Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Quentin Tarantino: the true master of revenge.

Last night I watched Quentin Tarantino's new film Django Unchained. It was AWESOME! Everyone should go see this movie* it's incredible. In the mean time we have some of Quentin's other masterpieces in the library so be sure to check these out too!

Reservoir Dogs   Four perfect killers. They were perfect strangers, assembled to pull off the perfect crime. Then their simple robbery explodes into a bloody ambush, and the ruthless killers realize one of them is a police informer. But which one?

Pulp Fiction Low-rent hit men, their boss's sexy and wilful wife, a desperate prize fighter and the most outrageous pair of armed robbers to ever pack a rod in a wild mixture of explosive action and wickedly funny humour.

Kill Bill Volume 1 Four years after taking a bullet in the head at her own wedding, the bride emerges from a coma and decides its time for payback - with a vengeance. Having been gunned down by her former boss and his deadly squad of international assassins, it's a kill-or-be-killed fight she didn't start, but is determined to finish.

Death Proof  A deranged stuntman stalks his victims from the safety of his killer car, but when he picks on the wrong group of babes, all bets are off. He becomes involved in an automotive duel of epic proportions.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Awesomeness That Is Austen

You may have noticed a trend amongst us bloggers over the past couple of weeks - a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, which coincidentally, is today

So it will come as no surprise that I'm going to continue that trend with a post of my own.  For me it's not so much about the books (wonderful that they are) but the screen adaptions.

Personally I'm a sucker for any romantic, period movies or TV series and Jane Austen fits the bill wonderfully.

The visuals are always beautiful, the acting top-notch and the men, generally, are swoon worthy.  Most of us (well except for Scriven who is a complete anomaly) fell in love with Colin Firth's Mr Darcy, he of the wet shirt scene, the glorious sideburns and piercing gaze...

Okay where was I... oh yes Jane Austen adaptions.

There have of course been several over the years and everyone has their favourite.  Romantic that I am, I have most of them in my DVD collection.  You can, you see, never have too much Austen, because frankly Austen is awesome.

Those words, the hidden meanings, the characters and the romance - all in one glorious package and created by woman who lived in an age where women writers were few and far between.

Pride and Prejudice is probably the most recognised of her works but her other works are just as wonderful so if you haven't caught up with the awesomeness that is Austen or just want to indulge in a romantic feast check out the following.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Stalking the catalogue: The tiny book of tiny stories

"Hidden well beneath every snail's shell is a propeller for galactic travel"
- flight of the snail by blbest (check out all of blbest's records - some of them are so beautiful they make me want to cry. I'm not kidding)

The tiny book of tiny stories. Volume 2 / directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and produced by Jared Geller
I'll cop to it. The title made me curious. Requested the book and it came in and...I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. It feels somewhat incomplete. I thought it was just me, so I jumped on the intramanets (interwebs/intramanets = internet) for more info and discovered that this book works better if you know about HitRECord in advance. I didn't then. I do now.

This book is my first introduction to the HitRECord community. And I'm totally blown away. As collaborative communities go, does it get any better than this? People upload their work - video, text, images, audio - and others 'remix' (add to) them. There's some brilliant stuff. The book itself is fantastic, but I think it's a better experience if you look up the records on the website so you can see them both.

This stuff all reads like it's written/imagined up by people who know me. Strange feeling. Truly, you need this book in your life. And I'm off to stalk volume 1.

HitRECord - my recommendations:
Found 3 tracks I absolutely liked and so I'm sharing them. Deal with it.
1) Yes we're sinking
2) Garden
3) Do it like dial up

Peace out!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The finest of all the Mr Darcys

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice I thought that I should do something to celebrate and what better way to celebrate than to appreciate Colin Firth. The finest of all the Mr Darcys.

Aside from the fact that Colin Firth is not at all hard to look at he's also pretty good at pretending for a living. He's well known for his signature role as the dashing, mysterious Englishman (Hope Springs, Love Actually) or the stern father figure to misbehaving children (Nanny Mcphee, St Trinian's) but he is best known for his roles as Mr Darcy. First in the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice and then in Bridget Jones's Diary and it's sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

The Mark Darcy of the Bridget Jones franchise was based on the Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and even though the latter is clearly the better of the two, Firth pulls it off completely, making grown women swoon in the process.

If you're anything like us bloggers and you want to celebrate one of the true classics of literature then have a perve at Colin Firth. I couldn't recommend him highly enough.

(And yes, I'm well aware that most of my blogs are about aesthetically pleasing male specimens).

Stalking the catalogue: Is that a Picasso on your fridge?

"The message is clear: lighten up, surrealists. Sometimes it actually is une pipe."

Is that a Picasso on your fridge? : kids' "masterpieses" critiqued by an art expert by Dan Consiglio
Consiglio separates 'finger-painted genius from crayon-doodled crap.' In essence, parents submit their child's art, and a critic reviews them.

Tell me that doesn't make you curious. Tell me that doesn't make you think "Well, THAT has to be a major case of WTFery, right there, doesn't it?" Tell me you won't request it. Tell me so I can shake your hand because I don't have the won't-power to resist it. And now I'm waiting not-so-patiently for it to come through.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

YOUR picks for best series ever!

Hello readers and people who stumbled across this by accident,

I promised the winner of our inaugural Lit Quiz that she would get the chance to tell us all about her favourite books. Our winner is Lingshu Liu, a student from the North Shore who has just spent a week volunteering on Tiritiri Matangi. Sounds amazing...

Anyway, instead of single books, she has chosen her favourite series. Have a look at her picks, and tell us yours.

The Noble Warriors Series by William Nicholson
The three books represent a different period of the protagonist’s ascension into a fictional spiritual awareness. This is a really awesome series that I try to avoid just because I can’t stop reading it whenever I start. I also like the idea of having power to control objects with your mind.
The author William Nicholson has also written another young adult series of books called the Wind on Fire Trilogy.
The Chanters of Tremaris trilogy by Kate Constable
In this series the “special power” that the protagonist has is that she can sing all the songs so that she can control all the elements, unlike others who can only sing one kind of song. With strong minded characters their goals are always very definite, especially when they go against the general consensus and succeed, which makes them even more epic.
The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris D’Lacey
These books are about big dragons, small clay dragons and some polar bears. Even though these books are junior fiction, they are still a worthy read. I like this series because the idea of having special clay dragons that live in your house and do the house chores is pretty cool. D’Lacey even incorporates a warning message for climate change with the melting Arctic ice cap into his books.
Another fantastic read by Chris D’Lacey is Fly, Cherokee, Fly.
Just some other series books (there are too many to list): The Watermark Trilogy by Penelope Todd, The Salt Trilogy by Maurice Gee, The Caretaker Trilogy by David Klass, The Declaration Series by Gemma Malley, all books by Tamora Pierce and The Karazan Quartet by V. M. Jones.
I do have one favourite book:
I must admit, this book was first introduced to me as a text from Literature at school. Despite the stereotypical “boringness” and “pretty standard-ness” of compulsory school reads, I actually enjoyed reading and discussing this book. I think that by studying texts, you are able to interpret books from a different perspective and actually understand the context. In the ULoB, the author explores the philosophical concept of attaining happiness. The motifs in this book are also – in a more modern word – “cute.” I really, really like this book.

So, ladies and gentlemen, what are your favourite series for adults or children? What are we missing out on?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Stalking the catalogue: What the doctor smokes

"Funny and ridiculous as they undoubtedly are, deliberate humour doesn't play a big part in these adverts, maybe becausei it's only in retrospect that we can see that Dri-Poo for the hair might not be the most savoury of names, or that a horse machine (guaranteed satisfaction) might find its real market in sexually frustrated Victorian housewives."

What the doctor smokes : and other inspiring adverts through the ages by Kate Parker and the Advertising Archives
I have long been fascinated by vintage adverts and vintage posters. They provide an interesting look into an era that, born in the mid-70s, I would never know. They give me a slight feeling of nostalgia for the good times that my parents and grandparents would tell me about when I was young. More than that, though, they provide much in the way of hilarity. By the time I came along it was adverts promoting food served in aspic (blech) and fondue parties held by people who looked far too happy to eat things dipped in cheese (why why why) and crocheted vests galore (yes I am judging you for your vest).

Not so secret joy: Looking through our Heritage Images database every now and then for 'advertising' images and finding such gems as a model playing a piano accordion whilst surrounded by even more accordions, or a model wearing knitted beach wear. Nostalgia makes me do it. Now you can do it, too.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Secrets and Lies and the World of Spies

"Bond. James Bond."

Okay, admit it.  You're now humming that theme in your head.  The one that we all recognise.

And it's no wonder.

Since the arrival of what is probably the most famous fictional spy of them all, James Bond, our fascination with the world of spies and spies themselves has enticed and allured us.  Published in 1953 Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, showed us that spies were men of action and our love affair with them has continued on since then with the movies only enhancing their appeal.

For me it's always been about spies.

Some woman like cowboys.  Others like fireman or vampires. Or maybe even a vampire fireman, if there is such a thing.

But for me spies are the thing. Good spies, bad spies, I love them all.  It's that combination of mystery and danger and excitement that makes them so thrilling.

These are men (and women too) who could snap your neck like a twig without blinking an eye or steal all your secrets with just a kiss.

So here's to you Mr Bond and all the other fictional spies out there.

Casino Royale / Ian Fleming.

"In his first mission agent 007, James Bond, must neutralize a Russian agent known as "Le Chiffre" by ruining him at the baccarat table, thus forcing his "retirement". However, a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster - and an unexpected saviour."

Everyone has their favourite Bond and each Bond that has appeared on the big screen has been unique while still representing the essence that is Bond.  A man of action.  A man who seduces women.  A man who will do whatever is necessary to carry out his task.  Oh yeah, Bond is the man.

The prisoner's wife / Gerard Macdonald.

A spy, a suspected terrorist and the terrorist wife.  It all adds up trouble.  But trouble in the spy business is just a typical day.

A day where wits and cunning and ruthlessness are the order of business.

In a spy's world nothing and no-one is ever safe.

Shake off / Mischa Hiller.

What happens when a spy falls in love? 

Who does his loyalty lie with?  The people he works for or the woman he loves?  

And can a spy ever have the freedom to choose?

Switch / Charlie Brooks.
 Max Ward is a modern spy in a dangerous world. 

A world where counter intelligence, drug cartels and global terrorism intersect. A world where the beauty of an Old Master painting hides a deadly game of deal, double cross and revenge. 

Happily working as an analyst Max's is about to called to duty by his faceless MI6 master and to confront an enemy that he knows too well. 

An enemy that is better left alone.

The Geneva trap / Stella Rimington.

Author Stella Rimington knows all too well what is to be a spy.  She was one herself and was the former head of MI5.

In this, her latest novel,  her favourite character Liz Carlyle finds her past catching up with her when a rogue Russian spy warns her of a plot.  A plot that could see a major shift in power.
 Sentinel / Matthew Dunn.

With war between the USA and Russia on the verge of breaking out, agent Will Cochrane is under pressure to find the double-agent responsible for it all.

Sounds simple really.

But as any good spy knows nothing is ever simple.

Retribution / Adrian Magson.

As a spy Harry has seen it all.

Or at least he thought he had.

Now though a lone assassin is tracking down and eliminating colleagues from Harry's past which means that Harry could be next on the hitman's list.

To uncover who this killer is Harry must track down the remaining team member's and discover what exactly happened in Kosovo in 1999.

Red star burning : a thriller / Brian Freemantle.

One of MI5's best field agents has a secret.

A secret that if revealed could land him in jail for the rest of his life and place the life of the woman he loves in danger.

But a frantic call has brought that secret out and now he must do everything he can to protect not only himself but the people he loves.

The expats : a novel / Chris Pavone.

Kate Moore looks like every other expat mum living in Luxembourg.

But she is not as ordinary as she seems and her 'real life' and her 'fake life' are about to collide.

What's a spy to do when the secrets and lies they have been hiding finally catch up with them.

An American spy / Olen Steinhauer.

Milo Weaver is a tourist.

A CIA trained spy and assassin.

It's a life he would like to leave but his former boss can't let it go and when he disappears, Milo can't help but go in search of him, but it's beginning to look like hunting for his former boss is not the only thing he has to worry about.

Tinker tailor soldier spy

When a disgraced spy surfaces with information concerning a double agent at the top of the British secret service, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), an ex-MI6 agent, is drawn back into the murky field of espionage. Tasked with investigating which of his trusted former colleagues has chosen to betray him and their country, Smiley must overcome past histories, rivalries and friendships to pinpoint the man who is eating away at the heart of the British establishment.

Welcome to the world of MI5, the UK's clandestine security service. Its operatives - 'spooks' for short - tackle organised crime, terrorist activities, embassy sieges, weapons proliferation and anarchists; not to mention the conflicts and power struggles back in the office. 

Prepare for a white-knuckle ride through the perilous, shadowy world of false identities, treacherous agents and cover-ups.  And remember: nothing is as it seems.

Featuring the superbly swoon worthy Richard Armitage -  before he was a dwarf - as spy Lucas North, a man with secrets so deep and complicated he makes James Bond look like the boy-next-door.
Strike Back (2 Disc Set)
Strike back

Section 20 is an ultra secret government intelligence team who take on the jobs non-one else is prepared to do.

Action packed, this series spies are not your glamour boys.  These men  know what it means to get down and dirty.

They work hard, fight hard and play hard.

But even these men have their secrets and some are even willing to kill to them them hidden.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stalking the catalogue: The history of the world according to Facebook

"Ah, Facebook. We all make fun of it, and we're all on it. If the Facebook community - 600 million strong - were a country, it would rank third in population, and last in spelling ability."

The history of the world according to Facebook by Wylie Overstreet

I spend a fair bit of my time online. Doing all kinds of things. Probably, for the most part, I'm updating a status in some place, some where, so coming across Overstreet's book is like receiving a birthday present I never knew I wanted. Think on it: wall posts from the beginning of time. the Serpent creating a Facebook event to tempt Eve to eat the apple (and her response "Sorry, I'm on a master cleanse!"), Cleopatra listing 'eyeliner' as an interest, Romeo and Juliet professing their love for each other (Oh babe you're so amazing. luv u <3) or even Marie Antoinette not knowing "who" Democracy is (Ooo, Guillotine? Is he like a new designer?). I'm hoping that Overstreet's book can give me ALL THE GIGGLES. (Yes, capslock needed).

Like it. Ask it to be your friend. Share it.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Happy birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Red Letter Year. Two hundred years ago this January 28, the greatest novel in the English language first appeared in print. It was, of course - Pride and Prejudice.

Originally called First Impressions, and told in the form of letters between the characters, the novel was written when Jane Austen was just 21. She then extensively revised it before getting it published more than a decade later. And it's been entertaining readers ever since, except the Brontes, whom I never could stand.

Everyone knows the first line, which I shall not repeat here. My favourite has always been "Mary wished to say something  very sensible, but knew not how". Anyone else have a favourite P&P quote?

Anyway, here for your edification is a gallimaufry of new Austen-related readings. Enjoy with a cup of chocolate.

How to Create the Perfect Wife - Wendy Moore
A true story! Thomas Day knew exactly the sort of woman he wanted to marry. Pure and virginal yet tough and hardy, she would live with him in an isolated cottage, completely subservient to his whims. As Day soon discovered, the woman of his dreams didn't exist in Georgian society, so he set out to create her. He adopted two young orphans and, guided by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the principles of the Enlightenment, attempted to teach them to be model wives. Day hoped to eventually marry one of his wards, but the experiment inevitably backfired, though not before he had taken his theories about marriage, education, and femininity to their most shocking extremes.

Happily Ever After - Susannah Fullerton
In 2013 Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice turns 200. Again and again in polls conducted around the world, it is regularly chosen as the favourite novel of all time. Here is the tale of how it came to be written, its first reception in a world that didn't take much notice and then its growing popularity leading up to Colin Firth mania and a best-selling zombie mash-up.

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood - Abby McDonald
Awful title, but this is a teen retelling of Sense and Sensibility. Hallie and Grace Weston have never exactly seen life eye to eye. So when their father dies and leaves everything to his new wife, forcing the girls to pack up and leave San Francisco for shiny Beverly Hills, the sisters take to their changing lot in typically different styles. Shy, responsible Grace manages to make friends with an upbeat, enterprising girl named Palmer but still yearns for her old life and the maybe-almost-crush she left behind. Meanwhile, drama queen Hallie is throwing herself headlong into life and love in L.A., spending every second with gorgeous musician Dakota and warding off the attention of brooding vet Brandon. But is Hallie blinded by the stars in her eyes? And is Grace doomed to forever hug the sidelines?

Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale
Divorced American Charlotte Kinder takes a trip to Regency staged Pembrook Park in Kent where she plays parlour games, learns country dances, and even lets herself be courted by her assigned suitor, the brooding, magnetic Mr. Mallery. But her vacation becomes more Northanger Abbey when she catches a fleeting glimpse of a dead body in a secret room. If you like this one, try the first Austenland as well - each is loosely inspired by a book in Jane Austen's oeuvre.

The Real Jane Austen - Paula Byrne
Paula Byrne looks through the letters and the life of our author to work out who she really was. She certainly wasn't the cosy, moralising aunt figure the Victorians tried to portray, but a more spiky, modern person whose life has never been looked at this way before.

Austensibly Ordinary - Alyssa Goodnight
Cate Kendall is no stranger to daydreams of brooding men and fancy parties - after all, she teaches one of her beloved Jane Austen novels in her English classes every year. But as for romance or adventure in her own life, the highlight of most weeks is Scrabble with her cute coworker, Ethan, and he draws the line at witty banter. But when she finds a mysterious journal that seems to have a link to the soul of the great Jane Austen herself, she knows it's her chance. And she grabs on with both hands...Before she knows it, Cate has invented an alter ego with an attitude, attended some seriously chic soirees, and gotten tangled up with a delicious mystery man. And she's uncovered enough unexpected secrets about Ethan that her Scrabble partner has taken to brooding looks and unfathomable silences. Cate could land in hot water and heartbreak - but maybe not with Jane herself to guide her...

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen - Syrie James
By the author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes - or her luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning a manuscript that "went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire." Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Making her way to the beautiful Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work - until she mentions its possible million dollar value. After discovering an unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they read the tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present - a story that just might change both of their lives forever.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Stalking the catalogue: 1,000 incredible costume and cosplay ideas
"Remember that always dressing in understated good taste is the same as playing dead."
- Susan Catherine

1,000 incredible costume and cosplay ideas : a showcase of creative characters from anime by Joey Marsocci
I adore Cosplay like I do chocolate. I've always wanted to dress up. I've just never been sure who as. As a result, I've never done cosplay, and I feel the lack like a physical ache. Somewhat fanciful, and wholly true. I believe that there must be such incredible freedom and celebration in dressing up like your favourite character. I view cosplay very much how I do fanfic - as people loudly (and proudly) proclaiming their interests and fandoms where everyone can see them, admire them, engage with them and, best of all, identify with them. Cosplay FTW.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Summer Reads for Kiwis

Being a kiwi is a pretty great thing.

I count myself fortunate that I live in a country were the water is clean, the air fresh and I'm surrounded by beauty everywhere I look.

I do not have to dodge bullets as I walk the streets or wear a veil from head to foot.

I have the freedom to live where I want, how I want and do (within reason) pretty much what I want; all without the fear that I am going to be thrown into jail or worse, executed.

It's true we have our problems as a country but on the whole we are far luckier than a great many others.  So in celebration of all things kiwi, the little things that make who we are, the quirky, the weird and the wonderful here are just a few books that capture that kiwi essence.

New Zealand weather : captured through the camera lenses of New Zealanders / [Jim Hickey].

"A compilation of New Zealand's distinctive and sometimes wild and dramatic seasonal weather images, with comments and descriptions from the country's longest-serving television weatherman, Jim Hickey." 

The weather seems to hold a fascination for kiwi's, perhaps because it has such a significant impact on our environment and how we live our life's.  My Dad certainly never missed the weather report at the end of the news and seemed to be fascinated by all things weather related.  This would of been the perfect book for him.

The heart of our game : players and personalities in New Zealand rugby / Steve Hale.

"From former and current players to lifelong, one-eyed rugby fans and coaches, The Heart of our Game tells, in modern Kiwi-speak, just what the game of rugby means to us today."

Rugby and New Zealand seem to go hand-in-hand, so much part of our identity that it is.  Even I have taken a half-hearted interest in time to time.  This is one for fans everywhere.

Great kiwi firsts / Astral Sligo.

"Our fern may be silver but we Kiwis love to take that gold medal spot. First to give women the vote, first to climb Mount Everest, first to split the atom. Great Kiwi firsts combines the great, the good and the just plain crazy in a compendium of Kiwi ingenuity and inspiration with just a touch of oddball."

A touch of oddball sounds just like my kind of thing so this book is going on my TBR (To Be Read) pile.
Home & away : award-winning travel stories by New Zealand writers / selected and edited by Graeme Lay.

"Travel is in the Kiwi bloodstream: whether bound for Kaiwaka or Kowloon, we have an insatiable appetite for living out of a suitcase and, in select cases, writing about it. The stories in this anthology span not only every continent but also the homeland, proving you don't have to go far to discover distance."

Kiwi's are some of the great travelers of the world and this book celebrates just a few of those amazing journeys.

Urban chicks : celebrating backyard chooks in the city / Trevor Newman and Renée Lang.

"This publication features a selection of Aucklanders - some well-known, others less so - who have chosen to keep chickens in the suburbs."

I had a chicken when I was little.  She was a black hen and her name was Christine.  She also scared the living daylights out of me, though in hindsight she was probably just as afraid of me as I was of her.  Why I named her Christine I have no idea

The power of us : New Zealander's who dare to dream

"This book is a celebration of 50 New Zealanders who are extraordinary in their own fields, both locally and internationally."

New Zealanders have done amazing things.  Perhaps this sense of adventure and the desire to push ourselves come's from the pioneer spirit of our ancestor's or perhaps it's our isolation from the rest of the world that makes us strive to do the impossible.  Either way, we continue to show the world what you can truly achieve with just a little bit of determination and daredevil spirit.

A fabled land : the story of Canterbury's famous Mesopotamia Station / Bruce Ansley.

"The historic Mesopotamia Station is located in mid-Canterbury at the headwaters of the magnificent Rangitata gorge.  Author Bruce Ansley has brilliantly captured the spirit of this great sheep station: from the early pioneers who first braved its harsh winters and searing summers to the ingenuity and drive of the present-day owners, the Prouting family."

Back to the land : a year of country gardening / Lynda Hallinan

"Gardening guru Lynda Hallinan shares with characteristic wit and good humour a full year of her gardening eploits."

Just as the weather and rugby are a big feature of what makes us kiwi's, so is our love of the land.  Whether it's a spiritual thing or something more basic as the enjoyment of just getting our hands dirty, the land holds something for all of us.

On song : stories behind New Zealand pop classics / Simon Sweetman.

"On Song is a journey through New Zealand's diverse pop landscape. Featuring conversations with the many writers and performers of beloved Kiwi classics that illuminates the fascinating stories behind the pop songs we all know and love."

Counting the beat, Victoria, Rust In My Car - these are the songs of my teenage years.  Foot-tapping, head popping songs that I listened to on my cassette deck (yes before CD's had even been heard of), while driving around with friends on warm summer days, heading to who knows where.  Just thinking about them makes me want to go on a road trip...

Secrets & treasures : our stories told through the objects at Archives New Zealand / Ray Waru.

"The bizarre jostles with the extremely significant in the almost 100 kilometres of holdings in Archives New Zealand. The thousands of boxes contain all sorts of treasures and secrets, including such intriguing items as: a rare letter written by Captain Cook; records of secret weapons; exotic gifts to our Prime Ministers; grisly exhibits from murder trials; sightings of UFOs. This book delves into the archives to tell a very human story of New Zealand."

High Country legacy : four generations of Aspinalls at Mt Aspiring Station / Alex Hedley.

"Mt Aspiring Station is set in the craggy backblocks of Otago, between Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. The Aspinall family have farmed in this tough and unforgiving environment — on slopes so steep that horses cannot climb — since 1920."

I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to live in a place like Mt Aspiring Station.    Isolated and remote, it must also be incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring.

Food heroes / Simon Farrell-Green ; photography by Duncan Innes.

"A celebration of a remarkable group of producers and growers who are returning to artisan methods to create some of New Zealand's best food and finest quality ingredients. In doing so they are changing the way we shop and eat. Embracing a time when the grower grew food, took it to market, then sold it, the 20-plus [people] profiled in this book are dedicated to providing the best-possible food products for New Zealanders to eat and cook with."

The Kiwi ute driver's guide to life / Steve Holmes.

"Kiwis and utes go together like fish and chips. But what is it about the ute that has caught the attention of so many car enthusiasts Down Under? Join Steve Holmes as he profiles over 50 Kiwis and their utes, presented in full colour."

