Friday, 17 January 2020

Wine, Books and More Book Club - December Reads

A Tapestry of Treason – Anne O’Brien
Historical fiction. Richard ll vs Henry lV. Good read, really enjoyed it. Like the way she writes.

Sworn to Silence – Linda Castillo
Loved it, couldn’t put it down and I’m only a 3rd of the way through. I never would’ve picked
up if I hadn’t come to book club, recommended to me.

It’s been a really great series and good read so far. Slow world build but finally getting an
idea of what’s going on.

The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Quite a clever book, didn’t see the end coming.

Wayward (Wayward Pines Book 2) – Blake Crouch
I didn’t see how it could be better than book one but it was! The end made you want to read
book three straight away.

The Last Town (Wayward Pines Book 3) – Blake Crouch
Not as complex as book two but more intense.Cold Granite – Stuart MacBride
Quite good. Tartan noir, set in Aberdeen. So well written.

Pig Island – Mo Hayder
Cult book. Nice twist at the end. Set as a standalone.

Confession – Martin O’Brien
French mystery. Series of books but really enjoy them. Have to be read in sequence.

The Hills Have Spies – Mercedes Lackey
Latest book in the Heralds of Valdemar series. Really enjoyed it.
Severance – Ling Ma
Set in New York then moves across America. Dystopian. 4 stars.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

App Review - Libib

Ok, confession time. I am a librarian. I work in a library with thousands of books. But I still have over 500 books… in my bedroom… I don’t have a problem…

But for real, I have had a heck of a time working out which books that I have, and which books that I need to buy to complete a series - I have literally ended up with three copies of the same book, which, apparently is a problem…

So first off, we sat down and manually entered every. single. book. into an Excel spreadsheet. Not going to lie, it took a very long time. Not ideal when you have 500+ books!

Then I found Libib. Game. Changer. This app is actually designed for large libraries - the full (paid for) version, can track up to 100,000 items, with the ability to issue to customers - but can be used for at home libraries as well - the free version supports up to 5,000 items! Might need a new story on my house if my collection gets that big!

The app is super simple to use, you just use the camera on your phone to scan the ISBN barcode on the back of the book, and it auto fills the details - Title, Author etc.

It’s not just for book collections - you could also use it to keep track of which books you have read - but also for Video Games, Movies, and Music.

Overall rating - 4 stars (there are a few things I would like it to do, but that might be user error on my part!)

Reviewed by Library Li

Friday, 3 January 2020

Tomorrow When the War Began - Netflix - produced by Michael Boughen and Tony Winley - based on the books by John Marsden

Wow. If you’ve read the books, be prepared to want to re-read them. If you’ve read the books and seen the movie, be prepared to be impressed. The books are amazing! The movie… less so, but still good! If you haven’t read the book, seen the movie OR seen the TV show, I recommend:

TV Show

The new TV show left me pleasantly surprised. The characters are true to the books (for the most part, there are a few new characters, but they are integrated into the story in such a way that I wish they were in the books). The locations used for filming are beautiful and well developed. The TV show follows the books well, moving between the differing characters and locations while keeping things in an easy to follow, chronological order. In the books, we do not learn a lot about the families of the main characters, save that they are in holding camps, guarded by the invaders. In the TV show, the parents and siblings are given screen time inside the camp, which adds another level to the perceived danger of not only them but also the group in Hell. Newer technology (cellphones etc) have been incorporated into the story - which was written before they were ubiquitous and attached to our hands day and night - in a way that makes it feel natural and actually adds to the story.

The library doesn’t have the TV show, which is available on Netflix, but we have multiple copies of the books (including audio and digital for those who prefer that), and we have the 2010 movie.

Overall - 5 stars. TW: Violence, sex, sexual assault, suicide, drinking, drugs, racism, colonisation, PTSD.

Reviewed by Library Li

Catalogue link: Tomorrow when the war began

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Finishing 2019 on a High

Hastings Library Book Chat has read, discussed and shared some amazing books this year. These are some of the books that particularly caught our attention during our last get-together for 2019.

The Trespassers by Meg Mundell
Set in the near future, this mystery/dystopian novel follows a group of strangers thrown together on a migrant ship escaping UK and a raging pandemic. Bound for Australia, the characters hope but a fresh start, but when a murder takes place and people start to fall ill, events take a darker turn. A gripping novel which gives you plenty to think about in light of recent and historic events.

How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee
Three people stranded in North Korea all from different walks of life come together as danger closes in. Their struggles for safety and attempts to leave creates a nail-biting storyline. A brilliant first novel, very original and thought-provoking.

The Flame by Leonard Cohen
A superb last collection by this master poet, song-writer and literary icon brought together with excerpts from his private notebooks, lyrics and even hand-drawn self-portraits. The kind of book that is lovely to dip into as well as a valediction to a passionate, deep and intelligent man.

The History Speech by Mark Sweet
Set in 1960s provincial New Zealand, the new Mark Sweet novel is both a coming of age story and a glimpse of the dark underbelly of the middle classes. Teenage Callum's family are enviably well-to-do but there are undercurrents of bullying, infidelity and abuse. Callum also has to deal with issues of self-identity and sexuality. Another nuanced and intelligent novel from this local author.

Madeleine by Euan Cameron
Jo Latymer's father has always refused to talk about his parents, but when he meets his French cousin, the story emerges of his grandmother, shut away in a Breton manor, as well as his long-lost grandfather told in letters and diaries.  A brilliant read about the blinkering effects of youthful idealism set during the brutal regime of Vichy France in WW2.

Aphrodite's Hat by Salley Vickers
British novelist Salley Vickers writes on the psychological effects of love in this short-story collection, throwing a light on the complex geography of the human heart. Set in Venice, Greece and Rome, as well as the UK, there's plenty of the other kind of geography too. The stories are well-written, insightful and punchy.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield
This is the story of Alice, an unlikely President's wife, whose quiet, bookish and self-contained life is overtaken by Charlie, who is destined for the White House. How can she maintain her own personality and be true to her beliefs, often which run against her husband's presidency? A complex and engaging read, inspired apparently by Laura Bush.

The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis
This book has a little bit of everything: suspense, humour, murder, family secrets and a bit of romance. When aspiring actress Charlie Carver learns of her cousin's sudden death, she flies home to her family's roadhouse near Alice Springs. Is the death really suicide? Can Charlie manage the roadhouse when her mother falls ill? Is the discovery of another woman's body connected with the death of her cousin? A great read for lovers of romantic suspense or books set in the Aussie outback.

Posted by Hastings Book Chat

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Hana's Top 10 for 2019

I’m going to divvy my top 10 of this year into five for me, and five that my kids and I have enjoyed. Share and share alike!

Top 5 for me:

Graphic novels - Late this year I found out about graphic novels too with thanks to the many suggestions and posts from fellow resident children’s and young adults librarian, Sas! I have particularly enjoyed “Giant Days, a comic about three young girls and two guys navigating their way together through their university days, and Raina Telgemeier – graphic novel queen. She wrote and illustrated a series of three graphic memoirs titled “Smile”, “Sisters” and “Guts” her latest where she details her experience of developing anxiety as a child.

Young Adult fiction –
This year I discovered that YA does not have to be read by young adults! My favourite this year was probably ‘All the bright places’ by Jennifer Niven, but I don’t like to single things out…

Young Adult non-fiction
– Just because we’ve put something in our YA section, doesn’t mean it can’t be read by anyone. If you don’t want to be seen in that area, please just place a hold on one of the books. I read at least two great YA non-fiction titles this year that I’ve recommended to customers. One I just finished reading called, “Just mercy: a true story of the fight for justice” by Bryan Stevenson. Only at the end, did I recognise the writers’ voice, as he said something he’d also said in a documentary called “13th” by Ava DuVernay. Just Mercy is an account of Bryan’s experience in the criminal justice system as a lawyer and advocate for wrongfully incarcerated people of colour, following his work and stand-out cases and clients he’s worked for, at no charge.

Non-fiction – Reading facts and learning more about the world we live in has always interested me, so when I came across this book, “Prisoners’ of Geography: ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics”, I jumped on it. It seems a bit boring at face value, but I actually learnt quite a bit about some of the historical reasons why countries and their governments do the things they do or how they got to where they are.
A second non-fiction book that I really appreciated this year is titled, “How to be calm” by Anna Barnes. A self-help book with a sky-blue cover and rounded page corners (somehow this is really complements the comforting nature of the content); it has simple reminders on each page and beautiful accompanying imagery and artwork. It’s a great book to have on hand J

Top 5 for my kids:

Puzzles – the libraries have heaps of these for kids if you haven’t found them yet. Check out the kids areas in each library. We’ve particularly enjoyed the many floor puzzles on offer, perfect for a 3 and a half year old boy.

Look and find books
– These are great books to share on your lap with one to three children. It gets a bit difficult the more you have around you, so try to keep it to two at the most. We’ve enjoyed such titles as “Where’s the poo? A pooptastic searchand find book”, “Where’s the unicorn?” and “Where’s the unicorn now?” and of course there’s always “Where’s Wally?”. It all helps with getting them to notice the small things J

Narwhal and Jelly
Narwhal and Jelly was a surprising success for all my kids, the youngest being 3. It’s a series titled Narwhal and Jelly, about a couple of unlikely friends in the sea – a Narwhal and a Jellyfish – and is full of lots of silly puns that will amuse all.
It’s found in the junior illustrated (comic book) section and we have at least one in the series at all three libraries. But be warned, they aren’t staying on the shelves for long as people have already found out about them J

The curious guide to things that aren’t
Another surprising find for me, as I thought it’d be a bit difficult for my kids to guess these things. It’s a neat guessing game that goes through the alphabet describing things that are intangible, with easily understood clues for young kids. There’s about six clues for each thing, and as the clues continue, they naturally help the reader (or listener) to correctly guess the ‘thing’. I tried this book out at an early childhood centre where the youngest were 4 and a half years of age and they were intrigued to see what the next ‘thing’ would be on the next page.

Here’s an example of a ‘thing’ and the clues for it, “This starts with the letter G. You can’t see, touch, smell, taste, or hear it, but you feel it when you try to jump… And when you swim, it seems to disappear completely. Birds and airplanes have to overcome it, and when astronauts are up in space, they don’t feel it at all…”
Can you guess what it is?

How (not) to annoy Dad
This book is hilarious! It’s like they can see into our home life, our exact conversations with the kids and have put it in picture book form with cute Koala’s as the family’s characters. Written by Dave Hughes aka ‘Hughsie’ an Australian comedian, the koala family centres around Dad and his three koala children. His day starts bright and early and is filled with all manner of thoughts, questions, observations, arguments and comments from his offspring.
Example A “Find interesting things with Dad: “Dad, look at this spiky stick. I love it! Can you carry it home for me?” with a picture of the child who has found a ginormous stick, then one page later, “Dad, I found a new stick. I don’t need that one anymore”.
Accompanying voices on this second spread are, “Look, Dad! Cockroaches! I’m going to pat them!” and “Dad, I found an amazing rock. But I dropped it. Can you help me find it?” when the groundcover is rocks.
Hard to describe sorry, you’ll just have to get it out. Luckily we have one in each library! (Sorry, I’ve still got mine on loan, it’s doing good time).

Now I realise these two top 5’s don’t entirely and succinctly add up to a “top 10”. I apologise.
The library has more than 10 for me J