Thursday, 27 December 2012

News from B

I have some news. I am now part of the team writing book reviews for the Sassi Sam website.

I'm excited, so you should be too.

I'll be reviewing books I wouldn't normally pick up myself on a trip to Avid Reader and that's kind of fun. My first book was Zoe's Muster by Barbara Hannay. It was the first totally light and fluffy book I've read in a long time and once I got over the slightly unbelievable starting premise (for me, not for everyone) I enjoyed it.

My second book was Unnatural Habits, a Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood, which I was bound to enjoy, being a bit of a Miss Fisher fan.

The reviews are slightly less opinionated than the ones I write here, but still when one is posted I'll put the link in here, just in case you're interested.

Right now I'm reading the 30 year anniversary re-release of Lace by Shirley Conran; an international best seller that is a 700 page brick of a book stuffed with sex, glamour and empowering female friendship. It's going to take me a while, this one.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Me, Guillaume and the Jellybean.

I confess. I talk to inanimate objects. Not long in-depth discussions you understand, but I will yell at them, be persuasive with them and I have been known to express a certain love for my couch. 

There are even a few hallowed objects in my life that I have gone so far as to name. The couch not being one of them, that would be weird. It started with my previous car and has spread a little to include my laptop and iPod. The fridge, I think, will forever be left out and the speakers wouldn't appreciate the honour of personalisation.

The 'advantage' of naming one's electronic devices is that when you need to yell at said device in frustration, you can get personal.  My previous car, lovingly named ‘Jellybean’ would be sweet-talked when she was sulking and didn’t want to go up a hill, or congratulated when she took off at the lights like the little pocket-rocket she was. 

The disadvantage of naming inanimate objects is I suspect that when you name items, you risk inadvertently giving them a personality. My iPod, Christophe, I swear sometimes uploads songs that I didn’t request. It’s as if he/it is trying to sway my musical taste.

My current named gadgets are:
  • Previous car: Jellybean. It was a Mazda 121, a ‘bubble’ car so this was a no-brainer.
  • iPod: Christophe. Named after my favourite customer at the café I worked at when living in London.
  • Computer: Guillaume. For no reason whatsoever, except that it’s a laptop and if I have something in my lap it might as well by French and male.
  • Car: Madeleine or Tabitha. I really don’t like the name Tabitha, but it popped into my head and I’m struggling to get it out. It’s just such a Tabitha car.   
Is naming inanimate objects too strange? Or do you name your possessions? 

What do you call them and why?

Monday, 17 December 2012

100,000 Stars

Google has done some amazing modelling of the solar system, which shows the closest 100, 000 stars to the sun. (I think.) Anyway, it's AMAZING. You need Google Chrome to run it, I think, but it's totally worth it.

(Make sure you zoom all the way out, it's unbelievable. So huge!) (Also, make sure you click on the individual stars, there's heaps of info and a close-up graphic of what they look like!)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Five for Friday no. 48

Great re-interpretation of '50 Shades of Grey' into '10 sex tips'. Very funny.

Because I know you've always wanted a foldable version of yourself. 

 When you really think about it ... he doesn't normally hang around for a second date.

Year in Review time! YAY!

The Atlantic's The Year in Photos


What I call as my favourite year-in-review- for 2012: the 40 most influential corgis of 2012. You're welcome.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Easiest Christmas Ice Cream Dessert Ever

I mean, come on, I make this. It'd have to be easy, or I'd never bother.

Just a little disclaimer, though, I didn't invent this recipe. I think I was told to make it by my mother, and she possibly got from a Gourmet Traveller or some other kind of food magazine. So, if I'm ripping someone off... Thanks for the awesome dessert recipe? It's delicious!

Now, here are the things you need to make this excellent dessert:

2 loaf pans or bread tins (although I guess you could make a round one if you wanted...)
Baking paper
1 large mixing bowl
A couple of sharp knives and a mixing spoon
A cutting board
A freezer

Now, I've just realised that I never measure any of the ingredients, so here's a vaguely-guessed-at list:
  • 2 x 1L Sara Lee French Vanilla Ice Cream
  • About 300grams Morello Cherries (buy a jar and use as many as you want) (oh my god, do yourself a favour and get the pitted ones, seriously, pitting is a nightmare) 
  • About 200grams of fruit mince (I usually get Robertson's, and you need about half a jar)
  • A handful or two of dry roasted almonds (sorry, it's useless of me, but I can't remember how big the bag is that I usually buy) (maaaaaybe 200grams? Ish?)

First, line your tins with the baking paper - you'll thank me later when you're not trying to excise your dessert from a frozen metal tin.

Assemble your ingredients! Keep one of the tubs of Sara Lee ice cream and stick the other one in the freezer. (If you're in Australia, chances are the tub will be appropriately melty by the time you have to use it, but if not, there's always the microwave.)

Chop up your cherries into small-ish chunks, but not too fine. Put them into the mixing bowl with the whole tub of slightly-melted ice cream, and mix together (just with a spoon, not a mixmaster or anything). 

Pour the ice cream and cherries mixture into the tins, filling only to half-way. (You end up with a lot of ice cream, and I suppose you could halve this whole recipe to make one tin, but I'm usually making it for the whole extended family, so.)

Put the tins into the freezer and get out your second tub of Sara Lee. Wash out your mixing bowl - take as long as you want, to give your second lot of ice cream a bit of time to melt, and the ice cream in the tins more time to set in the freezer.

Chop up the dry roasted almonds - again, not too fine, you want them big enough to crunch. You need enough to distribute nicely through your second lot of ice cream. Mix the nuts and ice cream in the mixing bowl, and add some of the fruit mince. (Essentially, you're adding all of this stuff to taste, so put in as much or as little as you like.)

Get the tins out of the freezer, and pour the nuts-fruit-mince-ice-cream mixture in on top of the cherry mixture, to make a second layer.

Put everything back in the freezer, and tidy up!

You'll probably be making this well before your meal, but just so you know, you need to give the ice cream at least an hour to set properly. If you're leaving it in the freezer over night, make sure to cover it or seal off the tins somehow.

When you're ready for dessert, up-end the tins onto a serving dish and pull off the baking paper. Don't scoop - serve in slices, to make sure everyone gets both flavours. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Things people have said to me when I’m wearing glasses

I have computer glasses, not every-day glasses. Those spectacles the optometrist prescribes because one spends eight hours of the day staring at a computer screen.

When I bought my glasses last year I chose them solely on the basis that the assistant optometrist told me they made me look like a character from Mad Men.

Anyway, because I am only a part-time eyeglass wearer people feel the need to comment on it when they see me with them on. Some of the pearlers I’ve heard in the year or so since I began wearing them are:

“You look like a sexy librarian with your glasses.”
            You mean I don’t look like a sexy librarian all the time?

“You look like a disapproving librarian in your glasses”
            That one was less-nice.

“I never thought of you as the smart, glasses type.”
            Screw you too, Jimmy. 

“You look pretty when you wear your glasses”
            Freakin’ compli-sult if ever I heard one.

“Your glasses match your eyes”
            Note: my glasses are black and white. They match Everyone’s eyes.

“Your glasses match your hair”
            Not sure how that works.

“They make you look like you’re squinting and it’s kind of nice.”

To be continued the next time someone says something stupid about my glasses.

I only wish my glasses gave me the right to hug leopards.

NaNoWriMo: an inglorious end

On midnight 30 November, NaNoWriMo 2012 ended. I wish I could report that I 'won' and wrote the full 50,000 word novella. But I didn't. To be honest, I barely wrote anything in the last week. I got wrapped up in other aspects of my life and dragging myself to the computer to type away had lost every ounce of appeal. Instead of feeling guilty about this, as I usually would, I felt rather calm. It didn't matter that I hadn't succeeded first time. To be honest, it would have been a minor miracle if I had. I had given it a damn good try and most importantly, by trying I had learnt a lot. 

