only BSC spin-off to be aimed at young adult, rather than preteen, readers. As always, Ann M. Martin is credited as the author, though it is doubtful that she actually wrote any of the books in the series.

Given the fact that the books were aimed at a slightly older audience, the California Diaries are darker than the BSC and discussed a number of real-life themes such as anorexia, a parent who is dying of cancer and friendships turned sour. Somehow, this series passed me by during my own adolescence (I suspect I was just that bit too old when they were released,) and I had never even heard of them until earlier this year when I researched a blog on the Babysitters Club. More recently, I found a few of the books and well, curiosity got the better of me ...

The first volume in the series is titled Dawn and features that California Cool girl from the BSC, Dawn Schafer, who has now been living in California for some months with her dad, brother and stepmother. It is also the beginning of eighth grade yet again, despite the obvious inconsistencies with the BSC. In a plot twist not unlike Degrassi Junior High, where the kids find themselves being prematurely moved to high school, Dawn and her pals from eighth grade suddenly discover that they will be moved out from middle school and shifted into the local high school a year early, due to overcrowding at the middle school. And the rest of the novel basically talks about Dawn and the others trying to adapt to a new school and to fit in with the older kids.

I found parts of this book, especially Dawn's fears and feelings about high school, to be quite realistic. In some ways, her experiences were quite similar to my own when I started high school. That said, reading the book left me with the exact same feeling that I got when I reread Are You There God? It's Me Margaret--I felt as though I was intruding on secret teenage business. This isn't a book that goes for both audiences, like many young adult releases do. It's a book for kids in their early teens, about scary early teen stuff. Consequently, I'm not in a hurry to read any of the remaining books in the series, but I'll be happy to recommend them to any thirteen year old girls that I know ...

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Friday, 14 December 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

Time once again for Feature and Follow Friday, an awesome weekly meme designed to help like-minded book bloggers connect, hosted by the equally awesome Alison Can Read and Parajunkie. This weeks all-important question is:

Q: What is the last book that made you cry? Tell us about the scene...

Definitely Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, the pain. Tears of pure frustration running down my reddened cheeks as I cried, "Ana, Ana, how can any grown woman be so bloody stupid ..."

Actually, as regular visitors to this blog would know, the last book that made me cry was The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. The scene was when Sarah discovers the extent of Ethan's cruelty and is so distraught that she decides to take her own life. I also cried a second time at the end, when I learned what eventually became of Sarah--without including any spoilers, it's certainly a triumphant ending and not in the way that younger readers might expect.

What book did you choose? Feel free to post your links below.

PS This week I'm shamelessly plugging copies of my book, Being Abigail, which is available for $12.99 from createspace. The main character is a blogger with some very, ahem, quirky, posts.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Unusual Weather Patterns Hit Sweet Valley

UNITED STATES--The small town of Sweet Valley, California has been hit with some very unusual weather patterns this December. While local residents are used to consistent beautiful days, with perhaps a small touch of snow on Christmas Eve, it appears that this December there has been a odd shift in the weather patterns. "Frankly, the weather is shithouse at the moment," Sweet Valley resident Bruce Patman, 16, told our reporters. "Twice now I've had my Porsche bogged in the mud because it won't stop raining. The second time, the mud was so bad that after I got out, no one could see my special personalised licence plates that say 1Bruce1."

The situation was nearly as dire for Patman's friends, identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield,  16, who were forced to put up the top on their red Fiat Spider for the first time ever. "I couldn't believe it," Elizabeth stated. "I was on my way to the next town, to donate some books to the Derek Zoolander Centre For Kids Who Can't Read Good, when all this water started to tumble down from the sky." Meanwhile, her sister Jessica and friends Lila Fowler and Cara Walker remain concerned about what the rain may do to their hair. "At first when we heard it was raining we didn't believe it," Lila told reporters. "I mean the first person to talk about it was that boring Enid Rollins and who listens to a word that she says? And then when she wouldn't shut up we just figured she'd started talking drugs again and was hallucinating."

While current weather patterns remain highly unusual, the outlook is optimistic for local residents. "Lots of strange things happen around here at Christmas time and we always pull through," Elizabeth Wakefield told reporters. "We get lots of strange murders and attempted murders, and not to mention strange or not medically accurate diseases. Plus there is this really weird time loop. None of us have aged for the last twenty Christmases ..."

Monday, 10 December 2012

Abbey Road Spoofs

Found this awesome Mr Men picture and just had to share. I'm familiar with the series and the characters thanks in part to my own childhood (my brothers and I had many of the books and a record that featured Arthur Lowe reading some of the stories,) and the fact that I can now share them with my nieces--Little Miss Naughty seems to be a firm favourite. However, and maybe it is just my own ignorance speaking here, this picture would have to be the first time I've seen the characters paying tribute to popular culture (in this instance, the immortal Abbey Road cover). But the Mr Men characters (and my only criticism of the picture is that only Mr Bump should have been barefoot, in keeping with the album cover,) are not the only characters to pay tribute to the cover. Here are some more great pictures:

Dedicated Peanuts Fan Spoofs Abbey Road

The Simpsons get in on the act.

Even Sesame Street is not immune.

It seems that practically everything linked with either cartoons and children's entertainment has a thing about Abbey Road send ups. I would not be surprised if there is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Abbey Road out there, or a Sweet Valley Book titled The Twins Visit Abbey Road Studios. Still, it's art, it's decent art (or at least decent enough to spark a smile and positive discussion,) so who am I to complain. I'll just sit back, smile and wait for the next Abbey Road send up to catch my eye ...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

My Dad loaned me this short, simple fable because he thought that I would enjoy reading it and it might make good material for a review. My poor dad didn't know what he was getting into. Three times I nearly gave up on this one and twice it had me in tears. Why? Because the story hit me so very close to home.

