Rapid Reviews: any excuse to read!


October in the New Zealand is supposed to be the lead up to summer. In reality it can be a return to freezing rain, wind and winter’s last ditch attempt to hold on to the country.  2018 is no different and several days of comparative penetrating cold reappear accompanied by Eugenie-wedding level winds and rain which comes in periodic heavy waves.   It’s the perfect excuse to avoid the rapidly growing grass and depart from the carefully detailed list of outside work I’ve written some months earlier.   I do try to continue my frenzied attack on my garden’s rampant growth but after being wet at least twice in an hour I decide that retreat is the appropriate action.

It’s Friday and I’ve driven in and around Tauranga to do “deliveries” – fulfilling a volunteer commitment I’ve developed for ARTbop and the enrolment form for our country school’s Te Reo Maori course for 2019.   I park in the library carpark and with the wind whipping at it I run in before the Te Wananga O Aotearoa pages are destroyed.   On my way downstairs I decide to peruse the returned books trolley – it’s an excellent trifecta! I’ve read one a day each at a sitting – two late into the night – the ultimate reader comment.

On Thursday of this week I’d had another inspirational evening in the company of Marcus Hobson the ARTbop Literary Editor.   We were of course discussing and sharing poetry.   Marcus commented that part of our enjoyment of poetry and literature generally is that when we read the words we contemporaneously create our own images of the people and places and how that is part of the satisfaction and enjoyment of reading. I totally agree and the three books below provided me with wonderful television of the mind.  

The Wrong Side of Goodbye Michael Connelly Allen & Unwin NSW Australia 2016     I like Harry Bosch.   Although he lives in Los Angeles I feel as though I know him.   I can see him and I can feel his advancing age.   It’s probably snobbery on my part but I generally prefer to read “British” written works. What I really mean is that sometimes I find the works of American authors so littered with guns, bodies and sex I find them unreal: I need to remember that most probably that is the reality of contemporary America.   But Connelly and Bosch – I enjoy reading and this time I find Bosch’s role as the genealogical detective and thread weaver in the face of corporate nastiness fascinating and believable.   You could have this book as a “pick up and put down read” but like a train journey it’s so good to take the express line and get on and read straight to the destination.   I don’t want to tell you too much about the narrative – it would spoil the story. I do want to say that Connelly weaves together recent American history, misogyny, racism, greed and justice into a read you don’t need to wait until it’s raining to start.   What I loved most about this segment of Bosch, former detective and now “private eye” is his advanced understanding of professional ethics…..he could give lessons to Supreme Court nominees.

Follow the Dead A Rhona MacLeod novel Lin Anderson Macmillan London 2017           You want to think that this is fiction but the poisoning of Russian-born residents of the United Kingdom, the alleged death of the Saudi journalist in Turkey, those bodies regularly retrieved from European waters and New Zealand’s own cases of migrant exploitation, drug importation and paedophilia really means that Anderson has the ability to have us confront the reality of our civilization.   Scotland based, this is another book you could pick up and put down but is so good you’ll just want to keep reading.   You can see and feel the cold; see and feel the breathtaking harshness of Scotland and understand how close all of Europe is geographically and linguistically – something often not understood by those of us living the voyager’s distance away.   The front cover has a quote from a Stuart MacBride “Lin Anderson is one of Scotland’s national treasures…Rhona MacLeod is a complex and compelling heroine”.   It’s only now I turn to the inside back cover and confirm that Lin Anderson is “female” – I thought this book had been written by a woman but that’s not the only reason you should read it.  

The Fourth Victim Mari Jungstedt translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally Transworld London in English 2016       The third of this “gold star read” selection.   Like the two good reads above Jungstedt is weaving contemporary social reality and experience into “entertaining” fictional reading.   It’s not possible to finish this book, which again I did as a straight through read, without breathing a final sigh of wonderment at the lottery of life and the thankfulness for your own upbringing and parents. This is a contemporary tragedy of Shakespearian proportions presented as a Scandinavian-based fictional crime-thriller.   Here also nothing is crisply defined and the good, bad and awful bleed into each other.   I was left with a sense of the overwhelming goodness of people and the viciousness and unfairness of life’s Lotto numbers.  

Don’t ignore the returns trolley in your local library – they’re being returned for a reason.   The three books above are “Gold Star Reads” – they may not win the Man Booker prize and they may not get a Nobel prize for literature. I think they should – they all bring to the “popular reader”, we the common people a palette of significant social and socio-political issues.   They make you think while they entertain. They are the Dickens and Shakespeare of our time.    

I think I’ve mentioned before that I cultivate my mature and middle-class love of contemporary décor and design (aka house porn) by bringing home the freely available copies of design and lifestyle magazines from our local libraries.   My current favourite has to be the Australian-based “Country Style”.  

