Review: Julie Randall – Patient 71

Patient 71
Julie Randall

Julie Randall went from being a partying 50 year old to having major surgery to remove a tumour from her brain in less than a month. Following that, Julie had to fight to get the treatment she needed in order to survive and be with her kids – whether she’s in Australia or not.

So it’s a reasonable enough memoir but not exactly what I was hoping for. As long-time readers will know, I’m a scientist by training and so I was hoping for more juicy details about everything – the science behind the new treatment, the ‘magic pill’ that might have cured everything, what’s it’s really like to be a scientific guinea pig. Instead, I got a bit of a repetitive heartthrob tale that I didn’t really feel any inclination to keep reading. Instead I would have thought that “breakfast, school run, chemo” is actually a more relatable story even if that one doesn’t actually have a happy ending so to speak. Cancer is hard.

I appreciate that the author is a real person, with real problems, and I would hate to read a negative review of a novel I had probably put a lot of time into crafting. But honestly, some of the fault must also lie with the publishers. This book could have benefited from some significant editorial guidance. There’s a lot of inconsistent tenses and it would have been really useful to define who is alive/dead earlier in the novel. Additionally, I know the author actually wrote letters to her dead mother while undergoing treatment, but I actually found the letters quite distracting and not actually very useful.

The author makes it sound like this wonder drug is a complete cure but at any time, as far as I can see, the cancer could return. She seems to say that she has monthly treatments on a maintenance dosage. I really hope she’s making the most of life that she has left, because knowing about drugs and cancer, they always have the capacity to surprise you.

I’d also like to complain about the repetitiveness of Julie’s little chant about ‘My body is healthy, my organs are healthy’. I’m all for mindfulness and appreciating what you have, and supporting your body mentally, but arg! it just was very irritating for me. There is some useful things to take from this because it promotes still having a healthy lifestyle and remaining active as much you, but also really pushing for the help that you need.

Thankfully no need to provide stars for this one. Look elsewhere for an Australian cancer memoir.

Hachette Australia | 27th June 2017| AU$32.99 | paperback

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Interview with Charles McCormack

An Interview with Charles McCormack, author of Hatching Charlie

From your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I only have one other published book. It’s a book detailing what to do and the why of doing it in treating couples with one or both spouses in a state of regression, i.e. a borderline mental state. The book, Treating Borderline States in Marriage: Dealing with Oppositionalism, Ruthless Aggression, and Severe Resistance (Jason Aronson 2000), was well received and is still used in training programs in individual and couples psychotherapy.

It is not written for lay people, but I did have lay beta readers to help me write it in a more readily understandable fashion. I have been contacted over the years by people who found the book helpful in understanding their own issues or a family members. For those interested it is available in paperback and on kindle through amazon.

What do you like best about Hatching Charlie?

That it’s raw and it’s real and that it’s a book everyone can relate to. To paraphrase one reviewer: it’s fascinating read and an invitation for the reader to consider his or her own life as they are reading. I particularly appreciate the Midwest Book Reviews critique: “Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale” is an inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, “Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale” will also prove to be of immense interest to the supplemental studies reading lists of psychology students as well.” That review, so succinctly delivered, assured me that I had accomplished what I set out to do.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Hatching Charlie is my first novel. I couldn’t put it in the drawer no matter how hard I tried. It was inspired by my elder daughter asking me to fill out one of those books for the grandchildren so they would know a bit about me. I liked the idea, I just didn’t like the venue. Then there was my son who, very successful, at an early age, asked me “Dad. Is this [life] it?” I responded that life was about the pursuit of happiness. Though my answer is accurate, my ability to make the case for it then and there was lacking. So those two seeds, planted by my kids years earlier, sprouted and grew until I could no longer ignore them. This book strives to answer the questions “Who am I?” and “What’s life about?” Along the writing, I discovered that the answers to these questions unfold across the years in the changing roles we each assume. For me it was from abandoned boy to young delinquent, to married man, to father, to grandfather and from psychotherapist, to lecturer, to author, to patient, and beyond. Along the way I discovered not only the cratering impact life’s troubles can have upon us but also the fact that it takes great courage to be happy and that most of us are as happy as we can stand.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I’ll let you know. I suspect I’m the type of writer that needs to let ideas percolate, but I’m not completely sold on this. In fact, I’ve already been asking myself the question, what now?

