Skip to content

2019 Poetry Competition Entry : On the north-west wind rise by Dessa Bluu


Not a single hound with a bright shiny necklace amongst the blue-blooded pack

Only the one psychotic bitch declared chronically mentally sick with bling around her neck

Diagnosed compulsive topsy-turvy belly up absurdity and out of control

Had sophisticated organs all the way upstairs in every day glee delusional

Doggedly confused never ending chase of her runaway tail, exhausted pants to no avail

Vertigo amplified wide-ranged so dreadful in general acquainted surround

Minor epoch traumatic sufferings, catastrophic and daily recurrent

By the shadowed hunters grossly overzealous as well as inhumanly wild

Journeyed through age-old, blasé in the flesh no longer seeking to be held

Hideous mind confounded by devastations, completely zero impressive

Disordered and weary, leapt and extended at long last seized her battered tail

Collapsed dog-tired in a crumpled up muddle, greeted final laboured yelp

No more maladies forever departed, demented prized crown, by right extinct

Consoled relieved connected sympathised and yapped over blackened brand new stone

Suppressed forever, apprehensive fragilities with her showy sparkly band laid too

On the Hauraki plains, the north-west wind, up on a little rise near Pohutukawa

Where her happiest well-balanced whiles stood, long before assessed unwell


Kids book club Term 3 2019 – YOLO

Free book club for children aged 8-12. Talk about books you love (not compulsory, so don’t worry if you’re shy) and do other fun stuff too.  You can join at any time.

Dannevirke : Monday 22 July 4 to 5pm ; 12 August ; 2 September ; 23 September.

Pahiatua:  Monday 22 July 3.30 to 4.30pm ;12 August ; 2 September ; 23 September.

Eketahuna : Thursday 25 July 3.15-4.00pm ; 15 August ; 5 September ; 26 September.

Woodville:  Tuesday 23 July 3.15-4.00pm ; 13 August ; 3 September ; 24 September.

THEMES:  each session has it’s own theme that will be discussed at that session so please be prepared beforehand ;

(1st) read a non-fiction title

(2nd) read a junior fiction novel composed mainly of graphics

(3rd) read a sophisticated picture book

(4th) read any book then submit an online review for the library blog.

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

Novice Nona Grey, aged twelve, has now advanced to Grey Class.  The intensity of her lessons in fighting, stealth and magic have also increased, and she is usually pitted against the Chosen One, Zole, to whom she is the designated Shield.  However, politics soon intrudes into the convent life of Sweet Mercy when the Emperor’s sister, Sherzal (who is the head of the Inquisition), contrives to have Abbess Glass arrested on charges of heresy. All this is designed to have the skills of the Sisters under her control, and have access to Zole of course.  But the Abbess has forseen much, and has put her own plans in motion years ago.

But, while this is taking place, Nona was forced to flee the convent because her life is in danger. Sherzal has promised to deliver her to a Lord with a grudge. So Nona undertakes a quest she has long been planning – retrieving the stolen Shipheart that was taken from the Abbey at the cost of her friends life. Unfortunately, her plan is quickly thwarted and she finds herself a prisoner.

As Nona and the Abbess’ paths intertwine, and events build to a tense climax, I find myself rooting for them both – even though I’m beginning to wonder if Nona is on the good side or the bad? Is she the Shield or not? Plenty of action, intrigue and character development in this one. I can’t wait for the conclusion to this trilogy!



2019 Poetry Competition Entry – “The perfection curse”

“THE PERFECTION CURSE” –  by Murray Orchard

Why are others so inferior to me? I see their faults and failings
Why is it that they just can’t be, like me, so, well, amazing?
I’ve often wondered how these strange folk come out as they do
Why their actions don’t adhere to standards like mine do

But I planted beans again this year; same plot, same dirt, same water
I fed them fertiliser there, but they didn’t grow as they oughta
It seems that subtle changes from one year to another
Make the crops of veges grow different from each other

It’s made me think that people grow with subtle changes too
Same country, town, street, even home, yet different somehow from you
So I’ve got to try to stop myself from seeing them as they are
I need to see them as they’ve become – and that in terms of ‘so far’

We’re all a work in progress. ‘So far’ is what you get
If I’d had all their circumstances I’d be a lot different I’ll bet
If I’d had all their circumstances, I’d probably have come out worse
So I’ll cut them some slack and accept their faults and break this ‘perfection’ curse


Open Mic Poetry Evening 2019

Join us on Thursday 22nd August 2019 for an evening of poetry on the open mic. Bring along some poetry to recite  – either your own, or your favourite poets, or both.
Light refreshments provided.  BYO permitted.

