Thursday, 30 April 2020

Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

How well do you really know those closest to you? Jess, Liz, Mel and Charlotte all met ten years ago when they were expecting their first child and have been good friends ever since. Then, one night Jess brings her baby into Emergency with a serious injury and a story that doesn't quite add up. To complicate matters, the paediatrician on duty is Jess ... and she is duty bound to call an investigation. But Liz wouldn't hurt her child ... would she?

This novel explores notions of motherhood, friendship and duty, while gently and slowly drip feeding the reader bits of information until revealing a surprising but unsavoury truth.

This was a page turner with plenty of cliffhanger chapters and shifting perspectives. From the beginning I had no idea what the truth was behind baby Betsey's injuries and the reveal at the end certainly surprised me and, if I am going to be honest, left me a bit shaken.


Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy of Little Disasters

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

1990s Nostalgia

I'm pretty sure I have shared this clip on my blog a time or two before. It hit the Australian music charts in early 1992 and got a lot of airplay, particularly on SA-FM which was the cool radio station of the day. Anyway, my parents hated SA-FM and they hated this song even more, considering it shouty, unoriginal and repetitive. I remember feeling like such a rebel one day, at age ten, for sitting outside, on the back of a Toyota Light Stout that had become a fixture in my parent's backyard and listening to this song on a transistor radio. Good times. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Review: Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

Have you ever picked up a book with low expectations and then been completely blown away by just how good it was, and then read it cover to cover in just a few hours? That was my experience with Please See Us, a psychological thriller about the victims of a serial killer, and the two very different women who try to solve the crime.

Set during summer in Atlantic City, the author paints a bleak picture of Clara, a young woman with psychic abilities who works on a stand with her aunt, a woman who should most definitely not be trusted to look after a teenage girl. Contrasting against Clara is Lily, an artist who has returned home from New York City after experiencing heartbreak and a cruel humiliation. Chance throws the pair together, but they soon find themselves trying to discover what may have happened to Julie, a young woman who is missing, and who may be in Atlantic city. From there, things take a chilling twist ...

This was a fast paced novel, set against a bleak landscape but packed full of characters who I felt a lot of sympathy for. As well as Clara and Lily, there is Luis, a man with a disability who has suffered bullying and discrimination from the local community his whole life and whose talents have gone largely unnoticed, causing him to turn to some desperate until he takes desperate measures to be seen. Then, of course, there are the Janes, the victims of the serial killer, each of whom have their own story. The storytelling itself is gritty, and the author does not shy away from describing the violence and abuse that many of the characters suffer at the hands of others, which is, difficult to read, but written in a way that is compelling and does nothing to glorify those acts.


Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy of Please See Us.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Curiosity Show: Phosphenes and Blind Spot Illusions

Another interesting clip from the Curiosity Show.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

1980s Nostalgia

I am sharing this clip, because it is almost impossible to listen to this song without smiling. According to YouTube Pop Muzik was one of the earliest new wave songs to make an impact on the music charts.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Review: Yellow Notebook by Helen Garner

As many readers would already be aware through some of her previous works, beloved Australian author Helen Garner often kept a diary. For the first time, the content of some of those diaries has been published. Yellow Notebook features extracts from her diaries covering the years 1978 to 1987.

Initially when I heard about this I was a little cynical. Was Garner trying to play at being Anais Nin? Fortunately not. Yellow Notebook is very much all her own, an eclectic mix of thoughts of the authors thoughts and experiences and carefully edited so not to invade the privacy of others. 

There is little I can offer of critique of this one--how can anyone critique a diary after all--though every entry was beautifully and lovingly written. The author's deep level of empathy shows on every page, regardless of whether she is describing mundane day to day activities, tragic stories that she has seen or heard on the news or various activities in her own life.


Note: I wrote the original review in late 2019, but for one reason or another it did not post, which is slightly embarrassing, given that the date can be seen in the photograph above.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Review: A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs

Temperance Brennan is recovering from neurosurgery and trying to cope with a difficult supervisor when she finds herself mixed up in a case involving mysterious text messages and a corpse that is void of any identifiable features. And while she is keen to discover the identity of the dead man, her investigations will uncover some surprising links to some unresolved cases that involve missing children.

I have a confession to make, this is actually the first Kathy Reichs novel I have ever read. I can recall seeing a few episodes of Bones (the television series that was based on the books,) but even that was some time ago. So unlike the many, many fans of the author and series, I came into this one with very little knowledge of the character and setting. Fortunately, Reichs is the kind of author who gives readers just enough explanation to let them know what is going on without it getting in the way of the story. 

The central mystery--the discovery of a corpse that cannot be identified--intrigued me greatly and I found myself relating it in places to a similar event that happened in Adelaide many years ago, known locally as the Somerton Man (read more here.) I was surprised and (is delighted the right word,) to discover a note at the end of the book from the author in which she disclosed that parts of the plot were indeed inspired by the Somerton Man. 

This is a fast and intelligent ripper of a crime novel and one that had me intrigued enough to want to go back and read the series from the beginning.


Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy of A Conspiracy of Bones.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Kathryn's Random Trivia

Random trivia: War hero Nancy Wake stood as a candidate for the Liberal Party in three separate elections, in three separate decades. She was never elected, but in 1966 missed out by just 250 votes.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Review: Cocktail Time by PG Wodehouse

Wodehouse's beloved Uncle Fred, or Earl of Ickenham as he is also known, is back in London and causing trouble for well, everyone. And it all begins when Uncle Fred convinces his grouchy in-law, Sir Raymond Bastible to write Cocktail Time, a scandalous paperback that the critics hate and every person in England is desperate to read. And now Bastible wishes to run for Parliament and wants no one to know that he is the author ... From there begins an unpredictable comic adventure as a number of characters find their lives impacted by the publication of the book, from the insipid nephew who is hired to pretend to be the author, a literary agent who just happens to be Bastible's ex-girlfriend and a pair of confidence tricksters from the United States who can see a chance in there to make money somehow. Meanwhile, other characters are having a few dramas of their own ... and it may just be the man who started it all (and a certain book,) who can solve things.

This was an entertaining and lighthearted read, though it doesn't really reach the classic status that has been attained by many other Wodehouse novels. As always there are some clever turns over phrase and some jolly entertaining but over the top situations. Fans of Jeeves and Wooster will be amused to see that both the Drones Club and Sir Roderick Glossop both get a mention in this one.

Overall, a fun read though perhaps not terribly memorable.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

1980s Nostalgia: The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star

Video Killed the Radio Star was old by the time I first heard it (when I was about eight, and got told to look at the TV because, apparently, the little girl in the clip looked just like me,) but it is one of those songs that isn't forgotten in a hurry. It is generally considered to be an "eighties" song, though as you can see at the end of the clip, it was actually released in 1979.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Picking up shortly after the events of Crown of Midnight, the third instalment in the Throne of Glass series finds Celaena in Wendlyn, now aware of her past and with a new enemy--her ruthless aunt Maeve who has sent her best servant Rowan to test her magical abilities. And the relationship between Celaena and Rowan certainly isn't friendly. Meanwhile, back at the castle, Chaol is preparing his own graceful exit from the castle, but one of the King's guards has a few surprises in store. Dorian is falling in love with a very unlikely lady, who has a secret of her own. And we also meet a new character and a new story arc, Manon a witch who is part of a coven who will serve the king.

Packed with characters, a little romance, this one branches out a bit further than the two previous novels in the series, introducing new concepts and characters, though it can feel overlong in places. (Manon, for example felt like a distraction, though I suspect that she will become pivotal to the series later on.) It takes a while for the plot to come together, though the ending is satisfying enough, and steers readers well toward the next instalment in the series. I would be interested to see how this one compares to Sarah J Maas' other big series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, which many other readers seem to be raving about.

Oh, and expect to love the explanation behind the title.

Overall, a solid read, but perhaps a little overlong. 

Sunday, 12 April 2020

It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown!

Wishing you all a happy and safe Easter!

Friday, 10 April 2020

Curiosity Show: Lifting an Ice Cube Magically

Another great clip from the Curiosity Show.

Ps You can view heaps of these on their YouTube Channel.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

1990s Nostalgia

This week, I'm fast-forwarding to the late 1990s with this clip from the New Radicals. You Get What You Give was released in Australia in early 1999, or at least it got on the charts about then, and it became something of a theme song of mine. I was seventeen years old, and I had just started year twelve, which would prove to be a horrible experience in more ways than one. Something about this song touched me--maybe it was the rebelliousness of it, the fun of getting one up on the adults, or it could the title--and it became something of a personal theme song that helped me through a lonely time.

I think a lot of teenagers embrace music because it makes them feel less lonely. For one, music doesn't judge or point out their faults--unlike their family, their teachers and their peers. Music is often about finding the songs one likes, and it becomes possible to connect with others who like the same songs. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Did you know ...  the word 'Bondmaid' was discovered to be missing from early editions of the Oxford English Dictionary? (Read more here.) In The Dictionary of Lost Words, Adelaide author Pip Williams expertly weaves this into the story of a little girl who steals the word and keeps it, along with many other words that were discarded by the men tasked with sorting through the entries for the dictionary. Unsurprisingly, many of these words pertain to the experiences of women. Esme spends a good chunk of her childhood in the Scriptorium, a place that has an almost romantic edge to it for lovers of words but was, in fact, a garden shed in Oxford where various men were tasked with collecting words that were sent to them for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary. When she is young, Esme is welcomed there, and spends much of her time collecting words, but as she grows older, her presence is tolerated less and less, until she is eventually sent away to school and discovers the harsh realities of being a middle class woman in England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. 

This is a well written story of women's suffrage. It is also a well written story of words. But most important of all, it is a story of how both of those themes intersect, of how some words are considered to be more important than others, and who got to decide, and how. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. I felt that the author demonstrated not only a genuine love for the subject matter, but for her character as well. 

Highly recommended.

Thank you to Affirm Press for my ARC of The Dictionary of Lost Words

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2020

Monday, 6 April 2020

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

Friday, 3 April 2020

Friday Funnies: Rock-Paper-Chop!

Just a short Looney Tunes clip this week. I'm sure anyone who has ever played Paper-Scissors-Rock with someone who cheats will be able to identify!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

1990s Nostalgia

I'm sharing another awesome Spin Doctors clip this week, Two Princes. Classic song. I can still remember buying the album (A Pocket Full of Kryptonite) from Big Star Records in Norwood, a big deal as not only was it one of the first albums that I ever purchased. It still sits proudly in my collection and I play it sometimes. ☺️