The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony with Grahame Spence

elephant whisperer.jpgTitle: The Elephant Whisperer

Author: Lawrence Anthony with Grahame Spence

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Published: 1st July 2012

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Price: $24.99

Synopsis: When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of rogue elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula, his common-sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival – notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn’t take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape…

As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, this is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers everywhere.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Lawrence Anthony is a highly-respected conservationist and co-founder of The Earth Organization. His previous title, Babylon’s Ark, about his involvement in saving the animals in Baghdad Zoo, is being made into a major film. Graham Spence is a freelance journalist and author.

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In the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) region of South Africa, there are many game reserves that host smaller, private game lodges that are dedicated to the protection and conservation of African animals such as elephants and rhinos, hunted for their horns. Thula Thula, the reserve and lodge where Lawrence Anthony lived and worked up until his death several years ago was one such park. When Anthony and his partner, Francoise arrived at Thula Thula, they were soon asked to take a rampaging herd of elephants from another game park before they had to be culled. Lawrence took these elephants in, and spent years building up trust, to a point where they knew him and his family, and where they would visit him to show off new additions, and greet him as he arrived home from overseas.  Lawrence’s experiences with the elephants always amaze him and leave him, and those he works and lives with in awe of these majestic creatures.

Written in 2012 about the previous ten years or so, The Elephant Whisperer shows the beauty of elephants, and what they can teach us, and the amazing side to them that so many don’t get to see. The elephants are central to the book and Lawrence’s experiences with poachers, staff, snakes and family, and their comforting presence at times of distress and highly emotional times illustrates the special relationship Lawrence had with the herd and what he observed in these creatures.

Filled with frustrating, triumphant and heartbreaking moments, Lawrence Anthony’s personality and sense of self and justice shines through and the story is engaging and engrossing – from his battle to get the elephants to Thula Thula, to his negotiations with the Zulu tribes and desire to communicate across cultures and respect each human and animal he works with, to his battle with the poachers in the early part of the book, there is a passion that ensures his love of elephants and legacy lives in through his words and work at Thula Thula.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartless.jpg

Title: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Published: 8th November 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 464

Price: $18.99

Synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, the infamous Queen of Hearts, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favourite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness and monsters, fate has other plans.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer is the story of Wonderland before it became Wonderland, before the Mad Hatter became the Mad Hatter with his tea party, and of course, before Alice tumbled down the rabbit hole into a world of food and drink that changed ones size, of Mock Turtles and before a White Rabbit is late for something. In this world, there is only Lady Catherine Pinkerton, and her parents the Marquis and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, and Catherine’s dream of opening a bakery. Her parents do not share her dream, especially her mother, who spends all her time trying to force a courtship and marriage between Catherine and the King of Hearts.

As all this goes on, a terrible monster called the Jabberwock threatens Hearts, where the main characters live. The King is useless, so it will become the destiny of an unlikely crew to save the kingdom, even if this means that their fates will be sealed – whether they are fates they seek out or not. It is this climax that will lead the reader into the fate of Hearts, The Looking Glass, and everyone who will come to populate Wonderland.

Marissa Meyer’s origin story for the Queen of Hearts borrows from the world created by Lewis Carroll, but also incorporates other elements of literature. A couple of Shakespeare’s plays are given nonsensical titles to fit in with the nonsense theme, Raven is often known to quote from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, and of course, from the works of Lewis Carroll. Meyer has woven all of these together to create a story befitting the world of Wonderland before it became Wonderland. Set in a quasi-Victorian setting, where nonsense survives and the real world norms of the Victorian world are topsy-turvy – it wouldn’t be Wonderland if they weren’t – Heartless is a delightful story that has a bit of everything: fantasy, romance, humour and nonsense, and a sense of adventure that will appeal to many readers who enjoy fantasy or retellings of classic tales, fairy tales or origin tales of key characters and lands. It is well written with well rounded characters.