Staff reviews

What do they read?

Reviews from our library team

summertime Summertime  by Vanessa Lafaye

A group of homeless, jobless WW1 veterans, denied the bonuses promised by the US government, seize the opportunity to join a public works project in the Florida Keys where racial tension is still high. They are isolated from the small community there as they are regarded as dangerous and unruly. One of the veterans was a former local and has returned a broken man, preferring the company of his comrades and the squalid camp conditions than reconnecting with his family and a former sweetheart, Missy. But Missy has never let go of the hope that they will be together. When nature’s fury is unleashed on them in the form of the greatest hurricane ever to strike America, everyone’s life is at risk and survivors are few.

Based on true events, this story is peopled with rich characters in an amazing location in both time and place.  Joanna

street-cat-named-bob A street cat named Bob by James Bowen

I was initially drawn to this book as he looked so much like our old cat Andy;  a ginger cat of great character.

James Bowen is a former heroin addict busking in London when a stray and injured tom cat comes into his life.  This is a special and mutual relationship which turns both of their lives around. Bob is a truly remarkable cat, accompanying James and drawing crowds.  It won’t turn you in to a cat person if you are not one, but it is a great story of the human spirit. When James claims that Bob saved his life it is absolutely true.

With the movie being released in November, this book is likely to be very popular again. In the movie Bob actually plays himself and is trained by James. I rely on this film to melt the heart of the 4th member of our household and a unanimous decision can be made to find another ginger cat!   Mark


Alice, what have you done? the case of Alice May Parkinson

by Carol Maxwell

I came across this book being discussed on Radio New Zealand in a series Black Sheep. Alice Parkinson  in 1915 was  without doubt the most talked about woman in New Zealand. Her murder  of the man who promised  to marry her (after the stillbirth of  their illegitimate child) and attempted suicide led to a national outpouring of sympathy. This was helped in great part by the story of this wronged country girl being let down by a “rotter”  being carried as a lead story in the New Zealand Truth. A petition in respect to her  sentence of life imprisonment and hard labour signed by 100 000 ultimately led to our right for the decision of judges to be appealed;  and in Alice’s case released in 1921.

The twist in this story is the book came from a play the author had written. For Carol Maxwell, the question of what became of Alice always drew a blank. A call days out from opening night,from a man who said Alice was his mother, told the rest of her story. She had married and had 6 children. They knew something bad had happened in their Mother’s past, but none of this.  Mark

what-abi-taught-us What Abi taught us by Lucy Hone

Lucy's 12-year-old daughter, Abi,  was killed in a car accident. Lucy tells us about the impact of this devastating loss on herself and her family. Most of all, Lucy talks about her own knowledge in the field of resilience psychology, and through her own tragic, personalized experience is able to put theory into practice.  To read Lucy's ongoing journey with love and loss, and to find out about people and practices that have helped her, has helped me along my own family's journey.   Joanna


Sicario DVD

Gripping! A violent insight into the relentless drug wars between the United States and Mexico.
No happy ending but well worth the watch.



Real modern by Bronwyn Labrum
Every New Zealand in the 1950's and 1960's

This is to me the ultimate coffee table book but more than this, the text is great as well. Describing our way of life it’s full of fashion and objects and events that are so familiar to those of us who lived through this period. Crown Lynn, Jungle Gyms, Pea –Pie-Pud, Miss Caroline Bay, The Murder House, Sunlight Soap, Masport mowers , NAC, Health Stamps, Buzzy bee, Edmonds Cookery Book, Yates Garden Guide... You are guaranteed plenty of "I remember we had one of those” moments, in fact you may still have it in the garage or the back of the cupboard . Mark

The trivia man

The trivia man by Deborah O'Brien

Meet Kevin

Kevin is a Forensic accountant, though much more accountant than forensic. His passion is though is trivia. All his life he has collected and collated data and information.His sister Elizabeth of course thinks he is “weirdo” and is increasingly concerned her 8 year old Patrick son may have inherited some of her brothers traits. Her husband is less concerned. Kevin’s true passion is Trivia nights where as a one man team he brings home the trophies to place in his cabinet.

Then one night Kevin is head-hunted at the Clifton Heights Sports Club Trivia Competition. He would of course not normally do this, until he meets Maggie a latin teacher in the team.Maggie has her own concerns catching up with “Dr Josh” her former and now famous celebrity) partner, who she still holds a candle for; and Kevin seems to have a girlfriend. But little does she know how doomed this hardly begun relationship is.This is a clever Australian novel based around a season of trivia, it will keep you smiling and wondering right to the end what is the outcome going happen to Kevin, Maggie and the other team members. And if you love Trivia you’ll enjoy it too. Doesn’t give you all the answers but there’s always wikipedia. Mark

The sudden departure of the Frasersd Sudden departure of the Frazers by Louise Candlish“My name is Amber Fraser. I've just moved in at number 40 Lime Park Road. You'll come to think of me as a loving wife, a thoughtful neighbour and a trusted friend.
This is a lie.”
When Christy and Joe Davenport are handed the keys to Number 40 on picture-perfect Lime Park Road, Christy knows it should be a dream come true. Strange, then, that the house was on the market for such a low price. That the previous owners, the Frasers, renovated the entire property and yet moved out within a year. That none of the neighbours will talk to Christy.
As curiosity gives way to obsession, Christy finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery of the house's previous occupants…
Gripping and absorbing – this is “Desperate Housewives” set in a well-heeled London street. Jenny

Acillary-justiceAncillary justice by Ann Leckie

On a remote, icy planet, Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship and an artificial intelligence controlling thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. But that might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her.

A fast paced story with lots of richly imagined detail and original ideas. This is a must-read space opera. Jenny

Carrying-Albert-homeCarrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, his Wife and her Alligator by Homer Hickam

In 1930s America, Elsie Lavender after trying to escape found herself back where she began, in the coalfields of West Virginia. She had just one memento of her halcyon days - a baby alligator named Albert. Then one day, her husband's stoical patience snapped and Elsie had to choose between Homer and Albert. She decided that there was only one thing to do: they would carry Albert home to Florida. And so began their odyssey - a journey like no other, where Elsie, Homer and Albert encountered everything from movie stars and revolutionaries to Ernest Hemingway and hurricanes in their struggle to find love, redemption, and a place to call home.

This is quirky storytelling at its best - think Forrest Gump in book form. Jenny

As-you-wishAs you wish: inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Written by Westley himself this book gives a wonderful insight into the making of a film that has become a classic. There is also plenty for those who are interested in the process of acting and film-making.

Just like the film this book is witty and warm. It will leave you wanting to watch the film again and read the original story by William Goldman… both of which are available from the library. Jenny

TThe-royal-wehe royal we by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

A fictionalized story based on the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton. In this version American Bex meets Prince Nicholas while studying at Oxford.  Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows.

A glamorous fairy tale with biting humour, this is a fun holiday read but also an interesting critique of what happens to people in the media glare. Jenny


The road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

It took me longer to read this book than it should have because I had to keep reading bits aloud to explain why I was laughing.

Bryson's sense of humour appeals to me, but I have found some of his recent books a little ponderous. This one returns to the travel format where his eye for the quirky detail works well. Now a grandfather, Bryson is not so adventurous as in his youth. This trip is a somewhat fragmented journey from south to north in Britain, revisiting some places from his earlier book 'Notes from a Small Island'. There is plenty of laugh out loud sharpness, but also quite a bit of padding. It is energy funny non-stop, though Bryson can still manage plenty of it.

This book is definitely worth reading if you have enjoyed Bryson's earlier work, and also if you have travelled in Britain, as you will recognise plenty of places and encounters. Not as consistently funny as 'The life and times of the Thunderbolt kids', but less of a research project than 'At home'.

Little-black-liesLittle black lies by Sharon Bolton

Set in the Falkland’s, this is an intricately plotted thriller. It follows Catrin Quinn who works in conservation but her only goal in life is to wreak revenge on her ex-best friend, Rachel. Into this mix several children go missing and the close knit community is forced to face up to the fact that there may be killer in their midst. The story is told by three different characters each adding their perspective to the story.

I found this a gripping tale where layer by the layer the truth is revealed but the real star is the setting - Sharon Bolton paints a fascinating picture of the Falkland’s environment and community. Jenny

H is for HawHawkk by Helen MacDonaldI found this an absorbing and unusual book. Helen MacDonald, a keen falconer from her childhood, gets a young goshawk to train after the sudden death of her beloved father. We follow the gradual progress of training this bird, and the progress of her journey through grief. She also adds another level with reflections on a book about training a goshawk by T.H White (author of The Once and Future King)I knew almost nothing about falconry before reading this book, but the author brings the birds and their world vividly to life. I engaged with her personal journey and was kept turning pages to find what happened next.

If you like this you’d also enjoy The sound of a wild snail eating by Elisabeth Bailey. Pat

FunnFunny-Girly girl by Nick Hornby

This is the story of a young woman, whose ambition in life is to be a comedienne like Lucille Ball. Barbara and her dad watched all Lucille’s TV shows when she was growing up and now it’s the 1960s and Barbara is off to London to get herself a job. Not just any job, it has to be as a TV comedy actress. Nothing is as easy as it sounds – even her name is “wrong” for TV apparently. And so Barbara becomes Sophie Straw and “Funny Girl” is about her career in TV and the people she meets and works with. It’s a funny book whose characters I really enjoyed reading about. I’ve never read any Nick Hornby books but I will be looking out for more now.Sally


The honey guide by Richard CromptonA new detective series with a difference. Set in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 – it is anchored in a time of rigged elections, political unrest and ethnic tension. Detective Mollel, a former Maasai warrior is investigating
the murder of a prostitute and gets drawn into a web of corruption and local politics.

Interesting characters + fascinating insights + good writing = great read.

Spindle’s end by Robin



An exceptional retelling of  Sleeping Beauty which takes the reader into a magical world. Rosie is very ordinary. No-one, not even an extremely powerful and evil fairy who is out for the princess's blood, would give Rosie a second glance. But curse placed on her at her christening will hunt her down through the years and at some point a princess must become a queen…

The highlight for me in this book is the world that Robin McKinley has created – it is beautifully and vividly described and becomes like an extra character.

The ice twins by S.K. Tremayne The-ice-twins

Moving to a tiny Scottish island a year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah are shattered when their surviving daughter 
claims they have mistaken her identity and that she is actually the twin they believed dead.
Struggling with her concern for her daughter, her isolation and increasing doubts about her husband, Sara is tortured by the past and about what actually happened that fateful
day when one of her children died.

A creepy psychological thriller with plenty of secrets and lies which are slowly revealed.