Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Two new book reviews from Flaxflower

A Long Journey: From Steam to Cyber
by Gracie Stathers

Gracie Stathers explores her family heritage and links it to New Zealand history in this interesting book.
   The story begins with a fictionalised history of her European ancestors. The time frame runs roughly from 1840 to 1945. As the author says in her prologue, “never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.”
    The families left behind hardship in hope of a better future. They gambled their lives on dangerous sea voyages to unknown destinations, just like the reviled “economic refugees” of today. These were tough people. They endured convict life on Norfolk Island, near-shipwrecks, accidents, and personal loss. The relaxed structure of loosely connected vignettes makes this an easy read. The author weaves together domestic activities, historical facts and dialogue with a practiced hand.
   The historical section is followed by a personal biography. Many experiences in the author’s life will be familiar to baby boomers from Australia as well as New Zealand. I was touched by her grandmother’s struggle with her prosthetic leg, the result of childhood poliomyelitis.
    The author also outlines the development of her interest in alternative medicine.
   The third section of the book is an essay on New Zealand’s future in a century of internet, robotics and globalisation. The cyber future will create unemployment and hardship, just as the industrial revolution did. The author’s pride and confidence in New Zealand’s ability to solve these problems shines through.
     A fun short story about settlers colonising Mars forms the epilogue.
    Stathers ties her family history and personal memories to wider historical contexts in an original way. The essay section was heavier going, and I would have liked to know more about the Maori perspective on European settlement. However, I enjoyed this very readable book, which would appeal especially to fans of biographies and historical fiction.

​Flaxflower Review by Jai Baidell
​Title: A Long Journey From Steam to Cyber
Author: Gracie Stathers
Publisher: Wallace Publishing
ISBN: 978-0473383022
RRP: $28.00 paper; kindle US$2.99
Available: Books A Plenty, Tauranga
He Reo Wāhine: Māori Women’s Voices from the Nineteenth Century
by Lachy Paterson & Angela Wanhalla

Years of dedicated research and work have gone into producing this book, and it shows – the result is a literary taonga that adds much to understanding this nation’s past.
  When the arts of reading and writing were introduced to Māori society they added to the strong oral tradition already present, and were taken up with enthusiasm.
    It is an unfortunate aspect of colonial tradition that the histories, views and words of women were not as valued as those of men, and were largely overlooked and ignored when archives were being compiled. This is true for women overall, and how much more so in the case of Māori women.
    After extensive work, the authors have helped to redress this imbalance. By examining more than 500 texts they have put together this collection, which records examples of the thoughts and experiences of Māori women between 1830 and 1900.
     As He Reo Wāhine shows, they wrote letters to all sorts of people, institutions such as government departments, and newspapers; they gave testimony in court, and made petitions – whether written or oral, in Māori or English. What is recorded in this resource is in their own words.
     The Governor of the day received a good number of direct messages –
     Kei mea mai koe he Tane nana tenei Pukapuka. Kahore [h]e wahine au nama [sic]…
     Do not think that this letter is from a man. No, I am a woman…
     Written requests and petitions, or oral testimonies made to government departments, boards and courts, gave women’s experiences and feelings on a variety of relevant subjects – such as land, war, legal matters.
     …All my interests in the land of the Ngaitahu have been seized by the Government  without the payment to me of even the smallest sum of money…
     …One of the children, a little girl, ran out of my house, and the rifles were pointed at her, and fired at her, but she was not hit….
     …I know the prisoner. I saw him on that Saturday. I never saw him before….
     Similarly, Māori women wrote letters to newspapers giving their views –
     We, your female friends, strongly object to the Dog Tax, that it should not be authorised in our districts and in our Māori villages.
     But others were more personal, addressed to friends and family –
     I want to protect my children; I brought them into the world and I must provide for them….I have sent my eldest daughter to Melbourne to be educated.
     Each of the eight chapters includes explanations to put the voices into context. These, with a comprehensive introduction and an epilogue, provide good commentary on the history of the New Zealand colonial period. The 372 pages of the volume also include a glossary, notes, bibliography, and index.
     In giving us this work Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla, associate professors at the University of Otago, have made a major contribution to a fuller and more complete account of this country’s history.

