On RNZ’s Nine to Noon, Kiran reviewed one of her favourite novels of 2018 In the City of Love’s Sleep by Lavinia Greenlaw. An elegant and eloquent story of love, recovery, repair and beautiful objects.
This week on RNZ’s Nine to Noon, Kiran reviewed Human Relations and Other Difficulties by Mary-Kay Wilmers. Wilmers co-founded the London Review of Books in 1979 and has been its editor since 1992. This collection brings together 23 polished, informative and entertaining self-contained pieces which are fine examples of her wonderfully dry and brittle wit.
On 95bFM’s Loose Reads, Kiran and Mikey talked about Mars By 1980: The Story of Electronic Music by David Stubbs. A thrilling deep dive into technology and invention, it propels us into sonic space and charts how developments in technology have shaped music over the years. One of the best music books of 2018!
Kiran reviewed The Only Girl: My Life and Times on the Masthead of Rolling Stone by Robin Green on 95bFM’s Loose Reads. A juicy, candid memoir from journalist Robin Green who wrote excellent and often damning long-form profiles for iconic magazine Rolling Stone in its 1970s heyday, this is essential reading for lovers of pop and counter culture, West Coast bohemia, political reportage and pacey biographies.
Jenna’s favourite novel of 2018!
It’s the year 2000 in New York, and our unnamed narrator decides to take a year off from life. By carefully mixing a cocktail of prescription medication, she will sleep through the year, emerging a new person, ready to slot back into society.
A laugh out loud, black as black comedy, that is layered, smart and sharp.
Kiran nipped into the bFM studio to talk to the wonderful Rach and Tess about Messing Up the Paintwork: The Wit and Wisdom of Mark E. Smith, a book that celebrates the very quotable late Mark E. Smith from iconic group The Fall. A crabby, belligerant codger, Smith was known and loved for his sharp wit, caustic insults and wonderful way with words. You’ll want to read bits of the book out to anyone who’ll listen!
A spunky and glamorous figure of the 1960s and 70s LA counter culture, Eve Babitz was an alluring ‘It Girl’ who wrote startlingly sharp essays, memoir and fiction. Kiran reviewed the reissued edition of Babitz’s 1979 novel Sex & Rage: Advice for Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time on RNZ’s Nine to Noon.
Te wiki o te reo Māori! Jenna visited the 95bBM studio to kōrero about Maori Made Easy & Maori Made Easy 2 - Scotty Morrison's reo learning series. If you're thinking about making the step to learning, these books are the place to start!
We also gave away a copy of the brand new Gecko Press book, Paraweta. You'll have to listen to find out what that means.
Haere mai koutou ki te Time Out toa pukapuka kia tipu ōu reo. Come to Time Out Bookstore to grow your reo. We've got a great selection in stock.
Suri gets serious on today's Loose Reads review. Dopesick is a deeply human investigation into the American opioid epidemic and the greed of corporations with blood on their hands.
A top pick from the current affairs section! Listen below:
Today's 95bFM review is about Dame Fiona Kidman's This Mortal Boy. This is a novel based on the true story of Albert 'Paddy' Black, the second last man to be hanged in New Zealand.
Masterfully crafted, this is a heartbreaking tale. Jenna found it very engaging, very sad and it captures a strong sense of the time. The facts are there, but they are incredibly human.
Listen to the review below! And if you're in Hamilton this week, Kiran will interviewing Dame Fiona Kidman, Catherine Robertson and Julie Thomas for the ‘Fiction Three Ways’ panel discussion this Friday at Hamilton Book Month. It’s at the The Meteor, 6.30pm. It’s FREE and you even get a glass o’ wine. People of Hamilton, roll up!
Never Anyone But You is a straight-up, no nonsense, excellent read. Through the eyes of two inspiring women, we see the glitz of the roaring 20's in Paris to the horrors of the German occupation on Jersey, we are reminded of the value of true love and companionship, whatever form that may take.
This is one of Wendy's favourite books of the year! Listen to Jenna's review below:
In preparation for Father's Day, Jenna reviewed the ultimate DAD ROCK biography of Paul Simon. This is the only authorised biography of this notoriously difficult musician's life.
Jenna, Sarah & Mikey discuss poor Art Garfunkel, the muppets and Graceland.
Jenna also mentions this excellent documentary about Graceland, Under African Skies. You can watch it here.
I wrote a review recently which listed my top picks for adult fantasy books (you can read it here). Now it’s time to list my top picks for young adult fantasy! I’m going to attempt to write three young adult pick posts, because I can’t separate out my favourite authors from each other unless I do so by separating out their subgenres. My goal is to write one for fantasy (well done me, I’m already a third of the way there), dystopian and contemporary. Now there are plenty of other sub genres, but let’s just say those are my favourite three.
