Music & Movies Newsletter for April

Fast cars, guns, awkward weddings, inaccurate but entertaining historical thrillers and everyone’s favourite medieval sword and sorcery epic are just some of the treats on offer in this month’s Music & Movies selections. Also, be sure to catch Searching for Sugarman if you haven’t already. You couldn’t find a finer cockle-warming music doco, unless you somehow stumbled across Anvil: the story of Anvil.

Library News

DVDs

New DVDs for March include Season 2 of the epic Fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’; Brad Pitts George V. Higgins adaptation ‘Killing Them Softly’; acclaimed music documentary ‘Searching For Sugarman’; the feel-good French smash ‘The intouchables’; & Ben Affleck’s Oscar Best Picture winner ‘Argo’….

Cover imageHit & run.
“Charles Bronson is a former bank robber wheelman who ratted out his gang and is living under the assumed name in the Federal Witness Protection Program. He goes by Charlie, and played by the goofy, buffed-out Dax Shepard he makes a charming everyman hero in the amusing and adventurous action comedy Hit & Run. Shepard also wrote the script and codirected what was obviously a labor of love (his real-life partner Kristen Bell plays his onscreen girlfriend), and he shows some genuine chops as a wrangler of rapid-fire witty dialogue as well as car-chase action choreography. Charlie’s brainy girlfriend Annie teaches at the local college and knows nothing about his past life…When Annie needs to get to Los Angeles for an important job interview, Charlie uncovers the muscle car he’s been hiding in the barn and offers to get her there in a flash, even though it may mean uncovering his secret life in the process…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageKilling them softly.
“There’s plenty of grit, street life, gangland lingo, and nuts-and-bolts criminal insiderism, but the overall tone is more akin to a David Mamet play than a rollicking Hollywood shoot-’em-up. The movie is an adaptation of the fine George V. Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade, and it nicely transposes the tone and delivery of Higgins’s spare prose into a visual style that keeps a long, lingering gaze on its unlovable bad guys. It also holds an attentive ear to the rhythm and pattern of their speech, turning the extended stretches of dialogue into unique tableaux of stylish exchanges between hit men, lowlife punks, and middle management gangsters… Brad Pitt is a sleek and enigmatic presence as Jackie Cogan, a professional killer who’s as exasperated by the stupidity around him as he is obsessed with the details of doing his job right. After an odd couple of hapless losers (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, who are a hoot) hit a mob-run card game, Jackie is called in to clean up the mess…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageAfter the wedding.
“Equal parts weepy drama and soap opera, After the Wedding is a beautifully filmed story centering on Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen, Casino Royale), a Danish man working at a orphanage in Bombay. Just when funds have run desperately low, Jorgen (Rolf Lassgård)–a wealthy benefactor–promises to donate millions of dollars to the orphanage. But there’s a catch. Jacob must collect the funds himself in Copenhagen… and attend the wedding of the eccentric millionaire’s daughter. But once Jacob meets the benefactor’s wife Helene (played by a radiant Sidse Babett Knudsen), it’s obvious to the viewer that the two have a complicated history. It’s also likely that her daughter Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen) most probably is theirs. So why did Jorgen invite Jacob to Anna’s wedding? Does he know Jacob is Anna’s father? Is something nefarious in the works? The thought-provoking film was Denmark’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Academy Awards…The relationships here are messy and often uncomfortable. But they also ring true to life…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe intouchables.
“Driss (Omar Sy), a Senegalese man living in a Paris slum, applies for a job as caretaker to a wealthy quadriplegic, but all he wants is to get his paper stamped so he can get benefits. Despite his lack of qualifications, he lands the job because of his attitude: Philippe (François Cluzet), the quadriplegic, wants a caretaker who will look at him without pity. As Driss reluctantly learns to move, feed, and clean Philippe, the two men discover a blunt but vital humour that not only bridges the cultural and class divide between them, but gives Philippe a renewed joy in life. It’s easy to see what made Untouchable such a massive success in France; the movie has the sweet sincerity and uplifting conclusion that make for a classic feel-good experience. The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, and Sy–who won the French equivalent of the Oscar for his role–is a dynamic and charismatic performer, while Cluzet’s understated performance conveys Philippe’s frustrations. The movie doesn’t dig too deeply into the struggles of life as a quadriplegic or the struggles of life among the inner-city poor, so when Untouchable ends it’s not likely to leave a lasting impression, but that doesn’t get in the way of its immediate charm and warmth…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageArgo.
“Based on real events, the dramatic thriller Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played–information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageGame of thrones. The complete second season.
“Based on A Clash of Kings, the second novel in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, season two of Game of Thrones admirably encapsulates the sprawling War of the Five Kings, which pits the malevolent Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) against a host of contenders for the throne of the late King Robert (Mark Addy), including his brothers Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Renly (Gethin Anthony). Further complicating matters is the appointment of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) as Hand of the King to Joffrey, which sets off an intense behind-the-scenes power struggle with his siblings, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who carry on an incestuous affair. Meanwhile, there’s also the issue of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her three dragons; Daenerys spends much of season two making her way across the Red Waste in order to launch her own plan of conquest. These central conflicts are supported by a host of secondary storylines… That Game of Thrones manages to not only weave together all of these myriad threads but also make them compelling and fully realized is among the keys to the show’s astonishing popularity, as are the performances, which, along with the direction and writing, help to make the series the best costume fantasy drama ever produced on television…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSearching for Sugar Man.
“Rodriguez, outside of a circle of pre-existing fans, might not be the most famous musician on the planet. But he makes a fascinating subject for the documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Put together in part by the producer of the excellent Man On Wire, Searching For Sugar Man centres around a flop album released by Rodriguez, which went on to build an audience over the decades that followed. But what happened to Rodriguez himself? That’s where the film comes in, and it’s an engaging tale it has to tell. It’s a terrific documentary, this. Touching, mysterious and centred on a genuinely intriguing subject matter, there’s a lot to grab your interest here. After all, is Rodriguez a myth, the film asks? If not, is he aware of the impact his music has had? The film plays its cards very close to its chest, and is all the better for it. There’s material beyond the film to be found on the disc, and it digs deeper in the story as part and parcel of that. So you get an interesting commentary track, as well as a making of piece as well…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageBully.
“From Sundance Award-winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, comes a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary following five kids and families over the course of a school year. Offering insight into different facets of America’s bullying crisis, the stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate and often shocking glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices, this is a powerful and inspiring film that every educator, parent and teenager should see…” (From Amazon.com description)

Cover imageSilk. [Series 1].
“Single, attractive, thirty something Martha Costello is a brilliant, passionate defence barister with the unwavering belief that all are innocent until proven guilty. Martha is about to apply to become Queen’s Counsel; she is applying for ‘Silk’, but she’s not the only one at her chambers– Clive Reader is charming, ruthless and dangerous, and knows how to play the game– Only one of them will be made QC and Senior Clerk, Billy Lamb, is the man with everyone’s lives and careers in his hands. Martha’s conscience and faith in the criminal justice system are tested to breaking point as she deals with clients who are good, bad and downright evil…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSleep tight.
“Spanish psychological horror from director Jaume Balagueró. The film follows César (Luis Tosar), the concierge to the residents at a wealthy apartment building. César seems extraordinarily helpful and polite and is consequently adored by the residents, but little do they know that he is in fact a man so incapable of happiness and human feeling that he makes it his goal in life to make others as miserable as he is. He focuses much of his attention on Clara (Martra Etura), a beautiful young woman whose vivacity and spontaneous sense of happiness make her his opposite in almost every way. With his usual blend of underhand tricks, which include sneaking into her apartment to rig unpleasant surprises and even hiding beneath her bed, César begins to unnerve Clara. When her boyfriend Marcos (Alberto San Juan) unexpectedly returns the situation quickly escalates towards a point of no return…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageTwo little boys.
“The film follows Nige and his best mate Deano’s riotous misadventures as they struggle with their imploding friendship which has been put under pressure by an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star. Nige chucks the dead body in a nearby roadworks hole and runs to Deano for help. Trouble is, Deano’s not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis…” (Syndetics summary)

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Popular Music

The selection of new books on popular music this month are all rock legends’ biographies. They include a much-missed Whitney Houston, John Lennon and Marc Bolan. Have a browse!!

Syndetics book coverRemembering Whitney : my story of love, loss, and the night the music stopped / Cissy Houston with Lisa Dickey ; with a foreword by Dionne Warwick.
“”The world lost one of the most beautiful voices and an extraordinarily beautiful and charitable woman,” says Houston of daughter Whitney’s death in February 2012. Cissy offers a forthright account of her daughter’s life and death.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book cover50 licks : myths and stories from half a century of the Rolling Stones / Pete Fornatale with Bernard M. Corbett and Peter Thomas Fornatale.
“Fornatale, the noted disc jockey, radio host, and musical historian who died in 2012, opened the first program of his brand-new radio show in 1969 with a Rolling Stones song. By then the Stones were worldwide superstars, but, as Fornatale recounts in this profusely illustrated oral history of the band, there were some rocky times in the early days. Then back-to-back singles of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Get Off of My Cloud catapulted them into international stardom. That was 47 years ago. The book features interviews with not only the Stones but also fellow musicians, film directors, music-industry execs, journalists, and does a good job of covering the band’s half-century history in broad strokes, giving us a nice look at the Stones as musicians, celebrities, and young men growing to maturity in the public eye.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverMötley Crüe : the dirt / [Tommy Lee … et al. ; with Neil Strauss].
“In the beginning there was the Motley House, crawling with cockroaches and rats, beer cans piled on the porch so high they threatened to spill into the house every time you opened the door. “That place gave birth to Motley Crue,” the band recalls in The Dirt: The Autobiography of Motley Crue. Crue members Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx also team up with New York Times music writer Neil Strauss to tell the story of their band’s rise to phenomenal success.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverUntouchable : the strange life and tragic death of Michael Jackson / Randall Sullivan.
“Dogged by scandal for over fifteen years and undone by his own tendency to trust the wrong people, Michael Jackson had become untouchable in many quarters, a fact that wounded him deeply. Now, drawing on unprecedented access to friends, enemies, employees, and associates of Jackson, Randall Sullivan delivers an intimate, unflinching, and deeply human portrait of a man who was never quite understood by the media, his fans, or even those closest to him. Traces the story of Michael Jackson’s life from his famous childhood through his final four years, drawing on interviews with his friends, enemies, and other associates to cover his international travels, business acumen, and parenting decisions”.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPrince / Matt Thorne.
“Legendarily reticent, perverse and misleading, Prince is one of the few remaining 80s superstars who still, perhaps, remains unexplained. Now a firm fixture in the pop canon, where such classics as “Purple Rain”, “Sign o’ the Times” and “Parade” regularly feature in Best Ever Album polls, Prince is still, as he ever was, an enigma. Matt Thorne’s “Prince”, through years of research and interviews with ex-Revolution members such as Wendy and Lisa, is an account of a pop maverick whose experiments with rock, funk, techno and jazz revolutionized pop. With reference to every song, released and unreleased, over 35 years of recording, Prince will stand for years to come as the go-to book on the Great Man”.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJoni : the creative odyssey of Joni Mitchell / Katherine Monk.
“Biographies of Joni Mitchell are attempted every few years, but the definitive one will have to wait until the singer-songwriter tells her own story. In the meantime, Monk’s is the closest thing to essential reading. She describes her book as a “rambling adventure into the creative soul,” and it follows Mitchell’s path to popular and critical success as well as her self-imposed exile from that success, while frankly addressing the highs and lows of her career and personal life. One intriguing aspect of the book is Monk’s pursuit of a kind of Mitchell-approved reading list (because of her subject’s own interest in philosophy). Monk uses Martin Heidegger, Joseph Campbell, and especially Friedrich Nietzsche to tell Mitchell’s story and shape the narrative of her creative odyssey.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverDays that I’ll remember : spending time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono / Jonathan Cott.
“A contributing editor to Rolling Stone since its inception, Jonathan Cott met myriad musicians, but few-if any-made as deep an impression on him as John Lennon. Cott’s many discussions and interviews (including one conducted just three days before Lennon’s assassination, reproduced here in its entirety) reveal the two rhapsodically rapping about the meaning of “Strawberry Fields,” dealing with fame, Yoko’s alleged role in the breakup of the Beatles (”I think that each of the Beatles was too strong and tough an individual to have been influenced by me in any way” is her response), and the impact of psychologist Arthur Janov’s primal therapy treatment on the duo’s relationship and work together. Cott does a solid job of creating intimacy between Lennon and the reader, something fans of the much-missed musician will likely relish.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverRide a white swan : the lives and death of Marc Bolan / Lesley-Ann Jones.
“From mod folk artist to flower power pixie elfin to the king of glam rockers, Marc Bolan was the ultimate chameleon. His far reaching musical and stylistic influence is more relevant today than ever with hits such as ‘Ride A White Swan’, ‘Children Of The Revolution’, ‘Get It On’ and ‘Hot Love’ as fresh and exhilarating as when first released. At last, in the 35th anniversary year of his tragic death, Marc Bolan represents the definite biography. Here rock biographer, Lesley-Ann Jones, paints a meticulous portrait of the T-Rex front man. From his childhood growing up in Hackney to his untimely death at the age of 29, Bolan’s life was one of relentless experimentation and metamorphoses.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverA light that never goes out : the enduring saga of the Smiths / Tony Fletcher.
“Indie cult heavyweights the Smiths never charted a single higher than number 10, but they are widely considered to be an important musical component of British pop music of the 1980s. Their enigmatic vocalist and lyricist, Morrissey, is a bit of a hero to the disaffected, which only adds to his and the band’s angsty cachet. Of course, they broke up in 1987, but with rumored reunions that never materialized and the individual members’ post-Smiths activities (as a solo), Morrissey has cracked Top 10 lists), their self-conscious legend lives on. In relating the story of the band, Fletcher centers on Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, digging deep in terms of the details of the band’s creative process and progress but with plenty of time for conjecture about the comprehensively enigmatic Morrissey.” (Booklist)

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Classical Music

This month’s Classical finds seem to have a bit of a biographical theme running through them. I hope you enjoy rediscovering a familiar topic, or being enthralled by a new one.

Syndetics book coverBenjamin Britten : a life in the twentieth century / Paul Kildea.
“In the eyes of many, Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell (a figure who often inspired him) three hundred years earlier. He broke decisively with the romantic, nationalist school of figures such as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form. With Peter Grimes (1945), Billy Budd (1951) and The Turn of the Screw (1954), he arguably composed the last operas – from any composer in any country – which have entered both the popular consciousness and the musical canon”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverRichard Wagner : the sorcerer of Bayreuth / Barry Millington.
“Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential – and also one of the most controversial – composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner’s life, work and times”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverGreat operas : a guide to 25 of the world’s finest musical experiences / Michael Steen.
“From Great Composers author Michael Steen, a unique multi-platform project offering a royal box view into one of mankind’s greatest art forms. From the soaring heights of Wagner’s epic Ring cycle to the tear-jerking emotion of Mozart’s breathtakingly beautiful Don Giovanni, opera is one of the most powerful artistic forms mankind has ever created. It should also be the most enjoyable! Michael Steen’s The Lives and Times of the Great Composers was described as ‘hugely informative and deliciously gossipy’ by the Spectator. Great Operas is his accessible and entertaining user’s manual to making the best of an opera – whether at home or at a live performance, interspersing the key facts with erudite commentary from a man for whom opera is a lifetime’s passion”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMozart at the gateway to his fortune : serving the Emperor, 1788-1791 / Christoph Wolff.
“This book examines the final years of Mozart’s life from a fresh perspective. The working premises are that Mozart’s appointment to the imperial court in 1787 affected a profound change in his musical plans; that there is no reason to view Mozart’s last compositions as imbued with the specter of his imminent death; and that one ought instead view the last compositions as products of an outlook determined in part by the imperial appointment. The sheer common sense of these premises is so striking that one wonders how any alternative view could be considered”. (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverHow to read music / [James Sleigh & Mike Sheppard].
“If you want to learn how to read and write music, this is the book you have been waiting for! Written in plain English and using a minimum of jargon, it’s supplemented by audio material and other extras all available at www.hybridpublications.com This means that you get lots of examples of how things should sound plus many other online bonuses, all clearly flagged on the relevant page in the book”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConducting business : unveiling the mystery behind the maestro / Leonard Slatkin.
“Conducting an orchestra is something that is seen as well as heard, but it is quite misunderstood. People may wonder, “What does this person actually do for a living?” This most mysterious of jobs is brought to life in this book. Drawing on his own experiences on and off the podium, Leonard Slatkin tells tales of some of the most fascinating people in the musical world, including Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams. He takes the reader to soundstages in Hollywood as well as great concert halls and opera pits around the globe. Slatkin recounts his controversial appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, his creation and direction of summer music festivals, and a shattering concert experience that took place four days after 9/11. Discussions of work in the recording studio and life on the road as well as health issues confronting the conductor provide an insider’s glimpse into this private world.–From publisher description”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEverything you ever wanted to know about classical music but were too afraid to ask / [Darren Henley and Sam Jackson].
“This is a richly informative, light-hearted guide to the ins and outs of classical music. The book dives underneath the sheet music to bring the world of classical music to life. Henley offers insights into the composition of an orchestra, the workings of its instruments, and the lives of its composers”. (Syndetics summary)

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Buyer’s Choice

Hi everyone, Deborah and I are the fiction selectors for Wellington City Libraries and we spend a lot of time reading about, and choosing, lovely new fiction for the library.

Syndetics book coverHawk quest.
This is the first novel by Robert Lyndon, who is also a falconer, and it’s set in 1072 after the Normans have captured England. A warrior called Vallon must save a Norman knight who’s been kidnapped by the Turks by capturing four rare hawks. This quest sets him on a journey around the world and on the adventure of a lifetime. Labelled a ‘historical adventure epic’ and described as well written, evocative and filled with wonderful period detail and characters, it sounds too good to miss. In fact several reviewers have said it was the best book they had read in a long time – so reserve it now!

Syndetics book coverForgotten country.
This is a beautifully written debut novel set around the lives of two sisters. Growing up in the American Midwest, the older and more dutiful Janie has borne the lion’s share of the responsibility of looking after the younger, more lovable but manipulative Hannah. These ties are suddenly cut, however, when Hannah inexplicably but purposefully disappears while away at College. Jamie sets out to find her, mindful of her grandmother’s warning that ever since the Japanese invasion of Korea, the family has lost a daughter in every generation. This is not a mystery story; rather it is a story of one family’s survival through the turbulent and cruel years of twentieth century Korea, their adjustment to life in a foreign land, and of their reconciliation with the past and their future.

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People & Places Newsletter for April

Catalysts for change is the common theme running throughout much of this April’s picks.

Now that America’s first black president is serving his second term of office it is hard to realise that half a century ago a humble Afro-American seamstress in the south of the country made history by refusing to give up her seat to a white man in a segregated bus. By so doing she started a revolution. This month we salute brave Rosa Parks.Many of this month’s picks focus on people who have bettered the lives of others – such as Charles Dickens in highlighting the horrors of London workhouses, who earned their living by serving others such as the domestic servants featured here, or who lived life on the margins.

Biography

Syndetics book coverLord of the isle : the extravagant life and times of Colin Tennant / Nicholas Courtney.
“This is the biography of the late Lord Glenconner, the lord born to a rich Victorian industrial family who used his wealth to live an eccentric lifestyle of self-indulgence from the 1940s to his death in 2010.”(www.globalbooksinprint.com)

Syndetics book coverDrinking with men / Rosie Schaap.
“Drinking memoirs generally fall into two categories: Never again and Pour me another. Schaap, who writes the Drink column for the New York Times Magazine, has composed one of the latter, an ode to the great tradition of regularhood advocating equal regularhood rights for women. From her teenage discovery of the bar car on the Metro-North New Haven Line; to her college years at the Pig, in North Bennington, Vermont; to a marriage-ending epiphany at Else’s, in Montreal, Schaap charts her path from adolescence to adulthood, bar by bar, sometimes having a few too many but always finding the sense of community and belonging she clearly craves.”(Provided by publisher).

Syndetics book coverDickens and the workhouse : Oliver Twist and the London poor / Ruth Richardson.
“Medical historian Richardson (The Making of Mr. Gray’s Anatomy) joined the cause to preserve a London building that had once been the Strand Union Workhouse (as the British say) Cleveland Street. She made what she calls “the remarkable finding” that Dickens lived only a few doors away as a toddler and again in his late teens. Never mind that Dickens’s London addresses have long been known and that he placed the Oliver Twist workhouse 75 miles north of London (an area he visited where there was a workhouse)-Richardson wants to make the case for this workhouse as the basis for the famous workhouse scenes in Oliver Twist. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe rebellious life of Mrs. Rosa Parks / Jeanne Theoharis.
“In her introduction to this biography, Brooklyn College political scientist Theoharis (coauthor of Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside of the South) notes the common perception of Rosa Parks (1913-2005): “hidden in plain sight, celebrated and paradoxically relegated to be a hero for children.” Into that gap, Theoharis submits a lavishly well-documented study of Parks’s life and career as an activist. In tracing her work with the Montgomery NAACP and other groups from the 1930s onwards, and then following her move from Alabama after the 1956 bus boycott to Detroit, Theoharis maps a lifetime devoted to civil rights, thereby destabilizing our notions of Parks as a “tired seamstress” who simply kept her seat on a bus one day in 1955.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverOutsiders : stories from the fringe of New Zealand society / Gerard Hindmarsh.
“A social history of New Zealand’s outsiders, such as Arawata Bill, The Chaffeys, George Wilder and others – those who choose to live out on the fringes of society, and whose free and unrestricted lives offer an important counterbalance to the structured urban world most of us inhabit”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe real Jane Austen : a life in small things / Paula Byrne.
“Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (first published in January 1813), comes Paula Byrne’s vivacious new portrait of its author. The approach Byrne (Jane Austen and the Theatre) takes is refreshingly material-based and the book is experimental in structure; each chapter unfolds from the biographer’s description of a small object associated with Austen’s life (chapter titles include “The East Indian Shawl”, “The Cocked Hat” “The Card of Lace”, “The Crimson Velvet Cushions”, and “The Topaz Crosses”). This technique serves two functions: firstly, it honors the precision for which Austen was famed by drawing attention to the material artifacts of her life; secondly, it challenges the “`official’ family biography””. (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverClimbing the stairs / Margaret Powell.
“Margaret Powell was born in 1907 in Hove, and left school at the age of 13 to start working. At 14, she got a job in a hotel laundry room, and a year later went into service as a kitchen maid, eventually progressing to the position of cook, before marrying a milkman called Albert. In 1968 the first volume of her memoirs, Below Stairs, was published to instant success and turned her into a celebrity. She followed this up with Climbing the Stairs, The Treasure Upstairs and The Margaret Powell Cookery Book. She died in 1984.”(Summary from www/globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverLiterary outlaw : the life and times of William S. Burroughs / Ted Morgan.
“Another dazzling literary portrait from the author of Maugham [BKL F 15 80]. This time Morgan has chosen a subject whose life and work are so inextricable that, unlike the effort required to unravel Maugham’s attempts to disguise his real nature, what is required here is a candor and openness to match the subject’s notoriety and vulnerability. A homosexual and drug addict, Burroughs pursued an individual course in his life and art with a purpose and intensity that would set him apart from other members of the countercultural circle that he helped make famous– let alone from more orthodox intellectual and artistic circles.Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist).

Syndetics book coverOn Helwig Street : a memoir / Richard Russo.
“In its heyday Gloversville, New York was a prosperous beacon of the leather-goods industry, famously producing nine out of ten pairs of American gloves. But by the time Richard Russo was growing up there in the 1950s, the only son of a largely absent father and a mother, Jean, who suffered from ‘nerves’, Gloversville had fallen victim to changing fashions and gone bust. A better life elsewhere was the dream Jean instilled in her son and strived to secure for them both. Vividly recalling the road trips and adventures that took them far from Gloversville but always led them back home, Russo describes how childhood segued into adulthood and parenthood in the company of his restless mother. At the same time he recounts with touching honesty how the literary success that enriched his own life was at odds with the disappointment that punctuated hers.” (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

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Travel stories & guides

New travel stories. Love with a chance of drowning.

Syndetics book coverLove with a chance of drowning : a memoir / Torre DeRoche.
“Love can make a person do crazy things… A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific aboard a leaky sailboat – total crew of two – struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat. But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has to face a hard decision: watch the man she’s in love with sail away forever, or head off on the watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins her lover on a year-long voyage across the Pacific.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJungleland : a mysterious lost city, a WWII spy, and a true story of deadly adventure / Christopher S. Stewart.
“”… Stewart’s chronicle relates his 2008 odyssey to Honduras. He sought a place of rumored existence called the White City, with which he became obsessed upon learning that, in 1940, colorful adventurer Theodore Morde announced its discovery, though he kept proprietarily circumspect about its exact location. Morde then became an OSS agent but never returned to Honduras. With the assistance of Morde’s journal, an experienced American archaeologist, and local Honduran guides, Stewart sallied forth for the tropical forest where lurked the White City. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBearback : the world overland / Pat Garrod.
“‘Inspired’, ‘enthralling’ and ’stylish’ are just some of the words used to describe the first edition of Bearback. Now in paperback, Pat Garrod’s remarkable story is set to be discovered by even more travellers.. Imagine jacking it all in, packing your life into a 41-litre pannier and riding into the sunset. Bearback is the story of two GPs who did just that, downing stethoscopes to take off on their motorcycle, The Bear, to see the world. Across the deserts of Africa, over the mountains of the Andes, deep into the jungles of Indochina, and beyond the Arctic Circle; 100,000 miles through six continents and 64 countries. A circumnavigation of epic proportion and entirely unsupported, it was to become one of the longest journeys ever undertaken by a couple on one motorcycle, a journey destined to change their lives forever.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFarewell, Fred Voodoo : a letter from Haiti / Amy Wilentz.
“Describes the author’s long and painful relationship with Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake, tracing the country’s turbulent history and its status as a symbol of human rights activism and social transformation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe golden shore : California’s love affair with the sea / David Helvarg.
“”In this ambitious work, journalist and conservationist Helvarg (Saved by the Sea) successfully relates the myriad ways in which Californians engage with their beloved Pacific. …Unsurprisingly, Helvarg starts with surfing, specifically the Mavericks big-wave contest at Half Moon Bay. He covers California’s Native population from the earliest arrivals to a recent victory requiring the removal of dams on the Klamath River to return it and its fishing to a more natural state. Environmental issues appear throughout, though Helvarg also devotes entire chapters to shipping. …In two late chapters Helvarg describes a coastal drive from Mexico to Oregon, and then concludes with thoughts on how Californians will face ongoing environmental trials, such as a projected sea level rise of three feet or more. 12 b&w photos. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKorea / this edition written and researched by Simon Richmond, Timothy N Hornyak, Shawn Low.Korea
“”The Korean Peninsula is a true travel gem: the South, a high-tech nation with a reverence for tradition and the ways of old Asia; the North, a challenging, geopolitical enigma.”Simon Richmond, Lonely Planet Writer .” (Amazon.co.uk.)

Syndetics book coverBack roads Ireland / contributors, Donna Daily … [et. al].
“Unearth the real soul of this magical region with all the practical information you could need, from road conditions and length of drive to parking information and opening hours. Twenty-five themed drives, each lasting one to seven days, reveal breathtaking views, hidden gems and authentic local experiences that can only be discovered by road. Each tour is bursting with insider knowledge and loaded with ideas for varied activities from walks to days on the beach and children’s attractions, to wine and cycling trips.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverTokyo on foot : travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods / text and illustrations by Florent Chavouet.
“In this first English edition of a graphic memoir of a young French graphic artist of his stay in Tokyo in 2006, Chavouet presents his sketches evidently inspired by Japanese cartoon styles, hand-drawn maps, and impressions of the sights, sounds, and cultural quirks of the neighborhoods of what he notes has been called “the most beautiful of ugly cities.” The book was originally published in 2009 by Editions Philippe Picquier, and awarded a prize that year at the International Festival of Geography. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Kombi trail : across three continents in a VW van / Robert Cox, Roger Sherwin, Tony Thompson.
“Cambridge, 1961. A group of students set off on the trip of a lifetime. Against the backdrop of the Cold War they travel through the Soviet Union to the Middle East, South Asia and on to Africa. Their mode of transport? The iconic VW Kombi.This book tells the story of that trip, not just the people they met and the places they saw, but the many experiences – sometimes nerve-wracking, sometimes bizarre – that they encountered along the way. It provides a fascinating insight into a world on the brink of change – seen through the eyes of nine young men fresh from university. ….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere, there, elsewhere : stories from the road / William Least Heat-Moon.
“”It’s collected-works time for the renowned author of such outstanding travel literature as Blue Highways (1983) and River-Horse (1999). Thirty magazine pieces comprise this assembly, with some articles ranging abroad, such as the author’s depictions of his ventures to New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Britain. Most, however, amble around America or radiate from the author’s home states of Missouri and Kansas. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

Below is a selection of the latest history books we have received in March. It is an ecclectic mix that deserves your attention!

Syndetics book coverIke and Dick : portrait of a strange political marriage / Jeffrey Frank.
“Examines the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, from the politics that divided them to the marriage that united their families. Despite being separated by age and temperament, their association evolved into a collaboration that helped to shape the nation’s political ideology, foreign policy, and domestic goals.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe birth of the West : Rome, Germany, France, and the creation of Europe in the tenth century / Paul Collins.
“The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagne’s empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. To many historians, it was a prime example of the ignorance and uncertainty of the Dark Ages. Yet according to historian Paul Collins, the story of the tenth century is the story of our culture’s birth, of the emergence of our civilization into the light of day. The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It is a fascinatingnarrative that thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe presidents club : inside the world’s most exclusive fraternity / Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.
“The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Timemagazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hopkins touch : Harry Hopkins and the forging of the alliance to defeat Hitler / David L. Roll.
“The Hopkins Touchoffers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt’s administration.
David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal’s implementation, became the linchpin in FDR’s–and America’s–relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president’s. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his stomach, the newly widowed Hopkins accepted the president’s invitation to move into the White House in 1940 and remained Roosevelt’s closest advisor, speechwriter, sounding board, and friend nearly to the end. Between 1940 and 1945, with incomparable skill and indefatigable determination, Hopkins organized the Lend-Lease program and steered the president to prepare the public for war with Germany. He became FDR’s problem-solver and fixer, helping to smooth over crises, such as when the British refused to allow an invasion of Europe in 1943, enraging Stalin, who felt that the Soviet Union was carrying the military effort against the Nazis. Lacking an official title or a clear executive branch portfolio, Hopkins could take the political risks his boss could not, and proved crucial to maintaining personal relations among the Big Three. Beloved by some–such as Churchill, who believed that Hopkins “always went to the root of the matter”–and trusted by most–including the paranoid Stalin–there were nevertheless those who resented the influence of “the White House Rasputin.”
Based on newly available sources,The Hopkins Touchis an absorbing, substantial new work that offers a fresh perspective on the World War II era and the Allied leaders, through the life of the man who kept them on point until the war was won.” (Syndetics summary)

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New Zealand

This month the New Zealand Collection features history of Antarctica and also some great new and revised New Zealand history. This includes an item that focuses on teaching history to secondary school students. The last book is a study of issues faced by whānau in Māori education.

Syndetics book coverA history of Antarctica / Stephen Martin.
“This revised and expanded book – first published in 1996 – traces the patterns of human activity in Antarctica, from the southern journeys of the 16th century to the modern expeditions of adventurers and tourists. Using material from diaries, letters, and fresh research, the book illuminates the main themes of Antarctic history with the personal stories and images of the men and women who explored, worked, and lived in this frozen and remote continent. The book examines such topics as the early Polynesian explorers, the amazing diversity of flora and fauna, the detailed geological features, etc. A History of Antarctica is about the people of Antarctica – those who have chosen to endure the risks and enjoy the rewards of conquering the world’s most forbidding land.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSurveying the Antarctic : the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition 1957-1958 / Eugene Brian Fitzgerald.
“This volume is the story of the first New Zealand Official Government Expedition to Antarctica. It is based on the diary, notes and memory of the author, together with the letters and accounts written by other members of the expedition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImages from Albertland : Harold Marsh, 1876-1948 / Paul Campbell.
“William Harold Marsh, farmer, father and adventurous photographer captured a time of enchantment, when life was lived at a slower place, governed by a different set of values and priorities and ambitions. One of the first generation of those immigrants who sailed around the world to settle in Albertland, 70,000 coastal acres on the Kaipara Harbour, in Northland, New Zealand, he has left a legacy of those times, a window into the past for those yet to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Heaphy Track / Chris Petyt.
“Heaphy he never actually followed the whole route. He along with Thomas Brunner and Kehu, their Maori guide, travelled down the coast in 1846 from the north and only traversed the coastal section of the track from the Heaphy River to the Kohaihai River. The first Europeans to traverse the route are only recorded as “Aldridge and his mate”. Following the discovery of gold in the Aorere Valley in late 1865, the route of the Heaphy Track was used by gold miners to traverse between the Aorere Goldfield and those that were subsequently discovered on the West Coast. Author Chris Petyt has dug deep and wide to assemble this first comprehensive account of the human history of the Heaphy Track. Today, the Heaphy is one of New Zealand’s premier walking tracks and the longest of the multi-day tracks designated by the Department of Conservation as Great Walks. Those contemplating a trip over the track will also find it useful as the final chapter is a guide to walking the track.” (Syndetics summary)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for February

This month of Music & Movies kicks off with another literary adaptation, Don DeLillo’s ‘Cosmopolis’. Further highlights include Simon Sweetman’s tour through New Zealand’s pop landscape in ‘On Song’; critically acclaimed musical biopic ‘The Sapphires’; and Willie Nelson stakes his claim for autobiography title of the year with ‘Roll me up and smoke me when I die’.

