Monday, 30 April 2018

Review: The Baby-Sitters and the Boy Sitters (BSC TV Series Episode 10)

The tenth episode of the Baby-Sitters Club TV series is notable only for the fact that the actors who played Pete and Alan (Dave Buzzotta & Russell Harper aka Herbert Russell) have gone on to have long and successful acting careers. Otherwise, this one tries hard but doesn't quite hit the mark. The Baby-sitters Club has a problem--more clients than sitters, but when Kristy's rivals Pete and Alan put themselves forward as potential baby-sitters, Kristy is quick to say no. Unfortunately, the rest of the club think it is a great idea, at least until they see the boys in action. From there, we see a storyline that is almost identical to that of Hello, Mallory with the boys making beginners mistakes and the girls being rather unforgiving, until the boys set up their own baby-sitting service. Eventually, the boys learn that baby-sitting is tougher than it looks, and the girls realise that the boys are learning valuable lessons from their mistakes. It's a sound enough lesson, but the whole thing is executed rather poorly, even by children's television standards.

It's really not difficult to see why this series only lasted three more episodes ...

Friday, 27 April 2018

Friday Funnies: Rabbit of Seville


Rabbit Of Seville from Wet The Face on Vimeo.

I've probably share this one before, but Rabbit of Seville is one of my all time favourite Looney Tunes shorts. It's a clever take on the Baber of Seville, complete with Looney Tunes humour!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Review: If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

Get your tissues ready, because If I Tell You is one hell of a story of courage, with a real tear jerker of an ending. Alex Summers lives in a small Australian town. In Two Creeks, the saying 'small towns, small minds,' certainly applies. It is expected of her that she will become a school teacher, marry her best mate (and long time admirer,) Justin and follow in her mother's footsteps by baking award winning Victoria sponges. However, deep inside Alex is a secret, something that she is too afraid to tell anyone, even her closest friends. Alex is attracted to girls, not boys, and fears the consequences if anyone, particularly her homophobic mother, finds out. However, life has other plans and things start to unravel for Alex when the charismatic, and very out, Phoenix, moves to town, along with her twin brother, artist mother, and rock and roll star father move to town. Alex finds herself falling for Phoenix, but can she find the courage to face who she really is.

This was a well crafted and believable story about identity, first loves and the price that one young woman must pay for being true to herself. Alex's coming out is a tumultuous experience, filled with highs and lows--between the rush of her first love is the disgusting way that her mother reacts to the discover that Alex is gay and the judgement that she receives from various people around town.

And then there is that ending. 

This is a well written novel that tells a believable story about one young woman's struggle to be true to herself in a town where she is expected to be someone and something different. It's very much a story of identity and of the things that people keep to themselves (Alex isn't the only one keeping secrets.) All of the love scenes faded to black, which I think was a good call--not because I'm offended, but because too often, people get all kind of voyeuristic over what two women do in private and that isn't what this story is about. This is a story of love, and identity. 

Another great thing about this book is that there is a real sense of timelessness in the narrative. Mobile phones and the internet aren't really mentioned, and most of the pop culture references are to well established bands that can appeal to more than one generation such as Guns N Roses. Consequently, this story feels as though it could have taken place anytime during the early 21st century. 

A well written story on love and identity.

Recommended.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Review: Sweet Thing by Nicola Marsh

Dare is an edgy new imprint from those trailblazers of cheap, throwaway romance novels, Mills & Boon. It's basically the Mills & Boon invented for the post Fifty Shades era, a romance that is heavy on the eroticism but with a guaranteed happy ending. I read this one out of sheer curiosity and well, it does everything that the publisher promises on the back of the blurb.

Abby is enjoying her job at a high class Sydney patisserie. For the first time, she has been able to indulge in her passion--baking--and has put her horrible marriage to a man with no redeeming features whatsoever behind her. This is outraged her wealthy, social climbing parents who--like all good stereotypes of the wealthy and the heartless--believe that Abby should have stayed in an unhappy marriage so that the family could keep their place in society. She's basically been cut off from her family, and apparently their all horrified that she has chosen to be happy instead of surrounding herself with rich but nasty people. Anyway, on the same day Abby's divorce comes through, her boss has a nasty fall and somehow convinces his younger and more successful brother to run his business for a while. Predictably, Tanner is a very attractive man who comes with more baggage than your average airport. He doesn't trust Abby one bit, but desperately wants to have sex with her. And from there, the novel descends into a string of steamy encounters while each tries to convince themselves that their not falling in love with the other, and each slowly sorts their life and their emotional baggage out. Of course, there's a humdinger of a misunderstanding, followed by the sweet taste of true love. And that's really it. 

There is never much depth to a book like this, but the author does a good job of delivering everything that a short, escapist novel like this one is supposed to. The leads are likeable (even when they're being quite irritating,) and there is lots and lots of sexual tension simmering in the background. And because this is a Mills & Boon imprint, the whole thing is done with a certain level of class that aspiring romance writers would do well to take note of--there is a reason why Mills & Boon is so successful.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Review: Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

Creepy, disturbing and in a class of it's own ... and that's just the blurb. Small Spaces is a novel that promises readers one heck of a ride. And it delivers. Oh, how it delivers ...

When she was eight years old, Tash Carmondy witnessed her imaginary, and very, very, nasty friend Sparrow abduct a younger girl at a carnival. Mallory was found a week later, but has been mute ever since and has no memory of her abduction. As for Tash, no one believed her about Sparrow. Branded an attention seeker, and after years of psychiatric treatment at the hands of bossy Dr Ingrid, she has come to accept that what she saw probably wasn't real. The only problem is that now both Mallory and Sparrow have returned to her small town and things are starting to get creepy. What really happened to Mallory? Are there supernatural forces at play, or is there something far more disturbing going on?

Small Spaces takes readers on a hell of a ride as Tash tries to work out what really happened on the day that Mallory was abducted. There are all kinds of clues--a strange aunt and a family feud, the way her parents keep watch and never quite trust her, the mean girl at school who gets a kick out of making fun of Tash and her neurosis who [[[spoiler alert]]] gets attacked after an argument with Tash, and also Mallory's older brother who takes a very keen interest in Tash. The author skilfully weaves the clues into the narrative, while also providing some relevant commentary on adolescent mental health and the need for people to listen to, and to understand kids, instead of branding their behaviour as attention seeking. I was annoyed that one character got off as lightly as she did, though it does (sadly) reflect what would most likely happen in real life. Older readers may clue in parts of the mystery early on, but there are enough red herrings to keep them wondering anyway.

A creepy but enjoyable read.

Recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Monday, 23 April 2018

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)



I spotted this on the corner of Hindmarsh Square a while back ... but it took me a long time to get a perfect shot. Love it--it's certainly fair more eye catching that your average traffic signal box!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Off Topic: My Crush Just Mentioned Their Boyfriend/Girlfriend ...

No, this didn't just happen to me. I'm actually not crushing on anyone at the moment, unless you count Alan Rickman's turn in Sense and Sensibility as Colonel Brandon, and even that is just one of those meaningless but pleasant fantasies. No, I'm writing this, because for about the billionth time I've just seen someone put this question online and it's one of those questions that really bothers me. 

And here is how I would like to answer the question:

If someone mentions their boyfriend or girlfriend while their in conversation with you, then the healthiest thing to assume is that they are talking about that person because they love them and because that person is a big part of their life. Maybe they're at a point in their life where they have just met this person who they think is completely amazing and they cannot believe how lucky they are that he or she wants to date them. They're so ecstatic that they just can't help talking about that person. Maybe that person is on their mind a lot.

