Category: Recent picks

A walk down memory lane – NZ Collection Recent Picks

This month the New Zealand Collection takes a walk down memory lane with two writers reflecting on the New Zealand of their childhoods. We also get a look into the lives of conservation stalwart Alan Mark and filmmaker Geoff Murphy. Design and art feature in books on vintage paua jewellery and the Wellington based WOW phenomenon. An historical whodunit set in Taranaki at a time of uneasy race relations in the 1880′s and a blog written by a dying father for his unborn daughter bring this New Zealand Collection recent arrivals almost to an end but in light of the upcoming weekend of Rugby world cup finals the last two picks are both All Black focused.

Syndetics book coverTaking my mother to the opera / Diane Brown.
“Many readers will recognise the New Zealand so vividly portrayed here, as Brown marshals deeply personal events and childhood memories in a delightfully astute, understated personal memoir.” (Abridged back cover)

Syndetics book coverThe dreaming land / Martin Edmond.
“In the evocative prose that makes him one of our finest writers, Martin Edmond recalls his experiences of growing up in rural New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s. The son of schoolteachers, Edmond’s early life was shaped by his father’s developing career and the moves it dictated: from Ohakune, to Greytown, to Huntly, to Heretaunga. The Dreaming Land shows us the making of a thinker and a writer. Edmond documents the people, locations, and events that made a lasting impression on him, and maps the development of his mental landscape, a landscape marked by curiosity, empathy and the capacity for acute observation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA life on film / Geoff Murphy.
“‘I’m taking this bloody car to Invercargill!’ It was the line that had cinema audiences cheering. Goodbye Pork Pie became an instant classic, and announced the arrival of a major new talent in director Geoff Murphy. With his next two films, Utu and The Quiet Earth, he cemented his reputation as a pioneer of New Zealand cinema. He’d come a long way from his days as a struggling school teacher, and then a member of a madcap band of merry pranksters known as Blerta, founded by his great friend and collaborator Bruno Lawrence. But it was the same sense of adventure – with a healthy dose of Kiwi ingenuity – that defined every stage of his career. In this candid and funny memoir, Geoff Murphy looks back on a life in (and on) film – from do-it-yourself shoots in the 1960s to epic work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStanding my ground : a voice for nature conservation / Alan F. Mark
“For more than five decades, Alan Mark has been a voice for conservation in New Zealand. From his call in the 1960s for the establishment of tussock-grassland reserves in the South Island high country to his involvement in the 2011–13 campaign to save the Denniston Plateau from mining, he has been a passionate and effective advocate for the preservation of areas of ecological importance. In Standing My Ground, Alan describes the challenges and achievements, the frustrations and successes that have made up his remarkable life, now in its ninth decade. As well as providing an important record of New Zealand’s conservation battles and documenting the life of an outstanding New Zealander, Standing My Ground is an inspiring reminder of the power of individuals to make a difference.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVintage paua shell jewellery : art souvenir, tourist kitsch, Kiwi icon / Elly van de Wijdeven.
“All vintage jewellery is collectible and none more so than that made from paua shell. No longer regarded as the tourist kitsch of yesteryear, the book explores this fascinating history and shares the many stories of how and why it came to be produced and by whom, and also who bought it and for what reason, whether as a souvenir of New Zealand or to commemorate a special place or event. The accompanying narrative traces its roots from the Classic pre-European Maori period, through the years of its main production in New Zealand from the 1920s to the 1980s, before the market was flooded by cheap, mass-produced imports, to its present status as Kiwi icon.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWorld of WearableArt : 30 designers tell their stories / text by Naomi Arnold.
“First book from the World of WearableArt with a serious text that focuses on the designers and their stories. Unprecedented interest in WOW, now in its 27th year, with an annual audience of over 45,000 attending the Awards Show in Wellington. Very appealing as an inspirational book for artists, designers, students and craftspeople.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe many deaths of Mary Dobie : murder, politics and revenge in nineteenth-century New Zealand / David Hastings.
“‘Shocking outrage’, the Evening Post in Wellington when they learned in November 1880 that a young woman called Mary Dobie had been found lying under a flax bush near Ōpunake on the Taranaki coast with her throat cut so deep her head was almost severed. In the midst of tensions between Māori and Pākehā, the murder ignited questions: Pākehā feared it was an act of political terrorism in response to the state’s determination to take the land of the tribes in the region. Māori thought it would be the cue for the state to use force against them, especially the pacifist settlement at Parihaka. Was it rape or robbery, was the killer Māori or Pākehā? In this book, David Hastings takes us back to that lonely road on the Taranaki coast in nineteenth-century New Zealand.” (Adapted from Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverMessage to my girl : a dying father’s powerful legacy of hope / Dr Jared Noel with David W. Williams.
“Doctor Jared Noel knew he was dying for almost six years, from the age of 25. But when it looked as though he would not live to see the birth of his child, he began a Givealittle crowd-funding campaign to raise money for a course of chemo treatment that would keep him alive long enough to meet his unborn child. This remarkable campaign, covered by nationwide media, raised an incredible $170,000 in two days. Jared not only lived to see Elise born but also enjoyed her first nine months. Jared’s blog, initially written to alleviate boredom during rounds of chemotherapy, attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. This is Jared’s story, but it is also a profound meditation on life and death, and everything in between.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLegends in black : New Zealand rugby greats on why we win / Tom Johnson with Andy Martin, Geoff Watson and Margot Butcher.
“In the world of rugby, the All Blacks have an unsurpassed legacy of success. We are the best of the best. Legends in Black comprises frank, no-holds-barred interviews with New Zealand rugby greats, each sharing their thoughts on every aspect of what it means to be an All Black: first selection, the haka, international and provincial rugby, professionalism, team culture, camaraderie, technical advances, coaching and leadership. A one-of-a-kind account of New Zealand rugby, Legends in Black draws on unprecedented access to some of the biggest names in the game – revealing the secrets to why we win.” (Abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack obsession : the All Blacks’ quest for World Cup success / Gregor Paul.
“This thought-provoking book is a search for answers to the vexing phenomenon of why the world’s undisputed greatest rugby team can’t win the World Cup. It is an in-depth investigation that explores how societal change, combined with the arrival of professionalism, has impacted on the ability of the All Blacks to perform on the biggest stage. The end result is a compelling and authoritative read that gives the most detailed and comprehensive answer to a question everyone has asked but no one has ever satisfactorily answered.” (Abridged Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ fiction for October featuring New Zealand writers

An amazing selection of new fiction from New Zealand writers, that reveals their skill and talent, over a wide range of different genres. We promise hours of entertaining and very satisfying reading.

