A few recommendations for lovers of Suicide Squad

The Victories book cover

In this post, which is part of our series of comic recommended readings, we are going to explore some graphic works that have some sort of connection visually, thematically or character based to one of the comic world’s most popular and enduring creations, Suicide Squad, so if you already like Suicide Squad why not try the following:

Syndetics book coverSuicide Squad : the official movie novelization / based on the Warner Bros. Pictures film written by David Ayer ; based on characters from DC comics ; novelization by Marv Wolfman.
“Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous imprisoned super criminals, provide them the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them to defeat an enigmatic, unstoppable enemy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecret Six. Volume 1, Villains united / Gail Simone, writer ; Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks, Brad Walker, pencillers ; Wade Von Grawbadger [and 4 others], inkers.
“Collecting the series that led into INFINITE CRISIS! Six of justice’s deadliest enemies band together to start a revolution. Together, they want to take a stand to stop the super-heroic community from tampering with their minds and to prove how deadly they can be! But not everyone agrees to this agenda. Six rogues are recruited by the enigmatic Mockingbird, charged with opposing the Society and given assignments to thwart their rivals and even help their enemies. Who is Mockingbird? Could it be one of the six?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Paybacks. Volume 1 / script by Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal ; art by Geoff Shaw.
“Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements, robotic suits or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like IOUs. Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes like Night Knight and Miss Adventure, here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs. But now the Paybacks have discovered a fate far worse than debt: a murderer is on the loose. and it just may be one of their own.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Victories [1] : touched / story and art, Michael Avon Oeming.
“Not long from now, all that will stand between you and evil are THE VICTORIES: heroes sworn to protect us from crime, corruption, and the weird designer drug known as Float. As one member hits the streets looking for blood, he discovers himself touched by a painful past through the powers of a psychic. Will this trauma cause him to self-destruct or to rejoin the good fight? Collects the five-issue miniseries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJustice League vs. Suicide Squad / Joshua Williamson, Tim Seeley, Rob Williams, Si Spurrier, writers ; Jason Fabok, Tony S. Daniel, Jesus Merino, Fernando Pasarin [and fifteen others], artists.
“This was a day that Amanda Waller–the government liaison in charge of Task Force X–always knew would come: the Justice League discovers the existence of the Suicide Squad! The government-sponsored black-ops team of super-villains with bombs implanted in their brains is obviously a dealbreaker for the World’s Greatest Superheroes. But you can bet the Wall and her gang won’t go down without the fight to end all fights!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A new batch of Staff Pick DVDs

The Good Place cover

Peruse the latest selections from library staff, from superheroes to sci-fi to coming of age drama, and crime told backwards.

The shape of water.
The Shape of Water takes its initial inspiration from the 1954 B movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, but this is definitely not a cash in sequel to an old monster movie. Instead it is a cleverly constructed complex film which straddles effortlessly multiple genres including romance, cold war thriller, body horror and a straight down the line cult Guillermo Del Toro movie. It is obviously a project the director had a great deal of affection for and it looks great in a shabby downbeat Americana way, and Sally Hawkins in the lead puts in a storming performance. Arguably Guillermo Del Toro’s best movie so far and since he directed Pan’s Labyrinth that is praise of the highest order. (Neil J)

Justice League.
Move over Avengers! There’s a new team of superheroes in town. The world of DC comics and superheroes collides when a great a great evil in the form of Stepphenwolf wants to unleash hell on earth and the heroes, (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg), must come together – and put aside their differences to save the day. Overall a different but satisfying take on all the DC superheroes, with a well balanced mix of action, adventure, comedy and serious moments. The Flash, in particular is hilarious with his one liners, ladies will drool and fall in love with Aquaman and Superman, especially when Aquaman shows his “sensitive side” and as always the heroes saving the day “superhero” style from start to finish. (Katie)

Rellik.
‘Rellik’ (‘killer’) is a story told backwards for the first 5 episodes, with the final episode reverting to normal forward progression starting from where the first episode left off. This, understandably, makes for a confusing watch initially as it needs a fair bit of concentration, and thus the show’s reviews were somewhat polarized. It’s hard to say in the end if the backwards narrative is just a stylistic gimmick or if it really adds anything to the story which is a shame, as it is a quite good slice of gritty UK crime. The 2 leads (Jodi Balfour and Richard Dormer) are both excellent, with Dormer as Met detective, Gabriel Markham at the centre of an obsessive hunt for a serial killer who left a mark on him both physically and mentally. Worth persevering with. (Mark)

