Book reviews: December 2018

NZMCD takes a look at some of the latest titles to hit the bookshelves

Nine Perfect Strangers

Liane Moriarty

RRP $37.99MacMillan Publishers


Fans of Little Big Lies, and Truly Madly Guilty will be excited to see that Liane Moriarty has just released her latest book. Nine Perfect Strangers is set within an exclusive and, as it turns out, somewhat experimental, health retreat. Nine stressed out strangers arrive at Tranquillium House, where the retreat director guarantees their lives will be transformed over just ten days.

Each of the characters comes from a different walk of life, with each bringing their own neurosis, paranoia, health concerns, and other mental baggage. From the very outset, things at the retreat seem a little off, and you quickly get the feeling that strange things are afoot. And indeed they are. The perfect book to indulge in over the summer break.


Robert Plomin

Allen Lane

RRP $40


Imagine knowing, right from birth, if you’re likely to develop depression, schizophrenia, or become obese. In his latest book, leading behavioural geneticist Robert Plomin says that such insights will soon be possible and are incredibly valuable.

He explains that our DNA is like a fortune teller and that it is more important than any other factor in shaping who we are: it influences everything from whether we are extroverted or introverted, whether we have mental illness, or are a morning person, and how well we do at school. He also believes DNA can teach us tolerance for others, explaining that genetics, not lack of willpower makes some people more prone to problems like obesity, depression and learning disabilities.  

The Cuba Street Project

Beth Brash & Alice Lloyd

Random House

RRP $55

Cuba-St.jpgNamed after a 19th-century settler ship, not the island in the Caribbean, Wellington’s famous Cuba Street is an ecosystem in its own right. It’s a cosmopolitan community of interacting artists, creatives, entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs deep in the heart of the capital city’s metropolis. And it’s all beautifully captured in words and pictures in The Cuba Street Project—an eclectic mix of classic Kiwi and international culture and history.

The book provides recipes for the dishes served by each of the showcased cafes and restaurants such as Matterhorn, Fidel’s Café, Midnight Espresso, and Grill Meets Beer, as well as interviews with the characters that give Cuba Street its unique charm.  

Yummy Easy Quick Around the World

Matt Preston


RRP $ 39.99


Fans of TV’s popular MasterChef series will be familiar with the cravat-wearing Matt Preston—one of the show’s larger-than-life judges. The award-winning chef is also one of Australia’s foremost authorities on delicious and achievable food.

In his latest recipe book, Matt has compiled 135 of his favourite iconic dishes from 11 of the world’s great cuisines, all of which are quick to prepare using easy-to-find ingredients.

Choose from tasty dishes from around the globe such as Golden Gazpacho from Spain, Lime & Tequila Granita from Mexico, or Pistachio Yoghurt Cake from the Middle East. Ditch the food delivery app and up your kitchen game with more yummy, easy, and quick meals the whole family will love. 

Be in to win a copy of Yummy Easy Quick by Matt Preston.


Competition ends on 14 December 2018.

Let’s Get Lost

Nicola McCloy, photography by Jane King

Random House NZ

RRP $45

Let's-get-lost.jpgLet’s Get Lost is a guide to the real New Zealand that few of us get a chance to explore. In its pages, you’ll pass through the sausage capital of New Zealand, take a dip in a secret lake, visit a village entirely populated by guinea pigs, revisit your childhood at the National Toy Museum, share a yarn with many a local good bugger, and so much more.

Divided into nine different areas of New Zealand, from the Far North to Southland, each is broken down into various road trips of less than three hours, with each road trip offering highlights, road conditions, and suggested stops. The perfect Christmas gift for motorhomers!

Bridge of Clay

Markus Zusak


RRP $37.99

Bridge-of-Clay.jpgAs a fan of The Book Thief, I was super keen to get stuck into Markus Zusak’s latest offering. Bridge of Clay tells the story of the Dunbar boys, who bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. Their mother is dead, their father left them. At the centre of the family is Clay, the youngest brother who will build a bridge—for his family, his past, and his sins.

Be prepared to be a little confused with this book to start with, Zusak’s writing style will demand your complete attention, but it is so very worth it. Get someone to put it in your stocking this Christmas, along with a box of tissues because you’ll need them toward the end.  

Ajax the Kea Dog

Corey Mosen

Allen & Unwin NZ

RRP $39.99

Ajax-the-kea-dog.jpgI reckon Corey Mosen has one of the best jobs in the country. As a wildlife biologist for DOC, he specialises in helping save the endangered kea in the beautiful remote areas of the South Island. And is ever-present sidekick is a gorgeous black Catahoula (a special breed of dog renowned for being highly intelligent with loads of energy) called Ajax.

 Ajax is trained to sniff out the nests of endangered kea so that Corey can monitor them, and any predators that might attack them. The strong bond between Corey and Ajax has proved vital to their survival and the important work they do. A truly heart-warming story that will have you hooked from the first page.

Made in Scotland

Billy Connelly

BBC Books

RRP $40

Made-in-Scotland.jpgBilly Connelly may be a citizen of the world, but in his heart, he’s never been far from his homeland. Made in Scotland is Billy’s unique and intimate portrait of his native Scotland, a love letter to the places and people that made him.

It’s an adventure inspired by a single incident: the moment billy received his Knighthood and was asked: "How does it feel to achieved all this when you came from nothing?" His response was "But I did come from something!" So begins a shaggy dog quest to find out what that ‘something’ was, and whether it is still there.

A great reads for fans of Billy, Scotland, or just a well-written book with a liberal sprinkling of few ‘F words’.


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