Our Haunting Selection of Halloween Reads

Here then at long last is my darkness. No cry of light, no glimmer, not even the faintest shard of hope to break free across the hold — Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Many of the core elements of Halloween are thought to have originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. On All Hallows’ Eve the boundary between the physical and spiritual world was thought to be at it’s thinnest.

The festival has also long been associated with the consumption of food, a few examples being potato pancakes, apples and soul cakes. It was traditional to abstain from eating meat, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods to this day.  It was in America in the 20th century that it was turned into the candy-coloured, sugar rush holiday that it is today. Indeed Halloween is now one of the major North American holidays.

Much of the modern imagery for Halloween has its roots in fiction, especially Gothic and horror fiction, with iconic characters such as Frankenstein, the Mummy and Dracula. So to put you in a Halloween mood we have selected some strange and macabre tales to shiver the spine and chill the soul for Halloween. And a few have a distinctly Kiwi twist on the supernatural world–enjoy!


Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
“No-one in the grip of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with its mythic-minded hero and its highly sympathetic monster who reads Goethe and longs to be at peace with himself, can fail to notice how much more excellent the original is than all the adaptations and imitations which have followed. In her first novel, Mary Shelley produced English Romanticism’s finest prose fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue). For availability of the 1931 classic film, click here.

Dracula / Stoker, Bram
“When newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help a new client purchase a residence in London, he is unaware that he will be lucky to escape with his life. Harker’s fateful visit to Count Dracula’s castle begins a series of disturbing events, as the malevolence he discovers there reaches across continents and oceans to twist and abuse his loved ones at home in England.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of Christopher Lee’s first Dracula Film click here.

The scarecrow / Morrieson, Ronald Hugh
“Ronald Hugh Morrieson combines Boys’ Own adventure, psychological thriller, small-town saga and family farce to produce a unique masterpiece. 14-year-old Neddy Poindexter and his mate Les proceed to take swift revenge on the chook-rustling Lynch Gang, but things turn sinister when the vulture-like Hubert Salter stalks into the small community of Klynham. There is a  killer on the loose – and Neddy is in terrible fear for the safety of his sister.” (Catalogue) For availability of the 1981 film click here.

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tahoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them.  Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wake / Knox, Elizabeth
“One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened. And, it seems, they are trapped with something. Something unseen is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart. Focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shining / King, Stephen
“Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of the legendary Stanley Kubrick film click here.

Teatro grottesco / Ligotti, Thomas
“This collection features tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns, as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics. The cycle of narratives that includes the title work of this collection, for instance, introduces readers to a freakish community of artists who encounter demonic perils that ultimately engulf their lives. These are selected examples of the forbidding array of persons and places that compose the mesmerizing fiction of Thomas Ligotti.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The Wild Card: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Renée

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

Amongst the shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards is New Zealand writing icon and legend Renée. Born in 1929 in Napier. After she left school age 12 Renée went on to work in a wide variety of jobs including in a dairy, as a cleaner in an Auckland’s Theatre and as a feature writer and reviewer. After completing a BA in 1979 Renée became more closely involved in community theatre and started writing for the stage. Having written so far over twenty  plays many of them featuring women in leading roles and works that often humanise working-class people.

Renée describes herself as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and nearly all of her written works expound these beliefs.

As well as numerous plays Renée has published nine fiction works and in 2018 was awarded the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. And her fascinating, funny and insightful memoir These Two Hands, initially published in 2017 is due to be reissued with further chapters added in the very near future.

Renée has also tutored creative writing classes and also presents an annual writing guide for those who have or have had cancer and want to write about that experience.

