Book reviews

Book reviews: August 2023

We love nothing more than a good selection of books to choose from on chilly winter nights (and days). This month, we’re serving up an eclectic collection of newly released books, which we reckon are deserving of your attention.

In Old God’s Time
Sebastian Barry
Allen and Unwin
$36.99

Irish to the bone, author Sebastian Barry tackles that which is uniquely, culturally familiar to him: the Irish childhood lived at a time when the Catholic Church loomed darkly over every aspect of society. Tom Kettle has recently retired from the Garda and moved to a small apartment overlooking the Irish Sea.

The other inhabitants are at first a mystery to him, but he’s slowly drawn into their lives when former colleagues seek him out for help with a cold case involving the gruesome, frenzied, death of a Catholic priest and the conviction of another. Perhaps Tom can help solve it?

A word of warning: readers expecting a murder mystery might have to brace themselves for the shocking themes Barry tackles in this exquisitely contrived and executed book.

Hannah & Huia
Charlotte Lobb
Quentin Wilson Publishing
$37.50

This debut novel by Charlotte Lobb is a thought-provoking exploration of mental health issues. The Kiwi author has crafted a memorable story about hope and finding purpose in life – even when it seems that hope is lost. Shaped around two women from wildly different backgrounds and families, this powerful story is poignant and unforgettable.

Following the journey of Hannah, who’s in a mental health unit after the unthinkable sudden death of her husband and baby son, and long-term resident Huia, who lives in her own world, the novel is emotionally laden, spanning heartache, despair, and hopelessness, but threaded with glimmers of understanding and redemption.

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It’s also a compassionate and thoughtful handling of mental health issues.


The Immunity Food
Fix Cookbook
Donna Beydoun Mazzola
and Sarah Steffens
Penguin Random House
$45

Nourishing recipes designed to help reverse inflammation, heal the gut, and prevent illness are at the heart of this book, which has been thoughtfully created by a nutritionist and a chef. It’s packed with information on diet and the immune system, nutrition and immunity, and immunometabolism and metabolic flexibility. There’s also an entire chapter dedicated to eating to heal and prevent disease, and that’s before the recipes even begin – 75 delicious superfood recipes designed to help support your body’s natural defences. Say farewell to highly processed, nutrient-empty foods and embrace ingredients that heal and strengthen, as you continue to grow your awareness around the fact that what you eat matters.

Homecoming
Kate Morton
Allen & Unwin
$36.99

If you’re an avid reader who gleefully discovers a favourite new author, then binge-reads everything you can get your hands on by that same author, then strap in for a roller coaster ride and prepare to immerse yourself in Kate Morton. The worldwide bestselling author consistently delivers richly complex but addictive novels. Homecoming is clever and beguiling, built around a crime that occurred in 1959 in South Australia, and following its ripple effects across continents and generations. It’s the delicious and intricate journey that explores the mesmerising connections between past and present.

 

Kiwis & Cortinas
Gordon Campbell
Bateman Books
$49.99

Steeped in nostalgia, the Ford Cortina means many different things to people from all walks of life. From the Consul Cortina to the Mark I and the Mark V, the Cortina in all of its iterations is loved by many generations. The distinctive vehicle has become something of a cultural icon in New Zealand. Author Gordon Campbell has clearly enjoyed the journey of spending time with 35 Ford Cortina owners (with one ardent collector who owns 26, and a 16-year-old with a passion for classic cars). It’s an enjoyable book to meander through even if you’re not Cortina-obsessed.

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Kiwis on Harleys
George Lockyer
Bateman Books
$49.99

Whether or not you’re a keen Harley-Davidson fan, odds are you’ll still find yourself poring over this collection of fascinating characters from around New Zealand and their passion for this iconic American motorcycle. From collectors, restorers, and racers to those who ride for pure enjoyment (including a train-driving drag racer and female bus driver), it’s an unexpectedly diverse group of 28 who opened their garage doors (and lives) to author George Lockyer. We’re a bit of a sucker for the opportunity of a sneak peek into other people’s lives and what makes them tick, and Kiwis on Harleys checks all the boxes. It’s a fun read and one you can dip into a chapter at a time at your leisure.

Win books!

We have one copy each of Kiwis on HarleysKiwis & Cortinas, and Hannah & Huia to give away. Enter at our competition page.

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