Book Reviews March 2023

We’ve got some great books to share with you this month, including some personal stories and tales from New Zealanders who hail from many different walks of life.

Old babes in the wood

Margaret Atwood
Penguin Random House
RRP $50

Margaret Atwood is cultural icon, having twice won the Booker prize and being the brains behind the hugely popular A Handmaid’s Tale. Old Babes in the Wood is a highly personal new collection of stories, exploring the full warp and weft of experience, from two best friends disagreeing about their shared past, to the right way to stop someone from choking; from a daughter determining if her mother really is a witch, to what to do with inherited relics such as World War II parade swords. For us on the road, at the heart of the collection is a stunning sequence that follows a married couple as they travel the road together, the moments big and small that make up a long life of love – and what comes after. The glorious range of Atwood’s creativity and humanity is on full beam in these tales, which by turns delight, illuminate and quietly devastate.

 

 

 

 

One of those mothers

Megan Nicol Reed
Allen & Unwin
RRP $36.99

If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty-type thrillers (Big, Little Lies is fantastic), One Of Those Mothers should be next on your list from new author and NZ Herald writer Megan Nicol Reed. A raw domestic thriller, the story follows the residents of Point Heed, who keep nice houses and occasionally they cheat on their taxes. When a local father is convicted of the possession and distribution of child pornography, the tight-knit, middle class community is quick to unravel, and hysteria rapidly engulfs them. Bridget, Roz and Lucy have been friends forever. Their lives revolve around their children, their community, and each other. With their husbands and kids, they holiday together every year. Every year, until last summer, when everything went so horribly wrong. One Of Those Mothers is a true page turner, with beautiful settings, interesting characters, and a moral quandary certain to keep you hooked to the very end.

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The drinking game

Guyon Espiner
Allen & Unwin
RRP $36.99

Four years ago, investigative journalist Guyon Espiner gave up drinking alcohol. He was a heavy, yet controlled drinker since his teens – abstaining three nights a week but making up for it the other four, something many Kiwis can relate to. Then one day, Espiner woke up after a big night and decided he’d had enough and he quit. Not drinking has given Guyon a new perspective on our relationship with alcohol in Aotearoa, and a lot of it is disturbing. Weaving together personal experience, hard research and interviews, The Drinking Game examines why New Zealand has such a heavy drinking culture, the harm it causes and how our attitudes to alcohol are changing. The Drinking Game investigates the alcohol industry: the power, politics, and lobbying behind our most harmful drug. This is a sobering look into how the way you drink is shaped not only by your individual choice, but by government, media and big business.


 

 

 

 

Eat yourself healthy

Dr. Roderick Mulgan
NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group
RRP $24.90

 

Eat Yourself Healthy is being hailed as the go-to lifestyle guide for a happy gut that will transform your health and wellbeing. Drawing from the latest research and a decade of experience as a dietitian and consultant at The Gut Health Clinic, Dr Megan Rossi explains how to feed your gut for a happier, healthier you using simple, delicious and gut-boosting recipes. Eat Yourself Healthy is packed with more than 50 delicious, easy-to-make meal ideas from delicious breakfast options such as banana, fig and courgette breakfast loaf to crowd-pleasing dinner recipes including creamy pistachio and spinach pesto pasta and mouth-watering satay tofu skewers. Eat Yourself Healthy also includes expert advice on how to deal with common complaints such as IBS and bloating, diagnose food intolerances, and manage good gut health with sleep and exercise routines. This ultimate guide promises to make you happier and healthier from the inside out.

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Tales of a vet nurse

Jade Pengelly
HarperCollins
RRP $39.99

You never know who or what is going to walk, crawl or slither through the doors of veterinary hospital. Jade Pengelly, a vet nurse from Christchurch, reveals it all in Tales of a Vet Nurse, proving there is never a dull day in the life of a vet nurse. Pengelly has worked in a variety of practices, including emergency shifts in London, a busy country hospital. Treating all manner of wildlife (think snakes, foxes and hedgehogs!), as well as working with equine-surgeons and teaching the art of care to new generations of vet nurses in NZ, Tales of a Vet Nurse is about a life devoted to saving our beloved and unconditional friends. Along the way, Pengelly enlightens readers to the forbidden feasts of labradors, the dangers of x-raying prize-winning showjumpers, and the most common pets she sees as clinic inpatients. Engrossing and often gut-wrenchingly honest, Tales of a Vet Nurse is written with Jade’s heart on her sleeve. One for the animal lovers… but keep a tissue handy.

 

 

 

A forager’s life

Helen Lehndorf
HarperCollins
RRP $39.99

When Helen Lehndorf moved to Wellington after a childhood living off the land in rural Taranaki, she couldn’t help but feel different. She found solace in long walks foraging weeds and plants in parks and wild spaces, but something inside her still longed for home. After her son is diagnosed with autism, foraging becomes a space for herself in a chaotic world. Lehndorf says she wrote this book because she is “passionate about the healing powers of nature. Connecting to local foods and wild medicines can be very empowering and heartening.” Weaving memoir with foraging recipes, principles and practices, A Forager’s Life is an intimate story and a promise that, with the right frame of mind, much can be made of the world around us. It is a book for foragers, gardeners, mothers, parents of special needs kids, folks from small towns, folks who live in cities but long for more connection with nature, anyone, really, who enjoys nature writing.

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