I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale. Imagine that your mother tells you she's going away. She is going to leave you with relatives you've never heard of - and they are members of a strict religious cult. Your name is changed, and you are forced to follow the severe set of social standards set by the cult. There is no television, no radio, no newspaper. No mirrors. You must wear long, modest clothes. You don't know where your mother is, and you are beginning to question your own identity.
Project Huia by Des Hunt. Logan's grandfather saw a huia bird in the 1940s when it was thought to be extinct. More than 60 years later, 11-year-old Logan has returned to the Manawatu with Grandpop and a scientist to try and solve the mystery of what happened to the huia. Will the huia still be there, and will its DNA still be valuable for scientific research into NZ's native fauna?
Evie's War by Anna Mackenzie. Edwardian England: for Evie, newly arrived from New Zealand, it proves a genteel world of tea parties, tennis and snobbery – but also of the burgeoning suffragette movement and whispers of change. Drawn into the unimaginable conflict and terror of WWI by a commitment to service and to friendship, Evie moves ever further from the protected world of her childhood.
The Book of Fame by Lloyd Jones. A semi-fictional account of the 1905 All Black tour of Europe-a tour that shaped New Zealand's identity, from which the players returned to find themselves accorded almost god-like status. It is both a tribute to New Zealand's first sporting celebrities, and an investigation into the curious workings of fame. Not just a book for lovers of rugby, The Book of Fame is essentially a story about friendship and loyalty.
Speed Freak by Fleur Beale. Fifteen-year-old Archie Barrington is a top kart driver, aiming to win the Challenge series and its ultimate prize of racing in Europe. He loves the speed, the roar of the engine, the tactics and the thrill of racing to the limits. Craig is his main rival, and there's also Silver, who drives likes she's got a demon inside. Archie knows he'll need all his skill and focus to win. But sometimes, too, you need plain old luck. Can Archie overcome the odds and win?
Bugs by Whiti Hereaka. Meet Bugs: smart, sarcastic, sixteen and stuck in a small town without a driver’s license. Bugs has been best mates with Jez forever. That is until Stone Cold, the new girl, arrives in town. Year 12 was already going to be a challenge without adding spoilt, bitchy Stone Cold to the mix. Why would anyone want to be mates with her? But things are never as they seem on the surface,
The Antipodeans by Greg McGee. From Venice to the South Island of New Zealand, from the assassination of a Gestapo commander in WWII to contemporary real estate shenanigans in Auckland, from political assassination in the darkest days of the Red Brigade to the vaulting cosmology of particle physics, The Antipodeans is a novel of epic proportions where families from the opposite ends of the earth discover an intergenerational legacy of love, blood and betrayal.
Aim High by David Hill. Neale's sport is archery and he is pretty good at it. When Kane and his mates, start rubbishing him, Neale's hot temper gets the better of him. Now he's in a shoot-out with Kane, but that's only the start of his troubles. A sudden landslide cuts the two boys off from help and they realise they have to put aside their differences if they are to survive.
Down The Line: Surfing Stories by John McLean. A collection that emphasises the beauty, freedom, fun and energy of surfing and the laid back nature of the surfer's way of life. Full of ideas, descriptions and weird and wonderful characters to stimulate your desire to ride bigger and more perfect waves.
Conrad Cooper's Last Stand by Leonie Agnew. Conrad Cooper needs a favour. He's just found out about Tane, the god of the forest, and he's decided that Tane is the perfect guy to solve his family problems. After all, the more high-profile gods probably have huge waiting lists, right? In return, Conrad will do anything to repay Tane, no matter how much trouble it causes. But will a Maori god listen to the prayers of a ten-year-old Pakeha boy? And, worse still, does Tane even exist?