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.

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)

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.”

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)

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!

 

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!

Love and celebrations: New Weddings books

Weddings are deeply personal celebrations of who two people are separately, who they are and will become together, and the community who love them and celebrate with them. Sometimes though, it’s hard to know where to start — how do you plan such a special day? What parts of the day have meaning for you? Here are some book picks you can use as inspiration to plan your own special celebration — for you, your partner, your family and the people you love.

Syndetics book cover2brides 2Be : a same-sex guide for the modern bride / Laura Leigh Abby ; foreword by Trish Bendix.
“Author Laura Leigh Abby shares her own experiences navigating the world of lesbian wedding planning with a sense of humor and a dose of sass. She has advice on everything from the logistics of walking down the aisle to wording the invites, and she’s not afraid to throw all the rules out the window. With input from wedding industry professionals, 2Brides 2Be will enlighten brides on booking vendors, wrangling family and pulling off the wedding of her dreams.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWeddings in color : 500 creative ideas for designing a modern wedding / Vané Broussard and Minhee Cho ; photographs by Jainé M. Kershner ; styling by Michelle Edgemont.
“In this candy-colored guide, Vané Broussard (founder of the uber-popular blog Brooklyn Bride) and Minhee Cho (of the covetable paper company Paper+Cup) team up to present hundreds of entirely modern style ideas for every aspect of a wedding, in eight eye-catching and vibrant color palettes. From pretty floral crowns to die-cut invitations, altars made from balloons, and so much more, these ideas are anything but traditional. Simple DIYs will spark creativity while interviews with industry experts provide important insider info. Lusciously designed and bursting with vivid photography, Weddings in Color has everything brides need to design a stunningly colorful affair.” (Syndetics summary)

Our thoughts: This next one is a bit older, and a bit different, but wonderful. It’s a graphic novel from bestselling graphic novelist Lucy Knisley about her wedding process — and all the mixed feelings and expectations (her own and other people’s) that go along with it. It’s lovely and we include it here because organising a wedding can sometimes feel like a transformative process in itself as you figure out who you both are and what you want in a celebration, and what matters to you (family, friends, a delicious and beautiful cake, dancing!). Lucy Knisley shares her own process and the thoughts and feelings that helped build her wedding and what it meant to her:

Syndetics book coverSomething new : tales from a makeshift bride / by Lucy Knisley.
“A funny and whip-smart new book about the institution of marriage in America told through the lens of her recent engagement and wedding… The graphic novel tackles the all-too-common wedding issues that go along with being a modern woman: feminism, expectations, getting knocked over the head with gender stereotypes, family drama, and overall wedding chaos and confusion.” (Goodreads summary)

(Also available as an eBook on Overdrive)

Syndetics book coverCelebrate everything! : fun ideas to bring your parties to life / written and illustrated by Darcy Miller.
“The ultimate guide to making special occasions unforgettable. Darcy invites readers to dozens of parties she’s thrown, and shares hundreds of chic and cheerful ideas for ways to make a celebration personal. It’s a blueprint for making the best occasions in life even better, filled with fun ideas to inspire: everything from baby showers to birthday parties plus themes that turn any day into a celebration D.I.Y. craft projects and recipes insider sources and pro tips Darcy’s own inspirations” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverModern brides & modern grooms : a guide to planning straight, gay, and other nontraditional twenty-first-century weddings / Mark O’Connell ; foreword by Liza Monroy.
“Every fiancé(e) faces the question, how do I become something new without losing myself? Using his own story, author Mark O’Connell reflects on conflicts that arrive during wedding transitions, as well as various other transitions throughout your lives. As a psychotherapist, O’Connell offers ideas to bridge relational gaps with your partner, family, and friends. As a professional actor, he also offers insight into the ways your wedding is a theatrical production and how this can help you to conceptualize the event, consolidate your efforts, and increase creative collaboration as a couple. This will serve you not only on your big day, but also for the rest of your time together. Whether we’re straight, gay, or other, weddings inspire us to carve out more fun, freedom, recognition, life space, love space, and connubial space than we’ve ever had before.” (Syndetics summary)

Overdrive cover The Homemade Wedding Cake, Natasha Collins (eBook)
“Making your own wedding cake is easy when you’ve been shown the right materials and techniques, and this is the only book to teach you. It is full of step-by-step guidance and advice, with plenty of tips to help a novice create something stunning and inspirational. This visually enticing step-by-step cake baking and decorating manual makes DIY wedding cakes easily accessible for everyone. In text and images that are both instructional and entertaining, Natasha Collins takes the reader through the whole process of choosing their design, baking their cake, embellishing it, transporting it, presenting it and serving it, so that they can be certain of success at every stage. Every project includes a timetable indicating how long each part of the process will take, and gives a schedule for when the cake should best be decorated and set up in relation to when it is going to be eaten.” (Overdrive description)

(Also available as an eBook on Overdrive)