Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Review: Out of the Ice by Ann Turner

Out of the Ice was a novel that gave me chills--literally--not just for its haunting, eerie plot but for the sense of location. Laura Alvarado is an environmental scientist in her late thirties who is sent to examine an abandoned former whaling station in a remote island of Antarctica. Something feels off about the place almost immediately--the rudeness of some of her colleagues and the fact that the station does not feel quite as abandoned, or as untouched as it should. The local wildlife seem hostile, and Laura is not so sure that a penguin she has uncovered died from natural causes. When a diving trip reveals far more than what Laura--or anyone else--could ever imagine though, it soon becomes clear that something terrible is happening on the island and it needs to be stopped.

This book was a quick and gripping read for me. I very much enjoyed the setting. Some of the plot twists felt a little too quick and convenient at times, but this was more than made up for by the sense of location and the way that Laura grew and developed as a character. (For me, Laura took a little getting used to, but by the end of the novel I was most definitely on her side.) And obviously, what is going on the island is neither nice, nor pretty, but it did make me stop and wonder what if something like this could happen ...

A chilling read. Recommended.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

This owl might be quite easy to miss, but for the fact that it has become something of a local icon around the south end of the Adelaide CBD. The owl lives at the Kings Head Hotel (on the corner of King William Street and Sturt Street,) and often pops up at various locations around the outside of the pub during opening hours. I, for one, think that it makes quite a fun decoration.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Apple Paperback Review: Help! I'm Trapped in the First Day of School by Todd Strasser

On select Sundays I will be reviewing some of the old Apple Paperback titles from my childhood. These titles were published, or republished by Scholastic during the 1980s & 1990s and were written and set in the United States. In Australia, these books were typically only available from libraries or could be ordered through catalogues that were distributed through primary schools. Most of these titles are now long out of print or have been updated and republished for later generations ...

Delightfully reminiscent of Groundhog Day (there is even a reference in the beginning to a groundhog called Bill,) Help! I'm Trapped in the First Day of School is an entertaining yarn about Jake Sherman, an eighth grader at Burt Itchupt Middle School (otherwise known as Burp It Up, charming,) who is forced to relive his first day of school. Over and over again.

Jake is a good kid who is being led astray by his friend Alex Silver, a bully who wants to rule the school. The plan is this, as eighth graders, they are going to be the Kings of Wedgie, and are planning on giving some of the kids, especially Ollie, a new and nerdy sixth grader from Ohio a hard time. Naturally, reliving his experiences over and over again, leads Jake to discovering just how dull Alex's jokes are and just how much he misses his old friends. There is also a sweet subplot with another new kid, Amber.

The ending is predicable enough, though the journey is worth it. I actually quite enjoyed this one--it's another that I did not read during my childhood, which is unsurprising given that it was first published in 1994 and I was on the verge of growing out of the Apple Paperbacks by then and really only read the ones that were part of a series or that were by my favourite authors.

About the Author: Todd Strasser is a prolific author of books for middle grade and young adult readers, including the provocative Give a Boy a Gun which was published not long after the Columbine High School Massacre. There are 17 other novels in his Help!! I'm Trapped series, which were published by Apple Paperbacks/Scholastic between 1991 and 2011. Strasser wrote tie-in novels for Home Alone and Home Alone 2, and surprisingly, The Good Son, based on Ian McEwan's screenplay. He also writes under two pseudonyms--Morton Rue and T.S. Rue.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Friday Funnies: Sally Brown

I found this clip from The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show on YouTube and I just had to share. The thing I am never quite sure about with Sally is whether she is a child genius who simply has difficulty communicating how she sees the world, or if she really is just that stupid. I suspect that Schulz himself could not make up his mind either ...

