Category Archives: something new

The Newest Arts and Entertainment Biographies

Inspiring people come into our lives at all different times, some are there from the beginning guiding us with their values, others are friends during our schooling years holding our hands through challenging times, and some are fleeting interactions where someone offers us words of wisdom when we needed it most.

It it with the memory of these amazing people that we are looking into the world of biographies this month. There are so many people who we can learn from, be inspired by and propelled forward by. This week we are exploring art and entertainment biographies. We have found six of our favourite stories but hold on tight because they are a mixture of amusement, heartache and devastatingly honest views of the world and each offers us a little nugget of inspiration to take away.

Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish by Tim Sommer

In 1985, Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in a dorm shower at the University of South Carolina and asked him to form a band. For the next eight years, Hootie & the Blowfish, completed by bassist Dean Felber and drummer Soni Sonefeld, played every frat house, roadhouse, and rock club in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, becoming one of the biggest independent acts in the region. In Only Wanna Be with You, Tim Sommer, the ultimate insider who signed Hootie to Atlantic Records, pulls back the curtain on a band that defied record-industry odds to break into the mainstream by playing hacky sack music in the age of grunge. He chronicles the band’s indie days, their chart-topping success and near-cancelation of their major-label debut along with when the band inspired a plotline on the TV show Friends, also the lean years from the late 1990s through the early 2000s and one of the most remarkable comeback stories of the century. Featuring extensive new interviews with the band members, some of their most famous fans, and stories from the recording studio, tour bus, and golf course, this book is essential reading for Hootie lovers and music buffs.

Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis

In this book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life changing decision to stop running forever. This is Viola’s story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path she took to finding her purpose and her strength, but also to finding her voice in a world that didn’t always see her. 

In her words: As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. They are bogarted, reinvented to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone who is searching for a way to understand and overcome a complicated past, let go of shame, and find acceptance. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be…you. Finding Me is a deep reflection on my past and a promise for my future. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.

A Funny Life by Michael McIntyre

Laugh along with Michael McIntyre as he lifts the curtain on his life in his long-awaited new autobiography. Michael’s first book ended with his big break at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance. Waking up the next morning in the tiny rented flat he shared with his wife Kitty and their one-year-old son, he was beyond excited about the new glamorous world of show business. Unfortunately, he was also clueless . . . In A Funny Life, Michael honestly and hilariously shares the highs and the lows of his rise to the top and desperate attempts to stay there. It’s all here, from his disastrous panel show appearances to his hit TV shows, from mistakenly thinking he’d be a good chat show host and talent judge, to finding fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams and becoming the biggest-selling comedian in the world. Along the way he opens his man drawer, narrowly avoids disaster when his trousers fall down in front of three policemen and learns the hard way why he should always listen to his wife. Michael has had a silly life, a stressful life, sometimes a moving and touching life, but always A Funny Life.

Spinning Plates by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s kitchen discos became a source of much needed escapism, catharsis and sequinned joy for a swathe of the population during lockdown. From knackered mothers and fed up fathers, to cooped up partiers with nowhere to go, Sophie’s gloriously chaotic Friday kitchen performances have cheered and revived us. Now Sophie is bringing that same mixture of down to earth candour and optimistic sparkle to her first book. Part memoir, part musings, Sophie writes about the conjuring act of adulthood and motherhood and how her experience of working while raising her five sons has given her the inescapable lesson of how to navigate life in the face of failure and imperfection. 

Covering relationships, good enough parenting, the importance of delusion and dancing, Sophie writes about the things that take on greater importance as life becomes more complicated. From the non negotiables (solitude, music, glitter) to the unimportant (clean hair, deadlines, appropriate behaviour), this is a book about learning from our experiences and not being afraid to smash a few plates for the sake of what we actually need want and value. 

The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think by John Hockney

Technically this book isn’t a new release, but it’s a goodie. The Hockneys is a never before seen insight into the lives of one of the world’s most famous artists and his family by youngest brother John, from growing up in the Second World War in Bradford through to their diverse lives across three continents. Hardship, successes as well as close and complex relationships are poignantly illustrated by both famous and private pictures and paintings from David Hockney. With a rare and spirited look into the lives of an ordinary family with extraordinary stories, we begin to understand the creative freedom that led to their successful careers and the launchpad for an artist’s work that has inspired and continues to inspire generations across the world.

To the End of the World by Rupert Everett

Okay, so this isn’t totally new…but it is a new paperback version, and also a great read. Rupert Everett tells the story of how he set out to make a film of Oscar Wilde’s last days, and how that ten-year quest almost destroyed him. (And everyone else). Travelling across Europe for the film, he weaves in extraordinary tales from his past, remembering wild times, freak encounters and lost friends. 

There are celebrities, of course. But we also meet glamorous but doomed Aunt Peta, who introduces Rupert (aged three) to the joys of make-up. In ’90s Paris, his great friend Lychee burns bright, and is gone. While in ’70s London, a ‘weirdly tall, beyond size zero’ teenage Rupert is expelled from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Unflinchingly honest and hugely entertaining, To the End of the World offers a unique insight into the ‘snakes and ladders’ of filmmaking. It is also a soulful and thought-provoking autobiography from one of our best-loved and most talented actors and writers. 

Enjoy!

Boredom Busters for the School Holidays  – the coolest activity books on the market

The school holidays are right around the corner and if they have snuck up on you as they have us, then fear not, we have found some amazing books that will eradicate any complaints of boredom over the next two weeks. But if these aren’t enough to fill the days, next week Karen is going to be sharing what’s on in the libraries over the holidays too, just in case you are running out of ideas. 

Get ready to get clicking because we know that the children (and perhaps a parent or two) will absolutely love these creative activity books. 

Absolutely Epic Sudoku by Ivy Finnegan

We all know that Sudoku puzzles reinforce logic and problem-solving and this is a bumper book of these number based puzzles.

Young puzzlers can put their number and logic skills to the test with this ultimate book of over 180 sudoku puzzles. Inside you’ll find puzzles for everyone, from sudoku beginners to number ninjas. They’re graded by skill level so that you can start wherever you feel comfortable – then level up when you’re ready for a challenge. With epic cartoon illustrations, this collection offers hours of fun and satisfaction while improving memory and critical thinking too! Fantastic fun for puzzlers aged 7+.

Everything Under the Sun: a curious question for every day of the year by Molly Oldfield

This is a wonderful collection of 366 curious questions asked by children from around the world, based on the award-winning podcast by Molly Oldfield. How much bamboo can a giant panda eat? Do aliens exist? What we would do if we didn’t have a prime minister? Why do hammerhead sharks have such strange-shaped heads? Find out the answers to these curious questions and much, much more! Find out why you taste things differently when you have a cold with Michelin star chef, Heston Blumenthal. Learn about everything from how astronauts see in the dark to what the biggest dinosaur was with experts from the Natural History Museum. Fascinating facts are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations making this the perfect school holiday activity book. Whether you read a question a day, or dip into it whenever you are feeling curious, this is a book to treasure and share all year round.

Big Life Journal, Second Edition: A Growth Mindset Journal for Children by Alexandra Eidens

This is a second edition of the popular Big Life Journal for Children (you can buy the first edition here). It’s an illustrated and guided journal for children to develop a growth mindset, and promotes social-emotional learning. Children’s negative self-talk can lead to a fixed mindset, they begin to fear failure and their self-esteem plummets. As parents, we can make a huge impact on how much our kids believe in themselves and how they approach challenges. By giving them the right tools, we help them better understand their brain and learn the importance of positive self-talk.

Big Life Journal incorporates the latest research in positive psychology, brain science, and youth development. With plenty of room to draw and write on each page, this interactive journal is a growth mindset workbook for kids to work through at their own pace as they reflect, learn and grow. And there is a different engaging activity on every page, so this is the interactive journal kids will actually want to use! A life story journal becomes a beautiful future keepsake. With a bright, colourful and durable hard cover, this kids journal with prompts contains 176 high quality pages that stand up to pencils and markers with a lay-flat design, and a sewn in satin bookmark.

How to Draw a Mermaid and Other Cute Creatures by Lulu Mayo

From a magical mermicorn and a friendly narwhal to a puppy cupid and a panda cupcake, these cute creations are loads of fun to draw. The book demonstrates how to create quirky kawaii-style characters in an easy, step-by-step way that will also have readers coming up with their own cute characters in no time. Using simple shapes, illustrator Lulu Mayo explains how to draw each mythical, magical or just plain marvellous creature. Her 30 imaginative creations are sure to keep budding artists entertained and inspired to dream up their very own weird and wonderful characters.

if you have a budding artist that you know will love this book, Lulu has written more. You can find them here.

Puzzlooies! Space Cats to the Rescue: A Solve-the-Story Puzzle Adventure by Russell Ginns, Jonathan Maier

Snag a pencil. Sink into the story. Solve the puzzles – and save the day!

Say goodbye to boring downtime and hello to Puzzlooies!, the latest in portable entertainment. Meant for kids to write in, these illustrated and compact books flip up like a reporter’s notebook, making them perfect for fast fun while on-the-go. Each zany adventure is packed with eclectic puzzles to decipher and decode, as well as jokes, riddles, and true trivia galore that’ll keep readers laughing ’til the very end . . . if they can reach it!

Sharpen your pencils and prepare for liftoff! Here come . . . Space Cats to the Rescue! In this exciting Puzzlooey instalment, Earth is in big trouble. A deadly asteroid is on its way to pummel the planet. Humanity’s only hope is a fearless foursome of felines.

You can buy more Puzzlooies here

Give This Book a Cover by Jarrett Lerner

Inspire kids to grow their imaginations with this second collection of creative activities from Jarrett Lerner, author of the EngiNerds, Geeger the Robot, and Hunger Heroes series! This collection of fun, open-ended writing and drawing prompts will kick-start creativity and challenge kids to be imaginative in new ways with every turn of a page. The Finish This Comic section features a variety of scenarios and characters inspire kids to write and illustrate a six-panel story. How to Draw instructions encourage kids to find their own drawing styles. Drawing and writing prompts and a smorgasbord of other activities add to the fun perfect for home, road trips, school, and anywhere!

Enjoy!

The newest fiction hitting the market

While in lockdown many of us took up new hobbies, such as bread making, knitting, puzzle building, yoga with Adrienne, or podcasting, some of the clever clogs around the world wrote new books – and gosh are we thankful for that! There are so many new books hitting the market that we know you are going to love. This week we’re sharing new fiction titles and have chosen six that are highly likely to make your Christmas wishlist (is it too early to mention Christmas?). So sit back, and get ready to get clicking to let everyone know whether you want an audio, electronic or actual paper version. 

Cracked Pots by Heather Tucker

Cracked Pots s the much-anticipated follow-up novel from the author of The Clay Girl. The perfect girl, from the nicest family, vanishes. For once in Ari Appleton’s life, the mayhem is not the fault of her twisted mother or dead father – or is it? The tragedy unfolds, revelations surface, then one misstep cracks everything open, leaving 16-year-old Ari with terrifying questions. Are Appletons the root of all evil? From the waning flower-power ’60s in Toronto, through her East Coast university years, Ari fights to discover who she is and what it means to be the child of an addicted mother and depraved father. With wit, tenacity, and the incessant meddling of Jasper the seahorse in her head Ari rides turbulent waves of devilry and discovery, calamity and creation, abandonment and atonement on a journey to find her true self, and to find Natasha.

Cracked Pots is a story about a girl broken by both cruelty and truth. It is a revelation: that destiny is shaped in clay, not stone. It is also a celebration of rising after the blows, gathering the fragments, and piecing together a remarkable life through creativity, kindness, and belonging.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young-but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world? You can find Sally Rooney’s other books here.

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Freckles is the brand new novel from million-copy bestselling author Cecelia Ahern. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city. But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections. Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin. Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

After Story by Larissa Behrendt

When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother Della on a tour of England’s most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past. Twenty-five years earlier the disappearance of Jasmine’s older sister devastated their tight-knit community. This tragedy returns to haunt Jasmine and Della when another child mysteriously goes missing on Hampstead Heath. As Jasmine immerses herself in the world of her literary idols – including Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf – Della is inspired to rediscover the wisdom of her own culture and storytelling. But sometimes the stories that are not told can become too great to bear.

Ambitious and engrossing, After Story celebrates the extraordinary power of words and the quiet spaces between. We can be ready to listen, but are we ready to hear?

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

The Paper Palace is a magnificent literary debut about the myriad loves that make up a life. Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious fresh water pond below The Paper Palace, the gently decaying summer camp in the back woods of Cape Cod where her family has spent every summer for generations. As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from a dinner party the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the table cloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends. Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, up against the wall outside the house, as her husband and mother chatted to the dinner guests inside. So begins a story that unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision. Over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

Plum by Brendan Cowell

Plum is the wildly impressive, raucously funny and deeply moving second novel from award-winning writer, actor and director for television, theatre and film, Brendan Cowell. Peter ‘The Plum’ Lum is a 48-year-old ex-star NRL player, living with his son and girlfriend in Cronulla. He’s living a pretty cruisey life until one day he suffers an epileptic fit and discovers that he has a brain disorder as a result of the thousand-odd head knocks he took on the footy field in his twenty-year-career. According to his neurologist, Plum has to make some changes, right now, or it’s dementia, or even death. Reluctantly, Plum embarks on a journey of self-care and self-discovery, which is not so easy when all you’ve ever known is to go full tilt at everything. On top of this, he’s being haunted by dead poets, and, unable to stop crying, discovers he has a special gift for the spoken word. With spectral visits from Bukowski and Plath, the friendship of local misfits, and the prospect of new love, Plum might just save his own life. Plum is a powerfully moving, authentic, big-hearted, angry and joyous novel of men, their inarticulate pain and what it takes for them to save themselves – from themselves. It’s got a roaring energy, a raucous humour, a heart of gold and a poetic soul.

Enjoy!