Category Archives: Uncategorized

Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday

I received an early review copy of “Murder in the Mail” courtesy of the curator Felicity Banks, and you can hear her talk about this project in detail and interactive fiction generally on the latest episode of my podcast Lost the Plot. You can also sign up to “Murder in the Mail” yourself by checking out the Kickstarter campaign, which closes on 14 April 2018.

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“Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday” by Felicity Banks is an interactive fiction series of letters, postcards, artwork, photographs and objects that are posted to you over the course of 8 weeks. You are Hachi, a university student whose cousin Naomi was murdered at her own birthday party. There were six people aside from Naomi who attended the party: you, Naomi’s mother and four art student friends from university. They all agree to send you letters and their artworks about what happened that night, and it’s up to you to interpret the clues and figure out who is the murderer.

This is a really fun, engaging way to experience a murder mystery. As a reviewer, I received nearly all the parcels in one hit and I was racing through them to find out more information and read more clues. However, I think stretching them out over 8 weeks would be even better way to experience the anticipation and intrigue of what is coming next. The other benefit to stretching it out is the opportunity to discuss your theories on the messageboard with other readers between installments.

The story itself was really enjoyable. I love a puzzle, and I really liked the twists and turns and how each character’s motives and idiosyncrasies emerged over time. There are plenty of red herrings and plenty of interesting social issues jammed into this story, and it’s quite incredible how invested I became in the characters over each installment of the story. The artworks are a great touch to bring life to the story and to give the characters and extra dimension of reality. This is a great example of how a number of authors and artists can collaborate together to make something really interesting.

As I mentioned above, it’s currently only available via Kickstarter but it is an all-or-nothing project, so if it doesn’t its funding goal, you won’t get an opportunity to experience it. If you love murder mysteries and want to support local Canberra authors and artists, I really encourage you to check it out and find out what happened to Naomi.

 

 

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Filed under interactive fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Uncategorized

Lost the Plot – Episode 22

Support Lost the Plot
Become a Lost the Plot Patron
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
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Show Notes

Book Updates

Australian Podcast Awards
Vote for Lost the Plot

Libraries ACT Reading Challenge
Download challenge here

75 Books Recommended by Ursula K. Le Guin
Bookriot article

Sally from Asia Bookroom named New President of International League of International Antiquitarian Booksellers
Episode 8 with Sally
Episode 19 with Sally
Fine Books Magazine write up

Books for the World

Street Libraries on Gardening Australia
Watch the episode on iView

Missing Street Library in Newtown
Facebook post

Story Dogs
Libraries ACT website

Returning the Favour – Get Focused Program
Watch the episode on Facebook

Sekolah Gunung Merapi: Building Hope from the Ashes
Donate via Chuffed
Books for the World
The original campaign
Episode 13

Book News

Canberra Libraries Flooded (content warning: damaged books)
Canberra Times article
Second Canberra Times article
Libraries ACT Facebook post
ABC News article

Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards announced
The Guardian article

Stella Prize 2018 Shortlist
Full shortlist

2018-19 Children’s Laureate Announced
Children’s Laureate Website
ABC article

Aurealis Awards
Full list of finalists

Golden Man Booker Prize
Man Booker Prize website

Shakespeare Plagiarism Software
New York Times article

Mysterious Manuscript at the National Library of Australia
NLA Facebook post

“Welcome to Country” by Aunty Joy Murphy
Watch the Matter of Fact excerpt on facebook

“Marvelous Miss May: Queen of the Circus” by Stephanie Owen Reeder
Canberra Times article

“Tempests and Slaughter” by Tamora Pierce
Hatchette Australia facebook post

“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier – 80th Anniversary edition
Virago Press facebook video
Virago Press photo essay
The Guardian article

“Silent Invasion” by Clive Hamilton
Hardie Grant facebook post
ABC News article

“Growing Up Black in Australia” by Anita Heiss
Anita Heiss’ website

“A Miniature Christmas Anthology”
Christmas Press facebook post

“The Outsider” by Stephen King
Hachette Australia facebook post

“No Country Woman” by Zoya Patel
Hachette website

“Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts
Deadline article

Fahrenheit 451 Teaser Trailer
MHP Books website

“Working Class Boy” by Jimmy Barnes
The Book Club ABC facebook post

“The War of the Worlds” by H G Wells
The Verge article

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Trailer
Watch on Studio Canal’s facebook page

