Blog Archives

“Lashings of empathy”, Tina Shaw

From the Ashes
Deborah Challinor
HarperCollins, $37.00,
ISBN 9781460754122

What You Wish For
Catherine Robertson
Black Swan, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143772811

Discovering that From the Ashes is a sequel to Fire, Challinor’s 2006 novel, makes sense of this novel’s title. Fire was set in Auckland, although based on the Ballantyne’s department store fire of 1947 in Christchurch. From the Ashes is the second book in a series called “The Restless Years” that will take readers up to the Vietnam War.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Undercooked, Paul Moon

The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook, with Sam Neill
Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
HarperCollins, $45.00,
ISBN 9781460756393

Is there anything new to say about Captain James Cook’s expeditions to the Pacific? Edited accounts of his voyages appeared from 1773 and, in just the last 20 years, over 200 books on this remarkable explorer and mariner have been published. However, it is now 250 years since Cook departed on the first of his great voyages to the South Pacific and, being an anniversary year, what better time to tap into the publicity surrounding his feats? The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook accompanies a lavishly-produced television series presented with a comfortable balance of gravitas and intimacy by New Zealand actor Sam Neill. But is this book a cast-off from the television series, or does it stand on its own in any way as a useful contribution to the literature on the topic?

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review

Bearing witness, again, Louise Wareham Leonard

That F word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa
Lizzie Marvelly
HarperCollins, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775541127

There was an Empress of Austria named Elisabeth – many called her Sissi – a beauty and horsewoman and wife of Franz Joseph, and she was assassinated on 10 September 1898 by an anarchist wielding a knife so small that Elisabeth didn’t notice its cut, until she saw the blood from it, and swiftly died. As subtle as this knife is “the patriarchy” – the system of largely unspoken rules, beliefs and prejudices that arrange, in particular, women’s subjection in the world. It can be decades before any of us – of whatever gender – identify how the patriarchy has worked in our lives.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Gender, Non-fiction, Review

Getting the news out, James Norcliffe

Surviving 7.8: New Zealanders Respond to the Earthquakes of November 2016
Phil Pennington and Radio New Zealand
HarperCollins, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775541103

 

New Zealanders, Cantabrians in particular, have, over the last half-dozen years, become reluctant experts in earthquakes. We have experienced the wobbly ones, the shuddery ones, the bumpy ones, the noisy ones that just go whack – a whole hitherto unknown taxonomy of geomorphological effects. The Richter scale has become as familiar as the bathroom scales and referred to as often. One of our favourite websites is Geonet, and glib, hackneyed epithets like earth-shattering and world-shaking have taken on a whole new oh-so literal meaning.

Thus, when, just after midnight on November 14, 2016, we were woken by a long rolling shake that seemed to go on and on forever, my wife and I knew at once that we were experiencing another Big One, but we knew, too, that it wasn’t Christchurch this time; it was farther away. Our first thought was the Main Divide, our second thought was Wellington, and we were immediately concerned for friends and family in the capital.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in History, Media, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Nosing out the story, Lawrence Patchett

Breaking Ranks: Three Interrupted Lives
James McNeish
HarperCollins, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775540908

Partway through Breaking Ranks: Three Interrupted Lives, James McNeish stops his narrative to admit his own bias. “At this point,” he writes, “I had better come clean and declare my own interest.” His declaration relates to his account of Peter Mahon, the judge who led the inquiry into the 1979 Erebus disaster. Yet it applies to his approach to the other figures of Breaking Ranks, too: the psychiatrist John Saxby and the decorated soldier Reginald Miles.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

Truths both bald and stretched, Eirlys Hunter

The Diamond Horse 
Stacy Gregg
HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9780008124397

Grandad’s Wheelies
Jack Lasenby
Penguin Random House, $17.00, ISBN 9780143507338

Rona 
Chris Szekely
Huia, $15.00, ISBN 9781775501985

The Impossible Boy
Leonie Agnew
Penguin Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9780143309062

Reading fiction allows a child to imagine what it would be like to be someone else, and to develop insight into character, motivation and relationships. These four novels are very different from each other, but they all include depictions of behaviour and relationships that will help their readers to understand something true about people.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Children, Literature, Review

Filling historical gaps, Claire Mabey

Daylight Second
Kelly Ana Morey
HarperCollins, $37.00,
ISBN 9781775540526

I am certain that I’ve seen Phar Lap. Somewhere, in the back of my memory, is a child’s-eye view of a very large horse in a glass case in a museum, somewhere. Claimed by Australians like pavlova and Crowded House, he’s up there on the shelf reserved for New Zealand national icons: All Blacks, Phar Lap, kiwifruit, Helen Clark.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

National anthems, Andrew Schmidt

In Love with these Times: My Life with Flying Nun Records Roger Shepherd HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN 9781775540892 A Road Tour of American Song Titles: From Mendocino to Memphis Karl Du Fresne Bateman, $40.00, ISBN 9781869359382 Flying Nun Records, the small

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in History, Music, Non-fiction, Review

War games, Ron Palenski

War Blacks: The Extraordinary Story of New Zealand’s World War 1 All Blacks Matt Elliott HarperCollins, $45.00, ISBN 9781775540366 Tom Ellison has a lot to answer for. One of the early All Blacks of erudition and original thought, he wrote a

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, Sport

Salted history, Mary Roberts

A Boy of China: In Search of Mao’s Lost Son Richard Loseby HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN 9781775540885 This is a book that seems at odds with itself. The title tells us that it is about the author’s search for “Mao’s lost

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Non-fiction, Review
Search the archive
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
acf-field-group
acf-field
Filter by Categories
Architecture
Art
Autobiography
Awards
Biography
Byline
Children
Comment
Contents
ebooks
Economics
Editorial
Education
Essays
Extract
Fiction
Gender
Graphic novel
Health
History
Imprints
Language
Lecture
Letters
Letters
Literature
Māori
Media
Memoir
Music
Natural History
Non-fiction
Obituaries
Opinion
Pacific
Photography
Plays
Poem
Poetry
Politics & Law
Psychology
Religion
Review
Science
Short stories
Sociology
Sport
Subscribers only
Uncategorized
War
YA Reviewers
Young adults
Recent issues: subscriber-only access

Subscribe to NZ Books to access the issues above

Search by category