Hastings District Libraries

Saturday, 3 December 2016

November Reading at Book Chat

In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen
A fatal illness takes hold of a hard-working Amish community in Pennsylvania, and soon its members are talking about a curse. When an entire family is found dead, ex-NYPD  homicide detective, Elizabeth Harris, suspects a more sinister cause. A high body count, but well written nevertheless.

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
Margot is a teacher who also writes the ‘Dear Amy’ agony aunt column for a local paper. When a school girl goes missing, Amy starts getting letters from a girl who went missing twenty years before. Plenty of suspense and an original plot make this psychological thriller an absolute page-turner.

The Dry by Jane Harper
The harsh Australian outback is the setting for this murder story about a small town and its secrets. When Aaron Falk returns home for the funeral of an old friend and his family, the assumption is that it is a case of murder-suicide. Only Aaron is not so sure. A taut and riveting read with an unpredictable ending.

The Secret Ways of Perfume by Cristina Cabani
A betrayal drives Elena from her family home in Italy to Paris where she can use her rare gift for being able to decipher the ingredients of perfume. But perfume is more than just the components of a scent; it is about memory, emotion and even the truth. A delightful, romantic and memorable novel, a best-seller in Italy.

The Hotel on Mulberry Bay by Melissa Hill
Returning to the family business – a hotel on picturesque Mulberry Bay – two sisters reunite to face a crisis and deal with a surprising revelation by their father. Everything rests on the girls’ ability to save their hotel. Quirky characters, a charming Irish setting and community spirit get this story home.

Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse
Ruby and Verity are from the opposite sides of the tracks, yet are friends, even when their fortunes are reversed. As Britain is rocked by the threat of war, an event threatens to tear their friendship apart. Will they be able to survive the war in order to put things right? This is a compelling read that you will devour in a day.

Posted by Flaxmere Library Book Chat

Friday, 2 December 2016

What Jessica Watched: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home at Night is technically a vampire movie. And it totally has a creep element, and obviously vampires, but I feel like that’s not the stand out feature. It’s Persian (in language only sadly; it’s shot in California!), it’s black and white and it’s moody, with the added bonus of an amazing soundtrack. Full of singularly stunning scenes that come together as an airy, seductive dream, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it.

If you’re into artsy black and white films (the awe of some shots left me reminiscing about Control, the movie about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis), or slow moving “nothing much happens” type movies, you will definitely be into this. But also, if you’re into a sneaky vampire film that strays away from the obvious, give it a shot.

This is predominantly beautiful rather than action packed, which is not to say there’s no plot. There’s some romance, some family drama and a bit of violence (obviously…vampires, guys - come on!), which is all interesting and great, but it’s not in your face; rather it’s the consideration of the cinematography, costume (picture female vampire gliding atop a skateboard wearing Breton style top, trainers and traditional Islamic veil worn as a cape) and music that catches one's attention. All this to say I highly recommend; it’s a fun watch with memorable moments and fantastic music.

My rating: ŒŽ4

If you liked this, you might like: Control, Only Lovers Left Alive, Slacker, Let the Right One In

Posted by Jessica

Catalogue link

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

What with this popular story recently arriving in cinemas, I thought it was about time for a comparison: book, film, and graphic novel. The story is about Jacob, a teenage boy who, after the death of his grandfather, travels to a small island off Wales in search of an old orphanage full of children with incredible gifts. Only problem is, Jacob is not the only person searching the orphanage. Well, I say person… more a sort of twisted, invisible, tentacled monster that will give you nightmares.

Ransom Riggs is a lover of photograph illusions, using them as a basis for most of his characters. They are very old, coming from various collectors and most of them, obviously, fake. But to look at how the ‘tricks’ inspired such lovable characters is truly incredible.

While the graphic novel is a closer visual representation to the original, there were a lot of differences in the new movie. Book fans will greatly nit-pick about the swapping of powers between the characters and a few confusing things added in. But if you want to enjoy the purity of a good edge-of-your seat, “holy crud, what the heck is that thing?!” type of book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is for you.

Posted by Rhiannon

Catalogue link

Monday, 28 November 2016

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

It is 1855 when Stanton Finch journeys to an isolated farm holding on the coast of South Australia with his wife and nine children in Lucy Treloar’s novel Salt Creek. Formerly from well-to-do Adelaide, the family have suffered one collapsed enterprise after another, their idealistic father determined that the new dairy farm will make their fortune.

The story is told from the point of view of fifteen-year-old Hester, describing the hardships of life on Salt Creek, and their encounters with the local Ngarrindjeri and Finch’s dreams of ‘civilising’ them. His dreams slowly unravel through the book and he manages not only to alienate the aborigine people, but members of his family as well.

Hester becomes the glue that keeps them together and it is her concern for her family - her poorly mother, her flighty younger sister Addie, her dreamy brother Fred, the baby Mary - that keeps things on an even keel. She puts her own happiness last, but underneath she has a steely determination to live a different kind of life.

Another key character is Tully, the aborigine boy the family befriends. He lives between two worlds, a survivor able to live off the land like his people, but quick to learn and understand western knowledge too.

Inspired by real events, this is a novel about a clash of cultures, the misplaced optimism of new settlers, and the injustice done to indigenous people, the struggle for women to have any self-determination. It is a gripping read, elegantly written and evoking a wonderful sense of time and place. Salt Creek deservedly won a place on the shortlist for this year’s Miles Franklin award. It is one of those novels that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Salt Creek

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy (Lumberjanes #1-4)

Written by Noelle Stevenson (one of the funniest artists on the internet), Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen (Illustrator), this series is an amazing adventure about a group of awesome (and diverse) girls, at a mysterious summer camp called ‘Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Girls Hardcore Lady Types’. It’s packed with girl power, friendship (TO THE MAX), and supernatural adventures. The girls use everything, from fighting to math, to solve the mystery, and prove that girls can do anything when they put their minds to it!

It’s funny, and sweet (and at times confusing). A lot of the plot isn’t explained yet, or just doesn’t seem to make sense - but it is only Vol. 1, so I’m hoping it will become more developed in the next couple of volumes which are now sitting on my desk.

An easy read, to be enjoyed by the younger readers, and those of you who (like me) are young at heart (although unfortunately not in age).

Posted by Sas

Catalogue link: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1

Thursday, 24 November 2016

From the archives… AfterWords by Helen McConnochie.

As I watched scenes from the recent Kaikoura earthquake and the difficulties residents and visitors are having with the basics of food, water and shelter, I wondered how the survivors of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake coped with these same difficulties on shaky ground.

Both earthquakes were the same magnitude, 7.8, although the death toll was significantly more in 1931.

In AfterWords, former Radio New Zealand producer Helen McConnochie, captures the very essence of what Hawke’s Bay was like from the moment the earthquake struck on February 3rd at 10.46am, to the weeks after when evacuated children started returning to their homes and schools.

Many of these memories are from when the survivors were young. They talk of the terror of the big quake, how they escaped and of those that did not. What stands out as you read these short vignettes is how well these families adapted to the aftermath of the earthquake. Those that weren’t evacuated talk of camping in their backyards with makeshift toilets (usually a chook house conversion) and using open fires for cooking. It seems in 1931 Hawke’s Bay, every mother was adept at making camp bread.

Those in the country coped even better than those in the city; sleeping under cherry trees for six weeks until the rain came, forcing them back into their damaged houses. They also had access to water and food unlike the majority of the city folk.

Though there were no helicopters to bring television crews in and survivors out of the earthquake areas of 1931, there are many similarities between the two earthquakes. Damaged homes, businesses and roads as well as difficulties with communication are common to both earthquakes. However what comes through from reading Afterwords and following news coverage of the Kaikoura earthquake is the stoicism of the survivors. Providing food and shelter for not only themselves but others in their community shows the real fortitude of these New Zealanders as they put to right what mother earth has destroyed.

AfterWords can be found at Hastings, Flaxmere and Havelock North Libraries.

Posted by The Rummaging Bibliophile

Catalogue Link: AfterWords

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

On the Blue Train by Kristel Thornell

When Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days in 1926 it sparked a police investigation and a riot of newspaper stories. At the time Christie was emerging as a popular crime novelist and foul play was a definite possibility. Kristel Thornell takes these missing days as a basis for her novel On the Blue Train, concocting a story around what Christie was doing in the interval before being discovered at a hotel in the spa town of Harrogate.

Agatha concots a plan to disappear at a time when her life was unravelling: still grieving for her recently dead mother and with a husband begging for a divorce. What she wanted was a break away and to be looked after, so a spa with its healing baths, massages and relaxed atmosphere was ideal.

Also staying at the Hydro is Harry, a man living off his late wife’s inheritance, at a loss for anything in particular to do and with his own buried grief. Harry listens to classical music in his room and drinks sherry to numb the pain enough so that he can sleep. Harry and Agatha become friends and later confidantes, sharing their personal histories for the benefit of the reader.

While On the Blue Train is something of a slow burner - the plot takes a while to get going and a lot of it is looking backwards rather than forwards - Thornell makes up for the restrictions of her story with impeccable writing. She uses imagery beautifully and I found myself rereading sentences which were always elegant and often haunting.

The atmosphere of the Hyrdro, of steamy baths in winter, dining in evening dress and dancing to the band afterwards, the gentle chatter with other guests, is all brought to life and creates a picture of another era. With its relaxed pace and thoughtful prose, this is a book to take your time with, and a must for anyone interested in the Agatha Christie legend.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: On the Blue Train