I learnt that to write well I need to be in the mood. And if I think of a good sentence or phrase I should note it down immediately.

I learnt that writing takes a damn long time and you need to force yourself to stay at your desk and think and type.

I learnt what I already suspected – that writing something funny is one of the greatest challenges.

I learnt that I really would like to give this a go and so I am happy to report that I have been slowly typing away at my 'novel' since the month finished and one day I might even reach the mythical 50,000.

So, the end tally.

Number of words I wrote in NaNoWriMo 2012 according to the official counting-wizard: 25,092

I reckon that's pretty good for a first go. Yay me.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Five for Friday no. 47

Bad kids jokes. I have a particular friend in mind, posting this. She should know who she is.

An interesting way to highlight the pay gap.

Images of teenage girls and their bedrooms from all over the world

Blog that reviews celebrity endorsed food products

You better watch out

 A little bit of La Dolce Vita for Friday. Images courtesy of Vogue (above) and unknown (below)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Book review: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume

On a chilly July evening in Melbourne, someone is murdered in the back of a cab. No one knows who he is or why he was murdered. The only suspect is the man who was in the cab with him for part of the journey home. But this man also has no name, no description, nothing to distinguish him from the throngs of well-to-do gents who are out every night in late nineteenth century Melbourne. So begins The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, best-selling work of Fergus Hume, and a positively ripping yarn it is too.

This baffling case is handed to Detective Samuel Gorby. He and a host of characters traverse the length of Melbourne society as their investigations into who this man was and why he was murdered take them from the drawing rooms of cattle kings to slums presided over by foul-mouthed drudges killing themselves with drink. Even as suspects are thrown into prison to await the gallows, secrets from the past come back to reveal new twists that might save or condemn innocent men.

Before there was Agatha Christie, before there was even Arthur Conan Doyle, there was Fergus Hume. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was Hume’s first novel. Rejected by publishers, he self-published in 1886 and the risk paid off. Within months of publishing, the book had been read by 20,000 people in Melbourne. Impressive at a time when they cities’ population was less than half a million and literacy levels were significantly lower than they are today. The rights were subsequently bought by an international publishing firm and The Mystery in a Hansom Cab went on to be an international best-seller. It was in fact the best-selling detective story of the 19thCentury, beating out Conan Doyle’s early Sherlock novels such as A Study in Scarlet (1887).

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Suitcase Rummage Success

The Sunday last Jane and I tried our hands at small stall holding. It was the monthly Suitcase Rummage sale. Dozens of stalls took over Reddacliffe Place (opposite the casino) and it seemed that thousands of people drifted through the square over course of the afternoon in search of a new second-hand wardrobe and slightly off-kilter christmas gifts.


The organisers had sent Jane an email with instructions for the day. We were told to be set up by 12noon on the dot. We were at the square with our suitcases and camp chairs for registration at 11:30 and even then the place was swarming with stallholders and bargain-scouts. We were given a space at the far end of the square near the Victoria Bridge. Not prime real estate but we were fortunate to get one of the benches so people didn't have to bend down so far to look at all our amazing offerings.

Our stall in the sun. 

The market was packed with people through the whole afternoon. The intense heat in BCC's poorly designed dark grey square was truly awful but didn't seem to deter buyers from searching for a second hand bargain. Like most of the stall holders we hid beneath our umbrellas and drank copious amounts of iced tea.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Important summer recipes

Ah, summer. Heat and humidity. Swimming pools and sunburn. Christmas and Australia Day. Good times.

I don't know about you, but I'm girding my loins for the upcoming party season. I don't actually plan to host anything, but I'll attend! In honour of my attendance at your parties, I've decided it's time for some more recipes! Here are some delicious things you could make this summer:

Avocado Lime and Coriander Salsa
Avocado, Lime and Coriander Salsa - fresh, delicious, and perfect with tortilla chips and beer.

