Book Review | The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Food Blogger

I hadn’t read a quality, eerie thriller in a while and was surprised to find one on my hands with Lupton’s third novel.

Set in Alaska, The Quality of Silence unfolds in a manner perfectly matched to the landscape in which it is set.  A small cast of characters, an environmental conflict, murder, solitude, an ice road and an invisible threat moving ever closer :::::shiver!:::::

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top BloggerYasmin heads to Alaska in an attempt to reconcile with her husband, a wildlife videographer who is filming on location.  Travelling with their deaf daughter Ruby, upon her arrival in Alaska, Yasmin discovers that authorities presume her husband Matt to have perished in a catastrophic fire that decimated an entire village.

Convinced her husband is alive, Yasmin and Ruby begin the journey north, into the centre of a snow storm and into the desolate silence of the arctic circle.

So, there are a couple of farfetched premises that I had to ‘get over’ so I could get on with enjoying this book, because I really did enjoy it.  The first being that a mother would take a child on a mission so desperate that she would hitch a ride into the unknown, potentially most lethal natural environment in the world……….with a truck driver.  Moving on, I then had to accept that when she had to, Yasmin was totally able to drive a massive truck carrying a small building, across the lethal ice roads in Alaska.  This was a tough one as I’ve watched many episodes of Ice Road Truckers, and these shows have led me to believe that it’s a pretty dodgy exercise – even if you KNOW what you’re doing!

Aside from these niggly issues, The Quality of Silence quickly became a book that I couldn’t put down. The fear of being pursued through no-mans land is translated scarily well by Lupton plus the terror of having your child with you through it all adds layer upon layer of fear.

This is a great read, and though set in the snow lol, definitely one to add to your Christmas wish list for lazy summer days!

Book Review | The Father by Anton Svensson

Mummy Blog new Zealand Book Review

* Perfect Christmas gift, very much a ‘Dad/husband’ book.

This is a big book.  A very, very engrossing book.
The Father by Anton Svensson is a chilling novel that goes into excruciating detail when describing a family history so violent that there is no escape from it.
Three brothers who grew up fending for themselves against not only their peers but also their own father, mature into young men who know only violence as a means to getting what they want.  Based on the incredible true story of Sweden’s most notorious bank robbers, the author melds fiction to his own reality – The Military Gang, so-called by the Swedish media, were his own brothers and father.
This unfathomable reality has served to create a stunning, albeit brutal novel.  The immense detail in the planning of the many robberies is offset by the stark emotional blankness of the eldest brother, and ringleader, Leo, who struggles to maintain even one personal relationship independent from those he shares with his brothers Felix and Vincent.
The indifference with which the three brothers and one of their childhood friends committed the many robberies made for a slow start to the book for me.  It took me a while to get invested but The Father soon became more than difficult to put down. 

The authors- there are actually two – weave the historical background of the family seamlessly into the narrative which ends in a climax seemingly destined for the big screen.
This is a freaking awesome book, I loved it.  It’s firmly a thriller with all of the elements of a classical tragedy at play.
Highly recommended.
Published by Hachette New Zealand, August 2015 $34.99 RRP

Bear Grylls | Ghost Flight, Father’s Day Gift Idea!

Mummy Blog new Zealand Book reviewMummy Blog new Zealand Book review

I’m a HUGE Bear Grylls fan.  Dave and I went through a serious Man Vs Wild faze and when we actually got to use his scree running technique while completing the Tongariro Crossing (and it worked!) we became fans for life.

Ethan loves the Bear Grylls junior novels so I was really looking forward to getting stuck into the first offering in his new adult adventure series.  I’m probably not exactly the target demographic but I figure there’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to adventure thrillers!

No mucking around, this book is awesome.  I believe it’s ‘co-written’ by Damien Lewis, to what extent who knows but the tone and voice is undeniably that of Bear Grylls.  This book reads exactly as Grylls talks on tv, adding some authenticity to the fast moving and globe-spanning plot.  Our hero and main character is Will Jaeger, who is basically Bear Grylls doing some freelancing under a pseudonym.  He’s got some baggage (and a wife and son who’ve been missing for a couple of years!) but he soldiers on and leads an international team deep into the Amazon for a page turning adventure.

The premise is a cracker and the twists and turns keep coming until the very last page.  The revelation of a covert Nazi enemy is probably the most successful and gripping element in this introduction to Jaeger and his team of soldiers-for-hire.

