New Classical Music CDs

Mozart in London cover image

This week in new classical CDs we highlight the child genius of Mozart and his inspirations, Debussy on period instruments, and an American treasure (Aaron Copland).

Mozart in London. Performed by The Mozartists.
“The ensemble The Mozartists presents an unprecedented survey of Mozart’s childhood stay in London from 1764-65. The wide-ranging programme includes Mozart’s remarkable first symphony (composed when he was eight years old), along with his two other London symphonies and his first concert aria. The repertoire also explores music that was being performed in London during Mozart’s stay, including works by J.C. Bach, Thomas Arne, Abel, Pescetti, Perez, George Rush and William Bates.” (Catalogue)

Préludes du 2e Livre, La Mer, Debussy. La Mer transcribed by Debussy. Performed by Alexander Melnikov and Olga Pashchenko.
Harmonia Mundi describes Debussy as “the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music.” Alexander Melnikov performs on a “‘period’ piano (an Erard piano) that he breathes new life into Book II of the Préludes, but also – with the help of Olga Pashchenko – the extraordinary transcription of La Mer by the composer himself.” (Back cover)

Orchestral Works 3 – Symphonies, Copland. Performed by BBC Philharmonic.
The Chandos retrospective of Copland orchestral works continues with volume three, including Symphony No. 1, Dance Symphony, interspersed with two interludes, An Outdoor Overture, and Statements.

Our selection of the best new contemporary fiction

We are very proud to present our latest selection from our new fiction arrivals. In this month’s picks we have something to suit a wide variety of tastes from a new work by Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis de Bernieres to a new novel by Kate Mosse, and a fantastic new work by Patchwork Planet author Anne Tyler titled Clock Dance. We hope you find something in our top picks for this month that you will truly enjoy.

Syndetics book coverWhirlaway : the great American loony bin, horseplaying & record-collecting novel / Poe Ballantine.
“On the run, he holes up in a sheltered barrio on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean owned by his wealthy but unsympathetic father. Here he meets Sweets, the telepathic dog, laments the loss of Sofia, his madhouse lover, and plays the horses at the Del Mar Racetrack. Eventually he meets up with an old friend, Shelly Hubbard, a fellow horseplayer, record collector/dealer, and hardcore loner, who tells him about his brother, Donny, dead at the age of eighteen from a tragic dive off a thirty-foot La Jolla sea cliff known as the Clam.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoy swallows universe / Trent Dalton.
“Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSo much life left over / Louis de Bernieres.
“Rosie and Daniel have moved to Ceylon with their little daughter to start a new life at the dawn of the 1920s, attempting to put the trauma of the First World War behind them, and to rekindle a marriage that gets colder every day. However, even in the lush plantation hills it is hard for them to escape the ties of home and the yearning for fulfilment that threatens their marriage. Back in England, Rosie’s three sisters are dealing with different challenges in their searches for family, purpose and happiness. These are precarious times, and they find themselves using unconventional means to achieve their desires. Around them the world is changing, and when Daniel finds himself in Germany he witnesses events taking a dark and forbidding turn.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVarina : a novel / Charles Frazier.
“In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War.
Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history–culpable regardless of her intentions. The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMotherhood / Sheila Heti.
“In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation. In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe very marrow of our bones / Christine Higdon.
“On a miserable November day in 1967, two women disappear from a working-class town on the Fraser River. The community is thrown into panic, with talk of drifters and murderous husbands. But no one can find a trace of Bette Parsons or Alice McFee. Even the egg seller, Doris Tenpenny, a woman to whom everyone tells their secrets, hears nothing. Ten-year-old Lulu Parsons discovers something, though: a milk-stained note her mother, Bette, left for her father on the kitchen table. Wally, it says, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life. Lulu tells no one, and months later she buries the note in the woods. At the age of ten, she starts running — and forgetting — lurching through her unraveled life, using the safety of solitude and detachment until, at fifty, she learns that she is not the only one who carries a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be famous / Caitlin Moran.
“I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly. My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs Hell — as rockstars do. And my new best friend — the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks — has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe burning chambers / Kate Mosse.
“Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE. But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClock dance / Anne Tyler.
“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUpstate / James Wood.
“In the years since his daughter Vanessa moved to America to become a professor of philosophy, Alan Querry has never been to visit. He has been too busy at home in northern England, holding together his business as a successful property developer. His younger daughter, Helen–a music executive in London–hasn’t gone, either, and the two sisters, close but competitive, have never quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce and the early death of their mother. But when Vanessa’s new boyfriend sends word that she has fallen into a severe depression and that he’s worried for her safety, Alan and Helen fly to New York and take the train to Saratoga Springs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Nurture book cover

A history of the world in seven cheap things leads our books this time. We also have books on living with nature, farm and rural life, and a guide to giving up plastic for good.

