Thursday, 29 November 2012
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
|Scott Harrison from Charity: Water is bottom left|
Photographs by Paul Mobley ; text by Katrina Fried
I'm a huge fan of Charity: Water so I picked up this book just to have a quick look at how Scott Harrison started a non-profit that has provided clean drinking water for over 2.7 million people in developing countries. His story is completely fascinating to me so I decided to get this book out and read the whole thing.
The people in this book are completely amazing. The subtitle pretty much tells you what this book is about but it's incredible to read about how everyday people can make a difference. A big difference.
Everyday Heroes features stories of people selflessly working to improve the lives of others their stories are a necessary reminder that everyone can and should contribute to bettering the world.
We can't do everything, but we can do something.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
At this time of year, it's nice not to have to think too much about what you're reading. Your mind should just drift peacefully on a soothing, gentle sea of words as it washes you along. There are two kinds of book that do this:
1) Action novels.
You know the ones I mean. The ones where everything follows a certain pattern: bad guys, good guys, no doubting who's who, and the good guy always - always wins. There's a girl somewhere too, so the hero can prove how hot he is in every way. Stand up, Clive Cussler and Lee Child.
Don't need to spell this one out. Some can be erotic, some can be screwball (whoops, no pun intended), and some can be "sweet" like a Nicholas Sparks. Whatever you're into, you know pretty much exactly what you're getting. Like a Griffins sampler.
So here is a list of new and forthcoming books that might just put the sauce on your chips this summer.
Fifty Bales of Hay - Rachael Treasure
Friends and Rivals - Tilly Bagshawe
Dirty Little Secret - Jon Stock
Described as one for fans of Jason Bourne and James Bond. Salim Dhar, the world's most wanted terrorist, has disappeared after an audacious attack on an American target in the UK. The CIA believes Daniel Marchant, renegade MI6 officer, was involved. But Marchant has a bigger secret: Dhar has agreed to work for MI6. In return, Marchant must help him with a final strike against America. Should Britain sign up to this Faustian pact or hunt them both down? Fast and furious with the inevitable romance thrown in.
Threat Vector - Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney
Jack Ryan has only just moved back into the Oval Office when he is faced with a new international threat. An aborted coup in China has left President Wei Zhen Lin with no choice but to agree with the expansionist policies of General Su Ke Qiang. They have declared the South China Sea a protectorate and are planning an invasion of Taiwan. A new breed of powerful Chinese anti-ship missile endangers the US Navy's plans to protect the island. Meanwhile, Chinese cyberwarfare experts have launched a devastating attack on America. Jack Ryan, Jr. and his colleagues at the Campus may be just the wild card that his father needs to stack the deck. There's just one problem: someone knows about the off-the-books intelligence agency and threatens to blow their cover sky high.
It Happened in Venice - Molly Hopkins
For fans of sweet and funny romances. Evie has a handsome fiance and a fantastic job that takes her to fashionable Dublin, in-vogue Marrakech, cool Amsterdam and romantic Paris. But her fiance hates her job and her flatmate hates her fiance. And when an unexpected event strikes the epicentre of her happiness, Evie is driven to gin and tonic. If she doesn't sort herself out, her liver and her bank manager will hate her. So when she's offered a luxury trip to the sensual city of Venice, with its shifting silver canals and rose and vanilla hued architecture, Evie jumps at the chance. Four days in the city of light and love is exactly what she needs. The sumptuous Grand Hotel, the gondolas, the wine, the Italian men...But within hours of Evie's arrival, her life is poised to change for ever...
Newton's Fire - Will Adams
The Husband List - Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly
The Hunters - Chris Kuzneski
A team of renegades - an ex-military leader, a historian, a computer whiz, a weapons expert and a thief - financed by a billionaire philanthropist are tasked with finding a vast treasure lost nearly a century ago. Fearing a German victory in World War I, the Romanians signed a deal with the Russians to safeguard their national treasures. In 1916 two trains full of gold and the most precious objects of the Romanian state - paintings, jewellery from the Royal family, ancient Dacien artifacts - were sent to the underground vaults in the Kremlin, only to be lost after the Russian Revolution. With a haul valued at over $3.5 billion, everyone wants to claim the vast treasure, but its location has remained a mystery - until now.
Ultimatum - Simon Kernick
Bianca - Bertrice Small
Florentine silk merchant Giovanni Pietro d'Angelo and his wife want nothing more than to marry their daughters to wealthy men of distinction. But when their son's dangerous indiscretion implicates him in a tragic accident, it is their eldest daughter who must pay the price. Blackmailed by the powerful and debauched Sebastiano Rovere, the Pietro d'Angelos must give beautiful Bianca in marriage to Rovere to buy his silence. It is the shocking murder of her husband that allows her to find the possibility of love at last. But Florentine society would never approve of the man she's chosen: Prince Amir, grandson of Memhet the Conqueror. Two passionate lovers...two different cultures...two worlds determined to keep them apart.
Do enjoy, won't you?
Monday, 26 November 2012
A life at Mudbrick : stories and recipes from Waiheke's famous Mudbrick Vineyard and restaurant by Robyn Jones. Over 20 years ago, Robyn & Nick Jones planted a small vineyard on Waiheke Island. This book details their journey and shares award-winning recipes from Mudbrick.
Thursday, 22 November 2012
And surprisingly I mean that quite literally.
Now I've never been much of a horror fan. All that blood and guts and gore just freaks me out and not in a good way. And yes I know it's kind of weird considering how much I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS), The Vampire Diaries (VD...mmm unfortunate acronym) and Supernatural.
Then again none of these shows have much to do with horror and instead are all about great characters, great story lines and great music. The blood letting is in fact quite minimal, which is just the way I like it. Gore has never been my thing and I've mostly kept away from anything stomach churning. I know, it's very wussy of me and wuss that I am I've avoided watching The Walking Dead.
Until recently that is.
It's a love/hate relationship at best.
I, of course, would probably be first on the menu. The life of a wuss never ends well.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
'If you've ever wondered why the pencil came into existence, or how a steam engine works, or when we started using flushing toilets, this book has all the answers. Based on seven key areas of invention, it tells the stories behind steam power, lighting, toilets, clocks, communication, bikes and flight, and how they are relevant to our world today.'
You know how pop-up books and books with tabs you can pull are more exciting than 'normal' books? Well this has the most exciting pully-tabs of any book I've even seen! It's completely interactive while still being educational. For example: I learned that a Pendulum was more than just a drum and bass group.
It's hard to describe how awesome this book is without looking at it so I recommend you get it out ASAP!
Monday, 19 November 2012
Free Range Cook TV series.
Her latest cookbook, Simple pleasures : the free range cook, features several recipes that I want to try out at upcoming summer BBQs, including Corn & Israeli Couscous Salad. If you're a fan of Pinterest, visit Annabel's page for ideas & photos to inspire you. You can also check out her website for more food ideas as well.
And with a tip of the hat to Nigella (since Whittakers have featured her in their recent TV promotions), I'm going to recommend Whittaker's passion for chocolate as the go-to present for all the chocoholics in your life. They will love you for it.
Friday, 16 November 2012
- James Thurber
Title: Why dogs are better than cats
Author: Bradley Trevor Greive (photographs by Rachael Hale)
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Pub.
I'm not a cat person. Nor a dog person. Or, in truth, a child-friendly person. This isn't to say that I'm UNfriendly to any of the above. I just don't have strong feelings about them either way. I can take or leave animals and/or kids. Weirdly, this makes them like me more. It's like they can sense my feelings - or lack of them - and want to squish me that much harder (children I meet for the first time), jump on me that much more (dogs and cats I meet for the first time), and find ways to sneak into my room and put their mark all over my things. (Yes, Mr2, I'm talking about YOU). So do I truly believe dogs are better than cats? Irrelevant! The point is, this book's author does :) And here are 5 reasons (from the many) for why Monsieur Greive believes that dogs have oh so much more awesomeness than cats.
Are you a dog person? Or a cat person? OR a child person?
Dogs have helped us explore our world and our universe
The heroic actions of dogs are the stuff of legend. Can you even imagine a cat saving you from drowning? How about dragging you out of a burning building? Or digging you free from an icy avalanche? I don't think so. Cats don't rescue anybody - they just get rescued. And they never ever say, "Thank you." (pages 168-171)
Dogs are social, cats are sociopaths
The reason dogs surpass all other species is quite simple: They get people - they really do. It's been this way since dogs and humans first bumped into one another and thought, "Hey, this could work!" (page 61)
There is a dog for everybody
Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and most important, dispositions - from gentle giants to little dogs with big personalities. This canine cornucopia means that the perfect dog is out there to complement every single human being's personality and lifestyle. Regardless of where you live, no matter how noble your endeavours, or how twisted and shameful your secret quirks, there is a dog that is just right for you. I guarantee it. (page 29)
Thursday, 15 November 2012
I blame it all on the madness of NaNoWriMo which is currently making my brain so fried that the only thing I am capable of (other than writing) is listening to music.
Youtube is also partially to blame. A click here, a click there and suddenly I'm busy checking out songs and artists that I have never heard of, all courtesy of the side bar which leds you to similar songs and artists etc. It's seriously addictive stuff. And also a big time waster (i.e. procrastination...).
Sadly for me a lot of the songs I like aren't known and easily available on CD here which is such a pity as there is some really great music out there in Youtube land.
Still some of my favourite's are available and I've been giving them abit of thrashing in the last few months along with the classic rock featured last week and others.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
NZ Rugby Kitchen : celebrating the love of food, family and rugby
by the New Zealand Rugby Foundation.
Take several All blacks, add over 150 recipes, combine with a charitable foundation. Mix well.
Featuring recipes from the likes of Richie McCaw, Piri Weepu, Dan Carter, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Colin Meads, Andy Leslie and Graham Henry this book is sure to please a whole bunch of Kiwis.
All the girls in the office have just agreed that an All Black cooking is extremely attractive so you should get this book out even if it's just to look at the pictures.
I should probably point out the food looks really good too.
Good food, great All Blacks and it's for charity. I smell a best seller.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
I'll put my hand up here - I used to be a believer. And in recent years, I've come to feel I've been conned. I once wrote two crime novels featuring a medium as detective. Now, I'm not even sure they exist.
Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium, by self-confessed fraudster (and renowned psychic) Mark Edward, hasn't helped matters.
In an unusual take on the psychic autobiography, Mark Edward doesn't set out to convince his followers that supernatural powers are real and available to all. He freely acknowledges that he doesn't know anyone who's genuine, out of his vast range of contacts in the spiritual industries - including himself. Instead, he exposes the tricks and tactics used by tarot readers, mediums and psychics alike. Edward himself started out as an illusionist, branching out into psychic predictions when he saw it made more money. People are far more impressed when the trick is about them, than when you saw yet another screaming beauty in half. They know magic isn't real - but they're not sure about The Other Side.
Edward talks of those who are convinced they have real abilities, simply because they begin to believe their own stories. It's hard, he says, to withstand the constant adulation of your public, simply because your techniques happen to strike a chord with them. If you're good enough at psychology, and research, it's not hard to predict something eerily close to the truth. There's a fantastic story in here, of an Englishman of Mark's acquaintance, who once challenged a psychic who gave a reading for his wife, and told the psychic he could do an equally good job. The man was so successful he became a well-known medium himself - and doesn't believe in the other side at all.
This is bound to upset some of you. Disagreements over faith always will. And I admit, some of Edward's confessions are a bit hard to take. He talks about making up stories for gullible people, mocking them by performing readings using bananas, then announces he is not unscrupulous, as he will not keep people coming back for months, merely to milk them dry. He is a man with "integrity". Hmmm.
If you're considering visiting a medium, or want to know more about how things are done, however, Psychic Blues is well worth a read. The book is certainly amusing, especially when it discusses the foibles of the kooks and dollars-can't-buy-me-sense Californians who regularly cross his path. Edward's recommendation is to treat psychics as mere entertainment - if you go in without expecting to learn anything about your future, but to receive a bit of flattery and validation, that's the best course.
That needn't stop you pursuing an interest in the other side. There are a lot of shysters out there - but maybe, just perhaps, you have to rub a lot of crystal balls to find the diamond...
How about you? Are you a believer?
If you're interested in this book, I also recommend:
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre
Haunting Violet - Alyxandra Harvey (a bit of fun)
Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism - Barbara Weisberg
We Hear the Dead - Dianne K. Salerni
The First Psychic - Peter Lamont
Monday, 12 November 2012
Peter Gordon : everyday
I've long been a fan of Peter Gordon's food, so I was very happy to read through this one and be inspired several times over. The recipe for Banana and Coconut Fritters with Passionfruit Sauce is definitely on my list of recipes to try out this summer.
My favourite section of the books has to be Tea Trolley & Desserts. I'll be trying out Chocolate Ganache and Membrillo Tart with PX Cream (though I probably won't make my own sweet short-crust pastry) and Strawberry & Ginger-Beer Jellies.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
Who hasn't heard of Smoke on the Water.
Considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time and a song that pretty much every wanna-be guitarist learns, this classic rock song is familiar to many, even those that aren't rock fans, which is pretty amazing for a song that never even got into the top 20 let alone the top 10 on the Billboard charts.
Monday, 5 November 2012
I've recently discovered that there is a whole urban sketching movement. While it is sometimes about travellers sketching memories from their wanderings, more often than not, it's people wanting to visually capture a snapshot of the urban surroundings where they live & work & play.
What a cool idea. It appeals to my childhood memories of sitting down for a quick sketch, scratching my pencil across the page, collecting a one-off memory of a person, place or event.
Gabriel Campanario showcases different artists and different locations from around the world, to demonstrate the subtle & unique beauty of sketched art in The art of urban sketching : drawing on location around the world. It's made me want to dig out some of my old sketchbooks and perhaps even start a new one.
What would you capture in an urban sketch of Auckland?