Spaghetti Caprese - Fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella - simple and classic.

The Best Healthy Tacos - I don't really know why I think of tacos as summery, but they are. Deal with it.

Lemon, Chicken and Parmesan Rissoles - I haven't made these, but they look tasty!

Jamie Oliver's Shell Pasta with Peas and Bacon - Haven't had this in a while, and honestly, it's not really that summery. But it's light and delicious, plus there's bacon. You cannot go wrong with bacon.

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Avocado and Blue Cheese Sauce

Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera - Okay, so technically you make this with spring vegetables, but it's not like that really matters in Australia, right?

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Glazed with Bourbon and Molasses - BBQ, anyone?

Fresh Spring Rolls with Chicken and Avocado

Can't have a party without dessert!

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

Nectarine, Marscapone and Gingersnap Tart

Banana "Ice Cream" with Toasted Coconut, Almonds and Dark Chocolate

Aaaaand now for the drinks!

Blackberry Gin Fizz
Blackberry Gin Fizz

Honeycrisp Apple Sangria

Pimms Italiano, with Mint, Lemon, Cucumber and Fernet Branca

And beer. Always beer.

If you're all very, very lucky, I might post one of my favourite recipes, for a layered ice-cream cake with cherries, roast almond and fruit mince - perfect for Christmas!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Monday, 26 November 2012

Book review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Every so often when my boss and I discuss literature, she tells me that Anna Karenina is her favourite novel and is shocked and horrified that I have not read it. 'Magnificent', I believe, is her favourite word to describe the work.

Last month, spurred on partly by her recommendation and partly by the impending release of a movie adaptation, I borrowed the novel from my sister-in-law and knuckled down to read.

This is what I expected from Anna Karenina;
  • Reading exhaustion. That feeling you get when you’re a third of the way through a book and you suddenly run out of steam or lose all interest but you have to keep going. For hundreds more pages.
  • Confusion from the Russian names, which I cannot pronounce let alone remember.
  • That it would take me months to read and I would most likely read 2 other books in between just to give myself a break.
None of that happened.

All that happened was I fell for this story utterly and completely. It is tremendous. It is at every turn of the page the epic Russian novel you think it will be. A host of characters flow in and out of the story, as Tolstoy deftly switched between storylines and points of view, bringing the reader in to see every angle and become acquainted with the thoughts and emotions of each unhappy individual.

For those who want the three sentence overview of the novel; Anna Karenina is set in the lives of the nobility in the last decades of grand imperial Russia. The titular protagonist is the social ideal of a perfect wife and mother until she meets and falls passionately in love with Count Vronsky. In abandoning her respectable life to be with him, she leaves behind her hated husband, her beloved son and her place in the world to be an outcast. Anna's story is interwoven with those of a host of family and friends whose stories run the breadth of the human experience.
Keira Knightly as Anna and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Seeing the world through rosé coloured glasses

I am not going to pretend for one moment that I 'know' about wine. I don’t. I cannot talk about varied acidity, late blooming fruits or undercurrents of earthiness. I am, however, pretty good at picking a good bottle from the shelf, I care about what I drink and I hate drinking rubbish.

And I firmly believe that wine is one of life's great pleasures.

Rosé Revolution is in effect a marketing initiative to introduce the Aussie wine-drinker to the growing selection of dry rosés being produced in Australia. The 'Revolution' was launched at events all around the country last Wednesday, 14 November and unofficially lasts all summer. Or until we all start drinking rosé.

At Kettle & Tin.

