Wednesday, 29 May 2013

This month I am Loving...

Music.

It seems appropriate to carry on with the music theme this week since May is NZ Music Month.  I can't think of a better idea than a month that celebrates music in all it's wonderful glory.

I love music.  All kinds of music.  In fact I'm probably something of a music junkie.  And one of the things I love doing is discovering new songs to listen to and to share them with others.

So here's a random list of songs that I have been playing lately.  Many of which you may not of heard but which I hope you might like and maybe even become addicted to - just like I have.

Cut My Hair by Luca Vasta

It was Amazon that got me onto this song; listed as it was as one of the songs to watch out for in 2013 and Luca Vasta as an artist on the rise.  And I'm so glad I checked it out.  Its boppy and catchy and a perfect head banging dance song.  So click on the link below and see what you think


Haven't Had Enough by Marianas Trench

Another song that I have been playing on instant replay.  I found this band courtesy of Teen Wolf  and have fallen in love with this song and Stutter which I also recommend that you check out.
 
Magic by Leagues

Another break out band that many are predicting as one of the bands to watch out for in 2013 and their debut record You Belong Here as a must buy.  I have to say I agree and I've already got my copy.


Blowin' Smoke by Kacey Musgraves

I'm usually not much of a country music fan but for some reason this song appeals to me.  Maybe it's because it's not as country as some but has a nice laid back feel to it.


Hold On by Alabama Shakes

These guys (and girl) are just awesome and so deserved last year's Grammy nominations which they or the Lumineers should of won but we won't go into that.  All you need to know is that you have you check them out.


Bones by MS MR

I fell in love with this song earlier this year after hearing it on the Season 3 trailer for Game of Thrones.  It's moody and soulful and the amazing lyrics are made even more so by the lead singer's  voice.  Their debut album has just been released overseas but until then have a listen to the video link below and see what you think

Knitting with Dog Hair

This is my second post featuring a book about dogs and knitting. The first 'Men who Knit and the Dogs who Love Them' is the most popular blog I have ever posted so here's another really weird one for you. 

Knitting with dog hair : a woof-to-warp guide to making hats, sweaters, mittens, and much more by Kendall Crolius and Anne Black Montgomery. 

"How many times have you groomed your dog, looked at all the fur floating around your feet, and remarked to yourself that there is enough fur for a sweater? Well, here's the guide that will help you turn that remark into a reality. With instructions for everything from "harvesting the fuzz" to spinning it into yarn to patterns for knitting dog hair into sweaters, hats, and scarves, Knitting with Dog Hair is a dream come true for dog lovers who also love to knit. Directories of equipment suppliers and people who will spin dog hair for you are appended, as a thorough guide to dog-breed hair and a glossary of dog-grooming and spinning terms. Instructions are thorough, and the authors' sense of humor will make this an enjoyable book for people new to spinning. Cat lovers shouldn't feel left out--special instructions are given for collecting cat fur, and patterns for a cat-hair pill box hat and a shirt collar are included." 

I think my favourite thing about this book is that the tagline on the cover is 'Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than from a sheep you'll never meet'. swear to you I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Head Bangers Unite: Rock Music to Fuel Your Inner Rock God

I may be an 80's pop queen in my heart but my soul belongs to rock n roll. Hard rock, classic rock, blues rock, I'm there in all my head banging, foot tapping glory.

Of course it wasn't always that way.

In the late 70's and the early 80's I was a disco dancing pop queen. First with the Bee Gees and Abba,  then onto the likes of  Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Spandau Ballet and all the rest. Pop for me was it.  Then again I was only 10 so what did I know.

Secretly though rock music had an almost dangerous allure for me.

This was the music after all that the black t-shirt brigade listened to.  The bad boys who wore faded jeans, black t-shirt's (often with a band's logo on them), drove beat up cars and were the kind of guys your mother warned you about.  Mates who hanged around together drinking, smoking and listening to rock music while girlfriends came and went.

I admired them from afar until I became one of those girlfriends and my first love and I bonded over music. I introduced him to The Cure, The Clash and The Jam while he introduced me to AC/DC, Def Leppard and the ultimate rock legends - Led Zeppelin.

From the moment I heard the first few bars of Friends, The Immigrant Song and Kashmir I was hooked and my love of rock music has stayed with me ever since.  After all who can resist those moments when you can get in touch with your inner Rock God.

Led Zeppelin Head banging rock just wouldn't be the same without these guys.

They are the ultimate in rock gods and deservedly so.  My only regret is that I was too young to see them at their finest during the early 70's and that I had to make do to listening to their music on vinyl and admiring Jimmy Page on the posters on my wall.

Yeah that bad boy rock guitarist did it for me again.

Jethro Tull Aqualung is considered one of the best albums... ever.  It certainly is a must have album for any dire hard music fan and my own copy was frequently played when I brought it back in 1985.

An unlikely rock band Jethro Tull managed to combine rock, folk and even a touch of classical music to produce a unique sound that was all their own.

And all fronted by the amazing Ian Anderson and his flute.  Who knew that a flute could rock music the way it could.

Cheap Trick Not as well known here as they are in their native America Cheap Trick had the reputation for being one of the best rock bands to see live and their album Live at Budokan is considered another must have album for any music fan.

I discovered them courtesy of  American Top 40 which I listened to religiously every Sunday morning as a teenager.

Guns N' Roses Tattooed, drug taking, model dating hard rock gurus Guns N' Roses burst onto the music scene in 1987 with their album Appetite for Destruction and a rock legend was born.

Sadly 6 years later the magic was gone and the band fell apart but the legacy of their music lives on in such head banging classics as Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers One of my all time favourite bands Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers are my go to music for starting any road trip.

Their songs are the songs I can bop my head along to while singing loudly to the words.

American  heartland rock at it's best I'm just surprised that they've never played a song of theirs on my favourite show Supernatural.  Because they so need to.

Inappropriate books for young people

Here in libraries, we're used to the stereotypes. We're all dull intellectuals with the sense of humour of a damp lettuce sandwich, and can possibly be incited to murder by the sight of a book shelved out of sequence. Just try it sometime.

Either that or we fall vaguely into one of these categories:

1) Sci fi and fantasy geeks who come to blows over whether Anne McCaffrey's books really count as fantasy when the dragons are genetically engineered.

2) Repressed madams who just want a man to unleash our inner tiger.

3) Beaming freaks who address everyone like a class of kindergarteners, clap our hands a lot and think everything is "woooonderful"!

No one - no one - ever views us as crusaders for social justice, or defenders of your freedom to speak. But we're that too.

There was a piece in the Daily Mail recently that really pissed me off. Ha. I can say things like that because I'm a librarian and we don't censor. Here's the link (with thanks to Syfygirl): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2256356/The-sick-lit-books-aimed-children-Its-disturbing-phenomenon-Tales-teenage-cancer-self-harm-suicide-.html

You may remember me having a go at Sherryl Jordan for criticising violence in teen fiction, particularly The Hunger Games. Well, would you believe it, this author deplores books like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (and presumably the likes of New Zealand's own See Ya, Simon) that feature dying teenagers. They're "distasteful", apparently. Kaayyyyy. Furthermore, the argument goes, they are preoccupied with sex and swearing. I would posit that the author knows few teenagers. And if she does, that she doesn't recognise that they too are capable of wanting more than mere escapism.

I'm the first to admit that I don't like books like John Green's. While I admired See Ya, Simon, and would recommend it to anyone, it's not the sort of book I would normally go for, either. Terminal illnesses, teen pregnancy, self-harm, abuse and doomed love - I avoid them all like the plague. But why should I stop others reading about them? The people who say that teens aren't ready for such books are also the ones who then complain that teenagers care about nothing but themselves, live in a fairyland, and want only to be famous (or marry someone who is). Which is it? Do we "protect" our kids from reading about real issues - and these are
real issues - and then curse them for not understanding?

I think teens read what they are ready to read. If a book disturbs them, they won't read any more like it - but they will have learned. Like the child psychologist says at the end of the piece, parents' role is not to ban them, but to be there for them, and support them in their questioning. Or do we stop them asking questions too? I would suggest that a lot of society's worst problems are the ones that happen in silence. It's sad that some teens feel inspired by books about suicide and self-harm - but the double standard Carey talks about between newspapers and books is there for a reason. The books are generally about fictional characters, or, obviously, by survivors warning of the dangers of adolescent life. They're about misery.

Newspaper articles are about real people. Bans on reporting suicides prevent fingers getting pointed at grieving families. Also, think of the public reaction, and the vast outpouring of grief. It is this that can cause copycat behaviour among teens, seeing the love and remorse that are released after someone takes their own life. They think: "They'll be sorry too when I'm dead".

Reading about others' misery is cathartic - especially if you talk it over with adults. Reading about what could be perceived as a triumph is far more dangerous. The important thing to remember is not to let your kids read in a vacuum.

At Auckland Libraries, any borrower can borrow any book, unless there is a strict, official censorship rating. You may not be aware that children are perfectly free to wander the shelves checking out books of borderline art or illustrated bedroom manuals. With the use of self-check machines, we can't even always catch them and ask to check with parents first. If this bothers you, watch your children in the library. Taking your kids with you and showing an interest in what they're reading is also the best way to encourage them to read - it's a win-win. But it's not our job as librarians to lock ideas away.

So don't blame publishers for publishing books that challenge the reader. Don't blame libraries for stocking them, either. We believe in letting kids be kids - and that includes asking uncomfortable questions.

Monday, 27 May 2013

I'm Just An 80's Pop Queen

I have rather eclectic taste in music.

I love classic rock, hard rock, indie rock,  pop, jazz, blues and a realm of other types of music but in my heart I am an 80's chick.

The 80's was the era I grew up in.

I had the padded shoulders, the frilled shirts, the leg warmers and most importantly the music.  Boppy, poppy, new wave, new romantic music with a mix of emo thrown in for good measure.   My bedroom wall was covered in posters of my favourite bands and I had a stack of records which by the end of the 80's could fill an entire wall from floor to ceiling.

Going to music shops and flicking through records was one of my favourite things to do.  What new treasures and discoveries would I find today?

Music of course was everywhere.

This was the era that MTV started and Saturday afternoon's must-watch viewing was Ready to Roll and Sunday was filled with listening to American Top 40 on the radio and at night it was all about Radio With Pictures hosted by the very laid back Karyn Hay.

80's music was what it was all about, the era of video clips and pretty boys who sometimes wore more make-up than you did.

Duran Duran  were my 80's idols.

I had posters of them plastered across my bedroom wall and while my friends lusted after lead singer Simon Le Bon my heart belonged to the sensitive, quiet, bad boy guitarist John Taylor.

Yes even then bad boys were my thing.

Surprising as it might be to some Duran Duran are still going strong today some 30 years later and though the boys are somewhat older now and more settled with wives and children John Taylor still plays a mean guitar and makes my heart flutter just a little.

Paul Weller  Indie God, Mod God, Rock God.  Paul Weller, singer, song-writer and guitarist has been called them all and like Duran Duran he is still performing today.

Never really that well known outside of Britain, Paul Weller's music has involved and changed over the years. From the new wave mod of the Jam, to the R&B pop mix of Style Council to the raw, gritty soul/rock of the solo artist he is today.

And today he is still winning awards including the Godlike Genius Award in 2010 by NME.   Pretty good for a working class boy from Surrey.


The Cure  Not the kind of boys you would want to take home to mum The Cure were the Goth and emo band of the late 70's and 80's.

Yet despite the wild hair, pale face make-up and black eyeliner  these guys could sing and play. 

Their music was dark and tormented and mournful and I knew all the words to Let's Go To Bed and Love Cats.

Hall and Oates Admitting you like Hall and Oates is a bit like admitting you like Abba & disco.

Totally not cool. 

Then again I've never worried that much about being cool.  Kiss On My List, I Can't Go For That, Out of Touch, Private Eyes.  These were the songs that I played again and again on my cassette deck and even now I still love their up-beat boppy tunes.

Not being cool is actually kind of neat.

The Police 80's music really wouldn't be complete without these guys despite the fact that they burst onto the music scene in 1978.

From the moment we heard the words "Roxane. You don't have to put on the red light..." I and everyone else was hooked. And from then on they produced song after song of which we all had to have and sang and danced along too.

These guys were and are legends.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Unfortunate title of the week

Does anyone else think the author really should have re-thought her character name? And why didn't the publishers laugh in her face?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Every book has its day

I've read some articles lately that attack the public view of what makes a good book. First up was a piece about The Great Gatsby, in which the reviewer admitted they thought the book was utter crap. And that what most people think it's about - the parties and the celebration of decadence - completely misses the point.

Someone else sneered at Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and other bestsellers. They may be popular, the writer said - but that doesn't mean they're good. Only women's book groups like them, not real critics like me.

Fact is, everyone likes to look down on something. We all want to feel superior in our own way. Yes, I love a formulaic slasher novel, but at least I don't read romance. Yes, I read British chick lit, but I don't touch that American trash. Oh, fantasy...I prefer Margaret Atwood myself...

And so on.

Well who says what a good book is? These are the ingredients for me:

It must have a story that makes me want to keep reading.
It must have characters I like spending time with.
I must enjoy it.

Anything else is just a bonus.

Thing is, almost every book is a good book to someone. One person's tastes do not match another's. Thank God for that. At Easter I get to eat all the marshmallow eggs, because others in my house don't like them. Lots of authors get told they're unpublishable before making their first billion. It's just how life is.

If the mark of a quality book is one you read over and over, here's my own list of the classics. Take it as read that Jane Austen is on here...

