Book reviews: June 2015


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

The Farm at Black Hills The -farm -at -Black -Hills

Beverley Forrester with John McChrystal
Random House NZ, $40

If you’re looking for a good yarn, this wonderful heart-warming book may be it. Beverley Forrester met the love of her life late. Sadly they had just 10 good years together before Jim died, leaving his wife to run the fourth-generation family farm at Black Hills in the Hurunui District of North Canterbury.

Although born to the farming life, Beverley had remained generally focused on her career as an occupational therapist after her marriage. But she had continued with her passion, which was to run a small flock of coloured sheep. And after the death of her soulmate, Beverley stuck to her knitting and is now acclaimed by international fashionistas for her elegant hand spun and hand-knitted Beverley Riverina wool garments.

Black Hills Yarns has shops in four countries, and Beverley now has a string of awards to add to her credit.

The Possibilities The -Possibilities1

Kaui Hart Hemmings
Random House Books, $35

In the idyllic ski resort of Breckenridge, there’s trouble in paradise for Sarah St. John. Her 22-year-old son Cully has been killed in an avalanche, and she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life. All Sarah wants is to be left alone in her grief, but everyone seems to want something from her.

Her father has become addicted to the shopping channel, has moved into her basement; her best friend is juggling a messy divorce and a new found habit of smoking pot; and Cully’s father, whose sudden reemergence in Sarah’s life stirs a cauldron of emotions. Just as Sarah is ready to face the world, a girl called Kit appears on her doorstep. And Sarah is confronted with the hardest decision yet.

Told in Kaui Hart Hemmings’s unsentimental and refreshingly wry style, this is a novel about what we will risk to keep our loved ones close – a novel full of hope, humour and love.

Primal Kitchen Primal -Kitchen

Sarah Dueweke
Penguin Group NZ, $40

With its emphasis on natural ingredients and meals high in protein and healthy fats and carbohydrates, primal eating offers the benefits of a paleo diet with fewer restrictions.

In Primal Kitchen, Wellington chef and primal eating enthusiast Sarah Dueweke shares recipes for sustained good health. Full-fat dairy products, including butter, cheese, yoghurt and milk, are allowed in limited quantities, as is alcohol and some starchy fruit and vegetables.

By substituting grains such as wheat, corn and rice for ‘primal-friendly’ alternatives and eliminating refined sugars in favour of natural sweeteners, Sarah’s innovative recipes show how you can enjoy home baking and treat foods and still find weight maintenance easy. Slow-cooked casseroles, hearty salads and power-packed breakfasts are so satisfying and delicious they are sure to prove popular with family and friends.

Powerful Living Powerful -Living

Michelle Bridges
Penguin Group NZ, $38

Powerful Living helps put you in the hot seat for personal change. It’s the latest offering from Michelle Bridges who has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years as a professional trainer and group fitness instructor.

Her key role in Network Ten’s hit series The Biggest Loser combined with her highly successful online exercise and mindset programme, the 12 Week Body Transformation, has connected her with hundreds of thousands of Australians, making her that country’s most influential health and fitness personality.

Her books – Crunch Time, Crunch Time Cookbook, Losing the Last 5 Kilos, 5 Minutes a Day, The No Excuses Cookbook, Everyday Weight Loss, Your Best Body, Get Real!, Superfoods Cookbook and Total Body Transformation – are all bestsellers.

The Woman Who Stole My Life The -woman -who -stole -my -life

Marian Keyes
Penguin Group NZ, $37

Stella Sweeney is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with her husband Ryan and their two teenage kids in Dublin. She works with – or really for – her terrifyingly ambitious sister Karen in their beauty salon.

Nothing to get excited about here, nothing to make her particularly unhappy – or happy. No one would be interested in stealing her life. But then things started to happen. One day, Stella, attempting a good deed, causes a little car accident and faces down a bad-tempered, handsome stranger.

She hardly gives it much of a thought. But karma is hovering, and is about to take over, swoop in and change Stella’s life forever. For better or worse. Suddenly Stella has a life – a thrilling glamorous one. A life that other people might start to covet but is it all she hoped for?

Too Close To Home Too -close -to -home

Susan Lewis
Penguin Random Books, $37

Sometimes the truth can be closer to home than you think. The compelling and moving new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten, bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, No Child of Mine and Don’t Let Me Go. Jenna and Jack Moore have moved their family to Wales for a fresh start.

For vivacious, happy-go-lucky 15-year-old Paige the future is full of promise. But suddenly everything changes. Paige becomes more and more withdrawn. The closeness she once shared with her mother a distant memory. It then becomes clear that Jack has secrets too.

Preoccupied with her younger children, her husband’s fidelity and their fledgling publishing company, Jenna doesn’t realise the extent of her eldest daughter’s unhappiness until the unthinkable happens. And the nightmare is only just beginning…

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