Category: Recent picks

Recent History Picks for January

This month have a look at far-reaching histories on today’s nation-states both new and old in Tokyo: A Biography and A History of South Sudan. Leaf through the intimate notes of Lydia Ginzburg from St. Petersburg under siege, or the unpredictable encounters of Tom Lutz’ ramblings through every country in the world. Take a trip through past and future in Robert L. Kelly’s Fifth Beginning, or follow the indigenous footsteps that made it back to deal directly with the empire, at the heart of London.

Syndetics book coverNotes from the blockade, and, A story of pity and cruelty / Lydia Ginzburg
“From her experience as a survivor of the 900-day siege of Leningrad, Lidiya Ginzburg has created a remarkable hero in whom she distils the experience of life under siege. Though she depicts the harrowing conditions, the reader takes away an impression of the dignity, vitality, and intellectual resilience of the thinking mind as it makes sense of extreme experience. This classic work of documentary fiction will be the first introduction of a major 20th-century Russian writer to many English-language readers.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIndigenous London : native travellers at the heart of empire / Coll Thrush.
“Historian Coll Thrush offers an imaginative vision of the city’s past crafted from an almost entirely new perspective: that of Indigenous children, women, and men who travelled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, beginning in the sixteenth century. Thrush illustrates how London learned to be a global, imperial city and how Indigenous people were central to that process.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd the monkey learned nothing : dispatches from a life in transit / Tom Lutz.
“Without an itinerary and without a goal, Tom Lutz is on a mission to visit every country on earth, describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots and anecdotes from way off the beaten path. With an eye out for both the sublime and the ridiculous, Lutz falls, regularly, into the instant intimacy of the road with random strangers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNative American almanac : more than 50,000 years of the cultures and histories of indigenous peoples / Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder and Shannon Rothenberger Flynn.
“A primer on the Native American experience, presenting the rich history and continuing legacy of the indigenous and tribal nations. Fascinating biographies, insightful quotes, detailed data and absorbing narratives bring the stories of indigenous people to life, bringing unique insight into the American nation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA history of South Sudan : from slavery to independence / Øystein H. Rolandsen, M. W. Daly.
“South Sudan is the world’s youngest independent country. Established in 2011 after two wars, South Sudan has since reverted to a state of devastating civil strife. This book provides a general history of the new country, from the arrival of Turco-Egyptian explorers in Upper Nile, [...] to the Anglo-Egyptian colonial era. The book concludes with coverage of events since independence, with insights into what the future might hold.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnder the shadow : rage and revolution in modern Turkey / Kaya Genç.
“Turkey stands at the crossroads of the Middle East―caught between the West and ISIS, Syria and Russia, and governed by an increasingly forceful leader. Acclaimed writer Kaya Genç; has been covering his country for the past decade. In Under the Shadow he meets activists from both sides of Turkey’s political divide, getting to the heart of the compelling conflicts between history and modernity in the Middle East.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTokyo : a biography : disasters, destruction and renewal : the story of an indomitable city / Stephen Mansfield.
“The history of Tokyo is as eventful as it is long. In a whirlwind journey through Tokyo’s past from its earliest beginnings up to the present day, this Japanese history book demonstrates how the city’s response to everything from natural disasters to regime change has been to reinvent itself time and again.  Readers see a city almost unrivalled in its uniqueness, a place that–despite its often tragic history–still shimmers as it prepares to face the future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy brother’s keeper : Christians who risked all to protect Jewish targets of the Nazi Holocaust / Rod Gragg.
My Brother’s Keeper unfolds powerful stories of Christians from across denominations who gave everything they had to save the Jewish people from the evils of the Holocaust. In one gripping profile after another, these extraordinary historical accounts offer stories of steadfast believers who together helped thousands of Jewish individuals and families to safety. Many of these everyday heroes perished alongside the very people they were trying to protect.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fifth beginning : what six million years of human history can tell us about our future / Robert L. Kelly.
“From four key pivot points in the six-million-year history of human development, Kelly looks ahead, giving us evidence for what he calls a fifth beginning, one that started about AD 1500 that some would call “globalization.” Kelly predicts that this will include the end of war as a viable way to resolve disputes, the end of capitalism as we know it, the widespread shift toward world citizenship, and the rise of forms of cooperation that will end the near-sacred status of nation-states. However, the author is cautiously optimistic: he dwells not on the coming chaos, but on humanity’s great potential.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe illustrated story of England / Christopher Hibbert ; illustrated by John Broadley ; new chapter by Dr Seán Lang.
“This concise and fast-paced introduction to English history keeps the reader enthralled through the entire course of the country’s political, economic, and cultural landscape, covering the whole sweep of English history from the Stone Age to the present. In this newly illustrated edition, John Broadley’s unique tableaux-like illustrations capture the landscape, costumes, and characters of the history that Hibbert’s text so vividly evokes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Classical Additions

This week is an entirely serendipitous spotlight on recent Deutsche Grammophon arrivals, with a Romantic lean.

ClassicalrecentJana1Piano Concerto No. 1, Ballades, Chopin. Performed by Seong-Jin Cho.
“In 2015, aged just 21, Seong-Jin Cho won first prize at the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition, one of the most prestigious titles in all classical music. Now, in his first studio recording, Cho combines Chopin’s immensely popular Piano Concerto No. 1 with his almost equally beloved Ballades, revealing once again, as in his bestselling live debut CD, that he not only has brilliant fingers but is a master of characterization too” (Cover).