Picnic at Hanging Rock Date Reveal
Foxtel website

An Epic Tale of Redwall Computer Game
Steam listing

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” – Kindle in Motion
Pottermore facebook post

The Crimes of Grindelwald – Dumbledore’s Sexuality
The Independent’s article

Rose McGowan book event controversy
The Independent’s article

Book Censorship in Western Australian school
ABC News article

Lionel Shriver on ‘political correctness gone mad’
The Guardian’s article

Claire G. Coleman on ownership of stories
The Guardian’s article

Terry Goodkind publicly criticises own cover art
Screenshot
Joanne Harris’ commentary on Twitter
Goodkind’s ‘apology’

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on reading to his grandkids
Facebook post
News.com article

Drag Queen Story Hour
Sputnik News article

 

Interactive Fiction

Felicity Banks
Author website

Choice of Games – Felicity is writing an official story for them but is not associated or affiliated with them in any way
Website

Felicity’s Interactive Fiction
The Interactive Fiction Database

Hosted Games
Webpage

Choice Script
Webpage

Penguin Qantas Somerset College National Novella Writing Competition for School Age Students
Website

“Heart of Brass” and “After the Flag Fell”
Odyssey Books website

Peter Lalor
Wiki

Other Steampunk
Della Mortika series
Madeiline D’este
“Ichabod Hart and the Lighthouse Mystery” by James Roy
Richard Harland
Michael Pryor

Choices that Matter, Tinman Games
App in Google Play store

Odyssey Books
Website
Publisher Obscura

Hunt A Killer Boxes
Website

Laura E. Goodin
Website

Murder in the Mail
Kickstarter campaign
murderinthemailstories@gmail.com
Messageboard

Book Events

World Read Aloud Day
Website

Library Lover’s Day
Australian School Library Association post
Books on the Rail Blind Date with a Book
Queanbeyan Library Event

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Canberra Times article

Canberra Lifeline Book Fair
Canberra Times article

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Upcoming book fair dates

Stephanie Parkyn at Harry Hartog
Event

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting

“Egyptian Enigma” Book Launch
NLA Event

50 Years of the Library Building
NLA Event

The ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author Series
Upcoming events

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Filed under Lost the Plot, Uncategorized

The Rabbit Back Literature Society

I can’t remember where I got this book from. Maybe the Canberra Lifeline Book Fair? Wherever it came from, I know exactly why I chose it. It has a gorgeous cover design with blue metallic lettering and any book title with the word “rabbit” in it is always going to hook me instantly.

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“The Rabbit Back Literature Society” by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen and translated from the Finnish by Lola M. Rogers is a magic realism novel about a woman called Ella who has returned to her hometown Rabbit Back to live with her parents. Reeling from a bad breakup and not fully equipped to deal with her father’s deteriorating health, Ella tries to focus on marking high school papers on literature. However, when she is given a copy of “Crime and Punishment” with a different ending after accusing a student of cheating, the book leads her to the Rabbit Back library. From there, she finds herself more and more drawn into the secretive and wildly successful lives of members of ‘the Society’, and the mysterious Laura White behind it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Jääskeläinen has a piercing and intimate style of writing that is utterly engrossing. The characters, power plays, intrigue and history of Rabbit Back were endlessly fascinating and the story keeps you guessing the entire way through. Ella starts out seeming like a bit of a lightweight, but Jääskeläinen brings a lot of depth to her character and I enjoyed watching her unfurl in different and unexpected ways. I also really liked the other characters and their complicated relationships with each other. There is a lot going on in this book and it’s the perfect blend of quaint and dark.

I think the only issue I had with the novel was that there were maybe one too many loose ends left untied. I am definitely an advocate for leaving things to the imagination and not spelling out every single detail in books, but I think that there were a few things that could have been rounded out a little more. Some of the members of the Society got a lot less airtime than others, and I would have liked to have seen more interactions amongst them and between them and Ella. I also would have liked a bit more on Ella’s parents. Ella seemed to have very few memories of her childhood and I was expecting that gap to get filled in to a degree as she continued researching. However, it never did and I think more backstory on Ella probably would have facilitated even more character development later.

