30 April, 2016

Take care love accidentally [DVD videorecording]

Frannie has just been hit by a car and has just been released from the hospital. She has broken her left leg and right arm and cannot care for herself and after being passed around by her family and friends, she realises that they cannot give her the care that she needs.

Frannie guilt trips her ex-boyfriend into helping her, after all she once looked after him when he was sick. What follows is a funny light-hearted comedy of second chances and seeing someone you thought you knew in a different light.

After seeing Frannie go through the efforts of trying to get people to help her puts into perspective that who would I rely on to help me in my time of need. I also loved how she reconnected with her ex and that even though it started out as a blackmail tactic, Frannie and her ex realise the reasons why their relationship went wrong and can finally get some closure from it.

It was a nice fluffy romantic comedy that flowed along quite nicely.

Starring: Leslie Bibb, Thomas Sadoski, Betty Gilpin
Rating: M

Recommended by Emma W

Emma W, a library assistant from East Coast Bays Library, can be found zoning out constantly, requesting way too much stuff or humming along to the elevator music in her head.

28 April, 2016

That's not English by Erin Moore

When I picked up this book and flicked through it, I presumed it was a study of the differences between British and American interpretations of common words.  It is, but it is a lot more than that. The author, Erin Moore, is an American, but she has had a close association with British speakers through her work as an editor and through her marriage into an English family.

The book comprises about thirty chapters - each headed with a single word, and that word is then discussed in detail and the different interpretations from either side of the Atlantic explored. The chapters have titles such as “Quite”, “Sorry”, ”Clever”, “Brolly”, “Toilet”, “Proper”, “Shall” and “Tea”.

Erin Moore moved to England and raised a family there while having regular visits back to the United States.  She expected to be completely at ease with the language in England, but found there were more and more differences in understanding and meaning.  She looks at many of these examples in detail.

In “Cheers” she discusses how the word has become commonplace in Britain, used by all classes, and can mean a toast (when drinking), good-bye, or thank you.  She explains that the Americans know ‘cheers’ as a toast but struggle to interpret other meanings.  If they use it, they tend to over-pronounce it.  In this chapter, she discusses the place of the British pub and compares that with the drinking attitudes in America.

The small chapter “Toilet” is typical.  Both the British and Americans seem to have difficulty in discussing this subject.  In Britain you can ask ‘where is the loo?’ at a restaurant, but this would never do in America. They would prefer “bathroom” or “restroom”, but even this might be a bit strong and so they would ask for the “powder room.”

If you enjoy words and their derivations and meanings, and care to explore the differences in understanding of two different but similar cultures, then this is an ideal book for you. The writing is light and easy to read, it keeps your interest and you can pick and choose chapters as you like. You could say the book is quite remarkable – but of course ‘quite’ can mean entirely different things depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on.

Title: That's not English
Author: Erin Moore

Recommended by Ana, Central Library

Ana enjoys reading and listening to music, travelling and many other things. She reads fiction, non-fiction and from genres, crime: the Scandinavian crime writers, Patricia Highsmith and some others.

27 April, 2016

Smith's Dream by C.K. Stead

Ironically, it was the very first New Zealand novel I read after my arrival to the country I knew nothing about. I grabbed the book from a library shelf randomly, attracted by its small size and a local author’s name. It’s time to start learning about the place I wish I could call home one day, I thought. I was then and still am absolutely convinced there is no better way to discover a new country than through reading its fiction.

From overseas, the land of the long white cloud, a green and sunlit island of laid-back people, seemed nothing but paradise, a realised utopia. You can now imagine my surprise, if not to say shock, when I discovered the book was a dystopian novel, a portrayal of a rather dark and horrifying world. Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury famously used the genre to show how far the tendencies of the times may lead the society.

I later learned that Smith’s Dream, the first novel by Stead, was written as a reaction to the Vietnam War in 1971. The book gained popularity within the country mostly by becoming the basis for the movie Sleeping Dogs by Roger Donaldson.

The main character, a librarian Smith, is left by his wife and goes to the Coromandel bush to hide away from his family crisis. A dictator named Volkner becomes the new Prime Minister of New Zealand and is using the army and special police to maintain his government. Very soon Smith falls under suspicion and is forced to go back to Auckland, where he is kept under detention and tortured. Luckily the character manages to run away but has to hide from the police by moving from one place to another, trying to make up his mind whether to join the opposition or stay by himself and save his own life. Decisions, decisions.

Although the novel was written almost half a century ago and may at first seem outdated, it still strikes me now, after more than 5 years living in the country, how much it remains relevant and how easily it can be applied to our everyday reality, both in New Zealand and worldwide.

Title: Smith’s Dream
Author: C.K. Stead

Recommended by Maria M, Central Library

Maria M believes reading is the best way to understand other people and places. She is an avid bilingual reader who is particularly interested in New Zealand fiction.

The art of slow writing: Reflections of time, craft, and creativity. by Louise DeSalvo

This is such a beautifully written book, as satisfying as a long luxurious stretch when you’re feeling sleepy. Not a how-to for writers, more of an unfolding, an exploration of the written word for the curious, those that like words on the page, those that craft those words, and a gentle encouragement to mentally forage for the beginning seedlings of an idea that may lead on to the written word.

There is so much contained within the covers of this book, it is a portal into a lovely expanse of all things writing related and yet it clearly addresses the hard grafting element of writing, the lonely arduous self doubting moments.  And then there are the  painful revisions again and again ad infinum as well as the tenacity needed  to pick up your wounded self and carry on when you face inevitable criticisms and "thanks but no".

If you hold a somewhat romantic idea of the creative genius penning written wonders effortlessly, this book might be somewhat of a myth buster.  Maybe you are a bibliophile and love the written word, guaranteed you will have a deepened appreciation of just what an endurance course writing  is that only the most determined (some may say masochistic) writers finish. Maybe you just like to read well crafted reflective writing, step inside a while. You won’t want to leave, and when you do reluctantly turn the final page you will wonder if it is too soon to immediately begin again.

Title: The art of slow writing. Reflections of time, craft, and creativity.

Author: Louise DeSalvo

Recommended by: Sue W (Central Library)

Sue W loves her fur babies equally but differently and uses time out to think about bad behaviours, she has been known to forget about the miscreant and then earn the title of worst-mother-ever.

Dorothy must die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die is the first book in a trilogy for young adults.

When a tornado sweeps through the trailer park where Amy Gumm lives she is transported to the magical world of OZ. At the end of the Wizard of OZ after murdering two witches, deposing the ruler of the Emerald City and leaving a power vacuum that would eventually be filled by a scarecrow, Dorothy returns to her Aunty Em and their depression era farm. Dorothy immediately regrets her decision. She returns to OZ, seizes power and installs herself as the all-powerful, gingham clad ruler of OZ.

Under Dorothy’s rule OZ has become a darker, more sinister place. Amy is recruited by the order of the wicked, taught magic and trained to assassinate Dorothy (and her little dog too). Unable to trust her allies Amy can only rely on herself as she is sent on her first mission.

I liked the premise of the story and how Paige took OZ and its characters and twisted them into something new but still recognisable. Dorothy Must Die ends on a cliff hanger so if you find yourself enjoying the book get the next book in the series, The Wicked Will Rise, because it starts right after the first book ends.

Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige

Recommended by Murray L, Devonport Library

Murray L enjoys horror, sci-fi, fantasy and mystery books

22 April, 2016

Failure: why science is so successful by Stuart Firestein

Failure: why science is so successful is the second book by noted biological scientist Stuart Firestein. In this book Firestein aims to de-mythologise the idealised scientific process that is often perceived by the public and explain what he sees as the true cause of sciences’ unprecedented success: failure.

Failure is not something that people automatically associate with the notion of science. With companies and governments pumping large fortunes into science in all its forms it seems if anything 'success' would be a term more appropriate or at least desired by the scientific community.

Failure: why science is so successful is quite happy to drop cold water on that notion and Firestein happily explains why in this book. He advocates with numerous examples for the messy, hit-and-miss progressive nature of science as opposed to the methodical means (scientific method) that is taught in schools.

As well as this Firestein is not afraid to take aim at corporate funding and science education and following Firestein can be as entertaining, as it is informative. Another positive is the tone of the book where science is relayed in a very easy to digest format. It's short too! Highly recommended.

Failure reads more like a set of essays compared to his previous book, Ignorance: why it drives science, though it is not necessary to get Ignorance to understand Failure (ho ho ho). I thoroughly enjoyed both, so check them out and see how science is less “Eureka!” And more “Oh, I didn’t expect that.”

Title: Failure: why science is so successful
Author: Stuart Firestein

Recommended by James W Māngere Bridge Library

James W is goin down, 2 alphabet street!  He's gonna crown, the first gir... :) . James once dreamt of being a scientist. Twice in fact! In the same week no less! He tends not to eat too much pizza so close to bedtime these days.

The underground girls of Kabul: in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

In Afghanistan, where thirteen years of ceaseless conflict has left the country’s women facing extraordinarily high rates of physical and sexual violence and almost no freedom, mothers and daughters must be creative to survive.

Jenny Nordberg’s 2013 book The underground girls of Kabul: in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan explores the phenomenon of bacha posh – Afghan girls who assume the role of boys, but revert back to womanhood at the onset of puberty.

Nordberg meets Afghan mothers like Azita, one of the rare female members of Parliament, from the rural Badghis province. Azita has changed her youngest daughter into a bacha posh named Mehran.

As a boy, Mehran is able to do everything she cannot as an Afghan girl – play freely on the streets, look people in the eye and feel that people are listening to her.

Azita herself was a bacha posh for five years, and credits her experience on the other side of the fence as giving her the courage to pursue her career as a politician.

But other bacha posh are not so lucky.

Shukria, an anaesthesiologist nurse, struggled to revert back to the restriction of womanhood after the freedom of a male childhood, and talks about how confusing and uncomfortable she found learning to be a woman.

Zahra, who at sixteen is now too old to be a bacha posh, refuses to change back to a woman and marry, instead dreaming of escaping Afghanistan for the West, where she can live freely as a male.

Nordberg shines a light on the world of Afghan women, so often hidden inside their homes and behind veils.

The underground girls of Kabul shows how even in the face of crushing repression, women continue to defy society and take their lives into their hands, in whatever ways they can.

The underground girls of Kabul: in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

Reviewed by Hannah C., Mount Albert Community Library.

Hannah C. likes reading books and hates allergies.

Sinatra by Andrew Howick

One of the largest photo collections on Frank Sinatra--a former American singer, song writer, actor, conductor and producer; one of the  best-selling music artists of all time, and an Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor.

This book lets you see an evergreen icon of American and worldwide jazz music-- how Frank Sinatra beats the times and trends, and made his own empire. His voice won over the hearts of five generations, and his popularity remains unfaded.

Meticulously selected photos accompanied by punchy commentary. The selection focuses on the period from 1943 to 1990.

The book also leads you into this entertaining genius’s contradictory world—A comedic exterior hiding a lonely soul; a generous philanthropist living a life of luxury.  

The foreword by his widow, Barbara Sinatra, is full of love and gives a vivid, personal insight into the real Frank she loved.  

You will receive amazing enjoyment when you listen to his music while reading this book. 

As Frank himself said, “May you live to be 100, and may the best voice you hear be mine”

Title: Sinatra
Author: Andrew Howick

Recommended by Honour Z, Northcote Library

Honour Z works at Northcote Library. She loves reading biographies and nonfiction in general.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons, the classic children’s holiday adventure story, is set to receive a new lease of life with a movie release this year starring Rafe Spall, Jessica Hynes and Harry Enfield. It last appeared on the big screen in 1974.

This is the first, and for my money the best, in a series of twelve books by one of the finest English children’s fiction writers of the twentieth century. I remember feeling somewhat bemused as I read the opening pages for the first time some thirty years ago, which relates a young boy “tacking” across a field in his imaginary boat as I had yet to pick up Hornblower and familiarize myself with sailing jargon.

