Review: The Girl in the Green Dress -Dr Jeni Haynes and Dr George Blair – West

The Girl in the Green Dress

Dr Jeni Haynes & Dr George Blair-West

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644856

RRP $32.99

Description:

An unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live shows how MPD or DID saved her life. It is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.

I didn’t know that you’re only supposed to have one personality. I didn’t realise that having lots of voices in your head was abnormal. But you are protecting yourself. You are protecting your soul, and that’s what I did.’

An intelligent, poised woman, Jeni Haynes sat in court and listened as the man who had abused her from birth, a man who should have been her protector, a man who tortured and terrified her, was jailed for a non-parole period of 33 years. The man was her father.

The abuse that began when Jeni was only a baby is unimaginable to most. It was physically, psychologically and emotionally sadistic and never-ending. The fact she survived may be called a miracle by some – but the reality is, it is testament to the extraordinary strength of Jeni’s mind.

What saved her was the process of dissociation – Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – a defence mechanism that saw Jeni create over 2500 separate personalities, or alters, who protected her as best they could from the trauma. This army of alters included four-year-old Symphony, teenage motorcycle-loving Muscles, elegant Linda, forthright Judas and eight-year-old Ricky.

With her army, the support of her psychiatrist Dr George Blair-West, and a police officer’s belief in her, Jeni fought to create a life for herself and bring her father to justice. In a history-making ruling, Jeni’s alters were empowered to give evidence in court. In speaking out, Jeni’s courage would see many understand MPD for the first time.

THE GIRL IN THE GREEN DRESS is an unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. This is a unique and profoundly important book as it is not only a story of survival, it also includes incredible insight from Dr George Blair-West, Jeni’s psychiatrist and an expert in DID.

My View:
What an incredible read! Reading with one hand over your eyes…blocking out the horrific parts (dont worry you are given written notice of “triggers ahead”), this book is … amazing! The strength, the resilience, the power that Jeni now has in her life is such a contrast to that she had as a child.

I am calling this the best read of the year; powerful, evocative, sensitively written… a book that sheds the light on Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder – the coping mechanism Jeni employed to protect herself from the atrocities she faced. If you get the opportunity watch this video. Hear Jeni and some of her “alters” speaks. So glad you made it through Jeni.

Review: So You Want to Live Younger Longer? – Dr Norman Swan

So You Want to Live Younger Longer?

Dr Norman Swan

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733648342

RRP $34.99

Description:

The ultimate guide on what you can do at any age to stay young and healthy longer, from Australia’s trusted, straight-talking doctor and broadcaster, Dr Norman Swan, bestselling author of So You Think You Know What’s Good for You?

Many of us dream of staying as young as possible as long as possible whether we’re in our 30s, 40s, 70s or even 80s, and there’s a growing Conga line of products and people offering you just that dream. The dilemma is, which of the pills, mental and physical exercise programs, diets and superfoods actually work? Some of them do help to keep us young, healthy and living longer, others may work when the researchers get the potions right and some are a downright waste of money. So how do you know what and who to trust? That’s the journey that Dr Norman Swan is going to take you on in So You Want to Live Younger Longer?

Deeply researched and written with his trademark wit, common sense and accessibility, Norman brings together what’s known, not known, hopeful but not harmful and harmful and not hopeful, summarised with quick takeaway messages backed up by the science and evidence. No matter what your age, So You Want to Live Younger Longer? gives you the information you need to make your own choices without wasting your time and money or even missing a nice dinner because you might be on a diet that is getting you nowhere.

Norman disentangles our ‘Book of Life’ – the genes we’re born with and what we subject them to later on – and shows that in the search for youth, genes matter much less than you’d think for most of us. In other words, we can overwrite our personal Book of Life and Norman’s book will help you do it.

We can live younger, longer – at any age – we’ve just got to know what to do.

My View:

An excellent, informative, well written, engaging read. So much science based, researched information presented with wit and humour. This is an author I would love to hear speak in person…his ability to connect with the reader/the room is amazing.

A great read.

Review: Here be Leviathans – Chris Flynn

Here be Leviathans

Chris Flynn

University of Queensland Press

ISBN:9780702262777

Description:

A collection of funny, brilliant, boundary-pushing stories from the bestselling author of Mammoth. A grizzly bear goes on the run after eating a teenager. A hotel room participates in an unlikely conception. A genetically altered platypus colony puts on an art show. A sabretooth tiger falls for the new addition to his theme park. An airline seat laments its last useful day. A Shakespearean monkey test pilot launches into space. The stories in Here Be Leviathans take us from the storm drains under Las Vegas to the Alaskan wilderness; the rainforests of Queensland to the Chilean coastline. Narrated in Chris Flynn’s unique and hilarious style by animals, places, objects and even the (very) odd human, these short fictions push the boundaries of the form by examining human behaviour from the perspective of the outsider. 

My View:

What an impressive range of styles, voices and ideas this collection showcases, I could read more. There is something here for everyone to enjoy but a couple of these stories are standouts for me; the first, which gives a brilliant, witty insight into the thinking of a grizzly bear – hilarious. But my very favourite was the last, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, set in the underground sewers and the sky scrapers of Las Vegas. A story that illustrates how hope, joy and love can be found anywhere. Loved this one.

PS I was really fortunate to be gifted a set of “chapter cards” with brilliant artworks on the front and extracts of each chapters on the back. What a fabulous idea!

5 star read!

Review: The Pachinko Parlour – Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

The Pachinko Parlour

Elisa Shua Dusapin

Translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922585172

Description:

From the author of Winter in Sokcho, which won the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

The days are beginning to draw in. The sky is dark by seven in the evening. I lie on the floor and gaze out of the window. Women’s calves, men’s shoes, heels trodden down by the weight of bodies borne for too long.

It is summer in Tokyo. Claire finds herself dividing her time between tutoring twelve-year-old Mieko in an apartment in an abandoned hotel and lying on the floor at her grandparents: daydreaming, playing Tetris, and listening to the sounds from the street above. The heat rises; the days slip by.

The plan is for Claire to visit Korea with her grandparents. They fled the civil war there over fifty years ago, along with thousands of others, and haven’t been back since. When they first arrived in Japan, they opened Shiny, a pachinko parlour. Shiny is still open, drawing people in with its bright, flashing lights and promises of good fortune. And as Mieko and Claire gradually bond, their tender relationship growing, Mieko’s determination to visit the pachinko parlour builds.

The Pachinko Parlour is a nuanced and beguiling exploration of identity and otherness, unspoken histories, and the loneliness you can feel within a family. Crisp and enigmatic, Shua Dusapin’s writing glows with intelligence.

My View:

Another beautifully written book which has been excellently translated, a joy to read.

Shua Dusapin writes with intelligence and with a deep understanding of what it is to be human. Her writing evocatively reflects on aging, culture, belonging … The writing has a sense of innocence that is peaceful yet confident; vignettes of the ordinary that are so revealing.

Review – Daisy Darker – Alice Feeney

Daisy Darker

Alice Feeney

Macmillan

ISBN:9781529089813

Description:

The New York Times bestselling Queen of Twists returns…with a family reunion that leads to murder.

After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.

My View:

Love the cover art. Love the writing; evocative, some really beautiful prose, full of surprising revelations.

This is a very cleverly plotted and written book; there are plenty of surprises, some reflections on the meaning of “family” and lots of exploration of family dynamics in general.

Daisy Darker pays homage to 2 well known narratives ( no spoilers see if you can pick them) this was a clever device, but for me it took a little of the gloss of the reveal away. If you like a “locked in” mystery, like a twisty plot, then this book is for you.

If you have read this what did you think?

I think its time I read her previous acclaimed book, Rock Paper Scissors.

Paella – The Fibre Fuelled Cookbook – Dr Will Bulsiewicz

The Fibre Fuelled Cookbook

Dr Will Bulsiewicz

Vermillion

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9781785044175

RRP $45

If you have been following along with my blog you will have realised how important I think gut health is for everyone. This book is another great resource on gut health, I hope you find it helpful.

“Saffron is a bulbous perennial plant in the iris family that blooms in the autumn. Harvest takes place over two weeks and the flowers are handpicked before dawn, before they open for the day. It requires more than six thousand flowers and over twelve hours of labour to create just 30 grams of saffron, hence the nickname “red gold.” In this recipe, the musky, piney saffron is complemented by the earthy, smoky paprika and garlicky sweetness. It’s a taste of heaven.” p261

9 Plant Points

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable stock

1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped

1 jarred roasted red pepper, chopped

1 red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 medium courgette, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 pinch saffron threads

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

220 g short-grain rice (Arborio, Japanese sushi rice, Bomba rice)

600 ml Biome Stock Unleashed (page 239) or vegetable stock

10 g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 lemon, sliced

1. In a paella pan or a large, shallow frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, roasted red pepper, and sweet pepper to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, until brown and reduced.

2. Add the courgette, garlic, tomato, saffron, paprika, and cayenne and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

3. Add the rice and stock and stir once to combine, then shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice and vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 22 to 25 minutes. Check for most of the liquid to be absorbed and the rice at the top to be nearly tender. If for some reason your rice is still not cooked, add 60 ml more water or stock and continue cooking (can also finish cooking in the oven; see Pro Tip).

4. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil, then place a tea towel over the lid to rest for 5 minutes (this allows the rice to finish steaming). Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon slices.

PRO TIP:

Once the rice is mixed in, resist the urge to stir it again in order to allow a crispy crust to form at the bottom, called a socarrat. Depending on the size of your pan or burners on the hob, you may need to finish this in the oven. Cover with foil, then finish in a 175°C oven, until the rice is cooked through.

Review: Legitimate Sexpectations – Katrina Marson

Legitimate Sexpectations : The Power of Sex Ed

Katrina Marson

Scribe

ISBN: 9781922585516

RRP $ 32.99

Description:

Can we promise future generations a life free of sexual violence, in which their sexual wellbeing will be protected? Is this a promise we can keep?

As a sexual offences prosecutor, Katrina Marson works for an institution that can only respond, one case at a time, to sexual violence once the damage is already done. During a decade of looking back, she kept returning to a single question: what could have been done to prevent this?

In 2019 she stepped out of the justice system to travel abroad on a Churchill Fellowship, where she witnessed first-hand the power of comprehensive relationships and sexuality education to safeguard sexual wellbeing and act as a protective factor against sexual violence. Combining her coalface experience in the criminal law with her international research on sex education, Marson’s perspective is unique, looking in two directions at once.

Legitimate Sexpectations exposes the limits of the criminal justice system and the fault lines in our society when it comes to sex, sexuality, and relationships. Through storytelling that moves between heartbreak and hope, Marson makes the case for a cultural shift towards valuing sexual wellbeing and preventing sexual violence in the first place. In doing so, she calls on us all to play our part to ensure that young people’s sexual experiences are not just free from violence, but far from violent.

My View:

A life changing book! A book I wish was around and being talked about when I was a child. Child you ask? YES! You are never to young to be empowered about your own safety and to be given permission and the language to talk about sexual abuse at whatever age, child/teenager/adult.

A well balanced, clear and rational discussion regarding “consent”.

Be warned there are triggers in this book – and yes it triggered so many things for me that even now as a 63 year I am still trying to deal with.

This book should be in the hands of every educator, politician, parent, library, resource centre, school…that’s right YOU SHOULD READ THIS

5 stars

The Trinity Overnight Oats – The Fibre Fuelled Cookbook – Dr Will Bulsiewicz

The Fibre Fuelled Cookbook

Dr Will Bulsiewicz

Vermillion

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9781785044175

RRP $45

If you have been following along with my blog you will have realised how important I think gut health is for everyone. This book is another great resource on gut health, I hope you find it helpful.

Chef Emeril Lagasse always spoke of the holy trinity of Cajun cuisine as celery, onions, and sweet peppers. Well, my holy trinity of spices is turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. I have been loving this combo in my morning coffee for years, and now it’s part of this overnight oats recipe. You can’t go wrong with spices!

