Mind & Body Newsletter for November

There’s plenty of inspiration for good living to be found in this month’s Mind & Body selections: practical suggestions for the paleo-diet; figuring out what to do with quinoa; finding out what makes you tick and discovering how just one thing a day makes all the difference.

Cooking

Syndetics book coverPortion Size Me : A Kid-driven Plan to a Healthier Family / Marshall Reid and Alexandra Reid.
“Hi my name is Marshall Reid. When I was ten I asked my mom if we could make a change and try to be healthy for a month. This book is the story of my family’s journey to healthier living. I don’t want to spoil anything other than it was a success! So come on, let’s Portion Size Me!” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverLove Italian Food : Recipes for Friends and Family from a Home in Asolo / Maddalena Caruso ; [with photography by Stefano Scatà].
“At last, a book that will transport you straight to Italy to enjoy fresh seasonal produce for every occasion and to celebrate the glorious diversity of Italian home cooking.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverPure Vegan : 70 Rcipes for Bautiful Meals and Clean Lving / by Joseph Shuldiner ; photographs by Emily Brooke Sandor and Joseph Shuldiner.
“Forget restrictions and rigidity, and leap into the joy of pure vegetarianism: an exuberant celebration of food, the earth and your life. Your plate will overflow with brilliant colors, rich flavors, and life-enriching nutrients, satisfying your mind, body, and – last not least – taste buds.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverPractical Paleo : a customized approach to health and a whole-foods lifestyle / Diane Sanfilippo.
“Practical Paleo is the resource you’ll reach for again and again, whether you’re looking for information on healthy living, delicious recipes, or easy-to-understand answers to your questions about how a Paleo lifestyle can benefit you, your family and your friends.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverQuinoa for Families / Rena Patten.
“Rena’s back, with more delicious, simple recipes using everyone’s favourite supergrain – quinoa. Whether or not you’ve read Cooking with Quinoa, this book is the perfect introduction to the seed, quinoa, or the next must-have cookbook for your collection.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverStart Fresh : Your Child’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating / Tyler Florence ; photographs by John Lee.
“Chef Florence believes that everybody deserves to eat delicious, flavorful food prepared with care and the freshest ingredients – and that goes for babies, too. In “Start Fresh,” he takes the expertise he has used to create his own line of organic baby food and presents quick, user-friendly recipes for 60 purees packed with simple, easy-to-digest fruits, vegetables, and grains.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEveryday Paleo Family Cookbook : Real Food for Real Life / Sarah Fragoso ; [recipe photos by Michael J. Lang].
Featured are more than eighty delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes that are free of grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes.

Syndetics book coverThe Accidental Vegan / Devra Gartenstein
“In the last decade, veganism has moved into the mainstream as home cooks seek out healthy, fresh, economical, and environmentally sustainable foods. Omnivorous author Devra Gartenstein’s pioneering classic vegan cookbook, first published in 2000, gets a timely make-over with 20 new recipes, simplified instructions, and a focus on fresh and local ingredients.” (Syndetics summary)

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Religion and beliefs

Heretics, church conflicts, how to tame your tongue, and faces of compassion all feature in the recent arrivals to our beliefs shelves.

Syndetics book coverBrigham Young, pioneer prophet, by John G. Turner.
“*Starred Review* In 1859, Brigham Young declared, I love my religion above all things else. In recounting the life of a man whose devotion made him one of the titans of nineteenth-century America, Turner traces Young’s cautious investigation and then wholehearted acceptance of the radical gospel preached by the Latter-day Saints prophet Joseph Smith. This gospel meant not only a new volume of scripture (the Book of Mormon) but also priesthood ordinances sealing families in the eternities … Turner’s broad historical perspective clarifies why Young’s ecclesiastical successors have still felt the man’s influence even after abandoning polygamy. An impressively detailed portrait of a controversial giant. (drawn from Booklist, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverChange your words, change your life, by Joyce Meyer.
Words are a big deal. They are containers for power, and we have to decide what kind of power we want our words to carry, says the author. “I believe that our words can increase or decrease our level of joy. They can affect the answers to our prayers and have a positive or negative effect on our future. ….” Topics include: How to Tame Your Tongue ; When to talk and when not to talk ; Speaking Faith and Not Fear ; Do you really have to give your opinion? ; The importance of keeping your word ; The power of speaking God’s word. (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverJust one thing : developing a Buddha brain one simple practice at a time, by Rick Hanson.
You’ve heard the expression, “It’s the little things that count.” Research has shown that little daily practices can change the way your brain works, too. This book offers simple brain-training practices you can do every day to protect against stress, lift your mood, and find greater emotional resilience. Just One Thing is a treasure chest of over fifty practices created specifically to deepen your sense of well-being and unconditional happiness. Just one practice each day can help you: – Be good to yourself – Enjoy life as it is – Build on your strengths – Be more effective at home and work – Make peace with your emotions.

Syndetics book coverHeretics : the creation of Christianity, from the Gnostics to the modern church, by Jonathan Wright.
“A lively new examination of Christian heresy, from a historian who argues that heretical dissent helped Christianity become the world’s most powerful religion.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed cross the road? : Christian identity in a multi-faith world, by Brian D. McLaren.
“Using stories from his life and what he has gleaned, sometimes creatively, from theologians, McLaren focuses on ways Christians can reconfigure concepts such as Christology and the Trinity to build a robust emergent Christian faith that repudiates violence, coercion, and domination. Although he claims to reject a sugary Coke commercial version of interfaith “harmony,” McLaren’s utopian vision, however, might strike even his followers as overly sanguine in its downplaying of the problem of evil. Further, some of his personal anecdotes read more like Save the Children infomercials than slices of real life. Ultimately, McLaren remains worth reading, lively and passionate at translating progressive theology into a popular idiom. (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

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Health

Recent additions to the collection cover a whole range of topics, including: helping children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (a book that was a blog first); surviving childhood cancer; helping families to create better eating habits; a guide to women’s cancers from the Mayo Clinic; recovering from trauma using compassion-focused therapy, and lots more. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverKids first diabetes second : tips for parenting a child with type 1 diabetes / Leighann Calentine with Robin Porter.
“Raising a child is a difficult job. Raising a child with a chronic illness such as diabetes can be a difficult job with a side order of special challenges. Leighann Calentine’s “D-Mom Blog” is an invaluable resource for parents and caregivers of children with diabetes. Leighann shares her family’s experiences with her daughter’s type 1 diabetes in a forum that is intimate, informative, and inspirational. In a style both practical and affirming, “Kids First, Diabetes Second” presents Leighann’s advice to help parents and caregivers enable children with diabetes to thrive. Learn how to automate tasks, navigate challenges, celebrate achievements, establish a support group, relieve stress, and avoid being consumed by management of the condition, while focusing on what’s most important: raising a happy, healthy child.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverChildhood cancer survivors : a practical guide to your future / Nancy Keene, Wendy Hobbie, and Kathy Ruccione.
“…excellent guide covering life after the last cancer treatment. The first few chapters give advice on dealing with follow-up care after therapy has been completed, schooling concerns, family relationships, and insurance and job issues as children grow up. The later chapters deal with diseases and body systems that are impacted by the adverse effects of cancer treatments, which can occur years later – an increasingly common phenomenon as more and more children survive for years past treatment. The great strength of the book is the stories from survivors and their parents, which offer a voice to the many problems and concerns they have during and after cancer therapy. Verdict: An essential book for childhood cancer survivors, their parents, and the health care providers who treat them.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe spark of life : electricity in the human body / Frances Ashcroft
“Most people learn in school that nerves control our muscles, senses, and brain, but many adults would struggle to explain exactly how this occurs. Physiologist Ashcroft writes an engaging and authoritative guide to how nerves communicate across gaps called synapses, and so make life possible…VERDICT: Ashcroft clearly and patiently introduces complicated science while enlivening her narrative with fascinating tales of electric eels, fugu fish poisoning, and fainting goats. Serious readers will be both challenged and entertained.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe ADD myth : how to cultivate the unique gifts of intense personalities / Martha Burge.
“[Burge] asserts that those branded with ADHD experience stimuli – physical, sensory, emotional – more intensely than others. There is no such thing as ADD, she asserts. Instead, the problem for those who are distracted, disorganized, fidgety, and impulsive is to learn how to turn their intensity into a strength. Burge bashes the forthcoming edition of the psychiatric bible, the DSM-V, with its broader ADHD criteria, as well as a drug industry profiting from the label. She then offers practices many based on meditation techniques to calm, soothe, and sharpen the mind. Hers is a bold stand, and Burge is partly backed by Frances, who was task force chairman for the current DSM-IV. Still, Burge’s guidance is more suited for adults who understand their difficulties than struggling school kids. Still, her assertions should at least spur scrutiny of an epidemic that continues to stymie its sufferers and their families.” (adapted from Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe compassionate mind approach to recovering from trauma using compassion focused therapy / Deborah Lee ; with Sophie James.
“Terrible events are very hard to deal with and those who go through a trauma often feel permanently changed by it. Grief, numbness, anger, anxiety and shame are all very common emotional reactions to traumatic incidents such as an accident or death of a loved one, and ongoing traumatic events such as domestic abuse…”Recovering from Trauma” uses the groundbreaking Compassion Focused Therapy to help the reader to not only develop a fuller understanding of how we react to trauma, but also to deal with any feelings of shame and start to overcome any trauma-related difficulties.” (adapted from Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverThe midwife’s here! : the enchanting true story of one of Britain’s longest-serving midwives / Linda Fairley.
“… Under the strict supervision of community midwife Mrs Tattershall, Linda’s gruellingly long days were spent on overcrowded wards pinning Terry nappies, making up bottles and sterilizing bedpans – and above all helping women in need. Her life was a succession of emergencies, successes and tragedies: a never-ending chain of actions which made all the difference between life and death…Forty years later Linda’s passion for midwifery burns as bright as ever as she is now celebrated as one of Britain’s longest-serving midwives, still holding the lives of mothers and children in her own two hands. Rich in period detail and told with a good dose of Manchester humour, The Midwife’s Here! is the extraordinary, heartwarming tale of a truly inspiring woman.” (adpated from Fishpond).

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Personal Development

Whether it’s what makes us tick or what makes love last, take a look at some of some of the things driving us in our lives and how you can gain more control to be in the driver’s seat in yours.

Syndetics book coverTake the lead : motivate, inspire, and bring out the best in yourself and everyone around you / Betsy Myers with John David Mann.
“From the Oval Office to the playground, cabinet meetings to kitchen tables, in public life and private, Betsy Myers has seen firsthand the emergence of a new leadership model where having all the answers up front is less important than asking the right questions, where strength is derived less from the power you wield than from how you make the people around you feel. With personal stories from her time in government, in academia, and on the campaign trail, as well as her experiences as a wife, daughter, and mother, Myers helps all of us learn to set the right priorities for ourselves; to connect on a deeper level with the people around us; to uncover problems early when they are still easy to fix; to collaborate with those whose points of view are different from our own; and to push through our fears and live our most authentic lives. Myers demonstrates that more than simply making people feel good, this kind of leadership can have a profound effect on the results achieved: it is how initiatives are launched, profits are made, and work gets done. Provocative, practical, and profoundly inspiring, ‘Take the Lead’ is a book for anyone who wonders where all the great leaders have gone. Betsy Myers helps us see that true leadership is all around us and within us.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverWhat makes love last? : how to build trust and avoid betrayal / John Gottman and Nan Silver.
“Doubts are common in relationships. Partners often worry. Can I trust my partner? Am I being betrayed? How do I know for sure? Based on laboratory findings, this book shows readers how to identify signs, behaviours, and attitudes that indicate betrayal – whether sexual or not – and provides strategies for repairing what may seem lost or broken. With a gift for translating complex scientific ideas into insightful and practical advice, Gottman explains how a couple can protect or recover their greatest gift – their love for one another.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverAdd more ~ing to your life : a hip guide to happiness / Gabrielle Bernstein.
“Lots of people are selling ‘happiness’ these days as if it were a marketable commodity. But in her hip self-transformation book, Add More ~ing to Your Life, motivational speaker and life coach Gabrielle Bernstein truly shows you how to make happiness a way of life. Ms Bernstein is bringing happy back. Designed to bulldoze negative thought patterns and create personal change through positive affirmations, physical activity and visualisation meditations, Gabrielle guides the reader to happiness in 30 days through her dynamic ~ing, a proven method of sharpening one’s intuitive senses and activating untapped inspirations. Gabrielle will prepare you to change your life by accessing a state of flow, helping you connect with your ~ing, your inner guide, and readying you to release your limiting beliefs and to choose happiness.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverSelf-therapy made easy / Marian Van Eyk McCain.
“This book is written for ordinary, well-adjusted people who like to solve their own problems and deal with their own issues and who are fully capable of doing so. Written by a highly qualified psychotherapist and based on many years of clinical experience and personal practice, it is an informative, inspirational and easy-to-read guide to understanding how the normal, human mind works and how we can all take charge of our own psychological, emotional and spiritual health. By trying out the various practices and techniques in this book you will soon find the ones that suit them best. Most people, once they have been introduced to these methods of ‘inner work’, go on using some or all of them for the rest of their lives to keep themselves inwardly healthy and to further their personal and spiritual growth.” (Book cover)

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)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for November

In this month’s Music & Movies : Prometheus makes it to the small screen; everything you needed to know (and possibly a few things you didn’t) from series 3 of Downton Abbey; Bolan, Bowie and Jagger; and Wellington’s organs get played for posterity.

DVDs

Some new DVDs for October include the family friendly ‘Big Miracle’; ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ from the producers of ‘Bridesmaids’; ‘Dark Shadows’ with Johnny Depp; some spooky horror with ‘The Innkeepers’; and the chocolate themed French rom-com ‘Romantics Anonymous’…

Cover imageDark shadows.
“In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy… until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe five-year engagement.
“Planning a wedding is no easy task, and finding the perfect moment for the big occasion is nothing short of impossible, but Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segel) have no idea of the challenges ahead of them when they decide to get married. This slapstick comedy plays like the art of awkward: Violet, Tom, their friends, and families all have huge propensities for saying and doing the absolutely worst, most awkward thing in any given situation. From a bungled marriage proposal to a multimedia presentation about Tom’s ex-girlfriends at the couple’s engagement party, and an inappropriate hookup between Violet’s sister Susie (Alison Brie) and Tom’s good friend Alex (Chris Pratt), the impending nuptials promise nothing but trouble for everyone but viewers in the mood to laugh. Rising chef Tom sacrifices a job he loves in San Francisco, along with the promise of swift promotion, to follow academic Violet to a teaching fellowship in Michigan. The only job Tom can find there is in a sandwich shop, and the move puts their wedding plans on hold… Eventually, the strain takes a huge toll on their relationships with one another, their friends, coworkers, and families. But one thing is certain, director Nicholas Stoller makes sure that their journey is just as funny as it is sad…(Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageBig miracle.
“The oil business, politics, Inuit customs, and animal preservation normally don’t mix, especially when the press gets involved. But a funny thing happens when Alaska television reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) discovers a trio of gray whales trapped in the ice near the small town of Point Barrow. Adam’s report gets national exposure, and his ex-girlfriend and Greenpeace worker Rachel (Drew Barrymore) hears the story, begins lobbying politicians to save the whales, and hops a plane for Alaska. The story reaches the local Inupiat people and millions of Americans, including oil tycoon J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson), presidential aide Kelly Meyers (Vinessa Shaw), Marine colonel Scott Boyer (Dermot Mulroney), and Los Angeles reporter Jill Jerard (Kristen Bell). Each gets involved in the fight for their own distinct reason…The group forms an unlikely alliance and pools their resources in an effort to save the three gray whales, but the experience leaves each of them unexpectedly changed…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe innkeepers.
“At a time when the horror genre seems to consist solely of cheap jump scares and MacGyverish torture contraptions, writer-director-editor Ti West’s The House of the Devil proved a pleasant anomaly: a slow-building ’70s throwback which understood that the process of getting spooked is at least half the fun. The Innkeepers, West’s follow-up, winningly continues the retro streak, doling out the murk and gloom by steadily escalating degrees, anchored by Sara Paxton’s wonderfully appealing mope of a lead performance. Kicking off with a knowingly chintzy Internet gag, the story follows a pair of bored clerks (Paxton and Pat Healy) working at a rickety Victorian inn during its last few days of business. Taking advantage of the lack of guests, the not-so-dynamic duo begin investigating the building’s reputation for housing things that go bump in the night. After a boozy psychic (Kelly McGillis) checks in, however, the once-quaint creaks and moans become terrifyingly tangible…(Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe Raven.
“Baltimore 1849. While investigating a horrific double murder, police detective Emmett Fields makes a startling discovery: the killer’s methods mirror the twisted writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Suspecting Poe at first, Fields ultimately enlists his help to stop future attacks. But in this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are raised with each gruesome slaying as the pair races to catch a madman before he brings every one of Poe’s shocking stories to chilling life, and death.” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imagePrometheus.
“Yes, folks, Prometheus is a prequel, in a sideways sort of fashion, to Scott’s 1979 Alien original–or at least it’s a long-distant stage setter for that story. This one begins with a space mission that could reveal the extraterrestrial roots of Earth, although what’s buried out on the planet turns out to be much more complicated than expected. In the midst of suspenseful episodes (and a few contrived plot turns), Prometheus reaches for Big Answers to Big Questions, in a grand old sci-fi tradition. This lends the movie a hint of metaphysical energy, even if Scott’s reach extends well, well beyond his grasp. The hokier moments are carried off with brio by Michael Fassbender (the robot on board), Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba, and then you’ve got Noomi Rapace entering the badass hall of fame for a long, oh-no-they-didn’t sequence involving radical surgery, which might just induce the vapours in a few viewers. Even if Prometheus has its holes, the sheer size of the thing is exciting to be around. Because this movie is gigantic…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageRock of ages.
“Anyone with great affection for ’80s big-hair bands (Journey, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, and the rest) will be doing a lot of head-bopping to Rock of Ages, the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Director Adam Shankman (Hairspray) has assembled a winning cast to tell the story of an aging rock legend, Stacee Jaxx (played with deadpan aplomb by Tom Cruise), against the I-wanna-be-a-star yearnings of a newbie, Sherrie (Julianne Hough). There’s not much of a plot, but the music is really the star, as well as the great supporting roles played by Catherine Zeta-Jones (Patricia, a belter with style), Paul Giamatti (Paul, a jaundiced rock promoter apparently intent on quashing everyone’s dreams), Mary J. Blige (Justice, the owner of a strip club), and Alec Baldwin, whose Dennis is a rawk-on club owner and head-banger from way back. Everyone in the cast looks like they’re having a blast, and that feeling is contagious, especially if you love the music. Some parts of Rock of Ages don’t seem to know if they are supposed to be played in earnest or ironically, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. And Cruise, though his part is small, seems to be channeling late-era Axl Rose in a performance that’s a little unnerving, yet hilarious. Rock of Ages appeals to the rocker in us all. Don’t stop believin’…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover image Vera. Series one.
“Few would suggest that television is crying out for a new detective to solve the crimes of Britain, and thus the original announcement of Vera hardly set tongues wagging. But this is a show that has a special weapon in its midst, namely Brenda Blethyn. Blethyn is a terrific actress, and here, in the title role, she gets to play an obsessive murder detective. Vera is based on the novels of Ann Cleeves, and in truth, the stories themselves are hardly radical additions to the genre. But they are intriguing ones, and the cases in this maiden series are significantly lifted by Blethyn’s investment in the title character. Vera, inevitably, doesn’t have life very easy. And working in tandem with Sergeant Joe Ashworth, she battles not only the crime in front of her, but the challenges in her own life. Boasting good quality production values, a strong cast, and cases that hold the attention, Vera is a fine piece of television drama. But the main reason to watch it? That’d be its exceptional leading lady. Just watching Blethyn take on such a meaty role is worth the time and financial investment in itself…’ (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageRomantics anonymous.
“Jean-Rene is the boss of a chocolate factory and Angelique is a talented chocolate maker. They are both emotionally challenged people. Drawn together through a shared passion for chocolate, Jean-Rene and Angelique fall in love, but neither is able to express how they feel. Sadly, their crippling shyness is driving them apart. But eventually, they manage to overcome their lack of self-confidence, and risk baring their true feelings.” (Syndetics Summary)

