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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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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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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Mind and Body Newsletter for October

I read on Stuff that many New Zealanders are vitamin D deficient or, in other words, we’re not getting enough sunshine. So my suggestion is – please take this month’s diverse and interesting selection of Mind and Body titles and read them outside in the sun (which seems to be coming out in Wellington at last – hurrah!). Thanks.

Sports, Fitness & Recreation

Rugby fever is here, and our selection of new sports books this month certainly reflects it! Have a browse:

Syndetics book coverA History of the Rugby World Cup / Gerald Davies ; foreword by John Eales.
“In The History Of The Rugby World Cup, Wales and Lions legend and current correspondent for The Times, Gerald Davies gives a detailed analysis of the evolution of the tournament, providing commentary, statistics and interviews with those players and coaches who have battled it out for the ultimate prize.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRugby League Through the Decades : all the players, all the statistics– everything that’s happened in rugby league since 1907 / Ian Collis, Alan Whiticker.
“A celebration of each epoch of the game throughout Australian history. Including almost 1000 images, many never before published, rare memorabilia, season records and international details, it is completely up to the minute with chapters about recent events, new clubs and fresh controversy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRugby in Focus.
“Rubgy in Focus is a visual, historical record of the development and growth of the game, with background on more than a century of the most successful teams and the greatest matches, a players’ hall of fame, and a guide to the hallowed grounds where the game is played.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Complete Fishing Manual / Henry Gilbey.
“Explains the basics of fishing, including equipment, types of lure to use in freshwater or saltwater, different varieties of fish, and places to fish around the world.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSouth Island Trout Fishing Guide / John Kent ; photography by Patti Magnano Madsen.
“John Kent’s South Island Trout Fishing Guide is a comprehensive guide to the South Island’s incomparable trout fishing waters. More than 400 rivers and 150 lakes are described, along with their location, access, fishing season and appropriate techniques and flies. This book will be of special interest to anglers who enjoy the challenge of exploring and fishing new water.” (Global Books)

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Religion and beliefs

These are the latest beliefs and religion additions to the collection. It’s easy to reserve things online – just click on the title link next to the cover to check availability, then the link to reserve is at the top left hand side.

Syndetics book coverRock the Casbah : rage and rebellion across the Islamic world, by Robin Wright.
Wright posits that the Muslim world is currently experiencing a sentiment of counter-jihad, “a struggle within the faith itself to rescue Islam’s central values from a small but virulent minority.” In Part Two of the book, Wright examines the cultural significance of anti-extremism, from the lyrics of the Tunisian hip-hop artist El General, to the feminist interpretations of the Koran by Amina Wadud…. Wright is an expert on the subject and this book is an accessible and riveting account for readers looking to learn more about the post-9/11 Islamic world. (drawn from Publishers Weekly courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverGrowing up Amish : a memoir, by Ira Wagler.
This memoir offers a nuanced account from a man who straddled both Amish and “English” (non-Amish) worlds. Wagler recounts his Amish upbringing, from dating conventions and worship services to local gossip and schoolyard bullies. The simplicity of everyday life may seem quaint on the surface. Yet Wagler bravely goes on to expose pervasive dissatisfaction among both youth and adult Amish living in what he characterizes as a stifling, formulaic world. … The memoir is worthwhile as much for its Amish insights as for its exploration of one man’s emotional turmoil, regret, and shame. Wagler, who now works at a building and supply company in Lancaster County, Pa., deserves praise for his honesty.(drawn from Publisher’s Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

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Health

In our health recent picks for October: eating disorders (a guide for parents), a personal journey with diabetes, and disease maps and how they can help us to understand epidemics. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverLaugh with health / Manfred Urs Koch.“Laugh with health is the complete body system guide to health and healing. Now completely revised and updated, this practical, easy-to-use book includes unique food charts and vital health hints for everyday use, a detailed explanation of 36 essential vitamins and minerals, food combination charts for improved digestion and health, simple recipe ideas based on a full range of natural foods and specific natural food diets for various common health conditions. Recommended by medical doctors and naturopaths, laugh with health is everyone’s essential reference for living a life of health and wellbeing.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe core balance diet : 4 weeks to boost your metabolism and lose weight for good / Marcelle Pick ; with Genevieve Morgan.
“At its most basic level, the Core Balance Diet shows you how to self-diagnose one of six major biochemical imbalances that may be preventing you from losing weight. These include digestive, hormonal, adrenal, neurotransmitter, inflammatory, and detoxification imbalances. From there, Pick guides you through easy lifestyle and diet changes customized to heal your specific imbalance. Throughout, you will learn how to begin living in a manner that encourages optimal health -without a lot of deprivation and stringent dieting rules – by achieving core balance from the inside out, and, of course, weight loss for life.” (Global Books in Print)

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Personal Development

Spring is here! Take a fresh look at positive emotions, connections and belonging, well-being, and the journey of the soul – with a dash of intuition along the way…

Syndetics book coverTrue belonging : mindful practices to help you overcome loneliness, connect with others & cultivate happiness / Jeffrey Brantley, Wendy Millstine.
“When was the last time you experienced authentic connections with others, truly felt that you belonged, and were surrounded by people who really understood you? Even though many of us experience the power of deep connection much less often than we would like, this sense of true belonging is always available to us, regardless of our outside circumstances. True Belonging offers over thirty reflective practices that will help you explore your interdependence with all living things, treat yourself more kindly, and create richer connections with others.” (From the book cover)

Syndetics book coverBeyond wealth : the road map to a rich life / Alexander Green.
“Beyond Wealth by New York Times bestselling author Alexander Green is a blueprint for personal prosperity. But the rewards are more than just financial. The book reveals fail-proof, time-tested strategies to help you achieve maximum success in both your business and personal life. One of the nation’s highest-rated and most-admired investment analysts, Mr. Green offers ageless wisdom and a priceless perspective that draws on today’s best business minds as well as many of the world’s great philosophers from Ancient times right through to the Modern Era. Beyond Wealth is both a deeply inspiring read and a concrete plan that shows you the shortest and most direct route to what the author calls “True Wealth.” (Syndetics summary)

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