Category archive: Books and Reviews

Max’s Dogs – Every dog has its day

On the complex subject of a dog’s hearing, it is safe to say that dogs can hear with approximately ten times more efficiency than a human.

By one estimate dogs can locate the source of a sound in 0.6 seconds of a second. Their ears have many sensory nerves – which is a good reason not to blow playfully into them. Gentle as the blowing may be, and even though you can scarcely hear it, the level of amplification inside the ear is enough to cause distress in a dog. A dog has whiskers on its muzzle, under its jaw and over its eyes. Known as vibrissae, they are sensitive to changes in ‘air dynamics’.

Superstitions – Baldness

In spite of extensive advertising claims to the contrary, most men afflicted by baldness find the condition irreversible. An American superstition claims that baldness can be delayed by cutting the existing hair very short then singeing the cut ends. Another superstition claims that when a man starts to go bald, he can slow the process by stuffing cyclamen leaves up his nose.  And sprinkling parsley seeds on the head three times a year is also believed to help.

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Green and gold vines amid gently tanned hills…

If I had my way on this autumn day, I’d be standing with my back to the sea, near Seddon in Marlborough, amidst grape vines with their lime green and gold lines. And I’d be looking out over gentle tanned hills, up to a great hunk of a mountain streaked with snow.

Instead, I’ve got to make do with the cover of a book.

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When Ajax visits town

The recent morning book launch of Ajax the Kea Dog was crowded out, so a second session followed for fans to meet this celebrity dog and his young Department of Conservation mate.

Sam Neill narrated the BBC documentary featuring Ajax and Corey Mosen in 2016.

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Shattered….

‘Christel is at shattering point’ the back-cover blurb says of Kirsten Warner’s The Sound of Breaking Glass. Shattering.

But I’m still feeling shattered.  And I’m already three days out from finishing the novel.

There’s a lot going on in this book.

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Not the Swinging Sixties

In the big picture New Zealand prospered in the 1960s. Materialism boomed, the economy flourished, brand-new houses dotted the suburbs and pop music and miniskirts and thumbing noses at conventions, gave spice to the day.

But on the edge of the lupins and the sand hills east of Christchurch, Cheryl Nicol’s childhood memory of 60s life, was one of make-do. In her memoir, A Parallel Universe, as the title suggests, a different world existed.  Life was hard. The picture, is grim.

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The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

When this wacky titled book, turned up – some new age novel I thought.

Not so. This is a true story about the jihadist takeover of the real Timbuktu and the remarkable story of one man’s finding, collecting and then saving hundreds of thousands of priceless manuscripts in Timbuktu.

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“I will do thy bidding gently…”

Richard Wagner was  devoted to his King Charles spaniel named Peps, who  actually participated  in his master’s composing.

Wagner’s biographer H.T. Finck records that Peps constantly sat near Wagner when the composer was at the piano. Sometimes Peps would leap on to the table and peer into Wagner’s face, howling piteously.

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