Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The 2012 NZ Post finalists have been announced ...

It's the end of February and the judges for the New Zealand Post Children's Books Awards have *finally* let us in on their selection for the award finalists for 2012.

A wide variety of authors & illustrators are listed in the four categories - picture book, junior fiction, young adult fiction and non-fiction.

One of the talking points this year is that a graphic novel, Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang, has made it onto the picture book list.

By the end of May, we'll know who the winners are. In the meantime, kids can vote for the Children's Choice award - there's prizes up for grabs!

I'm not quite brave enough to predict the winners yet, as I haven't read them all, but Rāhui by Chris Szekely and Digging up the Past by David Veart are stand outs of the books I have seen so far.

Full service restored at Central City Library

Everything is back up and running, almost as normal today at Central City Library with Sir George Grey Special Collections, the Newspaper Room and the Family Research Centre all open for business. This was thanks to some extremely quick thinking and hard word from the staff at Auckland Central Library when a pipe burst on Friday.

I have it on good authority that there may be several librarians looking or feeling a little worse for wear as the work yesterday was a touch more physical than they may have been used to - moving things around, lifting and carrying beyond the normal day to day running of a library and mopping up. I think the words used were "discovered muscles I'd forgotton I had". I can sympathise with that sentiment. It happens to me everytime my personal trainer gives me a new programme at the gym.

Big ups to everyone at Central involved in preserving the collection and getting services back to normal.

5 dishes I ate in New Orleans

List by Tosca

I'm back! Some of you may have noticed last Friday that my post went out half-finished because I was 1) having far too much fun while away to stay on top of it and remember to actually complete it and 2) was up in the air somewhere between San Francisco and Auckland by the time I remembered. BAD TOSCA. The good news is that I'm back with more ideas than ever to keep this space as busy as it usually is. Yay you, right? And so now you get the actual post as it should have been *shamefaced look* New Orleans was oh-so-much-awesome-times-thirty. People, places, sights, drinks and, well, food. And I'm almost convinced that I would have tried a good three quarters, if not all of the dishes recommended in New Orleans by Adam Karlin and Lisa Dunford. So, yes, I ate (and drank) my way around the city and, if push came to shove, I'd happily do it all over again. This post is little more than the 5 dishes I've picked out as the best of everything I tried while on holiday, with a quick mention of where I ate it, and how deeply out of pocket I was at the end. Kidding! We ate very well for people who spent very little, and that was only accidental. Tip: If you only ever eat at one place while visiting New Orleans, make sure it's the Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Restaurant Gallery on North Rampart Street. If I'd been able to find recipes that even closely approximate what we were served there I'd have bumped those dishes onto the list. True story. I was going to attach a slideshow of pics with this post but Picasa doesn't want to play nice with me today. BOO! So instead you get this crummy link which will have to do *sad face* But you'll get pics of, well, pretty much everything foodie we came across. And boy was there heaps :)

MOAR MOAR MOAR! or, as I usually call it, Honourable Mentions:
  • Crab cakes
  • Red beans and rice
  • Alligator sauce piquant
  • Mockshoe (chicken and sweetcorn)
  • Chilli dog
  • Nachos
  • Fried chicken
  • Fried catfish
  • Shrimp po'boy
  • Fried rice
  • Waffles
  • "Wildman" crawfish pasta
  • Corn fritters
  • "Tu way pocky way" New Orleans style bbq shrimp

  • Monday, 27 February 2012

    Cooking up a fragrant feast

    I read Janet de Neefe's first book, Fragrant Rice, a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed her story about falling in love, moving to Bali and setting up a restaurant in Ubud (this is *way* before Eat, Pray, Love!).

    So I was excited to learn that she's finally written a cookbook, Bali : the food of my island home. It's filled with recipes for dishes that she serves in her restaurant as well as shares with her family, including several key spice mixes (e.g. base genep) and sambals. Interspersed with photos of Bali, the recipes are (mostly) straightforward and I'd say that this is definitely one cookbook to be inspired by.

    Although some of the ingredients may not always be available here, such as candlenuts, de Neefe gives substitutes that should be easily sourced locally.

    So if you've been to Bali and would like to recreate some of the fabulous food you tasted there, then I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this cookbook.

    We're all going to the Zoo tomorrow...

