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Our favourites for National Poetry Day!

To celebrate our national celebration of poetry, we compiled a list of some of our favourite poetry books and poets. First, books:

Syndetics book coverCollected poems, 1957-1982 / Wendell Berry.
“A longtime spokesman for conservation, common sense, and sustainable agriculture, Wendell Berry writes eloquently in several styles and methods. Among other literary forms, he is a poet of great clarity and sureness. His love of language and his care for its music are matched only by his fidelity to the subjects he has written of during his first twenty-five years of work: land and nature, the family and community, tradition as the groundwork for life and culture. His graceful elegies sit easily alongside lyrics of humor and biting satire. Husbandman and husband, philosopher and Mad Farmer, he writes of values that endure, of earthy truths and universal imagery. His vision is one of hope and memory, of determination and faithfulness. For this far-reaching yet portable volume, Berry has chosen nearly two hundred poems from his previous eight collections.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLovely, raspberry : poems / Aaron Belz.
Clever wordplay in the style of the brilliant Billy Collins. “In this masterfully offbeat second collection, Aaron Belz writes with a deadpan whimsy that fronts mischievously for keen cultural insights in poems like You Bore Me, Asking Al Gore About the Muse, and Thirty Illegal Moves in the Cloud-Shape Game.” “Reading Aaron Belz is like dreaming of a summer vacation and then taking it.” – John Ashbery” (courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverOld Possum’s book of practical cats / by T.S. Eliot ; drawings by Edward Gorey.
“An engaging collection of humorous poems. These verses, originally composed to amuse Eliot’s intimate friends, have proven irresistible to cat lovers, lovers of nonsense, and admirers of Eliot throughout the English-speaking world. “Enough ferocious fancy and parody to knock the spots off most cat books and most…verses” (Time). Drawings by Nicolas Bentley.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNox / Anne Carson.
Moving, multi-media concertina-style – unique! “Created after the death of her brother, Carson’s haunting and beautiful “Nox” is her first book of poetry in five years–a unique, illustrated, accordion-fold-out “book in a box.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 / selected by Glyn Maxwell.
Nobel prize winner and playful heavyweight. “Across sixty-five years, Walcott has grappled with the themes that have defined his work as they have defined his life: the unsolvable riddle of identity; the painful legacy of colonialism on his native Caribbean island of St. Lucia; the mysteries of faith and love and the natural world; the Western canon, celebrated and problematic; the trauma of growing old, of losing friends, family, one’s own memory. This collection, selected by Walcott’s friend the English poet Glyn Maxwell, will prove as enduring as the questions, the passions, that have driven Walcott to write for more than half a century.” (adapted from Syndetics annotation)

Syndetics book coverPoems that make grown men cry : 100 men on the words that move them / edited by Anthony and Ben Holden.Diverse, personal collection of moving poems from famous actors, writers and pop culture figures. “A unique collection of poetry so powerful that 100 grown men–bestselling authors, poets laureate, and other eminent figures from the arts, sciences, and politics–have been moved to tears. Here they deliver touching and insightful personal introductions to a range of beloved poems. …Father-and-son team Anthony and Ben Holden, a British writer and movie producer respectively, have teamed up to compile a poetry anthology unlike any other.” (adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUltramarine / Raymond Carver.
“Mr. Carver is heir to that most appealing American poetic voice, the lyricism of Theodore Roethke and James Wright…. this book is a treasure, one to return to. No one’s brevity is as rich, as complete, as Raymond Carver’s.”–New York Times Book Review (Syndetics summary).
Also by the same poet: Where water comes together with other water : poems

Syndetics book coverAsk me : 100 essential poems / William Stafford ; edited by Kim Stafford.
Gentle spirit, Oregon poet and former Laureate. “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford.” —Naomi Shihab Nye.

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.
—from “Ask Me”
 “In celebration of the poet’s centennial, Ask Me collects one hundred of William Stafford’s essential poems. As a conscientious objector during World War II, while assigned to Civilian Public Service camps Stafford began his daily writing practice, a lifelong early-morning ritual of witness. His poetry reveals the consequences of violence, the daily necessity of moral decisions, and the bounty of art. Selected and with a note by Kim Stafford, Ask Me presents the best from a profound and original American voice.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCollected poems, 1947-1997 / Allen Ginsberg.Collected Poems, 1947-1997
“Here, for the first time, is a volume that gathers the published verse of Allen Ginsberg in its entirety, a half century of brilliant work from one of America’s great poets. As the chief figure among the Beats, Ginsberg changed the course of American poetry, liberating it from closed academic forms with the creation of open, vocal, spontaneous, and energetic postmodern verse. Ginsberg’s raw tones and attitudes of spiritual liberation also helped catalyze a psychological revolution that has become a permanent part of our cultural heritage, profoundly influencing not only poetry, popular song, and speech but also our view of the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Elemental : Central Otago poems by Brian Turner ; photographs by Gilbert Van Reenen.
Other animals by Therese Lloyd.
Kōiwi, kōiwi = Bone, bone by Hinemoana Baker.
First World War poems edited by Andrew Motion.

Entertaining, unpredictable alt-lit from Steve Roggenbuck:
If u dont love the moon your an ass hole : poems and selfies
Crunk juice

A lasting joy; an anthology chosen and introduced by C. Day Lewis.
Collected Poems by G. K. Chesterton
Come Rain Hail by Hone Tuwhare

And poets:

Lauris Edmond
Charles Brasch
Harry Ricketts
Gerard Manley Hopkins
John Betjeman

New Graphic Novels for August

From apocalyptic to dystopian, historical to everyday life, along with plenty of science fiction, all represented in this month’s selection of new graphic novels. With four new series also included there is a great choice of reading for all comic fans.

Syndetics book coverThanos rising / writer, Jason Aaron ; artist, Simone Bianchi with Riccardo Pieruccini.
“Discover the hidden truth, as Thanos rises as the unrivalled rogue of wretchedness in this gripping tale of tragedy, deceit and destiny. Where did this demi-god of destruction come from, and more importantly, what does he want from the universe?” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverSuicide risk. Volume one, Grudge war / created and written by Mike Carey; art by Elena Casagrande.
“Heroes are dying, and cops are dying twofold. Humanity is underpowered in the face of their onslaught, and people are suffering untold casualties trying to stem the flow. After barely surviving a super-powered bank heist gone horribly wrong, beat cop Leo Winters vowed to try and find a way to stop them. Following a lead, he discovered two lowlifes who seemed to be able to grant a person powers, for the right price. The problem is: you don’t get to choose which power.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSheltered : a pre-apocalyptic tale [1] / co-created and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas ; co-created, written and lettered by Ed Brisson.
“The adults of Safe Haven stockpile guns, food, and supplies, prepared for any disaster, whether natural or man-made. But the real threat comes from within, as their own children turn on them. Lucas leads the teenage killers, claiming a disaster is coming and sacrifices are necessary, but outsider Victoria and her friend Hailey doubt his motives and must try to survive long enough to escape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRoom for love / Andrea Meyer.Room for Love
“Jacquie Stuart has just turned 32 and she wants to do a major rewrite on her life. Needing moonlighting money, she gets the idea of investigating a new dating trend; looking for Mr. But can the key to her happiness lie right under her very own roof?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverZero. Vol. 1, An emergency / written by Ales Kot ; illustrated by Michael Walsh [and 4 others].
“Kot (Wild Children) crafts a thriller about war, technology, and the human condition through the eyes of trained spy Edward Zero and his life of merciless killings. Each of the five issues collected here is illustrated by a different artist and encapsulates a specific time in Zero’s life. What does it mean that children are washed of emotion and trained to murder without ever questioning the sanctity of life? Should we care if the schooled assassins might be clones?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUXB / by Colin Lorimer.
“In a shattered future London, experimental lifesuits are grafted to the bodies of three brothers, affording the boys great power, and great license. As the siblings settle into the abandoned Buckingham Palace, the problems of the world fade from sight in a whirlpool of old movies, violent video games and porn.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hartlepool monkey / story, Wilfrid Lupano ; art, Jérômie Moreau.
“A yarn from the Napoleonic Wars tells of a French ship wrecked off the British coast, the single survivor a chimpanzee, the captain’s pet. The ignorant and bloodthirsty British villagers mistook the hapless simian for an enemy seaman and hanged the creature. Lupano expands this story with zest and inventiveness, working in a cabin boy, a young Charles Darwin, and the nascent naturalist’s doctor father.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFBP : Federal Bureau of Physics. Volume 1, The paradigm shift / Simon Oliver, writer ; Robbi Rodriguez, artist.
“The Federal Bureau of Physics is a new series set in a world where earth’s physics have gone haywire. Adam Hardy, a new agent on the FBP’s payroll, is tasked with closing a troublesome Bubbleverse. Although it should have been a standard operation, Hardy’s trip is made more complicated by his partner’s hidden agenda. Hardy must escape the Bubbleverse, confront his partner, and solve the mystery of his famous physicist father’s death; all while trying to keep both feet in earth’s gravitational pull.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAâma. 1, The smell of warm dust / Frederick Peeters.
“At the start of the first volume of this French SF thriller trilogy, set in the distant-future Verloc Nim wakes in a molten crater, his eyes filled with tears over his lost daughter, and his memories a blur. Moments later, he’s approached by a robot gorilla named Churchill who’s thrilled to see him and hands him his journal. The journal reveals how Verloc’s younger brother, Conrad, cajoled Verloc into accompanying him and Churchill to an isolated experimental colony at the edge of the cosmos. Upon their arrival, the true purpose of Conrad’s visit is revealed, as is Verloc’s role in it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe park / Oscar Zarate.
“On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, an incident takes place in a North London park. Chris is accidentally bitten by an excited dog, and aims a defensive kick at it. The owner, well-known polemicist Ivan Grubb, takes to his blog to express his outrage, spinning the story to sit happily within his own narrative. When Ivan and Chris relate the event to their children, they are surprised and confused by the strength of feeling their reactions have provoked. The Park is a delicate examination of how anger, repression and powerlessness can overwhelm even the most logical and well-intentioned person in a confusing modern world.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Too big to read on the bus – literature picks for August

A magesterial magnum opus opens this month’s selection – a new study of the English novel which covers its history over seven hundred years. It is too big to read on the bus or pop in your handbag – you will need a stout table to accommodate this big beast of a book! There have been many histories of English literature but nothing of this type or on this scale has been attempted before. Michael Schmidt, a Mexican-born poet who currently lectures in English literature at Glasgow University, has integrated writers and writers who read one another’s work in order to produce an impressionistic landscape of the subject.
He is giving a lecture at Te Papa in September as part of the “Writers on Mondays” programme. Read about it at the Victoria Modern Letters website

Syndetics book coverThe novel : a biography / Michael Schmidt.
“The 700-year history of the novel in English defies straightforward telling. Encompassing a range of genres, it is geographically and culturally boundless and influenced by great novelists working in other languages. Michael Schmidt, choosing as his travel companions not critics or theorists but other novelists, does full justice to its complexity” (Global Books summary).