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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 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 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 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 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)

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Popular Music

Our picks of the new music books this month are full of biographies – Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, Rihanna, Henry Mancini… We were also intrigued by The chitlin’ circuit and the road to rock ‘n’ roll, which gives great insight into 20th-century American pop music and is a must read. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverThe man who sold the world : David Bowie and the 1970s / Peter Doggett.
“Taking for his unabashed model Revolution in the Head, the late Ian MacDonald’s seminal work on the Beatles, Doggett’s meticulous song-by-song analysis of David Bowie’s “long decade” (1969-1980) is a captivating look at an artist who defined an era. Best read while listening to the Bowie songs in question – for appropriate ambience and because Doggett’s analysis gets technical when dissecting the chord structure of favorites such as “Changes” – Doggett’s nontraditional rock biography traces Bowie’s early life and career through the 1980 release of his Scary Monsters LP” (Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverMercury : an intimate biography of Freddie Mercury / Lesley-Ann Jones.Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury
“As lead singer of the band Queen, Freddy Mercury was a pure showman, fusing opera, theater, pop, and rock. Jones presents a candid life story of this rare phenomenon and chronicles Queen’s ascendance to musical superstardom. Though it will appeal to more than just Queen obsessives, Jones’s band history proves to be the ultimate fan’s resource: she thoroughly documents the development of each album’s release, promotion, reviews, and infamous tours-including the background and production of their classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In this exhaustively enjoyable read, Jones combines her own detailed research with the brutal honesty of family and friends, media and music insiders, bandmates and bedmates.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly summary)

Syndetics book coverMick : the wild life and mad genius of Jagger / Christopher Andersen.
“For decades, Mick has jealously guarded his many shocking secrets—until now. As the Rolling Stones mark their 50th anniversary, journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author Christopher Andersen tears the mask from rock’s most complex and enigmatic icon in a no-holds-barred biography as impossible to ignore as Jagger himself. Based on interviews with friends, family members, fellow music legends, and industry insiders—as well as wives and legions of lovers— MICK sheds new light on a man whose very name defines an era” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere comes everybody / James Fearnley.
“October, 1984: Wham!, Culture Club and Status Quo dominate the top ten when The Pogues barrel out from the backstreets of Kings Cross, London, a furious, pioneering mix of punk energy, traditional melodies and the powerfully poetic song-writing of Shane MacGowan. Here, their story is told with beauty, lyricism and great candour by James Fearnley, founding member and accordion player. He brings to life the youthful friendships, the bust-ups, the amazing gigs, the terrible gigs, the fantastic highs and dramatic lows in a hugely compelling, humorous, moving and honest account of life in one of our most treasured and original bands.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRihanna : rebel flower / Chloe Govan. “Here is an in-depth look at the life of one of pop music’s hottest international stars. This book reveals the details of Rihanna’s unhappy childhood, her wild child past that earned her the nickname of Rebel Flower, and how she found it therapeutic after her parents’ troubled marriage to join the army. A fascinating story of her transformation from schoolgirl Robyn Fenty to one of the most successful R&B artists in the world. Explores her turbulent relationship with singer Chris Brown which resulted in a photograph of her battered face making headlines around the globe. Features exclusive interviews with Rihanna’s old schoolfriends, producers, songwriters, video directors, journalists and many more who witnessed her transformation over the years. A must-read for fans new and old.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverCosmic dancer : the life and music of Marc Bolan / Paul Roland.
“Marc Bolan was the biggest pop star in post-Beatles Britain and in 1972 the Beatles acknowledged Bolan and his group T.Rex as their natural successor. His singles outsold the combined sales of Jimi Hendrix and The Who. But just when Bolan was at the summit of his success it all went sour. This is the incredible story of Marc Bolan’s rollercoaster rise to fame and his resurrection as the selfstyled ‘Godfather of Punk’ that promised to put him back on top until the fatal accident in 1977 which cut short his life and hopes of a comeback – an accident mysteriously accurately predicted by Bolan himself.” (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverHenry Mancini : reinventing film music / John Caps.
“Henry Mancini (1924-94) brought film music from the background of the cinema to the foreground of popular culture. The music from the television series Peter Gunn and films including The Pink Panther and Hatari! became popular hits and permanent fixtures in the cultural Zeitgeist. Here, Caps, who hosted NPR’s The Cinema Soundtrack, tells the story of Mancini’s artistic development from big band arranger to Hollywood film score hit maker and beyond. Caps presents in-depth analysis of virtually each one of his scores. This critical biography will satisfy musically experienced readers as well as laypeople. It deserves a place in every film and popular music collection.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe chitlin’ circuit and the road to rock ‘n’ roll / Preston Lauterbach.
“Music journalist Lauterbach has written the definitive history of the musical back roads and back rooms of the southern United States, dubbed the Chitlin’ Circuit. From the 1920s through the 1960s, black musicians and their promoters used the clubs of the South to spread their music and eventually to sell records. Artists such as Walter Barnes, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Little Richard, and Al Green all worked the circuit in their time, bringing on the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll. A great read, well written and insightful. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the seedy history of American popular music.” (adapted from Library Journal summary)

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Classical Music

Cover ImageA lesson in love. (CD)
“English lyric soprano Kate Royal devised this stunning collection, which charts the journey of a young girl’s relationship: from the first kiss and thrill of a blossoming love and initial intimacy through to the joy of a love fulfilled, to the disappointment and anger when the relationship breaks down, and ends with the girl’s acceptance and a cheeky sense of optimism about what her future love life might hold. The result is a unique song cycle – a thematic journey through the highs and lows of love, of young naivety lost and emotional maturity gained. Royal leads us through her own personal choice of song, where her innate sense of drama and her passion for musical storytelling brings a fresh and youthful interpretation of the disc repertoire. A Lesson in Love contains a mixture of well-known songs as well as some surprising rarities, with a range of song styles and languages to appeal to a broad audience.” (adapted from amazon.com product description)

Cover imageSinfonie Nr. 1, c-Moll, Urfassung 1865/66 (Linzer Fassung) / Anton Bruckner. (CD)
“With Bruckner’s first four symphonies, Simone Young follows in the footsteps of Georg Tintner in trusting the original text. She has already recorded Sym. 2-4, so this new Sym. #1 completes the mission. In all these early symphonies Young has done well. She has a natural feeling for Bruckner’s long line and doesn’t lapse into episodic music-making even when the work itself tends to be disjointed. Young is so light and fresh in her approach to this formative work, which straddles the worlds of Schubert and mature Bruckner, that even when you recognize the primitive nature of the development sections, listening is pleasurable” (amazon.com review)

Cover imageBachCage (CD)
“A young musician and composer causing a stir, not only on the club scene, but also in classical concert venues is probably a world-first. Tristano’s idiosyncratic and very personal handling of his musical pioneers, Bach and Cage. Perhaps Tristano is one of the first representatives of a new generation of musicians who no longer belong to a specific school. This generation also takes advantage of the fact that practically the whole repertoire of all music ever recorded is available on the Internet. The most diverse kinds of music stand alongside each other, taken out of their typical context and available in some would say, a more democratic form. Tristano makes use of this, stamping his mark on the world of music and providing a fresh and unique sound, unlike anything that has been heard before.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Cover ImageIbérica (CD)
“The highly acclaimed French cellist Anne Gastinel collaborates with virtuoso Argentine guitarist Pablo Márquez in a delightful release exploring the passion and soul of Spanish music. The follow up to her successful Schubert Sonatas and Bach Suites albums sees Gastinel select the pieces and arrange them for cello. The recording includes Spanish Classical music standards by Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla and Gaspar Cassadó. Anne Gastinel records exclusively for Naïve, each new release is hailed by the international press and showered with awards. Achievements include: French Classical Music Awards ‘Most Promising Young Talent 94′ and ‘Best Recording of the Year’; ‘Fnac’ Prize 1995 and 2000; Prix de l’Académie du Disque; RTL Classique d’Or 1996 and 1998; the “Choc” du Monde de la Musique, Télérama (1998, 2000, 2001, and 2002). Pablo Márquez’s recordings for ECM New Series and Kairos have received numerous awards, including the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Acedémie Charles Cros, the Amadeus Prize. Personnel: Anne Gastinel (cello), Pablo Márquez (guitar)” (amazon.co.uk description)

New Zealand organ music (CD)
“This groundbreaking recording features organ music by some of New Zealand’s most talented composers recorded on a variety of significant instruments around Wellington, performed by Richard Apperley, Assistant Director of Music at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Apperley says ‘this disc is largely a response to the devastating effect of the Christchurch earthquakes on so many churches and organs in the city. Whilst we can do little to protect the organs of Wellington should we experience a similar tragedy, it seems prudent to make a permanent audio recording of some of our finest instruments. The music of New Zealand composers has long been a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled to be able present a disc of this nature.’ The organs include those at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St Peter’s Willis Street, St James’ Presbyterian Newtown, St Paul’s Lutheran Church and the National War Memorial. Of particular significance is the Norman and Beard instrument at St James’ Presbyterian church – the building is due to be demolished later this year due to earthquake risk.” (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Hikoi / Nunns & Dyne. Journey / Nunns, Dyke, Lisik. (CD)
“Two gorgeously textured and sonically stunning works featuring some of New Zealand’s finest jazz musicians and ethnomusicologists. The first work, Hikoi, is a group of improvised dialogues between Richard Nunns playing taonga puoro and Paul Dyne, head of jazz at Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music, on bass. The second work, Journey, which is based upon Hikoi’s improvisations and composed by Dave Lisik, is a work for taonga puoro, bass, piano, tenor sax and electronics. ” (adapted from CD liner notes)

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People and Places Newsletter for October

Welcome to our picks for October’s People & Places. Highlights this month include: a ‘Birdseye’ view of the origins of refrigeration; the enigma that was Alan Turing; a comic look at the underwhelming attractions of the British Isles and a book set to ruin our ability to poke fun at Australia’s criminal past.

Biography

Anyone who has reached into the frosty recesses of the freezer to put her paw on on a packet of frozen peas or a ready-made meal should throw up a prayer of thanksgiving to Clarence Birdseye. This humble fur-trapper working in the wilds of Northern Canada in the early part of the twentieth century invented the freezing process still associated with his name. This was not his only innovation, nor his only field of interest – he was also a noted explorer. He is described in the publisher’s notes as “a tinkerer in the classic Yankee mode,” and “one of a group of men who relied on native intelligence more than education and who’s principal laboratories were garages and basements”. His biography is a most interesting and unusual read.
Also featured in this month’s picks are more marvellous women, including Marie Curie and her daughters and Helena Rubinstein. Happy reading !!

Syndetics book coverBefore I forget / Jacqueline Fahey.
“Jacqueline Fahey brought the curtain down at the end of her first memoir, Something for the Birds, after her marriage to Fraser McDonald. In Before I Forget she continues the story from this happy-ever-after moment, charting her life since 1960.”(Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverMarie Curie and her daughters : the private lives of science’s first family / Shelley Emling.
“Freelance writer Emling (The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World) tells the story of science icon Marie Sklodowska Curie, a name familiar to most readers from elementary school days. The only person to have received Nobel prizes in two different sciences, Curie remains a hero to many. Emling writes here of Curie’s later years and of her relationships with her daughters, topics not previously as well documented as the flashier (not to mention more radioactive) aspects of her life and scientific research. Curie’s trips to the United States and her relationship with magazine editor and socialite Missy Meloney, who started a fund to buy radium for Curie, are covered here in both personal and professional terms. Emling presents a Curie defined not only by her scientific activities but also by her personality and by her relationships with family and friends after she gained international recognition. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in the history of Western science, scientific biographies, and women in science, as well as those who regard Marie Curie as a hero”.-Eric D. Albright, Tufts Univ. Lib., MA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library

Syndetics book coverBirdseye : the adventures of a curious man / Mark Kurlansky.
“Although frozen foods made Birds Eye a household name, few were familiar with Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956), developer of the fast-freezing process that became a multibillion-dollar international industry. In the first biography of the eccentric Brooklyn-born inventor, award-winning food author Kurlansky (’Cod’ and ‘Salt”) brings Birdseye to life as he outlines the twists and turns of his unusual career. In a 1945 interview Birdseye stated that G.A. Henty’s 1891 novel Redskin and Cowboy “first influenced him to live the outdoor life.” Yearning for adventure, he dropped out of Amherst College in 1908 and worked in the southwest as a U.S. Biological Survey naturalist, collected ticks in Montana to research Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and became interested in food preservation in the frozen wilderness of Labrador”. Agent, Charlotte Sheedy. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverAlan Turing : the enigma / Andrew Hodges. Alan Turing: The Enigma
“It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades–all before his suicide at age forty-one. This classic biography of the founder of computer science, reissued on the centenary of his birth with a substantial new preface by the author, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. A gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution, Andrew Hodges’s acclaimed book captures both the inner and outer drama of Turing’s life.”(Abridged summary from www.globabooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverThe kings’ mistresses : the liberated lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and her sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin / Elizabeth C. Goldsmith.
“This title presents the adventures of two, privileged sisters raised in the court of the French King Louis XIV, who fled their husbands and children to travel throughout Europe, gaining notoriety for their escapades as gamblers, cross-dressers, mistresses to various kings, and pioneering women writers. Elizabeth Goldsmith has written a vibrant biography of two pioneering free spirits, feminists long before the term existed, who refused to be constrained by the morals, mores, and hypocrisies of their age.” (Abridged summary from Amazon.co.uk).

Syndetics book coverDiaries / George Orwell ; edited by Peter Davison ; introduction by Christopher Hitchens.
“Collecting a dozen of Orwell’s personal diaries from the Depression until his final days, this selection offers a glimpse of the great writer observing the world around him. Early entries include accounts of Orwell’s immersive investigations into the hardscrabble routines of coal miners, hop-pickers, and the working poor, and later entries chronicle the first years of WWII. But the majority of his observations and, one senses, the rhythms of his days involve notes and tabulations of more quotidian activities of the agricultural sort: planting crops, milking goats, watching the weather, and, perhaps most significant, counting his hens’ eggs. Although it’s perhaps tempting to probe such material for a new perspective, its real merit may be in allowing readers a close and factual (if only rarely emotionally intimate) view of Orwell’s life, mostly free of biographical narration. As Christopher Hitchens notes in his introduction, Orwell’s determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, however minor, is on constant display throughout. Thickly annotated, this selection will be appreciated by historical researchers as well as curious browsers”.–Driscoll, Brendan Copyright

Syndetics book coverHelena Rubinstein : the woman who invented beauty / Michèle Fitoussi.
“Helena Rubinstein was an extraordinary pioneering woman who gave her name to a cosmetics empire and revolutionised modern beauty. She understood women. She understood beauty. And she started a revolution. Helena Rubinstein was born into a poor Polish family at the end of the nineteenth century; by the time of her death in 1965 she had built a cosmetics empire that spanned the world. When Rubinstein opened her first salon in Melbourne, her scientific approach to beauty was an instant sensation. Women just couldn’t get enough of her innovative advice on skincare, and her beauty products were constantly sold out. Having conquered Australia, Rubinstein went on to open salons in Europe and America, at a time when women were barely seen in business, let alone running their own multinational companies. For this visionary entrepreneur lived and breathed her work and nobody – lover, husband or child – was allowed to get in the way of business success. Helena Rubinstein was a total original, and her legacy can still be seen today in the methods used to market and manufacture cosmetics. This is her amazing life story”.(Summary from Amazon.co.uk).

Syndetics book coverDear Lupin– / Charlie and Roger Mortimer.
“Roger Mortimer’s generous letters to his son are packed with anecdotes and sharp observations, with a unique analogy for each and every scrape Charlie Mortimer got himself into. This title includes 150 letters written to his son as he left school, and lived in places such as South America, Africa, Weston-super-Mare and eventually London.These letters form a memoir of their relationship, and an affectionate portrait of a time gone by.” (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com.)

Syndetics book coverParis : a love story : a memoir / Kati Marton.
“Saturated with sadness, regret, and Hemingway, Marton’s (Wallenberg: The Incredible True Story) memoir of widowhood after the death of husband Richard Holbrooke recalls how Paris offered her the peace and salve she needed to assuage a broken heart. A refugee from Hungary with her family in 1957, Paris was where Marton attended university during the tumultuous late 1960s; as a foreign correspondent with ABC News in the 1970s, the city served as a base for her work, and was also where she and anchorman Peter Jennings conducted their love affair before marrying in 1979. Fleeing that marriage in 1993 after two children (Jennings is described as cold and manipulative), Marton found a warm, willing relationship with Holbrooke, then U.S. ambassador to Germany, with Paris as the meeting place in their busy lives.” Agent, Amanda Urban. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved(Publisher Weekly)

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Travel stories & guides

From Secret Milan to the Indian Coast and ‘Flamenco’ Spain, these new travel books will guide you around the world and back again to New Zealand.

Syndetics book coverHave mother, will travel : a mother and daughter discover themselves, each other, and the world / Claire and Mia Fontaine.
“Told in alternating voices, a travelogue capturing the changing relationship between a mother and her adult daughter follows their sixteen-city, twelve-country tour during which their adventures and mishaps brought them closer together.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSecret Milan / Massimo Polidoro.
“Discover a canal lock designed by Leonardo da Vinci as well as the secrets of his Last Supper, find out where Mussolini’s hidden bunker lies, marry beneath frescoes by Tiepolo, visit artists’ houses usually closed to the public, see exceptional private collections, admire the sculpture of a young girl shaving her pudenda, look for the boxers carved on the roof terraces of the cathedral… An indispensable guide for those wishing to discover another facet of the city.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverWalking home : travels with a troubadour on the Pennine Way / Simon Armitage.
“In summer 2010 Simon Armitage decided to walk the Pennine Way. The challenging 256-mile route is usually approached from south to north, from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm, the other side of the Scottish border. He resolved to tackle it the other way round: through beautiful and bleak terrain, across lonely fells and into the howling wind, he would be walking home, towards theYorkshire village where he was born. Travelling as a ‘modern troubadour’ without a penny in his pocket, he stopped along the way to give poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms… It’s a story about Britain’s remote and overlooked interior – the wildness of its landscape and the generosity of the locals who sustained him on his journey. It’s about facing emotional and physical challenges, and sometimes overcoming them. … Contemplative, moving and droll, it is a unique narrative from one of our most beloved writers.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOnly in Spain / Nellie Bennett.
“A sparky, witty and thoroughly enjoyable memoir of a girl who fell in love with flamenco dance and with Spain. A foot-stamping, full-on firecracker of a travel memoir, crackling with energy, dance, gypsies, love, food and the occasional donkey. Nellie Bennett fell in love with flamenco one hot summer day in a Sydney dance studio. Longing to get closer to the authentic experience, she packed her suede dance shoes and a set of castanets and travelled to the other side of the world, to Seville, to learn flamenco. What she didn’t realise is that flamenco is not a dance, it’s a way of life. In Spain, she fell in love three times – the first time with a smokey-eyed flamenco dance teacher, the second time, with a wild and tempestuous gypsy; and the third with a tall, dark handsome Basque chef – not realising that, all along, it’s really Spain she’s fallen in love with. A witty, passionate story of romance and discovery.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHong Konged : one modern American family’s (mis)adventures in the gateway to China / Paul Hanstedt.
“In this alternately hilarious and heartrending memoir, acclaimed writer and editor Paul Hanstedt recounts the true story of his family’s recent sojourn to Hong Kong. Hanstedt and his wife and three children–aged 9, 6, and 3–lived in Hong Kong for a year, a year beset by culture clash, vicious bullies, hospital visits, M&Ms, and the worst traffic jam you’ve ever seen.
Through the eyes of the earnest if sometimes clueless Hanstedt family, you’ll discover a world you’ve never known before. But in the end,Hong Kongedis about place and family and what it is that makes us human–no matter who we are or where we live.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverFollowing fish : travels around the Indian coast / Samanth Subramanian.
“In a coastline as long and diverse as India’s, fish inhabit the heart of many worlds – food of course, but also culture, commerce, sport, history and society. Journeying along the edges of the peninsula, Samanth Subramanian delivers a kaleidoscope of extraordinary stories…. Pulsating with pleasure, adventure and discovery, and tempered by nostalgia and loss, “Following Fish” reveals a series of unknown Indias in a book as revealing of the subcontinent as any three times its length.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverCrap days out / Gareth Rubin ; with contributions by Jon Parker.
“From Land’s End to John O’Groats, this Sceptred Isle is riddled with what are laughably referred to as ‘attractions’. Rubbish tourism is a proud British tradition, and from Stonehenge to Madam Tussaud’s, Shakespeare’s birthplace to the Harry Potter Tour, and model villages to a museum dedicated to pencils, Crap Days Out is the quintessential collection of places that will ruin a perfectly good bank holiday.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverBonjour! Is this Italy? : a hapless biker’s guide to Europe / Kevin Turner.
Bonjour – Is This Italy? offers a unique and often hilarious insight into the challenges and excitement afforded by a lone motorcycle journey though Europe. In his quest to escape the frantic nature of London life, Kevin Turner heads south across France, crossing the Alps into Italy, and onto Rome, before returning via Germany – and the treacherous Nürburgring. Throughout, the author provides valuable advice to those considering a similar journey, noting the best and most scenic routes, where to stay, and what to see. This is interspersed with a raft of comic anecdotes that demonstrate exactly what NOT to do when lost on a motorbike in Europe.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe oldest post office in the world : and other Scottish oddities / Hamish Brown.
“Scotland has been called a small country with a big story and among its varied riches must be the extraordinary number of surprising, curious, unexpected, odd places that occur from Muckle Flugga to the Mull of Galloway. Nobody knows its length and breadth better than author, lecturer and photographer Hamish Brown and from his decades of wandering he has stitched together this – first -collection of sites and sights to intrigue visitors.” – (adapted from Book jacket summary)

Syndetics book coverThe old ways : a journey on foot / Robert Macfarlane.
“In The Old Ways Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes criss-crossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, and of songlines and their singers. Above all this is a book about people and place: about walking as a reconnoitre inwards, and the subtle ways in which we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAntarctica : a biography / David Day.
“Antarctica: A Biography draws upon libraries and archives from around the world to provide the first, large-scale history of Antarctica. On one level, it is the story of explorers battling the elements in the most hostile place on earth as they strive for personal triumph, commercial gain and national glory. On a deeper level, it is the story of nations seeking to incorporate the Antarctic into their national narratives and to claim its frozen wastes as their own.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChronicles of Old London : exploring England’s historic capital / [Kevin Jackson].
“Another in Museyon’s “Chronicles” series (Chronicles of Old New York), in this book London writer Jackson provides 30 stories of the city, starting with Boudicca’s revolt around 60 C.E. and ending with Prince William’s marriage in the present day. …. In addition to the historical sketches, the volume presents nine walking tours with maps, photographs, and descriptions of sights along the way. …The numerous detailed neighborhood maps in the walking tours section will be especially useful. Verdict: A helpful and pleasant read for travelers looking for historical background and a few walking tours for a London trip. Interesting and fun to read, the book mixes light history with contemporary details.” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)

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History

We have some great new history books this month: 150-year-old letters by a young German settler give exciting look at Wellington’s past; the “sexy” lives of the Tudors; American Empire looks at the United States in the last half of the 20th century; and more. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverAn indescribable beauty : letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand, 1859 & 1862 / Friedrich August Krull.
“The translated letters of Friedrich Krull from Wellington back home to Germany in 1859, at the behest of German naturalist and historian Ernst Boll. Krull details people, landscapes and birds of early Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti and surrounds. Included are reports on meetings with Te Rauparaha’s son and nephew as well as other prominent Māori leaders. The book is illustrated with paintings and photographs from the time”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverIn bed with the Tudors : the sex lives of a dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I / Amy Licence.
“Illegitimate children, adulterous queens, impotent kings, and a whole dynasty resting on their shoulders. Sex and childbirth were quite literally a matter of life or death for the Tudors – Elizabeth of York died in childbirth, two of Henry VIII’s queens were beheaded for infidelity, and Elizabeth I’s elective virginity signalled the demise of a dynasty. Amy Licence guides the reader through the births of Elizabeth of York’s two sons, Arthur and Henry, Catherine of Aragon’s subsequent marriages to both of these men, Henry VIII’s other five wives and his mistresses, and the sex lives of his daughters. This book details the experiences of all these women, from fertility, conception and pregnancy through to the delivery chamber, on to maternal and infant mortality. Each woman’s story is a blend of specific personal circumstances, set against their historical moment. For some the joys were brief, for others it was a question that ultimately determined their fates”–Cover.

Syndetics book coverThe Queen’s agent : Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I / John Cooper.
Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth’s Secretary, Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her. He ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots. He recruited likely young men and ‘turned’ others. He encouraged Elizabeth to make war against the Catholic Irish rebels, with extreme brutality and oversaw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.The Queen’s Agent is a story of secret agents, cryptic codes and ingenious plots, set in a turbulent period of England’s history. It is also the story of a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the threatened English state. (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe road not taken : how Britain narrowly missed a revolution / Frank McLynn.
Britain has not been successfully invaded since 1066; nor, in nearly 1,000 years, has it known a true revolution – one that brings radical, systemic and enduring change. The contrast with her European neighbours – with France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece and Russia – is dramatic. All have been convulsed by external warfare, revolution and civil war – all have experienced fundamental change to their ruling elites or their social and economic structures. In “The Road Not Taken” Frank McLynn investigates the seven occasions when England came closest to revolution: the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, the Jack Cade rising of 1450, the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, the English Civil War of the 1640s, the Jacobite Rising of 1745-6, the Chartist Movement of 1838-48 and the General Strike of 1926. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican empire : the rise of a global power, the democratic revolution at home, 1945-2000 / Joshua B. Freeman.
“Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center history professor Freeman examines a postwar dominant America, and it couldn’t come at a better moment, when its citizens are rethinking its global influence. Covering the glory years of 1945-2000, Freeman is at his best when he turns his critical eye on America’s turbulent internal affairs, delving into Truman’s contested Fair Deal reforms, the McCarthy communist witch-hunts, Eisenhower’s cautious civil rights record, LBJ’s ambitious Great Society programs, Nixon’s Watergate disgrace, the return of “corporate capitalism” and Reagan conservatism. Freeman deals with the Clinton administration’s economic policies, which, he says, gave many Americans a higher standard of living, and global conflicts, followed by the Republican victory in 2000. Though at its peak, America’s power exceeded that of the Roman and British empires in cultural, economic, military, and political terms, the nation’s postwar dreams were never completely fulfilled, says Freeman. “And the 21st century’s “prolonged warfare, fearfulness, and economic troubles… owe more than a little to decisions made in the earlier epoch.” Freeman’s epic survey provides a fuller understanding of America’s postwar achievements and challenges, without the bias, drama, or despair of other books on these important issues. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe kissing sailor : the mystery behind the photo that ended World War II / Lawrence Verria & George Galdorisi ; foreword by David Hartman.
“It’s an iconic image, a sailor kissing a nurse in New York City’s Times Square. Photographed on August 14, 1945, by legendary photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in Life, it captures a historic moment, the end of WWII. It’s a safe bet that most of the book’s potential readers have seen the photograph, but who are the people in it? That’s the mystery Verria and Galdorisi attempt to solve in this fascinating piece of detective work. Over the years, there have been numerous theories, and numerous people have come forward saying they are the sailor or the nurse. Verria and Galdorisi offer what they hope is undeniable proof of the unnamed couple’s true identities. They make a persuasive case, assessing the validity of some of the claimants’ stories, using various investigative techniques, including some very clever photographic comparisons, to zoom in on two specific persons who seem to fit the bill. Ultimately, you either accept the authors’ conclusions or you don’t, but you can’t deny that the book provides an intriguing and unique perspective on one of the twentieth century’s most memorable moments.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverConvicts : New Zealand’s hidden criminal past / Matthew Wright.
“New Zealand’s Pakeha origin as a bolt-hole for convicts escaping Australia, a place where former convicts joined whaling and sealing gangs, and where sea captains thumbed their noses at the law, has been quietly forgotten. It has become a hidden part of our past, buried under the convenient fiction that the Treaty of Waitangi is the sole pivot of New Zealand’s colonial story. In Convicts: New Zealand’s Hidden Criminal Past, noted historian Matthew Wright challenges that notion. Our early nineteenth-century Pakeha past is, at least in part, a story of convicts who had found their way past the edge of the law, an age of heroic tales of survival, scurrilous deeds, cannibalism and piracy.Matthew Wright is one of New Zealand’s most published historians and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of University College, London. ‘Matthew Wright is one of our most prolific social historians, an assiduous researcher and an engaging writer.’” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverShooting Victoria : madness, mayhem, and the rebirth of the British monarchy / Paul Thomas Murphy.
“Queen Victoria’s stature not only attracted throngs of admirers but also seven unstable and incompetent failed assassins, whose attempts led to the creation of England’s detective branch and engendered bursts of popularity for the queen. A Victoriana expert at the University of Colorado, Murphy recounts in a fresh, lively narrative how these deluded subjects managed to channel their mental instability or optimistic naivete into assassination attempts with barely functioning pistols or stout canes, all remaining far removed from the more sophisticated and politically motivated revolutionaries threatening other contemporary European thrones. Instead, they included a depressed hunchback and two poets suffering from head injuries who, rather than gaining notoriety, sank back into obscurity. Murphy deftly weaves their life stories in with the reactions of Victoria and Albert and other notables as the government struggled to define a policy for punishing assassins…” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly summary)

Syndetics book coverMexico : democracy interrupted / Jo Tuckman.
“In 2000, Mexico’s long invincible Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost the presidential election to Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN). The ensuing changeoverafter 71 years of PRI dominancewas hailed as the beginning of a new era of hope for Mexico. Yet the promises of the PAN victory were not consolidated. In this vivid account of Mexico’s recent history, a journalist with extensive reporting experience investigates the nation’s young democracy, its shortcomings and achievements, and why the PRI is favored to retake the presidency in 2012. Jo Tuckman reports on the murky, terrifying world of Mexico’s drug wars, the counterproductive government strategy, and the impact of U.S. policies. She describes the reluctance and inability of politicians to seriously tackle rampant corruption, environmental degradation, pervasive poverty, and acute inequality. To make matters worse, the influence of non-elected interest groups has grown and public trust in almost all institutionsincluding the Catholic churchis fading. The pressure valve once presented by emigration is also closing. Even so, there are positive signs: the critical media cannot be easily controlled, and small but determined citizen groups notch up significant, if partial, victories for accountability. While Mexico faces complex challenges that can often seem insurmountable, Tuckman concludes, the unflagging vitality and imagination of many in Mexico inspire hope for a better future.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe daring dozen : 12 Special Forces legends of World War II / Gavin Mortimer.
“In this new book by journalist Gavin Mortimer, The Daring Dozen reveals the 12 legendary special forces commanders of World War II. Prior to World War II the concept of ’special forces’ simply didn’t exist. But thanks to visionary leaders like David Stirling and Charles Hunter, our very concept of how wars can be fought and won have totally changed. But these 12 extraordinary men not only reshaped military policy, they led from the front, accompanying their troops into the heat of battle, from the sands of North Africa to jumping on D-Day and infiltrating behind enemy lines. Each embodies the true essence of courage, what Winston Churchill remarked ‘is esteemed [as] the first of human qualities.’ But Mortimer also offers a skilful analysis of their qualities as a military commander and the true impact their own personal actions, as well as those of their units, had on the eventual outcome of the war.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverTitans of history / Simon Sebag Montefiore ; with John Bew … [et al.].
“In The Titans of History, Simon Sebag Montefiore brings together a vivid and compelling selection of the lives of the towering figures that, for better of for worse, have changed the course of history. The 14th-century Mongol warlord Tamerlane, who once ordered the building of a pyramid of 70,000 human skulls from those that his army had beheaded, rubs shoulders with Oskar Schindler, the man whose selfless heroism saved over 1,000 Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis. Inbetween these two extremes are those extraordinary figures, like Henry VIII, in whom good and evil were mixed promiscuously. Inspiring and horrifying in equal measure, in The Titans of History, Simon Sebag Montefiore has created an engaging, innovative and authoritative window into the history of the world.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverWhere they stand : the American presidents in the eyes of voters and historians / Robert W. Merry.
“The rating of American presidents is a popular fascination for scholars and citizens alike. Merry believes that professionals’ opinions are, however, sometimes out of sync with those of the people and, specifically, the electorate that installed or repudiated a president. Therefore, he accords the vox populi weight equal to the verdicts of seven polls of historians conducted over past decades. The professors and the voters exhibit no differences over who were the best presidents Washington, Lincoln, and FDR but they diverge over nominees for the near-great category; electorates liked Jackson and Reagan, but historians have been critical. Likewise, the dons praise Wilson and Truman, whereas the people voted their parties out of power. To bridge such discrepancies, Merry combines fluid commentary on what impresses historians and application of his rule for the populace’s standard of approval, rewarding an incumbent with a second term and succession by his party’s nominee. Anything less plunges a president down the scale to average or failure, with near-great Polk as a conspicuous exception. This election-year debate-starter will enjoy shelf life beyond November.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

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New Zealand

New to the New Zealand Collection this month you can read some interesting facts about New Zealand in “60 Million Gingernuts, a book of New Zealand records”. “All the Commissioner’s Men” is another look into the New Zealand high profile murder inquiry into the Crewe murders.

Syndetics book cover60 million gingernuts : a book of New Zealand records / Peter Janssen.
This book gathers together New Zealand’s most amazing, inspiring and bizarre records. With chapters on nature, history, people, manmade wonders, popular culture, sport, eating and drinking, this extensive book will captivate both young and old, Kiwi and tourist, from quiz teams to high school students. Did you know: New Zealand’s highest bridge is on the railway line from Napier to Gisborne. The bridge crosses the Mohaka River 97 metres above the water; Auckland s Pasifika festival is the country s largest festival with over 200,000 people attending. It is also the largest Pacific festival in the world; New Zealand s most popular biscuit is the Gingernut with Griffin s Gingernuts selling nearly 3 million packets every year. Toffee Pop Originals (2,394,000 packets) and Superwine (2,393,000 packets) are neck and neck for second and third place; New Zealand s coldest temperature was recorded at Ranfurly on 17 July 1903, the thermometer plummeted to a record -25 degrees. The lowest North Island temperature is -13.6 recorded at the Chateau Tongariro. The coldest temperature recorded in the world was -89.6 at Vostok Station in Antarctica in 1983. There are many, many more fascinating records inside this addictive book.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll the commissioner’s men / Chris Birt. The killing of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe at Pukekawa, South Auckland, is indelibly burnt into the memory of anyone resident in New Zealand at that time. Most Kiwis know that an innocent man was arrested and spent almost 10 years in prison for two murders he did not commit The story of Arthur Thomas has been well told. The subsequent condemnation by a Royal Commission of Inquiry of two former detectives is also well documented. What has never been disclosed however is the extent of the malpractice which occurred in that double homicide inquiry. Not even the Thomas Royal Commission got to examine that, for reasons All The Commissioner’s Men explains in great depth. Written by veteran journalist, researcher and author Chris Birt (The Final Chapter – third NZ best seller for three weeks in 2001) this new book reveals, for the first time ever, that more than two detectives were involved n this corrupt investigation, and that key players in that nasty game suppressed crucial witness statements, any one of which would have proved categorically that Arthur Thomas was not the murderer. (Syndetics summary)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for October

October’s Music & Movies leads with the first series of the excellent Homeland – a tense, political thriller of shifting allegiances and morally ambiguous characters, testing conventional notions of patriotism. The second season is currently showing on TV3, so it could be time for a marathon catch-up session. Luckily we’ve extended our box-set loan period, so you’ll have time for the washing too.

For the best of the rest on DVD, book and CD – scroll on.

DVDs

Some new DVDs to hit our shelves include the latest season of the Private Eye send-up ‘Bored To Death’; Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter role; Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel, ‘Salmon Fishing in Yemen’; and Joss Whedon’s Marvel super-hero epic

Cover imageHomeland. The complete first season.
“Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA Agent battling her own demons becomes convinced that the intelligence that led to the rescue of Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a US soldier who had been missing and presumed dead for eight years was a set-up, and may be connected to an al-Qaeda plot to be carried out on American soil. Already on thin ice with the CIA, and now assigned to a desk job after an incident in Iraq, Carrie is forced to break protocol in order to prove her theory that Brody was “turned” during his many years in captivity and is now working for al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, Brody receives a hero’s welcome at home, and attempts to reconnect with his family whom he hasn’t seen in eight years…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageBored to death. The complete second season.
“Bored to Death fuses the anxieties of literary life with a pastiche of detective stories in eight tidy episodes. Floundering writer Jonathan Ames (played by Jason Schwartzman and named after series creator and main writer Jonathan Ames) now not only has his sideline as an unlicensed private detective, but also starts teaching a creative writing class (and starts flirting with one of his students). His best friend, frustrated cartoonist Ray (Zach Galifianakis), has a burst of self-esteem when his self-published comic book (about a well-endowed superhero named after himself) grows bizarrely popular, leading him to think he might be able to get back together with his ex (Heather Burns, Miss Congeniality). But this season really takes off when Jonathan’s mentor, magazine editor George (Ted Danson), gets diagnosed with prostate cancer. Somehow, this heavy topic gives the show just the hint of gravity it needs to maintain its balance, and gives Danson the opportunity to take his marvelous portrait of pot-smoking self-absorption in new and delightful directions..” (From Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe Fades. Series one.
“A teenage boy named Paul is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that nobody can explain. As if that weren’t terrifying enough, he begins to see spirits of the dead, known as The Fades, all around him. The Fades can’t be seen, smelt, heard or touched by other humans. When an embittered and vengeful Fade, Polus, finds a way to be human again, it’s up to Paul to stop him – and all of the dead – from breaking back into the world and destroying the human race…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSalmon fishing in The Yemen.
“Lasse Hallström’s breezy adaptation of Paul Torday’s satiric novel, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, features dedicated anglers and arid Middle Eastern vistas, but it’s a screwball comedy at heart (with Morocco standing in for Yemen). Bridget (Kristin Scott Thomas), the prime minister’s steamroller of a press secretary, sets the story in motion when she reads about a fabulously wealthy sheik (Amr Waked) who longs to bring fly-fishing to the desert. She believes that cooperation with his country would be good for Britain’s image, while the sheik has more altruistic goals in mind. This leads her to mild-mannered fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor, effectively cast against type), who feels certain the endeavor is pure fantasy until hyper-efficient Harriet (Emily Blunt), the sheik’s land agent, brings him some surprising data about the region. Though Fred’s marriage has been running on fumes, Harriet has been seeing a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Initially, the two are all business as they devise a plan involving a system of dams, but their feelings for each other gradually rise to the surface…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe best exotic Marigold Hotel.
“Some of the finest actors in England lend their formidable talents to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a charming fish-out-of-water yarn. The Brits, who include Evelyn (Judi Dench), Muriel (Maggie Smith), Douglas (Bill Nighy), and Graham (Tom Wilkinson), are planning retirement in a less expensive country. After “thorough research on the Internet,” the group chooses what looks to be a grand, peaceful retreat, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It turns out that the bloom is off this marigold–it’s shabby, antiquated, and as chaotic as the city in India, Jaipur, where it is set. Who can adapt to this very different retirement experience, and who founders? That question lies at the heart of the plot of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The cast is uniformly superb, as the retirees bond and bicker and fall out and then try to encourage one another. And Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) shines as Sonny, the barely-holding-it-together Marigold Hotel manager…At its heart, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, deftly directed by John Madden, is an uplifting journey, allowing the viewer to feel what the retirees are discovering on the screen…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe woman in black.
“Fans of classically structured haunted house/ghost stories will relish the skillfully unnerving chain of events in The Woman in Black, whether or not they’re fans of Harry Potter. The good new is that Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry behind for good in his first post-Potter role. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor tasked with resolving the affairs of a recently deceased woman and her brooding estate in the gloom of the remote Victorian England-era village of Crythin Gifford. The mood is melancholic all around, starting with Kipps himself, who lost his wife to childbirth a few years earlier. His employer has had just about enough of his moping about and gives him the assignment as a last resort to save his job. When he arrives in the small village, the icy response he receives does not bode well for successful completion of his mission. All the townspeople want him gone, and possibly for good reason. Many of their children have died mysteriously gruesome deaths that they blame on the titular black-clad woman whose own child was tragically sucked to his death in the muck surrounding her seaside mansion. This new stranger who wants to unearth the deadly secrets trapped in the decrepit old house is a threat they cannot abide, and sure enough the deaths keep on coming as he delves deeper into the dark recesses of the house and the history of its ghostly occupant…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe duel.
“In Anton Chekhov’s The Duel, escalating animosity between two men with opposing philosophies of life is played out against the backdrop of a decaying seaside resort along the Black Sea coast. Laevsky is a dissaipated romantic given to gambling and flirtation. He has run off to the sea with the beautiful, emotionally empty, Nadya, another man’s wife. Laevsky has now grown tired of her, but two obstacles block his route to escape: he is broke, and he faces the absolute enmity of Von Koren, an arrogant zoologist and former friend who can no longer tolerate Laevsky’s irresponsibility. Soon Laevsky confronts Von Koren, accusing him of meddling in his affairs, but Von Koren maneuvers a criticism Lavesky makes of their mutual friend. Dr. Samoylenko, into a challenge to a duel. Utterly discombobulated and honor bound, Lavesky agrees to this absurdity-a duel it shall be! A duel as comically inadvertent as it is inevitable…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageA dangerous method.
“With a lucid analyst’s eye, director David Cronenberg turns his steady gaze toward a trio of brilliant people in the early, and somehow defining, years of the 20th century. In Zurich, a young psychoanalyst named Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes on an intellectually gifted but deeply neurotic young woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), as a patient. Through the course of a lengthy analysis, their relationship takes a turn for intimacy, despite professional policy against such encounters. Meanwhile, Jung is entwined in another important relationship, with psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), whose enthusiasm about Jung being the golden boy of the science will eventually dim. What’s bracing in Cronenberg’s keen reading of this situation, based on Christopher Hampton’s script, is that no aspect of this situation is more important than any other; the sexual tumbling between Jung and Spielrein might provide a few hotsy moments, but the careful lines traced between Freud’s pragmatic wisdom and Jung’s idealistic ventures into the mystic are equally significant…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe avengers.
“Blasphemy? Perhaps. But the best thing about what may be the most rousing and well-crafted superhero movie since The Dark Knight is not the boffo action scenes that culminate in a New York City-destroying finale that rivals Michael Bay’s obliteration of the Chicago skyline in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. No, the real appeal of The Avengers comes from the quiet moments among a group of decidedly unquiet humans, extra-humans, mutants, and demigods. In no particular order those are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), S.H.I.E.L.D. world-government commander Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and indispensable functionary Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). That’s a superstar lineup both in and out of character, and The Avengers brilliantly integrates the cast of ensemble egos into a story that snaps and crackles–not to mention smashes, trashes, and destroys–at breakneck pace, never sacrificing visual dazzle or hard-earned story dynamics…Yet it’s the deeply personal conversations and confrontations among the very reluctant team of Avengers that makes the movie pop. Full of humor, snappy dialogue, and little asides that include inside jokes, eye rolls, and personal grudge matches, the script makes these superhumans real beings with sincere passion or feelings of disillusionment…That spirit of fun and pure adventure makes The Avengers the greatest kind of escapist Hollywood fantasy $250 million can buy. A blockbuster in the most literal sense…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSam Hunt: purple balloon and other stories : a film about Sam Hunt.
For forty years Sam Hunt has been a force in New Zealand poetry and culture. He is a storyteller who has spent his life struggling with his, often very public, demons. In that journey he has gone from outcast to icon, he has crossed paths with outlaws, Prime Ministers, literary and artistic giants and the public. This doucmentary explores how Sam reflects the New Zealand landscape – literary and physical. The film examines what has made him a great poet and an enigma. Sam is undoubtedly our best known poet, by far the best exponent of performance poetry and one of the most recognisable Kiwis alive today. In the words of the later Peter Smart: “Sam Hunt is important to us because he is that extraordinary, rare person – someone who is prepared to illustrate with his life the value of poetry and the making of poems…” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverVertigo / Charles Barr.
“Vertigo (1958) is widely regarded as not only one of Hitchcock’s best films, but one of the greatest films of world cinema. Made at the time when the old studio system was breaking up, it functions both as an embodiment of the supremely seductive visual pleasures that ‘classical Hollywood’ could offer and – with the help of an elaborate plot twist – as a laying bare of their dangerous dark side. Although it can be seen as Hitchcock’s most personal film, Charles Barr argues that, like Citizen Kane, Vertigo is at the same time a triumph not so much of individual authorship as of creative collaboration. He highlights the crucial role of screenwriters Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor and, by a combination of textual and contextual analysis, explores the reasons why Vertigo continues to inspire such fascination.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverCitizen Kane / Laura Mulvey.
“Mulvey provides an accessible account of previous scholarship on the 1941 Orson Welles classic, as well as a psychoanalytic reading of the film that sees Kane as “suspended between a pre-Oedipal love for his mother and rivalry with his father and the post-Oedipal world in which he should take his place.” She explores Welles’s anti-fascist politics in terms of the film’s implicit critique of conservative media magnate William Randolph Hearst. The book concludes with a scene-by-scene analysis of the film’s narrative and dramatic structure.” (adapted from CHOICE summary)

Syndetics book coverMetropolis / Thomas Elsaesser.
“Metropolis is a monumental work. On its release in 1925, after sixteen months’ filming, it was Germany’s most expensive feature film, a canvas for director Fritz Lang’s increasingly extravagant ambitions. Lang, inspired by the skyline of New York, created a whole new vision of cities. One of the greatest works of science fiction, the film also tells human stories about love and family. Thomas Elsaesser explores the cultural phenomenon of Metropolis: its different versions (there is no definitive one), its changing meanings, and its role as a database of twentieth-century imagery and ideologies.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

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Popular Music

Popular music books selection for this month includes three new books on Rolling Stones, Nick Drake’s biography that is available in English for the first time, unique insight of Pacific Islands’ music, and a fantastic collection of Jarvis Cocker’s lyrics. Also, a psychologist’s perspective on how your playlist affects your life is a must read.

Syndetics book coverThe true adventures of the Rolling Stones / Stanley Booth ; introduction by Greil Marcus.
“Sounding like one instrument, a wild whirling bagpipe, the Stones chugged to a halt. But the crowd didn’t stop, we could see Hells Angels spinning like madmen, swinging at people.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Rolling Stones : fifty years / Christopher Sandford.
“This is the definitive story of the most controversial and longest surviving bank in music history.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlood, sweat & beers : Oz rock from the Aztecs to Rose Tattoo / Murray Engleheart.
“It all began in the late 1960s when Lobby Loyde was blowing up amplifiers on such a regular basis that equipment had to be specially constructed. King of the Sunbury festivals, former child star Billy Thorpe then took massive amplification to another level, making history along the way when his band the Aztecs pulled as many as 300,000 people to the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPink moon : a story about Nick Drake / Gorm Henrik Rasmussen ; translated by Bent Sørensen. “Originally written in Danish in 1980, Pink Moon was the first biography of Nick Drake, and remains the only one to include exclusive interviews with the singer’s parents, Rodney and Molly Drake. In this new, significantly updated edition, available in English for the first time, author and poet Gorm Henrik Rasmussen reveals more from his visits to the Drakes in their home Far Leys – the first, just five years after the death of their troubled son. A Story about Nick Drake is a personal, original, and moving retelling of the life, death, and posthumous rise of a poet and guitarist who was strangely unsuited for his own time, and is more popular now than he ever was in life.”(adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverMother, brother, lover : selected lyrics / Jarvis Cocker. “Jarvis Cocker is widely regarded as one of the most original and memorable lyricists and performers of the last three decades. Here, for the first time, is a selection of sixty-six lyrics, presented with commentary and an introduction by the man himself. In this volume, readers (and Pulp fans) will find such classic Jarvis lyrics as “Common People”, “Disco 2000″, “Babies”, “This is Hardcore” and “Do You Remember the First Time?” The selection, assembled by the author, reveals a sensibility that is unmistakably Jarvis: a sometimes visceral, sometimes everyday take on love, relationships and the things we do to each other when the lights get low. It is a beautiful collection of lyrics and commentary.” (adapted from amazon.com sumarry)

Syndetics book coverAdele : the biography / Marc Shapiro.Adele: The Biography
“Over the past year, Adele has taken the country by storm, sweeping the 2012 Grammy Awards and taking home six titles, including one for Album of the Year. The British singer-songwriter has been smashing records ever since her 2008 appearance on Saturday Night Live and her 2009 Grammy for Best New Artist. The success of her second album, 21, made her the first living artist since the Beatles to have two top-five hits in both the UK singles and albums charts. The album hit the #1 spot in 18 different countries. This one-of-a-kind book will provide answers to fans’ burning questions. A must-read for every Adele fan.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverNo regrets : a rock ‘n’ roll memoir / Ace Frehley with Joe Layden & John Ostrosky.No Regrets “Bronx, NY, native Frehley wanted to play guitar for a living, and he got his wish in 1972 when, responding to a Village Voice ad, he met Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley. After a slow start, their band, Kiss, exploded and became a brand that appealed to millions of kids and adults. However, Frehley found rock ‘n’ roll stardom inseparable from sex, drugs, brushes with the law, and near-death experiences. Unhappy with the band’s direction and concerned for his well-being, he quit Kiss in the early 1980s. The following years brought him more close calls, a solo career, and a Kiss reunion (and another breakup). Now five years sober, he continues to record and perform for his loyal fans.”(adapted from Library Journal summary)

Syndetics book coverMusic in Pacific Island cultures : experiencing music, expressing culture / Brian Diettrich, Jane Freeman Moulin, Michael Webb. “The islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are steeped in diverse musical traditions that reach far beyond the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Music in Pacific Island Cultures is the first brief, single-volume text to provide a thematic, succinct introduction to the music of the Pacific Islands–a region of the world that has long been underrepresented in ethnomusicological studies. Based on the authors’ extensive fieldwork and experiences in Pacific Island cultures, the text draws on interviews with performers, eyewitness accounts of performances, vivid illustrations, and insights gained from ongoing participation in Pacific music.” (adapted from Publisher description)

Syndetics book coverYour playlist can change your life : 10 proven ways your favorite music can revolutionize your health, memory, organization, alertness, and more / Galina Mindlin, Don DuRousseau, Joseph Cardillo.Your Playlist Can Change Your Life “This distinctive book comes from the coordinated efforts of Mindlin (psychiatry, Columbia Univ.), Don DuRousseau (executive director, PEAK Neurotraining Solutions), and Joseph Cardillo (Be Like Water: Practical Wisdom from the Martial Arts), who propose that readers can use music to relieve anxiety, increase alertness, feel happier, and sharpen memory. The process involves picking songs you like, taking note of how the songs work, and then using them to create a particular mood or spirit. The authors provide numerous exercises, personal examples, and sample play-lists for specific moods (e.g., getting rid of the blahs, relaxing before tests, and revving up lunch breaks). This title lends a psychologist’s perspective to a common behavior-well worth the purchase.” (adapted from Library Journal summary)

Syndetics book coverMorrissey & Marr : the severed alliance / by Johnny Rogan.
“Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance is among the most successful – and controversial – rock biographies ever published. Having denounced the book and called for the death of its author Johnny Rogan, Morrissey later did a U-turn and cited it as evidence in the royalty-related court case brought by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. Now, 20 years after it was first published, Rogan has returned to his definitive Smiths biography to produce a completely revised edition based on new information and new interviews to add to the almost 100 initially conducted over a four-year period.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

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Classical Music

Syndetics book coverMusic as alchemy / Tom Service.
“An immensely fun and engaging study of the art of orchestral conducting. How are conductors’ silent gestures magicked into sound by a group of more than a hundred brilliant but belligerent musicians? Orchestras can be inspired to the heights of musical and expressive possibility by their maestros, or flabbergasted that someone who doesn’t even make a sound should be elevated to demigod-like status by the public. This is the first book to go inside the rehearsal rooms of some of the most inspirational orchestral partnerships in the world. It’s the first to see how Simon Rattle works with his musicians at the Berlin Philharmonic, how Mariss Jansons deals with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and how Claudio Abbado creates the world’s most luxurious pick-up band every year with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. From London to Budapest, Bamberg to Vienna, great orchestral concerts are recreated as a collection of countless human and musical stories. The book reveals how the catalysts of place, time, and personal history are alchemised into the indelible magic of life-changing performances”. – (Adapted from amazon.com ’s book description.)