Very soon though, I was captivated by Ransome’s prose, still some of the most beautiful writing, elegant and precise, that I have encountered. He brings to life his protagonists – John, Susan, Titty and Roger, the crew of the “Swallow”, and Nancy and Peggy, their counterparts in the “Amazon” – and creates a place of adventure and beauty in the stunning environment of England’s Lake District. Nearly ninety years after the book was published, it is still bringing tourists to the area.

I recommend this book not only to children aged nine and over who are prepared to follow an author through a more substantial storyline, but also to adults with a fondness for “old-fashioned” children’s fiction as they will enjoy the beauty of the writing and the depiction of a English countryside now largely lost.  

You can also choose to listen to the audiobook version of Swallows and Amazons or check out the e-audiobook on Borrowbox.

Author: Arthur Ransome

Reviewed by Nick K, Ranui Library

Nick K enjoys reading crime fiction, demonological adult and young adult fiction, classic children’s fiction like Arthur Ransome and picture books, especially those illustrated by Quentin Blake. He hates reality TV. 

20 April, 2016

When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi was a vibrant young neurosurgeon, who died in 2015 from cancer. Writing this courageous book helped him cope as he battled his illness and continued his lifelong search for meaning, until he died last year.

Kalanithi's parents eloped to America from India, and eventually settled into small-town Arizona. His parents were passionate about education and the boys were encouraged to read good literature which created a lifelong passion for Kalanithi. At university, he pondered the link between literature and the brain which enables it, and he explains how this interest led him into the field of neuroscience.

The story begins with Kalanithi and his wife, also a doctor, discussing his CT scan. Then he describes a little of his childhood and his path to neurosurgery. The surgical cases he includes provide an eye-opening snapshot of a neurosurgeon's experiences.

As a man in his mid-30s, Kalanithi, along with his family and friends, was forced to face up to his devastating diagnosis and to work out how they would handle it. There is no bitterness, and no holding back in his words. To help himself with the struggle, he borrowed Samuel Beckett's phrase, "I can't go on, I'll go on".

Throughout the book, he challenges himself and the reader - at what cost should we intervene medically - when is enough, enough? He never stops trying to define a 'meaningful life".

This book may force you think about death - it seems that is what Kalanithi wanted.

The epilogue is written by his wife, Lucy. It is quite beautiful.

Title:When breath becomes air
Author: Paul Kalanithi

Recommended by Judy W, Orewa Library

Judy W may appear to work as a library assistant, but in her own mind she is a top criminal defence lawyer and animal rights activist.

18 April, 2016

One-Punch Man by One and Yusuke Murata

If you love manga, and haven't heard of One-Punch Man, then you haven't lived (or been on the internet for the past year or two). Grab your cape, hold onto your hair and get ready to meet one of the most lovable heroes you'll ever read about.

Saitama is a hero for fun. Sick of his normal, boring life, and being a weak human in the face of monsters, Saitama decides to quit his job and train vigorously so that he can become a famous hero.

After losing all his feelings (and his hair) due to his strength regimen, Saitama is finally as strong as he wants to be... Maybe too strong in fact. Now able to take out any evil with a single punch, the thrill of battle has dwindled to a longing for someone who might one day put up a fight.

Along with Genos, a lovable yet powerful cyborg who becomes Saitama's disciple - not by any choice of Saitama's - and other city heroes and villains like Mumen Rider ('licence-less rider', he gets around on his heroic bicycle) and Speed o' Sound Sonic (a super-fast ninja with a terrible name), Saitama becomes a professional hero (for fun) who has to deal with the pressure of being expected to save the world and earn his hero wage... While still managing to get to the grocery sales in time to beat the rush.

A fun romp with some witty one-liners, endless anime/manga references (example: Mumen Rider is a play on the popular Japanese show Kamen Rider), awesome battles - Saitama's combo move is 'Consecutive Normal Punches' - One-Punch Man is a hilarious manga for those looking to keep their comic choices... well, comic.

We have volumes 1-5 for you to request, and have the latest English volumes on order as we speak read! (Also available online as an awesome anime!)

Title: One-Punch Man. 01 [graphic novel]
Author: One
Art by: Yusuke Murata

Recommended by Dana S, Central Library

Dana S is very happy with her full head of hair, though she does wish she could throw a good punch or two. You know, just in case real-life crazy villains came to town (and at the same time, she hopes this never happens). She is training for it by doing some boxing, but will probably never reach Saitama's level. Oh well - she can dream.

