For those of you who don’t get the Doubtless Bay Times, here’s the latest lore from the Kaitaia Library. Enjoy!

Did you know that the library is constantly purchasing new books? About ten years ago we outgrew our present space on Melba Street, meaning that every time a new book entered the library—and we receive several boxes of new items most weeks— we had to weed out older books. We welcome the opportunity to spread out into an expanded area at Te Ahu early next year. We’ll still be weeding old titles but perhaps not quite as ruthlessly as we’ve had to this last decade.

Di Morrissey writes a novel a year. Each one takes place in a unique location, which the author has taken the time to personally explore and research. I recently finished reading Morrissey’s Monsoon, which was set inVietnam. I’ve never visited Vietnam but I must admit I read the book because our daughter had the privilege of visiting this friendly and inspiring country on a school trip last December.

Having lived four years in America, I’ve seen first hand the impact the Vietnam War has had on veterans of the war and on the American populace overall.

Monsoon follows the present day exploits of two young Australian women in Vietnam. One of these women,Sandy, has just completed a four year stint with a non-profit aid organization called HOPE. The other is her visiting childhood friend. Sandy’s father served in the Vietnam War and he stoically carried home the emotional scars of that experience when he returned to Australia and established a family.

Tom Ahearn, former Aussie Vietnam War correspondent, returns to the country in preparation for the 40th anniversary of the battle of Long Tan (I hope Morrissey wasn’t referring to soldiers getting a lot of sun during there time there). It was this battle that emotionally debilitated Sandy’s father.

Monsoon is a beautifully spun tale, weaving the reader through lush backwaters and modern Asian cities. Morrissey explores the emotional landscape of her characters with the empathy and understanding of a woman. Yet, in my view, this is not just a woman’s book. This is a story for anyone interested in the resurgence of Vietnam since it was so devastated during the ill-conceived war of the 60s and 70s. In my mind, Di Morrissey writes in a manner reminiscent of Neville Shute. Her books are good stories, simply told in a style that touches the heart. Shute’s stories reflected his deep values of goodness found in the ‘ideal man’. Morrissey too seeks and finds goodness in her character depictions—important stuff in a literary and media world often over-imbued with sex and violence. All thirteen of her novels can be found in the Far North District Council libraries, including her latest, The Plantation.

Ildefonso Falcones has penned an epic period novel in Cathedral of the Sea. Translated into English in 2008 from its original Spanish, the book captures in heart-rending detail the sights, sounds, smells, cruelty and compassion of fourteenth-century feudal Barcelona. The reader is instantly drawn into a story of friendship, revenge, plague, hope, love and war. Beautifully written and translated, the international bestseller Cathedral of the Sea is highly recommended reading for lovers of historical fiction.

There’s one more book I’d like to mention. The Auschwitz Violin is another fictional work recently translated into English. It’s a small book with big impact, transporting the reader to a time of almost unbelievable cruelty and equally enormous hope and courage. I won’t give the story away, but I do recommend this inspirational tale of one man’s refusal to surrender his dignity in the face of the atrocities of perhaps the most notorious concentration camp of wartime Europe.

The Kaitaia Public Library onMelba Streetis open Monday to Friday from 9-5 and Saturdays from 9-1. Come in and meet our friendly, helpful staff and browse our full and diverse collection of books and other media materials.

John P. Haines

Kaitaia Public Library

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit:

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews


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