Monday, December 21, 2015

A trip down memory lane

The Adventures of Hutu & Kawa by Avis Acres (Penguin)

Parents and grandparents are sure to remember this classic series, but probably haven't laid eyes on it for a while. The book was originally published in 1955 and has been republished to celebrate the 60th anniversary. The publishers have produced the book in a special padded hardcover, which will help it survive in your household, classroom or library for many years to come.

The author sets the scene with a large pohutukawa tree and introduces us to the main characters - little pohutukawa babies Hutu and Kawa. With the help of Grandpa Kiwi Hutu and Kawa build a canoe and begin their adventure exploring the river. Before they go, Grandpa Kiwi gives them a whistle to blow in case of an emergency and sage advice about how to keep safe. It's not long before they experience danger and wish they are home.

At the back of the book is a page about the author. Avis wrote and illustrated three books in the Hutu & Kawa book series. She also wrote a children's comic strip based on the characters for the New Zealand Herald. Avis also wrote and illustrated the popular book 'Opo the Gay Dolphin' about the friendly dolphin who frequented Opononi beach.

The story and art work has an old-world charm. Young children will enjoy the story and I'm sure there will be a few adults who will buy it for nostalgic reasons. Would the story have been published in these times ... An editor probably would have wanted to make the kiwi family more realistic - only one species of kiwi stay together as a family. Young kiwi find their own food and the parents don't feed them. Editors might be wary nowadays of publishing a story that has young children going off on an adventure along a river, too - for safety reasons.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A must read or listen for the holidays

Banquo's Son by T.K. Roxborogh (audio recording by Brilliance Audio)

Tania Roxborogh is the author of 25 books ranging from an autobiography, plays, Young Adult novels, to text books. She wrote all the books while teaching English at Secondary Schools. She always enjoyed reading Shakespeare to her students and often wondered what happened to the Macbeth characters after the story finished. It inspired her to write a series of three books. In 2009 'Banquo's Son' was published by Penguin, then the sequels in 2010 (Bloodlines) and 2013 (Birthright). Tania knew the books would appeal to an international audience and sold the international rights to Thomas & Mercer in the UK. 'Banquo's Son: A crown of blood and honour' Book 1 came out in 2015 with much acclaim.

I had the pleasure of listening to the 'Banquo's Son' audiobook. I played it while travelling around the countryside visiting schools. Sometimes I sat in the car and continued listening - the story was so gripping I didn't want it to end. I even arrived at one school with tears in my eyes after listening to one sad part in the story. The story is made even more memorable and authentic with English comedy actor Napoleon Ryan's Scottish voice impressions.

Banquo's son Fleance has survived the death of his father ten years before, with a kind family in northern England. He's in love with Rosie and the feelings are mutual. However, he cannot commit to marriage, even though it breaks his heart to say so and leave Rosie behind. He must revenge his father's death and find answers to the many questions that his nightmares raise. Fleance slips back into Scotland not revealing who he is, as he doesn't know who he can trust or who his father's enemies were. Along the journey he makes close friends, meets the three witches whose prophesies cause more deaths, and fulfils his destiny.

A gripping read that will appeal to young adults 13 years plus including adults. Listen to it while relaxing on holiday, walking the beach with earphones in, or driving around. You'll thoroughly enjoy the audio experience. I hope the publishers also bring the next two books in the series out in audio. Listen to a free segment here.

ISBN: 978-1-5012-6657-1

You can buy kindle, mp3, audio book, paperback copies from Amazon.

An exciting debut writer

They call me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. MacLagan (Full Fathom Five Digital)

Every year I decide which YA book is my favourite for the year. Up until I went on holiday there hadn't been any that had really stuck in my mind. I took four books away with me: two NZ and two international books. I really didn't expect a book written by a first time New Zealand* author to snatch that favourite title, but it did. You always know you've read a great book when you scrabble around on the internet afterwards trying to find out when the sequel is being released. I cannot wait for the next book from T.A. MacLagan.

When I say New Zealand author - I should clarify that Tiffany MacLagan is American born but now lives with her kiwi husband and son in Wellington. Her book is actually published in the States but she wrote it in New Zealand. Tiffany has some chops - she has a Ph.D in anthropology and it was while she was writing her dissertation that she discovered a passion for creative writing.

The story has a clever and original premise ... Eighteen year old Alexandra Gastone is a sleeper spy living in America, but is originally from Olissa (Russia). At eleven years old she changed places with the real Alexandra Gastone and has lived a lie; pretending she is the granddaughter of CIA agent Albert Gastone. Just before her 18th birthday she is activated - she must kill the newly elected Olissa President while he is in America. Can she carry out the mission or will she swap sides? She must decide who her allegiance is with - her real family, her spy family or her pretend family. Read this exciting thriller to find out.

Full Fathom Five (publisher) is selling 'They call me Alexandra Gastone' on Amazon for $1.99 - I highly recommend you grab one - you'll thoroughly enjoy reading this over the holidays. Link here. It's the sort of book that will appeal to those who love spy thrillers, romance, as well as enjoying books with a strong heroine, and a story with lots of twists and turns. Suitable for 13 years plus.

ISBN: 978-1-63370-060-4