Astonishingly The Wild Card is her first crime novel. Ruby the female lead in The Wild Card is a strong rounded character and the plot revolves round a crime against a Māori state ward. Described by reviewers as “Superb… a gripping read that covers some brutal topics”.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you to Renée for her time and such a great interview. And we wish her and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered ¿ her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death, she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Rose Anthony’s life has just become more complicated. There’s a baby abandoned on her doorstep, and long-kept secrets are about to fly into the open…A tightly plotted literary lesbian romance, delightfully told by New Zealand writer Renee.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kissing shadows / Renée
“When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. This fast-paced, page-turning novel takes the reader into an absorbing and moving world of shadowy relationships and intrigue.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
” In Wednesday To Come Renee takes four women of four generations in a single family and looks at how they cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Pass It On, Jeannie and Cliff, the two adolescents joined the hunger march in Wednesday to Come, have each grown up and married. Pass It On explores the very different experiences of Jeannie, the political activist, and Cliff’s wife Nell, and traces their relationship from initial distrust to a firm allegiance against the political and economic forces which threaten their families. Jeannie Once, tells the story of Jeannie’s great grandmother living in Victorian era Dunedin.” (Catalogue)

These two hands : a memoir / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below some of the books Renée mentions in her interview.

Gaudy Night : A Lord Peter Wimsey mystery with Harriet Vane / Sayers, Dorothy L.
” The third Dorothy L. Sayers classic to feature mystery writer Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night features an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Chicago Tribune ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
“Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Artists in crime / Marsh, Ngaio
“In the movies, it’s known as a “meet cute.” But for Inspector Alleyn and Miss Agatha Troy, it’s more like irritation: On the ship back to England, she finds him tedious and dull; he thinks she’s a bohemian cliché. They may be destined for romance, but there’s a murder in the way: No sooner has Alleyn settled in to his mother’s house, eager for a relaxing end to his vacation, then he gets a call that a model has been stabbed at the artists’ community down the road. And the artistic Miss Troy is one of the community’s most prominent and outspoken members. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mind readers / Allingham, Margery
“Sam Ferris is an ordinary English schoolboy. Well, except for a few things. One: His father is an eminent scientist, based on a military research island off the English coast. Two: Sam is about to be interviewed by a solicitor, giving evidence, in a serious legal matter, against one of his favorite teachers. And three: Sam can read minds. But there’s a four: Sam’s uncle is Albert Campion. And Sam’s story, in all its seemingly unrelated elements, gives his Uncle Albert quite a lot to be curious about. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken shore / Temple, Peter
” Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a quiet town on the South Australian coast. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, whom everyone wants to blame. Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Comics in Conversation with Comics: Dial H for Hero Volume One

This is Comics in Conversation with Comics, a blog about comics and graphic novels that highlight, challenge, and celebrate the works that came before them, or say something about comics as an art form overall. This first post looks at the recent DC Comics series Dial H for Hero, by writer Sam Humphries and artist Joe Quinones.

Dial H for Hero is one of DC Comics’ more obscure series, but it’s a title that has a strong following among comic writers for its seemingly infinite potential. First appearing in House of Mystery #156 in January 1966, the premise centers around the H-Dial, a mysterious rotary phone (ask your parents) that, when H-E-R-O is dialed on it, can transform the caller into a random superhero. The 2019 Dial H for Hero series finds the Dial in the hands of two teen runaways, Miguel Montez and Summer Pickens, and this time the dial not only changes them into different comic heroes, but different art styles. These moments are the main draw of the series, referencing famous comics outside of the DC universe such as Dragon Ball, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Tank Girl, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and paying homage to such celebrated artists like Dan Clowes, Mike Allred, Alex Toth, Rob Liefeld, Moebius and more over the course of the series’ twelve issues.

We’ve listed some of the best comic homages from the first volume, with links to the relevant comics that inspired them if you want to check them out from our collection. You can also reserve volumes one and two of Dial H for Hero here and here if you don’t want to be spoiled on the story.

Manga on Manga

In issue 2 of Dial H for Hero, Miguel and an rival fight for the dial in the forms of Jobu, the Zonkey King and Iron Deadhead. These two heroes are references to two mangas, Akira Toriyama’s Goku from Dragon Ball and the cyborg protagonists of Masamune Shirow’s mangas like Ghost in the Shell, respectively. As the two heroes clash, so do the art styles, with Jobu’s simple colours and comedic tone contrasting with Iron Deadhead’s more serious, cyberpunk look drawn in black and white.

