Tag Archives: Book Club

ABC Book Club, Season 11, Episode 1: #bookclubABC

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Image stolen from Marieke Hardy’s twitter account.

It’s back. Life can resume again as Book Club is here. JByrne is of course sleeveless because she hasn’t been working those delts to keep them hidden by sleeves. Marieke is flawless. And Ace, oh my, sleeves rolled up to show off those exquisite forearms and he’s wearing stripey blue and yellow socks. Or is it green and yellow? #sockwatch The exact colour is an enigma just like Ace.

Before we get into the actual show let me take care of a few housekeeping issues:

1) I’m dyslexic, there will be spellos, grammos, typos, and just plain wrongos.

2) JByrne = Jennifer Byrne

Ace = Jason Stegersaurussex

Marieke = jamiest bit of jam.

3) I am unsponsored but if anyone wants to bribe me I love wine and notebooks… and money. Money is my favourite. 

Now onto the show. Joining the heavenly regular panelists are Michael ‘the dagger’ Robotham (known as Robo-Tham from previous episodes) and Clementine Ford. I am wet your pants excited about the Fordinator being on. I hope there is plenty of talk of about uteruses.

The panelists get down to business and discuss books that have been released during their hiatus. Australian author Sarah Schmidt’s 
See what I have Done
 gets a shout out. I’m excited because I’m reading that at the moment. 

And of course they pay tribute to the brilliant Heather Rose who has taken out the Stella Prize this year with The Museum of Modern Love. Rose remembers vividly once getting a royalty cheque that was for less than the envelope would have cost. Thankfully she is getting the recognition she deserves now and more royalties. Big congrats to an outstanding Australian woman writer.

Onto the bones of the show. JByrne says that they’re looking at Sydney author, Kathryn Heyman’s, newest offering, Storm and Grace. JByrne says that it has been touted as the literary thriller of the year. That’s a big call seeing how it’s only April, but then again, she’s an author capable of making a big call. Let’s see if the panelists agree.

They do the dramatic recreation thingo. It looks like a romance movie or teenage coming of age movie. One where the lead female’s ultimate coming of age involves getting boinked. I’m not getting the thriller vibe from this footage. I might be getting slightly hard in the bra region but definitely not suspenseful.

Robo-Tham liked it. He found the book claustrophobic and uncomfortable. That’s exactly the feeling he wanted to get. He respects the level of research that she must have done to get the sensation of deep sea diving just right. Heyman’s research included free diving and deep sea diving. She definitely went all out.

Ace says it’s not a thriller because there is little suspense over the major crime. But he quite liked it. He says it’s a book about an “unusual” relationship and a very odd man. Marieke corrects him and says, “abusive relationship.” Preach. Let’s stop using euphemisms for family violence. They’re not “robust relationships.” They’re abusive. They’re criminal. Let’s not sweep it under the metaphorical rug with niceties.

JByrne was sucked in by the sexyness. Oh myyyyy. It’s a repeat of episode one of season ten where JByrne yearned for Heathcliff’s inky eyes. JByrne we need to talk. Let’s do coffee and Aunty Robin will tell you all about love and life. You’re not simply getting warm in the underpants region over literary bad boys, you’re getting excited for literary wife beaters. 

The knife comes out, Marieke says it’s a year 9 romance and the names of the characters, particularly Storm, are lame. She slams it as badly written and badly structured. So harsh. I think my mouth will never shut again because it is hanging open in shock. Brutal. All I can say is, brutal.

Marieke goes on to explain that her savagery comes from a place of crossness not because she’s a disparaging biatch. She lets us know that she ia quite nice and doesn’t actually enjoy saying awful things about books but she’s cross. She’s super cross because domestic violence is such an important issue and it needs to be explored but she thinks this did it badly. Maybe she wanted something more like Zoe Morrison’s Music and Freedom? I don’t know, but she is not happy. Not happy at all.

She says that Storm is a sleazy creep from the start so why did Grace ever fall for him? She says the seduction and Grace’s vulnerabilities needed to be clearer so that people understood why women get involved with these guys. For Marieke it was a creep from the start becomes a killer and that’s no surprise and wasn’t thriller worthy. 

JByrne is just about crying at this point. Why doesn’t Marieke understand that Storm is sexy? JByrne is all about the sexy. She’s possibly going to overtake Ace in the sexy loving stakes. 

The Fordinator speaks. She wanted the desire to be clearer. She felt that it wasn’t clear why Grace would fall for creepy, controlling Storm. JByrne is looking at her in despair. I can tell she’s thinking, “but he’s fucking hot!” But the Fordinator quite liked the Greek Chorus as a literary technique. JByrne says the Greek Chorus is why it is a literary thriller because Thrillers generally don’t have literary techniques.

I throw my glass of Brown Brothers Moscato at the television. It doesn’t make it. I simply makes a mess of my carpet. I love you JByrne, you are the sun and the moon, but you are wrong, oh so very wrong. Plenty of Thrillers use literary devices. Plenty! I could go on and and give a detailed list (OH, HOW DO I WANT TO GO ON AND GIVE A DETAILED DISSERTATION ON THIS) but I’m supposed to be writing a recap right now, but just know, I’m quietly seething… and sucking at my carpet.

Robo-Tham bravely steps up and explains to Marieke and Clementine the attraction women feel for Storm. He likens it to Trump. People voted for Trump because he talks big. They got sucked in by his confidence and big talk. You know how us ladies love big talk, orange skin, and extreme comb-overs. Amirightoramiright? Ooooo Trumpy, you so sexy. No. 

