Short stories at Central are on the move

Bibliomysteries book cover

Short stories at Wellington Central Library are being integrated into the general fiction collection. Authors’ short stories collections have always been a part of the browsing experience amidst the author’s other books on the fiction shelves; the anthologies and compilations are found by their title.

Here are some interesting fiction short story compilations, new and not so new, spanning a variety of subjects, themes, collections, countries and continents.  Closer to home, this year’s Matariki theme Te Ahi Ka – The Home Fires, relates to the title of our first anthology Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning. Great for the long winter evenings, these compilations will give readers something new to explore.


Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members Aotearoa/New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s international crime writing festival. This year New Zealand writers Fiona Sussman and Paul Cleave distinguished in the Ngaio Marsh awards are taking part.

Cli-fi : Canadian tales of climate change
“With the world facing the greatest global crisis of all time – climate change – personal and political indifference has wrought a series of unfolding complications that are altering our planet, and threatening our very existence. These stories of Climate Fiction (Cli-fi) feature perspectives by culturally diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works, and transcend traditional doomsday stories by inspiring us to overcome the bleak forecasted results of our current indifference.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Best British short stories
Best British Short Stories invites you to judge a book by its cover – or more accurately, by its title. This new series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere.” (Catalogue)

Australian short stories. No 66.
“After 65 issues of Australian Short Stories from 1982-2000 we are back with a sparkling new collection of stories. In this collection we feature Gillian Mears’ last story. We published Gillian’s first story when she was 23 and followed up with examples of her work for 16 years. There are also new stories by old favourites, Kim Scott, Carmel Bird and Barry Dickins plus a series of stories from writers in the early stages of their careers. Open at the first page and savour Australia.” (Catalogue)

Robots vs fairies
“It’s the ultimate death match between the mechanical and the magical! When the lasers cease firing and the fairy dust settles, who will triumph in these epic battles between the artificial and the supernatural? Choose a side…” (Catalogue)

Bibliomysteries : crime in the world of books and bookstores
“An anthology of specially commissioned stories set in literary venues includes contributions by such writers as Loren D. Estleman, Anne Perry, and Laura Lippman.” (Catalogue)

PEN America best debut short stories. 2017
Poets, Essayists and Novelists America promote literature and freedom of expression.  This collection features twelve authors from publications around the Unites States of America.  An interesting mix, with selection discussed by the editors behind their handpicked choices.


Wintery crime: Nordic Noir

The Man Who Died book cover

Exposing the shadowy side of Scandinavian life, these dark tales are gritty and unpredictable. This selection of recent titles from Scandinavia has authors from: Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Some are translated from the original, a couple feature writing partnerships that have created award winning television series, authors who have inspired movies and adaptations of classics in a modern setting.


The scarred woman / Jussi Adler-Olsen (from Denmark)
“The body of an elderly woman is found in a Copenhagen park, and since this book features Detective Carl Morck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, you can bet the case bears resemblance to an unsolved murder dating back a decade. The race is on, and if Morck doesn’t win this one, Department Q will be closed.” (Catalogue)

The silent girl : a Sebastian Bergman thriller /Michael Hjorth (from Sweden)
“An idyllic white, two-storey, beautiful house in Sweden. Inside, a family has been brutally murdered – mother, father and two young children all shot in broad daylight. And the killer has got away. Sebastian Bergman is at a dead end until he discovers a young girl saw it all happen has disappeared.  Bergman has to track the young girl down before it’s too late. But the killer is chasing her too – and he is determined to finish what he started.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The reckoning / Yrsa Sigurdardottir (from Iceland)
“In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait. This is the chilling message found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat… Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him busy and away from real police work. He turns to Freyja to help with the psychology of the child who hid the note. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.” (Catalogue)

Three minutes / Anders Roslund  (from Sweden)
Roslund & Hellstrom are a writing team consisting of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom. Follow the link to discover Roslund’s links to Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
“One-time Swedish government agent Piet Hoffmann is on the run: both from the life prison sentence, and from the Polish mafia. In order to survive, he ends up as bodyguard and hit man for the Colombian mafia, and is approached by the US DEA to infiltrate the same cartel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man who died / Antti Tuomainen  (Finland)
“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, markinng a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo (from Norway)
Adapted from the classic as part of the Hogarth Press Shakespeare series.  This grim retelling uses place as well as character to evoke the struggle of flawed individuals under the influence of the headiest of drugs, power. Macbeth is cast as an inspector unexpectedly finding himself in a place foretold by potion brewing sisters. ‘The Lady’ has her own designs on power both have laid out a path of disastrous consequences.

