Book reviews

Here are some titles read recently by Hamilton City Libraries' staff.

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Future Flash

by Kita Helmetag Murdock

Walt has no idea, that I can remember the night he found me, stuck in that car seat at only a year old in the freezing cold with a yellow envelope tucked in with me. All Walt had to do was touch me and I would have my first future flash. Laney would become my name from that night on once Walt got me home to his warm house in Thornville.
Thornville K-12 would become my school and Thornville where just over a thousand people lived and worked is my home town.  Thornville is a home town where the only jobs are in the Chicken Factory.
Laney would get to school and the bell rings and everyone rushes to class, and only one seat remains empty. “Where’s the new kid” Axel would shout, this is one kid you wouldn’t want to encounter.   Once the new kid, Lyle, arrives, Laney knew she couldn’t get to know him or Laney would become target of the bully as well.  Worse still when Laney touched him she had a future flash of him engulfed in flames.  Laney has to work out how to stop what’s about to happen or not.  Laney has a future that lies in her hands and only she knows what the future holds for the new kid.
Future flash is a is thrilling and imaginative middle grade science-fiction novel from author Kita Helmetag Murdock, follow Laney as she works against the clock to understand her past and prevent the disaster looming in the future.

  • Reviewed by Jess, Dinsdale Library


Get Happy

by Mary Amato

Get Happy is a contemporary YA novel follows a young girl named Minerva with a passion for writing music. On her sixteenth birthday, rather than receiving the ukulele she has been hinting at she receives an ugly sweater and a parcel from her father. Inside this parcel there are two letters; both of which change the course of her life and alter everything she thought she knew about her father. Determined to discover the truth, Minerva delves deeper, dragging her two sidekicks - quirky Fin and unapologetic Hayes - along for the ride.

This story is a heart-warming coming of age tale about broken families and the friendships built that mean more than biological ties. It is emotional, yet not too heavy.  Minerva is a flawed yet extremely relatable main character and her friendships with Fin and Hayes, as well as her emotional conflict with her parents are refreshingly realistic. If you enjoy novels by authors such as Sarah Dessen or Gayle Forman, Get Happy is definitely worth a read.

  • Reviewed by Baillee, Glenview Library


Ask the dark

by Henry Turner

“I ain’t no hero, and I aim to prove it,” he declares in his haunting, first-person dialect. 14 year old Billy Zeets is a product of circumstance. A petty thief and vandal, he makes a promise to clean up his act to his dying mother, he is now left with a widowed, unwell, out of work father and a pregnant 16 year old sister who asks him to break his vow in an attempt to save their house from the bank.

Whilst trying to raise the money needed, Billy stumbles across clues to the disappearance and murder of young boys in his town. With more evidence mounting and a strong distrust of the law, Ask the Dark is Billy Zeets recount of what happened in his town during that summer and the role he had to play in it all. I found myself drawn into the story, needing to finish as quickly as possible, not to see the outcome of the murder mystery but to see how Billy fared during it.

  • Reviewed by Sally, Pop Central Library


Creeper Files – The Root of all Evil

by Hacker Murphy

A new junior fiction book published in 2017 with other titles to follow in the series. This is a mystery/thriller about Jake and his two friends, brother and sister twins Liam and Sarah, who experience some very strange and evil goings-on in their neighbourhood and school. The title gives an idea of the direction of the story and is a play on words. 

Jake experiences some scary moments with what appears to be a plant eating creature that starts roaming the neighbourhood devouring plants from gardens. Their school suddenly acquires a new Head Teacher who is obsessive about exercise and healthy eating and has the school’s football field ploughed so it can be planted with potatoes. Then there are the Potato Men who are genetically engineered killing machines invented by the children’s science teacher Professor Bloom who has a plan to be the first true human-plant hybrid.

A fast paced story which at times is humorous, with evil intrigue and relatable characters, this makes for a good read for 8-10 years olds.

  • Reviewed by Kathy, St Andrews Library


The Slow Waltz of Turtles

by Katherine Pancol

This is the follow- up to the Yellow Eyes of Crocodile of Josephine Novels which has been translated from French.

Forty-something mother of two Josephine Cortes is at a crossroads. She has just moved to a posh new apartment in Paris after the success of the historical novel she ghost-wrote for her sister, Iris. Still struggling with her divorce, she is now entangled too in a messy lie orchestrated by her sister. And just when things seem they can't get any more complicated, people start turning up dead in her neighbourhood...

As Josephine struggles to find her voice and her confidence amidst a messy web of relationships and a string of murders, she and those around her must learn to push on with determination, like headstrong little turtles learning to dance slowly in a world that's too violent and moving too fast.

This is a fun read which mixes a family relationship with romance, murder and self- discovering. At the beginning maybe a little bit hard to get into but sticking with it you will find it interesting and hard to put down.  The book is well written and gripping with dialogues and self-talking.  Pancol’s sensational novel will please the fans of family dramas.

  • Reviewed by Lucy, Hillcrest Library


Where the Rekohu Bone Sings

by Tina Makereti

Beginning in 1880’s NZ this is the fictional story of two friends Mere and Iraia who yearn for their independence and freedom away from their home in the Queen Charlotte Sounds. Forward a hundred years and twins Lula and Bigs are born. When their mother, Tui, dies they learn there is much she kept secret and they, too, will need to travel beyond their world to an island they barely knew existed. Neither Mere & Iraia or Lula & Bigs are aware that someone else is part of their journeys.

A very interesting story with historical facts on the Moriori living on the Chatham Islands interwoven. The author tells the story through a spirit that has passed away sometime before as they follow their ancestors through time.  This is a sad story of history, discovery and family ties and how sometimes the generations miss out on being told about their family and where they come from.

This really engaging NZ author highlights the fact that it is difficult to go forward unless you know where you come from.

  • Reviewed by Therese, Hillcrest Library


My Zero-waste Kitchen

by Kate Turner

This is a creative, fun and informative zero waste self-help book. Become your own “zero waste hero” as you read about smart and simple ideas to reach a more sustainable life. This is a perfect book to just pick up, read and discover a few simple tips that can make a huge impact on your daily reduce, reuse and recycle mentality. This book has changed my perspective on how a few simple changes can save you money and help save your environment!

This book features bright and colourful info-graphics for quick reading, fun facts and easy source material. Including quick and enjoyable daily recipes, that will inspire you to take your own zero-waste journey. I think naturally it feels wrong to discard so much of our still edible or re-useable foods. Or at times I do think to myself “what a waste!” when chucking out old stale food.   This book has really helped me take more zero-waste action, in my own kitchen. It gives you the practical tools and the means in daily food shopping, planning and preparing.

A refreshing book I would recommend even to a younger audience in your household. An encouraging read for anyone interested in a zero-waste life.

  • Reviewed by Laura, Chartwell Library
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