Friday, 30 December 2011

Top 5 reasons why 'What I did' by Christopher Wakling is the most disturbing book I've read all year

List by Tosca

Sadly there are no light savers in this story. It is all real. It is about a terrible thing which happens to me. But watch out because the thing you think is the terrible thing isn't really it. Other things come later and they're worse. I'm not going to tell you what they are yet because now isn't the time. That is called suspension.
I also have to warn you that nobody is bad or good here, or rather everyone is a bit bad and a bit good and the bad and good moluscules get mixed up against each other and produce terrible chemical reactions.
Did you know cheetahs cannot retract their claws?
Here is the real beginning."

- Billy Wright in What I did by Christopher Wakling

Tuesday of Christmas weekend was my 'reading' day. I had gone home the Friday beforehand with a huge stack of DVDs and fiction/nonfiction/graphic novels to get through. In my usual fashion I left the books until my last day of the four day weekend and, really, had no clue what I would be getting when reading Wakling's What I did.

Mr. Wright gets the fright of his life when 6 year old Billy runs out into traffic. Angry, concerned and relieved he smacks his son. Hard. A passerby who tried to intervene (and is told to get lost) later calls social services. The fallout is beyond anything Billy and his parents could ever have imagined.

Wakling's What I did is very well-written, hugely topical, greatly interesting and wholly disturbing. Truly. Not because it's a terrible book. In fact, far from it. It's disturbing because the whole time you're wanting adults to ask the RIGHT questions, you're wanting Billy's dad to stop being so close mouthed and speak up, you're wanting Billy's grandma to JUST BE QUIET, you're wanting Billy to stop being so charming and scatter brained (he's 6, I know, I know) and see what social services are getting at, you're wanting social services to stop being so dense and you're wanting Billy's mum something useful (I'm not sure what, she seemed quite spineless) and OH! The frustration just goes on. But never, at any time, is my frustration about the way the book is written or the way everything is handled. Although at times it's very amusing (Billy's rather unusual view of adults and his world around him is informed by nature documentaries), it's not an 'enjoyable' read. And by 'enjoyable' I mean that it's not the kind of book that leaves you with a happy feeling. And maybe that's a part of why I found it so disturbing. Some people will liken What I did to Australian book The slap by Christos Tsialkos but I can't because I haven't read it yet. I have it on request at the moment, but I do wonder if I should have left it for a few weeks so that I won't always have that thought in the back of my mind. If you've read The slap and this one, do let me know! So, long story short - which I could've done in the first place, right? - I really, really (can't stress *really* enough) think this is a darn good read. It's also disturbing. And here's why...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas from the Auckland Libraries team who look after this blog. That's Anne, Tosca and Megan (with contributions from other library staff from time to time).

Auckland Libraries are open through the festive season and to find out more about when you can whip into your local library for some reading or entertainment check out our Library website.

We hope everyone has a fun, safe, relaxing and happy festive season with just the right amount of cheer, some lovely weather and plenty of good times.

Take care.

5 tweets with interesting links you may have missed on our tweetstream

List by Tosca

"oh this is going to be addictive"
- Dom Sagolla, Twitter co-creator

Wow. How BOO is it that this post published before I was ready? Gremlins in the system, geez. A very quick post from me today (go ahead, you can heave a sigh of relief) in which I do very little but highlight some pretty interesting links that went out from/or came across our tweetstream: a pic of Mt. Roskill Library (who've just recently re-opened, and looks awesome, by the way), Google Doodles (yes, I really do mean Google Doodles), short recipes (truly, truly short), Santa Claus, digital media resources, 230 films in 5 mins (it's true!) and Google snow. YES, SNOW! You're welcome :P

Honourable mention:

RT @mtroskillib: Check out our new library #mtroskilllib - stunningly awesome 4 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

Like WHOA. Have just discovered Google keeps all of their Doodles. AND I can view/play with them 2 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Summer Reading for Children - How you can help

We have designed Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure with both children and their parents or caregivers in mind. One of the things that we want to do is help you to help them. And to make it FUN. So here are some tips for the adults about our new summer reading programme.

We have designed Dare to Explore to be as flexible as possible, fitting in with whatever you have planned for the holidays. The Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure runs right through the holidays, and your child can complete as much or as little as they want. It can be done at home, while on holiday, by visiting the library, on the Internet and with friends. You can visit other libraries around Auckland in person, or drop by our website to carry out the online activities and challenges.

Dare to Explore aims to:
* maintain or improve reading skills over the summer holidays

* increase your child's love of books and reading

* help create confident and comfortable library users

* provide a fun adventure that helps children get the most out of the holidays

The key to any visit to the library is that if you can't find what you are looking for, just ask. That's why the librarians are there. Librarians do more than just check out books. We might not know every book in the library, but we can certainly help recommend some and help you find what you are looking for.

We have taken top picks from all of the children's librarians around Auckland to point you at some fantastic new books (and some old favourites). Each of the challenge sets comes with a booklist, and you will find more suggestions here in the Booklists section.

But it's not just about books... we also have collections of music CDs, DVDs, puzzles, games and magazines, as well as a whole world of digital resources for us to help you explore.

We have plenty of other tips to help you. Check them out on our Dare to Explore - Encouraging young readers page

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

School's Out - Dare to Explore

Most schools have now broken up for summer which means there are plenty of kids out there between 5 and 13 who are looking for something to do. Which is where Auckland Libraries come in with Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure.

We have already talked about this a bit on our blog. Maybe you have heard something about it through the school newsletter, or seen it advertised. Let me tell you how it works so that you can be as excited about it as we are.

Over the summer holidays we want you to read, read, read and see if you can complete the Dare to Explore... Your Library challenges. We want you to read every day - even if it's just a little bit. You can choose your own books, or you might choose a book from the challenge lists, or get a librarian to help you pick a book. Check out the Your Library challenges in the Guidebook. You will need to complete at least 4 of the challenges to get a stamp in your Passport. The more you can complete, the better - try and become a Trail Blazer! Visit the Dare to Explore... Your Library pages to find more challenges, helpful hints and great book recommendations

When you have completed at least 4 challenges, visit your library and get one of the friendly librarians to stamp your Passport. Don't forget to bring in anything you'd like to show us from your completed challenges - your photos, bookmarks, crafts, reviews and stories and, of course, tell us about the books you have been reading.

When you've finished doing the Your Library challenges, you will receive a certificate and can come along to the Summer Reading celebration event in your area - check the events page on our website for more details.

But wait - there's more.
For those who want more adventure, we have 5 more sets of challenges to choose from:
Dare to Explore... Your Past, Dare to Explore... The Great Outdoors, Dare to Explore... Go Aqua, Dare to Explore... Our People and Dare to Explore... Get Active. Talk to your librarian about which you'd like to try and they will give you the challenge card. Complete at least 4 of the challenges to get another stamp in your Passport; you can try as many as you like - it's up to you!

As well as the challenges, our website provides lots of other ideas and resources, plus details of all the events and activities being run at all of the Auckland Libraries over summer to support the adventure. Why not check it out and join the fun.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Climbing high across the world

At the top of my summer reading is Wind from a distant summit by Pat Deavoll, who is "New Zealand's leading woman mountaineer". I'm hoping it'll land on my desk just before the Christmas break.

This biography was released by Craig Potton Publishing in October, and it documents Deavoll's adventures as a world-class mountaineer. She has climbed mountains throughout New Zealand and across the world, including the Canadian Rockies, the Himalayas and the Karakorum.

As well as being inspired by her adventurous life, I'm also intrigued to read how she has achieved all this alongside a lifetime of clinical depression.

I'm tentatively picking this book as a winner, or at the very least a finalist, in next year's NZ book awards. And that's without even having read it yet!

Friday, 16 December 2011

5 random six-word memoirs that serve as reasons you should read this book

List by Tosca

"Your heart is my piñata."
- Chuck Palahniuk

Love, as in love for self, family and friends, is a kind of love I understand, and have felt. The happy ever after kind, though, that I don't know, have never felt, do not understand. It's all a bit of a curiosity to me. Twice in my life I considered marriage. Twice in my life I re-considered it. Neither time was I heartbroken or upset. Truth be told, I've been more upset over a melted piece of chocolate. And I'm terribly aware of how awful that sounds. If I'd had to write a six-word memoir about it, I'm certain it would have been an unfeeling and flat piece of text. Without emotion, context or a sense of history. Luckily, I've never had to do so because I'm quite sure it wouldn't even have come close to Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak : By Writers Famous and Obscure. This time around, Fershleiser and Smith have compiled a collection of mini-sagas that explore the highs and lows of love and heartbreak. Six words can say so much. The right six words, though, convey a sense of time, history, emotion and context. Truly. This particular collection is insightful, clever, full of hope and despair, jaded and innocent and all points in between. It's hard to choose just 5 six-word memoirs that moved me (seriously, crying on the bus is becoming such a habit these days, and thank you to the elderly gentleman who offered me tissues), so I've selected a random 5 instead that, I hope, cover the spectrum.

What would your six-word memoir for love and/or heartbreak be?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dare to Explore - LIbrarian's choice Booklist #2

As promised yesterday, here are some recommendations for older or more confident readers from our Dare to Explore Website. You can find out more about any of the books from our catalogue. Once again, like all the lists we have put together from Dare to Explore, these are the favourites from librarians across Auckland. Many are part of a series or are written by an author who has produced several different books. So if you can't find the one listed, there might be something else similar for you to read. Just ask the librarian next time you head into the library.

100 cupboards by Nathan D Wilson
After his parents are kidnapped, timid twelve-year-old Henry York leaves his sheltered Boston life and moves to small-town Kansas, where he and his cousin Henrietta discover and explore hidden doors in his attic room that seem to open onto other worlds.

Alabama moon by Watt Key
After the death of his father, ten-year-old Moon leaves their forest shelter home and is sent to an Alabama institution, becoming entangled in the outside world he has never known and making good friends, a relentless enemy, and finally a new life.

Best friends by Jacqueline Wilson
Gemma and Alice, born on the same day, have been devoted friends ever since. Despite Gemma's larger-than-life personality and Alice's quieter character, the two are inseperable - until that is Alice has to move house, all the way to Scotland.

Danny the champion of the world by Roald Dahl
A young English boy describes his relationship with his father and the special adventure they share together.

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St. John
When orphan Laura goes to live with her uncle in Cornwall, she longs for a life of excitement just like the characters in her favourite detective novels. Life in Cornwall turns out to be full of mysteries, and when Laura finds a message in a bottle she embarks on a quest that will test her detective skills to the limit.

Let me whisper you my story by Moya Simons
Rachel is German and Jewish and living in Leipzig,Germany. Life is good, and revolves around Sabbath meals shared with her happy family. With the outbreak of World War II, their lives are changed. The family are forced to move from their comfortable home into cramped housing, and when the Nazis arrive to finally take the family away they don't know what is to become of them. But Rachel's father gives her instructions that save her life. He also tells her not to speak. Rachel remains quiet for the rest of the war, but what happened to her family? Will Rachel regain her voice now that she really needs it?

Pirate diary : the journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt
Starting in 1716, this describes the adventures of nine-year-old Jake. When pirates capture his ship, Jake finds himself embarking on a new life, on the wrong side of the law. He takes part in a treasure raid, encounters a sea monster, endures a terrible storm and learns about the pirate code.

The phantom tollbooth by Norton Juster
A journey through a land where Milo learns the importance of words and numbers provides a cure for his boredom.

The portal by Andrew Norriss
When your parents disappear it is one of those things that sticks in your mind. Another of those things is the discovery that behind your dad's office door lies an intergalactic portal... When both of these things happen to William Seward and his brother they're left with two questions. What are they going to do now? And where are their parents?

Saffy's angel by Hilary McKay
After learning that she was adopted, thirteen-year-old Saffron's relationship with her eccentric, artistic family changes, until they help her go back to Italy where she was born to find a special momento of her past.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Dare to Explore Booklists - Librarian's choice

As part of Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure, we have put together a whole host of booklists to give children (and parents) some reading ideas for summer. From time to time over summer we will be rolling these out on the Blog. The first couple of lists are part of the Dare to Explore... Your Library challenge and are some of our favourites. Librarians across Auckland contributed to these lists and most of these titles came up multiple times. This list is for the younger reader... check back tomorrow for a list of books for the older or more confident readers.

Big bad raps by Tony Mitton
A collection of rap rhyme retellings of fairy tales which include the Beans talk rap, Fol-de-Rol rap, Huff puff houses and Little Red rap.

The boy who cried ninja by Alex Latimer
When Tim is accused of several misdemeanours no-one believes his side of the story. The truth is unbelievable so will he be able to persuade his parents to believe him?

Dear Fairy Godmother by Michael Rosen
Deep in the enchanted forest, the fairy tale creatures all have problems. Luckily they can call on the ultimate agony aunt - Dear Fairy Godmother!

