The official playscript of the original West End production of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play received its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production

Jack Thorne and based on an original new story by Thorne, J. K. Rowling, and John Tiffany

Little & Brown

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

First things first. It is indeed a brand-new Harry Potter story, but it is a play and not a novel. I hadn’t actually read a play for years, and I have to admit that I found the format a bit jarring at first. It also wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling, although the underlying story is hers. These factors combine to make the resulting book much more tightly written than any of the later novels in the Harry Potter series, and in my opinion that’s an improvement. I’ve been saying for a while that the first Harry Potter books, written before J.K. got too big for her editor, were considerably better than the later ones.

The story is set primarily in the present day, with the central characters being Harry’s second son, Albus Potter; and Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius. The boys are talked into stealing a time-turner and returning into the past to prevent the death of Cedric Diggory in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Predictably, when meddling with time, it all goes horribly wrong. And it has to be fixed… with a clever little twist.

There are definitely shades of Back to the Future here, with perhaps a dose of Dr Who. It doesn’t add much that is new to the wizarding world, except for fleshing out the characters of some of the offspring of characters in the earlier novels. Scorpius Malfoy, in particular, turns out to be a strong character and a surprisingly likeable person.

If you don’t like time travel books, you won’t like this one, and I’d definitely not recommend it to someone who was not familiar with the other stories; especially Goblet of Fire. But if you are a Potter fan, you’ll certainly want to read it, and most probably you’ll enjoy it. I did, and I confess I’m curious about the play. It must be truly spectacular.

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With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves.

Having the chip removed could save Callie’s life – but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too . . . and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?

With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves.

Having the chip removed could save Callie’s life – but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too . . . and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?

Enders: Starters #2

Lissa Price

Random House

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

There has been a horrible war where the US has fell victim to a terrible biological attack, where only the elderly and young have been vaccinated. Callie is forced to make some tough decisions when an offer to rent her young body to an elderly person for a short time comes across the table. This money could save her little brother’s life.

In the sequel the body bank, Prime Destinations, has been destroyed but the chip inside Callie’s head can still be used to manipulate her. Someone doesn’t want Starters and Enders to work together.

Having to protect her brother Tyler and with time running out to find her Father, Callie doesn’t know who she can trust. Especially when anyone could be acting with another’s body, seeing through their eyes.

An interesting read that is well-written and chilling creepy.  I’m not sure I want to read the previous book though, as I am a wuss.

The New Zealand beer industry is a dynamic one – full of larger-than-life, passionate characters; from loveable rogues through to budding mad scientists. Our beers are just as diverse. Bringing together brewing traditions from all over the world and combining these with Kiwi ingredients, ingenuity and creativity, we have a beer culture unlike any other.

Since the release of Brewed in 2015, the New Zealand beer industry has continued to grow dramatically, which this revised edition takes into account by featuring 45 new breweries, meaning over 160 commercially operating New Zealand breweries are profiled. Additionally, the tasting notes for over 450 beers have been revised and are now in a separate section, divided into beer type, for easier comparison of beers produced by different breweries.

Brewed includes a style guide written specifically for the New Zealand craft beer market and has all the information needed to make the increasingly complicated beer world a lot more comprehensible.

Brewed will encourage experimentation among engaged beer consumers, helping them to discover new breweries and, with the use of the comprehensive tasting notes, benchmark them against old favourites. It will also help emerging beer drinkers to identify beers they will enjoy, starting them on a journey of discovery.

Brewed: A Guide to the Beer of New Zealand Second Edition

Jules van Costello

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Steve

Jules van Costello (né van Cruysen) wrote his first edition of Brewed in 2015, and in the two following years the scene changed sufficiently that a new edition was felt to be warranted. So what’s the difference between the first and second editions, and is it worthwhile getting the new one?

The basic layout is the same, but the second edition splits the tasting notes out from the breweries. In my opinion this is an improvement. Jules divides his tasting notes into styles. Hopefully not too many will be confused as to what style of lager or pale ale is in the glass (there are an awfully large number of beer styles in these two categories). The new edition is also about 10-15 pages longer, mostly due to the extra 45 that have opened, although obviously a few have also closed. What I do miss are the various area maps showing the locations of the breweries in the cities.

Is it worth it? Yes. The splitting out of the tasting notes from the brewery description makes for an easier and less cluttered read. Jules still mentions the styles the breweries focus on in their descriptions. But the tasting notes fill in the blanks, with Jules offering the suggestion of “Must Try” for the best or most distinctive examples within each stile.

I wish to thank Potton & Burton for the edition provided and offer my sincerest grovelling for being so late with this review.

A futuristic action-adventure novel about a teenager caught in the middle of a centuries old war between wizards and robots, who finds the world’s destiny is suddenly in her hands.

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring’s world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father’s hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards’ age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth’s destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don’t have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth . . .

WAR: Wizards and Robots

Will.i.am & Brian David Johnson

Penguin Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I’m always suspicious when I see a celebrity’s name in the by-line of a novel, and when it’s that of a popular hip-hop artist, it seems fairly certain that this book was published on the strength of that name’s ability to sell books. And after reading it, I don’t think that I was far wrong.

The writing itself wasn’t too bad, it’s more the story I have issues with, or more properly the setting. It feels like the authors took the grab-bag of science fiction and fantasy tropes, emptied it on the floor, picked out a handful of unrelated ideas not normally found in the same novel and decided to make a book out of it. So, you have wizards and robots, that’s obvious from the title. And then you add in time travel and invading aliens from another dimension…. It’s a mess, never totally resolved. If wizardry is dependent on a technological device in the form of a ring, then where and when did these rings come from? Perhaps some amphibians know?

