August 4th, 2013
After visiting the west coast of the South Island of NZ, I wanted to learn more about life in the coal and gold mines. 
So, instead of delving into a dry and dense textbook on the subject, I decided to read ‘The Denninston Rose’ by Jenny Patrick. Set in the 1880’s, this piece of historic fiction, follows a young girl called Rose who travels with her mother to the vast, damp and dreary Denniston Plateau (near Westport) to find a new life.
However, more interesting for me was the account that Patrick gave of the first miners strike in NZ. This arose from poor working conditions, and the dangers of the job. Trained English miners scorned the ‘hacks’, claiming that these untrained men put all their lives at stake. Patrick certainly did a good job of describing a hard life up there.
All in all, it was interesting and fulfilled my need to learn more about the West Coast - however, as a story it jumped a bit from here to there and I didn’t really engage with it until the last quarter of the book.

After visiting the west coast of the South Island of NZ, I wanted to learn more about life in the coal and gold mines. 

So, instead of delving into a dry and dense textbook on the subject, I decided to read ‘The Denninston Rose’ by Jenny Patrick. Set in the 1880’s, this piece of historic fiction, follows a young girl called Rose who travels with her mother to the vast, damp and dreary Denniston Plateau (near Westport) to find a new life.

However, more interesting for me was the account that Patrick gave of the first miners strike in NZ. This arose from poor working conditions, and the dangers of the job. Trained English miners scorned the ‘hacks’, claiming that these untrained men put all their lives at stake. Patrick certainly did a good job of describing a hard life up there.

All in all, it was interesting and fulfilled my need to learn more about the West Coast - however, as a story it jumped a bit from here to there and I didn’t really engage with it until the last quarter of the book.

November 2nd, 2012
One day someone will read my blog and ask me to review books for their magazine or publication! That is the hope. To read all day and get paid (or even to be given books!!) would be amazing.
Anyway… I digress… todays book is by NZ author Laurence Fearnley again. Why is it that every novel by a kiwi (that has been published within the last ten years and that I have read) has this cool, dreary tone about it? A slow, pondorous, introspective tone. If you read any of the books by NZers that I have blogged about lately you will know what I mean.
This book was a sad love story between an older man and a young girl. They are brought together in unusual circumstances as Edwin searches to find his mother that he hasn’t seen since he was seven. This story is about an unravelling and a coming together and it is beautiful but it is also tragic. However, at the end, it was redeeming. A true love story for those who can’t stand vapid, sappy ones.

One day someone will read my blog and ask me to review books for their magazine or publication! That is the hope. To read all day and get paid (or even to be given books!!) would be amazing.

Anyway… I digress… todays book is by NZ author Laurence Fearnley again. Why is it that every novel by a kiwi (that has been published within the last ten years and that I have read) has this cool, dreary tone about it? A slow, pondorous, introspective tone. If you read any of the books by NZers that I have blogged about lately you will know what I mean.

This book was a sad love story between an older man and a young girl. They are brought together in unusual circumstances as Edwin searches to find his mother that he hasn’t seen since he was seven. This story is about an unravelling and a coming together and it is beautiful but it is also tragic. However, at the end, it was redeeming. A true love story for those who can’t stand vapid, sappy ones.

August 21st, 2012
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories by Kiwi writer: Sue Orr. In particular, ‘journeyman’ and ‘the eviction party’. Read them, find your own favorite.
What differentiates this collection, from other books of ‘shorties’ is the way that each story references a story in literatures past… stories by James Joyce, Guy De Maupassant and Katherine Mansfield are all referenced within Orr’s tales…
and of course, ‘The Overcoat’ by Nikolay Gogol, the story which sparked the collection and the title, is to be found at the end of the book.
This is a book which celebrates the suprises and magical moments within everyday life.
Here are some other collections of short stories which I rate:
'How we are Hungry' by Dave Eggers'Dark Roots' by Cate Kennedy'Nocturnes' by Kazuo Ishiguro'The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield'Also… as suggested by Orr, read her stories and then delve back into history by reading their forerunners. 

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories by Kiwi writer: Sue Orr. In particular, ‘journeyman’ and ‘the eviction party’. Read them, find your own favorite.

What differentiates this collection, from other books of ‘shorties’ is the way that each story references a story in literatures past… stories by James Joyce, Guy De Maupassant and Katherine Mansfield are all referenced within Orr’s tales…

and of course, ‘The Overcoat’ by Nikolay Gogol, the story which sparked the collection and the title, is to be found at the end of the book.

This is a book which celebrates the suprises and magical moments within everyday life.

Here are some other collections of short stories which I rate:

'How we are Hungry' by Dave Eggers
'Dark Roots' by Cate Kennedy
'Nocturnes' by Kazuo Ishiguro
'The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield'
Also… as suggested by Orr, read her stories and then delve back into history by reading their forerunners. 

