Book reviews: October 2016


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

Supermodel tips Oct _Books _1

Carly Hobbs
Penguin Random Books NZ, $28

If you’ve ever wondered how they do it, you’ll enjoy this compact book full of tips from the supermodels. Even those of us not blessed with the legs and the looks of the supermodel will find something to elevate their looks (if not their mood).

I had a chuckle at this tip from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: "I always religiously take my make-up off at night. It doesn’t matter how late it is – or how intoxicated I might be – the make-up always comes off." And this golden one from ‘60s legend Twiggy: "Dress your attitude, not your age".

Blue Dog Oct _Books _2

Louis de Bernières
Penguin Random House NZ, $34

This charming story, from the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin among others, follows the journey of a young boy and his dog as they adventure through the outback.

The book is a prequel to the bestselling Red Dog and follows Mick as he’s sent to the outback to live with his Grandpa after a family tragedy. It looks as if he has a lonely life ahead of him and the cattle station is a tough place for a child, where nature is brutal and the men work hard in the heat and dust. However, after a cyclone hits, things change for Mick. Exploring the flood waters he finds a lost puppy covered in mud and half-drowned. Mick and the dog immediately become inseparable as they take on the adventures offered by their unusual home, and the business of growing up, together.

Granddad’s wheelies Oct _Books _3

Jack Lasenby
Penguin Random Books NZ, $17

Jack Lasenby is apparently one of New Zealand’s best-known authors of children’s literature. Unfortunately, without the benefit of a New Zealand upbringing, I had never heard of him until this book came to my attention. But now I’ll be looking up his previous titles, because this tweenage title is hilarious.

It’s full of tall tales which in some ways are true. You’ll love it as well as enjoy reading it to the young… and the not-so-young.

Love and Magic Oct _Books _4

John Hanlon
Lighthouse PR, $20

This magical collection of yarns has at its heart truths and lessons that will leave you with a wonderfully whimsical perspective on life. Collected together by ‘70s singer-songwriter, John Hanlon, these are extraordinary tales about ordinary people, told with empathy and imagination. One shows that when it comes to love, you can’t disguise what’s in the eyes.

Another explores the idea that the miracle of love just requires a little Yin and Yang. There’s the sensitive but tragic tale of the love of a lifetime vanishing overnight, and a man mourning a past life and love discovering that the greatest love of all is his love of life itself. In the tradition of writers like O. Henry and Dahl, Hanlon takes great delight in putting a twist in every tale.

Bloomsbury South Oct _Books _5

Peter Simpson
Auckland University Press, $70

This chunky hardback book about the arts in Christchurch from 1833-1953, is a charming retrospective on the avant-garde ‘Bloomsbury set’ of the South. It’s an extraordinary fact that the city which was contrived to be more English than England – and with a similar social structure – should time and again foster creative minds such as those of the acclaimed architect Sir Warren Miles, who forged new frontiers for the arts.

As the introduction notes: "It is always, to some extent, a mystery why talent suddenly coalesces at a particular place and time, flaring into something unexpected and extraordinary…" Author Peter Simpson is the former Head of English at the University of Auckland and a founder of Holloway Press.

Outdoors Oct _Books _6

Jeremy Schmid
New Holland, $45

Outdoors: Simple, Delicious food for Barbecues, Spits and Open Fires might not be the longest title for a book, but I’m unsure of another that would beat it. Verbosity aside, the book is big on ideas to get the most from your outdoor cooking. Outdoors includes recommendations for equipment and recipes for accompaniments, including sides and sauces.

It’s also a comprehensive Kiwi-styled book from a graduate chef who attended the prestigious Culinary Art Institute of America in Napa Valley. Schmid’s first book, From Bangers to Bacon, was shortlisted for a Gourmand World Cookbook award and I was very taken with his recipes. Yum.

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