Since I’ve acquired “broadband” apart from regularly watching the Dhaivat Mehta introduced “ The Young Turks” I check out a variety of home improvement and craft sites.

Current favourites are “Mr Carrington” – I almost needed medicating when this lovely young Englishman chiseled out the skirting board so the Ikea item he’d put together would sit flush against the wall.   He’s so funny and like me he’s always “acquiring” stuff and creating stuff. And if you don’t believe me about the skirting board – check out the segment about developing a home office.

I love the nasal, shrieks of “Mr Kate” – she and husband “Joey” are more commercially produced than the English gentleman but I can’t wait to see what she’s doing next.   I also love the $300. budget stuff she’s done.

I’ve recently discovered a pair of Americans “The Sorry Girls” – part of the huge diaspora of clean, organise, decorate, improve.  

I grew up in a family painted by the deprivations of WWII and heard stories of the tea chests into which clothing was stored to be reworked, cut down and knitting to be unraveled and reknitted. The sanding and oiling of Kahikatea butter boxes when we arrived in New Zealand to make our bookshelves. I have contemporaries who cannot throw away string and paper.   People who collected as important, empty jars, tins and newspapers – if as a child you spent years in a Japanese WWII internment camp this is merely sensible behaviour.

The desire to rework, reuse and recycle fundamental to current sustainable home improvement project blogs and You Tube channels is the same.   And, there is no difference between the New Zealand housewives’ creativity exhibited in the Rosemary McLeod exhibition of embroidery and fabric art and the efforts of younger people, world-wide expressing themselves through macramé wall hangings, punched tin tealight holders and self-created art.   Am I ashamed I enjoy these programmes – not at all – I’m also watching the 2016 back issues of Country Calendar!          

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts   and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as     the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

ARTbop promotes

(or we think you should check this out!)

Mad Dogs and an Englishman – Nick Eggleston Exhibition – 5 October – 24 October 2018 at the Incubator Gallery, The Historic Village, Downtown Tauranga


Mad Dogs and an Englishman - Nick Eggleston Exhibition - 5 October - 24 October 2018


When: 5 October – 24 October 2018

Where: The Incubator Creative Hub, Historic Village 17th Avenue, Tauranga, New Zealand

Nick Eggleston is fast becoming known as the tattooed dog artist. Exhibiting and selling his exceptionally detailed watercolours from Auckland to Invercargill, Nick is represented in many dealer galleries and has work in private collections throughout the world.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Nick is currently based in Tauranga after relocating to New Zealand in 2006, and is a resident artist at The Incubator Studios.

Nick graduated from the Chesterfield College of Art and Design with a distinction in Ceramics and holds a membership to The Society of Designer Craftsmen. The skills he has brought with him to New Zealand have been eagerly received by students for his hugely popular beginners to expert drawing, watercolour and ceramic classes.

Alongside a typically busy schedule of commissions and teaching Nick has teamed up with two other Incubator studio residents to open the Imprint Gallery, also located in the Historic Village. You will find him most days sitting at his desk creating his latest pair of bespoke shoes, alongside the gallery’s eclectic mix of original prints, paintings, jewellery and clothing.








This is Nick’s first major solo show in his chosen home-town of Tauranga, and will be a culmination of a year’s worth of new painting and 3D work. (originally published by Creative Bay of Plenty, Tauranga).

 ARTbop recommendation:  Eggleston’s work is beautifully executed and painterly but his subjects are contemporary, darkly whimsical and thoughtful.   When you’ve been to see his solo exhibition at the Incubator make a point of going round to Imprint Gallery – if Nick’s not in attendance at the Incubator he’s often “in charge” of this co-operative venture.  

You should also check out what’s going on at the People’s Gallery diagonally down from the Incubator

Diverse styles of stitch, fabric and fibre art



The next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair will be on the last Sunday of October (the 28th).   The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Cafe & Restaurant complex on the last Sunday of every month 11am to 3pm.  There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee.  There’s live music. There’s an event prize you can win.   If you would like to join us as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity or artisan products you can contact us at aaafair17@gmail.com1!

We are sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road.  You won’t be able to miss us! We’re indoors over winter months and outside in the Summer

ARTbop is promoting poetry in the Western Bay of Plenty




Join us every second Thursday of the month,

6.00pm to 8.30pm

Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet.   Enjoy the power of the spoken word!

Phone:   07 571 8722   021 145 5810

One of the beautiful publications of contemporary New Zealand poetry shared on October 11th at the Black Sheep by Marcus Hobson ARTbop’s Literary Editor


                the Bay of Plenty’s creative arts magazine!

              read us online anywhere, anytime!



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