Downsizing.
Could this be a solution to the problem of overpopulation and climate change? American auteur Alexander Payne’s (Nebraska, The Descendants) new film is a futuristic fable where people can choose to be shrunk to one-fourteenth of their size and live in a miniature ‘self-sustainable’ heavenly community called ‘Leisureland’. Featuring Matt Damon as an ordinary Omaha resident who takes this experimental opportunity, it offers a unique mixture of sci-fi comedy, political satire, and a cross-cultural love story. Apparently Payne had been thinking about this project for quite some time. Although not everything worked out perfectly, it’s certainly intriguing. (Shinji)

The disaster artist.
The Disaster Artist is much like Tim Burton’s Ed Wood insofar as it is a clever, well made, superbly acted and thoroughly entertaining film about one of the worst films ever made – Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has been dubbed the Citizen Kane of bad movies and since its release in 2003 has gained a fanatical cult following who like to dress up, shout out lines from the film and have a liking for throwing plastic cutlery. The original film was supposedly meant as a serious movie but the outright strange storytelling and truly bizarre acting have lead it to being regarded retrospectively by the director as a black comedy. The Disaster Artist is about the making of the film and the dreams, friendships and dramas surrounding its creation. The Disaster Artist is fine movie about a terrible movie. Just don’t shout SPOON. (Neil J)

Doctor Doctor. Series 2.
Hugh Knight, (Rodger Corser), the heart surgeon/heartthrob turned country doctor you love to either hate or… just plain love is back! And as usual breaking more hearts than fixing them. But things take a dramatic turn for Hugh when his teenage son/foster brother decides to marry his high school sweetheart; Hugh having to donate a kidney to save his dad; his American and troubled ex-wife turning up, having a near death experience to make him realise what/who is important in his life and the icing on the cake – he is in love with his boss, Penny and has various opportunities to finally make his move! The question is will they finally get together or will Hugh stuff it up with his playboy antics? Overall this series is in one word… FANTASTIC! An entertaining TV series and Aussie drama from start to finish! I especially loved the Mustang car race scene with ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ by Jet playing in the background. Look forward to the third season. (Katie)

Hard sun. [Season 1].
Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess) and Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) are detectives who, while investigating a murder in the inner city, stumble upon proof that the world faces certain destruction – in five years. They find themselves pursued by MI5, trying to silence them in order to keep secret the truth, and they must use every bit of their ingenuity to protect themselves and those they love. The relationship of the two leads plays against type, as they both try to secure the upper hand with each other and with ruthless Security Services Officer Nikki Amuka-Bird, which is a positive as the latest offering from the pen of Neil Cross (Luther) seems to falter a bit in the telling, as if Cross wasn’t really sure how he wanted the story to play out. Intriguing and gripping in places, clichéd and muddled in others. Still worth a look, as Cross apparently has ideas for further seasons. (Mark)

Twin Peaks: a limited event series.
After 25 years, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s ground-breaking series is back. Most of the beloved characters are also back but this time, a lot of events unfold outside Twin Peaks while time is back and forth. With numerous additional characters, some of whom are played by prominent names including Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Amanda Seyfried and Harry Dean Stanton, it’s a much larger scaled extraordinary journey which offers everything Lynch has made for cinema. At times, it’s almost impossible to comprehend and mysteries bring more mysteries but he never forgets humour. This marathon epic can be challenging and demanding to consume, but will be remembered as a landmark work by the one-and-only filmmaker. (Shinji)

The Good Place. The complete first season.
From producer/screenwriter Michael Schur (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) The Good Place addresses the age old question of what actually happens when you die? For Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) she finds the afterlife is a shiny happy friendly neighbourhood of frozen yogurt shops, amazingly accomplished people and pre-determined soulmates, all run by the super nice immortal architect Michael (Ted Danson). However the only problem is that she is the wrong Eleanor Shellstrop, and is in fact a very bad person, who scammed old people for a living and generally lived a completely reprehensible life. As she struggles to hide her true self from all around her and cope with her ‘soulmate’, university ethics professor Chidi, her true nature starts to affect the cosmic balance at play… To say any more would give away some of the plotlines of this hugely enjoyable series. Great performances from Bell and Danson. A great antidote to the Winter blues. Recommended. (Mark)

The greatest showman.
This movie just filled me with a sense of the wonders of humanity, and the songs! Well a musical isn’t a musical without good songs. If you are looking for some new additions to your sing-a-long playlist then this is the movie for you! I recommend a double check out, both the soundtrack and the movie. You won’t be sorry! (Jess)

Electric dreams. Season one.
Anthology collection of 10 stand-alone episodes based on Philip K. Dick’s work, written by British and American writers and set in both the UK & the US. This bunch of Dick’s short stories were written in the early to mid 1950’s, so all have undergone some degree of tinkering – from large to small – to reimagine their themes within a modern day context. Executive produced by Ronald D. Moore and Bryan Cranston there is certainly a high degree or production values up on the screen, as well as some quality acting (including Cranston himself), the problem perhaps lies in the fact that so many of Dick’s short stories have already been adapted into films (Screamers, Paycheck, Imposter, Minority Report, Next, The Adjustment Bureau, Total Recall) that those that are left are more straightforward in nature, lacking the same level of layers or ideas. Having said that there are some nice adaptations here, even the one that are more heavily reworked like Safe & Sound or Real Life work in themes common to Dick’s oeuvre. Definitely worth a watch if you are a fan of the author, and also if you fancy something along the lines of Black Mirror but not as grim. (Mark)

Lady Bird.
Known as a comedic actress (Frances Ha, Maggie’s Plan etc.), Greta Gerwig also seems to be a natural director. Her debut feature Lady Bird is a likable little gem. Set in her hometown, Sacramento, California in 2002, it follows 17-year-old Christine ‘Lady Bird’ (brilliant performance by the Irish star Saoirse Ronan) who is eager for an escape to a big city on the East Coast after graduating from a Catholic school, against her mother’s wishes. It may sound like another often-told adolescent drama but this is something special thanks to Gerwig’s smart screenplay and unique aesthetic. With the mother-daughter relationship as its core, she crafts a beautifully layered story. It’s sweet, funny and affecting. (Shinji)

Top picks from new Science Fiction arrivals

A Big Ship... book cover

The wild and wonderful world of science fiction writing is well represented in this month’s latest acquisitions. From Dan Abnett’s The Founding, to Mercedes Lackey’s A Scandal in Battersea there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this month’s latest batch of books. Take yourself into this wondrous cosmic universe of words!

Syndetics book coverThe founding / Dan Abnett.
“In the Chaos-infested Sabbat System, the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum – more commonly known as the Imperial Guard – stand shoulder to shoulder as they counter an invasion by heretical forces. Amongst the defenders of the Imperium are the troops of the Tanith First-and-Only, a displaced regiment forced to flee their home planet before it succumbed to the unrelenting assault of Chaos. Nicknamed ‘the Ghosts’, their specialist scouting role sees them thrown into the thickest of the fighting. Led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments and the lethal firepower of the enemy if they are to have any hope of achieving victory over the forces of Chaos.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of hidden things / Francesco Dimitri.
“Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up. A visit to his house increases the friends’ worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can’t go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss’s daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Quanderhorn xperimentations / Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall.
“England, 1952. A time of peace, regeneration and hope. A Golden Age. Unfortunately, it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn: a brilliant, maverick scientific genius with absolutely no moral compass. Assisted by a rag-tag crew – his part-insect “son” (reputedly ‘a major breakthrough in Artificial Stupidity’), a recovering amnesiac, a brilliant scientist with a half-clockwork brain, and a captured Martian hostage – he’ll save the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA scandal in Battersea / Mercedes Lackey.
“In this Victorian historical fantasy novel, a member of the famed Bloomsbury writers’ group attempts to conjure a doppelganger-an Earth Elemental Golem-to do his writing for him while he enjoys the London social scene. When a shadow image of himself knocks on his door some nights after his invocation, he lets it into the house thinking that his ritual has been a success, not realizing that the Golem is actually inhabited by the ghost of a murderous fiend-part Jack the Ripper and part Mr. Hyde.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOutcasts of order / L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
“Beltur, an Order mage, discovers he possesses frightening powers not seen for hundreds of years. With his new abilities, he survives the war in Elparta and saves the lives of all. However, victory comes with a price. His fellow mages now see him as a threat to be destroyed, and the local merchants want to exploit his power.
There’s only one way he can remain free and survive–he’s going to have to run.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSummerland / Hannu Rajaniemi.
“How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?
In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. But Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.
When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfterwar / Lilith Saintcrow.
“America has been devastated by a second civil war. The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins. One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA big ship at the edge of the universe / Alex White.
Firefly meets The Fast and the Furious Furious in this science fiction adventure series that follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to saving the universe.
A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Vinyl in our unique collection

The Now Now album cover

From the new album by the world famous virtual band Gorillaz to the newly remastered Guns N’ Roses megahit album Appetite for Destruction – new vinyl in our unique collection, once again, features exciting stuff. For Aotearoa music fans, check out the fantastic new album by Jonathan Bree.

Gorillaz – The now now
The Now Now is 11 all-new songs from the World’s Most Successful Virtual Act. The album sessions for The Now Now saw the band largely eschewing guest stars, taking it back to the core creative crew: blue-haired, sweet-natured dreamer 2D on vocals; whip-smart Japanese badass Noodle on guitar; not forgetting Brooklyn-born philosopher and the meat–behind-the-beat Russel Hobbs on drums. And with Murdoc Niccals temporarily indisposed, bass duties on the new album have been taken up by erstwhile Gangreen Gang member Ace.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

DJ Koze – Knock knock
“Like all DJ Koze records, Knock Knock exists outside of trend and influence. In fact, it’s a step further beyond: absolutely every single thing here, from grooves to voices to handclaps, is otherworldly and unique. Which is not to say it is utterly alien abstraction, mind. There is still disco, there is still soul, there is still techno, there is still hip hop, there is still psychedelia – there are even wafts of easy listening, lost crackly thriftstore record memories and… sort of… indie rock – but though it may sound familiar, it never does what your brain thinks it’s going to do.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Tom Waits – Bastards
“The collection of 56 songs went far beyond a simple career retrospective. It dipped back as far as 1984 with the bulk of it’s songs hailing from the mid-nineties onward. Over 2/3 of the material had never been heard when originally released in 2006 and had 30 newly recorded songs. Orphans also featured a number of songs finding a home on a Waits’ album for the first time.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Jonathan Bree – Sleepwalking
“Jonathan Bree began releasing solo records in 2013, in the decade prior to that he was one half of indie duo The Brunettes. His solo output is a departure from the music he was making before; it has taken a darker, cinematic turn. Like his previous albums Sleepwalking has a heavy orchestrated element featuring real strings, celeste and soprano vocals. His arrangements draw distinct influence from orchestral pop of a bygone era (think Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra), but many of the songs dip in and out of the avant-garde in a way that is also distinctly modern.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
“The long-awaited follow up to Washington’s debut The Epic, Heaven & Earth is comprised of two halves, which find Washington confronting quotidian realities with cosmic themes. A further investigation of Washington’s world-building ideas, the new album explores his reckoning with current global chaos and his vision for the future. Thundercat, Terrace Martin, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Cameron Graves, Brandon Coleman, Miles Mosley, Patrice Quinn, Tony Austin and many more contribute to the album.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for destruction
“First ever album remaster from original analog tapes. Original album expanded to 2-LPs for maximum audiophile playback. Vinyl cut from 192kHz 24-bit remastered high-resolution audio. Limited edition foil art slipcase. Side 4 extra bonus: hologroove hologram of GNR Logo.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Changes to Compact Disc music and audiobook collections

Over the next month, we’re making changes to our Adult CD, Adult Audiobook and Young Adult CD collections. These changes are reflective of changing listening habits for the Compact Disc format, and consistent drops in usage for these collections over recent years. The changes are:

  • Adult CDs – we are removing Adult CDs from all branch libraries, and consolidating them into the CD collection at Central library.
  • Adult Audiobooks – we are removing Adult Audiobooks from branch libraries and consolidating them at Central library. In addition, we are removing the $3.00 rental fee, starting from the 31st of August.
  • Young Adult CDs – all CDs in the Young Adult collections will be removed from all libraries.

These changes will be in place from the 31st of August, providing branch libraries with more display space and the option of promoting other branch collections.

We will continue to support Central library collections for Adult CDs and Audiobooks, with customers being able to reserve titles from the Central library as required.

Please note, these changes do not affect other library Audio Visual collections such as DVDs.

 

Recent favourites: Staff-picked CDs

Superorganism album cover

While we’re not busy with library duties, many of us here at Wellington City Libraries are avid music listeners. Here are a few recent highlights from our extensive CD collection.

Superorganism.
Wellington band The Eversons moved to London in 2015 and have grown into an eight piece collective consisting of members from Lancashire, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Aotearoa, that all now live together in a big house in London. They have created media waves with their fun, kooky and excellently produced debut album, which is loaded with crazy samples, playful beats, fat basslines, swirling synths and great guitar hooks, all underpinned by the oddly deadpan vocals of 17 year old Japanese vocalist Orono Noguchi who they auditioned on Skype. Sounding like the children of The Go Team! and MGMT, this is a technicolor rush of fun and densely layered quirky pop that sounds as though it was made by the band members emailing each other ideas from their rooms in the house – which it actually was! For an idea of where this extremely contemporary band are coming from check out the video for their hit ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous‘. (John H.)

Mi mundo.
An exciting music by a shining new star – a young Cuban singer and percussionist Brenda Navarrete infuses the traditional Afro-Cuban music with the modern stylish sound, and her debut album Mi Mundo (My World) is full of thrilling moments. Opening with Navarrete’s expressive voice and her percussions, which lead the charge throughout the album, music here is intricate and touches a range of musical styles. However, she and her Cuban all-star band show amazing skills and masterfully treat them, often with jazz idioms, and present smooth yet rich, dynamic sound. The album lasts only 37 minutes but shows Navarrete’s enormous talent and character. Sensational. (Shinji)

Wide awaaaaake!
It’s fitting that Texan indie rockers Parquet Courts are on Rough Trade Records as that label was the prime mover of the original early 80’s UK post punk sound and Parquet Courts arguably continue that tradition better than any other current band. Their sixth album is produced by Danger Mouse, who helps shape their characteristically spiky shambolic sound into a semblance of fun, danceable grooves. The post punk influences are still plentiful but the new album has a gloss of production that manages to expand their musical palette without losing the bands’ angular garage rock stance. With song titles such as ‘Normalisation’ and ‘Before the Water Gets Too High’ it’s reassuring to know that urgent and quizzical music such as this is being made. (John H.)

Rewa / Tania Giannouli, Rob Thorne, Steve Garden.
Rewa fuses the musical cultures of Western Greece, courtesy of Greek classically trained musician Tania Giannouli, and that of traditional Taonga Pūoro instrumentation, courtesy of Rob Thorne. The whole album was improvised over a two day recording session. The resulting album transcends musical boundaries whilst having both a classical and experimental feel. The individual pieces are often dark, brooding and intense with Steve Garden’s treatments, and delicate, thoughtful mixing making this album a rich, complex and rewarding listen. (Neil J)

Top gear.
Wellington based muso Stef Animal took time out from bass playing duties with The Golden Awesome to record this beguiling collection of 15 ‘song-in-a-day writing exercises’, each using sounds from a different piece of cheap or unfashionable musical equipment. The pieces are short – ranging from 30 seconds to 4 minutes – but are equally engaging, gradually drawing the listener deeper in to Stef Animal’s unique and intriguing sound world. The result is an unusual release that stands up as a bold and wholly successful experiment. (John H.)

Vortex / Sonar with David Torn.
Swiss jazz-progressive rock quartet (twin guitars, bass and drums) Sonar has established an utterly unique sound – often playing in irregular time and creating a minimal stoic groove which at times is as if 80s king Crimson is playing Steve Reich-ish minimal composition – and with this new album featuring the one-of-a-kind guitarist David Torn, they seem to move to another level. Torn originally worked as a producer but ended up playing on all tunes as well, which is very welcome. Torn brings a sonically inventive soundscape with huge improvisations on some tracks. Their chemistry is fantastic and Sonar has sharpened their trademark polyrhythmic groove, and makes the whole sound even more dynamic. This is risk-taking music and marvellously executed. (Shinji)

Englabörn & variations / Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson passed away earlier this year at the early age of 48. His story was a very successful one, growing from the fringes of the electronic / neo-classical world with his early releases on Touch and 4AD to worldwide acclaim providing soundtracks for films such as Arrival and The Theory of Everything. His use of electronics and treated voices within ambient / chamber pieces was radical in 2002 and had become familiar by 2018, but he was a true pioneer. This remastered re-issue of his first record, 2002’s Englaborn remains impressive and features 16 relatively short works of beautiful and stately contemporary ambient music, predominantly featuring strings and delicate electronics, with an accompanying disc of remixes by a range of current ambient musicians. (John H.)

5.
The first release on Prins Thomas Musikk, the new label started by the popular Norwegian electronic producer and remixer, is his fifth album and finds him expanding his by now predictable space disco sound. Apparently inspired by Teenage Fanclub, American jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and UK duo Plaid, he here presents a set of pared down, predominantly downbeat compositions featuring sweet basslines, guitars, bubbling synths and ambient flourishes to create warm and intimate grooves that lovingly reference the IDM sound of the mid ‘90’s. (John H.)

