BOOK REVIEW: PAMELA HART – A LETTER FROM ITALY

 

A Letter from Italy is a romantic story that isn’t just ruled by its heart. It’s a novel inspired by Louise Mack, the first female war correspondent who worked during the First World War. It’s a book that shows how a determined and strong journalist negotiates the trials and tribulations of being a woman in a male-dominated industry and also through a time of tumultuous change.

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201703/226447

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DVD REVIEW: WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? (AUSTRALIAN EDITION) SERIES 7

Fusion TIFF File

Who Do You Think You Are? is such a personal TV series you almost feel like you’re sitting in someone’s lounge room having a cuppa. The Australian edition is modelled on the original one from the U.K. Both shows see prominent personalities retracing aspects of their family tree/history. It’s ultimately a fascinating program and in Australia’s case it can occasionally be a multicultural one.

The program is now in its seventh series and once again you see celebrities playing detectives to the lives of themselves and their ancestors. There are stories about challenges and struggles and these form a rich tapestry illuminating and celebrating identity and culture. It’s also the kind of program that can make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

The first episode of the seventh series stars the actor Geoffrey Rush who is in for a few surprises. He’d previously figured his family were all a bunch of farmers but in reality his German ancestors were part of a long dynasty of musicians. Toni Collette has easily one of the most complicated family histories out of the lot. Her grandma died shortly after giving birth to her mother’s sister, which meant her grandfather would abandon his children. Then there’s her paternal grandfather whose identity remains unknown.

This series is very entertaining and educational. Dawn Fraser learns she had a South American freedom fighter in her family while TV chef Luke Nguyen discovers there are other refugees among his ancestors (and not just his immediate family). Ray Martin gets back to his Aboriginal roots while Peter Rowsthorn (Kath & Kim) learns about the convicts in his family’s past. Greig Pickhaver (HG Nelson) and actor David Wenham can look with pride at their ancestor’s roles in the Australian Defence Force and in the World Wars.

Who Do You Think You Are? is one intimate program that is a fascinating watch and leap through the history books. The stories are universal and relatable as they show how people overcame various trials and tribulations in order to succeed. In all, this is one revealing and incredible observational documentary that holds up a mirror for every day Australians to gaze upon and celebrate in all its glory.

Originally published on 24 November 2015 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/think-series-7-dvd-review/

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BOOK REVIEW: LI FENG – FORGED FROM SILVER DOLLAR

lifeng

 

Forged From Silver Dollar is a family memoir by Li Feng that could also be renamed, Who Do You Think You Are? The story focuses on four generations of women in Feng’s family (including the author herself). It is the ultimate, underdog tale that chronicles the deprivation, humiliation, hunger and homelessness that these strong women endured and their later triumphs over adversity.

Feng’s story is an inspiring and epic one. It is set in Mao’s China and it describes his rise and downfall. Feng does an excellent job of providing the historic context and backdrop in which her family lived in as well as weaving in her own personal account and story.

The tale begins with the formidable “Silver Dollar” who was sold into a loveless marriage at age 12. She was subjected to abuse and a difficult life thanks to her mother-in-law but her triumph was that she raised three independent and successful sons, Fu, Shou Shan and Shou. Her second son, Shou Shan was a wealthy landlord who would be later executed by communist forces but he did marry another resilient woman in Ming Xiu. The latter had five children of her own with Shou Shan and was forced with the devastating decision of having to separate and adopt out multiple kids after his death.

Ming Xiu did retain custody of her daughter Rong who suffered from ill-health, poverty and being declared a social outcast. Eventually Rong would channel a lot of optimism and energy into being a tiger mum and expecting the best from her daughter, the book’s author, Li Feng. The latter had to employ unconditional sacrifice and absolute mental focus at her mother’s direction and she did succeed, both in her birthplace of Chengdu, China and her adopted home of Australia.

Forged From Silver Dollar is a dramatic story that features the trials and tribulations of four smart and resilient women who overcame the odds to flourish. The story is heart-breaking but also easy-to-read and informative and the simple yet poetic prose does hook you in. Forged From Silver Dollar is ultimately an exciting and inspiring read about love, loss and inner strength.

 

***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/forged-from-silver-dollar/9230494

DVD REVIEW: KIDS ON SPEED?

Sydney, AUSTRALIA: Essential Media, Kids on Speed(Photo by Sabine Albers)

 

Kids On Speed? is a factual and fly-on-the-wall series which follows five children who are suspected to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s a powerful and revealing show that looks at this much-maligned, misunderstood and stigmatised illness that has been met with controversy (due to its resulting in more children being medicated). This documentary attempts to inform and debunk some myths associated with this disorder. It also manages to cover a lot of ground but it could have been a longer series and a little bit more comprehensive in detail.

The series is written, directed and produced by Marc Radomsky. It follows four families who have reached the ends of their tethers with their hyperactive, misbehaving and unruly children. They all agree to take part in a nine-week, multidisciplinary program where psychological behaviour therapies are combined with learning strategies and medication (if it is deemed necessary). One thing this series fails to describe is the impact the child’s diet is possibly having on their underlying condition.

The first episode introduces the children. Seth is an impulsive six year old who has young parents and his father Ryan was diagnosed with ADHD when he was the same age as his son. There are the siblings, Emily (11) and Samuel (6) who come from a large family and who constantly fight, scream and egg each other on. James is an emotionally immature, ten year old who has a terrible temper and violent streak and Corey (7) is now home-schooled after he threatened to hurt the kids at school (as well as himself). This initial episode covers the fortnight that was dedicated to assessing and diagnosing the children using evidence from home and at school and against the recognised diagnostic criteria.

The experts leading this program are: psychologist Prof. Mark Dadds, educational specialist, Dr. Samantha Hornery and paediatrician and ADHD Expert, Prof. Michael Kohn. After working together and with the children for two weeks they diagnose Seth with severe Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), mild ADHD and possible sleep deprivation while Samuel and Emily have ADHD which has most likely developed into ODD. Corey has ADHD, ODD, severe anxiety and possible autism. James is the most difficult child to diagnose but they initially think he has emotional immaturity and ODD.

This documentary series reveals how the parents have to be retrained in the areas of discipline, rewards and praise as well as being consistent with the child and a united force with each other. In some cases, they see some very positive results and this is often through a combination of behavioural strategies and medication. An issue with the series is that there is no postscript to describe what happened (including any further successes or relapses) following the conclusion of filming.

Ultimately, Kids On Speed? is a challenging social experiment that is very honest and revealing and will no doubt resonate with parents and friends of children who have ADHD and/or ODD. It’s not a definitive documentary by any means and it could have been longer (three hours seems short to condense five children’s lives for nine weeks). Despite this, it is still a thought-provoking, engaging and informative analysis of the trials and tribulations of a complex disorder, whose cause is not yet known and one that is only becoming increasingly more prevalent in society.

 

Originally published on 08 September 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/09/08/tv-dvd-review-kids-on-speed-australia-2014/

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