Friday, March 27, 2015

Weightless // Sarah Bannan

Title: Weightless
Author: Sarah Bannan
Release Date: April, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus
Source: Copy for Review

Before Carolyn Lessing arrived, nothing much had ever happened in Adamsville, Alabama. Each week, at dinner tables and in the high school assembly, everyone would pray for the football team to win. Each year, the Adams High Hot List would be updated, and girls would rise and fall within its ranks. Each day, everyone lived by the unwritten rules that cheerleaders did not hang out with the swim team, seniors did not date freshman and the blistering heat was something that should never be remarked upon. But then the new girl came.

All that Carolyn's social media revealed was that she had moved from New Jersey, had 1075 friends and no relationship status. In beach photos with boys who looked like Abercrombie models, she seemed beautiful, but in real life she was so much more. She was perfect.  

This was all before the camera crews arrived, before the cracks began to appear in the dry earth and before it became impossible to see where rumour ended and truth began.

It's honestly hard to believe that this is a debut novel. I was blown away from start to finish, everything about this book made me want to read it in one sitting but also draw it out for as long as possible. Every time I went to put this book down, I'd picked it up again within ten minutes. The writing was just that good. Weightless had the sort of plot that is so breathtaking I wondered why this book hadn't already been written.

I've never read a book written from a 'we' point of view - "We sat on the bleachers.." I personally really liked this style, it made me feel completely invested in the story and the characters. I sometimes find that books written in the first person can be off-putting, but this was really refreshing and original!

Carolyn was certainly an interesting character to read, in a lot of ways I could see myself in her. She clearly felt a lot of pressure to keep up appearances and maintain her 'perfect' life. I really felt for her. The other female characters always appeared threatened by her: because she was different, beautiful, untouchable. Which eventually crumbled, it was frustrating that the other characters didn't see this coming, but I thought it was so accurate to what actually happens in life that it isn't even a criticism.

This book just kept me guessing, I knew that there was only one way it could but I was hoping the whole story that I would be proving wrong. Without giving too much away, I nearly searched for the Facebook pages mentioned towards the conclusion, it all just felt so real. 'This can't be a book, this has to be true,' I was thinking from start to end.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lifespan of Starlight || Thalia Kalkipsakis

Title: Lifespan of Starlight
Author: Thalia Kalkipsakis
Release Date: April 1, 2015
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: Advanced Reading Copy

It already lies dormant within you: the ability to move within time.

In 2048, three teenagers discover the secret to time travel. At first their jumps cover only a few seconds, but soon they master the technique and combat their fear of jumping into the unknown.

It's dangerous. It's illegal. And it's utterly worth it for the full-body bliss of each return.

As their ability to time jump grows into days and weeks, the group begins to push beyond their limits, with terrifying consequences. Could they travel as far as ten years, to escape the authorities? They are desperate enough to find out.

But before they jump they must be sure, because it only works in one direction.

Once you trip forwards, there's no coming back.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't just me, but when I was in middle primary school my friends and I were obsessed with the Go Girl! book series. Anyone with a bigger collection than my own was a reason for nine-year-old jealousy. I was gutted when I outgrew the series and wished the stories still held their magic.

Now though, one of the authors from this iconic series is back with a new book, aimed at older readers. Thalia Kalkipsakis is this author and far from her Go Girl! days comes Lifespan of Starlight, the fast-paced story of a still-believable future.

I'm going to say it right now that I absolutely loved Scout. Although this story isn't written specifically for a female audience, but a strong female protagonist is a big plus for me. I really admired the way she lived, despite being an outsider and ultimately risking her safety and freedom for doing what she did. (I wish I could explain that better but I'm not giving away any spoilers!)

For me the characters of Mason and Boc were really interesting; I wasn't really sure what they were going to bring to the story for a long time. Boc is still someone I'm unsure about and I'm really hoping that the remaining books of the trilogy share more about him. Mason was unusual, the on-again-off-again relationship he had with Scout was confusing (still is actually). I really liked both Boc and Mason but I wish I could read the sequel right now to find out more about them!

