Archive for November, 2015


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

stripes no spots

Tiger and Leopard argue over which is best – stripes or spots. Te squabble turns into a quarrel, the quarrel turns in to a war, and soon the jungle is a mes. Monkey calls a meeting of the Jungle Council and they come up with a plan to decide which is best – spots or stripes

The story is so cute! It made me laugh and it loved how David Attenborough popped up. There were some fold out pages – a surprise but it really fits the story. The illustrations are so bright and colourful, and have such humour in them! I loved the asides the animals were speaking and the tanks were adorable.

This will make a great addition to the library and a fun present.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Lets Catch that Rainbow

Bored one day while waiting for his brother to return from school and enjoy some of mum’s just-baked cake, Hadleigh sees a rainbow and heads outside to catch it. Failing, he asks his mum for help and they make a valiant effort to catch the rainbow, jumping high and often.

Hadleigh’s brother returns from school and every pupil on the bus is recruited, plus the driver and teacher. They have a lot of fun but don’t make much headway before Hadleigh’s dad and some mates turn up from a day’s fishing. They have a great idea………………

I really liked how everyone came together to help and thought this   was a great story to share with kids. The author illustrated the book and they are delightful, being bright and colourful. They fit the story perfectly, giving a lot of detail without being too fussy. A lovely book to have in the library.

Pine Estates Books

Supplied by David Bateman Ltd

Reviewed by Jan

rage of he rhino

After discovering how excellent the last book in this series (Strike of the Shark) was, I doubted that Rage of the Rhino could be an improvement. How wrong I was.

This book continues the story of Beck Granger, a young hero who is determined to continue his parents’ legacy to save the world from pollution, poachers, and greedy companies that would do anything to make more money. After his adventure in the last book, Beck is wary about leaving the home. But disaster strikes when an e-mail shows up from an old friend of his parents. She is asking him to come to Africa so he can make a SAVE-THE-RHINOS campaign to discourage people who kill rhinos for their keratin and ivory. But it turns out all is not as it seems in Africa.

Like most Bear Grylls books, Rage of the Rhino provides life-saving information. Because this book is based in a safari setting, the tips include things like: that you can find safe drinking water from squeezing elephant dung, or that zebra stomachs make a great insulant for food.

This is an amazing book, the characters are relateable, the concept is understandable. It’s a simple story with a brilliant plot. I cant wait to read Bear Grylls’ next book!


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

Review of Strike of the Shark

a tattooed heart

Life is looking good for Friday, Sarah, and Harrie, convict girls in 1830s Sydney. Friday is now a dominatrix, running Mrs H’s whipping room; Sarah runs the best jewellery shop in Sydney; Harrie is married to the dashing Dr Downey and the loving mother of Charlotte while providing Leo with unique flash (tattoo designs).

Then Charlotte is kidnapped and taken to Newcastle. As bonded convicts they can’t leave Sydney so how will they find her? I am reluctant to say too much and give the story away but we meet Aria again (yay!) and Jonah Leary (boo hiss!) and of course the despicable Bella Shand.

The plot moved swiftly and there were heart-warming moments, a worrying cliff-hanger (until the next chapter), a well-I-didn’t-see-THAT-coming revelation, and an of-course! moment. The can be read as a stand-alone book but all previous three books really should be read.

I loved   the final in the fascinating and addictive quartet. It wraps everything up nicely and the final pages have an answer to a question raised in the first book Behind The Sun. I love these characters and the author has said they may appear in future stories she writes. I hope so!

HarperCollins Publishing

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Ardennes 1944 Hitlers Last Gamble

For most English speakers with an interest in World War Two, the German offensive through the Ardennes, or Battle of the Bulge as it is sometimes called, in December 1944 is well known and has given rise to a number of myths. The first is encapsulated in the title. Several myths are busted in this volume – those familiar with the film Hart’s War will spot one or two – which is good (both the volume and the myth-busting), but the titular myth, of offensive being Hitler’s last gamble is not examined.

Through a history that examines the course of the campaign from both sides and the top and bottom of the military hierarchy and some of the political factors, Beevor follows the Ardennes offensive over a broad timeline, explaining the general tactical situation on both sides and how it had developed since the Battle of the Falaise Pocket in August 1944 and the Liberation of Paris directly after. Thus the Allies were getting set to develop offensives both north and south of the Ardennes when the Germans struck. Beevor explains why the route which had been so successful in the 1940 invasion of France was decidedly not in 1944.

From the start there are three major players, the Germans, the Americans and the weather. The latter favoured nobody. The Americans were anticipating a spoiling attack somewhere along the front to disrupt their own offensives but the scope of the German thrust caught them off guard. The Germans failed Map Reading 101 at the planning stage. This is all explained well in the book. And while this was mostly an American-German battle, the British and Commonwealth forces were involved on the northern periphery.

Once the action starts, Beevor devotes a chapter to each day until the end of Boxing Day, 1944. Movements on both sides of the lines are examined, along with the constraints each army, commander or unit faced. In some cases these were considerable. Beevor also shows why Bernard “Monty” Montgomery is such a divisive figure when discussing the prosecution of the war in Europe. Some American generals do not escape unfavourable judgments, and likewise with the Germans.

In sum I would recommend this book to all who have an interest in the Allied liberation of NW Europe and the shock the only major German counteroffensive caused.

Penguin-Viking, London 2015

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

all black