Book reviews: One for the road - March 2014

If you’re heading off for some well-deserved R&R, there’s no better time to grab a great book. Peta Stavelli reviews some of the latest offerings from New Zealand publishing houses.

Books -1Wild Tales – A Rock & Roll Life

Graham Nash, Penguin Group NZ, $50

Who can resist the candid memoirs of a veteran rock and roller? Not me, that's for sure. And Graham Nash — who has twice been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — holds an exalted position. Nash was born into a poor working class family in post-war Britain. He went on to found the Hollies and to write many of the songs which defined his generation: among them the superhits Bus Stop and Carrie Anne. He was a contemporary of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks, with whom he became friends. In the late '60s he moved California, where he mixed with influential American groups like The Mamas and Papas and individual songwriters like Joni Mitchell, who became his lover. It was for Mitchell that Nash wrote Our House, and it was she who introduced him to David Crosby, with whom he went on to form Crosby, Stills and Nash (later to be joined by the legendary Neil Young). In addition to being one of the most prodigious writers of his time, Nash is also a political philanthropist of note. He was awarded an OBE in 2010.

Books -2Provence and Côte D'Azur

Janelle McCulloch, Pan McMillan Australia, $65

It does not matter whether you are an armchair traveller looking for inspiration, or a tourist looking for a guide book, this book is sure to delight. Hopefully it will also exceed your expectations — which will no doubt already be high, for this is one of the best-loved regions of France. Janelle McCulloch has been a journalist for more than 20 years. During this time she has worked for numerous well-known Australian publications including Vogue, Elle, Marie Clare and Inside Melbourne. In her leisure-time, the region covered in the book, has been her holiday playground. With the help of this book the reader can access those distilled experiences for recommendations to the best places to enjoy history, art, architecture, and markets. As a delightful aside, this book is not only useful but also designed with charm.

Books -3Promoting Prosperity

Peter Alsop and Gary Stewart, Craig Potton Publishing, $80

Promoting Prosperity is a second nostalgic collection of early New Zealand advertising posters from the authors of Selling the Dream, which was released in 2012 to wide acclaim. New Zealanders are hungry for the type of nostalgia which these books deliver. And like its forerunner, this is also a heady compilation of the best from our early advertisers and entrepreneurs which tracks our emergence as an independent nation.

The 750 plates in Promoting Prosperity showcase the brilliance of our commercial artists, while the 11 essays provide the context for their endeavours.

This is a valuable addition to the New Zealand history collection of any home library, and it will no doubt also become a much loved coffee table book.

Books -4New Zealand

Motorhome and Camping Atlas, Hema Maps, Craig Potton Publishing, $30

You can certainly trust Hema to deliver a resoundingly good product to its target audience, and its latest offering for motorhomers ticks all the boxes.

Not only will you find detailed maps, you'll also find an up-to-date list of dump stations and all types of camps from free camps to motorcamps.

As expected, this is an excellent spiral bound map book, with all the attributes we have come to expect from Hema's publications.

Books -5Survivor

Lesley Pearce, Penguin UK, $55

Lesley Pearce's new novel is the third in the series. It follows on from Belle and The Promise. Survivor is set against the backdrop of WWI. It tells the story of Belle's beautiful and defiant daughter, Mariette. It's London, 1939, and the seventeen-year-old has just set out from her home town of Russell in the Bay of Islands aboard the SS Rimutaka, bound for London. Though of tender age, she is no stranger to romance. She quickly falls for a Cockney steward, but he is quickly replaced amid a whirlwind of social engagements when she reaches her destination. The freedom Mari has always craved has at last found her. Unfortunately, The Blitz will soon put paid to her plans. How will she survive?

Books -6Meena Pathak's Tastes of India

Meena Pathak, New Holland, $35

A dear friend who lived for a time in India — on a houseboat in Kashmir, if you please — loves Indian food as much as he loves cricket. He and his lovely wife are amazing cooks, and their home is one of my very favourite places to dine. They love to cook Indian, for which their go-to cookbook is Meena Pathak's. And since I have sampled many an unforgettable meal inspired by her, I unreservedly recommend Meena Pathak's latest book, which I hope will become invaluable to you as a guide to creating authentic Indian meals.

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