We live in an obesogenic environment. It’s a world of fast living, sedentary jobs and leisure activities, labour-saving devices, and an overabundance of cheap, accessible, energy-dense, nutrient poor, highly-processed foods. It’s also an environment where a growing majority of people are overweight or obese and those who succeed in shedding weight will often find themselves regaining it (and possibly more) in the 12 months after the fact.

NeuroSlimming looks to address some of these problems and get people to really stop and think about how and why they eat, rather than getting too hung up on what they consume.


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The story of Sachiko and other hibakusha are important, as they chronicle a fundamental part of history. This book also supports Yasui’s work as an activist for peace, as it is a cautionary tale about nuclear weaponry, but also one of hardship and human resilience. At 144 pages there were elements that could have been elaborated on further, but it remains a well-researched piece of narrative non-fiction and essential reading for anyone interested in learning from the perils and tragedy of war.

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Cam Barber knows how to walk the talk. A professional public speaker and speaking coach, he has written a very engaging and useful book titled, What’s Your Message? It promises that it can allow readers to make twice the impact using half the effort. On this count it delivers thanks to its practical and logical approach that can be adapted for different audiences and situations.

In this book Barber dispels a number of myths about public speaking. Barber traces the original instructions about public speaking back to actors where there was an emphasis on rules regarding body language and performance. Barber claims that this often confused people and made them even more anxious. He also says that a natural delivery can make a speaker seem more relaxed and credible. This guide uses rich, real-life case studies about people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick and more in order to prove that good public speakers are not necessarily born but they can be made with good practice and instruction.

In addition to the examples, anecdotes and case studies, Barber also describes “The Vivid Method.” It’s one he has devised himself with respect to offering guidelines and ways to prepare for public speaking. There are handy hints, tips and suggestions as well as some easy-to-follow examples and templates that can be used every day. The key point Barber makes is that the message needs to be clear, consistent and concise.

What’s Your Message has summarised a lot of complex information and elaborated on some key concepts. It also demystifies a lot of myths and offers practical insights that can be used in almost any situation. In short, What’s Your Message is a handy guide that is engaging, rational and fun and will allow readers to speak in public in a rather simple, effortless manner, which should be commended.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer thanks to a Goodreads giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:




In The Heart Of The Sea is a non-fiction book about an incredible, historic event that inspired the novel, Moby Dick, i.e. the downing of the Essex ship. The year was 1820 and whales were used to produce and supply oil to the world. But an unfortunate group of 20 men from Nantucket and other parts of the U.S. would meet their match. A huge sperm whale would ram their boat and the sailors were forced to endure an arduous and debilitating 90 plus day journey in the South Pacific Ocean in three leaky row boats.

Nathaniel Philbrick is a writer who lives in Nantucket and is no stranger to sailing. As a result of this, he was able to fashion a richly-detailed account of this true story (and In The Heart Of The Sea actually won him a National Book Award). This story references two main accounts, that of first mate, Owen Chase and that of cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson. Philbrick’s prose holds nothing back and is often quite gruesome and ghastly, but it is all necessary in giving context to such a horrific tale.

After their ship was struck by a large whale, the 20 remaining sailors would split up into three row boats. They could have set sail for some nearby islands in the South Pacific but they had been lead to believe that these places were inhabited by cannibals. The irony is that these castaways would eventually have to resort to such a treacherous act themselves. So instead, they exercised a series of grave errors of judgement, which lead them to sail almost 5000km against the currents and the winds towards South America.

They were out in the elements and would wind up suffering from severe dehydration, horrible skin boils and starvation. But the survivor’s stories are a testament to human strength. In The Heart Of The Sea is all about human endurance, discipline and determination, because some of these men actually managed to survive, despite becoming sickly, human skeletons that were inches away from death.

This book starts off a little slow and is dense but it does become a riveting and entertaining read, overall. There is a lot of drama and courage on display and it’s obvious that it was meticulously researched and lovingly put together by Philbrick. In The Heart Of The Sea sets the scene for a thriller in an unforgiving ocean where survival seems impossible, especially when the odds are stacked against you and you have to navigate through folklore, superstition and the high seas to boot. This is ultimately one amazing tale that should be compulsory reading by everyone.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:




The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is the television equivalent of peeling an onion. This true crime mini-series is a well-structured and well-edited look at the eccentric New York real-estate heir, Robert Durst. The recipient of the 2015 Emmy award for the most outstanding documentary or nonfiction series is a worthy winner, as the program is an engrossing and compelling look at the three murder cases linked to Durst.

This six part series is directed by Andrew Jarecki who also acts as the producer along with Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. Messer Jarecki is also the same man who directed the feature film, All Good Things in 2010. The latter film starred Ryan Gosling and was a fictionalised look at the events that are also tackled by this mini-series, namely the disappearance of Robert Durst’s wife, Kathie in 1982. The feature film impressed Robert Durst so much that he got in touch with the filmmaker and offered to be interviewed as well as unprecedented access to his personal archive.

