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Book reviews: May 2023

3 min read
Book reviews May

Pick of the month

Not Set in Stone
Dave Vass
Potton & Burton

Dave Vass has lived a life in the outdoors, caving and rafting before he went on to climb some of New Zealand’s most challenging mountain routes. He became one of the country’s leading mountaineers between the 1980s and 2015. Starting from around Arthur’s Pass and then to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, when he moved to Wānaka, his focus shifted to climbing difficult routes in Mount Aspiring National Park, before the huge granite walls of Fiordland’s Darran mountains.

However, it was all cut short in 2015 when a night-time fall resulted in a broken neck and incomplete tetraplegia. What started off as short stories that Vass wrote as a personal record of his passion for mountain life, ultimately culminated in the book Not Set in Stone.

It is a beautiful, evocative read that describes Vass’ alpine experiences, his love for the outdoors, and adapting to life after a life-altering accident. It is compelling and honest and a brave description of not only Vass’ passion for a mountain life but the consequences of when it goes wrong and how he has had to come to terms with a completely different existence.

More good reads

Butter, Butter
Petra Galler
Allen & Unwin

Featuring rich and decadent baking recipes that are flavour-packed and achievable, Butter, Butter is inspired by Auckland baker Petra Galler’s Jewish heritage.

Separated into five sections – cakes, pastry dough, cookie and slices, and savoury – you’ll find nostalgic classics with a twist and alongside the more standard bakes such as carrot cake, rhubarb tart and brownie are some special creations to try – Persian Love Cake, Tiramisu Crepe Cake, Knafeh (Palestinian), Rugelach (Polish), and many others.

The book also includes savoury ideas such as Mushroom and Gruyere Galette and Leek and Cheddar Brioche Butter Pudding.

The photographs are beautifully styled and are a mouth-watering visual feast, complementing recipes that are bold with the promise of deep flavours. The book offers new ideas to anyone looking to experiment. After all, as the young baker says, there’s more to baking than just banana cakes.

The Earth Book
Hannah Alice
Allen & Unwin

Take a closer look inside Earth with this incredible board book about our blue planet.

The see-through acetate pages along with clear, easy-to-understand text and colourful illustrations make for a fascinating read. It takes readers through an informative journey, delving into what makes Earth so special, right from the planet’s atmosphere, its land features, animal and human life, what’s found under the ocean, and the soil to what’s inside the planet.

The book also touches on the topics of climate change and how to take care of the planet, encouraging readers to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

From weather systems to the water cycle, the book is both engaging and educational and offers a fantastic first look at our world for curious young minds.

Suitable for ages five to eight.

Soundings: Diving for stories in the beckoning sea
Kennedy Warne
Massey University Press

Author Kennedy Warne is an environmentalist with a passion for the sea and its ecosystems and living creatures. In addition, he has impressive credentials: founding editor of the New Zealand Geographic and a strong advocate for oceanic conservation. His strong family connections to the sea – his grandfather was a boat builder and deep-sea fishing guide – sowed the seeds for his love of the underwater saltwater environment and his deep concerns about overfishing and pollution.

It’s a book written with heartfelt feelings and passion, recounting of childhood days in the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf and strong pleas to look after oceans.

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