Friday, 16 October 2020

Curiosity Show: Sand Dunes


Just wanted to share this wonderful clip from The Curiosity Show that talks about sand dunes. As regular followers of this blog will be aware, The Curiosity Show was a children's television programme from the 1980s that was filmed here in South Australia that introduced a number of important scientific concepts to viewers. Although targeted at children in their middle and upper years of primary school, many of the segments can be appreciated by viewers of all ages.

PS I'm keen to know where the shots of the dunes were taken at the beginning and end of the clip?

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Review: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl
is the forth novel that I have read in the Hograth Shakespeare series and it is the best yet. A modern day retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, author Anne Tyler takes us to contemporary America. Kate Battista spends her days working at a job that she hates and is ill-suited to, and her evenings being a sort-of live in housekeeper for her eccentric scientist father and her bratty teenage sister. With no friends and no relationship prospects she drifts through life feeling unappreciated. Then, suddenly, her father has a strange proposal. He wants her to marry his Russian lab assistant Pyotr, so that he can stay in the country. And then Pyotr begins a charming and eccentric campaign to win the bitter Kate's heart ...

This was an entertaining social comedy served with a lot of heart. Kate is as bitter as bitter can be, but from the moment that the blunt but always well meaning Pyotr appears on the page, it is obvious that the pair are a perfect match--even if their relationship doesn't really develop under normal circumstances. The author has a lot to say about the pressures that men often have placed on them to not express their feelings or concerns. On a similar note, there is a moral to the story that just because some people don't discuss or express their feelings in a way that is deemed socially acceptable does not mean that those feelings do not exist. Bunny provides an interesting contrast to the bitter Kate, but it is Pyotr who truly steals every scene he is in. 

Short enough to be read in one of two sittings, this one is a lot of fun and very entertaining. 

Highly recommended. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Review: Rural Dreams by Margaret Hickey

The Australian rural landscape can be harsh, beautiful and often isolating. In her debut collection of short stories, Margaret Hickey explores this landscape and the many people and unique situations within. There's the footballer who leaves the city behind to go home every weekend, the terminally ill mother who thinks that the Gold Coast is the best place in the world and who has trouble seeing eye-to-eye with her Melbourne born and bred daughter-in-law, and a bloke who just likes birds who arouses suspicion in others. 

Author Margaret Hickey's talent lies not only in creating believable characters and situations, but adding some kind of a twist to the story that, while always unexpected, is nearly always fitting. A particular highlight for me, however, was Mind Your Language, about a single mum who swears often but who quite beautifully teaches the school principal a thing or two about politeness. 

Overall this is an enjoyable collection, with an eclectic mix of characters and situations.


This book was read for the Aussie Author Challenge 2020.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Review: Wonder Woman Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson and Leila Del Duca


When I learned that Laurie Halse Anderson had author a graphic novel staring a teenage Wonder Woman, I just knew that I had to buy it. Add to that the fact that it is beautifully illustrated by Leila Del Duca, and the whole thing is a winner.

Like other graphic novels in DC's latest series for young adult readers, this one is a origin story, about the days before Diana Prince took on the alias of Wonder Woman to carry out her work. Diana is living peacefully on Thermyscira, under the watchful eye of her mother, when her intervention with some refugees who are caught in a storm lead her to being lost and placed in an immigration detention camp a long way from home. Fortunately, her knowledge of languages and compassion for others soon leads her to catching the eye of an official, and she finds herself in the USA on a student visa. But there, when trying to help some poverty stricken families, she discovers that something terribly sinister is going on. And she must put a stop to it.

A confronting read in places this one pulls no punches as it reinvents Diana Prince as a teenager with an overwhelming amount of compassion. The story is beautifully illustrated, depressing in places, but ultimately, there's a sense of who this young woman will become. 

Although I loved this one, it will probably be the last I read in the series for a while, as they really are intended for a younger audience, and parts of the story--while entertaining--may have greater relevance to teenager readers, for example Diana's sense that she doesn't truly belong on Thermyscira.  

On the whole though, Tempest Tossed it is an entertaining read, written for the right reasons and it delivers everything that is promised on the back cover. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Review: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Arguably the best of Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels, Equal Rites introduces readers to his beloved character Granny Weatherwax, and what a spectacular ride this book is. (And no, unlike Granny's broom, you won't need to give it a jump start.)

The third Discworld novel opens with a surprising conundrum. In Discworld, the eighth son of an eighth son is always a wizard. In the town of Bad Ass, wizard Drum Billet is waiting to pass on his staff and power to a boy who has just been born. A lot of arrogance and sexism goes on in Discworld and as a consequence, Drum fails to check that the baby is in fact, a boy, and unintentionally passes on his staff and power to a baby girl named Eskarina or Esk for short. The Discworld has its first female wizard, and no one quite knows what to do with her.

What follows is an entertaining ride as Granny Weatherwax, the local witch tries to guide and help Esk find her place in the world and, hopefully, challenge a few stuffy old wizards along the way. As always, Pratchett is at his best when he's sending up human nature and well, everything else that is just so terribly, terribly human. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments. Parts of this novel work better than the first two Discworld novels, and I found the change in lead characters--from Rincewind to Granny Weatherwax--to be quite refreshing. The underlying message about sexism and gender equality is weaved in perfectly with the often humorous and occasionally violent situations that  Esk and Granny Weatherwax find themselves in.

Overall, a marvellous, memorable read.

Highly recommended.