The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

This is a special book. This is a book about the end of the world as we know it, it is sad, it is depressing, it is violent, angry, sad, questioning, full of guilt, being left behind and the bravery of carrying on in the face of an unlikely future. The difference between this post apocalyptic story and all the others is the gentle nature of the story telling, the humanity in the telling and the hope.

Hig is lucky to be alive, but he doesn’t always feel that way. He has carved out a new life for himself at an airfield along with a survivalist and they are in it for the long haul. Hig goes hunting, fishing and flies his plane with his dog Jasper as co-pilot, he is something of a dreamer. He hears a voice on the plane radio and after much consideration decides to fly beyond the point of return, not enough fuel to get him home, in search of something more.

What he finds isn’t what he expected but it does open up the opportunity of a future of some kind.

I give this book 5 stars, I also felt highly about The Road by Cormac McCarthy and as it says on the cover of my copy “like The Road – with hope”. That sums it up for me, compelling reading that isn’t bleak yet set in a bleak time, a special combination.

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A Good Keen Man by Barry Crump

A Good Keen Man by Barry Crump

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From Mrs Salter-  An iconic kiwi book from a iconic kiwi author.

The summer I discovered Barry Crump I read every book of his I could find.  I love them all.  I especially love his dry wit.  Barry Crump is a timeless storyteller whose books I use to convert boys from non-fiction only readers to ‘stories’.  The boys always come back for more and tell their friends how good they are. 

This was his first book and I have heard that he wrote it in two days.  Set in New Zealand bush, Barry works as a culler; deer, pig or possum, living rough in a hut or a shack.  He meets an amazing array of characters who he describes in humorous detail.  He is a ‘mans man’ most at home in the bush and happy with his own company.

If you are from New Zealand and haven’t read a Barry Crump book I challenge you to try one. 

The Game Butcher: Wild About Meat by Darran Meates


I have quite a few boys in my library who will read anything about hunting.  The have devoured  Barry Crump, All Lester,  guns and rifle books  and themed magazines.  I discovered The Game Butcher: Wild About Meat by Darran Meates and thought it could be an addition to my collection.

Well, I underestimated how passionate these boys are about expanding their  hunting know-how, they LOVE this book. The caretaker was the first to put his hands on it and he quickly asked me to purchase a copy for him. The first student I showed it to took it without issue in his excitement (yes, it was a genuine mistake).

Blurb from Huia Publishers-

This book on processing wild pigs and deer is written by Darran Meates, one of the country’s leading butchers of game meat.

With practical down-to-earth text and over 250 photographs, The Game Butcher shows how to field dress, skin and butcher pigs and deer, caping techniques, food safety information for game hunters and even recipes for venison and wild pork.

It also tells the inspirational story of The Game Butcher, Darran Meates, from leaving school at fifteen and taking up a butchery apprenticeship to running his own business and fronting a television hunting show, and his lifelong passion for hunting.

A review from one of my readers favorite magazine- NZ Pig Hunter –     Two words describe this book very nicely… totally comprehensive.  It covers everything you need to know.  This would have to be the best illustrated hunting type book I have ever come across.  Apart from the obvious quality of the contents, the format and arrangement of the material is brilliant…’ Review NZ Pig Hunter June/July 2011

As a border line vegetarian  I will never read this book, a quick skim shows many action shot photos of butchering. Although there is nothing blood and guts about the photos there is plenty of blood and guts, as well as  recipes, food safety, all wrapped up in an inspirational biography of a boy who didn’t do well in school making a success of his life.

I’m excited that this is a New Zealand story, I expect that it will have an audience well beyond our borders.