Archive for April, 2020

\Mystery and unsettling revelations keep up the suspense in this page-turning novel.

The last time I saw Sophie A, she was kissing James Bacon. She could have any guy she wanted, but she was kissing an English teacher who was eight years older than her.

Right back when Sophie MacKenzie started primary school, she was befriended by Sophie Twiggs and Sophie Abercrombie. Although they developed different interests, the threesome have stuck together through high school. But now Sophie Abercrombie is not just The prettiest Sophie, she is also The missing Sophie. As Sophie MacKenzie confides to her diary, Sophie A went missing sixty-four days ago and, despite police investigation, she has not been found.

The Trio of Sophies is no more.

A Trio Of Sophies

Eileen Merriman

Penguin NZ

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

The Sophies have always been friends.  All different – Sophie A is the pretty one, Sophie M is the brainy one, Sophie Twigg (Twiggy) is the sporty one – but they have a close friendship, bonded by having the same name in a Year 7 class.  Now in their final year of school, Sophie A has disappeared without a trace and the remaining Sophies bond is quickly unravelling.  The police can’t find her  and there’s just questions and anguish for everyone.

The story is told in by Sophie M diary form, starting from the 64th day that Sophie A has been missing and working backwards to the day she disappeared.  Then it chronicles day 65 and jumps forward to various dates from then on.  This was a new way of telling a story for me but it was so clever.  You quickly figure out the who, but the how and why are slowly revealed and as new details emerge, everything makes sense.  It’s only at the end that you realise how manipulative Sophie is and the very last page – wow!

This is a great story, full of tension and drama while featuring situations teens might face – abusive relationships being one.  The writing is just fantastic and draws you into the story.  I just couldn’t stop reading and devoured the book in a few hours.  Read from front to back, don’t give in top the temptation to skip ahead to day 0 or you’ll miss vital bits of the story.

I highly recommend this book to teens and anyone who wants  a great read that will keep you enthralled and on the edge of your seat.

The delightful rhyming story of Ruru and Kiwi, who host a midnight forest party for their friends, with award-winning illustrations.
The Ruru and Kiwi went into the bush,
wrapped snug in night’s velvety black.
They took some runny manuka honey
tied up in a flax-woven sack.
Drawing on a cast of nocturnal New Zealand creatures, with award-winning illustrations by Amy Haarhoff, Clare Scott’s story imagines Edward Lear’s famous nonsense poem taking place in a moonlit forest in Aotearoa.

The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi

Clare Scott & Amy Haarhoft


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Ruru and Kiwi decide to go into the bush ‘wrapped in the night’s velvety black’.  Kiwi was looking forward to having a picnic with ‘runny manuka honey tied up in a flax-woven sack’ they took with them.  Ruru suggested they invite all their friends to meet them as they had plenty of honey to share.

Hara and Pepeketua, Pekapeka and Titihai, Kakapo and Tuatara all came and had a marvellous feast, ‘they dined on worms and larvae that squirmed, sitting under a kauri in bloom’.

The story is charming and the words are so descriptive, with the paragraphs flowing well and having a beat when read aloud. The illustrations are gorgeous, very lifelike and fitting the story completely.  There’s a handy section at the back that identifies all the night creatures at the party and gives some information about them. I did have trouble reading the white lettering on a midnight blue background though my eyesight is not the best so maybe it was just me.

This beautiful book is available online at Fishpond, The Warehouse, Mighty Ape and will ship when we are in Level 3.

A gripping novel for young adults that captures both the daring and the everyday realities of serving in the Air Force during the Second World War.

Pete and Paul yelled together. ‘Bandit! Nine o’clock! Bandit!’
Jack spun to stare. There was the Messerschmitt on their left, streaking straight at them.

Eighteen-year-old Jack wanted to escape boring little New Zealand. But he soon finds that flying in a Lancaster bomber to attack Hitler’s forces brings terror as well as excitement. With every dangerous mission, he becomes more afraid that he’ll never get back alive. He wants to help win the war, but will he lose his own life?

Flight Path

David Hill

Puffin NZ

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Stephen Litten

Eighteen-year-old New Zealander Jack Sinclair arrives in England a few weeks before D-Day, 1944, as a member of a crew flying Lancaster bombers. His crew is nominally Kiwi, but there are 4 nationalities in the seven-man crew. The crew is green, and the first mission is a test for all. But soon they become veterans. At least with regards to war. In their personal lives, they are still mostly boys.

David Hill has written a good novel. Jack is the character of focus, and the point of view never strays. Hill captures the dullness of wartime rationed food; sausages and bread were renowned for being godawful. But there was the grey market, where farmers paid with produce. There was also the black market, which Hill flicks the curtain on. And we explore the various types of raids that the RAF undertook, and what could impede them because bombing required seeing the target.

Generally, Hill has done a good job. A couple of things grated with the rivet counter in me. First was calling some American bombers Super Fortresses. The Super Fortress was the B-29 bomber and was never used in Europe during WW2. It should’ve been the B-17 Flying Fortress. The other was American Tornadoes, which is completely wrong and I have no idea what plane David was thinking of. But he got right the camaraderie of a small team, and the bump that can occur if even one needs replacing.

I enjoyed this book, even if I am a few years outside the target market of young adult. Well paced, and the military actions being that dreadful mix of endless boredom punctuated by stark terror.

In the seventh Showtym Adventure, it’s a race against time for Vicki to find and train a brand new pony for the show season. Should she go for experience, or for potential?

When Vicki’s multi-champion pony is injured, she is devastated. It’s the beginning of the show season and the 14-year-old must find a replacement quickly — but no pony comes close to the one she has lost.

Then Vicki sees beautiful and inexperienced Jackamo. She senses he has star quality, and chooses him over proven ponies with years of show-ring success. With so little time, will she be able to transform Jackamo into a winner? Or has she risked everything on the wrong pony?

In a turn of events they didn’t see coming, Vicki, Kelly and Amanda face heartbreak and difficult decisions about the future in this story inspired by the Wilson Sisters’ early years.

Jackamo, The Supreme Champion: Showtym Adventures #7

Kelly Wilson


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Vicki’s pony Coolio is badly injured and she has to make a tough decision.  Then the hunt is on for another pony but Vicki is torn – she’s still grieving and not sure she’s ready for a new pony.  Then she meets Jackamo.

Vicki trains Jackamo for the competition season and soon has fun on him.  All the Wilson sisters adjust to having a new pony – after Vicki outgrows him, Kelly will ride him, then Amanda.  Then Christmas comes and their parents have a big surprise for Vicki and her sisters.  Another hard decision has to be made by Vicki, and then the Wilson’s receive an unexpected offer.  Will they make the right decision?

The real-life Jackamo’s story is explained at the back of the book, along with an introduction to characters.  Each book has a detailed guide on crucial lessons the Wilson’s have learnt.  The how to in this book explains how to ride a showjumping course and how the scoring system works.  A handy glossary explains some of the terms used in the story.  I really enjoyed the story and could relate to the story, as some of the hard decisions are the ones every pet owner has to make.  Any horse-mad girl needs to read this book.

Thirteen-year-old Sharlah Nash knows that the first time her brother killed eight years ago, he did it to save their lives.

Now retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife Rainie Conner have offered Sharlah a new life of safety. She desperately wants to believe this is her shot at happily ever after.

Then two people are murdered in their local convenience store and Sharlah’s brother is identified as the killer.

Telly Ray Nash is on the hunt for Sharlah and as the death count rises it becomes clear that nothing and no-one, including Pierce and Rainie, will stop him getting to her.

Now, Sharlah has one chance to take control.

She can run for her life… or turn and face the danger right behind her.

Right Behind You

Lisa Gardner


Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

A grisly murder occurs at the convenience store near the home of Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner.  Both retired FBI agents, they offer their help to the local sheriff to track down the gunman caught on camera.  The shooter turns out to be Telly Ray Nash, the estranged brother of their foster daughter Sharlah.

Telly Ray and Sharlah ere split up by foster services after their father murderer their mother, then was killed by Telly Ray.  After his foster parents are found dead, it’s thought he snapped and went on a rampage killing spree.  When recent photos of Sharlah are found on hisx phone, Quincy and Rainie know he’s coming for their daughter next.

I thought I figured out near the beginning of the story who the shooter was.  Then came new information that changed my mind to another shooter.  Then further in the story I went back to my original theory.  Then with more information, a new theory emerged.  A huge twist emerged at the ending when the shooter is revealed and it was an awesome twist.

It served to remind me you don’t second guess genius and that’s what Lisa Gardner is  – a genius at writing psychological thrillers.