Book reviews: October 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.

Ettie Rout Ettie -Rout

Jane Tolerton
Penguin Books NZ, $35

Ettie Rout was one of New Zealand’s greatest exports – the one you’ve never heard of. And yet her achievements rival that of her better known contemporaries, Kate Sheppard and Kathryn Mansfield.

Ettie Rout was a safe sex pioneer who not only fought to have her prophylactic kit adopted, but also created a safe sex brothel in Paris to serve the armed forces of WWI. For her considerable troubles she was shamed by a society under the influence of the Women’s Temperance Union, which refused to believe staggering numbers of New Zealand soldiers who had contracted sexually transmitted diseases. Until recent times, a Christchurch memorial to Ettie Rout was still being defaced. This is a great true read about a forgotten heroine.

Nadia Lim’s Fresh Start Cookbook Fresh -Start

Nadia Lim
Random House NZ, $50

Say goodbye to fad diets, exhorts Nadia Lim with this – her latest inspiring cookbook. Her Fresh Start Cookbook has more than 100 delicious recipes for everyday living and also comes with an exercise programme designed by fitness expert, Michael McCormack. As well as being an inspired chef and a former Masterchef NZ winner, Nadia is a qualified dietitian.

Together the two have created a flexible 12-week programme to lose weight and get healthy. I am a great fan of Nadia’s fresh approach to food which has seen her rise from relative obscurity to become a household name. The popularity of her recently launched My Food Bag initiative has gone through the roof. And her recipes are not bad, either. Yum.

Snow on the Lindis Snow -on -ther -Lindis

Madge Snow
Random House NZ, $40

Morven Hills Station once covered 400,000 acres of wild tussock covered hills between the Lindis and Clyde. The remote station was one of the first parcels of land settled in 1858 by hardy a Scottish family, the McLeans, who saw the region’s potential for sheep farming.

At its height, the land was once home to more than 100,000 sheep and many more settler families lived there before it was eventually purchased in 1923 by then-26-year-old, former head shepherd, Hector Snow. Hector was ambitious and bought the adjoining property, both of which he left to his wife and two young children, Madge and Bill, when he died suddenly of pneumonia in 1938. This is Madge’s charming story. What a character, and what a life. You’ll love this book.

Everyday Superfood Everyday -superfood

Jamie Oliver
Penguin, $65

I love Jamie’s approach to food – it’s fresh, seasonal, fast and healthy, which ticks all the boxes for me. For many years he has taken a revolutionary approach to making over the average diet and encouraging healthier food choices. Even so, Jamie admits to becoming unnerved by the approach of his 40th birthday.

Those of us with a few more years on the clock may be tempted to mock, but there is wisdom in his musings, which led to clarifying the food as fuel approach demonstrated in his latest cookbook. Being on the anti-wheat wagon (when I am not falling off it), I was surprised to see so many recipes containing wheat – albeit wholemeal. But there is also the best wheatless bread recipe I have come across, and many more to inspire healthy tweaks to your own diet.

Rising Strong Rising -Strong

Brené Brown
Penguin Books NZ, $37

It is often said that's it’s not how many times you are knocked down, it’s how often you get back up again. This book is about rising up strong and tackles the self-talk which limits you personally and professionally and keeps you trapped in a cycle of fear, self-doubt and regret.

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She is the author of the international bestseller Daring Greatly and her TED talk has been watched by more than 20 million people. In this personal and honest book about fear and failure, she encourages the reader to work through hurts and mistakes to embrace a more courageous future. I admit to skim reading this book, yet in that brevity, I still received some powerful tools for change.

A Dog’s Life A-Dog 's -Life

Craig Bullock
Random House, $39.99

I am not a great animal lover. After raising four kids on my own, I admit my priorities were different to the many who love their fur babies with a deep passion. When the proof copy of this book arrived, I gave it a quick once over and passed it on to my colleague who runs an animal sanctuary. And then the book arrived. I was smitten. The images are a delight, and the stories will warm even the hardest of hearts. Craig Bullock is the author of Quake Cats and Quake Dogs. He specialises in animal photography has put together another wonderful book.

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