The Time Keeper is a fable about a man called Dor, who was responsible for the invention of time six thousand years ago. After climbing a tower that is destroyed by God (yes, many biblical implications there, no comment,) Dor is sent to live in a cave where he is made to suffer the consequences of his invention--basically he listens to every man, woman and child on earth begging for more or less time. Then Dor is granted a chance at freedom, on the condition that he find two people--one who is begging for more time on earth and one who wants less time on earth--and help them. And so begins Dor's trip to New York City where he meets the two individuals he can help.

The pair are polar opposites. Sarah Lemon is an intelligent young high schooler who is suffering the consequences of an unrequited love in the most humiliating way possible. Basically she met a boy who was part of the in-crowd, he led her on for a while, she became a little too attached and he blew her off. Then, the arrogant little sod announces Sarah's actions publicly on facebook and she gets to watch as all of his friends make humiliating and degrading comments about her. The comments are bad enough for Sarah to want to end her own life.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, wealthy businessman Victor Delamonte, is trying to prolong his life. He knows that he is dying, but he has no desire to leave the earth just yet. He decides that being cryogenically frozen is the solution to his problems. Then, his body can be stored until such a time that his illness can be cured and he can live forever.

Naturally, Dor's purpose is to help both Victor and Sarah. The ending, which is both beautiful and surprising touched me quite deeply. But that is not why the story made me cry.

Albom is a skillful storyteller. But anyone who has read The Five People You Meet in Heaven can tell you that. What I wasn't expecting was just how deeply I cared for Victor and Sarah or how much I could identify with both characters, especially Sarah and the sting she feels from crushing on an unsuitable man. Luckily, Sarah is eventually able to rise above it and proves that she can make a real difference in the world, unlike others, who remain in their safe cloistered little clique.

As previously stated, I could also identify with Victor and his fear of his own approaching mortality. Death is a frightening thing. It cannot be reversed and no one knows for certain what happens or how it might feel. And, I think regardless of how healthy someone is or their age, it is easy to start asking questions about whether ones life has been lived to the fullest and what they would change if they had the opportunity to do so.

And then there is Dor himself, who for six thousand years is made to see the consequences of his actions.

The Time Keeper is an interesting and touching fable, easily read and bound to appeal to a broad audience. A great read, but be warned, it made me cry ...

Friday, 7 December 2012

Awesome Author Blog Hop

Big shout out to Nicole Suzanne Brown who tagged me and my awesome novel Being Abigail for this author blog hop. 

What is the title of your book?

My book is titled Being Abigail. It is a humorous novel about a young woman who attempts to rebuild her life after a suicide big goes spectacularly awry.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Being Abigail is based on a fiction blog that I used to write titled Who Was Abigail Carter? The main characters themselves have been around for a lot longer though. When I was in my upper high school years, I wrote a number of interconnected short-stories featuring a teenage version of the same character. I started the blog one afternoon after I began to wonder what Abigail Carter would be like as an adult.

What genre does your book fall under?

Either chick-lit or contemporary life. Or maybe total lunacy. (Is that a genre, lol?)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Provided she could do an Australian accent, I think that Amy Adams would be the perfect actress to play Abigail Carter. (Thanks largely to her brilliant performance in Junebug.)

Being Abigail $12.99 from Amazon or Createspace.

Feature Follow Friday

Yeah! It's time once again for Feature and Follow Friday, an awesome weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkie designed to help like-minded book bloggers connect. This week's all-important question is:

Q: Activity! Who do you want to be? If you could choose any character from a book. What do you think that character looks like and what do you have in common?

This is an interesting question. Clearly, I am that delightful darling, Severus Snape, owing to the uncanny resemblance between myself and Alan Rickman. See:


What is that camera doing in front of half of Snape's face? Okay, in all seriousness, I don't know how to answer this question. I think that family and friends have compared me to Jo March from Little Women, or more specifically Winona Ryder's portrayal of Jo March in the 1994 film adaption of Little Women, which can be summed up in part here:

Ahh, the young writer with big dreams and secret insecurities. Jo is the most independent and strong-willed of the four March sisters and pays a heavy price for her dreams and independence. It is Jo who watches her childhood friend marry her bratty sister Amy who is, in many ways her polar opposite. Even though Jo had the intelligence to know that a relationship with Laurie would never work, being cast aside for her younger, prettier and less intelligent sister still hurt. 

Who is your choice? Feel free to post a link below.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cookie Monster Goes to Rehab (Family Guy)

For reasons that are unknown to me, people keep coming to my blog searching for this clip. So for all your souls out there looking for that Family Guy Cookie Monster moment, here it is ...

Oh, and just so that there is some kind of discussion here (thus avoiding nasty copyright laws,) do not eat too many cookies. Cookie addiction is bad and can have some far reaching consequences, as demonstrated in the video above. Even in rehab, Cookie Monster finds himself hiding cookies and then insatiably eating the evidence when confronted with them, thus hindering his progress in the rehabilitation process.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Review: The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert L. Short

This book was a little gem that I discovered shortly after my grandmother passed away in 2003. We were tidying up her house and this book was discovered at the bottom of a suitcase. Assuming that it was simply a comic book, I took it home. What I got was a highly subjective analysis of the popular peanuts comic strip and a search for religious meanings and messages within the Peanuts comics. Apparently, this book was quite a big deal during the 1960s, and (at least according to wikipedia) sold more than ten million copies. 

Interestingly, Charles Schulz himself liked the book, though he described himself as a Secular Humourist, rather than belonging to a particular religion. This to me seems more consistent with the comics, which seem to comment more on human nature, rather than making the case for any one religion. If Christianity appears dominant throughout the comics, it is probably more a reflection of American suburban life in the 1960s, rather than an overt religious message. But that is just my own, equally subjective opinion. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

Woot! It's time once again for Feature and Follow Friday, that completely awesome meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkie that is designed to help like-minded bloggers connect and share their opinions on all things bookish. This week's all-important question is:

Q: Activity! Who is your to-die-for book crush? What do you think they look like? Add an image to make us all happy.