The girl in the woods / Camilla Läckberg  (from Sweden)
Popular author Camilla Lackberg has a series of books based in Fjllbacka as one of her creative pursuits.
“When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjllbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered. Detective Patrik Hedstrm starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.” (Catalogue)

The ice swimmer / Kjell Ola Dahl  (from Norway)
“When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated.  Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.” (Catalogue)

The shadow district / Arnaldur Indriðason (from Iceland)
“A 90-year-old man is found dead in his bed, smothered with his own pillow. On his desk the police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War, when a young woman was found strangled behind Reykjavik’s National Theatre. Konrad, a former detective, is bored with retirement, he grew up in “the shadow district” and remembers the crime. Why would someone be interested in that crime now? He starts his own unofficial enquiry.” (Catalogue)

Judge a vinyl by its colour?

Since 2016, Wellington vinyl lovers have been able to borrow records from the library. However, not all of our LPs are rendered in the traditional black. One of our staff members, Joe, checks out some of the more colourful items found among the shelves.


Soft sounds from another planet.
The sublime music of Japanese Breakfast makes its home among translucent cherry grooves. Restful ambience, cathartic vocals and flawless indie rock instrumentation are the mainstays of one of 2017’s most exquisite releases.

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.
Barnett’s studio debut delivers rollicking riffs and self-aware stream of consciousness lyricism. Barnett’s trademark delivery and lush arrangements are perfectly captured on yellow vinyl.

Bush.
After dabbling in reggae, the doggfather of hip-hop turned his attention to nostalgic, funky R&B grooves. Blue plastic transmits Snoop’s smooth autotuned vocals over slick Pharrell Williams production. Stevie Wonder even makes an appearance to deliver some iconic harmonica and vocals.

Blues and haikus / Jack Kerouac featuring Al Cohn and Zoot Sims.
Unlike the bulk of Kerouac’s fiction bibliography (which are kept safe at the fiction enquires desk), this recently re-released album can be found amongst the other items in the AV section. Kerouac waxes poetic on wax over jazz accompaniment.

Masseduction.
Futuristic pop with a digital pulse. St. Vincent delivers mysterious vocals and yet again proves her aptitude for unique melody. Opaque pink vinyl creates the perfect aesthetic for her intriguingly crafted tunes.

Lemonade.
Lemonade’s impressively constructed track list showcases Beyoncé’s virtuosic vocal talent over a tremendously wide range of musical styles. From gospel to county, from trap to reggae tinged R&B: it’s all here on lemon yellow vinyl.

Perfect body. / Mermaidens
The talented Wellington indie trio present their collection of ethereal tunes on satsuma orange vinyl. Pounding basslines, shoe-gazey riffs and passionate vocal performances populate the record.

Images courtesy of Turntable Lab, Fat Beats & Mermaidens. Used with permission.

Make it your Māori New Year’s resolution to learn more about Matariki and Puanga!

Wellington City Library starts Māori New Year 2018 with this updated selection of books about Matariki and Puanga. We have also included some useful links that will take you to informative websites and digital resources. As Matariki continues its resurgence, and becomes an increasingly important part of New Zealand’s calendar, make it your Māori New Year’s resolution to learn more about Matariki and Puanga!

Syndetics book coverMatariki : the star of the year / Rangi Matamua.
“In mid-winter, Matariki rises in the pre-dawn sky. Based on research and interviews with Maori experts, this book seeks answers to questions such as What is Matariki? Why did Maori observe Matariki? How did Maori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how should Matariki be celebrated?and explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense so it can be understood and celebrated in our modern society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPuanga, star of the Māori New Year: Ko Puanga-nui-ā-rangi te whetū mātāmua o te tau hou Māori: nānā i ārahi i ā Matariki tana tuahine tō muri iho / by Sam T. Rerekura. B.Ed., Dip. Tchg, Dip. Film & TV, Cert. Tertiary Teaching.
“Most of the tribes of the Maori people in Aotearoa observed Puanga to mark the beginning of the Maori New Year. Through the study of the oral literature we are able to gaze into the past to understand how Maori perceived the star Puanga in ancient times.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from FishpondMatariki : the Māori New Year / Libby Hakaraia.
“A general introduction to Matariki looking at: mythology, Maori and western perspectives; around the world – ancient constellation recognised in Greece (Pleiades) and in the Pacific (Matali’i, Mataliki, etc); celebrations; navigation;  planting and harvesting; and Matariki today – ways to celebrate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCelebrating the southern seasons : rituals for Aotearoa / Juliet Batten.
“In the tenth anniversary edition of this unique work, author Juliet Batten sheds more light on customs, symbols and meanings attached to seasonal changes. She reports on Matariki and other forms of celebration that New Zealanders have inherited, found, devised and adapted. She also suggests readings, myths and stories to enrich our holidays.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNight skies above New Zealand / Vicki Hyde.
“From the Matariki celebrations of the Maori new year to Captain Cook’s search for accurate longitude, people in Aotearoa/New Zealand have always looked to the skies. Night Skies Above New Zealand tells of our astronomical heritage from the early voyagers to the research being undertaken today. The book provides a thorough yet readable introduction to the skies of the southern hemisphere and current astronomical knowledge, from the formation of our solar system to the violent death of giant stars.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from FishpondTātai arorangi, Māori astronomy : Work of the gods / Kay Leather and Richard Hall. Kay Leather and Richard Hall explore astronomy through a Maōri lens.  Myth cycles are discussed and star charts are included along with a comprehensive glossary.

Syndetics book coverTe kāhui o Matariki : contemporary Māori art of Matariki / edited by Libby Hakaraia and Colleen Waata Urlich ; photography by Norman Heke.
“This beautifulbook contains contemporary artwork, photography, poetry and short writings including personal experiences of Matariki – the Maori New Year. It also contains an introduction and background to Matariki. The artists include painters, sculptors, photographers, weavers, and carvers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA concise encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend / Margaret Orbell.
“Based on The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Maori Myth and Legend this is a concise guide to Maori myths and legends, religious beliefs, folklore and history. More than 300 entries, arranged alphabetically, reveal the subtlety and complexity of the traditional Maori view of the world, and a large index provides cross-referencing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe taiao: Māori and the natural world.
“In this richly illustrated book, Maori scholars and writers share the traditional knowledge passed down the generations by word of mouth. It provides a unique window on the relationship of the people of this land with their environment, as well as the profound knowledge and necessary skills they needed to survive here.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seven sisters of the Pleiades : stories from around the world / Munya Andrews.
“The legends of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades that poets, priests, prophets, shamans, storytellers, artists, singers, and historians have told throughout time are retold in this compilation of the stories that have found their inspiration in nine beautiful stars clustered together in the night sky. Serious astronomical research complements the variety of mythological explanations for the stars’ existence by providing the modern world’s scientific understanding of them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Te mahi māra hua parakore : a Māori food sovereignty handbook / nā Jessica Hutchings.
“Jessica Hutchings (hua parakore gardener, activist, academic and certified Te Waka Kai Ora grower) explains the political implications of the decisions that we make about growing and eating kai. She encourages us to take control over the food security of our whanau, providing practical advice on how to grow kai in accordance with the kaupapa of hua parakore, inspiring us with stories of hua parakore heroes and reassuring us that becoming a hua parakore gardener is a journey that anyone can embark on.”(Syndetics summary)

Further books to explore:

The illustrated encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend / Margaret Orbell.

The astronomical knowledge of the Māori genuine and empirical : including data concerning their systems of astrogeny, astrolatry, and natural astrology, with notes on certain other natural phenomena / by Elsdon Best.

Māori agriculture : the cultivated food plants of the natives of New Zealand : with some account of native methods of agriculture, its ritual and origin myths / by Elsdon Best.

Matariki : te whetũ o te tau=Aotearoa Pacific New Year.

Useful websites:

Te Ara: The Encylopaedia of New Zealand: Matariki

Ministry for Culture and Heritage: Matariki

Te Papa: Matariki

NASA: The Pleiades

Readers Choice fiction selections

Reviews from library patrons are a great way to find out what people have loved reading from the new additions to the fiction collection. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Here are some recent reviews featuring an interesting mix of subjects and genres: mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, humour, psychological fiction, thrillers and New Zealand environmental activism.

The changeling : a novel / LaValle, Victor D.Book Jacket for: The changeling : a novel
“This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent. An unusual voice, but marvellous blend of modernity and fairy-tale, with powerful themes and insight.  Very Satisfying.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Stranded

Stranded / MacLeod, Bracken
“Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was suspenseful, gripping and well researched. Doesn’t lean on the numerous clichés of the horror genre which makes it so engaging.  A great read!” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Hanna who fell from the skyHanna who fell from the sky / Meades, Christopher
“With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world–and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “What a well written novel, thoroughly enjoyed it, well worth reading. Never read any of Meades novels before would love to read more of his material.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: The last hoursThe last hours / Walters, Minette
“When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Well written, engaging, couldn’t put down – read all night. Can’t wait for the sequel this year.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: EurekaEureka / Quinn, Anthony
“Summer, 1967. As London shimmers in a heat haze and swoons to the sound of Sergeant Pepper, a mystery film – Eureka – is being shot by German wunderkind Reiner Kloss. The screenwriter, Nat Fane, would do anything for a hit but can’t see straight for all the acid he’s dropping.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Was an enjoyable read, especially in it’s evocation of London in the ‘swinging sixties’.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: KrusoKruso / Seiler, Lutz
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was compelling.  Via fantasy and fact Seiler deftly weaves a story about East German idealists, refugees and escapists told through the perspective of a challenged young man” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eye of the songbird / Munro, Michael
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world’s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land, Antarctica?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A highly relevant New Zealand thriller with it’s plot centred on one of the big issues of the day; climate change.  Highly recommended” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The miranda : a novel / Nicholson, G. J.
“The Miranda is at turns a biting satire about the secrets we keep from our neighbors, and about the invisible and unceasing state of war in which most Westerners unconsciously live.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was like a Coen Brothers movie: darkly satirical. The detachment of the protagonist is key to this novel – he was a psychologist turned government agent training operatives to withstand torture. He is not disaffected, quite the reverse, but he is clinical , perceptive and interesting. A good dark read.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Classic rock songs inspired by books

It’s been a long established way of working in the creative world to look at other artistic spheres for inspiration, and this has very much been the case with musicians and literature. So with that fact in mind, we have compiled 20 songs or albums that have been inspired by novels. And in true music chart style we are going to post them as a double two-part gatefold blog. One with classic stars of rock and pop and one alternative and indie. So, pop pickers, our first cross over top ten is the classic artists!

Syndetics book coverAnimal farm ; 1984 / George Orwell.
David Bowie’s classic Diamond Dogs album was originally supposed to be the soundtrack for a musical based on George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984, but the Orwell estate had different ideas and soon put a stop to that.

Syndetics book coverThe fellowship of the ring : being the first part of the Lord of the Rings / by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Mega-decadent 70s rockers Led Zeppelin had a big interest in the occult and all things relating to J.R.R. Tolkien, with references to The Lord of the Rings in many of their songs. Perhaps the most obvious was ‘Ramble On’ from their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II which was their musical take on The Fellowship of the Ring. Seemingly Robert Plant was later very embarrassed by the lyrics.

Syndetics book coverWuthering heights / Emily Brontë ; with an introduction by Katherine Frank.
‘Wuthering Heights’ was Kate Bush’s debut single, released in 1978. Kate Bush was only 18 when she wrote her career starting smash hit single after watching the last ten minutes of a BBC miniseries of Wuthering Heights.

Syndetics book coverFrankenstein,or The modern Prometheus / Mary Shelley.
Mega smash hit ‘China in Your Hand’ by eighties soft rockers T’Pau was inspired by Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Incidentally, T’Pau took their band name from a Vulcan elder of the same name in the sci-fi series Star Trek.

Syndetics book coverThe master and Margarita / by Mikhail Bulgakov ; translated from the Russian by Mirra Ginsburg.
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones was inspired by Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Reportedly the book was given to Mick Jagger by Marianne Faithfull, with the song previously called ‘The Devil is My Name’ and ‘Fallen Angels’ in earlier versions.

Syndetics book coverSelected poems / Robert Burns ; edited by Carol McGuirk.
‘One Brown Mouse’ by Jethro Tull was inspired by the poem ‘To A Mouse’ by Robert Burns. ‘One Brown Mouse’ appeared on Blackpool rock band Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horses album.

Syndetics book coverThe hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy : a trilogy in four parts / Douglas Adams.
‘Paranoid Android’, a darkly humorous single from Radiohead’s OK Computer, was inspired by The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The android in question was Marvin, the original paranoid android.

Syndetics book coverThe Wizard of Oz / L. Frank Baum ; illustrated by David McKee.
‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ by Elton John was written by Elton John’s long-term song writer Bernie Taupin. Taupin said The Wizard of Oz was the first film he ever saw, and in the lyrics he wanted to reflect on his need to “get back to his roots”. It is regarded by many as one of Elton John’s finest songs.

Syndetics book coverThe essential Paradise lost / [abridged, compiled and with supplementary content by] John Carey.
‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, from their 1994 album Let Love In, was inspired by Paradise Lost by Milton. The hand in question refers to the vengeful hand of God. The song has subsequently been much covered by the likes of by Iggy Pop, PJ Harvey, Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys and many others.

Syndetics book coverThe invisible man / by H.G. Wells ; adapted by Rick Geary.
‘The Invisible Man’ from the album The Miracle by Queen, was inspired by The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, written by drummer Roger Taylor and credited to the band. It has the curious fact of being the only Queen song in which all the members of the band are mentioned by name in the track.

Staff pick DVDs for the year so far

Loving Vincent

Plenty of gritty police drama in this lot of Staff Pick DVDs for the first few months of the year. Also featured is the adaptation of James Corey’s Expanse novels, a unique film that uses thousands of original oil paintings based on Vincent Van Gogh’s works to create an animated feature about the artist, the Italian social critique Perfect Strangers, and historical drama from books by Peter Ackroyd & Thomas Cullinan.

The expanse. Season one.
It has vastly superior production standards, it looks fabulous and is way better acted, but for many reasons ‘The Expanse’ reminds me of Babylon 5 . They both take a little while to get going but they eventually lead somewhere and once they get there they both deal with really intriguing ideas, they both contain a big secret plot device not immediately apparent for the outset and perhaps most noticeable they both contain complex Chandleresque characters. If these elements appeal to you then ‘The Expanse’ is well worth checking out. [Based on the novels by James Corey]. (Neil J.)

The sinner. Season one.
‘The Sinner’ follows a young mother (Jessica Biel) who, while on a day trip with her husband and son to a public beach, stabs a man to death has no idea why. She confesses immediately and is charged with murder, but dogged investigator (Bill Pullman) finds himself obsessed with uncovering the woman’s buried motive, and together they travel a harrowing journey into the depths of her psyche and the violent secrets hidden in her past. The story is tense and intriguing, a different and surprising take on a crime story. Biel is excellent. Based on a novel by a little translated German female crime writer. (Mark)

Baywatch.
If you were a fan of Baywatch back in the 90s and you miss that level of action and cheese you will not be disappointed! Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron are a ridiculously hilarious combination of abs and humour that will have you shaking your head with laughter. This movie is exactly what it claims to be utterly outrageous and funny. (Jess)

Loving Vincent.
Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s ‘Loving Vincent’ is clearly a labour of love a seven year labour of love at that. The film is unique in that it uses thousands of original oil paintings based on Vincent Van Gogh’s works to create an animated feature about the artist. The film skilfully avoids just being a swirling, visually stunning piece of Vincent Van Gogh eye candy (which it is). By examining different perspectives on Vincent’s life from his close friends, family and colleagues and the many questions surrounding his death. (Neil J.)

Bosch. Season three.
The 3rd season of this American police-procedural adapts Michael Connelly’s novels The Black Echo and elements of A Darkness More Than Night. The story involves multiple plot lines as Bosch is involved in the upcoming trial of a wealthy movie director accused of murdering a woman during sex, as well as investigating the death of a homeless Military Vet that takes on a greater complexity. In his personal life his daughter is now living with him and, having solved his mother’s murder in the preceding season, he now struggles to contain the anger that has always fuelled him. The added characterisation of the supporting cast has strengthened the show beyond the tropes of the first season, and while there may be nothing that is really innovative about the show, or the plots, it is all so expertly acted and written (helmed by Eric Overmyer — who worked on the final two seasons of The Wire and then co-created Tremé) that it sets a new benchmark in TV Cop shows. (Mark)

The Andromeda strain.
Just recently the very welcome rerelease on DVD of the 1971 alien virus Robert Wise, Michael Crichton science fiction classic The Andromeda strain occurred. Despite its age and slightly corny 70’s fashion sense this film remains a flawlessly acted, brilliantly scripted, chillingly realised and thoroughly engaging work. And what’s more there isn’t a CGI effect anywhere to be seen as they were at that point just a glint in George Lucas’s eyes. (Neil J.)

Line of duty. Series four.
If ‘Bosch’ is currently the best US Police-procedural on TV, then ‘Line of Duty’ is certainly the best English one. An anti-corruption drama it follows the exploits of AC-12, a unit that investigates suspicious activities within the Police itself. In a career-defining case, DCI Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), is under intense pressure from her superiors to apprehend a serial murderer after months of fruitless investigation. When a young man is charged doubts around his guilt lead the chief forensic investigator to AC-12. Is Roz ignoring forensic evidence that might prove the young man’s innocence? As AC-12 pile on pressure from the outside, Roz is forced to act to stop her life from unravelling, but just how far will she go? Totally gripping crime drama, with Newton in top form. Highly recommended. [Note: Season 1 of this show was released in NZ, and we were able to have Season 4 cross-rated from Australia due to its lower classification Rating. However Seasons 2-3 have not been distributed for release in this country]. (Mark)

Murder on the Orient Express.
Kenneth Branagh’s recent remake of Murder on the Orient express had many admirers and made a ton of money (and is available to borrow here). However for me the 1974 Sidney Lumet version (recently rereleased ) is the definitive celluloid adaptation of this much loved classic. It features a truly Stella cast including amongst others Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Sean Connery it positively glitters with Hollywood glamour. It’s a warm, friendly, comforting, old fashioned kind of a film that reminds me of lazy Boxing day afternoons with my family. (Neil J.)

Perfect strangers.
Sharing cell phone messages and calls with others doesn’t sound like a good idea but at the eclipse night, seven friends (three couples and a man whose new partner is not able to attend) agree to do it over the course of dinner party, because they are long-time best friends and have nothing to hide. Italian director Paolo Genovese’s loquacious ensemble comedy is a study of morality in the iPhone era. Inevitably their ‘secrets and lies’ are revealed one after another and their relationships are severely tested. Genovese’s clever plot, together with fantastic performances by all actors, makes it a funny yet touching, wonderfully entertaining drama. Brilliant. (Shinji)

The tunnel. Series 2, Sabotage.
The Anglo-French adaption of the Danish/Swedish series ‘The Bridge’ was the first series in British and French television to be bilingual, a collaboration of British broadcaster Sky and French broadcaster Canal+. The first season (essentially a remake of the Swedish/Danish production) is still enjoyable, if you have watched the original, due to the quality of the production and the talent of the 2 leads, Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy as British and French police detectives Karl Roebuck and Elise Wassermann.
Season 2 of ‘The Tunnel’ however is where the series diverges with a completely different storyline. Following the events of the first series, Karl & Elise are reunited to investigate the kidnapping of a small child from the Channel Tunnel train, which soon evolves into a domestic terrorist investigation after a planes autopilot system is hacked, forcing it to crash into the English Channel, killing all on board. The 3rd and final series of the show has just been completed. An overlooked show, perhaps due to the ‘remake’ nature of the first season which can’t really compete with the Swedish/Danish tour-de-force, but this is quality TV and deserves to be judged on its own merits. Recommended. (Mark)

The Limehouse Golem.
There is no sign of restraint in Juan Carlos Medina’s adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s fantastic book Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem. This is a lurid, melodramatic and gory retelling of this Victorian, gothic, murder, mystery tale. If however you are a fan of the theatrical bloody period piece epitomised by some of the best Hammer Horror films, or enjoyed the more recent Crimson Peak then there is much to be enjoyed here in this Grand Guignol over the top production. (Neil J.)

The beguiled.
During the American Civil War, a wounded Union Army corporal is brought to the seminary for young ladies in the enemy territory Virginia, leading to sexual tension and crushes. Sofia Coppola’s latest work is a Civil War setting period drama based on Thomas Cullinan’s novel, and it’s a subtle study of shifting the power balance in a closed environment. Although it’s bleak and rather atmospheric, Coppola still offers her characteristic aesthetic; gorgeous – if Vogue featured ‘Southern Gothic’ it would be like this – production design, costume and camerawork elegantly using both natural and artificial lights, with a starry cast (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell). This is Coppola’s most low-key work but it proves that she is one of the best American auteurs today. (Shinji)

Cardinal. The complete first season.
Another strong police-procedural, this one differentiated by its setting of Algonquin Bay in rural Ontario, Canada. This six episode Canadian TV crime drama is an adaptation of Giles Blunt’s award winning novel Forty Words for Sorrow, the first entry in his series about Police Detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme. Demoted Detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) is brought back into Homicide when the hunch he wouldn’t let go is proven correct, and a young Native American girl is found encased in ice. Now, as he relentlessly tracks a serial killer who preys on missing young people he must keep a watchful eye on his new partner, Detective Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who he believes may have a secret agenda that leads back to one of his past cases, while coping with his wife being institutionalised after a bi-polar episode. Atmospheric, intense and intriguing. Definitely something different. Recommended. (Mark)

Let’s Boogie: Dance movies

NZ Dance Week is coming up (April 21 – 29) and Central Library is offering some evening events to celebrate it. For more details about the events, see our NZDW blog post. To get you in the mood, check out these DVDs and get ready to boogie!


