Book Review: East, by Peri Hoskins

Available at selected bookshops nationwide.

cv_eastThis is the second book by Peri Hoskins featuring the character Vince Osborne, a suburban lawyer who has the feeling life is leaving him behind. Disillusioned with representing petty criminals, he chucks in his job and decides to go on a road trip.  A journey to reconnect with who he is and what he should be doing with his life.

Vince drives back to the city, visiting old friends and haunts from his university days, before setting off.  He bunks down with a friend of a friend to make a plan.  He sorts out supplies, getting his car fitted with an LPG tank but leaving the petrol tank in place, realising that not every small town will have an LPG supply.  There is an easy familiarity, as he slots back into old friendships before heading east to begin his journey, writing a journal along the way.

He starts off picking up hitchhikers, to break the monotony of the barren countryside. Each town/city changes, as does the accommodation available, but somehow, they all seem to merge. The only changing detail is the people he meets along the way as he makes small talk with staff and fellow travelers at the various places he stays. Some just drifting from one place to another.  He starts to wind down and get into the zone.

Old mining towns with hardened characters that seem to always go with hard places: this is a journey of self-discovery for Vince.  He applies for a job in one of the gold mines – hard, hard, physical work but one where he finds satisfaction.

At first I thought – oh hell, another one of “those books” where it just goes nowhere, but how wrong I was.  This is a book that ended up even questioning my own life and where I was heading – how I could change the mundane into something a lot more exciting. As Vince discovers, dreams aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

East
by Peri Hoskins
Tane Kaha Publications
ISBN 9780473251284

Book Review: A Southern Tale, by Joanne McDougall

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_a_southern_taleSammy is a Sea Lion, a very rare and endangered species. He lives on an island deep in the Southern Ocean.

As light filled the sky bringing warmth with the dawn,
Sammy woke up with a stretch and a yawn.  
Her tummy then rumbled, expressing a wish
that she leaps into the sea and go and find a fish.
Into the waves, she dove as they crashed against rocks,
causing foam and spray to be splashed.

Sammy swam far in search of food, arriving at her favourite place teeming with fish. Fish eating the plankton, penguins and dolphins and sea birds galore gather for dinner, trying to ignore the sea leopards lurking, waiting for their chance to grab a quick bite. Meanwhile, the sharks with glistening white teeth, sharp as a razor lie in wait, fancying a meal of sea lion.

I read this book to 2 ½ year old Quinn. She’s been to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea World so knows all about seals and penguins – telling me in no uncertain terms just what she thinks about the seals in this story being chased and perhaps eaten. It can be quite hard explaining to a small child about the food chain in the animal kingdom – suburban Auckland doesn’t quite cut it.

This is a great story with wonderful illustrations, to introduce children to endangered species and to try and make them a little more aware of what goes on in the great ocean surrounding our country.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

A Southern Tale
by Joanne McDougall
Published by Pegasus Art
9780473373696

Book Review: Bathtime for Little Rabbit, by Jorg Muhle

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_bathtime_for_little_RabbitPublished by Gecko Press, this is a board book suitable for 0 – 3 years.

This is an interactive book with a simple story. Little Rabbit’s bath is ready. Can you call him? Hoppity-hop. He’s in! We’re washing his ears today too. Can you put some shampoo on him? Wonderful. You made a lot of bubbles. Say swooshswoooshhhh.

I read this book to 2-year-old Quinn after she’d had her bath and was all ready for bed. She loved interacting with the story trying to help Little Rabbit shampoo his hair, wipe his nose when he got water up his nose and was keen to blow him dry at the end. A kiss good-night, tucked down in her bed with Sheepy, Quinn was happy to snuggle down and go to sleep.

What a lovely story – simple but very effective. A great story to read during bedtime routines.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Bathtime for Little Rabbit
by Jorg Muhle
Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776571376

Book Review: Parakeet in Boots, by Chris Gurney, illustrated by Myles Lawford

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_parakeet_in_bootsThis is a hilarious Kiwi version of the fairy story Puss in Boots. There was once a farmer, who fell ill and died, leaving three sons and a farm to divide. The eldest received all the buildings and land, the next got the tractor and cash in the hand. But there in the will, to his youngest son Pete, all the farmer had left was his pet parakeet!

“What good’s a dumb parrot?” Pete cried in dismay.
“Don’t worry!” the bird squawked.
“I’ll see you’re okay.”
“Get me some ugg boots to warm up my feet,
plus a flax kete, and all will be sweet!”

