January Holiday Reading

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January hasn't quite been the chilled out month it usually is. Our new Labrador puppy Abby's exuberant jumping up, chewing, licking and chasing around has been disturbing our peace. Nothing is sacred: towels, shoes, underwear, soft toys, food scraps or anything else we inadvertently leave lying within her reach.

She's been a great source of entertainment for our grandkids who adore her despite her playful puppy bites. It certainly beats trawling around shopping malls or amusement parks with them.

I managed to squeeze in a few books to review in between retrieving all the objects from between her teeth which she managed to find around the house.


Wool by Hugh Howey was a fascinating read. This epic story of life, love and survival started its life on the internet as a self-published sci-fi E-Book. When its popularity soared it caught the eye of well-known publisher, Random House, and a print copy was negotiated

The story is told in Wool of how a massive catastrophe destroyed most of the world's population. Two hundred years later a small group of survivors eke out a harsh existence in a huge subterranean multi levelled silo. This protects them from the still poisonous air outside.

They are governed by a small and secretive authoritarian clique. Any person who shows any inquisitiveness about what really happened in the distant past or challenges their authority in any way is sent outside to die a horrible death in the toxic fumes.

But human nature being what it is the desire to ferret out the truth and to create a more open and just society continues to drive a few individuals to rebel. As each of these main characters in turn is caught and disposed of some-one else follows in their footsteps. Over time this causes the tension between the authorities and the people to escalate to a dangerous level.

Confined in the silo passions run deep: love, jealousy, hatred and envy. But the brevity of their lives means that we only gain a brief look into the main characters. The exception is Juliette who stays around longer than most. A clever mechanic and a hard worker with a great sense of loyalty to her workmates she is briefly catapulted into a leadership role. This gives her access to information that is fraught with danger. I found Wool a gripping tale. Scary, yes, but not as dark as The Hunger Games.

Wool by Hugh Howey Paperback Imprint Century Price $29.99

Exploring Aotearoa (Short Walks to reveal the Maori Landscape)

While Wool deals with an imagined future Exploring Aotearoa unravels our historical past. A fascination with pas from an early age led Peter Janssen to explore the rich tapestry of our Maori Landscape. He aims to get us out and about.

"Having personally discovered this history by exploring the landscape, I didn't want to write another book that was to be read quietly sitting in a chair, but a book that would act as a catalyst for those wanting to learn more. To really understand the past we have to get out and experience it first hand-and this book is a book that I trust will help people to do exactly that"

So he has linked each story to a particular place which can be reached on foot. Most of the walks are easy and don't require tramping boots, just trainers with a good tread. He has graded them all from (easy/medium/difficult), shown the time they will take and explains exactly how to get there.

We are looking forward to following in some of his footsteps later in the year and stand on shores that were once inhabited by taniwaha, walk through bush in which fairies (patupaiarehe) once roamed, and visit pas where great battles and heart-wrenching love story took place.

But right now Abby the puppy can only be left for a few hours so we will plan some small adventures to go on with our grand kids and share a few of these stories with them as we explore Takurunga /Mt Victoria, Te Kauri Pa /Kauri Point Centennial Park, Maungawhau/Mt Eden and some of the other Auckland walks which are close to home.

Exploring Aotearoa (Short Walks to Reveal the Maori Landscape) By Peter Janssen. Publisher New Holland. Price $34.99

Emergency Family First Aid

A whole lot of playful little puppy bites in the first few weeks sent me scurrying to Emergency Family First Aid to see what needed to be done. It was fine to treat these tiny puppy bites (which mostly didn't puncture the skin) with a thorough washing and cleaning and dressing them with a dab of antiseptic ointment.

Bigger dog bites would have required medical attention and a tetanus shot if the victim had not recently had one.

Emergency Family First Aid is a really useful quick reference on First Aid to have at home. It covers how to cope with the many accidents and emergencies (both small and large) that can occur inside or outdoors as well as the best way to prevent them and how to keep safe.

It's a very easy to read and comprehensive .It pays to be prepared for any mishaps so would recommend.

The Emergency Family First Aid Book. By David Ross and Rod Baker Publisher New Holland.. Price $34.99.