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write at home, in my office, and when I’m traveling. I use my laptop but will make notes of ideas on my cell phone. When I write I often enter a trancelike state that is so captivating that I have been guilty of missing several patient appointments when I’ve actually been in my office. I snapped out of the trance to observe a note slid under my door stating, “We were here. Did we have the wrong day?” They hadn’t wanted to knock on the door fearing that I might be dealing with some emergency. In those circumstances, feeling terribly guilty about wasting their time, I make amends by giving them their next session for free. After all, their time is as important as mine.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Finding Beta readers is as difficult as getting people to review a book. I recruit family and friends but often they either take forever or are rather parse in their commentary. Then there’s the problem of people “wanting to be nice.” They don’t want to criticize, not recognizing that the true gold of a beta reader is the one that will tell you the real deal. As to editors, I had several friends edit and then explored editorial services. I finally hit upon Margaret Diehl because of the reviews garnered for her editing, the fact she had three books on the honorable mention list of the New York Times, and in our early emails demonstrated a dry wit and great integrity, challenging plot logic and so on. She was tremendously helpful in teaching me to develop the characters to she could see them in her mind and in rearranging chapters and suggesting the creation of chapters to ease the back and forth between my life as a psychotherapist and my life personal life. I learned a lot from her.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I use to read printed books all the time. I didn’t find the kindle books as welcoming, although they were easier and quicker to obtain. More recently, having a long commute to work, I started listening to audible books and fell in love with them. Some times they don’t equal what I might have created in my mind but many times they add an element I hadn’t considered. My book, Hatching Charlie, is in audible format as well as kindle and print. I prefer the audible because I narrate the book and that gave me the opportunity to “read it” the way I wanted it to be read. Indeed, I did two versions of the audible book because I realized, while recording it, that I could “hear” the book in a different way that led to me to major edits and rewrites. I then updated the kindle and printed formats to accurately reflect the wording in the audible book. I love it!

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood? I was a poor reader in childhood. I had to go to summer school. “See Dick run!” was about all I could handle.
2. adolescence? Hardy Boys
3. young adult? Trilogy of the Ring; Watership Down; anything by Anais Nin. Books by D.T. Suzuki on Zen Budhissm; Carlos Castenada; Michael Chilton Pierce.
4. adult? For years I only read books on psychoanalytic theory and practice. Then I stopped reading professional stuff and started writing. Since then I’ve read books for personal enjoyment. The Power of One; The Boys in the Boat; any action thrillers that Arnold Schwartzenager could star in and that don’t involve a lot of character development. In other words, I like escape reading to get out of my own mind.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I manage social media on my own and if I do say so myself I am perfectly terrible at it. My main motivation of late is trying to promote awareness of Hatching Charlie. As an independent author I can’t compete from the top down as they can, so my strategy is to promote my book from the bottom up and hope that people get enough out of it to recommend it to their family and friends, or simply as a support to anyone having a hard time in life and relationships.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I haven’t been at it long enough to feel that temptation. And, even if tempted, I doubt that I would do it. Even when I give talks each one is freshly written—I never give the same talk twice. I think the reason is I would get bored with myself. In addition, everything keeps moving, keeps changing, and so my answers to questions today will be slightly different from my answers tomorrow.

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Interview with M. N. SNow

An Interview with M. N. SNow, author of The Helper

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

The Helper is my first novel and it was shelved for some time. I originally wrote the first draft, if memory serves, in 2004 or 2005. I then rewrote it a variety of times over the next four or five years. I’d pick it up for awhile and then stick it back in the drawer. After giving up on finding a publisher, say in the year 2010 or 2011, I put it way for good, or so I thought. Then in 2015 I was motivated to comb through it once more, update it and finally publish it in time for Christmas 2016!

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Writing does not come easy for me. I usually let an idea percolate, but that’s more due to writing laziness, than lack of ideas. My trouble is getting started and staying started. I do have two new novels that I have started and stopped. On one of them I am completely stumped as to how to continue. The second novel is one I will pick back up writing soon, I hope. I also have ideas for another three of four novels floating around in the background.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write on my PC, and only on my PC. So wherever it is, is where I write. The majority of my novel The Helper was written in a small motel where I was staying after relocating from south Florida back to Superior, WI. I stayed there during the winter while I was looking for an apartment.

