Thursday, 31 May 2018

The great alone by Kristin Hannah. 

This is a story about a family trying to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Ernt is a Vietnam veteran who suffers from PTSD resulting in violent outbursts, Cora the wife who loves him and Leni the daughter dealing with it all. They move constantly and end up in a remote part of Alaska living off the land and becoming part of the community. Kristian Hannah in her usual manner makes the characters so real that you live the emotions with them. It is a book you don’t want to put down and be warned it will pull at your heart.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Art Lover  by  Andromeda Romano-Lax

I really enjoyed this novel set in Italy and Munich during 1938 and inspired by an actual historical event – the seven year looting campaign of great art objects of Europe by the Nazi’s.  The author’s style provides a satisfying, educational novel intertwining the politics of the time, believable characters and the emotional turmoil that loyalty and love create.

by Pam

Sunday, 20 May 2018

A column of fire by Ken Follett

I was worried, since this is the third in the Kingsbridge Series (Pillars of the Earth and World without End being one and two respectively) that I would be completely lost with characters’ names and even plot. I need not have feared however as this book was set in the same imaginary town of Kingsbridge, but set 200 years later in the 16th Century. Follett did an amazing job of personalising a story set at a fascinating time in English history, when Elizabeth I came to the throne and there was strong religious conflict right across Europe between Catholics and Protestants. Being a modern reader I googled Kingsbridge Cathedral and discovered that though it was imaginary, Follett had the awe inspiring Wells and Salisbury Cathedrals in mind when he wrote the book.

Ken Follet's "Century trilogy" that cover the fates of 5 families across the world through social changes and wars from 1911 till 1967. An fascinating picture of the modern world unfolding through the eyes of 5 very different families.

My not so perfect life by Sophie Kinsella

"Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed. OK, so the truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn't really hers. But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren't they? Until her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie's hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams - or try to get her job back? Does Demeter - the woman who has everything - actually have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems. And what's wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway? 
Everybody loves Sophie Kinsella."
Sophie Kinsella has many equally funny light reads. If you like this try some of her other novels.

Dunbar by Edward St Aubyn (King Lear)

The Hogarth Shakespeare series recreates Shakespeare's plays as current day novels, edgy, topical and not the Shakespeare we knew at school.
Dunbar is in trouble, his financial and personal safety under threat from his daughter Abby and Megan, From a care home in the Lake Districts he plots to escape, succeeding only to be lost in a winter wilderness and a internal mental wilderness. Can Florence, his loyal youngest daughter save him?
If you know the play you know the ending but this novel keeps you wanting to see how it works out regardless. The writing is compelling and provides insights into the human condition of old age, human frailty, family, madness, power and forgiveness.

Other books in this series
Vinegar girl : the taming of the shrew retold by Anne Tyler (The taming of the shrew)
Hag-seed : the Tempest retold by Margaret Atwood (The tempest)
The gap of time by Jeanette Winterson (Winters tale)
Shylock is my name by Howard Jacobson (The merchant of Venice)
New Boy by Tracey Chevalier (Othello)
Macbeth by Jo Nesbo (Macbeth)
Portacom city by Paul Gorman

I am a "mainlander" and this little book bought back the earthquakes in a
 positive way, and from a different  view point. When natural disaster 
strikes, how much is the public entitled to know - even when the scientists
 aren't sure? What obligations do they have to a general public thirsty
for information about what will happen next? Should they wait until they 
have all the facts before they say anything? Caught up in the ongoing 
earthquakes, Christchurch newspaper journalist Paul Gorman struggled to
make sense of what the scientists were telling him. Was there more? 
Were worried  residents receiving the full picture? In this BWB Text 
Gorman describes his troubled ongoing dealings with government
scientists and the extraordinary challenges that confront reporters at times of crisis.

Inky theOctopus  Words by Erin Guendelsberger
We all read the newspaper articles about Inky's great escape from the Napier Aquarium, now we have the picture book based on Inky's great adventure.

Inky escaped from the Napier Aquarium in 2016, making his way out of his tank when the lid was left slightly ajar.  Inky is believed to have made his way to a drain that led to the sea.  A wonderful rhyming story, with great illustrations.  Bound to be a favourite with all ages.  After reading the story, you can read about other octopuses’ adventures and some very informative facts about octopuses that are interesting to the kids, but fascinating for adults too.  This is an endearing story made all the more interesting due to knowing it actually happened.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Lifting by Damien Wilkins

Intriguing and compelling.

The closing of a long-term Wellington department store — family-run then bought and sold several times — is the backdrop for this novel. Wilkins' portrayal of store employees negotiating their way out of the mess is one we can probably all identify with, whether it's personally having lost a job in a similar restructure or just knowing someone who has. The stress of the imminent closure, and the choices 'head office' makes are familiar themes these days.

The story is told through its main character, Amy, a new mother and store detective who has a dodgy past. Throughout are questions, discussions, and clarifications with a couple of police detectives, who are interviewing Amy about 'what happened at Cutty's'.

Wilkins doesn't use chapter breaks, only white space, to break the narrative, so the pace is fast and the story-within-story is fascinating as the reader tries to guess why Amy is being interviewed — but not as a suspect.

Lifting has a whole parade of characters, from questionable front doormen to the grand old dame who's the last of the Cutty family, but try not to race to the end to find out 'why' — the end of an era often comes too quickly anyway.

by Jen

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

I am I am I am : seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O'Farrell

A biography  told through "brushes with death" in the authors life. From childhood to current day, told through chapter heading labeled as parts of the body. A novel and enthralling way to tell your life story. Maggie O'Farrell's writing style uses words so brilliantly to convey fear, loss, happiness, love and creates such a personal story anyone could relate can to this memoir of a life. An absolute delight to read and re-read.

Also by Maggie Farrell
After you'd gone
The vanishing act of Esme Lennox
The hand that first held mine
Instructions for a heatwave
This must be the place
Saga : volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan, Artist Fiona Staples

Fantastic. Highly recommend
Graphic novel  Saga series, 7 in the series so far.

A family saga just like a soap opera but set in a fantasy world. One set of protagonist have horns, one wings; the outcast offspring has both. The characters are great, it's well written and the drawings are fantastic. the situations that the characters find themselves in this highly different war are exciting and challenging.

The Parihaka Woman by Witi Ihimaera.

Deftly interweaving past and present, fact and fiction, this is  a romantic adventure story set in an historical context. It details the life of a strong female character, Erenora, finding her way in the turbulent times of the 1870's and 1880's. 

It is the story of hardship and strength, ingenuity and courage. It is a compelling read with its dual narration and its Maori language content couched in the Taranaki dialect.

 Three things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

There are three things you should know about Elsie.The first thing is that she's my best friend.The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.And the third thing... might take a little bit more explaining. 84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago? From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Five go parenting by Vincent Bruno ; Enid Blyton

Imagine the Famous Five all grown up and getting into adult scrapes. Read this series Enid Blyton for grownups.
In this one George Anne Dick Julian and Timothy get to raise their baby niece, let the fun commence.
Read all the series, quick to read, lots of lovely satire and a chance to chuckle out loud.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The little book of Hygge : Danish secrets to happy living by Meik Wiking

Meik Wiking the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute Copenhagen has written a practical easy to  read, use and enjoy guide to "Hoo-ga", wellbeing, mindfullness, whatever you call it; our necessity to find and enjoy contentment in our lives. You may already do many of the the things in this book, but put them altogether and easy way to remember and implement ways of relaxing, feeling at ease and enjoying work and time at home.
I really like the inclusion of candles, see mum you were wrong the house doesn't burn down and you feel better.
Dear Oliver by Peter Wells

When writer and historian Peter Wells found a cache of family letters amongst his elderly mother's effects, he realised that he had the means of retracing the history of a not-untypical family swept out to New Zealand during the great nineteenth-century human diaspora from Britain.His family experienced the war against Te Kooti, the Boer War, the Napier earthquake of 1931 and the Depression. They rose from servant status to thecomforts of the middle class. There was army desertion, suicide, adultery, AIDS, secrets and lies. There was also success, prosperity and social status.In digging deep into their stories, examining letters from the past and writing a letter to the future, Peter Wells constructs a novel and striking way to view the history of Pakeha New Zealanders.

When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithis’s book allows us to share his life from his choice to become a doctor, specialist, and sadly a patient. The prose is beautifully crafted describing how he became a caring empathetic specialist; to the rigors of medical school, residency and reflections as a patient. An amazing book that makes you realize the complexity and morality of medicine and dealing with death. A book that celebrates life and death.
A book to savor, read, re-read and pass onto others to read.

The history of bees by Maja Lunde

This novel lingers in your mind long after you finish it, one that you would read and re-read.

This dazzling and ambitious first novel follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving the stories of their relationship to the bees--and to their children and one another--against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis. England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who wants to build a new beehive--one that will give both him and his children honor and fame. United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao's young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out to find out what happened to him. Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.

Sunburn by Laura Lipman

A Mistress of suspense, who is brilliant at twists and unexpected turns in a story that keeps you guessing till the end.
Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck, two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals--and cold-blooded murder. One is playing a long game. But which one? 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The only story by Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes writes about the human condition  as we live and breathe it.The beauty, humor, power and pain of love is beautifully portrayed in this story. Paul's first love is Susan, an all absorbing, nonjudgmental, totally trusting, self-centered love as only a 19 year old can believe in. Susan is 48 with a past that Paul believes "love" can ease and create anew lives. A novel that reveals our idealistic illusions about love, the fragility of relationships and commitment. A novel that reveals as much by what is written for us to know and the unsaid truths.
Every note played by Lisa Genova

In Lisa Genova's exploration of how LSA (think Stephen Hawking) affects Richard - a world renowned concert pianist, his family and caregivers, Lisa has created a poignant personal story of loss and life. This story , far more than her other novels tells of the mental, physical affects on all the characters. Richard the main character, Karina his ex-wife, daughter Grace and caregiver Bill are all real people coping with an overwhelming situation. Based on accounts from accounts from LSA sufferers, it like her other novels tells in a story the progress of a disease.

I found this novel over heavy in the medical details and skimpier on the the necessary background family/relationship plot lines that flesh out a story. I did enjoy it but feel shortchanged on the possible character development, that would have made it more real.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

The temptation of forgiveness by Donna Leon

Signora Croera concerned that her son may be using drugs talks to Inspectore Brunetti; who in his own way investigates the problem of drugs being sold at school. Things become more complex when her husband is injured in a fall. Brunetti has been unoffically alerted to an internal leak in the department. In her gentle meandering way Donna Leon reveals Venitian society, life, morality and drugs in Veince. As always not an ending you would expect and no simple solutions. So nice to catch up with my favourite characters Signora Elletra, Claudia Griffoni, Vianetta, and Brunetti .

by Eliz

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The happiest refugee : the extraordinary true story of a boy's journey from starvation at sea to becoming one of Australia's best-loved comedians by Ahn Do

Australian comedian Ahn Do brings us this heart-warming story of his life. Barely escaping Vietnam as a child, Ahn and his family settle in Australia. Ahn's father starts a business only to lose everything thru one bad purchase of chicken feed. When Ahn's father up and leaves the family, Ahn's mum takes over the financial burden of raising the family - and the many relatives that appear at her door. Its a funny, sad and heartwarming tale of endurance and family love.
By Vicki.

A Kim Jong-Il Production: TheExtraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Film maker, His Star Actress and aYoung Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer.

This book chronicles the hardships, excesses, corruption and atrocities that took place in North Korea under the present incumbent’s grandfather and father. After reading this, I decided Kim Jong-Un did not have much chance of turning out normal.
As the subtitle indicates, it tells the true story of a South Korean filmmaker and an actress who are kidnapped to satisfy movie-obsessed Kim Jong-Il’s compulsion to make propaganda movies.
I found this book, at times scary, at times harrowing but mostly a fascinating glimpse inside this extraordinary dynasty.

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