Category: Books

Selector’s Picks #3

From Our Non-Fiction Shelves

In the media this week are two titles that have captured our attention already –

The first, Blue Blood: the inside story of the National Party in crisis by Andrea Vance, is a book for people of all political persuasions. It gives a blow by blow description of the key moments over the two years National Party lost its mojo,  and exposes what really went on behind the scenes. Entertaining, factual and well-written by political journalist with 20 years in the industry (from publishers blurb).  Jack Tame spoke with Andrea Vance about her book.

The Cereal Entrepreneur: a story of grit, courage and crunchy goodness by Kaz Staples is a story of survival. In 1997 with bills to pay the author decided to make Christmas cakes out of her home kitchen to sell at the local markets. Twenty-two years later, she sold the highly successful and sought-after cereal and snack brand, Puredelish.  Not so much a “how to” book this is a  story of ups & downs, the highs and lows, and in Kaz’s own words “… life is a miracle – there’s dark and light – you CAN survive it all and thrive through it all BUT you can’t have it all”. Listen to the full RNZ Nine to Noon interview.

What I’m reading

On a different note here are a few books I’ve enjoyed recently and a couple of new ones too that I’m looking forward to reading (they’re due out next month).

I’ve enjoyed reading Ruth Shaw’s book The Bookseller at the end of the world – it’s about a long life well  lived, about the value of leaving and then returning home, about finding the strength to survive the toughest times, and then the resilience to help others through theirs. And the importance through it all of books and reading – and Ruth’s desire to share that joy with community. I think if you read this book, you’ll be inspired and like me maybe you’ll soon be planning a trip to Lake Manapouri to visit Ruth’s wee bookshops. At times a tough read, but ultimately magical. (note: bookshops are open from late September until mid April,  so plan your trip accordingly!).

I’ve always loved Juliet Batten’s writing specifically her connection to spirit through nature. Her new book The Pomegranate Journal doesn’t disappoint. Now in her mid 70’s and facing physical decline she’s written this journal to “chart the way into her new life”.  Written in the form of journal entries some of the gems include – “pain is a symptom of transformation”; a moment of “gladness” in nature (the first dusky crimson blossoms of the pūriri tree) has the power to lift us out of a day of struggle; & the thought that coming back into the world of the young (when you’re old) is really to come full circle & it’s achievable if you stay upbeat, and engaged and make the effort to use language that breaches the age divide. This one warrants a second reading – and just maybe I’ve bought my own copy!!

Lastly, Nici Wickes’ A Quiet Kitchen is a real comfort read. Part journal/diary part recipe book the author shares her love of cooking and her experience of living solo – a consequence of lockdown (she loved it!) but also of her own life choices (Nici is happily single). She lives in Port Waikato and her book is infused with a wonderful sense of kiwiana, of the spirit of community and oh yes includes easy delicious recipes. I loved reading about Nici’s own midlife health challenges and how the love of home, cooking good food, a daily ocean swim (year round!), and being surrounded by a supportive community has nurtured her and is now allowing her to live her best most authentic life.

AND Coming Up!

There are two new titles from local authors being launched at the Central Library next month. A collection of poems and a family history. I’m excited to read them both.

Award winning local poet Tim Upperton is publishing his 3rd collection of poetry called  A Riderless Horse . It’ll be launched on Friday 12 August at 6:30pm in the Central Library. Sam Neill is a fan (say no more!) … very Palmy! 

In her first memoir My Italian destiny  Lynn Kirkland introduced the reader to the link with the Italian family who saved her father during the war. Our Italian Legacy tells of the unbroken connection of two families on opposite sides of the world and which now spans five generations. It’ll be launched at the City Library on Wednesday 17 August.

Central Library book group is back!

Do you enjoy reading and exploring new genres and different authors? Would you like to meet interesting people, talk about books, and discover some of your library’s hidden treasures? The Library Book Group offers all that and more!

The Central Library Book Group meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6pm in the Non Fiction area. We also have book groups at some of the other library locations.

There’s a different theme each month, rather than a set text. Group members can choose their own reading material, share old favourites with the group, or introduce us to new discoveries. Some examples of themes include:

  • books set in a small village or town
  • Lucky Dip – anything that jumps out at you as you’re browsing your shelves or the library’s collections.

All welcome! Come and indulge your love of books in a convivial and relaxed atmosphere.

If you have any questions, contact Nora: nora.kilpin@pncc.govt.nz

World Chocolate Day

7 July is World Chocolate Day, and we’re at the table to help you celebrate this beloved treat. From books for Children, delicious recipe books, movies from around the world, and sweet, chocolatey fiction… we’ve got some delicious options to curl up with (mug of hot chocolate compulsory, of course!)

Charlie and the chocolate factory, by Roald Dahl

Mr Willy Wonka, the most wondrous inventor in the world, opens his gates of his amazing chocolate factory to five lucky children. Gobstoppers, wriggle sweets and a river of melted chocolate delight await – Charlie needs just one Golden Ticket and these delicious treats could all be his!

Find it in the Library, plus the original (best) movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Beans to chocolate, by Sarah Ridley

Everyone loves chocolate, especially kids! This Children’s book shows you where it comes from, how it’s made and ends up on supermarket shelves. Follow the story of chocolate through the farming process to manufacturing.

Find it in the Library

A wizard’s guide to defensive baking, by T. Kingfisher

Not so much into chocolate? Prefer something a little thrilling? This is one of librarian Craig’s favourite books, described as definitely more bakery than chocolate, but it’s gorgeous!

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance. But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target.

Find it in the Library.

Whittaker’s : a passion for chocolate since 1896

Whittaker’s is a much-loved Kiwi brand and a genuine family business going back four generations. This luscious book takes a light-hearted look at the history of the business, and how the chocolate is made, and then gives a range of fully tested recipes.

Find it in the Library

Chocolate alchemy : a bean to bar primer : creating your own truffles, candies, cakes, fudge and sipping chocolates, by Kristen Hard

Feeling cheffy? This collection of 100 fresh recipes celebrates bean-to-bar chocolate from the ground up. Including a revolutionary recipe for making chocolate from scratch from cacao beans.

Find it in the Library

Chocolate, by Dom Ramsey

Chocolate is a decadent and in-depth exploration of the world’s favourite sweet treat. From cacao’s origins, trace the journey of chocolate across the globe, with tips on how to make, buy, taste, and cook with this delicious treat. With 15 indulgent recipes worthy of a chocolatier, try something delicious with Chocolate.

Find it in the Library

There’s always room for chocolate : recipes from the Chocolate Room

This curated collection of more than 80 recipes, that all chocolate lovers must have in their arsenal, features the very best versions of the most essential chocolate desserts and confections, from updated, improved classics to cult favorites. From cakes and cookies to pies and puddings, bonbons and beverages, it’s a complete guide to chocolate at home.

Find it in the Library

I quit sugar with Sarah Wilson : the ultimate chocolate cookbook, by Sarah Wilson

Are you avoiding sugar? Sarah Wilson and her IQS team taught the world to quit sugar in eight weeks. In this book Sarah incorporates her mindful, sustainable and economical practices to ditch the guilt and show how to quit sugar without also quitting chocolate.

Find it in the Library

Sweet Fiction

Avoid the kitchen with a good book! We’ve got a rollicking collection of mysteries and crime fiction with some sweet settings:

Find sweet mystery and crime fiction for Adults, or check out The Quality Street series; the story of three plucky factory girls, set against the backdrop of Britain’s beloved wrapped chocolate.

Find sweet fiction for Tamariki

Chocolat

Described as “a delicious comic fable” this film is set in a small French village where life has remained unchanged for 100 years. When a single mother and her young daughter move to rural France and open a chocolate shop – with Sunday hours – across the street from the local church, they are met with some resistance from the rigidly moral community. But as soon as the townspeople discover their delicious products, their attitudes begin to change.

Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel

As the youngest daughter, Tita is forbidden by Mexican tradition to marry. Instead, she pours all of her emotions into her delicious recipes, which she shares with readers along the way.When Tita falls in love with Pedro, he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. Unfortunately, he’s married to her sister…

Find it in the Library

Murder, She Baked

Murder, She Baked is an American/Canadian television film series, based on the mystery novels written by Joanne Fluke.

Find the full collection in the Library

Find more Joanne Fluke in the Library (for those who prefer books)

Selector’s picks #2

This time we’re hearing from Kay:

Great children’s books, be they novels, picture books or graphic novels, are some of the most complex works to write and I am in awe of anyone who attempts such a mighty task. As a Content Development Librarian selecting books for our tamariki is both a huge responsibility and a great honour and one I love. So it is with much excitement that I share with you some of the new and not so new books that have crossed my desk lately. 

Children’s Picture Books 

Evermore Dragon and Sail Away Dragon written by Barbara Joosse and illustrated by Randy Cecil. 

These two beautiful picture books simply wrap themselves around you. They are full of warmth, friendship, adventure, playfulness and belonging. The author’s play with language – the rhyming, alliteration, humour and word creation – gives a musicality to the text as it skips and dances along. The illustrations and text work in perfect harmony. Cecil’s images enhance the mood and tone of the story, further illuminating the “evermore” nature of the friendship between a young girl and a dragon. These are exceptional books in the picture book genre. 

Mine! written by Alison Green and illustrated by Sharon Rentta 

Mine! Is a hilarious and slightly wicked story of a wolf who settles a dispute between a pesky little bird and itself in a rather wolfish way. Rentta’s mostly black and white illustrations bring a rich texture to this very spirited story, enhancing both expression and action. The bright orange colouring of the pinecone – the object of the dispute – highlights both the focus and determination of the two characters to claim “Mine!” A wonderfully subversive tale. 

Sometimes I feel…: A menagerie of feelings big and small 

There have been several exceptional picture books published over the past couple of years exploring feelings and this one sits right up there with the best. This stunning picture book joyously celebrates positive feelings but equally acknowledges that we can all feel down, afraid, and sad at times. In just a few words it helps us to see that such feelings can make us “stronger,” are passing and/or remind us of humbleness. Maycock’s ink illustrations extend the text and enrich the reading experience and are so expressive it is as if they have voice. A beautifully rendered picture book to read aloud and share or to read quietly to yourself, either way you will smile with quiet contemplation with each page turn. 

Children’s Fiction – Horror stories 

The children’s horror genre has continued to mature and expand over the past 10 years or so. Humour still features strongly in many such tales to mitigate the scary stuff, giving the young reader a bit of comic relief. However, these two stories I have chosen to write about today give no such respite, they are so good but are not for the faint hearted.  

All the Better to See You written by Gina Blaxill 

Gena Blaxill employs the fairy tale ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ to frame her story with its dark, threatening forest, an old relative that lives apart from the village, a young girl in a red cloak and a wolf. But Blaxill diverts from the traditional pathway here creating a highly compelling, wonderfully scary tale steeped in tension, impending danger and subterfuge. It is one of the best children’s horror stories I have read in a long time. Read it if you dare…Highly recommended – great read-aloud, love the cover! 

The Bone Garden written by Heather Kassner 

Irrėelle lives with the constant threat of being turned to dust by her “creator”, Miss Vesper who seeks eternal life. Irrėelle, and her unlikely ally, Guy, must find a way to rid themselves of the tenacious grip of Miss Vesper if they are ever going to be free and even more critical, if they are ever going to be truly alive. Kassner has penned a highly inventive, creative read that will have young readers riveted to every page. Again, a brilliant book and read-aloud. 

I’m currently reading Skandar and the Unicorn Thief, a new book by A. F. Steadman that is attracting much attention. It’s a captivating tale with rich world building and an unconventional portrayal of unicorns. It promises to be a great read for young fantasy readers. 

Don’t forget to check out the finalists in this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults – you can find all the information about the awards, finalists, and past winners here

Also, congratulations to Katya Balen, the 2022 Yoto Carnegie Medal Winner for her book October, October. Click here to read Katya’s speech and for more information on the award. 

Ruth Ozeki

I was so excited to see last week that Ruth Ozeki won The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 for her novel The book of form and emptiness. If you are passionate about books and libraries and what really matters, this is for you.

I fell in love with Ruth’s writing when I read A tale for the time being, one of her previous novels and now one of my favourites. Her writing is thoughtful, quirky and compassionate –  highly recommended. And Ruth is a fascinating person, not only a writer but a film maker and Zen Buddhist priest.

Ozeki is the 27th winner of this prize which was established in 1996 to offset the tendency of major literary prizes to ‘overlook accomplished, challenging, important fiction by female authors’.   Check out these previous winners below (clicking on the cover takes you to our catalogue entry for that title).

Jill.

Young Adult LGBT titles

We’re testing out a new app that creates promotional images – here’s a list of LGBT-themed Young Adult books, and if you click on a cover in the image below it will take you straight to that title on our library catalogue!

Selector’s Picks

I always tell people that the most stressful part of my job as a Content Development Librarian is never having enough time to read all the amazing books I see and handle every day on the job.

My TBR pile is huge, scattered across several Living Rooms in the Fiction area. Here’s a smattering of my recommendations.

Charity Norman’s latest title, Remember me sounds very appealing with an unsolved cold case and  fraught familial relationships in a  New Zealand setting. I’ve read several others of Charity’s books and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I don’t think Patrick Gale could ever surpass his sublime 2007 novel Notes from an exhibition but I’ll read anything he writes regardless. Mother’s boy, his 17th novel apparently,  is based around the known facts of the boyhood and youth of the great Cornish poet, Charles Causley and the life of the mother who raised him singlehandedly.

For Lucinda Riley fans, The murders at Fleat House has just been released in New Zealand. As the title implies this one is a murder mystery and according to very reliable sources – it is a page-turner from beginning to end! Originally written in 2004/2005 and now published posthumously. Reserve it now.

British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak is a writer I greatly admire. Her pocket-sized non-fiction title How to stay sane in an age of division is an absolute gem. I recently read 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world and now her latest The island of missing trees is on my TBR list. Hers is a voice for the unheard, the unloved, the outcast. Listen to this recent interview with her on RNZ  – Elif Shafak: The Island of Missing Trees | RNZ

Reviews for Unsheltered by Wellington based novelist Clare Moleta have consistently been very positive so this one has found a place on my list as well – a dystopian novel where Li is searching for her eight-year-old daughter Matti, who she’s been separated from in a fire which broke out during the clearance of an unsanctioned Makecamp – a refugee settlement. Described by Elizabeth Knox as ‘extraordinarily suspenseful’.

Jill

Story time!

We have a fantastic digital resource if you are looking for some story options for kids. It is the Story Box Library. You have free use of this resource with your library card, and you can find access to from our website under the Collections tab.

A picture of a screen shot of the Digital Resources page with the Story Box Library link.

Manga books

Konnichiwa!

Did you know the Palmerston North City Library has a manga collection?

Manga is a specifically Japanese form of graphic novel, with several subgenres. Manga books read in Japanese format, ie. right to left rather than left to right. It’s a buzz! You’ll find them mostly in the Young Adult area, although some titles are in Adult Graphic Novels.

Many of these books have been made into serialised shows, or movies, or else have been adapted from shows. See: Sailor Moon; Alita, Battle Angel; Cowboy Bebop, and more.

The bulk of the Manga collection is spread between the Central Library and the Youth Space, but these books can be brought in to any branch just like other books. Simply talk to your local librarian if you’d like to see more!

Due to the episodic nature of most Manga, the series can get very large, some with more than one hundred titles. As a public library with limited space, it’s not always possible for us to hold all the titles at one time. And every so often, something will go out of print, so we aren’t able to replace a lost title. But we do our best to keep the collections up-to-date so you can enjoy them! You can reserve copies from any of our branch libraries.

If there’s a series you’d like to see that we don’t have, contact content@pncc.govt.nz and we’ll see what we can do.