In Paris: the definitive ORTF recording.
Another classic Jazz concert receives it’s first official release, after being previously available in bootleg form. Montgomery hated to fly, so it was a rare opportunity for European audiences to see him perform in 1965 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, featuring an all-star band with pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Jimmy Lovelace, & special guest tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin. Montgomery delivers a searing set of tunes with one amazing solo after another, in what is considered one of his best live performances ever, melodic, inventive and endlessly swinging. Listening to this reissue, it’s easy to see why he is still regarded as one of the most influential Jazz guitarists in history. (Mark)

What’s new in the NZ Collection this month?

Odyssey of the Unknown ANZAC book cover

The wonderful thing about the New Zealand Collection new books shelf is the amazing variety of topics that you will find here.  As we fast approach the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One there are still lots of new titles about the ANZACS and World War One topics.  There are new additions to the poetry collection. Fascinating histories of the Great South Road, the Waikato river and Steam Punk Oamaru.  Beautiful books about New Zealand birds of prey and Banks’ illustrations of botanical treasures from Cook’s voyages.  This list ends with a thought provoking book about the history and the current situation in West Papua.

Odyssey of the unknown Anzac / Hastings, David
“Ten years after the end of World War I, the Sydney Sun reported that an unknown ANZAC still lay in a Sydney psychiatric hospital. David Hastings follows this one unknown ANZAC, George McQuay, from rural New Zealand through Gallipoli and the Western Front, through desertions and hospitals, and finally home to New Zealand.” (Publisher information)

Gallipoli to the Somme : recollections of a New Zealand infantryman / Aitken, A. C.
“Alexander Aitken was an ordinary soldier with an extraordinary mind. The student who enlisted in 1915 was a mathematical genius. Everything he saw, he could remember. Aitken began to write about his experiences in 1917 as a wounded out-patient in Dunedin Hospital. Every few years, when the war trauma caught up with him, he revisited the manuscript, which was eventually published as Gallipoli to the Somme in 1963. Aitken writes with a unique combination of restraint, subtlety, and an almost photographic vividness. For this edition, Alex Calder has written a new introduction, annotated the text, compiled a selection of images, and added a commemorative index identifying the soldiers with whom Aitken served.” (Publisher information)

All guts no glory : Nelson Tasman nurses and chaplains of World War One 
“Several members of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Nelson Branch have researched the lives of many of those nurses and chaplains who had an association with the Nelson Tasman area. This book captures the brave and courageous nurses and chaplains who were often very close to the firing line. Several chaplains were killed and 10 New Zealand nurses went down with the ship when the Marquette was torpedoed. The nurses worked in frozen, leaking tents and draughty huts often wearing tin hats and having to rush to a trench for safety when the hospitals were being bombed.” (Catalogue)

Whisper of a crow’s wing / Cullinane, Majella
Whisper of a Crow’s Wing, is the work of a poet with a distinct and powerful voice. Cullinane conjures the ghosts that haunt places and objects; our inner and outer world, with rich, physical language. She writes with lyrical intensity about motherhood and family life, including the experience of miscarriage, and the process of moving through grief and loss to a place of acceptance and healing. This is a profound collection from a poet alive to the hidden world of memory and imagination, of the sublime in the everyday, tempered always by a shadow of the fragility of life and love.” (Catalogue)

Ghost South Road / Hamilton, Scott
“The Great South Road was built in 1862 to carry a British army into the Waikato Kingdom. When the British invaded the Waikato in 1863, soldiers shared the road with Maori refugees from Auckland. Today the eroding earthen walls of forts and pa and military cemeteries remember the road’s history. They sit beside the car dealerships and kava bars and pawn shops of South Auckland. Ghost South Road features obscure as well as famous figures from New Zealand history and illustrates the epic walk that the author and photographers made along the two hundred kilometre length of the Great South Road.” (Catalogue)

The Waikato : a history of New Zealand’s greatest river / Moon, Paul
“From snow to surf, the Waikato is New Zealand’s longest river. This fascinating account takes a historical journey along its 425 kilometre length, uncovering extraordinary reports of the people, places and events along its route. Historian Paul Moon traces the Waikato’s path until it exits into the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato. Along the way he uncovers settlements that have disappeared, sites scarred by wars, some of the world’s most convulsive geological events, great tragedies, and the remarkable stories that have taken place along the river.” (Abridged from Catalogue)

Penguins under the porch : a Yorkshireman’s ode to Oamaru / Harbourne, David
“David Harbourne first stumbled across Oamaru more or less by chance while on a short visit to New Zealand from his home in Yorkshire, England. He quit his job, travelled half way round the world and spent a long and very happy time poking around and talking to anyone who would talk back. He ate whitebait frittata, muttonbird and Kurtoskalacs, and became an honorary Oamaruvian just in time for the Victorian heritage celebrations. The result is this entirely quirky, often hilarious, anecdotal “ode” to a town David Harbourne believes is a jewel in New Zealand’s crown.” (Catalogue)

The hunters : the precarious lives of New Zealand’s birds of prey / Stewart, Debbie.
“The majestic New Zealand falcoln in flight looks like a sleek killing machine – but it is one of the most endangered and misunderstood birds in our nation today. This landmark book presents all of our amazing birds of prey, from the cute ruru (or morepork) we hear calling in the night, to the hawks that hover over roadkill on our highways. Stunning photographs show the lives of these birds in intimate close-ups, and the stories make a case for their continuing protection as a vital part of our fragile ecosystem.” (Catalogue)

Joseph Banks’ Florilegium : botanical treasures from Cook’s first voyage
“Joseph Banks accompanied Captain Cook on his first voyage round the world from 1768 to 1771. Banks, along with the Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, collected exotic flora from Madeira, Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, the Society Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Java, bringing back over 1300 species that had never been seen or studied by Europeans. The Florilegium was never published in Banks’ lifetime, and it was not until 1990 that a complete set in colour was issued in a boxed edition under the direction of the British Museum. It is from these prints that the present selection is made.” (Catalogue)

See no evil : New Zealand’s betrayal of the people of West Papua / Leadbeater, Maire
See No Evil issues a challenge to New Zealanders. The book begins by relating the little-known history of West Papua, but its focus is on the impact of New Zealand’s foreign policy on the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants. The consequences of repressive Indonesian rule have been tragic for the West Papuan people, who are experiencing ‘slow genocide’. West Papua remains largely closed to foreign journalists, but its story is now beginning to be heard.” (Catalogue)

Artistic perspectives of the past and the present: New books

Mikala Dwyer book cover

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” ― Ansel Adams

And on that note, we encourage you to check out these latest books on perspectives of art and perhaps you too may reveal yourself, your perceptions and emotions and build confidence in your creative spirit.

Your art will save your life / Pickens, Beth
“Writing in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Beth Pickens reminds burgeoning artists that their work is more important now than ever, and advises on fostering creativity, sustaining an innovative practice, and navigating institutional funding as an individual. Partially a self-help book, partially a political manifesto, Pickens combines practical advice for those seeking out a creative career while contextualising it for the current time.” (amazon.co.uk)

Looking at pictures / Woodford, Susan
“An accessible and attractive beginner’s guide to getting the most out of looking at pictures. Beautifully illustrated with some of the world’s greatest pictures, from cave paintings and Roman mosaics to Picasso and Damien Hirst, this affordable guide explains the art of looking at and understanding pictures, equipping the reader with the vision and tools to approach any museum picture with confidence.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

The museum of lost art / Charney, Noah
“From the bestselling author of The Art of Forgery comes this dynamic narrative that tells the fascinating stories of artworks stolen, looted, or destroyed in war, demolished or discarded, lost, or attacked by iconoclasts or vandals; works that were intentionally temporal, knowingly destroyed by the artists themselves or their patrons, covered over with paint or plaster, or recycled for their materials. An exciting read that spans the centuries and the continents.” (amazon.co.uk)

Mikala Dwyer : a shape of thought
“Mikala Dwyer creates engaging sculptures that explore ideas of shelter, childhood play, modernist design and the relationship between people and objects. Here, Dwyer co-opts both the everyday and the fabulous to transform four contemporary galleries – floating 150 silver balloons high above the gallery floor, installing an elaborate suspension of shapes held aloft by stockings, and building a large circular gathering that includes crystal-like Perspex structures.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Living with Leonardo : fifty years of sanity and insanity in the art world and beyond / Kemp, Martin
“Approaching the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, Kemp recounts his fifty year journey with the work of the world’s most famous artist. We learn of his encounters with academics, collectors and curators, devious dealers and unctuous auctioneers, scholars and authors and pseudohistorians and fantasists; but also how he has grappled with swelling legions of ‘Leonardo loonies’.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Modern art / Dempsey, Amy
“Amy Dempsey unravels the all-too-often daunting language of modern art by mapping the styles, schools and movements that help us understand modern and contemporary art, from Impressionism in the 19th century to Destination Art in the 21st. Using a practical and easy-to-navigate structure, Dempsey’s lucid writing and carefully selected artworks define sixty-eight essential groupings in western modern art.” (Syndetics summary)

Latest Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

The Bight Edge of the World cover

Read something great, intriguing, surprising or satisfying? Want to let other people know about it?

