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Reviews for The Hutt Weekender – 19 August 2023

Apple Pie and Arsenic by C.A. Phipps (Maple Lane Mysteries Bk 1)

Great read, especially if you love small towns and mysteries. Maddie has a great group of friends back home, and her grandma but she’s been trying to prove herself worthy in the big city. She has a few friends in the city but mostly she’s been working really hard to save money to open her own bakery. Getting a call that gran is not feeling well and needs some help, of course she runs home to see how she can help. But gran has a plan to keep her there.
When the body of her friend is found, Maddie is accused of the death. As the timer ticks down in the race to find the murderer before Maddie is put in jail, or the body count climbs, she enlists the help of her friends—one of the furry variety.
The sheriff is her ex-flame, and is just as confused as she is when the mystery heats up with another batch of clues.
The main character is a little annoying, as she would find then withhold information, which ends results in some unusual choices. I know this is typical for American reads and tv shows, and the author writes mainly for her US audience as a USA Today bestselling author. But that aside, it’s still and easy and quick fun read.

CA Phipps also writes other mystery series’. ‘Cozy Café Mysteries’ and ‘Beagle Diner Cozy Mysteries’ as well as a paranormal mystery series ‘Midlife Potions’. She also writes romance as Cheryl Phipps.

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Reviews for the Hutt Weekender 27 May 2023

The Book of George by Linda Deane

For those of us who love animals and in particular cats, and grew up with animal stories on The Wonderful World of Disney.
George was an independent, travelling cat who had lived life on his own terms. He had not seen eye to eye with his previous humans and, when they acquired a dog, he simply up and left.
It took him eight months to find us, but when he did, he made himself indispensable as my personal protector and gardening assistant. He was a great source of comfort for the short time he was with us, but then he too was recalled by Planet Cat.
Gina was sent to take up his mantle. (See The Journal of Agent Gina Ginger Knickers by Linda Deane)
This book is a tribute to our beloved George, as well as many other cats who have brought inspiration and joy to the humans they loved during their time on Planet Earth.

Our Gun by Geoff Lawson

Forget great victories like Waterloo and Balaclava, this is about mistakes and crushing defeats on both sides – unlike anything you have ever read before. It reads like a Hollywood movie script, except it is all true!! An emotional rollercoaster of a story it will rival any other great war drama you have ever read. For example, you have Cecil Rhodes, a British politician whose aim was to annex all of the South African continent by any means available, and Number Four was there – Number Four saw it all, a major participant in the battles of the Western Front.
Number Four is the only known survivor of Paardeberg. Paardeberg was the African equivalent of Guadacanal or the Kokoda Trail, the battle that turned the tide of war in Britain’s favour.

The Abandoned Wives Handbook by Pat Backley

The partner you loved and cherished for so many years has decided you are no longer required. Past your sell by date. Of no use to them anymore, so tossed out like a piece of garbage. Abandoned with barely a backward glance.
In an attempt to keep this a gentle, light-hearted read, each chapter is divided into letters of the alphabet, rather like a dictionary of distress, something you can dip into at any time.
I am not an expert, merely someone who has survived one of life’s great traumas and has come through it as a stronger, more resilient person.

Lou and Eustace by Pat Backley (Ancestors Book 2)

Although these books are fictional, many of the people and events mentioned in them are real. Without our ancestors, all the people who went before us, there would be no such stories to tell. This tale begins in the late 1800’s and continues through to 1984

Book 1 is Valentine George

Valentine George was an ordinary man, born in extraordinary times. He experienced love, loss and joy -just as we all do- but his life was still worth recording.

In this novel we follow his story where it began; in the slums of London during Victorian times. Then, he takes us through World Wars One and Two and leads us along the path to the Swinging Sixties.

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ANZAC Day and War Fiction on The Hutt Weekender – 22 April

On Tuesday 25th April we remember those that served and what they gave for our tomorrow.
In our online shop we have a selection of creative non-fiction, fiction and non-fiction covering various conflicts from the past to the recent, around the world.
ANZAC books –
War fiction –

Featured author – Dave Hayward

Dave Hayward joined the army aged sixteen years and remained a soldier for thirty-three years, seeing active service in Borneo during Indonesia’s ‘Confrontation’ with Malaysia and in South Vietnam. When Dave retired as Sergeant Major of the Army, he took up writing and using his experiences and the wealth of history at his fingertips, he has produced eight novels.
His first-hand knowledge of the world of the twentieth century Infantry soldier is recognised as unique — he is regularly invited to address students at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University.

Other books features were:

Ironic Cross by Bruce Meder – one family caught up in 2 wars The Napoleonic Wars and World War 1.

The Battle of Messines Road by JK & WJ Moloney – a coming of age story, a World War 1 diary and a family saga.

