Blog Tour: The Expansion

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Expansion by Christoph Martin. I will be sharing a character spotlight on Max Burns who is protagonist of the novel.

Book Description:

In politics and big business, truth is a matter of opinion.

Straddling the storyworlds of Panama, Washington and London, The Expansion follows British-born geomatic engineer Max Burns, whose revolutionary water-saving system wins him the esteemed position of head engineer for one of the 21st century’s most politically contested megaprojects: the expansion of the Panama Canal.

For Max it is a dream come true: not only is he able to work closely with construction giant and old high-school friend Godfredo Roco in one of the most beautiful tropical environments, but it’s the kind of job Max has been working toward his entire career.

Yet in the arena of global trade and diplomacy, stakes are high, and when a senior official of the Panama Canal Administration is found dead, Max finds himself in the frame for sabotage and murder, and at the centre of a web of political intrigue and betrayal that reaches far beyond the idyllic shores of Central America. The only person Max can trust is his new-found love, Karis Deen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Except Karis herself holds a secret that could not only destroy Max, but could change the entire balance of world power.

The Expansion is available now!

Purchase Here:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Who is Max Burns?

The Expansion (the first of a series) was written by a collaborative writing team: Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin.

Max Burns is a character that popped into Chris’s head one day while he was on a flight from Panama to Zürich, Switzerland.

Max is a thoroughly good guy who winds up in extraordinary circumstances, and must dig himself out of the global political vipers’ nest using every resource he has! He pretty much embodies the entire story of the expansion of the Panama Canal from the very beginning, with all its unexpected twists and turns.

Max originally came from a very rich family who had a country estate in England, but he was orphaned at age 14, so he spent many years learning to survive in the poverty-stricken housing estates of outer London. Max’s survival was in part due to the fact that he had an adult in his life who had no money at all but who loved him and believed in him 100%.

Max also developed a determined work ethic and a policy of caution over those years, and he tended to bury the fun-loving side to his personality because of the cards life dealt him, and it’s really only when he reunites with his party-loving, larger-than-life school friend, Godfredo Roco, that he starts to wonder what he’s been missing. Then, when he meets and falls in love with Karis Deen in Panama, he really becomes the fun-loving adventurer he used to be.

Max is clever, sometimes snarky, and he likes a debate for the sake of debate, so you probably wouldn’t want to get into an argument with him, especially not about something technical, because he knows his stuff!

He values transparency and honesty above all things. And this is the biggest irony! Did we mention the Defense Clandestine Service and undercover agents? And a political conspiracy?!  But the interesting thing about Max is that he’s a survivor: he has lived through a lot already by the time he gets to Panama, and he’s learned he can trust that the steps he takes are the right ones for himself. And they usually are. Except suddenly, without any warning, everything starts going wrong around him, until everything he’s worked for and his whole future is at risk. And he has to muster the strength and find out if he has what it takes to fight for control of his life!

 About the Author:

Christoph Martin is the writing team of Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin. Christoph Zollinger is a Swiss entrepreneur whose career spans legal, military, corporate and private enterprise. Christoph graduated with a law degree from the University of Zürich, after which time he went on to live and work in Panama in corporate and private enterprise for more than a decade. In 2012 he returned to Switzerland with his wife and children. He divides his time between his home in Zürich and a tiny Alpine village in Graubünden. Libby O’Loghlin is an Australian novelist and prize-winning short story writer who has a career in narrative media production, including film and television, as well as print and digital publishing. She has lived in the UK, USA and Malaysia, and she now lives with her family in Switzerland.


Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Published: September 1, 2015
Dates Read: April 27- May 6, 2017

My Rating: 4 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house; have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

My Review:

I saw the trailer for the movie version of Everything, Everything and it left me wanting to read the book.  I saw my library had it available as an audiobook, so I reserved it.  It is a shorter audiobook of six discs.  Madeline (Maddie) suffers from SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and can’t leave her home or she will get deathly ill. She only sees her mom and her nurse.  She is fine with the life she is leading, but then a family moves next door. She soon ‘meets’ Oliver (Olly) and they become friends.  They have conversations via email and instant messenger.  They start to fall for each other and then Maddie begins to want more in her life as she starts to realize what she has been missing.

Everything, Everything is a cute YA novel that I enjoyed.  Maddie is our narrator through her diary. She is very smart, and also a voracious reader (I like her!). Though, in the beginning of the novel Maddie does come off as a little ‘stalker-ish’ with her constant watching of Olly’s family and learning their schedules.  I had to remind myself that she is unable to leave her home so what else is she going to do? A new family moved in and they have a cute son… Of course she is going to watch them!

Olly is adorable and they are delightful ‘together’ through their communications.  They have the problem of wanting to be together, but her disease is preventing this from happening.  You can’t help but want Olly and Maddie to be together despite her disease. Through her diary, we experience all of Maddie’s feelings.

SCID is at the forefront of Everything, Everything, but the author did not research it enough as it is not accurately portrayed.  I will say this in regards to that issue: We get a small idea of what SCID or a serious disease could be like for someone that affects all aspects of their life. Although, I feel that if an author is going to use a particular disease at the forefront of their novel then it should be meticulously researched to be accurately portrayed. Despite the inaccurate portrayal of SCID, Everything, Everything is about a girl looking for some kind of normalcy in her life despite her disease.

There is an unexpected twist about ¾ into the novel. People seem to either like the twist or not. I was shocked with the twist and enjoyed all of Everything, Everything.  I can’t say anymore without giving away this twist.

The only negative for me with the novel was in the audiobook.  There is a male narrator that was used for Olly when he and Maddie are communicating via email and instant messenger, but when they talked in person he was not used. I did not see the point of having a male narrator for part of the novel when he could have been utilized for all of Olly.

Everything, Everything is recommended.  If you are going to read it, forget the inaccurate portrayal of SCID and enjoy it for the novel that it is. I do plan to see the movie as well.


A Conversation with Kim Turrisi

This is Kim Turrisi’s first novel and is based off of her story as her sister committed suicide when Kim was fifteen.  The emotions are raw and real in Just a Normal Tuesday. It was released last week on May 2nd  and I feel everyone should read this novel. It truly touched me; so far this is my #1 read of the year. My review for Just A Normal Tuesday is here.

Buy Just a Normal Tuesday Now!
Amazon US
Amazon UK

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room):Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an Air Force brat so I moved every two years. That alone helps me adapt to new situations fairly quickly. My love of music is from my father and my love of reading definitely from my mom and sister. Both read to me every day when I was younger. I was destined to be a book nerd and I’m okay with that. I went to college in Florida at Florida State University and I am a diehard Seminole fan.

JRR: I am a book nerd as well and proud of it. I have a problem and freely admit it! Did you always want to become an author?

I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote screenplays first then two web series. Working at the SCBWI(The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), I fell in love with young adult literature. I can’t imagine doing anything else. If I’m not writing it, I’m reading it. There are so many incredible YA authors.

JRR: There really are so many good YA author and books out there, yours included! What does your writing process consist of?

I always, always write with music playing. I create a play list for the book I’m about to tackle then a play list for my protagonist. When I wrote Just a Normal Tuesday, several songs were on repeat while I wrote the really tough stuff. Lots of angst. I keep notebooks about each of my characters that I go back to as I outline my book. I like to know what they wear, what foods they like, habits they have, what they read and definitely what music they listen to.

JRR: That playlist and the notebooks helped when you wrote Just a Normal Tuesday since for me you really nailed all the emotions. What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors? I know the journey to become published and can be a long and difficult one.

My best advice is to never give up. It is hard road but when it does happen, I promise that all of the rejections and revisions are worth it. Also, make sure you surround yourself with other writers and take their notes to heart. With Tuesday, I was so close to it, I needed other perspectives to stay on track. I’m grateful to all the people who read it and those who rejected it but gave me notes. It made this book so much better.

JRR: That’s a good way to take the rejections; using the notes you were given to improve the book. What made you go the ‘traditional route’ for getting Just a Normal Tuesday published versus indie/self -publishing?

It was a goal I gave myself. There was no question that I would go the traditional route. In my every day job, I work closely with editors at the traditionally publishing companies so it was my comfort zone.

JRR: Where did the idea for Just a Normal Tuesday come from? Did you take your personal experiences to form Kai’s character, especially when it came to the range of emotions she felt after her sister’s suicide? Was Just a Normal Tuesday difficult to write or was it a kind of therapy and a way to get those emotions and feelings out?

Just a Normal Tuesday is based on what happened to me when I was fifteen. I fictionalized a portion of it but honestly, a lot of the emotions and events were spot on. I would say Kai and I shared the spiral of anger and despair. This was probably the hardest book I will ever write since it’s so close to my truth. There were many dark days having to recall all that I went through at such a young age. It’s also the first time I’ve talked about it since then.

I didn’t get to go to Grief Camp at fifteen but in writing this book, I felt like I did all these years later. It was quite cathartic even when it felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest.

JRR: The emotions Kai experiences were so real and raw! At times I felt like I was hearing your story (which in a way we were) with the first half of the book. It felt like you were talking to me as I was reading.

Who do you hope your book reaches? I feel that everyone should read this book, especially those who lost someone at a young age. There is such a wide range of emotions the reader will experience as the book is read.

When I set out on this journey, my hope was that anyone feeling left behind by a loved one would see themselves in this book so they felt less alone and that it helps them find their path to healing. The stigma of suicide can be isolating especially if no one is talking about it. That’s how it was for me.

Grief is a universal feeling. No matter how you lose a loved one, it’s devastating. Suicide is especially crippling since it’s sometimes so difficult to understand.

***Thank you so much for your time with this interview Kim!  I know you have been very busy with the launch of Just a Normal Tuesday, so this means a lot that you agreed to an interview at this time. Good luck with the book! I hope it reaches many people out there who need it.  It truly touched me and I hope everyone reads it.

If you are considering suicide please get help. There are many organizations that can help. You are worth it!

 The National Suicide Prevention Helpline
Open 24/7

The Trevor Project (LGTBQ)
Open 24/7

The Hope Line

The Didi Hirsch Foundation 

For those who have lost someone, here are some camps that can help:

Comfort Zone Came (US)

Camp Erin (US and Canada)

Contact Kim:
Twitter @KimmyT22
Instagram @KimmyT22