Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Book Review: Change of Life by Samantha Bryant

change of lifeChange of Life (A Menopausal Superhero Novel #2) by Samantha Bryant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain minor spoilers.

Change of Life by Samantha Bryant is the sequel to Going Through the Change (you can read my review here). As such, this review of Change of Life will contain spoilers for Going Through the ChangeConsider yourself warned.

Still here? Right, let’s do this.

Change of Life by Samantha Bryant continues the story of our favorite band of menopausal superheroes. In this novel, Jessica (the gravity-defying cancer survivor) and Leonel (the strong “man” formerly known as Linda) are working for the Department, a secret government organization that specializes in finding, training, and sometimes defeating individuals with superhuman abilities, as well as other spy-related missions. Patricia (the Hulk-like dino-woman) is on the hunt for her former friend and evil mastermind Cindy Liu, who has disappeared after the events of Going Through the ChangeHelen (the fire-wielding villain) has also gone missing, and her daughter Mary (a non-super, albeit fiery, young woman) has gone looking for her.

As you can tell, there is a lot going on in Change of Life. And yet, Bryant weaves a complete and engaging narrative, giving each character her fair share of the spotlight and emotional depth. (This includes our newest hero, Sally Ann, who is Jessica’s trainer within the Department.) The plot moves quickly and smoothly, keeping the reader entertained and trying to unravel the mystery along the way. Part of the pacing comes from the narrative style — short chapters and alternating perspectives — which allows the reader to view the conflicts from all angles and ensures that there is a heroine to whom everyone can relate.

Perhaps my favorite part of Change of Life (and Going Through the Change) is how Bryant uses her different characters to challenge and celebrate the different forms of womanhood. From housewives to business women, and from child-free ladies to grandmothers, Bryant depicts womanhood from all angles, showcasing the similarities and differences in how “the change” effects each of them. Moreover, Bryant explores how traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” personality traits can both be positive for her female characters. For example, one of Leonel (aka Linda’s) greatest assets is her ability to listen and her caring nature, while Patricia finds strength in her independent spirit and take-no-bullshit attitude.

This being said, my only criticism about Change of Life was that sometimes the narrative stalled on characters’ emotions a bit too long. While the internal monologues did increase my understanding of the characters, sometimes they bordered on repetitive, and other times I would rather have “seen” the characters’ emotional states emerge through their physical reactions to the conflicts in the story.

Slow spots aside, the real jewel of Change of Life is the character development. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel inspired as the characters embraced both their superpowers and the changes their powers caused in their personal lives. For instance, Jessica learning to master her “flying” and no longer fear it made me incredibly proud, and Leonel standing up for herself and finally focusing on herself after a lifetime of being a wife and mother first showed her strength and made me love her even more. All of the characters have similar growths and will endear themselves to the reader twofold in this novel.

Overall, Change of Life is a fitting sequel. Packed with action, drama, and a dash of romance, and led by a cast of strong, complex, and diverse women, it’s everything you’d want in a “menopausal” superhero novel. Highly recommended for superhero-lovers of all genders, ages, and levels of geeky-ness.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

You can find out more about Samantha Bryant on her website, and you can read an interview where she discusses her inspiration for Change of Life here.


change of lifeIf you are interested in reading Change of Life and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it through my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

The 2016 2K Indie Book Tour: Samantha Bryant

Hello, everyone! Thanks for following the 2016 2K Indie Book Tour so far. For the second half, I’ll be your host. If you missed the first set of interviews, make sure to check them out on Kate Evans’s website, www.writingourselveswell.co.uk.

authorshot-BRYANTFirst up on my half of the blog tour is Samantha Bryant. Samantha is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding the things her family members have misplaced—and the ability to operate on very little sleep. When she’s not writing or working, Samantha watches old movies, reads, listens to audiobooks, bakes, walks in the woods, and wishes she was writing.

Here, she introduces her superhero/women’s fiction novel Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel:

In this lighthearted, nontraditional superhero novel, four menopausal women in the same town start to exhibit strange abilities: incredible strength, the ability to wield fire, to fly (sort of), and armor-plated skin. Each woman struggles to deal with her changes in her own way, until life throws them together. When the women start to talk, they find out that they have more in common than they knew–one person has touched all their lives. The hunt for answers is on.

Sequels: Book 2: Change of Life will be released April 20, 2016; a novella bridging between Book 1 and Book 2 will be included in The Indomitable Ten anthology, which will be released on March 5, 2016.

Now, here’s our interview with Samantha:

What was the inspiration behind your book?

The origin story behind Going Through the Change is a conversation with my husband. One evening, we were out walking the dog, one of the few ways folks like us (with two kids) can get to finish some sentences. We were talking about a recent superhero movie we had seen together and lamenting how all the heroes seem to be angst-ridden teenagers these days (even the adult ones). My husband said something like, “It’s like puberty causes superpowers.” I laughed and said, “With great hormones, come great power. Wait! If that’s true, menopausal women should have the corner on that market!” He laughed and told me to write it down. I did, and a series of novels was born.

Who is your favorite character?

I love them all, but Patricia is my favorite one to write. She’s all hard edges protecting her secret marshmallow insides. She’s driven and a force to be reckoned with. Since I’m a marshmallow inside and out, I enjoy writing a woman so different from myself.

What is one thing you want readers to know or “get” about your book?

That women heroes come in many shapes. As I sign my books: we are, all of us, heroes.

Who is your ideal reader? Or, who will enjoy your book?

Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” That’s what I did. I imagined my readers being other women like me. Geeky grown-ups, with lives (children, careers, partners, responsibilities), who still enjoy a bit of “what if?” imagining. I’ve found that younger readers and male readers have also enjoyed the book, too.

What three writing tips do you have for aspiring authors?

1. Finish things. The worst book you ever finished writing is better than the best one that only exists in your imagination. The revision process is where you’ll smooth out the rough places.

2. Don’t worry about selling it while you’re writing it. There’s plenty of time to figure that out once you have something to sell.

3. Writing is a very individual process. You have to learn what works for you. For me, that’s a daily writing habit and tracking word count on spreadsheets, and keeping myself accountable through writing groups. What’s important is respecting your own process. Don’t worry about how anyone else does it. They’re not you.

CHANGE-cover-BRYANTWhere can readers buy your book?

Amazon: http://bitly.com/face-the-change

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23504114-going-through-the-change

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/going-through-the-change-samantha-bryant/1121690928?ean=9781620078419

 

 

Where can readers learn more about you? 

Blog: http://samanthabryant.com

Amazon author: http://amazon.com/author/samanthabryant

Publisher page: https://curiosityquills.com/authors/samantha-bryant

Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/samanthadunawaybryant

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mirymom1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/mirymom

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamanthaDunawayBryant/posts

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

Guest Post: More Than One Kind of Woman Can Be a Hero by Samantha Bryant

flash_dalePortrayals of women in speculative fiction have come a long way. When my parents were children, (the fifties), female characters were there to be rescued or objectified (or both if possible).  Think Flash Gordon or George Reeve’s Superman. Very few female characters, and all of them in peril. Lots of skimpy lamé costuming, and hysterical responses to danger. It got a little better into the sixties, with Star Trek and Lost in Space, where women at least were part of the crew and not just a liability to male heroes.

charlies_angelsIn my childhood (the seventies), female characters had more agency, and even took the lead role in some settings. Think Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman.  The Six Million Dollar Man (and the Bionic Woman).  In the years following “separate but equal” policies of race in the United States at large, television seems to have taken that to heart for gender as well in writing shows that featured women who were successful and competent in their own circles, though usually not alongside and equal to men.

In my own children’s childhoods (the 2000s) entire television programs and book series center around a seriously kick-butt woman and even the male-dominated groups have at least one strong female character in the bunch.  Alias, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hunger Games, the Avengers, Orphan Black. These women are intimidating and highly skilled. They are tough and dangerous.

That progression is exciting and inspiring. It gives me hope as we move forward. Where might we be in three more generations?

clonesBut the work is not done. There’s been a lot of discussion about what a strong, female character really is. In contemporary representation, largely she is some kind of paragon of physical prowess. Quite literally, a strong woman. I like this kind of character way better than I liked the doormats of the past, but she’s still not often a fully-developed, well-rounded and interesting person yet. In my view, a strong female character isn’t really any different than a strong male character: she just needs to be fully developed, allowed to have flaws, history, motivations and doubts.

I wonder if the one-note nature of some of these strong female characters comes about because our heroines are all so young. They are young adults, just finding their way in the world and getting to know themselves. They don’t have history and experience to pull on. They don’t yet know what they don’t know.

