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Orphan train : a novel / by Kline, Christina Baker, 1964-

Publication: New York : William Morrow, 2012 . 278, 16 p. 21 cm. 24 Date: 2012

A novel which is well written and explores a chapter of American history when thousands of children who were abandoned by their parent or orphaned in New York were sent by train into the Midwest for other families to claim / adopt/ or use as free labour . Families were split up, babies and younger children were chosen first. The story follows one girl and the impact it had on her life. Running parallel is another story of a modern teenager also abandoned by her mother after the father died. When these two meet the first child is 92 years old. In telling her story she helps the other girl. I really enjoyed this story. Lynne Added 03/07/2015 by Lynne

A match for Marcus Cynster / by Laurens, Stephanie,

Publication: . 392 pages ; 24 cm.

Stephanie Lauren's never fails me for pure excellent escapism on a wet Friday . Once again she is adding to the Cynster clan tales this time with Marcus up in Scotland . His destiny is calling and the Lady Niniver his nemesis . she has been given the heavy mantle of Lady of the Carrick Clan and sworn not to marry as she is scared that she would loose her power and not be able to fulfil her promise to her father. Great story Added 03/07/2015 by Lynne

Fragments / by Foot, Sarah.

Publication: . 393 pages ; 24 cm.

I recommend this debut novel by Sarah Foot . It grabbed me from the first few lines and as it started from a funeral scene but gave no clue about who it he funeral was for you just had to keep reading. A contemporary novel showing modern dilemmas felt by families , solo parents and successful people. The main character is a very successful business man who sells up and wants to give back to his community. This giving back starts a series of other consequences which makes a great story line. Do read this. Lynne Added 03/07/2015 by Lynne

The Darling Dahlias and the silver dollar bush / by Albert, Susan Wittig,

Publication: . 443 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.

I'm not sure why I chose this book. It is set in the South of the USA, usually enough to put me right off. However, I'm glad I did choose it as I found it a thoroughly entertaining read. Set, as I said, in the southern states of America (Alabama?) it chronicles the story of a small town and its citizens doing their best to cope with the big Depression in the 1930s. Prohibition is still in force and bootleg whiskey is on the edge of the tale but the main problem for the good folk of Darling is the closure of 'their' bank. The book tells how they go about coping with this and, at the same time, there are one or two quiet romances having their ups and downs In the background. The setting and the period are brought cleverly to life and the characters are all (almost all) likeable and believable. I thoroughly recommend this book if like mysteries with a romantic overtone. I will be reading more by this author, that's for sure.

The dwarf who moved : and other remarkable tales from a life in the law / by Williams, Peter

Publication: . 304 pages ; 24 cm.

This book is a reminder of events that carried headlines in NZ news in their times. Peter Williams was involved as a lawyer and his comments and insights stir memories and offer explanations that are valuable as well as interesting. Added 06/06/2015 by Heather

The secret life of Luke Livingstone / by Norman, Charity,

Publication: . 374 pages ; 24 cm.

I am very glad I pick books by the author not the content, otherwise I would have missed this one. It's one of those books that everyone should read for the good of mankind. If you have ever sniggered at the thought of cross-dressers or transgender people you will find this book sobering and moving and a thoroughly good read. Added 04/06/2015 by Kath

The anchoress / by Cadwallader, Robyn,

Publication: . 314 pages ; 24 cm

This is a well-researched book about a way of life long forgotten. It is fascinating in its detail, becoming more engrossing the further you read. The heroine and narrator is a 17-year-old girl living in an English village in 1255, locked in the room where she is to remain for the rest of her life. She is an anchoress, a holy woman maintained by the lord of the manor in a small stone hermitage attached to the village church, where she spends her days and nights in prayer for her community. . She has two servants, who bring their own stories and those of the village as well as food and embroidery to pass the time between prayers. Priests come to hear her confession once a week, although a curtain veils her from the gaze of men. The book is not about exciting events but absorbing in its exploration of a world so different from our own. Added 11/05/2015 by Heather

Etta and Otto and Russell and James / by Hooper, Emma,

Publication: . 278 pages ; 22 cm.

A delightfully quirky book! Etta, in her early 80s, gets up early one morning, leaves some recipes and a note for her husband Otto to tell him not to worry, packs a bag and sets out to walk halfway across Canada to see the ocean. "I've never seen the water, so I've gone there." Russell, the neighbour who also loves Etta, follows to make sure she is all right. And James is a friendly coyote who joins her. The story moves between Etta's present travels and her memories of the past. The book is both funny and wise. Added 09/05/2015 by Heather

The last dance / by McIntosh, Fiona,

Publication: . 416 pages ; 24 cm.

A nice enough story but suffers a little from lack of research which I've noticed in previous Fiona McIntosh novels. e.g. 2 pound 50 in the 1930's instead of 2 pound 10 shillings. Added 01/05/2015 by Kath

Tell the truth / by Howell, Katherine,

Publication: Sydney, N.S.W. : Pan Macmillan Australia, 2015 . 326 pages ; 24 cm. Date: 2015

Last book in the Detective Ella Marconi/Sydney Paramedics series. Excellent multi-layered story with a happy-ish ending. Added 28/04/2015 by Kath

Blood, wine and chocolate : a novel / by Thomas, Julia,

Publication: . 340 pages ; 24 cm

This is currently topping the NZListener's Top 10 Selling books - and with blood, wine and chocolate in the title that's not a surprise! Its divided into five Parts - and the last three reflect the title. For me this is where the story got going. The first two parts set the scene, introducing the characters first as children, then as they grow up. I found this drawn out but I'm glad I persevered as once the 'real' story kicked in it was a real page turner. I look forward to reading Julie Thomas's other books. Added 12/04/2015 by Kaye

New Hokkaido / by McNaughton, James,

Publication: . 224 pages ; 21 cm

What if Japan had occupied NZ in World War 2? James McNaughton imagines this then sets his novel in 1987 in a still occupied NZ. The concept is fascinating and much of the detail amusing or thought provoking (eg clandestine NZ Culture meetings with sausage rolls, pavs and bush shirts). The plot is somewhat convoluted with many aspects - crime, justice, prejudice, sex, rock n roll - and I had a sense of it being a much longer (first) novel edited down so some continuity is lacking. Explicit sex scenes remain and for me they could have been condensed as I wanted the story to continue rather than take time for this. Still, it is great to see NZ publishing trying something different and worth reading just to make you think 'what if?'. Added 12/04/2015 by Kaye

Broadchurch / by Kelly, Erin,

Publication: . 433 pages ; 20 cm.

This is a book written after the TV programme - so retells the first series. I had watched most of that but forgotten heaps of detail so I enjoyed reading this and got caught up in the story and characters once again. Erin Kelly's style is easy to read. I think it would still be a good read even if you have had no experience of the TV programme. Added 12/04/2015 by Kaye

Big little lies / by Moriarty, Liane,

Publication: . 679 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.

Loved reading this book. It was well written with many colourful characters, couldn't wait to find out what happened at the end. Added 08/04/2015 by Jacqui

The skeleton road / by McDermid, Val,

Publication: . 406 pages ; 24 cm.

My first Val McDermid novel and I was expecting a 'who dunnit' with a Scottish setting. I got that - and more. This story is baou the Balkans War and the crimes it deals in are more complex and far reaching than a 'simple' murder. Its about justice, revenge, loss and death. The war history is revealed as it is entwined with a current Scottish murder investigation. Not an easy read but worth it. Added 06/04/2015 by Kaye

Gentlemen formerly dressed / by Gentill, Sulari,

Publication: Neutral Bay, N.S.W. : Pantera Press, 2013 . 361 pages ; 24 cm. Date: 2013

I enjoyed this book and, like Roger, I'd like to read more. It is book 5 in the Rowland Sinclair series but reads very well as a a standalone novel. Its setting and the use of (probably fictitious) newspaper articles from the time make it of deeper interest than the usual suspense novel - but it still has plenty of pace and plot to keep the reader turning the pages. An Australian author and one I will look out for. Kaye Added 06/04/2015 by Kaye

Laughing all the way to the Mosque : the misadventures of a Muslim woman / by Nawaz, Zarqa,

Publication: . 221 pages ; 23 cm

A book which is both amusing and informative, as it tells the story of a girl born in England and her fight to be more Western than her conservative Pakistani parents but also at the same time more Islamic - defending both women's rights and her faith. Added 06/04/2015 by Heather

Runaway / by May, Peter,

Publication: . 424 pages ; 24 cm.

Nostalgia for the Baby Boomers - loved it! Four lads run away from home in the early 60s to form a band. Their adventures in London and the consequences today. Great read. Added 06/04/2015 by Kath

The beautiful mystery / by Penny, Louise,

Publication: London : Sphere, 2012 . 376 p. ; 24 cm. Date: 2012

This is an amazing story - I couldn't put it down. Music, love, murder, the Catholic church, long-lost monks - it's all here. I have read previous books in this series but none of them match up to this. Added 03/04/2015 by Kath

In touch with Grace / by Pattrick, Jenny,

Publication: Auckland, N.Z. : Black Swan, 2006 . 222 p. ; 20 cm. Date: 2006

Yet another great book by this New Zealand author. This one is set in a middle class suburb and concerns the life of Grace, an elderly widow. She belongs to the local bowls club and this is where she finds most of her social interaction but she also has a very good friend in Mildred, another widow. She comes across an old flame and breaks the calm flow of her very even life when they become friends in the nicest possible way. The author brings her characters to life and the reader becomes their friend, so well does she capture the ups and downs of old age. A lovely book and very highly recommended

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