A reminder about RBdigital & Zinio for Libraries change

A reminder that the Zinio for Libraries app will be replaced by RBdigital tomorrow (April 17 2018). Your login will remain the same and you won’t lose titles you’ve already checked out.

Have you tried the new RBdigital app? It’s available to download from your app store and is the new app for reading our Zinio (now-renamed RBdigital) magazine collection.  It has some great features — see our previous blog post.

If you open your existing Zinio for Libraries app, you will be prompted to download the new app, or depending on your device, visit your app store from these links: iOS | Google Play. Alternatively, search for “RBdigital” in the app store, if you’re not reading this on your device.

Originally, RBDigital planned to stop access to Zinio to Libraries in 2017, but to give library patrons more time to make the switch, they extended the changeover period.

Download the new app and have a look round. There is a basic, but comprehensive help feature inside the app to get you started, or click on the image below for a quick guide to getting started.

Kōrero with Morrie Love of the Tenths Trust at Central Library

On Friday 27 April (12:30pm),  Morrie Love, chairman of Wellington Tenths Trust will present Stories behind the Māori place names of Te Whanganui-a-Tara  / Wellington (harbour)

Whatu  Ngarongaro  He  Tangata,  Toitū  He  Whenua

Man disappears but the land remains

In the early 1800s the stories behind the naming of the land in Te Whanganui-a-Tara were often sourced to Te  Whatahoro Jury and three women  –  Ngarimu Mawene,  Mere Ngamai and Rangiwahia Te Puni.

Te  Whatahoro  Jury

Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury
Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury. Ref: 1/2-024828. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23175005

Te Whatahoro Jury was born 1841 in Hawkes Bay — his father worked for William Williams.  In 1842 the family moved to Wairarapa.  He became a scribe to Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohuhu and was charged with recording tribal traditions on behalf of his iwi.  Some of this material was used later, by Elsdon Best, T. W. Downes, S. Percy Smith and John White.  He married seven times.  He died 1923 and is buried at Papawai cemetery.

Ngarimu  Mawene  Hohua

Ngarimu Mawene is listed in documents held at Te Papa. Ngarimu Mawene may have been connected to Hohua Te Atuawera and Hariata Mawene, with links therefore Te Ngatoro and  (first?) husband, Wakairianiwa.  Te Ngatoro was, in turn, a daughter to Aniwaniwa and Tawhirikura.  It is said that, as a young girl, Ngarimu danced on the beach at Pito-one as the “Tory Pioneers” arrived in 1839.[1]

Mere  Kapa  Ngamai  I

Mere Kapa Ngamai I was the daughter of Rawiri Kowheta and Maweuweu.

She married, firstly James Harrison, and their children were James Te Tana Harrison and Mere Kapa Ngamai II.  Mere later married Wi Tako Ngatata.  She was also known as Mere Ngawai o Te Wharepouri.

Mere was a well-known composer — two of her compositions which have survived:

(Link is to Legends of the Māori.  Vol. I / James Cowan)

Rangi  Te  Puni

Wairau April 1851, Charles Gold
Gold, Charles Emilius, 1809-1871 : Wairau April 1851. Ref: A-329-014. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23236682

Rangi Te Puni is believed to have been born in Waipa Valley, with links to Tainui and Ngāti Rārua. She succeeded to land at Te Tau Ihu o te Waka. Rangiwahia,(Rangiwhaia) was the daughter of Rangitakaia, and grandchild of Hinehape.[2] Rangiwahia was the wife of Henare Te Puni, who in turn was the son of Honiana Te Puni and Wikitoria Muri-tu-waka-roto.

[Whakapapa of Aperaham Huritapae: Nelson MB, 13/6/89 / [WMB  NO. 3, P. 39]

James  Cowan

James Cowan at his desk, writing
James Cowan at his desk, writing. Ruscoe, Ivan, fl 1990s : Photographs relating to James Cowan. Ref: PAColl-5877-5. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22311747

James Cowan has written about Māori place names  of Te Whanganui-a-Tara in the Evening Post, 1912. These are available on PapersPast, in the Evening Post:

Cowan’s kōrero has been reproduced, also, in Pat Lawlor‘s book:

Old Wellington Days.  Chapter 8:  James Cowan and his Wellington Place-names.

