Aussie, actually now in Kindle and Audible version

South African born, Lois Nicholls and her daughter Lara, have produced a book on the trials and tribulations of migrating to Australia from South Africa.

Called Aussie, actually, the book is an honest and humorous account of life as new Australians. “My intention was to relay our 12-year sojourn through a series of thoughts and anecdotes to help other migrants realise they are not alone.

People often assume the transition from one country to another is seamless, but there are many difficulties one encounters along the way. There are also many humorous episodes when misunderstanding language or cultural norms.
My Boston-born American sister-in-law lived in Australia for three years before returning to Los Angeles and found some of the Australian quirks very amusing. She couldn’t believe, for example, that people actually froze their chicken carcasses in summer so they didn’t propagate a bin full of maggots!” says Lois.
Lara illustrated each chapter with cartoons after she was given a brief outline of the content.“I’ve always loved drawing so my mum asked me to have a go at sketching some cartoons. It was great fun coming up with different drawings and I really enjoyed seeing my pictures when the book was printed.” says Lara.
Aussie, actually also captures the heartache of leaving familiar surroundings, family and friends to make a new start in a foreign country. Written from Lois’s personal perception as a young migrant wife and mother, it tells the warts and all story of the family’s journey.

“Some may say it’s too honest but from the feedback I’ve received so far, people have found it funny and poignant. Migrants of all nationalities have said they relate to the struggles and triumphs. They say they appreciate the honesty as so many people don’t speak about their tribulations – they put on a brave face.” says Lois.

A NEW updated eBook edition with five extra chapters, is now available on Amazon.

It’s also available on

Aussie, actually, was originally published by Impact Unlimited Books in Australia in 2008 –

Green Vanilla Tea

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA―This is a true, heart-wrenching and authentic account of life, marriage, raising sons and facing the reality that a young husband and father is dying. Marie Williams takes the reader on a reflective journey through the memorable times she and her husband spent together – during their courtship years, as a young close-knit family raising two sons and how they practically coped over the final months when Dominique’s body started to ‘shut down’ as a result of early onset dementia.

It’s raw and sad … so sad. But it’s the kind of book that makes you appreciate that LIFE, no matter how long we’re given, is a gift we should always treasure.

Amazon says, ‘Marie Williams has worked as a clinical social worker in health settings, non-profit sectors, clinical education, and private practice. She is also an artist and believes in the power of creativity and story to transform. The Australian edition of Williams’ book, Green Vanilla Tea won the national Finch Memoir Prize in 2013. Williams lives in Brisbane, Australia.’ 

Connect with Marie:

Early onset Alzheimer’s fictional story, ‘Still Alice’ insightful

New York Times Bestselling author of ‘Still Alice’, Lisa Genova

Forgetting the odd word or where we left our keys is forgivable but what if this persists down a more sinister lane and we start forgetting how to get home or who we met yesterday.

This is what Alice Howland faces when this Harvard professor starts slowly losing her mind. So applauded for her academic prowess, she starts forgetting words mid-sentence during lectures she’s delivered umpteen times.

The spiral is slow and insidious and she at first dismisses the lapses but when she’s unable to find her way home after a routine run, she realises something is seriously wrong.

The prognosis is not good. Alice has early onset Alzheimer’s disease which is cruelly robbing her of the intellect on which she has built her career and persona.

But far from being depressing, the reader is led through Alice’s journey through Alice’s eyes. She has to re-evaluate her relationship with her husband, her three children and where she now stands in this emerging new world.

Still Alice is a moving, insightful read which while it puts fear and dread into those of us forgetting where we put our mobile phone, car keys and reading glasses, gives a gentle landing and the realisation that each day is truly a gift.


Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.

A fun video clip with her son!

Papa Spyk Recalls Colourful Life Journey in A Naughty Thing called Life

Brighton, United Kingdom – New book chronicles Papa Spyk’s life and how it was turned around after suffering a near death experience.

Sometimes all it takes is one dramatic event to be the catalyst for change. Author Papa Spyk takes readers on a nostalgic road down memory lane highlighting the shocking events that led to the turnaround.

His book, A Naughty Thing called Life’ captures the story behind the ex professional rugby player, top international model, Hollywood actor and stuntman. Born in the Sixties, he describes himself as ‘an overly intelligent child, trapped in a hopelessly dysfunctional world’.

