New vinyl for the new year

Check out some of these newly catalogued vinyl LPs in our AV collection. They include the 50th anniversary deluxe reissue of Rolling Stones’ Their satanic majesties request and the intriguing collaboration album by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Our vinyl collection keeps growing. Come and check them out, as well as our new vinyl display at Central library.

Rolling Stones, Their satanic majesties request
“To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stones’ 1967 psychedelic classic, comes this limited edition, remastered double-vinyl, double-CD deluxe package. The set contains both stereo and mono versions of the album, remastered at Abbey Road by Bob Ludwig, and presented on two 180-gram vinyl LPs and two Super Audio CDs (compatible with all players). The sleeve features a fully restored 3-D lenticular of Michael Cooper’s iconic cover shot, with all discs coming housed in a bespoke fold-out limited edition numbered package with a 20-page book featuring a host of further photos from Michael Cooper and new liner notes by Rob Bowman.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, Lotta sea lice
“Standard Black Vinyl Edition. A conversation between friends, documented in raw, unvarnished song form, brimming with personal history, crackling with energy and shot through with humour – this is the collaborative album of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Two of the most acclaimed and gifted song writers of our generation “Lotta Sea Lice” also sees them roping in friends such as Dirty Three, Stella from Warpaint and Mick Harvey to create a body of work that sounds organic & candid.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Pearl Jam, Let’s play two : Pearl Jam live at Wrigley Field
“In celebration of Pearl Jam’s legendary sold out performances at Wrigley Field on August 20th & 22nd, 2016 during the Chicago Cubs historic World Series championship season, Pearl Jam is set to release the documentary film Let’s Play Two and this accompanying soundtrack album. With Chicago being a hometown to Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam has forged a relationship with the city, the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field that is unparalleled in the world of sports and music.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Tom Petty, Hard promises
“This is where Petty’s Dylan influence begins to rear its head. He made his name as an all-American, Byrds-inspired rock & roller, but on HARD PROMISES Petty began to explore a more reflective style, leaning on the softer side of his folk-rock roots. HARD PROMISES is Petty’s first step towards the eclecticism that would mark his later work, and it’s easily his most underrated album.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Four Tet, New energy
“New Energy, his 2017 full-length, seems somewhat ironically named at first, as it finds him revisiting the downtempo sound of earlier productions such as his 2003 breakthrough, Rounds. New Energy is one of the most accessible, listener-friendly releases in the Four Tet catalog, but it still maintains the creativity and unpredictability that have always made his work stand out.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

A selection of new graphic novel arrivals

There is some fascinating reading for the holidays in this month’s selection of new graphic novels, with a re-telling of a Jim Thompson classic noir novel, the story of John Lennon in New York, the development of hip hop, and the true story of the kidnapping by terrorist of Christopher Andre, almost twenty years later. The most brilliant cover would go to animator Pieter Coudyzer’s graphic novel Outburst.

Syndetics book coverOutburst / written and illustrated by Pieter Coudyzer ; translated from the Dutch by Peter Mennen.
Outburst is about a man who has a forest inside him. When we meet him, all his limbs end in squeezed branches (or roots) where hands and feet should be. He tells his story, that of a fat, nerdy boy always chosen last for teams and relentlessly bullied, whose only defense is to withdraw within himself. Growth to manhood puts an end to physical abuse but not to ostracism, and he has to take a job that suits him night watchman. Eventually, he experiences an outburst; he now awaits the police or a final decision.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHostage / Guy Delisle ; translated by Helge Dascher.
“How does one survive when all hope is lost? In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe Andre was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, Andre was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, this award-winning cartoonist recounts Andre’s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man’s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJim Thompson’s The killer inside me / writer, Devin Faraci ; artist, Vic Malhotra.
“Celebrated crime novelist Jim Thompson’s sinewy, brutal, and beloved novel comes to life in this graphic noir novel. Thompson went where few have dared, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the evil mind of the American serial killer years before Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small unsuspecting Texas town. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he’s a little slow and a little boring. But most people don’t know about the sickness,the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger, the psychosis that is about to surface again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy favorite thing is monsters. Book one / Emil Ferris.
“Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbour, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLennon : the New York years / adaptation by Corbeyran ; illustration by Horne ; story by Foenkinos ; translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger.
“In 1975 John Lennon moved to New York City, stopped being a Beatle, and started being a father. Though his life was cut tragically short in front of his home by a fan, John Lennon’s forty years on earth changed millions of lives and shaped the course of pop culture. Many know the Beatle, the activist, the man gone balmy over Yoko, but more lies beneath the surface. From the imagined couch of a fictional therapist in NYC’s posh Dakota building, Lennon recounts the many joys, shortcomings, failures, and triumphs that marked this pop culture juggernaut’s rise to superstardom.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFaith / Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse.
“Faith Herbert has always wanted to be a superhero, just like the ones in her favorite comic books. When she unlocked her latent psiots powers and joined the Harbinger Renegades she finally had her shot. But now she’s going to see if she’s got what it takes to make it as a solo hero, secret identity and all. By day, she’s a mild-mannered pop-culture blogger, by night she’s L.A.’s leading superhero, the sky-soaring Zephyr. When other young psiots start going missing without a trace all over the City of Angels, it’s going to be up to her to find out why.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCryptocracy / written by Van Jensen ; art by Pete Woods.
“For time beyond memory, the Nine Families watched from the shadows, believing themselves shepherds and manipulating whole societies as they saw fit. Nothing happened that they didn’t observe or control. Outsiders knew naught of the Families, much less threatened them, until now.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverViolenzia : and other deadly amusements / by Richard Sala.
“Is she a brave and reckless heroine taking on a monstrous evil? Or is she a deranged angel of death? One thing is clear: whether she is dropping from a high window into a crowd of red-robed fanatical cultists, or facing down a horde of psychotic hillbillies, you don’t want to get in her way.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy brother’s husband. Volume 1 / Gengoroh Tagame ; translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii.
“Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhetto brother : warrior to peacemaker / Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering.
“From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighbourhood, wracked by drugs, poverty and violence, Benjy manages to extract an incredibly positive energy: his gang is multi-racial and peacemaking. Amongst its many accomplishments: weekly concerts on the asphalt of the streets or in abandoned buildings which see the emergence of hip-hop.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Enjoy these recently added classical CDs!

Classical music is perfect listening on long, hot summer evenings. Here’s a small selection of recent additions to our classical CD collection.

Best of The Hilliard Ensemble.
“When four British gentlemen went on tour together for the last time in 2014, that tour marked the end of a 40-year-long musical career. Four exquisite unaccompanied male voices, their strains uniting into pure concord and inimitably shaping the vocal music of past and present centuries for a delighted audience from Gregorian chant to Arvo Pärt” (CD cover).

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Martinu. Performed by the Prague Philharmonic Choir, Czech Philharmonic with soloists, and Simon Callow narrating.
This is the world premiere recording of the English version of Martinu’s oratorio. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Mesopotamian poem, believed to be the oldest surviving piece of literature. Reginald Campbell Thompson translated the work in 1928, and it is this translation Martinu used in his initial composition (his preference would have been Czech). However, the work was premiered in German in 1958 in Basel; hence this world-premiere recording.

Violin Concertos, Britten & Hindemith. Performed by Arabella Steinbacher.
“Breathtaking virtuosity flows seamlessly with expansive lyrical passages and fiendish passagework in this commanding performance by Arabella Steinbacher of the restless and technically demanding violin concertos of Britten and Hindemith in this new release… with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Vladimir Jurowski” (amazon.com).

We’ve made a list and we’re checking it twice: Staff pick CDs

Check out more staff pick CDs featuring from Beach House to Alice Coltrane to New Zealand composer Ross Harris. We will be back with our ‘Best of 2017’ early next year so keep checking!

John’s Picks – continued

Wire – Silver / Lead
Highly influential UK post punk band, Wire’s first gig was on April 1 1977 and to mark the 40th anniversary their 16th album, ‘Silver / Lead’, was released on March 31 2017. Less fast and angular than usual, on this record the band explore a slower and darker, introspective realm which opens up a more emotional edge to their characteristic cerebral remove. The slower pace also enables the band to create some gentle and haunting moments within what is arguably their most accessible album to date.

Radiohead – OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997-2017
Radiohead’s ground breaking third album gets a remastered 20th anniversary re-release which includes b-sides and tracks rejected from the original. The album’s prescience in portraying the digital angst and alienation that was just around the corner, coupled with its bravely experimental approach to songcraft has ensured the album classic status and twenty years on that status is definitely justified.

Laurel Halo – Dust
Anyone following US born, Berlin based electronic musician Laurel Halo’s career will be pleasantly bewildered by her third release as it is as different from 2013’s ‘Chance of Rain’, which featured dance based electronics, as that release was from 2012’s vocal leaning ‘Quarantine’. On ‘Dust’ her music remains as unclassifiable as ever and, as much jazz as electronica, has attained a new found warmth and softness with her treated vocals woven through absorbing and often playful sound textures and beats to create a collection of tracks as original and beguiling as anything you will hear this year.

Beach House – B-Sides & Rarities
Spanning the ten years of their career, this compilation flows as well as any of the indie star duo’s releases and offers some lovely peeks into their creative process via demo versions and unreleased tracks alongside remixed and live versions of their woozy lo-fi dream pop. While this album is a treat for established Beach House fans, surprisingly, it would serve well as an introduction for the curious to one of the most consistent indie acts of the 2010s.

Can – The Singles
One doesn’t immediately think of German art rock innovators, Can, as a singles band, but they actually did write the occasional offbeat pop song, and these are all compiled here from the bands most creative period – 1969-1978. Surprisingly, the 1971 single “Spoon,” actually reached the German Top Ten after it was featured as the theme song to a popular television show and the cosmic disco single “I Want More” hit the U.K. Top 30, and even resulted in an appearance on the BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’. The odd whimsical inclusions, such as an instrumental version of Silent Night, sit well alongside more serious tracks over what pretty much amounts to an alternate universe hit parade.

Beach Fossils – Somersault
NY based Beach Fossils’ third album is possibly their best yet as they take their sweet indie pop one step further with the addition of orchestral and easy listening sounds including strings, flute, sax, piano and harpsichord, a move that is sure to have Brooklyn hipsters drooling into their cupcakes. The melodies, as lovely as ever, are delivered via Dustin Payseur’s wry, weary vocals, accompanied by characteristic jangly guitars, lyrical bass and the aforementioned orchestral touches which help to create gorgeous shimmering soundscapes.

Mark’s Pick

Phil Seymour – Prince of Power Pop
Singer-songwriter, drummer-guitarist Phil Seymour was half of Tulsa rockers the Dwight Twilley Band who scored a big hit with the song ‘I’m on Fire’ in the mid 70s. Twilley and Phil Seymour met in Tulsa in 1967 at a theater where they had gone to see The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, and soon began writing songs and recording together under the name Oister. Eventually, they went to Los Angeles & signed with Shelter Records, a label co-owned by Denny Cordell and Leon Russell, in 1974.Cordell promptly changed the group’s name from Oister to the Dwight Twilley Band, which set the seeds for future problems arising from Seymour’s anonymity in the partnership. Their first single, “I’m on Fire”, reached #16 on the charts in 1975, but a follow-up single, failed due to distribution problems, as just after the single was released Shelter Records collapsed in the midst of a lawsuit between Russell and Cordell. The Dwight Twilley Band’s first completed album went unreleased for 10 months losing all the bands momentum to that point. A label shift and a second album also didn’t score commercially, leading Seymour to quit the band in 1978. In 1980 he signed to Boardwalk Records and he released his first solo album, titled Phil Seymour, which became a revered power-pop classic. A second album followed in 1982 but was weakened by his drug problems at the time, along with the death of Boardwalk Records founder Neil Bogart who died shortly after its release, collapsing the label. In the mid-80s he joined roots rock band the Textones, as a singer/drummer. While touring he noticed lumps appearing on his neck, and he was subsequently diagnosed with lymphoma. Seymour moved back to Tulsa to undergo treatment for the cancer and continued to record and play on the local scene until his death on 1993 at the age of 41. One of the most respected singers of the power-pop genre, and one who never quite had the career his talent deserved. This compilation collects up some of the best tracks from his first 2 albums with some outtakes and unreleased material, to present a solid picture of another great artist who left us too soon.

Shinji’s Picks

London Grammar Truth is a Beautiful Thing
Working Week, Young Disciples, Portishead – the trio bands consisting of a female singer and two male musicians have been notable in the UK music scene, and London Grammar is the newest and possibly the most important addition. Like the aforementioned bands, the female singer Hanna Reid, who is often compared with Florence Welch, is the centrepiece of their music, and her melancholic, mesmerising voice is truly remarkable. They keep their music simple and the atmospheric otherworldly soundscape they deftly create is the perfect pallet for Reid’s voice. For this sophomore album, they invited eminent producers, including Paul Epworth and Greg Kurstin -both have worked with Adele-, and sharpen up their intimate yet emotional world which impressed us immensely in their successful debut album If you Want. This is a beautiful thing.

Portico Quartet – Art in the Age of Automation
The previous album issued from Ninja Tune was performed by the trio under the name of Portico, but back to the quartet, Portico Quartet presents an excellent album. They also found their new home; Manchester’s label Gondwana Records. The up and coming talents, whose pursuit of new music based around jazz, such as Gogo Penguin and Matthew Halsall, have made a breakthrough from them, and for Portico Quartet it’s the ideal home for their fresh start. They use a unique instrument, hang – a custom made steel drum like percussion – and ingeniously blend its metallic yet lyrical sound into their music. A great variety of musical elements, namely jazz, ambient, post rock, downtempo and so on, can be heard in their music but their genre is none of them. This new effort shows their ability to weave beautifully textured, tonally inventive hybrid music, and it seems as though they make a new departure while summarising their musical journey to date. Brilliant.

Neil J’s Picks

Ibibio sound machine – Uyai
This is a truly global album fusing musical elements and cultures from all over the world from sleek 80s pop synth lines to African jazz and techno it’s all in there in. In this fantastic cultural mash up that never sounds lost or confused. Probably because wherever this eight piece band draws its diverse inspiration from they always infuse it with a heavy sprinkling of Nigerian highlife . An exuberant, joyful and rhythmic album.

Relative Abundance – Ylem
Ylem is a multilayer soundscape album comprising of numerous elements but at its core is one big concept, the band wanted to incorporate sound from the birth of time onwards and from the entire universe. To do this musical explorer Robert Baldock, erected a radio antenna and recorded the background radio transmissions from deep space, these by their very nature span across time and space , from the birth of the universe and the big bang and onwards and outwards and come from all areas of our universe. He then used these radio transmissions to trigger a series of hand built modular synthesisers. Using this as the core sound, fellow band members Emma Bowen and Neil Johnstone added a wide variety of content including auto harps, musical saws, found recorded sound, and a wide variety of synthesisers. The music is strangely in sympathy were with the strange ethereal haunting mood of the original “cosmic” sources . A really out there experimental piece and quite unlike anything else I’ve heard.

Alice Coltrane – The ecstatic music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
After many years an album featuring a small amount of Alice Coltrane’s mythical Ashram music has finally been released. Alice Coltrane was already a musical prodigy before she married the legendary Jazz musician John Coltrane and after his sudden death she retreated to Sai Anantam Ashram and devoted the rest of her life to seeking spiritual enlightenment. These compositions were made to nourish this community and act as a meditational aids and were never intended to be heard beyond that community. The music is at once South Asian, African American, tranquil and uplifting . Constantly seeking like Alice herself musical and spiritual transcendence.

The Innocent Railway – Sweet pea
A truly beautiful and sad album it feels as if the musicians are exploring what it means to be truly lost . It shifts from delicate melancholic songs to strange haunting soundscapes whilst carefully retaining overall cohesion. It’s difficult to describe but if Nick Drake or Tim Buckley had created a half sung ambient album with Brian Eno it might just have sounded like this.

David Long, Richard Nunns and Natalia Mann – Utterance
This is a truly remarkable album, it is what great music sounds like, this is a major work in any sphere of artistic endeavour and it’s what many musicians strive their entire lives to achieve and is one of the finest albums in any genre from anywhere I have heard in a very long time . It is the culmination of a lifetime for Richard Nunns who knew from the start of the albums production it would be his last work and it sounds as if he has placed some deep aspect of his very being into the piece. It is a modern beautiful abstract work that is very aware of the deep spiritual and cultural traditions from which it springs and embraces these roots whilst being totally unique and new and timeless. Its powerful, emotional, challenging, spiritual and simultaneously personal and universal.

Ross Harris – Requiem for the fallen
Ross Harris is New Zealand’s greatest living classical composer and is arguably the greatest composer this country has ever produced. He is going through a creative golden age as witness by his remarkable output recently his as yet unreleased sixth symphony is a remarkable and beautiful work and will be heralded on its release ( it was premiered earlier in the year in Auckland). In Requiem for the Fallen he brings a lifetime of experience to bear on a deep, serious subject matter and produces a deeply moving, melodic, powerful and compassionate work. Highly recommended.

Portable fiction: eBooks for the holidays

If you’re going on a family road-trip this summer, the last thing you want filling up the boot of your car is books: after all, there won’t be any space, not with the suitcases and body boards and fishing rods and the chilly bin, and that extra chilly bin for the ice, and the camp cooker just in case you want to eat under the stars, and the sleeping bags and tent and all those spare tent-pegs that don’t really work but you’d feel bad if you didn’t bring them, and – well, you get the idea. Basically, Overdrive is here to make sure you’ve got great new fiction to read during your holidays, no matter how pressed you are for space!

Overdrive cover The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration. It is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued. For this reason, they are as steely as they are fragile, and they never surrender.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sweetpea, by C.J. Skuse
“I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Book of Chocolate Saints, by Jeet Thayil
“Francis Newton Xavier has lived a wild existence of excess in pursuit of his uncompromising aesthetic vision. Approaching middle age in a body ravaged by hard-living, he leaves Manhattan, and his journey home to India becomes a delirious voyage into the past.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Silk and Song, by Dana Stabenow
“Sixteen-year-old Wu Johanna is the granddaughter of the legendary trader Marco Polo. In the wake of her father’s death, however, Johanna finds that lineage counts for little amid the disintegrating court of the Khan. Johanna’s destiny – if she has one – lies with her grandfather, in Venice, at the very edge of the known world.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer
“In a ruined city of the future, Rachel scavenges a strange creature from the fur of a despotic bear. She names him Borne. He reminds her of her homeland lost to rising seas, but her lover Wick is intent on rendering him down as raw material for the special drugs he sells. Nothing is quite what it seems, and if Wick is hiding secrets, so too is Rachel – and Borne most of all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover White Tears, by Hari Kunzru
“Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten, and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The End of Eddy, by Edouard Louis
“Before I had a chance to rebel against the world of my childhood, that world rebelled against me. In truth, confronting my parents, my social class, its poverty, racism and brutality came second. From early on I provoked shame and even disgust from my family and others around me. The only option I had was to get away somehow. This book is an effort to understand all that.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover My Name Is Nobody, by Matthew Richardson
“Solomon Vine was the best of his generation, a spy on a fast track to the top. But when a prisoner is shot in unexplained circumstances, and on his watch, only suspension and exile beckon. Three months later, in Istanbul, MI6’s Head of Station is violently abducted from his home. With the Service in lockdown, uncertain of who can be trusted, thoughts turn to the missing man’s oldest friend: Solomon Vine.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Lover, Marguerite Duras
“Saigon, 1930s: a poor young French girl meets the elegant son of a wealthy Chinese family. Soon they are lovers, locked into a private world of passion and intensity that defies all the conventions of their society. A sensational international bestseller, The Lover is disturbing, erotic, masterly and simply unforgettable.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover John Dies at the End, by David Wong
“My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrock, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New non-fiction books for interesting reading during the holiday season

Some interesting new books for the holidays, beginning with the whimsical I’d rather be reading.

Syndetics book coverI’d rather be reading : a library of art for book lovers / by Guinevere de la Mare ; with essays by Maura Kelly, Ann Patchett, and Gretchen Rubin.
“In this visual ode to all things bookish, readers will get lost in page after page of contemporary art, photography, and illustrations depicting the pleasures of books. Artwork from the likes of Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall is interwoven with text from essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMythos : a retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece / Stephen Fry.
“The Greek myths are amongst the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney. They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis. Spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTotal cat mojo : the ultimate guide to life with your cat / Jackson Galaxy with Mikel Delgado and Bobby Rock.
“This comprehensive cat care guide from the star of the hit Animal Planet show “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson Galaxy, shows us how to eliminate feline behavioral problems by understanding cats’ instinctive behavior. Cat Mojo is the confidence that cats exhibit when they are at ease in their environment and in touch with their natural instincts–to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, and sleep. Problems such as litter box avoidance and aggression arise when cats lack this confidence. Jackson Galaxy’s number one piece of advice to his clients is to help their cats harness their mojo. This book is his most comprehensive guide yet to cat behavior and basic cat care, rooted in understanding cats better. ” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverThe best of A. A. Gill / A. A. Gill.
“For over twenty years, people turned to A. A. Gill’s columns every Sunday – for his fearlessness, his perception, and the laughter-and-tear-provoking one-liners – but mostly because he was the best. …This is the definitive collection ofa voice that was silenced too early but that can still make us look at the world in new and surprising ways… Wherever he was – at home or abroad – he found the human story, brought it to vivid life, and rendered it with fierce honesty and bracing compassion. And he was just as truthful about himself. …it will be by turns hilarious, uplifting, controversial, unflinching, sad, funny and furious.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA glorious freedom : older women leading extraordinary lives / Lisa Congdon.
“The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves–with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women–including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more–who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustralian midwives / Paula Heelan.
“Sweet, funny and sometimes sad, these stories share what it is to be an Australian midwife in remote areas where resources are limited. A moving and celebratory collection of tales that brings you close to the drama and wonder of birth. Each of the thirteen midwives in this book work in extreme locations with few resources, but armed with only courage and skill, they regularly save lives and birth babies in difficult circumstances –on an airstrip, a cattle station, a dinghy (knee-deep in water with a wary eye out for the local croc), a troop-carrier or in the face of a cyclone. These stories are a tribute to both the skill of the midwives and the courage of the mothers. For these women, midwifery is not just a job – it’s a committed and passionate way of life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt’s alive! : artificial intelligence from the logic piano to killer robots / Toby Walsh.
“The development of thinking machines is an adventure as bold and ambitious as any that humans have attempted. And the truth is that Artificial Intelligence is already an indispensable part of our daily lives. Without it, Google wouldn’t find out whatever you need to know. Your smartphone would be… just a phone. In countless ways AI has made the world what it is today. But where will AI technologies take us in the future? We know they will continue to change society, but how? Will AI destroy our jobs? Could it even pose an existential threat? What should we be doing now to prepare for the future?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlibaba’s world : how a remarkable Chinese company is changing the face of global business / Porter Erisman.
“In September 2014, a Chinese company that most Americans had never heard of held the largest IPO in history – bigger than Google, Facebook and Twitter combined. Alibaba, now the world’s largest e-commerce company, mostly escaped Western notice for over ten years, while building a customer base more than twice the size of Amazon’s, and handling the bulk of e-commerce transactions in China. How did it happen? And what was it like to be along for such a revolutionary ride?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow language began : the story of humanity’s greatest invention / Daniel L. Everett.
“Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than seven thousand languages that exist today. Based on nearly forty years of fieldwork, Everett debunks long-held theories by some of history’s greatest thinkers, from Plato to Chomsky. The result is an invaluable study of what makes us human.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChristmas : a biography / Judith Flanders.
“Christmas has always been a magical time. Or has it? Thirty years after the first recorded Christmas, the Pope was already warning that too many people were spending the day, not in worship, but in partying and eating to excess. By 1616, the playwright Ben Jonson was nostalgically remembering Christmas in the old days, certain that it had been better then. Judith Flanders casts a sharp eye on myths, legends and history, deftly moving from the origins of the holiday in the Roman empire, through Christmas trees in central Europe, to what might be the first appearance of Santa Claus – in Switzerland – to draw a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPost-war childhood : growing up in the not-so-friendly “Baby Boomer” years / Simon Webb.
“Many British baby boomers are very nostalgic about a supposed golden age; a vanished world when children were generally freer, happier and healthier than they are now. They wandered about all day; only returning home at teatime when they were hungry. Simon Webb presents a ‘warts and all’ portrait of British childhood in the years following the end of the Second World War. He demonstrates that contrary to popular belief, it was by any measure a far more hazardous and less pleasant time to be a child, than is the case in the twenty-first century.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHighbrow, lowbrow, brilliant, despicable : 50 years of New York / by the editors of New York magazine ; writer & historian, Christopher Bonanos.
“The great story of New York City in the past half-century has been its near collapse and miraculous rebirth. A battered town left for dead, one that almost a million people abandoned and where those who remained had to live behind triple deadbolt locks, was reinvigorated by the twinned energies of starving artists and financial white knights. Since its founding in 1968, New York Magazine has told the story of that city’s constant morphing, week after week. Covering culture high and low, the drama and scandal of politics and finance, through jubilant moments and immense tragedies, the magazine has hit readers where they live, with a sensibility as fast and funny and urbane as New York itself.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New books on learning English

