Recent classical music additions

This week in classical music we have three new CDs featuring a wealth of well-loved composers, from Tchaikovsky through Rameau to Schumann, and Piazzolla and Scott Joplin for good measure.

Intuition. Performed by Gautier Capuçon.
Intuition, a captivating album of short pieces for solo cello with piano or orchestra, has been conceived by Gautier Capuçon to ‘reflect the story of my life and follow the various stages in my emotional development’. It brings together much-loved numbers by composers such as Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Massenet, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Elgar with newer music by Astor Piazzolla, the Italian cellist Giovanni Sollima and the pianist Jérôme Ducros, who also appears on the album. As Gautier Capuçon says: ‘In music,in life, communication is the essence of everything and of anything … You share something.'” (amazon.co.uk).

Quartets Nos. 2 & 3, Schumann. Performed by the Elias Quartet.
“‘We have always had a special affection for Robert Schumann’s Third Quartet. It’s one of the first works we played together. Since then we have often come back to it, as if to a splendid and familiar region that we think we know thoroughly, but which yields up new secrets with each visit. The Second Quartet, on the other hand, was a much later and more complicated discovery for us. The writing is so personal, so unidiomatic for the instruments, so full of nuances, that to begin with we found it hard to come up with a unanimous voice for this work. The enthusiasm of the first movement can easily turn into anxiety if you push it a bit too far. In the slow movement, the texture is sometimes so bare that to convey its tenderness you have to sustain it with great fervour. The capricious Scherzo is bristling with rhythmic pitfalls and requires a diabolical mastery of the instruments,while the Finale is an endless explosion of joy!'” (Elias Quartet via amazon.co.uk)

Enfers: Famous Opera Scenes & Pygmalion, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Christoph Willibald von Gluck, Raphaël Pichon. Performed by Stéphane Degout.
“Raphaël Pichon has invited Stéphane Degout to make his recording debut for Harmonia Mundi in a multifaceted exploration of the underworld. The French baritone reincarnates the figure of Henri Larrivée, the famous tragedian of Rameau and Gluck. Around a reconstruction of an imaginary Mass of the Dead, sacred and secular merge, revealing some of the most extraordinary pieces from the operatic repertory of the enlightenment. Music of death and mourning on an epic scale that inspires Pygmalion to overwhelming heights of pathos.” (cover).

Interesting new non-fiction books

Beginning with Why Things Are Better Than You Think, and ending with In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It, the books in between look at the poverty of the working class, the increasing inequality suffered by the middle class, and many others.