As it stands, this was a very enjoyable book that will appeal especially to lovers of books and secrets.

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Filed under Book Reviews, General Fiction, Magic Realism, Pretty Books, Uncategorized

Lost the Plot – Episode 21

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Become a Lost the Plot Patron
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
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Show Notes

Lost the Plot reached 1,000 listens!
1000 listens

Australian Podcast Awards
Vote for Lost the Plot

Dymocks Top 101

My votes
My Votes

Full list of 101

Book Club Contest
Contest Page

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Future Library
Official website
Elif Shafak announced as fourth author

Street Library
Books for the World Street Library Page
Street Library Australia Website
Lost the Plot Episode 9 – Street Library

The Book Retriever

Storytime Pledge
Alan Finkel’s Pledge
Australian Library and Information Association

In the Night Garden
TV Show
Makka Pakka: Time to Wash Faces

Ursula K LeGuin Dies at Age 88
ABC News article
Tor article
The Guardian article

Man Booker 50
Instagram Contest
Website

Booktopia Australia’s Favourite Authors
List of Australia’s Favourite Authors
My review of Di Morrissey’s “The Reef”
My review of Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies”

Captain Blackbeard’s Book
Gizmodo article

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
ABC News article
ABC News article – Wikileaks
The other Fire and Fury becomes a bestseller
Video interview with Michael Wolff

“King of Ashes” by Raymond E. Feist
Cover reveal

“The Numair Chronicles” by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce’s website
Penguin website

Fantasy Book Café’s List of Anticipated Speculative Fiction Releases 2018
Full list

2018 Film Adaptations
Book Bub’s List
Readings’ List

Theatre Adaptations
Alice in Wonderland starring Aboriginal woman
Alice in Wonderland website
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Margaret Atwood TV Adaptations
Maddaddam Trilogy
Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2

Big Little Lies
Meryl Streep cast

Harry Potter News
ABC News article – fan adaptation
Voldemort: Origins of the Heir
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery photos
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Website and video
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: tinted edges edition
Wonderful Wizarding World Happiness Generator
Quidditch Through the Ages Audio Book
New Crimes of Grindelwald photos
Daniel Radcliffe on Grindelwald Depp casting controversy

 

Literary Controversies
Nick Holland’s blog post about Bronte Society patron Lily Cole
ABC News article about Bronte controversy
Observer study of gender in children’s books
Are there libraries in Nigeria?
Original backwards book article
Follow up backwards book article
Mamamia backwards book article
Upside down books
Storm in a D-cup

 

40th Anniversary of Kate Bush’s Song Wuthering Heights
Video Clip
Guardian article
The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever, Canberra

20th Anniversary of Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet
Guardian article
20th anniversary edition

ACT Libraries
Most Requested Books of 2017
Libraries ACT to become more accessible to homeless people

Bikes in School Library
Taunton Gazette article

Bowie Book Club
Rolling Stone article
David Bowie website
David Bowie top 100 books
Duncan Jones’ Twitter account

The Canberra Zine Machine interview
Smith’s Alternative
Canberra Zine Emporium
Polyester Bookshop, Brunswick Street (Now Closed)
Mandy Ord
Girls Rock! Canberra
Vanessa Berry
You Are Here Festival

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Minecraft
New Acton
Other Worlds Zine Fair
Childers Festival
Zine and Indie Comic Symposium
Zine Machine #2 at ANU Pop-Up Reunion Village
Zine Machine #1 at Canberra Institute of Technology
We Make Zines: Zines 101
George R R Martin on zines
Sticky Institute
Small Press Zines Hobart – Thylazine Fair in November 2018
World’s Tiniest Zine Fair in Perth
National Library of Australia Zine Collection
Mulgara No Front Fences 2

My Zine

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200 Year Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Mary Shelley 200 year anniversary

Too Many Mirandas at Hanging Rock
Event page
My blog post for the ACT Lit Bloggers of the Future program

ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author
Jacqui Lambie

Enlighten Festival
National Library

Reviews
Terra Nullius” by Claire G. Coleman
The Lucky Galah” by Tracey Sorensen
Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent
The Power” by Naomi Alderman

