14 Feb 2017
in Book Review
Tags: 2016, 2016 australian federal election, 2016 election, Australia, australian, australian politics, bad coffee, book, books, clever, commentary, diarised accounts, divorce, educational, election, entertaining, entertaining yarns, federal election, funny, funny asides, gonzo journalism, heartbreak & chaos on the campaign trail, heartbreak and chaos on the campaign trail, highways, informative, intelligent, lee zachariah, marriage break-up, marriage breakup, memoir, nick xenophon, nick xenophon party, not comprehensive, not deep, perspectives, political analysis, political commentary, politics, pop culture, review, reviews, sarah hanson-young, vice magazine, well-put, witty, writer
The combination of a political analysis and a memoir about the dissolution of a marriage could be considered similar to oil and water. But in the hands of Australian author, Lee Zachariah, this book is quite a funny and rather seamless slice of gonzo journalism. Zachariah draws parallels between the Liberal party’s entry into office in 2013 and his marriage to his girlfriend as well as the aftermath of 2016, which saw Australians starring down the barrel of an uncertain election and Zachariah also facing an ambiguous future with respect to his relationship and life in general.
Double Dissolution is based around Zachariah’s series of articles for Vice Magazine about the 2016 Election, although none of his pieces are included here. Instead, diarised accounts of the highways, bad coffee and campaign bus are included as well as vox pops and interviews with volunteers, voters and politicians like: Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young and senator and leader of his own political party, Nick Xenophon. This book is pitched at all readers with political fans being able to enjoy the commentary while those less enamoured with politics can at least get enough context to understand Zachariah’s perspectives and encounters with those vying for power. Zachariah does a fabulous job of this, providing just enough information to be educational while never being dry or boring.
Some of the funniest parts of this book are Zachariah’s little asides and extra thoughts that can be found in the footnotes. He draws parallels between what is transpiring before him and various slices of pop culture. These links are never forced or tenuous. Zachariah has previously cut his teeth on TV shows like The Chaser’s Hamster Wheel and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell and he certainly knows how to craft and tell an entertaining yarn or ten.
Double Dissolution is not the most deep or comprehensive look at Australian politics or the 2016 federal election and nor does it purport to be. Instead it is perhaps the most entertaining look at these topics. Zachariah is an interesting, gonzo character and his perspectives and commentary are quite intelligent and well-put. Perhaps this foray onto the campaign trail will see Zachariah run for office some day? Because as this book proves, he can’t be as bad as what we’ve previously had!
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a Bookstr giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.bookstr.com/book/double-dissolution/10478633/
22 Jan 2017
in DVD Review
Tags: 6 part, artisan bee-keeping, Australia, bush tucker, calm, chef, coastal kitchen, coastal living, cooking, cooking demonstrations, cooking demos, dvd, dvds, entertaining, enthusiastic interviewer, fillet fish, fishing, food, food for health, food series, foodie, from sri lanka, glasshouse mountains, gympie, indigenous food, kenilworth, kin kin, kitchen, laid-back, local cooking, local food, locally-grown, make cheese, maleny, mooloolaba, noosa, peter kuruvita, produce, queensland, refreshing, relaxed, review, reviews, scale raw fish, sea change, seafood, serving cooked fish, six part, soya bean, sri lankan food, sunshine coast, television program, television show, tempeh, tv program, tv show
Peter Kuruvita’s Coastal Kitchen shares a few things in common with recent cooking shows like Poh & Co. and River Cottage Australia in that he uses the local neighbourhood for food inspiration. Kuruvita is no stranger to TV screens with the restaurateur previously presenting series about his homeland, Sri Lanka, as well as Mexico. For Coastal Kitchen Kuruvita uses his sea-change from Sydney to Noosa as inspiration for many of the culinary treats on display here.
This six-part series is all about celebrating local produce and flavours from Queensland and the areas surrounding the Sunshine Coast, with the featured destinations, including: Noosa, Gympie, Maleny, Kenilworth, Mooloolaba, the Glasshouse Mountains and Kin Kin. Each episode has a different theme or focus with instalments about indigenous foods or bush tucker, seafood, locally-grown farm produce and food for health, to name a few. Kuruvita is a laid-back and calm presenter, an enthusiastic interviewer and a passionate foodie. These things are all apparent in his bubbly, on-screen presence and technique.
Each episode features recipes that Kuruvita has devised and some of these are Sri Lankan in origin (i.e. curries and dahl soup.) There are also other dishes where he has adapted the traditional recipe to add a twist of Sri Lankan flavours to the mix. Examples of these include the Sri Lankan egg curry pho and the pippies with Sri Lankan XO sauce. Over the course of the series Kuruvita learns how to make cheese, goes fishing, discovers artisan bee-keeping, and learns about tempeh, a bi-protein soya bean.
Kuruvita often offers handy tips and tricks in his cooking demonstrations. One useful piece of advice is when he tells viewers to soak shellfish overnight so that you can remove any excess sand if this has not already been done. The extras are good and include lessons in how to fillet and scale raw fish and how to serve a cooked fish. The only complaint is that there should have been more of these because not everyone is a MasterChef or a cook for that matter.
Coastal Kitchen demonstrates how beautiful and peaceful Queensland is and how it is poised to become an important foodie destination. Kuruvita’s relaxed delivery and passion for the local food and produce makes for a refreshing and entertaining watch. Coastal Kitchen is such a pleasant and enjoyable show it might convince others to embark on their own sea change because it encapsulates all of the benefits of coastal living. Divine.
Originally published on 22 January 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/peter-kuruvitas-coastal-kitchen-dvd-review/
Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com
28 Jun 2016
in Book Review
Tags: aussie larrikin, Australia, book, books, bumboats, cheeky sense of humour, colourful watercolour illustrations, come with me from the mountains to the sea..., delicate illustrations, detailed, ecology, environmental beauty, family adventure series, informative facts, irreverent, larrikin, light text, murray ecosystem, murray history, murray river, murray wildlife, on the road, people, picture book, precious gem, review, reviews, roland harvey, secrets, whimsical text
Roland Harvey’s family adventure series has included trips to the beach, bush and farm. His latest picture book, On The River is set on Australia’s Murray River. It’s a story that will engage adults and children alike thanks to its light and whimsical text, colourful watercolour illustrations and rather detailed and informative facts.
This book includes appearances by Banjo Patterson and Ned Kelly but perhaps the most intriguing character of all is Harvey himself. He is joined by a pelican friend and can be found on every page in the book in a kind of homage to Where’s Wally? On The River is like three books in one, you can have fun finding Harvey, enjoy learning about the Murray River and you can laugh at Harvey’s cheeky sense of humour. Kids will love this loveable larrikin and his talk of bumboats and the like.
On The River may be a story aimed at children aged five to 10 years but in all honesty this bracket could be extended by around 100 years because all sorts of readers can enjoy this book. This story about the fragile Murray ecosystem as well as is secrets, wildlife, history, people and ecology is all really captivating. Harvey’s delicate illustrations are wonderful and the story is a precious gem because it sums up how important the Murray River is and how crucial it is for us to conserve and maintain its environmental beauty.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-on-the-river
22 May 2016
in Book Review
Tags: Australia, australian outback, australiana, beautiful, beautiful language, book, books, brutal, class, contemporary fiction, daughter of australia, debut, engaging, epic, evocative prose, fear, fiction, gorgeous, grief, harlequin, harmony verna, harsh, jealousy, land of boundless plains, leonora, love, love story, mines, mining, mining tycoon, novel, novels, orphanage, orphans, race, review, reviews, rich family, romance, unforgiving land, vivid, work
Daughter of Australia is an epic love story and slice of Australiana. But it’s also amazing to note that the author is not even an Aussie. The novel is actually Harmony Verna’s debut one and she has beautifully captured our land of boundless plains with her gorgeous and evocative prose. Daughter of Australia is ultimately a very easy-to-read book that is engrossing and hard to put down.
The story begins with a sweet little girl being abandoned in the West Australian desert. She is on the verge of death but luckily she is also saved by a passing miner named Ghan. This disabled and big-hearted man takes the child to a doctor and eventually she recovers and goes to live in a local orphanage. But she is so traumatised by this past experience that she becomes a mute.
At the orphanage the little girl named Leonora (after the town where she was found) is cared for by a well-meaning priest. Another orphan child named James also ends up befriending Leonora. James is a boy with a heart of gold because he abhors injustice and cruelty. The pair become firm friends but their relationship does not last because eventually Leonora is adopted by a rich American couple and James goes to live in country Australia with extended members of his Irish family.
The two children grow up having difficult lives in their own unique ways. Leonora is trapped by a brutal aunt and forced into an unhappy marriage with a mean and ambitious mining tycoon. James on the other hand has a life of hard graft on his aunt and uncle’s vast and unforgiving property. The pair are eventually reunited when Leonora’s husband purchases land and mines in rural Australia and James comes looking for work. This reunion will leave readers asking whether the two old friends will be able to rekindle their past affections or will the divide between two classes be a bridge too far?
Daughter of Australia has been likened to Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds and it’s easy to see why. This novel is also worthy of comparison to Bryce Courtney’s Jessica. Daughter of Australia is ultimately a rich book that tackles a number of different threads and issues like: race, love, class, jealousy, work, grief and fear. The characters are vivid, engaging and feel like real people. This book is ultimately a delightful Australiana one and journey towards discovery and identity. It’s also one where beautiful language is juxtaposed against the harsh, Australian outback. It’s simply gorgeous!
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-daughter-of-australia
20 Jan 2016
in Theatre Review
Tags: allegorical story, allegorical tale, atmospheric, Australia, australian history, australiana, bird, children's book, Christopher Hillier, classical, classically trained soprano, colonisation, David Leha, emotional, experimental, Gabriela Tylesova, helpmann award winner, helpmann award winning play, Hollie Andrew, iain grandage, invading british setllers, invasion, Jessica Hitchcock, john marsden, Kanen Breen, Kate Miller-Heidke, kid's book, lally katz, Lisa Maza, Marcus Corowa, musical theatre, Nicholas Jones, nuanced, opera, opera australia, picture book, play, poignant, pop ballads, pop singer, powerful story, Robert Mitchell, roslyn packer theatre, shaun tan, Simon Meadows, stolen generation, sydney debut, sydney festival, the rabbits, theater, theatre, walsh bay
Photo by: John Green
The Rabbits is an Australian opera adapted from a picture book that is anything but child’s play.
The original story was written by John Marsden, who penned the Tomorrow series, and was illustrated by Shaun Tan (The Lost Thing). It’s an allegorical tale that examines the colonisation of Australia with the titular characters playing the invading British settlers, and a group of native marsupials representing the Aboriginal people and their subsequent plight.
The original book is less than 300 words long but it’s a powerful story. For the live setting this has been expanded with the addition of a new character, a narrator called Bird, performed by the show’s composer – the classically trained soprano and pop singer, Kate Miller-Heidke. Acclaimed playwright Lally Katz provides the libretto and Iain Grandage offers the superb musical arrangements.
The show has already won several Helpmann Awards and in some ways it’s easy to see why, because the story is an emotionally poignant one and a sad reflection on our nation’s history. It depicts the invasion, colonisation and the Stolen Generation, but does end with a glimmer of hope. That said, it is not perfect, and there are some scenes that fall a little flat or feel a little long and drawn out (and the show itself only goes for one hour).
The artists do an excellent job performing the material. The marsupials are played by Hollie Andrew, Jessica Hitchcock, Marcus Corowa and David Leha – led ably by Lisa Maza – and prove incredibly charming and emotive. The rabbits (Kanen Breen, Nicholas Jones, Christopher Hillier, Simon Meadowsand Robert Mitchell), on the other hand, are more like pantomime villains and everything is delivered in a flamboyant and over-the-top manner. This actually works in this strange environment where the show is already a hybrid of opera and musical theatre and the soundtrack is a mash-up of pop ballads and experimental and classical styles.
The Rabbits is a dark and ambitious piece that doesn’t pander to the audience. It tells a tragic and uncomfortable chapter in our history and stays true to the essence of the book. This is particularly the case in the rendering of the set and costumes by designer, Gabriela Tylesova. The Rabbits is one nuanced and atmospheric tale that commands the viewer to sit up and listen, without leading them down a rabbit warren.
Originally published on 19 January 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/arts/rabbits
Visit The Brag’s homepage at: http://thebrag.com/