31 March, 2014

Slow Train to Switzerland: one tour, two trips, 150 years - and a world of change apart by Diccon Bewes [Surani, Waitakere Central]


To start off with I need to thank my Swiss friend who recommended this book to me!

This book is truly unique in the sense that the author retraces the three-week trip of a young traveller from the 1800's using the same mode of transport: the train. Although Diccon Bewes was able to travel with a little more ease than his 1863 counterpart, Miss Jemima Morell, he followed her itinerary as best as he could. Using an old diary of Miss Jemima's that was thought lost, Bewes travels in the footsteps of that infamous first Conducted Tour of Switzerland by Thomas Cook and discovers how much has changed over 150 years in this amazing country.

Slow Train to Switzerland isn't just your average travelogue describing the journey from London to Lucerne. Bewes has crafted a startling account detailing the early days of tourism, when going abroad meant 18-hour days of travelling and wearing the same clothes for weeks. Especially for women who had a multitude of layers to preserve their dignity while climbing over mountains!

It was amazing to find out that it was this particular tourist venture by Thomas Cook that opened up tourism for the masses and helped transform Switzerland from one of the poorest nations in Europe to one of the wealthiest countries on earth. Diccon Bewes has also included excerpts from Miss Jemima's diary and other guide books giving a very detailed perspective on one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

This book is an exceptional read for all those who wish to learn more about Switzerland.

Title: Slow Train to Switzerland: one tour, two trips, 150 years - and a world of change apart
Author: Diccon Bewes
ISBN: 9781857886092
Published: 2013
Publisher: London: Nicholas Brealey Pub.

27 March, 2014

Dreamers of the day by Mary Doria Russell [Ann - East Coast Bays Library]


 
This book was a serendipitous find while browsing the fiction shelves - chosen because the cover appealed to me.

The book's blurb reads: “Still reeling from the Great War and the Great Influenza of 1919, 40-year-old schoolteacher Agnes Shanklin has inherited just enough money to allow her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and the Holy Land. There she meets T. E. Lawrence and Karl Weilbacher, the charming German spy who has shadowed Lawrence since his days as an archaeologist at Carchemich before the war.” 

The summary does not do justice to this beautifully written story. The author brings shapers of the modern Middle East vividly to life as Agnes finds herself falling in love while she and her little dog experience the mad bustle that is Cairo in the 1920s.


The author has skilfully turned great figures of history, including Winston Churchill, into real people (who knew T.E Lawrence was short? Peter O’Toole was tall!) with real human frailties and personalities. They are seen sometimes with humour, through the eyes of an ordinary woman finding herself in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time in modern history. I couldn’t put it down.

- Ann, East Coast Bays Library

Title: Dreamers of the day
Author: Mary Doria Russell
ISBN: 9781400064717 (Random House hbk.) 9780385614542 (trade) 0385614543(trade) 
Published: 2008 
Publisher: London: Doubleday

26 March, 2014

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty [Judy, Orewa Library]

Apple Tree Yard is a new psychological thriller and it grabbed me on page one. Yvonne Carmichael is a 52-year-old highly renowned geneticist who is in a stable marriage. One day in London, she is approached by an attractive man and begins a reckless affair. It's a baffling decision, but I thought it was believable - people do crazy things! She gets quite carried away in the excitement and she could never have imagined the terrible outcome of her choices.

Part of the appeal of the story to me, was how interesting it was when the author described the Old Bailey, and what goes on behind the scenes for the defendant in a criminal trial held there.

Louise Doughty has written five novels and a non-fiction book. This is the first I have read, and I loved it and will be trying more.

Title: Apple Tree Yard
Author: Louise Doughty
ISBN: 9780571278633
Published: 2013
Publisher: Faber and Faber, London

- Judy, Orewa Library

24 March, 2014

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton [Ella, Central Library]

You may be surprised to come across a book with such a long-winded and prosaic title as Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry in our fiction collection. This fairly clunky title barely hints at the bittersweet – and yes, fictional – love story it contains between its pages.

The book is laid out in the style of an auction catalogue, made up of photographs and detailed descriptions of objects owned by the fictional lovers Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris. It is as if these items have been painstakingly collected and catalogued, perhaps by the lovers themselves or some obsessive archivist.

The catalogued items however, are often such seemingly worthless items as shopping lists, notes scribbled on scraps of paper, and old clothing. Not what one would normally consider to be “important artifacts” worthy of the auction house.

At times reading this book made me feel as if I was snooping through somebody's private things, encroaching on intimate moments not meant to be shared. The couple's private emails, their love letters, their literal dirty laundry are all on show. At other times it felt like I was at a really good garage sale, sorting through old junk, for hidden gems. Lenore’s hat collection alone would be well worth a trip to the auction house.

Visually the book is fascinating. Among other things Shapton is an illustrator and an art director for the New York Times and this book is worth a look, if only for its visual flair. However it is also so much more than that. Through these seemingly arbitrary objects, an intimate picture of a relationship emerges, full of the quirks and oddities of life, making this a real and affecting story.

Title: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry 
Author: Leanne Shapton
Published: 2009
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374175306

Paris to the Past; travelling through French history by Train by Ina Caro [Elizabeth, Highland Park Library]

Image for Paris to the Past : Traveling Through French History by TrainThis interesting, informative and enjoyable book is perfect for anyone planning a holiday in France and Paris in particular, for armchair travellers and for history buffs.

For several years Ina Caro and her husband have spent a month each year travelling in France, with a particular focus on history. This book recounts a holiday in which most of their expeditions were day trips from Paris, or in Paris, and all using trains to reach their destinations. The chronology of their trips is historical and the chapter headings will give you a good idea of their content: The Middle Ages: Cathedrals and Fortresses; The Renaissance: Cities and Castles; The Age of Louis X1V: Seventeenth Century France; The Coming of The French Revolution: Paris in the Eighteenth Century; The Empire and Restoration: The Bourgeois Century.


The dust jacket information states that Ina Caro "is an authority on medieval and modern French history" and she certainly writes about it with an ease and a light touch that make reading this book a pleasure. Her commentaries on each destination include information on key personalities, historical events, architecture and what train to take and the chronological arrangement illustrates the progress of history and architecture.

My only criticism is that there is no table of French rulers to refer to when you are trying to memorise the sequence of Philippes, Louis' and Henrys (the author uses the English spelling). Auckland Libraries has an earlier travel book by Ina Caro, Road from the Past; Travelling through the History of France by Train, which covers destinations from Provence to Paris in a similar chronological order.

Title: Paris to the Past: Travelling through French History by Train
Author: Ina Caro
ISBN: 9780393078947 (hardcover)
Publication date: 2011
Publisher: W.W. Norton

- Elizabeth, Highland Park Library

22 March, 2014

In My Shoes: a memoir by Tamara Mellon [Rochelle, Howick Library]


I have to give Tamara Mellon’s book In my shoes 5 out of 5 in the rating scale.

I have never read such a fascinating story that is written in such a way that is fun and easy to read. In my shoes chronicles her roller-coaster life – from dealing with a difficult childhood, struggling with addiction to finally becoming the savvy and hugely successful businesswoman she is today.

The book offers a fascinating insight into her time running Jimmy Choo, turning the little-known name brand into a very popular household name. Admittedly she was not the name behind Jimmy Choo but her's was the face that you can say “launched a thousand Jimmy Choo shoes”.

This book is highly recommended. It is a fascinating read and I guarantee you will not be able to put it down.

Title: In my shoes: a memoir
Author: Tamara Mellon
Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin
ISBN: 9780670923632 (hbk.)
Publication date: 2013

20 March, 2014

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp [Suzy, Panmure Library]

You know this kid at school. The one that anonymously drops jokes in assembly, talks to everybody, always has a cheeky smile in the corner of his mouth that lets him get away with being late to class. He is at every party, and usually right in the middle of the action.

