Wake by Elizabeth Knox

Wake by Elizabeth Knox

New Zealand author alert!

Like Elizabeth’s other books this is complex and unusual. Set in an isolated South Island town, something sinister has taken over the minds of the inhabitants and there is confusion everywhere. A few, who entered the town after the “wake” took hold, survey the carnage.

They are isolated from the rest of the world. They must clear the bodies and organise the food. Who is the man in black who helped put out the fires? Why won’t he join them in their struggle?

A very worthy read, but not pretty at times. A stunning bookcover, which I would love a print of- minus the funeral. I expect this will do well in the NZ 2014 book awards and I hope internationally as well.


Dunger by Joy Cowley

Dunger by Joy Cowley

New Zealand author alert!

This is a gem, I think Joy Cowley nailed this one, five stars for sure.

The world financial crisis has reached Will and Mellisa’s house and the promised summer trip to Queenstown must be postponed. Instead the brother and sister accompany their elderly grandparents to the old family bach in the Marlborough Sounds. This seems like genuine hardship to the kids considering long drop toilets and zero cell phone coverage, but what happens makes them appreciate life more. Told alternatively by Will and Melissa, you see their confidence, character and relationship develop as they explore a very precious and beautiful part of New Zealand.
This is great for 9+ readers and will appeal to boys and girls.

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

New Zealand Author Alert!

Fifteen year old Archie is into kart racing, every weekend he and his Dad are either racing or working on the kart. Archie is one of the best racers and this year’s competition is the most important of his career because the winner will compete in Europe.
Craig is also a good racer, he has all the advantages money can buy. He has a professional mechanic for the season and is competing with Archie not just on the track but for sponsorship as well. Silver, a girl racer who didn’t compete last year, is back and is making things interesting on the course.
Archie is lucky to have great support not only from his Dad but his Grandparents as well. His Granddad has been in the game for a long time. His Mum doesn’t live with them, and Archie would like to understand why, he blames himself but hasn’t had the courage to ask the tough questions. Dad’s new girlfriend Erica is moving in with her young son, Archie isn’t sure what this arrangement will mean for his racing.
Lots of detail to give the reader an understanding of kart racing, a bit too much for me. It took a while for the story to get interesting, about a third of the way it drew me in. A strong moral 15 year old boy is the centre of the story, maybe a bit too thoughtful but pretty convincing.
Good blended family story with caring extended family.
Recommend to readers 12+ especially if they enjoy motor sports.

Reach by Hugh Brown


by Hugh Brown

A first novel by an up and coming New Zealand author.  It took me a while to settle in to this story, but once I did I wanted to know how it was going to work out.  I think about a third of the way into the book it found it’s stride.


Will is a typical teenager, with all the worries and insecurities that come with the territory. He is not popular and finds refuge in the books he reads.  He is in training for his first full-contact taekwondo fight.  He lives with his paternal grandparents, his Mum left years ago and his Dad  wasn’t coping with being a solo Dad.   The grandparents are sympathetically and realistically written and their voice is caring and consistent.

He has some friends at school, who he has been reluctant to invite into his personal life, but when Conway the girl of his dreams, starts spending time with him and his friends, things start to change.

His Mum returns from Australia, but hasn’t been to visit him.  His Grandfather ends up in hospital.  He thinks Conway is dating the school bully who has taken a liking to picking on Will.  This time escaping into a good book might not be a way out.

Set in New Zealand this story will appeal to students age 12+ and I would recommend to fans of Des Hunt.

Two Little Boys by Duncan Sarkies


Two Little Boys by Duncan Sarkies

New Zealand author alert

Set in the depth of Otago, Deano and Nige have been friends for a long time.  Things have been a bit rocky lately and Nige moved out last month.  Nige gets into trouble and turns to Deano for help.  What does Deano want from Nige in return?

The dark comedy that ensues keeps the reader guessing, laughing, crying, and cringing to the very end.  It is somewhat farcical and a bit absurd but I give it 4 stars.

Recommend to 16+

99 Flavours of Suck by Tania Hutley

A while back I reviewed 99 Flavours of Suck by New Zealand author Tania Hutley.  Since then our Year 8 teacher has read it to his class.  They loved it!  Afterwards I asked them to give me 5 words to describe the story.  This is the Wordle word cloud that resulted:

Imagerecomended to ages 12+.