The Fordinator asks why do all the women have the same attraction. It’s almost as if she thinks us sheilas are diverse. Pfffft. Come on CFord, you know us ladeez are only after one thing.

Now onto discussing what the literary trends for 2017 will be:

  • Progressing from titled with GIRL in the title to WOMEN… Fuck. My book coming out the year is Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women. I’m falling into a stereotype before it’s even set. Shit!
  • Australian Domestic Noir, will be big. Phew. I’m not a complete stereotype. My November release is set in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. So it’s Australian, and it’s dark, but it’s not exactly domestic. 
  • Angry lady books will be big… Shit. 
  • Spec Fic with a literary bent will be in. SHITSHITSHITSHIT! Another glass of wine goes at the TV, hits the floor again.  Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women is Historical Fantasy. I basically take fairy tale princesses and lock them up in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. I’m a great big future trends whore instead of a maverick self publisher. I’m not a special snowflake.

    JByrne picks up Michael Sala’s newest book as an example of a book to look out for. I’m cheering at the TV. I used to teach with him. Go buy his book. Yay. Go Michael, go.

    The Fordinator admits that it’s a good time to be a feminist writer. Maintain the rage, sister, bring out Fight Like a Woman.

    Robo-Tham wants less celebrities writing, long pause, children’s books. What was the long pause? I read into everything he does because he’s a Crime writer. Is the pause because you mean not just children’s books but all books, or is it because you want to emphasise Children’s Books but they can run wild on adult? Tell me Robo-Tham, tell me!!! It probably means nothing and he just had to breathe.

    Which leads us to By the Bed. The segment where the panelists say what books are by the bed and I waft into a fantasy world of lying next to Ace’s bed.

    Robo-Tham is reading Rebus novels.

    Marieke throws a curve ball. She hasn’t been reading in bed but reading drunk in the bathtub. New fantasies are emerging. She’s been loving The Last Picture Show.

    JByrne has been reading Storyland.

    Ace has been reading 
    Crimson Lake by Candice Fox Small excited wee for Sydney crime writer Candice Fox. I adore her. More Candice, more L.A. Larkin, more Tania Chandler, more Emma Viskic, more Cass Moriarty, MORE SISTERS IN CRIME. 

    The Fordinator is reading 
    Circle of Friends. She says it’s like a hug. Awwww.

    And now for 
    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D Vance. Will Marieke go full savage on this one as well?

    JByrne does the intro, it’s a memoir but was billed as the inside story of Trump’s people. However the author said its purpose was to start a conversation not to be the ultimate explanation and lesson.

    Robo-Tham loved it. He kept nudging his wife in bed to read her quotes. She told him she had a headache. We’ve all been there.

    Ace said it reminded him of Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. A man who pulled himself up from poverty and an awful life to achieve greatness. And how they both nearly didn’t make it out of their horrific circumstances alive. 

    Marieke charges into this love fest and calls it a flat telling of an interesting story. She is having none of anyone’s shit today. She said it skimmed through interesting stuff that should have been fleshed out. Ace said he loved the skimming. They stare at each other across JByrne. Horns locked. I await JByrne saying something about sexyness. It does not happen.

    The Fordinator starts to say how she felt that the author was an intelligent guy and that the author should have moved passed the “America is the greatest country” rhetoric and actually given the idea some critical thought. He as a white man could pull himself out of despair. It was hard but would it not be even harder for others that aren’t CIS white men?

    Robo-Tham leaps into the thick of things. He talks more about the problems faced by America and white people in poverty and how beautifully J.D. Vance covered it by showing the good and the bad.

    Fordinator is back and asks why is it suddenly now that people care about poverty. Why is it that black and Hispanic people being in poverty is looked away from in disgust but now that it’s a white problem people are fascinated? Marieke and the Fordinator state that the author fails to recognise his own privilege as a white man. And again raise the issue that he never critiques the trite “America is the greatest country” without thinking about if it actually is or not.

    Robo-Tham tells Ford she wanted the author to “attack” his own country where as he could accept that Vance was still backing his own country. Did she want it critiqued or attacked? There’s a difference.

    In the end, the two white male panelists loved Hillbilly Elegy, and one out of the three white female panelists likewise loved it. Yep, that’s enough to get it voted in.

    JByrne concludes by letting us know that Omar and CS are back next week. Hooray, we loved them last year. They’re discussing Exit West and The Monkey’s Mask. And we are treated to a clip of Roald Dahl saying WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS!!! Because like dreams, you’ll forget them.

    Watch this episode on iView here.

    Read last year’s season highlights here.

    Buy my shit here.

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    Cass Moriarty: #Robinpedia

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    Cass Moriarty is an Australian author who resides in sunny Queensland. Her debut novel, The Promise Seed, was critically acclaimed. The Promise Seed was listed as one of Brisbane Libraries Top 40 Book Club Reads. Her second novel is due out in 2017 through UQP.

    A little known fact about Cass Moriarty is her love of giving advice. Not just about writerly things. Book recommendations, writing tips, home loans, internet trolls, whatever you want to ask the author anout, she can and will give you advice on. Cass Moriarty has been described as “a top notch literary citizen” because of her love of advice and reaching out to up and coming writers.

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    I have asked her if she holds ill will for any consulting detectives with a gift for observation, she neither confirmed nor denied the fact. I also asked her if she could be described as the “Napoleon of crime,” again no confirmation or denial.

    Find Cass Moriarty’s website here.
    Find Cass Moriarty on Facebook here.
    Find Cass Moriarty on twitter here.

    If you have any further information about Cass Moriarty that you think should be added please write it in the comment section.

    Find out what Robinpedia is here.

    ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 10 #bookclubABC

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    JByrne is gracing our screens and she is in the most glorious jacket that I have ever seen. I want to reach through the screen and rip it off of her body. She’s saying something about this being a special about Books that Transport You, but I can’t hear her over how awesome her jacket is. I can see that Noel Pearson, John Birmingham, my favourite comedian Kitty Flanagan, and OMG OMG OMG it’s Fantasy author CS Pacat.

    A spec fic author has been let out amongst the regular people. Usually spec fic readers and writers are cordoned off away from the other writers and readers but she’s here, she’s right in the middle of it at all. Tears of pride glisten in my eyes and I give a little chest thump in solidarity.

    Now, I usually like to guess the novels that guests are going to pick prior to each episode but I have failed every single time so I’m  just going to give up… Stuff it, I’m no quitter. I shall guess!

    Noel Pearson will choose The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.
    Kitty Flanagan will hopefully choose something by her dad. I’d love to hear her say, “Because he’s my daddy and I love him!”
    John Birmingham will choose Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
    CS Pacat will choose The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey.

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    Okay, Noel Pearson is the first guest to reveal his choice, he’s gone big, he has gone with the epic battle of heaven and hell that is Paradise Lost by John Milton. Awesome choice, in my opinion, but I have recently been told I have wanky taste in books. Pffft, if loving Calvino is wanky then I don’t want to be unwanky. Noel says that Paradise Lost and the Bible are probably the two books on God’s bedside table and that he thinks Milton is better than Shakespeare. POW! Them be fightin words in some parts. I sit and wait for someone to rip their shirt off and scream, “It’s go time!” it doesn’t happen. Noel even says, “Homer, you’re good, this is better.” Oh my. I’m biting my fingernail in anticipation. If someone had said that back in my uni days in one of the lit classes then it would have been on like Donkey Kong. It is not on. Why isn’t it on? Marieke or Jason would have argued with someone by now.

    John Birmingham says it wasn’t easy and that it felt like homework. But he agrees that it’s better than Shakespeare. Still no explosive argument. My poor heart can’t keep up this level of suspense. There has to be an explosion. John says that although it was hard work to read he felt better for reading it.

    Noel says knowing the Bible helps to be able to read it. And that reading with your ears helps because Milton wrote it whilst he was blind. John adds that it came to Milton in a dream and it just flowed from him and that mimicks the dreamy, lyrical flow of Paradise Lost.

    CS Pacat speaks. The spec fic world hold their collective breath, one of us has been allowed to speak, will she do us proud. CS calls bullshit. She says the devil is the hero, so God would not have this on his bedside table and that Milton would be nothing without Shakespeare. CS, you little rebel you, I knew I liked you. She basically infers that Milton is the Melania to Shakespeare’s Michelle. She says Milton is just riffing off Hamlet. JByrne is shocked. She didn’t expect CS to be so academic and knowledgeable. Firstly, spec fic writers and fans may have the reputation for being “dumb genre readers” but they’re actually highly educated and literate, particularly in literary and historical studies. So ner! And secondly, am I wrong in thinking that CS is dressed like a private school student? She literally looks like she’s walked off a school assembly and come on the show. If that outfit doesn’t scream book smart, I don’t know what does.

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    Noel defends Milton and says that he and Shakespeare operate on different planes. Shakespeare and Darwin operate at the human level whereas Milton and Einstein operate at the cosmic level. CS is a bit meh, about the metaphor, whilst the rest of the world is like, HOW FUCKING PROFOUND IS NOEL PEARSON! She says Paradise Lost is a bit of an obedience parable and obedience is probably her least favourite thing. I knew she was a rebel. Spec Fic fans everywhere are shouting at their TVs with pride. Some have no idea why, because they’re not even watching the show, but the psychic bond is so profound that they find themselves shouting anyway.

    JByrne said she found it hard to read but loved the audio book…

    Noel says he liked how Milton had come up with a new theology surrounding Satan as more of a gatekeeper rather than just a straight up bad guy without being blasphemous. I smash my wine glass and scream, THAT’S NOT ORIGINAL TO MILTON! Heck, the concept predates him by a long shot. CS and her rebellious ways have rubbed off on me. But seriously, it wasn’t new to Milton. That was actually standard until around the 800s. With Satan being the minder of the underworld and punisher of the wicked that God sent to Hell. Then by the 1200s he had developed into this full on tempter for his own sake kind of dude and not part of the continuum. He’s just playing with that. But, whatever.

    Kitty Flanagan says she found it hard to read and didn’t like it and it was way over her head. She didn’t think the Bible was much chop either. Noel does not like this. But let’s move on from Milton.

    Kitty introduces John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. She is quite timid about it, given that it’s YA and Noel has just been talking about an epic battle between heaven and hell. I say, don’t be timid, genre snobbism is bluuuurrrggghhh. Read what resonates with you, and never apologise. Kitty says that The Fault in Our Stars transported her back to her teen years and made her wish that she was a more worthy teen. This book wasn’t about sex and alcohol it was about love and purity and she loved it.

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    Kitty then pulls out how John Green made her understand mothers. That she’d never thought about how much you could love a role and have it come to define you and how important it becomes to your very soul. She pulls out a quote that really brought this home for her from when the lead character’s mother is overheard privately talking and crying on her husband’s chest and says “I won’t be a mom anymore.” Kitty has tears in her eyes, and now so do I. JByrne says the mum is selfish and how could she care about herself when her daughter was suffering. It’s because her daughter’s suffering is killing her, and it’s because she loves her daughter more than herself and her life will feel empty without her. Kitty points out once someone is dead, they’re dead, and that those awho are left are the ones suffering and grieving. My god, Kitty is just so profound and beautiful and I love her even more. Now excuse me whilst I go cry in my room for the next year. Yes, I have three children. Yes I have my period. Yes I am feeling emotional.

    John said he liked it.

    JByrne said the book made her feel old.

    CS says the subject matter was too close to hoe for her so althought it was well written she kept it at arms-length.

    Noel doesn’t speak about it much, I suspect he didn’t read it. NAUGHTY!

    JByrne talks about how many of the books that really affect you are from your childhood, such as Alice in Wonderland, Marry Poppins and Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. I have to admit the first book I thought of when they said – books that transport you – was, The Enchanted Woods.

    John Birmingham’s turn. He goes for a literal transportation to Italy with Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb. It’s an Australian Author, so, you know… buy it. (John and CS are both Australian authors, so buy their stuff too please.) It’s got lots of description about fruit, colours, and crime. That’s right people, there’s some mafia action in this.

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    Kitty says she liked it but there were so many words and descriptions that it was a bit heavy, and a bit too much like doing work. Yuck, work sucks. She said it wasn’t an easy read, have a laugh and quick flick, Bill Bryson type affair. She couldn’t quite pick the narrative thread. And she would have found it a little easier if it had a clearer narrative arc rather than jumping from place to place. John says it was a metaphor for being there.

    Noel said he found it really easy to read and had zero trouble. I feel like he and Kitty are secretly twins. Kitty suggests that they must do dinner sometime because they’ll just have so much to talk about… like all the stuff that they don’t have in common.

    CS has family from that region so found that Robb’s view of Sicily was different from hers so that distanced her from the book. She wouldn’t comment specifically on its accuracy but was skeptical of certain parts. There is far more to Sicily than the mafia and food.

    Now it’s time for the final book and the rebellious CS has gone with SCI FI!!! Hooray. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. CS says that the best sci fi doesn’t just make you look at the world created but makes you look at your own world differently after reading it. And that Ancillary Justice made her rethink how she viewed gender and how she thought about sexes.

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    Kitty and Noel struggled with the whole, a person who becomes a ship who becomes a person aspect. Noel said he transported himself elsewhere and it wasn’t to sci fi. Might I suggest they watch a little Doctor Who, in particular, The Girl in the Fireplace episode, and Man to Man with Dean Learner, in particular the episodes that feature BOB, in order to get yourself into the mindset where that kind of stuff is normal. Yes Ancillary Justice did revolutionary stuff with gender but the whole using people as parts stuff isn’t that unique, however it is done incredibly well. Incredible book. But not every aspect of it is holey unique and groundbreaking, otherwise it would be way too hard to read if there wasn’t a single grounding element. Just my opinion.

    John didn’t like it. But he doesn’t like to admit that because generally the people who don’t like it are whiny entitled man babies and he hates to side with them on anything because they’re such wankers. He talks about how awful these dudes are and how they hijacked awards and devalued sci fi in America with their tantrum over this novel, and how they voted in shit novels for future awards after Ancillary Justice took out all the major awards. And so he really dislikes them, but… he just didn’t like the novel. And that makes him sad, because he wants to like it so that people don’t call him a whiney man baby.

    JByrne says she was glad to read it because she felt like it was an important book even if she didn’t understand all of it. And she liked that it challenged her.

    John ponders what books they’ll be talking about from now in 400 years.

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    And that’s a wrap. Were you transported? Toni Jordan, my Michael Williams and Gorgi Coghlan are on next week for a regular episode. I cannot wait. Haven’t seen Gorgi before but everyone knows how much I love Toni and Michael, so it is bound to be smashing! SMASHING!!!

    Read my recap on the last Book Club special ep here.

    Watch past episodes on ABC iView.

    ABC Book Club S10 E6 #bookclubABC

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    In tonight’s episode of ABC’s The Book Club JByrne has discarded regular panelist Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex like old school wedding confetti and replaced them with the bubbly Geoff Cousins, Amelia Lester, Zoe Norton Lodge, and Christos Tsiolkas. The theme of this evenings episode is Books that Divide a Dinner Party.

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    Perhaps the regular panelists have been put aside because JByrne doesn’t want to fight with them yet again or because they’ve staged a rebellion over reading 3 novels a week. I feel you, I didn’t always love reading between 2 and 4 novels a week when I did my English degree.

    Before the guests give away their choices I’d like to predict what they will say. Kerri Sackville recently wrote an article on psychics and I’d like to see if I have the gift.

    Geoff Cousins… hmmm, what will the businessman, advertiser extraordinaire, turned novelist and environmentalist find controversial at one of his dinner parties? Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Advertising, propaganda, that’s kind of similar, right?

    Amelia Lester the Havard graduate and editor of Good Weekend would obviously choose Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s got lots of big words in it, not necessarily used correctly but they’re in there. I’m sure it’s wildly popular with the Havard alumni.

    Zoe Norton Lodge is published by the fabulous small Australian press- Giramondo, a regular on The Checkout  and a friend of The Chaser, so will no doubt go hard or go home. She’ll crack out the big guns, The Bible / The Quran / The Sutras / The Vedas / The Tulmud. It is going to blow our mind and leave our jaws dropped for the next six weeks.

    Now Christos Tsiolkas is a very talented writer who has a habbit of writing novels that get turned into movies. Most recently The Slap got made into a mini series in both Australia and the US. It was pretty controversial around to smack or not smack not just your own child but another person’s. So in order to really put another firecracker up the buttocks of parents I think he’ll go with Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall.

    Does JByrne get a choice? If so, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I don’t really know why, just the vibe of the thing.

    Oh and of course the usual disclaimer, I’m dyslexic so grammar nazis should run while the still can.

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    Okay, first cab off the rank is Zoe. Dear Zoe has gone with Road to Ruin by Niki Savva. I feel so stupid. Of course she’d go political with the up coming election. The Bible, what the fuck was I thinking. Ugh, I hate myself. It’s a great choice because the book is about Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin and it’s just so salacious and weird that you want it to be true but you know parts of it must be made up. It has Credlin feeding Abbott and snuggling up on his shoulder at Part dinners, and all sorts of crazy shit. It’s so gross and entertaining but also sadly hard to believe.

    Zoe describes it as juicy. She talks about how Niki breaks all the journalistic codes of conduct but she bloody loved it. Geoff mentions he’s worked in politics and the events aren’t like anything he ever experienced. Christos states it reads like a work of fiction but Abbott’s character motivation is never revealed which is problematic for a story. Amelia points out how Credlin has been put under more scrutiny than any other chief of staff. JByrne says no journalist has been able to get any proof of an affair. And Savva has very cleverly made everyone think that Abbott and Credlin are having an affair without explicitly stating it.

    Christos has gone with Submission by Michael Hourllebecq. Nothing like my prediction at all but it certainly is controversial. Even more timely with Brexit going through. It centers around Muslim people winning the election in France in 2022.

    Amelia thought she’d hate it because she thought it wouldn’t be her cup of tea. But she did like it because it isn’t so much a book about Islam as a book about how the West need to step up. Geoff likes how materialism is the enemy. Zoe wasn’t a fan of the older academic being paired with a young hottie with no panties but the rest she liked. JByrne and Zoe agree that the trope of the older male academic with the young hottie is tired. Geoff likes the mention of food throughout. JByrne thinks that’s satyr, I think that’s classic French literature. Regardless, panelists are not divided as promised and all liked it. False advertising!

    Geoff has gone with The Tree of Man by Patrick White. A novel that tries to give the sense of grand mystique and history to Australia that Europe has so I’m going to pretend I’m close with my prediction and say it is advertisery / propagandary.

    Geoff and Christos talk about how great the book is and how much they agree with each other. Where’s the controversy! For God’s sake Christos, give him the slap. We all want to see the slap. Zoe likes it too. Not even complaints about hotties and panties. Geoff randomly starts ragging on Jane Austen? Zoe says Austen is like porn, sexy for women… Geoff finds that crass and has a little dig at Zoe. You back off Geoff, Zoe is the only one bringing pizazz to this panel. You talk about porn all you like Zoe. This is supposed to be controversial. Austen is porn seems pretty controversial to me. Thank you!

    Amelia is lucky last and she has chosen Lean In by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg… which is kind of exactly like Fifty Shades if you think about it… Alright, I accept I got it wrong. I can see why it would be controversial. White women from affluent backgrounds with husbands would relate to Lean In. However, even Sandberg has come out since the tragic death of her husband and said leaning in isn’t quite so easy for single mothers. Imagine how hard it would be for women from disadvantaged backgrounds. I imagine I’m going to hear the term “white privilege” in any discussion about Lean in.

    JByrne suggests lean in means behave more like men. Amelia denies Sandberg would agree with that. Zoe points out how Sandberg’s husband uprooted a whole company in order to accommodate their family and help with childcare… which caused a whole shit load of problems for other family forced to move. Amelia liked it as a memoir but not as a manifesto of how others should live. Christos would like to have learned more about her family of origin and her guilt. He felt there was a better to story to tell. JByrne says she likes that Sandberg promotes trying to make good money. Women should be allowed to want to make a shit load of cash.

    Great choices by the panelists. I’m clearly not psychic but it was a fun episode. Not as controversial as last week or episode 1, but still good. More Zoe PLEASE!

    And ohmygodohmygodohmygod my two favourite panelists are on next week, Virginia Gay and Michael Williams.

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    And I’ve got tickets to the screening. I think I’m going to pass out…

    Catch up on last week’s recap here.

    Catch up on viewing previous episodes on ABC iView.

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    The Book Club ABC S10 E4 #bookclubABC

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    It’s here. The moment that I have been waiting for all week. It’s Maguire day! Tonight Book Club is discussing An Isolated Incident by the angelic Emily Maguire. I am so excited. It is absolutely top notch. If you haven’t read it yet I recommend you do. It isn’t a light and refreshing read like last weeks Mothering Sunday, it is more gripping and fraught… and I will savage any panelist who doesn’t say glowing things about it.

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    Full disclosure I’m dyslexic so there are going to be some errors. There will be typos, spellos, grammos and just plain wrongos aplenty. Grammar Nazis, for your own sanity, run for your life.

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    I try my best but there will always be things that my eyes see differently than yours and my hands will react differently to brain stimulus than yours

    Now that the informalities (yes, you see what I did there) are over, let’s begin recapping and have some fun. JByrne enters. She is of course glorious and we all completely lose our shit at the sheer gloritude that is the Byrneinator

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    JByrne introduces her guests Adam Liaw and Michael Robotham. If you’re wondering why Adam Liaw, chef extraordinaire is on a show about books instead of food then just take a look at his twitter profile. He is an absolute scream. Michael Robotham should make sense though because he writes dark psychological thrillers and people have described An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire as a psychological thriller so he seems like a good fit. My only issue is that it is taking a supreme effort for me to remember that his last name is Robotham and not Robottom. The first time I read Michael’s last name my dyslexic brain rushed right on through it and came up with Ro-BOTTOM. I did giggle at length. And so to keep my mind straight I have to keep saying to myself Robo-Tham. Which is making me think of Robocop. I know what a cop is but what is a tham? But that probably doesn’t bother anybody else at all so how about we move on with the rest the recap and our lives.

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    Regular panelists Marieke and Jason are there. And we all applaud like crazy. And by we I mean me and my glass of wine. We’re both big fans. Moscato if you must know. Brown Brothers.

    Adam kicks off the discussion on Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident by saying the first time he read the book it hurt him right in the feels because the men were violent and misogynistic and he’s not like that. Yep, Adam did a #notallmen. Then he reread it and realised it wasn’t all about him. Jason and Michael jumped in also with their complaints about how the men weren’t portrayed nicely… oh how sad. Gosh I can’t think of anything worse… you know, other than always being portrayed as a virgin, mother, or whore. So sad for men to be stereotyped. I switch from my glass of white wine to my mug of men’s tears for the remainder of the episode.

    One criticism that was leveled against An Isolated Incident that I actually agreed with was that it wasn’t a classic psychological thriller. As Jason points out it’s about grief, misogyny, representation of women in the media, and violence against women. To me that’s a marketing issue not a novel or author issue, though. It was a damn fine novel that dealt with character,  place and grief beautifully.

    For a truly amazing psychological thriller you cannot go past The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. So if it’s the genre that is disturbing you then give it a go. If you haven’t read The Turn of the Screw make sure you do. There’s also a creepy black and white movie of it. The singing still haunts me and I last saw it when I was in Primary School. That’s 30 years of mental scarring from that film. Impressive, no?

    The classic has been chosen by Marieke this week. It is the fabulous Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It’s part of a movement of post WWII literature that looks at displaced young men making their way in the world. The main character is Jim Dixon, a lecturer of medieval history. If you’re expecting an uber sexy lecturer about to bust out and kick some Nazi buttocks like archeology lecturer Indiana Jones then you’re in for disappointment… which is kind of sad because it is a brilliant book. Dark humour is created because Jim doesn’t really enjoy being a lecturer but he also doesn’t want to lose his job. He has also got a manipulative and slightly deranged girlfriend who he’s just not that into but doesn’t want to break up with either. Jim negotiating his lack of enthusiasm for his current path is quite comical and of course it all culminates with him getting truly pissed and drunkenly telling it like it is. It’s cringe worthy comedy.

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    Marieke loves Lucky Jim. She likens it to hitting people she doesn’t like with a stick, which appeals to her. Michael said it was full of lols. Jason calls it consistently amusing. Everyone loves it. What a triumph!

    JByrne annouces there shall be some Titanic related discussions next week. I do hope everyone dresses in sailor suits.

    Enjoy the rest of your week.

    Catch up on past episodes on ABC iView.

    Catch up on last weeks episode recap here.

    The Book Club ABC S10 E2 Recap #bookclubABC

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    Tonight’s episode promises to be very interesting or completely traumatising with JByrne taking the stage without her trusty sidekicks. The episode features Marlon James, Kate Tempest, Paula Hawkins, and Vivian Gornick, and they will be revealing the books that changed their lives. I’m nervous, hold me.

    But before we kick off I’d like to jot down my predictions on the books that will be chosen and see how I go.

    Marlon James – Voyage in Darkness by Jean Rhys

    Kate Tempest – I had guessed Canterbury Tales by Chaucer until it was revealed that it was a book that DTrump loves, so I’m changing to The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli.

    Paula Hawkins – Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

    Vivian Gornick – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

    Let’s see how I go. Also, full disclosure, I’m dyslexic so this could get weird.

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    And the show begins. JByrne annouces that there are four exciting authors. She’s right. They’re all brilliant but none of them are looking all that excited.

    Okay, Marlon James is the first cab off the rank for books that changed my life… he throws a curveball, he goes for a comic series instead. What? Too soon. You can’t curve on the first one.

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    He has gone with The Uncanny X-Men. I can hear a thud nextdoor. I assume it’s the little old lady who lives there flipping her table in rage at this sneaky choice. Props, I’m a geek, let’s do lunch and compare collections, but I think you might have killed my neighbour. I liked her.

    X-Men inspired Marlon to write the fantastical and the extremes in the human condition. The brave to the cowardly. Good to evil.

    JByrne tells of her surprise that X-Men is quite literary. Geeks of the world groan because intertextuality is huge in comics.

    Next we go onto Kate Tempest who goes with William Blake. I love Blake. A poet who writes of simplicity and excess with equal deftness. I am surprised that Trump enjoys Blake. JByrne reveals he has quotes up in his Trump Towers. Kate suggests Trump should perhaps read more Blake. She is of course right. Blake links well with the intertextuality mentioned with X-Men because he speaks of acknowledging your inspirations and what came before you.

    JByrne suggests that timing is everything when it comes to reading a book that changes your life. The panelists agree. You need the book with the right message at the right time. Some books you might miss the brilliance of because you are too young or too old… JByrne is possibly still upset over Wuthering Heights. Read about last weeks episode here. It got heated and hilarious. VirginiaGay and Marieke Hardy were so good.

