Archive for October, 2018

The New Zealand beer industry is a dynamic one – full of larger-than-life, passionate characters; from loveable rogues through to budding mad scientists. Our beers are just as diverse. Bringing together brewing traditions from all over the world and combining these with Kiwi ingredients, ingenuity and creativity, we have a beer culture unlike any other.

Since the release of Brewed in 2015, the New Zealand beer industry has continued to grow dramatically, which this revised edition takes into account by featuring 45 new breweries, meaning over 160 commercially operating New Zealand breweries are profiled. Additionally, the tasting notes for over 450 beers have been revised and are now in a separate section, divided into beer type, for easier comparison of beers produced by different breweries.

Brewed includes a style guide written specifically for the New Zealand craft beer market and has all the information needed to make the increasingly complicated beer world a lot more comprehensible.

Brewed will encourage experimentation among engaged beer consumers, helping them to discover new breweries and, with the use of the comprehensive tasting notes, benchmark them against old favourites. It will also help emerging beer drinkers to identify beers they will enjoy, starting them on a journey of discovery.

Brewed: A Guide to the Beer of New Zealand Second Edition

Jules van Costello

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Steve

Jules van Costello (né van Cruysen) wrote his first edition of Brewed in 2015, and in the two following years the scene changed sufficiently that a new edition was felt to be warranted. So what’s the difference between the first and second editions, and is it worthwhile getting the new one?

The basic layout is the same, but the second edition splits the tasting notes out from the breweries. In my opinion this is an improvement. Jules divides his tasting notes into styles. Hopefully not too many will be confused as to what style of lager or pale ale is in the glass (there are an awfully large number of beer styles in these two categories). The new edition is also about 10-15 pages longer, mostly due to the extra 45 that have opened, although obviously a few have also closed. What I do miss are the various area maps showing the locations of the breweries in the cities.

Is it worth it? Yes. The splitting out of the tasting notes from the brewery description makes for an easier and less cluttered read. Jules still mentions the styles the breweries focus on in their descriptions. But the tasting notes fill in the blanks, with Jules offering the suggestion of “Must Try” for the best or most distinctive examples within each stile.

I wish to thank Potton & Burton for the edition provided and offer my sincerest grovelling for being so late with this review.

A futuristic action-adventure novel about a teenager caught in the middle of a centuries old war between wizards and robots, who finds the world’s destiny is suddenly in her hands.

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring’s world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father’s hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards’ age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth’s destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don’t have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth . . .

WAR: Wizards and Robots

Will.i.am & Brian David Johnson

Penguin Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I’m always suspicious when I see a celebrity’s name in the by-line of a novel, and when it’s that of a popular hip-hop artist, it seems fairly certain that this book was published on the strength of that name’s ability to sell books. And after reading it, I don’t think that I was far wrong.

The writing itself wasn’t too bad, it’s more the story I have issues with, or more properly the setting. It feels like the authors took the grab-bag of science fiction and fantasy tropes, emptied it on the floor, picked out a handful of unrelated ideas not normally found in the same novel and decided to make a book out of it. So, you have wizards and robots, that’s obvious from the title. And then you add in time travel and invading aliens from another dimension…. It’s a mess, never totally resolved. If wizardry is dependent on a technological device in the form of a ring, then where and when did these rings come from? Perhaps some amphibians know?

The primary characters; a computer genius girl and a boy wizard are obviously designed to meet and form some sort of relationship, but why call the girl Ada Luring (rhymes with Turing)? I can see why her mother might name her Ada, but… It’s all a wee bit twee… and a bit silly. So, I’m afraid, is the plot. Time travel is almost guaranteed to create plot-holes and here they’re all over the place. There is a resolution of sorts, and evil is defeated, but it really is way too complicated for its own good. You may want to leave this one and its shiny silver cover on the shelf.

When Vicki hears about a difficult Arabian that no one wants, she will stop at nothing to save him. Years of misunderstanding have left Casper wayward and mistrustful, but Vicki senses a gentle soul beneath the pony’s rough exterior.

Vicki must learn the importance of patience and compromise to have any chance of winning over the high-strung gelding. Will Casper ever trust humans again? And will Vicki be able to uncover the potential she sees in the spirited Arabian?

This story of self-discovery and second chances, in which Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson first help a misunderstood pony to trust again, is inspired by the Wilson Sisters’ early years.

Casper The Spirited Arabian: Showtym Adventures

Kelly Wilson

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Another in the series by Kelly Wilson of the Wilson sisters who starred in Keeping up with The Kaimanawas. A family who have devoted their life to horses, show jumping and advocating for wild horses around the world, taming and raising awareness about the plight of the American Mustangs and Australian Brumbies and specifically the beautiful wild Kaimanawa horses near their home. They also run Showtym Camps, riding camps for young riders.

The sisters rescue and tame wild horses and this book, written at a young adult level is loosely based around a story from Vicki Wilson’s childhood.

Vicki hears about a horse that is destined to be put down as he is thought to be too bad-tempered. But Vicki believes that his problem stems from being mishandled and mistreated when training. The sisters work hard to raise the money to recue Casper and give him his second chance, but will any of that do any good if Vicki can’t undo the years of mistreatment and overcome Casper’s mistrust of humans?

Another fun read that any pony-mad tween  will love.

Magic isn’t real, right?

Within the small coastal city of Dunedin, local translator, Tamsin Fairchild has a reputation she hates. People think she’s psychic…

Always hovering around and interfering in Tamsin’s life, part father-figure, part thorn in her side, Detective Jackson, is an old-school cop. Childhood friend to her deceased mother, Tamsin wonders could her mother have let an outsider in on the truth?

Newcomer, rookie cop Scott Gale is forced to team-up with Tamsin when they investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby and a bizarre crime scene—satanic ritual or hoax?

More and more the blame starts to point towards Tamsin…

Tamsin must uncover who’s framing her, find the baby before it’s too late, unravel the mystery behind her elder brother’s disappearance, and stop Scott from entering a world not meant for human eyes.

But Scott has family secrets of his own and Tamsin doesn’t know who to trust.

But can you trust Tamsin? What if the person who saved your life is about to frame you for murder?

The Kingfisher’s Debt

 Kura Carpenter

IFWG Australia

Review first published by SpecFicNZ

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Of course Dunedin is the home of Fair Folk and Elementals in the middle of a never ending feud. Where else could they hide in plain sight among the lesser humans? Of course they are casting spells and causing trouble. Like any other notorious crim’ on the East Coast they have a reputation to uphold. Of course they expect the worst but hope for the best. With power comes responsibility.

Debut novel The Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter, is an escape into the life of Tamsin Kingfisher as she helps to untangle a culture crossing crime while dealing with the issue of solstice messing up her magic. Woven throughout the novel is the heartache of her own Romeo and Juliet love story as well as her search for her missing beloved older brother. Tamsin adds nuance to the meaning of a busy working woman fulfilling family responsibility, hiding family secrets and getting the job done. With clever reimagining of witches as gang members, magic as the drug for sale, and poetic touches of what lives look like on the line between good and evil, Kura brings us a touch of ‘if only’ in Aotearoa. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

As a child Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery – a huge metallic hand, buried deep in the earth. She has since focused her scientific career on uncovering everything about the hand and the other gigantic body parts found scattered about the globe. When another robot is discovered and lashes out, Dr Franklin is closer to learning its secrets than ever before.

But as more machines appear, earth looks set for an invasion for which it is colossally unprepared. Mankind’s only chance is for Rose and her team to uncover the mysteries of the ancient technology or the earth might be lost to them forever . . .

Waking Gods

Sylvain Neuvel

Michael Joseph

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

Now, this is very much a sequel to “Sleeping Giants” and is told in the same unusual manner, as a series of interview transcripts, logs, and reports. If that style is irritated you the first time, then this sequel isn’t going to suit you any better.

Nine years later, and Themis is no longer alone. More titanic robots have appeared, first in London, then in major cities all over the planet. Much action and a great deal of destruction occurs. You know that eventually a solution will be found, and it is quite ingenious. However, questions remain, and that last sentence is simply begging for a sequel.

