Book reviews June 23

Book Reviews: June 2023

Cuddle up with a mug of something hot and these exciting new reads that delve into some of the more brutal sides of life – and also what makes us happy. Like baking. Baking makes everyone happy!

Where Light Meets Water

Susan Patterson
RRP $37.99

In 1847, Scotsman Tom Rutherford is a sailor and an artist. Sent to sea at just 13 years of age after the loss of his father, Tom knows nothing but life on tall ships, and is determined to captain his own.

On shore leave while his ship is being repaired, Tom meets Catherine Ogilvie, a captivating woman and singular artist who chafes against the constraints of her privileged but stifling London life.

While Tom breathes life into his art through exacting detail, Catherine’s vision is bold and vivid. As Tom and Catherine begin to share their stories in pigment, Tom’s world is opened to creative possibility and his lifelong ambitions risk being upturned. But the sea calls to Tom, and an impossible choice awaits him.

Where Light Meets Water explores the power of art – to transform a life, to connect us to others and to nurture us through grief.




To Distant Shores

William C. Hammond
McBooks Press
RRP $69.95

A gripping historical novel set in the 1840s that goes from North America all the way to Aotearoa New Zealand. As America entered the 1840s and began expanding its dominion over North America and opening lucrative overseas markets in Asia and elsewhere, all that was needed to secure its place on the world stage was an alliance with a like-minded nation with the naval resources to guarantee the integrity of global trade routes and the financial rewards accruing to both parties of such an alliance.

In pursuit of this goal, Captain Richard Cutler commands the new United States steam frigate Suwanee on a mission to the South Seas and the distant shores of New Zealand.

While To Distant Shores is part of The Cutler Family Chronicles, it is also a stand-alone read. A seamless blend of history, a page-turning plot and unforgettable characters. To Distant Shores is a very entertaining read that you will find hard to put down.

Review: Bürstner Lyseo TD 736 Harmony Line




From Here To There

Joe Bennett
HarperCollins NZ
RRP $35.00

Joe Bennett’s famously irreverent prose has been published in more than 20 books. From Here To There, his first memoir, confronts and reflects on his journey from childhood to manhood, and his long – and fruitless – struggle against teaching for a living. This is Joe Bennett’s life story – well, the first 30 years, and the most informative, according to him.

Born during the baby boom into middle class southern England, the youngest of four grew up spoiled, chubby and eager. A childhood of fishing, cricket, dogs, games, friends, school, mild molestation, and the odd death. Then – as he describes it – the long-haired gloom and vehemence of adolescence; moody and transgressional, and writing with love and sex.

Eventually emerging from university with a degree in English and a determination to do anything except teaching, he falls into a sequence of teaching and travel before landing in New Zealand age 30, intending to stay a year before moving to Australia. He’s still here.



Double Jeopardy

Stef Harris
Quentin Wilson Publishing
RRP $37.50

The third novel from New Zealand senior police officer, filmmaker and author Stef Harris, Double Jeopardy is an old-school crime novel with a surprisingly modern twist.

Set in the City of Boston, we meet the now-retired cop Frank Winter, a former hard-boiled Boston detective with a soft centre, living in curmudgeonly retirement with his beloved dog, Dolly. But when his daughter’s killer is released on parole, Frank becomes a man on a mission, and he’s thrown back into his old detective life.

Along for the ride with Frank is a rookie minder cop, who may be great with computers but is somewhat scared of guns, plus help from the desirable Destiny, and the story of Double Jeopardy moves along at a cracking pace, aided by some strong characters, well-paced action, dark humour and excellent dialogue.

Double Jeopardy is a great read and if you’re into old-school storytelling with well-developed characters, be sure to pick up a copy.

People: Julja Vogt



Baked in One

Penguin Random House
RRP $48.00

Baking is often a forgotten pastime for motorhomers, with the need for big kitchens, lots of equipment and hordes of ingredients often an essential part of the process. But all is not lost; social media sensation Fitwaffle, with some seven million followers, and author of the bestselling Baking It Easy, brings you 100 quick and easy cakes, cookies, brownies and cheesecakes – using just one tin. Perfect for life on the road.

Included are some of Fitwaffle’s most popular bakes and no-bakes from social media, as well as some brand-new recipes. There are also lots of recipes with less than five ingredients, such as Red Velvet Rolls and Peanut Butter White Chocolate Cookie Bars (yum!), as well as some showstopping creations that are sure to impress friends and family, such as unicorn fudge and an epic six-layer brownie recipe. So get out your mixing bowl and try some of these out.





The Glasgow Smile

Chris Stuart
Original Sin Press
RRP $35.00

From the New Zealand award-winning author of For Reasons of Their Own comes her second page-turning crime thriller. In a grimy graffiti-covered recess in one of Melbourne tangled inner city laneways, a woman is found murdered.

So begins the story of Detective Inspector Robbie Gray and officer Mac, as they try to determine a motive for this brutal crime, while also grappling with their own demons of guilt and failure. When an arrest is made, DI Robbie Gray realises that not all killers hold a weapon, masks don’t always disguise and the legacy of long-held secrets can have tragic consequences.

The gritty dark alleys of Melbourne make a perfect setting for murder, and the riveting story might just send some shivers down your spine. Maybe have a quick Google search for ‘Glasgow Smile’ if you don’t know what it is – but brace yourself; it’s not for the faint-hearted.

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