Review: I’m Staying At Richard’s – Bernadette Agius

I’m Staying at Richard’s: Raising the Exceptional Son I Never Expected
Bernadette Agius
Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501174568

 

Description:
This inspiring, heartfelt, and powerful memoir by a mother of a child with Down syndrome explores the incredible blessings and challenges of raising a child with disabilities.

When Bernadette Agius—an ambitious career-focused woman—became pregnant, she imagined her unborn child attending the best schools and dazzling everyone with his impressive wit, charm, and intelligence. But when the doctors placed her baby boy in her arms and told Bernadette he had Down syndrome, those dreams instantly disappeared.

While her first impulse was to fight against this new reality, she soon found the strength to become the champion her son, Richard, would need and deserved. With the help of her husband and a newfound village of professionals, Bernadette forged a new life, discovering along the way that everyone has a different version of normal. Ultimately Richard, now thirty, was able to defy expectation and become an independent adult.

Grounded in love, offering a message of hope, and told with humor and honesty, I’m Staying at Richard’s shines a light on the fierce, unwavering love of a mother for her son.

 

My View:
This is a very powerful story of unconditional love. Reading this memoir felt a lot like stepping into somebody else’s shoes and for that insight I am grateful.

If you want a powerful, heartening, optimistic and joyful (mostly) story about finding your path and yourself when life throws the totally unexpected at you, read this poignant story.

Review: Phosphorescence – Julia Baird

Phosphorescence
Julia Baird
Harper Collins Australia
Fourth Estate
ISBN: 9781460710890

Description:
A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.

Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them?

And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we’re overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most – finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?

Absorbing, achingly beautiful, inspiring and deeply moving, Julia Baird has written exactly the book we need for these times.

My View:

A deeply personal yet universal message of optimism and self-reflection on what is important in our busy modern lives. Trauma is something that the author has experienced first-hand – loss, and her recent health issues have awakened a desire to reconnect with her community and nature; the beach, swimming, the comradery of her fellow swimmers, those enjoying a coffee together afterwards, chatting…the connection of a shared experience and her personal mission to explore what brings her awe and joy.

Awe and joy – what a wonderful state to be in and what sublime timing – in this world of Corona Virus pandemic never has the power of awe been more necessary. Julia Baird is in awe of the natural phenomena, phosphorescence. Have you ever experienced/observed it it? “Living Light…glow worms, ghost mushrooms, fireflies, flashlight fish, vampire squid…glowing missionaries of wonder, emissaries of awe.”
(prelude) What do you find awe inspiring?

Phosphorescence, discover this read and reignite your own passion and joy of life.

 

PS I love the cover art.

 

 

Review: The Banksia Bay Beach Shack – Sandie Docker

The Banksia Bay Beach Shack
Sandie Docker
Penguin Random House
Michael Joseph
ISBN: 9781760890353
RRP $32.99

Description:
A year is a long time in the memory of a small town. Stories get twisted, truths become warped, history is rewritten.

MYSTERIES

When Laura discovers an old photo of her grandmother, Lillian, with an intriguing inscription on the back, she heads to the sleepy seaside town of Banksia Bay to learn the truth of Lillian’s past. But when she arrives, Laura finds a community where everyone seems to be hiding something.

SECRETS

Virginia, owner of the iconic Beach Shack café, has kept her past buried for sixty years. As Laura slowly uncovers the tragic fragments of that summer so long ago, Virginia must decide whether to hold on to her secrets or set the truth free.

LIES

Young Gigi and Lily come from different worlds but forge an unbreakable bond – the ‘Sisters of Summer’. But in 1961 a chain of events is set off that reaches far into the future. One lie told. One lie to set someone free. One lie that changes the course of so many lives.

Welcome to the Banksia Bay Beach Shack, where first love is found and last chances are taken.

A moving and heartfelt story by the bestselling author of The Kookaburra Creek Café and The Cottage At Rosella Cove.

Praise for Sandie Docker:
‘Docker soars from the absolute heart’ Australian Women’s Weekly

‘The best of the best of heart-wrenching yarns.’ Woman’s Day

 

My View:
A tender, bittersweet dual time lined narrative that is a big chunk of mystery with a dash romance, that subtlety puts the spotlight on sexism, misogyny and racism in the 60’s whilst it considers if some secrets really are worth revealing.

It is interesting to step back in time to the small coastal town of Banksia Bay and examine the lifestyles and life choices of some of its inhabitants and the impact those choices made in their lives sixty years later from this distance. Have we progressed? Have we changed very much? I think some of the issues spotlighted have just been dressed in contemporary clothes.

Sandie Docker paints with a vibrant palette; her small-town settings are warm, inviting and picturesque, I could clearly envisage the beach, the surf, the scent of Australian summer. Her characters are finely drawn; you will recognise features and mannerisms of people you may know. The way this small community supports each other is times of adversity will warm your heart.

A delightful, bittersweet read.

Review: Wild Fearless Chests – Mandy Beaumont

Wild Fearless Chests
Mandy Beaumont
Hachette Australia
ISBN: 9780733643033
RRP $ 28.99

Description:
She is the explosion, the clamour, the thunder. She is the beat, the rage. She is every piece of violence imagined on the skin. She is the near miss. She is the woman you once were, the woman you could be, the woman you are. She is a triumph of our shared history, is every one of you, is your wild and screaming voice on street corners, is the madwoman you fear you may become. She loves you.
As women’s voices begin to rise together, Mandy Beaumont’s brutal and uncompromising stories are a compelling reminder of the ways in which women have fallen, been dismissed, hurt, hated and loved from afar.
These are the stories we have always known, have always heard about and are perhaps just short moments away from. They are yours, ours, mine. They are booming anger. They are wild love. They are the distorted and the decided, the imagined and the wanted. They are the shaking ground beneath our feet. A powerful call to arms. They compel us to stand tall. To break free. To defy the gaze. To claim our space.
Wild, Fearless Chests is the sound of a certain revolution.

‘”Drowning in Thick Air” is shocking … It is not like anything I have read in recent years and takes me to a place I have never been in my life or imagination or in fiction.’ Frank Moorhouse

My View:
This was an interesting read – a mixed bag of subject matter/themes, a collection of short stories is hard to review as a body of work, but in this collection you will find some stories that will infuriate you – because of the unfairness, the prejudice, the underserved attitudes of entitlement/privilege. Some stories will break your heart for many of the same reasons. Some will raise a smile, albeit generally a small one, some will have you in tears of frustration and sadness. Occasionally you will find a story that has you cheering form the sidelines.

Altogether this is a powerful, emotional, challenging, confronting, raw and often, brutal read. I am sure there is something here that will make you think.

Review: The M Word – Dr Ginni Mansberg

The M Word
How to Thrive in Menopause
Dr Ginni Mansberg
Murdoch Books
ISBN: 9781760524876
RRP $32.99

Description:
A handbook for understanding, embracing and (even) enjoying the rite of passage that is peri-menopause and menopause; outlines the experience, the medical science, treatment options and home remedies; written by a practicing GP and media doctor who has just turned 50 herself.
Night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, itchy skin, low libido, painful sex … Ninety per cent of women experience these symptoms some time between the ages of 40 and 60.
Menopause and perimenopause (the hormonal rollercoaster years leading up to a woman’s last period) are among our last taboo subjects. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – once widely prescribed as the magical secret of youth – has been shunned by women and their doctors for two decades. Dr Ginni Mansberg, one of Australia’s most trusted health and wellbeing experts, is here to work through the evidence and bust the taboos out of the water. The M Word is all about you and your choices. Are you being offered the best solutions for your menopause issues? Because there are great solutions to help you thrive in this new stage of life.

Author bio:
Dr Ginni Mansberg has been a GP for nearly 30 years, specialising in women’s and children’s health. She is a sought-after speaker and an authority on everything from sleep to wellness, life balance to beating stress. Dr Ginni is host of SBS’s eight-part show Medicine or Myth? and Foxtel’s Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, as well as the resident GP on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. She is mother to a blended family of six children and lives and works in Sydney. drginni.com.au (https://www.murdochbooks.com.au/browse/books/health-fitness/health-fitness-1/The-M-Word-Dr-Ginni-Mansberg-9781760524876)

 

My View:
“Menopause is a first world problem” said one female GP that I will l never go back to again. I was at my local doctors’ surgery for something inconsequential and unmemorable…maybe a check-up…and I asked my GP “what can I expect from menopause? How will it affect me? How will I know I am in menopause (silly me – I now realise that this question is obsolete – you WILL know) 😊

I cannot understand this reaction.

Menopause is not often spoken about, why? Surely information/knowledge is power? Dr Ginni Mansberg in her book The M Word – How to Thrive in Menopause – has undone all the harm my ex GP exacted. This book is full of really helpful information in a language that is to digest, that empowers you to take control of your own health and I highly recommend it.

Dr Mansberg: “This is a book that is all about you and your choices.
I have written a book to give you access to the best information we have available today; to answer as many questions as possible, to give you agency over your menopause journey, including the options of HRT. I am not saying you have to take it: I have covered the lifestyle, mind-based, complementary and home remedies out there and a whole lot else, too. Many of these have terrific evidence, and others have a good amount of anecdotal evidence. Some are shockers.” (p.5)

A book for all adults to read.

Read, absorb, take agency of your own health.

 

Review: Beautiful Eggs – Alice Lindstrom

 

Beautiful Eggs
Illustrated by Alice Lindstrom
Scribble
ISBN: 9781925849783
RRP $16.99

Description:
Eggs decorated with leaves, lace, or even string.

Wrap them up in a cloth and dip them into colourful dye.

Unwrap for a beautiful surprise.

Decorated eggs are found all over the world in many different countries. They are a wonderful celebration of family, culture, and tradition.

Complete with a stencil incorporated into the design, this book will encourage children to create their own beautiful eggs.

A large-format board book for Easter that celebrates traditions of egg-decorating from around the world with exquisite cut-paper illustrations.

My View:
This book is a great resource for teachers, parents and care givers and is much better treat for your pre-schooler than chocolates at Easter 😊. This board book is easy for little hands to hold and use, the bright, colourful designs are mesmerising… and the narrative is a simple and engaging way to introduce your little ones to the tradition of egg decorating – the book provides examples from around the world.

And what I love best (after the fact this is a perfect Easter gift) is the template at the back that allows your child to draw their own eggs and colour, paint, stamp, glue and decorate to their hearts content. Within minutes of showing this to my grandson we were drawing eggs and gathering up crayons to start decorating. A book that entertains and encourages creativity – what a great find! Published today – check it out.

Review: The Good Turn – Dervla McTiernan

The Good Turn
Cormac Reilly #3
Dervla McTiernan
HarperCollins Australia
ISBN: 9781460756799

Description:
The unputdownable new novel from the bestselling author of The Ruin and The Scholar. Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.

For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

 

My View:
Faultless, brilliant, tense, complex…this book lives up to all the hype!

This, the third book in the Cormac Reilly series, is an outstanding, read in one sitting type of read!

I don’t know what else I can add to this review that you wouldn’t have already seen/read/heard somewhere else before. This is intricate story of corruption, of love and of vice and fortitude.

This book has definitely secured a place on my “Best reads of 2020” list. Do yourself a favour and immerse yourself in this series, you won’t regret it.