Book Review: The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_quakerThree women are murdered some weeks and months apart. DI Duncan McCormack is put in charge of why the murders haven’t been solved and why the murder squad haven’t managed to find the killer, getting him off the streets. There is fear amongst women as to where and who the killer will strike next.

McCormack is bought down from the Highlands in Scotland to Glasgow to join the investigation. He finds shoddy police work with nothing linking to anybody or where the murderer could have come from. The killer is nicknamed ‘The Quaker’ because of third hand memories of a man dressed in a suit, with a regimental tie and a religious pin on the lapel of his suit.

Who is The Quaker? Is he part of an organised crime syndicate or is he part of a network with a member of that syndicate inside the police force?

This is a ripper of a story with hardly a page where some new information isn’t imparted to the reader building up the profile of the killer. I found it difficult to put down the book at times but sleep is one of the necessary parts of life, so I was often waiting for another “spare” moment to pick up where I had left the off. The ending is superb.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Quaker
by Liam McIlvanney
Published by HarperCollins NZ
ISBN 9780008259921

Book Review:  Woolly Wally, by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_woolly_wallyIf you are familiar with Doctor Grundy’s Undies, I need a new Bum and other stories, and Mister Spears and his Hairy Ears, you will adore this offering from Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird. What a great book. Woolly Wally was first published in 2006 and is now back in this latest edition.

Woolly Wally was a ram who stood master of his flock, full of importance, ready to show off his beautiful wool, thick and crinkled, extra fine, grey and wrinkled.  He was sure that his perfectly formed, uniquely shaped, individualised, spiral, ribbed and oversized horns were absolutely perfect and that he as incredibly handsome.  He was also sure that all the sheep were in love with him and that when spring came all the ewes would be mums and the fields full of his perfect offspring, so what a shock Woolly Wally got when he heard the word “shear”.

A wonderful story with a great moral. Pride comes before a fall, and in Wally’s case he falls far.

As with all books that Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird have collaborated on, small readers will not be disappointed.  My 3 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn had it packed in her bag ready to go home before I could turn around.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Woolly Wally
by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Published by Oratia Media
ISBN 9780947506421

Book Review: Flit the Fantail and the Flying Flop, by Kat Merewether

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_flit_the_fantail_and_the-flying_flopThis is the first in a new series from Kat Merewether, the author of Kuwi the Kiwi.

Flit is a fantail chick. He is not allowed to fly as his wings are not strong enough. Ma and Pa Fantail want him to stay safe in his nest while they go off to find food to feed Flit. Flit feels safe up high in the Kowhai tree in his nest but he is soon bored so he climbs to the edge of the nest to try and get a tasty midge. He stretches but cannot quite reach it. He spreads his wings but of course the inevitable happens, he first of all floats then he falls. Flit tries to fly back up but no, he falls down to the ground.

Kiki the Kaka chick comes down to see what the fuss is about. He thinks he can help Flit get back up to his nest. He puts Flit onto a fern and then tries to flick Flit back up in the air to get back to his nest, but no, Flit flip flops down again.

Bit and Bob, the black robins come along and offer to help. This time they pick Flit up by the feet, holding on trying to fly at the same time. Of course, this doesn’t work either. Keri the Kiwi and Ruru both try their luck as well, to no avail.

This is a great story about what can be achieved when everybody uses their individual strengths. Gorgeous illustrations tie this wonderful story together.

I read this to 3 ½ year old Quinn. She was quite sure that Flit could manage to get back all on his own but loved the fact that he had so many friends who thought that they could help.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Flit the Fantail and the Flying Flop
by Kat Merewether
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435105

Book Review: Sam and the Dog from the Sea, by Judy and Dick Frizzell

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_sam_and_the_dog_from_the_sea.jpgSam is an old sailor who still wears his captain’s hat with a seagull’s feather stuck into the band. He lives in an old tramcar decorated with treasures sourced from his scavenging among the flotsam and jetsam that the tides bring in.

A storm is on the horizon and Sam, lying in bed can hear the roaring of the winds and the lashing of the rain against his windows. He gets up early the next morning walking along the beach looking for possible treasures. He finds what he thinks is a dead seagull or an old towel but as he picks it up he sees it is a dog, probably dead, but then a little brown eye opens. Taking it home wrapped up in his woollen jersey he hurries home. Putting the dog in front of the fire Sam towels the poor animal dry, fluffing up his soft white fur.

This is a beautiful story of love and friendship between a dog and an old man. Gorgeous illustrations, and the accompanying storyline is delightful.

Dick Frizzell is well-known to most New Zealanders as an artist. His wife Judy had written the story with Dick using his talents to compliment what is an already wonderful story.

This book was first published more than 30 years ago in 1988. On some friends urging, Judy and Dick Frizzell released this book once again. A fantastic decision as I haven’t read it before to any of my grandchildren. This story was received enthusiastically by my 3 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Sam and the Dog from the Sea
by Judy and Dick Frizzell
Published by David Ling Publishing
ISBN 9781927305416

Book Review: The Crooked Staircase, by Dean Koontz

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_The_crooked_staircase.jpegI am a big fan of Dean Koontz so was delighted to be able to read and review this book. This is the third book in the Jane Hawk thrillers – The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room being the ones previous to this one.

Former FBI agent Jane Hawke, the central character is on the run. Her husband Nick is dead, made to look like a suicide, but Jane knew he would never have committed suicide. She is convinced he was murdered, but how to prove it? Her son Travis was in hiding staying with trusted friends. Her husband’s so-called suicide is one of many that seem to be occurring around the country which in Jane’s eyes, is too much of a coincidence.

She is being hunted by Government agents but also a rogue organisation, the vengeful Techno Arcadians, who are assumed to be behind the murder/suicides. They seem to have unlimited power and money to hunt her down. Jane’s is able to outfox them at every new development, thanks to her ability to access technology and hack into systems.

What Jane uncovers about the Techno Arcadians makes for a great read. I struggled to put this book down at times, so caught up in the story I wanted to read just another chapter. By the time I came to the end I felt a little disappointed. I was expecting a conclusion but there is none, so we will have to wait for book four.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Crooked Staircase
by Dean Koontz
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9781460756546

Book Review: The Promise Horse, by Jackie Merchant

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_promise_horseThis is a great book for young adults and horse lovers.

Harry is redheaded, tall, with what she sees as very large feet. Her family have moved to the country after her older sister tragically dies of cancer, going back to where her parents had both grown up. Harry’s way of coping is to have conversations with her dead sister Sissy. She has had counselling and to keep the peace she tells everyone the voices have gone, but they haven’t. Harry still regularly has conversations with Sissy. They move to be near grandparents, along with the carrot that Harry she can at long last have her promised horse.  She’d been having riding lessons for years at a riding school.

Harry’s mum Jenny is inconsolable with the loss of her daughter, burying herself in her work and her father Mick is often away with work. They forge friendships in the local community and Lizzie a local who works with horses suggests perhaps her borrowed horse Marksman might be suitable for Harry, as she was looking for a new one. The owner Jack is happy for Harry to take over Marksman from Lizzie, but Jenny takes one look at the large horse (over 15 hands high) and gets concerned – having lost one daughter, she is not ready to lose another. Between grandparents and her father, Harry is allowed to keep the horse for the time being, but with strict rules in place.

Friendships are forged through Harry’s involvement with Marksman along with encouragement to join the local pony club. Local girl Josie is about Harry’s age, and have a lot of fun together which makes for a happier life for Harry.

This is a great story which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a great human-interest story about loss, grieving, and new friendships between people and horses.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Promise Horse
by Jackie Merchant
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781760650568

Book Review: Kakapo Dance, by Helen Taylor

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_kakapo_danceI read this book to my 3 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn. The illustrations are captivating and marry in beautifully with this rather delightful story.

Kakapo is a rather large clumsy bird. The forest is alive with all the birds singing and dancing, all except Kakapo.

‘Because Kakapo DON’T sing or dance,
We’re just not made that way!’

The Bellbird has a melodious song, but all Kakapo can do is Thud! Thud! Thud! We then have the Keruru who loves to coo and glide and the Bellbird loves to hop and chime. Whio likes to whistle and waddle. Pukeko like to strut and shriek, Fantail likes to chirp and twirl but all Kakapo can do is Boom! Boom! Boom! They also Ching! And they can Tuuuumble! Shuffle! Shuffle! Shuffle!

This is quite a funny book as it highlights how even a clumsy bird has its attributes.

Quinn had a faraway look on her face at one stage – her own singing and dancing is a bit like Kakapo’s. Perhaps she was imagining herself in Kakapo’s shoes and wondering how she could improve her own singing and dancing.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Kakapo Dance
by Helen Taylor
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143506010