BAM Books Art and Music reviews

       For the books, art and music we love at Hedleys.



David Hedley - Thursday, May 28, 2015

Farewell Kabul :From Afghanistan to a More Dangerous Place  by award-winning journalist Christina Lamb, is the gripping account of how the West's politicians forgot the experiences of the past in this troubled region, the root of the War on Terror, when pursuing their goals.

This has lead to the longest war fought by the US in its history and by Britain since the Hundred Years War!

 I read William Dalrymple's Return of the King The Battle for Afghanistan some years ago ,also a gripping account of this region.

I highly recommend this new book which whilst detailed is immensely readable

Really it is the definitive book on Afghanistan,

A must read for history buffs and every "world leader" should read both of these books.

Do not be confused over the book's title - Christina Lamb has changed the title several time in the writing- so it appears in different guises - a bit like the Taliban really.

David Hedley

The Mighty Totara: The Life and Times of Norman Kirk by David Grant

David Hedley - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Grant’s biography of Kirk's brief, frenetic life. From a working class background in South Canterbury, and without a formal secondary education, Kirk progressed through a variety of jobs into politics, eventually becoming Prime Minister. He was the driving force behind many ground-breaking initiatives - withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, opposition to French nuclear testing; introduction of the DPB; improving trade with Asia and South America as Britain entered the Common Market, while dealing with the global oil shocks and ensuing financial crisis. For anyone who grew up in the baby-boomer era, this is a roadmap of this period in New Zealand's history. Compelling read, thoroughly researched

Singing Home the Whale by Mandy Hager - YA eco thriller

David Hedley - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Clever and very well written, this is the story of Will, a troubled Wellington teen with a talent for singing opera, and an orhaned baby Orca called Min, separated from his pod after his mother is killed by illegal whalers. Each chapter alternates between Will's and the Orca's story.
Most of the story follows their interaction with locals in a small rural town in Marlborough Sounds, largely centred around salmon farming. Antagonism between Will, some of the townspeople, and particularly the salmon farm's owner Bruce, and concludes in a gripping finale as Will, his cousin Pania and Bruce's son Hunter decide to reunite the orca with its pod. Strong characterisations, highly original, a good read for secondary-age readers (some language and adult themes, with relevant violence thrown into the mix)

Some of Hedleys recommendations this week

David Hedley - Thursday, April 30, 2015


The Little Paris Bookshop

Nina George

Great novel


Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

Atul Gawande

Thought provoking


The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins

Psychological thriller


Recipes from the Underground Kitchen

Jess Daniell

Local author great meals


Roly, the ANZAC Donkey

Glyn Harper



Stroppy Old Women: 52 Kiwi Women, Who've Been Around Long Enough to Know, Tell You What's Wrong with the World

Paul Little Books



H is for Hawk

Helen Macdonald




Desert War: The Battle of Sidi Rezegh

Peter Cox




A Place Called Winter

Patrick Gale




The Buried Giant

Kazuo Ishiguro




To Hell with Poverty

Rodney Laredo

The Caxton Press



All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr

Fourth Estate



Stuff I Forgot to Tell My Daughter

Michele A'Court




That Sugar Book

Damon Gameau




A Spool of Blue Thread

Anne Tyler

Chatto & Windus



One Summer in Venice

Nicky Pellegrino




Blood on Snow

Jo Nesbo

Harvill Secker



Anzac Day - The New Zealand Story: What it is and Why it Matters

Philippa Werry

New Holland



Hard Country: A Golden Bay Life

Robin Robilliard

Random House



The Fixer a blokes book

David Hedley - Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Fixer by New Zealander John Daniell is a story about greed and honour set amidst the world of professional rugby in Europe.

It is a damm fine read. It captures superbly the life of professional rugby players and the temptations and challenges that surround the game both in terms of money and of the flesh.

It is fiction but is well researched - the author clearly knows the game - played rugby for the NZ Colts and for Oxford University.

It is a pretty light read but has a good suspense. I think we will hear more from this author who also has links to the Wairarapa.

4 star

Great new book

David Hedley - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Red Notice : How I Became Putin's No.1 Enemy written by  Bill Browder a US financier is the best non fiction book I have read this year. It is a searing expose of the corruption of Russia's authorities which reads like a thriller.

Putin remains in the news even when he is out of circulation for weeks on end.

However as this shows he never sleeps and no one is safe.

Anyone interested in world affairs,finance and politics will enjoy this.

5 star rating!


order here


David Hedley - Friday, November 28, 2014


New Books November

David Hedley - Monday, November 24, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

New novel from the author of "Away”, begins with Eve, a young girl, being abandoned by her mother on the doorstep of her remarried father's house. There she meets her older half-sister for the first time, and the plot follows their intertwined lives into adulthood, via Hollywood, New York, London and Germany, around WW2. Memorable characters, swept along by unfolding events, this is a grand tour of the best and worst of the era, all wrapped up within 240 pages. Bloom's crisp narrative leaves you wishing there was more.


The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

A story told by three characters in a fictional concentration camp in Nazi occupied Poland: one the camp commandant, one a go-between advisor and nephew of Martin Borman, and one a prisoner. This whirling dervish of a book employs a mixture of black humour, descriptions of shocking depravity and incompetence at the highest levels. At its centre is the story of a clandestine affair between the wife of the commandant and his advisor, and the unravelling of her marriage as her husband descends into alcohol-fuelled insanity. Not for the faint-hearted, but fans of Amis’writing will enjoy.


Outstanding Read

David Hedley - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Forgiven, by Lawrence Osborne

An arguing British couple run down a young fossil seller at night on their way to a party weekend retreat in the Moroccan desert. Over the next few days the consequences of this tragedy unfold as two significantly different cultures clash headlong. A stunning second novel from a major American talent. Steve

September newsletter

David Hedley - Friday, September 26, 2014
New releases just arrived

Plenty More
Plenty More by Ottolenghi 
The ultimate vegetarian cooking book

Hard Country A Golden Bay Life
A Hard Country A Golden Bay Life by Robin Robilliard
The inspiring and entertaining story of a determined woman and an isolated farming life in Golden Bay.

Great fiction
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Children Act by Ian McEwen
A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

Hedley’s  Book Reviews
Looking for your next great read? Here’s what the staff at Hedley’s have read and loved recently…

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami 

This latest from the prize-winning Japanese author sold a million copies in Japan alone on the first week of release. It continues Murakami's themes of alienation, dreams and parallel worlds, this time the past and present. Main protagonist and loner Tazaki is abrupty cut-off without explanation by his four closest student friends and years later seeks to find the truth. Beautifully written and less dense and fantastical than 1Q84 which preceded it. Steve

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker 

Described as "Twin Peaks meets Atonement meets In Cold Blood", this was a European best-seller and has been the subject of much debate. The twisting storyline concerns a well respected writer, Harry Quebert, whose debut was a best-seller, and his young student protege Marcus Goldman. Quebert falls for Nola Kellargan, aged 15, whose body is found in his garden 33 years after she vanished. Quebert is arrested and Goldman tries to solve the puzzle and write a best-seller. A clever page-turner with a couple of major surprises at the conclusion. Steve 

Romany and Tom by Ben Watt

I hadn’t come across Ben Watt before. But he sure can write. One half of alternative pop music’s “everything but the girl” he has written a moving and tender account of his parents Romany and Tommy, acutely observed from his adult point of view, childhood recollections, his journalist mother’s treasure box of clippings and letters. He captures beautifully the journey of growing old and growing up. Jenny

 Heartland by Jenny Pattrick

An entertaining and moving story set in small north island rural town with a terrific array of eccentric characters. A perfect holiday read, lives up to her previous works. Julie.

 Play it Again by Alan Rusbridger

Globe-trotting Guardian editor and amateur pianist tackles the eye-watering 10 minute Chopin Ballade No 1, a work many professionals avoid (features discussions about the piece with Daniel Barenboim, Murray Perahia and Alfred Brendel). An insight into the demands of learning a new task, set against the unfolding WikiLeaks saga, News of the World phone hacking scandal, and the Libyan civil war. With only 12 months to prepare for the recital in France, how does he get up to speed? For anyone interested in classical piano, and the 24/7 demands of the global media business.  Stimulating. Doug 

That Part Was True by Deborah Mckinlay

A gorgeous escapist read about food, friendship and falling in love from afar. The ‘Listener’ raved about this novel, bringing it to our attention. For those who love Joanna Trollope, or the Rosie Project. And the there is The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simson's new book - just arrived in store. Jenny

Tenderness by Sarah Quigley

A brilliant short story collection based around the themes of love and passion, written in a direct, engaging style, which cleverly avoids mawkish sentimentality. Ranging from the novella-length ‘The Marriage Mender’ and ‘Palace Garden’, to much shorter efforts, filled with rich imagery. Author of ‘The Conductor’, Sarah is a NZ writer based in Berlin. Doug 

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe By Romain Puertolas

Jonas Jonasson put a sense of absurdity (and tongue-twisting book titles) back into popular fiction with The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared. Many readers were relieved all Swedes were not bloodthirsty psycho-killers after all. Frenchman Puertolas has taken the absurd a tad further with his hilarious tale of an Indian fakir's unexpected journey through the capitals of Europe, although he never gets time to enjoy the sights as he is pursued by an irate Parisian gypsy taxi driver hell-bent on revenge. The fakir also finds love with a lonely, chic Parisian plus friendship with a fellow African stowaway. Despite the relentless farcical elements, the author, a one-time border official, touches on the perils of immigration and human traffiking in poignant ways. A great light read with a serious message. Steve

 Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

I hadn't read "the king of southern gothic" before so can't compare this with Iles' previous novels but quickly was drawn in to the violent world and racism of early 1960s Mississippi in a page-turning thriller set in the author's place of residence, Natchez. Former prosecuting attorney Penn Cage returns, but this time as mayor of Natchez. His beloved father, a well-respected doctor, is accused of murdering his former nurse. In a search for the truth, Penn must choose between his father or official justice, against a backdrop of a KKK extreme splinter group, crooked public officials and a couple of very famous political assassinations. The bad guys drip evil and the rather inconclusive ending has disappointed some readers but this is only the first of a planned trilogy. A searing yarn. Steve       

 Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes

Hitler wakes on a plot of waste ground in 21st century Berlin, unable to recall anything of the past 60-odd years. Completely unchanged, he expects the rest of the world to fall  immediately into step, but the world has moved on, and his unfiltered rant is mistaken for a clever comedy tribute act. Finding himself elevated  into TV and YouTube stardom, and a lucrative book deal, his hubris gradually mellows. The humour comes from Hitler’s skewed assimilation into, and his misreading of the new order. Vermes’ style is laconic, definitely un-PC, but not entirely unfamiliar given our social media-driven new order. Doug

 All available instore or on line at




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