17 April, 2016

California by Edan Lepucki

The world is no longer a disposable luxury for all to enjoy. Ever so slowly the neighborhoods around you have broken down, people are looting, electricity is being cut, mother nature is not as tepid as she has always been.

The future is not promised to anyone except for those rich enough, those combative enough or those that are resourceful and brave. Enter Cal and Frida, husband and wife team, some of the few who have struck out on their own to survive in the Californian wilderness.

In this dystopian novel, the chapters alternate through the eyes of these pioneers. Each with their slanted views, both needing one another and pushing one another away. Navigating the murky frontier of the unknown.

When they come across another family, living near-by, the story is propelled forward from primitive and nostalgic to navigating a futuristic possibility of containment with a hint of George Orwell’s 1984.

 Edan Lepucki’s disturbing version of a post-apocalyptic future will leave you considering our tentative existence and the relationships in our lives that we can take for granted.

Title: California
Author: Edan Lepucki

Reviewed by Suzy D, Mt Albert Library

16 April, 2016

Blood family by Anne Fine

Blood Family
It takes all sorts to make a world, and here you meet most of them.  If you think of a spectrum of virtue the whole range is here from people who act and persevere to help someone else, to the vilest creep imaginable, plus all those in the middle - a mixture of kindness and selfishness.

Eddie has a horrible childhood, locked into just a few shabby, smelly rooms with his mother, both at the mercy of Bryce Harris.  An observant neighbour spots him and prods Social Services into action to rescue boy and mother.   His mother has been battered into idiocy but Eddie is surprisingly resilient.

The story of Eddie is told in many voices, his care worker, foster parents, adopted family...all supportive to the best of their abilities.  Eddie's voice is the clearest as first he engages with a bright and varied world and then goes totally off the rails when he receives an unexpected revelation.

Title: Blood family
Author: Anne Fine

Reviewed by Christine O.
Christine O has worked in North Shore libraries for over 20 years. She likes her fiction to be credible and her nonfiction to be accessible

15 April, 2016

The Trip: Andy Warhol's plastic fantastic cross-country adventure by Deborah Davis

This is a book about a little known road trip Andy Warhol took from New York to LA in 1963 to attend the opening of his first solo show.
Poet Gerard Malanga, filmmaker Taylor Mead and painter Wynn Chamberlain accompany him in this crazy, drug-fuelled, 5 day adventure through heartland America in a Ford Falcon.
The stack of receipts from Warhol’s archives enables Davis to follow in their footsteps as she travels Route 66 making notes about the many places they visited.
Obsessed by Hollywood and celebrity we get to see ‘60s America through the eyes of a pop-artist. Inspired by the kitsch and billboards of Route 66 Warhol said “ I don’t ever want to live anyplace where you couldn’t drive down the road and see drive-ins and giant ice cream cones and walk-in hot dogs and motel signs flashing.”
It’s a refreshing, entertaining take on the early part of Andy’s career before he became famous. His illustrating & advertising work enabled him to buy a four storied townhouse on Lexington Avenue, Manhattan at a time when most artists were struggling to get by. Davis also goes into detail about his mother Julia who lived with him. Her background and the important role she played in Andy’s life is fascinating.
I loved it. It’s a colourful time capsule and a fun trip.
Recommended by Claire S, Information Services, Central Library
Claire’s reading includes biographies, art, New Zealand and other interesting bits and pieces.

In other words by Jhumpa Lahiri; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Jhumpa Lahiri,  (Interpreter of maladies, The namesake
Unaccustomed earthThe lowland) described by the Washington Post as “one of the most intellectually elegant novelists in the world”, has written her fifth novel, though for the first time in her third language – Italian. 

Born of Indian parents, speaking Bengali for the first few years of her life, she grew up in America where English was the language of the world outside and the language in which she later gained fame as a writer. For her, (and this is revealed in several of her Indian-American characters), one’s language is essential to one’s identity and any kind of linguistic difference often creates a sense of displacement.  

