Archive for June, 2019

Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Destined to destroy empires, the child raised in shadows made a promise on the day she lost everything: to avenge herself on those that shattered her world.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, and Mia must become a weapon without equal. Before she seeks vengeance, she must seek training among the infamous assassins of the Red Church of Itreya.

Inside the Church’s halls, Mia must prove herself against the deadliest of opponents and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Church is no ordinary school. But Mia is no ordinary student.

The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.
The shadows love her.
And they drink her fear.

Nevernight

Jay Kristoff

HarperVoyager

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve Litten

Mia Corvere, daughter of a patrician in the city of Godsgrave, has her privileged life and family ripped from her when her father is executed for treason. She escapes her own death to be raised by a man connected to the Red Church, a school for assassins. Mia learns and is finally apprenticed to the Red Church, though surviving the journey to its gates was more of a challenge than she expected. All the while, Mia seeks revenge on the triumvirate responsible for her situation.

Thus unfolds an interesting and well told story, which owes more than a little to Baroque Italian city-state politics. Godsgrave has the feeling of Venice, with a bit of Florentine infighting thrown in. The world beyond Godsgrave, apart from the Red Church School, is almost entirely sketched. But this isn’t a problem as almost all the action takes place in three locations. The characters are generally believable, but most are a little two dimensional.

This is a complex story that either needed more than 400 pages to tell, or less padding of the main plot. Part of the problem is that there are about three separate plots going on, Mia’s revenge, a love story, graduation from the Red Church and a betrayal. Unfortunately, none was told well, though each was told adequately.

The setting was good, and the minimal magic enhanced the story. As did the politics of Godsgrave. I also enjoyed Kristoff’s footnotes, whereby he explains a story point a la Pratchett. A nice touch and often humorous. Nevernight is a good read but not a great read, though I do recommend it for those who like fantasy without demi-humans or much magic.

Advertisements

#15 in the multiple best-selling Ring of Fire Series.

It’s springtime in the Eternal City, 1635. But it’s no Roman holiday for uptimer Frank Stone and his pregnant downtime wife, Giovanna. They’re in the clutches of would be Pope Cardinal Borgia, with the real Pope—Urban VIII—on the run with the renegade embassy of uptime Ambassador Sharon Nichols and her swashbuckling downtime husband, Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Up to their necks in papal assassins, power politics, murder, and mayhem, the uptimers and their spouses need help and they need it quickly.

Special rescue teams—including Harry Lefferts and his infamous Wrecking Crew—converge on Rome to extract Frank and Gia. And an uptime airplane is on its way to spirit the Pope to safety before Borgia’s assassins can find him. It seems that everything is going to work out just fine in sunny Italy.

Until, that is, everything goes wrong. Now, whether they are prisoners in Rome or renegades protecting a pope on the run, it’s up to the rough and ready can do attitude of Grantville natives to once again escape the clutches of aristocratic skullduggery and ring in freedom for a war torn land.

1635: The Papal Stakes

Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon

Baen

Purchased from Auckland City Libraries Withdrawn

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

It’s always a nice feeling when you find something you really want to read on the library withdrawn shelf, and most anything published by Baen – certainly any of the 1632 series – comes into that category for me. 1635: The Papal Stakes is the third in the “Rome” or “Southern European” thread, following 1634: The Galileo Affair and 1635: The Cannon Law.

Those were complicated times without the introduction of a townful of modern Americans into the middle of what is now Germany. Some of those complications are far from obvious, like what should the Catholic Pope in 1635 do about decisions that the Catholic Church made much further up-time? Such as Vatican II? As a result, quite a few pages of this book are given over to theological debate… in between serious amounts of action involving protecting the Pope, hot-air balloons, and getting imprisoned persons out of the clutches of Cardinal Borgia…

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but this is a fine instalment in an alternate history series that I’m enjoying immensely.

A stunning collection of poems from one of New Zealand’s most respected writers.

David Eggleton wrote of Marshall’s poetry in the New Zealand Listener that, ‘Above all, the poems are redolent of the South Island – all wild winds and dry hills, sleepy summer afternoons, the shimmer of light on lakes, snow like whitewash on the Alps.’ In addition his poetry captures the voice and perspective of the South Island, whether it is contemplating family or friends, love or mortality, the local landscape or further afield, through place or time.

This collection brings together Marshall’s most powerful poetry from his previous three collections with many more recent works. They are complemented by photographs taken by his friend and fellow Mainlander Grahame Sydney.

Views From The South

Owen Marshall

Vintage

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

This is a hardcover, coffee table book which is a collection of poems from one of New Zealand’s best writers.  They all celebrate the South Island and are handily arranged in four groups – Nature and Place, Family and Friends, History and Art, and Heart and Mind.

The poems are about big life moments – birth death, war – as well as the ordinary moments – meeting again the girl you liked years ago.  ‘Blowing Up Frogs With A Straw’ lists the many ways the poem’s speaker experimented with killing animals as a child, though not anymore.

Having experienced no suffering of
my own, I dished it out with gusto.
Yes.
and now I wince to step upon a snail.

As a born and bred Aucklander, I found the prologue poem hysterical – ‘South Island Prayer’ begins with God / Don’t let me die in Auckland.

The stunning photography is by Grahame Sydney, a longtime mate of Owen Marshall and fellow South Islander.  The photos often complement the poem – like the full page photo of a tree covered in wet snow facing the sparse poem ‘The Big Snow’.  I wish the photos had identifying text though – it would have been nice to be able to pinpoint the snowy mountain’s location or identify the gorgeous beach.

This is a thoughtful and delightful book, with well crafted poems and beautiful photography.

What’s your vision of New Zealand?

An inner-city street in the rain, a campervan under a clear and starry night sky, a high-octane sport or a traffic jam of sheep? This book collects a range of personal views of Aotearoa from photographers, both amateur and professional, along with their thoughts on what makes New Zealand.

When Nikon invited the photographic community to build an image map of the nation online (at iamnewzealand.co.nz) there was an amazing response and many creative and inspiring photographs were posted. This collection offers a range of those that truly say I AM NEW ZEALAND.

All royalties from the sale of this book will go to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

I Am New Zealand

Aotearoa through many eyes

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Nikon invited the photographic community to do an image map of New Zealand.   A diverse group contributed, from a range of ordinary people – including an 11-year-old working on a therapeutic art project and a 15-year-old with a passion for mountain biking – through to photographers with decades of experience. Locals and tourists, enthusiastic amateurs and fully professional photographers made use of the technical equipment and skills at their disposal to produce amazing shots.

The book is arranged geographically starting with Te Paki and ending at Nugget Point. Each page is a sumptuous photo representing a place. Some are landscapes, some are macro’s of flora and fauna and some are beautiful moody studies; some with people and some not.

This is New Zealand.