However, if an idea comes to me, I’ll grab any writing utensil at hand and scribble it down before I lose it! Unfortunately that happened the other night. I woke up out of a dead sleep at about 3am and had a great idea for a novel. I lay in bed, half-asleep, thinking of it for a few minutes, and even after some thought it seemed like a good premise for a book. I fell back asleep and cannot remember the idea at all!!! So, once again, I put a pen and paper next to my bed so I can write what comes to me when I wake up.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I’ll try to hook up with any beta-readers I can!!! Usually they are friends and acquaintances. If I trust their instincts, and respect their views I’ll ask them to be one of my “readers.” As to an editor, I’ve used people on the website Fiverr, as well as a friend who is a writer and teacher.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I am not an e-reader fan. I’d rather read a physical book. And I’m a public library geek!!! I enjoy independent bookstores, but I love public libraries. And the vast majority of books I read come from the library.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I read in a variety of genres, but Magical Realism/Speculative Fiction would be my favorite, along with certain SciFi and Fantasy books.

As a child I read a lot of biographies—some sports, some general.

By adolescence I was starting to head toward sci-fi and horror. Stephen Kind was always a favorite of mine. I probably read The Stand seven times before I was 25. But also Catcher in the Rye was a biggie for me and The Drifters by James Michener. Voyage by Stirling Hayden really impacted me. Another book that really stayed with me was Valhalla by Jere Peacock—about peace-time Marines after the Korean war. The sections on “red-line brigs” alone was brutal but overwhelming.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I don’t have anyone manage my work for me. What managing that gets done, I do. I don’t blog or tweet. I do have a Facebook page for my book, and of course, I love to have my book reviewed and mentioned in others people’s blogs, websites, etc.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I haven’t done all that many interviews, so I’m good so far! And the live ones I’ve done, for newspapers, etc, have all had a variety of questions so I haven’t had to repeat myself to much yet. I’ll gladly do it, however, as long as people are interested in asking me questions about my work!

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Reviews: Unfinished Novels Released to Book Crossing #2

I have a series of novels that I have never finished reading and in some cases, couldn’t face reading at all. In the interests of freeing up space on my bookshelves, and letting other people have a chance to read them, I have released these novels on Book Crossing. To see other books I have previously released, see here.

Tales of the Zodiac: The Goat’s Tale (Volume 1)
P.J. Hetherhouse

This novel was published in 2014, so I’m pretty sure it’s been sitting on my shelf for the full 3 years after the author sent it for review. Although the sales copy obviously entranced me, I couldn’t get into the first chapter. I usually like things based on Celtic mythology, so I’m not sure what went wrong.

 

Windwitch
Susan Dennard

I actually received this novel for review from Pan Macmillan January 2017 after requesting it! When it arrived however, I realised that it was the second in a series. I HATE it when that happens. So off I went to find the first novel, and fortunately found an eBook copy. So I started reading that… then was so disgusted that I just couldn’t face it any more. So I didn’t even attempt this one.

 

Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home
Dane Cobain

Although I loved another of Cobain’s novels, Former.ly and his other, No Rest for the Wicked, was ok, I’m just not into poetry. Thus I am letting this one into the wild to be free. Someone else who loves poetry will probably appreciate it, and I wish them luck (and hope they decide to read Dane’s novels as well).

 

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Spotlight with Christopher David Rosales – Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper

A Spotlight with Christopher David Rosales

David Rosales is the author of ‘Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper’ and today you guys are lucky enough to get to see an excerpt from it!

Feeling excited about the novel already? Here are some links to get you started:
Official Website, Facebook, Twitter 

—-

It was hard to say how Rudy Two’s son, the one called Tre, thought back then.

He stood in the square, against the town hall’s muraled wall, smoking from a joint pinched tight between his fingers. He was young, maybe eighteen, but more than that he was mean and we didn’t want to admit he might think like us—even if he did.

He had one foot kicked back flat against the painted wall, and grease smudged the toe of his shoe where it wore thin from all the gear-shifting in traffic. The motorbike wasn’t far. Wasn’t ever far. He’d left it in the shade in an alley so its red wouldn’t draw more attention. Still, it was getting late. The sun in the square was orange now. The birds were returning, one by one like fat drops of oil splashing at his feet. They hobbled near the broken fountain, where the old men fed them bread.

Another young man called Junior lumbered across the cobbles carrying a crushed envelope. Junior, big and baby-faced but no younger than Tre, almost leaned on the mural to catch his breath but dropped that hand with the other to both knees and went on panting. Tre went on leaning coolly, thinking cool thoughts and staring at the broken fountain in the center of the square. At least three different statues of three different mayors had stood there in his lifetime. He smirked at the crumbled concrete loafer, all that remained of one. These politicos, and their reverse Cinderella dreams. He imagined the same old loafer passed along from statue to statue, from mayor to mayor, from prince to prince. His sister, Nora, was back home, pining for her own kind of slipper offered by some wealthy politico or decorated militant. Tre coughed a laugh to himself. No one in his family knew how to live in this world without depending on others. No one knew how to survive. No one but him.

The painted figure in the mural that towered above the young men was sleek, rosy, and stiff, with a blank expression that could have been mistaken for… Tre theorized constipation, but it was probably meant to show purpose. He offered Junior the joint, but Junior waved it away, still catching his breath.

Tre smoked deep. “Too good, or what?”

“We’re self-employed.” Junior clutched his heaving side. “A business man’s got to set some standards.”

“Oh, and you think this is that kind of business?” Tre laughed. The best way to survive was to adopt new standards, moral and otherwise. At first, his new standards had been a tight heat in the muscles of the jaw and behind the eyelids. At first they were a new skin tight on his face like steam. At first. He checked his cheap plastic watch and held the other hand out for the letter. “Come on.”

“You come on.” Junior finally caught his breath, but didn’t relax. “And don’t lean against that mural, Mamón.” Junior handed the envelope over.

“Why not?” Tre angled his head back until the mural sprawled upside down from his forehead, pouring into the blue. “Who is this guy, anyway?”

“It’s the fucking mayor,” Junior said. “Don’t play dumb.”

“Huh.” Tre may have been reading the letter. He looked at it, at least. Then he used it to tap the mural over his shoulder. “I thought it was Ricky Ricardo.” Yes, his new standards eliminated the guilt, because it was impossible to feel guilty for taking a life he resented.

“Ricky who?”  But Junior squinted one eye up and down, nodding slow recognition at the mural now.

Tre crushed the papers into a ball and tossed them at his feet. He was already laughing at Junior. The joint, Tre plucked from his lips and rubbed out on the manhole sized bottom-button of the mayor’s coat. “The money?”

“Un uh.” Junior said. “After.”

Tre shrugged, held his hand out again. Junior let a handful of bronze bullets fall one by one into Tre’s greasy palm. Tre smiled then. Some things he could still feel the old way. Bullets cold as ice chips in his sweaty palm. A girl’s pussy, hot as a washcloth. He was easy to please.

“Do you ever…” Junior swallowed.

“Do I ever what?”

“Do you ever feel guilty?”

Without opening his mouth Tre licked the outsides of all of his teeth. He shook his head no.

Yeah. It was easier for us to pretend he didn’t think like us. Maybe that he didn’t think at all. Still.

A single bullet fell from Tre’s palm, turning round, and bounced once on the cobbles.

Junior groaned and bent to pick up the ringing bullet but, before he could reach, Tre toed the shiny thing like a snuffed cigarette.

“Not that one,” Tre said.

Junior smacked his lips. “That shit cost me five dollars. What you talking about, not that one?”

“You’ve got yours. I’ve got mine. Standards, homie,” Tre said, grinning. “Standards.”

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Interview with Christopher Slayton

An Interview with Christopher Slayton, author of Chaos Company

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I’m glad you asked! I’ve had a rough draft of my first attempt at book writing still saved in my files and I’m currently finishing it in hopes to have it published this fall! I wrote the first few pages back in 2009 while in college but didn’t feel confident to write a full manuscript for it. The story follows a young man who is forced to become a masked vigilante after his brother, a gun-wielding batman-like hero suddenly dies. I think with the complexity I wanted to put into this story was more than I was able to handle then. I believe that after writing Chaos Company I have what it takes to deliver a complex story within my first manuscript.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Well, the truth is I know I have a number of stories from start to finish I can’t wait to get to! I even have a dozen of them outlined! I can’t speak for other writers, but inspiration isn’t a problem for me. I try to find it everywhere, from current events and life experience to traveling. The biggest issue for me is time. Until a year ago I didn’t have the time to write, mostly because after working a 40hr/week job, exercising and being social I didn’t have enough to put my ideas down. But now since I work for myself I have the time needed to put my ideas into writing.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I often write on my laptop either in my bedroom or the living room. That being said I have written in other places such as the common area of my former college, and even at my old job while I was on break. Heck, I’ve even written when I was on vacation in Spain lol. To me there isn’t really a special place for me to write. There is however a mindset I like to put myself in through music in order to write. For example, if I’m writing a lot of dialogue I like to be listening to alternative rock or instrumental music, and when it comes to me writing action scenes I find it easier to do so while listening to hardrock or EDM.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Unfortunately I can’t trust my family to read for me because most of them see critiquing me as them being rude. When it comes to beta-readers I have only one. Her name is Tessa. She’s been a friend of mine for seven years now and I can trust her to not only tell me exactly how she feels about my work, but also provide ways on how I can improve on a story. I trusted her taste in storytelling and her suggestions when I had her take a look at Chaos Company, and I know I can trust her going forward.

Now when it comes to hiring an editor I am very picky on whom I choose. I got lucky with Chaos Company. Before being let go with publisher Desert Breeze Publishing they had already edited my book for me and had spent over five months and two editors on the project. But now that I am on my own again I’ve learned to ask various questions before hiring an editor, and have them edit a chapter of my work before hiring them. That way I know what I’ll be getting from when they are working on an entire manuscript.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I am an e-reader. My mom got me a device years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. That being said, I am a sucker for having a physical book in my hand from time to time. I usually get my physical copies from amazon and the same for ebooks.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

1. childhood? – Dr. Suess. His work was and still is a great stepping stone for young readers. I could do without the films made from his work though lol

2. adolescence? – R.L. and the Goosebump books. Especially the choose your own adventure stories. I remember when I choose the wrong page and quickly flipping back to the previous page to try again! I also remember reading the Halo series based on the video game because I wasn’t allowed to play those games as a kid so I thought reading the stories was the next best thing.

3. young adult? – The Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz. That series really got me through high school and inspired me to try my hand at writing, which I would later fall in love with. I read somewhere that Mr. Horowitz wrote a James Bond novel and I can’t wait to get to it!

4. adult? – As a fan of The Walking Dead show and Graphic novels I am currently making my way through the tie-in novels for the comics. The novels are written by series creator Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga who both do an excellent job portraying a dreadful and cruel world in these stories. I’m almost done the second book now and am grateful to have 6 more books in the series to go!

All that being said, I am a sucker for a good action novel. If it has anything to do with spies, bad-ass one man armies, super heroes or epic individuals, I am all over it!

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage it?

If I’m being honest I don’t spend too much time on social media. I have a facebook and twitter account so that’s about it. And my facebook is used mostly for personal reasons, which only leaves me with twitter to promote myself and my work. I may put 2hrs towards social media a month because I just don’t have the time for it right now. With my schedule the way it is and how many projects I want to release by next year I have to put social media on the back burner. When it comes to twitter I at times feel like I’m just yelling into a void hoping people catch wind of my words. That is why I tend to stay away until I’m ready to promote more material and announce when I will be making appearances. Hopefully when writing is my official full-time job I’ll be able to be more active with social media. But until then I refuse to be a part of something I believe has gotten out of hand when it comes to making it as an artist. A true artist’s work should be based on their artistic merit and vision and not how many followers they have.

Since you don’t use social media to promote your work, what do you do? What do you do instead?

– I work as a driver for Uber/Lyft and do odd jobs through the website Taskrabbit. Both jobs require me to meet so many new people on a daily basis and to me that’s a potential new reader/fan I can introduce my work to. It may seem like a slow way to draw in a fanbase, but I get to have a one on one conversation with potential readers and fans and I believe that is worth more in the long run. But, with this method only time will tell if it works.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

No. Well, at least not yet lol. When people are kind enough to interview me the least I can do is be as authentic as possible when answering them. Now if someone asks me a question I’ve had before then yes there will be a few points I may repeat from a previous interview. But I do not just copy and paste an answer and I will do my best to never do that in an interview. It’s not fair to the people interviewing, or the people who have read previous interviews I’ve been in.

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Review: Bree Record – The Road to Transition

The Road to Transition
Bree Record

Sarah was destroyed by Steven, now Bree is ready to take her rightful place in the world. This novel chronicles the 40 days before her surgery, interspersed with her most distressing memories of the last 55 years of her life. This is the transition of everything.

I love the way that the blurb labels this as a ‘gender confirmation surgery’. It’s not a reassignment surgery, which implies that there is something weird about it. I think it is very difficult to properly convey the feeling of both relief and confusion when someone takes their identified form. I would really like this novel to have a bit more after the form change, but it’s limited in pages to explore everything.

While the imagery was beautiful, I needed more substance. I could have had more of everything, particularly more about Bree’s relationship with her Wife. When a transition takes place, it often rips apart families, particularly as people who never thought they were gay suddenly find themselves with a same-sex partner. I find that that usually raises a really interesting question.

I read this one night that I was suffering insomnia. It kept my attention because I couldn’t sleep, but it wasn’t that great. However, this was so so much better than when Adam became Audrey. That’s written from the perspective of the partner of the transitioning person, and it’s absolutely horrible. I can’t warn people away from it enough. This is a good book in comparison.

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Review: Emery Lord – The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us
Emery Lord

Lucy is used to going to Christian Camp every summer with her Pastor father and enjoys being part of the family. Her life seems pretty perfect, right up until the moment her mother’s cancer comes back and her boyfriend decides to ‘take a break from her’. As one of her mother’s last wishes, Lucy finds herself as a counselor at a camp for troubled teens instead where she’s going to discover a family history she never knew existed and find out more about herself than she ever could have imagined.

The ending! Oh the ending. It should have been more bittersweet, but it wasn’t. Actually, it was just a tad cloying? And I would have appreciated a little more closure. I can say that the rest of the novel was not leading up to that at all. I think this is a problem I had with Lord’s first book too… Perhaps I should have anticipated it more, but I am warned for next time now (and there had better be a next time)!

I really like Lucy’s character, although I could have had a few more juicy details in general. I initially didn’t get along with her, but warmed up to it. Maybe I could have had a bit more of Jones too. Insta-love drives me bananas sometimes, but due to the other themes of the novel I was buying it in this case. Lucy needed some comfort, and Jones could provide it.

I initially started reading the novel, and then dreaded continuing, because sadly my experience with strongly Christian folks is negative. Or perhaps I just don’t have enough of it, and read too much about how the Salvation Army, which I used to look up to, refuses to provide help to Queer people. Anyway, off topic. Don’t go into this novel with preconceptions, they’re probably going to be incorrect.

I really enjoyed this novel in the end and had a lot of trouble putting it down. It’s not surprising really, since I loved Lord’s first novel, When We Collided. I think WWC remains my favourite, but this novel is well worth a read too. I’m going with 4 stars, but it is a possible re-reader.

Bloomsbury | 1st June 2017 | AU $17.99 | Paperback

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Review: Jenny McLachlan – Stargazing for Beginners

Stargazing for Beginners
Jenny McLachlan

Meg has wanted to be an astronaut her whole life, and it seems like she is finally going to get the chance to see the NASA headquarters. Only problem is, Meg’s mum is heading off to an importance cause, and is leaving Meg’s little sister in Meg’s nervous hands. Will Meg be able to band together with her support team to survive?

I feel like this novel is just another in a series trying to encourage girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. The last I read, The Square Root of Summer gets more points from me for including more science! That being said, there are plenty of areas of science that need more exploring. Both of the protagonists are hard workers, and each faces their challenges bravely.

There was lots of lovely variety in the characters provided in the text, and even non-scientists should find someone they connect with! Ok, so it’s a little bit of a comedy of errors for the mix-up of the ‘mentoring group’, and that made the interactions feel slightly forced, but it does warm up to the task of giving them all some air-time to be individuals (as much as you can with a first-person perspective narrator).

What is it with parents going off and leaving their kids alone these days? And not just alone, but with younger siblings to look after? I’m looking at you, Raging Light and Beautiful Liar? There is an element of what could be suspense in this novel, but the end seems foretold anyway as the tone of the rest of the novel points in that direction.

I’m not sure this has anything particularly new to offer the genre, but it’s en enjoyable read nevertheless. 4 stars because it’s going to stay at home with me on my bookshelf, rather than roaming the wider worlds.

Bloomsbury | 1st June 2017 | AU $14.99 | Paperback

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