Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself. Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian

EL James

Vintage Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Donna

Another amazing book by EL James.

Having read the original trilogy (from Anastasia perspective ), I found this book interesting. Hearing the story from Christian’s point of view has provided more in-depth understanding of the history, emotions and greater perspectives of the characters’, especially Christian’s.

The book follows the same time frames as the original trilogy. I look forward to the next instalment.

I would recommend this book. Especially to Fifty Shades of Grey fans.

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Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…
Malcolm’s father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; an Egyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

David Fickling Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Hands up those who wanted a Lyra Belacqua origin story? Philip Pullman has returned to the world of His Dark Materials and delivered one. But apart from being a vehicle for dragging the other characters in, Lyra doesn’t do much sleep, soil herself and feed, mostly because she’s a baby.

Malcolm Polstead, the son of Oxford inn owners, is drawn into a conspiracy because he’s observant; Malcolm’s trick is he notices detail. He’s not a big cog in the conspiracy, but he becomes an important one due to circumstance. This plays out large at the end of the novel. But that’s getting ahead and may even be a spoiler.

The action mostly takes place in the small confines of Malcolm’s world: his parents pub, his school, the priory over the river where Lyra is sequestered. For most of the story, the point of view is Malcolm’s. Occasionally it switches to Dr Hannah Relf, an Oxford academic and member of the liberal conspiracy, Oakley Street. Like Malcolm, she’s a minor cog, but she works with the alethiometer, often on Oakley street business. The world has taken a conservative turn, and the Church is pushing hard against its enemies. Naturally, Lyra’s parents make their separate entrances and in much the way they are initially presented in Northern Lights, Lord Asriel as a benign presence and Mrs Coulter as malign.

This book is the first of Pullman’s new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Pullman’s style is suited to the young adult or older child. The language is about that of the average 10-12-year-old, but I was surprised to see one expletive, even though it was in character. I liked the characters -immensely, especially Malcolm and his sparring partner Alice. Whether they both feature in the sequel can only be guessed. The main villain was very threatening, and making his daemon a hyena heightened his menace. The only thing I found a little unreal was the flood inundating the Thames’ valley.

I enjoyed this book and want to get hold of the sequel the moment the proof copies are produced.

The first novel in a compelling dystopian series, co-authored by Tom and Giovanna Fletcher. What if the fate of humanity was down to you?

They had predicted the end of the world would be epic – a nuclear war, a plague, an asteroid. But it came with a whisper, not a bang.

For over fifty years, no girls have been born – only boys.

The youngest and last generation of women alive are now in their fifties. Not only are their looks fading, but these greying women are humanity’s only hope for survival.

Until there is sudden hope: a girl is born. And in that moment, she instantly becomes the most important person in history.

She is their saviour.

Her name is Eve.


Penguin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Ahh young love, what could be more beautiful or exciting … only freedom.  In Giovanna and Tom Fletcher’s first foray into co-writing for a YA (young adult) audience, Eve of Man explores the idea of ‘what if you were the last woman on earth’. This novel could have been an opportunity to explore ideas of equal rights or gender roles in society, but instead the Fletcher’s focus their narrative on the power of lies. An event that so recently has victimised our own political world.

Eve, the main character, has spent her life protected in a gilded cage at the top of the tallest tower, not totally unaware of the lies that have entrapped her.  It is only with age that experience teaches Eve to take every opportunity to find the truth in her world, no matter the risk. But she is not as alone in her risk taking as she thinks.

With reminisces of Rapunzel meets The Handmaid’s Tale, this novel is the beginning of an epic journey to save the humanity from extinction. It is clear that the authors are appealing to their audience through a ‘boy rescues girl’ trope, with an illusion that Eve is the one in control of her own fate, however, there is nothing wrong with having hope that the future will be better for all of us.

When nine-year-old Kelly Wilson outgrows her pony, her mum surprises her with a beautiful steel-grey mare that she spotted trotting down the street, tied to the back of a truck. But there’s a catch. Cameo has never been ridden!

While her sisters Vicki and Amanda are jumping higher than ever before, Kelly must face her fears on an untested pony. Will Cameo ever be ready for competitions? And will the girls’ ponies hold their own against the purebreds at the Royal Show?

A sequel to Dandy, the Mountain Pony, this exciting story of setbacks and success, in which Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson first experience the thrill of serious competition, is inspired by the Wilson sisters’ early years.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zeal.and

Reviewed by Maree

Another in the series by Kelly Wilson of the Wilson sisters who starred in Keeping up with The Kaimanawas. A family who have devoted their life to horses, show jumping and advocating for wild horses around the world, taming and raising awareness about the plight of the American Mustangs and Australian Brumbies and specifically the beautiful wild Kaimanawa horses near their home. They also run Showtym Camps, riding camps for young riders.

 The sisters rescue and tame wild horses and this book, written at a young adult level is loosely based around a story from Kelly Wilson’s childhood. A street pony is one literally bought off the street. However good looking and healthy, this is an untried pony that may not take to competitive showing. Especially when it turns out that Cameo the pony has never been ridden!

Kelly has to train Cameo to be ridden and compete from scratch. Fortunately most horses in a proper, caring, training environment, enjoy learning and love showing off. But will Cameo ever be ready in time for the competitions where she and Kelly will be up against purebred ponies that have been doing this for years?

I really enjoyed the story. It was a good example of how you need to keep trying and very cool to see the trust grow.   I enjoy the Showtym Adventures and look forward to the next.

When nine-year-old Kelly Wilson outgrows her pony, her mum surprises her with a beautiful steel-grey mare that she spotted trotting down the street, tied to the back of a truck. But there’s a catch. Cameo has never been ridden!

It’s been five hundred years since the end of the world and society has rebuilt itself anew. The old Norse gods are no longer revered. Their tales have been banned. Magic is outlawed, and a new religion – the Order – has taken its place.

In a remote valley in the north, fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith is shunned for the ruinmark on her hand – a sign associated with the Bad Old Days. But what the villagers don’t know is that Maddy has skills. According to One-Eye, the secretive Outlander who is Maddy’s only real friend, her ruinmark – or runemark, as he calls it – is a sign of Chaos blood, magical powers and gods know what else…

Now, as the Order moves further north, threatening all the Worlds with conquest and Cleansing, Maddy must finally learn the truth to some unanswered questions about herself, her parentage, and her powers.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

I was somewhat surprised to be sent what is a sequel of sorts to The Gospel of Loki, because when I reviewed that work back in 2014, I made it quite clear that I didn’t think much of it. But, in my opinion, Runemarks is a far better book, and far more enjoyable. There are far fewer jarring anachronisms, and the story is much stronger in many ways.

That story is set in an indeterminate future, five hundred years after Ragnarok. Maddy Smith has a ruinmark on her hand, and runes signify magic. But the Order is deeply opposed to magic of any sort. You can see where this is going… I have to say that I am heartily tired of the “Organized Religion is a front for Evil” trope, but it is pivotal to the story in this case, and that story is both well-structured and entertaining. Of course the Norse gods are meddling in human affairs again, but there is a lot more to it than that, lots of plot-twists and deception, and it all comes together in a spectacular climax. Or almost, because I suspect that the author loses control around about there, and some things don’t quite work. But there are some fine ideas on the nature of Order and Chaos, and of Hel itself. The prose flows, and produces some very quotable lines…

“So what you’re saying is . . . I shouldn’t play with fire,” she said at last.
“Of course you should,” said One-Eye gently. “But don’t be surprised if the fire plays back.”

So what we have here is a well-written, cleverly plotted Norse fantasy with just a touch of satire. A B+ this time, I think!

A Maori Word a Day offers an easy, instant and motivating entry into the Maori language. Through its 365 Maori words, you will learn the following:

– English translations
– Word category, notes and background information
– Sample sentences, in both te reo Maori and English

Exploring the most common, modern and contemporary words in use today, A Maori Word a Day is the perfect way to kickstart your te reo journey!

Raupo

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Lee Murray

I was delighted to review copy of A Māori Word a Day by Auckland University teacher and translator, Hēmi Kelly. A Kiwi writer myself, I’m keen to include more te reo in my work, so this one-a-day teaching tool comprising a selection of commonly used terms looks to be the perfect text to keep on my desk. The beginning of the book includes information about pronunciation and there is a handy index of all the 365 terms at the back. In between, each page is dedicated to a single word arranged alphabetically and printed in bold 14-point text with the English definition printed below. The text is surrounded by lots of white space to make the word pop. Finally, each word is used in three sentences to highlight its meaning(s).

But what’s interesting about A Māori Word a Day is the cultural story the words tell when viewed together with their definitions and their explanatory example sentences. For example, the first word in the book is yes, which makes sense since it provides an affirmative start to the book and to our learning. It’s a simple word; one we use multiple times a day. And surely it is culturally significant that when we turn to page 2, the second word is ice-cream? With a strong dairying history, New Zealanders certainly love their ice cream. Day 7’s lesson is an eye-opener. The word is arā, which I gather is somewhat like the French term voilà, meaning there, over there, there it is, there they are. But it’s the explanatory sentences which are the most revelatory:

Kei hea te raumamao? Arā, kei mua i tō ihu!

Where’s the remote? There, in front of your nose!

Arā tō tatou waka.

There’s our ride.

Arā te waha papā e haere mai ana.

There’s the big mouth, heading our way.

“There’s the big mouth, heading our way.” Already, I’m getting the feeling that Kelly loves the language and wants us to have fun with it. I particularly loved page 194 where the word is pani ārai rā or sunblock and the sample sentence is:

Pania tō mata kit e pani ārai rā, kei rite koe kit e koura.

Put sunblock on your face or you’ll end up looking like a crayfish.

Sometimes though, the lesson is sombre, for example on day 38, when we learn the word hiko:

I a au e tupu ake ana, karekau he hiko i tō mātou whare.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have power in our house.

This page includes a tiny vignette where we learn that the word ‘hiko’ or lightning, became the word for electricity when electric lights were introduced to the country in the nineteenth century. There are several such vignettes in the book, either to provide some social and historical context, or just some helpful tips. In Māori trousers (tarau) and hope (tūmanako) are always singular, for example.

But Kelly’s choices affirm that the language is alive and modern, like this helpful sentence on page 22:

Tonoa mai au hei i te Pukamata.

Friend request me on Facebook.

And this one, on page 126.

Kua wareware i a au te kupu huna!

I’ve forgotten the password!

A Māori Word a Day won’t teach you Māori, but it might inspire you to kickstart your te reo journey, which, it seems, was Kelly’s intent all along. And on that note, I’ll leave you with the entry on page 337:

Whāia ō wawata kia tutuki rā anō i a koe.

Pursue your dreams until you achieve them.

Lee Murray is a ten-time winner of New Zealand’s prestigious Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her titles include the bestselling military thriller Into the Mist and supernatural crime-noir Hounds of the Underworld (co-authored with Dan Rabarts). She is proud to have co-edited eight anthologies, one of which, Baby Teeth, won her an Australian Shadows Award in 2014. She lives with her family in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Find her at leekiwi.info

Move over Star Wars! This is a superb space opera. Humans and hybrids and strange new creatures fight for survival on Earth and across the galaxies. A superb space adventure from a fresh new voice. In our future worlds the Administration rules the Sphere of Humankind, the Games Board sanctions and funds wars and conflicts, and the Haulers’ Collective roams the space routes like the caravanners of old. Marko and his crew of fellow soldier-engineers are sent to investigate an unknown planet. When they encounter strange artefacts and an intelligent but aggressive squid species, they are forced to embark on a perilous journey far from the Sphere. they will have to survive not only other alien encounters but also their own Administration’s deadly manipulations. Political factions and galactic media moguls vie for power … and money.

HarperVoyager Australia

Purchased from an Amazon Reseller

Reviewed by Jacqui

I suppose that’s what you get when you read an on-going series out of order. I read Onyx Javelin first, and I was confused when Marko and the Basalt crew turned up with little introduction. Well, here is the start of their story and it’s a good one. It begins on Nova Hawaii where a deep-sea survey identifies underwater ruins. Then the R&R base there is attacked by strange aliens from out of the sea…

Some of the characters, especially Captain Longbow, felt underdeveloped. Wheeler’s prose is not the best; it doesn’t always flow, and is occasionally stilted. But, I can forgive those flaws for the sheer exuberance of the author’s science fiction creativity that bursts from page after page.