Tag Archives: Michael Robotham

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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    Oh Shit! It’s Fathers’ Day and I Forgot to Get a Gift.

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    So it’s Fathers’ Day this weekend and you haven’t gotten a gift yet. You’re thinking of buying your old man a selection of imported beers but there’s only so many times you can do that exact same gift before it begins to look thoughtless. Don’t worry, I’ve got the perfect solution to your problems. BOOKS!

    1. Error Australis by Ben Pobjie. A hilarious look at Australian history in the style reminiscent of the TV recap. If your father doesn’t like the Project Rum Way section then he is a souless monster who does not deserve a gift in the first place. Seriously, fuck him and get it for yourself. There, I said it, everybody was thinking it, but I said it, and I don’t regret it.

    2. Walking Wounded by Brian Freeman and Tony Parks. Brian Freeman is an ex soldier who takes young soldiers who have served in Afghanistan on treks through the Kokoda tracks. This process helps rehabilitate the soldiers. This book is filled with the incredible stories of sacrifice that those soldiers have told Brian Freeman. A most humbling read.

    3. Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham. There’s crime, there’s suspense, there’s conflict, there’s danger. It’s got everything you’d want and expect in a book by the highly acclaimed, criminal master writer, Michael Robotham. Maybe give dad a torch as well so that he doesn’t get too scared. A big sturdy one.

    4. Bound by Alan Baxter. Has your dad ever wanted to see a mixed martial arts champion go up against mosters? Then this is the book for him. If he hasn’t ever wanted to see this, then you need to chat to your dad about expanding his imagination and sit him down for a Jet Li movie marathon.

    5. Destination Saigon by Walter Mason. The author describes it as Eat, Pray, Love but fat and gay. It’s a beautiful exploration of Vietnam with touching and humorous anecdotes. One of my favourite travel memoirs of all time.

    Heck, if your dad doesn’t like these books at least you will. They’re all good choices. Enjoy.

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    Don't get dad socks.

    ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 9 #bookclubABC

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    I’ve managed to make it to another live recording of the show, so it’s not just me and my wine, but me and the peoples this week. AND just quietly, sitting in the row in front of me is author C S Pacat. I turn to the person next to me and say, “Is that C S Capat.” My neighbour looks at me like I’m an alien and I realize that I have mispronounced the name. It’s like some sort of weird thing that happens in my brain every dang time I try to say Pacat.

    JByrne appears before us. I have no time to correct myself and ask again because JByrne is here and fabulous. She is excited. She tells us that she has a book about 19th Century whaling that is “100% guaranteed to knock your socks off.” That’s a 100% guarantee people, you can’t really get better than that. And 19th Century whaling? What doesn’t scream excitement about that? Who doesn’t love a little Moby Dick?

    Michael Robotham, AKA Robo-Tham, is allowed to introduce the classic being covered. He is obviously feeling a little nervous because he simply says the title, The Other Hand. He has to be coaxed for more details. You can sense the dread in his soul that his beloved classic will be savaged. But by whom? Will it be Marieke or Jason this week? Or JByrne herself? When she goes bad she goes all out. She makes dark-side Xena look like Rainbow Brite.

    JByrne then moves on to note that Benjamin Law, AKA BLaw, is also on the panel and that he has bare ankles.

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    OMG! I am completely losing my shit. She know that his ankles have become an obsession with book clubbers. JByrne has listened to our comments, she is here for us. I crane my neck to get a look at Stegersaurussex’s ankle region. He is wearing bright yellow sock. Oh, this is heaven. We’re on sock watch people. #sockwatch.

    Oh, it’s dramatic recreation time. This is where they’ll show us clips that they think are representative of The North Water by Ian McGuire. I’d consider grabbing a cup of tea if I were home. It’s not my favourite part, nothing interesting ever happens… What in blueberry fuck am I seeing? There’s a whale being cut apart. I’m going to be sick. I’m dying. Somebody pass me my salts. The horror, the horror. This recreation is way more full on than usual. I was expecting some whales jumping about, instead I got blood and blubber. I need a bath.

    Stegersaurussex says he loved The North Water. I’m still heaving and he’s talking about the novel. He says, “I loved it from the first paragraph.” The writing was electric, the characters were awful and it was fantastic. Noted, more awful people and electrical goods in all of my future writing.

    Marieke says it was absolutely disgusting and she loved it. Doesn’t she know that she’s supposed to disagree with Steggersaurussex? Marieke says that it made her want to join a ship and then stab someone. That’s a lot of feelings right there. She says it was so deliciously bloody and disgusting that she felt like she needed a shower afterwards.

    Robo-Tham raises her one shower and says he needed many showers during it. That it made The Revenant look like it was written by Beatrix Potter. I’m so intrigued by this book right now yet terrified. Can I handle something that makes The Revenant look like cuddly bunnies?

    BLaw says, imagine if Ridley Scott’s Alien was set on a 19th Century whaling ship. I’m scared, hold me. I don’t even know if I can watch this episode about it let alone read it. But it sound so utterly brilliant that I want to be brave enough to try.

    Robo-Tham only has one criticism of it, he wanted a goodie and the book is utterly lacking in the good, it just has the bad and the ugly. The lead character, Drax, is described so vividly as evil that the panelists actually start using his name as a descriptor. If someone is becoming very Drax, I gather it’s really not a good thing. To be described as being Drax is like being called the pinnacle of evil brutality. That’s such high praise for the book. That the panelists have engaged with it so much that they’re coopting words from it and giving them added meaning.

    Stegersaurussex says he loves how McGuire describes odours. Everyone groans and clutches their noses. They’re having real, physical reactions to this novel. It must be excellent. He talks about the “roaring stench.” A simple, yet powerful description.

    BLaw is utterly impressed with The North Water because it set up a world that he didn’t think he’d be interested in and sucked him right in with the evocative language and brutal characters. JByrne agrees, she says it’s like a historical fiction but far more visceral than anything that has gone before. Robo_Tham says that there isn’t enough fake blood in Hollywood to make this into a film. I can hear executives in Hollywood screaming CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

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    Well, in a rare Book Club moment, it’s unanimous, everybody loves The North Water. It’s clearly a winner. Buy it if you dare.

     

    Now it’s time for a little By the Bed, where the panelists talk about what they’re reading and we all imagine what Steggersaurussex’s bedroom looks like. Or is that just me?

    JByrne is reading Katherine Carlyle.

    Steger is reading Moments in Time.

    Blaw is reading The Sympathiser

    Marieke is reading My Name Is

    Robo-Tham is ordered by JByrne not to talk about the book he is reading until later. He looks confused but obeys. He saw what happened to Virgina Gay when she spoke out of turn. She hasn’t been allowed back for weeks. WEEKS! Rumour has it that she’s going to have to wear a muted shoe colour when she comes back as punishment… I just made that rumour up then.

     

    Now a fun section on how important covers are. BLaw being the expert answers the question, with very. Robo-Tham says yellow is big at the moment. We must start a show us your #yellowshelfie thingy. I shall take a picture of Jason’s socks for my next cover, it shall be a smash. Marieke says that she avoids anything with champers and heels on the cover. Marieke, you simply must download my free ebook, I think you’ll love it. We can discuss it over lunch.

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    Love me!

     

    … No? A little too pink? Whatever.

    JByrne decides to test the panelists on their knowledge by holding up book covers and asking what the genre is. Jason is the first cab off the ranks, he accidentally says arse instead of ice in his answer so Ben is still laughing when it comes to his turn. Because accidentally saying anything bottom related is always funny. ALWAYS! Forget #sockwatch, we’re on #arsewatch now. Robo-Tham gets women’s fiction and answers correctly. Marieke gets a very obvious fantasy cover and asks if it’s for teenage boys who want to get erections. Coincidentally it’s a cover from the Rangers Apprentice series, which is written by Kitty Flanagan’s dad, and she’s rumoured to be on next episode. I did not make that one up.

    Robo-Tham introduces his classic The Other Hand by Chris Cleave again. He’s saying he likes it, but after the passion oozing out of everyone for The North Waters it just feels flat in comparison. Ben says some nice things, but again they’re falling flat. It’s as if a void has been left by The North Water. My guess is that it must be a perfectly good book, but no The North Water.

    Marieke, doesn’t like it. She says it’s Chick Lit dressed up as something important. I just know she’d love my ebook. But even though she’s saying that she doesn’t like it, it isn’t with as much vim and vigor as books that she’s previously hated. There is definitely a passion vacuum. I think everyone just needs a nap after thinking about blood and puss and stabbing each other in the face. Marieke even says that one of the characters may as well be Balky from Perfect Strangers. It’s meant to be a stinging insult but who doesn’t love Balky?

    Robo-Tham is allowed to finally reveal his bedside reading, it’s another Chris Cleave book.

    We then cut to the audience member who read a really long book that JByrne gave him weeks ago and we’ve all forgotten about… he liked it. But I’m too busy losing it because you can see C S Pacat in the shot in front of him. That’s a writer celebrity siting!

    And we’re done.

    Next week is about books that transport you. It is featuring my favourite comedian Kitty Flanagan, Noel Pearson, John Birmingham, and C S PACAT. SPECULATIVE FICTION AUTHOR C S PACAT. I am so excited. Spec fic authors are rarely allowed to interact with other authors. So that’s why she’s here. She’s casing the joint.

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    For last week’s recap go here.

    View previous episodes on iView here.

    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.