14 Mar 2017
in Book Review
Tags: 1st person account, a manifestation of her illness, a memoir of obsessive compulsive disorder, a memoir of ocd, alter ego, because we are bad, because we are bad - a memoir of ocd, bio, biography, book, books, cbt, cognitive behavior therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, complex, crippling disease, diagnosis, disorder, dispels misconceptions, distress, distresses, elaborate systems, english female journalist, exposure, first person account, forthright account, grapples with mental illness, group therapy, heart-breaking, honest, journalist, lily bailey, medication, memoir, mental health, mental health struggles, mental illness, model, negative thoughts, obtrusive thoughts, raw, relatable, remove the stigmas, resonate, response prevention, review, reviews, rituals, ruminating, rumination, silent battle, therapy, turbulent life, vulnerable, writer
Because We Are Bad is a devastating memoir where the author actually lived, breathed and believed the title. The book is a chronicle of Lily Bailey’s years spend living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) from her initial diagnosis as a child through to becoming a young woman. The story is a relatable, first person account of the mental illness and it’s one that should resonate with people who have this disorder as well as helping to dispel some of the misconceptions that are out there.
This book is reminiscent of Emily Reynold’s A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind. Both volumes are by young, English female journalists and they are honest accounts of their grapples with mental illness. Neither book attempts to romanticise the individual’s respective disorder, instead they attempt to remove the stigmas surrounding it with their brutally honest and forthright accounts.
In Bailey’s case the story is told in the first person along with her complex alter ego (a manifestation of her illness). Bailey recalls the distresses she experienced from early childhood when she was concerned that her sister would come into harm or even die if she failed to check up on her. These ideas became obtrusive thoughts that were repeated to the point of becoming an elaborate system consisting of actual rituals.
Lily spent a lot of time ruminating over negative thoughts. She would worry that she had poor personal hygiene and that people hated her or thought she was a pervert. She collected these ideas and constantly thought about the first letters of each word relating to these things. Bailey’s struggles escalated and became a silent battle that plagued her day and night to the point that it became a crippling disease.
Because We Are Bad may be a raw and heart-breaking read but it’s also a hopeful one. Bailey is now a successful model and journalist and hopefully readers can take away and learn from the things that helped her. In Bailey’s case this was cognitive behaviour therapy, which included response prevention and exposure as well as medication and group therapy. Because We Are Bad shows the inner turbulent life of a vulnerable young woman who has OCD and it also proves that people do not need to be alone in their mental health struggles. By reading such accounts we can all have a more realistic view of what the individuals with these diseases experience so that we can all get real about mental illness and the way it impacts life.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a Bookstr giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.bookstr.com/book/because-we-are-bad/10700167/
09 Mar 2016
in Book Review
Tags: bizarre, book, books, british, broadcaster, comedy, comedy thriller, controversial journalist, creepy, cynic, demon, demons, devil, devils, emails, epitaph, exorcism, final book, ghosts, great idea, great premise, horror, interviews, jack sparks, jack sparks on drugs, jack sparks on the supernatural, jacks sparks on a pogo stick, jason arnopp, journalist, journo, novel, novels, occult, other material, paranormal activity, review, reviews, supernatural, the last days of jack sparks, thriller, unnerving, unsettling, untimely death, weird
The Last Days of Jack Sparks boasts one unique and clever premise for a story. The book is written by British journalist and author, Jason Arnopp but is also presented as being the “final” book or epitaph by a controversial journalist and broadcaster named Jack Sparks. This is an unnerving and mysterious tale that throws up a lot of questions.
The story goes that Jack Sparks has carved out an illustrious career as a pop culture journalist and non-fiction author with the tales, Jack Sparks on Drugs and Jack Sparks on a Pogo Stick. Sparks has been labelled and lauded as a “rebel “and dismissed as a “hack”. He certainly has the ability to divide people and in some ways there seems to be a whiff in common between Sparks and the late Hunter S. Thompson. The two would make firm friends – if they were both still around.
It was with some trepidation that Sparks’ brother, Alistair learns about his brother’s latest work, Jack Sparks on the Supernatural. This all begins with Jack Sparks witnessing an exorcism. But he is also a disbelieving cynic who can’t control himself. His YouTube channel has a bizarre video uploaded to it and this could actually prove the existence of ghosts. But Sparks will suffer from an untimely death and this leaves some suspicious online fans suggesting that the writer had been a victim of foul play.
This book pieces together “Sparks’” draft book as well as interviews, emails and other material. This extra stuff shows that there is more than one side to the narrative and it will make the reader stop and question a few things, not least the veracity of Sparks’ own account. While the book starts off with a bang and it has a great idea, it does loose itself a little in the final act. The end does feature some slow pacing and some bizarre curveballs and some readers will find it hard investing time in such a disagreeable lead character.
