This was a very easy category for me to decide as two books immediately came to mind – both have left a lasting impression – their stories poignant and engaging. In no particular order, my favourite non fiction reads/listens of 2018 are:
On the 2nd of September this year we celebrate Fathers Day in Australia. It is a day for people to show their appreciation for fathers and father figures. Is there a special person in your life that you know would appreciate a story of “a grandson’s story of an ordinary man’s war…. an incredible tale of survival and the indomitable Aussie spirit”?
I have 2 copies of this heroic narrative to give away. It easy to enter, you must be an Australian resident and in the comments section on this post tell me the last book by Hachette you read or that want to read. Entries close on the 24th of August 2018. https://www.hachette.com.au/hachette-australia/
***Winners have been notified** Books will be posted this week.
The Bulldog Track
This is the story of Tom Phelps and the ‘other Kokoda Track’. Seventy-five years later, Tom’s grandson, award-winning actor and writer Peter Phelps, is sharing this inspiring tale of resilience and survival.
March 1942: The world is at war. Too old to fight and with jobs scarce at home, Tom Phelps found work as a carpenter in the goldfields of the New Guinea Highlands. No one expected the Japanese to attack in the Pacific. But they did.
Tom and his mates weren’t going to hang around and wait to be killed. With escape routes bombed by the Japanese, their only option was to try to reach safety by foot, through some of the most rugged terrain on Earth – the Bulldog Track.
Back home in Sydney, Rose Phelps, their son, George, and three daughters, Joy, Shirley and Ann, waited for news of Tom’s fate. George watched the horrors of war unfold on newsreels knowing his dad was ‘over there’.
Travelling by foot, raft, canoe, schooner, train, luck and courage, Tom Phelps, half-starved and suffering malaria, would eventually make it home. His stories of New Guinea would lead his son and grandson to their own experiences with the country.
The Bulldog Track is a grandson’s story of an ordinary man’s war. It is an incredible tale of survival and the indomitable Aussie spirit.
It has been a great year for Aussie authors and readers alike. Here is guest reviewer Brenda’s Top Ten picks of 2016. In no particularly order ( click on links to see Brenda’s reviews on Goodreads.)
The Last Crocodile Hunter
Bob Irwin and Amanda French
The Chocolate Tin
The Art of Keeping Secrets
The Wife’s Tale
The Game You Played
Thanks Brenda, there have been some awesome books written by Australian authors this year, it must have been a real task to choose just ten.
Here it is December 2016 already. I cant believe it – this year has flown by, life has been busy; a grandson was born and he is now 8 months old. Recipes have been tried and tested and many books have been read and reviewed – around the one hundred seventy mark thus far.
I am enjoying sharing the joy of reading with my grandson (with appropriate titles) – it is never too early to encourage a love of reading.
Recently I invited a couple of ardent readers to share some of their favoruite reads on my site – to broaden the type of book reviews available here. I hope you find some new favourite books and authors. Thank you Bec and Brenda.
The reading year has not yet wound up – there is a blog tour ahead; the launch of Rachel Amphlett’s new police procedural series, Scared to Death. There is a Q & A with debut Perth writer Anthea Hodgson, a Christmas menu to compile and share and a series of “best of 2016 reads” for you to comment on and…more reviews.
Seasons greetings to you.
“Anyone who has ever heard of Steve Irwin should read (this).”
The Last Crocodile Hunter: A Father & Son Legacy
Bob Irwin with Amanda French
Allen & Unwin AU
‘When the world lost Steve, the animals lost the best friend they ever had, and so did I. But he’s still here with me and knowing that means that I am able to gain strength from him, and harness the same passion and drive that he and I both had together. There are so many people who have been inspired and are still being inspired by Steve Irwin and that makes me feel really, really proud.’ – Bob Irwin
Bob Irwin grew up in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia, where his passion for wildlife and its environment was born. A near-death experience while working as a plumber made Bob realise he needed to follow his dreams, so he and his wife Lyn uprooted their young family and moved to Queensland where they opened a Reptile and Fauna Park on the Sunshine Coast.
Bob’s passion for reptiles grew with his ever expanding collection and he soon became involved with various venom labs, for which he would catch the snakes that were later milked for the production of life-saving anti-venom. Growing up within the Beerwah Reptile & Wildlife Park, and with Lyn caring for orphaned wildlife at home, passion for the environment and all animals was a way of life for the Irwin children. This unique upbringing had a profound impact on his son Steve, who followed in his father’s footsteps and along the way became famous around the world as educator and wildlife warrior, the Crocodile Hunter.
Bob nearly didn’t survive the sudden death of his adored wife Lyn, and could have gone under again when a routine filming session for Steve’s TV show ended in his tragic death in 2006 at the age of 44. In each instance was the natural world and the animals within it which helped Bob to keep going, and since then he has continued to fight for his beloved Steve’s legacy of protecting the wildlife, environment and planet on which our own survival depends.
Entertaining, moving, impassioned and inspiring, The Last Crocodile Hunter goes to the heart and soul of a great Australian character, father and fighter, and raises issues that are crucial to us all.