Sutter Keely is this kid. It is senior year of high school and Sutter Keely is woken up - having passed out drunk on the front lawn in a random neighbourhood - by Aimee, living in the background of life. Aimee sees there is more to him than his whisky-sipping, promiscuous party boy facade. Together they help one another battle with their fears of rejection, of confidence and of the future.
This story is well written, with rich dialogue and intriguing character development. Right from the first sentence, Sutter’s voice is in your head. Tim Tharp knows how teens talk and has given each individual a real voice. Despite feeling frustrated with Sutter as a person - being a little bit "fortified" and driving is wrong, no two ways about it - it was hard to put his story down. 
The Spectacular Now had great pace and substance, which is why I imagine it was made into a movie last year. With the same writers of 500 Days of Summer, a favourite movie of mine, I can’t wait to see it.

Title: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
ISBN: 9781407146454
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008

They draw and cook: 107 recipes illustrated by artists from around the world by Nate Padavick & Sally Swindell [Danielle, Youth Service Development]

Food is made gloriously colourful, emotional and personal in this collection of illustrated recipes from the blog of the same name.

The range of artists guarantee a wonderful variety of artistic styles; from the pretty and floral to the cartoon-like and quirky; hyper-stylised to naturalistic. Some could be foodie outtakes from Adventure Time; others look like children's book illustrations, web-comic panels or Art Nouveau-inspired poster art.

Equally as eclectic are the approaches to conveying the information a recipe might typically contain. Some recipes have measurements, some don't. Some are specific enough to allow for faithfully following directions; with others, that's not the point, and the entire recipe is... open to interpretation. One of the things I love about this collection is the way that it firmly positions cooking in the context of living a full life. There's so much more going on than just the cooking - hangovers, budgets, music, funerals, vicarious travel, angst about the state of the world, being part of a family or a community.

This is also a book that lends itself well to involving the whole family in the kitchen. The fluid, creative approach to cooking may entice those who are less confident in the face of regular cookbooks, and my kids loved the idea of using art and illustration to make recipes into a special artifact for the whole family to treasure, personal commentary and all.


Author: Nate Padavick & Salli Swindell
Publisher: Weldon Owen
ISBN: 9781616281380 (hbk.)
Publication date: 2011

An Indescribable Beauty: Letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand 1859 & 1862 [Nick, Central City Library]

The Swedish ship Equator made first sight of New Zealand off the Taranaki coast in the year 1859. On board was an adventurous and intelligent young German immigrant, Freidrich Krull, full of dreams of a new life, and excited by the prospects of a rapidly growing colony. Freidrich's letters home to his mother are published here in An Indescribable Beauty: Letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand 1859 & 1862.

Friedrich writes: "On the morning of January the 15th we saw land, the snow-capped Mount Egmont, and towards sunset this mountain and a large part of the country appeared in their whole glory. The next morning we had no wind and remained anchored only five miles from land. From this distance we could observe the beautiful coast before us. The mountain rose in many terraces to its summit and offered under its hood of gleaming snow a wonderful sight."

Krull describes his travels around Wellington and its surrounding hinterland, venturing into the interior, “the isolated and uncivilised places”, where he crosses the Rimutakas into the Wairarapa district, and then up the west coast from Paekakariki to Waikane and Otaki. "Before us was the sea, smooth as a mirror and of heavenly blue. Out of its depth rose the island of Kapiti, her mountains glowing like fire under the rays of the setting sun. And still further away, on the far horizon, we saw the high mountains of the south island covered with snow."

Krull gives detailed accounts of settler life, the social events he attends, the flora and fauna, and the traditional Maori culture he embraces. He meets prominent Maori chiefs Matene Te Whiwhi and Tamihana Te Rauparaha, founders of the Maori king movement. “Very soon the friendliest relations were established between the Maori and ourselves: any amount of nose rubbing took place, we presented them with pipes and tobacco, strolled through their plantations, shooed away the thieving parrots, inspected their cattle, and rode their horses. Full of curiosity the children followed us everywhere. All this was so unusual I felt as if I had been transported into fairyland."

