Welcome to the libraries’ News Blog! Here you’ll find reviews of new books, information about what’s happening at our libraries, and any breaking author news. We’ll also keep you up to date with exciting book award shortlists and prize announcements as they come to us, so check back often!

Did you know we also have other library blogs?

You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook

ComicFest: @UnityBooks & @WCL_Library share their favourite comics

The Unity Books team, one of our generous ComicFest sponsors, and our Wellington City Librarians have collaborated what they think are the best Comics/Graphic Novels. This list was phenomenal so we’ve broken it up. Below is just part one of many posts to come over the next week.

Share your thoughts and additions for this list in the comments section below or flick us both a tweet at @wcl_library and @unitybooks

Dylan Sherwood, Unity Books:

Tain’t The Meat… It’s The Humanity – Jack Davis
This is an essential volume in the continuing EC Library series published by Fantagraphics.
Jack Davis and his partners in crime at EC were hugely influential on the Zap comic artists of the ‘60’s who in turn did their best to shock and awe their peers. Let your host in howls, the Crypt Keeper, tell you terrifying tales that have stood the test of time. Even when the characters are dead, these panels are alive and kicking.
Also recommended: Corpse On The Imjin! and other stories – Harvey Kurtzman

Cruisin With The Hound – Spain Rodriguez
Spain’s “Trashman” character makes sense when you read the wild and unruly autobiographical yarns collected here. Misspent youth in biker gangs and all manner of sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and violence make for fascinating glimpses of a genuinely rebellious life. The interview with the author by Gary Groth is just the file in the cake. !Viva Spain!
Also recommended: Che: A Graphic Biography – Spain Rodriguez

Skin Deep – Charles Burns
Three twisted tales from 1988-1992, rendered in stunning black and white by a horror comic maestro. “Dog Days” follows the trials and tribulations of a man living with a transplanted dog heart. “Burn Again” recalls the tortured life of a child faith healer turned televangelist as he prepares his Doomsday cult for Armageddon. “A Marriage Made In Hell” is a 50’s style love comic with a plot that could have been written by Ed Wood Jr and directed by Pedro Almodovar.
Favourite Charles Burns comic? Black Hole.

West Coast Blues & Like A Sniper Lining Up His Shot – Jacques Tardi
If the downward spiral trajectory of film noir and the moodiness of Jean-Pierre Melville’s hard boiled characters strike a chord, look no further. Tardi’s masterful adaptations of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s brutal novels are perfect reading material for a rainy winter night.
Also recommended: New York Mon Amour – Jacques Tardi

Hip Hop Family Tree #1: 1970’s -1981 – Ed Piskor
It’s a treat to read Piskor’s history of Hip Hop in book form after checking out the Boing Boing online serial. The paper and format are well chosen and the vignettes of victors and villains who contributed to the birth of a new form of music are rivetting. I’m looking forward to the next volume.
Also recommended: The Beats: A Graphic History text by Harvey Pekar et al., art by Ed Piskor et al., edited by Paul Buhle.

No Man’s Land – Blexbolex
An infernal detective story full of black humour that unfolds at a relentless, insane pitch with the unfortunate narrator careening from one strange episode to the next. This book employs a unique spot colour print process that gives it a handmade, screen printed look that, combined with a beautiful palette, is very easy on the eye.
Also recommended: Ballad – Blexbolex

Prison Pit Book One – Johnny Ryan
Raw, brutal, rough and bloody, this is the perfect antidote to tweeness. Our hero, Cannibal F*ckface, must fight to live on a barren and extremely hostile planet where rules are made to be devoured and excreted and the only winner is humour.
Further trauma can be found here: Prison Pit Book Four – Johnny Ryan

Dungeon Quest Book One, Dungeon Quest Book Two & Dungeon Quest Book Three – Joe Daly
You don’t have to be familiar with role playing games to find this series hilarious. This satire of sword and sorcery tropes is captivating, great artwork and funny dialogue spouted by ridiculous, brave characters on a silly and savage quest.
Also recommended: The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book – Joe Daly

Congress Of The Animals & Fran – Jim Woodring
The first and second graphic novels to feature Woodring’s character, Frank, who dwells in an incomparable world unto itself. Dali and Disney could have dreamt this up together. The ink vibrates on the page and tickles your subconscious so whether or not the stories make sense to you at the end, these trips are well worth taking.
Also recommended: Weathercraft – Jim Woodring

Frith, Wellington City Libraries:

Relish, by Lucy Knisley
I love this book. Being a mix of colourful, appealing comic strips, memoir, and love letter to food WITH RECIPES, it’s got what I’d call a broad appeal base. The recipes are amazing, and reading Lucy’s stories of growing up with two foodie parents, gathering food wild, working in restaurant kitchens, holding stalls at country markets, and selling cheese to some very picky customers is like warm, delicious nostalgia for the childhood food experiences you wish you’d had. Perfect winter reading.

Darth Vader and Son AND Vader’s Little Princess
These are hilarious, one-shot or one-page cartoons depicting scenes that didn’t make it to the movies, but you know must have happened. Like when Luke gives Vader a terrible tie, and he has to wear it to the Imperial council. Horrifying.

A Taste of Chlorine
I said I hated this once. But once I got over feeling all bitter about relationships I appreciated it. The art is so lovely and it paces the story really, really well, with swimming sequences (the story takes place in and around a pool complex) being a page of turquoise panels and stroking arms, putting you firmly in the protagonist’s point of view (he doesn’t particularly relish the repetition, either). It’s also a slice of life ending – the reader is left to draw what resolution they can from the final panels of the book, or conclude that such a resultion may be impossible, or out of reach (ooh, spoiler!). Definitely one for the post-modernists among us.

First of all this is kind of R16 for pretty explicit nudity/ sex scenes, abuse of all kinds, and torture. Habibi puts the ‘graphic’ into graphic novel, that’s for sure. But the story is beautiful, a love story about growing up, finding a place to be, and against the odds, to be with the one you love. Habibi follows the lives of its two main protagonists from childhood to adult life in a fictionalised version of Islamic culture, and touches on themes of identity, social roles, survival, environmental degradation, power and faith. The main characters’ religious ideals – and the overarching narrative of Islamic creation and myth – are woven into the story and play a large part in the climactic scenes. The look and art of the book is inflected by this too, with ideas around writing and sacred words a large part of the design of the gorgeous, black and white illustrations. At over 600 pages this is a loooong comic book, but very worth a read.

Zahra’s Paradise
Graphic novels as protest journalism. Zahra’s Paradise tells not ‘the’ story, but ‘a’ story of the Iranian 2009 revolution, and so presents an on-the-ground and tragic view of disappearance and extra-judicial brutality after the 2009 elections. It is lightly fictionalised and written under a pseudonym for the authors’ safety, and the story of his missing brother, and their mother’s tenacious search for him or his remains, is moving and informative.

Hark, A Vagrant!
Kate Beaton makes jokes about history (and the Great Gatsby!) in comic book form. What could be better?

An examination, in comic panels, of the global economic system from the ground up. Straight-up and straightforward, with the author’s comic-self guiding you through tricky concepts and time periods, it’s a useful and fun (NOT a word I ever thought of applying to economics before) introduction to one of the systems that run the world. Perfect if you’ve forgotten all your high school economics, or just want to get an overview.

Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep, Vols. I-VI / Phillip K. Dick
Phillip K. Dick’s tale of despair and humanity in a ruined urban wasteland future is the story that became ‘Blade Runner’, and is known and renowned round the world. The grim, but flashy details of the futuristic world and android struggles translate better in comic book format than they ever did as a novel, in my not-very-humble opinion.

The Night Bookmobile / Audrey Niffenegger
Every person has, shadowing them through their life, their personalised bookmobile, filled with everything they’ve ever read, comforting them in low times and inspiring them for high. The book is a story of the protagonist’s brief encounter with the mobile library and her quest to re-discover it, no matter the cost. One for the librarians from the author of the Time-Traveller’s Wife.

And of course the inestimable Calvin and Hobbes. I loved this when I was a kid, and of course I paid most attention to Calvin, even though I thought him a brat and sympathised more with Susie, the (would-be) victim of Calvin’s many pranks. Now reading it as an adult, I get the jokes. And they’re great jokes.

New Contemporary Fiction for April

The European prize winning novel by Patrick Deville, Plague and Cholera, is highly recommended and heads this month’s selection of the latest new contemporary fiction. All provide great reading.

Syndetics book coverPlague and cholera / Patrick Deville ; translated from French by J.A. Underwood.
“Paris, May 1940. As Nazi troops storm the city, at Le Bourget airport, on the last flight out, sits Dr Alexandre Yersin, his gaze politely turned away from his fellow passengers with their jewels sewn into their luggage. He is too old for the combat ahead, and besides he has already saved millions of lives. Swiss by birth and trained in Germany and France, he had a romantic hunger for adventure, fuelled by tales of Livingstone and Conrad, he sailed to Asia. A true traveler of the century, he wanted to comprehend the universe, ceaselessly curious and courageous, Yersin stands, a genius, against a backdrop of world wars, pandemics, colonialism, progress and decadence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAndrew’s brain / E.L. Doctorow.
“The confined thoughts of Andrew, a troubled cognitive scientist, whose conversation with an unknown questioner details the dissolution of his own relationships, career, and connection with his child. Andrew’s frantic language paints an increasingly fragmented worldview marred by disorientation. Periodically challenged by the questioner, Andrew is forced to confront his tendency toward a revisionist history and critically focus on the emotional impact of his actions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEvery single minute / Hugo Hamilton. “A moving portrait of an Irish writer dying of cancer. Visiting Berlin for the first and last time, she is remembered, in prose of arresting directness, by the book’s narrator. Touring the city, Úna strives still to understand the tragic death of her younger brother. At last, at a performance of the opera ‘Don Carlo’, she realises the true cost of letting memory dictate the course of her life.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Arctic summer / Damon Galgut.
“In 1912, the SS Birmingham approaches India. On board is Morgan Forster, novelist and man of letters, who is embarking on a journey of discovery. This book evokes the life and work of E.M. Forster, his travels to India, and the freedom and inspiration he found there.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMotherland / Maria Hummel.
“A deserter in Nazi Germany, on his way back to his family, hid letters from his new wife in an attic wall, where they were discovered decades later. Those letters led his granddaughter, poet and fiction writer Hummel, to explore the experience of Germans who struggled to keep their lives intact during WWII. Motherland follows Liesl, who recently married Frank, a widower, and is now caring for his three sons while he works as a surgeon stationed elsewhere. With separate struggles, including a debilitating illness striking one of the boys, Liesl and Frank’s stories unfold alongside each other but are only loosely connected, highlighting the depth of their separation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIrène / Pierre Lemaitre ; translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
“For Commandant Verhoeven life is beautiful: he is happily married, expecting his first child with the lovely Irène. But his blissful existence is punctured by a murder of unprecedented savagery. Worse still, the press seem to have it in for him, his every move is headline news. When he discovers that the killer has killed before, that each murder is homage to a classic crime novel, the fourth estate is quick to coin a nickname, The Novelist. With both men in the public eye, the case develops into a personal duel, each hell-bent on outsmarting the other. There can only be one winner, whoever has the least to lose.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverAll that is solid melts into air / Darragh McKeon.
“Russia, 1986. In a run-down apartment block in Moscow, a nine-year-old piano prodigy practices silently for fear of disturbing the neighbours. In a factory on the outskirts of the city, his aunt makes car parts, trying to hide her dissident past. In the hospital, a surgeon immerses himself in his work to avoid facing his failed marriage. And in a rural village in Belarus, a teenage boy wakes up to a sky of the deepest crimson. Outside, the ears of his neighbour’s cattle are dripping blood. Ten miles away, at the Chernobyl Power Plant, something unimaginable has happened. Now their lives will change forever.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe ghost of the Mary Celeste / Valerie Martin.
“A ghost ship appears in the mist. To the struggling author Arthur Conan Doyle, it is an inspiration. To Violet Petra, the gifted American psychic, it is a cruel reminder. To the death-obsessed Victorian public, it is a fascinating distraction, and to one family, tied to the sea for generations, it is a tragedy. In salons and on rough seas, at séances and in the imagination of a genius, these stories converge in unexpected ways as the mystery of the ghost ship deepens. But will the sea yield its secrets, and to whom?” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe Auschwitz escape / Joel C. Rosenberg.
“Luc, a French pastor, who is sentenced to the Auschwitz death camp for helping Jews, joins forces with Jacob, a Jewish man sent to the camp after his attempt to hijack a train bound for Auschwitz fails. Together they plan to escape to tell an unbelieving world about the Holocaust.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret of Raven Point : a novel / Jennifer Vanderbes.
“When her brother goes missing in Italy during WWII, young Juliet Dufresne signs up to be an army nurse. She and her brother have always been very close, and she cannot imagine her family life going on without him. Once in Italy, in addition to assisting in the constant surgeries performed at field hospitals, she helps psychiatrist Dr. Henry Willard, who is doing pioneering work on battle fatigue. When she finds out that patient Christopher Barnaby, a deserter up for court-martial, served in her brother’s unit, she becomes determined to bring Christopher out of his catatonic state so that he can tell her what happened to her brother.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

听说写, 学英文

Learn English from Chinese using our Overdrive eBook and eAudiobook collections.

在家也能学英语了. 除了阅读非常方便的电子书以外,您还可以在家听这些电子有声读物, 学习标准的英文发音: 英语语言课程 会将每个句子用中文和英文阅读; Easy Pronounciation 会教纯正的英文发音; Easy English Vocabulary 会讲解词语, 意思, 和对话.

