New Books on Popular Music

A variety of new books on popular music this month include the ever-popular David Bowie’s fantastic pictures and the history of NME (New Music Express) magazine. Have a browse.

Syndetics book coverDavid Bowie : a life in pictures / Chris Welch.
“Bowie the performer. Bowie the songwriter. Bowie the fashion icon. Chameleon-like, David Bowie has consistently reinvented his stage persona, while blurring the boundaries of art, performance, fashion and music. From art school to Major Tom, the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the iconic lightning bolt of Aladdin Sane to Bowie’s film career and current renaissance, this book is a comprehensive collection of pictures. Showcasing hundreds of moments from Bowie’s professional life, together with stunning famous and little known images from some of the world’s best photographers such as Terry O’Neill, Gijsbert Hanekroot and Mick Rock the visuals are accompanied by commentary from award winning journalist and author Chris Welch.” (adapted from summary)

Syndetics book coverThe history of the NME : high times and low lives at the world’s most famous music magazine / Pat Long.
“For 60 years, England’s New Music Express-NME for short-has been delivering weekly salvos on the latest musical developments, alerting fans to the Next Big Thing and keeping them abreast of trends. Here, former NME editor Long blandly chronicles the music weekly’s evolution from its early days as the Accordion Times to the present. A seminal influence on the listening habits of British rock fans, NME was the first to compile weekly singles charts and offer free “flexidiscs” (disposable records included in the magazine), in addition to introducing a nation of listeners to all manner of artists.” (courtesy of Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverDance music manual : tools, toys and techniques / Rick Snoman.
“Accompanying CD-ROM includes audio examples in mp3 form.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI would die 4 u : why Prince became an icon / Touré.
“Prince embodied plurality. Presenting himself as androgynous, queer, biracial, and messianic, he transgressed traditional boundaries of gender, sexuality, race, and religion. Here Toure attempts to tease out the disparate lines that make up Prince’s persona, to demystify a man who is definitively, purposefully mysterious. The book draws from three lectures Toure delivered at Harvard last March, but what might have been clear and concise when spoken now reads as leaden, oversimplified, and repetitive. He ranges from pseudopsychology-Does Prince play with gender as a way to replace his absent mother?-to unnecessary lyric paraphrase-“Prince puts the girl in the colorful chapeau on the back of his motorcycle”-to (reductively) searching for the biographical source of his music-Did the incestuous relationship described in “Sister” happen? The book is at its best when describing a basketball match between the author and Prince, when Toure drops the scalpel and allows Prince to just be.”(courtesy of Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe record players : the story of dance music told by history’s greatest DJs / Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton.
“In the 21st century analog and digital music technologies and cultures continue to converge and diverge. Somewhere between technological manipulation and musical archaeology is the art of the DJ. In this series of interviews, Brewster and Broughton illuminate the diversity of artists that propelled the DJ from sound engineer to featured performer. Each entry includes photos and a selected discography of the performer’s work. Familiar DJ pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash and Paul Oakenfold are included with lesser-known originators like Terry Noel and Kev Roberts. In addition to the details of their lives, the performers also consider music consumption by the general public.” (courtesy of Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverNo regrets : a rock ‘n’ roll memoir / Ace Frehley with Joe Layden & John Ostrosky.No Regrets
“Bronx, NY, native Frehley wanted to play guitar for a living, and he got his wish in 1972 when, responding to a Village Voice ad, he met Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley. After a slow start, their band, Kiss, exploded and became a brand that appealed to millions of kids and adults. However, Frehley found rock ‘n’ roll stardom inseparable from sex, drugs, brushes with the law, and near-death experiences. Frehley’s memoir is a blast-candid, conversational, and funny. He seems to enjoy recollecting his alcohol- and drug-fueled shenanigans and is never preachy but makes it clear he knows how lucky he is.” (courtesy of Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverBlack vinyl, white powder / Simon Napier-Bell.
“Black Vinyl White Powder charts the amazing fifty year history of the British music business in unparalleled scale and detail. As a key player across the decades, Napier-Bell – who discovered Marc Bolan and managed amongst others The Yardbirds and Wham! – uses his wealth of contacts and extraordinary personal experiences to tell the story of an industry that is like no other. Where bad behaviour is not only tolerated but encouraged, where drugs are sometimes as important as talent, where artists are pushed to their physical and mental limits in the name of profit and ego.” (adapted from summary)

From Big Screen to fashion TV

New books on movies and TV programmes this month feature the biographies of Hollywood icons such as Judy Garland and Vivien Leigh, and interesting insights of popular TV series including ‘Project Runway’. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe big screen : the story of the movies / David Thomson.
“Film guru Thomson presents a freewheeling historical and sociopolitical treatment of film that deals with screens big and small worldwide. Thomson discusses the global influence of film images (from Biograph Studios to the Zapruder film to Johnny Carson); subject matter (from film noir to politics to porn); significant films, directors, and genres; how sexual relationships have shaped the film community; academia’s resistance to film studies; and his own speculations about the future of the movies. Thomson blends fact with incisively witty commentary. This is an essential title for readers who know and love film and for those who wish to know more; it functions both as a great reference and a great read.” (courtesy of Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverJudy Garland : a biography / Anne Edwards.
“Praised as “undoubtedly the best of the many books on Judy Garland” by no less a critic than John Lahr (the son of Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz), Anne Edwards’s biography attempts to present a complete picture of the late actress, and not just the boozing, drug-addicted caricature of a woman that is central to lesser biographies. From Edwards’s account we learn, for example, that Garland saw it as her duty to provide for her family financially, a generosity that her mother Ethel exploited with disastrous results. A student of great poets—Shelley, Keats, and Browning in particular—she often tried her own hand at verse; surviving poems are reproduced here. Above all Judy Garland sought to please, whether it was an audience or a studio head, and therein lies her powerful and heartbreaking story.” (adapted from summary)

Syndetics book coverVivien Leigh : a biography / Anne Edwards.
“This is the story of the actress who became a Hollywood legend by winning the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, and whose circle included both theatrical and political celebrities, from Winston Churchill to Noel Coward, John Gielgud, and Marlon Brando. But behind the dazzling exterior lay the sinister shadow of another Vivien Leigh—a shadow which pursued her throughout her aristocratic upbringing, her frustrating first marriage, her tempestuous romance with Laurence Olivier, and her meteoric rise to stardom.”(adapted from summary)