    Vivian Gornick goes with Son’s and Lovers. She came from a rough background and this resonated with her. JByrne also had an intense reaction to this book. She didn’t want to become like the wicked mother. Vivian speaks about how each time she reads it that she relates to a different character. She can relate to it through multiple stages of her life which makes it such a great book.

    And Jesus, I’m tired. It’s past my bedtime. I’m 36 which makes me your fourth youngest viewer and I’m dying in the arse. But my fanatical love of the show urges me to persist. Okay, focus.

    Paula Hawkins has chosen Notes on a Scandal. She loves the narrator. An incredibly lonely, bitter, unreliable narrator. Marlon James raised his hand as feeling personally victimised by the unreliable narrator. She was a bitch.

    So in summary, I am rubbish at guessing things and the episode was fantastic. Books that speak of the duality of life and the human spirit tend to resonate with readers, even readers who also happen to be brilliant authors.

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    P.S. BLaw is on next week!!!!

    Catch up on past episodes on ABC iView.

    Marieke Hardy Was Right, Jennifer Byrne Was Wrong: Book Club ABC Season 10 Episode 1 #bookclubABC

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    The title says it all really. Jennifer Byrne was oh so very wrong and Marieke Hardy was brilliantly right. The end. Okay, I’ll elaborate. Last Thursday I was lucky enough to witness tonight’s episode of ABC’s The Book Club live. One of the highlights for me was the discussion of Wuthering Heights. A text that I have long found problematic yet women seem to love.

    For those of you who haven’t read this much praised classic I’ll give a brief summary. The focus of most readers adoration is the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy. Heathcliff as a kid is taken in by a wealthy family who are awful to him. He suffers an abusive childhood and is viewed poorly by all except Cathy who actually becomes quite sweet on him. Heathcliff is a bit of a controlling a-hole. Yes he’s had an abusive childhood but that doesn’t make it fun to be on the receiving end of his shit. Anyway, Heathcliff goes off to make his fortune, because he doesn’t have one. He returns older and super sexy. Like, super, super, sexy. Your underpants are going to melt visualising him, sexy. Cathy has already shacked up with another dude. She wants social standing and a good marriage will do that, so off she goes. So she marries whatshisname… Edmund, Egbert, Ebenezer… Edgar, that’s the name I’m looking for, Edgar. I knew it was an unfortunate E name, just not which one. Edgar has the cash and respect so is a suitable husband. He’s also pretty docile. Heathcliff of course fucking hates him and feels betrayed that his teen crush has had the audacity to move on with her life. So Heathcliff reacts like any “nice guy” would, copious amounts of whinging, and banging Edgar’s sister. Both figuratively and literally. He marries her and beats her, even when she’s pregnant. And to top it all off he’s an utter arsehole to his own son. What a catch. But apparently we’re all supposed to forgive him for his domestic violence because he’s just sooooo sexy and in love with his darling Cathy. Cathy who is pretty obnoxious herself. She, like Heathcliff, is uber sexy, but is arrogant, obnoxious, spoilt and a social climber.

    So essentially Cathy and Heathcliff epitomise the teenage years. Raging hormones, inability to sit down and think clearly, epic tantrums, tight bodies and glowing skin. The idea of if you’re suffering then you must be in love. And that if your crush is hot enough then he can be a controlling, abusive, a-hole… I’m waiting for Lisa Wilkinson to do an epic rant about how this is just domestic violence dressed up as romance and is dangerous for young women. Forget blaming Disney or 50 Shades for unrealistic expectations about love, we’ve got a whole canon of classics that have done that already.

    But I digress, let’s get back to The Book Club on ABC and how Marieke Hardy was right and Jennifer Byrne was wrong. When Wuthering Heights was introduced Jennifer Byrne thanked Jeanette Winterson profusely for putting it forth to be discussed because it was her totes-mega-fav of all time. That’s possibly not an exact quote but it’s close enough. Marieke Hardy, bless her leopard print jumpsuit, pulled a suitably disgusted face. And when it was her time to talk she said so much of what has been on my mind for the past twenty years since I first read it that I nearly stood up and cheered. Marieke, my new soul sister, said that although there were some very amusing dog attacks sprinkled throughout the novel, that it wasn’t enough to get her tick of approval. Catherine was whiny, Heathcliff was sadistic. There weren’t  enough humorous dog attacks in the world to make these characters palatable. Virginia Gay bravely stood up and proclaimed that she too found Heathcliff a tad abusive. Jennifer Byrne tried to suppress an eye twitch and expressed her feelings of betrayal that Virginia Gay could turn on her thus. No visible tears were shed but you could tell her soul was weeping like a school girl who had just been dumped. Virginia Gay asked the shaken Jennifer Byrne if she could imagine being in a relationship with Heathcliff. And then Jennifer Byrne let her inner teenager out and wildly declared, “no, but can you imagine having sex with him?” Marieke threw up in her mouth a little but her lipstick remained in tact, and might I add, fabulous. An erotic montage of all the actors who have played Heathcliff over the years, appeared above Virginia’s head to the soundtrack of Kate Bush’s famous track. The cameras clouded over with the collective steam coming from the loins of the audience members. A fire alarm went off, a mass evacuation happened, liquid nitrogen was applied to everyone’s genital area, and then we all returned to the studio. Marieke was still sitting in there, stone cold. Filming continued on as if nothing happened. Part of this may have been untrue…