Syndetics book coverA crooked rib / Judy Corbalis.
“A compelling novel based on the disastrous and scandalous marriage of New Zealand’s Governor Sir George Grey and his lively young wife, Eliza Lucy. Trapped in an increasingly loveless union, Sir George and his wife, Eliza Lucy, each sought affection elsewhere. Lady Grey’s indiscretion caused her to be cast off by her husband and vilified throughout colonial and domestic Victorian high society. Meanwhile the nature of Sir George’s liaison with his young Maori protégé was to remain only the subject of speculation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverR.H.I. : two novellas / Tim Corballis.
“A researcher sits in the archive of the British Psychoanalytic Society in London, examining fragile pieces of paper, small notebooks, and diaries. A writer in Berlin finds himself haunted by the city’s socialist-era buildings, and by their designer. Each begins to sketch the historical figure at the heart of his fixation. Joan Riviere was an early English psychoanalyst and Sigmund Freud’s earliest translator. Hermann Henselmann was a German architect, famous for many of the post-war buildings of the German Democratic Republic. The two novellas about their lives form an incomplete history of Europe’s 20th century-its wars, its politics and thought.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrust no one : a thriller / Paul Cleave.
“A famous crime writer struggles to differentiate between his own reality and the frightening plot lines he’s created for the page. Jerry Grey is known to most of the world by his crime writing pseudonym, Henry Cutter–a name that has been keeping readers at the edge of their seats for more than a decade. Recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of forty-nine, Jerry’s crime writing days are coming to an end. His twelve books tell stories of brutal murders committed by bad men, of a world out of balance, of victims finding the darkest forms of justice. As his dementia begins to break down the wall between his life and the lives of the characters he has created, Jerry confesses his worst secret: The stories are real. He knows this because he committed the crimes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lost one : the Romanov legacy / by Penelope Haines.
“She is an orphan, independent, unattached and free of any personal ties. So why is Purdie Davis, an unexceptional nurse from New Zealand, receiving unsolicited gifts? They are nothing ordinary but unusual, valuable antiques that must have a story behind them. Purdie doesn’t know their source, and has no idea of their significance. Is she wrong to find this attention menacing? A romantic saga spanning three generations, The Lost One begins as Kyril Komarov flees Moscow, escaping the Russian Revolution. The story crosses the globe as Purdie learns about her family and of the treasure entrusted to their protection at the dawn of the twentieth century, a treasure that now could put Purdie’s own life in danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJames Cook’s lost world / Graeme Lay.
“On his third and tragic voyage of discovery Captain James Cook traverses the world yet again, increasingly and uncharacteristically brutal toward his crew, and on a fateful course with destiny.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe antipodeans : a novel / Greg McGee.
“Beginning with the return to Venice of an old and sick man determined to confront his past, and accompanied by his daughter who is escaping hers, The Antipodeans spans three generations of a New Zealand family and their interaction with three families of Northern Italy. From Venice to the South Island of New Zealand, from the assassination of a Gestapo commander in the last days of Italian resistance in WWII to contemporary real estate shenanigans in Auckland, from political assassination in the darkest days of the Red Brigade to the vaulting cosmology of particle physics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe battle of Messines Road / J.K. & W.J. Moloney.
The Battle of Messines Road is a commentary on the changing perception of war over time amongst New Zealanders, and is an invitation to remember what is slipping away from public consciousness, to explain to today’s generation (in this case exemplified by young Zac) the reason why medal-bedecked old men huddle around war memorials to the sound of the Last Post each year.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRoad from Rosehall / Mike Munro.
“When rural labourer George Munro, the author’s great-great grandfather, departs the family croft in the Scottish Highlands in 1851 and begins an emigrant’s journey, he joins an outflow of Scots who are seeking better lives in Britain’s colonies. With countless weeks of confinement in a sailing ship, vast and perilous oceans, the risk of falling victim to disease or skulduggery, and the uncertainty of what he will find in the far-off land where he plans to settle.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe party line / Sue Orr.
“Set in a vividly drawn farming community in 1970s New Zealand. The Baxters do not know their place. On the first of June every year, sharemilkers load their trucks with their families, pets and possessions and crawl along the highways towards new farms, new lives. They’re inching towards that ultimate dream, buying their own land. Fenward’s always been lucky with its sharemilkers: grateful, grafting folk who understand what’s expected of them, until now, when grief-stricken Ian Baxter and his precocious daughter, Gabrielle, arrive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrifecta / Ian Wedde.
“Martin Klepka was one of the refugees of Nazism who famously brought Modernist architecture and ‘real coffee’ to New Zealand. Many years after his early death from a heart attack, his children are struggling in their different ways with the difficult legacy of their charismatic, overbearing father. Sandy, who was disliked by his father, is a cultural historian in the twilight of his career, disgraced, divorced and reduced to a .2 position at Auckland University. Veronica, who bored her father, is struggling with a failing art deco Napier tour company and an alcoholic husband. And Mick, Martin Klepka’s favourite, a gambling, methamphetamine and sex addict, is still living alone in the Red House, his father’s plagiarized masterpiece.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ fiction: this month featuring New Zealand writers

Another amazing selection of new fiction from New Zealand writers in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. Highly recommended is the long awaited new novel from Patricia Grace, titled Chappy.

Syndetics book coverHide your heart / Tracey Alvarez.
“Alexandra Lauren Knight has reinvented herself in the safety of her rural New Zealand hometown to become Lauren Taylor. She’s cut all ties with her past as a former model whose ex-husband turned out to be ruthless in both the boardroom and the bedroom. While Alexandra allowed other’s expectations to propel her into the spotlight, Lauren prefers the safety of anonymity; restoring classic cars with her brother, and snuggling with her four-year-old son. Nate Fraser, a burned-out photojournalist, plans to fix up the property next door to Lauren and sell it as a celebrity retreat. Always on the move, Nate is only comfortable with short-term assignments and even shorter-term relationships. But it’s not just his buyer’s tight deadline or that the restoration is far beyond his expertise which turns a short-term project into an ordeal. Nate’s plan of travelling the globe is in jeopardy-created by the intensity of his growing feelings for Lauren and her little boy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe invisible mile / David Coventry.
“The 1928 Ravat-Wonder team from New Zealand and Australia were the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France. From June through July they faced one of toughest in the race’s history: 5,476 kilometers of unsealed roads on heavy, fixed-wheel bikes. They rode in darkness through mountains with no light and brakes like glass. They weren’t expected to finish, but stadiums filled with Frenchmen eager to call their names. The Invisible Mile is a powerful re-imagining of the tour from inside the peloton, where the test of endurance, for one young New Zealander, becomes a psychological journey into the chaos of the War a decade earlier.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEvery five minutes / Bronwyn Elsmore.
“Gina, if that is her real name, wakes to an autumn morning and, against her better judgement, selects a light dress to wear to work. Deliberately, she misses the bus and walks into the city, then turns and walks back home. This is not a day for work. Tomorrow, in her navy pantsuit, she will be there. Today she will spend with a white dog and a remarkable man. Every Five Minutes is also about the colour cornflower blue, beaches, parks, city streets, exotic places, coffee, flowers, polished stones, a unicorn and a swan, words, theatre, movies, music, and love. But most of all it’s about Gina, the dog, and the man.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChappy / Patricia Grace
“Uprooted from his privileged European life and sent to New Zealand to sort himself out, twenty-one-year-old Daniel pieces together the history of his Maori family. As his relatives revisit their past, Daniel learns of a remarkable love story between his Maori grandmother Oriwia and his Japanese grandfather Chappy. The more Daniel hears about his deceased grandfather, the more intriguing, and elusive,Chappy becomes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStarlight Peninsula / Charlotte Grimshaw.
“Eloise Hay lives on the Starlight Peninsula. Every weekday she travels into the city to work at Q TV Studio, assisting with the production of a current affairs show. One night she receives a phone call that will change her life forever. Thrown into the turmoil of a sudden marriage break-up, Eloise begins to perceive that a layer of the world has been hidden from her. Seeking answers, she revisits a traumatic episode from her past, and in doing so encounters an odd-eyed policewoman, a charismatic obstetrician, a German psychotherapist, and a flamboyant internet pirate wanted by the United States government. Each of these characters will reveal something about the life of Eloise Hay, answering questions that she hasn’t, until now, had the courage to ask.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo relation / Thomas Pors Koed.
“The difference between actuality and fiction is principally one of exclusion. The short pieces that comprise this collection of short stories test the potencies of this exclusion: how are characters, and how are the readers affected by what is not related, by what is withheld, by what has been potentised by exclusion or by the impossibility of inclusion? (Adapted from Book cover)

Too many cooks / by Renee.
“Someone burned Hester’s house down. She’s going to find them and when she does, she’s going to burn their house down. An eye for an eye. That’s what life’s about, decides Hester. Ex-Senior Sergeant, ex-friend, Auden Porohiwi is very interested in Hester’s plans, does he know who the arsonist was? Is he protecting someone? Does he know what Hester’s planning? Who cares, thinks Hester, it’s now or never. So it’s now. (Adapted from Books cover)

Syndetics book coverSomething is rotten / Adam Sarafis.
“When budding writer Brent Taylor dies a horrific death in the Auckland University Library, his friend, sex worker Jade Amaro, refuses to believe it is suicide. She seeks help from Sam Hallberg, a former government advisor on terrorism, now working as a mechanic. As Sam reluctantly agrees to look into the death, a hunt for a lost manuscript leads him ever deeper into a complex case of corruption and deceit. Meanwhile, Sam’s friend, brilliant business journalist Lynette Church, embarks on an investigation of dirty political dealings with major global implications, and with ties to the Iraq War.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere comes the sun, perhaps? : a collection of short stories / Brian Wilson and Mark Wilson.
“This collection of short stories by Brian Wilson also includes 3 short stories by Mark Wilson and 4 poems by Brian Wilson. Some of the thirty stories collected here humorous, while others are thought provoking, but all very entertaining, and are set in New Zealand, China, Japan, England, Zambia, India, and Fiji.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Kaitiakitanga Pasifika / Cathie Koa Dunsford.
“Kaitiakitanga Pasifika draws on the brilliance of the historical celestial navigation of the Pacific, evoking past voyages through contemporary navigational wayfinding using renewable energy. It draws together a visionary movement of indigenous Pacific people who combine the ancient wisdom of kaitiakitanga and modern ecological knowledge.” (Adapted from Book cover)

New ‘Other Genres’ for June: This month New Zealand Fiction

New Zealand fiction is featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres” category. This selection includes historical, contemporary, humorous and satirical fiction. Highly recommended is the new novel from Adrienne Jansen, titled A Line of Sight.

Syndetics book coverMurder & matchmaking / Debbie Cowens.
“It is a truth universally known that a mother in possession of a surfeit of daughters must be in want of eligible bachelors. Less well documented are the extremes to which she might go if her daughters’ prospects are endangered by other neighbourhood beauties. Murder and Matchmaking is a dark comedy that answers the question: if Mrs Bennett is so worried about what will happen to her if her daughters don’t marry, why doesn’t she really do something about it?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA line of sight / Adrienne Jansen.
“One afternoon Graham and Nick go out rabbit shooting. They spot some local cannabis growers on their land, and fire a warning shot to scare them off. One of the shots hit and a man is killed. A Line of Sight is a book about the lengths a person is willing to go to prove they’re not guilty of a crime they well have committed. It’s about male friendships, the emotional effects of war and a young blind boy name Swan, whose unexpected insight changes everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe writers’ festival / Stephanie Johnson.
“Writers’ festivals can be hotbeds of literary and romantic intrigue, and the Oceania is up there with the best of them. Rookie director Rae McKay, recently returned from New York, fears she has bitten off more than she can chew. Pressure comes not only from local and international writers but also from the prestigious Opus Book Award, which this year is being hosted by the festival. Add to that high-level diplomatic fallout surrounding a dissident Chinese writer, and Rae’s slowly disintegrating private life and ongoing dramas. This novel explores the contemporary phenomenon of the public face of the writer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hiding places / Catherine Robertson.
“When April Turner’s small son is killed by a car, she decides she is no longer entitled to anything but the barest existence. Five years on, she has shed everything and everyone she loves, and expects to be this way for ever. Then a letter arrives from an English solicitor, informing April that she is the last surviving heir to Empyrean, a long-abandoned country house. At first, April resists. But with the letter comes a map full of tiny mysteries, and she is drawn all the way from New Zealand to the English countryside, and into a small but intriguing circle of people: musician Oran, who remains loyal to his faithless wife; Jack, who lives wild in the woods with a dog; and Sunny, Lady Day, approaching ninety but more vital than others half her age. Sunny knew Empyrean in its prime, and her stories bring the past to life. But will April be prepared to give up her principles and start coming alive again herself?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCurrents of change / Darian Smith.
“When Sara O’Neill goes on the run, she believes the tiny town of Kowhiowhio is just the sanctuary she needs. Her family’s old colonial house needs repair, but it’s safe from the abusive husband she left behind. However, a hostile local holds a grudge and a dangerous presence haunting her new home threatens Sara’s chance at peace. How can she create a new life while dealing with ghosts from the old?” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverMaybury Place / Keitha Smith.
“Maybury Place. Tranquil, safe, and neighbourly. Until new residents move in to Number Seven and shatter the peace. Within hours of their arrival four-year old Matthew Fleming has vanished. When the residents rally to search for the young boy they find their new neighbors hostile and uncaring about Matthew’s fate. Events escalate when strange characters start visiting Number Seven, the police are seen calling and one of their homes is robbed. Suspicions grow, causing the original neighbors to unite, determined to defend Maybury Place from unsavory elements. But is everything quite as it seems? Are the new inhabitants as bad as everyone fears? And has the prior tranquility of Maybury Place merely masked hidden secrets?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeath and forgiveness / Jindra Tichá.
“Anna has flown from New Zealand to her native Prague to nurse her dying mother. The night after the funeral she receives a phone call with the news that her husband Jan has committed suicide in faraway Dunedin.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeason of salt & honey / Hannah Tunnicliffe.
“Francesca ‘Frankie’ Caputo has it all figured out. She’s finally going to marry the man she loves and then they will live happily ever after. But when a freak accident cuts her fiancé Alex’s life tragically short, all of Frankie’s future plans suddenly disintegrate. Drowning in grief, Frankie flees from her overbearing Italian-American family, and escapes to an abandoned cabin owned by Alex’s parents in a remote part of Washington forest. As her heart slowly begins to heal, Frankie discovers a freedom that’s both exhilarating and unsettling to everything she has always known for sure. So when her old life comes crashing back in, Frankie must decide: will she slip quietly back into her safe, former existence? Or will a stronger, wiser Frankie Caputo stand up and claim her new life?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverIn the neighbourhood of fame / Bridget van der Zijpp.
“Rock musician Jed Jordan’s former fame means the events in his life have become public property. Years after ‘Captain of the Rules’ made him world famous in New Zealand, Jed is living quietly in an Auckland suburb with his family, growing peppers and recording in his home studio, when some disturbing new attention threatens to tear his world apart. Also profoundly affected are three women whose lives are closely caught up in Jed’s: his wife; a childhood friend who has returned from Australia for her father’s funeral; and the fifteen-year-old Jed chats to in the local dog park.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe predictions / Bianca Zander.
“Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture, a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals, at least in theory. But Gaialands’s strict principles are shaken when new arrival Shakti claims the commune’s energy needs to be healed and harnesses her divination powers in a ceremony called the Predictions. Poppy is predicted to find her true love overseas, so when her boyfriend, Lukas, leaves Gaialands to fulfill his dream of starting a punk rock band in London, she follows him. In London, Poppy falls into a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