DVDs

New DVDs for February include adaptations of Duncan Sarkies’ ‘Two Little Boys’ & Don DeLillos’ ‘Cosmopolis’; the true stories that inspired Jack Black’s ‘Bernie’ & the feel-good ‘The Sapphires’; & new UK TV shows ‘The Jury’, ‘Pramface’ & ‘Silk’…

Cover imageCosmopolis.
“The union of director David Cronenberg and Twilight star Robert Pattinson is hardly a predictable one, but the pair prove quite the combination with Cosmopolis. A drama set across 24 hours in New York City, the film sees Pattinson as Eric, a rich asset manager on a trip across Manhattan in a luxury limousine. But it’s no ordinary trip: with Manhattan preparing for the visit of the President of the United States, things soon start to go very, very wrong for Eric. Cronenberg wrote the script as well as directing here, and Cosmopolis is a challenging, slow film, that treats its audience with intelligence. Pattinson works hard in the lead role, with considerable success, and the supporting players, including Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche and Samantha Morton are excellent, too. Cosmopolis may not be as accessible as Cronenberg’s films that more immediately preceded it, but it’s a film with real substance to it, from a genuinely great director…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageBernie.
“.. “What you’re fixin’ to see is a true story”… sets the perfect down-home tone for the charming, if occasionally gruesome story of an East Texas funeral director named Bernie Tiede, whose sociable selflessness, empathetic demeanor, and guileless personality won him the friendship of the whole town of Carthage, especially the little old ladies. He even captivated the good graces of the meanest and richest old lady of them all, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), eventually becoming her business manager and constant companion. But even with the patience of Job and the compassion of Jesus, eventually Bernie couldn’t take it anymore and in a fit of pique shot her in the back four times then dumped her body in a freezer. That synopsis hardly seems the stuff of a lighthearted comedy that energizes a large ensemble of endearing characters. But in the hands of director Richard Linklater (who cowrote the script with Skip Hollandsworth, who originally reported the story for Texas Monthly magazine), the tale is simultaneously knee-slappingly funny and head-shakingly poignant…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePramface.
“Meet Jamie, 16, and Laura, 18. They are two teenagers who after one too many drinks, some deceptive party lighting and an available bedroom find they have one very big complication on their hands. Laura is pregnant. Only problem is, she’s meant to be heading off to university and Jamie is way too young to be considering raising a kid. Prior to this, the extent of his responsibilities was doing his homework and managing his pocket money. Pramface brings humour and heart to a tricky subject, as it follows these two unexpected parents-to-be as they try, and frequently fail, to negotiate family, sex and what happens once nine months is up…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe Sapphires.
“The Sapphires is an inspirational tale set in the heady days of the late 60s when four young, talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission are discovered and guided by an unlikely manager. Starring AFI award-winner Deborah Mailman (Offspring), platinum selling artist Jessica Mauboy and Bridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd, this feel-good hit is based on the successful Australian stage musical and inspired by a remarkable true story. Plucked from obscurity and branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes. The Sapphires grasp the opporturnity of a lifetime when invited to entertain American troops in Vietnam. Their journey of discovery offers them not only the chance to show off their musical skills, but find love and togetherness and grow as women…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSilk. [Series 1].
“Single, attractive, thirty something Martha Costello is a brilliant, passionate defence barister with the unwavering belief that all are innocent until proven guilty. Martha is about to apply to become Queen’s Counsel; she is applying for ‘Silk’, but she’s not the only one at her chambers– Clive Reader is charming, ruthless and dangerous, and knows how to play the game– Only one of them will be made QC and Senior Clerk, Billy Lamb, is the man with everyone’s lives and careers in his hands. Martha’s conscience and faith in the criminal justice system are tested to breaking point as she deals with clients who are good, bad and downright evil…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSleep tight.
“Spanish psychological horror from director Jaume Balagueró. The film follows César (Luis Tosar), the concierge to the residents at a wealthy apartment building. César seems extraordinarily helpful and polite and is consequently adored by the residents, but little do they know that he is in fact a man so incapable of happiness and human feeling that he makes it his goal in life to make others as miserable as he is. He focuses much of his attention on Clara (Martra Etura), a beautiful young woman whose vivacity and spontaneous sense of happiness make her his opposite in almost every way. With his usual blend of underhand tricks, which include sneaking into her apartment to rig unpleasant surprises and even hiding beneath her bed, César begins to unnerve Clara. When her boyfriend Marcos (Alberto San Juan) unexpectedly returns the situation quickly escalates towards a point of no return…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAfterschool.
“A disturbing and completely compelling story dealing with teen suicide and the fascination we have for voyeurism, at the expense of common decency. Robert is a young student at an elite boarding school on America’s East Coast. Robert is a loner whose world revolves around porn sites and surfing the net. As part of a film study course, Robert accidentally films the deaths of twin sisters, an apparent joint suicide. Robert has every opportunity to help, to intervene, but calmly films on– Everyone is outrages– his scandalous behaviour causes almost as much shock as the girls’ deaths. However, the film strangely immortalizes the girls– as students, teachers and the girls’ parents struggle to come to terms with the tragedy…’ (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageTwo little boys.
“The film follows Nige and his best mate Deano’s riotous misadventures as they struggle with their imploding friendship which has been put under pressure by an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star. Nige chucks the dead body in a nearby roadworks hole and runs to Deano for help. Trouble is, Deano’s not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe jury.
“Written by Peter Morgan (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen), The Jury is a compelling, character based drama series which focuses on the everyday people who find themselves at the centre of one of the most controversial criminal re-trials of their time. Focusing on the retrial of a man sentenced for the murder of three women–all killed following internet dates. A key piece of evidence was deliberately ignored by the CPS, possibly because the police were under pressure for a quick conviction and blackmail was being used over a senior person involved with the investigation who was having an affair. Ultimately, we will see the man acquitted but it will be an “imperfect, messy, human triumph for the jury by acquitting the man”. Gripping, dark and emotionally charged as jurors are forced to face their prejudices as they come to grips with the complexities and unwanted attention of being a key player in such a high profile Old Bailey trial…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe devil’s double.
“Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein’s palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is thrust into the highest echelons of the “royal family” when he’s ordered to become the ‘fiday’ – or body double – to Saddam’s son, the notorious “Black Prince” Uday Hussein (also Dominic Cooper), a reckless, sadistic party-boy with a rabid hunger for sex and brutality. With his and his family’s lives at stake, Latif must surrender his former self forever as he learns to walk, talk and act like Uday. But nothing could have prepared him for the horror of the Black Prince’s psychotic, drug-addled life of fast cars, easy women and impulsive violence. With one wrong move costing him his life, Latif forges an intimate bond with Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday’s seductive mistress who’s haunted by her own secrets. But as war looms with Kuwait and Uday’s depraved gangster regime threatens to destroy them all, Latif realises that escape from the devil‘s den will only come at the highest possible cost. Featuring a riveting double performance by Dominic Cooper (An Education, Mamma Mia) in the roles of Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein, The Devil’s Double is a dynamic, chilling adaptation of Latif Yahia’s autobiographical novel, charting one man’s defiant struggle to survive a viper’s pit of corruption and brutality…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

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Popular Music

New books on popular music this month include Madonna’s new book which features fantastic photos and the comprehensive biography of Freddie Mercury. Also, we have two new books from very popular Dummies ‘how to play’ series.

Syndetics book coverMadonna style / by Carol Clerk ; with Stacey Appel.
“This updated edition now includes details of Madonna’s new 2012 album and subsequent World Tour, her advertising campaigns for Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana, her clothing lines for H&M and her own Material Girl label as well as her Hard Candy album and videos for Celebration, Four Minutes and Beat Goes On.Here is a dazzling exploration of a unique pop-culture goddess. How does she do it? The answer comes in the form of this sumptuous collection of Madonna’s style effects. Every visual aspect of Madonna is shown including her wildly inventive catalogue of personae that she and her style army have conjured over the years. The result is an absolutely stunning one-woman fashion show that spans nearly half a century.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverStone alone : the story of a rock ‘n’ roll band / with Ray Coleman.
“YA– Wyman, bass player for the Rolling Stones, leaves no word unturned in this comprehensive, readable, witty account of the group from its beginnings as a struggling rhythm-and-blues band in 1962 to its superstar status and the death of founder and lead guitarist Brian Jones in 1969. With the help of veteran rock journalist Coleman, Wyman turns his exhaustive diary and other files into this well-written tome on the band and the London music scene of the ’60s. While the book contains a wealth of material and information, it offers few startling insights into the Stones as a group or individually. However, Stone Alone will certainly gather no moss on most library shelves”(School Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverA light that never goes out : the enduring saga of the Smiths / Tony Fletcher.
“Indie cult heavyweights the Smiths never charted a single higher than number 10, but they are widely considered to be an important musical component of British pop music of the 1980s. Their enigmatic vocalist and lyricist, Morrissey, is a bit of a hero to the disaffected, which only adds to his and the band’s angsty cachet. Of course, they broke up in 1987, but with rumored reunions that never materialized and the individual members’ post-Smiths activities (as a solo), Morrissey has cracked Top 10 lists), their self-conscious legend lives on. In relating the story of the band, Fletcher centers on Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, digging deep in terms of the details of the band’s creative process and progress but with plenty of time for conjecture about the comprehensively enigmatic Morrissey.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFreddie Mercury : the great pretender : a life in pictures / [text, Sean O’Hagan ; captions, Greg Brooks and Phil Symes ; art direction, Richard Gray].
“Iconic Queen front man, Freddie Mercury (1946-91) had always been a flamboyant, larger-than-life figure. This lavish, oversized book of photographs is a fitting tribute to his life and work. The book includes images from every stage of Mercury’s life, from his childhood in Zanzibar and India to his early musical career in England and his rise to international fame fronting Queen. Although filled with many images of Mercury striking his trademark dramatic stage poses, the book also reveals the singer’s more personal, vulnerable side-a distinct and fascinating contrast.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverBlues harmonica for dummies / by Winslow Yerxa.
“Blues harmonica is the most popular and influential style of harmonica playing, and it forms the basis for playing harmonica in other styles such as rock and country. Blues Harmonica for Dummies gives you a wealth of content devoted to the blues approach—specific techniques and applications, including bending and making your notes sound richer and fuller with tongue-blocked enhancements; use of amplification to develop a blues sound; blues licks and riffs; constructing a blues harmonica solo; accompanying singers; historical development of blues styles; and important blues players and recordings.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverGuitar for dummies / by Mark Phillips and Jon Chappell.
“The music guides in the popular “For Dummies” series all follow the same basic format, which includes much of the same information found in the other self-instruction resources reviewed here, but in more detail-getting started with the instrument, chords and melodies, playing technique, stylistic characteristics, and choosing instruments. Unlike most of the other series, the details of some techniques, such as fingerpicking, are covered in the chapters on style instead of getting chapters or sections of their own. These volumes also don’t cover reading music, though scored examples are included: players who don’t read are advised to pick up chords and melodies by ear from the accompanying CD. Best for teens and adults with some musical background, not necessarily with the guitar.”(Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverOnSong : stories behind New Zealand’s pop classics / Simon Sweetman.
“On Song is a lively journey through New Zealand’s diverse pop landscape. Prolific music journalist Simon Sweetman has interviewed the writers and performers of beloved Kiwi classics, presenting ‘in conversation’ text that illuminates the fascinating stories behind the pop songs we all know and love, all complemented with a plethora of artists’ personal imagery and archival photography” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverThe million sellers / contributors, Tim Brock … [et al.].
“Published to mark the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Official Singles Charts in 1952, The Million Sellers tells the story of every million-selling single in the history of the UK music industry. An analysis of the 123 singles which have passed the magical million sales threshold in the UK in the past 60 years, from Bill Haley & The Comets very first UK million-seller right through to more recent singles by Lady Gaga, Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas. Interviews with some of the artists reflecting on their memories of their million sellers and what they remember of the success at the time At a-glance facts and data outlining the songwriters, producers, albums and total sales figures for the million selling track.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverMake up to breakup : my life in and out of Kiss / Peter Criss with Larry “Ratso” Sloman.
“Criss, the original drummer of Kiss and the third member of the band to pen a memoir, delivers an entertaining autobiography written with Sloman, who coauthored Scar Tissue, the memoir by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis. But while bass player Gene Simmons (KISS and Make Up) focused on the sex and lead guitarist Ace Frehley (No Regrets) detailed the drugs, the appealing part of Criss’s account is that he keeps the focus on the rock and roll, which results in the best-and most honest-account of Kiss craziness during the band’s heyday in the 1970s. The book’s most interesting section explores Criss’s early life as a street punk turned hardcore jazz fan in the 1960s; this may be the first time the name Thelonious Monk has appeared in a book on Kiss.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe future is the beginning : the words and wisdom of Bob Marley / Bob Marley ; introduction by Cedella Marley ; edited by Gerald Hausman.
“Taken from interviews and edited by Marley/Rastafarianism expert Gerald Hausman, this book highlights the famed reggae musician’s personal and spiritual beliefs.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverNoel Gallagher : the biography / Lucian Randall.
“Noel Gallagher is a well-known for his singer-songwriter talent as he is for his controversial, outspoken statements and his tempestuous relationships. With the renowned Britpop band, Oasis, Noel found worldwide acclaim and influenced and musical style of a generation. But what is the truth about the boy from Manchester? This book maps out Noel’s story from the beginning. It takes you from his dysfunctional upbringing in Manchester to the man we know now.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverRoll me up and smoke me when I die : musings from the road / Willie Nelson ; foreword by Kinky Friedman ; illustrations by Micah Nelson.
“The latest in a collection of anecdotes and essays from singer-songwriter Nelson (The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes) serves to reinforce his image as a sentimental country veteran who isn’t averse to firing up the occasional joint or two. Peppered with the occasional dirty joke, the book makes for an irreverent, entertaining read. Humble, optimistic, and quick to give credit to those around him for contributing to his success, Nelson is a charming narrator, lurching from subject to subject, but always with a point in mind.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

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Classical Music

The festive season is over, work and school have gone back for another year and its time to put your nose to the grindstone. What better time to take a moment to get inspired and motivated by music! Here are a few selections to help you on your way to musical enlightenment.

Syndetics book coverA parent’s survival guide to music lessons : help your child succeed in music / Elisabeth Lawrence.
“Perhaps you are looking for a way to keep your youngsters occupied during the holidays, or maybe a new violin for Christmas means you need to get them some lessons QUICK! In any case, learning about the ins and outs of music lessons is a good place to start.” (Syndetics summary)

nuinuiTranscriptions [sound recording] / Liszt.
“An album framed around Liszt’s Paraphrases and Transcriptions – this is an impressive and delightful programme which presents Niu Niu as a serious and gifted pianist”. (amazon.co.uk)

brittencarolsA ceremony of carols [sound recording] : op. 28 ; Saint Nicolas : op. 42 / Britten.
“Stephen Layton leads the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Holst Singers in two of Benjamin Britten’s most popular choral works for Christmastide. The cantata Saint Nicolas tells the story of the original Santa Claus, a fourth-century saint whose altruistic acts led to his canonization as patron saint of children and sailors. Britten’s lively setting is distinctly operatic, full of atmosphere and color – with the story brought ‘home’ through the use of congregational hymns.” (Amazon.com Review)

starlight expressThe Starlight Express [sound recording] / Edward Elgar.
“This fairytale melodrama was adapted from a book by Algernon Blackwood A Prisoner in Fairyland for a West End theatre production staged during World War 1 with music by Elgar. Based on a new score which has been adapted by Sir Andrew Davis who also here conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra this is the most comprehensive recorded version to date. The two-disc set includes the incidental music with narrative by Simon Callow and an extended suite of freestanding orchestral movements and songs”. (amazon.com)

coverimage13_1The Piano Guys [sound recording].
“Rather self explanatory, but a wonderful series of pieces that cross genres and bring out the best in this modern ensemble. ‘The Piano Guys’ bring modern works to the table and reinvent them. Anybody else interested to see how they interpret ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and ‘What makes you beautiful’?” (Syndetics summary)

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Fiction Newsleter for January 2013

Welcome to the first Fiction newsletter for the year. We have selected the best of this month’s fiction selections to tempt you. Suspese/thriller novels were featured in this month’s Other Genre selections. Great reading for these lovely lazy summer days.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

From the new contemporary novels chosen this month we have included the second novel from Dawn French titled, Oh dear Sylvia. Another clever humourous read from this very talented woman.

Syndetics book coverGone : a novel / Cathi Hanauer.Gone
“For the past fourteen years, Eve Adams has worked part-time while raising her two children and emotionally supporting her sculptor husband, Eric, through his early fame and success. Now, at forty-two, she suddenly finds herself with a growing career of her own, a private nutritionist practice and a book deal, even as Eric’s career sinks deeper into the slump it lipped into a few years ago. After a dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate Eve’s success, Eric drives the babysitter home and, simply, doesn’t come back. Eve must now shift the family in possibly irreparable ways, forcing her to realize that competence in one area of life doesn’t always keep things from unravelling in another.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverOh dear Silvia / Dawn French.
“Who is in Coma Suite Number 5? A matchless lover, a supreme egotist, a selfless martyr, a bad mother, a cherished sister, a selfish wife, or all of these. This is Silvia Shute, who has always done exactly what she wanted, until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops. Her past holds a terrible secret, and now that she is unconscious in a hospital bed, her constant stream of visitors is set to uncover the mystery of her broken life. Meanwhile she must lay there, victim of the beloveds, the borings, the babblings and the plain bonkers. Like it or not, the truth is about to pay Silvia a visit.” (adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverTrains and lovers / Alexander McCall Smith. “The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails, there’s something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. This is just what happens to the four strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

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Graphic novels

A very diverse selection from our new Graphic novels this month, that illustrates so well the breadth and depth of this collection. The best and a must read is The Red Diary or The Re(a)d diary, by Teddy Kristiansen and Steven T. Seagle, a graphic novel in a class of its own.

Syndetics book coverSunset / created and written by Christos Gage ; art by Jorge Lucas.
“Long ago, Nick Bellamy stole millions from his mob employer, Mr. Gianelli. He left the mob and married the woman he loved. It’s 30 years later, and Nick’s now-comatose wife requires most of his time while his life is less eventful. But Gianelli has found Nick and is determined to destroy his life. Although Nick avoids Gianelli’s every attempt at ending his life, his wife is murdered, and this one-time enforcer returns to violence to get revenge.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFreeway / Mark Kalesniko.
“A 416-page tour de force chronicling a single day, a few hours even, in the life of his recurring dog-headed alter ego, Alex Kalienka. Stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on his way to his increasingly miserable job as an animator at Mickey Walt Studios, a burnt-out and depressed Alex alternately rages, reminisces, fantasises and hallucinates. Then again, are they in fact fantasies or prescient flashes? Is a threatening car tailing Alex just a paranoid fantasy or a genuine threat?” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe red diary ; the re(a)d diary / [Teddy Kristiansen & Steven T. Seagle].
“Artist and writer Kristiansen and writer Seagle, have collaborated in an unconventional way for this beautiful, dual-story graphic novel. Published in French, Kristiansen’s original story chronicles the search of a biographer for the truth behind the life of an unknown artist who died during WWI. Seagle uses the same images to tell a different tale of war, art, and identity, as an old man searches to connect to the diaries of his youth. Seagle, who had not read the original before creating his own story, has done a remarkable job of creating a tale similar in tone and scope to Kristiansen’s original, while also telling a story wholly its own.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

Colin Bateman‘s new mystery, Prisoner of Brenda is highlighted in this month’s great selection of new mysteries for January. Bateman in the king of satire and very dark humour, a joy to read.

Syndetics book coverDie easy : a Charlie Fox thriller / Zoë Sharp.
“In Sharp’s white-knuckle 10th Charlie Fox thriller (after 2012’s Fifth Victim), professional bodyguard Charlie takes on an assignment in post-Katrina New Orleans-the first job with her lover and partner, Sean Meyer, since he recovered from being shot in the head, though he’s forgotten much of their relationship. Tasked with protecting wealthy businessman Blake Dyer during the After Katrina Foundation fundraising event, Charlie is grateful for what appears to be a straightforward task. But when a face from her and Sean’s military past reappears and there’s a calculated attack on the party, Charlie realizes that there might be more at stake than just the financial well-being of several powerful men. Sharp convincingly mixes hand-to-hand combat with the ups and downs of Charlie’s attempts to rebuild her old life with Sean, even as that possibility grows dimmer by the day…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTaboo / Casey Hill.
“Forensic investigator Reilly Steel, Quantico-trained and California-born and bred, imagined Dublin to be a far cry from bustling San Francisco, a sleepy backwater where she can lay past ghosts to rest and start anew. She’s arrived in Ireland to drag the Irish crime lab into the 21st century, plus keep tabs on her Irish-born father who’s increasingly seeking solace in the bottle after a past family tragedy. But a brutal serial killer soon puts paid to that. When a young man and woman are found dead in an apartment, the gunshot wounds on their naked bodies suggest a suicide pact. But Reilly’s instincts are screaming that something’s seriously amiss, and as more bodies are discovered, the team soon realises that a twisted murderer is at work, one who seeks to upset society’s norms in the most sickening way imaginable…” (Adapted from syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe prisoner of Brenda / Bateman.
“When notorious gangster ‘Fat Sam’ Mahood is murdered, the chief suspect is arrested nearby. But he seems to have suffered a breakdown. Incarcerated in a mental institution, he’s known only as the Man in the White Suit. The suspect remains an enigma until Nurse Brenda calls on Mystery Man.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

Included in this month’s selection of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, are the new novels from Piers Anthony and Jim Butcher.