He  lived an incredibly colourful and intense life ‘on the edge’ until he suffered a near death experience in his late Thirties when his aorta literally ‘exploded’ in half. The near fatal incident was the result of years of steroid and recreational drug abuse which  created a lethal cocktail. He survived, but was told  he would be a paraplegic and never be able to father a child or live a normal life.

Through his loving family and close friends, however, he reignited the will to live an abundant life. His sheer gutsy determination and fight to succeed resulted in him learning to walk again. He also fathered a child –  his very own little angel  ‘saving grace’ and ‘love of his life’,  Angelyna.

A Naughty Thing called Life is an honest account of  Papa Spyk’s experience, and while a riveting read, he hopes his story will help make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s about the courage to love and be loved and how restoration is possible, in spite of journeying to hell and back.

For more information:

Book orders –

YouTube Book Promo

Papa Spyk features on JN’s ‘Off the Cuff’

New book offers lifeline for parents of sick children

HAVING A CHILD HOSPITALISED can be traumatic for both child and parents.

Brisbane mother of four, Becky Wauchope has drawn on her experience with her son’s lengthy hospital stays, to write a book that helps ease the journey for both parents and child.

Aptly called Help! My Child’s in Hospital, the cleverly illustrated book is based on Becky’s experience with her youngest son, Gus and how she coped with his endless hospital stints. Gus, now a healthy 12-year-old, was two when diagnosed with a form of tuberculosis called atypical mycobacterium – extremely rare in children. The condition caused the rapid growth of a large benign mass/tumour between his lung and heart.

The family was living in the UK at the time of diagnosis and Becky was forced to stay behind while Gus endured endless treatments and the rest of the family left for Australia. 

“I was told we couldn’t leave for our Australian emigration and that Gus would remain in hospital for a while, as something was very wrong with his breathing and they needed to find out what it was before he could safely fly. I felt as though my world had turned upside down!” recalled Becky.

Gus visited a total of five different hospitals over a gruelling three years, experienced 18 general anaesthetics and a year of invasive drug therapy. Through this experience, Becky was able to observe different hospitals, their facilities and depth of care. Gleaning from her own UK Nursery Nurse training, and her intrinsic motherly instincts, she became increasingly adept at preparing Gus for his next visit and all the ensuing treatments.

“I had to learn very quickly how to cope, how best to love and protect my child in this new environment and how to work alongside all the medical staff,” she said.

Becky also noted first-hand the struggles experienced by families coping with very sick children and was able to offer empathy and compassion. The book, Help! My Child’s in Hospital is a progression of that empathy. It offers a plethora of practical, well researched advice on how to cope. 

In essence, it is a lifeline and timely survival guide for parents facing their child’s hospitalisation. It is also a helpful resource for childcare centres and kindergartens and for any families with young children. 

“You never know when you’ll end up in hospital with your child and in a time of uncertainty, stress and possible trauma, it’s so important to be prepared, calm and in control,” said Becky.

Help, My Child’s in Hospital is available in good bookstores (RRP $14.99), online at and in E-book format.

The Elephant Whisperer

An old friend kept telling me to read this book as not only was she captivated by the tale of a passionate conservationist taming a herd of rogue elephants, but the vivid picture of the bush setting had reignited a deep desire to return to her Zululand roots.

And then the connection was made. The author, Lawrence Anthony was the son of the iconic Zululand Observer editor, Reg Anthony. My first job was as a fledgling reporter with the newspaper in Empangeni.  The co-author, Graham Spence had worked for the same newspaper group in another lifetime.

Photo credit:

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Elephant Whisperer and was enthralled from the first chapter.

The story, in essence, is about the incredible relationship Lawrence forges with a herd of rogue elephants destined to be shot if he doesn’t agree to take them on. As the owner of Zululand’s Thula Thula game reserve, against all common sense and in true Lawrence style, he tackles the challenge head on.

And what a challenge it is. These magnificent creatures have been maltreated and it becomes increasingly evident that an elephant, indeed, never forgets. Their trust in man has been severely compromised. It takes sheer perseverance and incredible patience, love and understanding for Anthony to build their trust – even sleeping near their enclosure to get them accustomed to his presence.

The journey is a tough one. Try capturing seven dangerous and unpredictable elephants who have managed to break the circuit in an electric fence and facing locals itching to simply shoot the magnificent creatures.

