Friday, June 29, 2012

White Elephants : Yard Sales, Relationships and Finding What Was Missing

Author: Katie Haegele

Publication Date: 2012

Who'll want to read it?
Anyone who loves garage sales, op shopping and buying things that have lived many lives before they came to you. People who are interested in how discovering these 'things' with their own pasts can transport us and delight us in the most unimaginable ways. Oh and also those who are interested in zines.

What's it all about?
Katie is a writer of zines and many other things, from Philadelphia. She loves going to yard sales, rummage sales and the like. So, in a captain planet "with our powers combined" kind of fashion, she has melded these two things into a series of zines titled 'White Elephants' which were then compiled into this wonderful, wonderful book!

However, this book is not just some list of things bought and people waxing lyrical about the "oh so fabulous and super awesome vintage stuff i found!!", it is a lovely and sometimes hilarious memoir about Katie's life, her relationship with her mother, dealing with the loss of her father and the beautiful and powerful connection things can give us to our memories, how they are a bridge into another way of thinking, living and breathing.

I loved this book. I loved reading about 'Dream Phone' a toy for girls who could pretend they were trying to ring their latest "crush", the phone has weird and creepy recorded clues about who your crush might be and what he likes. Just the kind of crazy, creepiness that you just couldn't make up if you tried. Katie's descriptions of the layout and people that staff the sales are fantastic, all the classic characters from the grumpy garage sale people who overprice everything to the lovely almost over helpful old ladies in church rummage sales who suprise you with their personal and sometimes inappropriate comments.

I also loved the panic, depression, unbridled joy, love, sadness and excitement that Katie described as part of her life. It was refreshing and honest, life is not always wonderful, sometimes you find nothing that catches your eye, that captures your heart, your imagination, but then suddenly, just as you think all is lost, there they are.....a pair of gravestone salt and pepper shakers "Here lies salt" and "Here lies pepper" and well, you can't help but smile*.

*If you aren't smiling then you might not enjoy this book but thanks for reading this far!

Publisher: Microcosm Publishing

If you would like to know more about Katie you can visit her website here

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wrap With Love

Wallsend District Library is continuing their charity work, as a collection centre for knitted squares or completed blankets for the Wrap With Love project.

We collect knitted squares and finished blankets here all year round, and have given a couple of thousand squares in the last three years to this wonderful charity.

On Friday 10th August 2012, Wrap With Love Inc. will host a Knit In at Lake Macquarie Art Gallery, where they sew all the squares into blankets for the charity. Details can be found here.

Each of the Newcastle Region Libraries should soon have a poster and some Knit In brochures, which have the knitting instructions on the back. Alternatively, the instructions can be found here, or printed. Click on the links for printer friendly instructions for squares or completed wraps.

Plain squares are perfectly acceptable, from beginners to experts, but if you want to get fancy, feel free. Have a look at the Wrap Gallery here.

If anyone would like to contribute, please bring any squares or completed blankets to your local branch, who will forward them to Wallsend District Library for collection.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Language of Flowers

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Publication Date: 2011

Who'll want to read it? Anyone who loves the idea that there is a secret language in things all around us.

What's it all about? Victoria is emancipated at the age of 18 after a childhood in foster care. She has a kind of freedom that she has never felt before; but out in this new world of freedom with no system to catch her if she falls, no one -however cruel and cold- to pick her back up again, she quickly finds herself homeless and jobless, sleeping in parks and eating food out of bins. All she knows as home, as truth and as her own are flowers and their language, hidden from anyone who doesn't speak it or know it exists. This is how Victoria has always communicated and related to her world, with a flower you can say a thousand things you may never utter aloud.

A local florist gives her a chance and discovers that Victoria has a real and raw talent for floral design but not just any kind of floral design, Victoria has a talent for healing, rejuvinating and inspiring people with flowers that she never knew possible. However, this new life doesn't stop the darkness of her past from catching up with her. A vendor at the flower market seems to be communicating with her in an emotional exchange consisting only of flowers, could anyone really still know about the Victorian language of flowers other than her? How is it that he seems to know her already? Is everything she has built for herself about to come crashing down or is her life about to grow in ways she couldn't imagine....

This is a book about loneliness, our inner darkness and our inner light, growth, flowers, San Francisco and learning to love others but also yourself.

Publisher: Picador Australia

If you want learn more about the Victorian language of flowers, the book or the author click here

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publication Date: 2011

Category: Fiction

Who'll want to read it? Do you love fairy tales? Do you love beautiful descriptive text that augments the reading experience? Do you love being totally immersed in your reading experience?
If so, this book is for you.

Point of no return: Page 4: You are amongst them, of course.
I love a book that is so descriptive that you feel you can see everything, but not so descriptive that it detracts from the story. To have the level of description, and then to be spoken to directly, really pulled me into this book, with no chance of leaving it until it was finished. Even when I stopped reading (to go to work, for example) I was still half living in Erin Morgenstern's world.

