Talking about endings isn’t the way one usually starts their first blog of the year, but what a start it’s been. If you’re into numerology, not a subject with which I’m familiar, perhaps you’re aware that 2016 is a ‘9’ year. This means a yearlong cycle of things ending. Personally I’d argue that began (don’t you love irony?) in September last year with the death of my mother-in-law and the rapid decline in mental health of my mother thanks to the cruelty that is dementia. My mother-in-law’s pain is finally over, but I fear the pain for my mother has only just begun.
And now, here we are in January, the month has almost passed and the world is mourning the loss of some of the most amazing artists of my generation. David Bowie was a fascinating conundrum of music and artistry who not only starred in one of my favourite childhood movies – Labyrinth, but also filled my head with music that toyed with my emotions and fuelled my thoughts with wonderment and possibilities long after the songs ended.
A greater loss to me was the death of Alan Rickman. I adored that man. I thrilled at the way he became whoever character he was called upon to play; such is the true testament of an accomplished actor. And his voice! Oh the things I imagined that voice saying to me over the years will forever remain locked in my (wicked) little heart. It’s been a Christmas Eve tradition in my family to watch Die Hard, Alan Rickman’s first feature film, (to my knowledge) and that night after hearing the terribly sad news, we watched the movie again. And I cried. Silly to cry over someone I’ve never met, but his work and my imaginations of him have been with me for so long, it was hard not to feel the loss and the pain. Someone shared a tweet about this that I thought perfectly summed up the situation. Written in regard to David Bowie, it’s relatable to anyone who’s ever had a crush on a popular public figure.
Thinking about how we mourn artists we've never met. We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.
— Juliette (@ElusiveJ) January 11, 2016
Of course, people pass away every day and their passing has a far reaching effect on those they leave behind. The positive thing to remember about endings though is that there must be beginnings to balance them out. A childhood hero dies, but discovering new heroes can help bridge that gap (though certainly never fill the space our loved ones leave behind). A job ends, yet a new opportunity or sea change could take its place. Sometimes, instead of getting what we want, life gives us what we need to grow and change for the better. And sometimes it gives us the push we didn’t realise we needed to better ourselves. That’s what I’m working on this year. I’m counting my blessings, moving forward, and working on accepting the fact that some decisions and life changes are out of my hands. On that note, I present this month’s column. :)
How are those New Year resolutions going? Still hanging in there or did they vanish at the first sign of temptation? If you’re anything like me, those well-meant decisions are rather hit or miss. (Usually miss.)
In past years I’ve resolved to lose weight, eat healthier, save money, drink more water, stress less and spend more quality time with family. The only one I’ve managed to uphold is the last, and I have no plans to change that.
It’s been a rough few months. Saying goodbye to a beloved family member due to cancer and knowing that another loved one also endures an illness from which I cannot save them is heartbreaking, but at least I can be there for the ones who need me most.
So even if I’m a little (okay, a lot) rounder after Christmas, still addicted to the sweet stuff , the budget is taking a hammering thanks to the kids needing back-to-school supplies, and we’ve been on far too many coffee and cake dates, (you see my resolution downfalls, right?) I’m making quality family time my main priority this year. After all, it’s the one New Year resolution I know I can keep.
Thankfully I found some reading time amongst all the tears, worry, and silent resignation. What would I do without the lovely Ms Jenny Schwartz’s stories to keep me going? :)
Find her stories here - http://authorjennyschwartz.com/
Reviews – Beyond Regeneration - It’s complicated. Charley Rowdon knew Dr. Jack Bradshaw years ago, before the accident, before she lost her left arm. Before her husband died. Jack is an internationally respected regeneration specialist, and he’s just made the breakthrough of the century: using QNA to grow non-human bio-enhancements on people, including himself. Think superhuman senses, claws, and even, wings.
However, when, as a journalist, Charley accepts Jack’s invitation to accompany him to his private clinic, a luxury resort on the beautiful south west coast of Australia, she finds more than medical science and altered humanity.
Murder, espionage and a scientific development that Jack never ever predicted will challenge Charley to shed her grief and fear, and solve a mystery beyond imagining.
But as Charley regenerates her life, how much will she risk by loving again?
“Beyond Regeneration” is a novel of old grief and new beginnings. The science is fabulous, more fiction than fact, but the emotions are real. This is the story of a woman badly hurt by life who finds the courage to embrace the unbelievable, and love again.
This was something different in Ms Schwartz’s repertoire and it was definitely a page turner. How best to describe it - think science fiction meets mystery with a little romance thrown into the mix for good measure. The characters are fleshed out, believable. Their grief is deeply felt, heartbreaking, yet moulds them into the people they’ve become. And then QNA, an inventive regenerative process comes into their lives and changes everything. No one is who they seem. Secrets abound and the reader is kept guessing until the end. If you like mysteries that delve into emotions and lay them bare, then you’ll enjoy reading this.
Sky Garden - On the rooftops of London, you can be anyone.
A year ago, Lanie Briers escaped a serial killer. She grew up in a theatre family and her act was mediumship, but not anymore. Life, now, is a hidden retreat above a quirky Bloomsbury museum, where she waits and watches.
Nick Tawes is an unexpected intrusion. He’s a landscape architect filming a television series on roof gardens, and he intends to build one in Lanie’s aerial territory. He has his own demons, old family troubles that lure Lanie out of her refuge and into living again.
But as summer progresses and the sky garden grows, Lanie’s enemy is closing in—because some secrets must go to the grave.
I loved this one. I expected Lanie to be broken and hiding away after her ordeal but she was far from it. I loved her strength of character and her maturity. Nick too, had a quiet inner strength that I found appealing. Their reactions toward each other were those of a romantic nature that I’ve come to expect from Ms Schwartz, but it was the story itself and the way they reacted with the sub characters had me ensnared. Each one became the piece of a puzzle that twisted throughout the story that I had to read in order to discover Lanie’s secret and the research, as it was in Beyond Regeneration, was well structured and evident throughout the story. There may have been a tear or two shed in this one.
It’s possible to be both in awe and more than a tad envious of a writer when you get to read stories like these. :)
Back to reality now. The kids are organised for the new school year. (I hope) My writing group has huge changes planned for the year to encourage and support each other’s writing ventures as well as preparing to release our next anthology. My city is preparing to host its biennial literary carnival in July (yay) and I’ve submitted my first (OMG what have I done? – let the panicking commence) competition entry for the year. Fingers crossed. :)
Oh and we have a new fur baby in the family. Meet Banjo (Named for an Aussie poet this time, thank you Mr Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson.) He’s our rescue puppy. Someone dumped his poor mother, brother and two sisters at the local refuse tip but fortunately they are all busy being loved up with their new owners.
Look at that face! How could I refuse him a forever home? I’m happy to report he and Dante are enjoying each other’s company and the one month age gap is allowing Dante to be top dog for just a little while longer - except when it comes to food... ;)
Before January disappears completely, I’m wishing you all a wonderful 2016 despite its emotional start for some. Whatever endings there are in your life this year, I hope it is also followed by many beautiful beginnings. :)