Guest Review: My Polar Dream – Jade Hameister

My Polar Dream

My Polar Dream

Jade Hameister

Pan Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781760554774

 

Description:

Fourteen-year-old Jade Hameister had a dream: to complete the Polar Hat Trick.

In 2016, she skied to the North Pole.

In 2017, she completed the Greenland Crossing.

In 2018, she arrived at the South Pole.

This is the story of an adventurer who never gave up – who set herself incredible challenges beyond her years and experience. An adventurer who endured extremes of cold and blizzards; tackled treacherous terrain where one wrong step could be fatal; struggled through sastrugi, ice rubble and emotional lows to achieve an extraordinary goal.

Along the way, she made a sandwich for online trolls, inspired young people, and made international headlines.

At sixteen, Jade Hameister became the youngest person in history to complete the Polar Hat Trick.

Jade is:

*The youngest person to ski from the coast of Antarctica to South Pole unsupported and unassisted

* The first Australian woman in history to ski coast to Pole unsupported and unassisted

* The first woman to set a new route to the South Pole

* The youngest to ski to both Poles

* The youngest to complete the Polar Hat Trick.

 

Brenda’s Review:

What an amazing, inspirational young woman Jade Hameister is! Over a period of three years she completed three goals so achieve the Polar Hat-Trick. In doing so, she became the first in many of her endeavours. Her final journey, in Antarctica to finish at the South Pole, was over late 2017 into 2018 and was the most grueling but not once did she contemplate giving up. The support of her Dad and the other people of the team with her helped her through the worst.

Each trek was unassisted and unsupported, which meant no outside help whatsoever once the journey started. The thrill of forging a new path through the snow and ice to the South Pole meant the hard work and extreme temperatures; the dangers of a hidden crevasse on the mind constantly; the storms and blizzards which meant losing time when the danger was too intense – were all worth it. Jade’s satellite calls to her Mum and brother back in Melbourne, Australia each night were a lifeline as well.

Now she’s trying to settle back into “normal” life with schooling as her main priority. She’s sixteen years of age and has done more in the last three years of her life than most people would ever do. I wonder what she will do next? Highly recommended. 5 stars!

With thanks to Pan Macmillan AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Unnatural Causes – Dr Richard Shepherd

Unnatural Causes

Unnatural Causes

Dr Richard Shepherd

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781405923545

RRP $34.99

 

Description:

A gripping memoir by one of the UK’s most prominent and experienced pathologists. His work has turned cases on their heads and put murderers behind bars. But his obsession with trying to learn what the dead are telling us began in medical school during his first autopsy. Holding the heart of the patient in his hands, he thought of his late mother, who’d died young from coronary heart disease. He wanted to help the living by learning about death. And, in the case of his criminal work, he wanted to see justice.

 

Intelligent, insightful, chilling – sometimes bizarre – and always unputdownable.

 

Unnatural Causes is the true crime book of the year from an expert who’s opening his records and sharing his casebook for the first time.

 

 

My View:

For a pathologist this author makes a wonderful wordsmith!

 

This is an intriguing narrative, a creative memoir that discusses the changes in society and attitudes to policing, medicine and science in an easy to read format that is engaging and illuminating. The discussion around autopsies, mass shootings/acts of terror and suspicious deaths are handled sensitively and considerately, the writer’s humanness shines through these sections of the book.

 

The author is open, honest and empathetic.  This is a sensitively and intelligently written book that will appeal to lovers of memoir, history, true crime and social science.

 

 

 

Fathers Day Is Just Round the Corner, it’s Friday Freebie Time Again.

On the 2nd of September this year we celebrate Fathers Day in Australia.  It is a day for people to show their appreciation for fathers and father figures.  Is there a special person in your life that you know would appreciate a story of  “a grandson’s story of an ordinary man’s war…. an incredible tale of survival and the indomitable Aussie spirit”?

I have 2 copies of this heroic narrative to give away. It easy to enter, you must be an Australian resident and in the comments section on this post tell me the last book by Hachette you read or that want to read. Entries close on the 24th of August 2018.   https://www.hachette.com.au/hachette-australia/

 

 

***Winners have been notified** Books will be posted this week.

The BullDog Track

The Bulldog Track

Peter Phelps

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733639777

 

This is the story of Tom Phelps and the ‘other Kokoda Track’. Seventy-five years later, Tom’s grandson, award-winning actor and writer Peter Phelps, is sharing this inspiring tale of resilience and survival.

March 1942: The world is at war. Too old to fight and with jobs scarce at home, Tom Phelps found work as a carpenter in the goldfields of the New Guinea Highlands. No one expected the Japanese to attack in the Pacific. But they did.

Tom and his mates weren’t going to hang around and wait to be killed. With escape routes bombed by the Japanese, their only option was to try to reach safety by foot, through some of the most rugged terrain on Earth – the Bulldog Track.

Back home in Sydney, Rose Phelps, their son, George, and three daughters, Joy, Shirley and Ann, waited for news of Tom’s fate. George watched the horrors of war unfold on newsreels knowing his dad was ‘over there’.

Travelling by foot, raft, canoe, schooner, train, luck and courage, Tom Phelps, half-starved and suffering malaria, would eventually make it home. His stories of New Guinea would lead his son and grandson to their own experiences with the country.

The Bulldog Track is a grandson’s story of an ordinary man’s war. It is an incredible tale of survival and the indomitable Aussie spirit.

Review – Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail – Wil Patterson

Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail by Wil Paterson cover art

Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail

Wil Patterson

Finch Publishing

ISBN: 9780648226741

 

Description:

‘Wil’s honesty really had me gripped and his description of his first night in jail is something I won’t forget.’ – Emily Webb, crime author and podcast host of ‘Australian True Crime’.

