It’s Christmas Storytime Time Again!

Deck the Halls with Books of Jolly! Fa la la la la….

Christmas Storytimes are back!

Dust of your jingle bells, catch a sleigh ride, and follow the reindeer footprints into your local library for fun family storytimes to get your into the festival Christmas spirit.

These storytimes will be filled with stories and songs for the Christmas season, and are suitable for families with children of all ages. Come along in a Christmas costume, or your coziest pyjamas!

All storytimes start at 6pm and run for 45mins.

When and Where:

Monday 17th December

Brooklyn, Cummings Park (Ngaio), and Miramar Library,

Tuesday 18th December

Central Library, Children’s section

Thursday 20th December

Wadestown, Karori, Khandallah, Mervyn kemp (Tawa) and Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Libraries, and Island Bay Community Centre

Friday 21st December

Newtown and Johnsonville Libraries

These are free events, and bookings aren’t required.

Stocking up on Christmas titles!

The Christmas Secret

Christmas spirit at the library! Immerse yourself in new and classic titles from a variety of authors from different genres who use Christmas to showcase their storytelling talents. Whether it’s Ali Smith’s Winter, musing on how we present ourselves to family, or Agatha Christie setting Poirot and Miss Marple baffling cases for Christmas there is great reading material for the holidays.

Some authors regularly return to the celebration theme with series set around Christmas, Debbie Macomber, who brings a new feel good Christmas gift every year and Anne Perry who delivers Victorian mystery novellas adorned with all the trimmings. James Patterson and John Grisham’s fast paced seasonal titles play foil to the romantic holiday offerings from Jenny Colgan and Karen Swan.

Enjoy our tailored Christmas collection!

Syndetics book coverTwelve days of Christmas : a novel / Debbie Macomber.Twelve Days of Christmas
“Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how, by killing him with kindness. To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Christmas secret / Karen Swan.
“Set on the beautiful island of Islay in Scotland, The Christmas Secret is a gripping and heartwarming novel. Alex Hyde is the leaders’ leader. An executive coach par excellence. Lochlan Farquhar, CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, is a maverick, an enigma and a renegade, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees. It should be business as usual. She can do this in her sleep. Only, when she gets to the remote island of Islay, with the winter snows falling, Alex finds herself out of her comfort zone.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter / Ali Smith.Winter: A Novel
Here comes Winter. Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer’s leaves? Dead litter.
The world shrinks; the sap sinks.
But winter makes things visible. And if there’s ice, there’ll be fire. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter. It’s the season that teaches us survival. ” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Christmas revelation : a novel / Anne Perry.
“Christmas is coming and the streets of London are full of festive cheer. As young Worm returns to his home at the Portpool Lane clinic, he encounters the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and, spellbound, he follows her until she is dragged away by two evil-looking men. Convinced that she is in grave danger, Worm begs Squeaky Robinson to help him track her down. But Elouise is embroiled with dangerous criminals who want information that only she can tell. They will stop at nothing to get what they want and, with Christmas day fast approaching, Worm and Squeaky must conjure up a daring plan to help Elouise before it is too late.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe adventure of the Christmas pudding : and a selection of entrees / Agatha Christie.
“Agatha Christie’s seasonal Poirot and Marple short story collection…first came a sinister warning to Poirot not to eat any plum pudding… then the discovery of a corpse in a chest… next, an overheard quarrel that led to murder… the strange case of the dead man who altered his eating habits… and the puzzle of the victim who dreamt his own suicide. What links these five baffling cases? The little grey cells of Monsieur Hercule Poirot!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMerry Christmas, Alex Cross / James Patterson.
“It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again–a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything–and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChristmas at the Cornish cafe / Phillipa Ashley.
“Return to the Cornish Cafe in this gorgeous festive romance – the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas. Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so. A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSkipping Christmas / John Grisham.Skipping Christmas
“Imagine a year without the chaos and frenzy that has become part of our holiday tradition. This is just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they plan to skip Christmas and embark on a Caribbean cruise instead. But as this weary couple is about to discover it’s not as easy as that.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Darling Dahlias and the poinsettia puzzle / Susan Wittig Albert.
“It’s Christmas, 1934, and the citizens of Darling, Alabama, are unwrapping a big package of Christmas puzzles. Mildred Kilgore and Earlynne Biddle are planning to open a bakery on the square–if they can come up with the right recipes. Charlie Dickens faces two of the biggest puzzles of his career as an investigative reporter, and one of them involves his wife. Cute little Cupcake’s talent as a singer and dancer makes her a tempting target for an unscrupulous exploiter; Lizzy must enlist the Dahlias to protect her, while she herself is confronted by a romantic puzzle. And Sheriff Norris is forced to reopen a puzzling mystery that the town thought was solved and follow a string of clues that lead to a deadly situation at the nearby prison farm.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn island Christmas / Jenny Colgan.
“Christmas on the remote Scottish island of Mure is bleak, stark – and incredibly beautiful. It’s a time for hunkering down, getting cosy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram with the people you love – unless, of course, you’re accidentally pregnant to your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In what should be the season of peace and goodwill on earth, will Joel think Flora is a bearer of glad tidings?” (Syndetics summary)

 

The legacy of Philip K. Dick

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.” – Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick, the visionary, prophetic science fiction writer, would have been 90 on the 16th of December this year. His ability to foresee the trends, themes, technologies and politics that would go on to shape our world was truly uncanny. His works inspired hordes of writers, artists, film-makers and even scientists. And of course his creations didn’t exist in a vacuum–he was in turn influenced by writers such as Raymond Chandler, Franz Kafka and John Sladek.

To commemorate his remarkable life and work we have created our own showcase of books, graphic novels and DVDs from our science fiction, graphic novel and audio visual departments.

Below is a very small selection of the authors who have been inspired by Philip K. Dick’s works, or who were of inspiration to him. To see more of our picks just pop into the library or check out our special Overdrive selections!

Syndetics book coverFinches of Mars / Brian Aldiss.
“Set on the Red Planet, this book follows the stories of a group of colonists and the problems they have in setting up a new society. Life can be sustained by technology but new life will not prosper – the woman on the planet only ever give birth to stillborn children.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOryx and Crake / Margaret Atwood.
“The narrator is Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy), self-named though not self-created. As the story begins, he’s sleeping in a tree, wearing a dirty old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beautiful and beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. Earlier, Snowman’s life was one of comparative privilege. Crake and Jimmy live with all the other smart, rich people in the Compounds – gated company towns owned by biotech corporations. (Ordinary folks are kept outside the gates in the chaotic ‘pleeblands’.) Meanwhile, beautiful Oryx, raised as a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, finds her way to the West and meets Crake and Jimmy, setting up an inevitable love triangle.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe drowned world / J.G. Ballard ; introduction by Martin Amis.
The Drowned World imagines a terrifying world in which global warming has melted the ice caps and primordial jungles have overrun a tropical London. Set during the year 2145, this novel follows biologist Dr. Robert Kearns and his team of scientists as they confront a cityscape in which nature is on the rampage and giant lizards, dragonflies, and insects fiercely compete for domination.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBest short stories = Die schönsten Erzählungen / Franz Kafka ; edited and translated by Stanley Appelbaum.
“Franz Kafka (1883-1924). Considered one of the greatest modern writers, Kafka’s work brilliantly explores the anxiety, futility and complexity of modern life. The stories in this volume are The Metamorphosis (thought by many critics to be Kafka’s most perfect work), The Judgment, In the Penal Colony, A Country Doctor and A Report to an Academy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAltered carbon / Richard K. Morgan.
“In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself–a person’s consciousness can be easily downloaded into a new body, making death nearly obsolete. Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly brutal. Resleeved into a new body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco), Kovacs is thrown into a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that buys and sells human existence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCat’s cradle / Kurt Vonnegut
“A young writer decides to interview the children of a scientist primarily responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb. This is an apocalyptic tale of the planet’s ultimate fate, featuring a cast of unlikely heroes. A satirical commentary on modern man and his madness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Staff Pick CDs for Nov/Dec: Part 1

GAS CD Cover

The first part of the latest round-up of Staff Picks features an eclectic mix of recommendations from Electronica to NZ, to Box-set reissues, and Indie. Keep an eye out for part two coming soon!

Suffuse.
Christchurch based guitarist Roy Montgomery’s first band were the Pin Group whose 7” single ‘Ambivalence’ was the very first Flying Nun release back in 1981. Almost 40 years later Roy Montgomery continues to push the edges and his latest release finds him creating six deeply layered shimmering soundscapes, each featuring a different guest female vocalist including Liz Harris, aka Grouper, and Julianna Barwick. These beautifully produced ambient experimental drones are deeply hypnotic and are given an added edge by the vocal component that humanizes the sounds without detracting from their transcendental properties. Overall a very successful project that, in a perfect world, would find cult guitar legend Roy Montgomery a wider audience. (John)

DJ-kicks : DJ Seinfeld.
It’s a sure sign that a new electronic sub-genre has been validated when a leading DJ of the style is asked to submit a mix to the long running DJ Kicks series. Number 64 in the series is from Swedish producer, Armand Jakobsson, aka, DJ Seinfeld, a leading light in the fresh Lo-Fi House sub-genre. Confusingly, Lo-Fi House appears to be an attitude rather than an actual sound – predicated on a deliberately rough around the edges production style and a can-do, outsider attitude. Here we have a cool selection of contemporary electronica, light and groovy, that moves very smoothly through deep house, breakbeats, electro, downbeat and more with, interestingly, eight of the 21 tracks coming from Melbourne producers. (John)

Loving the alien [1983-1988].
There has been a few great David Bowie releases in 2018 including Welcome to the Blackout (live London 78) and December saw the first DVD release of his seminal Glastonbury performance from 2000, often cited as the greatest Glastonbury headline performance ever. There is also the continuation of the fabulous box set releases of his back catalogue, this one entitled Loving the alien (1983-1988), an eleven disc outing that covers his most commercial period. In late 60s Kenneth Pitt, one of Bowies early managers, tried to turn David Bowie into an all-round mass market entertainer and in the 80’s under his own steam that’s exactly what he became. And I guess that’s the only way you can view these releases. They just don’t inhabit the same worlds as his 70’s output- these albums are more Chic, or Michael Jackson, than Ziggy Stardust. However if you listen to them with your 80’s disco ears on there is a lot to be enjoyed! The remastered version of Lets Dance has many pleasures. The Loving the Alien album has one or two fine tracks but the most interesting aspect of this release is the new version of Never Let Me Down. This 2018 version has been totally reworked with many of the classic 80’s elements removed and replaced with completely new elements. This new version is certainly a vast improvement on the original release and free of the 80s bombastic production; it gains a new life with songs being given the space to breathe and so becomes subtle and complex in tone. (Neil J)

All that reckoning.
It was 1986 that the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies played a key part in creating the template for alt-country with their classic Lo-Fi album The Trinity Session. Exactly 30 years on, it’s great to hear, on their first record in six years, that these musos in their 50’s are still creating their beautiful, fiery, fragile sound world. This collection of dark, existentialist songs that deal with political, social and personal situations are beautifully delivered by vocalist Margo Timmins, accompanied by her brothers on guitar and drums, with bass player, Alan Anton. The often delicate songs are frequently shot through with discordant noise and a blurry psychedelic edge, sometimes subtle, other times harsh, to create atmospheres haunting, tender and tense. (John)

Body / The Necks.
Back to the Chris Cutler (Henry Cow/Art Bears)’s ReR label, the world famous Australian cult trio, The Necks’ 20th album finds them a superb form. Once again, it’s a 60 minutes-long improvisation affair, opening and closing with the beautifully executed piano-led ambient sound. However, the chunk of middle part is a frantic electric guitar riff like a storm. This definitely comes as a shock for many but probably not so surprising, if you remember that they have been one of the most forward-thinking, push-the-boundary bands. It’s been almost three decades since they started performing together but they still have fresh ideas and keep evolving. This is one of their bests and confirms again that they are truly original. Phenomenal. (Shinji)

Loop-finding-jazz-records.
Originally released in 2001, Loop Finding Jazz Records was groundbreaking in the, then, new domain of minimal electronica, featuring subtle use of micro samples and flickering glitch generated rhythms to create music that was oddly mesmerizing. This record has become a cult favorite and has aged surprisingly well, the languorous textures and sub-sonic bass creating a timeless sound world, somewhere between ambient and sub-aquatic minimal house. Despite being created with micro-samples taken from jazz records, this album bears no resemblance to that genre, presenting more a strange and dreamlike soundtrack for an imaginary, removed and flawless post-human existence, perfect for home listening. (John)

Re:member.
Its hard to credit that Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds started out as drummer for a hardcore band, as this collection of incredibly delicate and achingly beautiful pieces for piano, cello, orchestra and electronics are about as far from hardcore drumming as can be imagined. Recognized as one of the leading figures in the modern classical genre, Arnalds here applies subtle electronic algorithms to his compositions via the use of software he developed that generates alternate notes on two other pianos from the notes he is playing. The results are gorgeous harmonics that add complexity to the deceptively simple and beautifully restrained compositions which straddle modern classical, ambient and electronica. (John)

Negro swan.
A deeply sensitive and resonant album, Blood Orange delivers beautiful production and emotive vocal performances. Pitchfork reviewer Jason King put it best when he described the album as capturing “the scattershot, jittery, anxious, blissed-out-depressive feeling of what it’s like to be a marginalized person at a toxic and retrograde moment in global culture and politics.” Recommended tracks are ‘Orlando’ and ‘Charcoal Baby’. (Joe)

Searching for the spark.
Special mention must go to the Steve Hillage Box Set – if only for its sheer magnitude – so make sure you are feeling fit if you decide to access this item, as just carrying the weighty box home presents a challenge. Contained within are 22 CDs and four books which encapsulate the UK psych-rock guitarist’s entire career. While not exactly a household name, Steve Hillage is probably most famous for his role as guitarist on Gong’s cult Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, after which he went on to a solo career – as documented in this box set. Of particular interest are the recordings of and writings about the early Canterbury scene, which he was a formative part of as guitarist for the bands Uriel and Khan. Also included is the first System 7 album, his, still current, techno based project, featuring guest artists such as Derek May, Alex Paterson and Paul Oakenfold. (John)

Rausch.
German electronic producer Wolfgang Voigt has been running his Gas project since 1996 and his music has taken a darker turn for this, his sixth release. His compositions feature processed orchestral samples densely layered, frequently over a deeply submerged 4/4 rhythm, that evoke, if anything, a warm, timeless cocoon. Here, however, the atmosphere has become foreboding with dissonance and anxiety entering into a world that once seemed welcoming. ‘Rausch’ translates as an ecstatic state or fever dream, and this music, which contains bright and beautiful moments emerging from an often imposing and dense gloom, while not for the faint-hearted, offers a rewarding deep listening experience. (John)

Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? : 25th anniversary edition.
With Dolores O’Riordan’s distinctive voice, The Cranberries were one of those bands you either loved or hated, but there was no denying the success and pervasiveness of their first 2 albums in the early 90s. Last year the band came together to plan a 25th Anniversary Box Set release of their debut album, and following O’Riordan’s untimely death in January, the remaining band members have decided to go ahead with the 25th Anniversary Box Set as a tribute to her. As well as the original album, it includes a plethora of recordings from that era spread across 3 discs, including some rare tracks sourced from their early cassette releases as ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’. It also includes a 52-page hardback book that details the creation of the record and the history of the bands ‘rags to riches’ journey, which is itself a fascinating look back at a Music Industry that doesn’t exist anymore. A fitting tribute to one of the most iconic voices of popular music. (Mark)

The loneliest girl.
Difficult to pin down, AK pop chanteuse Chelsea Nikkel confounds with her fourth album, which extends her previous synth-pop arrangements into a wide array of new areas, with each of the 12 tracks pretty much inhabiting a different pop arena. Produced by alt-pop maestro Jonathon Bree, this is pop, but pop with a distinctly Lynchian feel, as within the sweet vocals and pink ribbons beats a dark heart delivering these thoughtfully produced bitter sweet songs. It all hangs together remarkably well, and beneath the la-la-las there lurks a deceptively subversive baroque take on the pop format that is entertaining from start to finish. (John)

Strictly rhythm : underground ’90-’97.
The latest edition in Cherry Red’s expertly curated re-issue series features a three disc collection of standout tracks from NY based Strictly Rhythm, the label that played a vital role in creating the dance genre known as House. Home to artists such as Roger Sanchez, Todd Terry, Louie Vega and Armand Van Helden, Strictly Rhythm was the leading US house music label throughout the ‘90’s. This retrospective is almost a history of NY underground house music itself, with the biggest hits deliberately overlooked in favor of club classics, hidden treasures and tracks never before released on CD. With all tracks fully restored and remastered this is a great peek into the roots of contemporary dance music. (John)

Anthem of the sun.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s second album. Their spacey, sun-tanned San Francisco rock is on form for these groovy and psychedelic tunes. The album is grounded in folk-rock and blues, but takes cues from free-jazz. Keith Richards once said of the Grateful Dead that they were “just poodling about for hours and hours. Jerry Garcia, boring s—, man. Sorry, Jerry.” But on this album, the Dead are tighter than ever. Standout songs include New Potato Caboose and That’s it for the Other One. The anniversary edition includes the 1968 version and 1971 remix of the original album and previously unreleased live recordings. (Joe)

The nature of imitation.
The new album by Oliver Johnson, AKA Dorian Concept, is on Brainfeeder, the LA experimental hip-hop label, which makes sense for a musician who played keyboards in Flying Lotus’s touring band and worked on Cosmogramma…  and the experience shows. This is music “meant to play on our short attention spans” and the live instrumentation inspired by jazz, fusion, prog and funk and subject to an intense process of digital editing, creates surprisingly listenable stuttered, chopped up shapeshifting music comparable to other Brainfeeder artists such as Flying Lotus and Thundercat with a solid nod to Squarepusher. With the fleeting appearance of soulful vocals and untreated piano to mellow things out, this is an intriguing musical ride. (John)

Collapse.
The appearance of cryptic 3D posters on the walls of the London Underground network bearing the Aphex Twin logo was a sure sign that something was brewing and when the video for a new track called Collapse was banned, as it failed the test for TV image sequences that would provoke photosensitive epilepsy, it became clear that Richard James aka Aphex Twin was in the area once again. This five track ep is the latest in a series of EPs that have followed Aphex Twin’s triumphant 2014 return with the album Syro and is his most familiar so far, bearing all of the hallmarks of classic Aphex Twin electronica – frantic stuttered beats, rubbery bass lines, beautiful submerged melodies, evocative vocal samples and complex shifting arrangements. (John)

Christmas at the Romanovs: New eBook Non-Fiction

Christmas means family and togetherness, but what if your family members are the autocratic rulers of the Russian Empire, known for their disastrous wars, bloody massacres and friendships with unreliable holy men? That’s the question author Helen Rappaport ponders in The Race to Save the Romanovs. Why was it that after Tsar Nicholas II was imprisoned following the October Revolution, not one of his cousins in Europe’s wide network of monarchies came to his rescue? Read on (or sign up) to find out!

Overdrive cover The Race to Save the Romanovs, by Helen Rappaport
“On 17 July 1918, the Russian Revolution came for the former Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and their children – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexey. Why were the world’s mightiest nations powerless to save the Romanovs? Helen Rappaport reveals a tragic story of fierce loyalty, bitter rivalries and devastating betrayals, culminating in the execution of the abandoned Imperial family.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Dopesick, by Beth Macy
“Beth Macy takes us into the heart of America’s struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs and once-idyllic farm towns, this powerful and moving story illustrates how a national crisis became so firmly entrenched. And at the heart of the narrative is one large corporation: Purdue.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Cave, by Liam Cochrane
“When the 12 young members of the Wild Boars soccer club walked into a Thai cave with their coach, they expected to be out by nightfall. A birthday cake waited in the fridge for one boy, another boy had a tutoring class. Then a sudden monsoonal downpour flooded their route out. They were trapped. So began the greatest search-and-rescue mission in living memory.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Meghan, by Andrew Morton
“In this biography of the duchess-to-be, acclaimed royal biographer Andrew Morton goes back to Meghan’s roots, interviewing those closest to her to uncover the story of her childhood, growing up in The Valley in LA and her breakout into acting. Finishing with an account of her romance with Prince Harry, Morton reflects on the impact that Meghan has already made on the rigid traditions of the House of Windsor.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Women, Equality, Power, by Helen Clark
“Helen Clark has been a political leader for more than 40 years. She entered parliament in 1981, led the Labour Party to victory in 1999 and was Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years. She then took on a critical international role as Administrator of the UN Development Programme. One of her key focuses throughout this time has been the empowerment of women and she has paved the way for other women to step up and lead.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Life You Can Save, by Peter Singer
“Most of us are absolutely certain that we wouldn’t hesitate to save a drowning child. Yet while thousands of children die each day, we spend money on things we take for granted, and would hardly miss if they were not there. Is that wrong? If so, how far does our obligation to the poor go?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Chasing Hillary, by Amy Chozick
“Hillary Clinton dominated Amy Chozick’s life for more than a decade. Here, she tells the inside story of Clinton’s pursuit of the US presidency in a campaign book like no other. Chozick comes to understand what drove Clinton, how she accomplished what no woman had before, and why she ultimately failed. Poignant, illuminating, laugh-out-loud funny, Chasing Hillary is a campaign book like never before.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Brotopia, by Emily Chang
“In this powerful exposé, journalist Emily Chang reveals how Silicon Valley got so sexist despite its utopian ideals, why bro culture endures despite decades of companies claiming the moral high ground (Don’t Be Evil! Connect the World!)—and how women are finally starting to speak out and fight back.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Islamic Enlightenment, by Christopher de Bellaigue
“The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise and adapt. Yet in this sweeping narrative and provocative retelling of modern history, Christopher de Bellaigue charts the forgotten story of the Islamic Enlightenment – the social movements, reforms and revolutions that transfigured the Middle East.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Festive fiction: The twelve authors of Christmas

The Christmas Surprise book cover

Whether you love the sound of sleigh bells and the taste of falling snow slowly melting on your tongue, or if you are more a bah, humbug type about Christmas, it is good to have a festive read over the festive season. And in this special ‘who writes like…’ promotion we have selected authors that will fit in with both sides of the Christmas season. So sit back, break open the mince pies, throw another yuletide log on the fire and luxuriate into a fantastic book.

Syndetics book coverRivers of London / Ben Aaronovitch
“My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Ben Aaronovitch? Douglas Adams, Jim Butcher, Benedict Jacka, Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire.

Syndetics book coverThe fallen / David Baldacci.
“Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped. Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene. Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like David Baldacci? Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Brad Meltzer, James Patterson, Stuart Woods.

Syndetics book coverLook to windward / Iain M. Banks.
“It was one of the less glorious incidents of the Idiran wars that led to the destruction of two suns and the billions of lives they supported. Now, eight hundred years later, the light from the first of those ancient deaths has reached the Culture’s Masaq’ Orbital. For the Hub Mind, overseer of the massive bracelet world, its arrival is particularly poignant. But it may still be eclipsed by events from the Culture’s more recent past.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Iain M. Banks? Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Richard K. Morgan, Alastair Reynolds, Vernor Vinge.

Syndetics book coverDeath of a dreamer: a Hamish McBeth mystery / M.C. Beaton.
“Occasionally, the rugged landscape of Scotland attracts dreamers who move north, wrapped in fantasies of enjoying the simple life. They usually don’t last, defeated by the climate or by inhospitable locals. But it looks as if Effie Garrand has come to stay. When local constable Hamish Macbeth calls on her, he is amazed to find the small woman still in residence after a particularly hideous winter. Unfortunately, Effie is also quite delusional, having convinced herself and everyone else that local artist Jock Fleming is in love with her, and that they are engaged. After a huge fight with Jock, Effie is found in the mountains, poisoned by hemlock. Now it’s up to Hamish Macbeth to find the dreamers killer before any more nightmares unfold.” (Syndetics summary)

Who writes like M.C. Beaton? Lilian Jackson Braun, Chris Cavender, Mary Daheim, Carole Nelson Douglas, Monica Ferris.

Syndetics book coverHeir to the shadows / Anne Bishop.
“The Blood have waited centuries for the coming of Witch, the living embodiment of magic. But Jaenelle, the young girl singled out by prophecy, is haunted by the cruel battles fought over her–for not all the Blood await her as their Savior. Some dismiss her as a myth. Some refuse to believe. And still others look forward to using her, making her a pawn to their shadowy devices. Nothing, however, can deflect her from her destiny–and the day of reckoning looms near. When her memories return. When her magic matures. When she is forced to accept her fate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Anne Bishop? Jacqueline Carey, Gail Carriger, Kate Forsyth, Laurell K. Hamilton, J.R. Ward.

Syndetics book coverThe Christmas surprise / Jenny Colgan.
“Includes mouth-watering recipes Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little sweetshop she owns and runs. But when fate strikes Rosie and her boyfriend, Stephen, a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it’s going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their Lipton friends to hold them together. After all, don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Jenny Colgan? Abby Clements, Debbie Macomber, Milly Johnson, Susan Mallery, Anne Perry.

Syndetics book coverThe woman in the window / A.J. Finn.
“It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening… Anna Fox lives alone — a recluse in her New York City home, drinking too much wine, watching old movies… and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move next door: a father, a mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble — and its shocking secrets are laid bare.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like A.J. Finn? Megan Abbott, Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn.

Syndetics book coverDaughter of the forest / Juliet Marillier.
“Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac. But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Juliet Marillier? Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robin Hobb, Russell Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Knox, Helen Lowe.

Syndetics book coverThe Denniston rose / Jenny Pattrick.
“The bleak coal-mining of Denniston, isolated high on a plateau above the West Coast, is a place that makes or breaks those who live there. Into this chaotic community come five-year-old Rose and her mother. Set in the 1880s, this is the story of a spirited child who remains a survivor.” (Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Jenny Pattrick? Catherine Cookson, Rosamunde Pilcher, Adriana Trigiani, Mary Wesley, Winston Graham.

Syndetics book coverJitterbug perfume / Tom Robbins.
“This story begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time). It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.” (Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Tom Robbins? Paul Auster, Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Letham, David Sedaris, Haruki Murakami.

Syndetics book coverShelter in place / Nora Roberts.
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. Then the shooters arrived.The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Nora Roberts? Susan Mallery, Julie Garwood, Sandra Brown, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Lowell.

Syndetics book coverA spool of blue thread: a novel / Anne Tyler.
“‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…’ This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of special-ness. 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. A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Who writes like Anne Tyler? Annie Proulx, Sally Rooney, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Donna Tartt. 

Stuff your eyes with wonder: Our Science Fiction showcase picks

Foundryside book cover

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953).
This month’s science fiction showcase picks are full of worlds of wonder and feasts of treats, including sumptuous, gorgeous, beautifully-illustrated new editions of both Ursula K. Le Guin’s seminal Wizard of Earthsea series and Frank Herbert’s Dune Trilogy, as well as a new work by one of the science fiction world’s most beloved writers Mercedes Lackey called The Bartered Brides!

Syndetics book coverThe books of Earthsea / Ursula K. Le Guin ; illustrated by Charles Vess.
“Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature–they have received prestigious accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike. Now for the first time ever, they’re all together in one volume–including the early short stories, Le Guin’s Earthsea Revisioned Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story, never before printed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bartered brides / Mercedes Lackey.
“The threat of Moriarty is gone – but so is Sherlock Holmes. Even as they mourn the loss of their friend and colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty’s network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hire the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great Dune trilogy / Frank Herbert.
“Herbert’s evocative, epic tales are set on the desert planet Arrakis, the focus for a complex political and military struggle with galaxy-wide repercussions. Arrakis is the source of spice, a mind-enhancing drug which makes interstellar travel possible; it is the most valuable substance in the galaxy. When Duke Atreides and his family take up court there, they fall into a trap set by the Duke’s bitter rival, Baron Harkonnen. The Duke is poisoned, but his wife and her son Paul escape to the vast and arid deserts of Arrakis, which have given the planet its nickname of Dune.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe consuming fire / John Scalzi.
The Interdependency–humanity’s interstellar empire–is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded. Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth–or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMagefall / Stephen Aryan.
“When magic is feared, the mages must learn to fight for themselves in this powerful sequel to the standout epic fantasy Mageborn by Stephen Aryan.
The land is in turmoil. Mages are hunted by men and gods alike. Even their own kind betray each other in the name of safety and protection.
With their last refuge fallen, two young mages must conspire against a god to show the world that their abilities aren’t a curse; they are the only way to ensure lasting peace.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFoundryside : a novel / Robert Jackson Bennett.Foundryside: A Novel
“In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself. Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle. But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. To have a chance at surviving–and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way–Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little shop of found things / Paula Brackston.
“Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past. When she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more. It is while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century where it has its origins. And there she discovers there is an injustice in its history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Standouts on the New Non-Fiction bookstand!

Voyages: From Tongan Villages To American Suburbs book cover

Introducing Flint & Steel, published by Maxim Institute. Maxim Institute is an independent research and public policy think tank, working to promote the dignity of every person in New Zealand. These two volumes are on sustainability, and on community: On cultivating community. & On sustainability and what we leave behind.

Mountains to sea : solving New Zealand’s freshwater crisis / edited by Mike Joy.
“The state of New Zealand’s freshwater has become an urgent public issue in recent years. From across the political spectrum, concern is growing about the pollution of New Zealand’s rivers and streams. We all know they need fixing. But how do we do it? In Mountains to Sea, leading ecologist Mike Joy teams up with thinkers from all walks of life to consider how we can solve New Zealand’s freshwater crisis. The book covers a wide range of topics, including food production, public health, economics and Maori narratives of water.” (Syndetics summary)

Freeman’s : power
“From the voices of protestors to the encroachment of a new fascism, everywhere we look power is revealed. This thought-provoking issue of the acclaimed literary annual Freeman’s explores who gets to say what matters in a time of social upheaval.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVoyages : from Tongan villages to American suburbs / Cathy A. Small.
“In Voyages, Cathy A. Small offers a view of the changes in migration, globalization, and ethnographic fieldwork over three decades. The second edition adds fresh descriptions and narratives in three new chapters based on two more visits to Tonga and California in 2010. The author (whose role after thirty years of fieldwork is both ethnographer and family member) reintroduces the reader to four sisters in the same family-two who migrated to the United States and two who remained in Tonga-and reveals what has unfolded in their lives in the fifteen years since the first edition was written.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Have you eaten grandma? / Brandreth, Gyles Daubeney
“Our language is changing, literacy levels are dwindling and our grasp of grammar is at crisis point, so you wouldn’t be alone in thinking WTF! But do not despair, Have You Eaten Grandma? is here: Gyles Brandreth’s definitive (and hilarious) guide to punctuation, spelling, and good English for the twenty-first century.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to Tell Fate from Destiny : And Other Skillful Word Distinctions
“If you have trouble distinguishing the verbs imitate and emulate, the relative pronouns that and which, or the adjectives pliant, pliable, and supple, never fear– How to Tell Fate from Destiny is here to help! With more than 500 headwords, the book is replete with advice on how to differentiate commonly confused words and steer clear of verbal trouble.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Future of Capitalism : Facing the New Anxieties
“Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of the United States and other Western societies: thriving cities versus rural counties, the highly skilled elite versus the less educated, wealthy versus developing countries. As these divides deepen, we have lost the sense of ethical obligation to others that was crucial to the rise of post-war social democracy. So far these rifts have been answered only by the revivalist ideologies of populism and socialism, leading to the seismic upheavals of Trump, Brexit, and the return of the far-right in Germany. We have heard many critiques of capitalism but no one has laid out a realistic way to fix it, until now.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeriously Curious : The Facts and Figures That Turn Our World Upside Down
“…brings together the very best explainers and charts, written and created by top journalists to help us understand such brain-bending conundrums as why Swedes overpay their taxes, why America still allows child marriage, and what the link is between avocados and crime. The Economist explains and its online sister, the Daily Chart, are the two most popular blogs on The Economist’s website. Together, these online giants provide answers to the kinds of questions, quirky and serious, that may be puzzling anyone interested in the world around them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe crypto book : how to invest safely in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies / Siam Kidd.
“Blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies it enables are being described by some people as the biggest thing since the internet, but very few people understand it, or the opportunities it brings. Enter this down-to-earth guide to understanding what cryptocurrencies are, why it matters, and how to make money from them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI think, therefore I draw : understanding philosophy through cartoons / Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein.
“Covering topics as diverse as religion, gender, knowledge, morality, and the meaning of life (or the lack thereof), I Think, Therefore I Draw gives a thorough introduction to all of the major debates in philosophy through history and the present. And since they explain with the help of a selection of some of the smartest cartoonists working today, you’ll breeze through these weighty topics as you guffaw and slap your knee.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGlobalization and its discontents revisited : anti-globalization in the era of Trump / Joseph E. Stiglitz.
“In this hugely controversial book, the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics argues that though globalization should be a powerful force for good, it has been badly mishandled by the West (especially its lead institutions, the World Bank and the IMF), and that the anti-globalizing protestors have much to say that we should listen to. Coming from a figure of Stiglitz’s background and authority, this is an explosive message which will change the way we regard modern global politics.” (Syndetics summary)

November’s newest DVDs

This Is Us S2 DVD cover

New DVDs added in November include the sequel to drug war thriller Sicario; spy drama with Beirut; the real-life story of Mary Shelley, and the creation of her immortal monster, and the poignant drama of a woman in her eighties planning a gruelling climbing trip the Scottish Highlands. New TV includes the 2nd seasons of This is Us & The Expanse, and the gripping re-imagining of the iconic Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Sicario. Day of the soldado.
“In the drug war, there are no rules, and as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border, federal agent Matt Graver calls on the mysterious Alejandro, whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin. Alejandro kidnaps the kingpins daughter to inflame the conflict. But when the girl is seen as collateral damage, her fate will come between the two men.” (Syndetics summary)

Mary Shelley.
“The real-life story of Mary Shelley, and the creation of her immortal monster, is nearly as fantastical as her fiction. Raised by a renowned philosopher father in eighteenth-century London, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is a teenage dreamer determined to make her mark on the world, when she meets the dashing and brilliant poet Percy Shelley. So begins a torrid, bohemian love affair marked by both passion and personal tragedy that will transform Mary and fuel the writing of her Gothic masterwork, Frankenstein.” (Syndetics summary)

The spy who dumped me.
“Audrey and Morgan are two fairly ordinary 30-year-old women who live in Los Angeles. They are best friends, and they always stick together, so when Audrey discovers her ex-boyfriend is an international spy, Morgan joins her on an unlikely adventure. Together, the two of them must try to save him from assassins and help to save the world from a dangerous threat. As they travel around the globe with killers hot on their heels, they will discover hidden reserves of strength and cleverness that neither one of them knew they had.” (Syndetics summary)

Edie.
“Edith Moore (Edie) is a bitter, gruff woman in her eighties. In the months following her husband George’s death, Edie’s strained relationship with her daughter Nancy begins to worsen. The question over Edie’s future looms large; while Edie tries hard to convince Nancy she can manage fine by herself, Nancy is making plans for her mother to move into a retirement home. Edie feels like it is the beginning of the end. It seems she will die with all the regrets of her past intact and one regret haunts her most of all. When Edie was married, her father planned a climbing trip for them in the Scottish Highlands. Edie yearned to go, but her husband George, a difficult and controlling man, made her stay at home, nearly thirty years later, Edie decides to make the trip herself alone.” (Syndetics summary)

Picnic at Hanging Rock.
“A gripping re-imagining of the iconic Australian novel that plunges us into the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine’s Day, 1900. Exploring the event’s far-reaching impact on the students and staff of Appleyard College and its enigmatic headmistress, theories soon abound, paranoia sets in and long-held secrets surface, as the Rock exerts its strange power and the dark stain of the unsolved mystery continues to spread.” (Syndetics summary)

This is us. The complete second season.
“Chronicles the Pearson family across the decades, from Jack and Rebecca as young parents in the 1980s to their 37 year old kids Kevin, Kate and Randall searching for love and fulfilment in the present day. This grounded, life affirming drama reveals how the tiniest events in people’s lives impact who they become, and how the connections they share with each other can transcend time, distance, and even death.” (Syndetics summary)

The expanse. Season two.
“A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth’s rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.” (Syndetics summary)

Beirut.
“Caught in the crossfires of civil war, CIA operatives must send a former US diplomat to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind.” (Syndetics summary)

Presidents Past and Present: History Picks for December

How To Behave Badly in Elizabethan England book cover

This month’s history picks have a healthy collection of U.S Presidents, starting early with Joseph Ellis’s American Dialogue: The Founders and Us taking a look at the founding fathers of the country. Skipping ahead to the present day, we’ve got the last two Commanders in Chief with Jeanne Marie Laskas’s To Obama, and Greg Miller’s The Apprentice. If you need something a little more lowbrow than the high office of President, maybe try Ruth Goodman’s How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England, or take a left turn into a different kind of society and have a look at Our Woman in Havana by Sarah Rainsford, covering life in modern Cuba.

Syndetics book coverAmerican dialogue : the founders and us / Joseph J. Ellis.
“What would the founders think? We live in a divided America that is currently incapable of sustained argument and is feeling unsure of its destiny. Joseph J. Ellis explores anew four of our most prominent founders, in each instance searching for patterns and principles that bring the lamp of experience to our contemporary dilemmas. Ellis reminds us that the founders’ greatest legacy lies not in providing political answers but in helping us find a better way to frame the question.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo Obama : with love, joy, anger, and hope / Jeanne Marie Laskas.
“Every evening for eight years, at his request, President Obama was given ten handpicked letters written by ordinary American citizens from his Office of Presidential Correspondence. He was the first president to interact daily with constituent mail and to archive it in its entirety. In To Obama, Jeanne Marie Laskas interviews Obama, the letter writers themselves, and the White House staff who sifted through the powerful, moving, and incredibly intimate narrative of America during the Obama years.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe origins of the Anglo-Saxons : decoding the ancestry of the English / Jean Manco.
“What do we really know of English ancestry? Combining results from cutting-edge DNA technology with new research from archaeology and linguistics, The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons reveals the adventurous journey undertaken by some of our ancestors long before a word of English was spoken. Starting with the deeper origins of the Germani and how they fit into the greater family of Indo-European speakers and ending with the language of Shakespeare, taken to the first British colony in America, this chronicle takes a wider scope than previous histories.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to behave badly in Elizabethan England : a guide for knaves, fools, harlots, cuckolds, drunkards, liars, thieves, and braggarts / Ruth Goodman.
“Every age and social strata has its bad eggs, rule-breakers, and nose-thumbers. As acclaimed popular historian Ruth Goodman shows in her madcap chronicle, Elizabethan England was particularly rank with troublemakers, from snooty needlers who took aim with a cutting “thee,” to lowbrow drunkards with revolting table manners. Goodman draws on advice manuals, court cases, and sermons to offer this colorfully crude portrait of offenses most foul.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe allies : Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and the unlikely alliance that won World War II / Winston Groom.
“By the end of World War II, 59 nations were arrayed against the axis powers, but three great Allied leaders–Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin–had emerged to control the war in Europe and the Pacific. Vastly different in upbringing and political beliefs, they were not always in agreement or on good terms. But in the end, these three men presided over a new world order. Best-selling historian Winston Groom returns to tell one of the biggest stories of the 20th century.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Oxford Illustrated history of the Holy Land / edited by Robert G. Hoyland, H.G.M. Williamson.
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Holy Land covers the 3,000 years which saw the rise of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and relates the familiar stories of the sacred texts with the fruits of modern scholarship. Beginning with the origins of the people who became the Israel of the Bible, it follows the course of the ensuing millennia down to the time when the Ottoman Empire succumbed to British and French rule at the end of the First World War.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOur woman in Havana : reporting Castro’s Cuba / Sarah Rainsford.
“From inside this tightly controlled one-party state, Sarah Rainsford, the BBC’s ‘woman in Havana’ for three years, reports on lives shaped by Fidel Castro’s giant social experiment and how the nation feels as the six-decade rule of the Castros comes to an end. Seeking a window into pre-revolutionary Cuba, she searches for the ghosts of Graham Greene’s Havana and the paths walked by other visiting writers (chiefly Ruby Hart Phillips, who covered Cuba from 1937-1961 for the New York Times).” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCarrington : an honourable man / Christopher Lee.
“Lord Carrington was Margaret Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary when the Argentinians invaded the Falklands in 1982. Absent in Israel on the eve of the invasion, he promptly resigned since it was, he said, a point of honour. The descendant of a famous banking family, Carrington served as a minister in every Conservative government from Churchill to Thatcher. In this full biography, authorised but not read by the subject, author of This Sceptred Isle Christopher Lee offers a fascinating portrait of a Tory icon whose career is a window into post-war British politics and life as a politician and diplomat.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe apprentice : Trump, Russia and the subversion of American democracy / Greg Miller.
“From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post national security reporter Greg Miller, the truth about Vladimir Putin’s covert attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win the presidency, its possible connections to the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller’s ensuing investigation of the president and those close to him, and the mystery of Trump’s steadfast allegiance to Putin.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)