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review: Night of the Kraken by Jonathon Green

Night of the Kraken is the first instalment of a brand new Doctor Who YA series, Choose the Future. Basically, it works just like a choose your own adventure book, where the reader gets to choose what they think the Doctor should do. In this adventure, The Twelfth Doctor finds himself in late eighteenth century Cornwall battling the Kraa'Kn, (think: big scary creatures from the deep,) who have just invaded the area. On hand to help is the mysterious Ravenwood (who may not be all that nice,) and the lovely Bess who is a local barmaid. 

While there is nothing new about this kind of interactive storytelling, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked within the Doctor Who universe. The sections of story are done quite well and some sections may easily be used in one adventure and then within a totally different context in another. Although there were a few different endings, I seemed to find myself back at the same one nearly every time, despite taking radically different steps to get there. 

A bit of fun for a rainy afternoon, for young and old fans of the Doctor. 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Activist Told That His Speeding Fine is "Not a Human Rights Issue"

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--Kim Kong, a self-proclaimed gender neutral, homosexual and trans-racial human rights activist suffered a blow this week when the Nowheresville Masgistrates Court ordered that a speeding fine issued to Kong was not a human rights issue. "Anyone who knowingly breaks the law will not be exempt from punishment, just because they feel offended by the speed limit,' Magistrate Bob Allsop told Kong. "You are also reminded that you have been charged with driving while under the influence of a prohibited substance."

Kong's lawyer had previously told the court that the speeding fine discriminated against Kong, as his client was capable of determining at what speed a vehicle could be driven, without having to have limitations imposed on him by the government, and it should not matter what he chose to smoke before getting behind the wheel of his car. "What is the government going to do next?" Kong asked reporters outside court. "Impose rules to make us register our vehicles with them, and make us pay a fee just for the privilege of driving them?"

Kong, who is due to appear in court again next week to answer related charges of driving an unregistered vehicle, listened in stoic silence as Magistrate Bob Allsop read out the verdict. When Magistrate Allsop left the court, Kong became visibly upset and called the chair that belongs to Magistrate Allsop a Nazi. Kong also left negative reviews of the Nowheresville Magistrate Court on Facebook and Yelp, in which the judicial system was labelled "archaic" and "staffed by fascists." 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Friday Funnies

A meme that all book lovers can relate to ...

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Review: Cambodia Noir by Nick Seeley

Cambodia Noir is an action filled ride through a time and place where poverty, corruption and hard living are rife. The year is 2003 and Will Keller is a photographer living in Phnom Penh who is happily spiralling toward self-destruction. His life takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious woman contacts him and asks for his help finding her sister. But no one, and nothing in this book are quite what they seem, Will's search for June Saito comes with many strange and surprising twists.

This tale of corruption and hard living grabbed hold of me, pulled me in and refused to let me go. Neither Will nor June are particularly likeable characters though the mystery, action and a very real sense of place keep the story rolling. The story is also dark, full of gore and utterly depressing, which is far from my usual cup of tea, but I appreciated it within the context of the novel. June is a mystery within a mystery and to tell you that she is anything other than missing would do future readers a massive disservice. 

Not for the easily offended, faint of heart or anyone looking for a cosy read.


Shout out to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Review: My Life With Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

Every now and again, a book comes along and captures my imagination--and my heart--and refuses to let it go. My Life With Charlie Brown is one of those books. The concept is simple enough, it's a short book that consists of a number of autobiographical essays written by Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the infamous Peanuts comic, and a selection of Peanuts comics, all of which are entirely suited to the topics at hand. However, the writing style--intelligent and straightforward--and the authors explanation of the creative process are what makes this book a real winner.

Anyone who reads this blog should already be well versed in the Peanuts universe, so I doubt that there is a great need to describe it here. However, I was amazed at the variety of facts about the comics--and their creator--that I learned from reading this book. In particular, Schulz hated the name Peanuts! (Initially, the comic strip was to be called Lil' Folks, but this was too similar to another comic of its day. Peanuts was the idea of someone who worked for the company who distributed the comic.) Schulz was a man who never settled for second best when it came to his art, and he offers common sense advice for artists who wish to follow his example--and just a little bit of disdain for those who don't. In any case, it's a great book to put in the hands of anyone who wants to succeed in the arts.

Short, brilliant and completely practical. Highly recommended.

PS: Note that on the cover of this book, Charlie Brown's shirt is red, instead of the usual trademark yellow that we associate with the Peanuts comic strip. Apparently Schulz always intended for Charlie Brown's shirt to be red, but an early printing error lead to Charlie Brown wearing yellow instead. Good grief!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

In Bank Street, they take street art very seriously ... and literally, painting parts of the road. This small colourful section is often full of foot traffic, particularly office workers and students, during peak hour and revellers on Friday and Saturday nights. After midnight at weekends, it would be near impossible to drive a car along here ...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Apple Paperback Review: Adopt-A-Pet (Animal Inn #5) by Virginia Vail

On select Sundays I will be reviewing some of the old Apple Paperback titles from my childhood. These titles were published, or republished by Scholastic during the 1980s & 1990s and were written and set in the United States. In Australia, these books were typically only available from libraries or could be ordered through catalogues that were distributed through primary schools. Most of these titles are now long out of print or have been updated and republished for later generations ...

Animal Inn differed from a number of the series aimed at girls that was released by Scholastic during the 1980s & 1990s as the main focus of the stories was on animal care, rather than school or friendships. The series was about Valentine "Val" Taylor who lived in a rural town somewhere in either the United States or Canada (it's not clear to me which, though some of the place names, such as Essex, hint that the books were indeed set in Canada,) and who, after school, works at the Veterinary Clinic that is owned and run by her widowed father, Doc Taylor (known as Doc to readers).

In this book, the local animal shelter has just burned down. Not only do Val and Doc (and the rest of the gang,) find themselves providing much needed care to these injured animals, but the animals will all need homes as well--and the local humane society needs funds to build a local shelter. Val and the others organise for a country fair to be held to raise money for the shelter and to raise awareness of pet adoption. Meanwhile, a local farmer has been abusing a donkey in his care and it is up to Val, Doc and Miss Maggie, the man's eccentric neighbour to put a stop to it.

This one is an enjoyable read, and one that would probably easily stand the test of time and be enjoyed by contemporary readers. The focus is on animals, rather than the pop culture or fashions of the day. Very small children might be upset by the scene were Pedro is mistreated on the farm, however, the depictions are find for those in the target audience.


About the Author: Virginia Vail is the author of two book series for children, Animal Inn and Horse Crazy (published by troll,) and the stand-alone novel If Wishes Were Horses. No other biographical detail about the author is available. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

On Writing: Negative Reviews

In February 2015 I released a book titled Poison Ivy. One of the key players in this book is Henry, an aspiring speculative fiction author who becomes upset when his girlfriend's younger sister posts a one-star review of his debut novel on a (fictional) book review site. Ivy's reasons for posting the review are complex, and not all of them noble, but one thing she never expects is for Henry to force his way inside her flat at night and demand that she take the review down. Henry's reaction is, and always was, intended to be immature and over-the-top. As was Ivy's revenge, most of which was encouraged by her toxic best friend Daphne.

Unfortunately, since I penned the first draft of Poison Ivy in early 2014 I have learned of a few instances where Henry's reaction seems somewhat tame compared to reality. In October 2014 author Kathleen Hale used deceptive means to obtain the address of one of her harshest online critics and actually showed up at her house, though she went short of confronting the critic face-to-face. Even more shocking is the story of Richard Brittain, an author who not only tracked down one of his critics, but who snuck up behind her at her workplace and hit her over the head with a bottle. It is difficult to understand why, when authors who do not find themselves on the receiving end of criticism are in the minority, both Hale and Brittain would react in such an obsessive, over the top fashion. 

And yet, when I see criticism of my own work, even if I do not understand or condone their actions, I can understand why they might feel hurt.

We live in an age where everything is instant. If we want to talk about anything, we can jump online and sure enough we will eventually encounter someone that agrees with us. (Along with a few who will disagree.) We are free to express ourselves, tell it like it is (at least, according to us,) and then, when we're done we can turn the computer, phone or tablet off and do something else. 

When I write a review what is said about the book is never intended as a personal criticism of its author. Yet, paradoxically, when it is read by the author it can, and often is, taken extremely personally. I know from my own experience that it is hard not to hurt when I've spent a year or more working on something and suddenly, it is being critiqued by a complete stranger who, for reasons that are their own and therefore are perfectly valid, does not like it. There is, of course, a wide range of how people choose to express their thoughts on the book. Some stick to facts, some offer constructive criticism, some are condescending and full of backhanded compliments, some like to express their anger and some include a whole lot of hyperbole. Then there are the ones written by people who knew after the first few pages that they hated the book, but felt as though they were coerced somehow into reading it and then writing a review. But one the whole, those critics readers who feel that my book did not make the grade and they are entitled to an opinion.

Reading negative reviews usually just leaves me feeling depressed and, on a bad day, completely worthless, which can then pave the way forward for a sneaky hate spiral where I end up wondering where it all went wrong and if, perhaps, I would not have been better off having never picked up a pencil on my first day of school and learned to write all of the letters in the alphabet. And when I stop and think about that, I sincerely doubt that is what anyone intended when they stated what they did not enjoy about one of my books.

One of the rules of being an author is not to respond to negative reviews. Ever. One thing I personally have struggled with is not so much the urge to respond, but finding that inner strength to just stop reading and analysing the words of that particular critic. And I think that may be the crux of what caused Hale and Brittain's problems--for one reason or another, neither could move on, which lead to the unhealthy and obsessive behaviour. In Brittain's case, this lead to someone being physically harmed.

Sometimes, I guess, reality can be even more shocking than fiction. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Friday Funnies: Happiness at the Bottom of a Coffee Cup

This week for Friday Funnies I am sharing a simple, but funny, Garfield comic one that came from the early (and arguably, funnier,) years of the strip. For the first six years of Garfield, the format was relatively simple--Garfield was basically a badly behaved cat who had a few endearing humanlike qualities and Jon was his twenty-nine year old owner who was struggling to keep up. Tropes were relatively simple--Garfield loved food, his teddy bear and coffee, and hated dogs (especially Odie) and trips to the vet. 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Review: A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

A Window Opens is a realistic story of a woman struggling to find that precious work/life balance.

Alice is a woman in her thirties, living a happy, successful life. She has a happy marriage, three great kids, a nice house in the suburbs and a lovely part time job as a books editor at a women's magazine. Then life throws an unexpected curve ball, one that changes the family situation. Suddenly, Alice needs to find a full time job, while her lawyer husband, Nicholas, sets up his own law firm. Luckily for Alice she soon finds employment with a hip, start-up company, whose goal is to be the future of bookselling. Suddenly, Alice finds herself not only adjusting to the modern corporate world, but the fact that she has to juggle work with her family life--supporting her husband, looking after her three children, and also supporting her father who has a serious illness. 

Being a little younger than Alice, and in a different life stage (I'm something of a late bloomer, and an Independent Miss,) I found the set up and initial chapters very difficult to relate to. However, once the story got rolling, I found it quite readable, and felt myself developing a greater level of empathy for women who juggle their work lives with their roles as wives and mothers and who may be struggling to find that precious work/life balance. I also found the depictions of Scroll (the company Alice works for,) and the fickle way that it operates to be quite amusing and somewhat true of the corporate world. Themes of terminal illness and alcohol addiction are handled quite well. 

Parts of this novel are funny, parts are sad and most of it, I suspect, will be easy for many women to relate to.


