Blog Archives

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

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review

Mud, blood and misconception, Damien Fenton

First Day of the Somme: The Complete Account of Britain’s Worst-ever Military Disaster  Andrew Macdonald, HarperCollins, $40.00, ISBN 9781775540403 Experience of a Lifetime: People, Personalities and Leaders in the First World War  John Crawford, David Littlewood and James Watson (eds)

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review, War

Memory, mateship and mortality, David Grant

Going South: A Road Trip Through Life Colin Hogg HarperCollins, $35.00, ISBN 9781775540816 The premise of this book is simple. Well-known journalist and influential rock music critic, Colin Hogg, was in deep discussion last year with mates at a birthday

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Review

Reeling in the years, Bruce Babington

A Life on Film: I’m Taking this Bloody Car to Invercargill! Geoff Murphy HarperCollins, $40.00, ISBN 9781775540793 Okay, there was this guy Murphy back in the 1970s. Somehow, in near impossible conditions, he made three of the foundational feature films of

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Posted in Autobiography, Non-fiction, Review

Chalk and cheese William Brandt

The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie: Murder, Politics and Revenge in Nineteenth-century New Zealand
David Hastings
Auckland University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781869408374

The Scene of the Crime: Twelve Extraordinary True Stories of Crime and Punishment
Steve Braunias
HarperCollins, $37.00,
ISBN 9781775540830

Tourism has certainly come a long way. When in 1878 Mary Dobie made the trip from England to New Zealand, travelling in the company of sister Bertha (has that name ever been fashionable?) and mother Ellen, it took her three months. Not surprisingly after such a big investment of time and effort, the women planned a stay of three years – time to attend the wedding of émigré brother Herbert and still fit in a tour of the North Island, taking in, among other places, the fabled Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana. In special travel outfits of their own design (“a stout dungaree petticoat and a loose blouse bodice of thin cotton stuff”), the intrepid trio even visited Fiji and Samoa. “No white woman had ever been there,” journalled Bertha, with some pride, of a caving expedition to the Yasawa Islands.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Politics & Law, Review, Sociology

Foreign countries, Kathryn Walls

The Bakehouse Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 978177650072 The Knot Impossible: A Tale of Fontania Barbara Else Gecko Press, $25.00, ISBN 978177650041 The Girl Who Rode the Wind Stacy Gregg HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9780008124304   Joy Cowley’s The Bakehouse

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review

Before and after, Christina Stachurski

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from Decades Past Alison Parr Penguin, $45.00, ISBN 9780143573371 A Villa at the End of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City Fiona Farrell Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 9781775537519 King Rich Joe Bennett HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN

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Posted in Non-fiction, Sociology

Crime wave, Bernard Carpinter

Running Towards Danger
Tina Clough
Vanguard Press, $30.00,
ISBN 97811784650100

Blood, Wine and Chocolate
Julie Thomas
HarperCollins, $35.00
ISBN 9781775540533

Something Is Rotten
Adam Sarafis
Echo, $35.00
ISBN 9781760067762

New Zealand crime fiction is booming. The long list for the Ngaio Marsh Award this year comprised nine books and the five on the short list are all very good. Those books are, in no particular order, Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave, The Petticoat Men by Barbara Ewing, Swimming in the Dark by Paddy Richardson, The Children’s Pond by Tina Shaw and Fallout by Paul Thomas.

Thomas and Cleave, in particular, have given New Zealand crime fiction credibility, their lively prose delivering crackling plots, larger-than-life characters and even humour. And they are distinctively Kiwi books; Thomas’s protagonist of five novels, Tito Ihaka, is Māori and well versed in the blunter forms of the Kiwi vernacular.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Just like on tv, Annabel Cresswell

The Dwarf Who Moved and Other Remarkable Tales from a Life in the Law
Peter Williams
HarperCollins, $50.00,
ISBN 9781775540472

Criminal lawyers love war stories. War stories are great yarns about epic legal disputes, great victories and shocking defeats, where the battlefield is the courtroom.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Politics & Law, Review

Boys’ own adventures, Tina Shaw

Singing Home the Whale
Mandy Hager
Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9781775536574

Magic and Makutu
David Hair
HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9781869509330

If these two titles are anything to go by, New Zealand young adult fiction is in good shape. These are two very different novels, although both integrate Māori culture into the storyline, and both feature a boy as the main protagonist.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults
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