Syndetics book coverPiano forte : stories and soundscapes from colonial New Zealand / Kirstine Moffat.
“In 1827 the newly wed Elizabeth Mair arrived in Paihia, on board the mission schooner Herald.Her treasured Broadwood grand square piano accompanied her, almost certainly the first piano to arrive in New Zealand. This instrument and the thousands of other pianos that followed provided European settlers with a reassuring sense of ‘home’ and at the same time introduced Maori to a new sound world…Piano forte … draws on memoirs, diaries, letters, concert programmes, company records, fiction and visual images. The stories end in 1930 when the increasing popularity of the phonograph, the radio and the introduction of the talkie movies were beginning to have a profound impact on people’s leisure activities” – (from cover summary)

Cover ImageSymphonies nos. 2 and 3 [sound recording] / Ross Harris.
“The stunning voice of New Zealand’s Madeleine Pierard shines in the first of these two Ross Harris works. Described as “often beautiful and sometimes frightening” (NZ Listener), Ross Harris’s Symphony No. 2 is a setting of poems on the subject of New Zealand soldiers shot for desertion in World War One. Writer Vincent O’Sullivan’s deeply felt descriptions of violence, love and tragedy are reflected in a moving and dramatic score. Symphony No. 3 is inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall, and develops and transforms klezmer-like tunes as its basic material. These symphonies were composed for the Auckland Philharmonia, and both won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award”- (from CD’s liner notes)

Syndetics book coverVerdi and/or Wagner : two men, two worlds, two centuries / Peter Conrad
“This is the first book to compare these two composers and cultural heroes, both of whom were born in 1813 and achieved huge national and international renown in their lifetimes. Yet not only did they never meet, but the differences between them—in music, culture, environment, significance, and legacy—were profound.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDream with me / Jackie Evancho
“Produced by David Foster, Jackie Evancho’s Dream With Me fulfills the promise of O Holy Night, Jackie’s major label debut, a seasonal collection which became 2010’s #1 best-selling debut recording with sales exceeding 1 million units. Dream with Me features a repertoire of classical arias and pop classics handpicked to suit Jackie’s angelic voice. Her range is so great that she ably shifts from the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” Other highlights include two extraordinary superstar duets showcasing the young vocalist performing with music legend Barbra Streisand and international phenomenon Susan Boyle.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDie Walküre [sound recording] / Wagner
“… The recording’s additional dimension is that the music leaps out from the speakers and into your mind’s eye making Wagner’s mythological world of the Valkyrie into something quite tangible. I had goose bumps from the start to the finish, while listening to the recording, especially ends of act 1 and 2. The rapturous applause at the end of each act and at the conclusion of the opera, says it all. People (including myself) were giving standing ovations all around and all levels of the wonderful concert hall, at the end of each of the 3 sections.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

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Mind & Body Newsletter for October

Spring brings with it an atmosphere of new growth and possibilities; a chance to leave behind the winter blues. This month’s Mind & Body selections will help you do just that, with plenty of ideas and inspiration from rustling up new recipes to refocusing your life.

Library News

Cooking

Variety is the theme of this month’s cooking selection : Italian, Asian, Kiwi, British and more, from baking deliciously sinful treats to every day cooking, vegan and healthy choices.

Syndetics book coverHugh’s Three Good Things… on a Plate / Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ; photography by Simon Wheeler ; illustrations by Mariko Jesse..
“How often have you wished there was a magic formula to simplify cooking? Well, there is. Put three good things together on a plate and, somehow, the whole is always greater and more delicious than the sum of its parts. Looking back over nearly two decades of professional cookery, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has worked out the combinations that make magic. Salty, sweet, crunchy. Sharp, rich, crumbly. Hot, bland, crisp……Hugh has used the formula of three to create two hundred recipes….. Because the possibilities are endless, Hugh has also suggested two hundred three-word recipe ideas, which can be used as a springboard for improvised cooking…..this book will unlock a whole new world of fantastic food. Three Good Things. It really is that simple.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverItalian Kitchen / Anna Del Conte ; photographs by Jason Lowe.
“With four chapters – Antipasti, Pasta, Risottos and Dolci – Italian Kitchen is a bible for the fundamentals of Italian cooking. There are simple starters like Bruschetta with Tomato; timeless pasta sauces like Pesto; distinctive risottos; and delectable puddings like Chocolate and Pear Cake. Anna Del Conte is the grande dame of Italian cooking.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Complete Book of Modern Asian / [senior editor: Stephanie Kistner].
“The ultimate compendium of Asian food, this is the follow up to the best-selling cookbook, The Complete Book of Modern Classics. Modern Asian is the food we eat now – delicious little morsels to serve as finger food at parties, light piquant starters, some of which can also be served as lunch dishes. Main courses made from seafood, lean meat, chicken and duck, noodles and vegetables. Delicious side dishes which you can eat with non-Asian meals, and some wonderful desserts. Each chapter contains a ’star’ recipe – the one that has become so popular it’s now almost mainstream. It’s a beautiful book with recipes that will convert you to modern Asian food.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPizza / Pete Evans.
“Pete Evans has had a life long love affair with pizza. His mother would make them from scratch for him and his friends – dialling a delivery service was never an option – and he later trained with an Italian pizzaiolo so he could learn all the tricks of the pizza-maker’s trade. The pizza restaurant Pete founded in Sydney has won many prestigious awards. The more than 90 recipes in this book cover classic pizzas and more modern versions, and include breakfast pizzas, seafood pizzas, vegetarian pizzas and pizza desserts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlex Mackay’s Cookbook for Everybody, Everyday / photography by Peter Knab.
“Alex Mackay believes that cooking is an adventure and that good food should be for everyone. You don’t have to spend a fortune on hard-to-come-by ingredients or have an encyclopaedic knowledge of cooking methods to eat well and healthily. Alex knows that most of us shop in the supermarket and work from nine to five. The trick is to know a few basic recipes and to recreate them in different ways so that they never grow tired.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverHow to Bake / Paul Hollywood ; photography by Peter Cassidy.
“At last, the star of BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off reveals all the secrets of his craft in How to Bake. The son of a baker, Paul Hollywood is passionate about busting the myths that surround baking, sharing his finely honed skills, and showing that with the right guidance, anybody can achieve success time after time. With this in mind, he has filled this book with easy-to-follow, clearly explained, utterly delicious recipes.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverPie : 80+ Pies and Pastry Delights / Dean Brettschneider ; photography by Aaron McLean.
“Who can resist a steaming-hot home-baked pie? Whether it’s savoury or sweet, humble or gourmet, individual or family-sized, a tasty pie is an enduring Kiwi favourite. Pie: 80+ Pies and Pastry Delights unlocks the secrets to making a truly melt-in-your-mouth pie with its collection of meat pies, seafood pies and more.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Book of Burger / Rachael Ray ; photographs by Romulo Yanes.
“With nine No. 1 New York Times-best sellers, the queen of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) needs no introduction. This latest book collects over 200 of Food Network icon Ray’s favorite burgers, sliders, sandwiches, dogs, and sloppies, incorporating such ingredients as veal, pork, lamb, mushrooms, and swordfish.” (Library Journal)

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Sports, Fitness & Recreation

This month’s selection includes books on card games, golfing tips, fishing, rugby, football and more. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverGolf’s Moment of Truth : How to play under pressure and conquer the choke point / Robin Sieger.
“Whether amateur or Tour professional, every golfer will experience that crucial moment when victory hinges on just one shot. Make it, they win; blow it and they will re-live the memory on the golf course for years to come. They have arrived at their personal ‘moment of truth’. The question is: can they do it? The follow-up to his successful Silent Mind Golf, and second in a major new four-book series, this new title sees Robin Sieger explore the concept of ‘choking’ and apply his easy-to-grasp mental conditioning techniques to help golfers at all levels perform under pressure.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverUltimate Book of Card Games : The comprehensive guide to more than 350 card games / by Scott McNeely ; illustrations by Arthur Mount.
“Classic and comprehensive, this guide to over 350 games is sure to appeal to all ages. From Bridge to Poker and Solitaire to Hearts, card games are a beloved source of entertainment and competition (and they are recession proof!). This authoritative book is ideal for every household, college dorm, family cabin, or neighborhood bar that has a pack of cards……” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScratching the Horizon : A Surfing Life / Izzy Paskowitz with Daniel Paisner.
In 1956, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz stepped away from a successful medical practice and began a lifelong surfing odyssey that grew to include his wife Juliette, and their nine children. Together, the Paskowitz clan lived a vagabonding bohemian existence, eschewing material possessions in favor of intangible riches like health and good cheer … all the while careening along the world’s coastlines in search of the perfect wave. In Scratching the Horizon, Izzy Paskowitz looks back at his unusual upbringing, and his lifelong passion for the sport that carries his family’s stamp.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverEating Dirt : Adventures and Yarns from New Zealand’s Action Man / Steve Gurney.
“Steve recounts some of his recent extreme adventures – in the Sahara, on Mount Cook, and in other remote parts of the world. He also talks about his experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes which have impacted on him markedly. In true Gurney fashion, this book is part riveting story and part philosophy, all told with humour and style”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverThe Heart of Our Game : Players and Personalities in New Zealand Rugby / Steve Hale.
“Rugby has a special place in the hearts of most Kiwis. While other sports rise in popularity, scratch any one of us and there’ll be a rugby association somewhere not too far from the surface …. And behind every winning team there are the runners-up and an equally dedicated band of supporters, coaches, linesmen and referees who understand much about what it is to be a rugby player and a Kiwi. Steve Hale has been talking to one or two and he’s come up with 28 gems as a result. See what’s really going on in the sport that used to unite a nation, and can still fire up our passion. After all, it’s much than a game of two halves – it’s the game of our lives.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book cover365 Family Games and Pastimes / Martin & Simon Toseland.
“A year-round treasure trove of games, hobbies and pastimes — from cribbage and consequence through recipes and magic tricks, to sardines and forfeits. Easy-to-follow and jam-packed with activities for all ages, this is a book to dip into at any day of any season, but it is also a compendium to savour for years to come….” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverPole to pole : One Man, 20 Million Steps / Pat Farmer.
“In a feat that ranks with the brave and inspiring deeds of Scott of the Antarctic, Sir Edmund Hillary and Jessica Watson, famed Australian ultramarathon runner Pat Farmer did what no human has ever done: run from the North Pole to South Pole. His mission: to raise money for the Red Cross to fund water projects in the world’s neediest regions”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThere’s a Golden Sky : How twenty years of the Premier League have changed football forever / Ian Ridley.
“In its first 20 years the Premier League has moved football from a state of unprecedented crisis against a backdrop of recession, strikes and hooliganism to a global sport of unimaginable riches. To mark this anniversary Ian Ridley takes stock of a phenomenon that has changed English football and English society forever. Taking in the game at all levels and across the country, There’s A Golden Sky is a full picture of the game today with all its glitz and glamour, rags and riches.” (Global Books)

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Religion and beliefs

The philosophy of pluralism, the idea of sin, and the new field of Integral thought feature in the Beliefs books which were shipped to the library in the last month.

Syndetics book coverMana Māori and Christianity, edited by Hugh Morrison…[et al.]
“This book examines encounters between the Christian church and Māori. Christian faith among Māori changed from the missionary endeavours of Pākehā settlers, to the development of indigenous expressions of Christian faith, to partnerships between Māori and Pākehā in the mainline churches, and the emergence of Destiny Church. The book looks at the growth, development and adaptation of Christian faith among Māori people, and considers how that development has helped shape New Zealand identity and society. It explores questions of theology, historical development, socio-cultural influence and change, and the outcomes of Pākehā interactions with Māori.”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverGod in a brothel : an undercover journey into sex trafficking and rescue, by Daniel Walker.
“A New Zealand-trained police officer with a calling to rescue children from the clutches of the sex trade, Walker has written about the four-year period he worked as an undercover investigator for nonprofit organizations dedicated to combatting child sex slavery. … Walker describes operations he undertook to investigate and extricate poor children from horrific abuse and oppression. Unfortunately, Walker has chosen to change or obscure names, places, even the organizations he worked for. The result is an overly general account that will prevent readers from understanding the complexity of the issue. … The book’s strength lies in Walker’s very honest descriptions of the toll the work took on his marriage, his faith and his personal ethics. Evangelical Christians, for whom trafficking has become a hot issue, will surely appreciate it. (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe illustrated encyclopedia of Hinduism : a comprehensive guide to Hindu history and philosophy, its traditions and practices, magnificently illustrated with more than 470 magnificent photographs, by Rasamandala Das ; consultant, M. Narasimhachary.
“Hinduism is perhaps the oldest major religion. The comprehensive book explores its rich historical and cultural development, from its Indian roots to its vibrant application in the present, global context. Over 470 illustrations, plus a useful introduction, a clear timeline and a full glossary of Indian terms. This accessible book provides the perfect reference for anyone wishing to explore the compelling faith and culture that is Hinduism.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverMeditating selflessly : practical neural Zen, by James H. Austin.
This is not the usual kind of self-help book. Indeed, its major premise heeds a Zen master’s advice to be less self-centered. Yes, it is “one more book of words about Zen,” as the author concedes, yet this book explains meditative practices from the perspective of a “neural Zen.” The latest findings in brain research inform its suggestions. … [It] guides readers toward that open awareness already awaiting them on the cushion and in the natural world. … Drawing widely from the exciting new field of contemplative neuroscience, Austin helps resolve an ancient paradox: why both insight wisdom and selflessness arise simultaneously during enlightened states of consciousness. (drawn from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSin : the early history of an idea, by Paula Fredriksen.
“Fredriksen … traces the concept of sin through seven “evolutionary jumps” from the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the first century C.E., to Valentinus, Marcion, and Justin Martyr in the second century, to Origen of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo in the third to fifth centuries. Her carefully nuanced discussion emphasizes the different “worlds” or mental frameworks that influenced these thinkers, e.g., the Jewish world of Jesus as distinct from the Roman world of Paul, a diaspora Jew, and Jesus’s expectation of the imminent in-breaking of God’s kingdom …. VERDICT This is an erudite study of related ideas of sin, salvation, human destiny, the messianic role, and the influence of worldview and political context on conceptual ideas that those who ponder or teach such matters may well find rewarding. (drawn from Library Journal, courtesy of syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHow to pray : alone, with others, at any time, in any place, by Stephen Cottrell. (3rd ed.)
“How To Pray is a basic primer on prayer. It will get us started, keep us going and uses every stage of life and its varied events to renew and expand our understanding of being alive to God through prayer. Completely honest about the struggles and difficulties everyone encounters, it will help us discover how natural prayer is, even when we least feel like it… — www.amazon.com

Syndetics book coverThe great partnership : God, science and the search for meaning, by Jonathan Sacks.
Explores how religion has always played a valuable part in human culture and far from being dismissed as redundant, must be allowed to temper and develop scientific understanding in order for us to be fully human. … the author shows how the predominance of science-oriented thinking is embedded deeply even in our religious understanding, and calls on us to recognise the centrality of relationship to true religion, and thus to see how this core value of relationship is essential if we are to avoid the natural tendency for science to rule our lives rather than fulfilling its promise to set us free. (drawn from publisher’s description).

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Health

New books include the history, geography and medical use of 72 healing plants; 22 dementia stories to help gain deeper understanding of the condition; 10 tales from a psychotherapist perspective on therapeutic interactions; reflections on facing a dual diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer; what you may not already know about bloating and questions surrounding the root of human consciousness.”

Syndetics book coverPhi : a voyage from the brain to the soul / Giulio Tononi.
“Both playful and philosophical, this extravagant book addresses questions about the root of consciousness in a unique way to illustrate Tononi’s innovative view of consciousness in terms of information theory, the brain as an integrated network of signals….The book is a visual delight as well as an impressive read, its lavish artwork and literary references demonstrating just how fully complementary art and science can be.” (adapted from Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverNational Geographic guide to medicinal herbs : the world’s most effective healing plants / Rebecca L. Johnson … [et al.]
“In this definitive guide, the authors provide information about the history, geography, and medical use for 72 healing plants, from ginger (for nausea) to arnica (for swelling and joint pain) to cayenne (for arthritis). Each herb is allotted four pages of text, sketches, and National Geographic-worthy photos, organized into chapters for mental health, the heart and circulation, the digestive system, joints and skin, urinary and male health, female health, and wellness…” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverMost of me : surviving my medical meltdown / Robyn Michele Levy
“Some memoirs are heartbreaking and some are hilarious, but very few manage to balance absurdity and honesty as does this title. Writer and artist Levy finds her dual diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer wickedly funny and this book is just that…. Anyone faced with uncertainty and struggle in the face of a life-changing disease, personal crisis, or just a bad day will find strength in Levy’s words.” (adpated form Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding gas and bloating : why can’t I do up my jeans at night? / Terry Bolin and The Gut Foundation.
“…This book explains a number of important facts about bloating, including: The bloating cycle; the process of digestion; the brain-gut axis; where the gases go; examining the link between gas and bloating; who is most susceptible and how bloating relates to other conditions.” (adapted from Global Books in Print)

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Personal Development

From creativity and happiness, to assertiveness and moving beyond suffering, take a look at these latest books for ideas and tools you can use in your life.

