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Keyword: ‘The Nature of Ash’

The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager

May 28, 2012 Comments off

The Nature of Ash by mandy hager. Pub. Random House, 2012.

Very powerful novel of a dystopian New Zealand in which many of the social, political, economic and family concerns of today’s world are extrapolated into the future. One of the themes  is “freedom has a very thin veneer if you look too closely at it”.

Teenager Ash loves his father and his down syndrome brother Mikey. When his outspoken Trade Union father is assassinated by a bomb all truth flies out the window. Who can he trust to find the truth?

It is world in which two big alliances are playing games with each other and New Zealand is but a pawn in the game. Our economy is controlled by the Asian United Peoples Republic and the Western Alliance of USA and Australia. The Prime Minister is corrupt, the police and army are controlled so that no-one knows the truth. Everybody is lying. Bread is 12 bucks a loaf.

When Ash’s father dies he discovers his mother is still alive and working for a terrorist group called Muru. Ash, Mikey and Asian girl Jiao go looking for answers in this action packed thriller. The ending will amaze you.

Senior secondary and young adult in appeal.

Ash Arising by Mandy Hager.

May 22, 2018 Comments off

Ash ArisingAsh Arising by Mandy Hager. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Nature of Ash reviewed earlier on this blog, is a powerful novel promoting peaceful means to solve political problems that have gone feral.

New Zealand is not a happy place led by a corrupt regime who rely on political and financial backing from the one-percenters who control the wealth of the Nation.

PM Bill Chandler and Police Commissioner Hargreaves have created a state where evil bastards who don’t give a damn about morals and rules are given free reign. The ruling political parties have manufactured political complacency by making politics so toxic that no-one wants to commit especially the young.

Ash, his Down Syndrome brother Mikey, ex cop Jeannie and her son Travis, plus lawyer Lucinda and a few others take the government the army and the police on, in this political thriller. It is not going to be pleasant and there is collateral damage. I hate that phrase. The positive is that the young are at the vanguard of the protest.

Added to New Zealand’s internal political problems is a rivalry between the two World Alliances The UPR and the WA who are playing silly buggers with NZers. It is all rather messy and it is great to read that one individual with support can influence and change the way the World thinks. The philosophy of Martin Luther king, Gandhi and other peaceful protestors is at the heart of  Ash and his friends protest.

A thrilling read for High school and Young adult readers. Mandy Hager writes this convincing story with aplomb. Once you start you won’t put it down.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 3: the Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood

May 18, 2012 Comments off

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Bk 3 The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood. Pub. Balzar & Bray, Imprint HarperCollins, 2012.

This book is a brilliant piece of writing. School Library Journal called it “Jane Eyre meets lemony Snicket”, but it is better than that because of it’s humour and savage satire of the Aristocracy in Britain in Victorian times and perhaps even today.

Not that children will notice this as they read, they will be caught up in the incredible story of the children Beowolf, Alexander and sister Cassiopeia, the Incorrigible children. Incorrigible in this instance means you cannot change their true nature.

The children were brought up by wolves in the forest on the estate of Lady and Lord Ashton, and they howl and bark from time to time. The Ashton’s take them on as a social duty and hire a kindly, intelligent young governess called Penelope Lumley. The children and Penelope have something in common as neither know who their parents were. This is one of the mysteries of the series.

Into the story comes the widow Ashton who like Lady Ashton is a complete airhead. Widow Ashton brings with her a suitor in the form of Admiral Faucet (pronounced Fawsay). He is a complete schister who does everything for personal gain unless he is forced to do otherwise.

There are wolves in it and an ostrich called Bertha. It is brilliant fun from start to finish and ideal reading for those who like lemony Snicket and shaggy dog stories.

Categories: Humorous Stories, Mystery Tags: ,

Five Go Gluten Free by Enid Blyton, Text by Bruno Vincent

August 20, 2019 Comments off

glutinFive Go Gluten Free by Enid Blyton, Text by Bruno Vincent. Pub. Quercus, 2016.

Satire can be wonderfully entertaining especially when applying modern day ethics and habits to the Famous Five. The Five are now in their 20’s with University degrees and careers ahead of them.

Anne, George, Julian and Dick plus dog Timmy are housemates and on Anne’s birthday she gets a book by a woman called Portia who opens her eyes to the toxic nature of the modern western diet.

Turns out Portia is a friend of Cousin Rupert whom he met at a party by Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert convinces Anne to go on a wellness gluten free diet.

Anne in turn convinces the others to go on the diet and calls it their new adventure. They are extremely reluctant and fight it all the way until Anne decides they should go back to Dorset to consolidate the new diet which will make them energised and happy.

No more cakes and lashings of ginger beer. It does not go down well even with Timmy whose whatsits once could be collected in a bag but would now need a hoover to mop them all up.

Will the Dorset trip /come adventure help with the diet? Read it and find out.

Very funny and totally true to the original stories. For everybody. The front cover is perfect with original drawings throughout the text.

Jacob’s Toys. The BIG Backyard Adventure by Claudia Woods.

September 22, 2018 Comments off

jacobs toysJacob’s Toys. The BIG Backyard Adventure by Claudia Woods. Pub. Harbour Publishing House, 2018.

This picture book for juniors was a real surprise with beautifully constructed rhyming text and illustrations that bring out the nature of the characters and the drama they are going through.

Jacob decides that he is BIG now and doesn’t need his soft toys anymore but is he really ready to discard them and what about the toys themselves?

Mum puts them in the washing machine, onto the line, hit by a storm, chased by a cat, washed down a drain, blown into the air and then guess where?

The repeated text containing the toys names makes for great reading aloud. Children can join in too.

The illustrations  are mixed media eg drawing, painting, natural materials, clay, felt etc They are made on large boards and layered with all the items and then photographed. Some of the photos are taken from different angles to create a 3D effect. They cover a whole page sometimes more and really compliment the text beautifully and add a dimension in themselves. At the end is a big surprise as the illustrations contain more than you think.

Check this beauty out.

Always Managing. Harry. My Autobiography by Harry Redknapp

October 31, 2016 Comments off

always-managing-harryAlways Managing. Harry. My Autobiography by Harry Redknapp. Pub.Ebury press, 2013.

I first saw Harry Redknapp play for West Ham in 1971. He wore his shorts down to his knees at a time when it was fashionable to show 4 cheeks. Whenever he got the ball and ran with it the crowd would yell ‘Arry.

He played with some wonderful players like Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking and he talks about these players and other famous players like George Best in a most illuminating insight into the evolution of English football from the 1960’s to present day.

To say football at the time England won their only World Cup and football played in the Premier league today is vastly different would be an understatement. Harry played and managed 6 clubs who are in the Premier League today or have been recently, he knows what he is talking about.

The bullying nature of the English school system meant he came out of school barely able to write. He was a wizard at ball control and running and he soon made his name in football. He married an Essex girl and is still with her after more than 40 years. He almost lost his life in an Italian car accident and he made and lost many friends while involved with the beautiful game. He almost became England Manager but held his mouth wrong.

An immensely enjoyable autobiography for football fans all over the world no matter what your affiliations. Harry Redknapp is a witty man and tells a good yarn. I will never view Bobby Moore and West Ham club in the same light again.

The Sam & Lucy Fables by Alan Bagnall Illus. Sarah Wilkins.

October 28, 2016 Comments off

sam-and-lucyThe Sam & Lucy Fables by Alan Bagnall Illus. Sarah Wilkins. Pub. Makaro Press, 2016.

There is a whimsical nature about this booklet of quirky stories with a message for juniors and primary school students, and with high appeal for older readers. I defy you to read this collection without a smile on your face.

Lucy and Sam are pigs who tell stories and help people out. There are 14 stories of 2-3 pages long cleverly and perceptively illustrated by Sarah Wilkins. We learn how whales got to the sea, how bus drivers learn not to stop because it was a bus stop, how fish learned to read (in schools of course) and how not to despair because your computer has crashed.

Sometimes the simplest stories are the best even when they are quirky and as Gavin Bishop commented “charming”.

Categories: Humorous Stories Tags:

Unworthy by Joanne Armstrong

July 3, 2015 Comments off

unworthyUnworthy by Joanne Armstrong. Self published, 2014.

This is one of the best dystopian fiction novels by a New Zealand author that I have read. It demands a sequel and I expect one is already underway.

Arcadia is 17 years old and deemed “unworthy” by the ruthless and controlling Polis who rule the island population that is remarkably like the South island of New Zealand.

On Arcadia’s arm is a cross that signifies her unworthiness. At birth she was weak and sickly and like all similar babies is left outside at night in a ritualistic circle and is expected to die. She doesn’t and is brought up by a man she knows as grandfather, in a hub where she has no rights and is treated as a pariah. Her life is about to change big time.

The Polis who are strictly regimented took control of the island after an illness swept the World and anarchy reigned over their island reducing the population  from 4 million to just over 1 million. Now the Polis rule from a big City and the population live in small hubs that are strictly controlled. The Polis say they want to strengthen the human species by looking after the strong and whittling out the weak. Every child is subjected to the same test.

Captain Alexander Hayes is a young soldier who is summoned by the General to locate and escort Arcadia from her hub of Greytown  to the Polis City.  This undercover, action packed and tense journey is stunning but you will have to read the novel to find out all about it.

In line with the subject matter this novel is clinically written with not a word out of place. The novel is narrated by Arcadia and her shifting relationship with Captain Hayes is a highlight, as is the landscape through which they travel.

The journey and the city will provide the stunning answers to Arcadia’s identity, past, survival and family and of the true nature of the Polis.

If you miss this one you will kick yourself. For high school students and Young adults.

This novel can be purchased in digital format at  or in print and kindle format at

The Rephaim Book 1: Shadows by Paula Weston

June 22, 2012 Comments off

Rephaim Book 1: Shadows by Paula Weston. Pub. Text Publishing, 2012.

This is a fantasy novel for high school students and young adults about fallen angels. Aren’t we all? It could be better but it is book one and is introducing a complex scenario.

140 years ago a fallen angel called Semyaza led 200  angels out of hell and they spent 48 hours on earth seducing as many women as they could then disappeared. Everyone in heaven and hell is looking for them and these are called the Rephaim.

It is rumoured that over 1000 children were born as a result of the escapade and not all of them are known. This book is about those children who are now 139 years old and still young teenagers, most with a very lustful nature, as that is the way of the Rephaim.

Gabby is one of the children and she has a twin brother Jude who she remembers as being beheaded in a car crash which she survived. She tells of her dreams in an article on an online magazine called Dark Thoughts. She is then contacted by members of the Rephaim of whom she has no knowledge and discovers her dreams really happened.

A handsome and lustful boy named Raphael tells her he has known her and her brother for 139 years and that before her brother’s death they had possibly stumbled upon Semyaza and the fallen angels. Could this be true. Gabby remembers nothing but no-one believes her.

Everybody wants to know and this precipitates some amazing action that takes you from Australia to Italy. But is it all true? Read it yourself and find out.