August 11th, 2012
If you feel like a slow, ponderous read, then this is for you. 
I can imagine Emily Perkins writing each chapter of this book as a short story, it is true that she has published a few of the chapters in journals and on the radio. Each chapter stands by itself as a moment in time, in the lives of various members of the Forrest family. Together they combine to provide a rich, deep portrait of the complexity of relationships; particularly with those who are closest to you.
One thing which I really appreciate about Perkins writing is that she can clearly evoke a scene and an atmosphere with few words. Particularly in chapters ‘Yeah, Everything’ and ‘Loose’ I felt a really sense of place, as though I had been there in the story myself at some point in my life.
If you like this try these, slow, pondorous NZ reads:anything by Linda Olssen (the gentleness of your nature)Laurence Fernley (the hut builder, edwin and matilda) 

If you feel like a slow, ponderous read, then this is for you. 

I can imagine Emily Perkins writing each chapter of this book as a short story, it is true that she has published a few of the chapters in journals and on the radio. Each chapter stands by itself as a moment in time, in the lives of various members of the Forrest family. Together they combine to provide a rich, deep portrait of the complexity of relationships; particularly with those who are closest to you.

One thing which I really appreciate about Perkins writing is that she can clearly evoke a scene and an atmosphere with few words. Particularly in chapters ‘Yeah, Everything’ and ‘Loose’ I felt a really sense of place, as though I had been there in the story myself at some point in my life.

If you like this try these, slow, pondorous NZ reads:
anything by Linda Olssen (the gentleness of your nature)
Laurence Fernley (the hut builder, edwin and matilda)
 

May 4th, 2012
Jenny Bornholdt ‘THE ROCKY SHORE’ the most enjoyable book of poetry I have ever read.
Thank you God for writers like Jenny Bournholdt.Writers who tell the truth yet manage to remain hopefullnot cynical.Writers who tell stories and write poetrythat you cannot stop readingyet want to savor for a long time. 
There is nothing quite like reading beautifully considered prose/poetry for the first timeand being enlightened andenriched.The second reading is good, enjoyable but the first read is when you heart is opento the possibilityof learning somethingand yet not prepared for anything in particular.And wham!It hits you.Change, that is.This is the power of words.Of lifeof death.
We are most successful when we do what we truly lovenot what we think others will love more. Jenny’s natural fit is longer poems.She tries to challenge herself by writing shortieswhich I LOVEbut the longer poems are better.When you are reading them,you just know that she is exactly where she is meant to beand that she loves it. 

Jenny Bornholdt ‘THE ROCKY SHORE’ the most enjoyable book of poetry I have ever read.

Thank you God for writers like Jenny Bournholdt.
Writers who tell the truth yet manage to remain hopefull
not cynical.
Writers who tell stories and write poetry
that you cannot stop reading
yet want to savor for a long time. 

There is nothing quite like
reading beautifully considered prose/poetry
for the first time
and being enlightened and
enriched.
The second reading is good,
enjoyable 
but the first read is when you heart is open
to the possibility
of learning something
and yet not prepared for anything in particular.
And wham!
It hits you.
Change, that is.

This is the power of words.
Of life
of death.

We are most successful when we do what we truly love
not what we think others will love more. 
Jenny’s natural fit is longer poems.
She tries to challenge herself by writing shorties
which I LOVE
but the longer poems are better.
When you are reading them,
you just know
that she is exactly where she is meant to be
and that she loves it. 

April 27th, 2012
Ronald Hugh Morrieson was New Zealand’s version of a gothic/thriller/mystery/horror writer. He lived and wrote in Hawera his whole life. It has been said that if you go to Hawera the residents seem to be characters right out of Morrieson’s novels.To start with, I found this book hard to get into because I didn’t feel sympathetic  with any of the characters (they all seemed to be loosers or ego maniacs). What also put me off was the look of the actors who played the three main characters (Cedric, Melvyn and Spook) in the recent film. I particularly can’t stand Heath Franklin as Mervyn.However the plot was soon taking twists and turns which kept me turning the page and in the end, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read. 'Predicament' follows a few weeks in the life of a geeky loner, Cedric. When, by chance, he meets Mervyn his safe, quiet life is distroyed. Cedric plays a part in and witnesses all the intrigues of a true mystery: bootlegging, blackmail, mysterious money, mysterious watchers and murder! 
If you liked this book, I could also recommend reading:'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' by Arthur Conan Doyle'Dracula' by Bram Stoker 'The Scarecrow' by Ronald Hugh Morrieson'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Walters 

Ronald Hugh Morrieson was New Zealand’s version of a gothic/thriller/mystery/horror writer. He lived and wrote in Hawera his whole life. It has been said that if you go to Hawera the residents seem to be characters right out of Morrieson’s novels.

