Book reviews: February 2016

Peta Stavelli has selected the best of the summer's most inspiring reads. Check out these book reviews.

Coastal Kitchen Feb Book Reviews2

Ian Batchelor
New Holland, $35

A cookery book that is part travelogue which matches recipes from some of this country’s most celebrated eateries with stunning landscape photography sounds like a recipe for success. Especially when it comes from someone as well-known as Ian Batchelor who has previously collaborated on a series of stunning books. This one is no exception, but for one small grumble: I would have liked the progeny of every recipe featured to be clearer. Otherwise this would make a wonderful addition to your arsenal or a gift for someone who lives overseas.

Simple Salads Feb Book Reviews7

Penny Oliver
Penguin Books NZ, $40

I am in awe of anyone, like my dear friend Bron, who can effortlessly create a stunning salad that is as visually pleasing as it is delicious, nutritious and satisfying. All of mine look the same: as if they have been bunged on the plate or hurled from a height. But here is a delightful and accessible book by a well-known New Zealand author which will help you create with ease stunning salads your friends will envy. Love it!

Short Easy Bike Rides 

Feb Book Reviews 1A

Kennet Brothers
New Holland, $25

I was captivated by the title from the outset. This is my kind of cycling: short and easy. And this book contains 52 of the country’s best. What more could you ask for? Not only is it compact, it’s perfect for anyone with a bicycle who wants to mostly explore the country on four wheels and occasionally reduce that number to two, to drill down for a better look at the local landscape.

It begins with handy tips on safety and the selection of a bike and contains maps and phone numbers for all manner of bike-friendly regional transport operators. And it really does fulfil its promise of offering rides that won’t kill you and may even make you stronger.

My Father’s Ears Feb Book Reviews4

Karen Goa
GoaNotesNZ, $25

I sat down to read this book at a very busy time. It was the end of the year and things were coming to the thin edge of the wedge, as they do at that time of the year. I snatched one brief read while travelling home on the ferry, and then another. On the third day, I was hooked and hungrily devoured the remainder of the book before bedtime.

I cannot overstate my affection for the characters, their lives and their portrayal by the author whose imagination, turn of phrase and sense of justice pervades every delightful page. I loved this book; and I cannot recommend it more highly. Karen Goa is brilliant.

The Little Black Book of Wine Feb Book Reviews5

Joëlle Thomson
New Holland, $30

I met Joëlle once when we were on a wine junket (my first) on Waiheke Island, where I live. As a local journalist, I had been asked to join the elite to cover the recent coming of age of Man O’ War Bay Vineyards. They had arrived from the city by luxury launch.

I was conveyed from my home in the farm ute. We had a splendid day, but one of the abiding take-away impressions from the day was how down-to-earth this doyenne of the wine world is. And the proof is in this great little book (her 15th) which is an insider’s guide to wine tasting and collecting. Joëlle wants you to share her passion, and she makes it very easy to do so. Recommended.

Tell You What: 2016 Feb Book Reviews6

Susanna Andrew and Jolissa Gracewood
Auckland University Press, $30

The editors of this great little book went out and rounded up the very best of New Zealand non-fiction to bring you an outstanding collection, described by John Campbell as "marvellous". The upshot is that, in one place, you can now find musings by the country’s finest writers, including Steve Braunias, Elizabeth Knox, Nicky Hager, and Ali Ikram on topics as diverse as Barbie, gay fatherhood, Keri Hulme, and Anzac Day.

All in all 24 writers (including Campbell) contributed to the collection. This would be a good one to dip in and out of as time permits.

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