But he persists and against all odds, manages to gain their trust and persuades them to make the reserve their home. Along the way, we are privy to the tough environment he is working in, the intricacies of appeasing tribal leaders and the ongoing battle against poachers.  There is an insight into the commitment of his faithful staff and their deep love for the animals.  Then there is his French wife Francoise and her long-suffering attitude which includes seeing her prized herb garden flattened by the herd.

Readers are also given a captivating glimpse of the beauty and enchantment of the Zululand bush and the richness and diversity of its landscape and the creatures that inhabit the vast reserve.

A magnificent read.   My only regret is that I didn’t come to know of Lawrence Anthony and his courageous conservation efforts sooner. Tragically, he died a few weeks prior to my discovering the book which made the read even more poignant.

What a legacy he has left.

The Elephant Whisperer

By Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence

Published by Pan Books

*Also check out Babylon’s Ark, the incredible wartime rescue of the Baghdad Zoo.


Water for Elephants

Jacob’s life seems laid out before him – he will shortly complete his veterinary studies and join his father in his veterinary practise.

Just prior to his final exam, however, life takes a cruel turn and both parents are killed in a car accident. To compound matters, it turns out that his kind-hearted father was not as financially sound as thought, and appears to have wavered fees for clients battling in the Great Depression of the 1930’s. He has also likely used all his savings to put his son through university.

Suddenly homeless and without financial security, Jacob runs away – inadvertently, to the circus. In a state of extreme anguish, he hitches a ride on a train that turns out to be a travelling circus. He soon realises this is one train journey he would rather not have taken.

He enters a world that while sequined, glamorous and filled with pageantry on the outside, is dark, sordid and unspeakably cruel behind the façade of the Big Top.

It is a world where only the fittest survive and Jacob saves his skin by acquiring the position of circus vet. The down side is that he wins the attention of the schizophrenic ringmaster, August who is married to the beautiful, fragile horsewoman, Marlena.

Jacob’s progressive attraction to Marlena puts him at risk of a deadly retribution from both Uncle Al, the circus owner and the volatile, unstable August.

Poignantly woven into the story is Jacob’s relationship with the circus animals – notably the newly acquired elephant, Rosie, who suffers endless cruelty at the hands of an increasingly psychotic August.

Love ultimately triumphs and there is also a delicious, final retribution for August when Rosie reminds us that elephants truly never forget.

The story is splendidly told and gives a well researched insight into circuses of the Great Depression. I also love the way the author repeatedly swaps to the present day where Jacob is now an elderly man.

The reader is taken on a rich, captivating journey throughout and there is a delightful twist to the story even right at the very end.

A wonderful read – I just hope the movie manages to do it justice.

Water for elephants
By Sara Gruen
Published by Algonquin Books

A beginner’s guide to dying in India

Levi’s house burns down, his fiancé dumps him for the nunnery and he gets fired from his job – all in quick succession.

When his long lost brother requests that he join him in India post-haste, he does so without hesitation – he doesn’t have a lot going for him back home and the adventure sounds rather enticing.

It soon becomes clear that the trip is not to be a relaxing holiday. As it turns out, his brother is gravely ill – dying, in fact. He dies shortly after Levi’s arrival and bequeaths his somewhat surprisingly substantial estate to his younger brother – Levi. Claiming the money is not that simple, however, and Levi must unravel his brother’s diary and set off on a journey through India to ultimately lay his hands on the prize.

The journey and convoluted, cryptic trail leading to the ample contents of his will, is presumably to teach Levi invaluable life lessons his older brother learnt during his own life journey. Some intriguing characters along the way – and the pursuit of a rather sinister character intent on sharing the spoils, adds enough suspense to keep the reader hooked.

The book also gave a colourful and insightful glimpse of the vibrant pulse of India – a fascinating aside. This newly published Australian author certainly knows how to spin a yarn.

Watch this space…

A beginner’s guide to dying in India
By J.M. Donellan
Published by Interactive Press
ISBN 1921479302
EAN: 9781921479304

Bendable Learnings: The Wisdom of Modern Management

Don Watson's new book, 'Bendable Learnings'A worthwhile read this Christmas is Don Watson’s book, BENDABLE LEARNINGS: THE WISDOM OF MODERN MANAGEMENT.

‘Watson returns to his study of management language: the non-language that began in management theory and spread like an ineradicable weed into politics, the civil service, hospitals and classrooms.’

If you’re accustomed to management language or operate in the business consulting space, this book is guaranteed to make you cringe. Why? Because we’ve all fallen prey to ‘drivel’ now and then!