Book Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story

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I recently finished The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty and felt pulled in two different directions with my reaction to this book. This author was able to paint a visual portrayal of a delicate issue where the reader has sympathy for the antagonist of the book; where without this type of representation; this character would have been hated. Being able to achieve this is a true gift of any author and Liane Moriarty pulls it off effortlessly.

Within this book, Ellen is a hypnotherapist in Sydney whose life takes a drastic turn when she meets Patrick. Ellen had been in three long relationships that never really materialized into what she had imagined for her optimal long-term relationship. At the age of thirty-five, she finally takes the plunge—desperate for a family, she turns to Internet dating. After a couple dates with Patrick, a single dad whose first wife died tragically, she can see a deeper commitment with him. That is when he reveals that an ex-girlfriend is stalking him. In Ellen’s mind, this makes Patrick more desirable—if an ex-girlfriend wants him this desperately; then he really must be a catch.

I am not condoning stalking at all and within this relationship, it is apparent Patrick’s ex-girlfriend; Saskia is in need of severe therapy. Stalking is a serious problem and I sympathize with any victims of this sort of crime. However, this is where the author paints a story that shows another side—one of the stalker. Within the book, there is a sympathy that runs deep for Saskia. Her story is revealed in a first person point of view and the reader gets a sense to why a person could turn to this lifestyle. Later on when Patrick reveals more information to Ellen about Saskia, she realizes Saskia is actually a patient of hers under an obvious pseudonym.

Normally, I give very few spoilers in my reviews but I feel I need to address some of the reasons I was able to sympathize with the stalker in Saskia. First off, after Patrick’s first wife passes away, he brings Saskia into his life and she bonds immediately with the infant son of Patrick and his late wife. She took over all parenting duties for the young boy and Patrick allowed this with out a fight. Then he decides just a month after Saskia loses her mother (and her only family) that it is time to end their relationship after three years. Later on in the book, he does mention to Ellen that he had wanted to break up with her earlier but due to the illness of her mother that would be in bad taste. However, that doesn’t stop him from breaking her heart just a month after she buried her mom. That also meant that the little boy that Saskia had essentially raised and bonded with, was out of her life forever.

I didn’t want to like Patrick and it was not until the end of the book that Patrick was redeemed in my eyes. I did feel for him though; his life was turned upside down by this women. By the end of the book, Patrick’s character grew on me and I was glad for how his life turned out. I loved Ellen who was the main character throughout the story. My favorite part of the book that really showed the type of person she was—was when she realized Saskia broke into her house and baked them biscuits. What did Ellen do with the biscuits? She ate them. (Saskia was nothing compared to Glenn Close; there was no boiling of rabbits.)

Some things to keep in mind with this book from the same author that gave us Big Little Lies; The Last Anniversary and The Husband’s Secret is that this book is more of a women’s literary fictional piece and not one of a thriller or mystery like the books mentioned above. There is not a big twist that leaves the reader completely for a loss of words. This doesn’t make the book any less entertaining. I found myself in stitches at times and of course this subject matter was very thought provoking. All in all, it was a sweet story with a resolution for both sides.

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Self Doubt in the Writing Process

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As I am approaching the deadline that I have set for myself in the indie publishing world that I have been living in for the past few months, I have come across a horrible companion. Based on the title of this article, you guessed it right—it is the mother of all cohorts—self-doubt. Along with this little chum hanging around me is his best friend called second guessing.

The solution sounds easy—make a decision and just stick to it. Yes that is all I have to do yet those little buggers keep me company more than the people that live in my house.

I want my first book to be a reflection of myself and because writing is so subjective, it makes the author vulnerable in so many ways. I will know the right decisions for these many doubts when I least expect it. However for those that have had to make so many of these decisions on your own with little advice; it is a constant battle of yourself vs. the self doubt that lingers.

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So what am I second guessing you ask. Well since you asked so kindly I will tell you. Everything from the ending of my book, to the title and the cover that I just can’t quite decide on. Yet, I know I work best under pressure and though I am not happy about the two little buddies that are hanging out with me, I do have confidence that I will figure it out—eventually.

