Book reviews July 2018

By: Claire Smith

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

Journey to Health

By Simone Anderson

Published by Allen & Unwin

RRP $32.99

Journey -to -Health

I picked up this book from a colleague’s desk, not really expecting to read past the first page. I’d heard a bit about Simone’s story—she lost over half her body weight and became a social media sensation after posting pictures of herself throughout her weight loss journey that most would be too embarrassed to look at themselves, let show the entire world.

To be honest, I’d made a few presumptions about Simone before reading the book that she took the easy option by having surgery, and that she was a bit of a show pony. I was surprised (and quite ashamed of my presumptions) to find myself warming to her very quickly—to her courageous honesty, her sense of humour, and her admirable determination. Her story is fascinating and makes for an inspirational read.


By Rebecca Loncraine

Published by Picador

RRP $34.99

SkyboundBritish freelance writer Rebecca Loncraine was diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-30s. Two years later, and after months of gruelling treatment, she flew in a glider for the first time and immediately fell in love.

Rebecca’s illness meant she had lost touch with the world around her, but gliding showed her a way to learn to live again. Travelling from the Black Mountains in Wales to New Zealand’s Southern Alps and the Nepalese Himalayas, Rebecca chased her newfound passion—her need to fly with the birds, to push herself to the boundary of her own fear.

Skybound is a book about learning to live again. Deeply moving, thrilling, and euphoric, this is a book for anyone who has ever looked up and wanted to take flight.

The Water Cure

By Sophie Mackintosh

Published by Hamish Hamilton

RRP $35

The -Water -CureWe all love an inspirational, uplifting book where love conquers all. But this isn’t it. Yet it is a captivating read.

The Water Cure is the story of three sisters who have been brought up on a reclusive island, kept apart from the world, which according to their parents, is toxic and harmful, especially to women. Their parents subject them to rituals and therapies designed to protect them and keep them immune from toxins that might drift into their world.

Then one day, their father disappears. Soon after, three men wash up on shore, and their mother goes missing also. The safe compound the women have become accustomed to becomes uncertain and their world begins to change. Melancholic, intriguing, and thought-provoking, The Water Cure is a very satisfying weekend read.

The Language of Kindness

By Christie Watson

Published by Chatto & Windus

RRP $35

The -Language -of -KindnessAward-winning author Christie Watson was a registered nurse for 20 years before turning to writing as a career. In her latest book, she shares her journey of nursing, from her early days as a trainee, through her experience in the birthing, psychiatric, and children’s wards, to A&E, and the mortuary.

The Language of Kindness offers valuable insight into the role of nursing and the hard work and care that nurses offer their patients. Christie provides a fascinating account of a profession that is so crucial to society. Often overworked, understaffed, and underpaid, Christie’s nursing experience is defined not by the hardships nurses endure, but by acts of care, compassion, and kindness.

A very timely read as the New Zealand nursing industry continues their negotiations for better pay and improved working conditions.


By Sharlene Teo

Published by Picador

RRP $34.99

Ponti -book -reviewFriendless and fatherless, 16-year-old Szu lives in the shadow of her mother, Amisa, once a beautiful actress and now a hack medium performance séances with her sister in a rusty house in Singapore. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into an intense friendship and offers Szu a means of escape from her mother’s alarming solitariness.

Some 17 years later, Circe is struggling through a divorce in a fraught and ever-changing Singapore when a project comes up at work: a remake of the cult '70s horror film series Ponti, the project that defined Amisa’s short-lived career. Suddenly, Circe is knocked off balance: by memories of the two women she once knew, by guilt, and by a past that threatens her conscience.

Be in to win a copy of Ponti by Sharlene Teo.


Competition ends 27 July 2018.

The Bridge

By Enza Gandolfo

Published by Scribe

RRP $32.99

The -BridgeIn 1970s Melbourne, 22-year-old Italian migrant Antonello is newly married and working as a rigger on the West Gate Bridge. When the bridge collapses one October morning, killing 35 of his workmates, his world crashes down on him.

In 2009, Jo and her best friend, Ashleigh, are on the verge of finishing high school and flush with the possibilities for their future. But one terrible mistake sets Jo’s life on a radically different course. Drawing on true events of Australia’s worst industrial accident—a tragedy that still scars the city—The Bridge is a profoundly moving novel that examines class, guilt, and moral culpability.

Yet it shows that even the most harrowing of situations can give way to forgiveness and redemption. Ultimately, it is a testament to survival and the resilience of the human spirit.

Bad Jelly the Witch

By Spike Milligan

Published by Puffin

RRP $28

Bad -JellyI have fond memories of listening to Spike Milligan’s classic Bad Jelly the Witch on the Sunday morning kids show on the radio as a kid. It’s one of my absolute favourite childhood stories, if a little dark (as the best ones always are).

The book itself doesn’t really do the story justice; the font is a little hard to read and the pictures aren’t quite as exciting as those I imagined in my mind as a child. But it does come with a CD to listen to, so littlies can read along with the CD.

If, like me, you loved this story as a child, then I’d encourage you to grab a copy and reconnect with Tim and Rose, Lucy the cow, Binklebonk the Tree Goblin, Mudwiggle the worm, Silly Sausage the grasshopper, Dinglemouse, Jim the Eagle, and, of course, the scariest of all witches, Bad Jelly.

Fishing for Maui

By Isa Pearl Ritchie

Published by Te Ra

Aroha Press

RRP $34.99

Fishing -for -Maui ---Front ---(RGB)This fantastic new release by Wellington-based writer Isa Ritchie is a story of a family in crisis. Valerie reads George Eliot to get to sleep just to take her mind off worries over her patients, her children, their father, and the next family dinner. Elena is so obsessed with health, traditional food, her pregnancy, and her blog, she doesn’t notice that her partner, Malcolm the ethicist, is getting himself into a moral dilemma of his own making.

Evie wants to save the world one chicken at a time. Meanwhile her boyfriend, Michael is on a quest to reconnect to his Maori heritage and discover his own identity. Rosa is eight years old and lost in her own fantasy world, but she’s the only one who can tell something’s not right.

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