I don't drive but looking at some of these ute's almost makes me wish that I did.  I can see it now, me driving behind the wheel of a brightly coloured, old fashioned ute, the windows down so I can feel the breeze whizzing pass and the stereo turned up loud playing a selection of classic kiwi rock hits.

Road trip anyone? 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Stalking the Catalogue: Extreme office crafts

Welcome to a new series of weekly posts called "Stalking the Catalogue." When you think about it - or when I think about it - that is, essentially, what I do. I stalk the catalogue for new, interesting and/or bizarre titles to highlight. Now I'm just calling it what it is.

Extreme office crafts : creative & devious ways to waste supplies & company time by Jimmy Knight and Tom Chalmers
THIS! Office crafts. Extreme office crafts. Extreme office crafts that encourage creativity. This is a thing that must be read.

Admittedly, I'm a little wary of the 'devious ways to waste supplies and company time' part of the title BUT I'm going to override that little smidgeon of fear and read it, anyway. How could I not when it encourages the making of post-it note mosaics? (My sibling doesn't know it yet, but her post-it note stash is going towards a very good cause - my entertainment)

We have two copies! So if this kind of humour is your kind of humour, request it today :)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The 2012 Lit Quiz (with answers)

Hi everyone,

Thank you to those who responded to last year's fiendish Lit Quiz. The answers are as follows:

1) Which book won this year's Man Booker Prize?
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

2) Which famous author did not die this year?
a) Maeve Binchy b) Bryce Courtenay c) John Le Carre d) Margaret Mahy
John Le Carre

3) Terry Pratchett's Dodger featured a famous author as one of the main characters. Who was he?
Charles Dickens

4) What is the name of Geronimo Stilton's sister, whose first graphic novel has recently been announced?
Thea Stilton

5) What is Emily Perkins's most recent novel?
The Forrests

6) Who is the new character introduced to the Hobbit film who is not in the books?
Tauriel the Wood Elf

*NB: I will accept Galadriel also, as I didn't make it clear I meant the Hobbit series rather than the first film. Galadriel (while not new to Lord of the Rings) was indeed not at Rivendell in The Hobbit book.

7) Notorious Nineteen is not actually the 19th book to feature Stephanie Plum. How many are there really?

8) What is both a television series and a 2012 novel by David Hewson?
The Killing

9) Which sports star's autobiography has become the fastest selling in New Zealand history?
Richie McCaw

10) A new collection of stories by Katherine Mansfield was discovered this year. True or false?

Congratulations to the winner, Lingshu Liu. Her favourite books will be profiled in my next blog!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

5 book titles to make you laugh (and then request them)

I'm pretty sure I'm a nice person. What's more, I think I'm a nice person who is capable of great philosophical thought. You just have to dig down deep. Like WAY down deep. When you hit the cold lump of coal that should be my heart, keep going. In fact, bring a shovel and a miner's hat. (Leave the canary at home, that's just cruel). I am all about the laughs because, as most people who know me know, I not-so-secretly possess a juvenile sense of humour. I forever watch terrible movies that are overladen with toilet humour and the worst puns ever. What's worse is I then con other people into watching them with me. And I'm that way about books, too. I'm forever making lists when I come across book titles that amuse me. What is the point of such titles if you cannot hold them up to people and say "THIS! THIS!" And so, here's my list of "THIS! THIS!" for today: 5 book titles to make you laugh (and then request them).

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Men who knit and the dogs who love them (seriously).

Men who knit & the dogs who love them : 30 great-looking designs for man & his best friend / Annie Modesitt & Drew Emborsky

Yes, that really is the title of this book.

I don't even know what to say. I mean, just look at the cover - the dog's jumper matches the man's hat! I can't say the dog looks stoked about his little outfit.

I can't decide if this is the best book I've ever seen or the worst. Regardless, we have 4 copies, so request one today!

If this isn't a great start to 2013 I don't know what is. Happy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

And I'd Like To Thank The Academy...

Happy 2013

I'm taking the easy way out with this, my very first blog post of the new year, and borrowing from my fellow blogger Laura.

Best lists are always so subjective.  They are just one person's opinion of what they enjoyed during the year.  They are also highly addictive and enjoyable and just another way that my endlessly long reading, watching and listening lists get even further out of hand.

Oh well you can never have too much to read....

So with that in mind here are my awards for 2012.