The Dandenong Ranges in Victoria was where Bob Irwin grew up, and his love of the Australian wildlife and surrounding bush was in him from a very young age. As the years passed, Bob became a plumber and worked with his father. But eventually Bob knew he was no longer happy in his job, so after much discussion with his wife Lyn, in late 1972 they headed for Queensland with the children. The Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park began on just three and a half acres of land; the hard work was done by the family as they slowly built it to where it could be opened to the public. The family survived on the bare minimum as neither Lyn nor Bob had an income, but they had a passionate vision of the future.
Bob and Lyn’s three children, Joy, Steve and Mandy, all shared their parents’ love of wildlife and conservation, but Steve was a sponge, soaking up everything his father taught him and always wanting more. Bob took Steve on his camping trips when they were contracted to remove crocodiles from particular creeks and rivers – Steve loved it. The two of them had a unique relationship; not just father and son, they were best mates as well.
As the Park expanded Australia Zoo was born – Steve’s famous Crocoseum became a world-wide attraction. But all the while, the animals were the top priority – teaching humans about the lives and habitats of the wild animals we live with was Steve and Bob’s ultimate goal. And they made a difference…
The Last Crocodile Hunter is the most comprehensive, interesting and heart wrenching memoir I have ever read. Emotional, profound and deeply moving, Bob Irwin’s words and memories have come to life with the help of Amanda French, who travelled with Bob throughout the outback, visiting old sites he had been to with Steve, chatting and imparting it all around the campfire. A quiet man, never one for the spotlight, son Steve was the complete opposite – they complemented each other well. Now seventy seven years of age, Bob Irwin continues his fight to preserve the legacy left by Steve for the well-being of our planet, the environment but mostly for the animals on it. The Last Crocodile Hunter is a memoir I highly recommend, and one I feel anyone who has ever heard of Steve Irwin should read. I very much enjoyed this 5 star read.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.
Fleetwood Mac The Complete Illustrated History
From this British-American band’s blues origins in the 1960s to its pop superstardom in the 1970s and 1980s to its 2015 reunion, Fleetwood Mac has endeared itself to audiences worldwide. Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History covers the band’s illustrious career, highlighting details that will surprise even the most loyal fans. With a career that began nearly fifty years ago and yielded seventeen studio albums, Fleetwood Mac has had a rollercoaster career, detailed here through a carefully researched text and myriad photographs and memorabilia, including some rare and little-seen items.
The band’s most popular line-up includes drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie, guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, and singer Stevie Nicks, but its members have shifted over the years since Fleetwood Mac began in 1967. And although the band’s superstar phase in the 1970s is most familiar to the public, Fleetwood Mac’s roots were in the blues, and the band evolved in fits and starts before finding popular success. Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History documents their entire story, including the troubled circumstances that led to the 1970 withdrawal of the band’s original guitarist, Peter Green, as well as the broken marriage of John and Christine McVie and the romantic breakup of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham that threatened to split the group even as they were recording one of the biggest albums of all time, Rumours. This is the whole story of one of rock and roll’s greatest bands.
Now this is how the history of a musician/rock band should be written and presented! Others take note, this is a joy to look at, to read, to own.
One of the very first albums I bought as a teenager was Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, what an album! It still holds its own today – and I must dig it out and get the record player working ( or buy the digital version, which may be easier) J This book holds so much history – I never realised that there were so many versions of the band or styles of music and albums before Rumours…
Let’s talk photographs/images – they are superb! The quality of the prints, the access to material; the posters advertising concerts, the album covers (and the wonderful “Selective Discography” at the back of the book complete with album covers), the shots taken during concerts, recording sessions…the playfulness, the colour, the fashion…this book has it all.
Informative, spectacular and a treat to hold – this book is a great one for the fans or as a coffee table book.
The Age of Bowie
Simon & Schuster
Respected arts commentator Paul Morley, one of the team who curated the highly successful retrospective exhibition for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is . . . constructs the definitive story of Bowie that explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, invented the future and entered history as someone who could and would never be forgotten. Morley will capture the greatest moments of Bowie’s career; from the recording studio with the likes of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti; to iconic live performances from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as well as the various encounters and artistic relationships he developed with rock luminaries John Lennon, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. And of course, discuss in detail his much-heralded, and critically-acclaimed comeback with the release of Black Star just days before his shocking death in New York.
Morley will offer a startling biographical critique of David Bowie’s legacy, showing how he never stayed still even when he withdrew from the spotlight, how he always knew his own worth, and released a dazzling plethora of mobile Bowies into the world with a bloody-minded determination and a voluptuous imagination to create something amazing that was not there before.
The introduction captures the essence of being a teenager and discovering music in the early 70’s – music that influenced society, fashion, language, tv programming, family interaction…such a powerful seductive influence. I also appreciated the lists – of albums and at the end of the book a chronological list of David Bowie’s life- major events and achievements. I also liked the list of Bowie’s favourite 100 books.
We (the reader, the fan) have our own memories of Bowie, this is Paul Morley’s memory, his fan moment – it did not feel like it was written for the general public but for Paul himself to pay tribute to a musician he so obviously adored. His fan boy moment. Too gushy, to…too much. I felt like I was intruding.
The use of He….I found this devise irritating…”He is moving from the pubs and clubs into theatres…He is afraid to fly….He is swanning around America… (p.260).
And although this is nothing to do with the actual writing of the memoir – I intensely disliked the tissue thin paper this book was printed on, paper that yellowed within weeks of this book arriving on my desk.
Just my opinion I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.