Category Archives: Reviews

Book Reviews, Tech Savvy

What’s Your Dewey? 781 It’s All M.m.usic To My Ears…

Strictly speaking, 781 should get you books on the general principles of music and musical forms, but realistically, you will also find titles devoted to individual performers, bands and concerts. Being a bit of a purist, and genuinely interested on the assigned topic, I scanned the virtual shelves (the catalogue) to see what I could find.

The first title to attract my attention questioned my understanding of musical forms – I had always thought an audial relationship with music was intrinsic, and Air Guitar, A user’s guide by Bruno MacDonald did not strike me as a musical form. Perhaps it had something to say about the general principles of music?

Perhaps not. By way of introduction, the book states:  ‘Freddie Mercury did it. Hormone-addled adolescents do it. Grown men do it in the privacy of their own homes (and, sometimes, in dark public gatherings). There are even specialist computer games that encourage you to do it. It is air guitar.’ Clearly designed to attract attention,  what follows is more of a comic-style picture book than a serious attempt at discussing a musical form. The book is divided into three sections: Getting started, which includes basic accessories, (there are accessories?) and the Dos and Donts (…the general principles!);  Air Guitar Moves, which explains 12 moves including ‘The Hendrix’; and Going Pro, with ’50 fret fondling favourites’. The book is sparse on content, laid out like a storyboard complete with sketchy coloured line drawings…not exactly definitive but bound to attract the growing number of devotees.

Clearly, Air Guitar is part of the music scene. When looking at what else might be included as part of ‘the scene’, I came across a series of books aimed at teens and young adults called The Music Scene.








Matt Annis, author and journalist who has spent many years working within the music industry, has created this series of four titles that looks at the world of contemporary music. The Music Industry, The History of Modern Music, Music Fashion & Style and Performing Live, are easy to read and full of practical tips based on case studies featuring some of the world’s best known contemporary musical artists. Although slim, each title is packed with useful information. Published by Franklin Watts in 2012, the series is starting to date (as things quickly do in the pop industry) but many of the principles behind the how-to advice are relevant today.

Still on the hunt for titles on musical forms, Jazz : a beginner’s guide by Stuart Nicholson revived my hope that I am looking in the right place.

Like many, I have some preconceived (and potentially erroneous) ideas about what constitutes Jazz. A quick browse through this title, reassures me that Jazz is what I thought it to be, but also a lot more. Nicholson takes readers through Jazz early history in southern USA to modern jazz scenes around the world. He talks about the evolution of the word and concept that Jazz encompasses and the way that many listeners are predisposed to understanding it because of its close links to other mainstream forms such as blues, rock and roll and pop. The eleven chapters include The Blues, The American Popular Song, Rise of the Big Bands, Jazz Goes Modern  and Jazz in the Global Village. Each chapter is accompanied by a play list based on the form and style being discussed. You can take a peak inside here: Jazz-Beginners-Guide-Guides

Classical music is another form that has suffered from ‘bad press’ being labelled elitist and boring… but… What if it only took half a minute to better understand and appreciate what it is after all, the most freely available form of music: as background music, on the internet, in the media and used in some of our most famous jingles?

30-second classical music : the 50 most significant genres, composers and innovations, each explained in half a minute
edited by Joanne Cormac is one book that promises to deliver just that! In his forward, David Pickard says ‘The book proves that it is possible to be brief, succinct and insightful without being patronising or simplistic… every significant development [in the history of classical music] seems to be covered.’ In writing this book, Joanne Cormac’s aim is to dispel some of the myths surrounding classical music, to demystify some of the jargon and to open it up to a broader audience. The seven sections of the book take readers on a journey through the earliest instruments and monastic plainchant to the electronic music of modern composition. Each section has a glossary and the text is clearly laid out and nicely illustrated to encourage browsing and return visits. Not a book you have to consume in one sitting, but you could.
You can preview the book here: 30-Second-Classical-Music

There is always the danger when books try to simplify ideas and concepts that they will offend potential readers by ‘talking down’ to them. The  books ...for Dummies series makes no attempt to disguise the fact that they assume readers have little or no knowledge of the topic at hand. Music theory for dummies by Michael Pilhofer and Holly Day is no exception.

Like many titles in the series, the book takes readers back to the basics: Note values and counting, Treble and Bass clefs, Time signatures, Tempo and Tone, Key signatures, Scales and  chords are all included with Music theory’s history an added bonus that puts it all in perspective. The book is well structured and easy to follow. It provides examples of music to compliment the text, chord charts and audio examples on CD (piano and guitar). It also has a companion website that you can visit here:

Although not exactly a musical form, the music that consistently attracts audiences is music that includes a combination of voice and inspiring lyrics – collectively known as ‘songs’. 

First published in 2005, 1001 songs you must hear before you die edited by Robert Dimery has become one of the most popular musical go-to reference books, listing some of the world’s most famous popular songs beginning early 20th century. Each featured song title includes its unique backstory with illustrations, and is placed in context of time and musical influences (with similar genre-titles included). A range of music journalists have also contributed to the book. Although heavily biased toward music from the USA, the list includes titles in French, Spanish, Italian and German. An easy to browse book, that has been consistently updated with the latest release in 2016. You can also sample song titles based on the book online at: 

There is no doubt that music plays an important part in our lives. Neurologists, scientists, doctors and teachers agree that exposure to music at an early age has positive benefits for life: positive for early childhood development; for our schooling and education; for our health and well being and ultimately, for our longevity. Music therapy is increasingly being incorporated in medicine to assist with pain management, healing and recovery and mental and emotional resilience.

Music remembers me : connection and wellbeing in dementia
by Kirsty Beilharz  aims to address both the practitioner and those without experience or training, looking for ‘quick start’ guidelines. Beilharz makes strong links between the mind and music engagement for dementia sufferers, and provides practical advice on introducing music to their daily care. The book includes moving stories from Australian health and aged care providers HammondCare and is considered a ground-breaking book on the topic.
You can view the book-launch trailer here: Music Remembers Me

So, it seems that there is much to learn about musical principles and forms in the 781s (with a little Dewey perseverance and leeway given) and… the next time that song or piece of music gets stuck in my head and just won’t go away? I’ll just assume its all for the best!
Nola Cavallaro


Tech Savvy: A-Z Apps Series – Music

So we’ve obviously come a long way since playing records was the only way to put together a playlist of our favourite tunes. We can now have a personal rock concert, symphony orchestra, dance party or chill out session at our finger tips and playing just for us, owing to the many options for headphones available on the market.

Whether you’re at the gym, on your daily commute, studying or just generally trying to tune out the world, there are many options for you to listen to your favourites, something new or something to get you fired up for your PT session. What’s your go-to music app? Do you have any pros or cons that made the decision for you?

Many music streaming services have popped up and disappeared over the last 5 years. With such a new way of tuning into your music there have been many ideas explored to bring streaming services to the consumer. When using the streaming services on your mobile phone you will need to check whether your data allowance is adequate or if that service is included in your phone’s data plan, otherwise you’ll find you’re out of data before your month has barely begun. Many music artists have added their titles to some or all of these services. If your music collection is looking a little dated and you’re keen to try something new we’ve highlighted some of the more popular streaming services below.

Spotify: is a great way to get some music on the go without needing to organise it yourself. Download your app, sign up (free or premium accounts) and hit play. There are restrictions to the free account that might make you consider the paid version. If you don’t mind the ads and don’t usually skip your songs then you’ll find the free version is fine for you. Spotify gives you access to millions of songs to create your own playlists and as one of the most used music streaming services in the world, you may even find your bestie’s fave playlist or a playlist compiled by your favourite artist.