The Booktown Festival in Featherston is on 12 – 14 May 2023 – all information and scheduling of events can be found on their website Featherston Booktown. Booksellers (new, second hand, antique and specialist) will be in the ANZAC Hall.

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Books for International Women’s Day on The Hutt Weekender – 11 March

For International Women’s Day – March 8, and we’ve put together a list of books from our authors that give a unique perspective on the strength of women.
Just a selection of what can be found on our online store –

Because I Could by Alison Bradley
‘My 2,800 mile run across America’

I’ve never been one to follow the path of the ‘norm’ and in 2013 I set myself a challenge, a challenge that everyone else deemed crazy, but, once I have decided on a goal I won’t feel complete until it has been accomplished. That is how on May 6th, 2013, I found myself on the steps of City Hall New York about to run two marathons a day for more than two months to see if I could make it to LA.

Review: I loved following the journey and Alison’s tenacity to keep on running, kept me engaged with funny, scary and emotional moments.
Alison’s adventure with all the description that made me feel like I went across the country as well.

Find on our website at

Which Way is Starboard Again? by Anna Kirtlan

When sailing novice Anna Kirtlan takes to the high seas, expect the unexpected. Not many people have the courage to sail the South Pacific with as little experience as Anna, who has to learn to sail, from scratch, and overcome the severe anxiety and panic attacks.

Anna relates the adventures she shares with her partner Paddy on board Wildflower and the characters they meet along the way.

Reviews: A truly enjoyable read from start to end. Anna has given a vivid and often humorous account of life at sea while laying bare her own personal struggles when placed on a small boat in the middle of a vast and endless ocean. What I took away from this book was that no matter the roadblocks life may put in front of you (or whatever fears you may have), if you persevere and truly commit yourself then nothing can be too great. Also don’t sweat about the small stuff people!
A captivating, hilarious and honest account of life at sea! This book has been a fantastic companion; an absolute joy to read!

Find this book on the website at

Which Way is Starboard Again? by Anna Kirtlan

Super Mum: the complete series by Stacey Broadbent
Super Mum, the complete series of 3 novellas which includes:
Frazzled and Frumpy
Frazzled, Frumpy and Fabulous!

It’s a crazy journey and one of life’s joys, even though, at times, it’s not quite what you imagined it would be.

Reviews: This complete series is full of laugh out loud moments about motherhood and marriage. Some scenes I swear I was reading about my own life. I love how she didn’t pull and punches and wrote it like it is, not sugar coated!!!
From unintentional co-sleeping, bed wetting, and pregnancy to raising multiple children and wondering if you’re enough.

Find this book on our website at

The Warrior Women Project by Uchenna L Umeh and Pat Backley
A Sisterhood of Immigrant Women.

The life of an immigrant; what is it like? Ever wanted to know what goes on in a woman’s mind? What if we combined both? What would happen? This book gives an exclusive insight into the exciting journeys of 22 amazing women from 13 countries of the world.
The book provides a safe space where successful immigrant women can tell their stories, in their own words. Their emigration stories are inspirational and empowering narratives of strength.

Review: A poignant coffee table anthology that will make you laugh or cry but keep you turning the page! The only thing I wish was for the stories to keep going on and on! It is a must-read for anyone looking for a snapshot of the immigrant experience through the lens of women who have gone through and risen above thick or thin! Each story is unique but the thread of hardship, perseverance, and survivorship is woven throughout the book.

Hardcover with coloured photographs. This book is on the website at

The Warrior Women Project book cover

Water – Wai by Marie Munro

The first in our new bilingual picture book series, Nana’s Simple Science – Te Pūtaiao Ngāwari o Kui. NEW this week.

Children love water. They drink it, wash in it, swim in it and play in it. But do they know the water cycle story – where water comes from, where it goes, and all the things it does along the way?

Marie Munro also writes the Nana’s shed series –

This book and links to the Nana stories are in the website at –

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Summer book reviews on The Hutt Weekender – 11 Feb

Ghost bus by Anna Kirtlan book cover

Ghost bus – tales from Wellington’s dark side by Anna Kirtlan

Paranormal humour that will make you smile while you nervously look over your shoulder. Spirits, sea monsters and a rest home for troublesome witches all feature in this short story collection/creepy love letter to Wellington New Zealand.

Review: Loved this book of dark, witchy and spooky tales written with warmth and humour around the C.B.D. and suburbs of Wellington, NZ.
If you know Wellington, you will recognise the places and the sentiment – the wind, the sorry state of buses, the art, the buildings, and the iconic waterfront. Each with its own unique paranormal story.
An easy and enjoyable read of short stories.

A Box of Words collected works from The Writers Plot Writing Group

Six authors. Thirty short stories and poems.

The stories cover speculative fiction, contemporary family fiction, observational essays on everyday life, memoirs and creative non-fiction. From historical to modern, lives that take a turn, unexpected discoveries and changes that challenge the status quo.
Stories of young investigators, families, loss and heartbreak, an unusual use of modern technology.
Of memories where fear is overcome and taking that first step can change a life.
We see that life goes on, but not always in the way you’d expect…

Review: A great read of a wide variety of stories and styles. Fun and thought provocking.

A Box of Words collected works book cover
Lost in Summer Storms by Mary-Catherine Downes book cover

Lost in Summer Storms by Mary-Catherine Downes

A novella about growing up and becoming an adult, set during the summer holidays at a small sea-side community – ‘The Bay’.

Jeremy and Elena with their friends, Margaret and Roland, as they transition from childhood to the teenage years and adulthood.
Life isn’t always happy and paths can take twists and turns but the friends get though it with faith and love. Then tragedy strikes.
Running away, Elena can’t trust anyone and is consumed by guilt and betrayal. That is until her friends find her. Returning to the bay, Elena finds courage to face the past … and then the truth comes out.

Review: An entertaining quick read. Reminiscent of simpler times, of childhood and summer holidays.
The characters feel like people I’ve known for years, as we are with them in their family life, through painful trials, teenage angst, fun times, love and loss. Recommended.

Point of No Return by Brian Hool

There is a time and place when your past catches up with you and confronts you. A decision needs to be made, do you carry on doing what you’ve always done or do you you put changes in place for the future?

The story of Chandra, who takes on this challenge to change her thoughts as well as her actions, it sounds easy, but there are pitfalls along the way.

Review: An enjoyable read that keeps you guessing. Chandra works with horses and the spiritual conection between horses and humans is part of the story.

Broken by Stacey Broadbent

Unwanted and Alone…
The dull ache inside my heart grows stronger every day with each new taunt.
A novella written in the first person, a young woman crying out for help.

*Trigger Warnings for emotional abuse, self harm, violence, anxiety, and grief.

Review: A beautifully written story – beware you’ll need tissues

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October book reviews on The Hutt Weekender

Caro has a half hour book review slot, on Hutt City FM 106.7 radio station – The Hutt Weekender show with Craig & Lisa, Saturdays 8 am-12 noon.
Readers have provided the reviews, or (usually in the case of a new book in the shop), we take the reviews from a blog or other online source.

Listen via their online streaming at:-

Reviews from Saturday 8 October 2022

A Magical Realism story involving floating stars, family, friendship and the extraordinary ordinary. The Wellington Alternate by Oliver Dace.

Merinette Nadean should have been happy. Ever since an egg had devoured her, eighteen-year-old Merinette wants to escape her destiny.
She longs to be an academic instead of continuing in her family’s century-old position in maintaining the various surreal entities called Fiction. She would become only a glorified maintenance worker.
That life is a chore.
So Merinette, as stubborn as she is, refuses, eager to prove that she is more than the talents she was born with. She wants to turn her love for books into an alternative way to help her family rather than confronting the Fiction head-on. And, when an opportunity arises in a dingy car park, Merinette will do anything to achieve her goal.

“I enjoyed the book a lot; it is well written, has terrific, fully worked out characters, and lots of conflicts. It is inventive and entertaining; with fantastic contradictions between the characters.”
The imagery Oliver Dace paints with words describe worlds that are both familiar and fantastical and woven together seamlessly. Stepping into one of Oliver’s stories is akin to entering a new dimension and so it is very befitting that his first novel is titled “The Wellington Alternate.”


The Wellington Alternative by Oliver Dace book cover image.
Savage Point by Denise Fitzpatrick book cover image.

Savage Point by Denise Fitzpatrick (D.I. Anderson series 1)

A killer is watching…A bride’s wedding ends in tragedy when her matron of honour is brutally murdered.
Detective Inspector Ian Anderson leads the investigation. He will need all his skills to find the killer whose identity and trademarks are as mysterious as the motive behind the crime.
He suspects two business owners in the city of having secrets they don’t want unearthed. But are they capable of murder?
With chilling precision, the ruthless killer continues his murderous rampage as D.I. Anderson desperately looks for clues to solve the case before another person he cares about is targeted.
This explosive new thriller by the author of the September series is set in the beautiful Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

Savage Point, setup with a dramatic opening scene, pulled me in straight away. The central character Detective Anderson was portrayed as a typical cop, always tugged by the case to keep digging for the truth, even with a new wife by his side. Right when you think you have figured out who’s dunnit, another clue arrives, and another body turns up. I loved the way this author took you through the details of the investigation, I really felt like I was seeing the case as the main character and it made me want to find out what happened.
Wow-move over Lee Child….!!! I was hooked from the first page and it was a challenge to stop reading far into the night. The characters are real and the mix of mundane and hair raising, propels you forward at breakneck speed. I appreciated the fact that there were virtually no flashbacks or annoying chapters on different subjects designed to test memories, before they linked up to the main plot.
I can’t wait to read the next book ‘Primed for Evil’-having already absorbed the teaser at the conclusion of ‘Savage Point’.
NOTE: Primed for Evil by Denise Fitzpatrick is also in the shop

A memoir about family life in fifties Blackball Green Grey Rain by Stevan Eldred-Grigg.

Stevan Eldred-Grigg is an award-winning fiction writer, autobiographer and social historian, primarily of class and his local region, Canterbury.

The story of the first years of a little boy dreaming and singing, wondering and wishing, in the bush, rain, rust and sooty streets of 1950s Blackball. A story told by the boy. A story told too by the hit songs he hears on the radio. And a story told by Valerie – who, with her sister, has already spoken to us in the pages of ‘Oracles and Miracles’. A story of working and playing, dreaming and singing, crying and laughing, hoping and wishing, bush, rain, rust, and the sooty streets of Blackball.

Blackball is a small town on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Blackball was a centre of New Zealand radicalism and workers’ militancy. It is credited as the birthplace of (the predecessors of) the New Zealand Labour Party, which followed the 1908 miners ‘cribtime’ strike, at ten weeks the longest in New Zealand history. In the 1913 Great Strike, Blackball miners were the last to return to work, in 1914. During the strike they had picketed miners in nearby Brunner and had burnt down the secretary of the ‘arbitration’ (scab) union’s home. In 1925 the headquarters of the Communist Party of New Zealand moved to Blackball from Wellington. The pit closed in 1964.

Green Grey Rain by Stevan Eldred-Grigg book cover image.

The October book of the month for the Writers Plot Bookclub is Redemption Kills by L.W. Wedgwood
(Use code BCCOCT22 for 15% discount and free shipping in NZ).
Reviewed as a suspenseful and fast-paced read in the tradition of James Patterson’s Alex Cross’s novels.

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Book Reviews on The Hutt Weekender

Caro has a half hour book review slot on Hutt City FM 106.7 radio station – The Hutt Weekender show with Craig & Lisa, Saturdays 8 am-12 noon.
Readers have provided the reviews, or (usually in the case of a new book in the shop), the reviews have been taken from a blog or other online source.

Listen via their online streaming at:-

Reviews from Saturday 3 September 2022

Making Meredith by Andy Southall – book cover

Making Meredith by Andy Southall – a compelling read

Southall has a lyrical descriptive style that sets up the rather gothic atmosphere of Meredith – parts reminiscent of the classic Victorian novels where a well-meaning stranger arrives in a spooky place full of secrets. There’s also a decidedly deadpan English wit. We see Robert’s point of view, so share Rob’s confusion as he is told that his grandfather was not the kindly competent GP that he imagined, but who should he trust when most of the locals just want him to leave?

Review: This is a sad story on multiple levels – Rob loves his wife, but longs to have children. Robert doesn’t love his wife, but adores his daughters. His patients find him cold and distant, and cannot forgive his perceived medical failures when only penicillin – not available for another decade – would’ve made a difference, and a longstanding family feud leads to a devastating deception.
It does however end positively – it’s not at all depressing and I liked the final reveal. Finally – that cover – stunning!
(Review from Amazon)

Reactive by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (Reactive Magic Book 1)
A prophecy… A new student… A pot plant growing out of control… One of these things could save Toby. The trouble is, which one?
If you like darkly magical tales, life or death drama, and a little bit of danger, you’ll love Helen’s new fast-paced novella.
Review: Likable protagonist, interesting characters. An intriguing, eerie take on a school for magic, no kid would ever want to attend! A fun, dark read. There is an interesting twist at the end that I never saw coming! :)
(Review from Amazon)

Magnetic by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (Reactive Magic Book 2)
Four magical threads drawing her in… One forcing her away. Which will prove more dangerous?
Magnetic is the second book in the Reactive Magic series. If you like darkly magical tales, life or death drama, and a little bit of danger, you’ll love this fast-paced series.
(So new there are no reviews posted yet)

Spirits in the Bathroom by John Roche – the September book of the month for the Writers Plot Bookclub.

After 6 years of procrastination, John embarks on a new project: to trace his past reincarnations and those of his partner Sarah. What follows is a hilarious trip through 1,200 years of past lives. John enlists the support of a group of bathroom-dwelling Higher Beings, who provide direction, wisdom and humour as he careers through the centuries in his quest to find where and when his relationship with Sarah began.

Review: Irish humour at its best! The characters are brilliant, and it’s a laugh out loud, sometimes profound, and hilarious journey as the author navigates through his past lives.