Book Reviews: October 2020

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Maori Made Fun

Scotty and Stacey

Morrison Penguin

RRP $25

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Maori Made Fun offers a brand-new way to learn te reo Maori, with over 200 word games, puzzles and activities – a jam-packed box of te reo tricks for everyone. Whether you’re already a confident speaker of Maori or you’re just getting started, if you use te reo every day or almost never, if you have one hour spare or only one minute, this book is a fantastic resource. Authors Scotty and Stacey Morrision have been instrumental in the resurgence of learning te reo Maori, particularly within New Zealand’s younger generation. They have perfected the skill of making learning te reo fun and fascinating and give great ideas on how to use this wonderful language in our everyday lives. This awesome learning tool offers crosswords, word finds, rhyming riddles, visual puzzles, colouring-in, code crackers and number puzzles, plus much more. 


For Reasons of Their Own

Chris Stuart

Original Sin Press

RRP $35

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This thrilling debut crime novel, from New Zealand author Chris Stuart, is set in Melbourne. It’s a city on the brink from arson-fed bush fires, searing heatwaves and the potential threat of terrorism. Detective Inspector Robbie Gray, falling foul of police bureaucracy, gets called to a body found lying in a rural swamp. When the nationality of the victim is revealed, Australian intelligence take over her investigation and she is sidelined. Convinced they are misinterpreting the evidence, she, along with a disenfranchised Aboriginal policeman, secretly digs for the truth and discovers an entirely different motive, one which transcends international borders and exposes corruption in the humanitarian world. When the killer is arrested, DI Robbie Gray realises that the past contains only hurt and pain and she asks herself whether, in certain circumstances, murder may well be justified. 


This Farming Life

Tim Saunders

Allen & Unwin

RRP $36.99

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This book tells the story of the joys and the harsh realities of farm life, from a writer whose family has farmed the same piece of land for five generations. Manawatu farmer Tim Saunders describes his life through the seasons: Summer, shearing, slaughter, crop harvest, conservation; Autumn, floods, trading stock, drenching, dagging; Winter, maize harvest, lambing; and Spring, docking, pet sheep, weaning. It’s a tough life, and through his powerful, poignant writing, Tim tells of his connection to the land, why he loves farming, how he’s also conflicted by it and what it is that keeps him tethered to that place. This unique account of rural life in New Zealand is well written and offers a fascinating read, even for those who have never set foot on a farm before. 



Colin Heinz Quentin

Wilson Publishing

RRP $49.99

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Upriver will appeal to everyone who loves the South Island/Te Waipounamu and wants to learn more about its diverse landscapes and story of human settlement. It’s an absorbing account of the author’s journeys to the principal sources of the 24 rivers that flow to the sea from the Main Divide of the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana. These portraits fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to form a comprehensive picture of this unique island. The book also offers all the information needed by those wishing to retrace the author’s footsteps, either in the easily accessible regions of the west or east coasts, or in the more challenging mountainous regions of the South Island. 


While the Fantail Lives

Alan Titchall

Devon Media

RRP $35

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Eleven-year-old Robert Smith narrates this colourful anti-war story set in a village in the centre of the North Island. It’s October 1962, the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the legacy of the Second World War hangs over the little hydro village. The villagers seek closure, forgiveness and even revenge, while preparing for a possible nuclear war. At the beginning of this fateful weekend, Robert has injured a fantail, the bird associated with messaging and death. It’s a white fantail that is the guardian of a ghostly presence that will wreak havoc if it escapes. While nursing the fantail, Robert finds himself caught up in an unfolding drama that involves more than a nuclear threat, and he becomes an unwitting pawn in a dangerous and intergenerational game of revenge and reconciliation. 


Where's the Loo?

Kris Mikkelson

Bateman Books

RRP $24.99

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Author Kris Mikkelson was out for dinner in London when he went to the bathroom and noticed that the toilet door sign was very interesting. So he took a photo of it. The next time he was at a restaurant, he noticed another cool toilet door sign and took another photo, and then started a photo album on his phone, ‘Toilet door signs’. From there what started as a curious hobby for Kris became something of a preoccupation with signposts to the bathroom. Sometimes wildly artistic, sometimes slick design or typography, sometimes culturally specific, often extremely clever, cheeky or downright rude: hopefully whatever the style of the toilet door sign, the message is clearly enough conveyed to save an embarrassing entry into the wrong arena. 


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