Syndetics book coverSuperman : the unauthorized biography / Glen Weldon.
“Weldon, who reviews comics for NPR, has penned an excellent portrait of the Man of Steel, managing to be fan-crazed and critical at the same time. Starting with a look at Superman’s goody-two-shoes reputation, Weldon dares to ask, “Why has a schmuck like that endured for seventy-five years?” His answer is Superman’s motivation-he “puts the needs of others over those of himself” and he “never gives up.” Weldon wonderfully details the many twists and turns in Superman’s career, beginning with a look at how the comic’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster borrowed many traits from other comic figures in the 1930s, from Popeye to The Shadow.” (courtesy of Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverProject runway : the show that changed fashion / introduction by Heidi Klum ; foreword by Harvey Weinstein ; with Eila Mell.
“Project Runway, the groundbreaking reality television series, premiered in 2004. Ten seasons into its run comes the official guide behind the scenes of a television and fashion landmark. In this book, fully illustrated with hundreds of photos, fans will learn how the show began and developed over the years, relive the highlights of seasons past, and learn what their favorite designers are doing today. The book will feature commentary from Heidi Klum throughout, as well as interviews with the people behind the scenes, top designers of ten seasons, and stars of the show: workroom mentor Tim Gunn and judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Michael Kors. This is the ultimate source for all things Project Runway.” (adapted from summary)

Syndetics book coverOoh! what a lovely pair : our story / Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, with Andrew Milligan.
“This is the book everyone has been waiting for: national heroes Ant and Dec, Britain’s most successful television duo, have invited their millions of fans into their world. The pair met when they were thirteen on the set of Byker Grove in Newcastle. They didn’t warm to each other immediately, but soon enough they became best mates and have been inseparable both on and off screen ever since. Bad rap, terrible haircuts, schoolboy pranks and off-screen antics are just some of the experiences they write about in this wonderfully entertaining memoir. Ooh! What a Lovely Pair will give readers an insight into the genuine intimacy and refreshing sense of humour that the two TV icons share.” (adapted from summary)

Celebrate Winter with crafts!

Enjoy the changing of season and get your creativity flowing with some fabulous finds in our latest arrivals of craft books. Find out about perfect weekend craft projects that require little or no specialist skills, including quilting, beadwork and crochet projects, as well as, knitting stylish hats and beanies to accessorise and express your own style. And, if you enjoy vintage craft, you will find lots of ideas and inspiration how to inject character and charm into your home using unique vintage pieces!

Syndetics book coverLight & layered knits : 19 sophisticated designs for every season / Vicki Square.
“A collection of nineteen women’s tops made from comfortable fibers–such as silk, linen, cotton, and bamboo–and light yarns that can be layered and removed at will.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFantastical hats & beanies / Jenny Occleshaw.
“Here is a delightful collection of unique easy-to-make hats and beanies to suit every outfit and occasion. The collection includes projects suitable for experienced crafters and newcomers alike. Every project is explained using easy-to-follow instructions. Hats and beanies are not only a fabulous way to accessorise and express your own style, the hand-made hats and beanies also make personal and unique gifts for friends and loved ones. With such a variety of techniques and styles, there really is a hand-made hat or beanie here for everyone.” (Adapted from review)

Syndetics book coverHip crochet / Natalie Clegg.
“The interest in crochet is surging and making a huge comeback – and will surely be with us for some time. The need and desire to make handmade items is growing all the time as people find new ways to save money and new crafters take up some of the more traditional needlecrafts. Crochet has crept onto the catwalks and into fashion stores but the cool way to crochet now is to make unique crocheted items for the home that are colourful, quirky and funky. Many of the projects use traditional techniques and patterns but with brighter and more colourful yarns such as the zingy motif bedspread or the Union Jack cushion. Others are wonderfully contemporary and guaranteed to brighten up any home, such as the crocheted string of chillies or carnival bunting. From bedspreads and cushions to baskets, bags, egg cosies, doorstops, Christmas decorations and even a crocheted clock, “Hip Crochet” is full of wonderful easy-to-follow projects. All the projects have clear instructions and beautiful photographs and a techniques section at the beginning covers everything you need to know to make gorgeous crochet items for your home.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverQuilting on the go! / Jessica Alexandrakis.
“Maybe you have the urge to sew but don’t want to be stuck behind your sewing machine all the time – English paper piecing quilting is wonderfully portable. You can stitch on the train, bus, or airplane, in waiting rooms, in the car while your baby naps, or at the beach – all the stolen moments when your hands are idle. Learn to build a tool kit with everything you need to get stitching. When you’re done, just snap it shut and your project is safe and waiting for when you’re ready to sew again. Clear explanations and step-by-step photography will have you stitching in no time and, before you know it, beautiful patterns will materialize from your fingers, which you can use to create a colourful quilt, a cushion, a bag, and much more. Includes detailed instructions for preparing templates, basting techniques, joining pieces and finishing techniques, and with a myriad patterns to try, you’ll find this book full of inspiration for you to find an idea and make it your own.” (Adapted from review)

Syndetics book coverThe artful parent : simple ways to fill your family’s life with art and creativity / Jean Van’t Hul.
“Jean Van’t Hul, mother of two, lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. She has been writing about children’s art and creativity on her blog, The Artful Parent , since 2008. A graduate of Wellesley College with a major in art history and studio art, Jean worked in various art and nonprofit fields before devoting her time to writing and raising kids. She loves to share process-oriented art, seasonal crafts, and joyful learning opportunities with her own daughters and through her children’s art groups, her magazine articles, and on her blog.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPearl Lowe’s vintage craft : craft projects & styling advice for the modern vintage home.
“Pearl Lowe is a fashion and textiles designer based in Somerset. Her bespoke dresses launched her mainline collection in 2006 and sold internationally in Liberty and a range of high-end boutiques. Her high-street range for Peacocks, which launched in 2009, has sold-out season upon season. Pearl has also created successful lines of soft furnishings, candles and stationery for several high street, online and boutique retailers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVintage home : stylish ideas and over 50 handmade projects from furniture to decorating / Sarah Moore ; photography by Debi Treloar.
“Recycle, revamp and rejuvenate; with over 50 projects Sarah covers a whole spectrum of imaginative ideas for every room of the house, from blanket curtains to patchwork wallpaper, clever storage crates to fun mobiles for children, as well as unique ideas for dining, sleeping and bathing. Interweaved throughout the book are ideas for ‘one thing four ways’ to show how the same piece of furniture or a room can be updated with different look, plus handy advice on essential kit and techniques. Aimed at all skill levels, the projects can be completed in a few hours or over a weekend so you can revamp and refurbish your home in no time at all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLace, ribbons and bows : 35 vintage-inspired projects to make and treasure / Ann Brownfield and Jane Cassini.
“Indulge your nostalgic fantasies with this beautiful collection of ideas for things to make and give. Using lashings of lace, pretty prints, pearls, diamante, ribbons and all things vintage, Ann Brownfield and Jane Cassini have created 35 unique projects for romantics everywhere. In ‘Alluring Lace’ choose from embellished silk cushions, vintage pouches, and lace and diamante gift cards, while ‘Beautiful Bows’ has ideas for lampshades, felt purses and a lingerie bag. Finally, ‘Arrays of Ribbons’ will inspire you to make vintage scarf chairbacks, beautiful gift boxes and tags. With inspirational photographs and clear step-by-step instructions and illustrations that make every project easy, this book will appeal to oldfashioned girls everywhere.” (Adapted from review)

Syndetics book coverThe complete guide to wire & beaded jewellery : over 50 beautiful projects and variations using wire and beads / Linda Jones.
“This is the essential companion for any fan of stunning jewellery made from wire and beads. Celebrated jewellery designer and best-selling author Linda Jones presents a must-have collection of beautiful pieces in a variety of styles. Packed with designs for daytime, ethnic-inspired necklaces, fun projects for kids, pretty pieces for special occasions and items suitable for beginners, keen crafters will find all they need here”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMetallic seed bead splendor / Nancy Zellers.
“Nancy Zellers is a bead artist and teacher who lives in Colorado. She especially enjoys encouraging others to develop their own style through teaching beadwork classes. Nancy has taught at the Bead&Button Show, the Puget Sound Bead Festival, the Rocky Mountain Bead Society Bead Bazaar, and other venues. Nancy’s work has been featured in many magazines and beading books, including ‘Bead&Button’, ‘500 Beaded Objects’, ‘The Art of Beaded Beads’, and ‘Beading with Crystals’. Her sculptural pieces have appeared in regional and national contemporary art shows.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreate your own jewellery : over 100 inspiring ways to make stunning pieces from all kinds of materials, with practical step-by-step projects / edited by Ann Kay.
“This title features over 100 inspiring ways to make stunning pieces from all kinds of materials, with practical step-by-step projects. It contains over 100 ideas and easy-to-make projects, plus scores of tips and inspiration for creating many different types of hand-crafted jewellery. It features every kind of jewellery – from bangles, brooches and pins, to necklaces, rings, pendants and earrings – plus designs for buttons, badges, cufflinks, hair ornaments and trinket boxes. All techniques are shown in fully illustrated step-by-step format – clear, simple and easy to achieve, with stunning pictures of every finished piece. It covers a wide range of different crafting techniques using easily acquired equipment and material: including metal, wire, beads, ribbon, felt, silk, shells, mosaic, ceramics and paper. Jewellery always makes a very personal statement, and creating your own pieces is a wonderful way of saying even more about yourself and your taste. Better still, many of these ideas are so inexpensive, you can give yourself a new look quickly and easily. This book is designed to teach you everything you need to know about making jewellery, and covers all the materials, techniques and equipment you will need.” (Adapted from review)

The vulgar question of money – literature picks for June

Money was a crucially important matter for a young woman living in England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – and ther family. Should she fail to make a good match she would probably be reduced to a life of servitude as a governess, companion or poor relation in a wealthier home. So as amusing as we find the emaphasis on material wellbeing in Jane Austen’s novels, it was a matter of real concern. Our feature book this month focuses on this preoccupation in the works of several well-known British authors – Jane Austen, Frances and Anthony Trollope, Margaret Oliphant and one American, Henry James, signifying the economic shift from Britain to America.This topic has been examined before – particularly in criticism of the works of Jane Austen, but never in such a wide-ranging way. A most fascinating read.

Syndetics book coverMy bright abyss : meditation of a modern believer / Christian Wiman.
“”Wiman offers urgent thoughts on faith and doubt from the foxhole of mortality. Not that many years ago, the poet (Every Riven Thing) and editor of Poetry magazine was diagnosed with a rare cancer. This book of essays springboards from a much talked about 2007 essay that laid out his condition, his dark night of the soul, and his reawakening faith. Like Jacob, Wiman wrestles with that which he will not release until he is blessed-and in fact he was, his cancer apparently in remission. Readers are blessed with the fruit of Wiman’s pain, doubt, and poetic rumination. His exquisite essays have This would make a beautiful gift for someone who is serious and seriously ill. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverJane Austen’s letters / collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye.
“Austen’s last extant letter to Cassandra, her only sister and closest confidante, was written when Austen was ill and near death at age 41. She bequeathed to Cassandra “every thing [sic] of which I may die possessed or which may be here after due to me.” Regrettably, Cassandra later burned a substantial part of her inherited cache of letters. Of the surviving corpus of 164 letters, all of which are in this collection, most illuminating are the 96 written to Cassandra, which offer a kind of prism through which to seek to understand Austen’s psyche. These candid letters are pitted with personal comments that are unquestionably acerbic, spiteful, snobbish, and malicious. Alternatively, Austen is a witty gossip, sensitive to the barometer of fashion, a keen observer c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal).

Syndetics book coverThe vulgar question of money : heiresses, materialism, and the novel of manners from Jane Austen to Henry James / Elsie B. Michie.
“Michie (Louisiana State Univ.) has written an indispensable survey of the figure of the rich woman in the novel of manners from Austen to James. In her excellent opening chapter, the author situates Austen’s characters and plots in the context of 18th-century theorists of moral sentiment such as David Hume and Adam Smith, in doing so considering related concepts such as taste, manners versus virtue, and sympathy. In subsequent chapters, she provides sensitive, eye-opening discussions of Anthony Trollope, Frances Trollope, Margaret Oliphant, and James. Michie demonstrates J. W. Vail Boston University, College of General StudiesCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE).

Syndetics book coverHard times require furious dancing : new poems / by Alice Walker ; foreword and illustrations by Shiloh McCloud.
“Pulitzer Prize-winning author Walker (“The Color Purple”) confronts personal and collective challenges in words that dance, sing, and heal, in this new collection of poems. b&w illustrations.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverWho was Dracula? : Bram Stoker’s trail of blood / Jim Steinmeyer.
“Unlike McNally and Florescu’s In Search of Dracula (1972), which explored the allegedly historical origins of the world’s most famous bloodsucker, Steinmeyer focuses on Stoker’s creation of the dread vampire. Think of it as sort of a literary detective story. How did Stoker, an otherwise mostly undistinguished novelist, seize upon the idea for his greatest work? It turns out we can thank the great Victorian stage actor Henry Irving, whose performance as Mephistopheles inspired the visual look of Stoker’s creation. John Polidori’s seminal 1818 short story, The Vampyre, was also an influence, as Stoker mined popular vampire mythology for his own novel and Eastern European history for the setting of the story. Steinmeyer notes along the way that, despite the assertions of other writers, Stoker knew little about the historical Dracula,Pitt, David Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverDavid Jones in the Great War / Thomas Dilworth ; with illustrations by David Jones.
“Artist and poet David Jones fought in the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres, surviving to write and paint some of the greatest modernist works on war. Now, thanks to Dilworth’s painstaking research, Jones’s story can be told in detail”.(Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverThe odd couple : the curious friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin / Richard Bradford.
“Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin altered the landscape of post-war British fiction and poetry and were among the most popular serious literary writers of the second half of the twentieth century. Respectively, their fiction and poetry particularly works such as Lucky Jim and The Whitsun Weddings have captured the imagination of the reading public and speak to us of something innately English and timeless. Published works only touch the surface of the bizarre and magnetic relationship between these two controversial and eccentric writers. The true, complex story is told here for the first time. Thoroughly researched, and brilliantly composed by Richard Bradford, author of critically acclaimed separate biographies of both writers, and of Martin Amis, The Odd Couple shows us these two literary giants as we have never seen them before. It also shows us how much of their most important work is an index to their relationship. Had they not met they would not have become the writers they were.” ( summary)

Syndetics book coverCharles Dickens’s networks : public transport and the novel / Jonathan H. Grossman.
“Grossman (UCLA) examines three of Dickens’s road novels–The Pickwick Papers, The Old Curiosity Shop, and Little Dorrit. The book does for passenger transport what Richard Menke’s Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems (CH, Jul’08, 45-6028) does for communication. The author argues that of all Victorian writers Dickens best understood the difference a systematized public transportation network was making. Stage coaching began a national unification that was later consolidated by the railroads. Through his portrayal of the evolution of the transportation system, Dickens helped his audience understand the implications of the transformation. Of particular interest is the analysis of how Dickens’s J. D. Vann emeritus, University of North TexasCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE).

Syndetics book coverThe fall of Arthur / by J.R.R. Tolkien ; edited by Christopher Tolkien.
“The first publication of a previously unknown narrative poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Arthur”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding Austen : key concepts in the six novels / Maggie Lane.
“Essentially a dictionary of abstract nouns Jane Austen typically used in her novels, this book is a useful reference for readers unfamiliar with the lexicon of late-18th-century English prose. Students and nonacademic readers may misinterpret the subtleties of Austen’s plots and characters if they assume that Austen meant the same things one does today when using words like “nice,” “genius,” and “liberality.” The book offers 17 very brief chapters, each focusing on a word or cluster of words taken from Austen’s six completed novels. Though the book lacks the interpretive insights of its more analytically framed predecessor, Stuart Tave’s Some Words of Jane Austen (1973), it offers an easy and efficient way for students to make surR. R. Warhol Ohio State UniversityCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)

A blessed companion is a book – Biography picks for June

I entered this quote in my journal without attribution when I was about sixteen and have not been able to trace it since. Never mind, I still think it is very true and biographies are a more blessed variety of book than many others. In them we see the human condition revealed in all its fascinating guises – some good, some bad,some rich,some poor, some sure ,some struggling. This month’s picks tend to favour the privileged end of the spectrum, but they have their troubles too. We feature two stories about families, others on a well-known novelist, a dancer, a politician, and the unconventional master of ceremonies for big British occasions. Colourful threads in life’s rich tapestry indeed !!

Syndetics book coverOlivia Manning : a woman at war / Deirdre David.
“Deirdre David makes a strong and deeply admiring case for Manning as an artist who broke the mould of the women’s novel by writing about war from a new perspective, capturing its dislocation and fragmentariness through the portrait of a marriage; domesticating it, but not in comforting ways.” –The Scotsman “[A] clear-eyed, unsentimental and riveting biography.” –Sunday Herald “Deirdre David makes a strong and deeply admiring case for Manning as an artist who broke the mould of the women’s novel by writing about war from a new perspective … [a] timely reassessment of Manning’s status.” Evening Standard

Syndetics book coverIn spite of everything : a memoir / Susan Gregory Thomas.In Spite of Everything: A Memoir
“Thomas delivers a surprisingly funny memoir about a mother’s heartbreaking struggle to survive divorce and save her kids from reliving her own damaged childhood.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt’s all going terribly wrong : organised chaos at Royal, National and military celebrations over 45 years / Michael Parker, KCVO, CBE.
“Who would have guessed in the 1960s that Michael Parker, a typical young Army officer, would turn into one of the most remarkable showmen of his generation? ‘It’s All Going Terribly Wrong’ is a wonderfully funny account of the many different events he has staged around the world” (Summary from

Syndetics book coverThe Devonshires : the story of a family and a nation / Roy Hattersley.
“The story of the Devonshires is the story of Britain.”The Devonshires” reveals how the dynasty made and lost fortunes, fought and fornicated, built great houses, patronised the arts and pioneered the railways, made great scientific discoveries, and, in the end, came to terms with changing times. It is popular history at its very best.”–Publisher’s website.

Syndetics book coverLetters my grandfather wrote me : family origins / Bryan Crawford.
“The Douglases are traced from 100 A.D. with ancestral background in Ireland around 300 B.C. There is an American branch from the 18th century with connections to the U.S. war of independence and the anti-slave movement. The Crawfords are shown in their early history around the 12th century, then since the early 19th Century in Scotland Ireland and New Zealand. The Clarks are shown since the mid 19thcentury but with strong Huguenot roots in the 17th century. The Gagens are traced from Germany in the 17th century to Canada and America in the 19th, where Dan Gagen married into the Chippewa tribe. The book is written by Cyril Gagens grandson who settked in New Zealand with his mid-wife mother in the early 20th century. The last chapter is autobiographical with an in-depth discussion on Social Control and the ethics of its use in modern Britain and New Zealand.” (Summary from

Syndetics book coverNot for turning : the life of Margaret Thatcher / Robin Harris.
“Margaret Thatcher is one of the most significant political figures of the twentieth centurya Prime Minister whose impact on modern British history is comparable only to Winston Churchills. Like them or not, her radical policies made Britain the country it is today. And like her or not, Margaret Thatchers legacy remains a massive political force, responsible for laying the groundwork for New Labour, Tony Blair, David Cameron, and being a strong ally to the United States throughout the Cold War. Now Robin Harris, for many years Mrs. Thatchers speechwriter, close adviser and the draftsman of both volumes of her autobiography, has written the definitive book about this indomitable woman”(Summary from

Syndetics book coverThe cooked seed : a memoir / Anchee Min.
“In her excoriating examination of the legacy of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, novelist Min (Pearl of China, etc.) offers a sharp, moving contrast between American and Chinese attitudes about human worth and dignity. Raised in Shanghai in a hardscrabble family of four children and educated parents who were denounced as “bourgeois,” Min was plucked as a teenager from a labor camp in 1974 by Madame Mao’s henchmen to appear in propaganda films. Min was thought to have “proletarian looks” (weather-beaten face, muscular body). However, with the swift change in the political wind, Min and her family were publicly shamed and thrown into years of poverty and ill health, sharing one room and a bathroom with 20 neighbors. Min, a hard worker, natural caretaker, and loyal to friends, managed to convince the Art Institute of Chicago that she was an artist and spoke English, though she nearly got deported once she arrived in Chicago at age 27 in 1984 because she spoke no English at all. Her memoir methodically reconstructs those painstaking first years in Chicago, living on a pittance, scrounging for work, amazed at what she considered luxurious dorm living, and guilt-ridden at her inability to rescue her family back home. Along the way, she offers candid observations on American naivete, casual waste, and lack of Chinese stick-to-itness, yet writes poignantly of being treated with decency and warmth, inspiring her to work harder. Watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and reading Jane Eyre helped pave her yellow brick road to literary success, as she delineates captivatingly in this work. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGreat British adventurers / by Nicholas Storey.
“Great British Adventurers’ sets out succinct, but interesting, sketches of some lesser known Great British Adventurers, starting with Edward John Trelawny, and James Brooke, The White Rajah of Sarawak; Jane Digby, traveller and adventuress and all the way through to Krystyna Skarbek-Granville, heroic WWII Special Operations Executive agent.” (Summary from

Syndetics book coverThis boy / Alan Johnson.
” Johnson’s childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all… This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan’s mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child. Played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, the story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the Swinging 60s, to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.” (globalbooks)

Syndetics book coverAgony and ecstasy : my life in dance / Daria Klimentová with Graham Watts.
“Daria Klimentová has been one of Britains best-loved ballerinas for two decades, having danced at the Scottish Ballet and then since 1996 as a Principal and Senior Principal at English National Ballet. Daria was born in the former Czechoslovakia and lived under the rule of the Soviet Union until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. She initially trained as a young member of the Czech Olympic Gymnastics Squad before transferring to ballet. After a year as a principal dancer in the Czech National Ballet, she moved to dance with the Cape Ballet Company in South Africa, where she witnessed the end of apartheid. In her 40s, at an age when most ballerinas have retired, Daria continues to captivate audiences with her impeccable technique and free flowing natural grandeur.”(Summary from


Syndetics book coverAn exacting heart : the story of Hephzibah Menuhin / Jacqueline Kent.
“Born in 1920 in San Francisco Hephzibah Menuhin was, like her world-renowned violinist brother Yehudi, a child prodigy. She had a musical gift most people only dream of. Her refusal to be defined by it led her to reinvent herself not once, but twice in her remarkable life. What makes a woman walk out on her children? What makes her turn her back on a brilliant artistic career? In portraying the life and times of this fascinating and mercurial woman, Jacqueline Kent examines not only the consequences of possessing great talent, but the costs and rewards of gambling for high emotional stakes” (Summary from

Syndetics book coverMusic to move the stars : a life with Stephen / Jane Hawking.
“The courage and determination that enabled Stephen Hawking to confound the stopwatch of his wasting paralysis and break through the most challenging boundaries of physics had a converse side. Encouraging him and caring for him meant not only the willing suppresion of his wife Jane’s own academic interests but also seemed to demand the stifling of her personality, despite the delight and fulfillment she found in her children.” “With his reputation soaring, life became even more strained as Stephen’s involvement with the nurse led to the break-up of the family and his subsequent remarriage.” “In this candid, poignant, often humorous memoir, Jane Hawking confronts not only the complexities and painful dilemmas of her first marriage, but the potentially corrosive effects of power generated by wealth and fame as well” (BOOK JACKET)

New Graphic Novels for June

Here are our latest graphic novels. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe girl with the dragon tattoo. Book 1 / adapted by Denise Mina ; art by Leonardo Manc and Andrea Mutti ; based on the novel by Stieg Larsson.
“Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. Years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. Mikael hits a dead end in the case, so to help, he brings in Lisbeth Salander, a fearless pierced and tattooed punk prodigy. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption. Written by Denise Mina (John Constantine, Hellblazer) with art by Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti, Book 2 of Stieg Larsson’s international publishing phenomenon The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo picks up the story following Lisbeth’s final confrontation with her “guardian,” Nils Bjurman.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBatman, Incorporated. Volume 1, Demon Star / Grant Morrison, writer ; Chris Burnham…[et al.], artists.
“Eisner Award-winning fan-favorite writer Grant Morrison concludes the Batman epic he began nearly a decade ago in BATMAN & SON, pitting the entirity of Batman Incorporated against the Levianthan organization headed by the Dark Knights former romantic interest Talia al Ghul. As Leviathan enacts a plan that threatens the world, Batman and his allies must fight against the rising storm–but not everyone will make it out of the encounter alive. Collects BATMAN INCORPORATED #0-6” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood riddance : an illustrated memoir of divorce / Cynthia Copeland ; colors by Frank M. Young.
“When you think you live in a Norman Rockwell painting – married 18 years, three kids, beautiful old house in the country, successful career as a writer – you don’t expect there’s another side to the canvas. Until you read a lovesick e-mail to your husband… that didn’t come from you! Good Riddance is an honest and funny graphic memoir about suffering through and surviving divorce. Cynthia Copeland chronicles the deep pain, confusion, awkwardness, and breakthroughs she experiences in the ‘new normal’ as a wife who’s been deceived, a mom who’s now single, a divorcee who’s dating, and a woman who’s on her own figuring out what she truly wants from her life. Copeland tells her story with an emotional candor and spot-on humor that makes Good Riddance poignant, painful, and hilarious all at once.” –from publisher (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe summit of the gods. 2 / script, Yumemakura Baku ; art, Jiro Taniguchi ; [translation, Kumar Sivasubramanian].
“‘Because it’s there.’ George Herbert Leigh Mallory is said to have given this in reply to the question ‘Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?’ On his third expedition in June 1924, Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared on the North-East ridge during their ascent, having been sighted only a few hundred metres from the summit. In 1993, in a small Nepalese store, Makoto Fukamachi, photographer for a Japanese expedition to conquer Mt Everest, stumbles across an old camera — a Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special. Could it be Mallory’s camera? Did it hold the secret of whether Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit?”–Publisher’s web site (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverPunisher : nightmare / writer, Scott M. Gimple ; artist, Mark Texeira.
“A veteran home from a foreign war. A family gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A familiar sounding story to Frank Castle. And a series of events that will give rise to a foe that will challenge the Punisher as never before. Written by Scott Gimple, writer and producer on the Walking Dead television series and illustrated by Mark Texiera. Collecting: Punisher: Nightmare 1-5” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Darkness : rebirth. Volume 2 / writer, David Hine ; artist, Jeremy Haun.
“”BREAKING DARK” – Jackie Estacado has made a lot of enemies, but he has no idea how powerful the gangster Balakov has become. Without the Darkness at his command, will Jackie be able to protect his family? David Hine (Darkness: Four Horsemen, Bulletproof Coffin) and Jeremy Haun (Artifacts, Detective Comics) question everything you think you know about the Top Cow universe. Collects The Darkness #106-110.” (Syndetics summary)

Science Fiction and Fantasy for June

Below is a list of our latest Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverElsewhens / Melanie Rawn.
“Touchstone, the magical theater troupe, continues to build audiences. But Cayden is increasingly troubled by his “elsewhens,” the unled moments when he is plunged into visions of the possible futures. He fears that his Fae gift will forever taint his friendships; his friends fear that his increasing distance will destroy him. But worldly success follows them-an apparent loss in the Trials leads to Touchstone being selected to travel to the Continent with a Royal Embassy to collect Prince Ashgar’s new bride. They are the first theater artists to appear outside Albeyn for at least seventy years-for magic is suspect and forbidden elsewhere, and the Kingdom’s easy race mixing and magic use horrifies the people they are to travel among.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHalo : silentium / Greg Bear.
“In the last years of the Forerunner empire, chaos rules. The Flood–a horrifying shape-changing parasite–has arrived in force, aided by unexpected allies. Internal strife within the ecumene has desperately weakened Forerunner defenses.Too little, too late, the legal rate of Juridicals is only now investigating possible crimes by the Master Builder and others. Evidence-gathering agents known collectively as Catalog have been dispatched to collect testimony from the Librarian and both Didacts: the Ur-Didact, treacherously abandoned in a Flood-infested system, and the Bornstellar Didact, who accompanies the Librarian as she preserves specimens against the dire possibility of Halo extermination. Facing the imminent collapse of their civilization, the Librarian and the Ur-Didact reveal what they know about the relationship between the long-vanished Precursors and the Flood. The Precursors created many technological species, including humanity and the Forerunners. But the roots of the Flood may be found in an act of enormous barbarity, carried out beyond our galaxy ten million years before…Because of that barbarism, a greater evil looms. Only the Ur-Didact and the Librarian–husband and wife pushed into desperate conflict–hold the keys to a solution. Facing the consequences of a mythic tragedy, one of them must now commit the greatest atrocity of all time–to prevent an insane evil from dominating the entire universe”– Provided by publisher (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverClementine / Cherie Priest.
“Maria Isabella Boyd’s success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty…she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago. Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn’t pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials–essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay. Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave who’s been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea. And now it s Maria’s job to go get him.” ( summary)

Syndetics book coverThe king’s blood / Daniel Abraham.
“War casts its shadow over the lands that dragons once ruled. Only the courage of a young woman with the mind of a gambler and loyalty to no one stands between hope and universal darkness. The high and powerful will fall, the despised and broken shall rise up and everything will be remade. And an old, broken-hearted warrior and an apostate priest will begin a terrible journey with an impossible goal: destroy a Goddess before she eats the world.” ( summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for June

Below is a list of our latest contemporary fiction. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe 9th girl / Tami Hoag.
“Hoag’s immense popularity 15 consecutive best-sellers is based not only on her well-oiled, finely calibrated plots but also on her sensitivity to the painful interface between family troubles and crime and the complex demands women detectives face, especially one of her most popular characters, small but mighty Nikki Liska of Minneapolis. Last seen in Prior Bad Acts (2006) with her partner, Sam Kovac, Liska is a single mother currently worried about her caring and artistic 15-year-old son, Kyle. Guilt and fear build as she and Kovacs work around the clock to identify a horribly mutilated young woman found dead on New Year’s Eve and figure out if she is the ninth victim of the serial killer they sardonically call Doc Holiday. As the investigation veers awfully close to Liska’s home, Hoag makes shrewd use of the roles cell phones and social media play in teens’ lives as forums for bonding and bullying. Hoag’s prose is martial-arts quick and precise, her humor is high-voltage, and her insights into the misery of high school, the toxicity of divorce, and the extreme psychosis of a serial killer are knowing and thought-provoking. HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: Liska and Kovac are huge draws for Hoag fans, and Hoag’s latest, one of her very best, will be promoted with major radio and blog tours and abundant advertising and press coverage.–Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverNo way back / Andrew Gross.
“Early in this fevered stand-alone suspense novel from bestseller Gross (15 Seconds), Wendy Gould, a married woman with two stepchildren and literary ambitions, meets Curtis Kitchner, a handsome freelance journalist, in a Manhattan hotel bar. Against her better instincts, Wendy accompanies Curtis up to his room, where an intruder shoots Curtis dead. Wendy manages to kill the intruder in self-defense, but she goes on the run after a badge on the man’s body identifies him as a Homeland Security agent. Wendy’s fate becomes entwined with that of Lauritzia Velez, a pretty 24-year-old Mexican woman being hunted by vicious killers employed by drug cartel honcho Eduardo Cano as part of a vendetta against Lauritzia’s father. Wendy’s frantic attempts to avoid being captured or killed before she can discover a way to exonerate herself are somehow tied to the efforts to murder Lauritzia. Narrow escapes, tense situations, and false clues abound as Gross spins the action to an exciting, if improbable, ending. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBlackpeak Station / Holly Ford.
“Four generations of the Black family have farmed Blackpeak Station. Next in line, or so she believes, is Charlotte Black, stubborn as rock and unbiddable as the weather. But standing in her way are 150 years of tradition, an older brother, and a father who believes that daughters run families, not farms. To make her childhood dream of owning the family property come true, she’ll have to be as tough as the mountains themselves. There can be no room for romance in Charlotte’s life. Or so she thinks, until it arrives at her door. Can she have both love and land, or must she choose? Can Charlotte learn to trust her heart?” (Random House Books NZ summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of dreams / Tim Severin.
“A haunting premonition . . . A deadly betrayal. Frankia 780AD: Sigwulf, a minor Saxon prince, is saved from execution after his family is slaughtered by the ruthless King Offa of Mercia. Sigwulf is exiled to the Frankish court of King Carolus, the future Charlemagne.
He gains the friendship of some – Count Hroudland, Carolus’s powerful and ambitious nephew but – mysteriously – several attempts are made on Sigwulf’s life. When he obtains a Book of Dreams, a rare text giving understanding to their meaning, he attracts the attention of Carolus himself. But the Book proves to be a slippery guide in a world of treachery and double dealing. Sent into Spain to spy on the Saracens, Sigwulf becomes caught between loyalties; either he honours his debt to new friends among the Saracens, or he serves his patron Count Hroudland in his quest for glory, gold and even the Grail itself . . .” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe view from penthouse B / Elinor Lipman.
“After losing her divorce settlement in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, Margot settles into a new penthouse in Greenwich Village with her widowed, jobless sister, Gwen-Laura Schmidt, and Anthony Sarno, a gay, recently laid-off, 20-something financier. The result, in Lipman’s thin 11th novel (after The Family Man), is a makeshift homey boarding house for lost souls. After Margot’s ex-husband Charles Pierrepont is released from a cushy prison, where he was serving time for inseminating patients at his OBGYN clinic with his own sperm, he moves into her building and begins to worm his way back into her life. Chaste Gwen-Laura decides to get back into the dating pool, but most of her suitors are more interested in sex than companionship. Meanwhile dynamic interloper Anthony tries to break the sisters out of their stalled state. Lipman’s choppy dialogue rarely delves beneath the surface, and for an author known for her sense of humor, this novel is sorely void of laughs. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly) (Courtesy from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe Cherry Cola Book Club
“Cherico, Mississippi: population, 5,000; home to a gourmet cafe, funky hardware store, vintage antiques shop, and an underutilized library that is struggling to stay open. A newly minted librarian, Maura Beth Mayhew, landed the directorship of the Cherico Public Library straight out of graduate school. Now, six years later, her dream job has become a nightmare as she is presented with a three-month deadline to get her circulation and membership numbers up or else. Thus is born the Cherry Cola Book Club, a cute name for a serious effort to save Cherico’s library. As Maura enlists various townspeople to join the discussion group, where they deconstruct classic southern literature while delving into potluck suppers showcasing classic southern cuisine, her hugely successful efforts go roundly mocked and criticized by the recalcitrant councilmen. In the quest to change the officials’ opinion and hold on to this valued resource, vibrant friendships transform the small but appreciative community. Lee’s buoyant David-versus-Goliath tale zestfully illuminates a real problem confronting libraries and cities of all sizes.–Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

New Gardening books for June

This month we have books covering visual histories of beautiful gardens  and those teaching design principles. Enjoying your garden means engaging the senses  and finding natural pleasurable ways to get things done.  For a bit of fun learn what attracts birds to your garden, build a  treehouse  or garden in your pyjamas.

Syndetics book coverLandprints : the landscape designs of Bernard Trainor / by Susan Heeger ; photography by Jason Liske and Marion Brenner.
“Australian-born landscape designer Bernard Trainor has made it his life’s work to capture the wild soul of his adopted home of Northern California.  Across airy hilltops, craggy seasides, and other one-of-a-kind tracts, Trainor applies simple, understated frames to rugged natural panoramas, the better to bring them into focus. His understated yet powerful landscapes draw inspiration from local plants, regional history, and the contours of the site. Designed to engage all of the senses—the sound of water, the smell of sage—Trainor’s gardens create sensory memories that foster a deep connection to the land.Landprintsshowcases ten of his most ambitious and inspiring gardens through gorgeous photography and detailed project descriptions.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverOrganic gardening : the natural no-dig way / Charles Dowding.
“Bob Flowerdew’s Organic Gardening Bible” is a comprehensive and invaluable guide to gardening in a more natural, sustainable and pleasurable way. Bob has been gardening organically for over 30 years – he knows all there is to know – and he packs this book with advice, top tips, the best varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables and more, in a typically no-nonsense, practical and anecdotal way. He explains how to get rid of pests and diseases but encourage beneficial wildlife, how to manage weeds, how to grow for flavour and quality using the easiest means and how to plan your garden so that it looks beautiful and runs efficiently throughout the year. This book is a must for organic gardening novices and experts alike.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe elegant garden : architecture and landscape of the world’s finest gardens / Johann Kräftner. 
“Ambitious in scope and lavishly illustrated, this book surveys every period in garden design and landscape architecture, from classical antiquity and the medieval cloisters to the latest trends in modern design.  From the Roman gardens at Hadrian’s villa to the modern work of landscape architects, historical and contemporary gardens are showcased with special attention to the relationship between gardens and houses.  This gorgeously photographed book will captivate travelers and garden admirers alike, and will inspire gardeners themselves with fresh ideas for design, horticulture, and use.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverVeg street : grow your own community / Naomi Schillinger.
 “A few years ago, Naomi Schillinger got together with her neighbours to start a community gardening scheme. Today, they live in a street in which no less than 100 residents have turned their front gardens over to growing their own fruit and veg: lettuces, leeks and beetroot in raised beds, teepees billowing with sweet peas and runner beans, rhubarb by the door… Whether you live in a rented flat with a window box, a house with a front garden – if you have access to a bit of pavement or decide to reclaim some unloved or forgotten corner – there will be ideas in this book which will encourage you to have a go at growing your own fruit and veg (and flowers) throughout the year; and, in so doing, create your own mini Eden” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book cover10 principles of garden design
“A lovely garden can please the eye in the same way as a beautiful painting can, but the advantage of a garden is that it can also involve all the other senses. Covering all aspects of garden design from planning its configuration, to the mixtures of heights and colours that will work together, to choosing the types of plants which allow the garden to transcend the seasons, experienced garden designer Susie White guides the way. 10 Principles of Garden Design provides an introduction to the field for students planning to study garden design or beginning gardeners.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverA practical illustrated guide to attracting & feeding garden birds : the complete books of bird feeders, bird tables, birdbaths, nest boxes and backyard birdwatching / Jen Green.
“Birds are a delight in the garden, not only for their beauty and birdsong, but also because they eat many harmful garden pests. This book contains a wealth of feeding ideas for backyard birds, from seeds, grains and peanuts to fruits, suet cakes and fat balls, and suggestions for the best flowers, shrubs, hedges and trees to plant to encourage birds into the garden.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverGardening from the ground up : getting started with edible gardens / [published by Penguin Books]. 
“Easy steps to homegrown happiness . Growing your own food is an incredibly satisfying way to get fresh ingredients on your table. But it can be daunting knowing where to start. . Gardening from the Ground Up is the down-to-earth guide to starting and maintaining an edible garden.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverEasy organic gardening and moon planting / Lyn Bagnall.
“Organic gardening leaves your patch of earth in a better condition than you found it by working with nature rather than against it. A practicable and better alternative to chemical-dependent and environmentally unsustainable cultivation practices, organic gardening prevents soil damage, and results in more nutritious food, and fewer contaminated waterways and poison-resistant pests.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe vegetable patch : tips and advice for growing your own / Isobel Carlson.
“Get inspired to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs with this practical and accessible guide to seasonal edible planting. Find out when to plant runner beans, where best to store your produce and how to make cider from your apple harvest. With diary pages for recording your own notes, this pocket-sized companion is an indispensable piece of gardening kit for the green-fingered – homemade produce has never tasted so good.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverKeep out! : build your own backyard clubhouse / Lee Mothes.
“With this guide in hand, any family can easily build their own customized backyard playhouse, clubhouse, treehouse, or fort. Charming designs and illustrations make the process fun, and step-by-step instructions ensure success. Lee Mothes covers everything you need to know, whether you have previous building experience or not. Youll love building a clubhouse with your kids, and your kids will love playing in it for years to come” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverGardening in your pyjamas : horticultural enlightenment for obsessive dawn raiders / Helen Yemm.
“This is the perfect book for you if you are one of the many people who feel that gardening could be your ultimate pleasure if only you knew just that little bit more about it. Helen Yemm manages to strike a happy balance between giving you enough information to get you going and not so much that it scares you or puts you off entirely. She dispenses invaluable advice, minus the mumbo jumbo, with refreshing humour and a clear understanding that not everyone has the wherewithal, in terms of time and finances, to spend every possible moment in the garden.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe good life : four glorious seasons in my country garden / Sarah O’Neil.
“Four glorious seasons in a Kiwi country garden: ‘Discovering how to be a country bumpkin and rub off some of that city-slicker shine has been an interesting journey with a lot of learning things the hard way and definitely a lot of laughter, hard work and a whole lot of fun. But the best part is we now have a flourishing veggie garden supplying most of our vegetable wants and needs. Life couldn’t be more perfect.”(Syndetics Summary)

The best of History for June

We give you the pick of the crop for this month’s History Recent Pick. Our favorite new books deal with how Romans handled disasters, how the Tudors came to power in England, and a history of Greenwich village. We also have selected for you books dealing with life before WWI (for Downton Abbey fans), how the Iron Curtain came crashing down, and the peculiar life and times of a spy’s wife.

Syndetics book cover1913 : the world before the Great War / Charles Emmerson.
“Forever in the shadow of the war which followed, 1913 is usually seen as little more than the antechamber to apocalypse. Our perspectives narrowed by hindsight, the world of that year is reduced to its most frivolous features – last summers in grand aristocratic residences, a flurry of extravagant social engagements – or its most destructive ones: the unresolved rivalries of the great European powers, the anxieties of a period of accelerated change, the social fear of revolution, the violence in the Balkans. Our images of the times are too often dominated by the faded pastels of upper-class indulgence or by the unmitigated blackness of a world rushing headlong into the abyss of an inevitable war. 1913: The World before the Great War proposes a strikingly different portrait, returning the world in that year to its contemporary freshness, its future still undecided, its outlook still open. Told through the stories of twenty-three cities – Europe’s capitals at the height of their global reach, the emerging metropolises of America, the imperial cities of Asia and Africa, the boomtowns of Australia and the Americas – Charles Emmerson presents a panoramic view of a world crackling with possibilities, from St Petersburg to Shanghai and from Los Angeles to Jerusalem. What emerges is a rich and complex world, more familiar than we expect, connected as never before, on the threshold of events which would change the course of global history.”–Publisher’s description. (courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe village : 400 years of beats and bohemians, radicals and rogues : a history of Greenwich Village / John Strausbaugh.
“In this sprawling, crowded, biography on one of New York City’s more alluring and storied neighborhoods, former New York Times commentator Strausbaugh traces the history of Greenwich Village from its beginning as bucolic countryside to its current incarnation as both tourist destination and astringent residence for the elite. In between, Strausbaugh introduces a dizzying array of historical figures and events so salacious the book reads more like one long gossip column full of sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, art, music, the mob, and more. None of this is a bad thing; for long stretches, the pages practically turn themselves. Along the way, readers are fed fascinating little tidbits and images: Washington Square Park as a boggy mass grave site for the city’s paupers and Yellow fever victims, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her sister Norma teaching themselves to swear while darning socks, a drunk Jackson Pollock’s frequent violent outbursts at the Cedar Street Tavern, and much, much more. No citation will do the book justice; it deserves to be read while walking below 14th Street silently mourning the loss of a neighborhood that has given so much by way of art and culture. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBosworth : the birth of the Tudors / Chris Skidmore.
“On the morning of 22 August 1485, in fields several miles from Bosworth, two armies faced each other, ready for battle. The might of Richard III’s army was pitted against the inferior forces of the upstart pretender to the crown, Henry Tudor, a 28-year-old Welshman who had just arrived back on British soil after fourteen years in exile. Yet this was to be a fight to the death – only one man could survive; only one could claim the throne.
It would become one of the most legendary battles in English history: the only successful invasion since Hastings, it was the last time a king died on the battlefield. But BOSWORTH is much more than the account of the dramatic events of that fateful day in August. It is a tale of brutal feuds and deadly civil wars, and the remarkable rise of the Tudor family from obscure Welsh gentry to the throne of England – a story that began sixty years earlier with Owen Tudor’s affair with Henry V’s widow, Katherine of Valois.
Drawing on eyewitness reports, newly discovered manuscripts and the latest archaeological evidence, Chris Skidmore vividly recreates this battle-scarred world in an epic saga of treachery and ruthlessness, death and deception and the birth of the Tudor dynasty.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRoman disasters / Jeremy Toner.
“Blending contemporary sociological theory with historical accounts, Cambridge Classicist Toner covers the many disasters that afflicted the world of the Roman Empire: earthquakes, fires, floods, famine, plague, and war. Although one chapter is devoted to the brutality of conflict, he finds little distinction between natural and man-made catastrophes in terms of effects. The ancient narrative of disaster illustrates how pagan and Christian Romans interpreted events: both felt that disasters were divinely instigated. Pagans were inclined to see “political and social negligence…as the underlying cause”; Christians saw disasters as “a simple metaphor for the tortures of hell.” Punishment for collective sin and warning of imminent judgment were also popular themes. Unlike pagans, Christians used disasters as an opportunity for the duty of charity. Toner’s analysis of internal reactions to disaster is intriguing and shows that human beings react in much the same way today as they did 2,000 years ago. It’s intentional: throughout he compares current responses to events which “destroy order” with classical ones; from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius to the Pacific tsunami of 2004, the physical and mental toll on individuals and societies is shown. Toner brings us closer to the people of the past as well as shedding light on our contemporary reactions to disaster”. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverIron Curtain : the crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 / Anne Applebaum.
“At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: communism. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.Applebaum describes in devastating detail how political parties, the church, the media, young people’s organizations – the institutions of civil society on every level – were quickly eviscerated. She explains how the secret police services were organized, how the media came to be dominated by communists, and how all forms of opposition were undermined and destroyed. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists’ tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the choices people had to make – to fight, to flee, or to collaborate.Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinized. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization of cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality and strange aesthetics. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal world began, an exceptional work of moral reckoning and a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies can be.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMrs Zigzag : the extraordinary life of a secret agent’s wife / Betty Chapman & Ronald L. Bonewitz.
“When Betty Farmer married double agent Eddie Chapman, Agent Zigzag, she knew her life would never be ordinary. Yet even before her marriage to Eddie, her life involved incendiary bombs, serial killers, film roles and love affairs with flying aces. After her marriage she coped with Eddie’s mistresses, his criminal activities, separations and personal traumas. Coming from humble origins, Betty would, in time, own a beauty business, a health farm and a castle in Ireland, become the friend and confidante of film stars and an African president, and the honoured guest of Middle Eastern royalty. In an age where women were still very much second-class, she became a perfect example of what, in spite of everything, was possible.Much has been written about Eddie Chapman, films have been made, television programmes produced. Yet alongside Eddie for most of his extraordinary life was an equally extraordinary woman: Mrs Zigzag. This book tells the story of the Chapmans’ often fraught but ultimately loving relationship for the first time.” (Syndetics summary)