Blog Archives

Wonderful New Zealand everydayness, Caitlin Walker

The Year of Falling Janis Freegard Mākaro Press, $35.00 ISBN 9780994106575 Selina’s life seems perfect. She’s got the job of her dreams, she and her boyfriend have been together for a record 18 months, and she’s got her health under

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Posted in Literature, Review and Young adults

From a trio of veterans, Anna Mackenzie

The Severed Land Maurice Gee Penguin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143770244 Shooting Stars Brian Falkner Scholastic, $21.00, ISBN 9781775433606 Cool Nukes Des Hunt Scholastic, $20.00, ISBN 9781775433422 As a veteran of more than 50 years, Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review and Young adults

Glory or gory? Caitlin Walker

The Bakehouse Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781776570072 Viewed from a distance of seventy-plus years, 1943 was history soup, everything mixed up, and it was difficult to separate reality from what he had read or been told. One event,

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The challenge of being, Tatjana Schaefer

The Falconer’s Daughter N K Ashworth RSVP, $25.00 ISBN 9780987658760 Being Magdalene Fleur Beale Random House, $20.00 ISBN 9781775537670 It almost goes without saying that novels for the young adult or teen reader are about the quest for personal identity.

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Bringing the front line home, Sarah Dickson

Evie’s War 
Anna MacKenzie
Longacre, $20.00,
ISBN 9781775537656

Anna Mackenzie’s book gives the reader an insight into WWI through the perspective of Evie, an 18-year-old New Zealander living in England. Shortly after her family arrives there for their tour of Europe, war breaks out and Evie is introduced to a whole new world. She experiences first-hand the horrors inflicted on the men, along with the heartbreak and stress of serving in hospitals – both on the front line and in England. Through Evie’s experiences during the four years, Mackenzie is able to highlight the expectations of Evie and her associates during the war. We see the traditional views that her family holds about Evie’s responsibilities and others’ views about her capabilities.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, YA Reviewers and Young adults

What’s a New Zealand novel? Sue Esterman

Enemy Camp 
David Hill
Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143309123

Lullaby
Bernard Beckett
Text, $26.00, ISBN 9781922182753

Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder
Rudy Castaneda Lopez
Escalator, $30.00, ISBN 9780473295691

It has been interesting to read three such different but compelling books. All three writers are New Zealanders, but only one book is identifiable as a New Zealand novel. I mention this only because there was a session at the recent Writers Week in Wellington during the Arts Festival where I was expecting a robust discussion about what constitutes a New Zealand writer but unfortunately that didn’t happen. So the question is still there, but I don’t think I can address that in this review except through an occasional comment.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review and Young adults

“thethrillingalchemy”, Emma Martin

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle Kate De Goldi Longacre, $30.00, ISBN 9781775535768 Kate De Goldi’s writing for children and young adults has been acclaimed for its vibrancy and verisimilitude. De Goldi often takes the reader into psychologically complex

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Tourism and real life, Abby Loader and Abby Simpson

Bugs Whiti Hereaka Huia, $25.00, ISBN 9781775501336 Bugs, by Whiti Hereaka, is an honest narrative that confronts the reader with the everyday life of Bugs, “as in bunny”. Sixteen-year-old Bugs is struggling to hold onto childhood pal Jez, as he

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Distance and familiarity, Lucy Prestidge 

To the Is-Land Janet Frame Random House, $30.00, ISBN 9781869411305 The first volume of Janet Frame’s autobiography was initially a bit daunting to me. Not only because it’s the work of one of New Zealand’s most celebrated writers, but because

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At the whim of larger, terrifying forces, Angelina Sbroma

The Deadly Sky
David Hill
Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143308157

The Red Suitcase
Jill Harris
Mākaro Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780994106902

Spark
Rachael Craw
Walker, $22.00, ISBN 9781922179623

David Hill’s The Deadly Sky is set in 1974, when the nuclear proliferation of the Cold War was at the forefront of political debate, and France was, quite literally, dropping bombs in the South Pacific. Modern global terror has a different focus (the Big Red Button seems old-fashioned from today’s perspective), but the ethical quandaries at the heart of the arms race – whether militarisation works to promote security or to endanger it; whether national and global security is worth its economic, ecological and individual cost – remain pertinent.

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