Book reviews: January 2018

By: Claire Smith

Heading away for some well-earnt rest and relaxation? Don’t forget to pack a good book!


Potton & Burton

RRP $24.99

Aotearoa -book -reviewsUsing the best of contemporary digital photography, Aotearoa, The New Zealand Experience showcases both the extraordinary landscapes that draw people to this country and the fantastic opportunities that visitors have to enjoy themselves and experience what these islands have to offer.

All of the key hotspots, from Auckland, Rotorua, and the Northland Island volcanoes, to Milford Sound, the Southern Lakes, and Aoraki Mount Cook are well covered with stunning, bright imagery that brilliantly captures what it is like to experience New Zealand.

This beautiful book would make an ideal gift for friends visiting New Zealand, or help find inspiration for your next travel destination.

We're giving away a copy of Aotearo. Be in to win by entering your details on our competition page. Deadline: 9 February 2018.

Faking Friends

Jane Fallon

Penguin Random House NZ

RRP $37

Faking -FriendsOn the verge of the wedding of her dreams, Amy thinks she knows her best friend pretty well. When her career suddenly begins to unravel, she decides to pay a surprise trip home to London.

Her boyfriend Jack is out, but it looks like another woman has been making herself at home … and that Other Woman is her best friend, Melissa. Amy has lost her job, her fiancé, her best friend, and her home in one disastrous weekend, but instead of falling apart, she’s determined to get her own back.

A compelling read with a few nicely timed twists that just might have you second-guessing all you think you know about your own best friends!

New Zealand Wines 2018

Michael Cooper

Upstart Press


New -Zealand -Wines -2018It’s a tough job being a wine critic, and no one is quite as experienced as Michael Cooper. In fact, he’s New Zealand’s most acclaimed wine writer, with 40 books and a number of major literary awards to his credit.

Fair to say he knows his stuff then. Designed to help you make informed choices about the best quality wines available, New Zealand Wines, now in its 26th edition, is a must-have for both new initiates and wine-buffs alike. Divided by grape variety to help selection, this comprehensive guide includes vintage ratings, star ratings for quality, and a dryness/sweetness guide.

It also features a Classic Wines section: wines that consistently achieve an outstanding level of quality for at least three vintages.

New Zealand

Rob Suisted

Potton & Burton

RRP $49.99 (standard), $19.99 (pocket)

New -ZealandRob Suisted is one of New Zealand’s most established and best-known photographers, with 16 books published of his work and his photos visible in many different, high-profile settings, including New Zealand Post postage stamps and New Zealand banknotes.

His latest book, New Zealand, is a tribute to the quality and depth of his landscape photography, a collection of his best work that reflects a lifetime of interest in, and a deep concern for the remarkable diversity of the New Zealand landscape.

Beautifully produced in both large and small format, this book is a testament to the skill a dedication of one of this country’s most important landscape photographers.

The Chalk Man

C.J Tudor

Penguin Random House NZ

RRP $37

The -Chalk -ManI’d love to tell you all about The Chalk Man. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it past the prologue, which opens with a rather morbid murder scene. I’m just not up for it this early in the year. But for those of you who love a good thriller/murder mystery, this one is reputed to be an absolute must-read, so don’t let me put you off.

The first novel of C.J. Tudor, who grew up on a diet of Stephen King and James Herbert, The Chalk Man is described as a riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry… wonderfully compelling with twists that will shock even the savviest reader. Hmmm, maybe I will take another look…

The Innocent Wife

Amy Lloyd

Penguin Random House NZ

RRP $37

The -Innocent -WifeTwenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free him of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’ case. She exchanges letter with him and is quickly won over by his charm and kindness. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release. But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be so innocent after all.

White Chrysanthemum

Mary Lynn Bracht

Penguin Random House NZ

RRP $37

White -ChrysanthemumThis heart-breaking story is centred around two Korean sisters separated by the Second World War. Hana and Emi are part of an island community of haenyeo, women who make the living diving into the sea to gather shellfish.

One day, Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for when Emi is guarding the day’s catch on the beach. So begins the traumatic story of their separation and the terrible events that follow. The book is captivating from the very beginning, although some parts are harrowing to read.

The author does a great job of switching the story between 1943 and the present day and an equally great job of shining light on to a dark and devastating corner of Korea’s history.

Turtles all the Way Down

John Green

Penguin Random House NZ

RRP $30

Turtles -All -The -Way -DownAuthor John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska) is well-loved among teens, my own included. But he also has a strong adult following, and this month, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Turtles All The Way Down centres on 16-year-old Aza, her best friend Daisy, and the mystery of a missing billionaire.

Aza and Daisy become amateur detectives in his search when a huge reward is offered. As the story progresses, we learn that Aza, who passes as an ordinary teenager on the outside, struggles with frightening, anxiety-ridden thoughts that intrude on every aspect of her daily life.

A great read that offers valuable insight into the world of those who suffer from anxiety and OCD.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook