It's been decidedly cold and dreary, making it the perfect weather to curl up with a good book. And is there anything more likely to warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly winter evening than a good murder mystery? I think not.
The Murder Bag
By Tony Parsons (Century, RRP $30)
The first of a planned trilogy featuring Detective Max Wolfe, this book has rocketed Tony Parsons into my top 5 list of favourite thriller authors.
That's quite an achievement, considering I've avoided reading any of his earlier books because I thought he came across as a bit of a sanctimonious git in his columns and opinion pieces in the British press.
Father-of-two Mark Hotton casts his eye over three books for children.
This Old Ram
Written and illustrated by Errol McLeary (Bateman RRP $20)
A truly Kiwi take on the traditional nursery rhyme This Old Man. The old ram has some fun on the farm tormenting the sheepdog, chasing sheep, chewing on cabbage trees, playing in the cowshed and scaring pukeko. Great illustrations with plenty of Kiwiana-related detail.
By Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Donovan Bixley (HarperCollins RRP $30)
By Kirsty Gunn, Maurice Gee, Paul Callaghan and Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, RRP $15 paperback, $5 ebook)
The critically acclaimed "short books on big subjects" have moved from the digital world to print.
BWB Texts were launched in March last year and although the series was initially released in digital format, the publisher is now making selected books available in paperback form.
In Thorndon, Wellington and Home: My Katherine Mansfield Project, author Kirsty Gunn looks at the meaning of the word "home", both for herself and for Katherine Mansfield.
Optimum Health the Paleo Way
By Claire Yates (Exisle Publishing, RRP $40)
It seems every week there is some new fad diet promising to fight flab in some miraculous way, but the so-called paleo diet is proof that there is really nothing new under the sun.
The paleo way is is all about a more natural, seasonal way of eating.
The author says following this eating plan can cost a little more because of some of the items you can't have and others that you must have. For example, her advice is to swap coconut palm sugar for plain sugar (but still only for an occasional treat), go for for non-seed oils and quality meats.
The paleo diet is not as restrictive as some and it is not, the author assures us, about becoming a caveman.
JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN (WITH HELP FROM SEYMOUR AND NORMAN)
BOOK REVIEW: Creature Comforts: New Zealanders and their Pets
By Nancy Swarbrick (Otago University Press, RRP $55)
Kiwis tend to fall into two categories when it comes to our furry, feathered and/or scaled friends: we are either pet-owners or poorly adjusted human beings who are incapable of forming real, meaningful relationships and doomed to a life of loneliness and social ineptitude.
OK, perhaps that is a tad harsh and judgmental. I guess there are some pet-owners out there who may be a little poorly adjusted.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with a 2011 survey showing 68 per cent of Kiwi households had a least one pet. Of those, almost half were occupied by cats (take that, Gareth Morgan) and nearly a third by dogs.
Author Nancy Swarbrick says she set out to gain some understanding of why New Zealanders are so fond of their animal companions by tracing the development of pet culture in this country.
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