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

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Writers on Wednesday: James Bushill

Welcome to another brilliant Writers on Wednesday post. This week I am chatting with Brisbane based author James Bushill about Coopers Pale Ale and, more importantly, his debut novel, Adam ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I’m originally from Windsor, England, famous for being home to the Queen and her castle. Sadly I have no royal connections beyond that. After I moved to Australia to study, I ended up falling in love with a girl and a country, and emigrating for good. I now live in Brisbane, Queensland, where I work as a deckhand on the CityCats, the local ferry service.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

Adam” is my first novel. It’s a sci-fi thriller inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story takes place on an abandoned mining asteroid. It follows the unforeseen and occasionally disastrous consequences of the creation of the world’s first biological supercomputer.

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

Writing and completing my first screenplay in 2012. Before then, I’d talked a good game, procrastinating for fear of my work not being any good. At that time, I started treating writing as a profession, and as a craft to be honed rather than a muse to be waited on. I’ll never forget the pride I felt in the few minutes after I finished that script. Unfortunately, that feeling was closely followed by the realisation that the finished product wasn’t that good, but the mere act of finishing gave me the confidence to keep writing.

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

I’m in the process of deciding on my next writing project. I’m torn between writing a sequel to Adam, a different sci-fi book altogether, a Victorian detective story, or a noir thriller set in Brisbane. Hopefully, I’ll decide on one soon, and be able to write all four eventually.

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

Paper books. The older, the better. My favourites are the ones that I find at the book fairs in Brisbane, with faded inscriptions from long gone friends or lovers, and tattered corners from being read and reread. However, despite my enduring love for paper books, and against my better judgement, I’m more likely to read an ebook or listen to an audiobook nowadays. Convenience wins, sadly.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Indie publishing. I wrote my novel without really considering the publishing process, and it was a wonderful surprise to find a whole Indie ecosystem waiting for me when I’d finished. I love the freedom and the control it gives me over the finished product. However, I’ve got a lot of respect for people working in Traditional Publishing, the majority of whom are book lovers, and I don’t agree with the negative views of some in the Indie community. I think there’s still a place for both methods of publishing, and the many hybrids of the two.

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

The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa. It’s a classic Italian novel, set in Sicily in the late 1800s at a time of great political upheaval, but the story is timeless, the poignant tale of an aging nobleman’s struggle to adapt to his family’s waning power, and his own failing health. It’s beautifully written, a magical book that stays with you long after the first reading.  

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

I first knew of Adelaide as the city where my parents’ friends, Peter and Janet, were from. But to a kid in England, it may as well have been on another planet. With little to no knowledge of Australia, I imagined Adelaide as some strange sunbaked oasis in the desert with kangaroos outnumbering people. Therefore, it was great to finally visit a couple of years ago, and find a city similar to Brisbane, blessed with friendly people, and its own unique charm and style. I hope that readers in Adelaide enjoy my book and I hope to visit again soon. I also have to thank them for producing Coopers Pale Ale, my favourite after writing tipple.


Ibooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/adam/id1092288558
and Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/adam-28
My website is www.jamesbushill.com and my twitter handle is @JamesTBushill

I’m also on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14651262

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Seventeen-year-old Jonah lives in a small Californian town and has faced a number of problems in the past few months. His father passed away and his mother is suffering from a bout of depression. He and his two older siblings have to take charge of the three younger kids, and help out at the family restaurant and the whole thing is slowly wearing him down. Enter Vivi, a happy and unique individual who is in town for the summer. Vivi sees the good in everyone and her behaviour can be quite reckless. Seemingly, Vivi is the perfect match for the reserved Jonah. But lurking in the background is a secret, one that Vivi would rather Jonah did not find out ...

When We Collided is not just a teen love story. It's also a realistic account of grieving, mental illness and living life to the fullest despite the many hurdles that life throws in the way. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and loved the way that the author was able to show a character who was living with a mental illness and learning to cope with things in her way, rather than glossing over it or depicting her future as all doom and gloom. I thought that the subplot about Vivi's father was quite interesting and while Vivi does not always handle things perfectly, it was certainly realistic. I did wonder at what was in the letter than a character sent to her and I think that it would have been nice if the author had touched on that plot a little bit more, even if Vivi's ultimate decision remained the same.

In the background is the account of Jonah's mother and her own battle. I loved the ending--the reader is left with no doubt that this is a just a summer romance for each of the characters, one that has helped each of them grow and develop as people. I also loved the duel narrative, and the voices of each of the characters.

Highly recommended. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

I spotted these cool, vintage armchairs and coffee table at Noarlunga Interchange some months back. They stayed there for about a week or so, and from what I understand were part of a project about the local arts scene being run by the City of Onkaparinga. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

News Flash: Author Tommy Wallach to Visit Adelaide!

Exciting news for RADelaide folks, best selling YA author (and talented musician) Tommy Wallach is swinging by for a visit this week, as part of his Thanks For the Trouble Australian Tour. Wallach will be appearing at Dymocks Rundle Mall* on Tuesday May 10 at 6pm.

Wallach is the author of We All Looked Up and Thanks For the Trouble.

You can RSPV by phoning 08 8223 5380 or get you ticket here.

*That's the big Dymocks store in Rundle Mall with the #celebrityesculator.  And the massive range of YA books. And where I buy lots of stuff.

PS Melbourne and Sydney readers, be sure to check the promotional poster, as there are some great events happening in your part of the country, including one event at the lovely Readings bookstore at St Kilda. 

Friday, 6 May 2016

Guest Post: Reflections, Perceptions and Change by Jenn J McLeod

Welcome to stop number three on the Other Side of the Season blog tour. I have enjoyed the previous two stops and I hope that you have as well. (If you haven't visited the other blogs, all links are at the bottom of this post.) Today, Jenn J. McLeod author of The Other Side of the Season, stops by to talk about the artistic influence in her latest novel. I loved this post and I think that you will too ~ Kathryn.

Reflections Perceptions and Change by Jenn J McLeod

The question I’m asked the most is: Where do I get my story ideas? Pinpointing a moment, when that one kernel plants itself and grows in my mind, is not always easy. I can tell you The Other Side of the Season was the result of several seeds that for while all sprouted in different directions, a bit like an uncontrollable vine. One tendril wrapped itself tight around me, though, and wouldn’t let go, so I titled a new manuscript Seasons in Watercolour and, if that’s not a big enough hint as to the theme, I named my small town Watercolour Cove.

The art concept came about during a walk with my dad along the Nambucca Breakwall with its ‘accidental art gallery’ painted against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

The minute I arrived home I banged out a story outline about a seventeen-year-old character—a budding artist—who back in 1979 spends too much time at the breakwall daydreaming about becoming the next Pro Hart (the real-life Broken Hill miner-turned-artist, considered Australia’s father of outback painting). When he isn’t drawing, David is skiving off with the teasing and tantalisingly pretty Tilly from the neighbouring property. His older brother, Matthew, has no time for such infatuations. His future is on the land and he plans to take over the family plantation.

Life is simple on top of the mountain for David, Matthew and Tilly until the
winter of 1979 when tragedy strikes, starting a chain reaction that will ruin lives for years to come. Those who can, escape the Greenhill plantation. One stays—trapped on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and there’s another side to every story.

Using Pro Hart in my outline had been a dreadful mistake, however, as his name immediately conjured up memories of the old carpet cleaner commercial: ‘OH MISTA HART! WHATTA MESS?’ (You’d have to be my gen to remember that!) While I did keep the Pro Hart reference in the book, to clear that annoying advertising earworm I had to find a more contemporary artistic inspiration. I knew I wanted something poignant and evocative—an artistic approach that would fit with my female lead (who, by the way, has turned out to be my most challenging character yet, with her growth very much tied to how she sees herself—then and now—and how others have judged her.)

I remember being taught about ‘the rule of reflection’ at school and the ‘reflective’ theme worked on so many other levels that when my artist character is commissioned to create an installation for the town centre, I searched for artists working with reflections: photographers like this, painters like Alex Alemany, sculptors like environmental artist, Rob Mullholland. I couldn’t decide which way to go so I made my character brilliant at everything!!!!!