Syndetics book coverHandling the truth : on the writing of memoir / Beth Kephart.
“National Book Award finalist Kephart, who has written several memoirs and teaches a college course on the subject, offers an exploration of the genre that is informative and enjoyable. Drawing on the work of dozens of great authors (Annie Dillard, Mary Karr, Jeanette Winterson) as well as student comments, Kephart dives deeply into all that memoir can offer writers while acknowledging the pitfalls of oversharing and naming high-profile memoir abusers. Her insights are thoughtful and erudite. Real writers, she says, do not write to trump or abolish. They write . . . to rumble or howl”. (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverBradbury speaks : too soon from the cave, too far from the stars / Ray Bradbury.
“He is an American treasure, a clear-eyed fantasist without peer, and a literary icon who has created wonder for the better part of seven decades. On subjects as diverse as fiction, the future, film, famous personalities, and more, Ray Bradbury has much to say, as only he can say it.Collected between these covers are memories, ruminations, opinions, prophecies, and philosophies from one of the most influential and admired writers of our time. As unique, unabashed, and irrepressible as the artist himself. (Global Books summary).

Syndetics book coverHome is the hunter / Helen MacInnes.
“After years of war, Ulysses finally returns to Ithaca. Rather than the joyous welcome he had hoped for, he finds his palace full of suitors, all scheming to possess his wife, and Penelope is wondering why it has taken him seven years to get home.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book cover“Books that changed the world : the 50 most influential books in human history / Andrew Taylor.
Contains profiles of fifty of history’s most important and influential books, as selected by journalist and author Andrew Taylor, each with a summary of the contents, and a discussion of its historical context and legacy.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverThe last days of Troy / Simon Armitage.“imon Armitage is rightly celebrated as one of the country’s most original and engaging poets; but he is also an adaptor and translator of some of our most important epics, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Death of King Arthur and Homer’s Odyssey. The latter, originally a commission for BBC Radio, rendered the classical tale with all the flare, wit and engagement that we have come to expect from this most distinctive of contemporary authors, and in so doing brought Odysseus’s return from the Trojan War memorably to life” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverAbout writing / Cathy Glass.
“Drawing on years of experience and thousands of readers comments and reviews of her writing, Cathy Glass provides a clear and concise, practical guide on writing and the best ways to get published” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverBeckett remembering, remembering Beckett : a celebration / edited by James and Elizabeth Knowlson.
“This book collects a series of interviews that offer insight into the playwright’s beliefs about life, his work, friends and colleagues, and includes essays by contemporaries whom Beckett influenced.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverIntroducing Barthes / Philip Thody & Piero.
“Roland Barthes’ stated aim set down in the 1950s was to destroy the idea that signs are natural. The study of signs, semiology, is introduced there, and analyzes the way in which humans communicate their social values through their appearance, visual imanges, literature and culture.” (Global Books summary).

And a good one from another part of the library…

Syndetics book coverThe Bloomsbury cookbook : recipes for life, love and art / Jans Onddatje Rolls.
“Part cookbook, part social and cultural history, this book will delight both Bloomsbury group aficionados and those new to the subject, with over 170 recipes from members of the group, including Frances Partridge, Helen Anrep and David and Angelica Garnett, accompanied by hundreds of paintings, photographs and quotations” (Publisher’s website)

New Mysteries for August

From Texas to New York, London’s West End to the Dark Ages in Ireland and of course Sweden, murder is everywhere. This month’s selection of new Mystery novels includes some old favorites, such as Arne Dahl, Hakan Nesser and Peter Tremayne, plus some a few new ones for your reading enjoyment.

Syndetics book coverThe reckoning / Rennie Airth.
“In 1947, someone shoots Oswald Gibson, a retired bank manager, in the head while he’s fishing in a stream near Lewes, Sussex. Before his death, a visit from a stranger prompted Gibson to compose a letter to Scotland Yard asking about Madden’s whereabouts. Long retired from Scotland Yard, Madden is sure he never met the man. A month earlier, someone shot Dr. Wallace Drummond in his surgery in Ballater, Scotland, “in exactly the same manner.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe corpse bridge / Stephen Booth.
“The old Corpse Bridge is the route taken for centuries by mourners to a burial aground across the River Dove in Derbyshire. But Earl Manby, the landowner, announces plans to deconsecrate the burial ground and turn it into a carpark for his holiday cottages. Once again bodies appear on the road to the Corpse Bridge. Is there a connection with the development? Or is there a serial killer at work?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the top of the mountain / Arne Dahl ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
“After the disastrous end to their last case, the Intercrime team, a specialist unit created to investigate violent, international crime has been disbanded, their leader forced into early retirement. The six officers have been scattered throughout the country. But when a man is blown up in a high-security prison, a major drugs baron comes under attack and a massacre takes place in a dark suburb, the Intercrime team are urgently reconvened. There is something dangerous approaching Sweden, and they are the only people who can do anything to stop it.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverLong way home / Eva Dolan.
“A man is burnt alive in a shed. No witnesses, no fingerprints, only a positive ID of the victim as an immigrant with a long list of enemies. Detectives Zigic and Ferreira are called in from the Hate Crimes Unit to track the killer, and are met with silence in a Fenland community ruled by slum racketeers, people-trafficking gangs and fear. The tension rises as the clock is ticking, but nobody wants to talk.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverNight kills / John Lutz.
“Frank Quinn is sure he is hunting for a madman: someone is shooting young women in the heart, defiling their bodies, leaving only torsos to be found. Quinn, a former NYPD detective, is called into the case by an ambitious chief of police and mobilizes his team of brilliant law-enforcement misfits. But in the concrete canyons of New York, this shocking serial murder case is turning into something very different.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe G file : a Van Veeteren mystery / Håkan Nesser ; translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson.
“1987. Verlangan, a former cop turned private detective is hired by a woman to follow her husband Jaan ‘G’ Hennan. A few days later, his client is found dead at the bottom of an empty swimming pool. Maardam police, led by Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, investigate the case. Van Veeteren has encountered Jaan ‘G’ Hennan before and knows only too well the man’s dark capabilities. As more information emerges about G’s shadowy past, the Chief Inspector becomes more desperate than ever to convict him. But G has a solid alibi- and no one else can be found in relation to the crime. 2002. Fifteen years have passed and the G File remains the one case former Chief Inspector Van Veeteren has never been able to solve. But when Verlangan’s daughter reports the private detective missing, Van Veeteren returns to Maardam CID once more. For all Verlangan left behind was a cryptic note; and a telephone message in which he claimed to have finally discovered the proof of G’s murderous past.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe murder bag / Tony Parsons.
“There’s a serial killer on the loose. The social network sites all love him because he cuts the throats of rich and powerful men and he’s good at it. Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable. Enter Detective Max Wolfe, single parent, devoted husband of a brutally departed wife.. Newly arrived in the Homicide division of London’s West End Central, 27 Savile Row, Max follows the bloody trail from the backstreets and bright lights of the city, to the darkest corners of the Internet and all the way to the corridors of power.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSupping with the devil : a DCI Paniatowski mystery / Sally Spencer.
“DCI Monika Paniatowski recognises her latest assignment as advisor to the Earl of Ridley’s rock festival for what it really is, an attempt by the chief constable to destroy her career. Yet it soon becomes apparent that matters are not as simple as they appear. Why, for instance, did the Earl choose to employ the notorious Devil’s Disciples motorcycle gang to provide the security for the festival? And to what lengths will his mother, the dowager countess, go to destroy it? But it is when the half-naked body of a tabloid journalist is discovered in the middle of Whitebridge that things really start to hot up.” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe devil’s seal / Peter Tremayne.
“An Anglo-Saxon deputation arrives in Cashel to debate the new religious rules from Rome with an Irish delegation. The Abbot of Imleach leads the Irish delegation who are hostile to the new rules, and among the Anglo-Saxon delegation is Brother Eadulf’s own younger brother, Egric. There is also an observer appointed from Rome, the Venerable Favorinus. The debate is bad tempered and acrimonious and local Abbess Dar Óma has to step in as a mediator between the two sides. But that evening her body is discovered, she has been bludgeoned to death.The animosity between the two sides is heightened as the Chief Brehon Aillín accuses young Egric of murder. The Venerable Favorinus counter claims that the murderer is Brother Madagan, who is steward to Abbot of Imleach. Suspicions and tempers run high. With the war of words threatening to spill over into bloodshed, Fidelma is compelled to resolve the mystery as she is sure there is something more sinister behind the murder than religious differences.” (Adpated from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverBlackbird / Tom Wright.
“Blackbird is a detective thriller about a serial killer on the loose in contemporary Texas. Leading the investigations is one Detective Jim Beaudry, formerly known as Biscuit, no stranger to the dark side of life. Wrapping up the case will force Jim into the deepest recesses of his own history, even the parts he’d rather forget.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for August

New novels from popular writers, Linda Grant, Philip Kerr, and Lynda La Plante feature in this month’s selection of New Contemporary Fiction. All are highly recommended for hours of great reading.

Syndetics book coverUpstairs at the party / Linda Grant.
“In the early Seventies a glamorous and androgynous couple known collectively as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But the varnished patina of youth and flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, with the most to conceal, Evie/Stevie become a lifelong obsession, as she examines what happened on the night of her own twentieth birthday and her friends’ complicity in their fate. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for nearly forty years. From summers in Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after they have disappeared, Evie/Stevie go on challenging everyone’s ideas of what their lives should turn out to be” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverElizabeth is missing / Emma Healey.
“Maud Horsham, a woman who survived the London Blitz and is now sinking into dementia and her friend Elizabeth is missing. With declining memory and mental powers she has placed herself in the position of detective and Maud is battling the condescension of her caretakers, the police, and her daughter as her faculties fade. There is also another mystery Maud if focusing on the disappearance of her sister, Sukey, after the war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll the Things You Are / Declan Hughes.
“Suburban housewife Clare Taylor returns to her Madison, Wisconsin home to find husband Danny Brogan and their daughters gone, and her beloved dog, Mr. Smith, savagely dismembered. By the time Clare brings the police back to her home, her slaughtered pet has vanished, replaced by something even more disquieting: the body of the man she knows only as a childhood friend of Danny’s, Gene Peterson. Stalked by determined killers, shocked by unexpected revelations about her family, Clare will have to unravel a mystery at whose core is Danny’s most closely guarded secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverResearch / by Philip Kerr.
“If you want to write a murder mystery, you have to do some research. In a luxury flat in Monaco, John Houston’s supermodel wife lies in bed, a bullet in her skull.Houston is the world’s most successful novelist, the playboy head of a literary empire that produces far more books than he could ever actually write. Now the man who has invented hundreds of best-selling killings is wanted for a real murder and on the run from the police, his life transformed into something out of one of his books. And in London, the ghost-writer who is really behind those books has some questions for him too. “ (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverHer / Harriet Lane.
“Two women; two different worlds. Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold. Nina is sophisticated and independent, entirely in control. When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did. But what exactly does Nina want from her? And how far will she go in pursuit of it?” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverTwisted / Lynda La Plante.
“Marcus and Lena Fulford are the envy of their friends. Wealthy, attractive and successful, the couple, with their strikingly beautiful teenage daughter Amy, seem settled and content. But appearances mask a strained relationship almost at breaking point. Marcus’s latest business venture has failed, draining Lena, the major breadwinner, dry. Putting Amy into weekly boarding school and striving to get her own career back on its feet, Lena remains alone in the luxurious family house as her marriage heads towards as amicable a divorce as she and Marcus can muster, and joint custody of their only child. So when Amy arranges a sleepover with a school friend one weekend, neither parent sees the need to be in touch with her. It is only when Amy is reported missing from school and her friend’s mother reveals that, instead of staying with them, Amy was visiting her father, a fact vehemently denied by Marcus – that Lena contacts the police. As the police intensify their enquiries, their reassurances that Amy will be found safe and well begin to sound increasingly hollow. DI Victor Reid, in charge of the case, fears the worst, abduction or murder.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverHow to build a girl / Caitlin Moran.
“The 1990s are a bad time to be poor and not-famous,” thinks 14-year-old Johanna Morrigan, who lives with her parents and four siblings on a council estate in Wolverhampton. The gritty British landscape of adolescence, set to a loud ’90s soundtrack of the Stone Roses and the Mondays, is the stage for Johanna’s fabulous reinvention of herself. Adopting the pseudonym Dolly Wilde, Johanna educates herself in eyeliner and contemporary music and begins submitting record reviews to a London weekly. In the process, she grows up, has adventures far beyond the estate walls, and learns to love herself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lives of others / Neel Mukherjee.
“Calcutta, 1967. The ageing patriarch and matriarch of his family, the Ghoshes, preside over their large household, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting. More than poisonous rivalries among sisters-in-law, destructive secrets, and the implosion of the family business, this is a family unravelling as the society around it fractures. For this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change: the chasm between the generations and between those who have and those who have not, is becoming wider.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNext life might be kinder / Howard Norman.
“Sam Lattimore, has recently lost new wife Elizabeth, who was killed by a deranged bellman at the Nova Scotia hotel where the couple was living after their recent marriage. Although Sam is able to function almost normally, he is psychologically destabilized by this loss and has convinced himself that Elizabeth talks with him each night when he takes his evening walk on the beach.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne night in winter : a novel / Simon Sebag Montefiore.
“A group of students at Stalin School 101, the alma mater of Stalin’s two children, form a secret club devoted to the poetry of Alexander Pushkin. As teenagers secure in wealth and position, they reenact romantic duels from their favorite poems in fancy dress, oblivious to the suffering and fear building in the postwar Soviet Union. When one of their stunts ends in a fatal shooting, the teens end up in prison. The conspiracy soon engulfs the teens’ siblings, parents, and teachers. Secrets, lies, and accusations multiply in a state where everyone is under suspicion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New CDs for August

