On espionage

Recently I listened to a free lecture on The Great Courses app (available for iOS or Android) called “Becoming a Spy”.

I found this intriguing (no pun intended) and really interesting to hear the reasons why an individual decides to betray their country and become an agent of espionage. Several reasons were given, for example ideology, money, a sense of disillusionment with the Government of their own country and a sense of achieving a greater good in the long term.

I decided I wanted to know more about this subject so did some research on the eResource Academic World Book.

I did a search under ‘Espionage’ and found some really interesting articles on the likes of our own Nancy Wake (1912-2011). Nancy was a famous New Zealand-born Australian resistance fighter during WWII. Due to her ability to avoid capture she was nick-named “the White Mouse”.

Nancy Wake  The White Mouse  My Silent War  A Spy Among Friends

The infamous British civil servant Kim Philby who became a spy for the Russians is also an interesting subject and well worth researching or reading about.

Christchurch City Libraries has titles on these subjects in several formats – books, eBooks, graphic novels, large print, audiobooks and DVDs as well as our wonderful eResources.

If you would like to try a spy novel over the holidays here are a few titles by authors whom I enjoy for their ability to write a good spy novel.

Act of Treason  The Amateur Spy  The English Spy  Spies of the Balkans  The Faithful Spy  One Dead Spy

Find more spy fiction and true tales of espionage in the library catalogue.

The ‘all in one’ Audiobook!!

Playaway player
Playaway player

If you are an audiobook enthusiast you may be interested in trying one of Christchurch City Libraries pre-loaded audio-books called ‘Playaways’. Playaways are very convenient as you don’t need a disc player, MP3 player, or computer. About the size of a pack of cards, these convenient audiobooks contain an entire book and can fit into a purse or pocket quite easily, they run on a small battery. Great for listening to (with small headphones) whilst walking, working, relaxing and can be listened to whilst travelling by using a cassette adapter or plug into an auxiliary port in your car’s audio system.

This form of audiobook has several small convenient buttons to adjust, sound level, voice speed, a skip forward or back chapter button and a time remaining in chapter button and of course on/off button.

If you are feeling unwell or unable to concentrate to read a book, lie back listen and relax with simply  a touch of a button you can be taken into another world by an experienced storyteller.

Christchurch City Libraries have many popular titles. They are available for adults, young adults and children. To find Playaway audiobooks, keyword search using Playaway or subject search by Audiobooks.

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Next time you are at your library ask for a demonstration. Earphones are available to purchase for a cost of only $2.50.

 

Lawrence of Arabia: not just a WWI hero!

The mystique of the East and all things Arabian have always intrigued me. As a younger girl part of that for me was learning about Lawrence of Arabia, and I feel compelled to introduce him to those who may know little of him, his adventures and his actions during WWI.

Cover of The Golden WarriorSome of you may have seen the movie Lawrence of Arabia which was first shown in 1962. It was described as an epic adventure film amd won several Oscars. The image that comes to mind is of Lawrence in his eastern robes astride a camel in the shimmering desert – a rather romantic, exotic image. I was saddened when I learned that Lawrence, at the young age of 46, was killed riding a motorbike, like a perfectly ordinary bloke, not such a romantic image I have now! My young girl fantasy shattered.

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born in Wales on 16th August 1888. As a young man he enjoyed travel. After a study trip to Syria he decided to become an archaeologist. He studied medieval castles in France and Syria and was to use his experiences to write his thesis (published in 1910 as Crusader Castles); in doing so he gained first-class honours in History. His knowledge of Arabic gained during his time in Syria became a useful tool when he returned to the Middle East to fight for the allies against the Turks in WWI.

Cover of Lawrence of ArabiaOn all accounts Lawrence could be described as a colourful character. He has been depicted by George Bernard Shaw as a “literary genius” and yet blasted by an Oxford historian as a “charlatan and fantasist”. He was also accused of being a spy, something that some may still believe today. One thing that cannot be disputed is he came out of the First World War as a hero for his efforts in the Middle East and is still seen as such. As a matter of interest, over twenty new books have been written about Lawrence between 2000 and 2010.

What do you know of him? Have you read about him? If you would like to know more about Lawrence, check our catalogue. We have several interesting books about him and also have the original soundtrack to the movie made about him. Further to this we have many eResources, such as Biography in ContextOxford Dictionary of National Biography, Britannica Library Adults, and History Reference Center, to name just a few for you to enjoy.

Cover of Young Lawrence Cover of Hero Cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom Cover of Lawrence of Arabia

Florence Nightingale, 1820 – 1910

Having been in hospital recently has given me pause to consider how amazing the nurses are and how dedicated they must be to work at times arduous hours and to deal with tasks which are not always pleasant. And let’s face it, at times they observe the deterioration and loss of a patient they may have nursed for a while. That must be hard, yet they are always so cheery and ready to make you as comfortable as they can and almost always with a warm smile.

I work as a library assistant and find it  hard and feel quite sad when we have to put what has been a great book to rest. So I figure in comparison I must be a bit of a wuss.

Cover of Florence Nightingale: The Lady with the LampI remember in school being taught about the early days of nursing and the role that Florence Nightingale played in that. Florence is very well known for her contribution in the Crimean War. Don’t be fooled though: this “Lady of the Lamp”, as she was often referred to, was so much more than a committed nurse, teacher and carer of those injured during wartime. This I only recently discovered when, on my discharge from hospital, I decided to read about Florence, and I am so pleased I did.

Let me share with you a little of what I have discovered. In doing so I hope you will be inspired to check out one of the many books we have about Florence at Christchurch City Libraries and discover for yourselves what an incredibly strong woman she was, very talented and a fantastic role model for all women.

Cover of The Story of Florence Nightingale Cover of A Winter on the Nile Cover of Florence Nightingale Cover of No Place for Ladies

Florence was born in Italy in 1820 and was named after the city in which she was born. Unusually for women of that era Florence was well educated. Her father, who was her tutor, saw her potential and tutored her, amongst other things, in languages, maths and history.

Florence’s talents included an understanding of politics, ability in maths and statistics.  She was a prolific writer and could be described as a trailblazer in her endeavours to improve the lot of prostitutes to prevent them gaining a criminal record.  She was also committed to improving health conditions for the people of India.

Cover of Letters from EgyptAt age 29 Florence travelled to Egypt. As a talented writer she wrote many descriptive letters to her family about her adventures. These letters have been published in Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile 1849-1850, selected and introduced by Anthony Sattin. A wonderful Arabian Nights adventure and beautifully illustrated throughout, this book is an enjoyable read. Florence’s description of her travels is captivating: she takes one on the journey with her . This book is just one of several items we have to offer for you to read and gain insight into a very capable  and strong-willed woman. Do enjoy her story.

Hearty winter cooking and winter pursuits

As winter drags on and we long for warm sunny days at the beach and outdoor entertaining around the bbq, consider this:

  • Cover of Hot Chocolatemulled wine or hot chocolate by the fireside
  • hosting a mid-winter Christmas do
  • piping hot stew and dumplings
  • cheesy muffins with tasty hot soup
  • visiting the local hot springs
  • ice skating, snowboarding or skiing
  • tucking in the warmth of your home with a good book
  • taking a trip to the snow to toboggan down the hillsides
  • hosting a card evening
  • inviting friends to a potluck dinner at your place
  • getting lost for an hour or two exploring the digital library
  • discovering your family history at our libraries

Check our catalogue for new winter cooking recipes from our books, DVDs, eBooks or magazines to help you create something to impress your family or friends and take your mind off the winter blues. Borrow a book on visiting one of our mountain resorts or ski areas. We also have books about various card games the whole family may enjoy.

Try a few of these ideas and before you know it Daffodil Day will be here and then the beautiful blossom will be sprouting on to the trees looking like popcorn and indicating that summer is on its way.

Cover of Winter Food Cover of Robyn Martin's Easy Budget Recipes for Crockpots & Slow Cookers Cover of 365 Winter Warmer Slow Cooker Recipes Cover of Slow Cooker Desserts Cover of Australian Women's Weekly Soup & Stew Favourites Cover of The Snow Guide to New Zealand Cover of Skiing and Boarding Cover of Hot Springs of New Zealand Cover of Queenstown Cover of The Card Games Bible Cover of The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games  Cover of The Genealogist's Internet

Ant the daring War Dog who flew with his master and was awarded the VC

War Dog: The No-Man’s Land Puppy Who Took to the Skies by Damien Lewis

This is an incredible story of the relationship between a dog and his master. It is set during the second world war and is a delightful and heart-warming read.

Cover of War Dog In 1940, French pilot Pierre Duval and gunner Robert Bozdech were shot down over no-man’s land near France. They took shelter in an old farmhouse where they found a German Shepherd puppy. Still in no-man’s land, they waited for nightfall and made a daring escape. Robert hid the little pup inside his jacket and, avoiding German patrols, the three of them made it safely back to France. Robert and the puppy, who he named Ant, became inseparable.

In time Robert made his way to Britain. Ignoring the authorities, he took Ant with him and in the years that followed, Robert and Ant flew together with Bomber Command saving each other’s lives many times. Ant became the mascot to Robert’s squadron – he was  the only mascot to fly on combat missions – and with his master survived many attacks from the Germans.

A truly remarkable animal, Ant was eventually  grounded due to injury and at the end of the war was awarded the Dickin Medal, the ‘Animal VC’ for bravery!

This book is available at Christchurch City Libraries in book form including Large Print or as an audiobook on CD or on MP3 CD.

If you would like to read some other interesting stories about animals in war times you may also like to try the following books.

Cover of War Dogs  Cover of Cry Havoc  Cover of Top Dog  Cover of Freedom in the Air

Cover of Elephant Company  Cover of Tommy's Ark  Cover of Jet the Rescue Dog and Other Extraordinary Stories of Animals in Wartime  Cover of Warrior

Mockingbird Songs

There are very few books that I would give five stars to in a review, however Mockingbird Songs is one.

Cover of Mockingbird SongsR. J. Ellory is one of my favourite authors and I have enjoyed many of his award winning novels. However with his latest novel Mockingbird Songs I felt he had taken his writing to a different level due to the descriptive prose and the depth of characterisation.

This novel is set in a small town in West Texas and is essentially a tale about two brothers, Ethan and Carson, who have had a complex relationship from early childhood because of one parent favouring one brother over the other. The ill feeling that comes from this one-sided relationship simmers throughout their teenage years  and is further complicated as a result of their ongoing rivalry for their childhood sweetheart.

A powerful story unfolds, about keeping a promise no matter the outcome because of loyalty to a friend. A very dark tale, a tale of  revenge, hidden secrets of a lost daughter. At times it felt like a very long journey, a saga as well as a mystery.

Cover of I Know This Much Is TrueCompelling reading. R. J. Ellory hooked me in from the very beginning. I found this to be a ‘can’t put down’ novel and was very fortunate to be able to read it when I had time on my hands; otherwise there may not have been much done around the house for a few days and takeaways may have been on the menu!

Another absorbing read about two brothers is I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb. This story is about twin brothers, with one brother feeling totally responsible for the other and how that affects his life. I would rate I Know This Much Is True as a four star novel.

Are there any novels about siblings that you’d particularly recommend?

Landscaping – creating an outdoor room

Autumn is almost over – what better than a project to while away the cold days ahead and cast away the winter blues?

Cover of The Complete Guide to Landscape ProjectsWinter is a good time to work out a plan for next summer’s landscaping.  Try drawing it on a large piece of sketch paper; it can be very helpful.

Christchurch City Libraries have many books, eBooks and magazines on landscaping. Not just the garden type: books on deckings, paving, screens for privacyoutdoor furniture, how to make a built-in barbecue – you name it, we have it! And, yes, you can do it yourself. We have many handyman books and magazines as well as books on landscaping.

Have a chat to one of our many librarians and they will point you in the right direction. You will be all organised by spring and ready to enjoy the fruits of your labour by summer. It may just be good for your health too.

Cover of The Living Landscape Cover of Landscape Cover of Landscape and Urban Design for Health and Well-being Cover of Contemporary Designers' Own Gardens Cover of Building Decks Cover of Weekend Outdoor DIY

Women in wartime

I recently heard a story about an elderly lady living in a rest home who had played a significant role during the First World War. She had lived in the rest home for some five years or so and no one had a clue of her incredible background. This got me thinking about how many untold stories there must be of women who contributed in so many ways to the  war effort.

During the war, girls were engaged on a wide range of jobs [between 1940 and 1945] <a
During the war, girls were engaged on a wide range of jobs [between 1940 and 1945] CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0082
On research I have found that there is little written about the efforts of women, yet they had their own challenges and hardships.

One book I discovered, Women in Wartime: New Zealand Women Tell Their Story edited by Lauris Edmond, reports many personal accounts of women during both the first and second world wars. This quote from the book, from the story “A Memory from Poukawa”, is a fine example of the struggles of a mother during the First World War.

Mother, although barely fifty years old, was a grey-haired, worn out old lady striving to manage on our meagre income… with a large house to care for and numerous farm chores to attend to, because farm labourers were not to be found, she must have, with her indifferent health, worked to the limit of her endurance.

And from “Post Office, Tokomaru Bay”:

…women were doing men’s work on the farms. others were driving the buggies and wagonettes to meet the passengers off the steamers… The women handled great baskets of mail… sewed for the hospital ships and packed parcels for prisoners-of-war.

Cover of The Other AnzacsThe Other Anzacs: Nurses at War, 1914-1918 by Peter Rees is a must read also.

Over 600 nurses served in the New Zealand Army Nurses and many  others for the Red Cross. Many received medals and awards.

The book has many extraordinary  stories and tells of sacrifices, dedication, and sadness.  However, I felt it also uplifting in the description of how the nurses comforted injured soldiers, who they describe as “their boys”. This book is a thoughtful read and is available in hard copy as well as well as an eBook.

Have you read any books about women’s role in wartime?

Early New Zealand Women Writers. Some of their work described as racy and corrupting!

Check out some of our pioneer women writers. Some wrote very controversial books; many were published overseas and became hugely popular.

The Butcher Shop by Jean Devanny 
Cover of The Butcher ShopSet on a King Country Station, Jean Devanny’s  The Butcher Shop is about adultery and murder. It was described as disgusting, polemic and ahead of its time. It was banned on publication in New Zealand and in many other countries due to the violence, open sexuality and feminism portrayed within its pages.

The Story of a New Zealand River by Jane Mander
Jane Mander’s The Story of a New Zealand River is set in Northland and describes the issues faced when a local sawmill boss marries a cultured, piano-playing Englishwoman, who brings with her to the bush her children from a previous marriage. It has been suggested that this novel provided inspiration for elements in Jane Campion’s film The Piano.

Isabel Maude Peacocke 
Cover of The Story of a New Zealand RiverIsabel Maude Peacocke wrote children’s books and light romances set in Auckland. Although not well known in New Zealand, she had a large readership in England, where her work was published.

Nelle (Ellen) M. Scanlan
Nelle Scanlan wrote four family-sagas set in New Zealand. The novels in the ‘Pencarrow’ series (Pencarrow, Tides of Youth, Winds of Heaven, and Kelly Pencarrow) published between 1932 and 1939, portrayed early New Zealand as a prosperous thriving country. They were very popular and considered to have created an interest for New Zealand fiction in that era. Nelle also published many novels in England before writing the ‘Pencarrow’ sagas. She was the most popular New Zealand novelist of her generation.

New Zealand Holiday by Rosemary Rees
Rosemary Rees could be described as the pioneer ‘chick lit’ writer! She wrote racy romance novels, some of which were set on back blocks farms in the North Island. Her 84 novels became so popular that some were serialised in papers in America and Britain.

Breakfast At Six by Mary Scott
Mary Scott made international success with the writing of her rural domestic comedies which began with the publication of her ‘Barbara’ newspaper sketches in 1936. One of her most popular novels was Breakfast at Six about newlyweds and their life on a back-blocks farm and the problems and pleasures faced by a rural community in New Zealand. It was followed by the sequel Dinner Doesn’t Matter.

Ngaio Marsh
If you haven’t already, do try a Ngaio Marsh mystery. Described as one of the Queens of Crime Fiction of the 1920s and 1930s, she is probably best known for her wonderful detective novels featuring Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn; four of these (Vintage Murder, Died in the Wool, Colour Scheme and Photo-Finish) are set in New Zealand. You might also enjoy reading our blog posts about Ngaio Marsh.

Cover of Vintage Murder Cover of Died in the Wool  Cover of Colour Scheme Cover of Photo-finish

Please note that some of these books are only available at our Store. There is no public access to this collection, but you can place holds on most Store titles for borrowing. Reference only items held at Store can be sent to Central Library Manchester for viewing – please ask a librarian to arrange this for you.