Finally, it's probably not a reflection on you. Unless you make it obvious, your crush isn't going to know that you have a crush. Stop analysing, and stop asking yourself if you did something wrong. Because you probably didn't do anything. Just accept it for what it is and move on.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Review: The Looney Tunes Treasury by Andrew Farago

I'll confess, I've had this one on my bookshelf for a while now, since 2015 in fact, when it was first published in Australia and sold exclusively through Australia Post as part of their Classic Collectables range. For one reason or another, I never got around to reading it. I picked it out of my bookshelf the other day, intending to flick through a few pages ... and I found myself devouring this clever book in a single setting. Meticulously researched, this treasury presents itself as a collection of autobiographical essays and interviews with some of the most popular Looney Tunes characters of all time. Unsurprisingly, Bugs Bunny leads the charge with a flippant but informative interview, and Daffy Duck, who knows full well that he is the real star of Looney Tunes is rather jealous. Many of my other favourites are well represented and in character--Elmer J Fudd, Tweety and Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn and even that annoying amorous skunk, Pepe Le Pew. There are a few surprises along the way--it's a generational and geographical thing, but I associate the characters with the incarnations of The Bugs Bunny Show that aired in Australia on Channel 9 in the late 1980s and early 1990s and also which cartoons were available on VHS during that era. Obviously, the evolution of these cartoon shorts was quite different--they were originally theatrical releases that spanned over a period of many years and at the time were competing with cartoon shorts from both Disney and MGM. Anyway, it was quite interesting to hear about that evolution from the characters themselves.

This one is a lot of fun and it appropriate for readers of all ages.

Highly recommended. 


Friday, 20 April 2018

Friday Funnies: Grover, The Count and the Hot Dogs



You must watch this one to the end. This classic Sesame Street sketch has had a little extra added.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I'd heard of American author Jennifer Niven, but I'd never had the slightest inclination to pick up one of her books--the two that are currently in print in Australia are both YA titles that fall squarely into the unlikely high school romance category and I've read my fair share of books like that already. I only picked this one up because my local bookstore was having one of those buy two books from this table and you can get a third free promotion. It was one of those deals where the table had two books that I was itching to read, and this one looked nicer than some of the other titles available.

What I got was a YA novel about an unlikely high school romance.

Fortunately, this unlikely romance was written quite well. Jack is one of the popular kids. He can be a bit of a jerk at times, but he's not really a bully like some of the others he hangs around with. He's struggling with a surprising secret though--he cannot recognise other people's faces and this often lands him in trouble and he can sometimes do the wrong thing by someone without intending to. He has a horrible on-off relationship with a mean, manipulative girl from his class which only contributes to his problems.

Libby Stout, who is quite possibly the most unfortunately named character since Dickens, is attending high school for the first time. Three years ago, she was so overweight that she had to be cut out of her house by emergency services and taken to hospital. She's lost half of that weight and she's ready to tackle high school. And she's not going to take any nonsense from bullies--and they certainly try to cause trouble in her first few days at school. This leads to an unpleasant encounter with Jack, and the pair find themselves on a sort-of corrective behaviour programme at their school, which in turn leads the pair to becoming closer than what anyone expected.

This was an interesting take on the genre, which raises questions about identity, bullying and standing up for oneself. Although a little far-fetched in that special way that only American novels can be, this one delivers an interesting enough message to its target audience and to anyone else who cares to join in. I'd never heard of face-blindness, and found it quite interesting to read about Jack's struggles and the lengths that he goes to in order to hide it from his loved ones.

Recommended.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Review: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Self-belief and the changing nature of childhood friendships are the core themes of this quirky graphic novel. After seeing a Roller Derby demonstration, Astrid knows that this is something that she wants to get into--and better still, summer is coming and there is going to be a Roller Derby themed day camp happening in her town. Astrid signs up and assumes that her best friend Nicole will be signing up too--after all, the pair do everything together. Astrid gets an unpleasant surprise when she discovers that Nicole is going to attend ballet camp with Rachel, a mean girl from their class. And then she discovers that Roller Derby isn't anywhere near as easy as she first thought. This summer might just turn out to be the loneliest of all. 

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this short novel. I read it all in one sitting and found myself laughing and crying along with Astrid. She's not perfect, but being ditched by her best friend without warning was certainly a bitter pill for her to swallow. (As is the point where she realises that most--though perhaps not all--of Nicole's reasons were valid.) Actually, to be honest, I hated Nicole for not being upfront and for wanting to be the best friend of a horrid manipulator, but Astrid is able to resolve the situation with maturity ... eventually. 

