Posted in Life Adventures

Some Hard Truths

For the last few weeks (months if I’m going to being entirely honest) I have been struggling. I have started posts and then trashed them. I’m making this one stick.

This week I was forced to face some hard truths.

1 – I am still in mourning from the passing of my dear friend and Mentor, Aarjaun. Since she passed away at the end of January I threw myself into everything, so long as I didn’t have to feel my own emotions, and so long as I didn’t have to stop and think too much. Anything can be justified if given half a chance.
2 – I’m allowed to mourn and still enjoy the wonderful things in my life. I can appreciate all the good things, all the amazing people I have in my life, both old and new. I can also allow myself to be sad, to miss my friend, and to be overwhelmed by the good as much as overwhelmed when things are bad.
3 – I am not the robot I have tried to be. The wall I’ve put up around my feelings now has fissures and it’s time to let it crumble.
4 – I have worth, whether I am writing and contributing or not. I am enough as me, and I am allowed to say no … to myself as well as to others.

These truths were brutal and hard to face, and while I’ve half faced them for a few weeks, it was with the hopes they would run and hide once again. But coping mechanisms only work in the short term it seems.
I have always been an advocate for prioritising mental health, but I have not always been so good at following my own advice. Sound familiar?
I want to be a better role model of this for my son. Not because I think I’m supposed to, but because I want him not to have to fight the stigma in our home. I want to be transparent because I believe transparency about mental health is one of the key ingredients of destigmatizing it.

Now, I’m working on ways to ensure that I’m actively trying to help myself with these things.

1 – Allow myself to feel the absence of Aarjaun. I miss baths, which I have been avoiding because of that very thing. I think I might go have a bath tonight.
2 – Let those wonderful people in my life know that the good things don’t take away the pain, nor does the pain minimise the good things … did you read that? Look at me telling the wonderful people already 🙂
3 – Instead of taking that deep breath and burying the feelings, adding another brick on the wall, I’m going to (try to) say the words, I am hurting.
4 – I recently made a writing schedule. It was forcing me to be too busy. So no, I will not be following that schedule, I will be amending it to allow for more quiet time, more me time.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. If it helps you in anyway, I’m even more excited.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

Secret Squirrel Projects Revealed

I am so freaking excited about being able to talk about and promote these incredible projects I’ve been working on. Two amazing groups of authors all working together to create these brilliant anthologies.

Distur13ed Pre-order now: mybook.to/distur13ed

British moors, winter 1955 Hamer House Hospital is dedicated to the care of their patients. But, another story is unfolding in basement Ward D. Locked behind the doors are the twisted minds and souls society wish to forget. The depraved and the perverse.

Death Cuisine – Pre-order now: getbook.at/death_cuisine

Horror anthology and recipe book combined. My story focuses on the perfect neighbour, a massacre, and the blood red fingertip stains of cooking with beetroot.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Book Club, Book Review, Reading Adventures

August Bookshelf

August was my birthday month and I may have gone a little crazy with book gifts for myself *not even sorry*, and the reading wasn’t too shabby though it started with the worst book I have ever rated. And yet another month had passed when I did not bury my head in the plethora of paperbacks I still have on my TBR. Eek … always hoping for next month.

The growing beauty of my office/Sapphic/Indie bookshelf (several more shelves are scattered and filled elsewhere throughout the house).

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampire’s by Grady Hendrix – ⭐️⭐️ – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to damn well love this book. I didn’t. In fact there were times I almost DNF’d this book. It takes a LOT for me to even consider DNF’ing a book. But, I stuck it out (100% because the narrator was awesome) and it’s not like the book was horrible, just so so frustrating. There is a huge chunk in the middle of the book that I felt was entirely unnecessary and this was the part where I nearly DNF’d. It was also filled with gaslighting the main character by EVERY SINGLE other character. It was then her backing down even though she knew they were doing this. It was the most frustrating thing I’ve read in such a long time and it wasn’t broken up with anything else and it dragged out. Despite this. There were some good things about the book, the writing was ok and the story wasn’t entirely terrible, just so many unnecessary parts for me, and no character was likeable. I do however get pissed off reading things about this book being a fantastic humour horror. There is no humour. If an author tries to highlight the depravity of society they need to make that clear, with exaggerations, with word choices. The author did NONE of this. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t satirical. It was racist, sexist, elitist SHIT. If it weren’t for the narrator I would have DNF’d AND given a single star review.

