Thursday, 31 December 2009

Book review: The girl who kicked the hornet's nest

The girl who kicked the hornet's nest by Stieg Larsson
This is the final book in the Millennium trilogy series and is perfect for the long weekend - if you can get a copy. All of the strands of the story finally come together. It's cleverly written with enough twists and turns and subplots to keep your attention. It might seem like a strange choice for the festive season but the ultimately the changes in Lisbeth's life promise a hopeful future. A very satisfying read.

Summary: Lisbeth Salander will have her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that nearly succeeded in deliberately destroying her life... After sustaining appalling gunshot wounds to her head and her shoulder, she is in Intensive Care, and her most dangerous enemy is in the next-door ward. If she survives, she is set to face murder charges. Officially under police guard, she is allowed contact with only her surgeon or her lawyer. But Mikael Blomkvist, editor at Millennium magazine and Salander's self-appointed guardian angel, will not give up on this strangely compelling girl... With the covert aid of Blomkvist and his journalists at Millennium, Salander must first prove her innocence. Only then can she unmask the people behind the corrupt and secret manoeuvers that ruined her childhood and remain the rotten core of Swedish society.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Summer Sounds

There are heaps of summer concerts and sounds around in Rodney this festive season.

Sun Fest 2009 is the alcohol free New Years Eve party at Parakai

Music Mountain is just one of the New Year's Eve events in North Rodney

Eventfinder has listings for events in Matakana, Orewa, Huapai or throughout Auckland if you want to leave Rodney

Or you could just check out the music at your local Rodney Libraries and relax at home. To find all the music we have (and there are plenty of new ones) look at our Catalogue here. There is something for everyone, from inspirational and classical, to country, pop and rock. Whether you want party music or something in the background, have a look at our selection.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The NZ tui project

Become a citizen scientist for the summer and join in the NZ Tui Project.

"Some rumours have been raised about the behaviour of tui, which has prompted Matt Halstead, Fabiana Kubke and John Montgomery from the University of Auckland to determine whether these rumours are, in fact, correct." There are fairly detailed instructions to follow (has to be near a man-made structure; date/time of sighting etc) but it's nothing too difficult. It would be a great project for the kids. Send them outside with hats and sunscreen and a notebook for a couple of hours.

If you're not sure what a tui looks like check out some of the photos on Flickr. They mostly look black from a distance and often the only way to distinguish them from a blackbird is the white tuft under their throat. If you're lucky enough to get close to one you'll discover that they're actually blue-green under all that black.

The Department of Conservation has some more information about the tui (and other birds.) This tour company (Kiwi Wildlife tours) has a gallery of bird sounds so you can hear what they sound like.

Once all the data is in the scientists will reveal all and let us know whether the rumours are true. Anyone got any speculations as to what they're looking for?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

All we want for Christmas

Dear Santa,

We (rodneylibraries - Kris and kowhai reader - Anne) have been very good this year.

We have posted something on the Blog every day (almost- but sometimes we post twice a day so we think that all evens out). We have tried to let readers know about all the new books and some of the older ones that they might have missed. We have let you know what is happening in the library and in Rodney at large, from School Holiday Programmes to Santa Parades. And we've even posted the odd photo to show you what we have been up to. We've celebrated achievers and told you about all the things you can use and do at Rodney Libraries.

So you can see we have been very good and were wondering when you visited us this year you could leave some reading under our trees. All we want for Christmas is:


rodneylibraries (Kris)

1. A second helping : more from Ladies, a plate by Alexa Johnston. Classic baking recipes that have been tested extensively - yes please!

2. True blood. The complete first season (R18) Based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. I tried to watch it on TV, really I did, but the ads just annoyed me.

3. Catching fire by Suzanne Collins. The sequel to "The Hunger Games" a fabulous teen fiction story about a competition where children/teens compete to the death in a televised contest in order to win prizes for their district. Is a little bit gruesome in places but has excellent characters with complicated relationships which make up the real story.


Kowhai Reader (Anne)

1. The Word Witch: Poems by Margaret Mahy, edited by Tessa Duder. There are old poems and new ones. Poems that are part of books and rhymes that became books. It's a book for old and young with both comedy and poignant verse. I'd love to have my own copy.

2. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I loved her first novel The Historian and I see that this one is due out early in the new year, but if you could leave an advance copy under the tree so I can preview it for Rodney readers that would be great.

3. The Winner's Bible by Dr Kerry Spackman. Because I need all the help I can get.



Thank you very much Santa. Have a good night and fly safely.

Kris and Anne

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Summer hours at the libraries

Rodney Libraries close at 5pm on Thursday 24 December. The Libraries throughout the District will be closed Friday 25 - Monday 28 December and Friday 1 - Monday 4 January over the Christmas and New Year period.
From Tuesday 29 - Thursday 31 December the libraries will operate with normal hours but will close at 5pm.

Wellsford, Mahurangi East, Orewa, Helensville and Whangaparaoa libraries will open from 9.30am - 5pm. Warkworth and Kumeu libraries will be open from 9am - 5pm.
Normal opening hours resume on Tuesday 5 January.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Rodney Kids into Summer Reading

The Rodney Libraries two summer reading programmes, Dive into Books and Library Monopoly, are both proving really popular with children this summer. Some libraries are full with people on waiting lists.

A reminder that the second checkins at your local library should be done before Christmas (unless you have contacted us to make other arrangements). So only a couple of days left to do this. We know it is a busy time of the year, so give us a call if you want to keep your place.

With the first check-ins for Library Monopoly, we are starting to receive our first reviews. Here are a couple that we have received at Warkworth.

Summer thought Nancy Drew - Sleepover Sleuths was awesome and gave it five stars. Summer says it is an "exciting, fantastic, fun mystery book about friendship, helping people, sleepovers and owning up to friends".

Miles called Zac Power - Volcanic Panic "energizing" which I thought was a stunning word to use in a book review. His favourite bit was when Zac saw a glowing rock outside his classroom window and he went to look at it. The rock cracked open to reveal a mission disc. The disc told him details of his next mission. Miles likes how the story was set out, particularly the ending and fave it four stars.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Santa News from Auckland Readers & Writer's Festival

The latest Auckland Readers & Writers Festival newsletter is out announcing lots of fantastic guests for the May event. And tickets don't go on sale until April so there is plenty of time for your budget to recover from the festive season. However, if you want to buy a subscription as a gift there is still just enough time for Santa to get it under the tree.

Here's an excerpt from the bulletin announcing the lineup to date:

The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival is proud to announce that the following international guests will appear at the 2010 festival:
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love. The sequel, Committed, is a meditation on the history, culture, politics, trials and tribulations of marriage.
John Carey is a distinguished critic, reviewer, broadcaster, Man Booker judge, and biographer of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Golding.
Rick Gekoski, bestselling author of Tolkien’s Gown, takes us on a literary journey in his bibliomemoir Outside of a Dog.
The prolific and much-loved Thomas Keneally’s most recent novel is The People’s Train. He has just published the first in a three-volume history of the Australian people, Australians: Origins to Eureka.
In Seven Days in the Art World sociologist Sarah Thornton looks at all aspects of buying, selling, and creating serious art.
Jill Dawson’s sixth novel, The Great Lover, is a fictional life of Rupert Brooke.
Yiyun Li’s A Thousand Years of Good Prayers was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and won the Guardian First Book Award. Her new novel, The Vagrants, is based on the true story of a young woman sentenced to death in 1979 China for her loss of faith in Communism.
Su Tong won the 2009 Man Asia Literary Prize for The Boat to Redemption. A major figure in China’s literary scene, his best-known work is Wives and Concubines, which was made into the film Raise the Red Lantern.
Independent journalist and blogger Antony Loewenstein writes about the internet in The Blogging Revolution and the Israel/Palestine conflict in his bestselling My Israel Question.
Ben Naparstek, the 23-year-old editor of Australia’s influential magazine, The Monthly, recently published In Conversation, a collection of interviews with 39 of the world’s best writers.
John Freeman, the new editor of Granta, explores the history of communication in Shrinking the World: The 4,000-year story of how email came to rule our lives.
Adrian Wooldridge, management editor of The Economist, joins us to talk about his latest book (co-authored with John Micklethwait, The Economist’s editor-in-chief), God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World.
More guests, including New Zealand writers, will be announced in February 2010. Final programme details will be released in March and tickets go on sale through The Edge Ticketing Service in April.

Christmas storytimes this week

Christmas storytime sessions on this week...

Monday 21 December Kumeu Library 10.30am
Tuesday 22 December Mahurangi East Library 10.30am
Wednesday 23 December Wellsford Library 10.30am
Wednesday 23 December Helensville Library 3pm

Sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are being encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes for the sessions.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Anne's Top 5 for the year

Kris (rodneylibraries) beat me to print on this but I couldn't leave the week, with my list unpublished so I have forced myself to make the choices and here they are. They are not necessarily new books, just new to me. Books I have read during the year that made an impact, left me satisfied, and that I could and even would, read again.

The blue notebook : a novel / James A. Levine. I heard about this one from Vince Ford (NZ young adult author) who mentioned it at a conference I was at. It is probably the book that made the most impact on me this year. I called it "beautiful but brutal" in my blog review earlier this year and parts of it were very hard to read. The story of a child prostitute in India doesn't pull any punches, but the escape she finds in her imagination is inspiring.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I wasn't that taken with Coraline earlier this year, although I loved Stardust which I read last year. However this one is right up there and is probably what inspired me to suggest Kris and I do these lists when I said it was one of my books of the year.

Two Cats and a Dog come in next, although that is probably cheating a little because they are actually three books. The cats are Dewey : the small-town library-cat who touched the world / Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter. and A cat called Norton : the true story of an extraordinary cat and his imperfect human / Peter Gethers. If a book can make you cry on a train travelling through the National Park, then it has to be good (that was Dewey) and if one kitten can turn a cat hater into a feline fan, then all the better for Norton. Enzo is the mutt of this trio and the story of his family is told from his point of view in an intriguing but ultimately satisfying way in The art of racing in the rain : a novel / Garth Stein.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. Sometimes I read the latest craze and sometimes I hold out just... because. However I am glad I eventually joined the queue and read this delightful book. It was wonderfully charming, offsetting the angst and blood of the vampire craze that was happening at the same time. And if you liked that then you will probably also like The school of essential ingredients / Erica Bauermeister. which I read later in the year and was on my Top 5 short list.

No time for goodbye / Linwood Barclay. For the first time this year, I delved more into the crime and thriller genre. This was one of the best. A 14 year old girl wakes one morning to find that her entire family has disappeared. 25 years later she is no closer to the truth - but it is just around the corner if she wants to find it.


Honourable Mentions should go to The host : a novel / Stephenie Meyer. (which in some ways I rate above Twilight as being a more adult book), The magician's elephant / Kate DiCamillo ; illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. (magical children's fiction), An echo in the bone : a novel / Diana Gabaldon. (got me back into the Outlander series and wanting to know what happens next) and The tomorrow code / Brian Falkner. (quite a novelty reading a young adult fiction book and being able to recognise the places as the action travels through Rodney)
In my defence of having actually mentioned 12 books in this list - rather than my top 5 - I must let you know that being a Libran, any decision is difficult. And I am just doing you the service of giving you plenty of ideas for holiday reading.
Ka kite

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas movies

After the midday feast sometimes it's nice to sloth out on the couch with a couple of Christmas themed DVDs to watch. The library has many different DVDs - from TV specials (a LOT of TV specials) to various versions of "A Christmas Carol". Here's a small selection.

The Mr. Bean collection. Vols. 1, 2, 3 (G)
Merry Christmas Mr. Bean

The Billy T James show. Vol. 2 (PG)
It's Christmas time in the James' household and naturally Billy has decided to take control of the festivities. As the rain dampens and delays Billy's plan for a real traditional "Kiwi Christmas", he amuses everyone as they wait for dinner to cook, by recounting the stories of Christmas past.

Christmas Eve, 1851, and Cybermen stalk the snow of Victorian London. When the Doctor (David Tennant) arrives and starts to investigate a spate of mysterious deaths, he’s surprised to meet another Doctor (David Morrissey) - and soon, the two must combine forces to defeat the ruthless Miss Hartigan. But are two Doctors enough to stop the rise of the CyberKing?2008 Christmas special.


The office : the Christmas specials (M)
Three years after the cameras stopped rolling, the BBC returns to Wernham Hogg to catch up with the staff, past and present, of the most famous paper merchants in Slough.


A Christmas carol - the versions (Story: A miser learns the true meaning of Christmas when three ghostly visitors review his past and foretell his future.)

An all dogs Christmas carol (G)
Bah, humduck! : a Looney Tunes Christmas (G)
Blackadder's: A Christmas carol (PG)
A Christmas carol (Broadcast BBC Television in 1977 )(G)
A Christmas Carol (Broadcast BBC Television in 1977. (PG)
The Muppet Christmas carol (G)



And I couldn't resist - my favourite title...

Olive, the other reindeer (G)
Olive is really a kind-hearted dog who sets out to save Christmas when she hears that Blitzen is injured and Santa can't find a replacement.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tis the season to read Christmas

We've done the Christmas crafts and cooking, so the next step on our Christmas book journey is Christmas stories. And when you consider that authors such as Anne Perry, David Baldacci, Patricia Scanlan, Fern Michaels, John Grisham, Maeve Binchy, Mary Higgins Clark and Cecilia Ahern (to name just a few) have all either dabbled or dived into the Christmas fiction genre, then I think there might be something for everyone. And that's even if you are feeling "Bah Humbug!"

To kick things off, the classic A Christmas Carol is available in many different versions in the library, from the original Charles Dickens through to children's abridged, illustrated or graphic novel versions.

Our Romance sections have a variety of seasonal fare. For Mills & Boon fans click on this Christmas romance link to see the titles that we have and which library they are in. Still plenty of time to order them to your local library for the holidays.

If you like a touch of crime in your fiction try Anne Perry's Christmas series which is described as "a perfect combination of mystery and murder mixed with yuletide cheer." Likewise Mary Higgins Clark sends her Regan Reilly character on a whole host of season crime chases as well as penning one-off Christmas tales.

If you are already over Christmas, maybe The Worst Noel collection is the book for you. With stories such as "The Bite before Christmas" and "That's just about enough figgy pudding actually" this sounds like it may have a bit of the scrooge and a reasonable dollop of humour about it.

There's plenty of inspiration and poignancy about many of the books if you are looking for something with a Christmas message in it. I recently read Zanna's Gift: A Life in Christmases by Orson Scott Card writing as Scott Richards. It was "a touching tale of love, loss and the true meaning of Christmas" and the story of a gift which wasn't large or expensive, but had the power to inspire love and tradition in a family through the generations. Although not strictly a Christmas book, one I finished last night has a similar message of magic, faith and hope. The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo is a children's book, but don't let that stop you picking it up as there it is well worth reading, telling the story of an orphan, an elephant and the diverse group of people who come together to make "the extraordinary come true".

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Book to screen

I think I have seen more movies in the last six months, than I have in the last six years. It's something that I always meant to do (because I love going out to the theatres), but just never seemed to get around to. However lately I have been making time.

The latest two "books to movies" that I have seen are Under the Mountain (by Maurice Gee, a book which I have read) and The Time Traveller's Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger, which I have not read).

After seeing some trailers and hearing all about the behind the scenes of Under the Mountain I was expecting big things when I went to see it last week. Maybe just a little too much as, although I really enjoyed it, somehow I wanted to like it more. The imaging and special effects were wonderful and acting generally superb, especially Oliver Driver as Mr Wilberforce who was astonishingly menacing. The adaptation (it does differ from the book) had the author's approval and was still recognisable, following the same basic plotline. It was a good night out at the movies and will always be a classic Kiwi tale.

If you go to see The Time Traveller's Wife be prepared for the action to jump around a little and be on your toes for when the past warps into the present and, once or twice, the future comes crashing into play. Eric Bana plays a Librarian (although Lisa and I did wonder how he managed to keep his job with all his time travelling - obviously no time sheets to fill out) who time travels at sometimes quite inappropriate moments. However, he still manages to find romance and happiness, although his wife has to put up with his regular absences. The tale is at times happy, sad and poignant. Lisa (who has read the book) said that it runs with the story. We both thought it was well worth the night out, and I am interested to read the book now that I have seen the movie (which is not always the case).

Last night The Lovely Bones premiered in New Zealand and so that, along with Where the Wild Things are (both of which I have read) are next on the viewing list.

Christmas storytimes this week

Christmas storytime sessions start this week.

Thursday 17 December Whangaparaoa Library 6.30pm
Friday 18 December Orewa Library 4pm
Friday 18 December Warkworth Library 6pm

They involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are being encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes for the sessions.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Kris's top five titles of the year

About this time of the year I start thinking "What are my top five books of the year?" (and then "What have I read this year?")* After a bit of hard work and reconstruction I've come up with my top five. Here they are in no particular order...

The moving and insightful story from the commander of an infantry platoon assigned to Ramadi. Campbell writes convincingly about the boredom, excitement, fear and pride in everyday life in combat.
If you like this one then I also recommend "One bullet away : the making of a Marine officer / Nathaniel Fick.
On top of everything / Sarah-Kate Lynch.
Ms Lynch is one of my favourite authors. I love the stories and characters that she breathes life into. I also like the fact that food that plays an important role in all her books. Her latest title "On top of everything" is about a woman coping with the horrible things that are happening in her life. It's also about tea, truffles and the importance of shared food experiences. It made me cry. Her previous books have covered cheese, champagne, bread, pasta and love, always love.


Chaos walking series by Patrick Ness
Okay, so this might be bending the rules slightly to count a series as one but it's just so good that I can't leave it out. It's categorised as Teenage Fiction (with non-descript covers) but don't let that put you off. It's bold and clever. It's about a boy called Todd who is about to become a man which sounds dreadfully corny and does not do the book justice at all. Just read it.


Quantum theory cannot hurt you : a guide to the universe / Marcus Chown.The book is about modern physics, specifically quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity. I like popular science books. Although this one alleges it can be "read in a morning" I must confess that I had to keep putting it down to mull over the ideas within it. Unlike most of the books that I have to put down though, this one kept me coming back. One of the few science books I've read where I actually feel as if I have a good grasp of the contents after I'd finished reading it. Recommended.

The household guide to dying : a novel / by Debra Adelaide.

The book is narrated by Delia. She is a mum, a wife, the author of several 'how-to' books celebrating the 'household arts'... and she is dying. The story charts her coming to terms with her past and planning the future for her children. She writes lists planning her daughters' far-off weddings. She writes her column. She plans a raid on the neighbours garden. She encourages her husband to think about a new partner after she is dead. (That doesn't go so well.) A wonderful story about a difficult topic. Warm, funny, ultimately uplifting.

*also known as - kowhaireader "suggests" that I should do a Top five titles post

Friday, 11 December 2009

New Books New Books

As I said on Twitter this morning, we are all unpacking lots of boxes of new books to get them onto the shelves for you for Christmas reading. This is by no means a comprehensive list, there is no organisation and they are not reviewed. These are just some of the titles as they came out of the boxes.

The New Zealand Plant Doctor - Andrew Maloy. Great Q & A format.
Textbook Romance: a step-by-step guide to getting the guy - Zoe Foster with occasionally useful comments by Hamish Blake.
A Mess of Iguanas, A Whoop of Gorillas... An Amazement of Animal Facts - Alon Shulman.
The New Vampires Handbook: A guide to creatures of the night - Miles Proctor
The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, money, betrayal and the founding of Facebook - Ben Mezrich
I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, decorations and recipes that use less and mean more - Anna Getty.
Wyse Words: A Dictionary for the Bewildered - Pascale Wyse
In a Word: The essential tool for finding the perfect word - Mark Broatch
Evolution: The Story of Life - Douglas Palmer & Peter Barrett (A impressive looking Natural History Museum publication)
Seasons - Donna Hay (the best from the magazine)

Plus several new titles in the 501 Must Do, Must Go, Must See... etc series. Look for:
501 Must-Be-There Events
501 Must Drive Cars
501 Must Take Journeys
501 Must See Movies
501 Must Read Books
and especially for the holiday season 501 Must-Drink Cocktails

And that's just a small taste. I'll find some fiction and children's titles for you next week. Have an awesome weekend everyone.

The Gift of Giving

Every person or family has that one (or two) "hard to buy for" person. The type that either has everything or that you just can't figure out what to get them. And trudging around even an air-conditioned mall, let alone a hot street, now that summer finally appears to have arrived, is something that gets the blood pressure and stress levels right up in the red zone.

So here's an idea. Go to one of the numerous charity websites and make a donation or purchase something useful for someone in need on their behalf. I first stumbled on these websites when a group of us purchased a couple of chickens for an African Village as an anniversary gift for a colleague (it's a long story, but it was an appropriate gift). Then last Christmas, I received a gift of giving myself, some books for a poor school in South America. It was fantastic, so I filed the idea away for future reference, and here we are. In the leadup to Christmas and wondering what to buy. So here are a few ideas.

Oxfam: 0800 600 700 or http://www.oxfamunwrapped.org.nz/. This is probably one of the more well-known sites (probably best to stick to the reputable organisations if you want to be sure your gifts, both of them, get to where you want them to). Gifts start from $5 for packets of seeds and include goats ($47), safe water, training and baby buffalo.

Unicef: 0800 243 575 or http://www.inspiredgifts.org.nz/. $31 will immunise 100 children against polio or help their imaginations fly with storybooks from $33. Options from Unicef go from little to large ($4,485 to purchase a motorbike which will be used to deliver healthcare to remote areas).

World Vision: 0800 245 000 or http://www.giftsofhope.org.nz/. LIke many of the organisations you can choose between helping agriculture, health, education or emergency funds with your donation.

TEAR Fund: 0800 800 777 or http://www.giftforlife.co.nz/. Like Oxfam gifts start at $5. I think I might spend $10 on Live and Learn for my Secret Santa with a difference.

Fred Hollows Foundation: 0800 227 229 or http://www.giveamiracle.org.nz/. Getting closer to home, $25 will give back the gift of sight to someone.

Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind: 0800 366 283 or http://www.rnzfb.org.nz/. If you want to keep your dollars in New Zealand, what better way that to look at one of our local charities. I'm a little biased about this one, as we have regular visits from a family of guide dog breeders and puppy walkers. One of our library labs has just graduated and is off to his new owner for his first Christmas as a working dog - Good luck Leica. It costs just $20 a month to sponsor a puppy. At just less that $5 a week, maybe it is something that the whole family can do together.

Happy shopping everyone.

Image credit Kris Litman.




Thursday, 10 December 2009

War in Cyberspace

I am not even going to pretend that I understood and followed all the technical cyber jargon in Brian Falkner's latest young adult novel Brainjack. But that didn't stop me turning the pages as I tried to unravel the mysterious world of teenage hackers, cybercrime and espionage. In fact, the author puts a proviso in the back of the book that this is not a manual for hackers with many of the techniques being deliberately fictionalised.

The story is set in the near future and follows Sam, a young computer genius who excels at hacking into places where he shouldn't be, like America's telecommunication giant and the White House. When he is finally rumbled, he finds he is even deeper in a very dangerous world. What starts off as a luxury world doing something he loves, turns into life on the run in a nucleur fall out area (the hole in the ground formerly known as Las Vegas).

This is a fast paced and exciting novel which will have plenty of appeal (we tested it on the tennage son of one of our librarians and it got the thumbs up from him). Definitely a recommended read.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Fun with cooking

Christmas is all about food at my house. We usually go for the traditional recipes but every so often someone will break out with a new version of a much loved classic. (For example - did you know there are a heap of trifle recipes out there? And they're all delicious!) Here's a list of some of the lastest books from Kiwi cooks.

The New Zealand seafood cookbook / Auckland Seafood School ; food photography Sean Shadbolt.
The New Zealand Seafood Cookbook is not just a compilation of inviting recipes, it is also a comprehensive seafood reference and a celebration of New Zealand's fishing industry.
The Kiwi beer lover's cookbook / recipes by Sam Cook.
Beer is not only New Zealand's favourite drink -it's the secret ingredianet used by many successful chefs to enhance their food. The "Kiwi Beer Lover's Cookbook" reveals an array of heart-warming recipes made with thirst-quenching brews. Many of New Zealand's classic dishes are given new life with the help of beer. Chef and beer enthusiast Sam Cook shares this collection of recipes in which beer takes centre stage.

Peter Gordon : a culinary journey is the result of more than 25 years' cooking experience and travel throughout the world exploring different cuisines, foods, tastes and cooking ideas. In this magnificently photographed book, Peter Gordon presents 80 delicious recipes which epitomise fusion cooking. Fusion is a culinary method that integrates various regional flavours and cooking techniques in order to create innovative new tastes.

Shop local, eat well : cooking with seasonal produce in New Zealand / Kathryn Hawkins and Laura Faire.
It has become perfectly normal in New Zealand to eat strawberries in June, or to mix a salad from ingredients grown thousands of kilometres apart. However ... what we gain in variety we often lose in quality and flavour - not to mention the harm we do to the environment in the process. In this book, the authors explain how easy it is to eat according to nature's calendar ... inspiring you to get the best out of locally sourced produce while doing your bit to save the planet.

In response to the enthusiastic reception for her bestselling cookbook Ladies, a plate, Alexa Johnston has gathered together another tempting selection of traditional recipes for the home baker. Like its predecessor, A second helping celebrates the accumulated wisdom of past generations of skilled home cooks in a beautiful book which will bring continuing pleasure - and an assurance of baking triumphs - to your kitchen.

Dine in / Adam Newell
Michelin-star chef Adam Newell presents a range of accessible, round-the-clock recipes perfectly suited to sharing with family and friends. Ideal food for every occasion ... also contains ideas and hints for improving your culinary repertoire and for ensuring every meal is a resounding success ... Many of the recipes ... are favourite menu items from Adam's popular restaurant Zibibbo in Wellington.

Packed with fail-safe recipes that are tried, tested and trusted, quick to prepare, healthy, simple and tasty. Sections include brunch, lunch box treats, snacks, drinks, dinner, dessert, parties and celebrations, and fundraising.

Kai ora : fresh, healthy food made with aroha / Anne Thorp
Anne Thorp is the sparkling host of the popular Kai Ora cooking show on Māori Television and The Living Channel. Cooking fresh ingredients simply to deliver maximum zest, zing and health is her focus. Anne's recipes also incorporate indigenous ingredients that give her food a truly New Zealand flavour. They're cooked with tons of aroha and served with flair.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

“Rattle his bones
Over the stones
It’s only a pauper
Who nobody owns”

Sally put this on my desk last week and recommended it with the words “It is good” (somehow these words on the page don’t quite reflect the reverent tone this was spoken in). Fellow author Diana Wynne Jones (Howls Moving Castle) described it as “The best book Neil Gaiman has ever written” which is high praise indeed for an award winning and very popular writer of graphic novels, children’s and adults fiction.