I loved reading about how she devoted herself to her chosen sport and was able to develop new friendships with her teammates. There is a particularly touching part toward the end where it becomes obvious that she's learned more about being a better friend, and does something to help Zoey, a girl who might just become her new best friend. There are sound morals about having a strong work ethic and how if you want something, you have to be prepared to work for it. This one would be an excellent book to give to girls of a certain age, whose friendships are beginning to change.

Recommended.  

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited was such a winner for me that I knew I just had to go back and read Becky Albertali's first novel, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. And, even better, it turns out that the book has just been made into a film called Love, Simon which I really want to see at some point. Anyway, the book has just been re-released in Australia and it includes some bonus interviews behind the scenes movie content and a sneak peak at Albertalli's next novel Leah on the Offbeat which will be released in Australia on April 30. 

Anyway, the novel tells the story of Simon and how he falls in love with Blue, the person he has been exchanging email's with for the past few months. This is something of a big deal, because Simon is gay, but he isn't out to his family and friends (and it's not one of those stories where it turns out that everyone knows already--they're all completely clueless.) Even though Simon thinks that his loved ones will support him, it's still big and scary. And there are two other problems--he's being blackmailed by a fellow student who has found his emails, and that he has no idea who Blue is, apart from the fact that they go to the same school.

This was an interesting glimpse of the life of a sensitive and occasionally off beat teenager who is struggling to find himself. Simon's circle of friends made for an interesting group, his best mate Nick, the effervescent Abby who has only been at the school a few months and his BFF Leah who has a bit of attitude and is somewhat jealous of Abby. It also raises the issue of how gay or bisexual people come out--shouldn't they have the right to do so in their own way and on their own terms, and also, how come people who are straight don't have to declare their preference? Why is it just assumed. There is also another issue raised about assumptions that we make about people, but I can't reveal much of that without giving away spoilers.

Simon vs the Homo Sapien's Agenda is very definitely a YA novel that will have broad appeal from readers well outside of the target audience. It's topical, well written and a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to reading Leah on the Offbeat. The first chapter certainly suggests that there are some deeper truths behind Leah's behaviour.

Highly recommended. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Review: Jessi and the Mystery of the Stolen Secrets (BSC TV Series Episode 9)



We had to wait until episode nine for Jessi to get top billing, but it's worth the wait considering that Nicole Leach proves herself to be one of the more talented actors on the series. She was also one of the more experienced actors on the show, having previously appeared on several episodes of The Cosby Show and was a regular on a television series titled Shining Time Station. Much like Meghan Andrews who played Mallory, Nicole Leach is still a working actor. 

Within the Babysitters Club universe Jessi stories often featured a variety of social justice issues--the first novel to be narrated by Jessi had her learning sign language so that she could communicate with a character from the series who was deaf. In later books she would help a kid with a life threatening illness, apologise to a teacher who was being bullied and help a friend who was suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. Jessi was always portrayed as being fairly mature for her age, though it was obvious from her debut in the series that had to be that way. When she first moved to Stoneybrook she and her family encountered their fair share of prejudice as they were the only black family in town. She was also a talented ballerina, but feared that same prejudice may stop her from being cast in lead roles, as she explains to Mallory in Hello, Mallory. Of course, there is a bit of artistic licence at play with her character--in real life, even a very advanced eleven year old would not be able to have quite as many responsibilities and the same insight into people as Jessi did. Within the confines of a series that has strong messages about responsibility however, a character like Jessi is a perfect fit.

Anyway, Jessi and the Mystery of the Stolen Secrets touches on themes of responsibility. For once, Jackie Rodowski isn't the main sitting charge--that honour goes to Matt Broderick a boy of about eight or nine, who is deaf and one of Jessi's regular sitting charges. In this episode some top secret information about the Babysitters Club goes public, which leads to the girls jumping to conclusions before the truth is revealed--and both sides learn an important life lesson. 

