29 May, 2015

Nature anatomy : the curious parts & pieces of the natural world by Julia Rothman

Julia Rothman is an author, illustrator and designer who recently released Nature Anatomy - a book about the science behind a little bit of everything.

Wanting to get back to her outdoorsy, country roots, Rothman decides to take more notice of the greenery around her (mostly parks) and learn about the nature that she had once found easy to ignore. In doing so, she created Nature Anatomy, the second of her Anatomy series (the first being Farm Anatomy, which I'm reading now) about the wonderful things happening all around us, if only we take care to look.

With simple and lovely yet effective illustrations and some quick notes to go with them (varying from what the rings in a trunk really mean to the anatomy of a honeybee), Rothman has made learning more about our world in an easy, gentle way that keeps moving right along - which I admit, made me love it even more. I've never been one for reading repetitive theoretical tomes about what makes a canyon so large, but I could read Rothman go on about holes in the ground and the differences between a brook and a stream for another fifty pages.

An absolute joy for those who don't mind a good picture accompanying their learning, and want to know just a little bit more about the grass on your lawn, the ants in your sugar, the kind of nest a sparrow builds in your letterbox when you aren't watching.

If you like this one, you are sure to like many of her others that we luckily have for you to borrow.

Title: Nature anatomy : the curious parts & pieces of the natural world
Author: Julia Rothman with John Niekrasz

Recommended by Dana S

Dana S reads a lot of manga and indie graphic novels, among other things like fantasy, general and mystery fiction as well as almost anything that has food and/or magic. She draws and animates sometimes too. Dana also writes for the blog, popculturAL, where she mostly just doesn't know how to hush up and writes passionately about how everybody should read comics. Well, they should!

28 May, 2015

Good omens: the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Part satire, part parody and completely irreverent, Good omens  a joint project between prolific English authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman  is a clever and crazy speculative novel.

According to the incredibly accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, just before dinner, to be precise. But plans for the armageddon go awry when a scatterbrained Satanic nun misplaces the Antichrist in a complex baby swapping procedure. Soon, the armies of Good and Evil start to amass, predicted omens manifest and the Four Horsemen ride their motorbikes with purpose, leaving the suave demon Crowley and the somewhat stuffy angel Aziraphale to save the world they have grown rather fond of without letting their respective sides know.

The characters are hilarious in their stereotypes yet still manage to take on a life and shape of their own that is refreshing, while the writing is easy to digest, funny and sharp with snarky prose that is characteristic of British humour and a plot that unravels like a puzzle. 

Despite its appearances, this book is surprisingly insightful. Buried beneath all the zaniness are complex themes that inspire thought, like: what is the ineffable plan for mankind? Is there only Good and Evil, or rather, just grey? Does the Antichrist have free will? Do foretold events remain predetermined even if one actively turns towards a different outcome?

This book surprised me. Despite both being highly recommended, I hadn't read much from Pratchett or Gaiman. So, while I went into Good omens expecting good things, I wasn't sure it would be my cup of tea. 

Boy, did it deliver. I ended up staying up at night to finish just one more chapter. I lugged it (it's a pretty thick book) to university so I could read it on the bus, all the while trying to keep from grinning too widely in front of strangers. I'm even considering buying a copy for my personal collection. 

If you enjoy the mysterious, the magical, and the sometimes topsy-turvy, check out Good omens.

Title: Good omens: the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch 
Author: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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.

Make and give: simple and modern crafts to brighten every day by Steph Hung and Erin Jang

I love homemade gifts, I give them and, if I’m lucky, I receive them. Lately I’ve learned that the expression on the face of the person receiving my unique handmade creation is less awe and gratitude and more like What on earth is this homemade garbage?

But, thanks to this lovely new book, I can now go from being a talentless and broke giver of homemade gifts to being awesome and generous (but still broke). For that, my crafty readers, is the whole point of giving: gifts that are thoughtful and personal yet inexpensive, something that this book has in abundance.

Some of my favourite ideas include the housewarming gifts, novelty business cards, any of the gift ideas that involve crafting with candy, and the neat ideas for packaging fancy tea and coffee or for turning fruit and veg from the farmers market into stylish gifts.

The book includes all the templates for each project as well as online sources for crafty supplies, and the authors worked at Martha Stewart Living so you can be assured that they know their awls from their X-Acto knives.

So, if you have more heart than talent check out this book and you’ll never again have to see that weird expression on your friend’s face when you give them a homemade gift.

Title: Make and give: simple and modern crafts to brighten every day

Author: Steph Hung and Erin Jang

Recommended by Louise H, Central City Library

Louise H likes reading nonfiction books, especially ones with pictures. Her super power would be either time travel or interior decorating.

27 May, 2015

Who killed Scott Guy? by Mike White

I found this book fascinating as the author has carefully woven together the story of two families-The Guys and the Macdonalds, whose lives were turned upside down, when Ewen Macdonald the son in law who was a very good farm manager at the Manawatu farm was arrested for killing his brother in law Scott Guy on 8th July 2010 They both had parents, beautiful wives and young children who were caught up in this tragedy and the case was riveting to the public.

Ewen Macdonald had also committed other violent crimes and people could not understand how an upright looking family man could have such a violent side to his persona. This made a large percentage of the public think he was quite capable of pulling the trigger.
There were no winners in this case and the question remained unanswered as to who had killed Scott Guy. This book is a good read as the author explains the legalities of our New Zealand courts in detail. It also showcases the brilliance of the defence team led by Greg King and his team, in making the jury aware of the gaps in the police case in the murder of Scott Guy.
I thought the book presented a balanced view of what really happened. The jury had to decide on the evidence that was found at the time and Ewen Macdonald was found “Not Guilty”.
Title:  Who killed Scott Guy?
Author: Mike White
Recommended by Kanchan T, Blockhouse Bay Library. I enjoy reading biographies, non-fiction and real life stories. I love to travel.

26 May, 2015

Elephant Company: the inspiring story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II by Vicki Croke

Sometimes a book introduces you to a character who is so interesting and admirable, that you wish you could be transferred across time and place to meet him. That’s how I felt when I read about Lt. Col James Howard Williams, also known as Elephant Bill.  

After serving in World War I, Elephant Bill applied for a job in Burma (now known as Myanmar), working for a company whose business was harvesting teak in the Burmese jungle using elephants to haul the logs. He was an animal lover and set out to learn everything he could about the elephants, and to improve their lives.

The descriptions of the loyalty and intelligence of the animals, and the hazardous life in the jungle with the uzis (the elephant handlers) is an amazing insight - something I will never forget. The climax of the book is the incredible story of how Elephant Bill’s favourite majestic elephant, Bandoola, leads a group being pursued by enemy troops up a steep cliff to safety. 

This is a very uplifting book about a courageous man and the animals he loved and their contribution during the Japanese occupation of Burma in World War II. It’s well written and totally heart warming, especially for animal lovers. 

Author: Vicki Croke

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. She can hardly move for the piles of books in her small house.