Back to top

New Reading from Book Chat

May reads

Hastings Library Book Chat meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 10:30am and the chat is always lively. New members welcome. If you're looking for some book recommendations, you could do worse than this list of books they've enjoyed in the past few weeks.

Letters from the Bay of Islands: the story of Marianne Williams
Marianne Williams arrived in New Zealand with her missionary husband Henry in 1822, along with their three small children. The book is her correspondence home, edited by Caroline Fitzgerald. At the mission station that became her home, Marianne was often a nurse and midwife, while her husband was busy around the region, against a backdrop of unruly whaling crews and warring iwi. A fascinating read about an extraordinary woman.

Charles: the heart of a king by Catherine Mayer
Not knowing a lot about the royal family, our reader was surprised to find this a surprisingly good read. While it isn’t an authorised biography, Catherine Mayer did spend quite some time with the now King as well as interviewing a massive number of friends and associates, even critics. The outcome is that our reader is hugely impressed - Charles comes across as an intelligent and caring monarch.

The Fourth Island by Sarah Tolmie
You can read this novella in a sitting. The island of the title is very remote – a fourth Aran island and a place that offers shelter to the lost or exiled. In fact you can only find it if you are in a state of despair. Whatever language you speak can be understood. A haunting, magical story with a powerful message.

Wife After Wife by Olivia Hayfield
A beach read that’s a complete page turner, retelling the six wives of Henry VIII in a modern setting. Remember the mnemonic: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived? Harry Rose is a wealthy businessman with a long history of tabloid-worthy behaviour. A story of intrigue, infidelity and danger.

Woman of a Certain Rage by Georgie Hall
Eliza can’t help feeling angry. And she’s also hot. She’s always bickering with hubby, Paddy, and at fifty she’s craving some freedom. Surely it’s not too late to make some changes. A menopausal comedy with a very believable heroine, and an altogether very entertaining read.

Exposure by Helen Dunmore
It’s London, 1960, and Simon Callington is accused of passing information to Soviet Russia. His wife Lily thinks he’s a fall guy for a cover up by more powerful men. She could be in danger too, and will do anything to protect her children. A gripping Cold War spy story by an author who is always superb.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
This story follows Jess, who is down on her luck and has escaped a problem in England for Paris to hang out with her journalist brother in his swanky gated apartment. Only he’s missing, and there are signs of violence in his flat. The story jumps around between the other residents who all tell different segments of the story to create a picture of what happened. This reader found Jess a problematic character, but overall enjoyed the book.

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss
While a pandemic sweeps the planet, six young people are engrossed in an archaeological dig in Greenland. It is disturbing uncovering the remains of a Norse society under siege, and their own demons also come to the surface. Uncertainty about the future of the wider world lingers in an intriguing dystopian story that keeps you gripped to the last page.

The Brightest Star by Emma Harcourt
A Renaissance era story set in Florence where a flowering interest in science and the arts is at odds with fundamentalist preacher, Savonarola. Leonarda is a young woman with an interest in astrology and a disappointment to her father. Things get complicated when she meets Nicolaus Copernicus. A compelling story of a free-thinking woman born at a dangerous time.

Babel by R F Kuang
This book was shortlisted for a Nebula Award and is a kind of fantasy crossed with arcane history. It’s 1830s England, and Professor Lowell has brought in young Robin to train as a translator at the Royal Institute of Translation, or Babel. Robin is Chinese and his work makes him feel he is betraying his motherland. The book deals with the price of colonisation and the Opium Wars. Well worth a read.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gamus
Several of our readers have really enjoyed this novel about the changing career of Elizabeth Zott, an aspiring chemistry academic who surprisingly becomes a daytime TV cooking presenter. It’s the early 1960s and women’s lib is still a dream, particularly on the set of Supper at Six. But Elizabeth is going to shake things up a bit. A funny, romantic and thought-provoking novel.

Extenuating circumstances: 22 tales of crime & suspense by Joyce Carol Oates
This is a collection of Oates’s stories from previous out-of-print volumes - an assortment of tales about the human experience when it rubs up against crime. They’re suspenseful stories and a little dark, leaving you with something to think about. And written by a master practitioner of the short-story form.

2 June 2023

Back to Library Blog


Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.00am - 7.00pm
Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9.00am - 7.00pm
Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm
Sunday 1.00pm - 4.00pm

Havelock North

Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm
Sunday 10.00am - 1.00pm


Monday 10.00am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm
Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm

Hastings District Council - Copyright © 2024 Hastings District Council

Disclaimers and Copyright
While every endeavour has been taken by the Hastings District Council to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date, Hastings District Council shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of information on this website. Information contained has been assembled in good faith. Some of the information available in this site is from the New Zealand Public domain and supplied by relevant government agencies. Hastings District Council cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Portions of the information and material on this site, including data, pages, documents, online graphics and images are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary. Externally sourced information or material is copyright to the respective provider.

© Hastings District Council - / +64 6 871 5000 /