FODMAP note: As a banana ripens, the FODMAP content increases while the resistant starch content decreases. That said, we need the banana to be soft and get mashed in this recipe. A third of

a banana per serving is generally tolerated on a low FODMAP diet. A third of a date is FODMAP friendly.” p61

4+ Plant Points

Serves 1

120 ml unsweetened plain almond milk

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1/3 date, finely chopped

1/3 ripe banana, mashed

50 g jumbo oats

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

Pinch salt

Supercharge it! (optional toppings):

1 tablespoon golden raisins

1 teaspoon chopped Granny Smith apple

2 tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts

Dash ground cinnamon

1. In a jar or small bowl with a lid, add the almond milk, chia seeds, date, and banana.

Stir with a spoon to combine.

2. Add the oats, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and stir to combine.

Cover with the lid and place in the fridge overnight, or until the oats have thickened

(about 6 hours).

3. In the morning, open the jar/bowl and top as desired with suggested toppings. If the oat

mixture is too thick, you can add a little more almond milk to your preference.

FF UNLEASHED:

If you are not following a low FODMAP approach, you can use 1 teaspoon maple syrup instead of the

date or 1 whole date per serving.

Guest Review: Verity – Colleen Hoover

Verity

Colleen Hoover

Sphere

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781408726600

RRP $32.99

Description:

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Rachel’s View:

In a stark departure from her run of popular young adult romance novels, Colleen Hoover has delivered a dark, tense thriller.

When a successful novelist who writes from the chilling perspective of the villain is involved in a terrible accident, struggling writer Lowen is brought in to finish the final contracted books. Staying in the house with the famous but now irrevocably changed Verity Crawford and her husband Jeremy, Lowen begins sifting through a room full of the author’s notes.

As she sets about outlining the new novels, she stumbles across something almost too horrible to read – but read she must. And as the pages unfold, Lowen is given a disturbing insight into what really happened surrounding the tragedies of the Crawford family.

Ill at ease from the dark words she has discovered, Lowen begins to question her own sanity as she sees things around the house that don’t add up.

With a last minute twist you’d never expect, Verity is a compelling page turner. Of course there are elements of the romance Colleen Hoover is so well known for, with a few of the common tropes thrown in for good measure. Still, it is an exciting and creepy read that’s easy to finish in a matter of hours.

But reader beware – if you’re a new mum like me, there are parts that will make your stomach turn!

Guest Review: The Brink – Holden Sheppard

The Brink

Holden Sheppard

Text Publishing

ISBN: 9781922458643

Description:

A group of school-leavers: free at last, ready to party, expectations high.

A remote island on the Western Australian coast wasn’t exactly the plan, but they’re not going to let that hold them back.

Leonardo, geeky, asthmatic, shy and prone to anxiety, has landed with them. He’s terrified—he’s definitely not part of this cool gang. Super high-achiever Kaiya is trying to forget her frustration with her drug-addicted sister as well as dealing with pressure from the popular girls to lose her virginity. Mason, footy jock with the physique to match, is coming to terms with his secret desire for his best mate, Jared. And Jared wants a week off from his relationship with Val so he can have sex with as many girls as possible.

But the party takes a dangerous turn when Val is drugged and a man is later found dead on the beach. Blame, fear, mistrust, coverups, power plays and dark secrets tear the group apart and expose the deadly tensions beneath the surface. And each teen is forced to confront demons that will lead them either to devastating tragedy or transformative triumph.

Whoever survives the week will never be the same again.

The Brink is a raw, powerful novel that pulls no punches in its authentic exploration of masculinity, sexuality, mental health, drug and alcohol use, relationships and sex. Holden Sheppard takes the teenage experience to the next level

Rachel’s View:

Holden Sheppard’s second novel, The Brink, perfectly captures the feelings of excitement, uncertainty and expectation that come with the end of high school. Mix these swirling teenage emotions with the euphoria of leavers, a remote and menacing location, and a splattering of secrets and it would be enough for a thrilling read – throw in a body on the beach, and things get explosive.

One thing is for sure, no one in this group will be the same again – that is, if they even make it home.

Holden Sheppard is a unique voice in the WA literary scene, creating in vivid detail the recognisable locations that local readers will really connect with. In the follow up to his award-winning debut, masculinity and sexuality are again key themes but this time explored through the heady mix of alcohol, drugs, and wild nights of leavers chaos, and the deadly tensions and power plays that lurk beneath the surface in a group of friends.

A raw and powerful read that really cuts deep, the tense mystery kept me turning the pages late into the night.