Category: General

Sound & Vision: New Vinyl

Check out some of these newly catalogued Vinyl in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

National The National
Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Rolling Stones Blue & lonesome
Leonard Cohen You want it darker
Temple of the Dog Temple of the Dog
Kinks Everybody’s in show-biz

cover imagecover imagecover image
cover imagecover imagecover image

We have tablets available to borrow!

Customer tablet with booksIf your New Year’s resolution is to try out more digital services or borrow an eBook, read on!

Adult customers are now able to borrow iPad minis for 3 weeks from the Second Floor desk at the Central Library. These are for customers who would like to become more familiar with the library’s eResources such as free eBooks (Overdrive), newspapers (PressReader), magazines (Zinio for libraries), and other online resources.

Loans are $5, and community card discounts will apply.

Please make your booking, and a staff member will contact you to confirm your tablet pickup time. Tablets will be reset between each customer.

(Depending on the results of the trial, this service may be extended to other branches.)

tablet in front of bookshelf

The Best of the Best: must reads from this month’s fiction selection

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverThe wish child / Catherine Chidgey.
This wonderfully authentic novel is compelling reading, a great accomplishment.

Syndetics book coverHot dog taste test : a cook [crossed out] book / by Lisa Hanawalt.
A very funny exploration of the author’s anxieties and obsessions, making the mundane disturbing and the strange normal.

Syndetics book coverMagpie murders / Anthony Horowitz.
A brilliantly multilayered thriller with a very satisfying twist.

Syndetics book coverDeath and the seaside / Alison Moore.
A dark unsettling novel, at times funny, that you will want to read again.

Syndetics book coverThe gradual / Christopher Priest.
A challenging, but thought provoking novel from this much acclaimed skillful writer.

Staff Pick DVDs – Dec/Jan….

Some staff DVD picks to round out the year- an acclaimed HBO drama, Italian comedy, Japanese animation, German horror, and an in depth examination of the Cimemax oeuvre. We will be back early next year with the picks of our favourite DVDs of 2016.

Cover imageThe night of.
Critically acclaimed HBO drama starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed. New York student Naz (Ahmed) embarks on a wild night of drugs and sex with a mysterious woman after picking her up in his father’s cab. The next morning he wakes to find her stabbed to death in her bed. With no recollection of the previous night’s events, Naz flees the scene but is quickly brought in by the city’s police and identified as the main suspect for the murder. Scuffling precinct- crawling defence lawyer John Stone (Turturro) finds himself in the right place at the right time to take Naz’s case, and after initially thinking of it as a way to lift his own fortunes, he comes to believe in his clients innocence. Based on the UK series Criminal Justice, it had initially been a passion project of James Gandolfini, who was to play the part of lawyer Jack Stone before his untimely death. However Turturro steps up instead and delivers a knockout performance. Scripted by novelist Richard Price, it succeeds on every level. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageOur kind of traitor.
A civilian couple (Ewan McGregor & Naomie Harris) on vacation in Marrakesh to work on their marriage befriend a flamboyant and charismatic Russian named Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), who, unbeknownst to them, is a financial wizard/money launderer for the Russian mafia. When Dima confides to his new friends that he plans to escape from the mob, they agree to be the go-between for him with MI6. He promises the accounts and names of prominent British Politicians receiving bribes to open a new London based bank that will be a front for Russian Mob money, in exchange for asylum for himself and his family. But with MI6 officer Damien Lewis running an operation unsanctioned & opposed by his political bosses, how can they get Dima and his family out? While it perhaps lacks the gravitas of The Constant Gardener, or A Most Wanted Man, this is a solid adaptation of the John Le Carré novel from 2010. McGregor & Harris are good as the ordinary couple, Skarsgard chews scenery as the larger than life Dima, and Damien Lewis is excellent as the clinical upper-crust MI6 agent. Definitely worth a watch. Perhaps the main issue it has, is that it had the misfortune to be made/released around the same time as the excellent The Night Manager, which showed just how much Le Carre’s tales benefit from a longer running time and a more detailed approach. (Mark)

