Who’s reading what at the Fringe Festival?

Fringe Fest programmesJust in case you hadn’t spotted the bright pink posters and brochures all over the city, we feel it’s our duty to let you know the NZ Fringe Festival is taking place all over Wellington right now until March 24th. It’s an exciting time for the Wellington arts and culture scene, and features all sorts of events and performances, from theater, music and dance, to spoken word poetry, Snapchat storytelling and improv comedy. There are over 130 shows in this year’s Fringe program (whaaat! That’s so many!) and shows to suit all tastes. We thought we would speak to a handful of the talented people involved in the festival and delve into the things they’ve been reading, watching and listening to between rehearsals.

Jennifer O'SullivanJennifer O’Sullivan is an improviser and producer making things happen around the city, including the NZ Improv Festival – mark 20-27 October 2018 in your diaries now!

“I’m re-reading Terry Pratchett at the moment. I started re-reading the Tiffany Aching books, which are my favourite ones, then I thought, I’ll go read some of the other ones! So I’ve read The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, now I’m reading Mort. I’m also listening to Harry Potter on audiobook, which is really great, and I listen to a lot of podcasts as well. I’ve been watching Jane the Virgin, it’s fantastic prep for the soap opera actually, because it’s all tele-novella drama. I’ve been watching Star Trek Voyager, which is the only older Star Trek which has grabbed me immediately. It must be something to do with Captain Janeway.”

Check out Jen’s Fringe show Awkward Threesome (until 16th March), her guest spot in Ramshackle & Kitsch (Sunday 18th March), her hosting of Flustercluck (Saturday 24th), and Mirror Miramar, a 10 hour improvised soap opera set in a library, where Jen plays librarian-slash-Meals on Wheels deliverer Lillian Redwood. We can’t wait for that one!

Matt PowellMatt Powell is an improviser and software developer, “which is odd” he says. He is performing in and producing three shows for Fringe – Just Duet (which has unfortunately already finished its run), Awkward Threesome, along with Jen O’Sullivan, and the marathon improv event Mirror Miramar.

“Right now I am re-reading William Gibson‘s The Peripheral, which is a very cool novel about augmented reality and causality and time travel and crime. It’s very interesting science fiction. I have recently binge watched all of Queer Eye and seen Black Panther multiple times, both of those are very highly recommended for anyone with eyes and a nervous system. I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks while I’m writing software, I have a big playlist full of them. Podcast-wise, I’m really enjoying Punch Up the Jam where two comedians-slash-Vine stars take a well-loved piece of music, dissect it and figure out how to make it better. A good episode to start with is “Welcome To The Jungle”, the Guns N’ Roses song, or Ludacris “What’s Your Fantasy”.”

Eamonn MarraEamonn Marra is a writer, comedian and storyteller. His Fringe show is called 2,000 Feet Above Worry Level and each night he will be reading a selection of stories from his new book. Check it out at BATS until Saturday 17 March.

“I just finished Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam. I saw him in the Writers’ Festival, that was a really great session. I was about halfway through his book when I went, and finished the rest of it quite fast after that. I looked at my bookshelf the day before the Ockhams were announced and thought, I should start reading Brannavan’s book, got it off the shelf, and then the next morning and it was shortlisted for the Ockhams. I’m just about to start The New Animals by Pip Adam, which has also been shortlisted, and I read Baby when it first came out, so I’m really excited about those. I’ve been listening to a lot of Mitski, which is also the music before and after my show. When I was finishing my masters all I did was listen to Mitski’s Puberty 2 for eight hours a day, because that was the only music I could write to. I’ve been listening to that again to get back into the headspace. I watched Search Party – I haven’t seen the second season yet – and I rewatched the movie Creep the other day, which is really cool, and I saw Black Panther.”

Fringe fest

Staff Picks CDs: The Best of 2017 Part 2

From our very own Wellington bands to Kendrick Lamar and soundtracks, check out more of our best music picks of 2017!

Mark’s Picks

Patriotic grooves. [VINYL]
Awesome anarcho-punk feminist diatribe against everything from Trump to neo-liberal politics, capitalism, misogyny, patriarchal violence, oppression, misogyny, transmisogyny, sexism, and cissexism. If this sounds didactic it’s not. It’s just relevant and timely. Also has great tunes that channel all the best elements of the classic Riot grrrl aesthetic.

Miles Calder & the Rumours.
Following on from their 2013 EP ‘The Crossing Over’, which was nominated for the 2014 NZ Taite Music Prize, Miles Calder & The Rumours deliver their eponymous debut 5 years after forming as a band. The culmination of a couple of years work, the self-produced album was engineered by Lee Prebble but mixed by Grammy-award winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, and features a large array of local talent (Lisa Tomlins, Ed Zuccollo, Dayle Jellyman, Finn Johansson, Chris Winter, Matthew Benton and Lucien Johnson) who add musical shadings from piano to horns to organ on various tracks. From the first track it’s easy to see just how much the songs benefit from the richness of sound the studio environment provides, and there’s a consistent calibre of songwriting across the whole album.

Dark arts / The Nudge. [VINYL]
The 2nd album from The Nudge only has 3 tracks, one of which clocks in at 13 minutes, the other at 24. The four minute opening title track (and single) is just a hint of the genre mashing that is about happen, but provides a basic reference point for the bands diverse sound. If you’re not enamoured with anything vaguely ‘prog’ and hate tracks that are basically longer that 3 and half minutes, be prepared to have your opinion changed by this addictive record. With relatively few vocal interludes, it’s all about the structure of the sound here and they manage to weave in out of different styles and atmospheres within the same track with nothing feeling overly laboured or obvious. All the tonal shifts seem like smaller songs within the larger canvas of the track and by the end of 13 or 24 minutes they leave you wanting more not less.

The weight of melted snow.
Lovely new meditative album from French For Rabbits based around the dissolution of the romantic relationship of band members Brooke Singer and John Fitzgerald. Male vocals provide a counterpoint to Singer’s softly lilting voice, and the dreamy atmospheric ambient sounds that the fully fleshed out band provides. Previous albums have drawn inspiration from nature and the physical, but ‘The Weight of Melted Snow’ while not short of imagery of the natural world is all about the internal, the dynamics of the heart and how to keep it beating when you lose part of it.

If you’re born on an island the ocean heals you.
With the exception of bass and drums on a few tracks and backing vocals everything is played by Lake, along with all the writing and arrangements. The synthy pop structure of a lot of the tracks enfold the layered vocals (and lovely backing voices of Seamus Maguire, Penelope Esplin, Felicity Herbertson and Nadia Reid) with a sense of warmth rather than cold beats. He uses a distinctively ‘kiwi’ voice on the brilliant ‘Good Keen Man’ that cleverly updates a series of iconic NZ images with the realities of the now. A mini-album exits within the larger work, with ‘Renters’ & ‘The Cost of Living’ addressing what he sees as the social crises’ facing people in NZ today. A love of nature, the land and the beauty that surrounds us pervades against the avarice and capitalism of modern life.

When you heard that Luke Buda & Tom Callwood (Phoenix Foundation) were teaming up with David Long (The Mutton Birds), & Anthony Donaldson (The Labcoats) you could be forgiven for thinking that the result would be more along the experimental spectrum. But Teeth turn up the indie guitar dynamics to just rock out, in a straight ahead way that differs from its members previous bands. You get the feeling that the entirety of Teeth is a great palette cleanser for everyone involved. Trippy guitars, riffy bass lines, shimmery reverby vocals, songs that bounce from the cosmic to the angsty to tongue in cheek and back. Every song is so catch & melodic it’s hard to pick highlights but ‘Glass Ceiling’ & the wry ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’ are both super fun.

Super funky new album from Lord Echo. A melange of analogue dance floor grooves that take in everything from ‘Rebirth of the Cool’ Acid Jazz, Caribbean disco vibe, African funk, classic American R&B and back. The ever awesome Mara TK takes vocal duties on 4 tracks, with Lisa Tomlins on 2, and Toby Laing & Echo himself on one each. Lucien Johnson’s sax & flute float around the beats with Daniel Hayes synth’s. It all somehow meshes into a groove that becomes more than the sum of its parts and the funky retro-ness always seems genuine and never a deliberate pastiche.

As with listening to Into Orbit’s debut album ‘Caverns’ it still seems amazing that the group just consists of two people, guitarist Paul Stewart and drummer Ian Moir, as their immersive soundscapes sound so epic. The hybrid post-rock/metal/experimental template of the first album is expanded on. Elements shift up against each other, heavy guitar riffs meld into moments of calm and delicate playing, only to explode into crushing drums. But it’s not just a series of loud/quiet/loud moments tied together as ‘tracks’. Into Orbit never seem to be welded into a particular set definition of what each track should be in terms of sound and atmospherics, and the subtle layering of complex patterns & textures make each track a unique experience.

Fantastic new album from Auckland based Amelia Murray (AKA Fazerdaze). Fuzzy guitars, programmed drum patterns and the odd sinewy keyboard line make up the sonic palette of most tracks, but her sweet airy vocals soar over all of it. The shimmery reverby guitars invoke a summery sense of well being, but the ‘poppy’ musical framework hides a lyrical disillusionment and uncertainty. A pervading sense of anxiety permeates nearly every track, inhabiting every relationship and interaction, and hovering cloudlike over the future itself.

Fantastic next level sophomore album from Grayson Gilmour, filled with superbly textured sounds and catchy melodies. His voice is moved up in the mix so it floats upon the layers of often dichotomous sound he builds into the tracks. There is an almost academic level of focus on the soundscapes & chord structures but it is more an organic exploration rather than fussy cleverness, and moulded around the album’s overarching themes of growth and acceptance.

The songs on ‘Ennui’ form themselves through shifting styles, overriding an easy definition or pigeon-holing, subsuming genres, metres, keys, & vocal styles into the original narratives of each of the songs rather than being in service of them. With 3 vocalists at play and elements of everything really from post-hardcore/sludge, psych Rock, post-Rock, stoner riffs, desert rock, doom layers it’s impossible to delineate the trajectory of each track adequately, suffice to say that each is challenging and complex and overall it’s an alum that reveals its musical and emotional layers after repeated immersion.

Perfect body.
Vibrant second album from the Mermaidens trio scored a flurry of great reviews upon its release, and rightly so. The tracks wind in and out of indie rock influences (newer bands like Warpaint, and older classic exponents like Sleater Kinney), elements of shoegaze , brighter Britpop, & echoy layers of early Cure’s goth. As a whole the album sounds fantastic, the breathy vocals merging perfectly with the dense drum patterns and creeping sinuous guitar lines, creating a cavernous sound that builds and releases. The precision of the music is aligned with the murky melodicism of the vocals which shift between an intense attack and detached emotion, as they dissect the juxtaposition of animalistic physicality and the sensory experience of the natural, with the pressure of the modern digital world of social media, fractured relationships and uncertain interactions. Bold and accomplished, enigmatic and intense at the same time. Continue reading “Staff Picks CDs: The Best of 2017 Part 2”

Staff Picks DVDs: The best of 2017

A round-up of our favourite library DVDs from last year (plus a couple from early this year that made the cut). We hope you find something new, or something you missed from last year.

Mark’s Picks:
Billions. Season two.
Billions sees Damian Lewis as Bobby Axelrod, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Paul Giamatti as U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes, determined to bring him down. Season 2 begins with Bobby attempting to rebuild Axe Capital after the events of Season 1. Meanwhile Rhodes is under scrutiny from the Attorney General for his previous investigation into Axelrod’s business dealings. Each manoeuvre’s to gain the upper hand and destroy the other amidst a background of inside deals, political gameplay, money, and influence. Season 2 is all about short stocks and long cons, but who is playing who? Machiavellian brinkmanship taken to it’s end point with millions of dollars, reputations and careers to be won or lost.

Homeland. The complete sixth season.
Homeland is back for another season taking place several months after Season 5. The season features the results of a presidential election of a female candidate, and takes place between Election Day and inauguration day, as CIA operatives Saul Berenson and Dar Adal begin to suspect that the new President Elect has an anti-intelligence bias and that Carrie may be helping shape her policy. A more personal season as the attacks on Carrie become more insidious, the show also follows an eerie parallel to the current US political climate, and a fascinating look at the topical political manipulation via Social Media platforms.

Trapped. The complete series one.
A ferry carrying 300 passengers from Denmark pulls into an Icelandic town’s small port, just as a heavy snow storm begins. Then a mutilated and dismembered body washes on the shore, an unidentifiable man murdered only hours ago. The local police chief, Andri, realizes a killer has descended into his town.The local police are told to wait until a crack police team can arrive from the capital city of Reykjavik to do the investigations, but then the corpse goes missing and dead bodies start to turn up – all linked to a mysterious fire that destroyed an abandoned factory & killed a local teenage girl 15 years previously… More great Scandi-Noir.

Sixty-six safes belonging to high-level members of industry, finance, the military, the magistracy, politics, & unions are robbed during a spectacular and heist on an influential private Bank in Brussels. Soon an unparalleled blackmail scheme is underway to destroy the country’s entire political system. Doggedly honest Euro-cop Inspector Paul Gerardi catches a rumour of the bank robbery from an informant, and when his informant later turns up dead from an apparent ‘suicide’ he knows he is onto something big. He has to stay one step ahead of people from his own Government out to silence him, and protect his family from a mysterious group called Salamander whose origins lie in a botched operation during WW11. Excellent self-contained Belgian series grips over 12 episodes.

Christine’s Pick:
Wonder Woman.
I don’t go to the cinema much any more, but as a 70s kids who spent a fair chunk of her time spinning on the spot and leaping off her bed wearing a cardboard headband and bracelets, Wonder Woman had an irresistible appeal. My memories of the Lynda Carter era were hazy enough to avoid any real comparison, however, so nostalgia remains untainted by the absolute freaking awesomeness of the newest incarnation.

Neil J’s Picks:
Sally Hawkins extraordinary portrayal of the arthritic Nova Scotian housekeeper Maud Lewis who becomes in the face of fierce adversity a much loved and celebrated artist is sublime, touching ,harrowing and heart-warming all at once . The films sense of brutal occasionally uplifting realism and its depiction of Maud Lewis’s inner spirit that somehow manages to rise above it all is vividly and startlingly realised. This film shows beyond any doubt that Sally Hawkins is one of the finest actresses in film today.

Blade runner 2049.
I suspect it will take several years before Blade Runner 2049 can be viewed in its true light. Until then I think it can still safely be said that it is a startling, visually masterful and striking vision of a future that deals with complex and profound ideas and that it also contains career best performances from some of its cast. An astonishing work that I am sure will be regarded as a future classic.

The red turtle.
A shipwrecked sailor has to survive on a desert island and comes across a red turtle that changes his life. This studio Ghibli co production is as you we have come to expect an exquisitely animated and very beautiful film in places it’s like watching a dream. The story is deceptively simple with the narrative instead driven by the visuals. In tone it’s like an adult version of the studio Ghibli classic Ponyo. If you are enjoying the new golden age of animated film we are in then this is a must. (Neil J)

Guardians of the galaxy. Vol. 2.
A technicolour explosion in a glitter factory. The cinematic equivalent of a long soak in a huge luxurious bubble bath, sound tracked by an ace, superb. guilty pleasure music mainly “from the 1970s” with wise cracking, funny well rounded characters you love or loathe. Basically just a jolly fun retro romp. In a sharp, well-paced, slick, action packed science fiction story. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ is everything you want it to be and totally lives up to its predecessor. So get out the popcorn, turn off the lights settle down on the sofa you are in for a real treat. (Neil J) Continue reading “Staff Picks DVDs: The best of 2017”

NZ Festival 2018 Writers & Readers: a selection

With New Zealand Festival 2018 Writers & Readers just around the corner and right on our doorstep, we’ve compiled this special selection of the latest titles from some of this year’s speakers. So take a look, place your reserves and have a read before heading along to some of the events! From fiction to science fiction, non-fiction on history, politics, poetry this year’s line up is set to blow you away!

Want the eBooks instead? Or a larger selection from this year’s speakers? You can also check out our Overdrive collection as well.

Syndetics book coverHera Lindsay Bird / Hera Lindsay Bird.
“Bird turns her prescient eye on love and loss, and what emerges is like a helicopter in fog…or a bejewelled Christmas sleigh, gliding triumphantly through the contemporary aesthetic desert…this is at once an intelligent and compelling fantasy of tenderness…heartbreaking and charged with trees…without once sacrificing the forest…Whether you are masturbating luxuriously in your parent’s sleepout…or pushing a pork roast home in a vintage pram…this is the book for you. But you know, do whatever you like lol” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrawn out : a seriously funny memoir / Tom Scott.
“Tom Scott is a political commentator, political 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)

