Thursday, 28 March 2013

This month I'm Loving...

Moonlight walks which aren't nearly as romantic as they sound.  This is probably due to the fact that they have been undertaken at the ungodly hour of  5.30 am.

I mean really, how can anything be romantic when you're walking in the dark still half asleep. Still the moon light does make everything look pretty and glowy which is always a plus and even more importantly it helps me to see where I am going as I navigate my way around the estuary, so really I can't complain. Moonlight and water, the crisp early morning air and the company of my other half.  It's all rather lovely.

This month I have once again discovered a realm of new things.  Lots of new music, as usual.  This time courtesy of Spotify and Twitter discussions. Both of which I can just get a tad carried away with and easily spend a few hours perusing. (i.e. wasting time).

Along with the music there are also some new authors and a TV show that I have fallen in love with.  Life, as they say, is pretty damn good.

Halcyon / Ellie Goulding.

I just adore Ellie Goulding's music.

From the lyrics to her voice there is so much emotion in her songs and each one seems to speak directly to you. 

This, her second album, is just great.  My favourites are Figure 8 and Only You but I also recommend that you check out her first album Bright lights too.

Sounds like this / Eric Hutchinson

A very new discovery for me - like just last weekend - and one that I picked up, completely randomly, from a certain actor on twitter who raved about him.  And I'm so glad I checked him out as I have just fallen in love with this guy's music.

It's a little bit reggae, a little bit Jack Johnson, a little bit soul and utterly feel good.

Picking a fav song is hard as I love just about every one but Ok It's Alright With Me is one that stands out.

Nobody / Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

"15 year-old Claire Ryan has always felt invisible, which causes trouble when she instantly connects with 17 year-old Nix, who really can become invisible and has been sent to assassinate her."

There are so many great teen books out there and this is one that I just couldn't put down.

Don't you just love books like that.

Guardians of stone / Anita Clenney.

"As a relic hunter every mission Kendall Morgan accepts carries certain hazards, but her boss's latest is proving to be the most dangerous yet."

Now I'm not generally into paranormal romances but this one was actually quite good.  Perhaps because the romance aspect was quite minimal so that it mostly came across a bit like Relic Hunter/Indiana Jones adventure.

I certainly enjoyed it enough to want to read the sequel... when it comes out.

 Crewel : a novel / Gennifer Albin

"For generations, Spinsters have worked the looms and determine where people live, who they marry, and even when they die. Gifted with the rare ability to weave time with matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, but Adelice is about to unravel the deadliest one of all, a sinister truth that could destroy reality as she knows."

I loved this book.  Interesting sci-fi/fantasy books are always great to read and teen books seem to do this so well.  This one reminded me a little of Tamora Pierce's series Protector of the Small and also a little bit of Graceling and even The Giver.

Saturday night widows : the adventures of six friends remaking their lives / Becky Aikman.

"Struggling to forge ahead after becoming a widow at 43 and forced out of grief counseling because she wasn't sad enough, Becky Aikman starts her own widow's support group."

It might sound like a depressing read but this book is a heart-breaking, funny, realistic book that gives an honest look at what it is to be a widow, especially at a young age.

Having been there myself I could relate to this so much.  It's a wonderful tale of recovery, of hope and of moving on - and even maybe finding love again.

Throne of glass / Sarah J. Maas.

"Celaena, a daredevil assassin, is offered a chance of freedom from the salt mines where she has been imprisoned.  The only thing is she has to face the deadliest thieves, assassins and murderers in the land..."

I love kick ass heroines and yes Caleaena does sometimes come across as an arrogant, vain, brat and yes the story does have some flaws (another romantic triangle?  Really?  Can we just move on from those, please.) But this is still a great read.  Caleaena is a tough, pulls no punches kind of chick and the story pulls in you.

I *adore* Miranda but if I'm being completely honest, I have to confess that I've only recently become a convert to this wonderfully funny show.

I know!  Surprising - isn't it.

But I really thought that it wasn't my thing, despite never watching an episode.

It's my mum who got me into it.  And I'm so glad she did.

I love Miranda.  In fact we could be twins, since we are both klutzy, get nervous trying new things, are hopeless at relationships and love bopping around to music...except of course I'm not 6 foot 1.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

If you want the truth...

For those of you who prefer a dose of reality to counteract the fantasy you're living in, here's a list of new books that are completely true. Or at least, mostly.

Inside their pages you will find almost incredible stories, the truth behind the headlines, and uncover dastardly crimes. (Does anyone actually use that word anymore?) How 'bout nefarious? Or reprehensible?

At all events, be inspired, be horrified - believe it.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Unforgivable blackness and Jack Johnson

Unforgivable blackness and Jack Johnson

So! Tomorrow a certain NZ boxer is taking part in a local library storytime. Your guess is as good as mine as to who it is. Actually, your guess is probably better :)

I don't know much about boxing and I'm not afraid to admit that. Anything I've learned is only recent, and I seem to have an interest in the history of the sport, or biographies of boxers. Like this one, for instance, that I picked up: Unforgivable blackness: the rise and fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey C. Ward.

Until this book, the only Jack Johnson I'd ever heard of was the singer. You know the guy - Hawaiian-born musician, surfer, filmmaker, etc. THAT GUY who sang with Ben Stiller. (Funny video, by the way). This Jack Johnson is most definitely NOT that Jack Johnson.

The Johnson that Ward writes about was a heavyweight. Literally. He was the first black heavyweight champion in history. As if that isn't enough to make him interesting, the rest of his story is equally as compelling. I mean, here's a guy who lived life as if segregation did not exist. And it got him in a heapload of trouble - time in prison, and seven years in exile. I cannot comprehend that. I truly cannot.

Yikes. My yen to learn more about boxing in an effort to know something about our guest's profession took a turn for the serious. I'm kinda unrepentant about that. It's a great read.


A World Without Libraries?

I love libraries.

And yes I know what you're thinking.  I'm a librarian so of course I would love libraries.

But - and it's a very, very, big but.

My love of libraries would still be there even if I wasn't a librarian.  It's a love affair that I've had since I was a kid and it is, hopefully, a love affair that will continue for a great many more years.

So it always strikes me as rather sad when people talk about how unnecessary libraries are in today's world. 

Libraries have of course been around be for a long time.  Like a very long time.

Almost 4000 years in fact (give or take a century or two).  And in those 4000 years libraries have changed and evolved just like they are changing and evolving now.  They have seen governments and countries rise and fall, the invention of the printing press and computers and the planet ravaged by war, disasters and countless other momentous and significant events.

In the scheme of things libraries are doing pretty good.

And that's how it should be. Because libraries are not only important but necessary.

Forget all the things that you think libraries are about.

Forget about the books, the newspapers, the magazines, the music, the movies, the e-books, and so on and so forth.  Though they have all of that.

And don't even think of them as being depositories and custodians for works of cultural, historical and heritage significance.  Though they are that as well.

No, what libraries really are, at their most basic level, are places of knowledge and ideas and imagination.

And a world without any and all of these things would be a pretty sad place.

Knowledge gives us power.  The power to make choices.  To choose to go right or left or back or forward.

Ideas gives us solutions.  Solutions that see us reach for the stars, to grow beyond what we are, to expand our views and opinions.

And imagination?

Imagination encourages and inspires and ignites us.  It pushes us to reach for the impossible, to dare to dream, to hope, to wonder.

And that is probably the greatest gift that we can pass onto another.

That libraries can do all of these things is pretty damn wonderful. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? Storytime in the library with a famous NZ boxer?

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? Storytime in the library with a famous NZ boxer?

SO! I heard a secret. That a certain famous NZ boxer would be making an appearance at a local library storytime. How awesome is that? Which made me ponder a couple of things:
  1. WHO IS IT? (yes, caps necessary)
  2. What do I know about boxing?
The answers are:
  1. I DON'T KNOW (yes, caps are *still* necessary)
  2. Absolutely nothing
So I did what most sane library people do when they know nothing. That's right, I stalked our library shelves, and found THIS gem: The New Zealand boxing scrapbook. It contains the most amazing things - vintage posters, men in tights (I'm pretty darn sure they're tights), fighter profiles, leotards (those ARE leotards, right?) and some serious hair parting. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. It's well worth the read/flip through. I'm still no closer to knowing who our guest is, though! Bummer.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Fresh ink - new authors for jaded readers

They're the reason people keep trying to write. (Aside from that nagging little parasite in your ear, continually popping out to ask "So, have you done any writing lately?" and winkling itself back in again before you can get him with the tweezers.)

Debut authors who make it big - J. K. Rowling, E. L. James, S. J. Watson, and all those other initials. Who doesn't dream of being one? For most, it's a slow burn, gradually building an audience until one day you're on top of the pile. That's how it worked for Ian Rankin and Hilary Mantel, and even Dan Brown had three books behind him before his sudden leap to the peak. Who can predict the next big thing?

As they say in showbiz - no one knows anything.

So here's your chance to take a look at the crop of new authors for this year, before requests go sky-high. Which do you think will make it big?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Up A Tree in the Park at Night With a Hedgehog

Like many people who have read this book I only picked it up because of it's title. Turns out that 'Up A Tree in the Park at Night With a Hedgehog' is actually the perfect title for this hilarious book.