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

Feet of Clay and Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett

Q & A - Vikas Swarup

The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer

The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper

One For the Money - Janet Evanovich

Be My Enemy - Christopher Brookmyre

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J. K. Rowling

Dead Beat - Jim Butcher

I own a lot of crime novels, naturally, but they don't feature on here so highly because it's best not to remind yourself of the ending too often. Wait a few years and then surprise yourself all over again! I recommend: Mark Billingham, Louise Penny, Stuart MacBride, C. J. Sansom, Belinda Bauer, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Adrian McKinty.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

LORDE!!!!

I have been waiting so long for this music video to come out to share with you my new music obsession LORDE! You may have heard her song Royals on the radio but if you haven't I strongly urge you to stop everything you're doing and listen to that song right now (video below).

Lorde is our newest Internet sensation after Brooke Fraser raving about her on Twitter and then George Fm picking up Royals. Lorde is actually 16 year old Ella Yelich- O'Connor from Auckland's North Shore. The fact that she is 16 astounds me because her voice is so mature! I've been stalking her a little bit and from the sounds of things she's currently leading a double life: Takapuna Grammar by day; Pop star by night.

Lorde is amazing and I can't wait to see what she does in the future. I'm sure you'll love her too and listening to The Love Club EP is the perfect way to celebrate New Zealand Music Month.

Her EP The Love Club is only available on itunes and Spotify right now but physical copies are in the making! You can request a copy here.



Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Paramore and Fall Out Boy are back. Teenage me rejoices.

Two of my favourite bands from high school have put out new albums almost at the very same time. I'm very happy about this.

Paramore released their self titled 4th album last month to rave reviews. The self titled album was the band's first release after 2 members of the band quit in 2010 so all ears were listening to see if the band could make something as good as what they have previously put out. Thankfully they can. You MUST listen to my favourite track 'Aint it Fun' which features a gospel-style choir at the end.  Honorable mentions also go to 'Grow Up', 'Still Into You' and 'Anklebiters'. Absolutepunk said "As a full record, Paramore certainly isn't for everyone - but there's certainly something for everyone. If you're not having fun at some point of the album, you're probably not trying." I completely agree.

 This record is exactly what my inner teenager lives for. Save Rock and Roll is the title of Fall Out Boy's 5th album and marks the return of Fall Out Boy after their 3 year hiatus. The lead single 'My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up) sounds exactly like what I wish my time in high school had been like. (In reality it was more like Weird Al's White and Nerdy). Make sure you check out the other 2 singles  The Phoenix and Young Volcanoes  because they're amazing too. Save Rock and Roll features some incredible guest stars in Courtney Love, Elton John, Big Sean and Foxes so make sure you listen to those tracks. Especially the title track with Elton John; whoever thought of putting them together is a genius.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Can the movie be better than the book?

There's nothing greater than the pleasure of reading a good book - unless it's sitting in the movie sneering "That's NOT how it goes in the book".

I'm a serial offender. If there's a film coming out, I'll have to read the book first, just to assert its superiority to everyone in the neighbouring seats. Good thing there aren't any more Tangy Fruits, or I'd have candy concussion by now. Although Giant Jaffas do pack a wallop from above.

Anyway, because I haven't read either Beautiful Creatures or Warm Bodies (or, for that matter, The Great Gatsby), you're going to have to tell me what you thought. How do they compare? How about The Perks of Being a Wallflower?

There are a small percentage of movies that were actually better than the book, in my estimation. I liked Stardust better, for example, because I found it wittier than Neil Gaiman's original, and the ending was happier. I am a sucker for one of those. Yet I like The Iron Giant better than The Iron Man even though the ending is not quite so happy, because it has more action, and they did the character of Hogarth so well. It's a woman's prerogative, etc.

And one of you graphic novel readers, please tell me - why did Alan Moore hate V for Vendetta?

On the other hand, the Best Picture-winning Slumdog Millionaire wasn't even in the same ballpark as Q & A, which was magnificent. Why did they change it? WHY?? And as for the adaptation of my favourite kids' book, The Dark is Rising (aka The Seeker...) Even the trailer was trash.

Did anyone enjoy The Hobbit film better than the book? Is anyone not horrified they've split it into three? Does anyone else secretly wish Smaug would just bloody toast them all?...(Except you, Martin. You're awesome.)

Stream of consciousness over.

*For copies of any of these books, visit your magical local library. No terms and conditions apply.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

This Month I'm Loving...

The cooler weather, bowls of steamy hot soup and socks.

I love socks.

Long socks, short socks, stripey socks, spotty socks.  The brighter the better, though I am also rather fond of long, black socks, the longer the better.  My current favourites are my latest purchase -  a pair of Big Bang Theory Soft Kitty socks.

Yes you heard correctly. And yes I *adore* them because Reasons.

Damn Sheldon Cooper and that Soft Kitty song.  And if ever someone makes a pair of Supernatural socks (the show, not the other...) I'll be the first in line.

As always I've been discovering a world of new things.  Many of which aren't available for purchase in New Zealand.  Yet...

Our selectors at Auckland Libraries are amazing so I know that when these do become available they will probably be purchasing them.  In the mean time here's an advance preview of things to watch out for.... and which I can't get enough off.

Teen Wolf

I totally blame Tosca for this one.  She's the one who kept taking about it.  So of course I just had to give it a try.

And of course I've become completely and utterly hooked.  And don't get me started on Sterek....

Trust me you really don't want to know.  What you do need to know is that it features werewolves, hunky guys, great music...

It was pretty much a given that I would love it and become addicted to it... all in a completely non-obsessive way...

Vikings

Blood and mayhem.

It's a thing.

And I make no apologies that I have a certain weakness for it.  Especially when it involves good storytelling and great characters.

Ignore the fact that Vikings is made by the History Channel (even though it is) or that it's creator was the man behind The Tudors (which he was).

Vikings is a rousing tale that follows the mythic adventures of Ragnor Lodbok.  There's also swords and leather and men with beards so you just knew I had to be there.

Utopia

As much as I like blood and mayhem and supernatural things I also like things that are just a little dark... okay make that a lot dark.

Utopia fits the bill perfectly.  There's brutal deaths (and that's just in the first few minutes), weird characters and a comic which may just hold the destruction of mankind in it's pages.

Mikky Ekko

I mentioned above that one reason for watching Teen Wolf is some of the great music and this artist is just one that I've fallen for.

Most people probably know him through his duet with Rihanna on the song Stay, but you really need to check out his solo stuff which is even better.    I'm hanging out for his debut album which hopefully will be coming out later
this year.  Until then Youtube will have to fill the void.  Check out this song of his which has been on constant repeat on my Spotify account Who Are You Really

Haim

Another artist that is due to release their debut album later this year, Haim are three sisters who have been slowly building up a huge following over the past year,

I fell in love with them when I heard their song Don't Save Me earlier this year.  It's bouncy and catchy, just like the rest of their music.  You just have to check them out

8th Doctor Who Big Finish Adventures

After my last post you're all probably aware how much I have fallen in love with audio dramas so it will come as no surprise that I am just loving the 8th Doctor Who adventures which I have been working my way through.

Paul McGann is just as brilliant doctor and he has the perfect voice for audio and as always Big Finish have produced a series of just wonderful audios which I know I will probably listen to again and again.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Attenborough

David Attenborough documentaries are some of my favorite things in the world. Not only does it involve watching TV, which is the great love of my life, but it also makes you smarter! (Actually I think all TV makes you smarter. My current obsession Supernatural  has taught me a lot about how to kill demons. Which is 1000000% relative to my life). Check out some of David's wonderful documentaries below:

Africa 
This is the world's wildest continent as you've never seen it before - an intense sensory adventure from the
Atlas Mountains, through the Savannah lands to the Cape of Good Hope and from the Roof of Africa and the Kalahari to where the dark rainforests of the Congo meet the Atlantic Ocean. Each episode shifting the focus onto a different region as it contrasts the epic power of the landscape with the dramatic struggles of individual creatures living there

Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild 
Sir David Attenborough has been at the forefront of natural history film making for over half a century, witnessing an unparalleled period of change in our planet's history. In this unique and important series he delivers his testimony in a trio of spectacular films, focusing on three areas which have transformed most profoundly over his career: film making, science and the environment. During his extraordinary career he has seen, first-hand, more of the natural world than anyone else and witnessed how our remarkable planet has changed more rapidly and extensively than ever before.

Kingdom of Plants 
In this sensational series, shot over the course of a year, Sir David Attenborough explores the lives of plants and their fascinating world, from the most bizarre to the most beautiful. Using pioneering techniques in 3D macro and time-lapse photography, he traces them from their beginnings on land to their vital place in nature today, exposing new revelations along the way. He moves from our time scale to theirs, revealing the true nature of plants as creatures that are every bit as dynamic and aggressive as animals. And he does all this in one unique place, a microcosm of the whole plant world where some 90 percent of all known plant species are represented: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Chronicles the mysteries of the deep, coastline populations, sea mammals, tidal and climatic influences and the complete biological system that relies on and revolves around the world's oceans.