Hastings District Libraries

Friday, 23 March 2018

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone

I cannot resist a good looking cook book. That doesn’t mean to say that I cook using the recipes from all the books I look at but rather that I get inspiration to day dream about dishes and places and situations and table settings.

This is the debut book from Athena Calderone, a ‘celebrated American interior designer, chef, entertaining expert and creator of an award winning lifestyle site EyeSwoon’ according to her personal blurb. The book contains 100 seasonal recipes for meals that look as gorgeous as I am sure they are delicious. Sometimes the ingredients sound terribly foreign as in grilled fluke (a white fish) or Gemelli ( a pasta dish), but the photographs that accompany each recipe are stunning and bring the food to life in a manner that makes you want to get into the kitchen right away and start cooking. .

Athena describes food as being our greatest unifier, something we can relate to regardless of our backgrounds, passions or palates. I know for me, food preparation and consumption has always been one of the most pleasurable ways of spending time with friends and family.

A cook book such as this is like taking a mini holiday. You can almost smell the salty tang of a summer beach barbeque or the smell of eucalyptus leaves as friends gather around a roaring winter fire.

Athena gives step by step advice on everything from preparation to presentation. Organised by season, each section closes with a table-scape inspired by nature, along with specific table décor and entertaining tips.

These are luscious dishes to make for friends and family. The tips at the bottom of the page give the impression that this is more of a conversation from one friend to another and adds to the feeling of being part of this culinary experience. Coming from a region that prides itself on it fresh fruit, vegetables and wine, the ingredients, if unusual, are the type that can be adapted to whatever we may be able to source. I can’t wait to try the creamy cauliflower soup with dukkah watercress pesto or the cardamom – cognac apple cake from her Fall section as we slowly wind our own way into Autumn.

Cook Beautiful lives up to its name. A beautiful cookbook.

Reviewed by Fiona Frost

Catalogue link for Cook Beautiful

Monday, 19 March 2018

Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

When a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths. - Warcross website

I am SUCH a huge Marie Lu fan, and in my eyes she can do no wrong. If you haven’t read anything of hers before then I heartily recommend the Legend Trilogy and the Young Elites Trilogy! And of course her latest book was just as exciting. However I am not quite sure how to properly describe it.

It’s YA sci-fi – set in a virtual reality video game. It is spies and hackers and plot twists. It is a teenage hacker named Emika Chen who works as an online bounty hunter, only to get herself caught up in something so much bigger than could ever be expected. It is romance and betrayal, and fame and fortune.

If you liked books like Ready Player One and The Hunger Games then this book is definitely for you!

Posted by Sas

Catalogue link: Warcross

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Trauma Cleaner: One woman's extraordinary life in death, decay & disaster by Sarah Krasnostein.

...Sandra is at once exactly like you or me or anyone we know and, at the same time, she is utterly peerless.

I think it's fair to say this biography blew my mind.

Sandra Pankhurst is an Australian woman whose business specialises in cleaning up hoarders homes, death scenes, methamphetamine labs and any other grisly scenario you can imagine. Sandra is very good at what she does and is a fascinating character. Her strength lies in the compassionate way she deals with her clients; especially the hoarders who often have heart-wrenching stories and are present while the cleaning team tackle years of collecting and decay.

Sandra began life as Peter, a little boy who is adopted and then starved, neglected, and abused by his new family. Peter grows up, marries, and has children, before beginning a new life as a woman.

Sandra spent time as a Les Girls performer in Melbourne and self-funded her gender reassignment surgery. She worked as a prostitute in mining towns, and later as a funeral director (who married the owner of the business). Her abusive upbringing  and her experiences as a trans woman, as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse she endured during this time, have left inevitable scars.
It seems as though Sandra is healing her many personal traumas through her empathy towards her clients and the transformation of horrific physical spaces.

Alternate chapters in The Trauma Cleaner detail Sandra's personal history and experiences; and her Trauma Cleaning clients.  Both topics are interesting enough to stand alone as a book, together they are riveting, if not sometimes difficult, reading.

Writer Sarah Krasnostein is also a lawyer and met Sandra at a seminar for forensic support services. She was fascinated by Sandra's story and the two became close over the four years she spent writing the book and attending jobs with Sandra. Her writing is sometimes a little clunky, but this ultimately does not matter as Sandra's story speaks for itself and completely held my attention.

A truly amazing woman with an amazing life history. Highly recommend.