Dragonball. 3-in-1 edition. 1 / Toriyama, Akira

Ghost in the shell / Shirow, Masamune

 

 

 

Getting Vertigo

Vertigo (and its 2010s successor, Young Animal) was DC Comic’s imprint (a minor publishing line) for mature comics that gave their writers more creative freedom to reinterpret classic characters, including The Sandman, Doom Patrol, and Shade the Changing Man. While Vertigo is acclaimed for elevating comics into the realm of serious literature, these titles are also known to dip into ‘purple prose’ and extremely post-modern styles of narrative, which could alienate a more casual reader. This aspect gets a send-up in chapter 3 of Dial H for Hero in the form of the Bluebird of Happiness, a manic-pixie psychedelic superwoman resembling The Sandman‘s Delirium who warps the comic’s page structure around her.

The Sandman : endless nights / Gaiman, Neil

Shade, the changing girl. Vol. 1, Earth girl made easy / Castellucci, Cecil

 

 

Moebius Strip

To fight a bunch of out-of-control Justice League robots in issue 4, museum curator Snapper Carr transforms into Alien Ice Cream Man, a costumed space adventurer poking fun at the way French comic artist Moebius would draw his space-travelling characters with big pointy hats. Miguel, meanwhile, becomes Lil’ Miguelito, a fusion of various newspaper comic strip characters including Charlie Brown, Hagar the Horrible, and Nancy.

Inside Moebius. Part 1 / Moebius

Nancy likes Christmas / Bushmiller, Ernie

 

 

 

Fight like a (Tank) Girl

Main character Summer Picken’s go-to hero transformation is Lo-Lo Kick You, a live-wire ‘riot grrrl’ hero inspired by the art of Tank Girl creator (and Gorillaz artist) Jamie Hewlett and the pop art style of Mike Allred’s Madman. Summer’s adherence to only turning into one character throughout the series (whereas the dial normally changes you in random heroes) indicates her strong sense of self-identity. It’s befitting, then, that her transformation pays homage to two of the most visually distinct and idiosyncratic artists of the 1990s.

Tank Girl : the odyssey / Milligan, Peter

Madman. Volume 1 / Allred, Mike

 

 

 

Comic-ception

Issue 6 has a double-page spread that looks like a comic overlayed on top of another comic, allowing two narratives to play out simultaneously across the same page space. The ‘outer’ comic is a shot-for-shot remake of the storyboards for the Batman: The Animated Series opening by Bruce Timm, while the overlayed ‘inner’ comic detailing Miguel’s crisis is done in the style of black-and-white indie comics like Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers.

Heartbreak soup : a Love and rockets book / Hernandez, Gilbert

The Batman adventures : mad love / Dini, Paul

 

 

Hero Complex

In issue 6, the villain Mr. Thunderbolt gives everyone in the city of Metropolis a superhero identity and powers, with every individual character having their own art style riffing on another comic artist. Some of the allusions I was able to spot were: a character based on artist Frank Quitely’s ‘hyper-real’ art style, a few referencing early 60s Marvel comics by artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and characters based on the recent designs of Squirrel Girl by Erica Henderson and Silk by Stacey Lee.

L to R: All-Star Superman   Spider-Man meets the Marvel universe  The unbeatable Squirrel Girl  Silk

 

 

 

 

 

And that covers volume one! Stay tuned for Part Two, where we cover the homages in Dial H for Hero Volume Two.

Into the Void: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Christina O’Reilly

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to present a video piece from Christina O’Reilly author of Into the Void.

As her accent still shows Christina grew up in England and emigrated to NZ at the age of twelve.  As well as a writer, Christina is a freelance copy editor and proof reader and has had her short stories published in several anthologies.

Christina had written several previous novels   before being longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins memorial prize which gave her the confidence to publish this novel.

Into the void introduces us to DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers. The plot revolves round the disappearance of rural banker Richard Harper his disappearance possess many questions is he really dead? or has he been abducted and tortured?   Eventually it all becomes a race against time as the case descends into a mire of murder, violence and obsession.

One review described the book in the following way    “O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Christina for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Christina and were mentioned in her interview.


The babes in the wood : a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery / Rendell, Ruth
“With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry-occupied by a battered corpse-the investigation takes on a very different hue. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover End in Tears, Ruth Rendell (Audiobook)
“A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while… It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again.  The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora.  (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The secret garden / Burnett, Frances Hodgson
“Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Into the void / O’Reilly, Christina
“How easy is it for a man to simply disappear? When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis? Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened? Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here.

Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – Tuesday 20 Oct 2020


We are very excited to announce our first ever author event at our fabulous new Te Awe library.

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20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
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And what a fitting event it is to inaugurate the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.



Kay McKenzie Cooke, her first poetry book, Feeding the Dogs received the Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Kay is visiting Wellington and will be reading from her new collection Upturned / Cooke, Kay McKenzie

Richard Langston, poet and Country Calendar director, will be reading from his latest collection Five O’Clock Shadows / Langston, Richard


New Sea Land / Jones, Tim
Tim Jones is the winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. He will read from his poetry collection New Sea Land and his novella Where We Land.


Moral sloth / Ascroft, Nick
Nick Ascroft.  Born in Oamaru and awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 2003, Nick describes himself as an editor by trade, a linguist by training and a competitive Scrabble player by choice. He will be reading from Moral Sloth.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
Debut author Madison Hamill’s writing has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, The Pantograph Punch, and Turbine Kapohau.  She will be reading from her essay collection, Specimen.


South d poet lorikeet / Powell, Jenny
Jenny Powell is the current RAK Mason Fellow in the Wairarapa and has been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes including the Janet Frame Memorial Award. She will be  reading from her collection South D Poet Lorikeet.


Jenny Powell and Mary McCallum will read poems by the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr‘s collection Wanting to tell you everything. An award-winning Dunedin poet, Elizabeth died last year and her writing group (that included Jenny Powell and Mary as a consultant) got together to edit her first collection of poems.

This event has been organised by The Cuba Press, Wellington.

The Four-Colour Final Frontier: Comics for World Space Week

Ever since 1929, when Buck Rogers left the written pulp magazines for the four-colour newspaper comic strip, comics have provided the perfect canvas for stories about space travel and other planets.

While the terror of little green men and mysterious alien jungles of the 50s and 60s eventually fell away due to Sputnik, Voyager, and the Mars rovers, writers and artists found new storytelling opportunities in the vastness of space in the modern day, whether they be conscious genre throwbacks like Mark Millar and Goran Parlov’s Flash Gordon pastiche Starlight, first contact political thrillers like Letter 44, or melancholic examinations of living on other worlds like Tom Gauld’s Mooncop.

And while Space Week may only last seven days, it’s always a good time to revisit the classic Tintin duology, Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon as well!


Destination moon / Hergé
“Destination Moon (1953) gives a detailed account on the preparation and the launching of the expedition to the Moon for which Professor Calculus has chosen Syladavian soil. Tintin and Captain Haddock are amazed to find that Professor Calculus is planning a top-secret project from the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre in Syldavia. And before our intrepid hero knows it, the next stop on this adventure is …Space.” (Catalogue)

Saga. Compendium one / Vaughan, Brian K
“Containing the first nine volumes of the acclaimed, New York Times-bestselling series, this compendium tells the entire story of a girl named Hazel and her star-crossed parents. Features gorgeous full-color artwork, including a new cover from Eisner-winning co-creator Staples. Collects #1-54.” (Catalogue)

Starlight : the return of Duke McQueen / Millar, Mark
“Forty years ago, Duke McQueen saved an alien world from destruction. Back on earth, nobody believed his story. Now his kids are grown, his wife has passed on, and life has little to offer. Until the day a strange boy from the world he once saved makes an appearance, coaxing Duke to join him on one last adventure. Can Duke handle the leap from has-been to hero? Collects Starlight #1-6.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Letter 44. Volume I, Escape velocity / Soule, Charles
“On Inauguration Day, newly elected President Stephen Blades hoped to tackle the most critical issues facing the nation: war, the economy, and a failing health care system. But in a letter penned by the outgoing President, Blades learns the truth that redefines “critical”: seven years ago, NASA discovered alien presence in the asteroid belt, and kept it a secret from the world. A stealth mission crewed by nine astronauts was sent to make contact, and they’re getting close-assuming they survive the long journey to reach their destination. Today, President-elect Blades has become the most powerful man on the planet. This planet.” (Catalogue)

Mooncop / Gauld, Tom
Living on the moon . . . Whatever were we thinking? . . . It seems so silly now.” The lunar colony is slowly winding down, like a small town circumvented by a new super highway. As our hero, the Mooncop, makes his daily rounds, his beat grows ever smaller, the population dwindles. A young girl runs away, a dog breaks off his leash, an automaton wanders off from the Museum of the Moon. Mooncop is equal parts funny and melancholy. capturing essential truths about humanity and making this a story of the past, present, and future, all in one.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The Manhattan Projects. 1 / Hickman, Jonathan
“What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs?” (Catalogue)

Girl from the Tree House : Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Gudrun Frerichs

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to have a video piece from Gudrun Frerichs author of Girl from the Tree House.

Gudrun has a fascinating personal backstory born on a small island near Hamburg she emigrated to New Zealand thirty years ago and worked until her retirement as a psychotherapist she is now a full time writer and describes herself as closet gypsy.

She says that her must have writing aids are a cup of Earl Grey a box of chocolates and the occasional glass of Merlot.

Gudrun’s previous novels include The Golden Girls Romantic Series of Contemporary Women’s novels. About four highly successful friends approaching their golden sixties who live in Auckland.  And the books  join  them as they navigate life’s obstacles.

Girl from the Tree House is a departure from her previous works and revolves around Elizabeth a woman with dissociative identity disorder, who is accused of murder. The novel is set in New Zealand’s West Coast is a fast paced psychological thriller that one reader described as a “superbly written story”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Gudrun for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Gudrun and were mentioned in her interview.


Pippi Longstocking / Lindgren, Astrid
“Pippi is the only girl in the world who can do exactly what she likes. She is nine years old and lives in a cottage with a horse and a monkey. Her friends Tommy and Annika have to go to school and go to bed when they’re told, but they still have time to join Pippi on all her great adventures.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The world’s best Karlson / Lindgren, Astrid
“Smidge is used to Karlson, the funny little man with a propeller on his back, living on the roof. They are firm friends. Now, anytime Karlson pops in, Smidge knows that there’s fun and adventure in store.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ABC murders / Christie, Agatha
” There’s a serial killer on the loose. His  macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. But if A is for Alice Ascher, and B for Betty Bernard, then who will victim C be? Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Poirot is the man to find out.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Penhallow / Heyer, Georgette
“Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion. The death of menacing old man Adam Penhallow, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. When it emerges that he was poisoned, there are more than a dozen prime suspects.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here. You can visit Gudrun’s website by clicking here.

Modern crochet projects to enjoy!

Find basic crochet techniques, including patterns and instructions, how to create modern and colourful projects for you and your family. Happy crafting!


Learn to crochet
Learn to Crochet is the only book you will need to learn to create beautiful crocheted garments from your own hook. The book is packed with detailed information on yarns and threads, hook types and sizes, plus step-by-step guidance on holding a hook and yarn, making a loop to basic stitches and much more. All of the teaching sections have clear colour artwork and diagrams, teamed with colour photography of real-life examples of crocheted items, ideal for the beginner. The book also comes with an outstanding gallery of 20 simple projects to make – easy, intermediate and advanced.” (Catalogue)

Crocheted hats & scarves : 35 stylish and colorful crochet patterns / Trench, Nicki
“Wrap up in style with these 35 cute crocheted projects. Accessorize in style with these 35 cute crocheted projects.  It takes no time at all to crochet a scarf or a hat, and Nicki Trench has created a wide range of contemporary designs. Start with the soft and cozy seashell stitch scarf or the bright beanie hat which can be made in a range of eye-catching shades. The delicate daisy scarf and the pretty rose headband can be worn all year round. There are also handy stash-busters such as the granny square patchwork scarf and the pompom hat for babies.” (Catalogue)

Fun feet : 30 super-cute booties to crochet for babies and toddlers
“Find the perfect crocheted shoe or boot to complete your child’s Halloween outfit or just to liven up an everyday outfit and make your child smile. Complete exciting foolproof projects following clear, step-by- step instructions with over 200 full-colour photographs showing the steps involved and completed projects.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Crocheted baby shoes / Pierce, Val
“Looking for a unique baby gift? Here are twenty gorgeous shoes, booties and pumps to crochet in a range of colours and styles, for both boys and girls. Choose from red strawberry-style shoes with flowery toes, smiley car shoes, Christmas booties and even shoes shaped like frogs. Each project is accompanied by lists of the materials and equipment required and inspiring photographs. As all babies are different, sizes and age suggestions are given for each project, from birth to twelve months, but general advice is also given at the beginning of the book on how to increase or decrease the size of the projects.” (Catalogue)

Mini crochet creatures : 30 amigurumi animals to make / Bergstrom, Lauren
“Adorable and cute, these projects may be small but rhey are bursting with personality, making perfect gifts for friends and family. Book jacket.” (Catalogue)

Boho crochet : 30 hip and happy projects
“Discover vibrant crocheted projects that exemplify a bohemian spirit. Stitch traditional motifs in contemporary color combinations to create blankets, pillows, fashion accessories, and more. Discover a vibrant collection of crocheted projects that exemplify a bohemian spirit. Express yourself with cool and unconventional projects Make blankets, pillows, coasters, bags and fashion accessories, and much, much more Learn the basics with step-by-step photos; then find your crochet groove with easy-to-follow patternsAvailable to customers in the U.S. and Canada only.” (Catalogue)

What do astronauts read in space?

What do Astronauts read in space?

What books inspired them to become Astronauts?

To celebrate the launch of our World Space week online film festival. We have done a bit of exploring of our own and found out what two Astronauts like to read in space or inspired them to become Astronauts.

For full details of our online World space week film festival click here.

Astronaut Anousheh Ansari dreamed about going into space from a very young age,  a dream she achieved just after her 40th birthday, when she became the first Iranian in space. She is now the CEO of the X prize foundation. The book she cites as her inspiration for her dream of becoming an astronaut was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti choose The Martian by Andy Weir, The Invincible by Stanisław Lem. And her personal favourite of her picks was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Samantha said she had three good reasons for picking it as her favourite:

  • The first was that in the book the answer to the ultimate question is forty two, and she was a crew member on the forty second Expedition.
  • Second, the book contains an important reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.
  • And finally, and perhaps most importantly, ‘Don’t panic’ is printed on the cover.

Other astronauts have taken up other novels including Gone With the Wind, Vanity Fair and War and Peace, Faust and Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Astronauts also read books to children from space as part of the Storytime from space project and you can watch their out of this world readings by clicking here. Enjoy!

The little prince / Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de
” If a little fellow comes along, if he laughs, if he has golden hair, and if he never answers questions, then you will know who he is. He is the Little Prince. The Little Prince journeys to our planet from his home among the stars, encountering all sorts of benighted grown-ups along the way, and a fox, who teaches him how to see the important things in life. But the Prince has left behind a flower growing on his star, a rose which is his treasure and his burden, and before long he must return to it. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy : a trilogy in four parts / Adams, Douglas
” Book one: One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. For Arthur, who has just had his house demolished, this is too much. Sadly, the weekend’s just begun. Book two : When all issues of space, time, matter and the nature of being are resolved, only one question remains: Where shall we have dinner? Book three : In consequence of a number of stunning catastrophes, Arthur Dent is surprised to find himself living in a hideously miserable cave on prehistoric Earth. Book three .Arthur Dent’s sense of reality is in its dickiest state when he suddenly finds the girl of his dreams. They go in search of God’s Final Message and, in a dramatic break with tradition, actually find it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Martian : a novel / Weir, Andy
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. ” You can also borrow the film adaptation by clicking  here for details.

Gone with the wind / Mitchell, Margaret
” This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.” (Adapted from Catalogue) You can also borrow the film adaptation by clicking  here for details.

Vanity fair / Thackeray, William Makepeace
“Becky Sharp will do anything to raise her position in Society, from impoverished orphan to woman of means. Clever, lively and resourceful, Becky is the total opposite of her naive and sentimental schoolmate Amelia Sedley, a pampered yet good-natured girl from a wealthy family. As both women pursue love and life in London, against the background of the Napoleonic Wars, Thackeray paints a vivid portrait of decadent Regency England and satirises its corruption and flaws to delightful effect.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

War and peace / Tolstoy, Leo
” War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count, who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds – peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers – as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Faust, part one / Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
“Goethe’s Faust is a radical adaptation of the old German story of the wandering conjuror who sells his soul to a devil called Mephistopheles for magical powers and secret knowledge. Over a period of sixty years Goethe turned it into one of the greatest dramatic and poetic masterpieces of European literature. Goethe started work on it in the 1770s when still a young man, only finishing it near the end of his life, some fifty years later.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

The moon is a harsh mistress / Heinlein, Robert A.
“‘ It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of a former penal colony on the Moon against its masters on the Earth. It is a tale of a culture whose family structures are based on the presence of two men for every woman, leading to novel forms of marriage and family. It is the story of the disparate people – a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic – who become the movement’s leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to the revolt’s inner circle, who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution’s ultimate success.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Tugga’s Mob: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Stephen Johnson

Continuing our short feature series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards, we are delighted to have an exclusive interview and reading by debut novelist and Ngaio Marsh shortlisted author of Tugga’s Mob, Stephen Johnson.

Stephen has a fascinating background, first as a courier and driver for Topdeck Travel, taking passengers from London to Istanbul and then as a television producer for some of New Zealand’s most iconic news and sports programmes. Both of these life experiences inform many of the dramatic devices and locations Stephen uses in this novel. For example, the novel’s investigators are a television current affairs crew rather than the traditional detectives or private investigators.

Stephen describes himself as an accidental author who wrote the book whilst on an empty nest tour of Europe. The plot revolves around Judy Williams, a young backpacker whose dream of exploring Europe on her OE ends tragically in her murder. It is only the discovery of her diary thirty years later that leads to the investigation that finally puts matters to right. Tugga’s Mob has been described by many reviewers as a “compulsive page turner” that vividly brings to life some of Europe’s top tourist destinations.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Stephen for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony. The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

Below are some of the books that influenced Stephen Johnson and were mentioned in his interview:

Secret Seven on the trail / Blyton, Enid
“Something mysterious is going on at Tigger’s Barn, and the Secret Seven are intrigued. Peter thinks it’s all just gossip, but Jack isn’t so sure when he overhears a strange conversation. It looks like the Seven are on the trail of another exciting adventure! Solve the mystery!This edition features the classic text and comes with a Bonus Blyton section at the back with quizzes, puzzles and other bonus extras! .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Call for the dead / Le Carré, John
“After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the death, he begins his own investigation, meeting Fennan’s widow. On the very day Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans – and their agents – know more about this man’s death than the Circus previously imagined?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Ipcress file / Deighton, Len
“Len Deighton’s classic first novel, whose protagonist is a nameless spy – later christened Harry Palmer and made famous worldwide in the iconic 1960s film starring Michael Caine. The Ipcress File was not only Len Deighton’s first novel, it was his first bestseller and the book that broke the mould of thriller writing. For the working class narrator, an apparently straightforward mission to find a missing biochemist becomes a journey to the heart of a dark and deadly conspiracy.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Bourne identity : a novel / Ludlum, Robert
” His memory is a blank. His bullet-ridden body was fished from the Mediterranean Sea. His face has been altered by plastic surgery. A frame of microfilm has been surgically implanted in his hip. Even his name is a mystery. Marked for death, he is racing for survival through a bizarre world of murderous conspirators–led by Carlos, the world’s most dangerous assassin. Who is Jason Bourne? The answer may kill him. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Headhunters/ Nesbø, Jo
“Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, but one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting–and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A place of execution / McDermid, Val
In the village of Scardale, thirteen-year-old girls didn’t just run away. So when Alison Carter vanished in the winter of ’63, everyone knew it was a murder. Catherine Heathcote remembers the case well. A child herself when Alison vanished, decades on she still recalls the sense of fear. Now a journalist, she persuades DI George Bennett to speak of the hunt for Alison, the tantalizing leads and harrowing dead ends. But when a fresh lead emerges, Bennett tries to stop the story… ‘” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The faceless / Symon, Vanda
“Bradley is a middle-aged man trapped in middle-class New Zealand. One day, Bradley picks up a teenage hooker. Unfortunately he can’t keep it up and then she laughs at him. That was a mistake. He beats her, ties her up and takes her to an abandoned warehouse. Max is homeless. He eats from rubbish bins, bums cigarettes from anyone and anywhere, including the footpath. But Max has one friend and she has gone missing. If he is to find her he is going to have to call on some people from his past life and re-open old wounds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When she was good / Robotham, Michael
“Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return. Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…” (Catalogue)

For more information on Stephen click here.