Archive for January, 2015

A Lions Share

Abby Wade has a dangerous secret.

Two months ago, she disobeyed an order, but instead of kicking her out of the Pride, Jace offered her a job. Since then, she’s been battling a completely inappropriate crush on the young, hot Alpha. But when accepting his job offer seems like the only way to keep her skeletons safely in their closet, Abby doesn’t hesitate.

Jace Hammond has a big problem.

A rogue is slaughtering humans in his territory, and he must eliminate the threat before the entire shifter species is exposed. There could not be a worse time for Abby to accept a job he only offered as a boost to her confidence. Abby is smart, beautiful, and resilient—more than enough to distract any man from the mission. Unfortunately, she may just be the worst enforcer ever to hold the title.

As they hunt the killer, Abby’s secret becomes a threat to Jace’s authority and to her own life. But the real danger is the grip she has on his twice-shy heart.

Rachel Vincent is the author of the Shifters series and the Unbound series for adults, as well as the Soul Screamers series for teens.Rachel’s next young adult book is THE STARS NEVER RISE, coming from Delacorte in June of 2015, and her new series for adults will debut with MENAGERIE, coming from Mira books in the fall of 2015

Rachel Vincent is a former English teacher and an eager champion of the Oxford comma. She shares her home in Oklahoma with two cats, two teenagers, and her husband, who’s been her # 1 fan from the start. Rachel is older than she looks and younger than she feels, and she remains convinced that writing about the things that scare her is the cheapest form of therapy–but social media is a close second.

Author Links:

Rachel is also hosting a giveaway to celebrate the reveal:

Time and Time Again

TV comedy scriptwriter is what springs to mind when someone mentions Ben Elton to me. After that is: stand up comic and then writer of satirical novels. So when I sat down to read Time and Time Again I was anticipating either more biting satire or a gently droll piece not what I actually got, which is a serious science fiction work i.e. little or no humour. Reassuringly, Mr Elton has delivered a novel that does credit to him and the genre.

In the late seventeenth century Sir Isaac Newton, through his studies of gravity, determined that the for a brief interval of one or two seconds that time in 2025 would overlap time in 1914, thus making time travel possible. He entrusted these calculations to the Masters of Trinity College, Cambridge. Viewed from 2025, the twentieth century was a disaster and the opportunity to avert World War I is a golden opportunity and Hugh Stanton is the man chosen to make the journey. But after he starts his mission Hugh begins to question whether the mission was such a good idea – and then his life gets complicated.

Hugh Stanton is the appropriate choice for time travelling adventurer: a loner, with no attachments to the twenty first century, adaptive and able to blend into the crowd; and willing to go.

I enjoyed this story. The characters were well drawn, the culture shocks of moving from twenty first century Britain to early twentieth century Europe were nicely shaded and the reveal later in the book suitably handled. Mr Elton has a future outside of comedy.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Simon

Another review of Time And Time Again

the new patrol

After some R’n’R at home, 19 yr old Liam Scott returns to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty, this time with 4 Rifles company. No longer the new guy, he takes the lead to prove himself a leader. The warzone is dramatically different though and its rules have changed.

Liam’s patrol is working alongside the Afghan National Army (ANA) to train its troops to control the Taliban when the British withdraw, while facing daily attacks from insurgents. The Taliban always seem one step ahead of them though, could someone in the unit be feeding them intel?

Fast-paced and full of action, the book moves at a quick pace while being easy to understand. The characters are likeable and show the comradeship of soldiers in a warzone. The harsh realities of war are shown and it’s not glamorised but the story is still enjoyable. A quick, easy read that has plenty happening.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Two wolves

An old man tells his grandson that there is a battle raging inside him, inside all of us. A terrible battle between two wolves. One wolf is bad – pride, jealousy, greed. The other wolf is good – kindness, hope, truth. The child asks, ‘Who will win?’ The grandfather answers simply, ‘The one you feed.’

Thirteen year old Ben Silver makes stop-motion movies and wants to be a detective when he grows up. One afternoon, police officers show up at his front door and minutes after they leave, his parents arrive home. Ben and his little sister Olive are hurriedly packed into the car and told they’re going on a holiday. They speed away to end up in a very basic cabin in a remote setting, miles away from anything.

