The Road To Becoming A Survivor by River Hayden

“A touching autobiography written by River Hayden, as she shares with us her tragic story of sexual abuse, neglect, self harming and depression. An inspirational and honest account of her life and her struggle to overcome being a victim and becoming a survivor. 4.5/5”


Book overview and Review:

Reading River Hayden’s autobiography helps open our eyes to many aspects of life which we all hope to never experience. I think if given the choice out of a selection of autobiographies ranging from individuals aged 18 to 80; the probability of selecting a book written by a person who is much older than Hayden may be more common a choice, as some will presume what life experiences could a 25 year old young woman possibly have? I can confirm that this preconceived idea is not an accurate presumption; Hayden has clearly enlightened a few readers here, if ever they needed enlightenment. Tragic and moving life experiences are not “saved” for those with more life experience and are commonly thrust upon us at an age where we do not necessarily understand the difference between right and wrong.

Hayden has bravely and movingly recounted true events from her personal history which has help shaped and unfortunately haunted her throughout her life. From experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of family members closest to her, and later again in life we can only begin to imagine what she has been through. We step inside Hayden’s world and stand in her shoes, and see the events told from her perspective.

I think that River Hayden believes that by typing out her innermost thoughts, feelings and memories she will be able to release some of the pent up emotion that she has held back all these years. She will be able to help and inspire others who have experienced similar trauma and face her fears straight on, as the title of the book suggests, Hayden is on “The Road to Becoming a Survivor.”

I found this book inspirational and very interesting, I feel extremely lucky to have not experienced the sexual abuse that River Hayden and many, many others before and after her have lived through.

The fact that these events have also taken place over a number of years, a huge portion of Hayden’s life make the story even more harrowing. It is interesting to read Hayden’s personal retrospective view on the abuse she suffered, and her attempt to understand why the individuals did what they did and despite everything she has tried to build bridges with two of them. It is an impossible circumstance to pass judgement on, part of me was thinking, “Why are you trying to build bridges with people that have abused you in this way?”, but the other side of me was trying to understand and see how she feels. She tries to see the good in everyone while handling the unforgiveable.

The book covers not only her sexual abuse but the loss of her best friend due to cancer which I felt compelled to mention as it was so sad and touching. We also see a brief insight into the lives that have also shaped her story and helped her to survive.

 The beginning of the book is slow paced as Hayden struggles to reveal her trauma and spends quite a while expressing her fears about sharing the story due to the implications of 1) Revealing what close family members have done to her, 2) Her own personal ability to cope with opening up these raw wounds for the world to see. I believe you will require patience and compassion to bare with Hayden as she repeats her concerns, as she says it is a while before she gets to anything “juicy”,  but her story is an eye opener and I am pleased that I had the opportunity to read this book. I sincerely hope that River Hayden will find peace and enjoyment in her life and that she pursues her dreams without letting the past hold her back. It was insightful to partially walk in her footsteps, I will never be able to comprehend how people can inflict such evil deeds on others.

 I recommend this autobiography to all and I hope this helps connect with other individuals that have suffered with their own abuse, as you are not alone.

You can download the EBook via Amazon USA. Please note the book is currently going through a publisher so please be conscious that any spelling/grammatical errors will be corrected as soon as possible.


Upcoming Book Review – The Road To Becoming a Survivor By River Hayden

This weekend I will be reviewing a very moving autobiography written by River Hayden called “The Road To Becoming A Survivor.”

This autobiography follows Hayden’s life story so far and the sexual abuse she has suffered at the hands of others. River Hayden is undeniably brave and remarkable, she has shared with us the scariest and most traumatizing moments of her life. I look forward to sharing this review with you all. I hope it connects with other individuals that have experienced sexual trauma and anyone that feels they are alone.

Best wishes,

Rina’s Ramblings.

Who Do You Think You Are – With Billy Connolly

Who Do You Think You Are – With Billy Connolly

For someone who is extremely interested in Family History and well, history in general, I haven’t really watched much of the BBC TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”. I used to find myself beginning to watch an episode and feeling frustrated with just how easy it can make family history appear to be, to search for your ancestors and obtain quick results, as this is not always the case and can also be very time consuming if the records are nowhere to be found! Plus I couldn’t “contain myself,” I struggled to sit through an entire episode without getting an itch to delve back into my own family tree instead of watching someone else do the same!

I was pleasantly surprised this week, after watching a couple of random episodes on BBC iplayer I have started to appreciate the program and educational benefits a little bit more, so much so that I decided to watch an old episode from 2014 featuring Billy Connolly a Scottish comedian.