This is not a tough sell for me. I am a fan of rosé and have deplored the tendency of Australian wine makers to produce pink that is sweet and girly. Rosé is the perfect drink for the south of France, Italian summers and sunny Queensland afternoons on friend's balconies.  I would buy rosé all through summer if I knew I could get hold of a decent dry drop. So when I found out about the Rose Revolution and the free wine tasting at Kettle & Tin, I was there in a pink flash. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

NaNoWriMo week 2

Cups of coffee drunk as a direct result of NaNoWriMo: 7 
Glasses of wine alcoholic beverage drunk as a direct result of NaNoWriMo: 3

Ok, now I am officially behind. As I write this it’s late on the night of Thursday 15 November. I am exactly half way through the month but nowhere near the half way mark in my word count. The very helpful calculators on the NaNoWriMo website tell me that at my current rate I will finish on December 12 or else I can write 2,023 words a day to catch up and finish on November 30.

This is starting to get overwhelming.

I was at Maleny over the weekend and I thought that would be the perfect chance to catch up on my word count. Quiet, no distractions, no excuses to focus on other things, it was perfect. I did get a bit of writing done early in the morning but then eating and drinking got in the way and worst of all, I started reading a book I couldn’t put down. Self-discipline fail.

 Garden sculpture in Maleny. 
Because a photo of my computer wouldn't be very interesting.

Five for Friday no. 45

First world problems of the 1990s. Unnervingly, I can related to most of them.

Hipster baby names: find your own. Mine is Argyle. Which I think might be easier to deal with than my real name. 


Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters

In September, I was given a Kindle for my birthday. In October, I finally got it out of its box and started to use it (it always takes me a while, I'm not one of those people ripping it open and booting it up on the day). I went through the set-up, then started looking through the catalog to find a book to read while travelling to Melbourne. I searched on a few authors whose writing I knew I liked, and came across The Chemickal Marriage, by Gordon Dahlquist. At that point, I'm pretty sure I made a noise only dogs could have heard. It was the third in a series of books I had been dying to finish.

Because, you see, way, way back, in the beginning of time (in 2006), I worked with a woman and we talked about books a lot. We'd read promos for this book called The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters, and thought it sounded like a good time. Then we discovered that the publisher was releasing the book as a serial; once you subscribed, they would mail you an installment, one week at a time - similar to the way Victorian folks used to get Charles Dickens books, for example. These special installments were only available in the UK, but my friend had an aunt there, so after a few months, I received a lovely package of slender blue volumes in the mail.

The fabulous binding was only a preview: The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters is a classic adventure-mystery, with bits of steampunk science fiction/fantasy and erotica thrown in. Set in a psuedo-Victorian-era city, the story follows three main characters - Cardinal Chang*, an assassin with bad eyesight and a fondness for poetry; Miss Celeste Temple, a stubborn, independent plantation heiress; and Doctor Abelard Svenson, a chain-smoking army surgeon attached to the prince of his country as he travels. Separately, the three come into contact with a sinister cabal intent on enslaving the upper eschelons of society and taking control of Europe, and when our heroes' paths' inevitably cross, they team up, intent on thwarting the plot. The glass of the title refers to the cabal's main weapon; a blue alchemical glass that can be used to steal memories and record them for others to experience. Using the glass also produces a feeling of erotic euphoria, ensnaring the hapless user in an addictive hallucination. As the story progresses, so does use of the glass, until a shocking and astounding alchemical transformation takes place!

And so, this began my interest in these books. The sequel, The Dark Volume, came out in 2008, and was an intriguing continuation of the story. It had an infuriating Empire Strikes Back-style ending, though, hence my excitement about the 2012 release of The Chemickal Marriage. And now I've finally read them all, and honestly, I found the conclusion totally satisfying. I thought the style and quality of the story and writing was consistent all the way through (it's always so disappointing when the end of a series is crap compared to the beginning, but that's not the case here) and overall, I find these books such an entertaining read!

They won't be what everyone wants in a novel, I suppose. The story is packed with a million characters, and driven by a crazy series of events - death-defying escapes, betrayals, encounters with members of the cabal, plus the detective-style work the three heroes are doing, trying to uncover the cabal's plot. Each chapter throughout the whole series is also told from the perspective of a different main character, rolling through them in a cycle, which has the advantage of uncovering a wider view of the overall conspiracy than a single perspective could portray, and also exploring how the main characters appear to other people, which is always intriguing. Of course, Dahlquist ends just about every chapter right on a cliffhanger, which is completely infuriating (and excellent). The books are also written in a slightly Victorian style, very much after Dickens, or maybe HG Wells or Jules Verne, and the language sometimes contributes a certain convolutedness for the modern reader.

However, if you can get used to the mannered writing, free-wheeling story and the perspective switches, there's plenty to reward you. Conspiracy, steampunk science, dissolute aristocrats, masked balls and murders. The villains, dastardly though they are, are a lot of fun - there's the Comte d'Orkanz, aristocrat-slash-artist-slash-mad-scientist and the creator of the science behind the blue glass. There's Francis Xonck, younger brother of a wealthy arms maker, who plays at being another dissolute aristo but has a greater ambition within the cabal than he pretends. Then there's the Contessa di Laquer-Sforza, a beautiful, enigmatic con-woman, orchestrating and manipulating even within the cabal. There are others, each convinced they are in control of their conspiracy, and the whole thing is naturally a house of cards, just waiting for the co-conspirators to betray each other.

I also really liked all the main characters. Miss Temple isn't a cookie-cutter heroine, and she refuses to be anyone's damsel in distress. She does start out searching for the fiance who threw her over, but continues to fight the cabal long after her interest in him has dissolved. Doctor Svenson is more reserved, even when the story is from his perspective, but his dry wit and ongoing loyalty, even to those who may not deserve it, becomes a welcome relief in such a mad-cap story. His chain-smoking and fear of heights also humanize him in appealing ways. And then there's Cardinal Chang, the consummate antihero; a talented assassin with a well-hidden reserve of courage and self-sacrifice.

So, if you feel in the mood for a thrilling, action-packed story, of sinister villains and a conspiracy that accelerates like a runaway train until it threatens to unseat an entire country, escalating to a horrifying, epic yet deeply personal climax at the end of The Chemickal Marriage, maybe these are the books for you...

(The Guardian has naturally written a better review than mine, if you need further convincing.)

Note: I hope they don't try to make a Hollywood movie out of these books. They'd have to tear them apart, and that would be such a shame. A really well-produced miniseries, on the other hand, akin to Game of Thrones or something, could be amazing.

*Not a real cardinal.

The beautiful game

No matter what you say, goals as surprising and spectacular as this could not happen in any other sport.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My favourite annual festive sweet treat, a road test.

Christmas is coming fast. We all hate to admit it, but the decs are up in David Jones, the carolers at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown are warming up their tonsils and it is finally time to start thinking about what the hell you're going to buy Dad this year.

I'm not a 'christmas' person. I don't object to the festivities, but it's all become so commercial and torturous. I'm not a grinch but I'm not Mademoiselle Claus either. There are however two aspects of christmas that I ADORE. Cannot get enough of them.
  1. Tasteful christmas decorations.
  2. Fruit mince pies.
I cannot eat enough fruit mince pies for the season. I can easily buy one of those six packs from the supermarket and devour them by myself in one night. I'm not even that fussed on quality. I'll eat Coles brand so long as they don't have any candied peal in them. In fact, cheap in better because their manufacture budget doesn't stretch to luxuries like orange rind.

Don't judge me.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Late on Thursday, I got a text from my sister, asking whether I wanted to buy a ticket to Radiohead's Friday night concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. My answer: HELL. YES. I hadn't managed to get a ticket in the regular sale, and this ticket was perfect - seated and oh so close to the front.

It was a great concert. They played a great set-list - a good mix of newer stuff, plus a few old classics. Thom Yorke and the rest of the band were really on form, and seemed super happy to be there. Thom danced!

The set design was also impressive, actually, and probably one of the best concert setups I've ever seen. The lighting and backdrop changed with every song, displaying colours and patterns and graphics that seemed designed to fit the 'vibe' of the music. They also had twelve screens suspended above the band, which were moved around, integrating with and complementing the visuals. Overall, the setup really fit the style and sound of the band. It was awesome!

Below are some very dodgy camera-phone pictures, in which I am subtly bragging about how excellent my seat was. (Seriously, second row in the section right behind general admission. Amazing!)

They used a great range of colours; red, blue, indigo,
pink, Matrix-green and black, with great patterns and
occasionally blinding strobes.

All those white blogs are screens; each was displaying
a close-up of Thom Yorke's face. (There was a camera
set up right near his microphone.)

A zombie love story

I am not good with zombies. I'm not good with any horror genre, I can't stand the tension and I am bad with gore. So yesterday I was stunned to discover - a zombie movie I actually want to see!

It's a zombie rom-com. Yes. A zombie rom-com, complete with guns and eating people. Coming to cinemas near you in a few months' time.

Monday, 12 November 2012

I love Judi Dench...

Half-arsed book review: Curtain by Agatha Christie

I spent the weekend last visiting my parents up at Maleny. I love weekends up there. I do little but eat, drink wine from my Dad's cellar and read for three days. It is very peaceful and slightly fattening.

The other thing I am great at doing with my time in Maleny is buying books. Maleny has more than its fair share of excellent book shops. Rosetta Books is one of my favourite book stores and places to spend money. One of those fabulous book sellers that has one of everything, organises author talks and supports the entire Maleny writing community. There are also a couple of great second hand booksellers with resident dogs who let you scratch them behind the ears.

This trip I limited myself to two titles. From Rosettas I bought The Best of Women's Travel Writing vol. 8 (can't wait to dive into that one!) and from Maleny Bookshop I bought my first ever Agatha Christie. I am a huge fan of the BBC adaptations of Christie's novels; Marple or Poirot with David Suchet. I re-watch them, even after I know exactly who did it in the library with which poisoned tea cup. But I have never read any of her original works. So I bought myself a hard copy of Poirot's last mystery Curtain, which upon completion was hidden in a safe and not published after the Christie' death.

As much as I enjoy watching mysteries on TV I never read them, because I can't stand not knowing who did it. I skip to the end of the book because I can't stand the tension. So I confess – I already knew who did part of the mystery of Curtain before I bought my copy. Then when I inadvertently read the first page, I found I couldn't stop. I read for 4 solid hours without a break. I was completely taken in. I now understand the universal appeal and popularity of Marple's novels. The mystery is seductive and brilliant, the language is simple, the writing concise. It is the sort of book almost anyone could pick up and enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon just as I had.

In Curtain, the incomparable Belgian detective Hercule Poirot – the star of so many Christie mysteries and a character she came to hate – returns to the scene of his first ever case The Mysterious Affair at Styles. He is again accompanied by his close friend Arthur Hastings as he hastens to solve one final puzzle - perhaps his most devilish case yet. 

 Hercule Poirot, portrayed by David Suchet. The only literary character to ever be given a full-page obituary in the New York Times

I'm not a mystery novel aficionado, though may be this is a turning point for me. I also find I cannot write a review on such a classic. I'm reading Anna Karenina at the moment and have no intention of writing a serious review of that tremendous work of classic fiction either.

The most intelligent comment I can make about Curtain, or probably just about any Christie mystery  is if you see a copy, indulge yourself. You will enjoy it a lot more than you think you will.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Five for Friday no. 44

The British are great at invading other countries. 

Things people say to graphic designers as a series of posters

In 2013 NGV will be hosting an exhibition of Monet, with all 60 works inspired by his stunning garden at Giverny. 

I love this slightly odd dating tip.
 In an effort to raise awareness of the plight of ordinary citizens in countries without freedom of speech, freedom of movement or rights to education, Trial By Timeline will analyse you and see just how many international crimes you might have committed if you hadn't been born in Australia or New Zealand. Warning: if you wish to participate, you give Trial By Timeline the right to access your Facebook timeline.
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