Chanel, Shoes and Fairytales – Fashion picks for August

Immerse yourself in fashion with our new picks for August – we have shiny new volumes on Chanel, shoes and fairytales, as well as an in-depth look at how the Second World War shaped and influenced women’s fashion.

Syndetics book coverChanel catwalk : the complete Karl Lagerfeld collections / introductionby Patrick Mauriès.
“Ever since his first show for the house in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel collections have consistently made headlines and dictated trends the world over. For the first time, every Chanel collection ever created by Lagerfeld is here gathered in a single volume – a unique opportunity to chart the development of one of the world’s most influential fashion brands and discover rarely seen collections. A treasure trove of inspiration, this richly illustrated publication will be the must-have reference for all fashion professionals and Chanel obsessives.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFashion on the ration : style in the Second World War / Julie Summers ; in partnership with Imperial War Museums.
“In September 1939, just three weeks after the outbreak of war, Gladys Mason wrote briefly in her diary about events in Europe: ‘Hitler watched German siege of Warsaw. City in flames.’ And, she continued, ‘Had my wedding dress fitted. Lovely.’For Gladys Mason, and for thousands of women throughout the long years of the war, fashion was not simply a distraction, but a necessity – and one they weren’t going to give up easily. In the face of bombings, conscription, rationing and ludicrous bureaucracy, they maintained a sense of elegance and style with determination and often astonishing ingenuity. As a nation went into uniform and women took on traditional male roles, clothing and beauty began to reflect changing social attitudes. For the first time, fashion was influenced not only by Hollywood and high society but by the demands of industrial production and the pressing need to ‘make-do-and-mend’. Beautifully illustrated and full of gorgeous detail, Fashion on the Ration lifts the veil on a fascinating era in British fashion.” (adapted from syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoreschi : the Italian art of shoemaking : works of art in leather / edited by Christina Morozzi ; text, Christina Morozzi.
“An exclusive look inside the world of Moreschi, one of the world’s most prestigious shoemakers. Moreschi is renowned for its exacting standards and unique style, and for producing each and every pair on-site, from the arrival of the leather to boxing and dispatching to stores. The art of shoemaking is detailed throughout this richly illustrated book. Through conversations with the founder, the artisans’ memories, and pictures of dozens of the factory’s creations, a story unfolds that confirms the vast heritage of artisan culture that lies behind Italian production.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFairy tale fashion / Colleen Hill.
“Dress plays a crucial role in fairy tales, signalling the status, wealth, or vanity of particular characters, and symbolizing their transformation. This is the first book to examine the history, significance, and imagery of classic fairy tales through the lens of high fashion. A comprehensive introduction to the topic of fairy tales and dress is followed by a series of short essays on thirteen stories. Generously illustrated, these stories are creatively and imaginatively linked to examples of clothing by Comme des Garc¸ons, Dolce and Gabbana, Charles James, and Alexander McQueen, among many others.” (adapted from syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSmart textiles for designers : inventing the future of fabrics / Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman.
“Smart Textiles for Designers introduces the different qualities and properties that can be embedded in, integrated with, and applied to fabrics, and looks at the different contexts in which these smart textiles can be used. A survey of specific fabrics grouped by properties provides a core reference section and a palette for the designer to work from. The book also examines five different design approaches and features interviews with leading designer and design teams, showing their processes and working methods. The first book to look at smart textiles through the eyes of a designer, this is both a core reference work and an inspirational guide for students and professionals alike.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSublime elegance : the timeless charm of evening gowns / text by Maria Maccari.
“These evening gowns made history–influencing the worlds of fashion, entertainment, and contemporary culture. Splendid images capture the rich detail of the fabrics and the evolution of styles and trends in women’s formal wear. These sublimely elegant dresses electrified the spectators at leading fashion shows and glittered at celebrity events. Organized by fabric color, these gowns will take readers on a kaleidoscopic journey into haute couture.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of dressing curves : the best-kept secrets of a fashion stylist / Susan Moses with Jelani Bandele ; foreword by Emme.
“The Art of Dressing Curves gives plus-size women the confidence and know-how to dress beautifully for their particular body shape. From foundation garments to wardrobe essentials to hair and makeup, Susan dispenses advice on every aspect of dressing well for one’s shape, size, and personality, insight supplemented by a wealth of elegant editorial photographs, anecdotes, tips, and sidebars, as well as lists of specialty retailers, designers, and websites that cater to plus-size.” (adapted from syndetics summary)

Religious reading : latest arrivals

August’s listed books are quite a mixed bunch, across a range of religions. However, they invite the reader to challenge their misconceptions, and look below the surface to think more deeply about our beliefs and moral decisions.