Ghost Flight covers a lot of ground and does seem to skip over a few details fairly quickly but the action is engaging and believable. I found this a surprisingly engrossing read and can’t wait for the second book in the series.
If Dad enjoys Bear Grylls and/or the action adventure genre then this book is an addition to the Father’s Day haul that is sure to please.

Ghost Flight by Bear Grylls RRP $34.99 EBook RRP $19.99

Book Review | You Can’t Give Vodka to a Baby

Look, I’m a mummy blogger.  I guess some of you think that means I must know what I’m doing with my kids but the truth is, I’m just cool with admitting publicly that I have no freaking idea!  The best medicine for any attack of parenting guilt, doubts, anxiety and general malaise is laughter.  And vodka, preferably taken together.

You Can’t Give Vodka to a Baby – Y.C.G.V.T.A.B – by Dr Oliver Green BSA {Bull Shit Artist – he studied at the same school as Dr Dre!} is straight up hilarious.  People talk about a novel, saying they just couldn’t put it down, this book is much the same.  It will have you procrastinating and neglecting your chores and children as you read/laugh/cry through ‘just one more page’.  It’s recommended as the perfect parenting companion for any new parent…….or any parent that feels that they made some horrific mistakes raising previous kids, and now they need a do-over.

Choc full of advice, Y.C.G.V.T.A.B is designed to help you through the tough times as a parent but also help you make some tough decisions, such as Are you ready to be a mother?  Crucial step in the parenting journey and easily answered by completing a simple quiz.  Questions such as “Do you already own enough shoes?”, “Is spare cash a problem that you’d like to find a remedy for?” and “Do you like wiping things?” will help set your mind at ease about getting knocked up or at least trying to.

A section that particularly spoke to me, and perhaps many of you too, deals with the topic of how not to start a baby blog.    If this information had been readily available eight years ago when I began blogging here at The Best Nest, well, I wouldn’t even be reviewing this book would I!  I would have saved countless hours of writing and agonizing over posts read by my Mum and Nana, I would probably have a Real Job and my kids would undoubtedly be geniuses from all of the extra attention I would have lavished them with.  What a shame.

You Can’t Give Vodka to a Baby is a fabulously penned poke at the “Baby Industry”, written to give parents new and old a reminder that raising kids isn’t as complicated as the corporatised advice and information industry around babies would have us believe.  A must have addition to any stack of unread parenting books on your bedside table and a great baby shower gift.

Published by Upstart Press – May 4th, 2015 RRP $24.99

If you would like to win a copy for you or someone in need of some sage parenting advice, head over to Facebook and find the competition post.  Closes Sunday 17th May 10pm.

Book Review | The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

nz-blog-book=review-the-invention-of-wings

Finishing a book, or even starting or reading a page of one is a rare luxury these days but one I DO enjoy, so I will plod on  s l o w l y lol.

This is a book I really wanted to finish sooner, I never wanted to put it down at the end of the night when my eyelids got too heavy.  It is a beautiful book dealing with one of the most grotesque abominations of human history; slavery.

Written in two parallel but decidedly unequal voices, The Invention of Wings introduces Sarah Grimke, from a wealthy, white, slave-owning family in Charleston SC and the slave she was given as a ‘gift’ on her tenth birthday, Hetty known as “Handful”.

I was naively unaware whilst I was reading, that although a work of fiction, The Invention of Wings is based on historical facts. The Grimke sisters Angelina and Sarah were hugely influential abolitionists and early feminist authors and Hetty was indeed a slave owned by the Grimke family.

One of Monk Kidd’s successes with this novel is surely the disparate nature of the two main characters and the dance between them as they both grow into strong, admirable women.  Each of the main female voices is archetypical of her inherited place in the society of the day, but neither Sarah nor Handful is willing to settle into the life ordained for her by her birth.

This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from the horror of life lived as a slave but it also bows to the beauty of human relationships that can altogether save a tortured soul.  I loved every page of The Invention of Wings and will be looking to read more by Sue Monk Kidd.

 

Book Review | The Beginners guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson

wpid-20140417_143534.jpg

Let me preface this by saying, this is a special kind of book for a special kind of kiwi kid.  One that hates to be laced into shoes and stuffed into cars to hustle from here to there, a kid that doesn’t blink at dirty hands and can fashion a fishing line out of anything.  A kid that wears shorts year round, can catch a skink before you’ve even noticed it and is happiest at the beach when the watches are off and he can swim for hours.