Flaxflower Review by Bronwyn Elsmore
Title: He Reo Wāhine: Māori Women’s Voices from the Nineteenth Century
Authors: Lachy Paterson & Angela Wanhalla
Publisher:  Auckland University Press
ISBN: 978 1 86940 865 7
RRP: $65
Available: Bookshops

The Wonderling

The Wonderling

By Mira Bartók


AUS Price: $24.99
NZ Price: $27.99
ISBN: 9781406370645
Walker Books

Mira Bartok began her writing career with an autobiography that was a New York Times Bestseller and winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. The Wonderling is her debut novel.

Fox 2000 brought the rights for this extraordinary debut novel with its nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, before the manuscript was even completed.  In The Wonderling, Mira Bartók tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like groundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.

Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name – a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck – it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name – Arthur, like the good king in the old stories – and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny.

About the Author
Mira Bartók is a writer and artist whose New York Times best-selling memoir, The Memory Palace: A Memoir, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. The Wonderling is her first novel for young readers. She lives in Western Massachusetts.

Accidental Immigrants


When Thomas Powell and family left Leeds, England, and sailed out to India in the early 1850’s, they little realised that within a few years they would be living in New Zealand and facing different futures. Thomas, now a widower, would remarry and become a prominent businessman and man about town. His daughter Anna Maria would marry surveyor David Porter and raise a large family. Meanwhile, son Wilmot went gold hunting, became a soldier, and then an auctioneer, businessman, newspaper correspondent, poet and borough councillor. The accidental immigrants – along with a growing family of young Powell’s born in their new home town – played major roles in the formation of a New Zealand city.
John Ewan, author of Porters in My Past, is a great great grandson of Thomas Powell.

Chateau Publishing Ltd
P O Box 3523
Nelson 7050
New Zealand

NZrrp - $35.. Distribution is by Bookreps NZ.

L’appart Book Signings and Events


L’appart Book Signings and Events
David, 25 Oct 06:10 AM

We’re almost there! In just a few days, November 7th to be exact, my new book, L’appart, will be released. I’m preparing a post that will give you more information and backstory about the book. (Spoiler: It’s a comedy of errors – mostly mine, with recipes), but here’s a list of book signings and related events that are coming up:
Most were listed on my Schedule page, as well as on my Facebook page, and some of the ticketed events sold-out quickly. However, in every city, there is an event that is free and open to the public. So you’re welcome to come and get your book signed, or just to stop by and say hi. Some of the venues request that you RSVP, so they know how many people to expect.

The Roundup with PW

Waterstones May Be Up For Sale: The Russian tycoon who owns Waterstones has hired advisers to explore a £250m sale of Britain’s best-known bookshop chain.

Jane Juska Dies at 84: The author, whose chronicle of searching for sex as a woman in her 60s became a best-selling memoir, died at a California care facility after a long illness.

Faris Cuts Pratt From Her Memoir: Anna Faris deleted a chapter on her marriage to Chris Pratt in her newly-released memoir, 'Unqualified.'

When Big Data Meets Literature: Most literary criticism is grounded in close reading. But one theorist argues for the computer-assisted crunching of thousands of texts at a time.

The Harassment Satire to Read Now: After the Weinstein revelations, 'Lightning Rods,' Helen DeWitt’s brazen, outrageous novel from 2011, now reads like a work of realism.

Waterstones for sale ?

Shelf Awareness 

Waterstones, the main bookselling chain in the U.K., may be for sale.

Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire who bought Waterstones in 2011 for £53 million (about $70 million at current exchange rates), has asked N.M. Rothschild & Sons to
advise him on strategic options, including a sale of the bookseller for £250 million (about $329 million) or refinancing of its debt, the Times of London reported late yesterday. According to a followup story from City AM, Mamut asked Rothschild to handle the matter during the summer, and the process isn't expected to be conducted in earnest until after the holiday season.

In any case, the matter has been given new impetus by the collapse of Russia's largest private bank, Otkritie, in which Mamut was a major shareholder. Bailed out two months ago and with new management, Otkritie has criticized bank owners for financing their own business deals and is seeking capital to shore up its finances, which are reportedly at least $3.3 billion in the hole. Waterstones has about $100 million in loans from the Russian Commercial Bank, which until recently was partly owned by Otkritie. According to the Evening Standard,
Waterstones Holdings also owes Lynwood, a Mamut investment company--the technical owner of Waterstones--£138.7 million (about $182.6 million) and has paid it £9.7 million ($12.8 million) in interest

Waterstones managing director James Daunt, who was appointed by Mamut when he bought the company in 2011, told the Bookseller this morning that a sale by Mamut would be
"sensible enough" because the company has become profitable and "that is what he does--buys companies, invests, turns them around and then sells them. If he can get the £200 million plus for us, he will have done very well!"

Daunt dismissed a link between the failed bank and Waterstones and said that the company had relied on funding from Russian sources--based or with operations in Cyprus--because early during his tenure, it couldn't get access to funding in the U.K. because of its weakened condition.

If it's put up for sale, Waterstones is in a better position than it's been for years. When Mamut bought the company, it was the last major bookselling chain in the U.K. and many feared that like its former rivals, it, too, might collapse. But since then, it has revamped operations and staff, renovated many stores, cut returns rates substantially and last but not least dropped the ampersand in its former name--and made its first profit in five years. In the year ended April 30, 2016, sales rose 4%, to £409.1 million (about $538.5 million), and
Waterstones had a pre-tax profit of £9.9 million ($13 million) compared to a pre-tax loss of £4.5 million ($5.9 million) a year earlier. Waterstones has about 275 stores in the U.K., Ireland and continental Europe.

And from BookBrunch:

Waterstones: must it be private equity?

Sale to the wrong buyer would threaten the strategy behind chain's revival

RNZ Launches Audio-Visual Children’s Content


What Are You Supposed to Be?
RNZ Launches Audio-Visual Children’s Content
In a first-ever three-way creative collaboration with a major publisher, and an international children’s author and illustrator, RNZ’s Treasure Chest enters the amazing world of animated books for children with an absolutely irresistible moving book.

What Are You Supposed to Be? - created by storyteller and animator Paul Beavis - is the first animated video to be available through RNZ’s online Treasure Chest for children.

RNZ Drama producer, Adam Macaulay, says he spotted What Are You Supposed to Be? among a collection of books from Scholastic publishers being considered for audio production by the RNZ Treasure Chest.

"The illustrations are absolutely brilliant," he said, "But they are so much a part of the story the book just won’t work without them. We were about to return What Are You Supposed to Be? to Scholastic but I decided to contact them just to explain -- and to tell them how much I really loved the book anyway."

That apologetic call started the ball rolling towards a three-way creative collaboration and the result is an animated version – a moving book - of What Are You Supposed to Be? using the original illustrations.

"It’s so important we don’t lose sight of the books themselves and that they are products of some astonishing creative minds," says Macaulay, "It’s about celebrating the writing and the telling of stories – and about illustration as part of how we tell stories. Whatever gets kids hooked into reading books and writing and telling – that’s what this project is about."

Writer and illustrator Paul Beavis was born in London and studied Graphic Design at Central St. Martins School of Art during the early nineties. After graduation he worked in children's animation, making shows for the BBC and Channel 4, before moving into some commercial animation work and dabbling in children’s story book illustration. He moved to Wellington in 2012 and now is established as a major writer and illustrator of books with Scholastic New Zealand.

What Are You Supposed to Be? is the first of a series of animated children’s stories being developed by RNZ for the Treasure Chest collection.

What Are You Supposed to Be? can be viewed here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/collections/storytime-treasure-chest/what-are-you-supposed-to-be-by-paul-beavis

For further information about the moving books project and the Treasure Chest - or to arrange an interview - please contact:

Adam Macaulay - RNZ Commissioning Editor
021 149 3522

REMINDER: Book Chat is on this Wednesday


WHEN?   Wednesday, 1 November at 6:30 p.m.

WHO?   Leading this book chat will be Desna Wallace

The format of Book Chat is conversational, where those attending can bring a selection from their personal favourites on the topic, to share with others.      

WHAT?   The topic is “Myths and Legends”

AUDIENCE?   Teachers, Librarians, Parents, Booksellers, Publishers . . . in fact anyone who is interested in Children's Literature.                          

WHERE?   At the Education Library (College of Education, University of
                   Canterbury), from the entrance on Dovedale Ave, off Waimairi Road.

                   Parking is easy as the place is empty plus it is free.


Latest News from The Bookseller

A story in yesterday's Sunday Times reporting that N M Rothschild corporate financiers have been asked by Waterstones owner Alexander Mamut to explore a £250m sale of the chain has been described as "sensible enough" by the chain's m.d. James Daunt.
Publishers and booksellers are preparing to give readers a welcome fright this Halloween with a range of spooky special promotions, activities and events, with one independent publisher crowdfunding for an entire new horror imprint.
Sarah Pinborough
HarperCollins has bought three more novels by Behind Her Eyes author Sarah Pinborough in a “substantial six-figure” deal.
Young Writer Award
Five authors are in the running for The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, after judges made the "rare exception" to increase the prize's usual shortlist from four to five in wake of the "incomparable strength" of this year’s list of submissions.
Gui Minhai
Gui Minahi, the Hong Kong bookseller and publisher detained in China since October 2015, has been released from prison in China, the Swedish embassy has been informed.
Mark Halperin
A book co-authored by disgraced political journalist Mark Halperin has been cancelled by Penguin Press in America, according to reports.

Lionel Shriver
The Borough Press is publishing the first standalone novella by Lionel Shriver this November: a "biting" examination of love and ownership entitled The Standing Chandelier.
Kirsti Beautyman
Kirsti Beautyman has been named as illustrator of the year by picture book mentoring scheme Picture Hooks.
SelfMadeHero is to mark the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth with a graphic novel adaptation of The Communist Manifesto created by Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson.
Fraser Cox
A nine-year-old boy with autism has been chosen as the winner of the Book People’s Bedtime Story Competition and will now work with Little Tiger to turn his “incredibly touching” entry into a book.

Off the Shelf

October 30, 2017
Amy Hendricks


10 Books to Celebrate Dia de los Muertos
Full of its own traditions and stories, I first learned of Día de los Muertos in school. A Mexican tradition celebrating one’s deceased family members, the Day of the Dead has been practiced as a holiday for more than 3,000 years. Special foods and altars are prepared to commemorate lost loved ones, and the day is often accompanied by colorful festivals and parades. Having seen this holiday depicted on TV and in movies, I set out to find examples of its celebration in literature, and although this collection of books may not include the holiday specifically, they are full of the rich history and customs of Mexico and its people.


Publishers Lunch

Today's Meal

Longtime Little, Brown executive editor Tracy Behar will become vp, publisher and editor-in-chief of a new imprint for the division, devoted to health, lifestyle, psychology, and science. The imprint will launch in fall 2018, and will include an additional editor and dedicated marketer. Little, Brown publisher Reagan Arthur says in the announcement, "With so many evolving opportunities in these categories, we're eager to increase Little, Brown's presence in this growing market, and to have Tracy Behar leading the way. It would be impossible to find an editor more highly regarded by her authors, their agents, and her colleagues than Tracy." Behar adds, "It's been a joy to build my list at Little, Brown, with the best colleagues in the business. I couldn't be more excited to take on this expanded role, to continue to grow my existing authors, and to work with new authors on books that will change the way we think, feel, and live."

Cassie Hanjian is joining DeFiore and Company as an agent, focusing primarily on books for the mind/body/spirit, health and wellness, self-help, and inspiration markets. She was most recently at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.

Eileen Lawrence will join Tor Books as executive director of marketing, starting October 30. She has been associate publisher for Algonquin Children's.

