Book reviews: March 2018

By: Claire Smith

NZMCD reviews some of the latest titles to hit the bookshelves in March 2018

Enlightenment Now

Steven Pinker

Allen Lane

RRP $40

Enlightenment -NowWhen Bill Gates describes a book as his "new favourite book of all time," I figure it’s probably worth picking up. And this one certainly was. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now presents that idea that—despite the headlines touting chaos, terror, and doom—we are actually living longer, healthier, safer, happier and more prosperous lives not just in the West, but across the globe.

Chapter by chapter, Pinker debunks the idea that mankind, earth, and all upon it, are heading to hell in a handbasket. Which, let’s face it, isn’t hard to believe these days. He explains that this progress is not the result of some cosmic force but a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. A fascinating read that will provide some excellent conversation starters for the next campsite get-together.

Gentle Giant

Annemarie Florian and Terry Fitzgibbon

New Holland


Gentle -Giant _Front -Cover _Hi -ResWhen fully grown, New Zealand’s giant weta can be heavier than a mouse or sparrow. But don’t worry too much, it’s fairly unlikely you’ll happen upon one on your travels. Impressed with the spectacular size and startling features of these colossal crickets, Maori dubbed them Wetapunga, god of ugly things. Later, scientists chose the genus name Deinacrida, demon grasshopper.

So far, 11 Giant species have been identified throughout New Zealand, and since 2009, the Weta Recovery Group established by DOC has collaborated with dedicated organisations, iwi, and individuals to help safeguard this threatened species. This is the second book from Annemarie Florian in this series introducing threatened species.

Her book Kiwi: the real story won the Children’s Choice Non-Fiction award in 2013. A wonderful book for littlies who are fascinated by nature and keen to know more about these unique New Zealand creatures.

The Pearl Sister

Lucinda Riley


RRP $34.99

The -Pearl -Sister -TPBThe Pearl Sister is the fourth book in the number one international bestselling Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. CeCe D’Aplièse has never felt she fitted in anywhere. Following the death of her father, she finds herself at breaking point.

Dropping out of art college, CeCe watches as Star, her beloved sister, distances herself to follow her new love, leaving her completely alone. In desperation, she decides to flee England and discover her past; the only clues she has are a black-and-white photograph and the name of a woman pioneer who lived in Australia over one hundred years ago.

En route to Sydney, CeCe heads to the one place she has ever felt close to being herself: the stunning beaches of Krabi, Thailand. There, among the backpackers, she meets the mysterious Ace, a man as lonely as she is and whom she subsequently realises has a secret to hide.

The Melody

Jim Crace



The -MelodyAlfred Busi is struggling to come to terms with being a widow. Now in his 60s, he was once famed and loved in his town for his music and songs. After the death of his wife, he is resigned to living out his days alone in the large villa he always called home.

The night before he is due to attend a ceremony at the town’s avenue of fame, Alfred is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids his larder. Convinced it wasn’t an animal, but a child, his words fan the flames of old rumour, and soon Alfred and the town he loves are altered irrevocably.

Although he’s a new author to my bookshelf, Jim Crace is a prize-winning writer of 11 books and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize with his 2013 novel, Harvest. The Melody is beautifully written, utterly addictive, and completely satisfying.

Money in the Morgue

Ngaio Marsh &

Stella Duffy

Harper Collins


2024082529A beautifully executed completion of an unfinished novel, started during the Second World War by Ngaio Marsh—one of the finest female crime writers of her generation. Working from three chapters and a loose synopsis, Stella Duffy has written the first Inspector Alleyn mystery in 35 years.

In this wonderfully written book, it’s business as usual for Mr Golssop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across the Canterbury Plains. But when his car breaks down, he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Saeger Hospital.

Trapped with him are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery, and a potential killer.

Be in to win a copy of Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy. Competition ends on 9 April 2018.


Crystal Reign

Kelly Lyndon

Remnant Press


Crystal -Reign -CoverChances are you probably know someone who has had their lives affected in some way by methamphetamine. It’s unfortunate and worrying, but drugs like meth are becoming increasingly available and are therefore affecting more New Zealanders and their families. In this gripping novel, the author sheds light on the problem of meth addiction in New Zealand. A page-turning read that the author was compelled to write after witnessing first-hand the destruction it causes.

"I have seen parents lose children, and children lose parents to this drug, and all I could do is watch helplessly," says author Kelly Lyndon. "This is the book I wanted to read but couldn’t find, so I decided to write it myself."

Definitely not an easy read, and very graphic in parts, but it certainly provides insight into what is becoming a disturbingly common addiction.

Eat Happy

Melissa Hemsley

Penguin Random House


Eat -HappyIf you and your family love to experiment with delicious new ways with food but are time-poor, this accessible collection of recipes and practical tips is the perfect way to update your kitchen repertoire. Eat Happy is a book about being kind to yourself and eating inventive veg-packed yet simple food with easy-to-find supermarket ingredients.

Written by Melissa Hemsley, kitchen pioneer and author of international bestsellers The Art of Eating Well and Good + Simple, each recipe is simple, nutritious, delicious, and takes only 30 minutes to make. Melissa’s key eating philosophies are about comfort, healthy ingredients, and bold flavours with plenty of focus on cutting down on kitchen waste and clever ways to work with leftovers.

Her recipes are also inspired by a fusion of food influences from around the globe and give a nod to Melissa’s Filipino mum.

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