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Archive for December, 2012

The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $33.65)
Reviewed by Steve Riley

There are those who say that New Zealand has become NZ Inc. What they mean by this is that New Zealand is being run just like a business. The government, and increasingly voters, are looking out for the best return possible.

To give just a few examples: wealthy tourists, identified by their ownership of a gold or silver frequent-flyer card with a Chinese airline, now have access to a streamlined visa process; there has been an abortive attempt to open up conservation land to mining companies; and labour laws are urgently changed by the government at the behest of film companies. Even critics of government policies get in on the act. It is not uncommon to hear the argument against, say, mining of conservation land in terms of the damage that it will do New Zealand’s ’clean, green’ image and, ultimately, the tourist dollar.
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A Grammar of Personality

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani, translated by Judith Landry
Published by The Text Publishing Company
Reviewed by C P Howe

New Finnish Grammar received the Grinzane-Cavour Prize, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Award, and comes with an impressive array of plaudits. The most prominent is featured on the cover: The Guardian’s Nicholas Lezard says, ‘I can’t remember when I read a more extraordinary novel, or when I was last so strongly tempted to use the word genius of its author.’ It is impossible to come to this book without high expectations and, for me, they were definitely met.

On the surface New Finnish Grammar has an admirable simplicity, but its strength lies in its many layers. Marani is a professional translator and there can be no doubt about his love of language. He invented Europanto, a mock European language, in which he writes newspaper columns. It comes as no surprise, then, that New Finnish Grammar is, at one level, about language. Read more »

Siren’s Song

Lullaby by Amanda Hocking (Macmillan, Dec 2012)
Reviewed by Maria Robinson (age 14)

We’ve had vampires and vampyres. We’ve had faeries and fairies. We’ve had werewolves, angels, demi-gods, mermaids, and zombies.

Now we’ve got sirens.

Amanda Hocking’s new book, Lullaby, is the second instalment in the Watersong series. Penn, Lexi, and Thea are sirens. In the prequel, Wake, the trio captured Gemma to replace Agalope, Thea’s sister-siren, who was killed.

With the help of a gold shawl and a strange liquid — blood of a siren, blood of a mortal, and blood of the ocean — Penn, Lexi, and Thea turned Gemma into a siren too.
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New Book from Deborah Levy – Black Vodka

print ISBN: 978-1-908276-16-2
ebook ISBN: 978-1-908276-17-9
Print format: PB with French flaps,
210mm x 138 mm
Pages: 125 pp
Price: Print £12
Ebook £9
Press Release: 6 December 2012

Black Vodka
Deborah Levy

From 2012 Man Booker Prize &
Waterstones Author of the Year (Specsavers National Book Awards) &
BBC International Short Story Award 2012 &
Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize 2013
shortlisted Deborah Levy

Ten stories from the author of Swimming Home, including the BBC International Short Story Award 2012 shortlisted story ‘Black Vodka’
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Village Drama with Sex and Cell-Phones

The Hidden Cottage by Erica James (Hatchette 2012)
Reviewed by Ruth Brassington


James’ earlier novels have won UK-based James Romantic Novel of the Year (Gardens of Delight, 2006) and a place on the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list (It’s the Little Things, 2009). James, who “divides her time between Cheshire and Lake Como in Italy”, has written novels set in both places, apparently striking up conversations with strangers to deliberately trawl for ideas.

More Maeve Binchy than Joanna Trollope, James is a good summer holiday read. A woman who self-confessedly finds love fickle, she nevertheless dishes it out for her readers. The Hidden Cottage is as unsustaining as a meal of candyfloss, but fun while it lasts. I suppose it’s an old-fashioned-style village romance novel, but with sex and cell-phones. Read more »