Articles in Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A House in Bali by Colin McPhee

By Ian Browne

A House in Bali by Colin McPhee

Bali, what an island! I used to travel to this Hindu paradise from Darwin, but I never wrote about the place. Instead, I used Ubud and Amed as a hideaway to unwind from a busy work- life back home in even hotter Darwin. I also made friends with families, and was lucky in being welcomed to travel out to forest family abodes, those happy homes away from the usual tourist traps. But many years before myself, or even the cast from Morning of the Earth surfed their way around the island, Colin McPhee pondered life there.





The Man Booker Prize and Prime Minister’s Choice awards 2014, this moves between Pre-WWII and the horrors of the Thai-Burma Railway, and just when you think you have all that worked that out, it moves on into the future within an unchallenged wind of memories and sourest of impacts. To dust off the essence of mothballs-to catch hold of an era, a full day on the railway with its foul torments, this fragility in humanity with its boldest of endurances is something all Australians should witness. Perhaps not since ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ has such a vivid description of war’s senselessness, giving meaning to its brutality.

Here stands a hero-less, no bollocks account of humanity at its strug- gling Ying & Yang best. Through its intense depravity is the enormity of the human spirit, such an honest emotion- where through the suffering remains a desire to hold onto the Australian life that was theirs before the treachery of war. The journey through post-war Japan too is intriguing.

At one stage my head felt like it was going to explode, and not from rage, but from something that my background in biology could possibly explain-but is best left to that unsorted realm. On another page in another chapter, tears fell as I sat in a Japanese friend’s outdoor café, and not from sadness, but from the honour in forgiveness a Greek Australian gestured to his fellow Australians when returning from the malice of Thailand. He writes so very well this R. Flanagan. 

Ian Browne

'Storyteller' - By Zoe Daniel

'Storyteller' - By Zoe Daniel


If you have read my story on Burma then you will understand my respect for this lady. ‘A foreign correspondent’s memoir’: breathing in the steamy streets and tropical landscapes of south-east Asia, while snuggling up to her juxtapose existence in clean air-kookaburra Australia, Zoe describes the highs and lows of life on the a busy journalistic sense that is. I told her at Christmas that I felt like a part of the family now; she leaves no pebble unturned, raw emotion, her passion for Asia, for life, her deeply felt sorrows, and the challenges of being a loving mother in a busy, at times dangerous professional world. Zoe is an inspiring journalist and human being, this story is well written and colourfully descriptive.

Discover Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya in Burma, the conjoined twins in India, the perils of the monsoon in Laos and the Philippines, life on the streets of Phnom Pen and Bangkok; if you haven’t yet travelled off the beaten track in Asia then this story will take you there.



1001 Ways to Save the World

Book Review - Charlotte's Parlour

1001 Ways to Save the World


This little book is jam packed full of fun and functional ways to do your bit to save our planet.

There are heaps of great ideas to keep the kids happy, whilst also teaching them sustainable living can be fun!

With handy hints on utilising ordinary kitchen pantry basics for cleaning and cosmetics, keeping the kids entertained, upcycling, gardening and much, much more, this little book is sure to inspire.

Open any page and you will find a handy hint to help you save the planet!

Available now for $19.95.

So pop into the Parlour for books like this, clothes and gifts and much more.

Charlotte xx 

Charlotte’s Parlour
Shop 2, Station St
Ph: 6687 2828 

"Narrating the weed garden a painted herbarium", by Shelagh Morgan #258

If you want a visually delightful and interesting read, please try a copy of:

Shelagh set out to document, in a quasi botanical illustrator manner, all the weeds growing on her property in the Byron hinterland, northern NSW. The result is a delightful look at some of the plants that we usually don’t appreciate in our gardens! The book is on sale at the Barratt Gallery in Alstonville.

"The Prez" By David Spiteri #274

 ‘’The Prez” by David Spiteri

‘Shovelling shit is no way to spend a Saturday morning, but that’s what Peter Winifred and his mate Brian Corrigan did when they were twelve’. And so, David Spiteri, long time Rosebank resident, begins his story about the formation of one of the first outlaw motorcycle clubs in Australia. Peter, known as Winnie, and Brian are already enterprising in their ability to make a few dollars collecting manure and selling it door to door to their neighbours. Little did they know then that in the not too distant future they would stop peddling manure and start distributing a different sort of shit, making more money than they could have possibly imagined. Big Kev and Ocker would join Winnie and Brian to become founding members of The Miners, one of the first outlaw motorcycle gangs in the country.

‘The Prez’’ charts the club’s growth from the early 60’s through to the mid 80’s. David’s down to earth, conversational prose paints lives where frequent, explicit sexual encounters, episodes of extreme violence and regular drug use was the norm. It also traces the beginnings of the now infamous and well documented links with the illegal drug industry.

There appears to be no shortage of women up for group sex in the bikie world. When a couple of off duty nurses accept an offer to visit the clubhouse with Winnie and Big Kev, Winnie assures them that the only thing that might happen to them that they won’t like is perhaps losing a game of pool. Despite this surfeit of female flesh, they mostly seem to settle down with one regular woman and interestingly their regular women for the most part don’t seem too bothered by their infidelities – or perhaps it’s an ‘’out of sight out of mind’’ thing.

While true stories of bikies and their clubs have been popular for years, this is the first one (as far as I’m aware) written by a former president and as such was a risky undertaking in many ways. David says that while recovering from an accident some years ago, well-meaning friends gave him some of these bikie books to read, none of which rang true so he decided to tell it how it how it really was. Of course all of the names and locations have been changed, for obvious reasons – but all events in the book are real.

Some of the violence is hard to read. There’s one scene involving socks and a blow torch that had me squirming. And if you’re looking for political correctness you best look elsewhere. One memorable party scene has a dwarf balancing a tray of cocaine on his head while muttering ‘’The pay’s good.”

What is apparent is that there is a strong code of behaviour that exists in outlaw motorcycle clubs. Winnie and the others formulate the rules for their club early on in the book. Loyalty to the club is paramount – with only loyalty to family more important. In this way, Winnie says, the club becomes family. How this loyalty is demonstrated and how retribution is delivered when loyalty goes astray kept me turning the pages.

By Lea Wilson

Purchase a copy from The Book Warehouse, tell them that you read the review in the Village Journal and go in the draw to win a $30 voucher.

"Stoker Munro Survivor" by David Spiteri

‘The Japanese commandant came out to address us; he told us we were going to heaven.  I thought, I’ll know the difference, as I’ve already been to hell.’

Stoker Munro was only seventeen when he went to war.  Over the next few years he survived the unimaginable, including the sinking of the HMAS Perth in 1942, imprisonment in Changi and the living hell of the Thai- Burma Railway.  The atrocities and deprivation came thick and fast, yet Stoker, like lots of men of his generation, was a bloke not given to talking about his experiences.

Over time, local writer, David Spiteri persuaded Stoker to tell his story.  A former sailor himself, they had shared a few stories and drinks at the local club for over twenty five years, yet David had no idea of Stoker’s extraordinary history until a mutual friend mentioned it. 

What becomes obvious in the telling of Stoker’s story is that through all the horror; firm friendships, loyalty to mates and humour became the tools of resilience for this generation of men.

In a tale, simply told, David Spiteri invokes another world and another time.  Stoker Munro was a boy who went to war and returned a hero, although he certainly didn’t consider himself to be one.  By recording Stoker’s story, David has added another dimension to our understanding of the trauma of war.

By Lea Wilson
– The Book Warehouse, Lismore


Be the first to bring a copy of this review and receive a free copy of ‘Stoker Munro Survivor’.

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