Cover imageMy Mother = Mia madre.
Margherita is a renowned film director but struggling to complete her latest film. She’s broken up with her partner and doesn’t have the slightest idea what her daughter has been up to. Her life is in tatters, and furthermore and most importantly, her beloved mother is dying. Italy’s leading film maker Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room, We have a Pope)’s new film is about facing mortality. The theme is naturally sombre but Moretti, who is one of the unique auteurs of today, shows his flair of comedy and ingenious skill to make it a tender, charming family drama. It’s a perfectly constructed film in which every detail is in the right order, and has a beautiful balance of melodrama and comedy. Before we know it, we share the story rather than watching it. After all, we are all someone’s children. (Shinji)

Cover imageGoodnight mommy.
Eerie German ‘horror’ film sees 9 year old twins Lukas & Elias living in an idyllic isolated summer cottage waiting for their Mother to return from having plastic surgery. When she returns her face is covered in bandages, and slowly little things emerge about her seem that seem off. Gradually their suspicions increase… Is that really their mother under the bandages? Some have criticised that the twist is telegraphed far too early & easy to guess. Maybe so, but the film isn’t really about the twist, it’s about the insular nature of the world of ‘childhood’ , the slow build of tension & atmosphere. More for those who are into the new ‘wave’ of non-slasher horror films as represented by films like It Follows, Babadook & Under The Skin. (Mark)

Cover imageGreen room.
Down-on-their-luck punk rockers ‘The Ain’t Rights’ agree to a last-minute gig in a backwoods Oregon roadhouse. The gig soon takes a sinister turn as the band members stumble upon a grisly murder scene and find themselves trapped in the Roadhouse, targeted by a ruthless club owner and his associates, determined to eliminate all witnesses. Effective indie thriller sees the talented Anton Yelchin in one of his final roles, and a nasty turn from Patrick Stewart as the leader of a bunch of Neo-Nazi’s. Makes the most of its claustrophobic setting. Definitely worth a watch. (Mark)

Cover imageThe tale of the Princess Kaguya.
Watching at home last week, I found ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ to be an absolute revelation. The film retells one of the earliest recorded Japanese folk-tales, a story of love and obligation which plays out between humans and the denizens of other realms. It blends the fantastic with the everyday, and handles both with deftness and great emotional charge. Coming from the famous Ghibli studios, its elegant design and thoughtful storytelling are a cut above even its famous stable-mates; the animation style is particularly striking, drawing on traditional modes of brush painting and contemporary digital techniques to produce some startlingly expressionistic and charged moments. The sound design is likewise exceptional, building an elegiac mood of dreamlike fantasy around the film’s stunning images. I have rarely been more moved by any film than by ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’, which manages to draw memorable moments of great lightness, sublimity and humour, and weighty human realities, into one perfectly formed whole. Due to the film’s length, I wouldn’t recommend it for the smallest people, but it’s excellent for the thoughtful older child who loves a strong story, as well as adults of all ages. (Alex)

Currently riding high with the success of the adaptation of Max Allan Collins’ gritty Quarry crime novels which is getting favourable comparisons to the first season of True Detective, the following reviews are a look at the guilty pleasure of some of Cinemax’s (or ‘Skinemax’ as it is better known) attempts at legitimate TV programming…
CoverimageHunted.[Series one].
Melissa George helms this Spy drama, created by X-Files alumni Frank Spotnitz, a joint production between the BBC & Cinemax. George plays Sam Hunter an operative for a private Intelligence/Security firm called ‘Byzantium’, who is ambushed after a rescue operation in Tangiers. Barely managing to survive she recuperates for a year in secret before returning to Byzantium, where her new assignment is to infiltrate the family of a wealthy British criminal who has leveraged his entire fortune into winning the bid on a Dam construction project in Upper Khyber. Paralleling this, Sam attempts to uncover which of her Byzantium colleagues was behind her assassination attempt, and why it seems to tie into a traumatic incident from her childhood. At only 8 episodes this slick spy show throws in a lot of plot, sometimes becoming overly convoluted, and most of the secondary characters don’t make much impact. However it’s entertaining enough if you’re looking for a post-Spooks spy fix with plenty of action. Dropped by the BBC after this series.

Cover imageStrike back. Cinemax season one.
Two things are clear from then first moments of Cinemax’s ‘Strike Back’ Season 1. The first is that it has incredibly high production values, and the second is that it has almost zero intellectual content. The Cinemax series is technically Season 2 of this show, as it was originally a BBC Sky 2010 UK mini-series entitled Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (Reviewed here) which starred Richard Armitage in the lead role as John Porter, a member of Section 20 a secretive branch of the British Defence Intelligence service. Supposedly envisioned as a continuing role, that idea came to an end when Armitage left to work on the Hobbit movies. However American channel Cinemax decided to continue the series, rebooting it as a joint US/UK production with two new leads, Philip Winchester (an American playing a Brit) & Sullivan Stapleton (an Australian playing an American – who would later turn up as the lead in Blindspot). When Porter is kidnapped & killed by mysterious Pakistani terrorist Latif, who is masterminding a upcoming terror plot, Michael Stonebridge (Winchester) is tasked to find dishonourably discharged Delta Force operative Damian Scott (Stapleton), who is the only other person who can positively identify Latif. Scott is soon recruited into Section 20, and the five stories (10 episodes) are essentially stand alone, but all connected by the unifying search to find Latif. Sort of 24 minus the moral questions & hand-wringing, and with more gun fights & gratuitous sex scenes. Strike back would go on for 3 more Cinemax seasons: Cinemax Season Two, Cinemax Season Three & Cinemax Season Four before wrapping up.

Cover imageBanshee. The complete first season.
Of the Cinemax series’ before Quarry ‘Banshee’ was the most critically & commercially successful. Created by writer Jonathan Tropper & produced by Alan Ball (creator/EP of True Blood) ‘Banshee’ is, if anything, more lurid and violent than ‘Strike Back’. It begins with a thief (Kiwi Antony Starr) just released from jail after serving fifteen years of hard time. He persuades his foul mouthed drag queen/computer expert friend (a hilarious Hoon Lee) to track down his ex-flame and partner-in-crime Anna (Ivana Milicevic), and the diamonds she got away with. Arriving in a crooked Pennsylvania town called Banshee he soon finds her living under an assumed name and married with 2 children, one of which could be his. Seeking solace in a bar on the outskirts of town he and bartender and ex-con Sugar (Frankie Faison) witness the brutal death of Banshee’s incoming sheriff Lucas Hood, whom no one in town knows. He then decides, while burying the body, that assuming Hood’s identify is this best way to disappear off the grid and stay near his ex-girlfriend [No spoilers, as this all takes place within the first 30 minutes]. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the show: in that it’s somewhat preposterous, but also addictive & incredibly intense. Each episodes is stuffed full of action, with brutally realistic fight scenes, gratuitous sex and intense character interactions. The arrival of ‘Hood’ causes decidedly mixed feelings in Milicevic’s Anna (now married to the local D.A) in that she still harbours feelings for him but is scared his presence will cause the mysterious Mr. Rabbit, the Ukrainian mob boss whose diamonds they stole, to find her. In turn Hood finds that the corrupt town, controlled by Amish overlord Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) is the perfect vehicle to dilute his barely contained anger, and proceeds to dispense some distinctly non-by-the-book Policing. Starr is excellent as Hood, his wounded countenance the perfect balance to the American Gothic hardboiled noir of the story. The hidden secrets, relationships, shifting alliances between the characters, Hoods Deputies, the local Indian Tribe, the Amish community & criminal factions all provide enough backdrop & character arcs for Banshee Season Two, Three & Four.
For more Cinemax see also The Knick Season 1 & Season 2, and the upcoming release of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast. (Mark)

New Graphic Novels for December

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self Help December -Cultivate your sense of adventure and independence and reclaim your creativity

These could be New Year resolutions with far reaching implications, subverting the current consensus on tidiness and connectivity. Food for thought during the festive season!

Syndetics book coverThe happiness purpose
“First published in 1977, this extraordinarily prescient book sets out de Bono’s method for achieving the ultimate 21st century goal: work-life balance. Defined in terms of life-space and self-space , de Bono invites the reader to look at their life and measure the gap between these spaces–the smaller the gap, the greater our chances at happiness; but if the life-space is vastly bigger than the self-space, our coping ability is compromised and anxiety is likely. For anyone concerned with happiness and life-fulfilment this book is essential reading, and is perhaps more resonant with readers now than ever before.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverI am right, you are wrong : from this to the new renaissance : from rock logic to water logic
“”The classic work about choice in business and in life. Most of our everyday decision-making tends to be confrontational. Whether in large meetings, one-to-one or even in our own heads, opposite view points are pitted against each other. In I Am Right – You Are Wrong, lateral-thinking guru Edward de Bono challenges this ‘rock logic’ of rigid categories and point-scoring arguments which is both destructive and exhausting. Instead he reveals how we can all be winners. Clearer perception is the key to constructive thinking and more open-minded creativity. In overturning conventional wisdom, Edward de Bono will help you to become a better thinker and decision maker. ” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe 2 AM principle : discover the science of adventure
“Adventures don’t happen by accident – just ask Jon Levy. Once a high school geek, he is now a world-traveling behavior scientist and the creator of the EPIC Model of Adventure, a breakthrough four-stage process for creating unforgettable experiences – from assembling the right team and the finer points of party crashing, to the science of being funny and ending the evening with style. The 2 AM principle combines outrageous triumphs, embarrassing failures, and life-changing lessons from Levy’s adventures with concrete science to show anyone how to life life more fully and adventurously.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverToo fast to think : how to reclaim your creativity in a hyper-connected work culture
“Our lives are getting faster and faster. We are too busy, too overloaded with information and too focused on analytical left-brain thinking processes to be creative. Too Fast to Think exposes how our current work practices, media culture and education systems are detrimental to innovation. The speed and noise of modern life is undermining the clarity and quiet that is essential to power individual thought. Our best ideas are often generated when we are free to think diffusely, in an uninterrupted environment, which is why moments of inspiration so often occur in places completely separate to our offices. Too Fast to Think teaches you how to retrain your brain into allowing creative ideas to emerge, before they are shut down by interruption, distraction or the self-doubt of your over-rational brain. Chris Lewis takes a holistic approach to explain the 8 crucial traits that are inherently linked to creation and innovation.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverMessy : how to be creative and resilient in a tidy-minded world
“Messiness adds benefits to our lives, so why do we resist the concept so? Harford uses research from neuroscience, psychology and social science to explain why disorder, confusion, and disarray are actually lies at the core of how we innovate, how we achieve, how we reach each other. He shows that the human inclination for tidiness can mask a deep and debilitating fragility that keep us from innovation.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverUnfollow : living life on your own terms
“We live in a world that floods us with expectations about everything – from what we should weigh to what we should wear to how often we should be having sex and how much money we should be making. As a consequence, we begin to feel that we need to tick all these boxes in order to have ‘the Perfect Life’. When we inevitably fall short, we feel anxious – we feel that we are failing and have the sense we are losing control. As a result, increasing numbers of young women are battling with issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem, bullying, perfectionism, toxic friendships and relationships, pressure to succeed or conform, and poor body image. At an age when life should be exciting, fun and relatively care-free, more and more young women are adrift and struggling. This book offers valuable insight and practical self-help to empower women to throw off the burden of expectation and start leading the lives they want to lead.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverFear 
“In Fear, the world’s greatest explorer delves into his own experiences to try and explain what fear is, how it happens and how he’s overcome it so successfully. He examines key moments from history where fear played an important part in the outcome of a great event. He shows us how the brain perceives fear, how that manifests itself in us, and how we can transform our perceptions. With an enthralling combination of story-telling, research and personal accounts of his own struggles to overcome fear, Sir Ranulph Fiennes sheds new light on one of humanity’s strongest emotions.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBetween two worlds : lessons from the other side
“Tyler Henry discovered his gift for communicating with the departed when he was just ten years old. After experiencing a sudden, accurate premonition of his grandmother’s death–what Tyler would later describe as his first experience of “knowingness”–life would never be the same. Now in his twenties, Tyler is a renowned, practicing medium, star of the smash hit E! reality show, Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry , and go-to clairvoyant of celebrities, VIP’s, and those simply looking for closure and healing. Despite struggling to accept his rare talent, Tyler grew to embrace it, and finally found the courage to share it. For the first time, Tyler pulls back the curtain on living life as a medium in his first memoir, in which he fearlessly opens up about discovering his gift as an adolescent, what it’s truly like to communicate with those who have passed, the power of symbolism in his readings, and the lessons we can learn from our departed loved ones. Tyler discusses how readings can impact our relationships with our closest friends and family once they’re gone.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe game of life and how to play it
“Written almost a century ago, The Game of Life is a classic in the field of personal development. Louise Hay, whose books have brought inspiration, hope, and healing to millions of people around the world, credits The Game of Life and the whole body of work by Florence Scovel Shinn for guiding her at a key turning point in her life. With their clarity, simplicity, and force, Florence’s teachings have profoundly shaped the fields of personal development and spiritual growth over the decades. In this transformational classic, Florence teaches the power of positive thought. She explains how our thoughts and words affect the experience we have in our daily lives, and uses concrete examples to show how we can use them to bring more of what we want into our lives, including abundance, love, and success.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverLife on Earth : understanding who we are, how we got here, and what may lie ahead
“Life on Earth takes the form of a journal in which Mike Dooley asks what’s on his mind during pivotal times in his life. As one of today’s most respected New Thought leaders and reality theorists, he offers a lofty platform for this wide-ranging dialogue that powerfully expands our perspectives on essential truths, taking on topics such as:- Why and how to see through the “illusions” of life on earth- How to make sense of natural disasters and manmade tragedies- Living deliberately, creating consciously, and finding your power- Wealth, relationships, “past lives,” and the evolution of consciousness- The ultimate reason for life on earth, and elsewhere (it’s shockingly simple). These are questions asked from the heart with a cautious, even suspicious, mind. Mike explores the subtletiesof the replies in depth and detail using his trademark wit and realism, in this intrepid explorer’s guide to the jungles of time and space.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverTools of titans : the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers 
“The latest groundbreaking tome from Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek .
From the author:
“For the last two years, I’ve interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing, etc.) to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. For most of my guests, it’s the first time they’ve agreed to a two-to-three-hour interview. This unusual depth has helped make The Tim Ferriss Show the first business/interview podcast to pass 100 million downloads. “This book contains the distilled tools, tactics, and ‘inside baseball’ you won’t find anywhere else. It also includes new tips from past guests, and life lessons from new ‘guests’ you haven’t met.”(Syndetics)

Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Metallica Hardwired… to self-destruct
Jean Michel Jarre Electronica 1 : the time machine
Alicia Keys Here
Margaret Glaspy Emotions and math
Frank Zappa The lumpy money project/object
Neil Young Peace trail
Miles Davis Freedom jazz dance
Keith Jarrett A multitude of angels
Bill Evans Some other time : the lost session from the Black Forest

cover imagecover imagecover image
cover imagecover imagecover image
cover imagecover imagecover image

The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverRinse, spin, repeat : a graphic memoir of loss and survival / Edith Fassnidge.
An amazing memoir, told in simple graphics about survival and loss.

Syndetics book coverThose who leave and those who stay / Elena Ferrante ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
Another Neapolitan about a novel by this elusive author, about power, beauty and human relationships.

Syndetics book coverThe tidal zone / Sarah Moss.
A novel parental love, overwhelming fear, illness, recovery and the challenges of marriage. This novel is quite unforgettable.

Syndetics book coverSleeping giants / Sylvain Neuvel.
A wonderful debut novel, a political thriller and part apocalyptic fiction, a gripping page turner.

Syndetics book coverHolding / Graham Norton.
A brilliant debut novel from this famous comedian. A black comedy cleverly plotted that is a joy to read.

Staff Pick CDs for the holiday season

Some new CD picks from our staff. Plenty of different genres, and lots of local music, to give you something new to explore over the holiday season. We will be back in January next year with a roundup of our favourite music from 2016.

Cover imageC87.
On the cover notes to this three disc set, NME’s Neil Taylor confesses that he always wished that NME had done a follow up to the wildly popular C86 cassette that helped spawn an entire future genre. This lovingly compiled collection represents that compilation that never was, assembling 74 tracks from as many bands, some of whom, such as the Shamen and PWEI, went on to greater things, but most of whom never made it past a couple of singles. In 1987, at the tail end of Post-punk, before Britpop, before Baggy and before the term ‘indie’ went mainstream, there was a fervent underground scene in the UK comprised of disaffected young musicians armed with guitars, drums and songs of love and naïve aspiration and this collection captures that time perfectly. (John)

Cover imageRadio gnome invisible trilogy.
Australian poet, muso and visionary, Daevid Allen, passed over to that great teapot in the sky last year leaving behind an intriguing and inspiring body of work. A key member of the original Soft Machine, he formed Gong with local French musicians after becoming stranded in France in 1967. They quickly gained a reputation for their highly original sound and commune based lifestyle. Daevid Allen was committed to keeping the playful aspects of the ‘60’s alive through the ever more serious ‘70’s, and this trilogy of Gong albums, originally released in 1970-71 and now available as a 4-disc box set, fully capture that playful spirit. Featuring the Pot Head Pixies who run a telepathic pirate radio station broadcasting from a flying teapot, it would be easy to dismiss these albums as whimsical novelty records, but these highly accomplished musicians, who mix up everything from free jazz, rock, pop, prog and electronics through cabaret and poetry to full blown psychedelic trance, create a bewildering and seductive sound that is quite unlike anything before or since. (John)

Cover imageGive up on your health.
Teeth & Tongue is the moniker of Melbourne based, Wellington raised songwriter and musician Jess Cornelius. Her family moved to Wellington when she was 11, and music was the one constant, her parent’s record collection played a huge role in fuelling her desire to make music. She entered a couple of local “battle of the bands” comps while at school, but it wasn’t until a move to Melbourne at 19 that she fully tapped into her musical potential. 2008 debut record Monobasic received critical acclaim from Australian media, and her 3rd album Grids led to three The Age Music Victoria Award nominations, for Best Band, Best Album and Best Female Artist. Latest album ‘Give up on your health’ is a swirl of Giorgio Moroder 80s synths, but underneath the fantastic production is a set of serious songs that focus on fracturing relationships, isolation, and past regrets. Electro-pop tends to veer towards cool beats, hip choruses and emotional detachment, but Cornelius and her backing band plunder the digital sounds to record the messy analogue organics of real human interaction. (Mark)

Cover imageThe last panthers.
UK electronic artist, Chris Clark, has become one of Warp Records leading electronic producers, alongside Aphex Twin, Autechre and Plaid. A fiercely creative artist, each of his seven albums since 2001 have displayed a clear musical development, while fine tuning his excellent production skills. His latest project is a fully ambient work, being the soundtrack to the moody UK crime mini-series – The Last Panthers. The sound designs he creates, using piano, strings and electronics are suitably sparse and foreboding, yet possess a strange beauty, complementing the film perfectly. For this CD Clark teased out and reworked the incidental soundtrack music into complete tracks for a stand-alone album and has created an excellent immersive ambient experience. (John)

Cover imageLevitate.
Young UK producer Matt Cutler, aka Lone, is representative of a new generation of electronic producers who have grown up on dance music and ‘Levitate’ is his seventh album in as many years. His last two releases, 2014’s Reality Testing and 2012’s Galaxy Garden received high critical praise and here he shifts focus slightly, paying tribute to the early ‘90’s rave scene, exploring a breaks based sound to drive his subtle and intelligent take on dance. His distinctive ambient flourishes and synth pads and patches are still evident alongside classic ‘90’s snare rolls which combine to create 33 mins of beautifully produced uplifting electronica. (John)

Cover imageGolden sings that have been sung.
He has only two albums under his belt but Ryley Walker has already gained quite a reputation as a singer and a guitarist. His jazzy folk sound, based around his acoustic guitar- playing and characteristic voice, reminds us of Tim Buckley and John Martyn, and with this third album, produced by former Wilco’s Leroy Bach, he made great stride. Walker was born in Illinois but began his career in Chicago playing everything from punk to experimental music, and takes the sonic milieu of Chicago’s post rock band, such as Gastr Del Sol, Isotope 217 and Tortoise, into his music, which makes his music very unique. Showing tremendous confidence and originality, this could be his first masterpiece. (Shinji)

Cover imageSummer 08.
The fifth Metronomy album finds the project reverting back to the solo venture of UK synth obsessive Joe Mount’s debut album. Using old skool drum machines, post acid house synths and irresistibly funky bass lines to accompany his ironic hipster lyrics, Mount creates a cool seductive electro funk pop that sits comfortably alongside other left of centre UK funksters like Hot Chip and Fujiya and Miyagi. Sounding at times like a white, post millennial version of Prince, the earnestness of the songs, the quality of the production and the sheer confidence of delivery serve to frame the retro influences as homage to rather than imitation of music that recaptures the fun of dancing. (John)

Cover imageHeads up.
The third album from the LA based female quartet finds them further exploring their downtempo art-rock, influenced this time around, in the bands own words, by artists like Q-Tip, Erykah Badu, OutKast, and Kendrick Lamar. The result is moody, atmospheric, densely layered post rock that features their distinctive sound loosely presented within the bruised modern pop idiom of bands like the XX. With surprising grooves lurking beneath the reverb drenched harmonies and distorted guitars and electronics, the sound of Warpaint is tight and confident as they successfully incorporate several styles into an original sound that rewards deeper listening. (John)

Cover imageHumid nights.
Great new album from Eva Prowse, that forsakes the violin country/folk of her first album I can’t Keep Secrets and jumps right into the electro-pop world of bubbly midi’s, bouncy pop tunes, and fond musical memories of growing up in the 80s. She first explored this territory in 2013 with Henry Marks as the duo ‘H & Eva’ and the EP Crazy Eyes but this time it’s her voice & songs that are at the forefront, and that EP now sounds like a tentative stab in a new direction that is now fully formed with ‘Humid Nights’. Sits comfortably alongside any of the many international artist’s working within this retro synthy sound. Definitely one of the best ‘Wellington Releases of the year. (Mark)

Cover imageEmerson, Lake & Palmer.
This double disc version of the first album from the ‘supergroup’ formed in 1970 that unfairly gets blamed for all the excesses of prog rock , features a remastered original and an ‘alternate’ mix by Steven Wilson. With Keith Emerson’s recent death it only seems fair that his works become fairly appraised and this stands up well. The sounds he created with the moog synthesiser were state of the art at the time and still impress, his classically trained piano playing is beautiful and, backed by the very sharp rhythm section of Greg Lake on bass and vocals and Carl Palmer on drums, this is a great snapshot of an exciting time in music when musicians were actively tearing down genre barriers. (John)

Cover imageCheetah EP.
Richard James, aka Aphex Twin, continues his return after a ten year hiatus with a 7 track ep, made with, and named after, one of his favourite instruments – the Cheetah MS800 Synthesiser, that has been described as “one of the most unfathomable instruments ever made.”. Following the experimental Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 EP and the frenetic Orphaned Deejay Selek (2006-2008) EP , yet another facet of this prolific electronic producer is featured here – the tunes being relatively slow paced, the beats simple and the sounds surprisingly warm and user friendly. Throughout these instrumental pieces his exploration into rich timbres and woozy frequencies creates pretty much perfect electronic listening music. (John)

Cover imageEast west moon / Jonathan Crayford, Ben Street, Dan Weiss.
The previous album Dark Light (2014) was a fantastic achievement by the jazz pianist Jonathan Crayford who was born and raised in Wellington. Teaming up once again with New York’s top-notch rhythm section; Ben Street (Bass) and Dan Weiss (drums), he presents another stellar album. Like its predecessor, all music is composed by Crayford, and the trio seems to dig deeper and evolve larger artistically. It’s a melancholic, akin to ECM, ambient jazz, and the shadow of the likes of Bill Evans and Bobo Stenson is evident, but Crayford seems to just stay true to himself. There is no showing off here. He simply crafts his music from his heart and this dark lyricism is something rare. Exquisite. (Shinji)

Cover imageVarmints.
The looped brass fanfare that begins this CD is a fitting introduction to this strikingly original work by Scottish composer Anna Meredith which finds her entering the world of pop and electronica after 20 years in the classical world. Using acoustic instruments, electronics, guitars, drums and vocals she moves through a range of styles from indie pop to gorgeous strings based instrumentals to sweet electro pop to wildly deranged sequencer driven grooves. Her classical commissions have included making music inspired by MRI scanners and performing body percussion pieces at the BBC Proms and ‘Varmints’, her first attempt at contemporary popular music is, while like nothing you have ever heard before, quite accessible and oddly satisfying. (John)

Cover imageLa araña es la vida.
Those lucky enough to have seen this band play in Wellington recently will need no convincing to check out the latest release from Kid Congo Powers, who is, arguably, the coolest dude on the planet. Veteran guitarist of legendary bands, The Cramps, The Gun Club and The Bad Seeds, Kid Congo now tours the world keeping the lo-fi, trashy surf guitar, garage rock, Chicano punk flag flying. On the fifth album with his latest band, The Pink Monkeybirds, they have really hit their stride, incorporating electronics alongside the reverb drenched guitars and primal drums to deliver a wildly varied raucous, joyous noise that has to be played loud to be really appreciated. (John)

Cover imageThe 11th sky.
Just when you think Electric Wire Hustle can’t get any better they (or rather Mara TK, the last man left of the original three piece band) up their game yet again. His fantastic voice sits comfortably in that late period Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware pocket, but the sound of ‘The 11th Sky’ is harder and fuller. Moving away from the patented psychedelic Neo-soul of the last 2 albums they move into a sonic realm of darker, heavier, beats that envelop Mara TK’s analogies to Maori mythology, and metaphysical concerns on the pressures of money, love and expectations that weigh down peoples journey towards a better place within themselves. A real sense of searching for meaning pervades the album, and the benefits of being a one man band include the freedom to add whatever you want into the final mix, such as a harpist on ‘Golden Ladder’, lovely strings on ‘I Light A Candle’, and vocalist Deva Mahal (the sister of Ahmed Mahal aka. Imon Star of Olmecha Supreme, who is now based in New York) on ‘March’. (Mark)

Cover imageXiu Xiu plays the music of Twin peaks.
In 2015 Californian experimental noise group Xiu Xiu were invited by The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art to perform a series of Twin Peaks soundtrack covers for a David Lynch exhibition. The marriage of Xiu Xiu’s experimental sound with original composer Angelo Badalamenti’s unsettlingly surreal noir soundtrack works perfectly, bringing an uber contemporary slant to a now classic suite of music. The arrangements incorporate the feel of the originals and actually manage to enhance them using ambient industrial noise, xylophone, guitar pulses, synths and keyboards to not merely create a darkly surreal and engaging homage, but, paradoxically, also a strikingly original work. (John)

Cover imageI, Gemini.
There’s no need for UK duo ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’ to put on sweet little girl vocals because these two 17 year olds really are not much more than sweet little girls! Playing all instruments, including saxophone, glockenspiel, synthesisers, bass, ukelele and keyboards, they weave sweet harmonies around their dark, fragmented hallucinatory songs that can be sickeningly sweet and disarmingly dissonant at the same time. Sounding a bit like Bjork’s gothic love children, they have been described as ‘somewhere in between the child-like innocence of Hansel and Gretel and the spectral qualities of the twins from The Shining’ but despite their youth these teenagers have created a unique take on electro pop that is unusual and occasionally bewildering – they even rap on one track. An interview and video can be found here. (John)

Cover imageFrom patterns to details.
The second album from Wellington electronic producer Oliver Peryman, aka Fis, has been released worldwide on Bristol label, Subtext. Inspired by the organic patterns that occur in nature, Peryman explores a similar textural soundworld to artists such as Tim Hecker and Ben Frost, who, although not using beats, create dramatic and, at times, unsettling music that cannot be described as ambient, demanding the listener’s full attention. With little room for melody and at times a difficult listen that could be compared to sharing the room with a wild animal, this is nevertheless an impressive work of powerful and visceral electronic sound production. (John)

Cover imageSoft Hair.
‘Soft Hair’ is the self-titled collaboration (long in the making apparently) of Connan Mockasin and Sam Dust (La Priest, Late of the Pier), with the album cover making a pretty good motif for the music within. If Prince’s early 80s backing band crashed on a deserted island populated by decadent, slinky, long haired natives who liked to get down & dirty, this is the kind of music that would probably result. Proto-Indian rhythms, cheesy synths, burbling electronic noodling, pervy lyrics. Is it all a knowing pastiche? A sly nod at the homo-erotica of tough guy rock bands? It’s hard to tell if they’re serious about any of it, from the sometimes deliberately creepy lyrics to the 80s PC game music, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hell of a lot of fun to be had in listening to all the weirdness. Hailed as part of a wave of New-Bromantic bands. (Mark)


  • Archives

  • Categories