Syndetics book coverThe faith of Christopher Hitchens : the restless soul of the world’s most notorious atheist, by Larry Alex Taunton.
“Hitchens was a man of many contradictions: a Marxist in youth who longed for acceptance among the social elites; a peacenik who revered the military; a champion of the Left who was nonetheless pro-life, pro-war-on-terror, and after 9/11 something of a neocon; and while he railed against God on stage, he maintained meaningful – though largely hidden from public view – friendships with evangelical Christians like Francis Collins, Douglas Wilson, and the author Larry Alex Taunton…. Taunton traces Hitchens’s spiritual and intellectual development from his decision as a teenager to reject belief in God to his rise to prominence as one of the so-called “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheism.” (drawn from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIslam evolving : radicalism, reformation, and the uneasy relationship with the secular West, by Taner Edis.
“How is Islam adapting to the rapid changes of the 21st century? Despite political unrest and terrorism, the author argues that many Muslim societies are successfully developing their own versions of modern life. In contrast to the secular liberal model that prevails in the West, Islam is demonstrating alternative ways to be modern while maintaining a distinctly Muslim worldview. Professor Edis, an American physicist with a secular viewpoint who was raised in Turkey, is uniquely qualified to evaluate the interplay of modern trends and Islamic values. He devotes separate chapters to prominent examples of what he calls Islam’s “pious modernity.” … This balanced overview of Islam’s relationship with the modern world will be of interest to open-minded readers in both the West and the East.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBreak the norms : questioning everything you think you know about God and truth, life and death, love and sex, by Chandresh Bhardwaj.
“Have you ever felt like you’re living out a script written for you by others–in your work, your relationships, or spirituality? “To break through the norms we’ve been conditioned to believe is an act of rebellion,” writes Chandresh Bhardwaj. “We must be prepared to be brutally honest. We must overturn our assumptions and unlearn our suffering. We must be willing to discover our real reasons for being alive….Authenticity is inherent each of our souls. When we start to be authentic, we start to get back in touch with our divine source.” (drawn from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy be Jewish? : a testament, by Edgar M. Bronfman.
Completed just weeks before the author’s death, this charts his respect and love for his Jewish faith. This is a personal journey and walk through the main ideas and beliefs, explaining meanings and traditions gathered over a lifetime of study. He explains that even secular Judaism is still immersed in moral values derived from the ancient texts.

Syndetics book coverQueer virtue : what LGBTQ people know about life and love and how it can revitalize Christianity, by Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman.
“Christianity, at its scriptural core, incessantly challenges its adherents to rupture false binaries, to “queer” lines that pit people against one another. Thus, Edman asserts that Christianity, far from being hostile to queer people, is itself inherently queer. Arguing from the heart of scripture, she reveals how queering Christianity – that is, disrupting simplistic ways of thinking about self and other – can illuminate contemporary Christian faith. Pushing well past the notion that “Christian love = tolerance,” Edman offers a bold alternative: the recognition that queer people can help Christians better understand their fundamental calling and the creation of sacred space where LGBTQ Christians are seen as gifts to the church.” (Drawn from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAgnostic : a spirited manifesto, by Lesley Hazleton.
“Hazleton gives voice to the case for agnosticism, breaks it free of its stereotypes as watered-down atheism or amorphous “seeking,” and celebrates it as a reasoned, revealing, and sustaining stance toward life. Stepping over the lines imposed by rigid conviction, she draws on philosophy, theology, psychology, science, and more to explore, with curiosity and passion, the vital role of mystery in a deceptively information-rich world; to ask what we mean by the search for meaning; to invoke the humbling yet elating perspective of infinity; to challenge received ideas about death; and to reconsider what “the soul” might be.” (drawn from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhen awareness becomes natural : a guide to cultivating mindfulness in daily life, by Sayadaw U Tejaniya ; edited by Robert French ; foreword by Steven Armstrong.
“Meditation is great – but it’s not what Buddhist practice is all about. That’s the message of this engaging and funny Burmese Buddhist monk, and it’s a message that is finding a significant following among Westerners in the Insight Meditation tradition. Sayadaw U Tejaniya teaches how to bring awareness to any sort of activity in order to discover deep insight and liberation from suffering. It works in sitting meditation, but it works just as well when sorting the laundry or doing data entry. “My teachings are nothing new,” he says. “They are, as always, based on the four foundations of mindfulness: awareness of the body, awareness of feelings and sensations, awareness of mind, and understanding of dhamma or nature, i.e., mind and matter.” (drawn from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTears to triumph : the spiritual journey from suffering to enlightenment, by Marianne Williamson.
“The internationally recognized teacher, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of A Return to Love argues that our desire to avoid pain is actually detrimental to our lives, disconnecting us from our deepest emotions and preventing true healing and spiritual transcendence. Marianne Williamson is a bestselling author, world-renowned teacher, and one of the most important spiritual voices of our time. In Tears to Triumph, she argues that we – as a culture and as individuals – have learned to avoid facing pain. By doing so, we are neglecting the spiritual work of healing” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverRuthless : Scientology, my son David Miscavige, and me, by Ron Miscavige, with Dan Koon.
“The only book to examine the origins of Scientology’s current leader, RUTHLESS tells the revealing story of David Miscavige’s childhood and his path to the head seat of the Church of Scientology told through the eyes of his father. Ron Miscavige’s personal, heartfelt story is a riveting insider’s look at life within the world of Scientology.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover30-second religion : the 50 most thought-provoking religious beliefs, each explained in half a minute, editor, Russell Re Manning ; contributors, Richard Bartholomew…[et al.]
As the title explains, this is not an in-depth study. It is designed to be a quick intro to the main beliefs and history of the major religions from around the world, allowing easy comparison across their main tenets, beliefs and practices, which can be an aid to further research.

