hans

Evil is endlessly fascinating, and the Nazis provide ample scope to satisfy this fascination. The book is part biographies of Rudolf Hoess, Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Hanns Alexander, and émigré German Jew enrolled in the British Army, and the hunt for Hoess and other war criminals. The story, bookended by Hanns Alexander’s funeral and a visit to Auschwitz, is told in alternating chapters comparing and contrasting the live and experiences of Hanns and Rudolf, which is how they are usually referred to in the prose.

Hanns was born in Berlin into a prosperous upper middle class Jewish family during WWI and through the good fortune of his father’s profession as a medical doctor avoided the worst of the economic woes afflicting interwar Germany. Rudolf was born in Baden-Baden 16 years earlier to a merchant with military past. Rudolf certainly had more of the adventurer’s life than Hanns, including running away from home to join the war, being in the Freikorps, and as a farm inspector for the Artamen League (a right wing, back-to-the-land movement), before being convinced by Himmler to become a concentration camp officer in pre-war Nazi Germany.

The chapters alternate between Rudolf and Hanns, with Rudolf leading until the stories become entwined at the end of the war. The chronology for the most part is concurrent. This device works, preventing the reader from becoming saturated with information about just the one man and his family. And family is important, as both men were married, had siblings (Hanns a twin, Paul) and the families of both feature in their lives as much as their work as Kommandant or Nazi hunter. That Hanns is Harding’s uncle is never overplayed. A set of photographs help illustrate the story.

Harding explores the strengths and weaknesses of both men: neither is a saint, nor is Rudolf a devil incarnate. His is the story of a weak character and an improper sense of duty. Hanns has more joie de vivre and a propensity to play practical jokes. Unfortunately, the setting reveals that practical jokes are often cruelty disguised. But this is not a study in human nature but the tale of how Rudolf, the Kommandant of Auschwitz was brought to trial. And that is a fascinating story in itself and forms the latter half of the book.

The book has a few one word endorsements on the back cover: “Thrilling”, “Electrifying”, and “Exhilarating”. These are a step too far. “Fascinating” is much closer to the mark, although John Le Carre’ sums it up best: “A gripping thriller, an unspeakable crime, an essential history.” Read it.

William Heinemann

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

richard dawkins

This is part autobiography and part history of Richard Dawkins progenitors. Various members of previous generations of Dawkins had served the British Empire. Two generations served as foresters. A similar amount of colonial activity was undertaken by his maternal ancestors. The Dawkins also made a habit of attending Balliol College, and having, though not using the first name of Clinton. Dawkins admits his birth name is Clinton Richard Dawkins, and he was born in Kenya because his mother followed her husband there from Nyasaland (Malawi) when Dawkins pere was posted there during World War 2.

Richard Dawkins was not drawn to zoology, as several early incidents of his life indicate. However, he fell into once he arrived at Balliol, having been talked out of reading biochemistry instead. He charts his progression through the British academic world with candour, and shows great respect for the various people who mentored him on the way. Dawkins was not only fascinated by zoology, once he got underway, but by automated data collection and processing. Anecdotes about this take up more space than the discussion about the genesis and publication of his first book, The Selfish Gene. He also explains the development of his gene-centred view of evolution, for which he is famous throughout the wider science of biology.

Dawkins writes with affection, humour and modesty. This is not a boastful work showcasing how great Dawkins is. Nor does he push his atheism. Instead, he explains all the influences on his life, finding inspiration in the dedication of others. At approximately 300pages, it is an easy read, with nicely structured chapters and a collection of photographs showing both early family life and other actors in his story. Because this memoir is not only about him, it’s about his family and his academic friends.

I would recommend this book for those not only wanting to know more about Richard Dawkins, but also about the collegial nature of university research.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

paradise taken

Based on true events.

Four lives, intertwined by friendship and business, whose true story was more devastating

than fiction.

Rob and Kaye were thrilled to be moving to the island of St. John with dear friends, Jake

and Claire. The men were going into business together and relocating with their families to

the beautiful tropical paradise. It was a dream come true for the longtime friends.

But, when feelings are revealed and temptation takes control, one friendship turns from

lust to love and no one can walk away unscathed.

