Saturday, 31 March 2012

5 things 'Miranda' and I have in common (and 5 things we so obviously don't)

Title: Miranda
Starring: Miranda Hart, Tom Ellis, Patricia Hodge, Katy Wix, Sally Phillips, Sarah Hadland
Summary: Based on the semi-autobiographical writings of rising UK comedy star Miranda Hart... Miranda has always stood out from the crowd. She's over six foot tall, lacks any kind of grace and has an odd habit of dancing in inappropriate situations. She lives in her own chaotic world, making a living by owning a joke shop which is managed by her best friend and taskmaster Stevie.

My idea of a fun Thursday night activity is booting up the netbook and hunting for ideas for future blog posts and eNewsletter issues. Ok, so that's not the fun bit. I mean, it is but it isn't. The part of the night that I really enjoy is watching Miranda. Yes, I said it: I watch Miranda. And, what's more, I LOVE HER. So, what is Miranda? Miranda is a weekly comedy that screens on TV1 in the later part of the evening for err obvious reasons (namely language, sexual references, and adult humour). Miranda is tragically, tragically funny, and terribly awkward, and the whole show is set around, well, pretty much that. You get the idea that anything that can go wrong in Miranda's life, will. Times a hundred. Like when she decides she's going to buy a new outfit for a date, and ends up at a store that specialises in dressing men in drag. It's something that pops up quite a bit, so you get the impression that perhaps, in the past, she would get mistaken for a man quite a lot. She has this habit of bursting into song at the strangest of times (seriously, I do it too, but never in a job interview), and she can never quite bring herself to say the word 'sex' without giggling. In some ways, she's forever ten years old. I highly recommend watching at least one episode and, if you're lucky, you might still catch one or two on tv. If you don't, we do have the DVD, although be patient because it has a fair few requests :)

And, well, 5 things we don't have in common:
  • Miranda is 6"2 - I'm totally not (in my dreams I have legs up to my eyeballs)
  • Miranda's mum is HORRIFYINGLY embarrassing - mine would be mortified to even halfway contemplate how much Miranda's mum wants to marry her off to somebody/anybody/everybody
  • Miranda owns a joke shop - I thinks sometimes life is a joke
  • Miranda has the hots for local chef Gary Preston - I don't know any local chefs and even if I did I'm not sure that Burger King counts as a restaurant (it's my idea of 'eating out' these days)
  • Miranda gets called 'Sir' - I get 'ma'am' which makes me feel about forty years older than I am *disgruntled look*

  • Friday, 30 March 2012

    5 fictional friendships mine could be like...if I were a halfway decent friend

    "Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things."
    - Anonymous

    Friendships are funny things. Funny haha and funny weird. I admit upfront that I'm a horrid BFF who is lucky enough to be blessed with two friends who accept me as I am. Somebody slack. Really, really slack. This is how slack: I read their text, grin...and never respond, I read their emails, hoot with laughter...and never reply, I listen to their voicemail messages, wince at reminders to call them and let them know I'm still alive...and never return their calls, I view the pxts they send me of their children and go "Awww!"...and never send any of my nephews in return, I talk to them by phone occasionally and promise we should do catchup lunch/margarita night/icecream breakfast...and never do. The list goes on. I truly always mean to stay in touch more, I just never seem to. The downside is that I miss out on so much of their lives and wonder why I'm amazed that the oldest of their daughters is now at tertiary. When did this happen? The upside is that when we finally do manage to get together we spend hours making the most of it. In the last two weeks I've been fortunate enough to have spent two such girl' nights in with friends old and new, and those of you who know what I'm talking about will understand this next comment. BFF dinners/get togethers are made of this: chocolate, tears, wine, pointed comments, cheese, loud talk, chips with dip, dinosaur lollies, embarrassing questions, rum and coke, Sherlock and John *sigh* and, as ever, love and laughter. And so, in honour of just such people, here are five fictional friendships that I admire. (And sometimes wish I could embody).

  • Hot tub time machine [DVD] directed by Steve Pink

  • Do you have a favourite fictional friendship (book or film)?

    Wednesday, 28 March 2012

    Teen Read - The Shattering

    The Shattering is the second teen book by Kiwi author Karen Healey (the first was the very popular Guardian of the Dead). It tells the story of a perfect west coast town Summerton - where it never rains for New Years Eve and the scenery is so stunning that sometimes the out of towners just have to stop and stare.

    The summer holidays bring three teens together. Keri and Janna both live in Summerton, while Sione comes down from the city for the holidays. Three totally different people with one thing in common. They have all lost an older brother to suicide. But almost immediately Sione raises the possibility that it wasn't suicide but something else. What dark secrets does the perfect town hide?

    I have to admit, I still haven't read Healey's first book, Guardian of the Dead so I can't compare the two titles. However I know that plenty of teens virtually devoured the first book and I believe that they will also be able to relate strongly to the world of our three teens in The Shattering. The rock chick, the sporty kid, the geek, the bullies, the parents who only want what's best but go about it all the wrong way, the authority figures, the people in the shadows with an element of the supernatural woven through the story.

    There are lots of themes and questions at work here. Dealing with grief and suicide, cultural nuances and controlling your own destiny but this book also asks you to consider, what lengths would you go to to protect your town and family?

    Either for it's deeper meanings on the issues of suicide or as a great kiwi teen adventure, this book is a winner.

    Monday, 26 March 2012

    Joining a book group

    While face-to-face book groups have been around for while, and I'll hazard a guess that they will continue to be popular for a while to come, there's a growing online community for people who can't make it to a face-to-face book group.

    Since I haven't found a local book group that meets on a day/time that I can actually be there, I've decided to join an online book group.

    The New Zealand Listener launched their book club in early March 2012 - read more about it here. There's podcasts, spoiler alerts, author interviews, a Twitter hashtag #nzlbookclub, and plenty of online discussion about each month's book. This is one group that I am really excited to be part of.

    The first book chosen for discussion was Before I go to sleep by S J Watson. A intriguing read, with plenty of twists, which makes it an interesting book to talk about to others.

    So would you join an online book group or does meeting up with people face-to-face work better for you? Or could you comfortably be book-y in both worlds?

    Friday, 23 March 2012

    5 reasons you should SO read this book!

    A word of advice (or warning, whichever term you prefer): Whatever you do, do not - absolutely do not - read this book in public. You think I'm kidding. I know you do. But I seriously think that while the reading of this book may not kill you, the hilarity might. Seriously. And if that doesn't do the job, then the possiblity (or the humiliation) of having to explain what you're laughing at just might do it instead. I do have to point out, though, that the catalogue synopsis for this title is very, very sad indeed. It doesn't even begin to hint at its megatastic awesomeness. Consider the evidence:
    "An account of Peta's discoveries delving deeper into the mysterious world of men. It is a highly personal and frequently hilarious pilgrimage that will resonate with women everywhere." -- Front flap.
    WHAT? If you're a minimalist, that small piece is exactly what you're looking for. If you're more like me, and desperately in need of a list to convince you, HERE YOU GO! (I like my version better, but then I do have an over inflated opinion of myself):
    With rollicking humour and great personal insight, Peta addresses the issue of what it means to be a man in the twenty-first century. From Greece to Paris and back to NZ, she freely discusses past relationships and shares a heartfelt story of her husband that had me shedding a tear or two. Also included are very funny (and serious) interviews with a varied assortment of male interviewees of all ages and walks of life.

    And so, here are 5 reasons you should SO read this book!

    Thursday, 22 March 2012

    Three White Ravens!!

    Woohoo - Another triumph in the world of children's and young adults books.

    White Ravens are awarded every year when the language specialists (Lektoren) at the International Youth Library (IYL), in Munich, Germany, select newly published books from around the world that they consider to be especially noteworthy (think innovative, inspirational, trendsetting, extraordinary - which are just some of the words included in their brief). This list of books is compiled into the annual White Ravens Catalogue, which is introduced each year at the Bologna (Italy) Children's Book Fair.

    This year three New Zealand titles have made it onto the list, with a couple of them being amongst my personal recent favourites. As only 250 titles from around the world are selected, that's pretty good (understatement!!)

    Two Little Bugs by Mark and Rowan Sommerset (Dreamboat Books) - a charming picture book from this local (Waiheke) couple. Fun for adult and child - the best kind of picture book.

    The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else (Gecko) - an energetic children's fiction title, which has already been recognised in New Zealand as a finalist in the NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2012.

    The Scent of Apples by Jacquie McRae (Huia) - I have already raved about this young adult book to soooo many people. It's nice that this time others agree with me (reading being such a subjective thing this doesn't always happen).

    For the full list of 2012 White Ravens check this link

    Wednesday, 21 March 2012

    I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both

    Teenagers. Cancer. Lost limbs. Blindness. Facing up to the reality of life and death. It doesn't exactly sound like the line-up for a stellar read does it?

    Thankfully this isn't the case with John Green's latest book, The fault in our stars. This is the funniest and most poignant book I have read in a *long* time. The characters' voices - teenagers, parents, doctors - in this book are pitch perfect. I laughed out loud much more often than I cried.

    If you've not read John Green before (An abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska), you're in for a treat as I'd argue that this is his best book yet.

    Tuesday, 20 March 2012

    Right book - Wrong time

    Sometimes I hang out for an upcoming title, put my hold on weeks in advance and wait patiently (or not) for it to arrive. Sometimes it lives up to expectations, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes you just get the feeling that it is really really great but you are just not in the mood.

    Such was the case with 11.22.63 by Stephen King. On the face value, it should have been everything I wanted in a book. I have a fascination with the assassinations of Kennedy and Lincoln (and the coincidences between them... which is a whole other blog post). Stephen King is a fantastic writer. I love the concept of time travel in my fiction reading. And it had the year of my birth in the title (that gives it

    The publisher's summary reads On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? The author's new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination. In this novel that is a tribute to a simpler era, he sweeps readers back in time to another moment, a real life moment, when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history. Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students, a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night fifty years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake's friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane, and insanely possible, mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life, a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time and you can read some great reviews of the book on through the links on our website (you can access these through our classic catalogue simply by clicking on the cover of any book when you search for it). It is already an award winner and it has movie written all over it (the rights have already been picked up).

    But as much as I tried to get into the story and I could appreciate the writing and the plot and the character development and taste the cool refreshing 1958 root beer (as opposed to the sugary soft drinks of the 21st century), I really just couldn't do it. I ended up skipping randomly through to read odd passages and chapters and then the last few chapters in more detail. Which indicates that I was involved in the story, because if I hadn't been I wouldn't have cared to find out how it all turned out.

    11.22.63 is definitely a book that I will return to and have another go. After all it took me Numerous attempts to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy before I finally persevered and loved it. Maybe, this is similar and I just need to wait for the movie to pick it up again and appreciate the skill of a master storyteller. It's just an example of a good book being picked up at the wrong time for me. I will be back.

    Note - the cover image is an alternate one supplied by Publishers. There is a different cover on the majority of editions sold or available in New Zealand.

    Monday, 19 March 2012

    Sharing the foodie love

    It's always a delight to discover a new cafe with delicious food, and it is even more of a treat to discover that the cafe has been generous enough to share the recipes with its customers in the form of a recipe book. Here's a selection of recent cookbooks to whet your appetite.

    Ripe Recipes from Ripe Delicatessan, Richmond, Auckland. The recipes are arranged by months, so you can benefit from whichever fruit & vegetables are in season. Delights include : Rhubarb Butterscotch Layer Cake, Raw Energy salad, Baked Green Olive Chicken, Spiced Eggplant & Peanut salad.

    Revive Cafe - City Central, Auckland. I haven't seen the cookbook yet, but the cafe is fabulous!

    Floriditas Cafe - Cuba Street, Wellington. Another cafe with a strong commitment to seasonal flavours.

    Tin Goose Cafe - 3 cafes across Central Otago. Each cafe is a little different from the others, but the food is consistently good. Check out the ginger & pear gems.

    Dunsandel Store - Canterbury. I first discovered this place when I was on the hunt for Camla Farm apple juice, which is made just down the road. I'm so pleased that I made the trip.

    Riverstone Kitchen - Oamaru. Named 2011 NZ Restaurant of the Year in the Cuisine awards. Outstanding food & wine. Delicious food, and manageable for the home cook.

    Little & Friday - two locations, Takapuna & Newmarket, Auckland. I still haven't made it to either cafe, despite several recommendations. I figure that the cookbook might be the closest I get for a while.

    Friday, 16 March 2012

    5 phrases in Wookiee that would be exceptionally helpful...WERE I A WOOKIE!

    - Wu Kee Smith (translation: Turn the page, and let's begin! - but you already knew that...didn't you?)

    Title: How to speak Wookiee: a manual for intergalactic communication by Wu Kee Smith ; illustrations by JAKe
    Publisher: Chronicle Books, c2011
    Summary: This book will guide you through a few common scenarios in which you might have to speak to Wookiees. A sound module allows you to hear and practice correct pronunciation. Learning to understand and communicate this handful of phrases will impress your Wookiee acquaintances and keep you out of harm's way.

    Confession: I am not a Wookiee. I just want to get that out there so it's all aboveboard, you know? Nor do I speak Wookiee. A smattering of French, very bad schoolgirl Japanese and, these days, practically non-existent schoolgirl German, yes. Wookie...mmm, no. It would never have occurred to me to want to speak a language that umm wasn't. So to speak. Like, say, Klingon or Elvish (my BFF's husband speaks Elvish because his mother taught him when he was a child, and I always found that rather curious and...downright weird but hey, judge not lest ye be judged, right?) or, well, Wookie. In fact, and don't kick me for this next confession, until I read this book/pushed all of the buttons that gave you (quite frightening sounding) audio examples (over and over again much to the delight of Mr. 1), I was of the opinion that every sentence Chewbacca made sounded the same *ducks* I've sinced changed my mind. Well, about that bit, anyway. So, I've read the book, practised a few phrases (please, dear goshness, don't make me say them out loud to you because we'd all be somewhat sorrier for the mangling of it) and, now, am a little bit better for it. Should I ever need it, here are 5 phrases in Wookie that could come in handy...were I a Wookie, anyway :)

    Wednesday, 14 March 2012

    Launch Your Lyrics competition opens!

    Are you a budding songwriter? Bring your hidden talent into the light and be in to win one of our fantastic prizes! Enter our Launch Your Lyrics competition with your original song and be in with the chance to win some fantastic prizes.

    Launch your Lyrics has been run out west for several years. This year it is open to all Auckland Library members between 11 and 18 years of age. There is a Launch your Lyrics page on our website, but here are the brief details.

    There are two categories for entry, 11 - 14 years and 15 - 18 years.

    We have fantastic prizes up for grabs in each category:
    First prize in each category is a recording session at Zeal Music Studios to record your winning lyrics
    One runner-up will receive a $200 music voucher
    Two highly commended winners will receive a $100 music voucher

    You do have to be a member of Auckland Libraries to take part. If you haven't already registered with us, what are you waiting for? It's really easy to join the library and doesn't cost you anything if you live or go to school somewhere in Auckland. Go to our Join Up page.

    The competition runs from March 12 to May 16 2012. Our celebrity judge, Rodney Fisher of awesome Kiwi band Goodshirt (pictured), will select the winners! Rodney is a singer/songwriter - the lead singer in Goodshirt, he also has a solo career and is well known in New Zealand and the UK. As well as presenting the prizes at our Launch Your Lyrics Prizegiving on May 31 at the Zeal Music Studios, he will also be performing. There will also be plenty of spot prizes on the night so make sure you keep it free.

    For all the information on how to enter and full conditions of entry head to our Launch Your Lyrics page on the Auckland Libraries website.

    Tuesday, 13 March 2012

    Celebrate NZ Book Month at Auckland Libraries

    March is officially New Zealand Book Month! It is about forming a North to South community of readers, connecting Kiwis who are passionate about books and who enjoy spreading the word. From friend to neighbour, school bus to sporting field, workplace to playground, it's about telling and retelling stories, and recommending new books to read.

    Auckland Libraries is proud to participate in and support NZ Book Month. Throughout March, we will highlight the life-changing nature of books you can access at your local library, offer inspiring recommendations from our librarians, and host events at libraries across the Auckland region. Some of these have already taken place so I am a bit late off the block but I have it on very good authority that the "Know your NZ Children's Authors and Illustrators" held last week at Takapuna Library went very well.

    Here are some of the events happening in the rest of the month.

    21 Mar: Doris de Pont on Black: The History of Black Fashion, Society and Culture in NZ (Central City Library)
    21 Mar: The Hungry Heart: Journeys with Colenso (Remuera Library)
    22 Mar: Frank Rose presents The Art of Immersion (Central City Library)
    24 Mar: Author Talk: Michael and Judy Churchouse (Howick Library)
    27 Mar: Christchurch 22.2 Beyond the Cordon (Takapuna Library)
    28 Mar: Brian Boyd on Stalking Nabokov (Central City Library)
    29 Mar: One Island, One Book (Waiheke Library)
    29 Mar: Books that inspire us (Panmure Library)
    31 Mar: Pear Jam Books 1st Birthday Party (St Heliers Library)
    3 Apr: Jan Cronin presents 'The Frame Function: An Inside-Out Guide to the Novels of Janet Frame' (Central City Library)

    For more information go to the Auckland Libraries website NZ Book Month page or visit the official NZ Book Month website.

    Monday, 12 March 2012

    We are Sailing!

    The Volvo Ocean Race – previously known as the Whitbread Round the World Race – has arrived in Auckland. Six of the world's fastest monohulls, including top contender Emirates Team New Zealand entry CAMPER (pictured) , have been racing since October last year, tackling a nine month marathon around the globe, deep into the bleak latitudes of the Southern Ocean and through the world’s most hostile seas. And you get the chance to check them out between now and the 18th of March when they take off again on the next leg of the trip to Brazil. Before they leave they will be competing in a couple of short races in Auckland Harbour.

    For more information on the stopover check out the official website.

    If you don't get the chance to get down to the Viaduct to check out this year's entries, you can always relive the past by checking out the books and other resources at Auckland Libraries on the Whitbread and some of our best boats.

    Or maybe you have a dream of competing in the future. Check out our sailing and yachting resources to help you be the best you can be.

    And as for me, I have tried sailing a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to do more. But the sort of things these guys get up to in the oceans is a little too rough for me. While I like the wind to fill the sails, I like somewhat calmer waters than I see on the TV coverage. I take my hat off to you.

    Crafting a public display - yarn bombing

    Recently I've noticed some very cool public artworks in Orewa, however they are not technically officially sanctioned artworks. They are instead knitted artworks, attached to fences, trees and lamp posts, created by artists unknown who definitely put a smile on my face.

    The concept of displaying knitting and crocheting in public spaces is commonly referred to as yarn bombing, but has also been called guerrilla knitting, urban knitting and graffiti knitting.

    Auckland Libraries has a copy of this book that introduces some of the overseas projects, as well as ideas for different projects to get you started, and there is also a regularly updated blog about different yarn bombing that has taken place all over the globe. You might also want to check out the book : Knit the City.

    There were several guerilla knitting sites around Christchurch after the first quake back in September 2010, and you can view some of the photos here, here and here. I've also heard that there have been other sites in Auckland that have had the pleasure of being yarn bombed, but I haven't yet been able to confirm it with my own eyes!

    Friday, 9 March 2012

    Top 5 most requested crime/mystery titles

    List by Tosca

    A short post from me today that is all about the book and nothing but the book. Specifically, our top 5 most requested crime/mystery titles. Usually I'm heads down in young adult fiction, funny nonfiction, recommended general fiction and romance novels. More recently, though, I'm slowly getting back in to crime/mystery and thought that some of these could be a good place to start. (Although, honestly, I tried to start with Death comes to Pemberley by PD James and had to give up halfway through. It just wasn't for me). Enough about me. Bring on the books!

    Believing the lie / Elizabeth George
    After writing sixteen Inspector Lynley novels, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George has millions of fans waiting for the next one. As USA Today put it, "It's tough to resist George's storytelling, once hooked." With Believing the Lie, she's poised to hook countless more. Inspector Thomas Lynley is mystified when he's sent undercover to investigate the death of Ian Cresswell at the request of the man's uncle, the wealthy and influential Bernard Fairclough. The death has been ruled an accidental drowning, and nothing on the surface indicates otherwise. But when Lynley enlists the help of his friends Simon and Deborah St. James, the trio's digging soon reveals that the Fairclough clan is awash in secrets, lies, and motives. Deborah's investigation of the prime suspect-Bernard's prodigal son Nicholas, a recovering drug addict-leads her to Nicholas's wife, a woman with whom she feels a kinship, a woman as fiercely protective as she is beautiful. Lynley and Simon delve for information from the rest of the family, including the victim's bitter ex-wife and the man he left her for, and Bernard himself. As the investigation escalates, the Fairclough family's veneer cracks, with deception and self-delusion threatening to destroy everyone from the Fairclough patriarch to Tim, the troubled son Ian left behind.

    Explosive eighteen / Janet Evanovich
    Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is used to danger and adventure; they follow her at every turn. But when international murder hits dangerously close to home, this could be more explosive than exciting... O nce Stephanie steps on the plane fromHawaiitoNewark, she hopes to put her hellish holiday behind her. But when her seatmate mysteriously disappears during the stopover in LA - to be found later in a garbage can - things are only going to get worse. O nly one other person has seen the missing photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying - and it just so happens to be Stephanie Plum. Now she's the target, and she doesn't want to end up in a garbage can... M ore to the point, she still has to deal with the fallout fromHawaii. Both the men in her life refuse to talk about it and all Stephanie will say is... It's complicated.

    The drop : a novel / Michael Connelly
    Harry Bosch has been given three years before he must retire from the LAPD, and he wants cases more fiercely than ever. In one morning, he gets two. DNA from a 1989 rape and murder matches a 29-year-old convicted rapist. Was he an eight-year-old killer or has something gone terribly wrong in the new Regional Crime Lab? The latter possibility could compromise all of the lab's DNA cases currently in court. Then Bosch and his partner are called to a death scene fraught with internal politics. Councilman Irvin Irving's son jumped or was pushed from a window at the Chateau Marmont. Irving, Bosch's longtime nemesis, has demanded that Harry handle the investigation. Relentlessly pursuing both cases, Bosch makes two chilling discoveries: a killer operating unknown in the city for as many as three decades, and a political conspiracy that goes back into the dark history of the police department.

    Death comes to Pemberley / P.D. James
    The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth's younger, unreliable sister - stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered. Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, PD James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.Death Comes to Pemberley is a distinguished work of fiction, from one of the best-loved, most- read writers of our time.

    The affair / Lee Child
    March 1997. A woman has her throat cut behind a bar in Carter Crossing, Mississippi. Just down the road is a big army base.Is the murderer a local guy - or is he a soldier? Jack Reacher, still a major in the military police, is sent in undercover. The county sheriff is a former U.S. Marine - and a stunningly beautiful woman. Her investigation is going nowhere. Is the Pentagon stonewalling her? Or doesn't she really want to find the killer? The adrenaline-pumping, high-voltage action in The Affair is set just six months before the opening of Killing Floor, and it marks a turning point in Reacher's career. If he does what the army wants, will he be able to live with himself? And if he doesn't, will the army be able to live with him? Is this his last case in uniform?

    Wednesday, 7 March 2012

    The Pacific Islands celebrate..

    ...throughout March across the Auckland region with Pasifika. And we are joining in.

    Join us to celebrate all things Pasifika at Auckland Libraries, where the Islands come alive. With activities for young and old, highlights on Auckland Libraries' Pacific Island treasures, specialised learning sessions and Storytimes with a Pacific flavour, there will be something for everyone.

    Auckland Libraries offers you Pacific stories and legends, bilingual books, CDs and DVDs in various Pacific languages, plus language learning tools and travel guides.

    Our Sir George Grey Special Collections holds internationally renowned Pacific taonga that you will not find anywhere else.

    Come and travel the Islands at your local library. To find out what's happening near you go to the special Pasifika page on our website. Or pick up a brochure at your local library. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our monthly Pasefika newsletter, with updates about the latest Pacific resources we offer.

    Pasifika isn't the only thing happening at Auckland Libraries in March. It's also NZ Book Month, the storytimes in the parks in the South are wrapping up this month and the Family Research lunchtime series is well underway for the year with several offerings. Check out the Events page on our website.

    Monday, 5 March 2012

    Browsing the shelves

    Guilty confession : when I visit someone's house, when I watch a movie, or when I read a magzine, and there is a bookshelf somewhere, I will browse the shelves to see what is on display.

    I'm intrigued to see what books other people willlingly put on display. It answers brings up sorts of questions - which genres do they read most, which authors are their favourites, do they collect cookbooks, do they have beautiful coffee table books, are they fans of pulp fiction?

    So it was with great pleasure that I recently got to "browse"the personal book shelves of well-known writers, such as Alison Bechdel, Steven Pinker, Lev Grossman, Junot Diaz, and Philip Pullman, in Unpacking My Library : Writers and Their Books.

    The authors willingly talked about what is on their bookshelves, how they organise their personal libraries (answers ranged from "by topic", "by age", "wherever they fit"), as well as nominating their personal Top 10 books from their collections.

    There's also a companion volume - Unpacking My Library : Architects and Their Books.

    So am I the only one who "browses" other people's bookshelves? Surely not.

    Thursday, 1 March 2012

    Does fiction have the power to change attitudes?

    I have recently been recommended to read Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron. A simple plot sysnopsis might be : a coming-of-age story of a young boy hoping to become the first medal winner for his country in a track event.

    However, the story takes on a different hue when you find out that Jean is a young Tutsi boy, living & training amidst mounting tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda, trying to make sense of the world around him.

    My friend knew that I had read We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed without families : stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch, and we'd talked at length about the genocide in Rwanda, so she thought that I might interested in this fictional story set in Rwanda as well.

    As I placed my hold for Running the Rift, I noticed the words "Winner, Bellwether Prize for Fiction, 2010". I was intrigued, what is the Bellwether Prize for Fiction?

    Turns out this prize was set up by author Barbara Kingsolver, in support of Literature for Social Change. I'm looking forward to this book arriving on my holds shelf, to see what it means to be the winner of an award for "social change".