Friday, 31 August 2012

5 handy home hints that are so easy even I got them right

"I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on."
- Roseanne Barr

Real simple : 869 new uses for old things / edited by Rachel Hardage and Sharon Tanenbaum ; photographs by James Wojcik ; illustrations by Kate Francis ; prop styling by Linden Elstran.
I'm not the best homemaker. Some days I feel like I should be concerned about it, and then I think that surely life is too short to be overly fussed about how to get softdrink stains out of the settee. (That would be Mr2's fault, not mine, I'd like to point out). The other day I came across a book about the 500 wonders of baking soda. Baking. Soda. I was a bit dubious, so I requested every book we have on baking soda (don't judge me with your Judgey McJudgerson faces) and am putting some of the tips to the test. (That'll be another post for another day). AND THEN I came across THIS BOOK which, you know, I just HAD TO HAVE. (I know, I talk/think in caps far too much). I showed it to friends last night and they related the most hilarious stories. I'm keeping them anonymous BECAUSE REASONS. I think you'll get a kick out of them, though, so here are their stories, followed by 5 home hints from this book that worked for me.

Friend1: I used egg in my hair once and it really worked. It was great
Me: Egg? Or egg white?
Friend1: Egg. The whole egg *slight pause* Whatever you do, though, don't use hot water to rinse it out because...
Me: No. No way. OMG no way. Scrambled eggs?! *trying not to laugh*
Friend1: Look...
Me: SCRAMBLED EGGS? You had scrambled eggs in your hair? *doubled over screaming with laughter* (Because I'm sympathetic like that, obviously)
Friend1: Well, yes, but, yes. YES *snooty look*
Me: *beyond words*

Friend2: I read somewhere once that if you need to get into tight shoes you take a bar of soap and run it around your heels and feet...
Me: *interrupts* Dry or wet?
Friend2: Dry. Anyway, you run it around your feet and then you can slide into your tight shoes easier
*all of us kinda pause and think about that*
Friend2: I've never done it, though, because I think my feet sweat so much I'd be worried that I'd leave a trail of bubbles wherever I go
Me: WTH? *doubled over - AGAIN - hooting with laughter*

Seriously, I'm not sure why people tell me anything because it either ends up in a blog post (albeit anonymously), or with me laughing at them. Mostly, both. SO! There's your dose of humour for the day. I'm not Suzie Homemaker. I'm never going to be. I can't say that I'm going to mourn that fact, either. Simple tips, though, like these, are things that I can manage quite happily. Maybe I'll make something like this a regular monthly post. What do you think?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bloggity, blogging, bloggers...

I have a confession to make.

I am an addict.

Now don't get all excited. My addiction is nowhere near as scandalous as booze, drugs or sex. I am not a celebrity after all.

My addiction - make that addictions - are fairly mundane. There's my addiction to books (do I really need to explain this one) and chocolate (Hello it's chocolate, need I say anything more...) and Scifi television (go figure). My latest addiction is a rather odd one, though understandable given the direction my life has taken in the last few months.

I have become addicted to reading blogs and I blame it entirely on MJ, Tosca, Scriven and my other fellow bloggers. (Picture of me giving you all a firm stare over the rim of my glasses).

I could of course say it was all entirely in the name of research (which would be partially true) but really it's just a fascinating and very addictive and easy way to pass the time. There are some truly great blogs out there and some that are so bad that they are almost good, if you know what I mean.

One of the wonderful things about being a blogger is that there is also a small chance that you may get seen by a publishing house and pick up a book contract.

So here's a salute to my fellow bloggers who are out there in the big wide world, slaving away at their computer, wondering if they will ever have a life.

Power to the people! (a chocolate fish to anyone who can guess which tv show this was from).

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Comic Book Month!

I'm super excited. September is Comic Book Month at Auckland Libraries, which means we get a whole month to celebrate one of my favourite storytelling formats. There's plenty to sink your teeth into, with competitions and events galore.

Show off your art skills and enter our create a character competition. There are some great prizes up for grabs in four age groups, which means that anyone can enter. That amazing picture to the left is of last year's winner, and we've used it on our posters and fliers - so not only are there prizes on offer, but fame too is up for grabs!

If art isn't your thing, and you just want to get reading, all you need to do to enter our other competition is borrow five comics, graphic novels, or manga. You'll go in the draw to win a cool prize, and the top 5 readers in Auckland will also get their hands on some goodies.

There's more information about these competitions and events on our website, or you can come into the library and ask your friendly neighbourhood librarian! Keep tuned throughout September for comics recommendations and reviews.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Making a name for themselves

This "modern" trend for giving children ludicrous or unique names is hardly new, despite what they tell us.

Admittedly not many people in times past would have come up with LaFawwnduh, but some poor kids were landed with Fear-God-and-Be-Thankful, Armagil and Notwithstanding - and that doesn't include the very frequent use of surnames as first names. Or the trend to name kids after places, saints or Roman senators. Uncumber, anyone?

What all this is leading to (finally!) is a celebration of the most unusual names in fiction. They are an art-form in themselves. Charles Dickens and Ian Fleming, in particular, are responsible for some of the most melodious and appropriate names in the English language. Who could forget Wackford Squeers, Uriah Heep and Pussy Galore? Terry Pratchett is another. I personally love Windle Poons.

In fact, I discovered there's even a word for a name that matches a person's character, like Squire Allworthy, Mistress Malaprop and all those other characters from eighteenth-century literature. It's an aptronym, or charactonym.

Learn something every day.

Here's a list to roll off your tongue in a dull moment. Have fun - and see if you can remember any more.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Awaited sequels finally arrive in my hands

Ever finish a new book and can't wait to get your hands on the sequel? For me it is one of the painful pleasures of reading, getting to the end of the great book and knowing that the sequel is still months, or possibly years, away.

I have just finished two sequels that I have been eagerly anticipating since midway through last year. I had that delicious excitement when they both arrived at the same time, and I couldn't decide which to read first, so I read them both alongside one another - dipping into each one and reading a few chapters at a time, trying to eek out enjoyment factor.

One sequel far exceeded expectations - truth be told, I enjoyed it significantly more than the first book - and the other sequel, well, it wasn't so much that I enjoyed it as just kept reading it to find out what happened as the storyline was interesting, and I am curious to see what the third book holds.

However, now that I have finished these two books, I find myself back where I began, with another (at least) year-long wait for the anticipated ending of the trilogies.

There are a couple of titles that I am *still* waiting to see the long-awaited second book of the trilogy written and published, let alone the third book. The book I am now most eagerly awaiting is the sequel to The Passage by Justin Cronin. The second book, Twelve, has been delayed for publication once already (originally meant to be published last year), however the publisher is stating that it is definitely coming this year, so we have it on order, and my fingers are crossed that it really is going to happen!

Are there any sequels that you are hanging out to read, or any that you are still waiting for the second book to be published (or even written)? 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

5 mostly new graphic novels with really good reviews

"Look at him now, poor fellow. That's what a dose of reality does for you...never touch the stuff myself, you understand. I find it gets in the way of the hallucinations."
― Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke

Earlier this month, over on the Top 5 Goodies blog, I highlighted 5 new graphic novels that I'd spotted/requested/read. They were well worth the time. (My awesomeness at picking books amazes even me). I thought I'd round up another 5 for today's post here, although this time with a bit of a difference. I spent more than quite a while looking through the catalogue for ones that had been reviewed. Did you know that you can do that? Not all of our books have them, but sometimes they can help if you're a little uncertain about whether or not you really do want to read something. If you find a title in the catalogue with a cover, click on the cover, and any reviews will be listed under 'Additional information.' You can try with this book here: Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh. You should see a review by Publisher's Weekly. Success! You haz it! A little tip from me. Don't say I never do anything for you. So, quick intro from me, which is a bonus for you if you're all about the graphic novels and less about the talky talky. I give thee: 5 mostly new (and somewhat eclectic) graphic novels with really good reviews

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

New Music: July 2012

Sorry that this one is so late! A bad cold and I what I like to call ‘cotton-wool brain’ (being too sick to think straight) have hampered my timely publishing if this blog but I promise these albums are worth the wait.

The Gaslight Anthem: Handwritten
There is only a short amount of time to get into The Gaslight Anthem before they stop being indie cool and become main-stream. Handwritten is the band’s first major label release and it is a goodin! The lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon has a deliciously gritty voice that is a treat to listen to. I highly recommend this album for summer road trips and summer evening beverages.

Genre: Indie Rock.
You might like if you enjoy: 3 Days Grace, The Hold Steady
My favorite Songs: National Anthem, 45, Howl.

Nas: Life Is Good
With Life is Good being his 11th studio album, Nas has been around a little while. I’m pleased to report he’s still awesome. If you like classic, thoughtful hip hop then this one is for you. Songs like ‘Daughters’ show that middle age is a brilliant source of inspiration for Nas and proves that he isn’t slowing down.
Genre: Hip Hop.
You might like if you enjoy: Jay Z, Outkast, Busta Rhymes
My favorite Songs: Daughters, The Don, A Queens Story

Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again... The Hits
J to the L-O has released her first greatest hits album entitled Dance Again…The Hits. The album features songs from 1998-2012 and is a good collection of dance tracks from her various albums over the years and includes several new tracks. The first single ‘Dance Again’ is similar to her hit ‘On the Floor’ ft Pitbull (which is also featured on the album). I recommend turning this one up loud dancing around to it in your bedroom. I did. It was fun.

Genre: Pop, Latin Pop.
You might like if you enjoy: Usher, Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears
My favorite Songs: Get Right ft Fabolous, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Do it Well.

Chris Brown: Fortune
I reject Chris Brown’s comeback. Lemon out.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Utterly trivial

Right, the Olympics are over - time for the mental gymnastics.

Do you enjoy flicking through the Guinness World Records?
Do you collect nuggets of useless information like dead spiders in the downstairs loo?
Do your friends refuse to play Trivial Pursuits with you? (Or are you always stuck on one slice of pie?)
Having trouble recalling the currency of Lithuania? Or Australia, in fact?

Get a pen.

Here are some delightfully unnecessary compendia of human knowledge to use for your own nefarious purposes.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The power of the written word.

Something I've been think about lately.

It has been said that when William Booth (the founder of the Salvation Army) was on his death bed in 1912, he wanted to send a message to the leaders of the various Salvation Armies around the world. With the cost of Telegrams being so high he could only afford to send one word out. The word that he chose was simply ‘others’. This one powerful word went on to become the motto of the Salvation Army inspiring people around the world to act selflessly and give back just as William did. The Salvation Army hasn’t been able to find the documental proof of this telegram, so this story is purely anecdotal. But I can’t help but think that this simple story is the perfect example of the power of the written word.

History has given us some of the most powerful, inspiring words that will ever be spoken. Martin Luther King’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he called for equality and an end to discrimination will forever be imprinted in the minds of not only Americans but people around the world. His speech containing the famous words “I have a dream today” have become his legacy that has outlived him.

The ancient philosophers like Socrates and Plato with words like ‘I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance’ are still being quoted (and misquoted on Facebook) to this very day. And every year thousands of high school students around the world dive into the works of William Shakespeare. Learning stories of betrayal, love and tragedy. Then awkwardly acting out the famous words of Mark Antony “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”

Unfortunately language has also provided us with examples that aren’t so enchanting. There are countless songs being played on the radio that talk of being the biggest pimp on the block or going to the club to get a ‘drank’. And if I never hear the phrase ‘nek minnit’ ever again I will not be complaining.

These wonderful and not so wonderful examples can’t help but make me wonder that if we are lucky enough to be able to communicate with each other and leave our legacy in the form of words, should there be a sense of responsibility that comes with the power of speech? Should we think before we speak? Are all those arguments about grammar on Youtube valid? Should I stop talking smack about Glee on the internet?

So, valued reader. What do you think? Do we have a responsibility to use our words carefully or are they merely a means to and end? This is not a rhetorical question.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Just like a fairy tale

Fairy tales are so hot right now...even if Snow White does have a taste for forbidden fruit. Never trust a girl who flats with seven guys.
There's Once Upon a Time, Camelot and Grimm on TV, not to mention two Snow Whites on the screen, and a whole crop of Beauty and the Beasts.

In honour of this trend, I have hunted down some of the latest titles based on fairy tales. Sorry if it's a bit girly, this one - but if there are any males out there in cyberspace, try the Fables or Grimm Fairy Tales series. There's plenty for guys in graphic format! And Jim Butcher's Small Favour has a fantastic showdown with some oversized Billy Goats Gruff. If you haven't read his Dresden Files series yet, DO. This from someone who seldom reads fantasy, but I recognise great story and characters when I see them.

Moving on, every girl secretly wants a fairy tale ending  (unless it's a Hans Christian Andersen one, or you're the witch). So this is for you.

Monday, 13 August 2012

What does colour feel like?

I know, it seems a little odd to "feel" a colour, just bear with me.

Colour the stars by Dawn McMillan (author) and Keinyo White (illustrator) opens with :
Isaac and Luke sat together on the stream bank, the water washing over their feet, the bush standing guard behind them.
"Do you know about colours, Luke?" asked Isaac.

Think about that seemingly simple question : "Do you know about colours?".

How do you "know" colour? Do you "know" a colour by how something is visually represented? Do you "know" a colour by how it makes you feel when you see it? Do you "know" a colour by how something of a particular colour smells? Do you "know" what colour something is by the way it sounds?

[spoiler alert -- stop reading now if you don't want to know the story's twist]

What does colour mean to a blind person? In this story, Luke is blind. He says that he doesn't really know what people mean when they talk about colours, but that it is okay because he doesn't need colours.

The friendship between the two boys is key here, Isaac wants to share with Luke that colours aren't just visual, they are a feeling. Together they explore what colour feels like. For instance, if I said "sunshine", what colour do you think of?

Two highlights of this story for me are : the way in which Isaac explains the colour red, and then when Isaac explains about stars, "tiny pieces of yellow [...] against the black", Luke says quietly that he knows what black is. I got goosebumps.

Then Isaac shuts his eyes, and he realises that the world isn't just about colours, it is also about listening and sounds, and about the feelings that link in with those sounds. Luke responds that in his world, this is how it is, filled with sounds and feelings.

For me, this picture book is a great example of how an author's words meld perfectly with an illustrator's representation of the story. The author has written a story of two boys' friendship, and the illustrator has captured the sensations of this story perfectly.

Get hold of a copy of this book (it's available in English and Te Reo Māori), read it to a child you love, and then start a discussion about what colour "feels" like to them, it might surprise you with what you learn. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

5 books with WHAT ON EARTH titles

"Almost everything strange washes up near Miami."
― Rick Riordan

Wrong. Almost everything strange ends up on a bookshelf in a library near you. Book titles. We have them by the bucketload, and some of them are bound to have titles that raise your eyebrows. I randomly came across Crap dates : disastrous encounters from single life by Marsden, which is the image attached to this intro. I thought it would be funny. It seemed like it would be funny. While some of the experiences are, just as many are sad and (even if you don't squint) an outright declaration of sexual kinks on the first date. (Some within the first few minutes, actually). It did make me wonder what other kind of strange titles we have and, a few weird, deliberate searches later, I had THIS LIST: 5 books with WHAT ON EARTH titles!

What strange/wonderful titles have you come across on our shelves?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Found in translation

So you've discovered Scandinavian crime fiction. Thank you, Stieg Larsson.
You've since read everything by Henning Mankell, Camilla Lackberg and Jo Nesbo, and now you're wanting to vary your diet of Nordic red herring. Time to seek out some new pastures. Fiction in translation has never been hotter - even if it's been around for ages. Don Quixote was published in 1605, The 1001 Nights (otherwise known as the Arabian Nights) was translated in 1706, and the Decameron in about 1350. Children have been in on it for years. There's Heidi (Swiss), Pippi Longstocking (Swedish), The Neverending Story (German), The Little Prince (French), oh, and anything about Asterix, Babar, Tintin and those funny little Moomins from Finland. These days you can't move for graphic novels out of Japan or Korea. Face it, your kids are more cosmopolitan than you are - even Geronimo Stilton's native cheese is mozzarella. So, here's a little list to impress your friends with your grasp of culture. There's a fabulous world of literature out there, if you just have a map.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Oh No It's Raining Again

Given the weather at the moment it seemed fitting to start things off with a Supertramp song especially since its been rattling around in my head for the past few days (don't you just hate that when it happens).

As a kid I loved the rain and would sit for hours watching it fall, thinking deep thoughts. Of course I was only about 6 at the time so those deep thoughts were probably about what was for tea that night and what seemed like hours were probably only a few minutes but at the time the rain was a comforting presence that held me in fascination.

Nowadays it has lost much of its appeal and like many I am beginning to wish it would just go away. One of the good things, though, is that you have a good excuse to curl up in bed with a good book and a hot cup of chocolate and wile away the hours in the world of imagination, so really the rain gives me a reason to read even more. There are also plenty of great movies and music that I can watch or listen to that help push those rainy day blues away.

So if you're looking for something to put you in that summery mood why not try some of the following.