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Shelter in place / Roberts, Nora
“Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “One word, ‘Brilliant’. There is a reason why Nora Roberts is an international bestseller, her books just keep getting better and better.” (no rating, but I guess it would be high!)

Ascendant / Campbell, Jack
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A good entry in a good series, although you get more out of it if you’ve red the books that come before it. A more thoughtful approach to political issues than is usual for military science fiction.” (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tane’s war / Weir, Brendaniel
“One lifetime, two battles. It’s 1953 and Briar is a dreamer living with his father in Pukekohe. His behaviour sees him sent to a training farm to be “turned into a man”. But the plan backfires when his arrival awakens feelings in fellow shearer, Aussie. Tane is the farm foreman and his Maori heritage sets him apart. Briar and Aussie threaten the walls Tane has built around his own secret past; walls created in the trenches of WW1. Tane is confronted with a choice. He cannot change history but maybe he can help change the future.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was excellent. It was very cleverly constructed with different interweaving timeframes and connected characters… It was also a sad eye-opener of cruel homophobia. Luckily views in Aotearoa are more tolerant now… (review abridged)” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The boat runner : a novel / Murphy, Devin
“Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was an excellent read for all mature readers… As an avid reader of books in the War genre I think this novel is among the very best with many unexpected twists and turns.  It certainly is thrilling” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kompromat / Johnson, Stanley
Kompromat reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A different slant on political events made this book very entertaining but at times a bit confusing. It told a reasonably plausible story which while not deep was thought provoking. Bang up to date too!”. (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the bright edge of the world / Ivey, Eowyn
“Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was great.  Brought an era to life with a present day contrast to a colonial era.” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Beguiling new picture books about bears and bunnies

A Bear Sat On My Porch Today book cover

Sad, scary and scrumptious, these beautiful picture books have it all!

Syndetics book coverBig bunny / Rowboat Watkins.
“Once upon a time there was a book about . . .
MONSTERS!
No.
SPACE ALIENS?
Nope . . . a BUNNY!
A GIANT SCARY TRUCK-EATING BUNNY?!?
Um . . . well, maybe it was a tiny bit big.
From the curious mind of Rowboat Watkins comes a ginormously imaginative story that is as funny as it is philosophical. How big is Big Bunny? And how will this story end? Delightfully meta and humorously subversive, Big Bunny will take its place as the next go-to story about stories.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOh me, oh my, a pie! / cooked up by Jan Fearnley.
A nice old grandma bakes a pie, but oh me, oh my! that yummy treat is stolen by a greedy fox, then lost and found by a mouse, snatched by a cat, grabbed by a dog, and plucked away by an owl, before landing back on Grandma’s table for everyone to share… or maybe not.

Syndetics book coverRabby the Brave / Patrick Guest & Tom Jellett.
“Leon and Lily do everything with their best pals Rabby and Snuggles, until one night the unimaginable happens and Snuggles is left outside. Faced with sadness, the others must find a way to save Snuggles from a frightful end. Heart-warming and playful, compassionate and true-to-life, Rabby the Brave is a story about close bonds and sibling love.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA bear sat on my porch today / story by Jane Yolen ; art by by Rilla Alexander.
“What to do if a rather insistent bear squats on your porch today? Followed in short order by a shaggy squirrel, a spraying skunk, a playful possum, and a bevy of forest critters large and small? This hilarious cumulative tale of reluctant hospitality and generous inclusivity will leave readers chanting, “OKAY. OKAY! YOU CAN STAY.” But watch out! That porch is starting to sway…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rabbit listened / by Cori Doerrfeld.
“When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs. Whether read in the wake of tragedy or as a primer for comforting others, this is a deeply moving and unforgettable story sure to soothe heartache of all sizes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCome home already! / by Jory John ; illustrated by Benji Davies.
“Duck and Bear are BACK – but where has Bear gone? And what will Duck do without him? Duck just wants to hang out with his best buddy, bear. But Bear’s gone fishing for a whole week. What will Duck do without Bear? And more importantly, how will Bear survive without him? From the bestselling creators of Goodnight Already! and I Love You Already! comes a fun-filled, laugh-out-loud adventure about friendship and family, from the bestselling author Jory John and award-winning illustrator Benji Davies.” (Syndetics summary)