Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Isn't it great when you come across something new, whether it's a new author, a new song or a new TV show. One of the big perks of my job is that I constantly have new material coming across my desk so new discoveries are something that happens fairly frequently and regularly
Lately though I have noticed that I have been on a rather strange and perhaps worrisome trend. I seemed to have developed a fondness for what at best could be described as Rural Americana and at worst as Redneck or Hillbilly chic. Is there even such a term? If not then I just made it up and I added the chic part so it sounded just a little bit better, though I'm beginning to have qualms about even this.
It's a rather weird thing to be into and something that I am beginning to suspect lies entirely with my love for Supernatural. Not supernatural as is ghosts and zombies etc (though I enjoy that too) but Supernatural as in the TV show. You know the one. Cute guys, great music, the car (which deserves a show entirely of its own), funny one liners and a supporting cast that brings so much to an already great show.
Much of the show is set in the American Midwest, an area that I've never had a particular yearning to go and yet on some level I seem to be drawn to it. Maybe it's the music or perhaps it's that gun-ho attitude where people don't take crap from anyone and aren't afraid to shoot you if you do them wrong. Either way I've become hooked on this slice of American life.
Monday, 30 July 2012
Today is not a particularly great Monday for me. My eyes are tired, my voice is croaky and my ears are ringing. It’s all due to a man called Ed Sheeran and I could not be more grateful to him.
Last night Ed blew the roof off of Aotea centre in Auckland and it was AMAZING! Seriously this guy is a genius, if you’ve heard his songs on the radio you would probably think that a concert with no band, just Ed and a baby guitar would be a pretty quiet affair but let me tell you it was not. With the help of a loop pedal and his in-house gospel choir (the audience) he sung, rapped and beat-boxed his way through a two hour show.
Ed is coming back next March for another two shows but I highly recommend you get his album out from the library. It’s such a winner and not at all what you would expect from a 21 year old ginger from Suffolk.
Genre: I would describe it as folky, acoustic, pop with a bit of rap and a ton of honesty and wit thrown in. I don’t really think you can box Ed in like that.
My favorite Songs: Grade 8, Lego House, You Need Me I don’t Need You, A Team, Small Bump
Friday, 27 July 2012
There's the 30 odd pile of books by my bed for a start... plus some fan fiction writing, but even so there will be times when I feel like a break from all the reading and writing and just want to blob out in front of the TV or in my case, the computer with its DVD drive.
So while my partner is yelling and cheering at the TV screen I will be snug and warm on the other couch with my laptop on my... well lap and headphones plugged in watching something else (though of course, I will glance occasionally at the other, bigger screen).
Finding something to watch isn't going to be a problem for me either, as my DVD list is just as long as my book list. So if you're like me looking for something to while away the games or a cold winter evening there might be something here that will catch your interest.
Thursday, 26 July 2012
Quick update: Have amended this post! Just this morning we placed Moore's The Lighthouse on order, and it is now available to request. - tosca
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Is it your Un-birthday today (and next Tuesday as well)?
Why not have a "thank God it's Friday" morning tea with your workmates every week?
Did someone's nephew just pass his driving test? Bring on the crackers, cheese and cake!
Have a dress-up day in honour of...nothing special. Bet some chocolate on what colour the weather girl will be wearing tonight. Adopt a team for the Olympics and bring in a dish from their country. Go nuts.
In fact, there are plenty of things to inspire us, even in these tough times. We just have to know where to look.
Banish that mind-fog with a few of these inspirational titles - and suggest a few schemes of your own...
Monday, 23 July 2012
Review: Between the sheets : the literary liaisons of nine 20th-century women writers by Lesley McDowell
- Sylvia Plath, 1958
Review submitted by: Rachel
Title: Between the sheets : the literary liaisons of nine 20th-century women writers
Author: Lesley McDowell
Publisher: Overlook Press
Age group: Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: Why did a gifted writer like Sylvia Plath stumble into a marriage that drove her to suicide? Why did Hilda Doolittle want to marry Ezra Pound when she was attracted to women? Why did Simone DeBeauvoir pimp for Jean-Paul Sartre? The author examines the extent to which each woman was prepared to put artistic ambition before personal happiness, and how dependent on their male writing partners these women felt themselves to be. She probes the consequences of the women's codependence and reveals how in many instances, their partnerships liberated unspoken desires, encouraged artistic innovations, and even shored up literary reputations. Fascinating and innovative, this book is an invaluable addition to libraries of literary criticism and feminism.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
I've only once in my life reviewed a picture book and that was for an assignment, so I'm not really sure how to approach this. The book in question, however, is worth the effort.
A boy finds a dinosaur egg and brings it home. But that isn't the story. The story is the friendship that grows between Kitty and the dinosaur that hatches. It's a beautiful story, told with only about 12 words (not counting sound effects). In this case it isn't the words that make the story, but the pictures. The illustrations are inspired by Japanese ink paintings (I know this because it says so inside the cover, not because I know anything about art), expressive and warm and rich. I love them. I could stare at them for hours.
I particularly love the cat. It's so cat-like and full of personality that I wanted to take it home.
For a while after I read this book I could only think in exclamation marks. Cat! Dinosaur! Cute! Pictures! Colours! Gah! It was a little overwhelming, but I had a silly grin on my face and warm fuzzies in my belly. This book isn't much good for reading aloud, but it is the kind of book you want to linger over and read again (and again). It is, in short, delightful.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
There's a chance that some of you may have heard of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and already written it off. I mean the publishers of this book are 'MTV Books' which in itself is kind of gross and you may have seen the many thousands of oh-so-edgy quotes and gifs on Tumblr backed by pictures of snow/flowers/arms and God knows what else. But before you write this off as hipster nonsense; hear me out because it's actually kind of amazing.
Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up. (From http://www.goodreads.com/)
There are several pretty solid reasons why I liked this book and I think you, anonymous reader, may like it for the same reasons so hear me out:
-Charlie is a bit peculiar and awkward that his interactions with other people are either endearingly cute or hilariously uncomfortable. He's odd, and I like that because it makes me feel normal in comparison.
-This book was written in the 90's so it's gloriously free of cell phones and Facebook and the kids actually go outside. Ahh, the good old days.
- While Charlie is a bit of a spaz he has amazing taste in music and books (there goes my attempt at not writing about music). Charlie makes mix tapes featuring The Smiths, Fleetwood Mac, Suzanne Vega and Procol Harum. And reads books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, On The Road and The Fountainhead.
-This September the movie of TPOBAW is coming out and it's directed by Stephen Chbosky himself. Which fascinates me because when I saw the casting I thought 'Emma Watson as Sam is just plain wrong!' then I realised the author did the casting so I've decided to shut up and accept that I don't know anything.
I know you may be thinking 'Laura, you just said that this book mentions The Smiths and Jack Kerouac and you're telling me it's not hipster nonsense?' And I will be the first to admit that this book does have a bit of a cult following but unlike Glee it's actually a quality book that's defiantly worth your time. And I promise that if you find Charlie so annoying you want to push him out of a moving car; then I will watch an hour of Glee to make up for it*.
*I lied, I'm not doing that.
Monday, 16 July 2012
Part of me would have liked to have had some kind of sporting skill. To be able to kick butt like Buffy, or dance like Madonna, but alas I am sadly lacking in all these areas. Walking is about my limit, though even that can cause me problems; something that the numerous sprained ankles and even a dislocated shoulder that I have had would testify to.
I have come to terms with my serious lack of co-ordination and to any dreams that I may of had of being an a gymnast, a dancer or a kick ass uber vampire slayer.
This doesn't mean though that I still can't appreciate the skill in others, or that I don't enjoy watching sport, because I do.
I'll admit I'm not quite the fanatic about it that my partner is, who freely admits that he'd watch New Zealand compete in any sport, even if it was grass growing. If New Zealand's competing he is watching. You've gotta love the dedication, even if you personally think it's just a little nuts, but as he would probably say "Never get between a man and his sport".
As you can imagine he is (more than a little) looking forward to the Olympics. His calendar has been cleared, his clients have been informed and everyone knows that they are not to contact him unless it's a matter of life and death for the two weeks that the games are on. As I said, just a little nuts.
I will be, of course, watching at least some of the games and cheering our guys and girls on as they do what they do best.
In the meantime there are always plenty of sporting books to fill in the time until then.
The book of Olympic lists by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky.
Just some of the lists mentioned on the cover of this book are enough to make me think about reading it, 'The 7 best excuses for failing a doping test, The 5 most violent water polo incidents.'
The mind kind of boggles at what else might be listed in this book.
Munich 1972 : tragedy, terror, and triumph at the Olympic Games by David Clay Large.
I'm too young to remember these games or the terrible event that happened there, though I have seen the images that were captured from this time
It shocked the world and changed the way that we viewed sporting events and certainly changed the way they were run with security now as big a feature as the games themselves.
How to watch the Olympics : scores and laws, heroes and zeros-- an instant initiation into every sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton ; diagrams by Belinda Evans.
Have you ever wanted to know exactly what is Greco-Roman wrestling?
I can't say I have but if I did then this would be the book that would tell me all about it along with every other Olympic sport. Sounds just like the kind of book that I will need to guide me through the current Olympic Games.
The armchair Olympian by Phil Ascough.
Described as being strangely addictive and the book to release your inner sporting geek.
I'm not sure if I have one of those, Scifi geek yes, sporting geek... mmm not so much, but if this is the book that will get me in touch with my inner sportsman (make that sportswoman) then who am I to judge.
At least it has quizzes.
Second chance : the autobiography by Mark Todd with Kate Green.
I remember when Mark Todd won his first Olympic Gold and his second.
Both competitions were nail biting stuff that left you on the edge of your seat and made not only Mark Todd a legend but his horse Charisma one too, which is just as well since he (the horse) is the one doing all the running and jumping.
100 essential things you didn't know you didn't know about sport by John D. Barrow.
"Focuses on the mysteries of running, jumping, swimming and points scoring across the whole sporting spectrum. This title lets you find out: Why high-jumpers use the Fosbury Flop? How fast Usain Bolt can ultimately run and how he could break his records without running any faster? And more."
Personally I'm not sure I want to know 100 things about sport then again it might come in handy in our daily quiz at work.
Replay : capturing 20 years of New Zealand sporting glory.
Focusing on the last 20 years of New Zealand competing in sports I'm actually quietly surprised as to how many of these events I had actually watched.
Obviously my partner's watching habits have been rubbing off onto me of which he would be pleased about and which I'm more than a little alarmed. Next I'll be watching tiddlywinks.
Run like crazy : 52 marathons 52 weeks 42 countries : how running changed my life by Tristan Miller.
Now this is the kind of book that appeals to me, someone somewhere doing something utterly crazy for no good reason than it sounded like a good idea.
He may not win an Olympic medal but Tristan Miller certainly has my admiration for even attempting something like this.
Friday, 13 July 2012
I've never thought of myself as particularly English. My family ties to New Zealand go as far back as the 1840s and there is even a photo of one of my ancestors in the Early Settlers Museum in Dunedin so I am, pretty much, as 'kiwi' as you can get.
My accent, though, apparently has other ideas; something I am made all too aware of every time I venture overseas.
I often get compliments - which is nice - but rarely does anyone pick up that I am a New Zealander or even (dare I say) an Australian. Even the English think I'm English. How that came about I have no idea.
Then again, perhaps I do...
Growing up, Basil Brush, The Goodies, and Follyfoot were the things that I watched along with reading avidly The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and every other book in the Narnia series; it was after all the Harry Potter of its day. All of these things are probably to blame for me sounding just a little bit like one of the characters that were portrayed in them.
My Englishness extends to other areas also. I certainly have a English sense of humour and, apologies to Mum if you're reading this, but I swear like an Englishman too. Like Spike, bollocks, bloody and bugger are the usual expletives that are most likely to come out of my mouth. I love words like gosh and tosser and pillock too.
So with the London Olympics almost upon us it seems appropriate to celebrate all things English.
Tally Ho and all that.
The love story of Ross and Demelza captivated a nation back in the 70s. Being more interested in Doctor Who at the time my memories of this show were a little vague but with it's release on DVD I was able to recently watch again and from the moment its distinctive and haunting opening music started I remembered why this show was so good.
There's love and betrayal and revenge and smuggling and war, all set against the beautiful Cornish scenery.
Pride and Prejudice
Okay so I like costume dramas and I'm a sucker for a romance story - I'm a girl, it's allowed.
For many, including me, this is the version of Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth was the perfect Mr Darcy, so much so that writer Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones fame created her character Mark Darcy purely on Colin Firth's portrayal.
Who can forget that wet shirt scene - sigh...
Wallace and Gromit 3 cracking adventures
The adventures of Wallace and Gromit never fail to make me smile. I just love these series of films that the talented and very patient Nick Park made.
These are the kind of movies that appeal to the kid in us all.
Mothership by Led Zeppelin
Led Zep rocks.
There really is nothing more to say other than my favourite album is Led Zeppelin III but the library unfortunately doesn't have that so this greatest hits CD will have to do.
Hit Parade by Paul Weller
Who is Paul Weller you are probably wondering, which is a pity since this man is considered one of the greats of British music and the grandfather of modern music in the UK but who is, sadly, hardly known here in NZ.
I've been a fan since the 80s, first when he was the front man for The Jam then when he when onto form The Style Council before he finally went out on his own.
Picking a favourite of his is virtually impossible, as I like nearly everything he has done, so of course his Hit Parade album is a must listen containing as it does all of my favourites.
Everyone loves Blackadder, at least everyone I know does. We all have our favourite of the series, - for me it's a toss between series 2 and 3. Two has Queenie and a rather dashing looking Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson should really wear a beard like that much more often) and Three has the wonderful Hugh Laurie as George the Prince Regent.
This is a show you can watch again and again and laugh yourself until you hurt every time. No wonder it was recently voted as the best British TV show of all time in a recent UK survey.
The Good Life
This show features four great comedy actors who all went on to better things but are still remembered today for this delightful show about giving up the rat race and enjoying the good life.
It's a dream that many of have and was certainly way ahead of its time in promoting a greener lifestyle that many are now taking up.
The English Patient
I'll be honest, this movie isn't set in England. In fact it has virtually nothing to do with England other than its title and the fact that the lead actors are all English.
Yet despite that, this movie is about as English as you can get. It's romantic, has beautiful Egyptian scenery and Ralph Fiennes has a voice that just makes you melt - well it does me.
The complete tales & poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Winnie the Pooh, along with the rest in the series, were about the first books ever given to me. I loved these stories and the poems and even now can remember the words to such wondeful poems as "James James Morrison Morrison" and "What is the matter with Mary Jane".
This is a book that all children should have read to them at least once in a lifetime - if not more so.
The Last of the Summer Wine
Another show that I loved as a kid and that I am now rewatching on DVD.
Compo was my favourite with his scruffy appearance, trousers held up with string and utter joy for life as well as his passion for Nora Batty, whose wrinkly stockings constantly fanned his flame.
This is the England many of us think of - with rolling fields and rambles over mountains and picnics by the river. It takes us back to the home of our ancestors.
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
According to the clever hamsters who churn out Wikipedia, Bastille Day is properly La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration), and most French people call it le quatorze juillet (that's...the fourteenth of July). Of course, it celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789, which liberated a cache of gunpowder and weapons, and seven prisoners. Ninety-nine people died in the attack.
There were also three births - Liberté, Egalité and their brother Fraternité.
Some say they're still alive today.
But ahem, the list:
Secrets of a Lazy French Cook - Marie-Morgane Le Moël
I also recommend Hugo and Midnight in Paris, which recently featured in Tosca's blog.
The Lavender Keeper - Fiona McIntosh
Le Road Trip - Vivian Swift
Murder on the Eiffel Tower - Claude Izner
French Food Safari - Maeve O' Meara with Guillaume Brahimi
Peaches for Monsieur le Curé - Joanne Harris
The sequel to Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes. It isn't often you receive a letter from the dead. When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in which eight years ago, she opened a chocolate shop. But returning to her old home, Vianne is completely unprepared for what she is to find there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea - and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the church, a minaret. Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne's erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him?
Paris I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down - Rosecrans Baldwin
Rosecrans Baldwin always dreamed of living in Paris - drinking le café, eating les croissants, walking in les jardins - so when an opportunity presented itself to work for an advertising agency in Paris, he couldn’t turn it down. Despite the fact that he had no experience in advertising. And that he barely spoke French. But when he and his wife arrived, things were not exactly as he remembered from a family vacation when he was nine. This is a comic account of observing the French capital from the inside out, a book about a young man finding his preconceptions replaced by the oddities of a vigorous, nervy city - which is just what he needs to fall in love with Paris for the second time.
The French Dog / The French Cat - Rachael McKenna
In The French Dog, renowned New Zealand animal photographer Rachael McKenna (née Hale) has captured a host of unforgettable dogs: dachshunds, poodles, Labradors, bulldogs, and more in a variety of stunning locations, from stately chateaux to chic Paris addresses to cobblestoned streets in quiet villages. In The French Cat, Rachael also tells the story of her move to France and experience discovering the beauty of her surroundings, the culture, and, of course, the cats, with her husband and new baby in tow.
My French Affair - Amanda Taylor-Ace
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Books, of course, will always be my first love but magazines come a close second. It's a love affair that goes a long way back.
The first magazine I can remember reading was Bunty. It was the most perfect magazine for a seven year old reading fanatic such as myself, filled as it was with stories about boarding schools and girl detectives. I so wanted to be like the girls in the stories I read. To share in their adventures, to solve crimes and to have midnight feasts while trying not to be caught by the headmistress. It all sounded so wonderful.
As I got older other magazines came and went. There was My Guy and Oh Boy and Tiger Beat but the best of them all was Jackie, it was the ultimate teen girl mag and throughout my teens I followed this magazine with a dedication that only a teenage girl can have as each week I eagerly waited for the latest issue to arrive only to devour its contents within a few hours.
Now days my reading taste has changed a little but when a shiny new magazine hits my hands I still get that same thrill. They are to me, glossy, bite size pieces of joy.
So here's to magazines. Long may they live and continue.
SciFiNow : the premier sci-fi fantasy horror & cult TV magazine
It probably comes as no surprise that I include this title as one of my favourites. After all the latest issue has Dean and Sam, the boys from Supernatural on its cover (sign...) which is reason enough to read it.
It is though a bloody good magazine, filled with articles about all the latest in the world of sci-fi, from Supernatural to Promenthus to interviews with writers such as George R. R. Martin.
Now go away while I study this magazine with the intensity it deserves.
A recent discovery for me and one that I am enjoying immensely.
If you're into writing and books and reading then I recommend that you read this as it will open you to all kinds of aspects of the written world from how to write a good crime novel to publishing your own e-book to where authors get their ideas from.
It's fascinating stuff.
Good reading : the magazine for book lovers
Another magazine aimed at those who love everything about books and reading. Being an Australian publication it has a slightly more local flavour and is filled with lots of reviews of upcoming books.
If you're anything like me, you'll come away with an ever increasing list of books that you'll want to read.
Empire has been around awhile, since 1989 in fact. That it's survived when so many other magazines have fallen under the blade is probably a testament to how good it is.
Like Sci-Fi Now this is a mag that I look forward to and read from cover to cover. No skimming articles here, instead I work my way through each and every little tidbit, often with a pen by my side so that I can take note of any movie that I decide that I just have to see. As you can imagine this list, like my book list, can get pretty long, actually make that really long...
Who do you think you are? magazine.
As you probably know from my last post I've been doing my family tree for some time now and like all family treers (okay so it's not a real word) I need all the help I can get in how to find that elusive and sneaky relative who refuses to be found.
Family history has become big business in the last few years and Who Do You Think You Are has been partially responsible for the sudden interest in finding one's ancestors.
Tying in with the show is the magazine which contains much more than what is shown on screen. There are Q & A sections, book reviews, hints and tips on where to go next; the amount of detail that is covered is endless.
BBC Good Food.
Now, though I'm not much of a cook I am a bit of foodie. In fact I love food; the smells, the colours, the taste, it's tantalising stuff.
I love looking through foodie books and magazines too. Everything always looks so perfect, so eatable, that it makes me wish that I could cook just so I could try some of the amazing recipes that are featured.
My favourite foodie magazine is this one, with its brightly filled pages and meals that make my mouth water. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Monday, 2 July 2012
However for those of you not so driven by sport, Auckland Libraries decided to do something different for the holidays. During the July school holidays all our activities are themed to be "Arty Party". Join us for a fun-filled arty adventure.We have lots of exciting stories and activities for the kids to enjoy across the Auckland region, including:
Crafty kids – let your imagination run wild with origami, paint, stencils and more.
Quizzes – challenge your friends and see who will come out on top.
Scavenger hunts – get your friends together and find the answers to all the clues.
Check out the Auckland Libraries website school holidays page for whats happening around Auckland.