Eden by Joanna Nadin


The author and teacher, Catherine Bruton (see our copy of We can be heroes by Catherine Bruton in the library) has written that Eden is “Lyrical, evocative, tense and utterly un-putdownable,” and she goes on to say that it is ” a modern day Rebecca. One of the best books I have read in years” and I have to agree.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was published in 1938 (you can find a copy in the library) , and it’s popularity was continued with the black and white film made in 1940 starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. It is a story about a young second wife who feels naive and inadequate following in the shadow of her husband Maxim’s beautiful, confident and sophisticated first wife, Rebecca. She is frightened that her husband has married too soon after the death of his first wife, and her fears of  inferiority and rejection are kept alive and fuelled by Rebecca’s maid, the evil Mrs Danvers. Rebecca takes place in Cornwall and revolves around Maxim’s house and estate known as Manderley. The first line of the novel is very famous, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Like Rebecca, Joanna Nadin’s Eden is a mystery romance centred around a beautiful house called Eden, and the central character is someone in awe of her wild and daring cousin; an aspiring actress.
Eden is a book which starts slowly. A young girl in Cornwall, Evangeline, is remembering her life at Eden, past unresolved issues and grieving the loss of her older cousin in a fire. Thoughts of regret are running through her head, and as more characters are introduced into the story (with dialogue) it starts to gather speed, and the quirky similes become less overpowering and more enjoyable. Readers gradually learn the history of the girls in flashbacks, as the present (involving two love triangles) leads to its dramatic conclusion. Is there an equivalent Mrs Danvers in Eden? I think maybe there is, but I will leave it to you to discover who. This is a real page turner and won’t take you long to race to the end.

P.S. Incidentally, when Daphne Du Maurier wrote Rebecca  she was accused of plagiarism for using the same story line as A Sucessora  by Carolina Nabuco (previously published in Portuguese in 1934). This was something Du Maurier denied by writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times in February 1942.

More books by Joanna Nadin


Great new series of sports books in the library


David Riley



Some of the exciting new sports books

I was lucky enough to meet David Riley recently and hear him talk about reading and writing. He is a local author from Mangere (a suburb of Auckland) which according to the Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names  means lazy, or laziness. This was because “When Ihenga journeyed northwards from the thermal regions he rested here for a while, leaving his followers to prepare a meal. They took so long to do so that their leader was angry and commemorated the event by this name.” Unsurprisingly the dictionary goes on to say that the name was objected to by Maori during the 1840’s and they suggested Queen’s Town as a substitute. It doesn’t tell us what the people of Queen’s Town thought about that!

However, David Riley is far from lazy because he has just published his fifth book. Each of these books are packed full of interesting stories about the lives of our New Zealand and Samoan sporting heroes and the challenging moments in their lives. In some cases we know about the fame and success that these sportsmen have achieved,  but we don’t know about their struggles and dedication to their sport along the way to their success.

In Steppin’with Benji Marshall we learn that Benji Marshall was born in the same year as Sonny Bill Williams, and that a very famous author also went to his school; Whakatane High school. [If you want to know who, click here].

Off Loading with Sonny Bill Williams is full of colour and wonderful stories, and no wonder, when you look at the bibliography at the end, and the long list of people who helped and supported the author with this book.

Jammin’ with Steve Adams shows us how Steve had it tough growing up when his father died. He was sent to Scots College, “where students typically come from wealthy, European families. Polynesian students made up only five percent of the roll.” His headmaster said, “He was like a fish out of water; he felt that he didn’t fit in with rich white boys from privileged backgrounds”. When you read this, and then read the assembly speech that Steven Adams made at the end of his school life, you get a real understanding of how he matured into the great man he is today.

Samoan Heroes  What can I say? Tana Umaga, Tim Cahill, James Johnson, Michael Meredith …. Who knew there were so many Samoan heroes? This is a wonderful collection of Samoan achievers, and the life of each person is a riveting story.

Follow David Riley on twitter

David Riley on facebook

Mrs H.

The Bees by Laline Paull

King's College Beehive

King’s College Beehive

Bees are fascinating creatures. They make up more than 20,000 species of insects. They are entirely dependent on flowers for food, and the practical value of bees as pollinators is enormously greater than the value of their honey and wax production.*

Collecting honey

Collecting honey

In 2012 New Zealand had 422,728 beehives owned by 3,806 beekeepers. However, bees are having a hard time at the moment and unfortunately things like ‘colony collapse disorder’ and varroa mites are killing bees worldwide. Recent research has also shown that bees themselves seem to have a death wish by preferring to eat pesticide-contaminated foods.

This Easter President Obama was trying to read “Where the Wild Things Are” of all things, when bees (or was it the screaming children) interrupted him.

The Bees by Laline Paull is a story about an individual in a particular society; namely a bee in a beehive. It is a story of survival and adventure set amongst the mystery and magic of a beehive. Flora 717, “her kin was Flora and her number was 717”, is a member of the lowest order, she is a worker bee and she hides a deformity. Flora unlike her kin-sisters can speak and as an experiment she is saved from being killed at birth by Sister Sage.

The hive is very structured with each bee allocated a certain job (foragers or nurses for example) but above all they must follow the religion and mantra of the hive “Accept, obey and serve”. The bees worship the Queen, and in return they receive the sacrament of Devotion, which is the Queen’s Love. The religion has many laws and mottos– Discord is a sin, Greed is a sin, From Death comes Life Eternal – and poor Flora finds herself breaking all the rules because of her body (I wont give away what she does).  The social structure of the hive, and the religion that wraps round it are both defences against the enemies of the hive and a way of continuing its survival.

