Friday, 24 June 2011

Harry Potter news....

Harry Potter fans hold on to your broomsticks! After a week of frenzied speculation, JK Rowling has unveiled a new interactive website called Pottermore. It is a unique website which builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books. The site will also sell her books as e-books for the first time.

The free website, Pottermore, will go live from July 31 for one million lucky Potter fans who have passed a special online challenge. The website will then be opened to everyone else from October 2011.

When you join Pottermore, you get to choose a magic user name and then travel through different parts of the book, enrolling in Hogwarts in the virtual world just as Harry does in the books. You can also see what your friends are doing on Pottermore as you can find out where they are in the storyline and go and meet them if you wish. The site will also have previously unpublished material that Rowling has written on the backgrounds to the characters and their lives at Hogwarts Academy.

J.K Rowling laid down her pen - and Harry's magic wand - when she finished the seventh book in 2007, with a stunning record of 400 million copies of the series sold around the world.

The library has all the books in the Harry Potter series, in print and audio formats, as well as the movies on DVD. Click here to check catalogue and revisit the magic of all things Harry Potter.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Miles Franklin Award Winner 2011

Aboriginal author Kim Scott has won this year's Miles Franklin literary award, Australia's first and most prestigious literary award, with his novel That Deadman Dance. That Deadman Dance is a historical novel, set around the time of white settlement in Australia. It explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers. The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Scott beat a short list of two other writers - Roger McDonald and Chris Womersley - to take out the prize.

The Miles Franklin Award has a history almost as colourful as Miles Franklin herself. Like any institution that has been around for over 50 years, the Award has attracted great praise and affection – but also some comments and criticism. 2011 has seen the prize money for the Award raised to $50,000 and the launch of Miles Franklin’s new online home.

For more information about the award or to read about the other short listed titles click here


Monday, 20 June 2011

Battle hymn of the tiger mother by Amy Chua

All parents want what is best for their children. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals that the Chinese have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. This memoir chronicles Amy Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the Chinese way and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:

• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• not be the #1 student in every subject except sport and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin

After hearing all the controversy about this book, I wanted to read it to form my own opinion. Amy has an easy, engaging way of writing and I found I couldn't put the book down. It was incredibly interesting, funny, inspiring (her 14 year old daughter played piano at Carnegie Hall) and sometimes jaw dropping (like when she told her daughter that the home made birthday card was unacceptable and to redo it). While I wouldn't change my style of “western” parenting, I did find it to be a fascinating insight into another culture with lots of positive aspects and proven results.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Discovery of witches by Deborah Harkness (All Souls trilogy)

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

This is the debut novel by Deborah Harkness and it is an interesting mix of romance, mystery, history, science and the paranormal. At almost 600 pages long, it is not a quick read, but the historical and scientific aspects are fascinating and showcase the author's extensive knowledge of history (she is a history professor who has researched the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700).

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy paranormal/fantasy fiction and to those who like books with a historical element. But be warned, this is the first book in a yet-to-be-written trilogy. The next instalment is due to be published in early 2012.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas

Man Gone Down begins on the eve of the narrators 35th birthday. He is living with a friend and his wife has taken their three children and gone to her mother's place. He must find a new home for his family, a job, and enough money to pay for his children's private school tuition, and he has only a few days to do all of this (and therefore keep his family together).

The story fluctuates between these present day dilemmas and snippets of his childhood growing up in Boston, one of only 2 black kids at a rich white school.

The book is a beautifully written portrayal of a man and his uncertainties and dilemmas as he tries to keep his family afloat. The style of the book can be a little meandering as it drifts between different stages of the narrators life, fluctuating between his present situation and his memories.

The majority of the book is in the form of an internal monologue expressing the narrators' thoughts, fears and observations. This meandering style may not appeal to all readers as they may become frustrated wondering what is happening or where some passages are going. However, for me it was a beautiful and touching insight into this character, his thoughts and feelings, as he tries to grapple with his present situation, the affects of his childhood, his sense of identity and questions regarding race, power and money in contemporary America.