On adaptations and ambiguity – Big Little Lies on TV and by the book

HBO TV series tie-in cover of Big Little Lies featuring upper faces of Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon & Shailene Woodley - aka Celeste, Madeline & JaneI watched the HBO mini-series of Big Little Lies recently and was completely blown away by it. I was also a little curious after watching, particularly about where the book different from the TV show and what extra characterisation might be found in it. Rather than try and find the time to read it, I bought the audiobook, narrated by Caroline Lee. Perhaps because I listened to the book for a specific purpose rather than to listen to a story, I found that listening enhanced my enjoyment of the TV show retrospectively (and made me want to watch it again) and conversely, I found that the TV enhanced my enjoyment of the audiobook because I could see the scenes playing out in my mind as I’d seen them on TV.

I had a number of thoughts about what was different and what worked better. To discuss them however, it is necessary to give away spoilers. This is your official spoiler warning. Proceed beyond here at your own risk!

March Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

RockChick Redemption audioRock Chick Redemption by Kristen Ashley, narrated by Susannah Jones – B+ I said in my review of Rock Chick (I read the print version) that I imagined Amanda Ronconi reading the story to me and that this would probably mean I’d be inclined to judge the narration by Ms. Jones more harshly.  I listened to Rock Chick Rescue and Rock Chick Redemption for fun, “just for me” listens because sometimes it’s nice for me just to be a consumer and not a reviewer and I wanted my brain to relax for a bit.  But I wanted to say something about the narration.

I could wish that Susannah Jones has slightly more vocal range and could portray a larger variety of male voices  – pretty much, all the heroes sound the same and they’re really only slightly deeper in pitch than her female character voices.  (For regular audiobook listeners, this is a trade off we make fairly often. There are only so many character voices a narrator can perform and many male narrators cannot sound “female” in pitch and vice versa; however, they do adjust their tone sufficiently to give an audio cue to listeners that this is the hero or heroine talking and, provided it’s not grating, that can be enough.)

But, as for the rest, Ms. Jones was brilliant.  She didn’t have any trouble with some of the more convoluted sentences Ms. Ashley uses (which I love even though their grammar is sometimes quite tortured) and the completely nailed the humour of the piece.  I cannot even express to you how much I love her characterisation of Tex.  He is twice as hilarious on audio.

ARRC2015 Wrap


Parliament House, Canberra

From Friday 6 March to Sunday 8 March, I was at the Australian Romance Readers Convention (ARRC) in Canberra.  It was my first romance convention and exciting, exhausting, fun and challenging all at once.   Because I’d never been to an ARRC before, I didn’t really know what to expect.  Technically, I was on the Organising Committee (I’m a member of ARRA – the Australian Romance Readers Association and on the Executive Committee also) but my role was “Sponsorship Coordinator”, which sounds fancy but really involved wrangling the massive sponsorship spreadsheet of doom and emailing loads of people about stuff, so it’s not like I can actually take any credit for how it all went or anything.

I have to say the organisers went above and beyond.  Because I was involved a little bit behind the scenes, I know something of just how much effort went into it.  I guess I spent about half the actual convention helping organise things and doing volunteer stuff but basically, I just did what I was told and went where I was needed.  The organisers had their fingers on so many pulses at once; I’m just staggered by their achievement.  This is a volunteer organisation and I shudder to think just how many woman hours went into arranging ARRC.


I’m going offline for a while. Things are too sad-making right now.  So, I’m going to enjoy my family at Christmas.  Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.  Please God may 2015 be a better year.


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe RoadWhy I read it:  Various friends of mine have been telling me I need to read this book. I was warned about possible ugly-crying and an emotional wringer. It seems to be a much beloved book. I bought it a while ago and finally decided to actually read it. From a quick survey of my Twitter friends, it seems I’m a bit of an outlier.  So, YMMV. A LOT.

Warning:  This book has been out a while so I feel less guilty about spoilers.  What I most want to talk about is very spoilerish.  So, ALL THE SPOILER WARNINGS.  If you haven’t read Jellicoe Road and you want to, don’t read this review.  It’s a very plotty book and while the structure of it didn’t always work for me, I think it probably works best not knowing all that much going in. (It is “safe” for romance readers to read.) I also think that if you haven’t read the book you won’t get a lot of out the discussion below and it could colour your view because I have Things. To. Say.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.


I’m putting the entire review under the jump because: SPOILERS

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