That’s why I wrote Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. I wanted to consider the idea of a woman hero, someone who was already established in herself before the strange new life-changing element (in this case: superpowers) comes in. My women range in age from thirty-two to sixty-seven.  They’ve made a variety of life choices and are at very different stages in life.

Banner-Take-Two
Banner by Charles C. Dowd

Linda Alvarez is a grandmother who was always a stay-at-home mother, until she develops super-strength and other life-altering changes. Patricia O’Neill is career-oriented and prides herself on independence, but finds she needs help to deal with her new alter ego. Jessica Roark is the mother of young children, dealing with depression and a feeling is disconnection with her life, until she develops a more immediate problem with gravity. Helen Braeburn has a grown daughter and has thrown her efforts into advancing her career after the dissolution of her marriage, but things heat up after she develops the ability to wield fire. They’re all bound together by a mad scientist, Cindy Liu, determined to prove to the world that a woman is worth more than just an incubation system for babies.

As I’ve continued to write in this universe, I’ve found it a great backdrop for exploring issues surrounding being female in the early twenty-first century.  It’s what I’ve always loved about speculative fiction. Done right, it can be fun, and it can make you think. That’s what I’m hoping for.


going through the changeGoing Through the Change is going through a change in price for a couple of days in early August. On August 5th and 6th you can get the Kindle edition for free on Amazon. Check it out at: http://bitly.com/face-the-change

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills. You can find her online on her blog,  Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Book Review: Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant

going through the changeGoing Through the Change by Samantha Bryant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant follows five seemingly-normal women, all of whom happen to be going through menopause. However, “the change” isn’t all these women have in common — all of them have undergone inexplicable bodily alterations that have left them with unbelievable new abilities. Eventually, the women cross paths and three of them team up to figure out what has happened to them. Once they determine the common denominator, they go in search of the person responsible and get much more of a fight than they expected.

Going Through the Change is a fun and quick-paced novel. While it is obviously geared toward women, especially middle-aged women, as a young woman I still enjoyed the novel and found myself relating to the emotions behind the character’s experiences. The overarching theme of the novel is body- and female-empowerment. Each of the characters have struggles, be it managing a family, body- or age-consciousness, or dealing with a stressful job. However, each of the characters grows (for good or evil) and learns to respect herself and take pride in her new abilities. As someone who cares deeply about female empowerment, I adored this message and the playful way it was portrayed.

The characters themselves are mostly well-developed, and Bryant does a masterful job of interweaving their lives. Linda, Patricia, and Jessica are all well-rounded and complex, and their cultural and experiential differences keep the novel feeling fresh, even as they go through similar (or the same) events. Likewise, these three women provide enough diversity that every reader should be able to relate to at least one of them. Moreover, Suzie and Eva, two of the side characters, are rock stars in their own respect, and David, Linda’s husband, shows his depth in the way he handles Linda’s change and eventually overcomes it to support her.

A few characters that I would like to have seen more development from are Cindy, Helen, and Nathan. Admittedly, Nathan is a very minor character (and perhaps having one that is just a jerk is fine), but I would liked to have had more from him (jerk-ish or otherwise) so he did not feel quite so two-dimensional. As to Cindy and Helen, both of them begin with strong personalities and clear motives. However, I felt as if a switch were flipped, and they changed into new people a little too quickly. Granted, going through a supernatural change must be rather shocking, but I would have liked to see a more gradual change or at least some sign of indecision or inner conflict from them.

As previously noted, the plot of Going Through the Change moves quickly, which is something I like as a reader. The fast pacing keeps the novel fun, and the twists keep the reader engaged. The chapters ended in ways that encouraged me to keep reading, always wanting more. My only complaint is that the novel seemed to end rather abruptly. It is clear that Bryant is setting us up for a sequel, as there are many important issues left to be resolved. However, I felt like the book went from epic fight scene to stop in a rather short span of time with little-to-no winding down. While this will be a fantastic asset when a sequel is ready to purchase, right now, I feel like a bit like someone turned off my movie three minutes before the credits.

Overall, Going Through the Change is a fun and exciting read. It is inventive and unlike any superhero novel I have ever read. In one of Bryant’s author biographies, she states that she is a fan of comics and Joss Whedon, and it shows in her spirited novel and empowering themes. If you love superheroes, feminism, and a dash of humor, you will love Going Through the Change.

View all my reviews


going through the changeIf you are interested in reading Going Through the Change and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.