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

Monday, 12 November 2012

Garfield and Mondays

Found this awesome image, and I just had to share. Like my favourite tubby tabby, I've never been much of a fan of Mondays and often regard the day as a shadow closing in on me. My own fear/hatred of Mondays harks all the way back to my primary school days, when I used feel physically sick as I walked inside the classroom, wondering what run-ins I'd have with that dreadful Mrs Pettingill this week. (Damn her for confiscating my special Garfield and Odie lead pencil that had the pink eraser on top. Oh well, at least I had the good sense to steal it back.) 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Daria sooo edgy (clip)

Just had to share another of my favourite Daria clips. As always, I love the truth in her words.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Review: Daughter of Darkness by VC Andrews

With the new VC Andrews novel Daughter of Light being released in Australia later this week I thought that now was a fitting time to review its prequel, Daughter of Darkness which was released in late 2010. Daughter of Darkness was the first V.C. Andrews novel to stray from the gothic fairytale (or Sci-Fi, if one is to count Gods of Green Mountain) theme and venture into the paranormal. And this all happened perhaps not-so-coincidentally after the release and fanfare of Twilight. And like all novels baring the V.C. Andrews name, it had an interesting concept. Three adopted daughters, all raised to find and trap bait for their adoptive father, who just happens to be a vampire. Unfortunately, all the usual plot-holes of the modern V.C. Andrews novels (think people chanting impishly, bratty/bitchy siblings who detract rather than add to the plot, weirdos with skewed sexual morals and a lack of understanding of female behaviour and conversation,) get in the way. The novel itself tells the story of Lorelei, a young woman who falls in love with the guy she is supposed to bring home as bait for her adoptive father, and shows this young woman having enough moral fiber to question the values she has been raised with and to stand up to her adoptive father. And then comes one of the most ridiculous plot twists I have ever seen in fiction.

And I mean ridiculous.

Some authors have enough skill to get away with all kinds of great plot twists. I mean who didn't love that bit in Yan Martel's Life of Pi where the tiger simply disappears and it leaves the reader to question whether the tiger did or did not exist, if no one but Pi ever saw it. That is a great and clever twist. Or in Sophie's World where one gets to the halfway point and then the author reveals that this has all been a story written for another little girl who then becomes the heroine of the novel. Those kinds of plot twists take brains and talent. The early V.C. Andrew novels (i.e. the ones written by the real V.C. Andrews,) had some great twists as well. I still remember the moment when I discovered that the parents of the children in Flowers in the Attic were actually brother and sister. Or that moment when it was revealed that the First and Best Audrina and the Second and Worst Audrina were one and the same person.

The plot twist in Daughter of Darkness is just silly. And wrong. (Oh and massive spoiler alert here. Massive. No. Seriously. Consider yourself warned.)

When Lorelei returns to the orphanage where she was adopted, she discovers that the orphanage is actually home to several of her adoptive father's wives. And more than that, Lorelei's mother lives among them. Sergio Patio, the bad vampire is Lorelei's biological father. And if that wasn't quite enough to make the skin of even the most unsentimental reader's skin crawl, the worst is yet to come. All of Sergio's wives are his daughters. And, as his daughter, Lorelei will also be expected to marry Sergio. And from there, the book just keeps on getting sillier.

Daughter of Darkness, I suspect, will never be a favourite among fans. And nor should it be. With unbelievable concepts and shock value plot twists that do not make sense, it's unlikely that this book would have ever made it to print, had it been written by a new or unknown author. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

It is time once again for Feature and Follow Friday. Hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkie's View, this awesome meme is designed to help us like-minded bloggers connect and talk about our favourite things--books and reading! This week's all-important question is:

Q: What is a deal breaker for you in a book? For example, do you abhor love triangles? Or can't deal with bad editing?

Hmm. Bad editing definitely annoys me, but if it's a great plot I'm willing to overlook it. A well-written love triangle can be a good thing, but I dislike it when the author includes one when that particular subplot isn't necessary. (I always felt the love triangle in The Hunger Games was a little unnecessary, for example. Come on, honestly what did Gale even bring to the plot, except to prove how bitter and twisted some people can be. And he had sixteen years to develop a relationship with Katniss.) Anyway, to actually answer the question, one thing that gets under my skin is any kind of sex, violence or swearing that is done for shock value and doesn't contribute greatly to the plot. The Casual Vacancy is one example of this, where the same point could have been made with much of the swearing omitted.