five minutes alone

Theodore Tate is one of the ‘Coma Cops’ shot by a vicious psychopath six months ago. He has returned to the police force and is assigned to the case of a dead man who committed suicide by train. Or did he? Tate soon realises things aren’t so straightforward, as murder was the cause of death and the dead guy was also a bad guy, a convicted rapist whose last victim is still living in fear.   When more bad guys end up dead, he realises someone is helping rape victim’s exact revenge on their attackers.

Carl Schroder is the other ‘Coma Cop’ and life is not treating him well.  The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him but, almost as deadly, it’s switched off his emotions. Running across a recently paroled rapist he put away years ago, he follows him stalking the victim who put him in prison. After   saving her, he remembers a common plea cops get from the loved ones of victims – when you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And finds a new mission.

Wow, this was my first book by Paul Cleave and am now hunting down the rest. You don’t need to have read previous novels to know what’s going on; just enough information is given to make the scene clear. The plot was tightly woven; leaving me breathless after each chapter, convinced death was looming only to have events snatch life back repeatedly. It must be hard, tracking   down a vigilante most people are cheering for! The dangers of vigilantism are also shown.   A well written book that makes you think.

Penguin Books

Supplied by 247 PR

Reviewed by Jan

Revolution

Reading this book was a labour of love that seemed Sisyphean and took far too long. Brand either writes as he speaks or this book is dictated and transcribed. It is full of contradictions. He perambulates through his ideas with digressions and unnecessary anecdotes. Critics have, justifiably in my opinion, called the book wandering and slated it. I struggled to read it at all. At times — and this is contrary to my character — I felt quite violent towards Russell Brand. Seeing his deftly threaded eyebrows on the cover had me itching for soap and a razor.

Nick Cohen of the Guardian called the book the “barmy credo of a Beverly Hills Buddhist.” In this uncharitable response he was far from alone. The criticisms have flown so hard and fast that criticizing the critics of this book has become a staple topic for columnists in the past weeks (http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/mark-steel/if-you-think-russell-brands-new-book-revolution-is-confused-you-should-read-what-his-critics-have-to-say-about-it-30709726.html).

So, having read this book, with loud internal mutters of annoyance and occasional revulsion I am bemused to find myself wanting to offer it to other people. Alas, I got a lot out of it.

The Independent reviewer bemoaned that it was “typical of England to produce a revolutionary who offers no route map towards a revolution.”

Brand’s style is indeed peripatetic and his discourse personal. He is wealthy and eccentric and open about his feelings. This makes him a wonderful and apparently soft target. Yet the array of good minds he brings to his topic, in addition to his own, provide thoughtful support for his ideas and so his philosophy is not as easily dismissed as Brand himself.

Additionally, despite what the Independent says, Brand does provide laundry lists of action we could take to revolutionise society. He also offers examples of previous revolutions that have and haven’t worked as well as a consideration of why that has been the case. He untangles why he thinks we need a revolution at length (inequality, damage to the planet, poor representation, corruption etc).

If only the book had been heavily edited. I would love to take a red liner and cut out Brand’s lapses into poetry (p.61), typos (p.87 for example), baby talk (which had my head hitting the desk at p.313-315), self-contradictions (one moment he wants to throw molotovs and the next the process must be utterly non-violent), page long off topic rambles (p.132), and self-serving but irrelevant anecdotes (let me tell you about the time I hung out with Tom Cruise baby!).

A fact checker would also come in handy. Even someone as bad at math as I, raises their eyebrows when Brand says 10% of Londoners don’t have internet access, then proposes city wide Wi-Fi because “one fifth of the population are offline” (p.344).

I could happily trim his random attacks on people. It’s hard to find a group he doesn’t bash though of course rich people are a favourite target. Here is one example, found on page 133, of a baffling harangue about a random woman who displeased Brand:

“Nicola is a nervous flyer, which is annoying, because we all die in plane crashes, not just nervous people… They’re getting short shrift from me now, these blubbering sky-nancies. Phobias are like fetishes if you ask me, nurtured little perversions that the sufferers secretly enjoy.”

I sure didn’t need to be told what my reaction to this book would be (p.172) or that Brand has a big ego (numerous times). He says that he only had a few hours of research time and that he had to write 100,000 words (p.190 and p.172). Plus, he continually mocks the reader “you self-centred swine” (p.154).

It might have been kinder to the reader, who after all pays for the experience of reading this work, to encourage Brand to put more time into research and focus less on the word count.

Sometimes, the expression given to Brand’s credo is beautiful. The book design is a credit to the publisher. In all, as it stands, I recommend reading this book and will pass it onto others, because the message is good. But, just this once, can I please shoot the messenger?

Random House

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Sally

SWLadybird

Sally won a Julius Vogel award with her first book Deputy Dan & the Mysterious Midnight Marauder which you can purchase here:

Since she has had two short stories published in Baby Teeth and one in Fat Zombie. These anthologies are available from Amazon.
Please check her Facebook page or website for news about her first novel, Somewhere Else and its sequel Sunrise.

love from the very hungry catepillar

You are . . . the cherry on my cake . . . the apple of my eye. You make . . . the sun shine brighter . . . my heart flutter . . .

