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Learn Chinese with eBooks and eAudio Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science Fiction & Fantasy for April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New books on Travel for April

New Zealanders love to travel. Read the history of the OE, then travel vicariously through Europe, Africa, South America, and the whole world with our picks for April.

Syndetics book coverFlying Kiwis : a history of the OE / Jude Wilson.
“Leaving home to see the world is something that succeeding generations of young New Zealanders have done in ever-increasing numbers. The ‘overseas experience,’ or the ‘OE,’ has been the topic of countless individual travel accounts, and has provided subject matter for plays, films, and novels. …Based on the oral accounts of several hundred travelers across all seven decades of the OE, this vibrant history shows how the OE has changed over time. Well illustrated with the ephemera of popular culture surrounding youth travel, Flying Kiwis traces the emergence of the OE, as well as the transport, media, and other networks that have supported it. Laced with humor and entertaining anecdotes, Flying Kiwis is an essential read for anyone who has arrived in a foreign city with only a few dollars and the address of a friend’s cousin.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverHow to travel the world for free : one man, 150 days, eleven countries, no money! / Michael Wigge.
“Wigge, a journalist and anchor for the German television program “London Calling”, has produced a hilarious and touching account of his 25,000-mile trip in 150 days, starting in Berlin and ending in Antarctica, without bringing along any money. He first agreed to work on a cargo ship from Argentina to his destination and then set out from Berlin to meet the ship by bartering, bargaining, hitchhiking, and depending on the kindness of strangers. Wigge learned how to eat by dumpster diving and convincing restaurant owners to fund his travel project with handouts. He found places to sleep on the computer site couchsurfing.com and earned money by working various jobs.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Danube : a journey upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest / Nick Thorpe.
“Thorpe traveled up the Danube, exploring the river that both separates and connects so many countries that Westerners generally know so little about: Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia are some of the countries with a rich history on the banks and in the waters of the Danube, which flows from the Black Forest of Germany to the Black Sea. …Today, fishermen are still relying on the Danube, though fish populations are threatened, and shepherds still move their sheep among pastures, but many villages have lost their younger people. Like the sturgeon moving upriver, many leave the eastern Danube region to find work in the West. Balkan wars and the Iron Curtain have left their mark on the Danube and its people, and Thorpe explores the conflicts and the scars that remain.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRound the bend / Alistair McGuinness.
“I thought that the opportunity to backpack around the world had passed me by. I was not brave enough to give up a good job. Then came the shock news that the car plant was closing and I realised that my moment had come. In Ecuador we tried to save the Amazon and in Tanzania we tried saving ourselves from psychotic taxi drivers. In Zimbabwe we were chased by wildlife, in Zanzibar we were chasing sunsets. In Bolivia we searched for the remains of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and ended our trip finding miners searching for silver deep underground. Getting lost in Stone Town and trekking through Peru was all part of the adventure. In Africa we slept under the Milky Way and had a wake up call on the Zambezi. In the South Pacific we slept metres from the beach and, after a night flight, we woke in Australia to start a new life.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDelicious days in Paris : walking tours to explore the city’s food and culture / Jane Paech.
“Beautiful, romantic Paris, with its endless layers of history and cornucopia of shops filled with exquisite clothes and delicious food — where do you even start? Delicious Days in Paris is a day-by-day guided tour of this spectacular city, with fourteen themed walks through some of her favourite areas. … This book is a clear, practical guide to the very best that Paris has to offer, with addresses and useful information to help you find every place that has been mentioned, written in Jane Paech’s warm, friendly, personal style.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEncircle Africa : around Africa by public transport / [Ian M. Packham].
“In this solo 25,000 mile by any means journey through 31 countries, Ian travels through Africa at its most raw and real. Attempting to complete the first solo and unassisted circumnavigation of Africa by public transport, equivalent to circling the Earth at the equator, Ian experiences life without schedules. He rides beaten-up bush taxis, flatbed trucks, dugout canoes, and a van delivering freshly-made meat pies in order to traverse the continent. Entirely reliant on local populations for more than 13 months, Ian fights off thieves in Senegal, is mistaken for an undercover UN official during Liberia’s presidential election, refused entry into Congo, and while in Sudan becomes perhaps the only person tear-gassed trying to visit a museum.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpartacus international gay guide 2014/2015.
“Universally recognised as the best gay travel guide, 2014 Spartacus International Gay Guide has everything gay men need to know when visiting any country in the world. Includes maps, transport, accommodation, beaches, cruising areas, restaurants and nightlife. Now in its 43rd edition, this is the longest running gay guide in print. Spartacus is the benchmark for gay travel and the most authoritative, up-to-date guide available. Meticulously researched and fully revised, the all-new Spartacus takes the stress out of travel.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRoads to Santiago / Cees Nooteboom ; translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke.
Roads to Santiago is an evocative travelogue through the sights, sounds, and smells of a little known Spain-its architecture, art, history, landscapes, villages, and people. And as much as it is the story of his travels, it is an elegant and detailed chronicle of Cees Nooteboom’s thirty-five-year love affair with his adopted second country. He presents a world not visible to the casual tourist, by invoking the great spirits of Spain’s past-El Cid, Cervantes, Alfonso the Chaste and Alfonso the Wise, the ill-fated Hapsburgs, and Velazquez.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeaches : 100 ultimate escapes / edited by Sabrina Talarico with Stefano Passaquindici.
“Ranging across all the coasts of the world–the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the quaintness of Love Beach in the Bahamas, and the metropolitan shoreline of Copacabana in Brazil–this beautifully illustrated volume offers an exclusive tour of 100 of the most beautiful beaches in the world; each one a trip of a lifetime. …unique perspective for travelers everywhere by introducing far-off destinations that are not necessarily on the more familiar tourist itineraries. “Beaches: 100 Ultimate Escapes” includes useful maps and website references, making this an indispensable reference as well as a sumptuous book for the armchair traveler.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWomen travelers in Egypt : from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century / edited by Deborah Manley.
“Until late in the nineteenth century, few guidebooks acknowledged the presence of women as travelers–although women had been traveling around the world for centuries. Women’s accounts of their journeys, distinct from those of male travelers, began to appear more frequently in the early nineteenth century, and Egypt was a popular destination. Women had more time to watch and describe; they were more dependent on the Egyptian staff; they spent time both in the harems of Cairo and with the women they met along the Nile. Some of them, like Sarah Belzoni, Sophia Poole, and Ellen Chennells, spoke Arabic. Others wrote engagingly of their experiences as observers of an exotic culture, with special access to some places no man could ever go. From Eliza Fay’s description of arriving in Egypt in 1779 to Rosemary Mahoney’s daring trip down the Nile in a rowboat in 2006, this lively collection of writing by over forty women travelers includes Lady Evelyn Cobbold, Isabella Bird, Winifred Blackman, Norma Lorimer, Harriet Martineau, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Edwards, and Lucie Duff Gordon.” (Dust jacket)

Syndetics book coverTravels with Tinkerbelle : 6,000 miles around France in a mechanical wreck / Susie Kelly.
“The author and her husband devised a simple plan – to take a tent and the dog and drive around the perimeter of France. Like many simple plans it went wrong before it started and they ended up with two dogs and a campervan named Tinkerbelle.On the second day of their journey Tinkerbelle begins to self-destruct, helped by the new dog who does his best to eat her from the inside out. This is their story, as they travel from sandy beaches to snow-topped mountains exploring the diverse cultures, cuisines and countryside making up the country called France. Their journey takes them to places out of the ordinary, meeting interesting characters and witnessing ancient traditions. While the dogs rejoice in the freedom they find running on the beaches, Susie and Terry spend a lot of time holding their breath, wondering whether Tinkerbelle will manage to negotiate impossible mountain routes and get them home before she completely disintegrates.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Graphic Novels for April

Hyperbole and a half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem and other things that happened: A great read already and it is only the title of this highly recommended new graphic novel by Allie Brosh, semi-autobiographical, and adapted in part from her blog. This is just one of the best graphic novels selected from the new additions to the collection this month.

Syndetics book coverFive ghosts [1] : the haunting of Fabian Gray / written by Frank J. Barbiere; art by Chris Mooneyham.
“Famed treasure hunter Fabian Gray has the remarkable ability to channel ghosts of five archetypal figures the wizard, the archer, the detective, the samurai, and the vampire a power that comes in quite handy in the midst of his swashbuckling exploits. A classic adventure comic, crammed with rubies to snag, helicopter ladders to lunge after, and biplanes that crash into deep jungles full of magic-wielding cults, all wrapped up in a plot dripping with revenge, regret, greed, and deep hubris.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHyperbole and a half : unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened / Allie Brosh.
“Autobiographical cartoonist Allie Brosh impresses with this confessional collection of essays, adapted in part from her popular blog of the same name. Most pieces deal with Brosh’s struggle with depression, an experience rarely expressed so clearly and specifically in other media as it is here. Even those unfamiliar with trials of such a condition will find this humorous depiction enlightening. The writer frequently details her relationship with two dogs, each as dysfunctional as herself, whom she must take care of while tending to her own serious mental issues. “(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Black Beetle in “No way out” : a mystery tale / by Francesco Francavilla.
“While investigating a meeting between a pair of powerful mob bosses, the Black Beetle – Colt City’s sleuthing sentinel – witnesses an explosion that decimates the city’s organized crime community, killing dozens. No one gets away with mass murder when the Black Beetle’s on the case.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe encyclopedia of Early Earth : a graphic novel / by Isabel Greenberg. “This is an epic work of fiction, detailing the many tales and adventures of one lonely storyteller, on a quest for Enlightenment and True Love. The many stories, big and small, cover themes such as Gods, monsters, mad kings, wise old crones, shamans, medicine men, brothers and sisters, strife, mystery, bad science, worse geography, and of course true love.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverScience fiction / Joe Ollmann.
“High-school science teacher Mark is practical, sensible, and grounded, sharing a happy if routine life with his girlfriend, Sue. That is, until a throwaway science fiction B movie changes his life completely. As the movie unfolds, Mark has a panic-fueled meltdown. He claims that the film triggered previously repressed memories of an alien abduction, and they lead to his descent into isolation and paranoia. The real story, though, is the disintegration of Mark and Sue’s relationship.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMasks. Volume 1 / written by Chris Roberson ; issue #1 art and collection cover by Alex Ross ; issue #2-8 art by Dennis Calero.
“This story joins together some high-powered, pulp-infused superheroes in one adventure: the Green Hornet, Kato, the Shadow, the Spider, Zorro, Black Bat, Miss Fury, the Green Lama, and Black Terror. The vigilantes confront a brazenly corrupt New York, complete with public hangings and people being shipped off to “work camps”. Naturally the Masks unite to set things right.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverButcher Street / creator/writer, Justin Robinson ; artists, Ben Templesmith, Steve Wands ; editor, Amanda Hendrix. “Michael Rose has awakened in a strange place: a city block from which there is no escape, watched over by a monstrous guardian. Every one of the other denizens carries with them some secret pain, but are they wardens or fellow prisoners? While Michael hunts for escape from Butcher Street, he learns that the only way out, is in.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverLazarus. Volume one, Family / written by Greg Rucka ; art and letters by Michael Lark.
“Each mob family has their very own Lazarus, a cybernetic warrior pledged to carry out the family’s dirty work on their path to control their population. Forever Eve Carlyle is the Lazarus and daughter of the Carlyle family, who appears to have far more depth than her role as coldhearted killer would initially suggest.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSin titulo / Cameron Stewart.
“Self-centered Alex Mackay has no idea that he is letting important relationships slip away, until he drops in on his grandfather, Robert, at his nursing home, only to discover that the old man died a month before. Left pondering the small box of his grandfather’s personal effects, Alex discovers an intriguing photo of Robert with an unfamiliar woman. When he asks the nursing home staff about the photo, his questions are met with obstructionism and violence. Determined to find the truth, Alex sets out on a journey of discovery that only raises more questions and reveals that his recurring dream of a gnarled tree on a beach is far more important than he previously believed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDon’t go where I can’t follow / by Anders Nilsen.
“Six years after its limited first edition, Nilsen issues a general edition of his A very affecting, quirky, and beautiful memorial of Nilsen’s fiancée, Cheryl Weaver, who died too young and too quickly of cancer. It is a mixed-media composition; beginning with some postcards she sent him and his hilarious letter to his sister about a weekend camping trip fraught with tiny disasters. Photos and anecdotes from an accidental New Jersey stopover, a comics account of a trip to the Angouleme comics festival, plenty of photos from his and Cheryl’s subsequent French travels, his journal entries about her hospitalization, the portrayal in comics of scattering her ashes, four of his drawn-upon postcards to her, and ending with an old note to her envisioning her surviving him” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A ComicFest playlist: Music in comics and comics in music