Work by Rob Mullholland
Used with permission.
But I felt such a connection to Rob Mullholland’s ethereal and ‘reflective’ pieces. (Plus the guy has an installation titled The Four Seasons that “speaks of journeys and homecomings and reconnecting to our ancestral roots”! That’s my small town stories in a nutshell, so it was obviously meant to be.) You can find this and more on Rob’s Facebook page.  And more about his work here.

I also found an Aussie artist inspiring me. I found Richard Claremont and his Remembered Landscapes on Facebook and his Night of the Carnival pieces were so impacting I was taken back to a time when I was a wild spirit in 1979, much like young Tilly. (You can see his amazing work on Richard's website.)

The second story idea for this novel sprouted from a local newspaper article I read several years ago, about a third generation banana plantation family. The ‘lovely bunch of brothers’, now in their seventies, were about to hang up their last banana hand and sell their land. With the Coffs Harbour landmark likely become a residential property developer’s dream, I wondered about the emotions attached to letting go of something they’d worked for so long. Soon I found myself imagining life for the brothers three decades ago—young men working the steep, snake-infested slopes of a Coffs Coast banana plantation. My work of fiction was growing.

I knew then, if I could pull together the Nambucca breakwall and the Coffs banana plantation to make a small seaside town, I’d have a big story to tell.

The Other Side of the Season, with its dual time period and multiple point of view, has been the most challenging and the most rewarding novel to date. I hope readers love it as much as I do.

Book information and BUY links - www.jennjmcleod.com/book-room  

Connect with Jenn on Facebook www.facebook.com/jennjmcleod.books and Twitter @jennjmcleod or join in the discussion at Readers of Jenn J McLeod Facebook group (no cat memes allowed!)

Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to visit all of the other stops and wonderful blogs taking part in The Other Side of The Season Blog Tour.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Review: Break Through by Marina Go

One part a how-to book and one part memoir, Break Through by Marina Go is an inspiring read offering tips on how to succeed in the workplace, as well as accounting the many triumphs and curve balls that the author has received throughout her long career within the cut-throat magazine industry.

When I was offered the chance to review this book, I immediately seized it. Not only did I feel that the subject matter would be entirely relevant to me, but I immediately recognised the name of the author from many, many years ago--Marina Go was the editor of Dolly when I first started reading the magazine, and at the time, my twelve year old self thought that she and her colleagues must have been very glamourous. (By the time Susie Pitts took over as editor I was almost thirteen and a little more jaded, but that's fodder for a different post.) Some of the memoir pages are devoted to Marina's time at Dolly (she was the editor of the magazine at age 23) and provide some of the funniest and most entertaining pages within the book. We also learn about Go's childhood--she was the daughter of immigrant parents, her mother was from Italy and her father from Hong Kong. Later parts show how the author managed motherhood and a successful career. Of course, the larger chunk of the book is focused on practical advice for women looking to succeed in their chosen fields and is set out in a clear and practical fashion. Each chapter focuses on a different strategy (I found myself reading Chapter 7, which is titled Develop Resilience, three times and highlighting a few bits of advice--things that I hope to implement in the future.)

Full of practical advice. Highly recommended. 

Thank you to Ventura Press for my reading copy.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2016.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

This is a mural that I snapped in a laneway on Leigh Street. As most Adelaide people know, Leigh Street (a pedestrian only city street, filled with bars and, during peak hour, office workers taking a short cut to the nearby Adelaide Railway station,) always has a lot tucked inside a relatively small space, and many, many strange and beautiful things can the found there if one takes the time to stop and have a look around. Although less than a hop, skip and a jump away from the delightfully colourful (and dare I say, far more iconic,) Hindley Street, Leigh Street is always has a bit of an upmarket, hipster vibe. (Even if the northern side does look straight at a run down hotel that is covered in ceramic tiles.)