Krull also attends the election of the Maori king Te Wherowhero, and is a guest at his inaugural
celebrations. “When I looked around at all the wild, dark faces I did feel far from home: it was a peculiar experience to take a meal in this extraordinary company.”

Krull’s descriptive letters form a fascinating historical account of colonial New Zealand, penned with sensitivity and lyricism, and bursting with the palpable wonder of a young man enraptured by his new exotic home, Krull is a joy to read, and provides a tantalising and vivid glimpse of young New Zealand.

Title: An Indescribable Beauty: Letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand 1859 & 1862
Author: Freidrich Krull
Publisher: Wellington, N.Z. : Awa Press
Date: 2012
ISBN: 9781877551338

Meeting the English by Kate Clanchy [Biddy, Highland Park]

Meeting the English is the first novel of award-winning poet, Kate Clanchy. Set in a stifling London summer in the 1980's, it explores the experiences and relationships of Struan Robertson and the extended family he comes to live with. Struan is a gauche, gifted but socially awkward young Scotsman persuaded by his ex-English teacher to spend a gap year in London caring for a 60-something playwright, Philip Prys, who has been incapacitated by a stroke.

Struan finds it difficult to assimilate with the dysfunctional Prys family and is bemused by the way they live. In time, however, he moves from his position of outsider and overcomes the challenges of the differences of the members of the Prys family to learn to know these "English" people. Few, if any, are truly English. Philip and his colourful second wife, Myfanwy, are Welsh, his current wife, Shirin, is an Iranian refugee and the apparently "frightfully" English literary agent, Giles, confesses to being a Dutch-born Jewish refugee.

Clanchy's characters are full and multi-layered. Despite exploring deep issues throughout, the book is witty and maintains the frothy feel of a light, summer read.

Author: Kate Clanchy
Publisher: London, Picador
Date: 2013
ISBN: 9780330535274

17 March, 2014

The seven daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes [Stanley, Collections South]


In the beginning there was Mitochondrial Eve, the mother of all modern humans. This is the story of her children. Seven women that lived from 15-45,000 years ago, which all people of European descent can be traced back to (I might have simplified things lots, but you get the picture). 

In this book, world-renowned geneticist Bryan Sykes gives us a fascinating glimpse back at our human origins, and the mystery of DNA. Some of you may be hooked, and read every paragraph until the end.  Others, like me, will scan some of the areas just to get to the main thesis more quickly. The earlier sections deal with the first incarnations of the theory, and even feature things such as gossip and in-fighting among the genetics community! There is also a New Zealand connection in here, with a chapter discussing DNA, Polynesian settlement and migration patterns.

The last chapters verge into a kind of creative non-fiction. Here Sykes looks in depth at the seven women (who are given names such as Tara and Xenia), offering a loose portrayal of human advancement through their lives, based partly on historical and archaeological records.

These well-presented revelations on genetics are recommended for fans of science, archaeology and human pre-history.


Author: Brian Sykes
Publisher: Corgi Books
ISBN: 9780552152181
Publication date: 2002

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid [Emma, Birkenhead Library]

By the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (a book and DVD I previously enjoyed), here's a self-help book within a novel from a great writer. Perhaps you wouldn't want to follow all his how-to instructions. But I think you will enjoy thinking about trying.

How to get not just rich, but filthy rich. It begins with a sick child lying on a dirt floor.  You might wonder that this boy will ever even survive, but read on.  The first chapter begins with the advice "Move to the city".  Then... "Get an education"....and so on chapter by chapter. Getting gradually a little more outlandish and, dare I say it, flaky... but who can afford to take themselves too seriously in that kind of cut-throat environment anyway? Along the way the obstacles and setbacks become more unpredictable and it is clear that getting filthy rich is not the end destination by any account.