Old Wellington Days, by Pat Lawlor
Old Wellington Days, by Pat Lawlor

Threads are picked up again in:

A list of Māori place names of Te Whanganui-a-Tara  concludes Elsdon Best’s The land of Tara.  Here is a map from that book.

The Land of Tara, by Elsdon Best
The Land of Tara, by Elsdon Best

Te Whatahoro Jury’s work in transcribing  oral histories possibly, formed a basis for stories in Elsdon Best’s – The land of Tara, published first in the Journal of the Polynesian Society, and then in book form, 1919.

Best’s list of names was revised and greatly expanded by G Leslie Adkin in:

The great harbour of Tara : traditional Māori place-names and sites of Wellington harbour and environs / G Leslie Adkin (1959)

The Great Harbour of Tara, by G. Leslie Adkin

Surveyors

Māori have long had an interest in the spiritual value of land: it pervades their sense of identity and how they relate to others. But land is also the foundation of their survival, in economic as well as cultural terms [3]

Book Jacket for: Boundary markers : land surveying and the colonisation of New ZealandBoundary markers : land surveying and the colonisation of New Zealand / Byrnes, Giselle

Giselle Byrnes, writing of surveyors as Pākehā boundary markers, shows that these men were also naming the land, and “owning” the whenua for their colonial government in a way that parallels the Māori concept of Tapa Whenua.

 

Boundary markers suggest that the surveyors colonised the land through language, literally inscribing it with new meanings and ways of seeing:  place naming and mapping are perhaps the best examples of this [4]

For Māori, in oral tradition, naming the land was essential for defining  iwi and  hapū boundaries. Sites of tribal significance — maunga, awa, moana  then become key elements in kawa o te marae, and  whanaungatanga, in rituals of encounter, where politeness decrees that you ask not “ko wai koe?/ who are you?”, but rather, “nō hea koe? / where are you from?”

Surveyors extended their sketching skills to record not just Pākehā boundaries, but also snapshots of the life and times of our tūpuna.

Somes Island

Legend has it that both Matiu and Makaro Islands received their original Māori names from Kupe, the semi-legendary first navigator to reach New Zealand and get home again with reports of the new land. He named them after his two daughters (or, in some versions of the tale, nieces) when he first entered the harbour about 1000 years ago.

Somes Island : Matiu (1990)
Somes Island : Matiu (1990)

“After European settlement, the island was known for over a century as Somes Island. In 1839 it fell under the control of the New Zealand Company along with much of the greater Wellington region.”

“The island was renamed after Joseph Somes, the company’s deputy-governor and financier at the time. In 1997 however, the New Zealand Geographic Board assigned the official bilingual name of Matiu/Somes in recognition of the island’s colourful European and Māori histories.” [5]

I look forward to Morrie Love’s kōrero to reveal the layers of history that lie both beneath our feet and before our eyes, and  to provide an opportunity to understand the heritage of Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

References

  1. Stories in names / Tohunga.   New Zealand Railways magazine ; vol. 9, issue 6 (1934)
  2. Maori Land Court.  Nelson Minute Book.   13/6/89.  P. 39.
  3. Byrnes, Giselle.   Boundary markers.  P. 2
  4. Ibid.  p. 6
  5. Wikipedia contributors. (2018, March 16). Matiu / Somes Island. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:26, April 13, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Matiu_/_Somes_Island&oldid=830688561

Make, create or innovate these April holidays

Spin a Sphero, make music, code a cart, and rock with a robot! These April school holidays, your children can get to be an engineer, architect, or scientist at your local library. There are eight different robot and coding events happening across Wellington City Libraries: we have some of the latest programmable toys, gadgets and robots, or they can get creative with Lego and coding games. Best of all, they are open to all ability levels.