 

Wil Patterson was your everyday working husband and father, trying to keep up with the latest car, house and toys for his family. Always one to make light of things, he nevertheless became increasingly desperate about how he was going to pay his bills. One day while at work at his insurance job, he came across a large cheque that was addressed to someone who shared his name. The temptation was too great and soon enough Wil found himself down at the bank. After swearing to himself, ‘never again’, it wasn’t too long before a similar situation arose and Wil could not resist.

 

Well, no crime goes unpunished and Wil was eventually caught and charged and, to his horror, sentenced to 3 years’ prison time. Mr Ordinary Goes to Jail is Wil’s account of his time in a contemporary Victorian prison, the unusual characters he met, the often hilarious and terrifying situations he found himself in, and the ways in which he comes to terms with his past and forges a new future.

 

This is for anybody who has ever wondered, ‘What is it really like inside?’ or ever speculated how they might cope if they were in the same situation. It also details the reactions of Wil’s family and friends and examines the steps Wil had to take to be accepted back into his family and society.

 

 

My View:

One upon a time, many years and career changes a go, I had a part time job – social worker for visits time at a low security prison. I was filled with the same trepidation that Will experienced for his first night at prison.  I knew no-one else at the prison, I didn’t know how any of the prison systems worked (I had assumed I would have a meeting with someone on staff before I started work but that didn’t happen). I was a little concerned. The stereotypes of prisoners in crime fiction and film and TV shows were almost enough to put me off- but I was studying and thought I wanted this experience on my resume.

 

So Sunday – visits are generally on a Sunday, I made my way to the local prison. I didn’t even know how to enter the place and consequently drove down a road I shouldn’t have and was quickly escorted to the main entrance by a patrol of guards.

 

My concerns must have been obvious – one of the guards on duty that day took me to one side and said “They (prisoners) are just ordinary people. Think of the street you live in – you don’t know anything about those people, they could have a record…treat inmates like people.” But then suggested a few sensible precautions… and with that piece of worldly advice I started work, mostly I assisted prison visitors to fill out forms and allay their fears (most hadn’t been in a prison before either and shared many of my concerns) – a calm visitor makes for a good visit day.

 

I didn’t work there very long but that’s another story.

 

So I understood a little of Wil’s trepidation. It’s about expectations. And hoping most of them don’t come true.

 

I enjoyed this honest, creative memoir /coming of age/humorous (mostly) reflection on Wil’s time in jail. He highlights some flaws in the judicial system, reflects on his own past, his crime and accepts responsibility for his actions.  He doesn’t allow himself to be defined by the actions that landed him in jail. I am pleased he has found a way to reconnect with his family and start a meaningful life.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills – Patrick Rogers

The Green Unknown

The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills
Patrick Rogers
Westland
ASIN: B0759PFF28

 

Description:
The Green Unknown is about walking, without a map or a plan, across the Khasi Hills in the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya—a place of jungle canyons and thousand-foot waterfalls, where it rains more than any other inhabited place in the world, where each village has its own dialect or even its own language, and where the people grow living bridges from the roots of trees. The book is an attempt to express what it’s like trying to explore, mile by mile, village by village, valley by valley, a place that’s beautiful, complex, and fascinating, but most of all, unique.

My View:
This is a book that will appeal to travellers and readers alike. Arm chair travelling is one of my favourite past times and Patrick Rogers has taken me on a journey that has filled me with awe. This is a very personal account of Patrick’s travels as he explores remote, tropical jungles searching for evidence of living tree bridges.

Written with passion, humour and respect for the landscapes that he explores (both societal and physical), you will love the frizzon of excitement you will get when accompanying Patrick on his adventures.

Wishing you safe travels Patrick.

Post Script: The White Book – Han Kang

The White Book

The White Book

Han Kang

Translated by Deborah Smith

Allen & Unwin Australia

Portobello Books

ISBN: 9781846276293

 

Description:

From the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian

 

Writing while on a residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. A fragmented exploration of white things – the swaddling bands that were also her shroud, the breast milk she did not live to drink, the blank page on which the narrator herself attempts to reconstruct the story – unfolds in a powerfully poetic distillation.

 

As she walks the unfamiliar, snow-streaked streets, lined by buildings formerly obliterated in the Second World War, their identities blur and overlap as the narrator wonders, ‘Can I give this life to you?’. The White Book is a book like no other. It is a meditation on a colour, on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

 

This is both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang.

 

 

My View:

Experimental in presentation and design, economically written, no words wasted, emotions captured seemingly effortlessly, this is a stunning read, an emotional read.

 

Poignant beautiful prose – so personal, like reading someone else’s diary, someone who has a heart full of sadness (I hope that is not the reality, I hope that is just my imagination).

 

Post Script: The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Heather Morris

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760403171

 

Description:

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tetovierer – the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz- Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.

Extraordinary – moving, confronting and uplifting… a story about the extremes of human behaviour: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I recommend it unreservedly’—GRAEME SIMSION

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz has the quality of a dark fairy-tale. It is both simple and epic, shot through with compassion and love… Everyone should read it’—HUGH RIMINTON

 

An extraordinary story of a single and singular life and its great love’—ASHLEY HAY

 

 

My View:

How can a book be chilling yet so beautiful simultaneously? Be so horrific yet speak of never ending love on the same page? Be so confronting yet engage and enthral?

 

A book of some many contrasts, such pain and yet there is so much love on these pages, this is perhaps the best creative memoir you will read. There would not be many people who do not already know of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, but do you know of the stories of survival, of friendship, of courage, of love, of doing “what I can to survive” (p.33)? This is a remarkable narrative told with brutal tenderness; a view through a lens of love.

 

This has already garnered a place in my best reads of 2018, I am sure it will soon be on your best read list too.