Saturday, February 26, 2011


Margot Kinberg of CONFESSIONS OF A MYSTERY NOVELIST is putting together a raffle of signed books, from various authors, to raise funds for the Christchurch earthquake relief.

Visit her blog here for more details on how to make donations.

Thank you Margot and thank you to all who are able to contribute.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Four hours drive north of my home, a city has been brought to its knees. At present 75 are confirmed dead and 300 are missing. Infrastructure is shattered, buildings flattened and the spire has fallen from the city's famous cathedral.

This morning as I hugged my family before they went off to school and work, my heart hurt for the countless people in Christchurch who are waiting for loved ones to come home.

Please keep the people of Christchurch in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, February 21, 2011


This weekend the Dunedin Public Library had their Barking Mad sale. This is where they sell off stock at ridiculously low prices. With books ranging from 50 cents to $4, how could a book lover resist?

Dunedin crime writer Vanda Symon didn't. You can read about her finds here.  I managed two trips. The first on Friday evening had me bringing home 14 novels. My daughter picked up 7 posters, numerous pony magazines and the DVD of the Maddigan's Quest TV series - originally a book by New Zealand author Margaret Mahy. Not surprisingly she was thrilled.

I just couldn't resist another trip on Sunday afternoon. There wasn't too much left, but I found another 4 novels, and my daughter grabbed another pile of magazines, a couple of pony books, and a book about Twelfth Night. She just adores Shakespeare - has done since she was 9. Once she discovered talking books of the plays she was hooked, but I digress.

So, my laden book shelves are now groaning. Recently I've had to turn the books on their sides and fill the shelves with horizontal stacks of books. It doesn't look as pretty, but it works. The problem being, even if I went out and brought more shelves I'd have nowhere to put them! Now maybe when the kids leave home ...

Amongst my new treasures are:
An Elizabeth Chadwick novel - I've been wanting to read her for awhile.
Isolde by Rosalind Miles - the first in a trilogy which looks fascinating.
The Crusader by Michael Alexander Eisner - I read this several years ago and had been wanting to re-read it.
P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern - I love the book and the movie. So romantic!
Holy Days and Classical Music by New Zealander, Joy Cowley - my kids learnt to read with her Greedy Cat books, but I've never read one of her novels for grown - ups.

Now to find an unoccupied desert island so I can read to my heart's content!

If you squint you can see me!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Having managed to pry this lose from my son's hands I proceeded to devour it at an alarming rate - despite many intrusions of a domestic ilk.

From her very first novel I have been a fan. There is something delicious about reading a book set in your own part of the woods. For those of you living in cities like London or New York, you may have become blase to this phenomenon, but to a Dunedinite  it is a rare and special treat. Vanda describes Dunedin superbly: from dollar stores to state houses, green belt to Taieri Mouth, and near perfect descriptions of Seacliff.

Female detective Sam Shephard is up to her old tricks. Not willing to rest on the obvious evidence she digs deeper, no matter the consequences. This book shows a maturing of the pint sized detective: not quite so flappable and a tendency to back up - just a little!

I'm looking forward to Vanda's next book - a departure from Sam, but not from crime. However, I hope we see more of Sam in the future.


Sunday, February 13, 2011


Most people talk about the new year in January. Very sensible idea! But with three school aged children and a hubby who teaches, January is holiday time. The first week of February is when it all starts.

We've just had our first full week and I feel like the year has got underway. My 18 year old son has begun his last year at school. He trotted off with his new pocket watch and feeling deprived that we still haven't found him a waistcoat. In the best steam punk tradition, he wants to be the epitome of the well dressed Victorian gent - with the addition of black jeans and high cut sneakers, of course.

Fourteen year old son has returned for his second year at high school and in the course of the the first week has decided to take up futsal and can't quite get his head around the fact that having guitar, bass guitar, drums and piano lessons are a little out of our budget! However, he will be continuing with guitar.

Twelve year old daughter is home schooled, and this is her last year. Next year she's off to high school. We've had a good week. We've started a new curriculum with a theme on the Middle Ages and she's going to the local intermediate once a week for technology - this term she's doing metal work.

Hubby started off the term with a terrible bout of flu and two days in bed, but is fit as a fiddle now. He teaches at a special needs school and although it's full on, he really loves the work.

And me? I'm thriving on the return to routine. It always helps me to achieve more. This year I plan to finish the first draft of my new novel - a New Zealand historical - and get through a big chunk of my TBR pile.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Last year I read all six of Sara Donati's Wilderness series books. The first was 'Into The Wilderness'. You'll find my review of it here. This, and the books that followed it are my all time favourites. So, having fished around on various blogs and seeing what Google would spit out at me, I thought I knew all there was to know about them.

Until last week.

I came across a review that mentioned Sara Donati had taken some characters from 'The Last of the Mohicans' and written a sequel. Dumbfounded, I trotted off to the library and asked one of the friendly staff to fossic in the bowels of the building for a copy of James Fenimore Cooper's novel.

Inside the rather dusty and tattered pages I found theses characters:  Cora, Nathaniel (aka Hawkeye) and Chingachgook.

Now in 'Into the Wilderness' Hawkeye and Cora's son is one of the main characters - Nathaniel Bonner. Cora has passed away and Chingachgook meets his demise early on in the book.

Fascinated by this discovery, I found a copy of the movie - The Last of the Mohicans. I remember watching it when it came out almost 20 years ago. Daniel Day Lewis made his name and I was shocked at the blood shed. This time around I was stunned by the beautiful forests. And the more I watched the more intoxicated I became at the scenery, the depiction of the town of Albany, and the scene where they hid behind a waterfall.

Although I noted that it was shot in North Carolina, not up state New York, Sara Donati's books came alive. And it got me wondering if it was Cooper's book that had inspired her or the wonderful cinematography of the movie. Either way, she wrote awesome books.

If you haven't read her books, I urge you to try them. Maybe you might like to revisit an old movie too.
And James Fenimore Cooper? Well, I had to return the book before I'd finished it. Written in 1826  it was hard going, but one day I aim to give it justice.

James Fenimore Cooper - the man who started it all.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I got this book hot off the press as I reviewed it for a local newspaper.

It has been a long time since I have read about Merlin. In my twenties I devoured anything I could find that was remotely Arthurian.  I even listened to Rick Wakeman's The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, until I wore it out! So this book was a walk down memory lane, and what a walk!

M. K. Hume writes beautifully, descriptively, and hauntingly. The characters leap off the page, their facial features, hair and clothing etched as carefully as their traits. No character is entirely evil or good, but rounded out in shades of grey.

Along with an epic story the book comes with maps, family trees, battle diagrams, a glossary and list of characters. Part one of a planned trilogy, it follows M. K. Hume's trilogy on Arthur.

A product of a brutal rape, Myrddion (Merlin) leads a lonely existence. Set apart by his strange dark colouring and spurned as a Demon Seed he finds solace with the village healer, Annwynn.  Recognising his healing skills and gift of prophecy, Annwynn takes him on as an apprentice and hones his many talents.

Meanwhile, The High King of the Celts - Vortigern - lusts for the blood of a Demon Seed to spill over the foundations of his new tower at Dinas Emrys. Myrddion is kidnapped and delivered to his king with only his prophetic gift and finely honed intelligence to save himself.

Filled with a cast of historical figures including Vortigern's Saxon wife Rowena and her kin Hengist and Horsa, M. K. Hume weaves fact and legend to create her own spell binding tale.

This is an entry for the  2011 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Today is a special day.

For the very first time my words have appeared on the printed page. Last Thursday evening I got a call asking if I would like to write a book review for one of Dunedin's local community papers - D Scene. So I trotted off on Friday morning to pick up a 574 page book - Belle by Lesley Pearse. I had to read the book and have the review written by Monday morning.

I'm happy to say I achieved the task.

Now I'm in the middle of reading a wonderful book by M. K. Hume about Merlin. (There it is over on the left of my blog.) The review for that will be in next weeks D Scene.