Archive for December, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

Posted: December 25, 2015 in greetings


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


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.


Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve