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?