I couldn't help but notice in this one that some of the kids looked a bit older, and wonder if there had been a break in filming between episodes. Sadly some of the actors, particularly the ones who played Claudia and Mary Anne, are beginning to look too old for the parts they played. I was also amused in one scene to discover that Claudia had a Goosebumps book in her bedroom, beside her Nancy Drew books. (Goosebumps being, of course, the other major series that was published by Scholastic during that era. Goosebumps would also get its own TV series a few years later.) Later in the library, Jessi and Mallory walk past a shelf filled with what looks like Babysitters Club books. (But they may have been other Scholastic titles I suppose ...)

Anyway, this was a fun though slightly predictable instalment in the series. The only part I really remember is where the girls thought that their headquarters may have been bugged ... 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Friday, 13 April 2018

Friday Funnies: Woah! A Blue Car



Just another classic Homer Simpson moment.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Review: One by Sarah Crossan

Told in short verse, One makes for compelling reading. Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, fused at the hip. They want what all teenagers want--to be loved and accepted. In some ways, they've become used to being stared at, though they wish that people wouldn't. But most of all, this past year has brought some huge challenges their way. Their father is unemployed and has developed a serious problem with alcohol abuse. Their mother is struggling to keep up with their medical expenses. Meanwhile, their younger sister, a talented ballerina, may be developing anorexia, and she might be missing out on a great number of opportunities because of a lack of family funds. Grace and Tippi know what they need to do to help out with their family's financial situation. But do they really want to sell their story and expose their lives to the world? 

This is the first time that I have read a YA novel told totally in verse and it made for a refreshing change. The story is told from the perspective of Grace, the quieter and more introspective of the pair, who often finds herself having to go along with what Tippi wants. And now that the pair are teenagers and are attending high school (the family situation means that they are no longer able to be home schooled, and they are offered a free education at a private school,) Grace begins to fall in love for the first time, something that Tippi objects to. As the end of the novel loomed, I found myself a little bit heartbroken as they bravely went about making a heart wrenching decision. The ending was quite different to what I expected, though it was handled realistically.

It's not difficult to understand why this novel won the Carnegie Medal. It's innovative and provides insight into the lives of two young women who are both ordinary and extraordinary.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Review: Two Generations by Anne Connor

When writer Anne Connor started researching her father's life, she made a surprising discovery. While her father, Jock, was serving in the Australian Army in 1943 his machine gun accidentally discharged and killed his friend. It was an incident that the family never spoke of, not even in the decades following his death. In Two Generations, Anne tells the story of her father, her mother, her family and of her own childhood, growing up in the shadow of the Second World War. 

This was a pleasing memoir comprising of a blend of Australian history, biography and some very personal stories. It brings to life the horrors of war and the impact it can have on families and their lives even many years after the war is supposedly over. Ultimately, it's a very personal story for one family, but something that is also well and truly worth reading.

Recommended. 

Thank you to Ventura Press for my reading copy of Two Generations.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Monday, 9 April 2018

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)



I spotted this giant clothes peg in Hindmarsh Square recently. Cool!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Overprotective Richard Spier (A Baby-Sitters Club Nostalgia Post)

I have been writing a lot of Baby-sitters Club nostalgia posts recently. I did a few when I first started writing this blog, and in recent times, I've started writing them again. The reasoning is pretty simple--those books were a huge part of my life during my pre-teen years and, consequently, I remember the books quite well. (Especially as I read many of them more than once.) One of the strange things about revisiting things from my childhood, though, is that I tend to look at them with a more well, discerning eye. It's easier to see the flaws, but I loved the books so much that I really don't care that the main characters seemingly repeated eighth grade several times over or that we're supposed to believe that their adventures included winning the lottery (well, okay, they won second prize which was just enough to cover the cost seven airline tickets to California,) being shipwrecked on an island (okay, Claudia and Dawn were shipwrecked,) and well, you get the idea.

