Books


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?

Book cover of books always everywhereWant to stock up on some Kids and Teens books? Great! We are having a Childrens’ and Young Adult Book Sale at Fendalton Library on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 October. All titles are only $1 each! Come and grab some:

Fendalton Library is on the corner of Clyde and Jeffreys Road and is on the number 120 bus route. There’s off-street parking via Clyde Road and Jeffreys Road including disabled parking and bike stands outside library.

Childrens' Books at the Book Sale. Flickr, CCL-2012-02-16-Booksale-IMG_9459

Childrens’ Books at the Book Sale. Flickr, CCL-2012-02-16-Booksale-IMG_9459

Cover of The Other HandWhat’s on your bedside table right now?

I ask because bedside tables and their offerings are the new profiling tool, their little worlds in microcosm giving us copious info about who we are, who we want to be and who we should be dating.

In Enough Said, the last film ever made by James Gandolfini and starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus,  Albert’s marriage breaks up partly because he has no bedside tables. When his ex discovers this she says:

Metaphorically speaking, he’s not
building a life for himself.
I mean, who would date
a person like that?

Cover of The Tao of PoohIn The End of Your Life Bookclub, when Will Schwalbe looks round the bedroom of his dying mother, whose bedside table and the floor (every surface actually) is covered with books, he asks himself how much bleaker the room would look had his mother’s night table supported a lone Kindle.

And in the September/October edition of the ever trendy Frankie magazine, five young artists have been commissioned to draw their bedside tables. Way to go, Frankie!

What about my bedside tables at home? My little bedside world currently has  three books stacked on it:

  • The Other Hand by Chris Cleave – this book is also sold under the title Little Bee and has been very popular in my Book Club. I love this book, it makes me want to speak in Jamaican patois. If you click on the link you will get the idea of the storyline.
  • Cover of The Sound of a Snail Eating There’s also The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. This is an unusual, quietly meditative book in which you will learn a lot (more than may be desirable, to be frank) about a little forest snail.
  • And The Tao of Pooh, which is my go-to book on those mornings when I can barely face the cone infested drive to a far-flung outpost of Library Land to get to a library that may or may not have stocked up on the full cream milk I require for my first cup of coffee.

In the parallel universe on the other side of the bed, my husband’s bedside table sports:

Italian Grammar for Dummies – bedtime discourse on the use of the subjunctive in Italian has entirely replaced any need for sedatives in our little world.

There’s also A History of Opera and a lone fiction work, The Panther, which he started reading seventeen months ago and hopes to complete when we travel again at the end of this year. I have to dust that book – often, and each time I wonder how on earth he is managing to remember the storyline.

How about you? Got any bedside books worth sharing?

In an attempt to tame her ever-growing For Later list,  Robyn has decided to share with us on a regular basis the titles that she has recently added to her list. The theory being that, even if she doesn’t ever get round to reading them, she can perhaps do so vicariously through you… So please do share your opinions of her picks – are they worthy, do you think, of inclusion in that lofty list?

Some things I have put on my For Later list recently:

Cover: Virginia Woolf's GardenAltman by Kathryn Altman because Robert Altman made some of the most interesting films of the 20th century.

Nora Webster because it’s by Colm Toibin and a new book by Colm Toibin is a major event.

Virginia Woolf’s Garden because it’s fascinating how the last drop is being squeezed out of the Bloomsberries.

The First World War Galleries by Paul Cornish because it has a picture of a uniform with one sleeve missing on the cover.

History of 20th Century Fashion by Elizabeth Ewing because no fashion book can be allowed to escape my attention.

Secrets of the National Archives because archives are anything but dusty.

The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert because I’m hoping it will have some real scraps featured.

Cover image of "Making music in New Zealand"I would love to be a musician. Not even a professional musician, just someone who can casually pick up an instrument and effortlessly create songs that make others want to stop and listen. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who would be offered money NOT to sing. My perfectionist tendencies paired with my lack of patience have prevented me from learning how to play the guitar (or any other musical instrument for that matter) because, well, if I’m not good at something instantly, I just give up. Forget all this “you’ll get better with practice” rubbish. I want to be a musical genius NOW.

If you want to read about other New Zealanders with the music bug, here’s some New Zealand fiction featuring musicians

Book cover of Ready to FlyOr if you prefer to draw inspiration from real life:

And for those of you who do possess both talent and dedication, the library has a bunch of “teach yourself” resources for aspiring musicians.

I can still live vicariously through other New Zealand musicians, though. I can watch them, listen to them, and read about them. Heck, if I really like them, I might even follow them…on Twitter.

South Library Learning Centre is celebrating with HNN students (Hillmorton Network News) and Hillmorton High School at their latest TV broadcast. They have just learned how to script-write an interview, film using dual cameras, and edit with keys and cutaways for added interest!

Episode 3 celebrates student, school and community successes. These students could be destined for Weta Studios and might even follow in  Sir Peter Jackson’s footsteps!

Here is their latest work:

In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

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