Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Friday Brown has been sitting on my to-read pile for a little while now--in fact, it was one of the book purchases that I made at Adelaide Writers' Week in early March--which is a bit silly of me, as it turned out to be a fantastic read. An Honour Book in the Children's Book Council of Australia 2013 books for Older Readers, Friday Brown tells the story of a young woman who is grieving for her mother and finds out what life is all about ... the hard way.

After the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Friday runs away from the rich grandfather that she barely knows and finds herself living in a squat with an eclectic bunch of kids, including Silence, a boy who does not talk but who regards her as a kind of kindred spirit. The kids live under the rule of Arden, a young woman who uses her approval and disapproval like currency, and who uses sex (or perhaps sexual attraction,) in a similar manner. Over time, Arden and the headstrong Friday begin to clash more and more. The author raises a lot of questions about free will, standing up for oneself and the ties that bind us to other people. And another thing ... once you've read the book, you'll discover just how frightening that picture on the front cover actually is ...

Recommended for lovers of Australian novels and YA fiction. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Writers on Wednesday: J.C. Phelps

Once again, it's time for Writers on Wednesday. This week, I'm chatting with the brilliant J.C. Phelps, author of the Alexis Stanton Chronicles ...

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a mother of three girls between the ages of fourteen and four.  My home life is very busy, but I have a wonderful husband who supports me in everything I do.  Ive been writing since I was very young but The Alexis Stanton Chronicles are the first books Ive published.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My most recently published book is Traces of Grey.  Its the fourth book in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles and was released in November of 2014.  Its a bit darker than the rest of the series because Ms. Grey is past her training and taking on more and more serious jobs.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

Ive written for newspapers and online sites, but nothing compared to holding my very first novel in my hands.  It was exciting and scary.  Im self published and actually did the entire job on my own.  I wrote the books, created the covers and back blurbs, and then I even printed and bound the books for a time. That is an even more satisfying feeling than just holding a book some other company printed up for me.  I actually created my books from beginning to end.

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

My proudest achievement has to be my family bragging about their author sister, daughter, wife, or mother.  Having the family be proud of what I do is the best.

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

Im currently working on #5 in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles as well as being contracted to write up a very interesting true story.  Depending on how the research pans out, the contracted book will be either a memoir or possibly true crime. 

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

I dont have an actual preference as far as book format goes.  I love all books.  However, I havent picked up a paper book for quite a while.  I do tend to love reading on my eReaders (Kindle and iPad).  The eBooks are easier to carry around and I use the TTS (Text To Speech) feature a lot.  This allows me to read and do other things around the house.  I find I read a lot of audio books these days.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I chose the indie route.  It made more business sense to me as a new author.  Im not at all disappointed with my decision. 

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

I never liked required reading. I always preferred to pick my own books. I know there are plenty of books out there I should read, but havent yet.  But, if I could only recommend one book to my girls, Id pick The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.  The Hobbit has definite lines as far as right and wrong are concerned, yet the book still has plenty of room for their imaginations.

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

The one thing I can think of to say to all my readers, those in Adelaide as well as all the others is:  Thank you for giving my books a chance.  I sincerely hope you enjoyed the stories.


Barnes & Noble author page -

The first book in the series, Color Me Grey, is available for free at all outlets:


Twitter:  @jeaniep3

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Dancing on Knives by Kate Forsyth

There are times when, by some kind of quirk or twist of fate, exactly the right book can be delivered into my hands at exactly the right time. And that is what happened when, searching for another book entirely,* I stumbled upon a copy of Kate Forsyth's Dancing on Knives. Although I follow the author on facebook, I had no idea that she was releasing a new book and have been more familiar with her fantasy novels and books that go behind the scenes of various fairytales or that retell them such as The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens. Anyway, I happily snatched a copy of Dancing on Knives up and began reading it over lunch. And maybe it is just because I am writer who has been struggling a bit with her craft, but I found the note from the author at the front explaining the novel's long journey to publication (actually, republication, as the novel was previously published in 2003 under the author's maiden name and under the title of Full Fathom Five,) to be quite inspiring and offered me a much needed reminder about not giving up. 

Anyway, positive messages found in notes from the author aside, I found myself completely and utterly drawn in to the story of Sara, a young woman who has not left her family home for five years. The title comes from Sara's favourite fairy tale--The Little Mermaid--and describes how she feels about herself. Sara's family situation is quite difficult. Her mother died when she was still a child, and her father is an eccentric and ultimately selfish artist who married his mistress shortly after the death of his wife. It's pretty obvious that Augusto Sanchez is oblivious to the emotional needs of those around him. Rounding out the family is older brother Joe, slightly irresponsible twins Dominic and Dylan and naughty, mischief making half-sister Teresa. When Augusto is found hanging from the edge of a cliff, the question is soon raised in Sara's mind whether it was an accident or if he has met with foul play. Plenty of characters have reason to have killed him--particularly those from the family of Sara's mother and his own children.

The mystery of Augusto's killer aside, Dancing on Knives is also an absorbing coming-of-age tale. It is interesting to see how Sara copes with her self-imposed imprisonment (she suffers panic attacks whenever she leaves the house,) and how the events unfold, allowing her to gain an newfound maturity and strength. There is a bit of romance in the story, thanks to farmhand Matt, and I think that element will having strong appeal with young, female readers. Parts of the ending feel a little too optimistic, but the ending is a satisfying one, regardless. Highly recommended.   

*In an even stranger twist to my little story, that book I was searching for was Lost and Found by Brooke Davis. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

I snapped this one a couple of weeks ago, at the corner of King William and Hindley Streets. It is part of a project by artist Peter Drew, who recently visited a number of detention centres around Australia and spoke with asylum seekers about their experiences--this one depicts a happy childhood memory, though many other posters depict a far unhappier memories and experiences.  

Another aspect that makes these pictures so intriguing is that Drew placed them up without asking permission from the Adelaide City Council--they simply appeared in challenge and inspire. I'll be interested to see how long they remain. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Review: Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

Lost and Found is a sweet and surprising novel that revolves around love and loss, three unlikely characters and an unplanned road trip (of sorts). Millie Bird is seven years old and has been abandoned by her grieving mother at the local shopping centre. Karl the Touch Typist is an escapee from the local old folks home. Agatha Pantha is a widow who has not left her house in several years. Slowly, their lives intersect and the three work together to try and reunite Millie with her mother--creating a number of misunderstandings with the many people that they meet along the way. I loved the scenes set aboard the Indian Pacific. 

After reading so much hype about this novel, I was both curious and apprehensive to know what it was really like. Fortunately, I was not at all disappointed. Debut author Brooke Davis offers some remarkable insights in to the human condition and into love and loss. I found some of her decisions, such as the two elderly characters becoming sexually attracted to one another to be brave and added to a compelling narrative. I also loved the way she shaped her characters and their obsessions with particular things--Karl with typing, Millie with her book of dead things and Agatha with time and routine. It is wonderful to watch each of the characters help one another and for the unlikely friendships to develop. Recommended. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Slowpoke Rodriguez to Open Pizza Delivery Restaurant

HOLLYWOOD--Slowpoke Rodriguez, famous for playing the part of "the slowest mouse in all Mexico" in a number of Looney Tunes animated shorts, is set to own and operate a new pizza delivery restaurant. "It's an exciting new venture for me," he told one of our reporters after arriving three hours late for the scheduled interview. "Being a cartoon television star is, quite frankly, too exhausting for me, as is having to spend my days repeatedly being chased by Sylvester the Cat, while my cousin, Speedy Gonzales, attempts to use his superior speed to come to my rescue, only for it all to be revealed at the end that I own a gun and possess a superior intellect than your average animated cat. I'm tired of being on the receiving end of all these jokes about being lazy, so I've decided to try this new business venture. I'll be delivering the pizza's personally, which should be an exciting experience for all of my fans."

Slowpoke Pizza's come with a service guarantee of being delivered within the first thirty days after ordering or they are free. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday Funnies: Never Fall in Love With a Musician

Poor Lucy. She just can't take the hint ... Never mind. I suspect that we've all been there and done that, once.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review: Rich Kids of Instagram by Anonymous with Maya Sloan

