Book Review: Backwards into the Future, by Bronwyn Elsmore

cv_backwards_into_the_FutureAvailable in selected bookshops nationwide.

Bronwyn Elsmore is a New Zealand author, having also written Every Five Minutes and Seventeen Seas. I haven’t read any of her previous books but I am always particularly keen to read New Zealand authors.

Mary, against all her friends’ advice, decides to move back to her home town of Waimamae after many years of living elsewhere in New Zealand. What drew her back were her memories and the people who lived in the small settlement.

Ana was her best friend growing up. They met at primary school, continuing their friendship through secondary and beyond, to both train as nurses. Ana lived with her grandmother Kui and Hemi, a cousin. Kui welcomed this Pakeha friend of her granddaughter in their home, educating her in the ways of Māori tradition and culture. Both girls challenged each other through games and school, with both achieving high marks in University Entrance.

Small towns have more than their share of tragedy and grief with Waimamae being no exception. Grief is shared between cultures, with the community pulling together at such times. The friendship founders at times, and there are secrets and speculation, with a mystery surrounding why Ana started withdrawing from her friend.

Mary goes home to live to try and find answers to some of the questions she has. The town has changed a lot, with many residents long dead, and questions as to where Ana is go unanswered.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Backwards into the Future – a chance to explore Pakeha/Maori relationships within a small town. Friendship is friendship regardless of culture and race.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Backwards into the Future
by Bronwyn Elsmore
Published by Flaxroots Inc.
ISBN 9780992249144

Book Review: Let’s Catch that Rainbow, written & illustrated by Ann Keane

Available in selected bookshops.

Anne Keane is a first-time children’s author and illustrator.

cv_lets_catch-that_rainbowHadleigh was sitting inside on a rainy day watching the raindrops. He was waiting for his brother Brian to come home from school on the school bus. He looked up, and suddenly noticed a rainbow. He got his gumboots and then went outside, climbing fences and running across fields in his attempt to catch the rainbow, which kept disappearing. It always seemed just out of reach each time, even with Mum helping. Brian came home from school and joined in the fun, and even with Mrs Stokes helping they couldn’t catch the rainbow!

I read this story to 4 ½ year old Abby. This story initiated a conversation about rainbows. Abby wanted to know why anybody would find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and what she would do with it if she found one.

The illustrations throughout this book work well with the story. It’s a lovely book that I think would appeal to 2 years of age plus and would make a great addition to a small person’s library.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Let’s Catch that Rainbow
Written and Illustrated by Ann Keane
Published by Pines Estate Books
ISBN 9780473320171

Book Review: A Long Trail Rolling, by Lizzi Tremayne

Available in selected bookstores nationwide.
Enter here for a giveaway of this title.cv_a_long_trail_rolling

An impressive debut from a New Zealand (ex-American) author. A Long Trail Rolling takes the reader on a journey to the wild west, to the trials and conflict faced by the enterprising souls determined to tame it and make it their home.

This is a romance, a western, and an adventure story, all rolled up into a compelling read. Our heroine, Aleksandra, lived with her father, a fur trapper, in an isolated canyon in Utah. When she finds his body, murdered and discarded in a crevice, her life takes a sudden and dramatic turn. Her father had a secret, and someone else – somewhere deadly and dangerous – is after it, and will stop at nothing to seize it.

Aleksandra must leave her peaceful life behind her, retreating with little more than her sturdy pony, Dzien. She is not without skills, however, for her father has trained her in the arts of the cossack – and she is both a skilled rider and educated in the ways of healing.
Adventurous and impetuous, she seeks employment in the dangerous Pony Express, hiding her nature from all but those closest to her – like her Californio boss, Xavier.

What follows is adventure, excitement, romance and heartbreak.

Aleksandra is an engaging character, albeit a tad quick at jumping to (the wrong) conclusions and perhaps being a bit defiant of the social norms (an admirable trait in many heroines). Xavier is tall, dark and handsome, haunted by the ghost of his abusive father and rough childhood. The point-of-view narration hops between the two, giving insights to each other’s thoughts and, yes, desires for one another. The love relationship in here is not exactly unpredictable. There are, however, a number of other surprises. And if the girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy storyline is perhaps a shade overdone, this is still an entertaining take on it, without dwelling too much on embarrassing the heroine by putting her into socially awkward positions.

This is an independently published title, and as such lacks a little of the glossy flare that comes through the big established printing houses. It should not, however, be judged on the quality of the cover but on the quality of the writing – which is of high calibre. I don’t normally read romance, and I’ve never before read a western, but I devoured this one and am hungry for more.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

A Long Trail Rolling
by Lizzi Tremayne
Published by Blue Mist Publishing
ISBN 9780473309480