Friday, 29 September 2017

Friday Funnies: Charlie Brown & Snoopy

Just sharing this Peanuts comic for fun. I love the fact that Charlie Brown is being well, a bit of a wanker, and then Snoopy gives him exactly what he deserves. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Review: The Tenth Doctor Archives, Volume 1

Although I have long been a fan of Doctor Who, I have never read any of the comics. When I found this beautifully presented collection in Dymocks, I decided to change all that and give it a go. I'm glad that I did. The Doctor's adventures translate beautifully in comic book form. 

This book features two full length stories, Agent Provocateur and The Forgotten. In Agent Provocateur, we meet the Tenth Doctor and Martha who are going out for a quiet milkshake ... and end up embroiled in a fun but almost nonsensical story featuring an alien who is hell bent on killing off entire alien races and starting a war. The Forgotten is a slower and probably the better story of the two for a reader such as myself who is a bit unfamiliar with the Doctor Who comics. In this adventure, the Tenth Doctor and Martha find themselves in a museum dedicated to the first nine doctors. Meanwhile, the Tenth Doctor is losing his memories and Martha has to help him remember all of the previous versions of himself so that he can survive. Of course, there are a few other sinister things afoot, but to talk about them would give away spoilers. I loved the flashback scenes featuring the other doctors. It was also oddly cool to see Martha again, and with it, a story arc that didn't follow her unrequited love for the Doctor, something which always annoyed me about the character. (She was such a strong, smart woman. Why was she so bent on having a boyfriend?)

Overall, this one is a great addition to the bookshelf of anyone who loves both Doctor Who and reading comic books. Recommended.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Literary Quotes

"What is life but a series of inspired follies?"

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Review: On the Beach by Neville Shute

Neville Shute's classic novel about a group of people in Melbourne slowly awaiting their deaths from radiation poisoning following a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere is as chillingly real now as it was when it was first published in 1957. Set in the early 1960s it tells the story of three people, Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy, who is married with a small child, Dwight Towers, an American naval officer who made his way to Australia by chance and refuses to accept that his wife and children are dead, and Moira, a spirited young woman who knows that she has nothing left and that her own death is inevitable. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this novel is its sense of inevitability. The human race has, essentially, stuffed things up for themselves. There is no one left in the Northern Hemisphere, and the radiation sickness (as it is known in the novel,) is slowly travelling further and further south. The characters know that they only have a few months left. They live their lives from day to day, trying to solider on as best they can, though each character deludes themselves in various ways. Peter and his wife, for example, plant a garden that won't flourish until the following year. Then something odd happens. The navy begins to pick up morse code signals from America. Is it possible that someone may be alive in the Northern Hemisphere, and what could it mean for the people in Melbourne? An expedition, and a lesson on the way that false hope can be given follows.

Well written, realistic and morbid, this is a novel that is memorable for all of the right reasons. While not a ripping page turner, it is an interesting account of a group of people who are facing their inevitable fate and how they cope with knowing that in a few months they, and everyone they care about, will be gone. 

Highly recommended.

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

Monday, 25 September 2017

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

I spotted Wally recently in a side street just off Rundle Mall. I hope he's having a good time in Adelaide! (Nah, not really. This is a traffic signal box on King William Street.)

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Advice For Authors: Coping With Negative Reviews

As an author, there is nothing worse than reading negative reviews of my work. It's bad enough knowing that someone hated my book enough to dedicate an entire post to it, let alone the fact that they took the time to search for gifs and then decided to post the review everywhere and now other people are liking that review. It's the kind of crushing, soul destroying feeling that makes me want to lock myself in a darkened room and never, ever come out, let alone write anything again. Well, I would, except for the fact that I can be a rather vengeful person in a lot of ways. I figure if anyone goes to that much trouble to write a negative review then they would probably enjoy the fact that they have just completely ruined a lifelong hobby for me and the best way to get revenge is to keep on writing seeing as they would probably hate that. Jokes aside, it is unpleasant being on the receiving end of a negative review. Over the years, I've found some different ways to cope with them, and thought that it might be helpful to share them here. So here are a few tips:

Don't read them

If you're really feeling the weight of negative reviews, then stop reading them. You're not obligated to read reviews of your work. If you really want to read reviews, then the time to do it is well after your book has been released and you're looking for feedback on how to improve your craft or to make your books more marketable. 

Don't take it personally

Very few reviews are written with the intention of hurting the author. A decent, honest review sticks to discussing the book. And if they say they don't like your book, that's very different from saying that they know you personally and don't like you.

That said, very occasionally, someone will write a review out of pure spite. The best thing to do in this situation is to ignore it. 

Don't contact the reviewer

Seriously. It doesn't matter how inaccurate their review is, the best thing you can do is ignore it. The reviewer is entitled to their opinion. Writing to them and pointing out everything that is wrong with their review isn't going to change their mind. If anything, it's only going to annoy them.

Don't fret about potential lost sales

A single review isn't going to garner enough interest from the entire reading public to ruin your book. Sure it looks a little shitty if the only review on amazon or goodreads is a one star, but who knows, the next reviwer could give it five stars. 

Understand that you cannot please everyone

It would be a boring world if we all liked the same books. Sometimes your book finds the wrong reader or reviewer. The people who don't like your book may not necessarily be the people that you are writing for. 

Realise that reviewing is a subjective business

If you don't believe me, visit Amazon or Goodreads and read through some of the one star reviews of Harry Potter. Actually, read through the one star review of any best selling novel, and you'll see that there are plenty of reviewers out there who didn't love it. In fact, just to prove how subjective reading is, here is a list of best selling novels that I can't stand:

  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloch 
  • Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel
  • Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  • No Greater Love by Danielle Steele
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James 

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you take your writing seriously. Listen to feedback, but don't allow a negative review to end your career.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Review: The Fall by Tristan Bancks

What if you were a twelve year old boy, on crutches, staying an a small apartment with the father that you barely knew, and, in the middle of the night, you witnessed a murder? That's the premise of The Fall, a brilliant, suspense filled novel for middle-grade readers. Sam is a pretty smart and resourceful kid, but he is taken by surprise when he sees a body fall from the apartment above his. He knows that the body must have been pushed, but when it disappears and his dad, crime reporter Harry doesn't believe him and then goes missing, Sam finds himself without much evidence and no support to help him prove that there has been a crime. And someone may now be after him ...

I thought that the novel was cleverly written and had enough to keep readers of any age entertained. Sam, I think, is a great character for boys to identify with--he's smart and resourceful, but most important of all, he's human. It's mentioned that he's had issues with bullying at school, anger management and also some possible behavioural issues. He sometimes resents the long hours his single mum works, and feels rejected by his dad. 

Overall a great read. Recommended. 

PS Bancks is also the author of the brilliant middle-grade novel Two Wolves, which I reviewed on here a couple of years ago.

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

Monday, 18 September 2017

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

I snapped this chap on Pirie Street recently, just near theAdelaide City Council chambers. For some crazy reason, he reminds me a bit of the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Review: We Ate the Road Like Vultures by Lynnette Lounsbury

A little bit mad, a little bit frivolous, full of shit, irreverent and completely entertaining--that sums We Ate the Road Like Vultures the first adult novel by Australian author Lynnette Lousbury. In February 2001, sixteen year old Lulu runs away from her family's cattle farm in Australia. She travels to Mexico, where Jack Kerouac is alive and well, and enjoying a suitably fitting retirement. Joined by Christian backpacker Adolph, Lulu finds herself on a crazy and unpredictable series of adventures.

This one was a short, though entertaining read. I thought it was a fitting tribute to Kerouac and On the Road. It's the kind of read that is perfect for when you're in the mood for something different.


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

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Review: Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl

The prospect of a new Roald Dahl book is a very exciting thing. Billy and the Minpins is a re-imagining of The Minpins, one of Dahl's last stories, presented in an exciting new junior novel format and with new illustrations by Quentin Blake (who is, of course, the most famous and best remembered of all of the illustrators who worked with Dahl.) I do not remember The Minpins from my childhood at all--presumably the school library either didn't have a copy, or the book proved so popular that it was constantly checked out. Or maybe by the time it was published Australia I had reached that awful and foolish age where I believed that I was too old for certain things. Anyway, I was quite excited for the release of Billy and the Minpins, and happy bought a hardcover edition from Dymocks. I read the novel in the space of an hour, pausing constantly to enjoy the illustrations.

