Thursday, 28 February 2013

This Month I'm Loving...

well any month that isn't February.

I hate February.

And yes I know it's kind of silly to hate a month. But I do.

There's just something about February that is off-putting.  Whether it's the heat, the fact that the holidays and relaxed mood of Christmas is finally over or strange vibes in the air.  There is something about February that is unsettling.

Strangely enough I've discovered that I not the only one to feel this way.  Which is nice  - it's always great to find someone who shares in your insanity, whether it's rational or not.

Luckily for me I've discovered heaps of new things to help ease the unsettled blues as well as getting reacquainted with some old friends.

So how is the month that shall not be named, treating you?

The Lumineers

Music as always is one of the best way's to shake those unsettled blues away and The Lumineers are one of my favourite new discoveries.

These guys (and girl) are amazing.  A folkie-indie-pop band I could easily listen to them all day... oh right I pretty much do.  Their music is catchy and bouncy and just a pure delight.

I can hardly wait for them to do another CD.

My favourites are Ho Hey, Stubborn Love, Flowers in Your Hair and Submarines.

My one and only thrill / Melody Gardot.

At 18 a car ploughed into her while she was out cycling.  What helped in her in during the years of recovery was music.  From her hospital bed she began writing songs.

And this, along with her other 2 albums, are the results.

Featuring nearly all original material she is a jazz-blues singer along the likes of Diana Krall and I have just fallen in love with the song Who Will Comfort Me.  It's just a great foot-tapping jazz song that is sure to make you smile.

Punk goes pop. Volume 4 

Now I'm not a huge punk fan.  But as they say there's punk and then there's punk.

I love the Clash and The Cure and The Pretenders.  Bands who had punk roots in their music but who also sang across other genres.

Now of course there's a wide range of punk styles and bands who fit into other genres.  It seems that punk has become popular - who knew.

This CD features an array of punk artists doing they own unique take on some popular songs.  My absolute favourite is Tonight Alive's version of Little Lion Man which I think is almost better than the original by Mumford and Sons.

Golden age [compact disc] / [by James Goss].

I have a new addiction. 

Yes I know I have a lot of addictions (Supernatural, fanfiction, books, chocolate...)

But audio books or more exactly audio dramas have completely hooked me.  Or at least the TV show based ones have.

I blame it all on Big Finish.  Nearly all their audio's feature a full cast plus sound effects and they are AMAZING!

The Stargate ones were the first and from there I just had to have more and so onto Torchwood and Blake's 7 it was.  The Blakes 7 The Dust Run and The Trial had Benedict Cumberbatch (how could I go wrong) and the Torchwood ones... well let's just say the one of the stories in  Torchwood: the lost files made me cry.

Now I just holding out for some more Stargate ones to be made and maybe some with David Tennant as Doctor Who (cross fingers).  Until then I've got the BBC's Neverwhere with James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and co to look forward to.

PS: If you've got any recommendations let me know.

Zoo : the graphic novel / James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge

I've read the odd comic in the past.

Buffy Season 8, Angel Season 6.  That kind of thing.  But I've never gone out of my comfort zone of comics based on TV shows.

That is until I picked up this one.

James Patterson was part of the appeal.

I've always enjoyed his books (at least his earlier ones) so thought it might be alright and the story held even more appeal.  Dystopian, animals gone wild, man fighting for survival.

Yep definitely my kind of thing.  And books with pictures... well how can you go wrong.  I mean really pictures make things a lot easier


Inside HBO's Game of thrones / Bryan Cogman

Game of Thrones.

If you haven't heard of it you don't know what you're missing.

This show has it all.

Betrayal, treachery, blood-letting, sex, violence and families who give a whole new meaning to family squabbles.

It seems like we (the fans) have been waiting for forever for (too many for's) season 3 to start let alone the next book in the series.

Beautifully illustrated, this book might just help with some of the impatience and fill the void in with your Game of Thrones addiction.

Roll on the 31st March.

The Guild 

I love Felicia Day.

She's funny and quirky and hugely talented and probably one of the biggest and well known geeks around.

From her writing and starring in her online web series The Guild, to guest starring on Supernatural, to staring up her own YouTube TV channel (Geeks & Sundry - check it out); she is a one of the biggest online personalities around.

Think a female Wil Wheaton (who also appears on Geeks & Sundry) with a bit more sass and red hair and you've probably get a glimmer of who Felicia Day is.

Go the Red-Heads!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Jennifer Lawrence, will you be my best friend?


