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How to have the last word (with style) - 5th Sep 2016

How to have the last word (with style) Big Book of Insults by Nancy McPhee

"Many thanks for your book.  I shall lose no time in reading it."  Guess who said that and when??  And that's just a taster to get you started.

A razor-wit is probably something many of us have envied time and again during our lives. The ability to produce an impudent riposte that amuses your friends or the sharp one-liner that disconcerts your enemies is a skill that a lot of people would like to possess. 

This Big Book of Insults contains some of the greatest derogatory quotations and imaginatively nasty invective from a wide variety of sources, both old and new, and covers every topic under the sun from history, politics, literature and love  to  death and revenge.  

Read this book and marvel at  the verbal dexterity and wittiness on display.  I am hoping that some of it will rub off on me so that I can occasionally think of a nasty epithet in a timely fashion rather than a day too late.  I fear that I will live in hope!

And another taster for farewell:
Lady Astor to Winston Churchill:  If you were my husband, I should poison your coffee.
Churchill to Lady Astor:  Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.


WHISKY GALORE - 2nd Sep 2016

The world's greatest spirit (and little or no argument about it)

Whether it's Scottish, Irish, Canadian, Kentucky, Tennessee, Japanese, single malt, bourbon, rye, or blended whiskies and whether you want to drink it, gift it, or read about it, you'll find something to enjoy here today.

Maybe you're thinking about Father's Day which is rapidly approaching, maybe you need a pick-me-up, maybe you're after a special tipple to celebrate something.  Whatever the occasion, there is bound to be a whisky to suit your tastebuds and your pocket.

And here's a little traditional rhyme to help on the morning after:

I don't feel too healthy this morning
with the whisky fumes still in my head.
No, I don't feel too healthy this morning
so I think I'll just stay here in bed.

Perhaps later today I'll feel better
and maybe by late afternoon,
when my hands have stopped trembling and shaking,
I'll be able to eat..... with a spoon.

Then later on, in the evening,
I'll be back to normal, I think,
In fact I'll be feeling so healthy, 
I might just go out for a drink.

Good health to you!

Robin Morrison The South Island of New Zealand: From the Road - 1st Sep 2016

Beautiful photography

This book offers a very different South Island to the one normally presented in books of photography.  You are usually provided with stunning scenery and picturesque landscapes but here is an alternative view.

As Hamish Keith said, deliberately misquoting LP Hartley, "The imagination is another country and they do things differently there."  And that is definitely the South Island that Robin Morrison presents in this beautiful book.  

Here are the real houses and pubs and lodges and sheds and the real people who inhabit the island.  You get a feeling that you 'know' the South Island when you've perused this book. It gives you a desire to set off around the country on your own road trip just to see if you can see even half of what Robin Morrison's sensitive and imaginative lens has captured.  

It's a really lovely book and if you don't already know it, it's worth a very good look.  Even if you are already familiar with it, another visit won't disappoint.  Beautiful.

Puzzles - 31st Aug 2016

Medieval Enigmas by M Ly, N Masson, Y Caudal & P Martin

Everyone has to have one
and I belong to one only
Taking someone else's
is punished by law.
Those who don't have one
bear the flag and the cross!
On second thoughts, just the cross.
What could it be?

This book is crammed full of brain teasers, puzzles, mathematical problems, riddles, games, numerical conundrums, mysteries to decode and more. There are diagrams to illustrate some problems that are difficult to explain or unravel, and sometimes the pictures are just for fun.

Get your brain working and entertain yourself and friends by poring over some of these.  

Answer to above:  a signature!


Churches of New Zealand - 29th Aug 2016

Worship in the Wilderness by Geoffrey Thornton

This book is for those who are interested in New Zealand's heritage of small country churches. They may be beautiful buildings in themselves or they may rely on the splendour of their surroundings but either way they are a significant part of our history and our built environment.

Most of these small early rural churches were built of timber, which was an advantage as they could be transported to a new location when the need arose (unlike churches in the UK and Europe which were pretty much a permanent fixture once built).  

Whether you are interested in the architecture, the history, the settings & landscape, or simply in a guide of irresistible places to visit as you tiki tour around the country, this book will provide you with plenty of information from the Ratana Temple at Mangamuka Bridge to the Church of the Good Shepherd at Tekapo.  


New Zealand Poetry - 27th Aug 2016

Ten Modern New Zealand Poets, chosen by Harvey McQueen and Lois Cox Were you feeling a bit out of touch with New Zealand poetry yesterday?

This book contains poems from ten modern New Zealand poets - Ruth Dallas, Hone Tuwhare, Alistair Campbell, James K. Baxter, Janet Frame, Kevin Ireland, Fleur Adcock, Albert Wendt, Bill Manhire, and Sam Hunt.

Here's one from Janet Frame to keep you going until you can get your hands on a copy:


She lives in letters. She knows
the quote, the plot that suits,
the words that fit the moment
as fox gloves fit the fleeing fox
with golden brush and speckled poison
described by him and him and her. Squalid borrower
who dreams another's life, who lives
not under the sun but flat between
another's pages as the useful bookmark, the fringed

Still she waits for the surprising pool
where nothing grows, no fish have swum before,
no reed or weed has stirred - a hopeless dream
for already
    -'the sedge is withered from the lake and
      no birds sing.'


National Poetry Day - 26th Aug 2016

"Poetry is just the evidence of your life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash."
Leonard Cohen

I know it's a shame to open with a quote from a non-New Zealand poet today of all days but Leonard Cohen is one of my all time favourites.   I am sitting here surrounded by all these wonderful books of poetry and I am ashamed to admit that the only poets I can quote off by heart are not New Zealanders.  I will definitely have to make an effort.

So to celebrate National Poetry Day, here's another little quote from Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in."

And to get into the swing of National Poetry Day, why don't I, and you, read some James K Baxter or Hera Lindsay Bird or Dave Eggers or Vincent O'Sullivan or Lauris Edmond or Cilla McQueen or Brian Turner or Sam Hunt or any one of our many talented and successful poets.


Not learning Maori? - 25th Aug 2016

Yesterday we suggested a few books to help with the learning of Maori.  However, maybe you're not learning the language but nonetheless would like to know a bit more about other aspects of Maori culture or history or some other area you are specifically interested in.  We are sure to be able to help.

For example, a guide to the customs and protocols of the marae might come in handy if you are lucky enough to be going on a visit.  Maori agriculture and the cultivation of edible plants could be an interesting field to research.  Maori medicine and plant remedies is not only fascinating in itself but goes hand in hand with today's concern for protecting the natural environment and for trying cures equally efficacious but less harmful than some modern drugs. Maori clothing and textiles is yet another absorbing field and will lead you on to weaving and much more.

The traditions, superstitions, myths, legends and tales of the Maori is such a rich vein of study that any reader will be spoiled for choice.  Whether you know nothing at all, already know a little, or could be described as an expert, there will be a book to grab your interest and keep you reading and learning.

All the above and we haven't even mentioned Maori art and carving and related fields! That deserves an entry of its own another day.  Meanwhile, have a browse on line or in the shop and see what a huge choice you have.  

The (Maori) world is your oyster - as they didn't say!

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