Syndetics book coverFactfulness : Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
“When asked simple questions about global trends– what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school –we systematically get the answers wrong. In Factfulness, Hans Rosling offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe new urban crisis : how our cities are increasing inequality, deepening segregation, and failing the middle class– and what we can do about it / Richard Florida.
“In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world’s superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality. Meanwhile, many more cities still stagnate, and middle-class neighborhoods everywhere are disappearing. Our winner-take-all cities are just one manifestation of a profound crisis in today’s urbanized knowledge economy.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeet the Frugalwoods : achieving financial independence through simple living / Elizabeth Willard Thames.
“In 2014, Liz Thames and her husband, Nate, were conventional young urban professionals working nine-to-five jobs. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day–as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends–they enacted a plan to save as much money as they could. In less than three years, Liz and Nate reached their goal. Today they are financially independent and living out their dream with their young daughters on a sixty-six acre homestead in the woods of Vermont.” (adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverBroke and patriotic : why poor Americans love their country / Francesco Duina.
“Why are poor Americans so patriotic? They have significantly worse social benefits compared to other Western nations, and studies show that the American Dream of upward mobility is, for them, largely a myth. So why do these people love their country? Why have they not risen up to demand more from a system that is failing them? In Broke and Patriotic, Francesco Duina contends that the best way to answer these questions is to speak directly to America’s most impoverished. Spending time in bus stations, Laundromats, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, public libraries, and fast food restaurants, Duina conducted over sixty revealing interviews in which his participants explain how they view themselves and their country.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover“We are all fast-food workers now” : the global uprising against poverty wages / Annelise Orleck.
“Tracing a new labor movement sparked and sustained by low-wage workers from across the globe, We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now is an urgent, illuminating look at globalization as seen through the eyes of workers-activists: small farmers, fast-food servers, retail workers, hotel housekeepers, home-healthcare aides, airport workers, and adjunct professors who are fighting for respect, safety, and a living wage. With original photographs by Liz Cooke and drawing on interviews with activists in many US cities and countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mexico, South Africa, and the Philippines, it features stories of resistance and rebellion, as well as reflections on hope and change as it rises from the bottom up.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe patterning instinct : a cultural history of humanity’s search for meaning / Jeremy Lent.
“Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today’s cultural norms. By shining a light on our possible futures, the book foresees a coming struggle between two contrasting views of humanity: one driving to a technological endgame of artificially enhanced humans, the other enabling a sustainable future arising from our intrinsic connectedness with each other and the natural world. This struggle, it concludes, is one in which each of us will play a role through the meaning we choose to forge from the lives we lead.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe line becomes a river / Francisco Cantú.
“Cantú: the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story.” (adapted from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverMicrotrends Squared : The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today
“Ten years after his bestseller Microtrends, Mark Penn identifies the next wave of trends reshaping the future of business, politics, and culture. Mark Penn has boldly argued that the future is not shaped by society’s broad forces but by quiet changes within narrow slices of the population. Ten years ago, he showed how the behavior of one small group can exert an outsized influence over the whole of America. Today, the world is in perplexing upheaval, and microtrends are more influential than ever.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe doomsday machine : confessions of a nuclear war planner / Daniel Ellsberg.
“Here, for the first time, former high level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking first-hand account of America’s nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization–and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration–threatens our very survival.” (adapted from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverHow we met : the ways great love begins… / Michèle A’Court.
How We Met is based on a collection of ‘How We Met’ stories – those lovely stories couples love to tell (and we all love to hear) about how they got together. The author’s theory: that these stories of how couples meet – the romantic, absurd, serendipitous, convoluted, scandalous, breath-taking moments of connection – help to weave their lives together. Partly as ‘proof’ that they were meant to begin this couple-journey, and also because in each retelling they go back to those first falling-in-love feelings and rekindle the passion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn conclusion, don’t worry about it / Lauren Graham.
If you’re kicking yourself for not having accomplished all you should have by now, don’t worry about it. Even without any ‘big’ accomplishments yet to your name, you are enough.
In this expansion of the 2017 commencement speech she gave at her hometown Langley High, Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, reflects on growing up, pursuing your dreams, and living in the here and now.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Celebrating ceramics: New Craft books

The interest and demand for bright colour and bold pattern ceramics have made them popular again and this selection of books with recent works and some clay and glaze recipes reflects on their appreciation.

Syndetics book coverFlowstones : beautiful creations from polymer clay / Amy Goldin.
“Conceived of by artist Amy Goldin, “flowstones” are crafted by molding a sheet of polymer clay around a smooth river rock. They impart a sense of calm to the holder, grounded by the weight and soothed by the smooth surface. Each stone’s unique shape and pattern gives it a beauty all its own. In Flowstones, Goldin shares beautiful photographs of the many stones she has created, captured in nature, where their striking appearance contrasts with landscapes of smooth river rocks, grassy parks, and sandy beaches.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUrban potters : makers in the city / Katie Treggiden ; edited by Micha Pycke & Ruth Ruyffelaere.
“Clay is back: the age-old craft of ceramics is being embraced by a new generation of urban makers and collectors–and by interior designers. Here, Katie Treggiden explores the contemporary revival of pottery, focusing on six inspiring cities and their makers. Twenty-five young and passionate ceramicists in New York, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Sydney, and Sao Paulo introduce us to their work, their studios, and their inspiration.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVitamin C : clay + ceramic in contemporary art / Louisa Elderton and Rebecca Morrill, editors.
Vitamin C celebrates the revival of clay as a material for contemporary visual artists, featuring a wide range of global talent as selected by the world’s leading curators, critics, and art professionals. Clay and ceramics have in recent years been elevated from craft to high art material, with the resulting artworks being coveted by collectors and exhibited in museums around the world. Packed with illustrations, Vitamin C is a vibrant and incredibly timely survey – the first of its kind.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSurface decoration / Kevin Millward.
“This step-by-step guide will encourage the reader to explore the full range of surface treatment techniques and help them to give a professional finish to their work by guiding them to an appropriate finish choice. Surface Decoration looks at all manner of surface decoration techniques, at every stage of the ceramic process and from a practical perspective explains how to achieve these effects. This is the perfect guide for any ceramic artist interested in exploring new surface decoration techniques.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMid-century modern : living with mid-century modern design / Judith Miller.
“From the ‘soft modernism’ of Scandinavian furniture, to the sleek clean lines of the lighting created by the Castiglione brothers in Italy, all the iconic designs and designers of the period are featured in this guide to one of the most exciting periods of design history. The careers and influence of groundbreaking designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto, Robin and Lucienne Day, Georg Jensen, Anne Jacobsen and many others, are described in stand-alone feature pages. This invaluable book explores the most desirable furniture, ceramics, glass, metalware, interiors, and textiles from the late 1930s through to the early 1960s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New CDs in our AV collection

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection including the new albums by Franz Ferdinand and Calexico. The fantastic 3 CD box set How is the Air Up There? offers 80 recordings from more than 50 New Zealand’s artists in the 60s and should not be missed.

Nils Frahm – All melody
“For the past two years, Nils Frahm has been building a brand new studio in Berlin to make his 7th studio album titled All Melody. Since the day Nils first encountered the impressive studio of a family friend, he had envisioned to create one of his own at such a large scale. It is here where he has spent most of his time deconstructing and reconstructing the entire space from the cabling and electricity to the woodwork, before moving on to the finer elements; building a pipe organ and creating a mixing desk all from scratch. All Melody is, in fact, proof that music is limitless, timeless, and reflects that of Nils’ own capabilities. From a boy’s dream to resetting the parameters of music itself.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Calexico – The thread that keeps us
“The ninth studio album from Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us is a timely snapshot of the Arizona-bred band: a family portrait capturing their stylistic variety and unpredictability while still finding solace in limitless creativity. In bringing the album to life, vocalist/guitarist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino found a spiritual home in unusual surroundings—not in Arizona, but on the Northern California coast in a home-turned-studio called the Panoramic House.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Justin Timberlake – Man of the woods
“The fifth studio album by pop superstar Justin Timberlake. Man Of The Woods was produced by Timberlake, The Neptunes, Timbaland, Danja, Eric Hudson, and Rob Knox. As with FutureSex/LoveSounds, recording sessions for the album were loose and had multiple studios open for work.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Franz Ferdinand – Always ascending
“Franz Ferdinand present the new album Always Ascending. Nothing short of a rebirth, the album’s 10 songs are a triumphant recasting of the group, bursting with fresh ideas and vigorous sonic experimentation. Always Ascending was recorded at RAK Studios, London and Motorbass in Paris, with the help of French producer extraordinaire Philippe Zdar (Cassius, Phoenix, The Beastie Boys), the mutual affection between band and producer seeping into every dazzling groove.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

How is the air up there? : 80 mod, soul, RnB & freakbeat nuggets from Down Under
“Inspired by The Looking Series collections on RPM of UK 60s Nuggets, we now look in the world mirror at New Zealand. For the latest in the RPM/Frenzy Music collaborations, following sets from Larry’s Rebels, The Fourmyula, Ray Columbus, The Dave Miller Set, and the Girl Group Sound down-under on Come and See Me, we explore the mid 60’s club scene and the various classic singles tailored for that scene.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Revolutionary spirit : the sound of Liverpool 1976-1988
“Features classics, rarities, album tracks and previously unreleased gems from Echo And The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, OMD, The La’s, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Dead Or Alive, China Crisis, A Flock Of Seagulls, Wild Swans, Big In Japan and many more.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Woody Guthrie : the tribute concerts
“Exclusive 3-CD set accompanied by two beautifully illustrated books containing historic liner notes and Guthrie biography, original concert reviews and photographs, attendees interviews and artists bios, and concert ephemera. Two ”Tribute to Woody Guthrie” concerts were planned after Woody Guthrie’s death on October 3, 1967: at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on January 20th, 1968, and at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on September 12, 1970. Appearing at the January concert were Judy Collins, Bob Dylan with members of The Band, Richie Havens, Tom Paxton. Appearing in Los Angeles were Joan Baez, Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Odetta, Country Joe McDonald, Richie Havens, Earl Robinson and Pete Seeger.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Jethro Tull – Heavy horses : new shoes edition
“Disc 1 contains the Steven Wilson stereo remix of the original album plus previously unreleased material (CD). Discs 2 and 3 contain Jethro Tull’s live performance in Berne, Switzerland, May 1978, remixed in stereo by Jacko Jakszyk (CD). Disc 4 contains the DVD audio of the full Heavy Horses album, with 7 additonal tracks, mixed in 5.1 DTS & DD surround sound and 96/24 LPCM stereo (DVD). Disc 5 contains the DVD audio of Jethro Tull live at The Festhalle, Berne, Switzerland.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

New movies and shows for you to enjoy!

These new DVDs have a biographical theme with TV show The Durrells, Goodbye Christopher Robin (about children’s author A. A. Milne), Battle of the sexes (featuring the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King and ex-men’s-champ Bobby Riggs) & A Quiet Passion (Emily Dickinson); NZ tinged Hollywood blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok; acclaimed animation with My Life as a Zucchini; and the latest season of historical romance Outlander.

The Durrells. Series two.
“The Durrells sees impoverished but sparky widow Louisa Durrell make the radical decision to seek out a new destiny for her family when her options in late 1930’s England seem to be limited to struggling on or marrying a wealthy but dreary older man. Concerned that the lives of her four ‘children’, ranging in age from 11 to 21, are heading down the wrong track, she relocates her reluctant brood to a dilapidated house in the Greek sun.” (Syndetics summary)

Justice League.
“Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes it may already be too late to save the planet form an assault of catastrophic proportions.” (Syndetics summary)

Thor. Ragnarok.
“Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.” (Syndetics summary)

My life as a Zucchini.
“After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love.” (Syndetics summary)

A quiet passion.
“The story of poet Emily Dickinson, whose genius, wit, intellectual independence, and pathos only came to be recognized after her death.” (Syndetics summary)

Battle of the sexes.
“In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King and ex-men’s-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.” (Syndetics summary)

Goodbye Christopher Robin.
“A rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne, and his nanny Olive, Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?” (Syndetics summary)

Madame.
“Adding a little spice to a waning marriage, Anne and Bob, a wealthy and well-connected American couple, move into a manor house in romantic Paris. While preparing a particularly luxurious dinner for sophisticated international friends, our hostess discovers there are 13 guests. Panic-stricken, Anne insists her loyal maid Maria disguise herself as a mysterious Spanish noble woman to even out the numbers. But a little too much wine and some playful chat lead Maria to accidentally endear herself to a dandy British art broker. Their budding romance will have Anne chasing her maid around Paris and finally plotting to destroy this most unexpected and joyous love affair.” (Syndetics summary)

Detroit.
“Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel.” (Syndetics summary)

Outlander. Season three.
“The third season picks up right after Claire (Caitriona Balfe) travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant with Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) child, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart… as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery, and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: When they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago?” (Syndetics summary)

Anita Shreve has died, aged 71

Syndetics book coverThe literary world will be a much sadder place after the announcement of the death of Anita Shreve. Syndetics book coverShe was a very popular, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author. Before becoming a full time novelist she was a teacher and a journalist. She really came into the public arena with “The weight of water” published in 1997 which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and turned into a film by Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Her most recent novel was “The stars are fire” published in 2017. Her books often revolved around the after effects of one single dramatic event and she liked to explore the subtleties of human relationships in often a highly nuanced and skilled fashion.

 

Birds of a feather flock together in these new picture books!

From feathers, nests, seeds and knitting these beautifully illustrated books will introduce your children to physics, ornithology and environmentalism in a very gentle way!

Syndetics book coverPlume / Isabelle Simler.
“Introduces a wide variety of birds, their feathers, and Plume, the cat that is stalking them.” (Catalogue summary)

Gorgeous feathers on every page, the illustrations are delightfully detailed but will the mischievous cat catch them all?

Syndetics book coverBird builds a nest / Martin Jenkins ; illustrated by Richard Jones.
“Bird is building her nest. She pushes and pulls twigs into place until she’s made a cosy cup, ready and waiting … can you guess what for?” (Catalogue summary)

This is a great book to introduce your child to science and the world of forces. There are some fun experiments to do too!

Syndetics book coverBird to Bird [hardback]
“Award-winning picture book creators Claire Saxby and Wayne Harris team up to bring us a gentle story of nature, history, recycling and art. A bird drops a seed to the floor of the forest. The seed grows into a sapling, then a tree. The tree is felled and taken to a busy city. Bird to Bird is the story of one bird, one seed, one tree. Award-winning picture book creators Claire Saxby and Wayne Harris have crafted a gentle story of nature, history, recycling and art. The truth behind this story is that the wood used to make bunks on board the convict ships was reused when the ships reached Australia. There was no need for the bunks on the return journey and the wood was a valuable resource. Exquisite paintings by award-winning illustrator Wayne Harris take this story through time. This is a gentle story of nature, Australian history, recycling and art.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFeather / by Cao Wenxuan ; illustrated by Roger Mello ; translated from the Chinese by Chloe Garcia Roberts.
A single feather, blown about by the wind, asks a variety of birds if she belongs to them but is dismissed time and again until she gives up her quest.

Syndetics book coverGranny McFlitter, the champion knitter / Heather Haylock ; (illustrated by Lael Chisholm).
“But did Granny stop knitting? Oh no, she did not! She kept right on knitting . . . like it or not! Granny McFlitter’s family have had enough of her knitting. But when a ship runs aground, spilling oil into the sea, a call goes out for small jumpers for the shivery rescued penguins. It’s the moment Granny has been waiting for! A sparkling environmental story with award-winning illustrations that is sure to warm hearts and feathers.” (Syndetics summary)

Historical fiction features in this month’s fiction picks from other genres

The ‘other genres’ category this month features historical fiction. This latest selection includes a new novel by the popular, prolific Bernard Cornwell. Highly recommend is the much praised debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar, titled The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

Syndetics book coverCarnegie’s Maid : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets, but the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does has is an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future and her family’s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girls in the picture / Melanie Benjamin.
“It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the new industry of the silent moving pictures is enthralling theatergoers everywhere. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender and their astronomical success could come at a price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarriors of the storm / Bernard Cornwell.
“King Alfred’s son Edward and formidable daughter, Ãthelflaed, rule Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdom’s greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are rising up against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both Edward and Ãthelflaed are reluctant to move out of the safety of their fortifications. But with Uhtred’s own daughter married to Ivarson’s brother, who can be trusted?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreyfriars House / Emma Fraser.
“Once a home full of love, all that remains in Greyfriars House are secrets and lies. On a remote Scottish island sits Greyfriars House, a house haunted by unspoken words and family mysteries. But once it was a happy and comforting place and in the summer of 1939, family and friends gather to forget their fears about the impending war.”

Syndetics book coverThe mermaid and Mrs Hancock : a history in three volumes / written by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
“This voyage is special. It will change everything. One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great alone / Kristin Hannah.
“Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture, soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sealwoman’s gift / Sally Magnusson.
“Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. This story is told through the voice of the pastor’s wife Asta” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unlikely agent / Jane Menczer.
“London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John’s Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret’s meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat. When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to ‘open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!’ After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as The Scorpions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPale horse riding / Chris Petit.
“By 1943 Auschwitz is the biggest black market in Europe. The garrison has grown epically corrupt on the back of the transportations and goods confiscated, and this is considered even more of a secret than the one surrounding the mass extermination. Everything is done to resist penetration until August Schlegel and SS officer Morgen, after solving the case of the butchers of Berlin, are sent in disguised as post office officials to investigate an instance of stolen gold being sent through the mail. Their chances of getting out of Auschwitz alive are almost nil, unless Schlegel and Morgen accept that the nature of the beast they are fighting means they too must become as corrupt as the corruption they are desperate to expose. Even if they survive, will it be at the cost of losing their souls?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shape of water / Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus.
“It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito, mute her whole life, orphaned as a child, is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day. Then, one fateful night, she sees something she was never meant to see, the Center’s most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. The creature is terrifying but also magnificent, capable of language and of understanding emotions and Elisa can’t keep away. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Soon, affection turns into love, and the creature becomes Elisa’s sole reason to live. But outside forces are pressing in. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it. Elisa has no choice but to risk everything to save her beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Contemporary fiction picks featuring award-winning authors

Image from Syndetics

New contemporary fiction selected from the recently received new titles includes award winners Julian Barnes and Jim Crace. Highly recommended is the much acclaimed chilling novel from French author Leila Slimani titled Lullaby.

Syndetics book coverThe only story / Julian Barnes.
“First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThree things about Elsie / Joanna Cannon.
“84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe melody / Jim Crace
“Alfred Busi is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the large villa he has always called home. Then one night Busi is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids the contents of his larder. Busi is convinced that what assaulted him was no animal, but a child, and his words fan the flames of old rumour, of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town, and new controversy: the town’s paupers, the feral wastrels at its edges, must be dealt with, once and for all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSweet bean paste / Durian Sukegawa ; translated by Alison Watts.
“Sentaro has failed: he has a criminal record, drinks too much, and hasn’t managed to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer. Instead, he works in a confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with a sweet paste made of red beans. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days listlessly filling the pastries. Until one day an elderly, handicapped woman enters the shop. Tokue makes the best bean paste imaginable, and begins to teach Sentaro her art. But as their friendship flourishes, societal prejudices become impossible to escape, in this quietly devastating novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe pope of Palm Beach / Tim Dorsey.
“Growing up, Serge was enthralled by the Legend of Riviera Beach, aka Darby, a welder at the port who surfed the local waves long before the hot spots were hot. A god on the water, the big-hearted surfer was a friend to everyone, the younger surfers, cops, politicians, wealthy businessmen and ordinary Joes, a generosity of spirit that earned him the admiration of all. Meanwhile, there was a much murkier legend that made the rounds of the schoolyards from Serge’s youth,that of the crazy hermit living in a makeshift jungle compound farther up the mysterious Loxahatchee River than anyone dared to venture. Then Serge moved away. But never forgot. Now he’s back, with those legends looming larger than ever in the rearview mirror of his memory. As his literary odyssey moves north from Key West, closer and closer to his old stomping grounds, Serge digs into the past as only Serge can.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hush / John Hart.
“It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; the fascination remains. Living alone on six thousand acres of once-sacred land, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost. But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSunburn : a novel / Laura Lippman.
“They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays, drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other, dangerous, even lethal, secrets. Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI’ll keep you safe / Peter May.
“Husband and wife Ruairidh and Niamh Macfarlane co-own Ranish Tweed: a Hebridean company that weaves its own special variety of Harris cloth, which has become a sought-after brand in the world of high fashion. But when Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair with Russian designer Irina Vetrov, then witnesses the pair killed by a car bomb in Paris, her life is left in ruins. Along with her husband’s remains, she returns home to the Isle of Lewis, bereft. The Paris police have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder, making Niamh the prime suspect, along with Irina’s missing husband, Georgy. And so French Detective Sylvie Braque is sent to the island to look into Niamh’s past, unaware of the dangers that await her. As Braque digs deeper into the couple’s history, Niamh herself replays her life with Ruiairidh, searching her memory for those whose grievances might have led to murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTurning for home / Barney Norris.
“Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins, it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLullaby / Leïla Slimani ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, 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 in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, 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, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New vinyl featuring NZ artists and more

Image from amazon.co.uk

New vinyl features fantastic new releases by Kiwi artists; Hex and Marlon Williams. Our vinyl collection keeps getting bigger and better. Come and have a look.

Hex – The hill temple
“HEX is the progeny of wives Kiki and GG Van Newtown, a musical love affair who draw on influences spanning classical to folkto punk to metal. Together with Jason Erskine they align quick, incisive lyrics and rock opera levels of riffage to reflect the chaos approaching post-capitalism with fury and laughter.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Marlon Williams – Make way for love
“Known for his effortlessly distinctive voice, Make Way For Love marks Marlon’s exponential growth as a songwriter. Throughout 11 original songs, he explores new musical terrain and reveals himself in an unprecedented way in the wake of a fractured relationship. While Make Way For Love draws on Marlon’s own story, it captures the vagaries of relationships we’ve all been through: the bliss, ache, uncertainty, and bitterness.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Rolling Stones – On air
“A collection of rarely heard radio recordings from their formative years. The songs, including eight the band have never recorded or released commercially, were originally broadcast on bygone UK BBC shows such as Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show between 1963 and 1965.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Nick Cave – Abattoir blues ; The lyre of Orpheus
“This masterful double album was produced by Nick Launay at Studio Ferber in Paris in March–April 2004 with Cave splitting drumming duties for the two parts, with Jim Sclavunos on ‘Abattoir Blues’ and Thomas Wydler on ‘Lyre Of Orpheus’. The entire album was completed in twelve days, and notably, the last track on the album, ‘O Children’, was featured in the 2010 film Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part One. The song is also referenced as an achievement in Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7!” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Belle and Sebastian – How to solve our human problems
“Taken as a whole piece, though, the striking thing about How to Solve Our Human Problems is neither the finely honed sense of craft — evident in both the compositions and sharp production — nor how the group now excels in churning out a disco epic like the six-minute ‘Sweet Dew Lee.’ Rather, it’s how Belle and Sebastian have completely devoted themselves to joy, squeezing out any remnants of melancholy that may have lingered in their music.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – The imperfect sea
“The album title refers to a saying by his father that ”we wade in a sea of imperfections,” reflecting upon the idea that beauty can be found amongst the chaos. ”If there is a narrative to the album it’s coming to the acceptance of the imperfections in all aspects of life; moreover, the recognition that these imperfections and tiny randomnesses are in fact what make up the best parts,” Arthur explains. Predominantly self-composed, the new album also features covers of electronic works by Simian Mobile Disco and Kraftwerk, along with a re-working of Simon’s ‘Now Nothing’.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)