While I appreciate Billy Connolly’s sense of humor and do find some of his stand up shows funny, I am not his worlds biggest fan, therefore my opinion of him does not massively impact my overall interest in the episode, however he is very like-able and down to earth as opposed to other celebrities that have appeared on the program, which does make the episode more appealing.


Connolly believed his ancestors originated from Ireland; however the discoveries left him a little dumbfounded. He had no idea that some of his direct ancestors had been in the military and were also based in India.  His great grandmother from his mother’s maternal lineage had been born in Bangalore and subsequently we are transported with Connolly to India to delve deeper into his roots.  As the program progressed we discovered more of his relatives and we were also provided with a quick historical background by a historian as to what life was like at this time in India, the uprising and how living in the South and being in the Military was a completely different kettle of fish to the North. This was extremely interesting to me as I have direct ancestors who lived in Bangalore and Madras over a period of many decades. I think by this stage my eyes were glued to the television, eager to learn more.

We also followed in the footsteps of Connolly’s Great, Great, Great grandfather Daniel Doyle who had fought in the Royal Horse Artillery in India, in the 19th century. He was reported to have had good conduct and a promotion, to later discover he had been court martialed therefore leading an end to his budding military career, despite not seeing much action in terms of military conflict where he was based. Connolly predicted part of the reason for this court-martial could possibly be alcoholism,   “It is a family tradition,” he openly admitted. Connolly was partially correct, after a local historian revealed an intriguing set of hospital records which detailed Daniel Doyle’s personal struggles such as alcoholism to his health woes, syphilis.

We were also then informed that syphilis was quite common at that time in the army in India, I believe estimated at 1 in 3 men having an STD. According to the historian, (I apologize her name escapes me) prostitutes were seen as an “evil necessity” and sometimes there would be as little as 20 women for over a 1000 men. These women if suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease would be locked in a separate location for months until it was believed they were cured, and then offered back to the soldiers. These were usually local women.  I felt like I was connecting to Connolly’s discoveries, as if it were my ancestors. I was  happy when Daniel Doyle had appeared to settle down and sort out his life, he married and moved back to Scotland, only to be saddened to discover he and his wife applied for poor relief on a couple of occasions because they were in poverty. The emotional reaction Connolly produced was real and extremely disappointing, he had hoped Doyle would have had a happier ending and was deeply saddened by the end of his ancestors life. It was endearing and also quite touching to see the compassionate side to Connolly and has made me respect and admire this individual more, he seems like such a genuine person.

Towards the end of the documentary we discover that Connolly had an Indian ancestor which left him feeling exhilarated and in high spirits and ended the episode with a nice vibe. I would recommend to watch this if you like genealogy and also if you have any relatives that were based in India in between 1800 and 1900, it is very interesting and informative.

Billy Connolly health


Del Boy “He Who Dares…” Book Review


There are books which can be a little unbearable to finish reading after a while, a little humorous here and there but in a cringe worthy please-make-it-stop kind of way, the puns get old and humdrum.This was not the case with Del Boy “He Who Dares” autobiography which had me laughing for the best part of a few hours.

I picked up the book in my local convenience store and immediately fell in love with the first page, but I did wonder whether it was worth the price. Would I tire of hearing Derek Trotter ramble on about his life and personal disasters when I had already watched all the episodes of Only Fools and Horses many, many times? Plus I wasn’t sure who the book was actually written by (it did not state on the cover) which did make me wonder whether it would be a true portrayal of his character or just a minimal attempt at getting more money out of the fans. I can now confirm that the book is unmistakably written in an authentic Derek Trotter style, corny French phrases and all!


I’d finally shifted the mobile phones and the video recorders and started doing a nice new line in in-car stereos. Top quality gear from Albania, a rising star in the electronics market at the time. They had all the proper dials, you know, MW, FM, ICI, B & Q, the lot! They also came with a pair of state of the art quadrophonic speakers. Chuck in a free Kylie Minogue LP on top of that and I had no doubt I’d flog ’em easy.


“Del Boy” shares with us events from his earlier and later years. We hear a few stories which were not mentioned in the series, and many which were, all told in the classic calamity style that is true to Only Fools and Horses. It is worth mentioning that it is the version of events from Derek’s perspective, which of course we all know to be 100% accurate and above board!  Derek also shares with us his many close encounters with death, however they are not always his encounters..more precisely events that he may (or may not!) have contributed to causing!

A cold realisation dawned on me in that moment. I can only imagine it must have been how a turkey felt when it caught Bernard Matthews grinning at it.


