Amongst the myriad of fond memories from childhood is this: heading down to the local Public Library to excitedly get my hands on a copy of Rhythm and...moreAmongst the myriad of fond memories from childhood is this: heading down to the local Public Library to excitedly get my hands on a copy of Rhythm and Swing – the great playing days autobiography of my then sporting hero, cricketer Richard Hadlee.
Now, a knighthood and twenty years later, Sir Richard has delivered a thoughtful and worthy follow-up with Changing Pace: A Memoir. Picking up where the previous book left off, Sir Richard shares stories, anecdotes and insights from the final years of his playing career, the tumultuous period of his personal life following retirement, his life as a selector, and his thoughts on the evolving state of New Zealand cricket.
The sporting recollections and revelations alone make Changing Pace a great read. Sir Richard shares personal insights and opinions on everything from his own playing days to recent events like the Indian Premier League, Stephen Fleming being dropped as captain, and the vitriolic personal criticism he faced from certain sportswriters.
But Changing Pace is much more than sporting reminisces; it is also a very personal and candid account of the life of a committed and passionate man, who just happens to be one of the greatest ever at his chosen sport. The first chapter starts not with cricket, but with his grief over the death of his father Walter, three years ago. Sir Richard writes in a very readable and honest style, and there are many moments of both poignancy and humour as he recounts everything from surviving a debilitating heart attack and the disintegration of his marriage of 22 years, to rebuilding his life, and his thoughts on the future of the game he loves.
Marketing and reality don’t always go hand in hand, but in this case when the publishers describe Changing Pace as the perfect gift for a sports-loving father, they are absolutely 100% right. Highly recommended. (less)
Our colonial forbears made long journeys across vast oceans in search of a better life. By and large they found what has been called a ‘model society...moreOur colonial forbears made long journeys across vast oceans in search of a better life. By and large they found what has been called a ‘model society at the end of the world’, but like any society, the land of the long white cloud had its underbelly.
It’s some of the people that have made up that underbelly that award-winning journalist Brownyn Sell has focused on in her latest book. Law Breakers & Mischief Makers provides short vignettes of some of the misfits, swindlers, love rats, escaped convicts, murderers, charlatans, highwaymen, dodgy politicians, and other shady characters who have speckled New Zealand’s history.
And let’s be honest, whether it’s literature, drama, or history – it’s the ‘bad guys’ that can intrigue us the most – good stories often need great villains, whether it’s Shakespeare’s Iago, Richard III and MacBeth, or Darth Vader in Star Wars.
Sell has combed historic newspaper reports to compile an interesting collection of great Kiwi ‘villains’, and Top of the South readers will find a few recognisably ‘local’ characters, such as the Burgess gang of Maungatapu Murders infamy, and visionary if tainted settlement founder Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
Sell has done a good job mixing the famous (baby farmer Minnie Dean, Aramoana gunman David Gray) with the somewhat forgotten but equally fascinating (cross-dressing swindler Amy Bock, flamboyant Otago superintendent James Macandrew who declared his own house a prison to avoid going to the real gaol for unpaid debts). However the short chapters can leave readers wanting a little more.
As renowned Master of Wine Bob Campbell says in the introduction to this gorgeous book, “there is a strong connection between scenic splendour and qua...moreAs renowned Master of Wine Bob Campbell says in the introduction to this gorgeous book, “there is a strong connection between scenic splendour and quality wine, and many of New Zealand’s best wines are made in spectacularly beautiful regions”.
And who better to capture the visual allure of that connection than Blenheim’s own Kevin Judd? A key figure in the worldwide recognition of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (as Cloudy Bay’s founding winemaker), Judd is also renowned as New Zealand’s finest wine photographer. And it shows, in this stunning tome.
Through his lens, Judd takes us on a tour of all of New Zealand’s wine regions, from Northland to Central Otago and all the vine-filled valleys and plains in between. He and Campbell also introduce each region with fascinating details about its history, as well as the climate, topography, and wine styles that make it special.
The beautiful landscapes in Marlborough and Nelson are, of course, well-represented in this collection of ‘the best’ of Judd’s vineyard photography. Many of the photos are simply stunning – and a stark reminder that even in this age of digital cameras and photo-sharing image overload thanks to the Internet, there is still something truly special, artistic, and evocative about a superbly-taken photo.
Judd particularly shines in highlighting the beauty of the changing seasons and his mastery and use of natural light. A wonderful book, that is bound to inspire many a vineyard visit this summer. (less)
Chow Yat was an elderly Chinese market gardener in post-war Wanganui whose unsolved 1922 murder sparked generations of local ghost stories. Author Joa...moreChow Yat was an elderly Chinese market gardener in post-war Wanganui whose unsolved 1922 murder sparked generations of local ghost stories. Author Joan Rosier-Jones plays cold-case detective - sifting through detailed police files held in the National Archives, newspaper microfiche, accounts of the historic setting of the murder, and talking to locals in order to compile this fascinating account.
She creates a vivid picture with detailed and insightful chapters addressing 1920s Wanganui, Chow Yat’s early life, incidents on the day, evening of, and day after the murder, the police investigation, suspects, aftermath, and ongoing uncertainty. Her sparse writing style allows space to absorb, ponder and speculate – not only in terms of the whodunnit aspect, but also wider issues such as historic xenophobia, faulty eye-witness descriptions, family secrets, and the police tendency to focus on building a case against one suspect to the detriment of other options.
All-in-all The Murder of Chow Yat is an enjoyable read that will still have you thinking long after the final page. (less)
In short, The World of WearableArt is the perfect ‘coffee table’ book; ideal for flicking through again and again, admiring the ideas, intricacy, and...moreIn short, The World of WearableArt is the perfect ‘coffee table’ book; ideal for flicking through again and again, admiring the ideas, intricacy, and brilliance that went into many of the garments on show. The more you look, the more you see, and the more you’re impressed. Car parts, wood shavings, potato chip packets, seaweed, slices of toast, old telephone parts, paper clips, corrugated iron, gloves, feathers – a mind-boggling array of unusual materials have sparked entries from fashion designers, artists and costume makers the world over.
In effect the book is a lovely photo-essay of a remarkable Nelson-born competition and award show that has become a cultural phenomenon, deservedly lauded here and overseas. Essential for art, design, and fashion fans, but recommended for anyone. (less)
An excellent compilation of fascinating stories from the Second World War - this two volume set was one of my favourite reads growing up. It had every...moreAn excellent compilation of fascinating stories from the Second World War - this two volume set was one of my favourite reads growing up. It had everything from adventure to mystery - and all of it true. From famous to unknown stories, everything from a man falling 18,000 ft from a Lancaster bomber without a parachute and surviving (and having his German captors investigate then celebrate the feat), to 'The Corpse that Hoaxed the Axis' to a small-scale invasion of America to how Himmler's Scandinavian masseuse played a 'Schindler'-like role to save many people (I remember reading this long before I ever read of Oskar Schindler). More than 20 years on, I still remember the basics of many of the stories. A truly wonderful read - I read many of the stories over and over. A great addition to anyone's bookshelf. (less)