I would definitely, definitely recommend this book. Kalkipsakis has a writing style I could read for days. Lifespan of Starlight will keep you hooked from the very beginning, this strange new world is one I'd love to visit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fall Electric || Interview

The thing that I really love about blogging is finding new books, clothes and, in this case, music. The up and coming muso's are the ones that make me really excited. 

And this is why I'm thrilled to introduce you to a new gem from Western Australia, Fall Electric.

With instruments like the cello, coupled with baritone vocals Fall Electric is as exciting as it comes. New sounds, a new record label and a 6/8 time signature, their album Interior is what you should be listening to.

So why Interior? What made you choose that as the album title?
There's lots of reasons. Firstly: it sounds awesome as a singular word - kind of tough-meets-curious. [Haha.] Second: there's a tonne of sounds layered into quite a few of the tunes, so the name points to all that. Another reason is there's lots of stuff from deep down in the lyrics, so that def came from the inside.

How are you feeling about the release after such a long writing process?
Surprisingly fresh. But let me explain. All the records I've made with various bands over the years had a long writing process, whereby tunes are made when they are made and never forced, so it's not been different for me. What was different about this album is we tracked the whole thing in about six days, which was a super focused hyper inspired zone of joy, hopefully that comes through.

What are we in for? Is Over You similar to the whole album or are there some surprises in store?
I'm told by my more learned music theory Fall Electric band member that Over You is in the 6/8 time signature and it would seem that's something that I'm innately attracted to - there's a few other tunes on the record with six beats per bar structure. Aside from all that the album is like a large family with a zillion kids, all the kids have cello and my vocals so you can tell they're family but they def have their own individual personality - don't know if that's surprising.

You want to create music that's different - what is different for you?
We don't really want to do anything per se, we discovered that we were compelled to make music the way we do. But as to define different, I believe different has no hang up about trends and it prefers good to cool. [I] hope that makes sense.

 I hear that you guys are the masterminds behind Status Factory Records. Why was this something you wanted to start up?
We makes lots of music and couldn't be bothered persuading someone else to put it out. Also there's a tonne of amazing musicians in Perth who are world beaters so we'd like to help them.

 Where do you hope the label will go from here?
We have a series of split 7" releases for Western Australian bands that blow us away.

And what about Fall Electric? What's next for you musically?
We are all about Interior for the next few months at least.

What do you hope people take from listening to your tracks?
A sweet expansive uncommon vibe. 

Fall Electric's Facebook Page.

NOTE: Stay tuned for my review of Interior, live on Love 'Em soon!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Robin Baker || Author Interview

This isn't the first time that Love 'Em has been lucky enough to feature author Robin Baker - if you'd like to read my review of Killing Richard Dawson, you can find it here - and I'm super excited to share my interview with him here now.

This English teacher turned funeral director who can write a serious novel, you can understand why I wanted to feature him again, right?!

His answers are killer, so I'm going to let him do the 'talking'.

I first read your book Killing Richard Dawson in November (and loved it). Do you read your own stories?
Thanks so much! I generally don't go back to something once it's finished. I haven't read either book since they've been published, though I'll occasionally refer back to specific scenes of sections to see how I wrote something, or to check phrasing, things like that. I'm sure I'll go back to them one day, but at the moment I think all I'd see are things I wish I'd done differently.

The concept for this book really blew me away, how did this story come to you?
It came from a combination of a few smaller ideas. The first was wanting to write something in the first-person, which I'd never really done before, but write it from the perspective of someone who was quite emotionally damaged and who could not always be taken at his word. I was interested in the challenge of making the reader relate to, or sympathise with, someone who was quite selfish and unlikeable. I wanted to explore those parts of our personalities we all have but don't like to admit.
The second part was wanting to tackle the 'teen' genre in a subversive way. I was about seventeen, maybe eighteen, when I started writing KRD, and at the time we were being bombarded with teen-centered shows and movies that I found to be wildly inaccurate to what I was experiencing at the time. I thought of the book as the anti-American Pie, where it dealt with much darker subject matter and was - tonally, at least - more accurate to what my friends and I experienced at that age. The events in the book are entirely fictitious but the lifestyle portrayed and the attitudes of the characters were true to my experiences. I also wanted to gently mock the whole 'teen angst' thing and not take any of it too seriously.

How do you write? Do you have a set time or place to write?
I tend to write in spurts during the first half of a book, then finish it in a mad rush over a very short time-frame. I always liken it to going on a rollercoaster: there's the long build-up while you're getting everything in place, then once you pass the crest it's non-stop to the end. I wish I could write faster but when I force myself to write and I'm not in the mood, I'm never happy with what I produce and usually end up deleting most of it anyway.

How do you feel when you finish writing your final draft?
It's a strange feeling - it's a mix of relief that it's finished; fear that it's not good enough and doesn't say what I wanted it to say; joy that it's finally completed, and also sadness that I won't be spending any more time with these people whom I've come to know over the last few years. It's funny living with these characters in your head all day every day, then suddenly they're gone. It's always hard saying goodbye!

What happens next? How does it turn from a draft to the book your readers get?
I'll generally finish the first draft then put it away for a few weeks so I forget all the little details, then come back and re-read it with a fresher perspective and make some further changes. Then I send it off to a couple of close friends who I trust to give honest feedback, then make changes based on their suggestions. It then goes to my publisher, who reads it and sends it back with their thoughts, which leads to another set of rewrites. I then send it back and, if they're happy with it, it goes to my editor. She then does a structural edit, which is a very general, overall review (which involves things like moving certain scenes around for a better flow, making sure characters and events are consistent throughout, things like that), which leads to more rewrites. I then send that back and she does another edit with a fine-tooth comb, which covers all the little things like spelling, grammar and punctuation. While I do the final rewrite my publisher is also finalising things like the cover design and internal typesetting. They send me an electronic copy of the final layout so I can check for any last-minute changes, then it's all done and released into the wild. It's a long process but also a lot of fun, and the book gets better and better with each revision.

Do you have a favourite character in Killing Richard Dawson?
I've always had a soft spot for Mel and would have liked to spend more time with her. Beau was the most fun to write and I think he has the best arc, but I like Mel and how she was almost a mirror of the narrator's feelings.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it?
I'm currently reading Suttree by Cormack McCarthy. I've been on a bit of a McCarthy binge lately as I really enjoy his minimalist style. I am enjoying the book, though I prefer his more narrative-driven work like Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men or The Road. This one doesn't have much of a plot and feels a bit meandering at times but the quality of the prose makes up for it.

What's the worst advice you've ever been given?
"Things will work themselves out" or any variation thereof. They don't, you need to work for them.

What's the best?
In regards to writing: My first draft of KRD was quite different to the finished product - the story was the same but the style was a lot more unusual. Everywhere I submitted it rejected it as being "too weird". I was participating in a writers' workshop at the time and spoke to the author running the program about the problems I was having and he gave me this funny advice: "get famous before you get weird". It made me laugh at the time but I took it on board, then went back and rewrote another draft which was much more accessible. I saw an immediate improvement in feedback and this was the version I submitted to my eventual publisher. I credit that piece of advice for getting me published.

Thank you so much for chatting to Love 'Em! I hope there are some exciting things coming up?
Thanks so much for inviting me! I am currently working on my third novel, titled Pareidolia, which will hopefully be out next year. I will also possibly be appearing at the Perth Supanova Festival in June 2015, so come say hi if you're in the area!
To buy the book, read a free extract or just to read more about Robin, click HERE.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Workers Club // Geelong

An artist's impression of THE WORKERS CLUB GEELONG
Although currently 90-92 Malop Street, Geelong mightn't be a place you've heard of, you should start paying attention. As of the end of March, 90-92 Malop Street will be the home to The Workers Club Geelong, the offshoot of the already established The Workers Club Melbourne.

The primary booker for this exciting new venture, Spinning Half's Steven Nichols, said there's already over 30 acts booked in. And doors have yet to even open.

This year APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) announced that postcode 3261 - which covers Geelong and surrounds - has the highest percentage of growth of royalty earning musicians in Australia. Basically, the music scene in Geelong is going from strength to strength. The Workers Club is opening in safe hands.

