Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Review: My Life as a Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

My Life as a Hashtag is a realistic read about how one mistake can lead to a whole lot of hurt, heartache and humiliation. MC (otherwise known as Marie-Claude,) is sixteen years old and is in the midst of a pretty stressful time. Her parents are divorcing and her father is already in a relationship with another woman. Her brother has become withdrawn, while her mother is busy trying to meet men on tinder. To add to the mix, MC is a scholarship kid at a top Melbourne private school. The girls she hangs around with are probably better described as frenemies than her besties, particularly Anouck who treats MC more like a rival and a potential threat than a friend ... because that is precisely what MC is to Anouck, though MC is most ignorant about how her behaviour affects others, rather than being an outright bitch. It's a fairly realistic take on female friendships at that age, where one's closest friends can also be their worst enemies, and where someone can genuinely be ignorant of the hurt that their actions can cause. And, of course, where that hurt can be taken completely out of proportion. Anyway, things come to a head between MC and Anouck first over a boy, and then over MC not being invited to a party that is being hosted by Anouck. MC gets her revenge in what she thinks is a clever but anonymous post online. The post goes viral and both MC and Anouck find their lives being invaded in a way that neither girl thought possible ...

While the possibility of such a post going viral seems very remote, and the fallout is quite harsh, what this story has in bucketloads is a very realistic take on female rivarly, and teenage culpability. MC is portrayed as someone who is genuinely ignorant of her actions--she's not necessarily a bully who set out with an intent to hurt someone. She's a kid who is hurting, who has few people she can lean on for support, and who vents the only way she knows how, using the resources that she has available. Her actions are those of someone who doesn't know any better, and her experiences lead to some pretty harsh life lessons. As for Anouck, she's no angel either, though the way she stands up to her mother in the end--and the way that she listens to MC's apology--certainly suggest some newfound maturity on her part. 

This is an enjoyable realistic read. My only complaint is that the book is going to date very quickly due to its reliance on technology--a pity considering how well-drawn the characters and situations were.

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


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Man Discovers He Was Not Inspiration For Carly Simon Song

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--Nineteen-year-old Edward Sorrento had his illusions shattered yesterday when he discovered that he was not, in fact, the subject of Carly Simon's hit song, You're So Vain. "I truly thought that she was singing about me," Sorrento told our reporter. "I mean there is even this bit in there that says something about how she bets that I know the song is about me. "I just thought it was about me, because you know, I'm vain and stuff," he added with a whistful sigh. 

Sorrento's illusions were shattered when he discovered that the hit song was first released in 1972, twenty-six years before he was born. The subject of the song has been a closely guarded secret, though an article on wikipedia claims that three different men helped to inspire the song. 

Sorrento has now deleted the song from his iPod.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Review: Dr. Fourth originated by Roger Hargraves

The moment that I saw this clever Mr Men--Doctor Who mash up for sale in Dymocks I knew that I just had to buy it and take it home. There has always been something delightful about the simplicity of the Mr Men universe (after all, the books are aimed at schoolchildren,) from the characters to the chatty narratives. And the worms. (Because one cannot talk about the Mr Men books without mentioning those worms.) In contrast, the Doctor Who universe is complicated and ever changing. What a delight it is, then, to see the Doctor placed inside this simple universe. All of the trademark features of the fourth doctor have been included, his scarf, his love of jelly babies and, of course, Sarah Jane is in the thick of the action. 

In this adventure (which will be one of the twelve volume set,) the Doctor and Sarah Jane use their skills as time travellers to outrun and outwit the Daleks. The Mr Men version of the daleks is a hilarious parody, in this one we see a Dalek exterminate a tennis ball rather than play with it, chase a poor worm, and we encounter Dale a Dalek who isn't quite as good at exterminating things as the others. Dale doesn't quite sync in with the traditional kind of Dalek, but that seems all right because it adds a bit of humour and this story is a bit simpler than your usual Doctor Who adventure.

Anyway, I thought this one was a lot of fun and hope to explore some of the other titles in the series soon.

Recommended.

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