Story in Science : latest picks

Scientific writing can take many forms, and these latest arrivals to the collection are evidence of a happy marriage of science and story-telling. Muse on personal stories behind big inventions, the biographies of three very different scientists, or the challenge of explaining complex stuff using only the 1,000 most popular words in our language.

Syndetics book coverHouston, we have a narrative : why science needs story, by Randy Olson.
“Hollywood has a lot to teach scientists about how to tell a story – and, ultimately, how to do science better.” In this book Olson sketches out a blueprint to turn the dull into the dramatic. He first outlines the problem that when scientists tell us about their work, they pile one detail on top of another. But they need to understand the core of narrative – momentum (“And”), conflict (“But”), and resolution (“Therefore”) (or ABT). Taking this approach, audiences sit enthralled for hours (watching TED talks on youtube?).

Syndetics book coverThe invention of science : a new history of the scientific revolution, by David Wootton.
We live in a world made by science. How and when did this happen? This book tells the story of the extraordinary intellectual and cultural revolution that gave birth to modern science, and mounts a major challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy of its history. … “[this] is a truly remarkable piece of scholarship. His work has an ingenious and innovative linguistic foundation, examining the invention and redefinition of words as tracers of a new understanding of nature and how to approach it. His erudition is awesome, and his argument is convincing.” Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University.

Syndetics book coverThe human side of science : Edison and Tesla, Watson and Crick, and other personal stories behind science’s big ideas, by Arthur W. Wiggins and Charles M. Wynn Sr. ; with cartoon commentary by Sidney Harris.
“”This lively and humorous book focuses attention on the fact that science is a human enterprise. The reader learns about the foibles and quirks as well as the admirable ingenuity and impressive accomplishments of famous scientists who made some of the greatest discoveries of the past and present. Examples abound: Robert Hooke accused Isaac Newton of stealing his ideas about optics. Plato declared that the works of Democritus should be burned. …book takes the reader behind the scenes of scientific research to shine new light on the all-too-human people who “do” science.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenguins, pineapples & pangolins : first encounters with the exotic, by Claire Cock-Starkey.
Can you remember the first time you saw an elephant? In these modern times every child has seen a video clip, or a photo at the very least, of far away animals or plants. But, if we travel back in time a few hundred years, to the age of exploration or before trades routes became more frequented, people were discovering new animals, food or other cultures for the first very first time – with absolutely no frame of reference. Based on stories gleaned from the British Library archives, this new book reflects the awe and wonder these fresh encounters.

Syndetics book coverThe man who knew infinity : a life of the genius Ramanujan, by Robert Kanigel.
“In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the preeminent English mathematician’s opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Realizing the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England. Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled. With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University, where the devout Hindu Ramanujan, “the Prince of Intuition,” tested his brilliant theories alongside the sophisticated and eccentric Hardy, “the Apostle of Proof.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProf : Alan Turing decoded : a biography, by Dermot Turing.
If you enjoyed the Imitation Game, dip into this biography of Alan Turing by his nephew, Sir Dermot Turing. We meet him in the film as mathematician, codebreaker, computer scientist, and as a war hero underestimated and mistreated by his own country. This is a fresh look at the influences on Alan Turing’s life and creativity, and the later creation of a legend. This is a unique family perspective drawing on sources only recently released to the UK National Archives, including photos.

