Book Connections

Books by New Zealand Authors

Today I am sharing five  contemporary New Zealand authors I have read or intend reading. New Zealand has many authors although I confess I read only a few of them. Mainly that’s because of my taste. Another day I’ll share some of the previous NZ authors I’ve enjoyed. Some of the books have a NZ setting and some are set elsewhere.

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New Zealand author Nalini Singh is a favourite of mine as you may have guessed. I have come to love her paranormal series and I’ve read a couple of her contemporary romance.

A Madness of Sunshine  is set in the South Island of New Zealand, is a murder mystery set in contemporary times. I have read it and really enjoyed it. Published 2019.

book cover When it all Turned to Custard by Danielle Hawkins is one  I own and bought after I read a review by an Australian blogger. I haven’t read it yet but its in the queue. It too is set in New Zealand. Hmm I just see a recommendation on the back by one of my favourite Australian authors – Fiona Lowe who says ” An entertaining read full of humour, heart and soul.” I should move it up the list. Published 2019

book coverSoraya Lane has written both romance and women’s fiction. Its the latter that I enjoy. The Spitfire Girls is set overseas and is an insight into  the courageous contribution women made in both England and the USA towards the WW2 endeavours. These women were willing to put their lives on the line and take on piloting planes to where they were needed. And… they were very successful.

Soraya M. Lane does an excellent job helping us get inside the lives of such young women. Often they were up against ‘the establishment’ and the attitudes and prejudices of the populace.  Published 2019.

book coverWhat a honey of a book. I was originally enticed into this book by the US edition with its warm tones on the cover, however as I read the book I came to love this cover too. Sugar is a treasure and the amazing ‘family’ of people she gathered around her was endearing and satisfying. As it says on the cover – a novel of honey, love and manners.

So The Wedding Bees – awesome. Loved Queen Elizabeth 1 and 6. Witty, warm and charming is one way to describe this book. It does explore some important issues in a very gentle way. Well done Sarah-Kate Lynch. Raising my glass to The Wedding Bees and the Buzz-off Bride.  Set in the USA. Published 2014 Unfortunately Sarah-Kate has moved on to writing scripts for TV shows so no recent books!

book cover Finally a book I bought this week. This is by Farid Ahmed about his wife, the Christchurch massacre and his journey to forgiveness. All royalties go to St John Ambulance. As the one year date for this awful shooting and I heard about this book o the radio, I was immediately interested in reading it. Farid’s wife was killed in this massacre. I believe the book will build my understanding of the experience of another New Zealander.



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Heavenly Hirani’s School of Laughing Yoga. Sarah-Kate Lynch

book cover

Heavenly Hirani’s School of Laughing Yoga
Sarah-Kate Lynch
Published: Black Swan – Random House
Date: 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 269
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book.
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My thoughts banner
Annie Jordan is feeling rather blah. She has had a number of losses in her life, her children have left home and she looks at her husband and feels like they are strangers.  Then he invites her to go to India with him, he has work there, but he thinks Annie will enjoy the experience.

At first she isn’t very able to dip her toes into the culture around her.  But then she is invited to Heavenly Hirani’s School of Laughing Yoga. (I know, a mouth full – right!) Hirani isn’t a believer in the painful poses of some yoga, but she is graceful, insightful and a big believer in the power of a good laugh.

Annie finds herself opening up to India and the people she is meeting.  As she does so, she begins to question her life and relationships.  She feels somewhat invisible to her nearest and dearest. She begins to take some assertive steps, but always remembering Ghandi’s words – Be truthful, gentle and fearless.

This is a slow moving book, the strength is in Annie’s exploration of India and the growth of her as a person.  If you ever wanted to visit India and never got the opportunity – read this book and you’ll feel you are right there. If you never wanted to visit India (me!) well you just might change your mind. Sarah-Kate Lynch has been to India herself and at the end of the book are some photos of places and
people she met there.

Quirky, gently funny and full of the sights and sounds of India.

4 stars


By Bread Alone. Sarah-Kate Lynch

By Bread Alone
Sarah-Kate Lynch
Published: Random House NZ
Date: 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 310
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book
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Esme has an adoring husband, a wonderful son, an evil goat, some angry bees and a suspicion that she will never be happy again.  Even baking her precious sourdough no longer works its usual magic.  All it does is transport Esme back to the salty little French bakery where she found and lost her first true love, Louis, the village boulanger.  When a chance meeting with this bewitching morsel from her past breathes fresh hope into Esme’s life, the grass starts to look greener on his side of the fence.  But is Louis really the secret ingredient Esme needs for a blissful future? Or is the recipe for happiness closer to home?

