Rotorua Reads

Book news, reviews and recommendations for library lovers.

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Born scared by Kevin Brooks

When one thinks of a Christmas story they probably think of a cosy, warm hearted story filled with Christmas cheer. This year I choose read something a bit different – a psychological teen thriller that takes place on Christmas Eve.
Thirteen-year-old Elliot suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. He is terrified over almost everything. Elliot claims to remember his birth and his twin sister Ellamay, who died at birth. He has internal conversations with Ellamay.
It is Christmas Eve, there has been a snowstorm, and there has been a mix-up with Elliot’s medication. Elliot’s mother sets out leaving him home alone after Elliot’s aunt, who agreed to collect the medication from the pharmacy is late and unreachable by phone.
We also see two robbers dressed in Santa suits and the office Christmas party, which sees a bank manager on a drug-fuelled bender that involves a police chase.
All these elements connect together for a gripping, tense, intelligent exploration of mental illness with an explosive ending.
Reviewed by Graeme

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What light by Jay Asher

Jay Asher’s holiday romance What Light is a light read (pun intended) for the festive season.

The novel is narrated by Oregon teenager Sierra, whose family own a Christmas tree farm. Every year since she was a baby her family have shifted south to a California town from Thanksgiving until after Christmas to sell their Christmas trees.
Sierra has to leave behind her Oregon friends Rachel and Elizabeth. But for one month of the year she gets to see her holiday friend Heather.
Business has been struggling. Sierra overhears her parents discussing this being their last season in California.
Sierra meets Caleb, a cute messy-haired boy with perfect dimples. Caleb has a dark past, which causes Sierra’s parents concern. They are also worried about Sierra being heartbroken when they have to return to Oregon.
Despite the rumours surrounding Caleb, Sierra is drawn to him and sees the good in him.
Similar to Asher’s successful Thirteen Reasons Why, the novel touches on how one moment can change a family and the effect that resulting rumours and gossip can have. What Light is a more optimistic story though.

Fans of Thirteen Reasons Why are best not to compare the two novels as they may be disappointed as What Light is quite bland in comparison. Remember it is a light holiday romance.

It has all the elements of the holiday season – Thanksgiving, a Christmas Parade, Christmas Eve Mass, cookies, candy cane stirred hot chocolates, Christmas sweaters, gift giving, charity, and visits to Santa at the mall.  This is the perfect light read to get one in the mood for Christmas.
Reviewed by Graeme


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A Month of Sundays by Liz Byrski

This is the story of four retired or soon-to-be-retired women, who have met for more  than 10 years as part of an online book club. They've never met in person until one of the women suggests they do so. She invites them to help her house-sit in the Blue Mountains for a month. They're each asked to bring a book which will teach the others more about her. They have a week to read each of the respective books chosen while also spending time getting to know each other. Each Sunday they discuss one of the books.

Best fiction I read in 2018!
Reviewed by Abigail

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The Late Bloomers' Club by Louise Miller

If you love the TV show Gilmore Girls then you will love the book The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller,
It tells the story in the first person of Nora Huckleberry who is running her family's diner in the town of Guthrie. She has a sister Kit who flitters in and out of Guthrie. The sisters inherit a neighbour's property complete with a dog called Freckles who goes missing immediately after his owner's death. 
The sisters are trying to decide whether to sell the inherited property and if so who to. Nora is also focused on finding Freckles as well as managing the diner while Kit is busy making movies.
This is definitely a feel-good story and a great summer read!
Reviewed by Abigail

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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

This latest offering from Ms Moriarty is a cracker! As the title suggests nine people of varying ages and backgrounds meet in the confines of a health spa. Most of them are complete strangers
And all have an interesting story to tell. However, the Spa is not as they had thought it would be, resulting in testing situations and confessions spilling like large raindrops.
The characters are clearly defined and cleverly interwoven into a fast moving and thought provoking story. Does the Spa heal them? Do they find the answers they are looking for? Maybe the
unconventional therapies have more use than people think? Or maybe not?
A good sized book, just the thing for a long seasonal break, and most definitely to be enjoyed with your favourite tipple and an enormous box of chocolates!
Reviewed by Rose

Page reviewed: 17 Dec 2018 4:10pm