30 August 2016

Leighton Library - Dunblane, Scotland

With nothing more than one long wooden hall and two stone vaults below, the Leighton Library in Dunblane, Scotland is not the most imposing collection of written works in the world, but its collection of donated works has the distinction of being the first library in Scotland. Built in 1687, the building was the first location in Scotland built for the specific purpose of being a library.


In his will, Robert Leighton, then Bishop of Dunblane, allocated money for the construction of a library for use by his diocese. After his death, the library was dutifully constructed using materials from nearby church ruins and Leighton's library of religious texts was given over to the site. The building itself is designed with nothing more than an elevated main hall and a stone undercroft which was meant to house the first librarians. 

The simple building survived down the centuries, retaining its original purpose, although the sturdy stone basement was used as a bomb shelter during World War II.

After multiple renovations (but no expansions) the Leighton Library now houses over 4000 volumes and over 70 manuscripts that date between the 16th and 19th centuries. Visitors are even able to handle some of the texts under the watchful eye of one of the library's curators. If only all of our book collections could be so well cared for.  

Source: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/leighton-library

29 August 2016

Maria is raving about this book!

You may remember I raved about author Frances Steinbergs previous book The Pocket Messiah and now I am raving about her latest offering Meditations on the Line of Harmony.  Seriously raving.

I was lucky enough to read the draft copy before it went to the publishers and so one sunny afternoon a few weeks back I laid down in the living room with a cup of tea and the book. I really only intended to read a few pages at a time however that idea went totally out of the window! 

Countless cups of tea later plus several moves to chairs, sofa and back to floor later - I was still reading. I read until it got dark and had to turn on the lights. I think I ate potato chips for dinner - anything to finish the book.

The thing about the characters in the book is that they are so believable and you find yourself drawn into their lives, their thoughts and future. There are twists and turns you never see coming and yet when they arrive you understand why and how it all suddenly makes sense. This author has a style of writing that will make you laugh, and cry but above all make you wonder and think. My mind was going all sorts of places not only because of the plot but relating so much it back to my own life. It set my imagination on fire. Frances writes in a timeless style - the story could fit twenty years ago, today or in twenty years time and still be utterly relevant. What also delighted me is that the mystical happenings such as visions, messenger hawks and prophecies are not so far fetched and entirely out of this world that you cannot imagine them happening.

Highly recommended for those who love a 'cannot put it down' book.

28 August 2016

Reviewed by Cath: Talk like Ted


People tend to think TED talkers are naturally gifted speakers.

Not so, they are well-schooled beforehand to make them seem that way. 

If you can’t attend a Ted-talks training session, this book really is the next best thing. 


27 August 2016

Reviewed by Cath - Smart but stuck: emotions in teens and adults with ADHD


A family member suggested I read this; they were diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and said reading this was like having a lightbulb go on! 

It explains why things sometimes go wrong and provides helpful insights. A+  Cath

26 August 2016

Kingdoms would rise and fall for her...

. . . if she is ever found

In the icy North, where magic is might, an all-powerful elite ruthlessly guided by a glacial Queen have grown to dominate the world. 

Now rebellion is stirring in the rough, magic-poor South, where for the first time in memory a warlord has succeeded in uniting the tribal nations.

Stuck in the middle is Cat - circus performer and soothsayer - safely hidden behind heavy make-up, bright colours and the harmless illusion of the circus. Until someone suspects she's more than she seems . . . 

Captured by the Southern warlord Griffin, Cat's careful camouflage is wearing thin. For how long can - or should - she conceal the true extent of her power? Faced with dragons, homicidal mages, rival Gods and the traitorous longings of her own heart, she must decide: is it time to claim her destiny and fight?

25 August 2016

I see you & Why did you lie?

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. 

She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

A journalist on the track of an old case attempts suicide. 

An ordinary couple return from a house swap in the states to find their home in disarray and their guests seemingly missing.

Four strangers struggle to find shelter on a windswept spike of rock in the middle of a raging sea. 

They have one thing in common: they all lied.

And someone is determined to punish them...
Why did you lie is a terrifying tale of long-delayed retribution from Iceland's Queen of Suspense.

24 August 2016

Dark Hunter - Illarion - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn Kenyon returns with the next addictive novel in her globally bestselling Dark-Hunter series . . .

Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed - a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.

Now he has a chance to regain what's been lost - to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn't the cost his happiness might incur, it's the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon's heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone - to see the entire world burn . . .

23 August 2016

A love story about two people who never meet...

Sometimes it's the people you miss who matter most.

Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will...

'Today is the first day of the rest of your life.'
That's what the plate in Tess's mum's kitchen says. And for a while, it seems like it might be true: Tess has just finished her A levels and is holidaying in Florence before going on to university and then Great Things. But that's before tragedy strikes.

For Gus, the tragedy has already happened. He and his parents have come to Florence to pretend they're a normal family, but they all know that's not true, and Gus can't wait to escape.

The first time Tess and Gus meet, they don't speak. The second time, they exchange nine words. The third time, three sentences. Then they return to England and their separate worlds and that, as they say, is that. Or it would be -- except that the universe seems to have other ideas, even if neither Tess nor Gus realise it.

22 August 2016

About: Author Kate Eberlen

I grew up in a small town thirty miles away from London and spent my childhood reading books and longing to escape. I even learned the London Underground Map off by heart just so I would be ready if and when the opportunity arose. My fascination with different lives and cultures led me to study Classics at Oxford University, but I discovered that I was much less interested in academia than I was in the world of work.

I’ve had lots of jobs – from running my own jewellery business at the age of twelve, au pair in Rome and New York, lift girl at Harrods (smiling, as if for the first time, whenever someone remarked ‘I bet this job has its ups and downs’), to working in publishing and writing books. Most recently, I’ve trained to teach English as a Foreign Language with a view to spending more time in Italy, a country I love.  

I wrote Miss You in the afternoons when I was teaching in the mornings. For my next novel, I’m revisiting my passion for classical literature by weaving the poems of Catullus into contemporary narrative about identity and love.

I’m married to a lovely man and we have a son who is at university now. We moved out of London so that our son could grow up by the sea, but I go up several times a month. I’m passionate about dance and adore the pure romance of classical ballet, so I try to see as many productions as I can. My husband and I recently decided to learn ballroom dancing, which is really good fun, although much more difficult than it looks.  
I love films and drama on television, but I think my greatest pleasure is still that feeling of being transported to another world when I’m reading a good book.

Information taken from the authors website: http://www.kateeberlen.com/index.php

Follow this author:

Twitter: @KateEberlen

21 August 2016

New in Non-fiction

http://ils.stdc.govt.nz/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=158427Ilarion Merculieff weaves the remarkable strands of his life and culture into a fascinating account that begins with his traditional Unangan (Aleut) upbringing on a remote island in the Bering Sea, through his immersion in both the Russian Orthodox Church and his tribe’s holistic spiritual beliefs. He recounts his developing consciousness and call to leadership, and describes his work of the past thirty years bringing together Western science and Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and wisdom to address the most pressing issues of our time.

Tracing the extraordinary history of his ancestors—who mummified their dead in a way very similar to the Egyptians, constructed one of the most sophisticated high seas kayaks in the world, and densely populated shorelines in North America for ten thousand years—Merculieff describes the rich traditions of spirituality, art, dance, music, storytelling, science, and technology that enabled them to survive their harsh conditions. 

The Unangan people of the Aleutian Islands endured slavery at the hands of the U.S. government and were placed in an internment camp during WWII, where they suffered malnutrition and disease that decimated 10 percent of their population.

Merculieff movingly describes how the compassion of Indigenous Elders has guided him in his work and life, which has been rife with struggle and hardship. He explains that environmental degradation, the extinction of species, pollution, war, and failing public institutions are all reflections of our relationships with ourselves. In order to deal with these critical challenges, he argues, we must reenter the chaos of the natural world, rediscover our balance of the masculine and the sacred feminine, and heal ourselves. Then, perhaps, we can heal the world.

When Sam Bailey-Merritt was just two years old, almost overnight he lost the ability to communicate or function. His mother, Jo, was at a loss as to what to do as she saw her son grow increasingly isolated and begin to suffer from uncontrollable meltdowns. Eventually, Sam was diagnosed with autism.

Sam's condition continued to worsen and, just when Jo had all but given up hope of being able to help him, the family went on a day trip to a nearby miniature pig farm. Sam immediately bonded with a tiny ginger piglet called Chester, who stood sad and alone, apart from the rest of the litter. The connection between the boy and the animal was immediate and their unusual friendship blossomed from the moment the family brought Chester home. The tiny pig refused to leave Sam's side - it was as if he knew that Sam needed a friend. And, for the first time in five years, Jo saw her son really laugh.

While Sam's confidence grew, Chester grew in a different way: the micro pig that was supposed to become the size of a Cocker Spaniel in fact ballooned to three times that size - with hilarious consequences for the family! Chester has turned Sam's life around. He now has the ability to communicate his feelings, make friends and is caring and kind towards others.

Sam and Chester is the heart-warming story of how a teacup-sized ginger pig helped to transform the life of a boy with autism. It is the emotional story of a mother's fight to win back her son.

20 August 2016

3 new junior fiction

Even more desperate to save his family from ending up on his stack of squashed relatives, Limpy takes his quest to the airwaves. 

When a TV cooking show kidnaps Goliath to be their main ingredient, Limpy sets out to rescue him and ends up on camera himself. Can Limpy use his 15 minutes of fame to get humans to lay off the cane-toad squashing? Or will that be a recipe for disaster? 

A stirring saga of bravery, sacrifice and prime-time warts-and-all adventure. Tasty.
A stand-alone comic adventure for younger readers by sublime storyteller Vivian French, with pictures by a talented new illustrator and animator, Marta Kissi. 

Alfie Onion has just set off on a great adventure … but only to carry his brother’s luggage. It’s his elder brother, Magnifico Onion, who’s destined to win their family a Happily Ever After. 

But when it turns out Magnifico isn’t half the hero he’s cracked up to be, it falls to Alfie to save the day – with a little help from his loyal dog, a talking horse and a couple of meddling magpies.
From the punk rock stars of Australian children's literature comes The 78-Storey Treehouse.

Join Andy and Terry in their spectacular new 78-storey treehouse. They've added 13 new levels including a drive-thru car wash, a combining machine, a scribbletorium, an ALL-BALL sports stadium, Andyland, Terrytown, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre. 

Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

19 August 2016

“if you have a problem, write a letter, this is what democracy means”

During the American occupation, the citizens of Japan were encouraged to apply directly to General MacArthur – “if you have a problem, write a letter, this is what democracy means” – and so write they did. MacArthur received over 500,000 letters, letters of entreaty, rage, gratitude, complaint, even adoration.

Twelve-year-old Fumi Tanaka has a problem – her beautiful and beloved older sister, Sumiko, has disappeared. Determined to find her, Fumi enlists the help of her new classmate Aya, forcibly repatriated with her father from Canada after the war.

Together, they write to MacArthur and deliver their letter into the reluctant hands of Corporal Matt Matsumoto, a Japanese-American GI whose job it is to translate the endless letters.

When weeks pass and they hear nothing from Matt, the girls take matters into their own hands, venturing into the dark and dangerous world of the black market and dancehalls. They're unaware that their teacher, Kondo Sensei, moonlights as a translator of love letters, and that he holds the key to Sumiko's safe return.

17 August 2016

The latest from our Home Spun collection

Good bye Bill Massey No more Khaki' is the story of Reg Hird's experiences in WW1 told through 54 letters and postcards sent to sweetheart, Nellie Dean in New Zealand.

Reg was a sergeant in the NZ Rifle Brigade and fought on the Western Front in France and Belgium. His letters date from early 1917 to mid-1919. They are well written, often long and detailed, describing some of the battles as well as giving impressions of camp life in NZ, Australia, England and France.

The letters are complimented by excerpts from Nellie's diaries. During the war years she was a young teacher at Ferntown School, Golden Bay and lived in Collingwood. Accounts of her experiences provide a real window into the past.

16 August 2016

Audio from Borrowbox reviewed by Cath S

I am listening to The living and the dead in Winsford by Hakan Nesser, using the BorrowBox app. 

This is a gripping and deeply atmospheric thriller by an award-winning Swedish author. It’s 12 hours long and I am loving it – I’ll be looking for more by this author.