New music for August includes new albums from Sia, Ed Sheeran, & First Aid Kit, as well as Deluxe reissues of Led Zeppelin & CSNY…

Cover image1000 forms of fear.
“1000 FORMS OF FEAR was produced by Greg Kurstin* and recorded at Echo Studio in Los Angeles…The video for Sia’s “Chandelier” has exploded on line with over 6.5 million views in it’s first week…Raves Pitchfork of the video and song: “Sia’s voice blasts off, the swelling strings propelling her past her contemporaries in the inspirational-pop stratosphere. It’s a jaw-dropping vocal performance that’s enough to convince you she could have a stadium-touring career of her own. The video is filled with the same irrepressible spirit that colors this song.” Time Magazine calls “Chandelier” “the year’s most sobering party anthem…a disarming, unforgettable listen. “An astonishingly prolific hit maker and songwriter, Sia has penned several monster hits over the last few years. In 2013 alone, she’s crafted songs for pop icons including Rihanna (“Diamonds”), Katy Perry (“Double Rainbow”), Britney Spears (“Perfume”), & Beyoncé (“Pretty Hurts”)…Sia is also the featured vocalist on some of the most massive hits she has written for others including “Titanium” with David Guetta, “Beautiful Pain” with Eminem, and “Wild Ones” with Flo Rida. Her most recent release is her hit single “Elastic Heart” from “The Hunger Games Soundtrack” with The Weeknd and Diplo (*produced by Diplo, co-produced by Greg Kurstin) which appears on 1000 FORMS OF FEAR…” (Abridged from Publishers’ description from Amazon.com)

Cover importStay gold.
“First Aid Kit make their Columbia Records debut with the album, Stay Gold. The Swedish duo sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg have honed their lush arrangements and blossomed as vivid storytellers in creating this ambitious 10-song collection of originals. Recorded at ARC studios in Omaha and produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk), the duo also enlisted The Omaha Symphony Orchestra to play on the record, with arrangements by Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes, Broken Bells, Rilo Kiley). They say of the recording process, “We took new directions and turns with the arrangements, building them up and creating more dynamics, yet always following where the songs wanted to go.”Hailing from a southern suburb of Stockholm, Klara and Johanna began composing songs as teenagers in 2007. Their heart-wrenching song “Emmylou” off The Lion’s Roar was chosen by Rolling Stone as a Single of the Year’ in 2012. They have performed on Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, and shared the stage with artists including Jack White, Lykee Li, and Bright Eyes…” (Publishers’ description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageX.
“x (multiply) is the hugely anticipated new album by Ed Sheeran. It follows his critically acclaimed and hugely successful 2011 debut +. Never an artist to stand still, Ed recorded x at various locations around the globe (all the while drawing on experiences and influences encountered on his over three years of unrelenting touring) with such luminary producers as Rick Rubin (Eminem, Jay-Z, Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Pharrell Williams (Daft Punk, Robin Thicke, N.E.R.D), Benny Blanco (Rhianna, Wiz Khalifa) and Jeff Bhasker (Alicia Keys, Jay-Z) adding new flavours to the classy work of key collaborators Johnny McDaid (Snow Patrol) and Jake Gosling (who produced +). The new set showcases the exponential growth (both vocally and musically) of an incredible artist, who at 23 exhibits the poise of a seasoned veteran. The songs for x came together whilst touring + and, in the same way as the latter was a snapshot of his life and relationship to-date, x charts his loves and life since. he breath-taking album-closer ‘Afire Love’ was written about his grandfather who passed away last Christmas. “Always the hero of the family – such a cool guy – he’d been suffering with Alzheimer’s for some time and I actually started writing that song two weeks before he passed away,” Ed says. “I was thinking ‘What if?’ and then he did…”. The deluxe version of the album also includes the original song, ‘I See Fire’, which Ed wrote, produced and recorded for the second Hobbit movie. This was after Academy award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson personally commissioned him…” (Abridged publishers’ description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageLed Zeppelin III [deluxe].
“Jo With the 2014 release of deluxe editions of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, & Led Zeppelin III, the band will launch an extensive reissue program of all nine of its studio albums in chronological order, each remastered by guitarist and producer Jimmy Page. Led Zeppelin will also open its vaults to share dozens of unheard studio and live recordings, with each album featuring a second disc of companion audio comprised entirely of unreleased music related to that album. “The material on the companion discs presents a portal to the time of the recording of Led Zeppelin, ” says Page. “It is a selection of work in progress with rough mixes, backing tracks, alternate versions, and new material recorded at the time.” Fueled by classic tracks such as “Immigrant Song” and “Since I ve Been Loving You, ” the album soared to the top of charts worldwide upon its release in October of 1970 and has since been certified 6x platinum. The nine tracks featured on Led Zeppelin III s companion audio continue to offer a window into the band s recording process with seven studio outtakes of songs from the album as well as three previously unheard compositions: “Jennings Farm Blues” (an instrumental forerunner of “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”), “Bathroom Sound” (an instrumental version of “Out On The Tiles”), and their take on the blues classics “Keys To The Highway/Trouble In Mind”…” (Publishers’ description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageSea when absent / A Sunny Day in Glasgow.
“New 2014 album … their first in 4 years! Daydreamy synth-pop ‘n’ shimmering shoegaze outta Philadelphia, for fans of M83 and My Bloody Valentine. Includes “Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)” and “Crushin’”.It’s been a while, but A Sunny Day in Glasgow are back with Sea When Absent, their third proper album. Sea When Absent situates itself in the science fiction that is life in 2014 and goes looking for what new myths might speak to us in our post-Fukushima, post-quantum, post-everything world. Recorded over a year and half with Jeff Zeigler (War on Drugs, Kurt Vile) at his Uniform Recording Studios in Eraserhood Philadelphia, the album is a conscious move away from the bright-dark, ambient maximalism of the band’s acclaimed double LP, Ashes Grammar, and a move towards a post-millennial, up-front pop sound. Sea When Absent is simultaneously A Sunny Day in Glasgow at their most accessible, most insane, and most rock…” (Publishers’ description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageCSNY 1974 [deluxe] / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
“Long-rumored and highly anticipated, CSNY 1974 captures the band’s one-of-a-kind harmonic alchemy during its remarkable outdoor stadium tour, a trek that spanned more than two months and included 31 concerts, in 24 cities, with combined audiences of over a million people. Produced by Graham Nash and Joel Bernstein, this 40th anniversary boxed set features 40 live tracks spread over 3 CDs, a bonus DVD of previously unreleased concert footage, and a 188-page booklet…” (Publisher’s description from Amazon.co.uk)

Meet the NZ Post Winners on 28 August at Central Library

Fresh from the awards ceremony the night before, the winning authors from the New Zealand Post Book Awards come together on 28 August at Central Library to discuss NZ-Post-Awardsstheir books, love of writing, new projects, inspirations and challenges and the books currently on their own ‘must-read’ lists at this free event.

Featuring the winners of these awards:

  • 2014 New Zealand Post Book of the Year
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • General Non-Fiction
  • Illustrated Non-Fiction
  • People’s Choice

Audience questions will follow, and the winning books will be available for purchase from a Unity Books stand. The authors will be signing copies at the event.

Visit www.nzpostbookawards.co.nz for more information about this event. Full updates on the awards can be found on the New Zealand Post Book Awards’s Facebook page and via @BooksellersNZ on Twitter.

Thursday 28 August
12.15pm – 1.15pm
Wellington Central Library, Ground Floor, 65 Victoria St



Kerry’s Fiction Picks

Syndetics book coverThe Good Girl
Mary Kubica’s debut novel centres around a Mia, a young art teacher from a well-to-do Chicago family.   One evening she disappears, apparently kidnapped, after leaving a bar with a man.  The story is told from four different perspectives – Mia, Colin (Mia’s kidnapper), James, her mother Eve and detective Gabe, both of whom will stop at nothing to find her.  However, things take a stranger turn when Mia returns, her memory completely lost.  Publisher’s Weekly says “the novel’s structure and deep Midwestern roots, will encourage comparisons to Gone Girl. Unlike that dazzling duel between what prove to be a pair of sociopaths, this Girl has heart-which makes it all the more devastating when the author breaks it.”

Syndetics book coverUnmanned
his novel has been described as “a psychologically gripping descent into the eerie realm of drone warfare, led by one pilot’s risky quest to expose its darkest secrets”.  It’s about Darwin, an ex-fighter pilot now a drunk, who’s haunted by his past and in particular an ill-fated drone mission in Afghanistan.  He teams up with three journalist investigating the mission and the possible rogue intelligence operative who controlled it.  A timely thriller.

Syndetics book coverYou’re a big girl now
This is another really timely story, in fact it’s been called  “a gripping, intelligent thriller that questions the morals and politics of America in the contemporary Age of Surveillance”.  It’s about Isabel, a reporter who’s about to write a New York Times cover story about Obama’s  unconstitutional surveillance of its citizens.  After the article breaks she goes into hiding at her grandparents’ home. And whilst there starts to investigate her own family’s past.  Her father who abandoned her as a child, was himself on the run from the government, one of the US’s most wanted.  Intriguing.  Sounds good!

Syndetics book coverFives and twenty fives
This is a debut for ex-Marine Michael Pitre who spent time in Iraq and returned wanting to write about his experiences.  The book is about a road repair platoon who fill in potholes in Iraq, looking for and defusing bombs.  This is a task of constant risk and danger – the title refers to the five metres in every direction they scan looking for explosives.  The story is set between their time in Iraq and current New Orleans, where the team reunites.  It has received good reviews and has been praised for its unique telling of soldiers’ experiences.

Short list for Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel

Syndetics book coverThe shortlist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for the Best Crime Fiction has been announced. Four novels have been selected from the long list of eight. They are
Joe Victim by Paul Cleave
Frederick’s Coat by Alan Duff
My Brother’s Keeper by Donna Malane
Where the Dead Men Go by Liam McIlvanney
This award, named after New Zealand’s most well-known crime writer, was established in 2010. Past winners have been Alix Bosco, Paul Thomas, Neil Cross and Paul Cleave.
The winner will be announced on 30th August 2014 and will receive $1,000 and a set of Ngaio Marsh Award novels.

The Wellington City Libraries Ratings Project #3

Why does it take so long for things to be released on DVD? Why are some TV shows not released here at all, even though they are available in Australia? Unfortunately New Zealand’s DVD zone is at the end of the release market for a lot of material and, faced with such a small market, procedural costs often become prohibitive to warrant general release by a commercial distributor.

We love TV shows at Wellington City Libraries, and we know you do too. Which is why we have initiated ‘The Ratings Project’, an ongoing mission to bring you the shows that you want to watch by submitting titles to the Film & Video Labeling Body for classification.

With ‘The Ratings Project’ we aim to give you the complete ‘TV’ experience, whether we provide you with full run of your favourite TV shows, or surprise you with something new & different. We hope you find something you enjoy and feel free to send us any feedback and suggestions…

This month’s titles range from comedy to drama, from foreign to action and back again, with something for everyone’s taste…

Cover imageGeorge Gently. Series 5.
“It’s 1968 and the swinging sixties have made their way up North and in to the life of Inspector George Gently. Joined by his sharp tongued partner DS John Bacchus, Gently finds himself on the case of a miner’s daughter, a kidnapped orphan and a murder that may have been a race-hate crime. The late sixties are a turbulent time in Britain and Gently’s investigations are complicated by class tensions, a dark undercurrent of racism and the outmoded shame of single motherhood, not to mention the threat of past grudges rearing their head. There are also signs of change though as Gently witnesses the coming of age of a younger, more tolerant generation and their increasing social consciousness. And, of course, there is Northern Soul. Filled with suspense, humour and Soul, Series Five of Inspector George Gently is more than just a detective procedural. A nostalgic treat for anyone who was there and something unseen for anyone who wasn’t, it is a time capsule of an imperfect but exciting and hopeful time that resonates right through to the present…” (Container description from Syndetics)

Cover imageWaking the dead. The complete series two.
“The Cold Case squad is a crack team of three detectives, a forensic expert and a psychological profiler. Their job is to reopen the files on unsolved murders. In this season, a psychotic killer is the key to an investigation when a victim who survived is harassed by a copycat assailant; a deathbed confession appears to link the hanging of an East End gangster and the assassination of the jury who found him guilty; the team come up against a wall of Whitehall secrecy when a petty burglar is acquitted of murdering a prominent Home Officer advisor; and DCI Boyd makes terrible mistakes while under pressure to discover the truth behind the disappearance of an 18-year-old girl…” (Container description from Syndetics)

Cover imageNumb3rs. The final season.
“Drama about an FBI agent who recruits his mathematical-genius brother to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes in Los Angeles. The two brothers take on the most confounding criminal cases from a very distinctive perspective. Inspired by actual events, the series depicts how the confluence of police work and mathematics provides unexpected revelations and answers to the most perplexing criminal questions…” (Container description from Syndetics)

Cover imageParenthood. Season 2.
“NBC’s Parenthood encompasses such a sprawling cast that the action can get a little hectic at times, but the show always delivers in the more dramatic moments. In the second season, the Bravermans are all jockeying for position. Patriarch Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) has come to an understanding with his wife, Camille (Bonnie Bedelia), but still tries to control situations with his kids when cooperation would make things easier. His oldest son, Adam (Peter Krause), on the other hand, gives up some of his turf when he offers his sister, Sarah (Lauren Graham), a job at his shoe-manufacturing firm, where she enters into a relationship with his boss, Gordon (guest star William Baldwin). Adam’s 16-year-old daughter, Haddie (Sarah Ramos), meanwhile, struggles to assert her independence, but her father and mother, Kristina (Monica Potter), make it difficult when it comes to a school election and a potential love interest (Michael B. Jordan, from creator Jason Katims’s Friday Night Lights). Her younger brother, Max (Max Burkholder), who has Asperger’s syndrome, also contributes to their rapidly escalating stress levels….It might not seem fair to single out one cast member, but Graham continues to do some of the best work, largely because her character, a single mother, has the most to lose…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

RatingsProjectDVDs5Parenthood. Season 3.
“In many respects, the third season of NBC’s Parenthood revolves around new starts. In the wake of his layoff, Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) have their third child, while he looks for work. Meanwhile, Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) pursue new relationships, Amber (Mae Whitman) gets a job with a political candidate (Jonathan Tucker), and Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) try to find a way to add to their family after the disappointments of the previous year. These developments present opportunities as Adam and Crosby open up a recording studio and Julia and Joel arrange an adoption with Zoe (Rosa Salazar, very good), a young woman without the financial means to provide for a child, but the unintended consequences include sibling rivalry and a series of inappropriate employer-employee situations. Adam and Kristina also decide to mainstream Max (Max Burkholder), who has Asperger’s syndrome, by sending him to public school, which presents a whole new set of challenges. Unlike the other Bravermans, Sarah (Lauren Graham) revisits her past when she reunites with her ex-boyfriend, Mark (Jason Ritter, who took time off for The Event). …The year ends on an optimistic note with a wedding and another new addition. If the musical selections tend to err on the sappy side, the writing and acting continue to elevate Parenthood above most other domestic dramas…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageParenthood. Season 4.
“Family dynamics are shifting for all three generations of The Braverman clan in the critically acclaimed fourth season of Parenthood. Everything changes for Adam and Kristina as they receive shocking news, while Sarah contemplates how her priorities affect her future. As Julia and Joel adjust to life with their adopted son, Crosby and Jasmine settle into their roles as husband and wife. Featuring guest stars Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Jason Ritter (The Event), watch all 15 smart, funny and heartwarming episodes about life’s unexpected hurdles and those who help us conquer them: family…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePsych. The complete fifth season.
“With his uptight father (Corbin Bernsen) in charge of the Santa Barbara Police Department’s consultants, incredibly charming and talented phony psychic Shawn (James Roday) must now work extra hard to land new investigation gigs for him and his trusty partner Gus (Dulé Hill). Season 5 of this quirky crime show finds the private detectives searching for a kidnap victim, probing an alien abduction and infiltrating a street-racing gang…” (Publisher’s description from Amazon.com)

cover imageFlashpoint. Season one.
“The Canadian police drama series Flashpoint examines the day-to-day triumphs and tragedies of an elite tactical squad as it responds to an array of high-intensity situations in this first-season boxed set. Character actor Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars) is the cool-headed leader of the Strategic Response Unit (SRU), a crack team of young officers skilled at handling dangerous situations beyond the ken of the police, including hostage situations, bomb threats, and robberies….At first blush, it’s standard-issue cop show fare, with plenty of well-executed action sequences filmed in tight, often claustrophobic setups to ratchet up the tension. Thankfully, the producers of Flashpoint are equally interested in the emotional and physical tolls experienced by the team…We also get to see how extreme moments have lasting effects: Lane is twice dragged into investigations over his use of force in the first season, while other officers deal with post-traumatic stress when situations go wrong and good people die, despite their best efforts. Such elements help to elevate Flashpoint beyond the realm of TV shoot-’em-up, and if the end results aren’t on par with The Wire or Homicide: Life on the Street, the show deserves some credit for aspiring to those levels of quality…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageFlashpoint. Series two, Volume one.
“Inspired by the real-life Emergency Task Force of Toronto, Flashpoint is a riveting, suspense-filled police drama. Focusing on the psychological and moral dilemmas involved in elite crime work, Series Two ups the stakes for the Strategic Response Unit (SRU). The show features a host of top US and Canadian talent, including Enrico Colantoni, Hugh Dillon, Amy Jo Johnson and David Paetkau. All cast members deliver subtle, nuanced performances that lift Flashpoint well above the ranks of other police dramas. Addictive, intelligent and action-packed, Flashpoint is world-class television…” (Product description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageFlashpoint. Series two, Volume two.
“Focusing on the high stakes operations of a Strategic Response Unit (SRU). Flashpoint is the hit series enthralling audiences worldwide. Specialising in volatile, high risk situations. SRU’s Team One is an elite task force whose highly trained recruits are required to make split second decisions that can mean the difference between life and death…” (Product description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageThe IT crowd. Version 4.0.
“Banished from the ivory towers of Reynholm Industries, the IT crowd lurk below ground, avoiding work and social contact in equal measure… Another series of The IT Crowd renews our acquaintance with Roy (Chris O’Dowd), Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Jen (Katherine Parkinson), the co dependant trio who continue, against all odds, to operate under the obscene rule of Douglas (Matt Berry). Their seemingly fragile friendship is reinforced when are confronted with naked aerobics, bunking off work, marriages and divorces. The Fourth series sees each character taking on new challenges; Jen wants to stretch herself in the workplace so applies for the post of ‘Entertainment Manager’, Moss beats all records on a popular spelling show, Roy spends a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince an old friend that he is not a window cleaner and Douglas joins the ‘spaceologists’. Written by Graham Linehan (Black Books, Father Ted), Executive Produced by Ash Atalla and Produced by Richard Boden, this persistently hilarious Rose D’or, BAFTA and International Emmy-winning sitcom is about to be upgraded to version 4.0…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageInspector Montalbano. Volume 4.
“It is no wonder that Inspector Montalbano is Italy’s favourite detective, both in print – in Andrea Camilleri’s award winning novels – and now on television as inhabited by actor Luca Zingaretti in a role that rivals the finest detectives America and Europe has to offer. In these four irresistible tales, the Inspector is forced to contend with not only murderers, criminals and errant husbands who will do everything to avoid his detection, but local politicians, police bureaucracy, unreliable judges, lethally argumentative mafia families, hysterical wives, psychic and psychotic sisters and so much more. From a discovered body in a buried crime through corrupt charities saving immigrant women, kidnapped horses and dark sexual compulsions, Montalbano has a lot on his plate. But not so much that there isn’t room for something sweet, whether in his favourite restaurant or in the privacy of his own home…( Publisher’s description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageCovert affairs. Season three.
“Everything changes for savvy CIA operative Annie Walker (Piper Perabo, Looper) in season three of the hit series Covert Affairs. Reassigned to a new and even more covert division of the Agency, Annie takes on missions that become personal and finds herself on dangerous forays into inhospitable territory, while a series of explosive revelations force her to question her role and what (and who) matters most. From the producers of The Bourne Trilogy and co-starring Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty), Kari Matchett (Leverage), and Peter Gallagher (The O.C.), watch all 16 action-packed episodes back to back and uninterrupted of the pulse-racing series that “will keep you at the edge of your seat” (Jeanne Jakle, San Antonio Express News). International shooting locations this season include Moscow, Paris, Barcelona, Morocco and Puerto Rico…” (Publisher’s description from Amazon.com)

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