Hastings District Libraries

Friday, 27 May 2016

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello

I know him from the “New Wave” days when he was an angry young man. Anyone who knows the opening riff of “Pump it up” knows that Elvis Costello can create memorable music. 

Declan Patrick MacManus; or as we know him Elvis Costello, was born into a musical family.  As such this is as much a story of the father and the son. This story spends a lot of time reminiscing about his father and his musical experiences as a child. It seems to omit as much as it includes, and it’s unfortunate that sons become their fathers.

He has had an association with many different musicians and seems to remember every encounter and is always quick to credit them.

This looks a rather large volume at 675 pages but it is very readable.

Posted by The Library Cat

Catalogue link: Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Recommended reads about the Holocaust

Auschwitz: the complete guide by Perry Buck

“That’s a weird title,” said my work colleague as she brought my reserved book to me. Her tone suggested that she didn’t quite approve of my reading choice. Auschwitz: the complete guide is, as the title suggests, a guidebook to visiting Auschwitz, but it is also much more. In 1992 Perry Buck was on his OE with a friend (he’s British). 

They had been tramping in Poland when the friend suggested they visit Auschwitz. Perry was hesitant because he didn’t want to feel it was just another tourist stop. He felt that the place was too important for that. Albeit reluctant to go, he did.

Perry Buck became a journalist and travel writer. He has been to Auschwitz many times since that initial visit. His book is much more than a travel guide. The first part covers the history of Oświęcim, the town where Auschwitz came to be sited, and of Poland itself. 

The next section describes the rise of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich, leading into the invasion of Poland and the start of World War II. It describes their desire to rid Europe of Jews, and the steps they took. This section finishes with the end of the war and the aftermath. 

The third section is about Auschwitz and its continuing impact and significance. It is the fourth part that forms the travel guide, and contains valuable information and advice for planning a visit.

The final section covers other places to visit in Poland, including other death camps and Kraków.
Even though I am not planning to visit Auschwitz in the near future, if at all, the book was very interesting and informative. A must-read for anyone who does want to visit, but also for those interested in learning about the Holocaust.

My grandfather would haveshot me: a black woman discovers her family’s Nazi past by Jennifer Teege

This was the very next book on my reserves list, and what a perfect follow-on to Auschwitz: the complete guide. Perry Buck actually mentions Jennifer Teege’s book in the section about other camps in Poland.

Jennifer is a half Nigerian German woman, born in 1970. She was fostered out when a baby, but spent many weekends with her mother and her grandmother until she was officially adopted by her foster parents when she was 7. 

When in her 30s, Jennifer was looking for something on depression to read in the local library. She took a book from the shelf and was surprised to recognize the woman in the photo on the cover – it was her birth mother. She borrowed the book and read it through in one sitting, for she learnt through that book that her mother’s father was Amon Goeth, the commandant of Płaszów concentration camp. He was the commandant, played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List who liked to shoot random concentration camp prisoners from the balcony off his bedroom, while his lover, Ruth Irene Kalder, Jennifer’s beloved grandmother, lay on the bed in the room.

Jennifer tells the story of how she came to terms with her family history, and finally overcame the depression that had dogged her much of her adult life.

Two very different books on a related subject – the Holocaust. I recommend them both.

Reviewed by Jessie Moir, Hastings District Libraries

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym

If it is true that Barbara Pym reads like a 20th century Jane Austen, then No Fond Return of Love, first published in 1961, is possibly the best example. It begins when thirty-something Dulcie Manwaring attends an editor’s conference as a means to cure her misery following a broken engagement. She meets an old friend, the coolly elegant Viola Dace who has had a brief a romantic connection with one of the speakers, Aylwin Forbes.

Aylwin is astonishingly good looking, and married. Much of the book concerns Dulcie’s curiosity about Aylwin’s 'unsuitable' marriage, as well as Aylwin’s interest in Dulcie’s pretty young niece who has come to London to do a secretarial course. When Viola moves into one of Dulcie’s spare rooms, the two women plot and conjecture, unable to leave the state of Aylwin’s marriage alone.

This creates some comical scenes when Dulcie and Viola decide to snoop - actually the are more like stalkers! They attend the church where Aylwin’s brother Neville is a priest. He is also ridiculously good looking which causes issues with female parishioners. The story builds up to a showdown at the seaside hotel run by old Mrs Forbes, Aylwin’s mother.

No Fond Return of Love describes the vanishing world of disappointed women running jumble sales for the organ fund or taking on the thankless task of preparing indexes for academics. The novel is peppered with entertaining minor characters but the true hero of the book is Pym’s witty prose which kept me chuckling as I turned the pages. If you can get over the silliness of the characters, Pym's novels are charming and very entertaining.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: No Fond Return of Love

Friday, 20 May 2016

Book Club recommended reads

True Red: The life of an ex Mongrel Mob Gang Leader by Isaac Bruno

Wearing the colour red, living by the 'law of lawlessness' and having the patch with the emblem of the mighty bulldog on your back was what ex-Mongrel Mob leader Tuhoe ‘Bruno’ Isaac called being True Red. "Because all levels of society hated us we created a new society of hatred symbolised by the bulldog. Its ferocious habits were engraved on our hearts." Tuhoe says, "If you weren't a mobster you weren't worth knowing."

Non-fiction: 364.1092 ISAz (held in Stack, please ask)

Not Forgetting the Whale by John Ironmonger

When a young man washes up, naked, on the sands of St Piran, he is quickly rescued by the villagers. From the retired village doctor and the schoolteacher, to the beachcomber and the owner of the local bar, the priest's wife and the romantic novelist, they take this lost soul into their midst.

Fiction: IRO

 Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera

Caught in the middle of the struggle between two great Māori clans, Simeon, grandson of Bulibasha and Ramona, struggles with his own feelings and loyalties as the battles rage.  The book of the recent film Mahana.

NZ Fiction:  IHIz

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Zinzi has a sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit, and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confisccate her last paycheck, she's forced to take on her least favourite kind of job - missing persons.
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Science fiction/Fantasy: BEU

Recipe for Life by Nicki Pellegrino
A recipe for life should be a simple thing: love and happiness, family, friends and a little food. But life is rarely straightforward...Alice wants to make the most of life - after all, she knows how fragile it can be - and knows she never feels more alive than when she's cooking.
NZ fiction:  PELz

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

"What if a stranger is watching you sleep -and no one believes you?"

Carly Townsend has moved to Newcastle from her small, rural, childhood town hoping to escape over a decade of regret, guilt and heartache. She believes she has finally found her sanctuary, an apartment on the 4th floor of a renovated warehouse. The best part? She is finally all by herself.

Imagine Carly’s sheer terror when she wakes up on the third night to see the shadow of a man watching her sleep. The police are very attentive and helpful, fingerprinting, double checking the locks and checking for other entry points. A week later they are back again, slightly less helpful. After the 3rd late night call out the police let her know that there has never been any evidence of an intruder. She does know that wasting police time is a crime, right? If she is that desperate for attention they can give her the name of someone to talk to.

Walking the tightrope between reality and paranoia, her psychologist suggests it is all just a dream. Trying her hardest to believe this, the doubt quickly creep in again as her nocturnal visitor ups the anti. When she begins to bear the physical scars, Carly soon realises that something more sinister is going on.

Who do you turn to in a new town when you don’t know who you can trust and the Police think you are crazy?

Carly is forced to do something she has avoided for decades- take charge. Can she keep not only herself but her small group of new found friends safe from something she is not even sure is real?

This book hooked me in from the first chapter. It was read in one sitting and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! (Except when I was checking that all my doors and windows were locked) I will definitely be reading the rest of Jaye Ford’s books.

Catalogue link: Darkest Place

Posted by KC

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Anatomy of Murder

Imogen Robertson has set her Harriet Westerman/Gabriel Crowther novels at the time of George III, when Britain was at war on several fronts, particularly with the War of Independence raging in America. It is an interesting time socially as well, with the powder and patch era, and extravagance the norm among the well-to-do and dire poverty at the other end of the social scale.

As Anatomy of Murder begins, Harriet is in London because her husband, Captain James Westerman, has received a serious head injury on board his ship, after capturing a French spy. He cannot quite remember the information he has garnered, and has psychotic episodes requiring his care under a specialist doctor. Harriet’s weird anatomist pal, Gabriel Crowther, is in London too, and both are requested to examine a body found in the Thames.

The body belongs to Fitzraven, a go-between at His Majesty’s Theatre who has secured two stunning performers, an up and coming French soprano, and a mesmerising castrato. In the background, secrets are being traded and there seems to be a leak at the Admiralty.

While the story is a little slow to get going, there is a lot of fascinating background information to keep you interested, such as the theatre scene at His Majesty's plus the world of London's street urchins. Best of all are the terrific characters: determined Harriet who quickly becomes absorbed in crime solving as a way to take her mind off her husband’s illness; Crowther who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and has few social graces. Robertson has introduced a wonderful character in fortune-teller, Jocaster Bligh, who is a kind of secondary sleuth.

The story rattles along to a nail-biting ending and the criminals brought to a grim 18th century justice. Imogen Robertson has created a brilliant historical series that nicely balances historical atmosphere with a well-plotted mystery. 

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Anatomy of Murder

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Book Club Chaos

What are your book club meetings like? Every one of ours is a fun rambunctious event with a certain degree of digression onto other topics. Some even loosely related to books and reading...
We had talked last month about bringing or discussing our favourite cookbooks, particularly as it is harvesting time. I forgot, but that was ok because so did everyone else. Trying to act at least a little prepared I momentarily excused myself and dashed down to 641.852LAW to grab Digby Law's Pickle and Chutney Cookbook, aka my Bible. I've tried (successfully) many recipes in this book and highly recommend it to all. My fav would be the pickled lemons. Don't just make them to sit in the cupboard, eat them! They're great!

Dulcie May was another hit
Dulcie May Kitchen Everyday

Recommended reads from this months bunch;

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
The Nightengale by Kristen Hannah

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin
Heritage by Judy Nunn

Posted by Cookie Fan