Check out the reviews in our new Stamp of Approval series.

Stamp of Approval is a series of reviews from the Dunedin Public Libraries. It covers books, eBooks, and eAudiobooks in the library collection, as well as movies from the Beamafilm online library.

Shirley reviews The Starless Sea, written by Erin Morgenstern and published by Harvill Secker.

This is the second book by Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. The cover is very attractively presented to entice the reader into a world of books and magic.

We follow university student Zachary Ezra Rawlins on a dangerous quest into another world in search of The Starless Sea and many other things – like why his personal story is in an old book he found in the library…

The main story is interspersed with fable-like fragments, which the reader tries to link and decipher. Time moves back and forth, too, which can be somewhat confusing.

There are lots of puzzles involving books, swords, keys, owls, and bees; a bit of romance; some unusual characters; many references to books (Narnia, Harry Potter, The Shadow of the Wind – to name a few); and everywhere there are doorways leading to other times and places.

If you’re happy to go along for the ride, you’ll enjoy the descriptive writing and marvel at the extraordinary imagination of the young author.

The Starless Sea

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You can also check out The Starless Sea on our catalogue.

Michelle reviews the eAudiobook version of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

Following on from the award-winning Handmaid’s Tale, it shares the stories of three women as they recount their experiences and bear witness to the horrors of Gilead.

Stamp of Approval - Michelle reviews The Testaments by Margaret Atwood dunedinlibraries

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For more about The Testaments, check out the DPL catalogue.

Dianne from South Dunedin Library reviews the Dark-Hunter series

This series features more than 30 fantasy/paranormal romance novels written by Sherrilyn Kenyon and published by Tor.

Dianne says:

One of my customers told me I needed to read Sherrilyn Kenyon (an author I hadn't gotten to). It didn't take me very long to get hooked and start going through her books as fast as I could get my hands on them.

After finishing one whole series, I started on Dark-Hunter – who doesn't like reading about mythology mixed into present day. What I've really enjoyed is that each book is about one particular Dark-Hunter – you follow them on their journey and learn why they became a dark hunter. Yes, I have read the series out of order, something I don't usually do.

We can see the close bond Acheron (Ash) has with all his men and the dealings he has with Artemis, so that he can give them back their souls when they find that special someone. None of them know the sacrifices that Archeron must endure so that they can each have their happy ending.

We follow the journey of each dark hunter and how they intertwine together. Fighting to keep humanity safe and also to keep the gods safe and from killing each other. As I was reading each book, I felt really invested in them – you could see the deep bonds of friendship and the unlikely relationships between each fraction.

I'm about halfway through the series and can't wait to keep reading on. If you enjoy Fantasy, give this author a go – some of the books are rather fat but you do get some smaller books in between.

Sherrilyn Kenyon novels

Check out Dark-Hunter novels on our catalogue.

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Philip reviews Studio 54: The Documentary

Directed by Matt Tyrnauer

Starring Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell

I will always remember arriving in New York and ascending from the underground to discover another world. Planet NY.

Step into Studio 54, a nightclub in New York City. Opening in 1977 at the height of disco, it was set up by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell. This documentary details the story of their lives and what drove them to create this vision. It explores how successful Studio 54 became and how its excessive highs brought about its downfall in just 3 years.

Studio 54 was a new world, a new freedom, the birth of the celebrity and the magic of disco. Schrager and Rubell created a theatrical escape, a place for people to come, an event for people to experience. For one New Year’s party, they had 4 tonnes of glitter on the dance floor

With a very strict entry policy – you had to be either very famous or very stunning to get in – it became world famous as the place to be and to be seen, and the paparazzi were created!

Of course, too many highs and something has to crash – an alienated crowd denied entry, lacking an actual liquor licence, not declaring taxes and huge amount of drugs and cash in their safe brought the cops calling.

As an interesting aside, the documentary also show the burning of disco records in baseball stadiums in middle America.

The freedom, the creativity, the idea of being able to be who you really are, or to escape into another world reminded me of my own somewhat small experience of this. When I was an art student in London a long time ago, Voguing was a thing for about a year. Having come over from America, these events were created at the Hippodrome, Leicester Square, where people would dress up in outrageous clothes and Vogue on the runway. I have a memory of dressing up in a black bin liner in an underground station on the Circle line. I have no idea what the theme could have been!

Studio 54: The Documentary

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Library members can watch Studio 54: A Documentary on Beamafilm.

Eryn reviews Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Eryn's book review focuses on Tin Man, a well-written, affecting portrayal of relationships, sexuality, and coping with loss.

Stamp of Approval - Eryn reviews Tin Man by Sarah Winman dunedinlibraries

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Check out our catalogue for more about Tin Man.

Lauren reviews the movie What We Did On Our Holiday

This charming film is full of wit and humour. It follows a family of five struggling to keep it together: parents Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike), who are in the midst of a tense separation, and their children Lottie, Mickey and Jess. Despite the trying times, the family drive to Scotland for Doug’s dying father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) 75th birthday party, thrown by Doug’s wealthy micromanaging brother, Gavin (Ben Miller).

While Tennant and Pike do justice to the roles of embattled parents trying to hold things together, it is the enchanting combination of the curious and insightful three children with their wise and humourous grandfather Gordie that really captures you. Gordie refuses to take life too seriously, finding more in common with his inquisitive grandchildren than his preoccupied sons. When the children are faced with a challenging situation, it becomes clear none of the bickering adults will listen, so they adventurously take matters into their own hands.

This film uniquely engages the audience to see things in the simple way children do, delightfully offsetting the backdrop of the complex and strained adult relationships surrounding them. It is equal parts refreshing and uplifting, and well worth the watch.

What We Did On Our Holiday

What We Did On Our Holiday was directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin.

Find out more about our digital library and membership offerings.

Library members can watch What We Did On Our Holiday on Beamafilm.

Shirley reviews The Long Call written by Ann Cleeves

This is the first in a new series by prolific and very successful British mystery writer, Ann Cleeves. Readers will know and love her from the Shetland and Vera Stanhope series.

From the first line we know we're in the hands of a skilful writer. We are introduced to the main character Detective Matthew Venn, a quiet, thoughtful and troubled man. He and his husband have come to live where Matthew grew up, as a part of a strict Brethren community. A body is found and we are immediately plunged into the elemental North Devon setting.

Well-rounded and diverse characters are interwoven with the plot, some taking their turn as the voice of a chapter. I especially enjoyed Matthew's associate Jen Rafferty, a single mother with 2 children and a complicated backstory. The investigation quickly focuses on 'The Woodyard', a centre of community enterprises mixed with supported facilities for vulnerable adults, managed by Matthew's caring and dedicated husband.

Lots of red herrings and the relentless building of tension make this a very satisfying read.

The Long Call was published by Pan MacMillan.

The Long Call by Anne Cleeves

Find out more about our digital library and membership offerings.

Find The Long Call on our catalogue.
Borrow the eBook version via the BorrowBox app in our digital library.
Or check out the eAudiobook version via BorrowBox:

Josh reviews The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a movie directed by Terry Gilliam.

Josh's creative (musical) take on the movie follows the out there exploits of advertising director Toby (Adam Driver), as he attempts to make his film, and its effects on a Spanish village.

Stamp of Approval - Josh reviews The Man Who Killed Don Quixote dunedinlibraries

Library members can watch The Man Who Killed Don Quixote on Beamafilm

Find out more about our digital library and membership offerings via our website.

Tracey reviews The Eighth Life written by Nino Haratischvili.

A mammoth of a book with 934 pages...I am up to page 431.

The story starts at the beginning of the twentieth century on the edge of the Russian Empire. A family of chocolate makers prospers and owes its success to a secret hot chocolate recipe.
The recipe is passed on to family members as we learn about their lives and, often doomed, romances.

I thought the book might get bogged down in lots of detail but it doesn't. A good Russian history lesson at the same time!

The Eighth Life was translated from German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, and was published by Scribe Publications.

The Eighth Life - Nino Haratischvili

For more about The Eighth Life, check out our catalogue.
Or borrow the eBook version via BorrowBox.

Find out more about our digital library and membership offerings via our website.

Rozz reviews The Braid by Laetitia Colombani

This well-crafted debut novel follows the lives of three women who appear to be very different in culture, geography (India, Sicily, Canada), and life experience. However, as Colombani weaves her narrative, we come to see that they have much more in common in many ways.

A compact, very satisfying read that left me looking forward to Colombani’s next work.

The Braid was translated from French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and published by Picador.

The Braid

To find out more about our digital library and membership offerings visit our website.

Find The Braid on our catalogue

Jo reviews The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

Stamp of Approval - Jo reviews The Little Friend by Donna Tartt dunedinlibraries

Jo's eAudiobook review focuses on The Little Friend, the second novel from Donna Tartt. Set in 1970s Mississippi, the story revolves around a young girl named Harriet and her search for answers about her older brother's murder.

Find The Little Friend on our catalogue.

Rebecca reviews Full Throttle by Joe Hill

Stamp of Approval - Rebecca reviews Full Throttle by Joe Hill dunedinlibraries

Rebecca's book review focuses on Full Throttle, a collection of short stories from author Joe Hill. Creepy and scary, but always relatable, her favourites included Faun (big game hunters in a fairytale world) and Late Returns (supernatural happenings on a library Bookmobile).
Find Full Throttle on our catalogue. 

To find out more about our digital library and membership offerings visit our website.