Archive for the ‘nonfiction’ Category

New Zealand: Untouched Landscapes is a fresh and strikingly beautiful collection of landscape photographs that have been captured throughout the country by professional photographer, Petr Hlavacek. From our most iconic locations to harder-to-access and protected areas, New Zealand: Untouched Landscapes presents the pristine and diverse landscapes of this country, often from a new perspective.

Petr’s photography is motivated by the opportunity to promote greater public awareness of our fragile landscapes, a landscape he is passionate about protecting. Petr Hlavacek is an important new talent among New Zealand landscape photographers.

New Zealand: Untouched Landscapes

Petr Hlavacek

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Keith and Jacqui Smith

I think we’ve all seen those coffee table books full of pretty pictures of places in New Zealand; souvenir shops and airport bookstores specialise in them. At first glance this might seem to be more of the same, but although it does fill that niche, it is much, much more. Our first reaction on opening the book was “Wow!” And there was more “wow” on page after page. You may take it that we were impressed.

This is a book of New Zealand landscapes; some relatively familiar, some more remote, all pristine, magnificent, and full of untouched beauty. Some are positively primeval – the Lake Wahapo kahikatea forest at sunrise struck me as practically Jurassic, only somewhat lacking in dinosaurs. All are photographed with consummate skill – believe you me, we can only wonder at the effort it took to get just the right shot at the right moment. You may think that landscape photography is easy – and it’s true that getting a good landscape with a decent camera isn’t that hard – but getting shots of this quality is not at all simple. We had to admire the skill and patience involved.

I have only a couple of small quibbles. It was only when I came to write this review that I realised that the book has no page numbers, which is understandable on double-page spreads, but when the photos do not extend to the edges, page numbers could be useful to help find that kahikatea forest I was talking about! And I would have liked just a little more text in places, explaining the landscapes to those of us who like our geology. But otherwise, this is a beautiful work of art, far from just another souvenir picture book.

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There are few things as sweet as throwing some clothes, your togs, your jandals, some good sounds and your best mate into the car and shouting, ‘ROADIE!’ as you leave your everyday life behind.

Chuck this book in while you’re at it.

Let’s Get Lost is a guide to the real New Zealand that few of us get a chance to explore. In its pages, you’ll pass through the sausage capital of New Zealand, take a dip in a secret lake, visit a village entirely populated by guinea pigs, share a yarn with many a local good bugger – and so much more.

Let’s Get Lost will inspire you to get out there and take in some of the best this fantastic country has to offer.

Let’s get Lost: Great New Zealand Road Trips

Nicola McCloy & Jane King

Random House NZ

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

I always thought telling someone to “get lost!” was rude. Not anymore. More than just a travel guide, this book has Must Do’s, Diversions (from your route) and notes on Local Heroes who have craft studios or wildlife rehab centres; as well as history and where the best bakeries and other kai, is to be found. All this is told in a journal style which guides the reader like an old friend who knows the area very well and will make sure you do not miss any of the sightseeing or fail to appreciate the area you are travelling though.  Did you know Mark Twain was in Palmerston North in 1895? Me neither.

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.

This landmark work answers two fundamental questions – how, and why, did the Holocaust happen?

Laurence Rees has spent twenty-five years meeting and interviewing survivors and perpetrators of the Holocaust. Now he combines this largely unpublished testimony with the latest academic research to create the first accessible and authoritative account of the Holocaust in over three decades.

Through a chronological, intensely readable narrative, featuring the latest historical research and compelling eyewitness testimony, this is the story of the worst crime in history.

The Holocaust

Laurence Rees

Viking

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Lawrence Rees asks two important questions: how, and why, did the Holocaust happen? By this, he does not limit himself to the treatment of the Jews, but all those subjected to the destructive genetic practices of the Nazis. Anti-Semitism, racial hygiene and a hierarchy of races were ideas that had been floating about since before World War One. The Nazis, under Hitler’s direction, took this to the (il)logical extreme: not only were they to be excluded from the Nazi society, they were to be removed from society and by death if necessary.

Rees plots the development of the Holocaust in 18 chapters, over 430 pages plus prologue, epilogue and endnotes. He follows a chronological sequence, examining the development of the various strands of the Holocaust as the Nazi party and then the Nazi state adopted and then promulgated its racial agenda. Rees also follows the two main strands of the Holocaust’s implementation: exclusion, and elimination, from society.

These two actions, exclusion and elimination, slowly developed in the Nazi state, even though they had been heavily foreshadowed in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Rees explores why this was, and why certain eugenics programmes were pushed harder than others. He also explores the reaction to these programmes, both in the Third Reich, its conquered and allied territories and the wider world. And why some of these programmes continued even in the face of Nazi Germany’s imminent defeat

Lawrence Rees is a respected historian with a considerable corpus of work, much of it devoted to WW2 studies. This is another fine volume from him: well written, well researched and well presented on a subject that fascinates as much as it horrifies. Buy it. Read it.

I thank Penguin Random House New Zealand for the review copy and apologise for the lateness of this review.

New Zealand’s Great Walks are truly world class. In a country blessed with hundreds of spectacular tracks to choose from, these are considered the best of the best. They pass through some of our most breathtaking landscapes – including golden sand beaches, ancient rainforests and high mountains.

New Zealand’s Great Walks: The Complete Guide is the only handbook anyone will need to experience these outdoor adventures. Each of the walks (and one river journey) is presented in a clear, user-friendly way, including:
– An overview and highlights
– Planning notes
– Track description
– Points of interest
– Other things to do in the area

Also included in the book is:
– A brief history of the Great Walks
– Conservation information
– Notes on how to prepare for your trip
– Useful websites and resources

Authored by expert outdoor enthusiasts Paul and Shelley Hersey and fully illustrated with maps and stunning photography, New Zealand’s Great Walks is the guide no keen adventurer can do without!

New Zealand’s Great Walks: The Complete Guide

Paul and Shelley Hersey

Random House NZ

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

I wish I had had this when I was a happy tramper many (many) years ago.

Having done some of these I was interested in the advice and descriptions given and that DOC now requires booking of huts and does not allow camping in your own tent, for the most part, along the tracks.

This lists the nine major walks you can do Lake Waikaremoana, Tongariro Northern Circuit, Whanganui River Journey, Abel Tasman Coast Track, Heaphy Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track, Kepler Track and Rakiura Track.

It also has schematics of the route, notes on huts, highlights to see and experience, how to prepare for your walk, what to expect and some history of the route.

There are maps of the tracks and sumptuous photographs.

There are timings given for the walks but I would have liked to know the criteria for the speed and fitness level.

I was impressed with the Points of Interest and detailed descriptions of what you can see and experience on the tracks. Though I would have expected a little more about the flora and fauna.

For people who are not a member of a Tramping Club there are descriptions and photographs of the type of clothing and equipment that is suitable to take with you on these trips. I would have added the advice to contact a local Tramping Club for advice or to do practice walks with first.

A Maori Word a Day offers an easy, instant and motivating entry into the Maori language. Through its 365 Maori words, you will learn the following:

– English translations
– Word category, notes and background information
– Sample sentences, in both te reo Maori and English

Exploring the most common, modern and contemporary words in use today, A Maori Word a Day is the perfect way to kickstart your te reo journey!

Raupo

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Lee Murray

I was delighted to review copy of A Māori Word a Day by Auckland University teacher and translator, Hēmi Kelly. A Kiwi writer myself, I’m keen to include more te reo in my work, so this one-a-day teaching tool comprising a selection of commonly used terms looks to be the perfect text to keep on my desk. The beginning of the book includes information about pronunciation and there is a handy index of all the 365 terms at the back. In between, each page is dedicated to a single word arranged alphabetically and printed in bold 14-point text with the English definition printed below. The text is surrounded by lots of white space to make the word pop. Finally, each word is used in three sentences to highlight its meaning(s).

But what’s interesting about A Māori Word a Day is the cultural story the words tell when viewed together with their definitions and their explanatory example sentences. For example, the first word in the book is yes, which makes sense since it provides an affirmative start to the book and to our learning. It’s a simple word; one we use multiple times a day. And surely it is culturally significant that when we turn to page 2, the second word is ice-cream? With a strong dairying history, New Zealanders certainly love their ice cream. Day 7’s lesson is an eye-opener. The word is arā, which I gather is somewhat like the French term voilà, meaning there, over there, there it is, there they are. But it’s the explanatory sentences which are the most revelatory:

Kei hea te raumamao? Arā, kei mua i tō ihu!

Where’s the remote? There, in front of your nose!

Arā tō tatou waka.

There’s our ride.

Arā te waha papā e haere mai ana.

There’s the big mouth, heading our way.

“There’s the big mouth, heading our way.” Already, I’m getting the feeling that Kelly loves the language and wants us to have fun with it. I particularly loved page 194 where the word is pani ārai rā or sunblock and the sample sentence is:

Pania tō mata kit e pani ārai rā, kei rite koe kit e koura.

Put sunblock on your face or you’ll end up looking like a crayfish.

Sometimes though, the lesson is sombre, for example on day 38, when we learn the word hiko:

I a au e tupu ake ana, karekau he hiko i tō mātou whare.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have power in our house.

This page includes a tiny vignette where we learn that the word ‘hiko’ or lightning, became the word for electricity when electric lights were introduced to the country in the nineteenth century. There are several such vignettes in the book, either to provide some social and historical context, or just some helpful tips. In Māori trousers (tarau) and hope (tūmanako) are always singular, for example.

But Kelly’s choices affirm that the language is alive and modern, like this helpful sentence on page 22:

Tonoa mai au hei i te Pukamata.

Friend request me on Facebook.

And this one, on page 126.

Kua wareware i a au te kupu huna!

I’ve forgotten the password!

A Māori Word a Day won’t teach you Māori, but it might inspire you to kickstart your te reo journey, which, it seems, was Kelly’s intent all along. And on that note, I’ll leave you with the entry on page 337:

Whāia ō wawata kia tutuki rā anō i a koe.

Pursue your dreams until you achieve them.

Lee Murray is a ten-time winner of New Zealand’s prestigious Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her titles include the bestselling military thriller Into the Mist and supernatural crime-noir Hounds of the Underworld (co-authored with Dan Rabarts). She is proud to have co-edited eight anthologies, one of which, Baby Teeth, won her an Australian Shadows Award in 2014. She lives with her family in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Find her at leekiwi.info

New Zealand has a huge range of backcountry huts, most of which are available for public use. Some can sleep 80 people, while others are tiny two-bunk affairs with not even room to stand up in. They are located in our mountains, on the edges of fiords, our coastlines and lakes, beside rivers, in the bush and on the open tops. Together they form an internationally unique network of backcountry shelter, and these huts, so often full of character and history, are fantastic destinations in their own right.

A Bunk for the Night offers a guide to over 200 of the best of these huts to visit. This inspirational book has been written by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint, the authors of the seminal, best-selling history of New Zealand’s backcountry huts Shelter from the Storm.

Featuring well-known huts from the main tramping areas in both the North and South islands, the authors have also scoured the country for other interesting huts in out-of-the-way places, such as those in the Bay of Islands, on Banks Peninsula, in the Whanganui hinterland, the dry ranges of Marlborough and Stewart Island/Rakiura. This is a wonderful smorgasbord of must-visit huts, and an essential book for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Jacqui

The back country of New Zealand is sprinkled with cabins where a weary traveller may find a roof for the night (and sometimes little else). Some require booking and payment in advance, others are free to use. All this, and more is explained in the introduction.

The authors have selected some two hundred or so from the nearly thousand huts, most administered by the Department of Conservation, which they consider the best, and described them in some detail. Each description includes a heading with the location, the number of bunks, heating, and facilities.

This is followed by some paragraphs explaining what makes the particular hut interesting, perhaps something about the location, or about its history, and often how to get there. Each is accompanied by a colour photograph; and I suspect that is what will most likely draw people, especially those who are not trampers, to look into this book.

It’s obvious that this book is a labour of love from a trio of good keen kiwi blokes who really enjoy getting away from it all. It is not intended to be a book for those whose idea of travel involves aeroplanes and motor cars. This is a book for the person who hikes, who travels on their own two feet into the real New Zealand that lies far beyond the noise and the bright city lights. For me, the appeal is in the excellence of the photography and the stories.