 From Peckham Spring Water…There’s a Rhino Loose in the City to jaywalking in Benidorm, the “Groovy” Gang in Majorca, and Batman and Robin…there are plenty of memories that will take you back down memory lane just like you are one of the gang.  

Derek manages to list his previous female conquests, along with his obsession with getting engaged to every woman he so much as casts an eye on (well, the ones he can remember!).  He also shares with us how Trotters Independent Traders came to be.

I originally came up with “Trotters Wares And Trade”, but it was a bit dull. What really put me off though was when I noticed the initials (see, you’ve gotta be very careful to check all the minor little details in this game or you could end up making yourself look like a right plonker).

 It is a quick read, did not take me long at all, unless you pace yourself and read a bit now and then. There are also an assortment of pictures midway through the book. If you are a fan of the series and want a laid back read and a good giggle, pick up the book and enjoy!

He Who Dares…Wins! You know it makes sense!


1942 “Random Harvest” Film Review

Random Harvest


I have not previously written or even contemplated writing a film review before. I prefer to get to grips with a good book. However after watching Random Harvest from 1942 I felt compelled to share this wonderful film with you in hope that it may be discovered and enjoyed by more people.

The film itself is actually based on a novel of the same name by James Hilton in 1941; however I will read and review this another time.

Main Cast:

Ronald Colman Charles Rainier
Greer Garson “Paula Ridgeway”/Margaret Hanson
Philip Dorn Dr. Jonathan Benet
Susan Peters Kitty Chilcet
Henry Travers Dr. Sims

Film Synopsis:

The film is set towards the end of World War 1, a British Officer is gassed and suffers shell shock in the trenches and brought back to England. Unfortunately, due to this he also loses his memory. This amnesiac which we will know as Smith for the first portion of the film is transferred to an asylum as an unidentified veteran who also experiences difficulty speaking. During his time in the asylum Smith has to come to terms that he does not know who he is, let alone where he is from. Eager families with missing sons visit in desperate hope to be reunited, but all leave with disappointment.

Not long later, the end of the war has been declared and celebrations are being had all round, due to the excitement the gatekeepers abandon their posts in triumph leaving Smith to simply wonder out of the grounds and into the town.

In the town he is befriended by a Singer called Paula who offers him shelter and compassion. She realizes at once he is from the asylum but feels he is harmless and gives him the opportunity to join her on her theatrical tour. This plan is quickly thwarted by an incident and Smithy’s (as she calls him) identity is discovered. To avoid being taken back to the asylum Paula takes Smith to the country where they settle down and marry.

Now you would assume this would be the happily ever after but the core of the film hasn’t even begun yet! Smith visits Liverpool for a job interview and is struck by a taxi. His previous memories are restored however his new life and love with Paula is erased; leaving him with emptiness that he just cannot fathom, the only clue to his past is the key which he carries in his pocket.


I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this film that I wish to own it. I borrowed this from my father as he recommended it to me. Firstly, black and white films do not faze me as they do with some. My partner sat down for the first ten minutes of this film and I did think to myself, I’ll give it five minutes and he’ll wonder back upstairs but he didn’t. He stayed and really got into this film, so much so that at the end he was a little weepy as was I.

The acting is superb, but you do have an actor and actress whom were very popular back in this era, so I have been told. (Ronald Colman and Greer Garson.) The only criticism I have in regards to acting would be by Susan Peters who played Kitty, If you do watch the film you will notice she regularly looks above Colman’s head rather than directly at him. Is it nervousness due to being around a big star or the struggle of trying to remember her lines? I honestly don’t know but it does get a little irritating.  Due to the age of the film some of the props are noticeable but this did not ruin the movie in anyway for me.

Random Harvest presents us with two characters that we care about, that we feel for and that we want to be together. At one point I just wanted to scream at the screen “Remember her!!!”, out of frustration for poor Paula. It is a classic romantic film that I would highly recommend to all.

images  Random-Harvest

Writing your Family History…my dilemma!

After countless hours of research, writing up my family history feels like quite a daunting prospect, especially with the amount of information I have to collate on this particular genealogy line. Also, where does it end? For instance if I were to write up on my maternal, maternal side as planned, would I include all my great aunts family and great great uncles family being as I know so much! Or is that just going to complicate it for any future generations?

The plan was to share all my findings and collate the dates, names, places with the evidence, to show how I had come to the conclusion that my great grandfather was named such and such etc. I would also include stories, images, newspaper clippings…whatever I have found, to ensure the information is clearly stored somewhere and not lost or forgotten. It is there if it is ever needed.

Family history for me will always be an ongoing project, when is it best to get a book made, as I’ll undoubtably find more information as the years go on?

I’d love to hear from anyone who has researched their family tree and has put the information into a book, or toyed with the idea. Anyone have any advice?


Book Review: This Book Will Save your Life by A. M. Homes.

9781862079335 (1)

This Book Will Save Your Life by A . M . Homes is focused around the life of Richard Novak who is a semi-retired stock broker from LA. The beginning of the story introduces us to his rather mundane and repetitive lifestyle which is organised and coordinated by his army of paid workers, namely Sylvia the Nutritionist, Cecelia the House Keeper and also a personal trainer, Novak’s only social connections that decide what is best for him on all accounts. With his healthy, low carb meals organised and his housekeeping tended to Novak does not have any immediate need to venture into the outside world, infact he has unknowingly not left the house for nearly a month, that is until one morning when his life takes an unexpected turn.

Novak one day finds himself in excruciating pain, he cannot explain for how long, all he knows is that the pain is on a scale of 10 out of 10.

Hours at least. But it could be for days or years – he had no idea.

Novak has sustained no injury and it feels like it is “IT” the end game, while we as the reader are thrown into the deep end trying to fathom, is he having a heart attack? Dying? Panic attack? Or perhaps merely a hypochondriac who often has behavioral episodes of a similar nature, as we do not yet know the character that is Richard Novak and nor do we know his background and character history. On the same day the pain appears, (the pain that is never truly explained by the medical physicians in the story) a sink hole appears about fifty feet from his house, it is eight feet in diameter and continues to grow as the story progresses. I personally interpret this sinkhole to represent the void in Novak’s life, the emptiness that has slowly became his existence as he has purposely removed himself from the world and any obligations he once had.  The pain he was experiencing may reflect the pent up emotion that had been unleashed, after being numb for as long as he can remember.

He lay there realizing how thoroughly he’d removed himself from the world or obligations, how stupidly independent he’d become: he needed no one, was not a part of anyone’s life.

He wasn’t sure he existed.

It is the realization of being alone that begins to smother Novak. He becomes conscious of the fact that he has no one to call apart from his ex wife or a son, whom he barely sees. It is when he is being escorted home by a hospital organised taxi driver that he steps outside his usual routine and asks to pull over at a Doughnut store, where he then meets another influential character in the story, Anhil, who is the first person Novak has held a conversation with in a long, long time. The story continues from here to lead us through the transformation of Novak’s hermit lifestyle to a new and exciting beginning. We see the caring side to Richard that is there from the start, but hidden under his inability to “live” his life. We experience the crazy events that unfold on a day to day basis as Novak simply goes from A to B while introducing the sugary sweet doughnuts from Anhil’s shop to his glorified junk food free body.

We also meet a depressed housewife who Novak befriends in the produce section at a store called Ralph’s.

I was crying because my life sucks, and he’d just been hit by a car and had a big bag of ice on his leg. I made him buy a Carvel cake.

A movie star that lives up the road, who helps Novak rescue a horse out of the sink hole. a famous writer, and many more characters that help transform this wonderful characters life.

The characters are all living somewhat lost, sad, unfulfilled or lonely lifestyles however they all come from different walks of life. Despite being wealthy, Richard Novak is far from content, it just took a long time for him to realise that. The pain was more of a wake up call, a cry for help. His body was aching for human contact and a sense of belonging. A person can have all the money in the world, but if there is no one to share it with, or nothing left to achieve, is that person going to be happy?

The structure of the story is untraditional and unpredictable. It is not a case of “Will the lost boy find his way home? Will they find the culprit?” Or “Will Mrs Smith find her true love?”…the story progresses gradually with random occurrences which are unexpected and at the same time wonderfully unique.The characters nonchalant attitudes to the most fantastically unusual events would usually be somewhat unbelievable, however A.M Homes has superbly perfected her story to portray the reactions and events in a convincing tone.  The book is sharp, witty, entertaining and most definitely funny. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and wish I could read more, and experience some of the crazy events that unfolded when Novak gave life a chance.

This Book Will Save your Life by A. M. Homes will captivate your imagination and provide you with hours of entertainment! Read the book and join Richard Novak in his life transformation and re-connection to society in the weird and wonderful world of LA. For the most authentic experience, don’t forget the doughnuts!

In reference to the title, if you are currently feeling isolated, disconnected and alone, yes this book may help open your eyes to new experiences and face the unknown, if you give it a chance. Homes will lead you part the way there in the footsteps of Novak, but it is you that must take the final steps and open that door.