If anyone else is experiencing cohabitation with these two colleagues that love to wreak havoc onto a person’s life; please share your encounters below! I would love to hear from you.

—Leigh

Why do writers write?

I love this!

Inked Thoughts and Midnight Monologues

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For us, writers, this is such a profound question of our existence. Writing for me, has always been a constant source of inspiration and sheer joy. The intensity and magnitude of exhilaration that writing gives can’t possibly be gauged. I, for one, cannot even find words to construct a coherent answer to define this feeling, this beautiful feeling that I experience when I write. Writers feel this way. But why do they?
Maybe it’s this uncanny ability of penning down something heartfelt that transmogrifies our complete state of being when the weight of our emotions gently get absorbed in long parchments and old diaries. Maybe it’s the written monologue that elevates our souls to a level of blissful equilibrium. Maybe it’s the effortless exercise of mind-cleansing that writing brings with itself. Maybe it’s the fact that writing is a medium of communion between the deepest corners of our minds and the strangest…

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May Is Melanoma Awareness Month

With the month of May upon us along with more exposure to the Sun-I wanted to post this for a source of information.  (This is a post I shared a couple month ago but felt it was appropriate to repost this.)  Protect your skin-it is your biggest organ!

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You know the saying, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”? Well, I feel like my middle name should be freaking Super Girl after undergoing the year of hell that I have. It all happened two years ago when, out of the blue, the hubs had a mole removed from the back of his knee. That was the day my world was turned upside down. The usual procedures that happen every time you have a mole removed was done, but this time the doctors came back and uttered the C word to us. I remember this like it was yesterday and still carry the same fear with me today that I was blanketed with then.

The surgery was much harder than you would think necessary to remove a mole and so we thought we were in the clear. The surgeon initially thought it was benign stating he had seen similar moles like this before. When the pathology came back and the mole was found to be cancerous, there was now cause for concern. A CAT scan showed that the cancer was not necessarily in the body, but the surgeon stated that he needed to remove a few lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread further.

The news following the next surgery was not what we wanted to hear at all. I was out of town at the time and had decided to take the kids to a children’s museum to pass the time. I had a friend take the older kids to another part of the museum, when she recognized that I was going to need a little time alone. I took the one-year-old Mister Monster to the ball pit and sat and cried. I’m pretty sure I scared off the other parents that day! All I could think to do was to call my mom because that is what you do when you are sad, scared, and unsure of what you should do next. Even at thirty-nine years old, this made me feel better. I was out of town and wasn’t sure how I was going to break this news to the hubs since the doctor had called me instead of him.

After removing all the targeted lymph nodes, the hubs started an anti-viral protocol that is standard with a diagnosis of melanoma. It was not traditional chemotherapy, but it is a tough treatment all the same.

This was my reality. All too soon, I had become the wife of a cancer patient. I was not the first one that was scared to death of losing her husband and unfortunately I won’t be the last either.

This whole thing made me think about having to grow old without the man I married. It made me think further, “Will my husband be there to walk our three girls down the aisle? Will he be there to teach our son how to play baseball?” The idea of my children not having their father in their lives was more than I could take.

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(Pictured above) Our kids were confused.  They knew that their dad was different and though the older ones understood, it still scared them.  They spent many nights on the couch snuggling with him for peace of mind. 

Our first trip to the oncologist was a nightmare. We sat there in disbelief as the doctor informed us of our options. None of them seemed all that great and I was stunned to hear that his cancer had been diagnosed at stage three. The doctor continued to shatter our world when he said that, in all likelihood, it wasn’t uncommon that even with treatment, cancer like this had a good chance of coming back.

After all, your skin is your largest organ. It isn’t possible that a cancer like this can be cut out and life can go back to normal. Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers out there. I soon learned more than I ever wanted to know about skin cancer. Melanoma is just as serious as any other cancer. People think it is just a topical cancer. It can be “cut” out, but it is still one of the leading killers in the world of cancers. Not only that, once it gets into the blood stream, it metastasizes quickly. The doctor said once it was in the blood, it was hard to cure.