Here’s where and when the activities are happening:

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library: Tuesday 17th April, 10.30am

Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library: Wednesday 18th April, 10.30am

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library: Thursday 19th April, 10.30am

Karori Library: Friday 20th April, 2.30pm

Johnsonville Library: Monday 23rd April. 2.30pm

Newtown Library: Tuesday 24th April, 10.30am

Khandallah Library: Thursday 26th April, 10.30am

Central Library: Friday 27th April, 10.30am

These free events are for children aged 6+ and run for 1 hour. No need to book – just turn up! Contact your library to find out more information – or follow our Kids Blog or our Facebook page for updates.

Stepping Up classes: Free digital skills workshops

An absolute beginner at computers? Feeling frustrated when using Google Chrome or MS Word? Help is at hand!

We are excited to announce a new partnership with Stepping Up in offering free digital skills workshops to customers. Check out the Stepping Up course catalogue here – Stepping Up catalogue. We can provide one-off two hour workshops on a selection of topics such as; computer basics, setting up an email account, using Facebook or Trade Me, or creating a C.V.

We are currently running monthly workshops at Tawa and Johnsonville libraries, feel free to contact us at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz for further information or with any suggestions of particular workshops that you would like to see us run.

Tawa Library 10am-12pm on the first Thursday of the month, phone 232 1690.

Johnsonville Library 10am-12pm on the first Friday of the month, phone 477 6151.

Register on the Stepping Up website or talk to a staff member for more information. Please spread the word and tell your family and friends!

Anita Shreve has died, aged 71

Syndetics book coverThe literary world will be a much sadder place after the announcement of the death of Anita Shreve. Syndetics book coverShe was a very popular, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author. Before becoming a full time novelist she was a teacher and a journalist. She really came into the public arena with “The weight of water” published in 1997 which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and turned into a film by Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Her most recent novel was “The stars are fire” published in 2017. Her books often revolved around the after effects of one single dramatic event and she liked to explore the subtleties of human relationships in often a highly nuanced and skilled fashion.

 

Dancing Through the Pages @ Central

April 21 – 29 is NZ Dance Week #NZDW2018 and we are celebrating here at the Central Library with Dancing Through the Pages, a series of evening talks from some of Wellington’s finest performing artists talking about their craft with a short taste of their live performances as well!

Have you ever wanted to know what it takes to choreograph a work or compose music for dance? Or wondered what the day to day looks like for a dancer or how they shake stage-fright? Or are you just simply curious about their current reading lists? Dancing Through the Pages is a unique opportunity to meet artists at the top of their game with the chance to ask them any burning questions you have about their art-form.

So come along and fill your evenings with movement, music and intrigue among the book shelves!

What’s the Schedule?

Tuesday 24 April/ 6pm  –  Sensory Dance Theatre
Sacha Copland & Emma Coppersmith from Java Dance Theatre will give an insight into creating a sensory experience for theatre goers. Learn about Java’s immersive processes and how food can make a great stage companion and open up a world of ritual.

Thursday 26 April / 6pm – A Song & Dance
Come along and hear contemporary dancer/choreographer Lucy Marinkovich and jazz musician Lucien Johnson  talk about their creative partnership, following their 2017 award-winning dance-theatre show, Lobsters. Find out about collaboration and why it’s important in the arts, plus treat your ears to some smooth saxophone from Lucien.

Friday 27 April 6pm – A Choreographer at Work
Meet Loughlan Prior; dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and a Royal New Zealand Ballet staple. Come along to this final session of Dancing Through the Pages and hear Loughlan talk about his creative process, plus get a behind the scenes glimpse into the mechanics of choreographing a duet. Featuring special guests RNZB dancers Luke Cooper and Georgia Powley

 

Want to know more about the artists?

ABOUT JAVA DANCE THEATRE
Java Dance Theatre is dance theatre that gets under your skin. Founded in 2003 by New Zealand School of Dance graduate, Sacha Copland, Java captures audiences with visceral dance and captivating story-telling. Combining playful physicality, live music and audience immersion Java has captured hearts around New Zealand and the world. Their strong repertoire of original works includes The Wine Project, Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients, Back of the Bus, The Creamery, Cheese, and Rise.

ABOUT BORDERLINE ARTS ENSEMBLE
The Borderline Arts Ensemble is a performing arts collective established by dancer and choreographer Lucy Marinkovich in 2015 to facilitate her contemporary dance and performance art works. In 2017 Borderline presented Good Good Fortune at the Performance Arcade (Wellington, NZ) and the George Town Arts Festival (Penang, Malaysia), as well as developing choreography for  The Shyness of Trees during an artist residency at Dance Nucleus in Singapore.  Borderline’s first full length dance-theatre work Lobsters premiered in an independent season at Circa Theatre and was the winner of three 2017 Wellington Theatre Awards.

ABOUT LOUGHLAN PRIOR
Loughlan Prior is an Aussie/Kiwi choreographer and performer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the choreographer in residence at the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) and the creative director of Prior Visual, a project based film collective. Loughlan has produced works for the RNZB, the New Zealand School of Dance and recently premiered a piece with the Grand Rapids Ballet in the United States. His film projects have met acclaim both nationally and internationally, his collaborative film Genome featured in Wellington’s treasured 2017 LUX Light Festival.

Can’t get enough of dance?

We completely understand! Not to worry, check out our Q&A with our speakers to find out more about their favourite dance books! Our Librarians have also been putting together some dance themed lists for your reading and viewing pleasure, check out our most recent Biographies Blog Modern Bodies: The Best of Dance Biographies and our latest movies blog of our favourite dance movies!

April’s Most Wanted

Want to know what the most popular reads are in Wellington? Then this is the list for you! Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, you name it. Place your reserves and get in line because these were the top 10 most reserved books this month!

10. Syndetics book coverLullaby / Leïla Slimani ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor
“When Myriam, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, their  idyllic tableau is shattered.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

9. Syndetics book coverSalt, fat, acid, heat : mastering the elements of good cooking / by Samin Nosrat 
“With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Featuring illustrations and infographics that reveal an atlas to the world of flavor, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will be your compass in the kitchen. Destined to be a classic, it just might be the last cookbook you’ll ever need.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

8. Syndetics book coverPriestdaddy / Patricia Lockwood.Priestdaddy: A Memoir
“Interviewing emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence, from an ill-fated family trip and an abortion clinic, to her involvement in a cult-like youth group, with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. She pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

7. Syndetics book coverLost connections : uncovering the real causes of depression– and the unexpected solutions / Johann Hari.
“Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate and learned that almost everything we have been told is wrong. His TED talk has been viewed more than 8 million times and revolutionized the global debate. This book will do the same.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

6. Syndetics book coverThe subtle art of not giving a fuck : a counterintuitive approach to living a good life / Mark Manson.
“In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Manson says. He tells it like it is–a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

5. Syndetics book coverEducated : a memoir / Tara Westover
“Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, her quest for knowledge took her, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. An account of the struggle for self-invention, fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties, she has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers. The perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

4. Syndetics book coverDrawn out : a seriously funny memoir / Tom Scott.
“Tom Scott is a political commentator, cartoonist, satirist, scriptwriter, playwright, raconteur and funny man. He’s been drawing political cartoons for Wellington’s Dominion Post since 1988, was in the Press Gallery and was famously banned by PM Muldoon. His memoir covers his childhood – a tragi-comedy of a poor Irish Catholic family, his uni days when he was editor of the student newspaper and sued for blasphemous libel, his parliamentary career, his work with Ed Hillary and more.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

3. Syndetics book cover12 rules for life : an antidote to chaos / Jordan B. Peterson ; foreword by Norman Doidge ; illustrations by Ethan Van Scriver
“Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

2. Syndetics book coverDriving to Treblinka : a long search for a lost father / Diana Wichtel.
“Raised in Canada, her mother a Catholic New Zealander and her father a Polish Jew who miraculously survived the Holocaust. When she’s thirteen, her life changes dramatically as her mother whisks her and her sister and brother away to New Zealand. Their father is to follow but she never sees him again. This unforgettable narrative of her search for answers, is also a deep reflection on the meaning of family, the trauma of loss, and the insistence of memory.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

1. Syndetics book coverThe diary of a bookseller / Shaun Bythell.
“Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books, introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

It’s NZ Dance Week Question Time!

We are counting down to NZ Dance Week (5, 6, 7, 8… get it?) and are getting SO excited for what’s happening at Central Library that week, that librarians have been started tapping and jiving through the shelves! So in the lead up to Dancing Through The Pages we quizzed our upcoming performers about their favourite books and current reading habits!

In order of the week’s performances, we kicked things off with choreographer and Artistic Director of Java Dance Theatre Sacha Copland.

So Sacha, tell us what are you reading at the moment?
“I usually have a few books on the go at any one time. For fun I am reading The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur.  For research for my next work I am reading The Brilliant History of Colour in Art by Victoria Finlay and Chocolate Nations, Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa by Orla Ryan. I am really interested in exploring colour more. There is too much monochrome! Also my next work is about chocolate so I have to research every aspect of it before I make it, the good, the bad and the ugly.”

What about your all-time favourite book character?
“This is tricky to answer! Maybe Aomame, a martial-arts instructor and physical therapist from Haruki Murakami’s IQ84. I also love Aliena in The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.”

Next up we have contemporary dancer and choreographer Lucy Marinkovich along with saxophonist and composer Lucien Johnson who answered our questions with the same creative partnership that we will hear more about at ‘A Song & Dance’!

What are you two reading at the moment?
Lucien: “Talking to My Daughter about the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis
Lucy: “Bright Air Black by David Vann (in preparation for the NZ Festival show OrphEus: a dance opera).”

Do you two have a favourite dance book or magazine?
Lucien: “For me it’s a music book: Music is my Mistress by Duke Ellington.”
Lucy: “Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild.”

Lucien, what about your favourite book to recommend?
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin or Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T Anderson.”

For the final act we asked the same round of quickfire questions to the man behind ‘The Story of LARK’ Louglan Prior, RNZB dancer, choreographer and filmmaker extraordinaire!

What are you reading at the moment?
The History of Bees by Maja Lunde.”

Your all-time favourite book character?
“Albus Dumbledore.”
(We can’t fault you there, #WCLLovesHarryPotter!!)

What about your favourite book to recommend?
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.”

And final question, do you have a favourite dance book or magazine?
David Hallberg’s autobiography – A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back and DANZ Magazine.”

Want to know more about Dancing Through the Pages and what’s happening for NZ Dance Week? Check out wcl.govt.nz/danceweek for all of the info, add the Facebook Event to your calendar and follow the hashtag #nzdw2018! We hope to see you there!

Pro-tip: don’t miss our most recent biographies booklist! We’ve hand-picked a selection of some of the prominent dancers in history, from Gene Kelly to Michael Jackson. We couldn’t resist making a list of our favourite dance movies as well, what better reason to relive Footloose is there! Take a look!

NZDW 2018

Birds of a feather flock together in these new picture books!

From feathers, nests, seeds and knitting these beautifully illustrated books will introduce your children to physics, ornithology and environmentalism in a very gentle way!

Syndetics book coverPlume / Isabelle Simler.
“Introduces a wide variety of birds, their feathers, and Plume, the cat that is stalking them.” (Catalogue summary)

Gorgeous feathers on every page, the illustrations are delightfully detailed but will the mischievous cat catch them all?

Syndetics book coverBird builds a nest / Martin Jenkins ; illustrated by Richard Jones.
“Bird is building her nest. She pushes and pulls twigs into place until she’s made a cosy cup, ready and waiting … can you guess what for?” (Catalogue summary)

This is a great book to introduce your child to science and the world of forces. There are some fun experiments to do too!

Syndetics book coverBird to Bird [hardback]
“Award-winning picture book creators Claire Saxby and Wayne Harris team up to bring us a gentle story of nature, history, recycling and art. A bird drops a seed to the floor of the forest. The seed grows into a sapling, then a tree. The tree is felled and taken to a busy city. Bird to Bird is the story of one bird, one seed, one tree. Award-winning picture book creators Claire Saxby and Wayne Harris have crafted a gentle story of nature, history, recycling and art. The truth behind this story is that the wood used to make bunks on board the convict ships was reused when the ships reached Australia. There was no need for the bunks on the return journey and the wood was a valuable resource. Exquisite paintings by award-winning illustrator Wayne Harris take this story through time. This is a gentle story of nature, Australian history, recycling and art.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFeather / by Cao Wenxuan ; illustrated by Roger Mello ; translated from the Chinese by Chloe Garcia Roberts.
A single feather, blown about by the wind, asks a variety of birds if she belongs to them but is dismissed time and again until she gives up her quest.

Syndetics book coverGranny McFlitter, the champion knitter / Heather Haylock ; (illustrated by Lael Chisholm).
“But did Granny stop knitting? Oh no, she did not! She kept right on knitting . . . like it or not! Granny McFlitter’s family have had enough of her knitting. But when a ship runs aground, spilling oil into the sea, a call goes out for small jumpers for the shivery rescued penguins. It’s the moment Granny has been waiting for! A sparkling environmental story with award-winning illustrations that is sure to warm hearts and feathers.” (Syndetics summary)

Historical fiction features in this month’s fiction picks from other genres

The ‘other genres’ category this month features historical fiction. This latest selection includes a new novel by the popular, prolific Bernard Cornwell. Highly recommend is the much praised debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar, titled The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

Syndetics book coverCarnegie’s Maid : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets, but the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does has is an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future and her family’s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girls in the picture / Melanie Benjamin.
“It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the new industry of the silent moving pictures is enthralling theatergoers everywhere. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender and their astronomical success could come at a price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarriors of the storm / Bernard Cornwell.
“King Alfred’s son Edward and formidable daughter, Ãthelflaed, rule Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdom’s greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are rising up against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both Edward and Ãthelflaed are reluctant to move out of the safety of their fortifications. But with Uhtred’s own daughter married to Ivarson’s brother, who can be trusted?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreyfriars House / Emma Fraser.
“Once a home full of love, all that remains in Greyfriars House are secrets and lies. On a remote Scottish island sits Greyfriars House, a house haunted by unspoken words and family mysteries. But once it was a happy and comforting place and in the summer of 1939, family and friends gather to forget their fears about the impending war.”

Syndetics book coverThe mermaid and Mrs Hancock : a history in three volumes / written by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
“This voyage is special. It will change everything. One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great alone / Kristin Hannah.
“Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture, soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sealwoman’s gift / Sally Magnusson.
“Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. This story is told through the voice of the pastor’s wife Asta” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unlikely agent / Jane Menczer.
“London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John’s Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret’s meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat. When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to ‘open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!’ After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as The Scorpions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPale horse riding / Chris Petit.
“By 1943 Auschwitz is the biggest black market in Europe. The garrison has grown epically corrupt on the back of the transportations and goods confiscated, and this is considered even more of a secret than the one surrounding the mass extermination. Everything is done to resist penetration until August Schlegel and SS officer Morgen, after solving the case of the butchers of Berlin, are sent in disguised as post office officials to investigate an instance of stolen gold being sent through the mail. Their chances of getting out of Auschwitz alive are almost nil, unless Schlegel and Morgen accept that the nature of the beast they are fighting means they too must become as corrupt as the corruption they are desperate to expose. Even if they survive, will it be at the cost of losing their souls?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shape of water / Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus.
“It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito, mute her whole life, orphaned as a child, is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day. Then, one fateful night, she sees something she was never meant to see, the Center’s most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. The creature is terrifying but also magnificent, capable of language and of understanding emotions and Elisa can’t keep away. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Soon, affection turns into love, and the creature becomes Elisa’s sole reason to live. But outside forces are pressing in. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it. Elisa has no choice but to risk everything to save her beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)