Something To Hide
By Deborah Moggach (Chatto & Windus)
You know you're in safe hands with Deborah Moggach. She's the writer who penned These Foolish Things, which was made into hit movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and she has demonstrated pith, wit and an ability to tell a good story about fallible and often lovable characters. Her latest novel is about secrets and a group of people living in different parts of the world who are pulled together by the things they have to hide. Petra is living in London, in her 60s and longing to find love after a lifetime of unsatisfying relationships. She starts a passionate affair with Jeremy, the husband of her oldest friend Bev, who lives in West Africa. Meanwhile Lorrie in Texas has been scammed out of her family's life savings and has turned to surrogacy in a bid to replace what's been lost. And in Shanghai, Li Jing longs to have a baby with her distant but wealthy husband and fears it will never happen. The way these lives connect is fairly complicated yet Moggach seems to pull together the strands of her story effortlessly. Petra is the real star of the show and her nightmarishly humorous trip to Africa is its highlight. A pacey and wise novel with plenty of surprises.
The Good Life On Te Muna Road
By Deborah Coddington (Penguin Random House)
It's billed as a memoir but journalist and former MP Deborah Coddington's book is more about other people than herself. It's the portrait of a small town, Martinborough in Wairarapa. This picturesque wine village has been Coddington's home during two eras of her life. The first when she was a young mum and living bohemian-style in a grand old house - an existence that sounds glamorous but seems to have involved a lot of dirty dishes. That stint ended badly but now she is back, and living in a little utopia on a rural back road where she and her new partner, lawyer Colin Carruthers, have built a home and vineyard. Skating over the details of her own, undoubtedly fascinating history, Coddington writes of the people who make Martinborough tick - Scotty the butcher with his famously misspelled blackboard, laconic wine luminary Richard Riddiford and the women who are the backbone of church fetes and community functions. She details some of the area's history as well as its natural beauty. If you've never visited Martinborough, reading this book will make you want to change that.
The Larousse Book Of Bread
By Eric Kayser (Phaidon)
You'll never want to buy another supermarket sliced loaf after looking through this collection of more than 80 recipes from French baker Eric Kayser. This bible for bread-makers has details on ingredients, equipment, kneading techniques and fermentation as well as shaping tips and troubleshooting. Many of the recipes come with step-by-step shots and they range from the classic boule to nourishing mixed seed bread, sourdoughs, gluten-free options, a divine-looking pumpernickel loaf, buns, sweet and oil-enriched beads and more. There's some unusual stuff here - green tea and olive loaf - and some of the shapes are quite fancy. But if you've ever dreamed of making your own croissant or gourmet delights, like fougasse with ash goat cheese, this book will equip you with all the knowledge you need.
After the Crash
By Michel Bussi (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
A publishing phenomenon in France, selling 700,000 copies, this intriguing mystery marks Bussi's first novel to be translated into English. In 1998, a private eye prepares to kill himself, having failed in an 18-year quest to identify a baby discovered amid a plane wreck in the Alps. Two families - one rich, one poor - claimed the child, leading to a prolonged battle in the courts and media. A last-gasp secret is discovered, only for the private eye to die. Bussi mixes narratives as we follow the baby girl's maybe-brother, who reads the investigator's diary while trying to discover the truth. After the Crash is a page-turner that also poses interesting questions about what makes someone who they are, how we highlight then forget tragedies, and how a twist of fate creates all sorts of ripples.
• Review by Craig Sisterson who blogs about crime fiction at kiwicrime.blogspot.co.nz
By EL James (Arrow)
Grey is the latest instalment in the inexplicably mega-popular Fifty Shades Of Grey franchise, and retells the original book, this time from the perspective of Christian Grey. The fans were apparently clamouring for this novel but that doesn't stop it from feeling like a particularly lazy way to continue to milk the brand. Sadly, the book has almost no redeeming features, the characters are unlikeable and cartoonish and the writing is repetitive and bland. Yes, the reader gets insight into the mind of Christian Grey but this reader wondered why we needed it. Grey spends a lot of time telling us he's a dark and troubled person but the "shocking" formative moment that James presumably intended to explain his temperament turns out to be laughably formulaic.
• Review by Ngaire Atmore Pattison, who blogs about books at bookiemonster.co.nz
A Week Without Tuesday
By Angelica Banks (Allen & Unwin)
In A Week Without Tuesday, famous writers are disappearing - as well as the most famous writer of all's daughter, Tuesday McGillycuddy. It seems the worlds the writers have created on the page have come to life and they're now colliding. Tuesday must save the day, while navigating the different worlds in search of clues with her trusty dog. Angelica Banks is the writing duo of Heather Rose and Danielle Wood. A Week Without Tuesday is the second in their Tuesday McGillycuddy series. If you have a budding writer as a child - who is also a good reader (the book is just shy of 400 pages) - they will like the literary references, the bookish adventures and the library setting. Ages 10-plus.
• Review by journalist and author Danielle Wright.
Nicky's best read
You have until July 31 to vote for the children's choice award in the New Zealand Book Awards For Children And Young Adults. Booksellers NZ has created a blog tour that includes interviews and reviews plus a link to the voting form.
Graeme Lay is a New Zealand writer whose most recent book is James Cook's Lost World (HarperCollins), the final part of a fictional trilogy.
The book I love most is ... The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Unforgettable characters and settings.
The book I'm reading right now is ... The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn. A masterful, moving memoir.
The book I want to read next is ... The sequel to Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel.
My favourite bookshop is ... Unity Books, High St, Auckland. Wonderful staff and stock.
The book that changed me is ... Frank Sargeson's collected short stories, especially An Affair Of The Heart.
The book I wish I'd never read is ... Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. A repulsive novel.