Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 5 general fiction reads

List by Tosca

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
- Charles W. Eliot

Greetings from New Orleans! As they say in the Vieux Carre (French Quarter), how y'all doin'? Our post pic today is totally unrelated to books and all about my holiday because, hey, I can, and is of a saxophonist busking down on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal Street that I took about 2am the night we arrived. One of the many things I heart about this place. Here's a tip: never do Bourbon Street at that hour of the morning, the place really isn't at her best at that hour and, if you're a newcomer to the city (I'm not, but sibling and friend are) the smell of booze and horse manure can be a little bit much on the olfactory senses. That aside, the people, the cultures, the music, the sights, the food (dear goshness, the food - I've had gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, alligator bites, beignets mmmm) I LOVE IT HERE :)

Enough waffling from me. Back to the pleasure of reading! Read an opinion piece over at BookRiot this morning that was more than worth the read: "There's never been a better time to be a reader." Jeff talks about how even though the publishing industry is experiencing challenging times, it is, in fact, a fantastic time for readers. A couple sentences in particular make me agree: "That’s not to say we live in the best of all possible readerly worlds, just that this is the best one we’ve ever seen. Many of the forces straining the traditional book business are the same forces creating unheard-of reading possibilities." For the first time in a long time we have more choice than ever before. It's not all hearts and flowers, though. Jeff readily admits that with more choice comes new technologies that change quickly, and the issue of which particular service/device/platform to use changes just as quickly also. It's a really solid piece, but don't take my word for it - check it out yourself :) Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you agree/disagree.

Today's post is a very simple one (in contrast to my usual longwinded, rambly style intro - sorry), and is made up of our most requested general fiction reads!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

5 books shared between me and my valentine

List by Danielle

The eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.
~ Margaret Atwood

This is a shout-out for all of us out there who might not be celebrating a grand romance this Valentine's Day, but who have happy, bookish, geekish memories to treasure anyway.
Sharing books can be a real expression of love... there's the excitement you get when you stumble on something you think your sweetie will enjoy, because you know some of what ticks their fiction-lovin' boxes... the pleasure if you get it right, and they pick it up and run with it... the lingering discussions of favourite characters and plot points afterwards... the race for sequels, prequels, the author's entire back catalogue. Usually I'd end up in a queue for the library copy while he raced ahead with a stealthily purchased ebook, but he's a faster reader anyway, and he knows better than to spoiler me (though I swear he gave away at least one of the key events in A game of thrones without meaning to).
Here are just some of the books we've shared over the years.

5 types of places to eat in New Orleans for less than $20 (as recommended by New Orleans: City Guide

List by Tosca

"Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels. There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one's belt buckled."
- Frederic Raphael

This book right here? This book - New Orleans: City guide by Adam Karline and Lisa Dunford - is going to be my food bible over the next two weeks! Big words? Well, yeah, very possibly so. True words, though. On my first trip to New Orleans I did the usual tourist-y thing and visited all of the usual foodie places that came highly recommended (by, well, books, websites, tv shows, etc.). Over the weekend, though, I kinda thought I'd like to do the places that maybe tourists don't really know about, only I wasn't quite sure how to go about finding these places. Luckily (?) I'd requested a whole heapload of books about the city, and one in particular - THIS ONE! - got me thinking that maybe I turn this in to a challenge, instead. And so, being a complete dork about lists, obsessed over coming up with a process. Of sorts. What I ended up with, instead, was writing down everywhere people could eat a meal for up to $20 (lunch, breakfast or dinner). I'm not entirely sure how do-able this list is, but I'm darn sure going to have fun finding out. OH! I don't intend to try them all because, hey, impossible, but I figure I'll do as much as I can (one dish at each, even if it's just a coffee, or a beignet, MMM BEIGNET!) and, at the end of my trip, choose the 5 best. Bon appetit!

Warning: I'll be kinda/sorta posting while away (recommendations from the book, my impressions and photos), so I hope this'll be okay, otherwise you might want to avoid the blog for the next few days

Honourable mention:
  • Deli: Verti Marte, 1201 Royal Street - meals $3.50 - $8.50
  • Fried chicken: McHardy's, 1458 N Broad Street - chicken pieces per box $5
  • Grill: Clover Grill, 900 Bourbon Street - dishes $3-$8
  • Takeaway: Cajun Seafood, 1479 N Claiborne Ave - take-out meals $3-$5
  • West African: Bennachin, 1212 Royal Street - mains $8-$16
  • Italian: Central Grocery, 923 Decatur Street - sandwiches $7-$10
  • Italian: Fiorella's, 1136 Decatur Street - mains $7-$15
  • Italian: Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, 95 French Market Place - mains $8-$16
  • Italian: Mona Lisa, 1212 Royal Street - mains $9-$14


  • Monday, February 13, 2012

    5 spoilers for books, tv, film and life I'm not upset to have...umm...spoiler-ed

    List by Tosca

    "Here is the perfect book for everyone who reads the last page of a book first."
    - Robb Pearlman, Spoiler alert : Bruce Willis is dead and 399 more endings from movies, tv, books, and life

    SPOILER ALERT! If you do not enjoy spoilers of any kind then AVOID THIS POST!

    If you're more like me, and you live for spoilers, then stay a little longer. It sounds strange to say that I live for spoilers, but it's true. I quite happily nip into libraries and bookstores and flip to the last page of a book to see how it ends. And yes, I still take it home/buy it. I get so impatient for weekly episodes of any one of my current favourite shows, and jump online and read ahead. And by 'read ahead' I don't just mean finding out what happens next. I also look out for reviews, fandom opinions (haters and all), debates (that usually turn into flame wars), fanvids (some truly terrible and most really good) and, if I'm lucky enough, even cast interviews. And yes, I do the same for movies, too. I have no hang-ups whatsoever about my inability to wait and be surprised. Truth be told, even if I have read ahead/looked ahead, I am surprised when events unfold, and squeal, cry, clap and chortle as if I knew nothing. (Mostly because half the time I've forgotten what I'd read, anyway). Imagine my absolute delight, then, to find that we have a book that is all about the spoiler and nothing but the spoiler. The spoiler book to end all spoiler books. Spoilers, in fact, for everything I could ever wish to have spoiled. And, for this post, I get to pick which ones I liked/laughed at/was surprised by the most. Yay me!

    Honourable mention:
  • #240 It's Pocahontas. In space. And blue. (Avatar)
  • #62 You will not want to look at what's going on in the attic. (Flowers in the Attic)
  • #63 They look in the attic. (The Diary of Anne Frank)
  • #46 Bella marries Edward (The Twilight Saga)
  • #27 Strippers are nice to everyone
  • #15 You will like him more when he's angry (The Incredible Hulk)
  • #132 Laura Palmer was killed by her father (Twin Peaks)
  • #83 The swan dies (Swan Lake)
  • Natalie Portman dies (Black Swan)


  • Friday, February 10, 2012

    Top 5 nonfiction reads

    List by Tosca

    "Every time I write a nonfiction book I get sued."
    - Joseph Wambaugh

    I feel like I should warn you in advance that this isn't one of my bizarre 'OMG I read this book and it was so WEIRD I have to recommend it to SomebodyAnybodyEverybody because that's the way I roll' kind of posts. (And I know you know the kind I mean, and if you don't then you must be new to this blog and, well, if that's the case then I apologise in advance for your loss of innocence from this point on). Nor is it one of my more thoughtful posts. (Which, as you know, are few and far between because, hey, touchy feely isn't my style). Nope, the key word for today is 'simple' - et voilĂ , our top 5 most requested nonfiction titles!