This is a very sensuous story where the scents, the sights, the bobs and curtseys and movements of feet and antennae are all vividly described. The hive itself seems to have a mind, or “Holy Chord” of itself. But I wasn’t too clear about how precisely knowledge, and intelligence was shared amongst all the bees of the hive. I loved the idea of the Dance Hall where the foragers passed on information about their flights to and from sources of nectar. However, at times Flora seemed to just know what to do, and at other times a Sage would delete her memories with a just swipe of the antennae. On the whole this is a page-turning, intriguing story.

To hear Laline Paull discuss her book, see here.

To hear Laline Paull talk about her inspiration, see here.

This is a fabulous film full of facts about bees, and the close-up filming is stunning.

More stories about bees in the college library:

*”Bee.” Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Holy Cow by David Duchovny

Holy Cow is a story about a cow, a pig and a turkey. Elsie Bovary’s (the cow) understanding of the world is “shaken to the core” when she sees the farmer watching a television programme about an ‘industrial meat farm’. So she decides to escape to a better, safer world with Shalom (the pig) and Tom (the turkey).

The blurb on the back of the jacket describes the book as a rollicking, globe-trotting adventure with a twist and a four-legged heroine you won’t forget in a hurry.

It sounds very much like a modern Animal Farm but it was conceived as a cartoon, and “a work of entertainment”, and when this was rejected, the author decided to turn the idea into a novel. The author it turns out is, David Duchovny, who you may recognize as the actor who played FBI Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files..

“A decent work of art raises more questions than it answers. [says the author]  If it answers questions, it becomes propaganda.”

J.M.W.Turner Painting Set Free

Mr Turner is a Mike Leigh film which chronicles the life of the artist J. M. W. Turner; played by Timothy Spall. Joseph Mallord Turner, to give him his name in full, was an English painter famous for his landscapes. When J.M.W. Turner died, in 1851, he bequeathed  a large number of his paintings to the nation. “The entire bequest – most of which is now housed in the Clore Gallery at Tate Britain – comprises nearly 300 oil paintings and around 30,000 sketches and watercolours, including 300 sketchbooks”. So it is no little surprise to learn that much of the Mr Turner production team’s research into the work of J.M.W. Turner took place at Tate Britain.


The film Mr Turner was released in conjunction with a major new exhibition of his work. J.M.W. Turner Painting Set Free, edited by David Blayney Brown and others, is a wonderful new addition to the art collection of the library. The book was published to accompany the exhibition which began in September 2014 at Tate  Britain (with the title Late Turner: painting Set free) moved on to The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, in February 2015 , and will end its travels at the de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in September 2015.

For more information:

The Martian by Andy Weir

What do we know about Mars? Mars, the Red Planet, is the fourth planet from the Sun and has two moons. It is about one half the size of Earth in diameter and has a surface full of canyons, dunes, and volcanoes. There is much less gravity on Mars than on Earth and if you weighed 100 lbs. [45 kg] on Earth you would weigh only 38 lbs. [17 kg] on Mars! Its atmosphere is not very human-friendly being made up of 96% carbon dioxide and it has an average temperature of -63 degrees celsius. A year on Mars is the equivalent of 687 Earth Days. Humanity has increasingly wondered whether there is “Life on Mars”, and knowing this new data and trying to work out how to survive in such a landscape, is what set Andy Weir, a self confessed nerd, on the path to writing his novel.

Check here for an infographic of Mars facts

NASA sent two rovers Spirit and Opportunity [June 10th & July 7th 2003] to search for water on Mars. The journey was a long one but they both landed safely [January 3rd and 24th 2004] . Check here if you are interested to see how they are doing. In February 2015 Opportunity had almost travelled a distance of 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers) an Olympic marathon, and a record for any vehicle on a world other than earth.

The Martian by Andy Weir is an exciting story about a man trying to survive on Mars, but what makes it even more interesting is that Andy Weir spent years researching all the scientific details of the story using NASA satellite images and Google Mars . He says, “Every part of the book is as scientifically accurate as I could make it, from the energy consumption of a rover to the exact process for reducing hydrazine fuel to liberate the hydrogen with which the protagonist could make water.”

Hugh Howey, the author of Wool says that this is “The best book I‘ve read in ages”. And is interesting to note that The Martian, like Wool, also started life on the web. According to Alexander Alter “A few fans asked him to sell the story on Amazon so that they could download it to e-readers. Mr. Weir had been giving his work away, but he began charging a modest amount because Amazon set the minimum price at 99 cents. He published the novel as a serial on the site in September 2012. It rose to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles. He sold 35,000 copies in three months. Agents and publishers and movie studios started circling. “

And so six years after Andy Weir began writing his book a film version directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon is scheduled for release in in the USA  later this year in November 2015.

Visit the author’s site here

Spurt a balls and all story by Chris Miles


If you have read all the Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney [including the last one The Long Haul] then this is the perfect book for you.
It is a story about a smart guy called Jack Sprigley waiting for signs of puberty to kick in, who unwisely, and not so smartly decides to try and fake it.
“ So far, Jack had come up with three possible reasons for his freakish lack of progress in the man-parts department:

1. His body was building up to a massive growth spurt. At some point soon he’d turn into an Incredible Hulk of puberty and sprout a pair of really enormous testicles.
2. It was a punishment from the gods for becoming semi-famous in Grade 6
3. There’d been a mix-up at the hospital and he was actually a girl.”

Chris Miles is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. Apart from writing a couple of non-fiction books he has also written for the best-selling Zac Power series under the name of H.I.Larry see Mind games.

Chris Miles describes Spurt like this:


To find out more about Chris Miles visit his website here.