27 January, 2016

Spark by Rachael Craw

Rachael Craw is here and taking New Zealand young adult literature to new levels! 

Seventeen year old Evie is a Shield, a product of a decades old experiment gone wrong who is bound by DNA to defend a Spark — who just so happens to be her best friend from certain death. 

While Evie comes to terms with her newfound abilites, she must also keep an eye out for threats that could come from anywhere, or else risk losing someone important to her.

The writing is sharp, fresh, and fast-paced, and it's a fantastic debut from a new author.

The second book in the series, Stray, is also available. 

Title: Spark
Author: Rachael Craw

Also available as an eBook

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.

26 January, 2016

American pain by John Temple

In the past, whenever I heard that some celebrity or other was addicted to painkillers, I thought it was a bit naff- not a real addiction, surely: neat brown labelled bottles containing little pills prescribed by a doctor. All legal and unfortunate and a bit silly, but nothing deadly like heroin or meth amphetamines, surely? After reading American Pain, my views have changed completely.

The book starts with the vivid description of a car accident that immediately links the actions of so-called pain clinics with their victims in a way that evokes the emotions of the reader. There is nothing naff about being attended by strangers while you die from multiple fractures, leaving the police to discover the interior of your vehicle scattered with little blue pills.

I opened the book to have a quick peek while I was walking to my car, and I finally looked up and realised that I had read the whole first chapter while standing in the car park, completely absorbed. John Temple knows how to tell a good story and the statistics in the book are mind-boggling. Every chapter elicited a "wow!" from me: the money being made, the numbers of "patients" and pills dispensed and most poignantly, the number of painkiller-related deaths.

In addition to being a gifted storyteller, John Temple has the ability to describe complicated medical and legal situations in such an uncomplicated way that they are easy to understand and discuss with others. And this is a book that you will want to discuss and share with others.

Title: American pain
Author: John Temple

Reviewed by Monica F, Orewa Library

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.

25 January, 2016

The Bridge: the complete series two

I am not one to borrow a 28 day loan DVD with three Cd’s in it at a busy time over Christmas and New Year’s holidays. I decided to take it as a customer recommended it to me. I am glad I did, as it was so interesting and I couldn’t wait till I got to the very end of this Scandinavian drama based on a bridge which connects Sweden and Denmark. There was so much I learnt by watching this series. The detectives Saga and Martin are played by accomplished actors who have performed flawlessly in their challenging roles. Saga acts like a person who has no social skills while her partner Martin the detective she works with, tries to make her aware of how to live in the real world. Both of them are good at their jobs and try to avert a major disaster at the EU summit which would have left a highly dangerous virus from infecting innocent people.

Watching this series made me find out how the two countries worked with the bridge as a connection, as it made me aware of how angry people might behave if their fears are not addressed. I also looked at the Bridge and how it was a modern masterpiece. I have requested the first series and I can’t wait to get it, though I know I am watching it the other way round.
I hope you like it, just as I did. If you are looking for something which is nail biting and full of suspense till the very end-this DVD is the answer! A big thank you to Sofia Helin who portrays Saga and Kim Bodnia who is Martin.

Title: The Bridge The complete series two 
Authors: Hans Rosenfeldt, Björn Stein, Sofia Helin, Kim Bodnia, Dag Malmberh, Ellen Hillingsø, Anders Landström, Bo Ehrhardt, Kathrine Windfeld, Morten Arnfred, Mikael Hansson, Måns Mårlind

Want to start at the beginning? Find series one here.

Reviewed by KanchanT, Blockhouse Bay Library
Kanchan T loves to read books on different topics but her recent interest has been in fast paced adventure based series DVDs.

The devil in the white city: murder, magic and madness at the fair that changed America by Erik Larson

The Paris world fair of 1889 had been a successful and glamorous occasion, topped off with the opening of the fabulous Eiffel Tower. To the delight of its citizens, Chicago was chosen to host a world fair to honour America’s history. The great Chicago fair of 1893 became known as the White City. It ran for six months and recorded 27.5 million visits.  This book describes the extraordinary efforts of the dedicated and ambitious architects who designed and supervised the massive construction.
Around the same time, evil was at work in Chicago. A charming young and handsome doctor had installed himself in a very strange hotel which he built near the fair, and was enticing women into relationships – women who seemed to disappear.  The charming Doctor H.H. Holmes, who also happened to be a serial killer, said chillingly at his confession, “I was born with the devil in me”.

I’m so glad I discovered this best-selling author – his gripping non-fiction transports the reader through time. Imagine my absolute ecstasy when I learnt that this book is soon to be made into a movie starring my favourite actor Leonardo DiCaprio.  My favourite actor and one of my favourite authors – I’ll be first through the cinema doors for this one!

Title: The devil in the white city: murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America
Author: Erik Larson

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 piles of books in her small house.

24 January, 2016

Living with intent: my somewhat messy journey to purpose, peace, and joy by Mallika Chopra

Usually when we start a new year, every one of us makes some kind of resolution; or we look back on the year that has passed and reflect on all that we experienced and achieved. This memoir chronicles Mallika Chopra’s year-long search to find more meaning, joy, and balance in her life.

In this book, we hear not just her story of growing up with her father, America’s leading self-help guru, Deepak Chopra, but also of her successes and failures, and how she inspires others through them. We read of the myriad of wisdom she gathered from leading experts such as Eckhart Tolle, Arianna Huffington and Dan Siegel to name a few. Each chapter focuses on each step of Mallika’s journey and on each piece of her INTENT plan: Incubate, Notice, Trust, Express, Nurture, and Take Action. At the end of each chapter she provides helpful and clear reflection points and practical steps that one can follow to formulate your own thoughts and create outcomes.

With every page, I found myself becoming transfixed with what Mallika had to say. Everything she spoke of resonated on a deeper level of understanding and I found myself nodding along and accepting the truth in her insights. Through her honest and simple writing, mingled with humour as she describes anecdotes from her personal life, I felt as if Mallika had written this book with someone like me in mind. My own journey in life became clearer and focused.

Mallika Chopra’s message, for me, is quite simple: Find out who you truly are and let that person’s strengths shine through and lead the way towards greater purpose and peace.

If you need a book to start a new chapter or just make some kind of change in your life this year, I recommend you read this memoir!!

Title: Living with intent: my somewhat messy journey to purpose, peace and joy
Author: Mallika Chopra

Available as an ebook and eAudiobook.

Recommended by Surani R, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson.
Surani R enjoys reading biographies, travelogues, some non-fiction, and loves fiction that makes you laugh out loud. She also finds comfort in children’s fiction with thought-provoking stories.

23 January, 2016

The pajama girls of Lambert Square by Sara Donati

The Pyjama Girls Of Lambert Square, Sara Donati
Lambert Square is the shopping centre of a South Carolina town, its heart.   There are cafes and bars, shops selling most everything that you could need and services that you could want plus residents living over their workplaces.  You would never need to leave, and that is what Julia does, she lives in pyjamas (rather classy ones) and seems never to leave Lambert Square.

John is the opposite, he is always moving on.  He buys small failing businesses, turns them 'round, sells them and moves on to the next venture. So, he comes to this town having bought a stationary shop, sight unseen. He charms the existing staff, and starts to learn about his customers. 

Both John and Julia are competent business people and there is an attraction between them but they are cautious of commitment because they realise their attitudes to place are wildly different.

There are no villains here in Lambert Square, but some characters are more likeable than others, with an interesting tension between those born and bred in Carolina and the welcome yet unsettling newcomers.

Don't be misled by the cover, these two girls in sunfrocks have nothing to do with the story.

Author: Sara Donati

Reviewed by Christine O. 

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

School-live!. 1 By Norimitsu Naihou

I ordered this book hot off the press, and am one of those people who judge by the cover. Yes, I know, this Library Assistant is crazy to ignore one of the main rules that readers should live by, but hey, I like what I like. Needless to say I didn't read the blurb either, and I'm glad I didn't.

School-live starts very normal and happy - then has a very surprising twist that I didn't see coming.
I thought it was another high school manga series, which it is, but it's not what the story I was expecting. Instead, I got zombies.

Zombies have taken control of the Earth. School-live is about four young girls who are trying to stay alive (and sane) in a high school. It shows them learning how to adapt (it made me rethink about sustainable buildings) and showed a glimpse into the human psyche.

Considering my entire zombie survival plan is to learn how to drive a truck (so I have transport and a weapon), I can’t say that mental stability is something I would have even considered when thinking about a Zombie Apocalypse, so it's really interesting to see what the girls do next. I can't wait to see how the rest of the story pans out, but for now I'll have to wait until the next volume comes out.

Title: School-live!.1
Author: Norimitsu Naihou

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.

Cutie and the Boxer directed by Zachary Heinzerling

There have been a spate of great documentaries in recent years that eschew the young and glamourous folk who usually grace the silver screen, to focus in on the lives and stories of the older generation. Recently I have been coming across a lot of these films and every time I pick one up I find myself inspired. These people quietly (or not so quietly in the case of some of the Advanced Style divas) go about their business, doing what they’ve always done and could otherwise be overlooked or forgotten if it wasn't for these great films. 

Bill Cunningham New York, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Iris, and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel are just a few of the documentaries we hold at the library that celebrate the work, wisdom, and passion of this older crowd. These are all fascinating, vivacious people who defy convention and expectations, all of them working on their respective crafts into their 80s and beyond. 

Cutie and the Boxer is one of these films. It follows the fortunes of Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohara, artists originally from Japan now living in New York City  It is now 40 years since they arrived in New York as young people to follow their dreams and make it big. Ushio and Noriko are still chasing these dreams. Ushio, once made famous for his abstract “boxing paintings” is still struggling to pay the bills with his art, while Noriko who has always supported him, is finally getting recognition as an artist in her own right. The film explores their complex, ambiguous and tumultuous relationship – to each other and to their art.

If you can recommend any other films celebrating the older generation let me know in  the comment section below!

Title: Cutie and the Boxer 
Director: Zachary Heinzerling

Recommended by Ella J, Central Library

Ella J is a library assistant who has equal amounts of time for literary masterpieces as she does for pop culture icons and is always looking out for something fresh and exciting to get her teeth into.

21 January, 2016

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

When Bonjour Tristesse was published in 1954, it became an overnight sensation. The author, 18 year old Françoise Sagan, was lauded and lambasted in equal measure by the French public.

While many were scandalised by the amorality of the novel, and its young female protagonist openly enjoying sex sans love and marriage, in other quarters Sagan was hailed as a genius and the next great French writer.

Bonjour Tristesse, a slim novel set on the sun-soaked French Riviera, tells the story of Cécile and her father, Raymond, who enjoy a life of frivolity and hedonism, accompanied by an ever-changing array of Raymond’s much younger girlfriends.

But when a friend of Cécile's late mother enters their lives (the sensible and beautiful Anne) and seems dangerously close to taming Raymond, Cécile schemes to break them up.

Bonjour Tristesse is an example of the French psychological novel, concerned not only with telling what is happening, but examining why it is happening, delving deep into character psyche.

The wealthy, beautiful disillusioned characters will appeal to fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald and J. D Salinger, while Cécile’s soapy machinations and love affair with the boy next door, Cyril, make this a perfect beach read.

Françoise Sagan’s life reads a little like one of her novels. Expelled from two separate schools when she was younger (once for a ‘lack of deep spirituality’ and once for hanging a bust of the French playwright Molière out of a window), Sagan was thrust into literary fame after the publication of Bonjour Tristesse. Over the course of her career, she published some twenty novels as well as plays, non-fiction,  essays and short stories.

Sagan’s life was marked by addiction to drugs and alcohol, and she died in 2004. She wrote her own obituary for the Dictionary of Authors, which showcases the wit and humour that appeared in all her work:

"Appeared in 1954 with a slender novel, Bonjour Tristesse, which created a scandal worldwide. Her death, after a life and a body of work that were equally pleasant and botched, was a scandal only for herself."

Title: Bonjour Tristesse; and, A certain smile
Author: Françoise Sagan

Reviewed by Hannah C, Mount Albert Library

Hannah C. enjoys fruit-infused waters and books with footnotes. 

Simply Tuesday : small-moment living in a fast-moving world. by Emily P. Freeman

Over the Christmas period I have found myself gravitating towards books that will restore my calm, sooth the frazzled soul and allow a portal into a space that is quiet and peaceful.

Often the volume of life  seems tuned to level scream with messages of buy more, faster, better, reduce, improve, emulate. I want to do the birth right of all library workers and do a  big finger to mouth  Shhhhh!

So this is my compilation of some the gems I have found over the past couple of months. If you find yourself following Gretchen Rubin’s writings on happiness and fulfillment or would like to know more about mindfulness from considered writers, these titles are very worthy.

All of these titles are written by Christian writers and avoid the woolly,  overly sweet tone that is a dominant feature of some Christian authors. Each writer included  has their own distinctive voice which is quietly compelling with a beautifully clean way of crafting words and getting to  the arteries of life.

I found each of these books  resonated deeply with me and the general flavour of one book segued effortlessly into the next.

You know that future re-readings of these books will doubtless shed new insights and yes they really are that good. So here they are, from me to you, you’re welcome!

Author: Leeana Tankersley

Author: Ann Voskamp

Reviewed by: Sue W, Central library

Sue W obeys her cats, and lives to please them. Sometimes she is allowed some free time to read, so long as she answers the service bell when it rings. 

20 January, 2016

The history of the garden in fifty tools by Bill Laws

It must be the vicarious joy in watching my mother’s pleasure in establishing gardens in her new home. That’s the only reason I can see for my current obsession with gardening books. It surely isn’t due to my gardening ability – which is nil. 

This volume fed my delight in both gardens and non-fiction books. 
It has an engaging tone, and delves into history: social, technological, political, fashion, colonialism…  It’s amazing the links gardens can make. 

A perfect read for days when its too hot / too rainy to actually do any gardening. Or, if you’re like me, and you’re best dreaming of gardens, rather than killing plants in your vain attempts to grow your own. 

Title: The history of the garden in fifty tools. 
Author: Bill Laws. 

Recommended by Annie C, Helensville Library. 

Annie C is a voracious and versatile reader, but her habitual reads are fantasy, romance, and a diverse selection of non-fiction subjects. A life-long love of children’s books, particularly picture books, helps in her day-to-day role as a children’s librarian. 

19 January, 2016

Good money by J.M. Green

Do you like your protagonists humorous, slightly flawed, authentic? Then you will enjoy Stella Hardy.

Stella is not your ordinary lead character in a crime novel. She’s not a cop, she’s not male, she’s not young and she’s not particularly attractive. Her life is a bit of a jumble with complicated relationships with friends and family. In other words, she’s human.
Somehow through her job as a social worker, Stella finds herself involved in the murder investigation of a young African migrant. At the same time her neighbour goes missing. There’s a connection somewhere and Stella is determined to find out what it is.

Set in Melbourne’s west, this crime novel shatters stereotypes (apart from a Kiwi thug) and is written in a unique, fresh voice. There’s a lot of humour and wit sprinkled through the writing and with a plot that races from Melbourne to the outback, this is an entertaining read.
J M Green is a librarian and I’m guessing has read a few stories aloud in her time - have a listen to her reading an excerpt of the book to get an idea of what you can look forward to.

This is the first book featuring Stella with a second title to come. Available in print and eBook versions, this is a great series to start following.

Title: Good money
Author: J.M. Green

Reviewed by Kathy N, Collections Development

Kathy N can’t go to sleep unless she has read a bit before turning the light off. As well as most fiction, she enjoys craft and lifestyle books to get project ideas for her rural home. She spends most of her working day buying books for Auckland Libraries.

16 January, 2016

Francis Bacon in your Blood: a Memoir by Michael Peppiatt

In 1963, at the age of 21, Michael Peppiatt met the artist Francis Bacon to interview him for a student magazine. It was the beginning of a close friendship that would continue until Bacon’s death thirty years later.

One of the greatest figurative painters of post-war Britain, Bacon’s distinctive style is often seen as grotesque and disturbing. Screaming Popes and violently distorted subjects populate his canvases which sold for millions even in his lifetime.

Peppiatt accompanies Bacon on his late night wining and dining binges throughout London and Paris (Bacon, who spent his mornings in the studio, called it his ‘gilded gutter life’) and vividly describes the events, characters and conversations he was privy to.

It is a privileged glimpse into Bacon’s daily existence and a vanished bohemia. How he managed to produce so much work after all that alcohol night after night is a miracle. He must have had the constitution of an ox!

I really enjoyed this book. Not only is it a memoir of Bacon, but it’s also the story of Michael Peppiatt and his journey as a freelance journalist. Strange how that one chance meeting defined the rest of his life.

Michael Peppiatt is an art historian, curator and writer.
His previous book on Bacon is Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma.

Title: Francis Bacon in your Blood: a Memoir.
Author: Michael Peppiatt

Recommended by Claire S, Central.

Claire S works in Information Services, Central Library. Reading interests include biographies,art, New Zealand.

15 January, 2016

M train by Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s award winning memoir Just Kids somehow struck the perfect balance between raw autobiographical candour and the affectionate, unabashed mythologizing of herself and her friends. It told of her burgeoning artistic instincts after moving to New York City, and of the people she rubbed shoulders with as she searched for her own voice. The book focused especially on her friendship (and at one point, intense love affair) with iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Her second memoir M Train takes a less linear but no less compelling approach to further reflections on Smith’s life. The difference is that Patti Smith the female author in her late sixties is very much present throughout this book. As it turns out, this legendary priestess of punk who once sang that “people have the power” is something of a hermit (understatement). She would rather stay in her apartment with her cats than mingle with friends, and she would rather sit at her tiny table in the same café drinking the same coffee and scrawling in her notebook than dine at the type of five star restaurant she can nowadays afford surrounded by other, well, people. It is during these solitary stretches in the present that the ghosts of Smith’s past - her brother, and especially her late husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith - are given the space to revisit her, and it is through these visitations that she sets down with tender care the emotional core of this new memoir. In this way these stretches of present day autobiographical solitude act as a narrative device through which to indulge the memories that most haunt her.

Then there are the visits she herself makes. Like a living ghost Smith seems to go haunting the dead more often than she associates with the living, making pilgrimages to the graves of authors like Jean Genet and Sylvia Plath among others, her trusty polaroid camera always present. These journeys in turn lead to further reflections on the huge influence literature has had on her life. The book not only balances past and present with care, but also plain prose with something more poetic and charged. Like one of her heroes Jack Kerouac, she likes to break into poetic rhapsody, often expressing her lust for life and the speed through which ideas are coursing through her with unpunctuated pile-ups of words and images. Unlike Kerouac she has developed a classic novelist’s sense of poetic timing, knowing just when to dream her way out of a long stretch of café ennui on into a moment of charged elation. It is the elation of gratitude for those she has loved and lost.

This is another fine memoir. My only word of warning is that if you’re trying to quit coffee then this is not the book for you. Patti really loves coffee.

Title: M train
Author: Patti Smith
Recommended by: by Simon C, Central Library

Simon C works in Readers Services for Auckland Libraries. His special reading interests include 19th-century French poetry and 20th-century modernist fiction. He likes to take psychogeographical walks in his spare time, sometimes not even leaving his desk to do so.

Grrrrr! by Rob Biddulph

The highly talented author and illustrator Rob Biddulph has followed up his award-winning Blown Away, a delightful tale about the perils of being a penguin with a kite, with another beautifully illustrated and cleverly written story about a bear called Fred who discovers that friends are more important than winning.

Fred, who has won the Best Bear in the Wood competition for three years running by catching more fish, hula-hooping for longer, scaring more humans and roaring louder than any other bears faces stiff competition from Boris, the new bear in town.

Fred finds that, rather than relying solely on his own abilities, there are times when you need help from your friends. In the process, he makes an unexpected new friend himself.

This is a simple but smart story, with a message that will resonate with children. The story is told with rhyming lines, adding a lyrical quality that is very appealing. Biddulph is excellent at adding in little details that add originality and memorability to the story.

The illustrations are just fantastic – Biddulph is the art director of the Observer Magazine – and guaranteed to delight and draw comment. Boris steals the show for me, with the glasses and moustache.

One test for an excellent picture book is whether you read it more often to yourself than to your child; then it becomes a guilty pleasure! Grrrrr! is definitely one of my guilty pleasures right now.

Title: Grrrrr!
Author: Rob Biddulph

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.

The little book of hangovers by Quentin Parker

This is a little pocket sized book which caught my eye, but I had to take a second look at the title.  I had assumed it was The Little Book of Hangover Cures, but no, it is The Little Book of Hangovers.

Inside it is packed with facts, recipes, tests, sayings, and ‘old wives tales’ - to inform and amuse the reader.  Many of the pages are completely black with white text, which stands out dramatically and seems appropriate for those who may be suffering from a hangover. Incidentally there are a number of spelling errors throughout (mainly letters transposed) imitating a drunk slurring words over.

In keeping with the title, the book describes various types of hangover – from The Basic to The Soul sucker, and explains how each should be cured.  But before this section though, there is the ‘Before the Hangover’ chapter in which the author describes a variety of drinking games.  Then there are the various tests to determine just how drunk you are.  Things like having to pronounce tricky words (‘preliminary’, ‘loquacious’, ‘millennium’, ‘unequivocal’) or reciting tongue twisters. Following this are ‘the myths’ of hangover cures.  Finally there are “The Recipes – Food to make you feel good”. This section provides a number of simple recipes for food and meals you might feel like when you are suffering.

This is a fun little book which is not to be taken too seriously, and as it says on the jacket ”…this book is bursting with tests, recipes and cures to help you survive the shakes, sweats and shame”.

Title: The little book of hangovers
Author: Quentin Parker
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.

13 January, 2016

Chasing the rose by Andrea Di Robilant

I want a garden full of old roses after reading this factual slow-paced botanical mystery.

The author’s four-times great-grandmother learnt about roses at the behest of Napoleon’s Josephine. A chance comment in his biography of his ancestress, Lucia, led Andrea on a hunt to solve the origins of the beautifully perfumed rose, that still grows in the grounds of his family's former estate.

Aided by a coterie of rose lovers and protectors, Andrea explores family history, local history, and rose history – all on the hunt to see whether the ‘Rosa Moceniga’ is a long-lost China rose. 

Snippets of history and relationships – long-gone and ongoing – embellish the story. The author’s coloured drawings add interest. 

But I really want a scratch-and-sniff version. And a visit to Eleonora Garlant's garden. 

A treat for lovers of history, Italy, roses, gardening…

Title: Chasing the Rose: a garden adventure in the Venetian countryside. 
Author: Andrea di Robilant.  

Recommended by Annie C, Helensville Library. 
Annie C is a voracious and versatile reader, but her habitual reads are fantasy, romance, and a diverse selection of non-fiction subjects. 

11 January, 2016

Invisible Ellen by Shari Shattuck

syndetics-lcEllen Homes chooses to be invisible, she has perfected the art of staying un-noticed and on the side-lines. She has deep rooted problems that have made her an observer of life but not much of a participant. If people don't notice her they can't hurt her, but an impulsive decision to help someone in trouble changes her life.

Temerity is blind, so she has her own challenges to face, but she embraces life to the max.  She doesn't see or care that Ellen is overweight and has a scarred face, but she does see her as a person, which to Ellen is unusual and a little uncomfortable. Meeting Temerity is just the first step in bringing Ellen out of her shell, (just a little), and no, this isn't one of those stories where the fat girl becomes skinny and gains confidence, it is a little more real than that. Ellen has real issues that she only just starts to tackle.

This is such a good book! It's funny, witty, adventurous, heartfelt, a little sad, but very real.
If you enjoy this book there is a sequel as well: Becoming Ellen, which I would also recommend as it takes Ellen further out of her shell.

Title: Invisible Ellen
Author: Shari Shattuck

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.

07 January, 2016

A drifting life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

A drifting life is an autobiographical look at the life of renowned manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. His character (named Hiroshi Katsumi in the story) deals with the struggles of becoming a manga artist in post war Japan.

A drifting life covers a great deal of the social events which Japan faced following the second world war in short asides. It also focuses on Hiroshi's own passions, such as French and American films, novels and Osamu Tezuka (author of Astro Boy, Kimba, Princess Knight etc) which affected Hiroshi’s own manga and storytelling style. Hiroshi’s personal struggles are also highlighted through personal friendship and family issues and the ongoing business, trust and loyalty issues between artists and publishers.

Hovering over this story is Hiroshi’s struggle to come to terms with his own identity as a manga artist and the identity of his genre as ‘manga’. This forms the basis for Hiroshi developing the more adult ‘gekiga’ style (think: adult graphic novels opposed to the term comic books) for which he is credited .

Never straying from its core purpose of documenting the struggles of a manga artist in a booming post war Japan, A drifting life is a wonderfully illustrated historical piece and highly recommended to those with an interest in manga and its innovators, particularly during this period.

Title: A drifting life
Author: Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Recommended by James W, Mangere Bridge Library

James W comes fully equipped with head shake and tut tutting finger. He has mastered the half back-flip.