Book reviews: November 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.

Historic Churches Wild Roads

Linda Burgess
Random House NZ, $50

If, like me, part of the joy of travelling around New Zealand is in finding quaint churches along the way, then this book will be of particular interest to you. Following on from the success of Historic Houses, writer Linda and photographer Robert Burgess travel the length and breadth of New Zealand visiting over 60 historic, unique, quirky, architecturally significant, weather-beaten, downtown, and back-of-beyond churches. Along the way they encounter the architects, ministers, missionaries and personalities with a story to tell.

Historic Churches features handsome photographs of the churches featured, inside and out, accompanying an engaging text that will take you on a rich and colourful journey.

Wild Roads Wild Roads

Bruce Ansley
Penguin Random House NZ, $50

Take an epic journey along New Zealand’s most dangerous, infamous, remote and remarkable roads. From spectacular coastal highways to frightening alpine passes, back-country bullies to treasured pathways; these are the roads that dictate the terms of everyday life in New Zealand.

Wild Roads features 60 of our wildest routes. As the author says, this is not a guide, or a history. The roads have been chosen not just because they are wild, but because they are wildly beautiful, or lonely, or interesting. The author has driven over them all – most are accessible by the average car, with only a few demanding something more rugged.

Coromandel Flavour Coro -flavour

Deborah Hide-Bayne
Self published, $45

I was initially a little ho-hum about this book, but with every page I turned, I loved it more. Living as I do, just across the water from Coromandel Peninsula, the book has quite a local flavour for me. It is full of ingredients with which we on Waiheke are familiar.

But living in the Hauraki Gulf will not be necessary for the reader to extract maximum enjoyment from this book which contains as many classic recipes as it does essentially Kiwi ones. As much as when I was a lifestyle farmer as now, with fewer fruit trees in my backyard, I enjoy a cookbook which helps deal with a seasonal glut.

Waiheke is plum heaven so I particularly appreciated the numerous plum recipes.

New Zealand Café cookbook NZCafe

Anna King Shahab
Penguin, $50

Freelance writer and editor Anna King Shahab fell into, and in love with, writing about food when she started working in the editorial team of Taste magazine. Since 2009, Anna has been in the food team at Metro magazine, which involves the enviable (though she would attest, difficult) duty of judging Auckland’s 50 Best Cafés Awards, 50 Best Restaurants Awards and Cheap Eats.

As well as contributing features and recipes to a variety of publications, Anna enjoys exploring New Zealand’s cafés as well as specialty and ethnic food stores. You will too.

Terrain Terrain

Geoff Chapple
Random House NZ, $40

New Zealand’s many distinctive landforms are packed into a small space. Geoff Chapple, author of Te Araroa: The New Zealand Trail, set out on a year-long journey to find out why, and to seek out the shifting forces that shape them. For company, he chose to walk with geologists and the artisans who work the rock. The journey took him back through geology’s global history and onward from end to end of New Zealand.

Terrain is the result – a lucid, personal and sometimes funny account of New Zealand’s most astonishing landscapes. Their stories and revelations are a prompt to look more closely at the ground we walk on.

Helen Clark: Inside Stories Pond -Eyley _Helen -Clark

Claudia Pond Eyley and Don Salmon
Auckland University press, $40

From family friends and former political enemies comes this rich insider portrait of Helen Clark, New Zealand’s first elected female prime minister. Ms Clark has long been the subject of gossip, and innuendo about her sexuality, so sorry to pop your bubble but this book firmly lays to rest rumours she is gay.

It is also gives such an endearing look at her life and endless drive, that no matter which way you vote you could not help but be left with admiration for this remarkable New Zealander who is now internationally regarded as one of the world’s most influential people.

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