Jack Reacher is back and I for one am very happy. I am a diehard Lee Child fan and I eagerly await his latest release, in this series, every year.
This book is a prequel; usually I am a little wary of authors who start to write prequels, it smacks of a lack of imagination and a need to pad out a storyline for an easy buck. There is method in Mr Child’s madness though. This is the 21st Reacher book and year on year our hero is getting older – we all still want the thinking man’s action packed story, but simple maths means that Reacher will not be as sprightly as in years past. By setting this in an earlier stage of the characters life, we have a good action packed story that doesn’t detract from or change the history we share with the Reacher.
Set in 1996, I must admit I found it hard to reconcile the lack of knowledge of computers and the internet that the book portrays, in my memory we have always been computer savvy and I can’t believe that the year before my daughter was born we were quite so much on the back burner. Nothing detracts from a good Reacher novel though and this was a cracker. Mr Child is back on point and delivering a fast-paced original story. I must say that his story content has changed over time. There is a lot more personal involvement and some quite graphic adult storyline at one point. I was quite shocked where Mr Child led us, and I’m not completely sure it was necessary to the overall storyline but all in all this was a good read that I flew through in less than a weekend.
For all those Reacher diehards this is a keeper and for anyone who doesn’t know this brilliant anti-hero, start at the beginning and catch up. You will not be disappointed.
Just after midnight last night, 14 November 2016, I was forcefully shaken awake by an earthquake that saw me dive under the nearest table. After what felt like 2-3 minutes of rocking and rolling, it abated and I checked online to see which North Island area had been hit. I was quite astonished to find that this magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Hanmer Springs in the South Island, which is quite a long way from Dannevirke. Shortly after, the string of large earthquakes continued with several strong quakes at Kaikoura and Seddon, and several smaller one’s throughout the North Island from Taupo, White Island, and in Taranaki.
This video shows what it felt like in Wellington, with three scared cats:
The initial earthquake was felt strongly over all of New Zealand, and the radio was abuzz with concerned citizens from Dargaville to Dunedin, as there was absolutely no word from the epicentre for quite some time. Eventually, it was ascertained that many homes were badly damaged or destroyed, and sadly two people have been killed (to date). There are still people missing however, and an unspecified number of casualties. News is still forthcoming as access to some areas has been cut off by landslides.
Earthquakes of various severity have continued almost non-stop since last night as you can see on the Geonet monitoring site. A small tsunami of 1-2 metres struck the East Coast of the South Island around Kaikoura shortly after the quakes also.
New Zealand is a country sitting astride two tectonic plates of course, so this sort of thing is expected. Not many New Zealanders haven’t experienced earthquakes, and accept that this is the price we pay to live in this little bit of paradise (doesn’t mean we have to like them though!). Kiwis are aware that a “big one” can hit at any time, and our Government continually advises us all to have grab-bags prepared and stores of food/water. Lessons have been learned from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, but inevitably, complacency sets in until we are harshly jolted into reality again.
Historically, there have been many big earthquakes before. The largest ever recorded in NZ was magnitude 8.2 in 1855 – of course, the Taupo Supervolcano would’ve caused tremendous earthquakes but that was 27,000 years ago, before recorded history. These days Taupo is very closely monitored so that the NZ population will have plenty of warning before the next event ; in fact GNS Science (geoscience) has a research base there.
We hope everyone is coping with this difficult situation, and that the people close to the epicentres are being safely cared for. Let’s hope that the situation settles down again soon. Kia kaha.
Addendum: both North & South Islands of NZ have physically moved from this quake.
Nnedi Okorafor is an American African author and a professor of creative writing at the University of Buffalo, New York. The Book Of Phoenix is the stand-alone prequel to his novel ‘Who Fears Death’.
The Book Of Phoenix begins in the near future, with the world partially drowned by global warming, but human life continuing to develop despite this. Okorafor paints a picture of a high-tech culture in what’s left of Manhattan, which is home to Tower 7. This unique building houses a centre of human/cybernetic genetic experimentation, run by the pitiless Big Eye corporation.
Big Eye enslaves people and ruthlessly experiments on them, producing high-tech prosthetics and even nanotech methods of procuring eternal life, which it sells to the world’s elite for mega-billions. Our heroine Phoenix is a product of this technology. She’s only two years old, but has the body and mind of an adult; actually she’s a super-woman, with unimaginable powers. Once Phoenix attains full knowledge of her capabilities, she realises that Tower 7 isn’t her comfortable home, it’s a prison.
Along with her friends Saeed and Mmuo, Phoenix devises a destructive escape from Tower 7, the story takes off, and so does Phoenix herself, pursued by the dreaded Big Eye. Phoenix and her friends begin a war against Big Eye, and become terrorist outlaws, hunted around the world.
Nnedi Okorafor has a stripped-down style, she employs short sentences and chapters, and often addresses the reader personally. Her main characters are African and Arabian, and a large part of the story is set in Africa. Phoenix is the most original book I’ve read in 2016, (so far), and really defies categorization. Part sci-fi, part folk tale, part horror, part parable…this book will be interpreted differently by every reader. Personally, I found it a compulsive page-turner.
Reviewed by Keith Smith
Our Summer Reading Programme is designed for children aged 3 to 10 years (or Year 6 in school) to give a spoken “report” on books, which develops communication skills, confidence and self-esteem.
Registrations open 14 November, and finish when the (limited) places are filled. The programme folders will be given out from 21 November, and the SRP (report ins) start from 5 December 2016. Parents must register their children – children may not self-register.
A report-in is a short (5 minute) oral summary of the story, which the child gives to library staff or volunteers. Our expectations of report-in quality depends on the child’s age and personality – we want to make reading fun, not scary! It’s a discussion about the book basically, we don’t expect a speech. Rural children may send written book reports via email if they are unable to visit the library.
Four report-ins are required to complete the programme, and children receive a small incentive gift after each report. They may complete a fifth bonus report if they wish. At the end of the programme, a Finale is held, and each child who has completed the programme will receive a certificate and free book.
Reports are limited to one report at a time, none on Saturdays, and up to two in any one week. If you are traveling, you can report in at any other East Coast library participating.
For more information, please contact your local library.
The iRead programme is for kids in Year 7 or 8 at school. They are required to do written book reports, which develops communication skills, confidence and self-esteem.
Registrations open 14 November, and finish when the (limited) places are filled. The programme booklets will be given out from 21 November, and the SRP (report ins) start from 5 December 2016. Children or parents may register for this.
A written report is usually a summary of the story in the child’s own words. Our expectations of report quality depends on the child’s age and reading level – we want to make the experience fun, but also develop literacy skills. Rural children may send written book reports via email if they are unable to visit the library.
After every 3 reports, the child may choose a free book to keep – up to a maximum of 4 free books. Every report also allows the child to enter our district draw for a free tablet.
For more information, please contact your local library.
Both these programmes are provided with support from the Eastern & Central Community Trust.
‘Moon: from 4.5 billion years ago to the present’ by David M. Harland (2016)
Haynes Owners’ Workshop Manuals are reputable, usually covering vehicles. This makes one about the Moon eye-catching. It does not disappoint. It is not just comprehensive, but easy to read. Even its graphics of such things as lunar movement and related mechanics are understandable.
In reviewing the development of our understanding of the Moon, Harland touches on its huge influence in human culture. We see the history of idea development; the overlap between the history of astronomy, technology, science and religion; the distinction between science and ideology; and the social context of these.
This book should appeal to a wide range of people, from casual readers to students of areas such as astronomy; geology; the history, philosophy and sociology of science (they inseparably overlap); and more. For those who grew up with the ‘space race’ and lunar exploration, this area is well covered, right up to recent findings.
There appear to be some errors from the editing phase (e.g. p.66), but otherwise the only criticisms I might have are that it lacks an index – which is ironic, as Haynes car manuals have indexes – and a list of further reading. However, in the age of the internet, neither reduces the information value of this book. Find it in the library here.
reviewed by Steve
Death Of A King : the real story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jn.’rs final year by Tavis Smiley, is an intimate portrait of a man out of his depth, rushing to catch up with the divisions in a fragmenting society. Smiley reveres King and is unapologetic about it, but also reveals his hero as all too human. Smiley often puts himself in King’s mind and feels free to express the man’s noble emotions, but is unafraid to reveal his foibles. Smiley reveals King as not only a mighty fighter and a martyr for civil rights, but as a sinner, wracked by guilt over his infidelities, often beset by doubts over the direction he was taking.
Smiley’s book is a brave, absorbing and moving portrait of the last frenetic 365 days in the life of a legendary and adored champion of the cause of equality and non-violence, in an era when violence and hatred seemed to be running out of control.
In a year when thousands of National Guardsmen, accompanied by tanks, were on the streets of Newark and Detroit, in the USA, and the brutal war in Vietnam was raging, King was also beset on all sides. Increasingly seen as an Uncle Tom by the younger, more militant generation, attacked by former allies for “splitting” the civil rights movement through his condemnation of the Vietnam War, King wrestled with depression, travelled endlessly, fought tirelessly for his cause, even as the cause threatened to slip out of his grasp.
While young radical black leaders wore African dashikis, leather jackets, berets and afros, King stuck to his conservative black suits and ties…with gallows humour, he called this style “coffin–ready.” He continued to refer to “Negroes,” and to preach in a Christian manner, his message of non-violence and brotherly love contrasting with the fiery words of the younger leaders, such as Stokely Charmicael, who denounced national conscription for Vietnam; “The draft is white people sending black people to make war on yellow people in order to defend the land they stole from red people.”
Today, when many are dismayed by the rise and rise of the demagogic Donald Trump, we can perhaps reflect that Trump’s ascendancy has been mainly brought about by insider dealing and outright corruption in Washington. Back in 1967–68, with American cities in flames, King “…excoriated Congress for moral degradation.” How much has changed?
I’d recommend Death Of A King highly. It reads more like a novel than a biography…it’s a grim subject with a tragic outcome, but an excellent and enlightening read.
PS: Immediately after King’s death, it was revealed that he had intended to preach at his old church, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta Georgia, the following Sunday. The subject of the undelivered sermon: Why America may go to hell.
Reviewed by Keith Smith
If, like me, you still retain an interest in aspects of the Nazi 1000 Year Reich which, thank God, lasted only 10, you may find this book as compelling as I did. ‘The Perfect Nazi’ by Martin P. Davidson tells the absolutely true story of one young German man who embraced Nazism and everything Adolf Hitler stood for, with extreme enthusiasm.
He progressed through the 1920’s and 1930’s to become an officer of middle rank in first the SA and later the SS. What makes this book special is that is written by the SS officers grandson, a Scotsman and senior executive of the BBC, who always knew his maternal grandfather was German but knew almost nothing of his frightful life.
Martin Davidson, the grandson, decided to find out, once and for all, about his now deceased grandfather. And so he did. With considerable research, delving into the records, films, diaries etc. covering that dreadful two and a half decades of violence, hysteria, rhetoric, dictatorship, fear and loathsome anti-Semitism, resulting in the so called Final Solution, the whole brief history of Nazi Germany is laid open in the life of this one man. It is a searingly honest attempt to discover what motivated and to some extent explained the attitudes and behaviour of a very typical family man and SS officer. It paints a compelling picture of how Hitler and his ludicrous – where they were not horrifyingly criminal – ideas seduced a generation, enabling those ideas to be put speedily and efficiently onto action.
The Perfect Nazi is a compelling read and perhaps an eye opener for the younger reader for whom Hitler and the Second World War are just history.
– Larry Gordon
‘The girl on the train’ by Paula Hawkins is suspense fiction that will keep you guessing til the end. Written in a similar style to ‘Gone Girl’, with flashbacks between past and present, the plotline was peppered with red herrings all the way through.
Rachel is a woman who spends her days travelling back and forth on the train, pretending to go to work, so that her landlady doesn’t discover that she is jobless. She spends her days in an alcoholic haze, trying to get over the loss of her marriage two years ago. Her only entertainment is imagining the lives of the people she sees from the train, and in particular, a couple she calls Jess and Jason. From her view into the back of the house, she has only ever witnessed loving exchanges until the day she see’s Jess kissing another man in the garden.
Soon after, Rachel reads in the newspaper that Megan (Jess) has been missing for a week, and her husband Scott (Jason) is distraught. She tells the police about the other man but he is dismissed as a suspect, so Rachel decides to investigate on her own. She worms her way into both men’s lives, only to discover that things are not what they seemed.
In the meantime, she is constantly plagued by alcoholic blackouts where she can’t remember what has happened. One of these occurred on the night that Megan disappeared, and Rachel knows that she witnessed something important but what? To complicate things, her ex-husband and his new wife (who live nearby Megan and Scott) are threatening to report her to the police for harassment, and she really doesn’t know what is real and what is imagined.
Throughout the novel, the author manipulates the reader’s emotions by constantly switching up points of view so that you aren’t quite sure who to root for – is Rachel a good person or not? Did she actually see something or not? You’ll have to read it to find out….
Yesterday, I flushed my mood
down the toilet and watched as ugly stains
diffused across ceramic.
They were slightly viscose and definitely not
what I’d wish to show my in-laws, or future boss,
or even myself.
I make a habit of this bathroom drama.
Every so often,
when the bile catches in my throat,
or my pleasant demeanor
becomes faintly pinched ;
or I hear my phone beep emails I am dreading,
or texts from dreary friends with little to do in their lives
but pester people doing less, I feel it:
feel my mood going slightly sour.
Just a faint whiff, mind you,
but that becomes compounded with a depressed compressor.
(Apparently something to do with a car,
but I know nothing about such things,
only that they cost more than my budget allows
and take a depressingly long time to fix
and I’m stuck with stick-shift gears that no one
who is not a hundred and two can possibly manage.)
Yes, I feel it,
that transient change
from gritty to grimy,
chirpy to cheerless.
I feel it first as a grey aura,
but I’m told grey is the new black, and if that is so,
its probably more of an unseemly pea green.
It’s nothing that anyone who is sensible can find convivial,
or even on the outer fringes of fashionable.
It becomes opaque,
thick enough to choke if I did not shake myself and tell myself sternly
that it is time for the toilet.
I’ve been flushing my moods for rather a long time, now.
It started with second hand cigarette fumes in my mother’s car.
I still see it, the remnants of forty cigs a day,
smashed and smoking in a tray of ash the size of a tiny fist. I
don’t think it was ever emptied, but it must have been,
because the next day another forty materialized,
to be battered deliberately into the grill,
just the stumps and the ash and hopeful embers.
of lucky-last smoke and tears in my eyes and my lungs.
My ears fare no better. Alternate orifices
for the smoke and the sourness,
latching on to the endless jingles
of the hissing radio,
stuck somewhere between two stations,
each more insanely boring
and intensely invasive than the next.
The adverts, so asinine,
used to slither into the cornerstones of my consciousness
and play games
up there, repeating themselves endlessly.
I am just a vacant vehicle.
until I get into the habit of firmly flushing
down the rose marble toilet.
Not nice, but nothing deposited there is nice,
so surely it serves as a respectable
receptacle for my thoughts?
I hate watching the last edges of slime on paper,
but when it’s gone,
the bowl is clean
and my mood is once more fresh.
© Hayley Solomon
The Potter Shapes the Clay
The potter shapes the clay
Firm hands moulding
Imbuing their creation
With raw imagination
The potter shapes the clay.
The painter shapes the colours
Turning hue into form
A blank space they transform
Sharing their unique view
With just yellow, red and blue
The painter shapes the colours.
The singer shapes the melody
Sweet voice soaring
Emotion from sound
The singer shapes the melody.
The poet shapes unreality
Lending subtle wonder
Tearing the mundane asunder
Speaking to the heart
Touching the soul through their art
The poet shapes unreality.
© Becky-Ellen Johnson
All summer we careened all over the island in clapped-out cars
down dusty caminos. Caught saffron sunsets at perilous addresses
Turn left at the gold boulder, follow the road til the hairpin corner
We’re the big villa over the cliffs – you’ll hear the drum n bass.
Curated chimeric outfits, violent lipstick, draped ourselves in scowls
swoons and cigarettes. Screamed todo verano, hierbas con hielo, Ibiza
Eivissa, I’ll be there, No hay de que! Jumped from the rocks into the
blue. Cocooned now in the nest of my only jersey, I grip the wheel, watch
wipers lance mucous rain. Reverse, First, Indicate, Away. Skirt
the gluey swap, skim the muslin-fogged coast, stall at the bay
where we skinny-dipped in the light of a cocktail tray moon. Some say
it could snow. My Fiat groans with neglect, scowls at winter beaches
below: a mess of Medusas, Men O War: the ocean’s ghosts
Keep driving, keep breathing, this was never your home.
© Annabel Wilson
The beach holds stories that are hidden,
In the footprints and trails that have once been in the sand,
Some forever held secret and forbidden,
A city born, if the owners, could claim back a bit of beach land.
A metropolis of sandcastles on the beach,
Aborigines, explorers, tourists and locals as dwellers,
Pristine sea views all within reach,
Those who live here are happy fellers.
For some it’s their first return in centuries or years,
For a few, they won’t be back and their time is done,
Coz memories cause them pain and tears,
Many come here often for the sheer joy and fun.
Those who tread the beach years before,
In bathing caps and knee length bathers,
Can scarcely believe they’re here once more,
Changes abound from modern day surfboards to lifesavers.
Sometimes the beach attracts high class heels and dressed up dolls,
However most beachgoers are egalitarian whom you meet,
With steps taken in tramping boots and cushioned soles,
But mainly in thongs and by unclad feet.
There are languages aplenty as the beachgoers talk,
Some cannot leave footprints in the sand,
They’re for the time disabled or sick and cannot walk,
It’s a city diverse in the guys and gals on the land.
The distant lights of cargo ships light the night sky,
An extra twinkle for lovers in their sandcastle bed,
Either shacked up for a night and their lives seem a lie,
Or true to one another and they are or may be wed.
Council Officers often screen and patrol the beach,
Enforce signs limiting activities and stating what’s off bounds,
They’ll be onto you if you don’t comply, like a ready leech,
Scavenging seagulls are preferred to unleashed hounds.
Nature rules the beach, with seabirds galore,
They chirp and cheep, squawk and squeak,
And can be hard to hear above the ocean’s roar,
As the waves pound, the loudest shrill pales to weak.
The tide comes in, there’s relentless wind and rain,
Except for fresh seabird steps, the footprints are washed away,
The beach is more akin to nature and sandcastles don’t remain,
But the beach is still on the minds of many, every single day.
© Sheryll Mitchell
Woman of the deep drawn
Breath, the long umbilical line
Nga Hau E Wha, STAND!
Your feathers and woven
coverings address you
Fetch your hair, Nga Hau E Wha
Those lustrous coils you cut as one
would cut wheat. My eye follows
their spiral ghosts inwards, marks
the intricate pattern at your shoulders
about your strong thighs
Your numerous children
honour you, Nga Hau E Wha
You taught them the stars
Your hands were their shelter
Woman of the deep drawn breathe
We dance the turning of the year
We are the babes left at your doorstep
Woman of the Four Winds
Nga Hau E Wha
© Jenny Dobson
Today, Friday 7 October 2016, I retire from the Eketahuna Library/Service Centre. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have spent working here, firstly relieving for the Service Centre and then job sharing for the combined Library/ Service Centre/ Money Exchange. Through my job I have got to mix with a great bunch of people, the customers coming in the door ( young and old), TDC staff and, on occasion, a great bunch of Librarians from the other Libraries in the Eastern and Central region. From my early days of making a cuppa and serving it to the Community Board members in bone china teacups, through painting dragons, fairies etc to decorate for the summer Reading programmes, to the more everyday matters of dog registrations and rates and pot holes in our metal road, the work has been varied and interesting.
I know that the time is right to retire but still have no doubt that I will miss you all. I will still frequent the Library and continue to live in Eketahuna so will still be in touch. Thanks and Goodbye.
– Janice Percy