Book List: this world – but not as we know it

This year’s winner of the Nielsen Bookshop of the Year Award at the NZ Book Industry Awards was Hawke’s Bay’s own Wardini Books – and we’ve persuaded co-owner Louise Ward to give us some of her top picks in a genre. Lou decided to go for books that are of this world… but not quite as we know it. There’s a magnificent range of titles to check out so read on and get excited!

The Traitor and the Thief, by Gareth Ward

It’s Oxford, but not as we know it. Sin is an orphan, thieving to stay alive. Once recruited into a secret organisation trying to stop the next great war he realises his potential, meets some fantabulous people and discovers his unique abilities may have sinister origins. Gadgets, villains, and a spy in their midst. 9+

Brasswitch and Bot: Rise of the Remarkables, by Gareth Ward

Young engineer Wrench is saved from torture by huge mechanoid Bot, head of Cabal 13. Wrench’s remarkable machine manipulating skills become useful in the war against the terrifying aberrations that have breached a portal between worlds – but is she being used as a weapon against her own kind? Fast, furious and peopled with a cast of truly remarkable beings. 10+

Between, by Adele Broadbent

Olly is a football loving kid with an interest in the supernatural and unexplained. The local strange old lady, Mad Martha, is becoming too interested in him and Olly is drawn into some strange stuff that hurls him down a path he never knew existed. Can Martha really see between worlds? An NZ domestic story that veers deliciously into paranormal territory. 9+

The Kid Who Came From Space, by Ross Welford

Ethan’s twin, Tammy, is missing and only he knows where she is. But how does he explain to his parents, the police and their community that she’s no longer on planet Earth? With the help of Iggy and his trained chicken, Suzy, Ethan goes on a mission to rescue his sister with a less than fragrant alien and a spaceship called Philip. Bravery, friendship and a dangerous mission. Brilliant. 9 +

The Tindims of Rubbish Island, by Sally Gardner

The tiny Tindims live on the floating island they have built over generations from things discarded by the Long Legs (humans). They have their summer celebration coming up but have veered into icy waters and can’t see past Bottle Mountain in order to navigate. It takes some superb left field thinking to fix this problem. A colourful cast of tiny characters and a clear ecological message make for a fun and imaginative story. 6 +

The Good Thieves, by Katherine Rundell

We’re in New York and when Vita hatches a plan to retrieve what has been stolen from her grandfather she meets a thief, an animal whisperer and an acrobat who have the skills needed to form the perfect team. Kids in charge of the action, real danger and a voyage of self-discovery. Perfect. 9+

The Invincibles, by Peter Millet

The kids that always get picked last for the team are having a game of rugby when lightning strikes. This bunch of ‘average’ kids develop amazing superpowers that mean they can right wrongs and winkle out the bad guys – but only for the duration of a rugby match. Fast fun and plenty of humour in this very Kiwi adventure. 7+

Future Girl, by Asphyxia

It’s near-future Melbourne and Piper is the daughter of the scientist who invented a foodstuff called Recon that means people don’t eat wild food anymore. Piper is also deaf and under a great deal of pressure to appear ‘normal.’ When Peak Oil hits, her mother is out of a job and Recon becomes scarce. People starve and the government monitor all communications to quash rebellion. Piper meets the people she needs to uncover lies and conspiracies and set her community on the path to recovery. So many threads to this novel: love, prejudice, activism, conservation and climate change. Brilliant! 13+

Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar, by Clara Vulliamy

Marshmallow Pie is as snooty as cats can be. His young helper, Amelia, is shy but keen to be involved with things and comes up with the perfect plan – Pie will be the superstar in commercials and she will manage him behind the scenes. All told from Pie’s arch point of view with subtle messaging around different sorts of families, personality types, self-acceptance and friendship. 6+

Willow Moss and the Lost Day (Starfell series), by Dominique Valente

Willow is the least powerful witch in her family – she just finds things for people. But when the most powerful witch in all the land needs her help, she realises that she has much more to give. What’s lost? Only last Tuesday! Humour, pathos, adventure and a grand mission. Excellent. 7+

Louise Ward

Louise Ward is a former police officer and teacher, now co-owner of Wardini Books in Havelock North and Napier, finally putting that English Literature degree to relevant use. Wardini Books won the Nielsen Bookshop of the Year award at the 2020 NZ Book Industry Awards, and they are open 24/7 at