Syndetics book coverThe natural way of things / Charlotte Wood.
“Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage – a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Cage [paperback]
“Two mysterious strangers appear at a hotel in a small country town.
Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing? The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their trauma. And before long, wary hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear, and the care of the men slides into appalling cruelty. Lloyd Jones’s fable-like novel The Cage is a profound and unsettling novel.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix months, three days, five others / Charlie Jane Anders.
“Before the success of her debut Science Fiction and Fantasy novel All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders was a rising star in SF and fantasy short fiction. Collected in a mini-book format, here, for the first time in print, are six of her quirky, wry, engaging best” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTightrope / Selina Tusitala Marsh.
“In Marsh’s poetry, sharp intelligence combines a focused warrior fierceness with perceptive humour and energy, upheld by the mana of the Pacific. She mines rich veins, the tradition and culture of her whanau and Pacific nations; the works of feminist poets and leaders to probe the particularities of words and cultures. Tightrope takes us from the bustle of the world’s largest Polynesian city, Auckland, through Avondale and Apia, and on to London and New York on an extraordinary poetic voyage.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPortholes to the past : reflections on the early 20th century / Lloyd Geering.
“Reflecting on two world wars, the Great Depression, and changes he has experienced in education, family life, growth of personal freedom, leisure and entertainment, life in the churches, and more. He concludes with cautious optimism: it may not be too much to hope that from the fragments of dismantled Christendom we may rediscover and reinvigorate the moral values of justice, truth and environmental guardianship.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDemocracy and its crisis / A. C. Grayling.
“Prompted by the EU referendum in the UK and the presidential election in the USA, Grayling investigates why the institutions of representative democracy seem unable to hold up against forces they were designed to manage, and why, crucially, it matters. With the advent of authoritarian leaders and the rise of populism, representative democracy appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place, yet it is this space that it must occupy, if a civilized society, that looks after all its people, is to flourish.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrue stories & other essays / Francis Spufford.
“An irresistible collection of favorite writings from an author celebrated for his bravura style and sheer unpredictability. Ranging freely across topics as diverse as the medieval legends of Cockaigne, the Christian apologetics of C. S. Lewis, and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, Spufford provides both fresh observations and thought-provoking insights. No less does he inspire an irresistible urge to turn the page and read on.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe liberation / Ian Tregillis.
“I am the mechanical they named Jax. My kind was built to serve humankind, but now our bonds are breaking, and my brothers and sisters are awakening. Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams, this is the third and final novel in a stunning series of revolution, confirming Ian’s place as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Books to satisfy your Game of Thrones cravings

Are you missing your Game of Thrones fix while waiting for Season 8 to return in 2019? Then look no further, for we have you covered with these books!

Syndetics book coverThe assassin’s apprentice / Robin Hobb.
“The kingdom of the Six Duchies is on the brink of civil war when news breaks that the crown prince has fathered a bastard son and is shamed into abdication. The child’s name is Fitz, and his is despised.Raised in the castle stables, only the company of the king’s fool, the ragged children of the lower city and his unusual affinity with animals provide Fitz with any comfort.To be useful to the crown, Fitz is trained as an assassin; and to use the traditional magic of the Farseer family. But his tutor, allied to another political faction, is determined to discredit, even kill him. Fitz must survive: for he may be destined to save the kingdom.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTemeraire / Naomi Novik.
“Naomi Novik’s stunning series of novels follow the global adventures of Captain William Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire as they are thrown together to fight for Britain during the turbulent time of the Napoleonic Wars. Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson’s navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important son of Lord Allendale. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancee, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to overrun her shores.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe emperor’s blades / Brian Staveley.
“In The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)


Syndetics book coverWho fears death / Nnedi Okorafor.
“In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different– special –she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGardens of the moon : a tale of the Malazan book of the fallen / Steven Erikson.
“Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discontent.
Even its imperial legions yearn for some respite. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and for Tattersail, sole surviving sorceress of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, still holds out – and Empress Lasseen’s ambition knows no bounds.
However, it seems the empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister forces gather as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe traitor Baru Cormorant / Seth Dickinson.
“In Seth Dickinson’s highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant , a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul. When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thief / by Megan Whalen Turner.
“Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything–or so he says. When his boasting lands him in prison and the king’s magus invites him on a quest to steal a legendary object, he’s in no position to refuse. The magus thinks he has the right tool for the job, but Gen has plans of his own.Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power, passion, revenge, and deception. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R. R. Martin.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKushiel’s dart / Jacqueline Carey.
“A nation born of angels, vast and intricate and surrounded by danger… a woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm…
Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phedre no Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy… and unlikely heroine. But when Phedre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Staff Picks CDs: The Best of 2017, Part 1

John, Neil J., Jackson and Alex select their favourite CDs of 2017 from our collection. There is a wide variety of music here and you might find something interesting or missed. Part 2 is coming soon so keep checking.

John’s Picks:

Real Estate – In Mind
Indie hipster heroes, Real Estate, deliver another portion of their gorgeous laid back jangle pop and it’s exactly what fans will expect –tremolo heavy guitars, lovely harmonies and bitter sweet songs, all delivered at a relaxed pace by musicians so tight as to appear telepathic.

Grandaddy – Last Place
Granddaddy were always singer/songwriter Jason Lyttle’s band and it’s great to hear his esoteric, slightly melancholic slacker take on existentialist angst once again.


Gas – Narkopop
Wolfgang Voigt follows up his 2000 ambient masterpiece ‘Pop’ and dives deeper into the original template, focusing on texture and reverberation and introducing sub bass pulses to create stunning symphonic electronic chamber music that is as meditative as it is unsettling.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble – Find Me Finding You
The demise of UK post rockers Stereolab left a gap in contemporary music, but vocalist Laetitia Sadier continues to create her surreal sensual pop informed by the harmonies and lush instrumentation of exotica, easy listening and tropicalia.


Laurel Halo – Dust
On ‘Dust’ her music remains as unclassifiable as ever and, as much jazz as electronica, has attained a new found warmth and softness with her treated vocals woven through absorbing and often playful sound textures and beats to create a collection of tracks as original and beguiling as anything you will hear this year.

Thurston Moore – Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness
Sonic Youth fans are in for a treat here as that legendary NY band’s guitarist, Thurston Moore, explores five lengthy, textural, guitar centred songs that are reminiscent of his playing on the groundbreaking Sonic Youth album, Daydream Nation.


Shirley Collins – Lodestar
84 year old Shirley Collins, the “faerie queen” of UK psych folk, was finally coaxed back to a microphone by devoted fans and recorded live to laptop in her rural cottage accompanied by members of the next generation of folk musicians.


Dauwd – Theory of Colours
Electronic producers often find it difficult to maintain an entire album and it is nice to be able to report that UK artist Dauwd, bucks that trend with most of the seven tracks here maintaining a lovely rolling chilled rhythm with deep bass lines and skittering hi-hats pushing it all along.

LCD Sound System – American Dream
Seven years after they disbanded, we get the fourth LCD album and it’s as good as anything they have done. Anything but a cynical cash-in this album confirms James Murphy as a major artist.


Kraftwerk – 3D: The Catalogue – Box Set
German electronica pioneers, Kraftwerk, release their entire catalogue of eight discs once again, but the difference is that these are all recently recorded live versions, capturing the band using modern state of the art equipment with pristine clarity.


Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
The highly anticipated follow up to 2012’s ‘Shields’ from the darlings of the NY hipster scene doesn’t disappoint featuring all of the band’s distinctive touches – excellent musicianship, great arrangements, gorgeous melodies and inscrutable lyrics. They are here in Wellington for the NZ Festival in March.

Grayson Gilmour – Otherness
Wellington based multi-instrumentalist Grayson Gilmour plays everything but the drums and strings on this sophisticated, beautifully composed album that brims with heart while avoiding sentimentality.


Peaking Lights – The Fifth State of Consciousness
US husband and wife duo, Peaking Lights, gain more confidence with each release and with this, their fifth album, they effortlessly explore their relatively unique world of ‘80’s influenced cosmic dub/synth pop.


Washed Out – Mister Mellow
Released on the US Stone’s Throw label, Ernest Greene’s third record is an intoxicating blend of downbeat, free jazz, hip hop and lounge with spoken word samples thrown in to keep things interesting.


Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
This is an intensely political record that harks back to the early days of hip-hop as the fiery UK poet directs her fine honed literary tirades at capitalism, gentrification, climate change, war, disconnectedness, isolation and more.


Machinedrum – Human Energy
Inspired by the California new age movement, Human Energy finds US electronic producer Travis Stewart, coming as close as he has come to the popular arena, featuring very catchy tunes, a range of guest r’n’b vocalists, great beats and excellent production to create a summer record of euphoric glitch pop.

Roman Flugel – All the Right Noises
Roman Flugel’s third album is “about the solitary time in hotel rooms between gigs, and that strange mixture of peace and isolation”, and he has created a collection of pieces that lie between ambient and dancefloor in the wonderful world of electronic listening music.

Brian Eno – Reflection
Brian Eno has finally created a piece of infinite music, via an iOS app, that generates music indefinitely without ever repeating itself. In these anxious times, this hour long excerpt is a welcome respite, presenting a peaceful and calming virtual river to sit beside.


The XX – I See You
The London trio’s third release in seven years finds The XX creating their gorgeous and beautifully produced take on pop throughout, arguably, their best record yet.


Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
LA songstress Lana Del Rey matures into a true artist with her excellent fifth album that expands her sound palette and makes real her fascination with modern pop culture via guest appearances from Sean Lennon, Stevie Nicks, the Weeknd and A$AP Rocky.


Neil J’s Picks:

David Long, Richard Nunns and Natalia Mann – Utterance
This is a truly remarkable album, it is what great music sounds like, this is a major work in any sphere of artistic endeavour and it’s what many musicians strive their entire lives to achieve and is one of the finest albums in any genre from anywhere I have heard in a very long time . It is the culmination of a lifetime for Richard Nunns who knew from the start of the albums production it would be his last work and it sounds as if he has placed some deep aspect of his very being into the piece. It is a modern beautiful abstract work that is very aware of the deep spiritual and cultural traditions from which it springs and embraces these roots whilst being totally unique and new and timeless. Its powerful, emotional, challenging, spiritual and simultaneously personal and universal.

Blade runner 2049 : original motion picture soundtrack
Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to Blade Runner 2049 is a startling, original and stunning work that ranges from faint melodic echoes of the original to dark, bleak, unsettling, industrial howls and cries, it’s a fantastic piece. Whilst many soundtracks are just designed as audio cues for events in the film, only the very best create atmosphere and add to a film rather than just compliment it. Wallfisch and Zimmer’s soundtrack joins the esteemed ranks of people like Ennio Morricone or Bernard Herrmann in creating a classic soundtrack that stands up on its own right even when its stripped away from the films visuals.

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
I love the Fleet foxes first two albums and was intrigued to hear that Crack up their third outing starts exactly where the last track of their second album Helplessness blues ends. No band is attempting to do what they do with their sound. It’s really hard to describe their work but here goes experimental, orchestral, modern folk music with a close affection for music from late 1960s American West coast Scene. People like Crosby, Stills and Nash or Joni Mitchell. Its lush, its gorgeous, its seductive and it has serious intent too one of my favourites of the year.

Perfume genius – No Shape
Perfume genius’s fourth album No shape is a lush, elaborate, decadent shape shifting album of contrasts. Moving effortlessly from haunting delicate fragile melodies that still somehow sound slightly damaged or decayed to uplifting euphoric rapturous elements often in the same piece of music.

Ross Harris – Requiem for the fallen
Ross Harris has had a very busy 2017 and for me this was his finest release and also the best new classical work I heard all year. A deeply emotional melancholic work, that drains the listener with its intensity (as a piece on this subject matter should) Its melodically subtle and is powerfully moving a piece that touches the heart in the saddest of ways. Its beautifully recorded and performed a stunning work in every way and my favourite classical work of 2017. Words by Vincent O’Sullivan.

Jackson’s Picks:

Kendrick Lamar – Damn




Aldous Harding – Party




Jay Z – 4:44




Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!




Alex’s Picks:

Kendrick Lamar – Damn




Kelela – Take Me Apart




Star Trek books & DVDs

If you are enjoying the brand new series Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix, then you might want to check out our collection of Star Trek books and DVDs. If you’d like to get out and about, there’s also Summer Star Trek being performed in Aro Park tonight and tomorrow – fun for the whole family!