The series is excellent and gives a lot of information about Kathie’s disappearance and the highly suspicious circumstances that surrounded the event. It also looks at two other crimes that Durst has been linked to- the execution-style death of his long-time friend, Susan Berman in 2000 (her father had been a member of the mafia) and his neighbour Morris Black. Durst admitted to killing Black in “self-defence” and was acquitted of this charge even though Black had been found dismembered in Galveston Texas.

The series does take liberty with the timings of certain events and it goes for the entertainment value rather than presenting something that is purely factual. The Jinx is a dark and entertaining drama program that threads together interviews with the creepy, frank and troubled Durst as well as family and friends of the missing and deceased. There are also interviews with attorneys and police officers who were involved in the cases. Rather than be a dry or clinical retelling of what was believed to have occurred, the filmmakers use archive photographs and footage as well as recreations/re-enactments and site visits to the crime scenes plus some strategically-timed reveals and cliff hangers.

The Jinx is a well-shot and edited piece of documentary filmmaking. It’s a contradictory piece that straddles the lines between investigative journalism and entertaining tension and suspense. This ultimately makes for some engrossing melodrama that is best enjoyed by viewers that know nothing or as little about the case as possible. This then allows the story to be revealed before their very eyes, complete with all of its gobsmacking revelations and smoking gun evidence. The result is an extraordinary true crime tale that towers above the rest.

Originally published on 10 October 2015 at the following website:

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One of Us is a 21st century horror story that chronicles a tragic event from actual history. It’s a book about Anders Behring Breivik and the terrifying acts he carried out on 22 July 2011, which saw 77 Norwegians die and many more injured. This is a detailed and horrific true crime story about a searing, cold-blooded massacre.

This non-fiction work is by Norwegian journalist and writer, Åsne Seierstad. This is the fifth book by a writer who is no stranger to chronicling people’s lives in extreme circumstances as her previous works were about individuals living in Kabul and Chechnya. This volume is actually written like a novel and has been painstakingly researched and assembled from witness accounts, interviews, testimonies and other written works.

One of Us paints a portrait of Anders Breivik including his abusive and dysfunctional childhood and his adolescence where he was a graffiti tagger and hip-hop music lover. He had an obsession with belonging and being in charge or “at the top of a group”. But often he was rejected or ridiculed for having an over-inflated sense of his own self-worth and narcissistic personality.

As an adult Breivik became a high-school dropout and entrepreneur who was determined to get rich quick. He had a business where he sold fake diplomas and later became a recluse and computer game addict. The latter turned into a full-blown internet addiction and he’d eventually become radicalised by right wing ideas. This culminated in his dreaming up and carrying out violent and extreme acts, including making a bomb to use on a government building (this killed eight people) and murdering 77 individuals with guns (many of these victims were teenagers) at a young labour conference on the island of Utoya.

Seierstad also tells the stories of some of Breivik’s victims. In this way she humanises these inspiring young people and ensures that they’re remembered for more than just being a number in a long list of fatalities. These stories will haunt and stay with you, particularly the ones about the young and clever, natural-born leader, Simon Saebo and the strong and opinionated, Bano Rashid (the latter had escaped Iraqi Kurdistan with her parents and younger sister and was determined to become part of Norwegian society).

One of Us is a powerful and explosive book where Seierstad has done an excellent job of painting a vivid portrait of the events leading up to the monumental day as well as the actual event, the trial and the aftermath. She offers lots of background information and context to the story and this makes for an immersive and suspense-filled book that is simultaneously uncomfortable to read and hard to put down. This thorough, intense and unsettling work strikes at the very heart of the gut-wrenching tragedy. It’s positively horrific, extremely well-written and a very important story that had to be told.

***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:




The Man Plan is a no-nonsense health and fitness book specifically designed for the modern individual. It is targeted at men in particular and those who have become complacent about their health and confused by the inundation of messages about fad diets and fitness plans while the Western world battle a burgeoning obesity epidemic. The Man Plan is designed to be practical and offer some real solutions to some big problems that are often overlooked.

The manual is written by former NRL champion, Adam MacDougall. It includes testimonials from MacDougall’s former colleague at the Newcastle Knights, Andrew Johns, coaches Paul Roos and Craig Bellamy and three everyday people who have tried and had success with this program. This book is one that is clearly dear to MacDougall’s heart as he lost his friend Dennis to various lifestyle diseases at an early age. Also, after retiring from professional rugby league in 2011, MacDougall turned to the nutrition industry and started up the Man Shake Company.

This guide features 10 man rules for success and some are quite sensible like always reading nutrition labels, sleeping for at least seven hours a night and eating a good breakfast as well as the very practical “measure it” and “move it”. This book is for people who have let their health take a back-seat because they’re too busy or swamped by the daily grind. MacDougall says that just ten minutes of high intensity exercise using a series of primal moves which he outlines as well as eating properly are a good foundation for success and these don’t necessarily require costly visits to the gym or expensive grocery shopping at organic food stores.

The book also includes 50 recipes that are protein rich. There are options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides and snacks. This is not a guidebook filled with rigid or unrealistic dos and don’ts or expensive and inaccessible ingredients. Instead, the recipes use lots of lean meat, vegetables and fruits and even offer tasty favourites like a meat pie and hamburger among the many mouth-watering options.

The Man Plan simplifies the health and fitness message and encourages people to “man up” and be accountable for their health and well-being. This is not about impractical and unachievable solutions, it’s all rather straight-talking and rational and in some ways it argues that it could even save you money. The Man Plan is ultimately a realistic guide from someone who knows their fair share about these topics and at the same time makes it accessible to the modern and everyday man and woman.

Originally published on 3 July 2015 at the following website:

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leila's secret


Leila’s Secret is the second autobiographical book by the award-winning, Iranian-Australian author, Kooshyar Karimi. It is a controversial story that is likely to anger people because there will be those that vehemently agree and others that disagree with his views on religion in Iran. Karimi is ultimately a great storyteller that offers a book that is compelling and easy-to-read, despite tackling some very difficult subjects.

The story is told from two different points of view. There is the perspective of Karimi himself. He is a man who was born to a Jewish mother named Homa and who grew up in poverty in Tehran. Homa married a Muslim man (and she converted to Islam) but he had failed to disclose that he already had two other wives. This did not stop Homa, who had big plans for her son to go to medical school and help the poor. Karimi excelled and also wrote in his spare time and worked as a translator.

In Leila’s Secret, Karimi tells the story of how he went from learning to become a doctor, to performing abortions and hymen repair surgery for marginalised women who faced being stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage. It is heartbreaking to hear Karimi’s story and how he heard about such desperate cases that he couldn’t turn the women and girls away. One of the ladies he assisted was a bright and feisty young woman named Leila.

The other side of this book is told by Karimi delivering Leila’s perspective. It is told in the first person and was put together based on his own memories of the woman and her story and other aspects that he fictionalised. It would have been interesting to hear this story from Leila’s very own perspective but this would have been very difficult to achieve. As it stands, Leila is an interesting heroine, a girl who yearns to go to university but can’t because her traditional family prevent her from leaving the house except for some brief and irregular visits to the library (which they frown upon anyway). It is on one of these occasions that she meets a handsome shopkeeper and this will have devastating ramifications.

For readers that remember Norma Khouri’s fictional story, Forbidden Love, Karimi delivers something in a similar vein but his book is a factual look at life in Iran when he practised there as a doctor in the eighties and nineties. It shows a determined man who is willing to put other people’s welfare above his own safety and an intelligent and strong young woman who is let down by a patriarchal system. In short, it’s an interesting, frustrating and heart-wrenching read that is impossible to put down.


Originally published on 11 May 2015 at the following website:

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The latest book to fit in the “Truth is stranger than fiction camp” is Alan Manly’s When There Are Too Many Lawyers. The story is part legal survival guide, autobiography and tragi-comedy that chronicles the ten years Manly and his co-defendant, Julian Day spent fighting a vexatious litigant. It’s an endless rollercoaster of a book that holds up a mirror to the quirks that underpin the judicial system in NSW.

The court cases began with a simple and innocuous invoice for $115. Manly and Day had received this because they were directors of the non-profit industry body, the Information Technology Society of Australia (ITSA). The invoice was from an individual who had volunteered for ITSA and was charging the body for alleged “photocopying” fees. The pair had had an uneven history with the litigant and after some investigation, Day had reason to believe that the receipt had been faked. So the two made a complaint at a police station in North Sydney.

What followed was over 250 appearances in court which arose from 34 separate cases involving “the fraudster”, with the actions even making it all the way to the High Court. Initially, Manly and Day would pay big money for legal representatives but as the cases endured and the two noticed the increased disorganisation and limp arguments put forward by their counsel, they eventually decided to sever ties and represent themselves.

The plaintiff in this tale is described by Manly as being like the Coyote from the Looney Tunes cartoons. Even after the litigant has faced numerous set-backs and losses, he would be quick to employ guile and ingenuity by returning back to the drawing board and attacking Day and Manly with another court case or argument. This book is an easy read with little legalese and it is gripping as you become engrossed in the account and wonder, “How will it end?”

Along the way Manly describes the affect that all of these cases had on his personal life and career. Overall, it’s a bizarre journey that this self-proclaimed, hot-headed redhead with a ninth grade education embarks on. Manly is also cheeky, clever and politically incorrect in his writing. When There Are Too Many Lawyers is ultimately a brutally honest, hold no bars-type tale where Manly recounts things with great clarity and passion. This then combines to be one unbelievably crazy, insightful and fascinating read that will leave you shaking your head with disbelief.


***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: