All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

February 9, 2016 Comments off

lost betweenAll That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster. Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2016.

My first Young Adult read after the holidays and it is a beauty and very perceptive. Set in the fells gullies and lakes of the English Lake District it is a story of modern life and it is a thriller. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat.

Georgia is 17 years and lives with her angst ridden mother Anya, her father Callum who has secrets of his own and her brother Zac who is loyal to Georgia but has a crush on his step cousin Maddie who is not a blood relative. It doesn’t end here. Georgia has a cousin Sophie her best friend and she has a secret too.

Georgia has a secret that no daughter wants their mother to know and is on the verge of telling Sophie when a car deliberately runs them down at night on the eve of a cross country race that Georgia is favoured to win. Ooh the tension!

Written from the point of view of all the characters mentioned above in consecutive chapters. The main plot and sequence of events is maintained and historical ones added to increase the drama.

Superbly written with the backdrop of the fells mountains, lakes and gullies of this Wordsworthian part of England.

I enjoyed it immensely and I would say teenage girls will too. But it would be wrong to say it is written for them, boys who pick this up will not be disappointed. There is a strong Mother and daughter theme and a reminder that you don’t realise how dangerous life can be until you have children of your own.

Another important theme of this story is how cell phones and social media can be used to make kids lives absolutely frightening. I am glad I have stayed well away from them.

I give this book 8 out of 10.


Gods and little fishes. A Boy and a Beach by Bruce Ansley

January 22, 2016 Comments off

godsGods and Little Fishes. A Boy and a Beach by Bruce Ansley. pub. Longacre, 2009.

i have read few memoirs that recreate the world in which I remember as a boy that are as good or as accurate as this one.

It creates the world of 50’s and 60’s New Brighton when it was the hub of Christchurch city on Saturday at least. It was a tough place with the rest of the city giving it a rough reputation and the locals believing it. Ansley describes  Seaview Road shop by shop and knew the owners and inhabitants as though they  were family.

He tells of his own family life, friendships, school life which were not unlike mine. The changes to Brighton’s fate is well documented with a sense that it is a waste of such a brilliant area.

Ansley not only tells his own story and a history of surfing in the region but has a fine wit and a superb command of the language. This is the sort of local history that is precious to the community it describes.


Oku Moe Moea. The Dream which is bigger than I am by Shona Hammond Boys

January 13, 2016 Comments off

dream biggerOku Moe Moea. The Dream which is bigger than I am by Shona Hammond Boys. Pub.BMS Books 2014

This book had to catch up with me eventually and now that it has I confess to reading it’s 80 odd pages twice with some sort of awe. It is about a young 8 year old boy who has rare vision and is gifted in ways that are hard for mere mortals to understand. He sees the world as one planet and the people as one people living in a globe of crisis.

The boy’s name is Victory and he is the only child that survived childbirth. His mother had 5 girls and 4 boys who are each buried under a rimu or totara tree. Victory is very talented at art, has learned to speak, read to a high level and comprehend deep philosophical concepts and kept it to himself.

He has a friend Legend, who is a sporty type, big and strong but understands Victory while protecting him from bullies and the like in his community. Victory’s father is a bushman and good provider and Victory is sent to a Children’s Art House school set up by the author of this book.

To tell you anymore would take the privilege of reading it away from you. I read it when I am assessing my own life in the wake of the death of David Bowie. This book will not change my life but it has given me a greater understanding of where Humankind is in relation to the condition of the planet and of civilisation.

A superb book for the gifted and thoughtful reader of any age.

Rubies in the Dust, Voices from Afghanistan Curated by Tariq Habibyar, Retold by Heather McQuillan.

January 11, 2016 Comments off

rubies dustRubies in the Dust, Voices from Afghanistan Curated by Tariq Habibyar, Retold by Heather McQuillan. Pub.

In 1971 I had the privilege of traveling through Afghanistan as part of my overland trip from UK to new Zealand. I found it a peaceful and private place and stayed one night in the town of Herat across the border from Iran, where the stories in this book are set

These stories mean something to me and I hope they mean something to you. There are six stories all told by children who have grown all their lives with war in their home country causing many Afghanis to become refugees in all parts of the World.

These stories all retold by Heather McQuillan after being collected by Tariq Habibyar are all very moving and show the bravery, the resilience, the suffering and the imagination of children living under hostile conditions.

The resilience and dedication of the boys to their families survival and the unbelievable bad treatment of girls is a sad indictment on the Taliban and the strict rule they enforced. The hope given to all Afghanis by the defeat of the Taliban is also reflected in theses stories.

The stories are suitable for primary, intermediate and high school students. Support this book if you can


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Detective Gordon: A Complicated Case by Ulf Nilsson Illus. Gitte Spee

January 8, 2016 Comments off

complicated caseDetective Gordon: A Complicated Case by Ulf Nilsson Illus. Gitte Spee. Pub. Gecko, 2015.

It’s just not possible to dislike this book about Detective Gordon who is a toad and his assistant Buffy the mouse. They are the police in a large forest and rule by the big Book of Law which says such things as “you can’t push a squirrel into the river” and more importantly you cannot tease other animals because it is hurtful.

Unfortunately there is a culprit teasing other animals and all is not well in the forest. Toad and mouse must investigate.

Perfect stories for the reader who is starting to read alone. Lots of fun, good values and at the bottom of it all some good common sense that everyone can learn from. For example ” everybody knows inside them what is right and wrong” how true. and for the adults who believe in freedom we have the advice given to Buffy the mouse by Detective Gordon when she becomes his assistant – Police must always tell the truth. Whatever happens!

Once again superbly illustrated  by Gitte Spee. The lonely sight of a hedgehog crying on a rock after being teased is very memorable.

You can’t beat a book like this. The first book in the series is reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

How to Be famous by Michal Shalev

January 6, 2016 Comments off

how to be famousHow to Be famous by Michal Shalev. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

Another stunning picture book from Gecko written on several levels for children and adults.

This is the age of the selfie and I am sure that if the pigeon in this story had a cellphone it would be full of selfies.

The pigeon crosses that fine line between confidence and self delusion. On the first double page spread  we see a typical pigeon hangout with a declaration of this is my family and we are all famous. The uncle was a bit of a rascal.

Then follows a two page history of famous relatives from the Ark to the great war. This is followed by a trip to the zoo where we learn of the pigeon’s  self obsessed fame leading to his unexpected demise.

Simple written text with superb pencil and watercolour illustrations. The crocodile runway is terrific.

if you miss this one you will kick yourself.

Reckless. My Life by Chrissie Hynde

January 3, 2016 Comments off

Chrissie HyndeReckless. My Life by Chrissie Hynde. Pub. Ebury Press, 2015.

This intelligently written and literate auto from Chrissie Hynde will rock you. It is not pretty it is not glamorous and it begins with a quote from Tony Bennett “Life teaches you how to live it, if you live long enough”.

Well Chrissie Hynde is still alive but there was a lot of carnage left behind and her own survival is quite remarkable as she tells in this exposee of the rock music world.

She opens with ‘here it is girls my reckless life’ and that is an understatement. She says it is about drugs and drug abuse and she is not wrong.The only thing she didn’t like about drugs were the assholes she had to hang out with to get them. She had tried LSD and hard drugs before she lost her virginity.

No parent wants to hear that their daughter or son went through all that Chrissie Hynde did and to her credit she waited until their departure from this mortal coil. to write it.

By her own admission she was a total prick when she drank and she didn’t think she was much of a guitar player or singer. She was wrong there of course, I remember how the Pretenders emerged out of the mire of punk music with their first album which was just divine. I still have the LP.

I highly recommend this book, the best from a rock star since the one by Marianne Faithfull also reviewed on this blog. In fact they tell a similar story. I would have liked to know more about the music she wrote and how songs came about. Songs like Kid, Private life and Brass in pocket need an explanation. The history of the Pretenders although short was a tragedy and is eloquently told.

The best thing I can say to Chrissie Hynde for this book  is “thanks for keeping it real”. Celebrities these days couldn’t write the way Hynde has. They are to into Instagram and twitter to write anything meaningful.



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