Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Homegrown Kitchen is a complete guide to eating well for those who love to cook fresh food. Beginning with a comprehensive section on the kitchen essentials, including sourdough bread, home preserving and fermentation, the book is then divided into breakfast, lunch and main meal chapters, followed by a chapter on indulgent sweet treats.

Inspired by her large garden, Nicola Galloway creates food in rhythm with the changing seasons, with fresh homegrown and local produce forming the base of her recipes. With a young family, her food focus is on simple and delicious family-friendly recipes using pantry staples that are packed with nutrients. Nicola also has a particular interest in healthful traditional cooking techniques, such as sourdough bread and fermentation, and simplifying them so they can fit into our busy modern lives.

Homegrown Kitchen

Nicola Galloway

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

“Yet another one of these trendy cookbooks for fussy eaters”, I thought when this book arrived for review. But it wasn’t, not exactly. The author got my attention in the introduction, where she explains that she had once followed a gluten-free diet, until she visited a Greek island where she was tempted to try some proper locally-made bread, and had no trouble digesting it. Her experience supports the theory that a lot of what people think is gluten-intolerance is actually a reaction to bread made by modern factory bread-making practices, and that if you make it yourself it will be more digestible.

Predictably, then, there is an emphasis here on making it yourself. And not just the bread, though there are some of the most exhaustive instructions for making sourdough I have ever seen. You can make your own nut butters to go with it. There is an excellent section on jams and pickles, including how to make sauerkraut and kimchi. There are recipes for home-made coconut yoghurt and nut milks that lactose intolerant people will find very useful (those things are excessively expensive to buy). In fact, this is the very book you need if you do have a food intolerance (let’s include veganism in that category) and a tight budget. Many, if not, most recipes come with alternative ingredients and variations to suit different requirements. It is all very healthy, but not in that preachy way that annoys people like me; more of a creative “you should try this” vibe.

The book is well-presented (Galloway is a truly talented food photographer) and sits nicely flat on the bench. And if you can’t find a recipe in the book, the beginning of each section suggests more to be found on the Homegrown Kitchen website. It’s all good, and there’s a lot of ideas here that I’ll be looking to try.

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Unexpected. Unrequited. Forbidden. Eternal. Everyone has their own love story.

And in a twist of fate, four extraordinary love stories combine over the course of a romantic Valentine’s Day in Medieval England. Miles and Shelby find love where they least expect it. Roland learns a painful lesson about finding-and losing love. Arianne pays the price for a love so fierce it burns. And for the first -and last- time, Daniel and Luce will spend a night together like none other.

Lauren Kate’s FALLEN IN LOVE is filled with love stories . . . the ones everyone has been waiting for.

True love never says goodbye . . .

Fallen in love: Fallen #3.5

Lauren Kate

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

More tales from the world of the Fallen.

You really have to be a fan of the series to want or need to read tales of Miles, Shelby, Roland, Arriane, Luce and Daniel finding love on Valentine’s Day in Medieval England. This is fluff. Good decent fluff of the Fallen series but fluff.

If you are not familiar with the universe this book will not make a lot of sense, it gives a little bit of background for some characters, like how Arriane got her scars but that’s all.

A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.

One night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his uncle’s rambling home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

The Wych Elm

Tana French

Viking

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Sometimes there is a novel that is not there to entertain, or to enlighten, but rather to refract the complexity of life. The blurb will have to believing The Wych Elm is a crime thriller, which it is, but it is also a reminder that no matter how close you are to your family, or how many good friends you have, no one really knows what can push a person to do terrible things.

Tana French’s protagonist Toby Hennessy prevents the reader from ever getting too close to understanding him, as he is also unable to understand himself. Using repressed memories, a head injury, along with almost a conceited outlook on the world Tana French draws us into one preventable but inevitable event after another as Toby’s past and present violently collide.

At times it is difficult to like any of the characters, and suspension of belief is almost impossible, however, we are compelled to keep reading because The Wych Elm is not about a tidy happily ever after but rather it is about a universal truth; that we can survive almost everything, even the darkest part of ourselves.

For the very first time, eight of Lynley Dodd’s classic cat escapades are brought together in this delightful, handsome hardback gift book, complete with a ribbon.

“They sat in the firelight’s
welcoming glow,
hobnobbing happily,
ten in a
row.”

Furry Tales is a treasury of eight favourite stories featuring Lynley Dodd’s spirited and entirely adorable cats – Slinky Malinki, Scarface Claw, Pimpernel Pugh, Butterball Brown and many more. These marvellous tales will warm the hearts of Hairy Maclary fans – and cat-lovers – the world over,

It includes a readalong CD with each tale read by the fabulously entertaining Jackie Clarke and specially introduced with a personal anecdote from Lynley Dodd.

Inside the collection you will find these stories:
Slinky Malinki; The Minister’s Cat ABC; Slinky Malinki, Open the Door; Slinky Malinki Catflaps; Scarface Claw; Slinky Malinki’s Christmas Crackers; Slinky Malinki, Early Bird; Scarface Claw, Hold Tight!

Furry Tales: A Tale of Cat Mischief

Lynley Dodd

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

First., we are introduced to the inspirations behind Lynley Dodd’s stories, with an array of cats that have touched her life being described.  We meet the original Scarface Claw and see who ispired Slinky Malinki.

Then there is a collection of eight of the famous stories, all with the beautiful artwork that illustrates the plot so well.  The readalong CD narrates each story, with the voice of Jacqui Clarke bringing each to life.

Lastly, all seven of Dodd’s cat heroes are pictured and described.

This is a fantastic book, bringing all of Lynley Dodd’s clever rhymes and awesome illustrations of cats together.  The heaviness of the hardback might be a little difficult for young children to manage without help but the CD allows them to follow along.

Empress of the Fall – Book One of The Sunsurge Quartet, the sequel series to The Moontide Quartet, which concluded in 2015.

The Emperor is dead – long live the Empress! Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war. The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered – but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire. In the East, Sultan Salim, peacemaker and visionary ruler, faces his greatest challenge as his people demand an invasion of the West in retribution for the Rondian Crusades And lurking in the darkness, orchestrating both the power struggles and the inevitable conflicts, is a shadowy group threatening to destroy civilisation itself. Once more, Urte stands on the brink of cataclysm.

Empress of the Fall (Sunsurge Quartet Book One)

David Hair

Jo Fletcher Books

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

Part of the blurb for this novel tells the world that it’s “perfect to fill the gap before the next Game of Thrones”. I’m going to go a step further and suggest that you toss “A Song of Ice and Fire” into a suitable receptacle, and read this instead, because it’s altogether better both as a novel, and as a work of fantasy.

It’s better as a novel because the prose is very readable; it flows nicely, and vividly evokes the world of Urte. Because the characters are believable; those who turn to evil do so for credible reasons; the principle antagonist is very old, very powerful and quite mad. And because the book is very well-structured. It follows four groups of characters (if you include the masked servants of evil). There is Lyra, the titular “Empress of the Fall” who comes to the throne in autumn, after the Emperor and his entourage are killed in an attempt to destroy the Leviathan Bridge; there is Waqar and the magic-users of Kesh; and there is Kyric, a former slave who wants his kingdom back.  Remarkably, for the first novel in a quartet, it all comes to a grand climax, yet with a clever lead into the next part of the story.

It’s better as fantasy because the author has designed the world of Urte with great care and attention to detail. The magic system is one of the most elegant I’ve seen in a long time, and the consequences of having high magic in a low-tech world are worked out to an extent I’ve rarely come across. It’s a pity that the publisher didn’t include the maps in the proof copy I was sent, because the map is a very important part of world-design, especially when it is as intricate as this. But I was able to find the map for the previous series on the internet, which helped.

It isn’t often that I find a fantasy brick as enjoyable as this one; it’s been quite a while in fact, and I think I can safely commend this series to lovers of the genre, as one that will satisfy and yet leave the reader ready for more.

Once upon a poop . . .

Our fearless heroes are back!
Danny and Dinosaur are convinced that a damsel in distress needs their help… the only problem is, they aren’t sure where she actually is.

So they set off through Fairy Tale Land to track her down, but things don’t go exactly to plan…

Can Dinosaur make it through Fairy Tale Land without eating everything in sight?

And do all princesses really need to be rescued?

Packed with prehistoric cheekiness, punchy girl power and, of course, lots and lots of poop!

The Dinosaur That Pooped A Princess

Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter, illustrated by Garry Parsons

Red Fox

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

More from Danny and his dino pooper friend!

Danny is on a quest to save a princess and he and his dinosaur end up in Fairytale Land.  After being pointed in the right direction by the Gingerbread Man, they meet a variety of other fairytale characters – Three Little Pigs and Prince Charming among them – and trolls, orcs, and dragons.  Finally they find the princess’s castle, only to realise they can’t reach her.  Then the dinosaur comes up with a plan………….

The plot unfolds in rhythmic sentences that are a lot of fun to read aloud.  The illustrations are awesome, bright and colourful with much detail.  The ending is very cool and how all fairytales should end.

This is another brilliant book in the series and I urge you to collect the set.  I love the cute cover quote from a 6 yr old fan “I like that he poops, but how does he wipe his bum?”  My 4 yr old test reader is now 7 and still loves this series and her mum is happy as she can enjoy the story now Brooke can read by herself.

Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Befriended by eccentric Zonda Chubb, together they endeavour to unmask a traitor causing havoc within the palace. After an assassination attempt on the founder of COG, Sin realises that someone closest to him could be the traitor. With no other option, Sin is forced into an uneasy alliance with the school bully, Velvet Von Darque.

But can he trust her? And will COG try to bury him with the secrets he discovers? Secrets, spies and steampunk gadgets abound in this fantastic adventure story!

The Traitor and the Thief

Gareth Ward

Published by Walker Books Australia

Purchased at Conclave 3

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I am not sure what I was expecting when I embarked on this young adult novel, but it wasn’t a steampunk school story. It doesn’t start out that way… It starts out with a boy named Sin, who is just another street kid in an alternate England. Or so it seems. Then he’s caught and sent to a school for young spies, tasked to find the traitor in their midst. And it all goes down from there… deep into intrigue and dark and dastardly goings on.

I loved the word-play, and the way the author uses language to give each of the main characters a distinct voice. The world is well-realised, better than many steam-punk fantasies I’ve come across. And the plot rollicks on at a cracking pace. It’s a fun book, and I’m certain that many a young reader would enjoy it immensely. This book definitely deserved its SJV, and I look forward to seeing more from Gareth.