Comics and pop music have always had a close relationship.  In the late 60’s and early 70’s underground comics by authors like Robert Crumb directly referenced music of all sorts and comic artists have worked on albums by a number of  musicians from that period like Iggy Pop and The Grateful Dead. Sometimes, music is more directly referenced in comics and that’s where this ComicFest playlist  starts – from comics based on one song, to songs based on single comics, to comics recounting a whole period in music history, or even comics revisiting single songs one by one each by a separate creator. The permutations are limitless, and the titles below only a personal selection, but hope you enjoy them and the accompanying Spotify playlist.

Hip hopHip Hop family tree
Fully realised early history of Hip Hop in the U.S, complete as a deluxe out-size edition, with crisp thick paper and retro print 70’s colour finish – a thing of beauty and a genuinely studious slice of rappin’ DJ life from Wizzywig’s Ed Piskor. Grandmaster Flash and the furious five played their part and ‘The Message’ may be their best known song.

Put the bookPut the book back on the shelf: A Belle and Sebastian anthology
A tribute comic by multiple creators that takes as starting point and inspiration, Belle and Sebastian’s well-loved songs, but to be honest, the pieces are variable in quality. A thoughtful attempt with some outstanding successes. ‘Asleep on a sun beam,’ is a sweet girl/guy vocal Belle and Sebastian song that pulls you in without trying, is melodic and oh so sweet.

Ghost worldGhost World
Sometimes, comics influence musicians too, and maybe none more so than ‘Ghost World,’ by Aimee Mann, a direct tribute to Daniel Clowes ground-breaking graphic novel. Paul MacCartney, Pop will eat itself, the Ramones and XTC have all recorded songs about comics.

I see a darknessJohnny Cash: I see a darkness
I See a darkness is a very well imagined and illustrated graphic biography of some of Johnny Cash’s darkest years and the song version of the same name from his late career ‘American’ recordings, features songwriter Bonnie Prince Billy on tender backing vocals.

Punk rockPunk rock and Trailer parks
Punk rock and trailer parks features an absolute original in the optimistic, surprisingly verbose Punk rock fan Otto. Set in Ohio, the fictional Otto happens upon one influential punk band after another, and music lies at the heart of every gently humorous episode. A comic that gains momentum slowly as it progresses, eventually affecting real emotional heft and surprise. The Ramones blast ‘Teenage Labotamy’ on our playlist.

sweetersidercumb_1The sweeter side of Robert Crumb
The famous Robert Crumb has been a fan of classic Blues and early Jazz and an underground comic genius – of sorts – for years.  His extensive contribution to the cover and liner art of Blues and pop music reissues and original releases are often respectfully and sympathetically illustrated. Crumb illustrated the cover for Blind Boy Fuller’s album Truckin’ my blues away in the late 70’s.

GreendaleNeil Young’s Greendale
Neil Young’s live recording of Grandpa’s interview, from the Greendale album, is so strong in narrative and deft story-telling, that it wasn’t too much of a surprise when this reverent, capable comic version of Greendale was released in 2010.

soundtrkcvrSoundtrack: short stories
American cartoonist Jessica Abel’s early short work depicts indie music reverently and personally but also in a journalistic closeness. Is it surprising that counter culture comics authors identify and continue to value underground or indie music? In a very short story called Soundtrack she thanks The Beastie Boys, Pavement, Jesus Lizard and Arrested Development.

There’s a whole lot more adult graphic novels that reference or are influenced by indie rock especially in our collection by phenomenal comic geniuses like Brian Lee O’Malley, Peter Bagge, Jamie Hernandez and Terry Moore.  Comics and music, music and comics – it’s a deep and transcendent relationship.

Comic crusaders abound these holidays!