Entry Details: Free Adults 18+ only

Date/Times: 22 August 2019, 6.30pm-9pm


  1. Eketahuna Library , 31 Main Street, Eketahuna NZ
  2. Woodville Library, 45 Vogel Street, Woodville NZ


Coming?  Tell us by 19 August 2019:  Please let us know your intention to come by telling staff at any branch of Tararua District Library, or email your name to (Eketahuna) or (Woodville).  Contact details

See our Facebook Page for up to date information   

Poetry Competition 2019 – express yourself!

From 8 July to 23 August 2019, Tararua District Library is celebrating National Poetry Day with our annual Poetry Competition, for New Zealand.

Win the prize!  Get the glory!  Winners announced on National Poetry Day, Friday 23 August 2019.

Need some tips?  Learn about writing poetry here or you can be a manly poet or a slam poet, or check out one of our many poetry books.

Please  read the rules:

  1. Open to all New Zealand residents aged 18 and over (employees of Tararua District Library are not eligible to enter)
  2. The winner will be announced on ‘Phantom Billstickers’ National Poetry Day 23th August 2019, on this blog and our Facebook page.
  3. All entries must be in English, and emailed to or handed in at any branch of Tararua District Library.  If emailed, they can be in the body of the email or attached as a Microsoft Word or Publisher document. Hand written entries will be accepted, however, they must be printed and legible.
  4. A maximum of two entries per person will be accepted; at least one poem per person will be published online, selected by us.
  5. All poems to be an original creation of the person submitting it, and previously unpublished.
  6. Entries to be accompanied by the name, address and contact details of the submitter.
  7. No late entries will be accepted. Entries close 5pm Friday 16 August 2019.
  8. Judges decision is final.  Two prizes will be awarded by our judge, Chris Cape (Bush Poet) as follows:
    a)  Best poem.
    b)  Runner up.

PS, if you search poems or poetry in the blog search bar, you’ll find the wonderful entries from previous years to get your creative juices flowing. 



Nordic Noir with a twist

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik police is sixty-four years old, and dreading her impending retirement. With her husband and daughter both dead, work is her reason to get up in the morning. However, when her boss informs her that he is replacing her with a younger Detective early, and she has two weeks left all of a sudden, she decides to finish her career by re-investigating a cold case that has bothered her for months. A young Russian woman was found dead on an Icelandic shore, a year ago. The initial investigation was shoddy and it was deemed a suicide, even though the woman had head injuries.

Ragnar Jonasson

Hulda has never felt comfortable with that, and she wants to finish her career by finding justice. She soon uncovers concerning information – the Russian woman was excited because she had been accepted for asylum the day before her death. Why would she commit suicide? Unexplored leads are everywhere and soon Hulda thinks she has discovered a second murder, linked to the first. But she has made a massive mistake on another case, and instead of two weeks, she suddenly has 24-hours to wrap the case up.  Her desperation leads her to make another dangerous mistake…

I’ve never read a Nordic Noir quite like this. The mystery was certainly there, and the character development was good. It was the Runner-up – Novel of the Year Award 2015 in Iceland, selected by Icelandic booksellers. I didn’t foresee who the culprit was, and I certainly didn’t expect the ending. I’m a bit astonished that the author, Ragnar Jonasson, began the Hidden Iceland series in this manner though.  Personally, I recommend reading The Island (#2) or The Mist (#3) before this novel.



Living on the moon

In his follow-up novel to the massive hit “The Martian”, Andy Weir has switched planets from Mars to Earth’s moon.  Humans established a city colony on the moon decades ago, called ‘Artemis’, where the people live in pressurized domes which are connected to each other by tunnels and trains.  When 24-year-old Jazz Bashara can finally pass her EVA Guild test, she will be able to offer guided tours and participate in the lucrative tourist trade, but for now, working as a porter/smuggler is her most lucrative option.

One of her best clients offers her the chance to make a fortune, if she will assist him to sabotage a company’s aluminium smelting operation so that he can purchase the company, and take over the by-product oxygen supply trade at the same time.  She almost succeeds, however it results in her clients murder, and mafia hitmen are now on her trail.  It seems like the aluminium operation was just a cover, and she has stumbled into a plot to take over the entire moon economy.  With the help of her friends, Jazz develops a risky plan to prevent this happening – but it could mean everyone in the whole city dies.

In my view, this novel wasn’t quite as good as The Martian, but I did still enjoy it. Weir still used excellent wit and humour, and obviously knows his subject matter.  I think that writing in first-person female would have been pretty challenging, so maybe that was it, but he’s done a good job of character development.  All in all, definitely one worth reading.  7/10


Adult Winter Reading Challenge 2019


How to play:

  • You must be a library member … it’s free to join, if you’re local.  Join Here
  • Collect a challenge card from your local library front desk (or print it out Adult Reading Challenge 2019 Report Card)
  • Each time you complete a challenge, take your card to the library to let them know. The librarian will record it.

Weekly Draw 1 July to 7 September:

  • If you complete a challenge and report it to your librarian that week, you’ll be in the draw for a weekly prize ($20 New World voucher + coffee voucher).  Hint: to get your name in as many draws as possible, complete one challenge per week.

Grand Prize Draw:

  • If you complete a total of five challenges overall, or more, you’ll go in the draw to win a $150 meal voucher from the Black Stump, Pahiatua. Plus a cinema experience for two at the Regent Pahiatua, and a winter pamper hamper filled with goodies!  Thank you to all our sponsors.





Rising from the ashes

Once again, NZ author Deborah Challinor has written a marvellous novel. “From the ashes” is set in 1950s Auckland, it’s the story of several intermingled families. I really liked it, but I have to admit that it did take me a while to get used to the copious number of characters!  Actually, I can envision it being a successful television series.

One of the main characters is Allie Manaia – a Pakeha woman married to Sonny, a Maori man. They have had a difficult few years with the loss of their baby, and Allie nearly being killed in a department store fire (previous novel ‘Fire’ mentions this).   Their mixed-race relationship is a little controversial, and soon, one of Allie’s shop customers takes it upon herself to try and create trouble in their marriage, so that Allie will realise she can do better.  Allie’s sister Donna is a trainee nurse who gets taken in by a young handsome Doctor.  The younger sister Pauline is full of verve, but falls in love with a young Maori man and they have a bright future planned, before a tragedy unfolds. 

Sonny’s family includes his sister Polly, a beautiful woman who makes most of her money in a brothel. She uses it to support her young daughter, who is being raised by her Mum. However, when she spies the father of the child (a brothel customer) she takes the opportunity to implement a blackmail plan to see her daughters future assured. But it doesn’t quite unfold the way she wanted…

Meanwhile, Allie’s meddlesome customer is Kathleen Lawson, a rich, lonely woman. She is extremely focused on presenting the perfect high status life, but in reality, one of her children is struggling with their sexual identity, and her husband is being unfaithful.

As you can tell, this is the beginnings of a family saga and I for one, am very interested to see what happens in the next novel, House of Sorrows.



A tangle of magic

Penelope is 9 years old, and lives with her mother and grandmother. For as long as she can remember she’s had gray hair, and also the ability to know what her mum is going to say before she says it. One day, her mum has an accident and has to go to hospital for a few weeks. During this time, Penelope wakes up one morning and her gray hair has turned bright red!  Not only that, but she feels different … light, and full of possibilities. In fact, quite by accident, she discovers that she can fly, talk to the roadway, and other strange things start to happen…

Her father, she believes, is dead. But he isn’t. In fact, it seems that long ago, he left her mother and baby Penelope for another woman. Penelope discovers that every month he posts a letter of cash, and she vows to track him down and punish him for the pain he’s caused. Which she does, but the situation isn’t what she expected at all, and she has to embrace her new-found abilities to save him.

The author, Valija Zinck, was born in Ingolstadt, Germany, and worked as a dance teacher and choreographer for fifteen years. She lives with her family in Berlin.

A tangle of magic” is absolutely delightful. Full of magic and adventure. I hope we see more of Penelope in the future. Recommended for boys and girls.




Celtic Empire

It’s been years since I’ve read a Clive Cussler book. Once upon a time, I was obsessed with them and had collected them all. Then I realised that the plots were actually really formulaic and I got sick of them. Nothing has changed about Cussler’s writing style, BUT I still enjoyed reading this book for a light diversion.

In my opinion, most Cussler books are predictable – it always starts with an historical event ; then there is an action sequence where Dirk Pitt saves a woman ; then the historical event and a current day event intertwine in an action-filled story that usually involves a global threat. But in the end, the day is saved!

In “Celtic Empire”, an Egyptian Princess flees Egypt after her father, the Pharoah, dies from a plague that is affecting hundreds of males. Meanwhile, in the current day, Pitt saves a scientist who has been attacked after taking water samples from an area where the local population is very ill. It turns out that the two are inextricably linked. Pitts son and daughter peel off in a side-adventure trying to track down the remains of the Egyptian Princess while Pitt and Giordino focus on preventing a modern-day genetically engineered plague from being unleashed on the world. A plague with very far-reaching consequences.