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    I absolutely loved this exchange and had to physically restrain myself from running onto the stage and embracing Marieke to my flat, yet heaving, bossom, and declaring my undying love for her on the spot. For two decades now I have been poopooing the “love” element and declaring it toxic and not romantic. First when I was 17, then again in university. And it wasn’t pretty in university. I was already out of place being a dyslexic doing a literature degree, add to that my dislike of this classic, which I do admit is beautifully written and the mood intoxicating, and some of the other students were ready to tar and feather me. My decades of conflict over my opinion of Wuthering Heights actually inspire a section in What Happens in Book Club… 3. Full disclosure, it is not at all based on this TV show so if you think you’re getting secret info on Jennifer Byrne’s sexy past and how she met Denton then you will be bitterly disappointed. It has nothing to do with this show and is just chick lit focused around a regular book club, it isn’t Byrne’s night at all… Fuck it, download part 1 here anyway. It’s free. Help an author out and get my downloads increased. Anyway,  I’m cutting and pasting part of my fictional book club’s meeting on Wuthering Heights here, it’s the pre edit version, and then you will see exactly why I was so delighted by this exchange.

    Chapter 4

    “He’s just so passionate,” Catherine says. Bloody Catherine would love Catherine and Heathcliff. “So passionate and tragic. It’s like Heathcliff doesn’t know how to love properly because he never got it as a child, and so he tries so desperately to love his Cathy but he doesn’t truly know how.”

    I stare at Catherine. She looks so perfect. Flawless skin, full rose petal lips, a fringe that you could use as a set square and hair so glossy that varnish companies are no doubt hounding her for its secrets, yet somehow she’s just so darn annoying.

    “Oh I know,” Sharon oozes. “And he’s just so sexy. That dark skin, that powerful frame. He reminds me so much of my husband.”

    “Isn’t your husband a bit on the short and pale side,” Kylie asks, screwing up her nose a little.

    “I meant because of the intense sexual energy they both emit.”

    ”Heathcliff is the perfect Byronic hero,” Catherine quickly interjects bringing the discussion back on topic and blessedly far away from Sharon’s portly husband and a spray of horror an vomit erupting forth from my mouth.

    It’s like Catherine has to let everyone know how academic she is. That her opinion is more valuable because she can use the technical terms. Anyone can read the crib notes, Catherine, it doesn’t make you smart. I’d prefer to hear your opinion than the blog post you swallowed.

    “So dark, so intense, so passionate and willing to do anything for his love,” Catherine continues. “He’s the perfect man.”

    “Good to see we’re glorifying domestic violence,” I flatten the conversation just in time to avoid ovaries exploding all over the place.

    Mac hides a grin behind her hand. She loves it when the discussion picks up. I got to book club a few minutes late so haven’t asked her about her new job yet. Will have to find time to ask her. I haven’t been keeping up with our chats but she looks really happy, and I’m pretty sure she’s wearing genuine Jimmy Choo’s so she must be doing well. Selene, on the other hand, shoots me a look that could kill. She squints her eyes at me and it almost seems like she is trying to will me to shut up.

    Something is up with her tonight. She has rushed the conversation a few times tonight. It is as if she wants to get the meeting over and done with quickly. Perhaps if I had kept in touch better I’d know what. But I’ve just been so depressed with this whole work thing that I haven’t been able to do much at all. Maureen drags me to the gym every other day but that’s about it.

    “Domestic violence!” Catherine snorts. I always love it when she does that. I live to catch her slipping up from her image of perfection. “That’s a bit unfair.”

    “Yeah, totes,” I mock, ignoring Selene deepening her frown at me. If she frowns any harder her forehead is going to drip over her chin. “Let’s see. He marries Isabella just to piss off Edgar. She loves him so much, yet he’s cruel and violent to her.”

    “But that’s because of his childhood,” Catherine defends Heathcliff. “And he doesn’t love her, he loves Catherine.”

    “Oh, of course,” I put every bit of contempt I can into my voice. “That makes it all okay. He doesn’t love her so he can beat her. He was beaten so he can beat others. Nobody has to take responsibility for their actions and change. And not only do they not have to change but they’re considered just so dreamy and passionate because of the lengths that they’ll go to. Sounds an awful lot like defending domestic violence to me.”

    “But… but…” Catherine looks entirely sad and deflated, “He loves her…”

    Silence falls and everybody looks down at their drinks. I’ve killed book club. If only Maureen was here tonight. She’d have the perfect funny thing to say that would defuse this horrible mess I’ve made.

    “I didn’t finish the book,” Sharon’s confession rings out across the silence.

    “Me neither,” Kylie starts to laugh. “I got fifty pages in and then watched the movie.”

    “Ralph Fiennes is just so sexy,” Sharon looks a little embarrassed and apologetic, “I just love him in anything.”

    “He is pretty hot,” I concede and give a smile to smooth things over. “I probably got a little intense.”

    “A bit?” Selene raises an eyebrow, “How about a lot, don’t take your personal issues out on the rest of it.”

    “Hey, I got the rapey vibe from Wuthering Heights too,” Sophie defends me.

    “What personal issues?” Kylie is looking at me with her concerned mum face on.

    “Nothing,” I mutter.

    I wish Maureen was here. She even borrowed my copy of Wuthering Heights. She should be here… (There’s more to chapter 4 but we move away from Wuthering Heights at this point so I’ll stop here.)

    So let me just wrap up this entry with a great big thank you to Marieke Hardy. You are my spirit animal and I adore yo

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    u.