Glory Days magazine issue 9

Glory Days magazine issue 9 cover imageGlory Days issue 9 is here! (Buy now)

Glory Days, the excellent New Zealand vintage lifestyle magazine, has had a gentle makeover and looks better than ever (look at that cover! Gorgeous!). Issue 9 is in stores now and in Vanity Fair tradition it’s the “Hollywood issue”. That means Hollywood-related vintage goodness.

The contents cover a wide range of topics with the standard beauty, fashion and retro columns as well as some great features (I loved the article on Jennifer Ward-Lealand).

What I am really impressed with is that the standard of photography and writing in Glory Days continues to improve. It’s fantastic to see commitment by the publishers to not only high standards of quality.

Glory Days magazine issue 9 is only $12.95 from stockists and online.

First ever book sale at Te Papa Press


Te Papa Press, Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique museum publisher, is holding its first ever book sale from Sunday 1 March with up to 70 per cent off its award-winning titles.

The sale includes a range of titles including 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa, the best Kiwi children’s non-fiction book of 2013, and celebrated biographer Jill Trevelyan’s Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life.

Claire Murdoch, Publisher at Te Papa Press, says the sale is the first in its 17 year history and unlikely to be repeated.

“A Te Papa Press sale is a rare bird indeed but we’re delighted to confirm the sighting. We hope readers enjoy the chance this March and April to stock up on some of our beloved and award-winning books about New Zealand’s art, culture and natural world,” said Ms Murdoch.

The opportunity to offer the special prices arose from a change in the distributor used by Te Papa Press. Due to the Penguin Random House merger, Te Papa Press’s new sales partner will be Archetype Book Agents, and Te Papa Press titles will be distributed by Upstart Distribution.

Sale items are available exclusively through Te Papa Store, both in-store and online at

A full list of titles on sale can be found at

The sale ends 30 April 2015.

Book review: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The Chimes cover imageThe Chimes by Anna Smaill, Sceptre, ISBN 9781444794533,

What if we didn’t remember things? What if memory meant so little to us that we let things go, not even knowing what they were? What if our world was so full of music, both beautiful and dangerous, that it crowded out our memories?

That’s the amazing world of The Chimes.

I’ve already burbled a bit on the radio about how good The Chimes is and now it’s time for a bit more.

The Chimes begins with Simon, our hero, entering London. Simon’s London isn’t the same as ours, it becomes clear. This London is full of music and music is the communal form of communication, and has taken over writing and reading. But the music holds dangers as well as beauty and something is very wrong with people. The music has taken their capacity for forming memories. Simon joins a scavenging gang, trawling the Under (Underground? Under the Thames?) for the mysterious metal Palladium, and meets Lucien who recognises that Simon has a gift for holding on to memories. Why has Simon come to London?

Chimes is like a fist. It unclutches, opens. Starts like a fist, but then it bursts like a flowering. Who can say if it’s very slow or very fast?

loved The Chimes. Smaill is a stunning writer and the world she creates is not only completely believable but absolutely entrancing. The Chimes introduces its readers to a wholly unique world and to a wholly unique kind of language too. Smaill uses musical words and definitions in new ways, sending this reader to Google several times over. She reintroduces us to the mysteries of music but also to the mysteries of language.

“Code was a way of keeping thoughts still. Of helping them stay in formation. Everybody used to understand it, and they could write in it too. It meant that you could return to the ideas when you wanted. Code is a kind of memory.”

As a reader you get the distinct impression that Smaill is in love with both words and music. Her characters and storyline are delicately handled but carry real emotional impact and there are some serious questions here about the value of both memory and forgetting. The story slightly feels like it runs out of puff at the end but I did wonder if the beginning has so much impact that the end almost suffers in comparison. And I confess I didn’t want to leave this world.

Smaill is very reminiscent of Elizabeth Knox in that she seems to rise above considerations of genre, even though this would be easily pigeonholed as a fantasy or dystopian fiction. There are definite shades of Mieville and, to me, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

Smaill is a New Zealander living in the UK and her writing reflects a universality. This is Smaill’s first book and, by god, I hope it won’t be her last. The Chimes is a beautiful, lyrical modern classic.


Book review: The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

The Last of the Spirits cover imageThe Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley, Bloomsbury, ISBN9781408854136, RRP$27.99

Christmas may be well gone but stock up for next year’s present pile or just enjoy a bit of Christmas with this excellent book for kids and young adults.

The Last of the Spirits is another retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but Chris Priestley has produced a spooky, satisfying and ultimately comforting read that honestly explores the dark themes that Dickens also wrote about.

Sam and Lizzie are homeless, parentless children, looking for a warm place to sleep when they stumble into the ghost of Marley, about to go and wake one Ebenezer Scrooge. The ghosts are scary but are they as scary as what real life has done to them?

Priestley has written a number of horror stories inspired by traditional masters of horror (and which I am definitely going to go looking for!) and with this tale he has added another dimension to Dickens’ world. This is a spellbinding little book that will do wonders for the imaginations of young readers, as well as introducing them to some of the hard questions of our society.