Archive for November, 2013

MurrayKibblewhiteMurray kindly aggred to be interviewed to celebrat he launch of his first book ‘The Minke Connection’.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

All my stories, short story’s and novel are carefully planned normally with a definite opening (to gain attention), a middle (where all the meat is) and an ending that hopefully leaves the reader wondering what will happen next and they want to read on further. This formula applies for the overall book, the separate chapters and for each scene.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

My stories are plot not character driven.

What is your favourite food?
Vegetable stir fried as I am a vegan.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a morning person try to use the morning for writing.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I intend writing a number of novels dealing with ecology or environmental issues. So my dream is to leave New Zealand in May each year for up to three months and visit areas I intend writing about.

Do distant places feature in your books?
Yes they do as I am looking for the opportunity to mix and match different locations and different issues to make a compelling story.

Do you listen to music while writing?
Yes I listen to both classical and pop music, as I feel inclined.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

The Minke Connection is my first novel, which I refer to as a RAT! Romantic, Action, Thriller! It outlines the efforts of Greenpeace using the protagonist, John Daroux, to try to stop the Japanese from killing the protected Sperm whale. For years the Japanese whalers have entered the Southern Ocean to kill the small Minke whales for “research” purposes. The initial setting is in the Southern Ocean South of New Zealand where John boards the factory ship to discover evidence of Sperm whales. Together with Whale Researcher, Carrie Ardley, they travel to Tokyo, where they have many adventures escaping from the Yakusa, being poisoned and tortured to eventually forcing the whaling company to cease killing the Sperm whale. John and Carrie become intimately involved but an unfortunate incident drives them apart. There are number of romantic scenes, numerous action situations and the final successful outcome is achieved only after both John and Carrie suffer physically.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

Writing is an art that is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because it allows me to express my ideas and fantasies, but challenging because of the need to plan carefully, research extensively and be patience in writing a long work.

Publishing online is the way to go as people are now moving towards electronic publication. However, it is very challenging as an author to become familiar with all the elements of online publishing. I have decided to employ a younger person to help with the publishing and marketing aspects as she understands the issues more than I do.

Is there anything you would do differently?

No. However, it is a “labour of love” and now that I have completed my first major work I look forward to organising my life more efficiently so I can produce a novel each year for the next few years.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

I have read most of the works of Robert Ludlam, Tom Clancy and Ian Fleming and their styles have influenced me. I also attended several writing classes where I received helpful feedback.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Choose a genre that suits you as you need to have incredible perseverance to create and write a major work. Get help in the areas you are not experienced such as publishing and marketing.
What are three words that describe you?

Dreamer, Communicator, Teacher.

What’s your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

My favourite book was channelled by J. Z. Knight from her Guide called by the same name – “Ramtha”.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
My latest work, ‘The Minke Connection” is to be released by Smashwords on 25 November 2013. The next short story, “Year 21” will be released just before Christmas this year.

List of previous books
I have set up a series of short stories under the heading “Project L.E.L.” This stands for Project Live – Experience – Learn. The first on is “Year 17” and eventually I expect to reach “Year 40”.

Originally from Masterton, a small farming town, Murray Kibblewhite moved to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, to complete his B.Com. from Victoria University.  He then shifted to Auckland where he has lived for the last forty years. Murray is an author, teacher and businessman and his short stories are available free from Smashwords. His first novel, a thriller, “The Minke Connection”, is available in hard copy from Lulu and e-Book format through Smashwords.

Murray can be found;

on Facebook here

on his blog here

on Goodreads here

on Smashwords here

on Lulu here

the-minke-connection-finalcoverSomeone is killing protected sperm whales.

John Daroux is a New Age intellectual, martial arts exponent and Reki master, a Renaissance man with an interest in all things Japanese.  Tasked by Greenpeace to investigate the reports, he is sent to Japan along with Carrie Ardley, a whale researcher dedicated to ending the whaling industry.  They join a Greenpeace ship to hunt down the factory ship and gain proof they are hunting protected whales.  Boarding the factory ship in mid ocean, John finds irrefutable evidence, almost loses his life and becomes Carrie’s lover. While in Tokyo they are followed by the dreaded Yakusa, evade being poisoned, and survive being frozen alive.

Mark Stafford is the chief of Greenpeace, competent and urbane.  He travels to Tokyo with his beautiful associate, Petra van de Roer, to find the reason why the giant trading company, Mosaka Corporation, is killing the protected Sperm whales. While unravelling the mystery he is confronted by the cut called the League of Blood and learns the more sinister reason behind the killings.

Will the persistent efforts of the environmental protectors Greenpeace be enough to save the whales?

The Minke Connection is a thriller with plenty of action and romance and a spellbinding saga. While not strong on characterisation there is development of individual personalities. The main characters experience a variety of challenging situations which makes for exciting reading. The author has incorporated interesting and carefully researched details about whales, dolphins and the Japanese culture and history to make the story both credible and compelling.  It incorporates business versus environmentalism, big organizations versus small and expectation versus experience.   I’m eagerly looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Murray Kibblewhite

Supplied by author

Reviewed by Jan

Order your copy here for 99c for a limited time .  The price will be $6.99 after the first month.

on the steel breezeIt’s not often you come across pure hard science fiction these days, but Reynold’s “Poseidon’s Children” trilogy definitely qualifies. Though I have to say that I had no idea at the time that I was reading the middle volume of a trilogy; although there were references to past events, and the story plainly isn’t over by the end, this is a novel complete in itself.

Set some hundreds of years in the future; it is the story of one woman, Chiku Akinya who has split herself into three… Chiku Red to go chasing after her great-grandmother who’d set out for interstellar space years before; Chiku Green to join the fleet of holoships heading at relativistic speeds towards 61 Virginis, where an Earth-like planet named Crucible carries mysterious evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence in the form of the mysterious Mandela, a structure visible across the light-years; and Chiku Yellow who remains on Earth. Of course, it’s not that simple. For one thing, Chiku Red is missing, and for another, there’s this small matter of slowing down those holoships. More importantly, their objective may not be entirely what they think…

It comes down to a familiar theme in science fiction, the conflict between biological intelligence and machine intelligence, but Reynolds has a new take on the struggle and on its resolution. This is a lengthy but engrossing novel, and although it could be tightened up in places and the ending is a bit abrupt, it’s well worth reading. It has to be said though, that Reynolds has a thing about elephants.


Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

phylys the farm truckPhylys is the flash new farm truck at the Castle Hill high country farm.  The occupants there weren’t that impressed and doubted she could do the job.  Phylys gives everything a go though, and isn’t put off by sheep poo or is afraid to get muddy.  And then Phylys saves the day and proves her true value, winning over all the doubters!

This is a fun book that is easy to read with cute little stanzas telling the tale.  The illustrations are beautiful, quirky and detailing farm life.  This book will engage farm kids, who will view parts of their daily lives, and city kids, who will get a glimpse of a different New Zealand lifestyle.  It gives the messages of always trying your best in whatever you do and prejudging others is not good.  Quintessentially kiwi, this book delights every child who reads it.

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan


the shangai factorThe hero is an unnamed American spy recruited by a CIA-like agency after being wounded in Afghanistan.  Though he studied Mandarin in college he finds the only real way to learn the language is to live in China.  There he meets a beautiful Chinese girl, Mei, after se crashes into his bike with hers.  He suspects she’s a Chinese spy but begins a torrid affair with her anyway.

Then he goes undercover as the American ambassador for a massive Chinese multinational company learn the secrets of the CEO, Chen Qi, who is believed to be the front man for the Guoanbu, the Chinese intelligence agency.  The spy soon discovers his agency has many enemies and the Guoanbu may know his true identity.   Mei goes in and out of his life as he gets drawn into a deadly power struggle between his agency and the Guoanbu which could alter the East/West balance of power.

It’s well written and has the complex plot of classic spy thrillers but I just couldn’t get into it and gave up reading halfway through.  That’s just my opinion though, with others enjoying it.  If you like le Carre give it a go.

Head Zeus

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

The Wind City – Summer Wigmore

Posted: November 20, 2013 in fantasy, Review

Cover_AW_The Wind City_01.indd“Once Upon a Time” in Wellington… Actually its more “Lost Girl” in Wellington, since the urban fantasy elements here are the fairy folk of Maori mythology. They even have their own café! I’d been wondering when somebody was going to write an urban fantasy based around our very own mythical creatures and here it is. And it’s a whole lot of fun.

Wise-cracking main characters, one of whom is quite plainly off his rocker, and a keen sense of humour help a lot, as does the setting, firmly in the Wellington we know quite well (I’m no expert, Aucklander that I am). There are cracks though… some characters’ actions that simply did not make sense, in the context of what they could know at that point. The phrase “non sequitor” comes to mind. But I can ignore that in the rollicking pleasure of imagining taniwha and patupaiarehe in the context of modern day Aotearoa.

A couple of urban sprites made me wonder if Wigmore has come across the “Shadowrun” role-playing game. The people were interesting, too… Oh, and Maui, let’s not forget him, up to his tricks again. On balance, this book makes an excellent start to what will, no doubt, be an illustrious writing career, and I look forward to seeing what Summer does next.

Steam Press

Supplied by Steam Press

Reviewed by Jacqui

Starry Night – Debbie Macomber

Posted: November 18, 2013 in Review, romance

starry nightCarrie Slayton is a talented journalist frustrated at being stuck covering the society page for two years.  Promised a chance at covering serious stories when she started, Carrie is so frustrated she hands her resignation in and her boss promises she can write more meaningful stories – if she gets an exclusive interview with author Finn Dalton.

Finn is a world-famous novelist and very reclusive, living in the Alaskan wilderness.  Many journalists have tried to find him but always reach a dead end.  Carrie is determined to succeed though – this story could make or break her career.  Finn enjoys his solitude, living a hermit like life with his big shaggy dog Hennesey.  He doesn’t trust women as they all manipulate men to get what they want.

I like how Finn just wrote his book to show people how cool it is to be outdoors doing stuff, instead of inside watching tv or playing computer games.  This is a sweet romance, no sex just a lot of emotional moments.  This is a Christmas story with an emphasis on family, friends and having a loving heart.  And it has an adorable dog.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Redshirts – John Scalzi

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Review, science fiction

redshirtsAs a preface to this review, I will point out that if you are happy to read books in electronic form, it might well pay you to sign up as a supporting member of the WorldCon. You’ll get five each of novels, novellas and so on, delivered to you in your voting packet. They’ve all got through the Hugo nomination process, which means they’ve been chosen by fans as the best of the previous year’s SF&F. And, of course, you’ll get to vote on the Hugos. What more can you ask for?

As it happens, I voted for “Redshirts” and it did in fact win the Hugo for Best Novel. However, I will admit that I hadn’t actually had time to read the whole thing before voting – just the first chapter or so. That was enough to convince me that this was the deserving novel – clever, funny and a witty satire on a certain TV space opera. But, as I read further, I realised that it’s a whole lot more than that. It’s about the relationship between reality and fiction, and puts a whole new and decidedly science fictional twist on breaking the fourth wall.

Yes, at times it does seem a bit contrived, and as if Scalzi is trying just a bit too hard, but he can be forgiven for that in the sheer exuberance of writing something innovative and unlikely to be ever copied.


Supplied by Tor for Hugo Awards Voting Packet

Reviewed by Jacqui

Like This, Only ForeverFour young boys have disappeared, their bodies turning up drained of blood.  Is a vampire killing them?

Barney knows the killer will strike again and is determined to stop him before the next boy goes missing.  He’s been studying the case for months and is determined and methodical.  He’s been methodically searching for his mum for years as well, placing ads for her in each paper in London.  His dad had told him she’d gone away for a bit when he was four and she’d never come back.  After finding out what his neighbour Lacey does for a living he asked for her help.

Lacey is haunted by events on her last case and considering leaving the force.   She is avoiding her colleagues and having time off.  Asked to help on the task force set up to catch the vampire killer she refuses, but finds herself involved in the case due to Barney’s investigation.  Then another boy goes missing…….

The sixth book featuring DC Lacey Flint and DI Mark Joesbury, you don’t need to have read the previous books to appreciate this – I hadn’t.  I really want to know details though, like how Lacey became friends with a serial killer, so will hunt them out.  A very very clever plot and interesting motives, I figured the first suspect too obvious to be the killer and the same with the second – for a while.  The thirsd surprised me and the fourth was a total surprise.  A really chilling ending.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Mea’ai Samoa – Robert Oliver

Posted: November 12, 2013 in cookbook, Review

meaai samoaBeautiful islands… beautiful book… This is a celebration of Samoa and Samoan cooking, one of those cookbooks that are lovely to look at, and a pleasant read, even if you never cook any of the recipes. The author does have an agenda though; to teach us about traditional Samoan cooking and to show how it is being pulled with surprisingly little screaming into the healthier ways of the twenty-first century. It’s not hard to be “organic” when you never really got into the factory farming business!

The recipes form the latter two thirds of the book, divided into sections mainly by source; beginning with traditional recipes from the Samoan village, through recipes from modern Samoan housewives, restaurant recipes, and ending up in the Samoan community in Aotearoa and finally new recipes for a healthier Samoa.

Now, the challenge for the New Zealand cook attempting these recipes is going to be getting the ingredients, some of which do not travel well. Sometimes substitutes are suggested, and there is a list of online sources, but I suspect that I’m not going to do a whole lot of cooking from this book. That said, I’m tempted by the coconut oil hummingbird cake, especially for an Island themed party!

However, that’s not really the point of this book. It’s more about telling the world about a cuisine which is frankly not well known outside the South Pacific (do not get me onto the subject of the Las Vegas “Luau” and American ideas of Island food). And it has to be an inspiration to Samoan cooks to use their ingredients in new and healthier ways. Which cannot be a bad thing.

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui