What is your 10pm Question? Get on board with our Community read

Community ReadI spied a poster in the library that has put a real spring in my step: Community Read 2014. The reason for this spring is a visit to Christchurch City Libraries by Kate De Goldi. She is coming to talk about her novel The 10PM Question and I can’t wait.

I read this book a number of years ago and at the time it struck a real chord. Frankie Parsons, a twelve year old boy, is on the verge of change. He has a head full of worries and Frankie’s Ma listens patiently to his 10pm questions. I had a son who also had a head full of worries and at the time I found The 10PM Question a reassuring read. Kate De Goldi deals sensitively and perceptively with the issue of anxiety and the challenges faced by Frankie and his family.

Kate is an award winning writer who cannot be missed.









Lover of Literature



I had the pleasure of listening to Kate a number of years ago and I promise you will not be disappointed. Come along to this free event on Friday 22nd August, 11-12pm, at the South Library Colombo Street, Christchurch. In the evening (7.30pm to 9pm), join the Court Jesters for some 10pm questions. Share your 10PM question and be in to win an iPod touch. The Court Jesters at South Library will improvise your 10pm questions!

Kate de Goldi – and many more authors – will also be appearing in a variety of sessions at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

I don’t have a 10pm question but I do have plenty of 2.30am questions! What is your 10pm question?

Uncovering family stories

Your Family's HistoryChristchurch City Libraries has many overseas visitors coming to the library to research their family history. I enjoy these interactions as they are interesting and can uncover new information for families.

On this particular day an Australian visitor arrived keen to verify a family story about her relatives Nicholas and William Quinn. The brothers had apparently donated to the building of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, lived in Christchurch, and Quinns Road was named after them. So began the research to see if this story was correct.

Christchurch street names P-Q proved an invaluable resource with Quinns Road being named after a John Quinn, farmer of Shirley. The customer did not recognise this John and she did not know where the brothers lived in Christchurch.

AncestryWe checked the New Zealand Electoral Rolls on Ancestry and located a Nicholas Quinn in Waimate. She was unsure about this information as believed the brothers lived in Christchurch. However checking the original record proved both brothers were on the Electoral Roll and living in the Waimate area for the majority of their lives. Papers Past filled in gaps for the customer as there were many entries for the Quinn brothers in the Timaru Herald.

But what about donating to the building of the Cathedral? Google Images returned an image of a Quinn’s brick and we followed the trail. The link provided a detailed summary of the history of the two Irish brothers who originally fired bricks on their own property and went on to build many prominent buildings in Waimate and Makikihi, including the local Catholic Church. Nicholas did contribute to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament by leaving money, after he died, to contribute to peals of bells for the new church.

Quinn's Arcade c1907 -1918 Waimate Historical Museum and Archives
Quinn’s Arcade
c1907 -1918
Waimate Historical Museum and Archives Object number 2002-1026-01951

William and Nicholas Quinn proved to be fascinating early settlers, and whilst the outcome was different from the original story the family now had one that was verified and enriched through research and perseverance. If you are interested in uncovering family stories Christchurch City Libraries is running a Getting Started: Beginners Guide to Family History for four weeks beginning the 29th July, 6pm to 7.30pm. Ring 941-7923 if you are interested.

Did you know… Z is for Moose?

Cover of Z is for MooseZ is for Moose is the best children’s alphabet book I have come across in a long while. It is clever, inventive, cheeky, and very funny. It cries out to be read aloud by any member of the whanau and will be enjoyed by both adults and children, ours included.

The story begins with a double page illustration wherein the characters are being gathered in an orderly fashion by Zebra to get ready for their entrance on stage. Moose looks very excited jumping around with a lollipop and a needle, not orderly at all. Already there are some grumpy faces, a clue for the reader who soon becomes aware that things are not what they seem.

As alphabet books go this one starts with the usual A is for apple, B is for ball, C is for Cat, it’s all going well so far. Then, ta da ….

D is for Moose.

Zebra is incensed,

Moose? No. Moose does not start with D. You are on the wrong page.

And so the hilarity begins. Moose apologises and order ensues, for a short time anyway. Moose just can’t help himself though, “Is it my turn yet?”, as H for hat gets covered up. The slapstick humour continues and we haven’t even got to M yet. When the reader does get there it is not a pretty scene as Zebra gets mad and Moose throws a wobbly. Oh dear!

No more giveaways as you need to read the book to discover the next sequence of events. I do promise there will be an Ohhhh at the end. Z is definitely for Moose and alphabet books will never be the same again.

Thank you Donna Tartt

Cover of The GoldfinchI have just finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The story begins in Amsterdam with Theo, sick with a fever and locking himself in his hotel room, trying to work how his life could have turned out for the better – if indeed it could have. His life quickly moves back to New York where Theo is on the way to the museum with his mother to view her favourite painting and walks into a day that changes his life forever.

I was with Theo that fateful day and was compelled to remain with him until the end of his story. I was drawn to the array of colourful and memorable characters/rogues that Theo collides with during his life. I was fascinated by the different worlds of art, furniture restoration, antiques, drugs, and gambling. I was entranced by the rich detailed language and the suspenseful storylines, re-reading passages and thinking over the vividly described scenes. This was not an easy read with its themes of loss, obsession, and identity, however it quickly became a compulsive read and was difficult to put down.

I knew I was in the presence of a masterful writer …

A wilderness of gilt, gleaming in the slant from the dust-furred windows: gilded cupids, gilded commodes and torchieres, and – undercutting the old-wood smell – the reek of turpentine, oil, paint, and varnish. I followed him through the workshop along a path swept with sawdust, past pegboard and tools, dismembered chairs and claw-foot tables sprawled with their legs in the air. Though he was a big man he was graceful, a “floater”, my mother would have called him, something effortless and gliding in the way he carried himself. With my eyes on the heels of his slippered feet, I followed him up some narrow stairs and into a dim room, richly carpeted, where black urns stood on pedestals and tasselled draperies were drawn against the sun.

I loved it all. For me this was a pin prick book, it heightened my senses and made me feel more alive. Thank you Donna Tartt.

Meet the Mayfields from Carthage

Cover of CarthageCarthage by Joyce Carol Oates is about the Mayfield family, who on the face of it are a small town family going about their daily lives pleased with what they have achieved.

Zeno Mayfield, the confident father, is an ex-mayor and now town lawyer who is doted on by his wife and daughters. Arlette Mayfield, the protective mother, is adapting to her daughters growing away from home. Juliet Mayfield, the eldest daughter, is the “good sister” whom everyone in town likes. Cressida Mayfield, the youngest daughter, is the “smart sister” who makes others feel uncomfortable. And lastly, earnest Brett Kincaid, Juliet’s fiancée, who is a disabled war veteran recently returned from the Iraqi War. They are a strong band of characters and create a dark and powerful story.

The story begins with Cressida who goes missing in the local mountains after last being seen in the company of a traumatised Brett. What happens to her and Brett? What are the effects of her disappearance on the family? Who and what do they all become? This poignant story is told from the perspective of each character, and whilst this style can seem at times seem disjointing, it does create further tension.

Carthage is not an easy read. How does a traumatised ex-soldier fit back into daily life in a small conformist town? How does this family cope with inner and outer conflict? What are the effects of violence and trauma on their lives? The good sister vs the smart sister, what are the long term effects of their sibling rivalry? The plot takes the reader on many twists and turns and by the end the characters have all been radically transformed. Is their transformation for the better or worse? Take time to read Carthage to find out.

A new year spent reading

Cover of Dust by Hugh HoweyCover for Wildfire at Midnight by Mary StewartCover of Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann

I am a happy reader. The main reason for this unexpected happiness is that I have been making satisfying reading choices over the holiday period. At this time of year I endeavour to have a variety of books so I can read to my heart’s content. My heart is contented and my reading mojo is a happenin’ thing.

I started my holiday reading Dust by Hugh Howey, the last book in the Silo series. This story pulls the threads of the previous books together in an unforgettable and memorable way. As I was reading this last book I was continually thinking about the politics, ethics, and values and of those living in the silos. At the end it was difficult to leave the characters behind with Juliette and Solo remaining firm favourites for their strength and determination to remain true to themselves. A thought provoking read and I highly recommend this series.

Wildfire at Midnight was my next choice and very different read. This book was first published in 1956 and is a detective story with a difference. Set on the Isle of Skye, it involves murders, mountaineering, druids, pagan rituals and is full of drama. I couldn’t put this book down as the main character kept going off by herself and getting into dangerous situations adding further tension to the story. Mary Stewart is a skilled writer who keeps the reader guessing.

Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann was the perfect complement to my previous reads. This book is full of deception, scheming, and charm. It has an array of colourful characters and immediately transports the reader to eighteenth century England. This is a textured read. I was drawn in by the drama, card games, different social levels, street slang, and the authenticity of the times. A glossary adds further interest and connection for the reader. A satisfying read.

My next choice After Her by Joyce Maynard was a slow start but interesting enough to keep me reading. This is a murder mystery told from an unusual viewpoint. Patty, the storyteller, is the daughter of a detective who is put in charge of finding a serial murderer. The story describes the pressures on family life, the destruction of a career and the consequences of these murders later in life. It is a fascinating and poignant read.

My last holiday read was Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. This book is based on a true story about the last executions in Iceland. The landscape and characters dominate this well written and touching story. It is a moving and unsettling read. Highly recommended.

How did your holiday reading go?

Cover of After Her by Joyce Maynardcover for Burial Rites

Come one and all to Central Library Peterborough

Hear ye, hear ye …

Come along and have fun exploring the Central Library Peterborough Christmas Market on Sunday the 8th December. We have over 15 stallholders, a sausage / samosa sizzle, and live music to add to the atmosphere. You can change your library books, wander the stalls, and do Christmas shopping –  all at the same time. We will have a wide range of jewellery, crafts, clothes, preserves, books, art and candles.

Spread the word and mark the date on your calendar. See you there.

P.S. Don’t forget to visit Central Library Peterborough to view New Zealand Illustrated: Pictorial Books from the Victorian Age exhibition before Monday the 2nd of December. It complements Eleanor Catton’s book “The Luminaries” perfectly.

Library Christmas Market

Need for eye candy

Cover of RipeAfter all this “packing up the house for earthquake repairs” malarkey I am one tired and distracted reader. I have a pile of books beside my bed and can’t pick any of them. I need to browse for pleasure. I need eye candy.

Cookbooks are my kinda eye candy. I like to lose myself in delectable recipes, luscious looking images and tempting tasty treats. Simple quirky recipes, concise instructions with not too many ingredients are a pleasure to read.  I just need to laze around browsing cookbooks to soothe my tired body and mind.

Losing myself in cookbooks began many years ago with Mollie (Moosewood Restaurant), Alison (New Zealand icon), Mary (famous dad Paul), Ruth (home entertaining goddess), Lois (ex-Listener columnist), Lauraine (baker extraordinare) and Hugh (passionate seasonal foodie) to name just a few. They willingly share their love of food and cooking. I willingly lap it all up.

I begin browsing with Ripe Recipes, A Fresh Batch, produced by Ripe Deli, a delicatessen in Auckland. This is a follow-up collection to their 2010 Ripe recipe book. The contents page provides a great overview with salads, finger foods, high teas, Mexican food and deli dinners all stimulating my interest. This book is full of delicious sounding recipes, standout photos and easy to follow instructions. I have a short list of recipes I want to follow up on, Charred Smoky Baked Eggplants being an absolute starter.

Next in the pile is another New Zealand cookbook Cook Simple Fresh Meal Ideas For Busy Lives. Fresh seasonal food is shared through such headings as weeknights, weekends, breakfasts and occasions. Each recipe has a full page colour image which brings the food alive and makes it look easy to make. I like the idea of this book but I want more to salivate over.

honestly healthyAs it’s Spring I am looking for lighter recipe ideas. Honestly Healthy  is written by two friends who share a passion for food. It provides just the right mix with innovative salads, lighter meal options and nourishing looking dishes. I browse backwards and forwards through this book enjoying the look and layout of the recipes. There is information about alkaline foods and balanced eating which provide added interest .

I’ve made a good start with my cookbook browsing. I’m slowly letting go of the stress from packing and am beginning to relax. I intend to continue with these pleasurable pursuits. Tanoshii Joy of Making  Japanese Style Cakes and Desserts is my next read.

What is your kinda eye candy?

Walk & talk Victoria Square

It is nearly time for the Reconnect festival, a programme full of experiencing Christchurch heritage. This Sunday 20 October Christchurch City Libraries joins with local historian Dr Geoff Rice to provide a historical tour of Market Square, now Victoria Square.

If you enjoy listening to local history talks then this walk and talk may just suit you. The tour will focus on some of the buildings, activities and individuals associated with the square from over the last 160 years.

A colleague has been honing his research skills and has located some fascinating tidbits from old newspapers. One article was about lighting the Queen Victoria statue in 1948. I can’t say too much, but the article made fellow librarians let out a collective gasp when it was read aloud. My lips are sealed but this is one gem worth coming to hear.

Let’s hope for a sunny spring Sunday morning this weekend for the 11am tour. Contingency plans have been put in place and the tour will go ahead even if the weather is not playing its part. Get in the mood for this event by browsing Victoria Square photographs from our collection.

Photo of a memorial service for Canterbury officers and soldiers killed in the South African Boer War, Victoria Square, 1913Photo of statue of Queen VictoriaPhoto of bus in Victoria SquarePhoto of James Hay bridgePhoto of Captain Cook StatuePhoto of the unveiling of the Captain Cook statue in Victoria Square in 1932

We are family

Central Library Peterborough staff have just completed a successful “Introduction to Family History Research”. Over four weeks nine people undertook the course and found out about the resources we hold and the information that can be gleaned from records to find family members. It can be fun, frustrating, and absorbing, all at the same time. Family history research is a bit like being a detective and a great time waster, as many of the participants observed.

A wonderful insight from great staff who stimulated and challenged each of us to look further in our family history research. Would encourage everyone to take part.

Photo of Central Library Peterborough

The comments from participants were favourable so we have decided to run another course in November. The course will run on Tuesdays for five weeks, beginning November the 5th, starting at 9.30am until 12.30pm, and costing $15.00. It covers Starting Points, Next Steps, Filling the Gaps and Where to next? You can ring 941-5140 if you need more information.

Even though the course is geared to beginners, experienced family historians were involved and expressed how helpful it was to find out what resources were available at the library. If you are interested in verifying family stories, locating family members, searching records and learning search techniques, then come along and join us at the library.

Family History is cool and we are ready and waiting.