Book reviews: August 2016


The MCD team has selected the best of some recent inspiring reads.

Mãori Place Names Maori -Place -Names

A.W. Reed
Oratia Books, $30

It’s Mãori Language Week as I compile the books’ page and it seems like the perfect time to offer up an opportunity for a read to win this book. The revised edition of A.W. Reed’s classic takes the traveller behind the scenes of the landscape to the time when Mãori first discovered a new place and gave it a name – often more meaningful – than that which superseded it.

I think it is widely agreed that Te Ika-a-Mãui has a little more romance to it than North Island; while Te Waipounamou certainly sounds a great deal better than South Island. Other examples include: Kahurangi – which translates to blue skies; while Remuera (correctly Remuwera) means burnt buttocks. Nice.

I Found You I_found _you

Lisa Jewell
Random House NZ, $37

In this instance, the cover belies the book inside. I read it in a day-and-a-half when my brain was too tired for anything too meaty. Yet, while it was light enough to fit the bill, it was also gripping enough to be hard to put down, and well beyond the Chick Lit impression given by the cover.

I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery of the man with no memory who turned up one day on the beach outside the house of single mother and artist Alice Lake. Meanwhile, newly married Lily Montrose is frantically searching for her husband. The two stories unexpectedly meet in a satisfactory way after a highly suspenseful story.

Highly recommended for a dull day’s read.

Salt River Songs Salt -River -Songs

Sam Hunt
Potton and Burton, $25

Mostly about death does not sound like a recommendation for a book of poems and yet this wee collection of poems to celebrate Sam Hunt’s 70th birthday is more wistful than depressing. I recommended it to a colleague and she read a few lines, smiling. "You really need to hear them in his voice, don’t you?" she said. I told her I had heard Sam reciting some on the radio a few days before. And she said, "No I mean you should read them imagining them read by him…" And she’s right. You can. And they sounded a great deal better when I did.

Speed King Speed -King2

David Hill and Phoebe Morris
Penguin Books NZ, $25

For all the other parents and grandparents out there, I’ve decided to throw in a few of the children’s books on offer in publicity material that catch my eye. Naturally, I was captivated by the familiar story of Burt Monroe who, in 1967, set a new land-speed record at Bonneville.

The story – beautifully illustrated by Phoebe Morris – opens at the end of the story where a crowd is gathered to witness Burt’s attempt. It then travels back in time to Burt’s birth in 1899 on an Invercargill farm and traces his journey through to the world record attempt.

It’s gorgeous! Kids might also like it.

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