La la land.
“Mia, an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian, a jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Billy Elliot.
“Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/’85 miner’s strikes. Billy’s journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Hip hop-eration.
“These senior citizens may each be almost a century young, but for Kara, (94) Maynie, (95) and Terri (93), the journey to Las Vegas and the World Hip Hop Dance Championships is just the beginning of a life’s journey. Along with twenty-four other nonagenarians they defy the odds and hip-hop their way into the hearts and minds of thousands of young fans from around the world. Along the way we hear how these extraordinary characters contributed to New Zealand as we know it. Their stories are a reminder of our history as a nation and the joy of living life to the fullest.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPina.
“A film about the life and work of Pina Bausch, dancer and choreographer, who died in 2009 which features some of her greatest choreographies as performed by her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The red shoes.
“Film of the ballet based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of a young girl who cannot stop thinking about her red dancing shoes. In this modern version, Vicky Page finds herself caught between simple human passion and artistic devotion to the ballet.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSwing time.
“Fred Astaire plays a gambler intent on raising $25,000 in New York in order to marry his fiance back home. Romantic complications occur when he meets dancing teacher, Ginger Rogers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The dancer
“French singer/actress Soko and Lily-Rose Depp lead a star-studded cast in Stephanie Di Giustos spectacularly mounted screen biography, inspired by the true story of two rival pioneers of modern dance and theatrical performance in late 19th-century Paris. Nothing in her background destined Loe Fuller (Soko) to become the toast of the Belle Epoque cabarets or to perform at the Paris Opera. However, meeting with Isadora Duncan (Depp) a beautiful young prodigy hungry for glory that threatened everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Shall we dance?.
A funny comedy set in Japan about a middle aged discontented workaholic who find his passion – and himself in ballroom dancing. A hilarious and highly recommended film! (Katie)

Footloose.
“A city boy comes to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Black swan.
In order for prima ballerina, Nina to embrace her dark side for her role as the white and black swan in Swan Lake, she loses grip on reality, as well as herself. Overall a gripping film that will have you on edge from start to finish and visualises the dark side of dance and ballet. It is also nice to see a darker and provocative side of Natalie Portman and is a welcome change from the sweet, innocent girly roles she has previously played. (Katie)

Strictly ballroom.
Things get messy in the world of Australian ballroom dancing – and dance politics when a championship ballroom dancer and his ugly duckling dance partner decide to compete together and break all the rules in dancing. Directed by Baz Luhrmann and part of “the red curtain trilogy”*, Strictly Ballroom is a great film with awesome dance moves, a killer soundtrack and a true celebration of dancing. [*The Red Curtain Trilogy has been described by Luhrmann as following a specific filmmaking technique, not necessarily a trilogy in the traditional sense. The Red Curtain Trilogy is the title given to the first three films directed by Baz Luhrmann: Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge]. (Katie)

NZDW 2018 - Dance movies

Modern Bodies: The Best of Dance Biographies

No art form better captures the passion and politics of humanity than dance. From the Soviet-American ballet rivalry of the Cold War to the rise of Lindy Hop in 1920s Harlem to the emergence of waacking from the LGBTQI clubs of 1970s LA, dance explores—and occasionally crosses—boundaries of nation, culture, gender and sexuality. New Zealand is no exception, and as part this year’s Dance Week we’ve got Dancing Through the Pages, a series of talks and performances by Wellington-based dancers and artists. And if you can’t wait until then, we’ve also got some great dance biographies, from Vaslav Nijinsky to Michael Jackson and beyond!


Syndetics book coverNijinsky / Lucy Moore.
“The first major biography for forty years tells the tragic story of ballet’s great revolutionary, Nijinsky. ‘He achieves the miraculous,’ the sculptor Auguste Rodin wrote of Vaslav Nijinsky. He embodies all the beauty of classical frescoes and statues. Like so many since, Rodin recognised that in Nijinsky classical ballet had one of the greatest and most original artists of the twentieth century, in any genre.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverModern bodies : dance and American modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey / Julia L. Foulkes.
“In 1930, dancer and choreographer Martha Graham proclaimed the arrival of “dance as an art of and from America.” Through their art, modern dancers challenged conventional roles and images of gender, sexuality, race, class and regionalism. Modern Bodies exposes the social dynamics that moved modern dance to the edges of society, a place both provocative and perilous.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverJosephine Baker / written by José-Louis Bocquet ; art by Catel Muller ; historical consultant, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker.
“Josephine Baker was 19 years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier and Simenon. After World War II, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered. She would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverHe’s got rhythm : the life and career of Gene Kelly / Cynthia Brideson & Sara Brideson.
“He sang and danced in the rain, proclaimed New York to be a wonderful town and convinced a group of Parisian children that they had rhythm. One of the most influential and respected entertainers of Hollywood’s golden age, Gene Kelly revolutionized film musicals with his innovative and timeless choreography.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverDarcey Bussell / Darcey Bussell.
“Darcey Bussell is widely considered to be one of the greatest English ballerinas of all time. Her stellar career spanned two decades of magnificent dance where she worked with Dame Margot Fonteyn, observed an aging Nureyev, crossed swords with rival prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem, argued the finer points of technique with Sir Kenneth MacMillan and danced for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverMoonwalk / Michael Jackson.
Moonwalk is the only book about his life that Michael Jackson ever wrote. It chronicles his humble beginnings in the Midwest, his early days with the Jackson 5 and his unprecedented solo success.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverAmerica dancing : from the cakewalk to the moonwalk / Megan Pugh.
“An exuberant history of American dance, told through the lives of virtuoso performers who have defined the art. The history of American dance reflects the nation’s tangled culture. Dancers from wildly different backgrounds learned, imitated and stole from one another. Audiences everywhere embraced the result as deeply American.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverRemembering Nureyev : the trail of a comet / Rudi van Dantzig ; translation by Katie de Haan.
“Famously volatile, fickle in his passions for people, but with astonishing charisma onstage and off, Rudolf Nureyev is regarded as one of the greatest male ballet dancers of the twentieth century. This is a book balletomanes cannot miss, with an eagle-eyed sharpness that never dissolves into hagiography or gossip.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

April’s Most Wanted

Want to know what the most popular reads are in Wellington? Then this is the list for you! Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, you name it. Place your reserves and get in line because these were the top 10 most reserved books this month!

10. Syndetics book coverLullaby / Leïla Slimani ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor
“When Myriam, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, their  idyllic tableau is shattered.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

9. Syndetics book coverSalt, fat, acid, heat : mastering the elements of good cooking / by Samin Nosrat 
“With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Featuring illustrations and infographics that reveal an atlas to the world of flavor, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will be your compass in the kitchen. Destined to be a classic, it just might be the last cookbook you’ll ever need.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

8. Syndetics book coverPriestdaddy / Patricia Lockwood.Priestdaddy: A Memoir
“Interviewing emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence, from an ill-fated family trip and an abortion clinic, to her involvement in a cult-like youth group, with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. She pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

7. Syndetics book coverLost connections : uncovering the real causes of depression– and the unexpected solutions / Johann Hari.
“Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate and learned that almost everything we have been told is wrong. His TED talk has been viewed more than 8 million times and revolutionized the global debate. This book will do the same.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

6. Syndetics book coverThe subtle art of not giving a fuck : a counterintuitive approach to living a good life / Mark Manson.
“In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Manson says. He tells it like it is–a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

5. Syndetics book coverEducated : a memoir / Tara Westover
“Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, her quest for knowledge took her, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. An account of the struggle for self-invention, fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties, she has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers. The perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

4. Syndetics book coverDrawn out : a seriously funny memoir / Tom Scott.
“Tom Scott is a political commentator, cartoonist, satirist, scriptwriter, playwright, raconteur and funny man. He’s been drawing political cartoons for Wellington’s Dominion Post since 1988, was in the Press Gallery and was famously banned by PM Muldoon. His memoir covers his childhood – a tragi-comedy of a poor Irish Catholic family, his uni days when he was editor of the student newspaper and sued for blasphemous libel, his parliamentary career, his work with Ed Hillary and more.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

3. Syndetics book cover12 rules for life : an antidote to chaos / Jordan B. Peterson ; foreword by Norman Doidge ; illustrations by Ethan Van Scriver
“Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

2. Syndetics book coverDriving to Treblinka : a long search for a lost father / Diana Wichtel.
“Raised in Canada, her mother a Catholic New Zealander and her father a Polish Jew who miraculously survived the Holocaust. When she’s thirteen, her life changes dramatically as her mother whisks her and her sister and brother away to New Zealand. Their father is to follow but she never sees him again. This unforgettable narrative of her search for answers, is also a deep reflection on the meaning of family, the trauma of loss, and the insistence of memory.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

1. Syndetics book coverThe diary of a bookseller / Shaun Bythell.
“Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books, introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)