The duck in the gun by Joy Cowley
The general and his men are about to fire on a town they are at war with. But the Gunner has bad news for the General, they can't load the gun as there is a duck nesting inside it.

Friends : Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley
A collection of stories about the friendship between Snake and Lizard. Snake and Lizard run a helping business, Helper and Helper. The daily adventures of this lovable pair continue as they meet a frog without its croak, a nosy porcupine and many other creatures of the desert - even human things. Although Snake and Lizard argue a lot, they remain the best of friends.

Your pal Mo Willems presents Leonardo the terrible monster by Mo Willems
Leonardo is a terrible monster -- he can't seem to frighten anyone. When he discovers the perfect nervous little boy, will he scare the lunch out of him? Or will he think of something better?

The naughty corner by Colin Thompson
Sometimes it gets pretty crowded in the naughty corner ... Babies George and Cleopatra, 14-year-old Peter, 38-year old Brian, Nigel the cat, Credence the dog, and Monique, the yellow bird all of them have spent time in the naughty corner. It's meant to make them think about their behaviour, but they've turned it into a place to have fun.

Press here by Hervé Tullet
Press here. That's right. Just press the yellow dot...and turn the page. This irresistible picture book is ideal for sharing with children and has created a sensation worldwide.

Shark in the park! by Nick Sharratt
Through his telescope a little boy keeps seeing what seems to be a shark in the park, but by turning the page the reader can see and identify the whole object.

Who's in the loo? by Jeanne Willis
Who's in the loo? There's a very long queue. Is it an elephant doing a poo?' If your house has many occupants, then this witty rhyme from the irreverent and observant pen of Jeanne Willis will resonate profoundly. Adrian Reynolds's exuberant illustrations highlight the fun.

If you want to check out all the lists head over to the Dare to Explore pages on our website.

And our Auckland Libraries Facebook page has some photos of the launch event held at Highland Park on Monday.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Grammy shortlist for Best Spoken Word album

Who knew the Grammys have an award for Best Spoken Word Album? (I found out through a recent post on EarlyWord : The Publisher Librarian Connection)

I'm not too surprised to see that Tina Fey's Bossypants is on the list, as the print version spent weeks on the US Bestseller Lists.

Tina Fey seems to be one those actresses that polarises people, you either love or loathe her. I'm on the fence as I haven't actually seen much that she is in, but I think I might give her audio book a listen on the way to work.

Dare to Explore STARTS TODAY

Registrations for Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure open today. Some people have been extremely quick off the mark and we already have a number of children registered for the challenge.

The beauty of this new programme is that you can register for Dare to Explore at any time throughout the holidays. Just fill in the form on this sign up page, and then come into your local library to pick up your Dare to Explore pack - you're on your way! You can also pop into your library and sign up in person.

When you are signing up, have a look at the Events that are happening in your local library (or if you are going away, see if there is anything happening at a library near you).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Top 5 kids/baby photography books you need in your life now right now!

List by Tosca

"Children reinvent the world for you."
- Susan Sarandon

This is my nephew Algonquin. Ok, no, that's *not* his real name, but I don't like his real name, and this is the one *I* wanted him to have (like I have a say, pfft) so it's what I call him when his mother (my sister) isn't around :P ANYWAY, as I was saying, this is my nephew Algonquin. He smiles lots. He always cries when he's on me. (For some reason my siblings find this hilarious, ergo, siblings are evil). He is a baby. Babies = Cute, tiny, adorable, squishy, giggly, gummy, gooey and lots of other G words I can't think of. They can do pretty much whatever they want, and they're cute. Yes, even when you discover that dried snot *can* run from their nose up to their temple. Amazing/scary/impressive feat! His head isn't really this big. I took a bad photo that accidentally made it look this huge. Everybody loves pics of babies. EVERYBODY. And should you decide to document your child's life in pictures, well, we can help :) WE HAZ BOOKS. Specifically, books that provide some great tips and ideas for photographing babies and/or kids. So much my head spins. *stern look* Don't take pics like I do. Request/read the books, take note of the tips, and ensure you don't make your baby's head look even more ginormous than it should. This is a case in point! POOR BABY ALGONQUIN.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dare to Explore - Auckland Libraries Summer Reading Adventure

It summer (well... it's supposed to be). And that means holidays and sun and time for us to launch our NEW summer reading programme to Auckland. We want you to have fun, get to know your library and read and learn something new and exciting! That's why we are going to challenge you to explore your library and your city. Welcome to Dare to Explore.

Over the summer holiday we want you to read, read, read and see if you can complete the Dare to Explore challenges, starting with Dare to Explore... Your Library.

For those who want even more adventures, there are 5 more challenge sets for you to choose from...

  • Dare to Explore... Your Past

  • Dare to Explore... The Great Outdoors

  • Dare to Explore... Go Aqua

  • Dare to Explore... Our People

  • Dare to Explore... Get Active

It's FREE to sign up and start exploring! The adventure is open to Auckland kids aged 5 - 13 years and runs from 12 December 2011 to 27 January 2012. There is no limit to the number of children who can register and they can register at any time, right up to the end of the adventure. Register online or at your local library from the 12th of December, and then collect your Dare to Explore pack at the library to begin.

Activities can be done at home, on holiday, at the library, through the internet and with friends. Many of our libraries are running special activities and events over summer as part of Dare to Explore. We are really excited about the scale and potential this programme has to reach the children and families in Auckland. So spread the word, check out the Dare to Explore page on our website and get ready to have some fun.

Monday, 5 December 2011

What will the world look like by 2050?

While I'm not sure I'll still be here by 2050, I am certain that it's going to be a very different place than the world I live in now.

One book that landed on my desk last week is The world in 2050 : four forces shaping civilization's northern future by Laurence C. Smith.

Why I picked it up: I'm interested in "what might the future be like?" books and this one was recommended as readable and thought-provoking.

Who I'd recommend it to : anyone who has read Guns, Germs, and Steel or Collapse by Jared Diamond.

Friday, 2 December 2011

5 reasons you should check out Bakerella's book/website and make cake pops!

List by Tosca

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
- Jim Davis

Angie Dudley. Bakerella. Cake pops! No idea what I'm talking about? Then I'm about to school you. Earlier this week I spotted a mention of cake pops on a friend's Facebook status update, and loved it. Absolutely. Loved. It. You can see a pic of her cake pops to the left :) So, what exactly is a cake pop? It's a little cake that sits on a stick. Doesn't seem like much when I put it like that, does it? Give it to Angie Dudley and my Facebook friend, though, and they turn it into a work of art. If you don't believe me, then check out her hugely popular site. Initially, I was afraid to even look at the instructions because they look complicated. Reader comments, though, all talk about how simple the process really is. How could you not want to see it/make it/touch it/eat it? I was desperately wanting to get my hands on a copy of her book. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for Bakerella), every copy is out :( So I did the next best thing, and popped on over to and was blown away by what you can do with a bit of cake and a stick. (No, that's not a euphemism). Don't take my word for it, though. Below the fold you'll be able to find out a bit more about the book.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Kirkus Books releases their Best of 2011 Lists

While Christmas and New Year's Eve are still a few weeks away, the "best of 2011" book lists have already begun to appear. Pity the poor author/illustrator/editor who publishes in December, as they won't ever make the list!

Kirkus Reviews - with the tagline "The World's toughest book critics since 1933" - have begun to drip-feed its best of lists onto their website, beginning with Fiction and Children's. Other lists, including Best Book App, will appear over the coming weeks.

So far I've only read four from the 2011 Best Fiction list - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Magician King by Lev Grossman, Embassytown by China Mieville, and Open City by Tenju Cole. Although I have now put some other titles on hold for summer reading.

Of the four books, I would highly recommend both Open City and Embassytown.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Top 5 Team Chest romance covers I saw in Acquisitions

List by Tosca

"She was carrying two coffees and a donut bag, and right then and there, he fell in love."
- from Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis (you *have* to check out the cover for this back, it's total Team Back AND he has a dog - awww!)

One lighthearted post for today coming up. The subject of today's post? Team Chest - romance novel covers that are all about the chest, and nothing but the chest. I wanted to see what new books had come in recently so hotfooted it down to parley with our Acquisitions staff a little ways down the road, and came away with a head full of titles to search for back at my desk. 5 of which make this list. The things I do for your entertainment, people! So...when can I do this again?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Did she do it?

I've just started Alice la Plante's debut novel, Turn of Mind, about Dr Jennifer White, a retired orthopedic surgeon who is struggling with early onset dementia. When her best friend Amanda O'Toole is found murdered, with four of her fingers surgically removed, Jennifer is a key suspect.

Why I picked it up : "Is the perfect murder the one you can't forget or the one you can't remember?" - the promotional tagline caught my eye.

Who I'd recommend it to : To anyone who has read Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

It won the The Wellcome Trust Book Prize 2011.

Friday, 18 November 2011

5 questions I failed in 'The Man Test: How Manly Are You?'

List by Tosca

I am not a man. I don't say that to surprise people, or even to surprise myself. I say it's true. I'm not a man. And yet I was still disappointed to find that I failed some (most) of the questions in Dodenhoff's book The man test: How manly are you? Apparently, not very. Not at all, actually. It wasn't that I expected to pass them all. It's that I hate to fail a test. Any test. It doesn't matter if the test isn't really meant for me, I just don't want to fail it. I daresay it's a hangover from being somewhat (a whole chunk) of a girly swot as a toddler/child/teen/adult. Don't let my psuedo-failings stop you from reading the book, though. I was greatly entertained by some of the questions, even if my answers were (more often than not) a variation of, "There's no way you'd catch me there in the first place so that doesn't apply." Dodenhoff's book is more about being prepared for whatever life can throw at you - weddings, domestic skills, negotiating job salary, etc. What was it John Lennon said? "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." Amen. So, maybe I won't end up being chased by a bear, and maybe I won't ever need to know what a master cylinder is, but it doesn't hurt that I read about it. Test over, and I am no closer to being a man. Perhaps you'll do better than I did :) Here are five (only five - I couldn't put the whole book here) questions I failed...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Vegetarian cookbooks to be inspired by

A friend recently tweeted that she needed some advice as she had unexpected vegetarian dinner guests arriving. I was a little puzzled. Surely cooking vegetarian isn't *that* hard, or indeed that unusual, these days.

Perhaps all she really needed was a little inspiration from some new(ish) vegetarian cookbooks, such as :

  • Meat free Monday Cookbook by Paul, Stella & Mary McCartney. Following on from the campaign to get people in the UK to not eat meat at least one day per week, this cookbook has a whole year's worth of delicious "meat free Monday" menus (from breakfast to pudding).

  • Plenty and Ottolenghi: the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, based on Ottolenghi's new vegetarian columns in The Guardian as well as loads of recipes from the London Ottolenghi restaurants.

  • Rowan Bishop's Vegetarian Kitchen by Rowan Bishop, a New Zealander who has been writing about vegetarian cooking for ages, and has filled this new book with fantastic favourites as well as plenty of new dishes.

  • So next time you need some vegetarian inspiration, or perhaps you want to try something new, or even be prepared for those unexpected dinner guests, take a look at the vegetarian cooking section (start browsing from 641.5636 in the nonfiction section at your nearest library).

    Wednesday, 16 November 2011

    Hot new and recommended teen books for November 2011

    "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."
    — Frederick Douglass

    YAY Alannah (Howick Library) for today's post that consists of teen recommendations and reviews! Read, enjoy and request.

    Title: Beauty queens by Libba Bray
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Year of publication: 2011

    Adventure, Chick lit. Beauty queens, just published this year, does not seem like Libba Bray's normal historical romance fodder. This was the first time I'd read one of her books and, I have to say, I had huge doubts about reading a book about beauty queens. Boosted by the encouragement of others I dubiously picked it up and began to read. Whatever I had been expecting, it certainly wasn't for the book to be fabulous by a country mile. There literally were LOLs. Beauty queens is a hilarious tale about a bunch of Miss Teen Dream pageant contestants trying to survive on a deserted island after their plane goes down in the middle of the ocean – tragically killing all of the aids and adults, and some of the competition. It is up to the group of 14 pageant contestants to survive on the supposedly deserted island, get themselves rescued and keep up their Miss Teen Dream routines. Of course! Bray has a really dry wit in this book and her use of footnote and interview writing techniques really highlight this. Bray juggles the main characters by focusing chapters on each of the girls. Although the book is set mainly in the third person, Bray has mixed up the form a bit by slipping in documentary/interview techniques which allows us some insight into the characters' personality and motivations. I really liked this book and Bray does well to remind you that not everything is as it seems; you should never judge a person solely on their exterior, and never a judge a book by it's cover!

    There’s a little book humour for you there :)

    Title: Underground by Chris Morphew
    Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
    Year: 2011

    Thriller, Conspiracy, Action, Paranormal. Take a bow, Chris Morphew. Talk about being blown away! The Phoenix Files series has been one of the finds of the year. If you are in any way interested in the thriller/conspiracy genre, or even if you're not and would like to perhaps branch out, then this is the series you should request. Underground is the 4th book in the Phoenix Files. I was put onto this series by a children’s librarian who was really impressed by a talk given about these books by their author, Morphew. Backed with this fantastic endorsement, and the impression the series was a fusion of thriller/action/paranormal, I naturally ran (with elbows out) to the Teen corner of Howick library, pulled the first book of the series - Arrival - off the shelf, and requested the 2nd and 3rd books as well. The series begins with Luke's arrival in Phoenix with his mother. Luke hates his new life in the hick town in the middle of nowhere, with no friends and without his dad. Luke soon teams up with Peter and Jordan, and, soon, they share a persistent and horrifying feeling that all is not well in Phoenix. But they are the only ones who do so. No one else wonders why there aren't any more in or out going flights from Phoenix airport, or why there aren't any internet or telephone lines to the world outside of Phoenix. The trio soon have more disturbing questions - who is Tabitha? - and a feeling that time is quickly running out.

    While all the books are written in first person, Morphew changes between the protagonists with each book offering a deeper insight into each of the characters. What makes this series really outstanding is the suspense Morphew manages to sustain throughout the series. Let's just say that with these books I found myself up at 3 in the morning reading on a school night!! Alright, well, a work night, but the principle is the same. I just could not put them down and now I wait, in suspended agony, until the next book comes out. Chris Morphew, you rock!

    Title: Texas gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
    Publisher: Delacorte Press
    Year: 2011

    Paranormal. This is the latest offering from Rosemary Clement-Moore, and I have to say, in a time where paranormal books are in diabolical excess, that I quite enjoyed reading this one. This book differs from her others; I say this thinking of Highway to Hell and Prom Dates from Hell. In Gothic Texas, R.C.M's characters are less superficial and have been fleshed out more and I can't help but feel that this is a more grown up and much better R.C.M. If you are a bit like me and find it hard to completely buy into the whole paranormal vampires/werewolves fantasy realm, then this is a good go between; R.C.M writes in a more believable/down-to-earth but humourous approach.

    Amy Goodnight comes from the infamous Goodnight family. The infamous magical Goodnight family. Amy tries hard to keep her normal world of university and friends colliding with her definitely un-normal family world. While house sitting her kooky aunt's ranch in Texas, the precarious balance between worlds comes crashing down, as Amy becomes aware that there is something on the ranch with her that isn't her sister, the goats, or her dearly, long since, departed Uncle. Something that will not leave the Goodnight farm until Amy helps; at least she hopes that's what it wants. Thrown into the mix is her waifish sister, the grouchy, but unbelievably hot cowboy from next door and a couple of skeletons (literally and figuratively) and what's not to love! Plus the book is full of quirky little things I would love to have – 'Goodnight Farms' Clear Your Head Shampoo' which specialises in untangling hair and any thorny issues in your mind.

    Title: Grammar Girl's 101 misused words you'll never confuse again by Mignon Fogarty
    Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
    Year: 2011

    Nonfiction. I saw almost immediately that this book was going to be surprisingly helpful to me. I’d only read half a page in the introduction, the introduction!! before I learned I’d been saying the wrong thing all my life – how embarrassing. Fortunately for me, since it was the authors’ own example, I clearly wasn’t the only one to have made this mistake. You have not snuck round behind the school hall, you have sneaked. I must admit I felt somewhat vindicated in saying snuck all these years when she said it was now almost completely on par in acceptability and usage with sneaked in America. Judging from my own experience, this is perhaps a book that you should read quietly on your own, so no one sees your red face upon realising you’ve committed several mortifying social faux pas and no one has told you. She manages to make the book interesting and mainstream by providing examples of what to say and how to from current T.V shows and movies. Well done.

    Remember! All of these books are new and highly recommended so don't delay and request, request, request today!
    Too cheesy?
    You love it!
    - Alannah :)

    Monday, 14 November 2011

    Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards 2011 Winners

    2011 is the third year of the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards, which were established by Massey University in 2009 to mark Māori Language Week, and to celebrate and encourage excellence in Māori publishing. This year's awards celebrates several "firsts".

    It is the first time that the fiction prize has been awarded, for Once upon a time in Aotearoa by Tina Makereti.

    It is also the first time that the Te Reo Māori award has been presented, to Chris Winitana who has written about the revitalisation of the Māori language in Tōku reo, Tōku Ohooho: ka whawhai tonu mātou, which has also been published into English as My Language, My Inspiration: the struggle continues.

    The awards for this year’s winners will be presented on November 29, 2011 at a ceremony at Te Pūtahi-a-toi, Massey University’s School of Māori Studies in Palmerston North. There will also be a special award for Mana Magazine, which published its 100th issue in May 2011.

    You can read the full press release here.

    Saturday, 12 November 2011

    Being funny can win you a prize!

    The 2011 winners of the The Roald Dahl Funny Prize have been announced.

    Cats Ahoy! by Peter Bentley and Jim Field won the The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under category.

    The brilliant world of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon won the The Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen category.

    I love the fact that there is a prize for books that tickle your funny bone. What a great celebration of laughing out loud with a good book!

    Friday, 11 November 2011

    Top 5 most downloaded eAudiobooks

    List by Tosca

    "I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves."
    - E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951

    We have eBooks! Those of you who haven't explored our website to that depth, yet (I have faith you will), will find those two previous eBook-related posts here and here. What you may not know is that we also have eAudiobooks. An eAudiobook is a fancy pants name for an audiobook that you can download and listen to on your pc (or mobile device). Our eBooks and eAudiobooks are referred to on our website as 'downloadable media.' If you've never downloaded an eAudiobook before it can be a teensy bit confusing, so make sure you read through both the General FAQs and the eAudiobook FAQs before you start. Feel free to check out the Guided tour - a self-paced online tour to browsing, downloading, and listening to eAudiobooks - as well. And, as usual, if you have any questions - ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL - email me! Today's list: Our top 5 most downloaded eAudiobooks :)

    Honourable mention:
  • Cause of death by Patricia Cornwell - book 7 in the Kay Scarpetta series, mystery, thriller, fiction
  • At home : a short history of private life by Bill Bryson - history, sociology, nonfiction
  • Mindfulness for beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn - religion, spirituality, nonfiction
  • The hunger games by Suzanne Collins - book 1 in The Hunger Games series, science fiction, thriller, young adult fiction
  • Eat that frog! : 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time by Brian Tracy - Self-improvement, nonfiction

  • Wednesday, 9 November 2011

    Award winners - a useful tool for choosing what to read?

    There's plenty awards around, at both national and international level, whether it's for movies, music or books. Does it influence what you watch, read, listen to?

    For me, the longlist and the shortlist of various book awards means a lot. Someone else has gone to the trouble of pre-reading a book for me, and making a judgement call. It saves me the time of reading *everything* published in a given year, or genre, and let's me start with some of the best books.

    So, a shortlist for an award either gives me a ready-made list of titles, authors and/or illustrators that I might be interested in (if I have enjoyed books that have won the award previously), or it gives me a list of books to avoid (if I haven't enjoyed previous award winning titles).

    I've learnt that I generally don't enjoy books that have won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, but I often enjoy books that have won the Commonwealth Book Prize. I have a friend who is the complete opposite to me - she actively seeks out anything on the Man Booker Prize shortlist.

    Some 2011 book award winners include

  • Blue Smoke by Chris Bourke - New Zealand Post Book of the Year

  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - The Man Booker Prize for Fiction

  • Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis - The Hugo Award

  • The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna - Commonwealth Writers' Prize

  • So, does it make a difference for you when you see "award winner" on the front of a book cover?

    Monday, 7 November 2011

    Waiting in anticipation ...

    Almost 25 years ago, Chris van Allsburg delighted us with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, full of black and white pencil drawings of interesting and improbable scenarios. It's been an ongoing mystery, who is/was Harris Burdick, and what's the meaning behind the fourteen images and their crytic captions?

    Although the mystery is unlikley be solved with the upcoming book, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, I still can't wait to devour the short stories, which are based on the 14 original images, by outstanding authors such as Stephen King, Kate DiCamillo, Louis Sachar, Linda Sue Park, Alexie Sherman, Lois Lowry and M.T. Anderson.

    If you've not yet discovered Chris van Allsburg, then head to your library to get your hands on a copy today.

    Friday, 4 November 2011

    Top 5 for Friday - 5 events you shouldn't miss in November

    The What's On e-newsletter arrived in my Inbox this week and it has a number of events that shouldn't be missed. Here are a selection:

    1. Deer, Pigs and a little bit of Bull. Whangaparaoa Library. Saturday 5 November @ 2.00pm. Come along and enjoy a warm beverage as local author Graeme Mackie discusses his latest book. "Tall tales of diggers, drivers, hunters and fishermen. Yarns about pigs, dogs and rifles, about horses and men. And after every adventure, there's plenty of cold beer to wet the whistle". The vast majority of the tales within are based on factual events.

    2. A home-grown cook: the Dame Alison Holst Story. At Orewa, St Heliers and Auckland Central Libraries. Spend some time with Alison Holst, New Zealand's groundbreaker in the culinary world as she tours Auckland and talks about her new memoir. "Dame Alison Holst holds more titles than her damehood suggests: she's been invariably described as 'Mother of the Nation', 'Queen of the Kitchen' and 'a groundbreaker in the culinary world'. In the sixties, Dame Alison singlehandedly changed the way women prepared food for their families with her legendary television programme 'Here's How'. She went on to become a prodigious fund-raiser for Plunkett, the chocolate-coated voice of radio, author of a hundred bestselling cookbooks, a successful business brand, as well as our favourite promoter of New Zealand products overseas. In A Home-grown Cook, Alison Holst's fascinating memoir unfolds with the characteristic charm and calm spirit that is so familiar to us all. From a modest upbringing in Dunedin to becoming one of our most endearing Kiwi icons, A Home-gown Cook brilliantly captures Dame Alison's distinctive voice on every page."

    3. Bargain Book Sale. Central City Library. 21 - 27 November. Get books, CDs, magazines and kids books at amazing prices at the biannual bargain book sale with many items at $1 each. It's on for a week unless stocks get depleted before then (unlikely as I have seen the number of boxes stored in the basement).

    4. An hour with Erica James. Takapuna Library. Tuesday 8 November @ 6.00pm. Presented by the Library and Hachette New Zealand, you are invited to hear much-loved international writer Erica James talk about her latest book The Real Katie Lavender. "Katie Lavender has always thought she was pretty unshockable, until a year after her mother's death she receives a letter from a solicitor telling her that the man she thought was her father, in fact wasn't. Her real father, a man named Stirling Nightingale, has for years been building a trust fund for her. And now she's of an age to collect it."

    5. Unlock the Past - A tour of the Central City Family Research Centre. Two dates available. Don't miss this chance to listen to top family history speakers Chris Paton, Rosemary Kopittke, Shauna Hicks, Perry McIntyre and Richard Reid. Then our very own Seonaid Lewis will take you on a tour of the Research Centre which holds one of the most comprehensive family history collections in the Southern Hemisphere. Bookings essential.

    Of course these aren't the only things happening in Libraries around Auckland in November. So either check out our Events Listing on the website or sign up for our What's On E-newsletter to stay up to date. There will be heaps happening in the libraries over summer, so now is a really good time subscribe.

    Tuesday, 1 November 2011

    Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) longlist announced

    While you might not remember the name of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, you should recognise her well-known character, Pippi Longstocking, the feisty red-head with freckles, from your childhood.

    Astrid Lindgren passed away in 2002, and since 2003, the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) has been awarded in her memory.

    This annual award is presented to authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and those active in reading promotion work, and may be presented to a single recipient or to several, regardless of language or nationality, and recognises their lifelong body of work. Previous authors to win include Maurice Sendak, Katherine Paterson, Sonya Hartnett and Phillip Pullman. Previous organisations that have won include Venezuela's Banco del Libro and the Tamer Institute based in Ramallah.

    The 2012 longlist of nominees was announced earlier this month, 184 names from 66 countries, and there are two New Zealanders on the list – Joy Cowley and Margaret Mahy. It’s fantastic to see these two New Zealanders recognised amongst the world’s best.

    The 2011 recipient was Shaun Tan, an outstanding Australian author and illustrator, whose work includes The Arrival, The Lost Thing, The Red Tree, and Memorial.

    I’ve used Shaun Tan’s work for group discussions with people from a range of ages, from primary school children to adults. There’s always plenty of intriguing and interesting discussion, because his images always draw you in, and often take you to places you might not have expected to go. If you haven't yet discovered the joy of Shaun Tan's work, then head down to your local library quicksmart!

    I’m looking forward to seeing who the jury picks for the 2012 ALMA winner. Wouldn't it be great to see a New Zealander win this one?

    Wednesday, 26 October 2011

    5 Halloween books with recipe goodies that kids and adults may enjoy

    List by Tosca

    "The foulest stench is in the air
    The funk of forty thousand years
    And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
    Are closing in to seal your doom

    And though you fight to stay alive
    Your body starts to shiver
    For no mere mortal can resist
    The evil of the thriller..."

    - Michael Jackson 'Thriller,' with voiceover by Vincent Price

    I enjoy Halloween! As celebrations go, it contains all of the elements I need for a good time: scary movies, costumes, decorations and, of course, lollies. This time of year is perfect for staging my annual horror movie marathon. On my own, of course, because my siblings are not horror movie watchers. In our old neighbourhood you would have found them knee deep in preparations for our annual Halloween street party for the local kids. A street party that came complete with games, crafts, prizes for the best (and scariest and most creative) costumes, scary decorations and ending with about 20-30 kids dancing around on our front lawn to a weird combination of horror movie sound effects and pop music. (Although to me, pop music *IS* a form of horror music). We've moved since then and two of the nephews are too old for games like that (or so they tell me but they're the first to eat the lollies I buy), which leaves Mr. 7 celebrating on his own this year. I thought I'd expand (lower?) my movie marathon standards to showcase kiddie-friendly (not *quite* the term I was looking for) scary movies, instead. Before his bedtime, anyway. And everyone knows kiddie-friendly scary movies needs kiddie-friendly scary food! So his mum (which would, I think, make her my sibling - or so my mum says but I've yet to see the birth certificate) and I have a deal: I supply the movies and watch them with him and she takes care of horror snacks. It's a sweet deal and I think I come off all the better for it. I've been scouring our catalogue for Halloween-appropriate, i.e. ghoulish sounding/looking, recipes. Here's a roundup of 5 Halloween themed books I'll be raiding for ideas! I would have loved for this to be a definitive 'Top 5' list but I'd only just remembered last night that Halloween was coming up (yes, I'm a failure as an aunt) and so won't have time to request them, read them and assess them. Instead, I've been terribly shallow and based them on a combination of two things: book cover appeal and summaries. I know. Tosca did a bad, bad thing. Enjoy!

    Monday, 24 October 2011

    A Special Monday

    Yes it is Labour Day. Yes I am at home and finally awake after a fantastic night. But I just wanted to say...

    We can do it with speed and skill.
    We can do it with strength and guts.
    We can do it loose or tight.
    We can do it ugly or pretty.
    We can do it by many points or we can do it by one.
    We can and have done it all ways.
    You had faith and so did we.
    You are a team of champions and a Champion team
    You make us feel like champions too.
    ALL BLACKS - We salute you!
    Enjoy !!!!

    Friday, 21 October 2011

    Top 5 for Friday - ALL BLACK

    There is a gentleman up at one of our northern libraries who is steadily working through the biographies of some of our best rugby players. I know this because I was serving him one day and he started to try and explain who T.P. McLean was. However country girl and rugby nut that I am, I was way ahead of him and we ended up talking tours and teams from the 1970's (when you got up in the middle of the night for a special broadcast long after the Goodnight Kiwi had gone to bed) right through to the present day.

    So in honour of said gentleman and all those other rugby officianado's out there (both existing and newly converted), today's Top 5 honours some of our best to pull on the ALL BLACK jersey.

    1. George Nepia. There are a number of biographies about this great player. I, George Nepia has been revised several times with the latest being a 2002 edition.

    2. Colin Meads. aka Pinetree (or Sir Pinetree). More than an autobiography. Colin Meads is considered to be one of the greatest rugby players in New Zealand. Here, he dips back into his playing career and offers comparisons with the modern game. It becomes a social commentary - how professionalism has changed the face of rugby forever. And how the modern player has taken up the challenge

    3. Stu Wilson and Bernie Fraser. aka Ebony and Ivory. So often it is not just great players but great partnerships that we remember. After Bryan Williams and before Jeff Wilson came this mischevous duo of Wellington wingers.

    4. Jonah Lomu. You almost don't need to add his surname. And we couldn't have a Top 5 list without him on it.

    5. And finally the man who we hope on Sunday will be lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft... Richie McCaw. From the front flap: a tribute to a modern-day rugby great charts the career of the proud Canterbury and Crusaders star who first burst into the national rugby consciousness in 2001 when he helped his province to an NPC championship. Soon after, he was making his All Blacks debut in Dublin, beginning a test career that will ultimately culminate at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

    There are so many I could have put on this list, it was hard to stop at 5. If you want to read up on some of the others do a subject search for Rugby Union football players -- New Zealand -- Biography. Or if you want to read about Tours, statistics and everything else to do with the All Blacks here is another link.

    So all that's left is to stand up and shout - GO THE ALL BLACKS! Finish the job boys.

    Wednesday, 19 October 2011

    Matakana and Zinzan

    If you are keen enough to head north this weekend and brave the crowds at Matakana, here is an author event that is happening at Matakana at the fantastic Village Bookshop.

    Local author Rae Roadley is signing copies of her book “Love At The End Of The Road” Saturday 22nd October 10am – 12noon at The Village Bookshop, Matakana.

    “Soon after returning to her hometown in Northland, New Zealand to work as a journalist, Rae meets Rex Roadley through a rural dating service.Rex’s beef and sheep farm at Batley, on the Kaipara Harbour, has been in his family for almost a century. These days the only evidence of the spot’s fascinating historic past is a magnificent two-storyed villa standing alone on the point. ... Rae, a lifelong city dweller, learns to cope with mud, managing a large house and garden, the intricacies of farming, and the frustrations of life in New Zealand’s backblocks, all the while getting to know the locals and an assortment of animals – from wild kittens to wild bulls.

    Rae’s charming story is beautifully written from the heart. Not only does she find love with Rex, but she finds out more about herself than she ever knew. Woven through her account is the story of the great house itself at Batley and the history of the surrounding countryside.”

    And just to keep it local for the Kowhai Coast today, there must have been more than a few locals watching This is Your Life on Monday night when home-grown boy Zinzan Brooke was honoured. There are probably a number who remember racing up and down muddy rugby fields in Puhoi, Kaipara Flats and Warkworth chasing the Brooke boys. If you want to refresh your memory of Zinny's playing career check out our library shelves for his biography. It's a bit hard to get hold of now, but worth the read.

    Monday, 17 October 2011

    Be part of the BIGGEST Wriggle and Rhyme in New Zealand

    This week it is all about being proud to be a Kiwi and supporting the All Blacks. As part of the REAL New Zealand Festival the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre at Manukau are putting on the Heart of the Nation during the school holidays. And on Friday 21st November, we are going to be there for something special... but we need your help.

    Join Auckland Libraries and the Regions’ Sports Trusts at the BIGGEST Wriggle & Rhyme session ever held in New Zealand. It's on Friday at 11.00 am. It will be fun, it will be free (there may even be giveaways). Parking is free. All you need to do is bring along yourself and your pre-schoolers, plus a blanket or cushion. We will be there with the music, songs, and smiles. While Wriggle and Rhyme is normally targetted at babies from birth to two years old, for this special occasion, the whole family is welcome.

    So what is Wriggle and Rhyme? Wriggle and Rhyme is based on the SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) principles of Active Movement for Early Learning. Movement is a child’s first language so it is important to provide babies with positive whole body movements’ right from birth to stimulate development of both the brain and the body. Wriggle and Rhyme provides a series of sequenced sessions using a range of music and movement, and explanation of the active movement principles. Virtually every library across Auckland provides this programme. The sessions are run during the school term and last approximately 30 minutes.

    Wriggle and Rhyme provides a great foundation for early learning. It enhances bonding, demonstrates safe activities and helps you step by step through the development stages. It’s also a great way to meet other new parents and caregivers in your community.

    Come along on Friday and make it a day out. We look forward to seeing you there.

    Friday, 14 October 2011

    5 knitting books that confirm what I already suspected: I suck at knitting

    List by Tosca

    'Everybody tells me that they would love to knit, but they don't have time. I look at people's lives and I can see opportunity and time for knitting all over the place. The time spent riding the bus each day? That's a pair of socks over a month. Waiting in line? Mittens. Watching TV? Buckets of wasted time that could be an exquisite lace shawl.'
    - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At knit's end: meditations for women who knit too much

    Back in mid-June I was gung-ho for knitting. Once again I let my mouth disconnect from my brain and I rashly promised that I would give knitting a go and make a scarf within six weeks. In the bigger scheme of things, it's not that huge a deal. But the reality of it, OH DEAR GOSHNESS, the reality of it! I am a total #fail knitter who has all the co-ordination and grace of a seal out of water.

    My maternal great grandmother's name is well known on the east coast of New Zealand for her weaving. I have distinct memories of Nana Pani (Whanaupani McClutchie) and my maternal grandmother, Nana Rongo (Rongomaitauarau Pohe), weaving, knitting, crocheting, macrame-ing (that's not a word, is it?), sewing, spinning and, sometimes, even dyeing their own wool. Holiday evenings at Wharekahika (Hicks Bay) would often see me curled up on the lounge floor watching my gran and great gran weaving flax. To use a very Kiwi expression, they were guns at it. My mum is very craft-y, too, and much like her mum and grandmother before her she also knits, sews, get the idea. Somehow, the ability to be able to perform any of these arts bypassed me. Totally. It doesn't bother me too much if I don't think about it, but in June I did stop long enough to think I was missing out on something and felt a sudden burning need to give it a go. I've had better ideas. The upshot of it all was discovering that knitting just wasn't for me. I have a broken knitting needle that can attest to this fact, and a partially knitted scarf sits forlornly on the floor. It was a bit of a blow because I want to find a creative outlet or a hobby. I've been searching for one for years but haven't yet managed to find one that fits, or that I'm good at :( After that somewhat sobering realisation it seemed like every knitting book I came across served merely to confirm what I had just discovered: that I suck most awesomely at knitting. And it wasn't the more rational titles that made me think that, it was the insane ones - the really way out kinda things you can do with some wool and a pair of needles. I'm not talking socks, jerseys or scarves, as you'll see in just a moment. Here are 5 knitting books that remind me of how truly terrible I am at knitting. For my next magic trick I'm going to try to crochet (and hope I don't manage to ruin that for myself in some strange way). Wish me luck, and enjoy the recommendations :)

    Vampire knits : projects to keep you knitting from twilight to dawn / Genevieve Miller
    Surrender to the allure of knits inspired by the immortals we all love to fear. If you adore Twilight, True Blood,or The Vampire Diaries, this collection of 28 imaginative and beautiful projects is sure to captivate.

    Charmed knits : projects for fans of Harry Potter / Alison Hansel
    Sit and Knit a Spell You'll soon be knitting enchanting things you didn't know were within your powers. Charmed Knits offers dozens of patterns for items that evoke the mystique of Harry Potter - a Wizard Robe, an Invisibility Shawl, a Quidditch Sweater, Ron's Ragg Raglan, a Clock Blanket, Harry Christmas Ornaments, and more. Easy-to-follow patterns, color photos of the finished projects, and illustrations of special stitch patterns and design elements make it easy for all knitters - from beginners to those at Mrs. Weasley's level - to work knitting magic. Charmed Knits whisks you away on a wonderful journey. Along the way, you can pick patterns inspired by the Weasleys, stock up at Diagon Alley, show your house colors, conjure up gifts, or create pieces to help you feel at home in the magical world of Harry Potter.

    Knitting with balls : a hands-on guide to knitting for the modern man / Michael del Vecchio
    Men knit ... and have for centuries. Soldiers, cowboys, and sailors traditionally knitted their own garments and today's men are following suit. Don't let society squelch the truth about men and knitting any longer! You can join the uprising of male knitters, even if you've never touched a pair of needles. Featuring classic men's designs with an edgy twist, Michael del Vecchio's bold new guide will show you: 22 original patterns, from the Tribal Sweater to the Felted Military Belt, all the basics a guy needs to teach himself to knit, clearly illustrated, step-by-step instructions for every stitch, how to alter and design your own patterns, tips on how to start your own revolutionary men's knitting group.

    Knit your own royal wedding / Fiona Goble
    With a cast of characters including the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Price Harry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a variety of wedding guests plus, of course, the happy couple themselves - and even a corgi - this is one wedding souvenir that will be a must-have for any keen crafter.

    Knitting with dog hair : a woof-to-warp guide to making hats, sweaters, mittens, and much more / Kendall Crolius and Anne Black Montgomery
    Learn to recycle Rover into beautiful garments and accessories as the authors teach you this wacky new spin on an old craft. Knitting with Dog Hair is the definitive guide to putting on the dog! In this tip-filled, easy-to-use book, the authors tell:

  • How to make Afghan or a beret from your Beagle: you pet can yield yarn
  • How to collect, clean, and store your pooch's fur
  • How to modify your patterns to accommodate pet-spun yarn
  • How to find experienced pet hair spinners, a guide to resources and suppliers

  • From mittens from a Malamute to caps from a Collie, this illustrated guide is the creative answer to that vexing shedding problem. This fetching book is certain to be this year's best in show!

    Tosca's comment: I have no words. Truly.