Syndetics book coverA numerate life : a mathematician explores the vagaries of life, his own and probably yours, by John Allen Paulos.
“In this fluid and varied memoir, Paulos, professor of mathematics at Temple University, calls into question the accuracy of the stories people craft about others’ lives and their own. From a mathematical standpoint, he tackles subjects such as the deceptiveness of the concept of normal, the nuances that exist within one’s sense of self, and the inevitability of encountering coincidences. Delving into psychology, philosophy, statistics, and logic, Paulos reveals the far-reaching applications of mathematical thought in people’s lives as well as how they record and remember past events. Rather than adopting the pointed structure of a persuasive essay, Paulos chases down tangents and relates his own experiences, with nostalgia.” (drawn from Publishers Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThing explainer : complicated stuff in simple words, by Randall Munroe.
Randall Munroe has set himself a tricky task – to explain things using only drawings and a vocabulary of only our 1,000 most common words. Yes, that’s right, only 1,000. So although it fits into the ‘How do things work?’ answers reading shelf, this approach is worth reading for his choices of words and language. If you’ve ever had to explain how a micro-wave really works to a young child, then you’ll recognise the book’s value.

Syndetics book coverServing the Reich : the struggle for the soul of physics under Hitler, by Philip Ball.
Many scientists had to make compromises and concessions as they continued to work under the Nazi regime, such as world-renowned physicists Max Planck, Peter Debye and Werner Heisenberg. This is a tale of moral choices – the dilemmas, the failures, the interference in their work, questions of responsibility and three very human stories of people struggling to navigate living in a very different world than they imagined.

Syndetics book coverA survival guide to the misinformation age : scientific habits of mind, by David J. Helfand.
“We live in the Information Age, with billions of bytes of data just two swipes away. Yet how much of this is mis- or even disinformation? A lot of it is, and your search engine can’t tell the difference. As a result, an avalanche of misinformation threatens to overwhelm the discourse we so desperately need to address complex social problems such as climate change, the food and water crises, biodiversity collapse, and emerging threats to public health. This book provides an inoculation against the misinformation epidemic by cultivating scientific habits of mind. Anyone can do it – indeed, everyone must do it if our species is to survive on this crowded and finite planet.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret life of space, by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest.
The authors share stories that Stonehenge was built to celebrate the winter solstice rather than the summer, the telescope was not invented by Galileo, Einstein did not predict the presence of black holes or the Big Bang. Read about the sanitary engineer who found evidence of life on Mars, and other little known scientific heroes.

Passwords to Paradise : Beliefs books

A fascinating and detailed work on the influence of language and linguistics on the development of religions across the ages is featured in this month’s latest arrivals together with a thoughtful treatment on globalisation by Miroslav Volf.

Syndetics book coverLife’s too short to pretend you’re not religious, by David Dark.
Religion is often a forbidden topic in conversation. Some prefer the word “spirituality” which doesn’t have quite the same association with ritual, self-righteousness, or hypocrisy. But religion includes the stories that make up a person’s values and beliefs. Dark illuminates how thoughts are handed down to us, what we judge to be essential, and argues a convincing case for religion’s place in modern society.

Syndetics book coverFlourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World, by Miroslav Volf.
In this perceptive and thoughtful book, a leading theologian discusses how world religions and globalization have interacted across the centuries, but what ought their relationship to be? How do we judge globalization – how well it enables us to live out our authentic humanity? Despite their flaws, religions remain one of our most powerful sources of moral motivation and renewal. The ongoing process of reform in religions needs to shape globalization to encourage people to flourish at every level.

Syndetics book coverPasswords to paradise : how languages have re-invented world religions, by Nicholas Oster.
“Ostler (The Last Lingua Franca) roams across several millennia of world history and delves into precise linguistic shifts looking for clues to how the “missionary religions” of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam have been affected by the new language communities they entered. [He demonstrates how] they may have been altered not only by the imperfect art of translation but by their social, political, and military contexts. … For those fascinated by linguistic transitions, this impressive study is a feast. (drawn from Publisher’s Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverPutting God second : how to save religion from itself, by Rabbi Donniel Hartman.
“Rabbi Donniel Hartman tackles one of modern life’s vexing questions: Why are the great monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – chronically unable to fulfill their own self-professed goal of creating individuals infused with moral sensitivity and societies governed by the highest ethical standards?” He observes that the primary focus of a relationship with God can distract religious believers from their own traditions’ ethics. So he argues that decency toward one’s neighbour must always take priority over acts of religious devotion.

