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Recent History Picks for May

The trauma and politics of war in the 20th century are spread thickly in this month’s offering. From the secret ties of those in the spotlight to the hidden operations of the typically invisible code-breakers behind World War 1, these recent picks offer an unravelling that continues to make sense of some crucial moments in world history and their reverberations today.

Syndetics book coverBeijing bastard : into the wilds of a changing China / Val Wang.
“A humorous and moving coming-of-age story that brings a unique, not-quite-outsider’s perspective to China’s shift from ancient empire to modern superpower. Raised in a strict Chinese-American household in the suburbs, Val Wang dutifully got good grades, took piano lessons, and performed in a Chinese dance troupe–until she shaved her head and became a leftist, the stuff of many teenage rebellions. But Val’s true mutiny was when she moved to China, the land her parents had fled before the Communist takeover in 1949. Brilliantly observed and winningly told, Beijing Bastard is a compelling story of a young woman finding her place in the world and of China, as its ancient past gives way to a dazzling but uncertain future.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover17 carnations : the royals, the Nazis and the biggest cover-up in history / Andrew Morton.
“A meticulously researched historical tour de force about the secret ties among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, the Duke of Windsor, and Adolf Hitler before, during, and after World War II. Andrew Morton tells the story of the feckless Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor, his American wife, Wallis Simpson, the bizarre wartime Nazi plot to make him a puppet king after the invasion of Britain, and the attempted cover-up by Churchill, General Eisenhower, and King George VI of the duke’s relations with Hitler… 17 CARNATIONS is a dazzling historical drama, full of adventure, intrigue, and startling revelations, written by a master of the genre.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurder, mayhem and music hall : the dark side of Victorian London / Barry Anthony.
“The Strand is one of London’s most iconic streets – today the bustling and thriving home of West End theatres and the luxurious Savoy hotel; in the Victorian era, the Strand was a much more seedy and destitute part of the city. Barry Anthony here explores the criminal and socially subversive behaviour which abounded in and around the Victorian Strand… With a cast of colourful characters and through a series of exotic episodes Barry Anthony conjures up the sights and sounds of Victorian London and transports the reader a hundred and fifty years back in time to the heyday of Victorian theatre – and into the throes of the Victorian underworld.” (Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverEndgame at Stalingrad / David M. Glantz ; with Jonathan M. House.
“The campaign intended to secure the Wehrmacht’s flanks had proven one front too many for the German Army. And now the offensive at Stalingrad, the epic clash that marked Germany’s failure on the Eastern Front, was entering its grim final phase. In Book One of the third volume of his acclaimed Stalingrad Trilogy , David Glantz offers the definitive account–the “ground truth” to counter a half-century’s worth of myth and misinformation… These materials lend themselves to a strikingly new interpretation of the campaign’s planning and execution on both sides–a version of events that once and for all gets at the ground truth of this historic confrontation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBattleground Prussia : the assault on Germany’s Eastern Front 1944-45 / Prit Buttar.
“The terrible months between the arrival of the Red Army on German soil and the final collapse of Hitler’s regime were like no other in the Second World War. The Soviet Army’s intent to take revenge for the horror that the Nazis had wreaked on their people produced a conflict of implacable brutality in which millions perished… Author Prit Buttar spins a mesmerizing tale accompanied by rare photographs and informative maps.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRescue at Los Baños : the most daring prison camp raid of World War II / Bruce Henderson.
“From the bestselling author of Hero Found comes the incredible true story of one of the greatest military rescues of all time, the 1945 World War II prison camp raid at Los Baños in the Philippines–a tale of daring, courage, and heroism that joins the ranks of Ghost Soldiers, Unbroken, and The Boys of Pointe du Hoc. In February 1945, as the U.S. victory in the Pacific drew nearer, the Japanese army grew desperate, and its soldiers guarding U.S. and Allied POWs more sadistic… Rescue at Los Baños tells the story of a remarkable group of prisoners–whose courage and fortitude helped them overcome hardship, deprivation, and cruelty–and of the young American soldiers and Filipino guerrillas who risked their lives to save them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMotherland : growing up with the Holocaust / Rita Goldberg.
“I am the child of a woman who survived the Holocaust not by the skin of her teeth but heroically . . . This book tells the story of her dramatic life before, during and after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.” (Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Third Reich in history and memory / Richard J. Evans.
“In the seventy years since the demise of the Third Reich, there has been a significant transformation in the ways in which the modern world understands Nazism. In this brilliant and eye-opening collection, Richard J. Evans, the acclaimed author of the Third Reich trilogy, offers a critical commentary on that transformation, exploring how major changes in perspective have informed research and writing on the Third Reich in recent years.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecret warriors : the spies, scientists and code breakers of World War I / Taylor Downing.
“World War I is often viewed as a war fought by armies of millions living and fighting in trenches, aided by brutal machinery that cost the lives of many. But behind all of this an intellectual war was also being fought between engineers, chemists, code-breakers, physicists, doctors, mathematicians, and intelligence gatherers… Told in a lively and colorful narrative style, Secret Warriors reveals the unknown side of this tragic conflict.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe edge of the world : a cultural history of the North Sea and the transformation of Europe / Michael Pye.
“Saints and spies, pirates and philosophers, artists and intellectuals: they all criss-crossed the grey North Sea in the so-called “dark ages,” the years between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of Europe’s mastery over the oceans. Now the critically acclaimed Michael Pye reveals the cultural transformation sparked by those men and women: the ideas, technology, science, law, and moral codes that helped create our modern world… In The Edge of the World, Michael Pye draws on an astounding breadth of original source material to illuminate this fascinating region during a pivotal era in world history.” (Syndetics summary)

New contemporary Fiction for May

A wonderful selection from this month’s recently received new contemporary fiction, all provide great reading experiences. We feature some wonderful writers with new titles from Amit Chaudhuri, Patrick Gale, Joyce Carol Oates and Anne Tyler. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverBuried / Jussi Adler-Olsen ; translated by Martin Aitken ; translation consultant: Steve Schein.
“Over three years ago, a civil servant vanished after returning home from a work trip to Africa. Missing, presumed dead, the man’s family still want answers. It is one of the many unsolved crimes facing Department Q, Denmark’s specialist cold case unit led by Detective Inspector Carl Mørck. But what Carl doesn’t know is that the key to the investigation can be found right here in Copenhagen. Fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson survives on the run by sleeping rough and hiding in the shadows. He has seen more than most people do in a lifetime. But what does he know that makes him so afraid? And can the police find him before whoever he is running from?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOdysseus abroad / by Amit Chaudhuri.
“It is 1985. Twenty-two-year-old Ananda has been in London for two years, practicing at being a poet. He’s homesick, thinks of himself as an inveterate outsider, and yet he can’t help feeling that there’s something romantic, even poetic, in his isolation. His uncle, Radhesh, a magnificent failure who lives in genteel impoverishment and celibacy, has been in London for nearly three decades. Odysseus Abroad follows them on one of their weekly, familiar forays about town. All the while Ananda has far-ranging ruminations (into the triangle between his mother, father, and Radhesh, his mother’s brother, his father’s best friend; his Sylheti/Bengali ancestry; the ambitions and pressures that rest on his shoulders); in Radhesh’s often artfully wielded idiosyncrasies; and in the spiky, needful, sometimes comical, yet ultimately loving connection between the two men.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGlass : a novel / Alex Christofi.
“Glass is pure. Glass is transparent. Glass is sharp. Günter Glass, ex-milkman and aspiring window-cleaner, is certainly pure. And he’s pretty transparent. But the jury’s still out on how sharp he is. What naïve young Günter does have is a head for heights and, ever since he visited a glassblower’s workshop as a child, an unusual fixation with glass. When a minor adventure up the spire of Salisbury Cathedral makes Günter a local celebrity, John Blades – window-cleaner to the stars – comes calling. He wants Günter to join him in London to clean Europe’s tallest skyscraper, the newly constructed Shard in London Bridge. With his mother recently passed away, his dad retired and no money to pay off the mortgage, Günter takes Blades up on his offer and soon finds himself, for the first time, among the bright lights of London.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA place called Winter / Patrick Gale.
” A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence, until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. As he is forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonized Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStill Alice / Lisa Genova.
“Fifty-year-old Alice Howland, a Harvard professor of cognitive psychology, is at the top of her game. Her children are grown, her marriage secure, her career on fire when suddenly, after mere months of forgetfulness, she finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. With no cure or treatment, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose in her everyday life as her concept of self gradually slips away, leaving her unable to work, read, take care of herself, recognize her loved ones, even understand that she is unwell. Without memory or hope, she is forced to live in the moment, which is in turns beautiful, terrifying, and surprisingly uplifting.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe ladies of the house / Molly McGrann.
“On a hot July day, three elderly people are found dead in a dilapidated house in Primrose Hill. Reading the story in the newspaper as she prepares to fly to Italy, Marie Gillies has an unshakable feeling that she is somehow to blame. How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, and in the secret world of the ladies of the house” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGod help the child / Toni Morrison.
“A tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult. At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. There is Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths, and finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rocks / Peter Nichols.
“Set on the island of Mallorca, The Rocks is a double love story told in reverse. Opening in 2005 with a dramatic event that seems to seal the mystery of two lives, the story moves backwards in time, unravelling over sixty years, amid the olive groves and bars, the boats and poolside parties, the lives and relationships of two intertwined families within an expat community of endearing and flawed characters.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJack of spades : a tale of suspense / Joyce Carol Oates.
“Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies in nearly thirty countries, and he has a top agent and publisher in New York. He also has a loving wife, three grown children, and is a well-regarded philanthropist in his small New Jersey town. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades,” he writes another string of novels, dark potboilers that are violent, lurid, and masochistic. These are novels that the refined, upstanding Andrew Rush wouldn’t be seen reading, let alone writing. Until one day, his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel that he has carelessly left out and begins to ask questions. Then Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Rush’s reputation, career, and family life all come under threat and unbidden, in the back of his mind, the Jack of Spades starts thinking ever more evil thoughts.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA spool of blue thread : a novel / Anne Tyler.
“The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Anna Guenther of PledgeMe – Local Innovator event series

This month we welcome Anna Guenther, co-founder (and Chief Bubble Blower) of PledgeMe; NZ’s first crowd funding platform.