Ben soon realises that his parents are in trouble and gathers evidence to figure out what his parents have done. After finding an old Indian quote written down in his grandfather’s notebook, he faces a tough choice. After figuring out what his parents have done, does he feed the wolf by keeping the secret and living life on the run?

The plot was tightly crafted and moved along at a brisk pace, with information revealing itself so you gradually figure out what’s going on. This book kept me guessing until the very end and has a good right or wrong lesson. A good read for teens.

Random House Australia

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

bones never lie

Now, I enjoy the “Bones” TV series, so it stands to reason that I’d like the latest book in Kathy Reichs’ series of books featuring the forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan, and I did, but not for the reasons you might think. For one thing, it became quite obvious early on that the TV series and the book series have evolved in very different directions. These are not the novelisations of the TV programme, and the TV series is so loosely based on the books that Tempe Brennan can watch Bones on TV and be amused. There are major aspects of the book series that aren’t even touched on TV, like the Canadian connection. And of course the characters are different.

“Bones never Lie” is the story of a cold case, of a serial killer of young girls, and of how Tempe Brennan tracks down that murderer. Now, I must admit that I did accurately guess whodunit about half way through the novel, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not… Is it a sign that the author has dropped one too many breadcrumbs for the reader? Or is it deliberate? But that does not take away from the intense sense of verisimilitude one gets reading this novel. You see, Kathy Reichs is herself a forensic anthropologist, and is insistent on getting the science right. Which is something I appreciate. This is not science fiction, but it is fiction about science, and that works for me.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

My Story

The truth behind Louise Nicholas’ claims of gang rapes by policeman that was one of the biggest court cases in New Zealand.

It tells the story of a girl who was 13 when the abuse by policeman first started and continued throughout her teens and twenties. It shows how badly she was let down by authorities and the legal system and shines a spotlight on how rape survivors are treated.

I was on the fence about this story when it first broke and I’d like to say a huge sorry to Louise for my doubts about her. The back-story was hugely informative and the evidence suppressed! That was disgusting, it should have been admitted! I was left with outrage justice wasn’t served and sympathy for victims, their families, and all the genuine police officers and others who fight for the truth.

Now fighting to change the system to stop victim blaming and serve up justice in New Zealand courts, Louise and the Rape Prevention agencies she works with are amazing. She helped police set up a training program for officers to learn how to work with victims of sexual assault and campaigns for funding to support them. I don’t know how she isn’t huddled in a corner somewhere crying but Louise is a fighter, a truly inspirational woman who is a survivor.

I think this book should be a must read for every New Zealander, especially teenagers as they go through school. It certainly was an eye opener for me.

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

shopoholic to the stars


She moved to Hollywood with her husband Luke for him to work with a new client, actress Sage Seymour. Becky is determined to launch her career as a Hollywood stylist with Sage as her in and sets about doing what she does best – shopping. Being Becky, trouble soon follows her around.

Suze and Tarquin come to visit and Tarquin quickly falls under a new-age guru’s spell, leading to worry for Suze and tension between her and Becky as Becky is too involved in her fledgling career to help sort the mess out. Alicia Bitch Long Legs makes an unpleasant reappearance and Becky’s dad is insistent on her looking up an old friend.

Will Becky triumph in Hollywood?

Light-hearted and very funny, Shopaholic to the Stars is a good read that has plenty of laughs and stays true to the Shopaholic series. The ending is a cliff-hanger and the sequel is set in Las Vegas. I can’t wait to find out answers to questions like ‘we’re all called Becky’. A must read for fans.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

The Whispering Skull

There’s a lot to be said for reading children’s literature, especially when it’s this good! I enjoyed The Screaming Staircase immensely, and I found The Whispering Skull to be if anything, even better than its predecessor. There’s less need to explain what’s going on in the second novel of a series and so there’s more space for story. And it’s an engrossing and exciting story, a real page-turner.

It begins when something is stolen from a coffin – a very dangerous artefact; that has a nasty habit of killing anyone who looks into it. Lockwood and his friends are assigned the job of finding this missing object, which means finding who stole it, and what they’ve done with it. This brings them into contact with some interesting characters at both ends of the social spectrum of Stroud’s alternative London, not all them alive in any sense of the word…

Our ensemble of lead characters grow quite a lot in this novel, especially the nerdy George. In some ways this novel belongs to George more that it does to either Lockwood or Lucy (or the eponymous Skull, for that matter). He gets a lot of good lines. Mind you, the book is full of great lines; Stroud’s humour and skill with words is a wonderful thing. Some may question the validity of a world where circumstances place young people at the forefront of a war against menacing undead spirits, but there’s a long tradition of those meddling kids defeating adult treachery throughout children’s literature. Children love to read about other kids in heroic roles… it’s an empowerment thing, and that can’t be at all bad.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Review of The New Easy – Donna Hay

Posted: January 13, 2015 in cookbook, Review

The New Easy

It’s a recipe book for sure… a very short introduction and straight on into the cooking, but it looks and feels like a coffee table book. For one thing it’s rather large, heavy, and almost square. The sheer size of the book means that it does sit nice and flat on the kitchen bench, but it does make it a bit unwieldy to actually read. It is lavishly illustrated with huge pictures, and possibly a bit too much white space. There is an irritating oddity in the typography (since when did anyone mention typography in a book review?). For some reason the designer has chosen to emphasize words like “AND” and “WITH” in recipe titles with capitals, bold and underline. I don’t know if this is going to be a trend, but if it is, please stop it!

And so to the actual content. There are an abundance of interesting things to cook in this volume, divided into chapters headed “weekdays”, “weekends”, “salads and sides”, “baking” and “desserts”. As you might expect from Donna Hay, it’s a very fashionable collection – lots of pasta and rice dishes, not so much for the humble potato, which is a pity since it’s a major source of vitamin C. There are plenty of other vegetables though, especially in the “salads and sides” section. The “baking” section offers some inspirational ideas too, like the “salted caramel chocolate brownie” which was greatly appreciated by my family and friends. One of the cleverest concepts in this book is the “re-style” options for some of the recipes which demonstrate alternative ways of serving these dishes.

However, I’m not sure how well the recipes have been tested, which is a bit of a worry. For example, I just tried the chicken and mushroom pies – nice idea, a chicken and mushroom filling in a hot water pastry, and they were very tasty. But, the oven temperature is not given, and the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients in the pastry is simply wrong. I checked against the ever-reliable Delia Smith and she uses just 50ml of liquid to 1½ cups of flour, while Donna Hay has 500ml to 4½ cups of flour (with equivalent amounts of fat). No wonder I found myself adding more flour… I’m sorry, but that kind of thing is enough to make me wonder whether this book can be trusted.

Fourth Estate

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

fast good home cooking

I don’t know if it’s anything to do with my occasional comments that cookbooks need to be able to sit flat on the bench to be used, but I love the new sit-flat limp binding of Michael Van De Elzen’s new book. What’s inside is pretty good, too. This is very much a family cookbook – there’s a number of recipes aimed at children, even a small section on baby food (I never cease to be appalled at those rows of little cans of ‘baby food’ in the supermarket; come on, guys, it isn’t that hard to mash banana – and Michael’s recipes are certainly a bit more interesting than mashed banana).

I’m not sure that “Fast” is the right title for this book… the Sticky Ribs I made for dinner the other night take an hour to cook, involving three separate cooking processes. But they were truly delicious! (And fed the three of us, including the teenager, for just $5). “Good home cooking” is, however, entirely accurate. This is proper food, recipes that you can (and probably will) actually use in your home kitchen, with an emphasis on making it better for you with more fruit and more vegetables – Michael even manages to hide pumpkin in cupcakes!

The recipes are organised by meals or by themes, with big bold headings and lots of colour pictures. It’s a very modern-looking and stylish cookbook, but it doesn’t lack on substance. I particularly like the number of meals where elements like breads and drinks are made from scratch – although I would have made flour tortillas for the lamb tacos, because the mesa used in making corn tortillas is quite hard to find. There are plenty of ideas here to make lots of yummy and innovative foods and drinks, guaranteed to make the family happy.

Random House

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui