From our reviewers: Non fiction

From The Southland Times book reviewers.

Bloodied But Not Beaten: The Stories Behind 40 Years of Investigative Journalism
By Rod Vaughan (David Ling Publishing, RRP $40)

Reviewed by Mark Hotton

Rod Vaughan is probably most well known to a certain generation as the reporter who got smacked by property tycoon Sir Bob Jones on the banks of a river.

The book details one of New Zealand's most experienced television journalists' 40-plus years in the industry, from the highs of landing a great story to the ignominy of being sacked because of cutbacks.

Vaughan looks back at some of his biggest investigations, including an insight into the crazy decision to buy 105 light armoured vehicles or LAVs, discovering why Kiwi travellers ended up getting held as hostages in Iraq at the start of the first Gulf War (because British SAS soldiers needed to get into Kuwait), and the Peter Ellis Christchurch creche case.

Having read fellow television reporter Mike McRoberts' book and being slightly disappointed, I was sceptical about this one. But it's a real page turner and better than McRoberts' effort.

Vaughan has earned his stripes - and then some - and Bloodied But Not Beaten is an informative and entertaining read.

Perfect Stranger
By Kay Schubach (Michael Joseph, RRP $37)

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

This is a true story about falling for the wrong man and paying the price in loss of home, possessions, friends, job, emotional security and self-respect.

At 40, Kay felt she was in a relationship rut.

Her partner of four years had turned down her marriage proposal and refused to discuss having children. Then she met the "perfect stranger" who promised her love, marriage, children and a house in the country with dogs and horses the dream life - she had only ever imagined. It wasn't long before the dream turned into a nightmare.

This is a voyeuristic, harrowing read and a warning. Even intelligent, independent, successful women of the world can get caught up with the wrong men. Kay has been a business manager for high profile identities and now runs an art gallery in Sydney. A well written, eye-opening true story by a survivor.

The Little Things
By Lawrey & Lole (Craig Potton Publishing,

Reviewed by F Mulligan

The Little Things, subtitled Cartoons to Save Your Sanity! is a compendium of a syndicated newspaper cartoon. The writing/drawing team of Matt Lawrey and Peter Lole have targeted the world of parents with young kids, highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly with comic glee.

If you've got young kids, had young kids or even just seen others who have them, you'll find something in here that will make you grin, smile ruefully inside, grimace with empathy or just laugh out loud.

It's a small pocket size with black and white cartoons. It may just be a nice sort of gift to those in need, or soon to be in need, of light relief.

The Bicycle Book
By Bella Bathurst (HarperCollins, RRP $25)

Reviewed by Mark Hotton

Cyclist Bella Bathurst decided she wanted to write a book on cycling because she wanted to read something good about bicycles and there wasn't anything around except for technical stuff, sporty stuff and Lance Armstrong stuff.

She starts off by making her own bike frame, and then goes through a bit of the history of cycling, weaving in interesting anecdotes about the cycling world, and generally writes positive things about those who prefer to pedal somewhere.

Bathurst talks to various cyclists about their passion and love of the bicycle, including those who have survived the Tour de France, bike messengers, The Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree, who has a cracking story, and former soldiers on the use of the bike in warfare.

It's an enjoyable book, sometimes a little too heavy on detail, but not necessarily one that's restricted to cycling aficionados - in fact if you've ever biked anywhere, you'll find something of interest in it.