Music & Movies Newsletter for April

Fast cars, guns, awkward weddings, inaccurate but entertaining historical thrillers and everyone’s favourite medieval sword and sorcery epic are just some of the treats on offer in this month’s Music & Movies selections. Also, be sure to catch Searching for Sugarman if you haven’t already. You couldn’t find a finer cockle-warming music doco, unless you somehow stumbled across Anvil: the story of Anvil.

Library News

DVDs

New DVDs for March include Season 2 of the epic Fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’; Brad Pitts George V. Higgins adaptation ‘Killing Them Softly’; acclaimed music documentary ‘Searching For Sugarman’; the feel-good French smash ‘The intouchables’; & Ben Affleck’s Oscar Best Picture winner ‘Argo’….

Cover imageHit & run.
“Charles Bronson is a former bank robber wheelman who ratted out his gang and is living under the assumed name in the Federal Witness Protection Program. He goes by Charlie, and played by the goofy, buffed-out Dax Shepard he makes a charming everyman hero in the amusing and adventurous action comedy Hit & Run. Shepard also wrote the script and codirected what was obviously a labor of love (his real-life partner Kristen Bell plays his onscreen girlfriend), and he shows some genuine chops as a wrangler of rapid-fire witty dialogue as well as car-chase action choreography. Charlie’s brainy girlfriend Annie teaches at the local college and knows nothing about his past life…When Annie needs to get to Los Angeles for an important job interview, Charlie uncovers the muscle car he’s been hiding in the barn and offers to get her there in a flash, even though it may mean uncovering his secret life in the process…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageKilling them softly.
“There’s plenty of grit, street life, gangland lingo, and nuts-and-bolts criminal insiderism, but the overall tone is more akin to a David Mamet play than a rollicking Hollywood shoot-’em-up. The movie is an adaptation of the fine George V. Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade, and it nicely transposes the tone and delivery of Higgins’s spare prose into a visual style that keeps a long, lingering gaze on its unlovable bad guys. It also holds an attentive ear to the rhythm and pattern of their speech, turning the extended stretches of dialogue into unique tableaux of stylish exchanges between hit men, lowlife punks, and middle management gangsters… Brad Pitt is a sleek and enigmatic presence as Jackie Cogan, a professional killer who’s as exasperated by the stupidity around him as he is obsessed with the details of doing his job right. After an odd couple of hapless losers (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, who are a hoot) hit a mob-run card game, Jackie is called in to clean up the mess…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageAfter the wedding.
“Equal parts weepy drama and soap opera, After the Wedding is a beautifully filmed story centering on Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen, Casino Royale), a Danish man working at a orphanage in Bombay. Just when funds have run desperately low, Jorgen (Rolf Lassgård)–a wealthy benefactor–promises to donate millions of dollars to the orphanage. But there’s a catch. Jacob must collect the funds himself in Copenhagen… and attend the wedding of the eccentric millionaire’s daughter. But once Jacob meets the benefactor’s wife Helene (played by a radiant Sidse Babett Knudsen), it’s obvious to the viewer that the two have a complicated history. It’s also likely that her daughter Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen) most probably is theirs. So why did Jorgen invite Jacob to Anna’s wedding? Does he know Jacob is Anna’s father? Is something nefarious in the works? The thought-provoking film was Denmark’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Academy Awards…The relationships here are messy and often uncomfortable. But they also ring true to life…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe intouchables.
“Driss (Omar Sy), a Senegalese man living in a Paris slum, applies for a job as caretaker to a wealthy quadriplegic, but all he wants is to get his paper stamped so he can get benefits. Despite his lack of qualifications, he lands the job because of his attitude: Philippe (François Cluzet), the quadriplegic, wants a caretaker who will look at him without pity. As Driss reluctantly learns to move, feed, and clean Philippe, the two men discover a blunt but vital humour that not only bridges the cultural and class divide between them, but gives Philippe a renewed joy in life. It’s easy to see what made Untouchable such a massive success in France; the movie has the sweet sincerity and uplifting conclusion that make for a classic feel-good experience. The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, and Sy–who won the French equivalent of the Oscar for his role–is a dynamic and charismatic performer, while Cluzet’s understated performance conveys Philippe’s frustrations. The movie doesn’t dig too deeply into the struggles of life as a quadriplegic or the struggles of life among the inner-city poor, so when Untouchable ends it’s not likely to leave a lasting impression, but that doesn’t get in the way of its immediate charm and warmth…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageArgo.
“Based on real events, the dramatic thriller Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played–information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageGame of thrones. The complete second season.
“Based on A Clash of Kings, the second novel in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, season two of Game of Thrones admirably encapsulates the sprawling War of the Five Kings, which pits the malevolent Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) against a host of contenders for the throne of the late King Robert (Mark Addy), including his brothers Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Renly (Gethin Anthony). Further complicating matters is the appointment of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) as Hand of the King to Joffrey, which sets off an intense behind-the-scenes power struggle with his siblings, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who carry on an incestuous affair. Meanwhile, there’s also the issue of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her three dragons; Daenerys spends much of season two making her way across the Red Waste in order to launch her own plan of conquest. These central conflicts are supported by a host of secondary storylines… That Game of Thrones manages to not only weave together all of these myriad threads but also make them compelling and fully realized is among the keys to the show’s astonishing popularity, as are the performances, which, along with the direction and writing, help to make the series the best costume fantasy drama ever produced on television…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSearching for Sugar Man.
“Rodriguez, outside of a circle of pre-existing fans, might not be the most famous musician on the planet. But he makes a fascinating subject for the documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Put together in part by the producer of the excellent Man On Wire, Searching For Sugar Man centres around a flop album released by Rodriguez, which went on to build an audience over the decades that followed. But what happened to Rodriguez himself? That’s where the film comes in, and it’s an engaging tale it has to tell. It’s a terrific documentary, this. Touching, mysterious and centred on a genuinely intriguing subject matter, there’s a lot to grab your interest here. After all, is Rodriguez a myth, the film asks? If not, is he aware of the impact his music has had? The film plays its cards very close to its chest, and is all the better for it. There’s material beyond the film to be found on the disc, and it digs deeper in the story as part and parcel of that. So you get an interesting commentary track, as well as a making of piece as well…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageBully.
“From Sundance Award-winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, comes a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary following five kids and families over the course of a school year. Offering insight into different facets of America’s bullying crisis, the stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate and often shocking glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices, this is a powerful and inspiring film that every educator, parent and teenager should see…” (From Amazon.com description)

Cover imageSilk. [Series 1].
“Single, attractive, thirty something Martha Costello is a brilliant, passionate defence barister with the unwavering belief that all are innocent until proven guilty. Martha is about to apply to become Queen’s Counsel; she is applying for ‘Silk’, but she’s not the only one at her chambers– Clive Reader is charming, ruthless and dangerous, and knows how to play the game– Only one of them will be made QC and Senior Clerk, Billy Lamb, is the man with everyone’s lives and careers in his hands. Martha’s conscience and faith in the criminal justice system are tested to breaking point as she deals with clients who are good, bad and downright evil…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSleep tight.
“Spanish psychological horror from director Jaume Balagueró. The film follows César (Luis Tosar), the concierge to the residents at a wealthy apartment building. César seems extraordinarily helpful and polite and is consequently adored by the residents, but little do they know that he is in fact a man so incapable of happiness and human feeling that he makes it his goal in life to make others as miserable as he is. He focuses much of his attention on Clara (Martra Etura), a beautiful young woman whose vivacity and spontaneous sense of happiness make her his opposite in almost every way. With his usual blend of underhand tricks, which include sneaking into her apartment to rig unpleasant surprises and even hiding beneath her bed, César begins to unnerve Clara. When her boyfriend Marcos (Alberto San Juan) unexpectedly returns the situation quickly escalates towards a point of no return…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageTwo little boys.
“The film follows Nige and his best mate Deano’s riotous misadventures as they struggle with their imploding friendship which has been put under pressure by an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star. Nige chucks the dead body in a nearby roadworks hole and runs to Deano for help. Trouble is, Deano’s not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis…” (Syndetics summary)

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Popular Music

The selection of new books on popular music this month are all rock legends’ biographies. They include a much-missed Whitney Houston, John Lennon and Marc Bolan. Have a browse!!

Syndetics book coverRemembering Whitney : my story of love, loss, and the night the music stopped / Cissy Houston with Lisa Dickey ; with a foreword by Dionne Warwick.
“”The world lost one of the most beautiful voices and an extraordinarily beautiful and charitable woman,” says Houston of daughter Whitney’s death in February 2012. Cissy offers a forthright account of her daughter’s life and death.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book cover50 licks : myths and stories from half a century of the Rolling Stones / Pete Fornatale with Bernard M. Corbett and Peter Thomas Fornatale.
“Fornatale, the noted disc jockey, radio host, and musical historian who died in 2012, opened the first program of his brand-new radio show in 1969 with a Rolling Stones song. By then the Stones were worldwide superstars, but, as Fornatale recounts in this profusely illustrated oral history of the band, there were some rocky times in the early days. Then back-to-back singles of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Get Off of My Cloud catapulted them into international stardom. That was 47 years ago. The book features interviews with not only the Stones but also fellow musicians, film directors, music-industry execs, journalists, and does a good job of covering the band’s half-century history in broad strokes, giving us a nice look at the Stones as musicians, celebrities, and young men growing to maturity in the public eye.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverMötley Crüe : the dirt / [Tommy Lee … et al. ; with Neil Strauss].
“In the beginning there was the Motley House, crawling with cockroaches and rats, beer cans piled on the porch so high they threatened to spill into the house every time you opened the door. “That place gave birth to Motley Crue,” the band recalls in The Dirt: The Autobiography of Motley Crue. Crue members Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx also team up with New York Times music writer Neil Strauss to tell the story of their band’s rise to phenomenal success.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverUntouchable : the strange life and tragic death of Michael Jackson / Randall Sullivan.
“Dogged by scandal for over fifteen years and undone by his own tendency to trust the wrong people, Michael Jackson had become untouchable in many quarters, a fact that wounded him deeply. Now, drawing on unprecedented access to friends, enemies, employees, and associates of Jackson, Randall Sullivan delivers an intimate, unflinching, and deeply human portrait of a man who was never quite understood by the media, his fans, or even those closest to him. Traces the story of Michael Jackson’s life from his famous childhood through his final four years, drawing on interviews with his friends, enemies, and other associates to cover his international travels, business acumen, and parenting decisions”.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPrince / Matt Thorne.
“Legendarily reticent, perverse and misleading, Prince is one of the few remaining 80s superstars who still, perhaps, remains unexplained. Now a firm fixture in the pop canon, where such classics as “Purple Rain”, “Sign o’ the Times” and “Parade” regularly feature in Best Ever Album polls, Prince is still, as he ever was, an enigma. Matt Thorne’s “Prince”, through years of research and interviews with ex-Revolution members such as Wendy and Lisa, is an account of a pop maverick whose experiments with rock, funk, techno and jazz revolutionized pop. With reference to every song, released and unreleased, over 35 years of recording, Prince will stand for years to come as the go-to book on the Great Man”.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJoni : the creative odyssey of Joni Mitchell / Katherine Monk.
“Biographies of Joni Mitchell are attempted every few years, but the definitive one will have to wait until the singer-songwriter tells her own story. In the meantime, Monk’s is the closest thing to essential reading. She describes her book as a “rambling adventure into the creative soul,” and it follows Mitchell’s path to popular and critical success as well as her self-imposed exile from that success, while frankly addressing the highs and lows of her career and personal life. One intriguing aspect of the book is Monk’s pursuit of a kind of Mitchell-approved reading list (because of her subject’s own interest in philosophy). Monk uses Martin Heidegger, Joseph Campbell, and especially Friedrich Nietzsche to tell Mitchell’s story and shape the narrative of her creative odyssey.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverDays that I’ll remember : spending time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono / Jonathan Cott.
“A contributing editor to Rolling Stone since its inception, Jonathan Cott met myriad musicians, but few-if any-made as deep an impression on him as John Lennon. Cott’s many discussions and interviews (including one conducted just three days before Lennon’s assassination, reproduced here in its entirety) reveal the two rhapsodically rapping about the meaning of “Strawberry Fields,” dealing with fame, Yoko’s alleged role in the breakup of the Beatles (”I think that each of the Beatles was too strong and tough an individual to have been influenced by me in any way” is her response), and the impact of psychologist Arthur Janov’s primal therapy treatment on the duo’s relationship and work together. Cott does a solid job of creating intimacy between Lennon and the reader, something fans of the much-missed musician will likely relish.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverRide a white swan : the lives and death of Marc Bolan / Lesley-Ann Jones.
“From mod folk artist to flower power pixie elfin to the king of glam rockers, Marc Bolan was the ultimate chameleon. His far reaching musical and stylistic influence is more relevant today than ever with hits such as ‘Ride A White Swan’, ‘Children Of The Revolution’, ‘Get It On’ and ‘Hot Love’ as fresh and exhilarating as when first released. At last, in the 35th anniversary year of his tragic death, Marc Bolan represents the definite biography. Here rock biographer, Lesley-Ann Jones, paints a meticulous portrait of the T-Rex front man. From his childhood growing up in Hackney to his untimely death at the age of 29, Bolan’s life was one of relentless experimentation and metamorphoses.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverA light that never goes out : the enduring saga of the Smiths / Tony Fletcher.
“Indie cult heavyweights the Smiths never charted a single higher than number 10, but they are widely considered to be an important musical component of British pop music of the 1980s. Their enigmatic vocalist and lyricist, Morrissey, is a bit of a hero to the disaffected, which only adds to his and the band’s angsty cachet. Of course, they broke up in 1987, but with rumored reunions that never materialized and the individual members’ post-Smiths activities (as a solo), Morrissey has cracked Top 10 lists), their self-conscious legend lives on. In relating the story of the band, Fletcher centers on Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, digging deep in terms of the details of the band’s creative process and progress but with plenty of time for conjecture about the comprehensively enigmatic Morrissey.” (Booklist)

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Classical Music

This month’s Classical finds seem to have a bit of a biographical theme running through them. I hope you enjoy rediscovering a familiar topic, or being enthralled by a new one.

Syndetics book coverBenjamin Britten : a life in the twentieth century / Paul Kildea.
“In the eyes of many, Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell (a figure who often inspired him) three hundred years earlier. He broke decisively with the romantic, nationalist school of figures such as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form. With Peter Grimes (1945), Billy Budd (1951) and The Turn of the Screw (1954), he arguably composed the last operas – from any composer in any country – which have entered both the popular consciousness and the musical canon”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverRichard Wagner : the sorcerer of Bayreuth / Barry Millington.
“Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential – and also one of the most controversial – composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner’s life, work and times”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverGreat operas : a guide to 25 of the world’s finest musical experiences / Michael Steen.
“From Great Composers author Michael Steen, a unique multi-platform project offering a royal box view into one of mankind’s greatest art forms. From the soaring heights of Wagner’s epic Ring cycle to the tear-jerking emotion of Mozart’s breathtakingly beautiful Don Giovanni, opera is one of the most powerful artistic forms mankind has ever created. It should also be the most enjoyable! Michael Steen’s The Lives and Times of the Great Composers was described as ‘hugely informative and deliciously gossipy’ by the Spectator. Great Operas is his accessible and entertaining user’s manual to making the best of an opera – whether at home or at a live performance, interspersing the key facts with erudite commentary from a man for whom opera is a lifetime’s passion”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMozart at the gateway to his fortune : serving the Emperor, 1788-1791 / Christoph Wolff.
“This book examines the final years of Mozart’s life from a fresh perspective. The working premises are that Mozart’s appointment to the imperial court in 1787 affected a profound change in his musical plans; that there is no reason to view Mozart’s last compositions as imbued with the specter of his imminent death; and that one ought instead view the last compositions as products of an outlook determined in part by the imperial appointment. The sheer common sense of these premises is so striking that one wonders how any alternative view could be considered”. (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverHow to read music / [James Sleigh & Mike Sheppard].
“If you want to learn how to read and write music, this is the book you have been waiting for! Written in plain English and using a minimum of jargon, it’s supplemented by audio material and other extras all available at www.hybridpublications.com This means that you get lots of examples of how things should sound plus many other online bonuses, all clearly flagged on the relevant page in the book”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConducting business : unveiling the mystery behind the maestro / Leonard Slatkin.
“Conducting an orchestra is something that is seen as well as heard, but it is quite misunderstood. People may wonder, “What does this person actually do for a living?” This most mysterious of jobs is brought to life in this book. Drawing on his own experiences on and off the podium, Leonard Slatkin tells tales of some of the most fascinating people in the musical world, including Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams. He takes the reader to soundstages in Hollywood as well as great concert halls and opera pits around the globe. Slatkin recounts his controversial appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, his creation and direction of summer music festivals, and a shattering concert experience that took place four days after 9/11. Discussions of work in the recording studio and life on the road as well as health issues confronting the conductor provide an insider’s glimpse into this private world.–From publisher description”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEverything you ever wanted to know about classical music but were too afraid to ask / [Darren Henley and Sam Jackson].
“This is a richly informative, light-hearted guide to the ins and outs of classical music. The book dives underneath the sheet music to bring the world of classical music to life. Henley offers insights into the composition of an orchestra, the workings of its instruments, and the lives of its composers”. (Syndetics summary)

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Buyer’s Choice

Hi everyone, Deborah and I are the fiction selectors for Wellington City Libraries and we spend a lot of time reading about, and choosing, lovely new fiction for the library.

Syndetics book coverHawk quest.
This is the first novel by Robert Lyndon, who is also a falconer, and it’s set in 1072 after the Normans have captured England. A warrior called Vallon must save a Norman knight who’s been kidnapped by the Turks by capturing four rare hawks. This quest sets him on a journey around the world and on the adventure of a lifetime. Labelled a ‘historical adventure epic’ and described as well written, evocative and filled with wonderful period detail and characters, it sounds too good to miss. In fact several reviewers have said it was the best book they had read in a long time – so reserve it now!

Syndetics book coverForgotten country.
This is a beautifully written debut novel set around the lives of two sisters. Growing up in the American Midwest, the older and more dutiful Janie has borne the lion’s share of the responsibility of looking after the younger, more lovable but manipulative Hannah. These ties are suddenly cut, however, when Hannah inexplicably but purposefully disappears while away at College. Jamie sets out to find her, mindful of her grandmother’s warning that ever since the Japanese invasion of Korea, the family has lost a daughter in every generation. This is not a mystery story; rather it is a story of one family’s survival through the turbulent and cruel years of twentieth century Korea, their adjustment to life in a foreign land, and of their reconciliation with the past and their future.

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People & Places Newsletter for April

Catalysts for change is the common theme running throughout much of this April’s picks.

Now that America’s first black president is serving his second term of office it is hard to realise that half a century ago a humble Afro-American seamstress in the south of the country made history by refusing to give up her seat to a white man in a segregated bus. By so doing she started a revolution. This month we salute brave Rosa Parks.Many of this month’s picks focus on people who have bettered the lives of others – such as Charles Dickens in highlighting the horrors of London workhouses, who earned their living by serving others such as the domestic servants featured here, or who lived life on the margins.

Biography

Syndetics book coverLord of the isle : the extravagant life and times of Colin Tennant / Nicholas Courtney.
“This is the biography of the late Lord Glenconner, the lord born to a rich Victorian industrial family who used his wealth to live an eccentric lifestyle of self-indulgence from the 1940s to his death in 2010.”(www.globalbooksinprint.com)

Syndetics book coverDrinking with men / Rosie Schaap.
“Drinking memoirs generally fall into two categories: Never again and Pour me another. Schaap, who writes the Drink column for the New York Times Magazine, has composed one of the latter, an ode to the great tradition of regularhood advocating equal regularhood rights for women. From her teenage discovery of the bar car on the Metro-North New Haven Line; to her college years at the Pig, in North Bennington, Vermont; to a marriage-ending epiphany at Else’s, in Montreal, Schaap charts her path from adolescence to adulthood, bar by bar, sometimes having a few too many but always finding the sense of community and belonging she clearly craves.”(Provided by publisher).

Syndetics book coverDickens and the workhouse : Oliver Twist and the London poor / Ruth Richardson.
“Medical historian Richardson (The Making of Mr. Gray’s Anatomy) joined the cause to preserve a London building that had once been the Strand Union Workhouse (as the British say) Cleveland Street. She made what she calls “the remarkable finding” that Dickens lived only a few doors away as a toddler and again in his late teens. Never mind that Dickens’s London addresses have long been known and that he placed the Oliver Twist workhouse 75 miles north of London (an area he visited where there was a workhouse)-Richardson wants to make the case for this workhouse as the basis for the famous workhouse scenes in Oliver Twist. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe rebellious life of Mrs. Rosa Parks / Jeanne Theoharis.
“In her introduction to this biography, Brooklyn College political scientist Theoharis (coauthor of Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside of the South) notes the common perception of Rosa Parks (1913-2005): “hidden in plain sight, celebrated and paradoxically relegated to be a hero for children.” Into that gap, Theoharis submits a lavishly well-documented study of Parks’s life and career as an activist. In tracing her work with the Montgomery NAACP and other groups from the 1930s onwards, and then following her move from Alabama after the 1956 bus boycott to Detroit, Theoharis maps a lifetime devoted to civil rights, thereby destabilizing our notions of Parks as a “tired seamstress” who simply kept her seat on a bus one day in 1955.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverOutsiders : stories from the fringe of New Zealand society / Gerard Hindmarsh.
“A social history of New Zealand’s outsiders, such as Arawata Bill, The Chaffeys, George Wilder and others – those who choose to live out on the fringes of society, and whose free and unrestricted lives offer an important counterbalance to the structured urban world most of us inhabit”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe real Jane Austen : a life in small things / Paula Byrne.
“Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (first published in January 1813), comes Paula Byrne’s vivacious new portrait of its author. The approach Byrne (Jane Austen and the Theatre) takes is refreshingly material-based and the book is experimental in structure; each chapter unfolds from the biographer’s description of a small object associated with Austen’s life (chapter titles include “The East Indian Shawl”, “The Cocked Hat” “The Card of Lace”, “The Crimson Velvet Cushions”, and “The Topaz Crosses”). This technique serves two functions: firstly, it honors the precision for which Austen was famed by drawing attention to the material artifacts of her life; secondly, it challenges the “`official’ family biography””. (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverClimbing the stairs / Margaret Powell.
“Margaret Powell was born in 1907 in Hove, and left school at the age of 13 to start working. At 14, she got a job in a hotel laundry room, and a year later went into service as a kitchen maid, eventually progressing to the position of cook, before marrying a milkman called Albert. In 1968 the first volume of her memoirs, Below Stairs, was published to instant success and turned her into a celebrity. She followed this up with Climbing the Stairs, The Treasure Upstairs and The Margaret Powell Cookery Book. She died in 1984.”(Summary from www/globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverLiterary outlaw : the life and times of William S. Burroughs / Ted Morgan.
“Another dazzling literary portrait from the author of Maugham [BKL F 15 80]. This time Morgan has chosen a subject whose life and work are so inextricable that, unlike the effort required to unravel Maugham’s attempts to disguise his real nature, what is required here is a candor and openness to match the subject’s notoriety and vulnerability. A homosexual and drug addict, Burroughs pursued an individual course in his life and art with a purpose and intensity that would set him apart from other members of the countercultural circle that he helped make famous– let alone from more orthodox intellectual and artistic circles.Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist).

Syndetics book coverOn Helwig Street : a memoir / Richard Russo.
“In its heyday Gloversville, New York was a prosperous beacon of the leather-goods industry, famously producing nine out of ten pairs of American gloves. But by the time Richard Russo was growing up there in the 1950s, the only son of a largely absent father and a mother, Jean, who suffered from ‘nerves’, Gloversville had fallen victim to changing fashions and gone bust. A better life elsewhere was the dream Jean instilled in her son and strived to secure for them both. Vividly recalling the road trips and adventures that took them far from Gloversville but always led them back home, Russo describes how childhood segued into adulthood and parenthood in the company of his restless mother. At the same time he recounts with touching honesty how the literary success that enriched his own life was at odds with the disappointment that punctuated hers.” (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

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Travel stories & guides

New travel stories. Love with a chance of drowning.

Syndetics book coverLove with a chance of drowning : a memoir / Torre DeRoche.
“Love can make a person do crazy things… A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific aboard a leaky sailboat – total crew of two – struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat. But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has to face a hard decision: watch the man she’s in love with sail away forever, or head off on the watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins her lover on a year-long voyage across the Pacific.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJungleland : a mysterious lost city, a WWII spy, and a true story of deadly adventure / Christopher S. Stewart.
“”… Stewart’s chronicle relates his 2008 odyssey to Honduras. He sought a place of rumored existence called the White City, with which he became obsessed upon learning that, in 1940, colorful adventurer Theodore Morde announced its discovery, though he kept proprietarily circumspect about its exact location. Morde then became an OSS agent but never returned to Honduras. With the assistance of Morde’s journal, an experienced American archaeologist, and local Honduran guides, Stewart sallied forth for the tropical forest where lurked the White City. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBearback : the world overland / Pat Garrod.
“‘Inspired’, ‘enthralling’ and ’stylish’ are just some of the words used to describe the first edition of Bearback. Now in paperback, Pat Garrod’s remarkable story is set to be discovered by even more travellers.. Imagine jacking it all in, packing your life into a 41-litre pannier and riding into the sunset. Bearback is the story of two GPs who did just that, downing stethoscopes to take off on their motorcycle, The Bear, to see the world. Across the deserts of Africa, over the mountains of the Andes, deep into the jungles of Indochina, and beyond the Arctic Circle; 100,000 miles through six continents and 64 countries. A circumnavigation of epic proportion and entirely unsupported, it was to become one of the longest journeys ever undertaken by a couple on one motorcycle, a journey destined to change their lives forever.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFarewell, Fred Voodoo : a letter from Haiti / Amy Wilentz.
“Describes the author’s long and painful relationship with Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake, tracing the country’s turbulent history and its status as a symbol of human rights activism and social transformation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe golden shore : California’s love affair with the sea / David Helvarg.
“”In this ambitious work, journalist and conservationist Helvarg (Saved by the Sea) successfully relates the myriad ways in which Californians engage with their beloved Pacific. …Unsurprisingly, Helvarg starts with surfing, specifically the Mavericks big-wave contest at Half Moon Bay. He covers California’s Native population from the earliest arrivals to a recent victory requiring the removal of dams on the Klamath River to return it and its fishing to a more natural state. Environmental issues appear throughout, though Helvarg also devotes entire chapters to shipping. …In two late chapters Helvarg describes a coastal drive from Mexico to Oregon, and then concludes with thoughts on how Californians will face ongoing environmental trials, such as a projected sea level rise of three feet or more. 12 b&w photos. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKorea / this edition written and researched by Simon Richmond, Timothy N Hornyak, Shawn Low.Korea
“”The Korean Peninsula is a true travel gem: the South, a high-tech nation with a reverence for tradition and the ways of old Asia; the North, a challenging, geopolitical enigma.”Simon Richmond, Lonely Planet Writer .” (Amazon.co.uk.)

Syndetics book coverBack roads Ireland / contributors, Donna Daily … [et. al].
“Unearth the real soul of this magical region with all the practical information you could need, from road conditions and length of drive to parking information and opening hours. Twenty-five themed drives, each lasting one to seven days, reveal breathtaking views, hidden gems and authentic local experiences that can only be discovered by road. Each tour is bursting with insider knowledge and loaded with ideas for varied activities from walks to days on the beach and children’s attractions, to wine and cycling trips.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverTokyo on foot : travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods / text and illustrations by Florent Chavouet.
“In this first English edition of a graphic memoir of a young French graphic artist of his stay in Tokyo in 2006, Chavouet presents his sketches evidently inspired by Japanese cartoon styles, hand-drawn maps, and impressions of the sights, sounds, and cultural quirks of the neighborhoods of what he notes has been called “the most beautiful of ugly cities.” The book was originally published in 2009 by Editions Philippe Picquier, and awarded a prize that year at the International Festival of Geography. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Kombi trail : across three continents in a VW van / Robert Cox, Roger Sherwin, Tony Thompson.
“Cambridge, 1961. A group of students set off on the trip of a lifetime. Against the backdrop of the Cold War they travel through the Soviet Union to the Middle East, South Asia and on to Africa. Their mode of transport? The iconic VW Kombi.This book tells the story of that trip, not just the people they met and the places they saw, but the many experiences – sometimes nerve-wracking, sometimes bizarre – that they encountered along the way. It provides a fascinating insight into a world on the brink of change – seen through the eyes of nine young men fresh from university. ….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere, there, elsewhere : stories from the road / William Least Heat-Moon.
“”It’s collected-works time for the renowned author of such outstanding travel literature as Blue Highways (1983) and River-Horse (1999). Thirty magazine pieces comprise this assembly, with some articles ranging abroad, such as the author’s depictions of his ventures to New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Britain. Most, however, amble around America or radiate from the author’s home states of Missouri and Kansas. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

Below is a selection of the latest history books we have received in March. It is an ecclectic mix that deserves your attention!

Syndetics book coverIke and Dick : portrait of a strange political marriage / Jeffrey Frank.
“Examines the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, from the politics that divided them to the marriage that united their families. Despite being separated by age and temperament, their association evolved into a collaboration that helped to shape the nation’s political ideology, foreign policy, and domestic goals.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe birth of the West : Rome, Germany, France, and the creation of Europe in the tenth century / Paul Collins.
“The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagne’s empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. To many historians, it was a prime example of the ignorance and uncertainty of the Dark Ages. Yet according to historian Paul Collins, the story of the tenth century is the story of our culture’s birth, of the emergence of our civilization into the light of day. The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It is a fascinatingnarrative that thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe presidents club : inside the world’s most exclusive fraternity / Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.
“The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Timemagazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hopkins touch : Harry Hopkins and the forging of the alliance to defeat Hitler / David L. Roll.
“The Hopkins Touchoffers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt’s administration.
David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal’s implementation, became the linchpin in FDR’s–and America’s–relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president’s. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his stomach, the newly widowed Hopkins accepted the president’s invitation to move into the White House in 1940 and remained Roosevelt’s closest advisor, speechwriter, sounding board, and friend nearly to the end. Between 1940 and 1945, with incomparable skill and indefatigable determination, Hopkins organized the Lend-Lease program and steered the president to prepare the public for war with Germany. He became FDR’s problem-solver and fixer, helping to smooth over crises, such as when the British refused to allow an invasion of Europe in 1943, enraging Stalin, who felt that the Soviet Union was carrying the military effort against the Nazis. Lacking an official title or a clear executive branch portfolio, Hopkins could take the political risks his boss could not, and proved crucial to maintaining personal relations among the Big Three. Beloved by some–such as Churchill, who believed that Hopkins “always went to the root of the matter”–and trusted by most–including the paranoid Stalin–there were nevertheless those who resented the influence of “the White House Rasputin.”
Based on newly available sources,The Hopkins Touchis an absorbing, substantial new work that offers a fresh perspective on the World War II era and the Allied leaders, through the life of the man who kept them on point until the war was won.” (Syndetics summary)

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New Zealand

This month the New Zealand Collection features history of Antarctica and also some great new and revised New Zealand history. This includes an item that focuses on teaching history to secondary school students. The last book is a study of issues faced by whānau in Māori education.

Syndetics book coverA history of Antarctica / Stephen Martin.
“This revised and expanded book – first published in 1996 – traces the patterns of human activity in Antarctica, from the southern journeys of the 16th century to the modern expeditions of adventurers and tourists. Using material from diaries, letters, and fresh research, the book illuminates the main themes of Antarctic history with the personal stories and images of the men and women who explored, worked, and lived in this frozen and remote continent. The book examines such topics as the early Polynesian explorers, the amazing diversity of flora and fauna, the detailed geological features, etc. A History of Antarctica is about the people of Antarctica – those who have chosen to endure the risks and enjoy the rewards of conquering the world’s most forbidding land.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSurveying the Antarctic : the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition 1957-1958 / Eugene Brian Fitzgerald.
“This volume is the story of the first New Zealand Official Government Expedition to Antarctica. It is based on the diary, notes and memory of the author, together with the letters and accounts written by other members of the expedition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImages from Albertland : Harold Marsh, 1876-1948 / Paul Campbell.
“William Harold Marsh, farmer, father and adventurous photographer captured a time of enchantment, when life was lived at a slower place, governed by a different set of values and priorities and ambitions. One of the first generation of those immigrants who sailed around the world to settle in Albertland, 70,000 coastal acres on the Kaipara Harbour, in Northland, New Zealand, he has left a legacy of those times, a window into the past for those yet to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Heaphy Track / Chris Petyt.
“Heaphy he never actually followed the whole route. He along with Thomas Brunner and Kehu, their Maori guide, travelled down the coast in 1846 from the north and only traversed the coastal section of the track from the Heaphy River to the Kohaihai River. The first Europeans to traverse the route are only recorded as “Aldridge and his mate”. Following the discovery of gold in the Aorere Valley in late 1865, the route of the Heaphy Track was used by gold miners to traverse between the Aorere Goldfield and those that were subsequently discovered on the West Coast. Author Chris Petyt has dug deep and wide to assemble this first comprehensive account of the human history of the Heaphy Track. Today, the Heaphy is one of New Zealand’s premier walking tracks and the longest of the multi-day tracks designated by the Department of Conservation as Great Walks. Those contemplating a trip over the track will also find it useful as the final chapter is a guide to walking the track.” (Syndetics summary)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for February

This month of Music & Movies kicks off with another literary adaptation, Don DeLillo’s ‘Cosmopolis’. Further highlights include Simon Sweetman’s tour through New Zealand’s pop landscape in ‘On Song’; critically acclaimed musical biopic ‘The Sapphires’; and Willie Nelson stakes his claim for autobiography title of the year with ‘Roll me up and smoke me when I die’.

DVDs

New DVDs for February include adaptations of Duncan Sarkies’ ‘Two Little Boys’ & Don DeLillos’ ‘Cosmopolis’; the true stories that inspired Jack Black’s ‘Bernie’ & the feel-good ‘The Sapphires’; & new UK TV shows ‘The Jury’, ‘Pramface’ & ‘Silk’…

Cover imageCosmopolis.
“The union of director David Cronenberg and Twilight star Robert Pattinson is hardly a predictable one, but the pair prove quite the combination with Cosmopolis. A drama set across 24 hours in New York City, the film sees Pattinson as Eric, a rich asset manager on a trip across Manhattan in a luxury limousine. But it’s no ordinary trip: with Manhattan preparing for the visit of the President of the United States, things soon start to go very, very wrong for Eric. Cronenberg wrote the script as well as directing here, and Cosmopolis is a challenging, slow film, that treats its audience with intelligence. Pattinson works hard in the lead role, with considerable success, and the supporting players, including Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche and Samantha Morton are excellent, too. Cosmopolis may not be as accessible as Cronenberg’s films that more immediately preceded it, but it’s a film with real substance to it, from a genuinely great director…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageBernie.
“.. “What you’re fixin’ to see is a true story”… sets the perfect down-home tone for the charming, if occasionally gruesome story of an East Texas funeral director named Bernie Tiede, whose sociable selflessness, empathetic demeanor, and guileless personality won him the friendship of the whole town of Carthage, especially the little old ladies. He even captivated the good graces of the meanest and richest old lady of them all, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), eventually becoming her business manager and constant companion. But even with the patience of Job and the compassion of Jesus, eventually Bernie couldn’t take it anymore and in a fit of pique shot her in the back four times then dumped her body in a freezer. That synopsis hardly seems the stuff of a lighthearted comedy that energizes a large ensemble of endearing characters. But in the hands of director Richard Linklater (who cowrote the script with Skip Hollandsworth, who originally reported the story for Texas Monthly magazine), the tale is simultaneously knee-slappingly funny and head-shakingly poignant…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePramface.
“Meet Jamie, 16, and Laura, 18. They are two teenagers who after one too many drinks, some deceptive party lighting and an available bedroom find they have one very big complication on their hands. Laura is pregnant. Only problem is, she’s meant to be heading off to university and Jamie is way too young to be considering raising a kid. Prior to this, the extent of his responsibilities was doing his homework and managing his pocket money. Pramface brings humour and heart to a tricky subject, as it follows these two unexpected parents-to-be as they try, and frequently fail, to negotiate family, sex and what happens once nine months is up…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe Sapphires.
“The Sapphires is an inspirational tale set in the heady days of the late 60s when four young, talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission are discovered and guided by an unlikely manager. Starring AFI award-winner Deborah Mailman (Offspring), platinum selling artist Jessica Mauboy and Bridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd, this feel-good hit is based on the successful Australian stage musical and inspired by a remarkable true story. Plucked from obscurity and branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes. The Sapphires grasp the opporturnity of a lifetime when invited to entertain American troops in Vietnam. Their journey of discovery offers them not only the chance to show off their musical skills, but find love and togetherness and grow as women…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSilk. [Series 1].
“Single, attractive, thirty something Martha Costello is a brilliant, passionate defence barister with the unwavering belief that all are innocent until proven guilty. Martha is about to apply to become Queen’s Counsel; she is applying for ‘Silk’, but she’s not the only one at her chambers– Clive Reader is charming, ruthless and dangerous, and knows how to play the game– Only one of them will be made QC and Senior Clerk, Billy Lamb, is the man with everyone’s lives and careers in his hands. Martha’s conscience and faith in the criminal justice system are tested to breaking point as she deals with clients who are good, bad and downright evil…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSleep tight.
“Spanish psychological horror from director Jaume Balagueró. The film follows César (Luis Tosar), the concierge to the residents at a wealthy apartment building. César seems extraordinarily helpful and polite and is consequently adored by the residents, but little do they know that he is in fact a man so incapable of happiness and human feeling that he makes it his goal in life to make others as miserable as he is. He focuses much of his attention on Clara (Martra Etura), a beautiful young woman whose vivacity and spontaneous sense of happiness make her his opposite in almost every way. With his usual blend of underhand tricks, which include sneaking into her apartment to rig unpleasant surprises and even hiding beneath her bed, César begins to unnerve Clara. When her boyfriend Marcos (Alberto San Juan) unexpectedly returns the situation quickly escalates towards a point of no return…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAfterschool.
“A disturbing and completely compelling story dealing with teen suicide and the fascination we have for voyeurism, at the expense of common decency. Robert is a young student at an elite boarding school on America’s East Coast. Robert is a loner whose world revolves around porn sites and surfing the net. As part of a film study course, Robert accidentally films the deaths of twin sisters, an apparent joint suicide. Robert has every opportunity to help, to intervene, but calmly films on– Everyone is outrages– his scandalous behaviour causes almost as much shock as the girls’ deaths. However, the film strangely immortalizes the girls– as students, teachers and the girls’ parents struggle to come to terms with the tragedy…’ (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageTwo little boys.
“The film follows Nige and his best mate Deano’s riotous misadventures as they struggle with their imploding friendship which has been put under pressure by an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star. Nige chucks the dead body in a nearby roadworks hole and runs to Deano for help. Trouble is, Deano’s not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe jury.
“Written by Peter Morgan (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen), The Jury is a compelling, character based drama series which focuses on the everyday people who find themselves at the centre of one of the most controversial criminal re-trials of their time. Focusing on the retrial of a man sentenced for the murder of three women–all killed following internet dates. A key piece of evidence was deliberately ignored by the CPS, possibly because the police were under pressure for a quick conviction and blackmail was being used over a senior person involved with the investigation who was having an affair. Ultimately, we will see the man acquitted but it will be an “imperfect, messy, human triumph for the jury by acquitting the man”. Gripping, dark and emotionally charged as jurors are forced to face their prejudices as they come to grips with the complexities and unwanted attention of being a key player in such a high profile Old Bailey trial…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe devil’s double.
“Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein’s palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is thrust into the highest echelons of the “royal family” when he’s ordered to become the ‘fiday’ – or body double – to Saddam’s son, the notorious “Black Prince” Uday Hussein (also Dominic Cooper), a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his family’s lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk and act like Uday. But nothing could have prepared him for the horror of the Black Prince’s psychotic, drug-addled life of fast cars, easy women and impulsive violence. With one wrong move costing him his life, Latif forges an intimate bond with Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday’s seductive mistress who’s haunted by her own secrets. But as war looms with Kuwait and Uday’s depraved gangster regime threatens to destroy them all, Latif realises that escape from the devil‘s den will only come at the highest possible cost. Featuring a riveting double performance by Dominic Cooper (An Education, Mamma Mia) in the roles of Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein, The Devil’s Double is a dynamic, chilling adaptation of Latif Yahia’s autobiographical novel, charting one man’s defiant struggle to survive a viper’s pit of corruption and brutality…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

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Popular Music

New books on popular music this month include Madonna’s new book which features fantastic photos and the comprehensive biography of Freddie Mercury. Also, we have two new books from very popular Dummies ‘how to play’ series.

Syndetics book coverMadonna style / by Carol Clerk ; with Stacey Appel.
“This updated edition now includes details of Madonna’s new 2012 album and subsequent World Tour, her advertising campaigns for Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana, her clothing lines for H&M and her own Material Girl label as well as her Hard Candy album and videos for Celebration, Four Minutes and Beat Goes On.Here is a dazzling exploration of a unique pop-culture goddess. How does she do it? The answer comes in the form of this sumptuous collection of Madonna’s style effects. Every visual aspect of Madonna is shown including her wildly inventive catalogue of personae that she and her style army have conjured over the years. The result is an absolutely stunning one-woman fashion show that spans nearly half a century.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverStone alone : the story of a rock ‘n’ roll band / with Ray Coleman.
“YA– Wyman, bass player for the Rolling Stones, leaves no word unturned in this comprehensive, readable, witty account of the group from its beginnings as a struggling rhythm-and-blues band in 1962 to its superstar status and the death of founder and lead guitarist Brian Jones in 1969. With the help of veteran rock journalist Coleman, Wyman turns his exhaustive diary and other files into this well-written tome on the band and the London music scene of the ’60s. While the book contains a wealth of material and information, it offers few startling insights into the Stones as a group or individually. However, Stone Alone will certainly gather no moss on most library shelves”(School Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverA light that never goes out : the enduring saga of the Smiths / Tony Fletcher.
“Indie cult heavyweights the Smiths never charted a single higher than number 10, but they are widely considered to be an important musical component of British pop music of the 1980s. Their enigmatic vocalist and lyricist, Morrissey, is a bit of a hero to the disaffected, which only adds to his and the band’s angsty cachet. Of course, they broke up in 1987, but with rumored reunions that never materialized and the individual members’ post-Smiths activities (as a solo), Morrissey has cracked Top 10 lists), their self-conscious legend lives on. In relating the story of the band, Fletcher centers on Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, digging deep in terms of the details of the band’s creative process and progress but with plenty of time for conjecture about the comprehensively enigmatic Morrissey.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFreddie Mercury : the great pretender : a life in pictures / [text, Sean O’Hagan ; captions, Greg Brooks and Phil Symes ; art direction, Richard Gray].
“Iconic Queen front man, Freddie Mercury (1946-91) had always been a flamboyant, larger-than-life figure. This lavish, oversized book of photographs is a fitting tribute to his life and work. The book includes images from every stage of Mercury’s life, from his childhood in Zanzibar and India to his early musical career in England and his rise to international fame fronting Queen. Although filled with many images of Mercury striking his trademark dramatic stage poses, the book also reveals the singer’s more personal, vulnerable side-a distinct and fascinating contrast.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverBlues harmonica for dummies / by Winslow Yerxa.
“Blues harmonica is the most popular and influential style of harmonica playing, and it forms the basis for playing harmonica in other styles such as rock and country. Blues Harmonica for Dummies gives you a wealth of content devoted to the blues approach—specific techniques and applications, including bending and making your notes sound richer and fuller with tongue-blocked enhancements; use of amplification to develop a blues sound; blues licks and riffs; constructing a blues harmonica solo; accompanying singers; historical development of blues styles; and important blues players and recordings.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverGuitar for dummies / by Mark Phillips and Jon Chappell.
“The music guides in the popular “For Dummies” series all follow the same basic format, which includes much of the same information found in the other self-instruction resources reviewed here, but in more detail-getting started with the instrument, chords and melodies, playing technique, stylistic characteristics, and choosing instruments. Unlike most of the other series, the details of some techniques, such as fingerpicking, are covered in the chapters on style instead of getting chapters or sections of their own. These volumes also don’t cover reading music, though scored examples are included: players who don’t read are advised to pick up chords and melodies by ear from the accompanying CD. Best for teens and adults with some musical background, not necessarily with the guitar.”(Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverOnSong : stories behind New Zealand’s pop classics / Simon Sweetman.
“On Song is a lively journey through New Zealand’s diverse pop landscape. Prolific music journalist Simon Sweetman has interviewed the writers and performers of beloved Kiwi classics, presenting ‘in conversation’ text that illuminates the fascinating stories behind the pop songs we all know and love, all complemented with a plethora of artists’ personal imagery and archival photography” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverThe million sellers / contributors, Tim Brock … [et al.].
“Published to mark the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Official Singles Charts in 1952, The Million Sellers tells the story of every million-selling single in the history of the UK music industry. An analysis of the 123 singles which have passed the magical million sales threshold in the UK in the past 60 years, from Bill Haley & The Comets very first UK million-seller right through to more recent singles by Lady Gaga, Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas. Interviews with some of the artists reflecting on their memories of their million sellers and what they remember of the success at the time At a-glance facts and data outlining the songwriters, producers, albums and total sales figures for the million selling track.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverMake up to breakup : my life in and out of Kiss / Peter Criss with Larry “Ratso” Sloman.
“Criss, the original drummer of Kiss and the third member of the band to pen a memoir, delivers an entertaining autobiography written with Sloman, who coauthored Scar Tissue, the memoir by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis. But while bass player Gene Simmons (KISS and Make Up) focused on the sex and lead guitarist Ace Frehley (No Regrets) detailed the drugs, the appealing part of Criss’s account is that he keeps the focus on the rock and roll, which results in the best-and most honest-account of Kiss craziness during the band’s heyday in the 1970s. The book’s most interesting section explores Criss’s early life as a street punk turned hardcore jazz fan in the 1960s; this may be the first time the name Thelonious Monk has appeared in a book on Kiss.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe future is the beginning : the words and wisdom of Bob Marley / Bob Marley ; introduction by Cedella Marley ; edited by Gerald Hausman.
“Taken from interviews and edited by Marley/Rastafarianism expert Gerald Hausman, this book highlights the famed reggae musician’s personal and spiritual beliefs.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverNoel Gallagher : the biography / Lucian Randall.
“Noel Gallagher is a well-known for his singer-songwriter talent as he is for his controversial, outspoken statements and his tempestuous relationships. With the renowned Britpop band, Oasis, Noel found worldwide acclaim and influenced and musical style of a generation. But what is the truth about the boy from Manchester? This book maps out Noel’s story from the beginning. It takes you from his dysfunctional upbringing in Manchester to the man we know now.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverRoll me up and smoke me when I die : musings from the road / Willie Nelson ; foreword by Kinky Friedman ; illustrations by Micah Nelson.
“The latest in a collection of anecdotes and essays from singer-songwriter Nelson (The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes) serves to reinforce his image as a sentimental country veteran who isn’t averse to firing up the occasional joint or two. Peppered with the occasional dirty joke, the book makes for an irreverent, entertaining read. Humble, optimistic, and quick to give credit to those around him for contributing to his success, Nelson is a charming narrator, lurching from subject to subject, but always with a point in mind.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

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Classical Music

The festive season is over, work and school have gone back for another year and its time to put your nose to the grindstone. What better time to take a moment to get inspired and motivated by music! Here are a few selections to help you on your way to musical enlightenment.