To start with, I found this book hard to get into because I didn’t feel sympathetic  with any of the characters (they all seemed to be loosers or ego maniacs). What also put me off was the look of the actors who played the three main characters (Cedric, Melvyn and Spook) in the recent film. I particularly can’t stand Heath Franklin as Mervyn.
However the plot was soon taking twists and turns which kept me turning the page and in the end, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read. 
'Predicament' follows a few weeks in the life of a geeky loner, Cedric. When, by chance, he meets Mervyn his safe, quiet life is distroyed. Cedric plays a part in and witnesses all the intrigues of a true mystery: bootlegging, blackmail, mysterious money, mysterious watchers and murder! 

If you liked this book, I could also recommend reading:
'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' by Arthur Conan Doyle
'Dracula' by Bram Stoker 
'The Scarecrow' by Ronald Hugh Morrieson
'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Walters 

April 3rd, 2012
LOVE, LOVE LOVED THIS BOOK!
I have read another book by Linda Olsson called ‘Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs’. It has the same slow, intropective, gentle tone to it but this novel ‘The Kindness of Your Nature’ was more raw and real to me than ‘Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs’.
The plot follows a retired doctor in her fifties who lives a solitary life on the west coast (Marianne) and a young, vulnerable boy with webbed hands and mild autism (Ika). As Marianne grows to love the and boy works with CYFs  to rescue him from his abusive home, she reflects on the dark places in her own past. The story alternates between the present day, and Marianne’s memories. Both parts are incredibly rich and emotionally gripping and add together to make a story that is healing and restorative.
Although it is a slow read, I found that I couldn’t stop turning pages and have devoured this book in just three days. It is my favorite book of the year, so far.
Linda Olsson, was born Sweden and she brings a european sensibility to New Zealand literature which is fresh and new. I thoroughly enjoy her perspective and can’t wait to see what she will write next.
If you liked this book, you might also like:'Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs' by Linda Olsson'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy'The Remains of the Day' by Kazuo Ishiguro 

LOVE, LOVE LOVED THIS BOOK!

I have read another book by Linda Olsson called ‘Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs’. It has the same slow, intropective, gentle tone to it but this novel ‘The Kindness of Your Nature’ was more raw and real to me than ‘Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs’.

The plot follows a retired doctor in her fifties who lives a solitary life on the west coast (Marianne) and a young, vulnerable boy with webbed hands and mild autism (Ika). As Marianne grows to love the and boy works with CYFs  to rescue him from his abusive home, she reflects on the dark places in her own past. The story alternates between the present day, and Marianne’s memories. Both parts are incredibly rich and emotionally gripping and add together to make a story that is healing and restorative.

Although it is a slow read, I found that I couldn’t stop turning pages and have devoured this book in just three days. It is my favorite book of the year, so far.

Linda Olsson, was born Sweden and she brings a european sensibility to New Zealand literature which is fresh and new. I thoroughly enjoy her perspective and can’t wait to see what she will write next.

If you liked this book, you might also like:
'Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs' by Linda Olsson
'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy
'The Remains of the Day' by Kazuo Ishiguro 

November 15th, 2011
I went to the Waiheke Book Festival ‘Words on a Small Island’ a few weeks ago and saw an interview one of my favorite poets EVER, Jenny Bourholdt. She read some of her most recent work. The two books of poetry discussed were ‘The Rocky Shore’ and ‘The Hill of Wool’ which was written during her year as writer in residence at Victoria University.
Jenny Bornholdt is a wonderful person. She is funny, and straightforward and unpretentious (although she could have a good right to be). She values the ‘small things’ of every day life, just as much as the ‘big things’ like war and death. Her book, ‘The Rocky Shore’ was written after being ill and the death of her father. This is a book of six loooooong poems (with delectable titles such as : Big Minty Nose). Within the pages, the big issues of illness and death, are inseperably intertwined with the small things of everyday life…. doing the washing, digging in the garden. And always, throughout the pages is subtle humor.
Jenny said that it is her natural style to write these long poems and she had to try really hard to pull back and write the more concise poems in ‘The Hill of Wool’. I like these poems. They are like pearls. Little bits of insight and wisdom.
Here is an excerpt from one of the poems read by Jenny… I cannot forget these lines.
Excerpt from ‘May’
One tree broadcasts redamong its neighbours -not lovely, exactly, justnot green. A geckoin the washing, crumpledlike a glimpse of slate skythrough a cloudof sheets - perfectpiece of winter.Despite all nightin the machine, not deadjust shocked and clean.Jenny Bournholdt has also written more books of poetry and edited anthologies:SummerMy Heart Goes Swimming (an anthology of NZ love poetry)These DaysAn Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in EnglighHow We MetMiss New Zealand: Selected Poems

I went to the Waiheke Book Festival ‘Words on a Small Island’ a few weeks ago and saw an interview one of my favorite poets EVER, Jenny Bourholdt. She read some of her most recent work. The two books of poetry discussed were ‘The Rocky Shore’ and ‘The Hill of Wool’ which was written during her year as writer in residence at Victoria University.

Jenny Bornholdt is a wonderful person. She is funny, and straightforward and unpretentious (although she could have a good right to be). She values the ‘small things’ of every day life, just as much as the ‘big things’ like war and death. Her book, ‘The Rocky Shore’ was written after being ill and the death of her father. This is a book of six loooooong poems (with delectable titles such as : Big Minty Nose). Within the pages, the big issues of illness and death, are inseperably intertwined with the small things of everyday life…. doing the washing, digging in the garden. And always, throughout the pages is subtle humor.

Jenny said that it is her natural style to write these long poems and she had to try really hard to pull back and write the more concise poems in ‘The Hill of Wool’. I like these poems. They are like pearls. Little bits of insight and wisdom.

Here is an excerpt from one of the poems read by Jenny… I cannot forget these lines.

Excerpt from ‘May’

One tree broadcasts red
among its neighbours -
not lovely, exactly, just
not green. A gecko
in the washing, crumpled
like a glimpse of slate sky
through a cloud
of sheets - perfect
piece of winter.
Despite all night
in the machine, not dead
just shocked and clean.

Jenny Bournholdt has also written more books of poetry and edited anthologies:
Summer
My Heart Goes Swimming (an anthology of NZ love poetry)
These Days
An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in Engligh
How We Met
Miss New Zealand: Selected Poems

February 23rd, 2011
This is an anthology of New Zealand poetry and prose centered around the theme of ‘LOVE’. It is ordered chronologically, by the ages of the poets when the poems were written. 
The book starts with ‘WHEN SHE SPEAKS’ by A. R. D. Fairburn and ends with ‘HE WAIATA MO TE KARE’ by James K. Baxter. 
If you have not read this poem yet…I urge you, rush to your nearest library and find it! You can get either this book or another James K. Baxter anthology (e.g James K. Baxter poems, selected by Sam Hunt). It is the most evocative and honest love poem I have ever come across. A ballad of ten irregular stanzas, it lays bare Baxter’s love for his wife after her death and ends with these words:
"Earlier today I cut thistles Under the trees in the graveyard,And washed my hands afterwards,Sprinkling the sickle with water.
That’s the life I lead,Simple as a stone,And all that makes it less than good, Te Kare,is that you are not beside me.” 
Other poets and authors featured in this anthology include: Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Elizabeth Nannestad, C.K Stead and Lauris Edmond. 

This is an anthology of New Zealand poetry and prose centered around the theme of ‘LOVE’. It is ordered chronologically, by the ages of the poets when the poems were written. 

The book starts with ‘WHEN SHE SPEAKS’ by A. R. D. Fairburn and ends with ‘HE WAIATA MO TE KARE’ by James K. Baxter. 

If you have not read this poem yet…I urge you, rush to your nearest library and find it! You can get either this book or another James K. Baxter anthology (e.g James K. Baxter poems, selected by Sam Hunt). It is the most evocative and honest love poem I have ever come across. A ballad of ten irregular stanzas, it lays bare Baxter’s love for his wife after her death and ends with these words:

"Earlier today I cut thistles 
Under the trees in the graveyard,
And washed my hands afterwards,
Sprinkling the sickle with water.

That’s the life I lead,
Simple as a stone,
And all that makes it less than good, Te Kare,
is that you are not beside me.” 

Other poets and authors featured in this anthology include: Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Elizabeth Nannestad, C.K Stead and Lauris Edmond. 

February 9th, 2011
If you need to pray and are lost for words, take out this little anthology and riffle through.
From feeling lost or afraid, to joyfull, to pain, to love… Cowley’s words strike a genuine cord with me. They were like medicine yesterday when I was feeling low and helped me get my perspective back on track.
Warning: ignore the cheesy 80’s photography!! and the lurid yellow cover. The words are QUALITY and particularly Kiwi.
Particular favorites: The Harvest, A Friend in Need

If you like this you will like the poetry of any New Zealand writer: my personal favorites are Jenny Bournholdt and James K Baxter

If you need to pray and are lost for words, take out this little anthology and riffle through.

From feeling lost or afraid, to joyfull, to pain, to love… Cowley’s words strike a genuine cord with me. They were like medicine yesterday when I was feeling low and helped me get my perspective back on track.

Warning: ignore the cheesy 80’s photography!! and the lurid yellow cover. The words are QUALITY and particularly Kiwi.

Particular favorites: The Harvest, A Friend in Need

If you like this you will like the poetry of any New Zealand writer: my personal favorites are Jenny Bournholdt and James K Baxter