Book reviews

Book Reviews June 2022

Sometimes nothing feels as good as curling up with a good book. This June we’re featuring reads from some household names, and a few brilliant new authors.

The Improbable Life Of Ricky Bird

Diane Connell

Simon & Schuster

RRP $35

Ricky Bird loves making up stories for her little brother Ollie almost as much as she loves him. The imaginary worlds she creates are wild and whimsical – places full of unlimited possibilities. No-one loves making forts for Ollie more than Ricky either. A fort is a place of safety and possibility, shutting out the world and enclosing them both within any story she wanted to tell. Ricky likes shutting out the world because real life isn’t nearly as much fun; Ricky’s father has abandoned them, and they live in a bleak new neighbourhood with her mother’s new boyfriend, Dan. But Ricky is a force to be reckoned with, and as the mastermind of so many plots, she knows her imagination can get her through anything. But a gypsy prediction comes true, and not even Ricky could have imagined the consequences…This incredible book will stay with you; it’s beautiful, thoughtful, hilarious, raw and heartwarming. Keep the tissues handy.

Killing Floor

Lee Child

Bantam Press

RRP $24

To celebrate 25 years of the legendary author Lee Child, Killing Floor – Child’s first book that introduces the now-iconic Jack Reacher – is back. Reacher fans will love this book, which contains a specially-commissioned new foreword from Philip Pullman as well as reflections from the author himself. In the book, ex-military policeman Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks 14 miles down a country road into Margrave, Georgia, an arbitrary decision he’s about to regret. Reacher is the only stranger in town on the day the town has its first murder in 30 years. He’s arrested, and the police chief becomes an eyewitness that places him at the scene. Nasty secrets leak out and the body count mounts…and they are about to discover that they’ve picked the wrong guy to take the fall. First published back in 1997, this award-winning book is packed with mystery, excitement and action.

After Steve: How Apple Became A Trillion-Dollar Company And Lost Its Soul

Tripp Mickle

HarperCollins GB

RRP $37.99

Meet Flora & Bjorn and their 1989 Isuzu Bus

From Wall Street Journal writer Tripp Mickle comes the dramatic, untold story inside Apple after Steve Jobs’ passing. Through Steve’s top lieutenants Jony Ive, the chief design officer, and Tim Cook, the COO-turned-CEO, we learn how the fading of the former and the rise of the latter led to Apple losing its soul. Steve Jobs called London-born genius Jony his ‘spiritual partner at Apple’, and he was the second most powerful person in the company. He designed the iPod, iPad, MacBook Air, the iMac G3 and the iPhone. After Steve’s death, Jony wrestled with his grief, initially throwing himself into work before losing motivation in a company increasingly more devoted to margins than innovation. Cook was Jony’s opposite: rising through the company from the supply side, his gift was to invent countless ways to maximise a margin, squeeze suppliers and terrorise subordinates. Steve had selected Cook as his successor, however, and Cook oversaw a revenue growth that lifted Apple’s valuation to $3 trillion. Tripp spoke to over 200 Apple employees past and present, and learned that success has its downside; Apple hasn’t designed a new category of device in years. Utterly fascinating stuff.

The Astromancer: The Rising Of Matariki

Witi Ihimaera

Picture Puffin

RRP $25

This lively children’s story, written by multi-award winning Witi Ihimaera and beautifully illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White reveals the tradition of Matariki, and the story of a dramatic attack and a battle of wills, woven around details of the Māori lunar calendar. The Astromancer is looking for four new apprentices to learn about Matariki and the Maramataka calendar. She chooses three boys and an orphan girl, Aria, who will only come if her smelly dog comes too. However, Aria is bored by the lessons; she isn’t very good at being told what to do. But these are dangerous times, and Ruatapu the Ravenous is about to threaten the safety of the whole tribe. Will Aria step up and save them? This is a great book for explaining Matariki to Kiwi kids, the perfect present from parents or grandparents as a way of explaining this year’s inaugural Matariki holiday. The book is also available in te reo Māori as Te Kōkōranga, translated by Heni Jacob.

NZ 2050

George Bryant

Into The Wilderness: A Motorhome Adventure

Daystar Books

RRP $26.95

Do you ever wonder what New Zealand will look like in 2050? Three decades can make a lot of difference: back in 1992, Bill Clinton was elected President of the US, AT&T introduced the first video phone, Jim Bolger was in power in New Zealand, Shortland Street was created and Les Mills was mayor of Auckland. In NZ 2050, Prolific author George Bryant has fast-forwarded thirty years, and answers some key questions: what sort of people will we be? What values will we hold? What’s the future of our education, and how will the gap look between rich and poor. By 2050 the pace of change and human creativity will ensure society will look different, just as it does now from 1992. However, any number of world events could upset everything. Big Brother will certainly still be watching us more than ever, and the way we work and play will change. New technologies and artificial intelligences will have a significant influence on how we live; and what of our agriculture, health, religion? This book gives some insights on our future, both in terms of what we want, and what we will collectively create.

With A Mind To Kill

Anthony Horowitz

Trade Paperback

RRP $37

The bestselling author behind Trigger Mortis, Forever and a Day, the teen spy Alex Rider series, Sherlock Holmes and even TV’s Poirot and Midsomer Murders, Anthony Horowitz needs little introduction. This time, in his latest explosive James Bond novel, we’re at M’s funeral. One man is missing from the graveside: the infamous spy and traitor James Bond, who is in custody accused of M’s murder. Behind the Iron Curtain, a group of former Smersh and Stasi agents now want to use their lethal British spy against a target whose assassination will change history. Bond is smuggled into the lion’s den to receive his orders – but whose orders is he following, and what will he do when the time comes to pull the trigger? In a mission where one false move means death, Bond must also grapple with the darkest questions about himself – but not even he knows what’s happened to the man he used to be.



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