Book reviews: One for the road - August 2013


One for the road - August 2013 One for the road - August 2013
One for the road - August 2013 One for the road - August 2013
One for the road - August 2013 One for the road - August 2013
One for the road - August 2013 One for the road - August 2013
One for the road - August 2013 One for the road - August 2013
One for the road - August 2013 One for the road - August 2013

Peta Stavelli looks over the latest books from our publishers and offers some suggestions for great autumn reads.

The keeper of secrets, Julie Thomas, Harper Collins New Zealand, $25

This is a powerfully evocative book spanning seven decades and three countries, yet far from being complicated, it is an easily accessible and compelling read, filled with characters that leap from the page. Sadly, it was read far too quickly. All too soon the captivating tale, essentially woven around the theft during the Holocaust of an exceptionally rare Guarneri del Gesù violin, was over. The violin had been played by generations of the Horowitz family when, in 1939, war broke out in Berlin and the family's possessions were looted — first by the Germans and later by the Russians. Fast forward to 2008, when 14-year-old Daniel Horowitz wins a prestigious violin competition. His prodigy unexpectedly brings him in contact with the lost violin, and an emotionally taut tug of war ensues. Almost as riveting is the author's story. This book was initially published by the former Aucklander as an e-book. After selling 35,000 copies, it was picked up by a senior editor of Harper Collins NY, of whom has since optioned her second novel.

Crown Lynn collector's handbook, Valerie Ringer Monk, Penguin Books New Zealand, $35

Since the early 1940s Crown Lynn household wares have been coveted and collected by New Zealanders. The now iconic New Zealand brand began in a former brick and tile manufacturer in Grey Lynn, initially in an experimental way, and later on a grand scale under the name Ambrico (Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company) to supply American troops stationed in the South Pacific region with thousands of mugs and bowls. As the war ended, Ambrico's 300 workers began turning out around six million household pieces a year, including ornaments and vases. Crown Lynn was born, its popularity showing no decline until the 70s, as domestic markets weakened in the face of an increasingly diverse import market. Finally in 1989, the factory was dismantled and closed. Now a new generation of Kiwi collectors are finding pleasure in this diverse range of homegrown collectables. Learn how to identify and grow your own collection from this fabulous guide.

Pastel drawing, Barbara Benedetti Newton, New Holland , $28

When I was a child my mother painted with pastels and I vividly remember one very well executed piece which remained in our family home throughout my childhood. I still see it every time I return home and it's every bit as good as I remember it. Depending on the method used to apply colour, pastel work can be referred to as painting or drawing. Either way, if you love creating your own travel mementos, pastels are an exciting medium to try. They are compact, clean, and easy to use. Plus, they are forgiving and inexpensive. What more could you ask? Perhaps, a good guidebook to enable you to up-skill anywhere, and in your own time? This book may be the one you're looking for. It certainly ticked the boxes for me and now I am keen to obtain some of the water-soluble pastels recently recommended by my mother.

500 Indian dishes, Meena Agarwal, New Holland Publishers, $25

This book is for those (like me) for whom curries are the takeaway of choice, and it will demonstrate how easy it is to create quality Indian dishes quickly — once you have amassed the simple store-cupboard ingredients.

It will also revisit your other favourite takeaways, and easily repackage them wrapped in delicious new flavours. Take as but a few examples the recipes for fish cutlets, spicy potato wedges or fish pakodas. Oh, yeah! Then, when you're done devouring delicious appetisers, serve up a main of paneer tikka pizza or tandoori chicken legs. And, yes, they do curries as well. Some fine examples, actually. Like Kerala fish curry and mango chicken curry, as well a surprising host of delicious vegetable sides, salads and raita — with endless variations on each theme. This is a go-to book you will love.

The closet stylist, Anna Caselberg, Penguin Group New Zealand, $40

No matter what your size or shape, Anna Caselberg has the solution to figure faults. Tall or short, apple or pear, you'll benefit from this book which gives a nod to the classic while remaining a contemporary and up-to-the minute guide to making the most of your body type. Learn how to discuss your faults and accentuate the positives with figure flattering garments and accessories.
By the time you come to the end you'll have discovered how to invest in good-quality classics and shop for seasonal updates. At $40, you'll most likely find this book a sound investment and significant money saver.

With bold needle and thread, Rosemary McLeod, Random House New Zealand, $55

Rosemary McLeod continues her endearing obsession with textile crafts in this generous hardback book, delightfully illustrated with vintage images. Rosemary won the history category of the New Zealand Book Awards in 2006 with her last book, the best-selling Thrift to fantasy. It is anticipated With bold needle and thread – Adventures in vintage needlecraft will be received with similar acclaim. In it she compiles nearly 50 classic projects drawn from the 1920s – '50s, ranging from bags to gloves to cushions and tea cosies which are bound to inspire a new generation. This book is, elegant, timely and a brilliant re-introduction to the lost home-arts updated with contemporary instructions and materials.

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