Reviewed by Katrina

Catalogue link:    The Trauma Cleaner
ebook:  The Trauma Cleaner

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You  is a clever little psychological thriller.
Zoe Walker lives in London with her new partner and two grown children.  She travels to work by tube daily; same route, same carriage, same spot.
One evening she is shocked to see her photograph in the classified section of a paper another passenger is reading, with a web address and a phone number.
More photographs of women keep appearing and some of the women are assaulted or murdered.
It conspires that someone is selling details of these women's commuting details, to those who may want to meet them for dating purposes, or something much more sinister.
Police constable Kelly Swift is very interested in the case; which becomes increasingly more complex and terrifying.
Zoe becomes  afraid for her own safety and paranoid about who may be following her or may have given her details to the site.
A precautionary tale about survellence.

Claire Mackintosh is an ex-police officer and I will be seeking out her first novel I Let you Go.

Reviewed by Katrina

Catalogue link: I See You

Monday, 12 March 2018

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge. Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. - Publisher's blurb

To start off with I was very confused. The book seems to start almost at the end, and works its way back to the beginning, although it seems to leap all over the place at different points of the story in order to keep certain parts a mystery for as long as possible. Normally I hate this in books, and while I still don’t love this style of writing, I couldn’t put the book down. It does mean that you might read a whole chapter thinking ‘This is pointless. What does this have to do with anything?’ And you don’t find out until the next chapter why you had to sit through all of that. So it definitely has its flaws.

Also, Jule the narrator is completely unreliable! And a pretty awful human being. But to be honest almost everyone in this book is, so I guess it is to be expected.
So Genuine Fraud is basically the Talented Mr Ripley. Only starring a female and written for teens.

Posted by Sas

Catalogue link: Genuine Fraud

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

Nine Lessons is the seventh in Nicola Upson’s mystery series featuring real-life author Josephine Tey. It isn’t surprising that Upson chose Tey as her amateur sleuth, the 1930s period is so evocative of the classic Agatha Christie era and like Christie, Tey wrote whodunits herself.

But it’s good old Inspector Archie Penrose who does most of the legwork in this book. Archie is Josephine’s dear friend and the two have worked on a number of cases together. Archie even asks Josephine to do the odd bit of library research on his behalf – no police department computers in those days.

The story tees off with a truly grim murder. A well-known musician is found in a London churchyard, buried alive in a grave, in his pocket a picture fragment showing a country house. Archie discovers the house is in Cambridge, which is conveniently where Josephine has just relocated with her lover.

More victims turn up at regular intervals, each of them former members of the King’s College choir from just before World War I. Whatever is the terrible secret that they are hiding and will Archie get to the bottom of it before they all hand in their dinner pails? Upson throws in a connection to M R James, college Provost and author of deliciously creepy ghost stories, some of which are linked to the murders.

Meanwhile, Josephine’s new partner, Marta, has seen Archie’s wartime girlfriend from years ago in the company of her daughter – a daughter who looks amazingly like Archie. The problem is Archie doesn’t know he has a daughter. This makes an interesting subplot with plenty of emotional conflict, while a serial rapist on the loose in Cambridge keeps the police force busy.

Nine Lessons is a tightly plotted, well-paced whodunit, with loads of 1930s atmosphere. The crimes described are original and quite chilling, building to a climax that catches you by surprise. Add to that some first-class writing and well-considered characterisation, and you can see that Nicola Upson doesn’t put a foot wrong. Expecting a run of the mill period mystery, I was more than pleasantly surprised.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Nine Lessons

Monday, 5 March 2018

Generation Rent by Shamubeel and Selena Eaqub

Written by economist Shamubeel Eaqub and his partner Selena in 2015 the message in Generation Rent still holds true today. The decline of home ownership has struck at the heart of the Kiwi dream.

House prices may boom or bust but the long-term trend is clear: for more New Zealanders than ever, home ownership is out of reach. Incomes simply have not kept pace with skyrocketing property prices. Generation Rent calls into question priorities at the heart of New Zealand’s identity.

In this BWB Text, Shamubeel and Selena investigate how we ended up here, and what can be done to ensure all New Zealanders – home owners and renters alike – live in affordable and secure housing.

At the time this book was written many of us in regional New Zealand may have considered this ‘an Auckland problem’ and scoffed at the worries of those living so far away in the big city. Never did we imagine that the simple dream of owning, or even renting a home in Hawke's Bay could become so difficult, so out of reach for so many.

This is a short book on a big subject by a great New Zealand writer and thinker. If we are to fix this issue for the coming generations then the ideas in this little book are a good starting point.

Shamubeel spoke recently about Housing and Inequality at the Havelock North Function Centre.

Posted by CC

Catalogue link: Generation Rent