Category: Books

Audiobook review: ‘Tim and Tigon’ by Tim Cope

One of our wonderful Awapuni Library volunteers submitted this review.

Tim Cope, a young Australian adventurer, had a childhood dream: to replicate the journey of Genghis Khan from Mongolia to Hungary, a distance of 10,000 kilometres. With extremely limited experience in horse riding and planning the best he could he began his ride, a journey that would take him 3 years to complete. Not long into his trip he met a dog called Tigon and despite efforts to return him to his home Tigon made it clear he was coming along. Together they endured searing heat, freezing cold and long, lonely nights when wolves circled their camp. Through it all, the wild beauty of the landscape and the warm hospitality of the people they encountered, encouraged them to persevere. Few of us will go on such a wild adventure so it was a pleasure to ride with Tim and Tigon on their long journey.  This is the story of an old style adventure and of a very special friendship. It is well worth reading. 

Tim and Tigon’ is available as a book on CD, and as an e-audiobook on Borrowbox.

‘Reading Unleashed’

with Canine Friends Pet Therapy and Palmerston North City Library

Reading to dogs can offer children a non-judgmental, calm, and supportive environment in which to practice both their reading and reading aloud skills. Studies have shown an association between reading to dogs and improvement in reading, motivation, emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, confidence, self-perception, and/or concentration. It is also suggested that the presence of dogs can help reduce a child’s stress levels and, thereby, possibly helping the young reader to develop a more positive approach to learning.

Excited by such potential, Palmerston North City Library and Canine Friends Pet Therapy are very happy to introduce ‘Reading Unleashed’ – a free programme where children can practice their reading in a fun way by reading to one of Canine Friends’ beautiful dogs.

Sessions are available for primary school aged children, and currently run at all Library locations during term time. Individual sessions run for 15 minutes and bookings are essential: email See all the times and days available on the What’s On page.

Look forward to meeting you at ‘Reading Unleashed’.

Kay: Content Development Librarian

So you’d like to start a Book Group… 

Ka pai! We love to help book groups thrive. Here are some top tips:  

Set the tone  

Would you like a single genre such as fantasy or biographies, something niche like alien romance, or would you prefer to mix it up with a variety of options? Is your group going to delve deep and get analytical or are you going to keep the tone casual? Either way, it’s important to treat members’ viewpoints with kindness and respect.  

Make a schedule 

Discuss how often you’ll meet and set an initial time that works for everyone. Will it be for an hour after work or a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon? Will you meet in-person, online, or a combination of both? Do you need to book a location? After your first meeting, you’ll have a better idea of how much time your group will need.  

Plan your meetings 

Even for the most casual gathering, it can be helpful to have a little bit of structure for example, socialising for the first 10-15mins then using some book discussion questions to settle in.  

Some great examples can be found here: 

Decide what to read  

This is likely to depend on the members in your group, but some theme ideas include: 

  • Changing the genre each month.  
  • Reading your way around the world with books set in different countries.  
  • Book-to-movie adaptions. 
  • Choosing books set in a certain decade or setting such as beach, city, space etc. 
  • Having a colour theme such as red covers.  
  • Choosing award-winning authors or short-lists such as the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.  
  • Having each member share what they’ve been reading lately.  
  • Following a celebrity book group and unashamedly stealing their choices!  
  • Join in the Big Library Read which happens each May – unlimited digital copies!  
  • Talk to your local librarian, sign up to our monthly newsletter or browse what’s new on our website. 

Accessible Books 

We have a range of formats to suit a variety of reading styles and needs including standard or large print, CD or MP3 and books in a variety of languages including Te Reo Māori. Use your membership number and PIN to access eBooks and Audiobooks on the Libby and Borrow Box apps. 

And if you’d rather have all the fun and no responsibility, check out the growing range of book groups available through the City Library.

Happy reading! 

Mobile Library timetable update

A few tweaks have been made to the Mobile Library timetable. Most of the stops are unchanged, but if you’re a regular user of the service, please check the timetable on our website just in case.

If you’ve never used the Mobile Library before, maybe now is the time to get onboard? If the Mobile stops near your house, you might find it very useful because you can reserve books from any of the other library locations and have them driven to you! The Mobile also has its own stock, which is refreshed regularly, so you can make your selections when it comes around, if you don’t have any reserved items to pick up.

If you don’t have a library card, you can get one on the bus!

You’ll also see the Mobile Library at events such as Explore Esplanade Day.

The Palmerston North Mobile Library service is 50 years old this year. Looking forward to making it a full century, getting out and serving the community!

‘Writing For Children’ panel discussion

Some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s best writers will feature again in this year’s Off the Page series.

We launch on Wednesday 26 April, 6:30pm with a panel discussion on Writing for Children featuring a panel of multi-award winning authors.

Kate de Goldi
 says, “there is nothing quite as rousing and nourishing for a writer as close proximity to the imaginative life and perspective of young people”. Read about Kate’s life in books and thoughts on reading or listen to her talk about her passion for hooking children into good quality literature and her work co-editing Annual, a collection of stories, comics, poems, crosswords, games and songs – created by some of the best New Zealand writers and illustrators – now up to its third edition.

Brigid Feehan thinks that young people and older people sometimes see things clear and true – things that people in the middle might be too distracted to see. Her latest novel, The Life and Times of Eddie McGrath, portrays the forming of a strong bond between an old woman and a young girl, who only meet by chance, over their shared affinity for animals. Read about her approach to writing for young adults.

One piece of advice Philippa Werry offers to young writers is, “Be curious. People tell each other stories every day. Learn to listen to them”. Philippa wanted to be a writer from very young and wrote stories, poems and book reviews for the Children’s Page in the Saturday Evening Post newspaper, “and I still have the book that I pasted them into!” Check out this Stuff article about her influences and how she writes.

Anna McKenzie was born here in Palmerston North before moving to Hawkes Bay. Extremely versatile in her approach, her most recent novel tells the story of a young woman coming of age in the years of WWI. Listen to Anna talking at NZ Festival Writers Week about the origins of Evie’s War, the stories that stand behind it and the research that supports it.

The Off The Page series includes talks, readings, discussions and workshops from and for writers and connects the Manawatū to the beating heart of contemporary literature. The series is a partnership between Massey University School of Humanities, Media and Creative Communication, Bruce McKenzie Booksellers and the Palmerston North City Library.

Versions Tuawhā submissions are open!

The Versions writing project is on again this year!

This is a great opportunity to see your name in print. If you want to have a go at writing a short story, a poem, or a play, use our prompt as a jumping-off point. Your story doesn’t have to be directly related to the prompt, it’s only there if you need something to get started.

Deadline for submissions is August 31, and we’ll publish a physical book as well as an ebook in October.

Prompt – The day Mark Twain came to town.

There will be some workshops to help you along the way – keep an eye on our What’s On page.

Submissions and questions can be sent to

Let your creative muse fly!

Crime and Thrillers are interfiled

In the Central Library’s Adult Fiction area, the Crime and Thriller books (Paki Taihara and Paki Pohopā) have now been interfiled. The books will retain their Living Room (genre) labels, to give you an indication of what’s inside, and to help with making a quick selection. Paperbacks on the spinner stands and books in the Returned Today section remain separated, as these are not in alphabetical order, so separation makes them quicker to search through.

The same thing happened with Romance and Sagas (Paki Whaiāipo and Paki Hautoa Toro Whārahi) some time ago, and has proven to be worthwhile.

This move was triggered by a few factors.

For one thing, the genres do have some overlap already, in many cases. Looking for a thrilling crime read? We’ve got you covered!

We feel that there’s a good chance the readership overlaps a bit too, so we hope that this move helps you discover some new favourite authors. One of the staff involved in the move said she usually reads Crime, but when moving the books, she discovered some Thriller authors she wanted to read.

Finally, sometimes the Library will buy a Thriller book that is being marketed by the publisher as a Mystery/Crime book, or vice versa. By interfiling them, we aim to increase your chances of finding a book that you love.

The Living Room concept of shelving books by genre was enacted in the Palmerston North City Library when the current Central Library building was opened in 1996. Over the years, the concept has been tweaked sometimes, to respond to customers’ needs. We hope that this latest tweak helps you increase your TBR (To Be Read) pile!

Garfield is bigger than ever

Did you know that Garfield books are some of the most popular titles in the Young Adult area? At time of writing, they claim 6 spots on the top ten most-issued books in YA, across all genres.

As the personal servant of a ginger cat myself, I get the appeal. But it goes further than that.

For a detailed analysis, here is one person’s opinion from The Spinoff.

Is it just a comfort thing? Is Garfield still as funny as I remember? I suppose the only way to know for sure is to take a copy home – I hope there are some left on the shelf! (Here’s a link where you can check our catalogue.)

Library podcast – Shelf Awareness

The Library now has its own podcast! Thanks to Manawatū People’s Radio, Shelf Awareness airs live at 10am on Wednesdays, but you can listen to it at any time on the MPR website.

You can expect to hear about all the great stuff the library offers, from books to author talks to outreach programmes. Plus there’ll be reading recommendations, and interviews where library staff talk about what they do in their jobs, and how they can help you.

Is there something you’d like us to talk about? Let us know:

Staff recommendations 2022

Here are our favourite books that we read during 2022. (Some of these were published in earlier years.)

We love a good list. They’re good for inspiration, cogitation, and maybe even argumentation!

What was your favourite book of 2022? Drop us a line and we might put it in our next newsletter!


Legends & Lattes – Travis Baldree

‘Cosy fantasy’ in which an orc warrior gives up that lifestyle to open a café. Along the way she makes new friends. There’s some mild conflict, but the author deliberately wrote it to be ‘high fantasy, low stakes’ so it’s a comforting read in these troubled times.

Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built for Men by Katrine Marcal

Pretty shocking how many inventions were abandoned or delayed because they were deemed too feminine. “When genders are defined by their opposites, no one gains access to the full spectrum of what it means to be human”

The Forgotten Coast by Richard Shaw.

Written following the realisation that his great-grandfather was in the Armed Constabulary when they invaded Parihaka.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk.

A librarian gets promoted to the post her recently deceased mentor has just left vacant, and she finds out that rare books are going missing. So many cool library details!

The Birth of Loud by Ian S. Port.

The people who brought the solid-body electric guitar into existence, including both the inventors and the players who helped shape their work.

Of Dice and Men: The story of Dungeons & Dragons and the people who play it by David M. Ewalt.

A much more convoluted tale than I’d expected.

Cuteness award: Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega.

Great cover, cool story about three tweens who have to learn to work together to become fully-fledged witches.

The Stranger Times by C. K. McDonnell.

Yes, this is the author with the cool prologue about z’s and s’s that’s doing the rounds on social media (it’s not from this book though).

Somewhat similar to Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series but instead of police, it’s people working at a quirky newspaper, which covers all the weird stuff, some of which turns out to be true.

The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach.

NZ authors seem to excel at the weird type of fantasy. Some great lines (“he didn’t so much walk into a room as launch an invasion of it”) and a hugely inventive mycelial world.

The Day the World Stops Shopping by J. B. MacKinnon.

Really good investigation of reducing consumption globally, and what that would actually mean. From this book I learned that the person who invented the concept of the GDP subtracted military spending from it. The money could otherwise be used to improve citizens’ standard of living.

Too Much Money by Max Rashbrooke.

Eye-opening. I learned a lot about NZ’s economy, and the fact that there exist ways to remedy inequity in NZ right now, but we aren’t using them.

Learning to Love Blue by Saradha Koirala.

(Won the YA section of NZ C & YA Book Awards this year). Young woman moves to Melbourne to break into the music scene. A very accurate portrayal of how that all works! 

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel.

Rumination on the meaning of humanity. “A life lived in a simulation is still a life”, one of the characters posits. I called it ‘gorgeous and poignant’ in my little book of books I’ve read.

Poor People with Money by Dominic Hoey.

Hard-living young woman decides to fleece some gangsters of their drug money, with no real plan for after. Tough to read such a slow-motion car-crash of a plot, but such great writing! Cool lines like “His face looked like a drawing someone had started and then given up on”

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers.

I’m a big fan of Becky Chambers. This is another lovely, gentle novella about how we live our lives. It takes a robot to make you fully understand humanity.

The Guitar by Chris Gibson.

Two Australian geography professors track down where each piece of wood on a guitar comes from. Fascinating! Environmental and cultural impacts of sawmilling are scrutinised.

Nora’s Top 5

Here is my list of the most interesting, enjoyable, surprising and exciting books I have read and listened to in 2022:

The language of food by Annabel Abbs

Dead man’s axe by Bing Turkby

Daughter of the moon goddess by Sue L. Tan

Bloomsbury girls by N. Jenner

The girl who wrote in silk (eaudiobook) by Kelli Estes


The Other Side of Beautiful, Kim Lock

A funny, absorbing and far-fetched read with just a little bit of romance. Mercy’s husband leaves her, an accident at work leaves her crippled by anxiety, and then her house burns down. With not much more than her ex-husband’s partner’s spare clothes on her back, she impulse buys an old campervan and sets off across Australia with no plan. Mercy’s eventual triumph is a comforting reminder that growth is always possible.

The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow

As the introverted, ugly duckling sister in Pride and Prejudice’s central family, this thoughtful story colours in Mary as an intelligent, sensitive and lost soul who blossoms into her own kind of heroine. Starting with and following the events in Pride and Prejudice, The Other Bennet Sister continues past Lizzie and Jane’s triumphant marriages and into the future. The writing is modern but respectful of Jane Austen’s style, and a heart-warming story of self-realisation.

The dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams

Set during the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, the great compilation of the English language, Esme grows up in a world of words. One day, a slip flutters under the table, that she secretly keeps. Esme begins to collect the scraps that are discarded, which evolves into a personal mission: collecting women’s words and experiences that others may not deem important or genteel enough to be recorded and preserved. This fictional tale is based around real characters and a real incident: the loss and exclusion of the slip for the word ‘bondmaid’ in the first edition of the OED.

Tales of the Royal Wardrobe and Bedchamber

Presented by my heroine Lucy Worsley, dive into the historic bedrooms and wardrobes of royalty to examine their lives and the impacts that they had on fashion, culture and modern culture.

Bugs, Whiti Hereaka

Sarcastic, smart and stuck: Bugs is the quintessential kiwi teenager. It gave me whiplash in the first 45 pages, and was so relatable I could have been mates with Bugs, Jez and the troublesome new girl who insists on being called ‘Stone Cold’. This is a great coming-of-age story, filled with teenage drama, bitchy girls and well-meaning parents that you just want to get out of your room.


When the dust settles’ by Lucy Easthope 

 “When I see a disaster unfold, my first thought is of needs of dead, of the grieving and of those who care for both”, Lucy Easthope. 

 Have you ever wondered how in the aftermath of big disasters ‘things’ are organised?  Its Lucy’s job to plan out and advise Companies, Governments and countries about disaster relief, temporary mortuaries and the like.  Lucy discusses well known disasters such as 9/11, Grenfell Tower, Bali Bombings, COVID and lesser known incidents such as an aeroplane crashing on the motorway and human trafficking. 

I absolutely taken with this book as I had no idea of the background work done by disaster advisors and the hidden pitfalls.  Its deliciously fascinating. 

Ora Nui 4 Maori Literary journal.  New Zealand and Taiwan special Edition

I found this fascinating book when I was shelving books in the Fiction living room.  I picked it up and started looking at the articles before I realised what I was doing I had read the article on page 194 about “How plant DNA tells story of Austronesian Expansion and Migration”….cool stuff for a person who is interested in Pacific Navigation and Archaeology. I discovered poetry, short stories, Austronesian archaeological articles and some creative non-fiction.  I thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of this book over the week or two I had it issued to me. 


  1. The Art of Losing (Alice Zeniter) – first published in French 2017, English 2021; winner Dublin Literary Award 2022

The title unfortunately does not do justice to the book, and I am glad I picked it up despite that…

This often heart rending story of Algerian immigrants to France is told by tracing the story of three generations, starting with the family that was forced to seek refuge in France after the French/Algerian war of independence. Eventually, ‘third generation’ Naima is the first one to travel back to Algeria and to experience a country that seems to have nothing much to do with her and her life anymore, but which still defines much of her and her family’s history and relationships, and her status in French society. The book does depict the situation and treatment of Algerian immigrants to France, and goes some way to explain the clashes and riots that happened a few years ago in parts of France. While a specific example – in time and space – of an immigrant family, the book will ring a bell in many ways with any immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker and other in a similar situation, and gives them all a voice. I am not someone given to emotional outburst but this book made me cry a couple of times, and nod with recognition of common feelings and thoughts often. 

For a visual Tour de Force of the dark chapter of the Algerian war, KANOPY features the 1966 Italian/Algerian, black and white, documentary style movie “The Battle For Algiers” which is well worth watching.

Reality might not be what you think it is… or what it is for your fellow humans…. It might just be a ‘controlled hallucination’….. A really good review of this book here:

Being You by Professor Anil Seth review – The Guardian

Well worth deviating for to the non-fiction area of the library….

..and some more stuff about the brain. How come two witnesses recount very different memories of an event. Where the heck did you just put the newspaper? What’s his name again – it’s on the tip of my tongue! Is this a ‘normal’ senior moment or the start of Alzheimers? Lisa Genova answers all these questions and explains how memory actually works according to the latest brain research, and it’s highly readable.

A woman scientist has dropped off the radar while researching a secretive Amazonian tribe to find out why their women can conceive and give birth well into old age. But would developing a drug for Western World’s child-desperate women be a good result from this research? Meanwhile, the scientist’s Pharma Corporation’s boss is desperate to progress such a drug and sends his employee/lover to find the scientist and solve the mystery of a colleague who has disappeared, presumed dead. Heart of Darkness infused, but less dark.

Hefty tome that is very timely, about how climate change could pan out. Though not much of a science fiction reader, this was deservedly highly recommended to me and is timely, given another Climate Summit has come and gone, with a ‘BLAH’ as was just about expected. Very believable scenarios, although towards the end I was not convinced by the novel’s optimism regarding humankind’s fate…

Irina kisses or doesn’t kiss another man than her husband. These two scenarios develop into two different versions of her future life, each version having good and bad times and outcomes, regrets, affirmations of choice etc. As a reader I tended to oscillate between her choices, as did Irina herself “I should have – I shouldn’t have”. The lesson to learn here, in a very entertaining way, is that whatever choice you make in life, it will come with pros and cons, good and bad results. Make a choice and run with it, and that’s your life 😊


  1. Book: Axiom’s End (Lindsey Ellis)

I was recommended this Sci-fi novel about first contact by a D&D friend, because of course I was. It ended up being a fantastic exploration of how humanity would interact with a species foreign enough to our perception to be basically incomprehensible, led by a very likable protagonist and a healthy amount of humour.

A girl and her interplanetary cyborg, on a trek across the Continental United States – If you like your aliens with a dose of philosophical, existential dread and for that to be way more fun than it sounds, look no further. 

  1. Movie: Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

A coherent multiverse plot, Michelle Yeoh kicking ass, a touching emotional core of familial love and Chinese representation – any other movie would be great if it achieved any one of these things, but this one has it all, and does it excellently.

As a martial artist since my preteens who also happens to be a massive nerd, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once ticked every box for me. No longer must I keep my loves of sci-fi and Bruce Lee separate. 

  1. TV Show: Midnight Mass 

 A seven-episode horror miniseries with a fully-realised ensemble cast, great soundtrack and poignant themes that manages to be unsettling without descending into jumpscare territory gets an A in my book. Horror doesn’t always satisfy me with its characters or storytelling; it’s often more about the tension and the atmosphere while the narrative suffers. Midnight Mass was special in that it was able to tell not just an evocative horror story, but an evocative story. Probably the best show I’ve seen in a long time. 

  1. Album: ERROR (The Warning)

Firstly, I am exceedingly jealous of The Warning. They’re an all-female hard rock band from Mexico who have performed with Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless and the Foo Fighters, all within the space of a few years… while all being younger than me. Seriously. I may be 23 and one of the youngest staff members here at the library, but their oldest member is 22.

Segueing from blistering envy to blistering admiration, The Warning have a wholly unique style that ranges from hauntingly beautiful to thrashingly epic and captures everything I love about the music of the 70s-80s. ERROR is their first full-length album, and is special to me due to a series of freaky coincidences:

First, it was released on my birthday. My 23rd birthday. One of the tracks is titled ’23’. Another is titled ‘Z’ – like, what my name starts with. And my favourite track on the album, ‘REVENANT’, Is so eerily similar to parts of my own life that I’ve been checking my house for bugs ever since.

Look, I get it – I’m projecting. The whole point of The Warning is to make hard rock accessible to a predominantly Gen Z audience. But given my existing love for the genre, the band and the crazy conveniences surrounding their new album, this is an entry I can’t do anything but recommend.

  1. Metaphysical Concept: Paracausality 

Paracausality is the idea of something that will have happened in the past as a result of something in the present, at which point the present retroactively changes to accommodate the discrepancy. Is it confusing? Yes. Irrelevant? Also yes. But I couldn’t think of a fifth thing.