Autism TBR Pile Review: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder, by Sarah Kurchak

52239724. sx318 sy475
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 22nd 2020
by Douglas McIntyre
ISBN:1771622466 (ISBN13: 9781771622462)

Sarah Kurchak is autistic. She hasn’t let that get in the way of pursuing her dream to become a writer, or to find love, but she has let it get in the way of being in the same room with someone chewing food loudly, and of cleaning her bathroom sink. In I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder, Kurchak examines the Byzantine steps she took to become “an autistic success story,” how the process almost ruined her life and how she is now trying to recover.

Growing up undiagnosed in small-town Ontario in the eighties and nineties, Kurchak realized early that she was somehow different from her peers. She discovered an effective strategy to fend off bullying: she consciously altered nearly everything about herself—from her personality to her body language. She forced herself to wear the denim jeans that felt like being enclosed in a sandpaper iron maiden. Every day, she dragged herself through the door with an elevated pulse and a churning stomach, nearly crumbling under the effort of the performance. By the time she was finally diagnosed with autism at twenty-seven, she struggled with depression and anxiety largely caused by the same strategy she had mastered precisely. She came to wonder, were all those years of intensely pretending to be someone else really worth it?

Tackling everything from autism parenting culture to love, sex, alcohol, obsessions and professional pillow fighting, Kurchak’s enlightening memoir challenges stereotypes and preconceptions about autism and considers what might really make the lives of autistic people healthier, happier and more fulfilling. 

Continue reading “Autism TBR Pile Review: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder, by Sarah Kurchak”

TBR Pile Review: Happy Fat, by Sofie Hagen

44286091. sy475
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by Fourth Estate
ISBN13: 9780008293871

‘I am a fat person and I love my body. I feel lucky to be able to say that – it has taken a lot of work and a lot of time. I want to tell you what I have learned and how I got here.’

In Happy Fat, comedian Sofie Hagen shares how she removed fatphobic influences from her daily life and found self-acceptance in a world where judgement and discrimination are rife.

From shame and sex to airplane seats, love and getting stuck in public toilets, Sofie provides practical tips for readers – drawing wisdom from other Fat Liberation champions along the way.

Part memoir, part social commentary, Happy Fat is a funny, angry and impassioned look at how taking up space in a culture that is desperate to reduce you can be radical, emboldening and life-changing.


My Review

I ordered myself this book last year when it was published. I’ve just had the time to read it, and I read it fairly quickly. The early chapters made me cry because they covered some very distressing topics, and the later chapters have information that I already knew from reading Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon and The F**k It Diet by Caroline Dooner. While those books are focused on the diet industry, this book is more biography and encouragement to self-love. I found the writing moving and amusing by turns. I enjoyed the inserted interviews and the illustrations. It’s a good introduction to the fat liberation movement.

Review: In Black and White, by Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra Wilson was a teenager when her dear family friend Ayo was stabbed on his way home from football. Ayo’s death changed Alexandra. His death compelled her to enter the legal profession to search for answers.
As a junior criminal and family law barrister she finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. A world in which barristers sigh with relief at the retirement of a racist judge: ‘I’ve got a black kid today and he would have had no hope.’

In her debut book In Black and White, Alexandra beautifully re-creates the tense court room scenes, the heart-breaking meetings with teenage clients and the moments of frustration and triumph that make up a young barrister’s life.

Alexandra speaks with raw honesty about her experience as a mixed-race woman from a non-traditional background in a profession that is sorely lacking in diverse representation. A justice system in which a disproportionately large number of black and mixed-race people are charged, convicted and sent to prison.

She shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin or someone you suspect is guilty, and the heart-breaking youth justice cases she has worked on. We see what it’s like for the teenagers coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers.

Her account of what she has witnessed as a young mixed-race barrister is in equal parts shocking, compelling, confounding and powerful. Alexandra’s story is unique in a profession still dominated by a section of society with little first-hand experience of the devastating impact of violent crime.

Endeavour • 13th August 2020
£16.99 • Hardback

Continue reading “Review: In Black and White, by Alexandra Wilson”

Review: In SatNav We Trust, by Jack Barrow

In SatNav We Trust – a search for meaning through the Historic Counties of England is a journey through ideas of science and belief, all the while searching for meaning and a bed for the night. Or was that the other way around?

On May 1st 2013 I set off from Oxford on the trip of a lifetime. It wasn’t a trip around the world or up the Himalayas, I set off to visit every one of England’s 39 historic counties. These are the counties that used to exist before all the boundary changes that chopped Yorkshire into bits, got rid of evocative sounding names such as Westmorland, and designated the big cities as metropolitan boroughs. I wanted to visit England as it used to be, although that’s not quite how it turned out.

In SatNav We Trust started out as a travelogue exploring all the usual suspects, spectacular landscapes, architectural or engineering wonders, historic towns with their cathedrals and castles. However, it soon developed into a journey through ideas and beliefs, an exploration of how the rational and the apparently irrational jostle for position in human experience. The book discusses our fundamental scientific understanding of the universe when, deep inside us, we might be as irrational as a box of frogs. This context, the exploration of England—the places stumbled across with no day to day plan, created the backdrop for these ideas.


ISBN: 978-1-5272-6030-6

Summary

The book takes the form of a journey through one English county a day. Rather than having a plan, other than a rough anticlockwise direction of travel, the trip was largely spontaneous. This unplanned nature is what drives the narrative, similar to the way a MacGuffin drives a story, and opens the possibility of stumbling across unintended experiences.

The journey is taken in a fifteen-year-old 4×4 referred to throughout as The Truck, along with a sat nav referred to as Kathy (actually the voice of Kathy Clugston from Radio 4). Rather than paying for hotels this was a camping trip to keep the costs down. The logistics of finding somewhere to camp each night provided further challenges. All of these inconveniences, and the unexpected solutions that followed, provided useful metaphors for concepts that arose in the philosophical exploration.

The result of this unplanned approach is that the story only covers the areas of the counties passed through. There are no descriptions of the obvious locations in each county because the journey simply didn’t pass that way. However, this means that there were unplanned encounters with places such as a village falling into the sea, the wonderfully mad Tees Transporter Bridge, or accidentally driving a speedboat with two drunk blokes without any consideration about how to get ashore.

Continue reading “Review: In SatNav We Trust, by Jack Barrow”

Review: The Twins of Auschwitz, by Eva Mozes Kor, with Lisa Rojany Bucciere

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.
Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

THE NAZIS SPARED THEIR LIVES BECAUSE THEY WERE TWINS.
While twins at Auschwitz were granted the ‘privileges’ of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele’s sadistic medical experiments. They were forced to fight daily for their own survival, and many died as a result of the experiments, or from the disease and hunger rife in the concentration camp.

Publishing for the first time in the UK in the year that marks the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation, The Twins of Auschwitz shares the inspirational story of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

Also included is an epilogue on Eva’s incredible recovery and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and worked toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.

PUBLISHED BY MONORAY
06/08/2020 | Paperback | £7.99

Continue reading “Review: The Twins of Auschwitz, by Eva Mozes Kor, with Lisa Rojany Bucciere”

Review: Operation Jihadi Bride, by John Carney with Clifford Thurlow

Blurb

Would you turn your back on a teenage Jihadi bride and her innocent children?

‘Jihad isn’t a war. It’s an objective. An aberration. If there are young women with children, lost boys… If they are trapped in that hell and we can get them out, don’t we have a duty to do so? Every person we can bring back is living proof that Islamic State is a failure.’

Ex-British Army Soldier, John Carney, ran a close protection operation in Iraq for oil executives when he was asked by the family of a young Dutch woman to extract her from the collapsing Islamic State in Syria. Hearing first-hand of the shocking living hell of tricked naive young girls, many from the West, trapped, sexually abused and enslaved by ISIS, he knew only one thing – he had to get them out.

