May Book Reviews

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A brief synopsis of the books I’ve read during the past month –whether I liked them or not!

Arrernte Present, Arrernte Past – Dianne Austin-Broos.

This ethnography examines the history and of Hermannsburg (Ntaria), a remote Central Australian Aboriginal settlement, that was originally a Lutheran mission. Di Austin-Broos is an anthropologist (yes, I know this lady!) with a long association with Western Arrernte people. The book is relatively easy to read for non-anthropologists, although in keeping with Dianne’s writing style, is jam-packed with ideas and ethnographic interpretation.

Di critiques both the Mission and Outstation Movement (the movement of Aboriginal families back onto ‘homelands’ during the 1980s and early 1990s), and also has a bit to say about the recent Federal Intervention. I really enjoyed this book, as I know many of the people within it (like the Malbunka and Inkamala families), but I also enjoyed the insights into life on family outstations and community politics that I haven’t quite got my head around at Hermannsburg (yet).  I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Central Australian history or Western Arrernte people.

Shadows on the Path – Abdi Assadi

What can I say? If you do yoga, if you are into spirituality, or if you’re a thinker READ THIS LITTLE BOOK.

It’s rare that I wax lyrical about spiritually-oriented books. Most often, I find them sappy and Holier-Than-Thou. Adbi Assadi, an Iranian-born immigrant to the US, who’s life story and experiences are amazing in themselves, writes prose that reads like poetry. He captures the reader with his pragmatic, non-sucky wisdom and doesn’t let you go until the book is over. I have found myself returning again and again to his words, saying: “…ahh. That’s just how I feel. That’s exactly what I’ve experienced.” He captures the essence of contemporary life and spirituality in one slim, readable book. If you like Donna Fahri or Stephen Cope, you’ll devour this book. The book is self published and available here. You can listen to an extended interview with Abdi here.

Killer Heat – Linda Fairstein

From time to time, I read a crime fiction (Kathy Reichs remains my fave). After a conversation at work, Jammiegirl lent me this book and another (Jammiegirl and I work together). I hadn’t read a Linda Fairstein novel before.

I’ll be honest. The writer makes two deadly assumptions which, for me, made the book hard to enjoy:

  • that you have read her other novels and are familiar with the characters
  • that you know New York’s geography and landmarks.

However, I did like the historical detail and by halfway through, when I’d finally become accustomed to the narrative’s assumptions, I couldn’t put the book down. The book focuses on the murders of three girls, all tortured but apparently not sexually violated, and then the race to find a fourth girl who goes missing. The plot is fast-paced, the atmosphere dark and misty, and comes replete with a red-herring perpetrator who gets his just-desserts in the end. I did find the heroine, Alexandra Cooper, irritating. She’s 5’9, leggy, blonde, dating a jet-setting French restaurateur, and way too girly and uptight for me to relate to. I was able to ignore her sissy foibles because the action got me in. I would, however, like to take Alexandra Cooper camping in Central Australia. Camping. Overnight. In. A. Swag. Sleeping. On. The Ground. With ANTS and no TOILETS! No high heels, either. (I’m so evil!).

Recommended as a good quick read that won’t steal too much of your life away.

Get Motivated – Tamara Lowe

I listened to Get Motivated as an audiobook. I had high hopes for this book, judging from the book’s blurb on Audible. I really thought it would be helpful.

I’m going to be blunt. DO NOT get the book as an audiobook. Tamara Lowe has a voice that could sour milk. Truly, I tried to persevere with this book, ignoring Tamara’s voice (and that’s Tamara pronounced camera or as in Gamera, the Japanese sci-fi monster) as she massacres the English language (she pronounces ‘forward’ as ‘faux-PAUSE-word’. I kid you not.). However, what really got up my nose was when I heard her praising Margaret Thatcher as “…one of the most outstanding figures of history”. I began to get suspicious. However, when I heard her recommending a ‘motivational’ book written by the evangelist nutter, Billy Graham, and lastly, giving instructions on how to locate all of the paedophiles in your neighbourhood (Tamara has located 200+ living nearby her home), I said ENOUGH!

The good stuff: she has her own psychological-typology that’s easier to use than Myers-Briggs. She calls this ‘Motivational DNA’ – a ‘try hard’ label that I don’t like at all. However, the system itself is interesting – and there’s even a test you can take to self-type yourself. Her pointers for motivating or avoiding conflict with the various types are good – however you can find them elsewhere, and you won’t have to put up with Billy Graham.

Overall, the ugly Christian, soccer-mom, I’m a recovered drug addict sermonistic tone of the book really made me want to VOMIT. I’m sorry, but I cannot recommend this book.

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7 thoughts on “May Book Reviews

  1. Amanda, I ordered Shadows on the Path because I love both Cope and Farhi. I trust your judgment, girlfriend…..

    and I will definitely let you know if my visit to your global neck of the woods becomes reality…Nadine hooked me up! 🙂

    wanna do a little yin, a little yang, lots of mindfulness meditation? yoga with a Buddhist attitude, sis!

    • Hi Linda,

      That is such exciting news. And I hope you enjoy Shadows on the Path. I found it spoke to me, just like Cope and Farhi did.

      I definitely want to do your style of yoga, sis. And I’m planning a USA trip in the second half of next year. 🙂 So watch out. I might just call in for coffee!

  2. Thanks for the book reviews, will be heading to the bookstore for a copy of Arrernte Past, Arrernte Present.

    Interesting to hear your take on Alexandra Cooper. I like the girlieness & especially love that she lives in a compete fantasy world funded by a medical invention of her father’s!
    By all means take her camping if you get the opportunity – girlie girls need to experience the other side of life.

  3. Thanks for reviewing Get Motivated! Random House asked me to record the book, but I too prefer the written version (not big on the sound of my own voice either!)

    I’m glad you found the Motivational DNA model useful– and I hope you had a chance to check out the bonus gifts that come with your audio book (www.getmotivatedbook.com/gifts).

    I also want to thank you for ordering the audio book because 100% of the proceeds of Get Motivated is being donated to children’s charities (Please visit http://www.getmotivatedbook.com/ListCharity.aspx to check out the terrific organizations that are benefitting from your purchase.)

    • Thanks, for visiting Tamara. Even though I didn’t like the audiobook much (I think I would’ve liked the book better), I am humbled that you’ve bothered to take the time to notice me because in the book you sound so high flying and totally removed from little people. Like me.

      But wow. Just goes to show that you never know who’s going to read your blog. I give an author a bum wrap and she has the courage to be positive and reply to my negative comments on my obscure blog.

      Good on you, Tamara. Full marks to you.

      Maybe you should all read ‘Get Motivated!’ because Tamara has the courage to come and reply to someone who didn’t like the audiobook.

  4. Amanda,

    Don’t be humbled by Tamara’s response. It’s just more proof of her narcissism. She must google herself constantly. It’s all part of the snake oil act.

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