Archive for January, 2019

Since his mother’s disappearance four months ago, Riley has become increasingly frustrated by the incompetence of the police and apathy of his family and friends. In desperation, Riley turns to the Whispers, creatures of legend that he believes can grant him his heart’s desire. But Riley has secrets of his own – and finding the truth could cost him more than he is willing to give.
Time-Travelling with a Hamster meets Goldfish Boy in this stunning middle-grade story of belief and magic, a tender exploration of prejudice, grief and self-acceptance.

The Whispers

Greg Howard


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

It is difficult for anyone, let alone children, to talk about loss. It is an emotion we hold close so that we can keep going day after day. In Greg Howard’s novel The Whispers, eleven-year-old Riley’s life is already difficult before his mother disappears; he is being bullied at school and has a crush on an older boy. Unable to talk to his father, and feeling let down by the police, Riley decides to go in search of the magical fairies his mother told him about; fairies that will grant his wishes if only he leaves them a worthy enough tribute.

The Whispers explores the role of escapism as a way for young people to come to terms with experiences beyond their ability to resolve. Howard’s choice of a less familiar protagonist, dealing with familiar coming-of-age issues, reflects the needs of a wider community of young readers. This is a story that reminds us that we often blame ourselves for events out of our control and that emotional healing begins with self-acceptance.  A great book for our LGBTQ youth and wider community.

Homegrown Kitchen is a complete guide to eating well for those who love to cook fresh food. Beginning with a comprehensive section on the kitchen essentials, including sourdough bread, home preserving and fermentation, the book is then divided into breakfast, lunch and main meal chapters, followed by a chapter on indulgent sweet treats.

Inspired by her large garden, Nicola Galloway creates food in rhythm with the changing seasons, with fresh homegrown and local produce forming the base of her recipes. With a young family, her food focus is on simple and delicious family-friendly recipes using pantry staples that are packed with nutrients. Nicola also has a particular interest in healthful traditional cooking techniques, such as sourdough bread and fermentation, and simplifying them so they can fit into our busy modern lives.

Homegrown Kitchen

Nicola Galloway

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

“Yet another one of these trendy cookbooks for fussy eaters”, I thought when this book arrived for review. But it wasn’t, not exactly. The author got my attention in the introduction, where she explains that she had once followed a gluten-free diet, until she visited a Greek island where she was tempted to try some proper locally-made bread, and had no trouble digesting it. Her experience supports the theory that a lot of what people think is gluten-intolerance is actually a reaction to bread made by modern factory bread-making practices, and that if you make it yourself it will be more digestible.

Predictably, then, there is an emphasis here on making it yourself. And not just the bread, though there are some of the most exhaustive instructions for making sourdough I have ever seen. You can make your own nut butters to go with it. There is an excellent section on jams and pickles, including how to make sauerkraut and kimchi. There are recipes for home-made coconut yoghurt and nut milks that lactose intolerant people will find very useful (those things are excessively expensive to buy). In fact, this is the very book you need if you do have a food intolerance (let’s include veganism in that category) and a tight budget. Many, if not, most recipes come with alternative ingredients and variations to suit different requirements. It is all very healthy, but not in that preachy way that annoys people like me; more of a creative “you should try this” vibe.

The book is well-presented (Galloway is a truly talented food photographer) and sits nicely flat on the bench. And if you can’t find a recipe in the book, the beginning of each section suggests more to be found on the Homegrown Kitchen website. It’s all good, and there’s a lot of ideas here that I’ll be looking to try.

Unexpected. Unrequited. Forbidden. Eternal. Everyone has their own love story.

And in a twist of fate, four extraordinary love stories combine over the course of a romantic Valentine’s Day in Medieval England. Miles and Shelby find love where they least expect it. Roland learns a painful lesson about finding-and losing love. Arianne pays the price for a love so fierce it burns. And for the first -and last- time, Daniel and Luce will spend a night together like none other.

Lauren Kate’s FALLEN IN LOVE is filled with love stories . . . the ones everyone has been waiting for.

True love never says goodbye . . .

Fallen in love: Fallen #3.5

Lauren Kate

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

More tales from the world of the Fallen.

You really have to be a fan of the series to want or need to read tales of Miles, Shelby, Roland, Arriane, Luce and Daniel finding love on Valentine’s Day in Medieval England. This is fluff. Good decent fluff of the Fallen series but fluff.

If you are not familiar with the universe this book will not make a lot of sense, it gives a little bit of background for some characters, like how Arriane got her scars but that’s all.

A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.

One night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his uncle’s rambling home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

The Wych Elm

Tana French


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Sometimes there is a novel that is not there to entertain, or to enlighten, but rather to refract the complexity of life. The blurb will have to believing The Wych Elm is a crime thriller, which it is, but it is also a reminder that no matter how close you are to your family, or how many good friends you have, no one really knows what can push a person to do terrible things.

Tana French’s protagonist Toby Hennessy prevents the reader from ever getting too close to understanding him, as he is also unable to understand himself. Using repressed memories, a head injury, along with almost a conceited outlook on the world Tana French draws us into one preventable but inevitable event after another as Toby’s past and present violently collide.

At times it is difficult to like any of the characters, and suspension of belief is almost impossible, however, we are compelled to keep reading because The Wych Elm is not about a tidy happily ever after but rather it is about a universal truth; that we can survive almost everything, even the darkest part of ourselves.