hairy maclary

All 10 books featuring the beloved Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy!

Each story features the intrepid little terrier and his friends, all have rhyming names.

“Schnitzel von Krumm
with a very low tum,
Bitzer Maloney
all skinny and bony,
Muffin McClay
like a bundle of hay,
Bottomley Potts
covered in spots,
Hercules Morse
as big as a horse

and Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy”

The plots are simple and involve Hairy and his friends in adventurous scenarios. They often are pitched against local cats, who are led by Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town.

The pictures have more detail than is described in the text and is full of easily recognisable items. The story is told in brief words that are descriptive while having a rhythm that make them easy to read for little kids and ESOL learners. The repetitions permit a young child to anticipate what is coming next, and repeat the words.

There is a CD included that features all the 10 stories read out loud. Lynley Dodds introduces each story with an entertaining account of how it began and the introduction in the book shares how the Hairy Maclary became a book.

The only concern about this book is its hardcover and could be too big and heavy to hold long, especially for children.

I loved reading this, as at 36 I was a bit too old to discover Hairy Maclary when the first book came out in 1983. I do remember Slinki Malinki though and possess a copy of ‘My Cat Likes To Hide   In Boxes’! I highly recommend you buy a copy; children will love   the read—along CD and Hairy Maclary is a kiwi classic.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Mission Survival 6

At first I was a little dubious that a survivalist and scout master, Bear Grylls, could write a good novel, I could not have been more wrong.

This book continues the story of Beck, a kid whose parents died in a plane crash when he was young. His parents were eco-activists, and Beck intends to continue their legacy. In the past books, Beck ran into trouble on many occasions, in many different places, and survivng these instances has caused him to be very famous. This book highlights this early on because it’s the whole reason for the plot… Beck is tired of interviewers, paparazzi and other people seeking him out, so when an old friend of his uncle appears and offers him a vacation, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately for him, things go horribly wrong.

Bear Grylls’ books teach life-saving knowledge, from easy ways to collect water or start a fire, to navigating by the stars. Although I hope I will never need to use that information, I’m glad I have it. This book in particular focuses on marine related knowledge, such as, that life boats are always boyant at the back end, and gives some essential first aid tips for the most dire of situations.

I enjoyed how Bear Grylls managed to give his information out in an easy-to-read book that will hook you like a fishing rod. I can’t wait for the next one!


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

blackpeak storms

Glencarin Station is in dire need of a housekeeper to run it and city girl Cally Jones leaps at the chance. Set just below Blackpeak Station in the rugged high country of the South Island, Glencarin is the home of the gruff Carr Fergusson and his son Ash, who has recently returned from Argentina. After a few disasters Cally settles in rapidly to high station life and even learns to ride. Then Ash’s girlfriend turns up…….

Ella is loving her new job as a job as a photography assistant and is constantly jetting around the world on assignments for weeks at a time. This makes it difficult to find time to enjoy her relationship with Luke, who has a life firmly embedded in New Zealand. Then Ella is offered the opportunity of a lifetime- in New York.

Another charming read by Holly Ford that continues the Blackpeak story and lets us see how favourite characters are doing (was amused to find out Richard’s latest project). The action is from one character’s POV then the next chapter rewinds the time period to show another’s POV, which takes a bit to get used to but quickly makes sense.  A great read, Holly Ford is on my must-read list and I look forward to her next book.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Review of Blackpeak Vines here

robot overlords

Okay, I haven’t seen the movie, and I doubt that any of you have either, because somebody made the mistake of releasing this independent British kids SF movie in Britain the same weekend as Cinderella and Spongebob. It didn’t have a hope, which is a pity, because the premise is solid, and the story as presented in this novelisation is better than most. I do think it could have done with a stronger title, especially for the movie – the tag line “Robots Never Lie” might have worked better.

The scenario is that the Earth has been invaded by robots intent on subjugating humanity in order to mine people for any useful data they might have. The war was over quickly and now everybody is confined to their homes, aside from the Volunteer Corps, humans who have chosen to cooperate with the robots. Obedience is enforced by means of implants which track people and blow them up if they are caught by the robots breaking their rules. So, how do a bunch of kids get the upper hand in a situation like this? Very carefully… and with two particular strokes of plain unpredictable luck, the first of which gives them a way to disable their implants, and as for the second… That would be giving away a bit too much. Put it this way – I found it rather more believable than the ending of Independence Day.

It was a bit British – I couldn’t help wondering how the Robots’ strictures would have worked in other parts of the world. And the primary villain is a Geography teacher turned quisling who felt straight out of Doctor Who. Which was another thing. I kept expecting the TARDIS to suddenly materialise… But enough of that. It’s not great, but it’s a pretty good read, better than you might expect. I’d definitely recommend this story to teenagers, especially if they have an interest in robotics.


Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui


The President of France is shot at from ¾ of a mile away but a sheet of bullet proof glass saves him. Only a few snipers worldwide could have made that shot, only one an American – John Kott, recently released from prison after serving a fifteen-year sentence.

The G8 nations are about to hold a summit in London and they’re not keen to have a sniper with incredible aim roaming free. International intelligence agencies are scrambling to find and capture him and have identified potential suspects but the bullet fired was American made; leaving Kott as the likely culprit.

The Americans call in Jack Reacher, he arrested Kott sixteen years ago and they’re hopeful he can find him again. This is Reacher though, so   they assign a female analyst, Casey Nice, to accompany him and report on his movements.

The action takes place in the U.S., France, and Britain and Reacher gets   the best of his handlers, as well as the bad guys. It’s a fun read that moves along at a very fast pace. It took me a while to get in to it but as there was a lot of dialogue, but by the time he encountered the East Europeans it was action packed and classic Reacher. A good read for fans!

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

cook 30

My first reaction when I began looking at this book was along the lines of… “It’s a vegan cookbook that goes with a TV programme I’ve never heard of.” Then I looked a bit further and did some research. Turns out that the writer is a New Zealander who used to work for Sanitarium (the Weetbix people) and then when on to run Revive Cafes in Auckland. He’s now doing a TV show for a US channel called 3ABN which represents the Seventh Day Adventist Church who, not coincidentally, own Sanitarium. They are religiously keen on a healthy lifestyle and were one of the first Western groups to advocate vegetarianism, long before New Ageism was the new thing. For what it’s worth, independent university studies of Adventists show their healthy lifestyle actually works in terms of decreased risk of a whole bunch of diseases and in increased longevity.

So, there’s little doubt that cooking from this book would be good for you. Unless, of course, you happen to be allergic to soya or nuts, because both make frequent appearances.

The book is notably well laid-out with 26 chapters, each corresponding to an episode of the TV show. Therein are recipes for a number of dishes to be prepared within thirty minutes, comprising a menu for one meal, usually dinner. Usefully, there is a timing schedule and a list of what you need to have organized at the beginning of the chapter. Temperatures are given in metric and imperial, volumes mostly in cups (given the relatively few recipes involving actual baking, this should not be a problem).

In terms of content, the book tends to repeat itself, having at least three tofu curries, and a pear cashew cream that appears in two menus. That said, if you are going vegan, or require a gluten-free or dairy-free diet due to food intolerance, I think you would find this book uncommonly useful. I plan to share the chickpea pizza base with my gluten-free friend, and some of the dairy alternatives with the lady who is lactose intolerant. Still not sure how many of these recipes I’ll be trying myself, but you never know.

Revive Concepts

Supplied by Lighthouse PR

Reviewed by Jacqui

Onyx Javelin

We met Steve Wheeler at Reconnaissance (the 2015 National SF&F Convention), and he proved to be a very interesting person, with an unusual approach to military SF – he makes detailed models of the craft in his books, and photographs them, often in natural landscapes. Then he employs them in his writing. When he told me to go ahead and read this, the third book in his SF series, without having read the other two, I took him at his word. Now, I’m not so sure that was a good idea. It was fine for the first few chapters, populated mainly by new characters, but as more and more older characters were introduced who had been developed in the previous books, I found myself floundering. There are a lot of characters here, in at least three main casts; the people of the distant human colony Storfisk, the crew of the carrier Haast, and the crew of Basalt.

It’s a complex universe, too. Humanity is divided into several major factions, disputes are settled by war games, and who knows who’s doing what to whom… Then there are these vicious aliens called Urchins, who are in conflict with humanity, along with their inscrutable octopoid masters. And then are ACEs, Artificially Created Entities, often cybernetically enhanced, and in humanoid, animal or more exotic forms – yes, we can have dragons! One clever idea is the use of soul-savers – which allow characters to survive certain death, and be reincarnated immediately into a mechanical chassis or grow a new biological body. This feature, together with the range of possible character types and factions, and the great depth of detail, would make Wheeler’s universe an excellent setting for role-playing games.

The plot focuses on events on the Storfisk colony world, and its invasion by some very nasty alien predators. There’s plenty of action, a dose of mystery, and some scenes of truly memorable beauty, amid a great deal of carnage and destruction. I have to admit that I found Wheeler’s prose a bit awkward at times, forcing me to stop reading while I figured out what he was saying, thus breaking the flow. And I would like to have seen a bit more of the titular Onyx Javelin.

Steve Wheeler might not be the most elegant of writers, but he is a wonderful imagineer. The depth and detail of his future galaxy is truly impressive. And I’m thinking that I was right, and this really was the novel that should have received the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel award.

Harper Voyager

Purchased at Reconnaissance

Reviewed by Jacqui