Friday, 31 March 2017

Friday Funnies

I think this meme obsession is getting somewhat out of hand ...

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Review: Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo

Last week marked the first week that I had officially read Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo from cover to cover, despite the fact that I was assigned to read it in my year nine English class. The first time around, I was fourteen years old, and resentful of the fact that the class had to one, read a book that had a boy as its main character (oh, how dreadful,) and two, that it was a realistic read set in contemporary Australia, rather than well, anywhere else during any other point in history. (Not bad for someone whose later academic career focused exclusively on Australian Literature ... and who included Tim Winton in their English Honours thesis.) Plus the feminist in me was annoyed that some of the other kids in my class kept calling Vicki Streeton a slut, when I felt that she was just as confused about things as Lockie, only in a different way. Consequently, I ended up skipping lots of bits and got a B for my assignment on the book.

I found a copy of Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo at my local secondhand bookstore recently and I decided to read it, properly, this time, and to see what I could make of it. The truth is, it's not a bad book for teens. And I still think it was unfair of the kids in my English class to label Vicki a slut. 

Lockie Leonard is almost thirteen years old, is the oldest of three kids and has just moved to a small town in Western Australia, where his dad will be working as the local Sergeant. A bullying incident on his first day of school sees his nether regions covered in Vegemite, and it also leads him to Vicki Streeton, the streetwise daughter of the local used car salesman, who becomes Lockie's first girlfriend. Lockie likes Vicki, a lot, but she's also a bit too keen to grow up, and continually pushes the boundaries of their relationship. The moral to the story is a good one--about letting kids be kids, and the way that Lockie treats Vicki is commendable. There are also a lot of amusing glimpses into surf culture and life in a small town.

I enjoyed this one a lot more than I expected to and will probably hunt down the sequels.

PS Random trivia: Although the specific year is never given, there are several hints that the story is set in 1988--for example the death of a key character on Neighbours is mentioned. 

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

What Might Happen if the Sorting Hat Vistied Kathryn's Inbox?

Every now and again, I like to ponder the unimportant things in life. Like why Cadbury eliminated the coconut ice piece in their 55g Snack bars. (Lucky for me, Cadbury were kind enough to answer.) Anyway, earlier today I started pondering what would happen if the Sorting Hat from the Harry Potter novels made a surprise visit to this blog, and decided to story the characters into some of my novels into the four Hogwarts Houses. Here is what I think the Sorting Hat would choose ...

Cats, Scarves and Liars

Peppa Grove ... HUFFLEPUFF!

A good Hufflepuff is hard-working, loyal and friendly. Peppa is all of these, or at least she is when she's not grieving for her recently murdered husband. This is probably best demonstrated first through her attempts to save her failing marriage, and later through her choice to speak at her father's funeral, despite all of the terrible things that he had done.

Behind the Scenes

Catlin Ryan ... SYLTHERIN!

Syltherins tend to be ambitious and resourceful, and Catlin Ryan has both of these qualities in bucket-loads, whether she is pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a famous actor, or, her grown up ambition of becoming a psychologist. In Behind the Scenes we see eighteen year old Catlin rise to the top of her field in a relatively short space of time, while in my upcoming novella One Afternoon* twenty-seven year old Catlin is the head of Psychology at a well respected institution.

Kimberley "Kimmy" Ryan ... HUFFLEPUFF!

This was a difficult choice. Kimmy has more than enough ambition to make it in Slytherin, but if she were given the choice between ambition and loyalty, Kimmy would choose loyalty in a heartbeat. Seemingly prickly on the outside, Kimmy is fiercely loyal to the people that she cares about--she risked her life to look after her sister after she was taken hostage, and she was one of the only people to stand by Tom Arbuckle after her was arrested, risking her reputation and career in the process.

Being Abigail & Everybody Hates Abigail

Samuel Andrews ... GRYFFINDOR!

Samuel is an accomplished journalist, he is intelligent and he is something of a loner, though he certainly knows how to charm people when the need arises. He sometimes allows his career to get in the way of his relationships, and he can be a little arrogant. Samuel could make it in Slytherin, if it wasn't for the fact that he believes wholeheartedly in the causes that he champions through his work. Samuel often works to get an exclusive so that he can report the truth as fairly and as honestly as possible, as he believes that the public deserve nothing less.

Abigail Carter ... 

Of all my characters, Abigail is the one most likely to give the sorting hat a headache. Abigail lacks the cunning and ambition required for Slytherin, she doesn't work nearly hard enough to make it in Hufflepuff (and her loyalty is a bit questionable as well, just as her ex-boyfriend Jason McAllister.) The question is therefore, does Abigail have the smarts to make it in Ravenclaw, or perhaps, the bravery to make it in Gryffindor?

