New Zealand Book Week & the Rugby World Cup!

It’s New Zealand Book Week and the final of the Rugby World Cup. How will we cope? What will we read? I’ve got it covered, so just relax and enjoy the ride.

Leading up to the game.

Cover of On top of everythingCover of No second chanceCover of CollisionCover of The demolition of the century

Followed by.

Cover of Running towards dangerCover of Heart of obsidianCover of Sacrifice

Opening play.

Cover of Final retributionCover of SoonCover of TrifectaCover of Trust no one

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Cover of Cross fingersCover of FalloutCover of The PredictionsCover of The journey

Half time sustenance.

Cover of Chocolate for breakfastCover of Blood wine and chocolateCover of Recipe for lifeCover of A sandwich short of a picnic

And, of course, the back-up plan.

Cover of A jold to the heart

How will you make it through the week?

Go, the All Blacks!

<3 Christchurch Photo Hunt

I love the Christchurch Photo Hunt. And this month it’s happening once again. I can’t wait to see all the new photos go up on Kete Christchurch.

Past Photo Hunts have given us hundreds of images of families and friends celebrating everyday events and activities from around the Canterbury district. They are incredibly touching to browse. The annual Photo Hunt, going since 2008, is slowly building a fascinating photographic archive for us all to share.

One of my favourites from the 2014 Photo Hunt on Kete Christchurch is a shout out to the fifities. It’s all about the dresses, the shoes, the hair.

Railway office staff 1958
Railway office staff 1958 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

My favourite postcard from the 2013 Photo Hunt. Postcards and old cityscapes, just lurvely.

Golden thoughts [postcard]
Golden thoughts (Kete Site Admin) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
And a favourite picnic spot from the 2012 Photo Hunt.

Camping at Coes Ford
Camping at Coes Ford (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

We can all support the Photo Hunt by sharing our photos. The theme for this year is Arrivals and Departures – The Journeys That Have Shaped Us, with two categories of People and Places.

It’s easy to share a photo/s this year. Pick up an entry form from Christchurch City Libraries or download it from the library website. Fill in the relevant information and drop the photo and form back to the library or submit the information using the online form. Entries need to be in before 5pm 31 October and all entrants go in the draw to win a tablet or E-Reader.

The photos are scanned by librarians and the originals are returned to owners. The digital copies are uploaded to Kete Christchurch for us all to browse and enjoy. These and past images are also accessible from DigitalNZ, an extremely useful website for researching family history.

Waiting for Fish and Chips, Scarborough
Waiting for Fish and Chips, Scarborough, Flickr HW10-Ce-124

A few years ago I submitted a family photo and am so pleased I did. My sister-in-law took it as the cousins were enjoying a “day out” in 1990. The children had spent the afternoon at Sumner beach and finished off the day swimming in Scarborough pool. They had been having fun, as cousins are prone to do, and the photo captured their excitement as they waited for fish and chips at the end of the day.

The cousins are now grown and have young children of their own. I can’t wait to share this unforgettable moment in time with our new family members.

Let’s share our photos with the Christchurch Photo Hunt and help preserve the heritage of Canterbury for everyone.

Choo, choo, choose the BIG Model Train Show

It’s all go in Christchurch this weekend. There are Fun Palaces, Plant Parades and sing-a-longs happening in the centre of the city over the weekend and the activities look exciting. But make time to chug along to Pioneer Stadium where you will be in for a real treat.

The annual Christchurch Model Train Show brings together some of the best model railways in the South Island and has an expected 30 layouts.

If you are interested in New Zealand railways in miniature then check out the One Track Minds module and be amazed by their detailed handiwork.

Our Model Railway resources

Cover of Creating realistic landscapes for model railwaysCover of Airbrushing for railway modellersCover of Planning, designing and making railway layouts in small spacesCover of Layout design

Remembering a wonderfully wacky Word Witch

Margaret Mahy 1936-2012

Three years ago today Margaret Mahy our favourite award winning author, writer, librarian, mother and grandmother died.

Take time to remember.

Read MM picture books – here’s a few to get started with …

Down the back of the chairBoom, Baby Boom BoomDashing DogBubble TroubleA Lion in the MeadowLeaf Magic

Young Adult reads

The changeoverKaitangata Twitch24 HoursThe Tricksters

Get to know MM

Margaret MahyMarvellous CodeNotes of a Bag LadyMy Mysterious World

Do what Margaret enjoyed – read, walk around the garden and have a sleep (apparently she could do this quite easily). Don’t walk down Cambridge Terrace though, or at least make sure your trousers stay up when you do.

Have a MM lunch – a salad sandwich made with wholemeal bread and cheese and tomato and lettuce and spring onions, and avocado and hard-boiled egg and anything else handy.

I’m going to remember Margaret by driving over the winding hill to Governors Bay and then wandering along the wiggly track at the bottom of the road. I won’t be alone. I’m taking a dashing dog, a bubble trouble baby, a gaggle of geese, a couple of mixed-up pirates, a librarian, a three legged cat, a boy with two shadows, a tin can band, a dragon, a lion and of course a witch.

Our procession will be one of nonstop nonsense, full of mischief and mayhem. A magical way to remember Margaret Mahy.


Don’t forget your family, yeah

Don’t forget your roots, my friend
The ones who made you
The ones who brought you here
Don’t forget your roots, my friend, yeah

family historySix60 have a great song about family and provides the inspiration for a set of courses being held at Christchurch City Libraries during August. We are running two Family History programmes and you can choose the one that suits you. It’s all about discovering our family stories.

Getting Started: Beginners Guide to Family History

Start your family history research with this six week course that will introduce some key resources available at Christchurch City Libraries and beyond. Key life events such as births, deaths and marriages will be researched, along with sources covering migration, military and electoral information. We will be looking at online and paper-based resources.

Basic computer knowledge is needed.

Where: South Learning Centre & Central Library Manchester
When: Tuesdays, 4 August to 8 September (6 weeks)
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Cost: $15

Family History Images from Kete Christchurch

Family History Starter Series

A four week course that will introduce online resources to find information on:

  • Key life events – births, deaths and marriages
  • Living in New Zealand
  • Arriving in New Zealand
  • Where to next?

Bring along as much as you know about your family and we will help you fill in some gaps. We have tips and tricks to help you uncover your story and get you on your way.

Basic computer knowledge is needed.

Where: Linwood Library
Dates: Wednesdays 19 Aug, 26 Aug, 2 Sept, 9 Sept (4 weeks)
Time: 6.00pm – 7.30pm
Cost: $10.00
Bookings: Ring 941-7923 to book your place at either course.

If you are keen to know more check out our family history guide.

A rollickin’ good yarn

Cover of The Fair FightAfter reading two bleak stories I needed a complete change. For this reason I chose an historical first novel by Anna Freeman titled The Fair Fight. It turned out to be a rollickin’ good yarn from beginning to end.

When I read historical fiction I want to be transported to another time and place. I want true characters that I can commit to and stories I can believe in. I want real voices and language that evokes the period of the time. I was lucky as Anna Freeman skilfully and naturally blends these elements to create a story that comes alive.

From the first pages I was immersed in 18th century Bristol where pugilists, brothels, brawling and gambling rule the day. I enjoyed discovering and absorbing new/old words like “mollies”, “pugs”, “cullies”, and “swells”.

Three of the main characters, Ruth, Charlotte and George, are the storytellers with each voice adding suspense and vibrancy to the drama. This is a well realised and oftentimes brutal tale.

elizabeth stokesBy the end I wanted to know more about women and boxing during these times so turned to the 17th – 18th Century Burney Collection of Historical Newspapers available from the library.

I found an advertisement from Oct 1st, 1726, about a Mary Welch and Elizabeth Stokes. They talk up their fighting skills to excite readers and announce they will “mount at Four” and “fight in cloth Jackets, short Petticoats coming just below the Knee, Holland Drawers, white Stockings, and Pumps”. Cor blimey!

A fascinating account that all started with historical fiction.

Dark reads for darker nights

The scene was set. It was a dark wintry night, the curtains were pulled tight against the cold, the fire was burning bright, and my cup of tea was hot and steamy. Ahhh, I can relax into some dark reads for these closed in nights. I like a good bit of bleakness in winter.

Cover of The Cellar by Minette WaltersMy first read was a new book The Cellar by Minette Walters. I have read previous psychological thrillers by her and like the questions that come when reading this genre. Are psychopaths born or created? Who is the perpetrator? Who is the victim? Is it nature vs nurture or both?

The Cellar is an interesting fast paced read. The main character Muna is the victim as well as the perpetrator of violence in this story. She has been “adopted” by the Songoli family yet has never been outside the house, her bedroom is a dark windowless cellar, and she cannot read write or speak English. The story begins when the youngest son goes missing after school and the police are called the next day. Why the delay? What happened? This is a dark and suspenseful read.

 Cover of Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire FullerMy next read was Our Endless Numbered Days, a first novel by Claire Fuller. The book reminded me of a fairy tale with powerful themes and intense characters. This was the story of family drama with the tension held between the reality of life and the fantasy of a return to nature.

Peggy is the victim as she is abducted, as a young child, by her obsessive survivalist father. He takes her “die Hutte” and tells her they are now the only two people left in the world. The story, told in flashback by Peggy, held me as a reader as I wanted to discover how she returned home and what happened to her along the way. An impressive story from a first time writer.

Two bleak and dark reads for these even darker nights.

The sacrifice

Cover of The sacrifice




These words stayed with me as I read The Sacrifice. This is a sharp and pointy book. It caught my attention. I was curious from the beginning as the first words sent shivers down my spine.

Seen my girl? My baby? 

She came like a procession of voices though she was but a singular voice. She came along Camden Avenue in the Red Rock neighborhood of inner-city Pascayne, twelve tight compressed blocks between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Passaic River. In the sinister shadow of the high looming Pitcairn Memorial Bridge she came. Like an Old Testament mother she came seeking her lost child.

Who is the sacrifice in this story and what is being sacrificed? Is it Ednetta Frye the despairing mother seeking justice for her “young for her age, and trustin” daughter? Is it Sybilla Frye, the daughter, beaten and left to die in the derelict cellar of a disused building? Or Ignes Iglesias, the Hispanic (not black enough) woman cop sent to interview Sybilla at the hospital? Can it be Jerold Zahn, the young white police officer who is accused of raping Sybilla? Or Anis Schutt, the stepfather, who has a violent and dangerous past? What about the influential Mudrick brothers who stir up racial hatred after the attack? What are the consequences of their actions?

Joyce Carol Oates sets her narrative in the fictional town of Pascayne where skin colour, poverty, crime, and violence creates victims. This is a story full of powerful and convincing voices. The multiple perspectives establish empathy and sorrow for the characters and challenge perceptions along the way. Racial tension exudes from every page creating an edgy and evocative read.

Even though The Sacrifice is a work of fiction it is based on fact. I chose not to read about the actual case leaving this sharp point for later. I’m glad I did. The story became a national sensation and divided a country. This book will divide readers.

All The Bright Places

If you like…

Cover of Looking For Alaska
Looking For Alaska
The Fault In Our Stars
The Fault In Our Stars
Cover of Side Effects May Vary
Side Effects May Vary








then you will want to read…

Cover of All the Bright Places
All the Bright Places

Meet Theodore Finch and Violet Markey in this poignant story about life, death, wanderings, and Post-It notes.

The story begins with Finch talking Violet down from the ledge of the school’s bell tower where she is frozen with fear. The year before Violet lost her sister and best friend in a car crash on an icy road. She has been overcome with the grief and lost her way in the world.  By lunchtime everyone thinks Violet talked Finch off the ledge as he is the one who talks about death, is on probation at school, and is known as the school freak.

For a school project they team up to discover the natural wonders of their local area and so begin the “wanderings”. As Violet gets to know Finch her world finally begins to grow again. Whilst Finch feels alive in Violet’s company his own world seems to be diminishing, his mind full of racing and dark thoughts.

This is unique storytelling as it deals with suicide and depression in a sensitive and open way. The book is full of hidden gems which lighten and create humorous moments along the way. Both characters love to read and there are many book references which bring a smile. Finch plays the guitar, loves music, and Split Enz is referenced as a favourite band. The Post-It notes are clever and witty and add another layer to understanding. The wanderings draw Finch and Violet closer and can make for a teary read at times. A small annoyance is the plot centres exclusively round the two main characters with friends and family less developed than expected.

The best thing about All the Bright Places is that the story connects with the heart and lingers there. It’s an insightful book. Near the end Finch sends a heartfelt message to Violet which captures the essence of this read.

You are all the colours in one, at full brightness

P. S. In case you have to wait for All the Bright Places, why not try one of the books suggested in our If You Like… The Fault in Our Stars list?


Two page-turners

Cover of SalvageRecently I collected two books from my holds, looked at them, and wondered why I had reserved them. I took another look, the covers and blurbs piqued my interest. Luckily for me I took that second look.

The cover of Salvage has a young man with the word hope tattooed on the back of his neck turned away from the world. Quite a confronting cover I thought, and this was the hook that got me reading. Salvage is the story of broken apart families told through the eyes of Cass and Aidan, a sister and brother who were separated from each other when Cass is four. Cass is adopted by a loving middle class family whilst Aidan contends with children’s homes and foster care. Two very different lives and the brother and sister lose contact with each other. Salvage begins with Cass, now a teenager, dealing with a family crisis and she begins to think about her memories of Aidan. She wants to know him again, find out what happened in his life as she has many unanswered questions. Aidan has always wondered about Cass and now may be the right time to get in contact. When is the right time? I found this story a gritty, engaging, and at times, emotional read.

Cover of We were liarsI was drawn to the cover of We were liars by the large fuzzy font extending over a background of hazy figures swimming in a bright sea. Who are the liars and what did they do? At the top John Green describes this book as “utterly unforgettable”. Mmm, a pretty good recommendation, maybe a bit over the top? I read the first few pages where I was introduced to the perfect Sinclair family and their perfect summery island life. I was not convinced. I kept thinking, so what is this story about and what is really going on here?. The questions remained during the entire reading and these were the hooks that held me to the end. I was definitely surprised and certainly not disappointed by this clever plot which is full of twists and turns throughout. I don’t want to give anymore away. We were liars lived up to the hype.

Two real page-turners.