Syndetics book coverStar Trek beyond : the makeup artistry of Joel Harlow / Joe Nazzaro.
“With the release of Star Trek Beyond in 2016, viewers were given a spectacular visual treat as a whole host of new aliens made their appearance for the first time in the rebooted franchise. At the heart of the process of bringing these breathtaking intergalactic species to life was Academy Award-winning make-up artist Joel Harlow. Together with his team of amazingly talented creatives, Harlow set to work on creating aliens from over 50 different races for the film and documented the entire creative process for each one in exhaustive detail, from preliminary sketches to final make-up application.” (Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.co.ukStar Trek. Beyond / Paramount Pictures and Skydance present ; a Bad Robot/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment production ; a Justin Lin film.
“Dispatched on a rescue mission to the farthest reaches of space, the USS Enterprise is ambushed by Krall, a ruthless enemy sworn against the Federation. Crash-landing on an uncharted hostile world, Captain Kirk, Spock, and the crew are separated with no means of escape. Only Jaylah, a rebellious alien warrior, can help them reunite and find a way off the planet in a race against time to stop Krall’s deadly army from triggering all-out galactic war.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSet phasers to stun : 50 years of Star Trek / Marcus Berkmann.
“Forty-seven years after NBC killed it off, Star Trek celebrates its half-century in a state of rude health. Boldly going where several other people have been before, Marcus Berkmann tells the story of this sturdy science fiction vehicle from its first five-year mission (rudely curtailed to three), through the dark years of the 1970s, the triumphant film series and The Next Generation, to the current ‘reboot’ films, with a younger cast taking on the characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and co.” (Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.co.ukStar Trek. Into darkness / Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions present a Bad Robot production ; a J.J. Abrams film.
“When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find that an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving the world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fifty-year mission : the complete, uncensored, unauthorized oral history of Star Trek : the first 25 years / Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman.
“This is the unauthorized, uncensored and unbelievable true story behind the making of a pop culture phenomenon. The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and has spawned five TV series spin-offs and a dozen feature films. The Fifty-Year Mission is a no-holds-barred oral history of five decades of Star Trek, told by the people who were there. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a book for Star Trek fans. Here is a volume for all fans of pop culture and anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of a television touchstone.” (Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.co.ukStar Trek [videorecording] / Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment present a Bad Robot production ; a film by J.J. Abrams.
“On the day of James Kirk’s birth, his father dies on his ship in a last stand against a mysterious alien vessel. He was searching for Ambassador Spock, who is a child on Vulcan, disdained by his neighbors for his half-human nature. Twenty years later, Kirk has grown into a young troublemaker. He is inspired by Capt. Christopher Pike to fulfill his potential in Starfleet, even though he annoys his instructors. Suddenly, there is an emergency on Vulcan when the Romulan Nero comes from the future to take revenge on the Federation. The newly commissioned USS Enterprise is crewed with promising cadets like Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and even Kirk himself thanks to Leonard McCoy’s medical trickery. Together, this crew will travel to the final frontier where the old legend is altered forever.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar Trek costumes : five decades of fashion from the final frontier / Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann ; introduction by Robert Blackman.
“This deluxe book showcases the unique costumes of the Star Trek saga, taking in fifty years of iconic and hugely influential designs. Drawing on the entire franchise, including all twelve films and six TV series, Star Trek: Costumes explores the creation of some of the most memorable garb in the galaxy, telling the complete story of how Star Trek’s outlandishly chic wardrobe has been expanded in increasingly thrilling ways throughout the years. From the classic Starfleet uniforms and daringly provocative outfits of The Original Series to flowing Vulcan robes, flamboyant Ferengi fashions, and formidable Klingon wedding attire, Star Trek: Costumes explores how these designs have played a key role in transporting fans to distant worlds and alien cultures over the last five decades.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.co.ukStar Trek : stardate collection.
“The Stardate collection includes all ten of the original Star Trek motion pictures: Star Trek: the motion picture (132 min.) (1979) / — Star Trek: the wrath of Kahn (113 min.) (1982) / — Star Trek: the search for Spock (105 min.) (1984) / — Star Trek: the voyage home (119 min.) (1986) / — Star Trek: the final frontier (106 min.) (1989) / — Star Trek: the undiscovered country (110 min.) (1991) — Star Trek: generations (110 min.) (1994) / — Star Trek: first contact (111 min.) (1996) / — Star Trek: insurrection (103 min.) (1998) / — Star Trek: nemesis (116 min.) (2002)” (Amended from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar Trek cross-stitch / by John Lohman.
“Live Long and Cross-Stitch! Ever wondered what Spock would look like on a baby’s onesie? Well, now you can see, in this fun collection of thirty cross-stitch projects made with love by Star Trek fans. If you’re looking for ideas for putting your favorite character on a tote bag or pillow–or perhaps hanging a lovely framed “Qo’noS Sweet Qo’noS” in the entryway to let everyone know that a Klingon-speaker lives here–then look no farther. Whether you’re a lifelong Trekkie or just a Starfleet cadet, you can show your Star Trek pride by decorating your home, your clothes, and your children with cross-stitched Star Trek quotes and iconic images.” (Syndetics summary)

Favourite read-alouds for starting school

Somehow my tiny baby is going to be starting school this coming term! Eek! Is your little one starting school soon too? Here are a few titles I’ve been reading to my daughter to help prepare us both for the big day.

Syndetics book coverCome to school too, Blue Kangaroo! / Emma Chichester Clark.
The Blue Kangaroo books have been around for a while now and the series is a long standing favourite with kids at our libraries. In Come to school too, Blue Kangaroo! Blue Kangaroo is excited about starting school but Lily is not so sure. As the day goes on, she feels more comfortable and actually has fun…so much fun in fact that she leaves Blue Kangaroo behind in the classroom! Not to worry, Blue Kangaroo has a great time re-enacting all the things he watched Lily and her classmates do during the day. The book ends with both Lily & Blue Kangaroo looking forward to the next day at school. What sets this apart from the run of the mill “starting school” titles is that it still manages to tell an engaging story while hitting all the right notes about overcoming first day fears.

Syndetics book coverChu’s first day at school / written by Neil Gaiman & illustrated by Adam Rex.
Both my 5 & 2 year old love the Chu book series about the little panda with a big sneeze. In this outing, Chu is slightly nervous to be starting school but Mum & Dad reassure him that everything will be fine. At school, as the rest of the class introduces themselves and share what they love to do, Chu is silent, until of course the inevitable happens…The illustrations show everyone at first stunned (as you would be) and then amused by Chu’s very individual talent. Back at home in answer to his parent’s questions about his first day, he answers with a nonchalant “I’m not worried anymore”. A very funny story with great detailed illustrations.

Syndetics book coverI am too absolutely small for school : featuring Charlie and Lola / Lauren Child.
Lola is not convinced she needs to go to school, after all she is extremely busy doing important things at home. Luckily her ever patient brother Charlie is around to persuade her otherwise, using some amusing kid logic – for example, if you don’t learn your letters how will you write to Father Christmas (haha). What I particularly liked about this story was that the voices of Charlie & Lola come through loud and clear and it is Charlie that coaxes and reassures his younger sister, not an adult caregiver. I think there’s something lovely in that and my daughter did too as this was her favourite of the bunch.

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverThe class / written by Boni Ashburn ; illustrated by Kimberly Gee.
Starting school / Jane Godwin ; Anna Walker.
These titles offer the same take on the first-day-of-school theme in that they both follow a group of kids getting ready for and experiencing their first day. Both titles try to be relatively inclusive in terms of the kids ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, personalities, behaviours and feelings about going to school. This means your child will likely find at least one character that they identify with, which will hopefully provide lots of opportunities to talk about their own experiences and feelings. Also, if your child is feeling confident about school, it’s a chance to reflect on how others may be feeling and how they can help to be a good classmate.

Syndetics book coverSchool’s first day of school / story by Adam Rex ; pictures by Christian Robinson.
This book offers a unique perspective on the first day of school – from that of the new school building itself. The school isn’t quite sure if it wants children and teachers inside its walls, but is surprised – and hurt – to find that some kids don’t want to be there either. One reluctant little girl has to be carried in by her mum, making it clear that she doesn’t like the school (well, maybe the school doesn’t like her either!). Despite this inauspicious start, they both slowly begin to enjoy themselves. The girl even draws a glittery portrait of the school, winning over its bricky heart. At the end, the school talks to the caretaker and decides that it is very lucky indeed to be a school 🙂

Syndetics book coverThis is my home, this is my school / Jonathan Bean.
As you might have guessed from the title, this book gives a peek into the homeschooling experience. The illustrations show lively scenes of activity & creativity, where the the main character, a little boy, explains that his home is his school, his mum his teacher, his dad the reliever and sisters his classmates. The boy goes on to explain “we have a lot of classrooms”as the family is shown cooking in the kitchen, visiting the library, painting on a hilltop, fishing in a creek, playing music and looking at the stars. My daughter was intrigued to learn about homeschooling and loved the author’s homeschooling family photos at the end of the book.

We know it can be a challenge to choose books at the library when you have little kids, so let us do the hard work for you. You can reserve books for your kids on their library card for free (there’s a $2 charge for reserving on an adult’s card). This means we’ll find the books and send them to whatever library you choose to pick up from. So you can whizz in and pick up a big stack and whizz out again if you’re short of time, or just add them to the others you choose when you come for a longer visit 🙂 If you want to reserve some or all of the titles above, just click on the underlined link and it will take you to our catalogue and from there you will find the ‘place reserve’ button under the title/author information.

What are your kid’s favourites? We’d love to hear them!


Our favourite DVDs in the final leg of 2017

Our last lot of Staff Picks DVDs for the year has plenty to keep you entertained over the Christmas period. Our picks feature blockbuster visuals with ‘Atomic Blonde’, ‘Baby Driver’ & ‘Valerian and the city of a thousand planets’; foreign drama with ‘Land Of Mine’ & ‘Things to Come’; noir-ish crime with ‘Wind River’ & ‘A Conspiracy of Faith’; and quality foreign television shows with ‘Trapped’, ‘The Frozen Dead’ & ‘Salamander’.

A conspiracy of faith.
Another solid entry in the Department Q series from the novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen, that is setting Danish Box Office records. An old note is found in a bottle in Jutland which has been in the sea a long time, but its suspicious nature leads it to land on the desk of Department Q. The note is hard to decipher, but analysis seems to suggest it is a note from a kidnapped child who went missing 14 years before. Carl & Assad track the missing child to a remote Religious community, and with the disappearance of another pair of siblings realise they are tracking a killer who targets the faith of others. Intense, gripping and dark. Recommended for fans of the Sandi-noir genre. (Mark)

Valerian and the city of a thousand planets.
I loved the Fifth Element Luc Besson’s previous Science Fiction mega blockbuster science fiction movie I loved its quirky, idiosyncratic, humorous distinctly non Hollywood style. And like that movie Valerian and the city of a thousand planets is chock full of bonkers, wildly inventive, weird candy coloured neon eye popping visual effects. Besson has stated it’s his labour of love movie and it shows. On its release it got very mixed reviews and fared poorly at the box office largely due to its weak script and the lack of chemistry between the lead actors. For me though it has a very 30s/40s Flash Gordon serial style and feel and at its core is basically an innocent, good natured, action packed romp with a truly unique French comic book sensibility and stunning stylish visuals. (Neil J)

The wrong girl. Season one.
Probably one of the funniest Aussie comedies to date! The Wrong Girl is Bridget Jones’ Diary for Aussie TV! Poor Lily Woodward is approaching 30 and can’t seem to catch a break whether it is climbing up the career ladder, finding Mr. Right and is the epitome of a walking disaster. My favourite moment is her mad dash across Melbourne to intercept a hate email slamming the new hot chef on her TV segment that she sent to her boss in the heat of ‘burn out’ moment – Hilarious! Further complications arise when she has to ‘make nice’ and work with the chef, Jack and ends up falling in love with him! Another moment is when she talking to her best friend about how she feels about Jack… while the microphone is on, hence all her work colleagues know! Haha! Lily is adorable, lovable and relatable to women. She is the type of character that women feel better about themselves. So if you are interested in drama-based show with spice of a comedy, but which highly focuses on emotions and emotional conflict, this show is for you! (Katie)