In both novels, Abigail is shown as being academic, but lacking in common sense. In Everybody Hates Abigail, her Grandfather always adds "Academically, anyway," after describing her as intelligent. We also know that she later pursued an academic career, studying for a PhD in English Literature. Despite this, Abigail seemed to have a limited ability to drive a vehicle, or to understand the difference between taking a medically prescribed sedative and drinking a mug of hot chocolate.

Abigail also stood up what she believed in, and lived her life based upon the causes she supported (for example, she refuses to buy a dishwasher even though she could afford to buy one because she feels that they use too much water and, consequently, are bad for the environment.) She was also brave enough to stand up to Samuel on several occasions, despite the fact that he rarely understood her point of view.

However, many Ravenclaws tend to be quirky, and Abigail certainly has her fair share of quirks, whether it be her bright and colourful clothing, her reaction when her book was voted number twelve in an online poll, or her choice of vehicle.

It's a tough choice, but ... let's face it, if Abigail were given the choice between solving a riddle to enter a common room, or having to remember a password, she'd choose the riddle. Much more fun.

Abigail Carter, you belong in ... RAVENCLAW!

Thanks for reading and playing along. Do you have a favourite character from one of my books? If so, which Hogwarts House would you place them in?

*One Afternoon will be published in late 2017.

** This post is purely for entertainment purposes. 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review: In Two Minds by Gordon Parker

In Two Minds is a detailed and sympathetic account of one man's journey through mental illness, written by renowned psychiatrist Gordon Parker. Martin Homer, known as Sunny to his friends, has a naturally cheerful disposition, despite suffering two great losses during his childhood. He has a good life. Martin is a medical practitioner working and living in Sydney's north shore. His marriage to Sarah is a happy one, though they are childless after a number of failed IVF attempts. However, the death of Martin's mother sends him into a deep depression, which then turns into a period of mania. During this period, Martin encounters Bella, a hurt woman with some pretty serious issues of her own. What happens next has far reaching consequences for them both ...

Although this novel was a little slow in places, there is no doubt that it was written by someone who was an expert in treating mental illness. The author creates a sympathetic picture of Martin, even in the passages when his mania caused him to behave quite badly. Bella was a far more difficult character to digest--she is portrayed as someone who is manipulative and behaves without conscience, yet it is also clear that she has been damaged by her past and has a desperate need to be loved by someone. The description "borderline" is thrown around quite a bit, and other bits and pieces in the narrative point toward Borderline Personality Disorder. I did find parts of the novel quite sexist (the chapter featuring the Trophettes, a support/empowerment group for trophy wives, for example.) That said, the novel is commendable for it's portrayal of Martin. He's 100% human, with a real sense of right and wrong, who behaves the way he does because he is ill, and not because he had any intention to hurt Bella or his wife.

A compelling read for anyone interested in reading about the human side of mental illness. Recommended. 

Thank you to Ventura Press for my review copy. 

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017

Monday, 27 March 2017

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

Welcome to a slightly revised format of Around Adelaide. As my Instagram Account seems to be getting bigger and better by the day, I thought that it would be fun to start sharing the best images on here. There will still be lots and lots of street art, and the pictures will remain proudly Adelaide centric, but the changes also mean that I can share some other great pictures here too.

First up is a snap of this gorgeous coffee cup that I got from the food tent at Adelaide Writers' Week. Such a beautiful design and such a great idea to feature work by a local artist, instead of serving coffee from a plain cup, or one covered in advertising. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Friday Funnies: I am not Buying Any More Books ...

Gulp. I am so guilty of this.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella's latest novel offers a fun--and frivolous--take on the difficulties that many women in their early twenties face when trying to start out in the corporate world. Katie Brenner feels a bit insecure about the way her life has worked out. Sure, she's living in London and has a job at a prestigious marketing firm, but the commute to work is hell every day and she makes very little money for the hard work that she puts in. Worse still, her boss, Demeter, is a total nightmare. Demeter is cool, selfish and rarely recognises anyone else's efforts. Katie is eventually sacked (through no fault of her own,) and finds herself returning to her family home in the UK, where her father and stepmother have turned the old family farm into a successful camping business. And when Demeter arrives at the farm as a guest and does not even recognise her former employee, Katie seizes the opportunity to get revenge. But not everything is as it seems ...