The story continues on with the parrot “helping” Pete get what he needed in life including perhaps, the “girl of his dreams”.

A rather unique take on a classical fairy story. Both our 2 granddaughters were mesmerised by the idea of a parakeet taking charge of Pete’s destiny. I kept thinking of the parrot wearing ugg boots and wondering how on earth he could fly in such cumbersome things.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Parakeet in Boots
by Chris Gurney, illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434382

Book Review: Marshall’s Law, by Ben Sanders

cv_marshalls_lawAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

This is Ben Sanders’ second book with Marshall Grade as its central character.

Marshall Grade is a former undercover NYPD officer hiding out in California, when he hears that federal agent Lucas Cohen has been kidnapped. Cohen’s abductors only want to know one thing – where is Marshall and how can they find him? Cohen manages to escape, outsmarting his captors and warning Marshall to lay low while they figure out why his captors are so interested in Marshall and his whereabouts.

Marshall can only think of one person who would want him dead – an old flame Chloe Asaro, whom he made the mistake of shooting. So is this revenge or something else? Marshall comes out of hiding to find out who wants him dead.

Dexter Vine a small time crim is leading the hunt for Marshall and is hoping to use the $5 million bounty to pay off Chinese mobsters. Who has put up the $5 million bounty?

This is a classical whodunit of the Jack Reacher era with lots of gun fights, the usual pile of dead cops, and criminals running and fighting it out for a piece of the action or a body – whatever comes first. I hung on every word, and it kept me wanting more.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Marshall’s Law
by Ben Sanders
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760294892

Book Review: Snails, Spells and Snazzlepops by Robyn Cooper

Available at bookshops nationwide.

cv_snails_spells_and_snazzlepopsThe day that Charlie got stuck in the loo was the day he decided he wanted to become rich.  It definitely had to be something to do with money; something that would make him lots of money so that the house he lived in with his Mum, his brother Zak and their Japanese language student Natsuko, could be renovated. He was sick of living in a crumbling house with door knobs that fell off in your hand, not to mention peeling paint in the loo and the smell from all the stinking farts.

Charlie’s Mum got very excited showing him six brown snails straggling along the kitchen bench.  Charlie suddenly saw fame and fortune at his fingertips.  He could become famous like TV chef Pierre Pascal  (Pierre was sprinkling salt onto skinned frogs legs).  Shiny pink legs with long spindly toes.  They began jiggling like they were swimming.  The chef said salt gets an electric current going in frogs’ nerves (they have to be freshly dead) and that makes the muscles contract.

Charlie wondered if snails danced if you put salt on them and whatever would frogs and snails taste like?  He could become a cooking star like Pierre Pascal, driving a flash car and making millions.

The school computer was the best place to start looking for recipes for preparing his snails for cooking.  The only problem it took ages to warm up.  When he could finally could get into googling “Cooking Snails” what came up really surprised him.  Heck, people really do eat snails.

This is a fantastic book.  Common garden snails for cooking?  Not something that the average child would think up, but imagination is wonderful.  Spells, potions and other interesting things enrich this story. A well-told tale.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Snails, Spells and Snazzlepops
by Robyn Cooper
Published by Makaro Press
ISBN 9780994137937

Book Reviews: My First Board Book – Colours, and Animals, by Donovan Bixley

Both are available now in bookshops nationwide.

My First Board Book – Colours

cv_colours_bixley.jpgThis is a brightly illustrated board book perfect for a small child getting to grips with Te Reo. Colours are illustrated with clear pictures of a swan, a digger, a caravan and other objects and things that are all associated with being a small fascinated child. The swan is white (ma), the digger is red (whero) – going along the familiar words of the colour song many of those who grew up in the 1980s sang at school.

This is a fabulous book and Sarah our daughter-in-law with her perfect pronunciation reading it to little Quinn, saw Quinn firmly clutch it in her hand, “mine”!

This is a wonderful book to introduce young children to Te Reo, as is Animals, for which my review is below.

cv_animals_bixley.jpgOn the surface, Animals looks like a standard board book for small children but on opening and going through it you realise it is much more.

Starting with the cow, then the horse, sheep, goat, pig and a range of other farm animals all with their Maori names under them.

The pictures are clear and easy for a small child to follow – the trick is in the pronunciation.

It’s really good to see books celebrating the Māori language.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

My First Board Book – Colours
by Donovan Bixley,
Published by Hachette NZ
9781869713447

My First Board Book – Animals
by Donovan Bixley
Published by Hachette NZ
9781869713430