What if the princess didn’t marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom? Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don’t need rescuing.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls reinvents fairy tales, inspiring children with the stories of 100 heroic women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams

Particular Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

A diverse grouping of one hundred women – from different backgrounds, religions, disabilities, ethnicities, sexualities – is featured in this collection of one page bios.  Each story is illustrated by a female artist from all over the world and all show how brave and determined these women were/are.

There are a few famous names – Michelle Obama, Malala, Venus Williams – but most are women I’d never heard of – a 19th century Colombian spy, the first female doctor in Mexico, an African woman who pretended to be a man to work in the mines, the first taqtooed lady in US carnivals.

This is a must read, not just for girls but boys too, my 60+ aunt couldn’t put it down.  It tells stories of strong women who had the courage to be a bit different and follow their dreams.  Each story being one page also encourages slow readers.

How this book was born is so cool.  The two authors are entreprenurers who understand how important it is for girls to grow up surrounded by female role models. It helps them to be more confident and set bigger goals.  They realized that 95% of the books and TV shows they grew up with lacked girls in prominent positions, so decided to do something about it.  They started a crowd-funding campaign, called for tales of inspirational women, and created Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.  Now Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is being vrafted and I can’t wait to read it.

This is the guidebook of Te Araroa: New Zealand’s Trail, a continuous trail running from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Thirty-five years in the making, the trail officially opened in late 2011. The book maps the 3000-kilometre trail in 40-kilometre sections, with maps by leading map maker Roger Smith of Geographx.

Author Geoff Chapple is a modern-day visionary who took the concept of a continuous trail running the length of New Zealand and turned it into a reality. Chapple, the founder of the trail, complements the maps with a running commentary describing the landscape, the flora and fauna encountered along the way, as well as the special features of particular parts of the trail. Photographs of the trail illustrate each section.

Each of the nine regional sections opens with a stunning 2-page 3D map. A short introduction describes the history of the trail as well as the variety of New Zealand’s landscape along the way: forest, farmland, volcanoes and mountain passes, river valleys, green pathways and the urban areas of seven cities. This book is an accessible guide both for those who only want to walk parts of the trail and dedicated trampers who intend to walk its entire length.

Random House

Supplied by Random House  New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

113 walks from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Does what it says on the box, er, cover. A great resource for all trampers and walkers in general, this book lists walks that you can do through urban and park landscapes to proper tramping walks on bush and coast, where you would need to gear up. Gives you a bit of the history about the track as well. It’s all part of a notional trail that goes from Cape Reinga to Bluff. You can walk it, this book shows you how.

 

Sharon Murdoch, 2016 Canon Cartoonist of the Year, is a bold new voice in New Zealand cartooning. As the regular cartoonist for the Sunday Star Times and the Press, she provokes and delights readers with her witty and often hilarious observations, and her hard-hitting and insightful social and political analysis.

In Murdoch, Melinda Johnston’s commentary sets the cartoons within their historical context, while her introduction locates the work within New Zealand’s cartooning history. Featuring over 150 full-page cartoons, which highlight the breadth and depth of Sharon Murdoch’s work, this book will entertain and educate any reader with an interest in New Zealand’s contemporary social and political history.

Potton & Burton

Supplied by Potton & Burton

Reviewed by Steve

As a working cartoonist, Sharon Murdoch has been around for over 20 years. As a political cartoonist, the timespan is considerably shorter. And as an editorial political cartoonist… Melinda Johnston provides the text that puts the selected cartoons in context – when a topic is hot, cartoons need no explanation, but several years later, even key players may need to be re-identified.

The book covers the range of Murdoch’s career: Munro the Cat from the crossword page of the Dominion Post, cartoons for the Xhosa Community and Child Development Centre when she worked in South Africa, commentary cartoons, and political cartoons. Her style is distinctive and more caricature than, say, Tom Scott or Neville Lodge who preceded her at the Evening Post.

What sets Murdoch apart from most other New Zealand cartoonists is both she is a woman and is of Maori, Ngai Tahu, descent. This gives her a different perception of events. Frequently, Murdoch will draw a strip cartoon, instead of a single frame, which allows a narrative instead of a one line. Again, this is a departure from the norm for political cartooning.

A book of cartoons is naturally going to be a quicker read than a series of essays. Johnston’s text is not intrusive and the selection of cartoons is good. I enjoyed the book immensely and recommend it to anyone.

Three thousand years ago a war took place that gave birth to legends – to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. It was a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War?

Now is the time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

Thrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For the Most Beautiful reveals the true story of true for the first time. The story of Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans’ High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus, who fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes.

Doubleday

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

This is apparently an attempt to write the events of the Iliad from the point of view of the female characters… to re-write an ancient story of war as romance. The problem with this is that Homer doesn’t give you a lot of female characters to work with. So the author decides to choose Krisayis (Chryseis) as her central character. The problem with this is that Chryseis has a tiny role in the Iliad with no connection to Troilus, and her story wasn’t developed into the romance of “Troilus and Cressida” until medieval writers got hold of it. So, we’re already several steps away from Homer.

And that was only part of what irritated me… Maybe it’s just that I’m not into love stories. Or maybe it was that the attitudes of the characters seemed strikingly modern. Or simply that I read too many of Mary Renault’s excellent historical novels when I was young, which set the bar too high. But I failed to get past the first few chapters of this work, before casting it aside in annoyance. I suspect others like it better, but for me it was definitely opportunity lost.

 

Ten Years have passed since the events of the Demon Child books that left the god Xaphista dead, the nation Karien without a religion or king, and the matriarchal country of Medalon ruled by men. But it is in the kingdoms of the south that things really heat up. When Princess Rakaia of Fardohnya discovers she is not of royal birth, she agrees to marry a much older Hythrun noble in a chance to escape the wrath of her “father”. Rakaia takes nothing but her jewels and her baseborn half sister, Charisee, who has been her slave, handmaiden, and best friend since she was six years old. And who can pass as Rakaia’s double.

These two sisters embark on a Shaksepearian tale of switched identities, complicated love triangles … and meddlesome gods. Rakaia is rescued on the road by none other than the demon child, R’shiel, still searching for a way to force Death to release her near-immortal Brak. Charisee tries to act like the princess she was never meant to be and manages to draw the attention of the God of Liars, who applauds her deception and only wants to help.

Then there is the little matter of the God of Music’s magical totem that has been stolen … and how this theft may undo the universe

..

Published by Harper Voyager

Supplied by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

I picked this book up with interest, knowing that I enjoy high fantasy, and it did not disappoint. I hadn’t actually read any of Jennifer Fallon’s work before, but that wasn’t a problem. I did have a bit of an issue half-way through when I realised that it wasn’t a novel complete in itself, but the first part of a trilogy. But, I got back to it and was pleased to find that the ending, although it clearly led in the direction of the next book, was still a satisfactory conclusion in itself.

The story focuses around two sisters from the harem of King Hablet of Fardohnya, one of whom is rather more royal than the other. Identities are switched and characters head off in different directions, only to find themselves embroiled in the same messy conspiracy. The villain here is undoubtedly quite mad, in more ways than one; and there is a sub-plot involving the Demon Child which I’m pretty sure will collide with the main plot at some point.

It’s complicated, and yet elegantly simple at the same time, and definitely goes somewhere. I finished the book, which is more than I can say for “A Game of Thrones”, and that has to be a good thing.

Wise, tough, heart-breaking, funny, this compulsive love story is about facing your demons.

Fifteen-year-old Rebecca McQuilten moves with her parents to a new city. Lonely but trying to fit in, she goes to a party, but that’s when things really fall apart.

I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. Especially since I was the new girl in town. Who would want to believe me?

Things look up when she meets gregarious sixteen-year-old Cory Marshall.

‘You’re funny, Becs,’ Cory said.
‘You have no idea,’ I said, and clearly he didn’t, but I was smiling anyway.
And after that, he was all I could think about.

Cory helps Rebecca believe in herself and piece her life back together; but that’s before he shatters it all over again . . .

*this book contains adult themes and is suitable for readers aged 16+*

Penguin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Trying to fit in to a new town, Rebecca goes to a party, gets drunk and goes for a walk on the beach to clear her head, when she is raped.  She doesn’t tell anyone as she fears being labelled a slut.  Her new cute neighbour likes her but he is friends with her rapist.  He can’t understand why she doesn’t want to go to places with him where she might run into his friends and thinks it is him that is the problem.

This was a tough book to read but but very well written and not graphic.  It covers the hard-to-talk-about topics of rape, self harm, and suicide in a natural way.  The main character got on my nerves after a while with the way she constantly put herself down, she annoyed me and I didn’t really like her.  But then again I’m not this book’s target audience and can’t relate to a lot of the aspects (thankfully).  I really enjoyed the ending – it as a plot twist I didn’t see coming.  I love endings like that!

This is a beautifully written book that deals with some serious issues New Zealand doesn’t really talk about.  It is well worth reading and I’m recommending it to my cousin’s daughters.  The contact numbers at the back for agencies that offer support for the issues raised was a caring touch.

The Dangerous Women anthology contains following stories:
– Introduction by Gardner Dozois
– “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie – A Red Country story
– “My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
– “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
– “The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
– “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher – A Harry Dresden story
– “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
– “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
– “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
– “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
– “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson – A Cosmere story
– “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
– “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman – A Magicians story
– “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
– “City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
– “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon – An Outlander story
– “Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
– “Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling – An Emberverse story
– “Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
– “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
– “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector – A Wild Cards story
– “The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire story

Published by Harper Voyager

Supplied by Harper Collins

Reviewed by Steve

While Gardner Duzois and George R.R. Martin are better known for fantasy/science fiction anthologies and writing respectively, they have collaborated here as editors of a collection that purports to be about dangerous women. The range of fiction collected is very broad – historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, crime, and fantasy/science fiction. Most of the authors I had heard of, but there were one or two new faces and they didn’t disappoint.

I could discern no obvious pattern in the ordering of the stories, which may have been intentional. Historical fiction camped by science fantasy and crime fiction. Which meant I had to at least sample the style if I wanted to do a good job of reviewing. As well as the volume’s introduction, each author and story was introduced. A good idea as I doubt any but the most vociferous reader would know all of the authors and their genres.

As with all anthologies, there were some stories I felt didn’t jibe, primarily from the historical authors – when writing about medieval royalty, historical reality has to be contended with. That said, historical fiction, and Carrie Vaughn’s Raisa Stepanova could loosely be claimed as such, also produced a couple of winners in the above Vaughn piece and Diana Gabaldon’s Virgins. Jim Butcher’s Bombshells was an excellent piece of urban fantasy, and also gives hope to every Harry Dresdon fan alive (and maybe one or two of the dead, it is fantasy, you know). And while George R.R. Martin is frustrating all by not finishing the A Song of Fire and Ice saga, he is at least still alive and whets our appetite with the final tale in the volume, a prequel in that universe.

I enjoyed the anthology