Mohsin Hamid writes in a very personal way, as though he's actually talking to you. This could be annoying, but every time he escapes annoying-ness with a surprising way of unfolding of events and ideas. Never cutesy, and never sensationalist. Real people are not cut from a pattern and the unpredictability was what kept me reading and one reason why I would totally recommend this book.

Title: How to get filthy rich in rising Asia
Author: Moshin Hamid
Publisher: New York, Riverhead Books, 2013
ISBN: 9781594487293

10 March, 2014

The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson [Christina, Takapuna]


Allan escapes from his birthday party at the rest home where he lives.  

At first I thought that he was just a contrary old codger avoiding a tedious and teetotal event. He pinches a stranger's suitcase at the bus station just because that stranger was rude to him, then he travels on, making his plans as he goes.  

This was the pattern of Allan's whole life. He fell into becoming an explosives expert and shared his knowledge with anyone friendly to him, willing to share a drink or a meal. He retains a profound disinterest in politics even as he helps Chinese Nationalists and Communists and American Presidents. While on the run from the rest home, he has more adventures.  

He is a man to whom things happen!  


Author: Jonas Jonasson
ISBN: 9781843913726
Published: 2012
Publisher: Hesperus

09 March, 2014

The Machine of Death. edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo & David Malki [Sue W, Central Library]

syndetics-lc
I have to be in the mood for short stories. I'm not really sure how to define this "mood" - I just have to be in a head space where I know to expect and relish something condensed and crafted in an entirely different way to a novel.

Machine of Death crossed my path during the course of a work day and its premise was immediately captivating. Imagine if you had the ability to know how you would meet your demise but had no clues as to when or if the foretold death is somewhat ambitious; no chance to get clarity on what exactly it might mean.

This book is a collection of various writers responding to this hypothetical situation and imaging how it would affect the life you then lived. Would you find out if you had the opportunity or would you avoid it, not wanting to live in fear of what might bring about your downfall? And what if the nature of your death causes you shame and embarrassment? Are there clubs of the "cool" kids whose foretold deaths seem exotic and more exciting than something as bland as "natural causes" or choking on food?

Machine of Death contains wickedly funny snapshots of human nature and its attendant foibles.


Title: Machine of Death
Author: ed. Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo & David Malki
ISBN: 0982167121
Published: 2010
Publisher: Bearstache Books

08 March, 2014

Secrets of stylists by Sasha Charnin Morrison [Ina, Mt Albert Library]

Ahh the glory of red carpet frocks... girl fantasies made of glitter and glam. A lot of young women nowadays dream of getting into the fashion business by becoming a stylist - the person behind the gorgeous outfits. But what does it really take to be in this profession? Is it as fun and prestigious as it is made out to be?

If you want a real look at this "job behind the scenes", this is your book.

Of course it includes all the anecdotes that make this job interesting, but there is so much more. Morrison doesn't hold back with the gritty sides of the profession and gives readers a realistic tour of the world of styling. There are interviews with other stylists, helpful pictures explaining her notes and mountains of tips and tricks to win in the struggle against chaos (which could undoubtedly happen if you don't know what you're doing). She structures the book logically, from how to get there, what it takes, the ins and outs of the job, up to a stylist's influences and finding and defining personal styles.

I found the book very insightful and finished it with a clear idea of what the job entails. I gained a new respect for the people doing this job, as there is no space for "ditzy" time-wasters and if you want to succeed, you better be prepared to work hard. For any reader who is into fashion and styling at all, you will find it really interesting, even if you never intend to become a stylist. And it can't hurt to know the insider tricks either - you never know when your own fashion emergency could show up...


