Summer reading: the experts' picks
Jenny Pattrick picks:
Summer Reads gives the impression of reading while lying on a beach, or reclining in a deck chair with birdsong all around. Do we like to read lighter fiction while on holiday or during the warm months? From my point of view, no. A good book can be a summer read or winter one. So here are four very different summer (and all year round) good reads that I've enjoyed recently.
Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley (Text)
This is an astonishingly good read. It's set in Western Australia where the author now lives, but he was born and raised in New Zealand and the book won the Ockham Book awards fiction prize. Part of the narrative is seen through the eyes of a pregnant dingo, desperate to survive, beset by a terrible thirst and hunted by humans. Then there are Painter and Lew, itinerant shearers whose relationship is sometimes violent, often tender. The love affair between Lew and Clara is told simply, contrasting with the harsh and shockingly brutal circumstances of their lives. The writing is spare, the landscape and relationships haunting – a beautiful and unforgettable read.
The Bright Side of My Condition by Charlotte Randall (Penguin)
Set on the windswept Snares Islands in the early nineteenth century this novel is based on the true story of four stowaway convicts dumped by the captain of a sealing ship to fend for themselves. It's told in the first person by one of the convicts – Bloodworth - his language marvellously rich, a risk that succeeds very well. We see through Bloodworth's eyes the struggle to survive; who will lead and who succumb over the years.
Selected Poems by Jenny Bornholdt (VUP)
A wonderful selection from her nine earlier volumes of poetry. I have this book by my bed and dip into it each night before I settle down. Her poems and short prose pieces resonate in my dreams. Accessible, often funny, always intriguing, her writing illuminates our ordinary lives. Even if you don't usually read poetry, read Jenny Bornholdt.
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Sceptre)
What a great imagination Anna Smaill has! The world she imagines here is London, post some apocalyptic event. The population is controlled by an elite sect of musicians. Writing is banned as evil and regular broadcasts of ethereal music scrambles ordinary people's memories – 'for your own good'. The heroes of this story are trying to fight against this control. An exciting, tense tale, with something to say about the importance of memory.
Leeanna Morgan picks:
A Tattooed Heart by Deborah Challenor (HarperCollins)
If you enjoy sweeping sagas set in Australia, then A Tattooed Heart will be a fabulous summer read! Set in 1832 in Sydney Town, this is the fourth and final book in the Convict Girls series. A Tattooed Heart builds on the story of Friday, Sarah, and Harrie and their arch-nemesis, Bella, with a surprise twist to the story. This novel is so well written that you can imagine yourself in Sydney Town—the sights, smell, taste, and sound of early 19th Century living are brought to life with clever descriptions and impeccable research. A must have on everyone's bookshelf.
A Long Trail Rolling by Lizzi Tremayne
Like many people, the Pony Express has always fascinated me. When I started reading A Long Trail Rolling, I wasn't prepared for the incredible story that was about to unfold. Seventeen-year-old Aleksandra is on a desperate journey to keep a secret from her father's killer—a secret that could alter the forces of power in Europe. The mystery, adventure, and danger of life in Utah in the 1860s is beautifully described. This is an authentic, emotional, story of one woman's fight for survival in an unforgiving landscape. I couldn't put Lizzi Tremayne's book down. Add it to your eReader or bookshelf today!
Trust No One by Paul Cleave (Simon and Schuster)
If you enjoy a psychological thriller, full of mystery and suspense, you need to read Trust No One by Paul Cleave. The premise is simple; a crime writer with Alzheimer's confesses to crimes, but are they real or from his books? This story will keep you on the edge of your seat, searching for the bad guy. You might be surprised by what you find!
The Great New Zealand Baking Book: all the favourites we know and love from sixty of our finest bakers, created by Murray Thom and Tim Harper (PQ Blackwell)
I have wonderful memories of my Nana teaching me how to make Belgium biscuits and Louise slice. If you want to create some amazing memories with your children, you won't want to miss, The Great New Zealand Baking Book. Full of delicious, easy to bake recipes, it's a must have in everyone's kitchen. Be warned—once you see the photographs you'll be eating Neenish Tarts and Chelsea Buns before you know it!
Kelly Ana Moray picks:
All Day At The Movies by Fiona Kidman (Vintage)
I haven’t read Kidman’s latest offering but this novel which has been on the bestseller list since it’s publication a few months ago is on top of my pile of reading. There’s a good reason that Kidman is a reader favourite: great storytelling, memorable characters and lovely clean writing that never indulges in linguistic acrobatics for the sake of it. She’s also one of those writers who walks both sides of the line by writing novels with commercial appeal that are also smart and beautifully realised.
The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (VUP)
To say that Chidgey's fourth novel is eagerly anticipated is something of an understatement in my house - I was a fan long before we met over a gluten-free vegetarian hippy pizza at a place that smelt of asafoetidaOf our peer group, which contains some pretty great New Zealand writers, she's the standout for me. Chidgey's writing has heart, humour, and effortless style by the truckload as every word, every idea and character is carefully honed to perfection. The Wish Child is the result of her enduring love affair with Germany, and Berlin especially, where she lived in 1986 and for three years in the mid-90s. I also like that I don't know anything about it as I wait for it to be released. Apart from moaning about how hard writing is, Chidgey and my written correspondence is most often less than edifying.
When in Rome by Nicky Pellegrino (Orion)
Pellegrino, who has a fiercely loyal and amusingly disparate international readership (huge in Turkey), writes sunny well-crafted novels about life, love and food in contemporary Italy. I keep suggesting she writes a romance set on a Horowhenua dairy farm in the 1970s, but she doesn't seem keen. Although she might not have taken my helpful suggestion wholly onboard, I could see my influence when she broke out of her winning formula a little with When in Rome by setting the novel in 1950s Italy. A time when Mario Lanza and glamour were king and Italy was the best-looking and sexiest place on earth. Music, history, food, love, Italy! Always read Pellegrino with either a vat of tiramisu or pasta or maybe even both, near to hand. Not recommended for dieters.
Hand-Coloured New Zealand: The Photographs of Whites Aviation, by Peter Alsop (Potton & Burton)
This is the third book Alsop has done with Potton & Burton and what fantastic books they all are. The latest looks at the heyday of colourised landscape photography by Whites Aviation. The layout and design being Potton & Burton are as spectacular as the images and Alsop is engaging, informative and entertaining on a subject he obviously loves and knows a lot about. The only problem with this book is you might find yourself spending hours online looking for the perfect original Whites Aviation photograph, because a print won't do because you're a serious collector. And that may cost you some serious money.