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 coverAssertiveness : what the most assertive people know, do and say / Dannie Lu Carr.
“Being assertive means that you are self-assured know what you want from life, are happy to stand up for yourself and have the respect of those around you. Do you want to be like this? This book will show you how! Practical and easy to read, it looks at what it means to be assertive in today’s world. As well as containing plenty of exercises and case studies, it also includes a personal plan which can be adapted by you to suit the issues you are facing.” (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)

Syndetics book coverTransforming negative self-talk : practical, effective exercises / Steve Andreas.
“Hearing critical or disapproving internal chatter is a common frustration. It can follow us around daily, calling into question our self-confidence, making us anxious or obsessive, and generally wreaking havoc on our sense of balance and well-being. In this user-friendly guide, an experienced clinician presents an array of original, take-charge exercises, which don’t suggest simply ignoring your ruminations. On the contrary, by learning how to change the way the words are spoken, the location of the voice, its tempo, tone, and volume, and stamp out generalizations, evaluations, and presuppositions, we can gain control of the downbeat voices and use them to our advantage.” – (adapted from Book cover summary)

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Music & Movies eNewsletter for September

We’ve had such a great run of weather leading up to Spring, you could be forgiven for having neglected the DVD player and its indoor friends. Thankfully, September’s Music & Movies eNewsletter coincides with it all turning to custard again. Highlights include novel adaptions We need to talk about Kevin and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; A complete guide to special effects makeup – Halloween forward-planners take note – and all you need to know about philosophy through the lens of The Big Lebowski. “The Dude abides…”

Library News

DVDs

Cover imageWe need to talk about Kevin.
“A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin explores the fractious relationship between a mother and her evil son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need To Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva’s own culpability is measured against Kevin’s innate evilness. Ramsay’s masterful storytelling simultaneously combines a provocative moral ambiguity with a satisfying and compelling narrative, which builds to a chilling, unforgettable climax.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageLike crazy.
“Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is fragile. When a British college student falls for her American classmate, they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey–only to be separated by circumstances beyond their control. … Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

MyLibDVDs7Weekend.
“This sensual, remarkably observed, beautifully acted wonder is the breakout feature from British writer-director-editor Andrew Haigh (Greek Pete). Rarely has a film been as honest about sexuality—in both depiction and discussion—as this tale of a one-night-stand that develops into a weekend-long idyll for two very different young men (exciting newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) in Midlands England. It’s an emotionally naked film that’s both an invaluable snapshot of the complexities of contemporary gay living and a universally identifiable portrait of a love affair.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageIn treatment. The complete first season.
“Adapted from a popular and award-winning Israeli series…each episode eavesdrops on a weekly therapist-patient session. “The magic happens”—as one observer sarcastically remarks—in the home office of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne in his Golden Globe Award-winning role). Monday’s patient is Laura (Melissa George), a doctor who reveals in a harrowing “about last night” monologue in the first episode that she is in love with Paul (”You’ve become the center of my life”). Tuesdays bring Alex (Blair Underwood), a cocky fighter pilot whose last mission over Iraq went horrifyingly awry, earning him the media tag, “The Madrassa Murderer.” Wednesday’s child, Sophie (Mia Wasikowska in a breakout performance) is a teenage Olympic hopeful in need of an evaluation following a near-fatal bicycle “accident.” On Thursdays, Paul meets with Amy (Embeth Davidtz) and Jake (Josh Charles), whose rocky marriage is further shaken as they wrestle over whether or not she should get an abortion. Fearing he is “losing patience with my patients,” Paul turns to his former mentor, Gina (Dianne Wiest in an Emmy-winning performance), with whom he had a falling out years before, to talk out his own troubles. The therapist whose own personal life is unraveling could have either been bad sitcom or static and stagey talking heads. But with its insightful writing, powerful performances, and deft, unobtrusive direction, In Treatment avoids the pitfalls to become an intensely gripping drama.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageExtremely loud & incredibly close.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches the viewer to the very core. In the way that Titanic and The Sweet Hereafter depicted tragedy by pulling back at the pivotal moment, only increasing the heartache portrayed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close shows the massive losses experienced in New York on September 11, 2001, through the lens of one young boy. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, a boy devoted to his dad (played by Tom Hanks, in flashbacks), who is lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The devastation of that day shudders through Oskar’s family, including his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock, in a subdued and affecting turn). Young Oskar is lost in the broken new world, but suddenly finds a purpose: a key left by his father. As Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close progresses, Oskar focuses on the key as a way to connect to his lost father–but finds, instead, connections in the unlikeliest of places…Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel, which was able to depict a bit more wry humor to leaven the heartbreak and history lessons, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nonetheless faces human tragedy straight on, and shows how a broken family can be rebuilt, one small key, one subway ride, one awkward hug at a time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageFootnote.
“Though it’s packed with subtextual meaning on any number of levels, the title of this Israeli import and 2011 foreign language Oscar nominee is also a reference to the only claim to fame of Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba). The cranky, crotchety, and exceptionally old-fashioned professor of Talmudic studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has all but perished after not having published despite his relentless examination of obscure texts as a fanatical philologist… Yet he clings to his old-school approach to intellectual investigation with greater gusto as his final years tick by. His rival in scholarly pursuit is his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), an equally serious man who also teaches at the university, but whose flashy, more populous approach to Talmudic study has earned him wide acclaim….When a mix-up occurs over which Shkolnik is to be awarded a prestigious academic prize, father and son exchange more cerebral bites, provoking barks of laughter from the audience as the mistake complicates itself so unpredictably. Writer-director Joseph Cedar navigates the sea of intellectual and family discord with a genuinely droll touch that’s as smart and stinging as it is funny…Footnote is a satire of intellect and domestic friction that cuts deep with dramatic tension and the insight of its often magical realist sense of high farce.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe decoy bride.
“David Tennant, Kelly MacDonald and Alice Eve star in this romantic comedy set in rural Scotland. When Katie (MacDonald) is jilted at the altar, she returns broken-hearted to her remote Scottish island home. But little does she know that Hollwood superstar Lara Tyler (Eve) has chosen the island as the secret venue for her wedding to her fiance James (Tennant). When the paparazzi gets wind of the location, Lara runs away in exasperation. Her management team decides to stage a fake wedding, hoping the paparazzi will fall for the deception and leave the island, and Katie is asked to don a white dress and walk down the aisle as a ‘decoy’ for the absent Lara. However, the path of true love is further complicated when attraction begins to grow between James and his decoy bride.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe big year.
“Never get between a birder and a Pink-footed Goose. As we learn from The Big Year, the intensity of birders (the term birdwatcher is dismissed here as insufficiently committed) is not to be taken lightly, and their quest of rare species creates the gentle comedy of this film, which is based on a real phenomenon. In the world of birders, there’s a goal set each calendar year, and based on the honor system: who can spot the most varieties of our feathered friends? All-time champ Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is a legendary name in the birding game, and this year he’s trying to beat his own record–but retired CEO Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) and slovenly upstart Brad Harris (Jack Black) are determined to topple the colorful and ruthless Bostick from his, er, perch. The movie’s at its best when charting the movements of these obsessed enthusiasts in the wild, as they scramble from Alaska to Arizona to New Jersey in pursuit of their goal; it’s less successful at trying to create human interest in the home lives of these guys.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageWoody Allen: a documentary.
“Beginning with Allen s childhood, ‘Woody Allen; A Documentary’ chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen s career, from his work as a TV scribe, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Director Weide covers Allen s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent Oscar® favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the recent success Midnight in Paris. Features interviews with: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest and Owen Wilson.” – (adapted from
Amazon.com summary)

Film Books

Syndetics book coverConversations at the American Film Institute with the great moviemakers : the next generation / [edited and with an introduction by] George Stevens, Jr.
“Collects American Film Institute conversations with filmmakers from the 1950s to today, including Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron, and George Lucas.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA complete guide to special effects makeup / [by Tokyo SFX Makeup Workshop ; editor, Yuko Sasaki].
“Acclaimed as the best book ever published on the subject, A Complete Guide to Special Effects Makeup covers everything from basic facial makeup styles, simple scars and gashes, to masks, molds and cast-making; everything you need to know to create vampires, zombies and other fantastical characters. With clear step by step instructions and hundreds of color photos, it includes stunning conceptual pieces from many of the contributing artists and a section on manga/cosplay hair and makeup. Bound to thrill anyone interested in creating realistic and unique makeup effects!” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slasher movie book / J.A. Kerswell.
“The slasher movie is the most reviled but successful of horror’s subgenres. Taking its cue from Hitchcock, grind-house movies, and the gory Italian giallo thrillers of the 1970s, slasher movies brought a new high in cinematic violence and suspense to mainstream cinema. The Slasher Movie Book details the subgenre’s surprising beginnings, revels in its g(l)ory days, and discusses its recent resurgence. Packed with reviews of the best (and worst) slasher movies and illustrated with an extensive collection of distinctive and often graphic color poster artwork from around the world.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHorror cinema / Jonathan Penner, Steven Jay Schneider, Paul Duncan (ed.).
“Horror is both the most perennially popular and geographically diverse of all film genres; arguably, every country that makes movies makes horror movies of one kind or another. Depicting deep-rooted, even archetypal fears, while at the same time exploiting socially and culturally specific anxieties, cinematic horror is at once timeless and utterly of its time and place. This exciting visual history, which includes unique images from the David Del Valle archive, examines the genre in thematic, historical, and aesthetic terms.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverAuthorship and the films of David Lynch : aesthetic receptions in contemporary Hollywood / Antony Todd.
“This important new contribution to studies on authorship and film explores the ways in which shared and disputed opinions on aesthetic quality, originality, and authorial essence have shaped receptions of Lynch’s films. It is also the first book to approach David Lynch as a figure composed through language, history, and text. Tracing the development of Lynch’s career from cult obscurity with Eraserhead, to star auteur through the release of Blue Velvet, and TV phenomenon Twin Peaks, Antony Todd examines how his idiosyncratic style introduced the term “Lynchian” to the colloquial speech of new Hollywood and helped establish Lynch as the leading light among contemporary American auteurs.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Big Lebowski and philosophy : keeping your mind limber with abiding wisdom / edited by Peter S. Fosl.
“Explores many of The Big Lebowski’s key themes, such as nihilism, war and politics, money and materialism, idealism and morality, history, and more. Gives you new perspective on the movie’s characters–the Dude, the Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak, Donny, Maude Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski, and others. Helps you appreciate the Coen Brothers classic even more with the insights of Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, Derrida, and other philosophical heavyweights.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

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Popular Music

It’s all about the big stars in this month’s popular music picks. Biographies on the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Arethra Franklin, Carole King, Pink Floyd and more …

Syndetics book coverBruce Springsteen and the promise of rock ‘n’ roll / Marc Dolan.
“Dolan is a believer in Springsteen’s metaphysical heft, and he more than adequately explores all aspects of same in this exhaustive chronicle of all things Bruce. The book’s tone is mythic, and the sweep of the accolades recounted and pronouncements made about Springsteen’s oeuvre are carefully detailed and documented. In short, this is not a book for casual fans, tough it is probably indispensable for devotees. Fortunately, it’s also readable and engrossing.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverTreasures of The Who / Chris Welch.
“Treasures of the Who takes you on the journey with the band as they conquered the world: from small London clubs to Madison Square Garden, from seven-inch vinyl releases to multimillion-selling albums, all the way to recognition as global rock gods. The text has been researched and written by Chris Welch, the legendary English journalist who was close to the band, and it is accompanied by images from many of the best contemporary photographers. There are also removable facsimiles of stunning, super-rare memorabilia from one of the biggest collections around. It adds up ta a unique experience: the story of the Who in your hands.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverLove is the cure : on life, loss and the end of AIDS / Elton John.
“The very personal story of Sir Elton’s life during the AIDS epidemic, including his agony at seeing friends perish needlessly. Through his stories of close encounters with people like Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, and many others, he will convey the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life – and his infinite determination to stop its spread.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPink Floyd / edited by Marcus Hearn.
“Featuring over 150 iconic, rare and previously unpublished images of Pink Floyd, this book captures the legendary rock group at every stage of their epic career. From some of their first photo sessions in 1967 to their triumphant reunion at Live 8, this book is a unique chronicle of five enigmatic musicians, and their journey from experimental psychedelia to stadium pageantry.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverMorrissey & Marr : the severed alliance / by Johnny Rogan.
“Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance is among the most successful – and controversial – rock biographies ever published. Having denounced the book and called for the death of its author Johnny Rogan, Morrissey later did a U-turn and cited it as evidence in the royalty-related court case brought by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. Now, 20 years after it was first published, Rogan has returned to his definitive Smiths biography to produce a completely revised edition based on new information and new interviews to add to the almost 100 initially conducted over a four-year period.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverThe very best of Adele for ukulele / [edited by Adrian Hopkins].
“14 of Adele’s best known songs arranged for Ukulele drawn from both of her massively successful albums 19 and 21 . This exclusive songbook includes chord symbols ukulele chord boxes and complete lyrics for each song. Includes: Chasing Pavements * Crazy for You * He Won’t Go * Lovesong * Many Shades of Black * Rolling in the Deep * Set Fire to the Rain *Â Someone like You * and more.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHeavy metal : from hard rock to extreme metal / [text by Kory Grow ; foreword by Slayer’s Kerry King].
“With its loud, aggressive rhythms; slashing guitar solos, and often-disturbing themes, metal is mesmerizing: it cuts to the bone and takes rock right to the edge. Heavy Metal takes readers on an in-depth musical journey through this testosterone-fueled style, including its origins, development, and subgenres, such as thrash, doom, death, and gothic metal. With exclusive pictures and commentary, it analyzes such groundbreaking bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer through their sounds, lyrics, themes, and trend-setting actions.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverWill Oldham on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy / edited by Alan Licht.
“A collection of conversations between Licht and Will Oldham, aka musician Bonnie Prince Billy, about his 2 personas and his life in music and film. Presenting conversations with longtime friend and associate, the author probes his highly individualistic approach to music making and the music industry, one that cherishes notions of intimacy, community, mystery, and spontaneity.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Classical Music

These Classical music picks highlight one-act operas, some young singing talent, and some Kiwi singing talent. Plenty to read and listen to this month!

Syndetics book coverVerdi and/or Wagner : two men, two worlds, two centuries / Peter Conrad
“This is the first book to compare these two composers and cultural heroes, both of whom were born in 1813 and achieved huge national and international renown in their lifetimes. Yet not only did they never meet, but the differences between them—in music, culture, environment, significance, and legacy—were profound.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverI heard you singing : my life with Ramon Opie / Corinne Bridge-Opie ; foreword by Donald Munro
“I Heard You Singing is the story of two New Zealand singers, Corinne Bridge and Ramon Opie, and their efforts to forge professional careers in a country which generally respects its sports stars far more than anyone in the arts…” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDream with me / Jackie Evancho
“Produced by David Foster, Jackie Evancho’s Dream With Me fulfills the promise of O Holy Night, Jackie’s major label debut, a seasonal collection which became 2010’s #1 best-selling debut recording with sales exceeding 1 million units. Dream with Me features a repertoire of classical arias and pop classics handpicked to suit Jackie’s angelic voice. Her range is so great that she ably shifts from the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” Other highlights include two extraordinary superstar duets showcasing the young vocalist performing with music legend Barbra Streisand and international phenomenon Susan Boyle.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDie Walküre [sound recording] / Wagner
“… The recording’s additional dimension is that the music leaps out from the speakers and into your mind’s eye making Wagner’s mythological world of the Valkyrie into something quite tangible. I had goose bumps from the start to the finish, while listening to the recording, especially ends of act 1 and 2. The rapturous applause at the end of each act and at the conclusion of the opera, says it all. People (including myself) were giving standing ovations all around and all levels of the wonderful concert hall, at the end of each of the 3 sections.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Image courtesy of Amazon11 Kurzopern [sound recording] : the original Electrola one-act operas
“When great masters compose miniature operas, the result is well, masterly. Mozart, Weber, Schubert, Medelssohn, Gluck, Lortzing and D Albert: on-act operas from these famous pens are true gems of music history and of the EMI archives. The Electrola recordings of these 11 short operas (mostly in Singspiel form) were made in the 1970 s, but thanks to their all-star casts, which are nothing short of legendary, they seem as fresh as ever. Now EMI is releasing them in a complete edition for the first time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover ImageApparent distance / Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
“A truly transcendent recording, “Apparent Distance is a four-part suite, commissioned through a 2010 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the liner notes, Bynum writes My goal is not just to blur the lines between composition and improvisation (a long-time pursuit), but to try to upend the listeners expectations in other ways: circular melodies without beginnings or ends, disguised unisons and non-repetitive vamps, transitions that are simultaneously jarring and organic. Most importantly, I want to spotlight the striking individuality and virtuosity of all the players, albeit in a context where the needs of the ensemble reign supreme a concerto for sextet, if you will. Since the composition s premiere in August 2010, the sextet has performed the work on tour and at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival (Austria), the Banlieues Bleues Festival (France), and the Crosscurrents Festival (New York). Jim Macnie of the Village Voice writes ‘Whether they’re lines that swirl upward, chasing their own tail, or lines that spill downward, like a Slinky on a staircase, the elemental motifs of the cornetist/composer’s pieces are full of springy kinetics. But they re more than mere nu-jazz puzzles. Bynum wrings emotion from his crew. His use of texture and trajectory has to do with his appreciation of passion.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

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People & Places eNewsletter for September

This month’s People & Places eNewsletter has a decidedly New Zealand bent: writer James McNeish reflects on his formative influences; John Edgar looks back at the life and career of controversial Auckland mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson; Serious fun chronicles the multi-faceted career of entrepreneurial engineer Alan Gibbs; and Joanne Drayton’s The search for Anne Perry delves behind the mask of the reclusive author through interviews and analysis of her writing. All this plus the best in this month’s travel, history and New Zealand releases.

Library News

Biography

Sometimes we think it is all happening elsewhere – Britain, Europe, USA – but quite a lot is going on here in Kiwiland. For a country of such small size and population we produce many talented and innovative people. This month we feature biographies of a noted writer, a quirky businessman, and a much loved former former mayor of Auckland. Anne Perry, the famous writer of detective novels, is not a New Zealander but she spent several formative years here, during which she, together with her best friend, committed a shocking murder. Joan Drayton has done a masterly job of telling her story. Helen Brown, who won our hearts with the story of the liittle cat who saved her family from sorrow and heartbreak, has written another about the animal who succeeeded her. Here’s to New Zealand!! Happy reading.

Syndetics book coverTouchstones : memories of people and place / James McNeish.
“A young man leaves home as a deckhand on a Norwegian freighter, to travel the world. He returns to New Zealand changed almost beyond recognition. Along the way he meets nine people who influence his life and help make him the writer he becomes. James McNeish’s Touchstones has a cast of characters who include ‘the Mother Courage of the English theatre’, an anti-Mafia reformer in Sicily, a Kanak revolutionary who is assassinated, a rejected cousin and ‘Mr Punch in naval uniform’, the New Zealand poet Denis Glover. All are larger than life. Some of them, like the author’s mysterious Maori aunt, are good enough to bottle. The book is witty, poignant and in the words of its editor, Emma Neale, ‘rich in astonishing anecdote’. It is at once a self-portrait, a hymn to a vanishing New Zealand, and the first time James McNeish has written about himself.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA year in the life of a duchess : Catherine, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge / Ian Lloyd.
“This gorgeously illustrated book celebrates Kate Middleton’s triumphal first year as the Duchess of Cambridge. It details her public appearances, her honeymoon in the Seychelles, her first official trip to North America, and much more, showing how the world has embraced her as the people’s duchess. There’s also coverage of William and Kate’s first Christmas as a married couple and other important milestones, and a photographic selection of the most stunning outfits worn by Kate over the past year.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDearie : the remarkable life of Julia Child / Bob Spitz.
“On November 3, 1948, a lunch in a Paris restaurant of sole meuniere, the sole so very fresh with its delicate texture and cooked like an omelet in nothing but a bath of clarified butter, changed Julia Child’s life. In that moment, Child (1912-2004) recognized and embraced food as her calling, setting out initially to learn the finer points of cooking, and French cooking in particular. In this affectionate and entertaining tribute to the witty, down-to-earth, bumptious, and passionate host of The French Chef.” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter Cleo: came Jonah : how a crazy kitten and a rebelling daughter turned out to be blessings in disguise / Helen Brown.
“Many strong minded women have headstrong daughters. But this isn’t supposed to extend to their cats… Some say your previous cat chooses their successor. If so, what in cat heaven’s name was Helen Brown’s beloved Cleo thinking when she sent a crazy kitten like Jonah? Helen Brown swore she’d never get another kitten. But while she was recovering from major surgery an unscheduled visit to a pet shop resulted in the explosive arrival of a Siamese kitten.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUrban legend : Sir Dove-Myer Robinson / John Edgar.
“One of New Zealand’s most popular and colourful local politicians, Dove-Myer Robinson (1901-1989) was the longest-serving mayor of Auckland city, holding office for 18 years between 1959 and 1980. A controversial figure during his time as mayor, Robinson has today taken on iconic status largely because of his ahead of the times vision. In 2011 we often hear the refrain “They should have listened to Robbie”. URBAN LEGEND explores Robinson’s life from his hard days growing up in a working class Jewish family in Sheffield to his reluctant retirement from Auckland local government in 1980.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSerious fun : the life and times of Alan Gibbs / Paul Goldsmith.
“A man who in his twenties dared to take on the cosy club of import licence-holders who controlled the New Zealand car industry by building his own car for commercial production was always going to be someone to watch. Who could have picked, however, back in the early 1970s, that this young engineer would one day persuade Sir Richard Branson to zip across the English channel in his amphibious car, the Aquada? The life of businessman, inventor, merchant banker, philanthropist, art collector, adventurer and inveterate traveller Alan Gibbs has been far from ordinary.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJohn Huston : courage and art / Jeffrey Meyers
“Veteran biographer Meyers steps into the ring with legendary movie director John Huston and proves adept at wrestling the larger-than-life figure onto the page. He does it by achieving a nice balance between the life and the work, playing off the flamboyant Huston’s romantic escapades (five marriages and hundreds of mistresses), world-class drinking (often in the company of good friend Humphrey Bogart), and reckless gambling against his prodigious appetite for work (he directed more than 40 films, including multiple masterpieces, ranging from his first directorial effort, The Maltese Falcon, in 1941, through his finale, James Joyce’s The Dead, in 1987).” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTina Grenville : a life in three acts.
“Tina Grenville always wanted to be an actress. Widowed at the age of 20, in mysterious and still unresolved circumstances, she was forced to find work as a housekeeper on a remote Hawkes Bay farm. Eventually able to move to Auckland with her young son, she became first a radio actress, then a leading photographic and catwalk model, . One of Paddy’s Girls, an elite stable of top models, in 1964 she won ‘Model of the Year’ . Encouraged to move to Australia, she was a resounding success, in demand with leading couturiers and top fashion magazines. Finally achieving her childhood ambition, she became a long-standing cast member on Logie award-winning series ‘The Godfathers’. and a regular guest on television game shows and Paramount telemovies.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverBranson / Tom Bower.
“The sensational critical biography of this phenomenal entrepreneur and his business practices – fully updated to cover Branson’s recent ventures.No British tycoon is more popular, few claim to be richer and none has masterminded a more recognisable brand than Richard Branson. What is behind the success of the buccaneering balloonist, the tabloids’ favourite celebrity nude, the ‘grinning jumper’ and the scourge of corporate goliaths?. Helped by eyewitness accounts of more than 250 people with direct experience of Branson, Tom Bower has a uncovered a different tale to the one so eagerly promoted by Virgin’s publicists. Here is the full story of Branson: his businesses, his friendships, his ambition, his law-breaking, his drug-taking, his bullying. From the cockpit of a balloon in the clouds to the centre of Branson’s operations in his Holland Park home this book is an intimate scrutiny of exactly how Richard Branson created himself and sold himself.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe search for Anne Perry / Joanne Drayton.
“Until 1994, the world knew Anne Perry as the writer of bestselling crime fiction at the peak of her writing career. But following the release of Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures about the sensational 1954 Parker-Hulme murders, came the shocking revelation that Anne Perry started life as Juliet Hulme, the teenager jointly convicted of murdering her friend’s mother. Life would never be the same for Anne. That a convicted murderer had gone on to become a celebrated crime writer with worldwide sales of over 25 million books was tantalizing enough. But careful analysis of her writing reveals that these were more than simple crime stories; spiritual and philosophical complexities thread the way through Anne Perry’s works and the characters she creates. Was Anne, in fact, revealing more about herself in the characters she was creating? Acclaimed biographer Joanne Drayton takes on the challenge of exploring Anne Perry’s writing to uncover her world view and her compulsion to write.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Travel stories & guides

Syndetics book coverThe voluntourist : a six-country tale of love, loss, fatherhood, fate, and singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem / Ken Budd.
“When Ken Budd was thirty-nine, his father collapsed after eighteen holes of golf. Ken and his wife raced to the hospital–but it was too late. In the weeks that followed, as grieving friends revealed how his father had changed their lives, Ken started questioning his own life–and admitting, after years of denial, that he and his wife would never have children….” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAppointment in Zambia : an African adventure / Sara Dunn. “‘We could always go overland now that we have wheels,’ Ross had suggested out of the blue. I’d pulled out an atlas and we’d traced a route down through Africa via countries still marked with their colonial names. Only two strips of water interrupted the flow of land between Edinburgh and Chingola; the English Channel and the Straits of Gibraltar. Fourteen months had passed since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon so Africa couldn’t be that difficult, could it? A month later we boarded the ferry for Calais…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll roads lead to Austen : a yearlong journey with Jane / Amy Elizabeth Smith ; illustrations by Lucia Mancilla Prieto.
“Taking a cue from Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, literature professor Smith decided to set up Jane Austen reading groups in six different Central and South American countries: Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina. She wanted to see how readers in those countries would relate to Austen. Do Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma translate well at all?” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last bohemia : scenes from the life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn / Robert Anasi.
“The eternal clash between authenticity, art, and real estate development shapes this bittersweet memoir of New York’s most tragically hip neighborhood. Anasi witnessed Williamsburg’s progress in the 1990s and 2000s from crime-ridden working-class neighborhood overshadowed by crumbling factories – his explorations of the decrepit industrial waterfront are one of the books greatest pleasures – to edgy arts scene and hipster mecca to end-stage self-parody as an unaffordably upscale “Bohemian theme park,” sprouting sterile luxury condos where picturesque ruins once stirred the soul.” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly summary)

Syndetics book coverMeander : East to West, indirectly, along a Turkish river / Jeremy Seal.
“Armed with a canoe, luggage, a box of baklava, and a jar full of water, Seal (The Snakebite Survivors’ Club: Travels Among Serpents) began his canoeing adventure down the Meander River (now known as the Buyuk Menderes River) from its headwaters on Turkey’s Anatolia plateau to its mouth in the Aegean Sea. As he recounts here, things don’t go quite as well as Seal had expected. …VERDICT Readers of history and travel will enjoy this charming book.” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)

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History

Syndetics book coverA guide to Dickens’ London / Daniel Tyler.
“To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, a generously illustrated guide to the city that was perhaps the greatest of his characters. From Newgate Prison to Covent Garden and from his childhood home in Camden to his place of burial in Westminster Abbey, this guide traces the influence of the capital on the life and work of one of Britain’s best-loved and well-known authors. Featuring more than 40 sites, places of worship and of business, streets and bridges, this comprehensive companion not only locates and illustrates locations from works such as Great Expectations and Little Dorrit but demonstrates how the architecture and landscape of the city influenced Dickens’ work throughout his life. Each site is illustrated with substantial quotations from Dickens’ own writing about the city he loved.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverA century of wisdom : lessons from the life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor / Caroline Stoessinger.
“Renowned pianist, music teacher, and Holocaust survivor Herz-Sommer shares intimate memories, harrowing experiences, and valuable life lessons. Recognized as the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor at 107, her legacy and her wisdom extend far beyond the years she spent at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Fellow musician and documentarian Stoessinger became acquainted with Herz-Sommer while working on a film about her life. From countless hours and interviews conducted over the course of several years, she has mined a treasure trove of insight and reflection. Herz-Sommer’s life is a tribute to the purity of artistic endeavor under the most devastating circumstances, and her refusal to be bitterly defined or essentially reshaped by tragedy is a testament to moral and spiritual courage. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it becomes increasingly important to capture and communicate their individual stories.” (Booklist)

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People and Places Newsletter for August

We’ve had some great new biographies, travel and NZ titles come through this month. “Fooling Houdini” tracks one man’s lifelong love of magic and his quest to become a master magician; “The elephant’s tale” shows that it’s never too late to live the dream, provided your dream is an epic tour of Europe on a shoestring budget and a 1150cc motorbike and recent bronze medallist Mark Todd reflects on his extraordinary career in “Second chance”.

If you’re planning on travelling somewhere exotic, be sure to try out Mango Languages, our new online interactive language learning system. It’s free and you’ll be speaking like a native in no time – or your money back. Try it now, here.

Biography

This month we feature the amazing story of Flora Sandes, the gently-born daughter of an English clergyman who became the only British woman to enlist as a soldier in The First World War. She was deployed to Serbia, initially serving as an ambulance driver and First Aid nurse, but through force of circumstances she became a soldier in the Serbian army She displayed exemplary courage and excellent organisational skills – these were recognised by her receipt of Serbia’s highest military honour, the King George star. She became a celebrity in both Britain and Serbia and rose quickly through the ranks, being commmissioned as an officer at the end of the war. The many fascinating aspects of this woman’s story are fully explored in this book. Those who enjoyed Tomorrow to be brave by Susan Travers, and Nancy Wake: a biography of our greatest war heroine by Peter FitzSimmons will be pleased to welcome another stout heart to the sorority.

Syndetics book cover18 bookshops / Anne Scott.
“Anne Scott has never housed her books in order of theme or author yet she knows where each of them is and the kind of life it has led. Some have been gifts but most have been chosen in bookshops unique in their style and possibilities. Gradually some of the shops become partners with her as her life changes and so do they. They have been observers of discovery, decisions, and marvels with her, following the line of her time and place.Some are everyday shops with a shelf of books in a corner, some are beginning again after long lives as churches, printing presses, medieval houses, a petrol-station. There are a few the author is too late to see: early print-houses and booksellers. They are here too in this book, searched for and described, side by side with all the bookshops open now and busy with readers. This book is about them. Not one is like another. In one way, the book is a sequence about writing. But first it is a map of books and a life.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverFooling Houdini : magicians, mentalists, math geeks, & the hidden powers of the mind / Alex Stone.
“When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit, sparking a lifelong love. Years later, living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world’s greatest card cheats, who happens to be blind. From New York City’s century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, Fooling Houdini recounts Stone’s quest to join the ranks of master magicians. But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their illusions, Stone investigates some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime.” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverEleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England / Ralph V. Turner.
“Eleanor of Aquitaine’s extraordinary life seems more likely to be found in the pages of fiction. Proud daughter of a distinguished French dynasty, she married the king of France, Louis VII, then the king of England, Henry II, and gave birth to two sons who rose to take the English throne – Richard the Lionheart and John. Renowned for her beauty, hungry for power, headstrong, and unconventional, Eleanor travelled on crusades, acted as regent for Henry II and later for Richard, incited rebellion, endured a fifteen-year imprisonment, and as an elderly widow still wielded political power with energy and enthusiasm. This gripping biography is the definitive account of the most important queen of the Middle Ages.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverBurying the typewriter : childhood under the eye of the secret police / Carmen Bugan.
“Carmen Bugan grew up amid the bounty of the Romanian countryside on her grandparent’s farm where food and laughter were plentiful. But eventually her father’s behavior was too disturbing to ignore. He wept when listening to Radio Free Europe, hid pamphlets in sacks of dried beans, and mysteriously buried and reburied a typewriter. When she discovered he was a political dissident she became anxious for him to conform.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe natural laws of good luck : a memoir of an unlikely marriage / Ellen Graf.
“Graf tells the quirky and funny story of how she marries a man from China whom she barely knows. “The Natural Laws of Good Luck” is a story of acceptance and of love beyond words. It is also a tale of finding renewal at midlife by taking a brave leap into the unknown.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA fine brother : the life of Captain Flora Sandes / Louise Miller.
“The only woman to serve as a soldier in the First World War, the Englishwoman Flora Sandes became a hero and media sensation when she fought for the Serbian Army and pursued a distinguished career in its ranks as officer. This account charts her incredible story, from her tomboyish childhood in genteel Victorian England, her mission to Serbia as a Red Cross volunteer and subsequent military enrolment, her celebrity lecture tours of Europe, her marriage to a fellow officer and her survival of a Gestapo prison during the Second World War to her final years in Suffolk. A fascinating character of her times and an inspiration to women the world over, Flora Sandes is brought to life and restored to her rightful place in history by this authorized biography – compiled with the help of her family, and using hitherto unused private papers and photographs.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverGood in a crisis : a memoir / Margaret Overton.
“During the four years of physician Margaret Overton’s acrimonious divorce, she dated widely and sometimes indiscriminately, determined to find her soulmate and live happily ever after. But then she discovered she had a brain aneurysm. She discovered it at a particularly awkward moment on a date with one of many Mr Wrongs. Overton, an anaesthetist, realised she had been so busy looking after the needs of others that she had forgotten to look after herself. So she set out on a course to take control of her future and finally become independent of men. Good in a Crisis is Overton’s laugh-out-loud account of dealing with the most serious of life’s problems: loss of life, loss of love and loss of innocence. It is a story of spirituality and self-delusion; of coming of age in adulthood and of navigating the terrible events that can cluster in midlife. Honest, hopeful and hilarious, this unforgettable memoir will make you laugh and cry. It will leave you a lot humbler, and just a little wiser.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

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Travel stories & guides

Syndetics book coverGrowing old outrageously : a memoir of travel, food and friendship / Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies.
“Two old school friends reconnect unexpectedly after thirty-five years and discover that they both love travelling – and the more exotic and far-flung the location, the better!” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe elephant’s tale : London to Vladivostok on two wheels / Mike Hannan.
“With their children grown and flown, Mike and Jo Hannan discover that it’s never too late to live the dream and embark on an epic tour of Europe and beyond on a 1150cc BMW motorbike called ‘Elephant’. With a limited budget, and all the essentials packed, they hit the road. Journeying through sunshine and rain, over good roads and bad, they explore France, Spain, North Africa, Russia and other former Soviet countries, Mongolia and Korea, taking in all kinds of sights and meeting all kinds of people. Along the way they also learn the difference between a tourist and a voyageur, and come to understand the deep universal significance of their journey.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe ten-letter countries : more zany adventures of the alphabet traveller / David Jenkins.
“With a touch of Bill Bryson’s humour, this wacky, fun book takes readers on a fascinating journey to parts of the world that few people visit. The Ten-Letter Countries is a story of a unique blend of countries visited by David based solely on their spelling…. David Jenkins is The Alphabet Traveller. Having previously made an 85 000 mile journey to visit all countries in the world whose names are made up of four letters, David is now off to explore 12 countries which all have ten letters to their name. David Jenkins hitchhiked to France the day he left school and has trotted the globe ever since…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTravels with Bertha : two years exploring Australia in a 1978 Ford stationwagon / Paul Martin.
“A book for anyone whose friends, loved ones, or themselves have travelled to Australia, and for those interested in the dark history, the colorful characters, or the startling beauty of this most fascinating continent.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSwirly World sails south / Andrew Fagan.
“In 2007, Kiwi musician and radio personality Andrew Fagan set sail in his tiny 5.4-metre plywood yacht to circumnavigate New Zealand. And just to make it more difficult, he included a leg to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands in the notorious Southern Ocean. All in all he sailed over 3000 miles (around 5000 km) in two months. Facing such potentially lethal conditions in such a tiny craft took careful planning mixed with extreme determination, serious fortitude and uncommon daring. In this account of his voyage, Fagan tells of having to avoid icebergs, sail through a force ten storm and visit sites of shipwrecks at Port Ross in the Auckland Island group. ‘With the genuine concern of a very fatigued person, I was sailing for my life and I knew it!’ ….” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhen Gods collide : an unbeliever’s pilgrimage along India’s Coromandel Coast / Kate James.
“Part detective story, part personal journey, Kate’s engrossing reportage explores India’s complex tapestry of religion and mysticism, assessing its Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and athiest heritage as she comes to terms with the faith she has rejected.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail / Cheryl Strayed
“…..Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As her family, marriage, and sanity go to pieces, Strayed drifts into spontaneous encounters with other men, to the consternation of her confused husband, and eventually hits rock bottom while shooting up heroin with a new boyfriend. Convinced that nothing else can save her, she latches onto the unlikely idea of a long solo hike. Woefully unprepared (she fails to read about the trail, buy boots that fit, or pack practically), she relies on the kindness and assistance of those she meets along the way… Strayed labors along the demanding trail, documenting her bruises, blisters, and greater troubles….–Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

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History

Before Tom Cruise started divorcing wives, Henry VIII had the biggest “celebrity” divorce around! This month’s history books include a new account of this famous divorce. We also have some great new New Zealand histories, along with looks at the Kings of Scotland and the twelve Caesars. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe divorce of Henry VIII : the untold story from inside the Vatican / Catherine Fletcher.
“Given the amount of material available on the Tudors, it’s difficult to think that anyone even remotely interested in this era is unfamiliar with the particulars of Henry VIII’s attempts to seek a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the resulting political and religious fallout. Fortunately, in her first book, Fletcher (history, Univ. of Durham, England) has found a new angle by focusing on a little-known figure: Gregorio Casali, England’s Italian-born ambassador to Rome. As one of the diplomats charged with securing the Pope’s approval for the divorce, Casali played a central role in the dealings at the papal court. Though some biographical gaps remain, the information Fletcher has uncovered about Casali’s life-full of clashing politics, professional rivalries, and deep family loyalties-provides a fresh perspective on the proceedings of the divorce attempt as well as an in-depth look at the complex world of 16th-century diplomacy. ” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)

Syndetics book coverThe meeting place : Māori and Pākehā encounters, 1642-1840 / Vincent O’Malley.
“The Meeting Place is an examination of relationships between Maori and Pakeha focusing predominantly on the period between 1814 and 1840 when, O’Malley argues, both peoples lived/inhabited a ‘middle ground’- in the historian’s Richard White’s phrase – in which neither could dictate the political, economic or cultural rules. Vincent O’Malley begins by introducing readers to pre-1814 encounters between Maori and European from, Tasman and Cook to sealers and whalers. He then provides a thematic analysis of the 1814 to 1840 period, looking at economic, religious, political and sexual encounters as Maori and Pakeha sorted through the meanings of land, money, gods, leaders and sex. Finally, O’Malley looks at why and how the middle ground gave way to a world in which Pakeha had enough power to dictate terms. The Meeting Place draws on an impressive range of sources to offer a welcome addition to works concerning Maori-Pakeha interaction in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries including those by Anne Salmond, James Belich, Judith Binney, Hazel Petrie, and others. It will appeal to the every general reader interested in New Zealand history but will also be useful for teaching. Its coverage of several major historical debates is likely to serve existing university courses throughout New Zealand as well as the senior secondary school curriculum.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe faded map : lost kingdoms of Scotland / Alistair Moffat.
“This book brings to vivid life the half-forgotten kings and kingdoms of two thousand years ago, of the time of the Romans, the Dark Ages and into the early medieval period. Though recent politics and logistics have established borders and jurisdictions which now seem permanent and impervious, The Faded Map looks beyond these to remember a land that was once quiet and green. In this fascinating account, Alistair Moffat describes the landscape these men and women moved through and talks of a Celtic society which spoke to itself in Old Welsh, where the Sons of Prophesy ruled, and the time when the English kings of Bernicia held sway over vast swathes of what is now Scotland. Heroes rode out of the mists to challenge them and then join with them. The faint echo of the din of ancient battles can be heard as Alistair Moffat takes the reader on a remarkable journey around a lost Scotland.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe twelve Caesars / Matthew Dennison.
“One of them was a military genius; one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned; another earned the nickname ’sphincter artist’. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide – and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the ‘twelve Caesars’ – Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colourful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, licence, brutality and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an era of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, 500-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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New Zealand

This month’s selection includes books on well known topics in New Zealand. Keith Hunter investigates the 40 year old unsolved case of the Crewe murders, John Julian investigates the Rena disaster and twice Olympic gold medal winner Mark Todd publishes his autobiography. There is also a look at fifty years of the work ofIan Athfield – the architect who designed our very own library building, as well as many of Wellington’s other architectual landmarks. In the graphic novel format “Ngarimu Te Tohu Toa” recounts how Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu became the first Māori soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Syndetics book coverThe case of the missing bloodstain : inside an incompetent and corrupt police inquiry : the truth of the Crewe murders / Keith Hunter.
“For over 40 years the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe is the great unsolved mystery of NZ Criminal history. Local farmer Arthur Alan Thomas was twice convicted of their murders but following a Royal Commission of Inquiry was later given a Royal pardon. In this comprehensive anatomy of the investigation veteran investigative journalist and broadcaster Keith Hunter provides answers to all the unresolved issues in the case.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack tide : the story behind the Rena disaster / John Julian.
“Tells the real story of the Rena. The Rena, a 236-metre-long container ship was making 17 knots when she ploughed into the Astrolabe Reef at 2:20am on Wednesday 5 October 2011. She was on her way from Napier towards Tauranga carrying 1368 containers along with 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 200 tonnes of marine diesel. The scene was set for a major economic and environmental catastrophe; a race against time for salvors working in hideous conditions to stem the black tide.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecond chance : the autobiography / Mark Todd with Kate Green.
“Mark Todd’s eventing career is the stuff of legend and encompasses one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. When he ‘retired’ from competing in eventing in 2000, he had already been named ‘Rider of the Century’ for his natural empathy with a horse and his extraordinary success, which included back-to-back Olympic gold medals, five Burghley wins and three Badminton victories. He has also show jumped to Olympic level and trained winners on the racecourse.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAthfield Architects / Julia Gatley.
“Over many years, Ian Athfield and his team at Athfield Architects have reshaped New Zealand architecture – from the Buck House at Te Mata Estate to Wellington’s Civic Square, from Jade Stadium to Athfield’s own sprawling settlement on the Khandallah hills. Reflecting on half a century of work, Julia Gatley’s landmark book introduces a major body of architecture through modernism, postmodernism and beyond.” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverNgārimu : te Tohu Toa / nā Andrew Burdan ngā pikitia.
“Tells the story of Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu, the first Māori soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross, describing the battle on the 26 & 27th of March 1943 in which he fought heroically, but was killed. Suggested level: secondary.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnposted letters : from a Japanese prisoner of war camp, 1942-1945 / J.C. Maddever ; compiled by Lorna Manson.
“Jack Maddever would never talk about his war experiences, but he kept a record in his letters which were never posted. He carried them home on his return in 1945 and they provide a glimpse into his day-to-day existence while in a POW camp in Palembang, Indonesia. In three years Jack’s weight dropped from nearly 13 stone (82.5kg) to under 7 stone (44.5kg). Jack died in 1982. His letters, compiled by his widow Lorna Manson, show us his struggle to survive those long years of incarceration.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Music and Movies Newsletter for August

The NZ International Film Festival is here again and not to be outdone, we’ve put together a few choice films for your consideration. All this, plus our picks for the best new music biographies and classical releases.

Speaking of music, be sure to check out our online streaming collections from Naxos and Alexander Music Online. Featuring thousands of classical, jazz and world music albums you’ll never want for sophisticated sound again. The next best thing? You won’t pay a cent.

Do try it.

DVDs

New DVDs include silent epic The Artist; Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe; the new Almodovar with Antonio Banderas and the acclaimed ‘Shame’ with Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan

Cover imageShame.
“Firmly planting itself near the top of the memorable performances and films that have been overlooked by the Oscars, Michael Fassbender’s astonishing work in Shame is genuinely something to behold. Stripped bare, both physically and emotionally, he plays Brandon, a man struggling with a sex addiction, whose life gets yet more complex when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to stay. It’s comfortably one of the least titillating films ever made about sex, and in this case, it’s all the better for it. Directed by Steve McQueen, who also worked with Fassbender on the acclaimed Hunger, Shame is an ambitious, raw drama. As a study of a character in the depths of an addiction, it both breaks a taboo or two, and is unflinching in its portrayal. And while there’s an argument that the film itself isn’t quite the equal of its leading man, Shame is both important and courageous. McQueen, certainly, is a director who very much does things his own way…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe skin I live in.
“From acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar comes The Skin I Live In… Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After 12 years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe promise.
“Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) and Christian Cooke (Cemetery Junction) lead an international cast, including Itay Tiran (Lebanon), Haaz Sleiman (The Visitor), Ali Sulaiman (Paradise Now) and Perdita Weeks (Lost in Austen), in Peter Kosminsky’s new four-part drama serial. Just as 18-year-old Londoner Erin (Foy) sets off to spend summer in Israel with her best friend, Eliza (Weeks), she unearths an old diary belonging to her seriously ill grandfather, Len (Cooke). Intrigued by the life of this old man she barely knows, she takes the diary with her, and is stunned to learn of his part in the post-WWII British peace-keeping force in what was then Palestine. Left to her own devices when Eliza begins National Service in the Israeli army, Erin witnesses the complexities of life–for both Jews and Arabs–in this troubled land. And as Len’s story comes to life from the pages of the diary, Erin discovers the disturbing truths about his time in Palestine and the atrocities he witnessed in the 1940s. Retracing Len’s steps in modern-day Israel, Erin sets out on a heart-breaking journey in an effort to understand and fulfil a promise made by her grandfather over 60 years ago…” – (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageAlbert Nobbs.
“To his customers, fastidious butler Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close, re-creating her 1982 stage role) is a “kind little man” who works in an upscale Dublin hotel at the turn of the century, prioritizing his position above all other concerns. Little do they know that he isn’t really a man and that he dreams of running a tobacco shop. Until then, he’s quietly biding his time when two new workers arrive: Joe (Nowhere Boy’s Aaron Johnson), a strapping handyman, and Hubert (Oscar nominee Janet McTeer), a swaggering housepainter also passing as a man. After Hubert discovers Albert’s secret, they share their stories, and a friendship ensues. Hubert’s marriage to a spirited seamstress inspires Albert to find a spouse of his own, so he sets his sights on flighty housemaid Helen (Jane Eyre’s Mia Wasikowska). With money in short supply, her erstwhile lover, Joe, encourages her to play along, a move that brings out Albert’s tender side while jeopardizing his security….Though Close gives an admirably controlled performance, Albert’s closed-off character makes him more intriguing than sympathetic…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover image3.
“Hanna and Simon, a couple in their early forties, live together in Berlin. With their 20th anniversary looming, they both become restless despite being truly and deeply in love. Unbeknownst to one another, they separately become acquainted with Adam, a younger man, and fall in love with him. Clearly not your typical 1930’s romp, this reinvention of those classic films … is a playful update: an intellectual study of a modern couple looking for redefinition in a world of absolutes…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

The trip: the 6-part series.Syndetics image
“Steve Coogan has been commissioned by a Sunday newspaper to review half a dozen restaurants in the North of England. When his food-loving American girlfriend backs out, Steve is faced with a week of meals for one. Reluctantly, he calls Rob Brydon, the only person he can think of who will be available. Heading north in a stylish black Range Rover, the pair begin a journey of bickering jokes and reflection. Across the dinner tables of the North’s best restaurants the neurotic and sardonic Coogan and the genial eager-to-entertain Brydon spar on everything from Coleridge or career insecurities to which of them does the best Michael Caine impression. This two disc set includes the original six part BAFTA winning comedy series as seen on the BBC.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe artist.
“The Artist is a love letter and homage to classic black-and-white silent films. The film is enormously likable and is anchored by a charming performance from Jean Dujardin, as silent movie star George Valentin. In late-1920s Hollywood, as Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he makes an intense connection with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. As one career declines, another flourishes, and by channeling elements of A Star Is Born and Singing in the Rain, The Artist tells the engaging story with humour, melodrama, romance, and–most importantly–silence. As wonderful as the performances by Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo (Miller) are, the real star of The Artist is cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman. Visually, the film is stunning. Crisp and beautifully contrasted, each frame is so wonderfully constructed that this sweet and unique little movie is transformed from entertaining fluff to a profound cinematic achievement…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageMy week with Marilyn.
“In My Week with Marilyn Williams takes on the formidable challenge of playing Marilyn Monroe, and does so with depth and assuredness, and without resorting to caricature. Williams’s Marilyn commands the screen with pain and delicacy, and doesn’t let go until the final credits. My Week with Marilyn focuses on a small time frame in Monroe’s life, right after her marriage to Arthur Miller. Monroe, already “the world’s most famous woman,” still feels the need for validation as an actress. What better way to achieve that, she believes, than committing to co-starring with Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, a film she firmly believed would finally cement her reputation as a serious actress. My Week with Marilyn is based on the short memoir of Colin Clark, a crew member on The Prince and the Showgirl, who quickly became the confidant of the wildly insecure Monroe and watched a train wreck of egos–mostly Olivier’s and Monroe’s–collide in a fiery near-disaster…But it’s Williams who gives the revelatory performance, capturing with painful intensity the insecurity that begins to seep out of Monroe like a fearful sweat…My Week with Marilyn doesn’t attempt to answer the unanswerable, but instead shines a light on the very real woman who became lost in the giant shadow of legend…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

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Popular Music

Syndetics book coverThe boy in the song : the real stories behind 50 classic pop songs / Michael Heatley & Frank Hopkinson.
“The Boy in the Song is a follow up to 2010’s The Girl in the Song. It features the real-life stories that inspired some classic pop songs about the male of the species. While the first book was filled with songs about unrequited love, the follow-up is more varied, with songs written from a number of emotions. There are songs motivated by love and hate, there are tributes and there are biographical tales. Each song is featured on two, four or six pages with a small biography of the artist along with the story of how and why the song was written, and, most intriguingly, what happened after the song became a hit.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHoller if you hear me : searching for Tupac Shakur / Michael Eric Dyson.
“Tupac Shakur enjoys a lively posthumous career that threatens to eclipse what he did before death, and it is only appropriate that so-called hip-hop intellectual Dyson should plumb the depths of Shakur’s cultural significance and how it relates to young blacks today. A hip-hop giant, actor, and poet, Shakur was as legitimate a spokesman for his people as any pop star ever is.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverThe big gig : big-picture thinking for success / by Zoro ; with Amy Hammond Hagberg.
“The Big Gig is much more than just an intriguing and comprehensive insider’s guide to breaking into the music industry as an independent musician. Compelling and thought-provoking, it is an excellent resource for leadership training, networking techniques, and personal development. The Big Gig is the first book that describes the inner workings of the highly competitive music industry as seen through the eyes of a world-renowned and highly successful musician. The Big Gig provides a template for success by covering the vocational, personal, and spiritual aspects of a musician’s life.” – (adapted Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverAn American demon : a memoir / by Jack Grisham.An American Demon: A Memoir
“In this disturbingly profane yet strangely mesmerizing memoir, punk musician and political activist Grisham describes a troubled childhood and adolescence on the streets of Long Beach, California. Curiously, Grisham refers to himself as a demon, thereby intentionally distancing himself and perhaps readers, too, from the rest of humanity. Readers interested in punk music will be fascinated by Grisham’s tale, but be forewarned, it is not for the faint-hearted.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverWho is that man? : in search of the real Bob Dylan / David Dalton.
“Dalton (Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead) is the latest in a series of eminent rock critics (Robert Shelton, Paul Williams, Clinton Heylin, Michael Gray, Greil Marcus, et al.) to take on the enigmatic Bob Dylan. Dalton’s book is a blend of biography and music appreciation. He deftly traces the familiar contours of Dylan’s career and his many shape-shifting personas. The liveliest portion of the book deals with the creative and audacious peak of Dylan’s career in the mid-1960s. Dalton’s insights will be of interest to both die-hard fans and anyone who wants a good introduction to Dylan’s life and art.” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)

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Classical Music

String quartets / by Dmitri Shostakovich and his contemporaries (volume 1) and String quartets / by Dmitri Shostakovich and his contemporaries (volume 2)
Cover ImageCover Image“[T]he Pacifica Quartet is one of the best chamber ensembles out there…even so, there’s no dearth of fine Shostakovich cycles, from the Borodin Quartet to the Emerson. These performances, every bit as fine as those, would be excellent by themselves, but they do risk getting lost in the discographic shuffle. So it was an inspired idea to pair them in this series with other important works in the same medium by Shostakovich’s contemporaries…. A great start to a very promising series.” – (adapted from ClassicsToday.comreview)

Cover ImageApparent distance / Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
“A truly transcendent recording, “Apparent Distance is a four-part suite, commissioned through a 2010 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the liner notes, Bynum writes My goal is not just to blur the lines between composition and improvisation (a long-time pursuit), but to try to upend the listeners expectations in other ways: circular melodies without beginnings or ends, disguised unisons and non-repetitive vamps, transitions that are simultaneously jarring and organic. Most importantly, I want to spotlight the striking individuality and virtuosity of all the players, albeit in a context where the needs of the ensemble reign supreme a concerto for sextet, if you will. Since the composition s premiere in August 2010, the sextet has performed the work on tour and at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival (Austria), the Banlieues Bleues Festival (France), and the Crosscurrents Festival (New York). Jim Macnie of the Village Voice writes ‘Whether they’re lines that swirl upward, chasing their own tail, or lines that spill downward, like a Slinky on a staircase, the elemental motifs of the cornetist/composer’s pieces are full of springy kinetics. But they re more than mere nu-jazz puzzles. Bynum wrings emotion from his crew. His use of texture and trajectory has to do with his appreciation of passion.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Books

Syndetics book coverMozart at the Gateway to His Fortune : Serving the Emperor, 1788-1791
“At the end of 1787, Mozart reported to his sister, Nannerl, that Emperor Joseph II of Austria had appointed him as Imperial-Royal Chamber Composer. As distinguished music historian Wolff points out in this elegant study of the last four years of Mozart’s life, this new appointment provided the great musician with a regular salary and very few obligations. In spite of the great economic and political instability in the empire, Mozart proved to be astonishingly productive. Narrating Mozart’s life and recreating the cultural atmosphere of these years, Wolff focuses on Mozart’s tremendous accomplishments during this time and not on those of his autumnal years, as so many biographers have done. Mozart’s major musical pieces from 1788 to 1791 include the Vienna production of Don Giovanni, with some newly composed material (1788), and the writing and premier of three new operas: CosI fan tutte (1790), La clemenza di Tito (1791), and Die Zauberflote (1791). Wolff demonstrates that Mozart’s tremendous influence on the history of music grows out of this period primarily because of Mozart’s ability to harness an extraordinary diversity of motives, rhythmic textures, and harmonic ideas into a focused, organic whole. Far from a time of resignation and hopelessness, Wolff argues, these years were a new beginning for Mozart, and the music of The Magic Flute and the Requiem represent a point of departure for genuinely new horizons.” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly 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 coverDiary of a mad fat girl.
If you’re a fan of Janet Evanovich, you’re going to love getting to know Gracelia “Ace” Jones. Ace is a feisty, sassy Southern lady, a Stephanie Plum-type character who, along with best friends Chloe and Linda, wrecks delicious havoc righting the wrongs in small-town Bugtussle. At the end of all the high jinks – some sleuthing. a little breaking and entering, a spot of dressing up as drag queens – the sisterhood expose the lies, the double-standards and dodgy goings-on in Bugtussle, Lots of fun – let’s hope we hear more of Ace and her friends in the future!

Syndetics book coverArcadia / Lauren Groff.
What happens when the ideal of the rural hippy life, full of warm, hard-working people with similar ideals and living off the land, fails to fulfil its promise? Bill Stone is a little boy, being lovingly raised by Adam and Hannah in Arcadia, a commune in the western reaches of New York State. But ideals are hard to live up to, and nothing lasts forever. As the 1960s progress, Arcadia becomes a magnet for people seeking the hippy experience, inevitably bringing the drugs, political debates and influences of the counter-culture movement that eventually destroy the dream. Core members leave – but adapting to the real world is harder for some than for others. Bill himself must find his place in this changed world. Lovely writing, apparently, and highly recommended by reviewers.

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Speak a different language with Mango

We’ve just added a free, interactive language-learning programme to our digital collection – Mango Languages.  Whether preparing for a trip, brushing up on old skills or just trying a new language for the love of it,  Mango is a fun, easy and effective way to learn.

One innovative (and let’s face it, potentially mortifying) feature is the ability to record yourself and compare your accent to native speakers.

Try Mango Languages now »

There are 49 languages to choose from, including:

  • Eiffel TowerSpanish
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Italian
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese

pirateThere are also 15 English as a Second Language courses  which include lessons for native speakers of Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Arabic, Russian, Greek, Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin), and Japanese.

Alternatively, if you somehow find yourself marooned in the Caribbean, roughly between the 16th and 19th centuries, you might want to give ‘Pirate’ a try.

To get started, you’ll need:

  • Your library card
  • A computer and an internet connection
  • Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher

Android users:  download the Mango app for free from Google Play
Apple iOs users: download the Mango app for free from iTunes

Here’s a YouTube tutorial to get you started: