Guest Review: Invisible Boys – Holden Shepherd

This must be the standout book of the year – everyone is talking about this. Read what guest viewer Andy Macleod thought of this award winning debut novel.

Invisible Boys

Holden Shepherd

Fremantle Press

ISBN: 9781925815566 

 

Description:

In a small town, everyone thinks they know you: Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who’s not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. But all three boys hide who they really are. When the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?

Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting YA novel, tackling homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective. Set in regional Western Australia, the novel follows three sixteen-year-old boys in the throes of coming to terms with their homosexuality in a town where it is invisible – and so are they. Invisible Boys depicts the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequence and, ultimately, hope.

 

Invisible Boys – A review by Andy Macleod

Up until two days ago, I had only once before sobbed uncontrollably while reading a novel. It was Skallagrig, by William Horwood. It was the 1980s and I was in my twenties.

I’m now in my late fifties, and I’ve just finished Holden Sheppard‘s award-winning debut novel, Invisible Boys.

Set in Geraldton in WA’s Midwest, Invisible Boys follows three very different teenagers, Charlie, Hammer and Zeke, as they grapple with being gay in a very straight town.

This novel spoke directly to me like no other. The characters and I, although separated by nearly a generation, have a lot in common.

We share not only a hometown, but the fear, rejection, taunts and loneliness that came with being gay in it.

Finally, someone has put into words the trauma of my own experience growing up gay when I couldn’t.

When I finished Invisible Boys, I felt something crack, crumble and fall away deep inside. I’m still unpacking what that may have been. Possibly shame, maybe silence. I’ll need to work on it.

Is Invisible Boys only a book for gay men? Absolutely not. If nothing else, it’s also a great story, and I hope it becomes required reading in the high school curriculum.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but whatever you do, you won’t regret reading Invisible Boys.

My favourite laugh-out loud-moment would have to be the ‘onion rings’ reference.

 

 

It’s Ok To Feel The Way You Do – Josh Langley – Award Winner and All-round Nice Guy

smallpubkids_wide

 

Press Release
Josh Langley’s inspiration book It’s OK to Feel The Way You Do was awarded 2018 Small Publisher’s Children’s Book of the Year Award.

Bunbury author, Josh Langley has won the Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA), Small Publisher Children book of the year for ‘It’s OK to Feel the Way You Do’, a powerful and fun book to help children understand their feelings. This is the fourth book in his inspirational children’s series.

What a terrific acknowledgement of a wonderful author and his little books with big messages. Josh’s books have been adopted by parents, children, grandparents and even government departments within Australia and overseas.
In the aftermath of receiving his award Josh was already looking to the future, “I’m excited about the new possibilities for Being You is Enough and It’s OK to Feel the Way You Do and where it’s all going to lead. It also comes at the same time that the Western Australian Education Department agreed to add both books to the Statewide Services and Resources Centre making them available to schools and special programs.” He said.
Head of Big Sky Publishing Children’s division, Diane Evans who worked with author Josh Langley across his much-loved little books with big messages series could not be happier, “As a publisher I love how fresh and unique Josh’s book is. As a parent, I know how powerful his simple messages and illustrations can be in connecting with kids and building self-esteem”.

The Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) is an annual celebration that celebrates the connection between Australian readers and the ‘book makers’ – authors, editors, publishing professionals and retailers, who unite to create the must-read books of the year.

Josh’s new book for Find Your Creative Mojo: How to overcome fear, procrastination and self-doubt to express your true self will be available in September 2018. (Big Sky Publishing).

 

My View:

Josh Langley is a remarkable human being – full of life, supportive, encouraging and talented  (artist, writer, speaker…) and generous. I met Josh at a writers festival a few years ago and have kept in touch by social media (http://www.joshlangley.com.au ) and over the odd cup of coffee.

 

I was thrilled when Josh’s inspirational children book (life lessons here can be applied to humans of all ages) won this ABIA award – the book is gorgeously illustrated, easy to read and brilliantly observed. To say I am a fan is an understatement. I cant wait to read Josh’s new book Finding Your Creative Mojo  (another timely message from the universe I think). Go Josh!

 

Guest Review: The Art of Friendship – Lisa Ireland

 

The Art Of Friendship

The Art of Friendship

Lisa Ireland

Pan Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781760552268

 

Description:

We all expect our friendships from childhood to last forever…

Libby and Kit have been best friends ever since the day 11-year-old Kit bounded up to Libby’s bedroom window. They’ve seen each other through first kisses, bad break-ups and everything in-between. It’s almost 20 years since Libby moved to Sydney, but they’ve remained close, despite the distance and the different paths their lives have taken.

So when Libby announces she’s moving back to Melbourne, Kit is overjoyed. They’re best friends – practically family – so it doesn’t matter that she and Libby now have different …well, different everything, actually, or so it seems when they’re finally living in the same city again.

Or does it?

Brenda’s Review:

Eleven-year-old Libby and her parents had had to sell their farm and move into the city. Woodvale in Melbourne was nothing like the family was used to, but it didn’t take Libby long to make friends. Kit lived over the road from Libby, and the very first day she had spotted Libby at her bedroom window, Kit declared they would be best friends forever. As they moved through school together, first primary then high school, their friendship didn’t falter. It was when Kit was in London that Libby met Cameron, married him and moved to Sydney.

Through letters, emails and long phone calls, the two friends remained close – it was twenty years later when both Libby and Kit were in their late thirties, and Libby’s son Harry was thirteen, that Cam announced he’d procured a top job in Melbourne. They were returning home.

Kit was ecstatic as was Libby. But would their friendship be the same? Kit was Harry’s godmother and thought the world of him, as he did her. But Libby’s life went a different way when she, Cam and Harry moved into Arcadia Lakes; a new, elite subdivision with elegant housing and much more. Keeping up with the wives of the executives was something which scared Libby half to death, but she would do it. But at what cost? Would Kit and Libby remain friends? Would their lifetime of friendship sustain any issues that might arise?

The Art of Friendship by Aussie author Lisa Ireland is a look at how people grow; how they change and how they remain the same. The difference between childhood friendships, and adult friendships is vast – that person you befriended as a child might not be one you’d befriend as an adult. But what happens when that friendship goes from childhood through to adulthood; when two people turn out to be vastly different from each other? The complexity of our lives – from being parents, to careers, basically to choices we make – is real and emotional. Lisa Ireland has tackled all issues in The Art of Friendship with sensitivity and she makes it very realistic. Highly recommended – 4 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for my ARC to read and review.

Post Script: I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman

We can lose ourselves so easily….


I Have Lost My Way

 

I Have Lost My Way

Gayle Forman

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471173721

 

Description:

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

 

 

My View:

My first taste of Gayle Forman’s evocative and immersive writing was in 2015 when I read I Was here. What a read! I have Lost My Way is just as exceptional; it is heartbreaking yet simultaneously heart-warming. The narrative is fast paced and choc-a-block full of contemporary social issues.  This is an all ages book, a book that reminds me that I should read more fiction that is classified YA and certainly more books written by this talented author.

 

A complex, engaging, satisfying and heart-warming read.

 

 

 

Post Script: Almost Love – Louise O’Neil

Almost Love

Almost Love
Louise O’Neil
riverrun
Hachette Australia
ISBN: 9781784298869

 

Description:

If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not love: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of Asking for It. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult.

 

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.

 

So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.

 

Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job.

 

But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.

 

And love is supposed to hurt.

 

Isn’t it?

 

 

 

My View:

Raw, gutsy, evocative, provocative…what more can I say? This is brilliant!

 

I have never read a book where the unlikeable protagonist actually makes the narrative work – and believe me Sarah is not a very nice person – or is she? I actually have a fair bit of empathy for Sarah, I see the broken person trying to carry on with life, and I see situations that are hauntingly accurate. Life is portrayed in shocking realism, relationships in all their hues are displayed garishly, shockingly, provocatively; almost love, addicted to love? Addicted to being needed, to being wanted.

 

Could you like Sarah when she doesn’t even like herself?

 

A stunning look at relationships that will, at times, make you cringe at their realness.

 

I would love to read more by this author.

 

 

Pause: How to Press Pause Before Life Does For You: Deep Breathing Exercise

How to press pause

Pause: How to press pause before life does it for you by Danielle Marchant ($19.99), published by Hachette Australia.

 

I have found deep breathing to be  particularly useful practice whenever I am feeling tense or overwhelmed, or having my blood pressure measured, trying to fall asleep etc  I hope it assists you too.

 

Deep breathing exercise (p196)

 

This simple breathing exercise is very relaxing for the body and mind, so it is particularly helpful before you go to sleep – you can do it lying down in bed.

 

  • Let your arms relax on either side of your body and keep your legs about hip-width apart. Initially, just take a few gentle deep breaths, inhaling through your nose

and exhaling through your mouth, mindful of filling and emptying your lungs fully.

 

  • Now take a deep inhale through your nose for a count of four. You might create a soft sound as you do so that also helps to soothe and relax you. Hold the breath at the top of the inhale for a count of four, then exhale through your nose for a count of four.

 

  • On the next breath, inhale for a count of six, hold for a count of six and exhale for a count of six. And the breath after that, inhale, hold and exhale for counts of eight. If you can, try building up to counts of 10 and 12.

 

  • To complete the exercise, start reducing the count by two for each breath until you finish with a count of four.

 

  • Now just let go and breathe normally…

Post Script: Life, Law and Not Enough Shoes

PLife Law and Not Enough Shoes

Life, Law and Not Enough Shoes: Life As A Criminal Lawyer

Judith Fordham

New Holland

ISBN: 9781741105391

 

Description:

Judith Fordham has worn zebra –print shoes into a courtroom, represented transsexuals, bikies, alleged murderers and rapists, and raised four children on her own…this is her story, from early life struggling on welfare to becoming a barrister and Associate Professor of Forensics.

Her bold approach to life and law is inspiring, and her stories about the world of crime and justice are fascinating. From a well-known baby-shaking case to the forensic science of decomposing flesh, this is a no holds-barred account of crime and the law.

And then there’s the shoes. In lighter moments, she tells of suing a pink shoe phone in her early career (much to the annoyance of her then boss). Now she has the State Director of Public prosecutions sipping champagne out of her designer shoe.

Judith Fordham has managed to find fun outside the dark world of forensics and crime.

 

 

My View:

Reading an honest and open creative memoir is a joy, a little like sitting with an old friend, enjoying afternoon tea and reminiscing. Life, Law and Not Enough Shoes is one such read – some laugh out loud moments, a peak at the judiciary system from within, some heartrending moments and a quick look at an inspiring life – I almost want to go back to university to learn forensics, almost 🙂  Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining reading.