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All About Stars: New Books on Popular Music

She won the Grammy at the age of 17, and her biography has already arrived! This month’s new books on popular music are all about stars, including our awesome Lorde, Leonard Cohen, and Muse. The story about Jon Ronson, who was FRANK of the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band, offers intriguing insight to this unique and bizarre band and the time, which became the movie, Frank. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverLorde : your heroine / Marc Shapiro.
The unauthorised biography of the New Zealand teen superstar, Lorde by a New York Times bestselling author. New Zealander newcomer Lorde reached the top of the modern rock/alternative and rock albums charts, and the lead single ‘Royals’ won the 2014 Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA broken hallelujah : rock and roll, redemption, and the life of Leonard Cohen / Liel Leibovitz.
“Leibovitz presents a thoughtful examination of the music of Leonard Cohen, the elegant Canadian wordsmith and musician, through a strong Jewish perspective. Tellingly, Leibovitz calls Cohen a prophet. He examines the musician’s life and work through the angles of Jewish eschatology, Zen Buddhism, Canadian poetry, and American rock and roll, as well as lust and lucre. Yes, there are biographical details here, but A Broken Hallelujah offers something else: a finely etched musical portrait of a complicated man both highly spiritual and sensual and the often exquisite music that he has created over many decades, austere and melancholy songs that dare to find beauty amid ugliness.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverBathed in lightning : John McLaughlin, the 60s, and the emerald beyond / Colin Harper.
“On February 16 1969, John McLaughlin flew into New York, from London, in a snowstorm. The following day, Miles Davis, his hero, invited him to play on a record. Two years later, on the path of Bengali mystic Sri Chinmoy, John launched The Mahavishnu Orchestra-an evocation in music of spiritual aspiration and extraordinary power, volume and complexity, far beyond anything else in jazz or rock. Drawing on dozens of exclusive interviews and many months of meticulous research, author and music historian Colin Harper brings that unrepeatable era vividly to life.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverNirvana : in the words of the people who were there / Carrie Borzillo.
“Written by a leading journalist, it’s as near as possible to a day-by-day log of every significant event from the band’s inception right through to Kurt Cobain’s tragic early death. Spawned in the intensely fertile music scene that blossomed in and around Seattle in the late 1980s, Nirvana instantly distinguished itself by virtue of the singular passion that drove its leader, Kurt Cobain. The singer was imbued with incredible personal magnetism, as well as an uncommon gift for articulating the chaotic emotions of what has been called a lost generation, but his extreme distaste for the attention attracted by those talents proved overwhelming.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe Dylanologists : adventures in the land of Bob / David Kinney.
“Since he stumbled upon Dylan’s Biograph album as a teenager long after the album came out, Kinney has been consumed with the enigmatic bard from Hibbing, Minn. He eventually discovers he’s not alone in this fixation and uncovers an “entire nation of unreformed obsessives” like himself who are so fanatical about knowing more about Dylan that they collect bootleg tapes, travel on pilgrimages to Hibbing, and even dig through Dylan’s garbage in search of clues that will reveal his identity. Kinney chronicles some of the reasons that they can’t get Dylan’s voice and music out of their heads, hearts, and homes. They discover over and over just why Dylan’s music means so much to them.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverFrank : the true story that inspired the movie / by Jon Ronson.
“In the late 1980s Jon Ronson was the keyboard player in the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band. Frank wore a big fake head. Nobody outside his inner circle knew his true identity. This became the subject of feverish speculation during his zenith years. Together, they rode relatively high. Then it all went wrong. Twenty-five years later and Jon has co-written a movie, Frank, inspired by his time in this great and bizarre band. Frank is set for release in 2014, starring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Domhnall Gleeson and directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie is a memoir of funny, sad times and a tribute to outsider artists too wonderfully strange to ever make it in the mainstream.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverOut of this world : the story of Muse / by Mark Beaumont.
“From a battle of the bands contest in Teignmouth to the first band ever to sell out the new Wembley Stadium, the story of Muse’s stratospheric rise is one of UK rock’s most fascinating and incendiary tales.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI never met a story I didn’t like : mostly true tall tales / Todd Snider.
“For years, Todd Snider has been one of the most beloved country-folk singers in the United States, compared to Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, John Prine, and dozens of others. He’s become not only a new-century Dylan but a modern-day Will Rogers, an everyman whose intelligence, self-deprecation, experience, and sense of humor make him a uniquely American character. In live performance, Snider’s monologues are cheered as much as his songs. Running the gamut from personal memoir to shaggy-dog comedy to rueful memories of his troubles and triumphs with drugs and alcohol to sharp-eyed observations from years on the road, I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like is for fans of Snider’s music, but also for fans of America itself.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverI’m talking / Kate Ceberano.
“In her own unmistakable voice, Kate Ceberano takes us on a very personal journey from her surburban childhood, her immersion in the Melbourne club scene of the eighties and her rise to stardom at the age of fourteen when she fronted the wildly popular funk band I’m Talking, to the life of a female performer and recording artist in London, Los Angeles and New York. With parallel careers as a pop and jazz singer and songwriter, Kate has recieved the highest awards in the Australian music industry including the ARIA for Best Female Artist… and made a triumphant debut for Opera Australia in ‘South Pacific’. Now she reveals, for the first time, just what that was like.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverRemember the time : protecting Michael Jackson in his final days / Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, with Tanner Colby.
“While much is known about his life, very little is known about the “true” man. Although his former bodyguards Whitfield and Beard’s first-person vignettes provide little-known facts about Jackson, this title raises more questions than can be gleaned from their two-and-half-year security detail. Written with Tanner Colby, this book attempts to showcase Jackson’s “humanity” while leading the reader to speculate about those things that kept him imprisoned by paranoia and isolation. Whitfield and Beard present Jackson as a “normal eccentric” who craved stability and relationships while remaining distrustful of most; a childlike, doting father whose naivete in certain situations (e.g., finances) is both baffling and fascinating.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Special events in October