Okay, my crush is Jon Arbuckle from the Garfield comics. I mean who could resist a guy like this:

Just kidding! My to-die for crush, as many of you will know already is a Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen's wonderful novel, Pride and Prejudice. And I always imagined that he looked like Colin Firth, even before I saw the BBC television adaption with Colin Firth. But just because I cannot get enough of this particular individual, I'm going to post a picture:

Mmm, lovely ... So who is your book related crush?

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Facebook: Home of the Urban Myth

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoy using facebook. I enjoy catching up with family and friends, hearing the latest news, sharing in their successes and hoping that I can say or do something to ease the pain during troubled times. I like exchanging funny photographs, getting to know people better and a whole lot of other good things that come with the site. But with the good comes the bad, and I don't just mean repeated photographs of pets or babies doing something funny with an equally ridiculous caption to go alongside. And really, there is only so many times I can look of a photograph of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka with a smart arsed caption underneath before I grow bored. No, this latest trifling piece of annoying is the sheer number of hoaxes and scams that I see on my newsfeed every day. (And on a related topic, my compassion is not measurable by liking or sharing a photograph of a sick child/abused animal/senior citizen being deprived of their Jim Reeves record collection.)

Urban myths on facebook are abundant. There are some stories that I can kind of understand people sharing. They are the kind of news stories that show the better side of human nature. We would like them to be true. Take for example the one about the black man who is upgraded to first class on an airline flight after a woman complained about being seated next to an undesirable person. (Read more here.) Or the story of the man who tells his wife he wants a divorce and she insists on a months notice and him carrying her to bed every night. They fall in love again and then she dies of cancer. (Read more here.) Both stories have a lovely moral, but that doesn't make them true. 

Then there are the nastier scams. These are the ones that prey on our fears and our sense of compassion and duty. In particular, our sense of compassion without having to actually do terribly much about the problem but for the click of a button. No money will change hands and you don't even have to spend that much time worrying about it. So ... Just so we're clear, facebook does not sponsor sick children. They will not be donating money for every time someone likes or shares a photograph of a sick child. (Read more here.) And yes, I agree, childhood illness is a horrible thing. And yes, when we hear of a sick child we all wish we could do something to help. But this kind of activism is misplaced. Instead, consider donating money to a reputable charity in your area, even if all you have to spare is fifty cents. Don't help to pass on highly exploitive photographs, which have been uploaded by pranksters for their own amusement. Exploiting children and the compassion of others is not okay.

Then there are the other myths. No, a particular type of fruit has not been proven to cure cancer, you do not have to copyright your newsfeed (that is covered in the terms of service,) and nothing, I repeat, nothing is going to happen if you do not forward on that chain message. Use your common sense. Or spend two minutes on google. Type the name of scam in and the word hoax and you'll have a host of articles available at your fingertips to set you straight.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Writing and Doubt

It is eight o'clock on a Tuesday evening. And where am I right now?

Sitting at my desk, watching the sun set over the tiny patch of ocean that can be seen from my window and wondering why am I still bothering to do this. By this I mean, my blog, my books, my facebook page, anything else that is even vaguely associated with writing or the written word. Or more to the point, my written words.

Who am I? What am I doing, really? I slave away at this, feverishly writing, meticulously editing and doing my best to promote my work in an already saturated market, filled with indie writers, many of them far more extroverted and willing to put it all out there than I. And I cannot, simply cannot imagine life any other way. I love what I do. I love expressing my internal thoughts, fears and feelings through the written word. I love to write about the things that I have read and the things that have somehow captured my imagination. Sometimes I write to make sense of various events that have occurred in my life. And I love to be read. I love it when others can make sense of, and relate to my words.

But is my writing any good?

Who knows? I'm too close to it to answer that objectively.

And what will the future bring?

I don't have the answer to that, either.

And as I have said, the market is already saturated. Sure there is only one of me. Sure no one else writes quite like me. But that doesn't mean the publishing industry wants me.

No one has to publish my work, anyway. That is their business decision to make. They don't owe me anything.

Sometimes, I think life would have been a lot easier if I had been born with a passion for something practical, like hairdressing or fixing cars. Or even accounting. But no. From the moment I picked up a pencil all I wanted to do is write. And I guess I am doing that, in my own, funny little way.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

1990s Nostalgia: Jessi Ramsey

As regular followers will know, I did a short piece on BSC character Mallory Pike recently. I've decided to follow that one up with a piece on her best friend, Jessi Ramsey.

Jessica "Jessi" Ramsey was the seventh person to join the Babysitters Club (not counting associate members Logan Bruno and Shannon Kilbourne,) and first appeared in Hello Mallory as the new girl in Stoneybrook. Her family had bought Stacey McGill's old house and at first had some difficulty settling in as they were the first black family to settle in the predominantly white, middle-class Stoneybrook. (I say predominantly as the Kishi family are one notable exception.) This would later lead Jessi to falsely believe that anyone who did not like her was doing so out of racial prejudice, such as when she encounters a standoffish girl at the school winter camp. Jessi was said to be a talented ballerina who practiced in the family basement daily and took weekly lessons in Stamford.

The first novel to by told through Jessi's eyes (and arguably her best,) was number sixteen Jessi's Secret Language, where she babysits a deaf child and commits herself to learning sign language. Most of her novels thereafter proved her to be a responsible, compassionate person. For example she helps to raise money for a child who has cancer, teaches a child television star some valuable life lessons and helps a friend and fellow ballerina who has an eating disorder. Other adventures include taking up synchronized swimming and feeling betrayed when her best friend Mallory left for boarding school.

Jessi eventually left the Babysitters Club to concentrate on ballet. She appeared in the Friends Forever series as a minor character.