Syndetics book coverCreate & maintain your own smallholding : a guide to sustainable self-sufficiency / Liz Wright ; foreword by Rosemary Champion.
“Learn how to set up your own smallholding, grow your own fruit and vegetables, rear chickens, pigs, lambs and other livestock to help you create a sustainable, organic lifestyle. This excellent new guide brings the heart of the land to your table, with advice on where to buy, how to maintain and create a long term plan for an organic lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cheesemaking workshop : handmade cheeses and the beautiful meals they create / Lyndall Dykes.
“With practical, hands-on instructions and guided step‑by‑step photographs, advice and tips, The Cheesemaking Workshop demystifies the cheesemaking process turning it into a fun, accessible and economical new skill for every home cook. As you commence cheesemaking, you will find each step has photographic illustration as well as an explanation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNurture : notes and recipes from Daylesford Farm / Carole Bamford.
“More than 40 years ago, Carole Bamford began a journey towards a more conscious way of life. What began as a desire to make a small difference to the health and future of our planet has grown into an organic business that has won over 100 national and international awards for sustainability and excellence. From a small herd of cows and a farm shop, Daylesford has blossomed into a hugely successful collection of interlinking endeavors that communicate and practice Lady Bamford’s personal vision for a healthier mind, body, and planet.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA place in the country : a guide to creating your patch of rural paradise / Chris Ferreira.
“This is a no-nonsense guide to choosing, establishing and sustaining your patch of rural paradise in Australia and New Zealand. Chris Ferreira brings years of experience, a wealth of knowledge and a great sense of humour to these tasks, covering everything you need to know if you have, or plan to have, a hobby farm. Supplemented with photos, illustrations and checklists, A Place in the Country is essential reading for the rural land owner.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreen utopias : environmental hope before and after nature / Lisa Garforth.
“Environmentalism has relentlessly warned about the dire consequences of abusing and exploiting the planet’s natural resources, imagining future wastelands of ecological depletion and social chaos. But it has also generated rich new ideas about how humans might live better with nature. Green Utopias explores these ideas of environmental hope in the post-war period, from the environmental crisis to the end of nature.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

The natural home : simple, pure cleaning solutions and recipes for a healthy house / Louet, Isabelle
“With The Natural Home, you’ll discover how to clean everything in your house the healthy way with just a few inexpensive, easy-to-find products using tried and true cleaning methods that have been around for centuries. Organized by product and location in the home, the book includes an in-depth explanation of natural products like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda which can be used to clean most areas in your home. Also included are recipes for cleaning products you can make on your own that will help disinfect, whiten, deodorize and remove even the toughest stains in bathrooms, kitchen, carpets, and clothing.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverFarming Meat Goats: Breeding, Production and Marketing.
“Goat meat is growing in popularity in Australia and is also an important export industry. It offers many opportunities for large- and small-scale farmers who need to diversify or seek alternative enterprises. Farming Meat Goats provides producers with comprehensive and practical information on all aspects of the goat meat industry. It covers selecting and preparing a property, choosing breeding stock, breeding, health care and nutrition, drought feeding, condition scoring and marketing.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

How to give up plastic : a guide to saving the world, one plastic bottle at a time / McCallum, Will
“Plastic pollution is the environmental scourge of our age. And it is everywhere. Up to 12.7 million tonnes of it enter the ocean every year. That’s almost a rubbish truck every minute. Hundreds of thousands of animals die every year because of it and there could be more plastic in the fish in the ocean by 2050. So what can we do? Will McCallum has been leading Greenpeace’s campaign against plastic and now he shares all that he has learned to help you make a difference. This expert and accessible guide covers all ground, from the easy wins such as using a keep cup for your morning coffee, to the lesser-known hacks like using a wash bag in your washing machine to catch harmful plastic microfibres. But it will also help you be part of something bigger, explaining how to lobby successfully for impactful legislation, and how to pressure big corporations to make changes on a global scale.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A History of the World in 7 Cheap Things book coverA history of the world in seven cheap things : a guide to capitalism, nature, and the future of the planet / Patel, Raj
“Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. In making these things cheap, modern commerce has transformed, governed, and devastated Earth. In A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore present a new approach to analyzing today’s planetary emergencies. Bringing the latest ecological research together with histories of colonialism, indigenous struggles, slave revolts, and other rebellions and uprisings, Patel and Moore demonstrate that throughout history, crises have always prompted fresh strategies to make the world cheap and safe for capitalism. This book proposes a radical new way of understanding–and reclaiming–the planet in the turbulent twenty-first century.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Farmlife : from farm to table and new country culture
“Fresh eggs. Grandmother’s pickling jars. Backyard orchards. Return to the good life with this inspiring volume. From farm-fresh eggs and herb gardens that enrich home cooked meals to beekeeping to aid in the pollination of small crops, there’s a lifestyle that exists in harmony with our environments. These locales reveal and embrace the many layers of this way of life. Whether autumnal foraging for mushrooms or learning the different flavors of varying apple varietals or enjoying the fresh spring leaves of kale and spinach, Farmlife is a cornucopia of inspiration for living more intentionally and more interactively with our surroundings.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A zero waste life in thirty days / Vandyke, Anita
“In her thirty-day challenge, Anita provides you with the rules, tips and tricks you need to eliminate plastic and live a cleaner, kinder life. This practical book is a call to action with a fresh ‘can do’ approach. Over thirty days you will learn how to make sustainable, ethical choices when it comes to shopping, eating, travel, beauty and so much more. Small changes can make a big difference, and by following these easy, creative steps we can all do more to save our world. These are the inside tips of a waste warrior and former engineer, whose life has changed from excess to eco-luxe. Isn’t that what we all want – a life of happiness, a life of luxury, a life that isn’t wasted?” (Adapted from catalogue)

New and remastered: Fantastic new CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection, including Florence + The Machine’s fantastic new album, and the first solo album in more than a quarter century by Roger Daltrey (The Who). See also the 18-album set by Chet Baker and the wonderfully remastered Mixed Up from The Cure.

