Norton, Graham (2014) The life and loves of a He Devil. Hodder & Stoughton. Graham Norton’s memoir is inspired by love, premised by “it is really the things you love that inspire and drive you”. Although his approach is largely eclectic he shares his love of his career, dogs, the divas he has met, booze and boys, and his homeland Ireland. Often mischievous, with tart observations and sharp remarks, nonetheless his story is amusing, honest and insightful for those who enjoy his banter and guests on Friday night television. Entertaining and chatty. Rating: 7.5/10.
Moyes, JoJo (2014) The One plus One. M.Joseph. Jess and her chaotic family live on a brutal housing estate, on the edge of poverty. Their future is uncertain. When handsome software innovator Ed Nicholls enters their life with an offer of a ride to Aberdeen so Tanzie can enter a Maths Olympiad, life takes a new turn. A warm and unexpected love story. Rating: 8.5/10.
Rowell, Rainbow (2014) Landline. St Martins Press. Comedy writer Georgie McCool’s marriage is in trouble. Two days before she is due to go to Omaha for a family Christmas with husband, Neal, and their two daughters, she cancels to take on a chance of a lifetime. Neal goes without her and slowly Georgie begins to fall apart. She discovers a way to communicate in the past that gives her the opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. Self indulgent drama that not only challenges credibility, but also the sanity of her decision-making. Lacks the delicious charm of Eleanor & Park. Silly and disappointing. Rating: 6.5/10.
Lepore, Jill (2014) The secret history of Wonder Woman. Knopf. Wonder Women, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, was created in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston. Lepore’s extensive research has revealed a intriguing story not only of Marston himself but of his impact on the struggle for woman’s rights – a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the feminist revolution of the 60s and 70s. Lenore puts Wonder Woman squarely in the story of women’s rights in America by combining biography with a new cultural history of feminism. Compelling and provocative. Rating: 8.5/10.
Brown, Al (2014) Depot: the biography of restaurant (with recipes). Random House. Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar celebrates New Zealand’s culinary traditions. Taking the humble retro bach (beach house) as his inspiration Al Brown has achieved iconic status for his Auckland restaurant. Together with his restaurant philosophy and behind the scenes introductions, he has included recipe favourites from the Depot menu. Beautiful production, great recipes. Rating: 8.5/10.
Hawkins, Paula (2015) The Girl on the Train. Doubleday. On the commuter train each day, when the train stops at the same signal, Rachel peers into a row of back gardens and begins to fantastise about the lives of the residents. She feels that she knows “Jess and Jason” a seemingly perfect couple, that is until one day she sees something disturbing. As the story unfolds Rachel dissolves into a series of alcohol-fueled benders realising that she may have witnessed a serious crime but can’t recall the specifics. Unconventional psychological thriller that has catapulted to the top of the bestseller charts. Rating: 8.5/10.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (2014) We should all be feminists. Fourth Estate. This slight volume was first presented as a TedTalk in 2012. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay is her personal view on what feminism means today. It is a definition of feminism for the twenty-first century drawn from her own experiences and understanding of sexual politics. An eloquent rallying cry on why we should all be feminists. Rating: 9/10.
Mosse, Kate (2014) The Taxidermist’s Daughter. Orion. Connie Gifford is standing alone in the village churchyard on the night the ghosts walk, when a murder happens close at hand. While the village braces itself against rising waters Connie is struggling with lost memories, all the while trying to keep up with the remnants of a taxidermy business and care for her drunken father. Her lost memories are clouded by an horrific incident in her past. This gothic psychological thriller, set in the Sussex marshes in 1912, is a dark tale of violence and vengeance. There is a lot of detail about taxidermy, although this macabre element is incidental to the plot. Not for me. Rating: 7/10.