1990s Nostalgia: Racing the Moon by Terry Prone

Don't ask me why I felt a sudden pang of nostalgia, because apart from a minor subplot of small social change in Ireland in the late 20th century, there is nothing terribly remarkable about this book. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, like Naomi Campbell's Swan or Disco Daddy by Morag Prunty, I am constantly seeing copies of it inside various secondhand bookstores. (Sidenote: My uncle used to own a secondhand bookstore. He once told me that if he ever sees "that bloody Naomi Campbell book" again, he will scream.)

If I recall right, I first read this one at about the time I graduated from high school. I found it on the shelves at my local Target and took it home, simply because I had exhausted the stores supply of Anne Rice and V.C. Andrews novels. 

Racing the Moon tells the story of fraternal twins, Sophia and Darcy. Beautiful Sophia is almost angelic in her behaviour, Darcy is her opposite in every way. The blurb would have you believe that the pair fight over the same man. The truth is, Darcy dates the lying, womanizing Greg for a while, discovers what a moron he is and dumps him. So then Greg decides to marry Sophia, cheats on her while she is hospital having suffered an ectopic pregnancy and because she is so good and self-sacrificing, Sophia decides to stay with him anyway. Besides, at the time of publication, divorce was not legal in Ireland. (The first edition was published in Ireland 1997.) And then Darcy meets her lifelong penpal and decides to marry him. The end. 

The novel plays out over the course of about fifteen years and revolves mainly around the random shit that happens to each twin (i.e. the guy Sophia loses her virginity to drowns on the same evening, Darcy's first car is ruined by Greg, a teacher who sets Darcy an assignment hangs herself because she cannot find love.)

Of course, one could argue that each twin was meant to represent something important, or the novel represents the importance of family and loyalty, but there is not much evidence to support either argument. It's really just a story of a whole lot of crap that happens to two total opposites who happen to be related. As for the cover ... ugh. And why are the twins featured identical, when Darcy and Sophia are fraternal twins?

Remarkably though, this was Terry Prone's best and most famous book. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Writing Book Reviews

A compelling study of one young woman's struggle to stand tall and do what is right in the face of adversity.

Question: What book did I just review? 

Answer: The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor by Enid Blyton. 

The real blurb for this one reads:

When Elizabeth Allen is chosen to be a school monitor, she's delighted. But she soon finds out just what a responsible job it is. The harder she tries, the worse she behaves! Will the naughtiest girl in the school EVER learn to be good?

Well before I started this blog, actually probably around the time I started reading, I discovered one inescapable truth. Book reviews are a highly subjective business. With a strong grasp of the English language and the ability to manipulate evidence to prove your argument, you can write a good or bad review on practically any book you please. 

But does that make for a good book review? Of course not. The general public are not stupid. One sincere review for a novel is always going to be a thousand times better than ten insincere reviews that manipulate evidence, leave out facts or (like I did) dress the book up to be something far more intellectual than what it is. (And hey, I'll just point out here that there is nothing wrong with Enid Blyton or any of her books. Except maybe for that adventure series that had that really annoying parrot. But anyway, my point is, it's a nice children's book, not a past contender for the Man Booker Prize.) The best reviews will always be the ones that are sincere and objective. To those reviewers who do just that, for little reward or thanks, I salute you.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

It is time once again for Feature and Follow Friday, a fun weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkie which is designed to help like-minded bloggers connect and have some fun. This weeks all important (and somewhat American,) task is to feature a blog that we are thankful for. This is going to take me a mighty long time to choose, so I'm going to highlight a few blogs that I stop by regularly and think that you should check out:

O E Books always has something interesting and intelligent to discuss.
Write Now doesn't update regularly any more, but there is still much great advice to be found there for aspiring writers.
Nicole Suzanne Brown always has something interesting and encouraging to say.
The Readdicts is fast becoming one of my favourites for their great reviews.
Australian Bookshelf for consistently intelligent reviews.

And I could probably go on. Feel free to share links of your favourite blogs and your Follow Fridays.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

1990s Nostalgia: Mallory Pike

Today I'm paying tribute to one of the more ahem, troubled, members of the Babysitters Club, Mallory Pike. Although Mallory was one of the less interesting characters in the series (let's face it, she didn't wear weird clothing like Claudia did,) Babysitters Club author Ann M. Martin surprised the now grown-up fans of the series when she stated that she had no strong feelings about Mallory Pike. (Read more about it here.) But who is Mallory Pike really, and what did she contribute to the BSC?

Mallory Pike debuted as a ten-year-old sitting charge in the first book in the series, Kristy's Great Idea. The oldest of eight kids, Mallory was annoyed that she still had to have a babysitter. As the series progressed, the members of the BSC released that Mallory was mature for her age and eventually asked her to help out as a junior helper at a playgroup that they established one summer. Later, after Mallory had turned eleven and Stacey left the club to return to New York, Mallory was asked to join the Babysitters Club full time. However, Mallory's transition from sittee to sitter would not be a smooth one.

The first book told from the perspective of Mallory Pike was aptly titled Hello Mallory. Readers learned that Mallory hated her red hair, freckles and glasses and that she loved reading books about horses. Despite being the oldest of eight kids, she had no close friends, until one day, a girl called Jessi transfers to Stoneybrook Middle School. A number of kids in their grade are prejudiced toward Jessi because she is black (oddly, people in Stoneybrook have a problem with black families, but no one seems to care that Claudia's family is Japanese ...) Mallory soon realises that Jessi likes many of the same things she does and they become best friends. Meanwhile, the older members of the BSC want to make sure that their new member is good enough to be a professional Babysitter and have devised a number of tough tests, which Mallory inevitably fails. She and Jessi start their own babysitting business. And then, to cut a long story short, the members of the BSC realise that they made a mistake and ask Mallory to join. She does on one condition, that they allow Jessi to become a member as well. 

Mallory's adventures in the series revolved around her desire to carve out an identity for herself. Unhappy with her appearance, she convinced her parents to allow her to have her ears pierced. She went on strike from babysitting for her siblings to concentrate on her schoolwork and refused to participate in gym class when the other students began to routinely humiliate her due to her lack of co-ordination. Other adventures included dying her hair blonde (it was dyed back before her parents could discover what she had done,) working as an assistant to her favourite author and joining in on the various holidays and vacation themed BSC special edition.

Although Mallory was sometimes friendly with Ben Hobart, she often had a lot of contempt for boys.

Mallory eventually left Stoneybrook to attend an all girls boarding school. She did not appear in the Friends Forever series. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bookstore Visit

Trip to my local suburban bookstore this weekend. Now, being an Adelaide girl, my local bookstore is actually located quite some distance from my house, but that is a sad reflection of the time and era I live in. For the past four or so years, no bookstore has existed within the confines of my local shopping centre, meaning that I have to bus it to another, much larger shopping centre in order to experience a visit to a real, bricks and mortar bookstore. (Or cement with plaster inside walls, as the case is.) Anyway, the trip itself was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping to find a copy of the new Virginia Andrews novel Daughter of Light so that I could read it, get mad at the crappy writing and then review it. The store had plenty of other Virginia Andrews novels in stock, including a pretty awesome looking edition of Petals on the Wind with an updated cover but, alas, there were no copies of Daughter of Light to be found anywhere. In fact, there wasn't anything else there that really caught my eye (or perhaps my imagination,) either. What I did notice was that finally, after many months, copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels had finally been pulled from the shelves at the front of the store. Instead, now lies a new section, directly beside Paranormal Romance and Romance titled Contemporary Erotica. In this section, I found all the titles I expected such as the Fifty Shades triology, the Avalon trilogy, the Crossfire Novels and other assorted novels and trilogies that each basically told the story of weak willed woman who get off by being repeatedly sexually abused by older, richer and narcissistic control freaks. I even spied a copy of Story of O with an updated cover. And yet again, I found myself feeling slightly ill and pissed off that this crap, which has so little to offer readers, is getting so much attention. And yet again, I found myself asking the question, why? Why the hell is this shit so popular. Okay, I actually understand why plenty of women read Fifty Shades. It was new, daring and kinky as all hell. There was a dark, forbidden element in it--here is a tale of a young virgin seduced into the world of BDSM by a wealthy, older billionaire. And then there was the fact that suddenly, everyone was talking about this book. If you wanted to know what all the fuss was about, you'd better get your reading glasses on. But be prepared. This was a dark tale ...

What readers got was a book that was ridiculously easy to read, poor written and somewhat suspenseful, with an unbelievable love story to counter the dark elements. Easy to read, romantic and suspenseful is a good mix, particularly for anyone who does not read often. I have written in previous posts what I think about the whole contemporary erotica phenomenon (click here to read more,) and in all honesty, I think that the appeal of Fifty Shades isn't really all that different to what drew younger readers to Twilight and its sequels. Most probably won't stick with the genre and those who do will move on to bigger and better books. And you know, just because you read about something doesn't mean that you're going to try it. (As a long time Virginia Andrews fan, I can vouch for that.) 

More pleasing was the range of non-fiction that I encountered in store. I spent ages pouring over Dr Karl's latest book (yeah, clever marketing Dr Karl titling the book Fifty Shades of Grey Matter.) Then there were cookbooks and travel guides to be browsed (not that I ever get that excited about cooking or travel in real life, but it is nice to look at the glossy photographs,) and self-help relationship guides that seemed about as trustworthy as a lot of the internet advice about dating I found recently. (You can read that post here.) 

An interesting enough trip to the bookstore, but not enough to inspire me to actually buy something. Mmm, don't you hate that?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Extract: Best Forgotten by Kathryn White

Just for fun, I thought that I would share an extract from my latest novella, Best Forgotten.

Part 1
The Killer

April 16 2010

Purse. Car keys. Textbook. Mobile. Okay, I can do this. Act cool. Pretend everything is normal. I slip on my sunglasses and dump my satchel on the front passenger seat of the Hyundai. I take a deep breath. So far, so good. It is amazing, really, just how ordinary everything seems today. Here I am, going about my morning routine like nothing strange or out of the ordinary happened last night. Like I’m still the same innocent, untainted girl who stood in this same place, at exactly this time yesterday.
I wonder if anyone knows that I killed a man between now and then?
I cast my eyes across the car park, just to see if anyone from the flats is out and about yet. On the other side of the fence, at the front of an old weatherboard shack, James is trying to persuade his son to get into the car so that he can go to school.
‘I don’t wannna go!’ 
I know how you feel, kid. I never liked school much either.
Tyson makes a dash from the driveway to the veranda. ‘Come on Mate …’ James lifts his arms in the air. In one hand is Tyson’s Spiderman backpack. In the other, James holds his car keys. I stifle a giggle. Poor James. ‘It’s not that bad.’
‘I’m not going.’
Tyson plonks his tiny bottom down on a rotting old sofa that lives on the Smith’s front veranda. The sofa has been there for two years now. The story is that after James split up with Tyson’s mum, Holly, she wanted the sofa. He left it on the veranda so that she (or anybody else) could take it whenever she wanted to. Then Holly must have changed her mind about wanting her sofa back, because she never came around to collect it. Such are divorces in this neighbourhood.
‘Come on …’ James looks toward the sky. ‘It’s going to start raining soon.’
And you’ll probably get a horrible disease from that sofa if you’re not careful, Tyson.
Tyson sighs and stares down at his lap. James lets out a sigh of his own. He turns to the fence and stares at me. ‘Never, ever have kids.’
Hi James! How’s it going? Did you know I murdered someone last night?
‘Nah, he’s all right …’ James lets out a chuckle. ‘Just moody because he’ll be going back his mum’s this arvo … he doesn’t like it that she and her partner have a new baby.’
I can understand that. Poor Tyson.
It’s never fun, being the unfavoured child.
‘Anyway, how have you been …’ Pausing momentarily, James looks me up and down. Why is he staring at me like that? Maybe he knows. I feel my heart pound a little faster. After all, James does work for the emergency services. Maybe he was the paramedic that attended the scene last night. And then, maybe the police worked out who did it, and they know that he lives in the house next door to the flats and they’ve asked him to keep an eye on me. Maybe he’s even recording this conversation in the hope that I might say something that makes me look guilty and then …
‘… Kellie-Sue.’
James offers me a smile. ‘It is Kellie-Sue, right?’
Oh. James doesn’t know which twin he’s talking to. Wow, that’s really … weird. I turn and look in the mirror. Maybe being a murderer makes me resemble Cassie even more closely than before.
‘Of course it’s Kellie-Sue.’
A sigh echoes through the car park. Cassie runs a hand through her long, blonde hair. A pair of ice-blue eyes gaze at James. ‘I’d never be caught dead in clothes like that.’
I wear jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of Wembly from Fraggle Rock on the front. Cassie wears hotpants with hoop earrings and a white singlet top. No bra underneath. Because Cassie is just like, way too cool to bother about things like underwear.
‘I bet you wouldn’t.’
James keeps his face completely deadpan.
Cassie turns toward the Hyundai. She takes my satchel from the passenger seat and tosses it in the back. ‘You leaving any time soon?’
‘Would you like a ride?’
I roll my eyes and then walk to the other side of the car. I give James a quick good-bye wave and start the engine. ‘And probably a poof as well.’ Cassie rolls her eyes. I try not to smile. In Cassie’s eyes, the only reason a man would not be completely and utterly in love with her was if he was gay.
‘I think he’s okay.’
Actually, I think that James is very nice, even if his long, dark hair and beard don’t really suit him. And the scar on his face, just on his left jaw, is a bit freaky.
‘I can’t get through to Morgan.’
Cassie sighs and stares down at her mobile. She has the latest model Blackberry. Because, lets face it, Cassie is just way too cool to own a Nokia or Samsung Galaxy. Or even an iPhone.
‘Morgan, where are you?’
Cassie sighs into her mobile. ‘I couldn’t get through to him last night, either.’
Maybe there is a reason for that. Still, I don’t think Cassie would react very well if I told her that Morgan was dead. So instead I say, ‘I tried looking up the cemetery records online last night.’
‘What do you want to do that for?’ Cassie rolls her eyes.
‘So we can finally know where Dad is buried.’
Our dad died when we were seven, shortly after he and Mum split up. I don’t remember much about him, apart from his accent and that he always used to wear plaid shirts with jeans. He was originally from Atlanta, Georgia and was responsible for giving me a name that would ensure that I was ridiculed relentlessly in the schoolyard. Because God knows, it’s completely unacceptable to have a name like Kellie-Sue when you attend an Australian public high school.
Oh well. At least it was better than the other names they used to call me. Like Fat-Arse-Sue. Or later on, Anna Rexia.
‘He’s dead.’ Cassie sighs. ‘Knowing where he is buried isn’t going to change that.’
‘Yeah, but …’
My voice trails off as I realise that Cassie is no longer listening. She has her Blackberry pressed to her ear, as she chats away with one of her many friends. ‘Nah, can’t find him anywhere …He was supposed to meet me last night at the Stag and never showed, the lazy prick.’
Oh, Cassie. If only you knew why that good-for-nothing Morgan never showed at the Stag last night. Or that his killer is sitting right beside you …
* * *
Before you ask, Morgan is not Cassie’s boyfriend. He is mine. Well, ex-boyfriend.
And yes, I killed him.
I’m sure that you think this makes me a horrible person. And maybe I am. Maybe I’m a completely rotten person. Be assured that I did call an ambulance. Okay, I might have used a public telephone, and I hung up when they asked me my name, but I did call the emergency services, just in case they could do something.  So maybe I’m not totally evil.
Morgan is someone that Cassie and I have known since we started high school. He was a year and a half older than us, but had been kept down a grade after a long illness. He and Cassie because good friends straight away. Most of the kids thought that they were an item. You couldn’t really blame them for that, seeing as most of the time, Morgan seemed to trot around after Cassie like a puppy in search of his master. He never paid that kind of attention to me. For a little while, I was jealous, but then I got sick and had my own problems to deal with. After I got better (or more accurately, after I gained a certain amount of weight,) Mum and Brian thought it was best to send me to a private school where I could have a fresh start. Consequently, I didn’t have that much to do with Morgan, until I started uni and we kept seeing one another on campus.
This time, things were different. I kept noticing just how attractive Morgan was. Tall, buff, golden blonde hair, brown eyes. I wasn’t planning on doing anything about it. I mean, every time I saw him, Morgan always had hundreds of girls flocking around, vying for his attention. Why on earth would he notice me, some friendless, stick thin virgin with rabbit teeth and bad clothes, when he had outgoing, beautiful supermodel lookalikes hanging on to his every word? And then, suddenly it seemed like everywhere I went, Morgan would be there too. He’d compliment me on my appearance, laugh at my jokes and stick up for me whenever I needed him to. And he had a quirky sense of humour of his own. I liked the way that he could never merely like something. He’d always describe himself as ‘loving’ it. Morgan did not merely like toast on vegemite. He loved it. Especially the way I made it when he stopped around the flat in the mornings for breakfast. He loved my hair. He loved my sense of humour. He loved the heroic way I had fought my illness. (Or so he put it.)
So, you can see why I fell in love with him. Despite all of the obvious clues, I had no idea that he was in love with me, until one evening when we were at the uni tavern and he confided that the reason he didn’t have a steady girlfriend (yes, that’s actually when he called it, a steady girlfriend,) was because he had been hurt by a girl. Deeply. The hurt was so deep that he had never been able to fall in love with any of the girls he had dated. He had been in love with the same girl since high school, but she had never even looked twice at him. And if she didn’t start soon, he didn’t know what he would do.
Naturally I thought that he meant Cassie. I even promised to talk to her. Then Morgan took my hand. ‘The girl I am talking about, Kellie-Sue, is you.’
That’s what he said. Even now, the words send a shiver down my spine.
Anyway, suffice to say that the next morning, I was no longer a virgin. Cassie was pissed about that. She kept telling me to break it off with him, but I figured that she was probably jealous. After all, she was used to having Morgan all to herself and then it turned out that he liked me better. Ha.
Morgan was a fun guy to hang around with. One time, we went on a picnic to the botanic gardens and he climbed up the top of this weird sculpture thing and got stuck. Another time when he came to visit me at work, he stood behind the customer service desk and did a wonderful imitation of my boss. And then there was David, Morgan’s disgusting creep of a housemate. David’s favourite pastime was going online and looking for underage girls to exchange sexy messages and photographs with. Morgan would pose online as various girls, just to embarrass and humiliate David. He always vowed that as soon as he had enough evidence, he would take it to the police and have David charged.
Then, over the summer, something changed. I can’t even pinpoint when exactly it happened. Maybe it was when I noticed Morgan checking out other women. Or the first time he was late for a date. Or maybe it was when he commented that I should wear better clothes. But anyway, suddenly, it seemed like I had to try harder and harder to get Morgan’s attention. I changed my clothes, started to wear more make-up. And I never, ever nagged him about where he had been, whom he had been talking to and why he didn’t call. Morgan hated that. And I didn’t want Morgan to hate me. I wanted him to keep on loving me. I wanted things to be good again, like they were in the beginning. Is that really so wrong?
The first time he hit me, I didn’t complain. The first time I caught him kissing another woman, I did not complain. The first time I caught him in bed with another women he fractured my ribs and asked me why I could not take a hint. It was then and only then that the truth became clear. Morgan did not love me. Nor did he love Christina, the girl I caught him with. Or Shannon, the next girl who came along. Or Emma, Mel or Lisa. I watched as he reeled in, chewed up and spat out a number of girls, each one dumber than the last. Every girl was always going to be the last one, or so he’d promise Cassie, who had stanchly remained his best friend through it all. But then within a week, or even just a day, another girl would come along to take her place. When I saw Lisa, the seventeen year old that he had deflowered, sitting on the side of the road, crying for a pregnancy that she had terminated just days before, I knew I had to take action. It took me days, and much deliberation about the rights and wrongs of the situation, but soon, the answer was clear.
Morgan had to die.
It was the only way he would ever stop hurting other people.
And if that makes me a bad person, then so be it.