    ... Zoo tomorrow, Zoo tomorrow.....

    Well some of us are anyway. Auckland Libraries and Sport Auckland are taking our award winning Wriggle and Rhyme Library programme to the Auckland Zoo tomorrow as part of their Jungle Gym kids fitness week which runs from today 27th February through to Sunday 4th March.

    Wriggle and Rhyme will be happening at the Band Rotunda on Tuesday morning at 10.30am, led by the fantastic Joanie Bartel and assisted by some of the local librarians who run the sessions in the libraries.

    For more information, check out the Auckland Zoo website

    Auckland Central Library - Reduced services

    It wasn't a good day for Auckland Central Library on Friday. At 12.50 Friday afternoon a pipe burst on the third floor of the Central City Library, the fire service attended and the water has been turned off.

    One of the things we tell all the kids when we do school visits (or when they visit us) is how to look after books. As part of that we go through all the things that books DON'T like. Top of the list is of course water, be it rainwater, bathwater, seawater or your morning cup of coffee. So this was not good news. The Central Library was closed for the rest of Friday and over the weekend while a recovery team worked on drying out any affected areas and a small amount of collection material. Damage to the collection has been minimal thanks to the quick actions of staff.

    This work is still continuing, however the Library has reopened following the flooding incident on Friday. Because we are still cleaning up, the library will be operating on reduced services today (Monday). Services on level 2 (CARC , Special Collections, the Whare and the Newspaper Room ) are all closed for today. The Mobile bus that operates from Auckland Central will not run today but will be back on the road tomorrow.

    We hope to be back to business as usual soon and thank everyone for their patience.

    Wednesday, 22 February 2012

    Kia Kaha Christchurch - One Year On.

    "Absolutely dumbstruck. As one of my colleagues said "I half expect the whole world to stop, stunned like I am...". I think for me it was probably made worse because when I think of disasters like this, I think of other places. After all, we have all seen the documentaries of the volcanoes blowing in Auckland, and Wellington being rocked by an earthquake. But even after September and Boxing Day, as bad as that was, I never really thought that Christchurch would be struck and devastated like it was yesterday. The images are more powerful than the words and I can't imagine how it must feel down there after a long cold wet and empty night. As someone else said "Give them a break - How much more can they take".

    That was my blog a year ago after the devastating earthquake on 22 February in Christchurch. I look at it today and my feelings are still the same... Give them a break!!

    Over the past year much has been spoken and written and photographed and debated and drawn as the city continues to shake. Lives have been lost and changed beyond recognition. I now work beside colleagues who have relocated from the city and who still have family there. For them Christchurch will always be home, but some of it is unrecognisable to them still.

    And over the past twelve months Auckland Libraries has gathered a selection of resources on Christchurch before and after (which is a phrase you never want to see). A simple keyword search for Christchurch Earthquake brings up results of books published from scientific evaluations and pictorials to picture books and personal narratives.

    Today I will be wearing red and black for Canterbury and taking a moment to remember all those affected by 22/2.

    Monday, 20 February 2012

    Chick Lit reads now summer is finally here

    The Secret of Happy ever after (Lucy Dillon)

    When a book is set in a bookshop and includes regular references to some of the favourite books of my childhood, I was always going to pick it up and read it.

    For many this will be the ideal summer (when it gets here) beach or holiday read. It is light but with enough happening behind the scenes to keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next. The main characters, best friends Anna and Michelle, each have their own secrets as they get on with day to day life, Anna coping with three step daughters who seem determined to make her life as difficult as possible and Michelle running from a past and trying to create her own retail empire.

    Mix in some dogs, some men and the magic of a childhood of reading and you have this delightful romantic romp. Even if the sun doesn’t shine this summer, it is will still make a great read to curl up with.

    Hand Me Down (Michelle Holman)

    Michelle Holman is back to her best with this serving of Kiwi chick lit. To a town of secrets in the Central Otago town of Pisa comes April Annabelle Ritchie-Vincent-Berryman. She is returning to her childhood home, but doubts that she will be welcome due to the circumstances in which she left. She wants to prove that she has grown up and changed since running away (or being tossed out of home) as a spoilt brat princess. However her wicked lip and wisecracks, together with the secrets she doesn't want to share, mean that not everyone believes her. Especially Tarn Elliott, who now owns her families cherry orchard and who has a score to settle.

    This is a rollicking romp of tangled families and romances in rural New Zealand. Larger than life characters and a couple of side stories that may bear further investigation by the author add to havoc caused by April and her habit of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time".

    Friday, 17 February 2012

    5 reasons I heart the Food Television channel in the most indecent ways

    List by Tosca

    "Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."
    - Voltaire

    I adore the weekend! Most of all, I heart Saturday. Not because I do anything spectacular or life-affirming with my day. Quite the opposite, really. (Half the time I can't be bothered getting out of my pyjamas unless I have to go the supermarket (to stock up on more chocolate) or the library (to stock up on more books), but that in itself is half the pleasure of the day, too). Saturday is the day I do little more than take the phone off the hook, lock the front door, close the curtains and kickback with Sky TV and the internet. Yep, that's right, I ignore people so I can watch the Food Television channel and play at editing eNewsletters, keeping an eye on our Facebook page and tweetstream, and looking for ideas for future blog posts :) Just me, my netbook and the remote. It's a match made in heaven. My love for the Food channel is very possibly somewhat indecent. It's probably slightly voyeuristic, too, because I know I don't have a hope in Hades of being able to make the dishes. I have found, though, that my inability to be a decent cook does not limit my ability to enjoy others' culinary creativity. Maybe I enjoy it more because I'm hopeless in the kitchen. Today's top 5 list is a very simple one, made up of 5 shows I've been following on the Food TV channel recently, all of which are available in our collections. Bon appetit!

    Boys weekend [DVD videorecording]
    Manu Feildel, Miguel Maestre, Gary Mehigan, Adrian Richardson. Boys Weekend brings together four internationally renowned chefs for 13 weekends worth of classy cookery set against several sensational Australian backdrops. Join Gary Mehigan (MasterChef Australia), Adrian Richardson (La Luna Restaurant), Miguel Maestre (Miguels Tropical Kitchen) and Manu Feildel(Ready, Steady, Cook!) on various indulgent jaunts across the continent where they prepare mouthwatering dishes like paella along The Great Ocean Road, spicy oyster shots off Bruny Island, chili mud crab deep in the pristine Daintree Rainforest and apple tart tartin in Tasmania's Huon Valley. Sourcing the freshest ingredients available and matching Australias abundant landscape the boys let their hair down and enjoy each others company serving up a tantalizing array of dishes along the way.

    Contents: Disc one: Flinders -- The luxury cruiser -- The Great Ocean Road -- Bikers barbie. Disc two: Book launch -- Bruny Island -- Spanish villa -- Daintree. Disc three: Yarra Valley -- Huon Valley -- Retro -- Victorian Highlands -- Palm Cove. 3 DVDs (312 min.). Rated G - Suitable for general audiences.

    Tosca's comment: This is a hoot! I spend half of every episode laughing at their jack-the-lad behaviour, and the other half drooling over the food. Not simple dishes, way too much fiddly things involved, but great for entertainment.

    Kylie Kwong : my China [DVD videorecording]
    Join Australian-born chef and restaurateur Kylie Kwong on a personal and inspirational odyssey through her ancestral China. Kylie engages delightfully with local communities, buying ingredients from the market, learning regional cooking skills and preparing family meals.

    Contents: Disc 1 : Guangzhou - Hong Kong- Fujian - Hangzhou - Shanghai. Disc 2 : Yangzhou - Sichuan - Shandong - Beijing - Special features - My recipes. DVD; Region4; PAL; Dolby Digital. Censorship classification : G - Suitable for general audiences.

    Tosca's comment: I think, for me, the real attraction of this show is learning about the culinary history of certain dishes and areas.

    Luke Nguyen's Vietnam [DVD videorecording]
    In Luke Nguyen's Vietnam we take a culinary journey through the southern regions of Vietnam, from Saigon, through the Mekong Delta, and north along the coast to the World Heritage city of Hoi An. Seven towns are explored over ten colourful half hour episodes. Luke Nguyen, acclaimed owner and chef of the Sydney restaurant 'The Red Lantern', returns to the country of his heritage and prepares dishes in locations that represent the real Vietnam, in all its chaotic vibrancy. With a huge extended family scattered throughout Vietnam, Luke is inspired to learn that they all have one thing in common, a love for food. On our journey we meet many of Luke's relatives, who share with him the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine, and help him discover the tiny cottage industries that have been creating vital ingredients for many centuries. Rated G - Suitable for general audiences.

