Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The DNA of Orphan Black by Abbie Bernstein

The DNA of Orphan Black
by Abbie Bernstein

Summary: Get under the skin of clone club. This comprehensive guide to Orphan Black has an access-all-areas pass to the most innovative drama on TV. Includes interviews with the show’s creators and cast, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, production and visual effects secrets, plus everything you need to know about the Dyad Institute, the Proletheans and Neolutionists, Projects Leda and Castor, and more. This is a must-have for all fans of Orphan Black.
I don't read many books like this -- books that are about the creation of a TV show or movie or something (beyond the Harry Potter ones) -- sometimes I'll get them just to flip through every now and then, or because they're aesthetically pleasing... This one? This is the first one I've actually sat down and read cover to cover.

The book goes over how the creators came up with the idea for the show, how they went about making it, then it goes into the casting process and then how all the different departments worked together to create the characters was fascinating to read about...I honestly didn't expect it to hold my attention so well but it did.

I think it's because the show itself is so great and original. Tatiana Maslany is literally half of the cast, and when you're watching it is so easy to forget that each of the Leda clones is played by the same actress and they're not actually different people. The book goes over how Tatiana made each character distinctive and how everyone from the writers to the wardrobe and hair and make-up departments worked together, taking even the smallest details into consideration.

And I loved reading about the actress who plays the clones in scenes where more than one clone is present, so Tatiana is acting with someone. I hadn't really considered that someone would have to act that, I figured it was all camera trickery and editing, so it was fascinating reading how she analysed all of the idiosyncrasies and ways of moving Tatiana had for each clone so she could recreate it.

Basically, the book was just really fun and interesting and I loved the pictures and the behind the scenes look we got into the world of the show (plus, it was fun getting to kind of recap the previous seasons and all of the back stories).

I'd really recommend it for fans of the show, or even just people interested in some element of show/movie making be it acting or writing or directing or being part of the make-up or wardrobe department.

I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5.


Monday, 17 July 2017

When Rosie Met Jim by Melina Marchetta & Shoeboxes by Kathryn Barker

Review of Australian Fiction 
(Volume 22, Issue 6)

When Rosie Met Jim & Shoeboxes
by Melina Marchetta & Kathryn Barker

I don't read Review of Australian Fiction very often, because short stories aren't my cup of tea really, but occasionally I will if an author I love writes a story for them.

And, if you've been following this blog or any of my bookish social media for any length of time you'll know that Melina Marchetta is one of my top 5 favourite authors and she could literally announce she's rewritten the phone book and I'd want to read there was no way I was skipping this edition of RAF.

I'm going to just do a short review for each of the stories included, starting with the one I bought it for in the first place:

When Rosie Met Jim

I really, really loved this story (which, as you may have guessed from what I said about short stories, is a rarity for me). It revolves around a girl stranded in a small town during a flood and while stuck there, she meets Jimmy Hailler (the same Jimmy Hailler from Saving Francesca).

I'm surprised by how quickly Melina managed to make me care about the characters in the story (which is usually one of my issues with short stories) and how thoroughly hooked I was by the plot. It was one of those ones that left me wanting more of the characters without feeling like there was something missing, which isn't always an easy balance to achieve in short stories.

And that's all I have to say really. The story was definitely worth it, and it has me so excited for Melina's next book (the Jimmy Hailler book she's been talking about for a few years now...I think this story was a prequel to that book and she's working on the book now, based on her blog posts?).

Rating: 5 stars out of 5


This one...this one was a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect to love it, but I sort of did. Not quite in the same way as I loved When Rosie Met Jim, where I really cared about the characters, this one was different. It was more...subtle, clever.

It starts off with two women in a basement and we don't know if they've been kidnapped or why they're there really but bit by bit little details trickle into the story and...well, that's all I'll say because I don't want to ruin it.

Basically, it hooked me from the start and had me confused but intrigued right until the very end...and the end -- I loved the ending. It surprised me and left me wanting to read a full thriller novel by Kathryn Barker because if she can pull off a full novel as well as she can a short story then I'm sure I'll love it.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Overall: If short stories are your kind of thing, I definitely recommend checking out Review of Australian Fiction (every two weeks they release a new edition featuring two stories by Australian writers). Even if short stories aren't your kind of thing, like me, you might still enjoy some of the stories they publish.


Friday, 14 July 2017

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

The One Hundred Nights of Hero
by Isabel Greenberg
Summary: From the author who brought you The Encyclopedia of Early Earth comes another Epic Tale of Derring-Do. Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see Love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity! You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won’t stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and above all, many, many sisters.

"In the beginning was the world. And it was weird."

Graphic novels are really not my kind of thing. Occasionally, I'll find one that I really like but mostly I just find them disappointing. Even when I like the story, I find myself wishing it were a novel instead because I was more story than pictures and a handful of words can deliver (which may explain why some of the graphic novels I've loved have been adaptations of novels).

But back to the point: graphic novels = not for me. And yet I still keep taking chances on them...and this one, this was one of the ones that make me glad for that because I really, really loved it.

I mean, if I'm honest, I would still adore a novelization of this story with these characters but I still loved this format of it.

The illustrations were quirky and beautiful, the world was wonderful and wonderfully weird. I loved the way real issues of our world were woven into the fantasy world Greenberg created (it was very much a feminist read, in the very best ways).

I loved that the characters of the story got under my skin way more than I expected them to. And speaking of unexpected? I was not expecting the main love story in the book to be between two woman, and I loved that. I love going into a book and finding LGBTQIA+ representation when I wasn't expecting it, and it was done beautifully in this. I wanted to read this because it was a retelling of The 1001 Nights, but if you told me it was a lesbian retelling of The 1001 Nights I'd have probably picked it up way sooner.

I'll definitely be picking up a physical copy of this one at some point for my shelves (I read the e-book...would not recommend, it was a struggle to read the text in that format) as well as checking out the first book in her Early Earth series.

I'd rate this one 5 stars out of 5.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour

Summary: You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
Okay, I'm not going to lie: I completely judged a book by its cover. I literally went into this book not knowing what it was going to be about...a few Goodreads friends had rated it highly, but I got it purely for the cover. And I am so glad I did, because I loved it.

It wasn't at all what I expected it to be but every way it surprised me was a good way.

I didn't expect the lesbian/bi/pan representation, but I was so happy it was there and that it was executed so well. It wasn't made into a huge deal, it wasn't a story revolving entirely around their sexuality, it was just this truth about these characters that wasn't prioritized any more or less than their other truths and I loved that.

I loved that while romance was present, the book wasn't entirely about that. And I loved that it showed the complexities of going from friends to something more then trying to get back to friendship again.

I loved that the way the book wrote about grief, and love, and family and friendship and the complexities and variations of those things. I just - I loved all of it. And it was written so beautifully.

I don't really have much else to say about it really. I wasn't expecting such a little book to get under my skin in such a big way, but it did and I adored it. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair:
And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
by Phoebe Robinson

Summary: A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of "the black friend," as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel ("isn t that . . . white people music?"); she's been called "uppity" for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.
I've recently discovered that I'm scared of flying. I wasn't always afraid of flying, but I haven't been on a plane since I was in my early teens and somewhere between then and now, I seem to have developed a fear of it. What has that got to do with this book? Well... This book was the only thing that kept me calm and pleasantly distracted while being stuck thousands of feet off the ground in a big metal tube. I tried others, but this was the only one that worked.

Basically, I loved the book...partly because of my gratitude for it keeping panic at bay for a few hours, but mostly just because it was excellent.

I listened to it on audiobook and the narration was great. I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of Phoebe Robinson before starting this book (because I didn't really know much about her, wasn't familiar with her work, etc.) but I definitely was by the end of the book.

She manages to perfectly juggle the balance between humour and seriousness and she opened my eyes to a lot of issues I was ignorant to either because I'm white (or in some cases, because I'm not American) and I haven't had the same life experiences as women of colour have.

The tl;dr version: Both Phoebe Robinson and her book are fantastic and I really recommend checking it out, especially the audiobook version because her narration just brought it to the next level. It's funny and honest and important. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.



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