Category: Recent picks

New Zealand’s history, not just the rich and famous

The past stories and history of New Zealand are not only the domain of the rich and famous. This month in the New Zealand collection we feature some stories of early pioneers whose names are not famous or well known but who played their part in the history of New Zealand.

Syndetics book coverOur stories : the way we used to be : the New Zealand that time forgot… / edited by Ian Wishart.
Every day, thousands of news stories are published in New Zealand, chronicling the big events and the small. Most of these stories are long forgotten by the time historians get around to compiling the ‘official record’ of our country. Discover the heroes and villains of our past through long forgotten news stories, and find out how life really was in pioneer New Zealand. (Adapted from back cover)

Syndetics book coverWorking lives c. 1900 : a photographic essay / Erik Olssen.
For the men and women of the skilled trades in the early 20th century, the skills and knowledge of their respective crafts were a source of identity and pride. Together with the so-called unskilled, who built the infrastructure for the new society, these workers laid the cultural and social foundations of a new and fairer society. This book uses photographs to show two processes fundamental to creating a new society: the transformation of swamp into farmland then city-scape, and the transplantation of the knowledge and skill required in the Old World that were essential to building a new world. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRough on women : abortion in 19th-century New Zealand / by Margaret Sparrow.
“Stories of abortion in 19th-century New Zealand, from newspaper accounts, court records and coroner’s reports”–Publisher information. The women in this book are all long dead and little is known of their inner lives. Most of what we know about them comes from coroners’ reports and newspaper accounts, and in many cases we know more about their abortionists than the women themselves. Women obtained abortions by whatever means they could, despite the dangers of poisoning, haemorrhage, and infection. And abortionists did their work despite the threat of long prison sentences or even the death penalty. (Adapted from back cover)

Syndetics book coverStolen lives : a New Zealand foster child’s story from the ’40s and ’50s / Netta England.
Netta and her older brother Ray hardly knew their mother. She was a strange woman who made occasional visits, and they did not even know they had a Father. Instead from a very early age they lived with foster parents and at school were treated as different. Growing up, Netta became increasingly aware that her foster mother disliked her. Though never starved, Netta suffered neglect, as well as mental, physical and sexual abuse. After her brother’s death in 1976, Netta, by then married with a grown up family, began her long journey to learn about and understand what had happened in the past. She wanted to find out if somewhere out there was a family, her own family that she could belong to. How would she find them, and would they want to know her? She needed to find her roots. Stolen Lives is the record of Netta’s journey from a neglected and abused state ward, to a woman who discovers her heritage and creates a positive life regardless of her upbringing. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPete the Bushman : hunting tales and back-country lessons from a wild West Coaster / Peter Salter with Nigel Zega.
The adventures of Pete the Bushman, a wild West-coaster from Pukekura, New Zealand’s answer to Crocodile Dundee and a man who owns his own town. This book about a true New Zealand bushman, of a life lived against the grain, of adventure in New Zealand’s thickest wilderness and a lifestyle any Kiwi bloke would envy. Pete the Bushman has lived a life inseparable from the bush – these are his stories of running down deer on foot, heli-hunting in his own chopper, finding the perfect woman and eking out a living from the bush. He and his wife Justine run the Bushman’s Centre, 35 mins south of Hokitika, established in 1991 as a place to show visitors how local people use the South Island forest. Also known as ‘Possum Pete’, the Bushman is one of the eccentric and colourful characters featured on TVNZ’s ‘This Town’. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVertical living : the Architectural Centre and the remaking of Wellington / Julia Gatley and Paul Walker.
“… we of this Architectural Centre in Wellington are a group of architects and draughtsmen and wood engravers and other people whose greatest claim to affiliation is an overriding enthusiasm for good design” – Design Review, 1948. In 1946, just as the Group was being established in Auckland, Wellington established the Architectural Centre. Members of both were young and idealistic, and they shared common beliefs – in the transformative potential of modern architecture, in need for urban development to be carefully controlled, in the desirability of planning for a better future. This book recovers the powerful history, politics and architecture of the Architectural Centre to return us to a vision of a modernist city, partially realised in Wellington New Zealand. Gatley and Walker begin writing the city back into the history of architecture in this country. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJourney to a hanging / Peter Wells.
“In 1865, Rev Carl Sylvius Volkner was hanged, his head cut off, his eyes eaten and his blood drunk from his church chalice. One name – Kereopa Te Rau (Kaiwhatu: The Eye-eater) – became synonymous with the murder. In 1871 he was captured, tried and sentenced to death. But then something remarkable happened. Sister Aubert and William Colenso – two of the greatest minds in colonial New Zealand – came to his defence. Regardless, Kereopa Te Rau was hanged in Napier Prison. But even a century and a half later, the events have not been laid to rest. Questions continue to emerge: Was it just? Was it right? Was Kereopa Te Rau even behind the murder? And who was Volkner – was he a spy or an innocent?” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverHow we remember : New Zealanders and the First World War / edited by Charles Ferrall and Harry Ricketts.
“Essays by a raft of historians, writers and other prominent figures reflect on our different forms of remembering and re-membering, what we have cherished and valued, forgotten and ignored, constructed and reframed” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverVictory : New Zealand airmen and the fall of Germany / Max Lambert.
“Here are the vivid, inspiring and previously unpublished stories of the New Zealand fliers – most in their early 20s, some still teenagers – who lived and died in the service of their country while flying with the Royal Air Force from bases in Britain and from airfields in northwest Europe after the invasion of 1944, published to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D Day and the beginning of the end of World War II” (Publisher information)

New ‘Other Genre’ fiction for May features New Zealand writers

A wonderful selection of the latest New Zealand Fiction for this month’s ‘Other Genre’ category. From historical to contemporary, suspense to light humour, also short stories, this is a diverse range of themes skilfully written, by some very talented New Zealanders.

Syndetics book coverDrowning city / Ben Atkins.
“In a city of elusive agendas, it’s hard to find the truth. It’s even harder to find what’s right. A bootlegger’s dream is rocked by an attempt to destroy his lucrative business. What begins as a curious evening suddenly snowballs into a night-time odyssey as Fontana searches for answers he never thought he’d have to find. The city is saturated with criminal and political extremism: is there anyone he can trust?” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverLamplighter / Kerry Donovan Brown.
“Old World lamplighters once lit the streets of cities like Constantinople, Alexandria and Rome. In the countryside, in the new colonies, the Lamplighter doesn’t light passages through the dark; he lights perimeters against it, and the wildernesses beyond” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBefore the delusion : secret Vatican files of the Pyramids and Stonehenge / William Gleeson.
“Dr. Liam Kelly PhD, SJ, is a renowned scholar of Biblical history who has spent a lifetime researching pre-Christian documents in the Vatican archives. With his knowledge of a dozen ancient languages, he compiles a dossier of the secrets of the archives and uncovers startling linked secret meaning of the Pyramids and Stonehenge. But he learns the story can never be told, because twisted through the threads of pagan history are other dark secrets the Church does not want to reveal. Dr. Kelly wrestles with his inner demons, torn between loyalty to his Church and the temptation of telling the truth. At risk to his personal safety, he defies Church hierarchy to find a way to reveal the old knowledge of pagan mysteries.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe train to Paris / Sebastian Hampson.
“Lawrence Williams is twenty. A student of art history, he is just awakening to the world. After a disastrous holiday in Spain with his girlfriend, he catches the train back to Paris. But a delay leaves him stranded at the border, and that’s when Elodie Lavelle strolls into the quiet station. Seductive and surprising, this is the beginning of an unforgettable love story.” (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverWhere the Rēkohu bone sings / Tina Makereti.
“From the Chatham Islands/Rēkohu, to London, from 1835 to the 21st century, this story confronts the complexity of being Moriori, Māori and Pākehā” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrilemma : a novel / Jennifer Mortimer.
“A whim takes American businesswoman Linnet “Lin” Mere back to the New Zealand of her birth where she plans to connect with relatives she has never met, the family her father abandoned when he left them for Lin’s mother. She also wants to rekindle her relationship with an estranged ex-boyfriend, Ben. Lin finds a rewarding position as the CEO of Hera, a new but ambitious telecommunications company, sparking a ruthless war for corporate dominance for which she is more than prepared. What Lin is unprepared for, and indeed unaware of, is an undeclared enemy willing to use murder to stop her”. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe glove box & other stories / Vivienne Plumb.
“In this collection, Vivienne Plumb is interested in women who are on the road. In the title story, ‘Glove Box’, an otherwise house-bound and straight-laced mother regularly takes off in the family’s old Jag for hours on end. Other characters hitchhike, crisscrossing the Australian continent, accepting lifts in trucks, cars and kombi vans with trees painted on them. They are running away from dysfunctional families; they are seeking adventure or just looking for work. There are women in transit and in transition, stepping out of the traditional role ascribed to them and onto an open road.” (Adapted from syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe koneke / Suzanne Singleton.
“The rural township of Te Kauri is disrupted and its residents unnerved when local pig farmer Joe Priestley and his wife Molly, mysteriously disappear. Police officer Will Grayson leads the investigation in his first important case. Will’s efforts are thwarted by a belligerent superior officer, a freak flood and the antics of a crafty bootlegger. These obstacles only harden Will’s resolve to succeed. As Will gathers evidence surrounding the Priestley’s disappearance, he realizes someone is determined to keep him from the truth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ad lib / Thomasin Sleigh.
“The camerawoman zooms in on the photo, the lens of the camera lingering on the image. After a moment, the camerawoman reaches out and touches it and Kyla copies her, tracing the outline of her mother’s face and the straight line of her raised arm. ‘She will be in our thoughts always,’ whispers the camerawoman. When celebrity singer Carmen Crane passes away, her only daughter inherits a reality TV show. As Kyla Crane adjusts to this new scrutiny, strange things start to happen: the house is rearranged overnight, unknown characters appear, the show’s narrative loses its way, and the camera crew begins to echo events. When fragments of her mother’s past surface, Kyla is compelled to scroll through the footage and come to her own conclusions about life in the public eye and her ambiguous inheritance” (Adapted from Syndetics summar)

Cross creek return / Irene Swadling. “ A tragic accident in 1880 on the Rimutaka Incline leaves young traumatized. His premonition of danger before the event is paralleled by events experienced by his grandfather, an emigrant to Nelson in 1842. The growth of the Colony of Nelson and the 77 years of the Rimutaka Incline Railway, with its Fell engines set the background of this novel.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Recently added to the New Zealand Reference Collection

The days are getting shorter and evening time is here. So it’s the perfect time to come up to the 2nd floor of the Central Library and check out the “new book” area of the New Zealand Reference Collection. Always eclectic and something for everyone.

Syndetics book coverWhales and dolphins of Aotearoa New Zealand.
“For centuries whales and dolphins have captured our imaginations. We have revered and mythologised them, hunted them to the brink of extinction and passionately protected them . But how much do we really know? Marine mammal expert Barbara Todd uses a powerful combination of science and culture to explore whales’ incredible diversity, biology and adaptation to life in the oceans.” (abridged from jacket cover)

Syndetics book coverLazy days : painting the Kiwi lifestyle / Graham Young.
Join artist Graham Young on a painted journey through everyday life in New Zealand” (back cover)

Syndetics book coverVisible : 60 women at 60 / photography by Jenny O’Connor.
“Photographer Jenny O’Connor was born in 1952, the year that the highest number of births was recorded in New Zealand. She, and the women who feature in Visible, are part of the ‘baby boom’ generation. In 2011, as Jenny headed toward her 60th birthday in 2012, she began to wonder how other women nearing this same milestone felt about themselves, how society saw them and what their thoughts about their future were. Jenny’s desire to explore these questions was how this book began; by talking to 60 women who were 60 when she took their photograph. The words are theirs, writing whatever each wanted to say about themselves.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond the state : New Zealand state houses from modest to modern / text, Bill McKay and Andrea Stevens ; photography Simon Devitt.
“A full colour illustrated history of New Zealand’s state housing traditions featuring modern-day examples of 14 state houses located around the country, ranging from original to dramatically renovated.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverPaul Callaghan : luminous moments / foreword by Catherine Callaghan.
“Acknowledged internationally for his ground-breaking scientific research in the field of magnetic resonance, Sir Paul Callaghan was a scientist and visionary with a rare gift for promoting science to a wide audience. He was named New Zealander of the Year in 2011. His death in early 2012 robbed New Zealand of an inspirational leader. Paul Callaghan: Luminous Moments brings together some of his most significant writing. Whether he describes his childhood in Wanganui, reflects on discovering the beauty of science, sets out New Zealand’s future potential or discusses the experience of fatherhood, Sir Paul Callaghan offers eloquent narratives that will endure in this country’s literature. Meeting with the cancer that ended his life, he documents for us all ways of living well in the face of illness. As his daughter Catherine writes in her moving foreword: ‘He became his own scientific experiment.” (publisher desription)

Syndetics book coverJoan Bullock Morrell, sculptor / [edited with introduction by] Valerie Cowan.
“Joan Bullock Morrell is an artist of international repute and one of New Zealand’s foremost bronze sculptors. After being awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal in recognition of services to the country, she received a QSM in 1995 for her work in the community. Joan has created an extensive body of work in her 45-year career. Many are works of self-expression, but she has also been in demand to produce pieces for private collections and for display in public places, and has been exhibited in New Zealand and overseas. This book, profusely illustrated with examples of Joan’s work, examines the inspiration for each sculpture and gives the reader an insight into the creative process of bronze casting.” (publisher desription)

Syndetics book coverFitz : the colonial adventures of James Edward FitzGerald / Jenifer Roberts.
“The story of James Edward FitzGerald, whose energy and enthusiasm contributed so much to the early history of Christchurch. Orator, writer, politician and journalist, he was the first Canterbury Pilgrim to set foot in New Zealand, first superintendent of the province of Canterbury, first leader of the general government, and founder of the Press newspaper. From his early years in the Anglo-Irish gentry of England to his old age as auditor-general of the colony, FITZ is a gripping biography that reads like a novel, breathing new life into the extraordinary man who played a major role in public life through fifty years of New Zealand history.” (back cover)

Katherine Mansfield and the big OE

For many kiwis the big OE is a right of passage, it is almost a qualification and wouldn’t look out of place on a curriculum vitae. During the 19th and early 20th century many New Zealanders viewed Britain as home even though they had never been there. This has continued and London is usually the home base and trips to Europe aretaken as soon as enough money is earned. Arriving in the NZ Collection this month Flying Kiwis A History of the OE Jude Wilson provides a history of the Kiwi OE. Also new this month is a book by Kirsty Gunn about her experience of returning to Wellington and her time spent writing at Katherine Mansfield house. This got me thinking about how Mansfield was of course one of New Zealand’s most famous OE travellers. So I have also included some of the titles that Kirsty had in her bibliography as a celebration of Mansfield and of course the OE.

Syndetics book coverFlying Kiwis : a history of the OE / Jude Wilson.
“Leaving home to see the world is something that succeeding generations of young New Zealanders have done in ever-increasing numbers. The ‘overseas experience,’ or the ‘OE,’ has been the topic of countless individual travel accounts, and has provided subject matter for plays, films, and novels. Until now, there hasn’t been a history of the OE. Based on the oral accounts of several hundred travelers across all seven decades of the OE, this vibrant history shows how the OE has changed over time. Well illustrated with the ephemera of popular culture surrounding youth travel, Flying Kiwis traces the emergence of the OE, as well as the transport, media, and other networks that have supported it. Laced with humor and entertaining anecdotes, Flying Kiwis is an essential read for anyone who has arrived in a foreign city with only a few dollars and the address of a friend’s cousin.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverThorndon : Wellington and home : my Katherine Mansfield project / Kirsty Gunn.
“For London-based writer Kirsty Gunn, returning to the city of her birth to spend a winter in a tiny colonial cottage in Thorndon is an exciting opportunity to walk the very streets and hills that Katherine Mansfield left behind on her departure from New Zealand, but later longed to revisit. For Mansfield, Gunn writes, home was an instant ‘go-to’ zone for invention and narrative and characterisation and setting. For Gunn, home is now two places – Here and there the same place after all.” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverKatherine Mansfield’s New Zealand / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“A stunning, fully illustrated guide to the country and times that shaped our greatest short story writer — a feast of images and relevant excerpts from Mansfield’s stories and journals. Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington in 1888 and died in France in 1923, regarded as one of the finest short story writers of her time. Her country of birth, initially a source of frustration for her, in time came to influence her writing. From Kezia’s Karori journey in Prelude, to the landscape of The Woman at the Store, the images of colonial New Zealand are a distinctive and compelling part of Katherine Mansfield’s writing.” (abridged Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand stories / Katherine Mansfield ; selected by Vincent O’Sullivan.
“A collection of Mansfield’s short stories set in New Zealand, selected by Vincent O’Sullivan, and published in the order in which they were written. An introduction by the editor is followed by 29 stories and unfinished sketches written between 1905 (About Pat) and 1922 (The Canary).” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Katherine Mansfield notebooks / edited by Margaret Scott.
“The first of two volumes of the first publication of Mansfield’s private notebooks including diary entries, letters, unfinished works, poems, published stories in embryo form, recipes, and shopping lists. This volume covers Mansfield’s childhood and adolescence, and the cover features photographs of the 46 notebooks in the collection of The Alexander Turnbull Library.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKatherine Mansfield : a secret life / Claire Tomalin.
“British biographer Tomalin (Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft) here reinterprets the life and career of the great New Zealand-born short story writer and her relationships with family and friends. Writing from a perspective different from that of previous biographers Antony Alpers and Jeffrey Meyers, and allowed to examine letters not available to them, she is less sympathetic than they to John Middleton Murry and more appreciative of D. H. Lawrence’s importance to Mansfield.” (abridged Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe collected letters of Katherine Mansfield / edited by Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott.
“The second installment in the projected five-volume edition of the correspondence of one of the most significant twentieth-century short-story writers. During the months covered here, Mansfield was battling the lung disease that would eventually kill her; she was in and out of England, seeking warmer climates, and as a consequence was often separated from her husband, critic John Middleton Murray. Loneliness, ill health, her work, her moods these preoccupations come across in her letters with the same sort of rigorous insouciance that characterizes her incomparable short fiction. Even in an informal piece of correspondence, Mansfield could not fail to be incisive and eloquent. These letters are essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century literature.” (abridged Syndetics Summary)

I want to live in a lighthouse!: New Zealand Collection Spotlight

Growing up I always thought how wonderful it would be to live in a lighthouse. The images of a lighthouse recklessly sitting on a lonely rock, with giant waves crashing all around never failed to grab my attention. While at the beach I would be daydreaming of long climbs up spiral staircases to be rewarded with views of seascape stretching out forever. When I heard the call of seabirds I would be imagining opening the lighthouse door to my very own and very private front yard fishing spot where I could drop my line and minutes later be frying up fresh tamure for breakfast. These daydreams all came back to me when the beautiful new book Lights in the landscape: New Zealand Lighthouses arrived onto the New Zealand Collection desk this month. My pick is the Moeraki Totara and Kauri lighthouse but for location I’d have to say Kahurangi Point perfectly positioned at the river mouth. Which lighthouse would all you other wistfull lighthouse fanciers out there choose?

Syndetics book coverLights in the landscape : New Zealand lighthouses / photographs [and text] by Grant Sheehan.
“A spectacular photographic journey from New Zealand’s most northern lighthouse at Cape Reinga, to our most southern, in Foveaux Strait. The book shows not only the lighthouses themselves but also the landscape around them, capturing the wild beauty of the coastline, the often unpredictable weather and the wildlife that live in these, mostly isolated areas. Accompanying the photographs is text giving a short history, with technical details for lighthouses still operational.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverLady Luck : conversations with creative New Zealand women / by Mariana Collette & Lisette Prendergast ; photography by Susannah Tucker ; illustrations by Connie McDonald ; design by Ceire Hopley.
Lady Luck : conversations with creative New Zealand women is a book delving into the lives of creative women from variety of disciplines. What does it mean to be a creative women in New Zealand? Featuring Ladi6, Gala Darling, Hinemoana Baker and heaps more!” (Abridged from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverA New Zealand book of beasts : animals in our culture, history and everyday life / Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong, Deidre Brown.
“A New Zealand Book of Beasts is a groundbreaking examination of the interactions between humans and ‘nonhuman animals’ – both real and imagined – in New Zealand’s arts and literature. In examining through literature, art and culture the ways New Zealanders use and abuse, shape and are shaped by, glorify and co-opt, and describe and imagine animals, the authors tell us a great deal about our society and culture: how we understand our own identities and those of others; how we regard, inhabit and make use of the natural world; and how we think about what to buy, eat, wear, watch and read. This is an engaging, original and scholarly rigorous book of cultural criticism and a thoughtful addition to New Zealand literature.” (Abridged from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBringing back the birdsong : two dedicated conservationists work to restore the natural balance to their slice of coastal New Zealand / Wade and Jan Doak.
“Diver, undersea explorer and passionate conservationist Wade Doak has lived near the Tutukaka coast with wife Jan since 1968. Well known for his pioneering dives at the Poor Knights Islands off the coast of Whangarei, Wade has gradually shifted his focus over the years from the sea to the land. This book is a plea for the conservation and protection of New Zealand’s wildernesses, reiterating the challenge made by Sir Paul Callaghan: can we eradicate pests throughout our island nation? On a small scale, Wade and Jan Doak show that yes, it can be done.” (Abridged from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverEcosanctuaries : communities building a future for New Zealand’s threatened ecologies / Diane Campbell-Hunt ; with Colin Campbell-Hunt.
“Over the past ten years, many communities around New Zealand have launched ambitious projects to bring back the country’s native ecologies. Diane Campbell-Hunt was two years into a study of the long-term sustainability of these ventures when she was tragically killed in an accident in 2008. After Diane’s death, her husband Colin took up the challenge to write up her research, and Ecosanctuaries is the result.” (Abridged from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHe papakupu reo ture = A dictionary of Māori legal terms / general editors: Māmari Stephens, Mary Boyce.
“New Zealand’s legal history is bilingual. From the earliest missionary-led translations of the New Testament in the early nineteenth century, the Maori language has been used to communicate Western legal ideas. Nearly two centuries later there now exists a significant legal vocabulary in Maori that has much to teach scholars of law and language in New Zealand about the intersection between Maori and Pakeha legal thinking and expression. This dictionary captures something of that unique intersection, drawing its entries and usage examples from the Legal Maori Corpus, a digitised collection of thousands of pages of legal and law-related texts in the Maori language dating from between 1828 and 2009.” (Syndetics)

New Other Genre Fiction for February, this month New Zealand Fiction

The Bright Side of my Condition, the new historical novel from Charlotte Randall, based on a true story, comes highly recommended in this month’s new Contemporary Fiction that features New Zealand writers.

Syndetics book coverThe silent village / Merryn Corcoran.
“Against the majestic, visual backdrop of the French and Italian Riviera, three generations of strong passionate women fight for the survival and the future legacy of their families. Based on true events and woven with fiction, Merryn Corcoran tells an intimate and compelling story, which finally exposes a cruel and sad secret that has been carefully guarded for over fifty years.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe beckoning ice : a Wiki Coffin mystery / by Joan Druett.
“The fifth in the Wiki Coffin series finds the U.S. Exploring Expedition off Cape Horn, a grim outpost made still more threatening by the report of a corpse on a drifting iceberg, closely followed by a gruesome death on board. Was it suicide, or a particularly brutal murder? Wiki investigates, only to find himself fighting desperately for his own life.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverA can of sunshine / Christine Leunens.
“Nanct has gone from NY to NZ and lives a peaceful life with her Kiwi husband Mike, and their seven-year-old daughter Chloe, until a holiday escape to Fiji takes an unexpected turn. Over the next decade she will have to deal with both the fall-out and her idiosyncratic mother-in-law Edith.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverGlacier murder : a Philippa Barnes mystery / Trish McCormack.
“Glacier guide sleuth Philippa Barnes investigates a murder in New Zealand’s Westland National Park. What do you do when you need to escape from your life? Vivien Revell didn’t intend to die. She was conflicted and scared but she was also creative and clever. She should have been able to get away but years later Philippa discovers her mangled body in a crevasse on the Franz Josef Glacier. It looks like an accident but Vivien’s friend Julia is convinced she was murdered and persuades Philippa to investigate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe road from midnight / Wendyl Nissen.
“Magazine editor Jane Lyndhurst has it all: a gorgeous . younger celebrity husband, a glamorous, fulfilling career and a beautiful, healthy daughter. But on the overnight train from Paris to Venice her five-year-old daughter Charlotte goes missing. As her life crumbles about her Jane refuses to leave Venice, clinging to a seemingly irrational belief that her daughter is alive somewhere out there.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe bright side of my condition / Charlotte Randall.
“Based on the true story of four convicts who spent nearly a decade on the Snares Islands in the early nineteenth century” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBirthright / T.K. Roxborogh.
“Scotland, 1055, and the Kingdom is on the verge of collapse. There is rebellion in the south, a mysterious illness sweeps the land and some say that dark, supernatural powers are responsible. The young King Fleance and his wife Rachel await the birth of their first child, but the queen is very ill and rumours fly that the royal family is cursed. Fleance and Rachel must try and hold the realm together in the face of treachery and disease.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverFrom matron to martyr : one woman’s ultimate sacrifice for the Jews / Lynley Smith.
“After finding a tenuous family connection to the mysterious and captivating Jane Haining, Lynley Smith crafted Jane’s fictionalized diary, a biography of a faithful servant and Scottish missionary who died at the hands of Nazi butchers in Auschwitz Concentration Camp during World War II.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wind city / Summer Wigmore.
“Wellington. The wind city, New Zealand’s home of art and culture, but darker forces, forgotten forces, are starting to reappear. Aotearoa’s displaced iwi atua, the patupaiarehe, taniwha, and ponaturi of legend, have decided to make Wellington their home, and while some have come looking for love, others have arrived in search of blood. A war is coming, and few can stand in their way. Saint (lovably fearless, temporarily destitute, currently unable to find a shirt) may be our only hope. Tony, suddenly unemployed and potentially a taniwha herself, has little choice but to accept the role her bloodline dictates. And Hinewai, who fell with the rain? If she can’t find her one true love, there’s a good chance that none will live to see the morning” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhen water burns / Lani Wendt Young.
“With Nafanua and the Covenant Sisterhood dead, Leila and Daniel are finally able to love without fear of retribution. Or are they? As a malicious Telesa plots her revenge, a mysterious stranger arrives on the island. Fuelled by hate and running from a fiery past, he looks to Leila for answers and she must fight to contain the fury of fanua-afi while trying to protect all those she loves.” (Adapted from Synetics summary)

Fabulous Frocks: New Zealand History Recent Picks for January

At first glance the title of this post does not make much sense, as you scroll down through the book titles depicting pig hunting and hunting with helicopters, lost gold and lost heritage in forgotten landmarks. Keep scrolling and you will see the Hawkes Bay Maraekakaho sheep and cattle station and then on to unique motorbike collections, the first New Zealand craft beer, and finally Dolphins of Aotearoa. The last title is a book called Women of Substance, unfortunately we have no cover image but with the tagline “the Otago women who wore fabulous frocks,” it is my pick of the bunch and why it gets the mention in the title. It tells the story of 39 dresses featured in an exhibition at the Otago Settlers museum. Each frock dating from 1859 to the late 1880s is photgraphed and described in detail and with a short biography of its wearer gives an insight into the life and times of these women.