Up A Tree in the Park at Night With a Hedgehog by P. Robert Smith is the story of a guy named Benton who for no apparent reason starts to have an affair with 'a beautiful, sexually adventurous Korean virgin'. It doesn't getting any less weird from that point onward.

"Benton Kirby is in a spot of bother... His life hasn't exactly gone to plan. This is hardly surprising, however, as he never really had one in the first place. Armed with a philosophy degree, a dead fiancĂ©e, a brother who drives Death around London in his black cab, and a girlfriend with a history of suicidal pets, Benton - ambition-less and emotionally disengaged - embarks, for no apparent reason, on an affair with a beautiful, sexually adventurous Korean virgin."

Quite odd but very funny this book is great for a rainy day when you're stuck inside and you feel like a laugh!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

You all deserve to die

Not YOU, my faithful reader(s). I'm talking about the people in the publishing world who really, really annoy me. The ones whom, if I were ever so slightly more psychopathological than I am, I would wish to die in creatively horrible ways. Like being sandwiched in a very large slush pile that's due for the shredder...

Here's my list. What really gets your goat?

#1 - Books starring Jane Austen, remakes of Jane Austen, retellings of Jane Austen

Jane Austen has been a vampire. She has been turned into an erotic kinkfest. Her life and works have been pawed over, warped, twisted, worn threadbare, turned into every flavour of pulp. Zombies and sea monsters have been added to them. They've been placed in a modern setting minus all the best descriptions and language of their creator. The wonderful characters who leapt off the page have been flattened into stupid, cardboard, lifeless versions of themselves in absolutely pointless "modernisations". (Oo, what if we did Persuasion, but in a school? And an office! And in space...)

Keira Knightley has overbitten her way through Elizabeth Bennet. Miniseries have been written in which someone else gets Mr Darcy. For Mansfield Park's sake, they have BROKEN up the MOST ROMANTIC COUPLE in ENGLISH LITERATURE! I am saddened to report that even "decent" authors are getting on the bandwagon. Now that P.D. James and Colleen McCullough have had their turn, they're putting out six new retellings of the novels by the likes of Joanna Trollope and Val McDermid.
Can't you see the woman's exhausted?

No more.

#2 - Twilight readalikes

If I have to give a list of books similar to this series, you'll be reading all day. Ingredients include: paranormal love triangle (involves anything from werewolves to vampires to sexy giant squid - I actually came across a gryphon the other day. Still don't get the humanoid dragon thing, and falling in love with something that's half bird, half lion is just agin' nature.)

Second ingredient: boy who seems to hate the girl, but really burns for her despite her possessing no apparent personality at all.

Third ingredient: a girl who's new to town, who doesn't have any real friends except the one totally hot guy who's keeping a secret...

Sounds familiar? Oh, it's only about 300 recent books...(The Gathering Dark is one.)

Please don't make me buy any more. I'm begging you.

#3 - Titles that are a play on the character's name

Things like Grace Under Fire or Honour Among Thieves or Saving Faith or Hope Rises or April Showers...Maybe not April Showers, it sounds like a certain kind of movie. (Actually I just checked, there is one. But it's not what you think.)

You know what I mean, anyway - books where the main character is actually called Grace, or Faith, or Hope, or Victory, or whatever. Vomitorious.

#4 - Celebrity children's books

Some celebrities can write, apparently. I'm told the Hank Zipzer books by the Fonz aren't too bad, and nor are Jamie-Lee Curtis's. On the other hand - there are Madonna and Jordan, aka Katie Price. At least Jordan doesn't actually write hers. Hilary Duff did write Elixir, starring a young woman struggling with fame, and I mean this nicely, Hilary, but please go back to reading other people's lines. Even Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin and Weird Al Yankovic are guilty of some crimes against literature. Funny people, but not good writers. Fifty Cent has written a book. And has anyone read Modelland by Tyra Banks?

Here's the blurb: "Awkward fifteen-year-old Tookie De La Creme is invited to join the most exclusive modeling school in the world, where she must survive the beastly Catwalk Corridor and the terrifying Thigh-High Boot Camp in order to uncover Modelland's sinister secrets."

I'm putting on my fierce face.

Look out - coming up next, Monica Seles' new series about - yep, a tennis academy. Foul.

#5 - Titles that riff on other titles (that riff on OTHER titles)

We've had Fifty Sheds of Grey, Fifty Bales of Hay, Fifty Shades of Play, Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray, Fifty Shades of Feminism, and my personal favourite, Fifty Shades of Chicken.  

Give it a bone, will you? This turkey is well and truly cooked.