Lucy Dillon – All I Ever Wanted

Cover of All I ever wantedCaitlin and Eva have something and nothing in common. They’ve both lost their husbands. While Eva is the poised, business-like widow of a celebrity actor, Caitlin is a free spirit who dropped out of university to have a child, and is seperated from Eva’s brother, Patrick.

When Patrick volunteers Eva’s pristine, designer house for fortnightly visits between Patrick and his children Joel and Nancy, Eva is forced out of her comfort zone of grief and into facing her future without Mick, her famous husband.

Nancy, only four, is carrying a secret. Unable to speak since the separation, Nancy thinks it was her wish that made her father go away…

All I Ever Wanted tells the story of how this family is broken apart, then brought together by a common goal: to get Nancy to speak again,

Lucy Dillon writes with an eye for physical detail and emotional nuance, she skillfully relates the feeling of a parent unable to help their child, the frustration of a couple unable to communicate and the pain of Eva’s childllessness. She notes the personality traits that make us unique, and the ways in which we understand and misunderstand one another.

I was swept up in the often moving journey of her characters. A little gushy towards the end (I’m not normally a romance reader) this is a powerfully written book.

All I ever wanted
by Lucy Dillon
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9781444796049

Saying goodbye to Princess Leia

I have been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember and a large part of that reason was Princess Leia. Growing up in the 70s and 80s she was, along with Charlies’ Angels, the kind of cute but fearless hero that I longed to be like.

Later in life I came to appreciate Carrie Fisher for her other roles in films like When Harry met Sally, and more recently her brilliantly comic turn as the mother-in-law from Hell in sitcom Catastrophe, but most especially for her writing.

Cover of The Princess DiaristHaving been equal parts amused and horrified by her earlier memoir Wishful Drinking*, late last year I placed a hold on her most recent effort, The Princess Diarist. I couldn’t possibly have imagined that by the time the book became available that she would be dead. How could I have? And even worse, that her family would suffer a double tragedy when her mother, Debbie Reynolds, would follow just a couple of days later. I wept unapologetically and over the Christmas period I watched song and dance numbers from Singin’ in the rain on YouTube and moped.

So it was with a somewhat heavy heart that I finally picked up The Princess Diarist and, after steeling myself and making sure a box of tissues was handy, started to read it.

But I barely needed them because, and this is the magic of writing and the author’s voice, Carrie Fisher was alive again on every page. Dripping with acerbic, self-deprecating wit and wordplay, The Princess Diarist was this amazingly comforting fan experience for me.

In case you didn’t know, the book is based on Fisher’s diaries from 1976 during the making of the first Star Wars film. The book is a mix of explanatory set-up of how she came to even been in the movie (or showbiz for that matter) and her observations on that time from a distance of some 40 years, as well as some really fascinating musings on the nature of fame, or at least her very specific version of it. And throughout runs her brutally honest humour and no BS attitude. The main revelation of the book is her on set affair, at the age of nineteen, with her married-with-kids co-star Harrison Ford. She dedicates a whole chapter to it which is, rather delightfully, titled “Carrison”.

You have the eyes of a doe and the balls of a samurai.

(Harrison Ford “breaking character” by saying something heartfelt to Fisher, as they parted company)

The book also includes a section of verbatim entries from the aforementioned diary. In some ways this was my least favourite part, only because it’s written by a rather tortured teenager about her less than satisfying love life and I have unfond memories of writing similarly tortured diary entries when I was the same age. I can immediately understand why it took her 40 years to publish any of it (There is poetry. About Harrison Ford being distant. It’s wonderful/terrible).

Having said that, Fisher’s diaries are much better written than those of the average teenager. She admits to having been rather precocious and the sly humour and clever use of language would read as being written but someone much older… if not for the This Is So Very Important And Deep style of diarying that teenagers of a certain sort are prone to.

So skim through that section, casting grains of salt as  you go, would be my advice. But the rest of it is great – an absolute must-read for Princess Leia fans, or just fans of Fisher’s signature snappy rejoinders.

Having got through pretty much the whole book with nary more than a slight moistening of eye, I admit to some small amount of tearfulness upon reading the acknowledgments, primarily due to this passage –

For my mother – for being too stubborn and thoughtful to die. I love you, but that whole emergency, almost dying thing, wasn’t funny. Don’t even THINK about doing it again in any form.

No, that part at least, was not funny at all.

