Book Reviews: January 2021


A good book is a must-have for any road trip. Here’s a quick look at some of the latest titles on the bookstore shelves for January

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Love America

Jenny Robin Jones

Calico Publishing

$36.95

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For New Zealand writer Jenny Robin Jones, the United States has always been an enigma, a series of questionable notions formed through a lifetime. "What is America?", she asks herself. Can she rely on her own personal impressions? Jones’ journey takes her to the spectacular desert lands of Taos and Santa Fe in New Mexico, where she encounters not only the Pueblo people and their rich culture, but also the memory of writers and artists such as herself who have made the same journey in the past – D H Lawrence, Willa Cather, Georgia O’Keeffe, Dorothy Brett, and many others. Where will the dice in this game she calls ‘travel roulette’ lead her? Superbly written and researched, Love America contains a fine writer’s highly personal, richly imaginative insights into a small but fascinating corner of America. 

 

Oscar Garden

Dr Annamaria Garden

Mary Egan Publishing

$45

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In 1930, after a chance remark that he should learn to fly, Oscar Garden purchased a Gipsy Moth aeroplane from Selfridges department store in London. He named it Kia Ora and embarked on a dream to fly from England to Australia. Oscar’s love of flying saw him joy riding to many places in the world, including New Zealand, South Africa, and up through Africa to Palestine. Finally, he came to rest in Auckland after delivering the Awarua, the second of New Zealand’s flying boats, used during World War II for communication and travel. He became Chief Pilot of TEAL, the New Zealand airline, for half of the war years and beyond, and eventually resigned due to serious disagreement over management and political agendas. This biography describes Oscar Garden’s fascinating journey through these episodes.

 

Shared Kitchen

Julie Biuso & Ilaria Biuso

Bateman Books

$39.99

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Award-winning Kiwi food writer and cooking personality Julie Biuso shares the kitchen bench with her daughter Ilaria, and together they have created a unique collection of enticing recipes, while also giving the classics a shakeup. You’ll find inspiring ideas for turning leftovers into scrumptious new dishes and novel ways for serving up vegetables and fruit along with pages of mouthwatering home baking and desserts. Whether it’s a white peach and nectarine salsa to enhance a late summer barbecue, a sensational coconut cashew nut curry to add to a shared meal, a serving of the crispiest beer-battered fish to serve on ‘fish Friday’, or a stacked bowl of the best-ever Mac ‘n Cheese you’ll likely ever eat, the recipes in Shared Kitchen will inspire you to get in the kitchen and have fun in the process. 

 

To Asia, With Love

Hetty McKinnon

Macmillan Publishers

RRP $39.99

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"To Asia, With Love is my homecoming, a joyous return to the humble yet deeply nurturing flavours and meals of my childhood as a Chinese girl born in Australia. It is also a celebration of the exciting and delicious possibilities of modern Asian cooking," says author Hetty McKinnon. Her tasty recipes range from the traditional – salt and pepper eggplant, a perfectly simple egg, pea and ginger fried rice – to Hetty’s uniquely modern interpretations, such as buttery miso Vegemite noodles, stir-fried salt and vinegar potatoes, and grilled wombok caesar salad with wonton crackers. All share an emphasis on seasonal vegetables and creating irresistible Asian(ish) flavours using pantry staples. Whether it’s a banh mi turned into a salad, or a rainbow guide to eating dumplings by the season, this is Asian home cooking unlike anything you’ve experienced before. 

 

Wreck This Picture Book

Keri Smith

Picture Puffin

$25

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What if there were a book that changed every time you read it? Actually, every book does this. We are all part of the books we read, because our individual reactions, ideas, and emotions make the book whole, and these things are changing all the time. Keri Smith has helped millions of people free their creativity and find their own voice with her interactive books, and now she brings that sensibility to children and to the act of reading. This picture book is an invitation to honour your own vision and to welcome imperfection. Kids will discover that reading can engage all five senses, and that what they themselves bring to a book is an important contribution. (And of course they’ll be invited to do a bit of harmless wrecking!) 

 

Sh*t Moments in New Zealand Sport

Rick Furphy and Geo Rissole

Allen & Unwin NZ

$24.99

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Rick Furphy and Geo Rissole released their bestselling debut Sh*t Towns of New Zealand in 2018, followed by Sh*t Towns of New Zealand Number Two and Sh*t Towns of Australia, before setting their sights on sport. This bitingly funny collection looks at the worst 50 moments in our sporting history. These mishaps and humiliations range from epic chokes on the world stage to refereeing injustices, to shameless off-field shenanigans. Sport is part of the fabric of our nation; it’s the core of our fragile national identity. But it can break your heart and take a dump on it in one swift movement. You’ll find some catharsis in this lighthearted, comprehensive catalogue of catastrophes, this dossier of diabolical debacles and downright disasters. 

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