Florence + The Machine – High as hope
“Fourth studio album by the English indie group, fronted by Florence Welch. The record features more stripped-down and minimalist recordings than some of the band’s previous albums, and includes the singles ‘Sky Full of Song’ and ‘Hunger’. The album peaked at #2 in the UK Albums Chart.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Kali Uchis – Isolation
Isolation is Kali Uchis’s debut album and features an impressive cast of featured artists and collaborators. Jorja Smith, Damon Albarn, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Tyler, The Creator, Bootsy Collins, Steve Lacy, Two Inch Punch, BADBADNOTGOOD, Thundercat all appear on the American Colombian’s debut LP.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Nine Inch Nails – Bad witch
“Ninth studio album by the American rock band comprising Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The album was influenced by the final studio record by the late David Bowie (Blackstar), who Reznor previously collaborated with. It peaked at #12 in the UK Albums Chart and features the single ‘God Break Down the Door’.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

I Am Giant – Life in captivity
“After a decade of dominating mainstream rock radio and playing some of the biggest festivals around the world, I Am Giant are releasing their third and final album. Features ‘Playing With Fire’ and new single ‘Don’t Look Back’ – both strong airplay singles across The Rock network.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Roger Daltrey – As long as I have you
“The album is a mixture of self-penned tracks such as ‘Certified Rose’ and the soulful ballad ‘Always Heading Home’ along with songs that have inspired Daltrey over the years including Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’, ‘You Haven’t Done Nothing’ by Stevie Wonder, Stephen Stills ‘How Far’ and the title track originally recorded by Garnet Mimms in 1964; the year that Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon changed their name from The High Numbers and became The Who.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Chet Baker – Portrait in jazz by William Claxton
“A definitive set compiling 18-CDs divided into 12 deluxe digipack volumes. Each volume presents carefully selected top Chet Baker recordings from his classic years, and features splendid photographs of the trumpeter by the great William Claxton. All of the digipacks on this collection showcase specific liner notes, as well as detailed discographic information.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Buffalo Springfield – What’s that sound? : complete albums collection
“Five CD set. Digitally remastered set that contains stereo mixes of all three albums plus mono mixes of the first two albums. May 5th marked the 50th anniversary of Buffalo Springfield’s final show, a performance which capped a two-year period which saw the band releasing three studio albums: their debut album Buffalo Springfield, their sophomore effort, Buffalo Springfield Again, and their swan song, Last Time Around.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Garbage – Garbage
“20th Anniversary remastered reissue of Garbage’s acclaimed second album. Charted at #1 in the UK + certified double platinum with over 500k sales. Nominated for two Grammys + three MTV Europe Awards. Includes the Top 10 singles ‘Push It’ (No 1 most added track at European radio and top 20 European radio airplay hit) + ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’. Single CD format includes an 8-page booklet.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The Cure – Mixed up [deluxe]
“Digitally remastered and expanded three CD edition includes two bonus CDs: Disc Two features additional remixes from 1982-90 while Disc Three – titled Torn Down – includes 16 new remixes by Robert Smith. Mixed Up is a remix album by British band The Cure originally released in 1990. The songs are remixes of some of their hits, reflecting the popularity of remixing of existing songs and dance culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

People of Faith: Recent Beliefs Picks

This latest edition features biographies on seekers, to well seasoned spiritual believers. Some life experiences have raised deep questions whilst others have strengthened their commitment.

The spiritual Mandela : faith and religion in the life of Nelson Mandela, by Dennis Cruywagen.
“In the first book of its kind, an acclaimed South African journalist and former parliamentary spokesperson for the ANC shares how Nelson Mandela balanced his Christian faith with his political views, exploring how the beloved leader reconciled his own beliefs with the hard truth that religion had often been used as a tool to oppress his people.” (Catalogue)

Born with wings : the spiritual journey of a modern Muslim woman, by Daisy Khan.
“Khan details her faith journey, beginning with the strong guidance of her supportive family in her native Kashmir, where religious practices were deeply felt. But after she moves to the U.S., questions and doubts began to surface for Khan. Finding Sufism renewed her and served as a starting point for her activism. Khan’s extensive research on her faith led to one of her core beliefs: that, despite perceptions to the contrary, Islam elevates the status of women. Today, she is the executive director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality and Equality… A thought-provoking read.” (Booklist, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWhy I am a Hindu, by Shashi Tharoor.
“Opening with a frank and touching reflection on his personal beliefs, he lays out Hinduism’s origins and its key philosophical concepts…. Tharoor is unsparing in his criticism of extremism and unequivocal in his belief that what makes India a distinctive nation with a unique culture will be imperilled if Hindu ‘fundamentalists’, the proponents of ‘Hindutva’, or politicised Hinduism, seize the high ground. … Written in Tharoor’s captivating prose, [this] is a revelatory and original contribution to our understanding of religion in the modern era.” (drawn from the Syndetics summary)

Paul : a biography, by N.T. Wright.
The details of Paul’s life are scant at best, and while Wright presents plenty of historical background material, he bases much of his insights on the picture revealed by Paul’s writings. In this very readable account, Wright is careful to acknowledge that his thoughts are calculated probabilities, but speculations none the less, as he tries to understand the man most responsible for spreading Christianity across the Gentile world.

Stalking God : my unorthodox search for something to believe in, by Anjali Kumar.
“Anjali Kumar, a pragmatic lawyer for Google, was part of a rapidly growing population in America: highly spiritual but religiously uncommitted. But when her daughter was born, she became compelled to find God – or at least some kind of enlightenment. Convinced that traditional religions were not a fit for her, and knowing that she couldn’t simply Google an answer to ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Kumar set out on a spiritual pilgrimage, looking for answers… Narrated from the open-minded perspective of a spiritual seeker rather than a religious scholar, Kumar offers an honest account of some of the less than mainstream spiritual practices that are followed by millions of people in the world today. Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Shunned : how I lost my religion and found myself, by Linda A Curtis.
“Linda Curtis was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and is an unquestioning true believer who has knocked on doors from the time she was nine years old… Then one day, at age thirty-three, she knocks on a door – and a coworker she deeply respects answers the door. To their mutual consternation she launches into her usual spiel, but this time, for the first time ever, the message sounds hollow. Curtis tries hard to overcome the doubts that spring from that doorstep encounter, …but ultimately, unable to reconcile her incredulity, she leaves her religion and divorces her Witness husband – a choice for which she is shunned by the entire community, including all members of her immediate family. Shunned follows Linda as she steps into a world she was taught to fear and discovers what is possible when we stay true to our hearts, even when it means disappointing those we love.” (Catalogue)

An explorer’s guide to Julian of Norwich, by Veronica Rolf.
Medieval scholar Rolf introduces us to Christian theologian and mystic Julian of Norwich as the first woman to write a book (let alone a spiritual autobiography) in the English language. Julian was probably a member of the merchant class, rather than a nun which is commonly assumed. Rolf places Julian in her social context as she prays alongside the Hundred Years’ War, and the Great Plague’s destruction of one-third of human life.

Holy rover : journeys in search of mystery, miracles and God, by Lori Erickson.
Erickson travels the world as a writer specializing in holy sites – journeys that led her on an ever-deepening spiritual quest. Her pilgrimages have taken her to several continents : Martin Luther sites in Germany, Machu Picchu in Peru, Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, and The Temple of Artemis and House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey to name a few.

New comics and graphic novels

Satellite Falling book cover

Illustrators and storytellers have poured their talents into graphic novels, telling of personal stories in response to terrorism and surgery; grand narratives, mysteries and bursts of imagination that have created worlds. Wellington City Libraries has sifted through and selected a swathe for our shelves. This month has translated international talents, compilations of miniseries presented in one volume, next chapters of current series and a republished title from Aotearoa New Zealand. It was tricky to choose from all our new material, below is a selection of highlights:

The ghost fleet [1] : the whole goddamned thing / Cates, Donny
“When you need to transport the world’s most valuable, dangerous, or secretive cargo, you don’t call just any trucking service… you call The Ghost Fleet. But when one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a vast conspiracy that threatens not just him, but possibly the entire planet!” (Catalogue)
Previously 1-8 episodes now presented in one volume.

Green almonds : letters from Palestine = Les amandes vertes / Hermans, Anaële
Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine is a personal look into a complex reality, through the prism of the experience of a young woman writing letters to her sister about her feelings and adventures in the occupied territories. Green Almonds is an intimate story with big implications. A young woman discovers a country, works there, makes friends, lives a love story, and is confronted with the plight of the Palestinians, the violence on a daily basis that we see on our screens and read in our newspapers.” (Catalogue)

Briggs Land. Volume 2, Lone wolves / Wood, Brian
“Grace Briggs is now the leader of the largest antigovernment secessionist group in the United States, having outmaneuvered both Federal law enforcement and an attempted takeover by white power stormtroopers. But troubles at home remain, and when a chance encounter with innocent civilians blows up into an ugly hostage situation, the privacy and integrity of Briggs Land is compromised. Meanwhile, Jim Briggs, humiliated at losing control of the family, seeks revenge.” (Catalogue)

Hicksville : a comic book / Horrocks, Dylan
“World-famous cartoonist Dick Burger has earned millions and become the most powerful man in the comics industry. However, behind his rapid rise to success, there lies a dark and terrible secret, as biographer Leonard Batts discovers when he visits Burger’s hometown in remote New Zealand. A rich, and captivating book, one of the best graphic novels of the past decade.” (Catalogue)

Godshaper / Spurrier, Simon
“In 1958, the laws of physics stopped working. But an alternative was provided, and people found themselves each accompanied by their own personal god, the new fuel and currency of the world. Varying in shape, size, and influence, these companion deities changed everything. Ennay is a man without a god. Bud is a god without a human. Together, they might just survive.” (Catalogue)

About Betty’s boob / Cazot, Vero
“She lost her left breast, her job, and her guy. She does not know it yet, but this is the best day of her life. An inspiring and surprisingly comedic tale of loss and acceptance told largely through silent sequential narrative.” (Catalogue)

Out of nothing / Locke, Daniel
“Spanning millennia, Daniel Locke’s ambitious graphic novel explores humanity’s inherent ‘dreaming mind’ and its impact on our world. Surreal sequences take us from Gutenberg’s printing press to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web via Picasso, Einstein, Grandmaster Flash and more. Locke shows hour our basic instinct to observe, record and connect has formed the basis for all human invention and progress.” (Catalogue)

Satellite falling / Horton, Steve
“She’s the only human on an alien world… and that’s the least of her problems. A sci-fi series filled with grit and wit. She fled a fallen Earth, her lover dead. Now, Lilly makes her way as a cabbie by day and a bounty hunter by night as the sole human on SATELLITE. When Lilly’s past catches up with her, it’s going to take her and an unlikely band of weird aliens to set things right. What has Lilly gotten herself into?” (Catalogue)

Strong female protagonist. Book two / Mulligan, Brennan Lee
“Alison Green used to be a superhero. With unlimited strength and invulnerablility she fought crime with a group of other teens under the alter ego Mega Girl. All that changed after an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch-enemy, who showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy that made battling giant robots seem suddenly unimportant. Now Alison is going to college in New York City, trying to find ways to actually help the world while making friends and getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past however and trouble comes in the form of mysterious murders ex-teammates with a grudge, robots with a straing sense of humor, an inconvenient crush, a contankerous professor, and many different kinds of people who think they know the best way to be a hero.” (Catalogue)

And from Mike Mignola, the Hellboy short story collection is featured below:

Hellboy : the complete short stories. Volume 1 / Mignola, Michael
“In 1994 Mike Mignola released the first Hellboy series, Seed of Destruction, as Hellboy faced his supposed destiny as Beast of the Apocalypse. Before that, he’d spent fifty years fighting monsters as a somewhat carefree member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The Complete Short Stories volumes 1 & 2 present those early adventures. The Crooked Man and Double Feature of Evil, both of which earned Mignola and his legendary collaborator Richard Corben Eisner Awards, are collected with the complete Hellboy in Mexico saga, featuring collaborations with Corben, Mick McMahon, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, as well as one of Mignola’s early masterpiece, The Corpse.” (Catalogue)

New non-fiction books to browse

Now You're Talking book cover

Have a browse through this month’s non-fiction picks, featuring medicine, budgeting, Marx and more!

Will big business destroy our planet? / Dauvergne, Peter
“Walmart. Coca-Cola. BP. Toyota. The world economy runs on the profits of transnational corporations. Politicians need their backing. Nonprofits rely on their philanthropy. People look to their brands for meaning. And their power continues to rise. Now, facing a mounting global environmental crisis, can big business provide the solutions? Absolutely, the CEOs are responding: big business not only has the global power, in-house guidelines for corporate social responsibility will ensure it happens, voluntarily. Really?” (Adapted from catalogue)

The pastor and the painter / Wockner, Cindy
“At 12.35 a.m. on the 29th April 2015, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were led out in front of firing squad. Strapped to wooden crosses, they prayed and sang, staring straight ahead at their killers. On that day, the Indonesian government did not execute two drug smugglers, they executed a pastor and a painter. …This is the intimate, and untold, story of Andrew and Myuran; of their childhoods and what turned them to drugs.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The culture code : the secrets of highly successful groups / Coyle, Daniel
“In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code, goes inside some of the most effective organisations in the world and reveals their secrets. He not only explains what makes such groups tick, but also identifies the key factors that can generate team cohesion in any walk of life. He offers cautionary tales of toxic cultures and advises how to reform them, above all demonstrating the extraordinary achievements that result when we know how to cooperate effectively.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Shapeshifters : on medicine & human change / Francis, Gavin
“Our minds and bodies change constantly – we dream and laugh, wax and wane, distort and repair, grow taller and shrink, flourish and decay as we make our way through life. Some of these changes we have little choice about – puberty, the menopause, death – others are specific to the individual. And still others are rare, almost magical in their manifestations, such as the sun-sensitivity and facial hair that characterises Porphyria suffers and led to them, once upon a time, to be suspected as werewolves. Mixing case studies with observations about history, art, literature, myth and magic, and viewing with a humane and sensitive eye, Gavin Francis explores the various ways in which change is the very essence of being human.” (Adapted from catalogue)

You need a budget : the proven system for breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, getting out of debt, and living the life you want / Mecham, Jesse
“Experience a life free of financial stress and transform your relationship to money with this indispensable guide-the first book based on You Need A Budget’s proven method that has helped hundreds of thousands of people break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, get out of debt, and live the life they want to live.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Silent invasion : China’s influence in Australia / Hamilton, Clive
“In 2008 Clive Hamilton was at Parliament House in Canberra when the Beijing Olympic torch relay passed through. He watched in bewilderment as a small pro-Tibet protest was overrun by thousands of angry Chinese students. In 2016 it was revealed that wealthy Chinese businessmen linked to the Chinese Communist Party had become the largest donors to both major political parties. Hamilton realised something big was happening, and decided to investigate the Chinese government’s influence in Australia. What he found shocked him. From politics to culture, real estate to agriculture, universities to unions, and even in our primary schools, he uncovered compelling evidence of the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration of Australia.” (Catalogue)

The assault on intelligence : American national security in an age of lies / Hayden, Michael V.
“In the face of a President who lobs accusations without facts, evidence, or logic, truth tellers are under attack. Meanwhile, the world order is teetering on the brink. North Korea is on the verge of having a nuclear weapon that could reach all of the United States, Russians have mastered a new form of information warfare that undercuts democracy, and the role of China in the global community remains unclear.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Now you’re talking : human conversation from the Neanderthals to artificial intelligence / Cox, Trevor J.
“If you’ve ever felt the shock of listening to a recording of your own voice, you realise how important your voice is to your personal identity. We judge others – and whether we trust them – not just by their words but by the way they talk: their intonation, their pitch, their accent. Now You’re Talking explores the full range of our voice – how we speak and how we sing; how our vocal anatomy works; what happens when things go wrong; and how technology enables us to imitate and manipulate the human voice.” (Adapted from catalogue)

What would the great economists do? : how twelve brilliant minds would solve today’s biggest problems / Yueh, Linda Y.
“Acclaimed economist and BBC broadcaster Linda Yueh profiles the great economic minds who focused on the big questions: growth, innovation, and the nature of markets. Most of them have won the Nobel Prize. All of them have had lasting impact on both the development of the discipline and how public policy has been and continues to be shaped. But Dr. Yueh goes a step further: In accessible and clear prose, she will explain the impact their respective research has on combating today’s great economic problems.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A world to win : the life and works of Karl Marx / Liedman, Sven-Eric
“The globalised world of the twenty-first century has many parallels with that of the period running up to the cataclysm of 1914, namely the world predicted by Karl Marx. Despite nearly 200 years having passed since his birth, his burning condemnation of capitalism remains of immediate interest today. The texts he left behind gave rise to what would come to be called Marxism, but that was a term he rejected. Now, more than ever before, these texts can be read for what they truly are.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The middle class : a history / James, Lawrence
“Originally published 2006. This is the story of the great powerhouse of British history – the middle class. The death of feudalism, the advancement of democracy, the spread of literacy, the coming of the industrial and sexual revolutions, the development of mass media – the middle class is never fay away, pushing for change, engaging in philanthropy, while always mindful to protect its own interests.” (Book jacket)

Square eyes : children, screen time and fun / Booker, Emily
“Troubled by what her daughter was watching, and by how this made her feel as a parent, Emily Booker set out to learn more about children and television by listening not only to scholars and experts in the field, but to children themselves. What she found was that the problem of children’s addiction to screens is actually, in part, a grown-ups’ problem. Speaking to children about what they watch and why reveals a steadily consistent response: they love to seek out programs that are ‘fun’. But their choices are often a source of anxiety for parents, and appear to provoke a need to censure and control the child’s enjoyment. At a time when children’s lives are increasingly regulated, and the pressures of parenting are felt ever more keenly, this important book teaches us much about the value of entertainment, not only for children but for adults.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Recent Mystery picks

American By Day book cover

The sleuthing world of fiction is well represented this month with a superb crime “line up” of books. The golden age of British crime is wonderfully evoked In Andrew Wilsons A Different Kind Of Evil which has crime writer Agatha Christie herself as the detective in this fourth wall breaking tome. Whilst on a different crime track, the wonderful Rita Mae Brown and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown solve another fur lined mystery in Probable Claws. So put on your deerstalker, unravel a yarn and settle into a great mystery read.

Syndetics book coverProbable claws / Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown ; illustrated by Michael Gellatly.
“With the New Year just around the corner, winter has transformed the cozy Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia, into a living snow globe. It’s the perfect setting for Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen to build a new work shed designed by her dear friend, local architect Gary Gardner. But the natural serenity is shattered when out of the blue, right in front of Harry and Deputy Cynthia Cooper, and in broad daylight, Gary is shot to death by a masked motorcyclist. Outraged by the brazen murder, Harry begins to burrow into her friend’s past–and unearths a pattern of destructive greed reaching far back into Virginia’s post-Revolutionary history. When Harry finds incriminating evidence, the killer strikes again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurder at the Grand Raj Palace / Vaseem Khan.
“For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj. The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder… When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Inspector Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican by day / Derek B. Miller.
“She knew it was a weird place. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic. Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, reverberate in every aspect of daily life. Working with–or, if necessary, against–the police, she must negotiate the local political minefields and navigate the backwoods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before events escalate further.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRage / Zygmunt Miłoszewski ; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
“All eyes are on famous prosecutor Teodor Szacki when he investigates a skeleton discovered at a construction site in the idyllic Polish city of Olsztyn. Old bones come as no shock to anyone in this part of Poland, but it turns out these remains are fresh, the flesh chemically removed. Szacki questions the dead man’s wife, only to be left with a suspicion she’s hiding something. Then another victim surfaces–a violent husband, alive but maimed–giving rise to a theory: someone’s targeting domestic abusers. And as new clues bring the murderer closer to those Szacki holds dear, he begins to understand the terrible rage that drives people to murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIncorruptible / Barbara Nadel.
“In the backstreets of Istanbul, a young woman’s body is found. Dumped in a dustbin and covered in cut flowers, she is the victim of a frenzied and vicious stabbing. Inspector Ikmen discovers that the woman was well known in Istanbul. Newspapers had been calling her the blessed woman; cured of cancer in a Christian miracle and a proclaimed messenger of the Virgin Mary. These controversial claims had made her fierce enemies in the predominantly Islamic community and she had unwittingly stirred up divisions amongst the Christians of the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrisis in the Cotswolds / Rebecca Tope.
“Thea and Drew have been married for a year and are settled in the village of Broad Campden, but Thea is chafing at the domestic routines she is expected to devote herself to, missing the novelty and adventure that house-sitting used to bring. When a routine burial exposes the secrets of the deceased, Drew finds himself caught in the middle of a family feud, in which he feels he is on the wrong side, and Thea’s inquisitiveness and penchant for solving crimes draws her in too. With another crisis at Drew’s other business leaving him with a profound dilemma and Thea struggling against the charismatic charms of a new man, can their marriage survive this latest Cotswold drama?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhosts of the past / Marco Vichi ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli and Oonagh Stransky.
“Florence, 1967. It is winter, and one year has passed since the historic and devastating flood of the Arno, though the memories of that day still linger with the stains on the city walls. The anniversary of the flood brings with it a new case for Inspector Bordelli. A local wealthy industrialist – fiercely loved and respected by everyone he knew – has been found murdered in his grand villa in the Fiesole hills, and the killer has left no trace. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
In January 1927 – and still recovering from the harrowing circumstances surrounding her disappearance a month earlier – Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secrets. The famous writer has to use her novelist’s talent for plotting to outwit an enemy who possesses a very different kind of evil.” (Catalogue)

A few recommendations for lovers of Suicide Squad

The Victories book cover

In this post, which is part of our series of comic recommended readings, we are going to explore some graphic works that have some sort of connection visually, thematically or character based to one of the comic world’s most popular and enduring creations, Suicide Squad, so if you already like Suicide Squad why not try the following:

Syndetics book coverSuicide Squad : the official movie novelization / based on the Warner Bros. Pictures film written by David Ayer ; based on characters from DC comics ; novelization by Marv Wolfman.
“Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous imprisoned super criminals, provide them the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them to defeat an enigmatic, unstoppable enemy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecret Six. Volume 1, Villains united / Gail Simone, writer ; Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks, Brad Walker, pencillers ; Wade Von Grawbadger [and 4 others], inkers.
“Collecting the series that led into INFINITE CRISIS! Six of justice’s deadliest enemies band together to start a revolution. Together, they want to take a stand to stop the super-heroic community from tampering with their minds and to prove how deadly they can be! But not everyone agrees to this agenda. Six rogues are recruited by the enigmatic Mockingbird, charged with opposing the Society and given assignments to thwart their rivals and even help their enemies. Who is Mockingbird? Could it be one of the six?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Paybacks. Volume 1 / script by Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal ; art by Geoff Shaw.
“Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements, robotic suits or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like IOUs. Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes like Night Knight and Miss Adventure, here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs. But now the Paybacks have discovered a fate far worse than debt: a murderer is on the loose. and it just may be one of their own.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Victories [1] : touched / story and art, Michael Avon Oeming.
“Not long from now, all that will stand between you and evil are THE VICTORIES: heroes sworn to protect us from crime, corruption, and the weird designer drug known as Float. As one member hits the streets looking for blood, he discovers himself touched by a painful past through the powers of a psychic. Will this trauma cause him to self-destruct or to rejoin the good fight? Collects the five-issue miniseries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJustice League vs. Suicide Squad / Joshua Williamson, Tim Seeley, Rob Williams, Si Spurrier, writers ; Jason Fabok, Tony S. Daniel, Jesus Merino, Fernando Pasarin [and fifteen others], artists.
“This was a day that Amanda Waller–the government liaison in charge of Task Force X–always knew would come: the Justice League discovers the existence of the Suicide Squad! The government-sponsored black-ops team of super-villains with bombs implanted in their brains is obviously a dealbreaker for the World’s Greatest Superheroes. But you can bet the Wall and her gang won’t go down without the fight to end all fights!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A new batch of Staff Pick DVDs

The Good Place cover

Peruse the latest selections from library staff, from superheroes to sci-fi to coming of age drama, and crime told backwards.

The shape of water.
The Shape of Water takes its initial inspiration from the 1954 B movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, but this is definitely not a cash in sequel to an old monster movie. Instead it is a cleverly constructed complex film which straddles effortlessly multiple genres including romance, cold war thriller, body horror and a straight down the line cult Guillermo Del Toro movie. It is obviously a project the director had a great deal of affection for and it looks great in a shabby downbeat Americana way, and Sally Hawkins in the lead puts in a storming performance. Arguably Guillermo Del Toro’s best movie so far and since he directed Pan’s Labyrinth that is praise of the highest order. (Neil J)

Justice League.
Move over Avengers! There’s a new team of superheroes in town. The world of DC comics and superheroes collides when a great a great evil in the form of Stepphenwolf wants to unleash hell on earth and the heroes, (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg), must come together – and put aside their differences to save the day. Overall a different but satisfying take on all the DC superheroes, with a well balanced mix of action, adventure, comedy and serious moments. The Flash, in particular is hilarious with his one liners, ladies will drool and fall in love with Aquaman and Superman, especially when Aquaman shows his “sensitive side” and as always the heroes saving the day “superhero” style from start to finish. (Katie)

Rellik.
‘Rellik’ (‘killer’) is a story told backwards for the first 5 episodes, with the final episode reverting to normal forward progression starting from where the first episode left off. This, understandably, makes for a confusing watch initially as it needs a fair bit of concentration, and thus the show’s reviews were somewhat polarized. It’s hard to say in the end if the backwards narrative is just a stylistic gimmick or if it really adds anything to the story which is a shame, as it is a quite good slice of gritty UK crime. The 2 leads (Jodi Balfour and Richard Dormer) are both excellent, with Dormer as Met detective, Gabriel Markham at the centre of an obsessive hunt for a serial killer who left a mark on him both physically and mentally. Worth persevering with. (Mark)

Downsizing.
Could this be a solution to the problem of overpopulation and climate change? American auteur Alexander Payne’s (Nebraska, The Descendants) new film is a futuristic fable where people can choose to be shrunk to one-fourteenth of their size and live in a miniature ‘self-sustainable’ heavenly community called ‘Leisureland’. Featuring Matt Damon as an ordinary Omaha resident who takes this experimental opportunity, it offers a unique mixture of sci-fi comedy, political satire, and a cross-cultural love story. Apparently Payne had been thinking about this project for quite some time. Although not everything worked out perfectly, it’s certainly intriguing. (Shinji)

The disaster artist.
The Disaster Artist is much like Tim Burton’s Ed Wood insofar as it is a clever, well made, superbly acted and thoroughly entertaining film about one of the worst films ever made – Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has been dubbed the Citizen Kane of bad movies and since its release in 2003 has gained a fanatical cult following who like to dress up, shout out lines from the film and have a liking for throwing plastic cutlery. The original film was supposedly meant as a serious movie but the outright strange storytelling and truly bizarre acting have lead it to being regarded retrospectively by the director as a black comedy. The Disaster Artist is about the making of the film and the dreams, friendships and dramas surrounding its creation. The Disaster Artist is fine movie about a terrible movie. Just don’t shout SPOON. (Neil J)

Doctor Doctor. Series 2.
Hugh Knight, (Rodger Corser), the heart surgeon/heartthrob turned country doctor you love to either hate or… just plain love is back! And as usual breaking more hearts than fixing them. But things take a dramatic turn for Hugh when his teenage son/foster brother decides to marry his high school sweetheart; Hugh having to donate a kidney to save his dad; his American and troubled ex-wife turning up, having a near death experience to make him realise what/who is important in his life and the icing on the cake – he is in love with his boss, Penny and has various opportunities to finally make his move! The question is will they finally get together or will Hugh stuff it up with his playboy antics? Overall this series is in one word… FANTASTIC! An entertaining TV series and Aussie drama from start to finish! I especially loved the Mustang car race scene with ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ by Jet playing in the background. Look forward to the third season. (Katie)

Hard sun. [Season 1].
Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess) and Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) are detectives who, while investigating a murder in the inner city, stumble upon proof that the world faces certain destruction – in five years. They find themselves pursued by MI5, trying to silence them in order to keep secret the truth, and they must use every bit of their ingenuity to protect themselves and those they love. The relationship of the two leads plays against type, as they both try to secure the upper hand with each other and with ruthless Security Services Officer Nikki Amuka-Bird, which is a positive as the latest offering from the pen of Neil Cross (Luther) seems to falter a bit in the telling, as if Cross wasn’t really sure how he wanted the story to play out. Intriguing and gripping in places, clichéd and muddled in others. Still worth a look, as Cross apparently has ideas for further seasons. (Mark)

Twin Peaks: a limited event series.
After 25 years, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s ground-breaking series is back. Most of the beloved characters are also back but this time, a lot of events unfold outside Twin Peaks while time is back and forth. With numerous additional characters, some of whom are played by prominent names including Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Amanda Seyfried and Harry Dean Stanton, it’s a much larger scaled extraordinary journey which offers everything Lynch has made for cinema. At times, it’s almost impossible to comprehend and mysteries bring more mysteries but he never forgets humour. This marathon epic can be challenging and demanding to consume, but will be remembered as a landmark work by the one-and-only filmmaker. (Shinji)

The Good Place. The complete first season.
From producer/screenwriter Michael Schur (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) The Good Place addresses the age old question of what actually happens when you die? For Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) she finds the afterlife is a shiny happy friendly neighbourhood of frozen yogurt shops, amazingly accomplished people and pre-determined soulmates, all run by the super nice immortal architect Michael (Ted Danson). However the only problem is that she is the wrong Eleanor Shellstrop, and is in fact a very bad person, who scammed old people for a living and generally lived a completely reprehensible life. As she struggles to hide her true self from all around her and cope with her ‘soulmate’, university ethics professor Chidi, her true nature starts to affect the cosmic balance at play… To say any more would give away some of the plotlines of this hugely enjoyable series. Great performances from Bell and Danson. A great antidote to the Winter blues. Recommended. (Mark)

The greatest showman.
This movie just filled me with a sense of the wonders of humanity, and the songs! Well a musical isn’t a musical without good songs. If you are looking for some new additions to your sing-a-long playlist then this is the movie for you! I recommend a double check out, both the soundtrack and the movie. You won’t be sorry! (Jess)

Electric dreams. Season one.
Anthology collection of 10 stand-alone episodes based on Philip K. Dick’s work, written by British and American writers and set in both the UK & the US. This bunch of Dick’s short stories were written in the early to mid 1950’s, so all have undergone some degree of tinkering – from large to small – to reimagine their themes within a modern day context. Executive produced by Ronald D. Moore and Bryan Cranston there is certainly a high degree or production values up on the screen, as well as some quality acting (including Cranston himself), the problem perhaps lies in the fact that so many of Dick’s short stories have already been adapted into films (Screamers, Paycheck, Imposter, Minority Report, Next, The Adjustment Bureau, Total Recall) that those that are left are more straightforward in nature, lacking the same level of layers or ideas. Having said that there are some nice adaptations here, even the one that are more heavily reworked like Safe & Sound or Real Life work in themes common to Dick’s oeuvre. Definitely worth a watch if you are a fan of the author, and also if you fancy something along the lines of Black Mirror but not as grim. (Mark)

Lady Bird.
Known as a comedic actress (Frances Ha, Maggie’s Plan etc.), Greta Gerwig also seems to be a natural director. Her debut feature Lady Bird is a likable little gem. Set in her hometown, Sacramento, California in 2002, it follows 17-year-old Christine ‘Lady Bird’ (brilliant performance by the Irish star Saoirse Ronan) who is eager for an escape to a big city on the East Coast after graduating from a Catholic school, against her mother’s wishes. It may sound like another often-told adolescent drama but this is something special thanks to Gerwig’s smart screenplay and unique aesthetic. With the mother-daughter relationship as its core, she crafts a beautifully layered story. It’s sweet, funny and affecting. (Shinji)