Friday, 23 June 2017

Best of Kathryn's Instagram




In honour of Garfield's birthday, my Instagram post for this week has a Garfield theme. I love this mug, my brother bought it for me when I was nine, and I still have it all these years later.

Happy 39th Birthday Garfield. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

There has been no rain in Kiewarra--a small town in Victoria inhabited with people with equally small minds--for two years. The town is also home to a shocking murder, three members of the Hadler family have been shot dead, with baby Charlotte the only survivor. Luke Hadler is the main suspect in this apparent murder-suicide, but when his former best mate Aaron Falk returns town for the funeral, it soon becomes obvious that there is more to the situation than what meets the eye ...

The Dry is an intriguing novel that goes between the present--telling the story of the search for the real killer--and the past--telling the story of the tragic events that led Falk to leave town in the first place. His return is not a welcome one, and the twists of who might be responsible for what, and who Luke Hadler really was, lead the reader on a journey full of twists, read herrings and, eventually, answers.

This one is extremely well written and may be well worth a read for the writing alone. It's not the kindest depiction of life in small town Australia, but it is certainly intriguing. Fan's of Joy Dettman's Mallawindy will love this one.

Recommended.

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

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Why I am Not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin

In many ways Jessa Crispin's manifesto Why I am Not a Feminist is a breath of fresh air. While I don't necessarily agree with everything she says, this is a book that is unashamed, unafraid and actually contributes something new to the discussion. Crispin challenges what modern feminism really is, how it works and whether it is truly effective. She argues that modern feminism has been dumbed down, popularised and seeks to appeal to the masses, rather than getting on with what first and second wave feminists fought for. Even if I didn't agree with everything she said, her writing forced me to stop, listen and most important of all, to think.

This review is going to be short, because I think that readers should be allowed the luxury of picking the book up without being too bogged down or bothered by what reviewers such as myself think of it, but I will say this. Open it, keep an open mind and see what you think.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Pearlman

Seven Types of Ambiguity is a novel that is long, wordy and oddly addictive. Set in Melbourne, it opens with an account by a renowned psychologist about a recent incident in which his patient--a young man who is obsessed by his ex--abducted her son. No harm came to the child, but Simon's fragile mental state and his relationship with his ex are the springboard for this story, which is told from seven different perspectives. Each and every one of these perspectives is a little bit different. The lines between right and wrong--and who is telling the truth--blur until a small, final chapter inserts a very clever but heartbreaking twist. (On that, I wondered if history was doomed to repeat itself with Rachel and Sam.)

I heard of this novel thanks to the recent ABC television series and although I didn't see much of the show, I can see how this one would translate very well on the screen. The author has a lot to say about how lives can be tainted in the pursuit of wealth, sex and a notion of being a person who has it all. The female characters don't have it easy, whether we're talking about Angelique, the prostitute with a heart of gold or Anna, whose choices led her to a loveless marriage. Simon himself is a tragic character--intelligent, charismatic but defined first by the end of his supposedly perfect relationship, then by random incident that lead to the loss of his job, and by a decline in his mental health. It is more difficult to feel sorry for Joe and Mitch, Alex is a character best discovered by the reader, and a big part of Rachel's character is to let us know where the others are some years later, and to ponder, perhaps, if she does not have an obsession of her own.

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of references in the text to its namesake, William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity. 

At more than 600 pages, this one may take a while to read, and the story and characters may become infuriating on more than one occasion, but the journey is well worth it. 

Recommended.

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

Monday, 19 June 2017

Happy birthday Garfield!


Well, it's June 19 once again and as is tradition on this blog, I'm taking time out to wish Garfield the cat a very happy birthday. (Family and friends will get the inside joke, and yes, there is one.)

This year, my favourite comic character celebrates his 39th birthday. The strip debuted on the 19th of June 1978 and is still going strong. Every year on its anniversary a comic is devoted to wishing Garfield a happy birthday. In some instances, Jim Davis will devote an entire week to birthday themed comics, most of which usually involve cake in one form or another.

PS Other famous people enjoying a birthday today include author Salmon Rushdie, musician Paula Abdul and uh ...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Review: The Great Gatenby by John Marsden

Years after it was first published, The Great Gatenby still packs a punch. It tells the story of Erle Gatenby, a headstrong ratbag with a heart of gold. Gatenby has been getting into a bit of trouble at school, and although he loves his parents, and they love him, he has reached an age where the difference between them are becoming more and more obvious and it is becoming harder for them to live together under one roof. The solution is for Gatenby to go away to boarding school. Linley isn't exactly paradise (his lodgings is known as Crapp House,) and Gatenby doesn't always toe the line, but through his experiences breaking the rules and discovering just how good he is at competitive swimming, Gatenby develops a greater sense of self and for the first time starts planning for his future.

The Great Gatenby was amusing and just as honest as all of Marsden's works. Gatenby's exploits, along with his rule breaking girlfriend Melanie, are hilarious. One of the more interesting take-home messages is that you don't have to be a model student to be a good person, and that some exploits are a natural part of the teenage experience. Gatenby's growth as a person happens on his terms, though he is touched in a positive way by some of his experiences at school. (For example, he gives up smoking because he thinks it will be a good idea to do so, and not because of his teachers hassling him to give up.)

The novel is very short and written in a way that many readers, particularly teenage boys, will find engaging. 

Recommended.

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

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Literary Quotes



Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.