It’s a long walk home from Peel Forest

We had all the ingredients for a truly catastrophic breakdown, we were on an unfamiliar back country road,  our cell phone was flat and it was not only a dark night, but also a stormy one.

It had all the fixings of a disastrous end to a holiday. I wish I could say my encyclopaedic knowledge of the Library’s Motor Manual Collection saved us, but actually it was the AA and an emergency cell phone battery. Had I been closer to home though, I could have consulted one of our comprehensive collection of Motor Manuals, including heaps of manuals  for very old and very new vehicles, manuals for trucks, motorbikes and even lawn mowers.

When your car is broken down it’s handy to know that the Library can probably help you out repair-manual-wise, it is also handy to know that telling your Librarian-Wife the mechanic said you really needed a new battery the last time it broke down, but you didn’t think he knew what he was talking about, will probably lead to her checking out a book like this.

If you are 7 years old…

Sheep With Boots
Sheep With Boots

… or 70; maybe in your 30s; a teenager, perhaps?

No matter your age, this little book will get you hooked.

A charming tale infused with Dutch folklore, some clever twists and the most stylish Wolf (in close competition with Harvey Keitel) which is a joy to read.

Written by Maritgen Matter with lovely eye-catching illustrations by Jan Jutte, another curiously good read from the people at Gecko Press.

Julie Biuso

Women on Air closed their 2009 events on a tasty note with a visit from  Julie Biuso,  resplendent in a Trelise Cooper coat. The “who are you wearing” question beloved of red carpet reporters was the last question of the night, much to my relief. I was dying to know but after lots of questions revealing this crowd already knew a thing or two about food I was loath to reveal myself as less concerned with broad beans than with the lovely cuff details and fabulous print of the coat.

The penultimate question was another favourite – “who do you rate as a cook/cookery writer?” Biuso was very discreet and named Annabel Langbein, Ray McVinnie, Jo Seagar and my particular favourite Alison Holst,   while commenting that some people are good cooks, some are good writers; some are nice people, some not so nice. But she would not be drawn as to who is who.

To the news of the day…

Do you want access to job vacancies, births and deaths notices and stories of importance from all around the world before that information has even gone to print? Does the thought of chewing on your vegemite toast while reading news about Obama before Washington politicians have been able to get their grubby hands on it appeal to you? Or on a lighter note do you relish the thought of nabbing the crossword in the paper before your workmates have managed to see it so you can come across as the office genius? The library has the solution in the form of Press Display!

Press DisplayThis easy to use electronic resource gives you full page replicas of over 900 newspapers from 91 countries in 41 languages with their normal layout and complete editorial content including advertising.  There is plenty of local content as you can see major New Zealand newspapers such as  The Press or the Dominion Post. New Zealand local and provincial news is also covered with publications from the Northern News to the Southland Times. Read these publications online as if they were sitting in your hand!

For those familiar with life further afield, why not catch up on news as it happens in your native language such as Chinese, Afrikaans, Arabic or Russian! We have everything from Albania’s “Shekulli” to Zimbabwe’s “Business Weekly”. Today’s edition and up to 60 days of back issues are available for you to enjoy – simply search the library catalogue for “Press Display” or individual newspaper titles.  Alternatively, you can find Press Display along with other useful electronic resources in our Premium sites.

Tag-Team Fantasy Writing

I just received my reserved copy of The Gathering Storm. For those of you who don’t know the saga behind this publication, I refer you to my previous post here. For those link averse I will quickly summarise; author Robert Jordan wrote eleven of a planned twelve book epic series entitled The Wheel of Time, but then sadly passed away before he could complete the final book (if only he hadn’t stopped mid-series and written that prequel). Author Brandon Sanderson was given the task of completing the series by Jordan’s wife and provided with extensive notes, plot plans and indeed entire scenes already completed. Now that book has arrived and I can finally complete the series I started reading when I was 13. Or can I? Continue reading

Image of the week

Cars parked on Cambridge Terrace. 1945.

Cars parked on Cambridge Terrace

Looking towards Amuri Motors on the corner of Gloucester and Durham Streets. Sept. 1945

Like what you see? Complete this form to order an image. If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.

Curiously good new books from Gecko Press

Everybody has a friend or family member like Hamster.  He loves being the center of attention, he’s selfish, and greedy.  His friends Rabbit, Snail, Squirrel, Mole and Hedgehog all know what he’s like but love him no matter what.  Reflections of a Solitary Hamster is Gecko Press’ first graphic novel, written by Astrid Desbordes and illustrated by Pauline Martin.  Through each quirky episode Hamster and his friends learn some important lessons about friendship, sharing, and that it is the thought that counts.  Gecko Press’ ‘curiously good books’ are always presented so beautifully and Reflections of a Solitary Hamster is no exception.  Great for children and teens but particularly adults as they will get the often subtle sense of humour.

Good for You, Good for Me by Lorenz Pauli and illustrated by Kathrin Scharer is one of my favourite Gecko Press books so far.  Dormouse meets Bear one day while he is walking along playing his flute.  Bear gives Dormouse his favourite red cushion so that he can have a play of his flute.  This deal is good for them both; Bear has the flute and Dormouse has a cushion to sit on.  It turns out that Bear can’t play the flute very well and so they swap back and decide to travel together.  They make a good pair and discover that if they work together things will be ‘good for you, good for me.’  The illustrations are delightful and show Bear and Dormouse playing together in the sun and the rain.  I especially like the black and white line illustrations of Bear dancing while Dormouse plays his flute.  This is a great books for sharing with young children and is a perfect bedtime story.

Are you sick of Twilight fever?

The new Twilight movie New Moon seems to be the thing that everybody is talking about at the moment.  Record-breaking movie takings are being reported on the TV, radio and blogs everywhere, the cast are being interviewed left, right and center, and all of the Twi-hards are coming out of the woodwork.  You can probably tell I’m not a fan and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is sick of all the attention that these books and movies are getting.  I can just see the publishers and movie producers rubbing their hands with glee.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that people are reading the books, but it’s all the publicity that goes into making the whole thing so huge that I’m really against.  There are so many great books out there, but publishers think they’re onto a good thing with books such as Twilight and Harry Potter, and they milk them to death, putting all their marketing on one particular book or series.  There are plenty of books I can think of that are so much better written and are far greater stories than these blockbusters but they don’t get the attention that they should.

If you’re sick of the Twilight Saga and want to try something new, you could try some of these which we think are the best reads of the year for young adults:

You can find some more great reads in our Holiday Reading 2009 guide and don’t forget you can vote for your favourite book of the year here and go into the draw to win book vouchers.

Best and Worst Books of 2009

Like every other year, 2009 has had its fair share of literary highs and lows. We’d like YOU shrewd book  buffs to share the sublime and ridiculous from your reading lists this year.

In the spirit of  Christmas giving, if your favourite author let you down then this is the perfect opportunity to put the boot in. Alternatively, if you’ve made a fab new discovery, please get enthused and rave away. Devoted or disaffected it’s time to dish the dirt, and we’ve got four $50 book vouchers for lucky customers. So don’t pull any punches tell us what you really think. The competition closes on 16 December.

To get the ball rolling, my most memorable read of 2009 is  This is how by M.J. Hyland. Published this year it  tells the story of Patrick, a lonely and confused young man whose short-lived engagement has abruptly ended casting him adrift. He lands up in a seaside B&B where, inexplicably he commits a life changing act of violence. Known for the claustrophobic quality of  her work, Hyland creates a disconnected and damaged character, who longs for acceptance and love but has no talent for achieving it.

Published last year Life’s too f***ing short : a guide to getting what you want out of life without wasting time, effort or money by Janet Street-Porter is a feisty sounding  title that promises much but  delivers very little. Street-Porter,  journalist and broadcaster, is a legend but this is a very shallow take on the values that drove her to succeed in the media, survive four marriages and be the thinking man’s crumpet despite her frankly unusual looks. Outspoken and ballsy she may be but this book is hypocritical and gimmicky trash. But guess what? A  follow-up is soon to be with us Don’t let the b*****ds get you down, eek!

So what’s your best or worst this year? Fire away, then enter the draw.

What happened to pop stars that can actually sing?

While watching the Top 40 music show on C4 last night I got increasingly annoyed seeing the junk that makes up our top music in New Zealand at the moment.  Out of the top five I don’t think there was one artist who could actually sing in their own right without their voice being altered digitally.  Maybe I’m just getting old but I don’t actually like it at all and I wonder whether it would be cheaper for record companies to ‘build’ their own pop star on a computer.  Take Britney Spears for example.  She was booed off the stage at several of her recent Australian concerts because she was quite clearly lip-syncing to pre-recorded music.  It seems to be mainly R&B artists who use it and you’ve got to wonder if they’re actually just a pretty face with no musical talent.

I saw an interesting piece on 3 News last week that was talking about the software that pop artists use to alter their voices, called Aut0-Tune.  It’s a computer programme that can perfect your pitch and smooth over any off-notes, similar to the Photoshop programme that can perfect images.  According to this article there are three brothers in Brooklyn who have created songs out of news items.  They call it Auto-Tune the News and take particular news reports and use the Auto-Tune programme to alter voices and make it into a song, adding themselves into the news as well.

I’m pretty sure most of my favourite artists/groups such as James Taylor, The Killers, James Morrison, and Dave Dobbyn don’t use the technology.  Who are your favourite, naturally talented musicians?