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Lost the Plot – Episode 20

Support Lost the Plot
Become a Lost the Plot Patron
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
Subscribe and leave a review on iTunes
Follow Tinted Edges on Facebook

Show Notes

The new Lost the Plot logo was designed by Louise Brooks
Brooksy Design

Jólabókaflóð
About

Jolabokaflod

The Jungle Books, Penguin Clothbound Classics
The Jungle Books

Bookish Christmas Presents
Book LampNovel Journal

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Australian Women Writers Challenge
Sign Up for 2018
November Round Up

ACT Lit-Bloggers of the Future
Hope in Dark Times, An Evening with Michael Leunig
All the blog posts

Whispering Gums
Blog Website

Street Library Australia
Website

Our New Street Libraries
20180106_1157001802641786.jpg     Greeves Street Library

The Green Shed
Website

Street Library Vandalism
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Article on Street Library Vandalism

The Foxall Street Library Brothers
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Asia Bookroom Christmas Tree
Episode 19 – Giving Books

Worldbuilders
End of Year Fundraiser

Storytime Pledge
Alan Finkel’s Pledge
Australian Library and Information Association

My Storytime Pledge to my Niece
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2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
Shortlist

2017 Goodreads People’s Choice Awards
Full List of Winners

2018 Indie Book Awards
Longlist

2017 Bad Sex Award
The Guardian’s Article

Charles Darwin Annotated Origin of Species
Daily Mail Article

“The Shepherd’s Hut” by Tim Winton
Cover Released

“Transcription” by Kate Atkinson
Facebook post

Sydney Morning Herald List of 2018 Book Releases
Full Article

The Green Books
The Guardian Article
Publisher

Trailer for adaptation of Tim Winton’s “Breath”
The Guardian Article

Jennifer Lawrence starring in Hannah Kent’s “Burial Rites”
The Guardian Article

The Age’s Good Weekend interview with Hannah Kent, October 2016
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Miniseries Adaptation of Little Women
Stan Facebook post

“The Public” film
Youtube Trailer

Harry Potter news
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery game
Harry Potter and the Portrait of what Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash
Harry Potter and the Creaky Cabinet
J K Rowling on Grindelwald Casting
Amber Heard on JK Rowling’s Statement

Backlash against To Siri With Love
Bookriot Article
Observer Article

Is the senior English syllabus too depressing?
ABC News Article

Cat Person
The Guardian Article
“Cat Person”
The BBC’s “Cat Person: What Robert (Probably) Thought”

Max the Cat
Washington Post Article

Tiny Books
Video

Annie’s Pie Charts                                                 Angharad’s Pie Charts

/r/fantasy Subreddit
Link

The Australian Human Rights Commission reports 11% of Australians identify as LGBTIQ
AHRC Website

“Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurty
The Best Book Ever Written

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
Annie’s Second Top Read

“The Sellout” by Paul Beaty
My review

“Do Not Say We Have Nothing” by Madeliene Thien
My review

“On Doubt” by Leigh Sales
My review

“120 Days of Sodom” by the Marquis de Sade
Wikipedia link so you don’t end up on a watchlist
“Quills” starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet

Sorry about my dog barking! She wasn’t even sorry.
Image may contain: dog, grass, outdoor and nature

Scratch Map
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Book Bingo
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Should I review the religious text I read?

The Economist’s 2017 Books of the Year
Article

The Guardian’s Best Books of 2017
Article

Barack Obama’s top reads of 2017
Facebook post

ACT Writers Centre Christmas Party
Blog Post

Muse Christmas Sale
Muse Christmas Sale

“Beneath a Scarlet Sky” by Mark Sullivan
My review

“La Belle Sauvage” by Philip Pullman

“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami
My review

“Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend
My review

“Joe Cinque’s Consolation” by Helen Garner

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Filed under Lost the Plot, Uncategorized

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

A lot of people have been talking about this newcomer on the scene of children’s fantasy. The book is by an Australian author, and when I saw a signed copy in the window of a Canberra bookshop, I thought I’d better grab a copy and give it a go myself.

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“Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend is a children’s fantasy novel about a young girl called Morrigan who is cursed. Blamed for every mishap that takes place in Jackalfax, a town in the state of Great Wolfacre, in the Wintersea Republic, where her father is Chancellor, Morrigan is treated like an outcast by her community and her family. Due to die on Eventide, Morrigan is instead rescued by the charismatic Jupiter North and taken to a magical city called Nevermoor. However, her status in this city is not secure. In order to avoid the deadly hunt of smoke and shadow, Morrigan will have to trust Jupiter’s confidence that she will pass the trials to gain entry and sanctuary into Nevermoor’s prestigious Wundrous society.

First things first, I think kids will probably enjoy this book. Although I’m an adult, if I look at this book through the eyes of my younger self, it’s easy to read, it doesn’t shy away from heavy themes, yet it has a strong sense of wonder about it. There are some really creative elements that I enjoyed in Jupiter North’s hotel like Morrigan’s bedroom that changes daily and the chandelier that regrows. It’s a fast-paced story and Morrigan has a sense of integrity that really resonated with me. Townsend writes in a style that’s both complex and age appropriate and I think has a particular knack for capturing the subtleties of a young person’s emotions and relationships. There was a particular part where Morrigan felt guilty about something and eventually confessed to Jupiter, and I just felt like the whole emotional exchange was handled by Townsend in a really realistic way. Something being a much bigger problem for the child than it is for the adult, but the adult appreciating being told the truth in the end nonetheless. I’m certain I would have whipped through this as a kid.

However, I am no longer a kid, and this is not my first fantasy book. This book has been touted as the next “Harry Potter” and I think that is a fair but not necessarily favourable comparison. Drawing on themes from J K Rowling’s famous series and the gothic atmosphere from “A Series of Unfortunate Events“, this book definitely has a familiar vibe to it. I could go through the various tropes in it, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I did really like some of the side-characters, but Morrigan herself I thought could have been a bit more interesting. Maybe after Harry Potter and Bella whatserface from “Twilight” I’m a bit tired of dark hair and pale skin being considered a revolutionary appearance. The trials themselves as well I wasn’t completely sold on. Morrigan felt a little bit like Harry Potter bumbling his way through the Triwizard Tournament meets Jill Pole muddling up Aslan’s instructions in “The Silver Chair”.

Also, there was something about the world building that confused me a bit. The Wintersea Republic seems like a very English-inspired world/country (surprising given Townsend is from Queensland, Australia but again very typical for this kind of fantasy), and Nevermoor is this kind of missing magical fifth state that is only accessible via a type of giant clock. I couldn’t quite get a grip on the relationship between the Wintersea Republic and Nevermoor, and the extent to which the former has magic. Maybe this will be revealed later in the series, but at the moment it feels a bit unfinished.

Anyway, while I may be old and jaded, I’m fairly certain that for lots of kids for whom this will be their first foray into fantasy, this book will be a breath of fresh air and they will thoroughly enjoy the story. For adults who have read several children’s fantasy books, this one will feel very familiar. Perhaps a little too familiar. Either way, it’s about the target audience and the target audience will love it.

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Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Children's Books, Signed Books, Uncategorized

Soft on the Devil

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

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“Soft on the Devil” by Robert Lampros is a Christian mystery story about a young man called Ian. Ian lives a simple life – he lives by himself in an apartment, he works in a local cafe and he goes to church regularly. However, Ian’s life is turned upside down when his neighbour Cindy goes missing and turns up at his door a week later asking for help. When her body is found the next night, Ian decides to do his own investigating which ultimately brings him face to face with demons past and present.

I was a little uncertain about reviewing this book, but I thought I’d try to have an open mind and give it a go. Lampros is a confident writer who creates a likeable everyman character in Ian. As the story progresses, you learn more about Ian’s difficult past and celebrate with him as he achieves small wins in his work and budding relationship.

This is a quick and easy read. I think I only had two issues with the story. First, despite being a crime novel, it was left largely unresolved at the end. Secondly, despite the Christian themes and the otherwise matter-of-fact tone of the book, ghosts and visions were used a couple of times as plot devices.

All in all, a surprisingly enjoyable and insightful story in a genre I wouldn’t ordinarily read.

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery/Thriller, Uncategorized