Syndetics book coverThe surrender experiment : my journey into life’s perfection, Michael A. Singer.
Shares stories from the author’s pursuit of enlightenment, from his years as a hippie introvert and successes as a computer engineer through his work in humanitarian efforts, counseling readers on how to navigate confusing aspects in the spiritual journey, with lessons on how to put aside conflicting beliefs, let go of worries, and transform misdirected desires. Singer provides a road map to a new way of living not in the moment, but to exist in a state of perpetual happiness.

Syndetics book coverPagan planet : being, believing & belonging in the 21st century, edited by Nimue Brown.
“What does it mean to live as a Pagan in this uncertain world of climate change, economic hardship and worldwide social injustice? What does it mean to hold nature as sacred when ravaging the land is commonplace? How do we live our Paganism in our families and homes, our communities and countries? Pagans are stepping up in all kinds of ways. … This is a book of grass-roots energy, of walking your talk and the tales of people who are, by a vast array of means, engaged with being the change they wish to see in the world.” (drawn from the publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe heaven promise : engaging the Bible’s truth about life to come, by Scot McKnight.
“Heaven. Eternity. The Afterlife. Mention any of these concepts, and people of all ages and from all walks of life are certain to have opinions. Maybe that’s why there are so many books and movies that feature heaven-and-back experiences. …. Separating fact from fiction, McKnight helps the reader examine the over-arching story of scripture in order to discover what awaits us. Heaven isn’t the construction of a fairy-tale or some mythical narrative. It’s …the fulfilment of God’s promise to us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBrand Luther : 1517, printing, and the making of the Reformation, by Andrew Pettegree.
“Pettegree illustrates Luther’s great gifts not simply as a theologian, but … as the world’s first mass-media figure, its first brand. He recognized the power of pamphlets, written in the colloquial German of everyday people, to win the battle of ideas. … Luther had a partner in the form of artist and businessman Lucas Cranach, who together with Wittenberg’s printers created the distinctive look of Luther’s pamphlets. Together, Luther and Cranach created a product that spread like wildfire.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Emmaus code : finding Jesus in the Old Testament, by David Limbaugh.
This made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2015. Limbaugh takes as his starting point a meeting between Jesus and two travellers where the former began discussing “Moses and all the prophets” to explain to them what was already in the (OT) Scriptures about himself. The reader is taken on a journey through all 39 OT books to reveal Jesus Christ and God’s meta-narrative.

Syndetics book coverShi’i Islam : a beginner’s guide, by Moojan Momen.
“Provides readers with an accessible and insightful introduction to the Shi’i branch of Islam, from its beginnings after the death of the Prophet Muhammad through to the present day. As well as providing a historical overview, the book also introduces readers to Shi’i doctrines and practices, explains the key differences between the Shi’i and Sunni branches of Islam, and addresses the role and position of women within Shi’i communities.” (drawn from publisher’s description)

New CDs for March

Exciting new CDs feature from the up-and-coming talents such as Savages and Grimes to the rock legend Neil Young. The Roy Orbison’s 13 CDs-set has been added to our extensive box set collection. Fantastic new music keeps coming. Check them out here, and reserve the items you like.

B016Z8K7US_02___SCMZZZZZZZ_Savages – Adore life
“Savages’ second album Adore Life was recorded in RAK Studios, London in April 2015. Johnny Hostile was the producer and Richard Woodcraft the engineer. Anders Trentemoller took care of the mixing in Copenhagen. All songs were written and played by Savages – Ayşe Hassan (bass), Fay Milton (drums), Gemma Thompson (guitar), Jehnny Beth (vocals). Lyrics by Jehnny Beth.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

cover imageGrimes – Art angels
“Grimes already defied easy classification on Visions, a collection of dreamy electronic collages that resembled pop just enough to make it one of 2012’s most acclaimed albums. When she returned three years later with Art Angels, her music was even more paradoxical; Claire Boucher’s fourth album is wilder, more ambitious, and — at least on the surface — more accessible than her breakthrough.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

cover imageTindersticks – The waiting room
“Tindersticks release their new album ‘The Waiting Room,’ a milestone not just numerically, but musically and creatively. Their first studio album since 2012’s critically acclaimed ‘The Something Rain’ (9/10 DiS, 8.1 pitchfork, 8/10 the Quietus, 8/10 DIY, 4/5 Guardian, 4/5 Independent on Sunday, 4/5 Uncut, 4/5 Q, 4/5 Observer) is the most ambitious, diverse and elaborate album you’ll have heard from Tindersticks in recent years. 2 decades into their musical voyage Tindersticks, established masters of restraint and poetic human emotion, are a band now confidently making the best songs of their career.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

