1 Cousins by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House, $26)

From a 2016 interview with the great author, conducted by Adam Dudding at the Academy of New Zealand Literature site: “Q: Which of your works are the most explicitly autobiographical? A: In the short stories, it would be ‘Going for the Bread’ (published in Electric City, 1987) which is just completely a story about what happened – there are hardly any changes at all to something that happened to me when I was about five years old. And for a novel, I would say Cousins.” Asked in that same interview about the prospect of her books being turned into films, she said, “Cousins has been in the pipeline for years and years, and I’d sort of given up hope with that, but it has recently come forward again, so we’ll see what happens there…” Its release in cinemas this month has catapulted a new edition of her 1992 novel straight into the number one spot.

2 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

3 Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh (Hachette, $34.99)

Chapter one in its thrilling entirety, from the Auckland author praised to the skies by the Guardian and the Sunday Times in England:

My mother vanished without a trace ten years ago.

So did a quarter of a millon dollars in cash from my father’s safe.

The police came.

The neighours whispered that she was a thief.

My father called her a bitch.

“She’ll turn up, and when she does, I’ll have her in handcuffs!”

That’s what he said. That’s what he screamed.

He was right.

It took ten years, but she has turned up.

The police found her car in the dense bush of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park four hours ago. She was inside. Well, her bones were anyway. Those bones were clothed in the remnants of the red silk shirt she was wearing that night.

The night I heard her scream.

4 The Nine Lives of Kitty K. by Margaret Mills (Mary Egan, $34.99)

The author, 91, is right this second working on a piece of memoir writing for ReadingRoom, and we mightily look forward to it; her debut novel is one of the New Zealand literary sensations of 2021.

5 I am in Bed with You by Emma Barnes (Auckland University Press. $24.99)

Poetry, including a 20-poem suite with Sigourney Weaver in every title.

6 Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press, $35)

The book has also been published in the US, and the first review is in, from Publisher’s Weekly: “Chidgey brilliantly explores the intersecting stories of a former German SS officer, his sheltered wife, and a survivor of Buchenwald. In 1954, Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, imprisoned for war crimes as a commander at Buchenwald, continues to defend himself during taped interviews with an unknown interlocutor…With its multiple registers and complex view of humanity, this marks a vital turn in Holocaust literature.”

7 Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare (Hachette, $29.99)

8 Sister to Sister by Olivia Hayfield (Hachette, $34.99)

9 Everything Changes by Stephanie Johnson (Penguin Random House, $36)

“The story begins on a midsummer day in 2018, when Muzza succumbs to the temptation presented by the twitching tail of the neighbour’s blue-eyed Himalayan cat, and murders it…Muzza knows he is a bad dog. Yet Col(ette), Muzza’s doting adoptive guardian, does not blame him; in her view he is a complex character whose behaviour can certainly be explained by some trauma in his troubled past. It soon becomes apparent that the cat’s bloody demise is just one in a series of violent and troubling events in the novel, and one of a long string of reprehensible acts for which there is little retribution, but little resolution either; every character in this novel drags behind them the dead weight of a life that they have not lived well”: from a review by Rachel O’Connor at the Academy of New Zealand Literature site.

10 Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2021 by Tracey Slaughter (Massey University Press, $40)


1 Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

2 Supergood by Chelsea Winter (Penguin Random House, $50)

3 Farm for Life: Mahi, Mana and Life on the Land by Tangaroa Walker (Penguin Random House, $38)

4 Grief on the Run by Julie Zarifeh (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

A clinical psychologist tells her story of losing her 27-year-old son, Sam, in a whitewater rafting accident just sixteen days after her 60-year-old husband, Paul, died of pancreatic cancer.

5 Maori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $38)

6 The Book of Angst by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)

From a thoughtful and critical review at GoodReads: “I was so excited to dive into this book. I have read both of Gwendoline Smith’s previous two books The Book of Knowing   and The Book of Overthinking. I found both of those very informative and interactive reads. The Book of Angst, however, was just not as good. It is broken into three parts: the first looks at different kinds of anxiety; the second does a deep dive on social anxiety; and the third contains seven therapy sessions with homework. The first two parts were pretty solid, however part three just felt copy and pasted from the The Book of Overthinking…I understand being proud of previous works, or thinking that a previous work could genuinely help the reader, but this went overboard.

“I will probably read any other book she puts out, especially if it is in the same format as this one. It’s very reader friendly, and the illustrations are a lot of fun. I just hope that the next book focuses more on the topic of that book, and less on promoting previous books by her. Overall 2.5 stars. “

7 Impossible: My Story by Stan Walker (HarperCollins, $39.99)

8 Her Say by Jackie Clark (Penguin Random House, $35)

Survivors of domestic abuse tell their stories to Aunties founder Jackie Clark.

9 The Book of Overthinking by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)

Better than The Book of Angst (see above).

10 Hiakai by Monique Fiso (Penguin Random House, $65)

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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