22 December, 2014
Holly Sykes ties the story together, but narrates only at the beginning and end. Other characters who know her and narrate include a failing novelist, a corrupt and amoral university boy, a time-travelling reborn ageless doctor and Holly's own journalist husband. Through them we get the full picture of a world in which behind the human scenes, constantly reborn "Horologists" attempt to keep an increasing band of human-devouring "Anchorites" in check. These are the "Atemporals" - human-looking yet godlike in their powers of time travel, persuasion and sucking out of souls, as well as their memories of their previous incarnations.
It's not really full of weirdness - this stuff creeps up on you. It was not until the fourth of six sections that I consciously realised I was now reading sci-fi. Not my usual choice of genre but I admit this was a very exciting part of the story!
David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors ever, so I expected this book to be great. I savoured it, and enjoyed immensely, but, The Bone Clocks did not wow me to quite the same degree as Cloud Atlas or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I think perhaps that the contrasts between the sections, narrated by different characters, weren't distinct enough, and I struggled a bit (and let go) with the 'why' of the storyline. However - I am still seriously looking forward to his next book, hopefully to re-meet some of the characters again!
Title: The Bone Clocks
Author: David Mitchell
Published: London, Sceptre, 2014
With the support of her mother, stepfather and pastor, she is sent to a home to await the birth of her baby - and for a few weeks after, while a permanent home is found for her daughter. In that time she grows to love her baby, Betty Jane. And, on meeting her, briefly, so do Minka's parents.
But, it is still a secret. One she keeps close to her heart, only telling a very few people.
For nearly 80 years she holds her daughter in her heart, constantly praying that she has a good life.
On Betty Jane's 77th birthday, for the first time, Minka prays to see her daughter again.
The same day, a court order arrives at a house, unsealing a woman's adoption records.
This is a poignant, heart-warming read. A story of complete love, faith, and family. A truly lovely read.
Also available on CD, read by Pamela Klein; and as an OverDrive eBook.
Title: The waiting: the true story of a lost child, a lifetime of longing, and a miracle for a mother who never gave up.
Author: Cathy LaGrow, with Cindy Coloma.
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum.
Publication date: 2014.
20 December, 2014
Kay has produced several books of fiction, and all of these have benefited from her skills in the other genres. Her writing is lyrical; her characters always sound authentic and true, and she is a mistress of the soliloquy.
In Reality, Reality, her latest volume, most of the 15 stories are told by their main characters, in the first person. There’s a directness about this approach; readers connect right away with the stranger on the page, and are drawn into that person’s world — her reality — even though we may never learn her name. (Her name? Yes, most of Kay’s characters are women, though otherwise they are diverse: old or young, hetero or lesbian, of various ethnicities.)
Great opening lines add to the directness: every one has impact. So the unnamed narrator of ‘Bread Bin’ confides, “It’s taken me until the age of forty-nine to have really wonderful sex.” And another story, from which Kay read at the writers festival, begins, “These are not my clothes, I tell her. These are not my clothes, but she puts them on me anyway...
The first story, about a woman who lives like a reality show contestant, gives the book its title — and ‘Reality, Reality’ is apt for this whole collection. In looking at each character’s ‘reality’, we often see the very human tendency to have a limited view, to lack self-awareness... even, sometimes, to be self-deceptive or delusional. Yet rather than judgement Kay brings pathos, humour and empathy to her portrayals. We can identify with her women, even when they’re far from wise.
This author’s chosen genre of the short story and the immediacy of her style are, I think, ideal for these times, when reading is rationed and gratification must be instant. The idea of a small serving (just one piece of shortbread) hooks us in, twenty-first centurians that we are, and before we know it, we’ve devoured a plateful. Jackie Kay delivers much more than brevity, however. Like other really good short-story collections, Reality, Reality is more than the sum of its parts.
Title: Reality, Reality (ebook, book or CD)
Author: Jackie Kay
Published: Picador, UK, 2013
Title: Holidays On Ice
Author: David Sedaris
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co
- Christine, Takapuna Library
17 December, 2014
Before I’d even begun reading it I was struck by the Francesca Woodman photograph on the cover. Like the novels title (and, as it transpired, like the prose inside), the cover image contained riveting contradictions. It was both tragic and romantic, seductive and chilling. In this haunting black and white picture a woman hangs by her arms to the top of a door frame. It is hard not to think of suicide by hanging. Her face is partially hidden behind her arm. One senses she is hiding from the cameras gaze - in the process of disappearing herself. Yet the woman’s arms are shaped into half an ‘X’ - is it possible that we are not looking at an image symbolic of self-harm, of self-disappearing, but rather some kind of symbolic crucifixion of the spirit by the world that lies outside the cameras frame? And in another way there is a semblance of hope – this woman is hanging on for dear life: suspended between what is left of her existence and inevitable death, between memory and the present, between the spirit world and the physical world. She does not want to leave the physical world behind – not completely.
These multiple strains are embodied by one of the 6 narrators of this book in particular. Julia, one of 5 sisters, is the one sent away to live with a distant uncle by their increasingly dysfunctional mother. Julia is suspended between a desire to locate the identity that her banishment robbed her of, and the equally strong desire to forget about the existence of her family all together. All the sisters are, in different ways, suffering a primal ache born of this lack – the lack of a mother capable of expressing the love she does indeed have in her heavy heart; the lack of having a father who could be as much of a Dad as a rambling, promiscuous fair-weather friend; the lack of having Julia, the sister who was disappeared for reasons that are slowly, expertly revealed as the novel winds on, switching between voices, and between the varied tones and perspectives of the same pulsing, passionate, interminable sadness.
With each new chapter a different sister is introduced, and then, eventually, we meet their mother. We become privy to her haunted mind, the endless flashbacks of the good times with the father of her children (times which were never purely good), and how quickly they were outweighed by times that were purely bad. We also become cognisant of her struggle to take any responsibility for the family dysfunction, and perhaps wonder if we'd be any more capable of consciously owning the type of parental guilt that is ever-present whether you acknowledge it or not. The mother’s voice is just as mesmerising, just as conducive of that ache of empathy that a good novel leaves the reader with, and especially heart-breaking. This switching between multiple introspective voices acts to sabotage any compulsion the reader might have to stoop to judgement. What emerges is a prism of familial female sadness in the face of a mostly absent father figure. The beauty of the writing is one source of redemption. Another is the sense we are left with, at the end of the book, that Julia is still hanging on, courageously, like the woman on the cover image, for dear life.
Title: The Sad Passions
Author: Veronica Gonzalez Pena
09 December, 2014
29 November, 2014
Some of the dead are still breathing: Living in the future by Charles Bowden [Kelly, Central Library]
While writing this I discovered Charles Bowden had died in September of this year. Reading this book I never got the impression that he was an easy person or without fault. I wondered if he was looking for redemption through the pen.
Here’s a video of him speaking about writing and life and what’s important:
Title: Some of the dead are still breathing: Living in the future
Author: Charles Bowden
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
28 November, 2014
Douglas is happy with the arrangement until Connie wakes him one night to tell him that she "thinks" that she wants to leave him! She hasn't decided when but is determined that the tour must go on. Douglas is both perplexed and distraught and hatches a plan to change Connie's mind by making the holiday romantic and unforgettable.
Not surprisingly, things don't work out quite as Douglas had hoped. The novel continues with flashbacks to the early days of his life with the flamboyant Connie, an unlikely match for this rather grey and serious man, while he travels across Europe frantically searching for Albie, who has deserted his parents mid-tour in Amsterdam.
Nicholls' latest offering was long-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize. Personally, I felt that it lacked any "wow" factor. It was best described by one reviewer as "a quiet joy, written with an undemonstrative simplicity that is hard to achieve". Worth reading nonetheless.
Author: David Nicholls
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London
27 November, 2014
I found the characters slow to warm to (no pun intended, though much of this story takes place in vividly-described below-freezing temperatures), particularly the three unlikeable 'friends' in the Westfjords house. Characters gave up their histories piece by piece, and the relationships between them became gradually clearer over the course of the book. Isolation by nature or by choice was a common thread; many of the characters had been abandoned by others in various ways.
As the paranormal activity grows in the two parallel stories, the suspense and unease heighten and there are some genuinely scary moments that made me reluctant to go down our dark hallway at night... The freezing temperatures of the Westfjords make them a great setting for a story like this, where the landscape is almost more lethal than the unnatural threats haunting the old house. I really enjoyed the baffling hints at deeper connections between events in the Isafjordur story, which kept me guessing until the end. The only complaint I had about this story was the very last page, which seemed like an annoyingly traditional 'horror' ending that undid some of the satisfying journeys the characters had been on for the rest of the book. Otherwise - very creepy, and a neat way to learn about a country I know very little about, too.