This one was a fun read, though it did not stack up to the high standard set by some of Kinsella's previous works (The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, Finding Audrey.) The romance with Alex felt a little tacked on in a number of ways. The best part of the novel in my opinion was the authors portrayal of Demeter--slowly, we readers get to learn that yes she is someone with a heart, and a lot of depth, someone who makes mistakes and who perhaps does not speak up when she should. And Demeter certainly faces her own challenges in the workplace. Katie's revenge and eventual growth as a character was fun to read.

A fun read for fans of Sophie Kinsella.

PS Big shout out to my friend Kylie for gifting me with a copy of My Not So Perfect Life!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Friday Funnies: Clarabelle Cow Memes

I am sharing this one for to express my complete and udder, sorry, utter amazement that anyone would create a meme that features Clarabelle Cow. As far as Disney characters go, Clarabelle Cow is a fairly minor character. She was created by Walt Disney in 1928 and is friends with Mickey and Minnie, and is the occasional love interest of Horace Horsecollar, and less often the love interest of Goofy, thus proving that interspecies dating is not a big deal in the Disney universe. Clarabelle appeared as a minor character in a number of animated shorts during the 1930s, and these days appears as Goofy's love interest in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series. Surprisingly, Clarabelle is an extremely popular character in parts of Europe and appears regularly in the Italian Disney comics. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review: South of Forgiveness by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

When I sat down to watch Q&A one evening recently, I found myself utterly bewildered by the choice of one of the panellists. The thought that immediately ran through my mind was, she's written a book about, WHAT? This was followed by other thoughts such as: Is this woman anywhere near as empowered as she thinks? What man put her up to this? Is this a sick joke? Is it even for real? After all, there is something that is immediately confronting about the idea of a survivor of sexual violence collaborating on a book about forgiveness with the perpetrator of that very crime.

I turned my thoughts off and listened Thordis Elva told her story--I believe that all stories of sexual violence should be listened to without judgement. Two days later, I was in the audience when Thordis and Tom spoke about their book at Adelaide Writers' Week. There was still much that I wanted to understand, so I did what I felt was the most honest thing that I could do--I walked to the bookshop tent, and I purchased a copy of South of Forgiveness. 

South of Forgiveness, I discovered, was not a misery memoir, a real life crime novel or an instruction manuel for survivors and/or perpetrators of sexual violence. It was the story of two human beings whose lives were changed by a cruel and violent act and who, some years later, reconcile with themselves and each other about what happened that night, and who should have the burden of responsibility. It opens a discourse on sexual violence and responsibility, as does the TED talk that the authors did in November 2016. 

That a perpetrator of sexual violence has the right to speak about his actions is something that, personally, I found quite troubling. In one sense, I understood the logic of speaking out--its a dramatic demonstration that seemingly ordinary people are capable of committing disgusting acts and that, perhaps, if we have those conversations it might pave a way forward to helping others make different choices. Tom's name appears in much smaller lettering on the front, and the FAQ page of the South of Forgiveness website notes that his share of the profits will go to a Women's shelter in Reykjavic.

This book was confronting for me to read, and I was left with a number of questions, most of which are not appropriate to share in this post. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Literary Quotes

"I see that a man cannot give himself up to drinking without being miserable one-half his days and mad the other."

Friday, 10 March 2017

Friday Funnies

Here's to that one friend ...

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Phrases: Sold Down the River

Sold Down the River: 
To be Cheated or Betrayed

Sold down the River is a phrase that means to be cheated, and/or betrayed. Many people know and use the phrase on a regular basis, however lesser known is the sad history behind the phrase. It originated in the United States during the days of the slave trade. To be sold down the river meant that a slave was sold from one of the northern slave states to a cotton plantation anywhere along the Mississippi River, where conditions were particularly brutal. Being sold down the river was akin to a death sentence.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

I snapped this beautifully decorated Stobie pole some time ago, somewhere in Christie Downs, possibly near Morton Road, a little while back. (Too much time has passed for me to remember the exact location, and it's not really an area that I visit often.) Anyway, I love the many varieties of toadstools in the painting and cannot help but wonder if there is a Smurf or two lurking around anywhere ...

Friday, 3 March 2017

Friday Funnies: Morty & Ferdie Visit Australia

This never fails to crack me up--it's from a Mickey Mouse comic originally printed in the 1970s that tells the story of how Mickey travelled to Australia with his nephews Morty and Ferdie to visit some of their relatives down under. Apparently in Australia, it's easy to get lost (true) and the local mouse population ride uses kangaroos as their main mode of transportation (also true ... kidding!)

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Literary Quote of the Day

"He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost."