Friday, March 30, 2012

5 titles that'll either make me detest - or like - Bob Dylan even more

"A poem is a naked person...Some people say that I am a poet."
- Bob Dylan

I've been listening to Bob Dylan's self-titled début album, which was released 19 March 1962. If I had to choose three words to sum up his voice and lyrics, they'd be these: Sparse. Raw. Evocative. Two weeks ago, I would have said: Irritating. Overrated. Nasal. What prompted this about face? Just the other week I realised that Bob Dylan released his début album 50 years ago. I was equal parts impressed and confused. Impressed because his appeal has lasted so long and had such a huge impact on the music industry. Confused because I don't understand why or how. I don't really know anything about the man, his music or his life. In fact, here's a confession coming up. This is what I know about Bob Dylan: He and Joan Baez were an item once. That's it. Truly. And that only because I remember my parents, years ago, discussing his relationship with Baez and how their careers took quite different paths. Quite a heated discussion, too. Mum was a Baez fan, dad was a Dylan fan. For some reason, their love of either artist never transferred itself to me. I could never see either of them as anything other than poets who also happened to play a guitar. Thanks to one of dad's brothers, I heard the album Infidel played too many times for my sanity to comprehend, and the only song that stuck was Jokerman. Today, I remember it fondly. At the time, I thought my ears would bleed. Seriously, there were days I wanted to yank the ribbon of the tape out and dance around the lawn with it if it meant I never had to hear it again. And then, over the weekend, I had this strange idea that it was perhaps high time I took Bob Dylan for a spin, and requested (by employing my usual on purpose/random selection process) a combination of titles about Dylan's life and his music, most of which I've finished, all of which made for fascinating viewing/watching/listening. All serving to show me how little I really knew about him. Like the fact that Dylan had roughly 27 albums between 1962 and 2001 and, that out of those (roughly) 220 songs, I know 13. (I can add a few more since I now have his first album). Some of those I only know because other people had versions. Do I like his music more, now? I'm not sure. Certainly I admire his ability as a writer. I don't want to make my mind up until the end. And so! 5 titles that'll either make me detest - or like - Bob Dylan even more :) (Although I'm leaning towards 'like,' but not quite willing to topple totally just yet).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

5 lost, tossed and forgotten items I liked in this book

"Lost time is never found again."
- Benjamin Franklin

Two people who read this book before me have a great sense of humour. It's not what they left - two sketches, a song list - that made me smile (what I think is my) secret Mona Lisa smile (but probably looks more like I'm in pain, or smirking, or both). It's the fact that they left their offerings pressed between the pages of Found : the best lost, tossed, and forgotten items from around the world by Davy Rothbart. Just like the title suggests, this book is made up of collected lost and found items sent in to Found Magazine. I'm endlessly fascinated by things that people leave anywhere, although particularly in books. Most especially library books. I know from personal experience that I often slip bus tickets in between pages as an ad hoc bookmark. Sometimes I leave post-it notes in some horrific, bright orange or yellow to remind me "EPIPHANY HERE!" Other times I'll even dog ear the pages but ssshhh you didn't hear that from me. I've even been that person who, when I'm reading library books and am taking notes for a book review or top 5 list, will daftly leave the list there and wonder, days later, where it got to. I don't think that what we leave behind in books (or anywhere else, for that matter) defines us, but I find I'm curious about it all the same. Do we do it deliberately? Could we have left something worse/better/different/more incriminating/less incriminating, instead? I'm not sure. What I do know is that in some weird kind of lost-and-found-pay-it-forward way, I'm going to leave a couple of things in this book, too. So if you end up with this copy - and I guess you'll never know unless you request/read it - why not do the same? Add to it. Send it on. Continue. And so, 5 lost and found submitted items that I liked in this book.

Have you ever lost/found items in a book?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Top 5 picture books about knitting

"Knitting is a boon for those of us who are easily bored. I take my knitting everywhere to take the edge off of moments that would otherwise drive me stark raving mad."
- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

If I could spend my days knitting and sleeping (with TV on in the background – and the occasional book to read), I would be very happy...

I <3 knitting. The meditative state it puts me in. The maths and problem solving. The physical nature of it. The pleasure in completing something. The joy in seeing that something being used and enjoyed.

One of my sisters made a rude comment once about handknitted socks – why did I bother making them when they’re so cheap to buy. So, being vengeful… I didn’t give her a pair for her birthday. And then, she had to listen to five other family members rave about their handknitted socks. So, I relented. And she said 'it's like putting your feet into heaven...' and that’s why I knit.

Because I really do knit love into each stitch (yeah, maybe a few swear words, or exasperated sighs along the way, but I try to keep them down)...

These picture books celebrate and acknowledge the love and caring – and addiction – that goes into knitting.

Nearly-made-the-list:
* Knitty Kitty / David Elliott ; illustrated by Christopher Denise
Knitty Kitty is knitting a scarf, a hat, and some mittens for her kittens, but when night falls and the snow comes down, the kittens request a blanket to keep them warm but Knitty Kitty has a better idea.

Annie’s comments: I appreciate the love that Knitty Kitty expresses through her knitting. But, the illustrations are a bit confusing for younger readers. Knitty Kitty is anthropomorphised – knitting, in a chair, dressed in human clothes… but her kittens are kittens. You know, cat-like... and she’s human-like. Mixed messages at best.

* Noodle's knitting / Sheryl Webster ; [illustrated by] Caroline Pedler
A mouse named Noodle finds a ball of wool and decides to knit a scarf, which grows so big that she is trapped inside her house.

Annie’s comments: Noodle shows the dangers of knitting – sometimes knitters become obsessed… and sometimes beginner knitters need to be reigned in – and taught how to cast off – before their knitting project takes over the world. Cute.

Annie Hoot and the knitting extravaganza / Holly Clifton-Brown
http://www.elgar.govt.nz:80/record=b2492044~S1 "Annie Hoot, an owl, loves to knit, but the other owls in the woods will not wear the clothes she makes for them so she goes off in search of other animals that will appreciate her knitwear."--Publisher's description. Annie’s comments: yeah, ummm… this one cuts a little too close to the bone :D. My name, the owl – and the frenetic, knitting-fixes-all attitude… and the lack of appreciation those closest to you can sometimes show towards your lovingly meant gifts. No, it’s not my picture book autobiography – but it feels like it could be.

Extra yarn / by Mac Barnett ; illustrated by Jon Klassen. http://www.elgar.govt.nz:80/record=b2649749~S1 With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

Annie’s comments: I want Annabelle’s knitting box. Seriously! Do you have any idea how big my yarn stash is? I think I’ve reached the level of SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy... ie more knitting yarn than I will ever deal with in my lifetime). Not so sure I’d knit a sweater for a ute, tho!

With love from Grandma / by Harriet Ziefert ; pictures by Deborah Kogan Ray
Sarah’s grandmother loves to knit, and from her needles emerge hats and gloves, mittens and socks, sweaters and scarves, all to keep her children and grandchildren warm. Now it’s Sarah’s turn to get something extra-special: a big, beautiful afghan, made from wool Sarah has chosen herself. Something that large takes time, however. Summer turns to fall, school begins, Halloween comes, then Thanksgiving. Finally, Grandma announces she’s coming to visit—with the afghan. Sarah’s wait is almost over. But there’s still one thing left to do...

Annie’s comments: This is a heart-warming story of family love and traditions, and the joy to be found in precious handcrafted heirlooms.

Mr Nick's knitting / Margaret Wild & Dee Huxley
Mr Nick and Mrs Jolley met every morning on the train, where they both sat knitting until they got off. One morning Mrs Jolley wasn't there; she was in hospital. Mr Nick knitted her a present that would make her happy and help her get well.

Annie’s comments: knitters really do understand each other – and friendship can be formed, based on the fact you both knit. This book celebrates the knitting community and support that comes from within it. When a friend of mine lost their apartment in Christchurch, due the February earthquake, I cried. And I wondered what I could do – in Auckland. I knew she knitted. So I sent her down a copy of my favourite sock pattern (I’d sent her one earlier), a ball of my favourite sock wool, a set of needles, a sewing-up needle, and a card. And it made her cry, but in a happy way.

The story blanket by Ferida Wolff The story blanket / Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz ; illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Babba Zarrah has a beautiful woollen sitting blanket, which the children sit on to listen to her stories. Babba Zarrah always says that 'every question has an answer', and when she realises the villagers need new clothes, Babba Zarrah begins to unravel her blanket in secret to make them. She makes so many surprises that soon there is no more blanket to sit on. But when the villagers discover Babba Zarrah's secret, they decide to give Babba Zarrah a surprise in return...

Annie’s comments: I love Babba Zarrah. What’s not to love? She gathers the children together on her blanket and tells them stories. She loves her neighbours so much, she sacrifices her blanket to keep them warm (even the tailor’s cat). And her neighbours respond in kind. Warmth and love leap out of this book.

List by Annie

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

5 cookbooks fresh from the Internet

List by Danielle

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
~ Julia Child

I love how the internet has transformed recipe collections. Not only do you get to dive into a whole heap of new, creative and repurposed recipes, you can often see how other cooks have used and altered them, with the initial recipe becoming a jump-off point for experiments, handy advice and twists that cater to personal tastes for more or less of this-and-that. All of us cooks can collaborate and add to the pool of knowledge - it's like a big, ongoing and enthusiastic conversation about food. Food blogs often add an immense visual appeal to the mix; there are some truly gorgeous food photographers out there, as well as some quirky and highly entertaining writers. Now you can have a flip through some of the tie-in books from our collection, and maybe find some new sites to try out, too.

5 CD compilations to get me through this week

"No good opera plot can be sensible:... people do not sing when they are feeling sensible."
- W.H. Auden, Time, 29 December 1961

I suspect that this week is going to be one of those weeks where the ability to sing opera would come in handy. It is not going to be a sensible week. You don't know how you know that's going to be the case, you just know it is. Because sometimes you have insight like that. And if I'm armed with the right kinda music, even the craziest calendar lineup of meetings and eNewsletter edits can seem a little less daunting. And this selection of CDs right here? Just beg to be played loud. With headphones, of course :)

Query: What music do you prefer to listen to when working?

Music for the man cave
Songs to create the perfect man cave ambience for your Dad and his mates! Featuring hits from Deep Purple, Faith No More, Crowded House, Alice Cooper, The Clash, Motorhead and more! (Image and blurb from Marbecks.co.nz)

Khe Sanh (Cold Chisel) -- Smoke on the water (Deep Purple) -- Rebel yell (Billy Idol) -- Should I stay or should I go (The Clash) -- Ever fallen in love (with someone you shouldn't've) (Buzzcocks) -- Ace of spades (Motorhead) -- Tomorrow (Silverchair) -- Poison (Alice Cooper) -- Epic (Faith no more) -- Bohemian like you (The Dandy Warhols) -- Every you every me (Placebo) -- Sun hits the sky (Supergrass) -- Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode) -- Public Image (Public Image Ltd) -- Nil by mouth (Blindspott) -- Rollin' (Limp Bizkit) -- Out of my head (The 04) -- Calling on (Weta) -- Rev it up (Jerry Harrison) -- I walk away (Crowded House)

They sold a million
This double disc set features a selection of tracks from some of the greatest million-selling artists of our time -- including songs by Abba, Queen, Boney M, Blondie, Duran Duran and many more. (Image and blurb from Marbecks.co.nz)

CD1: Crazy little thing called love (Queen) -- Philadelphia freedom (Elton John) -- Fernando (Abba) -- Come on Eileen (Dexy's Midnight Runners) -- Wired for sound (Cliff Richard) -- Morning train (9 to 5) (Sheena Easton) -- The other guy (Little River Band) -- Call me (Blondie) -- Don't you want me (The Human League) -- I'm coming out (Diana Ross) -- Walking on sunshine (Katrina and the Waves) -- Road to nowhere (Talking Heads) -- Ebony and Ivory (Paul McCartney with Stevie Wonder) -- Bette Davis eyes (Kim Cairnes) -- That's the way I like it (KC & The Sunshine Band) -- I am woman (Helen Reddy) -- The guitar man (Bread) -- Good vibration (The Beach Boys). CD2: I'll do anything for love (but I wont do that) (Meat Loaf) -- The best (Tina Turner) -- Thorn in my side (Eurythmics) -- Rebel yell (Billy Idol) -- Footloose (Kenny Loggins) -- Girls on film (Duran Duran) -- China girl (David Bowie) -- If I could turn back time (Cher) -- I'm on my way (The Proclaimers) -- The power of love (Huey Lewis and the News) -- She bop (Cyndi Lauper) -- Red red wine (UB40) -- Abracadabra (Steve Miller Band) -- Hit me with your rhythm stick (Ian Drury and the Blockheads) -- I will survive (Goria Gaynor) -- Stumblin' in (Suzi Quatro & Chris Norman) -- Rasputin (Boney M) -- Metal guru (T-Rex)

Running songs
The ultimate running or exercise playlist -- featuring Queen, Coldplay, Evermore and many other artists, performing songs such as Sweat, Keep on Running, Body and Soul, Footloose and more. (Image and blurb from Marbecks.co.nz)

CD1. Don't stop me now (Queen) -- Clocks (Coldplay) -- Running (Evermore) -- Ready to go (Republica) -- Footloose (Kenny Loggins) -- Body and soul (Jenny Morris) -- Show no mercy (Mark Williams) -- Pleasure and pain (Divinyls) -- Tub thumping (Chumbawamba) -- Movin' on up (M People) -- Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) -- Here comes the hot stepper (Ini Kamose) -- Sweat (a la la la la long) (Inner Circle) -- What's up? (4 Non Blondes) -- Baby makes her blue jeans talk (Dr Hook) -- Wired for sound (Cliff Richard) -- Road to nowhere (Talking Heads) -- I'm on my way (Proclaimers) -- CD 2. Eye of the tiger (Survivor) -- Legs (ZZ Top) -- You spin me round (like a record) (Dead or Alive) -- One way or another (Blondie) -- Take on me (A-Ha) -- All fired up (Pat Benatar) -- Life is a highway (Tom Cochrane) -- Shock to the system (Billy Idol) -- Out of mind, out of sight (Models) -- Get ready for this (Unlimited) -- The look (Roxette) -- Pump up the jam (Technotronic) -- Gonna make you sweat (C & C Music Factory) -- Alive and kicking (Simple Minds) -- Back on the chain gang (Pretenders) -- Right on track (Breakfast Club) -- Breakout (Swing Out Sister) -- Keep on running (Spencer Davis Group).


DIY songs
It's time to get your Dad inspired to finish all those house repairs and renovations around your home! This specially priced 2CD set features 36 tracks to get him humming as he hammers, plasters, paints and fixes his weekends away. Tracks include Back on the Chain Gang by The Pretenders, Down Under by Men at Work, Nothin' But a Good Tim" by Poison, Gonna Make You Sweat by C & C Music Factory and many more. (Image and blurb from Marbecks.co.nz)

CD 1. Don't stop me now (Queen) -- Take the money and run (Steve Miller Band) -- You ain't seen nothing yet (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) -- Let's stick together (Bryan Ferry) -- Whatever you want (Status Quo) -- Bad case of loving you (Doctor doctor) (Robert Palmer) -- Freeze frame (J Geils Band) -- Back on the chain gang (Pretenders) -- I want a new drug (Huey Lewis & the News) -- Call me (Blondie) -- Working for the weekend (Loverboy) -- Hot in the city (Billy Idol) -- Hit me with your best shot (Pat Benatar) -- Is there something I should know (Duran Duran) -- Down under (Men at Work) -- Food for thought (UB40) -- 2-4-6-8 motorway (Tom Robinson Band) -- Safety dance (Men Without Hats) -- Talk talk (Talk Talk) -- Mad world (Tears for Fears) -- CD 2. Nothin' but a good time (Poison) -- Out of mind, out of sight (Models) -- Alive and kicking (Simple Minds) -- The king of wishful thinking (Go West) -- Lean on me (Club Nouveau) -- Life is a highway (Tom Cochrane) -- Roam (B-52's) -- Get a haircut (George Thorogood & the Destroyers) -- Gonna make you sweat (C & C Music Factory) -- Unbelievable (EMF) -- Pleasure and pain (Divinyls) -- Nothing's gonna stop us now (Starship) -- Absolute beginners (David Bowie) -- She works hard for the money (Donna Summer) -- When the going gets tough, the tough get going (Billy Ocean) -- Rock and roll dreams come through (Meat Loaf)


Don’t worry be happy
As the song says, Don't Worry Be Happy -- here are 36 feel-good tracks to lift your spirits and take your mind off your woes. 'Don't Worry Be Happy includes recent songs from David Guetta, Lily Allen, Katy Perry, P!nk, Corinne Bailey Rae, Sister Sledge, as well as hits from other decades, by artists such as Poison, Talking Heads, ZZ Top and more. (Image and blurb from Marbecks.co.nz)

CD 1. You're my best friend (Queen) -- Put your records on (Corinne Bailey Rae) -- Whole again (Atomic Kitten) -- Live it up (Mental As Anything) -- Suddenly I see (KT Tunstall) -- I am only shooting love (Time Bandits) -- Superstar (Jamelia) -- We are family (Sister Sledge) -- Smile (Lily Allen) -- Make me smile (come up and see me) (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel) -- Joyride (Roxette) -- Heart and soul (T'Pau) -- Sweet dreams (are made of this) (Eurythmics) -- Dancing in the street (David Bowie & Mick Jagger) -- Heaven is a place on Earth (Belinda Carlisle) -- Love changes (everything) (Climie Fisher) -- The joker (Steve Miller Band) -- Don't worry be happy (Bobby McFerren) -- CD 2. Get the party started (Pink) -- Dancing with myself (Billy Idol with Generation X) -- I kissed a girl (Katy Perry) -- Gimme all your lovin' (ZZ Top) -- When love takes over (David Guetta, feat. Kelly Rowland) -- Unskinny bop (Poison) -- Simply irresistible (Robert Palmer) -- Wild wild life (Talking Heads) -- The politics of dancing (Re-Flex) -- Let's groove (CDB) -- I'm so excited (Pointer Sisters) -- Born to be alive (Patrick Hernandez) -- Good times (Chic) -- Golden years (David Bowie) -- Strut (Sheena Easton) -- Don't you (forget about me) (Simple Minds) -- Your love (has lifted me higher) (Rita Coolidge) -- Higher ground (UB40)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

5 movies with an Irish link of some sort that my siblings think I need in my life now, right now

"May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you."

- Irish Blessing

Last year, here on the blog, Jolene, Danielle, Natalie and myself wrote (argued/wrote - potato, po-tah-to) a St. Patrick's Day list. Top 5 Irish actors we argued over for this top 5 St. Patrick's Day post, to be specific. Weirdly (?), it received quite a few hits. This year, I decided to keep with the St. Patricks Day post (mostly because I am all kinds of a fool for an Irish accent), but switch it up a little. Well, I thought a little, but siblings hijacked the post so it resembles nothing like what I started with. I wanted to list 5 Irish Films You Need in Your Life Now, Right Now! just because it's St. Patrick's Day. But it's a pretty contentious topic in our household, and fiercely debated. For example, what, exactly, did I mean by 'Irish'? It got to the point where a list of 'Is THIS what you meant?!?' points were made and argued about, back and forth, back and forth:
  • Actors/actresses born in Ireland?
  • Actors/actresses not Irish (with terribly hammed-up accents) yet playing Irish characters?
  • Films shot in Ireland that aren't about Ireland or its Irish history?
  • Films with Irish characters but not set in Ireland?