ClassicalrecentJana2Pictures at an Exhibition, Mussorgsky. Performed by Wiener Philharmoniker.
“For our current recording project, a wonderful programme of Russian delights, the Vienna Philharmonic and I have joined with children from Vienna’s El-Sistema-inspired Superar organisation, offering young people of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to engage with themes from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The sense of collective engagement through music – of individuals learning, listening, and creating together – resonates in the living tradition of the Vienna Philharmonic, inspires our artistic collaboration, and fules our desire to share music’s transformative power with future generations” (Gustavo Dudamel, cover).

ClassicalrecentJana3Revive. Performed by Elina Garanča.
“Gifted with a ‘one-in-a-million’ voice (The Independent) and ‘the unteachable ability to send shivers down the spine’ (Gramophone), Elina Garanča channels her musical experience, insight and emotional empathy into a personal celebration of the indomitable nature of the feminine spirit. Drawn from the masterworks of the Italian and French Romantic repertoire, Garanča’s gallery of great female characters couples captivating rarities with dazzling showstoppers” (Cover).

Women in Art – New Art books in January

This month we have books about amazing female artists and how their word is changing, or has changed, our world. From iconic female artists like Frida Kahlo, to academics, and even women as artists’ subjects, there is no lack of places to find inspiration.

Syndetics book coverWomen who read are dangerous / Stefan Bollmann ; foreword by Karen Joy Fowler.
“This concise survey of women readers as subjects in the visual arts touches on several periods and includes Edward Hopper, Henri Matisse, Michelangelo & Suzanne Valadon. Bollmann gives a useful history of the issues surrounding women’s access to literature (reading was once said to cause illness, immorality, and early death) and attempts to explain why so many different artists have chosen to depict this act.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverElizabeth Durack : art & life : selected writings / edited by Perpetua Durack Clancy.
Art &​ Life contains extracts from diaries, letters, essays, travelogues and poetry written by Elizabeth Durack over the course of seven decades. With wit and candour, the writing reveals some of the most important influences and episodes – and the paradox – of her life. Durack read and travelled widely and drew inspiration from many sources: from the men and women she knew; from classical Western and ancient Aboriginal traditions; and from contemporary politics.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverLadies drawing night : make art, get inspired, join the party / By Julia Rothman, Leah Goren, and Rachael Cole ; photographs by Kate Edwards.
“Grab your pens, round up some friends, and get ready for an inspiring night of drawing. Join in with Julia Rothman, Leah Goren, Rachael Cole, and friends as they gather together to try out new ideas, explore different media, collaborate, and swap stories of successes, doubts, and the joy of making art.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverModern Scottish women : painters and sculptors, 1885-1965 / edited by Alice Strang.
“This revelatory book concentrates on Scottish women painters and sculptors from 1885, when Fra Newbery became Director of the Glasgow School of Art, until 1965, the year of Anne Redpath’s death. It explores the experience and context of the artists and their place in Scottish art history, in terms of training, professional opportunities and personal links within the Scottish art world.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverWalk through walls : a memoir / Marina Abramović ; with James Kaplan.
“Performance artist Abramovic’ shares the remarkable experiences of her life and background on some of her best-known art pieces in this enchanting and emotionally raw memoir. She provides fascinating glimpses into her experiences living with Aboriginal Australians and her walk of China’s Great Wall, sharing illuminating notes from her performances diaries and giving insight into her teaching technique. This is an honest, gripping, and profound look into the heart and brilliant mind of one of the quintessential artists of the postmodern era.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book cover25 women : essays on their art / Dave Hickey.
“Hickey was inspired to revisit and revamp his essays about 25 women artists and their work as a tribute to his friend, the late curator and New Museum founder Marcia Tucker. He revels in the turbulent depths of painters as varied as Joan Mitchell, Vija Celmins, Bridget Riley, Elizabeth Murray, and Hung Liu. The artists are significant and intriguing, Hickey’s criticism exceptionally dynamic and enlightening.” (Adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverWomen artists : the Linda Nochlin reader / edited by Maura Reilly.
“Linda Nochlin has been a groundbreaking art critic and curator for decades. The text moves from 1971′s groundbreaking “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” through many years’ worth of catalogue essays, journal articles, and previously unpublished works. Readers will be delighted by this opportunity to watch Nochlin’s ideas advance over the decades. Nochlin’s contributions have been crucial in rethinking art history and rejecting the narrow idea of a core female aesthetic. (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverMargaret Preston / Elizabeth Butel.
“Margaret Preston, Australia’s foremost woman painter between the wars, sent a series of shock-waves through Sydney’s art circles with her vital art, her spirited journalism and her belligerent enthusiasm for living, during a career that spanned over seventy years. ‘A red-headed little firebrand of a woman’, she was an artist who never stood still, moving from realism to Post-Impressionism, to an Aboriginal-inspired style of art with unceasing verve and freshness.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverFrida Kahlo at home / Suzanne Barbezat.
“This book explores the influence of Mexican culture and tradition, La Casa Azul and other places Frida Kahlo called home, on her life and work. La Casa Azul, now one of the most visited museums in Mexico City, was the artist’s birthplace and the home where she grew up, lived with her husband Diego Rivera for a number of years, and also where she died. Fully illustrated, the book features Frida’s paintings together with archive images and family photographs, objects and artefacts she collected and photographs of the surrounding landscape.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)

Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks

This month’s picks feature ideas of big or small projects for home, garden, and even music instruments. Ideal for summer!

Syndetics book coverGood clean fun : misadventures in sawdust at Offerman Woodshop / Nick Offerman.
“Nestled among the glitz and glitter of Tinseltown is a testament to American elbow grease and an honest-to-god hard day’s work: Offerman Woodshop. Captained by hirsute woodworker, actor, comedian, and writer Nick Offerman, the shop produces not only fine handcrafted furniture, but also fun stuff–kazoos, baseball bats, ukuleles, mustache combs, even cedar-strip canoes. Now Nick and his ragtag crew of champions want to share their experience of working at the Woodshop, tell you all about their passion for the discipline of woodworking, and teach you how to make a handful of their most popular projects along the way.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGardenista : the definitive guide to stylish outdoor spaces / Michelle Slatalla.
“Our homes’ outdoor spaces can–and should–be as welcoming and carefully considered as our living rooms; when treated as extensions of our homes, these spaces enrich our lives immeasurably… The book contains lushly photographed tours of 12 enviable gardens; planting guides for a variety of climates and color palettes; in-depth case studies on more than a dozen outdoor structures (from yoga studios to chicken coops); do-it-yourself projects; easy-to-implement design ideas; “The Gardenista 100,” a guide to timeless everyday objects for the outdoors; plus advice from landscape professionals.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe creative home : inspiring ideas for beautiful living / Geraldine James.
The Creative Home brings together the best of Geraldine James’s Creative series of books and shows how to apply these ideas in your own home. There are four chapters on different areas of the house–Cook and Eat features kitchens and dining areas, Relax and Socialize covers living rooms, Work and Create includes home offices and studios, and Sleep and Bathe, of course, shows bedrooms and bathrooms. A final chapter, Store and Display, shows how your home can be used to show off your treasures and store your collections.” (adapted frpm Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiving with pattern : color, texture, and print at home / Rebecca Atwood ; photographs by Emily Johnston.
“Pattern is the strongest element in any room. In Living with Pattern, Rebecca Atwood demystifies how to use that element, a design concept that often confounds and confuses, demonstrating how to seamlessly mix and layer prints throughout a house. She covers pattern usage you probably already have, such as on your duvet cover or in the living room rug, and she also reveals the unexpected places you might not have thought to add it: bathroom tiles, an arrangement of book spines in a reading nook, or windowpane gridding in your entryway…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEat, drink, nap : bringing the house home.
“The quintessential cooking, style, and decoration book from Soho House, the world’s leadingnbsp;private club–with U.S. locations in Miami, New York, Hollywood, and Chicago. In the 17 years since the first Soho House opened its doors, they’ve perfected the art of entertaining:nbsp; how to make people feel at home, how to cook food they love, how to make a room stylish but welcoming, how to throw a party, get the lighting right, mix a cocktail, design a bedroom, build an art collection.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe big book of makerspace projects : inspiring makers to experiment, create, and learn / Colleen Graves, Aaron Graves.
The Big Book of Makerspace Projects: Inspiring Makers to Experiment, Create, and Learn offers practical tips for beginners and open-ended challenges for advanced makers. Each project features non-technical, step-by-step instructions with photos and illustrations to ensure success and expand your imagination. You will learn recyclables hacks, smartphone tweaks, paper circuits, e-textiles, musical instruments, coding and programming, 3-D printing, and much, much more!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Monocle guide to drinking & dining.
“In this vibrant large-format manual, discover and explore good food and its power to shape both people and places… This world of slowish food and pleasures informs the forthcoming guide to food and drink. As with much of Monocle’s work, it inspires those who would like to rescue a forlorn vineyard or corner store while revealing the best market in Helsinki or café in Auckland. It speaks to a global generation who may hold an MBA but feel that a decent burger chain is the way ahead. From famed faces sharing tales over supper to anecdotes from raconteurs and a sprinkling of recipes, our editors have prepared a truly nourishing experience. Hungry for more?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiving design / Jamie Durie & Nadine Bush.
“”International award-winning designer and TV host Jamie Durie has long been passionate about creating outdoor rooms – luxurious living spaces where we can cook, eat, bathe and sleep outdoors – but he is equally driven to create interiors that bring the outdoors inside. At the heart of his design philosophy is his belief that the closer we live to nature, the happier we feel. Learn how to create a home that is a living sanctuary and make the natural world part of your everyday life.”” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little book of hygge : the Danish way to live well / Meik Wiking.
“Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge. ‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’ You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New recent eAudiobook Non-Fiction

One word: Springsteen. Or, if you’d prefer three, Born to Run. That’s right, the king of recession rock has launched his memoir, and we’ve got you the eAudiobook. Sharing the bill are none other than writer and blogger Jessica Valenti and comedian Phoebe Robinson, as well as the latest work from Noam Chomsky. So in the words of The Boss – sit tight, take hold (and sign in to Overdrive!).

Overdrive cover Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
“Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fuelled his imagination, as well as the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti
“Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential. Sex Object explores the painful, funny and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Forty Autumns, by Nina Willner
“A former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family—of five women separated by the Iron Curtain, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She takes us deep into the terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer. A beautifully written story of five women whose spirits could not be broken.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Soul at the White Heat, by Joyce Carol Oates
Why do we write? With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life and all its attendant anxieties, joys and futilities. Leading her quest is a desire to understand the source of the writer’s inspiration—do subjects haunt those that might bring them back to life until the writer submits? Or does something “happen” to us, a sudden ignition of a burning flame? Oates provides unique insights in this candid dispatch from the writing room.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson
“Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share of prejudice: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend”; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel; she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel A. van der Kolk
“In The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga and other therapies.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Time Travel, by James Gleick
“From the author of The Information and Chaos, here is a mind-bending exploration of time travel: its subversive origins, its evolution in both literature and science and its influence on our understanding of time itself. James Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea that becomes part of contemporary culture—from Marcel Proust to Woody Allen. He investigates the inevitable paradoxes and porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Carry On, Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton
“Glennon Melton believes that by shedding our weapons and armour, we can stop hiding, competing, striving for the mirage of perfection, and ultimately build a better life in our hearts, homes and communities. Readers will find a wise and witty friend who will embolden them to cut themselves a break and commit to small acts of love that can have an extraordinary impact.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky
“The world’s leading intellectual offers a probing examination of the waning American Century, the nature of U.S. policies post-9/11 and the perils of valuing power above democracy and human rights. Drawing on a wide range of examples, from the expanding drone assassination program to the threat of nuclear warfare, he offers unexpected and nuanced insights into the workings of imperial power on our increasingly chaotic planet.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Beliefs books : January edition

If you’re looking for inspiration, challenge, or reflection, there’s some great holiday reading to begin the year. Two important recommended titles to note are The Little History Of Religion, and the latest biography of Samuel Marsden.

Syndetics book coverThe world, the flesh & the Devil : the life and opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765-1838, by Andrew Sharp.
“By diving deeply into key moments – the voyage out, the disputes with Macquarie, the founding of missions – Sharp gets us to reimagine the world as Marsden saw it: always under threat from the Prince of Darkness, in need of ‘a bold reprover of vice’, a world written in the words of the King James Bible. Andrew Sharp takes us back into the nineteenth-century world, and an evangelical mind, to reveal the past as truly a foreign country”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverTalking God : philosophers on belief, edited by Gary Gutting.
Where does belief come from? This book features conversations with twelve skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and believers including challenges from evolution, cutting-edge physics and cosmology, and meditations on the value of secular humanism. Insights on Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as Judaism and Christianity are offered.

Syndetics book coverA little history of religion, by Richard Holloway.
Richard Holloway begins at the dawn of religious belief and retells, quite succinctly, the history of religion to the twenty-first century. Suitable for those with faith and those without, he accentuates tolerance, mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith. The discussion covers all of the major religions, and is simple without being simplistic. Evil done in the name of religion is not overlooked. This is an important snapshot to aid understanding different beliefs.

Syndetics book coverAwakening from the daydream : reimagining the Buddha’s wheel of life, by David Nichtern.
“Although traditionally thought of as modes of reincarnation, Nichtern describes the realms as mental states that we move between, sometimes quite rapidly. He clearly and briefly describes how each blocks our path towards enlightenment but also contain unique possibilities. He also provides concise and easily implemented meditation practices for coping with the negative effects of each and includes a basic guide to karma and advice for finding a spiritual guide. …this is a clear, and current introduction to Buddhist thought and practice.” (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics).

Syndetics book coverThe great good thing : a secular Jew comes to faith in Christ, by Andrew Klavan.
Klavan shares his own story – growing up Jewish in New York, and his eventual conversion to Christianity, at the end of a long search, through university and professional help. But he was gifted to receive an encounter with the living Christ, the Jewish Messiah, which brought him to a sure knowledge of his place in the cosmos and God’s kingdom. God’s answer to his prayer was “wildly generous, an act of extravagant grace.”

Syndetics book coverAngels on Earth : inspiring stories of fate, friendship, and the power of connections, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski.
An inspiring book about the incredible impact that acts of kindness from strangers can have – impacting not only the receiver but also the giver. Schroff’s own journey has deepened her belief that angels (those sent by God) are all around us.

Syndetics book coverA Jewish guide in the Holy Land : how Christian pilgrims made me Israeli, by Jackie Feldman.
Jackie Feldman (born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New York) reflects on his work guiding many groups of Christian pilgrims – “counterintuitive work” for more than 30 years. The writing style is a mix of memoir and sociological study, which also documents his personal journey across this time.

Syndetics book coverThe universe has your back : transform fear to faith, by Gabrielle Bernstein.
“New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. Each story and lesson in the book guides readers to release the blocks to what they most long for: happiness, security and clear direction. The lessons help readers relinquish the need to control so they can relax into a sense of certainty and freedom.” (drawn from the publisher’s description).

Syndetics book coverMaking life easy : a simple guide to a divinely inspired life, by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
“Dr. Northrup explores the essential truth that has guided her ever since medical school: Our bodies, minds, and souls are profoundly intertwined. Feeling your best is about far more than physical health; it’s also about having a healthy emotional life and a robust spiritual life… You will learn to: – Untie the knots of blame and guilt that harm your health – Use sexual energy consciously to increase vitality – Balance your microbiome through healthy eating – Cultivate a healthy ego that serves you (not vice versa) – Communicate directly with the Divine.” (drawn from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPreaching : communicating faith in an age of skepticism, by Timothy Keller.
“We can discern at least three levels of “Word ministry” in the Bible. … Every Christian should be able to give both teaching (didaskalia, the ordinary word for instruction) and admonition (noutheo — a common word for strong, life-changing counsel) that convey to others the teachings of the Bible. This must be done carefully, though informally, in conversations that are usually one on one.”(drawn from chapter 1)

Writers to the fore this festive season – Recent biography picks

It is fitting that we mark a New Zealand Christmas with the award-winning biography of an exceptional man who embodied the best of our two cultures. Read his story in this month’s top pick Te Oka – pākehā kaumātua.
However the focus of this selection is very much on writers. This year marks the bi-centenary of the death of Charlotte Bronte, and it has been marked by Penguin with release of a major scholarly biography. Other writers featured are Beryl Bainbridge, Angela Carter, Patrick Leigh Fermor and the wonderful Alan Bennett. Wherever you are these holidays dear biography-lovers, take time to read!

Syndetics book coverTe Oka – pākehā kaumātua : the life of Jock McEwen / Mary McEwen.
“Jock McEwen, administrator, historian, linguist, composer and master carver, was a well-known figure in the Ma-aori world and the wider Pacific for over half a century. Born in Cheltenham near Feilding in 1915 he was brought up with a strong Presbyterian work ethic, which he retained until his death in 2010. Jock came into early contact with the Ma-aori community at Aorangi, where he learned to speak fluent te reo and developed interests in whakapapa (including his own) and tikanga M-aaori.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverI loved her in the movies : memories of Hollywood’s legendary actresses / Robert J. Wagner with Scott Eyman.
“Film and television actor and New York Times bestselling author Robert Wagner’s memoir of the great women movie stars he has known.In a career that has spanned more than sixty years Robert Wagner has witnessed the twilight of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rise of television, becoming a beloved star in both media”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverA room in Athens / Frances Karlen Santamaria.
“First published in 1970, A Room in Athens is the remarkable journal of a free-
spirited, young American woman abroad in Greece with her writer husband in 1964. Inspired by the sixties’ vogue for the exuberant land of Zorba and Lawrence Durrell, they seek an Aegean idyll-but their plans threaten to go awry when she learns she is pregnant.”Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverBeryl Bainbridge : love by all sorts of means : a biography / Brendan King.
“Dame Beryl Bainbridge was one of the most popular and recognisable English novelists of her generation. She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and her critically acclaimed novels The Dressmaker (1973), The Bottle Factory Outing (1974), An Awfully Big Adventure (1990), Every Man For Himself (1996) and Master Georgie (1998), confirmed her status as one of the major literary figures of the past fifty years.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverCharlotte Brontë : a life / Claire Harman.
‘There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…’ With these words Charlotte Bronté began Jane Eyre and changed English literature irrevocably. Now, on the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth, Claire Harman’s landmark biography provides a bold new view of one of Britain’s best loved writers, revealing that her life possessed all the drama and tragedy of a Gothic tale.”Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe invention of Angela Carter / Edmund Gordon.
“Angela Carter is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and beguiling writers of the last century. Her work stands out for its bawdiness and linguistic zest, its hospitality to the fantastic and the absurd, and its extraordinary inventiveness and range. Her life was as modern and as unconventional as anything in her fiction.Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne in 1940, her story spans the latter half of the twentieth century”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverDashing for the post : the letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor / selected and edited by Adam Sisman.
“<””A revelatory collection of letters written by the author of The Broken Road. Handsome, spirited and erudite, Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and one of the greatest travel writers of his generation. He was also a spectacularly gifted friend”. (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverDown the dirt roads : a memoir of love, loss and the land / Rachael Treasure.
‘For me, being in a paddock means anything is possible…’ Country girl and bestselling novelist Rachael Treasure had worked hard to build a long-dreamed-of lifestyle on her own patch of dirt in Tasmania’s rugged and beautiful wilderness. But through the breakdown of her marriage, Rachael lost her family farm and, in her words, lost her way in life. Discovering an all-new compass to live by, she took her two kids and her dogs and left the beaten path.” (Syndetics summary).

A good one you might have missed:

Syndetics book coverSkating to Antarctica / Jenny Diski.Skating to Antarctica
“This strange and brilliant book recounts Jenny Diski’s journey to Antarctica last year, intercut with another journey into her own heart and soul…a book of dazzling variety, which weaves disquisitions on indolence, truth, inconsistency, ambiguousness, the elephant seal, Shackleton, boredom and over and over again memory, into a sparse narrative, caustic observation and vivid description of the natural world. While Diski’s writing is laconic, her images are haunting.’
Elspeth Barker, Independent on Sunday” (Syndetics summary).

A good one in another part of the library:

Syndetics book coverKeeping on keeping on / Alan Bennett.
“‘I seem to have banged on this year rather more than usual. I make no apology for that, nor am I nervous that it will it make a jot of difference. I shall still be thought to be kindly, cosy and essentially harmless. I am in the pigeon-hole marked ‘no threat’ and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a teddy bear.” (Syndetics summary).

James McNeish, the celebrated New Zealand novelist, playwright, and biographer, died in November aged 85.