More Carrie Fisher

*The audiobook version is narrated by Fisher herself, so if you really, really want to hear that sonorous voice in your head you can!

Dragon Springs Road – Janie Chang

Cover of Dragon Springs RoadDragon Springs Road by Janie Chang has as many layers as a Chinese puzzle. This beautifully painted tale is a saga containing a mystery, with elements of romance, fantasy, fairy tale and Chinese spiritualism. The story is set against the dramatic backdrop of the 1911 Chinese Revolution; the last reign of the Xing Dynasty.

Jialing is a young hun xue (mixed breed) girl abandoned by her mother. The other word used to describe her isn’t very nice. Jialing’s mother was Chinese, her father British. Her plight highlights the status of women and those of mixed race in a changing society. Women at this time were regarded as property, with little options for independence.

Grandmother Yang, the Matriarch of a well respected family, takes Jialing in as a Bond Servant. She is property of the family until she can buy her freedom. Unfortunately for Jialing, her options as an adult are limited. Although educated, discrimination against her Eurasian appearance makes her almost unemployable.

When a family finds itself in financial difficulty, even wives can be sold; or as servants, or worse, into brothels. Jialing can only hope to be a mistress or a prostitute, unless she is lucky. Aided and protected by a Fox Spirit, Jialing attempts to find a home, friendship, her mother, independence and love.

Janie Chang is also the author of Three Souls.

This is the perfect book to read during Lunar New Year!

Dragon Springs Road
by Janie Chang
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780062388957

Lunar New Year events

All about China

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Ānana!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Ānana!
That’s it!

akina te reo rugby

Podcast – Antarctica

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

The latest episode deals with issues relating to Antarctica:

  • Ice melt
  • Climate science and climate change – ice core research
  • Antarctic Treaty and international cooperation
  • Antarctica as a place – vistas, cold etc
  • The role of New Zealand and Christchurch in Antarctic exploration

This show was recorded at the Centre of Contemporary Art and includes discussion with Bryan Storey of Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, Dan Price (Pole to Paris) and Karen Scott from University of Canterbury Law School.

Transcript of audio file

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Dispatches from Continent Seven Cover of Antarctica An Encyclopedia Cover of Antarctica in International Law  Cover of Dogs of the vastness Cover of Our far south

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

The Gig Guide: February 2017

Planning on attending a concert, show, or gig in Christchurch? Then why not take a look at what we’ve got of that artist’s back catalogue?

Comedy

Kids

Music

What gigs are you looking forward to in the near future? Anything we’ve missed? Do let us know in the comments.

Reading Poetry Around the World

All the seats were taken and the truly dedicated stood for an hour to listen to people talk about poetry at Scorpio Books on Thursday the 26th of January.

The chance to hear poet and world renowned poetry scholar Stephen Burt in a conversation with Victoria University Press editor Fergus Barrowman, chaired by University of Canterbury Professor of English Paul Millar, explained the impressive turnout and they did not disappoint.

Cover for New Selected Poems by James K BaxterIf you couldn’t make it these are the poets Burt read and rated before arriving in New Zealand: James K. Baxter – “one of the great poets of the 20th century”, Michelle Leggott, Bill Manhire, Andrew Johnston, Ian Wedde.

Those discovered after arriving: Bernadette Hall, Joanna Margaret Paul, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell.

Millar’s relaxed chairing – “I’m going to ask you a question and you can say whatever you like” –  let the conversation range freely and some interesting stuff emerged. The visits of American poet Robert Creeley influenced New Zealand poetry markedly; ” an accident of history that had unforeseen consequences”. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of him.

Cover for Hera Lindsay BirdSo how much does the Internet change poetry and reading? A lot. Burt and Barrowman agreed that current sensation Hera Lindsay Bird would not exist without the Internet and its international no cost distribution. But Unity Books in Wellington has also sold large numbers of print copies of her book.

Where will the ‘not hip’ poets be read? No-one knows. Burt is sure that the Internet makes it easier for everyone in the room last night to access poetry from other countries.

Burt was off to the The Bats (New Zealand poetry, with its “agreement groups not large enough to live in”,  was compared to the Flying Nun bands earlier in proceedings) so there was time for just a couple of questions. In the event there was only one and I can report that Bob Dylan was not shaped by Minnesota literary culture.

Thanks to the University of Canterbury College of Arts and WORD Christchurch for a very stimulating event. I’ll be keeping an eye out for others.

Dog Man Unleashed at the Library

Bow-wowie! Who let the dogs out? The second in the Dog Man series Dog Man Unleashed has just been um, unleashed, and Dog Man is on tour across Christchurch City Libraries.

dogman-unleashed

Dog Man is the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey. There’s something fishy in Dog Man Unleashed when Dog Man gets his boss, the Chief of Police, a freaky fish who accidentally ingests ‘supa brain dots’ instead of fish food and masterminds a treasure chests heist. The chief suspect however is Dog Man’s nemesis Petey the criminal cat, who gets taken to jail but manages to slip away by making himself as flat as paper and unfolding some origami outmaneuvers. Things turn a bit keystone cops and the puns are lots of fun (the fish costs “five bucks plus tacks”). And when Petey uses a phone booth, mailbox, newspaper, fax machine and a VCR player as weapons, on-looking kids have no idea what these things even are! Watch out for the Obey Spray and the Love Ray whose powers go awry and things turn a bit Jurassic Bark when Dog Man gets thrown the biggest bone ever. Speaking of paper tricks, Pilkey’s famous Flip-o-rama animated action is back too. (And don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous related books – there’s a quick recap of Dog Man’s genesis at the start).

Parents be warned, as the Chief sums up at the end of the story: “nobody learned anything… there was no atonement… no rebirth… no revelations… and not an ounce of character development or personal growth… it was all just a buncha mindless action and dumb luck” …Perfect! The kids will love it. The silliness in Pilkey’s books is so appealing to young children and his comics make a great ‘gateway’ to reading for kids who struggle with reading. (My son was so taken by Pilkeys ‘Hairy Potty’ character in Captain Underpants that one day he cut out menacing eyes and teeth from paper and taped them onto our toilet seat which gave us all a shock when we went to use the loo).

dogmanparklands
Dog Man on tour across Christchurch City Libraries. Here he is at Parklands Library with Olivia (L) and Hayley (R), January 2017

When Dog Man and Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey last came to Christchurch a year and half ago, he delivered an inspiring presentation focusing on you can achieve despite learning and behavioural issues such as ADHD and dyslexia, like he had growing up. Dav was keen to point out that learning difficulties are no barrier to being creative or successful. When it was suggested to Dav as a child that he’d have to grow up and couldn’t write silly books the rest of his life, he proved them wrong. In fact, he mentioned many other notable dyslexics from Einstein and Beethoven through to Keira Knightley and Jamie Oliver. Dav’s slogan is: “Reading gives you Superpowers.”

DSC_9133
Author Dav Pilkey meeting his fans at a public talk held at Fendalton Open-air School, May 2015.

Get into the libraries a grab a selfie with Dog Man himself.

Author of Captain Underpants, Superdiaper Baby and Ook & Gluk

Visit Planet Pilkey

Dave Pilkey website

A Month with April-May by Edyth Bulbring

CoverI wanted Mrs Ho out of my life. I wanted her to leave Trinity College. But God and your angels, shut your eyes on my vengeful plans, I never wanted Mrs Ho to be dead.

If you love smart and funny girls who tell it like it is, there’s a new girl for you to meet in A Month with April-May by Edyth Bulbring. Her name is April-May February … seriously. And her bizarre name is only the beginning of April-May’s troubles.

April-May has won a scholarship to the ultra-posh Trinity Academy, but her disastrous first day doesn’t bode well for the year to come. After being yelled at for having the wrong colour bag and too-bright socks, she is forced to sit next to the class mouth-breather and is soon engaged in a power struggle with the infuriating Mrs Ho. Isolated and unable to fit in, she finds solace and inspiration in the beautiful Sebastian and his gang, who are impressed by her rebellious attitude.

CoverWill April-May hang on to her scholarship at the Academy? Will her father “Fluffy” ever get her school uniform back? And will Sebastian lead her into more danger than even April-May can cope with? Her story is a funny one but will pull on your heartstrings.

Author Edyth Bulbring is a South African writer whose books are so popular that they are part of the national curriculum for year 7 to 8, and this book is flavoured with the youth culture and slang of Johannesburg. Keep an eye out for the sequel 100 Days of April-May.

If you  liked April-May, you might like:

CoverCoverCoverCover

Saffy’s Angel (Casson Family #1) Hilary McKay
More books in the Casson Family series

Cherry Crush (Chocolate Box Girls #1) Cathy Cassidy
More books in the Chocolate Box Girls series

Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1) Holly Smale
More books in the Geek Girl series

Look Into My Eyes (Ruby Redfort #1) Lauren Child
More books in the Ruby Redfort series

Emily
New Brighton Library

Waitangi Day in Christchurch and Canterbury – Monday 6 February 2017

Find out about Christchurch and Canterbury Waitangi Day celebrations in 2017.

Rapaki Marae citizenship ceremony
6 February 2014. Rāpaki Marae citizenship ceremony. Flickr: 2014-02-06-Citizenship6Feb2014PR-0082. Photo supplied by Christchurch City Council.

Wai 262 Presentation – Linwood Library (Wednesday, 2 February, 6-7pm)

In the lead up to Waitangi Day, why not find out more about one of the most signficant Treaty claim made to date. Wai 262 is sometimes known as the “flora and fauna” or “intellectual property” claim. Noted academic, Sacha McMeeking will present a talk on this topic with time available for questions and answers.

Ngāi Tahu Treaty Festival Ōtākou Marae

Every year Ngāi Tahu commemorates Waitangi Day at one of three locations where the iwi signed the Treaty — Awarua, Ōtākou and Ōnuku. In 2017, the Ngāi Tahu Treaty of Waitangi commemorations are at Ōtākou Marae, Tamatea Road, Otago Peninsula.
Subscribe to the Ngāi Tahu Treaty of Waitangi commemorations event on Facebook.

Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum 1146 Main Road, Okains Bay

On Monday 6 February, the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum has its 42nd annual family day to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Highlights include a pōwhiri (traditional welcome), hangi lunch, children’s races and the paddling of the magnificent waka on the Opara River 1pm. View the Museum’s collections and enjoy continuous demonstrations all day including bread baking in a traditional clay oven, master weavers, wood chopping and sheep shearing. Crafts, stalls, pony rides, lolly scramble, sausage sizzle, espresso coffee, garden bar, cafeteria and more.

Entrance cost: Adults $10, Children $2. Please bring cash. No ATM available. Gates open at 10am. Pōwhiri commences at 10:30am. Phone the Okains Bay Museum 03 304 8611 for more details.

Waka launch, Waitangi Day, Okain’s Bay
Waka launch, Waitangi Day, Okain’s Bay, 6 February 1977 Flickr: HWC08-SO10

Waitangi Day celebrations at the Christchurch Art Gallery

Commemorate Waitangi Day at the Christchurch Art Gallery with performances, art and family-friendly activities that celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand and tangata whenua. The day will include including harakeke weaving, and a kapa haka demonstration at 1pm.This will be followed by a performance of Dudley Benson’s incredible ‘A Wedding’ at 3pm — a bold and visceral declaration of our relationship with the land, expressed through engaging pop music.

I love New Brighton Thomson Park, Marine Parade, New Brighton

The “I Love New Brighton” Annual Event is a local festival day that celebrates New Brighton — south, north, central and beyond. The 2017 event is at Thomson Park, Marine Parade from 11am to 3pm. Lots of free activities, have-a-go sports, market stalls, food stalls, bouncy castles, face painting, games and a LIVE stage featuring local bands.
Subscribe to the I love New Brighton event on Facebook.

Kaiapoi Waitangi Day Family Celebrations Troussellot Park, Kaiapoi

Kaiapoi’s Annual Waitangi Day family celebration event is on again at Trousselot Park, Kaiapoi from 10am to 2pm on Monday 6 February. Activities include: live entertainment, school kapa haka performances, market and food stalls, bouncy castle, pony rides, face painting and ‘walk about’ quiz. Support Kaiapoi High School and buy a hangi meal for lunch, tickets are on sale from the Kaiapoi i-site $10 each.

Waitangi Day Community Country Picnic Darfield

Free fun activities for the whole family at Darfield’s Waitangi Day Community Country Picnic. Pedalmania, bouncy castles, pony rides, petting zoo, games — plus market stalls and more. Bring a picnic and top up at the food stalls while listening to local storyteller and puppeteer Liz Weir. Local emergency services will be there including rides on the old fire engine with a lolly scramble. Join in a game of backyard cricket, enjoy a Devonshire tea, ice cream, candyfloss and lemonade.

More events on Waitangi Day

Find more Canterbury Waitangi weekend events listed in Eventfinda.

Find out more