NZ Collection Recent Picks

Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s some New Zealand poetry and some other topics too! A mixture of poetry, caravans, horses, New Zealand Women, exploration, jewellery and murder cover some of the variety of topics of the recent arrivals in the New Zealand Collection this month.

Syndetics book coverBeing here : selected poems / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“BEING HERE is the first book to survey the entire span of Vincent O’Sullivan’s poetry, from Bearings (1973) to new poems first published in this volume. On display is the full range of the wit, intellectual agility and arresting beauty of one of New Zealand literature’s finest poets. Hardback, Cover painting by Karl Maughan Vincent O’Sullivan is one of New Zealand’s leading writers, author of the biography of John Mulgan, Long Journey to the Border, the novels Let the River Stand and Believers to the Bright Coast, and many plays and collections of short stories and poems. He is joint editor of the five-volume Letters of Katherine Mansfield and has edited a number of major anthologies. He lives in Dunedin.” (Abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJerusalem sonnets, love, Wellington Zoo / David Beach.
“In his fourth collection David Beach tackles a subject inescapable for any New Zealander writing sonnets; a subject inescapable for any writer of sonnets at all; and a subject which is just inescapable.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhistling in the dark / John O’Connor.
“Whistling in the Dark comprises two approximately equal sections: (1) poems and (2) prose poems; both sections were written between 1994 and 2012. The poems cover a range of topics and themes and include ‘Mother and Child’, the winning poem of the Poetry Society’s International Poetry Competition, 2006. All poems have been previously published in magazines, journals and anthologies. The prose poems are, more accurately, a combination of prose poems and hybrid forms of the prose poem. As such they represent a departure from the standard prose poem as found in NZ and international journals and magazines. Again, there is a range of topics and themes and most of the pieces have been previously published in magazines, journals and anthologies. Whistling in the Dark is the 11th book of poems by John O’Connor.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDear Neil Roberts / Airini Beautrais.
“It is November 18, 1982. Neil Ian Roberts is 22 years old. He walks up to the Police Computer Centre in Whanganui, at 12.35am. Who was Neil Roberts? This is the search for the story of a quiet young man, an anarchist, a figure who moves differently, or vanishes altogether, in different versions of history. How are such people remembered; how are they forgotten? As much a work of documentary as poetry, this extraordinary book considers the uncomfortable event of Neil Roberts’s death, its significance in the context of 1980s New Zealand, and how this action has reverberated through others’ lives, including the poet’s own.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA great indoors for the great outdoors : the story of Liteweight caravans / Don Jessen.
“In 1946, a practical-minded New Zealander became interested in caravans as a way of holidaying and decided to build one for his family in his garage. From this humble beginning a story of Kiwi ingenuity emerged, with Liteweight Caravans growing to become an iconic New Zealand brand, which for over four decades led the country, and sometimes the world, in technical design and innovation. Liteweight produced more caravans than any other caravan manufacturer in New Zealand and, today, more than 25 years after the factory closed, the majority of its caravans are still in use. This is a story as much about people as it is of caravans, and the person at the heart of the story is Tek Jessen, Liteweight¿s founder.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBridled passion : a tribute to our Kiwi equestrians / Margot Butcher.
“New Zealand equestrians riding high have become a regular source of pride for Kiwis. Bridled Passion is a beautiful compendium dedicated to celebrating the 30-year success story of New Zealand’s best equestrian sportspeople and their fine-tuned steeds. From 1960 Olympics pioneer Andrew White through to the magic medal-winning moments of Sir Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Sally Clark, Blyth Tait, Tinks Pottinger, Vaughn Jefferis and their contemporaries, this book celebrates New Zealand’s high-performance equestrian story; the riders and horses through whose exploits we have discovered the thrill of a fast, clean cross-country and the agony of a clipped rail!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNiue 1774-1974 : 200 years of contact and change / Margaret Pointer.
“Tiny Niue lies alone in the south Pacific, a single island with formidable cliffs rising from the deep ocean. Far from the main shipping routes and with a daunting reputation, “Savage Island” did not naturally invite visitors. Yet Niue has a surprisingly rich history of contact, from the brief landings by James Cook in 1774 through to the 19th-century visits by whalers, traders, and missionaries, and into the 20th century when New Zealand extended its territory to include the Cook Islands and Niue. Using a wide range of archival material from Niue, New Zealand, Australia, and Britain, Margaret Pointer places Niue center stage in an entertaining and thoroughly readable account of this island nation through to 1974, when Niue became self-governing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKobi Bosshard : goldsmith / Damian Skinner.
“A survey of the work and ideas of a leading New Zealand jeweller who has been critical to the development of studio craft in Aotearoa. Born in Switzerland, Kobi Bosshard came to New Zealand in 1961. His expertise as a traditionally trained goldsmith is centre stage in this beautifully illustrated book, which is published as part of Objectspace’s Masters of Craft series. Written by art historian Damian Skinner, it provides a perceptive and informative discussion of Bosshard’s life and work, describing over five decades of contemporary jewellery that explores the possibilities of the craftsperson’s role in creating sophisticated and unique objects for people to wear and own.” (Inside front cover)

Syndetics book coverDumont d’Urville : explorer & polymath / Edward Duyker.
“Explorer Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d’Urville (1790-1842) is sometimes called France’s Captain Cook. Born less than a year after the beginning of the French Revolution, he lived through turbulent times. He was an erudite polymath: a maritime explorer fascinated by botany, entomology, ethnography and the diverse languages of the world.” (Dust jacket)

Syndetics book coverAll those yesterdays / Elspeth Biss. “This is a story many New Zealand women – particularly those who grew up in the country – will identify with. Elspeth Biss was brought up on Hawke’s Bay farms in the 1940′s; attended boarding school in the 1950′s; trained as a nurse, married and had her children in the 1960′s. As she writes: The 1960′s may well have been ‘The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius’, as the popular song had it, with the Beatles, Mary Quant and the mini-skirt, but for me and most of my friends it was a decade of child raising, washing nappies, Plunket and kindergartens.” (Abridged Back Cover)

Syndetics book coverMurder that wasn’t : the case of George Gwaze / Felicity Goodyear-Smith.
“This book tells the story of the case of Zimbabwean-born New Zealand resident George Gwaze, twice charged and twice acquitted of the rape and murder of his 10-year-old adopted niece, Charlene Makaza. When Charlene was found unconscious one morning, gasping for breath, with a high fever and lying in a pool of diarrhea, her family rushed her to the Christchurch 24-hour clinic. She was treated for overwhelming sepsis and transferred to the hospital, but sadly her life could not be saved. What unfolds next is a surreal set of events so improbable that they seem fictitious. Murder That Wasn’t meticulously explores the facts surrounding this case based on scientific, medical, and court records and individual interviews to tell this family’s extraordinary story.” (Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’, this month featuring New Zealand Fiction

New Zealand Fiction is featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ category. This selection highlights the skill and diversity of New Zealand writers. A wide range themes and genres are included, from debut novels to historical, romantic suspense to science fiction, alternative histories to short stories.

Syndetics book coverFool’s gold / Zana Bell.
“It’s 1866 and the gold rush is on. Left to fend for herself in the wilds of New Zealand’s west coast, Lady Guinevere Stanhope is determined to do whatever it takes to rescue her ancestral home and restore her father’s good name. Forced out of his native Ireland, Quinn O’Donnell dreams of striking gold. His fiercely held prejudices make him loath to help any English person, let alone a lady as haughty and obstinate as Guinevere. But when a flash flood hits, Quinn is compelled to rescue her, and their paths become entwined in this uncharted new world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shark party / Janet Colson.
“For Carla, February means the pressure of another birthday party for Nathan and his wealthy New York art world friends. She buys him a book about Kurt Schwitters, an artist he is thinking of collecting, but a chance encounter with a man in the bookstore changes everything. Patrick, an environmental filmmaker, challenges her relationship and her artistic ambition. In the wake of their fierce attraction, the unscrupulous world that has seduced Carla begins to unravel and the harder she tries to break free the tighter Nathan’s grip becomes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Paris inheritance / Merryn Corcoran.
“Sixteen year old Mary Hampton is tall, stunningly beautiful but damaged. Born and raised on an isolated farm in rural New Zealand, she is forced to harbour a horrific secret. Mary runs away from home. Armed only with determination and the contents of a letter, she travels to France to search for her Parisian birth father. She begins working as a seamstress in the humble back streets of Paris, where her design skills are quickly recognized. Stunningly, beautiful Mary soon makes new friendships and her fashion career is distracted when she is offered a position as a dancer at the glamorous Moulin Rouge. Her journey to success is hampered by betrayal, jealousy and sabotage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPublic sex in Paekakariki : a magical realism tale / Sandi Hall.
“When nurse Margaret Spindle discovers a lovely but travel-worn pregnant stranger asleep in St Peter’s, one with no handbag or luggage except a bulging black rubbish bag, she turns for help to her closest friends, life partners Fay Dalgety and Ruth Bone. On the same day, Fay meets another stranger in Paekakariki. This is designer-chic Freddie Tasco, as out of place in the village as a boot in an aquarium. Fay thinks Freddie is just passing through but Freddie has much sexier plans.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverNew Hokkaido / James McNaughton.
“It is 1987, forty-five years after Japan conquered New Zealand, and the brutal shackles of the occupation have loosened a little: English can be spoken by natives in the home, and twenty-year-old Business English teacher Chris Ipswitch has a job at the Wellington Language Academy. But even Chris and his famous older brother, the Night Train, a retired Pan-Asian sumo champion, cannot stay out of the conflict between the Imperial Japanese Army and the Free New Zealand movement. When Chris takes it upon himself to investigate a terrible crime, he is drawn into the heart of the struggle for freedom, guided along the way by the mysterious Hitomi Kurosawa and the ghost of Kiwi rock ‘n’ roll legend and martyr Johnny Lennon.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlood and koka kola : short stories / Chistodoulos E. G. Moisa.
“The 24 short stories in this collection of short stories by poet and artist, Christodoulos Moisa, is everything such a book should be. They make compelling reading and the subject matter ranges from macabre to historical, from the mythical to the quirky, some enigmatic, others rich with humour and irony; all written with perfect pitch.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Jovian legacy / Lilla Nicholas-Holt.
“Jovian, a planet deep within the universe with an Earth-like atmosphere, is a world of genetically enhanced specimens. Lives are longer, knowledge is advanced, and everything is tuned for a greater sensory experience. Thirty-five light years away on Earth, Jack is a young man who has lived an ordinary New Zealand way of life, surfing the Internet on his computer and spending time with his new girlfriend, Megan. Suddenly Jack finds himself drawn into a world of virtual reality, interplanetary travel and Jovian scientists who express great interest in him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe chimes / Anna Smaill.
“The Chimes is set in a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed. In the absence of both memory and writing is music. In a world where the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphemy, all appears lost. But Simon Wythern, a young man who arrives in London seeking the truth about what really happened to his parents, discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSome here among us / Peter Walker.
“It is 1967, and as America’s allies hesitate over whether to send more troops to Vietnam and students take to the streets of Wellington, New Zealand, to protest the war. Among them are Race, Candy, Chadwick and FitzGerald and their elusive, electrifying friend Morgan Tawhai. They are young and hopeful and the world is all before them. Forty years later, in Washington DC, Race’s son Toby is navigating his own path across a landscape still trembling with the reverberations of 9/11. Race and his companions move through the first decade of the new millennium, their friendships tested and pulled apart and reconfigured anew, they come to discover that Morgan who will forever remain the twenty-year-old they once knew, is both the mystery and the touchstone of their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A new year and new additions to the New Zealand Collection

The New Zealand Collection continues to grow with an amazing array and selection of books. This month features topics that vary from the submerged continent of Zealandia on which New Zealand is located, to the science of earthquakes a topic that can frighten and amaze. Economic topics also feature with a book on the NZ CPI (Consumers Price Index) or a book about the coal industry. Culturally we can read about taonga puoro, Māori musical instruments in Ara Puoro or find out about Chinese and New Zealand relationships in White Ghosts, Yellow Peril.

Syndetics book coverZealandia : our continent revealed / Hamish Campbell & Nick Mortimer.
“Imagine a typical continent with seemingly endless land in all directions. There are broad valleys and uplands, wide-open vistas across undulating plains, and upstanding mountain ranges far in the distance. There may be prominent features that command attention and draw the eye, such as odd-shaped hills, peaks, pinnacles, mesas and volcanoes. And there may be canyons, valleys, gorges, large depressions and basins. Now imagine this same continent under the sea, and largely drowned.Welcome to Zealandia. A big book full of big ideas, and brought to you by renowned GNS scientists Hamish Campbell (co-author of In Search of Ancient New Zealand) and Nick Mortimer, Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed is in every respect a landmark publication – thought-provoking, visually stunning and eminently readable.” (abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiving on shaky ground : the science and story behind New Zealand’s earthquakes / Matthew Wright.
“The extraordinary story of New Zealand’s earthquakes, the science and forces that shape them, and the danger of earthquakes yet to hit. This is the story of New Zealand’s turbulent tectonics, how earthquakes are measured and described, and how scientists are predicting future shakes across New Zealand. The must-have guide for anyone affected by earthquakes in New Zealand, those curious to know what’s next in-store, or anyone studying the evolving science behind them.” (abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand CPI at 100 : history and interpretation / edited by Sharleen Forbes and Antong Victorio.
“Very few New Zealanders have lives unaffected by the Consumers Price Index, or CPI. It is used by the New Zealand government to adjust student allowances, welfare benefits and superannuation; by the Reserve Bank to guide monetary policy; by the old Court of Arbitration, and by employers and employees, to negotiate wages; and by the media to inform the public about the effects of price changes on their standard of living. Whichever way you look at it, the CPI is a fascinating window into New Zealand’s social and economic history.” (adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreat tales from New Zealand history / Gordon McLauchlan.
“An intriguing collection of tales plucked from the byways of our country’s history by a master storyteller who recognises a good yarn when he sees it. Gordon McLauchlan tempts our imagination with 46 little-known tales from New Zealand’s past. This great collection of tales explores issues which have fascinated New Zealanders and filled many a page in many a history book over the years. Gordon McLauchlan, a master storyteller who recognises a good yarn when he sees it, brings a fresh perspective on some old and often vexed periods in New Zealand’s history.” (adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo. 8 re-wired : 202 New Zealand inventions that changed the world / Jon Bridges & David Downs.
“If necessity is the mother of invention then Kiwi ingenuity is its father.No. 8 Re-wired is a comprehensive, colourful treasury of New Zealand inventions – jam-packed with the stories behind 202 home-grown creations and the crafty people who dreamt them up. From well-known innovations (human flight, the discovery of DNA, the pavlova) to lesser-known feats (instant coffee, the referee’s whistle, the electronic petrol pump) to the newest in high-tech world-firsts (robots and jetpacks!), it is the most complete and entertaining book ever on Kiwi ingenuity. And, yes, the pav is definitely ours. A surprising and absorbing account of Kiwi can-do, and a celebration of the No. 8 wire spirit on which New Zealand is built. (abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCoal : the rise and fall of king coal in New Zealand / Matthew Wright.
“This book tells the story of coal’s moral rise and fall and of the place it held in New Zealand hearts and minds for a century and a half. Coal was the heroic fuel of New Zealand’s 19th and early 20th centuries, the fuel on which the colony grew.” (abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhite ghosts, yellow peril : China and New Zealand, 1790-1950 / Stevan Eldred-Grigg with Zeng Dazheng.
“White Ghosts, Yellow Peril is the first book to explore all sides of the relationship between China and New Zealand, and the peoples of China and New Zealand during the whole of the seven or so generations after these two countries initially came into contact. The Qing Empire and its successor states from 1790 to 1950 were vast, complex, and torn by conflict. New Zealand, meanwhile, grew into a small, prosperous, orderly province of Europe. Until now, the story of the links and tensions between the two countries during those years hasn’t been so broadly and thoroughly presented. The book is a highly readable portrait of the lives, thoughts, and feelings of the Chinese who came to New Zealand, as well as the New Zealanders who went to China. (abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe ara puoro : a journey into the world of Māori music / Richard Nunns with Allan Thomas.
“One of the largely unseen consequences of the European colonisation of Aotearoa was that the playing of, and knowledge about the traditional musical instruments of the Maori almost completely disappeared. In the 1970s Richard Nunns, started asking questions of his Maori friends about these instruments, which sparked a 40-year journey of rediscovery. Te Ara Puoro tells the story of Richard’s remarkable journey; of how fragments of knowledge given by elders were pieced together through countless presentations and performances on marae the length and breadth of the country; of how the instruments were re-created and developed; and of how he subsequently mastered their playing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeadline : the gripping memoirs of a pioneering newsman / by Alan Sayers.
“A veteran reporter’s life of recording NZ history, war, tragedy, sporting greatness and delight, etc. From his time in naval intelligence during World War 11 to his career as a ground-breaking photo journalist. If all the world’s a stage then Alan Sayers has met most of the cast – from miscreants and murderers to hobos and heroes. His life as a photo journalist has led him to dive the depths for gold and scale the heights for survivors…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond the imperial frontier : the contest for colonial New Zealand / Vincent O’Malley.
“Beyond the Imperial Frontier is an exploration of the different ways Maori and Pakeha ‘fronted’ one another – the zones of contact and encounter – across the nineteenth century. Beginning with a pre-1840 era marked by significant cooperation, Vincent O’Malley details the emergence of a more competitive and conflicted post-Treaty world. As a collected work, these essays also chart the development of a leading New Zealand historian.” (Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genre’ for December, this month New Zealand fiction

This month we are featuring New Zealand writers in our ‘Other Genre’ fiction category. All these new publications promise many hours of great reading. Included is the highly recommended novel by London based New Zealand writer Janina Matthewson, titled, Of Things Gone Astray, just magical.

Syndetics book coverThe silver gaucho : a novel / Jackie Ballantyne. “The Silver Gaucho is dead and across Argentine an entire nation is in mourning. But for adventurer Lockie Steele, the death of the television idol is merely one part of a puzzling family mystery. Why does the wealthy manipulative Mabon family wish to engage her services, and why are they prepared to go to such lengths to protect their secrets? Why has the Silver Gaucho’s brother disappeared without a trace in New Zealand and what are the family conflicts that force him to remain hidden?”(Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe silk thief / Deborah Challinor. “1831: Assigned to a good family in Sydney Town and now learning the art of tattoo, convict girl Harrie Clarke is still haunted by the horror of the brutal murder she and her friends Friday Woolfe and Sarah Morgan committed the previous year. Powerful and vindictive criminal Bella Jackson continues to demand money in exchange for her silence regarding the crime. And it seems that Harrie and her fervent and long-time admirer James Downey might finally be united an act of pure nastiness severely threatens their chances and Harrie’s life.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFive minutes alone : a thriller / Paul Cleave. “Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are both getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is enjoying some much-needed domestic bliss. For Schroder, life has been a little more challenging. The bullet he took in the head six months ago hasn’t killed him, yet. Only he doesn’t care. In fact he, he doesn’t care about much of anything. The bullet has switched off his emotions. When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine whether it was murder or suicide. Then the following night, two more rapists go missing. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for whoever is killing these criminals.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverHow to be a public author / Francis Plug [a.k.a. by] Paul Ewen. “How To Be A Public Author is a novel all about the Man Booker, using the prize as a springboard to explore what it means to be an author and a human being in the 21st century. It documents a series of fictitious happenings at real author events, as visited by the wonderful anti-hero Francis Plug, a troubled and often drunk misfit who causes chaos and confusion wherever he goes.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverReach / Laurence Fearnley.
“Quinn is a successful artist creating new works for an upcoming exhibition. She lives on the coast with Marcus, a vet who left his wife for her and lost contact with his young daughter Audrey as a result. Entering their lives is Callum, a deep-sea diver with a love of the ocean. As the countdown to Quinn’s exhibition progresses, each faces challenges and must make choices that will test their loyalties and have a far-reaching impact on their future.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlackpeak Vines / Holly Ford. “Longing for a new life in the country, former television executive Lizzie Harrington settles on the vineyard south of Blackpeak Station, bringing with her some glamorous guests, none other than the dazzling actor Richard Bourne, with whom Lizzie has had a secret love affait for years. But in the hills beyonf Lizzie’s boundary fence lives a very different sort of man. Could one unforgettable encounter be about to change the course of Lizzie’s life in more ways than she had expected?” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverInfidelities / Kirsty Gunn.
“This new collection of stories offers a candid peek at infidelity in all its guises. These are tales of lust, deceit, resentment and regret, and of the secrets and lies that can chip away at human relationships. In a series of interwoven dramas, we find mothers yearning for adventure, for the exhilaration of the open road or the anonymity of the forest; fathers absent in body or mind; husbands who will look the other way; complacency turned to spite and apathy turned to betrayal.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeavenly Hirani’s school of laughing yoga / Sarah-Kate Lynch. “Annie Jordan never wanted to go to India: there were too many poor people and the wrong sort of smells. But when she ends up there anyway, to her great surprise it’s not the beggars who cling to her, it’s the lessons in life, courtesy of Heavenly Hirani and her beachside laughing yoga.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverOf things gone astray / Janina Matthewson.
“Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight. On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work. Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death in an earthquake, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realize that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his dad, is slipping away from him. This is a magical fable about modern life and values.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA jolt to the heart / Felicity Price.
“When one of the world’s most destructive earthquakes hits Christchurch in February 2011, Ellie Le Lievre’s world crumbled along with thousands of homes and most of the city’s CBD. When the dust-cloud cleared, one of the many dead was her husband, the popular blogger Max Maguire. But at the funeral wake, Max’s best mate Lew Hastings finds that the flame for Ellie he had managed to smother for over forty years is being rekindled. Trouble is, he still can’t help upsetting her almost every time he opens his mouth and, like a lot of people living with the daily aftershocks, he’s turned to the booze for comfort. Besides, there’s a deeper reason for Ellie’s dislike, a reason the two former lovers have both tried to forget.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ’Other Genre’ Fiction for September, this month featuring New Zealand writers

This month we have a sample of the diversity of our writers, with short story collections, historical novels, futuristic novels, and murder mysteries all included.

Syndetics book coverTumbledown Manor / Helen Brown.
“Life’s going down the gurgler for romance writer Lisa Trumperton. The deadline for her next novel is looming, her daughter won’t eat but has a new tattoo each week, and now her Wall Street trader husband has run off with a woman at work. Lisa makes a quick escape, home to Australia, where at least her girl-magnet son seems to be making hay. Determined to grow older disgracefully, she turns her back on a trim and tidy townhouse that is close to shops, aged-care providers and her bossy older sister, instead buying a grand old house in the country that once belonged to her great-grandfather. But like its new owner, Trumperton Manor has seen better days. Crumbling, filthy and possibly haunted, the old house defies Lisa’s attempts to restore it. Add flood, fire and family secrets, plus a stray cat with attitude and an overly familiar handyman, and the cracks begin to show.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAstonished dice / Geoff Cochrane.
A collection of Wellington writer Geoff Cochrane’s published short stories. All written in his edgy, terse, humorous style giving glimpses of lives lived slightly outside the norm.

Syndetics book coverFour of a kind / Shannon Clayton.
“Have you ever had one of those days where everything that could go wrong does? Deborah Hayes is dealt that exact hand when dosaster strikes at an event she’s managing, giving her publicity for all the wrong reasons, not to mention breaking up with her English boyfriend. And the trouble doesn’t just end there, but when Deborah starts to investigate she can’t help but feel like the universe is trying to warn.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe naturalist : a novel / Thom Conroy.
“A fascinating, moving novel based on the real life of Dr Ernst Dieffenbach: scientist, explorer, revolutionary, outcast. Featuring Darwin, Charles Heaphy and the notorious Te Rauparaha, this novel connects New Zealand’s past with world history and brings alive the story of this remarkable man.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe sovereign hand / Paul Gilbert.
“Thorn, the gilded capital: bedecked in steam and the dust of convoys bearing riches from across the earth. From here, wise and ruling hands have ensnared all Aurawn in a great story, a Primacy of Peace. A land where every person – humans, gobelin, or drake – can dream, toil hard and succeed. Of course, not everyone sees things that way. But when Alexa Temperen stands above Crucible Square and denounces the First and all his government for their injustices, the last thing she imagines is that she’ll soon be working for them, as a champion: one of the Sovereign Hand.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverShamejoy / Julie Hill.
“ShameJoy (English for schadenfreude) is a collection of smart, darkly comic short stories about pop psychology, pop music, politics and Germans”. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Witzke woman / Allan Marriott.
“I walk home through a night when the moon is dark. I do not remember crossing streets and do not remember falling but my knees soon bleed to my ankles. I do not know what happened to my hat but I never see it again. I do not know what I do with the spade and guess it probably lies alone in a ditch. In the morning, all I have is the gun and quiet bullets. This is no way to carry out a final solution.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverMistory : a novel / Philip Temple.
“Following Annie’s strange death, her partner is forced to think about what he has allowed to happen to his life, his community and his country. His diary, kept during the year of The Change, reveals how the example Annie left him, and the mission of his young sister Sophie, drive him to escape the life of a bureaucratic cipher and work with the Movement in its fight to bring back a free and fair way of life. A tale of life at mid-century that reveals what the future may hold if we ignore the threats that face us and carry on with ‘business as usual’.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFallout : a Tito Ihaka novel / Paul Thomas.
“For 25 years McGrail has been haunted by the unsolved killing of 17 year old who was murdered at a 1987 election night party, but finally a witness comes forward with a scrap of information which sheds light on one of the many mysteries surrounding the case and prompts McGrail to instruct Ihaka to look into it. Ihaka, meanwhile, is embroiled in a very personal mystery. A freelance journalist has stumbled across information that Ihaka’s father Jimmy, a trade union firebrand and renegade Marxist, didn’t die of natural causes. Meanwhile Van Roon is unexpectedly hired by a PR man, acting on behalf of a shadowy tycoon, to investigate a reported sighting of a political powerbroker who vanished without trace in 1987. The three strands weave themselves into an exciting climax in an atmosphere of political maneuvering and intrigue surrounding New Zealand’s confrontation with the USA over its anti-nuclear stance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverʻAvaiki Tautau : homeland beneath the stars / Keith Tonkin ; illustrated by Spike Wademan.
“Avaiki Tautau is a story set 8-900 years ago when Polynesian navigators made their last and most spectacular journeys to settle the last habitable landmass on Earth, ʻAvaiki Tautau, later to be known as Aotearoa (New Zealand). The story follows Teipe, a boy otherwise destined to be a warrior had not he, his family and friends been chosen by his chief, Tamatea to accompany himself and others leave their native Rarotonga and begin again in the new ʻavaiki, a future homeland that dangled beneath stars far to the southwest.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Meet the Berry Boys in the New Zealand Collection Recent Picks

A chance discovery of some long forgotten photographic plates and a public appeal via a television news program led to us being able to meet the Berry Boys. They were first noted in a documentary screened in August on TV1 which is still available at TV1 On Demand at the moment. They are now in our featured new arrivals to the New Zealand Collection. The Berry Boys are some of the 130 ordinary World War One servicemen in uniforms whose photographs were amongst those photographic plates. The book and documentary are about these soldiers and their families. Also featured are some more of the many new books on WWI that have been published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the war’s outbreak.

Syndetics book coverBerry boys : portraits of First World War soldiers and families / Michael Fitzgerald and Claire Regnault.
Berry and Co, established in 1897 by William Berry, was a Wellington photographic studio producing commissioned portraits for the first decades of the twentieth century. In the 1990s, a tenant of 147 Cuba Street, Wellington, discovered around 3,000 glass plate negatives in a cupboard. This transpired to be the remarkable Berry and Co Collection. Amongst the studio portraits in the collection are around 130 showing ordinary World War One servicemen in uniforms, sometimes posing with families and friends. Many of these would have been taken before the men left to fight, or while on leave from the European theatres of war. Together, they offer a potent snapshot of the New Zealand of the time and the changing face of the war itself. But who were they? What happened to them in the war? Do they have any descendants still alive? If so, Te Papa wanted to make contact to learn more about their lives. On 29 September 2013, TVNZ’s Sunday programme spread the word, and a remarkable public response helped reunite many soldiers with their identities. A new TVNZ documentary, Berry Boys: The Speakers for the Dead, about the Berry soldiers’ stories will screen later in 2014

Syndetics book coverNo better death : the great war diaries and letters of William G. Malone / edited by John Crawford with Peter Cooke.
This is an updated and corrected edition of a work published by Reed Publishing in 2005. “In association with the New Zealand Defence Force to commemorate the centenary of the First World War”.

Syndetics book coverHolding on to home : New Zealand stories and objects of the First World War / Kate Hunter and Kirstie Ross.
“An illustrated social history about New Zealand’s experience in the First World War”–Publisher information. The Great War seeped and stormed into every aspect of New Zealanders’ lives, from the frontline to the family home. The things that survived – a crumpled theatre ticket, an engraved cigarette case, a knitting pattern, a crucifix made from rifle cartridges – are emotional touchstones that bring this distant event back into our hands. Historians Kate Hunter and Kirstie Ross have scoured museums and archives across the country to uncover these personal possessions and the stories they tell.

Syndetics book coverNo front line : inside stories of New Zealand’s Vietnam war / Claire Hall.
Explores New Zealand involvement in the Vietnam War from the viewpoint of New Zealand participants. Includes accounts from military personnel such as gunners, infantrymen, pilots and troopers, as well as non-combatant personnel such as engineers, medics, aid workers, nurses, journalists and entertainers. The personal accounts are taken from a collection of 150 oral history interviews conducted under the auspices of the History Group of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Syndetics book coverFrank Worsley : Shackleton’s fearless captain / John Thomson : [edited by Judith Watson].
“This book is a biography of Frank Worsley, without doubt one of New Zealand’s greatest, but largely unsung adventuring heroes. Born in Akaroa… the greatest adventure of his life began when he became the captain of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, which was trapped in pack ice on the 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition and slowly crushed. The crew of 28 spent over a year camped on the Antarctic ice before Shackleton, Worsley and four others sailed a tiny lifeboat across the wild Southern Ocean to South Georgia to summon help for the rest of the men, who were all eventually rescued. This 17-day journey remains one of the greatest ever feats of seamanship and relied totally on Worsley’s brilliant navigation. For the rest of his life he continued to seek adventures in a manner contemporaries described as ‘fearless’.” (Adapted from publisher’s description.)

Syndetics book coverLegends in black : New Zealand rugby greats on why we win / Tom Johnson with Andy Martin, Geoff Watson and Margot Butcher.
“Up close and personal with All Black greats – Meads, Lochore, Haden, Shelford, McCaw and others – as they reveal the secrets to our winning ways”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverParadise saved : the remarkable story of New Zealand’s wildlife sanctuaries and how they are stemming the tide of extinction / David Buter, Tony Lindsay & Janet Hunt.
“Tells the gripping story of how we are turning back the tide of extinction. It is a celebration of pioneering science and a national survey of the sanctuaries, little and big, that are protecting native species and reintroducing them to areas where they had once been extinct. It covers over 130 sanctuaries, with up to date information on where to find them, how to visit and how to do your part”–Back cover.

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