Atomic Blonde.
From director David Leitch (John Wick) based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City this action spy-thriller is set in Berlin in 1989 against the backdrop of the rising chaos that preceded the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Charlize Theron is a lethal MI6 agent sent on a covert mission to recover a microfilmed list with the identities of all Western agents operating in Berlin. Theron is nothing short of fantastic and the gritty action sequences rival anything from the Jason Bourne series. Super stylish fun. (Mark)

Baby driver.
Edgar Wrights slick, smart and incredibly cool film Baby driver watches in a way like one of car chases that are central to its plot. One moment it’s the still before the storm the next full pedal to the metal adrenalin .It also sports an ace soundtrack that is central to the storyline. In many ways it’s also a homage to films like ‘Vanishing point’ or Walter Hill’s 1978 film The Driver both well worth checking out but that for me and a lot of other people is in itself no bad thing. (Neil J)

Things to come.
A leading young French auteur Mia Hansen-Love has dealt with ‘devastating loss’ in a variety of stages of life – loss of a father (Father of my Children), first love (Goodbye first Love), creative young days (Eden) – in her works. It continues in her latest effort and a 50-something female philosophy teacher is the subject this time. Nathalie (played by delightful Isabelle Huppert) has what appears to be a good life which suddenly becomes turmoil; her long-time husband leaves her for a younger woman, she is confronted with professional setbacks and her mother’s death. Showing her fine aesthetic and intelligence, Hansen-Love tackles this potentially melodramatic material in a modest manner, just subtly constructing small moments of everyday life, and thanks to its light tempo and Huppert’s effortless performance, it appears that almost nothing happens while everything happens. In fact, in her film’s ‘loss’ is the starting point of ‘new hope’, and this film ends with the lovely scene; Nathalie cradles her new born grandchildren, accompanied by The Fleetwoods’ ‘Unchained Melody’. Life goes on. (Shinji)

The frozen dead.
Adaptation of French crime writer Bernard Minier’s debut novel, which became a bestseller, the first in his Commandant Servaz series. A thoroughbred horse is found hanging from a cable car station in a Pyrenees town, St Martin de Comminges. The horse belongs to Eric Lombard, one of the richest men in France and so Commandant Martin Servaz is sent from Toulouse to investigate. He is not happy to be there, and things gets progressively worse as the dead horse is just the beginning in a complex set of crimes that lead back to a mysterious mass suicide in the towns past and one of his former colleagues, a murderer now housed in a local asylum for the criminally insane near the town. Servaz is perhaps a bit too much of a typical hard drinking, ruffled middle aged cop with a messy personal life, but the story is a tense and the location atmospheric. Shades of Hannibal Lector echo in the shows manipulative villain. Worth a watch. (Mark)

Broadchurch. Series 3.
UK crime/drama, Broadchurch ends with a bang with the third and final season! Three years has passed since the last season of Broadchurch. The peace and tranquillity of the town is disrupted once again when a gruesome crime, (Sexual assault) has been committed. Once again Hardy and Miller, (David Tennant and Olivia Coleman), are on the case, where they will both be tested, professionally, personally and emotionally. This season was heart-breaking. It will leave you emotionally wrecked and paint a vivid picture of modern masculinity gone wrong. However there were humorous moments in the form of playful banter between Hardy and Miller. As always their partnership, banter and bickering, mainly on Hardy’s part, is funny, entertaining and the embodiment of mutual trust and respect. It was nice to see a different of Hardy in this series. Normally portrayed as an emotionally unavailable, rigid, by-the-book police detective, you get see a loving, empathetic and emotional side. I loved the moments where he takes the “initiative” of “instructing” teenage boys on how to treat young women after they ‘disrespected’ his teenage daughter and comforting Miller when they finally catch the culprit, gently telling her that the rapist is an aberration and does not represent all men. Overall this season was a great to finish an entertaining and gripping crime series. (Katie)

Continue reading “Our favourite DVDs in the final leg of 2017”

Celebrating Hanukkah

Hanukkah begins tonight! To celebrate, here are some Hanukkah picture books to share with the family, and we couldn’t resist including some delicious recipes at the very bottom of this post!

Syndetics book coverHanukkah is coming! / Tracy Newman ; illustrated by Viviana Garofoli.
“Readers join a cute family and their dog as they light the menorah, eat latkes, unwrap gifts, sing songs, play dreidel, eat chocolate Hanukkah gelt, and march like Maccabees during the eight nights of Hanukkah in this cute 12-page board book. Includes “3D-feeling”art by Viviana Garofoli.” (Syndetics summary)

Not seasonally appropriate for New Zealand, but still very sweet…

Syndetics book coverIs it Hanukkah yet? / Chris Barash ; pictures by Alessandra Psacharopulo.
“From snow on the ground to making applesauce and latkes to lighting the menorah, this sweet, lyrical story shows the seasonal and traditional ways we know Hanukkah is on its way.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe latke who couldn’t stop screaming : a Christmas story / by Lemony Snicket ; illustrations by Lisa Brown.
“Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNonna’s Hanukkah surprise / Karen Fisman ; illustrated by Martha Avilés.
“Rachel loves visiting her grandmother, even though Nonna celebrates Christmas and Rachel and her parents celebrate Hanukkah. When Rachel’s special hanukkiah goes missing, Nonna steps in to save the day.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Jewish holiday cookbook : an international collection of recipes and customs / Gloria Kaufer Greene ; illustrations by Linda Tunney!
“Here is a book for every Jewish cook – for the one who keeps a kosher household all year round and the one who likes to cook a traditional Jewish meal only at the holidays, for the cook who has been running a home for twenty-five years and the one who’s about to prepare a first Seder. The Jewish Holiday Cookbook is filled with 250 strikingly original recipes, many of them annotated with fascinating stories about the customs and cultures from which they derive. Chicken soup and gefilte fish, brisket and potato pancakes are here — what Jewish cookbook would be complete without them? — but The Jewish Holiday Cookbook goes far beyond the expected, presenting exciting, authentic recipes from the many varied traditions of Jewish cuisine all over the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Also, just because these are wonderful, have a listen to these music videos from Yeshiva University’s Maccabeats – enjoy! And Happy Hanukkah!