New and Recommended



The President is missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

The clock is ticking, and President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan must personally follow the trail of an immediate and grave terrorist threat to America.  The trouble is, he has no idea of who the perpetrators really are, or the exact nature of the deadly peril his country stands in.  Only he, as President, can negotiate with suspects to find the answers he needs.  And who the traitor in his closest circle of advisors will prove to be.  Gripping stuff, with some insider knowledge no doubt provided by Mr Clinton.  Not as thrilling as most of James Patterson’s novels, but still a worthy page-turner.

Killing it by Asia Mackay

Lex Tyler works for the assassination department of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  She has just returned from six month’s maternity leave after the birth of her daughter, Gigi.  While it’s handy having access to surveillance equipment light years in advance of the usual baby-cam to keep tabs on the nanny, she has other worries.  Will baby brain affect her aim?  Her first target is a particularly nasty Russian oligarch.  But not all is at it seems in the seamy world of international espionage. Fast moving thriller with an entertaining heroine. ​

Apostle Lodge by Paul Mendelson

Set in Cape Town, another police thriller featuring Colonel Vaughn De Vries, a flawed detective from the Special Crimes Unit.  De Vries calls on profiler Grace Bellingham when he fears that the killing and mutilation of a woman at a deserted house called Apostle Lodge is the work of a serial killer.  Indeed, a pattern of similar crimes appears, and puts Grace herself at risk of being targeted.  At the same time, an apparent terrorist attack results in an explosion in the central city.  De Vries comes to believe all is not as it seems with this incident.  As usual, this puts him at odds with his superiors.​​​

Careless love by Peter Robinson

Inspector Alan Banks has two mysterious deaths to unravel.  Two bodies are found on the moors above Eastvale, with a similar time of death.  A young girl in evening dress whose body has been propped up in an already crashed car on a hill road, and a late middle-aged man in a business suit, dead in a gully from a broken neck.  When a third body is found in the same area, the mystery deepens.  Banks feels sure the deaths are connected, but it seems impossible that the victims knew each other.  ​​

The Iberian flame by Julian Stockwin

Another Thomas Kydd novel set in the Napoleonic Wars.  In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte signs a treaty with the Spanish government.  Soon his armies are occupying the country, and the Spanish king flees, to be replaced as king by Napoleon’s brother, Joseph.  Captain Thomas Kydd and his shipmates on the Tyger find themselves caught up in a popular uprising against the French by the Spanish people.  When General Wellesley, later to become the Duke of Wellington, needs naval support from a skilled and courageous frigate captain, Kydd fits the bill.  ​

Homecomings by Marcia Willett

A feel-good “Aga-saga” novel set in a Cornish fishing village.  Widower Ned and his nephew Hugo share a big house by the harbour, which becomes a safe haven for a large cast of friends and family of all ages needing shelter from the storms of upper middle class life.  Nobody is short of a bob or two in Marcia Willett’s novels, but she is good at describing relationships and creating likeable characters.  Easy reading.​ 


A landscape legacy by John Brookes

An autobiography through the gardens of his life by this famous English landscape designer, with lavish colour photographs and garden plans.  Brookes was a pioneer in thinking that a domestic garden should be designed for the lifestyle and use of its owners, many of whom needed a labour-saving place to relax in.  His style of strikingly simple, modernist garden designs, often using gravel in the place of grass, was effective in both small and public settings.  Working abroad in Iran, Kashmir, the United States, Japan, Russia and South America gives the book an exotic dimension and adds to the many design ideas for keen gardeners.​

Mismatch, how our Stone Age brain deceives us every day and what we can do about it by Ronald Giphart and March van Vugt

We are no longer savannah-roaming hunter-gatherers, but many of the instincts from that long period of human history stay with us.  Leftover evolutionary strategies can play havoc with our well-being through fatty, sugary diets, an overload of stress, a desire for instant gratification, and a preference for “strong” leaders. This book asks how we can re-programme our Stone Age brains to best deal with the demands and dangers of the modern world.​

How to be a Tudor, a dawn-to-dusk guide to everyday life by Ruth Goodman

The author has cooked Tudor food, followed Tudor personal hygiene customs (without, she says, alienating her workmates), and slept in all sorts of Tudor beds.  Disease was thought to enter the body through the open pores of the skin, so daily bathing would have been considered suicidal. To keep themselves clean, people changed their linen underclothing regularly, and rubbed themselves down with cloths.  Soot was used as tooth cleaner.  All fascinating stuff, giving insights into the daily lives and customs of all classes of Tudor society.​

Straight from the pig's mouth by Al Lester

A frank and often light-hearted look at the author’s 31 year career in the New Zealand Police.  Starting as a constable in Timaru, Al Lester rose to become a detective sergeant in the CIB in Christchurch.  Policemen have insights into humanity that few of us, (most would say luckily), can ever have.  This gives the author access to a wealth of anecdotes featuring the trademark black humour for which police are famed.  However he also freely admits the desperate circumstances he encountered in his work also took a toll on his mental health and well-being.​

Beware of the dog, positive solutions for aggressive behaviour in dogs by Pat Miller

This is a really hopeful book for those who have serious problems with their dogs.  Aggression in dogs is simply not tolerated in todays’ society, but how to channel a dog’s energy to more positive behaviours, and desensitise him to things that cause stress?  Pat Miller suggests various strategies for modifying behaviours and removing the triggers for dog on human and dog on dog aggression. Well illustrated with photos, and full of positive training tips.  It just may hold the solution you need.​ 

Wallis in love by Andrew Morton

Andrew Morton caused a furore with his book about Diana, Princess in Love.  Now he turns his talents as a biographer to the story of Wallis Simpson, the twice divorced Southern Belle who lost Edward the Eighth the British throne, married him and became the Duchess of Windsor.  It is a fascinating story, although the characters of neither of the Windsors comes across as particularly attractive.  Wallis was driven all her life to ruthlessly improve her social position through men, and Morton claims that her aim really was to become Queen.  Instead she found herself in exile, living the “romance of the century” with a man who increasingly bored and irritated her.  ​

Children and Teens​

Annual edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris

Back in the far off days when television hadn't been invented many children found an Annual in their Christmas stockings.  They featured heroes such as Rupert the bear and other popular book and magazine characters. Kate De Goldi, Susan Paris and friends have put together an Annual following a similar format.  Stories are mixed with poems, jokes, things to do and comic strips.  The look may be retro but the content is definitely 2017. Annual is the perfect browsing book, with something for everyone.

Troll stinks by Jeanne Willis

Remember the three Billy Goats Gruff?  Grandson Billy and his friend Cyril star in this modern twist on the goats versus troll story.  Billy picks up a phone that the farmer has lost.  The friends have some laughs.  But when do a few texts and the threat of an internet posting cross the line from harmless fun to cyber bullying?

Our earliest stories were often written to illustrate a moral.  It’s interesting to see this continued to cover 21st century themes.



Page reviewed: 01 Sep 2020 3:43pm