Overdrive cover 临时应急会话宝典 (Emergency Conversation Skills), by [爱尔兰]艾诗琳 (eBook)
“本书主要是为英语口语学习者准备的,以句子的形式表达各种情况。句子中包括了实用的词汇及短语。对于有相同说法的词语或句子,书中也做了说明。本书以主题划分,分为十大主题,主题以下又划分为具体的状况,比如:逛街购物时如何讨价还价,挑选衣服;面试找工作时,应聘者如何自我介绍,面试者如何提问;身在外国时需要去药店、去医院等等,涉及日常生活、工作、出国等方方面面,读者可以很轻松地找到应急的那句话。同时还配备MP3,让你听到原汁原味的英音。” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover 新编商务英语谈判技巧, by 丁丽军 (eBook)
“编写本教材旨在为高职高专院校商务英语专业学生学习国际商务谈判知识,熟悉跨文化交流的要求,掌握跨文化交流的技巧,提高国际商务谈判能力提供有效的训练指南与训练素材。全书分16个单元,涵盖国际商务谈判的各个方面,其中包括谈判目标的建立、谈判信息的收集、国际商务谈判的原则、谈判的质量要求及在不同场景下与不同谈判主题的谈判技巧介绍和对应的练习。本教材结合商务英语专业的培养特点,各单元内容丰富,既提供了专业性较强的知识讲解,也配备了简单实用的语言和专业练习;既体现了专业知识讲授的特点,也兼顾了科学的语言教学方法。教材专业性强、实用性突出,适合高职院校商务英语专业及经贸类相关专业学生使用,也可作为具有初、中级英语水平学习者的业余学习材料。” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover English Course (from Chinese), by Ann-Charlotte Wennerholm (Audiobook)
“English Basic Course. Listen-Repeat-Learn. Listen: Hear a phrase first in Chinese and then twice in English. Repeat: Practice at your own pace and learn the pronunciation. Learn: You may begin to start using your new language within a few exercises. This is a bilingual (Chinese to English) downloadable course in English. The course contains of 3 hours MP3/AAC-file downloaded recorded material and 2 course booklets in PDF-format.” (Abridged from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover English Grammar for Chinese Speakers, by Linan Shi (eBook)
English Grammar for Chinese Speakers is the only book available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level Chinese students, teachers, interpreters, and translators interested in mastering the English language. The book divides English grammar learning into three basic sentence patterns: 1. subject – link verb – predicative, 2. subject – predicate, and 3. there be. Grammar content is essential for students to acquire the important skills and master the English language. Tools used in the book are easy to learn and understand. Furthermore, the book contains very useful vocabulary for practice in every day’s life communications. Students are sure to get the best results through learning the parts of speech and sentences. When applying all the vocabulary in this book into the three basic sentence patterns, students will be ready to enter into the mainstream English-speaking society everywhere.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover 物流英语, by 刘晶璟 熊秀琼 (eBook)
“本书内容涵盖了物流系统中各环节的专业英语知识,具体包括物流及供应链、运输、配送、库存管理、物料搬运、包装、客户服务、物流信息技术、国际采购、货运代理、物流单据、商务函件等。  全书分为12个单元,每单元设理论教学和实训部分。理论教学部分根据单元主题编写两篇英文课文,文章选材新颖、难度适宜,每篇课文后设有单词表、注释及不同形式的练习题。实训部分特别设计了技能训练和实用短句,训练形式多样,采取情境对话、口语交流、场景模拟、单据制作等形式,还穿插游戏等增加趣味性,加深学生对物流英语知识和技能的掌握,锻炼学生的英语实际应用能力,突出高等职业教育的特点。  本书可作为高职院校物流专业英语教材,也可作为企事业单位物流英语培训用书或物流从业者的自学材料。” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Daily Life Talk, by Li Shujuan (eBook)
Talk Chinese Series is the first series on practical colloquial Chinese, compiled and developed based on the theory of communicative functions. By imitating real life situations, it allows learners to experience the charm of the Chinese language and learn the most commonly used words, phrases, slangs, customary usages, everyday expressions and sentences. As long as one masters the contents of this series, one can respond comfortably in most situations with the knowledge and oral expressions learned.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Easy Pronunciation, by Living Language (Audiobook)
“More than nine million Americans do not speak English well or at all (according to the 2000 U.S. Census), and only two million of those adults can afford the time and cost required to enroll in an ESOL class. This comprehensive self-study course offers an affordable—and highly effective—alternative to classroom study. Easy Pronunciation is for all levels of ESOL students as well as native speakers with strong regional accents.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Easy English Vocabulary, by Living Language (Audiobook)
“Brand new audio-only ESL program. A good vocabulary is critical for communication, and this program teaches students the most important words they need to get by in English. This two-hour recording is perfect for learning on the go, and for studying vocabulary while commuting, running errands, or at the gym. Key Features16 lessons, each focused on a specific theme. Themes include hobbies, law & government, sports & recreation, and more. Each lesson includes words, definitions and a dialogue.” (Overdrive description)


New ‘Other Genre’ fiction this month features debut novels

Viper Wine, the highly recommend debut novel by Hermione Eyre is set in 1632 and written in Pop Art prose; a place to find alchemy, David Bowie, and recipes for seventeenth-century beauty potions. Just one of the new debut novels, from exciting new writers featured in this month’s ‘Other Genre’ fiction selections.

Syndetics book coverWhat I had before I had you : a novel / Sarah Cornwell.
“Leaving behind a failed marriage, Olivia returns to visit the Jersey Shore neighborhood in which she grew up. She has not been back in decades, reluctant to face the demons of her past, but now she visits with her children on their way to begin life anew in New York. Shortly after their arrival, though, her son, Daniel, recently diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder, vanishes from her side. The ensuing search through the haunts of her adolescence brings back painful memories of growing up with her psychic fortune-telling mother and the revelations that drove her to leave home at 15. But confronting the past may give Olivia what she needs to face the future.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe enchanted : a novel / Rene Denfeld.
“Set in a decaying, dark, corrupt prison, the Lady, a death-row investigator uses her unique perspective as a victim of terrible childhood abuse and conditions to research the lives of inmates. Working with her are a fallen priest, who is hiding secrets and hurt of his own, and the warden, whose wife is dying of cancer. This is a tale about being seen, understood, possibly forgiven, and maybe even loved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverViper wine : a novel / Hermione Eyre.
“At Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice. Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her “mid-climacteric” approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe used to be kings / Stewart Foster.
“Six years ago Tom’s brother died. The next day he came back. It’s Tom and Jack’s 18th birthday, but it isn’t a cause for celebration. For the past three years they’ve been in a care home for troubled children, a place where Dr Smith tries to silence the voice of Jack in Tom’s head. But Tom doesn’t want that. He’s already lost his brother once, he’s not going to lose him again. And so, when they go in front of the review board, they will have to pretend Jack has gone so they won’t be sent to the Young Men’s Institution or they’ll have to escape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCourting Greta / Ramsey Hootman.
“Samuel Cooke, a 34-year-old crippled computer geek joins a Northern California high school’s faculty to teach programming classes after taking a 10% stake in the successful software firm that formerly employed him. Despite being warned against gym teacher Greta Cassamajor, a 46-year-old who towers over and outweighs him, he feels strangely attracted to her. Recognizing Greta’s prickly nature and uncompromising attitude, Samuel nonetheless sets out to navigate a relationship with her. He has the outward social graces she lacks, but hidden underneath is fear, anger, and self-pity, particularly over the congenital birth defect that forces him to use elbow crutches and ankle braces. While Samuel faces the school’s unprincipled principal, outdated computers, and difficult students, Greta proves remarkably perceptive and caring.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKat jumps the shark / Melinda Houston.
“Kat Kelly reckons she’s got life sorted. She has a man who cooks and does the dishes. A stepdaughter she adores. And her dream job: scouting locations for a TV production company. All the big dramas are behind her, or so she thought but before she knows it, Kat is out of love and has nowhere to live. Between her ditzy new intern and an amorous ex-footballer, work isn’t much better. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, disaster strikes Kat’s set, sending her spinning totally out of control.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe lost child / Suzanne McCourt.
“Sylvie is five. It’s the 1950s and she lives in Burley Point, a fishing village south of the Coorong on Australia’s wild southern coast. She worships her older brother Dunc. She tries to make sense of her brooding mother, and her moody father who abandons the family to visit The Trollop, Layle Lewis, who lives across the lagoon.It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town, but when Dunc goes missing, Sylvie is terrified that she is the cause. Now her father is angry all the time; her mother won’t leave the house or stop cleaning. The bush and the birds and the endless beach are Sylvie’s only salvation, apart from her teacher, Miss Taylor.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe weight of blood : a novel / Laura McHugh.
“Seventeen-year-old Lucy Dane, from Henbane, Montana, is grieving for her murdered friend, Cheri, and her mother, Lila, who vanished soon after Lucy was born. Determined to solve both mysteries, Lucy never realizes just how close the answers might lie. Her father, Carl, and her uncle, Crete, are not forthcoming about what they know, which only makes her more curious. Lucy uncovers evidence that puts her in jeopardy, leading to sudden and surprising violence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe undertaking / Audrey Magee.
“Peter Faber, a German soldier on the Russian front, is pledging his life to a stranger thousands of miles away in Berlin. Having never met, Peter and Katharina are getting married, a contract of business rather than of love, he earns ten days respite from the war for his ‘honeymoon’ while she is promised a widow’s pension if he dies. In only ten days the two strangers fall in love and commit themselves to a future together living under the bright promises of Nazism. However, when Peter rejoins his unit in Russia, the bitter winter rapidly chills the heat of his politics. As his comrades begin to die, he loses sight of why Berlin has sent so many young men to their deaths in the snow drifts outside Stalingrad. Meanwhile, goaded on by her desperate and self-delusional parents, Katherina is ruthlessly working her way up the Nazi Party hierarchy, wedding herself and her young husband to a regime that will bury them if it ever falls.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wives of Los Alamos : a novel / TaraShea Nesbit.
“Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London and Chicago, and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship in the desolate military town where everything was a secret; including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. Box for an address, in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of ‘the project’ that didn’t exist as far as the greater world was concerned. They were constrained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have. Though they were strangers, they joined together,- babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up. But then ‘the project’ was unleashed and even bigger challenges faced the women of Los Alamos, as they struggled with the burden of their contribution towards the creation of the most destructive force in mankind’s history, the atomic bomb.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

ComicFest interview with illustrator Gavin Mouldey

Gavin Mouldey portrait

Illustrator and graphic designer, Gavin Mouldey is the man responsible for the amazing ComicFest 2014 posters, fliers and webpage art being used to promote ComicFest and he’s also running a comics workshop on Saturday the 3rd of May as part of Comic Book Free Day at the Central library between 11 and 1.30.

He operates the Dittybox store situated in the heart of Island Bay. Gavin provided answers to our questions below and we’ve added a selection of his images for visual enhancement – enjoy!

Your Dittybox facebook page says that you’re a painter and graphic designer, but I know you’ve worked as an animation artist as well – is there one kind of art process that you enjoy the most?

What I enjoy the most in my process (whether digital or hands on), is the rush of motivation that comes after deciding how to tackle a brief. The first stage when a job comes in tends to be staring at a blank screen or page, completely befuddled. This is often followed by searching for inspiration, finding reference material, or outright procrastination (coffee, a pie, crossword, having a shower, watching a cartoon, etc).

Eventually I’ll start doodling, and something will click. Then a job which seemed like a chore suddenly becomes exciting, and I lose all sense of time. It’s like being hypnotised.

Sometimes my wife leaves the house in the morning and I think “I’ll do the dishes and hang the washing out and pick some flowers and make dinner before she gets home”, then she returns 8 hours later and my head hasn’t turned away from the page. I’ll be still in my boxer shorts, empty tummy, dry mouth… Like a nerd zombie.

You’ve spent some time employed as a production designer in Australia on the TV show ‘Dogstar’ – how did this rate as a professional experience?

My experience in animation has mostly involved creating backgrounds and character/prop designs. Pretty similar to my role as an illustrator. The only real difference is how I get paid, and in the case of Dogstar, the pace of turnaround. The job was great, and I met a lot of future collaborators, but I don’t think I was built for big cities. I like the pace of Wellington, or specifically Island Bay.

You’ve made the image for our very cool ComicFest posters which we’re very thankful for! What are some stand-out projects you have worked on as a freelance artist? Is this satisfying work?

Posters are always fun, as they offer a lot more creative freedom than other briefs. It just has to catch the viewer’s attention. Most of my past work has been for children’s books, educational resources, and magazine publications. I’m not often happy with a finished illustration by the time it comes out in print, as it’s too fresh in my mind.

Work I did for Tearaway magazine as a teenager, 20 years ago, is the most fun to look back on as it seems like someone else’s work. North & South magazine gave me a lot of freedom to create full page illustrations, much like posters, and some of those are still my favourites.