Classic line: There are so many beautifully classic lines, so I have just opened the book at random and chosen a sentence.
Page 241: She claims there is a fire-breathing paper dragon somewhere in the tent, and though Bailey believes her, he has difficulty reconciling in his head the idea of paper that breathes fire.

What's it all about? Le Cirque des RĂªves really is the Circus of Dreams. This circus arrives with no warning, appears lifeless during the day, only opens at night, closes at dawn, and is the most perfect circus you could ever imagine.

Unbeknownst to the spectators, and to most of the performers, it is also the venue for a competition that two illusionists have been trained for, and bound to, since they were children.

Celia and Marco do not know the rules, or even how to win. As the competition progresses, the two begin to design their 'moves' for each other, and begin to fall in love. The lives of everyone involved in the circus become enmeshed in their competition, and the safety of everyone becomes reliant on the continuation of the 'game'. But there can be only one winner, and the winner is the last one left standing.

I did not want to finish this book, and yet I was unable to stop reading. It made me laugh out loud, tear up, and, at one point in particular, my heart was racing and beating so loud, you could probably have heard it if you were sitting across the table from me.

The way the story panned out amazed and delighted me. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Erin Morgenstern's second novel!

Publisher: Doubleday

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Other Side of Underbelly with Andrew Rule

On Wednesday 6 June 2012, about 40 people braved the cold and wet to come to Wallsend District Library and hear Andrew Rule speak.

They were well rewarded! Investigative journalist, co-editor of the Chopper series, and co-author of the Underbelly series, he has written, published, and edited over 30 true crime books.

Joanne and husband Scott with Andrew Rule
Andrew was a fantastic speaker, charismatic and highly entertaining. He regaled us with tales of clandestine publishing, seedy underworld figures, the wonders of substandard book glue and some additional back story for a few of the Underbelly characters. He related to us some amazing meetings and conversations he has had with some of the colourful criminal figures he has written (and not written) about, and gave us an insight into what it is like to get established as a writer, an investigative journalist and a pioneer of true crime writing in Australia.

Andrew Rule, enchanting the crowd

Andrew's talk was part of the events for the National Year of Reading. You can find more events, all across Australia, here.

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Lover's Dictionary: a novel

Author: David Levithan

Publication Date: 2011

Category: Fiction

Who'll want to read it? I don't know. Everyone? People who do/have/will love?

Point of no return: The layout. It is set out like any other dictionary, with words in alphabetical order, and notations to say whether they are nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. The entries after the words (one word entry per page) are very subjective definitions. I guess you could say the point of no return was the first entry, which is: aberrant, adj.

Classic entries: buffoonery, n.
You were drunk, and I made the mistake of mentioning Showgirls in a near-empty subway car. The pole had no idea what it was about to endure.

flagrant, adj.
I would be standing right there, and you would walk out of the bathroom without putting the cap back on the toothpaste.

raze, v.
It sounded like you were lifting me, but it all fell.

scapegoat, n.
I think our top two are:
1. Not enough coffee.
2. Too much coffee.

What's it all about? A man compiles his own dictionary that encompasses his relationship, from the raw, awkward beginnings, through moving in together, to infidelity and uncertainty. It is written in the first person, and very honestly. I found myself identifying with several entries, laughing out loud to others, and blinking back tears at others still.

I really enjoyed the difference of this book (the novelty of this novel?). The layout, the anonymity, the way it is snapshots of a relationship, that really could be anyone's relationship. I read this in two sittings, and even then I think it was because I started reading it in my lunch hour at work, and so had to put it down.

I think this would make an excellent book club book, as there is lots of scope for introspection and discussion.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; New York

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Love to Read?

It can be an expensive habit. There is an alternative though: join your local library! Some advantages:
Free membership!
Free books!
Free magazines!
Free newspapers!
Free CDs!
Free DVDs!
Free computers!
Free storytimes!
School holiday activities!
Study areas!
Council information!
Foreign language material!

Don't know where your local library is? Travelling, and want to find a library? There is now the Love2Read app, available from iTunes, to help you! Alternatively, you could check online: on your council's website, or at

Want more? Libraries also host many exciting and interesting things for adults to do. Coming up next week at Wallsend District Library, you could meet crime writer Andrew Rule! Investigative journalist, co-editor of the Chopper series, and co-author of the Underbelly series, he has written, published, and edited over 30 true crime books.

Arts Minister Simon Crean launched the Public Library Membership Drive in May this year, stating that "Almost half of all Australians are members of public libraries, but there is still more work to be done to increase access and participation." If you aren't a member yet, or know someone who should be, get down to your local library and sign up. It's FREE!

The Other Side of Underbelly with Andrew Rule
11:00am on Wednesday 6th June 2012
Wallsend District Library
Bookings recommended: 4985 6680

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.