Wednesday 11 November 2020

Book Review: The Long Tail of Trauma: A Memoir

The Long Tail of Trauma: A Memoir
Elizabeth Wilcox


Publisher: Green Place Books
Publication date: 11th November 2020
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 268
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of Stephanie Barko Publicist
About the book
The Long Tail of Trauma covers the lives of five generations of the author’s maternal ancestors from 1904-2018, through Europe and America. The long tail refers to multigenerational family trauma that begins near Liverpool before World War I and continues through Operation Pied Piper and the PTSD era in America.

The author’s journey becomes an exploration into attachment and the legacy of maternal trauma on intergenerational mental health and relationships. Through documenting her forebears’ stories, author Elizabeth Wilcox gives us a greater understanding of what a mother must overcome to erase the epigenetic stain of early childhood trauma.
My review
Elizabeth Wilcox writes a memoir that at times reads like an historical  novel it is so full of atmosphere and sentiment.
I enjoyed the combination of writing styles that brought to life the story of Anna and Violet.
In the Long Tail of Trauma we follow 4 generations of mothers and daughters. Elizabeth explains, through her research, how trauma can be passed down through the generations.
The storyline is sourced from extensive research of Elizabeth's family history and uses some creativity concerning her ancestors thoughts and conversations. 
Dispersed between chapters of her great-grandmother's and grandmother's lives are chapters on her own life growing up with a mother with PTSD.
Elizabeth Wilcox has given many documentations to support her claims and I found her  memoir and that of the lives of her ancestors, Germans living in England during the outbreak of WWII to be both engaging and fascinating reading.

The Long Tail of Trauma is an interesting study on childhood trauma and its impact on mental health, autoimmune disease, depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

4/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Photo: Goodreads
Elizabeth Wilcox has worked as a journalist in England, Hong Kong, and the US. She has extensive experience both nationally and internationally as a newspaper columnist, radio presenter, CNBC television news producer, and web producer.

Her first book The Mom Economy (Berkley, 2003) was called “one of the best career books of 2003” by syndicated columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy. Her guest appearances include community and book groups, local and national radio programs, popular podcasts, and network television. Her work has been featured in ABC7 “All About Kids”, Bloomberg Radio, The Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Marketwatch, The Chicago Tribune, CNNfn, Parenting Magazine, Redbook and others.

Elizabeth Wilcox currently consults with educational organizations that promote social and emotional learning and trauma-informed practices for youth.

She lives with her family in Vermont. 

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Book Review: Come Home Ella by Chelsea Davies

Come Home Ella
Chelsea Davies
Illustrated by Lisa Coutts

Publisher: Empowering Resources 
Publication date: July 2020
Genre: Children's / Picture Book
Pages: 36
RRP: $17.00 AUD
Format read: Soft cover
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Come Home Ella is a children's picture book which light-heartedly follows the emotional journey of a family after their baby's early arrival. Told through the eyes of baby Ella's older sibling, it aims to educate children about premature babies and help families experiencing similar situations deal with the emotions involved.
My review
Come Home Ella is a heartfelt story from the point of view of a young child waiting to see their newborn sister Ella. Ella was born premmie and needs to stay in hospital.
Come home Ella goes through the different emotions that may be felt by a young child in this situation. Sadness at not being able to see the much anticipated new arrival, wariness after seeing a photo with all the tubes attached to the baby, anger as their mother leaves to go to the hospital everyday and then joy as they  are finally able to see and hold their baby sister.
Coping ideas are put into place with hug charts and calendar countdown.
Written through the eyes of a child Come Home Ella is simple and hopeful, giving just enough information for a young child to understand but not so much as to overwhelm.
I think this would be a valuable resource for any family undergoing the same situation.
Age: 2+years
5/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author

Chelsea is an emerging author and mother of three living in the picturesque Margaret River Region of Western Australia.  Forever gaining inspiration from her surroundings, Chelsea writes poetry and picture books to engage, empower and intrigue young minds. She aims to encourage children to understand and deal with emotions, and mental well-being, in a compelling, yet nurturing way.

When it’s time to put down the pen, Chelsea might be found practicing yoga, engrossed in a novel, trying her hand at arts and crafts, or enjoying sun, sand and surf with family and friends.

Chelsea describes creative writing as her ‘bliss’ and is excited to create a little magic of her own. Author facebook

About the illustrator

Lisa is a Melbourne based illustrator who has illustrated many books and items mostly in the children’s market thanks to her charming character based style, and because she is a bit of a kid at heart.

 She studied graphic design at Swinburne and has been a freelance illustrator since graduation.

 Lisa enjoys working in dry pastel for it’s light, soft texture and the colourful mess she can make. She also uses pencils and acrylic paints. With these she loves to create and draw characters and their worlds, whether real or imagined.

 Her favourite things in life inspire her illustrations. She is cat crazy and has two cheeky Devon Rexes called Coco and Elsa. She loves riding her bike especially long distances and up mountains. She also has a thing for striped clothing and often her characters are wearing something stripey just as she does. Oh, and she loves making and eating pancakes. Lisa's facebook


Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020


Monday 9 November 2020

Book Review: The Shearer's Wife by Fleur McDonald

The Shearer's Wife
Fleur McDonald


Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 3rd November 2020
Genre: Rural Fiction / Crime
Series: Detective Dave Burrows
Pages: 384
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
1980: Rose and Ian Kelly arrive in Barker for supplies before they begin shearing at Jacksonville Station, a couple of hundred kilometres out of town. Rose, heavily pregnant with their first babies, worries that despite Ian's impending fatherhood he remains a drifter who dreams of the open road.
2020: When the Australian Federal Police swoop unheralded into Barker and make a shocking arrest for possession of narcotics, Detective Dave Burrows is certain there is more to the story than meets the eye. 
2020: After many months of grief over her brother's illness and death, journalist Zara Ellison is finally ready to begin a new chapter of her life and make a commitment to her boyfriend, Senior Constable Jack Higgins. But when she's assigned to investigating the Barker arrest, Jack begins to believe that Zara is working against him.

It takes a series of unconnected incidents in Zara's digging to reveal an almost forgotten thread of mystery as to how these two events, forty years apart, could be connected
My review
The Shearer's Wife is a dual time line narration. The first is in 1980 when a heavily pregnant Rose Kelly arrives in Barker with her husband, Ian. They lead a nomadic life moving from one shearing job to the next.
In 2020 the AFP arrive in Barker and arrest a local. Dave is warned off the case but when it's one of his own town's people he knows he must help.
Through this story Fleur McDonald brings country South Australia straight into my home. I loved how welcoming, helpful and accepting the country people are, willing to help out perfect strangers. This is a feel good story.   
Rose and Ian are happy together living the nomadic life of a shearer but we learn how difficult this life would be with a family. McDonald also includes topical subjects of the time, such as the wide-comb dispute that had shearers  up in arms.
Through Dave and Kim Burrows we see the problems faced by country police and the fine line between policing an area and being friends with the locals. This also puts a strain on a marriage.   
McDonald includes the trauma of PTSD and how it's a difficult diagnosis, usually picked up by friends rather than the person suffering. PTSD can affect the sufferers relationships and everyday life if not treated. 

Both stories were interesting and I was equally invested, wondering how the two stories would tie in.
As the story evolved the tension ramped up. The plot was realistic with heart-stopping suspense and just when you think it's all over the tension mounts again.

The Shearer's Wife is a rivetting rural crime story, easy to read yet full of heart, mystery and suspense. Although part of a series it reads as a stand-alone!

Fleur McDonald writes two series featuring Det Dave Burrows. One is set in 1999-2000 with a younger Dave Burrows and the other is present day.
5/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo: Goodreads
Fleur McDonald has lived and worked on farms for much of her life. After growing up in the small town of Orroroo in South Australia, she went jillarooing, eventually co-owning an 8000-acre property in regional Western Australia.
Fleur likes to write about strong women overcoming adversity, drawing inspiration from her own experiences in rural Australia. She has two children, an energetic kelpie and a Jack Russell terrier.


Want to know more about Dave? This 32 page eBook available on Amazon is a great little introduction to this character!

The Farmer's Choice by Fleur McDonald
This short story features some background on a young Dave Burrows fresh out of Ag college and explains the situation behind him leaving his family and the farming life he loved so much.
We get to know Dave’s personality and what motivates him.
Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020

Friday 6 November 2020

Book Review: Soldiers by Tom Remiger

Tom Remiger 

Publisher: Text Publishing 
Publication date: 1st September 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction / War
Pages: 240
Format read: Paperback
Source: Won
About the book
Breen sometimes thought sourly that Tiger Jackson would have made a good fascist. He told unreliable stories, he liked power and admiration, and he had all three military virtues- self-belief, luck, and an eye for the main chance. Despite all this, Breen liked him. Somehow it was impossible not to.

After the death of Corporal Daniel Cousins in what is apparently a training accident, a young officer, Lieutenant Breen, becomes obsessed by the case. Was Cousins murdered by one of his own?
Breen's investigation, as well as his unanticipated love affair with a superior officer, threatens the unity of his comrades as they wait for the suffering to come in the Battle of Crete-one of the defining encounters of World War II.

My review
Opening in 1940, Soldiers follows a group of New Zealand soldiers as they are sent to England for training then to Egypt and Crete defending these areas against the ever advancing German army.
In this compassionate, yet fierce, story Tom Remiger puts emphasis on the different personalities of the soldiers and how they cope with the conditions and each other's company.
At the start of the book I was a little lost as the characters were at times called by their first name or last name or even a nickname. It seemed like their were more characters to keep track of than there actually were. However, as the story moves on the names all slot in and the story became easier to follow.
Remiger deftly describes the long tedious days of waiting and the terrible conditions the soldiers endured. His characters are real! They are at times not as brave as they would like to be. They get along and they fight. Sometimes they are best friends and at others they hate each other, begging for space.
We follow these characters as they change from men to soldiers.
Underlying this story of man and war  is a compassionate story of devotion as Lt Patrick Breen becomes aware of his feelings for Captain  Sinclair. Breen is a gentle soul although many of his fellow soldiers thought he had a wildness about him. He becomes obsessed with the accidental death of one of the soldiers in their company. This obsession soon leads to paranoia and he sees motive in many of his fellow soldiers.

Soldiers is a moving story and not like the usual WWII stories I read full of killing and bravado. Remiger has dug into the soul of his soldiers to reveal their true feelings and fears. When the fighting comes, some will rise to the occasion whilst others will fall.

About the author

Photo: Text Publishing
Tom Remiger is the name under which Tom McLean writes fiction. He is originally from Rotorua, New Zealand, but now lives in the UK, where he is completing a DPhil in literature at Oxford. His non-fiction and academic writing have been published in a number of journals and magazines. Soldiers won the 2019 Michael Gifkins Prize.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Book Review: Lucky's by Andrew Pippos

Andrew Pippos 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 27th October 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Family Saga 
Pages: 368
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format read: Uncorrected paperback 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book 
Lucky's is a story of family.

It is also about a man called Lucky.
His restaurant chain.
A fire that changed everything.
A New Yorker article which might save a career.
The mystery of a missing father.
An impostor who got the girl.
An unthinkable tragedy.
A roll of the dice.
And a story of love, lost, sought and won again, (at last).
My review
Lucky's is an ode to the old Greek cafe style restaurants with Andrew Pippos drawing inspiration from his own upbringing.
Jumping back and forward in time Pippos shows us a post war Sydney when many migrants came to Australia to start a new life, opening cafes and expecting their children to work in the cafe.  Here the story follows Achilles Asproyerakas who played an important role in Lucky's restaurants as his cafe Achillion was the prototype for the Lucky's chain.
Then in 2002 we meet Emily on the cusp of a trip from England to Sydney, Australia, to boost her career in journalism, her husband tells her he is in love with another woman. Emily is drawn to Lucky by a painting her father gave her of a Lucky's franchise cafe. Emily hopes to write a career saving story on the Lucky's franchise rise and demise.
Emily and Lucky have many parallels in their lives. Tragedy has had a major involvement in both their lives. Lucky's name was ironic, and this wasn't lost on him, as tragedy after tragedy befell him. His character was well drawn and it was easy to connect and sympathise with him. I eagerly followed Emily's and Lucky's stories looking forward to Emily's big scoop and the outcome of Lucky's appearance on Wheel of Fortune with the hope of opening a new cafe. However the story fell short with too many time changes. Would it have been more engaging if it was in chronological order? I'm not sure.
Lucky's is a tragic tale, tragicomedy without the laughs. If they were there I missed them.
Pippos' writing is exceptional; nostalgic, tragic and palpable. 
3/5 ⭐⭐⭐
About the author

Andrew Pippos spent part of his childhood getting underfoot in his family's Greek-Australian cafĂ©. When he grew up, he worked in newspapers and taught in universities. This is his first novel, and it packs in everything he knows about growing up in a noisy, complicated, loving family. He lives in Sydney. 
Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20