cover imageMegadeth – Dystopia
“Dystopia, the 15th studio album by metal legends Megadeth, is mostly an aggressive return to thrash. Written over nearly two years, the band recorded 14 songs for the set, but included 11 on the standard edition.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageNeil Young – Bluenote Café
“Neil Young has announced that the latest Performance Series release from the Neil Young Archives is Bluenote Café. The album collects various performances captured during Neil’s 1988 tour. This superb live 2-CD set documents one of Young’s most funky and heartfelt periods and features seven unreleased songs: “Soul of a Woman,” “Bad News Comes to Town,” Ain’t it the Truth,” “I’m Goin’,” “Crime of the Heart,” “Doghouse,” “Fool for Your Love,” and a searing 19+ minute version of the immortal “Tonight’s the Night” from The Pier in New York City.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageMiguel – Wildheart
“•A complete anthology of Miguel’s featured appearances released — or disseminated, as the freaky wordplay lover might call it — between Kaleidoscope Dream and this would be assorted, to say the least. It would include appearances on a crop of major R&B and rap songs, a cover of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” and a highlight turn on Hudson Mohawke’s Lantern. A few of the extracurricular moves pointed toward his next solo step, but the clues remained clearest in the darker corners of Kaleidoscope Dream.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

cover imageJeremih – Late nights : the album
“The great magnitude of Jeremih’s extracurricular successes, combined with slips the singer pinned on himself and his label, made the five-year separation between All About You and Late Nights: The Album an odd one. It’s apparently truer to Jeremih’s vision than his first two albums, though only the most attentive listening reveals an artist with more dimensions — or more vocal ability — than the one who sang “Birthday Sex” and “Down on Me.”” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageSia – This is acting
“This Is Acting, a collection of songs originally written for — and rejected by — clients such as Adele, Rihanna, and Beyonc. But as the album title hints, there’s more going on here than recycling. Sia’s skill at crafting songs full of drama and vulnerability that feel real, no matter how loud they get, is in full force on This Is Acting.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

RecentPicks1Suede – Night Thoughts
“Night Thoughts is a quintessentially Suede title: specific yet vague, a notion that seems either romantic or sad depending on perspective. Twenty years, a decade of which was spent in a split, certainly has shifted Suede’s perspective, particularly that of leader Brett Anderson. With that past behind them, Suede can still dwell on big issues of love and mortality, but now that the past is in perspective, it all means a little bit more and what lies ahead is a little more precious, and that wide view makes Night Thoughts all the more moving.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Cover imageRoy Orbison – The M.G.M. years – 1965-1973
“This MGM Years box set is a summation of that marvelous work 13 full-length albums including the long sought-after The Fastest Guitar Alive soundtrack (Roy starred in the film) and a new collection of B-Sides & singles that have never before appeared on a full-length Roy Orbison album. This collection is the largest compilation of Orbison music to date.” (adapted from amazon.com)

New Sport & Fitness books

Sporting enthusiasts and armchair sports people alike will find something to inspire them in this month’s picks.

