Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Review: The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

Hapless, upper-class twit Bertrum Wilberforce Wooster, or Bertie as he prefers to be known, is back along with his butler Jeeves, in what is, chronologically, the second Jeeves and Wooster collection. And the whole thing is glorious. Wodehouse doesn't hold back on his observations about Britain's idle rich, and the story is better for it as we watch Bertie and his associates bumble their way through various whims, courtships and find themselves beholden to interfearing and bossy aunts. Luckily, Jeeves is always there to save the day, and to help Bertie dodge many a bullet.

In this collection are many classic Jeeves and Wooster stories, and characters and situations that fans will immediately find familiar--hands up who remembers Rosie M Banks? Or what about Bingo who always seems to fall in love with a different girl at the drop of a hat? And then there is Bertie's trip to America where he finds himself caught up with a chap who is desperate to join the theatre. (In fact, these particular Jeeves and Wooster stories are so beloved by fans that they were used in various episodes of the Jeeves and Wooster TV series. Find out more here and here.) Oh, and I probably should mention the cats. For anyone who hasn't read this classic collection yet, please keep an eye out for the cats.

Overall, this is comedy at its best.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Review: To All the Boys I've Ever Loved Before by Jenny Han

Some books made very good movies. Some books are a very good fit for their intended audience. . To All the Boys I've Ever Loved Before is one of those books. It tells the story of Laura Jean Song Covey, the middle of the three Song Girls, sisters who belong to a family of mixed Korean and European ancestry and who were born and raised in the United States. Things are changing for the Song girls, oldest sister Margot is off to study in Scotland and has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend, Josh. Laura Jean and youngest sister Kitty are struggling to keep up with the changes in their household (which is amplified by the fact that their mother died some years ago,) and the loss of not only Margot but Josh as well. And then Laura Jean finds herself with a huge problem--see, she's written a letter to every boy that she has ever had a crush on and she keeps the letters in a hat box. But one day, the letters are mailed out and soon Laura finds herself learning some valuable life lessons ...

As far as being a very good fit for it's intended audience, To All the Boys I've Ever Loved Before is a real winner. Laura Jean is an easy character to identify with, as are the themes of change, what happens when a sibling moves out, and teenage crushes. The only trouble is that it has nothing to offer anyone outside of that intended audience, which is problematic if only for the fact that it has received so much hype after the Netflix adaption came out and the film tie-edition of the book was prominently displayed in every bookshop that I've been inside for the past six months. Consequently, I'm feeling a little bit grouchy and short changed for something that really isn't the fault of the author. 

Overall, I thought that it was a sweet story, but it really wasn't anything that I hadn't read before.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Review: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson

Many of you will no doubt already be aware of cartoonist Sarah Anderson and her Sarah Scribbles webcomic. For those of you who don't, the comics are a fun meditation on life, what it means to be an introvert and the silly hypocritical things that we all do that may or may not serve in our best interests. Adulthood is a Myth is her first comic collection. 

The comics included in this collection focus on themes of expectations versus reality, as what it means to be an adult in contemporary western society. It's a book about wasting an entire weekend on the internet, the desire to go home and be in ones pyjamas and the often excessive way introverts can analyse every single thing that happens to them in public.

It's fun, it's truthful and to be honest, it got on my nerves on occasions for being perhaps a bit too relatable, though the journey was most definitely worth it. I also quite liked the felt cover and the clever irony of something we normally relate to picture books for small children being on a book about adulthood.

Recommended. 

Friday, 26 April 2019

Review: Spectrum of Scarlett Tanner by Elizabeth Calder

What a refreshing, ripper of a read Spectrum of Scarlett Tanner proved to be. Scarlett is a secret agent, living a double life. As far as the general public--and her husband--know, she is the doting wife of the Premier of South Australia. What fewer people know is that she is actually a secret agent with multiple identities who works for Spectrum, a powerful global organisation. When her two worlds begin to collide, Scarlett finds herself on a thrill a minute adventure with multiple twists and turns and potentially deadly consequences ...

This book was one hundred percent fun. The pacing is quite fast, though the author allows us time to get to know Scarlett and her unusual circumstances. Her double life was a lot of fun to read about, however, what was really pleasing was the fact that Scarlett wasn't portrayed as a bored and unappreciated housewife who became an assassin for kicks. Instead, the author shows a woman who truly is living a double life--she loves her husband, but she has lived the life of an assassin.

Recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

ANZAC Day








LEST WE FORGET

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Review: The Book of Dreams by Nina George

The Book of Dreams is a story of family, friendships and the importance of making peace with ones past. While on his way to meet his thirteen-year-old son for the first time, Harry Skinner rescues a girl from drowning, and is hit by a car a few moments later. Rushed to hospital, he is placed in a coma, where he soon begins to have vivid dreams which allow him to relive and relearn some of the stories that helped to shape (or not) his life. Meanwhile, his former girlfriend Eddie keeps a close watch--as does his son Sam. Over time Sam, who has some very special gifts, builds a relationship with Eddie, and finds a very special kinship with his father, and another with Madelyn, a girl in a coma.

This one is an exceptionally difficult book to review. It asks some deep existential questions, offers some surprising, though wholly intelligent answers and is well, as slow as one would reasonable expect a book about a coma patient and his dreams and understanding of life to be. There are also themes of repetition which anyone who has made repeat visits to a loved on in hospital will understand. And I really don't know if I liked it, loved it or hated it. Suffice to say that the characters are all very human and the story had me asking some deep questions.

The Book of Dreams was originally published in German as Das Traumbook.

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


Monday, 22 April 2019

Special Announcement: About a Girl by Kathryn White




Exciting news! It's been a long, long time coming but finally, I'm releasing a new novella. The title is About a Girl and it tells the story of Callie Taylor, a nineteen year old who eloped with her high school sweetheart and then broke up with him on the same day. The blurb is below:

When Callie Taylor was eighteen she eloped with her high school sweetheart. Then they broke up. On the same day. And they never told anyone that they were married.

Almost a year later, Bill Darcy is back, living in the house next door and caring for his recently-orphaned sister. And he's determined to win Callie back.

Over the course of a single day, Callie finds herself learning some huge life lessons as she struggles to reconcile her head with her heart. Can she forgive Bill? Or, more importantly, does she even want to?

I'm really excited for this one, and not only because it is the first time that I've released a book as both an eBook AND in paperback since 2015. Callie is a wonderful character and she's certainly had more than her fair share of struggles, as I hope you'll soon discover when you read the book. There are some really fun supporting characters--I just love Callie's well-meaning but wacky mum.

About a Girl releases on the first of June. The pre-order links for the eBook are already up on Amazon and Smashwords. You can find About a Girl here:





Or check in with your favourite eBook retailer. Paperbacks should be available on the first of June. 

Friday, 12 April 2019

Friday Funnies


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

The opening pages make the plot of this book clear. It's about an ambitious young woman who has a crush on her sexy-but-mean-and-arrogant boss. And faster than the reader can shout, "Workplace sexual harassment!" Bennett has his wicked way with Chloe in the boardroom. And then he steals her panties. Oh and theres lots more hot and steamy sex, underwear thefts and somehow, despite an epic tiff somewhere toward the end the pair end up together and get their happily ever after. 

And that's really it. The whole thing is void of character development, meaningful dialogue or any shades of realism. I was about to write the whole thing off completely when, thanks to the bio of the authors at the back of the book, I made a surprise discovery. Much like a certain other popular erotic romance, Beautiful Bastard had started life as Twilight fanfiction. (Because you know, there's nothing like taking a chaste romance that was written by a devout Mormon and intended for fourteen year olds, and dropping the characters into an adult setting with lots of steamy love scenes. One wonders what's next? The Erotic Adventures of Inspector Gadget: Sex Robot?) Anyway, this one wasn't for me, but it may appeal to anyone looking for a light and steamy read.



Saturday, 6 April 2019

Review: Batman The TV Stories

When SBS started showing repeats of the 1960s TV series of Batman, I never expected to get hooked. Nor did I expect just how zany--and just how camp--these old episodes could be. Batman the TV Stories goes back in time and collects the comics that helped to inspire the TV show. From the Joker to Mr Freeze, many of Batman and Robin's main adversaries are here, as are some of the bizarre crimes that made their way onto the show. The final comic showcases the debut of Batgirl, who, of course was created with the show and its declining ratings in mind.

Unlike the TV series, the comics are deadly serious and are aimed squarely at an audience of twelve year olds. They're entertaining and a lot of fun, but for me, they soon became boring after a while. I suppose I'd already seen the same stories played out on TV and told in a way that was funnier than these comics ever intended to be. Still its a good trip through history and there is a lot of nostalgia here for Batman fans.


Friday, 5 April 2019

Review: The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Reading is an excellent way to become educated. Before picking up my copy of The Island of Sea Woman I was scarcely aware of the Korean island of Jeju and the proud tradition of the haenyeo. This book changed all of that for me. 

The novel opens in 2008 with an old woman going about her work on the beach. It soon becomes obvious that Young-sook and her companions are something of a tourist attraction--something that she does not welcome. Even less welcome is the family of tourist who soon begin to pester her with questions. When Janet an American woman of Korean heritage insists that Young-sook must have known her grandmother, a diver named Mi-ja, Young-sook knows that she must leave--and fast.

Moving back in time to 1938, the novel reveals that Young-sook and Mi-ja did indeed know one another. One was the daughter of a well-respected haenyeo, the other the daughter of a man who had helped the Island's enemy--the Japanese. Despite her tainted past, Mi-ja is accepted and loved by Young-sook's mother and the two girls are best friends and in many ways raised like sisters. But the era--World War Two, followed closely by the Korean War, are turbulent times for the island and it's people, and eventually, during the darkest moment in the island's history, one of these women will commit the ultimate act of betrayal.

There is a lot on this novel--a lot of history, a lot of strong women and a lot of sadness. Some moments made me laugh, many more made me teary. I loved the insight into the unique culture--where the women are the hunters, engaging in dangerous work, while the men look after the children. It's a long read, but it is also engaging--don't sit down with the intention of reading just a chapter, you'll easily read over a hundred pages like I did and almost ended up late for work. 

Overall, this one is quite well done and should appeal to a broad audience.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC.