The Shakespeare Manuscript – Stewart Buettner

Publisher: Performance Arts Press (April 1, 2011)  ISBN-10: 0615462650 / ISBN-13: 978-0615462653

Shakespeare wrote many stories, and many have been written about him, but none quiteshakespeare manuscript like The Shakespeare Manuscript, based on the “Original Hamlet,” a play that actually existed and was being performed in London around the time Shakespeare arrived in the city. It vanished soon after and has not been seen in over 400 years.

The lost Hamlet suddenly reappears when the novel’s main character–the quiet, sedate April Oliphant–pulls a manuscript out of a crate of old letters, recently arrived at her family-run book store.

With the realization that it may have been written by Shakespeare, none of whose plays survives in manuscript form, April sets out on a course that sees her torn free from her moorings in a way she had only dreamed of before.

She assumes the Hamlet manuscript was sent by her father, who has gone to England on a buying trip. But he doesn’t remember a thing about the new Hamlet because he’s lost his memory, in part the result of a violent mugging in London.

While he’s recovering, April sends the manuscript out for expert opinion. One of the people she contacts, the director of a failing Shakespeare company, grows so convinced of the manuscript’s authenticity that he wants to stage this new version of Hamlet, and asks April, who secretly loves him, to play Ophelia to gain her consent for the production. 

The more committed April becomes to her new role, the more committed the actors become as a company. In the end, they set about performing a passionate new Hamlet with singular and often moving consequences, but none more moving than those that catch April in their web

This story had so much potential, but it seemed to fail on its delivery.  I persevered and read the entire story.

While the concept is fantastic and could lead to being a fantastic thriller or suspense, some parts of the plot were dropped or discontinued in a very abrupt way.  Like the death of one of the main characters, wasn’t explained until late in the book.  Another example is when the manuscript goes missing then turns up rather conveniently.

The characters also seemed a little two dimensional.  April suffered from agoraphobia at the start of the book, but within a couple of chapters, she was keen to get out and become and actress once more.  Then she was consumed with passion for a man and feared that he was having an affair with another.

The fact that April didn’t want to talk to her father once he returned to the US that made me wonder just where the story was going.

If you want to take the time to read it, please do.  Others may enjoy it, I just found it a little lacking.


Taming the Bad Boy by Cherie Le Clare

Published by Cherie Books, 2011 – ISBN 978-0-9876602-9-9

taming the bad boyUsing drastic measures to take what he wants backfires on Luke Knight when he meets solo foster mum, Katie Ryan. Both suspicious of one another’s motives, yet equally determined to protect five year old Emily, they must support one another and learn to co-operate to keep the little girl safe. But, when Emily goes missing, their relationship is tested to its limits. 

And discovering the truth turns out to be the biggest test of all.

Luke has an axe to grind, and Katie is the one that is going to suffer for it.  Luke returns to Wellington in search of his ex-girlfriend and their daughter, only to discover that his ex is dead, and his daughter is now living with Katie, his ex’s flatmate.

But someone is plotting against both of them in an attempt to get to Emily, but who is it.  Luke suspects it is Katie, driving a wedge between their fledgling romance.  But when the chips are down, new information comes to light that throws everyone a curve ball.

I liked the two main characters.  Luke is a tough, no nonsense, hard-working man, who wants to be part of his daughters life.  But Lisa, his ex – seems determined, even from beyond the grave, to prevent him from being with his daughter, telling everyone that would listen that Emily’s father is a good for nothing loser.  In a way, she was right.

Katie was thrown into motherhood unexpectedly, and seems to have handled it well.

There were some questions that seemed to go unanswered though, and even the ending seemed a little rush, but if you enjoy NZ romances, you will like this story.

Deathwatch by Colin Falconer

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 1992

ISBN 0-340-56239-0

DeathwatchFirst came the rumours of war.

But on the South Sea island of Santa Maria life was unchanged.  A life, according to the stern faced Father Goode, of sin-drenched, barely clothed sexuality and Godlessness.

Meanwhile his niece Rachel tended the sick and flinched from the disturbing presence of Patrick Corrigan, drunk, gambler and brawler, as District Officer Ian Manning shouldered the white man’s burden of administration.

Then the war became real.

Singapore, symbol of the British Empire, fell and soon the Japanese arrive.

And Santa Maria became an exploding volcano of violence, betrayal and unexpected heroism.

I love Colin Falconer books, and this one is by far my favourite.

The attraction between Rachel and Patrick is evident from the first pages, and I loved the subtle humour in the story.

Written in omnipresent point of view it was well crafted and the flow from one person to another was seamless and well done.  Not once did I get confused about who was talking or thinking.

Rachel is a naïve girl, raised by her Uncle, Father Goode.  He is a fire and brimstone preacher on the island of Santa Maria and he can’t stand Patrick Corrigan, a man he sees of having little morals.

Patrick however has higher morals than anyone was prepared to accept, however he is selfish and thinks only of himself, until Miss Goode throws herself into his life and he seems unable to disentangle himself from her charms.

The story is rich with details and I could easily imagine the high humidity o

Corrigan's Run

f the Pacific Island that the story was set.

If you like war stories, espionage and mystery, you would enjoy this story.

This book has been re-released by Colin Falconer as Corrigan’s Run

Milkshake by Matt Hammond

Published by Taylor Street Publishing (October 9, 2011)

ISBN: 1466423706

milkshakePut that in your car and smoke it!

On the day David Turner is supposed to emigrate to New Zealand, he witnesses a savage murder and becomes caught up in ruthless global conspiracy.

A thirty year-old technological discovery threatens his own future and jeopardises the lives of millions of others as David discovers that starting a new life is about to become a deadly game of cat and mouse… and, somewhat surprisingly, cows.

Modifying milk so that ethanol can be processed from it could be the solution to an impending global oil crisis, but drinking it will kill you.

Can the truth be uncovered before an entire country is sacrificed to satisfy the world’s demand for bio-fuel?

The idea behind this story sounds wonderful, and easy to grasp, but the start of this story was quite heavy going.  I struggled to follow with David, wondering what exactly would happen.  It sounded more like a travelogue with lots of description of the NZ scenery.

About half way through, a new character, Brent, an SIS agent is introduced, and suddenly the story gets very interesting.  I couldn’t wait to read the next part and wonder just how all the pieces were going to come together.

Involving international espionage and policitical power, one has to wonder if this story is a Conspiracy Theory that could very possibly take place, or currently even be in the process of taking place.

If you can struggle through the first part, the final part of the story is worth the wait, very fast paced and interesting and it took me two days to finish a story that I started 6 months ago.

Anastasia by Colin Falconer

Published (first published December 1st 2003)

ISBN 1863254676 (ISBN13: 9781863254670)

AnastasiaWhen American journalist Michael Sheridan jumps into the Whangpoa River to save a woman he met in one of Shanghai’s taxi clubs, his life is changed irrevocably. A Russian refugee, Anastasia Romanov bears an extraordinary resemblance to the princess of the same name, who was rumored to have survived the brutal murder of her family at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries.

The fate of the youngest daughter of the last Russian Czar has become one of the most talked-about mysteries of the time. But Michael’s Anastasia is suffering from amnesia and remembers little of her life before Shanghai.

Unraveling the mystery of Anastasia’s identity and past takes them both from the streets of Shanghai to the decadence of pre-war Berlin and London, from Bolshevik Russia to New York just before the Wall Street crash. Michael is the only man who has ever helped Anastasia without wanting something in return – but can she give up the chance to be a princess for true love?

Another Colin Falconer book, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This is the second one I have read, but I enjoyed it.

Anastasia is sold into slavery not once, but twice, and expects Michael to bail her out, however he actually ‘sold’ her on one occasion, but he does come to her rescue, because there is something about the enchantingly exotic woman that intoxicates him, and he always finds himself not far from where Ana turns out to be.

Colin shows that he really does carry out careful research when he investigates a story because never once did this story feel fake, or that a detail was missing.  While everyone knows that the real Anastasia did suffer the same fate as her family, you almost wished that the Anastasia of Colin’s book would actually be the real Russian Princess.

The details of the story are rich, and I felt myself sitting, listening to the bustling streets of Shanghai, to the poor and desperation of Berlin and finally the rich life of pre-depression US.

A love story with a difference, and a surprisingly open ending.

The Werewolf’s Wife by Michele Hauf

Published March 20th 2012 by Harlequin

ISBN 0373618808 (ISBN13: 9780373618804)

The Werewolf's WifeThe legacy he must obey…

The child she must save…
The man who threatens to fulfill her every fantasy…
and break her heart.

Alpha wolf Ridge Addison left his wife in Las Vegas, vowing to put their one reckless night of passion behind him and return to his clan. Thirteen years later he needs a divorce so he can become pack leader. Yet he’s never forgotten the sensuous witch whose life he saved…or the knee-buckling kisses he still craves.

After they parted, Abigail tried banishing Ridge from her memory. Now her heart belongs only to her son. But when the boy is kidnapped, she knows she alone can’t save him. Though Abigail’s body still aches for Ridge, she’s willing to give him his freedom in exchange for his help. But who will shield her heart from the only man she’s ever let claim her, body and soul?

Michele Hauf has established herself as a writer of fantasy stories.  I admit I downloaded a story of hers last year, but haven’t got around to reading it yet.  This book was given to me by my neighbour, telling me it was a wonderful read.

Ridge (short for Richard) married a witch in a drunk Vegas spree, but fled when she zapped him after he turned into a wolf mid-sex.  Abigail’s son has been kidnapped, and Ridge turns up with divorce papers at just the right time.  She needs someone big and strong to help her out.

Having to rescue a vampire from Werewolf pit fights turns out to be more dangerous than they anticipated, especially when Abigail keeps jumping in to ‘defend’ Ridge.  Do either of them realise that their actions are screaming to each other that they need each other?

While romances are generally about the love hate relationship between the male and female, for some reason, this one really frustrated me.  I don’t know whether it was a good thing or not, but it seemed rather too obvious for me, and I couldn’t really relate to either party as to why they kept their love under wraps for so long.

If you like love stories, with werewolves, witches and vampires, you will enjoy this yarn.

Finding Lubchenko – Michael Simmons

ISBN 1-59514-021-2 Published by Penguin Group

Since his tightfisted millionaire father never gives him any money, Evan ‘liberates’ equipment from his Dad’s business and sells it online.  But when a man is murdered at the office and Mr Macalister is accused of the crime.  Evan is faced with a terrible dilemma.  He alone can clear his father’s name – but only by revealing his own theft operation.  And then he’ll never be grounded forever.

There’s just one thing to do: find the real murderer himself.  Armed only with a cryptic email from someone called Lubchenko, Evan sets off on a quest that catapults him and his two best friends into a world of danger and international intrigue.

Evan has to find out who killed the office worker, because it certainly wasn’t his father.  But he can’t tell anyone without incriminating himself and he doesn’t want to get into any more trouble than he already knows he is going to get into.

Evans father is a cantankerous old man.  He is horrible.  I wouldn’t want him as my father, and I think I would have just let him rot in jail, however, Evan seems to be a sucker for punishment, and he uses all means necessary to find out the story behind the murder.  Even if it involves spending his fathers money.

This story felt like it was written in second person, where you are included in the story, except instead of drawing the reader in, it almost alienates them.  The way the story is told is stilted and hard to follow at times.  The flashbacks feel heavy and clunky, and sometimes the reader has to wonder just what is going on and what the main character is thinking.

Apart from the clunkiness of the story, the storyline is interesting and once they get passed all the “why my dad treats me like this”, and “another example of how my father treats me” and yet another “my father treats me like this”.  Without all of the backstory that pulls the reader out of the story, this would have been a more exciting story.