Jason Arnopp’s debut novel is a quirky one boasting an excellent idea. The whole story is a refreshing take on the comedy thriller genre. Ultimately this is one creepy, weird and unsettling tale which is told in a clever way. Hopefully this is not the last you hear from Arnopp or Sparks because here, Arnopp proves he is bright spark indeed.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/the-last-days-of-jack-sparks/9610094/
31 Aug 2015
in Book Review
Tags: australian, book, books, boring, coastal queensland, disjointed, eccentrics, family drama, female, fiction, incohesive, jonathan lott, journalist, lightweight, loss, love, monotony, novel, nuanced, penny collins, qld, quirky, relationships, review, reviews, slow, slow-burning, susan johnson, tedium, the landing, woman, writer, wry observations
In Susan Johnson’s latest novel, The Landing, the journalist and writer shows that she is very accomplished at her craft. Johnson has a way with words and the ability to observe and write about things that other people take for granted. The only problem is that this slow-burning, nuanced book could do with some improvements to the structure to ensure it is a tighter and more cohesive read overall.
The novel begins when we are introduced to Jonathan Lott, a man whose wife of decades has left him for another woman. The blurb even imitates Jane Austen by asking the following question: “Is it true that an about-to-be-divorced man in possession of a good fortune is in need of a new wife?” Lott has returned to the coastal Queensland town of The Landing, where a tight-knit community of eccentrics like to know everything about each other’s business.
The other characters in the book are Penny Collins, a divorced art teacher who is forced to care for her elderly French mother, Marie after the latter is kicked out of her umpteenth nursing home. Penny’s daughter, Scarlett is also causing problems because she ran off with an older man and is now a mother to two young children. There is also a neighbour named Gordie and his adult daughter, Anna who has returned home and leaves a trail of broken marriages in her wake. There is also a seven-year-old named Giselle who likes caring for young children even though she is quite young and innocent herself.
These characters are all quite different and quirky and some will resonate more with different readers than others. At times Johnson’s writing style is very reminiscent of the UK TV series, The Office in that it revels in everyday life situations and occasionally makes funny and pithy observations amidst monotony and tedium. This will be a joy for some readers while others will find the pacing a tad too slow and boring, while the large cast can also makes things feel rather disjointed, lightweight and incohesive at times.
Susan Johnson has a keen eye for writing about relationships and family dramas as well as adding in some interesting and wry observations. Her book is a quaint and easy read that feels rather honest and relatable in parts. While it is by no means perfect it does manage to charm readers with the adventures of a bunch of small-town eccentrics and their seemingly quiet and ordinary private lives.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/landing/9497046
17 Jun 2015
in Film Review
Tags: 1971, activism, activist, activists, amchitka island protest, baby seal clubbing, barry pepper, bob hunter, david garrick, diaries, doco, documentary, eco-warrior, emily hunter, enviornment, environmental activist, environmental movement, exciting, festival, film, films, founder, founders, global awareness, graphic, grassroots, green, greenpeace, hippie, hippies, horrific, how to change the world, idealistic, inaugural president, inhumane whaling, jerry rothwell, journalist, mind bomb, movie, movies, nuclear bomb tests protest, organisation, patrick moore, paul watson, pioneers, review, reviews, sea shepherd, sff, soviet whalers, sydney film, tree-huggers, unlikely success, vancouver sun columnist, vibrant, whalers
It is only in 1970s Canada where an over-abundance of hippies, draft-dodgers, Buddhists, vegans, nudists, musicians, writers and tree-huggers could meet and create an organisation like Greenpeace. The documentary, How To Change The World looks at the origins of this grassroots, activist movement and shows how it became the enduring institution it is today. The film is a fascinating and inspiring look at some idealistic, clever and eloquent people and their hope, successes and failings.
The film is directed by Jerry Rothwell who is no stranger to the documentary genre, having previously made Heavy Load and Donor Unknown. The story is mostly about the larger-than-life, Bob Hunter, a former columnist for the Vancouver Sun-turned-eco warrior. Hunter passed away in 2005 but left behind a treasure trove of excellent diaries which form the basis of this story (and are narrated by Barry Pepper). It chronicles how a modest man became the unlikely, inaugural president of Greenpeace.
The story goes that in 1971 a group of ragtag friends decided to go to Amchitka Island in Alaska to protest Richard Nixon’s nuclear bomb tests. The group’s efforts did not stop this from happening but they succeeded in creating global awareness for this issue and spawning the environmental movement. From here they would expose the inhumane whaling methods by the Soviets (they captured on film a whale being harpooned and dying) and the horrific clubbing of baby seals in Canada.
Hunter and his fellow Greenpeace officers understood the power of visual imagery with the leader even coining the term “Mind bomb” to represent an image that is picked up by the media and that goes “viral”, long before the internet even existed. This film uses excellent editing to cut between the graphic images the group captured back in the day as well as Hunter’s beautiful writing, other archive material and new interviews with those early Greenpeace members. The latter are an eclectic bunch that range from an old hippie who prefers to use the name Walrus (David Garrick) to Patrick Moore, a former environmental activist who is now a climate change denier. There is also Paul Watson, who was an angry man who left Greenpeace to form Sea Shepherd and who chose vastly different methods in his activism (which included ramming ships). The Sea Shepherd has now taken Hunter’s activist daughter, Emily under its wings.
How To Change The World is a vibrant film that marries up many different elements (including a fabulous soundtrack). The story holds nothing back and even goes into the power struggles and lawsuits that ensued when the organisation grew too big. This film makes for one exciting, cautionary tale that celebrates the motley crew of pioneers who helped create the green movement and who made a difference through some unlikely successes. Excellent.
Originally published on 15 June 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/06/15/sydney-film-festival-review-how-to-change-the-world-canada-uk-2015/
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