by Fleur Beale, Random House, $19.99
Review by: Penny Robinson
Kiwi boys are right into their cars. They talk endlessly of speed, noise, dirt and driving.
In this novel for young adults, award-winning New Zealand author Fleur Beale has captured the essence of that desire with a story of three boys who rescue an old car from a ditch. It's summer, so they have time.
The easy-to-read material is aimed at boys aged 11 to 15.
Beale writes convincingly about life's struggles, the reluctance and reticence of youth, the way some adults jump to conclusions, the generosity of others, and the delight of achieving one's aims.
The boys make the car work, have fun bashing it around the paddock, meet girls along the way, and learn how to make their relationships work.
by David Keefe, Exisle Publishing, $14.99
Review by: Anne-Marie Emerson
I thought this "young person's guide to a calmer life" would be great for the "young person" in our household.
Not so. She wasn't keen on this "crash course in getting cool 'n' calm no matter what is going on in your life".
She pooh-poohed the idea that relaxation and meditation techniques might help her find her "neutral feeling place". She let her study books fall on the floor when I suggested she practise the "art of relaxing" and "learn how to let go".
I still think the book is useful but perhaps for American-style young people who don't mind a touchy-feely approach. And it's given me some new techniques for approaching difficult situations, and reminded me of old ones.
How not to F*** them up
by Oliver James, Vermilion
Review by: Heidi Hendrikse
I have finally picked it up, but not because I wanted to. It just annoyed me whenever I saw it sitting there. This book is about child-rearing, and yes, if this book - with its screaming title cover - is acceptable for you to have lying around on your coffee table in full view of your children, then you definitely need help.
Why does anyone resort to titles such as this in an effort to attract parents to buy and read it in an attempt to raise the level of intelligence?
No thank you. If the author has the audacity to title his book in this way I don't want a bar of what's hidden inside the covers. I didn't read much of it - but at least now I won't have to look at it any more.
by Siew Siang Tay, Harper Collins, $29.99
Review by: Anne McPhail
A realistic exploration of a mail-order bride and culture shock are the main themes of Handpicked. Laila comes from a longhouse in a Malaysian village and Jim is an Australian fruit-picker living in Renmark, South Australia. They have corresponded for long enough to feel that they know each other. However, exaggerated letters have given a different impression to the real situation. When Laila goes to Australia, the couple discover the realities of life withdifferent expectations.
A well-told story of emotions, joys and sadness, truth and honesty and cultural values in the midst of human relationships.
Thirteen Years Later
by Jasper Kent, Random House, $39.99
Review by: Dianne Kerr
The year is 1825 and Russia has been at peace for a decade. With the French defeated, Colonel Aleksei Danilov is enjoying a calm life with his family and his mistress. His duty lies with his tsar, Aleksandr I, but instead of the monstrous creatures he once fought against, the threat now appears to be merely human.
A mysterious message from the past brings old fears to the fore. To protect his loved ones and the tsar, Aleksei must use all his skills as a soldier and spy.
Meanwhile, the tsar has a secret that threatens not only the stability of the country but damnation upon him and his family.
This book starts off like a historical novel, in the line of Tolstoy, but ends up as a tale of vampires and subterfuge.