Ignis by KJ – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – There is so much to love about this book. From the start we are thrown into two worlds, two times. The back and forth is fabulous. When you are in each part you are completely enveloped, almost forgetting about the other time, the other story.
The mysteries are compelling and the writing is delicious.
I adore the main characters and the beautiful balance of dark mystery and these moments that made me smile and sometimes even giggle.
A brilliant read. Highly recommend if you like dark mysteries.

Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders by Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall – I can’t star this book, I don’t know how to. I have rarely read memoirs, and never one that has hit so close to home. Did I enjoy the reading? Yes and no. Some of it was a little repetitive. Did I find it helpful? Yes and no. I felt seen but also had to remind myself of how different me and my OH are to the authors. Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. I think it’s a great educational read, as long as people realise this is two peoples personal experiences in the transgender world. I definitely saw similar situations and fears, thoughts, and doubts. But also some things that I was shocked, because we have not had the same experience. Were there some chapters I could have lived without reading, some experiences they went through that I could have not known so much about? Sure. But I feel like that’s sort of a memoir staple.
Overall, I’m glad I read this book. And I would love to read about more personal accounts of diversity in our beautiful and colourful rainbow community. I did a video review, going in to a little more detail. You can view it here.

Dead Lez Walking by G. Benson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Omg. I have no idea how G. Benson does it but damn this book gave me all the feels … the mix of dark humour, true fear, devastating sadness, some pretty gruesome scenes, and actual wtf moments. Brilliant book that I chewed through (yep pun totally intended) ridiculously quickly. I adore the authors inclusivity in her books, gender, race, nationality, sexuality. She embraces the true diversity of humans in her stories. And I loved the ensemble cast. Taren freakin cracked me up (her chapter sub headings were freakin snort laughing worthy), and Xin was adorable – even if I may or may not have called the author a monster at one (several) points lol

Under Your Skin by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This book was delicious. A sequel to the incredible Red Files. If you like seeing an ice queen melt without changing who they are, this is THE ultimate book. I have such a love for small town settings and this book has it in spades, and the humour … laugh out loud coffee spitting moments, with Lauren’s charming upfront nature and Catherine’s acerbic thoughts and tongue:
* It’s only Chaos if you stop and look at it, the rest of the time it’s just fun.
* About the speed of an asthmatic turtle
Also, hotness rating … cold showers required! 😉

Faith and Fire (Sisters of Battle #1) by James Swallow – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The audio was recommended to me. The narrator was amazing. The writing was surprisingly beautiful, and the story was quite fun and brutal. I thought I would get lost not having played World of Warcraft, but I understood the world enough to keep up with what was happening, and it was quite exciting.

The Roommate Arrangement by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Third book of the year to make me cry!
I was so frustrated with one of the characters at the start, Jae perfectly captured the frustrations of Ray having to deal with her new roommate. But just as she grew on Ray, Stephanie grew on me as well. A hilarious female the odd-couple book, with ALL the feels. Brilliant writing, fantastic dynamic characters, and a story that flows (and kept this reader up until 1am).

Full English by Rachel Spangler – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another small town sapphic read .. need I say more? Well, actually yes. I LOVED the dynamics of the characters in this book. Spangler turns the traditional characterisations on their heads and I am all for it! Brilliant themes of breaking the binary and contradictory assumptions of society. I love that the village girl isn’t sweet and virginal and the famous millionaire isn’t suave and sophisticated. The descriptions of the beautiful scenery of the town and the sea were so engulfing, it was a holiday during a time when holidays seem like a distant memory and a not promised future.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 – A perfect classic gothic horror of the time. But, reading it from a modern day perspective, I struggled to love it, though I did like it and enjoy it. I listened to it on audio and the narration lacked several times as the voices for the two female protagonists had the same tones and quirks and it was difficult to follow along as times. I did enjoy the writing, it was often beautiful but the story had me confused at times.

Hush Little Baby by RH Herron – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – *Trigger Warnings for infertility and child abduction. *
Literally could not stop listening to this book. My first book by this author and now I have to read more. The writing is absolutely beautiful, from descriptions of humanity to the earth, to the complicated duality of human nature, to the way the author reaches in and stabs sharpened nails into your heart before ripping it out of your chest.
Not a book I could have read during my long fertility journey, or pregnancy, or even when my child was in their first year of life. But such an incredible story. 

So ten books for August is a pretty good effort. 😀

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen