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Power Play: Elon Musk, Tesla and the Bet of the Century | Regional News

Power Play: Elon Musk, Tesla and the Bet of the Century

Written by: Tim Higgins

WH Allen

Reviewed by: Ayla Akin

Elon Musk is considered a polarising character – you either love him or hate him. It is fair to say, by choosing to review Powerplay: Elon Musk, Tesla and the Bet of the Century amongst a sea of fabulous options, that I was (and maybe surprisingly for some, still am) firmly in the ‘love’ camp.

Leading any new business can be a tumultuous endeavor. However, leading a business with a concept that has never been achieved due to its complexities, along with the pressure of hundreds of millions of dollars of investor cash (as is the case with Tesla), is another type of beast entirely. Before diving into the beginnings of Tesla, Tim Higgins starts by describing Musk’s early success with PayPal and other lucrative ventures. This lays the foundation of Musk’s unique character and capacity to foresee opportunities, no matter how crazy they appear to be.

The quirky entrepreneur is described juggling the demands of running SpaceX and Tesla with anecdotes of firing staff on the spot and the kind of general impulsive behavior we have come to expect from someone like Musk. As much as I admire him, I certainly never wish to work for him. Higgins does a fine job of illustrating the frustrations and high-risk scenarios of the automotive industry. Supplier issues, new markets, logistics of customer repairs, charging stations, and maintaining control of direct sales were just a few of the challenges that the Tesla team were forced to navigate. Add to that the scrutiny of the world’s media and it’s no wonder Musk has been through numerous divorces.

Despite this, Musk’s ambitions never wavered. In fact, to the horror of his employees, Musk would routinely push the goalposts further away and demand that they hold their “feet to the fire” if success was to be achieved. Higgins describes one such example when Musk decided to increase Tesla’s annual sales target in 2015 to 55,000 cars, an alarming 74 percent jump from the year before.

Musk’s goal was simple really. Through the introduction of the world’s first pure electric car, the automotive industry would be changed forever. What could possibly go wrong?

Bonded | Regional News


Written by: Ian Austin

I.A. Books

Reviewed by: Ruth Avery

Bonded is the fourth novel in a series from Ian Austin. It’s another escapade of Dan Calder who has returned from the UK with his family to reside in sunny Auckland. The storyline is loosely based on the author’s past life as a police officer and detective. Dan has a wife in a coma and a son with health issues. He can’t cope with either so buries himself in his work and luckily has a long-suffering nanny to look after his son and visit his wife.

Another reviewer said if you like John Grisham then you’ll like this. I’ve read one John Grisham and that was enough. I think Bonded is a man’s book – not that I’m into ‘chick lit’ – but I found its level of detail about a red alert event at the airport too in-depth and I skipped over it. And quite frankly it was boring. I needed more cat and mouse, not details of how airports work during emergency situations. I did learn this: flights are in five-minute increments – for example, there’s never an 11:34am flight, it’s 11:35am and it’s the same at airports around the world. Something you never think about but it makes sense.

Anyhoo, at the front of the book there’s a page with 10 definitions of the word bond, which I found interesting as who knew the word could have so many meanings? ‘Policeofficer’ is written as one word throughout the book which is weird and my proof-reader brain didn’t like it.

After far too long a wait at the boarding gate, this book suddenly picked up and we were off flying like a robber’s dog! And now I’m engaged and want to know the ending. There was a good twist that mixed things up towards the end but the last sentence I found implausible. Bonded has a happy ending of course, a bit American for me. I’m a tough nut to crack it seems.

My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night and All the Times In Between | Regional News

My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night and All the Times In Between

Written and illustrated by Mari Andrew

Penguin Random House

Reviewed by: Jo Lucre

“You can’t heal with just anyone. There are people who haven’t yet been to the same life forest as you and don’t carry the familiar scent with them.”

In My Inner Sky there are many quotes like this that will resonate with you simply for being poignant.

Its illustrations are a little whimsical, but the beauty of them is that they soften some of the serious issues author and illustrator Mari Andrew processes and shares. Through her adventures travelling alone, becoming sick when abroad, falling in love, and the life lessons and self-awareness she gathers along the way, it feels as if you are along for the journey too as she recounts her experiences on many a different soil: France, Australia, Greece, and New York City.

Andrew writes of a life configured in such a way that it’s possible to deconstruct each moment, at any given time, effortlessly. Despite the challenge and diversions around her, there exists a solace and beauty in both the everyday occurrences and the ones that immerse her in sorrow and grief. In My Inner Sky there is a sharp sense of living and losing, battling and winning. All are worthy and discernible experiences and markers of time, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Most of all, Andrew comes out of them stronger and salved.

Andrew has the ability to see each experience at its source and accept its flaws, the uncertainties that might come with it. Her words resonate because they speak of feelings and experiences common to us all: sorrow, heartbreak, searching for the unattainable. Ultimately she shares the healing that happens when the imperfect and the things out of our control are embraced and valued as they are.

My Inner Sky is the kind of book that makes you feel happy just for owning it – it’s a book you give to someone when you want to give them rainbows, or make them feel just a little bit better.

The Narrator | Regional News

The Narrator

Written by: Jeanne Bernhardt

The Night Press

Reviewed by: Alessia Belsito-Riera

Though Jeanne Bernhardt’s short story The Narrator is based in real life, I can’t help but notice the subtle undertones of magical realism that imbue the story with a sense of both disquiet and mystery. The short story is told from the perspective of a writer living in the Southwest of the United States (perhaps Bernhardt herself), but the narrative focuses entirely on a man named Ogden: “a pale gnome-like presence, slightly hunched, soft in his manner and expression, unimposing”. Though hardly the hero one would imagine as the protagonist of any story, Ogden is a vital character to the narrator and her own development.

Though we only see Ogden through the eyes of the narrator and in reference to her, we see both Ogden and the narrator herself morph and shift as their relationship changes. The two start off as polite friends who enjoy reading each other’s writings, becoming hostile and uncomfortable as the narrator finds Ogden’s work disappointing and critiques her friend’s “profound inability to write about women”. As Ogden distances himself and leaves for a trip to Prague, the narrator becomes increasingly introspective thinking about both Ogden and herself; angry at first, then doubtful, and finally empathetic. Upon his return, something within Ogden has changed. He returns with a male friend, the narrator reads another one of his writings, and albeit awkwardly and stiltedly, the pair patch their relationship as the narrator becomes more sensitive towards Ogden.

The Narrator in my opinion is not so much about plot as it is about the relationship between the two characters and how it changes from disdain and pity, to condemnatory as the narrator dubs Ogden a coward, to finally a very tender moment in which the narrator finds respect for him and his writings despite their differences. Though The Narrator focuses on Ogden’s transformation, the narrator also undergoes a transformation of her own in parallel and in response to Ogden’s.

Witty, intriguing, and sincere, The Narrator is a character study, a gem, and a page-turner.

Beautifully Brave | Regional News

Beautifully Brave

Written by: Sarah Pendrick

Quarto US

Reviewed by: Jo Lucre

I was really trying to like this book, because fundamentally the message in Beautifully Brave is arguably one of the most important: show love and care for yourself, build your self-worth so you can stand in your own power, and don’t spend energy on things that do not serve or empower you – but it just felt a little
too much.

Author Sarah Pendrick has really put a lot of herself into this book, breaking down the act of caring for yourself into so many different facets. There’s knowing your values and living in them, which is the chapter that resonated the most. “If something is costing you your happiness, it’s too expensive. Invest in something else”, Pendrick says. There’s even a ‘homework’ section towards the end to complete so you too can become a self-care goddess. Beautifully Brave reads a little overindulgent in parts. There is so much encouragement to find and nurture self-love that it seems repetitive and more than simply just cultivating the ideal that it is okay to live in your own skin.

A dear friend once told me you need to be your own best friend, and in that moment many years ago she perfectly and unequivocally summed it up. I feel that’s all you need to know about how you should treat yourself.

Braveness comes from knowing who you are, being kind to yourself, and spending time and energy on the things that sustain you and bring some joy into your life.

Beautifully Brave is a great book if you really want to apply a hyperfocus to all that self-love means. Its underlying message is to simply show up for yourself, remember yourself in the equation, and that there is ‘self’ in everything we do, whether this is intentional or not.

Pendrick implores you to “remember that ‘just fine’ is not what you are on this planet for, you are here for the ultimate level of love and joy.”

We Run the Tides | Regional News

We Run the Tides

Written by: Vendela Vida

Atlantic Books

Reviewed by: Rosea Capper-Starr

Vendela Vida has developed a relatable and fallible character in Eulabee, a young girl stepping out of childhood and into adolescence with her best friend Maria Fabiola.

Eulabee feels a sense of belonging and ownership over her neighbourhood of Sea Cliff. “We are thirteen, almost fourteen, and these streets of Sea Cliff are ours.” She has always belonged there, roaming the hills between her home, her school, and the beach. Eulabee and Maria Fabiola count the waves as they crash on the rocks and at just the right moment, they sprint through the sand past the point to the next beach. It is dangerous but exhilarating and in these moments, they run the tides.

Vida delves into the themes of friendship and how it intertwines with personal growth. I had the impression of a cushioned, insular world expanding before these girls who stand on the brink of their lives, deciding who they will be. A minor disagreement about what the girls see on the way to school one morning turns into an enormous betrayal, and Eulabee finds herself ostracised for speaking the truth. Suddenly an outsider, she sees her closest and oldest friend in a new light.

Maria Fabiola is admired from every angle by everyone, it seems. Yet she craves more attention, manipulates, fabricates. Being cast out from Maria Fabiola’s inner circle gives Eulabee unexpected freedom – through her loneliness she befriends new people, discovers new things about herself. Eulabee connects with a boy, Keith, and they bond in a dreamy night of crashing music and synced heartbeats. Driving home from her first concert, “as we cruise smoothly and steadily through the night, it feels like we’re on a boulevard built only for us”.

Misunderstanding leads Eulabee to believe she has caused something terrible to happen, and in a strange twist of fate, Eulabee finds herself with Maria Fabiola as her only confidant, struggling to keep up with the web Maria Fabiola is weaving around them.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys astute fiction with a tender crux.

The Big Bike Trip  | Regional News

The Big Bike Trip

Written by: Freddie Gillies

Penguin Random House

Reviewed by: Ayla Akin

The Big Bike Trip is based on the true story of four kiwis who cycled from New Zealand to London: author Freddie Gillies, Arthur, Sean, and Timmy. My hatred for bikes has always been a topic of amusement amongst my friends. However, I love adventure and travel, so I was very excited to read this book!

Freddie starts off by setting the scene for the extensive mental and physical preparation that was needed and quicky delves into the adventure. For the first few chapters I found myself commenting my thoughts out loud to my husband; “It’s so frustrating they are not enjoying themselves, they are missing their partners!” Arthur and Sean leave behind their girlfriends and are devastated. Why did they not plan to meet their girlfriends somewhere on the trip? Or why didn’t their girlfriends go with them? I didn’t understand what the drama was and none of this was made clear. However, this gave the reader a deep understanding of Freddie. He showed incredible resilience and empathy. Clearly something I would lack in that situation!

By the time the boys arrive in Malaysia they are well in their stride and begin to enjoy themselves. The theme of friendship takes heart and centre as they support each other through every challenge imaginable. The most relatable of all being falling ill from something they ate. The boys seemed to be playing Russian roulette with their guts every day, dropping like flies with regular trips to the hospital. Despite their sickness and exhaustion, they managed to keep trucking along and their determination just blew my mind!

Our home lives are often automated and predictable. Travelling is one of those rare moments in life where you are forced to abandon hygiene protocols, try different foods, and put your trust in total strangers. I have been longing for that sense of freedom and adventure again, so it was incredibly satisfying to read Freddie’s beautifully written personal experience, the kind that changed something within him forever.

Sex Cult Nun | Regional News

Sex Cult Nun

Written by: Faith Jones


Reviewed by: Ruth Avery

Well what a journey! I felt exhausted but also slightly exhilarated when I finished this book. Faith Jones, the author of Sex Cult Nun, is quite a woman. At two, she was performing on stage with her siblings, at three washing the dishes for 50 people, at four being shown a sex act by her parents, and then at the tender age of seven simulating sex with a friend. Faith says you can skip the history of the Children of God cult at the start and just read her story but I found the history fascinating and wondered throughout the book where all the money came from? And how these cults begin? And who believes someone’s grandfather is a prophet?

Faithy, as she’s known in the book, tells the story of her life as a missionary tripping around the world with her large family. At its peak, The Family as it’s known, reaches 10,000 members in over 100 countries. Grandpa, who is The Prophet, doesn’t believe in birth control so the families are large and therefore there are more people like them in the world to spread the word – and not ‘Sheep’ or ‘System’ people (non-believers) like me.

Sex (they call it sharing) is prominent and the women are supposed to keep their figures trim, be attractive and submissive and available for sex from any men, married or not. Faithy endures multiple rapes, even from men she thought she trusted. So she stops trusting anyone. It’s quite hard to read. I gave up on Chapter Two: Watch Out For Snakes as the title gives the game away and this is the chapter where she gets sex education lessons from her parents. I felt sick and distressed reading it and was going to stop reading the book, but instead skipped the rest of the chapter. It got better.

I won’t give the game away so read this book to find out what she becomes after a huge amount of effort and sacrifice.

Cat World | Regional News

Cat World

Written by: Margaret Jeune

The Night Press Wellington

Reviewed by: Alessia Belsito-Riera

Cat World is an ode, a love letter to the companions that enter and accompany our lives briefly but with such joy and love. There are few that cannot relate to the poems in Margaret Jeune’s collection detailing the lives of cats alongside our own.

The free-form poems, 14 in total, are all told from Jeune’s perspective. They are simple and concise. Their simplicity however is what makes them so tender. Jeune often talks to a particular cat, recounting both the antics of the little beast (such as dropping presents in the form of dead animals on the doorstep in Murderous Hobby and Gifts), or describing her cat acquaintance’s various moods and humorous attitudes as in Storm Clouds Brewing and Sheba.

Though cats are the subject of Jeune’s poems, she also critiques people’s consumeristic attitudes towards a living creature as well as their lack of compassion. In for Gus, Gus is treated more like an object than an animal: “Consoling a rejected cat / returned after eight months in a new home / because he wasn’t smoochy enough… Here Gus is back on the shelf… Is there an owner out there / who won’t count smooches?” Similarly in Skid Row at the SPCA, Jeune depicts the cats as inmates or orphans and muses at the best characteristics to have to escape the SPCA. “Be a kitten”, she says, or “if you are a black cat / for heaven’s sake / try for a white paw or nose”. Finally, Juene adds that since “prospective owners are very particular / they come along with exact / specifications in mind”, the best way to escape Skid Row is to “ooze on the charm”. Jeune simply yet powerfully comments on humans’ often inhumane behavior.

Charming and heartwarming, Jeune pays tribute to the furry friends that have brought her comfort and company. Cat World is a wonderful read for anyone who has ever shared a part of their life with a cat.