Wednesday, February 12, 2020

I'M BACK and Five FAQs at 5!

So, last year I mentioned I'm still here.

Last. year.

I know.  Rude.

But I'm BACK!

A lot has happened since then, and I mentioned the aforementioned silence had cause (naturally), and that I'd explain more.

Well...we're moving!  And changing things up a fair bit.

After living in Dunedin for 20 years (me), and for all of our children's lives, and almost all of Haki's, we're leaving the city I love so much.  So, this is not an in-city move.

Where?  Well, almost the opposite end of this fair land of ours.  We're bound for Whangarei!

We're already en route to our new Northland home, where we'll be for at least a year.  We've made a slow migration of it, taking in some of our favourite places and people on the way (though there's never enough time for all the good).

I don't have a lot of details about our destination and plans beyond that...except that we're leaning into a sense of peaceful uncertainty; we feel it's right that we move, though many surrounding particulars are still being illuminated.

Five Frequently Asked Questions at 5:00
  1. So what about your reviews? I rely on you for book and movie recs and you have really failed to deliver for QUITE some time, I hope this means the reviews are back on.  You're right, I really have failed to deliver.  The good news: I've been keeping notes during the online quiet, though I wasn't posting.  I cannot promise the full reviews they might have been if my life had been less topsy-turvy, but I will get them up here and you will have QUITE the list to work through.
  2. Why Whangarei? It feels right.  Nope, it's not the call of a job, and it's not because we've bought land...yet (to both!).  We have been offered a great opportunity to house-sit for a year on a lifestyle property caring for three dogs, a cat and a little orchard.  This is a dream come true for our children, and we want their childhood to be enriched with things that make them happy and help them grow -- this decision has been guided by that, as much as a shared feeling it was time for change.  Also: Haki and I have felt an inexplicable call to try out Whangarei  for some time.  This is our chance.  We know very few people and know the area even less.  It's our next great adventure (read: we have no idea what's going to happen).
  3. What has been going on for the past few months?  Readers' Digest version, please.  Well, four major things have happened for us.  1) We started house-sitting as a way to travel for less and broaden our girls' experiences...and help other people at the same time.  We worked together on farms, visited beautiful spots (like Milford Sound), and spent a lot of time at the beach.  The girls snuggled kune kune, bottle-fed lambs, played with puppies, threw hay, rode on trailers pulled by their parents driving quad-bikes, kayaked, dug for cockles, went on many walks, and played a lot of fetch.  It's been a family-centred time...and an investment in our house-sitting portfolio.  Our experiences gave us both memories, and some house-sitting street cred.  Thanks to the owners who took time to post reviews after our stays, we have been able to secure more and more house-sits...including a year-long one at the other end of the country. 2) Haki had to leave his job.  He's been riding through a storm with his mental health for a while, but it reached a tumultuous crescendo towards the end of last year, and we agreed no more sleep-overs and therefore, no more of that job; we are done with years of sleeping apart.  So Haki resigned.  We also spent some time in psychologist appointments together working through Haki's anxiety and our way forward as a family.  This was really valuable (and brave of Haki).  3) Haki's (Dunedin-based) mother, who's been battling and winning against breast cancer, got a mammogram that came up clear.  These three things have all churned in our cauldron of change and contributed to the spell we're casting, and led to 4) All the packing an cleaning.  When we weren't traveling and house-sitting together, this was my life.  Much of the past few months has been that and more of that.  I really don't enjoy moving AT ALL and I am still coming down from how cranky I was.  I'm sorry...everyone.
  4. What's happening with your writing?  Well, I have an agent now.  Frances Plumpton is pitching one of my unpublished novels for me, and representing my work overall.  When the topsy turvy began I decided it was time to agent up.  I'm still entering comps, writing stories, and working at it, but life has definitely come first for the last 4-5 months.  Thank you to everyone who has read my self-published stuff or checked the blog for posts, even when none were coming, you're such sweeties!
  5. What is going on with the girls!?  Over the past few years, I've shared less and less about our kids here because I want them to have more privacy.  I then felt that babe and little kid material was fair game, but now they're older it isn't my story to tell.  But I will say: the girls are 6 (Mia), 8 (Ivy) and 10 (Esky), they are mostly excited about our move...but plenty sad to leave loved ones behind.  We are still home-schooling.  It's given us all this flexibility to uproot and travel and house-sit and explore and do things however the heck we want.  I don't foresee this changing for us anytime soon.  It's okay if you don't do it, it's not for everyone.
Thank you for being here.  I hope you'll stick around.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Still here

Well, I'm pretty sure that's the longest radio silence I've had on the blog since its inception, more than a decade ago. 

But inactivity on here equates to frantic activity in my real life, which means news is coming.

Look forward to sharing soon.

In the meantime, I've got a bunch of reviews to trickle through.  Keep watching.

P.S.  I'm really touched to see there are still people clicking through daily to check for updates.  Bless your hearts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Unnatural First Edition Paperback, out now

You can now order a hard copy of Unnatural for your physical bookshelf.  

Get yours here.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Boy Who Steals Houses

The Boy Who Steals Houses, C.G. Drews
I listened to an audiobook of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders while I read The Boy Who Steals Houses and the High School English teacher in me cannot get enough of how deliciously this played out.  These would be soooo good to study alongside each other. (Guys, they both even opted for initials-only bylines! The conversations that could be had!) 

The premise is dynamite, the opening smashing and the language imagery-rich.  I couldn't look away.

Of all the things that impressed me about this book, most of all I applaud the aftertaste.  Without being preachy, there are messages here, and there are consequences (something I'm often sorry to see glossed over in some other hard knock stories).  The wrap-up is handled with expert finesse.

Advisory-wise, there's some colourful language and some violence.  No sex scenes.

A great discovery for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan -- The Boy Who Steals Houses is a contemporary, both-eyes-open redemption tale with a big heart.

Review copy received from Hachette.

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Quiet at the End of the World
The Quiet at the End of the World, Lauren James
A cousin cover to this appeared on SK a couple years ago with the directive, "Just read the book, not its reviews."  The covers have some semblance for good reason -- in both books, ya get Jamesed; you know, when you're sucker-punched with surprise but that somehow satiates all your narrative cravings? In addition to appreciating the corresponding branding, I liked the en pointe sparse marketing for this title.

As well as being a slice of satisfying entertainment (and an easy, one-afternoon read), James elegantly tackles some big questions, making a significant contribution to the contemporary SF canon.  Questions I'd considered some via Marissa Meyer and Bernard Beckett were framed in a subjective, integrated way that made me sit up and try to answer them.  I respect that.

Another thing I feel James does incredibly well is share worthy morals without clobbering me with them.  Her books don't read preachy but those I've read make me think, "I'd love for more YA to be reading this kind of YA."

If you liked The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, you should check this out.  And if you like this one, you should check out Unnatural...because...the premise is essentially identical (but there's a lot of divergence thereafter).  (So yes, when I saw promotional material appearing my heart sank a little.  But hey, widespread infertility is a crisis I'm happy to see addressed again and again.)

Review copy received from Walker.

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