Syndetics book coverThe black singlet brigade : tales of adventure in the NZ bush / Tony Walsh
“Tony Walsh was first introduced to NZ’s bush clad ranges, to pig hunting and some life-defining experiences by Ned Tuite, whose usual attire was a black woollen bush singlet and a pair of khaki shorts suspended from a thin leather belt. Through Ned, Tony met a band of those iconic good keen men of an era now past, and began a journey of experiences he will never forget. There were the likes of ugly Eddie, who ate all the pigs’ ears; Jack, who thought the ghosts were after him after a midnight tumble down the hill; or Charlie, who didn’t know whether to mash his spuds before or after they were cooked. Men whose characters were as colourful and multifaceted as the forests and mountains they came from. The Black Singlet Brigade is a memoir written with eloquence and a dash of humour at every turn. It combines the untamed beauty of the wild with hilarious adventures and unique characters to build a picture of a life long gone, in the bush and back-country of New Zealand.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverInjun Joe : the legend of Smoking Joe Collins / Marion Day.
“This is the life story of Injun Joe, born Wellwyn Harris Collins in 1950. Joe became well known as an elite hunter-helicopter pilot, one of New Zealand’s most dangerous occupations of the time, in what is now known as The Last Great Adventure.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverLost Gold : the 100-year search for the gold reef of Northwest Nelson / Paul Bensemann.
“As a young man in the mid-1970s, Paul Bensemann was told an archetypal ‘lost gold’ story by his neighbour, a tobacco farmer in the Motueka Valley on the edge of what is now Kahurangi National Park. The story concerned an old prospector who had found a huge exposed gold reef, shining in the sun, deep in the mountain wilderness of Northwest Nelson. Just before he died, the prospector drew a map, and to Paul’s amazement his neighbour then produced the old, tatty, hand-drawn map, which had been handed down to him from his father. Lost Gold follows the many twists and turns of this 105-year-old story, and tries to explain why the reef has never been rediscovered. But in the end, whether or not the reef exists is only part of the story, and perhaps the bigger treasure here is the real tale of men in pursuit of their own El Dorado.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand’s lost heritage : the stories behind our forgotten landmarks / Richard Wolfe.
“Features 20 notable structures which, for various reasons, no longer exist. Most of the buildings have been demolished in the name of urban development, creating controversy. Each building is discussed and illustrated including the circumstances of its demise. The selection includes: Ruapekapeka Pa in Northland (burned down deliberately), Admiralty House in Auckland (demolished to make way for new roads) Wellington’s Parliament Buildings (accidental fire) Invercargill’s Seacliff Asylum (fire), TJ Edmonds landmark factory (bulldozed). What emerges is a fascinating social and historical narrative that sheds light on parts of New Zealand’s cultural history and reveals the truth of the old adage that history repeats.” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverA changing land : Sir Donald McLean’s Maraekakaho, 1857 to today / Alan Scarfe.
“The first two parts tell the story of the development of Hawke’s Bay Maraekakaho, one of the country’s largest and most iconic sheep and cattle stations which was established by Donald McLean and then further developed by his son Douglas McLean. The final part of A Changing Land traces how much of Maraekakaho has evolved into a varied patchwork of stock and cropping farms, vineyards, smallholdings, olive groves, alpaca farms and tree plantations over the last century.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverKiwi bike culture : unique motorbike collections / Steve Holmes.
“Delves into the love affair New Zealanders have with their motorbikes. From Harley-Davidsons to Vespas, and everything in between, this book is about the men and women whose lives revolve, in some way, around two-wheeled machinery.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverThe McCashin’s story and the Kiwi brewing revolution it sparked / John McCrystal & Simon Farrell-Green.
“The craft beer industry is one of New Zealand’s local business success stories, and it’s thriving. It all began with Terry McCashin establishing Mac’s Ale back in the 1980s. This book tells the story of the entrepreneurial McCashin family and the challenges they’ve faced over the years. They’re now rebuilding their brand with new beers such as Stoke, and a highly successful range of ciders. It also includes general craft beer information such as: What makes a craft beer; how beer gets made; a day in the life of McCashins; how to drink beer; what sort of glass to use; what different styles mean; the difference between an ale and a lager. Plus: Nelson: The craft beer capital. What has made Nelson such an extraordinary place for craft beer? The book includes short profiles on each of the breweries, pubs and cafes on the trail and the remarkable story of New Zealand hops and how they’ve supported Nelson and New Zealand’s craft beer revolution.” (Adapted from publisher information)

Syndetics book coverDolphins of Aotearoa : living with New Zealand dolphins / Raewyn Peart. “Dolphins of Aotearoa explores the ongoing relationship between humans and dolphins in New Zealand. Over this nation’s rich history, numerous people, both Maori and Pakeha, have sought out dolphins and significant numbers of dolphins have sought out people. This book tells the stories of many of these remarkable encounters. Importantly, Dolphins of Aotearoa also summarises the work of the dedicated scientists and researchers who over recent decades have learnt so much about our dolphins. Extensively researched and lavishly illustrated with historic and contemporary photographs, and incorporating a guide to all of the dolphins of New Zealand.” (Syndetics summary)

Women of substance : the Otago women who wore “fabulous frocks” / Seán G. Brosnahan.
“Fabulous Frocks was the title of an exhibition held at the Otago Settlers Museum in 2003. The exhibition presented 39 dresses from the Museum’s costume collection worn by nineteenth-century Otago women. A la mode in the mud: The colonial pursuit of fashion. The colonists’ dream: Genteel, respectable and upwardly mobile. In search of the women behind the dresses. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Other Genre Fiction For December: This month New Zealand writers

The selection for new Other Genre Fiction this month features work from New Zealand writers, including the popular Elizabeth Knox, with her new novel Wake. Highly recommended is the debut novel by Wellington author Greg Fowler, titled Jam Sandwiches.

Syndetics book coverThe coffee group / Mary-Jane Aggett & Annemarie Mirams.
“Follows the hilarious antics of five women who band together after the birth of their children. They each have their secrets.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverClose to the wind / Zana Bell.
“Georgiana da Silva is catapulted out of the Victorian drawing rooms and into a world of danger when she escapes her fiendish fiancé to engage in a mad dash across the world to save her brother before an unknown assassin can find him. Meanwhile, Captain Harry Trent is setting sail for New Zealand. With a mission to complete and the law on his heels, he’s got enough trouble of his own without further complications. Thrown together, unable to trust anyone, Georgiana and Harry are intent on fulfilling their missions despite the distractions of the other. But liberty comes at a price and the closer they get, the more they must question the true cost of being free.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverJam sandwiches / Greg Fowler.
“Abandoned at hospital as a new born when his mother discovered he had Down Syndrome; all but imprisoned in his bedroom by a resentful grandmother, Eddy Sullivan had every right to believe the world was a cruel and unforgiving place. But Eddy wasn’t made that way. Using his solitary connection with the real world, his bedroom windows, Eddy not only manages to communicate with those about him, he touches them in ways they could never have imagined. He more than changes lives, he literally saves them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe mijo tree / Janet Frame ; illustrated by Deidre Copeland.
“A never-before-published novella from New Zealand literary great, Janet Frame, The Mijo Tree is a darkly beautiful fable. It was written between 1956 and 1957 during Frame’s time in Ibiza and has remained in the Hocken Library archive since 1970.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverChocolate cake for breakfast / Danielle Hawkins.
“Helen McNeil is a vet in the small rural town of Broadview. While taking evasive action from a dull girl at a party one night she falls over, and fails to recognize, national sporting hero, Mark Tipene. For some mysterious reason Helen never really grasps, Mark finds this charming and appears the next day at the front counter of the vet clinic to ask her out. A whirlwind romance follows and everything is going swimmingly until one little hiccup changes everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHuia short stories. 10 : contemporary Māori fiction.
“Huia publishers have been fostering new Maori talent for twenty years and this is the collection of the latest up and coming story tellers who will in future put into words the thoughts and aspirations of our nation. With twenty-nine contributors, thirty-two short stories, five in Maori.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverWake / Elizabeth Knox.
“An invisible monster is what you can’t see coming. With an invisible monster you never know when you’re in danger and when you’re safe-if you retreat to your fortress you can’t be sure you haven’t one is an expert. But everyone has the same relationship to it. It could just as well be peering over your shoulder as mine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Salt of the Earth / by Robin McFarland.
“Salt of the Earth is a collection of twenty-five short stories set in the fictional town of Salt. Their themes and plots mingle so that the collection could be read as a novel. While Salt is fictional, it has a geographical setting to the west of a mountain pass in the high country of the South Island of New Zealand, an often bitterly cold and high-rainfall area, and one of the more extreme climates in the world.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStealing the trees / Peter Rankin.
“After his abusive father attacked his mother, Patrick Liam “Plod” O’Driscoll hit him just a little too hard, accidentally killing him. He ended up in prison for six years, and now that he’s out, he’s ready to begin a new life in a remote area of New Zealand’s North Island. But it seems Plod can’t escape his violent past, and his dream of a rural paradise is soon disrupted. His only friend, a recluse called Dunny, suffers a brutal attack and dies of his wounds. His last words are puzzling: they’re stealing the trees. Plod doesn’t know if the message was the result of delusion, or if Dunny was really trying to tell him something.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPowder blue tweed & rye / Faye Whittaker.
“When, several years after the heart-rending tragedy Kelly Templeton inadvertently finds herself at the scene of her parents’ murder, she totally understands why the one person who could have revealed the mystery surrounding the deaths chose not to tell police or family.”(Adapted from book cover)

December Gardening Picks

Amongst this month’s new garden book picks In the Garden was a standout. This beautifully illustrated book cleverly introduces some of our iconic native flora and fauna in a very accessible way.  In the practical gardening tips department  there is advice on how to rejig and refresh existing plant arrangements rather than starting from scratch which is also appealing.

Syndetics book coverIn the garden : explore & discover the New Zealand backyard / Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler.
In the Garden introduces young children to common creatures they can find in a New Zealand garden.  The book describes their relationship with other living things, and includes many interesting and intriguing facts. This book encourages children aged 4-8 to explore their gardens and discover the plants and animals that live there, with sections on bees, wasps and flies; butterflies and moths; snails and spiders; lizards, mammals and birds. Aimed at children from pre-schoolers and up, the book will also appeal to anyone who is curious about the wild side of New Zealand gardens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRefresh your garden design with color, texture & form / Rebecca Sweet.
“This book is packed with advice on how to wake up boring garden beds, ways to make a cramped garden feel bigger and also ideas on how to  bring a sense of intimacy to an expansive area. If you are needing ideas on how to downplay eyesores, or need to create a certain mood this you will find suggestions on which plants to keep and which to pull, and also how to  thoughtfully integrate hardscaping, structures and accessories.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeatrix Potter’s gardening life : the plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales / Marta McDowell.
“There aren’t many books more beloved than The Tale of Peter Rabbit and even fewer authors as iconic as Beatrix Potter.  Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District.  Richly illustrated and filled with quotations from her books, letters, and journals, it is essential reading for all who know and cherish Beatrix Potter’s classic tales.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy can’t my garden look like that? : proven, easy ways to make a beautiful garden of your own / John Shortland.
“John Shortland demonstrates just how easy it is to make adjustments to what is already there to make your garden stunning, whatever its size. Whether it’s an issue with design, plant selection or pruning – or even lack of time – simple solutions are described in clear language that will appeal both to the complete novice and those with more experience.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustralian coastal gardens / Myles Baldwin, photography by Sue Stubbs.
“The coastal gardens of Australia are as varied as the geography of this vast continent itself. Join Myles Baldwin as he travels around the country, from the gentle landscape of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and the sheer cliffs of Sydney’s Dover Heights to an old copper mining town in South Australia and beyond.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe essential Audrey Eagle : botanical art of New Zealand.
“Presents more than 150 paintings of our most loved native plants, from every major genus. The beautiful full-colour plates are accompanied by detailed notes, and a fresh introduction tells the story of Audrey Eagle and sets her place in the history of botanical illustration of New Zealand’s unique native flora” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe biodynamic orchard book / Ehrenfried Pfeiffer and Michael Maltas.
” This book brings together the best advice for cultivating fruit trees, berries and shrubs using biodynamic methods, with the aim of harvesting healthy fruit free of pesticides.This is an invaluable book with practical advice on all aspects of planning and maintaining a healthy orchard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGrow your own plants / [Alan Titchmarsh].
“By using a variety of simple propagation techniques you can learn how to grow your own plants for free. Alan Titchmarsh shows how to sow seed, take leaf and root cuttings, divide shrubs, and how to promote growth in your young plants. He covers all the essentials and provides inspirational ideas for filling your garden with flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables, all grown from scratch.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBackyard foraging : 65 familiar plants you didn’t know you could eat / Ellen Zachos.
“You don’t need to trek into the forest to forage edible plants. Ideal for first-time foragers, this book features 70 edible weeds, flowers, mushrooms, and ornamental plants typically found in urban or suburban neighborhoods. You’ll be amazed by how many of the plants you see each day are actually nutritious edibles. Full-color photographs make identification easy, and tips on where certain plants are likely to be found, how to avoid pollution and pesticides, and how to recognize the plants you should NEVER harvest make foraging as safe and simple as stepping into your own backyard.” (Syndetics summary)

“Unspeakable Secrets of Aro Valley”: The Newest New Zealand & Other Genre Fiction

This month’s Other Genre selection features New Zealand fiction, with a diverse offering of the most recently received titles. Included are several debut novels, and also many popular authors, such as Paul Cleave, Craig Cliff and Duncan Sarkies. Highly recommended is the latest work by the very accomplished Wellington writer Damien Wilkins, titled Max Gate, a delightful novel.

Syndetics book coverJoe Victim : a thriller / Paul Cleave.
“Joe Middleton, a.k.a. the Christchurch Carver, is in jail awaiting trial for a slew of murders he says he didn’t commit. His only way out is to convince the psychiatrists assessing him that he wasn’t sound of mind and can’t be blamed for what he did. Incredibly, that’s the least of his worries. That’s because there’s no shortage of people who like the idea of seeing Joe dead, some of whom are in prison with him. To get himself out of this mess, Joe has a desperate plan involving the disgraced ex-detective who put him away and a TV psychic who’s looking to get rich. It’s a long shot, but it had better work, because there’s talk of bringing back the death penalty, and the Christchurch Carver is just the poster boy to make it happen” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe mannequin makers / Craig Cliff.
“‘The skin was smooth and bright as porcelain, but looked as if it would give to the touch. What manner of wood had he used? What tools to exact such detail? What paints, tints or stains to flush her with life?’ So wonders the window dresser Colton Kemp when he sees the first mannequin of his new rival, a man the inhabitants of Marumaru simply call The Carpenter. Rocked by the sudden death of his wife and inspired by a travelling Vaudeville company, Kemp decides to raise his children to be living mannequins. What follows is a tale of art and deception, strength and folly, love and transgression, which ranges from small-town New Zealand to the graving docks of the River Clyde, an inhospitable rock in the Southern Ocean to Sydney’s northern beaches.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWahine : a novel / Kerry Harrison.
“In 2009, a mysterious figure in an Auckland rest home, where an old woman is dying, triggers memories of the Wahine storm of 1968 and its aftermath. After the disappearance of her father Snow in the storm, fifteen-year old, Jude Farley is deposited in a Taranaki boarding school so her mother Kit can escape the memories and get on with her life. But Jude is determined to discover through prayer, pure willpower and recovered memory, the truth behind her father’s disappearance. Helping her is a new friend, Huia, her headmistress, the formidable Miss Wallace, and the beauty of Mount Taranaki and its surroundings. Meanwhile, in Auckland Kitty Farley faces her own demons and embarks on her final journey.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnspeakable secrets of the Aro Valley / Danyl McLauchlan. “A sleepy bohemian neighbourhood, an ancient legend from the ancient past, a brilliant but troubled young writer, a voluptuous healer, a shadowy cult and its sinister leader, a trail of riddles; a hidden artifact, an explicit sex scene, than a struggle for ultimate power, and a final, unspeakable secret.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverAnticipation / Tanya Moir.
“Janine’s mother had an obsession: her ancestry. But what she uncovered was a colourful assortment of characters and their penchant for cruelty and abuse. When her mother dies, Janine continues the genealogical search. She buys a run-down house on a tiny island, where she sits and writes up the stories of her forebears, worrying whether the damaging genes have been passed on. Meanwhile the builder, Jake, is erecting a jetty for her, and it is his presence, along with Janine’s discovery about her grandfather, that might offer her hope of redemption.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverToa / Vaughan Rapatahana. “A rollicking road trip through the ’skinny country’ where a guerilla war is raging between indigenous rebels and a Pakeha government controlled by foreign interests. Redneck assassins, secret-agents, biker gangs and feminist groups all cross paths as Mahon, an ex-university philosophy lecturer, and his gun ’Molly’ blast their way across the country in a black Mark IV.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe demolition of the century / Duncan Sarkies.
“Tom Spotswood (a.k.a. William McGinty) is an insurance investigator who has lost his socks, his suitcase, his career, his ex-wife and, most importantly, his son, Frank. He is being followed by Robert Valentine, the mysterious owner of the horse with no sperm; Alastair Shook and his van of guards; and Spud, a demolition man who is using his wrecking ball to bring down the most beautiful movie theatre in town, the Century. To find his son Tom will have to come to terms with his past, a past he ran away from. But first he will have to find those socks.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe keeper of secrets / Julie Thomas.
“Following a priceless violin across five decades, this stunning debut novel tells the story of orchestra conductor Rafael Gomez who, inspired by the playing of an aspiring violin virtuoso who suddenly refuses to play another note, will do anything he can to change that.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe elusive language of ducks / Judith White. “As if it will make up for her loss, they bring Hannah a duckling to care for. They were well meaning, and it could have done the trick. However, Hannah’s focus on the duck progressively alienates those around her. As the duck takes over her world, past secrets are exposed. Will Hannah’s life unravel completely?” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverMax Gate : a novel / Damien Wilkins.
“It’s 1928 and the world’s most famous novelist, Thomas Hardy, is dying in the upstairs room of Max Gate, the house he built in his beloved Dorset. Downstairs, his high-powered literary friends are becoming locked in a bitter fight with local supporters. Who owns Hardy’s remains? Who knew the great man best? What are the secrets of Max Gate? Nellie Titterington, a maid at the house, narrates this earthy and emotionally charged novel about a world of ambition, duty, belonging and love.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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