Syndetics book coverA parent’s survival guide to music lessons : help your child succeed in music / Elisabeth Lawrence.
“Perhaps you are looking for a way to keep your youngsters occupied during the holidays, or maybe a new violin for Christmas means you need to get them some lessons QUICK! In any case, learning about the ins and outs of music lessons is a good place to start.” (Syndetics summary)

nuinuiTranscriptions [sound recording] / Liszt.
“An album framed around Liszt’s Paraphrases and Transcriptions – this is an impressive and delightful programme which presents Niu Niu as a serious and gifted pianist”. (amazon.co.uk)

brittencarolsA ceremony of carols [sound recording] : op. 28 ; Saint Nicolas : op. 42 / Britten.
“Stephen Layton leads the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Holst Singers in two of Benjamin Britten’s most popular choral works for Christmastide. The cantata Saint Nicolas tells the story of the original Santa Claus, a fourth-century saint whose altruistic acts led to his canonization as patron saint of children and sailors. Britten’s lively setting is distinctly operatic, full of atmosphere and color – with the story brought ‘home’ through the use of congregational hymns.” (Amazon.com Review)

starlight expressThe Starlight Express [sound recording] / Edward Elgar.
“This fairytale melodrama was adapted from a book by Algernon Blackwood A Prisoner in Fairyland for a West End theatre production staged during World War 1 with music by Elgar. Based on a new score which has been adapted by Sir Andrew Davis who also here conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra this is the most comprehensive recorded version to date. The two-disc set includes the incidental music with narrative by Simon Callow and an extended suite of freestanding orchestral movements and songs”. (amazon.com)

coverimage13_1The Piano Guys [sound recording].
“Rather self explanatory, but a wonderful series of pieces that cross genres and bring out the best in this modern ensemble. ‘The Piano Guys’ bring modern works to the table and reinvent them. Anybody else interested to see how they interpret ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and ‘What makes you beautiful’?” (Syndetics summary)

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Mind & Body Newsletter for February

This month’s Mind & Body selections offer a range of cooking ideas for health, lean budgets or just to discover a few new recipes. In sports, Jon Bridges’ offers a gentle introduction to the beginning cyclist; and in beliefs, John Stedman does his bit to simmer the flames in the atheism/religion debate with ‘Faithiest’.

Library News

Cooking

Bread, cake-decorating, food for entertaining, and retro sixties cooking — we hope you enjoy our picks of this month’s new cookbooks!

Syndetics book coverGreedy Girl’s Diet : eat yourself slim with gorgeous guilt-free food / Nadia Sawalha; photography Keiko Oikawa.
“Nadia Sawalha has always loved cooking, but until recently rarely ate her own food. Like a lot of women, whilst her family tucked in to delicious dishes, she nibbled on diet food. Later, ravenously hungry, she binged, somehow convincing herself that the calories didn’t count if nobody saw her eating them.” (Library Catalogue)
“Nadia’s approach is simple and sensible – a little less oil, a leaner cut of meat, brown instaed of white rice, more herbs and spices, and a dessert every day. The 100 recipes in her Greedy Girl’s Diet are healthy, satisfying nd full of flavour.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverGluten-Free & Vegan Bread : artisanal recipes to make at home / Jennifer Katzinger ; photographs by Kathryn Barnard.
“Jennifer Katzinger makes baking artisanal gluten-free and vegan breads at home simple. This cookbook contains recipes for yeasted breads, fougasse, flatbreads, sweet breads, sourdough, quick breads, savory breads, sandwich breads. More than 60 recipes, including Country Baguette, Cinnamon Pecan Rolls, Kalamata Olive Bread, Simple Focaccia, Quinoa Crackers, Matzo Flatbread, Walnut Wild Rice Bread, Quick Anadama Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Cranberry Pecan Bread, and fifty others.” — Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverThe Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating [electronic resource] / Ruth Clemens.
“Find out how even the busiest of busy girls can whip up impressive homemade treats in next to no time! Ruth Clemens, finalist on the original series of The Great British Bake Off, shares her secrets in creating speedy but gorgeous cakes, bakes and biscuits. Choose from 25 beautiful projects to make in under an hour, under 3 hours or less than a day and be amazed at what you can achieve!” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook : the ultimate guide to the gluten-free, milk-free diet / Pamela J. Compart and Dana Laake.
“This special diet has become an essential step of treatment for families struggling with autism and ADHD. And these recipes for gluten- and casein-free foods, meals, and snack are simple to prepare and yummy, – making it easier than ever to please kids who have behavioral or developmental challenges, or are just picky eaters.” (Book jacket – Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverModern Australian Food / [food director, Pamela Clark].
“Australian food has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. We have become a nation of foodies, knowledgeable and discriminating. Modern Australian Food showcases the best of our recipes from our city café culture, to country cooking to coastal food.” – back cover.

Syndetics book coverNutmeg & Custard / Marcus Wareing ; with Chantelle Nicholson.
“Nutmeg and Custard is Marcus Wareing’s definitive guide to the kind of food you will want to share time and time again with family and friends. With over 100 stunning recipes …..divided into themed chapters … there is something here for everyone who loves great food.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverTake One Pot : super simple recipes cooked in one pot, / Georgina Fuggle, photography by Tara Fisher.
“The beauty of cooking in one pot is that it involves minimal fuss. All the recipes can be created in just one single vessel – the roasting tin, the casserole, the deep frying pan or the baking dish, so no specialist equipment is required. The recipes cater to cooks of all levels of expertise and include tips on how to get ahead, recipe variations and serving ideas. Whether you’re cooking a family meal or a quick supper, Take One Pot delivers satisfying and comforting food.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSpice Trip / Stevie Parle & Emma Grazette.
“Stevie Parle and Emma Grazette are on a mission to spice up Britain’s kitchens and demystify the treasures hidden away in our cupboards. They have been on an incredible spice trip to all corners of the world to discover the secrets of six essential everyday spices and poured the best recipes, therapies and mementoes from their journey onto the pages of this book for us all to take home and use.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook : more than 100 retro recipes for the modern cook / by Rick Rodgers and Heather MacLean.
“Smartly timed to coincide with the new season of AMC’s Mad Men, this compilation of retro recipes from Rodgers (Thanksgiving 101) and Maclean (co-author, Fabulicious!) covers all the requisite dishes for 60s-style entertaining, including Piggies in Blankets, a rumaki that suggests substituting pineapple or dates for those averse to chicken liver, a tomato and shrimp aspic, and Chicken a la King…. Rodgers and Maclean provide plenty of fun food ideas.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverDr. Mao’s Secrets of Longevity Cookbook : eat to thrive, live long, and be healthy / Mao Shing Ni ; photography by Philip Dixon.
“This cookbook shares recipes from some of the most famous “longevity capitals” of the world, gathered from Dr. Mao’s extensive centenarian and patient interviews. The recipes make use of the top ten healing and longevity foods, while still tasting delicious!” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverWheat Belly Cookbook : 150 recipes to lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health / William Davis, MD.
“This cookbook companion to the New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly serves up 150 great tasting wheat-free recipes to help readers lose weight and beat disease.”(Library Catalogue)
“Join the wheat-free revolution right from your kitchen with 150 sumptuous dishes for any occasion designed to slim you down and improve your health. The Wheat Belly Cookbook is your guide to living a slim, vibrant, delicious life.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverSo Easy : luscious, healthy recipes for every meal of the week / Ellie Krieger ; photography by Alexandra Grablewski.
“As weekly host of the Food Network’s “Healthy Appetite,” Krieger is known for creating light and healthy dishes that are easy to prepare. With 150 delicious fortifying recipes, “So Easy” makes it simple to tackle any mealtime situation. 50 color photos.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRound the World in Eighty Dishes : the world through the kitchen window / Lesley Blanch ; with illustrations by the author.
“Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, America, Egypt, Romania and Bulgaria are just some of the countries where this adventurous and inquisitive traveller has investigated the cooking pots and enjoyed – or otherwise – the hospitality of the locals. An incurable romantic, Miss Blanch invests the food she describes with the aura of exoticism.” -Elizabeth David – (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverTart It Up! : sweet & savoury tarts & pies / Eric Lanlard ; photography by Kate Whitaker.
“From a ‘proper’ Quiche Lorraine to an indulgent Raspberry Cheesecake Pie, Eric lanlard , best selling author of Home Bake and co-author of Cox Cookies and Cake, shares his secrets for creating delicious pies and tarts every time you bake.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe $120 Food Challenge / Sandra Reynolds ; photography by Rob Palmer.
“Can you feed a family of four on $120 a week? In these days of rising food costs it sounds impossible, but Sandra Reynolds – home cook, household budget supremo and single mum – shows how. Based on Sandra’s enormously successful blog, this book provides tried-and-tested advice on how to budget, plan meals, shop strategically and cook from more than 100 delicious recipes…” (Book Jacket)

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Sports, Fitness & Recreation

This month’s selection of new books include books on cricket, boxing, martial arts, cycling golf, poker, swimming, running, sports coaching, bridge and more.

Syndetics book coverCoaching Excellence / Frank Pyke, editor.
“No single resource can convey everything that a coach should know and do. So Coaching Excellence does the next best thing: it builds on the basics to provide you with a wealth of information so you can become more adept in your role as an excellent coach. Eighteen experts offer the best knowledge, research and insights that you can apply in working with your athletes, players and teams.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges / Richard Hoad and Paul Moore.
“The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges is a truly inspiring and beautiful collection of what we can achieve when racing to the limits. With full-colour stunning photography, coverage of every detail of these cruel challenges and including accounts of competitors who have lived to tell the tale, this book is a wonderful testament to those who face Mother Nature and survive.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSilent Mind Golf : How to Empty Your Mind and Play Golf Instinctively / Robin Sieger ; foreword by Tony Jacklin.
“Imagine being able to achieve the perfect mental state to make your best possible swing over every shot. Being fearless at critical putts and stepping up with an inner calm that allows you to play great golf every time you stand over the ball.Now, Silent Mind Golf , the first in a major four-book series from Robin Seiger, removes the mystery behind the mental prowess that lies at the heart of peak performance….free of jargon, with easy-to-follow exercises and inspiring examples drawn from the lives of golf’s greatest players, this unique book will be your guide to developing the single most neglected, least understood and ultimately decisive dimension of the game: mental strength.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverRide : from ultra-cycling rookie to racing across America / Josh Kench.
“At his brother’s wedding in 2002, 30-year-old Josh Kench … announced that he was going to do the Coast to Coast. His pronouncement was met with derision but he’s proved his doubters wrong. Josh won the 2010 Ultra-enduro Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge covering a mind-numb[ing] 8 laps of the 160km course in 55 hours. But that was only the start. In June 2011, the 39-year-old Wellington plumber lined up to compete in the Race Across America – a 16-day race covering 4828km from California to Maryland. This is the story of how an ordinary Kiwi bloke became an ultra-endurance athlete and decided to take on the world”–Publisher’s information.

Syndetics book coverThe Tao of Gung Fu : a study in the way of Chinese martial art / Bruce Lee ; edited by John Little.
“This is the book that Bruce Lee had intended to publish as an in-depth follow up to his Chinese Gung Fu. Prior to his death, he had written the majority of the text, which explores such topics as yin-yang as it applies to martial arts, Eastern and Western fitness methodologies, and studies of martial arts and self-defense techniques. Also included is Bruce Lees Gung Fu scrapbook of anecdotes on the histories and traditions of the various martial arts of China. The manuscript was completed and edited by martial arts expert John Little in cooperation with the Bruce Lee Estate.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSuperfly : The Jimmy Snuka Story / Jimmy Snuka with Jon Chattman.
“Focusing on the superstar who single-handedly influenced the development of sports entertainment, this autobiography highlights the legacy of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) icon Jimmy Snuka….This fascinating account relates how a native of the Fiji Islands was at the center of two of wrestling’s most talked-about moments: the night Snuka leapt from the top of the 15-foot cage–only to miss his opponent and consequently lose the match–and the night Rowdy Roddy Piper smashed a coconut over Snuka’s head during a segment of Piper’s Pit in 1984. Exposing the amazing life of this WWE Hall of Fame member in detail, this record presents the ups and downs of a wrestler who grew to be a key figure in the expansion of the company and all professional wrestling”– Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverBradman’s War : How the 1948 invincibles turned the cricket pitch into a battlefield / Malcolm Knox.
“Hailed as one of the greatest cricket teams of all time, the 1948 ‘Invincibles’ are the only Australians to complete a tour of England undefeated….In his revelatory account of the legendary tour, Malcolm Knox lays bare the shock among the fans, commentators and players’; from both teams at Bradman’s single-minded on- and off-field tactics, as he exacted revenge for pre-war slights he was unable to shake off in his pursuit of history….The Invincibles is more than a record of an extraordinary cricket achievement….it also prompts reflection on what place entertainment and inspiration have in competitive sport.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverEasy Rider : A Kiwi’s Guide to Cycling / Jon Bridges.
“Outlines the many joys of riding a bike in New Zealand, and provides a complete beginners’ guide – from riding for fun, to commuting, riding for fitness, mountain biking and even racing. We learn about the reasons for, the reasons against (there aren’t any), the basics of buying a bike and getting started, riding in New Zealand traffic, training and racing, safety and etiquette, maintenance, gizmos, gadgets, Lycra – and so much more.” – Cover flap.

Syndetics book coverOn Par : The Everyday Golfer’s Survival Guide / Bill Pennington.
“Called “the voice of the everyday golfer,” Pennington, the New York Times “On Par” columnist, writes a hilarious, informative primer on the essentials of golf, schooling novices or the professional bewitched by mastering the links…… A chapter on golf-speak will tickle readers with a sampling of the colorful jargon of golf pros such as air mail (overshooting), cabbage (deep rough), or Saddam Hussein (going from bunker to bunker). Tongue-in-cheek, he writes the role of being a good golf partner means effective teamwork rather than attracting attention with “mismatched socks or an unzipped fly.” (Syndetics, Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGlorious Summers and Discontents : selected writings from a dramatic decade / Mike Atherton.
“Former England Cricket captain Mike Atherton was named the Sports Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in March 2010.. This book compiles Atherton’s best writings over the last decade, to provide a revealing and insightful portrait of modern cricket and much else besides..” (Global Books)

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Religion and beliefs

Spiritual healing, church history and mindfulness meditation all feature in this month’s selections. Don’t forget that our Gale database has many religions and beliefs periodicals in full text. Titles include : Interpretation, Islam & Science, Journal of religion and popular culture, Journal of theological studies and many more. Use your library card to login for free.

Syndetics book coverNine lives : the Enneagram in life stories, by Eric Foggitt.
Why do we make the same mistakes over and over? Why do people make crazy choices? Can we change and grow up or are we like the proverbial leopard with his spots? In these nine short stories you’ll meet… a whole cast of [characters] who find out – eventually – that it is possible to change and grow. Each of the main characters is a different Enneagram type.

Syndetics book coverThe complete Buddhism for mothers : Buddhism for mothers, Buddhism for mothers of young children, Buddhism for mothers of schoolchildren, by Sarah Napthali.
Become a calmer and happier mother with The Complete Buddhism For Mothers. Parenthood can be a time of great inner turmoil for a woman, yet parenting books invariably focus on nurturing children rather than the mothers who struggle to raise them. … In her clear and engaging way, Sarah Napthali takes us on a journey through the challenges (and the pleasures!) of raising children, using Buddhist teachings and principles to help her answer the eternal questions of mothers everywhere: Who am I now? Where am I going? And how can I do my best by my children and myself? … Even if exploring Buddhism at this busy stage of your life is not where you thought you’d be, it’s well worth reading this book. (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe first Muslim : the story of Muhammad, by Lesley Hazleton.
“It is surprising how little most people know about the life of the prophet Muhammad. Hazleton sets out to rectify that in this eminently readable biography. Relying on two biographies from the eighth and ninth centuries, as well as other sources, she presents Muhammad’s life as both history and story. It begins with a moving scene: Muhammad alone in the barren mountains, at night, praying and waiting. Who he is and how he came to be there are revealed in chapters that show him as an orphan in need of protection, as a young camel driver appreciated for his fairness, as a prophet touched by Allah, and as a political leader driven to bring the message to all those with ears to listen. … A highly readable, insightful biography.” Drawn from Booklist, courtesy of Syndetics.

Syndetics book coverBuddha’s book of sleep : sleep better in seven weeks with mindfulness meditation, by Joseph Emet ; [foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh].
Buddha’s Book of Sleep is the first book to treat sleep disorders from the perspective of mindfulness meditation. Yet this is a natural choice – mindfulness meditation has proven effective for other psychological problems such as stress, depression and anxiety and these very issues are what become sleep problems when our heads hit the pillow. Divided into two sections, this book attacks sleep disorders with a combination of wisdom and practical meditation exercises. … [this] will help the reader calm their hurried thoughts and rest easy. (description from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWhen “spiritual but not religious” is not enough : seeing God in surprising places, even the church, by Lillian Daniel.
“In this wise and witty collection, some of them short musings and others in-depth theological explorations, United Church of Christ pastor Daniels [writes] about people who feel compelled to tell her they find God in nature, as if Christians “never heard all those Old Testament psalms that praise God in the beauty of natural creation,” she dissects shallow, individualistic spirituality, and evokes the rough beauty of church where “we are stuck with one another.” Whether pondering the reality of never-completed jobs (like parenting), sharing lessons learned from teaching in Sing Sing prison, or describing her personal struggles with yoga and meditation through the lens of the Martha and Mary story, Daniels offers an honest, often hilarious perspective on faithful living….” (drawn from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverJesus wars : how four patriarchs, three queens, and two emperors decided what Christians would believe for the next 1,500 years, by Philip Jenkins.
Historian Philip Jenkins tells the fascinating, violent story of the Church’s fifth century battles over ‘right belief’ that had a far greater impact on the future of Christianity and the world than the much-touted Council of Nicea convened by Constantine a century before. Over the last 2000 years, Christians have repeatedly struggled to resolve the tension between two seemingly rival claims: Jesus was fully human and yet fully divine. Never was the debate more central to Christianity than during the Church Councils of the fifth century…. (drawn from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWisdom of compassion: stories of remarkable encounters and timeless insights
“An attendee at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s meetings all over the world and coauthor with him (The Wisdom of Forgiveness), Chan provides an insider’s account of the spiritual master’s teachings at venues large and small. “This is the Dalai Lama in context,” he writes, “live, unscripted, and at his most charismatic.” Encounters are arranged by theme: “Overcoming Adversity,” “Educating the Heart,” and “Compassion in Action.” … These inspiring dialogues communicate His Holiness’s worldwide appeal and essential commitment to compassion. (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverJews and words, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger.
“These four long essays – really more of a free-flowing conversation between the noted Israeli novelist and his daughter, a historian-focus primarily on the Jews as “a nation only by virtue of its texts,” from the Bible to the work of contemporary Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai – and the interpretations and argumentations that flow from them. The authors, secular Jews who are lovers of the Hebrew Bible, note that “Genesis, Isaiah, and Proverbs are our pyramids… our Gothic cathedrals… undemolished in the flow of time.” They look specifically at the role of “vocal women,” such as Eve and Lilith, in the Bible and biblical legends…. it will appeal to lay readers interested in a nonreligious Judaism based on contemporary readings of traditional and more modern Jewish texts. (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverFool me twice : fighting the assault on science in America, by Shawn Lawrence Otto.
“Otto (founder and CEO, ScienceDebate.org) provides the latest defense of science in the ongoing culture wars. From the space program to the public debates on evolution and global warming, Otto makes the case that postmodern ideologies like the “marketplace of ideas” and the equality of different “ways of knowing” have resulted in a devaluation of scientific knowledge in the media, the general public, and the political spheres. Politicians, journalists, the public, and scientists themselves all share the blame for the shrinking role science plays in public discourse and policy….. Although overly polemic at times, the arguments are eloquent and the sources rigorous and thorough. The information contained in the book is critical to an informed electorate and enlightened policy makers. (drawn from CHOICE review, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverEthics, by Julian Baggini ; series editor, Simon Blackburn.
The Big Questions series is designed to let renowned experts confront the 20 most fundamental and frequently asked questions of a major branch of science or philosophy. In ‘The Big Questions: Ethics’ Julian Baggini, one of Britain’s best-known philosophers, condenses complex, contemporary issues of right and wrong into 20 key questions. He examines how we can start to answer them, what they might mean to us and how they influence the way we choose to live our lives. The ideas debated include : Can it ever be right to kill? Should euthanasia be legal? Do animals have rights? (drawn from goodreads.com)

Syndetics book coverLet it go : forgive so you can be forgiven, by T.D. Jakes.
This book explores forgiveness as an idea and at the same time offers specific and clear actions for readers who seek to apply the idea in their daily lives. Offenses are a part of life, he says. But conflicts can be resolved and relationships do have a future, if we learn how to forgive. No matter how great or small the injustice, Jakes shows how the matter can be put behind you for the sake of a better tomorrow if you can “Let It Go.”

Syndetics book coverUnapologetic : Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense, by Francis Spufford.
“A book written for atheists. I was giggling all of the way through. A very sweary book but I think the language helps make his point. For once we have a defence of faith which is predicated not on nit picking arguments but rather on how it feels to believe, and how it feels right to the author. I identify with him a lot. I love the honesty of his writing. He has no pat answers. I’m sure many traditional Christians will be offended by this book. And that is sad. Couldn’t put it down…” Goodreads customer review.

Syndetics book coverFaitheist : how an atheist found common ground with the religious, by Chris Stedman.
In Faitheist, Stedman draws on his work organizing interfaith and secular communities, his academic study of religion, and his own experiences to argue for the necessity of bridging the growing chasm between atheists and the religious. As someone who has stood on both sides of the divide, Stedman is uniquely positioned to present a way for atheists and the religious to find common ground and work together to make this world – the one world we can all agree on – a better place. (drawn from the publisher’s description)

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Health

Selections include: using food as medicine to create better health; improving metabolism to lose weight; an anatomy manual revealing what happens to the body during exercise; how to help prevent anxiety; using traumatic past events to promote positive change; restoring health with yoga and meditation; the effects of a rare autoimmune condition called anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis; what to eat when diagnosed with cancer; understanding human trauma in relation to wild animals; the history of influenza and the effect of doctors in Victorian England society in the field of mental health.

Syndetics book coverJanella Purcell’s elixir : how to use food as medicine / Janella Purcell.
”Janella Purcell believes that the food we eat affects our physical body, and also our mind and spirit. In this invaluable book she shares her expertise in foods, health, and nutrition, and shows you how to care for yourself, naturally and easily, using food as medicine at home. In this entertaining and practical guide, Janella presents an intriguing variety of subjects and information. These range from suggestions to assist healthy aging, to a discussion on organic produce and why you should use it, to tips for those suffering from headache, fatigue, immunity problems, fertility issues, and Syndrome X – among many, many other topics. Also included are easy-to-prepare recipes using some wonderful ingredients that will quickly become part of your recipe repertoire and make you feel fabulous. Janella Purcell’s Elixir introduces us to what Eastern philosophy has been practicing for thousands of years – the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit and how this affects our state of mind, health, and personality. Janella Purcell’s Elixir is really a volume to use, to keep, and to treasure.” (Book Description)

Syndetics book coverThe thyroid solution diet : boost your sluggish metabolism to lose weight / Ridha Arem.
“In this follow-up to The Thyroid Solution, endocrinologist Arem, clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Texas Thyroid Institute, presents a detailed diet plan to rebalance the hormone systems and speed up metabolism. Arem says cutting calories doesn’t work; instead, his method ramps up thyroid hormone activity, lowers ghrelin levels (the hormone that stimulates appetite), and boosts leptin sensitivity (the hormone that limits food intake). In Part I Arem explains how hormones and a sluggish metabolism can lead to weight gain. He also reveals how stress can result in overeating, and delves into the importance of sleep and its effect on hormones. Part II zeros in on an adapted combination of the Mediterranean Diet and the PRO Diet (Protein-Rich Oriental Diet), featuring foods that maximize metabolism efficiency with an emphasis on timing and scheduling meals to work with the body’s natural rhythms. The third section presents a step-by-step weight-loss program as well as a “20/10″ exercise program (20 minutes of cardio-focused high intensity interval training plus 10 minutes of strength training). Readers seeking a quick fix won’t find it, but those who are willing to work a little harder and dig into the scientific underpinnings of weight loss may be fascinated by the connections to hormones.” (Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe student’s anatomy of exercise manual / chief consultant, Ken Ashwell.
”The Student’s Anatomy of Exercise Manual is designed to improve the reader’s understanding of how the body works during exercise. It features common exercises (including weight lifting, stretching, and cardiovascular) and uses detailed full-colour anatomical illustrations to show exactly which muscles are used in each exercise – including identifying active and stabilizer muscles. Readers can see what’s happening inside the body during a workout session. Visualizing and understanding exactly which muscles are activated during various exercises will not only increase knowledge of anatomy and understanding of how the body works, but it will help improve the effectiveness of workout and rehabilitation routines. The Student’s Anatomy of Exercise Manual contains a 30-page colouring-in workbook featuring black-and-white line illustrations of parts of the muscular system, to help readers memorize the location of the various muscles. A glossary of anatomical terms is also included…” (Book Description)

Syndetics book coverRelax : say goodbye to anxiety and panic / Patrick McCarthy.
“This book, for people who experience anxiety and panic attacks, explains how anxiety occurs and offers a simple three-step process to prevent it. Written in a conversational, easy-to-read style by a doctor specialising in medical hypnosis, the book is accompanied by a CD that provides a self-hypnosis process to prevent anxiety and panic attacks that has been used to treat thousands of people. The CD teaches people how to relax in less than a minute, replace negative thoughts with positive ones in less than a second, and change from a pessimistic to an optimistic style of thinking.” (HUIA Publishers)

Syndetics book coverWhat doesn’t kill us : the new psychology of posttraumatic growth / Stephen Joseph.
” For the past twenty years, pioneering psychologist Stephen Joseph has worked with survivors of trauma. His studies have yielded a startling discovery: that a wide range of traumatic events – from illness, divorce, separation, assault, and bereavement to accidents, natural disasters, and terrorism – can act as catalysts for positive change. Boldly challenging the conventional wisdom about trauma and its aftermath, Joseph demonstrates that rather than ruining one’s life, a traumatic event can actually improve it. Drawing on the wisdom of ancient philosophers, the insights of evolutionary biologists, and the optimism of positive psychologists, “What Doesn’t Kill Us” reveals how all of us can navigate change and adversity – traumatic or otherwise – to find new meaning, purpose, and direction in life.” (Book Description)

Syndetics book coverYoga and meditation : a holistic approach to perfect homeostasis / Yogini Shubh Veer.
”…Dr Yogini Shubh Veer has been teaching yoga and meditation for over 4 decades and in Yoga and Meditation she shares her rich experience to help you restore your physical and mental balance. You’ll learn the basics of life: Breathing, pranayama and prana, diet, ethics, relaxation, concentration and will discover how each one has an impact on your daily life. In clear simple language, the intricacies of yoga and meditation are explained. 108 yoga postures with some 400 step-by-step illustrations and instructions are included – including the complete ‘Surya Namaskar’, Salutation to the sun, 24 postures in one. Lessons on relaxation will help to ease any tension and depression and the sections on yoga’s relation to holism and homeostasis will let you unlock the secret to optimal health. Yoga and Meditation will help you to discover nature’s amazing way to perfect homeostasis, the key to health, through the millennia old legacy of yoga and meditation.” (Book Description)

Syndetics book coverOh baby : birth, babies and motherhood uncensored / Kathy Fray.
” Refreshingly honest, openly frank and candidly blunt, this book has been written by a mother for other mothers. It oozes with warm fuzzies, it reeks of mumsy terms, it exudes realism in every paragraph and it is refreshing in its guiltless honesty. Modern first-time mothers are often alone – devoid of once traditional motherhood knowledge and practical support. Often previously self-confident women find themselves inconceivably isolated, hopelessly fumbling over everyday mothering tasks, enduring torturous levels of sleep deprivation, feeling desperately despondent and physiologically aching and leaking everywhere. This book provides supportive, caring advice – one Mum to another – while at the same time serving as an encyclopaedic medical reference regarding the mother and baby. Checked thoroughly by medical professionals, this book is a unique blend, like having access to a kind and gentle GP as well as to all the gems of wisdom of years of mothers’ coffee groups. This new title clearly and compassionately explains the ups as well as the downs which are perfectly normal aspects of giving birth and mothering in today’s society.” (Book Description)

Syndetics book coverWaking the tiger : healing trauma : the innate capacity to transform overwhelming experiences / Peter A. Levine ; with Ann Frederick. Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma – The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
“Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed. Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.” (Book Description)

Syndetics book coverBrain on fire : my month of madness / Susannah Cahalan.
“New York Post reporter Cahalan details the madness that briefly robbed her of her independence and ability to write. At first, the author’s erratic behavior seemed symptomatic of overwork. Soon, her lack of physical control and frightening, self-destructive behavior became impossible to ignore. Following a string of misdiagnoses, a top neurologist recognized a then newly discovered autoimmune condition called anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis. With the help of her doctor and supportive family and boyfriend, Cahalan recovered and was back at work within a year…” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHow to eat well when you have cancer / Jane Freeman.
“Diet in cancer is a highly emotive area and one of great confusion. Has my diet caused my cancer? Will I recover if I give up dairy products? Is it worth spending money on supplements? This book is a practical nutritional guide for those diagnosed with cancer, those undergoing treatment, and those whose treatment is over. It tackles the problems associated with nutrition and cancer, such as lack of appetite, nausea and dehydration. It suggests ways to keep up your strength and energy, particularly when you don’t feel like eating. Other topics include how to avoid infection and help the healing process; monitoring your food intake and weight; and planning an eating plan that’s right for you. Includes recipes.” (Book Description)

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Personal Development

New Year’s resolutions to keep and habits you want to change? Have a browse of our picks from the latest new personal development books!

Syndetics book coverMadly in love with me : the daring adventure of becoming your own best friend / Christine Arylo.
“Most of us know that loving ourselves would be a good idea, but we have no clue what that really means. Self-love feels too vast, too esoteric, and frankly like something you should keep under wraps. This breakthrough book on self-love changes all that by taking you beyond the idea of loving, valuing, and caring for yourself into daring acts that will help you experience it. Christine Arylo provides practical, fun ways to explore and embody the ten branches of self-love every day and in every part of your life. Reading this book is like receiving permission to treat yourself as a best friend would.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverChangeology : 5 steps to realizing your goals and resolutions / John C. Norcross, with Kristin Loberg and Jonathon Norcross.
“Change is hard. But not if you know the 5-step formula that works whether you’re trying to stop smoking or start recycling. Dr. John C. Norcross, an internationally recognized expert, has studied how people make transformative, permanent changes in their lives. Over the past thirty years, he and his research team have helped thousands of people overcome dozens of behavioural ailments. Now his cutting-edge, scientific approach to personal improvement is being made available in this indispensable guide. Unlike 95 percent of self-help books, the Changeology plan has a documented track record of success. Whether you want to quit overeating or drinking, or end depression, debt, and relationship distress, Dr. Norcross gives you the tools you need to change what you want within 90 days.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFearless at work : timeless teachings for awakening confidence, resilience, and creativity in the face of life’s demands / Michael Carroll.
“Work is such a crucial part of our life, and yet we often struggle with-and feel overwhelmed by-the numerous challenges it presents us. Whether it’s job insecurity, making peace with or leaving an unfulfilling job, or dealing with office conflicts, we often experience fear and a sense of groundlessness just at a time when we want to be our most creative and resilient. Drawing on Buddhist philosophy, Michael Carroll, a longtime human-resources executive, meditation teacher, and executive coach, explains how the practice of mindfulness-full awareness of our moment-to-moment experience-can help us become more confident and open to possibility in our work life. He offers a system of potent, inspiring principles that we can use as a practice for helping us work with our insecurities and awakening our natural bravery, resourcefulness, and resilience.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe as if principle : the radically new approach to changing your life / Richard Wiseman.
“Change the way you behave and you change the way you feel – that’s the simple and powerful message in this insightful and engaging new book by internationally renowned psychologist Richard Wiseman. Most self-help books encourage you to think differently: to think yourself thin, imagine a richer self or to visualize the perfect you. This is difficult, time consuming, and often doesn’t work. Ripping up the rule book, Professor Richard Wiseman, renowned psychologist with 90,000 Twitter followers and 13 million YouTube viewers, presents a radical new insight into your body and brain: that it’s your actions that have the power to instantly change the way you think and feel. Smile and you’ll become measurably happier. Clench your fist and you will increase your willpower. Put a spring in your step and you will feel instantly younger. Acting, not thinking, is what controls your emotions and allows you to unleash your hidden potential. Drawing on a dazzling array of scientific evidence, Professor Wiseman shows how this simple idea can be used to easily increase motivation, overcome depression, lose weight, stop smoking, and even slow aging. So don’t just think about changing your life. Do it.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe antidote : happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking / Oliver Burkeman.
“Self-help books dont seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth, even if you can get it doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can’t even agree on what happiness means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way? Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hard-headed business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty – the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent persons guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe 5 elements of effective thinking / Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird.
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed – they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself – revealing previously hidden opportunities. Filled with engaging examples that unlock truths about thinking in every walk of life, ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’ is written for all who want to reach their fullest potential – including students, parents, teachers, businesspeople, professionals, athletes, artists, leaders, and lifelong learners. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking will inspire and guide you on your way.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverHold me tight : your guide to the most successful approach to building loving relationships / Sue Johnson.
“In Hold Me Tight, Dr Sue Johnson shares her highly effective therapy programme: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Forget learning how to argue better and making grand romantic gestures. Instead, Johnson teaches that the way to enhance – or save – a relationship is to re-establish a secure emotional attachment and preserve the ‘bond’ between you. This model has achieved an astounding 75 per cent success rate. Through illuminating case studies from her practice, advice and practical exercises, couples will learn how to nurture their relationships and ensure a lifetime of love.” (Book cover)

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People & Places Newsletter for March

In this month’s People & Places: the tumultuous life of Margaret Mitchell, ‘Gone with the Wind”s Scarlett O’Hara; Karl Pilkington continues to travel to exotic locations – hating every minute – for our amusement; and ‘Listening In’ provides the closest thing to a JFK autobiography – phone conversations, meetings and reflections recorded in the Oval Office.

Library News

Biography

Scarlett O’Hara is probably one of the best -known heroines in modern fiction.What is less well-known is that the author’s life was almost as tumultuous as that of her fictional creation.. Mitchell’s life mirrored Scarlett’s in that she rejected a conventional suitor and chose a wild outsider instead. But unlike Scarlett she was given a second chance, and that union gave birth to ‘Gone with the wind’.
Two other books selected this month feature second chances. Many will have seen the moving French film ” The Intouchables“.- ‘A second wind’ is the true story behind it. Phillipe Pozzi de Borgo was a wealthy champagne magnate who became a quadraplegic after a hang-gliding accident. Abdel was the tough, streetwise Algerian immigrant who reluctantly became his carer. His bucaneering approach to life gave fun and freedom to Philippe and ultimately helped him to find his life partner. In a neat juxtaposition looking after Philippe led to a new life for Abdel.
Award-winning writer Elie Weisel was given the gift of a new life after heart surgery. In “Open heart’ he reflects on his life – his successes and dispappointments and his hope that he had made the world a better place.

Syndetics book coverWives and stunners : the Pre-Raphaelites and their muses / Henrietta Garnett.
“Essentially a domestic biography whose main concern is the tragicomedy of manners enacted by a closely knit group of friends and lovers,’ Wives and Stunners’ tells the story of Janey Morris, Georgie Burne-Jones, Lizzie Siddall, Effie Gray and–less well-known–Marie Spartali, Aglaia Coronio and Mary Zambacco.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverMargaret Mitchell & John Marsh : the love story behind Gone with the wind / a biography by Marianne Walker.
“Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), author of Gone With the Wind , jilted her kind, protective suitor, John Marsh, and instead married Red Upshaw, an unstable bootlegger who physically abused her. Even after she divorced Upshaw, Mitchell, according to Walker, was a confused romantic who in many ways resembled her heroine, Scarlett O’Hara. A “classic demanding-dependent personality,” Mitchell found more than a supportive fatherly mate in public relations executive Marsh, whom she finally married in 1925. Walker, a professor of English and philosophy at the University of Kentucky-Henderson Community College, reveals that Marsh played a vital role in the creation of Mitchell’s classic Civil War saga. He offered key ideas and advice, continuously edited the manuscript as his wife wrote it, and helped with the revision. Walker quotes liberally from the couple’s letters and also draws on interviews, family papers and archival research to tell a moving love story of a symbiotic union that lasted 24 years. A remarkable piece of detective work.” (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverA second wind / Philippe Pozzo di Borgo ; translated by Will Hobson.
“Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was not in the habit of asking for help. Then, in 1993, a paragliding accident left him a quadriplegic. The only person who wasn’t bothered by Philippe’s condition was Abdel, the unemployed Algerian immigrant from the outskirts of society who would become Philippe’s unlikely caretaker.”(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverOpen heart / Elie Wiesel ; translated by Marion Wiesel.
“A profoundly and unexpectedly intimate, deeply affecting summing up of his life so far, from one of the most cherished moral voices of our time. Eighty-two years old, facing emergency heart surgery and his own mortality, Elie Wiesel reflects back on his life. Emotions, images, faces and questions flash through his mind. His family before and during the unspeakable Event. The gifts of marriage and children and grandchildren that followed. In his writing, in his teaching, in his public life, has he done enough for memory and the survivors? His ongoing questioning of God—where has it led? Is there hope for mankind? The world’s tireless ambassador of tolerance and justice has given us this luminous account of hope and despair, an exploration of the love, regrets and abiding faith of a remarkable.”(Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverWilliam Colenso : printer, missionary, botanist, explorer, politician : his life and journeys / by A.G. Bagnall and G.C. Petersen ; [edited by Ian St George].
“Colenso, a Church Missionary Society missionary, printer and botanist, established the first printing press in New Zealand and printed the first book, 5000 copies of the New Testament in Māori, in 1837. He also printed the Treaty of Waitangi. His Authentic and genuine history of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (1890) is regarded as the most reliable European account from the time. Throughout his life, he defended the rights and equality of Māori. Posted to Hawke’s Bay and determined to expand the activities of the mission, Colenso undertook major journeys to reach isolated Māori villages on the east coast of the North Island and inland.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverMoranthology / Caitlin Moran.
“British journalist Moran’s (How To Be a Woman) award-winning columns for The Times are available here for an American audience for the first time. In the introduction, she declares her intentions to write “a collection of instances of how brilliant the world often is.” To that end, she covers topics that range from her personal history (being homeschooled in a housing project in the industrial city of Wolverhampton, her work interviewing musicians including Keith Richards and Lady Gaga), social issues (benefit reform, the welfare state, the importance of libraries, particularly to poor communities; she describes them as places “where the wealthy’s taxes pay for you to become a little more extraordinary”. (Summary from www.globalbooksinnprint.com).

Syndetics book coverThe watchmaker’s daughter / Sonia Taitz.
“From the time Taitz was small, her parents’ stories about the Holocaust were like telling me about the secrets of the cosmos. Parts of this refugee family’s dynamics were competitions about which parent’s family had suffered most my life was worse than yours . . . you don’t know from suffering and, more happily, affection. When Sonia’s adored father pulled her toward him, my joy was boundless I had been – selected.’ Only then, chosen, did I feel fully alive. Her Jewish home, where even the walls were sighing, makes her eager for an outside world and education. She realizes, however, that her promised land is not Yale Law School, and finally becomes her own true self while studying literature at Oxford”.(Booklist)

Syndetics book coverRaffles and the golden opportunity 1781-1826 / Victoria Glendinning.
“This is the first biography in decades of the ‘Father of Singapore’. Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) was the charismatic and persuasive founder of Singapore and Governor of Java. An English adventurer, disobedient employee of the East India Company, utopian imperialist, linguist, zoologist and civil servant, he carved an extraordinary (though brief) life for himself in South East Asia. The tropical, disease-ridden settings of his story are as dramatic as his own trajectory – an obscure young man with no advantages other than talent and obsessive drive, who changed history by establishing – without authority – on the wretchedly unpromising island of Singapore, a settlement which has become a world city”.(Wellington City Libraries’ catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverRobespierre : a revolutionary life / Peter McPhee.
“Historian and professor McPhee (Living the French Revolution, 1789-1799) adds to his volumes on French history with a comprehensive biography of the controversial, diminutive, outspoken, and ambitious man who overcame adversity to become a lawyer, who argued for the rights of children born out of wedlock and freedom of the press in 18th-century France, and whose name is inextricably linked with the French Revolution-for better or worse. McPhee maintains that Maximilien Robespierre “was seeking to make sense of the chaos of a world in revolutionary upheaval and to use his talents to create stability and certainty for a new order”-but at the end of his short life, he was “reviled as thoroughly as he had once been idolized.” (Book jacket).

Syndetics book coverMemé : the three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander / Memé Churton.
“Memé is half-Italian and half-Chinese and this unusual combination has coloured her personality and the course of her life. Growing up in Italy, she lived through the rise of Fascism and the Second World War. Next she went to China and found herself in the midst of the Chinese Revolution. Then she travelled to the other side of the world at the invitation of a New Zealand soldier whom she had met at the end of the war. Memé was shocked by the curiously old-fashioned and provincial way of life she found in 1950s New Zealand, but for various reasons she stayed, got married, and became involved in a variety of campaigns to enlarge its culture. She managed one of the first dealer art galleries, started one of its first European-style coffee bars, championed international cuisine, promoted fashion for women.”(Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverAn extraordinary theory of objects : a memoir of an outsider in Paris / Stephanie LaCava ; with illustrations by Matthew Nelson.
“Fashion writer Lavaca’s childhood and teenage years were strange and confounding. The author’s family moved from New York to a Parisian suburb in 1993 when she was 12; the next year she suffered a breakdown. Always considered a bit strange as a child, she found solace and a sense of order in collecting objects. She had a passion for ancient mythologies: “I was obsessed with cabinets of curiosities, historical efforts to catalog and control nature’s oddities,” Lacava writes. As an adult Lacava began looking back over her life “through a narrative illuminated with objects and their respective stories.”(Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverLife is a gift : the zen of Bennett / Tony Bennett ; foreword by Mitch Albom.
“Relaxed and comfortable but full of vigor, Bennett’s voice has charmed audiences for more than 60 years. Writing in the same style as he sings, in this new work he shares meditative lessons culled from his amazing life. Having learned the value of hard work during the Great Depression, the pointlessness of war during WWII, and the importance of being true to yourself during a career that has seen musical fads come and go over and over, Bennett (The Good Life, with Will Friedwald) has developed a loose set of rules by which he lives. Whether he is suggesting people “Only Sing Good Songs” or “Everything Should be Done with Love,” Bennett explains how these tenets have shaped his success and makes suggestions about how others can apply them to their lives”. (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverThe varnished untruth : my story / Pamela Stephenson.
“This is the autobiography of Pamela Stephenson, the wife of Billy Connelly and renowned writer and actress in her own right.”I am darn good at getting under other people’s skin, but opening up about my own life is quite a different matter. So how shall I portray myself? There are choices, you know: Wife, mother, psychologist, writer, comedian, actor, dancer, diver, gypsy, dreamer, rich girl, poor girl, beggar girl, thief. I am all of those and more. Tell you what, you decide. You decide exactly what I am.” A complicated childhood in Australia, a bold move to London, being a woman in a man’s world on Not the Nine O’Clock News, becoming Mrs Billy Connolly, motherhood, career changes and then Strictly Come Dancing – told in her own inimitable style”.(Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

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Travel stories & guides

New travel books, taking you from Antarctica to Japan, Europe, China, Africa and ‘Around India in 80 Trains’.

Syndetics book coverTokyo on foot : travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods / text and illustrations by Florent Chavouet.
“In this first English edition of a graphic memoir of a young French graphic artist of his stay in Tokyo in 2006, Chavouet presents his sketches evidently inspired by Japanese cartoon styles, hand-drawn maps, and impressions of the sights, sounds, and cultural quirks of the neighborhoods of what he notes has been called “the most beautiful of ugly cities.” The book was originally published in 2009 by Editions Philippe Picquier, and awarded a prize that year at the International Festival of Geography. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere, there, elsewhere : stories from the road / William Least Heat-Moon.
“”It’s collected-works time for the renowned author of such outstanding travel literature as Blue Highways (1983) and River-Horse (1999). Thirty magazine pieces comprise this assembly, with some articles ranging abroad, such as the author’s depictions of his ventures to New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Britain. Most, however, amble around America or radiate from the author’s home states of Missouri and Kansas. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLeave the lipstick, take the iguana : funny travel stories and strange packing tips / edited by Marcy Gordon.
“The ninth book in the best-selling Travelers’ Tales humor series. This laugh-out-loud collection will resonate with experienced travelers and novices alike and includes hilarious misadventures with packing, travel fashion, border crossings, language faux pas, weird encounters with exotic cuisine, and romantic overtures abroad.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGypset travel / Julia Chaplin.
“Gypsy+Jet Set = Gypset. In the follow-up to her best-selling Gypset Style, Julia Chaplin explores the little-known enclaves of gypsetters around the globe, from the Aeolian Islands in Italy to Lamu, Kenya; North Goa, India; and Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. Chaplin coined the term ‘gypset’ to describe a new lifestyle that fuses the carefree ethos of a gypsy nomad with the sophistication of the jet set. Gypset Travel delves into this glamorous bohemian world of artists, designers, and bons viivants through intimate photography and first-person anecdotes.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverAround India in 80 trains / Monisha Rajesh.
“To understand India you have to see it, hear it, breathe it and feel it. Living through the good, the bad and the ugly is the only way to know where you fit in and where India fits into you. In 1991 Monisha and her family uprooted from Sheffield to Madras in the hope of making India their home again. But fed up with soap-eating rats, severed human heads, paying bribes, and the creepy colonel across the road, they soon returned to England, determined never to go back again. But twenty years later, Monisha takes a page out of Jules Verne’s classic tale, turns to a map of the Indian railways and embarks on an adventure around India in 80 trains connecting 80 cities, covering 40,000km – the circumference of the Earth. …” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmpire Antarctica : ice, silence & emperor penguins / Gavin Francis.
“It is said to be one of our oldest stories: a young man goes to a far-off land in search of a mythical and wondrous beast. For years, Gavin Francis yearned to go to the remotest place on our planet, to see one of the strangest beasts alive. This is how he came to spend fourteen months living alongside emperor penguins as the base-camp doctor at Halley, a profoundly isolated British research station on the Caird Coast of Antarctica. …Combining an evocative and enchanting narrative with a sublime sensitivity to the natural world, this is travel writing at its very best.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCooks, clowns and cowboys : 101 skills and experiences to discover on your travels / [written by Andrew Bain … [et al.]].
“101 experiences, courses and lessons into classical skills and talents from around the world ; Tips on becoming the next molecular gastronomy genius, an intrepid archeologist, a Paris-based artist and more; The ultimate reference book for making the most of your travels – and gaining new skills along the way.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover The further adventures of an idiot abroad / Karl Pilkington ; photography by Freddie Claire ; illustrations by Dominic Trevett.
“…Taking the Bucket List of ‘100 Things to Do Before You Die’ as his starting point, Karl combines brilliant stories from his recent adventures to Alaska, Siberia and beyond with entertaining, highly-opinionated views on what other people aspire to do with their lives. * Why on earth would anybody want to run with the bulls in Pamplona? * Go ’storm chasing’ through Tornado Alley? * Have lunch with the Queen? * Or touch hands with the Pope? The Further Adventures of An Idiot Abroad is a fitting finale to two years of eventful globe-trotting. Frank, funny and strangely inspiring, this is Karl’s final word on travel.”–amazon.com. (Syndetics summary)

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History

We hope you enjoy the selection of recent history books for February 2013. Countries featured are Australia, Great Britain and America. We also have the story of a man looking for his ancestors. Fascinating!

Syndetics book coverBatavia : betrayal, shipwreck, murder, sexual slavery, courage, a spine-chilling chapter in Australian history / Peter FitzSimons.
“Batavia is the greatest story in Australia’s history. The Shipwreck of the Batavia combines in just the one tale the birth of the world’s first corporation, the brutality of colonisation, the battle of good vs evil, the derring-do of sea-faring adventure, mutiny, ship-wreck, love, lust, blood-lust, petty fascist dictatorship, criminality, a reign of terror, murders most foul, sexual slavery, natural nobility, survival, retribution, rescue, first contact with native peoples and so much more. Described by author Peter FitzSimons as “a true Adults Only version of Lord of the Flies, meeting Nightmare on Elm Street,” the story is set in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBritain’s empire : resistance, repression and revolt / Richard Gott.
“This revelatory new history punctures the still widely held belief that the British Empire was an enlightened and civilizing enterprise of great benefit to its subject peoples. Instead, Britain’s Empire reveals a history of systemic repression and almost continual violence, showing how British rule was imposed as a military operation and maintained as a military dictatorship. For colonized peoples, the experience was a horrific one-of slavery, famine, battle and extermination.
Yet, as Richard Gott illustrates, the empire’s oppressed peoples did not go gently into that good night. Wherever Britain tried to plant its flag, there was resistance. From Ireland to India, from the American colonies to Australia, Gott chronicles the backlash. He shows, too, how Britain provided a blueprint for the genocides of twentieth-century Europe, and argues that its past leaders must rank alongside the dictators of the twentieth century as the perpetrators of crimes against humanity on an infamous scale. In tracing this history of resistance, all but lost to modern memory, Richard Gott recovers these forgotten peoples and puts them where they deserve to be: at the heart of the story of Britain’s empire.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPrairie fever : British aristocrats in the American West, 1830-1890 / Peter Pagnamenta.
“From the 1830s onward, a succession of well-born Britons headed west to the great American wilderness to find adventure and fulfillment. They brought their dogs, sporting guns, valets, and all the attitudes and prejudices of their class. Prairie Fever explores why the West had such a strong romantic appeal for them at a time when their inherited wealth and passion for sport had no American equivalent.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReunion : a search for ancestors / [Ryan Littrell].
“Where do I come from? That question sets Ryan Littrell on a fascinating journey that crosses centuries. An anonymous letter reveals the first clues about his family story, and soon those clues lead to country graveyards, long-lost cousins, and a shocking DNA discovery. And as one hint follows the next, he uncovers his place in a tragic struggle–a tale of heartbreak, betrayal, and unfailing strength. A real-life account, Reunion shows how our ancestors are still a part of us, and how our story began long before we were even born”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRasputin : the untold story / Joseph T. Fuhrmann.
“Using material from newly opened Soviet archives, particularly the correspondence of Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, Fuhrmann, an emeritus professor of history at Murray State University in Kentucky, extends the range of his Rasputin: A Life (1990). He shows how an obscure Russian Orthodox monk became a close adviser to the czar and czarina, particularly after he predicted the recovery of their son, Alexis, from a possibly fatal illness in 1909. Alexandra turned to him for advice on Russia’s WWI military campaign, and he influenced the appointment of high officials. This outsize influence, and rumors that Rasputin was pro-German, impelled a cabal of members of the nobility to assassinate him in December 1916. Fuhrman provides graphic details of the murder and weighs the evidence that the British Secret Intelligence Service participated in the plot. Fuhrmann draws a complex portrait of a dissolute alcoholic figure who allegedly raped at least one woman, yet he was seen by his many followers as a starets (charismatic holy man). Fuhrmann does not provide a final appraisal of Rasputin’s significance in the immediate prerevolution period. Still, this vivid, briskly written biography brings to life one of the most colorful and sinister figures in modern Russian history. Illus. Agent: Andrew Lownie, Andrew Lownie Literary Agency. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverListening in : the secret White House recordings of John F. Kennedy / John F. Kennedy Library Foundation ; selected and introduced by Ted Widmer ; foreword by Caroline Kennedy.
“Everyone knows Nixon had tape recorders running in the Oval Office, but most Americans aren’t aware that FDR, Truman, and Eisenhower experimented with audio recording and that JFK installed taping systems in 1962 that he could activate to record significant meetings and phone conversations and, occasionally, his own reflections. All 265.5 hours of those tapes (with redactions, however) are now available at the Kennedy Presidential Library. This volume, accompanied by two CDs, gathers several dozen of the most interesting conversations. In addition to obvious subjects Cuba, civil rights, space, and Vietnam the collection also includes many remarks on history, politics, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and other foreign-policy developments. Because the tapes’ quality varies, some transcripts include too many skips and unclears to convey much meaning. Quite helpful, on the other hand, are the book’s illustrations, which range from photographs to contemporaneous documents and handwritten notes. Despite its limitations, Listening In lives up to Widmer’s descriptions, a portrait of a president being president, and the closest to an autobiography we will ever get.–Carroll, Mary Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFormer people : the final days of the Russian aristocracy / Douglas Smith.
“The wide discrepancy between the Russian peasant class (who made up 80 percent of Russia’s 19th-century population) and the nobility helped precipitate the Russian Revolution and the subsequent methodical elimination of the educated aristocratic class. Independent historian Smith (The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great’s Russia) has meticulously researched the revolutionary and Soviet eras, focusing on two noble families: the Sheremetevs and the Golitsyns. Using archival resources and both primary and secondary works, Smith gives us what he calls the first work to detail the nobles’ everyday lives, as well as the consequences to the country of their elimination. By focusing on these two families, Smith brings to life another aspect of Russian and Soviet history in the first half of the 20th century. The profiled families embody what many of the Russian nobles endured, and their choices attest to the resiliency of the human spirit. VERDICT This work will be enjoyed by Russophiles and historians of the tsarist era, as well as those studying this period of Soviet history. Those who enjoy studying the Romanovs will appreciate learning more about the Russian aristocracy as a whole. As such, an important addition to Russian history collections.-Maria C. Bagshaw, Elgin Comm. Coll. Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverVikings / Neil Oliver.
“The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution, and prided themselves on their bloody-thirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the west and as far as Baghdad in the east. As the Vikings did not write their history, we have to discover it for ourselves, and that discovery, as Neil Oliver reveals, tells an extraordinary story of a people who, from the brink of destruction, reached a quarter of the way around the globe and built an empire that lasted nearly two hundred years. Drawing on the latest discoveries that have only recently come to light, Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did they emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over 1000 years ago? VIKINGS will explore many of these questions for the first time in an epic story of one of the world’s great empires of conquest.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverChurchill’s angels : how Britain’s women secret agents changed the course of the Second World War / Bernard O’Connor.
“Over 70 female agents were sent out by Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War. These women – as well as others from clandestine Allied organisations – were flown out and parachuted or landed into occupied Europe on vital and highly dangerous missions: their job was to work with resistance movements both before and after D-Day. Bernard O’Connor relates the experiences of these agents of by drawing on a range of sources, including many of the women’s accounts of their wartime service. There are stories of rigorous training, thrilling undercover operations evading capture by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France, tragic betrayals and extraordinary courage.” (Global Books In Print)

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New Zealand

From the mountains to the oceans, the urban forest to an island, this month’s collection features a look at New Zealand’s diverse natural and urban environments. There is also a timeline of key events in our history in “Nation Dates” and the last book “Sinai Journal” looks at 30 years of New Zealand’s involvement in multinational foces.

Syndetics book coverAbove the treeline : a nature guide to alpine New Zealand / Alan F. Mark ; contributions by David Galloway, Rod Morris, David Orlovich, Brian Patrick, John Steel and Mandy Tocher.
“This first ever field-guide to New Zealand’s rich and diverse alpine environment includes: an informative introduction on alpine habitats and ecology; detailed descriptions of more than 675 species of flowering plants; a visual guide to easily recognised flowering-plant genera ; sections on conifers, ferns, mosses and liverworts, lichens and fungi; coverage of alpine fauna, including birdgs and lizards, butterflies and moths, grasshoppers, beetles and other invertebrates.–Cover”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCoastal fishes of New Zealand / Malcolm Francis.
“Coastal Fishes of New Zealand provides a comprehensive, informative and up-to-date identification guide to the fishes likely to be encountered by New Zealand divers and fishers. Illustrated with over 275 superb colour photographs of live fish in their natural habitats, this book includes all of New Zealand’s common reef fishes, and also many of those that live in other habitats. Using the latest research, marine scientist Malcolm Francis also provides a wealth of other information about identifying features, geographical distribution, habitat and size for 221 species of fish. Other interesting biological features, such as feeding, growth, spawning and behaviour are also discussed. If you were to have one book on the abundant fish life found around our coasts, this is the one to own.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAuckland’s remarkable urban forest / Mike D. Wilcox.
“Auckland’s Remarkable Urban Forest provides a comprehensive account of the trees and forests of Auckland. It covers trees to be found in the parks, reserves, campuses, school grounds, cemeteries and historic homesteads of the city; public native bush reserves within the urban Auckland area; native revegetation projects undertaken by community groups; exotic woodlands; street trees; trees of suburban home gardens; notable trees; flowering trees; tree health, forest climbers weeds; utilisation and management of the urban forest”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNation dates : significant events that have shaped the nation of New Zealand / [Wendy McGuinness & Miriam White].
“Nation Dates presents a timeline of 440 key events, spanning the years 1770-2011, that have shaped the development of New Zealand as a nation. The Sustainable Future Institute has compiled this timeline as an important record of our nation’s past and a valuable resource for establishing a context for our future”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSinai journal : 30 years of Kiwis serving with the Multinational Force and Observers.
“It’s the world’s most successful peace keeping mission – which hardly anyone’s heard of!” So says one of the many New Zealand Defence Force personnel interviewed for Sinai Journal: 30 Years of Kiwis serving with the Multinational Force and Observers. 2012 marked the thirtieth year of New Zealand’s significant contribution to the successful, if not widely known, Multinational Force and Observer (MFO) peace keeping mission in the Sinai, set up in 1982 to monitor the Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel. Working with 11 other countries to preserve a cold peace between two once warring nations, New Zealanders have distinguished themselves at the MFO with their sense of humor and can-do attitude. Sinai Journal documents the adventures of around eighty personnel who have served at the MFO since 1982 through personal anecdotes, essays and some wonderful photos. Contributions of note include those from the two kiwi Force Commanders; Don McIver and Warren Whiting; as well as colourful characters such as former MP and current Carterton Mayor, Ron Mark. This book is a fascinating social history that celebrates both the thirty year milestone and recognises New Zealand’s long standing, unique, contribution to peace in an unpredictable and volatile part of the world”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKiwi prefab : cottage to cutting edge : prefabricated housing in New Zealand / Pamela Bell & Mark Southcombe.
“Until recently New Zealanders thought of prefabs as drab, cheap, temporary, poorly designed school classrooms. Prefab houses tended to be thought of as cheap, small, relocatable, standard homes. However, today’s prefab home is design rich, high-quality, and readily customised to individual sites and needs. It is likely to be state of the art, an innovative blend of architecture, design, manufacturing and construction. This book documents and contextualises a history of kiwi prefabrication, our prefab architecture, its present state, some prefab characters and characteristics, and emerging and possible prefab futures”. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiplomatic ladies : New Zealand’s unsung envoys / Joanna Woods.
“This book tells the inside story of New Zealands diplomatic wives and daughters over a hundred years of diplomacy. Based on private letters, MFAT archives and personal interviews, it records many unknown episodes in New Zealands diplomatic history, including the part played by the spouses in Baghdad during the first Gulf War, and the perils faced by diplomatic wives in Saigon and Tehran. It also gives a unique insight into the workings of diplomatic life and the role of the diplomatic hostess”. (Syndetics summary)

The New Zealand Hobbit crisis : how Warner Bros. bent a government to its will and crushed an attempt to unionize The hobbit / Jonathan Handel ; with Pip Bulbeck.
“All was not well in Middle-earth . . .After the third Lord of the Rings movie premiered in 2003, fans of the series eagerly anticipated production and release of its prequel, The Hobbit. It turned out they had a while to wait, as a series of troubles delayed production for years.Then, in September 2010, when almost everything seemed resolved, U.S. and international actors unions issued a pub-lic alert advising their members “not to accept work on this non-union production.” Warner Bros. threatened to rip the troubled production from the country and events quickly spiraled out of control. New Zealand plunged into crisis. Saving the Hobbit was do or die for the local film industry, and the government scrambled to avoid disaster. Director Peter Jackson vowed to “fight like hell” to keep the shoot in New Zealand. But then studio executives flew in from Los Angeles like colonial masters ready to bring down the hammer. This short book (70 pp. plus bibliography, etc.) tells the tale”.(adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand boxing scrapbook / Dave Cameron with Paul Lewis.
“From the 1800s to the second decade of the new millennium, New Zealand boxers have made a mark on the national and international stages – from the days of Bob Fitzsimmons and ‘Torpedo’ Billy Murphy through to David Tua’s quest for a world title today. The New Zealand Boxing Scrapbook offers an insight into ‘the sweet science’ of boxing and the men involved. A collection of boxing history, memorabilia and artefacts”–Publisher information.

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Music and Movies Newsletter for January

This month in Music & Movies: See what all the Golden Globes fuss was about with season one of hit HBO comedy series Girls; Can’t stop watching The Terminator? It happens to us all, but why not try something different with “If you like the Terminator…”; and breaking news reveals that that notoriously slippery beast called ‘comedy’ can be boiled down to just 169 secrets. Just don’t go explaining every sitcom joke to your friends – you might rapidly have none.

Library News

DVDs

New DVDs for January include new TV shows from Ashley Judd as an ex-spy searching for her missing son, Lena Dunham with her acclaimed NYC sitcom ‘Girls’ & Poppy Montgomery as a Police Detective with perfect recall. Also out this month, the acclaimed Ralph Fiennes Shakespeare update ‘Coriolanus’; ‘Hope Springs’ with Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones as an aging married couple attempting to reconnect with each other; & Steve Carell & Keira Knightley seek a friend for the end of the world…

Cover imageMissing. The complete first season.
“How far would you go to save the person you love most in the world? Emmy Award nominee* Ashley Judd stars in Missing, ABC’s riveting new series, bursting with international intrigue and thrilling twists and turns. Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd) learns that her son, Michael, has disappeared while studying abroad, and it’s a race against time when she travels to Europe to track him down. It soon becomes clear that Becca is no ordinary woman, but a former CIA agent deactivated after the devastating death of her husband, Paul Winstone (Sean Bean). If she wants to find her son alive, Becca will have to rely on old friends, as well as old enemies, ex-lovers, and spies, and will be forced to reopen old wounds. Her resourcefulness, skill, and determination will be put to the test – but a mother’s love knows no limits. ABC’s action-packed drama grabs you from the very first minute and never lets go. Relive Becca’s search through the streets of Europe, complete with exclusive bonus features that take you even deeper into her journey.” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageCoriolanus.
“Fiennes’s bullet-headed, battle-scarred General Caius Martius may be willing to put his life on the line for his people, but he has no interest in actually listening to their concerns, a development that anticipates the Occupy movement. As Rome’s food supply dwindles and rioting begins, Martius suspends civil liberties, and heads off to battle against a man he both despises and admires, Volscian leader Aufidius (Gerald Butler). In the script by Gladiator’s John Logan, automatic weaponry replaces swords, contributing to an especially visceral Shakespearean adaptation (Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd’s handheld camera work reinforces the rough-hewn quality). At home, Martius’s wary wife (Jessica Chastain) and proud mother (Vanessa Redgrave) fear for his life, while his most ardent supporter, Senator Menenius (Brian Cox, excellent), defends him against his detractors, like Tribune Sicinius (James Nesbitt). Though successful on the battlefield, the political neophyte–now known as Coriolanus–soon finds himself an exile, eventually aligning with Aufidius, but what looks like a turncoat move proves more complicated…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageHysteria.
“What do women want? Well, science may debate that for years, but Hysteria provides a very entertaining answer in the form of a historical romp through early psychology. Based on the story of a young British doctor who essentially invented the first vibrator, Hysteria handles its offbeat subject matter lightly and amusingly. And its cast is splendid. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones play Victorian-era sisters, Charlotte and Emily, daughters of the prominent physician Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Into their lives comes an ambitious, thoughtful young doctor, Mortimer Granville (played by the dreamy Hugh Dancy). Dr. Granville’s life work has become focused on women’s issues, including the all-encompassing diagnosis “hysteria,” for which he is experimenting with therapeutic “pelvic massage” treatments. When he comes to Dr. Dalrymple for mentoring and approval of his rather unorthodox treatments, the doctor’s two daughters vie for his romantic affections. In lesser hands, this film could have been a Victorian-era 40-Year-Old Virgin or The (Sexual) Hangover, but director Tanya Wexler keeps the action crisp, light, and focused. Hysteria is a great date movie or a splendid escape for history, and hysteria, lovers…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageHope springs.
“Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple who have been married for 30 years and now are sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the doctor’s intense week-long marriage counseling session. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion.” (From syndetics summary)

Cover imageFlipped.
“Even if you’re not a child of the early ’60s, Flipped’s tale will resonate with your heart. Director Rob Reiner treats viewers to a sweet but honest glimpse into the lives of a young girl and boy during the early 1960s as they maneuver through first crushes and heartbreak. Reiner once again shows he understands how to put together a compelling, yet simple, human story. We meet Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) and Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) on the day Bryce’s family moves across the street from Juli’s. Told by “flipping” between Juli and Bryce’s voices, a tale of early childhood love emerges. Juli loves Bryce’s baby blues from the first moment she sees them and she just knows he’s holding onto her first kiss. Bryce thinks Juli, who raises chickens and loves the neighborhood sycamore tree, is weird. The story doesn’t merely flip between the two stories, though. In 1963, the year eighth grade comes around, Juli begins to wonder if there’s any substance behind those baby blues… just as Bryce starts to see Juli’s eccentricities as endearing instead of embarrassing. Sweetly reminiscent without a saccharine aftertaste…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSeeking a friend for the end of the world.
“A sweet and subtle love story, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World begins when Dodge (Steve Carell) watches his wife run away from him because she’s just learned that an asteroid is going to destroy the Earth. Dodge finds himself unmoored in a world that’s lost its bearings in a much bigger way; some people surrender to hedonism, some cling to the mundane patterns of their lives, and others just kill themselves. Then Dodge is given one last chance at meaning in his life: a neighbor named Penny (Keira Knightley) reveals that she’s failed to give him some of his misdirected mail… including a letter from his cherished high school sweetheart, who reveals he was the love of her life. As civilization falls apart around them, Dodge and Penny set off on a road trip to reunite Penny with her family and Dodge with his lost love. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World could have been broad and goofy, but instead the movie takes the scenario seriously (without, mind you, losing its sense of humor). Dodge and Penny discover that their lives, disconnected from a possible future, aren’t what they were, and the result is both comic and surprisingly heartfelt…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageGirls. The complete first season.
“Lena Dunham mocks the idea of being a voice to a generation, but there’s no question she’s captured something ineffably of the moment in her sitcom Girls. Dunham writes and directs most episodes and stars as Hannah, a smart but self-flagellating writer floundering in the urban wilds of New York City. Both an homage and a counterpoint to Sex in the City, Girls has its own quartet: Hannah, who’s just been financially cut off by her parents; Marnie (Allison Williams), lovely but uptight, who’s bored by her too devoted boyfriend Charlie (Christopher Abbott); Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a transplant from England who keeps her true feelings hidden under a cool surface; and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), a hapless chatterbox who’s ashamed that she’s still a virgin. All of these girls, grappling with adult life, can be funny, irritating, embarrassing, and richly sympathetic–sometimes at the same time.
Girls doesn’t tackle themes per episode; instead, it’s a series of moments, vividly observed and often joltingly funny social interaction and sexual relationships (some graphically depicted, with all the freedom that cable television allows). Dunham doesn’t explain everything all at once, but gives only glimpses into the characters in each episode…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

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Film and television books

This month our selection of new books includes the visual companion to Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, the official series three tie-in for Downton Abbey, how to make and market your own web series, and the first in the new “If you like…” series that collects more than 200 movies you’ll like if you love the Terminator movies. Plus, Nicole Kidman, The Big Lebowski, film history, and more. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverThe chronicles of Downton Abbey / foreword, Julian Fellowes ; text, Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis ; photography, Joss Barratt, Nick Briggs and Giles Keyte.
“The Chronicles of Downton Abbey take you deep into the lives of the Crawleys, their servants, lovers, friends and guests. So wander the crowded servants’ quarters and peek into luxurious bed chambers. This lavish book explores the lives of every important member of the Downton estate. Focusing on each character individually, it examines their motivations, their actions and the inspirations behind them. An evocative source of story and background, it will take you even deeper into the secret, beating heart of the house.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cabin in the woods : the official visual companion / foreword by Drew Goddard ; afterword by Joss Whedon ; screenplay written by Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard ; interviews by Abbie Bernstein.
“This exclusive companion book to the Cabin in the Woods movie, directed by Joss Whedon, features an extended interview with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the full script, and over 150 photos and stunning pieces of production art. The details of the plot are a closely guarded secret, though Joss himself has described it as ‘a straight-up, balls-out, really terrifying horror movie’, adding, ‘it is not just a slasher in the woods. It’s a little more complicated than that…’” (amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe Big Lebowski : an illustrated, annotated history of the greatest cult film of all time / by Jenny M. Jones.
“This is the first comprehensive, highly illustrated analysis of the history, legacy, and cultural significance of the 1998 Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski. Author Jenny Jones explores what it is that makes the film so raucous, quotable, memorable, and downright hilarious” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverIf you like the The Terminator– here are over 200 movies, TV shows, and other oddities that you will love / Scott Von Doviak.
“Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator , as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator … delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminator franchise. From Metropolis to The Matrix , from Frankenstein to RoboCop , from H. G. Wells and Harlan Ellison to Roger Corman and Roland Emmerich, you’ll find them all here in If You Like The Terminator.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHistory of film / David Parkinson.
“In this lively, informative and up-to-date analysis of what has been called the seventh art, David Parkinson traces the evolution of the moving image from the earliest shadow shows to the digital film-making of the 21st century. Covering the key elements and players that have contributed to its artistic and technical development, the book offers a remarkably concise overview of film throughout the world” (Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverNicole Kidman / Pam Cook.
“Nicole Kidman is a high-profile, successful exponent of contemporary commodity stardom, and a product of fundamental changes in the media industries over the last two decades. Pam Cook vividly brings to life her journey from Australian actress to global superstar, looking at her work in different contexts from film and television to fashion, commercials, philanthropy and the Internet. This absorbing case study unveils a star narrative as compelling as any that appears in her films.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWeb TV series : how to make and market them / Dan Williams.
“Online distributors – such as YouTube, Hulu, and Funny or Die – are interested in acquiring web series (episodic digital entertainment, like mini-TV shows) that attract audiences and appeal to advertisers. Web TV Series… How to Make and Market Them provides advice and expertise to help readers create their own original, successful online shows – projects that can be profitable, potentially developed into film or television properties, and help to start a career in the industry. Readers will learn how to develop characters and stories designed for new media platforms, and find tips for planning, shooting, and editing that are tailored specifically to web series production. This book also extensively covers the latest distribution platforms and social media marketing strategies.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverComedy by the numbers : the 169 secrets of humor and popularity / [edited] by Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren.
“Being funny is hard work: just ask Gary Rudoren and Eric Hoffman. Like many people, they once believed that comedy was simply a matter of coming up with “zingers” and “jokes.” But after countless hours of painstaking research, they’ve discovered that true creativity is derived from simple formulas and the memorization of data. Their groundbreaking new book makes the secrets of comedy accessible to all, not only to the naturally funny, but to those who lack the ability or talent to be funny.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar trek FAQ : everything left to know about the first voyages of the Starship Enterprise / Mark Clark.
“Star Trek FAQ tells the complete story of Star Trek, from the before the beginning (the books, films, and TV shows that inspired producer Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek) until after the end (when the show emerged as a cultural phenomenon in syndication), and including dramatic behind-the-scenes stories (e.g., Leonard Nimoy’s struggle with alcoholism and actress Grace Lee Whitney’s controversial firing) often omitted from “authorized” histories of the program.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverU.S.S. Enterprise owners’ workshop manual : 2151 onwards (NX-01, NCC-1701, NCC-1701-A to NCC-1701-E) / Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley ; technical consultant, Michael Okuda.
“The U.S.S. Enterprise is without doubt the most famous starship in history. The vessels that have carried the name have saved the galaxy countless times and her captains, including Archer, Kirk, and Picard, have been legendary. This Haynes Manual provides in-depth information about these extraordinary ships, from the Enterprise NX-01, to Captain Kirk’s Enterprise NCC-1701 and Captain Picard’s Enterprise NCC-1701-D including histories of each vessel, technical information about their systems, and discussions of key technologies such as transporters and warp-speed travel.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

cover imageBritish comedy cinema / edited by I.Q. Hunter and Laraine Porter.
British comedy cinema has been a mainstay of domestic production since the beginning of the last Century and arguably the most popular and important genre in British film history.
This edited volume will offer the first comprehensive account of the rich and popular history of British comedy cinema from silent slapstick and satire to contemporary romantic comedy. Using a loosely chronological approach, essays cover successive decades of the 20th and 21st Century with a combination of case studies on key personalities, production cycles and studio output along with fresh approaches to issues of class and gender representation. Films covered include: St Trinians, A Fish Called Wanda, Brassed Off, Local Hero, The Full Monty, Four Lions and In the Loop. (description from Amazon.co.uk)

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Popular Music

This month our picks of the popular music new books are all about rock legends, such as Neil Young, Pete Townshend and Bruce Springsteen. Enjoy the incredible stories!!

Syndetics book coverWaging heavy peace : a hippie dream / Neil Young.
“An iconic figure in the history of rock and pop culture (inducted not once but twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Neil Young has written his eagerly awaited memoir.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWho I am / Pete Townshend.
“He is one of the greatest musical talents Britain has ever produced. But even as the principle songwriter and lead guitarist for The Who, it would be unjust to define Pete Townshend’s life simply through his achievements with bandmates Daltrey, Moon and Entwistle. Now, in one of the most eagerly awaited autobiographies of recent times, this icon tells about his incredible life and elaborates on the turbulences of time spent as one of the world’s most respected musicians – being in one of rock’s greatest ever bands, and wanting to give it all up. Incredibly, as a man who has achieved so much, this truly unique story of ambition, relentless perfectionism and rock and roll excess will be regarded as one of his greatest achievements. (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverBruce / Peter Ames Carlin.
“After 3 decades of groundbreaking music Bruce Springsteen still manages to amaze audiences around the world. Highly acclaimed music critic Peter Carlin tracks the Boss’s dazzling ascent to fame, whilst painting a vivid portrait of the real Springsteen: an insistently private man who nevertheless would do anything for his fans. Recently, in response to his mother’s failing health, Springsteen decided he wanted to tell his story, and that he wanted Carlin to tell it. With unprecedented access to Springsteen, his family, friends and management, Carlin presents a riveting and highly personal account of Springsteen’s life.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverJagger / Philip Norman.
“Bestselling biographer Philip Norman offers an unparalleled account of the life of a living legend, Mick Jagger. From Home Counties schoolboy, to rebel without a cause to Sixties rock sensation and global idol, Norman unravels with astonishing intimacy the myth of the inimitable frontman of The Rolling Stones. MICK JAGGER charts his extraordinary journey through scandal-ridden conspiracy, infamous prison spell, hordes of female admirers and a knighthood while stripping away the colossal fame, wealth and idolatry to reveal a story of talent and promise unfulfilled.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverLuck or something like it / Kenny Rogers.
“The country music legend shares the story behind his meteoric rise to fame, including the highs and lows, and the secrets behind his biggest hits.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLed Zeppelin : the oral history of the world’s greatest rock band / Barney Hoskyns.
“With Robert Plant on lead vocal and Jimmy Page on guitar, Led Zeppelin is one of the most iconic, legendary, and influential rock bands in musical history. Tales of their indulgence in sex, drugs, and excess have swirled for decades. In this definitive oral history of the band, Barney Hoskyns finally reveals the truth about Led Zeppelin, paring away the myths and describing what life was really like for four young men on top of the world. Through fresh new interviews with the surviving band members, close friends, their tour manager, and scores of other fascinating characters, Hoskyns provides deep insights into the personalities of the band members and chronicles the group’s dramatic rise, fall, and legacy.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

cover image “The third album by Bat For Lashes–the moniker for singer-songwriter Natasha Khan–is titled The Haunted Man. It features the singles “Laura” and “All Your Gold”. Speaking about the album, Khan said: “I really wanted to strip things back in honour of women like Patti Smith; just these raw, honest women. I had no make-up on, it’s just me and my haunted man!” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

cover image “It’s hard to place Alt-J. Originally from Leeds, they spend their time in a Cambridgeshire basement making their own brand of uniquely dubbed “folk-step”. However, the noises that An Awesome Wave emits far escape the dull, dark depths such a creative location suggests. Instead, it’s a stunning and encompassing affair of both innovative and electrifying musicianship and exemplary song writing. This album spans every workable idea, genre, and influence that can be crammed under the guitar music umbrella, yet it never feels disorientating. Instead, what swoons gracefully through speakers is an entirely comprehendible and accessible collection of beautiful pop songs. Movement is key on this album. Samples and sounds cascade and cross with elegance, but it’s Joe Newman’s lead vocal that acts as the cement, pulling everything together and guiding it seamlessly into making sense.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

cover image “The remastered version is even better than the original. You can hear more. But the original mastered rock story-telling. Opera is a big word. Ask Mozart if this is an opera. I don’t know. But it is fantastic rock music. They nailed it. I missed this album so much for so many years, so glad to have it back and even better. The photos are priceless, and the notes confirm that these guys were enjoying this experience. The press have always focussed on the aggression and destruction. This album is just so creative. You want to travel back in the Tardis and just hang around in the background watching them do it. Like Sgt. Pepper only rockier and twice as long. The Who are a magnificent rock band. If there’s a negative to these kind of classic albums it’s that you really need to go out and buy some really good stereo gear which you can’t afford.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk customer review)

cover image “In addition to 12 of Clark’s original compositions, Blak and Blu also features a 13th song – a blistering cover of Little Johnny Taylor’s (popularized by Albert Collins), “If You Love Me Like You Say / Third Stone From The Sun” (Jimi Hendrix) is actually a complete reworking of the song utilizing the Hendrix riff reinterpreted by Clark. The result is an extraordinary hybrid of the two ideas that breathes new fire to an old favorite.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverHow music works / David Byrne.
The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee and co-founder of Talking Heads presents a celebration of music that offers insight into the roles of time, place and recording technology, discussing how evolutionary patterns of adaptations and responses to cultural and physical contexts have influenced music expression throughout history and culminated in the 20th century’s transformative practices.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRadiohead : the stories behind every song / James Doheny. “With complex, haunting soundscapes and raw, soul-searching lyrics, Radiohead has blazed an uncompromising trail to become one of the most critically acclaimed, socially aware, and perennially popular rock acts in the world. Like such predecessors as Pink Floyd, U2, and REM, the band has maintained its underground cred even while residing at the heart of the popular mainstream. Now writer and musicologist James Doheny reveals the inside story behind every Radiohead song in a comprehensive and insightful book no true fan will want to be without.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverAcoustic guitar making : the steel string guitar / Nick Blishen. “Many people are frustrated by the mass-produced guitar and dream of something more unique. This practical book will help readers achieve that dream, and will inform and enlighten them along the way. Drawing on a range of ideas and techniques, it explains the process in a clear and logical way, thereby demystifying the task and making the guitar a joy to build and then to play. It covers tools, techniques, and selection of materials; how to avoid pitfalls and make faster progress; and how to achieve a professional finish and set up the guitar.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

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Have you tried WCL mini – our library app?

Wellington City Libraries now has its very own app – WCL Mini.  If you regularly use a smartphone, this enables you to do a bunch of things that previously may have resulted in hair-tearing, swearing and/or mashing of fat fingers against a tiny screen. Some of the things you can do include:

  • checking the catalogue
  • checking account details (loans, reserves etc)
  • “book look” – scan non-library books (from a bookstore, or a friend’s collection for example) to see if the library has a copy
  • one-click access to OverDrive ebooks and mp3 audiobooks*
  • locate the nearest branch to you – get directions; find out the opening hours; give them a call
  • keeping up to date with our Facebook and Twitter feeds

*The OverDrive Media Console app will also need to be installed

We’ll also be building in links to some of our other online resources as we go.

WCL Mini home screenCompatibility: The app is available for devices using the Apple iOs (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) and Android operating systems. It’s also available for BlackBerry, J2ME, Palm OS, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile.

How-To

  • make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi or a cellphone network
  • use your device’s web browser to visit http://wellington.boopsie.com
  • select install

Alternatively you can search for WCL Mini in the App Store (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) or Google Play (Android devices).

Try it on the PC

Don’t have a smartphone? There’s a web version you can use that mimics the app. Use the same link as above in your web browser.

Bugs
bugsforsmartphone

Let us know if you experience any technical errors, oddities or annoyances when using the app – we can feed this back to the app creators for future releases. Also, we’d love to know if there’s something you like about it. Just add your thoughts to the comments below.

WCLminiforslider

Mind & Body Newsletter for December

Well, it’s about that time of year when we look back and wonder where it all went. If you’re looking for inspiration, recreational reading or some health advice for getting back on track in the New Year look no further.

Library News

Cooking

The buzz words for this month’s selection of cooking titles are: food writing, fast (but healthy) food, economy, health and taste.
It’s all about sharing food with friends and family, while not spending too long in the kitchen. It’s also about entertaining and being entertained.

Syndetics book coverBest Food Writing 2012 / edited by Holly Hughes.
“Epicure, foodie, gastronome, gourmet, gourmand, glutton – whatever term you embrace, our cultural facination with food shows no sign of waning. And as in previous years, BEST FOOD WRITING 2012 is the place to go for heaping helpings of the most provocative, entertaining, delicious food writing of the year.” (Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverHome Cooking : A Writer in the Kitchen / Laurie Colwin ; illustrated by Anna Shapiro.
“Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, Home Cooking is Laurie Colwin’s manifesto on the joys of sharing food and entertaining.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverCooking off the Clock : Recipes from my Downtime / Elizabeth Falkner ; photography by Frankie Frankeny.
“Presents a range of recipes for full meals and quick snacks that can be prepared with limited time and resources, in a volume that also shares the author’s imaginative approach to classic comfort foods.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book cover101 Recipes You Can’t Live Without : The Prevention Cookbook / Lori Powell.
“Irresistible, easy dishes that will help readers cultivate healthy bodies. Half of Americans take dietary supplements, with little proof that they do anything to protect their health. What has been proven: the healing power of nutrients in food. In 101 Recipes You Can’t Live Without, readers will learn how to get everything they need from their plates–deliciously and without overdoing it on calories…. With 101 Recipes You Can’t Live Without you have the tool you need to craft the healthiest possible diet without feeling deprived. “–Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book cover101 Classic Cookbooks : 501 Classic Recipes / The Fales Library, New York University ; Marvin J. Taylor and Clark Wolf, editors ; text by Marvin J. Taylor.
“In this collection, some of the most respected figures in the food world have come together to choose 101 of the most important cookbooks of the twentieth century, the books that changed the way we eat over the years. From these 101 cookbooks, 501 signature recipes have been selected that reflect the author’s unique viewpoint, codify a revolutionary new technique, or magically invoke a particular time and place.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverFresh Food Fast / food director, Pamela Clark.
“This collection of recipes shows you how it is possible to cook delicious, fresh food fast in less time than it takes for pizza to be delivered.” (Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverFresh and Light : 180+ New Recipies and Flavour-packed Ideas to Find the Perfect Balance / Donna Hay.
“Fresh and light is my answer to my own best efforts to juggle for the perfect balance. Designed to complement my existing repertoire, it’s full of new recipes that combine the freshest ingredients, pantry staples and my personal tricks for a lighter touch. I’ve never been a fan of diets and this book is no exception. I don’t even like the thought of anyone being on a diet! For me, it’s always been about balance. Fresh and Light is mindful of fat and carbohydrates, but is focussed on flavour and variety — without the guilt.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverVegan à la Mode : More than 100 frozen treats for every day of the year / Hannah Kaminsky.
“This book is overflowing with creamy, dreamy imaginatiove delights that will have you churning ice cream around the clock.” – Julie Hasson, author of Vegan Diner – (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen : over 140 easy & delicious diabetes recipes designed for no-hassle cooking / by Barbara Seelig-Brown.
“Author Barbara Seelig-Brown has spent the last decade creating and expanding the Stress Free Cooking® brand. Now she wants to bring this quick, easy, hassle-free method of cooking to people with diabetes. Just as she does with her general audience, Barbara aims to reshape the perception that cooking is time-consuming, boring, and unpleasant…. In this new book, Barbara takes the ingredients that have made her television shows and cooking classes so popular and reshapes them for those with diabetes.” – Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverThe Sweet Life : The Basics and Beyond– / Kate Bracks.
“Indulge your own sweet tooth with this glorious book of baked treats and dessert recipes from Australia’s MasterChef 2011 winner; and don’t forget the golden rule — always lick the bowl!” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking / [Si King & Dave Myers].
“With their irrepressible enthusiasm for great food, Si King and Dave Myers AKA the Hairy Bikers travel the length and breadth of Europe to discover the best baking recipes from the Continent. From Norway to Southern Spain, the guys eat their way across ten countries, making friends and swapping recipes along the way.” (Library Catalogue)

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Sports, Fitness & Recreation

Arm-chair sports lovers – recline and enjoy reading about your favourite sports, be it sailing, tennis, cycling, game design, mountain climbing, kung fu, “glamping”, chess, walking. And the sports enthusiasts can find tips and tactics to improve their fitness and their game.

Syndetics book coverRamble On : The Story of Our Love for Walking Britain / Sinclair McKay.
“…Ramble On, published to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Ramblers ” Association, tells the story of how country walks and rambling were transformed from a small and often illegal pastime to the most popular recreational activity in the country. But the story of rambling is not so much about parliamentary acts as it is about the remarkable people who campaigned for (and in some cases against) the pastime….” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverCan We Have Our Balls Back, Please? / Julian Norridge.
“How the British invented sport (and then almost forgot how to play it)”–Cover.
“From the beginnings of ‘the beautiful game’ – raucous matches of folk football with hundreds of players – to the original bowls (a thin excuse for drunken gambling), here is everything you need to know about the very British love of sports and all the great games it’s produced.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverWheels of Change : How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a few flat tires along the way) / Sue Macy.
“Take a lively look at women’s history from aboard a bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women’s liberation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGlamping with MaryJane : Glamour + Camping / MaryJane Butters.
“Join the ranks of happy glampers – women who add glamour to camping while traipsing “outside” the norm. Whether you want to glam up a backyard retreat, porch, or rooftop; gussy up a vintage travel trailer (parked permanently in your back 40); or hit the road with your glampin’ girlfriends, MaryJane is THE guide for all things glamping.”–Cover.

Syndetics book coverChess Tactics from Scratch : Understanding Chess Tactics / by Martin Weteschnik.
“‘Chess is 99 per cent tactics’ is an old saying. This may be an exaggeration, but even the remaining 1 per cent still depends on tactics. When Martin Weteschnik started working as a trainer in his local chess club, he quickly realized that even the stronger club players had great weaknesses in their tactical play…. These players clearly needed a good book, but when Weteschnik looked for it he found nothing suitable, so he decided to write it himself…The first edition of this book, Understanding Chess Tactics, was hailed as a modern classic. This expanded and improved second edition offers more puzzles to test the tactical chess skill that Weteschnik helps the reader develop.” (global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Time-Crunched Cyclist : Fit, Fast, and Powerful in 6 Hours a Week / Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg.
“No joke: The revolutionary training plans in The Time-Crunched Cyclist will help you build competitive fitness in six hours a week. You don’t need endless miles on the road. You don’t need endless hours in the gym. All you need is a commitment to six hours a week on your bike.Using the principles he developed for Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong,…. Chris Carmichael will show you how his new high-intensity, low-volume program will help you get in shape on a schedule that fits your lifestyle…. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShelter from the Storm : The Story of New Zealand’s Backcountry Huts / Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown, Geoff Spearpoint.
“One of the defining and unique features of the New Zealand outdoors is the backcountry hut….Shelter from the Storm is a landmark publication, the first wide-ranging history of our hut network. The authors provide an overview of who built the huts….. as well as why they were. built…” –Publisher description.

Syndetics book coverThe Power Meter Handbook : A User’s Guide for Cyclists and Triathletes / Joe Friel.
“In The Power Meter Handbook, the most trusted coach in endurance sports offers a simple user’s guide to help cyclists and triathletes master the fundamentals of training with power…Armed with the techniques they need to know, riders will master power training concepts, accurately interpret their data, and learn how to harness this revolutionary technology to earn big performance gains from their day-to-day training. (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverOff the Track : Amazing but True Racing Stories from all Around the World / Barry & Alan Wood.
“Carefully chosen from the racing lore found in Australia, New Zealand and around the world, Off the Track features compelling stories written, selected and meticulously honed by two brothers who are passionate about the subject. The colourful personalities, the criminals, and the conmen. Horses that were so talented they were never beaten, and those that had the dubious distinction of always being beaten.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Secret Race : Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France : Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at all Costs / Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.
“Hamilton pulls back the curtain on the Tour de France and takes us into the secret world of professional cycling like never before: the doping, the lying, and his years as Lance Armstrong’s teammate on U.S. Postal.” (library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverScandalous : The Outrageous Behavior of Sports Stars / Barry Stone.
“There is no shortage of sporting stars making headlines off the field for all the wrong reasons. From dodgy dalliances bubbling to the surface, to marriages shattered, lucrative endorsement deals flushed down the toilet and clubs that can no longer hold onto players who have stuffed up in very big ways……. Scandalous will look at the many issues behind the scandals and why professional sport seems to keep going regardless.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Big Miss : My Years Coaching Tiger Woods / Hank Haney.
“Hank Haney’s candid and surprisingly insightful account of his tumultuous six-year journey with Tiger Woods, during which the supremely gifted golfer collected six major championships and rewrote golf history.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training / Jennifer Van Allen, Bart Yasso and Amby Burfoot, with Pamela Nisevich Bede.
The first dedicated book on marathon and half marathon training from the renowned experts at Runner’s World. Runner’s World Big Book of Marathons (and Half Marathons) gives readers the core essentials of marathon training, nutrition, injury prevention, and more. (Library Catalogue)

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Religion and beliefs

The latest arrivals feature a relook at angels, The Shack, the latest Deepak Chopra, and getting to know your neighbours.

Syndetics book coverBlasphemy : the true, heartbreaking story of a woman sentenced to death over a cup of water, by Asia Bibi with Anne-Isabelle Tollet.
Punjab, Pakistan, June 2009. At midday Asia goes to the nearest well, picks up a cup and takes a long drink of cool water. .. Suddenly one of her fellow workers cries out that the water belongs to the Muslim women and that with her actions, Asia – who is Christian – has contaminated it…. ‘Blasphemy!’ someone shouts… Asia was soon after thrown into prison and then sentenced to be hanged. Since then she has been kept in a windowless cell. …only two public figures came to Asia’s defence: the Muslim governor of the Punjab and Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities, both have since been brutally murdered. Here, in equal measures shocking and inspiring, Asia Bibi, who has become a symbol for everyone concerned with ending the violence committed in the name of religion, bravely speaks to us from her prison cell.

Syndetics book coverAngels all around us : a sightseeing guide to the invisible world, by Anthony DeStefano.“The increasing secularization of society has led, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, to a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’ Anthony DeStefano’s book, Angels All Around Us, is a welcome attempt to remind Christians of truths which, though mentioned explicitly in the Gospel and belonging to the deposit of faith, in recent decades have been overshadowed.” Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Vatican City, Rome.

Syndetics book coverThe shack revisited : there is more going on here than you ever dared to dream, by C. Baxter Kruger ; foreword by Wm. Paul Young.
Young’s novel, The Shack, has been embraced by Christians worldwide. Kruger explores this story of a man lifted from the depths of despair through his life-altering encounter with God, and guides readers into a deeper understanding of the core message of the novel: God is love. (summary courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverIf you’re lucky, your heart will break : field notes from a Zen life, by James Ishmael Ford.
Using anecdotes from his own life, with quotations drawn from sources as varied as the Bible, and stand-up comedy, Zen teacher and Unitarian Universalist minister James Ishmael Ford shares the gifts won over his lifetime of full-hearted engagement with the Zen path. If You’re Lucky, Your Heart will Break breathes new life into the Buddhist ideas of karma and rebirth – as well as the Buddhist precepts of ethical action – and finds for them kinship in other spiritual endeavours. Even the most cynical of hearts will find resonance in Ford’s compassionate presentation of basic human truths. (drawn from the publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverIs God an illusion? : the great debate between science and spirituality, by Deepak Chopra, Leonard Mlodinow.
Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Hawking have had a major impact on the loud and popular debate between ‘aggressive atheists’ and religion. Now ‘the rock star of the new spirituality’, Deepak Chopra, is entering this debate, sparring with leading physicist, Professor Leonard Mlodinow.

Syndetics book coverDrink, smoke, pass out : an unlikely spiritual journey, by Judith Lucy.
Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey takes us on Judith’s path from being a child so Catholic that she wanted to be a nun, to a genuinely curious adult looking for meaning via atheism, advanced yoga, astral travel and a whole lot more. Based on the popular ABC television series of the same name, this book features her trademark blend of her ‘brutal frankness and dazzling wit’ (The Age), and will appeal to anyone who has wondered about the bigger questions in life, as well as fans of her bestselling memoir, The Lucy Family Alphabet. (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverEvolution of the Word : reading the New Testament in the order it was written, by Marcus J. Borg.
Contents : A chronological New Testament — Before anything was written — Paul and his letters — Time line — 1 Thessalonians — Galatians — 1 Corinthians — Philemon — Philippians — 2 Corinthians — Romans — Mark — James — Colossians — Matthew — Hebrews — John — Ephesians — Revelation — Jude — 1 John — 2 John — 3 John — Luke — Acts — 2 Thessalonians — 1 Peter — 1 Timothy — 2 Timothy — Titus — 2 Peter.