  • Don't even get me started on whether or not Irish actors/actresses in what is, really, an American film, counts *sigh* Yes. Fun and games over dinner, I'll tell you. In the end, craving peace and quiet, and wanting to avoid bloodshed (and cold shoulders), I opted to give my movie-watching experience over to them *somewhat hesitant look* which is why this list is a mish-mash of (probably) all of the above *holds head in hands* And so behold! 5 movies with an Irish link of some sort that my siblings think I need in my life now, right now. Oy. Happy St. Patricks Day!

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    5 books that prove why repurposing your old clothing is a shiny, happy, wonderful thing to do

    "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
    - Coco Chanel

    Rough definition of 'repurposed clothing': taking what you already have and turning it into something else. Like taking your boyfriend's favourite tie and turning it into a car. Ok, so maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea :) I was feeling sort of nostalgic today and remembering a time when mum used to be an exceptionally crafty mum. (Crafty as in arts and crafts/homemaker crafty, not crafty as in sly/crafty) and we often wore a combination of store bought, handmade, and secondhand clothes. I'm talking knitted jerseys and slippers, dresses and sweatshirts whipped up on the sewing machine, secondhand duffel coats, brand new Charlie Brown's (my fav shoes when I was 4). You know the kind of thing. Mum is a dab hand with, well, pretty much everything except, maybe, a spinning wheel. (And even then I'm not totally sure about that), so when I came across a couple of titles about turning sweaters into a handbag it kinda put me in mind of mum, childhood, happy memories that made me feel fuzzy and sentimental *sigh* It'll probably wear off soon, so while the feeling is there I'm going to use it to highlight 5 books that prove why repurposing your old clothing is a shiny, happy, wonderful thing to do. Or something. Who wouldn't want to turn a t-shirt into a skirt? Or a sundress out of a pillowcase? Or alter a t-shirt beyond all imagining? If you're after more suggestions, try the subject term: Clothing and dress -- Remaking.

    Query: Do you repurpose your old clothing?

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    5 films listed in this book that I never considered as having 'cult' status (even though, secretly, I now understand and agree)

    List by Tosca

    "In recent years, cult cinema has moved from the pulp periphery to the centre of critical debate. From initially being celebrated in fanzines and journalistic essays, the study of cult has now become a key part of film criticism and media/cultural studies theory..."
    - 100 cult films, introduction

    Title: 100 cult films by Ernest Mathijs & Xavier Mendik
    Published: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011
    Summary: This accessible guide takes cult cinema fanatics and academics alike through the 100 most memorable films, showcasing such diverse hits as The Sound of Music, Edward Scissorhands, and The Gods Must Be Crazy. This guide does not limit readers to cinematic favorites of the general public alone, but instead explores the worlds of such cult sub-genres as Italian cannibal movies and Japanese anime. Including vivid photos of unforgettable scenes, this Screen Guide brings to life the success behind some of the biggest movies of our time.

    If I'd ever been asked to hand over my list of top 100 cult films I'd have failed spectacularly. At least going by Mathijs and Mendik's version of said same list. That's not a criticism. Merely an observation that any list along these lines (most especially any of ours here at the Top 5 blog) are wholly subjective. I could be facetious and say, "One man's meat is another man's poison," except that I don't think that's right. I believe it's more a case of, "One man's trash is another man's treasure," and no list brings that home to me more than this particular book right here. Sure, it contains lots of films I'd expect to see on here such as Godzilla, Brazil, Donnie Darko, and Blade Runner. There are also a slew of films I've never heard of but now want to look up just because. And, as expected, more than a few that make me go, 'REALLY?' Although, when I stop to think about, they make sense. And so! 5 cult films listed in this book that I never considered as having a 'cult' status (even though, secretly, I now understand and agree). (And, really, 5 films that make me reconsider what I consider 'cult,' anyway).

    P.S. I adore the cover to this book, which is taken from the film Pink Flamingos starring Divine. I remember seeing Divine in Polyester (probably inappropriate for a child to have watched but my parents were fairly easygoing when it came to implementing hard and fast film/book filters) and Hair Spray. Polyester? Unforgettable. Hair Spray? Hmm. Possibly, though, either of those I'd consider as having 'cult film' status.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Top 5 nonfiction reads

    List by Tosca

    "Reading - the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay."
    - William Styron

    Greetings & saluations! You might have noticed that I've been a little bit absent (it's like being a little bit pregnant, I'd imagine - you either are or you aren't) from the blog lately *thoughtful look* I've been taking a bit of time out to ponder the future of this blog. Not along the lines of, 'Should I get rid of it?' More like, 'Is this layout what I want?' and, 'Am I giving readers the best that I can?' and even, 'What more can I do to make this relevant?' And then, before I knew it, a couple of weeks had gone by and I was no closer to getting a post out. Which reminded me that, d'oh, I actually had to write/publish to it because, hey, life goes on. (I'm slow, but I get there in the end). Compared to last month there aren't any big surprises on this list although, strangely, some of you *still* want to know just *what* Paul Henry was thinking. One title in particular that never fails to make me raise my eyebrows is 'That woman,' used to describe Wallis Simpson. I'm 36 and I have quite clear memories of being a child while gran (who was a diehard fan of royalty which, looking back, I find wholly unusual) would tell me again and again the story of a man who gave up a throne for love of a woman in such hushed and scandalised tones. I'm not sure talk of Simpson will ever die down. And so! Books. For you. All for you. Nonfiction titles, to be specific. Enjoy!

    More top nonfiction reads:
  • So brilliantly clever : Parker, Hulme and the murder that shocked the world / Peter Graham
  • A train in winter : a story of resistance, friendship and survival / Caroline Moorehead
  • Seriously - I'm kidding / Ellen DeGeneres
  • The official New Zealand road code
  • Love at the end of the road : finding my heart in the country / Rae Roadley
  • Journey / Pippa Blake a collaboration with Trish Clark

  • Friday, March 2, 2012

    Our top 5 bedtime stories for February

    List by Danielle

    Enchantress: Can I be in your video?
    Thor: Nay, witch. Thou dost headbang like a girl. Now be gone, less thou detract from my mighty rocking. More cowbell! Thus spoke Thor.

    No doubt about it, February was Super Hero month in our household. Our first dip into the mighty, marvellous pool of superheroes (if you don't count last month's fabulous Traction Man) was my 5 year old daughter's discovery of superhero phonics books, early readers about heroes such as X-ray Rex and Jumping Jade.

    The find of the month, though, has been Marvel's mind-blowing Super Hero Squad, which comes in several formats - DVD, chapter book, and junior graphic novel. I say mind-blowing, because for those raised on Marvel comics (not me) and even for those who came to the characters late through films like Iron Man, the X Men and Fantastic 4 flicks, the various Hulks... this is a whole new world. Imagine brooding, angsty heroes like Wolverine turned into wisecracking kiddy characters. Hulk as comic relief. Captain America as the wise old mentor/butt of jokes. The characters now have no back story - the Hulk has no human form, Wolverine (or 'Wolvie') appears in flashbacks as a baby, complete with adamantium claws. Thor, as in the quote above, went to Valhalla High School.

    It about blows your mind, huh?

    Couple that with the most catchy theme song ever to grace a kids' cartoon... It's time to hero up, squaddies!