I've been spending a lot of time lately watching Jennifer Lawrence's interviews on Youtube and I've decided I would quite like her to be my best friend. Aside from the fact that she's hilarious she's also incredibly talented. 2 Oscar nominations and 1 win for best actress isn't bad for 22 (but it does kind of make me feel like I'm failing at life). Check out some of her movies here:

Winter's Bone
Seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly sets out to track down her father who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails to find him, she and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods. Challenging her outlaw kin's code of silence and risking her life, Ree hacks through the lies, evasions, and threats offered up by her relatives and begins to piece together the truth.

The Hunger Games 
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in The Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life

X-Men First Class
Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their superhuman powers for the first time, working together in a desperate attempt to stop the Hellfire Club and a global nuclear war.

House at the end of the Street
Newly divorced Sarah and her teenage daughter Elissa have just moved to the suburbs for a fresh start. Bu their hopes quickly shatter as they learn that, years earlier, a grisly murder took place next door when a deranged girl killed her parents and disappeared. The girl's older brother Ryan still occupies the house, and when he befriends Elissa, his secretive past could become her worst nightmare.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The invisible library for invisible people

There's a library in this city you must hope never to see, though it has to be the country's most exclusive. Literally. Even its patrons aren't allowed to visit.

Before you cleverly guess it's a digital library, it's not. It's a concrete location. Concrete, and rather a lot of steel.

The 650-plus inmates at Auckland Prison - or Paremoremo to most - have never seen where their books come from. Never experienced the pleasure of wandering through rows and rows of little worlds, in all shades of the rainbow. And fifty shades of grey, of course. Indeed, they don't even have Fifty Shades of Grey - although they have asked.

A few weeks ago, I was led through a grim maze of locked doors to the wee storerooms that house the Paremoremo collection. There, Barbara, the friendly librarian, showed me the shelves of books, mostly donations from individuals and public libraries, that are the inmates' best chance of escape. It was sobering. The weekly reading is wheeled around on a trolley by the library staff for inmates to pick from, and what they see is what they get.

The stereotype of the prisoner is someone with poor reading ability, which is mostly true. However, the Paremoremo library has become a hugely popular lifeline for those stuck inside, helping them learn psychology, get a driver's licence and re-discover the joy of reading. There's no internet in jail, and as everyone knows, TV isn't always the most satisfying, either. That leaves print. Everything from car magazines to Lee Child novels and cookbooks - yes - goes out like the clappers. Recipes and love poems are hotly-demanded fillers in letters home, to show loved ones their partner is thinking of them.

In fact, one of the most popular programmes run for prisoners last year was Storybook Dads. Inmates were able to record themselves reading bedtime stories aloud on DVDs, which were sent to their children for Christmas. At the women's prison in Wiri, Auckland Libraries staff hold Wriggle and Rhyme sessions for female inmates with babies, so they can enjoy some quality learning time with their little ones.

Although the Department of Corrections is starting to build up collections, especially with useful items like road codes and study guides, donations are still needed to keep collections fresh. Some of you might say they're lucky to be given anything at all - but consider, there's a new Government directive that re-offending be reduced by a quarter within four years. It seems obvious that raising literacy and education levels would be a huge help in this. And getting prisoners into books, of course, is key. Reading opens minds - but for these people, it can quite literally open doors.

If you would like to donate any books to local prisons, please contact:
Barbara Austin barbara.austin@corrections.govt.nz

Monday, 25 February 2013

They'll Never Win An Oscar But Do We Really Care...

I thought about doing an Oscar's post (hence the title) but then wondered do we really care about the Oscars?

It's always interesting to find out who wins and take a peek at the fashions the stars are wearing but at the end of the day how many of us remember which movie won an Oscar and which didn't? And does any of it really affect our viewing habits and the movies that we love.

So instead I've decided to dedicate this post to the movies that don't get much (if any recognition).  The movies that are our guilty pleasures that cheer us up when we're down or that we enjoy just for the hell of it.

These are the movies we love.  That we wallow in when we're bored or sad or just wanting to veg out in front of the TV.

Some of these movies are so bad that their actually good.  There are also movies that were good all along but  rarely acknowledged and then there are the movies that we just love and we don't care if others think we're mad for liking them.

So what are your favourite movies to wallow in?

Pretty in Pink

"She's a high school girl from the wrong side of town. He's the wealthy heartthrob who asks her to the prom. But as fast as their romance builds, it's threatened by the painful reality of peer pressure."

I make no apologies for this movie or the one below being on this list.  

80's movies aimed at teens were the best.  Featuring great music, romance, and rebellion - these are perfect movies to put you in a feel good frame of mind and take you back to your teenage years.

Also check out: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, Say Anything.
Footloose

"A city-boy moves to a small Midwestern town where the local officials have banned dancing and rock 'n roll music."

Ahhh Kevin Bacon.

Better known now as the husband of Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) and the star of new show The Following, he was back in the 80's a fresh face young guy who knew how to dance.

Forget the remake, this is the only Footloose movie you need to see.

Also check out: Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, Fame

Withnail and I 

"Two down-and-out British actors leave their city life for a disastrous vacation in the country with an eccentric uncle."

I saw Paul McGann at a convention a few years ago and he was brilliant.

Funny and interesting and filled with great stories and yes he talked about Withnail and I, a movie he still gets people asking about and begging for him to quote lines from.

Also check out: Trainspotting, Quarophenia, Human Traffic, Rushmore, Ghost World.
 
Starship Troopers

"Courageous soldiers travel to the distant and desolate Klendathu system for the ultimate showdown between the species."

You've gotta love a movie that is this bad and luckily for the movie itself there are people out there who do.

It has bad acting, a bunch of pretty boys and girls who try to act all badass, aliens from outer space and plenty of blood and gore. It is also wonderfully funny, something I an sure wasn't the intention in the first place but which has earned it it's cult following.

Also check out any of the following (the acting is heaps better): Any of the Alien franchise,  Predator (1 & 2), Tremors.

The Lost Boys

"When two brothers move to the sleepy town of Santa Carla one of them begins to undergo a change..."

Before their was Twilight or Vampire Diaries or even Buffy there was The Lost Boys. Vampires who were ruthless killers with a touch of pretty boy thrown in for good measure. 

Also check out: Near Dark, Fright Night (the original 1985 version), John Carpenters Vampires, From Dusk to Dawn.

Miller's Crossing

"During prohibition two gangland bosses struggle for control over a city, with one of the boss's lieutenants caught in the middle."
  
This one of those great movie's that didn't  get the recognition it deserved when it was first released but luckily is now seen as one of the best crime movies ever made.

Also check out: Any of the Coen brothers other movies (Fargo, Blood Simple, No Country For Old Men, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski),  GoodFellas, Once Upon A Time In America.

Dazed and confused

"The adventures of incoming high school and junior high students on the last day of school, in May of 1976."

Stoners, skaters, jocks and geeks this movie features them all as well as an awesome 70's classic rock soundtrack.  It's worth watching this movie just for the soundtrack alone.

Also check out: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Empire Records, American Graffiti

The Princess bride 
 
"The adventures of Buttercup, the most beautiful woman in the world, and Westley, the man she loves, in the fairytale kingdom of Florin."

Probably one of my all time favourite movies.  I ADORE Princess Bride. The writing, the acting, the story are all just beautiful.

This is how a fairytale should be told.

Also check out: The Neverending Story, Labyrinth,

And some more cult favourites you may want to check out: Planet of the Apes (1968 version), Beetlejuice, Cherry 2000, Go, The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Reservoir Dogs, Highlander, The Fifth Element, Conan the Barbarian (1982 version), Red Sonja.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Who should've won Best New Artist at the 2013 Grammys.

I know this is an unpopular opinion but Fun are an incredibly over rated band, it really irritates me. It's completely lost on me why they won the Grammy for Best New Artist last week. Alabama Shakes and the Lumineers are pretty good and certainly earned their nominations; but there were two artists nominated for Best New Artist who really deserved to win.

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange 

In my humble opinion this is the man who should've won Best New Artist. His album Channel Orange is so refreshing. My favourite thing about the album is that it's unconventional and that makes his music exciting and interesting to listen to. I'm not too mad because he did win Best Urban/Contemporary Album and Best Rap/Sung collaboration for his song 'No Church in the Wild' (ft Kanye West and Jay-Z).

Genre: R&B
You might like if you enjoy: D'angelo, The Weekend
My favourite Songs: Pyramids, Thinkin' bout You, Forrest Gump

Hunter Hayes - Hunter Hayes 

I'm convinced that Hunter Hayes is going to go on and win a lot of Grammy awards in the future but I was disappointed when he didn't win any of the 3 awards he was nominated for including Best New Artist.

The reason I really like Hunter Hayes' debut album is because you don't find many 21 year olds who put out an album of this quality while co-writing, co-producing, playing every instrument and singing every vocal track. That's impressive for anyone let alone someone of his age on their debut release.

Genre: Country/Pop
You might like if you enjoy: Rascal Flats, John Mayer
My favourite Songs: Somebody's Heartbreak, If You Told Me To, Wanted

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Deeply Paranoid, Zombie-Killing, Anti-Establishment Breakfast Club (no deathbots!)

Death comes to us all, eventually. The latest trend in youth fiction is to stare it in the face - then jab it in the eye. Mean girls and jocks usually come armed with more than a sharp tongue and a wet towel - and failing a test can be lethal.

Time for a new list of fiction for teens that takes the reader to dark places, and out the other side. Fans of The Hunger Games, rejoice!

Black Helicopters - Blythe Woolston
The recent kidnapping and hostage drama involving a small boy in Alabama shows just how dangerous anti-Government extremists can be. What if you were brought up by one? Meet Valkyrie White. She's fifteen. Her whole life, she's hidden in an underground den with her brother Bo while Da is working, because Those People will kill them like coyotes. But now, with Da unexpectedly gone and no home to return to, Valkyrie and her big brother must bring their message to the outside world. They're stupid out there - little boys wear their names on their backpacks and people don't pat down strangers before offering a lift. Valkyrie and Bo are going to wake them all up...Or will they be the ones to wake up? Explosions are promised.

City of a Thousand Dolls - Miriam Forster
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls train as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die. Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. And may end up paying with her own life.

The Infects - Sean Beaudoin
Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an "Inward Trek." As if that weren't bad enough, his counsellors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. These kids have seen zombie movies. They know the rules. Unfortunately, knowing the rules isn't going to be enough.

Freakling - Lana Krumwiede
In twelve-year-old Taemon's city, everyone has a power called psi -- the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds. When Taemon loses his psi in a traumatic accident, he must hide his lack of power by any means possible. But a humiliating incident at a sports tournament exposes his disability, and Taemon is exiled to the "dud farm". It's not what Taemon expected, though: people are kind and open, and they actually seem to enjoy using their hands to work and play and even comfort their children. But gradually he discovers that there are mysteries, too -- dangerous secrets that would give unchecked power to psi wielders if discovered. When Taemon unwittingly leaks one of these secrets, will he have the courage to repair the damage?

The Farm - Emily McKay
For Lily and her twin sister Mel there is only the Farm...It's a prison, a blood bank, a death camp - where fear and paranoia rule. But it's also home, of sorts. Because beyond the electric fence awaits a fate much, much worse. But Lily has a plan. She and Mel are going to escape - into the ravaged land outside, a place of freedom and chaos and horrors. Except Lily hasn't reckoned on two things: first, her sister's ability to control the horrors; and, secondly, on those out there who desperately want to find and control Mel. Mel's growing power might save the world, or utterly end it. But only Lily can protect Mel from what is to come...

Shards and Ashes
Powerful original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world. Stories from: Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Melissa Marr, Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, Carrie Ryan and Margaret Stohl.

The Disappeared - C. J. Harper
In a future where children are segregated into institutions that range from comfortable “Learning Communities” to prison-like “Local Academies”, seventeen-year-old Jackson is an academic high flyer, living in a top Learning Community and destined for a position in the Leadership. But when he and his best friend Wilson are sent to deliver a package to a factory block, they are attacked, leaving Wilson dead. And now Jackson's teachers claim not to know him. Sent to an Academy set up to train factory workers, Jackson finds himself immersed in a world that couldn’t be further removed than the life he’s used to; where the students have created their own hierarchy based on fighting ability. He starts to realise that his whole life has been based on half-truths. In order to survive, he needs to expose the lies that surround the Academy and find out the truth about who he really is.

When We Wake - Karen Healey
Dystopian fiction by a Kiwi author. Sixteen year old Tegan was loving life: she was joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world, she was playing guitar, and she thought she might be falling in love. She didn't plan on the best day of her life being her last. When Tegan wakes, a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility, she has no idea what happened. The first person to be cryonically frozen and sucessfully revived, she is an instant celebrity - but all she wants is to rebuild some semblance of a normal life in this strange new future. When appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: should she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Revolution 19 - Gregg Rosenblum
Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars turned their weapons on us. Nick has spent his whole life in a community in the wilderness, hiding out from the robots that have enslaved mankind. But when the bots discover the community's location, he, his tech-geek younger brother, Kevin, and adopted sister, Cass, barely make it out alive--only to discover that their home has been destroyed and everyone they love is missing. All survivors were captured and taken to one of the robots' Cities. Determined to find out if their parents are among the survivors, Nick, Kevin, and Cass venture into the heart of the City. As they live among the bots for the first time, they realize they're fighting for more than just their family. The robots have ruled for too long, and now it's time for a revolution.
If you like this one, I recommend the Tripods trilogy by John Christopher - a classic.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Shoot Them Up, Blow Them Up: My Kind of Valentine

Don't you just hate it when a perfectly good action story is ruined by an romantic interlude.  And I don't just mean a quick kiss and "I love you honey" type of thing.  I'm talking full out romance, the drawn out looks, the long speech, the whole package.

I mean come on... we've got time to declare our undying love for each other while people are shooting at us and the world is generally going to hell with a handgun.

Really???

Somehow I don't think so.

And it's kind of sad that writers think that the only way a woman can enjoy a action story is to have some romance thrown in.  Personally I enjoy nothing more than a shoot them up, blow them up kind of movie where the romance is minimal or even better non existent.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big believer in romance - of all varieties.  Whether it's true love, soul mates, love at first sight, I'm there.  I just don't need romance for the sake of romance or because I'm a chick.

I'd much rather have an action story be what it is: gripping, exciting with the odd touch of humour and filled with explosions, kick ass fighting, baddies to cheer for and men who don't take no for an answer.

Skyfall

How can you go wrong with a James Bond movie and the latest is definitely one of the best.  There's a baddie whose a little bit psycho, explosions, shoot outs and kick ass fighting.

God this is so my kind of movie and the perfect movie to watch on Valentine's Day.

After all nothing says romance like 'Honey pass me the gun so I can kill some bad guys'  
 The Avengers

I've been a fan of Joss Whedon for years.  After all he created one of the best shows ever in the form of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he is just brilliant at creating and writing well rounded characters, flaws and all.

So hearing that he wrote and directed The Avengers was more than reason enough to see it and of course it doesn't disappoint.  The characters aren't quite as fleshed out but then again this is a movie not a TV series so time is limited.  There is though enough of his usual touches with some great one liners and moments of humour plus some serious ass kicking.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

 Now this is my kind of movie.

A heroine who doesn't need rescuing but who can quite easily rescue herself and take out a few bad guys along the way.

Even better she gives the ultimate pay back to a lover gone bad. Yes!


Aliens

Another kick ass heroine and one of the best action sci-fi movies ever made. This is the ultimate movie.  And one where fans know the words line by line (trust me - having witness a cinema full of guys quoting the lines at an anniversary screening was one of the funniest thing... EVER!)

This time the baddies aren't CIA or criminals on the run but aliens who are out to make your life hell.

Don't you just hate it when the world needs rescuing from suck face aliens.

Die Hard

Die Hard is not only my go to movie for Christmas but is also a perfect Valentine's Day movie.

There's the divinely wonderful baddie in the form of Alan Rickman (be still my beating heart...), explosions galore and one liners that make the heart flutter.

Who needs romance when you've got terrorists to cheer for.

Kick Ass

A boy who wants to be a super-hero meets a girl who kind of is.

Kick Ass the movie might be called but Hit Girl is the star of this all out bloody, funny, action movie.

With her purple hair, cool cape and black eye mask Hit Girl is the idol of many a girl (and women).

Even better Kick Ass 2 is due for release later this year and Hit Girl is back, older and badassier than ever.

Person of Interest

There is no romance in this show except for the bromance (and those out there know what I mean) between the characters of Reese and Finch, and it's perfect because of that.

Finch is the brains and Reese... well he's the muscle.  A stealthy,  deadlier, shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of guy and between them their out to help 'The Machine' save the lives of people who find themselves in bad situations.

It's a perfect blend of conspiracy, corruption, crime and ... comrade-a-ship.

All I can say is... bring on the mayhem!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I can do every single thing that a person in a relationship can

'I don't need anyone. Because I can do every single thing that a person in a relationship can. Everything. Even zip up my own dress. You know, there are some things that are actually harder to do with two people. Such as... monologues.' - Liz Lemon*

If you're like me and you're too busy being awesome to be in a relationship or you're also like me and you think that "Valentine's Day is a sham created by card companies to reinforce and exploit gender stereotypes" (another Liz Lemon classic) then here are some things that you can do to survive Valentine's day without killing anyone:

1. Eat Your Feelings: This one depends on how lazy you are but you can either buy or cook a whole bunch of really yummy food that is really bad for you and than eat it all. I personally like to watch the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory while eating chocolate. 

Kiwi Favourites: New Zealand's Most Popular Recipes is a good one if you feeling like baking all of the food before you scoff it. I really like the Ginger Crunch and Lolly Cake recipes.