And, one person’s ultimate decision leaves everyone lost and devastated.

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Excerpt

Rob was sitting near Jake and Claire and motioned for me to join him on the lounger. I put my

finger up indicating I needed a minute as I still had to see the caterers out. Rob winked at me

and smiled, reminding me of Jake’s odd response earlier in the evening. I smiled back as I tried

to ignore my thoughts.

Eventually, I made my way over to my husband and crawled into the chair with him. Jake’s eyes

never left me, but Rob didn’t notice. It should have been unnerving, but it wasn’t. I snuggled

deep beside my man, laid my head on his muscular chest, and wrapped my arms around his

waist. He was my home.

I felt Rob stirring and realized I’d fallen asleep in his arms in the lounger. He was still chatting

with Jake about work stuff, and I started to get up, but he pulled me back down and held me in

“Don’t leave. We were thinking of going for a night swim.” Rob grinned. I knew what that

meant. He loved to swim naked with me, but I certainly wasn’t going to do that with Jake and

Claire here. He chuckled at my raised eyebrows because he knew I was about to protest, so he

whispered, “With suits this time.”

saving

 Our love affair wasn’t what everyone wanted it to be. It was raw and full of absolute joy

and unbelievable pain.  My love for another woman had consumed me for years and now that Kaye was mine, I wasn’t ever letting her go. I knew the consequences of our affair would be devastating to our families, but I was too selfish to walk away.

My beautiful Kaye was having my baby and we were determined to get our happily ever

after….until one day, one event, one conversation threatened it all.

“I had to know what went wrong. My stomach was sick with grief and I didn’t know what to

do next or even how to help Kaye.  I needed to get to her.  It didn’t matter what Rob or Claire thought. No one could stop me from going. I knew she needed me. I could feel it deep in my soul.” – Jake

Excerpt

The pain in Kaye’s eyes was almost too much for me to bear. I knew she loved me and wanted

to be with me, but having Rob and the kids standing there when we drove up was painful for her.

I wanted to force her back into my car and drive away. I knew that would never happen. She loved her kids too much, and she still cared a great deal about Rob.

I was certain their kids knew nothing about the baby being mine. It appeared that the affair wasn’t a big surprise, but apparently, the paternity was a secret. That didn’t matter to me—not at that moment.

Reluctantly, I got in my rental and drove away from the love of my life and my baby. I needed to give Kaye some time with Rob and her kids. I hated it, but I didn’t really see a choice.  As I drove back to our hotel, I thought about how things could have been all these years had I just told Kaye about my feelings while we were in college. I didn’t regret my life with Claire, and I certainly didn’t regret my children, but they’d never fully had my heart. It belonged to someone else and the life I’d missed out on.

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About the Author

paradise

I’m a wife, a mom of three, a friend, an aunt, a sister, a daughter and a teacher. Now, I can

add writer to my list! I’ve always wanted to write and finally found inspiration and support

to do it.

I live near Austin, Texas with my family and love to read and travel. Put me on a beach

with a good book and the world just disappears around me.

Paradise Taken was my first novel and is a highly emotional book based on true events. Its

sequel (Saving Us) is due out February 2014.

Loving Her was the second book I wrote after needing a little time off from Paradise Taken.

It is a story close to my heart.

I love that you are willing to take a chance on a new writer and promise to keep striving to

put out great books!

If you don’t like my books, that’s okay. Just please be gentle on my fragile ego. ;)

I’d love to chat with you, so look me up on any of my social pages.

Giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f229a4147/

unnamed

ilovelucy cove

Lucy Tate is on the run. After witnessing the brutal murder of her parents, she’s spent five years in hiding — taking on different personas and faking her way through life. The authorities can’t be trusted, so she remains in the shadows, always one beat ahead of the man who is forever hunting her. That is, until she meets Zach Schultz, a senior at Monte Vista High and the one guy she can’t bear to leave. Suddenly her natural instincts to lie, steal, and run are overshadowed by something else…the desire to stay. It’s her one shot at a normal life.

Curious by nature, Zach is immediately drawn to the new girl at school. How can a person look both confident and vulnerable all in the same moment? Determined to learn more about her, he tries to get close, but is thrown into a world of lies and confusion. The only thing that becomes apparent is that discovering the truth may get him killed.

, he tries to get close, but is thrown into a world of lies and confusion. The only thing that becomes apparent is that discovering the truth may get him killed.

976da-addtogoodreads

Lucy felt sick, but then came that smile. She hated that smile, but she couldn’t help it. She had managed to lift that bracelet without the lady knowing. The art of pickpocketing was a skill she’d had to really practice. Marlin had taught her a couple of months into their time together. At first she’d outright refused to learn, but after three days of garbage scraps, Lucy was going out of her mind. She agreed to do whatever it took to get a decent meal…and so Marlin had become her Fagan and they were an excellent team.

About The Author

ilovelucy uthor

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. “Best. Year. Ever!!” She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books. Recently she signed with Evatopia Press and her first Evatopia book is coming out in February 2014 – True Colors, The Masks Series #1. She is very excited to be trying out new things this year while continuing to publish under her own name as well. She has six books planned for 2014 and is excited about writing each and every one of them.

“I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love.”

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Author Blog / Book Blog / Pinterest

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i knw lucy banner

wolf

A little girl finds a lost puppy wandering in the woods. It has a torn note attached to its collar with the words HELP US on it. She gives it to a vagrant she meets to find its family.

In a remote house on the other side of the woods are Oliver and Matilda Anchor-Ferrers, daughter Lucia, and their little dog Bear, who have journeyed to their country home for Oliver to relax and recover from a heart operation.   After finding entrails wrapped around trees in the garden that mimic the scene of a local 15 year old murder, two policemen appear who are investigating the disembowelling of a local woman. After the phones and police radio don’t work, everyone is convinced the murderer is free and has returned.

After walking off the job, Jack Caffrey comes across The Walking Man –a local vagrant – and makes a deal to discover the owners of a lost little dog in return for some information about his missing brother. As his search goes on, the two events get drawn closer together and the 15 year old murder keeps reappearing.

Mo Hayder is a genius. The plot was chillingly scary with twist upon twist upon twist.   Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, you are confronted with a new turn of events. I missed Flea in the story, but it was more Jack’s personal journey than a police drama. The ending was sad but answered a lot of questions. I read it in two days, not having much sleep as I could not put it down. If you like psychological thrillers, you’ll love this one!

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

logoA finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, James Norcliffe’s Felix and the Red Rats is a fun mix of fantasy and adventure.

felix and the red rats

When David’s uncle comes to visit he sets off a bizarre series of events. Things become complicated when the pet rats turn bright red.

David senses that somehow the red rats are connected to the story he is reading, and he becomes more convinced when the colour red becomes contagious.

The parallel story sees Felix and his friend Bella inadvertently shifted into a strange land where they must solve a riddle. But this puts them into great danger. How will they escape and find their way home?

See review here

As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?

 I had been toying with the idea of writing a book with a dual narrative. It wasn’t conscious, but I think I may have been influenced by the Japanese writer Murakami whom I’d been reading a lot of and who uses the technique. It then came to me that a variation on the idea might be a book within a book and, even better, that the book within the book could have some bearing on the outer story. This quite excited my and because I love the intricacy of plot I found the process tremendous fun. I hit quite early upon the idea of alternating chapters and the book(s) began to flow quite organically once I set off. There were challenges, of course. I’m not terribly good at multi-tasking and I’d charged myself not only with managing two stories but also with trying to end each chapter of each book with a sufficiently exciting moment to keep the readers interested in both stories at the same time. I wasn’t sure I’d managed to pull it off until other people read the manuscript and found the concept worked. I was hugely relieved.

Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

 I wrote the book in 2012 during my time as Children’s Writer in Residence at the Otago University College of Education. The residency allowed me to live at the Robert Lord Cottage in Titan Street, a twenty minute or so walk from the college. This allowed me to be completely focused on the stories and for a number of weeks I lived, dreamed, and rehearsed the story. I don’t take copious notes but tend to let my stories play out in my head. The red rats idea came in a eureka moment as I was walking across the Alhambra rugby field on my way to the college. I also played out conversations on the walk and when I’d get to the office at the college I’d hurriedly write them down before they disappeared. I imagine I was a danger to traffic. I’m not sure there was any especial challenge in publishing the book, just the usual nail-biting wait between the time it’s packed off to the publisher and the time you get the response. Luckily, Barbara Larson, my publishing editor lives in Dunedin, luckier the wait was not very long, and luckiest of all, Barbara liked the book very much.

Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?

I don’t consciously write for children. I guess if I did there would be a danger of ‘writing down’ and I like to think my readers are bright and don’t want to be condescended to. If I’m honest, I think I’m trying to write the sort of book I would have enjoyed reading as a young person: funny in places, scary in places, with a touch of the fantastic and a satisfying conclusion.

Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?

I don’t think any book consciously inspired or informed Felix and the Red Rats. Actually, I’m proud of the fact that it is so original. Subconsciously perhaps, Haruki Murakami (as mentioned earlier) was an influence, as particularly in his 1Q84 he uses the dual narrative technique with alternating chapters following the stories of two protagonists until they come together. However, Felix is completely different in every other possible way. A book I was reading at the time of writing Felix was A.S.Byatt’s wonderful and dark The Children’s Book and this put me in mind of the Edwardian E Nesbit who was the model for the central figure (who was a children’s writer). Nesbit was famous of course for The Railway Children but many of her other books were fantasies. Nesbit’s books are must-reads for any lover of fantasy.

Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?

One of the pleasures of having my time at the Robert Lord cottage – six months in a kind of bach – was the time it afforded for reading for pleasure and Dunedin is a city blessed with bookshops. I haunted them and found many treasures. There are too many books to list but I did find the time to follow the work of writers who were interesting me: Roberto Bolano, Murakami and Orhun Pamuk. I found too a whole set of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories and these were fun. Sadly while I was down south, Margaret Mahy died and I took the bitter-sweet opportunity to re-read a number of Margaret’s books.

What are your favourite things to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

 Probably spending time in the garden. I’m passionate about plants and we are lucky to have a large garden at Church Bay which allows me to grow all manner of trees from interesting fruit trees to precious natives. It also affords me a large lawn which needs mowing regularly and I don’t mind this at all: it is my gym. Of course, spending time with family and friends. And crossword puzzles.

when the hills ask

This is an account of the genocide in Rwanda twenty years on, when the Hutu ethnic group began 100 days of bloody slaughter of their Tutsi friends and neighbours. The story is told in three time periods; 1994, 2004, 2012-2013. The stories of two survivors are woven together showing what the people went through as well as the challenges they faced after the war and their lives now.

Father Vjeko Curic, a Bosnia Croat Franciscan priest, stayed throughout the slaughter and saved many lives. A hard-drinking, hard-living, larger than life man, he gave sanctuary to many terrified Tutsi by sheer force of will and smuggled them to safety. Organising Red Cross convoys of food and medicine to be trucked in from neighbouring Burundi, he delivered them to the thousands of Tutsis seeking refuge in the Franciscan cathedral. After an uneasy peace was restored, he redirected his efforts to rebuilding houses and caring for the thousands accused of participating in the massacres who were rotting in jail. Sadly, he was too outspoken about the failings of the new regime and murdered in 1998.

Jean-Pierre, a Tutsi, survived the genocide by hiding for over two months in a disused septic tank. His Zairean friend helped conceal him but when he emerged he found his parents and siblings slaughtered and his wife and children missing. His wife’s journey with their children to seek safety is also told. He became an invaluable source of information and help to the many Westerners who flooded Rwanda after the genocide ended.

The why of the genocide is examined, the propaganda campaign that labeled Tutsi as cockroaches that needed to be exterminated a compelling factor, but the reasons and tensions between the two ethnic groups go back hundreds of years and are too complex to identify. The new Rwanda is shown, the efforts to bring forgiveness and reconciliation between victims and killers and to forge unity between the people.

A really tough book to read but worthwhile. It shows how easily propoganda can be spread and is a good lesson to think for yourself.  I hope the world never let’s this happen again.

Doubleday

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan