What’s hot, what’s not: Summer Reading Adventure reviews

Summer Reading Adventure - 1 December 2023 to 30 January 2024

Full information - Summer Reading Adventure 23/24

Have you ever harboured secret dreams about being a world-famous New York Times literary critic?

Or read a book that you simply must share with the world?

Or, conversely, want to spread the word about a tome that simply just wasn’t up to scratch?

One of the most popular activities in our Summer Reading Adventure, both with children and adults alike, are the reviews.

We’ve received over ten thousand reviews to date as part of this year’s Summer Reading Adventure. These range from twelve words or so long (short and sweet!), to pages in length; can be funny or serious or right on the money — it’s really up to you! (But please no straight copies of book cover reviews as we have to reject these.)

And whilst the prestige of a review well-written is reward enough, we also have some spot prizes to give out!

So, if being an ace book reviewer appeals to you, find details below about getting started with Summer Reading at the link below, and send us your reviews!

Summer Reading Adventure – All the info

To whet your appetite, below are just a few of the thousands of reviews we’ve already received. Have a read, and send us your reviews! Remember, it’s not just physical books — don’t forget to log your eBooks or audiobooks and help us reach our 20,000 collective target!

Night tribe / Butler, Peter
“YA fiction is not normally my thing, but I was compelled to check it out after hearing Kim Hill interview the author. The tag line is “Deep in a cave off the Heaphy Track an epic adventure unfolds” and the Heaphy Track and environs featured large in my childhood. The premise is that two rangitahi – Millie and Toby – become lost after setting out to find help when their mother breaks her leg in a side track on the Heaphy. They are then “rescued” by a group of people call themselves Night tribe, who dwell within the cave network that riddles the limestone country beneath the North-west Nelson region, yet remain hidden from the outside world. The tribe are supposedly the descendants a bunch of convicts escaped from Botany Bay and eventually shipwrecked on the remote coast above the Heaphy river after a skirmish with local iwi 200 years ago. Throughout the story line blends factual events with imaginary ones, the author having worked on the Heaphy and still lives in the Golden Bay region. His knowledge of the region shines through the work. His previous works were non fiction and this is his first YA book. While it wasn’t my thing overall, I feel it would appeal to its intended audience, and its great to see a New Zealand themed adventure story come to the YA market.” (Review by Linda)

One Piece Omnibus 67-68-69 : New World / Oda, Eiichirō
“Another fantastic volume, thank you Oda sensei. I particularly enjoyed the part just after Luffy ate a dragon, when that decapitated chauvinist Samurai kept scaring all those giant children held captive on the 50/50 punk island with his Marlin from Nemo “have you seen my son!?” schtick. Nice also to see Captain Smoker back in the fray, that guy’s so cool. Smoking TWO cigars at the same time? Inspired.” (Review by Ethan)

Everyone in my family has killed someone / Stevenson, Benjamin
“A fun whodunit with quirky characters, a humorous narrator, relatable family drama (without any murder thus far in my family ), all while maintaining a sense of danger. My favorite book that I’ve read in the last 6 weeks. I’ll look out for new books from the author.” (Review by Tali )

Bowerbird blues / Parker, Aura
“OH MY GOODNESS! What a stunning book with the sweetest story. The artwork is breath-taking and deeply soothing in shades of blue, and the story is delicious poetry. This would be a lovely book to read aloud to little ones, have them read to you or to just enjoy on ones own, no matter the age. The depictions of Sydney are particularly wonderful.” (Review by Kath)

Beowulf : a verse translation
“This version of the greatest Old English epic poem to be preserved in the Nowell Codex is a simple presentation of the original text with heavy glossing on facing pages. If you want to understand the origins of epic fantasy in English literature, this is the place to start. Much has been made of the difficulty of reading and translating Beowulf, so if you are totally unfamiliar with the story or the language, I might suggest starting with the Seamus Heaney translation, or the great recent graphic novel adaptation by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin. But if you’re keen to jump into the original text, this is as good a place as any to do so. But look, I won’t lie to you. The story is as basic as they come (spoilers ahead). There’s this dude called Beowulf, he’s a big ol’ guy with big ol’ muscles, and he kills a big ol’ monster called Grendel for the crime of eating 30 Danish party-goers… every day for like 20 years (you would think the Danes might have called in the cavalry a little earlier but I guess they didn’t want to look like lil nerds who couldn’t even take down one monster). Then he kills another big ol’ monster who happens to be Grendel’s mum. Then he gets to sit around being king for a while before he has to kill — you guessed it — a third big ol’ monster. Except this one is a dragon and it sets him on fire and bites a hole in his neck, thus ending Beowulf’s story (though being the badass he is, being on fire and bleeding out doesn’t prevent him from killing the dragon anyway — his last words are basically “at least show me the sick loot I got for beating this boss” before dramatically dying all over his new pile of gold-plated dinnerware). So if you like monsters, magic, epic journeys and lots of blood and gore, Beowulf is the story for you! It’s basically LOTR (or like the second half of The Hobbit) but without all the filler. It’s not all doom and gloom though — the sċop (bard) who wrote the original version of the poem down devotes a weird amount of time to dunking on this loser Unferth who keeps trying and failing to talk down to our buddy Beowulf. Not cool, Unferth — in Beowulf’s words, “in helle sċealt werhðo drēogan, þēah þīn wit duge” (basically, “go to hell you big nerd.”) Classy!” (Review by Stephen)