Steven Nichols & John O'Brien
What started as a chance conversation between old schoolmates, The Workers Club Melbourne co-owner John O'Brien and Nichols will both have an active role in the business. Setting them apart from other, similar sized venues, is Nichols and O'Brien.

"Lots of owners don't have a musical background," says Nichols.

"I'll be the primary booker for the venue...John will have an active role in marketing."

With doors opening soon, already over 30 acts - both national and international - have been confirmed. Jake Clemons, Jeff Martin, Northeast Party House, and British India to name just a few.

"We want to have all ages shows. We'd be aiming to have a fair few," says Nichols.

A brand new kitchen and exciting menu yet to be announced - no pub parmies here! - The Workers Club Geelong will be open for functions and private hire.

"We're trying to stay true to what Melbourne does...We'd hope to be open as many nights as possible."

"Maybe a local metal band on Friday, something more Triple J feel on Saturday, and a dinner and a show type thing on Sunday."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Of The Boys & VIBES // Interview + Review

The fabulous mind behind One of The Boys Jamie-Lee Yard has achieved a lot in the two months since starting her own brand. Going from strength to strength, this brand is cool, comfy, and completely wearable - think your go-to lazy day tank or tee but trendy enough to look like you've tried.

I can't even describe how much I love OTB. So instead of me writing nonsense I'll let Jamie do the 'talking'.

[Thanks to J for being so generous by sending me an OTB tank!]

  • So firstly how is One of The Boys going lately?
It has been an overwhelming response considering the label only started just over two months ago.

  • How did it start?
I am known for making something out of nothing and [I] was feeling like I needed a hobby. So I just started sketching styles and fashion.

  • What inspired the label?
Adelaide, as small as it is, has a really good night life, I am a very social person and am always out and about doing something. Last year I was introduced to a music genre [called] 'Trap'. There is an event called Trapped in Adelaide held mostly at Electric Circus that is in a basement, [with a] very underground feel to it. When I attended for the first time I fell in love. The music, the people and the fashion is exactly what inspired me! It was like I had something in common with everyone there, I wore my boyfriend's top as a dress, a beanie and some boots. I felt like 'one of the boys' and every female there had the same trend.

  • I hear you have a new line and label coming out. What can you share about this?
Yes, I have a busy few weeks ahead of me. I have another line coming out on OTB that is going to refresh and 90s child memory, but what is more exciting is from January we will be expanding. A fresh new label called VIBES.

  • How will it be different from OTB?
OTB has the 90s skater feel to it but with VIBES I'm looking into the 80s Miami look - lots of neon and bright colour. This past year has been my favourite of all time, my 2014 goal was to push a lot of positive vibes through my personality and live for the moment and that really shows in the new label..

  • What are you hoping to achieve with this label?
Success, and in saying that I feel as if I have already achieved that. Walking down the street and seeing your hard work on someone you don't know is a good feeling.

  • Where will we be able to buy it?
OTB and VIBES are available only online at this stage. [One Of The Boys is no longer open] and VIBES is in the making [at]

  • When is everything going to be available?
All the new gear we are aiming to have out within two weeks time.

  • How long does it take you to design a line?
I draw everything. I drew our latest four designs in two hours. I then send it to a professional who makes it come alive. The time frame depends on how inspired I am.

  • What are you most proud of?
When I get random customers contacting me saying how much they love their items. It makes me want to keep going and make it into a career.

  • Why did you go into fashion?
Because I had the understanding I wouldn't have to buy clothes again, but that is not true.

  • Describe your personal style?
I would have to say I am 90s inspired with a passion [for] old school rock. I love living for my childhood. ALL the good things were made back then.

Some Blonde DJ
  • If you could steal someone's clothing collection, who's would it be and why?
This is an extremely hard question for me. I have a few people in the music industry who have inspired the label. I was lucky enough to be in contact with them and they have supported the label by repping it on social media, DJ Brooklyn and Some Blonde DJ. But in all I would love to take a few goodies out of Rihanna's closet because she has such a wide variety of looks that I would be covered for any occasion.