All posts filed under: Reviews

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 …

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: www.twitter.com/GelaMarie_ …

Making Music from Recycled Garbage

Each day in the town of Cateura, Paraguay, garbage collectors swarm like flies around fresh loads of dumped trash looking for goods to sell. Established on landfill, the town is a dangerous place to raise children who are at risk of being enticed into dealing in drugs and joining gangs. As a deterrent, orchestra director Szaran and music teacher Fabio decided to set up a music program. However, the number of children who wanted to join the program far outnumbered the available instruments. That soon changed when Szaran and Fabio were brought a violin made out of discarded materials. As time passed and the idea of making instruments from trash caught on, The Recycled Orchestra was formed. An upcoming film, ‘Landfill Harmonic’, to be released in 2014, captures the creativity of the human soul and the determination to transform other people’s trash into beautiful sounding musical instruments played by children. Like Landfill Harmonic on Facebook    

Paradise found at Amber Valley

Where else in the world, I think as I observe seven warthog, blesbuck, impala and zebra grazing contentedly on the banks of someone’s lawn. I am in Amber Valley, one of a series of retirement complexes situated in lush former farmland overlooking the Umgeni Valley, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. At least 700 homes make up the estate which features a heated swimming pool, an adjacent 25m pool, tennis courts, a bowling green, club house and frail care centre. The centre bears no resemblance to the standard grey laminate/hospital fare associated with retirement. Instead, it is graciously decorated with colonial comfort – florals, comfortable wide wicker chairs – the walls adorned with botanical prints and tasteful African scenes. As retirement estates goes, it is paradise found. The club house overlooks a dam fed by a freshwater stream – otters often cavort as if to give a show to the oldies looking on. Egyptian geese are raising goslings – a troublesome task when legavaan keep stealing their young. The old boys have been watching and there is now …

The Intouchables

One of my favourite movies of the year, The Intouchables tells the story of a wealthy aristocrat quadriplegic who hires the services of a young, seemingly inappropriate young carer from the wrong side of the tracks. Brazenly flouting politically correct protocol, the previously unemployed and inexperienced carer proves a tonic for his patient. Through his unorthodox methods, he opens his eyes to a world he thought he could no longer be a part of. An unlikely bond is formed by the two and through a series of often amusing, often heart-warming episodes; they embark on a heart-warming journey, each learning valuable life lessons from the other. The movie is based on a true story which makes it all the more appealing. Don’t miss it. The Intouchables is a French sub-titled film. Directors:  Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano Writers:  Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano Stars: François Cluzet and Omar Sy

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

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 …

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, …

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 …

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. 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 …