Apple Music
: The streaming music service created by Apple for their customers, synced across all their devices they have logged into with their Apple ID. Apple Music is a paid subscriptions only service to give users an extra 40 million songs to their own library, with different prices for students, individuals or families. Create your own playlist or get Apple Music to create something for you based on your music preferences. Connect your Apple devices to play your selections through your iPhone, Apple Watch or their upcoming Home pod. You can also move your playlists to your device to limit your data usage and listen offline.

iHeartRadio: Launched in Australia during 2013 this recommender system radio station has multiple music stations and offers free, ‘Plus’ and ‘All Access’ subscription services. Available on many devices including home and automotive smart systems. Also, using the All Access Services means you will be able to save live broadcasts to your digital playlists to get more bang for your buck.

Shazam: is an application used to recognise the music and TV that is playing near you. Starting out as a text messaging service, it has evolved into a way music artists can keep fans up to date with their latest music offerings and their music tastes. By holding your open app up to the music playing locally, it will ‘listen’ and check against the database of songs, artists and albums to return information to you about track details, artist information, lyrics, videos, concert tickets etc. So the next time you’re walking through somewhere wondering ‘that song is really good, I wonder what it is?’ …you can now answer that question and find your next favourite artist, song or album.

Google Play Music: Just like some of the previous options, you have a choice of paid or free subscriptions to access the music service. The paid subscription service will also give subscribers ad-free access to YouTube Red, the premium offering from YouTube. There is an Offline Mixtape functionality for you to listen offline to your playlists. And if you’re not sure what to listen to next, you can mix your own library with the radio stations and get an eclectic mix. Don’t like the current song? You can skip unlimited times with their paid ‘All Access’ pass. Would you like to know what that song is playing near you right now? Google Play Music has a Shazam style ‘identify what’s playing’ option which will connect you with the music, artist and anything available on YouTube for you to watch.

So it comes down to whether you want to keep your favourite tunes or just listen to what takes your fancy at the time. Do you want all the bells and whistles that come with the paid subscriptions or are you just happy to have any music to listen to? Do you mind ads appearing in between your songs, like a radio station, or are you looking to get away from the radio and just have music? All these are great questions for deciding on a music streaming service, and luckily, most services have a great intro price or free service model for you to test them. What is your go-to music service? Are you intrigued and want to give it a try? Let us know what you think!
Melinda Kennedy

What’s Your Dewey? 730 Sculpt-it, Weld-it, Throw-it!

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Recent reading trends indicate that non-fiction books are increasingly popular and in particular, craft and hobby titles are being sought. Anyone seeking these titles in the library will know that they are dispersed fairly evenly across the 700s of the library shelves. While textile and print arts and craft have maintained a consistent representation, the ‘harder’ (because of the nature of resources they use) and more manual crafts have often been poorly represented. There are usually ‘Coffee Table’ books, great to look at but not particularly practical if you want the ‘how to’ version.  The ‘doing’ is what people are looking for so I thought I’d see what was around to inspire confidence.

When you are a novice and want some easy projects to build your confidence, I find children’s books are good at providing simple, step-by-step instructions that result in successful creative outcomes.

Cover image for 123 I can sculpt! / Irene Luxbacher.

1 2 3 I can Sculpt  by Irene Luxbacher is part of the Starting Art series of books for children that encourage the use of materials at hand, focus on the process for developing skills and affirm that there are no ‘mistakes’ in the creative process, merely design alterations.  Each page provides illustrated, step-by-step instructions to help budding sculptors complete projects such as a toothy crocodile and a sunbathing sea lion, using a variety of simple techniques. The book includes a visual glossary of key art terms. View an example page here:

Still with books for children, Out of the box by  Jemma Westing provides step-by-step instructions for building items that can be worn, played with or sat on using recycled materials most commonly found at home (cardboard boxes and rolls). From masks to puppets to cars to castles, the projects can be do-it-alone or do-it-together. Instructions are clearly written and illustrated. The book begins with some basic skills for working with cardboard, the tools required and includes templates to get you started.
You can take a quick peak here:

With the advent of digital reading, there has been a sharp increase in the number of old and unwanted books – too good to bin but not good enough to keep in perpetuity. The notion of book craft or book art has morphed into the physical remaking of the book form into works of art. While not a new idea (pop-up books, known as mechanical or moveable books, have existed since the 13th century) the creative art form today can be spectacular.


Folded book art : 35 beautiful projects to transform your books – create cards, display scenes, decorations, gifts, and more by Clare Youngs presents readers with 35 book crafting projects with step-by-step illustrated and photographed instructions. The book is divided into chapters that looks at different techniques for transforming old books: Folding, Scene-making (cutting and gluing) and ‘Refashioned’ pages. Some easy and not so easy projects are included from a butterfly opening to a fairytale castle. Some inspiring ideas. You can view excerpts here:

Working with clay has maintained steady interest but many have been put off by the mess or the extent of equipment required. As a consequence, air-dry clay has become quite popular.

Make it with air-dry clay by Fay De Winter is a good start to using air-dry clay. The book includes 20 projects aimed at different skill levels. The first chapter includes information on materials, tools, equipment and techniques before going into the projects. Projects include planters, pots, bowls and jewelry and all projects come with photos and detailed, easy-to-follow instructions. Great reviews from those who have used the book and best of all – no kiln required!

 Of course some people prefer the more traditional approach to working with clay and the Beginner’s guide to sculpting characters in clay may be just the book to look at.

The book features detailed guides to tools and techniques with helpful hints from leading professional sculptors such as Glauco Longhi and Romain Van den Bogaert. Comprehensive tutorials follow the sculpting process from developing a character, creating armatures to finishing and setting the final sculpture. Suitable for novices and digital sculptors wanting to learn more about traditional techniques.

 If you like the idea of working with clay but prefer results to be metal based, then metal clay might prove to be your ideal medium. Since its creation in the 1990s by Japanese metallurgist Dr. A. Morikawa, metal clay has created a small revolution in the world of jewelry making and small-scale sculpting. Intrigued?  The art of metal clay: techniques for creating jewelry and decoriative objects by award-winning author, illustrator and product designer Sherri  Haab might be just the right title to get you started on this crafting design experience.

First published in 2004, The Art of Metal Clay explores the many artistic applications for this moldable, malleable clay that becomes pure metal after it’s fired. The current edition includes updated and user-friendly information, including instructions for successful firing; techniques for etching metal clay and adding color with pigments and enamels. The book also includes examples from well recognised metal clay artists. Inspiring illustrations compliment clear instruction, guides and resource lists. Take a quick look here:

Working with metals and repurposing metallic objects is now part of the up-cycling movement turning waste into garden and household furniture and art.

DIY rustic modern metal crafts : 35 creative upcycling ideas for galvanized metal by Laura Putnam provides step-by-step instructions on transforming scrap metal, sheet iron, buckets, bins and stove end-caps into home decor. Projects include items both practical and whimsical, and Putman also includes methods for ‘ageing’ new galv. metal if you can’t find ‘the right’ old material to repurpose.
Take a look here:

If you are undecided about the type of art that most appeals, a generic book might be more useful to you.

Nola Cavallaro

What’s Your Dewey? 640s Food: For Thought or Sustenance?

Food: We have too much and too little; it’s too sweet or too fatty; there aren’t enough vitamins, or minerals, or fibre; it’s wonderful to look at, or not; great to eat, or not; we can’t avoid it and we love to romance it. Whatever your relationship with food, there is no doubt that if you have the luxury of choice, you are always on the lookout for something to tease, tempt and tantalize.

Despite today’s plethora of ebooks and apps on the topic of food (see our previous Tech Savvy A-Z of Apps article), cookbooks are still in high demand as any visit to a book store or the 640 shelves in a public library will confirm. With so many reading choices, I decided to take an eclectic look at the titles available and came up with this brief selection.

There comes a time each year when my chooks are enthusiastically doing what chooks do so well… lay eggs. Consequently, I am always on the look out for new ways with eggs. How to boil an egg by Rose Bakery (aka Rose Carrarini) is a collection of simple and unusual recipes from renowned English chef Rose Carrarini’s Rose Bakery.  Recipes highlight the versatility of eggs and include both classic and contemporary approaches – basics like poached, scrambled and fried; to muffins, pancakes, tarts, gratins, cakes and puddings. While not completely inspiring with adventuresome recipes, there are certainly some good options to try. What others have said…
“A treasury of scrambled, fried, baked, poached and more.”—Country & Town House
“Heralding a new era of egg loving… An egg odyssey… Beautiful.”—Metro

Anyone who has ever tried to grow their own and succeeded will know that beans are boom or bust garden produce. Beans: A History by Ken Albala looks at the fascinating history of this early human cultivar in its many forms, and the way it has underpinned the development of diverse cultures throughout history. says of it: ‘The humble bean has always attracted attention – from Pythagoras’ notion that the bean hosted a human soul to St. Jerome’s indictment against bean-eating in convents (because they “tickle the genitals”), to current research into the deadly toxins contained in the most commonly eaten bean’. Graced with 55 intriguing and tempting recipes from around the world, the book makes a great addition to cookbook lists.
You can preview the book here:

While the bean is well recognised as a great ‘old world’ food in our modern kitchens, it is not by any means the only ancient food source to consider when looking at revitalising our food understanding. The oldest foods on Earth : a history of Australian native foods, with recipes by John Newton, ‘looks at the flora and fauna that nourished the Aboriginal peoples for over 50,000 years. It is because European Australians have hardly touched these foods for over 200 years that I am writing it’  says Newton. Newton argues we need to eat different foods: ‘foods that will help to reconcile us with the land and its first inhabitants’. There is increasing acceptance of traditional Australian ingredients with kangaroo, quondong, muntries and a large variety of Australian seafood being examples of foods that are now considered standard fare. Contributing chefs like Peter Gilmore, Maggie Beer and sous chef Beau Clugston, make a convincing argument for native food inclusion in our restaurants but I can’t help but think it also needs a less ‘haute cuisine’ approach, if it is to herald a ‘new food revolution’.

Of course some ancient foods require a lot more encouragement than others. In its revised form, The eat-a-bug Cookbook by David George Gordon, does much to encourage us to take a more unbiased approach to bug-eating. Bugs are plentiful and rich in protein and have other beneficial nutrients, points out naturalist chef David George Gordon. Gordon also likes to stress that ‘bug-eating is fun, exciting, and downright delicious!’ Entomophagy (or bug-eating) is enthusiastically explored with instructions on DIY home-grown harvests and recipes to tempt adventurous epicurians. How about these ideas to tempt your flagging taste buds? Orthopteran Orzo—pasta salad with a cricket-y twist, Deep-Fried Tarantula and White Chocolate and Wax Worm Cookie. You needn’t take my word of course – take a peak inside here:

Of course the Australian answer to all food dilemnas is to simply – throw it on the barbie! The Aussie BBQ bible : 100+ recipes for the great outdoors by Oscar Smith aims to help you get the most out of your barbie, regardless of type, sophistication or simplicity. Chapters include how to barbecue most meats (chicken, beef, lamb, pork and seafood), but also a generous helping of barbecuing recipes for vegetarians and dessert fans.
 So… how do you cook a chicken if not on a barbecue? According to its dedicated website, Fifty Shades of Chicken by F. L. Fowler is a ‘spoof in a cookbook …A parody in three acts – “The Novice Bird” (easy recipes for roasters), “Falling to Pieces” (parts perfect for weeknight meals), and “Advanced Techniques” (the climax of cooking)’. Despite the ‘saucy’ approach to recipe delivery Fifty Shades of Chicken offers fifty dishes that will boost your repertoire. I will leave you with a recipe quote: ‘Dripping Thighs ….  as he coats my thighs with sticky liquid I can hardly contain myself. Tempted? You can visit the website here:
 When my brain fails and I simply can’t think of a thing I want to eat or prepare, I turn to logic – What’s in my cupboard? What’s in my fridge? What’s in my where-with-all? Perhaps I need a clone… or a robot to cook? Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson: A Computer-Generated Cookbook from IBM & the Institute of Culinary Education is IBM’s attempt at a logical approach to just this dilemma. ‘IBM’s Jeopardy star “Watson” tries its circuitry at something better than trivia – cooking… in a creative attempt to break free of culinary ruts and open the minds of chefs to new flavor combinations.’ Tens of thousands of recipes, flavor profiles, the chemical composition of foods, have all been input into Watson to deliver a plethora of computer-generated recipes. Sections include home cooking, travel cooking, restaurant fare and cocktails. Although it has a slight USA bias in its approach to food, it does offer interesting ideas.  An review says of it ‘a perfect example of the science behind cooking.’ Of course there is a website:  … and an app.
You can view an example here

Nola Cavallaro

Kate Colquhoun,

What’s Your Dewey? 340 Law

Have you ever come across something that really bothered you to the point you thought ‘Surely they can’t get away with that? There must be a law about that sort of thing!’ Examples big and small abound: Urban developments advertising SPACE  (the 10cms between rooftops?); or people constantly blocking your driveway making it difficult to safely enter or exit your property; or tradies who botch a very expensive job; or the sudden disappearance of the last remnant vegetation on route to work… There may very well be a law to cover all contingencies, but then again – maybe not.

We are constantly governed by laws, they pervade our every action in society – yet do we really know what they are and what our rights are within them? Fortunately, there are books out there to help us better understand the law and how they translate into our rights and responsibilities. Below are just a few examples.


Natural resources and environmental justice : Australian perspectives; editors: Anna Lukasiewicz, Stephen Dovers, Libby Robin, Jennifer McKay, Steven Schilizzi and Sonia Graham. There is little to show us how to achieve fairness and equity in environmental governance and public policy, ultimately causing conflict between different community interests. Natural Resources and Environmental Justice identifies best practice in Australian environmental management. Written by experts in in the fields of environment, social sciences, law and economics, this book covers many current issues, including coal seam gas, desalination plants, community relations in mining and forestry, the rise of sea-levels and animal rights. It proposes a social justice framework and an agenda for future research in environmental management.


Integrating human service law, ethics and practice by Rosemary Kennedy, Jenny Richards, Tania Leiman, introduces human service workers, psychologists and social workers to the relationship between law, ethics and human practice. It includes activities for practitioners to improve their understanding of how human services and the law interact, giving them an appreciation of how it impacts their work. Included are real-life cases involving human services.

Law’s Strangest Cases: Extraordinary but True Tales from over FiveCenturies of Legal History by Peter Seddon.
Nothing but the truth, the whole truth and the unbelievable truth from this fascinating collection of the strangest cases ever to appear in a court of law. A rollicking collection of barely believable stories from five centuries of legal history – you’ll be gripped by these tales of murder, intrigue, crime, punishment and the pursuit of justice. Meet the only dead parrot ever to give evidence in a court of law, the doctor with the worst bedside manner of all time, the murderess who collected money from her mummified victim for 21 years, and explore one of the most indigestible dilemmas – if you’d been shipwrecked 2,000 miles from home, would you have eaten Parker the cabin boy? The tales within these pages are bizarre, fascinating, hilarious and, most importantly, true. (Harper Collins) Look inside here:

Crimes that shaped the law by David Field. The law is constantly changing to reflect the society it serves. Criminal cases arise that dramatically dictate the need for alterations. This book includes twelve real-life cases that triggered some of these changes. The cases include ‘baby farming’, domestic violence, mistaken identity and sleepwalking killers. The laws affected involve the accused’s ‘right to silence’, the ‘battered woman syndrome’ and the validity of eyewitness accounts.


The journalist’s guide to media law : a handbook for communicators in a digital world by Mark Pearson ; Mark Polden.
We are all journalists and publishers now: at the touch of a button we can send our words, sounds and images out to the world … and everything you publish or broadcast is still subject to the law. But which law?’ This is a practical guide to the laws governing online media addressing a broad range of topics including defamation, privacy, intellectual property and ethics. ‘The leading text book from which most journos learned their law’ – Margaret Simons, Director of Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne
Take a sneak peek here:

Of course this list is only scratching the surface of the law titles available, on topics addressing all fields of social interaction. Just type the word law into any catalogue to browse.

Nola Cavallaro