Armed with AK-47s and 9mm Glocks, he launched a daring, dangerous and deadly operation to free as many as he could. With a small band of committed Kurdish freedom fighters, backed by humanitarian NGOs, and feeding intel to MI6, Carney and his men went behind enemy lines in the heart of the Syrian lead storm, risking their lives to deliver the women and their children to the authorities, to de-radicalisation programmes and fair trials.

Gripping, shocking and thought-provoking, Operation Jihadi Bride takes the complex issue of the Jihadi brides head-on – a vital read for our troubled times.

Continue reading “Review: Operation Jihadi Bride, by John Carney with Clifford Thurlow”

Review: Acid Test, by Christopher Kimball Bigelow

50348216

Growing up Mormon during America’s early-1980s satanic panic, Bigelow escapes the religion’s bland conformity by playing Dungeons & Dragons. After graduating from high school in 1984, he dives into sex, drugs, and the counterculture via Salt Lake City’s punk and new-wave scenes, as echoed from London, New York, and especially Los Angeles.

As Bigelow explores the underground, he rejects myths of supernatural good vs. evil, living instead by the D&D concept of chaotic neutrality. During LSD trips, however, he starts sensing an unseen dimension. Then Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic novel The Stand gets him reconsidering good vs. evil. After an alarming otherworldly attack, can Bigelow find spiritual protection in Mormonism’s processed, regimented, corporate culture?

Published January 14th 2020 by Zarahemla Books

ISBN:0999347233 (ISBN13: 9780999347232)

Continue reading “Review: Acid Test, by Christopher Kimball Bigelow”

Review: The Dark Side of the Mind, by Kerry Daynes


BLURB
Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.

The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.

Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.

Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.

·        Paperback: 304 pages
·        Publisher: Endeavour; 01 edition (20 Feb. 2020)
·        Language: English
·        ISBN-10: 1788402170
·        ISBN-13: 978-1788402170
 
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Side-Mind-Forensic-Psychologist/dp/1788402170
 
Continue reading “Review: The Dark Side of the Mind, by Kerry Daynes”

Unexpected Review: ‘From the Flying Squad to Investigating War Crimes’, by Ron Turnbull

From the Flying Squad to Investigating War Crimes
By Ron Turnbull
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
Pages: 236
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526758668
Published: 18th November 2019
https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/From-the-Flying-Squad-to-Investigating-War-Crimes-Hardback/p/16871
Price: £15.99

For over ten years he was the first detective on the scene when a murder was committed in south London. In the confusion and horror of the crime scene he identified the forensic clues that would later be needed to convict the killer in the calm and measured atmosphere of the Old Bailey; calling out the necessary experts from pathologists to ballistics specialists; protecting the scene against contamination. One slip and a case would crumble; one moment of inspiration and the Yard would have its man.

He was the natural choice when the UN were looking for an experienced detective to create a trail of evidence linking the mass graves of Bosnia to the people who ordered the worst war crimes seen in Europe since the Second World War.

From the Flying Squad to Investigating War Crimes tells of the rise of forensic evidence against the true story backdrop of a detective who has spent a career at the front line in the war against murder – the ultimate crime. It traces the development of forensic science and techniques from the days of the fingerprint to the battery of tests now available to homicide investigators. It is told in the no nonsense style of a pioneer cop who has seen the worst that human beings can do to each other.
Continue reading “Unexpected Review: ‘From the Flying Squad to Investigating War Crimes’, by Ron Turnbull”

Review: ‘The Oshun Diaries’, by Diane Esguerra

The Oshun Diaries

High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.

It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyoncé channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.

Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.

Trailer – https://vimeo.com/340907769

Purchase Links

Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 30% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOUROSHUN

http://eye-books.com/books/the-high-priestess-of-oshun

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oshun-Diaries-Encounters-African-Goddess-ebook/dp/B07SYLJ9YC

Amazon US –  https://www.amazon.com/Oshun-Diaries-Encounters-African-Goddess-ebook/dp/B07SYLJ9YC

Continue reading “Review: ‘The Oshun Diaries’, by Diane Esguerra”