A vast array of books on how to learn English.

Syndetics book coverIELTS to success : preparation tips and practice tests / Eric Van Bemmel, Janina Tucker.
IELTS to Success, 3rd edition, is a valuable resource for people preparing for the Academic Module of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
The authors fully explain the Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking sections of the IELTS test, and provide many useful skills and strategies. (and) include practice tests that have been thoroughly edited and trialled in IELTS Preparation classes. These practice tests are suitable for the IELTS Academic Module and comply with the standards of the IELTS test, including revisions implemented up to 2010.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIELTS practice tests. Practice test 2 with key / Chris Gough, Susan Hutchison.
“Exam Essentials Practice Tests 1 and 2: IELTS is our major British English exam preparation series combining exam preparation, practice, and tips. This effective combination of testing and teaching has proved a popular formula with teachers and students. All of the tests are written by experts in the field, which means that students experience authentic exam-like material that is at a level at least as high as the actual exams. A DVD-ROM containing video of a complete model speaking interview with useful tips from examiners and accompanying worksheets allows students and teachers to see exactly what the speaking test entails.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIELTS practice tests plus. 2 / Morgan Terry, Judith Wilson.
“This title provides essential practice in all four modules of the IELTS examination: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImprove your IELTS reading skills / Sam McCarter, Norman Whitby.
“Aimed at students between bands 4.5 and 7.5, this series has three preparation courses, Academic Reading, Academic Writing, and Listening and Speaking. The courses develop language, skills and test techniques to help students achieve a higher IELTS score.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImprove your IELTS writing skills / Sam McCarter, Norman Whitby.
“Aimed at students between bands 4.5 and 7.5, this series has three preparation courses, Academic Reading, Academic Writing, and Listening and Speaking. The courses develop language, skills and test techniques to help students achieve a higher IELTS score.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIELTS : the complete guide to general reading / Phil Biggerton.
“IELTS – The Complete Guide to General Reading takes you step by step, from a basic understanding of the IELTS exam to a point where you have the necessary skills and confidence to take the exam. You will be introduced to twelve question types commonly used in the IELTS exam: Short answers, Sentence completion, Summary completion, Multiple choice, Table completion, Labelling flowcharts and processes, Matching Paragraph selection, True, False, Not Given and Yes, No, Not Given, Headings, Diagrams. Apart from many practice exercises, 5 complete practice tests are also provided.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEnglish vocabulary for beginning ESL learners / Jean Yates.
“With English Vocabulary for Beginning ESL Learners you will soon be talking in English as if it were your first language. Inside you will find more than 1,500 commonly used words you hear at work, at school, and on the street, with topics that range from clothing to cooking, and from doctors to digital devices. This new edition also covers numbers, and the many ways that they are talked about in daily life.>” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCheck your English vocabulary for IELTS / by Rawdon Wyatt.
“This bestselling workbook provides a resource for students studying towards the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. It has been written for students at intermediate level and above, and is particularly appropriate for anyone who plans to study or train at an English-speaking college or university. Comprehensive answer key with additional information – Includes IELTS-style Speaking and Writing tasks with sample answers to allow for productive practice of target language.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Continue reading “New books on learning English”

Plan your next movie night with our latest DVD picks

New DVDs include Robert De Niro’s return to form as financial swindler Bernie Madoff, medical comedy/drama ‘The Big Sick’, a crime heist with ‘Logan Lucky’, action with a great soundtrack with ‘Baby Driver’, and new TV with the missing season of ‘Un village français’ & sci-fi reboot ‘Westworld’.

The wizard of lies.
“It is the headline-making true story about the deceptions, lies and betrayals of Bernie Madoff, the man who masterminded the most heinous financial swindle of our generation.” (Syndetics summary)

The big sick.
“Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.” (Syndetics summary)

Un village français. Vol. 5.
“It’s August 1944. Much of France is liberated, but the Germans remain in Villeneuve. The abuses by the militia continue, and this swells the ranks of the resistance, and the struggle continues, even if life after the war is so close. The characters are impatient, and driven to their wit’s end as they wait out a war that can only end one way. Then, they switch to “Liberation” a world that no-one could imagine.” (Syndetics summary)

Logan lucky.
“Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. In a fun twist, six NASCAR stars pop up in non-driver cameo roles in the film.” (Syndetics summary)

One thousand ropes.
“One Thousand Ropes is a story of a father reconnecting with his youngest daughter and together putting to rest the ghosts that haunt them. She arrives vulnerable: badly beaten and heavily pregnant. He struggles with the inner temptation and the encouragement from the men in his life, to take revenge in the way he knows best on one hand and on the other, to build the new family and companionship so desperately missing from his life. (Syndetics summary)

Baby driver.
“A talented young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love, and freedom.” (Syndetics summary)

Westworld. Season one.
“A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin — exploring a world in which every human appetite, not matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged. Exploring what it means to be human through the eyes of the lifelike AI “hosts” in the park, the series investigates the boundaries of an exotic world set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past. Meticulously crafted and artfully designed. Westworld offers its guests an unparalleled, immersive world where they have the freedom to become who they’ve always wanted to be — or who they never knew they were. No rules, no laws, no judgment. Live without limits.” (Syndetics summary)

Personal shopper.
“Olivier Assayas, the internationally-acclaimed director of Clouds of Sils Maria and Summer Hours, returns with this ethereal and mysterious ghost story starring Kristen Stewart as a high-fashion personal shopper to the stars who is also a spiritual medium. Grieving the recent death of her twin brother, she haunts his Paris home, determined to make contact with him.” (Syndetics summary)

War for the planet of the apes.
“Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.” (Syndetics summary)

Land of mine.
“In the aftermath of World War II, a group of surrendered German soldiers are ordered by Allied forces to remove their own land mines from the coast of Denmark.” (Syndetics summary)

New popular nonfiction for perfect summer reading!

Some fascinating books this time, about sea level rise, AI, conservatism and more!
And to end, two very different life stories: that of a young black man Michael A., and that of James Jesus Angleton, CIA spymaster.

Syndetics book coverThe water will come : rising seas, sinking cities, and the remaking of the civilized world / Jeff Goodell.
“Across the globe, scientists and civilians alike are noticing rapidly rising sea levels, and higher and higher tides pushing more water directly into the places we live, from our most vibrant, historic cities to our last remaining traditional coastal villages. With each crack in the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctica, and each tick upwards of Earth’s thermometer, we are moving closer to the brink of broad disaster. The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDemocracy’s detectives : the economics of investigative journalism / James T. Hamilton.
“In democratic societies, investigative journalism holds government and private institutions accountable to the public. From firings and resignations to changes in budgets and laws, the impact of this reporting can be significant–but so too are the costs. As newspapers confront shrinking subscriptions and advertising revenue, who is footing the bill for journalists to carry out their essential work? …Hamilton chronicles a remarkable record of investigative journalism’s real-world impact, showing how a single dollar invested in a story can generate hundreds of dollars in social benefits.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMachines that think : everything you need to know about the coming age of artificial intelligence.
“You might not realise it, but you interact with AIs every day. They route your phone calls, approve your credit card transactions and help your doctor interpret results. Driverless cars will soon be on the roads with a decision-making computer in charge. But how do machines actually think and learn? In Machines That Think, AI experts and New Scientist explore how artificial intelligence helps us understand human intelligence, machines that compose music and write stories – and ask if AI is really a threat” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAge of discovery : navigating the risks and rewards of our second renaissance / Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna.
“The present is a contest between the bright and dark sides of discovery. To avoid being torn apart by its stresses, we need to recognize the fact-and gain courage and wisdom from the past. Age of Discovery shows how. Now is the best moment in history to be alive, but we have never felt more anxious or divided. Human health, aggregate wealth and education are flourishing. Scientific discovery is racing forward. But the same global flows of trade, capital, people and ideas that make gains possible for some people deliver big losses to others-and make us all more vulnerable to one another…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe reactionary mind : conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump / Corey Robin.
“In The Reactionary Mind, Robin traces conservatism back to its roots in the reaction against the French Revolution. He argues that the right was inspired, and is still united, by its hostility to emancipating the lower orders. Some conservatives endorse the free market; others oppose it. Some criticize the state; others celebrate it. Underlying these differences is the impulse to defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality — while simultaneously making populist appeals to the masses.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSlums : the history of a global injustice / Alan Mayne.
“More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and a billion of these urban dwellers reside in neighborhoods of entrenched disadvantage–neighborhoods that are characterized as slums. Slums are often seen as a debilitating and even subversive presence within society. In reality, though, it is public policies that are often at fault, not the people who live in these neighborhoods…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWake up : the nine h#shtags of digital disruption / David Fagan.
“Your essential guide to the biggest revolution of the past century. David Fagan was at the forefront of this revolution as he helped take one of Australia’s largest media organisations from print to digital. In Wake Up, he explores the challenges and opportunities of the digital age from his position on the front line. He chronicles the rise of social media, online shopping, the Uber and Airbnb phenomena and the upending of traditional industries. Fagan observes the big emerging trends and examines the technologies leading this change, as the arrival of robots and artificial intelligence affects the way we live, work and play. If you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to wake up.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhosts of the tsunami : death and life in Japan’s disaster zone / Richard Lloyd Parry.
“On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of northeast Japan. Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. He found himself drawn back again and again to a village that had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own. What really happened to the local children as they waited in the schoolyard in the moments before the tsunami? Why did their teachers not evacuate them to safety? And why was the unbearable truth being so stubbornly covered up?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCuz : or, the life and times of Michael A / Danielle Allen.
“Aged 15 and living in LA, Michael Allen was arrested for a botched carjacking. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years behind bars. After growing up in prison Michael was then released aged 26, only to be murdered three years later.
In this deeply personal yet clear-eyed memoir, Danielle Allen reconstructs her cousin’s life to try and understand how this tragedy was the end result. We become intimate with Michael’s experience, from his first steps to his first love, and with the events of his arrest, his coming of age in prison, and his attempts to make up for lost time after his release. We learn what it’s like to grow up in a city carved up by invisible gang borders; and we learn how a generation has been lost.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe ghost : the secret life of CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton / Jefferson Morley.
“CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton was one of the most powerful unelected officials in the United States government in the mid-20th century, a ghost of American power. From World War II to the Cold War, Angleton operated beyond the view of the public, Congress, and even the president. He unwittingly shared intelligence secrets with Soviet spy Kim Philby. He launched mass surveillance by opening the mail of hundreds of thousands of Americans. He abetted a scheme to aid Israel’s own nuclear efforts, disregarding U.S. security. He committed perjury and obstructed the JFK assassination investigation. He oversaw a massive spying operation on the antiwar and black nationalist movements and he initiated an obsessive search for communist moles that nearly destroyed the Agency.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

