We cross live to Unity Books in Wellington for the launch of The Burned Letter (HR Press,$45), a memoir by former Wellington deputy mayor Helene Ritchie, whose family perished in the Holocaust. The guy at far left loves the book so much he's holding it tight, like a rugby ball.


1 Pet by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

2 Rings on Water by Madeleine Eskedahl (Matheson Bay Press, $36.99)

New crime thriller set in Matakana from an author who grew up on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea; she writes about this strange, godforsaken rock in ReadingRoom next week.

3 The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)

4 Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $38)

5 Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts by Josie Shapiro (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

6 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $39.99)

7 The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer (Hachette, $37.99)

8 Tangi by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $30)

9 P.S. Come to Italy by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $36.99)

The author shared a winter warmer recipe on Wednesday which unfortunately features cabbage. Cabbage!

10 Double Jeopardy by Stef Harris (Quentin Wilson Publishing, $37.50)

A free copy of the new crime thriller by a serving officer in the New Zealand police force is up for grabs in this week’s book giveaway. Stef Harris is a frontline cop in Motueka. He lives with his wife, retired police officer Pegeen O’Rourke-Harris. His novel is set in Boston and tells the story of a former detective whose daughter’s killer is released from prison. The theme, then, is parole; and it’s also the subject of the giveaway.

To enter, share a story about parole, maybe from experience, maybe more of an insight. It might be a good story about redemption. It might be a more media-friendly story about a scumbag given release who then caused fresh suffering. It might be something else entirely. Email it to stephen11@xtra.co.nz with the subject line in screaming caps I WANT TO READ THIS CRIME NOVEL ABOUT A PAROLED KILLLER; entries close on Sunday, July 9, at midnight.


1 Head On by Carl Hayman & Dylan Cleaver (HarperCollins, $39.99)

A free copy of Cleaver’s book, a bestselling story of the former All Black with early onset dementia, was up for grabs in last week’s book giveaway. Readers were asked to share a story about dementia. Every single entry was heartbreaking and every single entry deserved to win.

Jeffrey Holman wrote, “My encounter with dementia may be just beginning; pushing 76, my verbal memory (pulling up names of people, places and things etc) is right now a fading glory. You can be introduced to me and five minutes later, you’re gone. Who are you? When I ask and apologise, all age groups say, ‘Oh don’t worry, I forget names too.’ Not like this, I want to say.

“And then there’s forgetting why you walked into a room. It happens all the time. I don’t even have to be stressed.

“Yes, I fear worse is to come, I’ve seen it. Grandparents in the past – now I’m one, heading to a being a great – were my teachers. Repeating stories I’d heard over and over. Now that’s me.

“No complaints, I’ve had a rich life. I would just like to give this book to my rugby-mad grandson, Sam, as he leaves for Italy in a few weeks, to play professionally in Turin. Love that young man. So full of life, and muscles that draw my breath when he gives me a bear hug each time we meet. No inhibitions. A French-Kiwi, calls me ‘Poppé’.

“I recently bought him the Billy Bush rugby bio, and he loved it. I met Billy once, 1990s student holiday job, in a record store. He was a delivery driver, big brawny Māori man, great head of hear, monosyllabic, boom, gone. My boss said, ‘That was Bill Bush!’

“Now he drives buses, including for the All Blacks. What a man.”

Kerry Aitken wrote, “I’m a 62 year old woman. For 30 years my husband and I have enjoyed celebrating a mid winter Christmas as a general get together with 4 other couples from different part of the north island. This year it was In Whangarei and we were prewarned one of the wives, has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

It didn’t worry me connecting as I’m a Nurse and Counsellor and have been for over 40 years. It bothered other couplers however, they didn’t want to go, they didn’t know how to engage and found it extremely difficult.

“The husband caring for his wife however was desperate for adult company. He is doing an amazing job caring for his wife but told me it’s like looking after a 3 year old and feels like a life sentence. I admired him for his honesty, he’s lost the woman he’s had for 35 years, she’s now Incontinent but he continues to care for her, so my shout out is to the carers of those loved ones with dementia, that’s where the suffering is.”

Leeann Morton  wrote, “My Dad had dementia. He played rugby, a lot of it. He played for Southland in the 1950s and when he went into the police, he played for the New Zealand combined services team, well into his 30s. He developed dementia in his 60s, which tragically meant the end of his 46 year old marriage to our beloved mum after he uncharacteristically embarked on an affair.

“I am a nurse and I recently looked after another lovely man with dementia in a local hospital. I found out he had played rugby in his youth and he was originally from Southland so I asked him if he knew my Dad. This man, who couldn’t remember what he was meant to do from one minute to the next , immediately replied ‘Strut Morton’, using Dad’s nickname from his early days. ‘He was a very good player!’ I was amazed the memories from so long ago were so vivid for him, while his present life was a such a confusing fog. He too had played rugby for years.

“I hadn’t really thought about the possible link between rugby, concussion and dementia until I heard of Carl’s story. I would love to read this book – it may provide some valuable clues as to why Dad’s devastating dementia took hold.”

A copy of Head On by Carl Hayman & Dylan Cleaver is hers.

2 This is ADHD by Chanelle Moriah (Allen & Unwin, $32.99)

3 Whakawhetai: Gratitude by Hira Nathan (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

4 Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

5 Wawata – Moon Dreaming by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

6 Second Chances by Hayley Holt (HarperCollins, $39.99)

7 There’s a Cure for This by Emma Espiner (Penguin Random House, $35)

8 Matariki: The Star of the Year by Rangi Mātāmua (Huia Publishers, $35)

Every year since it was first published in 2017, the author’s book roars back into the bestseller charts. Based on research and interviews with Māori experts, it explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense so it can be understood and celebrated in contemporary society.

9 Winter Warmers by Philippa Cameron (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)

Includes a recipe for beef and beer casserole with beer dumplings.


¼ cup flour

Salt and pepper

1kg stewing beef

2 knobs of butter

2 onions, finely chopped

1–2 large cloves garlic, crushed

1½ cups beer

1 Tbsp golden syrup or treacle

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Marmite


2 cups self-raising flour

½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as fresh parsley, thyme or rosemary

25g butter, melted (optional)

1 cup beer


1. Put the flour and a good grind each of salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the beef into chunks and toss in the flour mixture. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C fan bake. Heat a knob of butter in a Dutch oven or cast-iron pan. Saute the onions and garlic, removing them before they brown. Add another knob of butter to the dish and, in two batches, sear the beef until browned. Remove from the heat.

3. Return all of the beef, onion and garlic to the dish. Pour in the beer and use a flat wooden spoon or spatula to scrape all the goodness off the bottom of the dish. Stir in the golden syrup or treacle, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and Marmite. Cover with a lid. Cook in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every now and then.

4. To make the dumplings, place the self-raising flour and herbs in a small bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and beer. Use a dough whisk to combine into a soft dough.

5. After 1 hour, remove the dish from the oven and place spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture around the top of the casserole. Cover with the lid for a soft dumpling, or leave it off for a crunchier dumpling. Return to the oven for 20 minutes, then serve.

6. Alternatively, just drink the fucken beer.

10 Straight Up by Ruby Tui (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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