Crowd funding is a model of raising money and PledgeMe have helped more than 800 projects raising over $5 million in the process.
It’s a revolutionary concept that has allowed hundreds of people get the funding they need to do the things that they love.

To find out a little more or see what projects they are currently supporting check them out here: https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/

Anna completed her Masters in Entrepreneurship in 2006, where she wrote her thesis on crowdfunding and PledgeMe. She then went on to work in enterprise at NZTE for a number of years before getting to start up the business she had written about finally, 3 years ago.

Come along and hear Anna’s captivating story and some of the things that helped get her to this point in time.

WHEN: Friday 29 May 12-1pm
WHERE: Mezzanine Room, Central Library

New ‘Other Genres’ Fiction for May, this month featuring Psychological Thrillers

Psychological Thrillers are the featured selection for this month’s “Other Genres” category. They all provide spine chilling, rapid page turning reading. Highly recommended is the latest novella from the well-known author Minette Walters, titled The Cellar.

Syndetics book coverHow I lost you / Jenny Blackhurst.
“I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe honours / Tim Clare.
“1935. Norfolk. War is looming in Great Britain and the sprawling country estate of Alderberen Hall is shadowed by suspicion and paranoia. Thirteen-year-old Delphine Venner is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father. As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe pocket wife / Susan Crawford.
“Dana Catrell’s life is in chaos. She’s married to a lawyer who makes her feel trivial, as if stuck inside his pocket like loose change. She’s also sliding toward the brink of insanity. Devastated by mania, part of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of her friend Celia’s death. She’s horrified to learn she’s the only other person with a key to Celia’s hours and the last person to see her alive. She and Celia had shared recipes and gossip, but not secrets until that final afternoon. Is murder on her mind, or is it all in her head? As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana will use the clarity her mania brings her to fill in the blanks and clear her name before her demons win out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNormal / Graeme Cameron.
“He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will-one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her. This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal and it works, perfectly. Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery and now the plan, the hunts, the room the others, he doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe third testament / Craig Russell writing as Christopher Galt.
“What if our future had already happened? All around the world, people start to see things that aren’t there, that cannot be, visions, ghosts, events from the past playing out in the present. To start with, the visions are unremarkable: things misplaced in time and caught out of the corner of the eye; glimpses of long-dead family or friends. But, as time goes on, the visions become more sustained, more vivid, more widespread. More terrifying. As the visions become truly apocalyptic, some turn to religion, others to science. Only one man, driven by personal as well as professional reasons, is capable of finding the real truth. But the truth that psychiatrist John Macbeth uncovers is much, much bigger than either religion or science. A truth so big it could cost him his sanity and his life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girl in the red coat / Kate Hamer.
“She is the missing girl. But she doesn’t know she’s lost. Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift. While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is and who she might become.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDangerous / Jessie Keane.
“Whatever the Cost, she would pay it. Coronation year: 1953. 15-year-old Clara Dolan’s world is turned upside down following the shocking death of her mother. Battling to keep what remains of her family together, Clara vows to keep her younger siblings, Bernadette and Harry, safe whatever the cost. With the arrival of the swinging 1960s, Clara finds herself swept up in London’s dark underworld where the glamor of Soho’s dazzling nightclubs sit in stark contrast to the terrifying gangland violence that threatens the new life she has worked so hard to build. Sinking further into an existence defined by murder and betrayal, Clara soon realizes that success often comes at a very high price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThat girl from nowhere / Dorothy Koomson.
“ Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she’ll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents. As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA line of blood / Ben McPherson.
“Alex and his son Max find their next-door neighbour dead in the bath. It looks like suicide, but the police want to talk to Alex’s wife. Millicent married Alex for a work permit: that at least has become the myth. The truth is they married for love, but neither wants to be exposed as a romantic. They swear and smoke in front of their son, but that’s as far as their rebelliousness goes. The police question Millicent about a bracelet found at the neighbour’s house. She admits to a mild flirtation, nothing more. But Max knows things about his mother that no son should know, and he wants to share that burden with his father. Alex starts to wonder how close he came to losing his wife. Part of him is almost glad the neighbour is dead. Then the murder investigation begins.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Cellar / Minette Walters.
“Muna’s fortunes changed for the better on the day that Mr and Mrs Songoli’s younger son failed to come home from school. Before then her bedroom was a dark windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. She’d grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave. She’s never been outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English. At least that’s what the Songolis believe. But Muna is far cleverer and her plans more terrifying than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Mysteries for May

This selection from the latest additions to Wellington City Libraries Mystery collection sees the return of two popular detectives. Inspector Montalbano in Andrea Camilleri’s latest mystery titled Game of mirrors and Commissario Guido Brunetti, in Donna Leon’s most recent work, titled Falling in love.

Syndetics book coverCompulsion / Allison Brennan.
“Investigative reporter Maxine Revere has a theory: that the five New York City murders for which Adam Bachman is being tried are just part of his killing spree. In probing the disappearance of a retired couple who vanished the prior summer, Max uncovers striking similarities to Bachman’s MO and develops a theory that Bachman wasn’t working alone. Max wins a coveted pre-trial interview with the killer, whose disarming composure in the face of her questions is combined with uncomfortable knowledge of Max’s own past. She leaves the room convinced, but unable to prove, that Bachman knows exactly what happened to the missing couple.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGame of mirrors / Andrea Camilleri ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
“Inspector Montalbano and his colleagues are stumped when two bombs explode outside empty warehouses, one of which is connected to a big-time drug dealer. Meanwhile, the alluring Liliana Lombardo is trying to seduce the Inspector over red wine and arancini. Between pesky reporters, amorous trysts, and cocaine kingpins, Montalbano feels as if he’s being manipulated on all fronts. That is, until the inspector himself becomes the prime suspect in an unspeakably brutal crime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKeep the midnight out / Alex Gray.
“When the body of a red-haired young man is washed up on the shore of the beautiful Isle of Mull, Detective Superintendent Lorimer’s tranquil holiday away from the gritty streets of Glasgow is rudely interrupted. The body has been bound with twine in a ghoulishly unnatural position and strongly reminds Lorimer of another murder: a twenty year old Glasgow case that he failed to solve as a newly fledged detective constable and which has haunted him ever since. As local cop DI Stevie Crozier takes charge of the island murder investigation, Lorimer tries to avoid stepping on her toes. But as the similarities between the young man’s death and his cold case grow more obvious, Lorimer realizes that there could be a serial killer on the loose after all these years.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBehind closed doors : a novel / Elizabeth Haynes.
“Ten years ago, fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable, and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone. Lou and her Major Crimes team are already stretched working two troubling cases: nineteen-year-old Ian Palmer was found badly beaten; soon after, bar owner Carl McVey was found half-buried in the woods, his Rolex and money gone. While Lou tries to establish the links between the two cases, DS Sam Hollands works with Special Branch to question Scarlett. What happened to her? Where has she been until now? And why is her family, with the exception of her emotionally fragile younger sister, Juliette, less than enthusiastic about her return?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat you left behind : a novel / Samantha Hayes.
” Two years after a terrifying spate of teenage suicides, the remote village of Radcote has just begun to heal. Then a young man is killed in a freak motorcycle accident and a suicide note is found among his belongings. When a second boy is found dead shortly thereafter, the nightmare of repeat suicides once again threatens the community. Desperate for a vacation, Detective Inspector Lorraine Fisher has just come to Radcote for a stay with her sister, Jo, but the atmosphere of the country house is unusually tense. Lorraine becomes determined to discover the truth behind these deaths. Are they suicides, or is there something more sinister at work?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalling in love / Donna Leon.
“One of Italy’s finest living sopranos, Flavia Petrelli, once a suspect in the poisoning of a renowned German conductor. Years after Brunetti cleared her name, Flavia has returned to Venice and La Fenice to sing the lead in Tosca. Brunetti and his wife, Paola, attend an early performance, and Flavia receives a standing ovation. Back in her dressing room, she finds bouquets of yellow roses, too many roses. Every surface of the room is covered with them. An anonymous fan has been showering Flavia with these beautiful gifts in London, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, and now, Venice, but she no longer feels flattered. A few nights later, invited by Brunetti to dine at his in-laws; palazzo, Flavia confesses her alarm at these excessive displays of adoration. And when a talented young Venetian singer who has caught Flavia’s attention is savagely attacked, Brunetti begins to think that Flavia’s fears are justified in ways neither of them imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYou can trust me / Sophie McKenzie.
” On a quiet, gray, Saturday morning, Livy arrives at her best friend Julia’s flat for a lunch date only to find her dead. Though all the evidence supports it, Livy cannot accept the official ruling of suicide; the Julia she remembers was loud, inappropriate, joyful, outrageous and loving, not depressed. The suspicious circumstances cause Livy to dig further, and she is suddenly forced to confront a horrifying possibility: that Julia was murdered, by the same man who killed Livy’s sister, Kara, eighteen years ago.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGone / Rebecca Muddiman.
“Eleven years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems. As news of the discovery travels, the past will come back to haunt all those involved. Because there are consequences when good people do bad things, and some secrets cannot stay buried for ever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Insect FarmThe insect farm / Stuart Prebble.
“When twenty-year-old Jonathan Maguire wakes up in a pool of blood and with a dead body beside him, his shock and grief quickly turn to panic. Being arrested for murder will prevent him from fulfilling the promise he made to his parents, that after their death he would take care of Roger, his mentally handicapped older brother. Roger lives in a strange and complex world of his own creation, populated by millions of tiny insects, his insect farm. As the police move in, it emerges that Roger may know far more than he has revealed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGarden of lies / Amanda Quick.
“The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes. Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold. Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Meet Robin Robilliard, author of Hard Country

This June, Wellington residents will have 3 chances to meet with Robin Robilliard, author of Hard Country, number two best seller for non-fiction books on the Paper Plus book chain list,  and 4th on the Sunday Star Times best selling biographies list two weeks ago. She will be giving public talks at the following:

Kilbirnie Library – June 18th  6.30pm 

Wellington Central Library – June 19th 6pm

Johnsonville Library – June 20th 11.30am

6 c_Robby Robilliard 9781775536635

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the story of an amazing woman and her family’s who achieved the impossible on a Golden Bay Farm and ask her questions about her biography.

As Robin put it “Managing to survive without bankruptcy, as had our three predecessors on Rocklands, is the real success story”.
One thing a fiercely independent young married couple knew for sure when they were planning their farming future together was that they never wanted to work for anyone else.
It’s this resilient and pioneering spirit that runs through Robin (Robby) Robilliard’s absorbing new memoir as this marvellous and sprightly octogenarian reflects on her life with husband Garry and their family the isolated Golden Bay, at the very tip of South Island, far away from family and friends. When they arrived there in 1957 it was a very different place to the vibrant and richly diverse community there is today.

You can listen to the interview Robin had with Kim Hill here

Our pick of the interesting, new non-fiction books in May

Do we want to live ‘in a world full of zombies and vampires’? Probably not, but author Slavoj Žižek in Trouble in Paradise argues that we will unless we can break out of the constraints of capitalism. Along the same tracks, Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack explain that “The high levels of poverty in the UK are not ordained but can be traced directly to the political choices taken by successive governments…”. Some light reading from the authors of Freakonomics also stars this month, along with a gem of a book about women and finance. It reveals that women don’t have to wait for a fairy godmother to help, but are themselves able to choose wisely for their financial well-being.

Syndetics book coverWhen to rob a bank : … and 131 more warped suggestions and well-intended rants / Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner.
“…When Freakonomics was first published, the authors started a blog–and they’ve kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. Now they’ve gone through and picked the best of the best. Here, they ask a host of typically off-center questions: Why don’t flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?.–From publisher description.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBreadline Britain : the rise of mass poverty / Stewart Lansley, Joanna Mack.
“Poverty in Britain is at post-war highs and – even with economic growth – is set to increase yet further… Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack track changes in deprivation and paint a devastating picture of the reality of poverty today and its causes. Shattering the myth that poverty is the fault of the poor and a generous benefit system, they show that the blame lies with the massive social and economic upheaval that has shifted power from the workforce to corporations and swelled the ranks of the working poor, a group increasingly at the mercy of low-pay, zero-hour contracts and downward social mobility. The high levels of poverty in the UK are not ordained but can be traced directly to the political choices taken by successive governments…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFabulous but broke : because there are no unicorns, fairy godmothers or magical shoes coming to save you / Melissa Browne.
“”When Alice fell down the rabbit hole she found a magic drink and a magic cake. Today many of us are still searching for the magic formula when it comes to our finances but sadly it doesn’t exist. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you knew it was up to you right? There are no unicorns, fairy godmothers or magical shoes coming to save you. But you do have something very important which fairytale characters don’t often have. Choice. Fabulous but Broke is a collection of financial fairytales which highlight money messages we carry with us and suggest an alternative, happy ending. ….”–Publisher’s description.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe opposite of spoiled : raising kids who are grounded, generous, and smart about money / Ron Lieber.
“…Ron Lieber delivers a taboo-shattering manifesto that explains how talking openly to children about money can help parents raise modest, patient, grounded young adults who are financially wise beyond their years. For Ron Lieber, a personal finance columnist and father, good parenting means talking about money with our kids. Children are hyper-aware of money, and they have scores of questions about its nuances. But when parents shy away from the topic, they lose a tremendous opportunity–not just to model the basic financial behaviors that are increasingly important for young adults but also to imprint lessons about what the family truly values.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe’re all going to die (especially me) / Joel Meares.
“My late twenties have felt like a series of slow-motion epiphanies, each one sneaking up before slapping me in my newly acquired jowls. Everything I said I’d do ‘by the time I’m thirty’ as a glassy-eyed graduate is now in the ‘by the time I’m forty’ box. Much has been made of the delayed adulthood of Gen Y’ers – that they flit from job to job and take their sweet time earning the traditional adult badges: marriage, children, a mortgage. But what makes this generation tick? In We’re All Going to Die (Especially Me), award-winning journalist Joel Meares reflects on the muddle of Gen Y existence with razor-sharp insight and riotous good humour…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

cover imageTrouble in paradise : from the end of history to the end of capitalism / Slavoj Žižek.
“Despite living in a world of almost constant crisis, we still seem to accept that capitalism …represents the best of all possible worlds… But, Slavoj Žižek argues in this timely intervention, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If we are really to imagine a better way, we need to understand that it is capitalism which offers us the dreariest of futures – always serving up more of the same in the guise of constant change – and that the struggle for emancipation, by contrast, is the most daring of all ventures… Our new heroes, he explains, should be Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. But can we follow their example and break out of ideological constraints? Trouble in Paradise shows that we absolutely have to do so unless we want to live in a world full of zombies and vampires.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAltered genes, twisted truth : how the venture to genetically engineer our food has subverted science, corrupted government, and systematically deceived the public / Steven M. Druker.
“This book uncovers the biggest scientific fraud of our age. It tells the fascinating and frequently astounding story of how the massive enterprise to restructure the genetic core of the world’s food supply came into being, how it advanced by consistently violating the protocols of science, and how for more than three decades, hundreds of eminent biologists and esteemed institutions have systematically contorted the truth in order to conceal the unique risks of its products-and get them onto our dinner plates… The book also exposes how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was induced to become a key accomplice–and how it has broken the law and repeatedly lied in order to usher genetically engineered foods onto the market without the safety testing that’s required by federal statute…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCool : how the brain’s hidden quest for cool drives our economy and shapes our world / Steven Quartz and Anette Asp.
“If you have ever wondered why SUVs replaced minivans, how one rap song turned the cognac industry upside down, or what gives Levi’s jeans their iconic allure, look no further-in Cool, Steven Quartz and Anette Asp finally explain the fascinating science behind unexpected trends and enduring successes… Why do brands inspire such devotion? Quartz and Asp bring together groundbreaking findings in neuroscience, economics, and evolutionary biology to present a new understanding of why we consume and how our concepts of what is “cool” – be it designer jeans, smartphones, or craft beer – help drive the global economy…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

cover imageIn our own image : will artificial intelligence save or destroy us? / George Zarkadakis.
“…Zarkadakis traces AI’s origins in ancient myth, through literary classics such as Frankenstein, to today’s sci-fi blockbusters, arguing that a fascination with AI is hardwired into the human psyche. He explains AI’s history, technology and potential; its manifestations in intelligent machines; its connections to neurology and consciousness, as well as – perhaps most tellingly – what AI reveals about us as human beings. In Our Own Image argues that we are on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution – poised to enter the age of Artificial Intelligence as science fiction becomes science fact…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDreamland : the true tale of America’s opiate epidemic / Sam Quinones.
“…Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of American capitalism: The stories of young men in Mexico, independent of the drug cartels, in search of their own American Dream via the fast and enormous profits of trafficking cheap black-tar heroin to America’s …addicts; and that of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Connecticut, determined to corner the market on pain with its new and expensive miracle drug, Oxycontin; extremely addictive in its own right. Quinones illuminates just how these two stories fit together as cause and effect. Embroiled alongside the suppliers and buyers are DEA agents, local, small-town sheriffs, and the US attorney from eastern Virginia whose case against Purdue Pharma and Oxycontin made him an enemy of the Bush-era Justice Department, ultimately stalling and destroying his career in public service…” (Syndetics summary)

Recent Design & Architecture picks for May

This month’s selection has a focus on architecture, with loads of new and inspiring books hitting our shelves. Content varies from sustainable housing to an historical perspective of architecture as a part of human civilisation. There is also an interesting book on furniture which takes on architectural aspects. Finally, we also feature a “for dummies” book on Android app development. We hope you find something new to enjoy this month!

Syndetics book coverSustainable : houses with small footprints / Avi Friedman.
“A presentation of contemporary houses that demonstrates how domesticity can be beautiful and still help the planet. What is known as living off the grid is possible, and Sustainable presents forty-five houses that demonstrate how architects have implemented sustainable design concepts around the world. These projects show us what time-tested vernacular design principles–including local materials, natural ventilation strategies, and earth shelter construction–can teach us, as well as how the latest cutting-edge technologies–such as indoor farming and “living walls”–can make truly sustainable design possible.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPalm Springs modern : houses in the California desert / by Adèle Cygelman ; foreword by Joseph Rosa ; photographs by David Glomb.
“Palm Springs is famous as a mecca for the international jet set. But the city has also attracted its share of eccentrics and mavericks who have left an architectural legacy that remains unsurpassed for its originality and international influence. This book examines the impact that architects and designers have had on the desert oasis, primarily from the 1940s to the 1960s to capture the distinctly modern allure of America’s famed desert playground.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArchitecture : a historical perspective / Pavlos Lefas.
“This history-by-theory and theory-by-history book helps its reader make sense of the chaotic multitude of world architecture through time. In contrast to other history books this book is brief but to the point, perceiving architecture as part of human civilisation. Its’ focus on issues such as: “is concept and form or matter the most important ‘component’ of architecture?”, “how close is architecture to spectacle?”, “is less really more?” makes it a good reading for both freshmen students of architecture and the reader who wants to get a grasp of what architecture is-and has been-really about.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFurnitecture : furniture that transforms space / Anna Yudina.
Furnitecture is a sourcebook exploring the furnishings, interior environments, and solutions for small spaces at the meeting point between design and architecture. Surveyed here are hundreds of examples of these objects, including bookshelves that can dynamically divide and reshape a room, chairs that create intimate room-like enclosures, and self-contained, expandable kitchen cubes. From Chicago-based firm Bureau Spectacular’s “Briefcase house,” to Dutch designers Makkink & Bey’s conversational Ear Chairs, Furnitecture opens the door to a world of design invention and innovation. Presented in a compact, beautifully illustrated format, this volume will be an essential resource for designers and hip consumers everywhere.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverICONZ : an iconic look at New Zealand identity / created by Belinda Ellis.
“ICONZ is an encyclopaedic collection of 64 illustrated graphic icons cataloguing New Zealand’s popular culture and identity. The book takes an affectionate look at what New Zealanders hold dear, and is intended for the local market, nostalgic expats abroad and visiting tourists alike. An abundance of existing material brandishing ‘kiwiana’ in various guises – not all, but much of it kitsch – led Belinda Ellis, one of the country’s leading graphic designers, to create this iconic look at New Zealand identity. Concurrently with the book’s publication, and under the same trademark, the icons have been applied to a range of retail merchandise: art-quality prints and stationery; clothing and accessories; household items; even chocolates.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of creative thinking / Rod Judkins.
The Art of Creative Thinking reveals how we can transform our businesses, our society and ourselves through a deeper understanding of human creativity. Rod Judkins, a lecturer in creativity at the world-famous St Martin’s College of Art, will examine the behaviour of successful creative thinkers and explain how all of us can learn from them to improve our lives. Along the way he shares the story of most successful class in educational history (in which every single student won a Nobel prize); shows why graphic nudity during public speaking can be both a curse and surprisingly persuasive; and reveals why, in the twenty-first century, it’s technically illegal to be as good as good as Michelangelo.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnbrandable: how to succeed in the new brand space
“The worlds of branding and consumption are changing. Helping to set the agenda are what Adam N. Stone designates the Unbrandables, consumers who are sensitive to inauthenticity, hostile to relentless materialism, and suspicious of products they do not want or that are bad for the environment. Then there are the Unbranded brands, such as Nudie Jeans of Sweden and In-N-Out Burger in California, showing that honesty, transparency and a genuine concern for the planet and their customers needs are essential when it comes to connecting with a more sceptical audience. Unbrandable provides advertising and marketing professionals with an invaluable guide to this new landscape.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAndroid application development for dummies / by Michael Burton.
“If you have ambitions to build an Android app, this hands-on guide gives you everything you need to dig into the development process and turn your great idea into a reality! In this new edition of Android App Development For Dummies, you′ll find easy-to-follow access to the latest programming techniques that take advantage of the new features of the Android operating system. Plus, two programs are provided: a simple program to get you started and an intermediate program that uses more advanced aspects of the Android platform. Whether you′re a new or veteran programmer, Android App Development For Dummies will have you up and running with the ins and outs of the Android platform in no time.” (Syndetics summary)

Changes to OverDrive audio books – goodbye WMA format; hello OverDrive Listen!

OverDrive listenTwo big changes to our OverDrive service today – one is the introduction of the new browser based streaming option ‘OverDrive Listen‘, the other is the ending of the provision of WMA format audio books. The outdated WMA format was used in desktop downloads only. Now that the WMA format is being removed all mobile and desktop Audio books downloaded through OverDrive will be MP3 format only and compatible with all listening options. If you have any questions about the withdrawal of the WMA format please contact us through out Technical support form here. This process should be completed by the 10th of June.

‘OverDrive Listen’ will enable Audio book users to stream compatible ‘Listen’ format titles through your browser and an active internet connection. As long as you use the same device and browser for streaming an Audio book title you’ll also be able to save your progress, make notes and highlight sections. For information on how to use ‘OverDrive Listen’ please go here.

There are some browser and software restrictions on usage of the ‘Listen’ format, so if you are experiencing problems check out the ‘Getting started with OverDrive listen’ page for more information or contact us for further help.

We hope you enjoy this new option for audio book listening!

New travel books picked for you in May

Top of our picks this month is “The Fault Line”, written about the author’s 2008 journey from Finland along where the Iron Curtain divided Europe. Second is James A. Michener’s 1968 classic “Iberia”, recently reprinted, with an introduction by Steve Berry. And a couple of books for light reading are “What I was doing while you were breeding”, and “Vagabonding through Retirement”.

Syndetics book coverThe fault line : traveling the other Europe, from Finland to Ukraine / Paolo Rumiz ; translated from the Italian by Gregory Conti.
“In his first book translated into English, “La Repubblica” correspondent Rumiz vents his anger at the European Union’s “rhetoric of globalization,” which homogenizes ethnic distinctions and threatens to obliterate traditional communities. His nostalgic, engaging search for the heart of European identity takes him from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, through present-day Finland, Latvia, Ukraine and Poland. In these regions, the author finds depopulated villages, survivors of mass deportations and exterminations that continued long after World War II. A richly detailed journey into Europe’s dark past and vulnerable present.” (Amazon.co.uk)”

Syndetics book coverIberia : Spanish travels and reflections / James A. Michener ; photographs by Robert Vavra ; introduction by Steve Berry.
“Spain is an immemorial land like no other, one that James A. Michener, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and celebrated citizen of the world, came to love as his own. Iberia is Michener’s enduring nonfiction tribute to his cherished second home. In the fresh and vivid prose that is his trademark, he not only reveals the celebrated history of bullfighters and warrior kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards, he also shares the intimate, often hidden country he came to know, where the congeniality of living souls is thrust against the dark weight of history…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFindings / Kathleen Jamie.
“It’s surprising what you can find by simply stepping out to look. Award-winning poet Kathleen Jamie has an eye and an ease with the nature and landscapes of Scotland as well as an incisive sense of our domestic realities. In Findings she draws together these themes to describe travels like no other contemporary writer. Whether she is following the call of a peregrine in the hills above her home in Fife, sailing into a dark winter solstice on the Orkney islands, or pacing around the carcass of a whale on a rain-swept Hebridean beach, she creates a subtle and modern narrative, peculiarly alive to her connections and surroundings.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat I was doing while you were breeding : a memoir / Kristin Newman.
“A funny, sexy, and ultimately poignant memoir about mastering the art of the “vacationship.” Kristin Newman spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends’ weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer, Kristin instead traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. In addition to falling madly in love with the planet, Kristin fell for many attractive locals, men who could provide the emotional connection she wanted without costing her the freedom she desperately needed. Kristin introduces readers to the Israeli bartenders, Finnish poker players, sexy Bedouins, and Argentinean priests who helped her transform into “Kristin-Adjacent” on the road-a slower, softer, and, yes, sluttier version of herself at home…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLandmarks / Robert Macfarlane.
“Haze-fire, smeuse, tarn, ghyll, hoarhusk, gruffy ground, af’rug… for years now, Robert Macfarlane has been collecting place-words: terms for aspects of landscape, nature and weather, drawn from dozens of languages and dialects of Britain and Ireland… In this, his fifth book, Macfarlane brilliantly explores the linguistic and literary terrain of our archipelago, from the Shetlands to Cornwall, and from Cumbria to Suffolk. Landmarks is a book about the power of language – ‘strong style, single words’ – to shape our sense of place…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVagabonding through retirement : unusual wanders far from our Paris houseboat / by Bill Mahoney and Ina Garrison Mahoney.
“Bill Mahoney has been a vagabond since he began hitchhiking across the United States at thirteen, so finding a Dutch houseboat called Zwerver -Dutch for wanderer -is a perfect fit for him. Narrated by both Bill and Ina, Vagabonding through Retirement takes you on many entertaining travel adventures of a couple who love interacting with people and having unusual experiences. They spend five days on a leaky salt barge up the Mekong in Laos and travel for three days on a bamboo raft in Thailand. In Bolivia, they go down the world’s most dangerous roads and take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow. And they set out in their camping van for Prague and Bucharest before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and travel to the Ukraine just after the Soviet Union breaks apart…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

cover imageWrong way round / by Lorna Hendry.
“When Lorna Hendry, her husband James and young kids left Melbourne on a one-year trip around Australia in a 4WD with a camper trailer (having only been camping once before they left), they ignored all advice and drove across the Nullarbor and up the west coast of Australia. Wrong Way Round is a story about four people who had to get out of the city to become a family.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo room for watermelons : a man, his 1910 motorcycle and an epic journey across the world / Ron & Lynne Fellowes.
“In 2012, while others his age were enjoying quiet retirement, Ron Fellowes set off on the challenge of a lifetime. His dream to ride a 102 year-old FN motorcycle across the world – to the Belgian factory where the bike originated – had all the hallmarks of an epic adventure: one that was never going to be easy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great Central Canada bucket list : one-of-a-kind travel experiences / Robin Esrock.
“…The Great Central Canada Bucket List highlights the best travel experiences to be had in the heart of Canada. Renowned travel writer and TV host Robin Esrock explored every inch of central Canada to craft the definitive Bucket List for the region. Running the gamut of nature, food, culture, history, adrenaline rushes, and quirky Canadiana, Robin’s personal quest to tick off the very best of Ontario and Quebec packs in enough for a lifetime.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA spy’s London / Roy Berkeley ; foreword by Nigel West.
“In ‘this remarkable book’ (as intelligence historian Nigel West describes it in his Foreword), the reader will be struck by the vibrancy of history made real. Author Roy Berkeley has gone behind the facades of ordinary buildings, in the city that West calls ‘the espionage capital of the World’, to remind us that the history of intelligence has often been made in such mundane places. With his evocative photographs and compelling observations, Berkeley ensures that we will never see the streets of London – or these particular actors on the stage of history – in quite the same way again…” (Syndetics summary)

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