NZ writers feature in our latest ‘other genre’ fiction picks

This is the fourth ‘other genres’ selection featuring New Zealand writers this year. There has been an amazing number of novels from new and well known writers published this year. Included in this month’s selection are two veterans of New Zealand writing Patrick Evans and C. K. Stead, and two debut novelists, Michalia Arathimos and Jonothan Cullinane.

Syndetics book coverAukati / Michalia Arathimos.
“Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understand the different worlds they inhabit. But when a protest march becomes violent a boundary is crossed, and they need to decide where they stand and fast. It’s clear the police have been tipped off, and the activists gathered at the marae suspect they’re being watched or, worse, there is an informant in the group. Can Alexia and Isaiah be trusted and can they trust themselves?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the white Gate / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“In a park in an antipodean city in the 1930s a teenaged boy starts work as an apprentice nurseryman. It’s an idyllic world, patient and unhurried, with a pace as predictable as the seasons; this is a miniature version of the pre-war colonial empire lying just beyond the park gates. But as secure as the park may seem it can’t protect anyone, least of all Tommy, from the changing world outside. There’s a war coming, an unwanted baby and heartbreaking changes at home. Through all this the park is a constant, a companion, a teacher, a home and a friend. With it he grows, learning wisdom and patience, as the park brings him friendship, love, knowledge and family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe direction of our fear / David Briggs.
“On a morning commuter train in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, the lives of three people briefly intersect. Sally is a 17-year-old, tentatively stepping into womanhood. Brendan is a middle-aged widower, living in the shadow of his wife’s death. Tamas is a Hungarian immigrant, missing his wife and child as he struggles to begin a new life far from home. Meanwhile, in a nondescript building near Dunedin’s Otago University, Farida translates messages for the security services and catches glimpses of a plot that could threaten them all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed herring / Jonothan Cullinane.
“In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O’Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment – and which will threaten their own lives in the process.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSoldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSodden downstream / Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. Roads are closed and all rail is halted. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss. If she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract. This novel charts the help and hindrances that make for a long, damp evening. But the book also highlights the kinds of care and solidarity that come out in times of need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBaby / Annaleese Jochems
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there is an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe necessary angel / C. K. Stead.
“A beautifully written, carefully observed novel that takes you to the heart of contemporary Paris and into a world of books and witty conversation. It can be read on many levels, as a story of people grappling with love and fidelity; as a story about the importance of books in everyday life; as a commentary on living in complex modern-day Europe; and as a page-turning mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOperation Iran / Brian Wilson.
“The CIA have a double agent leaking secrets to the Chinese. In an attempt to identify the double agent, Adam Brown, a senior CIA operative disappears leading to speculation and confusion, which is added to when Frank, a world renowned physicist becomes involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)