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    5 things I did not know you could make out of books

    List by Tosca

    "It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet."
    - Kojiro Tomita

    Art is a tryst. One that seems to have taken place over and over again without me, I fear. I'm not particularly good at crafts. In fact, I'm terrible at it. I'm one of those kinds of people who has more enthusiasm than skill. Like...way more. That doesn't stop me from trying, though. I just figure that after a lifetime of glitter in uncomfortable places, hair glued together by accident (more than once), fingers jabbed by needles, a scarf with both dropped stitches and made up stitches, misshapen pickle people (don't ask!), accidentally swallowed beads and a whole host of other craft mishaps...I figure it's time to take it as a sign, and leave it to those who can do it, and do it exceptionally well. Case in point, The repurposed library: 33 craft projects that give old books new life by Lisa Occhipanti. If any book had the power to make me wish most devoutly that I was some weird kind of mashup of Martha Stewart and, darn it, someone else really famous whose name makes you go OOOHHH! that I can't think of because, hey, so *not* a crafter, it'd be this one. Occhipanti collects outdated books from library book sales and flea markets and gives them a new purpose. Some oh-so-very surprising and quite delightful. For this post I got to do little more than flip pages, admire the pretty and wishwishwish I could operate a band saw. Or a bottle of glue. Or even a ruler. Or, you know, a pencil. So, here are 5 things I did not know you could make out of books :)

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Top 5 most requested items for January 2012

    List by Tosca

    Just a quick post from me this morning for two very good reasons: it's a public holiday, and y'all probably have far more interesting things to do today instead. This post is our top 5 most requested items for January 2012! So I won't hold you up except to say that however you're choosing to celebrate Waitangi Day, I wish you a beautiful day with great friends.

    There are a few big events taking place around Auckland today:
  • Toi o Manukau Waitangi Day Family Celebrations 2012 in Sir Barry Curtis Park - this year you can expect to see Katchafire, David Dallas, Ardijah, Maisey Rika, Sons of Zion, Bella Kalolo and Foundation. And, for the first time ever, China’s number-one reggae band (only reggae band?), Long Shen Dao. I'll be there, so if you see me make sure to come up and say HI
  • The Black Seeds with dDub, Sassy and the Pocketbook - Henderson Park, Wilsher Crescent, Henderson, Auckland, 2pm-6pm
  • Manurewa Waitangi Day - Jack Shelley Field, Mountfort Park, Weymouth Road, Manurewa, 12pm-6pm. You'll see stalls, children's activities and entertainment from local talent including Sweet N Irie, One Sound, Potensity, A2J, Resample, Wicked, Pack of Maori, E12, Michael, Risnm, Unknown Peace, Khona Gray and J.Roc
  • Te Hana Te Ao Marama Waitangi Day Celebrations - Te Hana Te Ao Marama, 317 State Highway 1, Te Hana (near Wellsford). Powhiri is at 10am at the marae
  • Muriwai Waitangi Day Festival - Houghtons Bush Camp, 75 Motutara Road, Muriwai Beach, 10am-6pm. Limited number of tickets available, so do check their page for details


  • And that's it from me until Wednesday. Be safe, whanau!

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    5 Mardi Gras laws I will have no problem obeying

    Today's list is taken from New Orleans by Tom Downs (although the comments are my own)

    "Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once."
    — Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

    I love New Orleans. There isn't any one reason that I can point to and say, "I love New Orleans because of THIS!" (Although, yes, one of the reasons I adore the place is because I realised I was staying just down the road from a Banksy - the one attached to this post). It's not that kind of affection that I have. It's more that I see it for what it used to be, what it is, and what it's working to become. I have no illusions about her as a city. She is a mix of everything: dirty, rich in history, edgy, new, old, crazy, eclectic, cultural times a thousand, incredibly hopeful and ohsomuch more. She has all the quaint and faded beauty of a Southern belle, the kind who remains forever mysterious, full of secrets and eternal feminine guile. She keeps you coming back for more. It is the kind of place that can have you dancing in the street with hundreds of others one minute, and crying the next when you realise how hard they're trying to rebuild still. As a tourist, your own first world problems have no place here. I can't wait to get back there in *checks calendar* 11 days and counting and see how much has changed/is still the same/will never be the same again. I'm there during Mardi Gras (yes, again) and plan to visit a few more places I wasn't able to get to last time, eat a few more dishes I had no room for then, and meet a whole bunch of people I have never spoken to before. Mardi Gras might happen only once a year, but, really, I think that New Orleans itself is a living, breathing, lifelong Mardi Gras, as evidenced by the wild fusion of food, music, people and cultures. I predict good times! Well, good times but safe times. How safe, you say? You can see for yourself in today's post: 5 Mardi Gras laws I will have no problem obeying :)