My thoughts banner
By Bread Alone is a well written, well thought out story.  Esme is a woman in crisis, although she’d rather everyone around her thought she is fine.  Her husband Pog misses the sourdough bread she is so good at baking, her father-in-law grumps at her, her grandma gives her some advice and her four year old son Rory prefers to call her Esme.
The family lives in a tall house, called House of the Clouds, with the kitchen at the top in Suffolk.  There has been some effort made to live an idyllic country life but it doesn’t all work out perfectly.  Esme is not really happy and there is a part of her that longs for the success she might have had in London in the publishing/TV business.  She wonders if she should have pursued her first love relationship with a Frenchman – Louis.  She confides her discontent to her gay friend- Charlie, who sets out to play God in this realm.
After awhile it becomes obvious there is a dark cloud hanging over the house, and Esme allows no one to speak of it.  Her husband suggests they look for counselling but Esme shies away.  She doesn’t want to talk about it.
A series of events lands Esme in some comprising situations, but there are people there who are supportive and gradually the dark secret is taken out of the cupboard and acknowledged and explored.  Everyone’s guilt, unhappiness and beliefs are taken out and aired, and in the doing of it life starts to look up for Esme and her family.
For some reason I didn’t find myself wholly engaged with the book, I didn’t hook in very well to it.  I am not sure why, I was pleased to see how it all worked out, and enjoyed one little surprise at the end which made me chuckle because I had missed any clues completely.
3 stars
March 2015 Take Control of Your TBR Pile

The Wedding Bees. Sarah-Kate Lynch

The Wedding Bees
Sarah-Kate Lynch
Published: HarperCollins  2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Local library

When Sugar Wallace arrives in Manhattan with nothing but a beehive, a secret past and a taste for good manners, life starts to change for the dispirited occupants of 33 Flores Street.

But as love wings its way into their hearts and homes, it flies away from Sugar herself. That is, until a doorman without a door and a certain busy queen join forces in a sting to end all stings. It looks like love might be in the air once more … but for how long?

My thoughts
I was first lured into this book by the WilliamMorrow The Wedding Bees version that was published in January 2014.  The one I read was published in 2013 by HarperCollins.  At first I liked the WilliamMorrow cover, however as I read the book I came to appreciate the HarperCollins cover with its raised bees on the cover.  So now I really like them both!
Sugar is a wonderful character, she does have a history and this is gradually revealed.  We find out why she is always on the move.  She is a warm, caring character and seems to have a very positive influence on the people that live around her.  She has a hive of bees that she inherited from her grandfather, there is a significant relationship between her and her bees.  The bees have her best interests at heart, and have a lot to say about who she finally chooses to marry. Queen Elizabeth 1 and 6, and all the queens in between keep their eye out for Sugar and her feelings.  
We learn quite a bit of information about bees as we read, it had me stopping to search for some of the honey places mentioned.  This book could sell a lot of honey!
We meet the people who live in the same apartment building as Sugar in New York.  What a motley cast of characters, but they are really like the family Sugar doesn’t seem to have, and their community begins to move and change as Sugar interacts with them.
While at first sight this novel seems light, witty and charming – I did like the way some issues are explored, I felt they were important and very well handled.  The sense of values that came through further endeared me.  A delightful read.

4 stars
link to Goodreads

On Top of Everything.

Book Cover

On Top of Everything        TBR Challenge
Sarah-Kate Lynch
Published: Black Swan – Random House
Date: 2008
Pages: 308
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book

Summary from back cover

Rotten things happen in threes in Florence’s family, so when she’s fired by her best friend and left by her husband in the space of a single afternoon, she knows there is yet more trouble brewing.  And when her son Monty returns from his gap year Down Under it’s only too clear what, or who, that trouble is.

Then the plan to turn her crumbling home into a tea room hits a snag, the macrame at her sister’s house seriously starts to unravel, and why is her doctor leaving so many messages?  Enter Will, a mysterious handyman with a secret stash of chocolate truffles, and soon life – with all its hiccups – is just her cup of tea.

My thoughts.
I chose this one for the TBR challenge this month because it has been on my shelf since 2008 when I bought it – at the cost of $29.99.  (Books are expensive in NZ, not a good place for readers to live!) And we are a nation of readers!  Was there hype about it – can’t really remember, but there must have been in magazines because it came to my attention somehow.  But oh dear, it sure languished on my shelf after that.  After five years it deserved to be read.

The cover promises light and fluffy.  However there is very little about it that is light and fluffy.  Florence the main character has enough things go wrong in her life, and all at once, and far more than most people experience in their life.  At the beginning and through the story its a case of…. and on top of everything…. this disaster happens.  The rug has been pulled from under Florence’s feet.  As the story is told and family and Will impact on her life, and she starts to let go and accept support, she finds she is really ‘on top of everything’.  The title of the book is certainly clever and well suits the book.

The book has a witty style to it, told from 1st person point of view – Florence.  At the end of each chapter there is a short chapter form another character’s point of view.  This actually works well and gives a more rounded view to the reader.  The book is well written, Mary-Kate Lynch is a competent writer.  While this book did not particularly grab me, I do have another one by Mary-Kate Lynch that I bought at a book fair, and I will certainly go ahead and read it.

3 stars