Scholastic has
terminated chief financial officer and chief administrative officer Maureen O'Connell, and promoted Kenneth Cleary to chief financial officer effective today. Paul Hukkanen moves up to fill Clearly's previous role as chief accounting officer, and Vincent Lucinese becomes vp, controller and shared services support.

Red Wheel/Weiser is acquiring
Career Press as of November 1, adding over 800 titles to their catalog, according to an announcement provided to PW. Laurie Kelly-Pye and Michael Pye will move over to Red Wheel, as sales director for national accounts and associate publisher of Career Press. Separately, Red Wheel has hired former Shambhala publisher Peter Turner as associate publisher and he will start a new imprint focused on "meditation, the practical application of the teachings of the Buddha, and the perennial philosophies of the world’s wisdom traditions."


The Barnes & Noble in Grosse Pointe, MI will close in mid-January 2018, when the lease on its space near St. John Hospital expires. Barnes & Noble vice president of real estate development Jim Lampassi says they are looking for another space in Grosse Point.

Educator Rebekah Shoaf opened a pop-up location of South Bronx bookstore-in-the-works Boogie Down Books on Saturday. The pop-up received funding from the Citizens Committee for New York City's Neighborhood Grant program, which provides micro-loans of up to $3,000 to resident-led community projects. Volunteers gave out 200 free books to kids aged 11-18. Currently, there is no major bookstore in the Bronx.

Cameron + Company will move North American sales and trade distribution for their Cameron Books and Cameron Kids imprints to Abrams from PGW, starting with the sprign 2018 lists. Their general nonfiction line Roundtree Press will continue to be distributed by PGW

Monday, October 30, 2017

Launch of Colin James’ Unquiet Time: Aotearoa /New Zealand in a fast-changing world

“…a fascinating book that deserves to be read and thought about” – Sir Geoffrey Palmer

It was a return to roots when Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC launched Colin James’ new book Unquiet Time in front of a large crowd at the National Library last Tuesday. The pair first met in 1979 when Sir Geoffrey was a new MP and James was a fledgling political journalist.

In his seventh book, James describes “a world in disorder” as it rebalances politically, economically and demographically, and explores how Aotearoa/New Zealand must navigate this challenging new landscape as it advances into the 2020s.

Sir Geoffrey told the audience that Colin James has for nearly five decades applied his thoughtful analysis of New Zealand politics and policy, remaining steadfast in the face of an increasingly celebrity and entertainment-focused media: “Unlike many journalists, James has the habits of a scholar….The sources…are astonishingly diverse and numerous, a sign of great industry.”

The book dissects key global trends, including how technology is changing the way we live and ‘work’; looming environmental limits, climate change, and biosecurity and pandemic threats. It then assesses what these mean for New Zealand, examining the emergence of New Zealand’s independent foreign policy and international trade policy, as well as policy relating to Maori, biculturalism, and the environment. James predicts likely major shocks and argues for new thinking in many key areas.

It’s a New Zealand “bobbing around like a cork on a rough global sea”, with a difficult future ahead, said Sir Geoffrey: “Perhaps the most important take-away message from the book is that we need to face the challenges that confront New Zealand rather than shy away from them.”

The turbulence described in the book finds an apt reflection in the current political scene. “The politicians have concocted an election like no other of the 16 I have covered,” reflected James. 

Journalist Colin James is a life member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery and the E Tu Union, and has specialised in politics and policy since 1969. His writing has featured in many books and papers, and Unquiet Time brings together conclusions and future projections arising from numerous briefings to business, not-for-profits and government agencies, and contributions to conferences at home and abroad. He is also a senior associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, has an honorary doctorate from Victoria University of Wellington, and is a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration.

Unquiet Time: Aotearoa /New Zealand in a fast-changing world
ISBN: 978-0-9941360-1-5
240mm x 163mm                                                                                                                                  
Four colour cover with flaps, 320 pages                                                                                                                                           
$39.50 (softcover)

Publisher: Fraser Books, Chamberlain Road, RD8, Masterton. For more information: ifgrant@xtra.co.nz or
Tel: 06 3771359 |Distributor: Nationwide Book Distributors, P O Box 65, Oxford, North Canterbury.