By Leigh-Ann Pow (HarperCollins) $32.99
Former Australian Vogue editor Leigh-Ann Pow has a house crammed with vintage treasures. Fashionably Worn is her stylish handbook for anyone who wants to do the same. From antique stores to op shops, furniture to fashion, she shares her advice on shopping up a storm. Some of it is obvious but there are gems here too like the cheats' guide to furniture styles through the eras, her ideas for presentation and for adapting vintage finds to suit your home and figure. This is a beautifully designed book, filled with inspiring images as well as tips on what to look out for, how to haggle and where to shop, plus lots of Pow's memories of turning trash to treasure.
The Pink Suit
By Nicole Mary Kelby (Hachette), $36.95
The Kennedy story is retold from a different angle in this new novel from US author Nicole Mary Kelby. It's the story behind the famous pink boucle suit worn by Jacqueline Kennedy on the day her husband, JFK, was assassinated. The First Lady never makes an appearance, however. Instead, the plot is centred entirely on Irish emigre seamstress Kate of Chez Ninon, the New York fashion house licensed by Coco Chanel to make the iconic suit. Kate is caught up in the glamour of the First Lady's world but only in the most superficial way. Her days are spent sewing in the backroom of Chez Ninon and her evenings in the Irish neighbourhood of Inwood, where the local butcher is wooing her. Kate cares for him but can she give up the career she loves for the hardscrabble life he is offering her? This is a gentle and unhurried piece of historical fiction, richly imagined and filled with fascinating details about the high fashion world of the era. It's a novel about dreams and reality, love and heartbreak, finely tailored for a Mother's Day read.
By Rosie Belton (Allen & Unwin), $36.99
A food memoir with recipes, Rosie Belton's warm-hearted book traces the history of
New Zealand cooking, from the 1950s when a good housewife turned out three meals a day to the present day when food has been one of the things that has kept spirits up since the Canterbury earthquakes. "When all else fails - cook," is Rosie's mantra and it's clearly one she has lived by. She shares memories of her childhood, as well as family recipes for pavlova and fruit sponge puddings. She reminisces about the excitement of finally being able to buy yoghurt in late-1960s Nelson, and real coffee, too. In adult life, she travelled and even more exotic ingredients became available back at home, so
dishes like Berber tagine and Nigerian chicken stew join in with the nostalgia. Reading this lovely book is like sharing favourite family recipes and memories with a good friend.
My Two Heavens
By Jo Crabb (Random House), $34.99
Jo Crabb and her partner Stephen used to own one of my favourite breakfast spots, Cafe Medici in Martinborough. Now, they're living their dream. They spend part of each year teaching at the La Careme cooking school based at Wairarapa's Palliser Estate and part of it in the house they have bought in southern France. My Two Heavens is the story of how they have done it, complete with recipes along the way, of course. Crabb always had a brisk, no-nonsense air about her in the cafe and this comes across in the book, whether she is giving advice on looking after knives or recalling the early days of her career working in hotel kitchens and housekeeping for wealthy families. But she is amusing and honest. Her memoir is filled with anecdotes about travel and is infused with a positive attitude towards change. This is a book for anyone who loves food, France or inspirational life stories.
Sweet Treats To Share
With its old-fashioned padded cover and pages designed to look like needlework, this is targeted firmly at the Mother's Day market. The collection of dessert recipes comes from some of New Zealand's favourite bakers and cooks, including Allyson Gofton, Alexa Johnston, Dean Brettschneider, Kim Evans and Annabelle White. The recipes have a vintage feel to them with butterfly cupcakes and lemonade scones, tea loaves and Chelsea buns, even a roly poly pudding. Ideal for inspiration for dinner party desserts as well as filling the tins, there are plenty of easy recipes as well as gluten-free options.
Clondeglass: Creating A Garden Paradise
By Dermot O'Neill (Kyle Books/New Holland), $45.95
Twelve years ago, Irish broadcaster and journalist Dermot O'Neill bought Clondeglass, a crumbling house with an overgrown Victorian walled garden. This treasure of a book is the story of how he restored and replanted it. O'Neill takes us on a tour through the different areas of his garden and through its seasons and tells us the story of the plants that now grow there. He is expert enough to make this an informative read for even the keenest gardener but his style is chatty and relaxed so those of us who dream of creating a garden but are daunted by the prospect will find plenty to encourage us and fuel the fantasy. While he was restoring Clondeglass, O'Neill discovered he had an aggressive stomach cancer. The garden became his beacon of hope and his deep love for it shines from every page.
Screw You Dolores
By Sarah-Kate Lynch (Random House), $24.99
Wit and wisdom go hand-in-hand in this non-fiction offering from best-selling Kiwi novelist Sarah-Kate Lynch. Turning 50 prompted Lynch to do two things. She declared "a year of me" and immediately set off to Paris to drink vintage Champagne and shop for shoes. She also turned her mind to the subject of happiness - what it is and how to find it. Screw You Dolores is the result. This is more of an inspiring memoir than a self-help book, covering the ups and downs of Lynch's life and the philosophies she has developed as a result. It is honest and playful, filled with funny lists and interesting quotes, and is entertaining from start to finish. She is not claiming to have the foolproof secret to happiness but Lynch definitely has some useful pointers.
My Petite Kitchen Cookbook
By Eleanor Ozich (Murdoch Books), $39.99
Eleanor Ozich started out writing a daily recipe blog, Petite Kitchen, to share her passion for the wholesome way of cooking that has given her family a new lease on life. This is her first cookbook and it's a brilliant choice for anyone who is vegetarian/vegan or has food intolerances as clearly marked options and alternatives are given. Anyone wondering what to do with superfoods like chia seeds, millet and quinoa to make them tastier will also find some great ideas. Chapters are divided into mealtimes: breakfast, light meals, mains, dessert, nibbles, drinks and basics.
There are some simple but interesting approaches with vegetables - like garlic and lemon zest peas smashed with avocado or roasted lettuce hearts with lemon zest and garlic aioli. And best of all, the sinful-looking desserts are free of processed sugar so are not so sinful after all.