Syndetics book coverThe Surf Girl Guide to Surf Fitness : an inspirational guide to fitness & well-being for girls who surf / editor, Louise Searle.
“Wish you could catch more waves when you go surfing? Wish you could surf for 90 minutes or more each session? Wish you could improve the power of your manoeuvres and really throw some spray? The Surf Girl Guide To Surf Fitness is a new book aimed at girl surfers of all ages and abilities, from beginner to pro. Illustrated with step-by-step exercises and packed with tips and advice, the book offers a complete training program which will increase your fitness, power and endurance for surfing” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOut of the Rough / Steve Williams with Michael Donaldson.
“One of the most successful caddies of the modern era, having amassed 150 wins, Kiwi Steve Williams has worked with some of the golfing world’s best, including 13 years on the bag of Tiger Woods. Together, Woods and Williams won more than 80 tournaments – with 13 major championships among them.
In this candid reflection on his years caddying for Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Terry Gale, Ian Baker-Finch and Adam Scott, Williams shares the highs and lows of their careers, explains the critical role of a caddy and offers a rare insider’s view of the professional golfing world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe World’s Toughest Races : from the most extreme to the downright weird / Ali Clarke.
“What do canal jumping, swimming among sharks and running 251 kiometres in the Sahara Desert have in common? They’re some of the wackiest, toughest and most extreme manpower races and challenges ever dreamt up. This fact-packed miscellany is bursting with all the details, statistics and anecdotes of the world’s most unusual competitions and intense endurance contests. Whether you’re an armchair thrill seeker or determined to push your limit, this book will entertain and inspire.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Illustrated Handbook of Kayaking, Canoeing & Sailing : includes invaluable advice, guidelines and information covering every aspect of each sport, with over 1500 images including step-by-step instructional sequences / Bill Mattos and Jeremy Evans.
“Kayaking, canoeing and sailing are exhilarating, demanding and hugely enjoyable outdoor pursuits. This practical guide offers a comprehensive introduction to all three sports, for those at all levels of experience and ability. All aspects of each sport are covered, from basic information on equipment and where best to sail or paddle, to expert tuition on the core skills and techniques you will need – such as launching, rigging, tacking, paddling, capsizing and rescue. Packed with expert advice, professional hints and tips and illustrated with more than 1500 photographs and diagrams, this book contains everything you need to know about these thrilling aquatic sports.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Beginner’s Guide to Adventure Sport in New Zealand / Steve Gurney.
“A highly illustrated book for beginners in the rapidly growing world of adventure sport… Instructional and highly illustrated, this is a beginner’s book of adventure sport for all ages. It features pursuits to make the most out of New Zealand’s great outdoors and get you all set up for a lifetime of adventure. …this book has important information on the right gear you’ll need for the right pursuit and the essentials of survival in unpredictable environments”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverSkate the World : photographing one world of skateboarding / Jonathan Mehring ; foreword by Tony Hawk.
“Hit the streets with 200 exhilarating photographs of the world’s greatest professional skateboarders in action. In this dynamic collection, award-winning photographer Jonathan Mehring takes us from New York to Hong Kong to Istanbul and beyond as he sets out to capture the heart and soul of skate culture on six continents.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo Hell on a Bike : riding Paris-Roubaix : the toughest race in cycling / Iain MacGregor.
“Paris-Roubaix is the best race in the world and knocks spots off the Tour de France.’ Sir Bradley Wiggins. Paris-Roubaix. The Hell of the North. The ultimate monument in cycling’s Classics. More than 150 miles across dusty or muddy roads, much of it puncture-inducing and bone-breaking cobblestones. Even professional riders blanche at the very mention of it. With insights from legends of the sport, trainers, mechanics and fellow writers, as well as those who have maintained the traditions of Paris-Roubaix since its inception over a century ago, it is the ultimate story of the ultimate cycling challenge.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarriors on Horseback : the inside story of the professional jockey / John Carter.
“A remarkable and riveting insight into the lives of jockeys. This book celebrates these warriors on horseback, both the old and the new, highlighting the headline performers for jump racing and flat racing in the last five centuries as well as taking the reader on a behind-the-scenes look at the lifestyle of professional jockeys in the 21st century.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrictly ballroom : tales from the dancefloor / Diana Melly.
“Two years ago, at the age of 72, Diana Melly took up ballroom dancing. She was suffering from bereavement, having recently lost her husband George to dementia, and was told that dancing might help. It has done much more than that, opening up a whole new chapter in her life. Ballroom dancing turns out to be incredibly good for you — a complex activity which not only flexes unexpected muscles but rewires the brain, increasing serotonin levels and reducing stress. A recent study in America found that the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing. In this delightful and gently humorous book, Diana Melly takes us on an eye-opening tour of dance halls up and down the country, introducing us to everything from tango to swing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBecoming a Mountain : Himalayan journeys in search of the sacred and the sublime / Stephen Alter.
“Stephen Alter was raised by American missionary parents in the hill station of Mussoorie, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where he and his wife, Ameeta, now live. Their idyllic existence was brutally interrupted when four armed intruders invaded their house and viciously attacked them, leaving them for dead. This book is his account of a series of treks he took in the high Himalayas following his convalescence-to Bandar Punch (the monkey’s tail), Nanda Devi, the second highest mountain in India, and Mt. Kailash in Tibet….Undertaken out of sorrow, the treks become a moving soul journey, a way to rediscover mountains in his inner landscape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Minecraft Guide for Parents : down-to-earth advice for parents of children playing Minecraft / Cori Dusmann.
“This book helps you understand exactly what Minecraft® is, why kids love it, and why it may offer much more than what you’ve come to expect from a game. A Parent’s Guidebook to Minecraft® is written for parents, caregivers, educators, and anyone else who has kids swept up in the Minecraft® phenomenon. This handbook explains how to install, set up, and play the game, so that even adults with minimum computer literacy can step in and help their children-and play alongside them…With a simple, friendly, and open style, A Parent’s Guidebook to Minecraft® offers practical help and new ways to connect with children who play this exciting and creative game.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Kerry’s Fiction Picks

This week’s picks are a selection of debut novels, including one that’s from an acclaimed Chinese writer making their English debut and another that’s actually by two popular writers who’ve combined skills to make one new ‘author’.

Syndetics book coverFrench Concession
This is by an acclaimed Chinese novelist and though this book didn’t sell exceptionally well in China it’s success is that it has a Western publishing deal.  It’s pitched as a literary noir and is very fitting with the current taste for espionage.  The story is set in 1930s Shanghai and involves “an electrifying, decadent world of love, violence, and betrayal filled with femme fatales, criminals, revolutionaries, and spies.” (Amazon).  It’s about Hseuh a Franco-Chinese photographer, his fascination with the beautiful, but missing Leng , his relationship with his lover Therese and a very complicated plot.  But then what do you expect from a spy novel?!

Syndetics book coverThe hand that feeds you : first and All Subsequent : a novel / A.J. Rich.
This one is by authors Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment.  They have combined forces to produce an exciting psychological thriller, which isn’t anything too different plot-wise.  Morgan is completing her thesis at a college of criminal justice and engaged to Bennett.  One day she returns home to find Bennett dead and slowly she uncovers that he wasn’t who he said he was.  She is not his only finance and he begins to looks more and more like a sociopath.  Then his other girlfriends start to be murdered and Morgan has to put her skills and knowledge to the test to solve the mystery of Bennett and save her own life.  Says Amazon “Unsettling and highly suspenseful, this is a brilliant collaboration between two outstanding writers”.

Syndetics book coverThe Swede / Robert Karjel ; translation from the Swedish by Nancy Pick and Robert Karjel.
This book caused a sensation at the Frankfurt book fair and the TV rights have already been sold.  Pretty good for a debut novel!  It’s by a Swedish author Robert Karjel, who’s a former member of the Swedish air force.  The book is described as a literary thriller.  It’s about a Swedish secret service agent who goes to an American military base in the Atalantic Ocean to interview a detainee, at the request of a CIA agent.  From there his investigation takes him from the Thailand tsunami to terrorist attacks to Kansas, along the way he learns that things aren’t as he seems.  “The Swede fuses the psychological tension of Jo Nesbø’s thrillers with the gripping international intrigue of I Am Pilgrim and Red Sparrow.” (Amazon)

Syndetics book coverThe Watchmaker of Filigree Street
This novel is set in the nineteenth century, in Victorian London and Japan.  It’s the debut work for Natasha Pulley, who’s only 24.  The story is about Thaniel who finds a tiny watch on his bed after he returns home on evening.  How it got there and who put it there is a mystery.  But even more mysterious are the events that are put into action after he discovers the watch.  He meets up with it’s maker Keita Mori, a Japanese man, who takes Thaniel on a journey through different times and destinies.  “Electrifying . . . a triumph of speculative fiction. It captures the frenetic energy of a world undergoing extraordinary changes” (Publisher’s Weekly)

Kerry’s Fiction Picks

Three distinctly different books for this set of ‘picks’. I suppose you could call them genre fiction – one Chinese science fiction, then more scifi in the form of a romance by a well known chick-lit author, and a good old American western with a twist.

Syndetics book coverThe three-body problem / Cixin Liu ; translated by Ken Liu.
Liu Cixin is a well regarded and award winning Chinese author and this book is his first English language translation.  It is the first instalment in his apocalyptic space opera trilogy.  It sounds fantastic!  He has received a lot of press too in the English speaking media as he is so successful in China (here’s a great piece from the New York Times).  The story is set during the Cultural Revolution and centres around a government space program that is attempting to communicate with aliens.  Ye Wenjie is a woman who is so disgusted by the atrocities she sees committed by the regime she hijacks the program and uses it to encourage aliens to attack earth.  “This is a must-read in any language” (Booklist).

Syndetics book coverResistance is futile
Jenny Colgan is better known as a successful chick-lit writer, and this is her new book described as a scifi rom-com.   One of the oddest book genre mash-ups ever possibly?  But it definitely sounds great!  (Apparently Colgan is a huge fan of the romances that often appear in the scifi  genre).  Briefly, this story is about a mathematician who discovers an alien intelligence and falls in love with it.  Connie is the mathematician and she is working with Luke on a secret code breaking project, but just what the code is for and who Luke is becomes what Connie’s keen to unravel.

Syndetics book coverThe Winter family / Clifford Jackman.
This is another genre mixing novel, although mainly a western, it’s also described as noir or horror.  It is extremely violent, so watch out!  It follows a group of outlaws as they travel across America during the 1860s to 1880s.  They have their start in the Civil War, a group of scouters working ahead of Sherman’s army, following Augustus Winter, their ruthless leader.  It ultimately ends with a bloody showdown in Oklahoma Territory.  Says Amazon ”  With its haunting, hard-edged style, The Winter Family is a feverishly paced meditation on human nature, violence and the deep contradictions of progress.”