Cover of I quit sugarAs a librarian, I obviously get a great many resources sliding across my desk. All genres, mediums, types, categories and kinds, whatever, pass through my grubby little paws and are whipped out onto the shelves, or forwarded onto another library …

Some things DON’T attract my attention, such as Fifty Shades of Grey, Mills and Boon novels, or gossip magazines like New Idea. Such things are cast out of my presence. However, others seem to grip me with their titles and subject headings, and I cant help but peruse the pages. Through this process, I’ve been exposed to a plethora of books and resources relating to diet and dietary fads, produced by, or endorsed by all sorts of nutritionists, doctors, sporting personalities and various practitioners. Many of these people claim that THEIR program for eating is gospel, and some masquerade as objective sources when they are really acting on behalf of some corporate interest (“meat is critical for your diet, or you die from lack of iron!”). With these divergent dietary opinions comes confusion, and the stress of it all causes one to revert back to the Kiwi epic of meat and three veges at night, with Weetbix in the morning….talk about first world problems!

BUT, from the great many resources I’ve seen, there is almost NO authority in the realm of food and diet which claims that added sugar is good for you. In fact, added sugar is of no nutritional value to your diet. Sugar is a major contributor to a variety of health conditions: obesity (which is related to manifold health issues), dental problems and diabetes. It’s a stimulant and it drives teachers and parents nuts due to hyperactive kids. Moreover, sugar is hiding as the second ingredient in many of those typical wholesome and “healthy” “fat free” options: cereal, yogurt, fruit juice, bread. And we all eat such products thinking we’re being healthy!

Cover of I quit sugar for lifeThat’s why, without trying to tell people how to live their lives, Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” books are so good and so timely for our sugar-bent society. Its important to note that Sarah Wilson is NOT a professional in the area of nutrition, but this journalist and media consultant’s books and programs are well-researched, helpful, full of yummy recipes and draw on her own experiences as an ex-sugar junkie. She noticed that once she began to purge sugar from her diet, “my energy, skin and wellness changed so dramatically, I kept going”.

Possibly the best part about these books is that they are practical. So many recipe books and resources on diet don’t really provide a lifestyle plan, whereas Sarah’s books provide handy instructions on which foods to look out for that contain sugar, sugar detox plans, and plans on how to stack the pantry and fridge with “ready to go sugar-free foods”. She also provides “advice on how to lose weight and kill (sugar) cravings”.

Most importantly though, the recipes work, and they are yummy, legitimate substitutes for sugary treats. Trust me, you’ll notice the difference after a few weeks. Just don’t do what I did and get back into sugar after months off it like I did last Christmas time, when I got too hypo and ranted away at the dinner table about contentious issues and offended the family in law … I’ll blame that on Sarah Wilson.

New Zealand IceFestIf you’re looking for something to do with the kids these holidays (or just looking for something to do) then check out NZ IceFest.

When I saw that the grand opening involved sled dogs pulling a tram, I decided this was a must for the Young Lad, so despite the familiar protest that 9:30 was too early for anything on a Saturday, I took him along – leaving Miss Missy and Mr K to enjoy their lazy Saturday morning.

I thought we’d be there for half an hour tops, but little did I know what fun awaited us at the IceFest Hub! First the excitement of seeing the tram being pulled by the team of dogs. Then the wonder as a block of ice was slowly turned into a beautiful sculpture of an emperor penguin feeding its young (not a kangaroo as the Young Lad suggested).

New Zealand IceFestWell, the wonder was perhaps more on my side: while I enjoyed being dusted with snow, Edward Scissorhands style, and watching the sculpture slowly taking shape, the Young Lad joined the general hilarity of kicking chunks of ice around with the other children.

We then listened in as the guys at Scott Base were asked about snotcicles and what happens to the poop (it is frozen and sent to New Zealand for processing – who knew?!), topics sure to delight the boys in the audience.

IceFest is on until 12 October and you’re sure to find something to interest you, from the serious to the hilarious. There will be experts talking about climate change, movies and clowns for the kids, and, if snotcicles are your thing, there are plenty more opportunities to talk to Scott Base.

You probably know the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Twelve sisters disappear at night and come back with worn out shoes — where have they gone? The father offers a reward for anyone who can solve the mystery.Cover of The Girls at the Kingfisher CLub

The mystery of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club has already been solved. A father, determined for a male heir, perseveres until he has twelve daughters living on the top floor of his New York apartments. Twelve sisters, aching for freedom, slip out each night to whatever Manhattan speakeasies seem safest. The story mostly follows Jo, the General, but also manages to capture the disparate personalities and hopes of her eleven younger siblings.

While I loved the historical element of this book (1920s New York!), the characters really steal the show. One of my favourite moments was when the father, stern faced and suspicious, confronts all twelve daughters for the first time. Suddenly he’s vulnerable in the face of his own offspring, especially Jo, trained by necessity to guard and look over her sisters and constantly worrying: am I my father? She certainly shares his iron will, his strength and his stubbornness, but while her father uses his power to cage others, Jo uses hers to set her sisters free. The sisters aren’t perfect by any means; they squabble and hate and love each other equally, living together with an invisible line marking each sister’s territory. There’s loneliness on that crowded floor, but there’s also a connection between prisoners that never really fades.

She was still trying to discover how people related to each other, and how you met the world when you weren’t trying to hide something from someone. It was a lesson slow in coming.

If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like a light read, you’re right, but it’s worth it for the elegance of Genevieve Valentine’s writing, and watching twelve princesses free themselves while carrying their shoes in their hands.

All copies unavailable? Try these similar titles which I also wept over:

Cover of The Goblin Emperor Cover of Rose Under Fire Cover of The Diviners

As followers of our blog will know, voracious reader Robyn has been sharing with us on a regular basis the titles that she has been adding to her For Later list. This time she reports back on some of the titles that have graduated to her Completed shelf.

Cover: History of 20th Century FashionSome things that recently moved from my For Later shelf to my Completed shelf. A veil shall be drawn over those items that moved from my For Later shelf to my list of Books That I Took Out in 2014 But Did Not Read Or Use.

History of 20th Century Fashion – the cover is wonderful but the book disappointed me a bit  – more for a serious student than a frivolous flicker of pages.

The First World War Galleries –  fascinating. Objects speak louder than words. And clothing louder than that – the jacket with one arm missing that features on the cover positively shouts.

New Zealand’s Historic Samplers  – See above. “A sampler may be the only words of a woman which survive” says the author, and these surviving pieces of fabric and thread provide a glimpse into the lives of women and girls from the earliest of colonial days. They truly are stitched stories.

Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activisim – a great introduction to the world-wide movement of Craftivism. Lots of lovely pictures and just the right amount of words. Inspirational.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words).

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Koia kei a koe
What a sad guy

Kupu (word)


Ko Whaea Hēni tōku kaiako.
Whaea Hēni is my teacher

Browse our Te Reo Māori resources.

A Canterbury trooper, 3rd New Zealand Mounted Rifles (Rough Riders), preparing to depart for the Boer War (1899-1902) [1900] Christchurch City Libraries, CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02211

A Canterbury trooper, 3rd New Zealand Mounted Rifles (Rough Riders), preparing to depart for the Boer War (1899-1902)
CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02211

30 September 1972
New Town Hall complex and James Hay Theatre (designed by Warren and Mahoney) opens. Ferrier Fountain commissioned.

1 October 1870
Opening of Canterbury Museum building, designed by B.W. Mountfort.

1 October 1948
City Council takes over Canterbury Public Library from University.

1 October 1953
Over 3000 hectares of Waimairi (showgrounds area), Heathcote (Bromley area) and Estuary included in City.

2 October 1916
Opawa joins city.

3 October 1983
Rugby player Robbie Deans becomes highest scorer of points in 79 year history of the Ranfurly Shield with 187 points from thirteen games.

5 October 1899
First Boer War contingent leaves Lyttelton.

5 October 1982
Paraplegic archer Neroli Fairhall (in competition with able-bodied athletes) wins gold medal at Brisbane Commonwealth Games.

More September and October events in the Chronology.

Some picks from our September Picture Books newsletter:

Cover of Oliver and his alligator Cover of The best thing about kindergarten Cover of Blue on blue Cover of No nap yes nap Cover of Hermelin Cover of Quest Cover of NZ shore and sea Cover of NZ Plants

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Have you read any of these books? If so, we’d love your feedback!


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