* * *
The traffic is a bitch today.
In front of me is a blue Pajero. The Pajero has nearly rear ended the bus in front three times now, because each time, the driver has not pressed the brakes soon enough and has been forced to come to a very sharp and very sudden stop. Which may not be a good thing, considering that the road is quite wet at the moment. The rain is really coming down. Pissing cats and dogs, as my dad used to say. I’m not sure if that is an American expression, or an Australian one that he picked up after he moved here.
Meanwhile, Cassie is still busy speaking into her phone. Cassie is so much like our mother it scares me. Even sitting in the car, she has her body perfectly poised and her legs crossed at such an angle that makes them look long, and slim. The boys in the Commodore beside us seem to appreciate this.
‘Yeah, I know, he thinks he’s such a womanizer … The truth is no one with half a brain would go anywhere near him … just look at what he did to my sister … no, the closest thing she’s had to a date lately is talking to that freak who lives next door … yeah, I know, I should stop saying things like that …’
Cassie gives me a condescending smile. I roll my eyes. Talk about me like I’m some kind of freak. That’s okay Cassie.
Cassie ends the call a moment later. ‘Amy hasn’t heard from Morgan either.’
‘Lucky Amy.’
‘Geez you’re a bitch.’
‘Geez, we must be more alike than you think.’
That silences Cassie for a whole three seconds. Then she pulls out her trump card. ‘Except I’d never date Morgan.’
‘No. You just chase after him night and day.’
I still think that Cassie is jealous.
‘Did you find out where Dad is buried?’
‘No.’ The Pajero slams on the brakes again. ‘I couldn’t even find out where he died, when, or what of.’
‘Why don’t you just ask Mum again?’
‘Because she doesn’t like to talk about it.’
That was probably the understatement of the year. Every time I mention my father, Mum starts dabbing the corners of her eyes with a lace hankie and sobs that I must hate her to bring such a terrible subject up. Don’t I know how much pain it causes her? ‘I’ve never known a more selfish person than you, Kellie-Sue.’
Really? I remember the first time Mum came to see me when I was in hospital. She spent the whole time dabbing her eyes with the same lace hankie, while she demanded to know how I could do this to her. And she hardly ever attended the family therapy sessions, leaving Brian to take on the role of parent. Even Cassie visited me in hospital more times than Mum did. Then again, I suppose the fact that I was in hospital gave Cassie the perfect excuse to take time off from school.
Meanwhile, from the back seat, the theme song from The Muppet Show begins to play.
‘Is that your phone?’
Cassie stares at me.
‘Yes, Cassie.’
‘Well I don’t know.’ Cassie sighs again. ‘It’s not like anyone ever phones you.’
For the record, people do telephone me. They’re just people that Cassie considers to be inferior species. Like my friend Ada who colours her hair pink and plays the tuba. Or Tanya who has psoriasis and works on checkouts with Ada and me at Foodmart.
‘No one normal anyway …’
The Muppet Show theme song plays on.
‘Do you want me to get that?’ Cassie leans toward the back seat. I narrowly miss hitting the Pajaro in front of us, yet again.
‘Geez, learn how to drive why don’t you? Now, where the hell is your phone …’ While I crank the windscreen wipers on to full throttle and do my best to stop the Hyundai from sliding all over the road Cassie keeps up a running commentary about her search for my phone. ‘Which pocket is it in … I can hear it Kellie-Sue, but I can’t … Finally ...’ Cassie flops back on the passenger seat, phone in hand. She stares down at the screen. ‘It’s Morgan calling …’
The Hyundai slams into the back of the Pajaro with an almighty crunch.


I’m running.
Run, run, running as fast as I can.
Everything is happening so fast, it is difficult for me to keep up. I remember sneaking inside Cassie’s room. I remember pinching her favourite hoodie, the grey one that is just that bit too snug around the bust. That’s Cassie’s look. Even when it’s too cold for a tank top or boob tube, she will find one way or another to draw attention to her breasts. Consequently, everyone thinks that she’s the twin with the better breasts, despite the fact that we both take the same bra size. Cassie even steals my underwear whenever she’s too lazy to do her laundry. (On the occasions that she actually wears a bra, that is.)
Dressed in Cassie’s hoodie and an old pair of jeans, I leave the flat. I turn into the alley. There’s no one around. Good. I pull the hood up. I keep walking. At the moment, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’ve decided that it’s best if I’m not too easy to recognise.
Morgan lives a little way from us, in a 1970s style brick veneer ex-housing trust place that is more or less typical to the area. His front window has a good view of the rotting old Torana that Mrs Burns and her sons keep in their front yard, along with an old, graffiti covered washing machine. A pair of old sneakers, tied together at the laces hangs on the overhead wires. I wonder who would go to the bother of putting the sneakers up there? Morgan’s former housemate, David, reckons the sneakers mean that they’re selling dope, but that seems pretty unlikely to me. Considering that Mrs Burns spends most of her days wandering around the front yard in just her bra and a pair of tartan shorts, and says, ‘Aye?’ any time that someone tries to talk to her, it seems improbable that she’s got the smarts to be a drug dealer. I shared that theory with David once. He just laughed at me and said that it is her son who is selling the dope. Which is pretty sad if it is true, seeing as her son is only seventeen.
It is quite a long walk from the southern end of Southcoast, where Cassie and I live, up to the northern end, where Morgan’s house is located. I walk most of it along the beach, careful to keep my head down and not talk to anyone. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but I know that its time someone sorted Morgan out for good. I wonder what he’ll do when he opens the door. He’ll probably just smile at me, like he always does and ask me how come I’m not over him yet. And then he’ll try and get me into the bedroom. He always does. We’ll be arguing and then, the next thing I know, his body against mine, his crotch rubbing against my jeans, while he whispers in my ear that he’s missed me and he doesn’t want to fight. I’ll try to resist him, but then, because I’m an idiot, I’ll …
Not this time. This time, I will be strong.
I arrive at Morgan’s house a little after eight. It’s completely dark. The streetlight nearest to Morgan’s house is not working. Good. There is no one hanging around outside the Burns house, though I can see the blue flicker of a television screen through their curtains.
I walk up the cement steps to Morgan’s house. The front door is open and the screen door, unlocked. I remember touching the handle on the screen door and then …
Morgan’s body.
All sorts of grotesque images, all muddled up in my mind. Shouting, blood, Morgan’s body. Blood, Morgan’s body, shouting. Morgan’s body, shouting, blood.
I can’t remember a thing. Just these stupid images.
I find a public telephone a couple of blocks away. I dial triple 0, and tell the operator that a man has been hurt and that an ambulance is reuqired. I give them Morgan’s address. And then I hang up.
I run down to the beach, and straight into the ocean.
The salt water cleans Morgan’s blood from my clothes and my hair.
Even when all the blood is gone, I still feel dirty.

Later. Much Later.

Lots and lots of little noises. Sneakers squeaking against a linoleum floor. A cart being wheeled down the hallway. The wheels on the cart are squealing, crying out for grease. A sharp ping pierces the air as an elevator arrives on our floor.
I do not have to open my eyes to know where I am. The bigger question is how did I get here? What is the last thing I can remember? Something about driving. Driving in the rain. Cassie was there. She had my phone.
A male voice. ‘Kellie-Sue … Kellie-Sue can you hear me?’
Who are you?
There are more noises. And footsteps. The male voice speaks again.
‘She’s waking up.’
I struggle to open my eyelids. For a moment or two, the light is so bright that it almost blinds me. ‘It’s okay.’ A man takes my hand. It takes a little while for the figure to come into focus. He is a tall man, with long and shaggy dark brown hair and a beard. He had tattoos on his arms, a beard that does not suit him and quite an interesting scar on his cheek.
Why on earth is James here?
‘You’re in hospital … its okay Sweetheart, the doctors and nurses are taking good care of you.’
‘It’s okay.’
The expression in his brown eyes is gentle. ‘I’m here … everyone is taking good care of you …’
I try to swallow. My throat is dry. ‘Thir …’
‘Don’t try to speak yet. The doctor will be here soon.’ Suddenly, his head snaps up. He looks at the door. ‘She’s awake.’
‘About time.’
Armed with a clipboard and stethoscope, a middle aged woman walks inside the room. ‘I was wondering when you’d join us, Mrs Smith.’

Later Again

‘My name is Kellie-Sue Jones … No, no, Jones, not Smith. I’m nineteen years old. I’m in my second year of an arts degree, majoring in English. I have a twin sister named Cassie.’
And last night I killed someone, but I don’t dare say anything to the doctor about that.

Best Forgotten by Kathryn White $9.99 via Createspace or Amazon

Copyright © Kathryn White 2012