Syndetics book coverTouchstones : memories of people and place / James McNeish.
“A young man leaves home as a deckhand on a Norwegian freighter, to travel the world. He returns to New Zealand changed almost beyond recognition. Along the way he meets nine people who influence his life and help make him the writer he becomes.” (Publisher information)

New Books on Movies & TV programmes

New books on movies and TV offer a great summer read in a wide variety of topics. They include the lovely biography about Bill Murray and the official guide book of the much-loved TV series Outlander. A Star is Born and The Fashion of Film can be fantastic coffee table books. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverThe Tao of Bill Murray : real-life stories of joy, enlightenment, and party crashing / by Gavin Edwards ; illustrations by R. Sikoryak.
“People love Bill Murray movies, but even more, they love crazy stories about Bill Murray out in the world. For The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing, best-selling author Gavin Edwards tracked down the best authentic Bill Murray stories. People savour these anecdotes; they consume them with a bottomless hunger; they routinely turn them into viral hits. The book not only has the greatest hits of Bill’s eye-opening interactions with the world, it puts them in the context of a larger philosophy (revealed to the author in an exclusive interview): Bill Murray is secretly teaching us all how to live our lives.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLast girl before freeway : the life, loves, losses, and liberation of Joan Rivers / Leslie Bennetts.
“Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Her life was a dramatic roller-coaster of triumphant highs and devastating lows: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers’ career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life. A juicy, intimate biography of one of the greatest comedians ever-a performer whose sixty year career was borne, simply, out of a desire to make people laugh so she could feel loved-LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world around her.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe making of Outlander : the series : the official guide to seasons one & two / Tara Bennett ; introduction by Diana Gabaldon.
“Get an exclusive look behind the scenes of the first two seasons of Outlander with this official, fully illustrated companion to the hit Starz television series based on the bestselling novels. Best of all, The Making of Outlander offers a veritable feast of lavish photographs–including an array of images spotlighting the stars in all their characters’ grandeur and up-close personal portraits. Featuring an introduction by Diana Gabaldon herself, this magnificent insider’s look at the world of the Outlander TV series is the companion all fans will want by their side.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA star is born : the moment an actress becomes an icon / George Tiffin.
“Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve… Feted, adored and desired, successful movie actresses are icons of modern culture. But what was it that made them true stars? Was it looks, talent, drive, personality – or just plain luck? What was the first captivating image or unforgettable line that etched them indelibly on our collective memory – and transformed the screen actress of the passing movie credit into the screen goddess of eternal legend? In a sequence of elegant pen-portraits, George Tiffin takes a microscope to the movies and the moments that established 75 female icons of cinema. These penportraits are supplemented by quotes, notes and anecdotes, including script excerpts from key scenes. A STAR IS BORN is a seductive celebration of the eternal feminine at the heart of the movie business – and an informal and engaging history of cinema itself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fashion of film : how cinema has inspired fashion / Amber Butchart.
“The Fashion of Film is the perfect book for the fashion fan. In it, fashion historian Amber Butchart takes a journey through the last 100 years of cinema style and its influence on the catwalks. With beautiful imagery and thoroughly-researched text, she looks at how our most iconic movies have transformed the world of high fashion. Karl Lagerfeld was influenced by the dystopian vision of Metropolis, the picture-perfect world of Wes Anderson’s films are echoed in the collections of Miuccia Prada, and Audrey Hepburn was key to Hubert de Givenchy’s work. Fashion designers have long taken their inspiration from silver screen idols, and continue to do so today.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe real James Dean : intimate memories from those who knew him best / edited by Peter L. Winkler ; foreword by George Stevens.
“In the decades following his death, many of those who knew James Dean best–actors, directors, friends, lovers (both men and women), photographers, and Hollywood columnists–shared stories of their first-person experiences with him in interviews and in the articles and autobiographies they wrote. Their recollections of Dean became lost in fragile back issues of movie magazines and newspapers and in out-of-print books that are extremely hard to find. Until now. The Real James Dean is the first book of its kind: a rich collection spanning six decades of writing in which many of the people whose lives were touched by Dean recall their indelible experiences with him in their own words.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe impossible has happened : the life and work of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek : a biography / by Lance Parkin.
“8 September 2016 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the debut of the world’s most successful science fiction television series: Star Trek. In this new biography Lance Parkin, author of Aurum’s acclaimed Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore, will go in search of the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. This book will reveal how an undistinguished writer of cop shows set out to produce ‘Hornblower in space’ and ended up with an optimistic, almost utopian view of humanity’s future that has been watched and loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStanley Kubrick and me : thirty years at his side / Emilio D’Alessandro with Filippo Ulivieri ; translated from the Italian by Simon Marsh.
“This intimate portrait by his former personal assistant and confidante reveals the man behind the legendary filmmaker–for the first time. Emilio was the silent guy in the room when the script for The Shining was discussed. He still has the coat Jack Nicholson used in the movie. He was an extra on the set of Eyes Wide Shut , Kubrick’s last movie. He knew all the actors and producers Kubrick worked with; he observed firsthand Kubrick’s working methods down to the smallest detail. Making no claim of expertise in cinematography but with plenty of anecdotes, he offers a completely fresh perspective on the artist and a warm, affecting portrait of a generous, kind, caring man who was a perfectionist in work and life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn such good company : eleven years of laughter, mayhem, and fun in the sandbox / Carol Burnett.
“Comedy legend Carol Burnett tells the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of her iconic weekly variety series, The Carol Burnett Show. In In Such Good Company , Carol Burnett pulls back the curtain on the twenty-five-time Emmy-Award winning show that made television history, and she reminisces about the outrageously funny and tender moments that made working on the series as much fun as watching it. This book is Carol’s love letter to a golden era in television history through the lens of her brilliant show. Get the best seat in the house for “eleven years of laughter, mayhem, and fun in the sandbox.”” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe birth of a nation : Nat Turner and the making of a movement / edited by Nate Parker.Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement
“This official tie-in to the highly acclaimed film, The Birth of a Nation , surveys the history and legacy of Nat Turner, the leader of one of the most renowned slave rebellions on American soil, while also exploring Turner’s relevance to contemporary dialogues on race relations. Based on astounding events in American history, The Birth of a Nation is the epic story of one man championing the spirit of resistance as he leads a rough-and-tumble group into a revolt against injustice and slavery.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSanford Meisner on acting / Sanford Meisner and Dennis Longwell ; introduction by Sydney Pollack.
“This book, written in collaboration with Dennis Longwell, follows an acting class of eight men and eight women for fifteen months, beginning with the most rudimentary exercises and ending with affecting and polished scenes from contemporary American plays. Throughout these pages Meisner is delight–always empathizing with his students and urging them onward, provoking emotion, laughter, and growing technical mastery from his charges. With an introduction by Sydney Pollack, director of “Out of Africa” and “Tootsie,” who worked with Meisner for five years.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlan Partridge : nomad / Alan Partridge with Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons and Steve Coogan.
“In ALAN PARTRIDGE: NOMAD, Alan dons his boots, windcheater and scarf and embarks on an odyssey through a place he once knew – it’s called Britain – intent on completing a journey of immense personal significance. Diarising his ramble in the form of a ‘journey journal’, Alan details the people and places he encounters, ruminates on matters large and small and, on a final leg fraught with danger, becomes – not a man (because he was one to start off with) – but a better, more inspiring example of a man.” (Syndetics summary)

New Graphic Novels for December

Another fantastic selection of new Graphic Novels recently added to our most popular collection, from noir crime to horror, historical memoirs to suspense/thrillers, science fiction to comedy. There is something for all fans of this genre. Highly recommended is the brilliantly illustrated Cruising through the Louvre by David Prudhomme.

Syndetics book coverThe Black Dahlia / based on the novel by James Ellroy ; adapted by Matz, with David Fincher ; illustrated by Miles Hyman.
“LAPD investigators Bucky Bleichart and Lee Blanchard find themselves enthralled with the mysterious and brutal murder of a beautiful young woman, Elizabeth Short. Their obsession takes a dark turn as they delve into the underbelly of Hollywood and the heart of the dead woman’s tortured and twisted past. It is a case that will test their mettle and their sanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHot dog taste test : a cook [crossed out] book / by Lisa Hanawalt.
“With devastatingly funny comics, saliva-stimulating art, and deliciously screwball lists Lisa Hanawalt skewers the pomposities of foodie subculture. She muses on pop culture, relationships, and the animal in all of us.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe stand on guard / Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce.
“A subversive, action-packed military thriller. Set 100 years in our future, the story follows a heroic band of Canadian civilians turned freedom fighters who must defend their homeland from invasion by a technologically superior opponent, the United States of America.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParacuellos : children of the defeated in Franco’s Fascist Spain/ Carlos Giménez ; translation, Sonya Jones.
“An autobiographical account of the plight of the children of the defeated Republicans in Fascist Spain.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJacked. Volume 1 / Eric Kripke, writer ; John Higgins with Sally Jane Hurst and Marc Olivent, artists.
“Josh Jaffe, a neurotic family man mid-midlife crisis, buys an online “smart pill” to increase his focus and jolt him out of his slump. But to Josh’s surprise, the pill gives him incredible strength and power, but its cost is that it’s extremely addictive. This irreverent and brutally realistic story examines both the mighty highs and humiliating lows of being a real-life superhero.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDay of the magicians / Michelangelo La Neve and Marco Nizzoli ; introduction by Alexandro Jodorowsky.
“Drazen; a child kidnapped, trained by a mysterious band of magicians, and destined to seek out and destroy his own father. Lancaster; a father who will stop at nothing to achieve his own plans, including manipulating his son’s childhood friend. Torn between destiny and desire, the young magician will be forced to confront these conflicts, with terrible consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSavior / story, Todd McFarlane, Brian Holguin ; cover/story art, Clayton Crain.
“A mysterious man appears, with no background, no memory and no place to call home. But he has powers that seem to resemble those we learned about in Sunday School. Is it possible that he is our ‘Savior’ in the flesh? And if he is, then why doesn’t he know who he is or how he got his unique abilities? Some will see him as a hero or more. Others will see him as an enemy with God-like powers, here to disrupt the status quo of what we already believe. Many will rally behind him, while many others will denounce him. But none of us will be able to ignore him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCruising through the Louvre / David Prudhomme ; translation by Joe Johnson.
“Author David Prudhomme meanders through the Louvre, feeling as if in the panels of a giant comic while he himself is creating his own. In this institution, all manner of people from all over the world rub elbows quietly. So he decides to cruise through the Louvre at a quick pace, not to look at the art but to observe the people and their interaction with it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClean room. Volume 1, Immaculate conception / Gail Simone, writer ; Jon Davis-Hunt, artist.
“Somewhere between the realms of self-help and religion lies the Honest World Foundation. Its creator started out as an obscure writer of disposable horror fiction who decided to change the world, one mind at a time. Now its adherents rule Hollywood while obeying their leader’s every command. That’s almost all that anyone knows about the movement, or cult, founded by reclusive guru Astrid Mueller. But reporter Chloe Pierce is sure that there’s something deeper hiding behind Honest World’s facade. Her fiancé was a devoted follower of Mueller, right up to the moment that he blew his brains out while holding a copy of her book. Now Chloe wants answers from the woman whose words command the loyalty of millions, and she’s ready to storm the top-secret sanctuary known as the Clean Room to get them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIrmina / Barbara Yelin ; afterword by Alexander Korb.
“In the mid-1930s, Irmina, an ambitious young German, moves to London. At a cocktail party, she meets Howard Green, one of the first black students at Oxford, who, like Irmina, is working towards an independent existence. However, their relationship comes to an abrupt end when Irmina, constrained by the political situation in Hitler’s Germany, is forced to return home. As war approaches and her contact with Howard is broken, it becomes clear to Irmina that prosperity will only be possible through the betrayal of her ideals.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for December, this month featuring New Zealand fiction

There are many great reads in this selection for our ‘Other Genre’ category that features New Zealand fiction. Included is the long awaited forth novel by Catherine Chidgey titled, The Wish Child. New novels also from Deborah Challinor and Emma Neale, and highly recommended is the debut novel Strip by Sue Wootton.

Syndetics book coverThe cloud leopard’s daughter / Deborah Challinor.
“On the gold fields of the colonies, enemies are easily made. In the confines of a ship, they can turn deadly. When Kitty and Rian Farrell sail their schooner Katipo III into Dunedin Harbour in 1863, they are on tenterhooks. The new Otago goldfields have attracted all-comers, including their friend Wong Fu from Ballarat, who has sent a message for their help. To their surprise, Wong Fu reveals he is more than a mere fortune seeker, he is in fact a Cloud Leopard tong master and his daughter, Bao, has been kidnapped and taken to opium-ridden China. Kitty and Rian agree to retrieve the missing Bao, but as they sail closer to their quarry the stakes jump dramatically. And little do they know that the deadliest threat lies in their midst.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wish child / Catherine Chidgey.
“It’s 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who cuts prohibited words such as love and mercy out of books. Erich is an only child living a rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions. Drawn together as Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Sieglinde and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRuby and the blue sky / a novel by Katherine Dewar.
“Grammy night, 2021. Ruby wins ‘Best Song’ and makes an impulsive acceptance speech that excites nature lovers across the world. While Ruby and her band celebrate, an extreme evangelical sect, funded by covert paymasters, dispatches a disciple on a ruthless mission to England. As the band plays its sold-out tour, Ruby is pursued by eco-groupies insisting she use her new fame to fight climate change. In a storm and drought-plagued world, run by cynical old men and self-serving corporations, could one young woman lead change?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe pretty delicious café / Danielle Hawkins.
“On the outskirts of a quiet hamlet on the New Zealand coast, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored ‘villa’ cafe. The busy season, they know, is just around the corner. There are plenty of other things distracting them too. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother; Lia’s older half-brother, who lives hours away on the family farm, looks like he might be disinherited by their curmudgeonly father; and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over. And there’s all the delicious cooking. Then, when a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, it seems a healthy new interest could develop. But the past won’t let them be, and when Lia’s ex becomes dangerous, she must decide whether events rule her life or she does.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCan’t help falling / Kara Isaac.Can’t Help Falling: A Novel
“Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter facade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England, home to C.S. Lewis, to try and make amends for the damage she has caused. Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers, until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream. When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Fixing Mrs Philpott / Rachel McAlpine.
“Zoe Philpott packs up her yellow caravan and drives away from post-earthquake Christchurch and a husband in denial. Her very identity is under threat. That yellow caravan acts like a magnet for other women with secret struggles and satisfactions. While Zoe pulls herself together, and her marriage too she is on the receiving end of amazing advice and outrageous revelations. From crisis and chaos Zoe gains new friends and an explosion of confidence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDaylight second / Kelly Ana Morey.
“In a new novel about the Australian race horse Phar Lap, award -winning writer, Kelly Ana Morey recreates the short life of the gigantic chestnut gelding who became the darling of the Australian race tracks during the Depression years. From Timaru in New Zealand where he was born, to Australia where he rewrote track and race records and finally Mexico where he would run his last race, Daylight Second chronicles the death threats and attempts on Phar Lap’s life that were made before the running of two of the three Melbourne Cups he contested, his many triumphs including winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932, and finally his death in America in mysterious circumstances.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrip / Sue Wootton.
“Their dreams of parenthood dashed, Harvey and Isobel go for dream jobs instead. Harvey hangs up his stethoscope to become a cartoonist and Isobel takes a promotion at the local museum. Then an abandoned baby comes up for adoption, and Harvey and Isobel discover a family is more work than they bargained for. By Fleur’s eighth birthday it’s all come together nicely, but that’s before a voice from the past threatens to nuke their hard-won happiness. Harvey doesn’t stop to think. He acts, and with tragic consequences” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe student body / written by former police detective Simon Wyatt.
“A popular fifteen-year-old girl is strangled to death at a school camp on Auckland’s west coast. The posing of the body suggests a sexual motive. Nick Knight, a week into his role as a newly promoted detective sergeant, is tasked with the critical job of leading the Suspects Team. Nick, who turned his back on a lucrative career as a lawyer, is well-versed at dealing with the dark sides of human nature. With no shortage of suspects, he sets a cracking pace on the trail of the murderer, grappling his own personal demons along the way. But are things really as they seem?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)


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