Reviews

If you have read something you've really enjoyed, no doubt others will too. Please share your review with us - we'd love to pass it on as a recommendation.

Email us the book title, author, short story outline and what you loved about it.

All reviews will be read by the library, and edited if necessary, before being published.

The lost flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland The lost flowers of Alice Hart

After her family suffers a tragedy when she is nine years old, Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. But Alice also learns that there are secrets within secrets about her past. Under the watchful eye of June and The Flowers, women who run the farm, Alice grows up. But an unexpected betrayal sends her reeling, and she flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. Alice thinks she has found solace, until she falls in love with Dylan, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a rare beauty. It is one of those novels that quietly sneaks up on you and unleashes its power. It was written so well I could picture every character, every flower, every view... A must read!

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama Becoming

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Becoming by Michelle Obama is a captivating and compelling read, narrated by Michelle Obama herself makes this a moving, deeply personal and intimate story which is inspirational and insightful. Michelle Obama comes across as a very intelligent and grounded lady who knows what she wants from life and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. 

 

From the Ashes by Deborah Challinor From the Ashes

Auckland,1956. Allie Manaia works at Smith and Caughey's department store. It's been two years since the Dunbar and Jones fire, where some of her friends perished, but she still has nightmares. Allie and her husband, Sonny, are desperate for a baby, after losing a child, and Allie's distress at not conceiving again is compounded when those around her seem to have no trouble falling pregnant - even when they shouldn't. Allie's neighbours have recently moved to suburban Auckland. Ana, now a housewife, misses her work on the farm, but she has her hands full, looking after her increasingly forgetful father-in-law. Kathleen Lawson - rich, lonely and bored - is one of Allies' customers at the make-up counter. Kathleen takes a shine to Allie, but when she discovers Allie's husband is Maori, Kathleen's attitude changes. Is she trying to make friends or poison the relationship between Sonny and Allie? Sonny's beautiful younger sister, Polly, is living a vibrant but wayward life as a waitress-model-goodtime girl while leaving her young daughter to be raised by her mother. Then one day Polly disappears.

I am a big fan of Deborah's books and this did not disappoint. From the Ashes is the first in a moving new trilogy that follows the fortunes of the women of three families through the rapidly changing social and cultural landscape of the 1950s and 1960s. Can't wait for number two!

 

Mind that child by Dr Simon Rowley Mind that child Dr Simon Rowley3

Leading paediatrician Dr Simon Rowley has committed almost all of his working life to the care and wellbeing of children. In Mind That Child, Rowley provides a rare glimpse into what it means to be entrusted with the most precious of responsibilities – a young human life. Charting his decades of medical experience, Rowley touches on an array of issues, from the high-stakes management of tiny pre-term babies to the serious impacts of drugs, alcohol and technology on developing minds. Real-life cases and practical advice are interwoven throughout a candid, compassionate narrative. What’s revealed is a tender and profound portrait of a medical professional at the very centre of what matters – a doctor who always adopts a humane, holistic view and who writes openly about the personal impact of a career in medicine. 

A moving and unforgettable memoir that I just couldn't put down. It brought back a lot of memories from entrusting my daughters first few months of life in the hands of some amazing surgeons, doctors and nurses. A must read!

 

The rules of seeing by Jo Heap The rules of seeing

The Rules of Seeing follows the lives of two women whose paths cross at a time when they need each other most. Nova, an interpreter for the Metropolitan police, has been blind from birth. When she undergoes surgery to restore her sight her journey is just beginning – she now has to face a world in full colour for the first time. Kate, a successful architect and wife to Tony, is in hospital after a blow to the head. There, she meets Nova and what starts as a beautiful friendship soon turns into something more. 

Beautifully written story, I particularly enjoyed seeing through Nova's eyes. Her journey into seeing was described so cleverly. The relationship felt like a side story to the main event but still enjoyable.

 

The good mother by Sinead Moriarty   The good mother

Kate has been through the fire with her three children. Having been left devastated and homeless after her husband's affair and the break-up of their family, somehow she has pulled through. Though times are still tough, she's beginning to see the start of a new life. But when twelve-year-old Jesssica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate's resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an exhusband who won't face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave but is getting sicker by the day. Kate knows she must put to one side her own fear and heartbreak and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means doing the unthinkable?

An emotional story reminiscent of 'Me before you'. Being a parent, there is no worse fear than the thought of losing a child, and this well written novel really takes you into Kate's world as the family struggle to make Jessica their priority. Funny and heartbreaking - have the box of tissues ready!

Somebody I used to know by Wendy Mitchell  Somebody i used to know

When Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with dementia at the age of fifty-eight, she had to say goodbye to the woman she once was. Her career in the NHS, her ability to drive, cook and run - the various shades of her independence - were suddenly gone. Yet Wendy was determined not to give in. She was, and still is, propelled by a need to live in the moment, never knowing which version of herself might surface tomorrow. In this phenomenal memoir - the first of its kind - Wendy grapples with questions most of us have never had to consider. What do you value when loss of memory reframes what you have, how you have lived and what you stand to lose? What happens when you can no longer recognise your own daughters, or even, on the foggiest of days, yourself? Philosophical, intensely personal and ultimately hopeful, Somebody I Used to Know gets to the very heart of what it means to be human. It is both a heartrending tribute to the woman Wendy used to be, and a brave affirmation of the woman dementia has seen her become.

Wendy Mitchell is truly inspiring. I loved that she states she is 'living with dementia', not suffering from it. And live she does. She is a strong, courageous woman who shows us, honestly, what it is like to live out your life with dementia.

The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton   Seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed--again. She's been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden's only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle's murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend--but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

The plot for this book is really quite unique, in that the main character relives the same day eight times, but in a different body. However, it can get confusing at times so definitely needs to be read with attention.

She's not there by Tasmin Grey Shes not there

When Jonah and Raff wake up on Monday, their mother Lucy isn’t there. Although Jonah is only nine, he is the big brother, and knows enough about the world to keep her absence a secret. If anyone found out she’d left them alone, it could be disastrous for him and Raff; and she'll be back, he’s nearly sure. With growing unease, he puzzles over the clues she’s left behind. Who sent her the flowers? Why are all her shoes still in the house? Why is her phone buried in a plant pot? And who, in their diverse south London community, might know more about her than he does?

A heartwrenching story of two young brothers who wake up to find their mother is missing. The story is set over a week and tells of them trying to figure out where their mother has gone and their struggles to manage on their own rather than hand the problem over to adults, the social services, and granny. A fantastic debut novel.

Beauty in the Broken Places: A memoir of love, faith and resilience by Allison Pataki Beauty in the broken places

Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night. When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. 

A poignant story which quickly reminds you not to take life or your loved ones for granted.

Gore District Library 8 Norfolk Street, Gore, 9710 P: 03 203 9129 F: 03 203 9906 E: gorelibraries@goredc.govt.nz