One thing that always stood out in the series, though, was Mary Anne's family situation. Of all the characters, her situation is undeniably the saddest. Her mother passed away when she was only a baby, and her father, though a caring man is a hardworking lawyer with his own firm who has little time to spend with his daughter. When the series opens, we learn that Mary Anne is the character who has to return home from club meetings to an empty house, and who occasionally has to rely on Claudia's grandmother, Mimi, for guidance. Mary Anne is portrayed as being fairly quiet and shy. Initially, the books were intended to be a four part series, with Mary Anne Saves the Day as the final instalment. It is fitting that Mary Anne should go last, as out of all the characters, she initially seems to be the least mature. She is portrayed as a bit of a cry baby, and even comes across as a little bit scared of Claudia and Stacey. In the first three novels, we learn that though he is often absent, Richard Spier, also somewhat overprotective of his daughter. His many rules include a restrictive dress code for his daughter, one that seems almost laughable by contemporary standards--Mary Anne must always wear dresses or skirts, and penny loafers and her hair must be styled in two braids. In 1987, when the book was initially released, Mary Anne's outfits probably would have been considered a bit childish (I think the word babyish is used in the book.) In this era, fashion for preteens was all about bold and bright colours. It would have been quite typical for a twelve year old girl to wear jeans and a big, colourful sweater, while penny loafers and braids would not have looked out of place on a girl of about eight.

Mary Anne Saves the Day tells the story of how Mary Anne finds a way to stand up to her father, in between two other main plots of how she gets caught in a fight with the other members of the BSC and makes a new friend when Dawn moves to Stoneybook. (Eventually, Mary Anne settles the fight with the other girls, and introduces Dawn to the BSC.) As the series continues, we watch as Mary Anne grows and changes, eventually becoming the most mature and emotionally stable member of the BSC, though she remains prone to tears on more than one occasion. It is, arguably,  one the best of the early books, and perhaps a turning point in the series, because we see the club expand for the first time and there is a hint that Mary Anne's family situation may change. It also contains the first hint that Mary Anne and Kristy's friendship is going to change and that this pair of childhood friends may be growing apart. Later, of course, both girls move out of Bradford Court and into new homes and new family sitauations. Dawn becomes Mary Anne's best friend and stepsister, while Kristy finds a friend in her new neighbour Shannon and later a best friend in Abby, the last of the main characters to join the series.

Going back to Mr Spier, and his role as the overprotective dad in Mary Anne Saves the Day, what on earth would inspire any parent to enforce such a strict dress code on his child? As the story unfolds, the reader is left with the impression that Mr Spier is quite a good-hearted man. We learn that he came from a poor background, worked his way through college and then law school, became a successful lawyer who has his own firm, and was left devastated when his wife died from cancer when Mary Anne was still a baby. His background, and the fact that he is now a widower leads him to become fearful that someone will try to take his daughter away, so he went a little overboard trying to make his daughter appear as prim and proper as possible. But why a dress code? 

At a guess, I'd say that it was something that readers in the target audience could understand. It gives us a chance to know that Mary Anne's father is overprotective, but in a stuffy and well meaning kind of a way, rather than there being any hint that he is a mean and/or bitter man. It means that readers in the target audience can hate him--or perhaps laugh at him a little--without actually fearing the character. It means we can cheer for both Mary Anne and her father, when they finally reconcile. Another thing I was left with a sense of is that Mr Spier doesn't make decisions based on what other parents do--he makes them based on what he thinks is sensible.

Later in the series we learn that there is more to the story of Mary Anne and her father. It's such an important development for the character that is surprises me that it was made a story in the spin-off Mystery Series rather than being a book in the main series. We learn that after the death of his wife, a grieving Richard makes a rash decision to allow Mary Anne to live with her mother's parents Iowa. It is a decision that he later regrets and quite deeply so, though it takes quite a heartbreaking legal battle for him to regain custody of his daughter, and the fallout is such that Mary Anne never sees or visits her grandparents again, until after the death of her grandfather. This visit is mentioned briefly at the end of Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic, and in detail in Mary Anne's instalment in the Portrait Collection.

As faithful readers of the series will know, Mary Anne's father married Dawn's mother in Mary Anne and the Great Romance. The pair were opposites, and loved one another because of their differences, but this often made things hard on the kids, who had to get used to being part of such an eccentric family, with Mary Anne and Richard staying firmly on the sensible side of things, and Dawn, Sharon and Jeff, wanting a more laid back lifestyle. Dawn later left for California to live with her dad and Jeff, but not before she and Mary Anne had a number of disagreements as they tried to settle in to their new situations. Sadly the series would end with the old farmhouse where the family lived burning down, and Mary Anne realising that, yet again, she would have to get used to a new home and situation. 

Interestingly, a few years ago, Mary Anne Saves the Day was one of the novels that was developed into a graphic novel. The author does a fantastic job of capturing the character and her tricky relationship with her overprotective father. Later again, this was one of the BSC novels that had parts very gently rewritten by the authors. (The plot and narrative remain the same, but apparently the author and publisher decided to remove references to outdated technology to give the series a more timeless feel.) I haven't read the updated version, but I would be interested to know if there were any changes made to Mary Anne's clothing ...

Friday, 6 April 2018

Friday Funnies


Thursday, 5 April 2018

Review: The Wonder Down Under by Dr Nina Brochmann & Ellen Støkken Dahl

A little cheeky, a little classy and entirely honest is this guide to the female anatomy. Too often, the female genitals are considered to be a taboo subject, which can lead to silly and awkward nicknames and a lack of understanding about what is--and what is not--normal. In this guide, the authors tell readers the truth about the female anatomy in an effort to help women make smart and empowering choices about their personal and sexual health. 

Originally published in Norway, The Wonder Down Under became so popular that it has now been published in English for the first time. I really appreciated the factual and friendly way that this one was written--it's definitely suitable for women (and men) from a wide range of backgrounds. 

Recommended.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Review: Growing Up in Moonta by Kristen Weidenbach

Located on the Yorke Penninsula, Moonta was once the copper capital of Australia. Scores of miners from Cornwall settled in the town and bringing with it a rich identity. Even today, many South Australians associate the town with Cornish pasties, the Kernewek and the term 'Cousin Jack From Down Under.' In Growing Up in Moonta, historian Kristen Weidenbach tells of her family and their rich history with the small town. Most of the stories have been handed down to her by her father, Neil, who grew up in the town.

This was an enjoyable read and painted an interesting portrait of life in Moonta, particularly after the closure of the mines. Like all families, the one in this book had their ups and downs, but everything is told with warmth and humour. 

An enjoyable read.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Monday, 2 April 2018

Review: Claudia and the Secret Passage (BSC TV Series Episode 8)

For some reason, I remember this episode of the BSC a lot more clearly than some of the others, even though I'm pretty sure that I only viewed it the once, when it aired in Australia on Channel 2 (now better known as ABC1.) I think I just enjoyed Claudia and Janine's bickering. Now here's a random fact about Claudia: she's the only member of the BSC to be the youngest child. All of the others are the oldest child (Dawn, Mallory, Jessi,) the only child (Stacey and Mary Anne,) or they are the middle child (Kristy.) I think for that reason, I always felt a tiny bit of solidarity with Claudia. 

Claudia and the Secret Passage opens with the girls from the BSC, along with Mal and Jessi's little sisters Vanessa and Becca, working hard on a storyboard titled "Stoneybrook through the years" which is to be displayed at the local library. To keep the board safe before they can present it to the library, Dawn decides to keep it in the secret passage that leads off her bedroom. (Fans of the books will be familiar with Dawn's secret passage. They also may be disappointed to know that in this version, the secret passage leads to an attic, rather than a barn.) Anyway, Claudia is helping Dawn with the storyboard when, inside the attic, she discovers a note detailing a feud between two sisters. As always, the girls come up with some extremely inventive scenarios involving the feud (and, later, the ring they discover in the attic.)

Meanwhile, Claudia is at war with Janine, who is acting like a pompous so-and-so because she worried about a college application. In the heat of one such argument Janine tells Claudia what facts she and the BSC have wrong about the note. This ultimately leads to the discovery of the ring, and a pair of fifty-something sisters whose relationship is not unlike that of Claudia and Janine. In turn this leads to Claudia and Janine making up and attending a special BSC sisters event. 

As I said at the beginning of this review, I remember this one fairly well, though I am not sure why. There are a couple of goofs--how come Stacey, Jessi and Dawn all star in the Stoneybrook through the years poster when they all have only arrived in town in the last eighteen months?