Giant robots really aren’t my thing, but there were enough interesting ideas, and enough grounding in actual science here to keep me reading. If you do like giant robots and wanton devastation (I always feel sorry for the poor innocent people who get killed in things like this – and for those who have to clean up the mess) then this is a book you should enjoy.

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A groundbreaking history of the first, horrific day of one of the most notorious, bloody offensives of all time, from its inept planning to its disastrous execution.

It took several million bullets and roughly half an hour to destroy General Sir Douglas Haig’s grand plans for the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916. By day’s end 19,240 British soldiers were dead, crumpled khaki bundles scattered across pasture studded with the scarlet of poppies and smouldering shell holes. A further 38,230 were wounded. This single sunny day remains Britain’s worst-ever military disaster, both numerically and statistically more deadly than the infamous charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854. Responsible were hundreds of German machineguns and artillery batteries waiting silently to deal death to the long-anticipated attack. Someone had blundered.

Working back from the “butcher’s bill” of mass casualties on the battlefield, to the inept planning in London’s Whitehall, the author penetrates the “fog of war” to explain how and why this was a human disaster waiting to happen. Told fully from both the British and German perspectives for the first time, this book sheets home blame for the butchery (a total of almost 60 thousand casualties) directly to widespread British intelligence and command failure. It further finds the outcome was very definitely a German victory over a so-called British defeat, and, again for the first time, identifies how talented German commanders mostly outclassed their opposite numbers and inflicted the galling bloodletting. Taking that terrible first day of battle as his focus, Andrew Macdonald casts new and damning light on the true causes of the disaster.

First Day of the Somme: The complete account of Britain’s worst-ever military disaster

Andrew MacDonald

HarperCollins

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

The Battle of the Somme during WWI got off to a poor start for the British army, resulting in their worst one day military losses ever. Naturally, this has attracted many authors and historians, New Zealand historian being the latest. His book benefits from examination of not only British but also German archival documents.

The Somme Offensive needs to be placed in context of the overall military and diplomatic situation of the war. MacDonald does this, as well as examining the geography and weather leading up to and on the day. Both were important. Equally important was the intelligence the Germans had gathered observing British preparations and interpreting the behaviour of the forces opposite them. If General Haig had wanted a surprise attack, events beyond his control prevented it.

MacDonald examines the first day of the battle from both British and German perspectives, with diary entries adding colour. The Germans, for their part, after suffering several days of bombardment, were itching for revenge. Surviving the bombardment depended on the quality of the German commander.

As a general rule, the day’s events are mapped out from north to south, although one British Corps is seemingly discussed out of order. The book would have been stronger to have this corps lead. Completion of objectives set by Haig improved the further south one went. This was due to a number of factors, not least German strategic appreciations. MacDonald also comments on and compares French performance during the battle with that of the British.

Military disasters are not usually due to one cause, and MacDonald goes to great lengths to prove this. He also examines the broader length of the Battle of the Somme, demonstrating that what started as tragedy ended as an Entente victory. For those interested in WWI, this is a worthwhile book and I thoroughly recommend it.

Four kids on a quest to find the legendary Mines of King Solomon… and their parents.

Bick, Beck, Storm and Tommy are navigating their way down the Nile, from hot and dusty Cairo to deep dark jungles, past some seriously bad guys along the way.

They’ll need all their survival instincts just to make it out alive..

Danger Down the Nile Treasure Hunters #2

James Patterson with Chris Grabenstein

Arrow

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

The children of the Kidd family continue to hunt for their main lost treasures, their parents, missing while on a treasure hunting adventure. If the first book was all about pirates and the Caribbean the second moves the action to Egypt. The children follow the clues left by their parents through hot dusty Cairo, fetid jungle and dodge bad guys and uncle Timothy who may or may not be CIA, at every turn. He cannot understand why, if they are searching for Kings Solomon’s Mines, why are they after a Chinese Ming Vase?

MAnother exciting adventure in  the Treadsure Hunters series that kept me turning pages eagerly.