Syndetics book coverThe art of neighboring : building genuine relationships right outside your door, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.
Once upon a time, people knew their neighbours. We now choose to live among strangers, and it can be hard to make lasting connections with those who live right outside our front door, although we have hundreds of “friends” through online social networking. This unique and inspiring book asks the question: What is the most loving thing I can do for the people who live on my street or in my apartment building? Through compelling true stories of lives impacted, the authors show readers how to create genuine friendships with the people who live in closest proximity to them. (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe power of the Prophetic Blessing, by John Hagee.
“The power and permanence of the Prophetic Blessing has been clearly charted over the centuries in Scripture… This transforming supernatural blessing, when spoken by spiritual authority, has the power to sculpt your future! And as you’ll discover from Pastor John Hagee… the words of this blessing carry the power to revolutionize your life – and the lives of your children and grandchildren – for today, tomorrow, and forever, so that you may all experience spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational prosperity”–dust jacket.

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Health

Coming into the silly season it’s good to put the focus back on health (before we all indulge over the Christmas break!). Our picks this month include guides to cholesterol and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as a new title on hallucinations from renowned British neurologist Oliver Sacks. Also included this month, health memoirs about parenting and Aspergers, and a look at allergies and our inner and outer ecology (code for the parasites and microbes in our gut!). Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverGrace under pressure : going the distance as an Aspergers mum / Sophie Walker.
“When Sophie Walker’s daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, her world unravelled. Her high-powered job was in disarray, she couldn’t sleep, often woke in tears and felt hopeless and useless in her role as a mother. With extraordinary frankness, Sophie Walker shares the daily highs and lows of raising Grace.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverGetting control / by Lee Baer ; with a foreword by Judith L. Rapoport.
“The first comprehensive guide to treating obsessive-compulsive disorder based on clinically proven behavioral therapy techniques, Dr. Lee Baer’s Getting Control has been providing OCD sufferers with information and relief for more than twenty years. In the same easy-to-understand format as the original, this updated edition includes: · Cutting-edge behavioral therapy techniques · Breakthrough advances in neuroscience · Brand-new material on hoarding · Expanded sections on how families can help OCD sufferers · The latest diagnostic standards · A completely revised list of resourcesOCD sufferers and their loved ones will find everything they need to assess their symptoms, set realistic goals, and create specific therapeutic exercises for managing this disorder.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tell-tale brain : unlocking the mystery of human nature / V.S. Ramachandran.
“V.S. Ramachandran has exploded the boundaries of modern science – so much so that he has been praised by Richard Dawkins as a latter-day Marco Polo.*A specialist in brain damage, he is famous for an instinctive, intuitive approach to neurological disorders that has led him to successfully “amputate” phantom limbs, as well as solving the riddles of apotemnophilia (an obsession with self-amputation), and Capgrass syndrome (where patients who are in all other respects fully recovered become convinced that their loved ones are imposters). This new book will explore why the human brain is so unique and how it became so enchantingly complex. Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about the brain and how it evolved. Along the way we hear stories that are by turns moving, funny, tragic and disturbing, but always utterly fascinating.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHallucinations / Oliver Sacks.
“From the best-selling author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, a provocative investigation into hallucinations-auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory-their many guises, their physiological sources, and their personal and cultural resonances. Hallucinations, for most people, imply madness. But there are many different types of non-psychotic hallucination caused by various illnesses or injuries, by intoxication-even, for many people, by falling sleep. From the elementary geometrical shapes that we see when we rub our eyes to the complex swirls and blind spots and zigzags of a visual migraine, hallucination takes many forms. At a higher level, hallucinations associated with the altered states of consciousness that may come with sensory deprivation or certain brain disorders can lead to religious epiphanies or conversions. Drawing on a wealth of clinical examples from his own patients as well as historical and literary descriptions, Oliver Sacks investigates the fundamental differences and similarities of these many sorts of hallucinations, what they say about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe eczema diet : eczema-safe food to stop the itch and prevent eczema for life / Karen Fischer.
“The Eczema Diet is the book all eczema sufferers have been waiting for. It includes all the facts and scientific research, as well as itch-busting treatments that offer immediate relief combined with a tried-and-tested diet – developed by nutritionist Karen Fischer over the past ten years through her work with eczema patients – that really gets results. Also included are 100 delicious recipes, suitable for everyone in the family, an extensive meal plan and shopping lists that are clear and easy to follow.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverWhat men with Asperger syndrome want to know about women, dating and relationships / Maxine Aston ; foreword by Tony Attwood ; illustrated by William Z. Aston.
“Positive, practical and realistic, this book offers a wealth of information on women, dating and relationships for men with Asperger Syndrome (AS).Many AS men are totally confused and bewildered by women and relationships and find it hard to know what to do, what to say and how to get it right. For these men, understanding the emotional side to relationships and women’s needs can be a complete mystery and they often get it disastrously wrong. This practical handbook provides many of the answers to Asperger men’s frequently asked questions about women, dating and relationships, helping them to better understand the way relationships work and increasing their confidence and ability to have successful relationships.This comprehensive handbook is essential reading for men with Asperger Syndrome (and their partners). It will also be of considerable use to counsellors and other professionals working with such individuals” (Syndetics summary)

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Personal Development

Delve into some thought-provoking new books for gaining fresh insights into our thinking and motivations. Whether you’d like to rip up the rule book or you’re just curious, you may want to do some things differently in your own life as a result.

Syndetics book coverThe antidote : happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking / Oliver Burkeman.
“Self-help books dont seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth, even if you can get it doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can’t even agree on what happiness means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way? Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hard-headed business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty – the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent persons guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverRip it up : the radically new approach to changing your life / Richard Wiseman.
“Most self-help books encourage you to think differently: to think yourself thin, imagine a richer self or to visualize the perfect you. This is difficult, time consuming and often doesn’t work. Ripping up the rule book, psychologist Richard Wiseman presents a radical new insight into your body and brain: actions are the quickest, easiest and most powerful way to instantly change how you think and feel. Drawing on a dazzling array of scientific evidence, Professor Wiseman shows how this simple idea can be used to increase motivation, overcome depression, lose weight, stop smoking and even slow ageing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe 5 elements of effective thinking / Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird.
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed – they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself – revealing previously hidden opportunities. Filled with engaging examples that unlock truths about thinking in every walk of life, ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’ is written for all who want to reach their fullest potential – including students, parents, teachers, businesspeople, professionals, athletes, artists, leaders, and lifelong learners. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking will inspire and guide you on your way.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverHold me tight : your guide to the most successful approach to building loving relationships / Sue Johnson.
“In Hold Me Tight, Dr Sue Johnson shares her highly effective therapy programme: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Forget learning how to argue better and making grand romantic gestures. Instead, Johnson teaches that the way to enhance – or save – a relationship is to re-establish a secure emotional attachment and preserve the ‘bond’ between you. This model has achieved an astounding 75 per cent success rate. Through illuminating case studies from her practice, advice and practical exercises, couples will learn how to nurture their relationships and ensure a lifetime of love.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe ravenous brain : how the new science of consciousness explains our insatiable search for meaning / Daniel Bor.
“Consciousness is our gateway to experience: it enables us to recognize Van Gogh’s starry skies, be enraptured by Beethoven’s Fifth, and stand in awe of a snow-capped mountain. Yet consciousness is subjective, personal, and famously difficult to examine: philosophers have for centuries declared this mental entity so mysterious as to be impenetrable to science. In The Ravenous Brain, neuroscientist Daniel Bor departs sharply from this historical view, and builds on the latest research to propose a new model for how consciousness works. Bor argues that this brain-based faculty evolved as an accelerated knowledge gathering tool. Consciousness is effectively an idea factory – that choice mental space dedicated to innovation, a key component of which is the discovery of deep structures within the contents of our awareness. This model explains our brains’ ravenous appetite for information – and in particular, its constant search for patterns. Why, for instance, after all our physical needs have been met, do we recreationally solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles? Such behaviour may appear biologically wasteful, but, according to Bor, this search for structure can yield immense evolutionary benefits – it led our ancestors to discover fire and farming, pushed modern society to forge ahead in science and technology, and guides each one of us to understand and control the world around us. But the sheer innovative power of human consciousness carries with it the heavy cost of mental fragility. Bor discusses the medical implications of his theory of consciousness, and what it means for the origins and treatment of psychiatric ailments, including attention-deficit disorder, schizophrenia, manic depression, and autism. All mental illnesses, he argues, can be reformulated as disorders of consciousness – a perspective that opens up new avenues of treatment for alleviating mental suffering. A controversial view of consciousness, The Ravenous Brain links cognition to creativity in an ingenious solution to one of science’s biggest mysteries.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverWhat makes us tick? : the ten desires that drive us / Hugh Mackay.
“Why do we talk as if we’re rational, but act as if we’re not? Why do some people always want to take control? What is the true role of religion? Why do we seek change, yet resist it? Why do we want more of the things that have failed to satisfy us? Why are we so passionate about sport? Why do we fall out of love? As Australia’s leading social researcher, Hugh Mackay has spent a lifetime of listening to people talk about their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their disappointments and their passions. In a series of bestselling books, he has documented the impact of the changes that have been radically reshaping our society. Now, he reflects on some of the things that don’t change and identitifies ten desires that drive us all. Insightful and engaging, WHAT MAKES US TICK? reveals Mackay’s formidable skills as a chronicler and interpreter of our motivations. In his exploration of why we do the things we do, he goes to the heart of some of life’s big questions.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverHappier at home : kiss more, jump more, abandon a project, read Samuel Johnson, and my other experiments in the practice of everyday life / Gretchen Rubin.
“In the spirit of the #1New York Timesbestseller ‘The Happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin embarks on a new project to make home a happier place. In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time and parenthood. Also, while Rubin wants to be happier at home, she wants to appreciate how much happiness is there already. So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicates a school year – September through May – to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort and love. Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions – and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well. With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe creativity cure : a do-it-yourself prescription for happiness / Carrie Barron and Alton Barron.
“Find a happy person, and you will find a project” wrote author and research psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. In this insightful book, husband-and-wife physicians Carrie and Alton Barron draw upon the latest psychological research, a combined forty years of medical practice, and personal experience to demonstrate the truth of that statement, revealing that creative action is integral to long-term happiness and wellbeing. The five steps of The Creativity Cure – Insight, Movement, Mind Rest, Using Your Own Two Hands, and Mind Shift lead the way to a more meaningful, fulfilling life by simultaneously developing self-understanding and self-expression. With the Barrons’ detailed tools and strategies for cultivating creative outlets, overcoming unconscious fears and barriers to happiness, and linking internal thought to external action, readers will build the mindset and habits for happiness and positive change. They will experience and learn how to sustain the deep satisfaction that accompanies creating something by hand. The perfect self-help book for our handmade, homemade, crafting culture, ‘The Creativity Cure’ has a simple yet profoundly inspirational message: that you can find the authentic, contented life you crave by taking happiness into your own two hands.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverNo storm lasts forever : transforming suffering into insight / Terry A. Gordon.
“As a cardiologist, Dr Terry Gordon dealt with life-and-death circumstances on a daily basis. He learned that life is precious and tenuous; it can change in an instant. Such a dramatic shift occurred when his son, Tyler, was involved in a car accident, sustaining a severe spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed. Leading his family through the experience, Terry’s journey resulted in a spiritual awakening to a clearer understanding of life and the truths it has to offer. Terry has learned that our experiences become calamities only if we make the conscious decision to make tragedies out of them. Rather than lamenting adversities, we can choose to be grateful for them, embracing them as gifts from the Divine. These gifts provide fertile soil for growth and enlightenment, offering us the opportunity to transform turmoil, disappointment and suffering into understanding, insight and resolve. These gifts, and how to bring them into your own life, are offered to you in No Storm Lasts Forever.” (Global Books in Print)

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People & Places Newsletter for December

How time flies. With the Christmas break just around the corner, you’ll be wanting to sort out your holiday reading pronto. Luckily, there’s plenty of ideas in this month’s People & Places newsletter. Highlights include: “Mortality”- fearless, uncompromising writing from Christopher Hitchens in his final days; “Joseph Anton” recounts Salman Rushdie’s journey from fugitive target of the Ayatollah Khomeini to the present; Will Schwalbe’s poignant memoir and frequent pick for Best of 2012 lists “The End of Your Life Book Club” and 100 objects that take you behind the scenes at Te Papa.

Biography

The phrase ” good British biography’ has a certain resonance and most biography-lovers will know what it means. This month’s subjects are all well-known English figures – most of historic importance – and they have been researched and written up by experts in the field or established scribes. Of particular interest is a new study of John Keats – the author was recently the guest-speaker at a seminar on the English Romantic poets at Victoria University and gave a public lecture and newspaper and radio interviews on his subject. We also feature a new work on the Bronte sisters, on Darwin – and Artemis Cooper’s new book on the writer and explorer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Look at the many great books on offer this month and take your pick!!

Syndetics book coverJohn Keats : a new life / Nicholas Roe.
“This landmark biography of celebrated Romantic poet John Keats explodes entrenched conceptions of him as a delicate, overly sensitive, tragic figure. Instead, Nicholas Roe reveals the real flesh-and-blood poet: a passionate man driven by ambition but prey to doubt, suspicion, and jealousy; sure of his vocation while bitterly resentful of the obstacles that blighted his career; devoured by sexual desire and frustration; and in thrall to alcohol and opium. Through unparalleled original research, Roe arrives at a fascinating reassessment of Keats’s entire life.” (Summary by www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverThe Brontës / Juliet Barker.
“The story of the tragic Brontë family is familiar to everyone: we all know about the half-mad, repressive father, the drunken, drug-addled wastrel of a brother, wildly romantic Emily, unrequited Anne, and “poor Charlotte.” Or do we? These stereotypes of the popular imagination are precisely that – imaginary – created by amateur biographers such as Mrs. Gaskell who were primarily novelists and were attracted by the tale of an apparently doomed family of genius.(Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverIs it just me? / Miranda Hart.
“In ‘Is it Just Me?’, Britain’s best loved comedienne, Miranda Hart, laments on the horrors of growing up and offers her younger self some essential advice on grappling with life’s unexpected perils and blunders”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverDarwin : portrait of a genius / Paul Johnson.
“Darwin’s revolutionary career is the perfect vehicle for historian Paul Johnson. Marked by the insightful observation, spectacular wit, and highly readable prose for which Johnson is so well regarded, Darwin brings the gentleman-scientist and his times brilliantly into focus. From Darwin’s birth into great fortune to his voyage aboard the Beagle, to the long-delayed publication of his masterpiece, Johnson delves into what made this Victorian gentleman into a visionary scientist and into the tragic flaws that later led Darwin to support the burgeoning eugenics movement”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverCounting one’s blessings : selected letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother / edited and with a preface by William Shawcross.
“One of the revelations of William Shawcross’s official biography of the Queen Mother was her private correspondence. Indeed the Sunday Times described her letters as ‘wonderful … brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness.Queen Elizabeth was a prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood and her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the person behind the public face. They reveal – in her own words – the little girl writing to her family; the young woman who, eventually, accepted Prince Albert’s proposal; the Duchess of York, embracing the public role demanded of her, on royal tours both at home and abroad.”(Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverMortality / Christopher Hitchens.
“On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported “from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.” Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis. Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open”. (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverCountry girl / Edna O’Brien.
“Edna O’Brien’s family encouraged her to attend pharmacy school, but she left before finishing to marry an older writer, give birth to two sons, and publish, in 1960, her first novel.The Country Girlsso scandalized the O’Briens’ local parish that the book was burned by the priest, her family disgraced. COUNTRY GIRL comes twenty-one books later, a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that imprint upon and enliven one lifetime.” (Summary from www. globalbooksinprint.com).

ALSO RECEIVED THIS MONTH :

Read all of “Joseph Anton,” then, for its lessons in how books are used, and whether they matter

For a lighter but by no means lightweight reading experience, try Kaffe Fassett’s Dreaming in colour. Kaffe is a master of beautiful designs in patchwork, knitting, needlework and mosaics. It is no exaggeration to say that he has revolutionised these crafts and breathed new life into them. He was the first living textile artist to have a one-man exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has also had a most interesting life and tells a very good story. Take your pick of our new offerings. Happy reading!!

Syndetics book coverJoseph Anton : a memoir / Salman Rushdie.
“The extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names; then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov – Joseph Anton.
How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for over nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom.” (Summary from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0224093975/ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21.)

Syndetics book coverThe House of Hancock : the rise and rise of Gina Rinehart / Debi Marshall.
“Gina Rinehart is the richest woman in the world – but at what cost? From an early age Gina Rinehart knew she was heir to one of Australia’s largest fortunes. Her father, Lang Hancock, loved her dearly and groomed her to take over the company. Then along came Rose, the Filipina housekeeper Lang married in 1985, and the obsessively private House of Hancock was changed forever. Hancock’s death in 1992 opened floodgates of litigation, with Rose and Gina fixtures in the courts fighting it out for their share of Lang’s mining assets. The Pilbara Princess has now become the Queen of Litigation, taking on her children and anyone else who dares to challenge her through countless court battles.” (Summary from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1742756743/ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21).

Syndetics book coverThe Black Count : glory, revolution, betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristo / Tom Reiss.
“The inspiration for some of the great adventure tales of Alexandre Dumas has long been a subject of curiosity and debate. According to Reiss, the inspiration for the great novel of intrigue, betrayal, and revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo, was Dumas’ own father, General Alexandre Alex Dumas. In this often thrilling and often sad chronicle, Reiss makes clear that Alex lived a life as full of adventure, triumph, and tragic loss as any of his son’s literary creations.” (Summary from Global Books).

Syndetics book coverThe end of your life book club / Will Schwalbe.
“Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. Their choices range from classic (Howards End) to popular (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), from fantastic (The Hobbit) to spiritual (Jon Kabat-Zinn), with many in between. We hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions. A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.” (Summary from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1444706381/ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21).

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Travel stories & guides

A book about the sixteenth century Portuguese navigators: did they really sail and chart coastlines in New Zealand? And did you know that there are many ‘Mom and Pop’ shops still in the Big Apple…. these and other travel answers are to be found in this month’s round-up of new Travel books.

Syndetics book coverScary monsters and super creeps : in search of the world’s most hideous beasts / by Dom Joly.
A brilliantly bizarre and hilarious travelogue from the audacious comedian, and TV star, Dom Joly.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRetire and live the dream : our long journey to la dolce vita / Annette Edis.Retire and Live the Dream: Our Long Journey to la Dolce Vita has been written to inspire and encourage readers to travel, especially those recently retired; urging them to disregard any fears they might have, take the plunge and have an experience of a lifetime. Included are an abundance of travel tips for both affordable and enjoyable travel, the importance of life goals and staying young in your outlook on life. Also included are fascinating anecdotes, myths and histories of the many towns, cities and countries visited by Annette.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlmost somewhere : twenty-eight days on the John Muir Trail / Suzanne Roberts.
“While wilderness memoirs have been coming fast and furious lately, Roberts dares to combine a hiking adventure with a healthy dose of humor and female bonding in all its complicated and turbulent best. Nearly 20 years ago she joined two girlfriends on a monthlong postcollegiate hike of the John Muir Trail. … With wit, laughter, and longing, she writes of the trip not as an attempt at wilderness salvation but rather a desire to do something, anything, that proved the future would not be so daunting. An utterly refreshing outdoors memoir free of the seemingly manufactured drama so many similar titles contain. A delightful and quite literary diversion.–Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted)

Syndetics book coverPre-Tasman Portuguese down under? / John Tasker. “For more than 200 years, scholars and amateurs alike have wrestled with the problem — did sixteenth century Portuguese navigators sail down the east coast of Australia and along the shores of New Zealand, charting the coastlines as they went? Employing endless speculation, all kinds of people have proposed all kinds of theories, not one of which resulted in a resolution over those two centuries. This book is different. Forsaking the speculation and guesswork model, it finally lays the matter to rest beyond all reasonable doubt.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Condé Nast traveler Book of unforgettable journeys : great writers on great places. Volume II / edited with an introduction by Klara Glowczewska.
“…Anthologies of travel writing abound, most of them like a pirate’s chest filled to the brim with gems. This one, the second gathering of articles published originally in Conde Nast Traveler magazine, has mostly diamonds for contents. The strongest pieces here among all strong pieces, that is include famous food critic Calvin Trillin’s Some Like It Not Hot, in which he shares experiences visiting the Ecuadorean city of Cuenca, calling it a walking around city (which he characterizes as often short on well-known sights but having small-item appeal nevertheless)….–Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted)

Syndetics book coverEstonia : a ramble through the periphery / [Alexander Theroux].
“Any journey with Alexander Theroux is an education. Endowed with a razor-sharp and hyper-literate mind, he stands beside Thomas Pynchon as one of the sharpest cultural commentators of our time. For Theroux, the country of Estonia and its people became a puzzle as he accompanied his wife there for a nine-month stay. Estonia is as biting and satirical as it is witty and urbane; as curious and lyrical as it is brash and irreverent. It marks a new highlight in an already stellar career and a book that continues Fantagraphics’ exceptional line of prose works.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwo guys on the road ; walking backwards across the world / Steve Chandler & Terrence N. Hill. “In TWO GUYS ON THE ROAD, Steve Chandler and Terry Hill write e-mails, postcards, and letters to each other as they travel the world. Terry mostly takes lengthy travels for pleasure abroad with his wife Miranda while Steve takes short business trips around the country, at times with his wife Kathy. In their usual style, Steve and Terry often launch into digressions to discuss whatever piques their interest in the moment resulting in a collage of places, people, opinions, travel tips, and sometimes tenuously-related memories.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClassic hikes of North America : 25 breathtaking treks in the United States and Canada / Peter Potterfield. “Included in the book is helpful information, such as: level of difficulty, trail conditions, recommended seasons, potential hazards and difficulties, resource information, and detailed maps of hiking routes. …. These are journeys to dream on, and Potterfield puts them within reach of any aspiring hiker.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover360 degrees longitude : one family’s journey around the world / John Higham. “In June 2005, John Higham, his wife September, daughters Jordan and Katrina packed-up and began a 52 week global adventure, visiting 30 countries on five continents. They stayed with friends, strangers, college girls on spring break and Polish shipyard workers with a penchant for striped boxer shorts and little else. The Highams learnt more than just the food and cultures of their destinations; fish can mistake nipples for a snack, a Chilean mall isn’t the best place to get ears pierced and that elephants love receiving flowers; and they learnt all about each other.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverNew York originals : a guide to the city’s classic shops & mom-and-pops / by Jamie McDonald. “Some of the last classic mom-and-pop businesses in the US are in the Big Apple: despite the fast-moving, ever-changing nature of the City and the recent onslaught of chain stores, many small businesses in New York and its five boroughs have survived and thrived year after year, generation after generation. ….a unique tour through all five boroughs introduces readers to 75 of these unique shops, restaurants, services, and manufacturers….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

Our new history books this month have something to interest everyone: Norse exporers, lady spies, retro Sydney, what it was to live when Shakespeare was about, and more. Happy reading!

Syndetics book coverVikings / Neil Oliver.
“The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution, and prided themselves on their bloody-thirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the west and as far as Baghdad in the east. As the Vikings did not write their history, we have to discover it for ourselves, and that discovery, as Neil Oliver reveals, tells an extraordinary story of a people who, from the brink of destruction, reached a quarter of the way around the globe and built an empire that lasted nearly two hundred years. Drawing on the latest discoveries that have only recently come to light, Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did they emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over 1000 years ago? VIKINGS will explore many of these questions for the first time in an epic story of one of the world’s great empires of conquest.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverChurchill’s angels : how Britain’s women secret agents changed the course of the Second World War / Bernard O’Connor.
“Over 70 female agents were sent out by Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War. These women – as well as others from clandestine Allied organisations – were flown out and parachuted or landed into occupied Europe on vital and highly dangerous missions: their job was to work with resistance movements both before and after D-Day. Bernard O’Connor relates the experiences of these agents of by drawing on a range of sources, including many of the women’s accounts of their wartime service. There are stories of rigorous training, thrilling undercover operations evading capture by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France, tragic betrayals and extraordinary courage.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverRetro Sydney / Ian Collis.
“Sydney in the 1950s and 1960s…This unique collection of vintage shots from amateur family photographers includes rare and never-before-seen material. It features timeless photographs of the stunning harbour and the creation of the Opera House, classic Royal Easter Show shots, the Queen’s visits and the pastimes the city loves – sport, recreation and fashion”–Back cover.

Syndetics book coverShakespeare’s restless world / Neil MacGregor.
“From Neil MacGregor, the acclaimed creator of A History of the World in 100 Objects and the Director of the British Museum, comes a unique, enthralling exploration of the age of William Shakespeare to accompany a new BBC Radio 4 series.Shakespeare lived through a pivotal period in human history. With the discovery of the New World, the horizons of Old Europe were expanding dramatically – and long-cherished certainties were crumbling. Life was exhilaratingly uncertain. What were Londoners thinking when they went to see Shakespeare’s plays? What was it like living in their world? Here Neil MacGregor looks at twenty objects from Shakespeare’s life and times, and uncovers the fascinating stories behind them. The objects themselves range from the grand (such as the hoard of gold coins that make up the Salcombe treasure) to the very humble, like the battered trunk and worn garments of an unknown pedlar. But in each case, they allow MacGregor to explore issues as diverse as piracy and Islam, Catholicism and disguise. MacGregor weaves the histories of objects into the words of Shakespeare’s plays themselves to suggest to us where his ideas about religion, national identity, the history of England and the world, human nature itself, may have come from. The result is a fresh and thrilling evocation of Shakespeare’s world.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe revenge of history : the battle for the twenty-first century / Seumas Milne.
“From the outset, Seumas Milne’s Guardian essays on the West’s war on terror provoked angry denunciations on both sides of the Atlantic. A decade on, the advocates of violent capitalism have been silenced. From class to religion, Blair to Obama, Palestine to Pakistan, bank bailouts to the Arab uprisings, the rise of China to the wave of change in Latin America, Milne exposes the breakdown of the new world order – and draws out the prospects for the emerging politics of the future. In a media culture dominated by eager apologists, Milne has consistently written against the grain. This book offers a compelling perspective on the convulsions that have brought us to today’s crisis – and a powerful indictment of a global and corporate empire in decline.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverA free man / Aman Sethi.
“Like Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun and Alexander Masters’s Stuart, this is a tour de force of narrative reportage. Mohammed Ashraf studied biology, became a butcher, a tailor, and an electrician’s apprentice; now he is a homeless day laborer in the heart of old Delhi. How did he end up this way? In an astonishing debut, Aman Sethi brings him and his indelible group of friends to life through their adventures and misfortunes in the Old Delhi Railway Station, the harrowing wards of a tuberculosis hospital, an illegal bar made of cardboard and plywood, and into Beggars Court and back onto the streets. In a time of global economic strain, this is an unforgettable evocation of persistence in the face of poverty in one of the world’s largest cities. Sethi recounts Ashraf’s surprising life story with wit, candor, and verve, and A Free Man becomes a moving story of the many ways a man can be free.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book cover100 amazing tales from Aotearoa / [Museum of New Zealand Te Papa].
“Te Papa stores more than 2 million pieces in trust for the nation. New Zealand through 100 Objects takes readers on a tour behind the scenes of the museum to discover more about 100 of these treasured items. Readers will learn the secrets of the first dinosaur fossil ever discovered, see new and unique spider species, be inspired by famous paintings and quirky jewellery, encounter fearsome weapons and armour from the Pacific and uncover the deep and personal stories of Maori taonga. Based on ‘Tales from Te Papa’, the fascinating series of mini documentaries from TVNZ, this book includes a DVD of the complete series, with a bonus 20 episodes.” (Global Books in Print)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for December

Sorry to disappoint you folks, but this month’s picks has nary a Christmas themed CD or movie in sight. No doubt there’ll be plenty of festive suggestions appearing on our blog/twitter/Facebook in the coming week or two.

What we do have is a couple of literary classics adapted for DVD – Sebastian Faulks’ “Birdsong” and Henning Mankell’s “Wallander; New Zealand’s own Anna Paquin appears in the underrated and decidedly non-vampiric “Margaret” ; also, books that take you behind the scenes of Game of Thrones and Doctor Who along with the best of the rest of in music & movies for December.

Library News

DVDs

Cover imageBirdsong.
“Busy screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Hour, The Iron Lady) adapts Sebastian Faulks’s 1993 bestseller…Costume-drama veteran Eddie Redmayne (The Pillars of the Earth) plays Stephen Wraysford, a British textile man based in Amiens in 1910. While staying with Isabelle (Clémence Poésy, In Bruges) and her controlling husband, Stephen falls in love with his hostess, but her marriage and stepchildren stand in the way. The story continues to proceed along two tracks: Stephen’s time with Isabelle and her sympathetic sister, Jeanne (Marie-Josée Croze), and his time as an imperiled lieutenant in the trenches of World War I…as memories of Amiens spur him on. Flashbacks reveal that Isabelle eventually returned his affection, except the course of their relationship did not run smoothly. By the end, he’s lost most of the things he once desired, but an alternative path lies ahead. In this sense, Birdsong bears some comparison with Atonement and Downton Abbey, though the downbeat nature of the material won’t be to all tastes…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageMargaret.
“A film whose initial release was held up for five years, thanks to a series of legal wrangles, the eventual cinematic debut of Margaret was, perhaps inevitably, strangely muted. Margaret is an ensemble drama, the catalyst for which is a bus crash. The crash is witnessed by Anna Paquin’s Lisa, and it forces her to question whether it was really an accident. Things spiral from there, affecting more than just Lisa herself, and drawing the film’s large cast together. Margaret is an involving, intelligent and absorbing piece of cinema, that if anything feels a little bit short. Running to well over two hours, there’s nonetheless still a sense that one or two of the story fragments are missing. But still, there’s plenty here to feast on. Furthermore, there are interesting themes that Lonergan’s film isn’t shy about exploring, and there’s a good deal to dissect once the credits roll. Don’t be put off by the relatively low-key DVD release, then. Margaret is a gem, the kind of film that’ll be discovered for some time to come…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageWallander. 3.
“The British television series Wallander boasts eerily beautiful scenery, intricate plotting, and, above all, Branagh, who delivers a masterpiece of interior acting. The less he lets slip, the more fascinating the character somehow becomes. Based on Henning Mankell’s novels, the series follows the downbeat adventures of Kurt Wallander, a world-weary police detective who operates in the Swedish town of Ystad. An Event in Autumn, the first installment in this third collection, finds Wallander attempting to construct something like a normal life, moving in to a cottage in the country with his girlfriend and her son. Fate soon comes knocking, however, as a gruesome discovery in his garden leads to the uncovering of a murderous legacy. Based on the second novel in Mankell’s series, The Dogs of Riga finds the inspector traveling to Latvia, after a murder at sea entraps him in a deadly case of police corruption on unfamiliar ground…This collection finishes up in fine style with Before the Frost, an exploration of belief and religious mania that ranks among the top episodes in the entire series…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageTouch. The complete first season.
“At the story’s centre is Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz). Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son. But Jake never speaks, shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake is obsessed with numbers–writing long strings of them in his ever-present notebooks–and with discarded cell phones. Social worker Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) believes that Jake’s needs are too serious for Martin to handle…However, everything changes after Martin meets Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), a professor and an expert on children who possess special gifts when it comes to numbers. Martin learns that Jake possesses an extraordinary gift–the ability to perceive the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet…As he puts the pieces together, he helps people across the world connect as their lives intersect according to the patterns Jake has foreseen…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageRizzoli & Isles. The complete first season.
“Angie Harmon has never been better, as the tough Boston detective Jane Rizzoli. Her partner in crime (solving) is the equally impressive Sasha Alexander as Dr. Maura Isles, the by-the-books medical examiner who always has Rizzoli’s back, but is often appalled at the cop’s hard-charging tough-Boston-girl approach. Rizzoli & Isles is based on the series of popular mysteries by Tess Gerritsen, and adapted faithfully and engagingly for TV viewers. One thing that sets Rizzoli & Isles apart from the average police procedural is its crisp direction and subtle writing; even the most die-hard cop-show viewer will be engaged and surprised by the plots’ twists and turns…The key in any double-starring series is chemistry, and Harmon and Alexander have it in spades–their sparring and intellectual one-upmanship are completely believable. The cases in season one are varied, though focus mostly on serial killers, with one particularly gripping case flashing back to the notorious Boston Strangler case…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePerson of interest. The complete first season.
“Series creator Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) lays out the premise at a furious clip: an eccentric tech genius (Lost’s Michael Emerson) enlists a shadowy soldier-of-fortune (Jim Caviezel) to help with his pet project–a machine with seemingly endless surveillance capabilities. Utilizing the device’s ability to identify threats before they happen, they set out to right future wrongs, attracting the attention of a dogged New York cop (Taraji P. Henson) in the process. Were Person of Interest content to remain at the level of weekly procedural, it would be a very good one, with every installment boasting well-choreographed fight scenes, Emerson’s impeccably weird comedy timing, and a thorny morality that keeps the methods of the protagonists edging into the black…Thankfully, however, Nolan and co. also show an ability to play the long game, cannily inserting flashbacks that hint at a bigger mystery, introducing a strangely empathetic recurring supervillain, and laying out minor plot elements that pay off big further down the line…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageFriends with kids.
“It’s a stroke of good fortune that Friends with Kids features a hefty portion of the same cast that made Bridesmaids such a hit. The stars of Friends with Kids are Jennifer Westfeldt (who also wrote and directed) and Adam Scott as Julie and Jason, BFFs who are strictly platonic but decide to have a child together out of mutual need, convenience, and familiarity. Their married friends have all brought kids into the world with mixed results, and they feel a little left out. Neither wants the burden of marriage and both profess to have no romantic inclination toward the other.. Concurrently with their parenting, each one is also playing the same old dating game that ranges from simple hookups to what looks like true love when Julie meets Kurt (Edward Burns) and Jason meets Mary Jane (Megan Fox). That’s when the emotions start getting complicated and both realize that they may not have thought through their child-rearing plan or their honest feelings for each other thoroughly enough…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe comeback. The complete first only season.
“How wickedly ironic–and delicious–that Lisa Kudrow’s single season of The Comeback provided the talented actress with enough meat for her to be nominated for an Emmy–after the show was canceled by HBO. Kudrow went for the Anti-Phoebe role after the demise of Friends, demonstrating her spectacular acting chops and range of comic abilities. The show centered on Kudrow’s playing an actress, once the ingénue of the moment, trying ever more desperately to get back into the limelight. The vehicle of choice: a reality “series” that follows Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish into scenarios with the deck more than stacked against her. Kudrow’s acid delivery and willingness to show Valerie’s raw pain, ambition, and obsequiousness make for engrossing and poignant, if squirm-inducing, viewing… The series, though short-lived demonstrates why Kudrow is one of our most talented actresses; here’s hoping for a succession of more Comebacks…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSyndetics book coverThe amazing Spider-man.
“The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageSnow White & the huntsman.
“Definitely not your average retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark, action-fantasy film that’s based more on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale than the well-known Disney version of the story. It features intriguing concepts, impressive special effects, and some disappointingly lackluster acting. The essence of the “Snow White” story is preserved in this recounting: the queen’s beautiful daughter Snow White, who is heir to the throne, is displaced and persecuted by an evil stepmother after her mother dies. Here, the evil stepmother Ravenna possesses a disturbing power to maintain her own perpetual youth by stealing youthfulness from the hearts of the young and beautiful, but her magic mirror warns that Snow White’s innocence and purity as she comes of age will destroy Ravenna’s chance at immortality. When Snow White escapes from the castle prison, Ravenna hires a downtrodden Huntsman to bring her back so that Ravenna can steal her youth and achieve personal immortality…This film is full of fascinating imagery that’s brought to life through powerful special effects, great costuming, and captivating cinematography…” (From Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAttack the block.
“Full of gory practical effects and fluent pop-cultural references, Attack the Block–an alien invasion scenario squeezed into a single apartment building–belongs to the same species of British genre comedy as Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Director Joe Cornish takes some clever routes around the limitations of his budget, filming on location in London’s Heygate Estate (itself a once utopian science-fiction experiment) and mining the freshness of his young cast’s authentic street slang. When the aliens arrive (they simply drop, during a frosty Bonfire Night, out of the shining pepper of the stars) ..the block’s defence is up to a group of teenage hoods, lead by the imposing Moses (John Boyega) and reluctantly helped by middle-class neighbour Sam (Jodie Whittaker). Armed with fireworks and mounted on muscle bikes, they launch an entertaining and Spielbergian resistance through the block’s labyrinth of corridors and walkways…More alien to each other than the beasts on their tail, the survival of these divided class members hangs on the recognition that they have a stake in each other…(From Amazon.co.uk)

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Film Books

From HBO’s Game of Thrones to the legendary film stars.

Syndetics book coverInside HBO’s Game of thrones / Bryan Cogman ; preface by George R. R. Martin ; foreword by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss.“HBO’s Game of Thrones reigns as cable’s highest-rated series. This official companion book gives fans new ways to enter this fictional world and discover more about the beloved (and reviled) characters and the electrifying plotlines. Hundreds of set photos, production and costume designs, storyboards, and insider stories reveal how the show’s creators translated George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series into the world of Westeros. Featuring interviews with key actors and crew members that capture the best scripted and unscripted moments from the first two seasons, as well as a preface by George R. R. Martin, this special volume, bound in a lavishly debossed padded cover, offers exclusive access to this unprecedented television series.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Doctor’s monsters : meanings of the monstrous in Doctor Who / Graham Sleight.
“Doctor Who has been on global television screens for nearly fifty years, and many of its most memorable protagonists have been its monsters, The Daleks, Cybermen, Slitheen, the Sonterans, Ood, Wiirrn, and others. Entertainingly and provocatively written, and introduced by Who scriptwriter Paul Cornell, The Doctor’s Monsters takes a new look at these and many other creatures, and asks what inspired them and what lies behind them.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe science fiction universe– and beyond : Syfy Channel book of sci-fi / introduction by Thomas P Vitale ; text by Michael Mallory.“Travel where no man has gone before with this comprehensive journey through the universe of science fiction film and television! From the wildly imaginative European masterpieces of the silent era to compelling, character-based weekly television series like Twilight Zone, X-Files, and Battlestar Galactica, to the CGI-realized world of Avatar, science fiction film and television has pushed the boundaries of the visually and dramatically fantastic for more than a century. The Science Fiction Universe… and Beyond offers a breadth of knowledge, insight, and passion to the spellbinding and entertaining realm of close encounters, black holes, time travel, distant planets, impossible quests, alternate realities, futuristic technology, spaceships, extraordinary monsters, and incredibly imagined worlds” (adapted from Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe Top gear years / Jeremy Clarkson.
“We now know all about — the world according to Clarkson. In a series of bestselling books, Jeremy has revealed it to be a puzzling, frustrating place where all too often the lunatics seem to be running the asylum. But in The Top Gear Years, we get something rather different.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rough guide to 21st century cinema / by Adam Smith.
“Celebrate the centurys’ finest movies in The Rough Guide to 21st Century Cinema, a lavishly illustrated homage to the world’s best movies of this new era of cinema. The best 101 films: a run down of the finest films of the millenium from Hollywood blockbusters to indie gems. The hottest stars: features on the up and coming actors and actresses who have made a mark. The winning genres: best-in-class features on drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi, animation, documentary, superhero movies and all the genre-mash ups in between. The unsung heroes: the finest talent behind the camera, including directors, cinematographers, set designers and special effects specialists. The Rough Guide to 21st Century Cinema is the essential companion to movies of the moment.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverBritish crime film : subverting the social order / Barry Forshaw.“British Crime Film is a celebratory and comprehensive social history of this idiosyncratic genre. Barry Forshaw focuses on the strategies used to address more radical notions than those presented in mainstream product, exploring such themes as the treatment of sex and violence, corporate crime and the maverick criminal. Covering every major – and most minor – British crime films up to and including the twenty-first century, Forshaw contextualises the films within the crime fiction that inspired them. He explores new developments including British urban crime movies and the wave of new crime/horror hybrids such as Kill List, and predicts what the future holds for the genre.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverAudrey : the 60s / David Wills and Stephen Schmidt.“Audrey Hepburn charmed cinema audiences in the 1950s as a new type of screen presence – gamine, doe-eyed and refreshingly casual. By the 1960s she had metamorphosed to become a trendsetting sophisticate, achieving unrivalled status as an actress, model, movie star and champion for underprivileged children worldwide. Curator and archivist David Wills has amassed one of the world’s largest private collections of original Audrey Hepburn photography. Now, in Audrey: The 60s, he has gathered a spectacular selection of work from her key photographers – much of it digitally restored from original negatives and transparencies – to create a truly breath-taking portfolio of images which pays homage to the most beloved and enduring style icon of the decade that changed everything.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverElizabeth Taylor / Susan Smith.
“Elizabeth Taylor was one of the major film stars of the twentieth century, embodying all the glamour and allure of Hollywood stardom. Yet her achievements as an actress have often been overshadowed by her beauty
and tumultuous life off-screen. To redress this imbalance, Susan Smith offers an illuminating study of Elizabeth Taylor’s work in film, exploring her fascinating trajectory from child to adult star. Smith reveals the influence that Taylor’s early work exerted over her later career and the ways in which her on-screen identity is profoundly rooted in her association with animals and nature.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Classical Music

You’ll find below our most recent classical music purchases for this month, enjoy!

Cover ImageThe Chopin album. (CD)
“World-renowned pianist Lang Lang turns to the composer who has accompanied him throughout his career on his latest recording, The Chopin Album. The record is entirely devoted to Chopin’s solo piano pieces and includes well known pieces such as “The Minute Waltz” and the “Grande Valse Brillante op. 18 in E-flat major”. The DVD features ‘My Life With Chopin’ which includes 50 minutes of exclusive footage showing Lang Lang’s career from age 12 to today”. (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageAs it is. (CD)
“A fresh approach to one of contemporary composition’s most iconoclastic and inventive figures, ‘As It Is’ is issued to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage. Early Cage is the subject here, strikingly original songs and piano pieces from the 1930s and 1940s. Songs in which Cage set words by writers whose vision was as independent as his own – James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and e e cummings. They are performed by the Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov – who championed Cage’s work in Russia and later had a close working relationship with him – and his compatriot, vocalist Natalia Pschenitschnikova.
As Paul Griffiths writes, “The music exists in singing that has a raw, living edge, and it exists in piano tone that can be utterly simple and utterly remarkable. There is also a third presence, that of the producer, bringing forward the extraordinary resonances that come from Lubimov’s piano, with preparation or without.” With Manfred Eicher producing, the recording was made in December 2011 in Zürich. Lubimov grasps both the playfulness of the music and its message of freedom.
Lubimov previously included Cage’s In a Landscape on his 2002 debut recording for ECM New Series, Der Bote, a disc of piano elegies. Among his other acclaimed recordings for the label are works by Scriabin, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, and Valentin Silvestrov. Earlier this summer his double album of Debussy’s Preludes and other pieces attracted huge praise and was BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Recording of the Month’ in July. Natalia Pschenitschnikova has appeared on two previous ECM discs of Giya Kancheli as a flautist.
Personnel: Alexei Lubimov (piano, prepared piano), Natalia Pschenitschnikova (voice)”. (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageGiovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Volume 1. (CD)
“2011 sees the first recording by The Sixteen devoted entirely to Palestrina. The disc marks the start of a new project which will result in a series of new recordings exploring a selection of the composer s vast output, and a Choral Pilgrimage tour. Palestrina was born in 1525 not far from Rome, in the town whose name he bore and from which we take the cover images for this new series of discs. Possibly the greatest composer of liturgical music of all time, Palestrina was a towering figure in Renaissance polyphony. Choral singers world-wide will know his Missa Papae Marcelli (recorded by The Sixteen on COR16014) as, without doubt, it is the most renowned of Palestrina s works and possibly the most famous mass of all time. On this new disc The Sixteen has recorded some of the sumptuous music he wrote for the Assumption including his Missa Assumpta est Maria and Salve Regina. Without doubt, Palestrina was the great master of all Papal composers and his spiritual craft and harmonic vitality fulfilled the needs of the Vatican. His Motet and Offertory for the Assumption also entitled Assumpta est Maria, are glorious examples of such work and can be heard in all their splendour on this recording. By his death in 1594, Palestrina had published a huge amount of music including over 100 Masses and over 350 motets.” (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageDuo (CD)
“An inspiring, enjoyable, powerhouse meeting between two award-winning highly-individualistic classical music superstars who consider their initial meeting as fateful, not coincidence. Hélène Grimaud (who is called “the earth” in their interview), one of the greatest interpretative classical pianists who experiences sound as colors, and star cello virtuoso Sol Gabetta (”the air”), famed for the nuanced, singing quality of her instrumental interpretations and her highly emotional playing, meld their ‘earth and air’ talents and personae into a marvelous musical duo. It began in 2011 in a joyful, fateful musical encounter that ‘clicked’ immediately. In a wide spectrum of musical tastes, they cover the duo compositions of Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, and Dmitri Shostakovich, and this diverse program works wonderfully and has toured to great success…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk reviewer)

Cover ImageAdam’s lament (CD)
“Marshalling orchestral and choral forces under the direction of Tonu Kaljuste, this new Arvo Pärt album, produced by Manfred Eicher and realized, like all Pärt’s ECM discs, with the composer’s participation, is a major event. Sacred music predominates, by turns monumentally powerful and tenderly fragile. Adam’s Lament is the main work, but all eight pieces are either premiere recordings or first recordings of new versions reworked by the composer.
The other compositions are: Beatus Petronius for two choirs, eight woodwind instruments, tubular bells and strings; Salve Regina for choir, celesta and string orchestra; Statuit ei Dominus for two choirs, woodwinds and strings; Alleluia-Tropus for choir and string orchestra; L’Abbé Agathon for soprano, baritone, female choir and string orchestra. The album concludes with two beautiful lullabies – Estonian Lullaby and Christmas Lullaby – for female choir and string orchestra.” (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverRobert Schumann : the life and work of a romantic composer / Martin Geck ; translated by Stewart Spencer.
“Robert Schumann (1810-56) is one of the most important and representative composers of the Romantic era. Born in Zwickau, Germany, Schumann began piano instruction at age seven and immediately developed a passion for music. When a permanent injury to his hand prevented him from pursuing a career as a touring concert pianist, he turned his energies and talents to composing, writing hundreds of works for piano and voice, as well as four symphonies and two ballets. Here acclaimed biographer Martin Geck tells the fascinating story of this multifaceted genius, set in the context of the political and social revolutions of his time. The image of Schumann, the man and the artist, that emerges in Geck’s book is complex. Geck shows Schumann to be not only a major composer and music critic-he cofounded and wrote articles for the controversial Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik-but also a political activist, the father of eight children, and an addict of mind-altering drugs. Through hard work and determination bordering on the obsessive, Schumann was able to control his demons and channel the tensions that seethed within him into music that mixes the popular and esoteric, resulting in compositions that require the creative engagement of reader and listener. The more we know about a composer, the more we hear his personality in his music, even if it is above all on the strength of his work that we love and admire him. Martin Geck’s book on Schumann is not just another rehashing of Schumann’s life and works, but an intelligent, personal interpretation of the composer as a musical, literary, and cultural personality.” (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

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