2. Treat Yo' Self: Go buy things. Clothes, shoes, more food, manicures, pedicures, other cliché things women spend money on. Whatever tickles your fancy; buy it. Or if you're saving the pennies then treat yo' self at home! Put some cucumbers on those tired eyes, avocado on your face, make yourself a cocktail and lie out in the sun. 

Bobbi Brown pretty powerful : beauty stories to inspire confidence This book is great because not only does it give you tips and instructions on how to do your make up but also on skin care and self confidence.

Lauren Conrad Beauty Okay, so I know that this is the girl from the Hills but her books 'Style' and 'Beauty'  are actually really good. Loads of tips on hair, make up, skin care, nails, fitness and food.

3. Have more fun by yourself than your friends with their lame partners.
Make stuff! We have hundreds of arts and crafts books at the library so just go crazy and make a whole bunch of stuff and then keep it for yourself! Go to a museum, an art gallery, an ice skating rink, the zoo! Think of something you've always wanted to do and just do it. Make sure you take a camera and some food that's bad for you!

4. All the single Ladies (Gal-entine's Day)
Better yet. Do all of the above with your other cynical single friends. (Not that you need anybody; you're an independent woman who don't need no man. Cynicism is just generally more fun as a group activity.) Then dance around to this song:


Good luck out there comrades and a happy Anna Howard Shaw day to us all!

*30 Rock Ep 413 'Anna Howard Shaw Day'

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Love and (chocolate) kisses

Happy Valentine's Day, to all you lovers out there. Being a complete cynic, I think it's an utter crock, myself - if your partner needs reminding to appreciate you, that's nothing to celebrate, really. But I got over my humbuggery *just* enough to write you this romance-themed list.

You'll probably be too busy to read them anyway...

Learn Love in a Week - Andrew Clover
Polly has been married to Arthur for ten years when she meets James Hammond. He's her Road Not Taken. The One That Got Away. He's also rich, and, in one week he's inviting his converted monastery in the country to give her the job she's always wanted. He also wants her. Her best friend Em says, 'Go.' Em's spent two years with a man who resists commitment like a dog resists a bath. She understands how it feels to be stuck. But she has her own interest in Polly's husband. Meanwhile, Arthur says: 'Stay. I can change.' But can he? After ten years, can you learn to love? And if you can, would you still choose your partner?

The Chocolate Kiss - Laura Florand
At La Maison des Sorcieres, the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitues nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud. But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe's creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste...a kiss.

Valentine's Dream
Valentine's Day can be a time of wonderful surprises, even for those who aren't looking for love.  Here are three charming classic stories of unexpected romance, passion and desire.

How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You - Tara Eglington

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed - and that's the way Aurora Skye wants it to be. She's too busy finding Potential Princes for her two best friends, counseling her sensitive New Age dad and dealing with the unexpected return of her long-absent mum. But always in the background there's Hayden Paris, the boy next door, the bane of Aurora's life. Smart, funny, and always around to see her at her worst, he 'gets' her like no-one else...and that's what makes him so infuriating. When Aurora and Hayden are coerced into the lead roles in the school production of Much Ado About Nothing, things can only get worse. How is Aurora going to save her first kiss for the secret admirer who wooed her with poetry and a spectacular bunch of flowers on Valentine's Day if she doesn't know who he is and she's obligated to lock lips with Hayden in the play's final dramatic clinch?

Valentine's Card - Juliet Ashton
The Valentine's card was meant to be Orla's fairy tale ending, but really, it was only the beginning ...Orla adores her actor boyfriend, Sim, who's away filming a sumptuous costume drama. Although the long-distance relationship means that she can eat toast for dinner and watch as much reality TV as she likes, she misses him like crazy. But Valentine's Day changes everything ...The same morning Orla learns that Sim has died, she receives a card from him. As Orla travels from Ireland to London, to live and breathe Sim's final moments, can she bring herself to open the Valentine's card and read his final message.

Blazing the Trail - Deborah Cooke
It's almost Valentine's Day, and Zoë Sorensson's love life is heating up. Cute, loyal, and understanding, wolf shifter Derek is pretty much the perfect guy. He likes Zoë, and he knows what it's like to have to keep a secret. Yet, Zoë can't help but wish it was rebel Jared asking her to the Valentine's dance instead. But Jared's too busy playing hot and cold with her heart, calling Zoë his dragon girl one minute and then taking special interest in her best friend the next. Zoë is just about ready to breathe fire, especially once she uncovers a new threat. Although Zoë thought the Mages were defeated, they're back and have invoked an old spell to give them new power--they plan to eliminate all shape shifters on the night of the big dance. Now, Zoë must lead an alliance of young shifters to battle the Mages and figure out exactly what--and who--she wants, before it all goes up in smoke…

Friday, 8 February 2013

Stalking the catalogue: No regrets

"Growing up I had always thought of tattoos as merely representing the idea itself. That having a tattoo simply said, "I'm the kind of person that would have a tattoo." That may have applied to the standard prison or military tattoo, but somewhere down the line tattoos stopped being the sole province of the badass and seamlessly slid over to he propriety of the soft, sensitive, malnourished hipster."

No regrets : the best, worst, and most #$%*ing ridiculous tattoos ever by by Aviva Yael and P. M. Chen
I'm fascinated by people's tattoos. I'm even more curious about the reasons behind them. They mostly come with quite good stories. (FYI: mine doesn't). For example, why would a guy get the Nike tick tattooed on his back? Why would another person choose to have theirs be two brightly coloured unicorns fornicating? Or the rapper ODB on their foot? Or 'WTF' on your finger? Or Frank Zappa picking his nose? See. Stories. This book doesn't provide the stories. It does, however, provide snark galore, and sometimes that's giggle-worthy, too.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Being a Doctor with no Borders (and Other Ways to Stay Single).


You guys will notice that I really like reading books about people who are better than I am so here's another one:

'Damien Brown, a young doctor, thinks he's ready when he arrives for his first posting with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Africa. But the town he's sent to is an isolated outpost of mud huts, surrounded by landmines; the hospital, for which he's to be the only doctor, is filled with malnourished children and conditions he's never seen; and the health workers—Angolan war veterans twice his age who speak no English—walk out on him following an altercation on his first shift. In the months that follow, Damien confronts these challenges all the while dealing with the social absurdities of living with only three other volunteers for company. The medical calamities pile up—including a leopard attack, a landmine explosion, and having to perform surgery using tools cleaned on the fire—but it's through Damien's evolving friendships with the local people that his passion for the work grows. This heartbreaking and honest account of life on the medical frontline in Angola, Mozambique, and South Sudan is a moving testimony of the work done by medical humanitarian groups and the extraordinary and sometimes eccentric people who work for them.'

I learned a lot about Angola which is a country I know very little about. For example: Did you know that they speak Portuguese in Angola? I didn't. Learning!

If you're one of those people who reads to escape the horrors of our world then maybe this one isn't for you. But if you're like me and sometimes you need a reminder of human goodness then make sure you check it out. It's a very good book. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

E-readership - the smackdown

First, there was the paperless office. And we all know how successful that was. Now, they're threatening the paperless home. Instead of bulky shelves lined with colourfully expensive, tree-murdering, oxygen-depleting papery things gathering silverfish, dust and mould, we will have - a squinty little screen and a sore thumb.

I'm just wondering if any of you received an e-reader for Christmas, or bought one to take away with you. How many of you had one already?

And how many are still in love with paper?

It has occurred to me that I really should talk about ebooks, because of the number of requests we get for books that aren't printed in the usual 3D format. Especially Kindle ebooks. You may or may not be aware that Auckland Libraries cannot and does not purchase Kindle ebooks. In case you didn't know this, there's a war on. There's the read-anywhere type of ebook, then there's the sort formatted to only be used on one sort of e-machine - like a Kindle. As we don't want to disadvantage people who use all the other devices, it means we don't use those. It means a bloody headache, actually.

Auckland Libraries uses special library suppliers that have their own suppliers - the publishers - and every single one has a different view on allowing libraries access to their precious works. Some will not permit libraries to buy their ebooks, as they think they'll lose too much money having people simply download their stuff free. Some allow a maximum number of downloads, which can mean having to buy the same book several times a year. And all suppliers have a different range, because they have different agreements with publishers, meaning you can't buy - or even order - all books.

And more and more books are only being published as ebooks, including half a series, when the other half is printed.

Night-maaare!

Anyway, I guess this is building up to an apology. We do apologise for all those times you've seen a book advertised, and request it from us, only to discover it is a Kindle ebook and we can't purchase it for you. We do hope the publishing industry gets itself sorted, but unfortunately, libraries have never been the priority.

In the meantime, we still have a pretty impressive range of ebooks, both fiction and non-fiction, which you can check out here. If you're not sure what format the ebook you want is, you are also more than welcome to suggest it to us!

Let us know if you are an e-reader or a paper fan, like me. Or both.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Stalking the catalogue: Crap graffiti

"Graffiti can be a diverse form of expression and thought-provoking art; whether painted on the side of a train or on a canvas hanging in a gallery. Or, as you will experience in the pages to come, it can be crude, drunken daubing, nonsensical statements or hilarious outpourings of uncontained rage."
 
Crap graffiti edited by Adam Elliott and Richard Frazer

When is graffiti art and when is it just plain 'ol graffiti? I grew up in the 80s and Beat Street (the film) I liked for the music but, more, for the graffiti. Ever since then, I stop to admire it - on trains, buses, walls, toilet mirrors, fences, school books. Everywhere. And executed in a number of different ways - etched in glass (let's not talk about the inappropriate one I saw on a downstairs window), black vivid tagged on a bus stop seat, spraypaint on a freight train rolling past, pencil on a school book, pen on a desk. Everything. Some of it is barely legible. A lot of it is full of references to genitalia (like toddlers who've suddenly discovered they have them and need to keep showing everybody). And then, sometimes, they're so witty you wish you could meet the people behind them. This book, according to the title, is going to be all of the former. Maybe I win?

Confession: I sometimes see the visual cacophany that is Twitter as a form of online graffiti. We use it to express ourselves in a myriad of ways - witty banter, social chit chat, indulge the nonsensical, share ALL THE RAGE, and yes, even crude and drunken tweets. See? Online graffiti.

Friday, 1 February 2013

This month I'm loving...

Well not the heat, that's for sure but even if the weather can sometimes be a bit much to handle there are plenty of things on offer at Auckland Libraries to take one's mind off it.

January is one of those lazy month's where we all ease ourselves slowly back into work after the madness of Christmas, eat bucket loads of cherries (well you do if you're me) and winter seems like a million days away.

For me there are always plenty of wonderful things coming across my desk.  At times it's hard to decide what to choose and what to start with first.

This month I've discovered new bands, new authors and indulged in a few fav's.  So what have you been enjoying this month?

The glorious dead / The Heavy.

I so love these guys but can't help wonder why I hadn't come across them before.  Still never mind, I've found them now and have been busy listening to all 3 of their cd's, courtesy of my bestest bud Youtube.

This, their latest album, is just brilliant.  It's bluesy and rocky and just a little bit indie with a touch of soul thrown in for good measure.

My favourite's are Same Ole' and What Makes A Good Man.

Best served cold / Joe Abercrombie.

"Monza Murcatto is one of the best mercenaries around but being the best can sometimes have a hefty price.  Only thing is Monza never thought that price would be her life..."

I've been meaning to read Joe Abercrombie for absolutely ages and I'm so glad that I finally did.

Bloody and violent and ruthless and that's just the female character, Murcatto could so kick Buffy's butt.

There's a lot to love. Betrayal and back-stabbing are so me. All I can say is... on with the sequel.

Pines : a novel / by Blake Crouch.

"FBI Ethan Burke wakes up near the town of Pines with virtually no memory of who he is.  Pines though is not the safe haven he would like it to be and there are things going on around him that make him wonder what exactly it is that the town is hiding."

The ending of this book will thrown you for a loop.  Trust me, you won't see it coming, or maybe you will and it was just me you went Oh My God.

Like the book above I'm now hanging out for the sequel.  Why do authors insist on teasing us so...

Wool / Hugh Howey.

"In a ruined and hostile landscape, a community exists in a giant underground silo. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last."

First published as an e-book Wool is now in print after the huge and I mean HUGE public demand.  Having recently read it myself, I can see why.

It's so good to see Sci-Fi books doing so well.  As with the others I am now waiting impatiently for the sequel Shift which is due this April and also for the film adaption, which rumour has it, Ridley Scott is interested in making.

Ghost planet / Sharon Lynn Fisher.

"Imagine an alien world where the alien's manifest themselves in the form of the dead.  What would it be like to be haunted by a loved one? Psychologist Elizabeth Cole is about to find out, only not in quite the way she'd imagined.  Living with a ghost should be relatively easy but what if you're the ghost..."

A book with a little bit of something for everyone, from romance to sci-fi to paranormal to adventure, Ghost Planet covers them all.  A genre mesh or should that be mess.  Either way it was enjoyable.

The essential Supernatural : on the road with Sam and Dean Winchester / Nicholas Knight

"Fill a flask with holy water and make sure your car is stocked with rock salt and shot guns, you're about to drive headfirst into the world of Sam and Dean Winchester, hunters of demons, ghouls, vampires, and all things supernatural."

Yeah, you just knew that I had to include something to do with Supernatural, but trust me, for fans of the show this book is a must.  Filled with glorious coloured photos, a history of the show and its characters plus interviews with the actors and behind-the-scenes-staff, this is the ultimate book.

In the words of the boys... Got salt?