Lately I’ve been painting murals for varied clients. They’re definitely the most rewarding to see finished, and have the most lasting exposure.

I love your Wellington apocalypse series. Where did the inspiration for these incredibly imagined pieces come from?

Initially I planned to have 12 of them for a 2012 “It’s My Apocalypse And I’ll Cry If I Want To” calendar. They were all ludicrous depictions of end-of-the-world scenarios in Wellington settings, making fun of the apocalyptic fever that films/television/Mayans were infecting everyone with at the time.


In the end (not the end end), the project was downsized to a large wall-planner, and two limited edition prints. There’s still some left at my gallery if anyone has a soft spot for the apocalypse.


Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to draw for a living. The term artist gets over used. It’s becoming so vague, and pretentious.

I think of my job as a trade, like carpentry or gardening. Art is a whole set of industries, and basically anyone can call themselves an artist without any formal education or practice.

Considering that, it’s odd that creating “Art” is treated by some cliques as an intellectual and cultural virtue. Willie Saunders, one of my all-time favourite comic artists who seems to have disappeared, once used the term “cerebral vomit”. That’s probably out of context, but I think it represents a lot of what artists do (myself begrudgingly included). I’m more proud when my illustrations fulfill a set function, than when they just seem like my soul self-indulgently spilt on a canvas.

Gavin also provided a list of some of his favourite comics – many of them by New Zealanders – and you can reserve some of them right now!

Super F*ckers by James Kochalka

Scooters Of The Apocalypse by Alister Kitchen (Kiwi)

Ripple – a predilection for Tina by Dave Cooper

Prison Pit by Johnny Ryan

The Muppet Show Comic Book by Roger Langridge (Kiwi)

Ojingogo by Matthew Forsyth

Wonton Soup by James Stokoe

Lone Racer by Nicolas Mahler

Schlipp Comics by Willie Saunders (Kiwi)

Comicbook Factory Funnies by Karl Wills (Kiwi)

Victory by Greg Broadmore (Kiwi)

ComicFest Profile: Ant Sang 101

ant with punk puppets

Famed NZ cartoonist and bro’Town designer, Ant Sang is attending ComicFest all the way from Auckland with the wise and generous assistance of the NZ Book Council!

He’ll be running a workshop for aspiring cartoonists and comics creators on  Friday the 2nd of May between 4.30 and 6 o’clock at the Central library. That same night we’ll be having an authors panel discussion with Ant, and fellow cartoonists Robyn Kenealy and Grant Buist from 7 till 8 o’clock.

Ant Sang, who lives and works in Auckland, is an award-winning cartoonist.

Author and illustrator of the celebrated The Dharma Punks comic book series, he has a cult following among graphic novel fans and comic art aficionados.


Shaolin Burning (HarperCollins 2011) is his latest graphic novel and spent ten weeks in the top ten of the NZ Booksellers Bookchart.


He was one of the original creatives on the successful bro’Town animated TV series, and won two Film & Television awards for his design work on the show.


This is an excellent chance to watch and work with one of New Zealand’s best cartoonists and a great opportunity to work on those latent comic abilities and fuel your appetite for comic related talk and impressive illustration!

It’s free and it’s at the Central library on Friday the 2nd of May – good on ya ComicFest!

Comicfest: Some of our favourite things

To get us into the spirit of the upcoming ComicFest, I thought I would share some of my favourite things from the wider comic book universe. Ranging from adult to young adult – graphic novel, comic, and manga – alchemy, superpowers, science, wizardry or just plain bad-assedness, there’s a whole range of stuff here.

Syndetics book coverGirl genius [1] : Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg Clank : a gaslamp fantasy with adventure, romance & mad science / story by Phil & Kaja Foglio ; pencils by Phil Foglio ; inks by Brian Snoddy.
“The Heterodyne family, who “travelled the globe negotiating peace, stopping monsters, and shutting down doomsday devices,” are heroes among those with the Spark, the ability to play with the laws of physics, until their disappearance. Now, student lab assistant Agatha Clay works for Dr. Beetle at Transylvania Polygnostic University. After soldiers of fortune steal the locket her uncle gave her years before, she is cast out of the university and left alone while her anxious foster parents go to retrieve it.” (Abridged from School Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverBlack butler. 1 / Yana Toboso ; [translation: Tomo Kimura].
“When a fire claims his parents, Ciel Phantomhive must step up as the head of his father’s company and as Earl Phantomhive. It would be a lot for the young boy to handle were it not for his faithful butler, Sebastian. He’s almost too good to be true – or at least, too good to be human.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFreakAngels. Volume one / story, Warren Ellis ; artwork, Paul Duffield.
“Twenty-three years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. Six years ago, the world ended. Today, eleven strange 23-year-olds live in and defend Whitechapel, maybe the last real settlement in flooded London. When a dazed, gun-toting girl appears on the outskirts with a deadly grudge against the self-proclaimed Freakangels, the kids realize that an old enemy is still alive beyond the safety of their borders… a twelfth psychic child, evil and exiled, who can program human minds to hate, and send his private, pirate armies into Whitechapel for revenge. The first chapter in award-winning author Warren Ellis’ post-apocalyptic web comic series!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFullmetal alchemist. Vol. 1 / story and art by Hiromu Arakawa.
“Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic, art, and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabble in these powers to grant their dearest wish, they become slaves of the military-alchemical complex.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Dresden Files : welcome to the jungle / written by Jim Butcher ; pencils by Ardian Syaf ; inks by Nick Nix…[et al.]
“When the supernatural world spins out of control, when the police can’t handle what goes bump in the night, when monsters come screaming out of nightmares and into the mean streets, there’s just one man to call: Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in the Chicago phone book. A police consultant and private investigator, Dresden has to walk the dangerous line between the world of night and the light of day.
Now Harry Dresden is investigating a brutal mauling at the Lincoln Park Zoo that has left a security guard dead and many questions unanswered. As an investigator of the supernatural, he senses that there’s more to this case than a simple animal attack, and as Dresden searches for clues to figure out who is really behind the crime, he finds himself next on the victim list, and being hunted by creatures that won’t leave much more than a stain if they catch him.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverFruits basket. Volume 1 / Natsuki Takaya.
“Nothing can dampen the optimistic spirit of orphaned high school girl Tohru Honda – not even being forced to live alone in a tent. One morning, she discovers a nearby house, where her popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his older cousin Shigure live by themselves. They invite her to stay with them as their (desperately needed) housekeeper, and she soon learns of the family curse: when the Sohmas are embraced by members of the opposite sex, they turn into animals of the Chinese zodiac. Tohru also meets Kyo, the 13th member of the cursed family, who turns into a cat, an animal ostracized by the zodiac members in an ancient legend. As Tohru brightens their lives, they give her something she thought she had lost: a family.” (Abridged from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHawkeye : my life as a weapon / Matt Fraction, writer ; David Aja, artist, #1-3 ; Javier Pulido, artist, #4-5. “Collects Hawkeye #1-5 & Young Avengers Presents #6. The breakout star of this summer’s blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton – aka the self-made hero Hawkeye – fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to prove himself as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence – before he becomes the most wanted man in the world.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverGunnerkrigg Court. Volume 1, Orientation / by Tom Siddell.
“Antimony Carver is a precocious and preternaturally self-possessed young girl starting her first year of school at gloomy Gunnerkrigg Court, a very British boarding school that has robots running around alongside body-snatching demons, forest gods, and the odd mythical creature. The opening volume in the series follows Antimony through her orientation year: the people she meets, the strange things that happen, and the things she causes to happen as she and her new friend, Kat, unravel the mysteries of the Court and deal with the everyday adventures of growing up. Tom Siddell’s popular and award-winning webcomic (www.gunnerkrigg.com) is here collected in print for the first time.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Boys. Volume one, The name of the game / written by Garth Ennis ; illustrated by Darick Robertson.
“THIS IS GOING TO HURT! In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the “supes” don’t get out of line. And someone will. Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman and The Female are The Boys: a CIA backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth – superpower. Some superheores have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them – sometimes – need to be taken out of the picture. That’s when you call in THE BOYS.” (Syndetics summary)

For more ComicFest information and an events timetable go here to our events calender or Facebook page, and check out the display items from Weta Cave on Central’s 1st floor from the 17th of April.

Royal Visit 2014

Even though it threatened to rain hundreds of people turned out in Wellington’s Civic Square to farewell Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. Here are a few of the snaps our Non-Fiction Customer Specialist Francoise took.

Learn Chinese with eBooks and eAudio Books

If you are learning to speak Mandarin or Catonese, or starting to write Chinese characters, you can find help in these free ebooks.

Overdrive cover Mandarin, by Wei Jin (Audiobook)
“The audio course guides learners through a series of 12 short units. Each unit introduces around 5 new key words or phrases before expanding on the basic vocabulary with practice activities, memory tips and culture and etiquette advice. An accompanying 48-page colour booklet provides full transcripts of the conversations as well as helpful hints to guide the user through their learning experience. Unit 1: Greetings Unit 2: Attracting Attention Unit 3: Exchanging Courtesies Unit 4: Asking Questions Unit 5: Where are you from? Unit 6: Going Places Unit 7: Asking Directions Unit 8: Where can we eat? Unit 9: Getting Transport Unit 10: Ordering a drink Unit 11: Asking for a room Unit 12: All about food!” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Dr. Blair’s Chinese In No Time, by Dr. Robert Blair (Audiobook)
“Does the idea of rote memorization and grammar drills bore you? DR. BLAIR’S Chinese (Mandarin) IN NO TIME will teach you how to speak a new language in no time, at the best prices around.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Traveltalk® Chinese Cantonese, by Penton Overseas, Inc. (Audiobook)
“TravelTalk presents a simplified language survival system for travelers. Includes audio in both English & target language to help ensure that travelers will arrive and survive and enjoy communicating with native speakers.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Mandarin, by HarperCollins Publishers (Audiobook)
“Pick up the essentials of the Mandarin language with this easy-to-use audio introduction. Covering everything from finding your way to talking about yourself, this Collins 40-minute audio can help you learn short and simple phrases quickly by just listening and repeating. This audio lesson is also designed to compliment the Collins Gem Mandarin Phrasebook for an indispensable language guide.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Essential Chinese, by Philip Yungkin Lee (eBook)
“A concise Mandarin Chinese phrase book and guide to Chinese language, Essential Chinese contains basic vocabulary necessary for communicating in Mandarin Chinese.” (Abridged from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Instant Chinese, by Boyé Lafayette De Mente (eBook)
“It’s amazing how 100 key words and phrases provide instant communication!D o you want to speak simple Mandarin Chinese but are too busy to study it? Are you visiting China for a short time and want a Mandarin phrase book to help you communicate? If so, this is the book for you. It includes all the essential content necessary to speak basic Mandarin. The idea of Instant Chinese is simple—learn 100 words and phrases and say 1,000 things… A brief guide to pronunciation allows the user to say the phrases correctly.” (Abridged Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover My First Book of Chinese Words, by Faye-Lynn Wu (eBook)
“”Z is for zàijiàn. “Goodbye!” we say—more good times together when we meet another day.” My First Book of Chinese Words introduces Chinese language to preschool children in a gentle, playful way. The ABC structure provides a familiar framework that encourages fun and easy learning. The everyday words presented in this book include many that have special significance in Chinese culture. Each word is presented in Chinese characters (both Simplified and Traditional) as well as in Romanized form (Pinyin). Cultural and linguistic notes enhance the learning experience. And kids will love the wonderful Chinese family, beautifully illustrated in gentle colours, who will take them from page to page!” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Chinese Folklore Tales, by J. Macgowan (eBook)
“A fantastic collection of eleven traditional folklore tales from ancient China.” (Overdrive description)

Science Fiction & Fantasy for April

Augmented reality, manipulated by postmodern Mad Men, is the theme of this month’s highly recommend new novel by Simon Ings, titled Wolves. Demonology, gravitational waves, Vikings, submarines, imaginary wars, and alien encounters, are all included in this selection of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.

Syndetics book coverMalice / John Gwynne.
“The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. There will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverA red sun also rises / Mark Hodder.
“Transported to the alien world of Ptallaya by a strange and terrifying ritual, Victorian missionary Aiden Fleischer and his brilliant but damaged assistant Clarissa Stark are stranded. Befriended by the Yatsill, a race of bizarre telepathic alien mimics, the travelers watch in amazement as the society around them transforms into a parody of London. But as the dual yellow suns of this new world slowly set, a red sun is also rising, and with it come the Blood Gods, an ancient and indestructible evil.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA study in silks / Emma Jane Holloway.
“Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with, not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines, something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWolves / Simon Ings.
“Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else. Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them. A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past, a secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tower / Jean Johnson.
“In a fertile valley undisrupted by the aether-shattering death of the old Aian Empire, the Tower and its Guardians have entertained generations of wealthy mirror-scrying mages while adventurers from around the world risk their lives for fortune and fame. But on the one day the Tower stood unguarded, an intruder tried to seize the magic powering the vast structure. Now, locked out of the Tower’s innermost chambers, Kerric Vo Mos must brave the deadly traps keeping trespassers at bay in order to reclaim control. Unfortunately, Kerric wields a pen far better than a sword, and the way into the Tower’s sanctum is treacherous. Only the help of an experienced player like Myal the Mendhite can get him to where he must go. It will be a perilous quest past monsters, riddles, and other dangers that even the Tower’s most dedicated viewers have never seen before.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSwords of good men / Snorri Kristjansson.
“Ancient traditions are about to meet the new order as the armies of the White Christ sweep all before them: blood will wash the land. To Ulfar Thormodsson, the Viking town of Stenvik is the penultimate stop on a long journey in this riveting adventure of clashing Viking powers. Tasked with looking after his cousin after disgracing his father, he has traveled the world and now only wants to go home. Stenvik is different: it contains the beautiful and tragic Lilja, who immediately captures Ulfar’s heart but Stenvik is also home to some very deadly men, who could break Ulfar in an instant. King Olav is marching on Stenvik from the East, determined to bring the White Christ to the masses at the point of his sword, and a host of bloodthirsty raiders led by a mysterious woman are sailing from the north. But Ulfar is about to learn that his enemies are not all outside the walls.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwenty trillion leagues under the sea / Adam Roberts ; illustrated by Mahendra Singh.
“It is 1958 and France’s first nuclear submarine, Plongeur, leaves port for the first of its sea trials. On board, gathered together for the first time, one of the navy’s most experienced captains and a tiny skeleton crew of sailors, engineers and scientists. The Plongeur makes her first dive and goes down, and down and down. Out of control, the submarine plummets to a depth where the pressure will crush her hull, killing everyone on board, and beyond. The pressure builds the hull protests; the crew prepare for death as the boat reaches the bottom of the sea and finds nothing. Her final dive continues, the pressure begins to relent, but the depth gauge is useless. They have gone miles down, hundreds of miles, thousands, and so it goes on. On board the crew succumb to madness, betrayal, religious mania and murder. Has the Plongeur left the limits of our world and gone elsewhere?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNight of the hunter / R.A. Salvatore.
“Dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden returns to Gauntlgrym with old friends by his side once again, as they seek to rescue Bruenor’s loyal shield dwarf-turned-vampire. But not only do Drizzt and his allies face a perilous journey through the Underdark and the dangers of the undead that lie within, but they must cross through a colony of drow, who would like nothing better than to see Drizzt Do’Urden dead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlood and iron / Jon Sprunk.
“After a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea, Horace, a soldier from the west, who had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague, is washed ashore. He finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn’t even begin to understand. Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn’t last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen’s court. Here he will seek a path to free himself and the empire’s caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInflux / Daniel Suarez.
“A tale set in a world in which technological advances have been suppressed finds particle physicist Jon Grady helping to innovate a device capable of reflecting gravity only to be targeted by a shadowy organization from the future.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

  • Archives

  • Categories