The April school holidays are almost here and we’ve planned some awesome activities for kids all about comics! Read on…

April school holiday poster 1. Holy creative comic capers! Your kids could become comic crusaders, making and playing with their own ‘comic dice’ during the April school holidays. Costumes are welcomed! These free events are perfect for 6-10 year olds, and bookings aren’t required.

Where and when:

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library: 11am 28th April
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library: 10.30am 29th April
Karori Library: 11am 29th April
Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library: 2pm 29th April
Central Library: 11am 30th April
Miramar Library: 2pm 30th April

2. Join us at the Central Library on 3rd of May for ComicFest and celebrate International Free Comic Book Day – a day of workshops, costume competitions, and free comics to give away for all ages!


New CDs from March

New CDs for March include the critically acclaimed return of Beck; new albums from Rosanne Cash & St. Vincent; Aloe Blacc’s major label debut; and an epic 5-Disc Lee Hazelwood Box Set.

Cover imageThe river & the thread.
“Produced by and co-written with John Leventhal, this album marks Cash’s Decca/Blue Note debut. ‘The River & The Thread’ is Rosanne Cash s first album in more than four years. Cash wrote the album s 11 original songs with her longtime collaborator (and husband) John Leventhal, who also served as producer, arranger and guitarist. With The River & The Thread , Cash turns her attention to American lives and locations. The album richly evokes the Southern landscape physical, musical, emotional and examines the indelible impressions it has made on our own collective culture and on Cash. The River & The Thread is sweeping in its breadth, capturing a unique, multi-generational cast of characters, from a Civil War soldier off to fight in Virginia to a New Deal-era farmer in Arkansas to a contemporary Mobile, AL couple. While Cash and Leventhal found inspiration in the many musical styles associated with the South swampy Delta blues, gospel, Appalachian folk, country and rock, to name a few this is a completely contemporary collection. ‘If I never make another album I will be content, because I made this one’, says Cash of The River & The Thread , which is a marked departure from her earlier works.” (Abridged from publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThere’s a dream I’ve been saving : Lee Hazlewood Industries, 1966-1971.
“Well, looks like dreams do come true and here’s one we’ve been saving. After 7 intense years in the making, Light In The Attic are proud to announce by far our most expansive and lavishly packaged project to date: There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving, commemorating the complete legacy of Lee Hazlewood Industries from 1966-1971. For more than a year now, Light In The Attic has been reissuing the solo work of this true American moustachioed maverick. Beyond restored versions of Lee’s debut Trouble is a Lonesome Town and the soundtrack A House Safe for Tigers, the lid has also been lifted on the rich, little-explored archives of the label Lee Hazlewood Industries (LHI), when Hazlewood was svengali and super-producer to a stable full of brilliant artists. This landmark box set is the ultimate artifact for Lee Hazlewood heads new and old, containing a lavishly packaged, expansive 172-page LP sized hard cover book. But every good book deserves a soundtrack and in this case it comes in the form of a four-CD anthology of the LHI label, along with the never-before-released 1970 film Cowboy in Sweden on DVD. The CDs feature Hazlewood songs familiar and less so; surprising covers, doleful duets and little heard LHI gold.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageLift your spirit.
“With “Wake Me Up” — the 2013 mega-hit he sang and co-wrote for Swedish DJ Avicii and saw climb to #1 in 102 countries across the globe — Aloe Blacc proved himself a singer/songwriter with an irresistible power to capture the complexities of human emotion. Now with his third solo album Lift Your Spirit (Blacc’s major-label full-length debut, released by XIX Recordings/Interscope Records), the rapper-turned-singer pushes further into a folk/soul/pop fusion that’s both undeniably joyful and eye-opening in message. Adding an of-the-moment twist to the music of legends like Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder, Lift Your Spirit is built on songs that pair Blacc’s poetic yet incisive lyrics with huge hooks and relentless feel-good grooves. Lift Your Spirit finds Blacc teaming up with premier producers like Pharrell Williams, DJ Khalil (Eminem, Drake, Kendrick Lamar), and Rock Mafia (No Doubt, Miley Cyrus) to achieve a slick and smooth retro-soul sound. “On my last album I paid homage to the music of Curtis Mayfield and James Brown and Al Green,” says Blacc of 2010’s Good Things, which featured his breakthrough hit “I Need a Dollar.” “But for this one I wanted to go in a new direction and create a new, updated sound.” (Publishers description from Real Groovy)

Cover imageSt. Vincent.
“St. Vincent – aka Annie Clark — is releasing her self-titled fourth album which follows her last solo release, 2011’s Strange Mercy. The record’s 11 tracks showcase Clark at her most assured and gripping, as she meshes distorted, aggressive electric guitars and ethereal vocal and synthesizer arrangements on top of an infectious rhythm section and relentless percussion. “I knew the groove needed to be paramount”, Clark says of the album, which she arranged and demoed extensively in Austin before heading into the studio in Dallas to record. She enlisted Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and frequent collaborator McKenzie Smith of Midlake to share percussion duties, while she returned to producer John Congleton to take the sonic potential they’d only just begun to tap with Strange Mercy into dramatic new territory. “I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral.”" (Publishers description from Real Groovy)

Cover imageMorning phase.
“Morning Phase is true to its title: the beginning of yet another amazing chapter in Beck’s peerless career and catalogue. Featuring musicians who have backed him on many of his most acclaimed albums, as well as the current live shows widely hailed as the best of his career (Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Joey Waronker, Smokey Hormel, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and Jason Falkner), Morning Phase harkens back to the stunning harmonies, song craft and staggering emotional impact of Beck’s most classic ballads, all the while surging forward with undeniable optimism. “…one of his best: a tenderly stunning song cycle of languid, prairie-dusted psychedelia that recalls Beck’s reflective 2002 classic, Sea Change.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageBenji.
“2014 release, the sixth album from the Indie band led by former Red House Painters mainman Mark Kozelek. BENJI, Sun Kil Moons latest release was recorded between March and August 2012. Sun Kil Moon, led by Mark Kozelek is a reflection on Marks childhood years and his life today. Mark is joined by guest musicians Steve Shelley, Jen Wood, Will Oldham and Owen Ashworth.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Sustainability Trust Presents: Mini Worm Farms for Kids at Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library

FBYou’re invited to join in this fun session on worms and all the good work they do for us and our planet.

Together, we’ll take a closeup look at how worms can turn our food scraps into useful compost, and learn how to build our very own mini-worm farm.

So come along and get friendly with worms!

RSVP to Ngaio Library: 479 2344 or at the library front desk

More zines to <3

We’ve been so spoilt lately – heeeeaaaps of people have been contributing awesome zines to our collection. It’s been great!! So, without further ado, let me show you some of my faves:

Femineast / Wellington East Girls’ College
Yes, you read right, this zine was produced by Wellington East Girls’ College! This is a fun and introductory-type look at feminism – great for anyone who’s ever been put off / mystified / intrigued by the idea of feminism and wants to know more. And big ups to the girls at Wellington East for producing it!

Central Library /
This zine is full of beautiful photos of our own Central Library (and produced by one of our own beautiful librarians). It’s not all books, either – there are some beautiful and unexpected shots in here, including some ‘behind-the-scenes footage.’

Snorklish: Internet Generation Portraiture / Holly
This zine features portraits of famous women (from Beyonce and Ellen Degeneres to Lorde and The Gilmour Girls) with humourous captions. It definitely has a sassy feminist vibe; love it!

Computing for April

This month’s computing picks include Dogfight, Fred Vogelstein’s profiling of the very public business war between Apple and Microsoft. With the recent end of XP it seems appropriate that we increase our Windows 8.1 collection and two books on Windows 8.1 feature in this month’s computer books picks.

Syndetics book coverDogfight : How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
“The smartphone and tablet computer have revolutionized personal computing to such an extent that they have caused waves of disruptions across numerous industries, decimating sales of laptops and giving consumers more choices than ever to have TV, movies, and the Internet on their own terms. The PC platform wars of the 1990s between Apple and Microsoft Windows may mirror the current fight for dominance over the smartphone market between Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, but today the stakes are higher and the battle more personal, to the extent where the fight has become one of the nastiest, longest, and most public business battles in a generation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSams teach yourself beginning programming in 24 hours.
Sams Teach Yourself Beginning Programming in 24 Hours starts from the absolute beginning, explains everything you need to know before you start programming, and then presents simple programming techniques you can use wherever your interests or career take you.
Greg Perry teaches you JavaScript, one of the world’s easiest languages – and the #1 programming language used on modern web sites. Once you’ve learned how to code the right way in JavaScript, Perry shows how to apply those techniques in several of today’s other leading programming environments…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWindows 8.1 for seniors in easy steps / Michael Price.
Windows 8.1 for Seniors in easy steps introduces the features of the most current Windows operating system, presented with the over-50’s in mind. It uses larger type for easy reading and discusses the topics in a clear and concise manner. It concentrates on the activities you’ll want to carry out, whether you’re completely new to computers, or you’re upgrading from a previous version of Windows.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncharted : big data as a lens on human culture / Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel.
“In late 2010, Google released an intriguing new tool, the Ngram Viewer, allowing users to search the site’s archive of five-million digitized books (now there are more than 30 million) for common words and phrases and graph their usage frequency along a timeline. While at first glance the application appears a tad gimmicky, its usefulness in tracking cultural trends across decades and centuries is mind-boggling. In this user-friendly demonstration of Ngram’s versatility, Rice University computer science professor Aiden and Quantified Labs founder Michel showcase the results of their explorations using the statistical search engine.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDreamweaver CCl / David Sawyer McFarland with Chris Grover.
“Dreamweaver CC comes packed with features and a new, online-only home, but it still doesn’t include a printed guide to working in the cloud or tapping the program’s amazing features. That’s where this Missing Manual comes in. With its jargon-free explanations and hands-on tutorials, you’ll learn how to create every kind of website, from single-purpose static sites to interactive, multimedia-driven web dynamos.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLooking after your PC made easy / Roger Laing.
“The computer still sits at the centre of many people’s lives. Fitting it in and around the multitude of other devices (smartphones, tablets, bluetooth connections, music and TV servers) makes it all the more important to know how to manage your computer. This straightforward new book helps answer those awkward questions — “why is my computer so slow?”, “How do I set up wi-fi in my home?” — and covers other essential tasks such as backing up, checking for viruses and dealing with child-protection measures.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverData visualization for dummies / by Mico Yuk, Stephanie Diamond.
“A straightforward, full-color guide to showcasing data so your audience can see what you mean, not just read about it. Data visualization software enables different industries to present information in ways that are memorable and relevant to their mission. This full-color guide introduces you to a variety of ways to handle and synthesize data in much more interesting ways than mere columns and rows of numbers… Effective data analysis involves learning how to synthesize data, especially big data, into a story and present that story in a way that resonates with the audience.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMastering Windows Server 2012 R2 / Mark Minasi… [et al.].
“Your One-Stop Resource on Windows Server 2012 R2. Check out the new Hyper-V, find new and easier ways to remotely connect back into the office, or learn all about Storage Spaces – these are just a few of the features in Windows Server 2012 R2 that are explained in this updated edition form Windows authority Mark Minasi and a team of Windows server experts. This book gets you up to speed on all of the new features and functions of Windows Server and includes real-world scenarios to put them in perspective.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverLearning Python with Raspberry Pi / Alex Bradbury & Ben Everard.
“The must-have companion guide to the Raspberry Pi User Guide.
Raspberry Pi chose Python as its teaching language of choice to encourage a new generation of programmers to learn how to program. This approachable book serves as an ideal resource for anyone wanting to use Raspberry Pi to learn to program and helps you get started with the Python programming language. Aimed at first-time developers with no prior programming language assumed, this beginner book gets you up and running. Covers variables, loops, and functions. Addresses 3D graphics programming. Walks you through programming Minecraft. Zeroes in on Python for scripting.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWindows 8.1 all-in-one for dummies / by Woody Leonhard.
“With new improvements and changes, Windows 8.1 offers a refreshed user interface, better integration between the new and traditional Windows interfaces, and more. Nine minibooks in one cover such essential topics as navigating the new. Start Screen, which is a feature sure to please traditional Windows users. Provides top-notch guidance from trusted and well-known Windows expert and author Woody Leonhard. Covers Windows 8.1 inside and out, including how to customize the Start screen, manage apps, and control privacy. Delves into core Windows 8.1 apps such as e-mail, people, and SkyDrive. Shows you how to connect online, add hardware, back up and update, and secure Windows 8.1.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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