The primary characters; a computer genius girl and a boy wizard are obviously designed to meet and form some sort of relationship, but why call the girl Ada Luring (rhymes with Turing)? I can see why her mother might name her Ada, but… It’s all a wee bit twee… and a bit silly. So, I’m afraid, is the plot. Time travel is almost guaranteed to create plot-holes and here they’re all over the place. There is a resolution of sorts, and evil is defeated, but it really is way too complicated for its own good. You may want to leave this one and its shiny silver cover on the shelf.

When Vicki hears about a difficult Arabian that no one wants, she will stop at nothing to save him. Years of misunderstanding have left Casper wayward and mistrustful, but Vicki senses a gentle soul beneath the pony’s rough exterior.

Vicki must learn the importance of patience and compromise to have any chance of winning over the high-strung gelding. Will Casper ever trust humans again? And will Vicki be able to uncover the potential she sees in the spirited Arabian?

This story of self-discovery and second chances, in which Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson first help a misunderstood pony to trust again, is inspired by the Wilson Sisters’ early years.

Casper The Spirited Arabian: Showtym Adventures

Kelly Wilson

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Another in the series by Kelly Wilson of the Wilson sisters who starred in Keeping up with The Kaimanawas. A family who have devoted their life to horses, show jumping and advocating for wild horses around the world, taming and raising awareness about the plight of the American Mustangs and Australian Brumbies and specifically the beautiful wild Kaimanawa horses near their home. They also run Showtym Camps, riding camps for young riders.

The sisters rescue and tame wild horses and this book, written at a young adult level is loosely based around a story from Vicki Wilson’s childhood.

Vicki hears about a horse that is destined to be put down as he is thought to be too bad-tempered. But Vicki believes that his problem stems from being mishandled and mistreated when training. The sisters work hard to raise the money to recue Casper and give him his second chance, but will any of that do any good if Vicki can’t undo the years of mistreatment and overcome Casper’s mistrust of humans?

Another fun read that any pony-mad tween  will love.

Magic isn’t real, right?

Within the small coastal city of Dunedin, local translator, Tamsin Fairchild has a reputation she hates. People think she’s psychic…

Always hovering around and interfering in Tamsin’s life, part father-figure, part thorn in her side, Detective Jackson, is an old-school cop. Childhood friend to her deceased mother, Tamsin wonders could her mother have let an outsider in on the truth?

Newcomer, rookie cop Scott Gale is forced to team-up with Tamsin when they investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby and a bizarre crime scene—satanic ritual or hoax?

More and more the blame starts to point towards Tamsin…

Tamsin must uncover who’s framing her, find the baby before it’s too late, unravel the mystery behind her elder brother’s disappearance, and stop Scott from entering a world not meant for human eyes.

But Scott has family secrets of his own and Tamsin doesn’t know who to trust.

But can you trust Tamsin? What if the person who saved your life is about to frame you for murder?

The Kingfisher’s Debt

 Kura Carpenter

IFWG Australia

Review first published by SpecFicNZ

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Of course Dunedin is the home of Fair Folk and Elementals in the middle of a never ending feud. Where else could they hide in plain sight among the lesser humans? Of course they are casting spells and causing trouble. Like any other notorious crim’ on the East Coast they have a reputation to uphold. Of course they expect the worst but hope for the best. With power comes responsibility.

Debut novel The Kingfisher’s Debt by Kura Carpenter, is an escape into the life of Tamsin Kingfisher as she helps to untangle a culture crossing crime while dealing with the issue of solstice messing up her magic. Woven throughout the novel is the heartache of her own Romeo and Juliet love story as well as her search for her missing beloved older brother. Tamsin adds nuance to the meaning of a busy working woman fulfilling family responsibility, hiding family secrets and getting the job done. With clever reimagining of witches as gang members, magic as the drug for sale, and poetic touches of what lives look like on the line between good and evil, Kura brings us a touch of ‘if only’ in Aotearoa. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

As a child Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery – a huge metallic hand, buried deep in the earth. She has since focused her scientific career on uncovering everything about the hand and the other gigantic body parts found scattered about the globe. When another robot is discovered and lashes out, Dr Franklin is closer to learning its secrets than ever before.

But as more machines appear, earth looks set for an invasion for which it is colossally unprepared. Mankind’s only chance is for Rose and her team to uncover the mysteries of the ancient technology or the earth might be lost to them forever . . .

Waking Gods

Sylvain Neuvel

Michael Joseph

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

Now, this is very much a sequel to “Sleeping Giants” and is told in the same unusual manner, as a series of interview transcripts, logs, and reports. If that style is irritated you the first time, then this sequel isn’t going to suit you any better.

Nine years later, and Themis is no longer alone. More titanic robots have appeared, first in London, then in major cities all over the planet. Much action and a great deal of destruction occurs. You know that eventually a solution will be found, and it is quite ingenious. However, questions remain, and that last sentence is simply begging for a sequel.

Giant robots really aren’t my thing, but there were enough interesting ideas, and enough grounding in actual science here to keep me reading. If you do like giant robots and wanton devastation (I always feel sorry for the poor innocent people who get killed in things like this – and for those who have to clean up the mess) then this is a book you should enjoy.

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