My husband was prescribed a month’s worth of this drug and had to take it every day. It drained him and made him feel as if he had the flu. On top of that, he also had to receive shots from me (Yes, I gave him shots!) three times a week.

It was probably one of the hardest times in my life seeing my strong husband weak and struggling like he was. I felt like a single parent for that year, as he was down and out. On top of raising the kids and taking care of the house, I was also responsible for all of his care. Please know I am not complaining, but rather painting a picture of how bad it truly was. (Anyone that watched me through that year knew I was a certifiable nut job!)

I have learned over the past two years we must live in the here and now and treasure what we are given. I urge anyone who is reading this to protect your skin. Protect your children’s skin. Be careful in the sun. Please go to your dermatologist for scheduled skin checks.

My husband was just forty when he was diagnosed with this and thankfully has had successful results from the treatments. This last year has taught me to live without regret. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, but we can prepare to expect it.

(Pictured below) I made him this shirt after a year of Chemo.  His doctor said he was the first under his doctor’s care to finish an entire year of this particular treatment.

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Book Review #11

The Curiuous Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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By Mark Haddon

In the book by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the reader is immediately immersed into the life of a boy with an evident neurological disorder. I have to say, that as I started reading this book, I felt that the young man in this story was indeed suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. There is evidence within this novel that supports the reader drawing this conclusion however after reading the book, in researching this novel, the author never intended to name this disorder. Nowhere within this novel does the author refer to this young man’s symptoms as Asperger’s Syndrome; however it is strongly implied.

Christopher, who is the protagonist, comes across his neighbor’s dog with a pitchfork sticking out of it. Since his disorder shows signs that are in fact so close to that of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, he seems completely unaffected by what he has seen. His reaction is not what mine would be and when a policeman happens upon the scene and Christopher shows absolutely no sympathy. The police feel he is the primary suspect and arrests him. This case leads Christopher on the hunt for the actual dog killer. Through this, he finds notes that his dad has stashed away; a secret that rocks him and sends him on a spiral that leaves the reader on the edge of their seats.  He ill equipped to understand his limitations but this book is both endearing and heart wrenching. It gives a face to those that live with incapacities that can alter their life but within this book; there is strong message of hope.

I loved this novel and consider it on the upper echelon of my all time favorites. I was exposed to more information regarding Asperger’s or really any neurological disorders similar to that than any textbook I could have read. This book has become a Tony Award winning play and I was excited that shortly after I read it, the play came to my area. The stage itself is transformed to look like a big box, which is appropriate since that is the way this disorder is defined. I highly recommend this book! Read the book first and then go see the play in that order. Your life will be richer because of it.

Random Thoughts on the Writing Process

If you are new to following my blog, I am in the middle of indie-publishing my first book. Let me start by saying that this is one of the most stressful endeavors I have taken on because it’s as if I‘m standing in front of everyone naked. Sorry for that visual, but writing puts the author in such a vulnerable state and it is really quite frightening.

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I am not an editor, but somehow I have come across several people that are filling that role for me. Editing one’s own work is almost impossible. I have the support network of editors, proofers and beta readers through various mediums, which is vital especially in the world of self-publishing.

The process of publishing my own work is not pretty – we had hotdogs for dinner last night. For those that don’t know me personally, understand this is not a common occurrence in our house. Laundry has been my enemy, and as pictured below, my desk looks like war has broken out in my office.

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My book, entitled No Apologies from the Front Porch, is due out this summer. I am excited for this novel, which is near and dear to my heart. This is book one of seven in the series following a family in Spokane, Washington whose central character is an f-bomb-wielding, coffee-drinking, divorcee who is secure in herself and her abrasive attitude until her new neighbor breaks down her tough exterior. I hope to have the next book in the series published within three months of the first one with the following books released in this type of time frame.

I am still looking to publish my remaining books through traditional publishing channels and have sent query letters to various agents and publishers. Reflecting on that, I had to laugh at my black and white type of thinking. I pitched a book idea to an agent at a workshop and she told me she liked the idea but that the numerous points of views made her a bit worried. If she didn’t identify with the protagonist right away, she would probably pass. After I agonized over this incessantly for weeks, I finally thought to myself, “I am the author, I could change the POV fairly easily without changing the content of the book. Duh!” It was so obvious yet I was set with the attitude that my book couldn’t be changed. For such an easy fix, it certainly took me long enough to come up with this idea – I was blinded by my need for control. In writing if there were one piece of advice I can give, I would say to allow you to become fluid and ready for change at every corner.

I read an article today about how self-published books have validity in the market, and I want to spend a moment on this thought. In the process of self-publication, I’ve concluded that the most obvious and tried-and-true way is not the only way to get a good book out in the market. I have twelve books just sitting on my computer, waiting to be read and enjoyed by others, and it’s maddening that after upwards of one hundred query letters; I still have not had an agent respond positively towards my work. I just want to educate those readers out there that won’t touch a self-published book. You they are missing out. Some of my favorite authors are in fact indie writers. Florence Osmond is the author of three of my favorite books. She has written five books, which I have read, and they are wonderful. I can’t wait until her next book is released. Loretta Lost is another gem of an author I have found that I enjoy along with the steamy books of Aly Martinez.   Even Kiera Cass self-published her first book Siren until an agent found her. As I read self-published authors, I become encouraged by their dedication and their ability to put themselves out there. It is scary and like I said before, it shows a vulnerability that is endearing.

 

For those new to my blog, I post a weekly chapter following the life of a young woman as she navigates loss and sorrow in a way that show resilience and hope. I feel this story may be the next book that I self-publish, after the completion of my series. It happens to be the first book I completed when I started writing two and a half years ago. If you haven’t had a chance to follow Julia yet, please get caught up on her story called The Last Breath. If you can, leave a comment below because I would love to get some feedback.

I want to highlight some new blogs I have started to follow this week. They are full of great information regarding many facets I either cover in my blog or just find interesting.

https://meltotheany.wordpress.com

I had a hard time breaking down her name at first but it is: Mel to the any. This gal is obsessed with reading, which I understand and can relate to. She gives great book reviews and loves gaming.

https://rhythminlife.net

I love this woman’s view on life as she has used poetry as an outlet for adversity she has faced. Check out her blog and her new book that is available on amazon.

https://domesticatedmomster.com

A mom honest about her life whose tag line for her blog is too funny- what happens to mommy when she gets to three. I love mom’s that are honest of the struggles of motherhood and this woman delivers.

https://columnsbykari.com

This blogger as a variety of information on her blog but what really caught my eye was her beauty articles.  I am girl and I like to look good like any other girl does. For that reason, I will certainly be checking her out.

I have to admit I am a dummy when it comes to technology and I am positive I have not been using social networking the way I should. I could really use any advice from other bloggers that have been able to build their base of followers. I am now on Instagram (writingwithasideoflife) and Pinterest (writing with a side of life). Also you can find me on Facebook and Twitter too!

As far as my reading goes, I have posted my completed books and TBR List on my blog but I am dedicating the month of June to all YA books. This is not my genre of choice but I have a teen that loves it when I read the same books as she does! Anyone with a teen knows it is hard to find something they actually want to do with you, so I am relishing the idea of having time to connect with her on her level.

I have had to take a break from my weekly book reviews due to the work my novel needed but I plan to get back with those this coming week, along with my mommy articles I post from time to time. I have read some great books in the last couple of months and I can’t wait to share with you, especially a Liane Moriarty book that captured my heart. I would love to hear from you below in the comments!

-Leigh

This is a good article for both writers and those that read our books!

If you don’t follow the amazing Linda G. Hill, check out this post about a Facebook discussion she was privy to. I was going to comment, but I ended up writing a rant of my own. Some people in person have expressed similar opinions that trash self-publishing as prone to errors. It’s not really fair […]

via Self-Published Books Are Real Books Too — Singular Fiction

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