Title: I remember you: a ghost story
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Published: New York City, 2014
All of their family are dead, poisoned six years earlier at dinner, by person(s) and for reasons unknown. Constance was charged and acquitted of the murders, and Uncle Julian survived. Merricat, sent to bed that fateful night, escaped harm. The three now live together in a huge and creepy gracious home, feared and ridiculed by people in the nearby village. They reluctantly accept the few visitors who come to them, but on the whole deal with the world only when absolutely necessary. Until one day, moon-faced cousin Charles, seeking to steal the family fortune, forces his company into their midst. This precipitates stranger and stranger behaviour from Merricat and Uncle Julian - neither who like Charles one iota. Something has to give in these circumstances.
This is such an atmospheric story, so slowly teased out, with Merricat as narrator. Her reliability as she recounts events and her own feelings is certain, although her reasoning is often unclear. She creates a feeling of mystery and tension which you will be compelled to follow as far as you can.
Published first in 1962, this is a classic.
Title: We have always lived in the castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: Originally 1962. New edition: Penguin Books, New York , 2006.
26 November, 2014
Backyard Building: Treehouses, Sheds, Arbors, Gates and Other Garden Projects by Jeanie and David Stiles [Louise, Central Library]
My previous building experience amounts to haphazardly bashing nails into small planks of wood at kindergarten, but never mind that. I’m totally on my way to going full-Thoreau and becoming one with the wilderness because I’ve just read Backyard Building. I am now, pretty much, just a trip to Bunnings away from having mad Robinson Crusoe-type skills.
I mean, the real challenge is deciding which project to choose first. This book has instructions for two dozen projects, including four different and customizable treehouses (and that’s not even counting the playhouses!) And with such bold assertions as “you can order a single-sash or barn window from your lumberyard, but it’s easy to make your own” it gives me real hope for my backyard.
With lists of necessary supplies for each project, thorough step-by-step how-to’s and lots of bonus building tips, they make it all look so darn easy. The accompanying colour illustrations by co-author David Stiles are clear and full of detail and (can I say this about a book about building?) really cute. They look like they’re out of some cool comic book, and the illustrations are supported by photos of the projects in real life.
They even include some advanced projects: timber-framed house or artist’s studio, anyone? Talk about the stuff of dreams! It’s like they looked into my head and then made my room-of-her-own dreams out of wood. (I should just point out that the measurements are all in feet and inches, which is slightly inconvenient, and there are a few Americanisms but nothing that can’t be easily translated into New Zild. Practicalities, la la la...)
Backyard Building is a coffee table book for the table you DIYed yourself (yes, I know what the Y in DIY stands for). Live the dream!
Author: Jeanie & David Stiles ; designs and illustrations by David Stiles.
ISBN: 9781581572384 (paperback)
Publisher: Woodstock, Vermont : The Countryman Press, 
The affection its many fans feel is shared by its cast, as evidenced by Cary Elwes' mini-memoir. The movie appears to have been made in a spirit of generosity and love that seeps off the screen and into the watchers' hearts.
With quotations from other cast members, Cary lets his colleagues share the limelight.
I now want to re-watch it, to see if I can spot scenes mentioned in the book. And, I love Andre even more.
A delight to read, it will only take a few hours to immerse yourself into the magical world of The princess bride.
If you, too, need to revisit Florin, you can borrow the DVD from the library, or you can borrow the book (in print, as an eBook, or download and listen to the eAudiobook version).
~ Annie, Helensville Library.
Title: As you wish: inconceivable tales from the making of 'The princess bride'
Author: Cary Elwes
23 November, 2014
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed by Michelle Knight with Michelle Burford. [Judy, Orewa Library]
Months after Michelle was taken, Castro also abducted Amanda Berry and later, Gina Dejesus. The three women and Amanda's young daughter (Castro's daughter) escaped in 2013, making worldwide headlines.
Michelle's story, told in her own words, is heart-breaking and harrowing but the book left me stunned at her courage, her ability to endure such severe trauma for so long. By the end of the story the admiration I felt for Michelle was so strong that it far outweighed the revulsion I felt for her captor. I'm happy to say that Michelle now has the help and support she so deserves. Her message is that we must never forget the people who are lost, and that we need to always look out for each other.