Luckily for me I have such a kid and luckily for him The Beginners Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson is a finalist in the 2014 NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults.

From an adult perspective, this is a beautiful book.  The dust cover is perfection, the layout and design is so far beyond what is usually delivered in a kids book, the amount of white space is perfect for little readers and the photography is a stunning mix of historical and modern imagery.  I LOVE the way this book looks and feels.  But the content is just as good.  Safety first – the introduction and first section focus on firearm safety and hunter responsibility in just the right tone and verbosity for a young reader.

The sections to follow cover everything from whitebaiting to bushcraft, target shooting and goat hunting.  A complete glossary of outdoorsy excellence in our own backyard.

wpid-20140417_143726.jpg

From a kids perspective this book is just excitement.  A manual that will end up dog-eared and well referenced and read over and over again.  There are so many cool graphics, checklists, recipes, facts and interesting diagrams that Ethan was actually unable to read the book straight through for quite a while, it was just too tempting to turn the page and see what was next.  My 9 year old son truly loves this book and will treasure it for years to come.

This book was provided to me for my editorial consideration but all opinions expressed are my own.

wpid-20140417_143609.jpg

Paul Adamson – author of The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing (Random House NZ)

1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?
I’ve had the idea for the book for over 15 years but due to heavy teaching then Principal-ship commitments it never seemed to get off the ground. Until that is a lovely young man by the name of Alex Hedley fom Random House came into my school one day and we both believed that there was a gap in the market. It literally blossomed from there.

2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
Writing each draft chapter on separate forms of hunting or fishing was a breeze! Rewriting to keep to the brief of just informing and being instructive instead of diving into actual experiences and anecdotal stories that would have been ‘Boys Own’ stuff had to be cut. That was tough. Getting the balance between clear understandable and age-relevant terminology without dumbing down the importance of key points coupled with illustrations required a lot of emailing to and fro.

3. Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?
This was written initially soley for 8- 16 year olds but very soon we realised it was as much an instructional book for even adult beginners….hence the title.

4. Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?
Philip Holden’s books on hunting in New Zealand; particularly his later ones where photos added tothe impact of the text.

Definitely Matthew Syed’s book Bounce. The balance of talent and practice overcoming doubts in your ability to do something special….provided a lot of self belief.

5. Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?
Papillon, by Henry Charrie’re. The clarity of writing had you experiencing everything from sounds to smells to high emotion….amazing.

6. What is your favourite thing to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Getting out there and enjoying the Outdoors. I’m mentoring two young lads at the moment as both my sons are off at Uni. One of these boys is through the ‘Big Brother Big Sister’ organisation, a sort of informal adoption, but our interaction (fun time once a week) could last for a lifetime. Seeing those smiles after personal achievements is fantastic.

Lowering my golf handicap back to the 2 handicap I was on, prior to open heart surgery, would be great.

NZ_Post_Book_Awards

Read | An Idiot Abroad – Review

idiot_abroad_diaries_

Have you seen the Idiot Abroad TV series?  It’s awesomely, deadpan and hilarious.  Basically the premise is Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their mate(?) Karl Pilkington on blind adventures to places he really has no interest in visiting.  In fact Karl seems to have no interest in visiting any place at all aside from his local Fish n Chip.  In this travel diary, Karl visits the 7 wonders of the world, reluctantly.  His accounts are totally without fluff and often focus on the unexpected and banal.  He worries about the effects of broadening his horizons by travelling, as he was totally happy with his horizons as limited as they were.

I truly loved this book.  Originally purchased for my husband to take to Asia {I now realise how that may have seemed to him!}, I picked it up finished it in a day or two.  A lovely easy read, but engaging and funny.  You would seriously never have considered travel in the way Pilkington does – he has no time for it basically.  The tidbits of his adventures that do please him will catch you by surprise and his anecdotes and distinct lack of rose-coloured glasses are refreshing and quite endearing.  For a quick preview of the show have a look at the video below;

Pilkington’s second book, The Further Adventures of an Idiot Abroad, is on my nightstand waiting in line to be read, but first up I am joining in with the ABM Book Club.  January’s book is The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, it’s locked and loaded on my kindle ready to go!  Will you join me?  What are you reading this summer?