Nobody Owens is a living human toddler, who just happens to have been adopted by the residents of the local graveyard, who just happen to be… dead. The ghosts don’t know his name so they call him Nobody, Bod for short. Bod grows up in the graveyard which has plenty of dangers (the sleer, the ghouls) but many friends (although sometimes it is hard to decide at the beginning of the chapter whether the ghosts/people that Bod meets are friend or foe (I will leave it to you to discover which category Liza the witch or Miss Lupescu fit into). Overseeing everything is Bod’s guardian, the mysterious Silas. Outside the gates of the graveyard has it’s own perils as the man with knife who dispatched Bod’s first family (the human one) is still searching for him to finish the job.

This is a fantastically entertaining book which sits on our Teen fiction shelves, but could equally be satisfying for adults and children. It would make a great read-aloud for families or classrooms. One of my best reads of the year.

If you won't take my word for it and want to read other reviews, a summary and an excerpt click on this link from Syndetics which is part of our catalogue.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Speedy recovery

Rodney Libraries are wishing historian and author Dame Judith Binney a speedy recovery after she was struck by a truck in Auckland on Friday night. Today's report from the hospital is that she has improved but that her condition remains serious. Here is a link through to a news item on Stuff.co.nz.

Dame Judith has written multiple books on New Zealand History, predominantly focussing on Maori communities and individuals. The NZ Book Council profile on her lists titles and achievements to date, including being the recipient of the Montana Book Award in 1996. Just last week she released her latest book Encircled Lands (subtitled Te Urewera, 1820-1921) which is about the Ngai Tuhoe. A full list of Dame Judith's books which can be found in Rodney Libraries is on this link.

Santa Parade at Helensville

Helensville had their Santa Parade on Saturday. The Council put in a float that was themed around the "Wriggle and Rhyme: Active Movement for Early Learning" programme that the libraries run. This is an Auckland region initiative sponsored by SPARC and supported by the sports organisations around the region. The weekly sessions are targeted at babies – 2 years olds, but older pre school children are also welcome to attend.
We weren't sure what the weather was going to be like so chose to go with a minimalist float. We had a bunch of people walking alongside the vehicle miming to songs and handing out feathers and balloons. It was great!
The best thing about Santa Parades is the number of community organisations who get involved. Have a look at our small Flickr photo set to see pictures of some of them.

Also - a huge thank you to the Coastguard who jumpstarted the car after the battery went flat!

Friday, 4 December 2009

National Jandal Day

It's National Jandal Day today to support NZ Surf Life Saving. "Surf Life Saving is the leading water safety organisation in New Zealand. We have been providing Surf Lifesaving services to New Zealand communities for nearly 100 years. But providing beach patrols each summer is just part of what we do" relates the NZLS website. Find out more by visiting them and to help keep our beaches safe donate to any of the official collectors you see on the streets today.

To read up more on Surf Life Saving there are several resources in our catalogue. Sand beneath my Toes is the history of surf life saving in New Zealand. Of course the best thing we can all do is teach our children (and ourselves) how to swim. And of course the library can help with hints on that as well - although you really do have to get out there and do it.

Crafty Christmas

As we are now in the first week of December, I finally feel comfortable blogging about Christmas things. It still shocks me at how early Christmas decorations go up in some shops. The long long (long) build up detracts from the excitement of the actual occasion a little for me. And although it was nice hitting the shops last weekend with my mum and sister-in-law, by the end of the day I was starting to get over it.

For those that don't want to do the consumer thing for Christmas this year, there are plenty of ideas at the library to help both the novice and expert craftsperson. Here are a few ideas. Just click on the blue links to take you through to our catalogue for inspiration.
For homemade Christmas decorations and crafts, there are still a wide range of books on our shelves.
There are Christmas decoration books for kids as well (which is probably more my level of expertise).
As well as ornaments, wreaths and decorations for the home (house and garden), there are also gift ideas for those that want to create something with a personal touch. There's still time to do this sort of thing for Christmas, especially as it's looking like a wet weekend.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Read to Succeed Winners

Practice assemblies for end of term prizegivings are great fun. You get to practice singing the National Anthem (several times until you have done it to the satisfaction of the teachers at the front). You practice standing up and sitting down (without talking and fidgetting). The lucky ones practice receiving certificates and the audience practice applauding.

I know all this because I was up at Mahurangi College today surprising the winners of Rodney Libraries Teen Reading Challenge "Read to Succeed" at lunchtime. Read to Succeed was aimed at Year 9 to 13 students and rolled out through the libraries and schools to encourage them to read (which they have to do anyway to gain NCEA credits). We had really positive feedback from the schools so I was looking forward to this part of the job. Luckily for the Year 9 students, there was only half an hour to work through all of the above, so they didn't have to listen to me talking for very long.

And the winners are (drum roll please):

First Place - Franca Bauer - Year 9 at Mahurangi College
Second Place - Jessica Searle - also Year 9 at Mahurangi College
Third Place - Justine Waterson - Year 11 at Kaipara College

Thank you to Dick Smith Electronics at Warkworth for helping with the iPODs and MP3 players that were the prizes and to the Rodney District Council Youth Strategy Team who came on board to help us with this Challenge. Big congratulations to the winners. Well done too to everyone who entered the competition and even to those who grabbed a book and an entry form meaning to enter. If it got you reading even one book that you wouldn't have otherwise done, that makes us happy.

The Challenge will be back next year so watch out for the launch during Youth Week 2010.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Ghosts Ghouls and scary things

I know that Halloween has been and gone, but I am in the middle of reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book at present so ghouls are top of mind again. I am loving it but as I am not finished there won't be a review... yet.

However on the subject of ghosts, I picked up a children's fiction book Haunted by local author Lorraine Orman in the weekend. It's part of the Lightning Strikes series of easy to read chapter books which are heaps of fun with lots of topical subjects that will appeal to the new independent reader.

Haunted follows a traditional storyline with a pair of city kids being sent on holiday to the country. They have all the usual worries about no computers or cellphone coverage. Georgia discovers an abandoned house which is being used as a hay barn. It seems a perfect place to escape the bullying boys and she meets Lily who wants to be her friend. However there is something very strange about Lily, which leads to trouble for Georgia and her brother Ned. This was a very satisfying story and one I will be recommending to readers taking part in our Summer Reading Programme.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Christmas Storytimes

It's officially December so we can tell you about our Christmas storytimes!

Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are being encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes for the sessions.

Thursday 17 December
Whangaparaoa Library 6.30pm

Friday 18 December
Orewa Library 4pm
Warkworth Library 6pm

Monday 21 December
Kumeu Library 10.30am

Tuesday 22 December
Mahurangi East Library 10.30am

Wednesday 23 December
Wellsford Library 10.30am

Helensville Library 3pm

Outlander Part VII

I closed the pages on An Echo in the Bone on Saturday afternoon with a resounding sense of... well it has to be said satisfaction. Not that I would be giving anything away to those that are still awaiting their copies to arrive from the Library or under the Christmas Tree by saying that nothing is neatly tied up as it was at the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes. But more on that later.

Claire and Jamie are so well known to their fans, that it is hard to write a review as I feel many out there know them better than me, and without giving too much away. But here goes my best attempt.

Diana Gabaldon said when we went to see her in North Shore earlier this year, that this novel has four parts to it, as symbolised by the emblem on the front of the book. Claire and Jamie return and we follow their journey (along with Ian) from the Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina back to Scotland (although as you would expect with these two, they are interrupted from taking the direct route there). I was thrilled that we also get to follow Brianna and Roger in the twentieth century, battling their demons from the past and trying to put down roots for themselves and their children. The third viewpoint is told from that of Lord John whose world of intrigue is reintroduced to the storyline and the fourth is a fully grown figure of his stepson William, now a Lieutenant in the British Forces in the colony. Those who have followed the series since Cross Stitch will know William's background and what it might mean to where the author will lead us.

There are some new characters to meet along the way (such as Denny and Rachel Hunter) as well as some old (Jenny Fraser Murray). With the addition of some cameos from famous figures from the American War of Independence recognised even in New Zealand (Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Franklin) and the tangled lives they lead courtesy of Diana Gabaldon and it all makes for sometimes complex but enjoyable reading.

An Echo in the Bone starts off at a slow and deliberate pace, carefully setting the scene. At times I found the density of the detail and slow pace infuriating, something I occasionally found in the past with some of the middle volumes of the series. However, this book picked up speed as we moved away from Fraser's Ridge and into some of the intial battles of the War of Independence. By the end (page 814), I was incredibly out of breath as the plot had galloped through last 100 pages. So much was happening as each of the storylines sped towards the other.

As I said at the outset, don't expect to come to the end and find all the answers. This is a cliffhanger of the best variety. I can only hope that Diana Gabaldon finishes her promotional tour soon, manages to rest up over the Christmas break and sits down to put pen to paper early in the New year. I read A Breath of Snow and Ashes because I wanted to know how she wrapped things up but now I simply want more. The sooner, the better as far as I am concerned as I desperately want to know what happens next.