If you are a long-time Clive Cussler fan, the 25th instalment in the Dirk Pitt series won’t disappoint.




ANZAC Day Thoughts

I see them now, the Great War vets on Anzac Days gone by

when I was just a youngster, curious, wondering why

they looked so very sombre, lifeless, lost and sad.

“They’re getting old, not many left,” the comment from my dad.

They did look old, but how could I begin to understand

that as they shuffled into line behind our Sally band

the unshared vivid memories of things they’d seen and done

were flooding back to strangle them beneath the Autumn sun.

I can’t imagine more than just a fraction of their pain

but were it possible for me to live my life over again

on Anzac Days I hope I would approach that sombre crew

and tell each bloke, in gratitude, “I will remember you”.


© Murray Orchard (2018)

#BigLibraryRead join the global bookclub!

“Homes” by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung

In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends. Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone – and found safety in Canada – with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria.

Join the #BigLibraryRead  April 1 – 15, 2019




Midnight in Chernobyl : the untold story of a nuclear disaster

MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL by Adam Higginbotham

It’s a wonder this book doesn’t glow in the dark. The cover declares “Midnight in Chernobyl” to be “a masterpiece,” and for once the dust-cover blurb is accurate. Higginbotham’s meticulously researched* dissection of the Chernobyl disaster reads more like a novel. *(About a quarter of the book consists of notes, glossary etcetera). As I turned the pages, I found myself frequently shaking my head and muttering “they did WHAT?

On the night of April 25–26 1986, Reactor Number 4 at Chernobyl, in the Ukraine, ran out of control and exploded during a test. The reactor reached a temperature of 4,650 degrees centigrade – almost the as hot as the surface of the sun – in the seconds before it burst. The subsequent explosion demolished three of the four walls and the roof of the reactor containment building, leaving the reactor core exposed to the night sky…a nuclear volcano which spread a massive cloud of highly toxic material over huge expanses of Ukraine, Russia, Scandinavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany – fallout was recorded in France, and as far away as Scotland.

Higginbotham begins a detailed record of this terrible event with a succinct analysis of the moribund Soviet system, historically tagged the Age of Stagnation, which produced a series of gigantic nuclear power stations. The huge reactors were fatally flawed in their design, and slapped together in slipshod fashion to impossible deadlines. Chernobyl is the most infamous of these ‘disasters waiting to happen.’ Higginbotham skilfully draws the reader along to the inevitable.

We meet the tireless, dedicated plant director Brukhanov, who (before he built the Chernobyl station) built Pripyat, a large town nearby, to house the hundreds of plant technicians and workers and their families. Pripyat remains a ghost town, stripped by scavengers of anything of value, now overgrown by mutated nature.  We are introduced to many of the players, from the blinkered and dictatorial men in the Kremlin, to the station technicians who attempted to cope with the event as it unfolded, and were irradiated, many of them fatally, in their efforts to ascertain the extent of the calamity. We read of the heroic helicopter pilots and firemen who flew into the updraft of lethal radiation to drop sacks filled with sand and lead pellets, in a vain attempt to smother the exposed core.

An example of the carelessness involved in the disaster; at the time the reactor exploded, blowing highly toxic core material over a wide area, two off-duty staffers were spending the night fishing in one of the reactor coolant ponds. Apparently, these ponds were inhabited by unnaturally huge carp. The two men heard a series of heavy thumps, which drew their attention to the Reactor 4 building, which then blew apart before their terrified eyes. They were knocked off their feet by a radioactive shock wave. As they lay there, staring disbelievingly, they saw a “strange, cold glow” emanating from the shattered building. It’s not recorded if they took any of the freakish carp home to Pripyat with them as they fled.

Technicians and firemen, courageously attempting to gauge the extent of the damage, saw “…a shimmering pillar of ethereal blue-white light, reaching straight up into the night sky, disappearing into infinity.”

That’s scary enough, but perhaps scarier is Higginbotham’s record of post-explosion governmental cover-up, denial, blame-shifting and outright lying which followed. The technicians on duty at the time, despite being blameless, despite risking their lives in attempts to minimise the damage, were blamed by their superiors. Plant director Brukhanov received ten years’ confinement in a penal colony, simply “…because the plant director…was ultimately responsible.”

Irradiated Pripyat was eventually evacuated, its inhabitants dispersed. Many ended up in Kiev. They found that their children were shunned at their new schools, because it was believed they were radioactive. This notion was dismissed by the authorities. Then someone checked the kids, and found they were radioactive.

Despite the grim and tragic subject, I recommend Midnight In Chernobyl highly, it’s a real page–turner. You may not need your reading light on.


Reviewed by Keith Smith