    Tosca's comment: I like Luke! He's knowledgeable, easygoing, extremely talented and game to try any dish/drink. Including drinking snake bile *turns green* I heart the way he can just cook on the side of the road, halfway over a roadside cliff, or even on a floating house made of rather flimsy boards that you can pull up to feed the fish you're breeding down below. And I think the fact that he can speak to people in their own language kinda adds to that.

    Jamie's American road trip [DVD videorecording]
    On his trip Jamie delves into the underbelly of American society to uncover fascinating personal stories, try real American food and meet the most interesting but unsung chefs and food producers the country has to offer. This epic journey takes Jamie to the heart of America: its people, culture, music and most importantly, food. Jamie meets amazing cooks - not fancy chefs but real people making honest food for working people at street stalls, roadside diners and local restaurants.

    Contents: New York -- Louisiana -- Los Angeles -- Arizona -- Georgia -- Wyoming. Rating: M. Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over. Note: Contains offensive language.

    Tosca's comment: I'll be honest, I watched this because I wanted to see the episode on New Orleans. Liked it so much I ended up staying for the rest of the show. Win!

    Poh's kitchen. Series one collection [DVD videorecording]
    Poh set out to rediscover the Malaysian dishes of her childhood and now the food she most loves to make is influenced by both her Asian and Australian heritages. In this series she invites leading Cooks and Chefs to her kitchen and together they make and share their special recipes.

    Contents: 4 DVDs (ca. 1040 min). Censorship classification: G- suitable for general audiences.

    Tuesday, 14 February 2012

    Librarians Choice - Romance

    Well what else was it going to be on Valentines Day - purportedly the most romantic day of the year.

    Apparently I created quite a lot of debate in library workrooms around Auckland on Friday afternoon, when I flicked out a quick email for contributions to today's post. All I did was ask everyone for their favourite romances and why. Maybe it's a Friday afternoon thing, but apparently discussion was extensive and, at times, heated.

    So here they are, in no particular order (and without any hints as to which librarians liked which books).

    "more history than romance, although romance is one of the key themes..."

    I also got votes from the rest of the trilogy (the saga continues with the Wild Rose and finishes with The Winter Rose). Someone else said they were a "combination of epic family saga, adventure and historical romance. Her plots are complex, setting exotic and characters well crafted. Gorgeous covers too."

    Favourite romance for teens " love how as the character grows and changes - so do her loves"

    Frederica - Georgette Heyer
    " Regency dresses, a family of wonderful children, a bemused hero outclassed from the first encounter, balloon ascensions, and Baluchistan hounds... Takes me to my happy place every time I look at it on the bookshelf at home"

    (Georgette Heyer got several mentions for well written romances).

    Son of the Shadows - Juliet Marillier
    "Not a romance as such, but instead a romantic fantasy novel. Every now and then when I need a romance fix I'll pull this book down from my shelf and just read the parts of the book that are about the love story between the two main characters."

    "Although these books are classed as crime, (they) have a element of romance in them. (They are) funny, she has two men in her life, Morelli (the Italian) and Ranger (the hot blooded Latino) and cant decide which man she really wants.

    Two people who fall in love but the timing is wrong. This is one of my personal favourites but don't get me started on how I think the movie got it wrong

    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    Neither are "traditional" romance novels yet they have a strong romantic relationship that is in a way the core of the book. The Outlander (Crosstitch) series got several votes and someone else call the story between Jamie and Claire a "gritty sexy romance story".

    It appears to me that many librarians don't find their romance in traditional "romance" novels but see the romance in other things that they read (and perhaps in the world around them).

    What titles can you think of to add to the list? Thanks to Lisa, Evelyn, Jolene, Seonaid, Sally, Sean, the other Sally and Penny who all responded to my call.

    Final word on romance novels " they end up together in the end - ahhhhh I do like a good "Disney" ending"

    Monday, 13 February 2012

    New book from Daniel Nayeri

    Technology is changing the way we read, with smart phones and dedicated e-readers becoming more mainstream.

    However, it is also changing the way that authors write. Daniel Nayeri's latest book, Straw house, Wood house, Brick house, Blow was written entirely on his iPhone, and is now available as a print book.

    I first read about this book here and watched the book "commercials" created to promote the four stories within this book, and it definitely piqued my interest to read the book.

    Now having read the four novellas, and re-watched the short clips, I'm even more impressed by the cleverness of the online promotions. My favourite is the Wish Police commercial.

    Friday, 10 February 2012

    5 items you can make with cat hair. Really, I'm serious

    List by Tosca

    "Got fur balls? Are your favorite sweaters covered with cat hair? Do you love to make quirky and one-of-a-kind crafting projects? If so, then it's time to throw away your lint roller and curl up with your kitty! Crafting with cat hair shows readers how to transform stray clumps of fur into soft and adorable handicrafts."
    - Crafting with cat hair by Kaori Tsutaya

    I know that you're thinking one of two things; either "This *cannot* be real. Somebody, somewhere is having a laugh at our expense" OR "Dude! This is so me! I've been waiting for something like this all my life and finally HERE IT IS!" Am I right, or am I right? I know because the first statement? That is me. That was my first thought when I came across Crafting with cat hair: Cute handicrafts to make with your cat by Kaori Tsutaya. Ok, I'll be honest with you, I haven't moved over to the second statement at all and I'm not sure I ever will. It's just a little too...bizarre seeming for me to want to brush my cat, collect his/her hair and take the time to knit me some gloves. If I couldn't knit with ordinary wool (and you might remember from an earlier post how badly I sucked at that activity), then I doubt I'm going to be any less sucky with a different type of material. Sometimes, it's just geography (and yes, I used a Pretty Woman reference there, although, you know, without money. And Richard Gere. And, well, prostitutes. But you get what I mean!). I was prepared to hate this book because my instinctive response is that doing any kind of craft project with any kind of hair (animal, human, other, although what 'other' could be I don't want to know) is total yucky bunny. Now that I've read the book, I've changed my mind SLIGHTLY. There's a lot of solid information here about the right way to groom cats, how to ensure that you're not harming them, lists of supplies, how to care for your cat and a few other things as well. So, yes, I respect it as an artform. There is still no way in Hades, though, that I'm ever doing this myself. No way. Your neighbourhood cats are safe from me. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love for one of you somewhere anywhere out there in the bloggerverse to use this, make somethinganything and send me a picture. You know what they say...pics or it didn't happen :)

    Thursday, 9 February 2012

    "When she woke, she was red."

    In a future that is instantly recognisable but with a small twist. That seems to be the setting of many of the books that are taking my fancy at the moment, whether they are adult, teen or children's reads. There is something quite intriguing about someone taking one small part of our life and exaggerating or playing with it to create a whole new look to our society.

    Weaving all the different 'isms' you can think of and pushing them to the limit is this novel by Hillary Jordan, When she woke which is one of the best I have read recently. The publisher's summary reads Hannah Payne's life has been devoted to church and family. But after she's convicted of murder, she awakens in a new body to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes--criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime--is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love. A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter , When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.

    It is a powerful read for adults and teens, ideal for book club discussions or teens already searching out suitable titles for their NCEA wide reading credits.

    Wednesday, 8 February 2012

    Geeky tattoos for science lovers

    If you are a maths and science geek, and have a predilication for ink, then this book just might be something to get excited about.

    Science Ink : tattoos of the science obsessed features a wide variety of tattoos with a maths or science theme, from dodos to fungi, from mathematical formulas to DNA helices, from star constellations to chemical equations.

    Some of my favourites include a beautiful basket starfish (on the arm of an educator at the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration) and an astrarium on the back of a literary historian.

    Tuesday, 7 February 2012

    Happy Birthday Mr Dickens

    February 7th is Charles Dickens birthday... or it would have been if he was still alive. And if he was it would have been a rather large celebration as he celebrated his bicentennary - that's 200 years and still going strong.

    Today Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 - 9 June 1870) is still one of the best-loved authors in English Literature. Even Keith Richards is a fan and many people refer to him as the Greatest Novelist of English Literature. The Dictionary of British Literary Characters lists nearly a thousand characters created by him (the exact number is 989). Auckland Libraries can help your explore his world both in print, audio and through the adaptations of his books into films and TV. There are books by him and books about him... over 1,000 of them when I do a search of our catalogue (click this link to see the search results to start your search or narrow it down using the options on the right hand side). Whether you are a child or adult, you can enter Dickensian England and France.

    Auckland Libraries are celebrating his birthday with a special event in the Whare Wananga on Level 2 of the Central City Library. Join us between 5.30 and 7.00 pm as we toast the great man (courtesy of Glengarry). Nicholas Reid (reviewer, academic, author, film critic) will propose the toast and will suggest why Dickens has his critics and why he has outlasted them. He will be ably assisted by fellow Dickens fans Iain Sharp and Karen Craig. Be enlightened! Be entertained! Pit your wits against our Dickens quiz!

    Saturday, 4 February 2012

    Update on NY resolutions #1

    Well, I've managed to achieve one of my new year's resolutions already - learn to cook a proper curry from scratch. In fact, I managed it twice in the last month.

    Using Curry Easy, I started out easy with a mushroom & chickpea curry. I got hold of the spices, followed the recipe, was patient with the cooking time, and voila, it worked! And it was tasty and easy to prepare, so much so that I even prepared it again for friends. And I even managed to cook the basmati rice to perfection - patience is the key.

    I've got my eye on a tasty looking potato & pea curry next. Have you got any favourites that you'd recommend I try out?

    Friday, 3 February 2012

    5 rather blatant romance novel covers that I feel I should be embarrassed about requesting...but am so not

    List by Tosca

    "I am ever a gentle maiden," she shouted. "Damn if I'm not."
    ― Julie Garwood, Honor's Splendour

    Our post quote is so romantic I could just cry *sniff sniff* I'm kidding! It's hilarious, right? I read romance books. Seriously. I read contemporary romance (think big, buff men in uniform or umm out of uniform as they usually are on the covers), paranormal romance (shapeshifters, demons, angels, psychics, etc.), historical romance (cads and rakes and prim misses with stays and corsets), Harlequin Mills & Boon romance (bazillionaire, megajillionaire tycoons from exotic places like Auckland heh), erotic romance (the kind I hope they never make audiobooks of because there's no way I can get through them without blushing and/or giggling) and pretty much anything else you could slap a romance label on. Our staff often comment on my choice of books. Well, not the books, so much as their covers, and were I anyone else who hadn't come to terms with my reading tastes a long time ago, I'm sure I'd be embarrassed of requests turning up for me with covers that look much like the one attached to this post (Jaci Burton's Taking a shot). As an adult, there's not much that embarrasses me. As a teen, well, everything had the potential to unman me (so to speak). I used to cringe when out and about with my mother, who had a penchant for wearing odd fluoro coloured socks. I wasn't ashamed of my mother. Just her socks. My dad would stand at the end of our driveway every night at about 5:30pm and yell out, 'Tosca, Tosca, jellymeat for dinner!' (just like the catfood tv ad from the 80s) to let me know tea was ready. Neighbourhood kids used to think it was hilarious, and I'd get more than my fair share of ribbing. I was always mortified. No matter how many times I asked dad not to do it, he'd be out there the next night doing it all over again. Considering that dad used to wear his sisters' dresses and chase them around their neighbourhood, I think I got off lightly. One of my siblings used to have this irritating habit of telling on me to my parents, and then delivering the following message in a horrid singsong voice in front of my friends, "Mum wants you and oohh you're gonna get it!" Once, during an intermediate school assembly, I had to walk up on stage to collect an award and tripped up in front of some 200+ people. I remember another time, in high school, I accidentally whacked one of the 1st XV players in a place no man ever admits to being whacked out loud when I was using big arm gestures *cringes* (Something I still do today). For the rest of the school year, if he saw me coming he'd turn bright red, about-face and run in the other direction. I've had so many, many moments like these, and if there's one thing I've learned from them, well, that and from being one of 9 children, you learn to get over yourself pretty quickly. You also learn to develop a sharp wit, a barbed tongue and, even better, a thick skin. As a result, not much phases me these days. But if anything was going to, it'd be my strange, deep and abiding love of in-your-face (clothed or half-clothed) mantastic romance novel covers. And so I end this week on a light note, with five such books that turned up for me just today...

    Are you ever embarrassed by your requests?

    Thursday, 2 February 2012

    Elevate and Celebrate the Treaty of Waitangi

    As part of our Whakamana te Tiriti o Waitangi: Elevate and Celebrate the Treaty of Waitangi 2012 celebrations, Auckland Libraries is delighted to offer a range of FREE seminars across the Auckland region.

    Taking place from 2 - 10 February 2012, these fascinating presentations and workshops will be delivered by treaty experts and educators, and will cover a diverse range of topical issues surrounding the treaty. Please note that booking your place for these talks is essential - details of how to reserve your spot are included on the events link on our Library website here.

    And what better time to brush up on your knowledge of New Zealand's history?
    At our libraries, you can find out about the development of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi), the founding document of New Zealand. Discover a variety of resources from our heritage and research departments, and join us for activities and free seminars to celebrate this important chapter of New Zealand’s history. To find out what is available at Auckland Libraries go to this Libraries website page.

    Wednesday, 1 February 2012

    Getting out and about in Auckland this weekend

    There is plenty to do and see this weekend in Auckland. Culture abounds as well as rest and relaxation and good music. Here's a selection from the events page on the Auckland Council website.

    Bring the family to celebrate the start of the Year of the Dragon at the 13th annual Auckland Lantern Festival in Albert Park.
    Choose from numerous Asian food stalls and picnic on the grass amidst hundreds of beautiful lanterns specially imported from China. Non-stop entertainment on the main stage will include a dragon and lion dance group from Shanghai, a Chinese-style reggae band from Beijing, an opera and modern dance group from Taizhou and a Hong Kong a cappella group.
    Make sure you don’t miss Auckland’s biggest and brightest Chinese New Year festival!

    Toi o Manukau and Auckland Council partner to deliver Auckland's largest Waitangi Day event.
    Come along for a day of celebration, education, culture, entertainment and live music. This is a FREE event on Monday 6 February, 10am-6pm at Barry Curtis Park, Chapel Road, Flat Bush, Manukau.
    The 2012 programme also features a mihi whakatau (ceremonial welcome), tiriti korero (treaty education and information), nga toi (arts stall area) and a tamariki zone with free children’s rides and activities. The event aims to raise awareness and understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi through the sharing of arts, crafts, music and food. This year's line-up includes New Zealand reggae giants Katchafire, rising international star David Dallas, Ardijah, Maisey Rika, Sons of Zion, Bella Kalolo and Foundation. In a unique first, China’s number-one reggae band, Long Shen Dao, is also making the trip to perform on New Zealand's national day. This is an alcohol-free and smoke-free event.

    The Muriwai Waitangi Day Fetival is set within native bush overlooking NZ's most spectacular west coast beach. It's an opportunity for families to drive past the strawberry fields and vineyards of Kumeu to a quiet clearing of native bush. Just 35 minutes from Ponsonby Road and a short walk from one of NZ's most spectacular surf beaches, Anika Moa, Moana and the Tribe, Pacific Curls, Nat Rose, Majic Paora and more will be reminding us that "Every Day is Waitangi Day". Over 15 painters, photographers, sculptors and jewellers who live in and around Muriwai Beach will be creating new works for a special Waitangi Day exhibition. A hikoi to sacred sites will enable the sharing of stories about place and time, as will a series of lively speakers on stage in the "hot seat". With all music, art, cuisine, korero and crafts acknowledging "Every Day is Waitangi Day", a strict zero waste, alcohol and smoke free policy, and limited ticket sales, the Muriwai Waitangi Day Festival kicks off 2012 on just the right note. Just as you would expect from the newest little festival in the best little place. All ticket proceeds go towards the fundraiser for the new Muriwai Lifesaving Club and Community Centre and an iwi project. The day runs on Monday from 10am to 6pm at Houghton's Bush Camp, 75 Motutara Road, Muriwai Beach. The cost is Adults $20, under 12s free with a strictly limited number of tickets available from Event Finder

    Auckland Council - Music in the Parks kicks off with The Black Seeds, Supported by: dDub and Sassy and the Pocketbook. Monday 6 Feb from 2pm-6pm at Henderson Park, Wilsher Crescent, Henderson. Having carved out their reputation through platinum selling albums their fusion of big-beat funk, dub, soul, and afro-beat, mixed with vintage roots-reggae will make for an unforgettable concert suitable for all ages.