Why We Sleep – book review

Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker

I think this is the first time I’ve reviewed a self help book. They’re not really my thing. I place them in the same category as people who start sentences with: “You know what you should do?” The answer is usually to get on with something more interesting than whatever it is they think I need help with.

But I do need help with sleep.

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Remember Me – book review

Remember Me, by Charity Norman

Ah! Charity Norman. I wanted a book to be hooked on and I knew her latest, Remember Me, would deliver. I’ve read dozens of books over summer and only a few of them have made it to review. The rest, ho hum, won’t hit these pages because they simply didn’t grip me. This blog is meant to be a collection of books I’ve enjoyed! So, thanks Charity, for getting me back on track.

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small bodies of water –book review

small bodies of water by nina mingya powles

Straight away this book indicates poetry, from the lack of capitalisation on the cover to the beautiful title. Small bodies of water. That’s us. I thought about this when I was swimming recently and think I have never been described so beautifully.

“I never told you anything important about myself but if you had asked, if you had paused to listen, I would have said: my dreams take place in the rainy season.

Poetry or very poetic prose. Every sentence carries a lyricism, a hint of a wider, more exotic world, and hits a feeling that builds on this central emotion of being awash.

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The Telling Time–book review

The Telling Time by P J McKay

We meet Gabrijela stuffing sardines into tins at a factory, greasy and fish-stinking and dreaming of life beyond her village on an island off the Dalmatian coast. It’s 1959 and there is no bright future for a girl like her: it’s a family or the fishery. She’d like to be a teacher.

She loves her mother, her brother and her friends; her father is domineering but she accepts this and it’s a happy childhood. Then her mother’s half-brother, who has been distant for years and is now an official in Tito’s party, comes to oversee some work on the island and takes up residence in the household.

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The Lincoln Highway—book review

Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

The Lincoln Highway follows Amor Towles’ masterpiece that is A Gentleman in Moscow, which I highly recommend. That’s a hard act to follow and this new novel is bigger and more ambitious with a wide cast of characters, multiple viewpoints and a storyline that deliberately goes in the wrong direction. Where the Moscow gentleman was confined to one hotel for almost the entire book, this 580 page monster of a story roams halfway across America.

It is in the style of a classic 1950s American roadie and features a group of footloose young men and a couple of cars.

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The New Ships—book review

The New Ships, by Kate Duignan

Stripped bare, this is a book a story about a man stripped bare.

Peter is confronted by a portrait painted by his wife. It’s a naked man, sitting on a chair. Nothing else. He is not even sure it is him. He wife has died of cancer, Peter is in mourning and he finds the painting in a shed at their Castlepoint bach, a exposed place he wants to sell. Even the bach is not what he thought; the field he believed was his actually belongs to a neighbour.

This is a mid-life crisis story if ever there was one. Every concept Peter uses to define himself is stripped away on the turning point of his wife’s death.

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Waitapu—book review

Waitapu, by Helen Waaka

I read Waitapu over a couple of leisurely evenings and loved it. It’s a beautiful book, elegantly written and so evocative of every small town in New Zealand that we know from a drive past, or a dip into when we visit a grandparent. I remember going with a Wellington friend home to small town NZ and this takes me back there, the interconnected community, the talk across the fence, the visits. There was a sort of pride that everyone knew each other but an embarrassment, too. My friend couldn’t wait to be away again.

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Loop Tracks — book review

Loop Tracks, by Sue Orr

I’d have bought stacks of Loop Tracks for my women friends for Christmas if most of my wf hadn’t already read it and recommended it to me.

Sue Orr has hit the zeitgeist with this story of a 50-something woman living on a Wellington hill and bringing up her socially awkward teenage grandson. There are many topics in the book, which begins with the woman as a sixteen-year-old girl on the verge of an abortion which she decides against, a decision that comes to define her life. The loops run through themes of women’s rights, shame, love, trust, control, freedom and responsibility like a loop pedal on the sound track of a young woman’s guitar.

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The Seven Sisters — book review

The Seven Sisters, by Lucinda Riley

Yes, shivers run down spines and everyone is fabulously rich, mysterious and beautiful so put aside all hope for a literary experience, embrace the superlatives and read this for the sheer joy of a long and complicated story, well told.

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Hokitika Town — book review

Hokitika Town by Charlotte Randall

A while ago someone told me their cousin/sister-in-law (can’t remember) Charlotte Randall wrote New Zealand books and I so wish I could remember who it was because I want to thank them profusely. I’m reading my way through all Randall’s novels and thoroughly enjoying every page.

The Curative is set in Bedlam and is funny. I’ll reread it before reviewing, but thoroughly recommend it. The Bright Side of my Condition , again, is bleak and hilarious. Both of these books are told by people who, after some life-changing event, have little of anything left other than the insides of their heads but what goes on there is imaginative as hell. Randall seems to enjoy exploring the inner madness of men.

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