Tag Archives: book reviews

Nice Things People Have Said About My Memoir

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I am feeling so lucky that people I have never had the pleasure of meeting in real life are connecting with my book about postnatal depression. I could use #blessed right now without being ironic. The list even includes authors and bloggers who I have admired from afar, which utterly blows my mind. I went for a deliberately conversational tone, that tired minds could soak in, and dumped any highbrow existentialism in favour of being awkwardly and messily me. I am so glad it worked and people are able to connect so easily with my book. I’m going to share some of the comments from people… I’m not crying… okay, maybe I’m a little misty eyed.

 

‘The result was a funny, real, and sometimes confronting look at something many women deal with.’ Lauren Ingram, The Daily Mail

 

‘A potpourri of confessions, wise advice (not just for those suffering PND), hilarious parenting and cleaning tips, and compelling stories. CONFESSIONS OF A MAD MOOER is told with honesty and humour, and will make you want to join Robin’s girl tribe.’ Tania Chandler, Author of Please Don’t Leave Me Here and Dead in the Water, review on GoodReads

 

‘This book had me laughing out loud, holding my breath, and restarting my heart. The recognition of familiar situations, the descriptions of stereotypical reactions, the responses of well-meaning people…all conveyed in a no-nonsense account that is full of practical advice and suggestions, and most importantly, lots of non-judgemental support.’ Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed, review on GoodReads

 

‘One might think that as this book covers the very important topic of PND (and I am well and truly out of the ‘post natal’ zone, with my ‘babies’ now staring down the barrel of adolescence), it’s no longer relevant to me. But the tough issues that mothers constantly face: (anxiety, yeh – definitely anxiety), the pressure to be that perfect parent, or worrying that your less-desirable parenting skills are going to outweigh the ones you’re proud of – never seem to go away. This book helped me see with a clarity (which I’ve really only learned to appreciate over more recent years), that those early years can be hard. Really hard. It’s ok to admit that, and it’s ok to ask for help. This book gives permission for mothers to do that, in the most humorous, honest way.’ Marie McLean, blogger and banterer, review on GoodReads

 

‘Robin’s voice is witty & unfiltered, but she also manages to hit home on some very big, often taboo subjects. I will be recommending this to all my mum friends, if not buying a few copies to share around.’ Kirsty Dummin Smith, blogger and very tired mum of a newborn, review on GoodReads

 

And can I just give a special shout out to John Hunter Hospital! There are a group of nurses their who bought like 10 copies of my book. You guys are awesome. Let’s all blow a big kiss to John Hunter’s Paediatric Ward. Mwah!

Find out where to grab my book here. OR just ask your local bookshop to order it in. They all have accounts with Ingram Australia / Lightening Source who distribute my book so you can get it anywhere in Oz. And they have deals OS too so check it out.

ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 11 #bookclubABC

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I’m feeling a little emotional heading into this episode. It’s the second last one of the season and I’m not ready to move on with my life. Plus The Book Club ABC Facebook and twitter accounts keep referring to next week as the FINAL. They’re not saying season final. What does that mean? After ten years are they calling it quits? I haven’t even created a generic drinking game yet. It’s too soon. Don’t turn your back on me now. But I shall shove my feelings of desperation and paranoia down into my rainbow toe-socked toes and give you the recap that you deserve. The recap I deserve. The recap that Jason Steger deseves, darn it.

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Also, usual warning, I’m dyslexic so things will get messy.

The episode begins. JByrne is of course glowing and the stage is looking unusually full… They’ve got three guests again. Yes! If you’ll recall, during episode 7 of this season they had three guests and it was the best episode ever, in the history of Book Club, in the history of television, in the history of EVERS!!! Do check it out if you haven’t yet had the pleasure. And OMG OMG OMG, have they brought back that same winning team from episode 7? Michael Williams, check. Toni Jordan, check. The divine goddess that is Virginia Gay, cheeeee… WTF? They’ve pulled a swift one on me. That’s not my Virginia! It’s Gorgi Coghlan. Sure she’s tall and she’s wearing fabulous shoes but you can’t fool me… they have a different hair colour. I’m not sure how I feel about this. My husband thinks she’s super sexy but that doesn’t necessarily make her a bad person. We shall wait to see how she goes… but I have my side eye at the ready.

First off, JByrne does the house keeping-
She tells us that this evenings new novel, The Course of Love by Alain De Botton, poses one of life’s hardest questions, “How do you make love last.” It’s hyperbolic but I’ll allow it.
For the classic Jason has chosen Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cook. Jason tends to like things British and full of sex. This is an Australian text, as such we can assume it has double the sex.
New releases are mentioned. Of most excitement to this mother of three is that Andy Griffiths has added another 13 stories to his tree house. Bring on #LoveOzKidLit.
JByrne then hands over to Michael for news on the festival front. Michael says you can’t throw a rock without hitting a writers’ festival at the moment so there’s no excuse not to go to one. JByrne asks Michael if he’s going to any. He is coy with his answer. He’s possibly concerned that if he reveals his exact movements some semi-crazed, frizzy-haired, ginger, hack, will launch herself at him screaming, “I love you.” I hear that happened to him once…

Now let’s get down to business, the business of love. And you know it’s business time because I’ve got my business socks on. #sockwatch JByrne calls The Course of Love a sequel twenty years in the making. And then the dramatic recreation is played. Thankfully no whale murder this week but I’m pretty sure I found Waldo, so that’s nice.

The question, is De Botton (you know what my phone wants to auto correct this to) brilliant or a pop philosopher stating the bleeding obvious, is posed. Marieke says brilliant. She loved it. And says that love and relationships are worth examining and that she loves to discuss this kind of stuff all the time. Marieke says that reading The Course of Love is like having dinner at her place. This is a softer side to Marieke that I wasn’t expecting.  I like it. Byrne says that dinner with Marieke is much better than reading that flipping book. I suspect she’s not a fan of De Botton.

Jason calls it banal, obvious and only occasionally insightful. Michael says not to forget smug.

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Sheebers, JByrne, Jason, and Michael all refusing to get on the love train with Marieke. I’d almost feel sorry for her being outnumbered but tender hearted Toni is here and she loves love. In fact episode 7 was all about her love of love.

My bad, Toni says she “loathed” The Course of Love to “a whole new level.” Looks like Andy Griffiths isn’t the only one adding levels to his tree house, Toni added one just of pure, unadulterated, hatred. Marieke suggests that perhaps Toni hated the book because she hates love. Oh, how the tables have turned. It’s like they’ve reversed characters from episode 7.

Toni wants to know what’s loves got to do, got to do, got to do with it? She didn’t like it because stories should be magical and take you on a journey and De Botton took her nowhere of magic. Come on De Botton, why won’t you take Toni to funky town? JByrne doesn’t like this sentiment at all. She hated the book but is all like, *calm your farm, Toni, what gives you the right to say what a story must be?* And then Toni is all like *me, I give me that right. That book was non fiction and you know it, Byrne.* Fight, fight, fight! Jason leaps in and backs Toni up saying it didn’t work as a novel. It’s JByrne, Jason, Michael, and Toni against Marieke, AND JByrne against Toni. It’s a madhouse.

Gorgi steps forward, metaphorically only because she is literally sitting, and says that she found The Course of Love soul expanding. SOUL EXPANDING.  Now that’s a recommendation. She then says that it is the modern version of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus and it’s wise. There’s something wrong with that statement, I’m not sure how I feel about Men are from Mars and wise being used so closely together but I don’t have time to examine my thoughts around this because there is action happening all over the place.

Gorgi says the book recommends that instead of asking how people met we should be asking them how they stayed together. Oh my god, that’s so profound, I really want to read this book. Gorgi says that the book is about damage and how we as people are damaged and how do we cope with our damage and other people’s damage. That does seem worthy of exploration and beautiful. Let’s be honest, aren’t we all just damaged people getting about trying not to hurt others or ourselves further and constantly snagging our broken bits against others unintentionally? Or is that just me who feels utterly broken? I want to read this book. Please don’t tell Toni Jordan, because I want her to think I’m totes-mega-cool.

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Michael is having none of this profoundity and says the characters were generic  and more like case studies and he wanted more from fiction. And doesn’t he deserve more? Where are the believable characters, Botton? Give Michael Williams all of his dimensions! Jason also found it more like a case study and found the italicised annotations super annoying. He felt they were too overtly, look at me I’m so clever.

Jason then says he hates to bring up sex, which is news to everyone because we all thought that was his thing. If he’s not bringing the sex to book club then who the heck is? But apparently the oral sex scene on the plane didn’t work for him.

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My mind is racing as to exactly why he knows it’s so objectionable, and exactly how he gained his expertise in mile high encounters of the sexy kind, so much so that I miss what is said next. I apologise. The next thing I hear is that Gorgi loved it and gave it to countless friends. Toni did not give it to friends. she felt like she was going to get exam questions at the end. Ewww.

JByrne says although she hated the book she did love the bit on sulking. Everyone agrees that the sulking bit was good. Marieke, proving that she is nothing if not gracious, says that she thinks the criticisms being made were fair but she loved it anyway and couldn’t wait to discuss it with her boyfriend over dinner. A high pitched squeal can be heard followed by the screeching of tires.

Jason asks at what stage in a relationship should one read this book. Michael says give it to couples contemplating their first trip to IKEA together. I for one salute our IKEA overlords and welcome any free products they were previously considering sending Michael. I’ve got a five year old and two year old twins so I can never have enough storage.

Now it’s time to focus on the most important part of The Book Club ABC, #sockwatch. JByrne hasn’t been able to keep her eyes off Toni’s ankle region. She is wearing glorious yellow library card socks. Toni says she did it for the #sockwatch people. She likes us, she really likes us. Michael sits quietly undetected by JByrne, but I see all, he is wearing white and blue stripped socks with a festive red heel. n

JByrne moves onto By the Bed where the panelists reveal what’s on their bedside table and I fantasise about Jason’s bedroom.

Michael is reading Ben Pobjie’s Error Australis. It’s the history of Australia written in TV recap form. How meta of me to recap about Australia’s most prominent recapper. I might just disappear up the existential chasm that is this metaphysical quandary right after I type this sentence… Nope, still here.
Gorgi is reading The Last Painting of Sara DeVos which was discussed on a previous episode.
Toni is reading Fine by Michelle Wright who is her student and says it is at least 500% more profound than De Botton. And transported her to magic town plenty. Plenty!

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Onto the classic. JByrne says it’s an alcoholic, SEXUAL, nightmare and then asks, “Why’d you pick it Jace?” I like that, Jace, it’s sexy. I think I’ll use Jace the Ace from now on rather than Jason Stegersaurussex.

Ace claims he liked Wake in Fright because it picked up the difference between small towns and the city beautifully and that it was short, NOT because of the sexing. Michael supports Ace, and says that he loves that it’s about the typical Australian theme of belonging. that Wake in Fright examines the divisions in life. City/Country, money/no money, education/ no education. Marieke loved the sense of place and the imagery.

Gorgi hated it. She found it torturous to read. I think she might actually hate JByrne a little for making her read it. Don’t break up the sisterhood, Gorgi, blame Ace instead. She says that she had a mild panic attack during the kangaroo hunt.

Toni offers Gorgi some comfort and says she hated it the first time she read it but this time she found it funny. Michael agrees that it was funny. The pair giggle like naughty school kids. Toni loved the awful things that happened to the main character because he deserved it. Marieke says he brought about his own downfall and that she loved everything that Gorgi hated about it and considers causing an anxiety attack high praise.

Ace starts talking about Robyn in the cotton dress. Does he mean Robyn or Robin. I shall pretend he’s sending a secret message to me. Wear more clothes from Cotton On, got it loud and clear!

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And now they’re showing pictures of people’s book clubs. Alcohol is the clear winner in book clubs.

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And it’s over. One more episode to go. I’m not crying, I’ve just got a weeping angel stuck in my eye. But hey, next week we are graced with the iconic Margaret Pomeranz and our favourite Book Clubber VIRGINIA GAY! So there is some good news… sobs quietly in corner…. also, not to be childish… but when JByrne said they are doing Our Souls at Night it sounded like “Arseholes at Night.” There, I said it, everybody was thinking it, but I said it and I don’t regret it.

Read my last recap here.

View previous episodes on iView here.

You Don’t Have to be a Millionaire to Support Authors

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Not long ago I blogged about how Walter Mason inspired the spirit of fandom in me. For those of you not familiar with Walter Mason, he’s probably the most charismatic person in the Australian book industry. And let’s be honest, there’s lots of competition, so this means he’s pretty spectacular. Today I’d like to speak about the spirit of fandom a little bit more and how that actually helps authors.

We always hear “buy books, if you truly want to support authors than just buy their damn BOOK! For god’s sake open that wallet, they need to pay rent!!!” Which is fair enough, buying books directly funds authors. It’s even better if you do it through your local bookshop, but  we don’t all have the money to buy books everyday. Fortunately, for those of us that want to love more than our budget allows, that doesn’t mean you can’t support an author every single day if you should want too. There are lots of ways you can help out authors you love that don’t cost an arm and a leg. 
When people love a movie they sometimes pay to see it many times but many simply can’t afford that but they still help out by providing much needed enthusiasm through raving to friends, tweeting, making fan art, blogging and generally being fanatical. We can do the same thing for books. Let’s bring the spirit of fandom to the book industry.

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Read and interact with an author’s blog. Most authors have a blog. Commenting on their blog and letting them know that you like what they’re on about helps provide a moral boost and let’s them know what their readers do and don’t like. Writing can be very solitary and knowing there are people out there loving your work helps. If you are a blogger write your own blog entry about how a book or author has inspired or moved you. Shout out your appreciation loud and clear, let your enthusiasm become contagious. Write a review.

Rave to your friends about your favourite authors. I’m far more likely to read a book recommended by a friend than by looking at an advert. They’re my friends so I respect their opinion. I started reading Kate Forsyth books after a friend loaned me a copy of Dragon Claw. I have now gone on to buy myself, and friends, over 30 copies of her books. One loan resulted in mutiple purchases. And the books of hers that I have gifted to friends have resulted in even more readers. So never feel like you’re cheating an author by loaning their book out, you could be getting them a loyal reader.

Connect with authors on twitter. Who doesn’t love a compliment? Who doesn’t work better with a little enthusiasm to warm their soul. Knowing that your writing has touched someone has power. Last night I received a tweet from Michael Williams, a person that I respect and admire very much, and it meant just as much to me as a book sale. No it doesn’t pay the rent but it does help keep the depression at bay and depression is a mind killer so it’s just as vital.

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Follow authors and interact with them on any of their social media platforms. Most authors aren’t guaranteed their next book will be published. If they have a strong fan base they seem like a safer bet to publishers. If publishers can already see that people love their work and connect with what they write then that’s a big vote of confidence. Show your confidence in your favourite authors by doing so publicly if you dare.

How about some fan art. Show what those words look like in your mind. Show just how much books have touched you by inspiring you to create your own art. Not an artist? Me neither. I like to create memes instead. I spend far too much time on imgflip. But I just love putting beautiful words on beautiful pictures and sharing my love. Feel free to give it a go. It’s easy and fun.

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Attend author workshops. Many authors earn most of their income through teaching. So attend their events if you have the means.

And of course, yes, buy their books when you can. (Note: there are a few authors who only appreciate this method of support so will probably feel bombarded by the above suggestions, so don’t do those to them, but most appreciate some enthusiasm.)

You certainly don’t have to support an author every day, but you can if you want too without going into poverty. What are some of the different ways that you like to show support?

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Edit: I’ve started using #auslitlove on my tweets that are about loving Australian authors so that I can keep track of who I’m loving and make sure I spread the love around far and wide.

Brace Yourself; Book Recommendations Are Coming

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The Holiday season is upon us and every mother flipper is in need of gifts, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and so many more http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson246.shtml . Heck, there are even some birthdays. It’s a gift heavy month in the Western world.  So here are the books I’d recommend… apart from my own, buy it for yourself,  consider it your gift to me.

Let’s get started!

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The Princess Betony books by Pamela Freeman. They are gorgeous. They’re small so the perfect size for little hands with beautifully designed covers. These books take the princess stereotype and subverts it. A great balance for any child that has been over exposed to less progressive princess merchandise.

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Hansel and Rose by Caroline Magerl. The art in this picture book is simply incredible. It’s a book about belonging, loss and hope. So many important lessons and feelings simplified. A great book for your young early-primary aged friend.

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The Callahan Split by Lisa Heidke. Tennis, sibling rivalry, professional ambition, and some romance. What’s not to like. I did offer to design the book cover for her, she didn’t go for it for many reasons  (the book isn’t about Tom Selleck, I’m not a designer… she doesn’t know me. So many reasons) but I still think it’s a great read.

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Tiddas by Anita Heiss. Say you read parts of my serial because you wanted to read about a book club but thought my characters were “unbelievably slutty” and “Neanderthals” then this book probably has the depth you’re seeking. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not an uptight jerk who slut shames characters you’re going to love this book because it is sensational. It explores so many complexities in friendship and personal choice.

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The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. Combines masterful story telling, the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and WWII. If that’s not enough to get your interest then you’re dead to me and I don’t want to know.

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The Little Book of Anxiety by Kerri Sackville. Fuck The Little Book of Calm, this book is the book you want. I don’t care if you swallowed The Little Book of Calm, you need to get this book which shares tales from the author’s own anxious life. If you’re an anxious lady, Kerri gets you.

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Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. Full of magic and mystery this is a captivating read for all Fantasy addicts. Juliet Marillier always produces exceptional novels so you can’t go wrong buying anything of hers.

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Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres. Kickass sci fi by a kickass writer. Get this one and read it. I don’t want to sound like a total horn dog but there are some exciting characters in there. Somebody pass me my salts.

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And as for anthologies, you cannot go past Cranky Ladies of History. It is just spectacular and the name says it all. I cannot recommend this one enough. Get it, get it, get it!!!!! Seriously, look at that cover. The whole thing is gold.

Possibly the best idea of all is to buy all of these for yourself and forget the world for a bit. You deserve it. Happy reading.

Please note that these aren’t all new releases, some are old, some are new… some are borrowed and some are blue.