Review: Michael Botur’s “True?” – stories about real people.

I met New Zealand author Michael Botur at a poetry-reading event at Geyser Con – a week-long festival of fiction-noir held in late January. I just had to buy my own copy of True? Short Stories, his poetry is so riveting. (Expect a review of his poetry later.)

20190201_145315This collection of sixteen stories are so enthralling that (apart from checking out the first chapter of J P Pomare’s Call Me Evie – expect a review soon) I kept returning to them.
Sometimes repellent, they always drew me back for ‘what next’ and ‘I’ll just start that next one’.

Michael’s characters are real (in the New Zealand context we know and love); their voice is not his – it is the voice of each character. This makes the stories even more real.

Here are titles, and some teasers…

  • Staycation.
  • Better than jail. “Nobody in this room could take you in a fight, but they have the power right now to rip out your mana and slice it up. They wait in silence while you try to understand…”
  • Summer school
  • Because I love him. “The boys who live in this pig sty have never met us and we’ve only seen them from a distance but it’s obvious we wanna party so they don’t object when we tiptoe in and stand on the scummy ripped carpet in their lounge and say Hi.”
  • Schrödinger’s scoop, Don’t tell mum, Dumped after decades
  • Cuffed as fuck. “There’s this real crusty-looking Hells Angel dude who won’t take his patch off and I reckon our Rachael’s pretty savvy cause she just hands him some overalls so he can cover the patch up.”
  • Sword of Damacles. “People must buy black market merchandise from here all the time. The girl stops for a moment to wipe the peanut butter from a tiny three year old’s cheeks with a wet tea towel. She picks up a baby, too, and jiggles it as she comes to your car.”
  • Truth or dare, Kiss you while you sleep, The people’s choice, Cloud nine, Underground, Mengistu, That tingling sensation

If you want to become the character as you read, feel your gut churn, your brain become restless for more, then you cannot go past this collection of life.

True? was published 2018, by Michael Botur The Publisher
ISBN 978-1721058129
Cover design by Michael Botur, and “Yes, Michael, it is pretty neat!”

Michael is a Whangarei writer,
author of short story collections Lowlife, Spitshine, and Mean.
His work is featured at
You can find Michael on Facebook, and on Twitter

Find his books on Amazon

Introducing Author Deryn Pittar

Deryn is a New Zealand author whose work I enjoy. A lovable lady, it was through Deryn I became an editor in the first instance. When her first publisher closed the book, she was adopted by Junction Publishing, who have released all her books.
Her works range from futuristic romance, through young adult futuristic adventure to her latest YA fantasy, Lutapolii.

deryn-croppedHer author bio at Amazon  – which reveals her work you want to buy – reads…
“I write fantasy, romance, cozy mystery, Young Adult, Sci.Fi. and short stories. I am published in all of these genre. I also dabble in poetry.

I belong to several writing groups and book clubs. I am an avid reader. I enjoy helping emerging authors and read the work of some of my fellow authors, and they read mine. In this way we help each other get our plot lines in order and our characters believable.

I live in New Zealand, which is [away off to] the right hand side of Australia, between the equator and the south pole, if you have a map handy. It looks isolated but with the internet we are moments away from anywhere in the world. A collection of islands, we have a democratic government and produce a lot of food which we sell around the world. The population is outnumbered seriously by sheep and cows – and I’m still looking for the hobbits.

I hope you enjoy my books as much as I enjoy writing them.”

via Deryn Pittar at
junction publishing

Reviewing “Irish in the Blood”, by Marie Gray

A Family History – rediscoveredpic20171207_05

This is the story of a family before and after emigrating to New Zealand in 1887, and is the answer to the question Marie and indeed her uncles and aunts often asked her grandfather (their uncle), to which the answer was an infuriating “Tell you one day.”

After his passing, Marie’s husband encouraged her to travel back to Ireland to find answers. She did so, and more. After receiving only hints of knowledge during her visit, she returned to New Zealand and began a full journey of research, aided by her grandmother’s journal, kept whilst travelling on the powered steamer Cuzco under Captain Murdoch.

pic20171207_07Husband and wife Patrick Magill and Mary-Jane (née Campbell) sailed with their children James (Jim), Mary, Robert (Bob) and Annie, heading to South Africa (Capetown), then east to Australia (Melbourne). There they took the Governor Arthur up the Yarrow River, to visit with Uncle Jack, who had travelled out some years before to try his luck at the gold fields. After losing his friend, he settled to the land, now a flourishing homestead.

The Magills shipped to New Zealand aboard the Arawata, arriving in the Hawke Bay Ahuriri port close to Napier.

Published 1997, by Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Limited, Auckland, NZ
ISBN: 1-86958-481-3

review: The Aro Street Girls, by Lyndsay Campbell

This is a beautifully constructed tale, of cover_aro street girls
how the First World War affected the lives of a family in Aro Street, Wellington, New Zealand.
Author Lyndsay Campbell has meticulously checked background details for accuracy, before releasing this for the commemoration of Armistice Day, 2018. An engrossing read, tear-making at times, full of tenderness and the culture and atmosphere of the day.

It is the quest for information about a pendant, made by Rose in 1986 of her Uncle Walter, which had belonged to her aunt, his sister Kathleen (Kathy), that begins the tale of the family’s, and their friends’, experiences of the time.

The family is wide, and after the prologue, we meet distant relatives as events unfold in real time. Political opinion touches the family, as does societal expectations and norms. Some of the family are dutiful to the cause, others seek to put family loyalty first; this in itself gives rise to differences, defiance, and has disastrous effect on people around the girls.

We meet characters in Wellington who are, well… characters – the jeweler, the parson, the clairvoyant from Russia, and workmates of the family. We see reunion of family members who’ve not corresponded in years.

A brief romance, then correspondence between Kathy in Aro Street and Freddie who is now on the front, delayed by the constraints of post services in wartime. But her love for Freddie is constant, and we are given hope they will be happy ever after.

So too do we hope for her sister Belle (Rose’s mother) who dares to stretch the limits until an unfortunate incident occurs; for her elder brother George – the “wayward” but loving brother who evades conscription. For Walter, who dreams of becoming a war pilot, but is thwarted by his young age and the end of the war – to realise how lucky he is to be able to be alive. For their mother, Violet, and father Oscar, struggling to make ends meet yet still uphold their family and Christian duties to aid the less fortunate.

Altogether, this a touching tribute to the people of Wellington and NZ in general who ‘gave’ fathers, sons, and brothers to a war that belonged to Britain – “King and Country” – and in many minds, not to New Zealand.

The Aro Street Girls is a credit to the author, and a tribute to those who made such sacrifices.

Published by Junction Publishing, (c) Lyndsay Campbell 2018 and

amazon 2
Available here

Lyndsay can be found at
facebook or at
junction publishing

“Christmas Crackers” – NZ author Vicki Arnott

ARNOTT_Christmas Crackers 2Ms Arnott has created the magic of Christmas in this collection of stories about the elves of Polaris – a world of magic, beyond ours. In each story we meet them in Polaris and our world.

We first meet the elf Sylvia, and Martin and his small family, in our world. Magic transports Sylvia back to her elven homeland she is ushered to meet their leader, Santorni. We learn there is a glitch in the system, which may not be good for either Sylvia or the whole elf world. Will they correct the glitch before Christmas?

The stories continue to introduce us to other elves and their magic. They do so with lots of warm fuzzies ― perfect for children who will listen to the stories or read them on their own.
The five stories are:
Christmas Cracker; The Lost Elf; The Bungling Elf; The Envious Elf and Santorni’s Dilemma

This is an eBook, and a print edition is close to release date.  The cover was designed by Anne Vindriis of Vin Design. Together, Vicki and Anne have created a perfect gift for parents or grandparents to buy.

© Vicki Arnott 2018
Buy the eBook now at Amazon

More about this New Zealand (kiwi) author…portrait_Vicki Arnott
Vicki writes fantasy adventure and science fiction for teens and young adults. After dreaming for years of becoming a writer, she took action in 2015, going from full-time teaching to part-time, and began writing her first novel The Crystal Bluebird.
In 2016, Vicki completed a screenwriting course at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, and has written several short movie scripts. In the near future, she plans to learn more about film production and make short movies.
Born in Foxton, New Zealand, and raised in the Manawatu area, Vicki now lives in a rural community near Rotorua, surrounded by views of Mt Tarawera, pine forest, and farm paddocks.
Her interests include: walking, modern jive dancing, painting, and drama. She has organised many school productions in addition to her involvement in amateur theatre. Her newest passion is movie-making with her students at school.
When she needs a break from writing, she enjoys getting outside in the fresh air of her garden. She recently planted her first (pink and white) rose garden.
She spends her spare time watching movies, and steals early-morning hours to read because, once begun, a book cannot be put down until it’s finished.

Vicki can be found at…
Facebook page: Vicki Arnott Writer
Website: Vicki Arnott

“When Dad Comes Home” a new release

The war was over and Dad is coming home at last! But the days and weeks go by, andWhen Dad Came Home when he does return, Dad is not the happy man that young Rita once knew and Thomas thinks he remembers.
Struggling to understand his sadness and fears, the kids accompany him as he readjusts to home life, all the while singing his favourite song. One day, while they help him fix the deck, Dad starts to join in the song …

Hatley-Owen beautifully captures children’s views of the return from the war, and the realities of shell shock for the men who returned after the First World War ended on 11 November 1918. Soldiers who returned from the war often faced difficulty re-entering society after the horrors they had faced on the battlefield. Most never spoke about their experiences and managed to carry on as before. However, many men faced on-going psychological trauma.

Not only affecting the soldiers, but their families too, the story shows that not all soldiers return unharmed from war, and not all wounds are physical. But with love, care and support, they can heal.


Illustrated by Rosie Colligan, England
Published: November 2018 by Oratia Media, 2018
ISBNs: 0947506500 and 9780947506506
Available from Amazon  and from all New Zealand book stores

portrait_Vanessa H-O

Visit Vanessa at her web site – and on facebook:


“The Crystal Bluebird”

cover_ARNOTT V_The Crystal BluebirdThe Crystal Bluebird is a delightful kid’s adventure that will appeal to fans of The Wizard of Oz, The Narnia Chronicles, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Never-Ending Story. Readers who love fantasy, magic, and fairy tales will love this modern fairy-tale adventure set in an imaginary world filled with magical creatures, wonderful characters, and contemporary elements with a twist.

While exploring her family’s new home, Mary discovers a crystal necklace and an old book telling the story of a banished princess, a magic bluebird, and a sad Queen trapped in her castle. A rainy afternoon drawing pictures on the story map, and a heartfelt wish leads Mary and her brother and sister into the fantasy world of Brigitha, where Mary is chained to the magical bluebird, and their pictures are causing problems! A queen’s guardsman, a grumpy gnome, who insists they must undo the damage they have caused and help to free the Queen, soon enlists them. So begins a journey filled with unique and magical characters who all seem to want help. Can Mary, Ron and Cassandra find what they need to release Mary from her chain, and rescue the Queen?

The Crystal Bluebird is available in these ebook formats:
epub, mobi, pdf, lrf, pdb, txt, or html, from Smashwords


About Vicki:portrait_Vicki Arnott
Vicki is a new author who is very excited and proud to introduce her first book. Since childhood, writing has been one of her loves, and writing a book one of her dreams.

She is very fortunate to have been born and raised in New Zealand, by parents who possessed imagination, each with a fun sense of humour and each, in their way, excellent story-tellers.
Her love of science fiction and fantasy was developed early, by television shows like “Lost in Space,” “The Tomorrow People,” and her all-time favourite, “Star Trek.” Vicki spent many Saturday afternoons watching movies, old westerns with her Grandad, and musicals, which continue to be her favourites today. She was also an avid reader, and a book which made a lasting impact was “Freedom Train,” a book about Harriet Tubman, a slave who helped many others escape to freedom. This book fired her passion for freedom and social justice, a theme which has found its way into her own book.

She has spent the last twenty-eight years working as a primary school teacher and raising two sons. Through those years she’s managed to spend some time as a member of her local drama club, learning to paint, dabbling with photography, playing an occasional game of tennis or golf, walking, gardening and watching lots of movies. She has travelled to Australia, Europe and the USA.
As a school teacher she faced many challenges, and learned a lot, but also had a lot of fun. School drama productions have always been a highlight – she loves the music, dance and costumes, and all the drama that goes on behind the scenes as well as on stage. Fostering a love of literacy in children, watching their eyes light up with enthusiasm as they share their excitement for the things they discover, is a true joy and a source of inspiration for her.
As a teacher, she is also concerned about the many negative influences on young people today. She wrote her first book for children, but thinks adults will enjoy it too. Her intention was to produce a fun, exciting and entertaining story which presented positive values. We think she has succeeded, and hope you agree.

Learn more about Vicki at her website and on facebook