Sunday, 21 January 2018

Review: The Dangers of Truffle Hunting by Sunni Overend

Easily the best debut I've read in a long time by an Australian author, The Dangers of Truffle Hunting celebrates what it truly means for a woman to be true to herself. 

Kit Gossard is a photographer with an eye for the fun and messy parts of life. Employed as a food photographer for an upmarket magazine, she finds herself wanting to take pictures of food that is well, being enjoyed, rather than the staid and highly stylised photographs that we so often see in magazines and cookbooks. This finds her at odds with the staff at the magazine, and also with her fiancé, metrosexual Scott who is making a name for himself designing furniture. Scott is, quite frankly, a bit of an arse, but Kit cannot see that. Life starts to get a bit more messy and interesting, however, when Kit meets Raph, an attractive foreigner who shares her approach to life. But there may be more than one thing that is keeping this pair of star crossed lovers apart ...

This book was a real treat for the senses. I utterly hated Scott and found joy in the scenes where Kit trusted her own instincts, despite his uptight approach to life and to their relationship. I loved some of the scenes set in the cooking school and a certain female character who lives there who I won't talk much about for fear of giving away too much of the plot. Marc and Piper proved an interesting story that works quite nicely in the background.

I love this for the fact that much like Kit Gossard, the author stayed true to herself and wrote a story that was fitting and unique, rather than trying to tick all of the boxes that would satisfy the requirements of a contemporary romance novel. Much of the sensuality comes from the element of surprise that is to be found in the novel, and the writing itself is always steamy, rather than graphic.

Highly recommended.

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

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

I spotted this gorgeous little pooch down at Glenelg recently, on a fence not so far away from the Haighs shop. I think he looks great, don't you?

Friday, 19 January 2018

Friday Funnies: Peppermint Patty


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian opens a year after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ended. Or, at least, it opens one earth year after Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund all found themselves transported back to earth via the wardrobe. In Narnia, much time has passed. Lucy and her siblings have been reduced to the stuff of legends and an impostor sits on the throne of a different--and much more miserable--Narnia, while the rightful heir, Prince Caspian has only just discovered who he truly is. When he finds Queen Susan's horn and blows it, the four Pensive children find themselves transported back to Narnia--which is quite a pleasant surprise, really, considering that they were all at the railway station on their way to boarding school. Lucy and the others must all work together to ensure that the rightful King of Narnia finds his way to the throne ...

I enjoyed reading this one, and perhaps more so because I skipped The Horse and His Boy and was able to be reacquainted with the Lucy (my favourite of all the characters,) and discover what life had in store for her and the others after they left Narnia. I'm really becoming convinced that it is better to read the books in the order they were published, rather than the reading order suggested by the publisher. Once again, it was interesting to look at the religious symbolism and to see how the author used Narnia as a metaphor for children. 

Next up, I'm hoping to read and review The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

Review: Stacey's Big Break (BSC TV Series Episode 3)

Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it. How come Stacey's diabetes was never mentioned in the scene where the Baby-sitters all go out for pizza? This was a massive plot point in the books--two books depicted the implications of Stacey's illness, and it was usually mentioned at any time when the sitters had a party that they brought in special food to accommodate Stacey's dietary requirements. I'm almost having a much trouble understanding that as I am understanding why Stacey would give up an entire modelling career in order to attend a play that is being put on by the Baby-sitters club that no one else, apart from a handful of neighbourhood kids showed up to? And why were they pushing Charlotte so hard to participate, when she clearly wasn't interested.

Anyway ... 

In the third instalment of the Baby-sitters Club TV series, Stacey gets "discovered" and starts working as a model. First posing for catalogues, and then by winning a fresh face competition, which gives her a lucrative modelling contract along with a whole stack of other prizes. The only trouble is, Stacey no longer has time for the Baby-Sitters Club, or to help her regular sitting charge, Charlotte, with her lines for a play that the club is putting on. She's not so happy with the situation, so she pulls the pin on the whole thing, and arrives just in time to see Charlotte perform. (Cue schmultz.)

I can't say that I enjoyed this one as much as the previous two episodes. Stacey's decision to quit modelling fell a bit flat, particularly as it didn't really portray anything of the dark side of modelling, apart from Stacey feeling a bit cold in a pair of shorts--I think it might have been a bit more believable (and still kid friendly,) if it had caused her to catch a cold, or if she had forgotten, or almost forgotten to take her insulin. The whole thing starts and resolves easily enough, and fair enough, it is a kids show. Maybe I've just watched too many in a row or something ...

PS Thanks to this episode, I learned why Kristy is wearing a crown in the promotional photo, above. No it isn't because she thinks she's a queen: it seems this picture was taken sometime during the filming of this episode, where Kristy has to wear a crown as she is playing the part of a Prince in the BSC play.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Review: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Being in desperate need of some cheering up, I purchased this graphic novel the other week and I found myself completely drawn in by this autobiographical account of Telgemier's years in Middle School, and her first year of high school. This happened, despite the fact that after I read and reviewed Drama (another Telgemeier graphic novel,) I decided that these books really were just for kids and I should bloody well read something a bit more age appropriate. Anyway, I bought a copy of Smile just at the right time and it turned out to be the right book to turn my shitty day around.

Smile tells the story of an accident that led to the loss of the author's two front teeth when she was in sixth grade. What follows is years of painful dental visits, braces and, at one point she has to wear a retainer with two false teeth attached. While all of this is going on, she has to navigate her first crush, the discovery of her real love (drawing) and some pretty awful bullying from the girls who are supposed to be her friends. Other events, such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 are detailed.

I really enjoyed this one, despite the fact that I'm a few years younger than the author and grew up in different part of the world. Schooling in Australia, particularly South Australia, is quite different to the experience of kids in America. Middle schools are slowly being introduced here, and my own high school had separate junior and senior campuses, but things like school cafeterias, dances and taking specialised classes with kids from other grades are totally alien to my experiences. Consequently, it was fun see what life is like for kids who do those things. And while I never had any problems with my teeth, one thing I could certainly relate to was some of the bullying that Raina had to put up with from her so-called friends. She was a bit artsy, and most importantly, a bit kinder, and this made her a target for the others, who liked to prop themselves up by making her feel bad. I also liked the moral toward the end--that life got better when she started focusing on the people and things that she liked. 

I think this would be a great book to pass on to anyone who is feeling a bit insecure and unsure of themselves, particular teens and pre-teens, though anyone who has ever been a teenager should be able relate to this one. 

Highly recommended. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

Friday Funnies: Still a Dog