Phew! We have held so many events recently, from author talks to school holiday activities. These both continue into October, along with our Law for Lunch series. You can always check our event calendar to see all events happening in one day, or look further ahead for the rest of the month. We have several event series running, see below for what’s coming up this month:

Law for Lunch
Wednesday 1 October – 12-1pm – On a Work Visa: Know your employment rights
Wednesday 8 October – 12-1pm – Body Corps: Resolving common pitfalls
Wednesday 15 October – 12-1pm – The New Family Court: Help yourself and your whānau
Wednesday 22 October – 12-1pm – Dodgy Debt: How to avoid it
Wednesday 29 October – 12-1pm – Enduring Powers of Attorney: When you can’t manage your own affairs

Book ocver courtesy of SyndeticsSpring Writers series at Kilbirnie Library
Thursday 2 October – 6.30-7.30pm – Kiwis at Gallipoli : Author talk with Philippa Werry
Thursday 9 October – 6.30-7.30pm – Many Hats: Author talk with Mary McCallum
Thursday 23 October – 6.30-7.30pm – Author talk with Dame Fiona Kidman and Tracy Farr

Newtown After Dark
Friday 3 October – 6-7pm – Paranormal Investigations: a talk with James Gilberd from Strange Occurrences
Friday 10 October – 6-7pm – “Visible: 60 women at 60″ a talk with photographer and author Jenny O’Connor
Friday 17 October – 6-7pm – Beaded Jewellery with Margaret Elliot
Friday 24 October – 6-7pm – Organic Gardening with Helen Mechen

Mad Science Mysteries Holiday Activities
Central Library – 11am-12pm – Wednesday 1 October
Miramar Library – 2-3pm – Thursday 2 October
Karori Library – 2-3pm – Thursday 2 October
Tawa Library – 11am-12pm – Wednesday 8 October
Cummings Park Library – 11am-12pm – Thursday 9 October
Khandallah Library – 11am-12pm – Friday 10 October

Other one-off events
Wednesday 1 October – 6-7.30pm – Spring Poetry Evening at Central

Recurring events
Wednesdays 5.30-7.30 – Gamesfest at Central Library
Second Friday of every month 6.30-7.30pm – Free drawing classes with Joyce at Johnsonville library

Johnny Cooper, ‘The Māori Cowboy’

Johnny Cooper, hero of early New Zealand rock’n’roll, died earlier this month in Lower Hutt, aged 85.

Born in 1929, Cooper grew up on an isolated farm near Wairoa. He was gifted a ukulele by his uncle, who played saxophone in a Gisborne dance band. He began playing along to 78s, and would play in woolsheds to entertain the shearing gangs.

Johnny Cooper in the early 1950s.
Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-10069-18-08

Cooper won a scholarship to attend Hawkes Bay’s illustrious Te Aute college. After attending for a time, Cooper was desperate to leave. However, his elders were insistent that he stay in school. So Cooper boarded the train to return to school from Wairoa, and instead stayed on-board and ran away to Wellington. This resulted in Cooper being disowned by his parents: “They said, you’re on your own.”

Cooper stayed in a boarding house and got a job at Karori cemetery. On Sunday nights he sang at cinemas and suburban halls. He dug graves during the day, and met bass-player Willy Lloyd-Jones. In 1953 they formed The Ridge Riders with guitarist Ron James and Don Aldridge on steel. The group wore cowboy style outfits and became known at talent quests and live shows on radio, with appearances in Wanganui and at Linton and Waiouru.

On Sundays they recorded in Alan Dunnage’s Island Bay studio, inside an old shop. A duet by Cooper became the number one 78 of 1954; Look What You’ve Done produced a double-sided hit. Cooper had written most of the song in a day: “I heard someone say ‘look what you’ve done’ and thought that was a crazy thing to say, that it would be good to sing something like that.” The song became a continual request for The Ridge Riders: “Shearing shed or anywhere, every party you went to in that period that was all you heard them play.” The song became a well-known Kiwi party song and was famously sung by Jake and Beth Heke in ‘Once Were Warriors’.

In 1955 Cooper started a solo career in rock’n’roll at town hall jamborees. He made New Zealand music history by becoming the first singer outside of the United States to record a rock’n’roll song when he recorded Rock Around the Clock with a group of Wellington jazz men at HMV’s Lower Hutt studios in 1955. As a country singer, Cooper had originally balked at the idea of recording a rock’n’roll track, and had said “What’s this rubbish? I’m not singing that.” Within a year Cooper was touted as the “undisputed king of rock’n’roll whose record sales are now far in excess of a hundred thousand.” Cooper also recorded New Zealand’s first original rock’n’roll song, Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll in 1955.

F W Larcombe Ltd. Harry Fagin proudly presents New Zealand tour Variety round up, headed by Johnny Cooper, H.M.V. recording and television star. Johnny Cooper rocks ‘em! Regent Theatre Greymouth, Wed Thurs Fri Oct 2, 3, 4. Larcombe Print [1957]. [Posters collected by Charles Cabot, for variety, comedy, and music-hall shows and performances in New Zealand. 1950-1959].. Ref: Eph-E-CABOT-Variety-1957-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22699643

Cooper’s musical talent saw him travel around the world, leading three concert tours during the 1950s to entertain Kiwi troops in Japan and Korea.

In 1957, The Ridge Riders drifted apart and Cooper started holding talent shows around small towns, including Give It A Go! Through this, he coached some of New Zealand music’s well-known names, including rock’n’roll idol Johnny Devlin, Midge Marsden (who played in Bari and the Breakaways) and the Formulya, whose song Nature was to be judged the greatest New Zealand rock song of all time.

Cooper moved into entertainment promotion in the 1960s. Good friend and fellow musician Midge Marsden says he did not so much fall from the limelight as ease himself into the shadows. “His private life was exactly that – private.”

Cooper, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, died at his home early in September.

Neighbours of Johnny Cooper knew him as a friendly pillar of the community, who tidied the area and mowed lawns for free. Friends knew him as a warm, modest and humble man, and hold many fond memories.

Syndetics book coverBlue smoke : the lost dawn of New Zealand popular music, 1918-1964 / Chris Bourke.
“Bringing to life the musical worlds of New Zealanders both at home and out on the town, this history chronicles the evolution of popular music in New Zealand during the 20th century. From the kiwi concert parties during World War I and the arrival of jazz to the rise of swing, country, the Hawaiian sound, and then rock’n’roll, this musical investigation brings to life the people, places, and sounds of a world that has disappeared and uncovers how music from the rest of the world was shaped by Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders into a melody, rhythm, and voice that made sense on these islands. The accompanying audio CD wonderfully brings to life the engaging text, underscoring seminal moments in New Zealand’s musical history.” (Syndetics summary)

Early rock & roll from New Zealand. Vol. 5 & 6.

Pie cart rock ‘n’ roll : New Zealand rock ‘n’ roll 1957-1962.

Waiata : Maori showbands, balladeers & pop stars.

Read NZ Geographic online with your library card

New Zealand Geographic has been celebrating our people, places, wildlife and environment for two decades. Its archives hold more than 600 in-depth features about our country, natural history and culture.

This multi-award-winning magazine is now available online via your library card membership. You can either read the latest issue, browse previous issues by clicking on covers or search the archive using keywords. The magazine has the same layout and resolution on the screen as it has in print. Simply login with your library card number from here.

If you have any questions about this new eMagazine – please email us at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz, or ask a librarian when you’re next at the library to show you.

Happy reading!



New Books on Movies

This month’s picks feature fantastic movie guides and biographies. The former includes The greatest movie ever, Film noir: 100 all-time favorites, and the latter includes an intimate story about Sharon Tate, a 60s icon who died in a horrific way, written by Sharon’s sister, Debra Tate. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverThe greatest movies ever : the ultimate ranked list of the 101 best films of all time! / Gail Kinn & Jim Piazza.
“From a century of great comedies, dramas, musicals, romances and more, Kinn and Piazza have selected and ranked the top 101 films worldwide—and provided insightful commentary, facts and figures, behind-the-scenes info, and lush photographs that bring each film to life on the page. Call it a celebration of movies, a peerless guide to the best of the best—or call it the best checklist ever compiled for movie lovers. (How many have you seen?) The Greatest Movies Ever is a must-have for film buffs of every age and taste.” (adapted from the book cover)

Syndetics book coverFilm noir : 100 all-time favorites / Paul Duncan and Jürgen Müller, eds.
“The first film-by-film photography book on film noir and neo-noir, this essential collection begins with the early genre influencers of German and French silent film, journeys through such seminal works such as Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Vertigo, and arrives at the present day via Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, Heat, and the recent cult favorite Drive. Populated by the genre’s most revered directors, like Hitchcock, Wilder, Welles, Polanski, Mann, and Scorsese, the book also pays homage to its iconic faces, including Mitchum, Bogart, Hayworth, Bergman, Grant, Bacall, Crawford, Nicholson, Pacino, and so many more.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverNot to be missed : 54 favorites from a lifetime of film / Kenneth Turan.
“Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times since 1991 and a regular contributor of reviews to NPR, approaches movies, as did the late Roger Ebert, on their own terms, trying to understand what a filmmaker is trying to do and assessing a movie’s success or failure in light of its maker’s intent. This book isn’t a collection of film reviews per se; it’s a look at Turan’s personal favorites, which range from the easily recognizable (The Godfather, All about Eve, Casablanca, Unforgiven, Vertigo) to the for-­devoted-film-fans-only (The Dybbuk, Seven Men from Now, The Best of Youth). His comments about the movies are always insightful… and his writing is fluid and accessible.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverA brief history of superheroes / Brian J. Robb.
“From the beginning superheroes represented the hopes and fears of the time. In this detailed history, Brian Robb takes the reader through the diverse history of superheroes, from the first creations—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman—to the DC and Marvel feud and the darker versions of the 1980s, ending with their rebirth at the movies.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverI said yes to everything : a memoir / Lee Grant.
“Grant, the Academy Award-winning actor who segued into directing in the 1980s, was fired weeks into directing a Bruce Willis movie in the late 1990s (the movie was subsequently shut down). While it definitely wasn’t the blow to her professional life as was being blacklisted for a dozen years, thanks to HUAC’s Communist witch hunt in the 1950s, readers of this no-holds-barred autobiography can tell that it really rankled. The title, incidentally, comes from a piece of career advice she once received and which she followed with great enthusiasm once the blacklist era was over, advice that led her to take on such diverse projects as the TV series Peyton Place (for which she won an Emmy) and such films as In the Heat of the Night, Valley of the Dolls, and Portnoy’s Complaint. “(adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverSharon Tate : recollection / Debra Tate ; foreword by Roman Polanski ; contributing photo editor, Arieana Tate Mussenden.
“Tate offers a lovingly crafted biography of her sister, the late actress and fashion icon Sharon Tate. The author starts with Tate’s childhood as a mobile army brat, continues with her first forays into acting on such television sitcoms as The Beverly Hillbillies, and focuses on her film appearances, most especially her starring role in Valley of the Dolls (1967). She also covers Tate’s marriage to director Roman Polanski. The large-format book includes many never-before-seen photos and presents a story of a self-effacing, shy, caring person who radiated inner as well as outer beauty.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe Sherlock files : the official companion to the hit television series / Guy Adams.
“Sherlock: The Casebook offers a multidimensional companion to the PBS hit show Sherlock. Covering the first two seasons in vivid detail, each case is richly captured on the page and re-examined through Dr. Watson’s blog, Inspector Lestrade’s police reports, and newspaper articles about the crimes. Sherlock’s detective notes and any surviving clues from the cases are also included. Interspersed among the evidence are exclusive interviews with the stars of the show; writers and co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat; and the production team on everything from writing the scripts and bringing the characters to life on-screen to how the new Sherlock both reinvents and pays homage to Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverCharlie Brooker’s Screen burn.
“Cruel, acerbic, impassioned, gleeful, frequently outrageous and always hilarious, Charlie Brooker’s Screen Burn collects the best of the much-loved Guardian Guide columns in one easy-to-read-on-the-toilet package. Sit back and roar as Brooker rips mercilessly into Simon Cowell, Big Brother, Trinny and Susannah, Casualty, Davina McCall, Michael Parkinson…and almost everything else on television. This book will make practically anyone laugh out loud.” (adapted from amazon.com)

More new classical CDs for September

This week: works for solo piano, and a compilation of recordings from St Paul’s Cathedral Choir.

Cover courtesy of amazon.comExtase: Etudes for Piano
Michèle Gurdal plays Scriabin etudes. “On her debut recording for Challenge Classics, the brilliant young Belgian pianist Michèle Gurdal performs virtually all the Etudes, including the major op 8 and op 42 sets, by the visionary Russian composer Alexander Scriabin… Russian composer Alexander Scriabin is mostly known for the exotic and visionary style of his compositions. He developed a largely atonal musical system, which he linked into his personal brand of mysticism. Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colours with the various pitches of his atonal scale. Although he is known for orchestral works like the highly atmospheric “Poem of Ecstasy”, his piano music, including the etudes featured on this CD, are considered to be standards of the repertoire.” (amazon.co.uk)

cover courtesy of amazon.comIgor Kamenz plays Scarlatti
A selection of Scarlatti’s harpsichord sonatas, performed on piano. “In their variety, inventiveness, harmonic and timbral audacity, their vivacity, impulsiveness, the fruitful tension between vibrant Mediterranean joie de vivre and sombre melancholy, [the sonatas] form miniature psychological studies that look forward to the Romantic era, indeed the 20th century. Igor Kamenz has assembled the sonatas played here on a modern concert grand into what he calls a suite in eighteen movements , the order of which follows criteria related to the dramaturgy, key and content of the pieces.” (amazon.co.uk)

cover courtesy of amazon.comCanticles from St Paul’s Cathedral, London
“The Canticles are the crowning glory of the Anglican liturgy and have afforded the greatest opportunity for musical development within the Anglican rite. Thousands of people daily hear the world-famous St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and organist Simon Johnson under their director of music Andrew Carwood singing these settings. Here these forces present a satisfying collection including nineteenth-century masterpieces by Stanford and Charles Wood, and from the twentieth century Walton’s Coronation Te Deum, written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and Tippett’s monumental work for St John’s College Cambridge.” (amazon.co.uk)

Coming soon: Cuarteto Casals performs Mozart quartets, Steven Osborne plays Medtner and Rachmaninov, and some Byrd.

Drink up – New Cooking picks for September

This month’s new cooking books provide a focus on beverages – cider, wine and coffee, beer and tea all feature. There is even a guide to harvesting and blending your own teas!

Syndetics book coverCider : Enthusiasts’ Manual : A Practical Guide to Growing Apples and Cidermaking / Bill Bradshaw.
“In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in cider around the world, with businesses investing millions to meet the growing demand. At the same time many people now want to try to make their own cider, and the Cider Manual is here to help.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverVineyard Virgins / Kim Goldwater.
“When Kim and Jeanette Goldwater planted their first tiny vineyard on a couple of hillside acres on the magical little island of Waiheke in 1978, just 15 miles East of Auckland City, all the leading experts warned them that grapes would not grow in that salt laden island environment. The Goldwaters, both 4th generation New Zealanders, had no experience of winemaking but doggedly persisted with their island experiment eventually proving the sceptics wrong by winning numerous international awards for their wines. This success encouraged them to expand their enterprise, first into Marlborough and then into the Hawkes Bay, to eventually become one New Zealand’s largest and most prestigious winegrowers.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverTequila Mockingbird : Cocktails with a Literary Twist / Tim Federle ; illustrated by Lauren Mortimer.
“A fun gift for barflies and a terrific treat for book clubs, Tequila Mockingbird is the ultimate book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes – paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels – the book also includes bar bites, drinking games, and whimsical illustrations throughout.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverCoffee Obsession / Anette Moldvaer.
“A global guide to the world’s greatest coffee beans sorts the Arabicas from the Robustas and the Typicas from the Bourbons. With all this and more, Coffee Obsession gives you everything you’ll need to create that perfect cup of coffee.” (Book JAcket)

Syndetics book coverThe River Cottage Booze Handbook / by John Wright ; with an introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
“What could possibly beat a cool pint of beer down the pub or a lazy glass of wine at your favourite bar? The answer is: home-brewed beer or your very own brand of wine. With this, the twelfth in the River Cottage Handbook series, the inimitable John Wright shows exactly how easy it is to get started. You don’t need masses of space to make alcohol at home, and if you follow the simple instructions, you won’t be faced with exploding bottles in the cellar. But don’t forget, it’s all about experimentation and finding out what works for you….” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAdventures on the Wine Route : A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France / Kermit Lynch ; photographs by Gail Skoff.
““Wine is, above all, pleasure. Those who would make it ponderous make it dull,” declares wine importer Lynch in this robustly irreverent account of his quest through France in search of wine. Lynch’s winefoolery is serious; drollery never compromises his knowledge of his subject or his high standards. Even when mocking the misdeeds of viniculturalists, he remains an arbiter who merely wishes “wine could be a constitutionally protected form of expression.”…. Effortlessly eloquent, Lynch is a master of the brief barb: “Loving Chablis is like falling in love with a frigid floozy.” The author prefers a wine that offers “a subtle seduction; it keeps you coming back for more.” So too with this unusual guide: it makes you thirst for a sequel.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverHomegrown Tea : An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes / Cassie Liversidge.
Homegrown Tea is a beautiful gardening book for tea lovers everywhere……Homegrown Tea is full of information about how best to grow the plants, the medicinal benefits of tea, advice on great pairings of plants and on how to store plants for later use….After reading Homegrown Tea, you will be able to make your own delicious homegrown tea in just a few steps, and will find a new appreciation for the bounty nature has to provide.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverNatural Wine : An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally / Isabelle Legeron.
“There is no official description of natural wine, but a rough definition is that it is made from grapes that are farmed organically or biodynamically and harvested manually, and that the wine should ideally be made without adding or removing anything during the vinification process. It is basically good old-fashioned grape juice fermented into wine, just as nature intended. This guide is aimed at the non-specialist reader and will tell you everything you need to know about natural wine.” (Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverUltimate Beer Guide : Australia & New Zealand / [edited by Beer & Brewer magazine].
“Beer & Brewer Magazine’s Utimate Beer Guide covers 33 destinations and lists 1800+ beers and ciders across Australia and New Zealand. All known breweries that are open to the public are featured, plus cider producers, distilleries, good beer venues, such as bars, restaurants and bottle shops, even homebrew shops, plus beer events and things to see and do for the family along the way!” (Book Jacket)

New Mysteries for September

This month’s selection from the most recently received new mystery novels has a very international flavour, with mysteries set in South Africa, Holland, New Guinea, America and Australia. Also included is the new mystery from the popular writer Peter Robinson titled Abattoir blues.

Syndetics book coverColdsleep lullaby : a mystery / Andrew Brown.
“Cape Town police detective Eberard Februarie has been reinstated in his job after an emotional meltdown, but he’s reassigned to the picturesque university town of Stellenbosch in the heart of South Africa’s wine region. A doctor will make the final decision about his fitness, but in the meantime, Februarie draws a particularly brutal case: the murder of a young woman about to enter the university. In alternating chapters, Brown offers a second story line: the Dutch East India Company’s often-inhumane, seventeenth-century colonization of South Africa and its development of vineyards in the region that ultimately links to Februarie’s case.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverThe root of all evil / Roberto Costantini ; translated from the Italian by N.S. Thompson.
“Rome, 1982. In the wake of a ruinous blunder, a ground-down Commissario Balistreri escapes his regrets through sex, alcohol and gambling. His sole responsibilities are now a stilted investigation into the death of a South American student, and a tiresome obligation, as a gratitude to the man who saved his career,to a rising television starlet needing protection from the pitfalls of fame.As the risks to this girl, Claudia Teodori, begin to rise along with her reputation, the sorrows of Balistreri’s past also start to push back into his present. Both of their fates are inextricably linked and this driven, obsessive young woman must help this damaged detective fight a foe that follows her and refuses to forget him.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverGap / Rebecca Jessen.
“When you’re at the end of the line with nowhere to turn – how far would you go to protect the one you love? A man is found dead in an inner-city suburb, a police officer walks the blurry line between duty and loyalty, and a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks is on the run. Ana soon becomes a suspect in the murder investigation, and as sole carer for her younger sister is desperately trying to stay ahead of the law. In a surprising twist, the detective in charge of the case is no stranger and Ana is forced to face her past and the things she has left behind. Unsure of who she can trust and isolated by her crime, Ana is drawn into a passionate affair that breaks all the rules” ( Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe sun is God / Adrian McKinty.
“Based on an actual 1906 incident on New Guinea’s isolated Kabakon Island. The small German cult known as the Cocovores live naked on Kabakon, where they worship the sun and eat mostly coconuts, a regimen they believe confers immortality. When a member dies and an autopsy is performed on the mainland, murder is indicated. The region’s German government sends former British military police officer Will Prior, still healing from the traumatic carnage he witnessed in the Boer War, to the island. Insect bites, the group’s bizarre drug-laced diet, and their insistence that the death was natural, slow his inquiry” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe killer next door / Alex Marwood.
“At the start Det. Insp. Merri Cheyne from Scotland Yard questions a young woman, Cheryl Farrell, about the grisly find of human fingers in a freezer inside a rundown boarding house located in a London suburb. As Cheryl confirms, the prints from those fingers belong to a fellow lodger, Lisa Dunne, who witnessed a murder and whom the FBI was seeking to interview. Dunne is not the only victim. Body parts from multiple corpses have surfaced in and around the boarding house, which turns out to be a destination for people with dark and embarrassing pasts that they wish to conceal.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCobra / Deon Meyer ; translated from Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers.
“Bennie Greissel the Cape Town homicide detective is called to the South African wine country, where the British citizen Paul Morris has been kidnapped. At the guesthouse where Morris was staying, his two bodyguards lie dead, each of them shot in the head. Near the bodies are shell casings, each etched with the head of a cobra. Back in Cape Town, the amiable cutpurse Tyrone Kleinbooi, who is devoted to putting his sister through medical school, becomes a target of the same cobra killers after picking the wrong pocket.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFear and loathing / Hilary Norman.
“Gary Burton and his Chinese-American wife are entertaining another couple on their Miami Beach patio facing the Intracoastal Waterway when four armed men step off a boat and interrupt the party. The intruders tie up the Burtons and their guests, place them in the garage, and stand by as the victims slowly die of carbon monoxide poisoning. A note left at the scene addressed specifically to Becket, an African-American detective married to a white woman, promises more slayings. Becket and partner Al Martinez dive into the bizarre case with few leads. As the body count increases, so does the threat against Becket-including a separate danger for adopted daughter Cathy, blissfully pursuing her dream job in France. Becket finds himself struggling to keep perspective and protect his loved ones from harm” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverAbattoir blues / Peter Robinson.
“When two boys vanish under mysterious circumstances, the local community is filled with unease. Then a bloodstain is discovered in a disused World War Two hangar nearby, and a caravan belonging to one of the youths is burned to the ground. Things quickly become much more sinister. Assigned to the case, DCI Banks and his team are baffled by the mystery laid out before them. But when a motor accident throws up a gruesome discovery, the investigation spins into a higher gear, in another direction. As Banks and his team struggle desperately to find the missing boy who holds the key to the puzzle, they find themselves in a race against time where it’s their turn to become the prey.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverAn unwilling accomplice/ Charles Todd.
“Bess Crawford, a British battlefield nurse in WWI,is honored to be asked to accompany a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace, where the soldier is supposed to receive an award. But the soldier vanishes, and Bess is accused of dereliction of duty, an accusation that Bess takes very seriously. When the missing man turns up, apparently having murdered someone, it isn’t just her professional reputation Bess must save; it’s her own life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter the silence / Jake Woodhouse.
“A body is found hanging on a hook above the canals of Amsterdam’s old town, a mobile phone forced into the victim’s mouth.In a remote coastal village, a doll lies in the ashes of a burnt-down house. But the couple who died in the fire had no children of their own. Did a little girl escape the blaze? And, if so, who is she and where is she now? Inspector Jaap Rykel knows that he’s hunting a clever and brutal murderer. Still grieving from the violent death of his last partner, Rykel must work alongside a junior out-of-town detective with her own demons to face, if he has any hope of stopping the killer from striking again. Their investigation reveals two dark truths: everybody in this city harbours secrets and hearing those secrets comes at a terrible price.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

New Contemporary Fiction for September

Included in this month we have several debut, translated, futuristic, suspense, thriller, humour and of course some life relationship novels. Highly recommended is the new James Lee Burke novel titled, Wayfaring Stranger. This selection of new contemporary novels is a small sample of the wide range of genres we receive each month into our fiction collection.

Syndetics book coverA man called Ove : a novel / Fredrik Backman.
“After his handicapped wife dies and Ove is forced to retire from his job, he spends his days inspecting his community and criticizing others, judging each by how closely he follows rules and his choice of automobile. Ove decides he’s ready to leave the world behind. But every time he tries to off himself, he’s interrupted, first by his new neighbour, the pregnant Parvaneh; then by Parvaneh’s clumsy husband, Patrick; Anita, the wife of Ove’s former best friend; Jimmy, Ove’s overweight neighbor; Adrian, the neighborhood mailman; and finally a mangy feline Ove calls “Cat Annoyance.” Ove continuously pushes his demise from one day to the next, and, as time passes, these characters slowly weave themselves into his life, offering Ove a chance at rebirth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClose your eyes, hold hands : a novel / Chris Bohjalian.
“When a disastrous meltdown occurs at a Vermont nuclear power plant, forcing people to flee for their lives and face permanent exile from their beloved homes, everyone blames Emily’s parents. Her father was chief engineer, and her mother was the communications director, and they had a reputation for drinking. Terrified, Emily, a bookish, 16-year-old only child, runs away and ends up crashing in the squalid lair of a guy called Poacher, who recruits homeless teens for his drug-and-prostitution ring. She manages to escape, taking responsibility for a nine-year-old boy on the run from foster care and builds a trash-bag igloo to protect them from the bitter cold.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWayfaring stranger / James Lee Burke.
“A sprawling thriller drenched with atmosphere and intrigue that takes a young boy from a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde to the trenches of World War II and the oil fields along the Texas-Louisiana coast.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe unbearable dreamworld of Champa the driver / Chan Koonchung ; translated from the Chinese by Nicky Harman.
“Life is simple for Champa. He has a good job as a chauffeur in his hometown of Lhasa, and if his Chinese boss Plum is a little domineering, well, he can understand that – she’s a serious art-collector after all. And he does get to drive her huge Toyota.When he starts to sleep with his boss, life becomes a whole lot more complicated. Suddenly Champa’s sex life is beyond his wildest dreams.But then Plum brings home a Tara statue, a statue that shines with exquisite feminine beauty and suddenly life is not simple at all, as Champa finds himself on the long road to Beijing in search of its inspiration.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverYour fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? : a novel / Dave Eggers.
“Composed entirely of dialogue, this novel is set on an abandoned military base along the Pacific coast where Thomas, a troubled man, is interrogating a diverse group of chained captives. Frustrated by his lack of purpose and in search of answers about injustices large and small, Thomas kidnaps Kev, a driven astronaut who represents “the one fulfilled promise” he’s ever known. This first interview inspires Thomas to seek out further captives: an ex-congressman, a policeman, a disgraced schoolteacher, his own mother, and others. Depending on the prisoner, Thomas is respectful or abusive, solicitous or prosecutorial, but he never wavers in his view of himself as a “moral” and “principled man”.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCalifornia : a novel / Edan Lepucki.
“Two years ago, Frida and Cal made their way out of Los Angeles to live in seclusion, off the land, away from the violence of terrorists such as the Group, which tore the world apart, and the Communities, which cater to only the wealthiest clientele. They have adapted to their new lives, but when Frida becomes pregnant they worry for the safety of their unborn child. Not far from their cabin is a settlement called the Land, which is purported to be unwelcoming to visitors. Despite their reservations, Frida and Cal make their way there, hoping to find assistance if not acceptance. What they discover is both surprising and unsettling.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEm and the Big Hoom / Jerry Pinto.
“An engaging portrayal an unforgettable family of four in middle-class, Catholic Mumbai as their lives revolve around their manic-depressive matriarch, Em. Em’s son pieces together the story of her girlhood, career, courtship, and marriage to the Big Hoom, his stoic father, and her slide into mental illness. This dynamic picture of a complicated woman is crafted through diary entries, love letters, and conversations with the sharp-tongued Em.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe extraordinary journey of the fakir who was trapped in an Ikea wardrobe / Romain Puertolas.
“One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, the fakir is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he covets above all others: a brand new bed of nails. Without adequate Euros in the pockets of his silk trousers, the fakir is all the same confident that his counterfeit 100-Euro note and his usual bag of tricks will suffice. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in the wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer. As his journey progresses in the most unpredictable of ways, the fakir finds unlikely friends in even unlikelier places. His adventures lead to profound and moving questions of the perils of emigration and the universal desire to seek a better life in an often dangerous world.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe heist : a novel / Daniel Silva.
“Gabriel Allon, art restorer and occasional spy, searches for a stolen masterpiece by Caravaggio. Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll my puny sorrows / Miriam Toews.
“While Elfrieda is the genius and the perfectionist, a concert pianist, it is the practical, capable Yolandi her sister on whom she depends. Elf tours the world while Yoli stays put, has two kids with two different men but stays with neither of the fathers. It is Elf’s debilitating depression and suicidal tendencies that keep the two urgently close as Yoli, for decades, does everything she can to help Elf ward off her psychological problems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Travel books for September

Some favourites this month: a gap year travelling around the world in the 1970s; New York, Delhi, the Camino de Santiago and London in the 17th Century!

Syndetics book coverUnruly places : lost spaces, secret cities, and other inscrutable geographies / Alastair Bonnett.
“In an era when “global communities” are often formed in cyberspace and personal possessions are frequently irrelevant, -Bonnett’s (What Is Geography?) latest work poses the question as to whether the pursuit of “topophilia” (“a special love for peculiar places”) is an archaic activity. He provides the answer by showing in 47 entries that there is a constant human need for escape, freedom, and creativity. A residential ship that sails the seven seas, remotely located festivals, micronations, and a male-only -religious community may be unusual, but they all address this need. The author’s fascinating descriptions of lost spaces, enclaves and breakaway nations, floating islands and ephemeral places, hidden geographies, no man’s lands, dead cities, and spaces of exception complement Italo Calvino’s fabricated tales of 55 places in Invisible Cities and serve to prove that “fact is stranger than fiction”.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrangers like angels : with a devil or two to boot / Alec & Jan Forman.
Strangers Like Angels chronicles the journeys of Alec and Jan Forman to far and distant lands as they embrace their pioneering spirit. Following adventures in Canada, Antarctica and the Sultanate of Oman they set off on the original gap year in the seventies. Travelling in their Land Rover, they use only a map and compass to navigate through the Sahara Desert and tropical rainforests in Africa, back to Europe and out to Asia via the Hindu Kush, and on to the Himalayas. They grapple with the realities of poverty and yet experience surprising hospitality and welcome from unlikely sources…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hunt : New York City / writer: JoAnna Kang ; illustrator: Abigail Daker.
“Instead of indiscriminately featuring everything and the kitchen sink, The HUNT team has donned our curatorial coloured glasses and carefully selected 100 or so unique, authentic local New York businesses that range from eye-popping and brand spankin’ new to deeply patinated and WAY off the beaten path, funky and unexpected to chic and shiny. Over the last decade, our guides have become the go-to source for a worldwide community of locals and travellers who seek out genuine, intriguing independent businesses.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove Delhi : a hand-book for the luxury vagabond / Fiona Caulfield.
“This must-have guide series to India is packed with savvy insider knowledge. The best experiences in India are hidden in the narrow lanes of the old city where the five-star chef eats on his day off. They are in the home studios of designers and the workshops of seventh generation craftsmen. The highly successful Love Travel Guides series is the only luxury travel guide series dedicated to India. Entries are personally sourced from in-the-know locals including chefs and fishermen, artists and architects, writers and taxi drivers, before being personally tested. All information presented made it there under one simple criterion: if it makes you fall in love with the city, it is included in this book; otherwise it’s out…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalking in Umbria / by Gillian Price.
“Umbria – the ‘green heart’ of Italy – is a region of rolling hills and woodlands that lies just north of Rome and south-east of Florence, bordering Tuscany and the Sibillini. Providing inspiration to writers and painters over the centuries, this area also offers walkers hundreds of kilometres of waymarked paths to enjoy from the spring right through the autumn.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverTracks : a woman’s solo trek across 1700 miles of Australian outback / Robyn Davidson.Tracks
“A cult classic with an ever-growing audience, Tracks is the brilliantly written and frequently hilarious account of a young woman’s odyssey through the deserts of Australia, with no one but her dog and four camels as companions. Davidson emerges as a heroine who combines extraordinary courage with exquisite sensitivity.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCamino de Santiago : the ancient Way of Saint James pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela / Sergi Ramis ; translated by Peter Barraclough.
“With the rise in adventure travel and long-distance hiking, it makes sense that the Camino de Santiago is experiencing a renaissance. What started as a pilgrimage across Spain over a thousand years ago has become a route for hikers and cyclists wishing to explore the history and culture of Spain as well as those on a spiritual quest. This revised and updated version of the 2012 publication details the “French Way,” which the author, a travel book editor and author of other Camino de Santiago guides, has broken into 34 days, or stages. Each is detailed with places to eat, hostels to stay in, interesting sights, maps, elevation profiles, and, generally, how to approach that day’s hike.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAussie loos with views! : scenic loos across Australia / Red Nomad Oz aka Marion Halliday.
“Australia is an amazing place, but did you know that some of its most stunning views can be experienced from the loo? After a life-changing trip to Kata Tjuta — well, to the loo at Kata Tjuta — Marion Halliday (aka Red Nomad OZ) discovered this fact and became a true-blue Aussie-loo lover. Enjoy this uniquely Aussie journey across Australia in search of its amazing amenities, off-beat outhouses, daring dunnies and loos with simply stunning views. From the Thargo Thunderbox to the Lyrical Loo, answering nature’s call has never been so much fun!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA-Z of hell : Ross Kemp’s how not to travel the world.
“Ross Kemp’s fascinating guide of the 101 worst places in the world. Want to know where to discover the perfect sunset in Fiji? How about a tropical paradise in St Lucia, or one of the world’s beautiful natural wonders in the Alps? Well this is NOT the guide for you. But if you want to know about being set on fire by neo-Nazis in Russia, or being attacked for a can of tuna in the Congo, buying crack cocaine in a Venezuelan prison for $1.20 or getting run over by a tank in Colombia, then look no further. Ross Kemp has visited the worst places in the world, and here they are — all 101 of them. This is not one hell of a travel guide. This is a travel guide to hell.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMemories of London / Edmondo De Amicis ; translated by Stephen Parkin. Followed by An excursion to the poor districts of London / Louis Laurent Simonin ; translated by Adam Elgar.
“And all around me a cacophony – the iron bridges groaning under the weight of the long trains sounding their whistles and breathlessly whooshing out steam, above and below me, near and far, on the ground, in the air, along the water; a furious race of departures and arrivals, continuous meetings, escapes, pursuits, accompanied by the sounds of cracks and squeaks and thuds and bangs; the confusion of a vast battlefield together with the clockwork order of an immense factory; and then the darkness of the sky, the gloomy buildings, the silent crowd and their serious faces…” (Book jacket)

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