So, is it because of her linguistic past that she chose a third language to fall in love with and make her very own?  

It seems that when on a visit to Italy in her twenties, the Italian language entranced her even though she couldn’t understand it. She then studied  it  for 20 years before fully immersing herself and her family in Rome in 2012. She gave up reading, writing and even speaking in English. And out of her notebooks on grammar and vocabulary, and essays on her struggles with learning the language, arose this memoir. 

The English translation mirrors the original writing on each page, which makes reading this quite an unusual experience.  

Though at times I found it a bit repetitive and self-indulgent  (how many times can you read the pronoun “I” without getting fatigued?) it is still  interesting and  gorgeously written. And if you are a lover of the musical sounds of the Italian language, or if you are a speaker yourself, and would like to read this Pulitzer prize winning novelist in Italian, then I would certainly recommend it.

Title: In other words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri; Ann Goldstein 

Reviewed by Suneeta N, Highland Park Library
Suneeta N particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.

11 April, 2016

‪The anatomy lesson : a novel by Nina Siegal‬

Amsterdam 1632, and Rembrandt has been commissioned by the Amsterdam Surgeon's Guild to paint a group portrait. This results in a painting called 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp'. The author imagines the story behind the painting. What was the life of the dead man in the painting? What were the stories of all the other characters involved? I enjoyed how seven points of view were used to tell the tale.

"The Body" is Aris Kindt, we learn of his life, how he came to be hanged and his body used for the dissection..

"The Hand" is the surgeon who is to perform the public anatomy lesson.

"The Eye" is Rembrandt who has to think of an effective way to portray the event.

"The Heart" is Flora who is carrying his child, she is trying to save him, or at least claim his body for burial.

"The Mouth" is Jan Fletchet, curio dealer and the procurer of the body for the dissection.

"The Mind" is Descartes. the philosopher who ponders the existence of the soul.

Pia, art restoration expert discovers a mystery while restoring the painting, 500 years after its commission.

The author of this book won a grant that allowed her to live in Amsterdam for a year. This is a meticulously researched, richly detailed historical novel about the day-to-day life and philosophical debates of 17th-century Amsterdam. Intelligent, imaginative, and thought-provoking, this is an intriguing read.

Author: Nina Siegal

Recommended by Anita S, Blockhouse Bay Library

Anita S reads widely and eclectically, but most often random non-fiction fact books, good general and teen fiction, (often dystopian future types), fantasy and sci-fi if they cover a new angle on something, kids books and... actually she'll take a look at most stuff. Books are great! She also loves art and illustration..

08 April, 2016

Memoirs of a Peon by Frank Sargeson

In 1931, three years after his arrest for homosexual encounters, illegal in New Zealand, Frank Sargeson took up residence in a small one-roomed hut at 14A Esmonde Road in Takapuna where he remained for the rest of his life. As the roadside sign announces, it is where “a truly New Zealand literature had its beginnings”.

Although mainly recognised as a short story writer capturing a working-class New Zealand bloke, Sargeson depicted an intellectual character in his later widely unread novel Memoirs of a Peon, bringing up his concerns over New Zealand intellectual life and the role of intellectual in the society.

A series of the novel’s fragmented episodes cover the whole range of places and people: Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, both rural and urban spaces, bohemian and upper-middle class society. It is a raw and tough environment of the 1920s provincial and puritanical country, hostile to intellectual endeavours and high culture, which can only produce a certain type of an “uncompleted” intellectual.

The protagonist, Michael Newhouse, a suburban Casanova, is a retired insurance executive recalling scholarly aspirations and sexual misadventures of his youth. The mismatch between his highbrow pursuits and bodily desires makes him a tragicomic hero rather than a fully developed round character. His trials and tribulations are narrated vividly and with a good sense of humour.  

I remember telling some hilarious episodes to my friend, while reading. Half listening, he asked if the character is gay. Oh no, he is very much into women! Then, it must be the author who is gay. Less than half a century ago, one could only imply things that hardly surprise anyone in a contemporary society. As Sargeson’s short fiction, the novel is full of hints and implications to keep the reader alert and engaged till the end.

Author: Frank Sargeson

Recommended by Maria M, Central Library

Maria M believes reading is the best way to understand other people and places. She is an avid bilingual reader who is particularly interested in New Zealand fiction.

07 April, 2016

Welcome to Night Vale : a novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

If you're familiar with the wildly popular podcast of the same name, check out this book!
Written by the podcast's creators, Welcome to Night Vale is told through the viewpoints of Jackie Fiero and Diane Crayton, both Night Vale citizens. 

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women — nineteen-year-old pawn shop owner Jackie Fiero and PTA treasurer Diane Crayton — and their two mysteries, will converge. 

The characters are wonderfully real and with a conversational writing style, it sometimes feels like they're sitting opposite you in a coffee shop, recounting the whole surreal tale. Though there is an abundance of the bizarre, the grotesque, and the supernatural, the authors manage to inject humour into their writing so it never seems overwhelming.

I really enjoyed this book. Already being a fan of the podcast, it was pretty cool to see a few of the characters explored more. Those new to the world of Night Vale will, in this book, find a compellingly written mystery that will raise goosebumps while seasoned fans will also enjoy the references to the podcast peppered into the story.

Night Vale is strange and dark and playful. Enter if you dare.

Title: Welcome to Night Vale : a novel   

Author: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor 

Recommended by Sucheta R, Grey Lynn Library

Sucheta R is based in Grey Lynn Library. When she doesn't read, she has an overflowing shelf full of books and an ever-growing to-be-read pile. When she does read, it’s two or three books at the same time: a few chapters here, a few chapters there and a few more somewhere else. Sucheta likes dystopian sci-fi, contemporary fantasy, satire, young adult and the occasional classic.

06 April, 2016

My daddy is a pretzel : yoga for parents and kids by Baron Baptiste

If you enjoy yoga and are looking for a fun way to introduce some asanas to a young reader, then this is the book for you! Internationally renowned yoga instructor, Baron Baptiste, uses a clever fiction framework to introduce nine basic yoga poses.

This story is written from the perspective of a classroom, with each child sharing what job their parent does.

The main character then refers to a yoga pose that their dad can do that relates to that particular job.

I liked the author's idea of not revealing the main character's gender. By keeping the gender ambiguous and
 also having a father as a yogi, this book can be used amongst children of both sexes.

Children will love the simple explanation of the philosophy behind each pose. This not too technical approach shows children how yoga relates to everyday life.

What really makes this book child friendly is the manner in which the award winning illustrator, Sophie Fatus, uses delightful bright coloured illustrations to show how each pose can be achieved. Her simple and effective style ensures that even the most exercise shy will attempt to try the positions shown.

As a parent, I found the author's introduction and his additional tips at the back of the book on yoga preparation and practice to be most useful.

I have used this book many times and have found that it is a fantastic way to capture the attention of curious children. This book is aimed at children, but can also be used as a simple and effective way to introduce yoga to other (older) family members.

Title: My daddy is a pretzel : yoga for parents and kids.
Author: Baron Baptiste

Recommended by Neeli G, Albany Village Library

Neeli G has an interest in health and the history of Africa. In her spare time, she drives a white van and pretends she is on a top secret mission initiated by Mma Ramotswe.

05 April, 2016

It ended badly: thirteen of the worst breakups in history by Jennifer Wright

What a hoot! Jennifer Wright gives a new spin on infamous breakups throughout history, from Ancient Rome to the golden days of Hollywood. There are thirteen of these gems, which make for perfect bedtime or waiting-for-the-bus reading.

Please note that this is not a history book- the emphasis is on making us feel better about our own break-up behaviour by showing us how much worse we could have acted, like Caroline Lamb or Norman Mailer!

It is also a wonderful showcase of Jennifer’s wit and wisdom: she really is a well-balanced human being. However, Jennifer is no Pollyanna. She is human and brave enough to love again, despite having behaved badly in her own historic breakups.  And she sounds like such a fun person to have around- the sort of person I could call and have a good laugh with after behaving badly myself.

Jennifer Wright is not so much a good writer as a magical storyteller: it is easy to forget that this is a book and that you don’t just have a really chatty, fun, clever person to share your bus stop bench with. Just remember not to chat back out loud!

It ended badly: thirteen of the worst breakups in history by Jennifer Wright.

Reviewed by Monica F, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson

Monica F is happiest in gumboots and apron, attending to her animals, harvesting her crops and making stuff. Like all truly wholesome people, she has a dark side, and enjoys nothing better than well written true crime and forensic medicine.

04 April, 2016

The good nurse : a true story of medicine, madness, and murder / Charles Graeber (book)

What is really frightening about this book is how easy it was for Charles Cullen, a qualified nurse, to work for years in the US hospital system and murder so many people.

As the story progresses, the various hospitals he worked for knew something bad was happening but chose not to investigate for fear of the consequences.

It was only when an official at the US Poisons Center was consulted that questions started to be asked. He tried to follow up a case he'd been briefed on but the hospital shut it down. Later, when an investigator came to him, he was able to help unravel the facts.

The horrifying part is that people's lives were being taken, but numerous hospitals chose to put their reputation before patient wellbeing.

A truly shocking but important read because of how it exposes the duplicity of a system where noone is overseeing the hospitals and all investigation is normally kept in-house.

Title: The good nurse : a true story of medicine, madness, and murder
Author: Charles Graeber

Clare K works at Massey Library in West Auckland. She believes that there is nothing you can't learn from a book, and the more you know the more you grow.

03 April, 2016

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (audiobook) by L.A. Meyer

This tale has it all, action, adventure and emotion. Set in late 1790’s, Mary is a poor orphan living on the streets of London when an opportunity to sign up as a ships boy aboard the HMS Dolphin arises.

Disguised as a young boy, she uses her ability to read to transform herself into Jackie and actually get away with the deception for several years, in spite of living in such close quarters on a British naval vessel. She makes the most of all her position offers and gets a shipboard education, surviving through her undoubted wit, cunning and her courage, which she doesn’t recognize, but others certainly do.

The audiobook is the perfect format for this rollicking tale, as the narrator, Katherine Kellgren, does a wonderful job of the different voices and cockney accents. She captures the emotions of the various characters and brings it all vividly to life, completely sweeping her listeners away into the world of young Jackie.

The first in the Bloody Jack series, this is a well-researched novel that flows effortlessly along. Well worth a listen, for adults as well as older children and teens.

Title: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy

Author: L.A. Meyer

Reviewed by Lynda T, East Coast Bays.

Lynda T reads anything that grabs her interest, but is particularly interested in science fiction and young adult novels.

My life in ruins: from Petra to Glenrowan: my adventures and misadventures in archaeology

At first glance, this title might sound a bit long winded, but once you start reading the book, Adam Ford will hurl you head first into the fascinating world of archaeologists and take you through a potted view of the history of civilization.

For twenty-five years, Adam Ford has embarked on expeditions to the exotic Caribbean Isles, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, his homeland of the United Kingdom and Australia. In this book, you will read of the many experiences he had working in archaeological digs in these places, the different people he meets and the varied historical and cultural significance of these lands. Adam’s choice of chapter headings is quite quirky and inventive; often revealing a smidgen more of his own personal story. Learning about Adam’s early life and the path he took to become an archaeologist was a compelling and eye-opening experience for me. The many accounts of his student years after being accepted into the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, are filled with interesting anecdotes of all the trials and obstacles he faced including heatstroke, hypothermia, walked on by camel spiders, and nearly being killed more times than he wanted. Through all of this it’s Adam’s unique voice that gives us a clear understanding of what archaeology truly means as ‘the study of our back story.’

This memoir captivated me from start to finish. What struck me the most was the drive and ambition Adam showed from a very young age to become an archaeologist. His perseverance and determination, mixed with all of his energy, enthusiasm and humour into unlocking the mysteries of the past has led him to the current successful position he holds today.
This is a great inspirational read for anyone interested in archaeology and the history of our civilization as humans!

Author: Adam Ford

Recommended by Surani R, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson

Surani R enjoys reading biographies, travelogues, some non-fiction, and loves fiction that make you laugh out loud. She also finds comfort in children's fiction with thought-provoking stories.