Billy is a small boy who lives on the edge of a very dangerous forest. He is warned by his mother not to go near the forest, due to all of the frightening, Dahlesque creatures that live there. He spends his time assuring his busy mother that he is being good, but one day curiosity gets the better of him and he travels to the forest ... where he meets a very dangerous creature indeed, along with the lovely Minpins. Together, Billy and the Minpins conspire to rid the forrest of the terrible Gruncher for good.

Overall this is a lovely  tale, fitting of its author. There is a lot of Dahl's humour, and the narrative is wonderfully, and beautifully, imaginative.


Monday, 11 September 2017

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

This city bank likes to keep their bank safe ... and sparkly! Love the lock!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Friday Funnies: Inappropriate Peanuts Memes

One of the weirdest things about the internet--and the shitty way that we now communicate with each other on a daily basis--is our reliance on memes. With a meme you can take basically, any person, photograph or pop culture icon and alter its meaning to suit whatever you would like to say. The results are funny (except when they're not, which is often) and may or may not be used to emphasise a point. Peanuts is, of course, an iconic comic strip and it gets used for various memes often. The memes can be clean: 

A bit inappropriate: 

Or downright vulgar:

And the worst ones take Peanuts so far out of its original context that, sometimes, I'd really like to shake the person who came up with them. The thing about memes is that they're art, but they are not necessarily good art. When you take something like Peanuts out of its context, you're also taking away the very element that made the strip so successful--that it was about seeing the world through a child's eyes. But then again, memes aren't supposed to be good art and nor are they intended to last longer than it takes to scroll past one on facebook. So is it worth caring about? Probably not.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Literary Quotes

Surprises, like misfortunes, seldom come alone.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Review: The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

Shaped by three different narratives, set in three different continents during three different eras, The History of Bees is a beautifully written novel that is equally a story of parents and their relationships with their children as it is a dystopian that ponders our future. William is a biologist living in England in 1852, who after a bout of depression decides to work toward something more. Wishing to work with his beloved son Edmund, instead he discovers just how intelligent--and plucky--his daughter Charlotte is. In 2007 in the United States, George comes from a long line of beekeepers and is keen to pass his family heritage on to his only child, Tom, who has other talents and other ideas about his future. In China in 2098 Tao works to pollinate trees by hand--a job that she is massively overqualified for--and hopes to spare her son Wei-Wen from the same fate. Then something very unexpected happens ...

In recent months I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a number of excellent titles. The History of Bees is another title that I can proudly add to an ever-growing list of best reads of 2017. Each of the three stories was unique in their own way, though clever formed so that each worked perfectly together to tell the bigger story of the fragile relationship that humans have with nature, especially when we try to control it. There is also the not entirely dissimilar meditation on the relationship that parents have with their children--the hopes that parents have and the eventual realisation that their child is not just like their and their futures cannot be planned or controlled. Maybe it's my gender talking here, but I found the story of Tao and Wei-Wen the easiest to identify with. That said, both William and George (oh, how I hated him in the beginning,) challenged me, and helped me to see the world through a different perspective. I'd really like to talk about the bees more, but there is little that I can say on the subject without offering plot spoilers, and as I really enjoyed the experience of coming in to this book without knowing what to expect, I'd love for other readers to have that same experience.

Overall, an excellent read. Highly recommended.

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

PS I understand that author Maja Lunde will be touring Australia and New Zealand in February & March 2018 and expect to hear more news about this in time.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

This is what happens when you walk through Rundle Mall in the rain and decide to photograph a local icon. Magic.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Friday Funnies: Book Harry vs Movie Harry

Saw this meme doing the rounds and it really made me laugh. The first time I read Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone, the movie was well, a bit of a way off still, yet I pictured Snape almost exactly as he appeared in the film.