We thought you may want to find out a little more about our regular reviewers, so here you are – some reviewer biographies. You can click on each name to see past reviews by them.
Azariah Alfante is an avid bibliophile, writer, and graduate student at the University of Auckland. She is a contributor to Booksellers New Zealand and NZ Booklovers. Literature has offered her many a good adventure, and among her many heroes are authors such as Jane Austen, Joan Didion, Thomas Hardy, Evelyn Waugh, Charlotte Brontë and JRR Tolkien, whom she affectionately dubs her “literary godfather”. Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales made her cry even in her late teens, and she has the tear-stained pages to prove it, much to the embarrassment of her nine siblings. She is particularly interested in 19th century European literature, Romantic poetry, fantasy, historical fiction and realistic fiction. (NEW)
Jane Arthur worked in the book industry – as a bookseller and then a publisher – for almost 15 years. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, and her poems have been published in a number of local journals. She lives in Wellington and enjoys reading modern fiction, short stories, essays and poetry. She is a founding editor of The Sapling.
Joseph Barbon writes fiction and criticism. He was born in Palmerston North and lives in Wellington, where he’s a postgraduate student at Victoria University. He likes eighteenth-century fiction, Edwardian literature, aestheticism, I-novels, and contemporary fiction. He can be found on Twitter at @joseph_barbon
Alana Bird is an early childhood teacher who loves to share her love of reading with her young students. She enjoys art, especially drawing and carefully studies the illustrations when choosing picture books. While she is scouring bookstores for innovative picture books, a good thriller, fantasy or historical fiction novel will more than likely entice her into a reading binge. A great deal of non-fiction books about animals, art and ancient civilisations sit alongside her extensive novel and picture book collection. (NEW)
Aaron Blaker is an emerging New Zealand writer. His novella The Siren was published as an eBook in 2013 by Rosa Mira Books. Born and raised on the East Coast of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, Aaron was formally educated in English Literature, Classics and History at Victoria University of Wellington. He writes at http://www.aaronblaker.co.nz.
Simon Boyce has researched and written about public finance in New Zealand for the past 25 years. He now writes the Shakespeare Bay Blog, which concentrates on tax haven activity in New Zealand, in the wake of the Panama Papers. Also interested in New Zealand history, literature, and sport. Has a number of degrees and diplomas from a variety of universities and Whitireia Polytech, and a very large student loan debt to go with them.
Emma Bryson is a semi-professional dabbler. You might find her reviewing books, writing articles, proofreading and editing romance and young adult novels, or attending bookish events. She has loved New Zealand young adult fiction since she was a pipsqueak. She is a University of Canterbury graduate and a 2015 graduate of the Whitireia New Zealand publishing programme. She currently lives with a husband, a bed-hog cat, a grumpy granddad, and a 3D printer in a basement in Auckland. Come say Hi on Twitter! @missoilcan
Sara teaches young children and it is a great excuse to indulge her love of picture books and to pass on a love of words, reading and stories to the next generation. She has an extensive library which is forever growing (often quite literally with a hammer and nails to add a new shelf!). Her children and young adult’s collection sit alongside cook books, a wide range of non fiction and books which make her laugh or think. She is always seeking out the perfect picture book to share with her young audience – preferably books which tell Aotearoa’s stories. (NEW)
Sue Esterman is a retired librarian with a reading addiction problem! She is particularly keen on YA material, but will read almost anything. Since retiring from school library work, she gets her literary fix by working part-time in a friend’s second-hand bookshop in Newtown, Wellington, where her job description is “Book Wizard”. She’s keen on music, travel, family and dogs in no particular order but the chocolate labrador Bella is fairly well up the list. She blogs occasionally on tumblr under the name of Shoshkiwi.
Sarah Forster is the Media & Communications Manager at Booksellers NZ, which also entails running this blog, collating and editing The Read, and putting out Preview of Reviews. She also spends a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook, as part of her job. She loves to read, and frequently reviews children’s books – picture books and junior fiction for the most part. For herself, she reads fantasy and teen fiction, satire, contemporary fiction, and occasionally biographies of people she admires. She is, alongside Jane Arthur, a founding editor of The Sapling, a website dedicated to everything children’s books.
Christine Frayling is a prolific reader of books, snatching time here and there throughout her busy day to read, often falling asleep over a book in bed at night. Her tastes in literature are wide ranging from travel books (travelled extensively throughout the world and her own country) to adventure, crime (thrillers preferably) cook books (to stretch the budget) gardening (same reason) and any non-fiction or fiction book – she’ll give anything a go. She is a wife, mother of two grown-up daughters and a grandmother of 6 – their ages ranging from young teens down to babies. Books are always on the present giving list from this grandmother.
Tramping and the great outdoors has always been a passion in Christine’s life, encouraged by her parent’s love of adventure. For the last 10 years she has worked as a volunteer at her local hospice shop, fitting this around child-minding, her exercise regime and time with her family and friends.
Anna Forsyth is a New Zealand writer and editor based in Melbourne where she convenes Girls on Key, a monthly spoken word and music event that she established in 2012 to support female-identifying poets and raise funds for refugee arts initiatives. She is an avid poetry and short fiction reader.
Penny M Geddis
Penny M Geddis is the owner and manager of Neath The Rose Spiritual, Mystical, Fantastical Books as well as a writer of fiction and non-fiction. She is also a Reiki Master, an Intuitive Healer, and believes that literature is a nourishing, loving way to share with and teach the world about equality and love for one another. She currently lives with her wife and three cats in sunny Hawke’s Bay and dreams of opening her own publishing house one day.
Lincoln Gould is the CEO of Booksellers New Zealand and is an avid reader of non-fiction and historical novels. His special interest is reading and reviewing military history.
Tim Gruar has been reading, drawing and spelling since he was five. Thanks to a good education he’s managed to grasp the major elements of grammar and punctuation and prides himself on being able to splice together a sentence or two. Schooled at Victoria University, he has a Honours Degree in English and History. He is a self-confessed bibliophile and music lover. He currently reviews for www.groovefm.co.nz under the moniker ‘The CoffeeBar Kid’, as well as writing regular interviews and music reviews for www.grooveguide.co,nz and www.ripitup.co.nz. Naturally, being a grown up kid at heart he loves Spy Thrillers, Murder and Crime, History (especially Politics, Law and Military) and Musician’s Biographies. Having three daughters (from pre-school to tween-age) he’s keen to read and review their literature – with their help as ‘ghost reviewers’.
Elizabeth Heritage is a Wellington-based publishing professional. At any one time she could be one or more of the following: book reviewer, literary journalist, reader, book publicist, digital marketer, event wrangler, publishing consultant or essayist. In amongst all that, she is also a communications manager for the Human Rights Measurement Initiative and the sales, marketing and publicity tutor on the Whitireia publishing course. In 2012, Elizabeth’s pet rat Orville was filmed for The Hobbit. This is still one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to her. You can find Elizabeth at www.elizabethheritage.co.nz or on Twitter as @e_heritage.
Feby Idrus is a writer, classical musician and music teacher, based in Wellington. She has also reviewed books for Critic, the University of Otago’s student magazine. She has a Masters of Arts in English and a Diploma in Music Performance. In other words, when she’s not practicing her flute or rushing to and from concerts or rehearsals, you’ll find her with her nose in a book.
Emma Johnson is the editor at Freerange Press, a freelance translator and an avid reader and traveller. She is also the publicity and communications manager for the biennial FESTA. Emma enjoys reading fiction, social history, philosophy and other contemporary non-fiction.
Anne Kerslake Hendricks is a Wellington-based writer and researcher (who not-so-secretly wishes she was based in New York or Paris). She reads widely, both fiction and non-fiction. She has a particular interest in reviewing non-fiction books addressing medical, psychological and sociological themes, art, travel and culinary history. She owns a staggering collection of recipe books, including many vintage cookbooks discovered at op shops and village fairs. Bookcases are a dominant feature in her home and a pile of books constantly threatens to topple off her desk at work.
Faye Lougher is a Levin-based journalist, editor, photographer and keen artist. An avid reader since childhood, she loved working in her parents’ bookshop in Whakatane in the 1980s. She later worked as a paperback sales representative before training as a journalist and setting up her own freelance business, Writeability (www.writeability.co.nz). Crime fiction is her favourite genre but she’ll read anything as long as it’s well-written. She admits to owning ‘far too many’ cookbooks and has a love for all things retro – like her 1963 Thunderbird and vintage caravan! She is a volunteer biography writer for hospice patients and regularly writes features for NZ Trucking.
Lesley McIntosh has been a reader all of her life, and now that she has retired from farming devotes much of her spare time to reading. A mother of three daughters and grandmother of six granddaughters and two grandsons, Lesley has spent many hours reading to children including the years she spent as a teacher aide at the local school.
She completed a Diploma in Freelance Journalism by correspondence while her girls were at University and enjoyed many years as a rural reporter and feature writer for newspapers.
Now living in Oamaru, Lesley enjoys her large garden with her husband and family as well as writing book reviews and doing voluntary work. She will pretty much read anything but loves crime and mystery novels as well as gardening books.
Amie Lightbourne is a Marketing Specialist, keen reader and reviewer for Booksellers NZ online: adventure, sports, outdoors, cooking and anything Christmas. She loves tramping and the outdoors and has walked many of New Zealand’s beautiful trails. She loves a good adventure and is currently making her way through the National Geographic’s 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time. She also plays competitive sport (Ultimate Frisbee) and follows most sports from afar including rugby, netball, cricket, tennis and any kind of world championships. Creating culinary masterpieces in the kitchen is also a popular pastime.
Lynne has always been an avid and eclectic reader, especially enjoying the crime genre. A thirty-odd year career as teacher and principal, followed by gaining an ICT Bachelor’s degree, led to lecturing at tertiary level. Lynne then studied for the Diploma in Applied Writing (Creative) and is currently blogging at https://mcaennyl.com, and posts reviews at https://redpennreviews.wordpress.com.
Tiffany is the proud owner of four over-stocked bookcases, a very large “to read” pile to which she adds on a very regular basis, and a well-used library card. She is also the mother of two busy children who, she is happy to report, have inherited her love of reading. She is an eager reader of most genres, except fantasy, science-fiction and horror. Her favourite authors include Lionel Shriver, Ian McEwan, Wally Lamb, and Jane Austen. She is also happily indulging in lots of young adult and children’s literature on the pretext of finding books to share with her children. When she is not reading or taxiing children to extracurricular activities, she is probably on Goodreads.com talking about books, on her way to the library, or lurking around The Children’s Bookshop (Wellington) thinking up excuses to buy more books.
Matthias Metzler is a writer, devourer of books and night time storyteller. He lives in Auckland and is an Honours graduate from The University of Auckland in English, spending most of his days preparing for the future. His love of books started with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and has more or less gravitated around the fantastical, though he will read anything that is recommended to him. He can be found day and night on Twitter @heliojournal (NEW)
Rachel is a Wellington-based primary school teacher and avid reader who owns too many books. Her taste ranges from historical fiction to biographies, from cookbooks to fantasy. The highlight of her day is introducing her class of five-year-olds to new stories and old favourites.
Elizabeth Morton is a poet and sometime student. She has a keen interest in neuroscience. In her free time she collects obscure words in supermarket bags. She is a promiscuous reader – flipping from popular science to psychological thriller, from children’s literature to German philosophy. But her chief love is poetry, which she is very fortunate to review. Her own poetry has been published in Poetry NZ, Takahe, JAAM, Blackmail Press and Shot Glass Journal, amongst other places.
“My earliest memories are of looking at books, I still have my picture books from when I was small, way back in the 1960s. I read anything – going blind is one of my biggest fears. Being able to write for Booksellers or my blog – www.kiwiflorareads.blogspot.com – just makes me think a little more deeply about what I am reading. I studied history, banking and horticulture at university (not all at the same time), have worked in a variety of fields – foreign affairs, banking, garden design, and hospitality. I have travelled widely, and now live in Auckland near the beach, with my family, and I assist terminally ill patients with writing their biographies. I am a registered marriage celebrant.”
Angela Oliver is an author, illustrator and dedicated bibliophile. She lives in Christchurch, works for a bookseller and is a co-founder of the Christchurch Writers Guild. Her favorite genre is fantasy – epic, urban, you name it – although she will read almost anything, favouring a good story, quirky characters and creative plots. You can learn more about her, including seeing her artwork, at http://lemurkat.co.nz
I’m a seventeen-year-old university student from Christchurch, and I enjoy reading, writing short stories and poetry and reviewing for Booksellers NZ and Christchurch City Libraries. I like to read historical fiction and mysteries in my spare time, as well as anything by Cassandra Clare, Fleur Beale or Brigid Lowry.
Emma Rutherford is based in Wellington. Her earliest school reports listed her as ‘frequently having her nose in a book.’ She hopes to pass on her love of reading to her children, and enjoys having an excuse to purchase her favourite books for the children. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, food experiments, pilates, preserving and spending time with her friends.
Emma Shi is a reader and writer who adores the form of poetry. She was the winner of the National Schools Poetry Award 2013 and her work has been published in Landfall and Poetry NZ. Her favourite kind to read are prose poems, whether it be complicated stream-of-consciousness pieces or structured works bordering on the short story. She is currently studying Classics and English at Victoria University of Wellington. She writes at http://araios.tumblr.com/
Lesley Vlietstra is a poet, writer and artist who lives in Mosgiel. She has worked at a wide variety of jobs, including many years as a printer at Otago University, printing other peoples’ books. She is interested in biographies of adventurous people and books which make her either laugh or think or both.
Kathy Watson is from Christchurch, where she has raised three bookish children.She is a teacher with 35 years in the classroom and loves sharing stories, ideas, poetry and helping kids catch the book bug. When not immersed in a book she enjoys tramping, writing, music, biking and vintage clothing. She is an equal-opportunity reader but has a special love of Down Under authors.