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Book reviews: May 2020

3 min read

Pick of the month

The Joy of Water
Lonely Planet
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

While travel restrictions in place around the globe means we cannot cross borders, there is no stopping anyone from taking an armchair dive into some of the world’s most far-flung corners in the search for sublime, serene, and calming aquatic experiences.

From wild swims off Britain’s most remote beach and coral reef-fuelled snorkelling trips in idyllic Mozambique, to sumptuous soaks in Iceland’s geothermally-heated pools and chill-out time with non-stinging jellyfish in Palau’s magical hidden lake, no corner is left unexplored in Lonely Planet’s recent publication.

The book is a photographic dreamscape showcasing the world’s best places for joyful interactions and include New Zealand’s own Abel Tasman National Park with crescent-shaped bays, bottle-green waters, and dolphin encounters.

You will find all the practical details you need to enjoy in more than 60 relaxing locations around the world. The gorgeous views captured in these pages are enough to tempt travellers to float away into a world of sublime aquatic experiences, most of them immune to time and trends.

And while I only flipped through the digital copy and was wowed by the ample beauty our planet has for those who venture into the deep, I am sure to find a place for the hardcover book on my bookshelf and maybe even a ticket to experience at least one of these magnificent locations.

Vehicles and Ocean for Kiwi Babies
Matthew and Fraser Williamson
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

This one’s for the little learners. These beautiful, brightly illustrated board books introduce children to vehicles and sea creatures of New Zealand in English and Māori.

From building sites to airports, on the roads and out to seas, from the beaches and rocky coastline to under the waves around Aotearoa New Zealand, vibrant pictures introduce young readers to the variety of creatures and vehicles found in the country.

The books are simple and eye-catching, with essential words spelled out in both English and Māori. A great set to introduce kids to books.

The world that we knew
Alice Hoffman
Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by Claire Smith

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her 12-year-old daughter Lea away to save her from the Nazi regime. Hanni finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it is his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea.

Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked. Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses and a school in a mountaintop village where 3000 Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she is destined to be.

Before the coffee gets cold
Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Macmillan Publishers
Reviewed by Claire Smith

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than 100 years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time. In the book, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

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