Today we start with fantasy. What I love about YA fantasy at the moment is that it is doing things that other people, other genres, can’t or don’t dare to do. There are so many layers of subtext and cultural critique in YA fantasy right now, and it works because it doesn't offend anyone, because the cultures and the powers -that-be are fictional. So, here are my top five:
Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas
This is a bit of a sprawling epic (weighing in at 8 volumes, including a collection of prequel novellas, with the last book to be released later this year). These were the books that made me fall in love with ready fantasy again. These were the books that inspired me to write my own. The series begins with Celaena - an assassin who has been captured and in serving time in a prison camp. She is enlisted by the prince to compete to become his father’s champion. If she wins the competition she is to serve the king for four years and will then be granted her freedom. The problem is, she hates the king with every fibre of her being.
It’s difficult to do this series justice in a short summary, and to do so without giving major spoilers away is impossible. Let’s just say this series includes badass assassins, magic, Fae, love, heartbreak, grief, friendship, demons and a WHOLE lot of sass.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
Karou is a blue-hair art student, living in Prague. By day, she goes to school, sketches and hangs out with her best friend Zuanna. By night, she collects teeth for monsters in exchange for wishes. But when devastation comes to those she loves, she is forced to face her past and take up the mantle of her future. This trilogy is about love and discrimination, about forgiveness and revenge. It’s Romeo and Juliet, but with monsters and angels. Laini Taylor is one of my all time favourite linguistic writers, her words and sentences and paragraphs are beautiful perfection - evoking emotions, imagery and drawing you into this exceptional world she has created. She is also releasing the final installment in her duology (Strange the Dreamer) later this year.
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo
This duology is Ocean’s 11 meets Avatar the Last Airbender. Kaz Brekker is tasked with breaking a man out of a prison no one has ever escaped from. This man is the creator of a drug that could mean the undoing of the world Kaz knows. He puts together a team of 6 individuals, all who bring their own unique talents to the mission. “A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.”
Leigh Bardugo is the queen of plot twists, and this book will keep you twisting and guessing and gasping just like a good heist novel should. There is another trilogy that technically comes before this series, set in the same world just a few decades earlier. It is not necessary to read that series first (I didn’t) but if you love this one you might just want to read Shadow and Bone too.
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir
What I loved most about this series when I first heard about it, is that it is a fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome rather than medieval britain. It is a quartet and the third book (A Reaper at the Gates) has just been released in July. The story follows two protagonists; Laia and Elias. Laia is a Scholar who has grown up in the slums, witnessing the oppression of her people. Elias is a Martial, training at one of the empire's finest military schools despite detesting the very tyranny he’s being taught to enforce. When a mission for the Scholar Resistance sends Laia uncover into the school, she uncovers that there is more going on than the endless war against the Scholar and the Martials, and her life and Elais’ are changed forever.
Ink and Bone - Rachel Caine
This world revolves around the questions: What if the Great Library of Alexandria had never burnt down? With a little bit of magic thrown in for good measure. In this world, the Library is the ultimate power; higher than law, higher than religion. The Library controls the flow of knowledge to the masses —but it is illegal to own a book. Jess has grown up in a family of book smugglers, but he believes in the values of the Library. When he is sent to train as a scholar of the Library by his father, to work as a double agent and steal books for the family to sell, Jess is confronted with a choice: The Library or his family. What he doesn’t yet know is that the library has been repressing the invention of a device that would make books easy to create and distribute to the masses, the revelation of which sets Jess and his friends on a dangerous path.
The world building in this series is fantastic, it has the perfect mix of real world, what could of been, and fantasy elements. The plot moves slowly, but keeps you hooked in and wanting to know more. This series is also a quartet, and the last in the series was just released last month.
Kiran talked about All Gates Open: The Story of Can by Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt, a definitive biography of the legendary, important and influential German group Can who were an exciting mix of jazz, improvised music, electronic music, avant garde and classical music. Kiran spent five months reading this hefty book, and highly recommends it!
Today, Jenna reviewed The Pisces...a merman erotica by Melissa Broder, author of @sosadtoday.
This book tells the tale (or tail) of Lucy, an anxious student who moves to Venice Beach for the summer to dog sit for her sister.
She soon meets Theo the merman, with a tail that starts below his bum.
A rather bonkers read, which is funny and well written, as well as a poignant observation of despression. Listen below for more!
Today, Jenna reviewed the excellent There, There by Tommy Orange on RNZ's Nine to Noon.
Louise Erdrich describes Tommy Orange as a new writer with an old heart - which is very true. He weaves in tradition with pop culture, humour with sadness and gives readers an insight into the complexities of living as an urban Native American in this time.
On 95bFM's Loose Reads, Kiran reviewed Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having An Opinion by Michelle Dean. It's a fascinating group biography of ten brilliant women writers from Joan Didion to Susan Sontag, who were some of the sharpest thinkers and writers across literature, criticism, philosophy and journalism.