Book Review: Death Expands Us: An Honest Account of Grief and How to Rise Above it, by Stephanie Harris

cv_death_expands_usAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

On 6 April 2009 Stephanie Harris’ life was turned upside down when her thirty-three-year-old brother Brendon suddenly and mysteriously died. The first Stephanie knew he was ill was when her mother rang to tell her that he had been hospitalised during a business trip to Buenos Aires. The next morning she got phone call from her older sister Teresa to say he was dead.

The sudden death of a much-loved family member or friend brings all sorts of emotions to the surface – emotions that seem at times illogical and at times frightening with the intensity of these feelings.

I have read a number of self-help books the years where a close family member has died – sometimes expected and other times suddenly. I thought this book was well laid out with the grief process explained. Every person reacts differently to death and grief. No way is the right or wrong way. One book I read a number of years ago sprung to mind, Elizabeth Kulber-Ross’ On Death and Dying. The message is more or less the same but from a different perspective – of someone actually going through it. It bought all sorts of emotions back for me as I was reading it. I was able to rationalise how I had grieved at particular times through the sudden death of a much-loved family member.

I recommend this book as a tool in the grieving process. What I really liked about it was that even though Stephanie is a Grief Coach, she still sought help with her grieving. None of us like to think that perhaps there are times in which professional help is necessary.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Death Expands Us: An Honest Account of Grief and How to Rise Above it
by Stephanie Harris
Published by Lioncrest Publishing
ISBN 9780473388171

Book Reviews: The Yoga of Sailing and Buddha and a Boat, by Dyana Wells

The Yoga of Sailing, by Dyana Wells

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The Yoga of Sailing is the first book of the Anchors in an Open Sea trilogy.

Alice, her eldest daughter Emily and her elderly father Roger embark on sailing adventure from New Zealand to Fiji and beyond.  It doesn’t go according to plan with Alice often wondering out loud whether her father is up to it physically and mentally.  She also has doubts about the sea worthiness of her father’s boat Dream-Maker.

Alice has always had an adventurous streak often taking her not very willing children, as they were growing up on tramping trips. While not particularly willing at the time these trips remain in their memories as adults.

Alice is one of these people that just can’t sit still exploring alternative lifestyles going on retreats, learning yoga.  Her adventures have taken her cycling, tramping and sailing.

Living in close quarters on board Dream-Maker, family relationships become taunt with friction.  Alice’s solution when moored at some safe haven near port is to go camping or catch a bus to get away.

Romance takes place in the form with an infatuation with an American Cornelius – a man with complex issues of his own. Alice’s search for fulfilment often makes the reader wonder why she came on this sailing adventure in the first place.  To live in close confines with family is hard enough at the best of times without friction continually bubbling under the surface.

I have no sailing background but having lived in a city surrounded by water I’ve often been on boats – mainly ferries going to the different islands in the Hauraki Gulf. The review for the second book is below.

Buddha and a Boat, by Dyana Wells

Buddha and a Boat is book two in the trilogy Anchors in an Open Sea.

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We continue the story of Alice and her romance and often stormy relationship with Cornelius. There are many facets to his character but he seems to have deep seated anger issues related to his mother.  He often takes his frustration out on Alice.  She finds him frustrating along with dealing with her father Roger and his on again, off again sailing schedule.  Roger seems to almost daily change his mind as to what his plans are. Throw into the mix his jealously of Cornelius and you have a very complex set of relationships: perhaps they might catch the next flight out of paradise?

Alice’s children later on in life are starting to have real life issues.  They have to cope with the death of their father while dealing with issues from their past that seem to filter through their life as adults.

Alice’s twin sister Marion traveled with her children to join them on part of the sailing adventure with their father, but the story gets mixed up with the past and the present.

I’m not sure how I feel about books like this – flicking between what is the here and now and the past. On the other hand, I did enjoy this book, almost crying when Alice’s father died while she accompanied him back to New Zealand on his much loved Dream-Maker and his consequential burial at sea.  Anybody who has lost a parent can empathise with Alice and the grief she must have felt.

Books reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Yoga of Sailing
by Dyana Wells
Published by Fiery Scribes
ISBN 9780473373863

Buddha and a Boat
by Dyana Wells
Published by Fiery Scribes
ISBN 9780473373917

 

 

Book Review: Ambulance, Ambulance!, by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock

cv_ambulance_ambulanceAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

There’s been a crash, the ambulance is to the rescue. Sirens blaring, it reaches the site of the accident. A child has fallen off his bicycle.

‘Bleep, bleep, Emergency!
News just through:
Crash, crash, there’s been a crash.
Let’s go, crew!
Nee nar nee nar nee nar nee nar… ‘

I read this book to Quinn who at 2 ½ years of age is always falling off or over something – often her own two feet or off her bike. Fortunately, it’s never been anything major: nothing that a cuddle and a sticking plaster doesn’t solve. She loved this book and couldn’t get enough of the story, with me having to read it several times.

The illustrations are bright and colourful, and fit in very well with the accompanying text.

