New non-fiction for your ears

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to talk to an extraterrestrial, wonder no longer, because this month’s new eAudiobook non-fiction from Overdrive includes Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds, a critically acclaimed examination of the octopus – “the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.” And if you’d like something more mammalian, we’ve got a range of other great titles from authors including Bill Bryson, Caitlin Moran and Hillary Clinton.

Overdrive cover Gastrophysics, by Charles Spence
“Why do we consume 35% more food when eating with one more person, and 75% more when with three? Why are 27% of drinks bought on aeroplanes tomato juice? How are chefs and companies planning to transform our dining experiences, and what can we learn from their cutting-edge insights to make memorable meals at home? These are just some of the ingredients of Gastrophysics.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson
“Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Moranifesto, by Caitlin Moran
“This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
“Peter Godfrey-Smith explores the incredible evolutionary journey of the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous molluscs who would later abandon their shells to rise above the ocean floor, acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so – a journey completely independent from the route that mammals and birds would later take.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull
“Ed Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve centre of Pixar Animation Studios.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Vacationland, by John Hodgman
“Though wildly, Hodgmaniacally funny, John Hodgman’s Vacationland is also a poignant and sincere account of one human facing his forties, those years when men in particular must stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weird dads that they are.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Man from the Train, by Bill James
“Using unprecedented, dramatically compelling sleuthing techniques, legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New contemporary fiction featuring your favourite authors

Some of contemporary fictions most popular, much acclaimed writers are included in this month’s selection of new contemporary fiction. Included are the much awaited new novels from Dan Brown, Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan, Alan Hollinghurst and John Le Carre. There is much to enjoy.

Syndetics book coverOrigin : a novel / Dan Brown.
“In keeping with his trademark style, Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code and Inferno, interweaves codes, science, religion, history, art, and architecture into this new novel. Origin thrusts Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon into the dangerous intersection of humankind’s two most enduring questions, and the earthshaking discovery that will answer them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSmile / Roddy Doyle.
“Who is unreliable? Just moved in to a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s pub for a pint, a slow one. One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and pink shirt brings over his pint and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from school. Says his name is Fitzpatrick. Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes too the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers. He prompts other memories too, of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who says the unsayable on the radio. But it’s the memories of high school, and of one particular Brother, that he cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverManhattan Beach : a novel / Jennifer Egan.
“This novel begins in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from Mightyape.co.nzThe Sparsholt affair / Alan Hollinghurst.
“In 1940, Dax and David, two young men from very different backgrounds, meet at Oxford University. Hollinghurst’s masterly novel takes us through several generations and across key periods of change in British society. From the darkest days of WWII, it moves to the socially and sexually liberated London of the 1960s, before landing in the mid-1970s.” (Adapted from Syndtics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rules of magic / Alice Hoffman.
“In New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverForest dark : a novel / Nicole Krauss.
“Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and outsized personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents’ deaths, his divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he’s felt an irresistible need to give away his possessions, alarming his children and perplexing the executor of his estate. With the last of his wealth, he travels to Israel, with a nebulous plan to do something to honor his parents. In Tel Aviv, he is sidetracked by a charismatic American rabbi planning a reunion for the descendants of King David who insists that Epstein is part of that storied dynastic line. He also meets the rabbi’s beautiful daughter who convinces Epstein to become involved in her own project, a film about the life of David being shot in the desert, with life-changing consequences. But Epstein isn’t the only seeker embarking on a metaphysical journey that dissolves his sense of self, place, and history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA legacy of spies / John Le Carré.
“Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized under disturbing criteria by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe golden house : a novel / Salman Rushdie.
“When the aristocratic Golden family moves into a self-contained pocket of New York City, a park in Greenwich Village called “The Gardens,” their past is an absolute mystery. They seem to be hiding in plain sight: Nero Golden, the powerful but shady patriarch, and his sons Petya, a high functioning autistic and recluse; Apu, the successful artist who may or may not be profound; and D, the enchanting youngest son whose gender confusion mirrors the confusion and possibilities of the world around him. And finally there is Vasilisa, the Russian beauty who seduces the patriarch to shape their American stories. An aspiring filmmaker decides the Golden family will be his subject. He gains the trust of this strange family, even as their secrets gradually unfold. Meanwhile, an insane Presidential Candidate known as only The Joker grows stronger and stronger, and America itself grows mad.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHome fire / Kamila Shamsie.
“Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London that is worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to or defy. Is he to be a chance at love, the means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?” (Adpated from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSing, unburied, sing : a novel / Jesmyn Ward.
“ Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. This novel grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Appreciate perfect imperfection in our latest home, garden and DIY picks

Our first book this time, Wab-sabi welcome is a beautifully illustrated one on the Japanese art of appreciating perfection in imperfect things, and leads on to the Wabi-sabi art of entertaining.

Syndetics book coverWabi-sabi welcome : learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease / Julie Pointer Adams.
“Filled with unexpected ideas and recipes, tips for creating an intimate environment, and visits to select homes around the world where the principle of wabi-sabi is woven into daily life.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverGrow fruit & veg in pots / Australian consultant, Jennifer Wilkinson.
Grow Fruit & Veg in Pots introduces readers to the almost endless possibilities of growing homegrown produce in pots, from raising fresh salads in a matter of days and growing your own salsa mix, to cultivating juicy exotic fruits- A Discover what fruit and veg you can grow in containers and how to get the best possible crop A Follow simple growing techniques and expert advice for every crop, and be inspired by design ideas that are a feast for the eyes A Raise salads in a matter of days, grow your own salsa mix, or have a mini orchard.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuilding small : sustainable designs for tiny houses & backyard buildings / David & Jeanie Stiles ; illustrations by David Stiles.
Building Small is your key to joining the tiny house revolution with designs for homes as well as a range of backyard buildings including workspaces and sheds. There’s tons of practical how-to construction advice including best practices, common pitfalls and tips for the do-it-yourself carpenter. Within these pages you’ll find: Complete plans for seven tiny houses. Strategies for outfitting your tiny house with lighting, water, heating and waste removal. Ideas for floor layout and interior design Success stories and inspirational photos of tiny homes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandwoven home : weaving techniques, tips, and projects for the rigid-heddle loom / Liz Gipson.
“In Handwoven Home, weaving expert Liz Gipson explains the tools and techniques you’ll need to weave personalized home textiles on a rigid-heddle loom–the most popular loom on the market today… Whether you’re making textiles for yourself or as a gift, inside you’ll find everything you need to create a woven personal touch for any room.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFolk fashion : understanding homemade clothes / Amy Twigger Holroyd.
“A dynamic resurgence in sewing and knitting is under way, with many people enjoying making and mending their own garments at home. However, stories abound of homemade clothes languishing at the back of the wardrobe. Amy Twigger Holroyd draws on ideas of fashion, culture and craft to explore makers’ lived experiences of creating and wearing homemade clothes in a society dominated by shop-bought garments. Using the innovative metaphor of fashion as common land, Folk Fashion investigates the complex relationship between making, well-being and sustainability.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDoormaking : materials, techniques, and projects for building your first door / Strother Purdy.
“Few pieces of furniture, save perhaps chairs, work as hard as doors. Building them to last, especially exterior doors, takes knowledge and experience that don’t come from making other types of furniture, such as tables and bookcases. Doormaking: Materials, Techniques and Projects for Building Your First Door by woodworker Strother Purdy gathers all the information and guidance that both beginning and intermediate woodworkers need to be successful making their first door.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from Mightape.co.nzSmall homes, grand living / edited by Robert Klanten and Caroline Kurze.
Small Homes, Grand Living’s assortment of projects and homes pays homage to the iconic innovation within modest living areas and shows the creative usage of space in continually expanding urban areas. As more people across the globe move into cities, living space becomes a precious commodity. Designers, architects, and innovative inhabitants seek new ways of creating a home that is just as comfortable as it is functional and aesthetically pleasing.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy French country home : entertaining through the seasons / Sharon Santoni ; photographs by Franck Schmitt.
“Born from her experience of everyday living in France, Sharon Santoni reveals the gracious, easy French way of entertaining guests at her countryside home, year-round. Personal stories evoke the spirit of the French lifestyle, while gorgeous photos make us feel right at home. Santoni creates lush bouquets from her garden and utilizes resources from surrounding nature to lay gorgeous tables both indoors and outdoors. Venues range from a Sunday morning breakfast on the patio, to a ladies lunch in her lush garden, a formal dinner in her dining room, and a picnic by the river.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLagom : the Swedish secret of living well / by Lola A. Åkerström.
“As the Swedish proverb goes, ‘Lagom är bäst’ (The right amount is best). Lagom sums up the Swedish psyche and is the reason why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world with a healthy work-life balance and high standards of living. Lagom is a way of living that promotes harmony. It celebrates fairness, moderation and being satisfied with and taking proper care of what you’ve got, including your well-being, relationships, and possessions. It’s not about having too little or too much but about fully inviting contentment into our lives through making optimal decisions.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPotted : make your own stylish garden containers / Annette Goliti Gutierrez & Mary Gray.
“This lushly designed guide empowers you to create your own show-stopping containers made from everyday materials such as concrete, plastic, metal, terracotta, rope, driftwood, and fabric. The 23 step-by-step projects are affordable, made from accessible materials, and most importantly, gorgeous. They include new spins on old favorites, like the cinderblock garden made popular by design blogs or hanging planters made from enamelware bowls, along with never-before-seen ideas like a chimney flue planter and wall planters made from paint cans.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandmade home / Mark & Sally Bailey ; photography by Debi Treloar.
“Living with paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and textiles–in fact almost anything crafted by hand –will give your home a distinct personality that is welcome in this age of mass production. Handmade Home shows how living with handcrafted pieces is a joyful experience that awakens the senses and brings simple, tactile pleasure to every day. The book begins by looking at The Elements: Color, Texture, Textiles, Made by Hand, and Collecting. Next, The Homes contains 12 inspirational case studies, offering a glimpse into the private spaces of those who love to create or to live with handmade pieces.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMake yourself at home : design your space to discover your true self / Moorea Seal ; photographs by Marissa Maharaj ; illustrations by Julia Manchik.
“This book is all about beautifying your life inside and out, helping you turn your home into a comfortable space that reflects your best self. Organized room by room, each chapter delves into what each room represents in our lives, and how we can feel at home in our spaces and at home in ourselves. You don’t have to have the perfect life or perfect home in order to infuse your space with your signature spark and feel comfortable in your space.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThriftstyle : the ultimate bargain shopper’s guide to smart fashion / Allison Engel, Reise Moore and Margaret Engel ; photographs by Roger Snider.
“A must-have guide for bargain-hunting fashionistas looking to make a statement without sabotaging their budgets. In this photo-filled, easy-to-use resource, shoppers will learn to navigate the racks of their local consignment shop, spot name brands like Versace, Dior, and Burberry, select the best quality items, and repair secondhand clothes that need some love.” (Provided by publisher)

Read around the globe: New translated fiction

Translated novels feature in this month’s selection of ‘Other Genres’ fiction. With some wonderful novels, translated from Swedish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, French, Turkish and Hungarian, many hours of reading pleasure are guaranteed.

Syndetics book coverNevada days / Bernardo Atxaga ; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.
“A fictionalised account of the author’s nine months’ stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. He is accompanied by his wife, Angela, who is also doing research there, and by their two daughters. During their first few weeks, the family encounter a strange mapache (racoon), which is always staring at them from the garden, a flight of helicopters immediately overhead, a black widow spider, a warning about bears, a party of prisoners in the desert, a lake that is somehow far too calm and too blue, and, not long into their stay, the kidnap and murder of a young girl living in the house right next door.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenance / Kanae Minato ; translated by Philip Gabriel.
“The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma. When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emili by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emili is found murdered hours later. Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emili’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWaiting for Monsieur Bellivier / Britta Röstlund ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
“Are you waiting for Monsieur Belliver, madame? Helena Folasadu should of course say no. She doesn’t know the man talking to her, she doesn’t know Monsieur Bellivier, and she certainly isn’t waiting for him. But, bored of life, and sparked by a whim, she says yes. The go-between leads her to a deserted floor in an office building and offers her a large sum of money to sit at a computer and forward emails to Monsieur Bellivier. The emails turn out to be in code, and the bouquets Helena is handed every evening entangle her in an even greater mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe history of bees / Maja Lunde.
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame. United States, 2007, George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China 2098, Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him. Three very different narratives lead into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSundays in August / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Damion Searls.
“Stolen jewels, black markets, hired guns, crossed lovers, unregistered addresses, people gone missing, shadowy figures disappearing in crowds, newspaper stories uncomfortably close and getting closer, this ominous novel is Set in Nice. A young couple in hiding keeps close watch over a notorious diamond necklace known as the Southern Cross, with its provenance murky, only they know it’s whereabouts, who find themselves trapped by its potential value, and its ultimate cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
“On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before. In the nearby town, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red Haired woman, an irresistibly alluring member of a travelling theatre company, catches his eye and seems as fascinated by him as he is by her. The young man’s wildest dream will be realized, but, when in his distraction, a horrible accident befalls the well-digger; the boy will flee, returning to Istanbul. Only years later will he discover whether he was in fact responsible for his master’s death and who the redheaded enchantress was.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe children / Carolina Sanín ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.
“One day, as she enters her local supermarket, Laura Romero has a startling encounter with a beggar, who seems to offer her a child. A short while later, in the middle of the night, she discovers a mysterious young boy on the pavement outside her apartment building: Fidel, who is six years old, a child with seemingly no origins or meaning. With few clues to guide her as she tries to attach significance to his presence, Laura find herself swept into a bureaucratic maelstrom of fantastical proportions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKatalin Street / Magda Szabó ; translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix.
“In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe postman’s fiancée / Denis Thériault ; translated by John Cullen.
“Tania moves from Bavaria to Montreal to fine-tune her French and fall in love. Finding work as a waitress at a low-key restaurant in a working-class area of the city, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who writes haiku and who is passionate about calligraphy. The two become friends. One stormy day their lives take a dramatic turn, and as their destinies become increasingly entwined the two are led into a world where nothing is as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Sit back and enjoy these Classical CD additions

Here are three CDs we slipped into the classical music collection recently!

Quartets Op. 13, 44 No. 2, 4 Pieces, Frage Op. 9, Mendelssohn. Performed by Quatuor Arod.
“The Arod Quartet, founded just four years ago in Paris, makes its debut on Erato with an album of Mendelssohn, tracing his life through his works for string quartet. The composer has been important for the ensemble, not least by helping it win two major competitions. The members of the Arod have been mentored by both the Ebène and Artemis Quartet, and they collaborate here with a further Erato artist, the mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, in a performance of the song ‘Ist es wahr?'” (amazon.com).

Piano Concerto No. 2, Études-tableaux, Op. 33, Rachmaninov. Performed by Boris Giltburg and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
“Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of the most passionate and beloved concertos in the repertoire, its lyricism and virtuosity charting a trajectory from darkness through idyll to dazzling triumph. The Études-tableaux, Op. 33 are richly characterised musical evocations, expressive and often explosive, that reflect a more angular, modern aspect” (cover).

An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell, John Blow. Performed by Arcangelo + soloists.
“Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo present an ideal album of music for connoisseurs of the English Baroque – and extraordinary singing. This wonderful recital of music by John Blow features a wide range of both vocal and instrumental music. Arcangelo once again demonstrate their versatility in repertoire that will be a real discovery for many” (amazon.com).

Coming very soon: Mahler 2 performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Monteverdi’s Vespers 1610.

Heists, commandos and interrogations feature in our new History picks

This month’s history picks see plenty of visits to the mid-20th Century, with Cold War heists, Italian WWII commandos, and post-war leaders rebuilding in the United Kingdom. Elsewhere, we go to the slightly more recent capture and subsequent interrogation of Saddam Hussein, and a controversial book from an Indian doctor regarding the influence of Britain in the creation of the systems that make up modern India.

Syndetics book coverThe taking of K-129 : how the CIA used Howard Hughes to steal a Russian sub in the most daring covert operation in history / Josh Dean.
“An incredible true tale of espionage and engineering set at the height of the Cold War–a mix between The Hunt for Red October and Argo– about how the CIA, the U.S. Navy, and America’s most eccentric mogul spent six years and nearly a billion dollars to steal the nuclear-armed Soviet submarine K-129 after it had sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean; all while the Russians were watching.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cold war : a world history / Odd Arne Westad.
“We tend to think of the Cold War as a bounded conflict: a clash of two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, born out of the ashes of World War II and coming to a dramatic end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in this major new work, Bancroft Prize-winning scholar Odd Arne Westad argues that the Cold War must be understood as a global ideological confrontation, with early roots in the Industrial Revolution and ongoing repercussions around the world.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDebriefing the president : the interrogation of Saddam Hussein / John Nixon.
Debriefing the President presents an astounding, candid portrait of one of our era’s most notorious strongmen. Nixon, the first man to conduct a prolonged interrogation of Hussein after his capture, offers expert insight into the history and mind of America’s most enigmatic enemy. Unflinching and unprecedented, Debriefing the President exposes a fundamental misreading of one of the modern world’s most central figures and presents a new narrative that boldly counters the received account.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecima Flottiglia MAS : the best commandos of the Second World War / Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr.
“A group of determined young human torpedoes and assault swimmers fought bravely for Italy in the Second World War, inspiring fear and respect from the British Navy. The actions of these few men severely reduced British naval power in the Mediterranean. Italy’s Decima Flottiglia MAS pre-dates both the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams, formed in 1943 and forerunners of the better-known U.S. Navy SEALs; and the British Royal Marines Special Boat Service.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shortest history of Germany / James Hawes.
“Read in an afternoon. Remember for a lifetime. The West is in full retreat. Populists all over Europe cry out that immigration and globalisation are the work of a nefarious System, run by unseen masters with no national loyalties. From the Kremlin, Tsar Vladimir watches his Great Game line up, while the Baltic and Vizegrad states shiver — and everyone looks to Berlin. But are the Germans really us, or them? This question has haunted Europe ever since Julius Caesar invented the Germani in 58 BC. This fresh, illuminating and concise new history, with more than 100 maps and images, makes sense of Europe’s most admired and feared country.” (Abridged from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverArchaeology of the Solomon Islands / Richard Walter & Peter Sheppard.
Archaeology of the Solomon Islands presents the outcome of 20 years research in the Solomon Islands undertaken jointly by Richard Walter and Peter Sheppard, both leaders in the eld of Pacific archaeology. This fascinating and very readable book is written for an archaeological audience but is also designed to be accessible to all readers interested in Pacific archaeology, anthropology and history. Featuring more than a hundred maps and figures, Archaeology of the Solomon Islands represents a ground-breaking contribution to Pacific archaeology.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCitizen Clem : a biography of Attlee / John Bew.
“Bew’s thorough and keen examination of Attlee, the former leader of the Labour Party, illuminates how his progressive beliefs shaped his influential domestic and international policy. The Man Who Made Modern Britain explores his tenure in the years after the war, as he presided over a radical new government in an age of austerity and imperial decline. Attentive to both the man and the political landscape, this comprehensive biography provides new insight into the soul of a leader who transformed his country and by extension the vast empire over which it once ruled.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAs it was : growing up in Grey Lynn and Ponsonby between the wars / Russell Stone.
“A fascinating look at two of Auckland¿s most popular suburbs as they were in the 1920s and 1930s. When Russell Stone was born in 1923 life was simpler and relatively uncomplicated. But it was also harsher, with much hard physical labour for men and women alike. The memory of the Great War was still raw. And although the attitudes and practices of our colonial past were still to be seen on every hand, Auckland, just like New Zealand as a whole, was already passing over the threshold towards something quite different.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe making of India : the untold story of British enterprise / Kartar Lalvani.
“Dr. Kartar Lalvani controversially argues that Britain made a crucial contribution in providing India with its lasting physical and institutional infrastructure which continues to underpin the world’s largest democracy. The indisputable fact is that India as a nation, as it stands today, was originally put together and created by a small distant island nation. That India has endured as a democracy and a unified nation is thanks to the all important and fully functional infrastructure of an independent civil service and judiciary, a disciplined and apolitical army and a well drilled and efficient police force–all developed by an imperial power.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Some new books on learning English

A good collection of new books about learning English for speakers of other languages.

Syndetics book coverThe official guide to PTE Academic : Pearson Test of English Academic / from the test developers.
“The Official Guide to PTE Academic provides comprehensive information about the test, over 200 practice tasks on CD-ROM, analysis of sample answers, test-taking tips and more. The first and only official guide for PTE Academic written by the developers of the test itself, it includes everything you need to know about the test. * Explains the features, format and scoring of PTE Academic, giving test takers a clear idea of what to expect when they take the test * Provides practice with authentic test types and questions * Includes sample answers that are actual student responses from field tests * Improves on test taking strategies * CD-ROM provides additional practice.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPTE Academic : practice tests plus / from the test developers.
“PTE Academic Practice Tests Plus includes: * four complete practice tests with authentic test questions by PTE Academic test writers * detailed guidance, strategies and tips to teach you how to do each task type * annotated answer key and score guide to help you assess your answers * real candidate answers with comments on each spoken and written task * MP3 disc with the recordings for all of the listening and speaking tasks.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover39 ESL icebreakers: for teenagers and adults / Jackie Bolen + Jennifer Booker Smith ; edited by Victoria Florimont.
“All ESL/EFL/TEFL teachers who work with teenagers or adults need activities to get their classes started off on the right foot when students don’t know each other, or you. Icebreaker activities are the perfect tool for the job, but it’s not easy to find the best ones… In 39 ESL Icebreakers, you’ll get over three-dozen ideas to use in your own classroom. The highly-detailed descriptions will show you exactly how to use the activities during your lessons. The clearly and concisely explained activities will help you add instructional variety and put the focus back on your students.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGrammar in context. Basic / Sandra N. Elbaum, Judi P. Pemán.
“The Sixth Edition of the best-selling Grammar in Context series, inspires learners through compelling stories, National Geographic images, and content, relevant to students’ lives. Students learn more, remember more, and use language more effectively when they learn grammar in context.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAdvanced trainer : six practice tests with answers / Felicity O’Dell and Michael Black.
Advanced Trainer Second edition offers six practice tests for the revised Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) exam combined with easy-to-follow guidance and exam tips. The first two tests are fully guided with advice on how to tackle each paper. Extra practice activities, informed by the Cambridge Learner Corpus, a bank of real candidates’ exam papers, focus on areas where students typically need the most help. This version contains a full answer key. Audio for the listening and speaking test activities is available online for download.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Simply advanced (CAE) : 8 practise tests for the Cambridge English. Advanced CAE.
“This kit contains 8 practise test for the Cambridge Advanced English examination. There are sample writings for both parts of the Paper 2 – Writing. There is also justification of the correct answers for the Reading and Listening section. This self-study edition includes audio scripts, answer key and MP3 audio CD.” (Syndetics summary)

Reading for the real world. 1 / Casey Malarcher, Andrea Janzen, Adam Worcester, Peggy Anderson.
” Free app, free website.” (Cover)

Syndetics book coverEnglish. Essential / written by Christopher Warnasch ; translated by I-Ling Hsu ; edited by Laura Riggio.
English, Complete Edition is a unique multimedia program that is designed for speakers of any language. It takes you from a beginner to an advanced level in one convenient package. At the core of English, Complete Edition is the Living Language Method(tm), based on linguistic science, proven techniques, and over 65 years of experience. Our method teaches you the whole language, so you can express yourself, not just recite memorized words or scripts.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Improve your IELTS listening & speaking skills / Barry Cusack, Sam McCarter.
“Improve your IELTS skills is a series of three skills books written for students preparing to take the IELTS examination. The series aims to help develop the skills, language and test techniques required to do well in the exam.” (back cover)

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding spoken English : a focus on everyday language in context. Book one / by Susan Boyer.

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding spoken English : a focus on everyday language in context. Book two / Susan Boyer.

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding spoken English : a focus on everyday language in context. Book three / Susan Boyer.
“This book is designed to help students of English understand spoken language as it is encountered in everyday business and social situations in English speaking environments around the world. It provides information about the social and business conventions of spoken English such as, agreeing and disagreeing politely, giving an opinion and dealing with business negotiations.” (Syndetics summary)

Mysterious new Mystery novels

The new mystery novels selected from our recent additions to the mystery collection include several popular much acclaimed writers: Ann Cleeves, Martina Cole, Michael Hjorth and Val McDermid. Highly recommended is the debut novel by Jessica Fellowes titled The Mitford murders.

Syndetics book coverDead woman walking / Sharon Bolton.
“The twelve sightseers in a hot-air balloon are drifting over Northumberland. They’re passing over an isolated farmhouse when Jessica and her sister, Bella see a man killing a young woman. Everyone in the balloon is watching the man when he looks up and spots them. He only has one option to kill them all. After a furious crash the balloon crashes, and Jessica’s the only survivor. She’s seen his face and he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seagull / Ann Cleeves.
“A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two. This cold case case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDamaged / Martina Cole.
“When the bodies of missing schoolgirls start turning up, former DCI Kate Burrows is dragged out of retirement. A new Grantley serial killer is in town and DCI Annie Carr turns to Kate for help. She welcomes the distraction from her home life with former gangster, Patrick Kelly, whose long lost son has turned up out of the blue, bringing trouble with him. It soon becomes clear the killer is on their doorstep and as the body count grows, Kate and Annie face a race against the clock. But they have no real leads and there’s more to these murders than meets the eye. Can Kate take the killer down before another schoolgirl dies?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe missing masterpiece / Jeanne M. Dams.
“When Dorothy Martin goes to France alone because Alan is stuck back home in Sherebury with a broken ankle, she worries about her ability to get along in a language she barely speaks, and in a country she hasn’t seen for over fifty years. But by the time Alan joins her a week later, Dorothy has found herself embroiled in one mystery after another: a woman drowning in quicksand; a man suffering a near fatal fall in the abbey at Mont Saint Michel; and a missing American archaeologist, all seemingly connected to a monk named Abelard who has been dead for almost nine hundred years. It isn’t until another body is discovered that Dorothy’s ability to ‘think outside the box’ finally unravels the threads of a despicable scheme.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mitford murders / Jessica Fellowes.
“It’s 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle. Louisa’s salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nursery maid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy, an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories. But when a nurse, Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake, is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTruly evil / Mark Hardie.
“A body has been found dumped on the sandy shores of Southend. Already under scrutiny following the murder of a corrupt cop, DS Frank Pearson and DC Cat Russell of the Essex Major Investigation Team are tasked with solving the case quickly, and quietly. When the victim’s identity is revealed, the list of suspects begins to grow. A young woman knows more than she’s letting on, but is she really involved? Or the estranged father, who’s been trying to find the victim for months. One thing is clear: no one is telling the whole truth. Then a shocking tragedy leads Pearson to a similar murder case from decades before. Is it a coincidence, or is history repeating itself?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond absolution / Cora Harrison.
“Ireland. 1925. Pierced through to the brain, the dead body of the priest was found wedged into the small, dark confessional cubicle. Loved by all, Father Dominic had lent a listening ear to sinners of all kinds: gunmen and policemen; prostitutes and nuns; prosperous businessmen and petty swindlers; tradesmen and thieves. But who knelt behind the metal grid and inserted a deadly weapon into that listening ear? The Reverend Mother Aquinas can do nothing for Father Dominic, but for the sake of his brother, her old friend Father Lawrence, she is determined to find out who killed him, and why.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe silent girl : a Sebastian Bergman thriller / [Michael] Hjorth & [Hans] Rosenfeldt ; translated by Marlaine Delargy.
“An idyllic white, two-storey, beautiful house in Sweden. Inside, a family has been brutally murdered, mother, father and two young children all shot in broad daylight. And the killer has got away. Sebastian Bergman has been brought in to solve the crime, but with no credible suspects, he is at a dead end. Until he discovers that there was a witness to the crime. A young girl who saw it all happen and she has disappeared. Bergman has to track the young girl down before it’s too late. But the killer is chasing her too and he is determined to finish what he started.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInsidious intent / Val McDermid.
“When charred human remains are discovered in the driver’s seat of a burning car, DCI Carol Jordan and psychological profiler Tony Hill are brought in to investigate. They soon discover that what appeared to be a terrible accident is, in fact, murder. Delving deeper into the case, they begin the dangerous hunt for a most sinister killer with the power to inflict untold fear and pain on their victims.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFatal music / Peter Morfoot.
“Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle arrives at a crime scene to find a woman’s mutilated corpse. Initially routine, the case deepens and darkens into a complex enquiry that threatens to close in on Darac himself. But allegiances past and present must be set aside to unravel a tale of greed, deception and treachery that spans the social spectrum. It is among the winding streets of his own neighbourhood in Nice’s old town, the Babazouk, that Darac faces his severest test yet.” (Adapted from syndetics summary)

Binge these new movie & TV books

Make sure to check out some newly catalogued books on movies and TV programmes. They include the colourful ‘top 100’ movie guides by Fantastic Press and the insightful guidebooks of the much-loved TV series; Game of Thrones and Orphan Black.

Syndetics book coverTop 100 horror movies / written, edited and designed by Gary Gerani ; Ken Rubin, production coordinator.
“For the first Fantastic Press offering, it’s horror against horror in the ultimate scary movie match-up. Screenwriter/film historian Gary (Pumpkinhead) Gerani presents and evaluates the cinema’s most celebrated shockers, from silent classics to today’s gleefully audacious gorefests. This super-colorful overview contains over 600 rare visuals, and features a brand-new introduction by celebrated horror movie director Roger Corman.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTop 100 comic book movies / written, edited and designed by Gary Gerani.
“From the classic era of super-serials like FLASH GORDON to the current blockbusters that have taken Hollywood by storm, Top 100 Comic Book Movies covers the fascinating universe of live-action theatrical adaptations of comic books and comic strips. Readers will revel in historic overviews of the greatest works of this unique genre, accompanied by dazzling photographs, full-color posters, and countless rare artifacts. Watch the patriotic ’40s give way to the campy ’60s, until the 21st Century explodes with superhero excitement on a scale never before experienced.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTop 100 sci-fi movies / written, edited and designed by Gary Gerani ; Ken Rubin, production coordinator.
“Fantastic Press strikes again with its second trade paperback offering, this time exploring the ultra-fanciful universe of spaceships, exotic planets, time travel, and extraterrestrials. The top 100 sci-fi movies are reviewed and ranked by fantasy screenwriter/film historian Gary Gerani, who covers everything from early silent groundbreakers like A Trip to the Moon to today’s widescreen, computer-generated blockbusters. With over 600 rare visuals, full-color layouts. and an introduction by one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, this exciting new pictorial overview is the ideal companion book to 2010’s Top 100 Horror Movies.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe DNA of Orphan Black / Abbie Bernstein.
“Get under the skin of clone club. This comprehensive guide to Orphan Black has an access-all-areas pass to the most innovative drama on TV. Includes interviews with the show’s creators and cast, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, production and visual effects secrets, plus everything you need to know about the Dyad Institute, the Proletheans and Neolutionists, Projects Leda and Castor, and more. This is a must-have for all fans of Orphan Black.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe science of Game of thrones. / Helen Keen.
“Award-winning comedian and popular-science writer Helen Keen uncovers the astounding science behind the world’s most popular television show. Join Helen as she sifts the fact from fantasy, discovers the truth beneath the togas, and reveals a world more fantastical than Daenerys Targaryen’s wildest dreams. So pour yourself a bowl of brown, climb on your beast of burden, and prepare yourself for an amazing adventure. It’s time to see the Seven Kingdoms as you have never seen them before.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMakeup man : from Rocky to Star trek : the amazing creations of Hollywood’s Michael Westmore / Michael Westmore with Jake Page.
“Since 1917, there has never been a time when Westmores weren’t shaping the visages of stardom. For their century-long dedication to the art of makeup, the Westmores were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008. In this lively memoir, Michael Westmore not only regales us with tales of Hollywood’s golden age, but also from his own career where he notably transformed Sylvester Stallone into Rocky Balboa and Robert DiNiro into Jake LaMotta, among many other makeup miracles.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBreaking and entering : a manual for the working actor in film, stage and TV : from auditions to agents to a career / Philip Carlson.
“Philip Carlson was the first agent to sign Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup, Liev Schreiber, Claire Danes, Idris Elba, Kyra Sedgwick, Adrien Grenier and Paul Giamatti. He has represented Viola Davis, Kathy Bates, Brian Dennehy, and W.H. Macy among many and gifted others. He shares his practical trade secrets in this extraordinarily comprehensive guide on how to get into show business.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe actor uncovered : a life in acting / Michael Howard.
The Actor Uncovered is certainly not a set of rigid rules advocating one “method” or one singular “truth.” Departing from the common guidebook format, Michael Howard uses a unique approach to teaching acting, reflecting on his own history and sharing his own experiences as an actor, director, and teacher. How he writes about the process and craft of acting is at once intensely personal and relatable by others.” (Syndetics summary)

Delectable new Overdrive fiction

With its sourdough bread, fresh honey and Pu’er tea, this month’s new eBook fiction from Overdrive has a definite culinary theme. Of course food is never just food: it can be a symbol of familial love, culture, or, in Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees, a warning of what’s to come. So head over to the elibrary and join us for this literary feast!

Overdrive cover Refuge–A Novel, by Dina Nayeri
“An Iranian girl escapes to America as a child, but her father stays behind. Over twenty years, daughter and father know each other from only four crucial visits. The longer they are apart, the more their lives diverge, but also the more each comes to need the other’s wisdom and, ultimately, rescue.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Whispers Through a Megaphone, by Rachel Elliott
“Miriam hasn’t left her house in three years, and cannot raise her voice above a whisper. But today she has had enough, and is finally ready to rejoin the outside world. Filled with wit and sparkling prose, Whispers Through a Megaphone explores our attempts to meaningfully connect with ourselves and others, in an often deafening world.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Highland Fling, by Anna Larner
“Eve Eddison describes her ideal woman to her best friend, Roxanne, over pints in their local pub a few days before she travels to the Scottish Highlands. There she falls head over heels for an enigmatic local, Moira Burns, and the usually reticent Eve wants more than a holiday romance.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The History of Bees, by Maja Lunde
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant who sets out to build a new type of beehive. United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper and fights an uphill battle against modern farming. China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have disappeared. The History of Bees joins three different narratives into one gripping and thought provoking story.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Casualty of War, by Charles Todd
“Though the Great War is nearing its end, the fighting rages on. While waiting for transport to her post, Bess Crawford meets Captain Alan Travis from Barbados. Later, when he’s brought to her disoriented from a head wound, Bess is alarmed that he believes his cousin, Lieutenant James Travis, shot him. Bess’s quest for the truth will bring her face-to-face with the wounds of war that not even peace can heal.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Michael Tolliver Lives, by Armistead Maupin
“Michael Tolliver, the sweet-spirited Southerner in Armistead Maupin’s classic Tales of the City series, is arguably the most beloved gay character in fiction. Now, almost twenty years after ending his groundbreaking saga of San Francisco life, Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero, letting the 55-year-old gardener tell his story in his own voice.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Dewey Decimal System, by Nathan Larson
“After a flu pandemic, a terrorist attack and the collapse of Wall Street, New York City is a shadow of its former self. As the city struggles to dig itself out of the wreckage, a nameless, obsessive-compulsive veteran has taken up residence at the New York Public Library. Dubbed “Dewey Decimal”, he must face the darkness of his past and the question of his buried identity.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sourdough, by Robin Sloan
“Lois Clary, an engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouth-watering bread. Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where a close-knit club runs the show. But when Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Endless Love, by Scott Spencer
“Seventeen-year-old David Axelrod is consumed with his love for Jade Butterfield. So when Jade’s father exiles him from their home, David does the only thing he thinks is rational: he burns down their house. Sentenced to a psychiatric institution, David’s obsession metastasizes, and upon his release, he sets out to win the Butterfields back by any means necessary.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See
“Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and their world will soon change forever.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)