It is not very often that I open a parcel containing a book and immediately burst out laughing (joyfully, I may add,) but that is exactly what happened when I opened the packaging containing this surprising story of fame, youth and excess. At that point, I had yet to discover the tumblr on which the book is based so it was a bit of a surprise to discover a book of that title, and with a cover that depicts a line of cocaine on a US $100 bill. Anyway, Rich Kids of Instagram is a fairly lightweight but amusing story that depicts the intersecting lives of several young people, all of whom have an excessive amount of wealth and very few of whom have any kind of conscience whatsoever. Or much of a grip on reality, in some cases. The descriptions of some of the parties, homes and a very unusual kitten-themed restaurant are extremely amusing, as is a certain notable characters revenge on the others at the very end. This one is difficult to describe in detail as the plot is very thin in places and to say too much about what happens may lead to giving away clues to what was for me, a clever and satisfying ending. I quite liked the enigma that is Todd Evergreen, though many of his peers were quite annoying and difficult to like (which is, I suspect, that is the point). Or to put it another way, every character in the book is an arsehole, but that is kind of what makes it fun. You don't want to be these people. You want to laugh at them.

If you get a chance, I also highly recommend visiting the tumblr and having a good laugh at the world of material excess--the site is made up of a selection of indulgent pictures sourced from various places around the web. If you don't have time for that, this piece in the Daily Mail is a smaller, though still delicious taste. 

I suspect that Rich Kids of Instagram is not a book that is going to please a wide variety of readers, but I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something lightweight, amusing and a little bit different.

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

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Susan Horsnell

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week, I am chatting with Susan Horsnell, author of a some wonderful romance novels, including the very sexy Capturing Charlie ...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I grew up in Sydney, the eldest of 5 children. My parents immigrated to Australia from England in 1952 as £10 poms. Dad had met an Aussie when he was with the British Army in Kenya and decided Australia was where he wanted to raise his family.
I was a Nurse for 35 years, a good career considering I am married to a Naval Officer and we have frequently moved around. It wasn’t difficult to find work in each city.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My most recent publication is Capturing Charlie. A western romance set in the 1800s in Texas. Yep, an Aussie who writes stories set in Texas. Charlie has been scorned by one too many women and takes off to begin anew. He dreams of owning a ranch and being surrounded by critters, alone. Until he meets Josephine’s Grandmother at the wrong end of a bullet. As Josephine nurses him back to health, he finds she has not only restored his body to health, but also his heart.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

The first book published was The Glenmore’s: Revenge. The first book of four in my series. I was so proud of it and when I sold the first copy and then received a five star review I was excited and humbled.

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

My proudest achievement was when Blind Acceptance was awarded a 4 1/2 * review and a Crowned Heart Award for Excellence by Ind’Tale Magazine. It was then nominated for a Rone award.

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

I am co-writing a steamy romance set during the Vietnam War. It involves an Australian Nurse, (using my experiences), a Musician, a Marine – badly injured in Vietnam and a wealthy Hippie. It’s a great story. My co-writer is brilliant.

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

I love both. EBooks because when we travel I can load heaps of books onto it and I’m not weighed down. Paperbacks, because there is nothing like the feel and smell of a ‘real’ book.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Definitely Indie. I can do almost everything a publisher can, I have total control and I collect ALL the royalties.

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

Gone With The Wind. An absolute masterpiece in my opinion.

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

I have visited, and lived, during my husbands’ posting, in Adelaide. Ah, Rundle Mall, shopping, churches and the exquisite beauty of the Adelaide Hills. We holidayed there a year ago. Friendly people. Please give my books a read. I really hope you enjoy them.

(I'm very much looking forward to your upcoming title, Susan ~ Kathryn.)


Website where my books can be purchased:


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How to Write Book Reviews

Ever wanted to know how to write a good book review? This handy guide is all you need ...

1. Your review should not focus on what the author set out to do when he or she wrote the book and what story they wanted to tell. Focus instead, on what you wish the author had done. Pissed off that Nora left her husband at the end of A Dolls House instead of suggesting to Torvald that they take up a BDSM lifestyle? Call that home wrecker Herik Ibsen out on his shit. 

2. Do not allow the reader to get their own taste of the book by using any extended quotes. Instead, tell them that it was TERRIBLE. (But add that you wanted to like it so that you don't sound like a bad person or that you only write reviews like this for their puerile entertainment value.) Use block capitals and numerous punctuation points to emphasise your point. Consider using half a dozen or so .gifs showing teenage actors, animated characters and animals doing stupid things to further emphasise your displeasure. Also, be sure to prove yourself as a literary genius by noting that you read almost half of Wuthering Heights last spring and by pointing out somewhere in the book that there should have been a semi-colon where a comma is placed. Do not worry if your review contains typos. That fact is irrelevant. Your only concern is the perceived, or perhaps dramatised, failings of others.  

3. Do not quote the author. Just allow everyone to take your word for it that the prose was bad and filled with errors. 

4. Focus on the small and less important details of the story. For example, if you're shocked and disappointed that the nurse in chapter six said a swear word whilst off duty--because you know that swearing is really bad and you don't want to read about it--tell us all about it and share your anger in explicit detail. Accuse the author of having a foul mouth. All the better if you can find a scene where a totally different character expresses their dislike of swearing. Then you can accuse the author of being a hypocrite or state that they are sending mixed messages. Try to add at least several WTFs and a couple more gifs. It is also important that you insert your personal set of values into the review as much as possible. It is recommended that you misread or misunderstand several key pieces so that you may complain about how bad they are in your review. Try also, not to learn or discover anything new or be challenged in any possible way by reading the book. After all, the last thing you want is to be educated or to develop empathy for the characters because, unlike you, the characters may have some flaws or strange obsessions that they work on throughout the course of the narrative. 

5. As you have now judged the book as being totally deficient cite examples of activities that you would rather do instead of reading it--such as sticking your head in a blender, swallowing an entire packet of razor blades or supergluing your anus shut and then eating an entire packet of laxatives. Make no effort whatsoever to try and understand what you did not like about the book and why it failed to inspire you. That, after all, is the fault of the author. (Who deserves to be shot and their family billed for the bullet. After all, it is a crime that this book that you got for free and are in no way obligated to keep reading or to review did not meet your expectations.)

In addition to these five rules, consider adding a sixth. Accept, as often as possible, books for review that you know there is no fucking way that you would enjoy reading so that you can complain about them afterward. And instead of putting them down if you do not enjoy them, be sure to force yourself to read every last page so that you can complain about that as well. Also never, ever pay for any of the books that you are reviewing. Go to sites like netgalley and just randomly click on a few titles (don't bother to look up the genre or description, unless you are intending to misread them) until you find a publisher who is stupid enough to approve a copy for you. Be sure to add in your review that you are glad that you did not have to pay money for this particular book. Also consider yourself to be the ultimate expert in what good literature should be and tell everyone that at every possible opportunity. Be a spokesperson for readers in your favourite genres. Berate the author as much as possible, put him or her firmly in their place as often as you can. Try to create a reputation for the book and its author, regardless of how inaccurate that reputation may be ...

Disclaimer: This list is a satire of John Updike's brilliant list of six rules for book reviewing, which can be read here.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Over the past few months, I have seen these gorgeous chalk smiley faces on a number of pavements around Adelaide. The first time I saw them was outside the Central Markets. Then I saw them in Victoria Square. Then I noticed some on the corner of Hindley and King William Streets, more on Rundle Street, some outside of the Adelaide Railway station and ... well you get the idea. Let me know if you have seen any of these smiley faces around Adelaide, (or any other city,) where and if you know who is responsible. (Or if you have a theory ...) I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Teenager Saves Entire Nation From Corrupt Goverment

A sixteen-year-old girl has managed to overthrow a corrupt government today, with a small amount of help from her best friend, a couple of quirky adults and Steele a broody and disenchanted young man who is actually quite attractive once you get to know him. Angelica Simmons, better known to her band of impeccably fit comrades as 'Angel' or 'The Avenging Angel' was once a typical teenager living in a futuristic version of a city that shared many geographical similarities to one famous city or another in the United States. The entire city had been walled and the only mode of transportation available was rail, which may help to explain why many of the residents of the city did not question some of the stranger goings on in their hometown--such as why no two teenagers had ever fallen in love before Angelica met Steele and had complacently followed the government's odd mate selection process.  

Angelica's rise to overthrowing the government came after she and Steele met on a stairwell inside an old, abandoned building. Steele was there simply because he enjoyed the thrill of riding down the elevator shaft; Angelica was there because although she was supposed to be on the way to the special ceremony that would officially betroth her to Lukas, the spoiled and nasty son of a government official, Angelica was feeling quite nervous about the betrothal and decided to run away, despite having never done anything like that before during her short life. After a brief altercation with Steele, Angelica was convinced to ride down the elevator shaft, despite having never done that before in her life either. At the bottom of the shaft, they discovered some poetic graffiti, which they eventually learned was the lyrics to Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply. This song (which was banned in their nation,) would later become the catalyst for their relationship, as would a number of high risk and unnecessary recreational activities such as riding in disused elevator shafts.

Although the exact nature of the corrupt dealings of their totalitarian government remain unclear but for the fact that they did not wish teenagers to fall in love, all of the corrupt politicians are now dead and Angelica and Steele have been installed as the new and unquestioned rulers. Their policies include allowing all teenagers to fall in love and to remove elevators from all high rise buildings ...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Funnies: Clean All the Things

Clean all the things is an image from Allie Brosh's clever blog Hyperbole and a Half. The picture was part of a narrative on the struggles the author had with her daily, adult responsibilities and was later included inside her book, also titled Hyperbole and a Half. What is remarkable about this one is the number of times this image has been altered and circulated across the internet. Here are a few of the more surprising entries:

And this little gem:

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Review: Misbehaving by Abbi Glines

It is difficult not to love Abbi Glines. At times, I can be a bit meh about NA romance, but I have an amazing about of respect for this author and her career. Glines not only knows and understands her target audience well, but she has done seemingly the impossible, moving smoothly and swiftly from independently published author to a best selling author with an astounding number of titles under her belt. Misbehaving is the latest Abbi Glines title to be released in Australia and forms the sixth novel in the Sea Breeze series. It is the first novel I have read in the series and I have to agree with the promotional material on the front cover that this is a scorching novel.) 

Misbehaving tells the story of Jess who is not only the bad girl in the community of Sea Breeze, but who is also badly misunderstood--and through the narrative, we soon learn why. As the novel opens, we learn that she is twenty years old and was raised by her single mother who works as a stripper at a crudely named bar. We also learn that Jess's boyfriend has been cheating on her and she has decided to teach him a very well deserved lesson, which goes wrong. Or as Jess puts it:
The sound of feet hitting the pavement let me know I was being chased. Well, shit. Not what I needed. I was having so much fun. Hank deserved that. He did. He was a rat bastard. I did not want to go to jail over this. Plus my momma would be pissed (p.4).

And then a comic twist in events lead Jess to Jason, a young man who is grappling under the shadow of his rock star brother. 

Shifting perspectives back and forward between Jason and Jess, the novel tells the story of their rocky, but sexy relationship and their personal struggles. As I have not read the other novels in the series, it was a bit difficult to keep up with some of the stories about other characters who obviously form an important part of the series, but this did not distract from the story. There was a bit of a time jump partway through the novel which was a little annoying.  Misbehaving is a quick, escapist read and it's images of sun and romance were a perfect distraction on a cold winter afternoon. Recommended for those moments when you just want to take some time out.

Finally, a big shout out and thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Hettie Ashwin

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I'm chatting with the very awesome Hettie Ashwin, who lives on a boat in northern Queensland and is author of seven novels, including suspense novel The Mask of Deceit...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I have downsized my tupperware and live on a boat in Far North Queensland. Our yacht "Dikera" has been my home for 8 years as we (husband and I) sail around the Queensland coast. We are planning on doing the world trip thing starting next year via Indonesia. As we sail, I write. I have always been a stationary tragic  (read, pens, paper, fancy envelopes etc) and began writing in earnest 11 years ago. Besides novels, I write for boating magazines, short story mags online and in print. I also like the medium of radio and have written several audio pieces which have been broadcast.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

This is Mr Tripp buys a Lifestyle. It is a novel which incorporates the mishaps of our sailing adventures and other embarrassing stories people have told us in our travels. It is full of humour and LOL moments. I have had a really good response from people who have purchased the book who say it is a fun read. It is loosely styled on an old movie called "Mr Blandings builds his dream house" a particular favourite of mine. They say write what you know and I sure know about embarrassing moments on the boat.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

I had a funny piece published in a work newsletter at a private hospital I was working for in Townsville. It was about how to negotiate the tea room idle gossip and was a hit with the readers. Now I write a humour column for the local newspaper--Port Douglas and Mossman Gazzette--called Slippery Grip. 'slippery grip is for fun and for those whose grip is slipping'.

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

That is easy. Getting 7 novels out there for people to buy and read and enjoy. I am an entertainer and to see readers actively enjoying my work is so satisfying. I have won competitions etc, but having a body of work is great. To see them being bought, downloaded and read is what it is all about for me.

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

I am working on a Rom Com. 'Romantic Comedy' called Barney's Test. Romance is a new field for me, but humour is my forte. I love trying to get all the elements of a good story coming together with the payoff of the joke. My humour is very much slice of life, Doh moments. I study people and their foibles and work that into a plot.

Synopsis: When Barney Vokes comes up to bat in the game of love he finds that there are a few googlies coming his way. Two women, a bit of miscommunication and a chance to play with the Australian Cricket team in a charity match all have Barney on the hop. When Barney wins a competition to play a charity match, he finds he really has talent. His love life blooms as his notoriety skyrockets, but there are a few lessons to learn along the way. Humility, hubris and hand/eye co-ordination all play a part in being the man of the match. What he thinks he wants, what he really wants and what he eventually gets sees Barney, the hopeless romantic, discover that love is a bit more complicated than cricket.

It is half way complete at this stage with all the chapters plotted. The writing or filling in the gaps, is the fun part. I am also working/researching a literary novel "A Slow Catastrophe" about a bushfire and a missing child in 1910 Murray Bridge. This is a novel about how one event can have far reaching consequences and bruise a life, a town, forever.

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

I use both so I don't really have a preference. If the book is a tome of 600 pages then an e book is great cause you don't get sore wrists in bed to hold the thing up. But living on a boat having something without batteries that doesn't need charging is a bonus. We have solar and wind power, but sometimes on a windless, cloudy day a real book is the only way to go. I won 37 new books from a competition recently and so I have reading matter for a while yet. I also keep track of specials on the IBook etc and download when they are cheap. The best of both worlds I reckon.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I have both and really there is no difference. I still am required to promote my work, make sure the proof is good to go and give input for the cover. In fact I did all my covers except one. Having self published 4 of my titles the money from the sales is good as you don't share the proceeds with a publisher, book shop etc, but having said that, sometimes the public like to know a publishing house thought enough of your work to back it. Barney's choice will go though the query process, but now I only give it about 50 shots before I just do it myself and get it out there to sell. I figure there is still time for it to get picked up when it is on the hustings. It happens!

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

Life is so Good by George Dawson. What a man. He learned to read and write in his 90's. His was a story of discovery and gladdens the heart to know there are people in the world like that. Such a nice man. We all could learn from his tolerance and understanding and goodness. I sound gushy, but I have bought this book for many people and they all say the same. Worth a read.

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

As I sell my books in the markets and meet my readers every week, I know there are people out there who like a good book and love to read. Whether it is mine or someone else's, the act of reading is the thing that carries us forward. Read a book, any book and discover something, enjoy the moment, share the story and marvel at imagination.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes

What if Adolf Hitler suddenly appeared in 21st century Berlin? That's the premise of this cheeky novel by Timur Vermes which soon became a bestseller in its home country, before being translated into English and proving itself to be quite the hit here as well. In Look Who's Back, the author takes quite a few jabs at political correctness, while it details Hitler's rise to popularity again, this time as a "comedian" who soon becomes a sensation on television and YouTube for his uncompromising, hit hitting views.

It is difficult to for me to form a firm opinion on this book. On the one hand, as a dark comedy that takes a stab at political correctness and as something that moves past the legend to examine who Adolf Hitler may have been as a person--flawed, uncompromising and surprisingly charismatic--it does rather well. There are also some interesting questions raised about politics, human nature and how many people can be so easily swayed.

On the other hand, it does not adequately address many of the horrific things that occurred during World War Two such as the happenings at Auschwitz concentration camp. Or maybe that is the point. To allow the reader to laugh along with the protagonist and not think about the tainted past that lurks in the background. In any case, as satire this one works rather well.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Volkswagen Flower Pot

Another relic from 2011, this Volkswagen Beetle was converted into a flower pot as part of the Adelaide City Council's Splash campaign, designed to draw people in to the city. Sadly, the Volkswagen's were a short lived feature--they did not survive an attack from vandals, but it was fun while it lasted. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Press Release: Yes, Chef! by Lisa Joy

It's always a bit exciting when there's a book coming out that you want to read and the author contacts you personally asks if you will feature it on your site. And that, is exactly what happened to me during the week when Lisa Joy, author of the upcoming romantic comedy Yes, Chef! messaged me via facebook. Anyway, here's a bit of information about Yes, Chef! which will be released tomorrow under Penguin's Destiny imprint:

Becca Stone is disillusioned by her tedious and thankless job taking reservations in one of London's most successful restaurant empires. When she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef, Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.

Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love life seemingly takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with reality.

When Damien reveals his real personality Becca is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances. It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realise she may have thrown aside what is most important to her.

Inspired by real-life adventures, this deliciously funny and romantic story reveals a tantalizing glimpse of the trendy restaurant scene: a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn't all that goes on in the kitchen.

About the author: 

Lisa Joy began writing stories in her teenage years but most of her free time was taken up in ballet classes. At age 21, foodie Lisa decide she wasn't cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, and travelled to London, where she worked as a television producer's PA, in fashion retail and the restaurant business. Lisa fell head over heels in love with London where she lived for 7 years, travelling Europe, eating amazing food and the occasional stint on stage and screen. Upon returning to Australia her writing took a dramatic turn for the better after she attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh. Lisa now lives in the picturesque Dandenong ranges outside Melbourne on a vegetable farm with her fiancé and four chooks. And yes, she is PA to a celebrated chef who is absolutely nothing like Damien.

Yes, Chef! by Lisa Joy RRP $4.99 Destiny Romance

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: An Abundance of Katherine's by John Green

Seventeen-year-old Colin Singleton has a problem. Nineteen of them in fact. He keeps falling for girls named Katherine. And he keeps getting dumped. And now he wants to know why. That's the premise of this clever, YA literary novel by John Green, author of the massively-popular-right-now The Fault in Our Stars which I read and reviewed on this blog a few weeks ago. And although The Fault in Our Stars may have required a bit more emotional involvement from readers, there is a lot to enjoy in this quirky tale that comes complete with footnotes, an appendix and a lot of clever usage of anagrams. (And for the record, I didn't just love this one because it has my name--sort of--in the title.)

Colin is a fairly annoying, inward thinking kid who takes a lot of things literally and tends to invest a bit too much emotionally in people. Colin's been hailed as a child prodigy through most of his life, but he is only just beginning to discover that he is a bit well, socially inept. Fortunately, his best mate, the Judge Judy loving Hassan, is on hand to try and pull him back into reality. And when Colin is dumped by the nineteenth girl named Katherine, Hassan proposes that Colin do something different for the summer--the pair go on a road trip. They soon find themselves working in a small town where the main industry is (amusingly) making strings for tampons and in the company of Lindsey Lee Wells, a girl who isn't Colin's type and is dating someone else--who just also happens to be named Colin--anyway. Lindsey helps Colin work on a mathematical theory as to why he keeps getting dumped by girls named Katherine and Colin makes some surprising, but important discoveries about life, loyalty and what really matters.

While by no means a page-turner, I loved An Abundance of Katherines for its cleverness and focus on two very unlikely and not always likeable characters. Green's talent is his ability to write convincing narratives featuring young people who are academically advanced and the unique struggles that they may face. Recommended.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Friday Funnies: The Evolution of Garfield

I rarely share Garfield memes on here, on account of most of them either not being funny, or being dirty jokes made by disenchanted former fans, but I thought this one was pretty cool. Who would have thought the greedy tabby has actually been losing weight all these years? 

PS The chronology on here is slightly inaccurate. Garfield's eyes became oval in 1984, the same year that he first stood on his hind legs. The picture attributed to 1984 is how Garfield appeared in 1979; the picture attributed to 1988 is how he appeared in 1980; the picture attributed to 1992 is how he looked in 1985. All other years/depictions are accurate.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Commuter Shocked to Discover "Not In Service" is Not an Actual Suburb

A bus signed NOT IN SERVICE
turns from Jetty Road Glenelg
into Colley Tce
GLENELG, SOUTH AUSTRALIA--Local resident and regular patron on AdelaideMetro's extensive bus network, Mrs Mabel Hall, was disappointed earlier this week when she discovered NOT IN SERVICE was not, in fact, an actual suburb of Adelaide. "I just cannot understand it," Mrs Hall told one of our reporters in an exclusive interview. "I see buses going there all the time."

Mrs Hall's obsession with discovering the locality of NOT IN SERVICE began a week or so ago, when waiting at the bus stop in Moseley Street for the route 300 which services the stop at 30 minute intervals during the day, taking her from the popular precinct back to her home at the Lazy Breeze Retirement Village on Diagonal Road. The 300 service (which runs through a complicated circuit through Adelaide's inner suburbs that takes more than two and a half hours to complete,) on the morning in question was running approximately four minutes late. Which, according to Mrs Hill, was not good enough. "In the meantime, I saw at least half a dozen buses drive past my stop that said they were going to NOT IN SERVICE. And, just to add insult to injury, there was no one on there too, apart from the driver. When the 300 finally turned up, I had to ride with a woman with two screaming kids, someone on one of those awful mobility scooters that took forever getting on and off the bus and the man sitting in the seat behind me had the nerve to ask me for the time. I decided then and there that NOT IN SERVICE would be an ideal place for me to go and live, seeing as the public transport to that area is so good."

Upon making this decision, Mrs Hall approached several real estate agents and enquired about properties that were for sale or available to rent in the locality of NOT IN SERVICE only to be told that no such suburb existed. "I thought they were all pulling my leg and just wanted to sell off properties in crummier suburbs for more than they were worth, so I tried to find it for myself on a map." When Mrs Hall was unable to find such a locality within the pages of her UBD Street Directory, she started to become quite confused. "I was starting to wonder if the suburb simply did not exist, or if it was printed in the half of the street directory that my ex-husband got after the divorce," she sighs. Fortunately, however, when Mrs Hall visited the Moseley Street bus stop again, an answer was at hand. "All the NOT IN SERVICE buses were going past again. I remarked about it to a nice young man who was waiting at the stop with me. And he explained that NOT IN SERVICE was simply the sign that all the drivers put on the front of their bus when they had finished their run and were driving back to the bus depo. Who would have thought ..."

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Thank You

It's that time again when I have just packed up a number of book that have been recently reviewed on this book, allocating them a spot in the ever-growing library inside my spare room. Each has a sticky note attached, documenting on what day the book was reviewed and whether the book was purchased by me, won in a competition, supplied by a publisher or a book related site or the most precious kind of all, gifted to me from an author in the hope of receiving a review. And then I started thinking about this site and I decided that it was high time that I said something important:

Thank you. To everyone who contributes in some small way to help make this blog great. (At least, in my opinion the blog is great. The rest of you may beg to differ on that one.) But seriously, thank you. To all the people who have sent me books for review, thank you. To all the writers who have participated in, and wowed me with their answers for the Writers on Wednesday feature, thank you. To those of you who I know in real life who keep coming up with tips and suggestions for the Around Adelaide: Street Art feature, thank you. To all of the authors who have written to me and thanked me for my review, thank you. To everyone who takes the time to comment on the posts, thank you. To all the great cartoonists and comedians who are showcased in the Friday Funnies feature, thank you. To anyone who has shared a link or a post from this blog, thank you. And to anyone I may have missed, or to those of you who are reading this, thank you. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Imagine a world where you would be cosmetically recreated to look beautiful on your sixteenth birthday. That is the premise of Scott Westerfield's series for teens, Uglies. The first instalment in the series follows heroine Tally Youngblood as she waits for her sixteenth birthday so that she may be turned pretty and reunited with her friends who are all a few months older. A surprise twist comes in the form of a new friend, Shay, who is not interested in turning pretty and runs away. Tally is then issued with an ultimatum from the police. Find her friend and turn her in, or never become pretty and spend her life as an outcast ...

I found Uglies to be a pleasant and often page turning read. There were a number of twists and turns that I was not expecting and it dealt with themes of change, identity, relationships and loyalty in ways that were unexpected but still quite believable. I felt that Tally's character could have been fleshed out a lot more--she came across as very bland in places and I had a much easier time warming to her headstrong friend Shay. That said, this one is a lot of fun for young and not-so-young readers alike.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Bus Shelter Pulteney Street, Adelaide

This photograph dates back to 2011, but I've always had a soft spot for this clever advertising campaign from a popular credit union.  They moved the usual seat out of a bus shelter and replaced it with several alternative choices. The old seat was eventually returned to the bus shelter, which makes me wonder what happened to these ones ...