The author Sally Sutton and illustrator Brian Lovelock are the  award-winning creators of  bestsellers Roadworks, Demolition and Construction – all favourites.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Ambulance, Ambulance
by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781925126303

Book Review: East, by Peri Hoskins

Available at selected bookshops nationwide.

cv_eastThis is the second book by Peri Hoskins featuring the character Vince Osborne, a suburban lawyer who has the feeling life is leaving him behind. Disillusioned with representing petty criminals, he chucks in his job and decides to go on a road trip.  A journey to reconnect with who he is and what he should be doing with his life.

Vince drives back to the city, visiting old friends and haunts from his university days, before setting off.  He bunks down with a friend of a friend to make a plan.  He sorts out supplies, getting his car fitted with an LPG tank but leaving the petrol tank in place, realising that not every small town will have an LPG supply.  There is an easy familiarity, as he slots back into old friendships before heading east to begin his journey, writing a journal along the way.

He starts off picking up hitchhikers, to break the monotony of the barren countryside. Each town/city changes, as does the accommodation available, but somehow, they all seem to merge. The only changing detail is the people he meets along the way as he makes small talk with staff and fellow travelers at the various places he stays. Some just drifting from one place to another.  He starts to wind down and get into the zone.

Old mining towns with hardened characters that seem to always go with hard places: this is a journey of self-discovery for Vince.  He applies for a job in one of the gold mines – hard, hard, physical work but one where he finds satisfaction.

At first I thought – oh hell, another one of “those books” where it just goes nowhere, but how wrong I was.  This is a book that ended up even questioning my own life and where I was heading – how I could change the mundane into something a lot more exciting. As Vince discovers, dreams aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

East
by Peri Hoskins
Tane Kaha Publications
ISBN 9780473251284

Book Review: A Southern Tale, by Joanne McDougall

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_a_southern_taleSammy is a Sea Lion, a very rare and endangered species. He lives on an island deep in the Southern Ocean.

As light filled the sky bringing warmth with the dawn,
Sammy woke up with a stretch and a yawn.  
Her tummy then rumbled, expressing a wish
that she leaps into the sea and go and find a fish.
Into the waves, she dove as they crashed against rocks,
causing foam and spray to be splashed.

Sammy swam far in search of food, arriving at her favourite place teeming with fish. Fish eating the plankton, penguins and dolphins and sea birds galore gather for dinner, trying to ignore the sea leopards lurking, waiting for their chance to grab a quick bite. Meanwhile, the sharks with glistening white teeth, sharp as a razor lie in wait, fancying a meal of sea lion.

I read this book to 2 ½ year old Quinn. She’s been to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea World so knows all about seals and penguins – telling me in no uncertain terms just what she thinks about the seals in this story being chased and perhaps eaten. It can be quite hard explaining to a small child about the food chain in the animal kingdom – suburban Auckland doesn’t quite cut it.

This is a great story with wonderful illustrations, to introduce children to endangered species and to try and make them a little more aware of what goes on in the great ocean surrounding our country.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

A Southern Tale
by Joanne McDougall
Published by Pegasus Art
9780473373696

Book Review: Bathtime for Little Rabbit, by Jorg Muhle

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_bathtime_for_little_RabbitPublished by Gecko Press, this is a board book suitable for 0 – 3 years.

This is an interactive book with a simple story. Little Rabbit’s bath is ready. Can you call him? Hoppity-hop. He’s in! We’re washing his ears today too. Can you put some shampoo on him? Wonderful. You made a lot of bubbles. Say swooshswoooshhhh.

I read this book to 2-year-old Quinn after she’d had her bath and was all ready for bed. She loved interacting with the story trying to help Little Rabbit shampoo his hair, wipe his nose when he got water up his nose and was keen to blow him dry at the end. A kiss good-night, tucked down in her bed with Sheepy, Quinn was happy to snuggle down and go to sleep.

What a lovely story – simple but very effective. A great story to read during bedtime routines.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Bathtime for Little Rabbit
by Jorg Muhle
Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776571376

Book Review: Parakeet in Boots, by Chris Gurney, illustrated by Myles Lawford

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_parakeet_in_bootsThis is a hilarious Kiwi version of the fairy story Puss in Boots. There was once a farmer, who fell ill and died, leaving three sons and a farm to divide. The eldest received all the buildings and land, the next got the tractor and cash in the hand. But there in the will, to his youngest son Pete, all the farmer had left was his pet parakeet!

“What good’s a dumb parrot?” Pete cried in dismay.
“Don’t worry!” the bird squawked.
“I’ll see you’re okay.”
“Get me some ugg boots to warm up my feet,
plus a flax kete, and all will be sweet!”

The story continues on with the parrot “helping” Pete get what he needed in life including perhaps, the “girl of his dreams”.

A rather unique take on a classical fairy story. Both our 2 granddaughters were mesmerised by the idea of a parakeet taking charge of Pete’s destiny. I kept thinking of the parrot wearing ugg boots and wondering how on earth he could fly in such cumbersome things.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Parakeet in Boots
by Chris Gurney, illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434382