Title: Secrets of stylists: an insider's guide to styling the stars 
Author: Sasha Charnin Morrison
ISBN: 9780811874656
Published: 2012
Publisher: Chronicle books

07 March, 2014

How Far is Heaven (DVD) [Suneeta, Highland Park Library]


“Past the world, past the earth, right up there, keep going, keep going, keep going, all the way up there…”

This is 14-year-old D.J.’s hypothesis of heaven’s distance from the earth, in the charming New Zealand film by Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith set in the idyllic village of Jerusalam Hiruharama on the river Whanganui. 

An observational documentary, it centres around the Sisters of Compassion congregation that was founded here in 1892 and which is represented by just three remaining sisters today. These nuns are not missionaries; they simply live and work alongside the community, and through their compassion have a gentle yet profound effect on its people. A special focus is on the newest “recruit” sister Margaret Mary, a volunteer teacher at the local school and on a selection of children. 

Smith and Pryor lived a year in the community to make the film and they have portrayed with grace and subtlety the unique relationship between two traditions, one of them Maori and the other Christian, that have blended to enrich the whole - a world of the Taniwha and of nativity plays. Also very easy on the eye for the natural beauty of the surroundings, this doco offers a  unique slice of life in a very special place.

I recommend it to all of us who live in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Title: How Far is Heaven (DVD) 
Directors: Christopher Pryor & Miriam Smith
Producer: Miriam Smith
Year: 2013
Distributed by: Deer Heart Films



















































































































06 March, 2014

The Scent of Scandal: Greed, betrayal, and the world's most beautiful orchid by Craig Pittman (Juliet, Mangere East Library)



 syndetics-lc 
This book first captured my interest due to a rather large and innocent-looking orchid flower on the cover and a juicy title to match.
Environmental journalist Craig Pittman gives us a detailed account of the 'Phragmipedium kovachii' orchid smuggling scandal that left one of Florida's most renowned botanical gardens at the brink of financial and professional ruin, orchid collectors and breeders divided, careers destroyed and the US accused of protecting and endorsing trading of endangered species from Peru.

In 2002 when a new previously unidentified orchid sourced from Peru turned up at The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota ready for identification and classification, its very possession would spark events that went down in history as one of the botanical scandals of the century.

From long-haired, jungle-traipsing fanatics living off the grid, prepared to go to extreme lengths, to find their treasures; to CEOs who should have known better, feigning innocence and attempting to distance themselves at all costs to what was going down, this scandal drew in people from all walks of life.

I found this book gripping, with all the intensity of a detective novel, exposing the key players, their motives and their contributions to the crime. Orchid-breeding enthusiasts prepared to challenge at state level their right to possess orchids and lobby for law changes.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it as a very good read. Its mix of victims, villains and scandal in the glasshouse make this book worthy of a good look.


Author: The Scent of Scandal
Author: Craig Pittman
Published : 2012
Publisher: University Press of Florida
ISBN: 9780813039749

The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore [Doris, Whangaparaoa Library]


I have read and enjoyed Rachel Hore’s previous novels and this one does not disappoint. It is well written and very interesting. 

Like her previous books, The silent tide combines the past and the present. Both characters - Emily, who lives in the present day, and Isabel, whose story takes place during the 1940-50s - have careers in publishing. The link between them is Hugh Morton, a best-selling author of the 1950s. 

Their story becomes entangled when Emily begins working with an author who is writing a biography of Hugh Morton. Isabel meets and falls in love with Hugh Morton in the 1940s, then an aspiring young writer. Both women have relationships with authors that do not work out as expected. The book also provides an insight into how difficult it was for young women who tried to establish careers in publishing.


Author: Rachel Hore
Title: The Silent Tide 
Publisher: London : Simon & Schuster 
Publication year: 2013

05 March, 2014

Everything I need to know I learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow [Annie, Helensville Library]


Did your bookshelves twinkle with golden-foiled spines? Do they still? Do you have fond memories of the Tawny Scrawny Lion, the Saggy Baggy Elephant, the Poky Little Puppy? 

Personally, I loved the Color Kittens, Sailor Dog and I can fly (I would love to be able to track down the very Medieval version of Sleeping Beauty I had as a child – hunt for it now, and you only get the Disney version). 


Anyway, this is gloriously cute adult advice book, based upon lessons from Little Golden Books through the years, with suitable illustrations, of course. 

Get it out. Read it through. Reminisce. And take some of the advice on board - you never know, it might make things easier. And it sure will make things more fun.

~ Anne, Helensville Library

Title: Everything I need to know I learned from a Little Golden Book
Author: Diane Muldrow
ISBN: 9780307977618
Published: 2013
Publisher: Golden Books

04 March, 2014

He's gone by Deb Caletti [Kathy, Birkenhead Library]


There's a new name for novels that feature the dark side of marriage - 'twisted marriage thrillers'. Gone Girl was one of the early ones and He's Gone is in a similar vein.

One morning Dani wakes up on the houseboat that she shares with her second husband Ian to find he's not there. The night before they'd been at his work function and argued after Dani drank too much, so she thinks he is punishing her and figures he'll be back when he's calmed down. But he doesn't come back and Dani is left wondering if he has decided to leave, or if something more sinister has happened to him. Her memories of the night aren't all that clear and she starts to examine their relationship for any clues and begins to doubt herself.

Little by little things are revealed about how they got together and the state of their marriage. It's not a fast-moving story, but it keeps you involved as you (along with Dani) try and work out when Ian has gone.

All I'll say is: things aren't always as they seem!

Title: He's Gone
Author: Deb Caletti
ISBN:  9780345534354
Published: 2013
Publisher: Bantam Books

Also available as an Overdrive e-book.


03 March, 2014

I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb [Surani, Waitakere Central]


"I came from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday."

In just two sentences, Malala Yousafzai was able to send shivers down my spine and hook me in. Her story that follows is a tale of courage, determination and inspiration.

Malala lived in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan with her family and led a very happy life there attending school, fighting with her brother and growing up to be a smart young girl. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, very few people spoke out. Among them was 11-year-old Malala. She fought for her right to education and was unwilling to be silenced. In 2012, Malala almost paid the ultimate price for her fight for education when she was shot in the head while on her way home from school. The second half of this book recounts Malala's amazing recovery with the help of both Pakistani and British doctors.

Malala's journey through her young life extends from her home in Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York! She was only 16 when she addressed the leaders of the world and since then has become a global symbol of peaceful protest. In recognition of her courage and advocacy, Malala was the winner of the Pakistani National Youth Prize in 2011.

Told in her own unique voice, Malala's story of courage and determination had me inspired by all Malala has achieved. What struck a chord with me personally was her fathers' intense love for a daughter in a society that prizes sons. 

I urge everyone to read this book and join Malala in her mission. Let's help young girls like her find their voices and create a better tomorow!

Title: I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban
Author: Malala Yousafzai; with Christina Lamb
ISBN: 9780316322409
Published: 2013
Publisher: New York: Little, Brown and Co.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling [Rhiannon, Waiheke Library]

I finally got around to checking out The Cuckoo's Calling recently, and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised!

Like all good crime writers, J.K. Rowling had me suspecting everyone, and not realising who had ‘dunnit’ until the very end. As I would expect from the writer of the seven Harry Potter novels, the book was full of rich, well-rounded characters and complex plot details. Unlike Harry Potter, however, it was firmly based on a very realistic, very adult world of Great Britain.

Cormoran Strike, a wounded war veteran, who is easily dismissed (on a surface glance) as an amateur private investigator, turns out to have as much detective acumen as depth of character, and the crime he investigates – the supposed suicide of a high-society model – takes you deep into the underbelly of London’s high society. If you like crime of the Sherlock Holmes/ Agatha Christie variety (rather than the gritty, violent, gruesome type), then I’d recommend a foray into the world of Cormoran Strike. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
ISBN: 9781408703991
Published: 2013
Publisher: Sphere

- Rhiannon, Waiheke Library