- Judy, Orewa Library
Title: Finding Me
Author: Michelle Knight
21 November, 2014
19 November, 2014
Spectrum 20: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art 20th Anniversary Volume [Nick, Central City Library]
Title: Spectrum 20: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art
Author: Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner
ISBN: 9781599290676 (pbk.)
Publisher: Underwood Books
16 November, 2014
I always enjoy a good triumph over adversity story, and this book doesn't disappoint. It also illuminates a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history.
17 year old Molly is living an uneasy existence in a foster home, not accepted or trusted by her foster mum. Circumstances mean she has to do community service, and this is how she meets Vivien (age 91), a well off old lady living in a large house who needs her attic sorted. Each box full of items means something to Vivien, and as her story unfolds we find out the significance of each one.
Vivien is a survivor of the poverty of Ireland, was an immigrant living in New York at age seven, then after she loses her family at age nine, is sent on an orphan train to the Midwest to be 'adopted'. This leads to challenging times for the young girl as she has to adjust to different situations as she is passed on from family to family as each turn of events dictates.
The narrative interweaves the stories of both main characters - past and present. The connections between their two lives are clear in this absorbing back and forward story. This is an account of resilience, the struggle to transcend a past of hardship and isolation, and the yearning for belonging and acceptance.
This is compulsive reading, a poignant story about two likeable characters who become unlikely friends, and help each other in the process. Highly recommended.
Title: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
ISBN: 9780061950728 (pbk.)
Publisher: New York : William Morrow
13 November, 2014
- George Saunders, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
The stories of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline are set in a bleak dystopian America. Saunders’ characters are tragic figures - alienated, ridiculed and inept.
They’re stuck in terrible situations that only get worse. Horrible events are happening all around them - slavery, child murder, horrific mutations. It’s all very grim. But to solely characterise Saunders’ work in this way would be misleading. The stories of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline are also full of empathy and humour. Saunders is a master of tone; his prose nimbly jumps from the tragic to the hilarious within the space of a paragraph. Saunders finds humour in his characters darkest moments, but never forsakes them.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline is a stunningly consistent collection of short stories and an excellent introduction to one of contemporary America’s most talented writers.
Title: CivilWarlLand in Bad Decline
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Riverhead Books
11 November, 2014
She’s not too worried, and continues on to the hut to wait until the river subsides. She hasn't been there long when she discovers a man sheltering in a nearby shed. He says he was bushwalking up the mountain and injured himself walking to find phone reception. Sarah’s not sure if she can trust him or not, and when her gun goes missing, she begins to wonder just how safe she is.
The relationship between Sarah and Heath, the bushwalker, develops in the time they are forced to spend together and despite her suspicions, Sarah finds she is attracted to this man.
It’s one of those stories that has the classic thriller format of revealing things gradually, so it’s hard to put down as you want to discover more about the mysterious Heath. A sudden development sets the scene for the last few chapters of the book – totally unexpected, and one of the best twists I've read.
It's very atmospheric, both in the intensity of the plot, and in the descriptions of the Australian bush landscape and the menacing weather that has put them in this situation.
If you're heading off tramping these Christmas holidays, maybe read it when you get back home!
Title: Dark Horse
Author: Honey Brown
Publisher: Michael Joseph Australia
10 November, 2014
The story starts one night at the Oresund Bridge – the huge impressive structure and motorway that links Sweden and Denmark – when the lighting on the central section suddenly goes out. On investigation a woman’s body is found lying exactly across the border. And so both countries become involved; Saga Noren from the Swedish police (played by Sofia Helin), and her Danish counterpart, Martin Rohde (Kim Bodna).
Don't die with your music still in you: a daughter's response to her father's wisdom by Serena Dyer [Surani, Waitakere Central library]
If anyone reading this post hasn't heard of Wayne W. Dyer, then stop right now! You need to go and read up about this amazing man to continue and read this inspirational tome written by his daughter Serena.
Serena has lived her whole life hearing her father say "don't die with your music still in you" and a myriad of other principles that center on his many best-selling self-help books. This particular book that Serena has written is a sort of response to an earlier book of Wayne's which he wrote in 2001 called '10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace'. She reflects on each of the ten secrets that Wayne talks about and conveys to us her own experiences and how they affected her life. We can read stories of growing up in the Dyer household with two very spiritual parents.
What is unique about this book is that after each chapter that Serena has written, Wayne has added his own perspective on the same secret. It is a magnificent example of collaboration between father and daughter for everyone to find the 'music' inside them!
I don't usually boast about the fact that I read almost every self-help book out there, but this book will now sit at the top of the best books in this category for me. It is a very easy read and you'll find yourself laughing and crying at the same time to most of the stories that Serena shares about her family.
A truly wonderful and inspirational book for anyone who is looking for clarity and that special 'music' in their lives!!
Title: Don't die with your music still in you: a daughter's response to her father's wisdom
Author: Serena Dyer
Publisher: Australia: Hay House
05 November, 2014
I quit sugar for life: your fad free wholefood wellness code and cookbook by Sarah Wilson [Emma, Birkenhead]
My experiments in giving up sugar got me interested in this subject and this book looked interesting because I wanted to see how Sarah Wilson advised stopping sugar, and keeping stopped, in daily life. I wanted new recipes to inspire me.
Sarah Wilson's approach is fairly radical for someone like me. She advises giving up everything sweet - even fruit - for two months. This is to "re-calibrate" your taste and your system into not wanting the sugar flavour or effect. She advises cutting out all fructose, this includes that found in fruit - bananas are half fructose for example.
However although a couple of crackers and a cucumber might sustain her on a hike, I doubt a labourer would find that very helpful. Also, apart from the fact I'm not yet personally ready to give up fruit, lots of the ingredients are expensive or hard to source - proteins such as nuts, "special" stuff such as quinoa and chia seeds...and stevia or rice malt syrup in half the recipes in the book! Stevia is a plant-based sweetener, I found it in the bulk bin shop for about $30. You only use a bit, but why bother? It is surely very refined, and that goes against my grain. Unfortunately this cut out many of the recipes, and many other recipes were meaty, so not for me, but others may like them.
While I disagreed with some things, on the whole I liked her approach fine - be mindful, chose organic where possible, minimise waste and eat wholefoods. Exercise and drink plenty of water are a subtext. I found her discussions on nutrition not very comprehensive. I would recommend Dr Libby Weaver's The Calorie Fallacy for a better holistic discussion of nutrition and of the physiological benefits of cutting sugar.
Title: I quit sugar for life: your fad-free wholefood welness code and cookbook
Author: Sarah Wilson
Published: 2014, Macmillan, Sydney, N.S.W.
03 November, 2014
There was something about this case, however, that affected her more deeply so that she made the unusual decision to visit the hospital to meet the boy before making her judgement.
In the background of the legal stories runs the tale of Fiona's personal life. Married for 30 years, her husband Jack shatters her day with the announcement that he needs to have an affair-he feels that they have become more siblings than lovers. He wants one last go at "Ecstasy, almost blacking out with the thrill of it".
Fiona meets Adam, the beautiful boy in the hospital, and they form a strong bond. She reaches the decision to overrule his wishes and those of his parents, all in the name of his welfare. She is satisfied with her judgement and believes that she has persuaded Adam that this is the right way forward for him.
I recommend that you read this book to discover the consequences of her decision and the effects on the lives of both Adam and Fiona. Yet again Ian McEwan does not disappoint.
Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan
London, Jonathan Cape 2014
The book is divided into sections headed “encounters with …” and the topics cover the Ocean, nature, travel, people, history, and yourself. The 1014 places are each detailed in a short paragraph, sometimes with a photograph, and are contained in a chapter - such as Great beaches, Architecture, Convict heritage, Vineyards. So you can go to ‘Journeys by Rail’, and find fifteen special rail journeys from all over Australia. Each has a name, the location and state, and 50-200 words describing what is special about it and why it is on the list.
This is not a travel guide like most others, where you look up a region and find out all the things to see, etc. If you want to make use of it like that you need to know the names of the locations and look them up in the index.
The benefit of this book is that it provides good points of interest to start from. You can flick through it, find some interesting articles and think ‘I’d like to see that”. It is very well researched, has a really broad range of topics, great photographs, and after using it you get a good insight into the real Australia.
Title: 1014 places to see and do in Australia
Author: Bruce Elder
Published: Chastwood, N.S.W.: New Holland, 2014
31 October, 2014
Eight years ago he spotted a dilapidated Liteweight in a field. He bought it and restored it. His passion for vintage caravans was rekindled.
The interest in retro caravans is not just a kiwi thing but a world wide phenomenon. Some don’t even get to travel after they’ve been renovated but are used instead as backyard sleepouts, studios ,offices etc. It’s a great way of gaining an extra room.
Over three years the author has chased down caravans and their owners and put together this wonderful collection of photos and stories.
This is a book that will bring back memories of summer holidays for many baby-boomers. (If only we’d hung on to that old caravan!)
Some of the original finds are shown before and after their makeovers. The transformations are amazing. The interior restorations are immaculate. Some have been restored to their original vintage specifications while others have used their imaginations and created their own retro feel.
Some owners have even painted the caravan’s exterior to match their retro cars. Wow! Now that I’ve seen all the variations I can only say one thing ….. “I want one!”
Title: Retro caravans : vantastic Kiwi collections
Author: Don Jessen
Publisher: Auckland, New Zealand: David Bateman Ltd, 2014
30 October, 2014
The post-apocalyptic landscape photographs collected in Rebecca Litchfield’s book Soviet Ghosts constitute a hauntingly beautiful ode to death and decay, arousing in me a voyeuristic fascination. Here, desolated and disintegrating buildings, their interiors wreathed in pealing plaster, function as “galleries of cultural memory, exhibiting the social detritus of a recent civilization”.
The unnatural absence of people amidst the abundant evidence of their once industrious activity and everyday lives conjures an eerie silence, a vacuum, while the accompanying essays wax lyrical; "The lack of life, the presence of absence in this body of work, creeps across every page" and "It is the recognition of emptiness in these spaces that adds to their power. The more one turns the pages, the more the desolation becomes shockingly apparent, a lack of life that laments the exodus of the living".
These ruins resonate with a melancholic nostalgia, with poetic sentiment that harks for a turn of phrase; In the gathering dust a child’s doll rests, here a hat perches on the edge of a chair, and broken windows gaze somnolently out on wild urban prairies, on burgeoning forests that crowd in against mans intrusion, everywhere the sublime in nature, and everywhere the entropic passage of time casts its pall in wonderfully textured patterns of corrosion and colour.
The text elucidates expertly on the underlying aesthetic theory "Many of the photographs are what in German would be described as unheimlich, a term derived from Freud’s musing upon aesthetics and translated loosely as ‘uncanny’. It describes a feeling of unease in a familiar setting, or might also suggest a hidden secret that is not known. Far from being just documentary in form, the unheimlich in the aesthetic of decay breathes life into the inanimate, an existence not measured in its lifetime but recognised through its decomposition in death. For it is here and now that it finds its true significance, where the mundane becomes an object of beauty."
For me, the photographs evoke a contemplative intimation of the void, what Daniel Pinchbeck describes as, "that vast garbage heap of all that is unknown and forgotten — that empty maw into which all celebrated enterprises eventually follow". Everywhere the fragility and fleetingness of human existence is made visible, while offering an unsettling presentiment about the ideological master narratives that animate our own lives, the closeness is almost suffocating, post-society, post-human, post-life. In this context Susan Sontag’s famous commentary on photography offers a grave literality "To take a photograph is to participate in another person (or things) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to times relentless melt".
Title: Soviet Ghosts
Author: Rebecca Litchfield; written by Tristi Brownett, Neill Cockwill, Owen Evans.
Publisher: Great Britain, Carpet Bombing Culture 2014
29 October, 2014
This book gives you a real sense of the possibilities for knitwear, whether it’s sculptural or slouchy, casual or conceptual: some of the world’s most interesting and talented fashion designers are creating garments with knitting needles, knitting machines, macramé and crochet.
Daniel Palillo from Finland does cartoony, roomy sweatshirt dresses in jersey and might just be the first designer to make high fashion onesies. Julien MacDonald, who once worked with Alexander McQueen, does intricate, lacy and sexy knitwear (yes! sexy knitwear! it’s a thing!) Tilda Swinton in a cashmere and silk top by Scottish brand Pringle is a practically perfect combo. And a book about knitwear wouldn’t be complete without Italian fashion house Missoni’s distinctive wavy patterns for artful clashing in body-conscious shapes.
This book’s beautiful soft photography gives you such a real sense of texture you may find yourself stroking the pages. (No? Just me? Ok then.)
Whether you’re a knitter yourself, a follower of fashion, or you just like looking at lovely books about clothes: get your cat to make you a Milo and curl up with this book. It’ll keep you cosy even if the jumper you’re wearing is 100% acrylic.
Title: Fashion Knitwear
Author: Jenny Udale
Publisher: London : Laurence King Publishing, 2014
Captain Hook – nefarious pirate and comic villain. That’s the man we grew up with thanks to Barrie’s Peter Pan – or, more likely, the Disney version. In Lisa Jensen’s reimagined Neverland, we meet James Benjamin Hookbridge, an embittered man who became more than lost but, like Pan’s Lost Boys, has not grown up. Trapped in Neverland for centuries, Hook has railed against his fate and watched his men die at the hands of Pan and the Boys, something he cannot do. For the first time, a grown woman has appeared in Neverland – much against Peter Pan’s wishes. This may be Hook’s chance to leave.
Retaining the charm of the original, this tale is wonderfully lush and magical – in only the way a true quest / love story can be. With sexual content and violence, this is not a Peter Pan tale for children.
Title: Alias Hook.
Author: Lisa Jensen.
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books / St Martin's Press.
24 October, 2014
Interwoven into this narrative is the story of a younger Changez, the economic analyst specialising in corporate downsizing, living the capitalist dream in New York and very much in love with an American artist. Then the Twin Towers are attacked and the subsequent cultural divide that cracks the city, changes him. As people of his colour and background come to be mistrusted, he reconsiders his loyalties and while his brand of “fundamentalism” appears rather vague, he reassesses his life choices and goes back to Pakistan.
23 October, 2014
19 October, 2014
Each procedure cycles her through the three different times and in each she makes decisions that have an affect on that particular life, and as the story unwinds we realise that the alternate Gretas are also making their own decisions that will affect her life. Basically they inhabit each other bodies rather than physically jump to each time period.
Interesting was how Felix's stories provide an exploration of the limited choices available to gay people throughout history. Of course the modern Greta knows her brother is gay and encourages him to make choices which are true to himself. What was a bit weak was that the Gretas did not seem to think overly much on how their actions would impact on each other. There could also have been more details to flesh out the time periods but the overall premise of the story is satisfying, and this book will keep you reading to the end, after all you must find out which life will each Greta choose to stay in?
13 October, 2014
11 October, 2014
I like that Atwood has themed these nine interrelated tales around death. You know its going to be given extra special treatment. I think your experience of reading these stories will differ according to how familiar you are with her work. Atwood has writing has crossed literary genres shape shifting and evading attempts to neatly sum her up.
Maybe you are an avid follower and read each and every one of her offerings. Or maybe you pick the texts that most appeal to your reading taste. Alternatively, maybe you are an Atwood newbie and this is your first tasting. (Where on earth have you been to not have read anything of hers prior??)
Whatever your experience you will enjoy the wicked sense of humour, you will enjoy the subversive streak and her nod to previous works. There is definitely something here for everyone, especially the first timer. What joys await if this is your first taste of Atwood, to look for more and discover all the splendid choices for you to follow up.
Title: Stone Mattress. Nine Tales
Author: Margaret Atwood
publisher:London: Bloomsbury, 2014.
04 October, 2014
The text refers throughout to historical sources such as letters, documents, and photographs (many are reproduced in the book). The pictures tell a thousand words, and I have looked at them over and over again. But the words are also interesting.
I have seen criticism that Peter Wells puts too much of himself into his writing and that he is facetious at times, but I disagree. I liked his conjecture on how people might feel and I liked his portrayals of Te Rau and Völkner, his placing in context of the events, and his depiction of other strong personalities involved such as William Colenso (who is a favourite of mine anyway), Bishop William Williams, and Sister Mary Aubert. I also liked the way he brought minor characters into the narrative, such as Te Rau's gaoler, shepherd David Balfour and the Burrton family who lost a child the summer of Te Rau's trial. These things are the fabric of life and they brought the times alive. Wells also put himself into the picture, as he reflected on his own thoughts and feeling about the characters. This makes his book seem more than a historical account - at times you could be reading a novel, or a memoir. It skipped to the present, as Wells visited the places where things actually happened and described the spirits of the past impacting and intruding onto our present.
Title: Journey to a hanging
Author: Peter Wells
Published: 2014; Random House, Auckland, New Zealand
Title: Hard Country: a Golden Bay life
Author: Robin Robilliard
Published: Auckland, Random House New Zealand, 2014