th game of lives

This book is the third novel in James Dashner’s “Mortality Doctrine” series, and the climax. It concludes the series in a satisfying way that is wonderful to read about. I cannot stress enough about the importance of reading these books in order. There is a lot to keep track of, and lots of things to think about while reading the book, and it will get confusing. Even more so if you don’t read in order.

The story continues following Sarah, Michael, and Bryson, and their fight to defeat Kaine and the VNS. In the last book the three friends became suspicious about the VNS, and their suspicions led them into strife and the partnership with the VNS was terminated. Yet the trouble continued, Kaine’s mortality doctrine programme has been uploading more tangents (AI programs) into more humans, and the world is slowly losing balance. It’s now up to the three friends and the resistance force to defeat Kaine and the VNS, and destroy the doctrine once and for all…

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a wonderful, suspenseful read that I couldn’t put down. Although I hadn’t read the books in a while, the story gave light exposition that told me everything I needed to know to be involved. The action was tense, the emotions were heavy, and it really was just another wonderful Dashner bestseller.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. James Dashner has produced another brilliant work, I recommend this book to anyone who is already familiar with the series, and is ready for the third one. Or for anyone who enjoys well-written, action-packed stories with great design.

Corgi

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

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The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy Location Guidebook

The Hobbit film trilogy was a visually stunning series and along with its stablemate, The Lord of the Rings, was filmed on location entirely in New Zealand. The franchise has a considerable fan base and a number of these fans wish to experience the film more than just on the screen. Hence the continuation of the Hobbiton film set and this book, which offers the devotee of Peter Jackson’s vision of The Hobbit the opportunity to see Middle Earth in the flesh as it were.

The book is divided into two main sections, North Island and South Island, along with the usual preambles, forewords, introductions, indices and recommended itineraries. More on the latter below, first on body. Locations for The Hobbit are not spread out evenly in New Zealand but tend to be clustered about a few key nodes. Thus Matamata, the location for Hobbiton, provides a handy base to access several sites sprinkled across the Waikato and King Country, such as the Waitomo Caves, Aratiatia Rapids. Similarly, there are strong clusters at the top end of the South Island near Nelson and in Central Otago. The section on Wellington features not only the external locations but also Weta Workshop, which is a tourist attraction in its own right. Each cluster of locations is given a handy map with the relevant topography and traveller’s information.

Each location shoot features pictures of the location in the raw, along with at least one accompanying screen image. Included in the text are quotes from cast and crew members describing their impressions of the area, as well as explanations of some of the special effects Weta carried out to transform the wilderness to the screen. The deconstruction of the Weta magic helps, because what appears on screen is not always the scenery with additions but is sometimes a pastiche. Some sets, on the screen mere yards apart, are sometimes considerably further – Beorn’s House being a prime example. No, you’ll have read the book to find out more.

The suggested trip itineraries are included in part not only because accessing remote areas on any landscape takes time, but because the development of the book was in part assisted by the various regional tourism boards. So sometimes recommendations on where to eat or stay fall into the text. Now, this is a coffee table type book, but don’t leave it on the coffee table as I did. I spilt some coffee and the last few pages suffered slow dismemberment as I tried to unstick them. I’d recommend this to those not only keen on visiting the locations but anybody who appreciates location searches and good photography.

HarperCollins New Zealand

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewd by Steve

Lair of the Leopard

When I finished the previous Bear Grylls book Rage Of The Rhino I couldn’t wait until Lair of the Leopard arrived, and let me just say it didn’t disappoint.

Once again we meet Beck Granger, the orphaned child pursuing one goal; to save the world from evil corporations poisoning it. When we last saw Beck he was declared dead, and the LUMOS Corporation forgot all about him. Little did they know, he was climbing across the Nepalese mountains to take them down once and for all.

Bears Grylls has proved again and again that he can survive the wild. Now he has proven he can write a good book too! Bear writes a story with description; the anxiety of the characters’ problems makes the books addictive and you will be unable to put one down once you start reading. Bear’s knowledge of the wild is immeasurable, and he incorporates this into his books as much as he can. When the characters face a problem, it’s almost always life-threatening, and as they get weaker in their journeys the pressure grows on anyone reading, giving it a sense of reality unforgettable to the reader.

This book is amazing, Bear Grylls should be proud of the work he produced. I should mention that this is a series, and it is a series that must be read in order. But that isn’t a problem, all nine books are brilliant, and they eventually reach a climax sure to fill you with joy. This book, and all other Bear Grylls books, is stupendous, and I greatly recommend reading this series.

Red Fox

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

storm

Ever been to a dinner with friends and some other guest has started spouting complete bollocks? But you don’t say anything because it’s just not polite? Tim Minchin found himself in such a situation a few years ago. He remained polite. But inside he cracked, and this book is the result.

Minchin has provided the story, which is lovingly introduced by Neil Gaiman. Who describes the story as a beat poem. Certainly Minchin has delivered it live on stage on more than one occasion. It’s also available on Youtube with animation by King and Turner, along with several live stage presentations. Also explained is the gensis of the King-Turner illustrations which add to the beauty of the story/poem/Dr Seuss homage but with less silliness.

Don’t get me wrong, Dr Seuss is a very apt comparison for the presentation of this tale: the cartoons add to the flow and drama of the text. Apart from a couple of swear words this could easily be part of the junior curriculum. It might get more people interested in thinking.

The book, which is only about 80 unnumbered pages, so maybe it’s a bit bigger than The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, ends with biographies of Minchin, King and Turner plus a few guest covers of editions that never will be (but that’s a nod to the cartoonists’ world) and then several absolutely brilliant short reviews on the back cover.

For the intelligent everywhere: buy it and read it to your kids. And yourself. Because both they and you deserve it, and will treasure it.

Orion

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Brewed

Craft beer is a segment of the beer market that has grown considerably since the reintroduction of craft beer to New Zealand in the 1970s. There are a large number of craft, and faux craft breweries in New Zealand and Jules has set himself the task of reviewing them, their beer, and what the styles produced are supposed to be based on international examples.

Van Cruysen starts off by giving a brief history of beer brewing in New Zealand, followed by short discussions on the types of malts, hops, yeasts and other main ingredients that are used in beer., followed by the principle styles, such as lager, white beers, pale ales, dark beers and so forth. There is a short section on beer festivals, which are growing in prominence year by year, and beer tasting events as well as beer tasting.

Anyone familiar with a Belgian Beer Café knows that the shape of the glass can impart a different flavour profile, as does the temperature the beer is serves at. There are recommended temperatures for serving certain styles (and my experience suggests that most Australian lagers be served as cold as possible so you can’t taste them).

The bulk of the book is devoted to the approximately 130 breweries claiming to make craft beer in New Zealand. These range from Lion and DB to microbrewers such as Eruption Brewing of Lyttleton, whose output was about a barrel-sized batch per month (they’ve since up-scaled). As with any industry there are certain nodes, and besides the main centres, greater Nelson is New Zealand’s hidden brewing capital. But this is hardly surprising, as Nelson province is the home of New Zealand’s hop industry.  Proximity drives use and innovation.

Concluding the book are a number of short regional guides with maps of varying quality giving the locations of breweries, significant resellers, and free-houses. It seems Wellington is the capital of New Zealand’s craft beer scene, with double the locations of its nearest rival to the title.

If you like beer, this is the book for you. But you’ll have to prise it out of my hands first.

Potton & Burton

Supplied by 247PR

Reviewed by Steve