Syndetics book coverLuck of the draw / Piers Anthony.
“Bryce, an 80-year-old man in failing health, suddenly finds himself in Xanth, with his body rejuvenated, his health restored and his future already determined for him. As part of a bet between the Demons Earth and Xanth, Bryce must enter a contest to win the heart of the Princess Harmony, whether she is willing or not.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCold days : a novel of the Dresden files / Jim Butcher.
“Being killed has barely slowed down the Chicago PI, who now serves as the Winter Knight. In that role, Dresden operates as hit man for Mab, the queen of air and darkness, who is forbidden from killing mortals. Not only is his liege capricious and deadly, but Dresden soon finds himself up against new supernatural foes, not least the Redcap, who dyes his headgear with the blood of anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path. The greatest danger, however, may be from Dresden’s new assignment from Mab: to murder her daughter, Maeve.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sacrifice game : book II in the sacrifice game trilogy / Brian D’Amato ; with the illustrations by the author.
“The previous book, In the Courts of the Sun, a team of scientists sent math prodigy and Mayan descendant Jed DeLanda back in time to the year AD 664 to learn the “Sacrifice Game,” a divination ritual that the ancient Maya used to predict the apocalypse on December 21, 2012. But after arriving in the body of a willing human sacrifice instead of a Mayan king, Jed’s experiences led him to the fateful decision that rather than avert the apocalypse, he must ensure instead that the world ends. Using his knowledge of the divination game, Jed sets in motion a series of events that will bring about the destruction of humanity, ending the world’s pain and suffering once and for all. But before the plan can be completed, the organization that sent him into the past discovers his intention and devotes every resource to stop him.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

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Other genres

This month’s selection of Other Genre fiction features Suspense/Thriller novels and includes the latest novel from Michael Connelly titled The Black Box, another dangerous, but intriguing investigation for the popular character Harry Bosch.

Syndetics book coverThe black box : a novel / Michael Connelly.
“In a case that spans 20 years, Harry Bosch links the bullet from a recent crime to a file from 1992, the killing of a young female photographer during the L.A. riots. Harry originally investigated the murder, but it was then handed off to the Riot Crimes Task Force and never solved. Now Bosch’s ballistics match indicates that her death was not random violence, but something more personal, and connected to a deeper intrigue. Like an investigator combing through the wreckage after a plane crash, Bosch searches for the “black box,” the one piece of evidence that will pull the case together.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverShadow Creek : a novel / Joy Fielding.
“Due to a last-minute change in plans, a group of unlikely travelling companions finds themselves on a camping trip in the Adirondacks. They include the soon-to-be-divorced Valerie; her oddball friends, Melissa and James; her moody teenage daughter, Brianne; and Val’s estranged husband’s fiancée, Jennifer. Val is dealing with unresolved feelings toward her ex husband and is grappling with jealousy and resentment toward his younger, prettier new flame, a woman with some serious issues of her own. Brianne is sixteen and openly rebellious, caught up in a web of secrets and lies. What Val and her companions don’t know is that a pair of crazed killers is wreaking havoc in the very same woods. When an elderly couple is found slaughtered and Brianne goes missing, Val finds herself in a nightmare much worse than anything she could have anticipated.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverDid you miss me? / Karen Rose.
“The last thing Ford Elkhart remembers is walking his girlfriend back to her car. Now he’s lying tied and gagged on a cold, dark floor, with only one chance to escape before he ends up like the bones surrounding him. Assistant State’s Attorney Daphne Montgomery is devastated by her son’s disappearance and is immediately convinced that his kidnapping is connected to the white supremacist she’s just had jailed for murder. FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter isn’t so sure, especially when he learns that Ford’s girlfriend is also missing. Is Ford’s abduction payback for Daphne’s courtroom victory, or is he a pawn in an even more dangerous game?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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People & Places Newsletter for December

How time flies. With the Christmas break just around the corner, you’ll be wanting to sort out your holiday reading pronto. Luckily, there’s plenty of ideas in this month’s People & Places newsletter. Highlights include: “Mortality”- fearless, uncompromising writing from Christopher Hitchens in his final days; “Joseph Anton” recounts Salman Rushdie’s journey from fugitive target of the Ayatollah Khomeini to the present; Will Schwalbe’s poignant memoir and frequent pick for Best of 2012 lists “The End of Your Life Book Club” and 100 objects that take you behind the scenes at Te Papa.

Biography

The phrase ” good British biography’ has a certain resonance and most biography-lovers will know what it means. This month’s subjects are all well-known English figures – most of historic importance – and they have been researched and written up by experts in the field or established scribes. Of particular interest is a new study of John Keats – the author was recently the guest-speaker at a seminar on the English Romantic poets at Victoria University and gave a public lecture and newspaper and radio interviews on his subject. We also feature a new work on the Bronte sisters, on Darwin – and Artemis Cooper’s new book on the writer and explorer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Look at the many great books on offer this month and take your pick!!

Syndetics book coverJohn Keats : a new life / Nicholas Roe.
“This landmark biography of celebrated Romantic poet John Keats explodes entrenched conceptions of him as a delicate, overly sensitive, tragic figure. Instead, Nicholas Roe reveals the real flesh-and-blood poet: a passionate man driven by ambition but prey to doubt, suspicion, and jealousy; sure of his vocation while bitterly resentful of the obstacles that blighted his career; devoured by sexual desire and frustration; and in thrall to alcohol and opium. Through unparalleled original research, Roe arrives at a fascinating reassessment of Keats’s entire life.” (Summary by www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverThe Brontës / Juliet Barker.
“The story of the tragic Brontë family is familiar to everyone: we all know about the half-mad, repressive father, the drunken, drug-addled wastrel of a brother, wildly romantic Emily, unrequited Anne, and “poor Charlotte.” Or do we? These stereotypes of the popular imagination are precisely that – imaginary – created by amateur biographers such as Mrs. Gaskell who were primarily novelists and were attracted by the tale of an apparently doomed family of genius.(Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverIs it just me? / Miranda Hart.
“In ‘Is it Just Me?’, Britain’s best loved comedienne, Miranda Hart, laments on the horrors of growing up and offers her younger self some essential advice on grappling with life’s unexpected perils and blunders”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverDarwin : portrait of a genius / Paul Johnson.
“Darwin’s revolutionary career is the perfect vehicle for historian Paul Johnson. Marked by the insightful observation, spectacular wit, and highly readable prose for which Johnson is so well regarded, Darwin brings the gentleman-scientist and his times brilliantly into focus. From Darwin’s birth into great fortune to his voyage aboard the Beagle, to the long-delayed publication of his masterpiece, Johnson delves into what made this Victorian gentleman into a visionary scientist and into the tragic flaws that later led Darwin to support the burgeoning eugenics movement”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverCounting one’s blessings : selected letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother / edited and with a preface by William Shawcross.
“One of the revelations of William Shawcross’s official biography of the Queen Mother was her private correspondence. Indeed the Sunday Times described her letters as ‘wonderful … brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness.Queen Elizabeth was a prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood and her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the person behind the public face. They reveal – in her own words – the little girl writing to her family; the young woman who, eventually, accepted Prince Albert’s proposal; the Duchess of York, embracing the public role demanded of her, on royal tours both at home and abroad.”(Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverMortality / Christopher Hitchens.
“On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported “from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.” Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis. Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open”. (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverCountry girl / Edna O’Brien.
“Edna O’Brien’s family encouraged her to attend pharmacy school, but she left before finishing to marry an older writer, give birth to two sons, and publish, in 1960, her first novel.The Country Girlsso scandalized the O’Briens’ local parish that the book was burned by the priest, her family disgraced. COUNTRY GIRL comes twenty-one books later, a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that imprint upon and enliven one lifetime.” (Summary from www. globalbooksinprint.com).

ALSO RECEIVED THIS MONTH :

Read all of “Joseph Anton,” then, for its lessons in how books are used, and whether they matter

For a lighter but by no means lightweight reading experience, try Kaffe Fassett’s Dreaming in colour. Kaffe is a master of beautiful designs in patchwork, knitting, needlework and mosaics. It is no exaggeration to say that he has revolutionised these crafts and breathed new life into them. He was the first living textile artist to have a one-man exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has also had a most interesting life and tells a very good story. Take your pick of our new offerings. Happy reading!!

Syndetics book coverJoseph Anton : a memoir / Salman Rushdie.
“The extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names; then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov – Joseph Anton.
How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for over nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom.” (Summary from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0224093975/ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21.)

Syndetics book coverThe House of Hancock : the rise and rise of Gina Rinehart / Debi Marshall.
“Gina Rinehart is the richest woman in the world – but at what cost? From an early age Gina Rinehart knew she was heir to one of Australia’s largest fortunes. Her father, Lang Hancock, loved her dearly and groomed her to take over the company. Then along came Rose, the Filipina housekeeper Lang married in 1985, and the obsessively private House of Hancock was changed forever. Hancock’s death in 1992 opened floodgates of litigation, with Rose and Gina fixtures in the courts fighting it out for their share of Lang’s mining assets. The Pilbara Princess has now become the Queen of Litigation, taking on her children and anyone else who dares to challenge her through countless court battles.” (Summary from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1742756743/ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21).

Syndetics book coverThe Black Count : glory, revolution, betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristo / Tom Reiss.
“The inspiration for some of the great adventure tales of Alexandre Dumas has long been a subject of curiosity and debate. According to Reiss, the inspiration for the great novel of intrigue, betrayal, and revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo, was Dumas’ own father, General Alexandre Alex Dumas. In this often thrilling and often sad chronicle, Reiss makes clear that Alex lived a life as full of adventure, triumph, and tragic loss as any of his son’s literary creations.” (Summary from Global Books).

Syndetics book coverThe end of your life book club / Will Schwalbe.
“Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. Their choices range from classic (Howards End) to popular (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), from fantastic (The Hobbit) to spiritual (Jon Kabat-Zinn), with many in between. We hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions. A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.” (Summary from http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1444706381/ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21).

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Travel stories & guides

A book about the sixteenth century Portuguese navigators: did they really sail and chart coastlines in New Zealand? And did you know that there are many ‘Mom and Pop’ shops still in the Big Apple…. these and other travel answers are to be found in this month’s round-up of new Travel books.

Syndetics book coverScary monsters and super creeps : in search of the world’s most hideous beasts / by Dom Joly.
A brilliantly bizarre and hilarious travelogue from the audacious comedian, and TV star, Dom Joly.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRetire and live the dream : our long journey to la dolce vita / Annette Edis.Retire and Live the Dream: Our Long Journey to la Dolce Vita has been written to inspire and encourage readers to travel, especially those recently retired; urging them to disregard any fears they might have, take the plunge and have an experience of a lifetime. Included are an abundance of travel tips for both affordable and enjoyable travel, the importance of life goals and staying young in your outlook on life. Also included are fascinating anecdotes, myths and histories of the many towns, cities and countries visited by Annette.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlmost somewhere : twenty-eight days on the John Muir Trail / Suzanne Roberts.
“While wilderness memoirs have been coming fast and furious lately, Roberts dares to combine a hiking adventure with a healthy dose of humor and female bonding in all its complicated and turbulent best. Nearly 20 years ago she joined two girlfriends on a monthlong postcollegiate hike of the John Muir Trail. … With wit, laughter, and longing, she writes of the trip not as an attempt at wilderness salvation but rather a desire to do something, anything, that proved the future would not be so daunting. An utterly refreshing outdoors memoir free of the seemingly manufactured drama so many similar titles contain. A delightful and quite literary diversion.–Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted)

Syndetics book coverPre-Tasman Portuguese down under? / John Tasker. “For more than 200 years, scholars and amateurs alike have wrestled with the problem — did sixteenth century Portuguese navigators sail down the east coast of Australia and along the shores of New Zealand, charting the coastlines as they went? Employing endless speculation, all kinds of people have proposed all kinds of theories, not one of which resulted in a resolution over those two centuries. This book is different. Forsaking the speculation and guesswork model, it finally lays the matter to rest beyond all reasonable doubt.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Condé Nast traveler Book of unforgettable journeys : great writers on great places. Volume II / edited with an introduction by Klara Glowczewska.
“…Anthologies of travel writing abound, most of them like a pirate’s chest filled to the brim with gems. This one, the second gathering of articles published originally in Conde Nast Traveler magazine, has mostly diamonds for contents. The strongest pieces here among all strong pieces, that is include famous food critic Calvin Trillin’s Some Like It Not Hot, in which he shares experiences visiting the Ecuadorean city of Cuenca, calling it a walking around city (which he characterizes as often short on well-known sights but having small-item appeal nevertheless)….–Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted)

Syndetics book coverEstonia : a ramble through the periphery / [Alexander Theroux].
“Any journey with Alexander Theroux is an education. Endowed with a razor-sharp and hyper-literate mind, he stands beside Thomas Pynchon as one of the sharpest cultural commentators of our time. For Theroux, the country of Estonia and its people became a puzzle as he accompanied his wife there for a nine-month stay. Estonia is as biting and satirical as it is witty and urbane; as curious and lyrical as it is brash and irreverent. It marks a new highlight in an already stellar career and a book that continues Fantagraphics’ exceptional line of prose works.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwo guys on the road ; walking backwards across the world / Steve Chandler & Terrence N. Hill. “In TWO GUYS ON THE ROAD, Steve Chandler and Terry Hill write e-mails, postcards, and letters to each other as they travel the world. Terry mostly takes lengthy travels for pleasure abroad with his wife Miranda while Steve takes short business trips around the country, at times with his wife Kathy. In their usual style, Steve and Terry often launch into digressions to discuss whatever piques their interest in the moment resulting in a collage of places, people, opinions, travel tips, and sometimes tenuously-related memories.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClassic hikes of North America : 25 breathtaking treks in the United States and Canada / Peter Potterfield. “Included in the book is helpful information, such as: level of difficulty, trail conditions, recommended seasons, potential hazards and difficulties, resource information, and detailed maps of hiking routes. …. These are journeys to dream on, and Potterfield puts them within reach of any aspiring hiker.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover360 degrees longitude : one family’s journey around the world / John Higham. “In June 2005, John Higham, his wife September, daughters Jordan and Katrina packed-up and began a 52 week global adventure, visiting 30 countries on five continents. They stayed with friends, strangers, college girls on spring break and Polish shipyard workers with a penchant for striped boxer shorts and little else. The Highams learnt more than just the food and cultures of their destinations; fish can mistake nipples for a snack, a Chilean mall isn’t the best place to get ears pierced and that elephants love receiving flowers; and they learnt all about each other.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverNew York originals : a guide to the city’s classic shops & mom-and-pops / by Jamie McDonald. “Some of the last classic mom-and-pop businesses in the US are in the Big Apple: despite the fast-moving, ever-changing nature of the City and the recent onslaught of chain stores, many small businesses in New York and its five boroughs have survived and thrived year after year, generation after generation. ….a unique tour through all five boroughs introduces readers to 75 of these unique shops, restaurants, services, and manufacturers….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

Our new history books this month have something to interest everyone: Norse exporers, lady spies, retro Sydney, what it was to live when Shakespeare was about, and more. Happy reading!

Syndetics book coverVikings / Neil Oliver.
“The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution, and prided themselves on their bloody-thirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the west and as far as Baghdad in the east. As the Vikings did not write their history, we have to discover it for ourselves, and that discovery, as Neil Oliver reveals, tells an extraordinary story of a people who, from the brink of destruction, reached a quarter of the way around the globe and built an empire that lasted nearly two hundred years. Drawing on the latest discoveries that have only recently come to light, Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did they emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over 1000 years ago? VIKINGS will explore many of these questions for the first time in an epic story of one of the world’s great empires of conquest.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverChurchill’s angels : how Britain’s women secret agents changed the course of the Second World War / Bernard O’Connor.
“Over 70 female agents were sent out by Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War. These women – as well as others from clandestine Allied organisations – were flown out and parachuted or landed into occupied Europe on vital and highly dangerous missions: their job was to work with resistance movements both before and after D-Day. Bernard O’Connor relates the experiences of these agents of by drawing on a range of sources, including many of the women’s accounts of their wartime service. There are stories of rigorous training, thrilling undercover operations evading capture by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France, tragic betrayals and extraordinary courage.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverRetro Sydney / Ian Collis.
“Sydney in the 1950s and 1960s…This unique collection of vintage shots from amateur family photographers includes rare and never-before-seen material. It features timeless photographs of the stunning harbour and the creation of the Opera House, classic Royal Easter Show shots, the Queen’s visits and the pastimes the city loves – sport, recreation and fashion”–Back cover.

Syndetics book coverShakespeare’s restless world / Neil MacGregor.
“From Neil MacGregor, the acclaimed creator of A History of the World in 100 Objects and the Director of the British Museum, comes a unique, enthralling exploration of the age of William Shakespeare to accompany a new BBC Radio 4 series.Shakespeare lived through a pivotal period in human history. With the discovery of the New World, the horizons of Old Europe were expanding dramatically – and long-cherished certainties were crumbling. Life was exhilaratingly uncertain. What were Londoners thinking when they went to see Shakespeare’s plays? What was it like living in their world? Here Neil MacGregor looks at twenty objects from Shakespeare’s life and times, and uncovers the fascinating stories behind them. The objects themselves range from the grand (such as the hoard of gold coins that make up the Salcombe treasure) to the very humble, like the battered trunk and worn garments of an unknown pedlar. But in each case, they allow MacGregor to explore issues as diverse as piracy and Islam, Catholicism and disguise. MacGregor weaves the histories of objects into the words of Shakespeare’s plays themselves to suggest to us where his ideas about religion, national identity, the history of England and the world, human nature itself, may have come from. The result is a fresh and thrilling evocation of Shakespeare’s world.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe revenge of history : the battle for the twenty-first century / Seumas Milne.
“From the outset, Seumas Milne’s Guardian essays on the West’s war on terror provoked angry denunciations on both sides of the Atlantic. A decade on, the advocates of violent capitalism have been silenced. From class to religion, Blair to Obama, Palestine to Pakistan, bank bailouts to the Arab uprisings, the rise of China to the wave of change in Latin America, Milne exposes the breakdown of the new world order – and draws out the prospects for the emerging politics of the future. In a media culture dominated by eager apologists, Milne has consistently written against the grain. This book offers a compelling perspective on the convulsions that have brought us to today’s crisis – and a powerful indictment of a global and corporate empire in decline.” (Fishpond)

Syndetics book coverA free man / Aman Sethi.
“Like Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun and Alexander Masters’s Stuart, this is a tour de force of narrative reportage. Mohammed Ashraf studied biology, became a butcher, a tailor, and an electrician’s apprentice; now he is a homeless day laborer in the heart of old Delhi. How did he end up this way? In an astonishing debut, Aman Sethi brings him and his indelible group of friends to life through their adventures and misfortunes in the Old Delhi Railway Station, the harrowing wards of a tuberculosis hospital, an illegal bar made of cardboard and plywood, and into Beggars Court and back onto the streets. In a time of global economic strain, this is an unforgettable evocation of persistence in the face of poverty in one of the world’s largest cities. Sethi recounts Ashraf’s surprising life story with wit, candor, and verve, and A Free Man becomes a moving story of the many ways a man can be free.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book cover100 amazing tales from Aotearoa / [Museum of New Zealand Te Papa].
“Te Papa stores more than 2 million pieces in trust for the nation. New Zealand through 100 Objects takes readers on a tour behind the scenes of the museum to discover more about 100 of these treasured items. Readers will learn the secrets of the first dinosaur fossil ever discovered, see new and unique spider species, be inspired by famous paintings and quirky jewellery, encounter fearsome weapons and armour from the Pacific and uncover the deep and personal stories of Maori taonga. Based on ‘Tales from Te Papa’, the fascinating series of mini documentaries from TVNZ, this book includes a DVD of the complete series, with a bonus 20 episodes.” (Global Books in Print)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for December

Sorry to disappoint you folks, but this month’s picks has nary a Christmas themed CD or movie in sight. No doubt there’ll be plenty of festive suggestions appearing on our blog/twitter/Facebook in the coming week or two.

What we do have is a couple of literary classics adapted for DVD – Sebastian Faulks’ “Birdsong” and Henning Mankell’s “Wallander; New Zealand’s own Anna Paquin appears in the underrated and decidedly non-vampiric “Margaret” ; also, books that take you behind the scenes of Game of Thrones and Doctor Who along with the best of the rest of in music & movies for December.

Library News

DVDs

Cover imageBirdsong.
“Busy screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Hour, The Iron Lady) adapts Sebastian Faulks’s 1993 bestseller…Costume-drama veteran Eddie Redmayne (The Pillars of the Earth) plays Stephen Wraysford, a British textile man based in Amiens in 1910. While staying with Isabelle (Clémence Poésy, In Bruges) and her controlling husband, Stephen falls in love with his hostess, but her marriage and stepchildren stand in the way. The story continues to proceed along two tracks: Stephen’s time with Isabelle and her sympathetic sister, Jeanne (Marie-Josée Croze), and his time as an imperiled lieutenant in the trenches of World War I…as memories of Amiens spur him on. Flashbacks reveal that Isabelle eventually returned his affection, except the course of their relationship did not run smoothly. By the end, he’s lost most of the things he once desired, but an alternative path lies ahead. In this sense, Birdsong bears some comparison with Atonement and Downton Abbey, though the downbeat nature of the material won’t be to all tastes…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageMargaret.
“A film whose initial release was held up for five years, thanks to a series of legal wrangles, the eventual cinematic debut of Margaret was, perhaps inevitably, strangely muted. Margaret is an ensemble drama, the catalyst for which is a bus crash. The crash is witnessed by Anna Paquin’s Lisa, and it forces her to question whether it was really an accident. Things spiral from there, affecting more than just Lisa herself, and drawing the film’s large cast together. Margaret is an involving, intelligent and absorbing piece of cinema, that if anything feels a little bit short. Running to well over two hours, there’s nonetheless still a sense that one or two of the story fragments are missing. But still, there’s plenty here to feast on. Furthermore, there are interesting themes that Lonergan’s film isn’t shy about exploring, and there’s a good deal to dissect once the credits roll. Don’t be put off by the relatively low-key DVD release, then. Margaret is a gem, the kind of film that’ll be discovered for some time to come…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageWallander. 3.
“The British television series Wallander boasts eerily beautiful scenery, intricate plotting, and, above all, Branagh, who delivers a masterpiece of interior acting. The less he lets slip, the more fascinating the character somehow becomes. Based on Henning Mankell’s novels, the series follows the downbeat adventures of Kurt Wallander, a world-weary police detective who operates in the Swedish town of Ystad. An Event in Autumn, the first installment in this third collection, finds Wallander attempting to construct something like a normal life, moving in to a cottage in the country with his girlfriend and her son. Fate soon comes knocking, however, as a gruesome discovery in his garden leads to the uncovering of a murderous legacy. Based on the second novel in Mankell’s series, The Dogs of Riga finds the inspector traveling to Latvia, after a murder at sea entraps him in a deadly case of police corruption on unfamiliar ground…This collection finishes up in fine style with Before the Frost, an exploration of belief and religious mania that ranks among the top episodes in the entire series…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageTouch. The complete first season.
“At the story’s centre is Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz). Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son. But Jake never speaks, shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake is obsessed with numbers–writing long strings of them in his ever-present notebooks–and with discarded cell phones. Social worker Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) believes that Jake’s needs are too serious for Martin to handle…However, everything changes after Martin meets Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), a professor and an expert on children who possess special gifts when it comes to numbers. Martin learns that Jake possesses an extraordinary gift–the ability to perceive the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet…As he puts the pieces together, he helps people across the world connect as their lives intersect according to the patterns Jake has foreseen…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageRizzoli & Isles. The complete first season.
“Angie Harmon has never been better, as the tough Boston detective Jane Rizzoli. Her partner in crime (solving) is the equally impressive Sasha Alexander as Dr. Maura Isles, the by-the-books medical examiner who always has Rizzoli’s back, but is often appalled at the cop’s hard-charging tough-Boston-girl approach. Rizzoli & Isles is based on the series of popular mysteries by Tess Gerritsen, and adapted faithfully and engagingly for TV viewers. One thing that sets Rizzoli & Isles apart from the average police procedural is its crisp direction and subtle writing; even the most die-hard cop-show viewer will be engaged and surprised by the plots’ twists and turns…The key in any double-starring series is chemistry, and Harmon and Alexander have it in spades–their sparring and intellectual one-upmanship are completely believable. The cases in season one are varied, though focus mostly on serial killers, with one particularly gripping case flashing back to the notorious Boston Strangler case…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePerson of interest. The complete first season.
“Series creator Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) lays out the premise at a furious clip: an eccentric tech genius (Lost’s Michael Emerson) enlists a shadowy soldier-of-fortune (Jim Caviezel) to help with his pet project–a machine with seemingly endless surveillance capabilities. Utilizing the device’s ability to identify threats before they happen, they set out to right future wrongs, attracting the attention of a dogged New York cop (Taraji P. Henson) in the process. Were Person of Interest content to remain at the level of weekly procedural, it would be a very good one, with every installment boasting well-choreographed fight scenes, Emerson’s impeccably weird comedy timing, and a thorny morality that keeps the methods of the protagonists edging into the black…Thankfully, however, Nolan and co. also show an ability to play the long game, cannily inserting flashbacks that hint at a bigger mystery, introducing a strangely empathetic recurring supervillain, and laying out minor plot elements that pay off big further down the line…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageFriends with kids.
“It’s a stroke of good fortune that Friends with Kids features a hefty portion of the same cast that made Bridesmaids such a hit. The stars of Friends with Kids are Jennifer Westfeldt (who also wrote and directed) and Adam Scott as Julie and Jason, BFFs who are strictly platonic but decide to have a child together out of mutual need, convenience, and familiarity. Their married friends have all brought kids into the world with mixed results, and they feel a little left out. Neither wants the burden of marriage and both profess to have no romantic inclination toward the other.. Concurrently with their parenting, each one is also playing the same old dating game that ranges from simple hookups to what looks like true love when Julie meets Kurt (Edward Burns) and Jason meets Mary Jane (Megan Fox). That’s when the emotions start getting complicated and both realize that they may not have thought through their child-rearing plan or their honest feelings for each other thoroughly enough…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe comeback. The complete first only season.
“How wickedly ironic–and delicious–that Lisa Kudrow’s single season of The Comeback provided the talented actress with enough meat for her to be nominated for an Emmy–after the show was canceled by HBO. Kudrow went for the Anti-Phoebe role after the demise of Friends, demonstrating her spectacular acting chops and range of comic abilities. The show centered on Kudrow’s playing an actress, once the ingénue of the moment, trying ever more desperately to get back into the limelight. The vehicle of choice: a reality “series” that follows Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish into scenarios with the deck more than stacked against her. Kudrow’s acid delivery and willingness to show Valerie’s raw pain, ambition, and obsequiousness make for engrossing and poignant, if squirm-inducing, viewing… The series, though short-lived demonstrates why Kudrow is one of our most talented actresses; here’s hoping for a succession of more Comebacks…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSyndetics book coverThe amazing Spider-man.
“The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageSnow White & the huntsman.
“Definitely not your average retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark, action-fantasy film that’s based more on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale than the well-known Disney version of the story. It features intriguing concepts, impressive special effects, and some disappointingly lackluster acting. The essence of the “Snow White” story is preserved in this recounting: the queen’s beautiful daughter Snow White, who is heir to the throne, is displaced and persecuted by an evil stepmother after her mother dies. Here, the evil stepmother Ravenna possesses a disturbing power to maintain her own perpetual youth by stealing youthfulness from the hearts of the young and beautiful, but her magic mirror warns that Snow White’s innocence and purity as she comes of age will destroy Ravenna’s chance at immortality. When Snow White escapes from the castle prison, Ravenna hires a downtrodden Huntsman to bring her back so that Ravenna can steal her youth and achieve personal immortality…This film is full of fascinating imagery that’s brought to life through powerful special effects, great costuming, and captivating cinematography…” (From Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAttack the block.
“Full of gory practical effects and fluent pop-cultural references, Attack the Block–an alien invasion scenario squeezed into a single apartment building–belongs to the same species of British genre comedy as Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Director Joe Cornish takes some clever routes around the limitations of his budget, filming on location in London’s Heygate Estate (itself a once utopian science-fiction experiment) and mining the freshness of his young cast’s authentic street slang. When the aliens arrive (they simply drop, during a frosty Bonfire Night, out of the shining pepper of the stars) ..the block’s defence is up to a group of teenage hoods, lead by the imposing Moses (John Boyega) and reluctantly helped by middle-class neighbour Sam (Jodie Whittaker). Armed with fireworks and mounted on muscle bikes, they launch an entertaining and Spielbergian resistance through the block’s labyrinth of corridors and walkways…More alien to each other than the beasts on their tail, the survival of these divided class members hangs on the recognition that they have a stake in each other…(From Amazon.co.uk)

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Film Books

From HBO’s Game of Thrones to the legendary film stars.

Syndetics book coverInside HBO’s Game of thrones / Bryan Cogman ; preface by George R. R. Martin ; foreword by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss.“HBO’s Game of Thrones reigns as cable’s highest-rated series. This official companion book gives fans new ways to enter this fictional world and discover more about the beloved (and reviled) characters and the electrifying plotlines. Hundreds of set photos, production and costume designs, storyboards, and insider stories reveal how the show’s creators translated George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series into the world of Westeros. Featuring interviews with key actors and crew members that capture the best scripted and unscripted moments from the first two seasons, as well as a preface by George R. R. Martin, this special volume, bound in a lavishly debossed padded cover, offers exclusive access to this unprecedented television series.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Doctor’s monsters : meanings of the monstrous in Doctor Who / Graham Sleight.
“Doctor Who has been on global television screens for nearly fifty years, and many of its most memorable protagonists have been its monsters, The Daleks, Cybermen, Slitheen, the Sonterans, Ood, Wiirrn, and others. Entertainingly and provocatively written, and introduced by Who scriptwriter Paul Cornell, The Doctor’s Monsters takes a new look at these and many other creatures, and asks what inspired them and what lies behind them.”(Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe science fiction universe– and beyond : Syfy Channel book of sci-fi / introduction by Thomas P Vitale ; text by Michael Mallory.“Travel where no man has gone before with this comprehensive journey through the universe of science fiction film and television! From the wildly imaginative European masterpieces of the silent era to compelling, character-based weekly television series like Twilight Zone, X-Files, and Battlestar Galactica, to the CGI-realized world of Avatar, science fiction film and television has pushed the boundaries of the visually and dramatically fantastic for more than a century. The Science Fiction Universe… and Beyond offers a breadth of knowledge, insight, and passion to the spellbinding and entertaining realm of close encounters, black holes, time travel, distant planets, impossible quests, alternate realities, futuristic technology, spaceships, extraordinary monsters, and incredibly imagined worlds” (adapted from Book Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe Top gear years / Jeremy Clarkson.
“We now know all about — the world according to Clarkson. In a series of bestselling books, Jeremy has revealed it to be a puzzling, frustrating place where all too often the lunatics seem to be running the asylum. But in The Top Gear Years, we get something rather different.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rough guide to 21st century cinema / by Adam Smith.
“Celebrate the centurys’ finest movies in The Rough Guide to 21st Century Cinema, a lavishly illustrated homage to the world’s best movies of this new era of cinema. The best 101 films: a run down of the finest films of the millenium from Hollywood blockbusters to indie gems. The hottest stars: features on the up and coming actors and actresses who have made a mark. The winning genres: best-in-class features on drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi, animation, documentary, superhero movies and all the genre-mash ups in between. The unsung heroes: the finest talent behind the camera, including directors, cinematographers, set designers and special effects specialists. The Rough Guide to 21st Century Cinema is the essential companion to movies of the moment.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverBritish crime film : subverting the social order / Barry Forshaw.“British Crime Film is a celebratory and comprehensive social history of this idiosyncratic genre. Barry Forshaw focuses on the strategies used to address more radical notions than those presented in mainstream product, exploring such themes as the treatment of sex and violence, corporate crime and the maverick criminal. Covering every major – and most minor – British crime films up to and including the twenty-first century, Forshaw contextualises the films within the crime fiction that inspired them. He explores new developments including British urban crime movies and the wave of new crime/horror hybrids such as Kill List, and predicts what the future holds for the genre.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverAudrey : the 60s / David Wills and Stephen Schmidt.“Audrey Hepburn charmed cinema audiences in the 1950s as a new type of screen presence – gamine, doe-eyed and refreshingly casual. By the 1960s she had metamorphosed to become a trendsetting sophisticate, achieving unrivalled status as an actress, model, movie star and champion for underprivileged children worldwide. Curator and archivist David Wills has amassed one of the world’s largest private collections of original Audrey Hepburn photography. Now, in Audrey: The 60s, he has gathered a spectacular selection of work from her key photographers – much of it digitally restored from original negatives and transparencies – to create a truly breath-taking portfolio of images which pays homage to the most beloved and enduring style icon of the decade that changed everything.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverElizabeth Taylor / Susan Smith.
“Elizabeth Taylor was one of the major film stars of the twentieth century, embodying all the glamour and allure of Hollywood stardom. Yet her achievements as an actress have often been overshadowed by her beauty
and tumultuous life off-screen. To redress this imbalance, Susan Smith offers an illuminating study of Elizabeth Taylor’s work in film, exploring her fascinating trajectory from child to adult star. Smith reveals the influence that Taylor’s early work exerted over her later career and the ways in which her on-screen identity is profoundly rooted in her association with animals and nature.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Classical Music

You’ll find below our most recent classical music purchases for this month, enjoy!

Cover ImageThe Chopin album. (CD)
“World-renowned pianist Lang Lang turns to the composer who has accompanied him throughout his career on his latest recording, The Chopin Album. The record is entirely devoted to Chopin’s solo piano pieces and includes well known pieces such as “The Minute Waltz” and the “Grande Valse Brillante op. 18 in E-flat major”. The DVD features ‘My Life With Chopin’ which includes 50 minutes of exclusive footage showing Lang Lang’s career from age 12 to today”. (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageAs it is. (CD)
“A fresh approach to one of contemporary composition’s most iconoclastic and inventive figures, ‘As It Is’ is issued to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage. Early Cage is the subject here, strikingly original songs and piano pieces from the 1930s and 1940s. Songs in which Cage set words by writers whose vision was as independent as his own – James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and e e cummings. They are performed by the Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov – who championed Cage’s work in Russia and later had a close working relationship with him – and his compatriot, vocalist Natalia Pschenitschnikova.
As Paul Griffiths writes, “The music exists in singing that has a raw, living edge, and it exists in piano tone that can be utterly simple and utterly remarkable. There is also a third presence, that of the producer, bringing forward the extraordinary resonances that come from Lubimov’s piano, with preparation or without.” With Manfred Eicher producing, the recording was made in December 2011 in Zürich. Lubimov grasps both the playfulness of the music and its message of freedom.
Lubimov previously included Cage’s In a Landscape on his 2002 debut recording for ECM New Series, Der Bote, a disc of piano elegies. Among his other acclaimed recordings for the label are works by Scriabin, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, and Valentin Silvestrov. Earlier this summer his double album of Debussy’s Preludes and other pieces attracted huge praise and was BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Recording of the Month’ in July. Natalia Pschenitschnikova has appeared on two previous ECM discs of Giya Kancheli as a flautist.
Personnel: Alexei Lubimov (piano, prepared piano), Natalia Pschenitschnikova (voice)”. (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageGiovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Volume 1. (CD)
“2011 sees the first recording by The Sixteen devoted entirely to Palestrina. The disc marks the start of a new project which will result in a series of new recordings exploring a selection of the composer s vast output, and a Choral Pilgrimage tour. Palestrina was born in 1525 not far from Rome, in the town whose name he bore and from which we take the cover images for this new series of discs. Possibly the greatest composer of liturgical music of all time, Palestrina was a towering figure in Renaissance polyphony. Choral singers world-wide will know his Missa Papae Marcelli (recorded by The Sixteen on COR16014) as, without doubt, it is the most renowned of Palestrina s works and possibly the most famous mass of all time. On this new disc The Sixteen has recorded some of the sumptuous music he wrote for the Assumption including his Missa Assumpta est Maria and Salve Regina. Without doubt, Palestrina was the great master of all Papal composers and his spiritual craft and harmonic vitality fulfilled the needs of the Vatican. His Motet and Offertory for the Assumption also entitled Assumpta est Maria, are glorious examples of such work and can be heard in all their splendour on this recording. By his death in 1594, Palestrina had published a huge amount of music including over 100 Masses and over 350 motets.” (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageDuo (CD)
“An inspiring, enjoyable, powerhouse meeting between two award-winning highly-individualistic classical music superstars who consider their initial meeting as fateful, not coincidence. Hélène Grimaud (who is called “the earth” in their interview), one of the greatest interpretative classical pianists who experiences sound as colors, and star cello virtuoso Sol Gabetta (”the air”), famed for the nuanced, singing quality of her instrumental interpretations and her highly emotional playing, meld their ‘earth and air’ talents and personae into a marvelous musical duo. It began in 2011 in a joyful, fateful musical encounter that ‘clicked’ immediately. In a wide spectrum of musical tastes, they cover the duo compositions of Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, and Dmitri Shostakovich, and this diverse program works wonderfully and has toured to great success…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk reviewer)

Cover ImageAdam’s lament (CD)
“Marshalling orchestral and choral forces under the direction of Tonu Kaljuste, this new Arvo Pärt album, produced by Manfred Eicher and realized, like all Pärt’s ECM discs, with the composer’s participation, is a major event. Sacred music predominates, by turns monumentally powerful and tenderly fragile. Adam’s Lament is the main work, but all eight pieces are either premiere recordings or first recordings of new versions reworked by the composer.
The other compositions are: Beatus Petronius for two choirs, eight woodwind instruments, tubular bells and strings; Salve Regina for choir, celesta and string orchestra; Statuit ei Dominus for two choirs, woodwinds and strings; Alleluia-Tropus for choir and string orchestra; L’Abbé Agathon for soprano, baritone, female choir and string orchestra. The album concludes with two beautiful lullabies – Estonian Lullaby and Christmas Lullaby – for female choir and string orchestra.” (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverRobert Schumann : the life and work of a romantic composer / Martin Geck ; translated by Stewart Spencer.
“Robert Schumann (1810-56) is one of the most important and representative composers of the Romantic era. Born in Zwickau, Germany, Schumann began piano instruction at age seven and immediately developed a passion for music. When a permanent injury to his hand prevented him from pursuing a career as a touring concert pianist, he turned his energies and talents to composing, writing hundreds of works for piano and voice, as well as four symphonies and two ballets. Here acclaimed biographer Martin Geck tells the fascinating story of this multifaceted genius, set in the context of the political and social revolutions of his time. The image of Schumann, the man and the artist, that emerges in Geck’s book is complex. Geck shows Schumann to be not only a major composer and music critic-he cofounded and wrote articles for the controversial Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik-but also a political activist, the father of eight children, and an addict of mind-altering drugs. Through hard work and determination bordering on the obsessive, Schumann was able to control his demons and channel the tensions that seethed within him into music that mixes the popular and esoteric, resulting in compositions that require the creative engagement of reader and listener. The more we know about a composer, the more we hear his personality in his music, even if it is above all on the strength of his work that we love and admire him. Martin Geck’s book on Schumann is not just another rehashing of Schumann’s life and works, but an intelligent, personal interpretation of the composer as a musical, literary, and cultural personality.” (summary from Amazon.co.uk)

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Aotearoa newsletter for November

Sunshine, Pohutukawa in bloom, barbecues and jandals… Would it be summer finally on its way? We can only hope so. In the meantime, we’re very happy to share with you our latest selection of material in the Aotearoa newsletter. This month we deal with New Zealand and New Zealanders’ identity, Māori and Pacific fiction, some local history, and sports that Kiwis love and practise with fervour. Finally, we’re happy to share with you some resources about learning Māori online: Māori Language.net(online video movie lessons), and Kōrero Māori (conversations, language resources, and advice to help you increase your knowledge of reo Māori), as well as using our libraries’ resources.

New Zealand Non-Fiction

This month the New Zealand Collection features “Mad on Radium” about New Zealand’s engagement with the nuclear world from the start when Lord Rutherford first split the atom. In “Selling the Dream” early N.Z. tourism promotion posters and publicity is explored while “Made in NZ” looks at some of this country’s high achievers. There is also Martin Sneddon’s review of the rugby world cup, a Graig Potton photographic collection, Albert Wendt’s latest and Gareth Morgan’s take on issues facing our far south oceans.

Syndetics book coverSelling the dream : the art of early New Zealand tourism / Peter Alsop, Gary Stewart and Dave Bamford ; foreword by Fran Walsh.
Celebrates the remarkable range of tourism posters and other publicity that helped promote New Zealand – both locally and to the world – until the 1960s, before television and colour photography changed the publicity landscape forever. This imagery is some of the finest graphic art ever produced in New Zealand, and as arresting and impressive today as when it was first created. The art of early tourism was highly significant in New Zealand’s art history, and in the development of New Zealand’s tourism industry and sense of national identity. (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverMade in NZ / Chris Mirams & Ross Land.
“Made in New Zealand is a gorgeous coffee table book which celebrates the ways in which being a New Zealander have shaped some of our most inspirational achievers. Forty successful Kiwis share their perspective on how this country has influenced them and contributed to their success. These captivating stories are accompanied by stunning portrait photography. Award-winning New Zealand photographer Ross Land and award-winning journalist Chris Mirams have approached the full gamut of our society and the book features everyone from Alison Holst to David Kirk; from Professor Margaret Brimble to Jon Toogood and John Minto to Sir Graham Henry”–publisher website.

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Māori

Take a look at the latest offerings from some of our greatest Māori and Pacific fiction writers!

Syndetics book coverAncestry / Albert Wendt.
“Albert Wendt has created a fabulous and unique fictional world that has changed how we perceive Samoa, Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific and ourselves.” –Back cover.

Syndetics book coverThe Parihaka woman / Witi Ihimaera.
“Richly imaginative and original, weaving together fact and fiction, it sets the remarkable story of Erenora against the historical background of the turbulent and compelling events that occurred in Parihaka during the 1870s and 1880s. Parihaka is the place Erenora calls home, a peaceful Taranaki settlement overcome by war and land confiscation. As her world is threatened, Erenora must find within herself the strength, courage and ingenuity to protect those whom she loves. And, like a Shakespearean heroine, she must change herself before she can take up her greatest challenge and save her exiled husband, Horitana”–Supplied by publisher.

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History

We have some great new history books this month: 150-year-old letters by a young German settler give exciting look at Wellington’s past; the “sexy” lives of the Tudors; American Empire looks at the United States in the last half of the 20th century; and more. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverAn indescribable beauty : letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand, 1859 & 1862 / Friedrich August Krull.
“The translated letters of Friedrich Krull from Wellington back home to Germany in 1859, at the behest of German naturalist and historian Ernst Boll. Krull details people, landscapes and birds of early Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti and surrounds. Included are reports on meetings with Te Rauparaha’s son and nephew as well as other prominent Māori leaders. The book is illustrated with paintings and photographs from the time”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverIn bed with the Tudors : the sex lives of a dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I / Amy Licence.
“Illegitimate children, adulterous queens, impotent kings, and a whole dynasty resting on their shoulders. Sex and childbirth were quite literally a matter of life or death for the Tudors – Elizabeth of York died in childbirth, two of Henry VIII’s queens were beheaded for infidelity, and Elizabeth I’s elective virginity signalled the demise of a dynasty. Amy Licence guides the reader through the births of Elizabeth of York’s two sons, Arthur and Henry, Catherine of Aragon’s subsequent marriages to both of these men, Henry VIII’s other five wives and his mistresses, and the sex lives of his daughters. This book details the experiences of all these women, from fertility, conception and pregnancy through to the delivery chamber, on to maternal and infant mortality. Each woman’s story is a blend of specific personal circumstances, set against their historical moment. For some the joys were brief, for others it was a question that ultimately determined their fates”–Cover.

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Sport

This month’s selection includes books on card games, golfing tips, fishing, rugby, football and more. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverGolf’s Moment of Truth : How to play under pressure and conquer the choke point / Robin Sieger.
“Whether amateur or Tour professional, every golfer will experience that crucial moment when victory hinges on just one shot. Make it, they win; blow it and they will re-live the memory on the golf course for years to come. They have arrived at their personal ‘moment of truth’. The question is: can they do it? The follow-up to his successful Silent Mind Golf, and second in a major new four-book series, this new title sees Robin Sieger explore the concept of ‘choking’ and apply his easy-to-grasp mental conditioning techniques to help golfers at all levels perform under pressure.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Complete Guide to Saltwater Fishing : How to catch striped bass, sharks, tuna, salmon, ling cod, and more / Captain Al Ristori.
“This complete book contains valuable information on more than 125 popular saltwater gamefish species. Includes tips and insights on selecting the correct rods and reels for each gamefish, an overview on terminal tackle, easy-to-follow illustrations of knots and rigging, conventional and fly-fishing techniques, a lowdown on boats and marine electronics, and a section on marine conservation and how you can help protect our gamefish populations.” (Global Books)

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Music & Movies Newsletter for October

October’s Music & Movies leads with the first series of the excellent Homeland – a tense, political thriller of shifting allegiances and morally ambiguous characters, testing conventional notions of patriotism. The second season is currently showing on TV3, so it could be time for a marathon catch-up session. Luckily we’ve extended our box-set loan period, so you’ll have time for the washing too.

For the best of the rest on DVD, book and CD – scroll on.

DVDs

Some new DVDs to hit our shelves include the latest season of the Private Eye send-up ‘Bored To Death’; Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter role; Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel, ‘Salmon Fishing in Yemen’; and Joss Whedon’s Marvel super-hero epic

Cover imageHomeland. The complete first season.
“Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA Agent battling her own demons becomes convinced that the intelligence that led to the rescue of Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a US soldier who had been missing and presumed dead for eight years was a set-up, and may be connected to an al-Qaeda plot to be carried out on American soil. Already on thin ice with the CIA, and now assigned to a desk job after an incident in Iraq, Carrie is forced to break protocol in order to prove her theory that Brody was “turned” during his many years in captivity and is now working for al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, Brody receives a hero’s welcome at home, and attempts to reconnect with his family whom he hasn’t seen in eight years…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageBored to death. The complete second season.
“Bored to Death fuses the anxieties of literary life with a pastiche of detective stories in eight tidy episodes. Floundering writer Jonathan Ames (played by Jason Schwartzman and named after series creator and main writer Jonathan Ames) now not only has his sideline as an unlicensed private detective, but also starts teaching a creative writing class (and starts flirting with one of his students). His best friend, frustrated cartoonist Ray (Zach Galifianakis), has a burst of self-esteem when his self-published comic book (about a well-endowed superhero named after himself) grows bizarrely popular, leading him to think he might be able to get back together with his ex (Heather Burns, Miss Congeniality). But this season really takes off when Jonathan’s mentor, magazine editor George (Ted Danson), gets diagnosed with prostate cancer. Somehow, this heavy topic gives the show just the hint of gravity it needs to maintain its balance, and gives Danson the opportunity to take his marvelous portrait of pot-smoking self-absorption in new and delightful directions..” (From Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe Fades. Series one.
“A teenage boy named Paul is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that nobody can explain. As if that weren’t terrifying enough, he begins to see spirits of the dead, known as The Fades, all around him. The Fades can’t be seen, smelt, heard or touched by other humans. When an embittered and vengeful Fade, Polus, finds a way to be human again, it’s up to Paul to stop him – and all of the dead – from breaking back into the world and destroying the human race…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSalmon fishing in The Yemen.
“Lasse Hallström’s breezy adaptation of Paul Torday’s satiric novel, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, features dedicated anglers and arid Middle Eastern vistas, but it’s a screwball comedy at heart (with Morocco standing in for Yemen). Bridget (Kristin Scott Thomas), the prime minister’s steamroller of a press secretary, sets the story in motion when she reads about a fabulously wealthy sheik (Amr Waked) who longs to bring fly-fishing to the desert. She believes that cooperation with his country would be good for Britain’s image, while the sheik has more altruistic goals in mind. This leads her to mild-mannered fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor, effectively cast against type), who feels certain the endeavor is pure fantasy until hyper-efficient Harriet (Emily Blunt), the sheik’s land agent, brings him some surprising data about the region. Though Fred’s marriage has been running on fumes, Harriet has been seeing a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Initially, the two are all business as they devise a plan involving a system of dams, but their feelings for each other gradually rise to the surface…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe best exotic Marigold Hotel.
“Some of the finest actors in England lend their formidable talents to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a charming fish-out-of-water yarn. The Brits, who include Evelyn (Judi Dench), Muriel (Maggie Smith), Douglas (Bill Nighy), and Graham (Tom Wilkinson), are planning retirement in a less expensive country. After “thorough research on the Internet,” the group chooses what looks to be a grand, peaceful retreat, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It turns out that the bloom is off this marigold–it’s shabby, antiquated, and as chaotic as the city in India, Jaipur, where it is set. Who can adapt to this very different retirement experience, and who founders? That question lies at the heart of the plot of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The cast is uniformly superb, as the retirees bond and bicker and fall out and then try to encourage one another. And Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) shines as Sonny, the barely-holding-it-together Marigold Hotel manager…At its heart, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, deftly directed by John Madden, is an uplifting journey, allowing the viewer to feel what the retirees are discovering on the screen…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe woman in black.
“Fans of classically structured haunted house/ghost stories will relish the skillfully unnerving chain of events in The Woman in Black, whether or not they’re fans of Harry Potter. The good new is that Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry behind for good in his first post-Potter role. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor tasked with resolving the affairs of a recently deceased woman and her brooding estate in the gloom of the remote Victorian England-era village of Crythin Gifford. The mood is melancholic all around, starting with Kipps himself, who lost his wife to childbirth a few years earlier. His employer has had just about enough of his moping about and gives him the assignment as a last resort to save his job. When he arrives in the small village, the icy response he receives does not bode well for successful completion of his mission. All the townspeople want him gone, and possibly for good reason. Many of their children have died mysteriously gruesome deaths that they blame on the titular black-clad woman whose own child was tragically sucked to his death in the muck surrounding her seaside mansion. This new stranger who wants to unearth the deadly secrets trapped in the decrepit old house is a threat they cannot abide, and sure enough the deaths keep on coming as he delves deeper into the dark recesses of the house and the history of its ghostly occupant…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe duel.
“In Anton Chekhov’s The Duel, escalating animosity between two men with opposing philosophies of life is played out against the backdrop of a decaying seaside resort along the Black Sea coast. Laevsky is a dissaipated romantic given to gambling and flirtation. He has run off to the sea with the beautiful, emotionally empty, Nadya, another man’s wife. Laevsky has now grown tired of her, but two obstacles block his route to escape: he is broke, and he faces the absolute enmity of Von Koren, an arrogant zoologist and former friend who can no longer tolerate Laevsky’s irresponsibility. Soon Laevsky confronts Von Koren, accusing him of meddling in his affairs, but Von Koren maneuvers a criticism Lavesky makes of their mutual friend. Dr. Samoylenko, into a challenge to a duel. Utterly discombobulated and honor bound, Lavesky agrees to this absurdity-a duel it shall be! A duel as comically inadvertent as it is inevitable…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageA dangerous method.
“With a lucid analyst’s eye, director David Cronenberg turns his steady gaze toward a trio of brilliant people in the early, and somehow defining, years of the 20th century. In Zurich, a young psychoanalyst named Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes on an intellectually gifted but deeply neurotic young woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), as a patient. Through the course of a lengthy analysis, their relationship takes a turn for intimacy, despite professional policy against such encounters. Meanwhile, Jung is entwined in another important relationship, with psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), whose enthusiasm about Jung being the golden boy of the science will eventually dim. What’s bracing in Cronenberg’s keen reading of this situation, based on Christopher Hampton’s script, is that no aspect of this situation is more important than any other; the sexual tumbling between Jung and Spielrein might provide a few hotsy moments, but the careful lines traced between Freud’s pragmatic wisdom and Jung’s idealistic ventures into the mystic are equally significant…” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe avengers.
“Blasphemy? Perhaps. But the best thing about what may be the most rousing and well-crafted superhero movie since The Dark Knight is not the boffo action scenes that culminate in a New York City-destroying finale that rivals Michael Bay’s obliteration of the Chicago skyline in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. No, the real appeal of The Avengers comes from the quiet moments among a group of decidedly unquiet humans, extra-humans, mutants, and demigods. In no particular order those are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), S.H.I.E.L.D. world-government commander Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and indispensable functionary Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). That’s a superstar lineup both in and out of character, and The Avengers brilliantly integrates the cast of ensemble egos into a story that snaps and crackles–not to mention smashes, trashes, and destroys–at breakneck pace, never sacrificing visual dazzle or hard-earned story dynamics…Yet it’s the deeply personal conversations and confrontations among the very reluctant team of Avengers that makes the movie pop. Full of humor, snappy dialogue, and little asides that include inside jokes, eye rolls, and personal grudge matches, the script makes these superhumans real beings with sincere passion or feelings of disillusionment…That spirit of fun and pure adventure makes The Avengers the greatest kind of escapist Hollywood fantasy $250 million can buy. A blockbuster in the most literal sense…(Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSam Hunt: purple balloon and other stories : a film about Sam Hunt.
For forty years Sam Hunt has been a force in New Zealand poetry and culture. He is a storyteller who has spent his life struggling with his, often very public, demons. In that journey he has gone from outcast to icon, he has crossed paths with outlaws, Prime Ministers, literary and artistic giants and the public. This doucmentary explores how Sam reflects the New Zealand landscape – literary and physical. The film examines what has made him a great poet and an enigma. Sam is undoubtedly our best known poet, by far the best exponent of performance poetry and one of the most recognisable Kiwis alive today. In the words of the later Peter Smart: “Sam Hunt is important to us because he is that extraordinary, rare person – someone who is prepared to illustrate with his life the value of poetry and the making of poems…” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverVertigo / Charles Barr.
“Vertigo (1958) is widely regarded as not only one of Hitchcock’s best films, but one of the greatest films of world cinema. Made at the time when the old studio system was breaking up, it functions both as an embodiment of the supremely seductive visual pleasures that ‘classical Hollywood’ could offer and – with the help of an elaborate plot twist – as a laying bare of their dangerous dark side. Although it can be seen as Hitchcock’s most personal film, Charles Barr argues that, like Citizen Kane, Vertigo is at the same time a triumph not so much of individual authorship as of creative collaboration. He highlights the crucial role of screenwriters Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor and, by a combination of textual and contextual analysis, explores the reasons why Vertigo continues to inspire such fascination.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverCitizen Kane / Laura Mulvey.
“Mulvey provides an accessible account of previous scholarship on the 1941 Orson Welles classic, as well as a psychoanalytic reading of the film that sees Kane as “suspended between a pre-Oedipal love for his mother and rivalry with his father and the post-Oedipal world in which he should take his place.” She explores Welles’s anti-fascist politics in terms of the film’s implicit critique of conservative media magnate William Randolph Hearst. The book concludes with a scene-by-scene analysis of the film’s narrative and dramatic structure.” (adapted from CHOICE summary)

Syndetics book coverMetropolis / Thomas Elsaesser.
“Metropolis is a monumental work. On its release in 1925, after sixteen months’ filming, it was Germany’s most expensive feature film, a canvas for director Fritz Lang’s increasingly extravagant ambitions. Lang, inspired by the skyline of New York, created a whole new vision of cities. One of the greatest works of science fiction, the film also tells human stories about love and family. Thomas Elsaesser explores the cultural phenomenon of Metropolis: its different versions (there is no definitive one), its changing meanings, and its role as a database of twentieth-century imagery and ideologies.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

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Popular Music

Popular music books selection for this month includes three new books on Rolling Stones, Nick Drake’s biography that is available in English for the first time, unique insight of Pacific Islands’ music, and a fantastic collection of Jarvis Cocker’s lyrics. Also, a psychologist’s perspective on how your playlist affects your life is a must read.

Syndetics book coverThe true adventures of the Rolling Stones / Stanley Booth ; introduction by Greil Marcus.
“Sounding like one instrument, a wild whirling bagpipe, the Stones chugged to a halt. But the crowd didn’t stop, we could see Hells Angels spinning like madmen, swinging at people.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Rolling Stones : fifty years / Christopher Sandford.
“This is the definitive story of the most controversial and longest surviving bank in music history.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlood, sweat & beers : Oz rock from the Aztecs to Rose Tattoo / Murray Engleheart.
“It all began in the late 1960s when Lobby Loyde was blowing up amplifiers on such a regular basis that equipment had to be specially constructed. King of the Sunbury festivals, former child star Billy Thorpe then took massive amplification to another level, making history along the way when his band the Aztecs pulled as many as 300,000 people to the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPink moon : a story about Nick Drake / Gorm Henrik Rasmussen ; translated by Bent Sørensen. “Originally written in Danish in 1980, Pink Moon was the first biography of Nick Drake, and remains the only one to include exclusive interviews with the singer’s parents, Rodney and Molly Drake. In this new, significantly updated edition, available in English for the first time, author and poet Gorm Henrik Rasmussen reveals more from his visits to the Drakes in their home Far Leys – the first, just five years after the death of their troubled son. A Story about Nick Drake is a personal, original, and moving retelling of the life, death, and posthumous rise of a poet and guitarist who was strangely unsuited for his own time, and is more popular now than he ever was in life.”(adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverMother, brother, lover : selected lyrics / Jarvis Cocker. “Jarvis Cocker is widely regarded as one of the most original and memorable lyricists and performers of the last three decades. Here, for the first time, is a selection of sixty-six lyrics, presented with commentary and an introduction by the man himself. In this volume, readers (and Pulp fans) will find such classic Jarvis lyrics as “Common People”, “Disco 2000″, “Babies”, “This is Hardcore” and “Do You Remember the First Time?” The selection, assembled by the author, reveals a sensibility that is unmistakably Jarvis: a sometimes visceral, sometimes everyday take on love, relationships and the things we do to each other when the lights get low. It is a beautiful collection of lyrics and commentary.” (adapted from amazon.com sumarry)

Syndetics book coverAdele : the biography / Marc Shapiro.Adele: The Biography
“Over the past year, Adele has taken the country by storm, sweeping the 2012 Grammy Awards and taking home six titles, including one for Album of the Year. The British singer-songwriter has been smashing records ever since her 2008 appearance on Saturday Night Live and her 2009 Grammy for Best New Artist. The success of her second album, 21, made her the first living artist since the Beatles to have two top-five hits in both the UK singles and albums charts. The album hit the #1 spot in 18 different countries. This one-of-a-kind book will provide answers to fans’ burning questions. A must-read for every Adele fan.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverNo regrets : a rock ‘n’ roll memoir / Ace Frehley with Joe Layden & John Ostrosky.No Regrets “Bronx, NY, native Frehley wanted to play guitar for a living, and he got his wish in 1972 when, responding to a Village Voice ad, he met Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley. After a slow start, their band, Kiss, exploded and became a brand that appealed to millions of kids and adults. However, Frehley found rock ‘n’ roll stardom inseparable from sex, drugs, brushes with the law, and near-death experiences. Unhappy with the band’s direction and concerned for his well-being, he quit Kiss in the early 1980s. The following years brought him more close calls, a solo career, and a Kiss reunion (and another breakup). Now five years sober, he continues to record and perform for his loyal fans.”(adapted from Library Journal summary)

Syndetics book coverMusic in Pacific Island cultures : experiencing music, expressing culture / Brian Diettrich, Jane Freeman Moulin, Michael Webb. “The islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are steeped in diverse musical traditions that reach far beyond the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Music in Pacific Island Cultures is the first brief, single-volume text to provide a thematic, succinct introduction to the music of the Pacific Islands–a region of the world that has long been underrepresented in ethnomusicological studies. Based on the authors’ extensive fieldwork and experiences in Pacific Island cultures, the text draws on interviews with performers, eyewitness accounts of performances, vivid illustrations, and insights gained from ongoing participation in Pacific music.” (adapted from Publisher description)

Syndetics book coverYour playlist can change your life : 10 proven ways your favorite music can revolutionize your health, memory, organization, alertness, and more / Galina Mindlin, Don DuRousseau, Joseph Cardillo.Your Playlist Can Change Your Life “This distinctive book comes from the coordinated efforts of Mindlin (psychiatry, Columbia Univ.), Don DuRousseau (executive director, PEAK Neurotraining Solutions), and Joseph Cardillo (Be Like Water: Practical Wisdom from the Martial Arts), who propose that readers can use music to relieve anxiety, increase alertness, feel happier, and sharpen memory. The process involves picking songs you like, taking note of how the songs work, and then using them to create a particular mood or spirit. The authors provide numerous exercises, personal examples, and sample play-lists for specific moods (e.g., getting rid of the blahs, relaxing before tests, and revving up lunch breaks). This title lends a psychologist’s perspective to a common behavior-well worth the purchase.” (adapted from Library Journal summary)

Syndetics book coverMorrissey & Marr : the severed alliance / by Johnny Rogan.
“Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance is among the most successful – and controversial – rock biographies ever published. Having denounced the book and called for the death of its author Johnny Rogan, Morrissey later did a U-turn and cited it as evidence in the royalty-related court case brought by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. Now, 20 years after it was first published, Rogan has returned to his definitive Smiths biography to produce a completely revised edition based on new information and new interviews to add to the almost 100 initially conducted over a four-year period.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

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Classical Music

Syndetics book coverMusic as alchemy / Tom Service.
“An immensely fun and engaging study of the art of orchestral conducting. How are conductors’ silent gestures magicked into sound by a group of more than a hundred brilliant but belligerent musicians? Orchestras can be inspired to the heights of musical and expressive possibility by their maestros, or flabbergasted that someone who doesn’t even make a sound should be elevated to demigod-like status by the public. This is the first book to go inside the rehearsal rooms of some of the most inspirational orchestral partnerships in the world. It’s the first to see how Simon Rattle works with his musicians at the Berlin Philharmonic, how Mariss Jansons deals with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and how Claudio Abbado creates the world’s most luxurious pick-up band every year with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. From London to Budapest, Bamberg to Vienna, great orchestral concerts are recreated as a collection of countless human and musical stories. The book reveals how the catalysts of place, time, and personal history are alchemised into the indelible magic of life-changing performances”. – (Adapted from amazon.com ’s book description.)

Syndetics book coverPiano forte : stories and soundscapes from colonial New Zealand / Kirstine Moffat.
“In 1827 the newly wed Elizabeth Mair arrived in Paihia, on board the mission schooner Herald.Her treasured Broadwood grand square piano accompanied her, almost certainly the first piano to arrive in New Zealand. This instrument and the thousands of other pianos that followed provided European settlers with a reassuring sense of ‘home’ and at the same time introduced Maori to a new sound world…Piano forte … draws on memoirs, diaries, letters, concert programmes, company records, fiction and visual images. The stories end in 1930 when the increasing popularity of the phonograph, the radio and the introduction of the talkie movies were beginning to have a profound impact on people’s leisure activities” – (from cover summary)

Cover ImageSymphonies nos. 2 and 3 [sound recording] / Ross Harris.
“The stunning voice of New Zealand’s Madeleine Pierard shines in the first of these two Ross Harris works. Described as “often beautiful and sometimes frightening” (NZ Listener), Ross Harris’s Symphony No. 2 is a setting of poems on the subject of New Zealand soldiers shot for desertion in World War One. Writer Vincent O’Sullivan’s deeply felt descriptions of violence, love and tragedy are reflected in a moving and dramatic score. Symphony No. 3 is inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall, and develops and transforms klezmer-like tunes as its basic material. These symphonies were composed for the Auckland Philharmonia, and both won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award”- (from CD’s liner notes)

Syndetics book coverVerdi and/or Wagner : two men, two worlds, two centuries / Peter Conrad
“This is the first book to compare these two composers and cultural heroes, both of whom were born in 1813 and achieved huge national and international renown in their lifetimes. Yet not only did they never meet, but the differences between them—in music, culture, environment, significance, and legacy—were profound.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDream with me / Jackie Evancho
“Produced by David Foster, Jackie Evancho’s Dream With Me fulfills the promise of O Holy Night, Jackie’s major label debut, a seasonal collection which became 2010’s #1 best-selling debut recording with sales exceeding 1 million units. Dream with Me features a repertoire of classical arias and pop classics handpicked to suit Jackie’s angelic voice. Her range is so great that she ably shifts from the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” Other highlights include two extraordinary superstar duets showcasing the young vocalist performing with music legend Barbra Streisand and international phenomenon Susan Boyle.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDie Walküre [sound recording] / Wagner
“… The recording’s additional dimension is that the music leaps out from the speakers and into your mind’s eye making Wagner’s mythological world of the Valkyrie into something quite tangible. I had goose bumps from the start to the finish, while listening to the recording, especially ends of act 1 and 2. The rapturous applause at the end of each act and at the conclusion of the opera, says it all. People (including myself) were giving standing ovations all around and all levels of the wonderful concert hall, at the end of each of the 3 sections.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

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Mind & Body Newsletter for October

Spring brings with it an atmosphere of new growth and possibilities; a chance to leave behind the winter blues. This month’s Mind & Body selections will help you do just that, with plenty of ideas and inspiration from rustling up new recipes to refocusing your life.

Library News

Cooking

Variety is the theme of this month’s cooking selection : Italian, Asian, Kiwi, British and more, from baking deliciously sinful treats to every day cooking, vegan and healthy choices.

Syndetics book coverHugh’s Three Good Things… on a Plate / Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ; photography by Simon Wheeler ; illustrations by Mariko Jesse..
“How often have you wished there was a magic formula to simplify cooking? Well, there is. Put three good things together on a plate and, somehow, the whole is always greater and more delicious than the sum of its parts. Looking back over nearly two decades of professional cookery, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has worked out the combinations that make magic. Salty, sweet, crunchy. Sharp, rich, crumbly. Hot, bland, crisp……Hugh has used the formula of three to create two hundred recipes….. Because the possibilities are endless, Hugh has also suggested two hundred three-word recipe ideas, which can be used as a springboard for improvised cooking…..this book will unlock a whole new world of fantastic food. Three Good Things. It really is that simple.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverItalian Kitchen / Anna Del Conte ; photographs by Jason Lowe.
“With four chapters – Antipasti, Pasta, Risottos and Dolci – Italian Kitchen is a bible for the fundamentals of Italian cooking. There are simple starters like Bruschetta with Tomato; timeless pasta sauces like Pesto; distinctive risottos; and delectable puddings like Chocolate and Pear Cake. Anna Del Conte is the grande dame of Italian cooking.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Complete Book of Modern Asian / [senior editor: Stephanie Kistner].
“The ultimate compendium of Asian food, this is the follow up to the best-selling cookbook, The Complete Book of Modern Classics. Modern Asian is the food we eat now – delicious little morsels to serve as finger food at parties, light piquant starters, some of which can also be served as lunch dishes. Main courses made from seafood, lean meat, chicken and duck, noodles and vegetables. Delicious side dishes which you can eat with non-Asian meals, and some wonderful desserts. Each chapter contains a ’star’ recipe – the one that has become so popular it’s now almost mainstream. It’s a beautiful book with recipes that will convert you to modern Asian food.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPizza / Pete Evans.
“Pete Evans has had a life long love affair with pizza. His mother would make them from scratch for him and his friends – dialling a delivery service was never an option – and he later trained with an Italian pizzaiolo so he could learn all the tricks of the pizza-maker’s trade. The pizza restaurant Pete founded in Sydney has won many prestigious awards. The more than 90 recipes in this book cover classic pizzas and more modern versions, and include breakfast pizzas, seafood pizzas, vegetarian pizzas and pizza desserts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlex Mackay’s Cookbook for Everybody, Everyday / photography by Peter Knab.
“Alex Mackay believes that cooking is an adventure and that good food should be for everyone. You don’t have to spend a fortune on hard-to-come-by ingredients or have an encyclopaedic knowledge of cooking methods to eat well and healthily. Alex knows that most of us shop in the supermarket and work from nine to five. The trick is to know a few basic recipes and to recreate them in different ways so that they never grow tired.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverHow to Bake / Paul Hollywood ; photography by Peter Cassidy.
“At last, the star of BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off reveals all the secrets of his craft in How to Bake. The son of a baker, Paul Hollywood is passionate about busting the myths that surround baking, sharing his finely honed skills, and showing that with the right guidance, anybody can achieve success time after time. With this in mind, he has filled this book with easy-to-follow, clearly explained, utterly delicious recipes.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverPie : 80+ Pies and Pastry Delights / Dean Brettschneider ; photography by Aaron McLean.
“Who can resist a steaming-hot home-baked pie? Whether it’s savoury or sweet, humble or gourmet, individual or family-sized, a tasty pie is an enduring Kiwi favourite. Pie: 80+ Pies and Pastry Delights unlocks the secrets to making a truly melt-in-your-mouth pie with its collection of meat pies, seafood pies and more.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Book of Burger / Rachael Ray ; photographs by Romulo Yanes.
“With nine No. 1 New York Times-best sellers, the queen of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) needs no introduction. This latest book collects over 200 of Food Network icon Ray’s favorite burgers, sliders, sandwiches, dogs, and sloppies, incorporating such ingredients as veal, pork, lamb, mushrooms, and swordfish.” (Library Journal)

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Sports, Fitness & Recreation

This month’s selection includes books on card games, golfing tips, fishing, rugby, football and more. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverGolf’s Moment of Truth : How to play under pressure and conquer the choke point / Robin Sieger.
“Whether amateur or Tour professional, every golfer will experience that crucial moment when victory hinges on just one shot. Make it, they win; blow it and they will re-live the memory on the golf course for years to come. They have arrived at their personal ‘moment of truth’. The question is: can they do it? The follow-up to his successful Silent Mind Golf, and second in a major new four-book series, this new title sees Robin Sieger explore the concept of ‘choking’ and apply his easy-to-grasp mental conditioning techniques to help golfers at all levels perform under pressure.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverUltimate Book of Card Games : The comprehensive guide to more than 350 card games / by Scott McNeely ; illustrations by Arthur Mount.
“Classic and comprehensive, this guide to over 350 games is sure to appeal to all ages. From Bridge to Poker and Solitaire to Hearts, card games are a beloved source of entertainment and competition (and they are recession proof!). This authoritative book is ideal for every household, college dorm, family cabin, or neighborhood bar that has a pack of cards……” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScratching the Horizon : A Surfing Life / Izzy Paskowitz with Daniel Paisner.
In 1956, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz stepped away from a successful medical practice and began a lifelong surfing odyssey that grew to include his wife Juliette, and their nine children. Together, the Paskowitz clan lived a vagabonding bohemian existence, eschewing material possessions in favor of intangible riches like health and good cheer … all the while careening along the world’s coastlines in search of the perfect wave. In Scratching the Horizon, Izzy Paskowitz looks back at his unusual upbringing, and his lifelong passion for the sport that carries his family’s stamp.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverEating Dirt : Adventures and Yarns from New Zealand’s Action Man / Steve Gurney.
“Steve recounts some of his recent extreme adventures – in the Sahara, on Mount Cook, and in other remote parts of the world. He also talks about his experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes which have impacted on him markedly. In true Gurney fashion, this book is part riveting story and part philosophy, all told with humour and style”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverThe Heart of Our Game : Players and Personalities in New Zealand Rugby / Steve Hale.
“Rugby has a special place in the hearts of most Kiwis. While other sports rise in popularity, scratch any one of us and there’ll be a rugby association somewhere not too far from the surface …. And behind every winning team there are the runners-up and an equally dedicated band of supporters, coaches, linesmen and referees who understand much about what it is to be a rugby player and a Kiwi. Steve Hale has been talking to one or two and he’s come up with 28 gems as a result. See what’s really going on in the sport that used to unite a nation, and can still fire up our passion. After all, it’s much than a game of two halves – it’s the game of our lives.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book cover365 Family Games and Pastimes / Martin & Simon Toseland.
“A year-round treasure trove of games, hobbies and pastimes — from cribbage and consequence through recipes and magic tricks, to sardines and forfeits. Easy-to-follow and jam-packed with activities for all ages, this is a book to dip into at any day of any season, but it is also a compendium to savour for years to come….” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverPole to pole : One Man, 20 Million Steps / Pat Farmer.
“In a feat that ranks with the brave and inspiring deeds of Scott of the Antarctic, Sir Edmund Hillary and Jessica Watson, famed Australian ultramarathon runner Pat Farmer did what no human has ever done: run from the North Pole to South Pole. His mission: to raise money for the Red Cross to fund water projects in the world’s neediest regions”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThere’s a Golden Sky : How twenty years of the Premier League have changed football forever / Ian Ridley.
“In its first 20 years the Premier League has moved football from a state of unprecedented crisis against a backdrop of recession, strikes and hooliganism to a global sport of unimaginable riches. To mark this anniversary Ian Ridley takes stock of a phenomenon that has changed English football and English society forever. Taking in the game at all levels and across the country, There’s A Golden Sky is a full picture of the game today with all its glitz and glamour, rags and riches.” (Global Books)

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Religion and beliefs

The philosophy of pluralism, the idea of sin, and the new field of Integral thought feature in the Beliefs books which were shipped to the library in the last month.

Syndetics book coverMana Māori and Christianity, edited by Hugh Morrison…[et al.]
“This book examines encounters between the Christian church and Māori. Christian faith among Māori changed from the missionary endeavours of Pākehā settlers, to the development of indigenous expressions of Christian faith, to partnerships between Māori and Pākehā in the mainline churches, and the emergence of Destiny Church. The book looks at the growth, development and adaptation of Christian faith among Māori people, and considers how that development has helped shape New Zealand identity and society. It explores questions of theology, historical development, socio-cultural influence and change, and the outcomes of Pākehā interactions with Māori.”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverGod in a brothel : an undercover journey into sex trafficking and rescue, by Daniel Walker.
“A New Zealand-trained police officer with a calling to rescue children from the clutches of the sex trade, Walker has written about the four-year period he worked as an undercover investigator for nonprofit organizations dedicated to combatting child sex slavery. … Walker describes operations he undertook to investigate and extricate poor children from horrific abuse and oppression. Unfortunately, Walker has chosen to change or obscure names, places, even the organizations he worked for. The result is an overly general account that will prevent readers from understanding the complexity of the issue. … The book’s strength lies in Walker’s very honest descriptions of the toll the work took on his marriage, his faith and his personal ethics. Evangelical Christians, for whom trafficking has become a hot issue, will surely appreciate it. (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe illustrated encyclopedia of Hinduism : a comprehensive guide to Hindu history and philosophy, its traditions and practices, magnificently illustrated with more than 470 magnificent photographs, by Rasamandala Das ; consultant, M. Narasimhachary.
“Hinduism is perhaps the oldest major religion. The comprehensive book explores its rich historical and cultural development, from its Indian roots to its vibrant application in the present, global context. Over 470 illustrations, plus a useful introduction, a clear timeline and a full glossary of Indian terms. This accessible book provides the perfect reference for anyone wishing to explore the compelling faith and culture that is Hinduism.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverMeditating selflessly : practical neural Zen, by James H. Austin.
This is not the usual kind of self-help book. Indeed, its major premise heeds a Zen master’s advice to be less self-centered. Yes, it is “one more book of words about Zen,” as the author concedes, yet this book explains meditative practices from the perspective of a “neural Zen.” The latest findings in brain research inform its suggestions. … [It] guides readers toward that open awareness already awaiting them on the cushion and in the natural world. … Drawing widely from the exciting new field of contemplative neuroscience, Austin helps resolve an ancient paradox: why both insight wisdom and selflessness arise simultaneously during enlightened states of consciousness. (drawn from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSin : the early history of an idea, by Paula Fredriksen.
“Fredriksen … traces the concept of sin through seven “evolutionary jumps” from the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the first century C.E., to Valentinus, Marcion, and Justin Martyr in the second century, to Origen of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo in the third to fifth centuries. Her carefully nuanced discussion emphasizes the different “worlds” or mental frameworks that influenced these thinkers, e.g., the Jewish world of Jesus as distinct from the Roman world of Paul, a diaspora Jew, and Jesus’s expectation of the imminent in-breaking of God’s kingdom …. VERDICT This is an erudite study of related ideas of sin, salvation, human destiny, the messianic role, and the influence of worldview and political context on conceptual ideas that those who ponder or teach such matters may well find rewarding. (drawn from Library Journal, courtesy of syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHow to pray : alone, with others, at any time, in any place, by Stephen Cottrell. (3rd ed.)
“How To Pray is a basic primer on prayer. It will get us started, keep us going and uses every stage of life and its varied events to renew and expand our understanding of being alive to God through prayer. Completely honest about the struggles and difficulties everyone encounters, it will help us discover how natural prayer is, even when we least feel like it… — www.amazon.com

Syndetics book coverThe great partnership : God, science and the search for meaning, by Jonathan Sacks.
Explores how religion has always played a valuable part in human culture and far from being dismissed as redundant, must be allowed to temper and develop scientific understanding in order for us to be fully human. … the author shows how the predominance of science-oriented thinking is embedded deeply even in our religious understanding, and calls on us to recognise the centrality of relationship to true religion, and thus to see how this core value of relationship is essential if we are to avoid the natural tendency for science to rule our lives rather than fulfilling its promise to set us free. (drawn from publisher’s description).

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Health

New books include the history, geography and medical use of 72 healing plants; 22 dementia stories to help gain deeper understanding of the condition; 10 tales from a psychotherapist perspective on therapeutic interactions; reflections on facing a dual diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer; what you may not already know about bloating and questions surrounding the root of human consciousness.”

Syndetics book coverPhi : a voyage from the brain to the soul / Giulio Tononi.
“Both playful and philosophical, this extravagant book addresses questions about the root of consciousness in a unique way to illustrate Tononi’s innovative view of consciousness in terms of information theory, the brain as an integrated network of signals….The book is a visual delight as well as an impressive read, its lavish artwork and literary references demonstrating just how fully complementary art and science can be.” (adapted from Publishers Weekly)

Syndetics book coverNational Geographic guide to medicinal herbs : the world’s most effective healing plants / Rebecca L. Johnson … [et al.]
“In this definitive guide, the authors provide information about the history, geography, and medical use for 72 healing plants, from ginger (for nausea) to arnica (for swelling and joint pain) to cayenne (for arthritis). Each herb is allotted four pages of text, sketches, and National Geographic-worthy photos, organized into chapters for mental health, the heart and circulation, the digestive system, joints and skin, urinary and male health, female health, and wellness…” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverMost of me : surviving my medical meltdown / Robyn Michele Levy
“Some memoirs are heartbreaking and some are hilarious, but very few manage to balance absurdity and honesty as does this title. Writer and artist Levy finds her dual diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer wickedly funny and this book is just that…. Anyone faced with uncertainty and struggle in the face of a life-changing disease, personal crisis, or just a bad day will find strength in Levy’s words.” (adpated form Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding gas and bloating : why can’t I do up my jeans at night? / Terry Bolin and The Gut Foundation.
“…This book explains a number of important facts about bloating, including: The bloating cycle; the process of digestion; the brain-gut axis; where the gases go; examining the link between gas and bloating; who is most susceptible and how bloating relates to other conditions.” (adapted from Global Books in Print)

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Personal Development

From creativity and happiness, to assertiveness and moving beyond suffering, take a look at these latest books for ideas and tools you can use in your life.

Syndetics book coverHappier at home : kiss more, jump more, abandon a project, read Samuel Johnson, and my other experiments in the practice of everyday life / Gretchen Rubin.
“In the spirit of the #1New York Timesbestseller ‘The Happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin embarks on a new project to make home a happier place. In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time and parenthood. Also, while Rubin wants to be happier at home, she wants to appreciate how much happiness is there already. So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicates a school year – September through May – to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort and love. Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions – and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well. With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverAssertiveness : what the most assertive people know, do and say / Dannie Lu Carr.
“Being assertive means that you are self-assured know what you want from life, are happy to stand up for yourself and have the respect of those around you. Do you want to be like this? This book will show you how! Practical and easy to read, it looks at what it means to be assertive in today’s world. As well as containing plenty of exercises and case studies, it also includes a personal plan which can be adapted by you to suit the issues you are facing.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe creativity cure : a do-it-yourself prescription for happiness / Carrie Barron and Alton Barron.
“Find a happy person, and you will find a project” wrote author and research psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. In this insightful book, husband-and-wife physicians Carrie and Alton Barron draw upon the latest psychological research, a combined forty years of medical practice, and personal experience to demonstrate the truth of that statement, revealing that creative action is integral to long-term happiness and wellbeing. The five steps of The Creativity Cure – Insight, Movement, Mind Rest, Using Your Own Two Hands, and Mind Shift lead the way to a more meaningful, fulfilling life by simultaneously developing self-understanding and self-expression. With the Barrons’ detailed tools and strategies for cultivating creative outlets, overcoming unconscious fears and barriers to happiness, and linking internal thought to external action, readers will build the mindset and habits for happiness and positive change. They will experience and learn how to sustain the deep satisfaction that accompanies creating something by hand. The perfect self-help book for our handmade, homemade, crafting culture, ‘The Creativity Cure’ has a simple yet profoundly inspirational message: that you can find the authentic, contented life you crave by taking happiness into your own two hands.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverNo storm lasts forever : transforming suffering into insight / Terry A. Gordon.
“As a cardiologist, Dr Terry Gordon dealt with life-and-death circumstances on a daily basis. He learned that life is precious and tenuous; it can change in an instant. Such a dramatic shift occurred when his son, Tyler, was involved in a car accident, sustaining a severe spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed. Leading his family through the experience, Terry’s journey resulted in a spiritual awakening to a clearer understanding of life and the truths it has to offer. Terry has learned that our experiences become calamities only if we make the conscious decision to make tragedies out of them. Rather than lamenting adversities, we can choose to be grateful for them, embracing them as gifts from the Divine. These gifts provide fertile soil for growth and enlightenment, offering us the opportunity to transform turmoil, disappointment and suffering into understanding, insight and resolve. These gifts, and how to bring them into your own life, are offered to you in No Storm Lasts Forever.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverTransforming negative self-talk : practical, effective exercises / Steve Andreas.
“Hearing critical or disapproving internal chatter is a common frustration. It can follow us around daily, calling into question our self-confidence, making us anxious or obsessive, and generally wreaking havoc on our sense of balance and well-being. In this user-friendly guide, an experienced clinician presents an array of original, take-charge exercises, which don’t suggest simply ignoring your ruminations. On the contrary, by learning how to change the way the words are spoken, the location of the voice, its tempo, tone, and volume, and stamp out generalizations, evaluations, and presuppositions, we can gain control of the downbeat voices and use them to our advantage.” – (adapted from Book cover summary)

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Fiction newsletter for September

Welcome to this month’s Fiction newsletter. We have a chosen the best new books from each fiction genre booklist, just to whet your reading appetite. To see more of our monthly selections, just click on read more. Enjoy.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

The selection of new contemporary fiction this month includes the latest novels by popular authors, Nicci French, Philippa Gregory and Andy McNab. Highly recommend is the translated novel titled, New Finnish Grammar by Italian Diego Marani, a truly amazing debut.

Syndetics book coverThe Kingmaker’s daughter / Philippa Gregory.
“The gripping and ultimately tragic story of Anne Neville and her sister Isabel, the daughters of the Earl of Warwick, the most powerful magnate in England. In the absence of a son and heir, he ruthlessly uses the two girls as pawns but they, in their own right, are thoughtful and powerful actors. Against the backdrop of the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne turns from a delightful child growing up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard Duke of York to become ever more fearful and desperate as her father’s enemies turn against her, the net closes in and there is, in the end, simply nowhere she can turn, no one she can trust with her life.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe Taliban Cricket Club / Timeri N. Murari.
” Set in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2000. Rukhsana supports her dying widowed mother and teenaged brother by writing stories secreted outside the country and published pseudonymously. But Rukhsana fears her journalistic cover is blown when summoned by Zorak Wahidi, head of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. He wants journalists to promote a cricket tournament in a misguided bid to win diplomatic accolades for the Taliban. Though woman are not allowed to compete, Rukhsana played cricket at college in India, and so disguises herself as a man to coach her brother and cousins in order to get them out of Afghanistan. But when Wahidi asks for Rukhsana’s hand in marriage, she must navigate dangerous social territory in an effort to remain free, and stay alive.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

This month’s selection includes the first volumes of three new series, Resurrection Man, Near Death, and The Strange Talent of Luther Strode. Also, the final volume, number 6, of the highly acclaimed Criminal series, titled The last of the Innocent.

Syndetics book coverResurrection Man. Volume one / Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, writers ; Butch Guice, artist. “Mitch Shelly can be killed, but every time he comes back, he has a different power, a new ability that sometimes is a blessing, sometimes a deadly curse. His deaths and rebirths leave him disoriented at first, and with the help of a newfound friend, Mitch discovers bits of his past, although the origin of his powers remains a mystery. Pursuing Mitch is a sociopath named Hooker; a test survivor like Mitch with one big difference, Hooker’s body is not repairing itself. Hooker wants the secret to Mitch’s rejuvenation, and he’s willing to tear the Resurrection Man limb from limb to get it.” (adapted from Amazon.com.)

Syndetics book coverThe last battle / written by Tito Faraci ; illustrated by Dan Brereton. “In 52 BC Gaul, Caesar’s forces lay siege to the barbarian stronghold of Alesia in one of the biggest battles in history; nearby, another barbarian army prepares to attack the Romans from behind, led by the rebel Cammius, who once fought for Rome. Caesar dispatches his greatest general, Caius Rodius, to track through the untamed countryside and bring back the rebel’s head. Who better to hunt Cammius than the man who taught him the very skills he now uses to defy Rome? Torn between duty and friendship, Rodius questions whether the Roman “road of stone and blood” is a path he still wants to follow.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

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Mysteries

Enjoy the latest mysteries that have landed on our shelves this month:

Syndetics book coverThe blind goddess / Anne Holt ; translated [from the Norwegian] by Tom Geddes.“A small-time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. A young Dutchman, walking aimlessly in central Oslo covered in blood, is taken into custody but refuses to talk. When he is informed that the woman who discovered the body, Karen Borg, is a lawyer, he demands her as his defender, although her specialty is civil, not criminal, law. A couple of days later, Hansa Larsen, a lawyer of the shadiest kind, is found shot to death. Soon police officers Håkon Sand and Hanne Wilhelmsen establish a link between the two killings… Their maverick colleague in the drugs squad, Billy T., reports that a recent rumor in the drug underworld involves drug-dealing lawyers. Now the reason why the young Dutchman insisted on having Karen Borg as a defender slowly dawns on them: since she was the one to find and report the body, she is the only Oslo lawyer that cannot be implicated in the crime. As the officers investigate, they uncover a massive network of corruption leading to the highest levels of government…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverBones are forever / by Kathy Reichs.
“In Reichs’ latest Temperance Brennan novel, the forensic anthropologist discovers the bodies of several babies in a seedy Montreal apartment. The babies appear to have been born to the same woman, an Edmonton prostitute who’s on an RCMP list of missing women (a list compiled as part of an investigation into a man who killed prostitutes). Brennan and Quebec cop Andrew Ryan fly out to Edmonton to try to track down the mother, and Brennan reunites with a local cop with whom she had a previous personal relationship. Although the writing equals Reichs’ customary quality, the novel’s pace is unusually slow; Brennan is normally juggling a couple of primary cases, with others intruding on her time, but here she’s mostly focused on a single investigation, and the story tends to drag on, rather than zipping from scene to scene. It’s not a bad book by any means and definitely should be recommended to fans of the series…(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

This month’s selection includes the first volumes in new series by Terry Brooks, Orson Scott Card and Australian writer Duncan Lay. Plus the highly recommended alternative history novel by Harry Turtledove, titled, Coup D’état, the second in his, The War Came Early series.

Syndetics book coverWards of Faerie : the dark legacy of Shannara / Terry Brooks.
“Celebrating the 35th anniversary of The Sword of Shannara, which launched a 20-volume bestselling saga, Brooks sets this dual-heroine quest immediately following the events of the High Druid of Shannara trilogy. There was an age when the world was young. It was a time before the coming of humans, a time when magic was the dominant power and it was named the age of Faerie. Ever since this time, a bitter war has been raging between the forces of good and evil. And it was during this age that the Elfstones protecting the Elven race disappeared. They have been missing for thousands of years. Now a clue to their location may have surfaced in the ancient diary of a princess, and it will be the beginning of an adventure that no-one could have anticipated.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverAwakening / William Horwood. “One momentous evening, events are set in motion that will decide the fate of our world and the Hyddenworld, a land lying alongside our own, concealed from human eyes. As earth tremors ravage the Hyddenworld, a child of two worlds is born, a lost gem is found and the Hyddenworld’s sleeping Emperor finally wakes. And he requires a powerful gem to sustain his stricken body and time-worn spirit. These events signal the end of a normal life for Jack and his daughter. Judith must find her path as a woman of two worlds, as her unwelcome destiny calls her to unite four powerful gems, so keeping the earth from darkness with their light. If she fails, both human and Hydden worlds will face extinction. To triumph, she must embrace the help of friends and the love of her greatest friend of all.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

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Other genres

This month’s selection of new fiction by New Zealand writers includes five debut authors, all wonderful examples of new emerging talent. These include from Wellington, Sue Fitzmaurice, Desiree Jury and Kirsten McDougall. Also the brilliant new novel by Kirsty Gunn, titled The Big Music.

Syndetics book coverA halo of strawberries / Thomas W Devine. “ This is a story of moral choices, of a man forced to confront the depths of despair and salvage his soul. Peter Nugent, theatre manager and former actor, struggles first with his conscience then with his heart.” (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe spaces between / Russell Haley. “Jervis Kraik is beaten up and stabbed in Auckland’s Fort Street. Hew wakes in Whare Moemoea, a dubious medical institution on Auckland’s North Shore. But was Jervis really attacked? And is Moira, Kraik’s nurse, there to help him or tempt him into …what?” (adapted from Book cover)

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