This cute little book is a celebration of love and full of ways to tell a special someone how much you care for them. The Very Hungry Caterpillar appears beside a collection of favourite things, from yummy treats to shining stars. The artwork is bright and colourful, holding the atentkion of little ones nicely. The six month old tester loved it!

Picture Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Stoker Munro, Survivor

Some people go through war with nothing major befalling them. Others include Stoker Lloyd William Munro, HMAS Perth. He survived two shipwrecks (once by the Japanese, once by the US Navy), several Japanese prisoner of war camps and the infamous Burma Railway. Naturally, we need to understand how someone can survive this chain of harrowing circumstances.

Spiteri interviewed Munro approximately 60 years after the war, with the story starting in mid-February 1942 and ending approximately three years later. The story is mainly told in the first person, with Munro recounting life as a POW under the Japanese. Conditions were highly variable, depending exactly where a prisoner was: Changi in Singapore was quite good until late in the war, as was Cambodia and Saigon. I got the impression that generally speaking, the Japanese allowed the POWs a fair degree of liberty if they were involved in work gangs, if only because of the paucity of Europeans in SE Asia.

Munro seems to have accepted what was happening to him as not being personal, but naturally he was upset by the loss of many friends, most of whom died from disease – tropical medicine was still not great during the 1940s, especially without modern drugs. He was also determined to return home. This determination helped him survive the two shipwrecks, especially the second. Surprisingly, Munro persisted with the RAN even after being shipwrecked a third time (this time by the RAN).

I enjoyed this book, with its harrowing tale told simply. It was passed around at work, and given good comments by all who read it. Well done, David Spiteri.

HarperCollins

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

blackpek vines

Lizzie Harrington is a former television executive in England who, longing for a new life in the country of her homeland, settles on the vineyard below Blackpeak Station, a farm in the rugged high country of the South Island.

Enjoying her new career as a vintner, Lizzie has settled in and gets on with all the locals – except for her neighbour, the brooding Carr Fergusson. A visit from Lizzie’s glamorous friends including the aging heartthrob actor Richard Bourne, who she has had a secret love affair with for years, and her beautiful daughter Ella, bring changes to the valley.

Up at Blackpeak Station Charlotte Black is busy with sheep, a fashion shoot featuring Italian models, and planning a wedding with Rob. Ella lands a job as a photography assistant on the shoot though and is in danger of falling for an extremely unsuitable man and disrupting life at Black Peak.

Another charming read by Holly Ford that continues the Blackpeak story and lets us revisit characters we know and love, as well as introducing new ones. The setting is stunning and the plot is well thought out, with a few unexpected twists. A fun, contemporary romance.

Bantam

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Review of Blackpeak Station here

My Underground Kitchen

The first word that came to mind as I looked through this book was ‘trendy’. This is not a criticism, but it does seem that you’re not entirely fashionable these days if you don’t have (or think you have) a food intolerance, or are on some unusual diet, the weirder the better. So when you come across a book that tags recipes as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and/or paleo you may suspect that you are not looking at cookery for real people. Well, maybe, but the truth is that Jess makes her living cooking these recipes for her clients. So, while the paleo version of lasagne looks like something Garfield wouldn’t go near (it is undoubtedly healthier, and seems more a moussaka given it has aubergines instead of pasta), the regular version is a proper kiwi lasagne. It even has a spoonful of marmite in the meat sauce! I made mine with home-made sheet pasta, and it was yummy! So, underneath the trendiness is good solid kiwi cooking, and I have every confidence that these recipes are well-tested.

However, while it is undoubtedly fashionable to be seasonal; in a book with only eighty or so recipes, arranging them by season makes it much harder to find the recipe you want – I would have preferred all three meatball recipes in close proximity so it would be easier to compare them. I also found the binding to be irritating; rather tight, and defeating any attempt to make it sit flat on the kitchen bench.

I’m sure there is plenty to entertain with here, especially if you happen to have friends who are trendy eaters, or have the urge to experiment. There are lots of recipes for basic items like hummus and harissa, often followed by a lunch or dinner recipe that uses them. Oh, and there’s a feijoa chutney recipe which looks like it might be useful sometime soon…

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Prisoner of the Black Hawk

As readers may have noticed, I have a certain fondness for a good map. So, when I saw a young adult fantasy series called “The Mapmaker Chronicles”, I rather thought that it might be of interest. And I have to say that Australian writer A.L. Tait has done a pretty fine job of creating a novel twist on the sailing ship story. He’s wisely taken it fully to a fantasy world, so it’s quite clear that his map is not our map. But sadly, there are no maps in the book. I do think the story could have been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of maps detailing the progress of the Libertas and her crew.

The background is a race to map the world, with the central character being a young map-maker aboard one of the ships. There is a prize for each captain, and Captain Zain is sailing for his freedom. Which is ironic when our young hero, Quinn the map-maker, is captured by Gelynions, and caged below decks… and then they are attacked by pirates! It’s all a lot of fun, and I’m sure this series would be greatly enjoyed by older boys, in particular.

Lothian

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui