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Thank you to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Wellington

Korean launch

On Wednesday 28th January, Ambassador Kim Hae-yong, from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Wellington, launched and presented to Her Worship the Mayor Celia Wade-Brown a significant expansion to the Central Library’s Korean collection. Her Worship acknowledged the generous donation and gave a speech of thanks to His Excellency and Embassy staff who had made this possible.

The Korean corner, the first of its kind in Oceania, includes two customer PCs, DVDs and k-pop music CDs as well as books which cover a wide range of topics, including learning Korean. Most items will be shelved on the First Floor of the Central Library, although some English language items e.g. Korean travel guides or history books, will be with the other English books on the same topic.

Launch of Korean corner on 28th January 2015
From left : Jane Hill, Community Networks Group Manager, Her Worship the Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, and His Excellency Ambassador Kim Hae-yong at the opening ceremony on 28th January 2015.

Kerry’s Fiction Picks

Three books with animals in the title and with animals a feature of the stories. Something a bit different I know, but I’m trying to have a new theme each week – ha ha!

Syndetics book coverWolf winter
This is a new kind of Scandi-lit!  It is the debut novel for Swedish author Cecilia Ekback. Set in 1717 the story is part historical, part mystical, part mystery and quite dark, offering a glimpse into life during this time peiod. It follows Maija and her family as they move from Finland to Swedish Lapland, a pretty harsh environment. One day Maija’s daughter discovers a mutilated dead body. When locals decide that he was killed by bears or wolves, Maija feels otherwise and sets out to find the murderer, uncovering all kinds of strange secrets about her new home. Library Journal says “the novel will appeal to readers who like their historical fiction dark and atmospheric, or mystery fans who are open to mysticism and unconventional sleuths” and they liken it to Eowyn Ivey’s The snow child.

Syndetics book coverThe tusk that did the damage / by Tania James.
Amazon calls this book “a tour de force set in South India that plumbs the moral complexities of the ivory trade through the eyes of a poacher, a documentary filmmaker, and, in a feat of audacious imagination, an infamous elephant known as the Gravedigger.” And it is truly unique in subject matter and voice. It’s about an elephant who who is sold by poachers to a circus. He escapes and rampages through the countryside, killing peole and burying them (hence the name!). The other storylines focus on Manu, the young poacher, and Emma, who is making a documentary about a local vet. All three tie together in the tragic ending. A really different story about politics, conservation and morals.

Syndetics book coverNot forgetting the whale
This is about a young man, Joe Haak, who is attempting to escape the City of London and the imminent collapse of civilisation, predicted by a computer program he designed. Joe washes up on the shore of small village in Cornwell and is welcomed into the town by the locals. They begin to realise he is on the run and he tries to convince them to save the village from ‘the end’.  (Meanwhile, a mysterious whale lurks in the harbour).  Described as unputdownable, “intimate, funny and deeply moving…for fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Rosie Project(Amazon).

Some titles also worth a mention (but not featuring any animals as far as I can tell):Syndetics book cover Syndetics book cover Syndetics book cover

New classical music additions

An assorted box of chocolates this week: orchestral, chamber, solo instrumental, and an opera.

ClassicalrecentJan15b1Symphony No. 9, Philip Glass. Performed by the Bruckner Orchester Linz, Dennis Russell Davies, conductor.

“Composed on commission from the Bruckner Orchester Linz, Carnegie Hall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philip Glass’ Ninth Symphony receives its world premiere here on a recording from Orange Mountain Music. Written for large symphony orchestra with expanded brass and percussion, Glass’ three-movement Symphony No.9 received its world premiere in Linz Austria on New Year’s Day 2012…” (amazon.com)

ClassicalrecentJan15b2String Quartets, Op. 20, Haydn. Performed by the Doric String Quartet.

“The Doric String Quartet, one of the finest young chamber ensembles in the world today, present the first volume in their Haydn series, the six great Op. 20 Quartets (1772), each one a unique masterpiece. This opus introduced compositional techniques that radically and permanently transformed the genre. As well as having already produced a string of acclaimed Chandos recordings, the quartet has been widely praised for its live performances of Haydns works. The Sunday Telegraph wrote that Haydn and the Doric are a perfect match…terrific panache and perception.” (amazon.com)

ClassicalrecentJan15b3Novelletten, Nachtstücke, and Romanze in F sharp major, Schumann. Performed by Danny Driver.

“On this album Danny Driver brings his impeccable pianism, consummate style and imagination to Schumann’s Novelletten and Nachtstucke, less wellknown sets from his extraordinary output for the piano. Schumann wrote Nachtstucke upon the death of his brother, and would have entitled it Corpse Fantasia were it not for Clara’s intervention. The eight pieces of the Novelletten form what is at once the largest and the least known among Schumann’s major piano cycles.” (amazon.com)

ClassicalrecentJan15b4Iolanta, Tchaikovsky, featuring Anna Netrebko.

“Anna Netrebko performs Iolanta, title role of one of Tchaikovsky’s most passionate, evocative scores and one of opera’s most enigmatic figures. She has made this character her own and has dedicated herself to championing this under-appreciated work. Acclaimed performances in Baden-Baden and Salzburg have opened the eyes of critics and opera fans to Iolanta’s captivating blend of romance and mysticism. Set in 15th Century France, the piece tells the story of Iolanta, the blind daughter of King Rene, who, through a dramatic trial of love and faith, achieves not only sight but spiritual transcendence. In this live recording, maestro Emmanuel Villaume, with whom Netrebko collaborated on the successful Souvenirs album, leads a stellar cast comprising a number of Russia’s biggest opera stars (Markov, Skorokhodov, Kowaljow)…” (amazon.com)

Coming soon: Mendelssohn in Birmingham, volume 3, a memorial concert for Claudio Abbado, and volume 1 of Beethoven’s complete string quartets, performed by the Elias String Quartet.

Something to look forward to – Biography picks January 2015

One of the great determinants of happiness is having something to look forward to. It cheers us along life’s rocky road and offers a beacon of hope in sometimes barren times.
This month we feature two goodies to come – Antonia Fraser, biographer of so many great historical figures, has now chosen to tell her own fascinating story. Alexandra Fuller, author of several popular biographical works set in Africa (Don’t let’s go to the dogs tonight, Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness) is now telling us what happened next in her own life – a true coming-of age memoir with which many readers will identify. Another cause for celebration this month is the re-issue of Betty Macdonald’s timeless comic classic The egg and I - something which will lift the most jaded of spirits!

Syndetics book coverTibetan peach pie : a true account of an imaginative life / Tom Robbins.
“Legendary novelist, American icon, and author of the international bestseller Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Tom Robbins’s zany romp through his wild life and times. Tom Robbins is an American institution. For over forty years, his warm, wise, and wonderfully weird novels such as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Another Roadside Attraction, and Jitterbug Perfume have entranced readers the world over.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOur time of day : my life with Corin Redgrave / Kika Markham.
“Actors Kika Markham and Corin Redgrave were married for 25 happy, passionate and turbulent years. They shared their love of acting, family and left-wing activist politics with ceaseless energy and commitment, recording their thoughts and feelings in personal diaries. Each wrote of the other with sometimes brutal honesty and deep insight into the human heart and psyche. Kika Markham draws this poignant account of their marriage from those intimate diaries.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverTorvill and Dean : our life on ice : the autobiography / [Jayne] Torvill and [Christopher] Dean.
“When Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean collapsed to the ice at the climax of their routine to Bolero in the 1984 Winter Olympics, the judges could find no fault, awarding them 12 maximum scores of 6.0, while 24 million viewers watching at home in Britain simply looked on in amazement. Suddenly, we were all experts in figure skating, and we wanted to know more about the couple at the heart of it all. Despite intense interest in them, Torvill & Dean kept their lives private.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMāori boy : a memoir of childhood / Witi Ihimaera.
“This is the first volume of Witi Ihimaera’s enthralling memoir, packed with stories from the formative years of this much-loved writer. Witi Ihimaera is a consummate storyteller – one critic calling him one of our ‘finest and most memorable’. Some of his best stories, however, are about his own life. This honest, stirring work tells of the family and community into which Ihimaera was born and of his early life in rural New Zealand.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lives of the famous and the infamous : everything you need to know about everyone who mattered / The Week ; compiled and edited by Steve Tribe.
“Read about the man who convinced Einstein there was a God, the newspaper publisher who brought down a president and the code-cracking genius who helped foil the Nazis, and remember the lives of those that created the extraordinary moments in our modern history. Based on the obituaries that appear in every issue of The Week, here is a book that brings together the famous and infamous figures of our generation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDon’t give up, don’t give in : lessons from an extraordinary man / Louis Zamperini and David Rensin.
“Louis Zamperini has lived one of the most amazing lives imaginable. Zamperini was an American Olympic athlete before serving in the Second World War. During the war his plane was shot down, leaving him stranded on a life raft in the middle of the ocean for 47 days. He survived and was rescued by Japanese forces, only to be imprisoned and tortured in a POW camp. Amazingly, Louis survived this ordeal too and went on to help others.” (Global Books summary)

And two good ones to look forward to:

Syndetics book coverMy history: a memoir of growing up
“Antonia Fraser’s memoir describes growing up in the 1930s and 1940s but its real concern is with her growing love of History. The fascination began as a child – and developed into an enduring passion; as she writes, ‘for me, the study of History has always been an essential part of the enjoyment of life’.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLeaving before the rains come
“In 1992 Alexandra Fuller embarked on a new journey, into a long, tempestuous marriage to Charlie Ross, the love of her life. In this frank, personal memoir, a sequel to Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight, she charts their 20 years together, from the brutal beauty of the Zambezi to the mountains of Wyoming – the new adventures, the unexplored paths, the insurmountable obstacles and the many signals that they missed along the way.” (Global Books summary)

And an oldie but a goodie, reissued:

Syndetics book coverThe egg and I / Betty MacDonald.
“When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall–through chaos and catastrophe–this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humour.” (Global Books summary)

Choose your favourite ‘Book on CD’ title to celebrate the start of 2015

Enjoy listening to works of popular authors such as Margaret Atwood, Eleanor Catton and more, beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers.

Syndetics book coverLeaving time / Jodi Picoult.
“For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe luminaries [sound recording] / Eleanor Catton.
“It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMalice [sound recording] / Keigo Higashino ; [translated by Alexander O. Smith].
“Acclaimed bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found brutally murdered in his home on the night before he’s planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver. His body is found in his office, a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. Or so it seems. At the crime scene, Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga recognizes Hidaka’s best friend, Osamu Nonoguchi. Years ago when they were both teachers, they were colleagues at the same public school.” (Syndetics summary)

Book cover from SyndeticsThe handmaid’s tale / Margaret Atwood.
“Margaret Atwood presents a chilling dystopic novel set in the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, after a radical theocratic revolution. In a time of declining birthrates, fertile women are dispersed to high-ranking white men as baby-making handmaids. If a handmaid cannot reproduce, she is exiled to the Colonies, an uber-polluted wasteland. One of these handmaids, Offred, not only remembers her life before the revolution, but is determined to reclaim it.”
(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe invention of wings [sound recording] / Sue Monk Kidd.
“Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYou should have known [sound recording] / Jean Hanff Korelitz.
“Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe best of me / Nicholas Sparks.
“In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths. Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: “Can love truly rewrite the past?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPersonal / Lee Child.
“Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him.” (Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for January

Novels set in 14th century Germany to modern day England, from Algeria to America with characters ranging from spies to mathematicians, ex-marines to librarians, this selection on new Contemporary fiction has something for every reader.

Syndetics book coverThere must be some mistake : a novel / Frederick Barthelme.
“Wallace Webster, a fifty-something commercial artist laid off from his firm, aimlessly spends his time in his Texas condo development surfing the Internet, watching Scandinavian crime dramas, and hanging around with a bevy of women, including Chantal, a woman with a history; his college-age daughter, Morgan; and his thirty-something former coworker Jilly. Wallace’s relationship with Jilly is nonsexual and undefined, though there seems to be a potential that Wallace is unwilling or unable to pursue. A series of seemingly unconnected deaths and other bizarre events begin to rock the development as Wallace finds it increasingly difficult to juggle his relationships, especially when his ex-wife, Diane, and Jilly’s ex-husband, Cal, become involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGutenberg’s apprentice : a novel / Alix Christie.
“This debut novel is set in the cathedral city of fifteenth-century Mainz, and dramatizes the creation of the Gutenberg Bible. When scribe Peter Schoeffer gets called home from Paris by his foster father, Johann Fust, to be trained by the headstrong, brilliant Johann Gutenberg in the groundbreaking art of movable-type printing, he is resentful and apprehensive. As Peter grapples with new ideas, is manuscript copying an act of spiritual communion, is the mass production of letters blasphemous or an efficient way of spreading God’s word?, tensions flare between the wealthy archbishop and the reform-minded pope. As local guilds rise in power, Gutenberg establishes a secret workshop where he, Peter, and Fust, his financial backer, become an unstoppable trio.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSanctuary / by Robert Edric.
“Haworth, West Yorkshire, 1848. Branwell Brontë, un-exhibited artist, unacknowledged writer, sacked railwayman, disgraced tutor and spurned lover, finds himself unhappily back in Haworth Parsonage, to face the crushing disappointment of his father and his three sisters, whose own pseudonymous successes, allegedly kept secret from him, are only just becoming apparent.
With his health failing rapidly, his literary aspirations abandoned and his once loyal circle of friends shrinking fast, Branwell lives in a world of secrets, conspiracies and seemingly endless betrayals. To restore himself to a creative and fulfilling existence in the face of an increasingly claustrophobic environment, he returns to the drugs, alcohol and the morbid self-delusion which have already played such a large part in his unhappy life.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe goddess of small victories / Yannick Grannec ; translated from the French by Willard Wood.
“Acclaimed as the genius who strolled the streets of Princeton arm-in-arm with Einstein, Kurt Godel here appears as the enigmatic shadow of his irascible widow, Adele the feistiest resident at a Pennsylvania retirement home. Anna Roth is an emissary for Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, she tries to pry from Adele the trove of papers left behind by her late husband. Though loath to part with those papers, Adele shares her tangled memories of how she improbably traded her role as sexy dancer in a Vienna cabaret for that of plucky wife of a distinguished mathematician fleeing Nazi Europe for America. An outsider both to her husband’s rarefied intellectual pursuits and to his privileged social circle, Adele still recognizes Kurt’s revolutionary incompleteness theorems as portents of a cultural crisis in reason and certainty.”
(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe assassination option : a clandestine operations novel / W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV.
“In 2014′s Top Secret, the first in the Clandestine Operations series, was given a military intelligence assignment in Germany: overseeing the relocation of German officers to Argentina after WWII. In this engaging sequel, Capt. James Cronley is now running the European division of the Directorate of Central Intelligence, now known as the CIA. A Russian intelligence agent, Col. Sergei Likharev of the NKGB, who was turned and taken to Argentina, and James Cronley has to work out how to get his family out of Russia and reunited with Likharev.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA dog’s life / by Michael Holroyd.
“Eustace is undisputed patriarch of the Farquhar family. That is, he would be if everyone stopped mumbling, let him get on with his shaving and find his way downstairs. It’s not Henry’s fault that he snores and that his marriage has collapsed. Or that he failed to get into the cricket team. But he has made up for it and is now a faster motorist than ever he was bowler. He is a good father too and one day they will thank him. But what will happen to them all if the dog dies? A devastating postscript follows the story.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrust no one / Jayne Ann Krentz.
“After Grace Elland’s boss, Sprague Witherspoon, doesn’t turn up for work, his worried staff deputizes her to visit his home, where she discovers his apparent suicide. Grace is saddened by the loss of the motivational guru and shaken by memories of a terrible experience when she was 16 and a murderer trapped her in a basement with his wife’s corpse. Her nightmares begin again when Sprague starts sending her emails from beyond the grave. Julius Arkwright, a successful businessman who’s eager to help Grace any way he can: seduce her, fix her career, and help her figure out the link between Sprague’s death and the earlier killing.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe strange library / Haruki Murakami.
“A boy seeks out a book at the city library, only to be trapped there by a cruel old man and forced to read for days, stuffing knowledge into his brain, which the old man intends to slurp up. This is a macabre fairy tale-like story as each object and character begins to take on a deeply symbolic quality, captivated in the intermittent full-page illustrations.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHush / Karen Robards.Hush
“When Riley Cowan finds her estranged husband Jeff dead in his palatial home, she’s sure it’s no coincidence. The police rule it a suicide, but Riley thinks someone’s out for blood, specifically someone Jeff’s father ripped off in one of the biggest financial fraud cases of all time. She suspects that someone is trying to send a message to Jeff’s father: Tell me where the money is, or everyone you care about will die. Riley’s in-laws might be billionaires, but she’s afraid that not even their dirty money can protect her from an irate investor who will stop at nothing to get his hands on his misappropriated cash. Finn Bradley, Philly-based FBI agent and Riley’s love interest from way back agrees to help Riley, and the two reignite sparks they both thought were extinguished long ago. But can they discover the killer’s identity in time, before he resurfaces–and strikes again?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHarraga / Boualem Sansal ; translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
“Harraga means “path burner” in Arabic and is the name given to hopeful emigrants who burn bridges and identification papers to seek better lives overseas. Lamia, a pediatrician and “confirmed spinster” at 35, is a vocal critic of the strictures of Islam and the prevailing political regime. One day, she opens the door of her rickety old house in Rampe Valée to Chérifa, an unmarried, pregnant, charismatic teen with perfume that penetrates the air like radiation. Both are path burners of a different kind, with their open defiance of religious and cultural norms. Chérifa claims to know Lamia’s missing harraga brother, Sofiane, and the two women strike up a warm yet precarious friendship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

TV series exclusives: Lewis, Judge John Deed, The Hollow Crown & more – The WCL Ratings Project #7

With this month’s update of new DVDs enabled by our Ratings Project we have the final season of Judge John Deed, the latest season of Lewis, new Australian comedy Please Like Me, acclaimed Shakespearean drama with The Hollow Crown, along with some other comedy & crime favourites.

Cover imageJudge John Deed. Series six.
“In the sixth and final season of the BBC series, Judge John Deed (George Gently’s Martin Shaw) takes on complementary cases involving Iraq War veterans. For the first two-part episode, “War Crimes,” he travels to the Hague’s International Criminal Court to decide the fate of Private Clark (Neil Grainger), whose attempt to stop a terrorist caused the deaths of 11 civilians. In the second episode, “Evidence of Harm,” Deed returns home for a case concerning a soldier suffering neurological damage after a regimen of required vaccinations contributed to two deaths, including his own…Both episodes raise important questions about the way governments and corporations treat those who put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageRuth Rendell mysteries. Inspector Wexford’s Simisola ; Lake of darkness.
“The international best-selling author Ruth Rendell and a raft of stars ensure intrigue and suspense at every turn in these self-contained stories. SIMISOIA: A young Nigerian girl goes missing and shortly afterwards a woman is strangled in her bed. Then another body is found. As the body count increases with the local job centre as the only common link, Wexford’s suspicions fall on a local burglar. LAKE OF DARKNESS: Unassuming accountant, Martin Urban wins a substantial amount of money on the lottery. He is determined to give some of it away to deserving causes but things take a turn for the worse when he meets Francesca, who is not what she seems…” (Publishers description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageRuth Rendell mysteries. Inspector Wexford’s Road rage & Harm done.
“The international best-selling author Ruth Rendell and a raft of stars ensure intrigue and suspense at every turn in these self-contained stories. ROAD RAGE: AN INSPECTOR WEXFORD MYSTERY. A young girl is found brutally murdered in the woods and the investigation team uncovers a connection to a local firm. As Wexford fights for more resources, his own family gets caught up with the events as his wife goes missing. HARM DONE: AN INSPECTOR WEXFORD MYSTERY. A 16-year-old girl goes missing – then returns with an incredible story of kidnapping. Meanwhile, a toddler also goes missing. Wexford delves deeper into the case and the tension explodes into bloody violence…” (Publishers description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageAgatha Christie Poirot. 8.
“Hercule Poirot, the world’s greatest detective, nest-ce pas? Enigmatic, eccentric and extremely intelligent, Hercule Poirot cracks the toughest cases with brainpower alone, endearing himself to thinkers everywhere. Epitomising Agatha Christie’s Poirot, David Suchet stars as the dapper and debonair Belgian detective with an eye for deadly detail, outsmarting both the criminals and his cohorts in and around elegant upper-crust London. Titles include: FIVE LITTLE PIGS, SAD CYPRESS, DEATH ON THE NILE, THE HOLLOW…” (Publishers description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageAgatha Christie Poirot. 9.
“Episodes include: CARDS ON THE TABLE: Poirot joins forces with three other noted sleuths when a murder is committed; MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN: Poirot is pressed into service to help solve the murder of heiress Ruth Kettering; AFTER THE FUNERAL: Poirot is entangled in a dangerous web of wealth, deceit and murderous intent; TAKEN AT THE FLOOD: A 23-year-old widowed for the second time, and a vast inheritance at stake…” (Publishers description from Fishpond.co.au)

Cover imageAgatha Christie Poirot. 12.
“Episodes include: ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER: Poirot is pre-occupied with the strange and gruesome murder, and is joined by his old friend, crime writer Ariadne Oliver who has her own case to solve; THE BIG FOUR; DEAD MAN’S FOLLY: Commissioned to stage a fictional murder, Ariadne Oliver’s intuition tells her a real one is about to happen, but Poirot is unable to stop it even after she warns him; THE LABOURS OF HERCULES; CURTAIN: POIROT’S LAST CASE: Set ten years after the other films, an immobilised Poirot calls on his old friend Captain Hastings for assistance as they return to the scene of their first case, Styles Court, to try to prevent an imminent murder…” (Publishers description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageMonarch of the Glen. The complete series 5-7.
“Monarch of The Glen follows the loves, conflicts and schemes of the MacDonald family, their neighbours and employees in one of the most popular dramas ever screened on British television. As Archie begins to look for a life beyond Glenbogle, along comes Paul, a half-brother the Laird never knew existed. As Golly explains his heritage and the traditions of his new-found Highland background, Paul comes to understand that Glenbogle is worth fighting for especially when Donald MacDonald, Hectors long-lost brother, appears after a forty year absence… For all at Glenbogle, however, a catastrophe is approaching. The estates financial standing becomes increasingly perilous and as creditors and hostile buyers close in, the unthinkable seems inevitable: is this the end of life at Glenbogle for the MacDonald family?…” (Abridged from Publishers description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imagePlease like me. The complete first season.
“Josh’s life is turned upside down when he’s dumped by his girlfriend, finds a weird new boyfriend and has to move back in with his mother after she overdoses on painkillers. Inspired by the award-winning standup comedy of Josh Thomas, PLEASE LIKE ME is a charming and bittersweet comedy/drama about cavoodles, custard tarts, boyfriends and girlfriends. Mostly though, it’s about growing up quickly and realizing that your parents are not heroes, but big dopes with no idea what’s going on – just like you…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imagePlease like me. The complete second season / by Josh Thomas
“After being praised by critics in Australia and the USA, where it was hailed as this falls best new comedy, the award-winning comedy/drama ‘Please Like Me’ is back for a second season, again inspired by the stand-up comedy of Josh Thomas. This season continues to explore the themes of duty, responsibility, family, friendship, normality, mental health, sexuality and death, all through the eyes of a unique twenty-something with low self-esteem, a charming dog, and a preternaturally impressive collection of kitchenware…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe secret of Crickley Hall.
“Joe Ahearne writes and directs this three-part TV adaptation of James Herbert’s ghostly novel. A year after their young son Cabe goes missing without trace, Eve (Suranne Jones) and Gabe (Tom Ellis) Caleigh decide a change of scene would help, and set out with their daughters for what they hope will be the rustic delights of Crickley Hall. Shortly after arriving in the Devonshire village of Devil’s Cleave, however, the family start to experience strange paranormal events, which somehow seem to be linked to the disappearance of their son. As the story continues to unfold, both in the past and the present day, the Caleigh’s soon come to realise that the darkly gothic mansion possesses a secret evil from which they can’t escape…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe code. Season one.
“Stretching from the spectacular red desert of Australia’s outback to the cool corridors of power in Canberra, this series tells the story of two very different brothers who unearth information those at the highest levels of political power will kill to keep secret. Ned and Jesse Banks – one, a young internet journalist, the other a troubled hacker – are gifted a poisoned chalice when a phone video of an outback accident arrives in their inbox. The decision to dig deeper drags the brothers into the darkest heart of politics, and the web of black marketer’s and the international agencies who monitor and manipulate them. The question is just how far those in authority will go to keep their explosive secret safe. And just how far the two brothers will go to reveal the truth…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageMoody and Pegg. The complete first series.
“All six episodes from the first series of the 1970s ITV sitcom starring Judy Cornwell and Derek Waring. Bolton lass Daphne Pegg (Cornwell) and newly-divorced antiques dealer Roland Moody (Waring) both buy the same flat from a dodgy estate agent who absconds with both lots of money, leaving them to battle it out as to who has legal ownership. With all their money gone, the two strangers both move into ‘their’ flat…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageMoody and Pegg. The complete second series.
“Moody and Pegg chronicles the fraught yet occasionally mutually beneficial relationship between two very different people trying to live under the same roof after a rogue estate agent leases the same flat to both of them. Series Two is again scripted by noted screenwriters Julia Jones and Donald Churchill. Disillusioned civil servant Daphne and recently divorced antiques dealer Roland find themselves thrown together once more, following a quarrel that had almost put paid to their unorthodox flat-sharing arrangement. With both their romances having gone sour, they have decided to bury the hatchet. But you can t keep a good hatchet down…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageLewis. Series seven.
“Episodes include: Down Among the Fearful. When psychologist Reuben Beatty is murdered while moonlighting as a psychic Lewis and Hathaway struggle to unpick his baffling double life. The Ramblin’ Boy. Chief Superintendent Martin Cornish goes missing and a recently embalmed body is discovered by an isolated farm track – could there be a link? Hathaway goes on sabbatical and Lewis takes an awkward young constable under his wing. Intelligent Design. After seven years of ducking the question, Lewis and Hobson are embarking on a relationship. Meanwhile an elderly don is murdered on the night of his release from prison…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageSecret state.
“Secret State is a four-part political thriller inspired by Chris Mullin’s novel A Very British Coup, delving into the relationship between a democratically elected government, the military and the markets. In the run up to a general election, an accident on Teesside raises awkward questions about the safety procedures of a US petrochemical company, PetroFex. The Prime Minister claims to have secured a compensation package from them, but on his return from PetroFex HQ, his plane crashes in the Atlantic under mysterious circumstances. Deputy Prime Minister Tom Dawkins (Gabriel Byrne) takes the reins and during his quest to find justice and the truth for the victims on Teesside, he uncovers a conspiracy at the heart of the political system. How will he deal with the powers at play? And can he remain that rare thing: a decent, honest man in politics?…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe hollow crown / by William Shakespeare.
“The latest show to close the gap between the production values of the big screen and television, The Hollow Crown is a sumptuous piece of work, filling the screen with simply glorious visuals, and real period detail. It pulls together and reimagines four of William Shakespeare’s plays: Richard II, Henry V and both parts of Henry IV. The cast boasts the likes of Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart and Tom Hiddleston, acting heavyweights who make much of the already strong material. The end result is something very special indeed. The Hollow Crown is an accessible yet deep look at three different kings and their differences. Of course, that leaves ample room for politics, power struggles, family and conflict, and the sheer ambition of what’s on the screen is refreshing and engrossing.” (Abridged from Amazon.co.uk review)

Kerry’s Fiction Picks

Hi just a quick post today about some new science fiction titles, stand-alone novels and the new instalments in a series.

Syndetics book coverHow to make a friend
The is one of those titles that crosses genres, some mightn’t call it scifi.  It’s about Alice who as an adult suffers a terrible accident which shatters her world and unravels her a bit.  As a child she was terribly lonely and to cope with it Alice invented an imaginary friend Sam.  After her accident Alice starts to feel that loneliness again and starts seeing Sam again.  But this time around is he really imaginary?  Described as “a tense, poignant and intriguing novel about the grasp loneliness can hold over the heart – and the mind… ” (Amazon UK).

Syndetics book coverTouch
Another genre-switcher, called by the Guardian “a masterful literary thriller”.  I can’t tell you too much about it (no-one’s giving anything away), but it’s about a woman who was murdered and as she was dying something strange happened – she developed the ability to jump from body to body, from her own body into her killer’s.  Thus beginning a new life, where others too can swap bodies and where they are trying to evade those unknowns who are out to kill them.  Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb and Kate Griffin and this book has been VERY well reviewed.

Syndetics book coverSword of the North : The Grim Company
This is the second in a new series called The Grim Company, the first in the series is called The grim company (and you can find it here)It’s about a group of anti-heroes and seems to be cast in the same mould as G R R Martin’s Game of Thrones.  These anti-heroes are battling against ruthless lords and rulers and other unknown terrors and the plot sounds too complicated to explain, but definitely an action packed and satisfying read.

Also worth a mention:

Syndetics book cover Syndetics book cover Syndetics book cover

Travel books for January

As well as other delightful (the Kindness Diaries) and interesting (Inside Tracks) Travel books and guides, this month’s selection celebrates travel to the great Southern Continent Antarctica.

Syndetics book coverSpirit of the South / Andris Apse.
“…The South Island of New Zealand is unlike any other place on earth, celebrated for its majestic landscapes, picturesque lakes and rivers, and epic mountain ranges. Spirit of the South, a stunning tribute to the mainland, showcases its visual grandeur like never before – all through the extraordinary scenic photography of Andris Apse. Arguably New Zealand’s most acclaimed landscape photographer, Apse has honed his craft over an illustrious career spanning more than three decades… Complemented by essays from Alison Ballance, Anton Oliver, Fiona Farrell and Kennedy Warne, Spirit of the South’s photography is drawn from a wide body of Apse’s work.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInside Tracks / created by Rick Smolan.
Inside Tracks is the retelling of Robyn Davidson’s journey from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, seen through the eyes of world renowned photographer, Rick Smolan, and now reimagined in the major motion picture, “Tracks”. In the late 1970s Robyn Davidson undertook an epic adventure – to travel solo across the Australian outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, armed only with a few camels and her dog for company. Rick Smolan, a National Geographic photographer at the time, was employed to document Robyn’s journey, by accompanying her along sections of her route, the result of which formed a long-lasting relationship between the two and a visually stunning account of one woman’s dream of solitude, captured against the backdrop of the Australian outback… ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe kindness diaries : one man’s quest to ignite goodwill and transform lives around the world / Leon Logothetis.
“Follow the inspirational journey of a former stockbroker who leaves his unfulfilling desk job in search of a meaningful life. He sets out from Los Angeles on a vintage motorbike, determined to circumnavigate the globe surviving only on the kindness of strangers. Incredibly, he makes his way across the U.S., through Europe, India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and finally to Canada and back to the Hollywood sign, by asking strangers for shelter, food, and gas. Again and again, he’s won over by the generosity of humanity, and at each stop, he finds a way to give back to these unsuspecting Good Samaritans in life-changing ways.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlone in Antarctica : the first woman to ski solo across the southern ice / Felicity Aston ; with a foreword by Joanna Lumley.
“…Felicity Aston, physicist and meteorologist, took two months off from all human contact as she became the first woman — and only the third person in history – to ski across the entire continent of Antarctica alone. …Aston’s journey across the ice at the bottom of the world asked of her the extremes in terms of mental and physical bravery, as she faced the risks of unseen cracks buried in the snow so large they might engulf her and hypothermia due to brutalizing weather. She had to deal, too, with her emotional vulnerability in face of the constant bombardment of hallucinations brought on by the vast sea of whiteness, the lack of stimulation to her senses as she faced what is tantamount to a form of solitary confinement…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFlaws in the ice : in search of Douglas Mawson / David Day.
“In Flaws in the Ice, prize-winning historian David Day searches for the real Douglas Mawson. After travelling south on his own six-week odyssey to the Antarctic, the author answers the difficult questions about Mawson that have hitherto lain buried – from questions about his intimate relationship with Lady Scott, and his leadership of the ill-fated Australiasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-14, to his conduct during the legendary trek that led to the death of his two companions. He also explores how Mawson subsequently concealed his failures and deficiencies as an expedition leader, and created for himself a heroic image that has persisted for a century… ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFifty South : the wreck of the Dundonald / by Margaret Beames.
“It is 1907. A ship is wrecked on a lonely island in the sub-Antarctic Ocean. Fifty South is an inspiring story of courage, and endurance. Fifteen men, given up for lost, struggle to survive through a bitter winter.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRick Steves’ Italy 2015.
“You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in Italy. From the beaches to the Alps, from fine art to fine pasta, Italy has it all. With this book, you’ll trace Italian culture from Rome’s Colosseum to Michelangelo’s David to the bustling elegance of Milan. Experience the art-drenched cities of Venice and Florence, explore the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, and learn how to avoid the lines at the most popular museums. Discover the villages of Tuscany and Umbria and the lazy rhythms of the Cinque Terre. Shop at local market stalls, sip a cappuccino at an outdoor café, and pick up a picnic lunch at an allimentari. Relax and enjoy the life of Bella Italia!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe irresponsible traveller : tales of scrapes and narrow escapes / compiled and edited by Jennifer Barclay and Adrian Phillips.
“Publishing to coincide with Bradt’s 40th anniversary, The Irresponsible Traveller is a light but edgy collection of travellers’ tales. Travel writers and celebrities alike recount their exciting, and often dangerous, adventures which include being chased by a sea lion, accosted by Brazilian kidnappers and a midnight raid to free turtles on the Amazon. Over 40 years Bradt has built a reputation for publishing books covering the road less travelled, and this collection celebrates exactly the sort of writing and storytelling about ‘unusual’ travel experiences that has helped to establish the company as a firm favourite amongst adventurous travellers. Featuring contributions from Hilary Bradt, Michael Palin, Ben Fogle and Jonathan Scott, the title is a perfect tome to dip in and out of.” (Syndetics summary)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

New Zealand is the first country in the world to observe the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2005 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Auschwitz liberation day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international memorial day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand invites you to join them at the Holocaust Memorial at Makara Cemetery for a commemoration ceremony on Tuesday 27  January at 1pm.  You are also invited to the “Auschwitz to Aotearoa” exhibition at Bowen House from 27 January to 20 February which  is open to the public from Wednesdays to Fridays from 12-3pm. Come and see this compelling exhibition about 9 Jewish women who survived incarceration in Auschwitz.

Syndetics book coverSuch good girls : the journey of the Holocaust’s hidden child survivors / R.D. Rosen.
“Rosen reconstructs the experiences of three childhood survivors of the Holocaust. As Jewish children, Sophie Turner-Zaretsky, Flora Hogman, and Carla Lessing spent their early years in hiding in Poland, France, and Holland, respectively. Although their individual stories are unique, each spent significant years of her youth living in fear. Inevitably, the trauma that defined their hidden years informed their adult years, including their career choices in the helping professions. As adults, these women all experienced an ever-increasing need to confront their fears and anxieties by connecting with others who spent the war as hidden children. Recognizing that children who survived by hiding lacked an organized support group, each of these woman was instrumental in establishing networks and conferences for their unique peer group. By focusing on an often-overlooked group of survivors, Rosen has made a significant contribution to the Holocaust record.–Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2014 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverThe commandant of Lubizec : a novel of the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard / Patrick Hicks.
“Readers who have not read extensively about the Holocaust may be surprised, and perhaps puzzled, to learn at this novel’s end that the Nazi death camp in Poland described in agonizing and moving detail is fictional. For those able to put aside the question of why poet (This London) and debut novelist Hicks made the choice not to describe an actual death camp, his tale will serve as a solid depiction of historical horrors. The eponymous commandant, Hans-Peter Guth, is believably painted with the schizophrenic personality required for a good family man who plays with his children before heading off to work as an architect of genocide. Hicks goes to gruesome lengths to show that those living near such extermination centers knew what was going on, graphically depicting how the windows of surrounding houses were stained by human fat. His methodical style, which mimics an actual history book, down to the inclusion of footnotes, presents the Nazis’ logical approach to mass murder via the accumulation of small but damning details. No one will mistake this for Night or Schindler’s List, but it’s nonetheless a grim eye-opener. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe holocaust sites of Europe : an historical guide
“With this one-volume work, Winstone (independent scholar) offers a very important addition to reference collections holding materials on the Holocaust and European Jewish history. For both researchers and laypeople, this is an unprecedented, comprehensive guide to places of interest including camps, massacre sites, cities and ghettos, euthanasia centers, and museums and memorials in all of the major Holocaust sites in Europe–from Belgium, Belarus, and Greece to Serbia and Ukraine. The work also includes information on Sinti and Roma sites, along with a detailed and authoritative “suggested reading” section of leading historical studies. Beyond the narrative of genocide that typifies reference works on this subject matter, this volume’s historical context, provided for each country and region, is both impressive and extremely well researched. This work will be very valuable for all researchers and travelers interested in learning more about this chapter in world history. Its maps and illustrations are informative and well selected in terms of geography and historical significance. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. L. Lampert California State University–NorthridgeCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverMeasure of a man : from Auschwitz survivor to presidents’ tailor : a memoir / Martin Greenfield with Wynton Hall.
“He’s been called ‘America’s greatest living tailor’ and ‘the most interesting man in the world.’ Now, for the first time, Holocaust survivor Martin Greenfield tells his incredible life story. Taken from his Czechoslovakian home at age fifteen and transported to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz with his family, Greenfield came face to face with ‘Angel of Death’ Dr. Joseph Mengele and was divided forever from his [family] … He learned how to sew; and when he began wearing the shirt under his prisoner uniform, he learned that clothes possess great power and could even help save his life [and led ultimately to his] founding America’s premier custom suit company”– Provided by publisher.


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